My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Starting the week off strong

After pushing myself to my limits last week, and resting the whole weekend, I woke up this morning ready to hit the gym hard!

I know I have to push myself to reach my goals. I need to push hard to break through the walls and plateaus. I need to push myself to test my limits … and break them!

When I woke up this morning, I noticed it was snowing outside. The old me would have said something like “screw that! I’m going back to bed!” But not the new me. The new me didn’t think twice about getting ready to hit the gym. I showered, got dressed, had breakfast, bundled up, and headed out. I got to the gym determined to have a great workout.

My Mondays at the gym almost always include a workout with Tyler. And that was up first today. I started with a 10-minute warm up on the treadmill, doing one minute walking/one minute jogging the whole time. It was the first jogging I’d done in almost a week. It felt great. Then it was Tyler’s turn. He really pushed me hard today. I was sweating up a storm and it was awesome!! I love working with Tyler because I almost always discover I can do things I never thought I’d be able to do. After Tyler was done kicking my butt, it was straight into cardio. I started with the rowing machine for 12 minutes (2k), then on to the elliptical for 18 minutes, then the recumbent bike for 20 minutes, then the stair stepper for the last 10 for a total of an hour. And it was a hard hour too! I thought about doing a second hour of cardio on the treadmill after resting for a bit, but I just didn’t have it in me. I was pretty tired at that point. I headed home feeling pretty good.

So after having a bit of a tough week last week, and ending it feeling completely wiped out, I feel like I’m starting off this week on a strong note. And I’m feeling rather empowered by that notion. I’m looking forward to a great week at the gym.


Finding the balance

So I’m discovering once again that I need to find the right balance in my journey. The balance between pushing myself in my workouts but not too hard; between gym time and “me” time. I woke up this morning feeling completely drained. I had a hard workout again yesterday. It took a lot out of me, and I’m not sure I’m 100% yet. Because of that, I decided to stay home today. Do I feel guilty about that? Yes, a little. I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard for a few weeks now. My friend Jeff suggested I’m pushing myself too hard, that I’m stressing myself out. I think he has a point. I don’t really take much “me” time. When I’m not at the gym, I’m thinking about what I’ll be doing the next time I’m there, or I’m running around taking care of things around my house. Jeff lives thousands of miles away and he says he can tell I’m stressed. That says a lot. So I need to find the right balance. I need to figure out how to push myself in my workouts, as well as not stress about them. And I need to incorporate more “me” time. I just wish I knew how to do that. How do I stop putting so much pressure on myself? How do I continue to work towards my goals without overdoing it? How do I learn to relax? I think anyone who’s on a journey like mine eventually has to deal with these questions. So how do I figure out the answers? How do I find the balance I need? I don’t know. I really don’t know.

It’s interesting to me how time and time again along this journey I have to learn new ways to deal with emotional issues. This is just another one of those times. In the past, I’d use food to deal with them, or rather not deal with them. But not now. Now I have to face the issues head on. They aren’t going to just go away.

And as I’m dealing with these issues, how do I stay motivated? How do I keep from giving up? How do I stay on track?

The only thing I do know is to take it one step at a time, one day at a time. And hopefully as I move along, I’ll find the answers I need.

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Quinte’s Biggest Loser – 2 weeks in

So Season 2 of Quinte’s Biggest Loser has begun. Since we just finished the second week, I thought I’d post an update.

So how’s it going so far?

Pretty good I think. I’m pushing myself harder than I ever have before. I’m trying to incorporate new things into my workouts as well.

The most exciting thing I’ve done so far is learning to jog. That might seem like a simple thing, but let me tell you, it is not! At least not when you’re overweight. But I’m actually liking it! I mostly jog on the treadmill for now. I’ve only been able to jog outside once so far, mainly because it is winter and freezing outside! Hopefully once it warms up a little bit, I’ll be out there again. I’m really looking forward to that!

I’m pushing my cardio harder as well. In addition to the treadmill, I’m incorporating the stair stepper, the recumbent bike, the elliptical, and the rowing machine.

I’m also keeping a big eye on my nutrition. I’m being extra careful about what I eat and how much, but still making sure I’m eating enough. I’m trying to change things up a bit by adding new healthy foods in, and changing up what I have for meals as well as snacks. I’m not super good at knowing what the best foods are, but there are a bunch of apps that I can use. And of course, I have friends helping with that as well.

