Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Bucket List: Kayaking

Just wanted to update you on my awesome last weekend, before I have another epic weekend to blog about. Another item to check off the bucket list for the summer, kayaking. But before I did that I had to get my long run in. Christa, John and I ran 12K and changed it up by doing 10 & 1s, basically 10 minutes of running then 1 minute of power walking. We did the 12K in 1:19 which I was super impressed with, right on track for my 1/2 marathon training. Then it was a quick breakfast at Starbucks and on to face my fear.

Here is John and I just before we enter the kayaks. I may look happy but i'm masking some serious fear. I've been scared for a long time to go kayaking, but have really wanted to try it. I can swim, and i'm confident in the water, but am freaked out by open water. I hate not knowing what is beneath me!! Yah yah I know, just fish and plants right? Well not what my head is telling me in the moment - I've seen those movies! So basically I have been really scared of flipping over in the kayak and thought that I was just too big to do it. I've been in canoes and gotten so scared and had panic attacks. I've been in canoes with people who tell me that it's just unstable because i'm overweight, so it's that whole connection between holding onto that feeling that I am "different" and because of that it scares me.

Nicki, her husband Brian and son Gavin joined us for our adventure. They made it fun and well honestly not as stressful of an experience than I had imagined. Even though I was still out there in the water having internal freak outs about flipping.

We rented a double kayak from Ocean River Sports on store street. I have to say all the staff were amazing and they guys helping us with the kayaks made me feel at ease by explaining everything. We took our two boats out to the gorge and back. The price was really reasonable and I would definitely do it again.

We finished off out lovely morning with lunch at Canoe Club including some delicious fish tacos. The boys ordered all the "bad" food of coarse :P.

John and I went downtown after and walked around to check out all the buskers who were in town for the buskers festival. I think I got way too much sun, and was so tired, but my day was not over. We had tickets to see Rob Schneider at 9PM that night. I think he was funny?? well I can only gather that from the laughter I heard while I drifted in and out of sleep in the theatre, well I was listening to my body at least! 12K run + 1.5hr Kayak + 3 hours of walking = lots and lots of sun. I had a great sleep that night!!

So now only 1 more day of work then I get a weekend again which will include another run, a couple BBQs, Zip lining and Bootcamp.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Changing Beliefs

Having a weight issue my whole life I have grown up with a deep routed belief of not feeling good enough. I have been heavier more years than I have been in shape. Sometimes I still feel like i'm 360lbs, but i'm overcoming it. Sometimes I feel like the same person I was three years ago. Logically I know I am smaller, I can see the pictures, I know my clothes are all smaller, but in my head I feel like I am the same person. I think it's important to be honest with myself and ask myself how do I really see myself? What do I believe? What do I think?

*I am pretty, but I don't feel beautiful
*I am physically strong, but I don't feel emotionally strong
*I am driven & successful, but I could do better
*I am scared of sharing the real me because I don't want to be rejected

I recognize that I still have work to do on myself to become a more confident person and conquer my weight. I don't want my weight issue to define who I am for the rest of my life. I want to get to a place where I feel just as beautiful as the hot girl - you know the one(s) i'm talking about. I want to get to a place where I am stronger, where I am more capable of expressing my feelings without breaking down in tears, I want to feel emotionally strong. I want to feel that I have been successful, which seems funny to even say because obviously I've been successful, I've lost 175lbs. I don't wan't food to control my life. I want to be proud of who I am and be confident to shout it to the world.

Here's what I know...There is only one person who can control your future - you. This means that I have to do the work, no one else, I have to work hard every day to overcome these beliefs and achieve what I want. I know I can, because I know that from where I started my beliefs have changed dramatically. When I started I didn't even believe I could get this far, let alone believe that I was pretty, successful or strong. I'm a work in progress and i'm okay with that. I'm also okay with the fact that I won't change these beliefs overnight, they have been embedded in my being for the last 20 years of my life. This emotional type of work is harder for me than the physical work required to lose weight but it is a necessary part of the weight loss journey.

Right now I am focusing on trying to share myself with others, show people who I really am even though it scares me to death. It scares me that people may not like what they see/hear and reject me. I'm scared to be alone. I am overcoming this fear though every day by being open with others, expanding my horizons and taking chances. Every time I take a leap of faith I realize it's not as scary as I thought it was. Every time I express my feelings and the recipient does not reject me, I gain confidence. Every time I take a step in the right direction I get stronger and that much closer to being the person I want to be.

