What the scale didn’t tell you

It’s been a little while since there’s been anything fitness or weight related on this blog, and while I’m still dedicated to making this place about more than just my physical health, I do think it’s still important to check in every now and then, especially when I have new lessons to share.

This week while visiting a friend I noticed a pesky scale sitting in the corner of the bathroom. I was able to avoid this scale on my first trip in but later on when changing out of my bathing suit I found myself too tempted to resist. I mentally prepared myself, reminding myself that that number doesn’t really matter, and then I stepped on. I was pleasantly surprised by the number on the scale but also simultaneously reminded that weight isn’t everything.

I’ve lost just under ten pounds since the last time I weighed myself in March. I realize that this doesn’t sound like a whole lot of anything in six months, especially with common declarations from weight loss programs shouting about losing 50 pounds or more in the same period of time or much less. But for me, this was just a reminder about why I did away with the scale anyway. I may have only lost nine pounds in six months but so much more has changed and that is simply not reflected in that number.

From reading journeys from others, I know I’m not the only one who has non-scale related victories to think about. I do know that a lot of the time the weight focused nature of diet culture can make us forget those non-scale triumphs and changes. In fact, often the scale does not fully reflect everything we’re seeing in ourselves so it’s important to remember it is not the defining factor in your journey, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s helpful to remember the other ways exercise and a healthy life style affect you and your body. With that in mind, I thought I would take a moment to talk about some of the things that number on the scale doesn’t measure.

Physical health

Whether you measure this by an actual assessment by your family doctor or just by your own personal observations, your physical health improving is a great way to justify all that hard work you’re putting in. For myself, losing weight and being active has allowed me to climb stairs without as much difficulty and it has helped with body pains that I have always carried in my heavier areas. Additionally, this whole journey is preventative for myself as Type 2 Diabetes runs in my family. Reflecting on how your journey has improved your health, as well as prevented further disease or illness, is a great way to recognize and celebrate your hard work and progress.

Strength

Related to physical health but still slightly different in my opinion are the changes you will see in your own strength. From lasting a bit longer on the treadmill to lifting heavier at the gym, any sort of improvements you see in physical fitness are reminders of all the changes your making.

It can be really useful to have a certain workout goal in mind in order to track the changes. I know a lot of people who are getting into running so they track how long they can continuously run. Others I know have committed themselves to yoga and have seen themselves master certain poses as they’ve become more flexible. For myself it has been about getting through certain workouts that challenge me with fewer and fewer breaks. Whatever it is, seeing yourself improve throughout this journey is a great way to remind yourself to keep pushing.

Comments from others

It may seem a little vain, but when others comment on changes in your looks it can really help bolster your motivation and your dedication to this journey. Plus, vanity doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It can take people a while to notice a difference, and others just won’t say anything, but hearing compliments every now and then can make you more inclined to compliment yourself as well. Others seeing changes may just help you see changes you’ve been missing this whole time.

Little comments here and there can be really great for your self esteem and they can act as little unexpected rewards. This is why I always encourage people to tell the person if they think they’re looking good in a certain picture or when they see them. Everyone can benefit from a nice comment or two, no matter what shape they’re in. We’re all beautiful and we deserve to be reminded of that, especially if we’re struggling to remind ourselves.

Clothing sizes

As I always like to remind everyone: women’s clothing sizes are bullshit. Yes, you generally have your average size which is your go to to try on in a store but that doesn’t mean we don’t waste so much time going back to the rack to try a different size for a better fit. Still, if you’re like me and shop at the same three or four stores, there can often be a bit more consistency (but not total consistency) so seeing your clothing size drop is something that is still possible. For me, dropping almost ten pounds seemed like a much bigger change when I realized I’ve dropped two pants sizes with that loss.

How clothing fits

The way your clothing fits and even the cuts you’re wearing can be even more useful than the actual size on the tag. Slipping into old clothes that hadn’t fit for a while or even having to go buy something new can be really empowering, especially if you start to feel comfortable in new styles that you didn’t dare try before. For me, it was all about the high-waisted pants with a tucked in shirt. This was a look I always envied but since I wear most of my weight in my tummy, I just couldn’t get comfortable with it. I saw girls my size and bigger pull of this look flawlessly so it wasn’t about not being thin enough to wear it, it was simply a comfort zone issue for myself.

In trying to be more body positive I’ve come to accept that you have to give yourself time to get out of your head. Just because other girls are comfortable looking fabulous in a crop top or a two-piece bathing suit does not mean you have to dress that way. But if it’s something you want, your journey may just help you get there with both mind and body. I always thought I would need a flat stomach to start wearing anything high waisted but here I am, still a lot of fabulous flab in my midsection and my head is finally in the place I needed it to be to try this look.

On that note: don’t be afraid to try new looks as you go through this journey, you’ll find that sometimes the things you were too afraid to try before become something you’ll wear all the time.

Body composition

Last but certainly not least is the fact that that little bathroom scale tells you nothing but a number. It can’t show you where you’ve toned or how much muscle you’ve gained in respective to the fat you’ve lost.

This is where progress pictures come in or even just regular pictures. Since change happens slowly it can be really hard to see your progress in a mirror. You’re seeing your body change little by little but it can often feel like nothing. Taking progress pictures a month or two apart can show you the bigger shifts and seeing those changes can be really inspirational. You can look at different areas that are changing at a faster rate. For me it started in my face and in my arms, then I saw it in my legs, and finally I noticed my mid section begin to change.

