Sunday, August 28, 2011

50% Gone = 25 Lessons + 25 Successes

I DID IT!! Yeah 50%!! As of today's weigh in I have now lost 180lbs. I have lost the same amount of weight as I currently weigh - that's insane and I am very proud of myself. So reflecting back, what did I learn in this journey of 1335 days and what were my successes?

1. Long-term goals matter a lot less than short-term objectives. Meaning, yes you may have 50 or 100 lbs to lose or 200 in my case What matters more is what are the small, measurable objectives you will aim for to achieve the long term goal? For me it was getting under 300, then getting under 250, then 200, then to 180.

2. Consistency is everything. Being a perfectionist, I used to have an all or nothing attitude about being successful at weight loss, this caused me to just not even try. I realized that as long as I am consistent that I will reach the goal eventually.

3. The best programs are sustainable. I tried lots of different workouts that I didn't enjoy. I know that to maintain success I have to do things I LOVE to do. Luckily I love to do lots of different things so it keeps my life fresh.

4. Don't diet. I tried "diet's" throughout my journey and did lose weight, but it was not sustainable. I have learned that living a healthy life full of clean, healthy foods and exercise is not a diet, it's a lifestyle and it is what I will do for the rest of my life.

5. Happiness can exist only in acceptance. Sure I didn't like how I looked at 360lbs but I also knew that I wasn't going to get to where I wanted overnight. I chose a long time ago to simply be happy with myself as long as I was making an effort to lose weight. Accepting who you are in the present moment is key to being successful.

6.The first time you face something that scares you is the first time you realize that life is worth living when you take risks. I learned that without taking chances, I will never grow and would never have gotten to where I am now.

7.Don’t create limits where there really aren’t any. Like “I can’t run 5KM” or “I can’t do bootcamp”, well have you TRIED? I thought before I started bootcamp, well I can’t do that – that’s for healthy/skinny people. Look at me now, just because I TRIED! I wasn’t the fittest or the fattest but I showed up every day and made an effort.

8.Healing yourself is connected with healing others. Helping other people achieve their goals, or just get started, has been one of the biggest motivators for me to continue on my journey. Simply by writing this blog it has kept me accountable to the process.

9.Challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are. I learned to take chances and try new things and through doing this it helped me discover who I really am, STRONG.

10.Be stubborn. The journey will not be an easy road, there will be challenges and it require your willpower and lots of it. Refuse to fail and you’ll reach your goal.

11.Question your reasons. When you are sitting there eating that bag of chips, WHY are you doing that? What are the chips fulfilling for you? Is it huger, or is it filling an emotional void? Learning to question why I did things resulted in me recognizing when I was making poor choices.

12.Create a support network. People who care about you, and even people who don’t know you, are ready and willing to help you reach your goals. Reach out and ask for help. Build your bubble of supporters. They lift you up when you are down.

13.Avoid the saboteurs. I learned that even though people are supportive of me, there are also people (sometimes the same people) who will unknowingly sabotage me. I recognize that these people just want to be in the same place that I am and by sabotaging me in a strange way it makes them feel better. I also recognize that most people don’t realize they are doing this so it’s important to have that conversation when it happens or if it continues to happen.

14.Those who aren’t supporters don’t require your energy. I have encountered multiple people who tell me that what i’m doing isn’t healthy or that I shouldn’t lose more weight or I should follow another diet plan. I learned to not spend any more energy than necessary on those people and just move on. I choose to surround myself by people who are supportive of my goals.

15.Say thank you a LOT. I think it’s hard to accept compliments, only recently i’ve got better at doing this, but it still seems unnatural. When I first started my journey and people would tell me “wow you’re looking good” I would never say thank you, I would say something like “yah, but I still have a long way to go”. The lesson learned was to always be appreciative of the compliments, it means that they care enough to notice.

16.It’s okay to be selfish. I learned that it’s okay to say no, it’s okay to put yourself first because this is what is necessary to be successful. Your friends will understand, they will still be your friends just because you chose to forgo the Friday night pizza and a movie.

17.Don’t allow the number to define you. The scale is only one measurement of your success. I learned several pounds ago that the number does not define who I am. I am still stronger than I was last week even if I am not lighter.

18.You will never regret a workout. The warm, cozy bed may be hard to get out of at 5:30AM but I have never regretted getting up to workout even though I may be cursing the whole way to the gym.

19.Document your progress. Without before pictures you cannot look back and see where you came from. Without measurements you cannot see how strong you are becoming. I learned that having this permanent record of what I used to be and what I am now keeps me motivated.

20.Don’t wait to try something or meet new people. I used to be intimidated to try new things because I thought that I was going to be the biggest person there all the time. All I was doing was holding myself back. I learned that trying new things was crucial to my journey and it allowed me to be stronger as a person.

21.Practice confidence. This is kind of like “fake it til you make it”, sometimes I didn’t feel confident at all, in fact I was scared to death, but I just learned to face situations head on and eventually I actually was confident.

22.It’s okay to be afraid. Fear is a natural thing, but letting go of it is exhilarating. I was absolutely terrified to do the black course of Wild Play – but I did it and I survived. I conquered and I grew!!

23.Be true to yourself. You’re the only one you need to report to. I learned to be confident in my decisions and not to allow others to change what I believe.

