Binge

I am a binge-er.

I binge on most everything you can think of (except, maybe that…I’m too busy bingeing on dreams of sleep to that to a binge-level).

I binge-watch TV. Netflix? It was made for me. I used to binge-watch Gilmore Girls and Grey’s Anatomy and Friends because I had those series on DVD…but NOW?! Now I can binge-watch EVERYTHING. Whole seasons, whole series one show after another after another after another after another – there is NO END to how much I can binge, and all without changing a single disc or getting off the couch. DREAMY.

Truth.

Truth.

I binge-read. Books, blogs, gossip, magazines – I devour the written word. Some of it is escapism, which our dad would get SO mad about when I was younger, and some of it is pure curiosity (hello, how does Brangelina do it??). But most of it is an unadulterated love and comfort with the written word. Bad day? Read. Bad week? Read. Scary thoughts? Read. Lists won’t shut up in my head? Read. Want to be awed and transported and thrilled and moved? READ. And I can read a whole book in one sitting. When I was growing up, our mom would buy me books specifically for vacations at the cottage, telling me not to read any of them until we got there. I’d always have them read before we even got in the van to make the drive. I limit how much I read now, because an adult stuck in a book all day and all night long does not a good parent make.

I also binge-surf, which can lead to trouble with watching children. There have been times I’ve been scrolling through a Pinterest rabbit hole and realized someone has been calling my name for a minute or so. Tricky. Luckily, I hear screaming through all of the project- and recipe-wishing.

But the biggest binge that causes the most problems for me, is binge-eating.

I am the queen of drowning my sorrows, my boredom, my anger, my anything-feeling in food. And more food. And more food.

GET IN MY BELLY.

GET IN MY BELLY.

I can eat 2 1/2 pounds of chicken wings in one sitting…after eating a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of Oreos…after a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of M&M’s…you know, the bowl/party size…in one go. I can totally eat a whole loaf of freshly baked bread, or most of a batch of cookies, or a bag of chips, or 4 chocolate bars (Snickers, Wunderbar, KitKat and Coffee Crisp), without breaking a sweat.

Do I feel like crap afterwards? Absolutely. Am I consumed with guilt and shame when all the food is gone and my belly aches and my head hurts and I know (I KNOW) I’m going to have a sugar/food hangover the next day? Yes. But does that stop me in the moment? When I’m hurting or unhappy or ridiculously craving crap after eating well all day? Nope. Not one bit.

Because I feel like there is something missing inside of me. I feel like there’s an empty cavern, aching to be filled, and so I do. I fill it. With all the food.

Of course, this is why I am chubby. This is why I am overweight. This is why my butt has more jiggle, and not in a Kardashian way, but in a dear-god-think-of-the-chairs kind of way. And it’s the reason that I feel like crap more often than not.

I had it under control after my miscarriage and after Isaac was born – exercise and healthy eating and sleeping and hobbies filled my time and space between parenting and housewife-ing. Not only was there no time or energy for binge-eating, but I filled up that empty hole in my face and brain with endorphins, friendship, and fulfilling activity. I lost 30 pounds. I was fit. I felt fantastic. And I wasn’t tempted as often and when I was, I wasn’t sucked into eating all the food all the time.

But this May I ran a half-marathon…and it was really hard and it took a long time to recover from it mentally and physically. I took a break from running and exercising for about a month…just in time for me to severely roll my ankle…twice…and lead me to be unable to put any weight on it for weeks. Which lead to more laying around, hating life, and wishing I were anywhere but on my couch.

So the hole in me grew…and grew…and the monster inside that wants all the chocolate and crap food started screaming again, demanding to be fed, demanding to be noticed and heeded. To answer the cries, I did what any smart person would do. I caved. I gave in. I fed it all the food in the world.

Now, my pants are tight. And my back has more rolls. And my arms feel flabbier. And the hard as rock calf muscles in my legs have been replaced by marshmallows…literally.

I sank. I’m sinking. I’m drowning in the itch for the binge, for the feeling of being so full I can’t move and something else hurts instead of the hurting that started it all.

I refuse, though, to go down without a fight. Refuse to let the monster and hole consume me. I don’t want to be that person again. I don’t. I want to be strong, and fit, and enjoy food, not look at it like a means to an end. I want treats to be treats and not the regular nighttime ritual. I want sugar and chocolate to be the exception, not the rule. And I want to stop feeling like all the food in the world must be eaten.

So, I’ve started doing things a little differently.

I’ve stopped buying crap. No more chocolate-bar or chip or junk-food runs after the kids are in bed. What we have in the house is what we have in the house, and since I don’t buy all the bad stuff during our regular grocery shop, there is no more crap here.

I’ve replaced eating with drinking…green tea. At night, when the craving to consume the world comes over me, when my stomach is desperately trying to convince my brain that I’m STARVING even though I just ate a good meal, I turn to drinking a cup of tea. Not only is it good for me and calorie-free, but it gets me all warm and sleepy, perfect for going to bed (unlike the sugar and caffeine rush from chocolate and crap I’d get from binge-eating).

And the big one? I’ve started MOVING again. I’m walking in the mornings. I HATE how I feel while I’m doing it – I ran over 21 km, people! A walk shouldn’t kill me. But, I don’t make the twice-daily trek to school anymore (which racks up about 4 km while pushing 25-55 pounds in a stroller), and I don’t go running anymore, so, I’m walking in the morning, with the goal of running again in September (giving my ankle plenty of time to really heal before I start pushing it). I’m resentful of how far I’ve fallen, but I know that getting it back little by little is the only solution.

Now, I need to know – do you binge? Or do you have magical self-control? And if you do binge, what are your tips and tricks for keeping your head above the water? Because I know at some point, I’m going to want to put all of the things in my mouth again…and it will be SO hard to say no.

~ Julia

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I implore you

I am a bit of a fitness/overall health nut…most days.

