Let’s be Real

So after 2 false starts of W30, I’m now officially on my 2nd day.  I did my first day three times… the first two of those times were great, right up until the evening when I sort of fell apart and found some left over Christmas chocolate in my house.  Having done a good job of consuming all of that, and also finding the skin on my hands getting worse and worse, I buckled down yesterday and successfully put the first day in the bank.

I’ll tell you something, cleaning up your act after three weeks of silliness is not easy!  It’s incredible how quickly your body becomes dependant on those nasty little things like sugar, grains and sugar…

For almost an entire year I ate as close to W30 as possible with weekly offroading days thrown in.  There was never enough in any one off road meal per week to bounce me into a dependency… so when I went completely bananas in December and ate and drank whatever was in front of me, I naively thought that I would be fine and I could just turn off the switch and go back to my clean living with no adverse side effects.  That is certainly not how it happened and I am currently fighting the ‘are you hungry, no you’re not, you don’t need to eat’ battle.  I think that our bodies have ‘muscle memory’ as far as food goes and I don’t think I will get a very bad case of Low Carb Flu or really be in this battle for very long… the long term positives that I already know about far outweigh any short term struggle to get back on track. 

I see no reason to lie about how easy detoxing after a free for all isn’t… or hide the fact that I had to do my 1st day three times in order to be successful.  That’s real life and anyone that tells you otherwise is lying.  That said, this idea of real and honest is the driving force of a new project I am a part of. 

My sister came up with the idea that there are probably a lot of women just like us out there, struggling to maintain balance between health, fitness and real life.  She found a group of us that are all taking different journeys in order to find our balance and we will be coming to you daily to share 90 second of our Real.  90 seconds of our struggles, successes, failures, hopes and dreams.  Every weekday a new 90 second (is) vlog from one of the contributors will be posted to hopefully help motivate, inspire and encourage you.  Every day you’ll see one of us being real about life and we hope that it inspires you to be real about where you are at and where you’re going. 

Please come and visit us at www.90secondsofreal.wordpress.com.  I will be posting there on Thursdays.  We’ve got three videos up with an expected four more this week as we get into the swing of it and get back into a routine after the holidays! 

You can subscribe to us (and to this blog if you’re not already), so you get an email when a new video is posted and we hope you participate with us in the comment section!

Christmas is OVER!!!

That’s right, I said it!  Christmas is over!  It has to be!  I have a rash on the palm of my right hand from eating so much ‘junk’ over the last two weeks! I’ve always been able to tell if I’ve been a bit to free and easy with the ‘food fun’ because my skin protests a bit… Last night I found water blisters on the inside of my palm, which is the most extreme my skin has ever protested.

How did I get there?

Lets see…  Starting on Dec 13th and going until December 26th (read this list remembering that I am for the most part a strict W30er)

3 glasses of rose, 3 quiches, two macarons and a giant wedge of brie at a Christmas party.

Perogies, Caeser, creme caramel, brownies, cream puffs, some sort of egg/cheese thing wrapped in a tortilla for our Birthday Brunch

Deep fried chicken wings and caeser salad for our work Christmas lunch

Approximately half the world’s supply of Purdy’s caramels and other assorted chocolates, a VERY salty burger (no bun) with some sort of peanut butter sauce, one ceaser, one vodka soda and chocolate peanut butter ice cream for my birthday.

Japadog, Iraqi dinner, carrot cake, cheese cake, Coconut Milk London Fog (carrageenan) for 2nd Birthday Dinner.

Breakfast wrap with cheese and flour tortilla, another Coconut London Fog, two truffle things, FiveGuys Burger and the rest of the carrot cake for Snow Day.

*** I should mention here that by Friday at 10am I started to get a pretty killer headache and by 10pm, I was in a full blown migraine situation that lasted until Saturday night.  So I was pretty good Sunday and Monday…except for eating what can only be described as all the Lindt balls in the whole world***

Turkey dinner with floured gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, parsnips with cream cheese, more lindt truffles, chocolate covered almonds, some sort of cheese/dairy cocktail dip, salami, butter tarts, some sort of mint pudding and a lot of wine… that was Christmas Eve.

Bailey’s spiked coffee (2), chocolate almonds, butter tarts, turkey dinner with cheese/cream mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce (sugar), floured gravy, short bread cookies and a lot of wine.  That was Christmas Day.