Those are just some of the ways you can look for changes outside of the scale. No one thing can really define your journey, just as there is no single magic solution to make the journey easier. Look for your victories in places outside of a number and try and take stock of them altogether. Maybe you only lost one pound this week but you now fit into an old pair of jeans, one should not negate the celebration of the other.

What non-scale victories do you use to track your progress? Let me know in the comments below!

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Lessons from a Shopping Bag

Today, a moment of growth came from a plastic bag full of snack foods and hair dye.

It’s a strange place to find real life character development and yet as I sat down on my couch with my freshly purchased goods I realized I didn’t feel guilty about them at all. I wasn’t worried that I was falling back into old habits where anything and everything was fair game, I just knew that today was not a day to worry about my diet. I had bigger things going on.

It’s easy for me to become obsessed with the efforts I’ve made to change my lifestyle. I spend hours upon hours looking at weight loss blogs, scrolling through workout videos, and planning meals. I put a lot of effort into trying to be healthier and dropping another pant size. There are progress photos, meal preps, step counting, and a whole bunch of other things that eat up time and energy. Some days I’m on top of everything and others I struggle. I used to make myself feel really bad about those off days but I’m starting to learn that my version of a healthy lifestyle doesn’t always include food logs, sweaty sports bras, or even a proper portion of vegetables. Part of this lifestyle is allowing myself those days when I’m not so concerned, knowing well that I’ll get back on track tomorrow.

Recently, I had the privilege of reading a post from one of the bloggers I follow that really got me thinking. The lovely Sara of Truly Sara talked a little bit about why she doesn’t like the phrase “Cheat Meal” (you can read the post here). While I’ve often used “Cheat Meal” or “Cheat Day” on my social media as a catch all for those days when I’m not counting calories or tracking ‘points’, I do really agree with what Sara had to say. The phrase can often make us feel bad about the food choices we have made, and we can often feel like a failure just because of what we put into our bodies.

I started thinking about this post again today as I finished off a ten pack of nuggets and half… okay, two thirds of a McDouble from McDonalds. Today was not a day I had planned to indulge; in fact there was healthy food in the fridge already made and ready but it just didn’t happen. Today was a rough one for me both physically and mentally; things were going on in my life that I needed comfort for and I found that comfort in food.

Do I unhealthily use food as a coping mechanism sometimes? Yes, I do but it’s not the end of the world and that’s the lesson I took home with me today, along with a plastic bag full of goods.

What I’ve come to understand to be important is to remember that I am in control. Just because I had a bad day today and decided to make it better by eating McDonalds and getting junk food for the evening does not mean I’m suddenly a failure. In fact, I haven’t even done anything wrong. I acknowledged that my feelings were negative, and I knew that tonight the food would help with that. Today that was worth it, other days it won’t be so I won’t make the same call. I won’t do this every time I have a bad day and that’s the triumph in it. I believe it to be a lesson worth sharing.

So much of life is about balance, and everyone’s balance is different. It can be difficult to do but finding your balance rather than basing your life on someone else’s can be incredibly empowering. Whether you call them cheat days, indulgences, or just don’t worry about the labels, you don’t have to feel bad about making those choices. If it made you happy, even for a short period of time, that’s what truly matters; not the size of your jeans, the calories you counted, or anything else. Your happiness is worth more than all of that combined.

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Fitness Friday – Don’t Forget Your Own Lessons

We’ve taken to watching Bill Nye Saves the World on Netflix recently and one particular episode titled “This Diet is Bananas” had a panel discussion that really got me thinking about how I’m tackling this lifestyle change, as well as how I’m dealing with the physical exhaustion and the lack of motivation that I’ve been feeling lately.  The fact is, despite my positivity about moving forward I have been slacking a bit lately and while I’d say I’ve not fallen off the wagon, I’m definitely hanging off the edge.

On the panel the psychologist and the fitness coach had a bit of a disagreement about motivation; particularly about whether or not it was enough for people to change their bodies in a way that they want. The psychologist’s view was that motivation and will power do not last and while we can put our energy into these things, the fact is that even if we resist the bowl of M&M’s for a few minutes, hours or even days, eventually we’re going to put our hands into the bowl and undo everything our will power had done. This view is quite defeatist and suggests there is only so much we can change about our bodies since a large portion of weight (they suggest 70 some percent) comes from genetics and how you were raised.

The fitness coach on the other hand suggested that it is her motivation that gets her up every morning to work her ass off in the gym so she can maintain the way she looks (which was amazing by the way) and that doing that lets her know that sometimes she can give in and have a few M&Ms without undoing her progress.

The big part of me that wants to change my body sides with the fitness coach of course, because the other side very much leaves me with no chance of ever seeing the major changes I want to. But I do believe there is a lesson in what the psychologist says, and it’s something that I’m quick to remind other people of but still seem forget myself and that is that motivation is not a constant.

I don’t know about all of you, but I do not wake up every day pumped to work out and totally excited to be drenched in sweat. Many days it would be easier to lay in bed, to eat whatever you want, and to not worry about what you’re doing with your body. But other days we count every calorie, we put our all into a HIIT routine, and we truly do take care of ourselves. Some days you will feel ready to conquer the world and some days you will wish you could get off of it. That’s normal and I think it’s important to remember that.

