A Visit to the East to Meet a Teacher

A Visit to the East

I realized recently, when my girlfriend’s father was in the hospital with a very serious brain hemorrhage, how much we rely on western medicine, and how much trust we are asked to put into what seem to be “guesses” than diagnoses.  I won’t blame the Doctors, the Nurses or the system, it is what it is here.  The congestion, the traffic, the in and out appearances of a couple of medical professionals compared to the throes of patients waiting for some attention.  Western medicine seems like a bandaid approach to sickness which, despite my rant, was deeply appreciated by me and my family when they were able to remove the start of lung cancer in my Dad’s body back in 2009.

I’ve always been amazed at the knowledge and expertise of my medical Doctor, Dr. Carol Lee.  Instantaneously she has always been able to successfully assess my ailments.  Recently after my last physical Dr. Lee was able to tell me that all of my levels were normal; cholesterol, thyroid, blood pressure etc.  But outside of my seemingly normal physical, what of my regular fatigue, my intermittment sleeps, my occasional bloating? What of this 20lbs gain? Is it just age?  Is it just lifestyle?  I always wondered if there was more than our western cultural and scientific approach to medicine….and then I met Geha, and in a quick hour and a half she introduced me to new world of possibility and insight I’d never explored before.

I went to the Wellness on Whyte clinic on the recommendation of my friends Blessie and Dan who spoke volumes of the clinic.  Walking into my appointment yesterday, I didn’t even know what to expect.  I was going in for an initial acupuncture assessment. The clinic was warm and inviting to walk into, it had a serene spa like atmosphere, with a calm lavender like fragrance.  I was nervous at first anticipating the discomfort of needles puncturing my skin and how much I’d freak out seeing them in my body (gag).   But to my surprise the assessment felt more like a warm comforting embrace than an appointment.  I left feeling loved and understood, not just by Geha, but by myself.  She introduced me to parts of myself I have forgotten, denied and quite frankly abandoned.  Her words resonated so deep within me, I was immediately impacted by her words as evidenced by the tears I sheepishly tried to hold back.

                The appointment started with an in depth questionnaire about my health, my history, my family’s medical history and my present complaints. Recently I had gone on the 17 Day Diet by Dr. Mike Moreno, as recommended to me by my hairdresser Sheri and my beautiful friend Mona, and had successfully lost 6lbs.  The diet too had helped alleviate some of the symptoms I complained about above in such a short period of time.  The first cycle of the 17 Day Diet focuses on the elimination of complex carbs (breads, pasta, rice, starchy vegetables etc), I was able to eat two portions of low sugar fruits, two portions of yogurt and unlimited veggies and lean proteins.  The following cycles speak to the reintroduction of carbs back into my diet in a way that doesn’t interrupt my weightloss.  I would highly recommend this diet to anyone.  It was a good introduction in my own exploration of what works for me and what doesn’t work for me.  This Diet provided the right amount of food that I didn’t feel like I was really deprived.  My energy levels were great, I was sleeping well, I was shedding pounds and I was satisfied.

It was a no brainer when Geha told me that I obviously had a wheat sensitivity which was wreaking havoc on my system.  She attributed the excess sugar and starches in my body as the cause of what she called “sticky plegm” in my body.  The glue that keeps the fat sticking to my body, the glue that makes me feel foggy, lethargic and heavy.  She told me to let “food be my medicine”.  Simple but powerful.  She asked me to put my two fists together and told me that was the size of my stomach and asked me to compare my past portion sizes to my two fists, of course I’ve been eating probably 3-4 times a day what I should be eating.  She told me to maintain the 17 Day Diet as more of a lifestyle than a diet.  To nourish my body with fruits and vegetables and to not necessarily feel the need to have protein each day. She told me to snack on nuts, seaweed and dark chocolate.  She asked me to look at organic produce and meats, despite the higher cost of them. She asked me to consider what I was eating in processed meats (the steroids, hormones and antibiotics I was ingesting) from the mass produced cows and chickens.  She put to me, why people who harvested corn had to wear full body suits with gas masks? To protect themselves from the chemicals they spray on the corn which we seemingly take no issue eating?  It was an eye opener!  She explained how processed food is so foreign to our systems that our bodies either reject it or hold on to it until it is able to figure out how to process it.  How heavily processed foods and sugar triggers a hibernation state in our bodies, and how our bodies respond by storing and hording these that we take in.

I shared with her how inconsistent my lifestyle has been for the past couple of years.   I told her how I went through bouts of craving salty, sugary or greasy food, and how a moment of weakness to a craving turned into a full fledged binge.  I told her how my energy levels affected my workouts, and how my intermittent sleeps left me feeling unrested.  I realized long ago that I have not been running optimally, but I didn’t know where to go with that, until Geha provided the map.  She explained to me that a craving is actually a sign of it leaving your body, my body craves more sugar when it’s own sugar stores are depleted.  A craving is actually a positive thing! She asked me to look at the times that I am “hungry” and determine, if I am in fact hungry, or if I’m feeling light and if that light feeling is just foreign to my lifestyle and my socialized way of being.  She also told me that cravings could be a lack of minerals in my body. I do take multivitamins (apparently not enough though) but I hadn’t ever considered taking mineral supplements. But she told me how sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals in my system would lend to a proper functioning of my body as a whole, and how my body could then really use, take in and process the nutrients I would feed it.  She made everything relate, from my body to my diet – even to my mind , body and spirit.  And this is where it all hit home:

She measured my heart rate, and checked my tongue and listened patiently to my complaints and shared all of the information above and told me it all culminated  to me being really tight and small inside (which she said was a paradox to what  I look like from the outside).  She used metaphors and descriptive examples when she spoke. She said I was a picture that didn’t quite make sense.  She said the tightness inside of me was also extremely fragile, and somehow the mystery of her words hit home and I started to cry.  She told me that I’m really good at holding it all together, but that something happened a couple of years ago that made me start to feel unsafe, and I stopped trusting, and in response to this mistrust and lack of safety I began creating my own barrier to protect myself, and how even the weight is an extension and example of this  – She said even the ways that I physically overheat is an example of the tightness inside of me imploding – and again her words, moved me and I cried harder.  She told me when I trust again, when my body trusts again it’ll open and all of the tightness inside of me  and the tightness of my muscles will relax and be whole and connected again.

