For feminism or for health? Why the scale sucks either way…

Today, Tracy wrote a great post about her relationship with “weight loss.” As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think, wouldn’t it be easier if we just stopped weighing ourselves? She seems to be on the same wavelength as me a lot, and she touched on this at the end of the post. Personally, I’ve tossed out my scale in defiance of my obsession with it during the earliest stages of my recovery. But since then, I have found myself weighing myself again on and off. As of late, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really benefitting from knowing the number—so the scale’s gone again.

I would like to think that there will be a time when I could weigh myself and not use it as a tool to drive myself crazy. I am not there right now. Even now, without the scale around for daily weighings, thesporadic ones get to me. When I’ve brought the scale back into my world—either via being weighed by someone else like a doctor, or a coach—it stirs up a lot of emotion. I can feel elated if I’m lighter, but at the same time beat myself up for feeling good about losing weight since I know that weight loss is not the be-all end-all, my habits are. I can feel like a failure if I’ve gained weight, which is coupled with a reminder that weight isn’t everything. Either way, I don’t step off the thing ever feeling any happier for having done it.don't step on it.

For so long, my own focus was on weight and losing weight at all costs. I’d, like many people, gotten weight and health linked up in a way that didn’t let me see when I crossed lines and compromised my health for the sake of weight loss. As my choices became more and more extreme, I was successful at weight loss—but at the expense of my health and my happiness. It was a step by step process down this slippery slope into my eating disorder. Eating less became undereating consistently. Exercising more became overexercising on the regular. Eating better became synonymous with eating things with less calories, fat, or carbs—whatever the villain of the day in my mind was.

I know from a health perspective: weight should be the outcome or the by-product, not the focus. It’s not always “right” or perhaps a better way of putting this is that it’s not always an accurate reflection of whether or not we’ve done the “right” things. I might have eaten whole foods from great sources in appropriate quantities and have done a great job of taking care of myself, but if I just drank a bottle of water and have not gone to the washroom yet, I’ll weigh more. Do I abandon my healthy habits because they’re not “working”?

It is easier to sell weight loss than it is to sell long-term health. “Build healthy self-care habits in 3 years” doesn’t seem like it would fit on a cover of Shape quite as well as the “10 days to a flat tummy” headlines that do. People use weight loss as a goal all the time and even as personal trainers and fitness instructors we encourage folks to set SMART goals with specifics in terms of how much weight they’ll lose. I think it’s more important to think about what we will actually need to DO. You don’t wake up and just lose weight by a conscious choice. You do wake up and every day decide that you’re going to work out, or that you’re going to eat vegetables with your lunch, or that you’re going to write in a diary instead of eating a pint of ice cream when you’re stressed. Maybe it’s the allure of wanting to lose 10 pounds and be done with it, whereas deciding to build a healthy relationship with food or healthy eating habits instead would require you to keep on working on that goal for the rest of your life (I think we forget that habits get easier the more we do them).

From a health perspective, I think getting rid of the scale is a good choice for me. That’s my choice. It doesn’t have a lot to do with my status as a feminist or not, which is what Tracy was sort of talking about in her post. But do we have to get rid of our scales if we want to be feminists? Do we also have to get rid of our hair-brushes and makeup? I really don’t know the answer to this or where to draw a line or if there is a line of what makes something feminist or not. If weighing yourself feels good to you, fine. It feels like crap to me. I wouldn’t argue that women should stop wearing makeup if it makes them feel good, perhaps I shouldn’t argue that women need to stop weighing themselves altogether or wanting to be skinny. I just know that there are other people out there who feel compelled to keep weighing themselves and keep pursuing weight loss, and I think the issue becomes when we feel like there isn’t the option to get off the hamster wheel.

Like I said, I don’t know what the answer is here. But I do think I think arguing about it only keeps us all focused on something trivial instead of on the issues that we can all agree on. Think of the progress we might make if we weren’t so busy beating each other up for being truly feminist or not. It’s like when you stop to think about what kind of energy women might have if they didn’t have to focus on their bodies so darn much, or if they didn’t have to focus on whether or not they should be focusing on them, or…you see where I’m going with this.

So for now, I’ll be staying away from the scale, and I’ll be encouraging anyone else who is feeling crazy over it to do the same. Just like I learned in my recovery, the scale is not an accurate reflection of who you are, or how you’re doing, or of your self worth.

losing weight not your purpose

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thinking about bodies, loving them, and where we’re investing our energy

My masters supervisor is one of the smartest people I have ever met. People describe him as a range of things from brilliant to exceedingly difficult to follow, mostly because he thinks on a very big and theoretical scale and sometimes leaves people in the dust when he goes on a thought journey. Once, I got a paper back with a comment about how my writing can sometimes be difficult to follow because I go off on tangents like my supervisor. I took this a supreme compliment, but this kind of thinking and thinking and then thinking some more can make for some late nights just stuck on some issues. And can make for some very confusing blog posts, which I fear is about to happen…

Today’s question of concern? Whether or not writing a blog about loving our bodies (as a woman) is helping or hurting the situation.

body lve

I’ve often wondered whether or not the time I’ve spent talking about this journey towards embracing my thighs and appreciating my body could have been spent going to medical school, reading the encyclopedia, or getting a PhD in astrophysics.