Time to reflect..think about one belief you have about yourself that you want to change, what are you doing to change this? What are you going to commit to yourself to do today to work on this? There are only seven days in a week—and someday isn’t one of them so make the choice today to make the change. Choose to make you # 1, choose to be happy.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I was derailed this week

This last week has been really tough, I've made it to all my workouts but have been so incredibly emotional that this is even hard for me to write about. It's hard because I feel like I failed this week. I went from losing 7 lbs in one week to gaining it all back, that's embarrassing. I know all the things that i'm supposed to tell myself, like this is a journey and look how far I've come, but that didn't change how hard this week was and it didn't change how frustrated I was with myself.

Having a family is something that is very important to me. So the emotional journey of getting my period month after month is exhausting. I've tried to put it out of my head and to just live my life, but that is very difficult when everything around you is babies. It is exceptionally hard because I feel like I can control every other aspect of my life, but I can't control this. It's hard to watch friend after friend get pregnant and it not happen for us. So when I try to no think about it, I can handle the disappointment, but when the question of are you going to have kids is asked by several people it is difficult. I don't think people realize how much it hurts to answer that question because i'm not going to pour my heart out to everyone about this, I just answer "hopefully someday" but inside it eats away at me.

Another hard part about this week is the comments from multiple people about how I don't need to lose any more weight. I'm consistently hearing that i'm doing too much and that I should just chill out and eat the sugar. So having these comments along with the other emotions was just the perfect storm for giving in to the cravings. Why do people feel the need to tell me that I don't need to lose more weight? it's beyond frustrating! Nicki and I had a good chat about this yesterday and really it's because they are jealous that they don't have the same commitment level. I know this, and I even caught myself commenting to Nicki at the weigh in yesterday about how she doesn't have that much to lose either which is totally wrong of me to say to anyone working towards a goal. I said it because I was frustrated with myself and I apologized for it as I huffed up the hill with her.

This past week I fell apart, I gave into cravings, I ate to cover my feelings. There is a difference between eating something as a planned treat, such as going out for a special dinner, versus eating something and not even tasting it. I guess the positive in all of this is that I recognize there is a difference, I knew right away that what I was doing, unfortunately I let it go on far too long which resulted in a big weight gain. I know that I can take it off, I know that most of it is water weight, but that doesn't make the frustration go away. Another huge reason that it is frustrating is that I was literally 2 lbs away from a huge goal. Once I get to 180 that will mean that I have lost 50% of my body weight and now I have to get back there again. I'm proud of myself for going on Sunday and weighing in, even though I knew how badly I had done.

What was positive about this week? Well I completed another item on my bucket list, indoor rock climbing. It was pretty awesome I must say and I did much better than I ever thought I could. I've already gone back once and am going again tomorrow night and Wednesday.

This week i'm getting back on track. I know I've said this several times over the last few months, but I'm back on track. Back on track until the next bend in the tracks. I recognize and know that it is a journey full of ups and downs, broken tracks, backtracking and getting right back on board and moving forward. I recognize that this journey has become harder and harder as I get closer and closer to my goal but I will reach the end, I just have to continue on.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

75KM of accomplishments

3 weeks ago I wrote about all the things I wanted to do this summer, a bucket list. So I have alot I wanna do and only a few weeks of summer, especially with how Victoria weather has been shaping up, which mean taking advantage of every opportunity for sunshine. So here's how the conversation goes - a little over a week ago...

Tonia "we should do something fun on Saturday"
Bri "sure, what do you wanna do?"
Tonia "why don't we go for a bike ride?"
Bri "sure, where you wanna go?"
Tonia "let's go to Sooke"

Since i'm up for pretty much anything as long as it doesn't require me to jump off tall buildings of coarse I agreed, not really thinking about how far Sooke was until I thought about it more. 40KM from Victoria. Now I bought my bike when I was like 270 lbs, and literally I couldn't ride it up any sort of incline. Prior to Saturday I had not ridden my bike for more than 2 KM; however, I have definitely got my fair share of hours on a spin bike and knew I was in way better shape. Luckily enough my bike had a shock seat so it is more comfortable than the spin bikes at the gym, but nothing is really comfortable when you are planning on sitting on it for 6 hours.

