Learning Self Love

self love2

It came to me this morning as I was awake in bed after having slept in late for the first time this summer.  I was just laying there, not really thinking about anything except maybe about how I was going to convince myself to get up and start the day.   Then suddenly, my mind drifted and I was thinking about my weight (this often happens in the morning because nearly every day when I wake up I promise myself that this will be the day I get back on track permanently). Out of nowhere it seemed though, a thought popped into my mind and it seemed so clear and made so much sense, that I could hardly believe I hadn’t realized it before.  This is what came to me:

The reason I can’t get back on track to losing weight this time is because I don’t hate myself enough.

I know, I know.  It sounds all wrong and probably is, but frankly this is how I sometimes feel and I promise you if you keep reading, you’ll understand more where I am coming from.  Sometimes I believe that to really want to make a change, and to actually follow through with that change, you have to be displeased with yourself.  You have to be unhappy, grossed out, angry at yourself, maybe even disgusted.  You take all these negative feelings and you build yourself into a warrior promising yourself that you will win.  You will battle this negativity and make all the right changes until you can love yourself again.

But then I think, what happens when you aren’t really that unhappy/grossed out/angry at yourself/disgusted?   What do you have to fight against then?  Okay, I’m not saying I have totally and completely learned to accept my body at its current size.  In fact, I always question myself – is this way of thinking just another sneaky excuse to get out of doing what I know I really should do?  Am I just trying to convince myself that I’m okay like this, at this size, at this weight?  Or am I slowly and truly learning to accept myself the way I currently am?

self love

It’s a contradiction that constantly bounces back in my head like a tennis ball in a dizzying tennis game.  Some days, I just want to love myself.  I want to be okay with my body, my weight gain, with being heavy.  I tell myself I’m older now and it’s more acceptable to be heavier. I tell myself that this lifestyle is easier, more enjoyable, that I’ve got new and more important things to focus on.  But just as I tell myself these things, I start to consider how ridiculous they sound.  After all, what could be more important than focussing on my own health? And then just as soon as I’ve thought those words, the tennis balls leaps to the other side.  You’re not happy.  You were happier when you were thinner and fitter.  You look in the mirror, see how much weight you’ve gained and you’re angry with yourself. 

And these contradictions don’t only exist in my head.  All around us, we are bombarded with messages about body image – love your body but follow this diet (cleansing/juicing/carb-free, gluten-free, high-protein, counting points, the list goes on)  – learn to accept what you’ve got, but here’s how to get washboard abs in two weeks – you’re beautiful the way you are, but eating clean will give you the body you dream of.  The cycle of conflicting messages is never-ending and it’s ingrained in me so much that I never know which side to believe – should I love my body, or hate it?

So now, I am thinking again about that message that came to me this morning.  About how I can’t find the motivation to stay on track if I don’t hate myself enough.  Maybe I think this because that’s how it always been in the past.  Years of negative body image finally led to a 60-lb weight loss for me about five years ago.  But then, after only a few years of maintaining my weight loss, I have gained all the weight back.  Although I thought I had finally “solved the puzzle” something obviously went wrong and needs to be different this time.

And I think I know what it is.  I have to drastically change my frame of my mind.  Motivation based out of self-disgust, anger, and hatred is only temporary.  It may fuel the fire long enough to get the results you’re looking for (or alternatively could send you into a long, downward spiral of depression and self-loathing) but then suddenly your fight is over. There’s nothing more to fight against because suddenly you love yourself.  And when the fight is over what do you do?  You stop fighting. You get comfortable and you forget how to fight for yourself – slowly the changes and habits you used to fuel your fight are gone and before you know it, you’re right back where you started.

So now I think I know what I need to do.  I need to learn how to accept and love my current body while at the same time taking steps to improve it.  My workouts and diet can’t be based on self-loathing, they need to be formed around self-love.  I read a quote once that said something like “I don’t work out because I hate my body, I work out because I love it”.  This is the new mentality that I need to adopt.  I need to know that loving my body is not going to send me into some eating-frenzy comfort zone that I’ll never find my way out of.  I need to know that it’s okay to accept my body all while being aware that, like anything, there’s always room for improvement. I need to work hard and stay relaxed.  I need to be gentle with myself and at the same time dedicated and determined.  I need to understand that, like life itself, there will be ups and downs, good feelings and bad feelings, and wonderful days and terrible days.  But above it all, I need to know that it’s okay – it’s okay to love myself along the journey – and that only with self-love will the true change that I want really come along … and stay.