Today, I got thinking after I read a post on Tabata Times by a man who was talking about his body issues:

“I love spending time with my girls outside, but I don’t love the pool the way they do and it’s for one simple reason: I hate my body. Does that surprise you? That’s probably not what you are used to hearing from a man, but we have body issues too. The difference between men and women is that men don’t get whole articles written on it like women do.” 

The dialogue about embracing our bodies as women has, at least in my experience, gotten louder as of late. That being said, I am part of the blogosphere that talks about it, a voracious reader of books on the topic, and an advocate for all people—men and women alike—embracing their bodies. I’ve learned and continue to learn that the more I focus on what I can do, the more appreciation I have for my own body. That doesn’t mean that all of my body woes are gone. I might not have an eating disorder any more, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hear the “lose weight and be happy and have everything you have ever dreamed of and more” messages out there in the world. What I worry about is replacing that message with a “love your body and all your problems will melt away” one instead. If we’re on a body love journey, we need to remember that addressing the other aspects of our lives is still important. I think of all the genius females out there who might be using a lot of energy worrying about how they look—and I wonder what else could be happening if there wasn’t this need first to fix our bodies and now to fix the way we relate to them.

But then, how do we get away from this obsession with our bodies in one way or another? We have bodies. How they look is important, whether we want it to be or not. How we feel about them is also important, because it drives how we act—how we take care of ourselves and how we relate to others.

So on that question about whether or not it’s a misuse of my energy to talk about this, think about this, and work on this journey towards loving my body more and more and worrying less about how it looks, I am going to stop worrying about it so much—because that’s where I waste my energy. Maybe more women than men talk about this and maybe some people think that this is a way that women hold themselves back. But I don’t think that it changes the fact that loving our bodies and getting our relationship with ourselves sorted out is worth doing.

I’m going to have a body for the rest of my life. I don’t want to get to the end of it thinking that I should have appreciated it more, should have used it to explore and live more, should have loved it more. I don’t want to be constantly trying to change it, sending myself the message that I’m not “good enough.” I don’t want to take the easy road out and say that a little body discontent is “normal” and okay—because I don’t think it has to be. The more I love the body I have, the better care I take of it, and the better I feel about the whole situation. A combination of realizing and admitting that I care both about how I look and about how I feel about how I look—and then taking care of myself to make sure that those things are in place—rather than trying to be someone who’s “bigger than the issue” takes the pressure off.

ody love

I want a world where people don’t hate their bodies. Whether you’re a man or a woman and whether it’s okay to talk about it or not, I wish we didn’t need to. But, until we all get to a place where we appreciate our bodies more than we want to fix them, I think the dialogue about changing the way we talk about, relate to, and take care of our bodies is worth having.

hating it

What do you think about all the talk (especially among women) about embracing our bodies?
Are we moving in the right direction?

seeing the big picture: what’s really weighing you down?

After my last post, which talked about the little things that you’re going to leave behind this year, I thought it would be fitting to take a look at the bigger picture. While we can easily identify what we need to let go of in terms of our behaviours, it can be tough to figure out why we have those behaviours in the first place. However, tough comes with the territory of changing the way you live and if you want to make a lasting change in your behaviours, the beliefs that drive you are probably going to have to change along with them.

change can either challenge or threaten us

So, in this process, it’s important to think about what’s really holding you back. Even though I dedicated my university career to studying health and fitness and the body—there’s tons to know there!—I don’t think being healthy is rocket science. Unfortunately, I think most of us get focused on the little things at the expense of looking at the big picture: Are we moving our bodies in ways that feel good? Are we eating mostly real, whole foods that we can feel good about eating? Are we getting enough sleep and managing our stress? Are we happy? These questions, more than the number of grams of carbs we’re eating or whether or not we’re training at exactly the right intensity, are the important ones (not that those specific kinds of questions don’t have a time and a place—but aiming for general health or getting fitter doesn’t require complicated plans, imho).

When I seriously consider those questions and try my best to be honest about the answers, I can come up with the big thing that I want to work on letting go of: the remnants of my eating disorder thinking where there’s a dichotomy between eating (bad) and exercising (good). This old weight loss mindset where food is the enemy plays out in a multitude of unhealthy ways in my world: I think it’s “better” to skip a snack and end up way too hungry by the time meal time rolls around (cue overeating) or I drink coffee or eat random things in lieu of planning a snack or a mini meal filled with healthy nutrition or I make up weird rules about how I shouldn’t work out in the morning once I’ve eaten breakfast. That means I don’t end up moving my body in ways that always feel good and I don’t always choose the best foods and my stress levels are higher than they need to be. Big picture, this mindset isn’t serving me and it’s something I entirely need to leave in my past.

