friday find: june 28

my intention with “friday find” posts is to share something–a blog, an article, a video, a song, a person, a book, whatever–that I’ve found inspiring or informative on a weekly basis and to share my take-aways.

Last week’s takeaways were about embracing the body that happens when you train for something (creating fitness, strength) instead of fixing and punishing. If you know me, you know that lately I’ve been into CrossFit and lifting heavy things and lately I’ve been healthier than ever before. I like the CrossFit/Life By Design/Paleo/Ancestral Health community’s take on health because it’s often placed above aesthetic goals.

Robb Wolf was one of the first paleo advocates whose stuff I really cared about. This post on his website about the female athlete triad is new–but I wish I’d read it years ago when I was heavy into the triad myself.  While I don’t agree wholeheartedly with the article’s  “women are fragile” statement, I do agree that our hormones are fragile and that weight loss can come at a cost to them and therefore to our health. I don’t know if labelling women who suffer from these three things–bone loss, loss of menstruation, and low energy availability–is really necessary (see yesterday’s post), but I do think that addressing those things is absolutely critical–and that’s where the value is in this article. The sentiment that there’s no quick fix is bang on and so is the suggestion to take a holistic approach to addressing your behaviours and making them healthier.

My take-away: This is a big problem that requires a big overhaul: what if girls didn’t want to lose weight but wanted to be healthy and trusted that their weight would be a-okay if they just took care of themselves?

Bonus: The Robb Wolf post links to a guest post on Free The Animal (“No One’s Power but Our Own: Paleo Sexist Woes, and an Invitation to Rise Up and Roar”) that was also a good read.


ABCs: what you didn’t even know you wanted to know about me!

My friend and fellow blogger Breanna “tagged” me with this survey and I jumped at the chance to procrastinate figured why not go ahead and join in the fun! Here goes…
A. Attached or Single?
Attached. I was pretty sure I was destined to be a cat lady, but then this fella came into the picture…
he's a keeper

he’s a keeper

B. Best Friend? I have a lot of uber awesome friends. There’s the best texting friend, the best skyping friend, the best workout friend, the best biking friend, the best shopping friend, the best coaching friend, the best school friend, the best coffee-drinking friend…my list goes on.
C. Cake or pie? Cake. Chocolate. With ice cream. They’re more fun to eat, and way more fun to bake. This weekend, I’m going to try to recreate these bad boys I made in honour of Canada Day a few summers ago.
D. Day of choice?
Wednesdays cuz they’re date night, Thursdays because it’s a blast (Beat Thursdays at GFC), Saturdays because I have embraced the ones that don’t have plans and love going to a CrossFit class and/or the market in the morning and then seeing what happens.
E. Essential Item?
I’m agreeing with Breanna on this one and the phone, but since I want to come up with my own, how about my journals (I have about 4 going)?
F. Favorite color?
Pink will be mad at me for saying lime green! I like them both. And brown, if that counts.
G. Gummy bears or worms?
Gummy worms, because they remind me of mudpie treats and my childhood.
H. Home town?
I call Sarnia my hometown because it’s where I did most of my growing, but London is quickly becoming “home”!
I. Favorite Indulgence? 
Ice cream! Or the 16$ jars of coconut butter I devour with a spoon, or the equally expensive equally as dangerous jars of cashew butter.
J. January or July? 
January is full of fresh starts but I love July and summertime bliss: biking, travelling, sunshine, hiking, swimming, being tan. 🙂
K. Kids?
Other people’s? Sure. My own? 10 year plan?
L. Life isn’t complete without?
Gut reaction: coffee! sweating! books!
M. Marriage date?
N. Number of brothers/sisters?
I’ve got an awesome older sister who is workin’ on her PhD and inspiring me to follow my heart!
O. Oranges or Apples?
Apples for sure.
P. Phobias?
Q. Quotes? 
This could go on forever. Just go to my inspiration reel instead, but know that my fav (and the one I want tattooed on my body) is:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” –Anais Nin
R. Reasons to smile?
Because life is short! There’s always going to be a reason why you could frown, but why not focus on the things that make you smile instead? Try it!
S. Season of choice?
Fall. I like the sense of renewal, I like pumpkin and fall fairs, and I love boots and that it becomes nearly socially acceptable to talk about the countdown to Christmas that is always on in my world.
T. Tag some peeps. 
My pick’s Chelsea @ Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen. I’m being lazy here. If you have a blog and the time to do this, you should. I’ll read it, and so will your mom, I’d bet!
U. Unknown fact about me?
I have played the violin since I was 7 years old.
V. Vegetable?
Brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes.
W. Worst habit? 
Swearing. A lot. Especially the f bomb, which I’m realizing doesn’t make me sound quite as classy as I’d like and might even be a bigger deal than that.
X. Xray or Ultrasound?
I dislike needing either and am pretty glad to have left the whole unexplained periods, constant overuse injury, etc. phase of my life (and the xrays, ultrasounds, and MRIs associated with trying to figure things out) behind in favour of taking care of myself and trusting my body instead.
Y. Your favorite food?
Is coffee a food? After that, nut butter, pork, squash, apples, bananas and kale come to mind!
Z. Zodiac sign?
I’m out of letters and questions. Hope you enjoyed learning things you didn’t even know you wanted to know about me…

