A Lesson Learned Again….

Well, guys, it’s been seven days since I’ve been eating healthier and working out regularly again and up until today everything has been going pretty great!  I’m sort of following the 21 Day Fix program – basically using the containers as guidelines for proper portions and to limit certain things like my carb intake and increase certain things like fruits and veggies.  I’ve also been doing the 21 Day Fix workouts which, until today, have been totally awesome!  I love that the workouts are only thirty minutes and that I can do them in my own basement.

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But today, I learned a lesson.  I’d been having a so-so day nutrition-wise to begin with because we’d stay at my parents’ place overnight and there are alot of temptations there.  I’d made the best of the situation but had already over-eatenmy carb intake (and it had been white bread to boot!). Plus, I’d drank quite a bit of coffee with french-vanilla flavoured cream which has a pretty high sugar content (it is so damn delicious that I’m just not ready to give it up yet!) Anyway, after getting back into town, due to some unforeseen circumstances, my family and I ended up grabbing dinner on the go tonight.  (I had planned to have roast chicken and salad for dinner but like I said, unforeseen circumstances…). We went to a little diner that is attached to the arena where my son was playing hockey.  Guys, this place has the best poutine I’ve ever eaten in my life.  So I convinced myself that since I’d done so well nutritionally for seven days that I deserved to splurge, so I went ahead and ordered a small poutine and ate almost all of it.

So where’s the lesson?  Again, you’d think I would have learned this one by now but I guess I’m still learning.  I think each time it happens it becomes more and more obvious to me: crappy food really does make me feel crappy!  Within an hour after eating that poutine, my stomach began rumbling and I started having cramps similar to what I get with my ulcerative colitis.  I was uncomfortable for the entire hockey game and the whole ride home.  In an effort to make myself feel better physically when we got home, I decided to do the 21 Day Fix Pilates work. Guys, I hate Pilates.  I’ve taken classes before and just hate it.  I find the moves so difficult and feel clumsy and uncoordinated when I do it.  But I was in my basement, and it was the next workout on the 21 Day Fix DVD that I’v been following, so I decided to give it a try.  Well, even though I was alone, I felt like a total fool trying to do this workout!   Next thing I knew, tears were streaming down my cheeks.  I was crying!  Now, I am proud to say that I did finish the workout, but I hated every minute of it!  I felt overweight, weak, and uncoordinated.  I was angry and disappointed with myself. Even when it was done, I still felt like total crap.  I was suddenly cranky, moody, and feeling down on myself.

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So there’s another thing I learned tonight.  Not only does unhealthy food make me feel terrible physically but it really does make me feel terrible emotionally too!  Between all the sugar I had consumed today (which had already been making my head feel fuzzy) and the poutine, I suddenly felt so down-in-the-dumps, frustrated and sad. Crazy!

The part that frustrated me most about all of this, though, is that I feel like I should have known better.  Even though I just got back to eating healthier a week ago, within days I’d been feeling the positive effects!  Not only had my mood improved, but more importantly, almost all of my UC symptoms had disappeared.  It had improved so quickly, in fact, that when my prescription ran out a couple of days ago, I decided to go without it for now since I’d been doing so well.  But after just one day of eating badly, the symptoms were back!  There is no way this is just a coincidence!

Anyway, as frustrating and disappointing as it all is, tomorrow is a new day!  I am grateful that I learned this lesson today (even if it was a tough one to learn) and I only hope that I will remember how terrible I felt today, next time I am craving junk food!

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Wish me luck!

 

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My Intentions for 2017

Happy New Year!

Like many, I love the fresh start of a new year.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting over the last little while to try to decide what my resolutions will be this year.  I love exploring different sources for creativity and inspiration, and a theme that keeps coming up over and over again, and one I am really latching on to, is the notion of self-care.

img_1011Self-care is unique to the individual so it really means figuring out what is right for you.  Here’s what I’ve discovered so far about the components of my own self-care practice that I hope to implement this year.

PHYSICAL HEALTH

Exercise

This year, I’ve decided to cancel my gym membership and find different kinds of exercise that I truly enjoy.  Some things I plan on doing are:  walking my dog, cross-country skiing, hiking, at-home basement workouts (cardio, strength training, weights). I’ve also finally registered for my first yoga series at a local yoga studio that I can’t wait for.

Nutrition

I’ve decided to commit to cleaning up my diet for a few reasons.  One, I’ve continued to struggle with ulcerative colitis and am hoping that by making changes to my diet, it will improve my symptoms and eventually put me back into remission.  Secondly, I want to be in the best physical shape of my life and I know a huge part of that is eating properly.  I’ve decided to try something different and have recently started the 21 Day Fix in hopes that a new program will give me the motivation I’ve been lacking.  Finally, I know that eating healthy foods (and cutting back on the unhealthy ones) will give me more energy and help alleviate a lot of the fatigue I have been feeling.

Water

As part of my new nutrition program, I am trying to consume more water on a daily basis.  I find drinking out of a reusable water bottle helps me to get my daily water intake and also helps me to easily keep track of how much I’ve consumed.

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MENTAL / EMOTIONAL

Yoga

Besides its physical benefits, yoga positively benefits our minds helping us to become more mindful, release negative thoughts, and open our hearts to love, light, and peace.  Yoga helps me to feel relaxed and helps me to slow down the rush of day-to-day life.  I am really excited to get started on my yoga journey!

Journaling

The main reason I started this blog was to have an outlet for creativity.  While others may paint, dance, sing, or scrapbook, my creative outlet is writing.  I think a lot and sometimes my brain feels overloaded with too many things.  Journaling helps me to release some of the things I am thinking about which eases my mind.  Furthermore, it allows me to express myself and reach out to others in a positive way.

Slowing Down

As I get older, I find I crave a more simple and quietwe life.  The drama, chaos, and negativity that thrive in the world, make me upset and make me desire a slower, simpler pace. This year, I intend to slow down my daily activities whether it’s my morning routine, driving, reacting to the choices of others, teaching, or just day-to-day tasks.

