My Personal Reasons To Exercise: What Are Yours?

Over the years, I have tried many different types of exercise ~ running, Zumba, yoga, weight lifting, rollerblading, walking, biking, cardio classes, dance, cross-country skiing, soccer, baseball, plyometrics, home DVDs… the list goes on!

But when it came to why I exercised, I only ever saw it as a means to an end – a way to lose weight. For most of my adult life I have battled my weight and I learned early on that exercise is a key component to any weight loss endeavour.  So throughout all those years, and many different types of exercise, I always had one goal in mind – If I do this, I will lose weight and if I lose weight I will look better.

Sure, sometimes I also told myself that exericse would make me feel better too, but I don’t think I ever truly paid attention to what that meant.

Until recently…

This past winter was the first time in my thirty-six years of life that I ever realized there is far more to exercise than simply being a tool to lose weight (nevermind the fact that there are far more important things to our health than simply losing weight – that’s another blog all on it’s own) This past winter was about the third year in a row where I noticed a marked difference in my mental state.  As late fall/ winter rolled around, along with it came a dark cloud over my head.  I lost my normal ambition and positive mindset, and felt unmotivated, anxious, and very, very exhausted all the time.  I hated how I felt and it dragged on for months – until summer rolled around.

At one point though, it started to become clear to me that just as my mood and mental state could be linked to the poor weather, it could also be linked to my lack of exercise.  Since then I’ve been doing more research and am reminded again and again that there are myriad reasons to exercise – and that some are far more important in our lives than the size of our waistline!

A couple of the people I have learned this from best are my former Beachbody coach Melanie Watson and a wonderful lady I follow on Instagram (Check her out: moms.can.be.fit – she is such an inspiration!) Both of these incredible woman are constantly preaching the real reasons to work out ~ not just to lose weight (although that can certainly be a positive side effect) but to have the right kind of mindset that will get us through life! Plus, so many other reasons that help us to achieve overall vibrant health.

With this, I started to consider my own personal reasons for working out.  Although I still have weight to lose, this alone hasn’t been enough to motivate me to exericse lately (yes, I’d like to lose some weight but at the same time, I’m sort of comfortable with the weight I am now. Also, I’ve been trying really hard not to focus on my “weight” and to focus on my health so this could be why too….).

But what got me started back to exercising this morning, after being off again for a couple of weeks, was the realization that just around the corner is back-to-school/ work!  Whether I like to admit it or not, I am about to enter a season where the lazy days of summer are going to come to an abrupt end and our days will be filled to the max with schedules, work, and responsibilities.  (I’m also preparing myself for a challenging year as I will have thirty sixth-graders which is the most kids I’ve ever had in a class!)

I know that the best way for me to handle the upcoming challenges of back-to-school/work (combined with some other challenges happening in our personal lives), is to get into a regular workout routine. That led me to start thinking about all my personal reasons for working out.  You’ll see that losing weight is on the list but there’s now so much more to it than that.  I hope that when I feel the urge to skip a workout or fall off the wagon next time, I can look to this list to keep myself on track!

My Personal Reasons To Exercise

1. Happy endorphins!

2. Mental clarity and focus!

3. To feel proud of myself!

4. Mental strength!

5. Positive mindset!

6. To gain physical strength and to feel strong!

7. So I don’t feel lazy! (A feeling I loathe)

8. It motivates me to make better food choices!

9. It gives me way more energy ~ I hate the feeling of constant exhaustion!

10. To lose and/or maintain weight

11. To overcome challenges (see: mental focus!)

12. To prove to myself that I can do what I couldn’t do before ( physically and/or mentally)

13. To make some things in life easier (ie. climbing stairs, walking long distances on hot/humid days)

14. To be overall healthy, vibrant, and positive!

15. To have confidence!

16.  To look good in cute clothes!

17. To like what I see in the mirror!

18. To feel accomplished!

19. To be an inspiration to others!

20. To be an inspiration to myself!

Are there other reasons you would add to this list?  I’d love to hear them! 

