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!

 

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30-Day Plan: Day Two

First of all, let me say that I am so proud of myself for the success I had yesterday.  I actually came in 3 points under my allotted target for the day and worked out.  Before yesterday, I definitely thought staying within 30 Weight Watchers points was impossible, but now I’ve proved to myself that with some creativity and determination, I can do it!

That being said, I woke up today craving a giant bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios (my typical breakfast).  I knew right away that today would be slightly more challenging than yesterday.  And although it has been, I am happy to say that so far so good.   Here’s how today has shaped up.

Breakfast:  Although I was craving sugary cereal, I knew if I started my day off “wrong”, that it would set my whole day off on the wrong foot.  I’m a big creature of habit and when it comes to cooking, I like to keep things as simple as possible, so I repeated yesterday’s breakfast – 1 fried egg, 4 slices of turkey bacon, and a huge bottle of water.  (Normally, I’d drink milk with breakfast but I am trying to drink more water so I’ve been starting as soon as I get up!)

I've been trying to drink three of these bottles a day for a total of 96 oz. of water per day.

I’ve been trying to drink three of these bottles a day for a total of 96 oz. of water per day.

Workout 1:  One of the luxuries of having the summer off is that I can fit in my workout whenever it works for me.  This morning, not long after breakfast I was lounging on the couch and all I could think about was eating.  That, and taking a nap.  But I had planned to check out a noon-hour Zumba class at my gym today and although I still felt really tired, I decided that a workout might actually wake me up and it would distract me from wanting to eat.  So I got up off the couch (not always easy to do), and got my butt to the gym!  And I was pleasantly surprised by this class!  The music was fantastic, the instructor was good, and it definitely elevated my heart rate!  I am not going to lie though.  When I left nearly an hour later, my legs were aching, I was hungry, and I felt really tired. (I thought cardio sessions were supposed to increase energy?)  Oh well, at least I didn’t stay home where I just would have ate and laid on the couch!

Lunch:  By the time I got home from the gym, I was pretty hungry. I used the last leftover turkey burger from yesterday and repeated the same meal again.  I sautéed some peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and red onions in olive oil and put it on top of the burger along with a bit of feta cheese and salt and pepper.  Yum!  Since I was so hungry from my workout, I devoured a huge piece of watermelon while I waited for my veggies to cook, and then because it was so delicious, I ate another huge piece after my burger.  And of course, I drank more water.

My new favourite and so low in WW points!

My new favourite and so low in WW points!

This afternoon, I was still feeling really sleepy.  I realize that after only one day of eating healthy, my energy levels likely won’t be affected, but I also think this is due to the fact that I have been over-sleeping. Last night I went to bed around 11 p.m hoping that it would force my body to wake up early (I hate to have to set an alarm in the summer!) but I still dozed until about 10:30 this morning!  I guess I am going to have to resort to setting an alarm after all, to keep my body on track with its 8-hour-a-night sleep that I typically get.   Anyway, I lounged and dozed a little on the couch this afternoon, but it really only made me feel lazy so I got up and decided to take care of a few of the tasks on my to-do list.  I made a quick coffee and carefully measured out my favourite cream so as not to use too much.  (Side note:  When I am starting to feel hungry, I’ve noticed that if I keep myself busy and distract myself for a little while, I don’t really notice it as much).

Dinner:  Tonight I grilled some pork chops and used just a tiny bit of BBQ sauce for flavour.  I sautéed some more of my favourite veggies (sprinkled with a bit of feta) and this time added a side of sweet potatoes for some healthy carbs (I buy the frozen ones that are sliced into small chips – sautée them in a bit of olive oil and salt and they are delicious!)  I was very surprised at how full I felt after dinner!

This meal was surprisingly filling.

This meal was surprisingly filling.

Workout 2: After dinner tonight, I had a baseball game.  We play in a mixed, softball fun league.  Although there are some pretty good players, it’s pretty casual and mostly everyone is just out to have some fun.  That being said, running those bases can sure give you a quick cardio blast!  And let’s be honest, any form of activity is better than sitting at home on the couch!

Snack:  By 8:30 pm, I still had 8 Weight Watchers points left ( I still can’t believe I have been able to stay under my points!)  Although it wasn’t a healthy snack, I decided to go a bit easy on myself and enjoyed a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios (carefully measured so as not to go over proper portion size) and some low-fat milk.   This came to a total of 8 points, which put me exactly at my allotted 30 WW points for the day!

