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January 21, 2014
If you had more hours in a day, what you do with it? Get that workout in? Read more books? Meet a friend for lunch? Write some letters to your aunt or uncle?
I was chatting the other day with my mom – one of the only people with whom I really talk about my physical struggles with, partly because I don’t need to voice it that often, partly because I know I’m strong and healthy and fit and partly because we all need an outlet, personal trainer or not.
We were referencing people in our lives who seem consumed by exericse or how they eat, noting that we, too, have had moments where we were to consumed with these thoughts. I made the comment that I just don’t WANT to spend that much of my free time thinking thoughts about my body, my next meal, or getting another workout in. It’s not worth the time and stress to me, nor is it worth me sacrificing certain foods or events in order to maintain the level of lean-ness that I desire.
This idea came up again last night while having dinner with two friends – sisters – from the gym. In a funny moment, one of my friend’s belts popped open after dinner, the straps so thin they finally gave way, and her sister remarked, “I hope you don’t take that the wrong way and let it worry you!” Both women are healthy, fit and attractive, and I commented that she didn’t seem like the girl who had those thoughts too often. She proceeded to tell me that she heard via a Ted Talk recently that women, on average, think thoughts about their bodies (“Does this light make me look good?” “My thighs look fat when I’m sitting.”) every 30 seconds. 30 seconds! That’s nuts! And we all agreed we’ve been there, done that. And sometimes get sucked back into those thoughts, but our intention is to simply not give ourselves that much thought.
Think about if you had more time in your mind – filled with less of you and more of others. Or more time to think about life. To make decisions. To be kind to yourself. What if more of these thoughts took over?
If we are thinking these thoughts every 30 seconds (on average, and of course not every woman struggles with this, and I’m sure it’s not exclusive to women), you can add that up and deduce that we’re spending TOO MUCH time thinking (mostly critical) thoughts about ourselves. So, if you had time, what would you think about and how would you spend that resulting time?
I’d be grateful for the sky, for crisp air in Calgary that stings a bit but makes me feel alive when I step outside. I’d think about friends and remember to turn those thoughts into prayers. I’d probably look up good recipes and take time to make some healthy food instead of looking up workouts to work off those gummy bears.
More confirmation on this topic came when I received the most recent newsletter from Neghar Fonooni. She talks about how much her weight fluctuates lately (~7 lbs, which makes me feel pretty normal with about a 4 lbs weight change in either direction) but how she’s so much happier. To quote Neghar:
My life is awesome; it’s so much more meaningful than it was when everything revolved around my body fat percentage. That’s because I have so much more to offer the world than a lean physique, and so do you.Now, understand that I am not saying that fat loss is not a worthy pursuit. I’m not insinuating that wanting to lose fat is wrong or meaningless in any way whatsoever. Fat loss pursuits are valuable as long as they are done with positive intentions, self-love, and compassion.
January 6, 2014
Hello and happy Monday, friends! I hope you guys all had a great first weekend of 2014. Although I’m not one to set resolutions, it’s neat to be intentional at the start of the year and use it as a launchpad for things you want to change, address or be more mindful of, and this weekend gave me a chance to do that in a few ways.
First of all, for Christmas I received a Nike Fuel Band (thanks, mom and dad!). Although I generally have no problem being active – I love to move and don’t often struggle with workout motivation – it was something I wanted to show me how active the hours outside my workouts were.
I promptly set it up (simple to do) and put it on, burpee-ing around the house, practicing handstands, choosing to go in to the store to get more steps in when I might just listen to the radio in the car while Mikey ran in to get a last-minute item.
Nike Fuel Band got started in CA, in my parents’ living room
Mikey and I had talked about getting them for ages, so after I received one as a surprise, we came back to Canada and bought him one. For a guy who DOES struggle with motivation to move (he could sit and think and read and type and work all day!), I’m loving how it’s changed him! The Fuel Band works as more of a behavioral than an analytical tool, meaning that it’s not the most accurate (I get more “points” by waving my arm back and forth than from a tough weight workout that wasn’t as aerobic), if it works to help you move more, that’s a successful tool. I’ve NEVER seen Mikey join me in a workout or, more importantly, willingly just start doing burpees or jumping jacks to get closer to his daily goal. Pretty neat, hey?
I loved getting back in the gym last week and also doing some workouts at home over the weekend.
But what good is moving more if you’re eating poorly? So that’s something else Mikey and I, along with several clients from the gym, are teaming up to tackle. We’re not necessarily removing major foods from our diets, but rather focusing on eating more mindfully and saying “no thanks” to refined sugars, processed foods and alcohol. You know – the usual “clean eating” that isn’t extreme. The goal here is to establish habits that are sustainable and easy to maintain, and we worked this weekend at not snacking mindlessly or eating in off schedules. Thursday and Friday were great, as was most of Saturday, until the evening when, at a friend’s birthday party, we both ate too many sweets and candy (our weakness is gummy bears!). A friend said it made him feel better to see me eating junk food with all my #fitfluential posts on Instagram which made me pause and think. I’m very open about what I eat (everything) and how often (working on the moderation thing) but I suppose I never Instagram myself diving in the candy bowl or going back for those extra bites of food! But I’m very normal in that regard, let me assure you. No alcohol for me that night, just a few too many handfuls of gummies not because I was feeling guilty for indulging, but because I was full and consciously ate more than I needed.
