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.

6c87590ff46cd3756e9b77b24c24abb2

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

Advertisements

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

IMG_2005.PNG

Five favourite fitness truths

In recent years, I have worked hard on getting healthy.

What began as a mission for our upcoming wedding, quickly became a lifestyle – one that I happily committed to. Along my journey I have found a few tid-bits of wisdom that stuck with me and helped me overcome some seriously bad habits in my routine.

While I am no expert, here are my five favourite fitness truths that made the most impact on my progress:

1. Making small changes can make the biggest impact: When I attempted to make too many drastic changes at once, I found I was setting myself up for failure. It was so much easier to slowly work my way up to a goal by gradually tweaking my workouts, eating habits and even my mentality. It’s like training for a marathon.

Small steps, sure steps.

Small steps, sure steps.

I went from a 2 milk, 1 sugar coffee at Tim’s to a 2 milk, sometimes black. I switched our whole wheat bread and white rice out for whole grains. I cut back on my intake of cheese (believe me, it was a problem). I added 1 more lap around the track or a sprint lap during my training runs or I pushed myself for one more rep of my workout. I went from walk/running 5 km, to running all 5, then 8 and sometimes even 10 when my knee allows. I started eating breakfast. I’m not suggesting your goals will be the same. I am suggesting, however, that you make the smallest changes, make them a habit and then switch up another element of your routine. Which leads me to my next point..

2. Your fitness is 100% mental: I once read the quote, “your body won’t go where your mind won’t let it”. Brilliantly true, beyond true. Your mind is an extremely powerful tool and can be used for both destructive and constructive purpose. If you tell yourself you can’t do or accomplish something, you are absolutely correct. If you tell yourself you can do it, that you don’t have a choice, you are going to reach your goals.

Your mind is so very powerful

Your mind is so very powerful.

On top of pushing yourself and getting your self-talk-track right – to be your cheerleader and convince your legs they’re not tired, tell your lungs to keep control of your breathing, that your body is capable – your fitness path needs a WHOLE LOT of positivity and patience. If your brain isn’t being nice to you because you’re not seeing results or watching the number on the scale drop fast enough, tell it to shut the hell up. Go with how you feel, how your clothes are fitting. Take note of the energy increase you have and the pep in your step because of the shot of endorphins coursing through your body – and then celebrate those important victories. You have to want it and you have to make sure your brain is with you.

3. Eat: Do not be afraid of food! Be afraid of the wrong food – the processed, chemical-filled, GMO food – be very, very afraid. Do not be afraid of eating a hearty meal of the right foods – whole foods. I’m not suggesting you attempt “eating clean”,  but I am suggesting that you attempt to learn how to eat to nourish your body. For starters, make sure your cart is full of foods from the outside aisles when completing the weekly shopping trip. Buy more perishables than not. Just this small change can change the course of your health. Add in moderate weekly exercise and you’re adding years to your life and subtracting inches from your waistline.

Scary and true.

Scary and true.

Hand-in-hand with that, do not deprive yourself, but do monitor and have some control over the amount of giving into delicious urges. If you crave chocolate, attempt to satisfy your craving with fruit or dark chocolate. If it’s just a craving that won’t go away, even with provisions, give in – but a little. Have a small amount of milk chocolate, or portion control your chips if you’re a salt fiend, like me, when a few pretzels won’t cut it. Allow yourself to be human, forgive yourself, and do better the next day.

4. Get your water in: This is my demon. I struggle daily to get my required water intake in. It doesn’t help that my bladder is the size of an upside-down bottle cap, or that I am a complete coffee addict, but aside from that I totally know the rules, yet just can’t seem to follow them.

ALL THE TIME

ALL THE TIME

Like I know that for every cup of coffee, your replacement water intake is 2 glasses. I know I should have water all damn day long. I know that when I wake up, the first thing I should do is drink a glass of water. I know, I know, I know. I’m looking into the cost of an IV, but in the meantime, I’m going to keep working on it. Maybe I should appoint a water reminding delegate… Hmm…yup! Now accepting applications.

5. Do what works for you: Personally, I hate the gym. It’s only because I find the atmosphere and equipment intimidating. I wish I could love the gym. Maybe one day.

Instead I love HIIT style workouts with my sisters and girlfriends. Instead I prefer a challenging hike at the crack of dawn. Instead I run – for the body buzz, and the feeling of freedom and the way it makes my heart fly – mostly I run because I can and why not? I do squat challenges like completing 25 after every visit to the loo. I do hot yoga. I do whatever feels right and makes me want to move and challenge myself. And most importantly, I do what I know works for me.

It’s 100% personal and you’ll know when you find what works for you.

~ Toni

It’s contagious

At this point in our blogger/reader relationship, you should know that I enjoy living a healthier lifestyle.

From the whole and healthy food that I use to nourish my body, to the addiction I have to movement, to the thrill I feel when I tackle and triumph over a new challenge – I love it and crave it.