24.A Peanut Buster Parfait from DQ only seems like a good idea at the moment of weakness. I learned to remind myself that it may feel good for about 10 minutes while I eat it and don’t even taste it, but then I will feel like crap and regret it immediately.

25. It’s not too late until you’re dead. I learned early on regardless of how long the journey takes it’s never too late to start. We all start somewhere.

1.Starting. Defiantly just taking that first step in choosing to change was a success in itself.

2.The #. Even though I learned not to allow the number to define me, it still is a cruicial part of my success. Getting under 300 lbs was a huge accomplishment and then getting under 200 lbs felt even bigger. Now I am 50% of the person I started as.

3.Hiking. We have so many beautiful places around Victoria and BC to Hike but I never fully enjoyed them because I wasn't strong enough, now I am. But even just going out there at 250lbs and trying to hike and succeeding was huge.

4.Normal Size. I can now buy ALL my clothes in a "normal" store. No more Penningtons or Addition Elle for this girl!

5.Running. Learning to run was a huge accomplishment for me. Now I love it and I know it is something I will continue to do. I am super excited to run my first half marathon in just 42 days.

6.Climbing. I learned how to indoor rock climb this summer at Crag X Gym. This is something I never though I would be able to do, even when I signed up to do it I had some doubts in my strength, but I did it and conquered it.

7.Biking. I bought my bike when I was 275 lbs and couldn't even ride it up a short incline. This summer I went from not being able to ride for 5 minutes to riding 75KM to Sooke and back.

8.Kayaking. I was so terrified of going kayaking, mostly because I was freaked out about falling out and getting stuck and all the weird things in the water that could "get you". Lucking I relied on my support network to get me out there.

9.Airplane Seat. Now I can confidently get on an airplane and know I don't need a seat belt extender.

10.Slo Pitch. This year I joined a slo pitch team, I was so scared to do it but it was something I wanted to do for a long time. I played softball as a kid so being able to get back into sports meant alot to me.

11.Cooking. I remember I was working at Subway and I worked probably 60 hours a week. I lived and ate at Subway, and not in a healthy way. Now that I have control of my life, I love cooking and trying new recipes. I know how to make things in a healthy way.

12.Zip Lining. Anything that has a weight limit, which ziplining does, is a success for me because now I can do all these things without having to as "is there a weight limit".

13.Box Jumps. Being able to jump, from standing, to the tallest box at the gym.

14.Planks. My longest officially timed plank was 3 minutes in my last fitness test. Now the goal is to be consistent with it.

15.Enjoying fitness. I consider this a success because I went from a sedentary life of nothing to a life full of well LIFE!

16.Wildplay. Completing the entire Wildplay course and only crying for part of it :P.

17.Adapting. I have gone through a LOT of changes professionally and personally through this journey and I know I was successful in adapting to those changes.

18.Staying Committed. Even through plateaus I knew that this journey would not be over until I finished it. I never never never gave up.

19.Dancing. I was ashamed of my body at first, but once I accepted me for who I was and stopped caring about what other people thought this allowed me to do things such as dancing. I loved taking the Hip Hop class at PERKS and learning to dance, even if it was just in a studio and not for anyone to see.

20.Fitting into LuLu Lemon Pants. I'm really not a huge person on name brand things ,but just knowing that I could buy something at LuLu Lemon was huge for me. At 360lbs I couldn't wear anything in the store, but I did buy a water bottle and the mantra is on my wall.

21.Becoming a motivator. Now that i've lost so much weight and I "get it" I am proud to be a motivator to other people.

22.Stand Up Paddleboarding. Not sure why this wasn't as scarey as kayaking, but it wasn't, and I didn't even fall in!!

23.Choosing Healthy. Every day I make a choice to be healthy and be focused is a success in itself.

24.Speaking my mind. Every time I chose to speak up and express my feelings is a success

25.Living. Maybe my biggest success is just the fact that I choose to live my life. I choose to take the lessons I have learned and apply them every day. I choose to use my successes to challenge me into a new level of living. I choose to LIVE.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Biggest Winners Inspiration Part 3

Meet Nicki, another inspiration and someone I am proud to call my friend. She challenges me every day to push myself to my limits and beyond. She has supported me and been a friendly ear over the last year. She is proof that anyone can do this, you just have to make the choice and do it. She juggles being a mom, working full time and working out with such ease. I'm sure you will agree how inspiring she is after reading her powerful words.

Tell us your story? Why do you struggle with weight/food?
I wasn’t an overweight kid. In fact, I played competitive sports when I was young and through high school, but I never learned how to eat well. My mom was always on a diet to lose those pesky 20lbs and my dad would live on coffee until 3pm every day, but start eating sandwiches or cookies at 10pm because he was starving. My junk food addiction began in high school where the only available food was from a vending machine or the fish’n’chip shop across from the school. I developed very poor eating habits, but it didn’t affect my weight because I was so active. In university, the struggle began. I wasn’t as active, but continued eating poorly. Almost 20 years of yo-yoing followed. I would gain 25lbs, lose 20, gain 30, lose 25 and on it went. I have successfully lost weight a multitude of times, but I hadn’t ever successfully maintained the loss.

Here is Nicki Before

And Nicki After

When did you start your weight loss journey? What prompted you to start?
This time the journey began when my husband and I decided to try to have a baby. We had a great deal of fun trying for the first year, but with no success. I thought that my weight was holding us back. So, on January 5, 2005 (my 32rd birthday), I met with Michele Shorter for the very first time. I went on to lose 33lbs with BDHQ and feel better than I had in years, but our conception outlook hadn’t changed.

