Weight Loss is a Byproduct of Self-Love

I had an epiphany this morning as I was journalling.

Taking good care of myself, and in turn others, is the highest form of self-love.  Long-term weight loss has been possible for me, not because I have attempted to fit into a certain size clothing nor because I was striving to achieve societal standards of what a woman “should” look like. It truly is a byproduct of Love…simplifying the way I am intended to live.

~Within Love~

This is how we are designed right from the moment we were but one single cell.

To ignite the fire of change within your lifestyle, all it takes is a shift of your perspective away from the pressure of aesthetics and instead onto love. 

I’m going to attempt to explain my thought pattern here; however, it’s tricky to articulate a feeling.

I show respect for my body by eating foods high in nutritional value (vitamins, minerals, nutrients) so I have the most energy for my life and my kids as possible. I understand there are certain foods that trigger emotional eating for me, so I create a no-fail environment. If I’m tempted to eat my trigger food, I actually put myself in the emotional state that I feel after I eat them. Sluggish, self-deprecation, loss of control.  Those are not the thoughts I want to live within, so no thank you 🙂

I have the ability to pick my fuel, and so why would I pick low-quality fuel such as simple carbohydrates which quickly convert into sugar and have me on a roller coaster of temporary energy only to crash moments later? My goal is to feel my best physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So I will choose foods that come from the earth and have an expiration date. 🙂

I am thankful for my health and the ability to move freely.  Think about the times when you are sick with the flu and bed-ridden, how grateful are you when you feel better? You have this new lease on life, and you breathe deeply with gratitude. Those feelings can fade quickly however, and we fall back into complacency and forget that our health is a gift.

I will always be reminded of this as my sister is confined to a wheel chair because of MS. She would give ANYTHING to get up and run again.  To take that for granted would not only be selfish of me; but a huge disrespect and disservice to my sister. I know exactly how she would be living today if MS had not robbed her physical health. She would run circles around me with her characteristic Janice laugh. So I will run because I’m able. And I’m so very grateful for the ability to run, jump, move, and grow in strength.

The human body is a miraculous machine, the more you challenge it with new movements within your abilities, the stronger and more agile you become. How amazing is that?!

I will drink lots of water as we are made of water. Common sense tells me it’s essential for optimal health. And truly, what an easy way to maintain health. Just march right up to your tap and pour yourself a glass. Further to that, I am blessed that I have running water and a fridge stocked with food. Many are not afforded that luxury.  I remind myself of that often when the most ridiculous excuses creep into my mind and out of my mouth “I don’t have time to eat right and I don’t like the taste of water.”  I can’t imagine saying that to someone who does not have access to clean water nor a grocery store down the street (and money to buy a weeks worth of groceries).

And finally, I will strive everyday to live a life of purpose, gratitude, pride and love. Invest in my spirit so that I can love others wholeheartedly. Give of my time and abilities to those who need it most; just as I have needed it so many times in my life when I was unsure about my future and overwhelmed with sadness.

Listen more, talk less. Connection with others lies within meaningful communication which is a two-way street. How many conversations have I had that are ego based, formulating my response without listening to the words of another? Be aware.

This is a my journey to love myself because I need my kids to love themselves too.

This is a call to be the best version of myself because I have this one precious life, and time is valuable. Use it wisely.

What kind of life do I want to live? Even during times when I’m not exactly where I would hope to be at certain stages, I still had the luxury of time and the ability to turn another’s day around with a little uplifting and kindness. Giving is so good for the heart and soul.  It connects us to one another.

Spread a little positivity.

Laugh freely.

Smile for no other reason than the fact I have my health today when another maybe living in a hospital bed. My happiness does not come from others; but rather from within and a higher power.

Run or go for a walk today because you are able.

Eat healthy foods today because you have the ability to make a choice in the fuel you put into your body.

Living in gratitude and love is a choice. Today (and everyday) I choose a life of wholehearted living. How ridiculously amazing is that my friends?!!? ha!