Being Outdoors

Until recently, I never truly understood the benefits of spending time in nature.  Lately though, I’ve realized that being outside makes me feel overall more positive, calmer, happier, and more at peace.  I’ve even found a new appreciation for our Northern Ontario winters.  I’ve finally realized that fresh, outdoor air and quality Vitamin D is essential to my mental health.  This year, I intend to spend more time outdoors by doing things like: walking (with friends, my hubby and my dog), hiking, cross-country skiing, skating on outdoor rinks, camping, and exploring the woods.  When summer rolls around, I may even try canoeing or kayaking!

Home

One of the places I love being the most is at home.  Our house is small but it is cozy and it’s one place where I can (usually) fully relax.  Most of the time, this happens in my favourite arm-chair, with a cuddly blanket.  Nearby, you’ll find my water bottle, sometimes a coffee, the latest book I am reading, my Chapstick, my hand cream, my iPhone, and my iPad.  Next to me, my husband is watching TV from the couch with our fur baby curled up beside him.  Another favourite place in my home is my bedroom. I love the cozy weight of our duvet, the coolness of our pillows, the light pouring in from behind our white, gauzy curtains.  On my nighttable, I have a simple statue of Buddha that helps me to feel peaceful before bed.  I love long, slow mornings lounging in bed on the weekend with my husband and our dog, scrolling through social media, reading, or making plans for the day.

Of course, there is always room for improvement in our home.  While I have some projects I’d like to see happen this year, there are a few simple things I can do to help make my home even more cozy.  I’ve started listening to acoustic music when doing household tasks.  I love lighting candles around my home.  I love the greenery of dispersing plants throughout our house. I love having cuddly blankets and pillows.  I am also considering putting up some white twinkly lights in my bedroom to help create a cozy, romantic, warm space.

Relationships

There is nothing in life more important to me than the relationships I have.  I am very blessed to be surrounded by so many special family members and friends.  This year, I hope to cultivate those relationships even more by paying more attention to my loved ones’ needs and showing more kindness and appreciation where I can.  I hope to stay in better contact with friends that live far away and to visit my three, precious nieces more often.  There’s nothing that makes my heart feel fuller than time spent with those I love.

Parenting

Parenting is a tough job, and I would argue that step-parenting is even harder, especially to two teenagers.  That being said, this year I intend to practice more patience when it comes to parenting.  I am a highly sensitive and emotional person that tends to react too quickly to feelings of stress, frustration, hurt, or anger.  This year, I will pause and think before reacting to these kinds of situations.  I will listen, not half-heartedly, but really listen to their needs and interests when they talk so that they feel the love and attention they deserve.  In essence, I will be kinder and more loving to my children.

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SPIRITUAL

Mindfulness

This year, I hope to practice being more mindful and fully present in the moments of my life.  By slowing down my day-to-day routines, I hope to notice the small things that make life so pleasurable (example: the beauty of the snow-covered evergreens that line my route to work).  Practicing mindfulness will also fill my heart with gratitude, faith, and love.

Yoga / Meditation

I am excited to learn more about yoga and meditation this year and hope to discover more about myself through the practice of both.  I plan to explore some guided meditations and perhaps even create a yoga space in my basement surrounded by things that inspire and motivate me.

Light

For me, light is both figurative and literal.  Especially in the long, dark days of winter, spending as much time in daylight is crucial.  It’s one of the reasons I always open the blinds in my home and in my classroom, and switched all my indoor supervision duties for outdoor ones.  But light can also be figurative. For me the notion of bringing light into my life means to bring positivity and happiness ~ something I definitely intend to do this year!

Morning Intentions

At school each morning, our principal asks us to take a moment of silence to reflect on our day.  Each day, I use that time to set some intentions for myself, for my students and co-workers, and for my loved ones.  Recently, I have starting sharing my morning intentions via Facebook as a means of sending hope and light into the world. Also, by writing down my intentions, it allows me to reflect on them and express them more clearly.

Gratitude

Similar to my morning intentions, I sometimes share daily expressions of gratitude on my Facebook account.  Again, writing these thoughts helps me to see them and feel them more clearly.  But it’s also my intention to help others recognize the small, simple things in life that we have and to realize how very blessed we are.

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What are your goals / resolutions / intentions for the New Year?  Whatever it may be, I hope your year is filled with love, light, peace, and positivity!  💕

Learning Curve

Just recently I wrote a post about my new realization about how closely linked my mental health is to my daily exercise and nutrition.  It’s something I should have recognized years ago, but for whatever reason I didn’t. Perhaps I was too caught up in my efforts to lose weight simply to look better and to fit some kind of ideal that I thought my body should be.  But after dealing with feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, lack of motivation, and mild depression for some time now, I finally made the link. What I eat and how much (or how little) exercise I get, truly matters.

I put this new information to the test immediately.  I started out slowly – cutting gradually back on the amount of sugar I consumed, going for a brief walk, and ensuring I went outside for at least 20 minutes each day.  Within just a few days, I felt the positive effects. I was still tired after a day’s work, but I wasn’t completely exhausted.  In fact, I had enough energy to be more productive at home in the evenings and didn’t actually feel really tired until bedtime instead of my typical 4 p.m. crash.

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That was two weeks ago.  Last week, I started to let things slip. It started when we headed out of town for my son’s hockey tournament.  For convenience’s sake, we ate at fast-food restaurants several times (burgers and fries mostly).  We stayed at my parents’ place which is packed full of every treat and goody you can imagine at this time of year!  On top of that, Mom graciously hosted a Christmas party, complete with all my favourite appetizers.  After a weekend of indulgences and eating “crap”, I was determined to get back on track with my new-found habits on Monday. But when Monday rolled around, I had no energy.  I dragged myself through the day at work, over-ate at the potluck lunch, and when I got home, collapsed with exhaustion.  I’m too tired from the crazy weekend, I told myself, I’ll workout tomorrow. 

