Consistency is Key: Perfection is Impossible

I am feeling very upset with myself tonight.  Frustrated and angry would more accurately describe it.  I just got back from another failed run.  I picked running back up earlier this summer and while some days of my new training program have been awesome, some have been really, really hard.  Today happened to be one of the hard ones. I was supposed to do a combined total of 34 minutes of running and about 18 minutes of walking (including warm-up and cool-down) but I didn’t even make it through half of the run before my body just couldn’t do it.

And while I know that this is just the way training goes (some days are good, some days are not), I’m also feeling frustrated because I know this is mostly my fault.  It’s no surprise that my body could not perform optimally tonight (as badly as I wanted it to), when I haven’t been taking care of it nutritionally.

Several months ago, I was put on a fairly restrictive nutrition plan by my naturopath.  The initial reasons for doing so were to heal my ulcerative colitis, overcome the extreme fatigue I’d been having, and to lose weight in a healthy way.  After doing food sensitivity and blood testing, my naturopath eliminated the following from my diet: wheat/gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, peanuts, chickpeas, and cane sugar.  It was discovered that I have a high amount of yeast in my gut (causing too much bad bacteria which causes my inflammation and ulcers) so she also put me on a yeast therapy treatment and gave me strict instructions to drastically cut back on sugar (which feeds the growth of yeast).  I was also put on a hemoglobin supplement (my low hemoglobin would be one cause of my extreme fatigue and probiotics  which would help boost healthy bacteria in the gut.

For a good while, I stuck pretty faithfully to this plan (with only a few minor cheats here and there) and took my supplements and treatments regularly. I saw almost immediate results – my boating and gas went down drastically, energy levels went up slightly, even my skin got clearer.

 

But, over the last few weeks I have lost my way.  It started when we went on vacation and I told myself I could have more “treats”,  but since coming home over a week ago, I just can not seem to get back on my nutrition plan.  In fact, I shamefully admit I have gone completely off of it.  I’ve been eating everything that hurts my body (white bread, bagels, crackers, peanut butter, tons of sugar, ice cream, cheese, fast food….) The hard thing is, I don’t know why I do this because nearly every time I do, I become consumed with guilt.  I tell myself I shouldn’t have it but I do anyway, and then I feel badly.  I tell myself I will eat healthier at the next meal, and then I don’t.  I buy healthy foods when I go grocery shopping, but then they go back on my counter while I eat junk instead.  And since my UC symptoms haven’t been drastic lately, it’s been easier for me to say “f*&$ it” and consumer whatever junk I want.

So it shouldn’t have came as a surprise that when I set out for my run tonight, I was battling some indigestion and my stomach was bloated.  And when I started the running intervals, I felt like I was carrying a load of bricks around my middle.  I felt heavy and sluggish.  On top of that, since the weather was overcast, I had way underestimated the humidity and was sweating within minutes. Guys, I loathe being hot.  Yes, I know you’re supposed to sweat when working out, but humidity just kills me!

Needless to say, about halfway through my run, I gave up and walked the rest of the way.  I instantly felt hot tears of frustration welling in my eyes.  The negative self-talk started up as I blamed myself for eating poorly and for not being able to fulfill the run I had hoped to do.

Maybe I am just not cut out for running, I thought. I’ve been dreading all my runs lately anyway.  Maybe I am better off just being fat and out of shape. This is your fault, you should have known better…. Maybe I need to get a modified program, this one is too hard. All you did was eat carbs and sugar all day and you thought you could get away with it!  You know better!  What were you thinking?!  You should have known this would catch up to you eventually!

But fortunately, my only saving grace tonight was that I’ve been working really hard on overcoming negative thoughts with positive ones.  Sure, that harsh, judgemental, “you’re-not-good-enough-and-never-will-be” voice immediately piped up in my head, but then moments later so did the inner voice I like to think of as “my friend”.

Today is just not your day but not every day will be perfect. Forgive yourself. Yes you haven’t been making the best food choices but you can change that.  It’s okay. You win some and you lose some, next time will be better.  You are going to keep trying.  Consistency will get you where you want to be.  You can do it, don’t give up on yourself.  Make one or two small changes every day and you will get there. Don’t give up.

And thankfully this positive, encouraging inner voice took over (and just so you know, I have to make a real effort for the positive voice to over-power the negative one, it’s not easy) because now I have had some time to reflect and to see that perfection is impossible but consistency is key and it’s never too late to get back on track.

