Finally Here

At times it felt like this moment would never come.  After over a year of waiting, planning and saving today marks my last day of work before I start to get serious about my upcoming adventure.  I haven’t talked about it much since I announced signing up for Yoga Teacher Training back in February, not because I am not spilling over with excitement but rather because I have been so per-occupied with other endeavors (Personal Training Certification, Run Club, etc).   Now with everything else out of the way I feel like I am going to burst with a mix of excitement and nerves.
yoga CollageI have started a small collection of items I require for my travels on our dinning room table and I get butterflies every time I walk by and see my mini stock pile of items. Nervous excitement seems like the best way to explain how I am feeling about my trip.

This adventure will be the first time I am away from Canada for as long as I will be, and it will also be the first time I travel for an extended period of time on my own and instead of meeting up with friends I will be meeting up with strangers. It is a whole bunch of new and firsts for me and I am just so curious to see how it all works out.

UntitledIt will be nice waking up Sunday morning to warm temperatures and sun as opposed to this mornings snow and below zero temperatures. I can’t wait to bring you some sunny blog posts and to keep you all up to date on how things are going at yoga school. So stay tuned.

Happy Wednesday!

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My Transformation…nah My Education

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Today is the 50th day of the Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge and I hope you have all loved the challenge and have had the opportunity to learn a lot about yourselves.  I have really appreciated in how much it helped me learn a bit more about myself and about what I am capable of, especially in the “eating on weekends” department.  Before the challenge weekend eating was a bit of a gong show for me.  My healthy week time diet generally flew out the window and full blown laziness set in.  The challenge has helped me to learn that I have a lot more time than I used to think, and mainly that eating healthy and preparing healthy meals really isn’t as big of a hassle as I used to think it was.

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I know I am probably sounding like a broken record but the challenge has been so amazing for me and I really hope that it has been as refreshing, motivating and positive for everyone else who had decided to participate.  If you are interested in finding out a bit more about how I felt about this challenge and what I learnt check out my post of lessons learnt.

The past 50 days have been integral to my growth and understanding of health and fitness.  I have mentioned before (one,two and three) how I started my journey and with the help of this challenge and encouragement from many loving friends/family, my amazing trainer and all of my wonderful readers I have decided to do something that has terrified me since I started this blog.  I decided it was time for me to share my starting or “before” photo and my current self or “after” photo.

For a long time I haven’t felt like sharing a photo like this because, well besides being completely intimidated I haven’t felt like there was such a big difference in how I looked a year ago to how I look now. I definitely feel different, I am happier, I have more energy, and I sleep better but it never 100% sunk in for me when it came to my look.   When I actually took the time to compare two photos and it hit me, I guess you don’t really see all the small or big changes when you look at yourself in the mirror every day.

Sometimes it takes you taking a step back to realize that “holy crap I have come a long way“.  Now I know I have put in a lot of hard work, I know I have made a lot of positive life changes, and I know that on a daily basis I decide to do what I can to be a happy, healthy, helpful and balanced individual but sometimes it takes the visual to see just how much hard work you have put in.

So if you are starting a journey to build a happier, healthier, more balanced self I strongly recommend taking a starting photo and tucking it away somewhere for future reference.  Take monthly progress pictures and compare them to remind yourself of all the good you are doing for yourself and all the effort you are putting into making yourself the best you that you can be. These pictures will help you in the downs and give you an even bigger boost on the ups.

before and after.I am sharing this photo to help motivate and encourage anyone who is thinking of or just starting their journey or maybe you are in the middle of it and hitting a rough patch. Just remember why you started and think of how you are feeling (more energy, better sleep, more positive outlook, etc.).  And remember to be proud of all of your accomplishments and to take time to acknowledge all of your hard work.

Happy Wednesday everyone! And congrats again to everyone on their last day of Gingersneezes Eats Clean!  Don’t forget to make an inspiration board and to write down some positive habits you want to continue once today is over. 

Clicking-In

I think to date my favourite part o my health and fitness journey is that starting to really understand all the things I had been telling myself for years. Things like “nutrition is important” “food isn’t the enemy” “you are awesome” and so on. It feels silly sometimes how eye opening it is and how all these little “clicks” seem to come in packages here and there. It seems that they have each waited their turn to present themselves to me in a way that I would finally click-in and understand the words that I had been repeating to myself all these days, months and years. I believe Oprah calls these moments “Aha Moments

The 50 Day Challenge we are currently doing has been one of those things that has helped click-in simple ideas for me. So far the biggest, maybe ridiculous, things have really been are that nutrition is important and forming and breaking habits doesn’t have to feel impossible.