don

Just like when you think about replacement habits for your less than stellar behaviours that you’d like to leave behind, it’s worth trying on some alternatives when you come up with the big picture things that are weighing you down. For me, that means believing that food is fuel and shifting from a weight loss at all costs mentality to a health and happiness above all mentality. That’s what this blog is all about, which brings up an important point: it’s not like a light switch when it comes to making changes.

process change

Your little victories will feed back into that belief and serve as proof of it. The more steps you can take in the right direction to convince yourself of your new belief, the stronger it will get. Eventually, the more you acknowledge the ways in which you’re playing out the new and awesome belief, it starts to become your default. There’s an element of faking it until you make it and acting “as if” but keep in mind that you are not a fake­­–you’re just challenging yourself and stretching yourself. Be patient along the way and with time, you can change your beliefs.

Where do you find yourself tripping over something in your past?
What beliefs are you working on stepping into?

bad habits: what are you ready to leave behind in 2014?

In keeping with the New Year’s theme here, I figure that January is a fine and dandy time to take stock of where we’re at with our healthy living activities. One of my tasks for the month involves taking an honest look at what I’m doing in terms of health and fitness to see where and how I can continue to move forward this year.

My process has involved making a list of the habits that I’m ready to leave behind. What are things you do, on a regular basis, that don’t serve your healthiest, happiest self?

It’s not a particularly easy question to answer, but I think a lot of us are pretty good at beating ourselves up so we can answer it fairly easily. That being said, if you’re having trouble, ask yourself what do I justify? If you need to come up with excuses to get away with something, it just might be something that’s not really in your best interest.  

stop holding yourself back

The next step, of course, is to focus on what you want to create instead. What will you be replacing those things you’re letting go of with? What would you like to focus on cultivating in your life instead?

When it comes to health and fitness, it’s so easy focus on what we’re doing wrong. So often we think about what we need to give up or stop doing and can forget that when we make a habit “wrong” without having a replacement in mind, we’re left with a behaviour that seems all the more impossible to give up (I know I for one want what I “can’t” or “shouldn’t” have). That doesn’t mean that it’s complicated to fix this, though. If you decide to give up your afternoon chocolate bar or morning latte, it’s as easy as deciding on a healthier replacement—think swapping the chocolate bar for an apple and some almonds or that latte with a cup of tea or a green smoothie.

change

This year, I listed my “bad” habits on a piece of paper. They included drinking more coffee than water on a regular basis, skipping snacks/calling spoonfuls of peanut butter a balanced snack, relying on pre-made meals from the fancy grocery store, and letting myself get too hungry on a regular basis. From there, I made a list of what I want to replace them with: drinking a big glass of water before every meal and drinking all the tea in my cupboard before I buy more coffee, planning a snack with a fruit or veggie in it into my day, keeping easy protein sources (chickpeas, anyone?) on hand, and buying meat that I feel good about to prepare on the weekend so I’m ready to go for the week. Next, I took that piece of paper with the bad habits on it and tore it into a bunch of pieces and threw it away.

Symbolic of me, no? Goodbye old (yucky) habits, hello new (happy) habits.

anchor

What are you ready to stop doing?
What kinds of healthy habits are you going to cultivate this year? 

think about it: fitspiration frustration

I’ve blogged about my stance on fitspiration (“strong is the new skinny,” etc.) before–more than once–but I think because I love me a good workout and hang around in the fitness world on the interwebs, it haunts me.

I’ll start with an apology if you share and/or like this stuff.

I do not.

This week’s offender?

fitspiration

Before I get into it, I feel like I need to at least give this image props for showing the gal’s face.

But that’s all it’s getting props for. My “are you kidding me?” instincts need to point out that wearing that much makeup is a recipe for a Good Charlotte-esque disaster.

eyeliner good charlotte

While I’m ridiculously jealous of her glad that she has beautiful long hair that can blow in the wind while she does mountain climbers or burpees or sprints or whatever is about to go down in this image, let’s get real. My hair, which doesn’t even touch my neck, drives me batty when I work out if it’s not pinned into a pathetic excuse for a pony tail (a feat that requires a whole lotta bobby pins, I might add).

I’m used to the image of the pretty girl working out and I’m used to just doing my own sweaty thing with a smile on my face instead of it. I wouldn’t say “I’m over it” but I am a little bit over it. What really made me mad about this picture were the words and the messages that came along with them.

I’m all for continuously improving. Training harder, yay. Eating cleaner, maybe (“dirty” food is dangerously close to the good/bad paradigm that is a recipe for insanity in my books, but that and words like “cheat” are a topic for another post of its own). But from there, it heads into territory that I’m not so okay with.

I’m not okay with hating yourself–even your “old” self.

This reminded me of something that Jillian Michaels said when I went to her Maximize Your Life show a few weeks ago. She’d talked about how when, at the end of the season, the people on Biggest Loser would be presented with a cardboard cut-out of their old bodies, they’d initially react with disgust– kicking their old selves down, saying mean things and calling themselves gross, etc.

That makes me sad.