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My Get Fit Journey: Week One Check-in

A good reminder.

A good reminder.

I am proud to say that my first week of being back on track was a success!  I am down 3 lbs. but more importantly, I am feeling very motivated and fully committed to getting back into the getting healthy game!

One of the biggest changes I made to my eating plan this week was to eliminate French Vanilla cappuccinos from Tim Hortons which I realized has a whopping 40g of sugar (per small serving) and is 7 Weight Watchers points!  I had been drinking half coffee-half cappuccinos, but have now realized that even that change is not good enough.  So my first challenge this week was to find an alternative that I could enjoy just as much (since I love having a daily coffee or two but only really like it if it’s sweet!)  A friend suggested flavoured coffee creamers, and while they still have a significant amount of sugar, it’s much lower than the cappuccino, and I figured a was a good way to start (and only 2 Weight Watchers points!)  Eventually, I will cut this out too, but for now it’s working 🙂

The other thing I cut out was my nearly daily habit of eating an entire bag of Rice Works chips (or other cracker, chip, snack-food alternative).  I thought it would be hard, but I already don’t miss them.  This is one thing I learned (but had obviously forgotten) the last time I lost a lot of weight – when you cut out some unhealthy foods you worry that you are going to feel restricted and won’t be able to deal without having them, but within a very short time you barely even think about that food at all! quote 1

Another habit I am have been very aware of this week is night-time snacking.  Throughout my entire life, I have had the habit of mindlessly munching on snacks while watching TV or surfing the net in the evenings (usually Rice Works chips as noted above, or sugary cereals).  Most evenings this week, I made the conscious (and sometimes pretty difficult) choice not to snack unless I was actually having signs of true hunger (growling tummy).  On those nights, I had a few rice crackers with light Laughing Cow cheese (making sure to count my WW points) and a whole lot of water.  One night when the urge was really bad, I simply went to bed so I wouldn’t have to think about eating!  This one is still a bit of a challenge (I am sitting here now thinking about what I could snack on!) but it’s a work in progress!

quote 4Also this week, I returned to tracking all my food in a journal.  This was a tool that worked extremely well for me in the past, and in fact, I have never had weight loss success without using a food journal. It’s unbelievable how the simple task of writing things down, makes you really think about what you are putting in your mouth, and keeps you accountable for everything you have eaten.  The key is to be honest and to write down everything, good or bad!

When tracking in my food journal, for me this also means keeping track of my Weight Watchers points and not going over my daily target.  Again, I have had huge success with this program in the past, and highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to lose weight for the first time (or if you have never followed the program).  I learned so much while on Weight Watchers and while attending meetings.  This time around, I have decided to try following the program on my own at home.  WW (Weight Watchers) tells me that according to my height and weight, I should be consuming about 28 points a day.  I couldn’t believe it when my husband helped me calculate how many points I was eating on a given day and we came out to about eighty!  I was mortified.  Since I knew that jumping from 80 all the way down to 28 points just wasn’t realistic for me now, I decided to cut back slowly.  This week I aimed at consuming between 40-50 points a day and was successful!  This coming week, I am going to make even more changes so I can stay below 40 points per day 🙂quote 2

Another way I can stay within my points is by being active (you can earn activity points and deduct them from your food points).  Two years ago, I was super active (running 10-k marathons, playing soccer and baseball, doing crazy aerobics and weight-lifting classes, and participating in outdoor boot camps).  I had a strong, healthy, fit body I was proud of and my metabolism was insane.  But I know I can’t jump back into all that immediately.  I didn’t do that the first time, and I can’t do it now.  Instead, I decided to start out slowly by going for walks around my neighbourhood (which I hope to eventually build back up to running!)  A little while back, my daughter won a Fitbit and since she wasn’t using it, I asked her if I could.  A few of my friends at work have one too and we’ve been challenging each other as to who can take the most steps – it’s really been motivating me to go for longer and longer walks!  Although I lost our latest challenge (the Weekend Warrior) I am going to own the Workweek Hustle!

