State of the Union – Lessons I have learnt

LESSONS

So, I have been working at changing my lifestyle for a little over a month now, and while I don’t think I lost any weight I have learnt a few lessons along the way:

New Math

So apparently I am not as good at math as I thought, or at least fractions. If you will recall, I said about a month ago that I was going to follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to sugary treats. Well, I think my math might be just an itsy bitsy off. When I look back honestly, it seems that I have probably been a bit closer to 60/40 or 50/50. I am chalking it up to that “new math” I have heard people talk about 😉 Guess I am going to have to learn it. In all serious, I have learnt that I am not ready to try “controlled” sugar consumption, I need to just cut it out completely. However, the idea of never having another Cadbury’s Dairy Milk or Ed’s Ice Cream ever again is a little (read A LOT) overwhelming. So, instead I have decided for the month of June, one day at a time, I am going to cut sugar out completely. I think I need a little detox from daily consumption before I can test allowing myself little treats here and there. It’s not going to be easy, but I will just have to find a way to get it done.

Wheat REALLY isn’t my friend

Last Wednesday morning I found myself complaining to my Dad that I seemed to have gained weight, because the new pants I bought a month ago no longer fit. Of course being me, I wore them to work anyway. Half way through the day, I was so bloated that I had to undo the button and work like that the rest of the day. I was just really grateful that they didn’t fall down! That night, I was continuing to complain to DBF, and he asked me what I had been eating. I was honest, I hadn’t been eating really unhealthy foods, but I had been eating a few things that I wasn’t “suppose” to, mainly bagels. I had a bagel each morning Monday-Wednesdaty for breakfast, because I found myself really missing and craving bread. Seriously, giving up bread has been the hardest thing I have had to do. It was him that pointed out that I probably hadn’t gained weight, but more likely I was seriously bloated from all the wheat I had been eating. You know what, he was right! After a few days of not eating wheat again, the pants fit exactly the way they should have. As much as I like to try and pretend that I am giving up wheat “just for the hell of it”, it really is more then that. I may not have Celiac’s, but it is obvious that I do have a gluten intolerance as seen this week by the extreme bloating that came out of eating too much bread. So, back to gluten-free bread for me 😦

Befriending the enemy

One thing I have been adamant about this whole journey is not becoming a slave to the numbers on the scale. For that reason, I have been refusing to weigh myself. However, the whole wheat-gate this week has shown me that sometimes the scale might be helpful. While I still don’t want to make this journey all about how much weight I am losing, I do admit having a point of reference might be a good thing. Just knowing whether the things I am doing are helping the scale move in the right direction (ie down) would be beneficial. As someone pointed out, what if what I was doing was causing me to gain weight? That would be useful information. So, I am going to befriend the evil scale but there are going to be rules:

  • I am not allowed to weight myself more then 1x /week, but am going to try and aim for only once every 2 weeks.
  • I will not have a scale in my home, I will use the scale at the office as my point of reference
  • I will not use the numbers that I see to define how “good” or “bad” I am.

Sometimes being a little selfish is OK

For many years, I spent my life locked in a little world of self-pity, self-flagulation and selfishness. It has not been a pretty sight. One of the things I have been struggling with is letting go of the idea that all selfishness is a bad thing. It’s not. Sometimes, being a little selfish can be good. For example, realizing that it’s ok to say no to people’s requests of your time, if what you want to do instead is genuinely something beneficial for you…even if that is just spending time by yourself. One of my friends talks about the guilt that can often come with wanting to do things just for you. She says that this guilt is the ego’s way of not allowing you to take care of yourself, and I believe it’s true. If I honestly analyze the times in my life I have been “selfish”, and whether I have felt guilty or not, it is usually those times that I am wanting to do something just for me, to benefit me that I feel the most guilty about. So, that is going to be the measuring stick to help decide when I am being “healthy” vs “unhealthy” selfish. If I feel guilty about doing it, then it probably is something I am suppose to be doing to improve me.

So, there we have it, the lessons I have learnt on this journey so far. I am sure there are a few more, but those are definitely the biggies. Where do we go from here? Well, I am forging ahead a step at a time, and am going to try and incorporate these lessons as I move forward. That is the best thing about this journey, while there is a goal there is no timetable. As long as I am trying my best, and learning from my mistake and my accomplishments then I am considering it a win!

Gratitude and Passion…

gratitude

I had such an amazing few days, I had just had to share. My mind is firing on so many cylanders that I have actually became a little ADD at work yesterday.

