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November 6, 2013
Now that my 24 day Holiday Hustle challenge with Advocare is over, I wanted to share my results with you, but first…a major shout out to Janetha for hosting this challenge. Not only were her results amazing (seriously – when this girl does challenges she goes after it!), but she was an incredible coach. The Facebook group was full of encouragement, people checking in when they were struggling, motivational photos and words and recipes for healthy meals and snacks. This group totally helped keep me accountable because I knew that when I woke up, there would be many people who had already checked in and it made me not want to slip up! J’s a great coach and put so much effort into sending out videos and keeping everyone motivated with prizes that she bought with her own money to help keep us going.
I also want to thank my mom because she paid for it! Advocare doesn’t ship to Canada, so, as an early Christmas gift, my mom purchased the 24 day kit (with the extra Thermoplus supplement for me to try out) and it was sent to her and then she shipped it up to me. Just something for those north of the border to be aware of.
So that being said, here are my stats:
Weight: lost ~3 lbs (which honestly still fluctuates)
Inches: lost ~7 inches total (I had to measure myself when I got home as Mikey was away, so this could be more accurate…Obviously I am not the queen of paying attention to detail…)
Habits: Stuck! I’m still eating and enjoying other foods that include some processed sugar, but I feel keenly aware of what I eat and am more mindful and intentional with my choices (and that feels awesome!).
I’m continually reading and learning for myself that weight on the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. I *know* this in my brain, but I still find myself saying “good or bad” in my brain when it comes to how the weight on the scale. I’m no longer saying “good or bad” about my self-worth when it comes to my weight, but I find that I still rely on it more than I’d like. So…that’s where pictures come in! Here are my before, mid-challenge (day 11) and after pictures. Please note that I didn’t mean to take the photos from different angles or in different lights, but unfortunately Mikey was out of town for the mid-challenge photos so I self-timered it, and we were in a hotel in Boston when the challenge ended and the yellow light was the best we could find. I know this skews the photos a bit but that’s life!
I didn’t look “bad” in the before shots, but I didn’t feel great. I wasn’t comfortable in my clothes and all my pants were too tight. You can see the extra weight and puffiness in my face and my legs felt fuller. As I’ve said before, I really wanted something to help kick start mainly my eating habits and last for real, sustainable change.
I felt so good and different on day 11 (middle photo) as compared to 1! Even after finishing and going “off the plan” a bit in the last photo in Boston, I still felt tighter and less bloated then when I began.
These photos show some good change in my glutes, I think! My pose is (unfortunately) a bit different from photo to photo which makes it tougher to truly assess, but I think the T-Nation KB Challenge really changed my legs and glutes! My shoulders and delts feel more defined as well; definitely recommend that challenge to anyone.
I did my best to put the photos side by side in a fuller size; hopefully from day 1 until 24 this shows my change the best:
Not major, but a good kickstart to remind me that how I eat is the most crucial thing to maintaining (and losing) weight. A few things to note:
- I didn’t up my workouts at all during the challenge. I could have, sure, but I was busy with work and clients and simply just made time for my own workouts as I have been doing. I guess this shows the power of how you eat because I didn’t do anything that skyrocketed my metabolism or did any double days. It may not have gotten me ahead in those specific 24 days or with the challenge results, but this is life; it’s sustainable, real change that I can keep up and I love that!
- I will refer to the supplements that I took during the challenge in my first post and will also point you to the half-way post where I had to stop taking the Thermoplus because I experienced negative side effects.
- This is the first “formal” program I’ve ever tried, and I actually liked the plan and structure. It wasn’t too rigid, included real foods and wasn’t about fasting or starving yourself and was very balanced and easy to follow with different options for meals (save for the meal replacement shake for breakfast for days 11-24 which, after having a few extras, I ate because I WANTED to Wednesday for lunch!). It’s reasonable and not gimmicky (although I don’t think I would buy more supplements; I didn’t like what happened to me on the Thermoplus but the other supplements were “safer,” in my opinion, like calcium and a probiotic and multivitamin).
- For someone with not lots of extra cash lying around, this challenge is pricey. I’m not one to spend money on extras like this and find that, even post-challenge, I’m happy going back to real food and striving for that ever-popular “80/20″ split of 80% “clean” eating and 20% “as you like” eating. For me, this DOES involve sugar, some candy and a glass of wine here or there (although I still haven’t had one even though I’m now able to!) and part of that reason is the cost. I simply wouldn’t be able to keep it up on my own and if I’m thinking sustainable for life, I’m thinking real food and moving more in my daily life! Those are my two main rules I live by when it comes to my health and fitness.