Awww look, we are so excited, this is about 8:45AM

We rode out to Langford on the Goose to the 15KM marker where we met Flora and off we went, on our way to Sooke. Our plan was, let's make it to Matheson lake which was at about 30KM and see how we feel. We stopped at Matheson for some yummy sandwiches and strawberries. I definitely got the better end of this deal as all I had to do was go buy strawberries, lovely Tonia made the most delicious sandwiches ever :)

I think those sandwiches gave us the will to go on. My reasoning was it was only 10 more KMs and I have already came this far, what's 10KM more. And plus I had to prove to those people who didn't think we could do this that we could. Tell me I can't do something and i'm going to prove you wrong!!

We made it to Sooke in record time where we stopped for a celebratory drink

Ok so realistically not on any clean eating plan or diet, but hey we just biked 40KM and we had to bike back so I could live with the one drink.

Look at us strong women!!

Now coming back was definitely harder than going out, we were tired and sore and I know my butt hurt using a cushy seat so I could only imagine the others. We stopped a few more times along the way back to refuel with some nuts and water. Coming back was slightly more eventful as I totally wiped out on my bike and went face down into a pile of horse poo - mmmm lovely - hey at least it didn't actually touch my face and my bike broke my fall, well my bike and my knees which are now severely damaged and bruised but that's just battle scars, they'll heal :). But finishing and getting back to Tonia's truck was the biggest sense of accomplishment ever - yes feeling accomplished + dead to the world tired and sore. We left our house at about 8AM and didn't get back until 6PMish. That included 6 hours of biking plus our stops along the way. So proud of Flora, Tonia, John and I for finishing!! WOO HOO - now onto the next item on this bucket list, indoor climbing tomorrow night!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shift Work

I am fortunate to have a consistent schedule at work every week. This for me has allowed me to be on a strict schedule with my food and workouts because I know it's the same every week. There are a few shift workers who I know who are going through this health journey with me. Their schedule changes every week so I don't see them as much as others in the Biggest Winners group, but they are still a huge part of it. Shawna and Laura graciously offered to answer some questions for me and give me some insight about how they have been coping on this journey and adjusting their life to meet their weight loss goals.

About 20-25% of the North American population works in jobs that require shift work. These include health care and support staff of hospitals, protective services (e.g. police, fire), transportation industry (e.g. truckers, airlines), hospitality services, and industrial work. Shifts tend to be between 8 and 12 hours long (though some do 24+ hrs), and may rotate between day, evening and night shifts depending on one's job. While some people prefer shift work to the regular M-F/9-5 schedule because of the variety and flexibility it can afford, the health risks shift work presents are multiple and well documented. These include cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal problems, circadian rhythm disynchronization, chronic fatigue disorder,and insomnia. Of interest to people seeking weight loss, shift work (notably night shift work) disrupts cortisol levels, insulin and leptin (the hormone that controls appetite). Weight gain and obesity is common among shift workers as a result of sleep, hormonal and appetite changes, and planning and scheduling challenges. It is disruptive to family and social life, and can make participation in clubs, sports and other organized activities difficult. Notwithstanding these challenges, with determination, planning and creativity weight loss and a high level of fitness is absolutely possible for the shift worker.

What is your job and schedule look like over the course of a month? hours of work etc.

I'm a Registered Nurse and I work in a casual position (this means I generally get called a few days to hours before an available shift). Over the summer many of my shifts are booked weeks in advance because I'm covering other nurses' holidays but generally they are last minute. Because I'm new and have little seniority, I work almost entirely night shifts because that is what is available. Personally my schedule is all over the map (July: 1 night, 4 off; 2 nights; 1 off; 3 nights; 3 off; 4 nights, 1 off, 3 nights, 3 off) but many shift workers have set schedules that tend to be more like "2 days/2 nights/5 off" if they are doing 12 hour shifts.

