Hope You Feel the Love Today

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A Year in Retrospective

 So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains And we never even know we have the key.

~ lyrics from Already Gone, by the Eagles ~

Today was a bitter-sweet day for me. It was my last day at work at a position I have been in for the last year. Last year I left a full-time, permanent job to take this position. The job is in the same field but this was filling a maternity leave spot so it would only be for one year. The difference would be the 50+ hours I spent commuting every month. I left the job that was 100 kms from home to be 4 kms down the road. And even though I’m now unemployed, I don’t regret it.

It’s scary making big changes, changes where you don’t always know what the outcome will be. Changes that will inevitably have a resounding effect on you, your lifestyle and perhaps your family. When I was considering leaving my old job we ultimately had to take money out of the equation (and we are still feeling that) and look at the bigger picture. We were juggling two shift working parents, 4 children, 1 who needed full-time childcare, another who needed part-time childcare, plus all the sports and recreational events that come along with the joys of family. Throw in the 50+ hours of commuting and it was inevitable something was going to give. One year later, stepping back it is amazing to look at just how close to the edge our family was to collapse. It’s amazing what a year can do for the soul.

In the last year:

  • I have lost 60lbs
  • I have run a half marathon (amazing what you can do when you don’t drive for 50 hours a month)
  • I have made wonderful new friends at my, as of today, “old” job
  • I have contributed to increasing the stability in my family
  • I have more peace within myself
  • Amazingly, this new job helped increase my confidence in my abilities and skills in a line of work that I have been doing for almost 14 years!
  • I started studying to become a Holistic Nutritionist
  • I received my certification as a Nutrition and Wellness Specialist
  • I found a new sense of community in the group of people I work out with
  • I started blogging!

Don’t get me wrong. We took a big risk. One that wouldn’t be for everyone. I am now in limbo as I search for another job. Do I stay in the same field I have been in? Do I consider commuting again (it’s almost inevitable as the town where I live does not have a lot of opportunities in my field). Can I find work that will allow me to continue or even complement my nutrition studies?

With all of those concerns, the big thing is knowing that we are now aware of how close we came as a family to falling apart. How close I came to falling apart, both emotionally and physically. It’s amazing what the body can do, but even it can only take so much. So when I am considering new work, I know that this time I will be aware of what to look for as warning signs.

Often it takes stepping back from a situation to see the whole picture. When we are immersed in “it” we can be just surviving. I was often told in my previous job “I don’t know how you do it!”, to which I often replied, “you just do what you have to do”. But that’s not entirely true. I look back now, and I don’t know how I did it!! I was existing but not living.  So that is my goal now. To make sure that I don’t fall into that routine again. That life isn’t just about existing, that it is about being the fullest, most alive, most complete, best version of yourself possible.

Here’s to a fantastic year of growth under my belt, and a fantastic year of challenges (they aren’t all bad!) ahead.

Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.
~Pamela Vaull Starr~

 

One Simple Thing for February

Have you started thinking about the one change you will be making in February to add to what you have been doing in January? Did you forget about your one simple change from January? February is around the corner, so why don’t you take some time to sit down and think about one change that you can implement to increase your happiness and mindfulness. The goal can be fitness, nutrition or personal growth based. Pick something to add or remove that will be a bit of a challenge, the best part about starting a month with a goal and reaching the end of that month is the accomplishment, and then of course, there is the added health benefit! Here’s the link that started the plan this year. I’ll be continuing with my stretching and I have to admit I have let a few days lapse with my food journalling so I think that is what I am going to focus on this coming month.

So here we go:

  • 2013: Run 1 km per day and stretch
  • January: Pay attention to my sleeping needs. On nights, go to bed during the day (I feel guilty missing the kids, even though I can be a grump – go figure), and on days off and day shifts, get to bed earlier. **I have been doing okay with this, but it definitely needs more work. For me this is an ongoing challenge, so I’ll keep working on it.
  • February: Time Management! Journal what I eat, and create a workout schedule for the month.

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few ideas, from simple to challenging…and don’t forget what might be simple to you may be challenging to someone else and vice versa. Think about what you will benefit from the most.

