Chapter 1 – January Reflections

As a person who enjoys setting goals and dreaming, I like to make a regular practice of reflecting on my progress so that I can make intentional choices about the direction I am heading moving forward.

I am happy to say that January 2020 was a great start to a new year for me.  Here’s why:

Mindset Work
For a few years now, I have found the week between Christmas and New Year’s to be a time of dreaming, goal setting, and inspiration. This year was no different. I spent the week reading personal development, journalling, creating my vision board, setting goals, and dreaming BIG.  The difference between this year and last (or any year before that) is that this year, thanks to the mindset work I have been doing, I have not allowed my limiting beliefs to shut down my dreams.  In the past, I’d enjoy my time dreaming and goal-setting and within no time, my own self-doubt and limiting beliefs would convince me that my dreams were unattainable, unrealistic, or impossible. I’d start to play small, settle in my regular routine, and forget about the idea that I (like everyone) am made for more.

But over the past few years, I have been training my brain to think differently and it’s made THE biggest impact in my life. I am now aware of those limiting beliefs and can stop them before they take over.  It’s been a long process – and one that I believe we never stop practicing – but the positive effects it has had on my life are undeniable.

Clarity Workshop
That leads me to my next big thing in January which is that I feel like I finally have some clarity.  As I mentioned, I love to dream. I often think about what other possibilities and opportunities are out there for me.  In my head, I come up with a million little puzzle pieces but they never seemed to fit together. I needed clarity. What is it that I am really made for? Where is my path leading me? What BIG DREAMS do I have ?  In which direction am I headed? I struggled to answer these questions and then…

I Accepted God
Enter my brand new relationship with God. For the record, I prefer to call him God but this is new to me and still somewhat scary (although I am trying really hard to believe). I sometimes think of God as Source Energy or the Universe or whatever power larger than us that is out there. Because there is a power and he/she/it works in mysterious and wonderful ways and when you start really truly believing ….. well, it’s utterly amazing!

Anyway, I found myself struggling personally at the end of 2019 and had a moment where I felt so desperate and lost that I didn’t know what to do except pray (I have never really been a person to pray so this was a breakthrough moment). I called out to God and prayed, and prayed, and prayed so hard. I poured my heart, my fears, my worries, my concerns out to him and basically begged him to hear me and help me.

And guess what?

He did.  The very next day.  To say I was shocked and amazed is a major understatement. It was a massive awakening for me.

And then, I had an even bigger realization –   He had been there all along!  I had simply never reached out to him before.  He was always there, waiting and watching and all I had to do was speak to him through my heart for him to show himself to me. (Mind blown!)

As you can probably tell, this experience was profound for me, but as I said it’s still a little scary and uncertain. I have never been a religious person but as I begin to form a brand new relationship with God it’s pretty fascinating.  And it takes me back to my original point – clarity.

When we start to listen to what God places on our heart, we start to gain massive amounts of clarity.  But we can’t just listen. We have to believe. We have to believe in the path he has put us on and in the direction he is leading us. We have to believe the voice that speaks to us when we get really silent and listen to what’s on our heart.  So that’s what I did, and for the first time in a long time, I felt so clear and so excited about the path I am on and the direction I am heading.

Stepping out of my Comfort Zone
Once I started to be clear on my dreams and really, truly believe in them, I knew I had to take some action. This is another step that I have never taken before. Last summer, I had an opportunity that would have been amazing, but I let my self-doubts talk me out of it and never pursued it.  But this time, as soon as I started to believe, I began to be presented with opportunities that I knew I couldn’t say no to.  I said yes and believed I would figure it out. Of course, my old limiting beliefs and fear started popping up, but I paid attention to it and turned my thoughts around.  Am I scared?  Absolutely.  Terrified would be a more appropriate word to describe how Iam feeling. But am I going to do it anyway?  100% yes. 

I also wanted to take the time here to say  that stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be big, terryifing things.  It can be small and simple.  For example, I often think of something nice to say to strangers (“I love your shirt”, “your baby is so cute”, “I love your hair – where do you get it done?) but usually stop myself from saying it over the fear that they might think I am weird/strange/crazy. Now that I am aware of how silly this is, I have opened myself up and just say what’s on my mind!  Just think of the positive impact giving a compliment to a stranger can have!