Nutrition is Important:

You are probably thinking “Oh geez didn’t she know about nutrition? The woman is constantly going off about healthy this and that” and well yes. Yes, I was aware that nutrition is important to a healthy and happy lifestyle but sometimes it takes that extra little kick to show you just how important integral something is to the whole process. Also feeding myself healthful and nutritious foods hasn’t always been one of my strong suits. So it may have taken time, it may have taken a lot of trying but I would like to think that I am finally getting there.

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I have been lucky enough to have individuals coming to me with questions about various food items, possible preservatives and healthy alternatives to their favourite foods which gave me the extra push to look into solutions and really finding out what is in my own food. For me helping and learning for others, and inturn learning for myself, has definitely helped to open my eyes about the different nutritional challenges I face but also the various nutritional challenges of others. It has also been somewhat comforting to know that I am not the only one with questions and that we all have learning to do no matter what stage we are at in our journeys.

Forming and breaking habits doesn’t have to feel impossible:

Encouraging healthy habits and curbing less healthy ones isn’t something that needs to be constantly forced. Of course you will have to motivate and encourage yourself towards change, but it doesn’t need to feel like an eternal struggle with yourself. That being said I am not saying this is super easy either, it is still a change and with change there is often a struggle. I guess what I mean here is that we don’t have to make it as hard on ourselves as I think most humans tend to do.

I have found that in forming new habits we first have to acknowledge what and where our old, maybe not so great habits, live and what they are all about. It is only once you understand something that you can change it and then at that point it is about progressively making small changes that fit into your lifestyle and challenge you to progress.

zenI have been working on this one for some time now. It is something I was luckily able to address with some outside help (enter my personal trainer Alannah and my naturopath Ramila). I often like to believe that I can do everything on my own and if you were to poll people who know me they would likely all agree that I have a certain “stick-to-it-ness”.

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Personally I think my stubbornness helps me to stay on course and keep trying no matter how many times I slip up. However it was from outside perspectives that I learnt that when I am struggling more than usual it has been because I was face to face with an old not so great habit and my brain is challenging me on why I want to choose a different path. It is with softness, self-understanding and positive self reinforcement that these faceoffs get less challenging/difficult and eventually you start to feel like they are hills instead of mountains.

I hope that you are working on your list of things you have learnt about yourself on the 50 Day Challenge, along with a list of things you want to keep up once the challenge is over. If you feel like it I would love to hear from you and see your lists! You can please send an email or share them on the Gingersneezes Facebook page!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Inspiration on a Cold Wet Day

Every morning I have the same routine of waking up ridiculously early and sorting through some blogs. I like catching up on other’s blogs and seeing what else is going on in the world of fitness, health, fashion, home decor, etc. It is a nice way for my brain to slowly wake up and lucky for me I normally get to learn something or be inspired a bit.

This morning I made my way to BexLife. I have been reading her blog and following her YouTube posts on and off for about a year now and she is always quite inspiring. Today the post I stumbled upon that really kind of hit home was on eating while on vacation. The fact that I had just come back from vacation didn’t really play into it’s impact on me as much as a comment a friend made the other day. He said “okay this is all great but when does Brittany get to eat a hamburger?” His words made me realize that my struggle with my nutrition (either too hard on myself or to relaxed) was something that maybe I needed to take a step back and assess with love. The five words of wisdom that Bex’s offered were “How does this serve me?”

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These words struck me because I know that for me food journaling and food planning are good things because they help me stay stay on track. What these words did was remind me of the need to think about what I am eating. “How is eating this going to make me feel? what am I feeling that is making want that? What do I do with all of this information?”

For myself the struggle is to find a middle ground between being proud for making the “healthiest” choices or making myself feel guilty for not making the “healthiest” choices. It is about realizing that sometimes the healthiest choice for your body and mind isn’t always going to be considered the most nutritionally sound but eating with compassion and love for yourself sometimes means allowing yourself a slice of pie or a glass of champagne.

