Not Making a Choice IS a Choice

I was chatting with a commenter on my last post and one of the things that came up is that not making a choice is a choice.

It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be nice if by simply not making a choice… not choosing a path when presented with options, that we could stop time?  That the world wouldn’t keep going around us until we had decided what we wanted and were able to take our step down whatever path we chose.  The unfortunate reality is that because time passes, regardless of what we do… regardless of whether we make an intentional choice or not, there’s always a default path that we just end up down because time doesn’t wait.  The other unfortunate thing is that it’s very rare that the default path is anything other than a negative… Maybe it’s not a clearly negative thing right away but dollars to donuts, letting life just happen around you isn’t going to net super positive results.

Nowhere is that more evident than in finances and health and fitness.  I don’t claim to be an expert on either but I have no sage wisdom to give about finances other than ‘pay your bills’ and ‘don’t ignore things’. 

Health and fitness is just one big choice that we make every day.  And putting off that intentional choice until ‘tomorrow’ or ‘January 1’ or ‘after some big event’ is a choice to let more time and more opportunity slip away. 

 Every day that comes along is an opportunity to just let life happen to you and delude yourself into thinking that not making an intentional choice means that the outcome is ‘out of your hands’.  And every day that comes along is equally an opportunity to take responsibility for yourself, and your life and your wellbeing and make a choice.  Sure, maybe it won’t be the best one, or maybe you’ll have to make many choices in a trial and error type of method in order to get where you want to go.  But that means that you are intentionally living and choosing and growing and trying.  Not just letting the default ‘happen’. 

Again I come back to the motto of this blog.  ‘Time passes anyway.  Do something useful with it’.  Every day that goes by is a blessed and golden opportunity to do something purposeful.  Make a choice.  Make many choices. 

If given the choice, which we always are, I choose to choose.

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One Year Ago

Today is my one year anniversary of living the Whole9 lifestyle.  I started my first W30 a year ago today and never looked back.  Have I fallen off the wagon and done some food things I’m not proud of?  Sure…. Anyone that says that they live a normal life for a year and don’t make any off roading choices or make any slip ups are probably lying to you. 

The greatest thing about the last year has been that it has not been entirely about food… in fact, it was really only tangentially about food.  

I’m not going to list all the things I learned here… I’m going to share instead, something I wrote for the Whole 30 blog, which you can see here… It was edited down a bit, so this is the whole copy… 

The motto of my blog and my life is ‘Time passes anyway.  Do something useful with it.’.  This is one of the first times in my life that I can look back at a year and know I did the best I could do with that year to be in a better place than I was a year ago… 

After existing for many years in a vacuum of love and respect and allowing the trauma of that to colour my own vision of myself, I had finally come to a place where I knew I could no longer sustain the way I was living.  Although I didn’t know what the outcome would be I knew that when I really made an effort to love & respect myself is when my whole world would start to change. I started a Whole 30 in February of 2013 and I have never looked back. I choose to eat good whole foods because I truly want to and because it makes my body feel better which, in turn, makes my mind feel better.  It has never been about my size or a pair of pants, it has always been about how I could best show love to myself.  

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 look in the mirror and into my own eyes and see love and beauty, calm and kindness and above all, respect.  I could have punished myself with the gym and obsessed over calories, but the success that I have achieved by doing it from a place of self-love and self-respect is worth so much more than the size of my pants.  When I started this in 2013 I chose to work on my happiness (or lack thereof) and decided that I would focus on how I felt.  Even now, as I’ve seen incredible results and changed my life, the driving factor has always remained how I feel.  Do I feel in control, happy, sane?  I have found that focusing on important internal things instead of a number on the scale or a pants size has turned Whole30 into a lifestyle for me and that means that it’s sustainable. (I’m pretty strict Paleo even when I’m not doing Whole30) Going for a run and eating good, whole, nourishing food because I want to express love for myself; that will stand the test of both good times and bad.  

The side effect of loving myself through a framework of Whole30, has been a weight loss upwards of 80 pounds and many skin and pain conditions have completely resolved themselves.  My life will never be the same and I have Melissa, Dallas and Whole30 to thank for that!

Today is the last day that I compare YearAgoMe with CurrentMe.

Here are the pictures.  Now I just live life as this new me.

IMG_5940 IMG_5687

Waiting for Superman

My friend says he’s confused as to why I”m not blissfully married yet… I told him it’s because I’ve been in hiding for years.  My sister said that in order to find love, to not worry about it and just keep living an open life… I was looking through pictures tonight and found all these selfies taken in 2013… I think if I can stay true to that girl in 2014 and stay out of hiding, I just might let my superman find me. (Music is from Daughtry’s new album Baptism)
(I certainly hope it’s just my ipad acting up and bouncing the photos around like that… I”ll fix it in the morning if it’s actually like that.)

