Body Positivity Tuesday: Make a Bucket List

I spent a lot of years “future-tripping,” caught up in all my worries about the future. I would think about what I was going to eat the next day, wear next Wednesday, and how I’d fit in my workouts next July (seriously). I’d be tallying my calories for the day, prepping my food for the next week, and obsessively trying to control my world by taking it out on my body. While I think it’s great to take responsibility for our health, I know that crossing the line into obsession took my focus on my health to a point where it no longer served me. A big shift for me was realizing that I want to create health in my world so that I can live the life I want to live, no longer wanting to live my life as a slave to food or exercise or the pursuit of perfection when it came to my health. 

This shift, though it didn’t happen overnight and still requires me to step back and gain some perspective from time to time, opened up a lot of energy to use towards doing things with the health that I do have. Running races, learning new sports, building relationships, taking up hobbies, reading books…these are all things that I can do with the energy that I used to spend loathing my body or obsessing over how to “fix” it.

So, what do you want to do? Even if it’s not an eating disorder that distracts us, sometimes we can get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget to dream. I think making a bucket list is a great way to channel our inner dreamers and reading over it is a great way to re-inspire ourselves. This should be a different kind of to-do list, one that excites you.

Today’s task is to come up with a little list for yourself of things you’d like to do, places you’d like to see, people you’d like to meet. These things don’t have to be directly related to loving your body, but notice that if you’re being body positive and taking care of yourself, you’re a heck of a lot more likely to have the energy to do the things you’ve decided on and to enjoy checking things off the list.

If you have trouble thinking of some things, maybe start here:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • When you look back on your life, what would you like to remember?
  • What is your dream vacation?
  • Do you wish you could learn how to play an instrument?
  • Is there a class you want to take?
  • Do you want to learn another language?
  • What is the race of your dreams?
  • Who do you want to meet?
  • What do you want to do before you retire?

etc. etc. etc.

I keep my bucket list on my computer, updating it on a regular basis. It’s never complete, and I like that. Things come off as I complete them or, at times, as I decide they are no longer for me. New things get added on as I discover new passions. This is by far my favourite to-do list of them all!

you shoudl go do them

Do you have a bucket list?

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appreciating exercise (or why I’m ready to bike across the continent)

The other day, I was biking with a friend of mine and we got to talking about how training time—biking, running, swimming (she’s a triathlete friend)—gives us a way to destress. When she said something about how exercise has always been her way of keeping herself sane, happy, and healthy, I couldn’t agree more. There’s something about heading out for a bike ride or a run and getting to be outside, without your cell phone attached to you, with some space from the rest of what’s going on in your life, that’s oh so freeing.

More generally, I think exercise is a great way to destress. Letting it all out in the weight room. Processing thoughts in the pool. Thinking things over on a hike. These are all ways that exercise can give us that much needed break and time to just be in our bodies.

However, for a while, exercise was a source of stress in my life.

First: Am I doing enough? I should do more. This was the name of the game when I was really struggling with my relationship with my body and experiencing my eating disorder.

Then: Am I doing the right kind? I should do it all. Even through recovery, I’ve found that it can be a difficult balance to master: exercise is a place where I can learn what my body is capable of and where I have the opportunity to just experience it for what it does, not just for how it looks, but it’s also a loaded area where there are so many messages about what we “should” be doing.

But I’ve learned along the way that when it comes to deciding whether or not something is good for us, things aren’t always black or white. Going on a long run for one person might be about getting out and experiencing their body. For another, it might be about burning off a binge. We celebrate people who are dedicated to their recreational pursuits and sometimes we can go too far—for the average person who trains for health or just recreation, training through an injury probably isn’t necessary and seems counterproductive. It can be a slippery slope if you’re struggling with why you exercise—the compulsion is hard enough to kick, but add in acknowledgement from the world around us when we do come across as “hardcore” and things get even tougher.

That being said, I think it’s important to talk about how exercise, even for people who have struggled with compulsivity in the past, can be a part of taking care of your body. Our bodies are meant to move so learning a relationship with our bodies that allows us to exercise in life-affirming, health-building ways is essential. With so many messages about exercise as a way to control weight, it can be hard to flip the switch: exercise isn’t punishment or just about changing the way your body looks. The number of articles I’ve seen about quitting running because it’s not going to make you skinny just reinforce the idea that exercise is only about weight—it’s not. Running has other benefits—the mental ones I talked about at the start of this post, the other physical aspects that have no reflection in our body composition.

Exercising, in my opinion, is about using our bodies and keeping them moving in ways that feel good and that are enjoyable. It need not be complicated or intense. It shouldn’t come loaded with feelings of guilt and compulsion. It’s simple: exercise should make your life better—your physical, mental, emotional, and maybe even spiritual health (if you’re into that).

love your bod

If you’re a regular reader, maybe you’ve checked out my bucket list page. On it are some things that I’m making good on these days, namely biking across the continent. I didn’t really elaborate on my page, but ever since I wrote an article for Canadian Cycling Magazine in 2010 about a man who rode across the US and fundraised for brain and spinal cord regeneration research (he raised $26 052 to be exact), I’ve had biking across the continent in the name of eating disorders awareness on my long term to do list.