Crackers, cocktail dip, a LOT of those puffy cheesies, a lot of wine, turkey dinner with floured gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, three different kinds of Christnas pudding covered in three different kinds of sugar based sauce, more of those puffy cheesies things.  That was boxing day.

Somewhere in there I also consumed fudge, ice cream and eggnog.  IT’s no damn wonder that I am MISERABLE right now and have started my January Whole30 five days ahead of time.

I will say tho that I appreciated every bit of ‘food fun’ that I participated in. It is certainly not the norm for me and aside from the disgusting list above, there were some good choices, some ground-standing and some healthy options involved,  If life is about balance, then I got my fill of the fun side for the whole rest of the year!

If anyone is joining me in feeling like they had their ‘food fun’ but now feel like it’s in everyone’s best interest to get back to basics, why wait for January 1!!  Nothing magical happens on the 1st of January.  You make your own magic every time you decide to make a good choice.

Now, bring on the herbal tea! Gotta wash some of the toxins out!

True Beauty and a Pair of Pants

I don’t have time to write this, but it’s necessary, because sometimes people need to know they’re on the right track and that they have people who understand.  So I’m writing this letter to my sister.
 
In my years as an adult, I have gone down the road of obsession with food and exercise… who of us hasn’t.  None of my memories of that time are particularily pleasant… I didn’t ever feel beautiful or sexy… I felt ‘never good enough’.  All.  The.  Time.  And yet before years of unpleasantness, I thought that was happiness.  Being strong enough to say no to any temptation… strong enough to battle at bootcamp or the gym… happy that when people looked at me, they saw ‘fit’.  All I saw was ‘getting there’ and yet that was my version of happiness…
 
When I went to the bad place for about 7 years and knew at the end of that time that I needed to make a change, I found it incredibly difficult… nay impossible to force myself to go back to the old place of obsession.  I’d felt TERRIBLE for years… emotionally and mentally brutalized… both from my ex and from myself for allowing it to happen.  When I was finally free of those chains, I couldn’t get behind putting new chains on myself just to be thin again. I didn’t want to go somewhere I’d already been… I wanted to go somewhere new.  I knew that where I’d been wasn’t going to work for me because in the face of trauma and difficulty, it didn’t back me up.
 
I tried and tried to explain it to you… I couldn’t seem to express it in a way that you understood.  I just wanted to be kind to myself… I wanted to eat good food because it was good for me and do some sort of exercise when I FELT like it because I WANTED to.  I knew all the ways I could make schedules and diets and rules in order to catapult myself to a place I used to live… and I didn’t want to live there… I couldn’t force myself to live there… much as I mentally tried to tell myself I’d be successful if I did.  I didn’t want to be obsessed with food or calories… I didn’t want to abuse myself for an entire day just because I was too tired or cozy to get out of bed at o’dark thirty to go to the gym.  I wanted to show myself love by being loving… and I knew that the changes would come slower because I wasn’t doing ‘everything I could’ or ‘had done’ in the past to get immediate results.
 
I think that we do things repeatedly because it gives us results that we like and we’re willing to put aside the negative impacts because the positive results wildly outweigh them.  I think we do things at certain times of our lives because it serves those times.  But we are dynamic human beings living in a dynamic world and to think that the same solution will fit every changing problem is to be in complete denial of our authentic selves…
 
When I started in February to really make an effort to love myself is when my whole world started to change.  When I ate good whole food because I wanted to, it made my body feel better, which made my mind feel better.  It was never about my size or a pair of pants… it was always about how I could best show love to myself.  And that didn’t include beating myself up about it… it definitely takes practice… as a well-established obsesser, it’s hard to let go of the need to punish yourself for not being ‘perfect’, but attempting to be perfect never works out.
 
The most amazing part of choosing to approach my health and fitness from a place of love, is that I truly do love myself.  I remarked to my friend the other day that altho I am much older now than I was the last time I fit into these pants, I am much more beautiful.  It wasn’t said to sound full of myself or to fish for compliments.  But I look in the mirror and look into my own eyes and see love and beauty.  I appreciate every day that the hell I went through actually polished me and made me shine.  I could have punished myself with the gym and a strict diet and obsession and gotten into these pants, but the beauty that I gained doing it out of love is worth more than the size of my pants. 
 
