A Note of Encouragement

Recently, my friend Paula tagged me on Facebook to a post on a page called “The Weigh We Were“, created by Kat Carney, who shared my story. Thank you Kat! I was very touched reading everyone’s comments; others just like me who are in various stages of their own journey to reclaim their life.

If you stumbled across my blog and are new here, welcome!

This is me…then. and now.

Chrissy 10 years

It was on my heart this morning to write a post to those who are just starting out on their own health journey, or maybe you are struggling within it. I clearly remember the confusion and frustration that surrounded the first few months into this lifestyle. What should I eat, how much should I exercise, is this even working, why does the scale hate me?

As cliché as this sounds, there is no truer statement: If I can do it, anyone can.

A little over a decade ago, when I made the decision to tackle my health issues, I was as sedentary as I could possibly be. I would have picked things up with one of those little robot arms if I had one. I would scooter places if I in fact owned a scooter. I would have jumped on the back of anyone climbing stairs if it was socially acceptable. You see..I don’t know how I got there, I somehow lost myself within raising kids, working, and juggling responsibilities as my hubby worked away for weeks at a time. I buried it all within food, never in front of anyone. I shut people out. I was in my own self-created world of self-loathing. I lived within a frame that I didn’t feel was my own. I felt trapped and alone. I didn’t see then that I had a “get out of jail free” card right at my finger tips. I didn’t know the strength of my spirit.

I can remember every single feeling from that old life, and that’s why I’m so passionate about uplifting, encouraging, and motivating others who just might relate. So if you can relate, here are a few words of encouragement from my heart to yours…

~You can absolutely do this! If your goal is a big one, please don’t get discouraged. Break it up into small manageable goals and give yourself permission to feel pride. True pride that you earned. Small step or not, it’s a step forward. Any step forward is a positive one.

~Positive Out, Positive In.  When you put out the positive it just can’t help but come back to you. Rather than looking for positive, it’s completely within your control to create it. Just be. And then watch how positivity comes flooding back multiplied. It’s crazy how that works, but it does.

~No more making excuses for destructive behaviour. This was a big one for me. I always had an excuse why it wasn’t the right time or I would blame others for my choices. I’m too busy. My kids need me. I have no energy. Others bring junk food into my house. And on and on the wheel of excuses rolled. When I made no room for excuses, I had no other choice but to just do it. Get off the couch and move. Stop eating my issues way. Because the truth was, and continues to be, my kids need me to be healthy. They need me to have energy (which I now realize I created the no-energy state I used to live in). And most importantly they need me to be a role model. The idea that my kids would one day grow up and not truly experience the beauty of life within love, energy, and vibrance is a devastating thought. Why was I settling for that as my reality? What was I scared of?

~Change the way you view your goals. It’s importantly to have tangible and attainable goals, but what exactly are they? If it’s a certain size or number on the scale, that leaves you vulnerable to failure. What if you changed your goals to healthy/fitness goals? Even if your end goal is a number on the scale, if you incorporate health and fitness goals as well and put significance on them, you are setting yourself up for success. These goals might be: run for 1 minute straight…which turns into 2 minutes, to 5 minutes, to 10 minutes, etc. Or I will drink 8 glasses of water daily. Or I will walk 12,000 steps daily. Or I will eat 5-7 servings of veggies daily. Or I will cut out pop and creamer in my coffee…pick your healthy goal. You can literally be successful several times a day, and before you know it these goals just become a way of life. A lifestyle that feeds your energy and spirit and you can’t handle the thought of going back to your old lifestyle. It’s simply not an option.

Real change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing ~ Tony Robbins

~You are enough. You are worthy. You are beautiful, vibrant, intelligent. Start looking at yourself through the eyes of those you love most. Start talking to yourself just as you talk to your kids, your partner, your friends and family. Negative self-talk can crush the spirit. Anytime a negative thought pops into your head, replace it with positivity. Remember you are in control of this aspect. Take back that power. You want a different lifestyle…then go after it. No waiting. No excuses. Create the life you desire.

Have a great day! Drop me a line if you need support or have questions.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

A Decade of Maintaining Goal

Ten years ago today I stepped on the scale after a year and a half of working hard towards my goal of shedding 90 pounds. That magical number popped up on the scale…my goal weight. It was the end of one journey and the start of another.  I left the euphoric world of losing and started into the unknown…how would I maintain this for the rest of my life? If you look at the long-term weight loss stats, it’s a little daunting…maintaining is tricky bidness. You see fat cells…they don’t fade away into the night, they shrink…but they remain.

Chrissy 10 years

After a decade of the maintaining world, here’s what I want you to know!

These past 10 years have been such a gift, I struggle to find the words to articulate just how amazing it is to find that zest for life that I had once lost.

The novelty still hasn’t worn off to be able to walk into a store and buy clothes off the rack.

I hold my head high because I’ve embraced confidence. I’ve let go of perfection and accepted vulnerability. I wish I had known that feeling when I was at my heaviest. I wish the old me loved herself.

You see confidence does not come within a size of clothing, it arrives subtly as I treat my body with the respect and the care it deserves (just as I treat those I love).

I find that self-respect within staying active, running in the sun, lifting heavy and then a little heavier the next week, within vibrant coloured foods packed full of nutrients and vitamins. The kind of food that give me energy.

I want you to know that the maintaining world isn’t that daunting at all. It’s just life. When you change your lifestyle, it just becomes the style in which you love to live your life. I’m so thankful I found it.

I’ve found…

balance.

peace.

joy.

I have found me.

Here’s to another 10 years.

