Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Big Boned, Nordic Girl....SO WHAT!!!!

Big Boned”….”Bigger Girl”… “Nordic Girl”…”Curvy”… these are all terms that have been used to describe my body type over the years…
 With my father being a bodybuilder and mother a figure skating coach, there was a heavy emphasis on esthetics and athletics in our household growing up.
What and how much I ate was monitored from as early as I can remember. At 12 I was enrolled in weight watchers and it became strikingly clear that I was too much and not enough all at the same time.
 At the age of 14 I discovered bulimia, which I thought was the  ‘winning’ diet ticket. However, that ticket was actually a disease that I’ve continued  battle  even to this day.
 When I was 16 I was told, “If you could just loose 5lbs you would be perfect.” One of the best ones came at 25 from my vocal coach.  She told me my voice was great but “you will never make it because you are too big”. Unfortunately I gave these words power and have let them define and control much of my internal dialogue and sense of worth, for years.

                                              Here I am with my Brothers at 14 years old

 Why am I still that little 10 year old trying to prove that I am enough? Why have I put so much energy and time trying to control my weight and food? Has this brought me happiness, peace and health?
 What if I just embraced my “Big Boned, Curvy, Nordic, Self”? More importantly what is even wrong with those definitions?
 How many hours have I spent not loving the amazing body I have been given simply because of someone else’s words?
 I want my daughter to see me as a woman who loves and respects herself – and especially her body. I would be devastated if she spent wasted years not loving her precious little body because of my influence.
I do watch my language when speaking about our bodies- and we never critique anyone’s physical stature.  I never monitor what or how much she eats as she gets lots of healthy foods and enjoys the occasional treat too – it’s all about balance.
 I want a life of health, vibrancy and happiness. In order to achieve that, I understand it requires a commitment to physical activity and nutritious foods. If that means I have some curves - then so be it!
 I challenge you to STOP letting negative words and harsh criticism of others define you. Cherish the amazing body you have been given, and don’t let anyone’s past definitions determine your self-worth.

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Monday, 10 November 2014

Balance; 10 Tips That Work for Me...

What an amazing weekend I had at the West Coast Women's Show.  I was given the opportunity to speak on the Health and Wellness stage. After some debate I chose the topic of Finding Balance.  As this is an issue I have really struggled with in all aspects of my life.
 I have a series of 10 tips that I have began to follow that I find help me maintain a certain sense of balance with being a working full time mom and an athlete.
   Over the years I found that this is a common theme with other women.  Family, work, love life, household duties, fitness, friends, and the desire to be good enough and well.....it is a challenge to say the least.
When I was a trainer/coach my clients would work so hard to achieve their fitness goals. Once these were achieved and their sessions ended,  9 times out of 10 clients would return in a month or so back to their original weight or lifestyle. 
So the question I began to ask was "Why?" "Why can't we reach our goals in Fitness and maintain them?" "Why do our physical goals tend to fade away"?  
Even for myself I would reach a fitness goal but had difficulty maintaining it. 
   What I realized is balance was missing in our goals.  We had not created this as our lifestyle but rather our "wedding diet", "mexico diet", reunion diet and once we were finished we...well returned back to what we knew.
So the question is "How do we reach our goals and then maintain a lifestyle that is balanced"?

 Now to some my life does not seem balanced,  so how could I speak on such a topic when I train pretty much every day, eat very healthy, live a fairly regimented life and tend to seem "extreme".  However, I am not advocating following what works for me, what I am encouraging people/women is to find is their own balance...Mine is not yours and vis vera....
My fitness goals are Health, Vitality, Strength,  Feeling Sexy and Great in a pair of Jeans, not spending hours in the gym and enjoying my life in the process. 
I am willing to do the work, but I want the results. So I tailored my plan to achieve and maintain theses goals. This is not saying that I am 100% balanced all the time but these 10 tips it makes it much easier.

I am hoping that in applying them to your lifestyle they also work for you..

1: Put Yourself First
     With everything women do on a day to day basis, we seldom put ourselves first on the list. I am not advocating abandoning your children but rather take that 30 min for yourself. I often felt guilty when I put Mekaella in child minding at the gym after she had just spent the day at daycare. My Mommy guilt was high. However, what I found is I am a better mother and more present when I give that time to myself.