Personal Development Books
Almost any personal development book will tell you that nothing great comes from your comfort zone. They will tell you that you should believe in your BIGGEST dreams and that you should take any action – no matter how small – to move towards them. They will tell you that you are capable, amazing, and made for more.  They will teach you how to train your brain to be aware of your negative self-talk and how to turn it into something positive.  Personal development books are pretty much amazing, and empowering, and full of such incredible information that I believe everybody should be reading them on a regular basis.
If you don’t like to read, you could also listen to any one of thousands of amazing podcasts, videos, or webinars.  I believe in personal development so strongly that I am working on a whole blog post on what it is, why you need to be engaging with it, and where you can find it. Stay tuned!

Made for More Facebook Group
Another big win for me last month was that I created a health and wellness Facebook group for women who have similar goals. The intention behind it was that I wanted a space where like-minded women could come together to support, motivate, and inspire each other to get healthier and to believe in themselves and their goals. At first, I had some self-doubt (would anyone be interested? Who am I to give “advice”? This has already been done) – but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  Within just a few days I had nearly 100 women signed up to the group!  We’re now a month in and not only do I absolutely love creating inspirational content for the group, but many women are still actively engaging with it on a daily basis! I’ve even had individual women reach out and thank me for creating the group and tell me how it has encouraged them and motivated them. Now I call that a win!

Morning Routine
Another big success for me in January was my commitment to my morning routine.  A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop and  felt like I found the missing pieces to my morning routine puzzle.  Because of my morning routine, I now have time every single day to do what I refer to as my heart work –  the reading, journalling, writing, and creating that sets my heart on fire and fills my cup so that it’s overflowing.  It’s amazing and if you don’t have a morning routine that lights up your soul and is the reason you spring out of bed in the morning, I highly suggest you start working on one.  Now.

Consistent Exercise
In January I also celebrated six months of consistent exercise!  I am finally at a point where I feel comfortable saying that exericse is a regular part of my routine and I am so proud of that!  I have exercised off and on for years but last July I made a commitment to a 100-day workout program – Beachbody’s  Morning Meltdown 100 – that changed everything. I built so much momentum with that program (not to mention endurance, strength + flexibility) that I knew I had to keep going.  So I did.  Since then I have completed an 8-week program and am going into my third week of the 8-week program for a second time.

The biggest thing that keeps me coming back to my work outs over and over again is the positive impact it has had on my mental health.  Exercise is my stress relief.  It is my proof that I can do hard things. It makes me feel strong and fierce physically and mentally. It’s true what they say about the power of endorphins after exericse – there really is nothing quite like it.

My biggest nutrition win in January was signing back up for Weight Watchers and beginning to track my food again. Tracking helps me to be more mindful of my food choices and to more frequently make better choices. It helps guide me towards healthier food options and away from mindless eating. I still really feel like healthy eating is the missing link in my health and wellness journey. Eating right has always been my biggest struggle. Even with all the exercise  I have been doing, my physical results have been slow because of the way I eat. I know that, and I continue to work on it.  Some days are better than others but I am not giving up and know that it’s the area I need to work on the most.

As you can see, I am celebrating a lot of wins for the month of January. For that, I am extremely grateful because I know that it was not that way for everybody. Many people struggle through this season when the days are long, dark, and dreary.  I saw family members, friends, and colleagues face their own challenges this month. And it’s not to say that I didn’t face any of my own. But overall, it was a positive month and for now I am choosing to focus on the good.

Life is full of ups and downs and I fully believe that when we are moving upward we need to celebrate and soak it all in. We need to do the work to strengthen our mind, body, and soul so that when life takes a downturn (as it inevitably will) we can move through it with grace and strength.

I’m ready February –  bring it on! 


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.


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.


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!


Wish me luck!