She’s right.  I haven’t felt whole or complete in some time. I have felt fragmented and disconnected.  She was right, I do hold it together well, I do manage things as I feel that I have to, but inside a pressure and tightness has been building.  She was right, the transitions that I’ve experienced, the searching for love, aging of my parents, the ups and downs that Jason and I have been through, the friendships that have disintegrated, the negative experiences that some of my family and friends have been through indeed have deeply impacted me and made me mistrustful in a way I wasn’t able to identify because sure enough, I’ve been too busy managing and holding everything together as I always have; and sure enough I do believe and agree I’ve created a disconnect within myself that a diet or a new workout program would not have fixed.  It goes much deeper than that.

I am not familiar with eastern medicine.  I’ve heard about ayurvedic treatments, but I’ve never really looked into it.  But in a short hour and a half, Geha opened my eyes to things I would never have considered or looked at on my own. It was powerful, inspiring and scary.  I felt vulnerable but relieved and almost free.  I would highly recommend her service.  My Eastern visit yesterday didn’t take too much time, travel costs, packing or planning – but it instantly transformed me and my western perspective in ways I can’t wait to explore and integrate.   I feel rejuvenated and inspired in a way like only a memorable and moving trip could provide!  It is all connected, my mind, my body,  my soul, my diet, my energy, my emotions, my stress – I’m grateful to now be seeing it more wholly; even just this change in perspective makes me already begin to feel less fragmented – how very eastern of me ;)

New Year – Building a New Home

I love this time of year, fresh starts and new beginnings.  New year’s resolutions often sound cliché but isn’t it funny how a part of us buy into them, why else would January be the busiest time for gyms and trainers?  Well in all honesty, what better time to refocus and renew oneself but at the start of a brand new year?

The other week while parking at my building, I ran into a neighbour. While exchanging usual neighbourly pleastantries I noticed she was pulling a large sheet of Bristol board out of her car.  I don’t know what possessed me to ask, considering I don’t really know her all that well, but as luck/fate would have it, I did.  She shared that she was preparing to work on her annual project, her vision board for the new year.  I connected with her words immediately and felt a pang of guilt.

I had first read about a vision board in my reading of the Secret written by Rhonda Byrne a number of years ago.  It was a wonderful book which I would highly recommend for anyone who believes in the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction.  Though I believe in God, I certainly also believe that I have been given the power to change, create or configure my experiences in a very intentional way.  I do believe we create and attract the things we focus on. Ever notice when you feel blessed the blessings seem abundant but when “it rains it pours”? There is a basic and simple reality to the power of our own thoughts and perspectives.  As quoted in the book, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions” (Albert Einstein).

After reading about it, I had meant to create my own vision board but had shelved the idea until my neighbour reminded me of it again.  So finally after years of good intentions, I created a collection of my ALL for this new year, 2013.  A brilliant compilation of my goals, the things I aspire for, the things I want to experience, feel, create, build, purchase, own, share, dream or believe in.  Images and words that move me, revitalize me or remind me of who I am and where I want to be.  Instead of falling into my usual ruts or routines mid year, I want the wonderment and hope that this time of year brings, to last.  What better sustenance than a vision board to help me focus on the extraordinary each and every day.  I spend my first cup of coffee before my vision board each morning, and each morning I walk away from it with my soul smiling.  Last year, I was waiting to be inspired…until I realized, I have the power to inspire myself.

 

 

 

 

I commit to starting this new year in action not contemplation.  What I described last year as a transitionary period might have been more of a period of preparation.  I recognize now, it’s time to find a new home, metaphorically speaking.

What does home feel like to you?  To me, home feels safe and comforting.  Home is familiar and welcome. Home is second nature, warm and secure.  When I am “at home” I feel true to myself and I feel like I belong.  In an ever changing world, how often do we uproot, pack our bags and wander until we find a new home?   I find myself doing that in cycles.  Cycles marked by my growth spurts, my life experiences, my maturity or developmental stages – or maybe wider still, my destiny, my fate, the chapters in my story, the lessons I need to learn – It almost feels like we are chronically leasing, because true permanency seems impossible; the world and all of life is constantly in motion and dynamic.

We make new homes in new friendships, in the birth of children, when siblings move away, when best friends marry, in a new partner, by ourselves, in the absence of a parent, after a fight, when trust is broken, career changes, after the death of a loved one, after a first love or in the heart of a last.  Building a home is finding our place, our peace and ourselves in a new situation; not only adapting but thriving again.

I was talking to my girlfriend at work and found myself complaining of a long standing issue in my life, particular relationships in my life that feel unbalanced or unfair.  And she said to me “when you have kids you’ll understand because your priorities will change and what will matter most to you is your family.  The things that matter to you now, won’t seem so significant because you will see what will matter to you more.” Wise words. She didn’t mean it in a negative or demeaning way, she simply described the natural evolution of cycles and how we all go through them and experience the conflicts when we are inbetween them.

Last year there were dynamics in my life that dramatically changed in ways I had not expected.  Friends, family, work, Church, love – things shifted; and I called it a transitionary period.   But what felt transitionary and unsettled was simply my attachment to those things staying the same, or staying the way I had always expected them to.  It was my naïve resistance to changing cycles.  But I see now that it’s the right time to build a new home.  Build a new home in this body I have, this love I am blessed to share in, this new phase for my retired parents, in facetime with my sister, in new friendships I have acquired or old friends I have weathered with,  in my new four legged best friend, in new ways of expressing my spirituality that aren’t just passed down to me….it’s time to build a new home, and what better time than the start of a new year.

