Saturday, December 29, 2012

December Frenzy

Coming in for a the last two weeks have just flown by. Normally I am pretty organized when it comes to Christmas and this time of year but this year I was one of those "last minute shoppers". I worked myself up into a state of stress and just pushed it to the back of my head and "avoided" until I really couldn't avoid anymore. With a little help from a friend I did what I know works when I get overwhelmed. I made a list of everything I needed to do to reach my shopping goal and I did ALL my Christmas shopping in 2 hours, and even most of it during my work day. I realized it's all the same, weight loss, stress, lifestyle, whatever were "worked up" about. Take a step back and evaluate the steps needed to get to the end and it all makes so much more sense.

I had one of the most amazing Christmas's this year. Really it wasn't different than any other year, but it was my outlook on the season that changed. Over these last few months I have completely transformed the way I interact with people. I let go of taking on other peoples "things"; I let go of creating meaning out of other people's actions. Really I have just been more at peace with myself and thus there is no space for negativity to enter. There were no fights, just fun. John and I had our first ever open house at our condo. In past, I would have been concerned about the people who didn't come, or about the people who said they would but didn't. In the past I may have made a story out of that and made it mean that they didn't like me. This year, with letting that all go, we just had a really fun time and a packed house.

The other reason I could say Christmas was so special was that John surprised me with my gift, I started crying. I really wanted to go see Oprah - who is coming to Vancouver on January 24th to speak - but the tickets were so expensive and I didn't have anyone to go with. He completely surprised me and bought me a ticket right next to my amazing friend Sarah.

I'm beyond excited to enter 2013 and continue to create my life centered around impacting people's health and well being. I am continuing on as a Biggest Winners ambassador and standing for every person seeing success in the program. I am finishing my book and publishing it in 2013. Im also working on creating workshops and a coaching program. I'm on the path to truly live the life I love.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Transformation of the Month: Susie Bowles

This month's transformation is dedicated to Susie who has had an amazing transformation and isn't even done yet.

This is Susie before...299.6 pounds

and this is Susie now...186 pounds

And here is Susie's story...

I feel like I should give a little bit of background on my story to put this into context. I’m in my last year at UVic, taking the Elementary Education Program. When Bri asked if I’d be willing to share my story on her blog I was so honored. My best friend sent me a link to her blog in the summer and within two weeks of reading it, I had signed up for the Biggest Winner's program. It’s changed my life in so many wonderful ways and I was giddy thinking that I would be on the blog that inspired me to join the program. After I started actually writing however, the feeling of awe was replaced by dread when I started debating how much I should or shouldn't reveal about myself. I thought for a long time about it, but eventually decided that I would be up front and honest. I’m not ashamed of my past anymore, and maybe telling my story will help another person. My story is that I am a binge eater that hides food, which got me to 300 pounds. I was sexually abused as a child and I unintentionally let that control my life up until a year ago. I say unintentionally because I buried the memories long ago. It wasn't until I started asking myself why I regained all the weight I had previously lost that the memories came back and I’ve been able to start the healing process. I’m not entirely comfortable with the world knowing about my abuse because while it is a part of me, it doesn’t define me or my weight loss journey, it is merely a part of it. But at the same time, not talking about my abuse led me to where I was 15 months ago. Added to that, it bothers me to no end that child sexual abuse seems to be a taboo subject when it happens so scarily often. Opening up about it now will, I hope, have the triple benefit of furthering my own healing, perhaps helping someone else with their own, and bringing the issue of child abuse up from under the table.

When did you start your weight loss journey?
My desire to finally do something with my weight started towards the end of high school because I didn’t want to be the “Fat Girl” during university. My best friend and I joined Curves and were pretty faithful for a month or so. It didn’t stick though and by the end of my first year at UVic I was over 300 pounds. My highest recorded weight on a scale is 299.6 but I had already been eating healthy for a few weeks when I weighed in. That’s when I started Weight Watchers and Curves as a combo the first time, and lost 60 pounds. I say “first time” because like many others, I didn’t put in a lot of emotional work and eventually regained it all, plus 10 pounds. I could count my points and exercise all I wanted, but it couldn’t be the “lifestyle change” I preached until I dealt with what was going on in my head. I decided to take back control of my health again in May 2011 and haven’t looked back since.

How long have you struggled with weight?
I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I always had a little bit of chub as a kid, but I was fairly active. It wasn’t until grade 2 that I really started packing on the pounds. By the time I was in grade 8, I remember coming up with excuses to get out of shopping with friends because I didn’t want anyone to know that I had to shop in plus size stores. It’s taken me the better part of this past year to really dive into why I struggled with my weight. When my best friend put two and two together and saw that my major weight gain corresponded with when my abuse started, that’s when things got really serious for me. I’ve come to realize that I first started using food as a way to escape and deal with my emotions. At some point, my weight became my safety blanket.

What was the deciding factor to get you started?
I’ve always felt that I was missing out on a part of life because I was fat, and that I wasn’t really being the person I was meant to be. That’s usually what would get me started... finally getting sick and tired of feeling like crap. This past year, however, I had different reasons for starting up again and I feel like those have defined how “this time” is different from any other time. I was diagnosed with arthritis in my knee days before leaving Victoria to do a three week practicum in a grade one class. I felt horrible during that practicum. I’d get out of breath just getting on and off the carpet. I realized that if I couldn’t be the teacher I wanted to be at my current weight. What type of role model was I? So obese that at 22, I had arthritis in my knee. Turning to food anytime I felt stressed, upset, angry, sad or happy. I also know I want a family eventually and I wanted to be a better role model for my children.

When you are having a tough time finding motivation to continue what do you do?
Funny you should ask - I’m coming out of a motivational funk right now! The last few months my weight hasn’t changed much because I’ve been dealing with more emotional work. I’ve finally started reaching out to my support network more this month and the difference has been amazing. I have some of the best people in my life, and the further I get in my journey, the more wonderful people I meet. Between my friends at school, roommates, family, and now the Biggest Winner program, I’ve got a solid support system that offer advice, suggestions or just a shoulder to lean on. The other thing I rely on quite a bit is my blog. I post every entry to facebook and I pride myself on being honest. That means admitting when I’ve over indulged or am feeling down and struggling. Knowing that anyone on my facebook page will know if I decided to skip out on the gym usually gets my butt in gear. I’ve also had many people thank me for my honesty and say that it is inspiring, so that definitely helps with motivation.

What are some of the most meaningful feats you have accomplished on
your journey? Why?

I think the top two things I’ve accomplished have been dealing with my emotional relationship with food and seeing how much I can do physically!

I’ve used food as a way to deal with my emotions (the good and the bad) for so long, it was very hard to admit to myself that I needed to find a better way. It was even harder to actually change. It’s been a tough back and forth battle for the past 4 years, but I’m happy to say that while I’m nowhere near perfect, I am proud of where I am. One I realized the connection between food and my abuse, I got really angry. I felt like up until that point, food had all the control over me and I refused to let it continue that way. I wanted to be in control of my life and my choices. I had a really tough practicum in April and May and for the first time in my life I didn’t turn to food when I felt like I was nearing rock bottom. Instead I joined BDHQ – which definitely worked out better for me. 

Fitness wise, I’ve been pushing myself physically and am amazed at what I’ve been able to do. This past August I did the Warrior Dash, a 5km obstacle run up and down Mt Seymour (and up and down, up and down). Then, this October I ran the GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon in 2 hours 39 minutes. As someone who at the beginning of the summer got winded from running to the mailbox, I am so proud of what I accomplished! I had always wanted to do stuff like this but I had labeled it as something “skinny people” do. Now I know that my weight does not need to hold me back and I can do anything I set my mind to.

If you could tell your old self one thing before you started what would that be?
Be kind to yourself. You are about to embark on a journey that will challenge everything you think you know about yourself and it will change your life forever. This is not an easy task, but it is so worth it. There will be times during this journey that you will be overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally, but just remember to take it one day at a time. Also, put these two quotes up on your wall because they become your mantra:
“Success if the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

What is the biggest, non physical, difference you notice in yourself?
Hands down, my confidence level. This surprises some of the people who know me because apparently to the outside world I always seemed happy and confident. I was really good at hiding what was going on inside my head. Inside, I was second guessing everything and always afraid to share my opinion. Heck, half the time I was afraid of forming my own opinion. I wanted people to like me and I never wanted to rock the boat. Joining the Biggest Winner program has been one of the biggest reasons for this change. I can’t really explain why, but just knowing what I can do physically has a huge impact on my confidence. I’ve also noticed a huge shift in how I talk to myself, which I know plays into confidence level. I was my own worst enemy, full of negative self-talk. It quite literally destroyed most of my self esteem. This is still something I’m working on, but I’ve come leaps and bounds from where I used to be. When I am exercising and feel like I need to stop or give up, I just give myself a quick pep talk and all the sudden I’ve got the energy to keep going. It’s great.