Let me go back to an article I read last week in the Globe and Mail. The article talks about this community in VERY Northern Ontario that traditionally hasn’t had a lot of access to fresh food, specifically produce, and when they do they have to pay an arm and a leg for it ($13 for a bag of apples?!?!). An organization in Toronto, called FoodShare, has partnered with another organization to bring this community fresh produce, at reasonable prices, via truck, train and plane. It takes 3 days to get there, and the people are so excited to get it, it usually sells out in mere hours.

So, what does this have to do with me? Well, this article reminded me how grateful I need to be for what I have, for how easy it is for me to eat healthy if I really put my mind to it. I live in a community where there are plenty of groceries stores and produce markets, where I can purchase healthy, fresh and reasonably priced food. I was reminded even more when I went to the opening day of my local Farmer’s Market on Sunday. Here, I can buy direct from the farmer’s themselves ensuring even greater freshness and usually some pretty good deals. I forget that not everybody has such easy access to this. I forget how lucky I am, and how grateful I am. Without them, it would be really hard for me to make the changes I am trying to make.

Even in my own city there are large pockets of the city which are known as food deserts. Food deserts are “areas with little or no access to large grocery stores that offer fresh and affordable foods needed to maintain a healthy diet but instead often have fast food restaurants and convenience stores“. I first became aware of the concept of food deserts a few years ago, when I was living on the outside edge of my neighborhood. My neighbourhood is a fairly wealthy one, but it is bordered by an area to the west which is considered a lower income area. I realized one day, as I walked out of my apartment building, if I walked in one direction (towards the wealthy area) there was a little market store about a 10 minute walk where I could get fresh, healthy food. However, if I walked the other direction, there was only fast food and convenience stores for many, many kilometres.

Map of Toronto's food landscape

Map of Toronto’s food landscape

The other problem is even when these areas do find a way to get to a store where they can buy the “healthier” food, they can’t always afford it. It is a reality that the cost of food had increased dramatically over the last few years, yet for the most part incomes haven’t gone up. I know that I personally spend a lot of my income on food. When I was living on my own, and I had more basic living expenses to pay, I didn’t always have enough money left over for food. I know that I was lucky, I had been taught how to get creative with my money, how to spread ingredients out to get the most from them and I could shop around for the best deals. Not everyone has this ability or access, which makes it even harder for them to be able to buy the fruit and vegetables. So they just end up eating fast food because it is easier and it is cheaper.

Ok, I am going to climb down off my soapbox now. It’s funny, I do not consider myself an activist. There are however, two causes that I am passionate about. One is literacy, the other is access to healthy, reasonably priced food. I have wanted to get involved with organizations, such as FoodShare, but they generally are looking for volunteers for during the week when I am working. But all of this has inspired me to, again, try to find ways to get involved and to get more educated. I have even signed up for a few more online courses all about this, as well as other food related issues. It has triggered a passion in me. In fact, it has given me what I like to call an “Oh-Shit” moment. This is similar to an “Ah-ha” moment, but more along the lines of “oh shit, this is my real passion, this is my real purpose”. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job and I enjoy designing, but it doesn’t ignite the fire in me like this does.

One other things has come out of all this, a new appreciation and gratitude for my mother. My mother and I have a lot of baggage, and I often talk about all the things I think she did wrong, but I don’t give her enough credit for the things she did “right”. I don’t give her credit for the gifts she blessed me with.

My sister and I grew up in a home where we always had fresh, home-cooked meals. Sure, we had fast food and junk food as well, but those were treats and our main meals were usually healthy, nutritious and delicious. My mom was also exposing us to new and different foods, and while I didn’t always appreciate it then (alfalfa sprouts and falafel don’t generally go down well with 11 year olds) I am grateful for it now. Thanks to that exposure, I am usually open to tasting and trying a wide variety of foods. I may not always like them, but I am usually open to at least trying them. The exception to this is liver (well any organ meat really)…I don’t think I will EVER try liver again. The taste, the smell, the texture….BLECH!!

My mother also passed on to me the ability to cook without recipes. She would often cook by just throwing different ingredients in together and would have faith that it would all taste ok, and usually it was delicious. I find that this is how I cook as well. Like her, sometimes they don’t work out, but more often then not they do. It’s funny because I also find that the foods that she wasn’t the greatest at cooking, like roast beef (always overcooked and more then a bit leathery) are also the foods that I don’t particularly cook very well either. There were some foods, however, that she was really good at. Her vegetarian lasagna was AWESOME!! Super garlicky, spinachy and cheesy…soooo good! No matter how many times I try, I am still unable to make mine taste as good as hers ever did.