Happy New Years!

Monkey See Monkey Do – Part III

While some weight loss is intentional, that certainly  isn’t always the case.  Typical weight loss is ego based, lending to specific action and intention, we want to look better, so we do these things to accomplish that.  But when weight loss is medically based; it’s an entirely different ballgame.  I have a girlfriend who I recently found out has Celiac Disease, which prevents her from consuming gluten.  The forced dietary change based on this medical necessity made weight loss just a happy byproduct. Obviously her main priority was her health and feeling good throughout the day.  The flip side of that coin is when a medical condition causes a person to gain weight; and the adjustments one needs to make to mitigate those forced circumstances.  When Nancy found herself in that situation, she didn’t just succumb and give in to her condition, she fought back and not only conquered it but also the things that were (literally) weighing her down.

Meet my beautiful friend Nancy Ng .  Funny how Nancy became a friend to me just late last year, yet it feels like a friend I’ll have for the rest of my life. Nancy is one of those friends that I can have dinner with, and before I know it hours and hours have passed.  Not only is a Nancy a beautiful girl, she’s a kind and generous soul. She is a fearless person who seems to keep striving, learning and challenging herself.  Just recently Nancy became a published author.  She’s certainly taking the world by storm and conquering it one mountain at a time…Nancy’s weight loss is a little less intentional, not so conventional but nonetheless successful. Nancy went from a size 10 to a size 2.  Unfortunately Nancy got rid of all of her old before pictures (burnt them I believe!).  But knowing Nancy now, and how tiny she is, I cannot even begin to fathom her as a size 10 (I imagine seeing her image in one of those funhouse distorted mirrors and it just seems ludacris!)

STARTING POINT:  Nancy grew up in Venezuela and initially assumed her weight gain to be a product of the delicious deep fried culinary culture. She found however that her weight issues stemmed much deeper once she immigrated to Canada. Nancy endured a lot of stress caused by her family situation at the time which took it’s toll on her body, “I have to say that food is just part of my weight gain when I was young. A huge part of my weight gain is psychological. There were a lot of problems at home, and it threw my thyroid out of wack because of it. I was young and didn’t know how to handle all this stress, so, I ate.”  The stress of Nancy’s family, her affected thyroid and her coping mechanisms brought her to a bad place emotionally and physically.

THE BREAKING POINT:  Nancy unintentionally fell into a weight loss plan when she was working on her graduate studies in Ottawa, “It was a stressful time during my graduate studies in 1999. My stomach was taking in a lot of the stress from the pressure, so it wasn’t working properly. I was staying with my sister and her family in Ottawa at the time I was going to school there.”  

Nancy’s stomach issues made her reassess her dietary habits and activity levels; “In response to my stomach problems, I changed my meals to include more vegetables in it, even though I still love my carbs and protein. Equally important, I would often be home before everybody else, so, I would take their dog Chewy (may he rest in peace) for walks. Every time he heard me opening and closing the closet door, he knew we were going for a walk and he was SOOO excited. And walk we did. After a few months, I noticed my clothes were much looser, but never really connected to eating better and walking Chewy. It’s been 13 years now, and I’ve kept the weight off since.”

STAYING ON TRACK:  Nancy engaged in a more conscious healthful and active lifestyle, “In the last 13 years, I developed a love for rock climbing and sport climbing and hiking/climbing mountains, AND including more vegetables in my meals. Also, whenever there were plans to climb a mountain in some far-away-corner of the world, I would start physically and mentally training one year ahead of time. Training involved sprinting up the stairs in the river valley, yoga, indoor rock climbing, and running. For once in my life, I feel a love for exercising and working out, whereas before, it was an obligation or a burden. I actually feel 500% better when I have a routine involving exercise. But I noticed I am not a gym person. I find it so boring. I feel whole…I feel all the stars are aligned….when the rock and I are one.”

SUSTAINABILITY:  Since her active lifestyle became second nature to her, Nancy hasn’t found a severe adjustment in adapting to life lasting goals; “I don’t have labels on my tupperwear containers or a food scale in my kitchen. I just make sure I have a balanced meal, AND I can have anything I want (Miss Vickies chips or red velvet cupcakes) once or twice a week. I make sure my meals have an equal portion of veges, meat, and carbs. I don’t deprive or punish myself. Everything has to be in moderation. But come Christmas time….watch out!”

GREATEST SUCCESS:  Nancy’s greatest successes so far have to be her amazing mountain climbs including Mount Everest Basecamp, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua (to name a few).  She’s travelled, witnessed and been imprinted by these amazing once in a lifetime experiences.  She describes her love for climbing; “I actually love it! I’m not doing it because of health problems, for a competition, or because there are a lot of men in the sport (well, that helps). I think it was very unexpected that I found a love for climbing. I was never good at any sports when I was younger, and didn’t think I would find it as an adult. But I did. Climbing has been my greatest success. The more I climb or sprint or run, the more appreciation I have for my body, my health, and for myself.”

 Thanks for your story Nancy; you’re another inspiration to me! 

Everyone has a story. 

I’d like to learn mine.  What I most want is to simply find myself; and get good at being me.  I want to find my motivation, my commitment and my will to take a stand for myself and not waiver.  I want to discover for myself what feels good, right and healthful. I want to learn me inside out.  What fuels me, what energizes me, what inspires me.  I want to learn what I need to do for myself.  It’s difficult to start cold though, so I turned to my friends for a little guidance and some insight into how they found themselves. I approached my gurus and healthful trailblazers with questions stemming from my own challenges in fighting the chub, and they responded perfectly.  Thanks girls, I appreciate your openness and could never thank you enough!! Thanks so much for letting this monkey see what she can do….