2: Gratitude
   Be grateful for where you are. You will not get to your goal overnight (no matter what those late night infomercials tell you). Be thankful for every part of yourself exactly where you are, spending extra energy hating your body or situation is a waste and gets you nowhere. Start working towards your goals by taking baby steps. This was paramount for me when I started on my weight loss journey. I had to love all 200lbs of myself, if I wanted to move towards 150lbs and sometimes....it was really hard but I kept being thankful for every imperfection...after all they are mine...

3: Goals
   Creating goals in every aspect of your life,  not only gives you a direction in which you are heading,  but also keeps you focused on those days when it seems as things are not shifting. I have an end vision of what I want to create and I have to put the work in each and everyday to get there.  Once I reach that goal I need to redirect my goals and create new ones.

4: Food and You..
    One of the biggest challenges I face is mindless eating....you know what I'm talking about...a jar of peanut butter...with no real hunger just boredom and a spoon. I still catch myself being unmindful with food. Taking the time to really enjoy what you are eating and not just standing in the kitchen picking because you are stressed or bored.
   A big part of food is to really understand you are what you eat. I wish I could tell you that you can eat cupcakes and look fit, but unless you are an anomaly (and certainly I would NOT be friends with you...LOL) it is most likely not going to happen.
You don't need to be a certain size, or weight,  but to have health, energy, and feel good in your skin, fuelling your body with the proper nutrients is what it takes.
Make sure you are eating protein with each meal. Your body uses protein to create lean muscle which speeds up your metabolism (which means Fat loss…Yippee..).  
Having healthy fats (Nuts, coconut oil, olive oil) will help with heart health, lowering risk of diabetes and weight loss!
Your low glycemic carbs are needed for energy (whole grains, yams, brown rice).  Enjoy these earlier in the day so your body utilizes them and they will not be stored as fat ( i.e.: dinner and last meals of evening try to have more protein and veg).
I follow the 80/20 rule...80% of the time I follow a plan with my food.  I eat 20grms of protein per meal, keep my carbs earlier in the day and have good fats in my diet.  However 20% is my time! When I can and I DO….
I indulge and enjoy my glass of wine and dark chocolate...oh and Aged Cheddar cheese…LOVE CHEESE!
But I do know that in order to find a balance I only have these treats 20% of the time. The rest of the time I fuel my body with healthy and nutritious food..

5: Prepare to Win
    As I pack Mekaella's lunch each day for school,  I also pack my own lunch. This ensures that I have my snacks and meals and that I do not make unhealthy choices, which falls in line with my 80/20 rule. If I end up eating out I always choose salads, or vegetables with a lean protein and dressing on the side. It does not take long to prepare your food and snacks for the day, I tend to eat the same things for simplicity sake.  I challenge you to try to start packing your snacks and meals.  It takes 21 days to form a habit.  See how easy it will become.

6: Water
    I notice a profound difference when I drink my gallon of water per day.  My skin glows,  I feel clear headed, not to mention it helps with weight loss, regular bowel movements, the list goes on and on...I challenge you to drink a Gallon a Day.  Take a before and after pic and send it to me, you will be astounded!

7: Use Your Body
     My playground has always been the gym; I love weights, cardio equipment, classes and the energy.  If you are a person who does not like the gym I suggest you find another activity, think back when you were a kid, what did you like to do?
There are so many wonderful adult activities available such as join a baseball team, go rollerblading, swimming, hiking, walking, playing with your children. The list is endless but the idea is the same...move your body!!
My last Fitness show I decided to use one of my cardio sessions to Rollerblade with my daughter.  Now would I burn more calories than doing sprints? Yes..... but I enjoyed having those moments with my daughter far more then the monotonous stairs and I guarantee my stress levels were lower.

8: Sleep
   We need an average of 7-9hrs a night and with everything in our days I know many a night my head is spinning with “To do Lists” instead of counting sheep.
We all know how we feel when we don't have enough sleep; tired, grumpy, slow, and foggy.  The list goes on and on. But who knew that sleep also helps with weight loss?  
Lack of sleep slows down your metabolism. It lowers your bodies’ ability to release Leptin which is a hormone that says "I'm full". Add to the equation it also increase's production of the hormone Ghrenlin which is what tells your body it is hungry. So you feel hungry, foggy, grumpy and further insult some lovely dark bags under your eyes. The saying "Beauty Sleep" now makes complete sense.

