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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Getting used to morning workouts and WIAW

So I’m terrible at remembering to take pictures of the food I eat on Tuesdays. Yesterday was a little odd and I was super (like extra super) hungry and ended up “snacking” aka mowing down on like half  bag of tostitos and delicious salsa. Really not the most horrible of cheats since (1) they are gluten-free and (2) it was probably still only like 500 calories and I had a few calories to play with since I aiming for between 1800 and 2000 cals per day. Nonetheless a sweet potato would probably have been the better option.

So no pictures for What I Ate Wednesday, but this is the breakdown anyways:

Breakfast (pre-workout) – 1/2 c. non fat greek yogurt, 1/2 c. raspberries and 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds all mixed up

PWO snack – Chocolate protein shake mixed with a doppio espresso (seriously love this… like a cold mocha after a workout) plus 2 rice cakes and a tbsp of peanut butter… I followed this up with my 1 oz of pecan that was supposed to be for the afternoon because I was starving for some reason

Protein mocha yumminess

Protein mocha yumminess

Lunch – 6 oz of organic pork chop and 1 cup snap peas sauteed in butter

Afternoon Snack – 1 measly orange because I already ate my pecans 😦

Dinner – A small chicken leg (thigh and drumstick) with skin on and 1 cup broccoli

TV snack – 3-4 servings of tostitos with amount 1/2 c of salsa

And even with the TV snacking terribleness I came to:

Calories – 2117              Carbs – 162                  Fats – 93               Protein – 162

I woke up this morning and my arms looked so puffy from the late night carbs. Apparently I was a little depleted!

Speaking of mornings… I’ve been keeping up with my morning workouts for 2 weeks now and I think my body is finally adjusting. Today was the first morning I had energy, and boy did I need it! I did this workout with my best friend and both of us had shaky knees by the end… and because gym people are smart (not) they put all the leg equipment on the 3rd floor… genius!

Morning Leg Workout

All exercises were done with 3 sets and 8-12 reps

5 minute warm up on the treadmill

– Jumping squats (to get that CNS firing and further warm up)

– Squat and press with an olympic bar braced in a corner and a 45 pound plate (this is actually the first time I’ve done these and I loved them, really gets the whole body, even calves, involved)

Olympic Bar Squat and Press - Strength Exercise - Step 2

– Narrow stance squats – 115 lbs, 135 lbs, and 165 lbs!

– Straight leg deadlifts – 135 lbs, 155lbs and 155lbs (my lower back was not feeling great so I listened to my body and so should you)

– Hamstring curl machine – 90 lbs for all sets

– Hamstring curls with a stability ball

– Hip thrusters – 80 pound dumbbell

– Crunches on a stability balls – 15 reps for each set

Have a great Wednesday!

Bad days and the universe

This morning started out terribly, I mean truly terribly, but it actually started last night. I was going to go to the gym after work to do cardio, but just could not muster the energy. I decided to just rest instead. I watched Armageddon, cried when Bruce Willis died and went for a walk to pick up my bikini for the competition. The bottoms were too small so I decided to order another one that I thought would fit better. A too small bottom is not ok to walk on stage with.

All day long I had been starving, you know when you want to take food by the handful and shove it in your face? I was like that. Popcorn would have been ideal. But I thought, no, I’ll make some protein sludge. And then I will have dinner. Both were delicious, neither satisfied the hungry beast inside me.

Still craving sugar

I had a square of dark chocolate to try to have a treat and see if that helped… nope.

I went for the walk to grab the bikini and take my mind of things. When I got back I tried the suit on and thought that would give me motivation to eat well. Nope.

It was 8:30 pm and I NEEDED sugar. I can’t even describe to you the ridiculous craving I was having and I could not for the life of me figure out why. I tried having a small apple with cinnamon, that usually does the trick if it’s really carbs I want and it’s not too bad for the diet. But no, not 15 minutes later I was still dying for some sugar. What the hell?!

So I caved. 3 and a half weeks from the competition and I stood in front of my pantry dipping raw almonds into raw chocolate honey (this is amazing stuff, it’s pure honey mixed with dutch process cocoa). Chocolate honey dripped all over my fingers and I did not care a smidge. I was in heaven. I scarfed about 10 almonds, and maybe 2-3 tbsp of the sweet stuff before I got control and put the lid on the jar. What just happened?!

I texted my boyfriend who is amazing and told me to just enjoy the treat because I’ve been working out like a maniac and I deserved it. He’s the best. Surprisingly I felt way better after this mini sugar binge (I wouldn’t call it a real binge because there wasn’t a huge volume of food and the food I was eating was actually clean good food, just not diet friendly). I was expecting to feel a horrible sugar rush and crash, but no, I felt great. Great, but extremely confused. I never crave sugar… like literally never. I crave chocolate, ice cream, steak, and sometimes Bailey’s but not just generic-any-way-I-can-get-it sugar.

