My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

I only have myself to blame

One of the things I’ve learned about myself along this journey is that I’m an emotional eater and a stress eater.  Most of the time I have pretty good control of it.  Most of the time.

The last 6 months or so have been hard.  There have been times when I’ve been pretty stressed out.  And the events of the last several days have not helped any.  And I haven’t been about to control my eating the way I had been.

I’ve been struggling.  A lot.  With everything, it feels like.

The result?

The scale is going in the wrong direction.

And I only have myself to blame.

I’ve been trying.  But obviously not hard enough.

My workouts are different.  I’m not doing as much strength training as I was.  And I’m sure that has contributed to the problem.

I’m trying not to be too hard on myself.  But how can I not be?

I was making such great progress.  And now I’m going backwards.

And now since the accident, I can’t do much until I get the okay from the doctor.

The only thing I’ve been able to do is a little walking.  But with my sore hip, it takes effort.  And it’s not something I can do every day.  Nor can I go for really long walks.

And that just makes me want to eat more.

I’m trying to be good.  Really, I’m trying.  But it’s so hard.

Not everything I’m eating is bad.

Okay, some of it is.  I try not to keep that stuff in the house, but my husband and I don’t eat the same.  He can have anything he wants.  So sometimes we have stuff in the house.  Most of the time, it’s not a problem.  But lately it has been.

When I’m stress-eating or emotional-eating, I gravitate towards things like bread and sweets.  Not sure why, but I always have.  So if there is bread in the house, I just keep eating it, little by little, until it’s gone.  The same thing goes for sweets.

But sometimes it doesn’t stop there.  Sometimes I just will eat whatever I can find.  It depends on how big the stress or emotional level is.

To make matters worse, I’ve not been keeping up with my food journal as I should be.

I had been really good about it for so long.  I don’t know why I stopped.

I really need to get back to doing it.  I know how much it helps.

I need to get back to basics, I think.

I need to refocus.

I need to plan my meals and snacks better.

I need to do what workouts I can until I get the doctor’s clearance.  And once I get that, I need to get back to do workouts like I used to.

I only have myself to blame for where I’m at now.

But I can’t continually beat myself up about it either.

I need to get myself back on track and do my best to stay there.

I’m not giving up.  I’ve come too far.  And too much is at stake.

I just need to do better.

I will do better.

 

 

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Weekly Food Prep or How I stay on track

When I tell people my story, one of the things I get asked about quite often is how I stay on track with clean eating.

And there are always 2 things I tell them.

First, keep a food journal.  I have kept one for 2 years now.  And let me tell you, it works!  I write down what I eat, what time I eat it, and the calories.  The only things I don’t include are water and coffee, because neither has any calories. (I drink my coffee black.)  At the end of the day, I total the calories.   I thought I ate pretty good until I started doing this.  It really makes a difference.

When I first started keeping my food journal, I carried around a little notebook with me at all times.  Now I just type it in my phone, in the notes section.  If that doesn’t work for you, there are many free apps out there you can use.  I’ve tried a few, but haven’t found one I really like.  Do what works best for you.

Second, I do weekly food prep.  Different people do this differently.  Again, do what works best for you.  In my case, once a week I cook up big meals that I divide into lunches and dinners for myself for the week.  It could be anything really.  I might make a large pot of turkey chili.  Or a big pot of homemade soup.  I might make a giant turkey meatloaf or a big batch of turkey meatballs.  Whatever I feel like making.  Sometimes I make 2 or 3 different things just to mix it up.  My husband and I do our grocery shopping once a week, so before we go, I know what I plan on making for myself for the next week.

In addition to making up several lunches and dinners, I put together healthy snacks for myself.  I buy a bag or box of granola and divide it into small portions.  I buy a container of cottage cheese and portion it out too.  I take plastic bags and put together snacks for after my workouts.  These often include fruit, cottage cheese, and granola.   I also put cut-up veggies into little baggies so I can just grab and go.