So, all in all, although the morning started off tough, I am very proud that Day 2 was just as successful as the first.  It’s definitely taking a lot of conscious effort on my part.  I have to carefully think about each food and drink before I decide what I am going to have. If I don’t take the time to think about my choices, I end up eating mindlessly and definitely not healthfully.  I’m hoping that eventually I’ll have to think about these things less as they become my new habits.  For now, I am still feeling determined to stay on my new program.  One day at a time 🙂

 

 

 

My 30-Day Plan: Day One

Day One

After last night’s Weight Watchers meeting, I am feeling really motivated to try cleaning up my diet again.  As much as I hate to admit it, there’s no denying that the only way to lose weight and feel better, is to eat more healthfully.

I truly believe that I am a sugar addict.  (I recently read a post online that said sugar is not addictive, I don’t believe that for one second).  I know I am not the only one that can say that once I’ve eaten sugar my body just craves more.  It’s constant, up and down spikes, that literally sometimes make my head spin (in a dizzy, headache-y kind of way) and make me feel lethargic and unmotivated.  Yet, I can’t quit.  The food and drinks I consume that are loaded with sugar are just so…. Delicious.

But that being said, I am so sick and tired of how these unhealthy foods make me feel – low energy, tired, sluggish, and overweight.   As I get older and have fallen back into old habits, I have noticed a significant decrease in my energy levels.  I used to be go-go-go all the time.  Others actually remarked on my high energy levels and asked how I managed to do it.  Deep within me, I know the answer to that question:  I was eating healthfully and was very active. 

Me - healthy and energetic

Me – healthy and energetic

Fitting in activity has never been too much of a problem for me.  Admittedly, I am nowhere near where I used to be activity-wise (high-intensity aerobics, running, weight lifting, playing soccer) but I do enjoy different types of physical activity (walking, playing baseball, yoga, hiking, workout DVDs).  The problem for me has always been eating properly – nourishing my body and giving it what it needs to function to its maximum potential instead of just satisfying my taste buds, emotions, and habits.

Recently, I’ve been feeling quite frustrated over the changes that need to be made in my diet.  I know that I have to just accept that changes need to be made and that if I can stick with it for a few weeks, those changes will become easier and eventually become habits.  But as always, it’s getting started that’s the hardest part.  I dread the thought of eating fruit (I know, it’s weird, but I am totally not a fan!),  of eating salads (I have yet to find one that’s healthy and that I truly enjoy), of eating less carbs (I loooove bread, crackers, cereal, etc.), and of giving up sugary treats (especially the French Vanilla flavoured cream I dump in crazy amounts into my coffee).

But as I said, last night’s meeting, was a bit of a wake up call.  It’s time to accept that the only way to look and feel the way I want to, is to clean up my diet and slowly train myself to eat better.  I am proud to say I woke up today with determination to eat better and to start to learn ways that I can do this.   Here’s how today has shaped up so far:

Breakfast: Rather than start my day with a bowl of sugary cereal as usual, I focussed on incorporating more protein and healthy fats.  I cooked up a fried egg and 4 slices of turkey bacon and started drinking my first huge bottle of water for the day.

Workout 1: I’m totally loving yoga lately (although I’m still definitely a beginner) so I tried a new class at the gym today – power yoga.  My intention for today’s class was to accept my body where it is today.  I’m not going to lie, every day my Instagram is flooded with professional yogis and their incredibly beautiful yoga poses that I can only some day dream of achieving.  But I know my body is just beginning it’s journey so rather than being too hard to on myself I focussed on challenging my body but also accepting it’s limitations.  It turned out to be a great workout!

Lunch: After yoga, I went grocery shopping and stocked up on fruits, vegetables, and other healthy items.   It was one of those rare occurrences where my cart is full of healthy-only items and I’m secretly hoping other people look at its contents with admiration (Am I the only one?)  Some of the things I bought:  salmon, shrimp, Greek yogurt, eggs, unsweetened almond milk, natural peanut butter, and tons of fruit and vegetables.

When I got home, I grilled a turkey burger for lunch.  I sprinkled it with a tablespoon of feta cheese and then covered it in sautéed vegetables.  I was skeptical, but it was seriously delicious!  I continued to drink my water like crazy.

Turkey burger with feta cheese and sautéed veggies.

Turkey burger with feta cheese and sautéed veggies.