 

 

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“Spring Cleaning” for Fall

autumn

I’m not sure if it’s the change of season, a little book I read this past summer called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  (check it out here), or simply my inner “to-do list”-loving self, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about cleaning out and re-organizing my home.  Like many people, I feel like the list of things to do to properly maintain our house is never-ending. There are countless jobs that have  been waiting to be done for weeks or months but we just never seem to have the time to get to them.  My husband assures me that these jobs aren’t going anywhere and I shouldn’t stress about them (and I really am trying hard not to) but sometimes a good overhaul and a little reorganization can feel incredibly satisfying.  So over the next few weeks (or months), as the days get colder outside, here’s what I plan on doing inside, to make my home a little more tidy, clutter-free, and organized.  Check out more organization inspiration below!

Yard

  1. Empty water from hose and store for the winter.
  2. Gather yard décor items, and store in garage/shed for the winter.
  3. Rake leaves and fill Pumpkin bags 🙂
  4. Check Christmas lights and replace as needed.
  5. Store small recycling box from patio in garage for winter (don’t worry, we still recycle in the winter, we just have a bigger, more efficient can to use that doesn’t get buried in snow!)
  6. Store outdoor furniture in garage for winter
  7. Toss dead plants

Bedroom

  1. Sort through clothes in closest and drawers – discard worn-out items, prepare bag for women’s shelter, re-fold or hang other items
  2. Sort through, re-organize, dust, and tidy shelves in closet
  3. Sort through book shelf and move books onto proper shelves (I totally need more bookshelves in my house!)
  4. Sort through accessories – discard or giveaway items I don’t wear and re-organize remaining items – develop system for displaying frequently worn accessories.
  5. Nail polish collection – develop a better system for storing nail polishes (they’re over-taking the top of my dresser currently!)

Bathroom

  1. Under sink – discard old or unused items, wash cupboards, and reorganize remaining items
  2. Medicine cabinet – discard old and unused items, safely discard expired medications, reorganize remaining items, wash down shelves

Kitchen

  1. Spice cupboard – discard old and unused spices, reorganize and wash down shelves
  2. Baking cupboard – discard expired or unused items, reorganize and wash cupboard
  3. Dishes – prepare box of unused items to give away, reorganize remaining dishes and kitchen gadgets, wipe down and clean shelves
  4. Cutlery drawers – sort out, giveaway or discard unused items, wipe out drawers
  5. Create better system for storing waxed papers, tin foil, etc.
  6. Display cookbooks on counter for more regular use
  7. Remove gadgets that we don’t use often from counters and store away
  8. Clean out and re-organize the “junk” drawer
  9. Food cupboards – toss expired or old items, prepare box of items for food back, reorganize and straighten remaining items, wipe down shelves
  10. Sort through items under sink – toss old items, reorganize and clean shelves
  11. Develop a system to store cleaning products under kitchen sink
  12. Develop an efficient, organized system for mail and other documents
  13. Clean off magnetic board and store items in proper locations

Dining Room

  1. Re-organize bookshelf and move books to proper location in house -discard old papers, books we no longer need.

Entryway

  1. Re-organize items in front hallway closet for better storage
  2. Develop system to make hats, mittens, scarves, etc. easily accessible.
  3. Develop a better system for shoe storage (we have very limited space!) at the front door.

Basement

  1. Create space for working out (Treadmill, weights, yoga mat, television, water jug)
  2. Re-organize storage bins in storage space under stairs
  3. Move summer items to garage or shed for storage
  4. Bring Halloween, Christmas, and winter supplies in from garage and shed and store in basement.
  5. Re-organize DVD and bookshelf – discard or giveaway old, unused items

Laundry Room

  1. Wash inside of washing machine
  2. Discard or giveaway old, unused items on storage shelves – reorganize remaining items and wipe down shelves
  3. Develop system for random items found in laundry (sole socks, coins, toys, etc.)