I’m six months into this journey and I will admit I am really struggling right now. I’m finding it harder to meal plan and even more difficult to peel myself off the couch for a workout. Juggling my jobs has made me tired all the time and so it’s hard to find motivation to exhaust myself further when I’d really just like to take a nap. But rather than give up I’ve decided it’s time to relearn some of the lessons that helped me push through the hard parts in the beginning. Those lessons have brought me here to a place where I dropped a pant size and my clothes fit better over all. Sticking with these lessons has allowed me to become stronger and to see changes in my body that I didn’t know were possible. I believe these lessons can help me keep going if I just take the time to remember them. Maybe this will be a good reminder for some of you who are struggling as well, or it could even be a starting place for those who are about to jump in.

While I’ve learned many lessons over the past six months, there are three that really came to mind when writing this post:

Stay hydrated and be mindful of what you eat – I really believe that slacking off on my water intake has played a big part in why I’ve expired in the middle of workouts that I used to blast through. That, combined with the lack of tracking I’ve done with my food has meant my diet has not been as good which could be playing into my sluggishness. I had got to the point where I was doing fine without tracking but then I started to slip up so I think it’s time to go back to writing everything down to help myself stay accountable. Old habits of eating everything and anything can be a lot harder to break than you ever imagine but I find writing things down or tracking things through an app has always made it a bit easier to stay on track.

(This is not an advertisement for VOSS: that’s tap water, I just like the bottle)

One bad day doesn’t have to be a bad week – This is the lesson I definitely forgot this month. I missed a couple of workouts and then I more or less said “what’s the point?”. It was silly of me and I’m definitely paying for it.The same issue came up with eating where one slip up would turn into a week of bad habits. I’ve just got to remember that reaching into that bowl of M&Ms doesn’t mean I’ve failed, I just have to make sure I’m not doing it every single day. While I’m not about to lose all of my progress or anything, I have noticed certain workouts that I was doing regularly before take a bit more effort. I’ve got to train myself back up to the point where I was and then keep pushing. It’s why I’ve made a July calendar that is a little more balanced with light beginner workouts and some more challenging ones: all of which I have tried before.

Work yourself up to the harder challenges – I personally think this is why my June workout calendar failed. Some of the workouts (particularly the Fitness Blender Boot Camp) were too far past my comfort zone. It’s good to challenge yourself, to push past your limits a little bit so you’ll change but you don’t want to jump too far. I’ve said this about walking and of course it applied to workouts too. Choose a difficultly that makes you work but doesn’t make you want to vomit or pass out. I’ve made a new calendar for July that goes a bit easier on me and also lets me workout with Matt (on the days with the hearts) I’m hoping this will allow both of us to work up to some harder workouts again.

(Calendar template from The Girl Creative)

I’ve learned many more lessons over the past six months but these are the three that I’m really focusing on now that we’re into month seven. These are the things that I think will help me push through. We learn a lot in our lives but I think sometimes we forget to go back and review the material. We might have a vague memory of the lesson but if we’re not reminding ourselves of it after some time it may fade away. Take time to think about the things you’ve learned. It doesn’t have to be health or weight loss focused, it could be about anything really. It’s important to remind ourselves of the valuable lessons we’ve been taught, they’re what make our lives better.

If you’re struggling with something, anything at all, don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself and take it slow. Even if you have to take a few steps back before you can move forward that’s okay. You are a work of art, one that no one could ever dream of recreating. Treat yourself well.

 

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Tasty Tuesday – I Never Thought I’d Say This But…

I missed eating healthy.

It’s something I never thought would really run through my mind because I love food and I enjoy indulging whenever I can. However, after a weekend of eating nothing but crap (delicious crap but still crap) I woke up Monday morning relieved that I would be getting back to my regular breakfast of fruit and cottage cheese… with a side of exam cramming.

Back to the real world of healthy eating and study sessions today.

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What brought on this unusual thinking was the little road trip down to Niagara Falls we took this weekend for some cross-border shopping and a little bit of an adventure for my dad’s birthday. It was rainy all weekend but we still made the most of it and had a lot of fun. We also ate out a lot. Friday night we stopped in to my old university haunt in St Catharines for pizza and wings, Saturday mom and I ran to the farmer’s market to get our fill of our favourite samosas from Bea Gonfa for breakfast while lunch was at The Cheesecake Factory and dinner was at The Keg.

Despite the fact that it was an entire weekend of eating out, I still think I conquered. I handled things a lot better than I would have previously where I would have just continued to eat until I was basically ill. I consider this a triumph, even if it was an entirely healthy weekend. I applied new strategies and since they worked out so well I thought I would share.

So here are some things I did to manage through a full weekend of eating out:

Choosing to be healthy for part of the day – This was mainly relevant for Friday where I ate very light meals for breakfast and lunch, only taking in about 500 calories between the two meals. I stocked up on fruits and veggies and nibbled (okay, munched) on some jerky in the car ride to remain full until our late dinner of pizza and wings.

Sharing most of the food I ate – Mom and I planned to do this well before we were actually on the trip. From the pizza and wings on Friday to actually splitting a full order of prime rib from the Keg we helped each other cut down a bit by splitting things. We also shared our piece of cheesecake for dessert which was a must-do since it was more than my usual calorie intake for a whole day! It was delicious though.