think about it: disordered indeed

it’s thursday, which means it’s time to share something that really made me think..and to really go into what i think about it. 

I used to dream about being an anchor on the Today Show, but the longer I go and the more I watch the videos critically, the more I realize it’s probably a good thing I’m not following in Hoda’s shoes.

Last week, I came across “Quitting caffeine is now a mental health disorder.” After I thought about my own thus far failed attempts at quitting caffeine, I laughed. I’d suddenly developed a mental health disorder without even knowing it.

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 7.01.33 PM

I’ve got a few thoughts…

When we give things a label we only strengthen the desire to “fix” and unfortunately, fixing often lends itself to coming up with band-aid solutions. I’m curious when the drugs to fight this disorder will start popping up.

When people have a name for what’s really a state they create, it’s easier to dissociate from what’s really going on—in this case, that they’re drinking too much coffee. Giving something the weight of a condition can be risky because it takes I the power away from where it really lies—with our actions and ultimately, with us.

There’s something frustrating about this line and about the idea of needing to meet a certain number of shitty symptoms before recognizing the need to address what’s going on:

“Doctors won’t diagnosis caffeine intoxication, a persistent jittery feeling of overstimulation, unless patients experience five of a dozen symptoms. These include restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis (a fancy term for urinating too much), stomach upset, muscle twitching, cluttered thoughts, a fluttering heart, manic behavior, and psychomotor agitation (what we know as nervous behaviors such as pacing or hand wringing).”

I’m reminded of, many moons ago, sitting in my doctor’s office and having to answer a questionnaire to determine if I was suffering from an eating disorder—according to manual standards. I’m fairly certain that the girl who’d made herself throw up once already that day needed to address something regardless of whether or not she met the arbitrary criteria on the sheet my doctor was reading off of. Waiting to address an issue (or issues) until we’re “sick enough” should not be our strategy when it comes to health.

In our world, the tendency is to treat the disorder, the condition, the problem. We love to name problems and we love to come up with solutions. But chances are, the issue is far more reaching—affecting and coming from a host of things—than the problem at hand. Treating a person’s behaviours, actions, motivation—their whole self—isn’t as simple as flexing our fixing muscles, but I’d argue that it could revolutionize that person’s health. Think of the carryover. On a larger scale, looking past people’s problems and addressing their whole selves could revolutionize a hell of a lot in health and in society.

big picture

what are the negative habits you let yourself “get away” with? if they turned into a disease, would it change things?
where else might you wait for a label to deal with things in your life? 
where do you find yourself focusing on problems?  