Pinning exercise

For a while, my fitness journey was shared mostly with my good friend and previous trainer, Julie. While a new career path has changed our relationship slightly, I will forever attribute the beginning of this love affair to her pushing me to be better than myself.

I can tell you honestly that the change I love the most is not in the pounds shed, the firmness found, or the satisfaction of needing an entirely new wardrobe because nothing fit anymore. The change I love the most is how proud I am at what my body is capable of – the natural amount of energy I have,  how fast I can go, how long I can go, how much weight I can carry, that people are surprised at my strength based on my size – it’s all a thrill to me.

Running late

Up until about 10 months ago, this shift in lifestyle had been purely selfish and the thing I was doing for me. I never imagined that I was affecting or influencing the women around me. Slowly but surely, I was joined regularly by my girlfriend Chantelle whenever I would head out for a run, bike ride or workout. Her determination was impressive and her desire to be better for herself was inspiring. It pushed me harder, made me work more and reach new goals of my own. I was so excited that she saw what she wanted to accomplish for herself.

And then one day, my older sister Julia asked what I was still doing to stay fit. When I told her, she wanted in! We did things as a threesome when our schedules worked and in pairs or solo when it didn’t. It was awesome! There is nothing like finding a group of women with the same goals and desires as you. It made me feel normal, accepted and so proud.

And then my mini-me Jacqui asked if I wanted to workout with her one day, and then go for a run with her another. It made my heart fly. We quickly became a foursome of sisters-in-fitness. While hectic schedules, rotating turns to have the end-of-the season cold, or rough and sleepless nights don’t always and rarely allow us to all be together, the extra accountability was just what we needed.

exercise-fart

And then our adopted sister Kim heard about how much Julia was loving it and decided one evening to join us. She was hooked! We pushed each other, read and researched, gave suggestions when we needed some help to overcome an obstacle or plateau – it’s been incredible to watch. Seeing each one of these women find what works for them – Chantelle’s new found love of hot yoga, Julia, Kim and Jacqui’s love of running and finding their stride, our mutual love/hate relationship with HIIT and burpees –  it must be how parents and teachers feel when lessons are not only learned, but applied and new milestones are reached by their wee ones.

Burpees

Julia’s lovable friend Sara, whom I have known since my pre-teen years, has just recently been inducted into the TLT (an acronym I refuse to spell out for its sheer embarrassment – thanks ladies!) group of incredibly supportive women. While I wouldn’t consider what we do a class or bootcamp, and I am no body builder or personal trainer, I am incredibly proud of the example I set because of the fire that was found in me by my trainer.

~ Toni

P.S. Julie is now in the real estate market and loving her new career. If you’re in the market for sale or purchase of a new home or investment property, contact Julie Belanger at realtorjuliebelanger@gmail.com.

Sisterhood Spotlight: Greatist.com

When it comes to finding support for leading a healthy lifestyle, it’s hard to find a reliable source that isn’t pushing their own agenda or selling their own brand of get-fit-quick propaganda. While information is accessible everywhere from Google to Pinterest, I’ve come to know and love one particular fitness blog that seems to satisfy all areas of a healthy me – mind, body and soul.

Greatist.com is a blog that covers all areas of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s not focused on being skinny, losing weight, pills, quick fixes or fads. Greatist.com strictly focuses on over all health be it mental, physical or spiritual.

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

This specific blog is suited for anyone who is looking to live and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Every post is vetted to make sure the facts are based on a legitimate scientific study, that they are fun and easy to read, and that the information you are receiving is real. If you are interested in yoga, crossfit, running, healthy recipes, tips on how to manage stress, depression, a bad stroke of luck, tools to train your brain and help you ace that test, or even a daily workout, greatest.com is the site for you.

Personally, I opted in for the daily email – it’s a daily digest of posts containing an array  of topics and I find it a great reminder to get up and do something physically active, everyday (yes, even though today’s daily email was about drinking…).

The daily email - May 23, 2014

The daily email – May 23, 2014

I recommend greatest.com to anyone looking for tips, tricks and support on their journey of improving their overall health – you won’t be disappointed!

Happy, happy Friday from the Sisterhood!

~Toni

Signing up for the mess

There was a time about 4-5 years ago, before I had this ring on my left hand, when Cody and I were seriously considering having children. Before marriage, against the grain. We were already living with each other, bought our house and wanted to start “The Rest of Our Lives.” Marriage was the “Next Step,” but for some reason we wanted babies first. I longed to be a mother, and hearing that Cody was just as excited as I was to have babies meant more than a proposal; it meant together forever – a part of Cody.

Then reality hit us: we were young, we had one vehicle, we were in debt with the house, I was in debt from school. We didn’t want to be at home all the time when our friends were still very young. And most of all, we didn’t want to regret each other, we still had growing to do in our relationship – I mean we weren’t ready for marriage but we were more than ready for a baby? We were crazy!