Just like that “gross” person was actually the person who signed themselves up for the show and did the work to lose the weight—the strong one, the determined one—the strong person that this fitspiration is so ready to become has to come from the “old” girl.

Saying this seems stupid, but: you will always be you.

What I’m getting at is this: hating yourself is the fastest way to make yourself feel like crap, not for making lasting change in your life.

You can trust me on this one, I’ve dabbled in it.

Whenever I’ve tried to hate myself into change—beat myself up for drinking too much coffee, told myself I’m a pig and that I need to eat less, called myself lazy for not working out, etc.—it’s backfired. Feeling crappy, I end up doing more of the things that “sabotage” myself in an attempt to feel better—eating more, spending more money, etc. etc.—and end up a not so happy camper no better off than I was in the first place.

Trying to change your life is hard. When you feel bad, it’s even harder.

So what’s the alternative?

Loving yourself into and through change.

My suggestions:
Play on your own team. Notice when you’re beating yourself up and get out of that headspace. Find something positive to focus on, like what you’re presently achieving and the kind of person you’re already in the process of becoming. Be patient with yourself.

Self-esteem and the way you look at and talk to yourself matters. Put the same amount of effort into learning to love yourself that you do into attempting to “fix” yourself and I have a feeling you’ll be a heck of a lot better set up to achieve whatever your loved and happy little heart desires.

When you love yourself, you take care of yourself.

When you take care of yourself, things get better.

Love yourself now.

be nice to yourself

What goals do you set based on what’s wrong, broken, or needing to be fixed? What could you use that energy for instead?
What do you beat yourself up for?

It’s about time

This post has been coming together in my mind, on napkins and scrap paper, in journals, and all over the place for a while.

It’s about time I put it all together and just got real about what’s up with me…

I think the life coaches and inspirational junkies of the world might be out to inspire me:

  • Monday’s quote from Andrea Owen, in my inbox:

  • Last week’s behappy.me daily quote, also in my inbox:

So I’m going to do it….

So after a whole lot of thinking, blogging, journalling, talking, reflecting, etc. etc. I can say I’ve had a hella summer. It was filled with awesome things–travelling, meeting all kinds of people, making mistakes and learning lessons, having more fun than ever–and it brought me a lot of insight.

This week is the start of that Life By Design Challenge I mentioned earlier in the month. If you’re not familiar with Life By Design yet, puh-leeeeeeze check it out:

I’m telling you — whether it found me or I found it, I think there’s a match made in heaven here. This is my interpretation and what I’ve taken from being exposed to all of this –> Living by design means realizing that we’re MEANT to be strong, fit, healthy, beautiful, powerful, successful, _____________ [insert great adjective here] and then going after it. It’s about living on as awesome a level as you can and being awake and conscious of your life–not just settling for being okay or going through the motions but actually taking responsibility and stepping up!

I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty hooked. I am drawn to these people–and not just because they’re jacked and fun to be around (this stuff works!). There’s something about the energy and the fact that they’re doing something on purpose that’s really refreshing–cuz it’s rare (but it shouldn’t be this way–how great would it be if we all woke up and actually lived?!) and cuz it’s inspiring! Safe to say I feel lucky to have met Dr. K at Starbucks one day and had an impromptu coaching session when I timidly talked about not being sure about becoming a dietitian and mentioned that I have a blog (without any confidence or feelings of deserving–in short, with much lower self esteem than I have now!).

So at the same time that I am really energized, motivated, and excited about all of the changes I’ve made, I feel like there’s a part of me that’s been holding back. Yes, I’ve made serious changes. But I’m frustrated and I feel stuck–and I know it’s up to me to change it!

As far as I’ve come, I still don’t feel like I’ve got it together. And that’s fine and dandy–you have to be okay with where you are to get anywhere better–but I’m not going to hide it: I want to be stronger. I’m sick of feeling soft and pudgy. I’m done pretending that I’m really fit when I realize I’m neglecting a whole lot of what it takes to train properly. That being said, I’m already working on these things, but I haven’t really announced it: I’m eating by design, I’m giving up my old approach to working out and training, I’m getting my power turned on with regular chiro visits, and I’m waking up for all of this. In short, I’m working on living by design.

Starting point:

It is what it is. I weigh 142lbs. I don’t lift weights very much, but I do a lot of body weight stuff. I don’t do 2 hours of cardio like I used to, but I still fall back on cardio workouts and sometimes think I need to do one every day. I like yoga and I do more of it. I play sports every once in a while. I read books, I spend time with friends, and I think I’m pretty conscious of what’s going on in my life. I’m actively working on my values, I’m defining my mission, I’m setting goals. I eat a lot of real food but I also have a lot to learn. I drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of froyo, and I sometimes let my emotions drive my food choices. I look like this:

Again, it is what it is.

So what’s it all mean?