As I start I set of shifts, I try to have a normal, active day (usually involves food preparation and storage like freezing it) until about 2pm, then I wind down and try to sleep for 2 or 3 hours. I usually go to a 5pm exercise class and then bike to the hospital (11km from my home). I shower there, have a light dinner and am ready for work at 7:15 pm. When I'm done at 7:30 am I force myself to cycle home because I find it helps me put the shift behind me and I sleep better in the day for having had the exercise. I try to sleep until 3 or 4pm when I repeat it all to go back to work.

I usually work 4 12hr shifts consisting of 2 12hr day shifts from 0700-1900 and then 2 12hr night shifts from 1900-0700. Then it is mostly 4 days off sometimes 5 or 6 days off in a row. This rotation is equal to the average person working Mon thru Friday 8hr shifts.

What prompted you to want to get healthy?

My most recent (and significant) weight gain happened during nursing school. As I transitioned to working as a full-time nurse I was shocked at how low my energy was even on my days off. All I wanted to do was sleep. Part of the impetus for getting healthier was to increase my energy so I could enjoy both my job and free time more. Being overweight and out of shape was hard on my self-concept, my relationship, and just generally didn't feel like me. I'd been dealing with issues of significant weight gain and weight loss throughout my whole life really and something just came over me that said, "It's time to move on". It's exciting to be getting closer to putting it behind me.

I have struggled with my weight my whole adult life. Almost 5 months ago my marriage ended and I now had the time and energy to spend towards myself. While my husband didn't mind the extra weight he wasnt overly helpful in my quest to be healthier. As a thin person he didnt understand my struggle. I struggle with excersise as it is something I don't overly enjoy yet several months ago I saw the advertisement for BDHQ Biggest Winners and thought this may be the way for me. Before the end of my marriage I struggled with spending money on myself even tho I was the major bread winner of my family. Once my marriage ended I knew I could put me first so I once again saw the advertisement and took the plunge. Food has always been another struggle for me cause I LOVE IT! I needed a more healthy and realistic approach to food that would be easy for me to follow.

Since starting your weight loss journey how have you changed your behavior to enable yourself to be successful?

I integrate exercise into daily life as much as possible. I don't own a car so I walk or cycle nearly everywhere (it helps to live in a temperate climate). I used to take the bus all the time but now I realize that I can bike most places far more quickly than taking the bus. And I plan food in advance unlike I used to. I plan to freeze meals and I write out grocery lists as I find recipes I like. I don't allow myself to just pick something up at work -- the cafeteria and vending machine are out of bounds for me now which is a huge change from before.

My behavior towards me has changed. I now put me first! Biggest Winners has given me the tools and now it is up to me to incorporate them into my life. Surprisingly it has not been as difficult as I had imagined. I think this is because they make sense.

When you are working overnight shifts do you change how you eat in any way?

I struggle with how to eat best for my body and for my weight loss overnight. I aim for frequent, small meals but in reality I eat when I am given a break to eat which comes at sporadic hours. I crave fruit so I always bring a huge container of fruit salad from home and try to get my protein in with it by eating almonds and greek yogurt. Bringing homemade bean spreads or hummus also tend to appeal and I eat those with rice cakes or raw veggies. I try to keep things light and simple because I know I can easily overeat on night shift.

When I am working I find sticking to the 5 to 6 meals a day easier then when I am at home. Working night shifts I make sure I plan ahead and prepare my meals. I have found I now have healthy food staples in my fridge at all times. This includes 0% Fat Greek Yogurt, 1% Fat Cottage Cheese, fruit, and avocado. The following is a typical meal plan for my 12hr night shift. Supper before I go to work is usually a lean protein of chicken, fish, beef, pork, lamb or bison with a heaping portion of veggies such as asparagus or a salad. My next meal 3hrs later is usually a small tortilla wrap with dijon mustard, sometimes cheese, a lean lunch meat such at turkey breast and a bunch of spinach. My next meal 3hrs later is usually 180g of 1% cottage cheese with 1/2 an avocado. My next meal 3hrs later is usually 1 slice of whole grain bread toasted and 1-2 hard boiled eggs. My next meal 3hrs later is usually 175g of Greek Yogurt with fruit (pear, apple or 1c frozen blueberries).

What key piece of advice would you give to other shift workers who are trying to lead healthier lives but are struggling with incorporating it into their schedule?

