Sunday, 10 February 2019

Measuring Success

I've been thinking about a post for sometime now, but I really had no idea how it would come together.  See, the bottom line is, I've put on weight since my photo shoot a year ago.

And that's OK.

Here's why:

Post photo shoot my coach and I were planning to have me reverse diet - adding calories back into my days until we found a sustainable number.  It just so happened that this was happening during the Crossfit Open - so you can imagine that I was pleased with my results, while competing with a lean body, AND eating extra calories!  I was on FIRE!  Reversing is absolutely, and without a doubt, much harder than dieting.  Dieting is simply math and on some days, discipline.  That's it.  Reversing, and following that, maintaining, is seriously hard.

Losing weight is addicting.  People will be commenting on how great you look, you are going to notice more energy, your clothes fit better, and for me, some of the movements at the gym became easier.  It.  Is.  ADDICTING!

So I followed the plan quite well - I am a people-pleaser, after all - and then in the Fall I noticed that my energy was in the absolute toilet.  After a visit to my doctor and some blood work, we found that my TSH levels were elevated, which meant my thyroid was sluggish - and so was my metabolism.  Adjusted my medicine, and within a month my lab values had swung hard the other way.  Too hard.

I was, and still am, frustrated.  I'm frustrated that my body could betray me like that.  I worked so hard to create this body, and then sooooooo hard to maintain it, and ultimately, it was working against me.

One step forward, two steps back.

A younger version of me would already be shopping for bigger clothes and be well on the way to gaining 50lbs.

But not this time.

I have gained.  My clothes fit, at least most of them, but they're not as comfortable as I like, so I'm doing something about it.  I bought myself a journal.  I carefully wrote out some short term and long term goals, and then I further broke them down into some goals for this coming week.

The thing is, if you have managed to lose weight, that is not the end of the journey.  It is a forever kinda' thing.  You will learn tricks and tools and techniques, and if you just continue to adapt them, and know yourself, you WILL be successful.  You will.

But you need to have patience, and you need to be kind to yourself.

When I was thinking about writing this one, I couldn't help but consider, what if I was 50lbs heavier?  It's not unheard of for someone to put on that kind of weight in a year.  Trust me.  Would I still be kind to myself?  Would I still have this attitude?  Would it be OK?

Of course it would.

I cannot give up on myself, and I've decided that I can measure my success any damn way I want to, so I think that not giving up on myself is HUGELY successful.  I can reach for some of the tools I've learned, and put them into action, and just as any time before, the results will follow.

I have also learned that gaining weight is not failure.  This time around the extra pounds came as a result of a thyroid malfunction, however in past they have come as a result of challenging life circumstances or mental illness, and truth be told, I really feel like any reason is a valid one.  Perhaps you stopped caring so much about yourself - but it's because you were too busy caring about someone else.  Still a valid reason.  Sometimes we need to let ourselves go a little, so we can reach for someone, or something else.  Just don't stay there. 

The point is, though, that you find yourself recognizing that the place you're at is NOT where you want to be.  For many people, they may not have the tools to help themselves.

This is where a nutrition coach will be invaluable.  Would you like to learn the tools?  Would you like some assistance as you gain your footing?  Are you going to need support?  A nutrition coach can help you with all of these things - and then some - because if you decide to let go of your coach one day, it's OK to periodically need help again!  It's OK!  She will be there, with some more of those tools, and perhaps some new ones, and you will not be judged in any way.  That's not helpful, and it's not how she rolls.

I'm leaving the link to the absolute greatest nutrition coach, and I encourage you to reach out to her and see the value in yourself.  You are worth the investment!

I am considering myself a success.  I just am.  And I've already planned for the week ahead, and I'm looking forward to celebrating the positive outcomes with a little bit of shopping!

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Kids & Fitness. Like, Together.

One hour.
One hour is how long my workouts are.
Give or take five minutes, but one hour is not long.
Many, MANY times I've got two or three kids with me.
They often hang out in the kids area, eating snacks and watching Netflix and occasionally screaming or shouting at one another, or me.
I consider it a GIGANTIC perk at my gym, to be able to bring them any old time I might need to.
No charge.