I just made this kind of a bigger deal since I want to get even more conscious about what I’m doing. My posts are going to be more forwardly talking about applying the stuff I’m sure you read about — eating, moving, thinking, brain body connection, by design:

  • Health –> Not waiting for something to be wrong to care. Keeping a clear connection. Sleeping.
  • Eat –> Eating more real foods that are by design. My new idea is “nonfiction” food — real stuff that I can actually say where it came from. Sure “by design” foods from WalMart are better than BigMacs, but I have the resources and time and motivation to seek out stuff from real farms and producers that aren’t so far removed that I lose sight of where my food/nourishment is coming from. Recognizing that froyo and treats are fine–but they’re not “food” or fuel.
  • Move –> Working on that broad definition of fitness. My decision to get crossfit certified + being willing to make a little bit of an ass of myself learning the stuff that I don’t know (mainly: olympic lifts) and to play around with things (finding a balance between the cardio I love and the training I need to be strong and fit and all those good things) = next steps.
  • Think –> Focusing on the good stuff. The motto is “Focus on what’s strong, not on what’s wrong.” Working on my values, my purpose, and then acting on it. Reading more things that lift me up and less that just fill my world with fluff. Spending more time doing the things I like to do with the people who lift me higher.
  • Other –> Using my energy for the things that matter. Freelancing, teaching fitness, and blogging = doing more of what I love. Not signing up for a course this fall just because. Applying the if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no theory. Living out loud. Simplifying. Moving. Learning how to budget. Spending more time outside. Trusting the process.

NOW I feel ready for that 30 day challenge. Might as well start early, might as well go big, and might as well blog the heck out of it. There’s inspiration in seeing someone else’s trials, successes, progress and all that jazz and that’s what I want to do with this and that’s why I’m giving you this novel of a backgrounder. Accountability, motivation, something to reflect back on–those rock too!

Life is too short to be anything but happy

For a while—as in since last week, when I graduated. I’ve felt so out of whack and I know I’m getting back on the right track, but what is that track?

After taking this Food Science course and diving into this Foods and Nutrition Program (my third go at it, really), I know what I don’t want–to finish it. I’ve known that for a few weeks, and I’ve been thinking about my options (but you guys know I’ve been pretty busy).

While nothing is set in stone, I think I’m starting to wrap my head around a rough idea of where I’d like to head and of the kind of future I want to create for myself.

A year ago, I was sure I was going to be in Journalism school in september. Since then, I’ve realized I want to do more than write. I love to write. I will be a writer. I will keep pitching stories, blogging, and writing my heart out. I don’t need a master’s degree to do that.

A month ago, I was pretty certain I was going to be a dietitian. I knew I wanted to help people lead healthier lifestyles and I liked the idea of helping athletes and people working through eating disorders.

Journalist.

Dietitian.

Safe.

Today, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I’m forming a picture of what it’s going to look like without needing a label. No offence to anyone who has known what they’ve wanted to be since they were 5 and have come out of it with a great professional degree or something like that, but that hasn’t been working for me. I’m done sticking to the conventional just for the sake of feeling secure. At my graduation, the speaker mentioned something about how times have changed. Making money is tough. Finding “a job” is tough. He told us to take every opportunity. Things can seem overwhelming, but when you look at it as a world full of opportunities instead of feeling overwhelmed, you see that there is so much freaking potential that you can’t help but get excited.

I really never thought that I’d be so confused about what I want to do with myself. If you don’t know me or you can’t get vibes from my blog, I’m a stubborn person. I know where I’m headed, or at least I like to pretend I do. So this is a big shift for me, but it’s one that I know is going to lead me to a happier career and life at the end of it all.

I know it’s cheesy, but it’s true: “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day of your life.” It’s also true that by deciding that I’m going to work towards a happy holistic life instead of just securing a career, I’m just embracing all the awesome that I’m entitled to in a new way. I did it with my body–I don’t have to force myself to lose weight or to have perfect abs before I can be happy. In the same way, I don’t have to make sure the tI’ve got a set career path and plan that is stable before I can start living. Cuz FYI, life is flying by and I think the point is kind of to enjoy this whole process, right? Thanks for that realization, recovery!

So enough with the big thinking and rambling…what the heck am I going to do next?

I started to figure this out by thinking about my options and by talking it through with a lot of helpful listening ears. I started to look for examples of people living the kinds of lives–active, inspiring, engaging–that I want to and to take notes or to ask questions of what they’re doing. The truth is, they’re just following their bliss. That seems to be the key.