What is next for you?
Man, wouldn’t I like to know the answer to this question. I’m at an interesting time in my life. In 5 months I will be a UVic grad with a fresh B.Ed. I know that as soon as possible I’ll be going overseas, for either travel or teaching or probably both. But I’m right now wondering what I want to do with my life. Do I want to be a teacher? Do I want to use my experiences with weight loss somehow? What about abuse, should I try to do something to help that? All these questions are floating around inside my head right now and every day I remind myself to take a breath and stop worrying. What is meant to be will happen. No matter how much I’d like to think otherwise, I can’t plan out every step of my life. The more I remind myself of this, the more I realize I like living this way. I can’t control or predict what will happen to me. What I can do is make healthy choices every day. So what’s next for me is surviving these last few months of school. It will be an incredibly busy time with school, practicum, and life, but I am determined to keep being healthy. I feel so much stronger when I’m eating clean and exercising so I will continue to make it a priority in my life.

Anything else you'd like to share...
I want to say a huge thank you to Bri for allowing me to share my story. It’s hard to talk about such personal things, especially on the internet, but so far I’ve always been glad I have. I’m also so thankful for my support system, especially at BDHQ. Having people that understand what you’re going through, and all your ups and down is incredibly important.

Very proud of everything you have accomplished Susie, you are an inspiration and will do amazing things in this world regardless of where your life takes you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A New Me

Look at how life gets away from you when you are engaged and living. I just realized I haven't even updated my readers on my speech at Journey to Balance, let alone an update on the most transforming weekend of my life.

First things first, the speech. Let me tell you it was one of the starriest things I've done so far but I went into it with excitement. I went into it with the possibility of empowering someone to change their life. Now there was not 40 people there, but I would have felt the same regardless if there were 4 people or 400 people. Sharing yourself and being authentic about who you are in this world is extremely vulnerable. Unfortunately it was not taped so I don't have a video to share, but what I can share is the impact that it had on me. I recognize how powerful words are. I stood there living as a true example of someone who transformed body, mind and spirit. I shared myself and in return got a standing ovation and a personal sense of power I have never experienced.

Next...I was asked to contribute to a book called 1000 Tips for Teenagers along with 120 other passionate people. The book launched on November 20th which was National Child's day. I am super excited to receive my copy and see all the other contributions to this book. I know it will change many young lives. The book even made top 100 status in it's catagory, ranking #13 out of thousands of books. Kudos to all the contributors for taking a stand for teens and young adults to take charge of their lives.

What can be left, I just re-read what I wrote and that seems like alot of "stuff" going on for just a few days...What's left is the results of a life changing weekend. In August I completed the Landmark Forum and got power in my life back, but something was still lacking for me. There was still a small part of me that felt dis-empowered with respect to my body image. To be more specific, I was still, deep down, shameful of my weight loss. I felt personally responsible for where I got myself so I felt ashamed to be proud of the fact that I have lost 190 pounds. I realized over this weekend that I have been dis-empowering myself and those that I claim to be a leader for. This weekend I claimed my power back. I saw, for the first time ever, that my purpose on this planet is much bigger than simply a girl who lost 190 pounds. My purpose is to empower those I touch to find personal strength to take charge of their health. Something that the forum leader said was "when you are truly fulfilled in life and doing what you love, living for a purpose, you do not need food to fulfill you". Another thing that hit home was seeing really why I wasn't losing the "last 10 pounds". Any time you want something but aren't doing it there is a reason. Action produces results, but the source of getting action is being authentic with yourself about why you aren't acting. So when it comes to keeping weight on and not following through there is a pay off in it for you. A pay off isn't necessarily a good thing, it can be a way of protecting you. For me, I realized my entire way of being when it comes to conflict is to push people away. It is safer to push people away then to allow them in and take a chance that they may leave me. My pay off for keeping the last 10 pounds on has been that I get to continue to be the girl losing weight instead of the powerful girl who is impacting change in the world. Because being the girl losing weight is safer than being a person who stands up for others successes. My pay off has been playing it safe and not sharing that last vulnerable piece of myself.

The results of all this realization, I had some pretty amazing conversations with my siblings that I have never had. I opened my heart fully and shared exactly what I wrote above. I can now, completely and honestly, say that I feel like a different person inside and out. This is a picture of my sister and I at the completion of the Landmark Advanced Course last night. For me, even looking at this picutre, I can see myself as a different person...happier and confident, ready to take on whatever is next. Bring it on world, bring it on!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Life Updated: Part 2

Last week I shared with all of you how I had taken the scale out of my life and was preparing to share my journey publicly at Journey to Balance which happens to be tomorrow afternoon.

So what could be more exciting than this? Well on top of this I started the Landmark Seminar series which runs for ten weeks. Our first session was last week. I was struggling with even going because it means giving up Wednesday night BWs in order to attend this for ten weeks. On one hand I knew it was important for me to finish my commitment and do the seminar but on the other hand I didn't want to miss class. Not only did I commit to attending, but I even volunteered to be a group leader. Opening the possibility in my life of being even more of a leader and stand for what I believe in. We talked about how each complaint is really a possibility in your life to create something.

What I realized was going on for me was the big complaint of "i'm not good enough". So that's pretty broad, but with this upcoming speaking and feeling nervous about it I realized this complaint was really creating an environment in my head where I was doubting my own ability to do this. To be more specific I think the complaint really is "my story isn't important enough, no one want's to hear about me anyway". Because I was replaying this complaint in my head I was doubting that I was going to be able to deliver an empowering speech. Then I realized, well obviously this is a silly complaint because I was asked to come and share my story so it must be important enough. And what is really important to me? Empowering others to make changes in their lives. Instead of this complaint I am choosing to create a possibility of delivering my story with confidence and just being me. So ready or not here I come!

On a more low key scale of excitement we got out new fridge delivered today. At this moment our kitchen looks like we hoard food with two fridges, but that will be resolved on Monday when the old one gets picked up by BC Hydro. ALSO for the first time in five years my home office is finally organized and de-cluttered - it's so freeing!!

How much more exciting can this get? Guess i'll have to see what happens tomorrow :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life Updated

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about taking away the scale. These last few months I have been far too focused on the number which has actually had the opposite effect on me. For the first time ever I did not make my weight for the ten pound challenge, self sabotage took over. I could have done it, absolutely, but choices were made and consequences paid. So in order to get myself in the right head space I had to refocus myself and separate the number from my accomplishments and feelings. I found myself starting to weigh in at home after eating certain foods or mornings after higher calorie meals to see where I was. I started using the scale as a way to enable myself to eat more, because I had been "good". I don't like this. Last week I made a decision that I would put away my scale. I would not weigh myself one more time until the end of this Biggest Winner session, not even on Sundays. I have left the authority in Michele's hands that if I am not being accountable to the program, not writing in my book or appear to have gained 50 pounds this past week then she can weigh me, but I don't want to know. I need this time to refocus my head.

It has been an interesting week, I've caught myself wanting to weigh in and was able to recognize that those times I wanted to were times where I was losing doubt in my abilities to trust that I was capable. By stopping this cycle my aim is to develop my trust more and more in knowing that I would never go backwards. See, I know I won't go backwards but I think inwardly I don't necessarily trust that right now. It will be an interesting next 6 weeks and an experiment in developing my own self trust.

I have even more exciting news to share. At first I wasn't actually excited about this, actually I was petrified, but i'm turning the tables and am now excited. I was asked to share my story at an event on Sunday November 18th here in Victoria. It is called Journey to Balance, it is open to the public and will raise money to benefit PEERs Victoria Resource Centre. I have ten minutes to speak and share my own journey, it's exciting and scary all at the same time. Please like the page on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. This step of me sharing my story publicly is all about me creating the possibility of my life of being a stand for people making healthy changes. We all have that power in ourselves, we just have to dig deep and make it happen.

Update #2 on even more exciting news to come in a few days...stay tuned :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Transformation of the Month: Jim Roepcke

A new month, means a new success story to highlight. So many proud moments happening, people accomplishing some big goals, it's always inspiring to see. November's success story is the male winner of our last session. Jim lost an incredible 40.2 pounds in 12 weeks. Take a look at his before and after pictures.