This is not to say that your years prior of being regimented and strict were misplaced.  They taught you how strong you can be and how hard you can push yourself… so you know that any task or situation in life you can take on.  But now it’s time to teach yourself how loving you can be… and how balanced… because ‘health and fitness’ doesn’t just refer to the health and fitness of your torso and extremities…  it refers to the health and fitness of your heart and soul… and maybe those are the areas that need the dedicated work now.
 
I’m overjoyed to see you making this journey into a new chapter of how you approach your overall health and fitness… of your body and your mind!

Thanks for Nothing!

So lately I’ve been enjoying a morning iced Americano from Whole Foods.  It’s a nice ritual that I have with a friend I work with… I come to work about 90 min before her, I get my morning stuff done and then she arrives and we walk over to the café together, have a little visit and get our coffees.  The reason I started going back to coffee was because I discovered that Whole Foods has coconut milk that doesn’t have any sugar in it.  My iced coffee with coconut milk in it sometimes just made my morning!  It’s tasty and creamy and a nice distraction.

Back up about a month and a half… that’s when I started partaking in the above, which my friend and I refer to as ‘Coffee Walkies’.  It was about that time that I started wearing my jewellery again because as I’ve lost weight, some of it has started fitting again.  I used to be allergic to nickel in jewellery so the stuff I have that is starting to fit again is all either stainless steel or sterling silver.  I was so excited to be able to wear my old favorite watch and a bracelet again that I wore them every day.  Then all of a sudden I got a bit of a rash on my wrist that was reminiscent of my old allergy. Knowing that the change in my diet means I’m no longer allergic, I figured maybe I got a little sweaty under my watch and that’s what it was from… I stopped wearing my watch and bracelet but the rash stayed… got bigger and really really itchy… it’s been weeks since I’ve worn my watch and bracelet and the rash continues. 

Then when I gave blood two weeks ago my sister ripped my Band-Aid off for me and the spot where the tape was developed into a similar rash… that still hasn’t gone away.

About a week ago I noticed some weird bumps on my forearm… they were itchy but didn’t seem to grow into a rash… and then last weekend I went completely off the Paleo wagon and ate and drank some stuff that was, for lack of a better word, garbage.  My dermatitis on my hands came back, I got a huge rash on the inside of my other elbow, and the rash on my wrist and blood donation spot got worse.  Thinking it was from partaking in some questionable ‘food’ choices, I am now on day three of eating Whole30 with nothing that isn’t prepared by me, in my kitchen.  I know there’s Whole30 food out there in restaurants but I figured I should just give my body a break and not take any chances.  Well, three days in to clean eating, my rash is still all over my arms and wrist, my dermatitis on my hands is not really getting any better and then it occurred to me.

The only common denominator in the last month and a half is the coffee and coconut milk.  So I checked the ingredients on the box online this morning (with my lovely iced coffee sitting on my desk).  Contains Carrageenan.  Well eff me!  Carrageenan is one of the preservatives specifically disallowed on Whole30 because of its inflammatory properties. So I googled ‘Carrageenan’ and ‘rash’ and lo and behold, one of the side effects of an allergic reaction to Carrageenan is skin rash and hives.  

My poor body has been trying to tell me for almost two months that something I’m putting in it is not welcome.  There is no other reason why these rashes won’t get better.  I haven’t gone more than two days without putting this poison in my system in almost two months, so my wonderful coffee with coconut milk is going to have to go away.  Maybe it’s the coconut milk and it’s poisonous ingredients.  Maybe it’s the acidity of the coffee that I’m not used to.  Either way, it stands to reason that cutting out that morning ritual for a couple weeks is a good investment in hopefully helping my skin clear back up. 

In case you’re curious about Carrageenan, here’s some additional information: 

A shopping list of food products containing and then not containing Carrageenan  

Other domestic non-food uses (from Wiki)

Fire fighting foam: thickener to cause foam to become sticky

Shampoo and cosmetic creams: thickener

Air freshener gels

Marbling: the ancient art of paper and fabric marbling uses a carrageenan mixture on which to float paints or inks; the paper or fabric is then laid on it, absorbing the colours

Shoe polish: gel to increase viscosity

Biotechnology: gel to immobilize cells/enzymes

Pharmaceuticals: used as an inactive excipient in pills/tablets

Pet food

Personal lubricants

Now, why WOULDN’T you want to eat something in your food that they also use in FIRE FIGHTING FOAM!  Seriously!