Tuesday came and all of Monday’s leftovers were pulled out of the fridge at work. Without thinking twice, I ate another huge plate of mostly unhealthy foods.  Then I had a huge piece of chocolate cake for dessert.  I dragged myself through Tuesday and collapsed with exhaustion when I got home. I skipped yoga at the gym, although I did attend my Weight Watchers meeting (how I dragged myself out of the house, I am not sure).  When I got home, I put on my pyjamas and promised I’d work out the next day. Later that evening, feeling agitated and overwhelmed, I got into a fight with my teenaged daughter and cried myself to sleep.

Then came Wednesday.  It was another hard day at work.  Granted, it’s the week before Christmas and I teach ten-year-olds, but the reason it was so difficult, was because I simply had no energy.  Sure, it’s safe to say that most teachers feel this way at this time of year (the typical pre-Christmas Break burn-out), but I knew that all the crap I had been eating and my lack of workouts was contributing more to my sluggishness than anything else. For the third day in a row, I immediately changed into pyjamas when I got home and buried myself under blankets on the couch.

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Normally, I would have sat there wallowing in self-pity and asking myself over and over again, why am I so tired?  Why don’t I have any energy? Why do I feel like crap?  But when you know better, you do better and know I know that the reason I feel like this is because of my poor nutrition and lack of exercise.

Although I just wanted to hibernate for the third night in a row, I knew it would only lead to making me feel worse the next day.  So I reached out to my friends in Weight Watchers on our online support group.  I confessed how terrible I was feeling and within minutes, one of my friends was urging me to get out for a walk.  I decided right then and there that that’s what I had to do.  I didn’t even hesitate to think about it (for fear that I would too easily find an excuse not to go).  I closed my iPad, got dressed in my outdoor gear, hooked my dog to his leash, and headed out.

I was so proud of myself for actually getting up and doing it that my motivation and energy immediately increased.  In fact, it jolted me awake so dramatically that rather than take my normal, short route, I set out on a much longer route.  Fifty minutes later (and lots of trudging through deep snow), I had completed my walk and my motivation to take care of myself was back.  This morning, on my coffee break when I usually indulge in sweets, I headed out for another walk and took in the mild weather and gorgeous sunshine peaking through the clouds.

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It’s still absolutely incredible to me how simple it is to change our emotions and mental state into positive ones, yet so many people like me get sucked so easily into the dark hole of lethargy, fatigue, and depression.  It’s all the more reason to remember just how critical proper nutrition and daily exercise really is.  I am so happy that I have finally make this crucial realization!

 

 

My Newest (and most Important) Reason to Get Healthy!

I feel like I’ve made a revelation of sorts recently.  In fact, it’s one that’s so huge, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure it out.  It seems like something I should have realized years ago, but somehow I missed the boat.  It’s taken me almost twenty years to realize this:

Nutrition and exercise are directly related to mental health.

As I said, it seems so obvious that I can’t believe I never really saw or understood that before.  I mean, sure I’ve read it and heard it, but it’s never hit home for me until now.

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For me, losing weight was always about looking good.  It was about trying to meet some kind of ideal of “healthy” and “thin” which I always, always linked with beautiful, sexy, successful.  For years the desire to be those things was enough to make me want to lose weight.  But something has shifted in my life and although I still want to be beautiful, sexy, and successful, those things in themselves don’t seem to be enough to motivate me to put in the hard work that it takes to lose weight and maintain it.

So I’ve been struggling.  I haven’t been able to find the inspiration and the motivation to get back on the wagon.  Terrible eating habits and nights on the couch in my PJs are my daily routine again.

Also part of my daily routine, especially at this time of year, are a major lack of motivation, incredible feelings of laziness, always, always feeling exhausted, and some feelings of anxiety, overwhelmness, and hopelessness.  Not to mention headaches, bloating, gas and a multitude of digestive problems.  Ugh.

Why did it take me so long to link the two?

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For the first time, in my decades-long journey of weight loss, I have finally found a source of inspiration that I believe could be a real turning point in my life.   It’s like a giant, golden light bulb has gone off and what I have been looking for for years, is suddenly here, loud and clear.

I have a new, and significant, reason to want to eat better and exercise. Because now I know that doing those two things will impact my life in ways I may have experienced but never really understood before.  Fueling my body with healthy foods and exercising won’t just make me “skinny” and “self-confident”, it will directly impact my mental health and in essence, my overall life.

It will give me energy again.  It will give me the fuel I need to make it through the day.  It will alleviate my headaches and prevent me from feeling so tired by 4 p.m that I don’t want to do anything but bury myself under a blanket and never come out or cry. It will help to heal my digestive issues, build physical strength to prevent achy legs and hips, and take away the bloating and gas I so often deal with.  It will improve my self-confidence and drive me to want to improve other areas of my life.  It will fill me with positive self-talk and help me to be kinder, more gentle, and more patient with others – all things I want so desperately in my life but often don’t have the energy for.

I still can’t believe I never understood this before! 

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Many times my husband has told me that he thought I was “happier” during the few years in my life when I had met my goal weight, was working out like crazy, and eating on plan.  For so long, I disagreed with him.  I even wrongly perceived his comment. I took it as his way of saying that he prefers me to be skinny rather than overweight. I would shrug off his comment with the argument that I am just as happy now as I was back then.

But now I finally realize what he meant.  It doesn’t mean that I am unhappy now.  It’s just that the habits I had established then had such a direct impact on all aspects of my life.  It’s that eating well and working out regularly affects you in so many ways that I didn’t even realize it.  Yes, it’s possible to be happy without diet and exercise in your life, but it’s so much easier to be happy with those things.

For the last several months I have wallowed in self-pity and guilt. I have felt discouraged and was searching desperately for reasons to justify my lack of healthy eating and working out.  And now I can so clearly see that all that was doing was bringing more negativity into my life.

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So finally, finally, finally I feel like I have found my motivation again.  I have always known that eating healthy foods and exercising is important but I just couldn’t find the inspiration to do it.  Now that it is so obvious to me the direct impact they have on my mental health (and overall well-being) it doesn’t seem so daunting.  And although a new year is just around the corner, and it’d be so easy to say I’ll just start then, this new reason to want to get healthy doesn’t seem like something that can wait.   It needs to happen now.  And I can’t wait to get started!