From my thankful heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

On Fear, Dreaming, and Balance

My last post was May, can that be true?! It’s been a busy 6 months. I haven’t fallen off the healthy wagon; I’ve written so many posts in my head that it was a little overwhelming so I wrote nothing.

Over the spring and summer I worked towards my Personal Training Specialist certification through CanfitPro. I’m happy to say I’m now certified! I wanted to pursue certification for many years and it feels great to finally take action rather than thinking on a dream. I plan to mix some pretty powerful motivators through training: the positive mind and Photography. I’m so excited, can’t wait!

This May 2015 marks 10 years at my healthy weight. I used to call it my goal weight, but through these past 10 years I have learned it’s just a number. Healthy is my goal, not specific digits on a scale. I love learning new things about fitness and I’m a foodie at heart. Through the years I’ve noticed many trends come and go when it comes to the diet/fitness industry. Low fat, low carb, paleo, cleanses, high protein. Intense cardio, step, aerobics, heavy lifting, high-reps/low weight, spinning, TRX, crossfit, barre. None of which are necessarily a bad thing; however, I see an issue for me personally when the fad is introduced as the newest greatest solution to all my eating/fitness issues. Obsession takes over and that’s never been a healthy element for me.

But what about balance?

My quest for balance, happiness and health has always encompassed more than just a diet/fitness plan. It’s easy to get caught up in the diet/fitness industry’s promise of happiness within a meal plan or a workout. I can promise you from my experience, you can lose 100 pounds and still feel unfulfilled and deal with low self-esteem.

I learned the strength of my inner spirit is just as important as the health of my body. I had to heal from within. I had to learn to recognize my weaknesses and celebrate my strengths. Cardio/lifting sessions were (and continue to be) a time of self-reflection and an opportunity to challenge tired beliefs I have about my strength and ability. I had to identify the areas where I had an unhealthy relationship with certain foods and then replace those with healthy satisfying options. It has never been about restriction, but rather stability and control over an area I felt wildly out of control within.

I had to practice compassion, forgiveness, letting go, and perseverance for myself, but more importantly for others…until it became part of who I am as a person. We all struggle. We all have our insecurities. We all deserve forgiveness and love. I will always look for the good within others and foster that within authentic relationships. The other day I realized that it’s because I spent so many years in the dark that I appreciate this brilliant light of clarity and focus.

I’m so thankful for the years I spent…

~wandering through confusion because I learned to trust myself as a result.

~dreaming of a different body because I transformed a dream that was focussed on an aesthetic into lifelong action towards a healthy mind/body/spirit.

~unhappy because I learned a big part of happiness within life is simply a choice.

~trapped in jealousy and envy because I learned those gross emotions will fade away when you become confident within yourself.

~selfishly focussing on inner turmoil that clouded my life for it taught me to be more selfless and to move on.

When I started this journey I foolishly believed it was about fitting my ever-expanding body into a pair of skinny jeans. I had no idea I would learn to love others more because I found peace, forgiveness, and love within myself.

It’s all about balance. If you are struggling in this area, dig deeper. Figure out your weaknesses and strengths. Don’t lie to yourself. Focus on your inner strength, push away the doubt for that doubtful voice is just fear. Forgive yourself for your mistakes because you have learned so much from those. Adversity makes us stronger. You are human and we are all fantastically flawed. Let go of your past. You have a future full of promise if you just view it that way. Never give up on your goals, you are stronger than you even realize.

Life is a series of seasons, ever changing and evolving. Don’t fear change keep on growing and learning from both your mistakes and your successes. Turn those dreams into actions. I hope all this for you and more.

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I’ll leave you with a little video of inspiration for your day…

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

5 Practical Tips for Long-Term Weight Loss

5 Practical Tips for Long-Term Weight Loss

Over the past few years, I’ve been asked the same questions
1) how I lost the weight
2) how I maintain my healthy weight

I’ve private messaged lots of friends and strangers about this, so I decided to write a blog post. This is just my experiences and knowledge through my journey to shed the weight and maintain my healthy weight. Everyone is different with unique strengths and abilities.

Five healthy lifestyle Q&A

Q: I don’t like vegetables and fruits. How can I change my diet if I don’t want to eat the green stuff?

A: Believe me people, I didn’t like fruits and veggies either. My fridge 10 years ago was full of processed, quick-t0-prepare foods. The crisper might have held a lonely shrivelled carrot or two. lol And often times, if I decided to be “healthy”, I would be purging spoiled produce a week later. But here’s the good news that I learned through trial and error: your tastes change drastically as you introduce new foods, and cut out the crappy foods. I was addicted to sugar and salt. I’m sure my insulin levels were used to their daily roller coaster ride. “Come on Insulin, let’s ride, wooop, wooop!” I never ate breakfast, ate a medium-sized lunch (usually at a restaurant with a friend because I was working full-time), and by supper the hunger pangs would kick in and I would eat and eat and eat. I rarely ate the majority of my daily calories in front of people but after the kids went to bed it was a free-for-all. The next morning, I would wake up with a big cloud of shame over my bed-head and scold the weak me for eating so much. Skip breakfast, and start the cycle all over again.

When I started researching healthy eating, I was overwhelmed by the amount of contrary information. No carbs/high fat, low-fat/more carbs, Protein heavy/low carbs/low-fat. It was all so much to take in. I was sitting on my deck one morning enjoying a cup of coffee while watching squirrels packing food, and birds scouting for worms on our acreage…and I thought: “why do you rarely see overweight animals (unless they are taken care of by humans)?” It dawned on me that we are all born with the knowledge of how much to eat, and the earth provides all the foods in their natural state that we need. We just have to retrain our bodies/minds to think of food as energy and not as a source of pleasure…at least not all the time. Balance.