Ordering small plates – In addition to sharing, I tried to make sure I wasn’t ordering too much. This was easy at breakfast on Sunday morning where it was an all-you-can-eat buffet and I managed to keep myself to one plate that I didn’t even finish. It also worked well at The Cheesecake Factory where mom and I shared appetizers instead of getting a full meal. In the end, we even shared the delicious cheese and chicken stuffed fingers with the whole table so I didn’t consume quite as much as I would have had I ordered a full meal with sides.

Quitting once I was full, not once the plate was cleared – This is a lesson I’ve been trying to learn for a long time but it really goes against more longterm lessons of not wasting food that have been instilled in me. I hate throwing food out but the fact is that most restaurant portions, especially in the United States, are way too big. You just don’t need all that food. With that in mind there was actually only one meal where I ate everything that was given to me and that was my split meal at the keg (half a baked potato, half a salad, and half a prime rib). When it came to pizza I stopped after two slices and reluctantly gave away the others to Matt, I did the same with some of my Buffalo Blasts, and mom and I didn’t even finish our slice of cheesecake. To be fair, I think they cut the slices way too big and they’re way too rich to actually finish but still, we didn’t shovel it down just because it was there. Lastly, that all-you-can-eat breakfast I mentioned involved one loaded plate but in the end I think I left one third of it untouched.

Indulging in skinny options – I really only did this once but I still think it’s a good strategy to keep in mind. The Cheesecake Factory has a skinnylicious menu which involves items with lower calorie counts including appetizers, meals, desserts, and drinks. Mom ordered the crab bites off this menu and I ordered a skinny long island iced tea. These were still items that we would consider indulgences but they weren’t quite as bad as other things on the menu.

Only eating when I was hungry – This one came into play on Sunday when we ventured to Niagara-on-the-Lake which has a beautiful little downtown full of shops. Many jokes about the Shaw vs. the Stratford festival were made (you can read about my mishap here if you haven’t already) and the sun finally came out to let us enjoy a little waltz around the block. There are a number of shops with delicious treats but after breakfast at the hotel I just wasn’t hungry. Mom offered to buy me a tart or something but I turned it down, there just wasn’t any reason to be stuffing my face. Instead, I just enjoyed the view.

So there we are, six points on how to make the most out of eating out a little more than you would like. I really enjoyed the food that I had this weekend for the most part but my body was definitely suffering. I felt weighted down, bloated, and a little lethargic. On Monday I jumped right back into my regular healthy eating, went out for a walk in the sunshine and I’m already feeling much better. Perhaps this is the first sign that these changes I’ve been making are actually going to stick.

(Sorry this is a day late, I know it’s not Tuesday anymore but between my exam and a night out at the theatre I completely forgot to post this. Just pretend we’ve hopped in the Tardis and went back a day)

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My Slim Down Reward

While reevaluating my fitness performance this week, I have begun to think abut things outside of myself that might motivate me once more. I know I need to get back to where I really want this more than anything but to get there I think I need to take small steps, using those outside forces to drag me back. I looked over my past Fitness Friday post on what motivates me and I decided to focus on my point about cute clothing.

Now, I already have a piece of clothing that is my first goal to get back into. The pale pink dress I wore to my university graduation is something I just fit into when I bought it. The waist is pretty small, even for a size 14, and I remember sitting at the ceremony eager for the moment I would be zipped out of the thing. Still, I love that dress and I’m desperate to get to wear it again. I’ve almost gotten to the point where it will zip up once more but it’s definitely still uncomfortable and the light fabric is not flattering when you’re bulged in there. I’m on my way though, and I’m hoping in the next month or two I’ll be sporting it around town with my favourite pair of oxfords.

While the pink dress is a good first goal, it’s not really long term. It’s something I hope will push me to the next step on my journey but it definitely won’t be the end. I’ve never really been thin or even average, not since I was a child, so I don’t have any articles of clothing that I can really use as a success piece. With all this in mind, I knew I had to look outside of my closet to find clothing motivation and over the past few days I have made my decision.

I recently have begun to get very interested in the pin-up style community by seeing a friend I met during my brief employment at Walt Disney World get into it herself. She and her friends have the most gorgeous collections of pin-up clothing and I have major closet envy. You can check out her blog here if you’re interested; I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. She’s on a hiatus right now but you can always scroll through her old posts.

This initial look into the pin-up world sent me looking for other bloggers and the community at large. While I’m still struggling to find my starting place, I know this style of fashion is something I’d like to get into. I’ve always been interested in vintage clothing and a lot of the styles are similar to what I already like to wear. This brings me to the article of clothing I’ve decided is going to be the reward for my big slim down. It’s a custom made skirt by a lovely designer who goes by Vintage Inspired by Jackie.

Jackie creates the most beautiful vintage inspired skirts and dresses that I’ve ever seen. Much of her products are Disney inspired which is one of the things that really drew me into her stuff. I’ve seen her dresses on all shapes and sizes now and they always look gorgeous. I could very well order one right this instant and I’m sure I’d feel like heaven in it but I’ve decided I want to save this one for my big accomplishment.

I found Jackie through Lady Damfino, one of the vintage fashion bloggers I found along my travels. If you’re into Disney you’ve got to check her out because her vintage Disney creations are some of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen. She also looks stunning in Jackie’s dresses as you can see below.