Am I losing weight? Yes, a bit. Not as much as I’d like, but every little bit counts. I’m sure I’m building muscle, which is a good thing in the long run. I’m off to a bit of a slow start, but hopefully things will start moving a little quicker soon.

The next weigh-in is in 3 weeks so I have a little time to catch up, but not a lot. I need to get my butt in gear! I want to do well at this. I want to do much better than I did last year. I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going.

And if anyone has any tips for me, I’d love to hear them!!

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Am I crazy??

The last couple of days I’ve been questioning myself, doubting myself. This is nothing new for me. But it’s been a while since I doubled myself this much. I’m beginning to think I’m a little crazy, wondering what I’ve gotten myself into. You see, I have big plans for myself this year. I am planning on doing 2 – 10k walk/runs, in which I want to be able run/jog part of the time; and 2 Relay for Life walks, and in each I want to do 50 laps. I think that’s pretty ambitious. Especially if you consider the fact that I couldn’t do either last year.

I walked in my first 5k last year. And I’m very proud of that. And I really want to do a 10k. But right now I’m questioning whether I will be ready, whether I can actually do it. I never attempted 10k before. What if I can’t do it?? I’m trying to push myself, but what if it’s not enough??

During the Relay for Life last year, I walked 35 laps. That was the most I’d ever done. It wasn’t all at once, of course. It was like 5 or 6 laps at a time and over a 12-hour period. So why do I want to do 50? Good question. I don’t have an answer really. Maybe to prove to myself that I can. But now I’m questioning it. Is it too ambitious?? And I’m planning to do it twice. Is that too ambitious as well?

And I’m questioning myself in general too. Am I training hard enough? Am I pushing myself enough? Am I doing everything I can? Am I eating clean enough? Can I be doing more?

I know that every little bit counts. I know that every workout I do brings me closer to my ultimate goal. I know that I’m stronger than I was last year … Heck, I’m stronger than I was 3 months ago! And yet, I’m still questioning myself, still doubting myself. And I don’t know how not to.

And that sometimes makes me think I’m crazy. Am I crazy for creating such ambitious goals for myself? Am I crazy for thinking I’m not training hard enough? Am I crazy for doubting myself?

I try not to let these thoughts get to me. I try not to let them get into my head. But sometimes it happens when I’m not paying attention. Or if I’m having a bad day. Or if I’m struggling at the gym. I need to figure out how to stop them. I just don’t know how. I’m working on it though.

I have great friends that I can turn to when I’m struggling. But what if they get tired of listening to my struggles, of me needing their help all the time? What if they get tired of me doubting myself? I don’t want them to give up on me. I don’t want them to think I’m giving up on myself.

So what do I do? I do I stop questioning myself? How do I stop doubting myself? How do I stop thinking I’m crazy? I don’t have the answers … at least not yet.


Workout buddies

When I first started going to the gym last year, I almost always worked out by myself. A few times I went with my husband or friends, but overall, I was alone. I preferred it that way, actually. I think it was partly because I was new to working out and I didn’t want to be intimidated by anyone else working out with me. So I just trudged along on my own. Once I got used to the gym, I started chatting more with others. After I’d been there about 2 months, I started taking one of the classes. I was intimidated at first, but quickly settled into it. A couple weeks later, I added a second class. I was becoming less and less intimidated working out with and around others. The more I worked out, the stronger I got, the more I wanted others around. And that became more and more true once I started working with Tyler.

Now I really enjoy having someone to workout with. It seems to make the time go by faster. Plus you can kind of compete against each other. But best of all, you have someone there to celebrate your accomplishments and to cheer you on when you’re struggling.

And let me tell you, I’ve needed that last one a lot!

There is just something about having someone there to tell you stuff like “you’re doing great”, and “you got this!”, and “way to go!” There have been times where I’ve felt like giving up, like there is no way I can do this. And then someone says something like that to me and its almost like I’ve been given a second wind or something. Having someone there to support you can help you break through the walls and plateaus you sometimes hit.

And when you finally are able to accomplish something or you reach a goal you’ve been working at, there is nothing like having someone there to say congrats, pat you on the back, give you a high five, or say they knew you could do it.

It’s fun to have someone to compete with too. You can set goals to hit, see who can hit them faster. Plus you can share your workouts with each other. It adds an extra element to your workout and can be fun too.

And maybe you can teach each other new things as well. Maybe one of you knows how to use a piece of equipment and can show the other. Or maybe each of you knows different stretches or exercises for your abs.

Maybe most important, having a workout buddy can help prevent getting hurt during your workout. And they can stop you from pushing yourself too far.