 

Happy, Loved, and Free

I think I am okay with being 180 lbs….

I never thought I’d say that.  If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have been terrified of weighing that much. I had weighed that once and more (193 pounds at my heaviest) and was terrified of going back there.  I had worked long and hard at losing weight and I was successful, dropping a total of 65 pounds altogether.  Each time I dropped ten poundsI wanted to drop another ten.. and another ten….and another ten.  I’ll admit, it became sort of an addiction.  The more results I got, the more I wanted.  The more weight I lost, the more my confidence soared.  As smaller clothes began to fit, I found a new love of shopping that was thrilling and fun.  The further I could run, the further I wanted to go.

Most of all, when I lost weight, I felt like I had won the lottery.  After all, I had achieved the dream that nearly every woman (and a lot of men) are trying to achieve.  Who isn’t fighting a battle against their weight?  I was complimented, praised, and celebrated everywhere I went.  People were constantly telling me how great I looked, asking me for advice, and remarking on my achievement.  I could feel their envy and it made me feel powerful.

But then a medical issue caused me to have to stop running and, over time, I let my eating habits slip and started to gain back the weight I had lost.  Before I knew it, it seemed, I had gained back ten pounds, then twenty, then thirty…and eventually I saw that terrifying number on the scale –  193, the place where it had all started….. I was mortified.

I think I hated myself in that moment. After all, I had promised myself that I would never gain back all the weight.  I would never weigh 170 or 180 pounds again much less 193.  I felt fat and gross, and angry with myself.  I felt like a failure and a disappointment.  I felt shame and guilt.  The power I had had slipped away because now I was just another person who had lost all the weight and gained it all back – like so many others.  All my confidence and self-esteem that had once soared, suddenly plummeted.

And along with the weight, came the age-old battle, the struggle, and the never ending pressure –  the seemingly eternal battle of trying to love myself the way I am, or working to better myself by losing weight.  (I’ve always had a hard time accepting that the two can happen simultaneously and I still do).  I’ve tried getting back on weight loss programs (and have had some success) but then I’d fall right back off again.

But after obsessing over my weight for so long, I have to admit that I’m tired of the pressure I put on myself. I’m tired of obsessively thinking about eating right and working out and feeling guilty and shameful if I don’t do either of those things.   I’m tired of saying no to my favourite foods and feeling resentful that others can enjoy treats and I have to limit myself.  So for a little while I just kind of gave up altogether.

It wasn’t easy at first.  I kept telling myself You need to workout.  If you keep eating like this, you’re going to gain weight and regret it.  It’s just a matter of time before all this junk food catches up with you. You should do this… you should do that…. It just went on and on and on.

But then suddenly something happened that I can’t recall having experienced in a very, very long time.  Suddenly the issue of my weight wasn’t really bothering me.  I’d eat something unhealthy and not feel too guilty about it.  I’d skip the gym and not feel an immense guilt eating away at me as I cuddled up at home with a book and a hot cocoa.  Most importantly, I’d pass by a mirror and actually kind of like what I saw.

So now, instead of thinking of everything I should do, I am thinking a little bit differently.  I’m thinking What if I just stopped thinking about it?  What if I stopped putting the pressure on myself to lose weight?  What if I stopped viewing 180 pounds as something so terrible and start to truly understand that it’s just a number?  What if I start telling myself that it’s okay to feel good about the person I am now even if I’m a little overweight?  What if my weight isn’t the most important thing in my life right now?  What if in almost every other aspect of my life I am happy, fulfilled, and content?  Then couldn’t I just try to let this go and focus on that?

Of course, it’s not all as easy as it may seem. My inner voice sometimes tells me that this is just my latest excuse.  It tells me that if I am not constantly thinking of my weight it will get out of control and I’ll end up far worse off than I am now.  It tells me that I am scared of failing again so I’d just rather not try.

But while that little voice is still there, a bigger voice is starting to emerge.  It’s reminding me how happy I am right now.   I have a wonderful marriage, two happy children, a loving family, a career that I love, a lot of friends, activities that I enjoy, time for myself, good health… My life is amazing right now and it’s been quite a while since I’ve truly felt this happy.

And while this change in my thinking is happening, other things are starting to change too.  Before when I was overweight, I always struggled to get dressed and feel good in whatever it was I was wearing. I felt like I never looked as cute in my clothes as the girls with the tiny waists and longed for the day when I could fit into an XS again. But now, even though I’m bigger again, I have a closet full of clothes that I love to wear and that I feel good in.  When I look in the mirror instead of fixating on my flaws, I see some of my prettier features – my thick eyelashes, my pretty hair, and my big, happy smile.  Of course, that’s not to say, I still don’t have moments where I notice things I don’t like about the way I look (I am human after all), but more and more the size of my body just isn’t one of those things.

And now when I look back on my “skinny” pictures I am starting to feeling different.  Not so long ago, I’d look at these pictures and pray to look like that again. The feeling of disappointment for “letting myself go” would grow inside of me and I’d feel sad looking at those pictures knowing I no longer look like that.  But now, I am happy to say I can look at those pictures and feel okay about it. I loved how I looked then. liked my hair, the muscle definitions in my arms and legs, and how I could wear tight-fitting dresses and look awesome in them.  The only difference is, when I look at those pictures now I’m not filled with shame and disappoint for not looking like that anymore.  I loved myself then and I think finally I am starting to love myself now.

Because after years of obsessing over my weight, I am finally, maybe, starting to understand that the number on the scale is just that.  A number.   That number is not going to own my self-worth anymore.  It’s not going to make a perfectly happy day, suddenly sad.  It’s not going to be a reason to celebrate or a reason to punish myself.  It’s just a number…

Instead, what I am trying to focus on now is not just a number on a hunk of metal, but how I truly feel about my weight and my body.  The day when what I am eating and what exercise I am doing (or not doing) starts to affect how I am feeling in a negative way, will be the day I pick up my socks and get back on the weight-loss wagon.