We went to a fertility specialist to see what was happening with my disobedient ovaries and discovered that our collective reproductive prowess is more effective than most birth control in *preventing* pregnancy. And our assisted fertility journey began. Having a baby was incredibly important, but the hormones, forced rest and emotional turmoil took its toll on my newly fit body and psyche. With one cancelled IVF cycle under our belts, we pulled ourselves together to give it one more shot.

In August 2006, the second round of daily injections began with an extreme dosages of hormones to rev up the egg engines. We got one fertilized egg for the efforts. When the clinic called to say that our one little egg had split into *two* cells, we celebrated like it was 1999. Those two microscopic cells were about to change our lives forever. Almost 9 months later (a whole other story involving tena pads and a busted water heater), Gavin was born. He is an absolute miracle. I wouldn’t change him for anything.

But 20 months after giving birth to our miracle, I was a tired, overweight, working mom who wanted to get her body back after years of fertility treatment, pregnancy, breastfeeding and post-partum depression. I looked and felt years older than my youthful 36. My body was tired and I was tired of feeling that way.

So in February 2009, at 199lbs, my highest ever (and not pretty at under 5 feet tall), I found Body Dynamics again. Now there was a great downtown studio with a fantastic Biggest Winner program. I had a significant amount of weight to lose, but I have never felt intimidated or shy in this group. I started working out 4 days a week and radically changed my diet to eliminate processed foods.

How much weight have you lost?
At my lowest, I was down almost 70lbs. I have had a set back over the last few months with a pulled calf muscle, but I am back on track and headed for that final goal of 75lbs gone forever.

What does an average week look like in your life (commitments, workouts, work, kids etc.)? How do you fit it all in?
My life is extremely busy with work, family, friends and my health. I say all the time that I work full time and I work out full time. I have 2 boys. A teenager who is busy with his own activities, but not old enough to drive yet and the above mentioned little miracle who is now 4 and quite a handful. Thankfully, I have a really supportive husband who gets that I need to do this for myself.

I also have a great job that is flexible and has been encouraging. Some of my co-workers have been my biggest fans and have since joined BDHQ also! We have a “fitness” policy that allows me to start work a little early each day so that I can get to the gym at lunch. I try to do that 3 days a week. I still attend Biggest Winner classes 4 times a week and starting in the fall I will add 3 morning runs back into my schedule.

It is busy and sometimes hectic, but working out is a non-negotiable. If I have time to watch TV or be on Facebook, then I have time to work out.

Well said Nicki - if you have time to read this blog then you have time to work out :)

Is there anything you miss eating that you used to eat before? Why?
There really isn’t. There are a few lessons that I have learned over the past few years and one has been that if I can’t sustain the way I am eating for the rest of my life, then I should lose weight that way. It is a hard lesson because the lure of fad diets and rapid results is so tempting. I still get trapped in that mentality of just eliminating entire food groups or severely restricting calories to “lose 14lbs in 7 days!!” So I have learned that moderation is key. I am most successful when I am not going to extremes.

If you could go back and talk to yourself at the beginning of your journey what would you tell yourself?
You ARE worth it.

What advice would you give to other's that are struggling?
If they are struggling to get started, just do it! Take the first step. That first one is the hardest.

If they are struggling through the process:
#1. Stay the course! Consistency pays off.
#2 Talk to someone who has been supportive of this process! We all have cheerleaders in our life. Talk to them!

Nicki, you are one of my cheerleaders - you are a friendly ear for me through ups and downs. You help me see parts of myself that I may not have seen before. You are a true friend.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated?
I just keep showing up at BDHQ. I know that if I show up, the trainers and all the fab people in Biggest Winners will keep me going. And I know that I will never regret going to work out. I will almost always regret not doing it.

What do you do to reward yourself?
This is a place I still struggle. Food has always been a reward to me. It is a hard habit to break. This summer, I have been rewarding myself with new experiences instead. I’ve climbed Mt. Finlayson, gone kayaking, ziplined twice, taking paddle-boarding lessons. Adventure has been my reward instead.

Yes i'm with you on this 100% - this summer has been rewards through adventure. Thanks for joining me and challenging me every step of the way.

Share one of your successes that has meant the most on this journey
I have accomplished so much in the last couple of years, but if I had to choose one thing it would be crossing the finish line of the marathon. When I started in Feb 09, I couldn’t run even a few blocks. In October 2010, I ran a marathon. It was an incredible experience and I will never forget it.

What has changed in your life? for good? for bad?
Just trying to figure out how to put this into words has been in tears. I can’t begin to explain what this journey has done for me. I have achieved so many things. I have accomplished feats of fitness I never dreamed possible. But more than the physical, I truly believe that I am a better person than I was 2 years ago. I am not bitter and sad now. My life is full of joy and I can see it now.

I have met and been moved by some of the most incredible women (and a couple of stellar men!) who model the most incredible strength, drive and passion to change. I don’t think any of them will ever fully understand how much they have touched my life with their generosity and vulnerability. I have made amazing friends and life-long connections.