And here is Jim's story..

What was your heaviest weight?
I was 349 in May 2005, and despite getting 308 in 2007, back to 346 on January 2nd, 2012, the day of my big gall bladder attack.

What is your current weight?
This morning (October 13) I weighed myself at 276.2, a new low. That's down 12.6 pounds from the end of the summer BW session.

What is your goal weight?
Currently 230, but when I get there I will reevaluate and maybe set a lower goal weight.

How long have you struggled with weight?
From the age of 11, but it wasn't serious (because I kept active to keep it under control) until I was out of high school and no longer as active. I gained 30 pounds in the first year after high school, and 20 more pounds in the 6 months that followed that. At that point, at the age of 20, I destroyed my knee in a stupid avoidable accident, and after that I put on even more weight, which I still haven't taken off.
I lost 50 pounds (from 320 to 270) in 2000, and then gained it all back and more from 2001 to 2005.

What made you decide to join BWs?
I knew that if I had an environment where I could work out in a group setting with people with similar challenges and goals as me, have support and accountability, that I would flourish. I wanted to join a year earlier, but other commitments, financial uncertainty and a gallbladder disease made it impossible. Things finally lined up in June 2012, and I was joined for the July-September session.

What is the biggest non physical change you notice?
I'm happier and more confident. I look back at the summer of 2012 as the very best time of my life.

What is the biggest physical change?
Biggest? There are so many, and I'm not sure how to order them. Obviously, I'm much smaller and fit smaller clothes, and not carrying around so much extra weight means my stamina and agility has improved when playing sports and during other kinds of activities. I'm significantly stronger.

How do you involve your family in your weight loss journey? are they supportive?
My wife Cheryl is incredibly supportive! She joined BW for the first month. She has her own weight loss goal, and she's nearly there! In fact she's at "The Drill" at BDHQ as I write this on a Saturday morning. I don't know how to cook, so I really wanted Cheryl to join with me so we'd be on the same page as far as the nutritional guidelines went.

My kids and the rest of my family have also been very supportive and encouraging. This helps more than I can say.

What is your proudest moment in the last twelve weeks?
Wearing clothes I bought for myself at the start of a vacation to San Francisco in June 2009 but was never able to wear because I gained 15 pounds there in 2 weeks. Now those clothes are too big for me too. Oh, and now that I've read Rebecca's interview, I now remember being incredibly proud that I lost 3.6 pounds over the week I worked in San Francisco in late July. Previously I'd never gained less than 10 pounds during a week in San Francisco.

What are your fitness goals?
I want to be able play tennis and squash like I could when I was a teenager without worrying about my knee. I want to be strong and fit enough to play goalie in hockey. I've promised myself goalie gear when I get to 230 if I still want to play goalie then.
Most of all I want to be fit for life and never ever go back to an unhealthy lifestyle.

What is the most important thing that you have learned?
The most important thing I learned in BW was goal setting. For the first time in my adult life I have realistic, achievable long term goals! After the first week, once I believed I could do it, I set a goal to be the Biggest Winner for the session, but I didn't share it. That goal drove me more than anything.

Thanks for sharing your story Jim, you look fantastic and are achieving some big goals. Very proud of everything you have accomplished.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Take Away the Scale

Far to often those of us on a health journey get caught up with the number on the scale. Heck, I do it, I signed up for the 10 pound challenge and it turned it to me re-obsessing about the number on the scale. As of last week though I decided that I was letting it all go. I didn't like feeling like the number was controlling my feels or what I thought of myself. I am much more than a number on a scale. It is important to remember the non scale victories, the accomplishments and above all that who you are is not a number you are unique and special.

Wouldn't it be amazing if our scales said positive things like this, instead of a boring old number that defines nothing?

Here are MY reasons for not allowing the scale to define my self worth.

8. The scale doesn't tell me who loves me and cares about me
7. The scale doesn't define my intelligence or my ability to do my job
6. The scale can't tell me how fabulous I look after just getting ready for a night out
5. The scale doesn't know about the conversations i've had with people or the joy I get from inspiring someone to make positive changes
4. The scale can't tell me how amazing the feeling of soar legs are after a run
4. The scale can't take away from the physical accomplishments i've met
2. The scale doesn't know anything about the emotional hurdles i've overcome and how much stronger of a person I am

and my #1 reason for not allowing the scale to define my self worth...The scale does not tell my story, I do by living with integrity every day. When I do everything I am supposed to do to live a healthy life (drink lots of water, eat clean, move my body) then the number does not define anything for me, it is just a number.

What are your reasons for not allowing the scale define you? What are you proud of?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Keepin' it Simple

This week we focused on keeping it simple. Especially when starting on a weight loss journey, it is often overwhelming to change everything at once. So the focus was just to pick simple foods, no need to try a new recipe every week. I practice the simple technique alot, in fact I actually make "trying a new recipe" a goal because I find my food to often be very boring. But boring works, boring keeps me focused and on track (most of the time).

My struggle this week was getting back from a trip, not feeling like I had time to get organized, getting my period and feeling hormonal...all a compound effect that led to not nearly as good of a food week than I needed. All of this was also compounded by the added stress of knowing I have to weigh in for the ten pound challenge in a couple of weeks. I'm not quite sure what came over my decision making parts of my brain when deciding to join the challenge as I know every other time I've done it it has messed with my head and had the opposite effect on my motivation. This time I have two weeks to lose nearly 10 lbs, its just not realistic to make it happen. Sure I could go drastic and I could lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks but it would not be done in a healthy way. I am committed to having a good food week, lots of workouts and water and if my body wants to let go of 10 lbs in 2 weeks then fantastic, if not then that's ok too. I am at peace with whatever happens. I am not willing to be drastic because that will lead me right back to gaining the weight again.

This week my goal is to make my 3 BDHQ workouts and then add in 2 days of swimming laps and 1 short 5K run. I'm feeling very optimistic with my running and even ran up a hill three times today!! that is three times in an entire year and I did it today - woohoo! Patience and persistence, that's what im practicing this week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Me Vs. The Bully

Anti-Bullying has been a topic that has been in the media a lot recently. The first story that went viral was that of Jennifer Livingston, a US news anchor who received a e-mail attacking her appearance and weight by one of her viewers. Instead of ignoring the email Jennifer spoke out against bullying and stood up for herself. Her story went viral on social media and received millions of views. The most recent story is the suicide of Amanda Todd. This young girl was a victim of bullying both online and in school. The torment led her to take her own life after previous failed attempts.

For me, both of these stories hit home on a deep and personal level. Jennifer Livingston, a successful and beautiful woman, was brave enough to stand up to her bully. The unnamed viewer had said she was a poor role model for young people for making the choice to be obese. Livingston's response was basically "you think I don't know that". She said "To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the colour of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face, listen to me right now: Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies."

For many years I allowed my self-worth to be defined by what other people thought of me, not any more. My self-worth is defined by me and only me, by what I define as important, my values and ethics. I am more than a number on a scale or the size of pants I wear. I am important and valuable in this world. It took me a long time to see things this way because, like I said, for years I allowed people's words to define how I felt about me. I allowed other people's opinions to impact my decisions in life. I have taken back control and am more conscious of my choices and decisions, I own them!

The second story, Amanda Todd, who took her life last week saddened me. I was fortunate enough to not endure serious bullying in High School, but I struggled. I remember sitting in the halls on lunch, alone, and see the popular boys walk by and laugh in my face. I sat there and snarfed down my chocolate bar. To be honest, when I look back on High School most of my memories are sad. I suffered with depression and it was not until after high school when I was out of my house that I was able to get a prescription for anti-depressants which helped turn things around. I felt alone in that time of my life, I was suicidal but suppressed those urges with food. It is a deep, dark, place to be in, to feel like no one loves you and that you are better off ending things. Most nights I would cry myself to sleep hoping I would wake up and the pain would be over. I am one of the lucky ones to survive through this, it came with wounds and scars, it came with significant weight gain but I have battled that now and I have overcome the emotional daemons that plagued me. I can say now I have the tools to deal with the darkness and my life is more full of light than dark. I came out of this a better person.