I too, like everyone else, am human and have days where the rules or guidelines I happily adhere to normally, go out the window. Whether it is work, my social circle, my fur babies, my man, my real(ish) babies or my super busy family, I am a pretty on the go person. Sometimes this means slipping up due to lack of carved out time to prepare what’s required.

I really do have a hard time sitting still though, so as a coping mechanism, it is my own damn fault that I am so busy. I try to have something planned for my day the night before – even if that is a ‘me day’ where I barely do anything with anyone else and soak up my own time with a hike or some other adventure.

Everyone knows deep down that staying active and eating nutrition-filled foods, in well balanced portions, is one of the hardest yet most rewarding ways of staying healthy. And when you start doing it consistently it becomes second nature and your body actually rejects the crappy, processed stuff and sitting still for too long and you suffer side effects like headaches and tummy troubles when you do indulge.

If you’ve ever been turned-on about something, I hope you understand that I speak from a place of passion and genuine love for this lifestyle I’ve pursued. I just want others to realize what I have come to understand about the body’s natural capabilities – no matter how limited that still may be for me in comparison to what is truly possible. Like I said, I suffer off days and harder days and days where the fastest thing is the first thing I eat because I am stressed, or have gone too long without eating, or have an insatiable craving that I just need to itch…the point is I am human too and far, far, far from perfect. So, so far.

I have a few favourite motivators for why I work out and am conscious about what I ingest – maybe they’ll kick your butt into gear, or maybe they’ll remind you why you get up and do what you do every day to stay healthy and motivated to workout/stay active. Either way, the intent is to inspire just one person to make a small change for the better and I will be the happiest girl in the entire world if that is accomplished.

1. It kinda kicks butt to be able to kick butt: I really do get a giddy high when I accomplish something regarding my health. It could be getting a handle on wheel, crow or a headstand in yoga, or running the side hills of McLennan Park in Kitchener at a faster pace each time.

Had writers block while writing this blog...so this happened for a change in perspective

Had writers block while writing this blog…so this happened for a change in perspective

Running a half-marathon or hiking steeper hills without struggle. Or, it could be the realization that I can mentally control certain parts of my brain when pushing myself through a challenging kilometer or workout set – this ability filters into everyday situations too. I feel more confident in my body’s physical abilities now more than I ever have in my life – and I can’t even imagine how that will feel when I’m 40, 50 and beyond. I love the look on Michael’s face when I clamp my legs around him on the couch a-la-monkey cling and he winces because I’m strong. Or when he trusts me to load our canoe with him because he knows I won’t drop it awkwardly resulting in injury of person or the vehicle. It really kicks butt to be a fit-chick.

2. Having a shit-ton of energy also kicks butt: Really – being up for anything because I have the energy is a huge plus for me. Needing to explore and create and exert energy physically is part of keeping me sane. Normally this might be hard on top of working 50-60 hours per week while balancing every other responsibility. Lucky for me, the circle of exertion and creation of energy is an amazing natural phenomena. PLUS, energy keeps you HAPPY and that’s good for every one, especially Michael – just ask Elle Woods.

Seriously though, if I am free and not ill and you ask me to go for a run, workout, grab a yoga class, hit up a concert after a long day of work, meet you for a beer, catch sunrise on a Saturday morning, play cards, grab dinner/lunch/breakfast/any food, any time, I am usually down.

That leads me to my next point:

3. FOOD: The majority of people really don’t know how FOOD is supposed to taste. I mean veggies – both raw and cooked, fruit, nuts, legumes, lean meat and seafood (if it’s your flavour – there is a huge movement that part of me wants to explore of vegan-ism…but I’ll save that post for another day), real fresh, filtered spring-fed water. Real, from the earth food. We live in a society that desires convenience over effort and with that comes the easy out – the microwave this, the packaged/prepared that, the greasy processed burger…you get the point. Yum, right? No. Not even close to what your food could and is supposed to taste like. On top of the DELICIOUSNESS of the whole foods, add in the perks of moving your buns and you get my most favourite reason for working out EVER – eating. I love food. Like a lot. Like there are only a handful of things that I enjoy more than eating – none of which are SFW enough to mention here. I eat to nourish my body so I enjoy the simplicity that it’s become, however this also means that I get hungry a lot and get to eat A LOT to fuel me and that’s pretty kick-ass.

4. Gettin’ down: I won’t elaborate as I know some of our readers blush easy (not to mention my mom is an avid reader…hi mom), but the increase in stamina, interest and desire when it comes to intimate things – working out and eating right do incredible things for your sex life! The added confidence when you feel good about your body and have the energy…need I say more? Seriously, try it out and thank me later.

reasons-i-work-out-healthy-living_407537

For me it’s all three, but this is funny

5. Life in your years, years in your life: The two go hand-in-hand perfectly when you are in control of your nutrition and exercise regime. If you add in an all around lifestyle geared to being health-conscious, the chances you’ll have a better life and longer one, increase tremendously. I truly believe with the right lifestyle, nutrition, meditation/prayer life and diet, an insane amount of the diseases that we are plagued with can be cured. Our lifestyles and diets are killing us – it’s a fact, not just my opinion. Google ‘Lifestyle Disease’ and see the numerous medical publications regarding the study. The more educated you become, the easier the choices become too.

I would not say I am afraid of not being healthy, but I definitely do not take my abilities or my health for granted – I know first hand those things can change at the blink of an eye, and if you don’t take advantage while you can I feel like you might be wasting a bit of your life. It is a definite motivating factor for me and probably an all around driver for the lifestyle changes I am slowly making.

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What are your main motivators for keeping active and eating right? I’m always looking for motivation and my inspiration comes from you too.

I’d like to leave you with this: if you’re considering working on you, stumbling through or are well on your way, I implore you – keep working on you. I promise you won’t regret it.

~ Toni

The perfect storm

I’ve been a parent for 6 years now, so I should have known better than to think that the weekend of my half-marathon, which I had been planning for and training for for months, would go anything but smoothly. The moment you add children into anything that you do, everything is up in the air, a smorgasbord of possibilities, and the one that will land will never be the one you foolishly planned on.