So, that’s why I’m uber excited to be planning this fundraising ride across the states. I’m sorting out the details now, with plans to donate the money that I raise to Hope’s Garden, the eating disorder resource centre in London that helped me so much. When I decided to ask for help with my eating disorder over five years ago, I used the Hope’s Garden website to find myself a therapist. I went to support groups throughout my recovery on campus and at Hope’s Garden itself. The Awareness breakfasts and special events that the centre offered kept me learning, committed, and passionate about my recovery. It seems only fitting that I do this in their name! My plan is America By Bike (the same company the man I interviewed used) and their “Fast America” tour in April of next year: 33 days, 3 457 miles, and a whole lot of awesome. I’ve been talking with Hope’s Garden (the woman in charge there makes me even more excited about all of this) about fundraising and setting up a donation page, looking for sponsors, and getting the word out about what I’m doing—and why I’m doing it.

cross country

If I hadn’t taken the time to think about what exercise means to me and to get my relationship sorted out with why I work out, I don’t know if biking for 33 days straight from one ocean to the other would be a healthy choice—my mindset of more is more is more in the past would certainly be raging. But I’ve earned back the right to bike my butt off by putting in the work and getting healthy. I had a good talk with my therapist (part of how I stay committed to myself and my health) about this. She (re)assured me that years ago, this wouldn’t have been a great idea. But given where I’m at now and what I know about exercise–I see it as a place to challenge our bodies and then to really appreciate just how much they’re really capable of–I know that this is one heck of an opportunity to focus on what my body’s capable of. It’s hard for me to think about how my thighs are looking in my biking clothes once I’m out the door and riding, and I trust more and more that the less I worry about how my body looks as a result of the exercise I do, the more I enjoy activity.

Like I said, I think it’s important to—and I’d like to serve as an example of someone who’s been able to—find a healthy relationship with working out that will keep us moving, happy, and healthy throughout our lives.

Stay tuned!

turn dreams

 

What kind of exercise helps you appreciate your body most?
What’s one item on your bucket list that you’re ready to make good on?

Making progress

Howdy there…this time from London and my futon. Boy oh boy did I miss my space!

Right now it’s a bit of a disaster since my suitcases exploded with laundry…

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…and we all know how I feel about laundry.

Needless to say, I don’t feel too bad putting off the finishing touches of my unpacking and cleaning til tomorrow when I’m fresh…

Now for the good stuff.

Today was amazing. Warning–I’m terrible at race recaps, so bear with me!

Bluewater is like Christmas. Going home for this race means seeing so many familiar faces and being literally outside where I grew up. I did the duathlon for two years before making my switch to triathlon last year, which makes this my fourth time doing the event. It’s one of the ones people do year after year after year, and not just because the church ladies cook up a storm (too bad my camera was dead and I didn’t get any photos from the post-race spread). This year, I finished in 1:05 on the dot, which was almost 2 minutes faster than last year! It’s not a massive improvement, but I’ll take it. The results went up quick but I was mostly pleased that my stomach cooperated, I felt strong, and that I got to do the race!

I did snag some photos from the race (my mom took some, I took some, friends had cameras!) and it was all smiles and sunshine.

That pretty much sums it up, although I did have a near heart attack about 5 minutes before the start when I lost my goggles. And of course I didn’t have my spares. I asked all around the people on the beach and then finally with 3 minutes to go ran my butt up to transition area and offered to kiss the first person to lend me a spare. Luckily a kind kind soul gave them to me (and only teased me about following through on my offer) and I was able to adjust them and swim! AMEN for nice triathletes.  The 400m took me 9:12, but there’s a nice chunk of time for the run back to transition in there. I was faster than last year and felt loads better, so that’s a good thing, especially since I’ve done ZERO open water swims.

The bike felt awesome. I passed a lot of girls and guys alike (that’s normal — I am a cyclist and not much of a swimmer so it’s bound to happen). I even spent some time in my drops…which was new for me. What better time to experiment than during a race, right? (joke) The 18km took me 34:22, which is one of those times I’m proud of but nothing out of this world–though considering the biking I’ve been doing, I’m happy my legs were feeling good and not too tired from the mountains. Yay!

Another thing I’ve done NONE of this year = bricks. I guess all the bootcamp workouts have confused my muscles enough that a casual 4km run after the swim/bike wasn’t too much of a shocker. Maybe I should have run harder, but I finished up in 19:05, which really surprised me. Faster than 5:00 kilometres without training on purpose? I’ll take it with a smile!

Like I said, I ended up coming in faster than last year. I placed second in my age group again and this year I was third overall for the girls. That felt awesome–it was like the icing on the cake, especially since I went in with no real “training” per se! I also won a raffle prize–a $25 gift card for running room. Lucky bum, huh?

Props go out to all of the people who raced today! There was a lot of first timers, some comebacks, and a whole lot of great work out there. I was so glad to see SO MANY people I know. Did I mention I love this race?

Justin’s a friend from Western tri club – matching age group plaques!