Right now, what’s making my heart sing most is:

  • teaching fitness
  • blogging and writing in general
  • rounding up cheesy quotes
  • yoga
  • reading, especially about nutrition, eating disorder recovery, and self help
  • working with my life coach
Things I considered for the coming year:
  • working as a fitness professional
  • going back to Western and taking some more kin courses and finishing my writing certificate
  • looking for a job somewhere exciting (mountains, anyone?)
  • applying to teacher’s college in the states or australia
  • applying for my masters in kin or in sports nutrition somewhere
  • pursuing the registered holistic nutritionist designation from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition
  • going somewhere to get my 200 hour yoga teacher training
  • going on an NOLS trip – throwing myself into the wilderness, essentially
  • signing up for a program at Rhodes College, where my life coach went
  • taking violin lessons and getting far enough so that I can teach little kiddies how to play – I was pretty close, but my theory could use some work!
And to be totally honest, I want to do them all. Luckily I had a good reminder come my way from my mother:
(at once)
I also came to a big realization: if you’re meant to do something, YOU WILL. It doesn’t matter when. There isn’t that pressure. If you have to force yourself to do something, why are you doing it (career, but also training, etc.)? The things on that list that I really truly want to do will get done. The ones that don’t really matter won’t. It’s as simple as that.
So what’s my next step?
With a disclaimer that I am 100% allowed to change my mind, my plan is to work away at an independent study in sports sociology this fall while I do the registered holistic nutrition program (in London) on a part time basis and work as much as I can in fitness. I want to teach spin and bootcamp and I’d like to keep training with triathlon club. I’m going to think about doing an energy exchange at Yoga Shack, but if I’m too busy, I’ll keep yoga as purely something I do for the sake of doing. I’m going to see how things go and where I can work in fitness and my motto is to take opportunities that call out to me but say no to the ones that just don’t feel right (if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no). I’m going to keep blogging about all of the healthy living I do and I’m going to keep on writing (freelancing, volunteering at the Gazette, etc.). I’m hoping that when I’m done with the RHN program in two years, I can do one of the coaching programs at Rhodes. I know I want to help people and I think the programs would work together to give me the kind of training and experience I need to make positive change. I also think they’ll give me the information I want to write the kinds of articles and blogs that will do the same. I also know that it sounds a little hippie to say that I’m going to be a freelance writer, holistic nutritionist and life coach who also teaches fitness, but that’s what I’m feeling right now.
So if you were hoping I’d have a simple answer in the form of “When I grow up, I’m going to ______________,” no such luck!
I know that giving myself this end vision — I picture that life coach writer nutritionist fitness instructor, I see her as a slightly older, stronger, only more awesome version of myself — and making it as vivid as I can (she lives in a house in the mountains and has two chocolate labs and drives a nissan murano, btw) is motivating. I have a yoga instructor who often says to leave the picture in the mirror out of it and to see where you want to go and then make it happen, and I’m definitely feeling the application here.
When you can see it, you can feel it, and you can connect to it. And when I see that version of me, I feel so full of energy, happy, and all that good stuff. If you think I’m crazy, I’m telling you: you’re missing out. That’s kind of why I want to be some form of a coach–to help people connect to this feeling of being motivated and energized and pulled by the positive things in life. After recovery from my eating disorder, I know how rough things can get. This is like a second shot at life, and I feel like I need to spread the word and shout it from the rooftops even if some people look at me like I’m a new age hippie or something. I swear–I’m not high on anything (my friend summed up how people sometimes look at us pretty well)–except life itself. Yeah, I just said that!
So that was a whole lot of words and a whole lot of cheese, but it needed to be said! You better believe there’s a bucket list coming and a vision board in the works. I’ve been jotting down random things I want to do before I die on napkins and business cards and in random notes on my phone. This is all good. It keeps me thinking about the positive things that I want to do. Think big. Dream big. Be bold. All that good stuff.
For a really long time, my life was about living small and about listening to Ed. It was about food, calories, workouts, and all that stuff. Then it hit me, slowly, but hard: this is all there is. I’m going to die some day. Like that’s pretty morbid, but it’s true. There’s no point in doing something that doesn’t make me happy. There’s no point in not doing what I want to do or in at least trying to figure out what that is. This could be a post in itself, so I’m going to sum things up:
Hence this blog. Hence my whole outlook and approach to life.
Anddddd smile.
Have you ever changed your mind about school or your career?
What’s the number one thing on your bucket list?

If you’re working, are you doing the job you thought you would when you were younger?
Do you ever think of yourself in 10 years? What’s it look like?

Change

Sometimes when I am out and about and daydreaming, I write blog posts on whatever I can get my hands on. Remember my Strong is the new skinny post? I wrote it on random paper on the plane to visit my dad and saved it for a few weeks before posting it. This is just proof that my blog is really my diary and that you should feel privileged to get so into my head. Ha – ha.

Just joking, but in all seriousness, I’ve been writing a bunch of these notes to myself/future blog posts/random musings lately and thinking that they’d make decent blog posts if I could clean them up a bit and if I had a reason for writing them.

It’s funny when that reason smacks you in the face.

Like this quote of the day, which I read before I even got out of bed today.

Not a bad way to start the day, huh?

Anyways, it relates back to one of those notes I wrote where I started thinking about how much I’ve changed in the last year, two years, four years, etc. and about how I’ve really come into my own power and am starting to feel increasingly confident about who I want to be and where I want to go. It is funny that my eating disorder was the wakeup call I needed to make me realize that I’ve been holding myself back.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: eating disorders make your world small. When you let ED bring you down, you can’t fly. It’s really hard to figure out what it is that’s missing, but when you do, things start to click. Until I realized that I was convinced I deserved to be miserable/didn’t deserve to be happy, I was stuck. Sure I was “in recovery” but I wasn’t there. If I didn’t deserve all the good in the world, do you think I thought I deserved recovery?