Something I realize now is that no matter how much I was made fun of in school, really the biggest bully I faced was myself. I said some pretty mean things to myself, I beat myself up daily for my weight and appearance, I secluded myself and withdrew from the world because I felt I deserved to feel that pain. Often we are the worst critics of ourselves, so my challenge for myself is to live each day with positivity in my heart. To be positive in my thoughts and beliefs, even though that is often very difficult. Be the best you - you can be and your world will reflect it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend

What an amazing and beautiful weekend it was here in Victoria. Thanksgiving weekend last year I was running the Good Life Victoria Half Marathon. This weekend I enjoyed two beautiful dinners, one at my Dad's and one at my in-laws. Kudos to the chefs! No pumpkin pie, indulged in two dark chocolates yesterday and today indulged in bread.

After today's dinner/lunch I had committed to going for a run/walk in preparation for my ultra sound tomorrow. In order to determine what is going on with my knee pain the doctor wants to run an ultra sound while my knee is inflamed. So today I was to go for a 5KM run, and again tomorrow right before the appointment. I tell you, after eating turkey at 2PM, the last thing I wanted to do was run 5KM, but I did. The weird thing is that I wasn't actually experiencing pain during the run, which is what has been happening every other time I run. This is awesome, but I don't trust that the pain wont come back yet, i've got to this place before of feeling better and then I go back to square one. I struggle with being in that place because I want so much to push myself, but I am terrified that if I do I will wind back up at the beginning and I have been working very hard these last couple months to re-hab it. Just taking it day by day though and see what the ultra sound brings.

But back to the theme of this weekend, giving thanks. There are so many things I have to be grateful for in my life.

#1: My family and friends who have supported me in this journey
#2: My health - my life is a total transformation from where I was just a few years ago.
#3: My will power - I was looking around at old photos and stumbled upon these. The photos make me incredibly grateful for my determination and strength in this journey.

#4: BDHQ and their support and dedication to their client's success
#5: My fitness buddies who get me going every day I just don't feel up to it
#6: The countless people I don't even know who have found strength from my journey, I am grateful that my experience has allowed you to find success

There are so many moments, people and experiences that I am grateful for. I am eternally grateful for everyone who reads and follows my blog and journey, it keeps me grounded and accountable. What are you grateful for in your life?

Friday, October 5, 2012

And the female winner is...

Can't let another month go without an amazing success story. Our most recent session of Biggest Winners ended a couple weeks ago. Because we have a growing number of male participants this last session there were two official winners. Jim and Rebecca. Congratulations to both amazing participants for their fantastic results, couldn't be more proud. They both look amazing. Today's post is dedicated to Rebecca and her journey of the up and downs of weight loss, check out her own inspiring words.

This is Rebecca before...

What was your heaviest weight?
Short Version: 272 pounds, the day my twins were born, That doesn't count, right? :)
Long Version: In 2007, after four years of trying to get pregnant, I was 248 lbs and when we had to seek help to get pregnant, it was strongly recommended I lose weight first (not really a surprise!). I lost 42 pounds and was 206 before getting pregnant in 2008. Then came the 272 pounds! However, I lost 50 pounds within two weeks of the babies' birth (let's just say I had a lot of water retention!). That was fun! In 2010, my BFF convinced me to join BDHQ (she not only bought me a gift certificate, she went with me to every workout!). When I was finally getting exercise, I went down to 188! This was better than my wedding weight in 2002! Then I injured myself running and then went back to work full time ...which led me to start BWs this July at 224. I am now 196 lbs.

What is your goal weight?
I'm not sure but I am looking forward to surpassing 188 (my lowest weight in 11 years). Then I look forward to surpassing 165 (which was the weight I was after Jenny Craig in 1999 but that didn't last long) and then I can't wait to be 155 (my weight when I started university in 1992). And anything past that will be a miracle - and really, really exciting!!

How long have you struggled with weight?
I've always considered myself a little chubby, but the real battle began when I stopped dancing at age 16.

What made you decide to join Biggest Winners?
Going back to work full-time after 2 1/2 years at home with my twins was way harder than I thought it was going to be! It was so overwhelmingly busy and exhausting... I gained 23 pounds in 10 months. I knew I was headed back to where I started from and I was scared. I was hoping to get myself back on track during the summer.

Then my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. To put it mildly, Life's had a shake up here. She has always been an inspiration to me - in many ways! I wanted to get healthy even more than before - to show my friend I appreciated her support all this time and that it wasn't a waste, and, now more than ever, for my family. I always, always, always went to BDHQ with my bud - never by myself. It was our social time - and I am so grateful to her for getting me started and keeping me company there! I knew that while she was unable to go, I was unlikely to go without her. I needed another reason to go.

What is the biggest non physical change you notice?
My determination and motivation! There is no question in my mind that I am going to show up for the next BW workout. I don't feel it's a choice. I don't even try to make up an excuse to allow myself to stay home. Joining BWs was like flipping a switch - all of a sudden, I was actually doing things I hadn't made time for all year - following a healthy eating plan, drinking 3 litres of water, getting more sleep, and working out!

What is the biggest physical change?
The legs and butt in my work pants are huge and ballooning around me! The waist is loose....but not loose enough yet.....

How do you involve your family in your weight loss journey? are they supportive?
I really want my family to be active together. I want my children to be healthy and happy - now and forever! I want us to hike together, bike together, enjoy life together! I desperately want to be a good role model for them. My kids are very supportive - even if they aren't conscious of it. When my daughter fell off the couch and was crying one night as I was attempting to leave for BWs, when I stayed home with her, she worried, "How will you get healthy if you don't go to the gym?" After seeing me write in my BW book so often, they will bring it to me sometimes after meal to remind me to fill it out. It was also inspiring to be compared with runners my kids saw on the street - "Look, Mommy, they are runners too - like you!". I love that my kids see me as a runner. When we finished this last session, my goal was to get my hubby to join BWs with me some day. He is starting this next session with me! I am excited for him to join me on this journey. I'm hoping I can show him the same support he has shown me.

What is your proudest moment in the last twelve weeks?
Losing weight while on vacation. I've never done that before! We were in Oregon for 8 days - I lost weight. We went camping up island for eight days - I lost weight!

And here is Rebecca NOW...

She looks absolutely fabulous. Every time I see her in the gym, even at 6AM, she is full of smiles. I'm blessed to be able to check in with her every day over email and get a little boost of my own. Rebecca I am so proud, as is everyone else in your life, of everything you are doing to be a healthier Mom, wife and friend. Can't wait to see what you look like after another 12 weeks.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Finding Body Confidence

This week we had no regular Biggest Winners workouts as it is our week between sessions. Some may look at this as an excuse to "cheat" but I look at it more as a way to regroup myself and prep for another session. I felt completely on track this week, saying no to temptations, getting my workouts in, getting over laryngitis. Unlike last week where I was feeling frustrated, I got myself back to a place of at least looking at things day by day and not worrying about the number so much.

I had a couple body image successes that I wanted to share with all of you. First, I have had this issue with wearing shirts that don't cover my stomach/skin flap. Even though I am always told that the outfit looks great, I always feel uncomfortable and try to pull the shirt down. I have not gone out in public in a shirt that showed the zipper of my jeans probably ever. This week I wore a shirt that was shorter, it doesn't show any skin, its just shorter and I looked at myself in the mirror and that feeling of being "off" was not there. It was like, ok I like this - I look good. I felt confident walking down the street. And of coarse no one said "look at that girl, that shirt is way too short". Even better, I didn't say that in my head! I'm not going to say i'll be comfortable all the time in shorter shirts, but this is a huge step for me.

Second, in my efforts to try to fall asleep last night I was reading some blogs and came across a post called half which is a self portrait post by Julia Kozerski who is an artist based in Milwaukee. This is an exert from the post: "These photographs are self-portraits. They serve as reflections of my experience and address and explore my physically and emotionally painful, private struggles with food, obsession, self-control, and self-image". Please note before viewing the post there is nudity, so be forewarned.

So in viewing this post I looked at the images of this beautiful and confident woman who was so brave to put herself out there for the world. I looked at these images and though, wow I am not alone! I knew other people had excess skin from significant weight loss, but seeing pictures of it is not common place. I have had a hard time separating my thoughts of my body being "overweight/heavy" with it just being what it is with excess skin. Literally I felt like those pictures were me, that is what I look like, I look in the mirror and that is what I see. But what I realized when I looked at these pictures was that it is ok. It doesn't matter that I have excess skin, the skin makes me who I am, it is my tattoo of my journey. Without this skin I would have never been heavy, I would have never walked this journey, I would never have met the people I met or done the things I've done. Who would I be without my skin? I wouldn't be who I am today. The decision I made last night was to just be one with my body, to accept it the way it is, not worry about the skin, and embrace it's beauty just the way it is. I can only hope that everyone can come to their own self realization about their body image. We are all beautiful and unique just the way we are, regardless of what shape/size we are.