No matter how much, or little, money she had my mother always made sure we had healthy nutritional food. I know this is something she learnt from her mother, who had to feed a very large family on a ridiculously small budget. Thanks to her, I never felt hungry and I now have that same passion for food that she displayed. It is one area in my life where I often find I feel close to both her and my grandmother. When I am cooking something for the first time, and it works out, that little happy tasting dance I do is my way of thanking them for their gifts. In that moment, I feel the legacy both these women passed to me, and I get a little burst of love and gratitude.

So, you may have discovered by now what I have in the last few days – THIS is my passion, THIS  is my purpose. How to incorporate it into my life, I am not sure yet. My first instinct was to quit my  job and go back to school full time to study food security and equality. I managed to talk myself off that particular financial cliff (I am still paying of student loans from both my last forays into full-time education). Instead, I am going to continue taking online courses in my spare time, and am going to continue to look for ways to get involved on a volunteer basis. Eventually it may become something more, but for now it will be an extra-curricular pursuit.

I’m baaaaaacccckkkk!

Do not give up

A little reminder from Mark’s Daily Apple

So I have  been neglecting my blog over the last week or so for a couple of reasons.

The first reason, was I was having an issue with DBF reading these posts. While I like the fact that he was taking an interest, he was also misunderstanding the point of this blog. Part of my journey is accepting that I am not going to be perfect. That I am going to have slips and slides along the way. The important part is realizing this, catching myself before I fall too far, and getting back up again. Unfortunately, every time I mentioned something I had eaten that I wasn’t suppose to, or something that I did/didn’t do, he was taking my lack of perfection as reasons I should feel guilty. I refuse to feel guilty or beat myself up for these things, so it was causing a little bit of conflict. He has, however, agree to either stop reading, or at least stop commenting to me about it.

The other reason was, I too was giving myself grief for my lack of perfection. As I have mentioned, this is something I really struggle with. If I can’t be perfect then why bother? The idea of continually failing (or not being 100%) in front of people who are reading this (thank you all by the way, the comments and likes are pretty cool!) was really really scary. However, I know that I just need to get over it. One thing that I am realizing from all your comments has been that I am not alone in this struggle. There are a lot of us out there, and this is my way of reaching out to you all. So my “you can’t do this” brain just needs to shut the heck up!

So, the plan is to pick myself up and start all over again. I am giving myself today as a do what I like (within reason) day, as I am going to see “The Book of Mormon” tonight with DBF and we are going to a really yummy restaurant for dinner beforehand. Tomorrow, however, the journey starts again – at least the food and exercise portion. Although, to be honest, I haven’t been really bad food-wise, but I have been overindulging in chocolate and sugar. It’s not my fault! I was at a BBQ on Sunday where we had chocolate fondue for dessert, how was I suppose to turn that down?!? Ok, so nobody made me dip the peanut butter cookie in the chocolate, but tell me you wouldn’t have tried it as well? lol

Some of the other changes I have made over the last few weeks, I have been sticking to quite diligently. I have got rid of all my plastic Tupperware and water bottle, and have replaced them with glass and metal. This is because the chemicals in plastic (even if they are BPA free) can leach into whatever I am eating or drinking. The problem, for me, here is that these chemical then begin to mimic hormones in my body, and suddenly I find myself with severe Estrogen dominance. So, in order to try and minimize this, I am slowly removing toxins from my daily life. I had already switched from store-bought face wash to coconut oil/olive oil/castor oil for washing my face, as well as a laundry detergent that is lower in chemicals. This was just the next step for me.

So, I will be diligent in keeping up with my writing. I have found it really helpful in keeping me grounded, and have felt the difference this week with not writing. I also started writing a post last week about my daily supplement regimen, so I will finish that up and post it later today or tomorrow. In the mean time, I going to take the advice from Mark’s Daily Apple, and start working on these few things to help keep me motivated.

A beautiful day in the neighbourhood…

Bloomin' Daffodils!

Bloomin’ Daffodils!

Oh my goodness! It was an absolutely glorious day here in Toronto. The sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and there was a nice breeze blowing. It was, in my opinion, the perfect day. Or maybe that’s just the lack of warmth and sunshine this spring talking. Either way, I loved it!