So after telling myself over and over again (I’ve got reminders posted around my apartment, I’ve got popups on my phone, I’ve got events scheduled on my google calendar): “You deserve all the good in the world,” I am starting to actually believe it. And I’m noticing where else I might be holding myself back:

  • school – going back vs. not going back
  • career – writing, fitness
  • relationships – friends, family, boys
  • training/eating/body
It’s taken a lot of looking in and being really brutally honest with myself to see how I’m bringing myself down and then the next step of it all has been to ask why. Am I scared of making really strong friendships because I think people are going to hurt me? Am I scared of being a really successful writer because I think “how dare you?” While I do think it’s important to do all this, I’ve started to just focus on where I want to go and who I want to be instead and to move towards that, which feels really goal. When I was stuck in my delusional eating disordered ways I would set these huge goals and give myself direction, albeit misguided. For a while, I wasn’t sure if setting goals was healthy for me or not, but now I’ve realized: that same drive and determination that I used to use to fuel my ED can fuel ME on the path to being great.

The other day I was looking for something in my old workout books and I came across a dog-eared page in Jackie Warner’s book where she wrote about goals and discovering what you really want and about visualization. She said, “Voice your goals and passions with as many people as possible. The more you talk about them, the more you imprint and program them into your subconscious mind. Talking the talk will lead to walking the walk.”

So that’s what I’m doing. But what am I saying and who do I want to be?

  • I want to be healthy, fit, and strong. I don’t want to be skinny, I don’t want a six pack at all costs, and I don’t want to be obsessive. But I do love fitness and I am allowed to like my body when it looks fit.
  • I want to eat real food and I want to eat food that makes me feel good without apologies or worrying about what people will say. Like I’ve mentioned before, eating disorder recovery means opening up to fear foods, eating them and seeing that your life goes on, etc. etc. But I’m talking here about finding what makes you feel the best–and that might mean leaving out some foods not because they’re “scary” or because you think they’re going to ruin you, but because they’re not working for you and your body. What I have noticed is this: I feel best on whole, real foods. Imagine that. I feel worse when I eat certain things because I feel like I should (i.e. have a bun with your dinner because if you don’t have starch you’re going back to your ED ways. Hello, still giving power to ED.) I’m in charge of my food choices and I will never forget all the recovery lessons I’ve learned–skipping a bun or choosing not to eat certain foods doesn’t mean ED is back, it means I’m ready to eat for me again!
  • I want to find a career that calls to me and go after it whole heartedly. Right now, I don’t entirely know what that looks like. One thing I do know is this — fitness and health and nutrition call to me. I might be on the right track with going back to school to be a dietitian, but I might be using this as a way to further delay things because I am scared. But fear isn’t a good reason for me to do/not do certain things and I’ll just admit it: for a long time, I thought I was too fat/inexperienced/young to start my career and thinking all of those thoughts also made me see myself as someone who could never really succeed in the fitness/health industry. But you know what? I’ve been thinking more and more about those presenters, leaders, movers/shakers in the fitness world and I think I could be a force. And I don’t think I need to change at all on the outside: I think it all has to do with continuing on this track to confident Cheryl and believing in myself and visualizing myself as that woman!
  • I want to do something unconventional with my life. I don’t know what it’s going to look like. Motivational speaker/adventure race coach/personal trainer/author/blogger/wellness coach/sports nutritionist/writer/athlete/? This is the fun part – I’m only going to be 23 with wide open possibilities once and rather than fear the unknown, I want to take it all as an adventure – that’s why we’re here!
  • I want to be me. I want to wear the weird clothes that I like, not the “cool” ones that everyone else wears. I want to be loud, random, spontaneous and awesome because that’s who I am.

This change, this movement in my life feels GOOD. Even though we resist change sometimes, it’s so important to be open to it. Whereas in the past I’ve been terrified of change, this time it’s different. I chalk it up to knowing I can take it on–that confidence thing again! I also think that a big difference here is that this is coming from my core and is about who I want to be, not how I want to look or present myself to the world. If there was a lot of resistance to these changes, I wouldn’t make them because I’m learning that I am in charge and know what I need and trusting that intuition. And I think that for me to make lasting change and a real shift, it’s got to be something I want with my whole heart and feel good about making. So often we think about change as something we have to force ourselves to do or as a struggle, but that ignores the fact that we are the ones in control.

That’s a news flash: it’s not ED, the media, your parents, your friends, or anyone else that you have to answer to when things are said and done. It’s you and what you think of yourself that matters. Trust yourself, listen to your intuition, and ask yourself who you want to be? Find changes that feel good and lean into those–don’t worry about the changes that make you feel bad (chances are they’re for someone else).

I don’t know a better way to end all of this than to share some of my favourite cheese on the topic of inspiration and of course, you might as well have a little background music to reflect to.