I’m glad I did this challenge and it became easier and easier to say, “No thanks!” to options out and not feel deprived but rather empowered at the choices I was making. I loved the community and doing this with a team and for sure wouldn’t have stuck to this without that element. And although they weren’t drastic, I’m happy with my results! I feel jump started to keep getting after it and pursuing this lifestyle in as balanced way as possible. I think this challenge actually showed me that I’m not too far off from where I want to be, and to lighten up a bit when it comes to comparison with others but to also honestly keep in mind that I ALWAYS have control over what goes into my mouth and that those choices affect how I feel, sleep, workout and live! I want to keep these good feelings up and also enjoy the cake or wine or candy corn (only seasonally…that ship has sailed for another year!) without guilt and then move on.
Thanks for following along with my challenge and for allowing this to be a place where I can post pictures without worry of judgment; I am who I am and I appreciate that those who read this get that!
Have you ever tried a challenge similar to this before? Did you see change from it, have you kept that change up and would you try something like this challenge?
(yesterday’s post-workout shoot!)
Have a stellar Thursday friends! Live well & be well,
November 4, 2013
When Mikey originally told me that I had been invited to speak at the Friends of Mel “The Art of Living Life Beyond Cancer” Conference last year, I was floored. He had just come back from the conference where he spoke and the next time I would be there too! When you live a story and learn from so many people, you gain so much experience from the journeys shared; I was going to get the chance to share from my story.
One of mine and Mikey’s favorite quotes is:
“Facts bring us to knowledge, but stories lead to wisdom.” – Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen
Cancer survivors and their care givers get so bombarded with facts as they dive into a new world of hospital visits, doctor appointments and procedures, but no one gives you a guide book on how to navigate the psychosocial aspects of the journey. I loved this conference because there were a lot of helpful facts presented as well as many stories shared, and sharing stories reminds us that we’re human, that others are going through the same things and helps make sense of the facts that we’re learning along the way.
I have so much information to share with you guys from the 2 sessions I attended, I almost don’t know where to start! The day kicked off with a remarkable keynote presentation by Mitch Golant, a name I have heard in the cancer community for a while even though I don’t live and breathe it like my husband does. Not only is Mitch a kind, engaging and active (he’s training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with his son-in-law this year!) man, he’s also a supporter to his wife who is a survivor of breast cancer for 2 years. Furthermore, Mitch is a leading researcher in the area of psychosocial cancer care for cancer survivors and has more recently been focusing on how feeling of distress impact people who have a cancer diagnosis or in whose lives cancer has made a dent. The talk was great as he discussed what distress actually means and looks like, the repercussions is can have in our lives and touched on post-traumatic growth. What a way to start the day!
After that, we broke for individual sessions. There were so many great ones but I chose to go to those that were most directly applicable to my work as a personal trainer who often works with cancer survivors. The first session I attended was entitled, “A Fitness Plan for Cancer Survivors,” by the very experienced, well-researched and real-life 67 year old inspiring trainer, Josie Gardiner. Among the other things I learned about program planning for breast cancer survivors (because this cancer leaves the most physiological trauma to the body and survivors of other cancer can base their fitness plans off this one), I learned a few interesting facts.
For one, did you know that after chemo, you can lose as much bone density because of the treatments as you can in 10 YEARS? Wow…it sure reiterated the value of strength training to me as a personal trainer telling people to keep lifting weights to stop their bone density from diminishing!
On another strength training note, although I knew that lifting boosted your metabolism for hours longer than a cardio workout, I didn’t know that post-cardio your BMR (basal metabolic rate, or how many calories you burn while at rest) went back to normal only 15 minutes after your workout as compared to up to 24 hours later with a strength workout! Ladies – another reminder to leave your fear and initimidation at the door and lift some weights!
I loved that the people in attendance were ranging in their abilities and age – there were some very small, elderly women hunched over but still moving and getting tips about their fitness and others who were trainers from a local YMCA. There are some outstanding programs offered for free for members and non-members alike of the YMCA for cancer survivors (even 20 years post-diagnosis!) and breast cancer survivors specifically in the area. Some great resources out there to be discovered, and I love the philosophy not only of the program but of Josie herself – it’s about real movements and listening to your body and not punishing or depriving yourself to see change.
One of my biggest takeaways was that, for cancer survivors specifically, you should “start low [weight-wise] and go slow [intensity-wise].” Josie mentioned the odd trend in fitness right now, the one in which so many people say “OH MAN! I am SO sore today…that workout ROCKED!” We don’t come home from the dentist and the next day, hand wrapped around a sore mouth, say, “OH MAN! I’m in so much pain from that root canal. That’s the best dentist in town!” No! Pain is your body telling you something and we need to listen to our bodies – they are out best indicator of how we’re doing.