Bonus: Like I alluded to with my personal example, the same thing happens with eating disorders and I caught this article about EDNOS, binge eating, and the DSM manual last week too. While I’m glad that people are realizing that eating disorders don’t always look like anorexia or bulimia, messed up thoughts around food should be addressed whether they’re “serious enough” to meet a set of criteria or not.

food for thought: body composition

“food for thought” posts are my chance to share an opinion, an insight, or something to do with food–think nutrition, emotional eating, a recipe, you name it. 

I have done a good deal of blogging about what I think about weight and how my perspective has changed over time and through my experiences. The scale and I have a messy history but if I had to say where I’m at today, I’d sum it up like this: weight is just a byproduct.

I would go so far as to say that the same goes for body composition, which I think a lot of people (women especially, healthy living bloggers in particular) will start using as a way to track themselves and control themselves after shunning the scale. While I don’t think it’s a good idea to replace one number you’re obsessing with over another, I found myself curious about where I’m at right now in terms of numbers, knowing that I’m at a healthier place than ever in terms of how I feel and what my body is doing.

With that curiosity, I signed up to have my body fat tested—twice. I had a caliper test, which can be really inaccurate (or really accurate, depending on a bunch of factors), and then hopped in the bod pod within a week of each other.

After my caliper measurement, which read 27% and put me in the “normal” range, I felt a little emotional, but I quickly realized that there was nothing to be upset over. I thought about what number would have made me “happy” and realized something: happy doesn’t come from a number (weight, body fat percentage, paycheque, etc.). I already am happy.

When I went in the bod pod, my reading was higher: 32.6%. I was pleasantly surprised at how cool I was with it, even though it puts me in the “excess fat” category on the chart they give you with your reading (“indicates an excess accumulation of fat over time”).


I think a big part of what made me cool with it was this: along with the percentage, I also took a look at the raw numbers and the amount of lean mass that I have. The number 108.2lbs, is scarily close to the weight I was when I was at my lightest and most sick with my eating disorder. Since then, I’ve certainly gained some fat—and fat that I needed to gain if getting my period back for three months in a row is any indication—but I’m also sure that I’ve gained muscle. Focusing on what I do have—a healthy body that can heal from years of abuse—certainly makes me smile.

When the prof who ran the test gave me my results and went over them with me, I told him my story. He said many girls who routinely eat too little and starve themselves to a lower body fat percentage will gain a disproportionate amount of fat when they start eating again. I’m looking at myself with love and am grateful for the fact that I started strength training and hanging around with my Life By Design peeps when I did. We had a chat about the protective qualities of muscle, especially as you age, and I was reminded of what I already know but could probably use a reminder of. With that perspective and a renewed emphasis on how important it is to preserve lean mass if you do decide to try to change your body composition, a few things that I used to associate with changing my body suddenly seemed crazy: copious quantities of cardio for the sake of shaping my body (this is different than going for a trail run because it’s beautiful or riding my bike up and down mountains because it brings me bliss) and trying to eat as little as possible/skipping meals. Why would I want to compromise the lean mass that I already have? Losing strength would suck but losing health would suck more.

Given my story and my background, I don’t think that setting a goal to lose fat would serve me. I recognize where I’m at and that I’m finally learning to trust my body and let it do its thing. It’s also learning to trust me and I’m choosing to be patient with it and to trust that if I’m carrying extra weight or fat, it will take care of itself over time as things balance out.

That being said, I think the healthy goal, if I’m deciding to set one, is obvious here: gain muscle. Get stronger, gain health, and by association, change my body composition (assuming that I don’t gain fat in the process). When I think about how it feels to focus on building and creating something versus the way it used to feel to focus on losing and fixing myself, I’m struck by how much I wish I’d had these realizations sooner. To be honest, I know I’m already making this goal a reality without realizing it—last week, someone asked me how much weight I’d lost. I laughed a fair bit when I got to respond with how I’d gained 20lbs. It also dawned on me that I don’t necessarily look like someone else who is 32.6% body fat and this is just another number.