Monkey See Monkey Do – Part II

It’s pretty amazing the transformations people are able to effect over themselves and in their own lives.  I must admit that when I see those typical “before and (ridiculously different) after” shots on infomercials, I grimace.  I subconsciously and suspiciously take them with a grain of salt.  ARE THEY SERIOUS, they’re trying to make it look easy!! Transformation is hard, almost an impossibility it seems!  I mean I know that! You know that! Doesn’t Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Herbal Magic know that?  If I order this video now I can look like what?? Better yet, if I order it in the next fifteen minutes I’ll enjoy the special offer too?? Bah! (eyeroll)  There’s certainly a disconnect from seeing results on tv and buying into those seemingly fictitious stories.  But seeing it in real life is a whole other story, believe you me, seeing is believing!

Meet my EFF Christa Krywiak-Parenteau 

I call Christa my EFF because she’s my eternal friend forever (you have to appreciate the sentiment beyond the redundancy). Christa has always been like a soul mate to me, someone I met back in high school and immediately connected with. We share so many silly and serious memories together. Despite our periods of physical disconnect, neither time nor distance seems to ever deter the incredible bond we share.  I wasn’t physically present in Christa’s life when she put on her excessive weight, but her pictures leave me speechless.  Christa successfully lost 80 pounds in just nine months!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait a minute, did you really catch that?  It isn’t smoke and mirrors, this is real:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRIGGER: Christa’s breaking point sits heavy on my heart. It’s ironic how people unintentionally kick us while we’re down, or how someone’s mindlessness can  so unexpectedly hits us like a ton of bricks.  Often though, the worst times of our lives, prove to be for the best.  This is how she explained her breaking point: “I was sitting in my chiropractors office, with no idea that the next 5 minutes was going to, literally, impact the rest of my life. The doctor walked in, looked at me and said “Wow. I wouldn’t have recognized you, you’ve gained so much weight”. I was shocked and mortified. That was on Monday March 6, 2006. The following Monday I made a major ‘lifestyle change’, and lost +80 lbs over the next 9 months. And have proudly kept (most) of it off, now, over 6 years later.”

ROAD TO SUCCESS:  Christa’s commitment is really almost unearthly!  Like flipping a coin, she managed to flip around her entire lifestyle in a weekend!  She began running every morning, without exception and followed a strict diet for the nine months it took her to lose the weight.  She describes, “A typical day for me, meal wise, was a protein shake with fresh fruit for breakfast. Fruit or vegetable for a late morning snack. A sandwich on whole grain bread for lunch. Fruit or vegetable for a late afternoon snack. Meat and vegetables for supper. and more fruit for an evening snack. Every meal had to have between 90g-120g of protein. no more, no less. And absolutley NO refined sugar of any kind. Pasta’s, BBQ sauce, ketchup, white bread etc”.  Christa generally focused on her healthy consumption of fruits and vegetables, limited her whole grain intake and ensured she physically weighed and consumed 90-120g from a protein source.

STAYING ON TRACK:  Similar to Lisa, what kept Christa committed to her plan was noticing the little changes she was experiencing and letting that momentum carry her, “I weighed myself every Monday morning. No more, no less. Seeing the weight come off every week, helped me stay focused and excited about what was happening to my body. That was all I needed to stay ‘in check’ and not go back to my old ways. And I was in such a routine with exercising and better eating habits, that after a while, it was like second nature to me. That being said, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. But definitely worth it in the end.”

SUSTAINABILITY:  Christa has come to a comfortable and great place with her body and is able to loosen the restrictive reigns but still stay in control, “I still eat very similar to the above. The main changes I have made are I have increased the amount of protein per meal and allow myself to eat refined sugar if the mood strikes.”

GREATEST SUCCESS:  Chris ran her first half marathon this year, coming from a girl who couldn’t sustain mere minutes on the treadmill! Chris is proof that anyone can condition themselves to be in any shape they want.

Again, I commend Chris on such an amazing and really no short of MIRACULOUS transformation!  Love you buddy (forever!)

Stay tuned for Monkey See Monkey Do – Part III featuring my friend Nancy

Monkey See Monkey Do – Part I

The reason that I know, somewhere deep down inside of me (deep deep down inside of me) that I can successfully transform myself is because of the amazing women I personally know, that have done it before me.  My healthful trailblazers if you will, my ex-chubby gurus.  They’ve shown me that sure, we all fall sometimes but we all can pick ourselves up. It doesn’t matter why we let ourselves go (relationships, babies, age etc) we all start from the same starting point; chubbier than we care to be.  All it truly takes is heart and commitment.

In meeting with each of them, I saw a new found energy, pride, happiness and warmth I couldn’t help bask in, almost envy.  Gosh, I am so proud of their accomplishments, speaking from personal experience this past year, it’s no small feat!  But their examples so make me want to strive for their level of success; catch it like a contagious cold!  I want to be so overcome and so inspired by their stories that I’m left with no choice and no excuses but to succeed the way they have.

These women aren’t superstars.  These aren’t Janet Jackson types fluctuating at the drop of a new single; or Jessica Albas losing baby weight a mere months after giving birth.  There are no personal chefs or highly paid fitness trainers at their beckon call. These are everyday normal women who just simply chose to undo the damage and commit to the cause of caring for themselves.  They tell me it’s not easy, but that it’s worth it.  Judging from the way they shine now, I have not the slightest doubt otherwise. I truly do love my friends, the wonderful companions God intended into my life.

I appreciate their shining examples and use it as encouragement along my journey.  Like friends lining my path with cups of water encouraging me not to stop running until I hit that finish line.  Like a night of defeat fading into the hope of a new morning; they help me see the potential of accomplishing this battle despite my constant setbacks.  I realize though that at the end of the day I cannot mirror what they’ve done; but can eagerly blaze my own path the way they have theirs.  Real life inspiration is amazing because it is, just that, real life. We’re all in the same boat; real life. Some however are stuck in it, some are living it, while others are creating it.  I would like to feature three of my beautiful, inspirational healthful trailblazers.  I’ll start with Lisa.