All By Myself

Years ago I joined up with a Military Boot camp style fitness program.  It was one of the best 18 months of my life.  I worked out 3-5 days a week at 530am-7am with people who would become some of my best friends.  It was incredibly motivating to know that I was going to go down to the picturesque Jericho beach to hang out with a group of friends.  The work was hard and sometimes intimidating but I gave it my best and I got into some of the best conditioned shape of my life to that point.  I had people who counted on me and who I counted on.  It was a surreal time in my life to say the least.  When the owners of the program pulled out of Vancouver to focus their time and energy on working in their hometowns of Edmonton and Calgary, the dynamic changed with the new head trainer and then when the dynamic changed too much, it was all folded up and closed down.  I tried a couple other boot camp style programs and I tried to get along with the head trainer that had set up his own shop but the magic had gone.  Around this same time my personal life started its long slide into hellish oblivion… not good timing.

What I realized just recently is that even though I was motivated and consistently worked out… even though I was the one that had to get out of bed every morning and go do the work… I never learned how to rely only on myself.  Many times I went because I wanted to see my friends… because I knew they would miss me if I wasn’t there and because they were counting on me.  I didn’t go because I had any sort of mental strength or fortitude.  I didn’t go because I wanted to get stronger.  I essentially had a crutch to lean on to keep me motivated and when that crutch was gone, I was in trouble.

I came to this realization two days ago when the head trainer contacted me on twitter and invited me back to his program with the ‘enticing’ note that my friends were waiting for me and that they missed me.  Besides the fact that we do NOT get along, I know things about him I can’t get over and it’s not convenient or in my budget, I realized that this journey I’m on… I have to take it alone.  I have to know myself and know my own motivations and know my own strengths and weaknesses.  Leaning on a group of friends again would be great…it would be easy but it wouldn’t help me grow as a person and it wouldn’t teach me what I need to know about myself.

When I run after work or on the weekends, or go to my weightlifting coach, I do so under my own power.  No one but me knows when I do or don’t run… my friends would never know if I said I was running or working out and then didn’t.  And that’s the way I want it.  I want to be accountable to myself and only myself.  I need to nurture the strength I’m developing to be able to stand on my own in the face of everything that life chucks at me and be firm and grounded in what I value.  And one of the things that I’m coming to value most out of anything is my own personal strength.  I can hear my thoughts, I can be still and quiet with my contemplations and processing of information and stimuli.  And I can love myself enough to do something for me that is only for me.  I eat the way I want and work out the way I want because in the end the only accountability I have is to the voice in my head and in my heart.  And the last thing I need right now… in the fledgling state of learning to hold myself up… is an easy way out.

Don’t look at me!

A long time ago, when I was unhappy… no, downright miserable, I didn’t really care what I looked like. I was standoffish and mean to say the least because my home life was a nightmare… It was hard to see the beauty in things and I certainly didn’t see any beauty in myself. Now that I’m so much happier and content and at peace, I’m a heck of a lot nicer to be around and putting makeup on and doing my hair nicely just reflects outwardly the inside that I care so greatly for. I didn’t start this lifestyle of Paleo and working out to get a nicer outside, I started it to get a nicer inside… but it’s hard to keep the ‘nice’ contained to the inside and so it’s becoming reflected in the care I take for my appearance now. It was never a lie back then that I didn’t care what I looked like… I really didn’t. I was working day by day to just get through the days without losing my mind and there was nothing left to invest in my appearance.

Now that things have changed on the inside, my outside is becoming pretty nice… some days I look in the mirror and see how far I’ve come… and sometimes I look in the mirror and I see how much work I have ahead of me and how long it will really take to wash the pain of those years away… an interesting dilemma has surfaced.

I have a huge secret that I have carried around with me, starting in 2005… and then it doubled itself in 2011… I talk the talk of not carrying shame in something you have no control over… I am an armchair advocate for women’s rights and mental health care for those that need it. I would tell someone till I’m blue in the face that rape and abuse and sex assault is not their fault and that mental health should not carry a stigma with it. Because I, from the seat of my being, believe this to be true.