So I started small. Cutting back on sugary drinks, cream-based anything, white stuff (including white bread and white rice), high-fat protein, highly processed protein and opting for more water, whole-grain carbs, leaner proteins, fruits, and loads of raw/cooked veggies. It was hard at first, nothing tasted “right” to me. I couldn’t believe how bland healthy foods tasted. As the days and weeks progressed eating healthier, I was shocked at how my body responded. My hair and nails were stronger, my complexion cleared up, I had more energy, I got that pesky office-sickness less, and above all else, the veggies started tasting amazing. Believe me, I was shocked. I was so used to artificial sugars and additives, my body didn’t understand what natural sugar was supposed to taste like.

It was also about balance vs. restriction. I love chocolate. If you take it away from me I will cut you. 😉 So rather than a king size chocolate bar, I ate a square of dark chocolate every day. Yup, there’s rarely a day in the last 10 years that I haven’t eaten a square or 2 of dark chocolate. I know that if I live too restricted, it will have the opposite effect than I desire. It will turn into a late-night binge fest after a day of calorie restricting. I prepare for my dinners out now. I will make even healthier choices & go for a run leading up to a night out at the Keg. And then I enjoy my night out without a drop of guilt. I savour those bites and eat consciously. Balance.

Q: I hate exercise, do I really have to exercise to lose weight or can I do it all by diet alone?

A: I was that girl who loathed exercise. I parked as close to the doors as possible. If I had a motorized scooter, I would have scooted the shit out of all the locations. I had brand new running shoes that might have well been used as door stops. I hissed at runners as they passed me. I secretly extended a middle finger to all things active. Hypothetical finger flick to your fit forehead if you had asked me to go for a walk, or heaven forbid a jog. Boooo, Hisssss, exercissssse. Crazy shit right there. Dramatic much?

Here’s the thing, if you simply rely on diet alone, it’s very tricky to balance it all. Our heart is a working muscle. It’s actually meant to be worked in order for our body to work the way it’s designed to. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass. It’s a sad fact my friends. The only way to get that muscle back is to build it. Muscle also burns more calories at rest than fat does, so increasing muscle mass and adding cardio will aid in the calorie deficient required to lose weight. It works the same way for maintaining weight. All of that is just information, how exactly do you learn to love exercise?! You figure out what you are good at. You try a bunch of different activities and keep changing it up so you aren’t caught in a dull trap of monotony. You start small, and build up.

I am a very slow runner. I’ve been passed by people with wheeled oxygen carts on the running track before. True story. No matter how slow I run, I’m still lapping my sloth-ass-sitting-on-a-couch. The more exercise you do, the stronger you get, and before you know it what was once a challenge is no big deal the next week. It’s crazy how fast the body adapts and strengthens when you challenge yourself.

Don’t worry about doing it all at once, do a bit more, and then build up. Park further away from the door, take the stairs instead of the elevator, wear a pedometer and up your daily steps, turn up your music at home and dance while no one is watching (or dance while your kids are watching, I’m truly a source of embarrassment for them in that area).

Just. Move. More.

Q: I don’t have time to work out.

A: We are all busy. We make time for what’s important, so it’s really a matter of priorities. I just decided one day that my priority was health because my physically state affected all areas of my life. My relationships, my career, my physical/emotional/spiritual health, even my marriage. I wasn’t happy with myself, and physically I was sick. High blood pressure. Lethargic. If there was a sickness to be caught, I soaked it in like a sickly sponge. Back and knee issues, I was on a first name basis with my back-cracker. Kidney stones, which hurt like a mother-hubbard. Guys if you’ve ever experienced a kidney stone, you have come as close to what labour feels like as you are ever going to. High-five to you and your stone. I was told the reason for my plethora of stones was because I didn’t drink enough water. I ended up losing all function in my right kidney as a result of complications.

I look at it like this: Either I have time to exercise and eat healthy, or I’ll have to make time to be sick.

Since changing my lifestyle to a healthier one, I no longer have high blood pressure (no more pills!), I rarely get sick, I have more energy, I’ve been to a chiropractor once in 10 years, and I’ve yet to get another kidney stone.  I’m an all-around happier person because I stopped putting my physical and emotional needs last.

Q: I want to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks for an event, is that doable?!

A: It really doesn’t matter if that’s doable or not. Say you can lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks, what happens after? If you go to extreme measures, and by that I mean a lifestyle that you couldn’t possibly keep up long-term, are you ready to gain it all back? Because that’s usually what happens. By some estimates, 80% of dieters will regain the weight they lost or even more, within 2 years. That stat was scary for me as I was losing the weight, the thought of gaining it all back after all that work was terrifying. I calmed my fears with the realization that I found a love for nutritious food and activity. I wasn’t about to just stop doing what I loved once I reached my end goal. I knew this was going to be my life. And that fact made me (still makes me) excited for the future.

Q: What do you do to maintain your healthy weight?

A: My lifestyle now is not that much different from when I was losing the weight. There is more time however as I’ve learned to stream line exercise time and found more efficient ways to prep food. More time for balance, less restriction, a little less cardio/more strength training. I understood that once I reached that “finish line” it was more of a check point for a life race.

I hope something here is useful to you in your quest for a healthier you.

And because no post is complete without a picture, here’s one that has nothing to do with this post in anyway. But it’s true.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 10.15.37 AM

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

12 Tips from a Chick on her 9 year Anniversary at Goal Weight

Today marks 9 years at my goal weight. Every year I learn a little  more about the elements needed for balance, peace, and positive body image. It’s not always easy, even 9 years later, to find that delicate balance.