In honor of my new found confidence I wanted to share a very personal picture that I have shown few people. A few months ago I had boudoir photos taken, I posted one photo, not very revealing. The following is an unedited/untouched photo that I asked the photographer to take. I am not ashamed of it, it is who I am and today I am celebrating that.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Working Through My Frustration

I'm trying really hard not to get discouraged right now. I've been back to work, back to my routine, and had an awesome food week and lots of water. I went swimming on Tuesday with Jaylene, had a great workout. I'm really proud of both of us for showing up and doing it! Went to a Landmark session on Wednesday night. Was feeling totally on track emotionally and physically, was in my grove. Then by Thursday I was getting sick, so lethargic, and yucky, Friday afternoon my voice was going and by 7PM Friday night I was pretty much out to the world. I have spent the entire day today on my couch with no energy to move, a sore throat and inability to breathe normally. Also, I went to my regular chiro/physio appointment and now there is a possibility that my knee issue is stemming not only from my pronated feet but from a possible cyst behind my knee cap which is causing fluid build up. The fix would involve a surgeon draining the cyst if that is even possible and that might not even fix it. Looks like I have to go back for more tests.

Like I said, i'm trying to be positive, to not get frustrated, but i'm human too and sometimes I can only take so much. I am focusing right now on keeping on track food wise, especially while all i'm doing is lying here on the couch and watching TV. I know the cold will pass, and before long I will be back to workouts. I know that all I can continue to do is be patient with my body and do what the professionals are telling me to do. But I can't deny feeling frustrating, in fact i'm allowing myself to feel frustrated instead of ruining my diet. I'm allowing myself to feel my feelings with my outlet being writing them out instead of stuffing them in.

Tomorrow is the last workout for this most recent Biggest Winners session. Even though I can't be there right now, i'm focusing on being grateful for this amazing group of people, this community, that I am a part of. The people who have supported me in this journey and inspire me every day to not go backwards, even when I feel frustrated like I do right now. A support network is something that is extremely important in long term weight management. Without this, I don't think I would be able to maintain the weight range I am in right now. Look around you, who is your support network? Who do you turn to for inspiration when times get tough? Keep those people close, cherish those relationships, long-term your journey will be just a little bit smoother over those bumps in the road.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back & Focused

It's half way through September already, where did the time go? I feel like I haven't sat down in the last two weeks, but that's not a bad thing. I love being busy, being engaged in life and living. Though sometimes I do just like to chill and home and vegg out in front of the TV.

In August I finished the Landmark Forum in which I was able to get some deeper understanding of who I am, why I react the way I react, and how to move forward in life. It's been an interesting dynamic living the last month in this head space of being fully aware. I feel "lighter", though the scale does not reflect that, it's more of a emotional lightness. I'm taking things day by day, moment by moment right now and trying to be very present to myself. After the Landmark Forum I went up to see my Mom on Savary Island, I have not stepped foot on that island in over a decade. The turmoil of our relationship, and the emotional blockage I had, prevented me from even considering me being there a possibility. Every time I though of it, I was physically ill, I felt threatened. But I did it, through much anxiety and self talk I got myself there, and just like anything else it isn't as bad as you imagine it to be. Of coarse there was "drama" there, but I was able to recognize it as nothing to do with me and not take it on.

Being totally honest, I gave in to huge emotional eating while I was away. I can't even begin to explain the amount of anxiety that overcame my body. The thing is that this time, for the first time, I actually was present to my body accepting the sugar as a way to deal with the feelings. I have "recognized" this in the past, and know that I've done it, but I can never actually say I "felt" it. I can't change the food I ate in that week, but I can own up to it and move forward. I was able to overcome some massive fears and grow as a person. Now, recognizing, the emotional eating I can learn to be that much more present to it happening. By the end of my trip, I wasn't giving in to any emotional cravings, I was so present that I could self-talk my way out of eating the crap. This will allow me to move forward in my weight loss journey and continue to get healthier. I signed up for the 10 lb challenge at BDHQ to keep myself accountable, 10 lbs in 8 weeks will get me back to my lowest.

After Savary I went to Toronto to visit a friend, with another friend, it was fun to get away but it reminded me what it was like to be with people who aren't as present as I am to "conscious eating". By that I mean, having to really think about and plan what and where i'm going to eat. Of coarse my friends are super understanding of my needs and we did chose restaurants I was able to make good choices at, but it was more the ability to ensure I was eating every 2-3 hours, and eating breakfast. Basically, very out of my own element.

I came home on Monday night, late, and the next morning I was scheduled to do a radio interview with a health coach. She had found me on twitter and asked to interview me on my journey, I was very nervous about this because it's one thing to write (you can write and erase and think) but with speaking you can't go back on your words, especially when the interview is live. For those that missed it, it has been recorded and you can listen to it here.

Now i'm back to work, at least for another few weeks before I head to Vegas for my cousin's wedding. I'm happy to be back working out and in control. These next few weeks I intent to be very strict with my food to get back into the grove, get back to swimming at least one day per week, and continue with chiro. What is your intention for this coming week? How will you move forward, and not backwards, in your journey? Persistence is far more important than perfection!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When I Grow Up

September - WOW - school's back, but not me. I'm just back to work. Pretty good news though, I got offered a permanent job with the feds so i'm not being sent back to the province anymore. I did love my province job and peeps, but was feeling a lot of stress with the impending pay cut so i'm relived that I get to stay put where I am.

September always makes me think back to school though. It was always exciting starting a new year, knowing I was that much closer to getting OUT! The question, what do you wanna be when you grow up? Some said doctors, some lawyers or teachers. My answer, I wanted to be beautiful and happy, I actually wrote that in a journal "I just want to be pretty and be noticed, I want to feel happy". Thinking back to my school days it was not a happy time for me, I was pretty alone, depressed and not liking life at all. I cried myself to sleep many nights or ate myself to the point of needing to pass out. What a complete 180 life has done since then. It makes me think of the Pussycat Dolls song "When I Grow Up"

When I grow up, I wanna be famous
I wanna be a star, I wanna be in movies
When I grow up, I wanna see the world
Drive nice cars, I wanna have groupies

When I grow up, be on TV
People know me, be on magazines
When I grow up, fresh and clean
Number one chick when I step out on the scene

But be careful what you wish for
'Cause you just might get it
You just might get it
You just might get it

I'm all grown up now and a much different person than I was 12 years ago when I was entering grade 12. I've seen lots of the world, drive a pretty nice car, have lots of friends (aka groupies ;)), been on TV, in a magazine and like to think of myself as pretty fresh and clean (except perhaps after a workout). I feel like the #1 chick when I go out, because I choose to put myself out there for the world to see, no hiding! Everything I wished for came true, it came true because I worked my ass off and challenged myself. So no need to be careful of what you wish for, just wish for what you want and make it happen! What do you WANT? Are you willing to do anything you need to make it happen? The one thing I believe more than anything is that you can have anything you want if you put your mind to it and do the work. Are you willing to work for what you want? I regret to inform you that no one is going to do it for you, so go out and make your wants into reality NOW, not 12 years from now.

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are" EE Cummings

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Landmark Learning

This past weekend I attended a workshop called the Landmark Forum. It was recommended to me by someone I have, only recently, had the pleasure of including in my life. It's a hard thing to explain what the weekend is exactly about. In a nut shell it was about discovering who I am and why I am the way I am.

I went into the weekend not having any idea what I was going to face, really I went into in blind but knew that several people in my life spoke highly of it. I went into it thinking that I was going to "fix" my issues and be a better person, I thought I was going to overcome my fears. Here is what I actually learned this weekend

1. I am perfect just the way I am at this moment. Nothing is wrong with me, my experiences and life up to now only make me who I am right now, perfect.

2. I learned how to recognize the relationships in my life where I have in-authenticity. The relationships where I have been unwilling to say certain things for fear of hurting the other person or fear of hurting myself. I made peace with those relationships (my mother, my brother and my husband) and have been completely honest and open. Those conversations were the scariest part of the weekend but I embraced them and did it anyway, it gave me closure.

