Sunday, 4 October 2015

Parenting....The Shift....

Had you asked me 8 years ago what my most valued job was or where I saw my future I would say being a Top Account Manager and then National Sales Manager.  Truthfully, my goal was never to be a mother. I never was someone who got excited to see babies. (Puppies yes…. Babies not so much)

Ask me that question today and you get a very different answer. For now, the most important job I will ever have is raising my Munchkin. 

Since the start, I have always known I did not want to be that strict, children should be seen and not heard, do as I say, angry parent that I experienced with my own father. I know the end result. I was a very unhappy teenager, who snuck out, experimented with drugs, drank and tried to fill a void.

During these teen years, I remember fondly my best friend Reagan’s parents, everyone loved her house, it was regarded as the “cool” house.  However, the reason was not because we got to do what we wanted or eat them out of house and home. It was the love we experienced.

One moment I will never forget. It was a Friday night and we wanted to go meet all the other teenagers at 7-11. Her parent’s were not having it, however their response dramatically effected me. Instead of the typical “Because…we said so that’s why you can’t go out”. I remember her Mothers answer like it was yesterday, looking into our pleading teenager eyes she said “We love Reagan and we love her friends and we just want you guys at home with us tonight….we want to be around you”.

That was so profound to me, how do you argue and get mad at being loved?
So that night everyone came over, her parents watched movies and visited with us. Over the years I watched as they practiced this in many ways with how they raised Reagan and her brother, and I always admired how close they were as a family.

I try to implement this technique with my daughter. Now she is just 7 so there is no “Going out” but I treat her with respect, kindness and love. I talk to her, we have conversations about things and if she does not listen there are consequences. However, I am not interested in barking or getting mad. I know I have the opportunity to make a change, to parent differently.

A quick example is the other night.  I had just returned that afternoon from being on the road all week and wanted to spend some time with her. I decided we would go to the newest kids movie, which she wanted to bring her friends, when I said “No” she started sulking. Part of me felt angry and annoyed but then I stopped.

I pulled her close and told her how much I missed her this week, how much I loved her. I explained that I really wanted to spend some mommy/daughter alone time. I simply expressed my love to her….

She immediately changed, told me she loved me and cuddled into my arms the whole movie.

Now lets be clear I am not saying that I will not get frustrated with her and angry from time to time. However, I also view her as my little teacher. She has taught me so much about who I am and who I want to be. I have explained to her that we are a team and a team works together. That we need to care, love and respect each other. If I want to change the cycle I need to be aware of my reactions and choices in parenting her.

My job is to support and help Mekaella rise into who she is supposed to be.  I know I won’t be perfect at it but being a conscious parent and using love over anger is a choice I have made.…


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Sunday, 27 September 2015


Most humans don’t like change. We try to avoid change and maintain what is familiar and habitual, even if it may not be in our best interest. Consistency and routine are what provide our lives with stability. I know I thrive on it. 
However, we all know that change is inevitable. We cannot move forward if things remain stagnant. This scary transition into the unknown is often the start of your next great adventure.
Losing a job, a loved one or a relationship, having a child, finishing your degree are life events that usually require change. Scientific research actually shows that our brains become wired with repetitive patterns. Once we switch to something unknown it takes time for the “fuses” in our brain now adjust and accept the new status quo.
During this transition is when we feel uncomfortable, even in pain, wanting to go back to what we know.. 
People learn by doing, reflecting, asking questions, looking at what is working and trying again. Sudden changes in life cause us to stop, step back and look at what we have been doing.  Seeking support and guidance from those who can challenge, care and offer some wisdom in the midst of change, enables us to walk through the difficult times. Combine this with listening to our “gut” or “inner voice” and it can be a time of personal growth and intention in the direction we want our lives to take. 

