Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Doing it for Twigg

I'm struggling to find the words to write right now. I came home Sunday from an amazing vacation in Orlando expecting to update everyone one what a fabulous time I had but those words and thoughts seem so unimportant right now. Hearing the news that an amazing woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer was shocking and scary. Michelle Twigg is the definition of health, she leads by example, is a BDHQ ambassador, and all around just one fabulous woman who I have had the privilege to get to know over my time at BDHQ. Along with being an ambassador, Michelle also is a run leader for BDHQ Run Club and supported many of the Biggest Winners in reaching some great running goals. When I look at Michelle I see a strong woman, I see a compassionate and caring friend and someone who loves life. Michelle defines what BDHQ is all about, supporting the community around you by working together.

I had to step back over the last couple days after absorbing this news and realize that I need to put some things in perspective. I have struggled for the last year to find focus to really get to my final goal weight. I have maintained within a 5lb range, but have not got myself to that 200 lb mark. I was reminded this week that sometimes it's easier to look outside ourselves to find motivation instead of focusing on our own "stuff". And that is very true, especially for people who are so accustom to putting others needs ahead of their own (their kids, husbands, friends etc.). That is often an excuse people make, "I can't workout because I have to take my kids to do X or Y" or "I can't eat healthy because my kids don't like the food". In those statements you are focusing on other people's needs, you are allowing other people to enable your excuses, so why not allow those other people to be your reason? Focus on helping your friend/family/kids instead of your own "stuff", do it for them instead of for you.

This means for me, and many others, to DO IT FOR TWIGG. Let's honour her struggle by honouring our own health, be kind to our bodies, our spirits and our souls. Let's all show Michelle how her incredible strength gives us the motivation to win our own battles, no matter how big or small they are. Nicki came up with a generous idea of donating $1 for every pound our Biggest Winner group loses over the next four weeks to the Terry Fox Foundation so we all plan on losing big and DOING IT FOR TWIGG!! I have agreed to match Nicki's donation along with BDHQ, Lovisa, Emily, Tricia, Jes and James. So who else is willing to step up and donate? It's for an amazing cause and an incredible woman.

Need some more motivation? Watch these videos and look at the outpouring of support she has...there is no doubt she is going to beat this!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Raeleen's Story

What an amazing and beautiful weekend, it made me want to RUN! And run I did, along with another thousand people in the Oak Bay Half Marathon & Relay. Last year was my first year participating in this event and it was pooring rain, I got sick for three weeks after and lost my voice - but of coarse not my ability to write ;). This year it was beautiful, hot, and a fabulous day because I was running again. 4K in 24 mins, I’d say pretty awesome time given I hadn’t been running for about six months. But this post isn’t about me, it’s about a fabulous woman who I am blessed to have met through Biggest Winners who accomplished a huge feat. She went from a non-runner to completing the half marathon in 2:09.

This is Raeleen before I met her...

And this is Raeleen now...

She started her weight loss journey at 193 pounds in July 2011, since then she has lost 33 lbs and looks absolutely fabulous. 10 years ago Raeleen was petite at 130 pounds but over a ten year period gained 63 pounds, yo-yoing around the 150’s and 160’s for most of it. Here is Raeleen’s story…

What made you decide to make a change in your health?
I thought starving myself was the only effective way to lose weight. I knew it was never sustainable but I didn't know what else to do. I didn't believe exercising worked...I'd sweat my butt off at the gym on a treadmill for 30 minutes 3 times a week, be bored out of my mind doing it, and would see no difference. Over the last 5 years I started to educate myself on nutrition, what sustainable weight loss involved, and I finally knew what I needed to do but was unable to commit and take that plunge. In 2010, I had a newborn, my MBA to finish and part-time consulting work which consumed all my time and I chose not to spend or make time on myself and my health. All my baby weight gained stayed, despite breastfeeding for 6 months. There came a point when size 14 clothes were getting tight yet I refused to set foot in a "plus size" store, so I was like a sausage encased in my clothes every day. Not 15 minutes went by that I wasn't reminded by tight clothes of how big I was getting. Finally last June 2011 I graduated and finished my MBA, and made a pact with myself that I'd spend as much time on getting healthy as I did on my MBA for the past 3 years. My family celebrated my graduation in Hawaii and I hate every photo of myself from that trip--I couldn't believe what I looked like sitting in the sand on a beautiful Hawaiian beach...I felt like a whale. A friend of mine recommended BDHQ as she'd lost about 60 pounds through their baby bootcamp...here she was with a baby as old as mine but she looked and felt amazing and I...did not. Finally I decided to walk into BDHQ as intimidating as it looked from the street and sign up for Biggest Winners. I didn't think too hard about what that would entail--I just was desperate to DO SOMETHING.