After lunch, I decided to try a recipe I saw on television this morning for a homemade “skinny” chocolate shake.  In my blender, I mixed 3/4 cup of chocolate frozen yogurt, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 banana, and 1 teaspoon of cocoa.  The texture was creamy and smooth and it tasted pretty good.  However, I am not really a fan of bananas and while I know it added to the creaminess and the sweetness of this drink, the smell and taste of the banana was slightly off-putting.  Still, it is certainly a healthy alternative and something I think I could get used to, to fill that chocolate fix!

I drank half of it before I remembered to take a photo!

I drank half of it before I remembered to take a photo!

Late afternoon:  an hour or so after lunch, I felt the headache start to set in.  I’ve yet to determine if this headache is caused by lack of caffeine or lack of sugar (although I’m leaning towards a bit of a caffeine addiction as I’d just had the healthy shake).  My biggest pitfall with coffee is that I use about 4 tablespoons of French Vanilla cream per 14 oz. of coffee (which essentially makes it one of the sweetest cofees ever!)  I know this is a huge area I need to improve on, so today I made about half the amount of coffee and half the amount of cream.  It was a little less sweet than normal but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked that I could taste the actual coffee a little more!

Workout 2:  Late this afternoon, I was feeling pretty tired (it’s a gloomy day today).  I really wanted to curl up with a blanket and take a nap.  But seeing as I had to pick up my daughter close to my regular walking route, I decided to see if taking a walk would actually boost my energy.  Tucker (my dog) and I finished a 2.5 km walk and I am happy to say that I don’t feel nearly as tired now (well, maybe a little bit).  Either way, I am really glad I got in that extra workout as I have promised myself that each day this week, I would go for a walk and incorporate some other kind of workout.

One of my favourite walking routes lately.

One of my favourite walking routes lately.

Dinner:  I know a huge part of eating right is planning ahead, but I totally flaked on planning a healthy dinner today.  So after my walk, I swung by the grocery store and picked up a rotisserie chicken.  I knew I wanted to incorporate veggies into dinner, so I whipped up one of the only salads I actually enjoy – Greek (with a twist – I had forgotten to get cucumbers and don’t really like tomatoes or olives, so I added yellow and red peppers, and red onions to mine with a little feta and low-calorie Greek dressing).  This, paired with the chicken, turned out to be more enjoyable than I had anticipated, although it’s only been just under an hour since I ate it and I am still feeling a little hungry.  Luckily, I still have room for a little snack later on (and I’m still chugging water).

All in all, I am thrilled with how well I did today!  In fact, since joining Weight Watchers about four months ago, this is the first day that I have actually stayed within my allotted 30 points for the day (normally I range anywhere between 40 and up!)  I know every day won’t be this easy but I hope that I can continue to incorporate small, healthy changes each day because small, steady changes always lead to bigger ones! What will be key for me will be to continue trying different things, searching for recipes, and finding healthy alternatives for some of my favourites.

All this being said, while I was walking this afternoon, I realized that it is exactly 30 days until my husband and I leave on our much-anticipated summer vacation (to a friend’s cottage for the weekend, 4 days in Toronto, and then a family camping weekend).  I would love to drop a few pounds  and feel more energetic by the time our vacation rolls around (and I love nice, round numbers like 30), so I have decided to commit to my own 30-day plan.

Here’s my plan…. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

What I Will Do:

– set small goals to focus on each day (as I said before, small changes lead to big ones)   Which could be any / all of the following….

-find ways to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into my daily diet

-find ways to cut back drastically on sugar

-focus on protein, carbs, and healthy fats at each meal/snack

-eat mostly whole foods – fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fat-free dairy, whole grains

-find healthy alternatives for “treats” to make the transition easier

-be mentally prepared to accept that changing my diet will be challenging but that I am up for the challenge!

-be prepared that it will take a significant amount of time to “train my brain” into truly enjoying and craving new, healthier foods

-lean on my loved ones for support

-check out the Weight Watchers online community for ideas and additional support

-continue to walk regularly and incorporate other workouts like yoga, Jillian Micahels DVDS, and baseball

-make time to prep and plan meals

-drink water, water, and more water!

-keep a food journal and track Weight Watchers points

-regularly attend Weight Watchers meetings for accountability, ideas, and support

-accept my body where it is today but also push it to be better

Phew.  Long blog post!  If you actually made it to the end of this, please take a minute and leave a comment to let me know that I have your support!  Positive affirmations are so helpful and greatly appreciated.  I really want to do this.  Day 1 down, 29 to go!