Bring your cookbooks to work to read on your break and make your shopping list from them. Bring several different types of food to work because at night you may crave (or not be able to tolerate) different foods than you'd expected when you put things together two days before. It's ok to bring a bunch of that food home again - you'll just bring it the next day or give it away at home or on shift. Bring treats -- I don't mean clean "cheat" foods though. I mean honest, clean, eating-for-weight-loss foods that are treats for you because you really love them. Treats for me are homemade burger patties done on the BBQ, high protein spreads (egg, tuna, bean, lentil) for my rice cakes or veggies, and fresh fruits like the perfect peach or a mango. And get your exercise anyway even though you have no motivation. Just get it over with. On the way home or on the way to work - there has got to be 30 minutes on one side or both that you can squeeze a good sweat into. And finally, every time a well-meaning patient, client or colleague brings in a huge plate of fudge or cinnamon buns to brighten your long, dark and exhausting 12 hour night, tell yourself out loud how damaging those things are. Working night shifts wreaks enough havoc on my body and well-being that I don't need harmful "food" to hurt me more. Drink your water and walk away.

It is a struggle to keep healthy while working shift work. Putting yourself first and making you a priority is key. I find that meal planning is the best thing to do. I always have the food I need in my fridge and so then there is no excuse to not eat healthy. Eating 5 - 6 meals a day has made a huge difference. I am never hungry; in fact my body tells me to feed it every 3 hrs. Fitting in exercise is also a struggle but if it is made a priority then it becomes less of a struggle. I have never enjoyed exercising yet I also realized many years ago that I don't like to do it alone. BDHQ Biggest Winners has given me a way to exercise with others and in a manner that is conducive to weight-loss and over the long run a way to incorporate it into my life long-term. I love to exercise now. I love how my energy level has increased. I love how much stronger I feel and how my body keeps changing. Every workout is different so the boredom factor is not there. Along with leading a more healthy life I have become happier. I am not as tired or as grumpy.

Thank you Shawna and Laura for sharing with me and everyone else some great insight and advice. I think we can all relate to those plates of fudge or cookies in the work place, regardless of if you are working shift work or not. I see it every day in my office and it is a constant mind game to walk away. Well said Laura, "Drink your water and walk away". I am so impressed with both of your dedication to not only Biggest Winners but also your own health and well being. You have both made such amazing transformations and are getting stronger every day. I'm sure you inspire your co-workers with your shrinking selves.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Make a Plan...Sign a Contract

Yesterday we finished off our last Biggest Winners session with a hike up Mt. Finlayson and potluck style lunch. What a gorgeous day for it, and a wonderful turnout. And you know it wouldn't be a hike without a plank right?? Even conned Christa into doing it with me :)

We went up the front side, rock face and all, of Finlayson then down the back side and along the road. Then since it was so much fun we went up again to the rock face in search of some other's. So needless to say I was EXHAUSTED at the end of that - 3 hours of hiking!

Today was the start of another session of which I am only attending Sunday's. I think im going through withdrawals already and I haven't even missed a class, LOL. So many new faces is wonderful to see and it will make for an amazing session. Since I will only be there once a week that means it is up to me to really be accountable to my goal. I must be focused and 100% on track. My goal is to be in the 160's - which means 20 lbs. Doable, but difficult, but you know me I like a challenge. So how am I going to do it? Well # 1 I make a plan and #2 I make a contract to keep that plan.


I, Brianna Westhaver, Hereby commit to living a healthy lifestyle.
I take full responsibility for my health and my weight loss process. I will not blame anyone - including myself - for my weight issues.
I realize that this process will not always be easy, but I am willing to do my absolute best.
I relinquish all excuses and explanations. I realize they do not matter.
I will devote time each week to preparing my food.
I will make a workout plan every week and stick to it.
I will ask for help if I am struggling.
I will say no to the foods that do not fuel me.
I will lose 20 pounds by September 31st, 2011.
I will do all of the above, because: I want to prove to myself I can do it, I want to reach my long term goal,and I want to feel proud of myself for doing this.
Brianna Westhaver
July 3, 2011

As I've said so many times before, losing weight is about being prepared and being accountable to yourself. I encourage everyone to make a contract/commitment for themselves, weather it is just over the course of one week, one month or longer. Whatever timeline works for you. Make a plan, sign a contract, and keep yourself accountable because no one else can do this for you.