Meet my beautiful friend Lisa Dutchak:

Lisa and I worked at the Edmonton House Suite hotel together way back when.  It was a reckless, carefree and wonderful time of being young and experimental. Did I mention the Edmonton Eskimos and Oilers use to contract there…(wink wink).. Not only could we quickly check someone in with amazing customer service and efficiency, we managed to check out all the eye candy in between (an unwritten job perk).  Lisa and I managed to keep in touch here and there over the years, but when we reconnected again last summer I was ASTOUNDED by her transformation, not only physically but emotionally too.  She scoffs when I tell her how much she’s grown over the years, saying that she would expect to, over a 12 year period!  But her growth far surpasses people I know far older than she.  Lisa, to date has lost 65lbs and 33 inches. While she hasn’t yet attained her preferred end goal, she certainly has come farther than I could have imagined possible.

 

 TRIGGER:  It seems that there is always a trigger that prompts someone into at least the consideration of change.  For Lisa, the trigger was the realization that she was starting to buy bigger clothes, as she puts it “again”.  She had gotten to a point where she couldn’t stand looking at pictures of herself, and when even her head shots made her cringe, she knew she had gone too far and needed to change.

ROAD TO SUCCESS:  How did she start out?  Lisa opted for a low calorie diet of 1200 calories/day.  She would have a Visalus shake for breakfast and for lunch, and then a sensible dinner and snack. She found that logging her daily intake of calories allowed her to be more accountable and responsible for what she was putting into her mouth.  Despite Lisa starting her weight loss journey in September 2011, she didn’t start regularly exercising until January 2012. She started off my walking on the treadmill and then explored Jillian Michael DVD’s and Zumba.

STAYING ON TRACK:  What kept Lisa motivated were the small successes she celebrated along the way.  The first was being able to fit into her smaller clothes again and being able to pack away her “fat” clothes….for good.  She described the awesome feeling of buying new clothes and walking into a “skinny girl” store to find them being new and euphoric for her; making it worth the commitment of staying on track.  She found her new lifestyle becoming a proud and contagious habit for her.  The positive reinforcement internally, along with the external recognition she was receiving from people around her certainly helped her keep her eye on the prize.

To Lisa though, fitness and health weren’t just a passing fad or a quick fix, as she puts it: “Educating myself about fitness and nutrition is 100% what has kept me from going back to my old ways. So many people, especially women, are under the impression that they have to eat next to nothing and do an insane amount of cardio which is simply not the case. A true lifestyle change is a journey. It doesn’t take you 2 months to gain a pile of weight, so why would it take 2 months to lose (and keep off) that same weight.”

SUSTAINABILITY:   Lisa’s transformation has been constant and consistent.  Her changes have been permanent and long lasting.  As she puts it in her own words, “The way I do things now are very different from when I started! I have learned so much and have realized that the only sustainable way for me to lose weight and keep it off is by really changing my lifestyle. By eating enough and eating clean (although I still track my calories and use my kitchen scale every day!) and by really pushing myself physically. I have learned that killing myself with cardio will not necessarily produce the results that I want, but that hitting the weights and lifting heavy will! I still eat things I love, but in moderation. And although I have come so far, I have also realized that I still struggle with my relationship with food; that is something that I think I will battle forever.”

GREATEST SUCCESS SO FAR:  Lisa quit smoking!  Lisa came to realize the contradiction and eventual impossibility of being a fitness nut addicted to smoking.

I’m proud of you Lis! Thanks for being one of my real life inspirations!

Stay tuned for Monkey See Monkey Do – Part II featuring my EFF Christa

It’s Time to Get Real in Real Time

Are we living in an age of inauthenticity?

We are in a time where a click of a button seemingly erases a person from our lives.  Does it successfully also undo our experiences with them? Erase our memories of them? Reverse their impact in our lives? Does deleting a friend off of facebook mean the same thing in real life as it does in the computer world? Do you think the click of your button is going to impact me?  Isn’t it strange that we’ve bought into the notion that it might?

Facebook took the forethought out of approval, values and expression….now the moment we see the opportunity to like something, even before our brains necessarily compute the image, we can, with just the click of a button.  We like a picture and feign support when the truth of the matter is, we’re more than likely indifferent to the foamy picture on Jill’s cappuccino.  We can frivolously like a picture for it’s snazzy colors before we actually read the wording, understand the principle behind it, or see the pedophile who posted it.  But the message we send out is support and validation? Did we mean to?  It takes the thought and intention out of connection or relation.  It reduces feeling and expression to “like” – we can like it without actually liking it. 

Haven’t we then in someway become automatic and externally managed? Haven’t we lost our individuality on some level because of the limits and restraints of the programs we use – I mean come on, there are only so many emoticons, only so many lines a person will read on a quick home page perusal – we become conditioned to live, think, respond, act and feel within this box; our computer (or your IPAD if you prefer, since my fiancé refuses to allow me to call his a computer)….We’ve become puppets, but who’s the puppeteer, Mark Zuckerberg? Apple? If I don’t repost this status does that mean I really don’t support the cause for cancer? Come on.

Does 10 likes only mean mediocre support?  Does 25 likes make me popular?  Does over 50 make up for not being part of the cool crowd back in junior high? We’ve started living our lives on a public forum less the incessant paparazzi and lavish homes in L.A.  Doesn’t it seem on some level that in general, technology has conditioned us to behave in ways we didn’t intentionally choose?

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m exaggerating the issue to make a point.  But then again there is a nagging part of me that wonders if I’ve lost part of myself in this way.  I do agree that our electronic means is certainly knowledge sharing, life sharing and life affirming, I mean what better way to run out Joseph Kony or massively share new quinoa baking ideas?  I can’t forget that I met my fiancé on facebook, but fortunately he suggested an in person meet up just a few messages into our online introduction. 