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Bulimia to Balance Part 3....My Tools

In seeking treatment and strategies to gain control over my Bulimia I first began to reflect at the times when I felt most in control of my eating disorder.
I would like to say that at this time of this reflection I was not lost within my eating disorder. However, in my twenties, I was bingeing and purging multiple times each day. I know now that seeking some sort of outside help or support would have been a better choice.
Ironically enough it was when I started competing in Physique Bikini shows in my late 20’s the binging and purging compulsion subsided.  I had a very structured diet. I felt safe. I was eating healthy and my mind was at peace. It was after the show when the routine ended and I started eating everything that I tail spinned into my bulimic tendencies.
In my research, one of the treatments used for Eating disorders is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Such tools as controlled eating, changing your inner dialogue, and positive body image are part of the treatment.
I made the connection between the CBT and my Prep life. While in “prep” mode I felt strong, I was satisfied with my healthy choices and I never felt the need to binge. I was positive, proud and motivated about what I was accomplishing.  Plus the fitness community is very motivating and encouraging.
 I then began to look at my trigger foods, what foods would set me into a binge. Processed foods were the highest on the list. I can tell you I never binged and purged on fruit or veg’s. Also when alcohol was involved, my inhibitions are lower and a binge also became more likely. 
When I am stressed I have often turned to food as a way to stuff my feelings. I must try to be present to whatever I am going through.  Taking the time to stop and listen to my body. Acknowledging and being aware has become part of my managing tools.
Allowing myself to be perfectly imperfect. Understanding that we all struggle with different things on our bodies. That's ok. Not obsessing, and being kind to myself not only reflect on my food choices but also the inner dialogue that plays in my head.
There is medication for depression and anxiety that is used in treatment. These are both common characteristics of those with an eating disorder. I had never thought I had anxiety until I began to reflect and think about my relationship with food. That is actually what kicks in once I feel I have eaten too much or my bulimic Aeryon voices kick in. I found a wonderful Anti-Anxiety natural supplement called Veeva that helps deal with that.
If I have an episode it does not mean I am a failure, or that I need to spin out of control. It means I am human. I pick up and move forward.
In summary, I use a variety of tools some of which were in front of me the whole time. I plan and prep my meals. I use positive body language. I forgive myself. I am aware of my trigger foods. Most of all I have learned to not be so hard on myself. I have learned that I do not need to be perfect.
I just need to take one step at a time and do my best in each moment…

If you are dealing with an eating disorder there are many amazing organizations out there for support:
You can google search in your area for the closest support network.
Here are some in the BC area.

VCH Eating Disorders Program: 
The Looking Glass Foundation:


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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Bulimia to Balance Part 2

As a young girl my father was a body builder and my mother was a figure skating coach, so athletics and aesthetics were a focus in our household.  I was teased relentlessly in elementary for being over weight, so much so that I was home schooled. At 13 I joined weight watchers with intention of learning food and weight management. However, it became apparent as I sat there with the group of middle-aged women, that I was too much and not enough all at the same time. 
At age 14 a classmate was talking to me about his sisters battle with Bulimia and Anorexia. The family was very concerned at her dramatic weight loss, and in my little mind I immediately thought “this was the ticket”…I just throw up and I can eat whatever I want!!!
So what started in my early teens as a weight loss method, continued on in my early twenties as full-blown Bulimia.  then lived on my own so no one could monitor my eating habits. As I fell deeper and deeper in the Bulimic pattern of overeating and throwing up,  I avoided social situations.  The serious anxiety I had with food included always scoping out the closest bathroom, and ensuring easy access in case I had an episode.
To be clear I usually never go in with a planned binge.  It is that extra bite that sets me off, and like a switch that flips in my mindmy anxiety kicks in. I feel a desperate need to eat as much as possible and then quickly purge to get rid of everything. The after math of depression and disappointment leaves me feeling deflated as I let my Bulimia win again.
In my later twenties I became a personal trainer.  I loved the aspect of helping others understand proper nutrition and training yet I still could not seem to get a grasp on my own personal battle. 
At 27 I competed in my first fitness physique show and for once in my life I had no voices or thoughts to binge and purge. With my strict diet and regimented training, I felt in control. It was far better then the mental battle I usually fought.  I thought if I can just keep doing this…. would be good…I was finally cured….
Then the show ended..and I rebounded into my pattern of Bulimia...
With the determination to regain peace and control I did anther show, but each time I fell back into my old binging and purging habits. This cycle continued, each time with the hopes that I would be able to maintain the sanity I had found during prep.
It was not until I became pregnant with my daughter that I finally decided to stop competing and let go of the expectations for my body. 
Maybe then I would finally stop the bulimic tendencies and have some peace. I thought perhaps all these years it was the fitness lifestyle that kept this mental battle alive. If I just accepted my body tried to eat healthy and be active then the issues would stop…
However, it was still there - and to make the matters worse - I was unhappy with how I felt.  I applaud women of all sizes however, I was not comfortable in my own skin. 
Several years ago I embarked on a journey to really understand my body and this disease. What did I need to do to calm the voices, feel my best, be involved in the fitness industry and if I desired still have a competitive life…..