But for now, I am happy.  I’m beginning to listen to my true self instead of listening to that voice that tells me what I should do.  It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders ever since I removed that pressure of having to see a certain number on the scale. Instead now I focus on how I feel, and right now I feel happy, loved, and free.

What an incredible feeling!

So Blessed, So Happy

Three weeks into September, I think it’s safe to say that we’re back into a routine.  After the long lazy days of summer, I was feeling all kinds of emotions about heading back to school, but now that we’ve been back a few weeks, I can honestly say I’ve been feeling nothing but happy lately.

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Last December, I made a life decision that has done nothing but benefit my life.  I made the choice to quit my part-time job that I had been working on the side since I became a teacher ten years ago.  For much of my teaching career, I’ve only been able to secure short-term contracts so always needed some kind of additional work to help make ends meet.  But finally, two years ago I secured a permanent position with my school board – and this year, that position finally became 100% full-time.

I’ve always had a job since I was 13 years old and have always believed myself to be a hard worker.  Even when I was in my undergrad at university, I often worked two part-time jobs on the side so I could do the best to support myself and not have to depend on my parents or too many student loans.  This continued well into my early 30s as I struggled to secure a career in a market that was over-run with qualified teachers, and build a family and a life with my husband and stepchildren.

But last December, the time to leave my second job behind finally came.  This decision wasn’t easy to make.  First of all, I felt like my family needed the extra money – no matter how much we make, there never seems to be enough.  But secondly, I had finally landed a part-time job that I actually loved (working retail in a clothing store).  The work was enjoyable but the staff of ladies I worked with were what made the job so wonderful – they were incredibly lovely and made such an amazing team.  Plus, I got a great discount on clothes!

But the stress a second job added on my life was nearly unbearable.  I taught all week, marked assignments, planned lessons, cooked dinners, tidied our house, did laundry, and took care of my family.  When the much-anticipated weekend finally arrived, I had another schedule to meet – shifts at the mall- which sucked up the time I’d normally spend on the weekend cleaning my house, catching up on laundry, cooking for my family – not to mention, relaxing and taking some time for myself.   There were days where I’d get home from school at 4:30, have to been at work again for 5 pm, and not get home until 10 pm or later (in my waitressing days).

The stress of that lifestyle was taking its toll.  I had to start anxiety meds, I was always cranky and irritable with my family, and I was constantly worried about not having time to do the things I felt I needed to do to be a good wife, mother, teacher, and friend. I felt like my life was spiralling out of control. I cried a lot and I felt panicky and overwhelmed all the time.

Finally, last November I was at my breaking point.  I couldn’t take the stress of two jobs anymore – I was seriously concerned about my own mental health, which was also affecting the well-being of my family.  (Not to mention, I am pretty sure I already struggle with some level of Seasonal Affective Disorder – a kind of depression that creeps in when the season changes – usually around October/November for me).  Finally, the day came where I had to make a decision.  I seeked the advice from my doctor who advised me to leave my second job and assured me that I could maintain a satisfactory lifestyle without the added income.  My husband was tried of having an over-worked, cranky wife (and of having to cheer me up all the time).  With a heart that felt guilty for diminishing my family’s income and for leaving the wonderful women who I worked with, I gave my two-week’s notice (in the midst of the insane Christmas rush no less).  My boss hugged me and was incredibly understanding which lifted the crushing guilt I had been feeling.  (To this day, she is one of the sweetest, most genuine women I’ve ever met!)  I worked my last shift on Boxing Day and bitter sweetly said goodbye to my amazing co-workers (and awesome discount).

As the summer neared and another school year came to an end, I started to think about all the free time I was going to have.  For a brief few moments, I considered going back to my part-time job for the summer (which I would promptly leave in late August so I wouldn’t have to work two jobs again).  But my husband put his foot down and said no.  He knew that if I went back to work, I probably wouldn’t quit come August, and we’d be right back to where we’d been before.  And I knew he was right (plus, who doesn’t want a work-free summer?!)

So I took the summer off (for the very first time since I had my first job when I was just thirteen years old), and it was marvellous.  My days were wide open and I could fill them with whatever activities I wanted, without having to check any kind of schedule.  If my parents planned a camping trip, I tagged along without having to book the weekend off work.  If my cousins were visiting from out-of-town, I could go stay at mom and dad’s and visit family for a whole week.  Or I could just stay at home, read a lot of books, go for walks with my dog, and get little projects around the house down.  It felt amazing and so stress-free.

Relaxing this summer

Relaxing this summer

And now it’s September.  We’re going into our third week of school which means I’m back to working full-time.  I generally leave my house at 7:30 am and get home just before 5 pm.  I usually stay late after school to get all my marking and lesson planning done so I don’t have to bring any work home.  And now, when I get home I don’t have to rush out the door to my second job.  I get to cook dinner for my family, take the dog for a walk, and then have an entire evening to relax.  Life is so good.

Then there are the weekends.  We’ve had three weekends since school went back in and each one has been perfect.  I love the feeling of productivity and I’ve found the time to get projects done at home (washing bedding, cleaning, preparing freezer meals for busy week nights), but I’ve also found tons of time to relax and take time for myself.  The weekends used to make me feel panicked.  I’d wake up on Saturday morning and a long-list of to-dos would immediately take over my mind.  I’d start trying to figure out how I was going to get everything done in between my shifts at the mall.  I’d start to panick as I realized my weekend was going to slip away, drowned in more work, and I’d be left with no time to relax, before the vicious cycle started up again Monday morning.

Now I have lots of time to snuggle with this guy on the weekends.

Now I have lots of time to snuggle with this guy on the weekends.

But now that I’m not working two jobs, this season isn’t feeling so stressful.  In fact, I feel so incredibly happy lately.  My life feels so much more simple and fulfilling.  I’m so happy with  my new school, my wonderful new co-workers, and my amazing group of students who have impressed me so far.  I love spending my time on the weekends hanging out with my family, cooking (something that only ever stressed me out before) and still having time to take a nap or watch mindless TV.   And the thought of being able to slip away for a weekend to see family without having to book a weekend off is incredible.  There are moments on the weekend now where I look at the clock and can’t believe I still have so much time left before Monday morning rolls around.  It’s unbelievable and I feel so blessed.   Because now I have more time to do what matters most in life – spend time with my family and spend time with myself.  The benefits far outweigh any amount of added income.