30-Day Plan: Day Seventeen

Okay guys, so I am going to come out right and admit right now that I’ve kind of let this little “holiday” get the better of me and have somewhat fallen off track.  I say “somewhat” because it hasn’t been totally bad – for one thing, I am still writing absolutely everything I eat in my food journal and counting my Weight Watchers points.  I’ve also been trying to do some sort of exercise every day (although haven’t worked out at all yet today).  But other than that, little indulgences every day are starting to add up, and unfortunately today was no better.  Here’s how Day 17 has shaped up:

First of all, since I was up late last night visiting with girlfriends, Mom didn’t wake me for the 7 a.m walk this morning.  It was kind of nice to sleep in though and I was still out of bed just after 8 a.m (Mom had not only myself, but my cousin and his wife and three kids, and my three nieces all staying here last night so it was a little noisy around the house pretty early this morning as all the little humans came to life!)

Breakfast:  Since we had so much company, Mom whipped up some of her amazing pancakes this morning.  I couldn’t say no.  Instead, I had one small one and was careful about how much butter and syrup I put on it.  All in all, I figure it came out to about 7-8 WW points and although the meal wasn’t exactly filling or healthy, it certainly was quite delicious!

After breakfast, most of the gang here headed out on a day trip to Quebec while I agreed to stay home and watch my two oldest nieces (7 and 4 years old).  Shortly after breakfast, I lathered the girls in sunscreen and we headed out to the first of three parks we’d hit today!image

Lunch: After playing at two different parks, I brought the girls home to grab a quick lunch.  Mom’s fridge was packed with leftovers so I had some leftover chicken breast and treated myself to some leftover macaroni salad that Mom had served a couple nights earlier (macaroni noodles, diced veggies, diced cheddar cheese, light mayonnaise).  I probably shouldn’t have eaten as much as I did but I decided to just finish up what was left in the fridge, which ended up being about a serving and a half.


After lunch, I brought my nieces to a nearby town where they have a movie theatre. Before hitting the movies, the girls wanted to play in the “big park” by the lake. After a little stroll on the boardwalk and checking out the water, I let the girls play for a bit before we packed up again and headed to the movie theatre.

My sweeties by the lake near the park.

My sweeties by the lake near the park.

Selfies at the park.

Selfies at the park.

Snack:  Since I hadn’t planned a healthier snack to sneak into the movies (who hasn’t done that?!), I decided to just go ahead and have some popcorn and diet pop at the theatre.  It ended up that there was way too much butter and salt on the popcorn (even for my liking) so if I’m being honest, I really didn’t enjoy the popcorn all that much. But I ate it anyway, mindlessly munching away while we watched the movie. About half way through the bag though, I stopped myself.  Eating an unhealthy food that’s not absolutely delicious is just not worth it for me. Instead, I shared a box of Smarties chocolates with my niece and gave her the rest of my popcorn.  I also had a Diet Coke – all in all my movie snacks came to about 13 points – eek!


This popcorn wasn't the best but I half of it anyway.

This popcorn wasn’t the best but I ate half of it anyway.

By the time the movie ended and the girls were loaded up, it was getting close to dinner time.  Sure enough, as McDonalds came into view my little niece piped up from the backseat, “I’m hungry!”  I knew the rest of the family wasn’t going to be home for dinner and the girls and I were having such a fun day together, that I decided to treat them and pulled into McDonalds.

Dinner:  I’m not going to lie.  At this point, that “might as well go all out now” mentality came into effect a little bit as I contemplated what to have at McDonald’s.  I knew I’d already made quite a few unhealthy choices between the pancake, the macaroni salad, the popcorn, and  the chocolate.  To make things just a teensy bit better, I decided to order a kids meal (smaller portion).  I chose the chicken nuggets Kids Meal which came with a mini order of fries and a small Diet Coke for a total of only 9 WW points (not too bad for a fast food meal!)


It’s now early evening and I am already at 46 points for the day.  If I am hungry later, I will be sure to have a healthy snack (most likely yogurt and almonds or some rice cakes) since I’m already out of “bonus” points for the week.  I’m also heading home tomorrow morning so I plan to get right back on track and start sticking to my 30 daily points again starting first thing tomorrow morning!

17 days down, 13 to go!