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To make matters even more exciting, Jackie just teamed up with Brian Rechenmacher, an artist I stumbled on last week due to his Disney collections. His Walt’s In The Park set is on my bucket list as it’s quite possible one of the cutest artworks with Walt I’ve ever seen.

Now, one of Brian’s custom fabric designs is now going to be on Jackie’s skirts and dresses, and of course it features one of my all time favourite Disney rides: The Haunted Mansion. This was a match that was just made for me.


I’m hopeful that this fabric will still be available by the time I’m ready to buy my first skirt but if not I’m sure there will be something in her store that catches my eye. Honestly, right now I kind of want them all.

The hard part was deciding how I would know it was time to buy the skirt. I’m still not weighing myself and with my muscle gains I’m not sure it would be the best reflection of the changes in my body. I’m reluctant to use when I’m happy with how I look because it’s so subjective and I’m honestly hoping to get there well before I reach any final goal since it’s more of a self-confidence thing than a body fat thing. I’ve decided to go with a measure that isn’t the greatest but will give me a certain goal to work towards: clothing size.

Before you jump on me about this, let me tell you that I’m going into this with the knowledge that women’s clothing sizes are completely bogus and not based on any sort of standard. I have jeans from Old Navy where the 16 fits but the 18 is too tight. I know it is flawed but it’s the only concrete thing I have to work with so I have decided that my goal post is to be able to zip up and feel comfortable in a size 10 in Tommy Hilfiger pants. I picked Tommy because I have three different pairs of pants that are all a size 14 that fit me about the same (aka a little too tightly).

On another note, I’ve never been a size 10 and I’m not sure what that will look like on me, whether it’ll be enough or if I’ll still be on the bigger size given my weight distribution and my height. There may still be more progress to go from there but for me it’s about seeing a size that I never have before so that’s why I picked it.

What kind of rewards have you set up for yourself now or in the past? Do you find they helped motivate you on the difficult days? As always, I love reading your stories and taking in your advice so even if this is your first time reading, don’t be shy!

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Fitness Friday – Re-eval·u·ate

“reevaluate – to consider again especially with the possibility of change or reversal” – Merriam Webster

Stagnation. Defeat. Failure.

I could have titled this post any of those words but I believe starting from that point would have made this post come out in a very different tone, and that tone would have been very negative. Those words would be suggesting that I’m not enough, that I’m not doing enough, and that I’m failing. I don’t believe I am. I’m just struggling with where I am at this point, and that is okay.

From my understanding, this happens to almost everyone embarking on a big lifestyle change. It is hard to change how you do things, especially if you’ve been doing things a certain way your whole life. The enthusiasm and the drive that exists in the beginning can fade with time, and that’s sort of where I’m at. For two whole months I did not struggle getting five workouts in a week. Some weeks I even managed six. But now I dread the moment in the morning where I should be changing into my gear and throwing a video up on my computer. It doesn’t matter what workout I put on, I don’t want to do it.

Rather than wait until the end of the month to tell you all that I had failed my HIIT goal once again, I figured there had to be a more useful and progressive way to work with this speed bump. I’d failed my goal already in the first week, only getting in one HIIT workout instead of two. This past Monday I tried to power through but ended up cutting the video short at the halfway point. I could have kept going, I know that, but I didn’t. So I decided to reevaluate. I decided to step back from myself and ask why I wasn’t making progress on this goal. Here’s what I came up with:

Are the workouts I’m choosing too long?

Definitely not. HIIT workouts are the shortest workouts I’ve ever tackled and yet I’m still struggling getting through them. I made it through all over 7 minutes before turning off the video on Monday so length is definitely not an issue. I’ve worked through a lot longer.

Am I eating / drinking enough before my workout?

Probably not. Some days I just ate a piece of fruit before I worked out and for the most part I could feel that my stomach needed more. I tried to ignore it but clearly that didn’t work. I also used to make sure I drank at least 750ml of water well before I got into my workout and I’ve been slacking on that as well. Lack of proper nutrition could explain why I’ve been expiring quicker.

Resolution: Plan ahead. I’m going to figure out what I’m eating pre and post workout every day so I’m not skipping any meals. I’m also not going to work out until at least one of my water bottles is in my system.

Are the workouts I’m choosing too hard?

Tricky question. For the most part, no, I can handle the workouts, even if they have me breathing heavy. However, there are some moves within HIIT that I haven’t really worked myself up to. Jumping still causes me a lot of pain and it wears me out really quickly. I’ve noticed that it is the videos that don’t have lower impact or beginner modifications are typically the ones I quit out of.

Resolution: Find videos with low impact modifications or learn them beforehand. There’s no shame in switching to the easier moves since they’ll help me work up to the bigger ones. All that matters is that I’m still moving.

Why am I not motivated?

Here’s the hardest question of them all. Why are things different now than they were a month or two ago? I think the main reason has to do with the fact that I haven’t seen much progress lately. My personal progress pictures from March and February look almost identical to me. My clothes are still fitting the same way, and I’m not feeling any better overall. It’s hard to stay motivated when all my hard work isn’t paying off, at least not in a way that is visible. Of course, I know if I give up now I’m never going to see any changes.

Resolution: Start treating workouts and meal plans (since I’ve been slacking here too) more like a meeting or a date. I’m going to block out a certain time of day for workouts to get them done with or without motivation. If I can’t power through a video I will put a different one on. I have to hit the thirty minute mark no matter what, even if that takes 3 minutes of 10 different videos.

