Turning 25

Today is my birthday. I turned 25 today and I feel no different.

Usually on my Birthday I feel this big excitement build up to the day and then this sense of shedding and starting over for the next year of my life. No so this time around.

Enjoying time with my wonderful boyfriend on my birthday.

Enjoying time with my wonderful boyfriend on my birthday.

But it’s not a bad thing. I think instead that today feels like any other day because this past year has been one of the best and most balanced of my life.

There were most certainly some bumps along the road in the last year, but overall I felt very at ease.

Some of the things that contributed to this were:

  • I focused more on my health and fitness, and less on my appearance than I ever have in the past. I glorified in new PRs and didn’t worry so much about the scale. I enjoyed many a grassfed steak and didn’t cut off the fat. And it made me more whole and at peace with myself.
  • I moved back to Toronto where my family and best friend are… and my wonderful boyfriend moved with me. I now feel like I have a better relationship with my family, I actually see my best friend more than 3 times per year and get to spend every day with the love of my life, I don’t have to choose between time spent with any of them.
  • I actively chose to worry less about my work. I no longer put so much effort into appearing at social functions and being the social butterfly. I just did my job well, didn’t work excessive over time and when work was over, I didn’t think about it. I had a much easier time of this because I switched offices, so I didn’t have an existing pattern to try to reverse, but it was incredibly liberating. I still do an amazing job in my work, but I don’t put in so much effort to try to make everyone and their mother happy.

    Posing with my Doctor Who license plate cover with my brother.

    Posing with my Doctor Who license plate cover with my brother.

  • And more generally I just made an effort to enjoy life in an “easy” way. I didn’t go out clubbing and partying which is something that always felt hard for me, instead I went rock climbing, or for hikes, I drank wine and ate cheese, I completely vegged on the couch and watch whole seasons of Doctor Who with my sister.

This year has been the year where I finally feel like I figured out what makes me happy and what makes me feel whole. And it’s funny because it’s what I have always said it is, I just finally actively pursued those things. Health, fitness, family, friends and most importantly love.

So this coming year, before I turn 26, I want to make sure I have an even better year, and I have some goals and plans to make it one.

  1. Make a change in my career: I actually (finally) really like my job and the role I have, but it’s time for a change and the chance for new successes. This might be as small as looking for opportunities in another line of service, or a big change in moving to a new job.
  2. Be more compassionate to those I love: I tend to be hardest on those closest to me, probably because I am so hard on myself. But it’s something that I know I need to be more cognizant of and I am going to actively try to be more empathetic and not as quick to get frustrated.

    Some evidence of the "more moderate approach.

    Some evidence of the “more moderate” approach.

  3. Be more consistent with my fitness in the “off-season”: while I’m really happy with my progress in the past year, I know that in the few months after my show last October I really swung too far the other way because I was burnt out. This year, I have tried a more moderate approach and hope to maintain a more consistent training regime and diet throughout the year so I can…
  4. Compete in a figure competition and win!: I am trying my hand at a figure competition in just 6 short weeks, but my goal for this one is to just do my best, I would love to place, but it’s not actively my goal. That is for the next competition!
  5. Go on a super relaxing vacation: This year my boyfriend and I vacationed in california, 5 days were spent doing super intense hiking and the rest of the trip, while amazing, was crazy busy. This year I want to go and have a laid back trip, or at least part of a trip that is relaxing… I’ll probably get bored after 2 days on the beach and start trying to seek out adventures 😉

Thank you to everyone who has made this last year so special including all of the wonderful people I have “met” through blogging. You are the most amazing, supportive and creative group of people and I feel privileged to be part of this community.

Here’s hoping for another year like this one!

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Post birthday effects

Well my birthday weekend was amazing! It was fun-filled and not very healthy. I believe in moderation and treating yourself reasonably… but when it’s your birthday it’s hard to apply even a little bit of moderation. This was my weekend:

Bailey’s was my favourite until I discovered Coureur des Bois, it’s maple flavoured Irish cream liqueur!

Friday: Bowling with friends – sounds innocuous, but of course there was drinking. Nothing too bad, a couple Bailey’s and some spiced rum and diet coke (a favourite combination of mine). I was good with eating all through the day and even had a big salad for dinner. But come 11:30 I was starving and wanted nachos… because nachos are the best. These particular ones were smothered in cheese and I ate probably more than my fair share.