Finally, my husband moved our TV from the bedroom and set it up in the basement in front of our treadmill (that we rarely use). Since I am still saving for a new gym membership, I figure I can use the space down there for now on days when the weather doesn’t lend itself to walking.  Since the basement is pretty big and not cluttered with furniture, I can also use the space to do some of my Jillian Michaels workout videos which are killer and which I got huge results from in the past.

Inspiration for a fit, healthy body.

Inspiration for a fit, healthy body.

So these are some of the changes I have made in just one week.  If you’re facing the same weight-loss challenges as me, I urge you just to make a couple small changes.  It’s amazing how after only one week, your motivation level can increase significantly!  With that being said, I know it’s still a long journey ahead, and change will come slow, but now instead of seeing it as a daunting, impossible task, I feel excited about what’s to come!

Good luck on your own journey, and please share any tips/tricks that work for you!

It’s time… (A Very Personal Struggle)

Feeling great after the 10k.

Feeling great after the 10k.

Sometimes you need that one friend in your life who will tell you exactly what you need to hear, no matter how hard it may be to hear it.

Thank God, I have my husband.

We had a conversation today that I may not have wanted to have, but needed to  desperately.

We had a conversation about my weight.

It’s no secret that I have struggled with my weight for most of my life.  About four years ago though, I thought I finally had it figured out.  Over a course of a few years (and a lot of hard work!), I had dropped 65 lbs. and felt better than ever.  During that time, I learned so many things about nutrition, healthy eating, portion sizes, exercise, and fitness.  I tracked what I ate meticulously, attended Weight Watchers meetings regularly, and was constantly challenging my body physically.  I was over-the-moon with my new, slim, fit body and all the praise and comments I got from others. One of my proudest moments, was in 2011 when I completed my first 10k race as part of Ottawa’s Race Weekend.  I may not have been the fastest runner that day, but the fact that I had come that far in my fitness routine and achieved such an accomplishment was thrilling to me!

Bradley and I after running the 10k in Ottawa.

Bradley and I after running the 10k in Ottawa.

From 2010 until 2013, I maintained my weight loss.  I continued working out and introducing new challenges to my fitness routine.  I watched what I ate and my new, higher metabolism allowed me to have treats without wreaking havoc on my process.  I reached all kinds of milestones and felt a new sense of confidence and self-love that I had never experienced before.

Then I got married.

I don’t blame my marriage at all for my weight loss, it’s just the turning point for when I started gaining back all the weight I had lost. Shortly after we got married, I began a new job an hour away which drastically changed my daily schedule.  Ever since, I have done nothing but let my newly-formed, healthy habits go. Devastatingly, this has resulted in all 65 lbs. being packed on over the last two years.

Now, instead of the highly motivated, inspiring, and life-loving girl I was, I have once again become a person who is filled with disappointment, anger, and overwhelming sadness for what I have let happen. Why did I do this?  How come I have let this happen?  I swore to myself I’d never gain the weight back! I say to myself again and again.  The negative self-talk is overwhelming.

And like so many others, I let those terrible, negative thoughts take over me.  Instead of fighting back with positivity and motivation, I gave in.  I gave up all the habits I had worked so hard on, and resorted back to all the bad ones that got me into trouble in the first place. Instead of loving myself and working hard to improve myself, I sit on the couch, do nothing, and think about the next tasty snack I will eat.

Why do I do this?  I have no idea.  It’s like there is a constant inner battle in my own mind that utterly exhausts meMy own little angel and devil, each sitting on a shoulder.  One side tells me all the reasons I need to get healthy again, the other side tries to make excuses, tries to make me believe that I can be happy like this.

Except I know I can’t.