3. I learned how my experiences have led me to be the person I am today. I learned my strong suites, the things that make me successful, are a product of my experiences. Landmark teaches that there are three main experiences in your life that shape and mold you. My experiences were as follows:
1) The first experience is something that happened very young where you think something is wrong and you failed to be a certain way so you choose to be another way. For me, at about 4 years old I developed encephalitis which caused me to suffer memory loss and all my basic functions including walking and eating. I was in a coma for over two weeks and am told I nearly died. Though I do not remember this experience, looking back I think that because I was so dependent on nurses, doctors and my parents to do things for me I told myself "I wont be the dependent one anymore, I will be self sufficient". From then on I always had to do things for myself.
2) The second experience is something that happens in your pre-teens when you are looking to belong. I remember in about grade six/seven I was in a play in school. I was the genie in Aladdin but there were two groups of kids performing the same play. I remember my entire class went to see the other group, no one from my class came to see me. From that moment on I felt like I was second best to everyone, I decided I would be better and try harder at everything to make people like me. I did things people wanted me to do to make them happy, not because I wanted to do them.
3) The third experiences happens as a teen/young adult where you decide you are on your own. For me, my parents divorce and my mother leaving which subsequently resulted in the loss of relationship for over seven years caused me to look at myself as unworthy and not good enough, I felt alone. I had failed to be good enough for her to stay, so I had to be the best at everything I did in order to prove my worth.

My three strong suites are self sufficient, reliable and determined. I learned that these are not bad things, in fact strong suites are what create results in our lives and without those three things I would have not been successful in my weight loss journey.

4. I learned that all of us are concerned about looking good to other people, we are scared of their responses or what they thing, we all play an internal dialogue in our head. I learned that letting go of looking good and doing what is authentic and real to you will produce more results than holding back.

5. I learned that it is okay to have fears, they don't go away. I learned you gain your power by embracing your fears and pushing past them anyway. For example, getting up and speaking at the mike was terrifying, but I did it anyway - every time even though I was scared.

6. I learned what my internal dialogue theme was, "i'm not good enough", that is the voice that plays in my head when I am resisting doing or saying something. But being authentic with the people around you will create deeper relationships.

7. I learned to ask for what I want, don't be afraid because you are no worse off than you were before you asked.

8. I learned that forgiveness isn't about the other person, as long as you get to say your piece and find closure, that is what matters.

9. I learned that my experience of a situation is just that, my experience. What happened happened, all I did was create a story from that experience.

10. I learned I am powerful beyond measure and that I will accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Like I said it is a difficult weekend to describe, the easiest way is to explain to you what I got out of it. The power of being in a room of 85 people who are all human beings living the human experience allowed me to see that I am not alone. I celebrate those people who did some amazingly scary things this weekend and I celebrate myself for creating closure in my life. I'm ready for the next step, creating a whole new life full of the possibility of open and honest relationships with those around me, inspiring others to find their inner strength and simply being me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

No One Alive is Youer than You

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Suess

Pay money to ask strangers to do random things for/with you? Why yes please, sounds lovely! That was what I got up to on this not so hot Saturday afternoon in Victoria. Something totally silly, fun and for nothing more than a few laughs. Something I likely would not consider doing a few months ago, make fun of myself? No thanks. My new leaf has been turned over and I am living a life of no fear, no worries, and no concern for what other people think as long as I am doing what is right for me and my beliefs. This means letting go of the notion that people may judge me for looking rediculous. Taking it day by day, experience by experience, but i'm getting there and having fun in the process.

Team 3 Eggs and a Couple'a Sausages was comprised of myself, Nicki & Brian, Rob and Melissa. Some Old Navy tshirts and iron ons did the trick along with our Dr. Seuss themed logos Egg 1, Egg 2, Egg 3 and Sausage 1, Sausage 2. We even had a Dr. Seuss backpack to further our team theme. Here are some more photos from our adventure filled day.

What adventure will be next, who knows - but i'm keeping my options open.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Life up to Now

Quick update for you on my life up to now. It has only been six days since my last post but I feel like I just packed about a month worth of living into these last six days

#1. I far exceeded my 500 word per day goal for writing, i'm at just over 5,000 words in the last six days. I'm almost done two whole chapters, crazy talk! Something I never expected to be doing is coming together very fast. Dreams becoming reality!

#2. Had my second swimming lesson at Gordon Head Recreation Centre with Michelle & Tricia. Making improvement, feeling stronger, and next week the teacher is putting together a masters swim class for the three of us. Of coarse the best part after is the hot tub though.

#3 I have been making good progress with my knee injury and been told i'm allowed to run for ten whole minutes every other day. This is huge progress for me, and I just have to keep being patient. I'm seeing improvement and that is what's important.

#4 We had our first every Biggest Winner Family Fun Day. Inclusive of past and present Biggest Winner participants. It was a gorgeous day at Mt. Doug playing soccer baseball, capture the flag and frisbee. No Family Fun Day is complete without a beautiful picnic and in true BDHQ style of coarse blood, sweat and tears. Looking forward to the next one.

#5 Had another amazing self discovery workshop. Really enjoying my new found friendships. It has helped me find a new confidence I never knew I had by having an incredibly safe place to share my inner thoughts and fears.

#6 Finished off our slo pitch season, which I unfortunately have been unable to play very much of due to my surgery. We had a tournament that went from Friday night to Sunday (today). We won two out of four games and made it into the semi-finals which were this afternoon. After one of the closest games we've ever played, that actually went into extra innings, Nicki scored our winning run to advance us to the finals. We were taken down by the top team in the division but I am so incredibly proud of how well our team played, some amazing plays. It was a ton of running for me, because I actually got on base a fair amount which was not my norm. At least we are allowed pinch runners so I just had to get myself to first base. Now it's rest and ice on my knee.

#7 On this day six years ago I married an amazing man who I am proud to call my husband. To celebrate our anniversary we spent the day at the ball field doing an activity we both enjoy. An activity I would never of imagined doing six years ago. Oh how our life has changed, and for the better.

Wow that is alot of stuff to pack into six days!! And bonus, I get to sleep in tomorrow.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Upcoming Project

I can't believe it's August already, crazy how fast the summer has progressed. These last two weeks have been busy with workouts, work, writing and life.

I took a course offered by Kathleen Mailer, a very successful self publisher and found of Today's Business Woman Magazine, on how to write, market and publish your own book. I've had this big goal in the back of my head for awhile of wanting to put my story into a book, but that little doubtful voice would always chime in and say "who would pay you money to read that?" or "you don't have that much to say". I left that course feeling so confident in my ability to do this. I've now written about 1000 words, which isn't a lot for a book but for me it's a start. Just starting is the hardest part. My goal is to write at least 500 words per day which is about a 30-60 minute time commitment (depending on the chapter). Now that i've put it out there, I know i'm committing to it - no fear, just do it.

I have some big goals and big ideas of what I want to do to create a new life, and for the first time every I actually feel confident enough to achieve them. I will be starting the process of looking for sponsorship and advertisers soon to be able to fund this big vision. Instead of being afraid that they will say no i'm just looking at it as i'm no worse off if they say no, I don't get what I don't ask for. So if you are a business owner or are looking to support me in this writing/publishing process contact me privately for more information on how we can collaborate.

Apart from all this writing/planning I also started swimming lessons this week with my friends Tricia and Michelle. It is only four sessions, but is teaching proper stroke and technique. I love to swim, but i'm not really the most efficient swimmer and my asthma acts up a lot. I practiced my new skills this morning at Thetis Lake with a lovely swim out to the island and back, boy my legs were sore and now i'm just dead tired. I'm thinking of one more day of swimming a week, on top of the lessons, to get some extra cardio in.

All ready for an on track week, food and workouts all planned, writing time scheduled and ME time so that I can keep my sanity.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Transformation of the Month: Stuart Fraser

For my regular readers you know that I like to feature success stories on this blog. The biggest reason is that I believe that I wouldn't be successful if I wasn't surrounding myself with others who were being successful. I'd be silly not to share these stories with everyone else. I have decided to make this a permanent monthly blog post, "transformation of the month", with the first success story being another Biggest Winner participant, Stuart Fraser. You may remember Lisa's story a few months ago, this is her husband and his guys perspective on weight loss journey. Truly an amazing person and has one of the best attitudes every, which is part of why he has been successful, we're all very proud of you Stuart.

How long have you struggled with weight?

Wow, what a question. I mean obvious given what this program is about but that’s the sort of thing I generally reply to in conversation with a joke like “Having children ruined my body” but really in writing I have to be honest and say I think I’ve struggled my whole life, or at least I’ve always seen myself as fat, even when I was young and played sports. I was always a bit chubby or 10-20 pounds overweight but around 20/25 years ago (right after I acquired children) I started gaining significantly and it was just a steady climb from there.