Happy Sunday, guys!

xo

 

 

Do What You Want, Not What You Should

I’m struggling today.  It’s the same old problem that I am faced with so often – the decision between doing what I think I should be doing versus doing what I actually want to do.

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It’s beautiful out today.  It’s warm and sunny with a perfectly cool breeze.  It’s the last unofficial weekend of summer and the weather is perfect.  I should be outside.  Summer is so short around here, I should be soaking it all up before the weather turns dark, gloomy, and cool.  I should be out in nature, enjoying a hike or visiting my friend who is camping for the weekend, because I know it will be good for my mind, body, and soul.

But instead, I’m curled up on the coach, unshowered, still in my pyjamas, and wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket.  Because I’m tired, and it’s cozy here, and I don’t feel like moving.  I slept in today too – until nearly 10:30.  Then I laid in bed for nearly another hour playing on my phone and just dwelling in the cool comfort of my bed and the wonderful company of my husband and our dog.

I did get up after that and make pancakes for the family.  I even tidied up the kitchen.  I had intentions to shower. I told my friend I would drive half an hour to see her at her campsite.  We’d go for a walk or maybe to the beach.  I could stop at the grocery store and stock up on the few things we need for lunches this week.  I could take something out of the freezer and plan dinner.  And lord knows, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, there’s laundry to do, lessons to be planned, the list goes on….

Haha, love this one!

Haha, love this one!

But I don’t feel like doing any of those things.  I don’t even feel like getting dressed.  I’m even seriously considering ordering pizza for dinner. The Jays game is on, my husband and dog are here with me, and I am comfy and content laying here on the couch – other than the bit of guilt that is eating away at me…

My husband has a theory.  Whenever I complain that I have so much to do, he tells me “You’re an adult.  You can do whatever you want.”  I usually counter back with, “Yes, but adults have responsibilities” as I continue working my way through my never-ending to-do list.  And it’s not that my husband neglects those responsibilities (although he is a procrastinator), it’s just that he understands and accepts the whole notion of having the freedom to do what he wants rather than what he should be doing.

At the beginning of this year, I claimed the mantra “good enough” for myself in the hopes that I’d learn to let things go and step away from being such a perfectionist in so many areas of my life.  But, despite my good intentions, somewhere along the way I have forgotten what it means to let things be just good enough.

Now that back-to-school is just around the corner (two days!), I’m clinging desperately to this notion of doing what I want instead of what I should because I know in just a few days time, the slow, lazy days of summer that I’ve enjoyed are going to come to a screeching halt and my life is going to become chaotic again.  There will be alarms to wake up to, busy mornings, jobs and school to get to, laundry to do, lunches and dinners to make, errands to run, lessons to plan, a house to clean, assignments to mark, practices and clubs to bring kids to…. You get the idea.

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For me, my personal time is so important.  I’m a bit of a day-dreamer, an over-thinker.  I like time to explore my personal interests and to find inspiration for new ideas.  I like a schedule that’s wide open so I can decide each day what I feel like doing (and not just what I have to do). I like time to write and read books for pleasure. This is what this summer has been all about and it’s been glorious.  It’s been wonderful, peaceful, and so fulfilling.

So maybe my resistance to wanting to do anything productive today is a desperate attempt to hang on to those days when I have nothing to do.  Or maybe I’m just finally starting to accept that I am an adult and I can do what I want.  Because there has to a balance in life.  And I am sure there will be many more days to do what I should.  So today I am going to let go of the guilt, do what I want (which involves a whole lot of nothing), and try my hardest to accept that it’s all good enough.  And I might order pizza for dinner.

30-Day Plan: Day 30

Wow, I can’t believe I’ve made it to the “end” of my 30-day commitment to myself!  It hasn’t been as “perfect” as I had originally thought it would be but it has absolutely given me the kick-start I needed to get back into a healthier, more nutritious lifestyle!  In reflecting on the past month, I wanted to share what I thought went well and what I think I still need to work on.

What went well….

  • I kept track of all my food and points in my food diary every single day (not just on the blog, but I actually have a notebook where I write down everything).
  • I researched lower-points options and looked up points before eating some things to make a conscious and informed decision about whether or not I truly wanted to have it
  • I was active at least 3-4 days a week
  • I drank way more water than I had been
  • I stopped eating sugary cereal (and don’t really miss it) and started my day off with a protein-loaded breakfast
  • I cut back on sugar
  • I really cut back on carbs
  • I are way more vegetables
  • I planned ahead for events that I knew would have many food temtpations
  • I packed my own food when I went on vacations so I’d have some healthy options
  • I meal planned and prepped food so I’d have something healthy on hand
  • I tried new foods and new ways of preparing certain foods
  • I attended my Weight Watchers meetings
  • I didn’t let the number on the scale discourage me when it went up
  • I allowed myself to have some treats without feeling too guilty
  • I felt encouraged, determined, motivated, positive, confident, and happy 99% of the time!

What I will continue to work on….

  • Seek more healthy recipes so I can eat a variety of healthy food
  • Continue to cut back on sugar
  • Plan ahead for treats – look up the points before having them instead of waiting until after
  • Try new foods and recipes
  • Obtain a healthy balance between treating myself and eating healthy
  • Establish more challenging workout routines (maybe start running again?)
  • Build healthy habits so that they come more naturally and don’t require so much conscious work and effort
  • Track every single day in my food journal

With that being said, here’s how Day 30 looks:

Breakfast:  I finally found a granola that is not too high in points!  A friend of mine suggested this Nature’s Path peanut butter granola and 1/2 cup (which is more than enough per serving!) is only 5 points (not bad at all!) I mixed in 1/3 cup Source vanilla yogurt for a delicious and satisfying breakfast (and a nice change from bacon & eggs!)