Miscellaneous

  1. Complete the wedding photo book that I’ve been working on online for since our wedding two years ago!
  2. Print pictures and fill frames (that we received as wedding gifts!)
  3. Change seasonal decorations

And finally…. sit back, relax, and enjoy a highly organized, tidy house!

 

A pretty way to store accessories and jewellery.

A pretty way to store accessories and jewellery.

A pretty bathroom storage solution.

A pretty bathroom storage solution.

I might have to try this for extra shoe storage!

I might have to try this for extra shoe storage!

Drawer organization for any room in the house.

Drawer organization for any room in the house.

How to organize household documents and papers.

How to organize household documents and papers.

I like this idea of using a magazine holder to hold kitchen supplies.

I like this idea of using a magazine holder to hold kitchen supplies.

A unique way to store girly essentials.

A unique way to store girly essentials.

A lovely way to store throw blankets in the living room.

A lovely way to store throw blankets in the living room.

Because every house needs more books, including the kiddos!

Because every house needs more books, including the kiddos!

With an unlimited budget, I would go crazy in a store like this!

With an unlimited budget, I would go crazy in a store like this!

 

Summer Bucket List

summer1It’s the last day of school and I couldn’t be more ready for the lazy days of summer!  The weather is simply gorgeous with the sun shining brightly and not a cloud in the sky, and I’m starting my holidays off right with a little camping trip with my family!  Although I’ll be working a part-time job this summer, I am definitely looking forward to having a lot more time on my hands and of course, spending a lot more time outdoors.  While I am a bit envious when I hear of others’ summer travel plans, there are many things I am looking forward to doing/getting done this summer. Here are some of the things I plan to do!  What’s on your summer bucket list?

1. Spend as much time as possible outside, preferably in nature.

2. Read.  A lot.  Visit our local library.

3. Take my dog for more walks.

4. Relax guilt-free.

5. Go on at least one camping trip. (check!)                                                summer4

6. Reorganize my kitchen cupboards and drawers.

7. Work in my garden

8. Check out a farmer’s market.

9. Play cards and beat my husband at cribbage.

10. Visit and play with my nieces.

11. Eat a lot of ice cream.

12. Go for drives in the country.

13.  Write on my blog.

14. Watch daytime talk shows.

15. Do more yoga.

16. Go to the gym.

17.  Try kayaking for the first time.

18. Watch the Blue Jays play at Roger’s Centre (trip already planned for our 2nd anniverary!)

19.  Spend as much time as possible near water.

20. Learn to meditate.

summer2

My Completely Incomplete List of Favourite Books

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read.  In fact, I love books in general – old books, new books, hard covers, paperbacks, and more recently, electronic books.  I love reading magazines (for those of you who don’t have the Next Issue app and love magazines, get it now!), newspapers, and blog posts too.

reading I have loved reading since I was a young child with some of my earliest favourites being classics from Dr. Seuss.  My little brother and I begged our babysitter to read And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street so many times, she eventually had it memorized.    When I got a little older, I loved to change the story line in my favourite picture books to one of my own.  My parents often tell how I’d read these “stories” aloud (to an imaginary audience, I presume) which after a time, would drive them crazy.  “Read to yourself!” they’d remind me again and again.

Eventually, I did.  I started to consumer chapter books – first, much-loved ones such as Beverly Cleary’s Beezus and Ramona and, within a few years, series like The Babysitter’s Club, Sleepover Friends, and Sweet Valley Twins. My best friend and I even had dreams of starting our own babysitting business based on our beloved series.  I was definitely that kid that got excited when the teacher said it was “independent reading” time, and was known to miss a math lesson or two due to having my nose stuck in a book.