I could never have done this without the team at BDHQ. All the trainers are fantastic, however, Michele and Lovisa have transformed me inside and out. These two women are compassionate when I am at my most vulnerable and unrelenting when I am at my most unmotivated. They were invested in my success before I knew what success looked like. They believed in me before I ever believed in myself. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

Congratulations on everything you have accomplished Nicki, running a marathon, climbing mountains and continually motivating people to reach their goals.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Busting Through Excuses

Excuses are just lies we tell ourselves when we don't want to face the truth. I know I've talked about this before but it really is an ongoing thing in life, making excuses. Sometimes they are big excuses, and sometimes they are just trying to get out of something I don't want to do.

This week's focus was on "our story", so what is your excuse or the story you tell yourself when you are looking to skip a workout or eat something you know isn’t healthy or on your program. I didn't really have a good answer to this and then I really thought about it. I thought well obviously I have a story because I have stopped myself from getting to the weight I want and have sabotaged myself with food or poor choices. So really what is my story? I realized that my story is that I am actually scared to reach my goal. Even though I want it so much, I am terrified to get there. I am scared that if I get to that goal, then what will I be? Weight loss and getting healthy has been my identity for the last three years, I have found friends through this, I have built my life around it, so what will I be if I am no longer losing weight?

I think subconsciously I am sabotaging myself and not allowing myself to get to this goal because I am scared that if I get there then I won't know who I am anymore. After I realized this it was a light bulb moment, I was like that is SO TRUE!! I totally do that. I have always felt like I didn't fit in, or I was the third wheel, until I found this amazing group. So if I don't have weight to lose then where do I fit in?

No knowing what my story is will enable me to bust through this excuse/story and reach my goal. I'm not going to allow myself to be scared anymore. I have the power to decide who I will be after this journey. I can still be health focused, even though I have reached "the goal", there will always be new physical challenges to conquer. I can still motivate others, even if i'm just maintaining. I can be whoever I want to be and make a whole new story.

So now that I figured out what "my story" is I asked some friends what their stories were. The responses were all things that I have thought myself at one point in time.

EXCUSE: Alyse says "I'm never going to be thin, its impossible, something is wrong with my metabolism/genetics, so what the heck, I'm going to eat what I want".
EXCUSE BUSTER: Be consistent, eat clean, exercise, and make a lifestyle change. You didn't get this way overnight, it will happen you just have to be consistent. Aim to have a healthy body, not necessarily be thin.

EXCUSE: Raeleen says "I don't believe I can lose 40+ pounds so why even try: I sometimes want to give up thinking about how much I will go through to lose this amount of weight. the most I've ever lost in the past when i've dieted is 17 pounds. I have a mental hurdle to jump at that mark because I've never had so much to lose before and deep down I doubt I am capable of it. I guess this story is called "fear of success"."
EXCUSE BUSTER: You ARE capable. Being successful in weight loss requires a belief in yourself that you can do this. If you doubt your ability to be successful you will self sabotage to prove yourself right.

EXCUSE: Sherry says "I might as well give in and eat what I want because I’m not losing weight anyway."
EXCUSE BUSTER: Sherry busted her own excuse with "This kind of thinking will put me straight into the nursing home…not a place I want to be…so just need to keep at it, no matter what."

EXCUSE: Sherry says "I went to all my workouts this week so I deserve a little chocolate pick me-up (or a bottle of wine)."
EXCUSE BUSTER: Sherry says "Why would you work out all week, and then sabotage yourself with chocolate, wine and other goodies? boggles the mind."
Well said Sherry, I couldn't agree with you more, even though I find myself using this excuse frequently

EXCUSE: Alyse says "My hubby will get really annoyed if I spend more time at the gym"
EXCUSE BUSTER: Is your hubby annoyed or is he scared or your accomplishments? Involve him in your fitness, get healthy together. Share with him the feeling you get from exercise. Share with him your reasons for doing this and how important it is to you. The time you spend to better yourself will only lead to more meaningful time you spend with your husband.

EXCUSE: Sherry says "I’ve been at this for 2 years now I shouldn’t have to work this hard anymore."
EXCUSE BUSTER: Remember, it is a lifestyle journey, not a number journey. Getting healthy and staying healthy is now forever part of your life. You've been doing it for 2 years, but you will be doing it for many more.

EXCUSE: Raeleen says "I have to be super wife and super mom: I need to make a meal that my son will eat, which is different from what my husband likes to eat, which is now different from what I need to eat. I end up making 3 different meals at dinner and at breakfast, which can take up to 3 hours a day including doing the dishes and cleaning up afterwards"
EXCUSE BUSTER: You are feeding yourself clean, healthy, amazing foods, does your family not deserve the same? Instead of spending 3 hours a day preparing 3 different meals, dedicate one day a week to preparing for your entire week. Do your grocery shopping, create a meal plan, cut and prepare your veggies. Instead of creating three separate meals find foods you can enjoy together as a family.

EXCUSE: Alyse says "I worked really hard today at my job so I deserve to go home and rest"
EXCUSE BUSTER: What about, "I worked really hard today at my job so I deserve to treat myself by going to workout because I know how amazing I will feel after"

EXCUSE: Sherry says "My husband brings crap food into the house and it’s his fault if I eat it
EXCUSE BUSTER: Oh I know this excuse too well!! I live like 20 feet from Dairy Queen. But really it's my own choice if I eat those foods, no one else. I own my decisions!