9: Supplements
     Supplements are there to do exactly what they say...Supplement your diet. My daily foundation supplements include OmegaEssentials Fish Oils, HCP 70 Probiotics, Vegegreens and Precision Whey Isolate protein powder.
However, I have Supplements that help at different stages while I work towards my fitness and weight loss goals.
Green Coffee Bean; stabilizes my Blood Sugar Levels, Raspberry Ketones; speeds up my metabolism and Garcinia which taken 30-60 min before you eat creating a sense of fullness so you don’t eat as much.  I use especially at that time of the month when I am constantly hungry.
On special treat nights White Kidney Bean, which block up to 80% of your starchy carbs is my go to!!!
Recently, I added Rhodiola to support my adrenals. This helps with increased energy, improved mood and increased libido!!

10: Your Plan
    In the end this is your life.... every glorious second of it...so I ask  are you being your best? Are you challenging yourself each day to better yourself? What is stopping you?
I wanted to be a positive example to my daughter but more than that,  I wanted to be an example to myself of what I could do and accomplish...
Some days I am good and some days I could be better,  but each day I use these steps to keep me on track toward my goals…
No dream is too big, but it happens at one step at a time…Be patient.  Love yourself.  If you fall off get right back on.  I know you can do it…
And as I tell my daughter each day “Go Be Brilliant”

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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

My Beloved...

I attended a workshop recently where we were asked to write a letter to our Beloved, in this letter we were told be as detailed as possible, what your hopes and dreams are for this person, what their life looks life, relationships, friends, job, home, everything you could possible think of.
I choose to write to my 6 year old Mekaella, I must say it was quite emotional because as you start to think of all you wish for your Beloved to have in their life,  it comes from such a place of love and hope.

Below is my letter to my Munchkin...

"My dear sweet Mekaella, I want for you to have a Full Life and be Full of Life, to be a dream chaser, follow your heart, listen to that inner voice that tells you yes or no and honour that, not listen to anyone who tells you can't, be wise, be kind, do not apologize for standing your ground, do not back down from conflict but rather step up to the plate and speak your truth, be giving, write lists of goals and enjoy crossing each of them off,  be a Women people Respect and Admire and above all LOVE yourself.....EVERY INCH, Every Pound, Every Imperfection, Every Fault...know all this is part of who you are, every step taken is part of your wonderful journey....and there is only one of you EVER....Embrace yourself...
Follow through with Post Secondary Education, attending University is a wonderful growing time and someday those extra letters behind your name will be beneficial.
 I want you to find a career where you are able to use your incredible leadership qualities to shine, I see you as a CEO,  someone who is respected, driven, hard working but who also knows when to take a much needed break and take care of herself.
Travel and see the world go backpacking through Europe and use your French speaking skills you have acquired.
Love fiercely and be loved unconditionally, NEVER SETTLE,  your partner will value you, encourage you, respect you and your choices, and to challenge you to be your best.
Create a home that "Rises to meet you" which gives you great peace, where you have many laughs and hopefully few tears.
Friends that love you as sisters, sticking it out through thick and thin where your connection is deep and everlasting, when you have not seen them in ages it feels as though no time as passed.
To enjoy the pleasure of having children and watch them grow and learn as I have had the pleasure of watching you.
To be healthy, appreciate this amazing body you have, to reach for physical goals that challenge you but do not define you.
To understand that you are connected to all that is and as Pierre Teilhard says "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
This is your journey my sweet little girl....I pray and hope that you embrace every wild and amazing second of it..."

Later in the day we were instructed to read back our letter, because this letter was in fact a letter to ourselves, as all our hopes and dreams we have for our Beloved are actually our own.
I broke down and cried as had I been instructed to write a letter to myself it would have consisted more along the lines if a "List of Things to Do"
1:Chfa orders,
2:pay off debt,
3:buy a new house etc...
Now I would have gone into more details,  however I can be completely honest in saying I would not have expressed the letter with such Tenderness...
Why is that?
Why can I not give myself the Love, Hope and Caring that I would give to my Beloved?
I am well aware that when only when I Love myself and put myself first can I then give and love others to my full potential...
Yet putting those well known facts into play usually does not happen...

This exercise was very eye opening for me....I now have a copy of the letter beside my computer to look at each day to remind myself of my hopes and dreams.....I am my Beloved

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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Gratitude...Not so easy sometimes...