What do you guys think about what I said about change?
How do you see your ideal self?
Do you ever write blog posts on random papers/napkins/your phone for later?

Wordless WIAW…with words?

That whole going wordless thing seems silly considering I have something worth saying.

I handed in my exam/essays today which means I am officially done my Kinesiology courses. That’s a degree, folks!

Holy crap.

My stomach is in knots and I think it’s just all the change/excitement getting to me.

I did not eat anything weird today…

just one, not the whole box. and i split it between pre swim and post spin snack.

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apple, carrot, turkey, and cranberry salad with some almonds.

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greek yogurt, mini eggs, and some honey!

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vanilla/cake batter fro yo, a bunch of pineapple, granola, coconut, and a cherry on top. with chia seeds. this is a nutritional marvel. and it's dinner. not cheap. not ideal on a regular basis. but delicious!

It was a delicious day, but really random. And my stomach hurt every time I ate. Or drank. Strange indeed. I am hoping this sickness is stepping in for the migraine I was expecting when the calm after the storm hit?

Though to be honest the calm didn’t hit.

I celebrated today by spending lots of quality time with friends (breakfast date with a bunch of great folks, afternoon shopping with Angela, evening hangouts with Rache/seeing some other tri friends who always make me laugh) and by training plenty.

And, I’m pooped. Looking forward to a massage tomorrow. And to a swim with friends. And to a double dose of year end dinners (I don’t know what to wear! Eek!). And I’ll probably be ravenous since today was a really weird day for eating. I’m open to filling my hollow leg tomorrow, no problemo!

What was tasty for you today?
Ever finished a degree? How’d you celebrate?

Home (sorta)

Andddd, I’m in the motherland! And I’m cold…

The day went really fast and I can’t believe it’s almost bed time!

After a leisurely morning (which involved deconstructing my broken suitcase–Samsonite warranty my butt!), we headed to the airport.

I had a hankering for salty carbs: it was a toss up between pita chips, pretzels, or french fries. I usually “go with” my cravings if I’m actually hungry when they hit, so when I saw these bad boys I knew I was in luck.

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I’d already had a substantial morning snack (greek yogurt, a banana, and some Love Grown granola) before I left. I also had some sad moments when we were leaving cuz as much as I love London and miss my friends, I really haven’t spent this much time with my family in years. I feel loved and lucky and I’m sad to see the week come to an end (not to mention I don’t wanna go back to school in two days!).

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My plane ride involved coffee, an apple Lara bar, an apple, and a significant portion of the next book I’m loving: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. 

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Yepp, I’m gonna be raving about this one. Kindaaaa made me wanna find a job where I could have a garden and basically be a farmer/housewife/writer (the author’s role, sort of) — or maybe someone who teaches home economics cuz there was a lot about how much people would benefit if they learned about food/agriculture…thoughts! And I got to a part that already got me thinking: an essay by the author’s daughter (who sounds strangely like me — university student who teaches yoga and is really interested in nutrition?) about vegetarianism and how people expect her to be one, but she’ll eat meat that she knows the history around…more food for thought!

I read The 100 Mile Diet a long time ago. I loved it. But I didn’t act on it much at all. I wrote articles about eating local for a writing class I had and then pitched an idea about eating local as an athlete to Canadian Cycling Magazine–it ended up being my first published article in the magazine.

…but do I shop at the market every week? Nope. Do I buy Canadian options when they’re there? Rarely, but I can say that tonight when I went to the store to grab something for dinner, I bought Ontario potatoes and apples to use. Usually for the potatoes, I’d go for the cheaper ones and for the apples, the bigger ones the better. So this was a step in the right direction!

I did have a moment where I almost ate whatever for dinner, so it’s an extra good thing I went and was able to tide myself over with a granola bar (I haven’t had a Kashi bar in weeks, so it was kind of a treat, but I wasn’t that full so I’m not sure how I used to use them as a snack on a regular basis) in the presence of all the crackers and candies at my mom’s apartment when I got home!

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So heading to the grocery store to get REAL food was huge.

I had salmon, kale chips, and mashed potatoes (which I baked with the skins on in the microwave, added plain soy milk, garlic salt and a bit of olive oil to, and mashed by hand with the skins still on for fiber!). And I loved every bite. I also made a point of choosing what I think is at least a step in the right sustainable direction with the PC Blue Menu Salmon that is Marine Stewardship Council certified as sustainable.  No, it’s probably not perfect but you know what? This is a process for me, of leaning into more conscious/healthier eating. 🙂

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I also picked up some quinoa flakes, which means I can try Leanne’s recipe for a breakfast bake ASAP!

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Yeahhh I’m ready to be back in London. Tomorrow I’ll go to the clinic though, to at least see if they’ll give me an x ray or a referral for my hip. Fingers crossed!

For now, it’s bed time for me (I am a grandmother, yupp!).

Have you ever tried a breakfast bake?
Do you look for certain kinds of fish?
Have you read 100 Mile Diet? My article in CCM ;)? Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?