I nostalgically think back on the days of spending more time looking at a person’s face then looking at a screen.  I remember the times when I was more prone to face, confront and work through problems, when now a days it seems easier to write off, run from or vent online.  Somehow we’ve reduced everything to bare bones; the easiest and quickest fix; the most convenient.  Remember when facebook was just out, a novelty that hadn’t really penetrated our culture or invaded our lives?  The occasional escape is turning into a new reality. Our secret voyeuristic tendencies are becoming acceptable everyday activities.  I care too much about what other people are up to and how these other people might be perceiving me than what I’m actually up to and how I’m perceiving myself.  Don’t we untag pictures of ourselves that we hate?   Don’t we pose with an arm on our hip because it makes our arms look smaller.  Don’t we know those that take a thousand pictures to post one good one.  But we’ll graciously accept these false accolades, and continue being whoever we think we’re being and whoever everyone thinks we’re being – without necessarily being ourselves.  I can fake being whoever I want to be.  You can fake being whoever you want to be and I’ll naively believe it!  And we can all live our merry little lives in this online bubble.

It’s ironic because the accessibility of these online communications has brought me spatially closer to people I’ve been distant from for years.  Reconnected me to high school friends, past employers, junior high crushes that I would probably never have otherwise crossed paths with again.  Keeps my past loves out of heart, but in sight.  Absurdly keeps all of my life’s experiences at my fingertips; but seeing everything on screen makes me an observer, not the player anymore.  I can calculate, analyze, judge and change my mind a thousand times before I click a button or type a status. Which means I can practice to perfection until I choose to raise the curtains, it’s like rehearsing real life in real time before actually living.  Rehearsal for real life? It’s actually a really strange concept and phenomenon if you stop and really think about it. But somehow human beings have managed to create and do the impossible, manipulate living in real time.

I do need and want technology. My sister lives in Texas with my beautiful nieces and nephew.  I have family in India,Texas and throughout the States, my cousins live in south side….I want facebook and facetime to connect with them in ways not reliant on Canada Post timelines, back logs and drives down the Anthony Henday.  I do want instant updates and notices. 

 I just don’t want these to inadvertently create contrived interactions, inauthentic love, or superficial support; I don’t want to create or respond from an inauthentic me; and I’m afraid that the conveniences of “artificial” communication unintentionally and perhaps over time undermines my own authenticity. 

I just think it’s time to look deeper at where I’m at, what I’m investing my time in and the cost (or gains) of these investments.

 Time is precious not a commodity.

Why do people unplug? Maybe they are too busy living. Anyway, I’m going to wrap this up, it’s probably been a couple of hours since I last lol’d somebody’s e-card status.

AHA!

October 16, 2012

It dawns on me last night, that I have acquired ways of keeping myself chubby.

I’ve unintentionally morphed chubby choices into really bad engrained habits and ways of being.   But unbeknownst to me, these choices keep me on the hamster wheel week to week and create my “New Years resolutions” every Monday.  I say unbeknownst because these damn choices have come to feel so natural, comfortable and second nature for me that I stopped seeing them as a problem or out of the ordinary.

Hmmmm, funny how chubby choices sneak up on us and slip a pill in our drink while we’re not looking, so that we barely notice when they become a part of our regular routine.  It’s probably like developing any habit, practice it long enough and ACK one day you default into these behaviours without even a second thought.  Being chubby just happens for me now.  What are some of the chubby choices I’ve made that have turned into my chubby habits?

The Keg, Chiantis, Stephanies, Yannis, Julios Barrio, Red Robins to name but a few.  I mean what’s dating without dates?  And what is a typical date?  Dinner!  When Jason and I were first getting together we spent a lot of time getting to know each other over good food and glasses of wine. I probably started with healthier choices back in our early days (I mean isn’t rule #1 of dating never to order wings on a first date??) So I probably femininely chose healthier options like salads and lean meats (I was dating a fitness trainer for Gosh sake!).  But sure enough, somewhere down the line, a side salad turned into a shared platter of fried calamari, wings and other deep fried delectables that have left imprints on my thighs.  The chubby choice of eating out created a default habit of eating out waaaay to much.

(Yawn and a big stretch)  Sorry, I’m sooooo tired.  It’s about that time of the afternoon where I’ve HIT THE WALL AGAIN.  What was I saying?  Oh ya, my next chubby choice, going to bed too late!

But I mean, who can sleep with the excitement of new love?  Come on, the sun’s shining brighter, the birds are chirping, and I’m on top of the world even if I’ve only slept 4-6 hours! Dating Jason in those beginning days, given his very busy schedule was like dating a whirlwind of constant activity.  Meshing our two schedules made for late nights and vampire ways of being.  And sure, that was all fun and games until sleeplessness morphed into a bad habit.  My once usual practice of sleeping 8 hours a night has now turned into a once in a blue moon miracle.  I use to wind down my evenings early with a good book and be sleeping by 9p.  Now a days, I’ve blindly filled the later hours of my evenings with more errands and an endless list of things to do (and I don’t even have kids yet!!)

***Sleeping less totally makes me feel less motivated and more susceptible to bad food choices….who am I kidding, I mean BINGE sessions.

***Waking up tired in the mornings makes putting off workouts inevitable.

***Not working out makes eating out justifiable, because of the mentality that “I’m already off today, I’ll just start better tomorrow”.

***Committing to tomorrow makes today a day that doesn’t actually count.

So in this “free” unaccountable day I will eat all I want, savour everything I could possibly crave on the expectation that I won’t be having it for a long time to come – Dad? You need me to come over?  Be there soon.  Oh wait, I’ll need to come back and do laundry – gotta walk the dog – crap I need to get more gas – thank God I’ve pvr’d my show tonight, I can’t wait to watch it when I get home – yup, another late night – Lo and behold the next morning I’m tired again, oops, I forgot to meal plan and get groceries – oh well, maybe I’ll just have to commit to another tomorrow and enjoy just one last free day….