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Since we are leaving town tomorrow, I had a long to-do list today to get ready to go.  I started by tidying up the house, doing dishes, and sweeping the floors. After just those minor tasks though I was feeling really sluggish and tired (maybe not enough energy from my breakfast or maybe it’s the crazy humidity?) I drank some more water and took a quick social media/ TV break.

Lunch:  For lunch I ate my usual grilled turkey burger, sautéed vegetables (in a bit of EVOO) and a sprinkle of feta cheese.  The veggies were nice and fresh (I just bought them yesterday at the market) and were so good!  I topped lunch off with some more water and big slice of juicy watermelon.

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After lunch, I had to tackle a job that I had been dreading, and that my husband and I have both put off for months – cleaning out our SUV!  While away last weekend, I noticed that the filth and dirt inside had reached an all-new high and I just couldn’t take it anymore, so even though it was 37 degrees with the humidity today (eek!) I lugged my cleaning supplies out to the garage and got busy!  An hour later, I was sweating like crazy but at least we have a nice clean ride ready to go when we set out again tomorrow!  Plus, I am sure I earned at least a few activity points completing this task!

After that job, I came inside and took another social media/water break (drinking water has made all the difference – I rarely drink anything else now, except coffee and a diet pop once in awhile as a treat!)  Then I got to work cooking and prepping some food my husband and I plan to take on the road with us.  I grilled turkey burgers (we’ll also take lean hamburgers), cooked a pack of turkey bacon, and cooked a container of bow-tie pasta to make a pasta salad with.  Then I chopped red/yellow/green peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and red onions and packed them all in individual containers that will fit easily into our big cooler.  I also plan on taking: eggs, yogurt, granola, lettuce, salad dressing, feta cheese, coffee, cream, mini rice cakes, and a pre-bought meat & cheese tray (as a little treat).  We’ll probably eat a couple meals in restaurants as well and may have to re-stock on groceries next week, but this will definitely help us to save some cash while on the road and will help me continue with my weight loss goals!

After all that food prep, I decided to take another little break (I love the slow-moving days of summer!) so made myself a coffee (with cream) and sat down to check social media and watch some more TV.  Oh, I should also mention that I started another book  – Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and it’s really interesting so far!  I am really going to miss all the free time for reading when school goes back in!

Dinner:  For dinner, my husband and I ate leftovers out of the fridge.  He had hotdogs while I had some boneless, skinless chicken breast and made one of my taco salads with light Italian dressing.   My salad and chicken came to a total of about 8 points.

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Workout:  We had another softball game tonight (we lost by just a few runs).  It was still pretty hot out so it wasn’t hard to work up a sweat!  This earned me about 6 activity points.

Snack:  When we got home from softball my husband I were both really hungry!  I wanted something filling and satisfying so decided to have another 1/2 cup of peanut butter granola and 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt – it totally hit the spot and filled me up!  Plus, I guzzled a bunch more water.

Well guys, that’s it!  It’s the end of my 30 days!  I still can’t believe I actually stuck to this (and blogged about every single day!)  I weighed myself this morning and I was down another couple pounds so I’m estimating that I lost about 10 lbs over the last 30 days!  I am really happy with that result seeing as in the past it would have taken me months to lose that much!  I have already noticed that my clothes are fitting better and I’ve already had to buy a few items in a size smaller!  My energy levels haven’t changed much but I think that has more to do with the lazy days of summer than anything (hopefully when I get back to work, I will feel the effects of better nutrition when it comes to having more energy!)  The biggest transformation though has definitely been on the inside.  I am so proud of myself for doing this and for seeing it through to the “end”.  I feel more confident and motivated knowing that if I can do it for 30 days, I can keep on doing it until this becomes habit.   I know it will never be “perfect” but that’s not what I am striving for.  I am striving for doing better.  I want to be mindful about how I am treating my body, how I am nourishing it, and how I am challenging it.  I know that that will take work and effort on my part.  But I think the biggest, most important thing to remember at the end of all this is that everything happens one day at a time. As I have mentioned in previous posts, in the past I always fell victim to the “all or nothing” mentality.  I’d always let one bad meal become a bad day, which would become a bad week, bad month, etc.  I thought if I couldn’t eat “perfectly” I might as well throw it all away and just not do anything about it.  Clearly, that was not working for me.

So now, after the last 30 days, I can honestly say I am excited and very motivated to keep going!  I’ve seen nothing but positive results this past month and if I am being perfectly honest, it really hasn’t been that hard (after all, I did indulge several times in the last 30 days!)  More importantly, I know if I keep working at it, one day at a time, I will establish healthy routines that will be good for me mind, body, and soul.  That’s the ultimate goal.

30 days complete!  I DID IT!

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30-Day Plan: Day 29

First of all, I can’t believe it is the second last day of my 30-day plan!  Tomorrow marks the “end” of this journey but it is by no means truly the end.  In fact, I feel like I am just getting started on my path back to a healthier lifestyle – this thirty days was just the kick-start I needed to introduce some healthy habits back into my daily life.  I’ve already started considering news goals.  I really like the idea of a small commitment (like 30 days) because it makes things feel much more attainable.  If there is no “end” it feels overwhelming and like I will never make it.  That being said, as I already mentioned this so-called end isn’t really an end. I know that the habits I am trying to develop now need to stick around for life if I want to remain healthy and maintain a healthy weight.  But I also know that what’s key for me in being successful is taking it one day and one step at a time.  Here’s how Day 29 has gone:

Breakfast:  I only had one slice of turkey bacon left this morning so I decided to make two eggs and have a bit of vanilla yogurt on the side with it.  I ended up not really eating the second egg though, so my breakfast was a total of only 4 points.

I only ate about half of these eggs

I only ate about half of these eggs

After breakfast, I met a friend of mine at a local coffee shop where I ordered a coffee with a caramel shot and then added 2 tbsp of cream.  I have no idea how many points this would be but I am approximating it to be about 5 points which is what my cream at home comes out to.  I had planned on visiting with my friend for about an hour and then hitting Power Yoga at the gym, but I really should have known better because whenever me and this friend get together we just can’t stop talking!  Sure enough 2.5 hours later, we realized what time it was and said our goodbyes – fortunately no parking ticket for me even though the meter had run out an hour previous!