What a great workshop! It only primed the pump for the next breakout session I attended, “Eat Well Everyday: Simple Ways to Maintain a Healthy Weight During and After Cancer Treatment to Promote Survivorship.” The extremely handsome and fit couple, Stacy and Russell Kennedy, put the session on in an engaging, tag-team presentation that left me wanting to talk with them more. Stacy was the nutritionist in the documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” (highly recommended!) and both Stacy, Russ and their kids will be in the sequel! Although I didn’t learn anything earth-shattering new about how or what to eat, I learned a lot about the psychology of why and how we eat from Russ’ expertise as a personal trainer and psychologist. The two of them have impressive resumes and I couldn’t take enough notes during their session.
One of the most fascinating things I learned was about a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is essentially the opposite of testosterone in that it doesn’t bring out competition and, possibly later, anger. Let me explain: oxytocin increases connection felt between people (and even as it’s present in animals) and, among other positive side effects, decreases one’s food intake, essentially because they’re happy and are not isolated. Biomechanically, isolation makes you eat more (think: less serotonin and dopamine and therefore more eating as an outlet to release those hormones and be happy).
Long ago, this hormone was discovered but found to only be present during breast feeding and giving birth (isn’t that fascinating?!), so researchers deemed it not worth exploring. Later, they found it was present during orgasms and eventually found that the difficult-to-measure hormone:
- increased with sex, dance, massage, prayer and even social media involvement (score!)
- boosted as a result of generosity and charitable donations
- was present when shared emotions with a group experience caused increased connection within the group, and
- that the perfect amount of contact for this hormone to be fully released was 8 hugs a day.
Russ joked that if every time you drank your glass of water you hugged someone, you’d be set!
I LOVED learning this because it shows how valuable community is, even when it comes to how we eat. We eat less in a group setting when there is connection and community because we aren’t fighting over it – there’s less testosterone present and the drive for competition is not as strong. Again, so fascinating! So if we are connected to people around us and our relationships are strong, we’re less likely to worry about food and other things like being on a diet (which over half of Americans are on at any given moment).
We learned about different studies involving the way Americans and Europeans view food (knowing when you’re done eating) and the main reasons people overeat, and looking at the psychology behind why and how we eat made me think that understanding this is the root to understanding my clients (and people in general) more. I would love to do what Russ does and learn more on that end of things; combined with his nutritionist wife, he and Stacy are a dynamite combo.
I ducked out during the question/answer portion to connect with Mikey, who was setting up for his keynote presentation over lunch. He was just the right amount of nervous – not so much that it overtook him but enough because he was sharing his story in front of 200 people. Just as I knew he would (I am a wife confident in her husband!), he did an incredible job speaking and inspiring others with his (and, consequently, our) story. He was composed, funny, engaging and had the woman who introduced him and finished after him in tears before and after his presentation. With a standing ovation, he finished speaking and I was amazed at God’s faithfulness in our story upon reflecting on all that he had brought us through as a couple. To see where Mikey is now, post-treatment in his survivorship journey, he truly is not only surviving but thriving, and I am so proud of him and respect him so much.
* I must also mention that my husband was nominated and chosen for one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Calgary for 2013, with his photo and write up appearing last week! Unfortunately we were in Boston and missed the gala and awards ceremony, but click the link above to check out the neat things he’s doing for cancer survivorship in Alberta! *
After lunch we each headed off to present our individual sessions, he on telling your story and me on a workshop for caregivers using clips of our most recent film webseries, “Valleys.” The session went really well and there were 2 survivors and the rest caregivers in attendance, some, like Mitch, with some incredible background and insight into the caregivers’ journey who added much to my presentation, and others like a man I met who had supported his now-adult child through 6 cancer recurrences over many years and, with tears in his eyes, said he had never once been asked how he was faring through it all. There were many, many stories that we could have shared and I think would have been shared if there was more time, but that concluded the session and then the conference ended with the closing ceremonies.
I am extremely grateful to Pauline and Luci from the Friends of Mel Foundation for their generosity to Mike and I, for the chance for me to share and to the incredible Heather Palmer for suggesting me to Pauline to speak on behalf of caregivers – thank you. There were many things I took away from this conference both personally and professionally, and it was with a joyful heart that I said goodbye to Mikey as he left with Mitch and Heather in a cab to the airport the night before me, headed solo to Rotterdam for his next whirlwind week of presentations.