  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day
  • Walk the kids to school every day (this can focus on a lot of different areas, time management, family time, fitness)
  • Commit to 30 mins of continuous exercise every day
  • Take a special interest class (think painting, writing workshop, Zumba, tai chi)
  • Meditate
  • Start a yoga practice
  • Borrow a new exercise video from the library every week – and do it!
  • Plan a family game night, every week
  • Add a new healthy recipe to your meal plan, every week
  • Eat veggies with every meal (even breakfast!!)

I’d love to hear what your plan is…

The kids are catching it!

“The kids are catching it!” That’s what my 6 yr old said after watching the  intro to the 2nd week of the Biggest Loser. She wasn’t judging, she was concerned and worried for them! She was baffled by the overweight kids. And so am I. How have we gotten to where we think it’s okay to do this to our children. Yes, there are medical conditions that cause some children to be overweight, but children that are overweight as a result of a medical condition are few and far between. Kids that are developing medical conditions DUE to BEING EXCESSIVELY OVERWEIGHT are on the rise, and that is terrifying!!

I may upset a lot of people with this post, but what are we doing to our children?!? It is hard to say no, I get that. There are days that I don’t say no, and I don’t make the healthiest choices on behalf of my kids. But that is the reality. I am the one who is making the choices for my kids. If my children are overweight – I am the cause. There is no other excuse. I buy the food, I make the meals, I pack the lunches, I can’t say no.

But there is a flip side…I can also be the cure. How? Well…I buy the food, I make the meals, I pack the lunches, and I can say no.

I was an overweight child. I was (more than I am now) an overweight adult. I struggled in so many aspects of my life because of my weight and even before I started on my own journey I knew that I never wanted that for my kids. Why would I trap my children in a body that worked against them? A body that prevented them from feeling freedom as they played? A body that held them back from being kids, from running, from having the confidence to try out for a new sport, for any sport? Why would I put them in a body that had the rest of society judging them? My heart was broken daily and I couldn’t do that to my children.

Have my kids had McDonald’s, Wendy’s, grilled cheeses, chicken nuggets, Kraft Dinner, pizza, pop and chips…YEP! But they have also had pomello, dragon fruit, spaghetti squash, broccoli, seaweed, salmon and avocados. Which menu would they prefer (with the exception of my freakish 6 yr old) probably the first, but I know (because I am the adult) that this would be wrong. Easier, faster (not cheaper!) yes, but wrong.

We form the habits and set the tone for our children for the majority of their lives. We try not to focus on weight in our house. We try to focus on strength, health and fitness. Food is fuel for our bodies and yes there are days that we don’t have the healthiest food choices, but those are the rarity vs. the exception. And it’s been a shift over time. Our oldest ate far more junk then our youngest has. In fact our youngest went to McD’s for the first time this summer. Our oldest could have probably found his way there on his own when he was the same age. I am so far from perfect and would never want to be misunderstood as preaching that I am. I just want you to think about what your children may be going through.

So – what are some baby steps we can take? Here are 3 ideas to get your family started on working towards healthier choices. It is a transition and if you try to do everything at once, you will likely fail and at the very least face a lot of rebellion (I get a lot of that in our house!).

  1. Ditch pop, juice, sports drinks. Stick to water and milk. Almond and soy milks are other options. If you must in your kids lunches, pack a juice box, make sure it is 100% juice. Not juice “drink” or “cocktail”. Oasis brand is generall a good choice. And keep it for the lunch boxes only.
  2. Ditch the “white”. Whole grain bread and wraps. I find with kids the wraps are an easier transition. Make french toast with the whole grain bread, what they can’t see won’t hurt them! Change over the pasta to whole grain as well, try this gradually, change out 1/4 of the white pasta for whole grain. Do this a few times, then up it to 50/50 and continue on like that.
  3. Make a veggie and fruit tray for dinner. Kids generally like veggies raw. Have the kids pick one type of veggie and one type of fruit with each meal. If you have the patience bring your kids to the grocery store (I know, this may be harder that kicking the pop habit!) and let them pick out a fruit and veggie, you can always research how to cook or eat an unknown item on google! You may be surprised how adventurous they will be.

Change can be scary and intimidating, but it can also be exhilarating! There is nothing more rewarding (and heartbreaking) then watching your children as they grow and gain their independence. We have such a short time in their lives, but it is such an influential and formative time. Let’s make it the best we can!

