Amazing wedding entrance

July 25, 2009

This video has been circulating the internet the past couple days. I think it’s so much fun!

I love how the wedding party is just having a blast! Even the guests look like they’re enjoying it even though it’s definitely not a conventional walk down the aisle.

I would absolutely love to do something non-traditional when I eventually get married. I’ve been to a couple weddings that were so super serious that it’s like people forgot that it’s a celebration of two people ready to spend the rest of their life together! I love ones where people just forget about the “rules” and have a good time. I definitely remember having a blast during the mass chicken dance at my cousin’s wedding a couple years ago!

A girl I work with is getting married next Friday and the girls planning her wedding were set on having her walk down the aisle to “Push It” by Salt n Pepa. She loved the idea of it (we’re all majorly into 90’s music at work and listen to it as much as possible), but unfortunately she’s getting married at city hall and I don’t think the logistics work. But at any rate, I love hearing/seeing people do less traditional things at their weddings that are so much fun!

Enough about weddings… I’ve got enough of those coming up (one on August 29th and one September 26th… yikes!)

In maintenance land, things have been trucking along. I’m doing my best to eat healthy while still allowing some splurges but I still have been falling into that trap of being super concerned with what I’m eating. I feel kind of bad having carb heavy days, even though I’m sticking to reasonable portions and still getting servings of fruits and veggies. I think these ideas that I can’t eat this or that food come from the fact that I spent nearly a year of my life in that mentality and I’m still adjusting to the idea that I can enjoy a wider range of foods in moderation. So I will admit, I’m sometimes still struggling to remind myself that I’m in maintenance. I can eat more and even while losing weight, I was able to go out for dinner, splurge a little and still lose. So it would make sense that I can do it in maintenance.

But… there’s a very fine line between allowing splurges and going right off the deep end and I think that’s where the worry comes from. I don’t want to let my guard down and start gaining, especially since my body seems to be in a good place right now – I’m easily maintaining my weight or very gradually losing a tiny bit more. At the same time though, I think I’ve been keeping a good balance between eating healthy, indulging occasionally and working out regularly and I need to remind myself of that. One carb heavy day isn’t going to be the end of me, nor is a day where I just don’t eat the amount of fruits and veggies I should. I will be fine, but I know it might take a little longer before I fully escape that weight loss mode.

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend with much better weather than I’m having (rain and cool, but still muggy somehow).

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Calorie counting

July 21, 2009

When I read Angela’s post this morning, I immediately had a similar reaction to her. What got us (and a lot of others) so worked up? This quote from Jillian Michaels:

You have to count calories. I don’t care how healthy you are eating. It’s a universal rule.

Whoa! That’s kind of a strong statement. Now, I don’t 100% know the context that she said this in (whether she meant, for example, that it’s a universal rule for those that are extremely overweight), but it got me thinking about my own relationship with counting calories.

When I first started counting calories, it was incredibly helpful. Before starting to lose weight, I had no idea either a) how many calories I needed per day or b) what a reasonable portion size was (and how many calories it contained). I barely glanced at nutritional labels, and if I did, it didn’t mean much to me because, like I said, I had no idea how many calories I needed.

When I finally figured it all out, calorie counting was helpful to make sure I was coming in under my requirement each day. It made me aware of portion sizes and it helped me realize that it’s much better to eat 100 calories of a high volume, nutritionally dense food than 100 calories of something with lots of sugar and no fibre or good fats that doesn’t even fill the palm of my hand (I’m looking at you, 100 calorie packs). These are still “rules” I abide by today.

However, despite the initial benefits of calorie counting, I eventually became obsessive about it. I would make eating plans with really specific measurements of all the foods I would eat that day and that was all I was allowed to eat. Looking back, a lot of these meal plans were actually under the calories I should have been eating (based on my BMR). Some days I’d give myself a measly 1200 calories and expect that I could work out for 45 minutes at a moderate to high intensity. After dinner, I would be starving most days yet I’d only ever allow myself something like a fat-free yogurt (a piddly 40-50 calories usually) to ward off the hunger.

I had this irrational fear of going over my calories and would cringe at the thought of eating 100 extra calories even if I was super hungry. In my mind, I’d think “well, if I do this every day of the week, that’s an extra 700 calories this week… that’s nearly a third of a pound that I won’t lose this week”. A third of a pound. In my mind, losing that extra 0.2 to 0.3 pounds per week was more important than not going hungry. It was more important than being happy and having a positive relationship with food. In this type of mindset, food was the enemy, not fuel. It wasn’t something to enjoy, it was something that could prevent me from losing weight.

Looking back, I’m almost ashamed that my relationship with food was so negative. It took a lot of strength to stop calorie counting but I knew I had to. My weight loss was stalling at that point, probably because I was eating below my BMR each day, and I was not giving myself enough energy to just live life!

I don’t count calories anymore. While I don’t deny that it’s a valuable tool for some (and it was for me early on), I do think there is a danger to it for certain people. It can certainly cause obsessive behaviours and other issues, and I’m definitely not the only person that’s experienced this.