And the list is really endless if you think about it. I get excuses all the time when people ask me how to lose weight. I give them an answer, but their response is often an excuse on why they cannot execute it. When someone is ready, no excuse in the world will stop them from achieving their goal.

"When your intention is great enough you will ALWAYS find the time and energy to accomplish your desires. You can state excuses to the contrary, but holding on to your old stories is just another way of wasting precious time." - James Arthur Ray

Friday, August 19, 2011

Biggest Winners Inspiration Part 2

Like I said yesterday, I wouldn’t be here without the Biggest Winners program or Michele who inspires me daily. But she’s not the only one. I’d like to share with all of you another inspirational story. She likes to be modest, but really she’s an amazing and caring woman. Sherry McKay started in the Biggest Winners program in January 2010 and has been a solid in that group ever since I have been there. When I get that internal voice that starts to wine about having to go to the gym Sherry is one of the people I think of and remind myself that I can keep going. She has this way of quietly motivating people. She reminds me to pick myself back up every time I fall and to keep on going. She has encouraged me after a tough weigh in or after a slip up. But I think you will agree how amazing she is by just reading her interview below.

Tell us your story? Why do you struggle with weight/food?
My story, hmmmm, I’ve been overweight almost my entire life with brief period where I was a good healthy weight. My mother is morbidly obese and has a life long struggle with weight and poor body image. I think that really left a mark on us kids, because in a family of 5, we all struggle with obesity. I’ve looked back at old pictures, and even when I was a decent weight, I thought I was really fat back then, when I look at them now, I think, wow I actually looked pretty good. So just goes to show that poor image of self. I have always felt, not good enough, not smart enough, not fit enough, not picked for sports teams (until the bitter end) in school. Teased, tormented, etc., by the other kids because of my weight, so slowly just started to withdraw and not try to do stuff. I also think it is partially a security blanket….I can’t do this…that because of my weight, not trying, means not failing (at least in some sort of weird language in my head). Scary to put yourself out there, fat insulates you from doing that. You can’t be as much of a disappointment if you set your sights very low……I think that’s what I did, having poor self-image, low expectations. Over the years I’ve tried many different weight loss programs, and I think I have every diet book that’s ever been put out there, always seeking, never reaching. I also think I self-sabotage, when I’m just short of success…..why?...that’s something I’m still figuring out, but I think success is a bit scary…what if I put myself out there and don’t succeed,….can’t blame it on being overweight, then its just me. That’s my theory on it anyway.

When did you start your weight loss journey?

My weight loss journey has been something I’ve worked on always…I was a teen the first time I went to weight watchers, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ticked the “rejoin” box there. I also tried Weight Loss Clinic, Jenny Craig, Diet Centre, the cabbage soup diet, Dr. Phil’s weight loss solution, Bob Greene’s diet plan, and a variety of other stupid things ….most of them worked, but when you stopped following the plan….like one diet I was on was 495 calories a day…and I, lost 80 lbs, but then gained it all back +++, and I had to have a couple of “fatty tumors” removed because the weightloss was too rapid and fat pooled in the bottom of my toes. Anyway, certainly not sustainable, and not the best way to do it. Until I came to BDHQ, I never tried diet and exercise (something the doctor told me all along, but he never said exactly how to do it). I started by having Lovisa come to my house to do personal training 2-3 days a week (part of a Christmas present from my daughter…I got the “gift” of Lovisa). That was in Jan/Feb of 2009 I think….and I did it for a couple of months…then Lovisa did not want to come all the way out to Brentwood, and I wasn’t yet ready to come into the gym, so several months passed and I gained back the weight I lost with Lovisa. But then my husband and I were planning a trip to Europe, and I wanted to be able to keep up with everyone, so I called Lovisa again, and she wasn’t willing to come to my house, so I had to summon the courage and come into the gym. I started doing personal training in the gym July of 2009, and then started with BW’s in January 2010. I lost 50 lbs doing the personal training, and felt I was ready to join the group….and I’ve been doing it ever since. I consistently lost 2-3 lbs every week until I was down 130 lbs….since then I’ve struggled, but continue to go to the gym, and work the program…why?....because I’m feeling so much better.

SIDE NOTE: Here is the lovely Lovisa

She may look sweet and innocent but trust me she can woop your butt and push you to limits you never thought possible...ok back to your regularly scheduled program...Sherry...

What prompted you to start?
Several things, my mother had a heart attack and wound up in hospital where she was treated pretty awful being a person of considerable size, and it was humiliating for her (and for us) …for instance, she fell in the ER in the Duncan hospital and they had to get the fire fighters over there to lift her back up and into the bed. She was bruised from head to foot, but she was too heavy for the nurses there to lift her up without the strength of 4 guys. I also was facing some health challenges, on 4 pills for blood pressure which still wasn’t being controlled, and my blood sugars were high, one step away from being classified diabetic, and I also had sleep apnea and had to use a CPAP machine at night to make sure I didn’t die in my sleep, and we had this trip we were planning to go to Italy, so I was highly motivated to change.

How much weight have you lost?
Starting weight was 342, and I lost a total of 130 lbs….now I’ve gained back some, so am at a total loss of 104.