Let’s, of course, back up to the point where the perfect storm of schedule nightmares really began.

My dear Sophie, my sauce-pot of a 6-year old, has never been able to breathe properly through her nose. Ever. If she has a cold, she can’t breathe. If she doesn’t have a cold, she can’t breathe. And when she talks, it sounds like she’s holding her nose. It’s awful. And perpetually boogery. Add in the super attractive snoring and gasping at night, and I figured I should ask our family doctor about it.

The first step was allergy testing, which made complete sense to me. I am allergic to everything with fur, feathers, pollen and dust (yay, me!), and I got my oodles of allergies from my mother’s handful of allergies, so I figured I had given Sophie an infinite number of itchy, sneezy, unhappy genetic gifts. Like the dutiful mother that I am, I took her to the same allergist that did my allergy testing waaaaaay back when I was about Sophie’s age, and discovered that Sophie had ZERO allergies. She was allergic to NOTHING. Which I immediately didn’t believe, because the kid is stuffed up, and itchy if we eat too much dairy, and breaks out into hives if a dog licks her.

The next step on the Sophie’s Nose Exploration was to consult an ENT. The lovely Dr. Zhang listened to Sophie talk for a few moments, asked me questions about Sophie’s sleep habits, her cold history, and agreed that she sounded stuffed up. She said that before she did anything she wanted to send us to a sleep study, since I had mentioned the super awesome jackhammer snoring and the gasping for air.

Have you ever done a sleep study? As an adult? It’s not fun. It’s this insane set-up with a bagillion wires connected to your head, your chest and your legs, and you’re forced to sleep in a bed that’s not yours with the hum of a variety of interesting machines, and then you’re woken up at 5:30 a.m. so you can be out of there by 6 a.m. It’s a couple steps short of torture.

You know what’s WORSE than having a sleep study done to you? Being the parent that gets to sleep beside the KID who’s getting a sleep study. First, you have to hype up this ‘super cool’ sleepover you’re going to. And then you have to get them to agree to sit still while they’re covered with a million wires (I can’t even IMAGINE Lillian having this done…Sophie is so pliable and amenable. Lillian would be like, F%&# YOU!).

My little Frankenstein

My little Frankenstein

And then you get to sleep in the same bed as them while they try to sleep with the crazy wires and noises and unfamiliar bed. And in Sophie’s case, she was sleeping flat, which she never does because of the boogers. She always sleeps propped up on a couple of pillows, but here we tried her lying on just one. Which of course caused her nose to try to kill her and stop her from breathing and she would thrash and cry and try to rip off the wires.

Finally the night end, I’ve not slept more than 1 hour in a row, and Sophie says to me, “That was FUN! Can we sleep here again?!” To which I say, “I hope we never have to do this again.”

At the beginning of April we got the results from our February sleep study, where the nice respirologist (the sleep doctor) explained that Sophie stopped breathing 70 times in a 7-hour period. Then he proceeded to tell me that the average kid stops breathing about once an hour…not 10 times an hour. He said she had moderate to severe sleep apnea, which means it wasn’t emergent, but it wasn’t awesome. It needed to be corrected.

Fast forward a few weeks to the Monday before the half-marathon weekend and Sophie and I were in the ENT’s office again, where she said she needed to stick a camera up Sophie’s nose to see if it was indeed her adenoids or if it was a neurological problem causing her to not breathe properly. Again I can’t imagine doing this with Lillian – first Sophie got a tissue shrinking solution shot up her nostrils, and then she got a camera, attached to a tube the size of really fat spaghetti, shoved up her nose. It was only for a few seconds and Sophie did squirm, but in the end Dr. Zhang got what she needed and declared that Sophie’s adenoids were completely blocking her nasal airway and needed to come out. Then, she was explaining the procedure, the risks, and the fact that with the sleep apnea she would be staying overnight for what is typically a day-sugery so they could monitor her oxygen levels. I found myself listening, nodding, and signing papers for pre-registration, which didn’t seem odd to me until we were at the receptionist’s desk getting an appointment for surgery THAT FRIDAY. As in FOUR days from then. As in TWO days before my half-marathon. As in NOT WEEKS AWAY.

The rest of that day is a blur – I signed Sophie out from school for an extended absence, I notified the parents of the little girl I walk to and from school that we wouldn’t be able to help out the following week, I told the mothers and Ben and anyone else I could think of. I rescheduled Lillian’s deaf school appointments and her speech therapy, and I tried to think of all the things I was probably forgetting, all with the pall of the half-marathon and the 21 km I was scheduled to complete hanging over me. Where I was supposed to be out of town. With an overnight stay. Two days after Sophie’s surgery. I didn’t think I could do both – be a parent at the bedside of my baby AND be a runner completing the longest distance I had ever run. It felt impossible.

Until I talked to Ben that night who said that he felt I should still run the race. That even though he and the kids wouldn’t be there to cheer me on in person, there was no reason why I shouldn’t still go. That unless there was an emergency or some kind of major complication in the surgery, I should go be a runner after I had been the bedside parent.

So I did it.

I hung out with my giant baby, with her long arms and legs, talking her gently through the pre-op process, helping her pick out a new stuffie from the hospital staff, explaining that she would be awake and not asleep for the IV process, telling her she was brave and awesome and that we loved her as she chased bubbles into the operating room, then waiting patiently while she was being put to sleep and cut open, then sitting and waiting patiently in her room while Ben sat with her in recovery (he was to be there when she woke up, I was to sleep overnight with her), then hanging out with a sleepy, sore, incredibly brave Sophie while she asked for a hot dog, her new Fire HD tablet we had got her for her birthday and popsicles, then helping her fall asleep knowing that she would have an accident because she was so worn out and the IV was pumping her full of fluids while she slept, helping her get comfortable and changed after said accident, then helping her eat her hospital breakfast, where the novelty of it outweighed the sad state of it, and finally bringing her home with her Nana to see her family and begin the healing process and week-long vacation from school.