I almost always start the day with a smoothie and some turkey bacon.  And I almost always make the smoothie the same way — milk, plain Greek yogurt, dry oatmeal, protein powder, and frozen berries.  I do a few things ahead of time to save time in the morning.  I buy a large bag of frozen berries (can be any kind, I usually get a bag of mixed) and I divide into smaller portions for my smoothies.  I also put portions of dry oatmeal and my protein powder together.  I will often buy the small containers of yogurt because they are already pre-portioned for me.  I also will precook a whole package of turkey bacon, so all I have to do is take a couple pieces out at a time.  Doing these few things helps to make making breakfast a lot faster.  Perfect if I’m short on time in the morning.

 

That may seem like a lot of work to some people.  But it’s really not.  I usually do this on Sundays; sometimes I divide it over both Saturday and Sunday.  It really doesn’t take that much time to get it all done.  And it saves me oodles of time throughout the week.  The best part is by doing this, I have no excuse for not eating healthy meals.  The work is already done.  The meals are just sitting in the fridge waiting for me.

Now this does take a bit of pre-planning.  I have to decide what I want to make, what ingredients I have and what I need, how much to make, do I have a recipe or is it something I can just throw together.  Luckily, I love to cook, so it’s not that big of a deal for me. But if you’re someone who doesn’t like to cook, or maybe you’re not really comfortable in the kitchen, it might be a little daunting.

Maybe you could get together with friends and have a cooking party.  Decide on who’s house to cook at, each person makes a dish, and you share what you make among the group.

Another suggestion would be to use a slow cooker.  Personally I have 2 and I love them! I make tons of different things.  They are so versatile.

You can do an online search for recipes for anything and everything.

I also use Pinterest a lot.  If you don’t already use it, you’re missing out!  It’s a great resource for so many things, not just cooking.

I’ve not always been in control when it comes to food.  It has often controlled me.  My food journal and weekly food prep helps me take back some of that control.

Do I always eat at home?  No, I love to eat out.  But taking control of what I eat at home has helped me take control of what I eat out.  I’ve learned to pay attention to the ingredients used, the cooking methods, the add-ons.  Almost every restaurant has healthy options, it’s a matter of looking for them.

Do I always eat clean?  No, but I do my best.  I often follow the 80/20 rule — I eat clean 80% of the time, and 20% of the time I indulge.  Am I perfect at it?  No, but again, I try my best.

And probably the most important thing I’ve learned is to take it one meal at a time.  Don’t beat yourself up because you ate pizza at a party.  Or maybe you had a few too many appetizers.  Or maybe you decided to have dessert.  Just do better at your next meal.  And remember, it’s okay to indulge once in a while.

 

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Asking for help

This has been a tough one for me in the past.

I grew up very shy and very introverted.  I didn’t start coming out of my shell until I was in my 20s.  I did not ask for help often, even when I knew I needed it.  I would struggle through whatever was giving me trouble.  Although, admittedly, sometimes it was just my stubbornness that would get in the way.  And sometimes I think it was the fear of losing control that prevented me from asking for help.

But the older I get, the more I realize that there is no shame in asking for help.  In fact, it’s often the best thing to do.  And the idea of losing control over something just because you ask for help is quite simply a little ridiculous.  I wish I had learned those lessons when I was younger.

When I started this journey to a healthier me, I knew from the beginning that I would help… and lots of it!  At the beginning I did a lot of reading, watching health segments on tv, searching online for information.  It helped get me started, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough.  But of course, I didn’t really know where to find the help I needed.

Our friend Sharlene was the one who suggested we join Quinte’s Biggest Loser in 2012 when it started.  The first year, I think there was a group of 8 of us who joined.  I’m not sure how many joined the second year.  (And for the record, for some reason they are not doing it on this year).  They had nutrition classes, plus we got free passes to some of the local gyms and lots and lots of information.  Plus I met some really awesome people.  It really kicked up my journey in a big way.