What does an average week look like in your life (commitments, workouts,work, kids etc.)? How do you fit it all in?
I make myself a priority (something most women lose somewhere along the line…for years your child is the most important thing and I also tried to do it all, all the cleaning, cooking, shopping etc., now I enlist my husband’s help and its more 50/50…although he’d probably say its shifted and he’s doing 60, and I’m doing 40! Anyway, I make my workouts my priority, and even though some days I don’t feel like it, I’m always glad when I go and I’ve done it. I feel better and happier for it. I try to workout 6 days a week (I don’t always make it, but that’s my plan). I do BW’s 4 days, then I fit in treadmill workouts with my sister in Calgary. We have headsets and we talk on the phone and challenge each other to go longer, faster etc. I also have a couple of friends that I walk or cycle on days when I can fit that in. I still do a personal training session every Saturday morning with Lovisa for an hour, and I take the stairs every time I can, I park further away, and I get up and get out for 2 walks a day at work…they aren’t long as our break times here are short, but I figure its better than doing nothing.

ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: Sherry’s amazing sister, Corine Sullivan, has also lost a considerable amount of weight. Check out her story featured on the Calgary Herald

Is there anything you miss eating that you used to eat before? Why?
Chocolate, mashed potatoes…why, comfort foods I suppose. Chocolate does something to my brain, its kind of like have a cigarette, you know its bad for you and yet you have to have one. You get an instant sense of feeling better, and then remorse takes over. I still battle with the chocolate, but I continue to work on that….I’m getting to know better now why I’m reaching for it, so that’s a good start to overcoming it. Always good to “phone a friend”, go for a walk, take a break, and then go back and decide “do I really need it?”

If you could go back and talk to yourself at the beginning of your journey what would you tell yourself?
That you have nothing to fear, and that you CAN do it!

What advice would you give to other's that are struggling?
Just keep on keeping on. There are still days I’m not in control, the secret to success is to shrug off the bad day and get right back at it the next. I used to think I had to be perfect, but now I realize I just need to be consistent, and that there will be slip-ups, but it doesn’t have to bring you down. Just get back up and keep going. “Fake it til you make it”

What do you do to keep yourself motivated?
I remember what I felt like before I lost the weight, how hard it was to tie up my shoes, or roll over in bed (simple every day things) that I can do now no problem. I love that I can do things now, and I feel like I’m living instead of merely existing.

What do you do to reward yourself?
I am good to myself and treat myself every once in a while to a mani/pedi or massage and facial. I spend money on myself….I consider it a treat to have my workouts at BDHQ, and once a week I eat out for breakfast with some of the gals from the gym :) ….that’s my treat, and time just for me.

What has changed in your life? for good? for bad?
I would have to say that everything has changed for me, I can buy clothes easier and I don’t have to shop in the Plus size stores anymore, I can fly on an airplane without having to get a seatbelt extension and I can put my meal tray down, I don’t have to worry when we go out somewhere that I’m not going to fit in the chair, at work, when we have meetings in different buildings and we go over as a group, I don’t have to worry that I won’t be able to keep up. I can walk up the stairs quickly and don’t have to stop like I used to. I used to always take the elevator, but not anymore :).
For bad, there are saboteurs out there, so it’s just making sure that you are armed with what to say to them. I try to surround myself with people who are my supporters, those who try and sabotage are usually feeling badly about themselves and just want to bring you down with them. I have armed myself with a couple of things to say to people when they say things like “you’re crazy for working out at that gym, its way over the top”, or go ahead “you deserve to treat yourself”, “just one won’t hurt”……I come back with things like “l love working out at the gym, and more importantly, I love how I feel after I workout at the gym”, and “you wouldn’t offer me cocaine if I was a recovering drug addict now would you”…that usually works.

Share one of your successes that has meant the most on this journey
The first time I climbed up Mt Doug with my daughter (it was “bring a friend/family day” for BW’s), and I made it to the top, Lovisa cried she was so happy for me, and I felt like a million dollars as that is something I would never have even tried before. Now my husband, daughter and I do hikes together….it’s nice to be able to talk and spend time together doing something that is healthy for all of us.


Sherry & Corine celebrating their success. You can read more on their story on the BDHQ Blog

I am proud to call Sherry my friend and could not have gotten through the last year without her support and smiling face. I believe in you Sherry – you will conquer this, you know that already!! I gave Sherry my LuLu Lemon pants that I got for winning the first session of Biggest Winners I was in. As I was giving them to her she tells me that they are way to small for her and that she can’t wear them. I’m happy to report that they fit!! So proud of you Sherry - onederland is within your sights.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Biggest Winners Inspiration

I was asked recently, who inspires me? I cannot answer that question with one person, there are just so many inspirational people in my life, people who believe in me and keep me going. Knowing that I have people who believe I can achieve my goals keeps me inspired to keep going. I think it's important to share our stories, to stay accountable to each other and your support network. Being part of Biggest Winners and BDHQ has been the best thing that has happened to me in my weight loss journey. I have not only lost a significant amount of weight, but I have gained a new family and new confidence. All of this would not be possible without the help and support of one very special person to me, Michele - director of BDHQ. Michele graciously offered to answer some questions for me and reflect on the Biggest Winners program.

When did you start the program?
The Biggest Winner program started in March of 08, hard to believe, i feel like we have learned so much about training this specific group of people. I have made countless friends and am very proud of the way it has evolved. It is forever changing it seems that one session isnt always like the next. So with amazing feedback from clients we hope to continue improving, and getting to the bottom of how we can change lives and lifestyles.