Not only that, but while most kids spent their allowance at the corner store on candy, I couldn’t wait to get to our local mall to check out Cole’s bookstore.  I’d stand there gazing at the neat, beautiful rows of books lined up perfectly according to their number in the series, and ponder forever at which one I was going to buy.  To this very day, I can still spend hours in a book store if you let me!

These things still get me excited!

These things still get me excited!

The only thing that was more exciting than a visit to Cole’s was when our school hosted a Scholastic Book Fair. Tables upon tables with shiny new books all lined up and a crisp five-dollar bill clenched in my hand.  I remember practically having a panic attack from worrying that the book I wanted would no longer be there by the time my class got our turn to visit, and the overwhelming joy I’d feel when I finally held it in my hands.  In addition to their book fairs, Scholastic also sent out monthly flyers full of their books.  While I don’t remember ordering from these much as a child, I re-discovered them as a teacher, and most any teacher will tell you there’s not much more exciting than a cardboard box with Scholastic printed on the side and your name on the label, arriving at your school!

As a child, I also loved visiting the local library.  Back then, the library was an old building in our town that seemed so mysterious and charming to me at the time. I vividly remember that old book smell that I still love (fellow readers, you know what I’m talking about!) and the silent hush of the carpet as I perused the aisles. I remember being thrilled that I could choose to take home any book in that entire building for free. To this day, I love the library.  I love browsing up and down each aisle, my head tilted, scanning the titles on the spines of the books.  I love selecting books that have grabbed my attention and building a stack that’s ready for me to take home and devour.

Perfection.

Perfection.

That’s another thing – I always have a stack of books on the go.  Some are new and waiting to be read, some are ones I’ve already started but haven’t yet finished, and there are always a few that are old favourites waiting to be read again.  I love owning books and if I could my house would be full of bookshelves stacked full of books of all shapes, sizes, and varieties (I currently only have two shelves- both of which I have to share with my husband’s DVD and video game collections.  Although I have mentioned to him more than once that we should get more bookshelves for our house).

It was rifling through one of those bookshelves tonight that inspired me to write this post.  For awhile now I have thought of compiling a list of my favourites, but have always hesitated because of the fear that I might forget to include one of my beloveds.  But thanks to apps like Goodreads which allows you to catalogue books you’ve read and books you want to read (among many other features), I’ve been able to keep track of at least some of my favourites.  So although this list is flawed, not nearly as comprehensive as I’d like, and completely incomplete, here it is…

Enjoy!

My Completely Incomplete List of Favourite Books

  1. North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both by Cea Sunrise Person
  2. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
  3. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
  4. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  5. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  6. The Birth House by Ami McKay
  7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  8. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
  9. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  10. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
  11. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  12. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  13. Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill
  14. Little Princes:  One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
  15. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  16. The Night Circus by Erin Mortgenstern
  17. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  18. The Book Theif by Markus Zusak
  19. Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig
  20. The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

Oh and by the way, I am always looking for new book recommendations!  Please leave your suggestions in the comments!

 

8 Ways I Put Too Much Pressure on Myself (and you probably do too)

buddaLike a lot of people, I sometimes feel like the pressures of life are just too much to handle.  But lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking and have come to a pretty significant realization:  I tend to put a lot of this pressure on myself.  I blame it mostly on my Type A personality but I really need to learn to let go, to relax, and to enjoy the little things in life instead of always striving for perfection in everything I do.  Here are some of the ways I have realized I put pressure on myself. How many can you relate to?

 

1. The pressure to be productive – I feel immensely guilty if I spend an entire day sitting around doing nothing (watching TV, reading, surfing the Web are all considered “doing nothing”).  I crave the satisfaction of checking items off a to-do list and I forever have one going.  The days I feel best are the days I tire myself out endlessly completing task after task after task.  I sit back at the end of the day feeling productive and satisfied.  But eventually that all catches up with you and ultimately you just end up  exhausted and most likely, cranky.  It is a goal of mine in life to learn to rest and relax without feeling guilty.