Journey Plan 2014

Every year I write a Journey Plan.  It’s a categorized list of things I want to strive for in the coming year and it is by no means written in stone.  It has things as simple as ‘wash face before bed daily’ (which incidentally, I did every single day of 2013 except for 3) and things more complex like re-uniting with old friends, making a plan for relationships and finding a hobby.  Everything is up for editing, erasing and expounding on throughout the year, because while no place in time is static, an entire year is certainly not and I don’t do this to determine success or failure to sticking to a list.

The other thing I did last year that I’m adopting again this year is a Mission Statement.  Last year my mission statement was ‘Do your best.  Every day’.  I like to think that it was a good beacon for weighing decisions against altho to be honest, there were many periods of time in the last year that I don’t think I was doing my best.  I came up with my 2014 Mission Statement about three months ago and I’ve been keeping it under my hat for just this post.  The funny thing is that there is a great connection between my Mission Statement and the 90SecondsofReal Project that I am a part of.  Why such a great connection?  Because my 2014 Mission Statement is…. Drumroll please…..

Be.  Real.

Funny how coincidences sometimes align themselves so perfectly as to not actually appear as coincidences.  I liked the simplicity of the statement Be Real.  That’s what we should be striving for right?  It’s incredible just how difficult it actually is to be consistently real.  The whole world is set up for sabotage.  The media wants you to wear false eyelashes, dye your hair, whiten your teeth… Social Media only gives you 140 characters to tell a polished version of what your life is actually like and it even provides filters to add an extra layer of ‘unreal’ to your photos.  Self help books suggest you fake it till you make it (which in itself is not such a terrible thing sometimes) and most people who as ‘how are you’ aren’t even listening for your answer… double not listening if your answer happens to be anything other than ‘I’m good thanks, you?’.

A friend of mine sent me a text about three or four months ago and said that he was proud of me for being able to stand up for myself and do the impossible * against all odds and against a world that doesn’t understand and would prefer to see me fail.  It was a little seed that sat in my brain until I realized that all I was doing was being real.  Genuine.  Authentic.   And I wasn’t even doing it ‘on purpose’.  So I wondered… what would happen should I make a concerted effort to be these things with purpose…well, as Dr. Seuss says… oh, the places you will go.

So this year, I plan to practice being real.  It might not always be the popular choice… honestly, that doesn’t bother me.  Because I’m not looking for popularity.  I’m looking for the best me I can be.

For more on ‘real’, check out our new project 90 Seconds of Real and hit the subscribe button.  You’ll get a short video from the five contributors daily to help keep you inspired, moving forward and knowing that we’re all in this journey together!

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!

What’s that on your arm?

Back in May I got myself on the waiting list for a very talented tattoo artist in Vancouver.  At the beginning of July I had a consultation with him where I described what I was looking for, showed some pictures of inspiration and then left the details in his hands.  It’s difficult to describe something artistic when you’re as incapable of fine arts as I am… I left with an appointment for the beginning of August and a sense of calm.  About a week later I emailed another inspiration photo and a story about why I was getting the tattoo, on the off chance that it would help inform the design. 

Throughout the month of July, while I was waiting ever so impatiently for my appointment time, I was constantly asked by friends and family if I’d seen the design yet… No was my reply.. I’ll see it on the day of the tattoo and I have every confidence that it will be perfect so no, I’m not worried.  Last Sunday I took the bus (and then a cab, because I am stupid) downtown… I was calm as a cucumber (even tho I find the mere idea of cucumbers most repellant!) and very confident and peaceful.  It stood to reason I told myself… part of why I was on my way down there to get this piece of art etched onto me was to celebrate the peace I’d found in the last six months. 

I didn’t know what to expect or what the design would look like… but the literal second that I saw his interpretation of my story, I fell in love… It’s a weird thing to say that it was exactly what I wanted; even though I didn’t know what that was until that very moment… His art closed the chapter on the last seven years of my life and celebrated the opening of my mind and heart that has occurred in the last six months.  I look down at my arm and see a reminder of the overwhelming peace I feel now… it reminds me to be thankful for it and to continue to seek peace and strength.  And, it’s really really pretty! 

Please excuse the somewhat crappy picture… the tattoo also looks somewhat crappy because it was only three days old when this photo was taken and it’s still healing… but you get the idea. (also, it’s sideways… but again… you get the idea…)

Hummingbird

And for those of you in Vancouver/GVRD who are wondering…

Gastown Tattoo Parlour

My artist was Logan Howard.  And he will certainly be doing my next tattoo… which isn’t as long away as one might think 😉