32 32b

As a side note, there’s a part of me that knows that I didn’t have the option of getting upset over my “excess fat” designation not only because I know that I’m healthy again but also because I’m doing what I want to do and not what I think I “should” do. It’s actually enjoyable to exercise when you do what you want. For me right now, that’s mostly CrossFit and lifting heavy things, some yoga plus swimming, biking, and running here and there (maybe once or twice a week right now). Figuring out what I like and what feels good and doesn’t compromise my health has taken time, but owning what I’m doing and choosing it rather than slogging through the motions and doing what I think will make my thighs look a certain way or keep my weight at a certain number is empowering. It takes blame and resentment out of the equation and gives me back my power, and that feels good.

Summary of “aha” moments:

  1. Focus on the positive.
  2. Happy doesn’t come from a number.
  3. Muscle is good.
  4. Take responsibility: do what you love and what’s good for you and own it.

have you had your body fat % measured?
do you care about this number?
what are your body/health goals like right now?


bonus! here’s a timely post from my friend Justine who is an Eat By Design coach. She talks about goals and what really serves us and rocks my world: “Enough is not a number. We cannot measure our sufficiency in dollars or pounds. Underlying every goal, every change we wish to make is the feeling that we are not good enough.”

on the right foot: on your own

a life lesson, a coaching gem, a question to get you thinking–what better day than monday for a positive post? 

This weekend, I was in Toronto finishing up the last of my Coaches Training Institute courses. I’m savouring the pride I feel for having finished my training and am really excited about coaching people (please don’t be shy if you’re looking for a coach, I’m looking for coachees!).

coactive complete

What I’m longing to share with you isn’t a plug for coachees, but an experience. On Saturday night, I went on a date. I’ll cut to the chase so my boyfriend doesn’t shit his pants and/or dump me and let you know that this was a date with myself.

date with ma awesome self

I won’t go into the details (there was wine, there was entertainment, there was a new dress), but I will say that I had a hella good time with myself. What’s important and worth sharing is that when I was growing up, I took on a “shy” persona. When I went out to dinner with my family, I’d order whatever my sister was having so that I wouldn’t have to really talk to waiters and waitresses.

Somewhere along the way, I started coming out of my shell.

I went on a trip to Bermuda in high school without knowing anyone I was going with.


I signed up for another trip the summer before I went to university and spent a month camping in Hawaii with strangers.


Last year I rode my bike from Jasper to Banff with 5 awesome people I’d never met before.


This year, I am going on another trip with a whole lotta strangers I can only assume will become lifelong friends.

All of these things wouldn’t have been possible if I was scared to do things alone or if I was waiting around for a friend, a boyfriend, or a family member to step up and to do them with me. The trips are big when I think about what I’d have given up if I wasn’t willing to have fun on my own, but my list is long. I forget that for some people, taking themselves out for coffee is a stretch and going on a date with themselves seems out of the question. Shopping, going to movies, having nice dinners, going on hikes, etc. are all pretty fun for me–and I don’t mind doing them with my awesome self and my awesome self alone.

If you’re thinking about doing something on your own and it seems lame (whether it’s a trip to Africa or a trip to the store), please do your wonderful self a favour and get out of that perspective. We should like hanging out with ourselves. When you like your own company, having someone to share experiences with is just a bonus. I remember telling a friend a few months ago that I was thinking of my single self as my favourite turtles cake (cue drooling). It’s delicious just like it comes out of the oven, but every once in a while I’ll add icing to it to shake things up. Company is just like that—a bonus.

