New Year, new you

How i created HEALTHY HABITS to get fit last year!

I posted earlier about how I don’t do New Years Resolutions, because I then feel motivated only by obligation and prematurely set up for failure. How many times have you resolved to eat well and exercise every day, only to slip back into old habits by February? We all do it.

did you resolve to GET FIT and BE HEALTHY this year?

Focus on those words, FIT & HEALTHY, because this should be your goal. Not thinness, not an exact number on the scale, or total inches lost, what comes first is your health, physically and mentally.

love your body

You need to be getting active for the right reasons! Make gradual lifestyle changes to better yourself, rather than crash dieting to lose those last pounds, the most important thing is to start your fitness journey for YOU, not based on someone else’s expectation of beauty.

First, banish negative thinking. You are not too fat, ugly, stupid or lazy to do this. You deserve love, but don’t try to lose weight to get a boyfriend (or keep one), try to lose weight to love yourself and appreciate your body. When you love yourself- when you have passion and hobbies and interests that keep you from looking for them, that’s when you find the person you’re meant to be with. When the negative voices in your head tell you that you aren’t good enough and fills you with doubts don’t listen- get up and prove them wrong!

Rather than comparing yourself to photo-shopped print models, find REAL WOMEN TO INSPIRE YOU…

Do you have a friend who has fitness goals as well? Team up, everything is easier with a second voice to motivate! Make sure to find an exercise regime that you are comfortable with, maybe you want to get out of the house or meet people, sign up for a class- yoga, rock climbing, pole dancing? Anything you can dream of, why not try? Or get a gym membership if you are the type who is motivated enough to actually go to the gym. Personally I’m an introvert when it comes to sweating, I prefer to do so in private- the swimming pool is the only public exercise place I dare to venture, and only because I am yet to build my own personal pool.. someday.. in the meantime, I work out at home using the world wide web for inspiration! For amazing fitness inspiration and food ideas I love Taralynn McNitts Blog, for workout ideas my absolute all time favourite is Cassey Ho at Blogilates! I follow a few other fitness blogs for inspiration and often buy the magazine (or at least check the website) Women’s Health, which is an absolute gold mine of information. Its kinda like Cosmo, if Cosmo had actual useful advice, rather than the same sex tips month after month.

Getting fit doesn’t have to be expensive!

In fact, you should be able to get fit essentially for free, provided you have a few basics. My at home fitness kit includes: 8 lb soft kettle ball, dumbbells in 5, 10 and 15lb increments (20 lbs when I borrow my little brothers!), a jump rope, exercise ball, and a yoga mat.

I’ve always considered myself relatively fit and active, but around this time last year I began to really realize that I had let myself slip. The stress and hopelessness I felt in my relationship had me sitting on the couch pounding back chocolate cake wondering why my boyfriend loved World of Warcraft more than me. I wasn’t in a healthy place mentally, I felt disgusting all the time, tired, out of breath and the repeated rejection I faced in my relationship had me feeling unattractive and unworthy. I hadn’t been to the pool in months, I could barely will myself to do anything other than work. I felt hopeless, overwhelmed, exhausted and didn’t even know where to start.  When I started feeling out of breath climbing to our third floor apartment, I realized that I needed to stop living in denial, and make a change for the better. When our parents (my ex boyfriends and mine) decided to send us on a trip for Christmas last year, it was the kick I needed to finally got my butt in motion!

First I got back to swimming…

for me, swimming is therapy, it always has been. It forces you to be aware and in control of your entire body, regulate your breathing and the rush of the water drowns out any of those overwhelming thoughts in your head. Its proven to be one of the very best exercises you can do. If you don’t know how to swim, don’t wait to learn- or try something like aquazsize, a low impact cardio workout that tones using the natural resistance and buoyancy of the water.

Next I added in Pilates and Yoga. I really lump these into one as I do poses or moves from both in any given session. Super power your yoga poses by holding light weights as you move through a series. Focus on form and doing slow but correct reps, not speeding sloppily though the workout. You’ll only be cheating yourself. If you have never tried it before, sign up for a class to learn the basics, then you can easily create a custom routine to do at home. I learned using Stott Pilates dvds that I got in my Special K box about ten years ago, I still have them, and they still work! Buying a workout DVD (or downloading it) is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to get fit, provided you use it regularly. Like I said, Blogilates has awesome FREE workout videos, bookmark it and then try not to cry the first time you try one!