What made you decide to train for a half marathon
I always admired people who ran 1/2 marathons. 21K seemed like an insurmountable distance to me. I could barely run 1K in July when I started BW's last year. My lungs were so tired even after running 10 minutes. But by the fall of last year Lovisa took some of us out for a long run one Sunday and we clocked it as 12km--just like that I suddenly realized I had passed that mental hurdle in my head of 10K. I had never run that far in my life and it was pretty easy. I realized that day this fear of a half marathon was totally in my head. Of COURSE my body would do it if my mind told it to! all this time my mind had been telling me "you're not a runner. You get tired easily. you carry all your weight in your torso which your little legs have to cart around for hours. You can barely do a 10K race without wanting to barf and then die. So obviously a half marathon is not in your cards, EVER." Once I put those thoughts to rest, there are 2 people in BW who inspired me to sign up - Bri and Nicki. If they could do it, so could I. they helped me see that if you tackled the training in a methodical way, ran slowly, and just put one foot in front of the other, you'd get it done. They helped me envision what it would take from my starting point of training to race day, and everything they said was right.

Describe what running means to you
I love the peace of mind it brings most of all. Sometimes, on a beautiful day, when I set out for my run, I get teary eyed in the first kilometre. I'm just so excited that I have an hour or more to myself (rare for a mom of a toddler), excited that I've come this far where my lungs don't give out and I can just enjoy seeing the ocean or some beautiful part of our city each time, and I feel so blessed that I'm able to run in the first place (as so many people can't). I also love how I feel after a run--it's such a good use of my time as it's good for my soul, my mind, my body, and everyone else who encounters me for the rest of the day (as it kind of is a mood enhancer)!

What does this accomplishment mean to you?
Last night before the race I laid in bed thinking about how I'd already won on so many levels. The race day is just one day when you hope all things align (weather, heat, wind, your energy levels, your mind, your feet) and you do your best. But everything leading up to that day is really the accomplishment. Signing up for the race is win #1 because it signified my mind had put to rest those excuses I'd allowed in before about not being able to do this. Training consistently was win #2 because it builds confidence.. Every week I celebrated running longer and farther than I'd ever ran in my life--so every week I was winning something in my head. win #3 was finding out I was pregnant (I was already running 13K by then) and deciding that this would also not be an excuse to pull out of the race. i didn't want to do anything stupid that would hurt me or the baby, but it made me more determined than ever to run the race. The goal of doing it as fast as I could switched to just being able to finish safely. Getting up early on weekends to run 14+ km's while being nauseous and overtired was so difficult. I wanted to quit many times but I kept saying to myself "you have come this far, don't let yourself down." The last few weeks before the race have been really difficult. I've gained weight, my lower belly is sticking out, it feels like I have a full bladder all the time I'm running, and worst is the joints and ligaments in my lower abdomen and pelvis have all loosened up to the point where I strain and pull something every time I run and it takes days to recover. But I knew if I could run 21K having trained through my first trimester there is absolutely nothing I can't do in the future

What did your training plan look like?
I have Nicki to thank for my plan... Started in February running 10K. My weeks after that looked like: 12K, 10K, 12K, 14K, 12K, 14K, 16K, 19K, 20K, 10K, 10K, race day 21K. Nicki enforced the importance of taking it easy in the 2 weeks leading up to the race despite the natural concern that you'd "lose" what progress you had made running long distances in the weeks before.

What gave you the motivation to keep training?
I wanted to make a story for myself to reflect upon later in life if I ever encountered any hurdles or mind games about achieving something in the future. I also told everyone I knew that I was going to do this so I couldn't let them down!

What’s next for Raeleen?
I definitely want to run another half marathon again...maybe one that doesn't have so many hills! I want to work on my speed for the next time as I had to give up that goal this time around. If someone wants to challenge me to a marathon after that....I suppose I would have a hard time saying no!

What is your biggest lesson from this experience?
My learning from this experience is that a half marathon is possible for anyone--you just have to work hard. there is no secret to success and there is no such thing as luck in running long distances. "winging it" or relying on natural born ability results in failure in almost everything in life and half marathons are very unforgiving that way too. some of us may have been born with a great "runner's body" but that means nothing if you don't train...people who look like they can barely run will pass you by if you have that mindset. It's amazing what your body can do when you make your mind up that you are going to run a half marathon!