My call to you is to go on the adventures you’ve always wanted to whether you have a partner in crime or not. Trust that whether that partner in crime is a friend or romantic company, liking yourself enough to do things on your own will only help you be a better partner yourself. I know it’s cliche, but be the type of person you’d like to meet.

type of person

What’s something you’re waiting for company to do?
What will you not do alone? 

friday find: june 21

my intention with “friday find” posts is to share something–a blog, an article, a video, a song, a person, a book, whatever–that I’ve found inspiring or informative on a weekly basis and to share my take-aways.

This week’s find is a post called “Embrace Them Thighs” by Juli Bauer, the hilarious gal behind PaleOMG. It’s a quick read and I think you should do yourself a favour and read it. My favourite part was the turning point she described because I see it happening in my own perspective:

“As women, we are often taught to fit into a certain mold. At least I was. I listened to the media, looked at all the magazines and bought into the bullsh*t that told me to look a certain way. I hated myself for having cellulite, for having a big ass, and for having thighs that touched together. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Hating myself because my thighs are close together? Give me an effing break. But that’s what I did. Hated myself. And the more I told myself all these negative things, the more I actually believed I wasn’t worth anything. Stupid, bloody stupid.

But then CrossFit popped into my life. I instantly looked up to women for snatching 95lbs and doing muscle ups so effortlessly. I didn’t care about what they were wearing. I didn’t give a sh*t about the lack of makeup they wore. And I sure as hell didn’t give a f*ck about their inner thighs touching.”

the takeaway?

1. I’m not alone–she kinda says it like I feel it.
2. A reminder of the power of training FOR something and to create strength and fitness and awesome instead of to fix or punish myself.

think about it: better than a band-aid

I’m sure if you’re a news reader you’ve seen something about the deaths related to birth control in the past few weeks.

This story hit close to home for me because Yaz was one of the many birth control pills my doctor prescribed me back in the days when my period was MIA. In terms of side effects, it was one of the worst ones: I immediately started having more migraines, felt totally out of whack, and knew it wasn’t for me. It was actually the last straw–after having such a bad experience with it, I stopped taking the prescriptions for birth control or hormones that the doctor wrote for me.

That was a few years ago and while I wish I’d decided to stop entertaining hormone replacement options out of a realization that I needed to address what was causing the hormone issues in the first place, I didn’t come to that place until much more recently.

But I got there.

While I’m sure that most of the people who were killed weren’t taking Yaz as a way to “get healthy” I think there is such irony in the fact that I took something that kills people in the pursuit of health, or so I thought. What I realize now is that I was taking all these different pills as a way to try to fix a problem, but my idea of fixing was a band-aid, not a solution.  There’s a lesson here: pills don’t create health. If I’d had success with taking a pill and getting my periods back, I would have had my periods but I’d still have had all the same issues that were causing me to miss them in the first place without the reminder that something was off.

What I wish would have happened is for my doctor to have asked me about what else might be going on. What I was eating (or not eating), how I was exercising, and my stress levels and sleep (or lack thereof) were no doubt factors in what was going on from a hormonal standpoint. I was reduced, however, to a set of lab values which my doctor then tried to correct using something external to fix the problem.

I can remember sitting in the office at Gainsborough Family Chiropractic last year and having a mini epiphany. It was a wakeup call and a bit of a slap in the face when I realized that I needed to look at my actions and see how what I was doing might not actually be serving me. Personally, hours upon hours of chronic cardio/disordered eating and giving my body the wrong food in weird times/running myself ragged and being overly stressed/not taking care of myself added up to a body that was in no shape to have a baby. On paper it makes sense. In my head, I was exercising to look a certain way and I was eating to lose weight and I was working my ass off trying to prove something. It took guts and self respect to start to release those old habits and beliefs and to step into a new way of thinking and living.

It’s been a process, but that epiphany led to a reframing of how I look at health and symptoms and my body. Alongside the realization and the internalization that I’m already good enough, the last year has been monumental for me.