Finally I used short cardio (jumping jacks, jump rope or running on the spot) combined with weight and resistance training to tone and shed pounds. By alternating between high energy cardio bursts, and slow reps with the weights you boost your metabolism, build muscle and burn fat. Do overhead tricep extentions with weights as you do squats (for perfect squat form check out another favourite fitness blogger of mine!), or bicep curls as you do lunges- anything to add extra weight to movement based exercises. Adding extra weight to ordinary exercises makes them more challenging and increases the rewards!

then: ~JANUARY 2012

now: JANUARY 2013

after

I lost 25 lbs in 6 months by forming HEALTHY HABITS

I formed these habits over a span of months, rather than trying to force a restrictive diet or strict regime upon myself. I focused on just getting better and being at peace with my body, not losing weight, and the pounds melted off. When I broke my pelvis in July, I recovered several weeks ahead of schedule- I attribute that early recovery entirely to physical activity, primarily swimming. Ten days after I broke it I was in the pool doing modified water workouts, a month after, I was doing yoga again. What was supposed to take a minimum of 6-8 weeks to recover from, took me just under 5 weeks. You might notice a slight indent on my left thigh, this bruise is all that remains of my injury (6 months later) everything else is 100% back to normal. The bruise doesn’t even hurt, but I believe the muscle was so damaged by the impact that it will likely be years (if ever) before it fully heals, a minor price to pay for my mobility as far as I’m concerned. The time spend bedridden felt unbearable, I had just started realizing how strong my body was when suddenly it was broken! But lying there, with my leg muscles deteriorating before my eyes, only made me more determined to get back up and regain that strength as soon as I could.

When I first started I would do a workout video one day, and go swimming another.

For the first few weeks I pushed myself to maintain at least 2 workouts a week. At first I had to force myself but my workouts got easier, I added more steps, increased weights, went running occasionally (through with my bad knees I couldn’t keep it up), rather than walk up the stairs on my way home, I started to run them. I noticed my energy start to increase, my mood improved and I just physically and mentally felt better! I started to notice that if I went a few days without working out, I would go back to feeling depressed an apathetic. Once I realized that, whenever I started on that negative thought pattern I’m so prone to, I would get up from whatever I was doing (usually TV or the computer, as I find those to be my biggest negativity triggers) and work out instead. It didn’t even have to be much.. 15 minutes of yoga was enough to calm my mind and re-energize my body.

At that same time I was also having digestive issues, with symptoms similar to Celiac Disease, although not triggered by gluten. I was tested for multiple possibilities and nothing came back. After years of problems, I finally realized the only real change in my diet (I never had any problems before moving out) was that I was no longer eating the organic meats my family raises on the farm, but instead most of my meals were store bought and prepackaged. By slowly removing and reintroducing foods, I found what the doctors couldn’t, that it was meat making me sick. I switched to only eating organic farm raised meat (bet you thought I was gonna say vegetarian- HAH, not for me) and cut out all the high sodium processed foods I loved like Sidekicks and Icheban. I started making almost all my food from scratch, because I realized it was the preservatives, antibiotics and god knows what else in the prepackaged foods that were wreaking havoc on my intestines. Switching to farm meat was easy for me, since I know people.. but even still, it required I shift my eating habits in order to get enough protein; avocado, eggs, beans, lentils and nuts are my favorite alternate sources.

Even before I switched to organic, I was eating relatively healthy. I have always adhered to intuitive eating, and rejected the idea of dieting in any form. I am not someone who does well with “You can’t!” because my immediate reaction is “oh yeah, watch me!” so rigid diets that don’t allow “bad” foods (or really any restrictive diet at all) makes me want to binge based partly on spite and partly because I sit and focus on how much I want what I can’t have! Instead of dieting, I eat a healthy base diet filled with whole grains, organic meat, lots of fruits and vegetables, and allow myself to indulge my sweet tooth. I pay close attention to portioning, which I believe is a huge factor in obesity in North America thanks to portions 2-3 times the recommended size being served in many restaurants. I eat lots of little snacks through out the day, usually in some form of chocolate because I am an addict.