What I have learned is that I need to remind myself why I started this nutrition plan in the first place.  It wasn’t primarily to lose weight as I’ve been thinking of it lately (and somehow I had foolishly convinced myself that I can “cheat” with my food as long as I am working out and won’t gain weight… even though I know that’s not the truth!)  The real reason I started this plan was to optimize my health.  Even though, I am not currently experiencing the severe symptoms of ulcerative colitis, I am definitely starting to notice some of the warning signs since I have been eating poorly again.  I’ve had far more gas and bloating lately, and am even starting to get bouts of indigestion again (something that I used to get so badly that I was taken to the hospital in the ambulance a few times because I thought I was having a gall bladder attack!)  And while my energy levels have been better lately, I know that is primarily because it’s summer (which means I’m off work and it’s sunny alot!) If I were working and eating this way, I’d be feeling sluggish, tired, or even depressed.  I know that if I clean up my diet, I will start to feel better.  My bloating will go down (one step closer to a flat stomach!) and the digestive pain and discomfort I have will go away.  My skin will clear, my energy levels will continue to increase, and it will get easier and easier to maintain the positive attitude that is so important to a journey of good health.

So although I may be feeling frustrated and angry with myself, I am grateful tonight that I know not to beat myself up (for too long anyway, haha!) and to take this as a learning experience.  It’s time to put my health (in particular my gut health) at the forefront again and to know that some days just aren’t my day, but that there’s always tomorrow and that I WLL NOT GIVE UP on my goals!

xo

 

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Morning Workouts

I discovered something about myself this morning.  I realized that I am not a morning person.  At least not when it comes to working out.

It’s true, I don’t have much difficulty when my alarm goes off on a work day.  I do hit snooze a couple times, but once my feet hit the floor, I go through my normal routine pretty easily, and by the time I arrive at work an hour later, I’m not even thinking about my bed anymore.

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But when it comes to setting an alarm, to get up and work out, it just doesn’t seem to be working for me.  I’ve tried it a few Saturday’s now – set my alarm for 7:45 (allowing for a couple snoozes), to be at the gym for 9:00 AM.  I’m able to get myself out of bed and get myself there but despite the loud music, heavy weights, and overall energy of the other people in the class, I just can’t get my head into the game that early in the day.

So I’ve decided to skip the Saturday morning 9AM Body Pump class and readjust my schedule.  I’ll go back to hitting the Friday evening class instead so that Saturday morning I can lounge around my house taking it easy before I really start my day.  So that’ll mean Body Pump Monday, Wednesdady and Friday evenings, yoga Tuesday evenings, and then on the weekends, I’ll stick to running since it’s flexible enough that I can go whenever it suits me.

Again, it’s all about figuring out what works for you.  The idea of getting up early on the weekend to get a workout in before starting my day sounds extremely appealing to me.  It’s something I wish I could do.  But it’s just not working.  As my favourite author Gretchen Rubin would say, I have to accept that what works for others, doesn’t mean it will work for me.

And with that, I am going back to my Saturday (late) morning coffee and possibly later, a nap.

 

 

Learning To Run… Again

It’ll be six years next month that I first met a goal I never thought I’d accomplish.  It’ll be six years next month since I ran my first 10k marathon.

The race was in Ottawa and it was an experience I will never forget.  I had spent months teaching myself to run, had ran a couple of 5ks, had experienced the runner’s high, and had extended my goal to 10k.  I still remember the training day when I ran one straight hour without stopping to walk.  I was nearly in tears.  Me, a forever non-runner, had taught myself to run.  I could run for one hour without stopping.  The feeling was exhilarating.

So on a sunny and humid evening in May of 2010, I joined nearly ten thousand other runners for Ottawa Race Weekend’s 10k marathon.  The run was hard (and I stopped to walk a few times) but the exhilaration of crossing that finish line was something I’ll never forget.  I had done it.  I was a runner.  And even though my time wasn’t really fast, I felt just as credible as every other runner in that race.  Everywhere around the grounds afterward were people sporting their finisher medals but I think I may have been wearing mine most proudly.  My amazing friends and husband (then boyfriend) greeted me with a bouquet of flowers afterwards and then we went out dancing all night as a celebration.  It was incredible.

My friend Jason and I after completing my first ever 10k

My friend Jason and I after completing my first ever 10k

The following year, I ran the race again.  My time was a couple minutes slower but this time I was thrilled that I had run the entire 10k without walking!  They had also changed the route so that we ran alongside Ottawa’s beautiful Rideau Canal.  It was a cool summer evening and the sun shining over the water was gorgeous.  Thousands of people lined the race route handing out water, cheering us on, and holding up signs with hilarious and encouraging messages.  Again, my boyfriend, friends and I threw a massive celebration afterwards and I went home with another shiny finisher’s medal.