Overall, I still like the idea of doing HIIT, and I’ll probably continue to do some of the videos I’ve found with the low impact modifications, but at this current point in my journey I’m not so sure it’s the right type of workout for me to do so frequently. And that’s okay. I’ll get there. For now, I have to continue trying new things and finding the ones that motivate me to keep going.

Old Goal
: Complete two HIIT workouts a week.

Revised Goal: Complete Fitness Blender’s “Intense HIIT Cardio Kickboxing and Upper Body Strength Workout” once per week.

Since I don’t want to cut out HIIT altogether I figured I’d pick a workout that I can get through. The video above was the workout I did on the first week of the month, I got through the whole thing and then went for a 30 minute swim afterwards. If I can do the same once every week this month I will be happy. I already knocked this week’s out yesterday so things are looking good. Hopefully working towards (and eventually accomplishing) this revised goal will help me motivate myself again and push forward over this bump in the road.

Don’t forget that a speed bump is not a full on roadblock. You can get over it, with time and practice. It may stop you for a while but you can power through. Take the time to step back and reevaluate things from the outside. Ask yourself questions like I did and adjust your plan and your goals as needed. This type of journey is rarely linear, you may fall behind before you move ahead again. It’s okay. Be gentle with yourself and just keep going.

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Fitness Friday – Walking a Different Path

I want to be completely honest here, even though I’ve remained positive and hopeful in my posting, my life hasn’t exactly reflected that on a day to day basis. It’s been a rough few weeks and my progress has definitely slowed. I could tell I wasn’t doing as well with my eating and some days I was hardly putting any effort into my workouts at all. Then, this past Sunday I tried 3 different videos before I finally crashed and gave up.

There were a couple reasons for this sudden spiral but overall I was feeling overwhelmed in my personal life, unaccomplished in my new job search, and just not so happy in general. Not to mention, PMS can be a real bitch and hit at all the wrong times. My hormones being out of whack only added to the misery I was already feeling. I felt defeated and to be honest I didn’t want to even bother trying again because every time I did try I just felt flat on my face. It’s hard to get back up from those moments, it often feels like it would just be easier to lay in bed and cry. Truth be told, I did do that for a while.

Then I got the hell back up.

There is one thing I know for certain: you can make yourself do just about anything, even if you hate it, even if you don’t want to. If it’s something you need but it doesn’t come naturally then you’re going to have to force yourself sometimes. I have to remember this going forward. I’m getting better at working out and some days I really enjoy it but it still isn’t something that comes naturally to me. Cooking? Writing? Binge watching tv shows in one sitting? Those things I can do without much effort. Working out isn’t like that and it might never be but I have to keep trying. I have to make this time different and continue working for this change. I want it now more than ever before and that has to mean something.

So instead of laying in bed crying about my situation I got back up. I gave myself some time, did some other things, and then I did five Fitness Marshall videos. Normally I would do eleven but since I was having an off day I decided to just dance until I didn’t feel like it anymore. Five videos is still over 15 minutes so it was a good start. It wasn’t great but it was something.

The next morning I got up and looked for a workout to do, hoping to get it out of the way. Then I realized I still wasn’t entirely motivated so I decided to switch things up. I’m glad I did because it helped me realize I’ve hit a bit of a wall. Despite doing different videos, I’ve almost exclusively been working out with The Fitness Blender for over a month now. While their videos are great and varied, I think I’ve gotten a little bored. So it was time to mix things up. My mom mentione that she was going to go for a walk so I decided to do the same, chatting with her on the phone to make it go by faster.

An hour and forty five minutes later and we both got home.

We walked over 7 kilometres each according to our phones and while I didn’t come home dripping in sweat like I would have through a much shorter workout I still felt accomplished. Plus, getting out into the fresh air (even if it was a little foggy and bleak) definitely helped my mental state.

So I pushed forward into the rest of the week, deciding I was going to walk for at least an hour on my workout days instead of unhappily pushing myself through workouts while I’m in this funk. I’ll get back to doing something more than walking eventually of course but these walks have been my stepping stones towards that. It definitely helped that my mom was in town Tuesday and Wednesday; on those two days we walked 14,000 and 17,000 steps respectively. We also saw some neat places in Toronto that I’ll be talking about in my Sunday post. For now, here’s a preview of one of the places we ended up: Graffiti Alley.

     

While walking might not make me sweat my ass off like a HIIT workout does, it is still a good way to get up and moving, especially when walking as much as I have over the past few days. I may have jumped into some of those big step counts a little too quickly but my 16 hour days at Walt Disney World have prepared me well for walking off my feet so to speak.

All activity has its own worth and you just have to do what works best for you. But I think the real lesson I’ve taken from this one is that sometimes it is important to not be so hard on yourself.

I hope your weeks have all been going well, I hope you’re making strides to whatever goal you’re working for but if you’re like me and you feel like you’re taking a step back, I just want to leave you with a little piece of wisdom I read at the One of a Kind Show:

“Don’t look back, that’s not where you’re going.”