And because I started going to the gym, I met other people who could help me, most important of all is Tyler.  Asking him to help me was the one of the scariest, yet best things I ever did.  His help has been priceless to me.

But I’ve met many people who’ve helped me too, whether they realize they have or not.  Sometimes, their help has just been being a friend, listening to my troubles, or cheering me on.  Sometimes they have given me ideas for my blog.  Sometimes they answer my questions or show me a better way to do something.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the journey is never to be afraid to ask for help.  We can all use help, whether we want to admit it or not.  I’m not afraid to admit that I need the help.

And right now, I could use some help.

I need to add exercises to the ones I already have.  Ones I can do at home or outside, not just ones for the gym.  Ones where I need little or no equipment. Know a book you think might help?  Have a favourite website? Let me know! I can use all the suggestions I can get.

I need suggestions for healthy snacks and meals.  Do you have a favourite recipe? What’s your go-to snack?

I need help with motivation and inspiration.  Do you have a favourite quote that helps you? Maybe a favourite celebrity or fitness guru? Any tips or tricks you like to use to keep yourself going when you struggle?

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I’m in control …

And I have been from the start…

But I just figured that out.

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while now. But every time I started, I just couldn’t find the right words. Very frustrating when that happens.

And that’s part of the reason I haven’t posted anything recently. There are things I want to write. Things that are stuck in my head, but I just can’t seem to get them out on paper or, in this case, on the screen.

When I started this journey in 2009, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I knew that I had to make changes, but didn’t really know how to do that. I sort of winged it at the beginning. First changing how and what I ate, and then just moving more. Those were really the only things I knew for sure. I didn’t know how long it would take to get to my goal, and I didn’t know exactly how I would get there. I just knew that I had to start small. More than once I felt lost, unsure of myself. But somehow I managed. The universe tested me repeatedly, and while I stumbled, I never gave up. Admittedly, I came close a few times. But I knew my life depended on me continuing, so I kept at it.

And then things seemed to calm down. The universe appeared to be leaving me alone. I was making bigger strides. I joined Quinte’s Biggest Loser, found a gym, made some new friends. And while I still wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing, my world was expanding and I was slowly gaining more knowledge. And then I met Tyler. Sometimes I think meeting him was the universe’s way of saying sorry for all the trouble and here’s some extra help for you. I was very nervous when I asked him to take me on as a client, but I somehow knew he was someone who could really help me. And I knew I really needed the help. Together, I made even bigger strides. I learned more than I thought possible. Tyler taught me so much … about fitness … about nutrition … about myself. And in the process, we became good friends.

And then we were forced to change gyms. While I was worried about what that would do to my progress, Tyler was confident we would be fine. He, of course, was right. There have been other small challenges along the way, but with my new-found confidence (sometimes my own, sometimes borrowed from a friend), I tackled each one as they came. And learning more and more with each one.

And then the universe decided to throw a huge challenge at me. Tyler decided to go back to school … Across the country. While I was (and still am) incredibly proud of him for making that choice, I was worried I wouldn’t do as well without his help. He said we would still work together, it would just be online. He would send me workout videos, I would send him weekly and monthly progress reports, and we would video chat whenever possible. I was thrilled he still wanted to help, but I was still worried. I was worried he wouldn’t have time once school started. I knew school and work would take up a lot of his time. I told him repeatedly that his school and job were way more important than helping me. And I meant it (still do). So the new system worked for awhile, but as I suspected, it became too much for him. And while I was heartbroken about it, I understood.

So basically I was on my own. I had gained a lot of knowledge in a year and a half, but wasn’t completely sure what to do with it all. Tyler did leave me some stuff before he left. And I had the videos he sent me. But I was feeling lost. I always tried to do my best. I had a few friends that worked out at the same time as me, and that helped. I would ask them questions. They would help me with my technique, and give me a spot when I was dealing with heavier weights. But slowly, those friends disappeared for one reason or another. And then I was left to myself. (They didn’t completely disappear out of my life, they just weren’t working out at the same time, or they were no longer at the same gym, or life just got in the way.)