2. The pressure to lose weight / workout/ eat healthy – I put more pressure on myself in this category than anybody else could possibly ever put on me.  It’s no joke that losing weight is challenging but I end up putting so much pressure on myself that when I slip up just a little or don’t get the results I want, I feel like I have totally failed.  One missed workout, one day with too many unhealthy indulgences often sets me right off-course. This one is definitely a work in progress.  I am very slowly learning that just like anything in life losing and maintaining a healthy weight is a journey with many ups and downs.

3. The pressure to have a highly organized, clean house – Here’s another one where I have incredibly high standards.  And with two kids and a dog that sheds like a maniac, it’s a ridiculously high standard to meet.  But for some reason, I just can not relax if my house is not tidy and clean.  And once I begin cleaning, I see more and more areas that have been neglected and need a good scrubbing. (When was the last time I cleaned those vents?  Those ceiling fans really need to be dusted.  Oh boy, let’s not even look at the base boards that could really use a wash.) I drive myself crazy with the never-ending tasks of cleaning and household jobs that need to be done. Even when I am trying to relax (see #1) I feel that I must jump up on every commercial to complete a task (put on some laundry, wipe the counters, take out garbage).  While I would like to let this one go a little, I know it will be very challenging because the thought of a tidy, clean house is just so satisfying.

4.  The pressure to look cute/ attractive  – Every woman feels this one, and I’d argue, most likely on a daily basis.  We women often put way too much emphasis on appearance, especially on our own. Take yesterday for instance: my husband and I went out to do errands.  I’d made sure to put on a new, cute top, a clean pair of jeans, had my makeup done and my hair straightened.  When we stepped out of the vehicle I looked down and realized I had accidentally worn my flip flops out of the house and I hadn’t painted my toenails (the horror!)  I mentioned it to my husband and he laughed at me (rightfully so) but it’s just one of those small things that we shouldn’t even notice, let alone worry about. Yes, you never know who you will run into when you’re out and about, but there’s a lot more to life than outward appearance.

5.  The pressures of the media – In a world where are bombarded with media messages in practically every moment of our waking hours, it’s hard not to want to meet the standard of the so-called perfection we see in these very edited, highly stylized images.  Think Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  Who’s outfit possibly looks that cute (and that expensive) every day?!  Who’s junk drawer is that organized?!  Who’s meals are consistently that healthy?  Think of home improvement shows, “reality” TV, and magazines.  Who can actually live in an all-white, pristine kitchen where everything is placed just so?!  Where is the dog hair, the spills, the kids’ messes?  Even when I attempt to take my own pictures for this very blog, the “moments” of my life look so dull and boring, compared to the highly stylized (and usually professional) images on some of my favourite blogs.  We all must remember that those tiny snapshots of others’ lives we see online are arranged to look perfect – after all, when was the last time you posted a not-so-attractive selfie?

6.  The pressure to be a good (step)Mom – Parenting is difficult. It’s completely selfless, time-consuming, and energy-draining.  (Of course, it’s not all bad but we are talking about pressures here).  I constantly feel like I can’t meet the needs of my two step-kids well enough.  I wish I could provide more for them financially, physically, and emotionally.  I wish I had more energy and time to listen to their chatter, to give them the one-on-one attention they deserve, and to help them experience their childhood to its fullest.  And while these are all fairly common, ideal expectations they can also be exhausting.  Sometimes you just have to be an “okay” parent – you can’t be perfect all the time.  You have to accept that you will yell when you should hug, that you will feed them hotdogs when it should be veggies, and that you are doing the best that you know.  You are doing your best and your kids are better for it.

