Trials and Triumphs

In a follow-up to the post I wrote yesterday about my new-found passion for health and wellness, I wanted to share with you something I have been experiencing for the last week or so.

Two weeks ago, I decided to fully jump back on the “eating right and exercising” bandwagon (yep, story of my life!) I am kind of following the 21 Day Fix program, although I am not using the coloured containers.  I am using the food lists as guides and trying to reduce the amount of wheat, dairy, sugar, unhealthy fats, and processed foods I am eating.  I am doing the 21 Day Fix workouts although the program suggests you work out every day, and I have admittedly skipped a day here or there.

The first week was fantastic.  My motivation was high, I was eager to learn, and I jumped in with both feet.  I did meal prep, journalled all my meals, and even tried to make the best choices when I was out of town for a 3-day work conference.  But here we are at the end of Week 2 and wow, it’s been tough.

Like so many others in today’s society, I have a major sugar addiction. If it’s sweet, I love it.  If it’s white and carb-y, I love it.  For months, I subsisted on a diet of pizza, bagels, pasta, and fries.  Yum.  But the entire time I was devouring those delicious foods, I knew that they were not only wreaking havoc on my physical body, but on my health overall.

It’s been brought to my attention lately just how badly unhealthy foods can affect us.  I have started learning and doing some research about holistic nutrition and when I heard that unhealthy foods can also cause mental health problems, mood swings, and skin problems (just a few examples), it was like a light bulb clicked.

For months, I struggled with depression, lack of motivation, extreme fatigue, and just overall feeling terrible.  My colitis has flared up leaving my stomach bloated and gassy and causing frequent trips to the bathroom.  I am so fed up.  Now I am finally starting to understand that my food choices directly affect everything related to my health – whether it be physical health, mental health, emotional health, or spiritual health.

So all the more reason, to get educated and to try to make some serious changes in my life.  As previously mentioned the first week was pretty easy.  I was highly motivated and eager to get started.  But this past week, has been a little bit like a drug addict coming off drugs.

First of all, the cravings I’ve had for carbs and sugar have been mad crazy, especially in the evening.  When the day’s work is done, and I finally sit down to relax, the thought of anything carb-y consumes me – PB & J sandwiches…. big ol’ bag of chips…. pudding cups…. ice cream…. let’s be honest, anything.

On top of that, I have been experiencing crazy mood swing, most of which have made me irritable, resentful, sad, and just downright, miserable.  My brain has been screaming at me, angry with me for not feeding it the junk I normally feed it.  I get mad and ask myself why this has to be so hard?  Maybe I should just give up?  I could go grab a bowl of sugary cereal right now.  Screw it!  I think.  I feel down in the dumps, frustrated, and sad.  A couple of times this weekend I have burst into tears for no apparent reason except that I feel like total and utter crap.  Thank goodness, my sweet and supportive husband has been by my side to talk me through it and to encourage me along.  Because of him, and because of the inkling of determination that still exists inside of me, I am thrilled to say I’ve mostly overcome these tough battles.

The good news is that I am learning.  I know recognize that these physical cravings and mood swings (oh and the raging headache I had last night) are my brain’s way of trying to trick me into feeding it the crap it so desperately wants.  And my logic tells me that if I just keep fighting and pushing past it, eventually I will overcome this hurdle and come out stronger on the other side.

So now I am focussed on one day at a time.  I am going to continue to educate myself about what fuels and energizes my body from the inside out, and what turns it into a sugar-addicted, miserable monster.  I know it won’t be easy, but at least my determination is still high.

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Staying True to You: The Key to Real Success

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I was thinking about weight loss today (haha, what else is new?) when a pretty significant realization came to me suddenly – the key to losing weight is obviously eating healthfully and exercising.  But there’s more to it than just that.  What’s really and truly key in successfully losing weight is that each person has to find the ways of doing it that best suit them as an individual.

This realization came to me as I was thinking about the bombardment of messages we receive regularly about the “best” way to lose weight.  Every day in the news, in the media, online, and from our family/friends/co-workers (and sometimes perfect strangers) there is contradicting information about the “right” way to get fit and lose weight.  You’ve likely heard it before:  cut carbs, avoid carbs, drink smoothies, try juicing, eat more protein, never skip breakfast, don’t eat after 7pm, cut sugar, detox, use supplements, don’t drink your calories, go gluten-free, become a vegan, join Weight Watchers, track your calories, keep a food journal, use an app, see a nutritionist, drink more water, eat clean, eat only organic… The list goes on and on.

But it’s not just nutrition – the same contradictory messages are given about fitness too.  Lift heavy, do more cardio, start jogging, work out at home, go for a walk, take the stairs, track your fitness, wear a heart rate monitor, get 10,000 steps……. The same kind of endless advice that’s given to us about what we should (or shouldn’t) eat is given to us about how we should (or shouldn’t) exercise in order to successfully lose weight and keep it off.

 

To someone who’s new to their weight loss journey, these messages can be overwhelming and confusing.  They can make you constantly second guess if what you’re doing is right, discourage or frustrate you, and can even prevent some people from getting started.

But what I’m beginning to realize is that out of the myriads of tips, suggestions, tricks, hints, and ideas about eating right and exercising, there is only one true key to success –  out of all the advice and information that’s out there, you have to figure out what works best for you.

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There’s no one recipe of success for everybody.  What works for some won’t necessarily work for others.   You have to find the things that you enjoy (that goes for food and exercise), the things that suit your lifestyle, and the things that work best with your schedule.  You have to find the things that interest you, motivate you, and energize you.