What prompted you to start the program?
We were defenitely inspired by the biggest loser television program, we very much needed a regimented program that would teach lifestyle improvements and coach people to live thier best lives while losing weight. Nothing like that had been done in our area before.

What keeps you motivated to help countless people reach their goals?
That is the easiest answer, people like Brianna, Sherry, Nicki, Kristen, Jana, Aiden and Jackie... i want to name everyone but you get it.. i feel like their goals are my goals, it is just as awesome to watch the transformations.

Can you share some favorite milestones that have been reached over the life of the program?
Watching several people now get under 200lbs, run for the first time, watching people literally change before our eyes, the way they crave the exercise and really are just so excited to learn more about health and fitness. When i know i have a "lifer" its the best feeling!

What do you tell people who aren't sure if they can succeed in this program?
You Can.... the support from this group and staff members at BDHQ is unwavering, you deserve it, It's absolutely necessary to have the knowledge and self esteem that comes from working hard and doing the right thing. You aren't alone in this and it's ok to be scared, just trust in yourself.

What makes Biggest Winners unique from similar programs offered in Victoria?
This is not a diet, its a life altering, fantastic journey of self discovery. Goal Coaching, wicked workouts, accountability and no crash diets are the key to making the changes needed to lose significant amounts of weight. We offer all of it and have have many success stories!

Thank you Michele for taking the time to reflect and answer these questions for me. I think it gives us participants perspective on why you do what you do. I know that everyone is grateful for all the hard work you put into ensuring our success. I am grateful for your commitment and everything BDHQ does for the community. I would not be the person I am today without your help.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Looking Back - Why? How?

I've been asked alot lately what have I been doing to lose all this weight? I think because I started a new job in November alot of people didn't know the old me, they didn't see the whole transition, so now that I've been there awhile they've seen a difference from November to now. This got me thinking about a couple things, one is unsolicited advice and the other is why I started in the first place.

What I mean by unsolicited advice is something i'm sure many people have come across regardless if you are on a weight loss journey or not. It used to really bother me when people would come up to me and try and tell me how to lose weight. Stuff like "you know you shouldn't eat that" or "you know you should take this supplement or that" or "you shouldn't work out so much, it's not good for you". I find it funny when this so called advice is coming from people who have weight issues of their own. I would never randomly go up to someone and tell them what they should or should not do. If someone asks me, sure i'll answer anything, but i'm not going to tell anyone how to live their life. I really have been doing this long enough to know my body, my emotions and know what works for me, but it may not be the same for someone else. So why was I thinking of unsolicited advice? Well I just realized that the more people see me successful in my weight loss efforts, I've noticed, that the questions/comments shift from unsolicited advice to questions on how i'm doing this and why.

So when people ask me how i'm doing this I tell them about the amazing support system I have at BDHQ and my commitment to clean eating principles. I truly believe that every great success is an accumulation of thousands of ordinary efforts that no one else sees or appreciates. No one sees the time that is put in each week to make sure that I am prepared to eat clean, or the time I spend each night to organize myself for the next day, or the things I say no to so that I can be focused. No one sees the emotional struggle that is attached to all of this. Wanting to sit there with your friends and drink alcohol but choosing to drink water or having pizza but eating chicken and salad instead. No one sees how hard it is to get up at 5:30AM to work out when all you want to do is curl up under the warm warm blanket and turn the alarm off. But people do see the success, they see the difference in my body, in my attitude, in my ability to function at work because I have control of the other aspects of my life. I am proud of this, I am proud that I have the ability to balance all of this and be successful in my health journey. I am proud that I can help other people achieve the same success. I am proud that people ask me for advice (not unsolicited advice that I offer up).

Now with respect to the question, WHY? I honestly haven't thought about this in a long time, it's been over three years and i've lost 175 lbs so you kind of lose that "why" after you've been doing it this long, now it's just "i'm doing it because this is habbit, this is my life". But if I think back, I really had to hit a rock bottom place before I could start. I had to admit to myself that I needed help and needed to change. I needed to find that strength inside to say "I want this more than I want food"

I honestly look at this picture and can't even remember myself at that weight. I still feel like the same person, because I am, i'm just a much smaller version of me. But what I do remember is that I didn't think that I was that big, I knew I had to lose weight, but I seriously thought I wasnt that big. Now I look at that picture and I wonder how I let myself get there. All I know now is that the specific reason why someone starts boils down to them wanting it, you cannot want it for your friend, spouse, family member or loved one. You cannot make anyone do this and if you do they will just resent you and it will result in failure. One must make the decision that they are important enough to do this. I wish I could just reach out and make that change for all those people who are struggling, but it has to come from them. The decision to change is yours and yours alone and I am so grateful that for the first time in my life I decided that I AM WORTH IT!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pushing Through Fear

Another busy weekend is almost over. I'm so loving the 4 day work week!! Friday was salsa dancing at the Victoria Events Centre. A couple people from my work and some from bootcamp came to join me to learn some basic salsa steps.

It was nice to get a little dressed up and do something different. The teacher was funny and made it really enjoyable and comfortable. I would defiantly go back and try it again. After the one hour lesson all the "experienced" dancers showed up, that's when I just stood back and watched.