30-Day Plan: Day Sixteen

So I read an interesting article last night written by a guy who’d been obese all his life and then lost a lot of weight.  The article focussed on the psychological aspect of weight loss and was something I could really relate to.  Every time I go on a weight loss program, I feel a little neurotic about it.  I have to think so carefully about all my food choices each and every day.  I realize this is just a temporary thing.  I have to think hard and consciously make good choices until habits develop.  In the past, when I lost a significant amount of weight it took a year or two before I didn’t have to work so hard.  By then I had developed some pretty good habits and things came more naturally.  But for me, when I first start back on a program, it takes significant work.  I have to think carefully about all my choices, do extra work to prepare healthy meals, make sure I get my workouts in, and the hardest part of all – try to find a healthy balance between restricting myself and treating myself.

This week, I am on somewhat of a “holiday”.  Technically, I get the whole summer off but I’m out of town visiting family this week.  There have been a lot of food temptations this week and although I’ve done quite well with making good choices, it’s definitely been a challenge.  For one thing, we celebrated three birthdays this week so there’s been a lot of cake.  Also, there’s been a crazy heat wave going on so there’s been a lot of ice cream.  And of course, when families get together there’s always hearty meals to sit down to.  Since I am still on my 30-day program, I had intentions to restrict myself and stay as close to my daily 30 points as possible.  However, I do have to recognize that I am on “holidays” this week and need to be a little forgiving to myself.  That’s where the balance comes in.  And balance has always been the part I struggle with.  How many “treats” are just the right amount?  Am I being too restrictive?  Am I being too lenient?  If I have “treats” three days in a row, will it slowly evolve back into a bad habit?  (See this is where the neurotic part comes in… I end up over-thinking everything).

So the golden question is, how does one truly get to a place where they have established enough of the right habits that maintaining a healthy weight isn’t so much work?  Where I can feel like I am living freely and enjoying food, but I don’t have to worry about how much weight I might gain or what kind of habits I am creating?  And if I do start losing weight, when will I be truly happy with my body?  Is that even possible or do we all have insecurities no matter how fit and healthy we are?

I guess it’s just one of those days where I am over-thinking things.  That being said, I decided to go a little bit easier on myself today and indulge in my holidays a little.  Here’s how today has gone:

Workout 1:  Despite getting up three mornings in a row now to go walking at 7 a.m I have realized I am still definitely not a morning workout person.  I much prefer moving slowly after I get out of bed – watching morning talk shows, reading, checking social media feeds, and having a leisurely breakfast and coffee.  Nonetheless, I enjoy walking with Mom and she goes at 7 a.m.  So once again, I laced up my sneakers and off we went.  Today’s walk was no easier than yesterday’s, in fact I pretty much felt like I was sleep walking!  I dragged myself along though, and completed the 5km walk in about an hour for a total of 6 activity points.

Breakfast:  Today, I repeated yesterday’s breakfast – a fried egg, 3 slices of turkey bacon, and a slice of toast and butter.  Mmmm, toast and butter.  I seriously could eat a whole loaf of toast and butter for breakfast!  I think when I go back home I will find a healthier carb alternative (to help sustain hunger a little longer) but for now while on “vacation” I’m loving every single bite of toast and butter.  I also enjoyed a morning coffee with 4 tbsp of French- Vanilla cream.

This was yesterday's breakfast but I repeated it again today.

This was yesterday’s breakfast but I repeated it again today.

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30-Day Plan: Day Fifteen

Today marks the half-way point of my 30-day commitment to myself which is kind of ironic because today was pretty tough.  I don’t know why but all day, all I wanted to do was eat.  And then eat some more.  Here’s some of the challenges I faced today.

Workout 1:  I woke up to go for a walk with Mom at 7 a.m again and today’s walk was no easier than yesterday’s.  My body is just not awake that soon after I get out of bed!  I dragged myself along even though my lower back ached and my legs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds each.  Thank goodness I had Mom to chat with or I likely wouldn’t have completed the entire 5k route.  That, and today was really hot and humid, but at 7 a.m the air was still refreshingly cool and the town is still very quiet as most people are just starting to get moving.   When all was said and done, our walk earned me 6 activity points.

Breakfast:  I enjoyed breakfast on the patio again today.  I cooked up my usual fried egg and turkey bacon (2 slices instead of 3 today) and then because I was feeling more hungry than usual, I also made a slice of toast with butter.  (If you read yesterday’s post you know that toast & butter is practically like having dessert for me!  So yummy!  I savoured every last bit of that single piece of delicious toast!)