Look who showed up — Dave and his wife Dina made their way out to say hello! 🙂

Amy’s a yoga instructor who makes me smile every time I see her! She killed it this year and was such a ray of sunshine/cheerleader even while neither of us could really breathe…

Haley also did great and cheered like a champ even during the race!

…since my stomach was off, I stuck to a bland tuna sandwich (blechhhhh sums up how I feel about this) and a cookie. My dinner tonight was delicious and brought me back to how I normally eat. Snacks today were all over the place: dried fruit, an apple, two bananas, a LARA bar, a granola bar. I’m so ready to not be flying by the seat of my pants, it’s not even funny!

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first things first, back to my kale!

20120721-204449.jpgBack to the good stuff..

The post-race fun just made things even better. We started off on a patio…

And then made our way for a refreshing dip in the river. This is kind of a Sarnia rite of passage and it felt so good today.

someone’s on their own countdown!

Made it!

The river run was on my summer bucket list, along with a whole whack of other things I’ve been crossing off. Like drinking long island iced tea (it’s a rough life, ya know!)…

Now that I’m back in London, I’m feeling better and better–and I don’t just mean my stomach. This morning and the past few days, I’ve been feeling so gross. Dreading coming home and feeling fat and miserable. But ya know what I realized today?  When my friends asked me to stick around after the race, I wanted to say no. I wanted to come back right away and do…what? I don’t know. Be miserable? Binge? That’s definitely where I was at a year ago…but it’s not where I am today. There’s something empowering about realizing that you can choose something different and even if you start to stray from your healthy/happy/new ways, you can get back to where you need to be. Since it feels so good to choose the happy thing (going for a drink even though I felt “fat”, racing even though I hadn’t trained and thought I’d end up “slow”, spending time with friends instead of being miserable), it’s starting to become my automatic choice, I think. And that’s the way it should be…apparently happy is not only healthy, it’s also faster than last year, friendly. and all around awesome. 🙂

And now for the perfect ending to a pretty much perfect day — first my decaf coffee/nightcap (cuz I bought a bottle of deliciousness and had to give it a go) and then the face plant into MY OWN BED!

Have you ever done a triathlon? What’d you think? I love it — the physical part is challenging, the camaraderie is unbelievable! Nothing like any other kind of race — there’s competition but it’s such a different kind. LOVE. I think I re-caught the bug here…

What are you doing this weekend?

PS: Speaking of Christmas…

Can’t hardly wait

Yahhooo for finishing my exam first. I think it’s because I don’t believe in answers coming spontaneously and I don’t like to sit in a classroom feeling clueless, so I’m usually the first student to vacate the premises during an exam. Today was no different. I won’t lie, there were questions I guessed on. Whatever. I could have studied more and gotten some of them, but I think mostly they were things I wouldn’t have noted anyhow. What matters is this: I’m smiling!

This afternoon I ran to the mall to buy some essentials (i.e. deodorant–not something you want to run out of when it’s 30 degrees C out!). I treated myself to an iced decaf americano and came home with the intentions of getting right to work on my freelancing assignment but I got sidetracked by a snack and by the mail!

We all know I love countdowns and I’ve added another one to my list. But it’s good because it means that I’ll be crossing something off my bucket list (going to a conference), which I forgot to mention earlier is getting shorter since I was ballsy at yoga today and did it in my sports bra (FYI you still sweat buckets).

A few weeks ago I registered for the Canfitpro conference in August. And today the magazine with the sessions came, which means I got down to business choosing my sessions. 80 days til I get to go!

And I’m so excited because some highlights (though you have to wait to get confirmation about which of your choices you get) include:

  • a session with Tosca Reno, who I met a few years ago at the Trade Show
  • a session with Tommy Europe
  • a keynote speech from Simon Whitfield
  • tons of spinning
  • lots of bootcamp ideas
  • plenty of business focused lectures (because you can’t actually work out from dawn til dusk 3 days in a row and expect to be smiling/walking)

Just to put it into perspective, this conference will be a week after (not even) I get home from my cycle tour out west and will lead me right up to the Tough Mudder, which I really want to do but signed up for knowing that I might not actually do it. Decisions, decisions.

Anyways, there are some cool sessions that got me to thinking. One is by a lady about how to use your blog as a fitness professional. I googled her (Amanda Vogel) and saw she’s doing something kind of cool with her life. Another one that caught my eye was a presentation about the China Study vs. the Paleo Diet by a lady who is holistic nutritionist and has her Precision Nutrition cert, which is run by John Berardi, who is also presenting and who went to Western. I even interviewed him for a piece in the Gazette earlier this year. The fitness world is big but it’s pretty small. And I’m part of it! Pretty cool, eh? And part of me wants to be a bigger part of it. I often think of myself as someone who is just getting started or someone who isn’t good enough/legit enough, but you know what? You have to start somewhere. And I’ve been a fitness instructor for four years and people tell me I’m good at it. Why not believe them and dive right in? Going to this conference is hopefully going to only motivate me more and open up my eyes to even more possibility.

So. Much. Thinking…but NOW it’s time for me to get down to work on that article and to make a new playlist for spin tonight. Get excited!

How do you feel about unconventional careers?
What are you counting down to this summer?