Committing.

As I reflect on my fitness and health journey, as well as continue to share my progress in my challenge groups, I thought it would be fun (and appropriate with New Years coming up) to talk about how “commitment” has helped me see fitness in a new light.

Back in the days of my running I created a plan and I stuck to it. Life was a bit simpler then.. I was in school/newly graduated.. Didn’t have a baby.. For part of it I was single and had no one to report to or check in with, it was just me myself and I.. and then when Matthias and I got back together we both were very committed to our fitness goals and didn’t mind each other spending time on them.

Slowly life started to shift (as it always does), and I started to lose my running Mojo after completing a marathon. I wanted to try other things, but I didn’t really know what, and I didn’t really have a plan. I spent a year enjoying crossfit, and then another year enjoying yoga, but again with no plan keeping focused – no goals I was working towards.

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Pre-Marathon “Glow”

At THAT point in my life, that is exactly what I needed. I had been so focused on structure for so long that I needed NO structure. That also left my level of fitness at the lowest it had been in a while, I was feeling softer and a bit more fluffy, but I wasn’t too concerned about it.

I really dropped off the commitment train when I went through my first trimester of pregnancy, and for some time after that I struggled. I wasn’t in super good shape so I didn’t feel confident to start a workout program, so I kept up with light activity plus spinning once or twice a week.

Fast forward to Quinn. And all the emotional stuff that came along with that transition and I was truly grasping for anything to help me feel like “me” again. So I took the plunge and committed myself to 90 days Turbo Fire.

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1 Month Postpartum

Beachbody recommends doing some form of Personal Development every day, and I must say, this has been so important for me. I’m always looking to grow and improve so PD aligns perfectly with my values. I’ve been reading, listening to podcasts, and watching webinars and videos on Youtube.

There is one thing in particular that stuck out to me that helped solidify my commitment. I was watching a Webinar and the person speaking talking about how she looked at getting in her workout as a part of her job. As a health and fitness coach you need to lead by example. Looking at your workout as a part of your job means you have to show up. Period. If I didn’t show up to my nursing shifts I’d lose my job. If I don’t show up for my workouts I won’t be building a successful business.

So what about those folks who don’t work in the fitness industry?

Think of it this way – It’s your job to show up for your family every day. Now most days, that is a good thing, but lets be honest here, not every day is sunshine and rainbows. Those days are the ones you especially want to be on your A-game. Working out can help you feel like a better and happier YOU. You need to show up for your family and lead by example. If fitness and healthy living becomes a part of your values and you believe it is something important it will be a lot easier for you to commit to your goals.

Now that I have completed two programs – Turbo Fire and the 21 Day Fix Extreme. I am setting my sights on my next program – The Masters Hammer & Chisel (releasing TODAY!).

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As far as my goals for the New Year – I’m planning to run the Woody’s 1/2 marathon, so I will be creating a training plan for that and going from there, probably early February is when I will start to train :)

In summary:

  • Think of a way to incorporate Fitness/Healthy Living as a part of a JOB you have to do
  • Find ways to work on YOU every day – podcasts, health articles, books, educational videos
  • Set realistic goals, if your goal is to not have structure, that is okay too :)
  • Write it down! I find that if I have a plan written down or if I schedule my workout into my day I am much more likely to follow through with it.
  • Accept where you are today in the journey, its exactly where you need to be right now, don’t worry about tomorrow or yesterday, focus on what you can do today and what you have control over right now

Recommitting to Postpartum Fitness

Just like with (almost) everything else regarding having a baby, I had grand plans for my postpartum fitness. Granted, I am only 7 weeks in, but I have felt the itch to exercise since about week 3, so for about a month now. I’ve done lots and lots of walking (almost daily!), and aside from the few pump workouts I got in, I’ve fallen off the exercise wagon.

It was really hard at first because I knew I wanted to exercise, but Quinn’s naps wouldn’t be more than 25-30 minutes long, and they were so sporadic and often broken up into smaller chunks separated by crying that I just had no idea how I could fit in day time exercise besides walking (I didn’t feel ready to run with her in the stroller yet). At night after I got her to sleep (shes sleeping by 8:30-9pm, but lays down to bed at 7:30ish), I really didn’t feel like working out. Most days, I’ve been up since 6:30am and I don’t nap well at all (so we all know where Quinn gets it from haha), so I was just not motivated enough to workout right before going to bed. All I wanted to do was unwind from the day.

Now that we are getting closer to a better nap schedule, and we are actively working on it every day, I am ready to start fitting in an early morning workout during her first nap (which is generally her best one, clocking in at around 45mins.

My plan is to alternate Pump Workouts with Online Yoga from the Breathing Room. On days when its pretty nice out I will start Running at the Dog Park with Quinn in the Stroller. I’m going to aim for 3-4 workouts a week, with walking on most of my off days, and work my way up to 5 workouts.