My girl, brave and strong, sleeping after her surgery.

My girl, brave and strong, sleeping after her surgery.

And then, I needed to turn my eyes toward the 21 km prize, because Sophie was a champ and was recovering awesomely. There was nothing for me to stick around and do that Ben could not do on his own. So, I went ahead as planned, with my running buddies Bethany, Andrea, and Toni.

We slept overnight in Mississauga, the city that we were running in, which is about an hour away from our house. This way, we could get up and go to the start line for 7:30 without having to wake up at 3 something and get all of our babies ready and our husbands ready and our cargo ready. We could just wake up, drive 20 minutes, and be there.

The first leg of our race was to get on the shuttle from the parking lot to the starting line. It was cool, but not freezing, meaning it was a good 20 degrees warmer than most of our training runs.

Our fellow runners waiting for the bus

Our fellow runners waiting for the bus. The guy in the ball cap said that it was below zero last year…you know, the last time he ran it.

Andrea looking fresh and excited

Andrea, looking fresh and excited

A pre-running selfie, trying not to freak out too much or feel like the worst mother in the world for abandoning her babies too much.

A pre-running selfie, trying not to freak out too much or feel like the worst mother in the world for abandoning her babies too much.

Bethany doing Toni's hair since it wasn't cooperating. This would be time 1 of 2 that Bethany did her hair.

Bethany doing Toni’s hair since it wasn’t cooperating. This would be time 1 of 2 that Bethany did her hair that morning.

After we got shuttled (and Toni got her hair done again), we caught up with the thousands of other runners who were waiting to complete relays, the half-marathon with us, and the full-marathon like the crazies that they are.

Before the agony of 21 km

Before the agony of 21 km

It was intense standing in the crowd of people, listening to the psych-up music and the announcements from Hurricane Hazel and the organizers of the race. The energy was one of camaraderie (so many runners wished us luck on our first half-marathon, helped us take group pictures, and chatted with us) and endorphins. It was crazy-awesome and, besides the water stations, it was the missing element in our training runs. That energy definitely helped propel us through the race.

Andrea took this picture...if I tried to take an 'in the crowd' picture, it would look like a bunch of t-shirts, no sky and no start-line.

Andrea took this picture…if I tried to take an ‘in the crowd’ picture, it would look like a bunch of t-shirts, no sky and no start-line.

We got to run through some of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Mississauga. Most streets were tree-lined and crazy giant mansion-lined. It was also spectator-lined, with people shouting encouragement, playing music (both live and speakered), and waving super funny signs, like “This is the worst parade EVER” and “I wouldn’t DRIVE 42.2 km on a Sunday!” I was also passed quite efficiently by an older man whose shirt said, “Running Grandpa 80 81 82 83 84 years young”, who was running the full marathon. I caught up with him in the last few kilometers of my half-marathon. He KICKED MY ASS.

The first 16 km were good – I was strong, it was the distance I had run twice before, and I felt fresh and energized. And then I realized that I still had a 5K to run. Another 40 minutes or so. That’s a hard pill to swallow after 16 km. I dug deep and used the awesome volunteers who cheered and the super nice spectators who were yelling support to get me through the next couple of kilometers. Around the 19 km mark, I really started to feel tired. My feet hurt. My legs were lead. I wanted to lie down and sleep. But I was still so far (SO CLOSE) away. There were a lot of walk breaks in those last kilometers, but as I was passed by an elite marathoner with his bicycle entourage, he said, “Good job” as he essentially sprinted past me. I managed to say it back before he disappeared from earshot and it gave me the oomph to get to the end.

No one from my immediate family was there to cheer me on – Ben and the babies were home with Sophie, waiting for me to get back. I was trying not to think about it as I got near the finish line. And then I didn’t have to think about it any more because Toni was there, SCREAMING her head off for me, and my name was announced as I crossed the finish line with the Boston Marathon qualifiers, and then I saw Bethany and then Andrea, and I was almost weeping – with relief and gratitude and empowerment. Finishing that race was SO hard. The week before it was SO hard. The training leading up to it was COLD and hard. And going from someone who never exercised, who quit gym class in grade 10 because it was no longer ‘required,’ to someone who could run 21 km was AWESOME. I would do it again, now that my feet have stopped throbbing and my legs are almost recovered, and I haven’t run in a week. To feel that again? It would be worth it.

All of us medaled at the end.

All of us medaled at the end.

I might even do the full marathon next time. All 42 km of it. I just have to convince my running buddies they’re as crazy as me…

~ Julia

Welcome, new Yogi

I watch you cautiously enter the studio – a place that at first glance can seem so intimidating, I know. You’re not sure what to expect or if you wore the right thing, or if you’ll even be able to make it through the hour you’ve set aside for you. I can see you are nervous, almost timid.

You’re greeted with warm smiles from the volunteers and instructors gathered hospitably around the front desk, waiting to help you sign up for a class, answer your questions, show you where the facilities and different tempered rooms are. These friendly faces put some of your fears to rest, at least for the moment. You can feel the shift of energy in the air as more students flow into the studio.

I  keep observing you from across the airy, open, sunny front room. I see your shoulders relax down your back slightly, ease entering your eyes and recognition of something almost home-like about this place  flashes in them. We catch each other’s gaze and share a small, but sincere smile.

You wander down the hall into the change room, where I am sure you’re talking yourself into class. Not sure what to expect, not sure if you’ll like it, not sure if it’s for you. Scared of the heat, the poses, the unknown.

I know this feeling all too well. I think every new yogi does.

What I want to tell you is that what you will find in the heated yoga studio upstairs is going to surprise you, maybe even scare you a little.

I want to tell you of the life-altering feeling you are about experience, the wash of emotion, the shift in perspective, the gains in confidence, compassion and strength you will feel.

health and happy

I want to burst at you with stories and antidotes of feeling yourself truly shut your brain off for the first time and the exhilarating calm that comes with that freedom.