Thanks for sharing your story with me Raeleen, I’m so very proud of what you have accomplished. You set your mind to this goal and you achieved it, regardless of any hurdles. You prove every day to me that anything is possible. My favourite quote is “Of COURSE my body would do it if my mind told it to!”, I’m going to have to tell my mind to be focused on my own training and be patient. Anything is possible if we set our minds and focus our intentions in the right direction. And PS, my new goal is to rock that blue dress of yours!

Monday, May 7, 2012


To avoid emotional eating, i'm writing, that is what started this blog. This post has no purpose but my own reflection for my day, which was emotional and difficult...My reflection on self doubt, self loathing and how it has played into my weight loss journey..In the hopes that the one person out there that is reading this can gather some strength to start to love them self, I am going to put myself out there and share some events that are very personal to me.

The room is dark, but with sufficient mood lighting for a high school dance. My 17 year old self is standing in the corner in my size 18 dress. The dance is almost over, and no one has asked me to dance, but why would they? I'm ugly, fat, disgusting. A wave of courage washed over me and I ask a boy to dance, I don't even remember his name or what he looks like, at that moment it didn't matter..just that he was a boy. He said yes, a flicker of hope, of promise washed over me. For that brief moment in my high school career I felt beautiful, and then the song was over and the moment ended. But for one night, I felt like I was actually important, even though he didn't even know me or would ever talk to me again. For one night I felt beautiful, human contact (even though brief and non sexual) gave me one night of hope. I wake up in the morning and the moment is over.

I am 18, I have no direction, no idea what I want to do or who I want to be, just that I want to feel like im important to someone. My judgment is clouded by the desire to feel loved. Reaching out to a random stranger on the internet, I find myself at someone's apartment, someone I have talked to for maybe an hour, someone who I don't even know. My first kiss, with a random stranger who cared nothing about me and didn't even know me. I left feeling on top of the world, alive (by whatever luck there is out there that this guy was not a killer), feeling normal. Again one night of hope, someone wanted to touch me, but didn't want to know me.

I am 19, have had a couple failed attempts at internet dating, "you're too fat for me" that was the general answer. Almost 20, and still a virgin, feeling like a loser. I settled for the guy who said I was too fat for him, that he wouldn't be seen in pubic with me, but would give me the human touch I wanted. I settled, I hated myself so much, why would anyone ever love me? I have to put up with this person who wont even let me call him my boyfriend. I settled and I can never go back and change that.

I am 20, I have accepted that I was going to be alone but I still put myself out there on the internet, even the hopes of talking online kept me slightly optimistic that someone would eventually settle for me. I never felt that I would be important enough to be anyone's world. Then there came John, the man who is now my husband, who is my world and I am his. We shared a common place of feeling as if no one would ever love us, but he did, he didn't care that I was huge and couldn't even walk a kilometer, he saw past all of that and saw me. He was the first person to see me, the me I had hidden all these years behind a shell of fat and emotions. I would not be here without his love and support. He helped me find who I am, to find the strength to take this journey because I knew I was not alone anymore, to find the determination every single day to not give up. Yes, I was the one getting up at 6AM and doing the workout DVDs in my living room, I was the one saying no to the food, but he was the man who was there when I needed to cry instead of eat, or when I needed someone to just hold me.

So with that all on the table, what am I trying to say? I hope that the girl that is reading this who is sitting on the sidelines can find the courage to be strong. I hope that the woman inside of me that is scared to speak up can find a will to be that person I know I can be. I refuse to let my past mistakes rule my life. I have let go of feeling guilty about these events a long time ago, but they still define who I am today. It all led to creating an environment of self doubt of myself, of thinking I am not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, and never # 1. But I know one thing, I am someone's world and he is mine, the rest doesn't matter, it's a work in progress...i'm a work in progress.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shopping.....Biggest Winner Style

No shopping trip is complete without some great friends and great finds, but I didn't always feel that way. Shopping for me was painful, embarrassing, emotional and I avoided it at all costs as a bigger girl. I remember back to high school or just after graduation, going to the mall, and knowing that I would never fit anything that was in the stores my friends shopped at. Shopping was a constant reminder of my failure as a human being therefore it was avoided at all costs. My options were limited, so knowing that there are more and more options out there for plus sized clothes is great, especially when you are changing sizes.

Curvalicious Boutique hosted a fun shopping day for the Biggest Winners today. A fabulous concept, they promote celebrating our curves. Why be embarrassed? Look fabulous at any size! Look at how incredible these women look...

Special thanks for both Melissa and Maelene for some expert styling advice. A great way to spend an afternoon, hanging out with some lovely ladies and celebrating our bodies at any shape and size.