Saturday: This was my boyfriend’s day with me to himself. We attempted to make these diet pancakes, but they were sticking to the pan like crazy until with switched to butter instead of coconut oil. That seemed to work better. Then I got surprised with going to see War Horse, which was super sad, followed by dinner at Brassaii. I had Oysters to start, Bison Tenderloin with a wine reduction sauce, fingerling potatoes, broccolini and king oyster mushrooms as my main and a chai pot de cream for dessert. The Dessert was nothing spectacular, but the rest of the meal was to die for! The bison had a bone marrow crust that gave it the perfect amount of saltiness, cooked to perfection and oh so tender! We then went to the Sheepdogs’ concert and met up with my family. Such a wonderful day, and not that unreasonable as far as the diet goes.

Happy Birthday to meat!

I also got the meat that I ordered from Brooker’s delivered Saturday morning… happy birthday to me!

Sunday: This was the kicker. It started out with some gluten-free French Toast made with what is left of the loaf from this post, accompanied with some pasture raised peameal bacon, so that was good. Then we went to Ikea and picked up a wardrobe for our new apartment which was my birthday present/housewarming gift from my wonderful parents. Then out to Bowmanville for apple picking! I love apple picking, it’s such a very fall thing to do, and they had Honey Crisp apples which are my absolute favourite… they are huge and sweeter than most apples. Back to my parents house with my uncle’s family and my Grandma for an absolute feast of guacamole, steak, corn on the cob, roasted sweet potatoes, grilled veggies and some wonderful red wines including Amarone. For dessert, as always, I requested Angel Food cake… this is not gluten-free, but it is my favourite all time dessert, airy and sweet and moist. My Grandma’s been making this since the 1940’s and my Mom uses the same amazing recipe. I think I ate half a cake and lo and behold, I had a major stomach ache because of it. I don’t recommend huge doses of gluten even on your birthday, if you are sensitive to gluten, but it was heavenly (pun intended).

So that brings us to today. I am a little less than 6 weeks out from my competition and have just had a majorly unhealthy weekend which has upped my weight by about 4 pounds (yes, this is mostly water). Should I feel guilty? I don’t think so, it was my birthday, and I indulged more than I ought to, but that’s life. So what should I do about it?

Well for starters, I am getting right back into eating clean. I am lowering my carbs a lot this week as I ate a lot of carbs over the weekend. Today, I am fasting until I feel properly hunger, I woke up still absolutely stuffed from last night, so I just took my vitamins, Bio K (probiotic), and had some water. I am writing this with a coffee in hand and still am not in the least bit hungry at 10 am; considering I usually eat at 7am this is unusual. If you look at my Tips and Tricks you will see I never recommend skipping meals to make up for overindulging. Feeling guilty about eating will make you resentful and you will probably enjoy those indulgences less. But fasting can be useful if it is not tied to guilt.

I have been doing some research on different fasting protocols, and I’m not entirely convinced it’s a lifestyle I want, there are some definite benefits. A major reason I am fasting today is because of the amount of gluten I ingested over the weekend. My organs are actually in pain (not exaggerating) because I was basically giving them poison. Fasting can be very therapeutic and cleansing in a case like this where you have just taxed your digestive system. Giving it a break from processing anything, even good food, allows it to deal with all the crap you just fed it and reset. Then when your next meal is full of nutrients, your body will be ready to handle them and will process it much more effectively.

If you want to learn more about different fasting protocols there are lots of websites out there, but I found the Precision Nutrition summary to be particularly well researched and informative. An important thing to mention if you are going to try intermittent fasting is that nutrient timing around exercise to still very important. Typically, people following a fasting protocol will exercise either fasted, or with a small meal before exercise near the end of the fast, followed by a large meal right after the exercise. This limits muscle wasting and makes the best use of calories in that magical hour after exercise where your body processes food like a machine.

So to summarize:

  • birthdays are for indulging and I did;
  • feeling guilty about food is bad and leads to problems down the road;
  • gluten is evil and makes my stomach hurt when it should be enjoying angel food cake afterglow;
  • fasting can be beneficial for getting rid of evil gluten and helping to get your body back on track if you don’t link it to emotions.

That’s all for today folks!