I hope this post made sense, I had quite the morning of thinking. I wish for you a life full of pride, joy, and purpose.

From my grateful heart to yours,





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,



Love, Peace, and a Little Understanding

As I was running yesterday, this phrase popped into my head.

Love, Peace, and a Little Understanding goes a long way!

I’m not really sure why it popped into my head, but lately I have realized how good it is for the soul to drop the judgments and replace it with a little understanding.  There will be times in life when those around you will not agree with your choices/thoughts/perceptions and you may not agree with theirs as well.  I have realized that their choices and opinions are theirs alone and have nothing to do with my own choices.   I can only control my thoughts, vision, plans, behaviour…etc so I’m wasting time and energy trying to change something I have no power over!

I have the power to change my perceptions, to accept others just as they are, to show love/peace/understanding because I haven’t walked in their shoes and they haven’t walked in mine!  We are all just people. 🙂

It takes very little to turn a bad attitude into a good one and I know that’s why the running bug has bit me.  Now don’t be fooled into thinking that I’m a graceful runner nor am I a fast runner…I was passed by a toddler followed up by a gentleman toting a wheeled oxygen tank on the running track yesterday.

I know I talk A LOT about how amazing exercise is for the body, mind, and soul but when you find something that brings you so much joy, it’s hard to keep it in!  If I’m having a bad day and my heart hurts, I can’t wait to push myself at the gym to the point that the physical pain takes over the heart ache.  I know that sounds odd, but for me exercise turns heart ache, into physical pain (if I push myself), into pride and joy…all in the course of an hour.  I may go in defeated, but I always leave uplifted.  I actually wish there was a camera that captured the expressions of people walking into a gym and then the expressions walking out.  There would be great proof in the healing power of exercise and the pride that accompanies it!

Exercise heightens a good day as well.  It turns a good day into a great day.  I often have to repeat in my head:  “Don’t break out into spontaneous dance in the middle of the running track, someone could trip over you.” and “Don’t start singing loud while on the treadmill.”

Here’s the song that made me want to dance it out yesterday during my run.  Instead I opted for a slow jog/fast walk…heavy on the hip sway accompanied with a head bob and a finger snap.  Yes, I am a dork.

Anywhoooo….just thought I would sing the praises of exercise once again!  It brings moments of clarity to my heart.   If you believe exercise is not something you could enjoy, I encourage you to try it out consistently (even a couple times a week) for a month, and see what it does for you!

Here’s to Love, Peace, and a Little Understanding to all we encounter in life. 🙂


The Secret to Happiness!

The secret to happiness is…..

….to LIVE life with purpose and gratitude.

When I think back to life a few years ago, I never really understood how to live life with gratitude or with purpose.  I took for granted that I had my health and forgot how to have joy in the little things.

I remember this moment.  I wanted to disappear into the crowd and I definitely did NOT want my picture taken. You can see it in my face.  PUT THE CAMERA DOWN…

This probably sounds corny or cliche, but we owe it to our kids, our partners, to our loved ones, and most importantly to ourselves to take care of our bodies.  By taking care of our bodies, in turn we are taking care of our mind too!  There is nothing better for your mind, body, and soul than to exercise and be proud of yourself for your accomplishments.  I was once a hater of all things active, so it’s definitely a learned behaviour.

What happens when I say the word “DIET”.  What do you think of?  The word “Diet” has horrible connotations attached to it.  To me diets are about will power, restriction, self-control, deprivation, etc.

Living a HEALTHY lifestyle is NOT a diet.   It’s a way of life that celebrates living the best life possible.

It’s about balance, being proud of your accomplishments, pushing yourself forward, celebrating your healthy body and all it can do, enjoying whole food packed with vitamins and nutrients and feeling the boundless amounts of energy that comes from eating that type of food.  It’s about feeling in control (this one is HUGE for me) and most importantly, feeling gratitude for your life.   LIFE IS GOOD.