Sometimes they derail my workouts.  Sometimes they require my attention at an inopportune time and I have to sacrifice some or all of my workout to tend to them.  Sometimes I ask for the music to be turned up, please, so that I don't have to hear them.  They've even tried to make a mad dash out the door. Life happens, kids are busy and dependent and that's OK.  I don't beat myself up over missed workouts anymore.  Take an unscheduled rest day and move on.

Always, my expectations are low, and although I'm doing my best to make sure they're not being a nuisance, I'm quite certain they are.

My oldest daughter has been making comments lately about my body.  She tells me she likes my stretch marks, my saggy areas.  She tells me my big arms are extra good at hugging.

We have always, always practiced body positivity in our house.  It has been important to me since, well, always, that we enforce that it's not OK to talk about other peoples' bodies in a negative way, and personally, I kinda' think that we should just maybe not talk about bodies.  Unless we're talking about our own, and how awesome they are, and what they're able to DO, but maybe we just, not, talk about how they look.

I was bullied as a child about my body.  I was bullied badly.  It sticks with me still, and I'll be damned if any of my kids is a bully, or is a victim of bullying, so not only do we not criticize our own bodies, but we make a point of celebrating what we are capable of, rather than what we look like.  We're supposed to work out so our bodies' look a certain way, right?  I've certainly trained for a look myself, but truthfully, I'll never give up on other goals.  I would like a 200+ back squat.  I would like to do butterfly pull ups.  I want to be able to kip those damn toes to bar, and I would like to just generally be a better athlete.  The looks part is really a secondary goal to all the other stuff.  I won't sacrifice training for any look.  Ever.

With two daughters who are growing up in what I would consider the most body conscious era ever, thanks to social media, and filters, and I am fighting harder to show them that everyone is different, and has different strengths, but ultimately, we do not talk about how bodies' look.

My youngest will be starting kindergarten in the Fall, and though I have daydreamed of this day for years - when I will be alone at the 9am class EVERY time I go, I will also miss taking him with me.  He has seen his Mom be the most consistent, simply because he has never known a pregnant Mom, and lemme tell you, I definitely created a weight loss battle for myself while preggers!

All 3 of my kids have never known anything other than a Mom who works out.  It is very, very important to me, mostly because the change in my mental health is tangible, but also because I like being fit enough to still carry my 65lb babes, two stories, to their beds, when they've fallen asleep downstairs.

Our goals as parents is to raise good, kind human beings.  If I can instill in them that taking care of their bodies' isn't an option, but something they should enjoy doing, then I feel like I will have assisted them in "leveling up".  Be nice.  And also lift some heavy shit.  And hopefully one day, we will lift heavy shit as a family.  And run races together.  This is my true dream.  💗💗

Sunday, 16 December 2018

The Big Buy In

I took my kids to Candle Lake, Saskatchewan this summer.

This place is truly magical.  Like, as soon as we're driving down the short stretch to my Grandma's cabin, I am warm, and filled with excitement, and I love so much that I get to share this little gem of a place with my family.

I felt so grateful, and content on that trip.  As if, of all the places we could be in the whole world, it was there that we were meant to be. I don't often feel like that.  I'm often driving kids here and there and everywhere and getting groceries for the 14th time in 5 days, and there are loads of mundane tasks I do that do not make me feel quite so grateful, but, during that week, I just felt, joy.

I don't live a perfect life.  There's lots of stress on my shoulders, and I have to wade through the same stank as everyone else, but in general, and most of the time, I am happy, and I work really hard for the life I live, and I work really hard to feel the way I do.  Joy is not effortless.

I spend a fair amount of time and money maintaining my wellness.  I have never, over the 20 years I've been doing this, felt one ounce of regret over this.  Not one.

I'm coming up to 40, and my views are changing, on life.  Things can change in a hot damn minute, and your kick at the can is over, and you never got a chance to debate it with the Big Guy upstairs.  It's real, and it's there, and if I don't take care of my body, my kick could be cut short, and there's a whole lot more livin' I'd like to do.

I don't mean to go down a dark path, but this is reality, and in my line of work, I see a lot of folks who are floating through their lives, waiting.  Waiting for things to get better, for something to change, for the healthcare system to heal them.  Waiting.

Aside from a period of depression I muddled through in my 20s, I can say, with certainty, that I have been a decisive captain, and held the steering wheel and guided myself to where I am.  I have done the work.  I have made things happen, and I choose to be happy with what I have, and I love the life I lead.  I have bought in BIG.  I am buying into the BIGGEST gamble.  My own life.