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Tasty Tuesday – Ham & Egg Roll Ups

I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’m not a big fan of eggs but unfortunately eggs are one of those great sources of protein that are pretty easy to work with and of course they’re a lot cheaper than most meats. Now, I love me some devilled eggs and dipping toast into the yolk of a freshly fried egg is absolute heaven but aside from that I’ve really struggled with this ingredient. Still, it pops up in interesting recipes a lot so I’ve mostly learned to get over my indifference and I’ve found ways to make eggs work for me. Today’s Tasty Tuesday is a feature of one of those Casandra-friendly egg recipes: Ham & Egg Roll Ups.

This is another Facebook video recipe that I watched upon scrolling down my dash and just like last time I did a Facebook recipe (Apple Stuffed Pork Loin featured here) I completely lost track of the video and kind of had to make these based on memory, making up my own recipe to go along with what I had in the fridge. So that is what I’m going to share with you!

Ingredients

  • 1 package of sliced ham
  • shredded cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • spinach
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • salt, pepper, and whatever seasoning tickles your fancy

*I made these back in January so I’m not exactly sure on quantities

Directions

The first thing you’ll want to do is scramble your eggs. You can use a little bit of milk to make them extra fluffy but since I had none on hand I just went with it. After the eggs had cooked up a little bit I threw two handfuls of spinach on top to cook down with the eggs. Season as preferred. While the eggs were cooking I preheated the oven to 375, chopped up my bell pepper and shredded a little bit of cheese just to move the process along quicker.

Once the eggs are cooked take 1 or 2 slices of ham (depending on the thickness of the cut) and lay them out. Place two spoonfuls of the scrambled eggs and spinach onto one side of the ham in a line, leaving a bit of an edge to use for rolling. Sprinkled a bit of cheese and throw some of the chopped bell peppers in and then roll away. Place the roll up into a small pan and then continue the process until you run out of ham or eggs.

With the roll ups squished together in a pan they’re ready for the oven! Throw them in and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve!

These little roll ups are of course low-carb and high-protein which is what most of my recipes tend to be. You could pair these with some chopped up vegetables or a fresh salad and you’d have a complete meal. We had these for breakfast and since my breakfasts tend to be smaller I didn’t worry about adding sides. This was a quick recipe and while I haven’t yet made it again I definitely would. If you decide to try it let me know what you think!

What have you been making this week? Feel free to share any recipes in the comments below!

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Fitness Friday – What Motivates Me

As I mentioned in this week’s Tasty Tuesday post, last week was a rough one for me. I fell off of my good habits for a couple of days and it really dragged me down. In general I find it pretty easy to bounce back after a day away from working out or a single cheat meal but several days off made things a lot trickier. With this in mind, as I continued to struggle through my workouts this week, I wanted to reflect on what is keeping me going. Sure, slimming down and getting healthy are the obvious goals but what is actually motivating me to keep going?

“The difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is that little extra.” – Jimmy Johnson

It would be easy to just write that I want to be skinny for the first time since puberty hit but if that was the only reason I would not still be pushing through after three months. I’ve tried to lost weight before with the sole motivation of being skinnier and it has never worked. This time I’ve had to look past that, not to mention I’ve had to come to accept that I may never be skinny (whatever that means these days) but I can be a whole lot healthier and I can learn to love my body a whole lot more.

My motivations this time around really range and I will admit some of them are shallow while others are more meaningful. I think having both is important and realistic, by acknowledging your goals and motivations, no matter what they are, you can really empower yourself to keep going. Some days the external motivations are what I need to get me through the way, and the rest of the time it’s those bigger internal ones that keep me powering through. With that in mind, lets begin.

#1. Feeling Strong – When I was going to the gym last time around I gained a lot of confidence from seeing the amount of weight I could handle increase as the weeks went on. There were some machines where Matt and I were nearly evenly matched and that gave me a huge confidence boost. While I might not be able to track strength quite so easily by working out at home I can feel my body getting stronger. I can do certain strength moves (like pushups) that I couldn’t before, I can handle a HIIT workout without feeling sick or dizzy, and I am becoming much more flexible. All of this is empowering because I feel stronger and I know that that can only increase with more training. It’s the thought that I’m going to get better if I keep going that motivates me to complete those five workouts a week.

#2. Cute (and cheap) Clothing – I have been an XL or a 1XL for as long as I can remember. While sizing is inconsistent and ridiculous in general, being at the top end of most stores has always made shopping difficult and unenjoyable. There’s also the issue that plus sized clothing usually doesn’t do me any favours either because I’m short and most pieces end up being big and long. It’s a real shame too because in the past few years I’ve really grown into my style and become more comfortable in clothing that isn’t just a graphic t-shirt and jeans (still love those though). Slimming down will give me more options in terms of where I can shop and what I can fit into. When losing weight before I tried on new cuts of dresses that I never thought I’d feel comfortable in and was surprised by how good I felt. Being able to update my wardrobe at the end of this all is definitely something that keeps me going. And yes, I am also motivated by the hope that I’ll eventually feel comfortable in a bikini or crop top. Can bigger girls rock these? Of course! It’s funny that I know that and truly support that in others but I just haven’t gained enough body positivity and confidence to be there myself. I truly envy those who have.