“His grace is sufficient for me.”
I hit up the free shuttle to the mall again after the conference, wandered around Target for nostalgia’s sake, bought my first frozen yogurt of the trip at PinkBerry and headed back to read my book, take a bath, sleep and finish “Forrest Gump” on TV.
5 rounds of 1 min sprints at 10 MPH & 1 min walking at 4 MPH for 20 minutes total
5 rounds of 5 strict chin/pull ups & 20 weighted walking lunges/squats (I alternated between the different exercises)
After that, I boarded the T, took a ride to the underground bus, hopped aboard and made it to the airport. I think you guys know the rest of the story.
(sporting my Friends of Mel bracelet!)
Back in Calgary and welcomed by snow, I had a lovely Indian dinner out with my in-laws who picked me up and had a great chat with my mom at home about the week.
Thanks for wading through all my information! I had so much to share and decided to go for it. As I mentioned in yesterday’s Boston adventures post, I will update you on my Holiday Hustle results, thoughts and before & after pics (because everyone likes to see those!)…just beware my very not-Californian body with some white skin. Live well & be well, friends – snow or sun and wherever you’re at!
September 4, 2013
Motivation. It’s what helps kick start new ways of living, new hobbies, new workouts, new eating plans. But sometimes it’s hard to come by. A reader and friend recently asked me via Facebook how I stay motivated to keep working out. She writes,
“I wanted to know if I could ask you about how you stay motivated to push yourself in your day to day life (to stay healthy, work out, etc)… [After a physical accomplishment via dragon boating,] Now I find myself wondering why am I not motivated? I am actually feeling borderline “self-sabotage” mode. Why is that? What can I do to push myself forward again? I really feel stuck. Thank you.”
While I’m no expert on motivation, I do move most days of the week, so I thought I’d break down what keeps me moving and eating well and throw it to you guys to share your tips with this reader too!
Internal versus external motivation.
The first thing to observe about yourself is if you are internally or externally motivated. When it comes to exercise, I am driven to move without extra incentive. I don’t need an accountability partner, to pay for a trainer, the promise of new clothes or a pedicure to get me active. I LOVE to move. I feel better when I workout, it’s not often a chore for me and most days I find time to make squeeze in a workout.
Why? Because I’m internally motivated to move.
However, when it comes to eating, I’m not just motivated to eat well for the sake of eating well. Meaning, I need some other kind of motivation: a challenge, an upcoming trip involving a bathing suit, etc to “tighten up” my eating. To be honest, I wish it was the other way around – easier for me to eat well and more of a struggle to move. Why? Because it makes more of a difference in your physique and your health; if you eat well, your insides are well! Moving makes a huge difference too, but sometimes I wish it was the other way around. I have a friend who can stick to her nutrition plan like *snap* THAT if she wants to shed a few pounds or see some change in her body. I gotta work on that.
Figuring out if you’re in- or externally motivated when it comes to eating and working out is the first step to knowing what next action to take to, well, be motivated!
To get motivated on a day when I’m not feeling particularly keen to move or cook a healthy meal, here are some of my go-to plans:
- Do something different. Take a kickboxing class, pick up a new vegetable to try out, change up your workout time. Try setting a fresh tone to your day by getting your workout done in the morning or workout after work and see how your body responds – maybe it will be energized and change the feel of your evenings! Just switch it up to give your body something new!
- Bring people into the equation. Maybe it helps you to post on social media sites to get your workout in, or maybe it gives you a boost to meet a friend at the gym or the park for a run. Perhaps you and a coworker can commit to a lunch walk or you can make batches of lunch for healthy meals throughout the week.
- Reevaluate your goals. It could be time to see if your goals have changed. A fresh focus could be all you need: reset with a new goal in the gym, train for a destination trip (like a backpacking trip or surf resort!) or sign up for an event like a race.
- Rest! You could be burnt out on tracking your macros and calories or training – maybe you need a break. Don’t worry about losing your fitness or gaining weight, but instead relax and let your body rest for a few days or a week.
- Crank the tunes! A simple hit of “Eye of the Tiger” in your ears could be the difference between a half-ass workout and a killer burn!
- Reality check: remember this:
Moreover, training (and eating!) shouldn’t be the sole focus of your life. Check out this great article by Nia Shanks about how “working out, eating well, and ultimately building the body you want should enhance and improve your life, not define and rule it.”
So…I wanted to turn it over to you, readers! How do YOU stay motivated to move or eat well when you’re feeling down, depressed or just not into it? Share your tips!
Until next time, live well & be well (and keep it all in balance! You are more than your training and nutrition!),