So I went to bed confused and wondering what was happening in my body. I resolved to do some extra cardio today to make up for the extra sugar and calories yesterday. I woke up early and went to the gym. I felt like crap when I woke up…. I was craving sugar AGAIN!!! What is happening? And then it hit me… about a week ago I reintroduced fat burners (thermogenics) into my regime (m-power by rivalus) which really help increase my heart rate and body temp especially during cardio. I had gone on them before and went off them because they bothered my stomach and some other vague reason I couldn’t remember. Well I have remembered…. they make me ravenous and specifically crave sweets. It makes dieting go from relatively easy to absolute hell and a constant battle of will over want.

So I am throwing them out, these expensive diet pills. It will take a day or 2 to fully get it out of my system and I’m annoyed at myself for forgetting this in the first place, but thankfully I did remember and didn’t try to struggle through.

So I got to the gym with my new realization and intended to bang out some cardio, but oh wait! I forgot my headphones… good lord this morning was awful. I stepped on the treadmill and started going. I got to 6 minutes… and my will power fled. Ok let’s try some chest, which is the body part I planned on training this afternoon. I did 3 sets of dips and 3 sets of push ups on the bosu ball and decided that I would try to make this a whole body cardio workout. I find it easier to push through a weight session than cardio.

So I did this: The terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day workout

  • 5 minute warm up
  • 3 sets of 12 dips
  • 3 sets of 15 pushups on upside down bosu ball
  • 5 sets of 15 kettlebell swings
  • 5 sets of 10 cross body cable pulls each side
  • 2 sets of 20 jumping step ups
  • 1 tabata of alternating jumping step up and push ups
  • 3 sets of 10 roman chair straight leg lifts
  • Stretch for 10 minutes

I was sweating bullets and by the end of it was feeling a little better. I started talking to a trainer who told me about a couple workouts I should try and gave me a bit of motivation. He even offered to do a workout with me tonight! Apparently the universe had a different plan for me today.

Sometimes you have to listen to what the universe is telling you. Today it was telling me to do things the old fashioned way, no magic pill is going to help and it will probably (definitely) make things harder. Once I came to that realization and committed to changing it the universe rewarded me with a new opportunity to train.

You are not a dog!

Dogs get trained and rewarded with food, they looooove food, it is the best possible thing that you can use to reinforce good behaviour. You, however, are not a dog! What’s more, if you are on a diet, the worst possible thing you could do is reward your self with food. Think about it logically:

“OMG I am so awesome, I have worked my butt of in the gym and have stuck to my diet for 3 whole days! I deserve a chocolate bar!”

Really? I hope you can see why that doesn’t make sense. If you are trying to stop a kid from biting other children, you don’t reward them by letting them bite again… so why do we do this with food?

Junk food, or splurge food should not be seen as a reward, because you are training yourself to associate successful weight loss or fitness goals with unhealthy food. Instead try to reward yourself in a healthy way that doesn’t relate to food. My go to reward/pick-me-up is a mani-pedi. If I am succeeding and I’ve reached a goal I go out and get one, at the end of it I feel even prettier than I did before, plus I haven’t thought about food for at least an hour. Sometimes I’ll even use these rewards to curb a craving or cheat . If I’m feeling discouraged; for instance the scale hasn’t budged and I’m thinking what’s the point of depriving myself, might as well eat some chocolate (this may have happened last night and I now have beautifully manicured hands and feet and a guilt-free conscience)… I go for a walk, or go to the movies or some other activity. Just do something non-food related.

I am in no way saying that you shouldn’t splurge sometimes, just that it shouldn’t be related to your diet either negatively or positively. Cheat meals can really help a diet, but they should be less of a reward, and more a normal part of life. If you have a special event on a thursday but you would normally splurge on sunday, just mix it up. It’s not bad, it’s just life. Your diet should be manageable in the long term and if you are constantly looking for the next time you can have what you want, it’s not going to last.

So here are some ideas for rewards that are not related to food for smaller achievements:

  • mani-pedi or some sort of spa treatment
  • going to the movies
  • buying a new book/movie
  • having a long relaxing bath
  • go to a theme park

and for bigger achievements:

  • purchase that camera/phone/random gadget you’ve been eyeing
  • buy a new outfit (especially if your size has changed… this is so rewarding)
  • get a new hairdo for the new you
  • go on a vacation somewhere you can wear a swimsuit
  • spend an hour looking at your abs Think about your next goal and plan for it

Food is delicious and you should enjoy it, it’s all about how you think about what you are eating. If you make food a reward it becomes emotional and that can lead to disaster. I hope I’ve given you some idea/justifications for treating yourself.