9 Yrs Goal Weight Hopaluk
9 Years at Goal Weight

This year has brought with it many personal challenges and I continue to struggle with positive body image. I wrote about those challenges HERE. My motivation has wavered from time to time as life has continued on with its usual ebbs and flows.

I’m writing this post for anyone who also struggles with their body image and finds it challenging to stay active and eat healthy.

Here’s what I want you to know.

12 Tips from a Chick on her 9 Year Anniversary at Goal Weight

1.~You are more powerful than you even realize

2.~You are beautiful. Perfectly Imperfect.

3.~If you want to make changes to the outside, it all starts on the inside. Start with one singular yet powerful belief that you can do it. You can be the person you want to be.

4.~Silence the negative. Weed it out. If that means you have to put up boundaries to an outside source of negativity, then do it. A positive mindset is critical. Positive out, Positive in.

5.~Feed your spirit with whatever it is that makes you feel alive. Maybe it’s music, the outdoors, coffee with a friend, praying, meditating, a long walk down a quiet trail. Your spiritual health is an important part of balance.

6.~The hardest part of any workout is lacing up those shoes. Just get out there and do it! Your body, heart, and mind will thank you. I often tell myself “suck it up buttercup” when I don’t feel motivated to get active. There’s not a single workout that I’ve ever regretted. 😉

7.~Nature provides clues to healthy sources of nutrients via colour. Fill up your cart will colourful foods from the produce department. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where fresh lives. The middle section could sit dormant for years and it wouldn’t spoil.

8.~Really think about the hurdles you put up that keep you from reaching your goals. We all self-sabotage in some ways. Once you figure them out, write them down. Find strategies to avoid those hurdles or triggers. Once you get good at avoiding your triggers, your strength grows daily, and a new healthy normal takes over.

9.~Never underestimate the power of empathy and vulnerability. It’s OK to admit your struggles to a trusted friend. Sometimes just saying things out loud takes the power away from issues. And if someone finds safety within confiding in you, let them know they aren’t alone.  I used to really struggle with being vulnerable and admitting faults/struggles. I’ve found the cure for that…a blog 😉

10.~You are going to have bad days, a bad week, hell maybe even a bad month. Momentum goes both ways. If you find yourself in a negative downward spiral (boy have I been there), you can change it. Remember you have the power to create your destiny. Just correct your course, and keep on swimming. You got this.

11.~If you are going to make changes to your lifestyle, think of these changes as long-term. Life (your very own life, the way you want it) and Style (you get to style it, the way you actually live this beautiful life). There are so many “quick fix” programs out there with promises of fast results; however, can that quick fix be maintained? I think that’s the biggest down fall to fast weight loss, what happens when you reach your goal? How are you going to maintain it? Personally, slow and steady worked for me. Good old-fashioned hard work and eating right. That’s the way our bodies are designed to function properly.

12.~Enjoy your journey! Tackling a big goal can be overwhelming. So break it up into smaller manageable goals and celebrate each and every milestone on your way to your end goal. Maybe your goal is to be more positive, happier, healthier, stronger, or all the above. All of those goals can be broken down further. Write it all down, and post it where you can see it.  You’ll love the feeling of putting a check mark beside those smaller goals. It provides great motivation as you work towards your ultimate goal. Set rewards for yourself for each goal. Reap those rewards and soak up that pride. You are amazing.

I’ll leave you with a ‘lil Beyonce… “Strip away the masquerade. It’s the Soul that needs a surgery.”

From my thankful heart to yours,

Christine

 

7 Gym Myths Debunked via a Former Couch Potato

Recently at the gym, I was talking to one of the trainers. I commented to him that the gym was abnormally quiet, just a handful of people worked their little hearts out. What he said in reply got me thinking. He said: “it’s the same regulars here today, there’s not an overweight  person in here.”

I hadn’t noticed the physical shape of anyone there, I was focussed on my workout. While I didn’t take that comment as judgmental, but rather an observation of the gym culture at that moment, it did put me right back into my pre-exercising head. I wondered why I didn’t feel like I “belonged” at the gym when I started this journey. I remember being fearful of the gym, all that equipment that I didn’t know how to use, all those fit bodies…like they would all stare at me and judge me while I worked out. I wish I knew then what I know now.

So I’m writing this to the fearful 242 pound couch-potato Me of the past…

Chrissy heaviest 02

 

from the dorky gym-lover of the future…

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Myths and Fears of the Gym

Myth #1: Everyone will stare at me or worse yet, they will laugh at me.  

Everyone at the gym is there to get their sweat on. No one is looking at anyone else. Chances are, many of them have the same insecurities as I do. The gym is just a place to go to work all your frustrations out, and show a little love to your heart and body in the process.

Myth #2: I’ll be embarrassed by my red-faced sweaty face.

Sweat is just our body’s way of cooling our internal rising temperature as we exercise. If we are sweating, that means we are working hard. If we are working hard, we are achieving our goal to get our heart rate elevated. As our heart rate elevates, we are actively burning calories. Further to that, the calories we burn at the gym are just a small part of the calories we burn after we leave the gym. Are you sweating during your workout? Congratulations, you are working hard! Personally, when I see someone sweating a lot during their workout, I have a lot of respect for how hard they are working. It motivates me to work even harder.

Myth #3: No one will show me how to use all that equipment. 

There are always attendants & trainers walking the floor. Most gyms will show you free of charge how to use each piece of equipment. You probably have a friend who knows how to use them all. Ask them. Ask a stranger at the gym how to use a piece of equipment. People are happy to help.