I want to tell you, that if you just let it, this practice, those poses, this studio, will change your whole life and lift up your soul in ways you didn’t think were possible.

I want to tell you that it will only take a moment for you to fall so deeply in love with your practice and you’ll know exactly when it happens.

I want to tell you that it is okay to let go, especially here, and sometimes that very act might even come out as laughter or tears in class – and that’s okay.

asana

I want to share with you that the people that live, work and love here will become a second family to you, this studio a second home, if you let it, if you welcome it with open arms.

I want to calm your fears with tales of the incredible lives that have been changed by this bit of magic you’ve found, allowed into your life.

I want to warn you that you are about to challenge your ego, but it will be the best thing you ever do for your soul.

I want to tell you that you’re going to find out things about yourself that you didn’t know existed, had forgotten once were, and feel more you than you ever have in that 60, or 75 minutes of pure bliss.

self acceptance

I want to tell you about the calm in your soul that will come when you become more aware and more present, at first in class, and then soon every area of your life.

I want to tell you that you will feel more in control and out of your mind in the most calming way, at the same time, in that room.

I want to tell you that when you adopt the true practice of yoga in areas of your life outside of the studio will be when you will truly understand what you’ve found.

I want to tell you to breathe your way through class and that you’ll soon realize that it’s necessary to breathe through life in the same way.

breathing

 

I want to tell you so many things about what you’ve started by stepping onto your mat for the very first time.

But I don’t.

Instead I share one more silent smile with you as we both enter the room. I watch you find your place on your mat, sprawl out on the floor, fidgeting a bit as you start to relax. As I settle onto my mat myself, I say a little prayer for your practice and mine today, sending a little love, light and energy your way.

I can’t wait for the journey that lies ahead of you, the breakthroughs and breakdowns, the freedom from what is resting on your shoulders. I am so excited for you and your practice to unfold and the blessings it will so abundantly bring.

Welcome, new Yogi.

~ Toni

The long run

Today is the Boston Marathon. It is the oldest marathon and is watched in person by 500,000, run by 30,000, and followed by countless runners, runner-wannabes, and armchair warriors. It’s also the place where horror occurred, killing three people and injuring 264 in 2013.

It is an elite event that you have to qualify for (you can’t just register online and make magic happen). It is on many a-runner’s bucket list. And as my Twitter feed and Facebook timeline fill up with fellow bloggers who are making the trek to actually RUN IN THE RACE, I can’t help but feel nervous for them. A lot nervous for them. My stomach hurts.

And this year, instead of being the runner who can’t even fathom the kind of preparation or stress or effort it requires to train for a marathon, let alone BOSTON, I have a solid understanding of what it takes because I’m DOING IT.

No, not Boston (wouldn’t that be nuts?!). And no, not a marathon (did you know it’s 26.2 miles? That’s 42 kilometers, people!!). But a half-marathon. A full 13.1 miles. A full 21 kilometers. I am going to run one. In two weeks.

Isn’t that nuts?

Yes, yes it is.

It’s an idea that I’ve toyed with in the past. Waaaaaaay back in 2010. I was a new mom to Sophie, I was working, and I remembered, in my foggy-no-sleep-mom-brain that I had loved running once upon a time ago. So I challenged Ben (because I’m crazy that way) to a marathon! Let’s run a marathon TOGETHER. We made up a training schedule and we got excited. Sitting in our house. And then we got worried because the number of weeks from now until the marathon we picked weren’t so many…and the number of times we had run in the past weeks were none. And those two things together made us re-evaluate. We would do a half-marathon together! Shorter training time, shorter distance (by HALF), totally doable. It was done. We were running a half-marathon! And we were still sitting in our house!

We went on some training runs separately (remember that baby that we had?). We skipped some training runs together (remember that baby that we had?). And then I got pregnant. And I had spotting. And I was scared. So I stopped running.

Ben kept going though, and he finished the half-marathon as planned, as Sophie, Ben’s mom Dianne and I ran our own marathon, trying to find Ben on the course and driving around to cheer him on.

The awesome, incredible, finisher. Time? 2:45.

The awesome, incredible finisher. Time? 2:45.

Ben is now officially a footie man and only runs medicinally (when and only when he has to). And I am officially a runner, at heart AND practice (it’s not all talk anymore!). And I’ve decided to run a half-marathon. This time Ben will be the one cheering me on while I run my butt off.

Thankfully, I am not alone in this crazy scheme. I’ve managed to brainwash convince two other school moms, Bethany and Andrea, and Toni to do it with me. And thank goodness for that, because you actually have to TRAIN for a run like this. You can’t just ‘do it’, unless you’re Barney Stinson, but even then karma will balance everything out.

You need to have a plan that lasts for weeks. The one we picked was a 9-week map of how to get to the half-marathon without breaking our legs and dying of exhaustion. Which means, of course, that we started running in January to get ready to start really training in March. And if you haven’t done the math yet, that means runs in -20 degrees C weather…and running in the snow…and running over ice…and jumping snowbanks and skating down hills and landing in slush puddles, all to achieve the illusive stamina to get us to the finish line.

You need to eat right, and when you’re a parent, that sometimes feels like you’re asking to lasso the moon while standing on your head and trying to get your insane child to EAT BREAKFAST ALREADY. It’s near impossible some days. But if you have awesome training partners, there are more Pinterest-hunters, more bakers, more people willing to go the distance to find and make the perfect energy ball to take with you on a run or the perfect post-run smoothie recipe, or the best chocolate dessert to celebrate.

You need to stay motivated and there’s nothing like a frigid wake-up call at 4:45 a.m. so you can go run in the near extreme-cold-weather-alert temperatures, all bundled up and wondering what the hell is wrong with you. Or the long runs at night because you’ve run out of time in the morning to complete them and you find yourself putting your babies to bed and then getting suited up to go run for a couple of hours. For fun. Buddies make these moments easier to swallow and harder to cancel.