I have several workout buddies. We do cardio together. We do stretching. We do a core workout together. Maybe a group of us will get together for a Zumba class or a boot camp workout. The sky is really the limit.

My friend Jeff is one of my favourite workout buddies. And we don’t even live near each other! We text each other almost daily though. We share our workouts. We cheer each other on. We support one another when we are struggling. And if one of us is having a bad day, we have someone to vent to.

If you don’t already have a workout buddy or two, I highly recommend you get at least one. You might be surprised how much it adds to your workout.

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Ok so I wrote in my New Year’s post that one of my goals for 2013 is to learn to jog/run. Well, I’ve started … on the treadmill. I have been terrified to try jogging/running on the treadmill for fear of falling and getting hurt.

Tyler kept telling me it would be okay, that I wouldn’t fall. He said to start slow, basically the speed I walk at. I was still scared, but tried it anyway. The first time I thought I was going to have a mental breakdown. I thought it was too fast. I thought there is no way I can do this. I thought to myself, what have I gotten myself into!? That’s a lot to think in 30 seconds. It felt like forever. But I did it and I didn’t fall. It felt pretty good actually.

And that 30 secs gave me HUGE confidence. Enough confidence to try it again on my own, without anyone watching me. And the second time I went longer – a full minute! I figured that if I slowed the speed a little, I’d feel more confident. So that’s what I did. And it was awesome! So then I wanted someone to see, so I called over my friend Chase. It was kind of cool showing off a little.

And then I showed Tyler. And I showed off a little more by going 90 secs! And he recorded it too. It was pretty awesome. Tyler seemed pretty excited too.

This was last Wednesday. And those little jogs were the first I’d done since I was in high school!

Since then, I’ve done more jogging on the treadmill. I jog for a minute, then walk for about 3 minutes. Sometimes I have to walk a bit longer to catch my breath. I try to do as much as I can in the hour I’m on the treadmill.

Next I will work on shortening my walking time and increasing my jogging time. I don’t know how long it will take me, but that’s okay because I’m just going to take it one day at a time.

Eventually, Tyler and I will move outside to do some jogging. Not sure when that will happen. We sort of need to wait for decent weather. Being winter time, we have to be careful of ice and snow. But I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know if it will easier outside or not, but I still want to do it.

Jogging isn’t easy. It takes a lot of muscles working together. It takes lung power. It takes drive. It takes commitment. It takes heart. And learning to do it at 42 and overweight, I think, takes a little bit of craziness too (hahaha).

I plan to do two 10k events this year, and I want to be able to jog at least part of the time. I’m pretty excited about it!

Stay tuned for future updates on how it’s going.


The right mindset

My friend Sean and I were chatting the other day during our workout. We were talking about how some people are successful and some are not in their weight loss journey. And what it takes to be successful.

In my opinion, you need to have the right mindset.

I’ve been overweight almost my entire life. I was bullied in school because of it. I missed out on a lot of cool things growing up because of it. I tried many times over the years to do something about it. And I’d have some short term success, but I would ultimately fail. And I truly believe it’s because my mind was not in the right place, although I admit I didn’t know that at the time. It took me years to come to that realization.

You really have to want to succeed. You have to want it so bad that nothing will stop you. One of my favourite sayings goes like this:

“If you really want it, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

I was really good at finding excuses. I wasn’t in it to win it, as the saying goes.

But this time it’s different. This time I’m finding real success. And I know it’s because I have the right mindset. I want it more than I have ever wanted anything ever! I want to succeed this time. I want to prove I can do it. I want to be a better version of me.

And that’s another aspect of being in the right mindset. You really have to want to do it for yourself. It’s nice if you want to do it for others as well, but if YOU don’t want it, chances are, you will fail.

I do want it for me. I’m happy my husband is happy. I’m happy my doctors are happy. I’m happy my family and friends are happy. But most important, I’m happy. And it really makes a difference.

It’s about time I become the best version of me that I can. And I’m well on my way.


My friend Jeff

I’ve mentioned my friend Jeff in a few of my postings. But I don’t think I’ve mentioned him enough, so I decided to make this one all about him.

Jeff and I met many years ago (more than either of us wants to admit I think haha) when we worked together. We had similar personalities so we became fast friends. We had some great times. Eventually, I moved away to get married and we lost touch. Thanks to Facebook, he found me a couple of years ago. And it’s as if no time has passed. At least that’s how I see it. And I think we are even better friends now than we were back then.