Here my friend Kristine helped me out one day by showing me how to stretch using a roller after my run. Like a weirdo I took pictures of her so I’d remember how to do it for next time. ha!

Kirstine web

Kirstine2 web

 

Another day, my friend Linda showed Bon and I how to use a Squat rack…

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I’m very thankful for their help!

Myth #4: The weight training area is for Men. Women will get big and bulky if they lift weights. 

I bought into this myth big time. I used to think the weight training area was for “muscle heads”. If anything, strength training is especially important for women as we naturally have less muscle mass than men do. Further to that, as we age, we lose muscle mass. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine:Loss of muscle mass, also known as Sarcopenia occurs as a result of aging. After age 35 you will lose between .5-1. Percent of your muscle mass annually unless you engage in regular physical activity to prevent it.  By engaging in regular resistance training and following a sound diet that includes adequate amounts of protein, you can prevent most of the muscle loss associated with age. Health experts recommend that you engage in some of the resistance training that focuses on all major muscle groups a minimum of 2 times per week and up to 5 times per week depending upon your goals.”

Ladies, don’t worry about getting big and bulky because of weight training. We just don’t have the genetic makeup for that (or the testosterone). I also didn’t realize how hard it is to build a lot of muscle. I used to picture body builders when I thought about strength training; however to achieve that form, you need to follow a very strict diet and spend a lot of time focussing on each muscle group. It’s not a reality for most of us. So muscle your way into that strength training area and reap the benefits of improved body composition (muscle is more dense than fat, so it takes up less room), improved resting metabolism, sharpened mental focus, reduced signs and symptoms of chronic conditions (arthritis, back pain, diabetes, depression), improved muscle strength and tone (which leads to improvements to daily life activities), improved posture/mobility/balance, reduced risk of osteoporosis, improved blood-pressure, and increased self-esteem. The benefits are endless.

Hire a trainer to show you how to lift with correct technique or join a class. There are also tons of free online resources. My favourites: http://www.bodybuilding.com  and  http://www.coachcalorie.com

Before you know it, your confidence will rise to the point you no longer feel out-of-place. Our bodies are incredible machines that adapt quickly & positively to increased demands. Adding strength training to your exercise program has huge positive benefits for your future health. Think of it as an investment towards aging with vitality. Everyone belongs in the strength training area. What makes one person more privileged to be there over another?  Nonsense. 😉

 Myth #5: I don’t have time to go to they gym. 

Time management is tricky within our busy lives. Once you really look at the benefits of exercise and how it will positively affect all aspects of our life, isn’t it worth it? Even 30 minutes 3-4 times a week can produce big results. Don’t have 30 minutes in one chunk? Split it up into 10 minute segments. It takes about three weeks to turn an activity into a habit. Just keep at it, and before you know it, exercise will become an essential part of daily life. I often think about how exercise is essential for my positive mind-set. I wish there was a camera showing people their facial expressions before and after a workout. Exercise releases endorphins. There’s a reason they call it “Runner’s High”. You actually feel a high when you are done! ha! How great is that?! Go get your daily exercise high. 🙂

Myth #6: I don’t “belong” at the gym. I’m not one of those fitness junkies. 

Oh my, did I believe this myth. Now that I’ve travelled this road to reclaim my life for 10 years now, I now understand the importance of a well-rounded balanced approach to health, happiness, and vitality. It’s not about a number on a scale or a short-term diet. For me, it requires a lifestyle of eating healthy (I follow the 80/20 rule), cardio, strength training, flexibility, and a focus on those elements that feed my soul and mind with positive. The old me would have read that last sentence and rolled my eyes. I just didn’t realize the joy that would come from living this way. The idea that another’s health and well-being is more important than my own is ridiculous. I used to believe taking that time for myself was selfish. It’s not selfish to take care of your body, mind, and soul. It’s essential for health and happiness. Of course we all belong at the very place that houses equipment to improve our cardio/muscular health.

Myth #7: I’ll go to the gym when I’m more fit.

I had to take the power & intimidation out of the word “gym”. It’s just a space to sweat and work. That’s all. What I’ve gained from that atmosphere is something I didn’t expect. Although I prefer to workout alone, I have gained social interaction I didn’t expect. The people I have met at the gym are amazing. There are no classes of people there. Those business professionals who sport a suit in their day jobs wear sweat pants just like I do. We are all the same, working towards a common goal. It’s not about your external appearance, it’s about pushing yourself a little further every time. Gaining confidence with each workout. It’s about feeling pride within your efforts. Why does one have to be at a certain fitness level to enjoy those elements? Again, ridiculous nonsense.

If you share any of these myths that I once believed, I hope I encouraged you to think about the gym atmosphere in a different way. Go try it out if you’ve been fearful to do so…what do you have to lose (except a bunch of calories burned and a whole lot of stress of your shoulders)?

From my heart to yours,

Christine

10 Things I Would Tell the Old Me

Eight years ago on May 19th, I reached my goal weight.  It took a long time to get the 90+ pounds off, so that day was a pretty special one.

Every year I take a comparison shot because it keeps me motivated and it also allows me to look back into the eyes of the former me who didn’t believe in herself.

10 Things I Would Tell the Old Me (on life and having fun while maintaining goal weight)

I learned a lot this year.  What used to work in the earlier years to maintain my weight wasn’t working anymore.  My body adapted to the same exercise and food choices. I had to change-up my program and I quickly realized I needed help. I hired a kick-ass trainer; my beautiful friend Shannon. She created a strength program for me, and I was able to focus on strength training with her in the gym and cardio at home.  It took weeks to visually see any difference; it’s an exercise in patience I tell ya! However, I did feel results quickly…I was able to lift more weight and do more reps. My cardio improved too, I was able to run my 5K in a faster time once I was focusing on a leg strength day with core work too. Most importantly, I learned I can do a workout anywhere with very little equipment. No excuses.