Seriously.

Seriously.

You need to do things you’d never in your wildest dreams even entertain in your mind as a possibility. And I’m not just talking about running for an unnaturally long time. I’m talking about other things. Like peeing behind a tree (Toni) or in a field (Andrea) or by a swamp (Bethany). Or pooping near a field (me…yep, Andrea, I am confessing – I pooped before our speed intervals last week…because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to finish the run OR I would have had a huge accident…so, I did it. I pooped. And I had enough tissue in my pocket to wipe well. And I went back and picked it up and threw it away after we got home from the run. And GOOD GOD who would have thought we’d be HERE?!). Because when you’re out running, you have choices. But they’re not easy choices, like walk a few steps and go pee, then come back. Or skip home to poop and then do speed work. They’re gross choices, like I’m a billion kilometers from home, so either it happens now, or I make a mess.

True story.

True story.

And when you get to the end of your training, like we have, you have to complete these insanely long runs that make you question your sanity the entire way. Like this past weekend – we had to do our longest run ever (as in, ever completed by any of us EVER, not just in training), and the longest run we will finish before the BIG ONE, the half-marathon. Saturday morning, Bethany, Andrea and I (Toni was sick with a crappy chest cold) tackled a 17 km run that took us out of our city, through a neighbouring village, and back again in around 2 hours and 42 minutes.

Sunrise near the top of the second giant hill of our run.

Sunrise near the top of the second giant hill of our run.

It was crazy.

It's hard to feel defeated when you're running past scenes like this...and they're REAL.

It’s hard to feel defeated when you’re running past scenes like this…and they’re REAL.

It was awesome.

This is what my long runs look like...Bethany waaaaaay up ahead, Andrea waaaay up ahead, and me waaaaaaaaay behind. I'm slow, but steady. I'll get there, but I'm not winning any land-speed records.

This is what my long runs look like…Bethany waaaaaay up ahead, Andrea waaaay up ahead, and me waaaaaaaaay behind. I’m slow, but steady. I’ll get there, but I’m not winning any land-speed records.

And finishing was all the sweeter because we got to share it and finish it together.

These beautiful ladies totally waited at the top of the last hill so that we could all finish together. They're running soul mates and I'm so glad I found them.

These beautiful ladies totally waited at the top of the last hill so that we could all finish together. They’re running soul mates and I’m so glad I found them.

I’m so nervous for the runners in Boston. I hope they run the race of their lives, whatever that means for them (winning or finishing or achieving a PR).

And I’m so scared I won’t be able to complete the race in two weeks (I’m a professional worrier, remember?). But I do know this one thing: I’ll have my running buddies with me and we’ll do it together.

~ Julia

Working to a better me

I am not the biggest fitness guru in the world, not even in this sisterhood, but I do have a few things that I love doing as I work my way to a better me.

1. Hot Yoga:
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I have Toni to blame for this one. I didn’t think I would like it at all. I thought I would hate the heat, and just hate the fact that my body can’t do all the yoga poses. However, the first night I attempted this I felt so calm and at peace with my body and myself afterward I knew it was love. I love my body for all its largeness, but know it can be better. And now I can listen to my body better than I have in the past.

2. Crunches:
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I have a love for them. I can do 96 of them in a row, which I am pretty damn proud of myself for. For this I have to thank my old burlesque teacher, Miss Sassy Ray. She is wonderful, and showed me that no matter what size you are, you can dance, crunch, and wiggle with the best of them.

3. Eating Better:
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Less fast food, less junk overall, and just trying to put more veggies where there is too much starch. This one is hard because I live with so many people, with varying likes and dislikes, but I have found ways to sneak in the healthy stuff.

I am not the best at being healthy or treating my body well, but I am on a road leading to a better me, and working on a better happiness for who I am, what I look like, and my size.
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~ Andreah

February check-in

Ah, February. My sweetheart month.

It’s my favourite for the obvious reasons, as it is my birthday month, but also because it’s a good check-in month for any goals or resolutions that you may have set for your 2015.

From a health and fitness perspective, it’s far enough into the year to see a pattern or a trend beginning, and  still fresh enough to know where you’ve strayed or started to fall back into old habits. If you let it go much longer, you may not get back on track and then find yourself staring down another New Year, starting over, again.

I find it a good time to take look at your habits – an honest, hard look of course – and see where you need improvement or change that just isn’t happening in order to reach your goals.

No matter what you find – whether you’re more off-track than you thought, or you’re kicking 2015’s ass – I’ve got a few tried, tested and true pointers for keeping yourself on track and helping you to make permanent lifestyle choices that will benefit you long-term.

1. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, right away: Think of this like a marriage, but instead of a partner, the lifelong commitment is to yourself. Think of it as a choice you make every day, until it’s just second nature to life more healthfully, making a small change until it is habit and then making another small change until it’s habit, and so on. Building towards a goal or just improving your standard of living overall is more sustainable this way, and you’re more likely to be a success story than if you tackle everything (diet, exercise, quitting smoking, etc), all at once. The trick is to improve without overwhelming yourself.

2. Do what works for you, but MOVE: It really doesn’t matter what you choose for your method of physical activity, whether that be lifting weights at the gym, sweating it out in Moksha Yoga, running a half-marathon, going for a walk, or grabbing some girlfriends and heading out for a hike – just MOVE. As a society we lack movement from sitting all day in a chair at a desk, craning your neck while hunched over your smartphone, or laying on the couch watching television. We sit and slouch and lay far beyond what our bodies were ever meant to. Do you live in town, but drive to the store? Figure out a way to walk more, cutting out on drive time.  Hiding inside because it’s cold? Bundle up and get outside! Winter is so enjoyable when properly dressed! Move.

Mike and I went on a challenging 6 hour hike for this sight... Totally worth it.

Mike and I went on a challenging 6-hour hike for this sight. Totally worth it.