The demands of career and family took their toll. I worked long hours and spent my off time trying to make life work for my kids and others in my family. What I put on the back burner, (fully voluntarily by the way), was what worked for me personally. I stopped playing sports and looking after myself and spent more time indulging in various forms of slow suicide, disguised as self-care. This eventually of course led to depression about my life, health and weight, but it was nothing 3 beers and a medium pizza all to myself late at night wouldn’t fix. This cyclical behaviour became my idea of doing something that “worked” for me.

What was your "ah ha" moment that got you to join Biggest Winners?

For years I had suffered from a whole suite of physical issues, arthritis, bad joints, bad neck, bad shoulders, back ache, asthma and most significantly Ulcerative Colitis. This last one has landed me in the hospital a few times and put me on medical leave twice. They don’t know what causes it but it is certainly aggravated by diet and level of health. In fact for symptom relief they advocate a fitness program and diet control. I also knew, deep down inside me that a lot of the other symptoms would be less if I was more active but hey why admit that out loud.

So I was fully aware of my need to do something about my health but I was doing my best impression of Tutankhamen… King of De-Nile. I drank, I smoked and I ate crap like it was going out of style.

I can’t say there was really an “ah ha” moment for me, or at least that I noticed. What I can say however, is that there was inspiration and that came in the form of my lovely wife, Lisa. We had both talked for some time about our desire to be more active and to live healthier lives but I swear I would have never started down this road without her determination and courage. While I had previously been athletic and active in my younger years, Lisa had never played sports or done the kind of physical activities that I had done, yet it was she who pushed through our collective fear / inertia and got things going. Watching her transformation led me to realize how much I wanted that for myself too. I am truly grateful to her for her courage, dedication and honesty. Thank you my love.

What is the biggest, non-physical, change that you have noticed in yourself?

Happiness. I think I had been fairly depressed and “stuck” for ages, years really. It’s the sort of thing that creeps up on you and you don’t realize it. I think I lost myself bit by bit over the years and to be honest I’m rather enjoying discovering me again. There seems to be a long way to go so at least I know I’ll have that entertainment for some time to come

What is the biggest physical change that you have noticed in yourself?

90% of all my other aches and pains, that I would go weekly (and sometimes twice weekly) for physio and massage therapy to try and relieve have gone away. The last time I went for a massage was in February I think and that was more just for fun.

Also I have way more energy and pure physical ability. When I was young I walked everywhere. As an example, in my mid 20’s I lived in Vancouver near Stanley Park. I was unemployed there and would walk to UBC and back for something to do; and I enjoyed it. That went away slowly to the point where I’d take my car to go a couple of blocks. Now my energy level and desire to “hoof it” are back and I’m really enjoying it.

Since you are in the program with your wife, how does working out together affect your relationship? Are you competitive with each other?

Ultimately it has most certainly brought us closer together. I mentioned the inspiration part already; that of course is a good thing. Interestingly, Lisa and I are both highly competitive people, yet when it comes to this program I think we are anything but. I know she is massively supportive of me and I hope I am the same for her; at least I do try to be. There is most certainly a playful competitiveness when we’re at the gym at times, but it’s not the context in which we do this. Besides, we both know I’m better.

At home, what do the two of you do to support each other in staying accountable and making it to workouts?

This is very interesting as it has changed over time but it has always been what I would call tough love. I would characterize that as being willing to say to each other what you really think but in a loving non-judgemental way. That often sounds something like: “Wow, your day was certainly a big bag of poo for sure. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I think you’d feel lots better if you went to the workout but I get it if you just don’t want to do it today; I’m still going though.” (Ok I’m paraphrasing an idyllic situation but you get the idea)

I think that’s a pretty good approach, but it wasn’t always like that. I joined the program when Lisa had been in it for 9 months already. She was approaching her goal weight and was very gung ho about it all. I on the other hand wanted what she had but I was very confronted by it as well so I would often get quite angry and conflicted internally when it came time to go to the workout. I know I spewed some of that onto her at times when I first started which often met with a mixed reaction, (understandably) but I do have to say for the most part she was pretty supportive of how I felt, even when how I felt was just some lame excuse why I didn’t want to go.

Over time of course that changed and now the support flows liberally both ways. In truth we generally both look forward to the workouts and are glad to go. I never come out of a workout thinking, gee I wish I hadn’t come. I am in fact very empowered and energized by them. Lisa would say the same.

Looking forward I believe there will be other challenges for sure. Things like what Michele call’s “skinny girl syndrome” (Hey I can do skinny girl), and plenty of others too but I do believe we have what it takes to work through it together.

What was the most meaningful milestone that you have reached in this program?

There are in fact several, but I’ll go with this one as I think it is representative of the others:

Just as we were finishing what was I think my third workout ever in the program, one of the trainers said that annoying trainer thing: “Do you feel good?” and I looked at them and said in total disbelief of their question: “There is no way that I could ever equate how I feel right now with the word ‘good’. I am glad I made myself work out. I am glad it is over, but this is pretty damn far from ‘good’”, and they said “That will change”, in that annoying “you’ll see kind of voice”… and of course it did change! I just didn’t notice when it did. Somewhere along the way I began to find myself again, because it wasn’t just my inner athlete that was buried under 90 pounds of excess fat, but it was the inner me too, and that is a far more valuable discovery. So now it’s not annoying at all and when one of the trainers asks “Do you feel good?” my answer is “Hell Ya!” (and I still laugh at myself every time).

Anything else you want to share...

Three things:

First off, a gratifying and meaningful experience happened in the last month. I am still in touch from time to time with my closest childhood friend. He and I were inseparable from about age 5 until our early 20’s and I’ve always thought of him as a brother really. He attended Lisa and my wedding 5 years ago and we hadn’t seen each other in the flesh since. On Thursday night, the phone rang and it was him. He was in town and could he drop by. Now THAT was an awesome experience and I was very proud of both myself and Lisa. I think when you get a major reaction from someone you care about it has far more depth and meaning than from people you don’t really know.

Second, the people in this program are amazing, both trainers and participants. They inspire me and brighten my life every time I’m around them, so thank you to everyone involved in BW for your courage, dedication and support. It is a huge privilege to work through all of this with you.

Third, this program has been an amazing experience so far and I’m not done yet, which is kind of exciting. It has freed me from physical and emotional barriers that were ruining my day to day life and slowly killing me, or rather I should say through my participation in this program I am finding within myself the strength and determination to shape my life again because like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. My favorite Michele Shorter quote: “The only thing stopping you from achieving your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself why you can’t do it”. Nuff said.

And that’s all I have to say about that. (sound like Forest Gump).

Stuart, thank you for taking the time to be so open and honest, and also for sharing a long hidden "before" picture, check this out this is Stuart at his heaviest weight of 260 pounds...

Wowsers (sound like Inspector Gadget) Stuart - look at how far you've come. Here he is now at 195, you can just see the happiness coming from his body. Stuart tells me his goal weight is 170 and he's still going strong.

Want to see results like this for yourself? Come sign up for one month of unlimited classes at BDHQ before August 4th and it is only $49 for new clients. Success doesn't just happen, you have to work every single day to improve yourself and work to what you want. Stuart along with a growing list of other success stories has proved this day after day. Makes me proud to be part of such an amazing community.

Friday, July 27, 2012


In yesterday's self discovery workshop we talked about the Shadow Effect. It is a book written by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson. Taking a small reading from the book we had some good conversation on how the "shadow" has shown up in our lives. The shadow is essentially your inner self, that part that you have hidden, maybe it's secrets or lies, those things that haunt you that would kill you if anyone knew, or it could be guilt and shame. The book describes it in much more detail, and i'm interested to read the entire thing.

Step one of finding your way out of your shadow is to stop projecting. This is about putting your own issues/weakness onto other people. The whole idea of what you see in others could be found in yourself (though often we don't want to admit that). In the book it gives a list of different forms that projection can take and what that projection can hide. For me I identified with Superiority and Defensiveness. It's funny because I don't identify with the definition of superiority, but I bang on identify with the attitudes and feelings that come along with it. Here is an excerpt directly from the book.

Superiority: "I know that I'm better than you. You should see this and acknowledge it."
The "shadow's" unconscious feeling is: "Superiority disguises the feeling that you are a failure or that others would reject you if they knew who you really are."

