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~

 

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Really. I want to see some snow!! Last year for Christmas my husband and son received snowshoes from Santa (thoughtful guy) and our girls received skates from their Grandfather. But…it never snowed, and it was barely cold long enough for pond in the forest near us to freeze so that the kids could skate on it. I am really hoping to “borrow” one of the pairs of snowshoes this year and get out on the trails in our neighbourhood. The last time I went snowshoeing was about four years ago at Crawford Lake. It was with a friend and my son and we had a great time. Have you thought about what winter sports you may like to try? Renting equipment and taking a lesson is a great way to test the waters to see if a sport is something you would really enjoy without having to make the investment. It’s also a way to have fun, change things up and have the kids join in.

One of my fondest memories of childhood is skating at our neighbours home. They always had a backyard rink. It’s where I learned to skate pushing by around a chair. Toes numb – it didn’t matter how thick your socks were – with wet wool mitts, trying to get coordinated enough to minimize the amount of times I ended up on my behind. They always had a collection of skates in their back porch for any friends to borrow (they had eight kids, so there were lots of friends) who popped by and didn’t have their own. There would be Disney songs on the record player (just dated myself!) playing over the backyard speakers as we circled ’round and ’round the birch tree. It was absolutely exhilarating.

I still love being out in the snow. I much prefer running in the winter (minus the ice) to running in the summer. It’s surprising that as a kid I didn’t participate more in winter sports. Perhaps it’s because my parents didn’t, or perhaps I whined about the cold toes and wet mitts and that was interpreted as not liking the cold, I’m not sure. I know that I want to give my kids those happy memories and opportunities to try new things whenever we can. Skating is something I haven’t done since I was a kid. This year we’ll see if I can lace up the skates and take a whirl around with our kids. Here’s hoping for a cold enough winter for a backyard rink 🙂

A few winter fun ideas:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Ice Skating
  • Sledding
  • Tubing
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Catch snowflakes on your tongue
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Hockey
  • Snowboarding
  • Shovelling – It can be fun
  • Building an igloo, or a quinzee (which is a little easier, and can be part of the snow shovelling!)
  • Building a fort
  • Snowball fights
  • Building a snowman
  • Going for a walk in the evening after a fresh snow – truly one of my favourite things to do and it’s been to long since I’ve done it. I love the quiet, the smell of fresh snow. Growing up in a large city where you rarely saw stars I swear they were brighter on evenings like these.
  • Making snow angels – it’s not just for kids!
  • String some Christmas lights up in the backyard and enjoy an evening outside.
  • Search neighbouring towns and cities for free winter events like Winterlude in Ottawa. If we lived closer it would be an annual event for our family.
  • Find a neighbourhood with lots of Christmas lights, park the car and enjoy them you walk through the neighbourhood.

Get out there – have fun – be silly – hold the hands of someone you love, it will keep you warm – fall down and laugh about it – make memories to keep you warm for many winters to come.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life;

not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

Khalil Gibran

 

 

 

Someone to Lean On

It’s taken me a while to realize how much easier this journey is when you have company. When you can find someone that you can turn to and not have to worry about feeling judged. Someone to encourage you and keep you moving forward. It may be a spouse, a friend or a trainer. It may be someone you get to see everyday, or it may be that best friend who lives across the country but knows you so well and can keep you accountable. Who inspires you? It may even be someone in an on-line training forum or group that you have connected with and you can talk to, and share ideas and goals with.

There are some great websites that help connect people with similar interests to set fitness challenges for themselves. SparkPeople is a great free website as is Daily Mile.

When I started on my own “Wellness Journey” in January 2011, it was as part of a class called exactly that through a scrapbooking website called Big Picture Classes. It was an 8 week program that was led by a woman named Lisa Cohen and it really clicked for me. It was a great opportunity to learn, as Lisa was a phenomenal instructor, and it provided the base for what has ultimately become a life changing journey for me.