I’m also wearing my Fitbit Flex again, but it doesn’t count steps when my arms are stationary and pushing the stroller! Frustrating. I’d also really like to upgrade it to the Charge or the Surge, but that’s out of my budget for now because obvi I needed to buy another UppyMama Wrap (haha..).

beforeI’m one of those lucky people who actually loves my postpartum body more than I loved my body before (hello, I just grew the coolest (and loudest) little chick ever!), so here are my 4 week postpartum pictures. I gained way too much weight during pregnancy, and I am still far away from my comfortable body. No shame though. I’ll get to where I need/want to be in time. :)

Pregnancy Weight Gain

I finally bit the bullet.

I weighed myself this morning at 39 weeks pregnant.

Having a midwife, I didn’t have to track my weight at my appointments if I didn’t want to, as long as my other numbers where in check (blood pressure and fundal height). I’ve always measured 1-2cm behind my current week (at my 39 week appointment I was measuring 37cm), and my blood pressure has hovered around the 90-110/60-75 mark.

When I was so nauseous in the first trimester, I literally ate every two hours. And I will be the first to acknowledge the choices I made were often more unhealthy than healthy. I couldn’t stand the sight of salad, vegetables, and most fruit besides bananas. I wanted carbs, cheese, and more carbs. I was sick for 7 weeks straight. During this time, I did weigh myself a few times. And I felt sad at the numbers I saw because they were very much more than I was supposed to be gaining during my first trimester.

I stopped weighing myself at the 15 week mark with the permission of my midwife because the number I saw did play on my emotions. It didn’t constantly effect me, it didn’t make me want to restrict or binge, but it did play on my self esteem. And that was something I didn’t want to have on my mind during the pregnancy. I wanted to focus on being as healthy as I could within my means to foster the baby’s growth. I didn’t want a silly number to make me feel bad about growing my child. I wanted to, and decided to trust my body to do what it needed to and to gain the weight it was supposed to.

Seeing the number that I saw this morning was… well, not nice. It was definitely more than they recommend you gain in a pregnancy. But it wasn’t earth shattering. It didn’t send me into a depressed state or cry “Woe is Me”. It didn’t make me regret eating McDonalds or drinking all the Tim Horton’s Iced Capps I could get my hands on during the first 14 weeks. It did make me think that maybe it would have been different if I had started taking the Diclectin earlier? Would I have been able to eat vegetables instead of Beefaroni and toast? Would I have kept up more thoroughly with my exercise routine? Continued Yoga every day? Taken more group fitness classes? Would the weight gain have been significantly less if I could have eaten more normally and wasn’t pretty much confined to my bed or the couch for almost 2 months? Those are things I can’t know, because I can’t go back and see. Maybe it would have ended up with the same number on the scale. It’s hard to say.

It did make me very grateful for my husband. My sweet husband who worked away and came home every few weeks probably thought on more than one occasion “Wow” at my changing size. But he never let on to it. He never said anything to make me feel bad, much less to be acutely aware that I looked so starkly different. He touched my belly and said I didn’t look as pregnant as other women who were as far along as I was. He never once made me feel like my pregnant shape was any less desirable than my pre-pregnant shape. Whenever I did let on that I wasn’t feeling super awesome about my body he told me he thought I was beautiful and when I said “I won’t be this size forever” he said it didn’t matter what size I was. How did I get so lucky?

It also made me grateful for my kind friends who all said with sincere enthusiasm “You look great!” and to the people who still don’t 100% realize I am pregnant and say “Oh you can hardly tell!” I honestly don’t get it, and I don’t quite believe it. They are probably just being polite, or they think I’ve gotten insanely fat in a short amount of time, which makes me kind of chuckle. But that is besides the point.

The point I guess I am trying to make is that it is okay that I have gained this weight. I’ve never weighed as much as I weigh now before. None of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit, and probably won’t fit for months after I actually have the baby. My level of fitness is nothing like it was before I was pregnant. But I’ve spent the last 39 weeks letting my body do the coolest thing it has ever done. And I’ve found a way to trust it like I never have before. Those are both priceless life lessons. And there is no place for body shame or weight shame in that. There is only room for love. Love for my body, which has worked so hard to grow my daughter, and love for my daughter, who I hope with all my heart will grow up to love her own body.

 

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Organic & Local

Have you heard of Michael Pollan?

If not, you should google him, and then buy a couple of his books. 😉

Michael Pollan is an American author and journalist who “writes about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment.” (source)

I have read 3 of his books so far, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, and most recently The Omnivores Dilemma.

Since beginning my “healthy living” education 5 years ago, my dietary choices have undergone many evolutions. When I started out, I still regularly ate fast food like McDonalds, but counted points on Weight Watchers to teach myself proper weight-loss “portions.”