As for the eating part of the equation, I had to completely change that as well.  Again, I felt out of control in that area so I joined in a Nutritional Challenge through BMS Bootcamps which I’m half way through.  I’m learning so much about food choices, and the true meaning of “eating clean”.  I realized I’m addicted to sugar! I was eating 100 calorie snack bars which were loaded with sugar and eating cereal every morning that was also very high in sugar (and often as a bedtime snack).  Once I cut back on the sugar, I got off the roller coaster of blood sugar crashes I used to have. I added more healthy fats into my diet as well. I have a sustained level of comfortable fullness by eating 5 times a day and enjoying natural foods. I don’t have the cravings for certain foods I used to have. My taste buds changed and I actually enjoy foods that I didn’t like before. Eating clean has been a gift in that I have more energy, my skin has cleared up, and my hair is growing fast too. Huh?! Good stuff. I have enjoyed cheat meals as well! Everything in balance.

The other day on my run I was thinking about that photo of me from 10 years ago. As crazy as this sounds, it’s as though it’s not even a photo of me but rather of a close friend. I feel sadness and empathy for the old version of me. It’s not about the aesthetics, but rather what I see in my eyes and what I know was in my mind. I see pain, frustration, the urge to stay home and not face people, loneliness, fear.  I had given up on myself and I didn’t believe my future was in my control. Feeling out of control everyday is no way to live. I didn’t understand the pride that comes from pushing myself both physically and mentally and how that transfers in a positive way to other areas of life. I was uncomfortably numb. That photo was taken just a few days before I made the decision to take control back and reclaim my life. So if I was to run into the old me in my life today, here’s what I would tell her…

10 things I would tell the old Me

1. You are going to have to do a lot of trial and error to find what works for you.  Not everything will work, you will try many things that don’t work. You will get to know your own body and metabolism, so trust yourself enough to listen to what your body needs and don’t panic when you need to reassess. Chill out chicky!

2. The most important thing you can do as you age is to add weight training into your program. By adding muscle you will burn calories at rest and there is no better exercise medium than strength training to test yourself and feel success quickly.

3. Don’t overcomplicated things.  Use cardio to burn calories, use strength training to build muscle which also burns calories at rest (replace the expanding fat with dense muscle), fuel your body with whole foods…healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains.  Eat often so you are never famished. Sleep 8 hours. Drink at least 12 glasses of water a day. Crank up your music and dance. Repeat.

4. Challenge yourself each and every day in some way. That voice that creeps in and tells you that you can’t is lying.

5. There is power in the vulnerability of sharing. Do not hold back sharing what you’ve learned simply because you are fearful of what other’s think of you. Like-minded people attract one another, and that can only happen when you live out loud.

6. Don’t give up when you don’t see results in the time frame you want. It took years to get to this point, you aren’t going to change over night. One step at a time grasshopper. 😉

7. Listen to your inner voice that knows what is best for you. Pay no attention to what others tell you that you “should” do. They don’t know your inner struggles, only you do. Sure another person can lose the weight while restricting calories, that doesn’t mean you should too. Slow and steady wins the race. Your goal is fitness, the weight will drop off in the process.

8. Start your journey by journaling your food, that way you can’t “pretend” you don’t know what you are eating. Knowledge is power; however, try not to be all-or-nothing which only ends in loss of control. Enjoy a cheat meal once and again. Balance is important. You won’t always have to journal your food, but if you find that you are slipping in your food choices, that trusty journal is a powerful way to get back on track.

9. If you have a bad eating day, recognize it as just that…one bad day with a clean slate the next. Get back on track and don’t beat yourself up about it.

10. This one is important: HAVE FUN!!! Don’t be so serious, this is a lifestyle for the rest of your life…so you better make it fun. Ride your bike, dance-walk, high-five a stranger, shake your ass, takes 10,000 steps a day and put a ‘lil attitude into it, don’t go one day without laughing, get outside with the kids (by the way old version of me, you’re going to have some pretty amazing kids who are going to make all of this totally worth it)

From my heart to yours,

Christine

P.S. If you are on your own weight loss journey and want some pretty cool resources to help you out, check them out HERE

Why I’m Ridiculously Ridiculous

I realize my last blog post was in October of last year. I have created 6 drafts since then and I hit publish on none of them.

Since October, I have however managed to figure out what doesn’t work for me in the equation to maintain my healthy weight.

There are many ways to lose weight and keep it off, for me personally it’s an equation. If one part of that equation is missing, it just doesn’t work.

Here it is…

1. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals filled with raw vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. Follow the 80/20 rule. I am on-track with my meals 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, I’m not so stringent. I enjoy suppers out with friends. I eat until I’m full. No need to scrape my plate clean! I need the freedom to enjoy a thoughtfully prepared meal in a nice restaurant without guilt. I just do.

2. Stay active with purpose: Cardio + Strength Training.  It needs to be activity that I enjoy and this requires music turned up as loud as it will go. Make it count. If I only have a 1/2 an hour to workout, I better make it worth it. If my face isn’t bright red and sweat isn’t pouring, then I’m not working hard enough.

3. This is the most important part of my equation: My mindset. I must look at staying healthy and fit as a lifestyle. The word “Lifestyle” means for Life and to do so with style. 😉 Not for a month, or a week, or a day, but for always.  As long as I’m physically able to move, damn it…I will.  I must look at this lifestyle as a gift. Because it is.