I am invested, and I feel like if more people were content with themselves, there might be less negativity- just in general.  Health is something that each one of us has the power to change, to improve.  My parents have joined the gym I go to, and although my Mom will say that it's not somewhere she thinks she'll ever be excited to go to, she keeps showing up.  Buying in.  Making the investment in herself.

It is NEVER too late.  Ever.  Until your can is flying through the air, you have a choice, and a chance to buy in.  The stakes are high, and it's your life on the line.  Your quality of life.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Perpetually Self-Fulfilling

Having been heavy for much of my life, and in most recent years, taken much of that off, I can tell you that it never gets old when people mention that you're looking great/fit/healthy/lean.

Ne.  Ver.

I got to my goal, I felt great, I maintained for a time, and for the most part, I am still maintaining.

The weight that I feel best at, and that my clothes look best at, is less than I currently sit.  And I have been working hard to find my resolve to get to the comfortable place.

And I couldn't.  And I am well aware that motivation is bullsh*t, and consistency is where it's at, but I just could not find that.

Losing weight is the hardest friggin' thing in the world, because the reason any of us has extra poundage, is usually because we have excess baggage we've been scared to unpack.
Being truthful with yourself and working through the hard stuff is why losing weight, and keeping it off, are so damn difficult.

I had to be honest with myself recently, and admit that I really, really love the weight loss part, but I'm not a huge fan of the maintenance part.  But, why?  The why is because I like the attention while I'm transforming.  I love it, actually.  But then you aren't losing anymore and you just, look like this now, and no one notices and the world keeps turning.  I have felt so successful and fulfilled during weight loss, and I feel as though I drift up in weight, simply to so I can go back to being a "loser", and receiving those compliments.

That's hard.  And superficial.  And narcissistic.  Ugh.

So, I've acknowledged what I think my current issue is, and in order to get to the doing-of-the-work, I am making a plan.  And I am making goals.  And I am going to find something new to feel defined by.  This body is the only one I've got, and I really respect it too much to continue to yo-yo for the rest of my life because of my addiction to the transformation.  This body deserves better.  And really, the pull ups are getting a little tougher...

Monday, 3 September 2018

Why Me?!?!

I am absolutely subject to this myself, but I am a believer that half the battle is in the recognition of the problem.

The "Why Me?!?!", mentality.

Why is losing weight so hard for ME?  And not for others.
I get really stuck in the "not fair" zone.

It's not fair that I will have to be so deliberate with my food choices for the rest of my life.
SO, unfair, in fact, that to hell with it, and I am just going to eat whatever the hell I damn well please.

For one day.  Or maybe a couple weeks.
And during that time I will feel.  Like.  Crap.

It is only when I can be grateful and content with my choices, that I stop feeling sorry for myself.  When I realize that my choices allow me to live in a body I am in love with.  That I did not say no to the donut, or french fries, or glass of wine as a form of punishment or deprivation, but rather because my goals were bigger, in that moment, than the offer.

I say, in that moment, because sometimes those goals can become quite small in my rear view mirror, and I forget where I'm going.  I find it remarkably easy to fall back into old thought patterns.  Where I'm winning the big battle, however, is in that my old behaviours don't follow.  I am able to stop myself before I'm 6 donuts deep, and not a clue where the previous 5 donuts went, or even how they tasted.  This is resolve I've never known, and it's taken a lot of work, and I am so damn proud of myself for being able to rise above my comfortable, familiar coping mechanisms.  It requires a constant reminder of my purpose.  Even though this purpose isn't finite at the moment.  There is no date, or end goal.  This is just my life, and how I am living it.  And it is messy, and hard, and I am not always happy with my food choices, but I am more kind to myself over these decisions, and I do not throw in the towel for the day, or week, or month.  I just don't give up, because I know that it's not a race.

My thyroid is waaaaaaay outta' whack right now and as a result, my metabolism is in the gutter.  I've got around 7 unaccounted for lbs that are directly related to this problem and it is my #1 priority right now to sort this issue out.  Again, I am refraining from feeling sorry for myself, because I am choosing to be grateful that of all the health ailments one can be afflicted with, mine is relatively easy to sort out, though there is quite a lot of patience required to wait for my body to adapt to new dosages.  I am working with my most favoritest nutrition gal, and I have new goals, and visions and I'm just continuing on my path, sorting out my shit along the pity party's here!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Run for Your Life

When I began writing this blog, I felt defined by running, and, newly, by being a Mom.
(It was over 7 years ago that I started this blog - which is incredible that I've stuck to any one thing for that long!)