After our coffee date, I headed to the public library to return some books and check out some new ones.  Here’s a snap of the books I plan on reading over the next few weeks before school goes back in!

Hope I can finish all these before school goes back!

Hope I can finish all these before school goes back!

Lunch: After the library, I was starving so I zipped home to grab something to eat.  When I got there, I realized that my plan to just live off whatever was in the fridge for the next couple days, was not really a wise one – there really wasn’t much in there!  I was too hungry to go and do groceries at this point though so grabbed for the only thing available – a leftover hotdog (I checked later and couldn’t believe that one hotdog is 8 points!)  It’s also super hot and humid again today (we’re actually under a heat warning) so I had a 1/2 cup of chocolate frozen yogurt.  Not a healthy lunch at all!  This totally happened though because I did not plan carefully and should have gotten groceries  yesterday so I would have had something healthy prepared for today.  Plus, I waited much too long to eat and was ravenous so just grabbed whatever was the fastest and most easily available!  Ahh, it happens.

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After lunch, I headed to Walmart to stock up on some healthy eats.  My husband and I are already planning to pack groceries when we go on our trip and to do as much of our own cooking as possible (as I mentioned in a previous post this is easier on the pocket and the waistline so it’s a win-win!) I grabbed some more turkey bacon, turkey burgers, fresh salmon, eggs, rice cakes, coffee, some deli meat, buns, and diet pop.  After, I swung by the market and got fresh produce – mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes, and watermelon.  Now we are stocked up and will be able to eat healthfully!

Dinner:  After picking up my son at the beach, we headed home.  Once again, I didn’t have anything planned for dinner (oops!)  For some reason, this hot weather makes me crave a nice, deli sandwich so we threw those together for dinner.  On mine I had a bit of deli meat (pepperoni and ham), cheddar cheese, 1 tbsp light mayo and some mustard.  Even though this doesn’t seem like much it adds up to about 10 points (ugh!)  Of course, this didn’t fill me up so I just had another 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt (I swear I could just live off frozen yogurt in this weather!!!  But at least it’s not ice cream!)  Dinner came to about a total of 14 points.

Stupid high in points but it hit the spot!

Stupid high in points but it hit the spot!

It's so hot that I want all the frozen yogurt!!

It’s so hot that I want all the frozen yogurt!!

It’s now early evening and I am over my points for today and haven’t done any physical activity.  I missed my class at the gym and it’s so hot outside.  I could do a workout in my basement but honestly after a busy afternoon of running around, I am feeling like I just want to take it easy this evening.  Plus I have that stack of new books to get through!  Haha.  If it cools off early enough though, I may try to take my dog for a walk.  Otherwise, I will have to use some of my “bonus” points for the ones I went over today. I am okay with that though.  Although I am not sure if I will be able to resist more frozen yogurt seeing as I feel like I could eat the whole tub right now!

Well, tomorrow marks the last day of my 30-day plan!  I am unsure yet whether I will immediately start another 30-day plan or wait until I am back from my holiday – we are leaving town for 10 days and although we will pack healthy food there will still be a lot of temptations!  We are hitting a friend’s cottage for the weekend, Toronto for three days (where we will catch three Blue Jays games!!!) and then a long weekend of camping with my family!  I definitely plan on enjoying my vacation and indulging but also don’t want to go crazy either and erase all the hard work I have done over the last month!  It’s all about achieving a healthy balance – something I am still working on.

29 days down, 1 to go!

 

 

 

30-Day Plan: Day 28

Sorry for the delayed post but I was quite busy last evening so didn’t get a chance to get on here and write.  I am happy to report that I got right back on track yesterday.  Here’s how the day went:

Breakfast: 3 slices turkey bacon, 1 fried egg, coffee with French-Vanilla cream, and water.

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After breakfast, I was feeling really tired from the weekend’s adventures so I took things easy and watched TV while scrolling through social media.

Lunch: I returned to my tried-and-true low-points lunch and had a turkey burger, sautéed vegetables, and a sprinkle of feta cheese.  It was delicious but I was craving something cold (it has been so hot here lately!) so I also had a 1/2 cup of Chapman’s Dutch Chocolate frozen yogurt.

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After lunch, I caught up on some laundry from our vacation, swept the floors, read a little and caught up with one of my friends online.

Workout:  Since it was Tuesday, I hit my regular gentle yoga class at my gym.  It turned out I was the only one who showed up so it ended up being a private class!  The instructor still pretty much carried through her regular series of stretches and poses but we did do some stretches on the wall that we don’t normall do that felt really good.  Either way, I always leave this class feeling relaxed and rejuvenated!  Also, this class earns me about 3 activity points.

Dinner: After yoga, I grabbed a roasted chicken at the deli and flew home to have a quick dinner before my Weight Watchers meeting.  I whipped together my taco salad (lettuce, green onions, red/yellow/green peppers, shredded cheese, tortilla salad topper, and low-cal Italian dressing) and ate a chunk of the chicken breast with it.

(I forgot my phone in the car so didn’t get a picture of dinner.)

After dinner, I attended my Weight Watchers meeting and weigh-in.  I wasn’t surprised to see that I was up 1lb.  In fact, after all the indulgences over the weekend, I had kind of expected it to be a lot worse!  Plus, I had a significant loss last week so being up 1lb was really no big deal.  Not only that, but I know the number on the scale isn’t everything – there are so many factors that play into one’s weight. So although I wish the scale had gone down, I am really not letting the minor gain upset me. I know this is a slow and steady progress full of ups and downs and I am confident in my efforts lately and that’s all that really matters!

Workout 2: After Weight Watchers, I had a softball game which usually lasts just over an hour.  By this time it was pretty cloudy but the humidity was still unreal.  Man, did I ever sweat while we were playing!  I earned about 6 activity points.

By the time I got home from softball, I wanted something cold again so I had another 1/2 cup of chocolate frozen yogurt.  After, I was really tempted to have another serving but instead distracted myself with social media and was able to forget about having any more.

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28 days down, 2 to go!