The win in that scenario? Definitely recognizing my hunger levels (even if I chose to ignore them) and making most my weekend be filled with water and things I only really wanted. Perhaps because I knew that all processed sugars were being stopped Monday I indulged a little more. But every day, every snack, every next decision is a new choice, a fresh slate, and I went to bed feeling like I’m ready to be in control of those decisions. It feels good to be mindful and I’m actually looking forward to a few concentrated weeks of nourishment!
cooking for friends Sunday night
After a really neat service at church, we had a fun lunch at my in-laws’ home and got caught up on post-NYE activities. It was great to catch up and to take a few minutes to begin the year in prayer and reflection with them; I’m so thankful they initiated that with us. The service was about Jesus- after just celebrating him at Christmas, our church is doing a new series asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” for a few weeks – and today we focused on Jesus as Savior. I loved hearing the stories of our radical Lord who isn’t a doormat, isn’t a good luck charm, isn’t a “get-you-out-of-a-jam” Jesus but rather is the Jesus who saves with grace, with love, without judgement and who is patient. Being reminded of how Jesus saved women in a culture when they were looked down upon, how he saved people from their lifestyles of sin who the religious sect would never interact with, how even in his last breath on the cross he was still saving thieves. He extended grace but never pushed it, allowed people to first accept his grace and then to change their lives.
I want to live in the reality of a Risen and Saving Jesus this year! But not just because it’s a new year, but because I want everyday to be surprised and excited by the truth of Jesus’ life in me. Body, mind and spirit – he is alive and I want to live as his ambassador extending that same loving, non-judgmental and accepting grace to those in my life.
So it was a good weekend of being refreshed in many ways, including lots of great time with people! From lunch with the in-laws to having friends over for dinner, a birthday party with lots of close friends and some good moments just with Mikey, I’m moving into 2014 and this next week feeling refreshed and ready. Who knows what God has in store? But I want to enjoy it to the fullest with his life, a healthy body and a supportive community I’m feeding into.
Oh – and the second half of our #californiachristmas video is live! Thanks Mikey for capturing so many memories…reliving them as I’m back to work in the “real world” today.
Live well & be well, friends!
November 18, 2013
(image source) Hey guys! Long time no talk, hey? Feels like it’s been a while since I blogged and I wanted to touch base and say hi today as the week begins!
As I wrote towards the end of last week, my weekend was filled up with lots of learning as I was in an Exercise & Cancer course at the University of Calgary Friday night and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am – 5 pm. Hence the reason I was not very present on social media (which was nice, actually!) as I was in a classroom setting with other fitness professionals and researchers. I learned a lot through the different sessions, including detailed information about the effects of chemo, radiation and surgery treatments on the body, the side effects and late-effects post-treatment, different medications and heard from people from all kinds of disciplines. Although much of the information was quite detailed, I wanted to share my top takeaways from the course that I am very grateful to have taken that apply to everyone, cancer survivor or not!
1.) Do what you can. In other words, it’s important to think about all that you CAN do during treatments, even if it doesn’t seem like much. I know many stories of people who, because of intense fatigue, could only get up to go to the bathroom, and even that was a struggle. Daily life tasks become extremely difficult, and the recommendation of 10,000 steps daily or the 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week is absolutely inconceivable. BUT…can you walk around your kitchen table once today? Great. Can you walk your son to the bus stop and make it home okay? Awesome. Do you have the strength for a weight circuit but at low intensity? Go for it! Do.what.you.can, and the little bits of movement truly add up and will make your recovery better and your energy levels higher.
2.) Move more. This ties in to the first point, but just reiterating the value of movement. Don’t worry yourself with “exercise” or even “physical activity.” Instead, think about ways you can simply move more in your daily life. This, along with “eat real food,” has always been my fitness mantra. Move.more.
3.) Listen to your body. I think one of the hardest things I went through with Mikey during our cancer experience was the loss of life before cancer. There is a real loss of what used to be compared to now what is, and, as it was for us, it can be very hard to not compare your “new normal” to who you used to be or what you used to be able to do. We all do this, and I think women especially compare (my biggest struggle? Comparing to the body I used to have, the way my muscles or stomach used to look, even though I am still active and fit and healthy now). But many people’s bodies drastically change, their energy levels plummet and life looks very different than it did pre-diagnosis. So respect your energy that day, listen to you body and only do what you can handle. Some days that will be more and others that will be less, and that’s okay.
4.) Trust the research. Without a doubt, 100% of the time, the research shows that exercise helps. Bottom line. In fact, as compared to many drugs it’s proven to help as much and sometimes more than the drugs. It IS a magic pill! It can be scary to trust your body again post-treatment and the fears and worries that weren’t there before now are, or are multiplied. But trust the research. Even 5 minutes a day of mild to moderate movement is proven to give you a physical and psychological boost! Many people can lose as much bone density in their treatments as a person does in 10 years of life! Yet another reason to strength train, starting with body weight and progressing to light weight and then adding pounds on. So, after talking with your health care team for clearance first, trust the research and take that first step to move more.
Of course it’s different as you move through a new phase of life with hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, treatments, a change in work and pace of life, etc, but moving while on treatment and the benefits it has for everyone also apply to the general public. Sometimes we feel (or are shown in the media) that exercise needs to be intense, like P90X or Insanity or CrossFit. Those modalities are all fine and great for many people, but the pressure to move need not be there – you don’t have to be extreme! It’s whatever you can do, that day, simply focusing on more movement and trusting that the little increases are not only good for you but contributing to a better quality of life. And that’s what it’s about, right?
Ultimately, exercise should enhance our quality of life, not make us more stiff or leave us wiped out with less energy to enjoy the rest of our daily life activities. So whether you are on treatment or off, struggling with managing a busy household or staff at the office or are coming off an injury, remember those tips above and implement them on some level into your life.
Do any of those thoughts resonate with you? Tell me a highlight of your weekend!
Thanks for letting me share my journey with you! Loving all I’m learning and seeing how applicable it is across disciplines and yet specific to people dealing with an illness specific to how their body is dealing with it. I’ll be back later this week with more life updates and a workout on the blog! Have a great week, friends! Live well & be well (and go move more!),