I started to go to a naturopathic doctor and that wish about being looked at as a whole person instead of a patient with a list of problems to be fixed or prescriptions to be written came true. Lindsay talked to me about how my body is in a process of healing and really helped me put things into perspective and just having someone who doesn’t write me a prescription every time I see them has been a breath of fresh air. I’ve assessed the way I work out, the things I eat and the reasons I eat them, and have been under regular chiropractic care for coming up on a year now. I’ve done a ton of work with my limiting beliefs and self esteem, and it’s paying off.

Yaz might not have killed me, but had I stayed on it, I’d only have gotten my periods. Instead, I got a transformation.

how do you feel about your doctor?
have you ever gone through a health transformation?
can you think of a turning point in your health like this?

Bonus! Dr. K blogged about his take on this whole Yaz situation earlier this week. Check out his perspective!

food for thought: i’ve got news for you

“food for thought” posts are my chance to share an opinion, an insight, or something to do with food–think nutrition, emotional eating, a recipe, you name it. 

Today’s topic is a winner for two reasons:

1. It makes this e-card relevant.

neanderthal2. It gets me going.

The other day, I was browsing through old Today Show clips and stumbled onto this story about MovNat and primal movement. There were a few caveman references and a bit of seemingly overbearing advice to be careful but the article didn’t really excite me one way or the other.

What did get me going was the link I followed to a video at the bottom of the page:

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 8.55.02 AM

I’m not going to launch into a full rundown of what makes me angry about the way the media frames the “paleo” diet, but I have a few mini-rants about what I wish the news would say about the paleo diet.

  1. I wish that they would stop selling it like another diet designed to help you fix yourself, quickly. The video link says “Trying to slim down for summer? Eat like a cave man” and while I get that the video needs to get peoples’ interest and the books about this way of eating need to sell, it’d be really cool if people started eating this way because it’s actually good for them. And if they trusted that when they did that, if they needed to lose weight, their healthy body would just take care of that. Any diet you adopt should be a long term approach if it’s really good for you and if it’s really sustainable. The sooner we give up the idea that a quick fix is a good idea, the better off–and the healthier–we’ll be. This is about more than losing weight and doing it quickly. It’s a long term way of eating and living, but it’s worth the wait. 
  2. I also wish the caveman references would slow down. Before, I thought that eating a paleo diet was about going back to the stone ages–and I thought that sounded silly. My concept of it shifted and I realized, largely thanks to meeting my Life By Design friends and then starting to think about Eat By Design instead of a diet book label, that healthy eating is about choosing the best foods available now. With caveman (or cavewoman) references, no wonder people think this way of eating is hokey.
  3. I’m ready for people to start focusing on what they are putting into their bodies, not on what they’re “giving up” or what they’ll miss the most about shifting their diet. Sure, you can focus on what you can’t have (your treats or like the bottom of the link says, cutting “out all bread and dairy”) or you can try to “paleo-ify” them (cue coconut products galore and nut butter treats all around) but that misses the mark and makes for a miserable existence, I think. Focusing on what you are taking in–nutrient-dense foods that create health and serve as fuel for your body–is a much happier way to go about your eating.
  4. A muffin is still a muffin and a cookie is still a cookie and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with almond flour. Yes, more power to you for saving yourself from the effects of gluten and grains, but a cookie will always be a treat, no matter what you put into it. Replacing your old crappy diet with a new diet of upgraded cookies and muffins still misses the mark. I had to learn this one through experience before I really realized it. Like the MovNat article says, eating this way is about “focusing on meat, veggies, fruits and nuts and foregoing dairy, grains, refined sugar and anything processed.” I’m not sure where cookies and muffins are on that list, but I do know that you will undoubtedly be better off if you eat more vegetables, start thinking about the quality of the meat that you’re eating, and stop buying things with labels on them.

That’s all, for now.

What’s your biggest complaint about the way the media frames this stuff? 

Extra: There was an awesome podcast last week from Balanced Bites talking about paleo pitfalls that hit the nail on the head when it comes to paleo treats. These women are phenomenal and were another big influence in my shifting understanding of what paleo eating is all about.