#3. My Health – My family doesn’t exactly have the healthiest history and knowing that being overweight has played into that is something that motivates me to make this change for myself. I’m really not a big fan of being a patient and I’m petrified of needles so the more I can avoid these things, the better. Not to mention, working out and eating better improves my daily health and well being. I feel less exhausted, my back and muscles hurt less (except after one hell of a workout) and overall I just feel a lot better. This one motivates me in a unique way: I’m usually reminded of it after I’ve not stayed on track for a bit because I start to feel rough again. I don’t like feeling that way so it motivates me to jump back in and to work hard again.

#3. My Parents – Motivation from my parents comes in two ways: their encouragement and their own success. The support I receive from my parents when struggling with a certain meal plan or a workout usually kicks me in the ass to keep trying, even when it is difficult. They are great reminders that change isn’t going to come overnight and that I just have to keep pushing. My mom remarks on how great I’m looking every time she sees me and even though she’s my mom and she’s supposed to say these things it still empowers me. Secondly, my parents joining Planet Fitness and heading to the gym all the time has kept me on track with my own workouts. If they can go to the gym for an hour or so after working 6 days a week, I can get off my couch and do a home workout.

#7. Food – May as well admit it, the promise of being able to have a treat or a cheat meal is something that gets me through plates of veggies and some sweaty 30 minute workouts. I’ve learned to love a lot of healthier foods but I still love chocolate more than anyone I know, and trying new restaurants usually involves not eating so great. Food is one of those motivations and rewards that could definitely work against me but in careful moderation it’s something that empowers me to keep going.

#6. The Success of Others – Whether it’s my parents, my friends, or those of you who are on journeys yourselves and blogging about it, I have found that this is the motivator that sticks out this time around. On previous attempts to lose weight I have let myself be discouraged by the success of those around me, feeling like I wasn’t losing as much or looking as good. The last time around everyone remarked on how much weight my mom lost (and he deserved that recognition because she kicked ass) and no one ever noticed that there were changes in me as well. I was frustrated and it made it feel like it wasn’t worth it. But my mindset has changed and now when I see others succeeding I see it as a reminder that I can get there too. Everyone is on their own timeline and knowing that has helped keep me on track.

I am finding new motivations almost every day, most are small and are just becoming part of every day life but others have really given me the push I needed to stick with it, even when change is so slow.

What motivates you? Is there something in particular that keeps you focused on your goals? Feel free to share in the comments below! They don’t have to be weight loss related, it could be about something else all entirely. Whatever it is, I hope you stay motivated and stick with it. We can do anything we set our minds to, we just have to keep focused!

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Fitness Friday – So I Went to the Gym

But Casandra, you don’t have a gym membership and you said you weren’t getting one! Isn’t the gym in your building opening soon? What happened to just doing workout videos from home? I know, I know, but before we jump ahead, I should say that I didn’t join a gym, I just went to one. My mom has a membership at Planet Fitness and since I went home for a couple days I decided to join her as a guest. A couple eye opening things about my journey came about because of this venture so I decided I may as well share them with you.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, my last big weight loss journey involved joining a gym for the first time ever and I stuck with it for almost ten months so this is hardly a new experience for me. I wasn’t nervous about going into the gym aside from wondering whether or not I would be able to navigate the machines just as well as before. In all honesty, this was just a way to hang out with my mom while still making sure I got my workouts in for the week but in the process I learnt a couple things:

#1. I can still run without dying! The first thing we did was get on the treadmill. I haven’t been on one since this time last year so I started off slow, walking at a brisk pace and just chit chatting. After getting warmed up I decided to test myself. I upped the speed until I had to jog to keep up. I managed to make it through two minutes straight on 4.5 before I went back to speed walking at 3. I gave myself a few more minutes and tried it again. Still didn’t die. The next day when we went back I did four minutes on 5.0 followed by a lofty one minute run on 5.5. I starting hacking up a lung a little bit (still not fully well) but I made it. This might not seem like long for those of you who jog for fitness but to me it’s a big deal. I still remember the day I did 10 minutes straight running on the treadmill, it was a huge accomplishment for the girl who couldn’t do track and field day without feeling like she was going to die.

#2. I’m still strong! The only real reason I miss the gym is because of all the strength machines. I know I can get a good strength workout in with body weight but for me the machines really made me feel strong. I was determined to get an upper body workout in since I would finally have access to more than four pound weights so that was where my focus was the first day. I was surprised to find I can still move a lot of weight albeit being out of practice. I struggled the most with triceps but biceps, shoulders, and chest were fine. A laughable moment was trying to move the weight my dad (he’s an ex-football player) moves on a chest row (170 pounds): I managed to move the weight once but they had to drop it by over 100 pounds. He’s crazy.

#3. I’m under 200 pounds! Right in the change room there is one of those dreaded medical office scales and while I’ve made the pact not to track my weight (you can read why here) I decided to get on it just to see where we’re at. Neither mom nor I are any good at really using them but I’m somewhere around 195 pounds. It’s definitely not a weight I’m proud to be sharing but I know it means I’ve shed some major pounds in the last three months which is nice to learn.

Bonus: My mom is amazing. When I went to the gym last year there was no talking my mom into coming, even though I thought it would be good for her. This time she didn’t have me around and she signed herself up. I’ve been impressed to hear she’s been going so much and to see her there myself was awesome, even if I think she likes the funky water massage loungers more than the actual gym part.

Are you keeping up with your workouts? I’ve been struggling a little bit but I love to read what you guys are all up to, it keeps me motivated to keep going. Post a link in the comment if you like and I’ll be sure to give you a read!

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