I have labelled indulgences as compassionate and loving because allowing yourself the occasional indulgence without mentally pummeling yourself later is what allows you to find a balance. No one is capable of living at 100% all of the time and setting manageable expectations for yourself is a part of self love and acceptance. I am not suggesting that you don push yourself or to not set the bar high, I am simply suggesting that perhaps the idea of complete and total perfection is an unfair goal for anyone to set for themselves and in it can be these unrealistic expectations that hold us all back from achieving our goals.

Having said this I must admit that I do not have this balancing act down by any stretch of the imagination. I like most am probably the most critical when it comes to talking to myself or analyzing my own actions, but I do strongly believe that every once in a while we all need reminders that we aren’t perfect and that’s okay, and it is these reminders that will one day help us to find that sweet spot, to find our own balance.

The other thing that had me so intrigued by these five words was that they can be applied to so much more than food choices. They can be applied to workouts, sleeping, shopping, or any other aspect of our lives. When on a journey to find health, happiness and balance in our lives it is always important to take a second to stop and reflect, without judgement, on where you are, where you came from, and where you would like to be. By taking the time to objectively evaluate where you are and how you feel you allow yourself to be more present and involved in your journey.

How do you keep yourself balanced? Are there any words or phrases you use to help yourself make healthier choices?

Who’s that in the Mirror?

I started writing this post prior to going to my training session last night.  The session was not only a workout but it was also a weigh-in day for me.  I figured it was a good time to address how I have been feeling about my body changing and the types of things that have been going through my head, mainly because I was on a bit of a high and pretty certain that my body would be providing me with some positive feedback in terms of measurements and body fat percentage.   Honestly I was extremely excited to see my results because I was so sure I was going to exceed the progress I had seen the month before.

Well, unfortunately that wasn’t so much the case. I gained a bit of weight (most likely from muscle so I am not really down on that) and only lost 1 single inch. As bummed out as I am about all of this I do understanding that I am definitely toning up and I am seeing positive results like my clothing fitting much better looser but for some reason seeing such a small amount of numerical progress felt like a punch in the gut.
weighinI attempted to keep a happy face on, because I am honestly very proud of what I have achieved to date and grateful for the person I am and the body I have, but I guess my disappointment was more apparent than I had hoped it would be so Alannah and I ended up having a long chat.  We spoke about my reaction to the information (not so great folks) and what we could both to move forward and progress the next time. There is no point dwelling right?

After mapping out my priorities, responsibilities, time restrictions and goals I slowly came around to the realization that not every month is going to be a life changing weigh-in month. Although the weigh-in didn’t go as I had hoped and planned I still feel like this post I had started was relevant, and that it is still good to highlight positives even if I am having a hard time believing them right now. It is definitely worth giving myself credit for the work that I have done and talking about getting used to my new body.

As my body has started to change I have noticed a few things, mainly how attached I seem to be to my looser clothing. Almost, like I am keeping them because I am under the assumption that I will lapse back to my starting weight and they fit properly again.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am excited and happy for all the changes I have been seeing but there seems to be some sort of unconscious hesitation to accept them.  Seeing my before and during photos a couple weeks ago actually helped with the acceptance and acknowledgement of my body’s transformation.   I mean I know my body has changed, I know I am toning up I can see it, but I think it is one of those when you see something every day you don’t notice all the changes out there type of deal, so it wasn’t until I saw the pictures back to back that I realized just how much progress I have made to date.

I am at this stage now where I am excited and nervous at the same time. It is this sort of adjustment period where I am relearning how to navigate clothing shopping (seriously how do you find out what your pant size is?!) and the struggling with the fear worry that without constant vigilance I will end up back where I started (which has been my experience in the past). It is this period of adjustment and of becoming comfortable where I am and learning how to accept things as they are for right now which I am finding almost as hard as finding the initial motivation to get started.  Is that weird? I am not sure.

So I have started to think that perhaps it is a good thing that there weren’t massive leaps and bounds for the weigh-in this month because it will give me some time to get used to all the changes that have occurred and to be grateful and proud of the successes that I have achieved.  Also maybe it will give me the time I need to find out what my pant size is now and buy a pair that fit properly.  So I guess I have some homework to work on for the next month or so.

Happy Thursday! 

Have any of you ever encountered the same feeling of getting “used” to your new body? Or actually realizing all of the transformations that have taken place?  