 

WAIT A MINUTE, these chubby choices become my new chubby brown girl way of being…..

I remember when I use to sleep well, eat out less and find any hour in the day to workout. I use to make healthier choices that use to set me up for success.  I realize now that it’s time to break these bad ways of being; stop the familiar patterns that my chubby choices spawned.

Hmmm, I think I’m getting somewhere here.

What matters isn’t tomorrow, but today.  Waiting for tomorrow is like banking borrowed time, like living glamorously on credit, like foolishly waiting for someone to make a move without making one myself….

The illusion of promising myself a tomorrow and throwing away today is no different than the junkie that needs one last hit or the smoker that is only going to buy one last pack…the abuser who apologizes just one last time and the abused giving that one last chance.  The commitment to tomorrow is only an illusion.  If I don’t care today I won’t care tomorrow. If I choose bad today, I will suffer tomorrow.  The only thing that matters for tomorrow is my today.

I feel an AHA coming on…..

 “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look to another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this” Henry David Thoreau

 “Life is a series of choices that are made in the present moment” Darren Main

 My past chubby choices have turned into my habits of today which I keep thinking I’ll fix tomorrow….but the illusive tomorrow never happens the way I think it’s going to….no wonder!  Let me stop, take a minute and really take this in, what am I choosing today?

 

 

“MY DRIED UP FOUNTAIN OF ETERNAL YOUTH”

September 12, 2012

Wow had an interesting experience this afternoon.  Let me preface this with the fact that it’s that time of the month for me.  No, not bill time – “Aunt Flo” time.  I mean, don’t I get a “eat what you want” free pass right now? You know, the same one women get when they get pregnant – it’s the least life could give us, “eat what you want free passes” every time we go through these forced hormonal, emotional and physical changes.

Anyway, I indulged a little today.  Okay, indulged a lot.  I started the morning off well.  Had some oatmeal, and packed a series of small meals to take with me to work (boiled egg, cauliflower, salad, roasted chicken, orange and a yogurt).  But come mid morning I felt ravenously hungry, but it wasn’t a physical hunger it was a crraavvvinnggg.  So I pulled out my daily planner, counted back, and AHA, here we are, in the week of welcoming Aunt Flo again. I mean come on, I can’t be expected to not indulge at this time.  So I had a bag of chips, a burger with sweet potato fries for lunch then downed a couple of peanut butter cookies for snack….and the most horrible thing happened….

I was walking to the other side of the office later in the afternoon, and physically felt myself get winded, by WALKING.  I had shortness of breath, seriously, from walking in my heels!  Was it an allergy? Am I really at that point now where I get winded by walking?  It was pathetic.  My empathies for all over weight women who experience this. It’s embarrassing! I was even trying to pace my breathing while I was talking to people today too….hoping that no one noticed how awkward I felt trying to mask the intentional pacing of my breath.  Weird, gross, embarrassing, strange are but a few of the words I can come up with to describe today.

I had lost 5lbs, but I’m sure over the past few days I’ve probably put on a couple, which means then, that I’m only a couple of pounds down.  I’m a yoyo.  I realize today, that I don’t want to be this yoyo.  I don’t want it to be a constant give and take of a couple of pounds. What do I need to do to make it deeper than these superficial gains and losses? What will it take to actually accomplish a transformation?  Is it perspective?  Is it just sheer determination? Am I missing some connection between food and myself?

Frankly, being overweight makes me want to believe that I must be internally unhappy, in such a way that I’m using food to compensate.  But when I look at my life and where I am, sure there’s been much up and down, but I’m not unhappy.  I’m actually quite happy and feeling blessed.  So why then am I being so abusive and toxic to my body?  Why am I eating until I’m winded??

My other theory is, maybe I am in the throes of a transitionary period, transitioning out of my twenties and early thirties.  Hmmm, how should I refer to that time?  “Eternal Youth” It didn’t matter how I treated my body, what I fed it, how many hours I slept – I functioned perfectly.  Use and abuse.  Oh goodness, I recall the days of late nights, clubs, fast food for lunch, fast food in the middle of the night – soundly sleeping until mid-afternoon, working early shifts on mere hours of sleep, tight clothes, short shorts…

Those days are long gone.  I’ve deliberately enforced certain things to accommodate the ways that I’ve evolved.  I make it a point to sleep more knowing that I need sleep to function productively the next day.  I’ve learnt to manage my money more responsibly and not live on the virtues of the ever abundant well of credit.  I’ve learnt to speak my voice because people pleasing felt good to everyone but me.  I’ve learnt to ask for what I want and need from people because my past passive aggressive ways only cause more conflict than peace.  I’ve let go of acquaintances to invest the time into real friendships.  I’ve challenged some of my “childish” behaviours, stopped holding on to things that I held on to for years, dogmas, beliefs, apprehensions, friends….because it wasn’t reasonable to keep them anymore.   I don’t like everybody, I don’t need to pretend I do, I don’t really care what everyone thinks of me, as long as the ones I love, love me.  I will act fairly, no more yet no less.  I do think God and spirituality is more than fervent praying for what I want and a balance sheet of rights and wrongs. It is possible to outgrow friends.   I realize my parents won’t live forever.  I buy “age appropriate” clothes.

So much had to evolve out of my “eternal youth” stage into my “It’s My Life” stage; the preparation and acknowledgement that I am responsible for everything I put it, everything I take out; my life relies on me.  I’m sure most people have reached this stage much earlier in their lives, unfortunately, but it’s no surprise, I’ve always been a late bloomer.