Today was also the first day of the David Suzuki 30×30 Challenge. What’s that you ask? Well the David Suzuki Foundation is challenging us to get outside and enjoy nature for 30 minutes for 30 days in May (if you’re doing the math that means you get 1 day off lol). Since this happened to coincide with the beginning my lifestyle changes, I thought it would be a perfect thing for me to add. The challenge doesn’t specifically say that you have to exercise, just that you have to spend 30 minutes outdoors enjoying the natural wonder that surrounds you. I have decided to try and spend my 30 minutes walking, biking, or doing some kind of physical activity.

This challenge will be a great way for me to make sure I get some kind of physical activity in every day. It will also be good for me to get Vitamin D from a source that doesn’t come from a bottle.

I am also going to use it as a time for me to get spiritually grounded again. As I have mentioned, I am not a religious person but I do try to live a life based on spiritual values. For me that means living a life which allows me to feel connected to the world around me, both nature and human, and that helps my spirit (inner essence) to grow and thrive. I don’t know if that makes much sense to anyone else, but it works for me.  For me, I have always found the most profound connection when I am in nature. Whether it be the local park, or a field in the middle of nowhere, nature is where I find my grounding.

This is why I love where I live. Not only do I live in a city that has so many amazing green spaces to choose from, I am also fortunate enough to live in a neighbourhood right on the water with a beautiful beach and boardwalk. Unfortunately, I haven’t been taking advantage of this the last couple of years, since I had to put my dog down. So, I will use the David Suzuki challenge as a way to get back to enjoying that.

Alright, time for me to get some studying done. Thanks to a crazy couple of weeks at work I am two weeks behind and need to get caught up before my quiz on friday. Enjoy the beautiful weather, and Happy May Day to all!

Day 1 – It’s all about baby steps

The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. – Ann Wigmore

So day 1 of actually putting my plan in action is in the bag. For the most part, things went according to plan although there were a few bumps in the road. Here are some of the highlights/lowlights:

Workout:

My plan to get up early and have  a workout did not happen. When my alarm went off on my phone, I apparently picked up my phone, put it underneath me and went back to sleep. I know that I did this, because that is where I found it an hour later when I actually woke up. It was still early enough to do a short workout (6am), but instead I lay in bed for the next hour and played video games on my phone lol. Getting up early just wasn’t in the cards today apparently.

After work, I was feeling a little guilty about this though, so I decided to walk to my book club from work. Using google maps, I figured out it was a little over 2km. I also decided to time myself to see how long it took me (and so I could see how much exercise time I could log in my tracker). It took me a little over 1/2 hour, which means my normal walking pace is about 4km/hour. Is that fast?

Food:

For the most part I managed to eat “on plan” all day, and tracked every morsel of food that I put in my mouth. That included the two pieces I had of beef tenderloin I had at my book club. Even though I had already had dinner, they just looked too good to not try. They were small pieces though, and I still made sure I put them in my tracker on my phone.

I also had a Peanut Butter cookie from Starbucks this morning. I know, I know, I wasn’t suppose to have that…but they are so yummy. Oh well at least I put it in the tracker. Do you know those things have 480 calories?!?! YIKES! I won’t be doing that again. Once I found that out, I immediately started looking up flour-less peanut butter cookie recipes. I found a few that looked promising, so will keep you posted.

Miscellaneous:

Apparently I did not pack enough food for work today. By mid-afternoon I found myself getting very hungry and I was out of snacks. Tomorrow I will be sure to pack some more veggies and fruit for afternoon snacking.

When walking to book club I stopped just before and picked up dinner. I decided to get a Greek Burger from GBK. This place is great because instead of a bun, you can get your burger  in lettuce wraps. Sounds weird, I know, but was really good and very filling. So filling in fact, I didn’t even eat my whole burger. I ate all the lettuce and toppings and 1/2 the beef patty and realized I was full. So I did the unthinkable  – I stopped eating! I know, crazy but true. I still couldn’t bring myself to throw it away though, so I dug out a lunch tupperware container from my purse and brought it home. I figure it will make a yummy snack or nice addition to breakfast tomorrow.

When I got home tonight, my new box of organic veggies from Mama Earth Organics had arrived YAY! I love fresh veggie day 🙂 I know, I’m weird…but sometimes it’s the little things in life right? I immediately cut up and put all the veggies away so they are all ready for eating. Tomorrow I think I will add Kale to my lunch plan!

So, all in all not a perfect day, but not a bad day. I know it’s only day 1, but I am proud of myself . This journey is not about perfection, it is about making progress. I have demanded perfection from myself for far too long, and only disappointed myself. Today, I will acknowledge the things I did right and learn from the things I did not do so well (notice I did not say wrong.) Especially that peanut butter cookie…480 calories, seriously?!