Then, in an all-or-nothing move, I decided to become a Vegetarian without much research because I wanted a way to say “NO” to fast food. This is when I was first introduced to Michael Pollan and his work. I started to research what it actually meant to be a vegetarian, how to make sure my diet had a broad range of proteins, carbs, and fats, ext…

Then I saw Forks Over Knives, and decided I should try to be a Vegan. I was never very good at being Vegan. I really like Yogurt and certain chocolate that has milk. Not to mention Cream Cheese on Bagels and Honey in tea. Yes, I have come to the conclusion that Veganism is not something I can sustain while maintaining a healthy and happy relationship with food.

All the while I meticulously tracked e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g on My Fitness Pal. And would have anxiety if I strayed from my “plan” or couldn’t track something. All the while I was over exercising, sometimes up to 3 hours a day, but my disordered brain rationalized this, that I was “just” walking my dogs for an hour and a half after a long run and that was “okay”. I rarely ate my exercise calories back. I wanted to keep the number as close to 1200 a day as I could.

Do you see a pattern here? More and more restriction. More foods that I “couldn’t” eat for one reason or another. This was my thinly veiled “eating disorder” or is it just “disordered eating pattern”?

When I finally sat down to reassess all the damage I had done, I realized I needed some professional help to break my food habits being tied to my emotional instability surrounding my relationship with my biological parents.

Enter counseling and all the grueling emotional work I had to do with myself to get to a healthier place. I gained weight. I lightened up my restrictions. I took bites of Matthias’ meat here and there at restaurants. I ate McDonalds French Fries (a small) and didn’t feel the need to binge.

In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had an emotional reaction to overeating. Certainly I have eaten my fair share of entire tubes of Pringles over my pregnancy. But the emotional turmoil I had associated with eating has been “gone” for some time. Does this mean I liked being 160lb vs. 120lb and that I would rather wear a size 8/10 vs. a size 2/4? Absolutely not. Those numbers occasionally creep in and make me feel some sadness and loss about the fact that I will likely never see the smaller numbers again. But I’ve learned to cope with that sadness in healthy ways (sans binge) and have found a relationship with my emotional self and physical self that is maintainable and happy.

Okay, so throw pregnancy into the mix, and extreme nausea and daily vomiting. I couldn’t look at Kale, Spinach, Almond Milk, or Eggs, I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning without eating a granola bar first. I couldn’t even LOOK in my fridge. All that sounded “good” (read: easy enough to microwave so I didn’t have to spend very much time in my kitchen) was Beefaroni. So being a vegetarian went out the window pretty quickly in my first trimester.

I always thought, “Yeah, I will get back to it once I am feeling better,” but here I am, 35 weeks into pregnancy, with a freezer full of freezer meals made with meat, and chicken in the fridge that I am going to cook tonight.

Do I eat meat with every meal? No. Do I eat meat every day? No. But I do eat it about 4 times a week.

I still thought, “I want to raise my daughter as a vegetarian.” That was, until I read the Omnivore’s Dilemma.

What should we have for dinner? The question has confronted us since man discovered fire, but according to Michael Pollan, how we answer it today, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, may well determine our very survival as a species. The omnivore’s dilemma has returned with a vengeance, as the cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet confronts us with a bewildering and treacherous food landscape. What’s at stake in our eating choices is not only our own and our children’s health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth. (source)

When I took a closer look at the food choices I was making as a vegetarian, I realized that no, I wasn’t always making healthy food choices by buying produce grown halfway across the world sprayed with chemicals and grown with genetically modified DNA so that it could kill the “pests” that might damage the crop. Even though I wasn’t eating “meat,” I was still buying milk, yogurt and eggs treated with hormones and produced by animals that are treated so awfully that when you learn some of the details about their life you feel sick to your stomach.

So where did that leave me? I had never been faced with the “ethical” argument of being a vegetarian because I chose to look the other way. I had also never considered the impact I was still having on the environment by saying yes to produce that was still using fossil fuels to travel halfway around the world.

Matthias is pretty much on board with whatever I say we are going to buy at the grocery store, but he does like to eat meat, so he would always add that into the cart wherever we were.

I’ve recently committed us, as a family, to purchasing (more) local and organic whole foods. I say this because in Alberta, with our wonderful winters, it is unsustainable to think that we can buy a full range of local fruits and vegetables all year round. But we can make the choice to purchase organic, which eliminates some of the unknowns about GMO’s and Chemicals. In terms of meat, poultry, eggs, milk and cream, that we will try to always buy local and organic/free of hormones and antibiotics. I also want to focus on buying meat that is raised ethically. I don’t mind eating a cow that has lived as a cow. A cow that has grazed on pastures with other cows and lived as it was meant to. Same with chickens. I don’t mind eating chicken that was able to wander and peck at the ground and have enough room to (theoretically speaking) spread its wings and move freely. But those things seem extremely hard to find.

Two solutions to this particular dilemma are The Big Bend Market and R Farm Lacombe. I am very excited that these options are available to us in Red Deer, and I feel confident that making these changes in our diets will have a positive and educational impact on our family.

Will it ever be perfect? Probably not. Ignorance is consumer bliss. And the food conglomerate controls a lot more in our government than we realize. But it’s a step in the right direction. :)