P.S. Just a little aside, I have not forgotten about providing everyone with an arm update.  I just actually have to take the pictures, so instead of a month it will be two, but that just means my build and my strength phase will have been included, and I think it will provide a pretty decent visual of how us ladies don’t bulk up like men. So that is to come in the next couple of days/weeks.

Part Two: When I Started to Wake-Up

With the New Year around the corner and New Year’s resolutions coming out of the wood work, I figured that sharing this part of my journey might be well timed.
The first part of my journey was about realizing that I was “sleeping” my way through life. Instead of being a part of the change I wanted to sit back and have positive change happen for me, whether it was for my physical appearance or my self-esteem, but one way or another I had decided that I shouldn’t have to do anything in order to achieve it.

I eventually began realizing that in order to promote change I had to be a part of the change. The only thing was I had no idea how I would get there, what there would look like, or even have any semblance of what being in that ballpark would be like. I knew it had to be something for myself, something that I was leading but that is where my knowledge and understanding of what needed to happen ended.

The summer before my third year of university I decided that I was going to do something, I was going to try something out and I hoped to god it would work. I had always had very bad eczema on my hands arms and scalp (I know probably more information that you wanted or needed) so while doing some internet based research for a cleanse I discovered that I most likely had something called candida yeast that was making my eczema act up. So I looked into a couple different cleanse for this particular aliment and I gave it a go. Coupled with testing out this new cleanse I also decided that I would buy myself some rollerblade and start moving.

With rollerblades strapped to my feet and a new plan for eating I got started. The rollerblading was great, I actually really enjoyed it after several harsh realizations as to what my fitness levels actually were, but the “cleanse” on the other hand was disastrous. It was so restrictive, I had no support system and my knowledge of cooking was limited and this all amounted to a quick death of my attempted cleanse.

After failing to even make it half-way through my cleanse I had given up all hope. I figured eating healthy was a lost cause for me, I mean I couldn’t even last a month without dairy and wheat how could I possibly figure out how to make healthy food choices for the rest of my life. So instead of focusing on food I put everything I had into rollerblading to and from work, it was a bit over a 6 km route there and back and I figured that at least I was moving. The first time out wasn’t the greatest but eventually my stubbornness paid off. The rollerblading started becoming enjoyable; it woke me up in the morning and relaxed me after a day in the office on the way home. There were of course still times where I contemplate taking a Taxi home instead of rollerblading, but for the most part I had become committed. Over time my confidence started increasing, and I started to notice that I felt different about myself. I hadn’t lost much weight and my eating was still pretty awful but I realized I was actually starting to like myself. I began to notice that I was starting to take pride in something and it was all because I had finally put the effort in.

Of course with the end of the summer also came the end of my rollerblading, and the cycle of bad eating not exercising and self loathing started up all over again. During this period of time I started to attempt to cleanse again, this time making it through the month losing 15lbs and feeling great, only to go back to my old lifestyle gain 20lbs and starting to be disappointed in myself all over again. This on again off again cleansing/dieting and exercise cycle continued for years, until I decided that I was done. My eczema was out of control, I was experiencing so many food intolerances it was hard to keep them all straight, and I was back in the same funk I had been in previous years. It was at this point I felt like there was nothing else I could do, I had tried so many thing on my own and my knowledge of what was good vs. bad for me was, well let’s say, skewed at this point. This is when I decide to get some help, in the form of a Naturopathic Doctor.

I know this isn’t the route for everyone, but it is the one that really helped me to open my eyes. I had someone to help me through a natural body detoxification, to test me for different food intolerances and other ailments, and I had someone there coaching me and listening to my griping about not being able to have this and that. It was a three month long process, and it was during this time that I fell in love with Yoga, myself and most surprisingly of all what I used to think of as “hard work”.

We have all experienced life’s ups and downs, but it wasn’t until this point in my life, with the love and support of my boyfriend (now husband), great friends, my family, and some professionals that my eyes started to open up to what else was out there. Realizing that there is so much more than just self-criticism and judgment have helped me move into the next phase of my life and I hope sharing this part of my journey can help anyone out there move into the next happier phase of their own journey.

Stay tuned, in a couple of weeks I will post my final part of this miniseries on my personal journey.

Happy Thursday Everyone! Hope you are all cozy and warm somewhere.