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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bulimia to Balance Part 1

I recently had the privilege to speak at the Vancouver Pro Show regarding my on-again, off-again battle with Bulimia. There are so many women out there who suffer silently not willing to come forward but desperate for answers. I believe it is time we start the conversation. My next 3 blogs I will be breaking down my presentation, sharing my story and the tools I use to manage and control my Eating Disorder. 

To look at me one would never assume the personal, private battle I have had with my eating disorder for 26 years. For most, Bulimia does not carry the outward characteristics that many associate with that of an eating disorder. However, the mental battle with food remains the same.

Today over 30 million people in North America deal with some sort of an eating disorder. The 3 recognized Eating Disorders are Anorexia Nervosa , Bulimia Nervosa and the newest one is Binge Eating Disorder. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with a demographic that usually falls upon women. There is also an increase with those involved in sports and even higher for those in competitive athletics.
Personality traits of Perfectionism, OCD, All or Nothing, Constant Need for More, and Depression among other factors can contribute to eating disorders. 
For years the most impacted age group was believed to be the 18-25 age group.  However, recent studies have began to surface evidence of an alarming number of women in their 30's and even 50's still dealing with these food related issues.

The following are some of the contributing factors to eating disorders. Genetics, as within my own family circle my aunt suffered from bulimia, and a cousin from anorexia. Biochemistry, those with eating disorders tend to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Psychology, such as the personality traits I listed above (perfectionism, ocd, etc). Environment, I myself was teased as a child and had family pressure regarding my weight. Then lastly there is Social, with the pressure in western culture with continuous media images portraying women as thin.  We cannot walk by a newsstand or watch a tv program without the glaring images of “perfect” bodies staring back at us.

Some forms of treatment for eating disorders are counselling, anti- anxiety and anti-depression medication along with Cognitive Behavior therapy.  It is my personal experience and feedback from others that eating disorders can continue to be an ongoing issue. This requires each person to choose a path of management that works to live a healthy lifestyle.

So the question then lies, how do we manage this, not have reoccurring episodes and more importantly how do we take away the shame and start a conversation regarding these issues...


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Thursday, 16 July 2015

A Space for New Potential

Your Show, Photo shoot, the Wedding, or perhaps your Weight Loss Challenge is over. Whatever fitness goal has been met, the task has been accomplished: Now what?
It is perhaps at this point that the challenge truly begins. How does one transition from a focused goal oriented program to a healthy and manageable daily routine?
How do we start living, enjoying more free time yet not lose everything we worked so hard for?
More importantly how do we deal with the mental games that ensue or the fear of “Slipping back” without being obsessed?
 All the work, dedication, the prepping, training, everyone cheering you on with encouraging compliments, and now the time has come to relax.  
We begin to feel the need to give excuses as to “Why” we are not depleted, in contest shape, or photo shoot ready. As if that look is attainable year round.
Is there a way to avoid this?  
The cliché response would be “How about acceptance”
Which sounds great…however it is our perseverance and goal setting that makes us who we are.
It is our expectations, dreams and hopes that create the want and desire to move forward.  The initial goals of the show, photo shoot, wedding or weight loss challenge that were set and attained, now have become a platform to reach for new possibilities.
My challenge is this: to see my current physical and emotional state not as a set of deficiencies but as space opening up to new potential…

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