Y'know, you can't really know what will happen in your life.
At 20, you think you have it figured out.  Your life is planned and plotted, and it will go just as such.
We have these ideas of how we'd like it to go, but it is not going to go that way, darling, I assure you.
Your life will be beautiful, though.

Muddling through the disparity of what we think, and what is, is like the human common denominator.  Everyone sorts through this in their own way, and for me, it has always been running.

Running is, and always will be, my happy place.  The time I spend with myself.  The moments I have found the most clarity.  The lyrics I've heard that have brought me to tears, or to a good hard sprint.
I feel like running has been the railroad tracks that keep me from careening off into the abyss.  And lemme' tell 'ya, most people would agree that I am a bit of a flaming hot mess, so this is a lot of load for simple ol' running to bear!

For a long. long time I was always training.  I would do a race, or two or sometimes 5 or 6, and my year would be planned, based on racing.  I would spend months training, always with long runs on Sunday mornings.  Carb loading on Saturday night was one of my favorite things in the whole world.  Such good memories of carbs...

Only running wasn't good for me, though.  I do not have a naturally slender body, which means my heaveier bod was hitting the pavement, literally, with each step, and I incurred injuries.  There have been several, generally minor and requiring a short jaunt in physio, but then I'd be back to the streets, sometimes with a slightly different gait.  I will always be a runner.  I feel strongly that it's something of a life skill.  I am so excited to share this gift with my kids!  Running keeps me healthy and fit, doesn't take much time, and doesn't require much equipment or space.  It's also super for mental health.  I have spent a few hours in a psychologists office, but I've spent many more hours running, and both have had their benefit in helping me find my way through this life.

During the training for my last big race, the goofy race,  I added weight training, and a fair amount of it, and I was not only able to more easily endure the long runs, but I had speedy recoveries, too.  I realize that lifting weights has a ton of health benefits, but I think that it's still a fairly new notion for a lot of the crowd.  What I can tell you, from experience, is that in all my years of running, which is 22 years, to be exact, I have never maintained my weight with such ease, as while I have been a lifter.  And that is just the honest truth.  More muscle = more calorie burning.  It's science, yo.

Where does running fit into saving my life?  Well, when I was 15, our family got a puppy.  A lab retriever cross.  Belle.  Over the first summer she lived with us, it became quickly apparent that she was going to require a LOT of exercise.  Being a lazy teenager, I decided to start running with her, because we could cover the same distance, with much less time.  It was also that summer that I started to deal with a past trauma that my brain had packaged up, tightly, as a form of self protection.  At first, I remembered it like I was in a cloud, above, and then, figured out that I was, in fact, watching myself.  I also learned that when I was younger, and gaining weight at an alarming rate, that in the simplistic mind of a child, making your appearance less appealing is another form of self protection.  Much of this came to light during that summer and for a few years following.  I ran through it all, and I leaned heavily on that big golden dog, as well.

I've laced up my shoes to help myself deal with breakups, with deaths, with the feelings that have come along with my physique changing (trust me, this is a whole bag I had no idea I'd opened!) and with the big emotions I have felt as a Mom, I have always known that I will be sharper, after 5km.

I have never found myself in the deep, dark places that I know many are familiar with, however I feel like I can safely say that I could easily have ended up there.  I have no idea what sorts of divine intervention have been in place for me, but someone, somewhere had me consider that running the dog would be just faster than walking, and the rest is some serious history!

I don't think it's a coincidence that I was born on the very day that the Canadian hero, Terry Fox, passed away.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Disney on a (Canadian) Dime

Today is Father's Day.
My intention today is to share some mo-nay saving tips for family holidays - specifically in Disneyland, but I wouldn't feel right posting this frivolous business before taking a minute to acknowledge the fantastic amigos in our lives.

There are four fellas in our lives who are making a tremendous difference in our kids' lives.
My brother, Garth.
My father in law, Keith.
My Dad, Murray.
And my husband, life partner, and baby Daddy, Blake.