I have really come far from my restrictive patterns. I know I need to eat to fuel my body. I’m not afraid to eat more if I’m hungry, especially on days when I’ve worked out. I listen to my body and enjoy everything in moderation, or I find a healthier substitute. I’d rather eat when I’m hungry and end up putting on a couple pounds than starve just to maintain.

The road to giving up calorie counting can be difficult, I’ll admit that. It was challenging for me, but I think it’s possible to develop a healthy relationship with food without feeling the need to keep yourself in check through calorie counting. Like I said, it can be positive, but I don’t think sweeping statements such as “everyone should count calories” are necessarily accurate. If you’re trying to lose weight, calorie counting may or may not be for you. In the end, you need to find the method that helps you have a healthy, positive view of food.

Have you ever counted calories? Was it a helpful tool or did you experience problems because of it?


Being happy at your goal weight

July 15, 2009

There’s a trend I’ve noticed recently in women who have recently met their goal weight, both those in the blog world and those I know in real life.

They are at the weight they’ve always idealized, yet they struggle to find happiness. Some say they’ve experienced a “this is it?” type of feeling when finally seeing their goal weight pop up on the scale. Of course they’re pleased but that “reaching goal” moment was so built up that their actual feelings are almost a disappointment compared to how they thought they would feel.

The overestimation of one’s feelings is a common occurrence in Western society. People tend to predict that they will feel happy for long periods of time after a positive event, yet when the event actually occurs, their feelings are not as strong and long-lasting as they anticipated. Perhaps this leads to that disappointment some have felt after reaching their goal weight. Perhaps they had anticipated being happy for weeks after reaching their goal, yet the reality was that the happiness was much more short-lived.

With this short-lived happiness comes the quick realization that suddenly your life is not perfect because you’ve reached your goal weight. I know I’m guilty of having thought that all my problems would disappear if only I was at my goal weight. Yet, in reality, it’s not realistic to expect that everything will change for the better immediately.

So how can you be happy at your goal weight?

Well, obviously the answer is different for everyone, but one thing I’ve settled on is this: rather than focusing on ways in which your life is suddenly not perfect after reaching goal, focus on all the ways in which your life is better now that you’ve reached goal. Are you finally able to shop in any store you wanted instead of plus-sizes? Can you run x number of miles when before you might have only been able to run for 30 seconds?

Here are some of my own “life improvements” that resulted from adopting a healthier lifestyle and losing weight:

  • I don’t have to wear the biggest size in any stores or worry that I won’t even fit into the biggest size.
  • I can walk up a flight of stairs and not be out of breath by the top.
  • I have visible arm muscles!
  • I can run 3 miles without a walking break. (I finally did it!! I was super proud of this accomplishment.)
  • I can wear shorts in public and not feel (too) self-conscious about my legs. (I am still working on this one a bit though… but I have improved, which is the entire point.)
  • I properly fuel my body with lean protein, whole grains and fruits/veggies rather than processed foods and too much sugar. I’m also way more aware of proper nutrition.

Of course, there are more things that have improved in my life. So I think it is possible to be happy at your goal weight by focusing on how far you’ve come rather than nitpicking what you could still change, or expecting perfection from a number.

Just a quick note here: I’m not trying to say that no one is happy when reaching their goal weight, but as I’ve noticed a trend of disappointment recently, I just wanted to offer some speculation as to why this happens to some of us and some possible ways to combat that feeling. I think losing weight and being healthier is something each person should be proud of and being disappointed is unfortunate after such an accomplishment!

Have you ever experienced some level of disappointment after reaching your goal weight or did you feel satisfied with the changes? What are some of the improvements that have resulted from either your weight loss or adoption of a healthier lifestyle?


Setting goals

July 6, 2009

Today’s topic of the Summer Glow Boot Camp was setting goals. I am a goal-oriented person. Setting goals helps me stay motivated while doing tasks that sometimes seem pointless otherwise. For example, reading a 400 page textbook in 3 months is part of getting to my goal of finising my undergraduate degree so I can attend graduate school. So this type of exercise is right up my alley.

First step, three accomplishments that I’m proud of:

1) Finishing my undergraduate thesis.

This was a huge undertaking. I worked on this project for nine months and logged countless hours reading journal articles, applying for ethics review, budgeting my grant money, training my assistants, teaching kids reading skills, scoring reading assessments, entering data and finally writing the whole document! I really doubted my abilities to follow through at many points in the process but when I finished, I felt like I could take on anything!

2) Losing 40 pounds.

It’s more than just about the number. It’s about the lifestyle that came with it and how much healthier I’ve become. I feel stronger, healthier, more confident and happier overall.

3) Taking up running.

Running has allowed me to reach a whole new level of fitness. Being able to run makes me feel so empowered and strong. Each new personal best makes me feel amazing!

Step two, three goals I want to achieve in July:

1) Tone up.

I think this will make me feel better about my body as there are some areas that I nitpick for being too flabby.

2) Read my psychopharmacology textbook.

I enrolled in this class in second year as it was a special topics class not usually offered at the school. But unfortunately, after the first midterm it was kicking my butt! I ended up dropping it since I was afraid of failing it (and since my program is competitive and requires a B to B- to guarantee yearly progression, failing one class does matter a lot). However, I found it really interesting and would love to learn more to increase my knowledge!