I was sexually assaulted twice in the last 8 years. Once by someone I barely knew and once by my ex 22 days before we finally ended it. I am in general, not traumatized by it. I made decisions at the time to prevent myself from being harmed more than necessary and while it’s incredibly painful to think about what people with no conscience will do… and I know it will be heartbreaking for people who know me… I’m honestly fine. The thing is tho… that kind of thing… it changes you. It changes parts of you that you wouldn’t think or know it changes until something in your life comes up to show you how you’re different.

The experience has made me quite shy… I’m not usually one to be labelled as shy… in a group of people I know, where I feel safe, I’m not shy… but in any situation where I feel even a little bit vulnerable or out of my element, my personality shuts down and I become painfully shy. It’s taken a very special person in the last little while to see me through my shy protective barrier and pull me out. That same person, who I’ve mentioned here before as a dear friend of mine has also showed me that trust is not always misplaced.

The other thing that my experiences have made me is incredibly self conscious. I’m absolutely terrible at taking compliments… It borders on rude how terrible I react actually. It’s something I am trying to work on… it all goes back to trust then right? Trust the person… trust what they say… trust that there is no ulterior motive. For the last ‘can’t even count that high’ years, I didn’t care what I looked like. Truth was, that was a safe place to be for me. Not that I knew it at the time, because the reason I was wearing so much extra weight was due to other life factors and an emotionally abusive situation. But when the outside started to become affected by the dramatic changes on the inside, that’s when it hit me. People are going to look at me. And I am not comfortable with that. I’m comfortable sharing an anonymous photo of my bikini clad before and after on the internet… I’m comfortable posting pictures of myself online… that’s all anonymous… I’m not comfortable wearing a nice shirt that shows my… ahem…‘assets’ …in a complimentary light and then having people look at me. I rationally don’t think anyone is out to get me and I rationally actually don’t think that anyone would be too interested in me for looks alone. However… the damaged and irrational side of me… that voice in my head tells me to walk faster, keep my head down and go eat some ice cream to get a bit of protective fat back because it’s a dangerous, dangerous world out there. Now the rub… I’m also not comfortable wearing baggy clothes that hide all the work I’ve put into myself. I’m not comfortable wearing too many layers for how hot it is outside and I’m not comfortable pretending that I don’t care about how I look. And there is the situation at hand. I don’t want people to look at me but I’m not going to dress or care for myself in a way that prevents it. I honestly don’t know where to go with that. I wish I could say that the last paragraph of this post was going to be some enlightenment over my dilemma… that I’d made some dramatic association and solved my own problem. I haven’t. The only thing I can give myself is another day and another day loving me from the inside and allowing that to show on the outside. I can only be stronger from my experience and while it would be impossible to say it will never happen again (but God I hope it never EVER happens again), I have to know that my instincts both times were right… and be stronger in trusting them. Because what a shame to be taught a lesson like that… twice… and not to take it to heart and get every ounce of experience and knowledge out of it that I possibly can!

 

NB: It was only recently that I was able to recall all the details from the first assault in a linear fashion. I don’t know if it’s because I was mentally strong enough, because it had been buried long enough or what… (altho no amount of burying it resolved the acute pain of the ‘in the moment’ emotions). I do believe that rape, sexual assault and physical abuse should not be kept in the dark. I believe that the more that people who have experienced it talk about it, the more that we can use our own experience to help teach eachother. That my experience might pave the way for someone else to recognize the signs and help themselves. And to help heal our sisters and mothers and daughters who have experienced it. Every time you find out you’re not alone with your experience is another moment of strength. That takes the dark off the shame and pours daylight on it.

With that said, I do have my experience written down. I understand it now in a way that I didn’t understand it then. Having uncovered it and poured my own daylight on it, I now understand why in some circumstances, I am the way I am. There is nothing gory or perverse in my account. There is no content that you couldn’t read on a computer screen at work. And yet, I go back and forth on whether to post it. Not because I’m ashamed, or scared, or even care that it’s on the internet. More because I am terrified that it will hurt people I care about to the depths of my soul. Do I know that these same people are statistically likely to have had a same/similar experience? Of course. Does that make it easier? No.

I think it would be cathartic to share it. Even tho the majority of the readers here are strangers. Because that’s another ounce of daylight shed on my experience from each person who reads it. I’m still debating. Your thoughts would be so appreciated as to the route I should take. But even if I get 0 or 100 comments on it… the decision still rests with me.