This past month of Sept was one of the most challenging month's for me, I was on the go for work, we have our huge annual trade show and the pressure to reach sales targets are constant,  I cracked a rib while trying an epic dance move on a VIP couch (fail), developed a rash from the pain killers and was so itching I almost took off a layer of my skin, was served paper's by my ex who is going after custody of my daughter along with child support and to top it off I have decided to sell my house and we have an offer on a bigger place across the street.
    In the midst of all this I found myself thinking "What next" and "This is a brutal month" I felt beat down, tired.  The most important issue in all of this was in regards to my daughter, she is my top priority, so I had to push everything else aside and focus on the court case (beside scratching myself obsessively) .
   After our first lawyer meeting I had complete breakdown, Scott has never seen me loose it like that. I try as most Mom's or Dad's do, to give my best to my "Most Favourite Little Person in the Whole Wide World" (as I call her). The thought of not seeing her beautiful little face and hearing her voice ask me random questions like "Mommy do Blind people have eyeballs" on a daily basis, literally kills me.
   Now I won't get in to specifics but after 2 court appearances and a very large sum of money (next lifetime I'm coming back as a lawyer...just saying)  I am still the primary caregiver but this is probably far from over. I have never been a person of conflict which is probably why I just "Let things Ride" when in fact I should have started this proceeding myself years ago.  I felt at my wits end several weeks ago, I did not know how I was going to get through this, the costs of the lawyer, the time, the emotional strain was enormous.
   What has gotten me through all this is being Grateful...it sounds strange but even in the midst of the court hearing I gave thanks "Thank you for our legal system in Canada that I can goto court" "Thank you for this judge and all his wisdom" "Thank you for my lawyer and her knowledge and experience" even "Thank you for my ex"(that was a more challenging thank you...LOL).  Though this has been the most upsetting event in my life I am thankful that I have my little person who I never would have known had it not been for him. 
  You know what....in all the stress and anger things became easier....I felt at peace....I became thankful for this situation and all it is going to be.  I do believe everything is a lesson and a step to who you are supposed to become.  I cannot get to where I am going unless I walk through this, as this will take me to my next part of my journey.
 Since putting more gratitude in my life Mekaella and I have now started saying One thing we are grateful for on our way to school, and I am now trying to look at every situation from the eyes of being thankful...

   So for you who is reading this little blog...Thank you...I hope you can look at all the craziness going on in your world through the eyes of gratitude as it makes the journey SO MUCH BETTER! I know it has done wonders for me.....However I am still having difficulty finding gratitude for being so SO ITCHY!!!


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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Adrenal and Cortisol Support

"Lets go lets go lets go".......as we rush out the door off to Mekaella's school and myself to work...at this point I have already been awake for 2hrs....did morning cardio, caught up on the never ending emails and paperwork....made Mekaella's lunch...let the dog out...usually put a load of laundry in (seriously where do all these dirty clothes come from) and tidied up the kitchen. 

This is my life....always on the go....high stress, also with a job in sales that is performance based and 100% commission I have to be on my game. Raising a 6 year old, rushing her to Soccer practice, games, french lessons and gymnastics there never seems to be "downtime", and even my weekends are spent catching up on paperwork and working shows or events.... 
 One of the reasons my coach Darren and I believe that this year my body would not let go of the extra weight was my stress and coritosl levels were so high. I just obtained my new Management Role and my desire to prove I can handle it, give my all, combined with all the training and life stress resulted in my body basically not responding.

Adrenals produce Cortisol which is the hormone responsible for how your body responds to stress. This hormone can effect sex drive, mood, metabolism, blood pressure, inflammation and many other things. So when you are stressed cortisol levels will rise and can react in these different various was. Mine was a slower metabolism, which in prepping for a show was not conducive for bringing in a tight lean package.  
 So after the Nationals I started supporting my adrenals twice a day with SD Pharmaceuticals Rhodiola Rosea. One of the principal effects of Rhodiola is to reduce the secretion of cortisol. It is also known to increase mood, libido and energy. In 2010 the Swedish Institute of Herbs in Sweden did a study and found that subjects taking Rhodiola Rosea experienced neuroproductive, cardioproductive and anti depressive effects as well as reduced fatigue and increased lifespan.  
 What I have noticed right away is I feel more relaxed, within 15 min I can feel Rhodiola taking effect, like the edge has been taken off and with no negative effects from the amazing herb I am going to continue to keep Rhodiola twice a day as part of my daily supplement routine. That combined with at least 10-15 min a day of meditation to calm my mind, be present and breathe is also another tool to reduce stress. 