And my husband confirmed that this afternoon.  As tears of frustration streamed down my cheeks, he sweetly sat me on his lap and pointed to pictures hanging on our wall where I am fit, healthy, and happy. “You don’t smile like that anymore,” he told me. I cried.  I cried because he’s right, he’s so right, and that’s just the saddest thing to me.  All this time, I have been trying to convince myself that I can be heavy and happy and while I truly believe this is possible for some people, I know it just isn’t for me.

Strong body, strong mind.

Strong body, strong mind.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not all about being skinny. It’s not about getting hung up over some number on a scale, or going on a drastic, restrictive diet. It’s about feeling good about myself.  It’s about being strong, physically and mentally. It’s about establishing habits that will improve my overall health, habits that will help me live longer, and be happier.

So it’s time.  It’s time to let go of all the anger, the whys, the how-did-I-let-this-happen?  It’s time to stop dwelling on what was, and time to start making changes to what is.  The fortunate part for me is that I have all the tools.  I know how to lose weight, get fit, and be healthy because I’ve done it all before.

I really believe today was a turning point.  My dear, loving, sweet husband made me realize that it’s time to let go of all the excuses, turn off the negative self-talk, and do something.  He cautiously and carefully pointed out to me what I already know – if I don’t do something, I am going to end up obese, miserable, and sick.  It’s my reality and it’s time to accept it.  I know him doing this was coming from a place of honesty and love, and frankly, I love him for telling me what I needed to hear.

I am not going to lie – thinking about starting all over again is daunting.  I am scared of failure.  I am scared I won’t know where to start, or that I will always be exhausted and won’t have the energy to go on.  But it’s time.  It’s time to start taking care of me again.  It’s time to stop all the negativity and to work for what I deserve ~ a fit, happy, healthy body and mind.   I’ve got this!  🙂

 

 

 

Our Family’s “Get Fit” Plan!

DSCF7470In celebration of the first day of spring, I approached my family today about a topic that’s been on the top of all of our minds for quite some time now.  Like many people, my husband, stepson Brandon, and I have tossed around the ideas of eating better and being more active but have not quite found the mojo or the drive to get going. Even my stepdaughter Mariah has been requesting a gym membership and showing an interest in physical activity.   Now that Spring is here, I thought what better day to start, then now?  After all, spring brings back the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. And I speak from past experience when I say, I know I can’t do it on my own.  I rely on those around me to motivate me, influence me, and inspire me.  Most importantly, I want to be a good role model for my children, especially for Brandon who has developed so many habits similar to my own.  I don’t want to just preach anymore, but actually show him how it’s done.  So hopefully, this will be a turning point for our family, one in which we can all get healthier (and ultimately, happier) together.  Here are some of the steps we plan to take together:

  • Keeping a food journal – in the past I have kept a food journal and I really believe it was the key to my past weight loss.  Food journals help us to keep track of not only what we eat, but how much, and for many people just cutting back on portion sizes can make a significant difference.  Brandon & I have both agreed to start keeping a daily food journal.
  • Healthier eating – this one has gotten easier since my family has cut back immensely on eating out (and it’s been a lot easier on the wallet, too!) Another thing we have started doing is meal planning each week- it helps avoid the last minute, weeknight rush (and tendency to grab unhealthy take-out) and ensures we are eating well-rounded meals and a variety of healthy foods (as opposed to pasta every night!)
  • Cut back on sweets – my entire family loves junk food and sweets, but Brandon and I particularly.  Whether it’s cereal, chocolate, snacks, or candy there is definitely room for improvement.  Another thing I will try to get better at is the amount of diet pop I drink.  There are endless studies that show the negative effects of drinking diet soda, but some habits are just so hard to break!  More water, less diet soda for this girl!DSCF6882
  • Exercise – I used to exercise all the time but over the last year have become a complete couch potato.  I have a way to go before I can get back to where I was but I plan on starting out with going for daily walks (and Brad has agreed to come with me, which means a lot considering I know how much he dislikes it).  Brandon plays outside a lot, plays hockey, and has decided to taken on going for a daily walk/run.  Brad plans on using the treadmill in the basement and setting up a home gym.  Finally, I plan to renew my gym membership and start doing more yoga.  No matter what it is, our plan is to find some kind of way to get active on a daily basis!