Even just looking at this picture of that toast makes me want more

Even just looking at this picture of that toast makes me want more

After a shower, I took a few minutes to chop some more vegetables and pre-cook some more turkey burgers and turkey bacon.  I find vegetables so much easier to eat if they are prepared ahead of time!   I also hate cooking (and am not a morning person), so by pre-cooking my turkey bacon I can just warm up a couple of slices in the morning. I sipped on my coffee and French-Vanilla cream on the drive to the grocery store.

Speaking of the grocery store…. Have I mentioned today was one of those days where I just wanted to eat everything?  A grocery store is not the place to go when you are having one of those days.  While I watched Mom shop (she needed things, I was just along for the ride), I gazed longingly at the shelves of delicious foods wishing I could eat anything and everything….. Ice cream, pancakes, Eggo waffles, sugary cereals, bagels, chips, chocolate bars, granola bars, cookies, even Toaster Strudels (which I’ve actually never eaten in my life).  I am happy to report, however, that not a single one of those items went into our cart.

Lunch:  On the way home from the store, I dove into a bag of Quaker Mini Rice Cakes to ward off my desire to eat anything.  I tried to keep the portion small but I’ll admit, I was eating pretty mindlessly and kind of just devouring all the rice cakes.  I figure I ate about 8 points worth on the short drive home.  When we arrived home, I prepared my regular turkey burger, feta cheese, and sautéed vegetables and also devoured a large chunk of watermelon and drank a 32-oz bottle of water in one sitting!


Workout 2:  This afternoon, my family and I headed to the local pool.  I used to never be much of one for swimming but recently I’ve discovered that being in the water is actually pretty relaxing so I’ve started to go a little more often.  I like the pool in my hometown on hot days like today because it’s outdoor and it’s the one I grew up going to!  I have many, many fond childhood memories of hot summer days spent at this pool.  Anyway, in an effort to get a bit of a workout, I did actually try to do some swimming as opposed to just walking around in the pool and playing with my stepson.  Overall though, it wasn’t really much of a workout per se, so I’m only counting about 2 activity points.

Pool days

Pool days

My son leaping off the diving board

My son leaping off the diving board

Dinner:   By the time we got home from the pool a couple hours later, I was very hungry.  It was still an hour to supper so I drank some more water hoping that would hold me off.  For dinner, my Dad barbecued pork chops (delicious but huge!) and Mom prepared a macaroni salad and a garden salad. Instead of having some of the macaroni salad (prepared with mayo), Mom had set aside some of the pasta for me and I made my own version of pasta salad with a diced veggies, a few cubes of cheddar cheese, and a bit of light Italian dressing.  Although I measured out 3/4 cup intending to only eat some of it, I ended up eating the whole serving since I was still feeling like I wanted to eat everything in the house!


After dinner, I resisted the leftover birthday cake and decided to have a 1/2 cup of chocolate frozen yogurt for dessert instead.  I absolutely love Chapman’s frozen yogurt and would highly recommend it if you’re looking to make an easy transition from ice cream to frozen yogurt.

By 7:30, I was feeling like I needed to eat again.  And once again, I wanted to eat anything.  My husband had brought home this giant jar of peanut butter-filled pretzels and I wanted to devour them.  Instead, I had two and then checked the WW points using my app.  8 points for 17 pretzels.  Considering they’re a pretty good size that’s actually not too bad but I knew if I ate them I still wouldn’t be satisfied and then would have to eat something more.  Instead, I grabbed a small handful of almonds and then some more mini rice cakes and a Diet Coke.

So I am definitely over my points allotment today but as previously mentioned I am not sure what’s up today but I just want to eat ALL. THE. FOOD.   I don’t know if I didn’t drink enough water, if it’s a specific time of the month, or if it was just “one of those days” but I certainly hope this feeling has gone away by tomorrow!   I do have to give myself some credit though because I did better than I could have today.  For instance, I passed on going to the chip hut for lunch with my cousin who is visiting, and I avoided Mom’s freezer that has all kinds of ice cream including Drumsticks, and her snack cupboard which has several bags of chips!  Still, today overall was a bit disappointing in general (especially considering I’ve had a couple high-points days recently) so I am hoping to do better tomorrow!

15 days down, 15 to go!