3) Further my German skills.

I love German. So much. But during school I haven’t had much time to work on my language skills. Now that summer is here I want to commit more of my time to it with the goal of eventually being nearly fluent in it.

Step three, what type of deadline I’d like for the goals:

1) By August 1st I’d like to see my legs and stomach looking more toned. I’d also hopefully like to lose some inches!

2) I’ll give myself until September 13th (the day before back to school). The textbook is 1) long and 2) very technical in some parts so it’s not exactly light reading and I might need some time to finish it.

3) By September 13th, I’d like to have covered 2-3 more chapters in the German textbook I bought for my class last year. I think this would bring me to chapter 6 or 7 in the book, just a little under halfway through.

Finally, planning:

1) I’m going to increase my strength exercises for my lower body and add more core work like planks into my workouts.

2) I’m going to work on reading about a chapter every week or so, although I’m not necessarily sticking to that for sure as I still have an actual class to do work for until August 1st.

3) I’ll do a quick review of what I’ve already learned in the book and then work through one chapter every couple weeks. Again, until August 1st I’m not making myself stick to the timeline exactly because of school obligations.

So there are some goals and these are things I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Hopefully now that I’ve publicly commited myself to them, I’ll act on them! There’s psychology at work for you šŸ˜‰

Are you a goal-setter? Do you have any specific goals in mind right now? Are there any recent goal accomplishments that you’re really proud of?


Dear Body

July 4, 2009

I’m taking part in the Oh She Glows Summer Glow Boot Camp in July. I think it’s an awesome idea, combining fitness, healthy lifestyle and positive body image. Sounds like a great combo, eh?

Well, the first couple exercises were fitness related, which I had to put off until yesterday. Why? Well, let’s just say I started celebrating Canada Day one day early and paid the price for most of July 1st! While I was feeling fine later on, we were busy having our BBQ and then scoring a sweet spot by the lake to watch fireworks.

But, I’m going to do the exercise for July 2nd – this one dealing with body image. It’s called ‘Dear Body’, hence the title of this post, and is my opportunity to write to myself in any way I choose. So here it goes:

Dear Body,

You really have put up with a lot, haven’t you? Even though I haven’t always treated you the way I should, you never quit on me. Even when I gained a lot of weight through a combinationĀ  of unhealthy eating, depression and lack of physical activity, you kept going even though I bet the unhealthy lifestyle made it a challenge. You were there , ready to give 100% every time I wanted to lose weight and even though we didn’t always succeed, you didn’t stop.

When I was finally ready, both physically and mentally, to lose the weight, you were a champ. You showed me that I could lose the weight if I really committed myself to it. You rewarded those healthy changes over time and revealed yourself to be stronger than I ever thought possible. Even when I counted calories and slipped downwards a little, becoming too food focusing and being afraid of eating certain things, you still kept going for me. And then I changed my outlook with food and ever since, you’ve been excellent.

I never thought I could be a runner. But I underestimated myself both physically and mentally. I never should have doubted you, body. Even though I could barely run for a minute the first time I went running, I didn’t give up. Why should I? You’ve never given up and now it’s my job to get past those mental blocks, those thoughts in my head saying I can’t do it. I proved them wrong and now I can run nearly 3 miles straight without walking breaks! We are both strong and becoming stronger every day. I’m starting to get past those mental blocks that say I won’t be able to do it and you’re helping by allowing me to push further, to get past each little milestone on the way.

We really have come a long way, from being overweight, unhealthy and lacking confidence to being a healthy weight, strong and feeling good about appearances (well, 90% of the time).

I promise not to go back to that unhealthy lifestyle filled with junky foods that don’t help me become stronger. I promise to keep pushing on those runs, but also to be careful and know my physical limits. I haven’t found them yet since, like I said, I’m still pushing past those mental limits. But I promise to be careful and listen to you if you’re hurting. Overall, I promise not to let you down again.

Love,

Me

What a neat exercise! If you were to write a letter or say something to your body, what would it be?

Today’s plan includes a break from working out and writing a massive paper like crazy! It’s due Monday at midnight and obviously I procrastinated because I only have about a page and a half (and it’s supposed to be 10-12). So I’m off to type away until I can’t type anymore!


Happy Canada Day!!

July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!!

In honour of our country’s birthday, a video from good ol’ YouTube:

I love it! A friend sent it to me and I immediately knew I had to share it!

Hope you’re having a wonderful day and hopefully the weather is nicer where you are than it is here! It’s a little rainy and I’m crossing my fingers that it will be clear by tonight for fireworks!! I love fireworks and I’m so excited to see them in the city this year! The display in my hometown is pretty small (but it’s a small town of only 30,000) so I’m expecting a nice show tonight in a bigger city!

In a couple hours we’re going to BBQ up some burgers and then head out to the festivities! I think they’ve got face painting (probably for little kids only but I’ll see… haha!), some live performances and a sorts of fun stuff like that! Yay!

How are you celebrating Canada Day?