The one thing though, that hasn’t evolved is the way I treat my body.  Well, let me correct myself; I don’t drink until I’m sick, I don’t smoke cigarettes, I take my make up off before I go to sleep, I moisturize, I consciously drink more water, I use sensitive toothpaste and make sure I see my Dentist regularly, I don’t drink coffee before I take a blood test… but I still eat like I’ve bottled some of that “Eternal Youth”; as if I take a swig of it now and then to counter my indulgences and inconsistencies.  I do really want to learn how to transform these patterns, mature mentally to allow myself to evolve in this aspect like all those others….why aren’t I growing up??

“Happy New Year”

Monday August 20, 2012

Ever have an emotional hangover coupled with a food overdose?  This is me this morning.  I’m shaking off the fog, after coming off a semi high school reunion over the weekend, in which everyone looked exactly the same as almost twenty years ago, less myself who unusually was the only person who has let themselves go on any level….who one of the attendees so keenly acknowledged with an out loud “you got chubby”…This followed by three days of emotional eating, self pity, frustration, anger, ego over compensation then ego collapse, here I am, Monday morning recommitting to new goals and resolutions….Happy New Years!  I wonder if I can own it?  Whenever anyone mentions weight, a part of me secretly hopes they guesstimate me twenty pounds lighter than I actually am.  Sadly, a guy at work actually did that.  I don’t remember what we were talking about but he referred to my weight (well my pretend ideal weight, 120lbs) as if he were bang on, and instead of correcting him I secretly rejoiced and celebrated the seductive illusion of empire waist/baby doll tops.  I never tell anyone my actual weight.  When I went in for my annual physical a couple of weeks ago, I think I actually gave the nurse a dirty look when she weighed me and repeated my weight OUTLOUD prior to recording it into my chart. Uh hellloooo, a little privacy anyone?  As if her saying it outloud was the actual offense, as if George calling me out over the weekend is the real problem….sigh…..it’s obviously me.

I doubt concealing my weight (better than a CIA agent conceals classified information) truly serves me.  Maybe it is some subconscious form of denial.  A masquerade if you will.  If I don’t say it, they won’t actually see it…..well, this weekend proves otherwise.  So I think today, I may try and own it.  Maybe if I wear it, I’ll be the one to actually see it, and maybe in actually seeing it, will I be able to transform it.  (Note that I purposely did not use the word “change” it, because really the claim that people “never change” will just be another justification I end up using down the road for why I never lost the weight…..)

Okay, (big breath in), this morning I am 147.2lbs.  I am twenty pounds heavier than I would like to be, then I use to be.  Use to be was just last March 2011 when I went to Jamaica for my best friend’s wedding.  I actually wore a bikini, comfortably!  I’m not sure what’s happened from then to now to justify the weight, other than me saying, I found a man, got engaged and am now fat and happy! Which trust me, I know is a bogus response.  I just let myself go.  No rhyme or reason.  I just did.  I’ve lived my whole life skinny, fit, healthy, athletic, confident….and my past 17 months have been some hybrid form of denial, illusion and limbo. I got fat, I’m pretending I didn’t, I hope no one notices, I think that I’ll lose it when I want – but I haven’t and I feel like I can’t then it dawns on me,  I got fat, I’m pretending I didn’t, I hope no one notices, I think I’ll lose it when I want….and so the cycle goes.

You know the way they say, when you get shot, your body goes into a state of shock, which allows you to stop feeling the pain?  I think that desensitization is also our body’s way of allowing us to absorb numbers on a weight scale without immediately jumping off a cliff.  It’s funny, I recall last December when my weight started to go up to 138lbs, and I thought to myself “wow, I better stop this eating right after the holidays” and not let myself get over 140lbs….but then I almost got use to numbers creeping up and it started to phase me less, and I started to think – wow, better not get over 150lbs!  I bet this is how any girl puts on weight.  The numbers keep creeping, and we become desensitized to it until one day we go to a high school reunion and someone calls out us in front of the crowd…..sigh. It’s okay, I’ve known George for over twenty years, I’m going to try really hard not to hate him. Maybe he can be that catalyst that helped me transform myself.

I think that I just really like food.  I think that I really like tasty food.  I think that I get lazy and in certain moods sometimes and just want to eat and eat and eat.  I think Jason and I just enjoy eating out too much.  I loooovvee chips and chocolate.  My latest soft spot is the Billy Miner Pie at the Keg which is a yummy spin off of the Mocha Mud Pie from Maxwell Taylors that I fondly recollect from the 90’s. Five weeks ago I started the Body for Life Program.  A program I used 10 years ago which helped me get down from 115 lbs to a thin 101 lbs.  It’s a great program that miraculously incorporates one free binge day each week….unfortunately, I’m having a hard time enjoying just one free day a week.  The lowest I’ve gotten down to on this program this time around is 145.4lbs from my highest of 149.3lbs.  I’m hoping that this morning’s weight is a product of salt and not my three day free day this weekend.

Sigh, it’s all just numbers isn’t it?  The battle of the numbers!  One pound up, two pounds down, half a pound down, three pounds up….but this is where I’m at right now.  It’s not really about health, energy, my soul, peace of mind, wholeness, balance…..it’s about the number on my weight scale.  I don’t want to weigh 147.2lbs, I want to weight 125ish, hell I’d even be happy with a 130! I don’t know why I’ve put on weight, I don’t know if it’s a reflection of something deeper going on inside of me.  I don’t want to dig deeper right now, I just want to start right here, right now, I want the number on the scale to be lighter.

And really, what works?  I’ve carried pictures of myself around of what I use to look like, I take measurements, highlight goals….but everything succumbs to my decision of “eff it, I’ll start again tomorrow”.  So I’m not sure how I’ll transform that going forward.  I guess I’ll just log it and we’ll see where this goes.

So my starting point:

Weight: 147.2

 

 

My goal today will be to get some healthy groceries in line with my Body for Life Program, I want to go for a run and start fresh today. Thank God I’m on vacation, plenty of time to drink coffee this morning, reflect on this weekend and get my day started.  I hope other people are in the same boat that I am and today are also celebrating this fine New Year’s Day.