There will always be stress in life, we all have things to do, places to be, unexpected events, combine that with taking fat burners, pre workouts and stimulants this can all be hard on your adrenals. However,  learning how to manage it and knowing what supplements can support you such as Rhodiola Rosea can help to reduce the negative impact on the body.

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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Week 3 Carb Back Loading...

Well...This is week 3 of my Carb Backloading....

To give a brief history:

At the World Qualifier (Aug 9th) I weighed 146...could not seem to get any lower, my body was fighting me every step of the way, I raised my cardio to 2 hrs a day, infrared sauna's, Turkey and Tilapia was the choice protein, low carb rotation days, quality high fats, but even after a water depletion and Ripped Freak Diuretic it was not budging.

First Monday (Aug 11th) after Nationals I bounced up to 156lbs...with the sodium and water and all the goodies Sat and Sunday night I actually did not even want to get on the scale but I made myself.
I started my Carb Backload experiment that day, consuming 150grms of protein a day spread out over 6 meals, with roughly 75grms of fats. I have coconut oil with every meal along with nuts and nut butters. Progressive Organic Coconut Oil is my first choice for a fat source as it gives me immediate energy,  I am clear headed, I have great workouts, and I overall feel much better, I also consume 4 litres of water a day and still enjoy my sugar free Monsters:)

Following Friday (Aug 15th) my birthday I was 150lbs, the water retention from the previous weekend had subsided.  I used my birthday night as my first carb backload day with candies, popcorn, cake, wine so not the best Carb Backload but still something.
That Sunday I left for my sales conference which throw's my training for a loop, as the gym is super prehistoric but I managed to get in there everyday. I kept to no carbs all week except a glass of red wine with dinner. I also allowed myself to have vodka/soda water for my drink of choice, aged cheddar for dessert, continued by having really high fats all week, raw coconut and nuts for snacks in the meetings and good quality protein and vegetables.
The surprise is I was getting tighter and tighter...and more vascular, I even commented to Scott that I felt tighter than I did at Nationals.
When I got home I weighed in on that Friday (Aug 22nd) and I was 145lbs!!! So.....I was able to have  goodies that week... wine, lots of nuts, cheese, coconut oil, protein, reduced my cardio, was not even able really to train that effectively and I lost weight????

Sunday (Aug 24th)was my first real Carb Backloading day, I ate my regular fats, protein and veg during the day then at 4pm we went to IHOP where I had pancakes, real syrup (to get the glucose pumping into my system) and 4 pieces of turkey bacon. It was very interesting to watch how my body responded as time went on, I became super vascular, full and tight.
At 9pm I made Organic popcorn with coconut oil with M&M's and Nibs. Now usually on a "cheat" night I go crazy but this is different now, I am watching my body and really taking count of how I feel...I stopped when I became full.

Monday I went right back to high fats and no carbs, I trained legs on Monday and had a killer workout, again I left that day and was on the road all week in the interior for work, however I stuck to my diet. On this past Sat I weighed myself and I was 146lbs, so I am up a pound, what that means to me is I need to cut back on my Carb Backload's, so this past Sunday I had 3 homemade pancakes (lower in carbs) at 2pm, then my regular fats and protein meal in between and at 8pm with homemade popcorn with M&M's and Nibs.

Now I must admit this past week I was not 100% perfect on my diet either we did go for a date night on the Friday,  I had no starchy carbs but I did have some wine and cheese (actually a little too much wine truth be told),  I also have not been able to goto my HIT classes either three times a week.
But overall I am loving this experiment and did I mention I quit 2hrs of cardio and I am only doing 45min?!?!

So far I have only have gained one pound from my contest weight, I have been eating, having some drinks, I feel energetic,  lifting heavier, and reduced my cardio by 1:15hr.
Pretty sweet if you ask me...
I am excited for the next couple weeks.... I will continue to experiment with lowering my carbs on my backload as I am preparing for a photo shoot in Vegas at the Olympia.

I am fascinated with really having an understanding about how my body works and responds,  I am excited how my body keeps responding, and the biggest thing is I am not looking at this as a "diet" which makes it much easier to do...this is my experiment....

So I will continue to tinker with this, but so far so good,  my end goal being slowly reducing my cardio, training harder, increasing my metabolism, eating more food....and loving my body...stay tuned...

                                               My Veins after round 1 of Carb Back Loading


                                                    Carb Back Load Round 2    

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