3. Patience: Big changes will take time. It really is true what they say, “The bigger the struggle, the better the blessing.” You’ll be really surprised by what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it, give yourself grace and credit for your effort, dig in and do the work. Remind yourself that the bad habits you’re trying to improve upon didn’t only take a day to become bad habits and that it will take time to get it right. You will wake up one day and wonder why you didn’t start sooner, or why you were so scared being so unhappy with your situation. It’s incredibly rewarding to look back and see how far you’ve come in such little time, with so much more ahead of you now.

4. Educate yourself: Not only about which form of movement is right for you, but also what you’re fueling and recharging your body with. For this, you’re going to have to get a little uncomfortable and learn how food is made, processed and what you’re injesting. Some of your favourite foods are poisoning you, slowly but surely. Refined white sugar is in the majority of processed foods and is directly linked with obesity and a multitude of other health issues and diseases – my reading more about this has Mike holding his breath knowing our eating habits are going to start changing…again. The more you know, the more you will subconsciously start making better decisions when it comes down to your plate.

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5. Find your people: I cannot stress this one enough – get a buddy, or if you’re lucky like me, a whole group of like-minded people that ‘get it’, are determined for themselves and provide good team support and encouragement. If you have strength in numbers, it will be easier to feel accountable and inspired to reach your goals. Personally this helps to trigger my commitment to myself too, knowing I’ve got some kickass people cheering me on in my corner.

Some of my people on a sunrise hike

Some of my people on a sunrise hike

What about you? What are your favourite tips for staying on track in these pesky winter months? Wherever you are in your health and fitness journey, I wish you continued determination, drive and success for all of your 2015 goals.

~ Toni

Fitting in fitness

With my life in the fast-lane and no slow down in sight, I have had to rejig a few things in order to fight my way back to balance.

One of the areas I promised myself and my sanity that I would work on was attempting to fit in my workouts more often then I had been. After a few (mostly failed) attempts at fitting in my usual full hour long workouts, I soon realized that this very real struggle was not as easy to overcome as writing a post pointing out a lack of my balance-providing routine. I soon began to think of creative ways in which I could fit in enough effort to get the momentum going and help build back up my dedication to fitness.

While I am clearly struggling to hit my stride, a few of my favourite tricks to offset not being able to dedicate a complete hour or two a day to my workouts and working overtime to keep me sane have been:

1. Mini-challenges:  In order to make sure I at least maintain my current level of fitness, I give myself little mini-challenges that run for week or month long periods.  As I will openly admit to anyone who asks, my favourite muscle grouping to work out and work on has to be my glutes and quads. Not only do leg/butt exercises burn the most calories, they also allow me to personally feel the most powerful. As an avid runner, knowing my legs are strong enough to help prevent injury is important to me – especially as I already have one knee that requires extra care. And let’s not forget to mention that a squat booty is the best booty!

Truth.

Truth.

My favourite mini challenge is giving myself a set number of squats to perform every time I go to the washroom (after I have gone pee of course), with 25 usually being the the amount I aim for. This type of challenge allows me to break down my goal of staying healthy during chaos into manageable, digestible pieces that I know are realistic to achieve during a hectic day. The best part is that mini-challenges can be applied in many different ways – elevated pushups off the counter every time you enter the kitchen or even calf raises while pumping gas for example.

Try this one - mark it in your daily calendar to increase chances of success

Try this one – mark it in your daily calendar to increase chances of success

2. Keep a must make date with yourself: Saturday mornings are mine. Knowing that I have a standing date with myself a minimum of once a week, helps me to keep the stress of not being active enough during the week, at bay. Whether I am lucky enough to spend a gorgeous morning hiking at sunrise with some of my favourite ladies, fitting in a solid run on one of my favourite trails, or adding in sprints while on my walk with the fur-babies (their favourite), the first item on the agenda for my Saturday has to be something active.

Be the BOSS.

Be the BOSS.

As long as I do everything in my power to make that date weekly, I don’t beat myself up if it ends up being the only activity I am able to fit in during the week. It also gives me something to look forward to, a light at the end of the tunnel, the pick-me up to give me some energy.

3. Ask for help: The one fitness lesson that has taken the longest for me to accept, asking for help/support from the people around you can often be the lifesavers you require, right when you require them.

Still a struggle some days

Still a struggle some days

Personally, I have asked for some of the women I work out with to push me a little, get me to commit some more me-time by planning workout dates in advance. They’ve already got me feeling more motivated and determined then I have in quite some time. Seriously, nothing can replace the support your sisters in fitness (in my case by blood as well) provide when you’re struggling or stumbling in your journey.

4. Self-talk: Controlling my internal talk-track can be a struggle on a good day, let alone a day – or pile of them – that seem to have more things added to the to-do list then checked off, but it is so very necessary. However, becoming my own worst enemy mentally will do me no good and only add to my stress level. Some days it is hard to, but I am more calm if I am able to control my thoughts, keeping them as positive as possible and provide myself gentle reminders as to why I started my fitness journey in the first place. When I’m really struggling, I simply activate tip number 3 and reach out to someone I know has the power to be my cheerleader when I need it most.

I really cannot wait to get back into a routine that allows me time to continue on this lifelong journey I am so desperately missing and so determined to maintain. Until then, I’m counting my current reality as part of the dance and doing my best to follow my own advice.

~ Toni

Scaleless

On one of our crazy-early morning hikes, the conversation switched to growing up without a scale in our house. I can remember going to friends’ houses and the idea of weighing yourself seemed so alien to me – why weigh yourself? Are you a doctor? Ignorance is bliss, is it not?

I can remember the handful of times I have ever weighed myself, because frankly I would be overweight based on my body mass index. Let me tell you there are days I feel that way, but they are few and far between. I work out because I feel good afterwards, I know how to eat healthy and I do treat myself to the occasional chicken nugget meal. I run/hike/insert any active noun to keep my mind clear. It’s a bonus that my waist benefits as well.