Now let me explain how I’ve failed in my equation for the last few months, specifically in the Mindset area.

I’ve had a little pity party for myself that has lasted far too long. I haven’t been too far off on the eating and exercise part of the equation (given I will always enjoy the foods that come along with Christmas); however, I’ve had a piss poor attitude about it.

~Insert spoiled brat face here~

My inner dialogue was one of defiance:  Why do I have to continue to watch everything I eat, exercise 5 times a week just to maintain my healthy weight when I know many people who are blessed with a much faster metabolism who can skip work outs and eat french fries and still weigh the same.

Guess what? I am ridiculously ridiculous folks.

Here’s why. My sister (who once was a track star in her teen years) has Multiple Sclerosis and I don’t.

If I have the ability to run, move, make healthy food choices for myself, then why am I angry about it? My health is my responsibility alone. No one can or will make those choices for me.  If I decide (and yes, it’s a conscious decision) to make unhealthy choices and destroy the healthy body that I’ve been given…wouldn’t that be so sad? What a waste. I get that choice when others, such as my beautiful, full-of-life, track-star sister had their choices ripped away from them. Do I actually think my sister would complain about exercising daily? Would she moan about getting into her car and driving to the grocery store to pick out fresh produce? Would she be annoyed that she has to prepare her own fresh salad?

I will tell you one thing I know, if my sister could be given my body for one day, she would put me to shame. She would fit more life, activity, connection, and joy into a 24 hour span, than I do in months. I took the time to think about that which was an uncomfortable feeling. You need to feel the uncomfortable and the pain. You need to sit in it, bathe in it, take a walk with it, let it sink right in to truly understand the changes your life requires to reach your goals. You need to change the way you think about life.

Yes my friends, I am ridiculously ridiculous. I’ve used “things” so that I don’t have to feel uncomfortable. I’m stripping that away.

I am full of gratitude and thanks for this healthy body I have. I will treat it with respect. I will feed it the foods it was meant to be fuelled with. I will wear a smile as I run. Because it’s a gift. Anything short of treating it that way is insulting…especially to those who struggle with their health.

I’m not sure if I’ve articulated my thoughts as clearly as I’d hoped. I want to encourage you to get up and get active if you are lucky enough to be able. I want to challenge you to think about the belief systems that are not serving your life in a positive way. To think about the lies you tell yourself that enable you to stay in a pattern of behaviour that make it impossible for you to reach your goals. That is not your truth.

We do not have to settle for mediocre effort. We do not have to settle for just getting by. When was the last time you pushed yourself out of your physical comfort zone? Do not compare your progress to another’s. You just have to ask yourself: Did I push myself today? Can my body do more than it did the last week? Am I getting stronger? Is my endurance improving the more I push?  That is what matters. That is what will allow you to feel the joy of success.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Motivation to Shut Up and Run

I took a sabbatical from exercise. And then I ate chocolate like there was a prohibition on chocolate. I ate, drank, and oh I was merry…for a little while anyway. I not only fell off the wagon, but I hacked it up into kindling, started a bonfire and made smores by it.

Why?  I really don’t know but…

I.

Checked.

Out.

Here’s what I do know, my body was pissed right off that I took a break. And I explained to it that “we were on a break”, but it didn’t seem to matter because it fought back like a cat stuffed in a boot (weird reference, but sadly I’ve actually saw my Dad stuff a cat into a boot. Don’t judge, it bounced out and lived for another 20 years).

My joints seized up; if I sat too long I had to shuffle for a bit after standing just to get going. My skin broke out…it’s not fun having the skin of a 13-year-old boy let me tell you.  I was sad for no clear reason and I wanted to punch things. Often. I was hungry more often even though I was eating foods that were richer in fat content and calories. For the first time in years, I wanted to binge on potato chips. The kind of binge where you suddenly awake as if in a trance-like-state surrounded by potato-chip crumbs. I was sick more often within two months than I had been in years. Doesn’t that sound fun?!

So the other day I decided I was going to go back to eating healthy foods and get off my ever-expanding tush and go for a run. I loaded up my iPod with a Power playlist that makes it impossible to sit still while listening (or at least will have you shoulder dancing). The 5K that I could once run in 30 minutes, took me 41 minutes. It was like starting from scratch. My legs felt like I had small children attached to each one and I drug them the entire way.

As I was running, I thought about ways to trick my mind into thinking this run was enjoyable and hopefully I would feel motivated to press on for the full 5K. Here’s what I came up with…

  • Pretend I am getting chased by hissing geese (which has happened to me before). That got me through one KM.
  • Pretend someone is running beside me critiquing me on my running style (steady breathing, abs in, look straight ahead). A judgemental Gazelle was running along side me (at first I spelled it “Giselle” but I mean the animal, not the hot super model).
  • Remember that movie “Speed” with Sandra Bullock where the bus would blow up if it quit moving? I am the bus. Don’t stop or I will undoubtably blow up.
  • Talk to myself like a crazy person “you can do it, keep going, suck it up princess, even though you are running slow your ass could be planted on a couch right now…so that makes you awesome.”
  • The sweat pouring down my face is toxins leaving my body
  • Wear a tank top from “Ruffles with Love” found on ETSY that reads “Shut Up and Run”.  I don’t want to be an oxymoron…that chick along the running trail who’s stopped, doubled over, dry heaving while gripping her aching muscles sportin’ a “shut up and run” tank top.  It will in fact force you to shut up and run. I can rest when I’m done.

after my 5K

I’m pleased to report that I did finish my 5K and I’m back on my healthy eating/exercise program. Remind me to never check out again, that wasn’t fun in the long run.