If you don’t do this, and simply try to follow one specific program handed to you by someone else, you may be setting yourself up for failure.  That’s not to say that there aren’t wonderful programs or advice out there (I am a tried-and-true believer in Weight Watchers, for example).  But no matter what plan you follow, I do believe you need to make it your own by following the things that work for you and forgetting about the things that don’t.

So how do you figure out what works best for you?  It’s all about experimentation.  Try new foods and recipes.  Give smoothies or juicing a shot.  Cut back on carbs and increase your protein.  Try cutting back on sugar.  Attempt a new type of exericse.  Join a sport or running club.  Even if it takes a lot of trial and error, you will eventually find what works for you.  And once you do, stick with it for as long as it suits you.  If you need to make changes, you’ll know when and what changes to make.  But no matter what, don’t let somebody else tell you what your body needs.  Take their advice, consider it, test it out, and then you decide.  Because nobody knows what you need more than you.  By staying true to you, you’re sure to find success.

 

 

 

 

Turning Self-Pity into Positive Thoughts: It’s Not Easy but It’s a Necessity

It’s a tough day over here.  I’m feeling pretty terrible about myself and pretty much just need to throw a pity party and rant a little.  Besides just venting though, I’m really hoping that someone out there might be able to connect with what I’m about to tell you.

I am trying to lose weight again. For those of you who don’t know my story, about six-seven years ago I had finally reached my goal of shedding 65 lbs.  It was a long, tough journey and I learned a lot about taking better care of myself.  It sure wasn’t easy but I did it.  At age 30, I was at my smallest adult weight ever – 128 lbs. and felt amazing!  I felt proud, confident, and happy.  I worked out like a beast, ran 10k races, tracked my food in piles of food journals, and happily shopped for XS clothing.  I felt like I had hit the jackpot and finally, after years of struggle, had made it.  But then life took a turn (as it does) and within three years, I ended up gaining all of the weight back.  My workouts slowly came to a stop and when that happened, bad eating habits began to creep back in.  Fast foward to now, and here I am, hovering just under 200-lb and fighting hard to forgive myself for gaining all the weight back which is not something easy to do.  I have asked myself again and again why I let it happen.  Why did I work so hard, achieve my biggest goal, and then blow it and end up back at square one?  It’s not something that’s easy to forgive yourself for but thankfully, I have a wonderful support system who reminds me that I have to stop looking back and keep looking forward.

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But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  And today is just one of those days.  It’s the kind of day where I feel overwhelmed, scared, beaten down, and frankly, even angry.  WHY DOES LOSING WEIGHT HAVE TO BE SO HARD?   Why does it take so much planning and prepping and determination to eat healthy?  Why are cookies, and chips, and pizza (all things I love) so easy to grab and shove down my hatch?  Why does working out take so much time, energy, and motivation?  And why does laying on the couch, watching trashy TV, and napping, feel so damn good?  But as my darling, patient, and biggest supporter-husband regularly reminds  me, if it were easy, everyone would be skinny.  UGH.  I know he is right but I hate to admit it. (I can be extremely stubborn at times… Okay, most of the time!)  Then he ever-s0-sweetly reminds me that I can do it.  I can lose the weight and get healthy again. He knows I can do it (and according to him, I know I can do it too, which of course, he’s right about… Again).  So why do I fight him so hard when I know he’s right?  When I know his pep talks come from such a loving and supportive place?  I fight him because sometimes I just want to wallow in my own self-pity.  Because sometimes I’m not strong enough to turn off that terrible voice in my mind that tell me I’m not good enough.  That I’m fat.  That I can’t do it.  Sometimes I need him to rescue me, and to make me believe again.

One of the things people used to always tell me when I was thinner was that they envied how motivated I was.  They asked how I had so much energy and told me that I inspired them.   Those compliments used to make me feel like I was walking on clouds.  I felt so proud of myself.  It was one of the best feelings in the world.  And the rational, intelligent girl inside of me knows that those feelings of motivation and self-worth and energy came from working out.  They came from feeding my body well and pushing it to its limits physically.  So then, knowing that there’s such huge rewards, why is it so hard to get motivated to get back there again?

My husband and I were discussing this today.  I was complaining about the vicious cycle people get caught up in of knowing if we started working out we’d have more energy, but not having enough energy to get started.  (It’s the trap I am currently in).  And he explained it the best way.  He told me that “getting the train rolling” (so to speak) is the hardest part, and he really couldn’t be more right.  “Once you get the train rolling,” he told me, “There’s no stopping you.  I know that and, you know that.”  And as much as I may hate it (because one of the hardest parts of losing weight is patience), there’s only one way to get that “train rolling” – baby steps.  Small changes, one at a time, forgiving myself when I slip up, and getting right back on the (train) track.  It sure as hell isn’t easy, but it’s the only way.

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So for all of you out there who are fighting this battle like me, please know that you are not alone.  Take it from me, that I know it isn’t easy. I know how hard it is, how time consuming it is, and how badly you can want something but hate everything you have to do to get there.  But if you are feeling this way, I hope and pray that you have a support system like I do.  I hope you have someone to lift up your spirits when you’re feeling so low about yourself.  I hope you have someone to tell you you’re beautiful, when you can’t stop talking negatively to yourself.  I hope you have someone who will be patient with you when you are being stubborn and giving up on yourself.  And I hope that eventually all those loving words will start to break through that dark, sad, angry wall you’ve built up and that you will begin to see that there’s one way to do this.  It’s to start believing in yourself as much as others believe in you.

We can do it.