7. The pressure to be a good wife – I love my husband more than anything in the world.  Because of this, I want to be the perfect wife for him.  I want to meet his needs, each and every one of them, and make him feel loved, happy, and whole.  I want to be beautiful and sexy for him, I want to be a good mother to his kids for him, I want to run an organized, tidy house for him, I want to cook delicious meals for him.  When he is frustrated, sad, or hurt, I want to make him feel better.  I want to laugh with him and have an easy relationship.  But guess what?  What would really make my husband happy, is if I simply played video games with him or went to watch horror movies with him.  His love tank is so easy to fill, yet I continue to overload it with my romanticized, ridiculous (albeit admirable) expectations of the perfect relationship.

8. The pressure to do it all & have it all – this one is basically all of the above mixed together.  The daily struggle to work hard, stay productive, look attractive, have a clean house, work out, eat healthfully, run errands, in addition to being a good wife, mother, friend, teacher, sister, daughter, human…. is sometimes utterly exhausting.  It means sometimes having to let things go.  To take a rest.  Without feeling guilty.

And you know, even those all of these things can cause me to put undue pressure on myself, they can also be motivating.  It’s okay to strive to be attractive for your husband, to be healthy, to be someone your kids can depend on it. It’s okay to have the desire to put your time to good use and to not like living in filthy messes.                                                                                                  relax

The key is having a balance.  Instead of striving for perfection, I need to learn to strive for good enough.  I need to remember that I am doing my best, even on the days when I don’t want to do anything.  And for goodness sake, I need to learn how to rest.

Without feeling guilty.

20 Random Things About Me

  1. Since I was a teen, I have loved cutting pictures out of magazines and yogamaking collages.
  2. I often have very cold hands and therefore love the feeling of running them under really warm water.  Yummy smelling soap is a bonus!
  3. I am fascinated by, and love, yoga but have still not taken very many classes (bucket list!)
  4. I constantly have a huge stack of books on my night-table – several waiting to be read and always some of my favourites in case I ever want to read them again.
  5. I would love to own a home with a huge front porch.
  6. My dream is to have a house full of bookshelves jammed pack with books of all kinds.
  7. I find things like dance (all types), figure skating, cheerleading, and yoga all ready beautiful, impressive, and inspiring!
  8. I have always wanted to learn how to dance on pointe.    pointe
  9. I love it when my body feels physically strong.
  10. I would love to have extremely strong, ripped legs.
  11. I love the satisfaction of making lists (go figure!)
  12. I dream of some day owning lakefront property (home or cottage).
  13. Sometimes I love rainy summer days, so I have a good excuse to stay in and read.
  14. I am terrified of the woods at night.
  15. Since I was young, I have been scared of looking out windows at night.
  16. I love burning candles:  I love their sweet scents and the beauty of candle light.  I find it so calming and peaceful.
  17. Some day I will splurge and by myself something at Lululemon.
  18. I am a terrible gardener but would love to have a beautiful yard filled with all kinds of shrubs, greenery and flowers like peonies and  hydrangeas.
  19. No matter how many different colours I try, I still like bright finger nail
    Who could say no to this face?!

    Who could say no to this face?!

    polishes the best.

  20. I really want to own an English bulldog someday.

My Top 15 Reasons for Getting Healthy

In light of my family’s new plan to “get back on track” and starting eating better and being more active, I have compiled my personal list of reasons to lose weight and get healthy.  If, like me, you are looking for some motivation, maybe some of these will help! DSC00971

1. To feel better about my body again

2. To have more energy and motivation

3. To feel better physically (less aches, pains, and stiffness!)

4. To be a good role model for my children (less preaching, and more practicing!)

5. To improve my future health (family history of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, mental illness)

6. For better mental health

7. To feel proud of myself

8. To wear cuter clothes (especially all those ones packed away in my basement that no longer fit!)

9. Because it’s easier to shop for smaller sizes

10. To like what I see in pictures and in the mirror

11. To wear my wedding gown again (rock the dress session!)

12. So my wedding rings will fit better and I can actually take them off again

13. To be strong and fit

14. To set and meet new goals

15. To be an inspiration for myself and others

Check out some of my past pictures that I currently use for motivation!

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