Saturday was long run in the morning. Tricia, Tonia, Sarah, John and I went out to Elk/Beaver Lake. Sarah & Tonia did 10K, John did 12K and Tricia joined me for my 14K training run. I was super impressed with our time which was a running pace of 6:08/KM taking a total of 1:30 to run 14KM doing 10 and 1s. It was much easier on my knees being on the trail as opposed to the road but I know I need to do training on the road as well since the 1/2 will be all on the road. Surprisingly enough when I was at 14KM I actually felt like I could keep going, whereas last week at only 12KM I was struggling. I'm really enjoying doing this training and pushing myself further and further each week but I know I will be happy when it's over and I can just run for the enjoyment of it instead of training. Though, knowing me I will have to find a new race to work towards. We will do 14KM again this coming Saturday and then work up to 16KM.

After the run we went with Sarah and Aaron out to Wildplay by Juan de Fuca Rec Center. We've had groupons for Wildplay for about 8 months, and it was another item on my bucket list.

Heights kinda freak me out but I don't have an overwhelming fear of them like some people. There are four levels of challenges, well they call them "games", the first two levels were okay for me. Really it is a mental game more than a physical game, you have to trust your ability to get yourself through it. Level three got a bit harder and there were a couple games that freaked me out a bit. After level three you come down to the ground and you can choose to go back up to the fourth and final level or to stop. Well I don't do anything 1/2 way so I went back up for level four of the coarse. This is where I faced some serious fear. I really had a full blown panic attack full of shaking and tears. Thank god Sarah and Aaron were there to talk me through it. Challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are, in this case I discovered I am stronger than I thought I was. I could have given up and just let myself hang on the safety line but I didn't, I pushed through and completed every single game. I am proud of myself, and will even go back if that tells you anything. It is really about overcoming those fears and pushing through and in doing that I become a better person.

Sunday was weigh in time, I had been anticipating getting to a big goal this week but it didn't happen. Last week I weighed in at 180.6, once I get to 180 that will mean I will have lost 50% of my original starting weight. Unfortunately this week I went back up, and up 4lbs. This is the same exact challenge I faced when trying to get under 200lbs, I was stuck there for almost 2 months and it frustrated me so much. It's almost like your body knows and just is revolting against you. I have a much different attitude about it this time. I know that I have done what I could do this week to ensure success while still living my life so in no way am I mad at myself. I am responsible for each and every choice I made this week, including a decision to drink alcohol so I accept the results of that. I have been doing this long enough to know that I still need to live my life and have balance. It will happen, and the number will move, but really it is no longer relevant. I focus much more on all the things I can do that I couldn't before, like Wildplay, salsa dancing and running 14KM.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I am ME

Let me introduce you to ME..Well most of you know me, but I wanted to reflect and journal who I feel I am presently: happy, excited and alive. Such a unique place to be, to feel so content in who I am.

I am unique and the only me, in all the world I am the only me.
I give 110% in life.
I believe in taking responsibility for my choices, therefore I own every decision I make.
I own my successes and my failures and believe that every success and failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.
I believe I have the power to change the direction of my life.
I believe I can accomplish anything and everything I set my mind to.
I own my body and take responsibility for being kind and nourishing to it; healthy foods and an active lifestyle.
I use the words "I can't" to prove my commitment: I can't stop, quit, give up, let the pain get the best of me, be lazy, or let others down.
I like to win, I am competitive but am a good sport at the same time. Mostly I am competitive with myself.
I own my feelings, good or bad, I recognize they have a place and a purpose.
I am a people pleaser, I want to make sure everyone is taken care of.
I am passionate about helping people achieve their goals and it disheartens me when I see people give up before they even begin.
I like to have fun and try new things.
I love my life and honestly wouldn't trade places with anyone.

"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well" - Diane Akerman

Take me or leave me, this is me. Who are you? What do you project to the world? I hope that who I believe I am is what I project.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Bucket List: Zip Lining

Back to work tomorrow :(, I LOVE long weekends!! John went away camping on Friday and Saturday so I had the house all to myself - though I wasn't all that productive at home. Saturday I started my day off with a 12K run with Tricia, Carol, Christa and Tonia. We did the same route as last week, from the studio to the end of clover point and back, 12.2 KM in 1:20mins. Then I had a lovely mani/pedi at Rachel D's Nails which recently moved very close to my house. My feet were in need of some much needed TLC after all the running i've been doing. Then it was off to Shawnigan Lake for the day to visit my friend Tammy. She has a wonderful house right on the lake, and it was beautiful out. It was nice to do "nothing" for a change. Sunday was BW's in the morning then I had to go get John at the ferry and head out to Sooke for ziplining.

Here are some photos of the gutsy participants for Sunday's adventure

Some even did some cool tricks...

Lovisa trying to hang on...that's a pretty cool trick!

Melissa look at you go!! Big Shout Out to you for just being Melissa :)

Nicki, that's a pretty cool move you've got there

Me getting myself upside down

Sherry taking the leap of faith on her first zipline - commitment, no turning back. SOOOO proud of you for conquering your fear - you did amazing.

It was a great day and the staff at Adrenaline Zip line were amazing. Given I changed the reservation about ten times I was super impressed with the level of customer service I received from them. Not so impressed with the service we received at 17 Mile Pub, but once we got the right food it was delicious.

Today was outdoor bootcamp at McMinn in the morning then a BBQ at Willows Beach for John's birthday which is on Wednesday - thanks to everyone who turned out, it was a great afternoon.

Back to work tomorrow, at least it's only four days.