In my life, I have never known anything but a positive, and truly, reliable, male influence.
I never doubted that my Dad would be there.  That my Uncle Matthew, 6 houses down, or my Grandpa, one block over, would be there.
They just always, were.

I realize now that this isn't always the case and it breaks my heart a little bit.  These guys have exemplified feminism before I even knew what this was.  Encouraging the women in our family with a quiet pride, so that we would always think that we could be, or do, anything.

I knew what I valued in a husband before I ever met Blake, because of all of the Dads who'd been part of the village who raised me.  He checked the boxes.  I wasn't sure children would be in the cards we were dealt.  They were.  And he is the most amazing Dad to the three kids at our house.

Happy Father's Day, guys!

OK, so I want to share a few things about our Disneyland trip that saved us MEGA bucks.  Like, mega.

Numero, Uno.
Book.  In.  Advance.  (If you can.)
We booked our trip almost a year in advance.  Through a travel agent.  (I will refer to her at the end).  This allowed us to pay off our trip when we had some extra dough.  I personally don't have $5G in an account to spend on a holiday - or else I'd be on one right now!  So, we paid when we could, and don't owe a darn thing now that we're home!

Book a hotel with a kitchen.  This was really key for us.  We are a family of 5.  That's a LOT of food.  It is 2018.  Groceries can be delivered right to your hotel.  We did this twice.  In 7 days.  Family of 5 = LOTS of eating.  Like, lots.  Snacks on snacks on snacks...and ice cream, and chips, and...we packed our lunches for the parks.  I'm quite sure packing our own lunches and snacks saved around $500 alone.  We also never wasted any time waiting in very, very long lines waiting for things like hot dogs.  Don't get me wrong, we ate snacks at the park, but the requirement was that it needed to be something special.  Anything shaped like Mickey was an automatic yes.  We also brought our own stainless steel water bottles.  Filled with ice, we just need to find a water fountain to top up and had ice cold water all day.  Lemme' tell ya?  A thirsty kid is a real bear, and to have to wait in line for a $3(USD, remember!) bottle of water would have been horrible!

Book your park tickets during the Canadian citizen special.  It's been going on for a few years, and usually comes out around February, so hopefully they have this promotion in the future.  You will save 25% on your tickets - which is basically exchange, so that helps a lot!

Book a hotel that is very close to the park, or close to a Disney parking lot.  We never spent a dime on travel.  Our hotel was saddled up right next to the Toy Story parking lot, so with a short 5 min walk we jumped right onto a bus and were dropped off in front of the parks.  20 min door to door and saved our feet!

I was very, very careful to choose the hotel we did as it had full breakfast and ALSO had, what was advertised as, a "happy hour".  Every morning, as early as 630, if we so chose, we ate a good breakfast.  Eggs, waffles, sausage, cereal, toast - lots of options!  Then, Monday through Thursday, we made sure while we were taking our break at the hotel from the crowds at the park, we grabbed this "light dinner" to eat by the pool.  The evening food was plenty enough to feed our whole family.  Burgers, soup, salads, crackers and cheese and fruit, and each night had a theme so there was loads of variety.  FA-REE, YA'LL!!  Free food is where we did most of our cost savings, truth be told.  Also, it's much easier to make wiser choices when there's salads up in yo' face!  Friday, and Sunday, we also ate dinner at the hotel.  There were BBQ's by the pool so we just ordered groceries to BBQ and ate by the pool while the kids swam!  We went for one dinner and one lunch.  That was it.

Last one, I swear!
Give your children a pre-loaded Disney card.  Only for them, and one for each of them.  You want that little trinket/piece of trash/memorabilia?  Better get your card out!  Once it was used up, that was it.  Do not ask me for more money, you had lots.  I found the kids were pretty good once they realized the limitation of the card.  Not much whining, which is not normal for this crew!  We also asked for Disney gift cards over the holidays leading up to our trip, so we went into our trip with several hundred dollars to spend at the park on Mickey-shaped ice cream and such.

If you are planning a trip to the most magical place on earth (it is NOT, I repeat, NOT, the happiest place on earth), then I highly recommend the Homewood Suites (link below).  The staff are phenomenal, and it was reasonably priced, and all of the other reasons as mentioned above.  I also recommend using Sue Faraschuk, from Discover with Sue.  She was awesome to work with and could totally handle my hot-mess-ness!  Let me know if you have any other cost-saving tips!