Proudly sporting my finisher's medal after the Ottawa 10k in 2011

Proudly sporting my finisher’s medal after the Ottawa 10k in 2011

Another time I felt amazing after a race was in 2011 when I ran a 5k race here in my hometown and placed 2nd in my age category. Albeit there were only six women in my category altogether, but the opportunity to stand on the podium and be presented with the “silver” medal felt extremely rewarding!  Another proud moment in my books.

Silver medalist on the podium in 2012

Silver medalist on the podium in 2012

I continued to run into 2012 but was soon hit by an illness that pretty much halted my running altogether.  That year, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and went through a series of tests and medications until I finally found one that worked.  While I’m happy to say I’ve now been in remission from colitis for three years, I never did get back into running.

Until today.

Today, I laced up my old Nikes, downloaded a new “running” list, plugged my earphones into my ears, and started Day 1 of my new “learn-to-run” program.  It was certainly an easy one (six intervals of run 30 seconds, walk 3 minutes) but just the old feeling of being out there in my running gear, pounding the pavement, felt amazing.  I felt like my old self again.  My old, athletic self.  The self of six years ago who crossed that finish line in Ottawa with soaring levels of confidence, pride, and self-love.

And despite it only being Run 1 of a 13-week program, the old feelings that came back to me today caused my motivation to soar.  In my mind, I’m already registering for races, conquering distances, and meeting personal best times.  I can’t wait!

Happy Running!

 

Week Two Check-In: I’m back and it feels so good!

running quoteI am feeling really happy and motivated today – it’s a sense of motivation that I haven’t felt in a really long time and it truly feels amazing.

I have been thinking long and hard about where this sudden jolt of motivation came from but I am having a hard time saying for sure.  It hit me last night like a ton of bricks.  I started reflecting on the last two weeks and the small changes I’ve been making in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.  Then I started setting goals in my mind, imagining where I could be a month, two months, six months from now.  I remembered how amazing it used to feel to conquer fitness goals and to slip into size 4 dresses effortlessly.  I remembered how fun it was to get dressed, to feel cute, and most of all to be proud of my body and what it could do.

I vowed to myself last night that I would work out this morning.  I have been taking longer walks over the last couple of weeks and while that’s a great start, I suddenly became really inspired to do a tougher workout.  Then I remembered running.  I taught myself to run four years ago (after I had reached my weight loss goal on Weight Watchers) and the effects on my body were amazing – my metabolism sky-rocketed, my weight loss efforts became a lot easier, and I actually had visible muscles in my thighs!   I gave up running about a year and a half ago when I was faced with some pretty significant health challenges but now that those are mostly under control and my desire to get back into shape is stronger than ever, I decided now was the time.run

I pulled out my old copy of the B.C. Sport Council of Medicine’s The Beginning Runner’s Handbook: The Proven 13-week Walk/Run program.  It’s the same program I used last time I taught myself to run and I had a ton of success with it.  Not too long ago, my husband moved our TV from the bedroom to the basement (in front of the treadmill that we rarely use).  So this morning, I kept a promise to myself, laced up my old Nikes (which I really missed by the way), and hopped on.  Forty minutes later (after an episode of E-talk and the sports highlights on SportsNet), I was done and feeling amazing.

And after just one single forty-minute workout, I am starting to remember why I was so successful in the past.  The feeling that a good workout gives you is incredible.  I don’t know how I had forgotten all those amazing feelings whilst sitting on the couch over the last year or so (especially when too many times on the couch result in such terrible, cruddy feelings).  As my face turned beat red and sweat developed in places that it hadn’t in months, I became determined.  Inspired. Motivated. Excited.

Shoe inspiration.

Shoe inspiration.

I am going to do this, I thought as I chugged away.  I am going to welcome fitness back into my life.  I am going to get fit, be strong, and most importantly, feel amazing.

It truly blows my mind to realize how one simple workout – how simply pushing your body that little bit harder – can overtake your body with feel-good endorphins.  Hell, nevermind feel-good, feel-fantastic endorphins.

It probably helps that the sun is shining and it finally feels like spring today (even after last night’s blizzard). But I hope I can hold on to this wonderful feeling – I hope I can bottle up this motivation, inspiration, and determination and continue to keep these promises to myself.  If I can, I know I will meet all the goals I have set for myself, and will soon have my healthy body and mind back.positive

I can’t wait!  🙂

 

 

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!  🙂