So I asked my sisters, Kim, Toni and Julia…Do you regret not growing up with a scale? And would you have a scale in your house?

Growing up our mother never fat-shamed herself. She may have felt ugly, as we all have as we see ourselves starring back at us, when our pants are fitting a little more snug, or our shirt is pulling in the wrong places, but she never let it leave her bedroom. I don’t remember her making comments about our weight, but we also didn’t have a super active lifestyle. We were always outside but we were not in sports, and I can’t remember either of my parents uttering the works “gym” or other than to ask how our gym class went that day, and my mother never uttered the word “diet.”

My mother is beyond beautiful! She has curves, an infectious smile and the warmest heart. When she hugs you, her perfume and warmth engulfs you and suddenly everything seems to melt away. She has inner and outer beauty.

So when I asked Julia about how she is raising her girls, the response was easy and took no thought. She stated that she loved how mom did not ever talk about diets, that there was no scale. That the emphasis on us growing up was feeling good instead of what the scale said.

Julia continued to elaborate and also said how she loves that Sophie and Lillian play exercising as one of their role playing games, and Lillian and Sophie both love to run like Mommy. Isaac will also grow up knowing that both his parents run, workout, have a healthy life style, but yet they don’t have a scale present for the girls.

There is no template for how to raise your children. In fact, it’s a hot topic when you compare how kids are raised today with tablets, iPads, cell phones, and game consoles versus the previous generations’ upbringing of coming home when the street lights turned on.

You can raise a child telling them that they are beautiful just how they are, and yet you never know what will influence a child.

For me, looking back, I did go through normal adolescent insecurities. I was worried what others thought of me, how I looked and how I felt, but I don’t regret growing up without a scale.

I think that maybe if we had had a scale, that my workouts and runs may be more for the physical goal rather than my mental and physical health. That if the number I saw staring back at me is what I was worried about more than how I am feeling in my own skin, I think I may get more deterred and give up easier.

I am proud to be a part of a scaleless childhood, and am going to be carrying on this tradition.

~ Jacqui

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Just get out the door

I love running.

I love how it makes me feel. I love how healthy I am because of it. I love the number of baked goods I can eat fairly guilt-free (just don’t tell Toni…). I love how powerful I am, how far I can go, how peaceful it is, and how high the endorphins make me at the end.

LOVE IT.

But something horrible happens every time I get up to go running.

Goofy weak ankles require a little support.

Goofy weak ankles require a little support.

It’s not subtle, either. It won’t be ignored and demands to be listened to, paid attention to, adhered to.

Some fuel before I head out.

Some fuel before I head out.

Evil-Julia kicks in and starts smack-talking me.

Good morning, quiet, sleepy world.

Good morning, quiet, sleepy world.

I tell myself that I can’t do it.

Leaving the city behind

Leaving the city behind

I tell myself I am NOT a runner.

This hill always gets me. One day, I will run up it WITHOUT walking. Dammit.

This hill always gets me. One day, I will run up it WITHOUT walking. Dammit.

I tell myself that it will be hard, impossible, painful, and that I will fall, hurt myself, embarrass myself, let myself down.

Just some nice farmland on the route...you know, no big deal...yet SO pretty.

Just some nice farmland on the route…you know, no big deal…yet SO pretty.

I tell myself that I don’t look like a runner when I’m in my regular, day-to-day clothes – what makes me think I look anything BUT ridiculous and poser-y in my running gear?!

I call this the home stretch. It's actually the 5 km mark of a 10.5 km run...so not really the actual homestretch.

I call this the home stretch. It’s actually the 5 km mark of a 10.5 km run…so not really the actual homestretch.

I tell myself I’m fat. I do. I talk about my thunder thighs and my chubby belly and my face that I feel looks bigger when my hair is up in a tight bun and that my butt jiggles when I run and that’s all anybody is ever going to look at.

One of TWO stunning ponds (although, named lakes) on the route.

One of TWO stunning ponds (although, named lakes) on the route.

I forget that I’m thirty pounds lighter than I was after Isaac was born. That I walked into a lingerie store to buy new bras because my boobs have shrunk SO MUCH and the lady told me, without any thought, that I was a medium (I’ve NEVER been a medium). That the clothes I bought at the beginning of this year because nothing fit me are too big for me and I’m rapidly closing in on the need to buy a whole new wardrobe. Again.

There's a blue heron at the end of the branch that's jutting out on the water. Can you see it?

There’s a blue heron at the end of the branch that’s jutting out on the water. Can you see it?

I forget that last weekend I ran 12.84 km, the farthest I’ve ever run and more than half-way to my 21-km-half-marathon goal for next year. I forget that I had to ask my brother-in-law, who runs twice as fast as I do, who has been running his whole life, who runs 10 km for breakfast, why my toes were going numb and he said I needed new shoes. Do you know what that means??? It means that I’ve logged so much mileage in these blue and hot pink shoes since the beginning of the SUMMER that I need new shoes already. Seriously.

I've caught the watching-the-sunrise-bug from Toni.

I’ve caught the watching-the-sunrise bug from Toni.

I forget everything good about what I’ve accomplished. But, I don’t stop moving. I don’t stop putting on my running gear that I laid out the night before for this very reason. I don’t stop making pre-run toast or peeling that pre-run banana. I don’t avoid reviewing the route, looking at the distance, and visualizing the scenery in my mind. I don’t stop myself from putting on those shoes, taking a deep breath and escaping the house like a ninja so I don’t wake up any babies as I leave.

Well-deserved chia-peach oatmeal with coffee and WATER.

Actual breakfast – warm chia-peach oatmeal with well-deserved coffee and absolutely necessary WATER.

And I step outside. And the cool air hits me. And the feel of the pavement is under my shoes. And the quiet of the early, early morning surrounds me. And all of the worries, the stress, the obligations, the responsibilities, the to-dos fade away. And I get to the end of my driveway and I start to run. And then I remember.

I’m a runner.

~ Julia