When people ask me how I lost the weight, I often get the same reaction after I tell them it was through healthy eating and exercise.  Groans and eye-rolls…because we are trained to believe that it can’t be done or sustained because it’s a diet.  We are so used to hopping on the diet bandwagon and giving it all we got for a bit, only to realize that we can’t sustain it and then feel like a failure when the weight comes back on.  It’s a terrible cycle and it leaves a person feeling defeated.  I’ve been there, and it sucks!

I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.  It really doesn’t!  If you think you can’t do it…you are absolutely wrong.   There is such freedom when you find a lifestyle that works for you and it can be sustained.

So where does one start?!

Start with little manageable changes and keep going!  Cut out processed, high-fat, high-sodium foods.  Eat the way nature intended…foods as close to their natural state as possible: whole grains, lean protein, veggies & fruits. ALWAYS eat breakfast.  Pack small healthy snacks (around 100 calories) so you never go hungry.  Eat smaller meals.  Plan your meals ahead. Walk instead of ride.  Take the stairs.  Dance, move, run, swim, cycle, jump, LIVE!

Read this: Dr. Phil’s “The Ultimate Weight Solution

Even if you’re not a Dr. Phil fan, this book is great because it touches on all the elements that go hand in hand with losing the weight and keeping it off.  It’s not about the food.  It really isn’t.  There are many reasons for obesity, but for me it was so much more than just the food.

Find support!  I found a great group of women all going through the same trials I was (thank you “Living FIT/JTTH” girls! I love you & I’m so thankful for you)

I’ll support you! Leave me a comment or e-mail me at hopaluk (at) shaw (dot) ca

I remember this wonderful moment too:  I received my goal weight key-chain from my weight loss support group!

By living a healthy lifestyle, you will tap into a side of you that you may not have known existed.  I can’t begin to tell you the freedom and zest for life I found when I realized that I didn’t have to be “the big girl” for the rest of my life; however, it’s not about the size you are or how much you weigh. It’s about honouring yourself and living the best life possible.


It’s Not About The Food

It’s not about the food. 

I had heard that before, but I didn’t understand it.  I thought I was overweight because I loved food.  Looking back, it’s so wasn’t about the food!   After reading Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution, I started being aware of why I was eating.  It’s natural to use SOMETHING to cope with the hard moments in life.  I used food, and I used food to cope with so many emotions.  The thought never occurred to me for sometime that I could one day be in control of my eating.  I was somewhat at peace with the fact that I was always going to be the “big girl”.   When I started reading, and learning about the root of my weight issues, it was like someone turned on the light.   I didn’t know I could CHANGE my metabolism.  I didn’t know  I could still enjoy my favourite foods if I changed the way I thought about food!

Here’s some of what I learned:

Food is Fuel…put good stuff in, you feel good!  Put crap in…well, you feel like crap.

You CAN change your metabolism.  All it takes is to live a healthy and active lifestyle. 

Start listening to your body.  Eat when your hungry, don’t eat when your not!

Follow your passions!  You need a creative outlet.  What is yours?  I pursued my passion for photography and it’s my new “SOMETHING” to cope!  What do you love to do?  Figure that out, and do it!

Love yourself enough to take care of yourself!  As mothers, we get trapped in the idea that we come LAST.  The only way you can be a good Mom is to take care of yourself!  A good Mom is a happy Mom.  Your kids deserve a happy and fulfilled Mom.  If you’ve lost the joy  and zest for life and confidence in yourself, GET IT BACK!

The only person standing in the way of your success is you.  Take the power back, no more excuses. 

Set manageable goals, and achieve them.  Little by little, you’ll get there.

Journal everything you eat!  If you have to write each and everything you eat, you are less likely to eat it.

Think…instead of or rather than.  If you change your way of thinking, you can save 100’s of calories in a day.
Instead of a Big Mac at McDonald’s, I chose a salad with diced chicken from McDonald’s. 
Rather than an biggie Mars Bar, I chose a 100 calorie chocolate bar. 
Instead of pasta with Alfredo sauce, I chose multi-Grain pasta with marinara sauce.