Wise words from a perceptive 9 year old

Today I was having some challenges in focusing my thoughts into a post, one of the “side effects” of being on nights. I had lots of ideas, but I wasn’t sure which route to pursue. I was commenting on this to my kids as I was getting them dinner, at the same time I was also commenting on how hard it was to resist the box of fancy cookies that was sitting on the counter. My 9yr old then piped up, “why don’t you talk about how the longer you stay away from bad food, the easier it is to not enjoy it or want it anymore”. They’re getting smarter, younger these days I am sure.

And of course, she’s right! I know this from the past, but it was the perfect reminder for me, especially today. I am on my 3rd day of eliminating sugar from my meal plan, combine that with night shifts and a walk down the “Valentine aisle” at the store today and the cravings have been particularly challenging. It was a nice, gentle reminder, that I can get through the cravings.

My kids have experienced this in their own ways as well, which is why I think she thought to mention it. A few months ago we decided to eliminate cold cuts from their meals (adding an additional challenge to the lunch bag dilemmas, but worth the health benefits). At the beginning of December, after a particularly challenging weekend, and lots of whining I caved and bought some for school lunches, I just didn’t want to have to continue the grumpies and food fights into the school week. It was the same kind we had always had, and guess what, the lunches came home from school with only a bite out of them. Tried again a few days later, and the same results (so much for eliminating the lunch time wars!). When questioned all three advised that they didn’t really like it anymore. A win of sorts. I’m still hoping for the same result with cereals, but no such luck yet!

Of course this will be easier with some foods than others. Many people who have eliminated fast food meals from their diets for several months and then returned to try to enjoy a burger and fries have reported feeling ill afterwards. This being unusual as they had never felt that way when they had eaten the same meals on a weekly (or more frequent) basis. A great example of this, though in a reverse order is Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” documentary. If you haven’t seen it, it really is quite interesting. Chocolate seems to be a weakness for me. I can get to the point where I can resist the cravings, but if I have some, the cravings will come back full force. It’s just easier to not tempt fate, and the craving monster.

Are you fighting any changes in your body? Is there something you decided to eliminate on the 1st that is haunting you now? These next few days will be particularly challenging. Let’s hang in there! Before you know it, we’ll have a week, then 10 days, then 30 under out belts! And if you stumbled a little, that’s alright, start again, starting now!

turn can'ts into cans

A life lesson in writing it down!

I learned a hard lesson today. Well, re-learned in truth. I really do need to put my cell phone on a higher shelf!

One of my favourite apps is Endomondo. I used it exclusively when I was training for my half-marathon. I love it and I haven’t upgraded it because I don’t like the newer format and I haven’t had any problems with the old one. In fact, I have even delayed upgrading the software for my phone because I was worried it wouldn’t be compatible with the old app. Well, today I picked up my phone, and it was sticky. Which meant someone had gotten a hold of it while it was charging. Not unusual, I really should put it on a higher shelf. That being said, when I went to check my texts I realized, nay, swayed in horror at the realization that someone had managed to erase all of my app’s…including…Endomondo. Now, I never logged on with an email or other social media, I always choose “remind me later” and I never copied my details into a notebook, which is funny because I have far too many notebooks and datebooks with a variety of information about my fitness training lying around.  I could care less about the other app’s that were on my phone, but Endomondo was like a friend. It had been there to track each stage of my half-marathon training, which had been a huge personal accomplishment for me. It had tracked each new milestone and prior to beginning my training the furthest I had run was 8 kms, so there were a lot of milestones in there!! But, I’m trying to embrace a zen like being and realize, just because the history is gone, doesn’t change the training and effort that I put into it. It doesn’t change what I accomplished.

That being said, sometimes, old-school pen and paper is the way to go. I guess the fact that I have created a journal this year specifically for recording my fitness achievements is a good thing and guess where my running will be sure to be entered?! Ah well, it’s a fresh start, it’s a New Year (almost), and I can start with a fresh slate. Maybe it’s good not to have the history staring me down. But argghhh here’s hoping the newest upgrade isn’t as bad as I’ve feared!!

Are there apps that you count on as part of your training? Do you track your accomplishments in a journal or are you able to monitor your changes and accomplishments without any tracking at all? How do you best “enjoy the process”?

Christmas Wishes

We want to take this opportunity to wish all of you and your families a healthy, peaceful, memorable, loving Christmas. May 2013 bring you a year filled with positive change, positive choices, a wealth of happiness and more love than you can imagine.

A very, very Merry Christmas to you all,

xoxo Anita and Suzanne xoxo