However, I found it challenging after the class ended. With daily check-ins and the opportunity to connect with like-minded people around the world that class had become my accountablity as I began the process of re-focusing on what I needed to do and the changes I needed to make in my life. While I kept up with the fitness end, I hadn’t committed wholeheartedly to the nutrition changes I needed to make. So, when I was sidelined by an injury, things held out for awhile, but once they started unravelling it went downhill fast. With both positive and negative changes I find that momentum has a way of taking over. I had like minded fitness oriented people at my former job which helped keep me motivated, though I wasn’t at the time able to commit as fully as I needed to. And then, the moment came for me to re-commit. To be ready to really make the changes I needed to. That moment was the start of the momentum that has picked up pace and continued to this day. I’ve hit a few bumps along the way but having my trainer and friend Anita to lean on and push me through has been a great experience and I wouldn’t change it.

I have a great support group. Anita, my husband, my kids, moms at school, co-bootcampers, co-workers. All giving encouragement in different ways. It’s amazing how many friends I’ve made as part of this. Who is your “Someone”? Who motivates you to push harder, to make grander goals and believes in you no matter what? Who do YOU motivate?

“Surround yourself with those who inspire you and soon you’ll be inspiring others”

Stacking the odds

Welcome to Monday! How did your weekend fare? Did you make conscious and intentional choices? How is your healthy choice working for you so far? 

Three weeks from today is Christmas Eve. Have you started thinking of what kind of dishes you will be serving or eating? Over the next two weeks we will start introducing some great recipes. Some will be options to substitute common favourites and some may become new favourites all on their own! But for now, let’s discuss….the delicious (and dreaded) buffet and pot luck. 

The beauty of a pot luck is there will always be something you like…because you will bring it. Jump in early and offer to bring the veggie or fruit tray, don’t get stuck with buns and butter! Even better, if you are hosting, YOU are in control! Create a menu early on with healthy but easy suggestions. You know your guests. For those who are receptive, offer the veggie or fruit tray. For those willing to put in a bit more work here are is a “pot luck” friendly, though not necessarily “Christmas” type recipe. It’s a great chili that I’ve done in the slow cooker (try topping it with avocado, trust me!). There will probably be those items that should be avoided. It’s almost a guarantee. You will have to decide, what is worth eating. So lets discuss a few tips. 

When at a buffet or pot luck remember you do have choices. Those choices can start before you even get to the party. 

  • Don’t arrive hungry! Whenever possible or practical, eat before hand. If you arrive starving you are setting yourself up for a challenge in avoiding bad choices. 
  • If the plan is to eat at a buffet restaurant, or it will be a sit down pot luck at a friends house, puruse the choices before hand whenever possible. A restaurant will possibly give you more options, plus the knowledge of the wait staff to quiz about questionable ingredients. It’s hard to ask someone how they have made something and then not eat it, without offending them! 
  • Eat what you recognize…wait…eat what you recognize as being as close to it’s natural state as possible. Veggies should be raw or steamed, avoid sauces. Chicken and fish should be broiled or steamed. Roast beef can be a good choice minus the gravy and trim away visible fat. 
  • When the odds are stacked against you – stack your plate! The more veggies on your plate, the less room for unmentionables. Remember though to try and get all your carbs from vegetables and fruit, whole grains if they are available, skip the rice pilaf and mashed potatoes, and include a protein and healthy fat (avocado, nuts, olive oil and even olives) to round out the meal.
  • Ditch the booze! Tomorrow we have an easy punch recipe you can mix up that isn’t as heavy as most on sugary pop and juices but will let you feel like you are part of the celebrations. When in doubt – drink water! It’s never a bad choice. If you need an easy out, offer to be the designated driver. You will be performing a great service and saving yourself the the need to explain why you are choosing to abstain.
  • Enjoy yourself! Try not to stress to the point that you lose focus on why you are there. To connect with friends and family and enjoy each others company.

“Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind,but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point.”– Harold B. Melchart