Other than being a legit Chocoholic, my eating habits are generally healthy (and its been argued by some that chocolate is healthy so HAH!) I don’t drink pop, if I drink juice, I generally dilute it with water. Sweet drinks are a HUGE factor in obesity, and are just terrible for your health. If you are drinking pop on a daily basis, do yourself a favor and stop, you’ll lose weight guaranteed. A huge part of being healthy is being hydrated, so make sure to drink lots and lots of water- at least 2-4 liters a day. Water re-hydrates your system and flushes out sodium and toxins, minimizing bloat. Nothing replaces water- if you don’t like the taste, slice up a lemon and add that in for additional benefits.

Whatever excuses you are making for not exercising, STOP! THERE IS NO EXCUSE, and no one but you has the POWER TO MAKE A POSITIVE CHANGE!

After - pilates, yoga, swimmingA typical dry land workout for me is about a half hour, maybe 45 minutes on an ambitious day. I move through a variety of Pilates and yoga poses, with circuits focusing on the core, legs and arms, interspersed with bursts of cardio and weight training. I posted a variation of my usual workout here.

At the pool I swim for about an hour. This includes light yoga in the steam room to warm up and stretch out, and at least 15 minutes of treading water, using different kicks and alternating hands in and out of the water. The basic kicks in swimming are flutterwhipdolphineggbeaterscissor. Generally I do a minute set of each; 30 seconds with hands, 30 seconds no hands, then switch kicks and repeat all 5 kick circuits without stopping twice. Once warmed up, I do laps in 50 meter sets, alternating generally between my preferred strokes; freestyle and breaststroke, but occasionally doing either backstroke or the most difficult of all- butterfly! Because of my swim club background, I often mix strokes and kicks into drills- for example breaststroke arms with a dolphin kick. Dolphin kick is one of the absolute best core work outs you can find, but butterfly is such a difficult stroke that most people never get the benefits, by modifying it you get the benefits, without looking and feeling like a drowning victim.

Lately I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit. In the summer I was exercising 4 or 5 times a week, now its down to 1 or 2 times! Something about summer and being able to go outside makes SUCH a difference in my motivation, in winter I just want to hibernate under my blankies and cuddle Cedric. I’ve also been a lot more busy with school and work. To sneak in fitness where I can I do things like run the stairs during breaks in class, do 10 squats every time I go to the bathroom, and even just walk at a brisk pace wherever I go. The smallest things add up to make big changes. If you get in the habit of doing things you feel are simple, its more likely that you will continue to do them, and then seek out more challenges.

i know i could probably lose another TEN POUNDS…

if I decided dieting was worth it (I literally eat cake almost every day… it just keeps me sane okay) or if I wanted to push my training routine. But I’m not now, and never have been a size zero… and that’s okay!  What matters is that I feel better than ever before, and feeling great is the first step to looking great. Remember:

XO, A

I want to thank my personal motivators, who are always there to support and motivate me whenever I need them! Amazon girls- I love you, stay strong always!

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13 thoughts on “New Year, new you

  1. This is great motivation to put out there for alot of women! I have just put out my fitness section on my blog earlier this week. I was tired of hearing how I am skinny because it comes natural to me or if anyone wants to be skinny they have to stop eating what they enjoy. Being Healthy and Fit requires a balance which people understand when educated about it properly! Hopefully you and I can help motivate and educate people so they look in the right direction instead of the wrong one 🙂 Living a life full of choices is more tempting then a life full of diet and restrictions!
    Loved Reading your journey 🙂

    http://www.chiclycute.com

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read it and for your lovely comment! It was a difficult decision to hit publish, but I decided to do so just to hopefully inspire other girls to go after their fitness goals in a healthy way! Feedback from you guys makes it all worth the slight embarrassment of bikini pictures out there for all to see!

      • Aww sweetie you look great..and to be honest you weren’t even that big a year ago! But I have been explaining to people it is not what size or weight you are..its how healthy you are and you hit the nail right on the head with your post. It takes alot of guts to hit publish but am sure you would smile every single time you hear some girl somewhere got motivation after reading your post 🙂

  2. I really loved reading about your story! You’re an inspiration to me ❤

    Lately I've really been missing being fit and healthy and all the benefits that came with it. I miss working out and the way I felt after each sweat sesh!

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