I still tried the best I could, but I started to struggle. It seemed that the harder I tried, the more I struggled. And more often than I want to admit, I wanted to give up. But I kept going, determined to prove the naysayers wrong. It’s been a battle though. Mostly a mental one. I’ve had so much support around me for so long, that I haven’t been able to figure out what to do without it. Okay, it’s not completely gone, I know that. But it’s not there every day. Does that makes sense? It does to me, but maybe not to everyone. Maybe you need to be in a situation like mine to truly understand. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, even though I was struggling, I kept going and doing what I could. And the weeks and months went on.

So now it’s a new year. And I’m still trying to figure it all out. But something has changed. I feel more determined somehow. I know I need to make some changes, and I know I need to figure out how. I need to tighten up my nutrition. I need to add new exercises to what I’m already doing. I need to remember why I started this journey. I need to remind myself that I’m doing this for me. I’m the one in control.

I’ll repeat that — I’M THE ONE IN CONTROL. And here’s the thing — I always have been, I just didn’t realize it. That may sound odd. And you might be thinking, how is it that I didn’t know. But remember, this has been all new to me. Most of what I’ve done in the last few years, I had never done before. And while I’ve had plenty of help along the way, I’m the one who’s been making the decisions. Someone would tell me what they think I needed to do, and I’d say okay and do it. I trusted them to point me in the right direction, but I always made the choice to go there. Okay, sometimes I needed an extra push or two, but I’d like to think that if I didn’t want to go, I wouldn’t have gone.

I was smart enough to know I couldn’t do it alone. I was smart enough to find people to help me. And I’d like to think I’m still smart enough to know those things. But most of all, I hope I’m smart enough to remember that I’m the one in control. This whole process is up to me. It’s great having people help me and support me, and I definitely need both, but in the end, it’s all up to me.  In the end, I’m the only one I have to please, the only one I have to answer to, the only one I have to make proud.  Me and only me.

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Control – me vs. food

We all like to be in control over different aspects of our lives. There are things we can easily control, some we can control some of the time, and others that we cannot control at all. Food should be one of those things we can easily control. The problem is lately I feel like food is controlling me. And I don’t like it.

Lately I feel like I’m always wanting to eat. I’m trying to be good. I’m trying to eat healthy. But it’s hard. Harder than it should be, harder than it used to be. It’s not that I’m necessarily hungry, I just seemed to always want to eat. I don’t know why. And I’m giving in way more than I should. And I don’t know why.

I’ve been keeping a food journal for over a year. I write down everything I eat and when. And more often than not, I include the calories. I know I should always include the calories, but I don’t always know what they are so I can’t include them. If I don’t know or can’t find out the calories, I probably shouldn’t be eating it, but I do anyway. So why am I over doing it? Why am I eating more than I should? Why am I eating things I know I shouldn’t? I don’t know. I truly don’t.

I find myself reaching for snack after snack. Some of them are healthy snacks, some are not. But regardless, I shouldn’t be snacking as much as I am. I don’t know why I seem to want to eat all the time. Something is going on. I just wish I knew what it is.

Like I said, I feel like food is controlling me instead of me controlling it. I know it all has to do with this slump I’m in. The feeling that I’ve lost or at least misplaced my motivation and drive. But what I don’t know is why or how to get it back. I’m trying, though. With everything I have. I don’t want to lose this fight. Although there are times when I fear I might. I’ve been sharing my struggles with my friends. They seem to understand and are trying to help me through it. And that’s the main reason for doing it. I know I need their help.

I’m frustrated and angry with myself. I know I can do better. I know what I need to do. I know how to control my food, at least for the most part. So why am I struggling with it? Why am I letting food control me? How do I take back that control?

I don’t have the answers to those questions. At least not yet. But I’m trying. I’m not giving up. I’ll figure it out. I’ll get back to where I need to be. I just hope it’s soon.

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