Defensiveness: "You're attacking me, so i'm not listening to you"
The "shadow's" unconscious feeling is: disguises the feeling that you are unworthy and weak. Unless you defend yourself from others, you will start attacking yourself."

I definitely don't go around thinking i'm better than anyone, and hope that is not what is seen (though new attitude remember, don't care what others think). Where I identify is kind of an overlap between the two. For example, if I come up with an idea or suggestion (work or personal) and the other person doesn't see my perspective or "way of doing things" I get defensive. The internal dialog goes something like this: why don't they like my idea? what's wrong with me? why did they ask for my opinion and then not take it? don't you know i've done this before why aren't you listening? i'd better not open myself up again because they will likely shoot me down.

Like I said, I identify more with the feelings associated with the forms of projection. I have a deep seeded feeling that I am a failure, I've lost 190 lbs and i'm a failure, yup - that's how I feel deep down, because I allowed myself to get to 360 lbs that's a failure right? This is all stuff i'm working through, and working on improving, and absolutely can say that I know I am in a way better head space at this moment than I have been in my entire weight loss journey. I'm starting to become proud of myself for the little things. I feel incredibly blessed to have such amazing, supportive people in my life. And i'm learning that it's okay to show those failures, because it shows that i'm human.

Next step? Find my way out of the shadow, stop allowing my beliefs of myself prevent me from being open. Again, another test of life, and we will see if this one works. Last week's test, "ask for help" and I have raised about half of the money it will cost for the course, I'd say A! Because this test was not about actually getting the money, it was about going through the process of asking for the help from those around me, and being okay with them seeing my struggle.

Look at me - i'm growing up! :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Just One Bite

"Just have one doughnut, it won't kill you"
"You don't need to lose more weight, aren't you skinny enough?"
"Come on live a little"

These are only a few of the statements I have heard throughout this weight loss journey. The saboteurs! Those people in our lives, weather intending or not, that try and stall our efforts. Just when you get into a rhythm and start to make progress there are those individuals that slip in the comments here and there. What can we do about it? Nothing really, we can't control how someone else reacts to our success, but what we can control is our reaction to their statements.

For me first I must recognize why they are making these statements and trying to sabotage me. Really, I know they care, but what I have come to realize is that the people who are saying these things are either people who are stick skinny and never had a weight issue, or also struggle and are scared to see you succeed where they are not. Jealousy plays a huge role, and trust me I have faced that a lot in my journey. My reaction now is to just invite them along for the ride. Instead of giving into the temptation I say no thanks and invite them to bootcamp, which they then graciously decline :). I can't force anyone to make changes they don't want to make, just like they can't force me to give into temptations and give up what i've worked so hard for. It's all a choice, bottom line, it's even a choice if I decide to let their sabotaging efforts affect me.

So after recognizing WHY people try and sabotage me, I then developed further strategy for responding to it. In my current workplace I have been there almost two years, I've been pretty much the same size the entire time I've been there so my current coworkers did not see my entire weight loss transformation. In order to ensure I was on track I had to set expectations with my coworkers when it came time for pot lucks, I simply told them that I had worked really hard to become healthy and that i'm not willing to sacrifice that, I brush off the jokes. They are now very respectful of my choices, and I am often complemented on my control. With my friends, most have seen me go through this transformation and how much work I put into it, when going to parties or BBQs I try to bring something healthy as a dish to ensure I have good options. I bring my bottle of water, and keep myself busy with catching up on their lives instead of catching up on my lack of chips in my diet.

Here are my "Top Five Tips For Dealing With Sabotage"
1. Recognize why the other person is trying to sabotage you
2. Plan ahead when going into social situations
3. Set expectations with your coworkers/family on what is ok and what isn't
4. Vocalize your goals and don't be afraid to stand up for yourself
5. Create your environment to be conducive to your healthy lifestyle (ie. don't keep chips in your house for your friends when they come over)

Question: What do you do to deal with external sabotage?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How to Eat Out and Eat Clean

Oh Sunday, I love Sunday's, I know for most that means work the next day, but not for me. I'm on holidays for a week - freedom! Had another fabulous and focused week, still some emotional struggles, but I was on track and lost 0.6 lbs. Not ONLY 0.6 lbs, I lost 0.6 lbs, there's no ONLY in weight loss. But another reason I love Sundays is the after workout breakfast. Seriously, breakfast is sometimes 95% of the reason I get out of bed to come work out on a Sunday morning, sometimes its not, but it can be a pretty motivating reason to get up when all I want to do is sleep in.

With some great summer weather that already happened and hopefully more to come a big theme that was occurring for many people this week was balancing the eating out with trying to lose weight. Food is a very social thing in our culture, going out for a drink after work, or for dinner, it's ingrained in our culture and sometimes there's just no way around it. I've significantly cut back on the amount I eat out, mostly for financial reasons, but also for health reasons. Sunday mornings is one of my allowed meals out. At breakfast this morning we were brainstorming on tips to eat out and still stick to the plan and some great places that have healthy options.

Here is what we came up with...

Substitutions you can ask for in "most" restaurants:
-dressing on the side
-a vinegar based dressing instead of cream based
-meat grilled instead of fried
-no croutons
-no cheese
-salad instead of fries
-bun-less burgers or whole wheat buns (sometimes)
-dry toast
-want eggs benny? order it on one piece of dry whole wheat toast, hollandaise on the side and fruit instead of the potatoes
-most breakfast restaurants will make you a custom eggs & toast or eggs & fruit etc. if you ask
-edamame beans are a great appy in most restaurants, but come with lots of salt, you can ask them to simply steam the edamame and leave the seasoning off.
-Starbucks protein shakes, you can ask for non fat milk and 1/2 the banana instead of whole banana
-non fat lattes

Other Tips
-ask for half your meal to be packed up before you get it at the table, some portions tend to be very large, or split the entree
-don't be afraid to ask how things are cooked or if substitutions can be made that are not listed on the menu, worse they can say is no
-if nothing on the menu looks like a good choice, often you can ask for a simple green salad with grilled chicken
-check out the menu online before going to the restaurant so you know ahead of time

Restaurant Recommendations
-ReBar, located in Bastion Square, is our go to restaurant every Sunday (yes creatures of habit). The servers at this restaurant probably just think "oh wow the problem table again" LOL, but you know what seriously we always get awesome service and the servers actually remember ALL our custom orders without even writing it down, how can we not come back week after week. One of my favorites to order is just side dishes, this morning I had 3 poached eggs, pinto beans, grilled tomatoes and a side of fruit. With my coffee and tip that only came to $16.
-Oak Bay Bistro. BDHQ over winner John Waller is the executive chef and I have been a few times, each time fabulous food. They make delicious breakfast frittata and of coarse accommodating to your substitutions. They have also added a protein shake to their menu which is filled with tons of delicious ingredients.
-Boston Pizza. So obviously pizza is not top on the clean eating list, but if you are headed out with a group they do have some good choices. I like ordering an individual pizza on thin whole wheat crust, normally chicken & veggies, I will ask for no cheese and extra vegetables, then when the pizza comes I sprinkle some Parmesan on it. I will order a side salad and eat half of the pizza and the salad. In order to ensure I only eat 1/2 the pizza I ask for a to go box right away so I set it aside.
-The Noodle Box. They offer great options to customize your meal, but remember there is a large amount of sodium in most of their boxes. I will normally order spicy peanut chicken box, no carb, split box. This makes my meal into two meals, you can also ask for brown rice instead of the noodles but I enjoy the no carb. The nutritional info on the website shows that if you were to order it with rice, 1/2 the box would be 464 calories and 1060mg of sodium, you can also limit this by asking for 1/2 the amount of sauce, or just don't eat all the sauce.
-Brown's Social House. The have a healthy social bowl which I have ordered every time, it comes with chicken (or fish), braised cabbage and a side salad if you order it low carb or you can have it with the almond rice. They also have a cowboy and cowgirl salad which are really good.
-Nandos Chicken. You can eat the chicken without the skin, they have side salads and also premium salads. I normally order spring Mix salad with chicken which comes with vinaigrette dressing, this comes to only $12.
-Though I have not eaten there, another recommendation was for Ferris Upstairs or the Clay Pigeon, they will also accommodate your customization and have good choices according to "the BW breakfast crew".

Bottom line is you can make clean eating work in your lifestyle, you don't have to deprive yourself or never go out to eat ever again, it's about educating yourself on what customization can happen and choosing wisely. It is not realistic to never eat out, but you can make good choices and "minimize the damage".

What is your favorite place to eat out and what substitutions do you make?