Jeff has been on a weight loss journey of his own. And he has done amazingly well! I am so proud of him. He’s now in the maintenance stage on his journey. What’s good about that is I have someone to talk to who knows pretty much exactly what I’m going through. He knows the ups and downs, the struggles and triumphs. He’s helped me more than he may know. He’s a huge inspiration to me. And he keeps me motivated too. I don’t know if I can ever thank him enough for all he does for me.

Jeff is the one who inspired me to start this blog. He also gives me lots of ideas for things to write about. He doesn’t always do that intentionally. Sometimes we will be talking and I will say something like “I think there’s a blog entry in there.” And sometimes when I’m not sure about something I’ve written, he will read it over before I publish it. He’s helped me fine-tune more than one entry.

Beyond the fact that Jeff is a major source of support for me on my journey, he is one of my dearest friends. I consider him one of my best friends in fact. He is one of the kindest, smartest, funniest, silliest people I know. And I can’t imagine my life without him. I recently gave him the nickname “Rockstar.” Partly because he totally rocks his workouts, always pushing himself, but also because he has a larger-than-life personality. I think the name really suits him.

We text each other nearly every day, several times a day. We live thousands of miles apart, in different time zones, but we always find a way to connect. We chat while we are working out, helping each other when we’re struggling, cheering each other on, keeping each other motivated. We are both a little competitive as well. We sort of compete against each other when we work out. He almost always wins, but I’m catching up. At least I like to think I am.

And best of all, I can share things with him that I can’t with just anyone. Because he knows where I’m coming from, he understands my fears and my struggles. He’s been there too. He knows what it means to be able to do things we couldn’t do before, to set a goal and then surpass it. He knows how important something as simple as being able to say NO to that piece of cake or that extra helping of lasagna really is.

I’m lucky to have him be a part of my journey. I’m even luckier to call him my friend. The world is a better place because of Jeff Zaben.


Sometimes I need help …

… getting through a workout.
… to stay away from junk food and other things I shouldn’t be eating.
… getting up and going to the gym.
… remembering why I am doing what I’m doing.

A journey like mine is not easy, especially when you have to undo decades of poor eating habits and inactivity. There is so much to learn, so much to remember, so much to do. I do the best I can. I push myself as hard as I can. But I struggle. Sometimes I can pull myself through, but sometimes I need help.

Thankfully, I have a great support system. And I think that’s a major key to my success. I have friends and family who are always in my corner, who support me and encourage me, who are always willing to help me up if I fall. And let me tell you, I have needed them a lot!

They cheer me on. They listen to me vent. They remind me why I began this journey. They have a hug ready when I feel like I’m falling apart. They tell me how great I look. They tell me I can do it … They believe I can do it … Even when I have trouble believing it. They lift me up when I’m down. They don’t give up on me. They don’t let me give up on myself.

In case I haven’t said it enough, I’m so thankful for each and every one of them. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I don’t want to know. They mean more to me than I can ever truly express. They have helped me find a new me, a better me, a healthier me. And how can you thank someone for that.

I haven’t mentioned anyone by name on purpose. There are quite a few of them. And I didn’t want to leave anyone out. And besides, they know who they are.

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Why do I do it?

Why do I put myself through a tough workout?
Why do I have a personal trainer?
Why do I get up 5 mornings a week and head to the gym?
Why do I push myself so hard?
Why do I expect so much of myself?
Why do I eat as healthy as I can?
Why haven’t I given up?

Because I want to be healthier person.
Because I want to be strong.
Because I want to be able to say I did it.
Because I want to see how far I can go.
Because I want to wear “regular” sized clothes.
Because I want to learn new things.
Because I want to look in the mirror and love who I see.
Because I don’t ever want to sit in another doctors office and listen to him tell me I’m sick.
Because I don’t want to have to ask for a seatbelt extension when I fly.
Because I want to be the best person I possibly can be.
Because I love the feeling when I do something I’ve never been able to do before.
Because I love surpassing expectations, mine or anyone else’s.
Because I love making a goal and then shattering it.
Because I want to be sexy.
Because I have goals to reach.
Because I want to mark things off my bucket list.
Because I want to prove to all those who doubted me that they are wrong.
Because I don’t want to take medications for the rest of my life.
Because I want the rest of my life to be a very very long time.

Sometimes when I’m having a hard time and I’m struggling through my workouts, I remind myself of things on this list. This list is far from complete. I think of new reasons all the time. And when I forget, I have friends who help remind me.