Here’s some power list songs that keep me running when I want to stop:

“Rusted From the Rain” by Billy Talent

“Hitchin’ a Ride” by Green Day

“Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys

“Electric Worry” by Clutch

“Uprising” by Muse

“Some Nights” by Fun

“A Warrior’s Call” by Volbeat

“Let it Roll” by Flo Rida

“Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” by Pink

“Tonight is the Night” by Outasight

“All of the Lights” by Kanye West

“99 Problems” by Hugo

“Where Them Girls At” by David Guetta, Flo Rida, Nicki Minaj

If anything you’ve read here makes you want to Shut up and Run, then my work here is done.  😉

From my heart to yours,

Christine

P.S. I have yet to weigh myself, but the muffin top that spills over my jeans tells me I have some work to do. Ok body, we are no longer “on a break”.

Recipe for Success via a Chick’s Weird Mind

I went for a run yesterday.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I ran. You see I’ve been “meaning to”, but good intentions mean nothing if you don’t actually lace up the runners. It’s like telling a friend you “meant” to phone them, but you didn’t because you were pinning crafts you will never actually craft on Pinterest.

Anywhoooo, As I was running I was wondering why I haven’t hit the trails in a while, and after much thought I had a EUREKA! moment.

I’ve put off running because my mind told me I need to lose these extra 10 pounds I’ve put on.

You would think that if my head said I should lose them, that would translate into the urge to run it off.  For me, It has the opposite effect.

What it does is put pressure on me and it panics me a little. Which spirals into NOT wanting to run, making a few bad food choices, which turns into more bad food choices, which turns into beating myself up, to pass me the chocolate, which leads to a chocolate face sportin’ a pout on the couch.

Here is the key to maintaining my healthy weight

(which for me is a weight that I can maintain and still enjoy chocolate and a martini with good friends).  

The key to maintaining is that my goal is to be fit and healthy.

~the will to exercise attaches to the desire to clear my mind of stress and improve health by building endurance and muscle. For the good of my mind, it has nothing to do with burning calories so I can lose pounds. Exercise makes me feel alive. I feel like Chuck Norris after a good workout, mixed with a dash of Angela Lansbury circa Murder She Wrote.

~the desire to eat healthy foods and drink lots of water produces understanding that these foods are what fuel my energy levels. Healthy foods
+ lots of water = energy, less sick days, and the added bonus of good skin.

~Balance in life is important. Enjoy the beautiful parts of life. Positive out, positive in. Live life with gratitude and a thankful heart. And above all, always give more than you take.

When I combine these factors: Exercise + Healthy Foods + A Grateful Heart: it’s a recipe for Success!

Onto the next part of the formula…Define success?

If I were to measure success by the number on a scale, I would feel like I’m failing!  Especially when I add weight training to my exercise routine.  Muscle weighs more than fat.

It’s the way I think about things that make me feel successful.

I will give you two scenarios to explain it, because this thought process eluded me for years!

Scenario 1: I weigh myself in the morning. I am up 2 pounds from the last time I weighed. Shit balls. Time to work out. Go for a run thinking about the stupid 2 pound gain the entire run. Return home. Drink water. Think about all the foods I want to eat but can’t eat because I’m chubby-chubberson…insert more self-deprecating talk here. Eat a salad with no dressing. Get hungry. Sport my angry eyes. Air punch something. Spend the day thinking about the chocolate bar I’ve hidden in the top shelf of the pantry. Stop taunting me Reece’s peanut butter cup.  Time for supper. What can I eat with the least amount of calories? I choose more salad. Put the kids to bed and the Reese’s peanut butter cup comes alive in the pantry, screaming at me “Hey Chrissy, I’m a cup of sunshine”. Go eat it and return to the pantry to find more snacks. Nothing looks good. Walk away. Return to the pantry with lowered expectations. Eat a bag of butter flavoured mini-rice cakes. Go to bed feeling like a loser with no will power. Will do better tomorrow.

Scenario 2: Wake up and feel off. Why? Realize I have missed part of the maintaining equation. Mood and energy is down, lace up my runners. Run in the sunshine focusing on gratitude simply for the gift that I am able to run. See a goose on the trail, run large circle around it while I scream a bit as it hisses at me. Thank you goose for improving my running time. Return home feeling like a million bucks. I’m awesome. Drink water. I’m hungry and the fridge is full of  fruits, and veggies and left over chicken. Perfect foods to give me even more energy. Drink more water. Feel productive and alive. Turn up music and dance like an idiot around my house. Kids roll their eyes. Try to force a son-mom dance…it’s like dancing with a mannequin. Plan supper, going to roast some veggies with olive oil, seasoned just right with a side of fish and dash of love (I’m corny that way). Eat until I’m full, it feels good to fuel my body with the right foods.   Drink more water. Feeling successful and full of joy and pride, I pat myself on the back. Watch Modern Family on the boob tube and choke on my water as I laugh. Life is good, today was great.

See the difference?! The key to success lies within the mind. That’s great news! I have lived both sides of those scenarios, and life is just a whole lot more fun in scenario #2. I believe I have also given you a glimpse into my weird mind.

I will leave you with some iPhone photo moments, taken when I stopped to enjoy the sunsets and to smell the flowers. 🙂

And a video that my friend Clint shared with me today that brought a smile to my face.

Clint also created a facebook page with thoughts, photos, and links to bring a smile to your day: http://www.facebook.com/sideofthebed

I wish you a ridiculous amount of success finding joy through out your day!

From my heart to yours,

Christine