I was not ready for late nights that were not late because I chose them to be.

I was not ready to ask Cody for a shower because I was too busy with the baby and couldn’t get one in until he got home.

I was not ready for poo on my face…

Sweetie you have shit on your face

Sweetie, you have shit on your face.

 

I was not ready.  Or was I scared…

I was scared. I was scared I would never be able to have a baby the conventional way, that I wouldn’t be able to feel a baby in my belly, that the medication I was on would never allow me to have these ups and downs of pregnancy. That even if I did get pregnant, I wouldn’t be able to carry it to term because of a seizure, that I would be on bed rest as soon as I peed on that stick.

So, I decided to focus on getting healthy, for me and for Cody and my family of the future, and I put that feeling in the pit of my stomach, the maternal need, on the back burner.

Then we were asked to write this post, and I dug those feelings back up. These are the same feelings that make me happy for all 6 of the women I work with, all of which are in my department that are expecting. The same feelings I have when I pick out baby outfits for one of my best friends.

I want to be a mother, I want the messy, tired, exhausted, blessed, loving life of a mother. The one where you ask your significant other to take the baby for 5 minuets while you hop in the shower. The one where you fall asleep with your baby in your arms. Where the days melt together.

I am healthy and I am ready…if you can ever be ready.

~ Jacqui

Where have all the sisters gone?

I consider myself exceptionally lucky to be a part of this sisterhood.

These sisters of mine are my cheerleaders when I am down, my voice of reason when I am ridiculous, my sounding board when I need to vent, my support system when I struggle, my teachers, my inspiration, my mirrors, my reminder where we came from and where we are going – the ultimate touchstone. I am so lucky in fact, it makes me sad for anyone that has a stressed or estranged relationship with their sister(s), or anyone that wasn’t blessed with a double-X chromosome-carrying sibling.

My biological sisterhood

My biological sisterhood

While the sisters I speak of are blood, I am also exceptionally lucky to have found myself surrounded by a group of women that I consider a part of my sisterhood – my beautiful, supportive, uplifting and inspiring girlfriends. Personally, I am selective of who I let in, and even more selective of who I let stay in my life and for good reason – sadly, women can be each other’s worst enemy, biggest critics and more often than we would like to admit, the first to freely pass judgement on each other.

That being said, lately I have noticed a newer trend among women that I could do without – a constant stream of stories of women ganging up on each other, using their social media soapboxes to bash, bully and verbally maim other women.

While I am all for women having a voice, I often wonder – where did the focus of our universal sisterhood go? As women, should we not be lifting each other up, praising and promoting our strengths? When did it become okay for us to attack one another and so publicly? While I am not suggesting that we need to always agree with each other, or even see things from another’s side, I am suggesting that this catty, degrading behaviour is outright appalling and needs to stop.

Thanks to our technologically-driven, addicted-to-social-media society, you don’t have to go far to find a woman with a voice, some worth hearing, some not so much. I may not always agree with the message, post, tweet, status, opinion, article, or even the chosen delivery of the message, but I am not about to allow it to turn me into the very kind of woman that I disassociate myself with on purpose. Call it self-preservation, selective socializing, whatever you like – I cannot stand when women attack other women because they disagree with them. What happened to the art of disagreeing with grace? Were you not raised with the rule, “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all”? Have we really become so desensitized to the effect that our words can have that we cannot remove the catty from our reactions?

It is my strong belief that deep down, the women who bandwagon to negatively dismantle another sister are severely struggling with their own insecurities and need help coming to terms with them.

What makes the woman who flaunts her hard work on her physique and asks a blunt and honest question a “fat-shaming bully” a la Maria Kang? Shouldn’t we be applauding her for reaching her goals, working hard and calling out those that want to be more fit, more healthy and more active to diminish their own excuses?

'No excuse fit-mom' Maria Kang's Facebook that caused a HUGE uproar among women

‘No excuse fit-mom’ Maria Kang’s Facebook photo caused a HUGE uproar among women

What makes the opinionated female journalist a ‘bitch’ for having a different viewpoint of an issue that you might not have considered before she shed some light on it? Why is the attractive woman, with curves dripping in sex appeal, so threatening that she is labeled a ‘slut’ by other women? What makes the career-driven, successful female CEO who chose her career over raising a family a cold, heartless, selfish, shell of a woman? In turn, what makes the woman who gives up her own dreams or goals to selflessly raise a family an anti-feminist?

All of these negative reactions stem from personal insecurities and they need to stop dictating how we deal with one another. We look RIDICULOUS. Is this really what the feminists who pioneered and fought for equality envisioned when they gave us a voice? I think not.

So, the next time you open your mouth, or fly to your keyboard to craft a hostile or rude response to something a fellow sister has bravely let out into the world, please stop to think of the damage you may be doing to our universal sisterhood with your hasty actions and consider this:

Girls tear each other down. Women build each other up.

~Toni