Monday, June 25, 2012

Pursuing Your Passion

Many of you know I have been off work for the last couple weeks, I had surgery on June 11th to have a cyst removed from an ovary and fibroid removed from my uterus. The month of June has been very weird for me, I was away at a conference the beginning of the month so missed regular workouts, and then being off for surgery I haven't worked out since. This is the first time in over two years that I have gone longer than a few days without working out. It's amazing how much you really miss it. The feel of sweat dripping from your face, knowing you left it all out there, is one of the best forms of medicine. So being unable to do that, just like being unable to run consistently since my injury, has been both frustrating and challenging. But I remind myself daily to stay focused on my food and water, that is something I can control.

The one benefit of not working out is I have had lots of reflecting time. I suppose being told my job is going to be work force adjusted couldn't come at a better time because it gave me time to reflect on what i'm doing with my life. My job to me is a job, yes I love the people I work with, I love the work environment, but I don't love the job - its boring and is not challenging or engaging, its not my passion. My passion is health and fitness, my passion is helping people realize their potential and reach new limits, but putting that into a career, that i'm not sure on yet - coaching of some form I think. For now, it means I stay in a "job" and pursue my passion on the side until I can realize what I am truly supposed to be doing. I realize i'm not going to be presented with this opportunity, I need to create it and create my life. I'm beyond excited to take a book writing course next month, and am looking into the possibility of returning to school.

I'm also excited to start a new session of Biggest Winners on July 1st. We have a few new people joining us which will be great (PS its not too late!!). A new session means new goals, new focus, and another reset button. I hit that reset button every day, but its what I need to do right now on my journey to continue to be focused. Each day is unique, just because I ate to many carbs yesterday doesn't mean i'm going to overindulge today. In my last 21 day challenge I got back on track with my water, for now 21 day challenge is on hold, a small break until the next session starts, but I am still focused on eating clean and drinking water.

So what have I learned in all this reflecting? Pursue your passion, don't wait, do it now. Just like I told myself when I started this journey, even if progress is slow its better to start now then wait another year, month or day to reclaim your life. Realistically for me this means taking this course next month and putting whatever I learn into practice, who knows what opportunities will come up in the mean time. When you are open to the possibility of change its amazing how many opportunities become apparent to you that didn't appear to be there before. Ask yourself what your passion is, and are you creating opportunities in your life to pursue this? If not, are you truly happy? Maybe some reflecting of your own is in order.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Self Esteem Doesn't Come in a Bottle

Two weeks ago I had the honor of attending the Canadian Burn Survivor's Conference in Calgary, Alberta. As many of you know my husband is a burn survivor who, 18 years ago, was burned in a car crash which also killed three of his friends. Attending these conferences is always eye opening. Even though I wasn't with John when he went through most of his surgeries, I always take something away and meet amazing people who are so strong and have overcome so much. We are grateful to the Firefighters Burn Fund, Victoria BC for sponsoring us to attend this conference.

One of the speakers at this years conference was Kelly Falardeau. We met Kelly a couple years ago at another conference, since then she has written two books (both of which I bought) and took the leap of being self employed as a speaker. Kelly talked to us about her second book Self Esteem Doesn't Come In a Bottle. Kelly's accident occured when she was only two years old. When I look at Kelly all I see is a beautiful and confident woman, I don't see her scars.



I related to Kelly's stories of growing up and facing ridicule in school. Even though our lives are very different, the development of our self esteems is so ingrained in our experiences, especially as children and young adults. Hearing the ridicule she faced for her scars and how she has overcome that to become so strong today gives me strength. Kelly said that the moment she realized that SHE had the power and that SHE was beautiful no matter was pivotal for her. She also told herself, when thinking of those with negative things to say, "your opinion doesn't count in my world". Kelly is a true example of taking control of your destiny, of taking the power into your own hands.

For me, self esteem is my biggest struggle, there is fear and experience behind wanting to put myself out there. The fear of judgment, of ridicule, of people walking away. The fear can be so overwhelming that often I chose to not share that inner part of my soul, it's hidden. I appreciated Kelly's presentation so much because she makes you realize that really, it doesn't matter, if the people that see that part of your soul truly walk away then they don't deserve to be in your life.

I'm not going to give away all of Kelly's secrets, but I want to share with you some that hit home for me...
"Learn to love your little parts" - appreciate the parts of you that make you feel good, for me I love my eyes, and my smile
"Find your WOW factor" - is it your favorite pair of jeans? or heals? when you do this or put this on you feel amazing...find your WOW factor and "work it".
"Don't postpone joy" - if you keep doing things you hate, you won't feel good...do things that make YOU feel good, the only person you have to please is yourself.

After the presentation I asked Kelly if she would be willing to answer some additional questions for me. Here is what she had to say:

Where did you find the courage to take the first step in telling your story?
When I was 21 yrs old, I was elected to be the President of the Alberta Burn Rehabilitation Society and I was invited to go speak at one of the very first burn camps in our province. There was only 13 kids there, but it was the first time I got to speak to burn kids and it was awesome.

Do you ever have moments, even now, where you face self doubt? how do you deal with that?
Yes, self doubt used to be huge for me as a teenager and adult, but as I succeed more, self doubt is less and less in my mind. Self doubt is all about self talk. I handle it by reminding myself about all my successes in my life. I talk to my mentors and champions in my life who inspire me and keep me motivated to do what I love to do. When I hear myself doubting myself, I find ways to shift my thinking like putting on music I love, reading a book or listening to inspiring speakers. The key to self doubt is to stop picking on yourself and calling yourself names. You need to find ways to keep your fearless inner voice alive and your fearful inner voice down. Your fearful voice doesn't want you to succeed, but your fearless self does. I am always doing my best to listen to my fearless voice. When we doubt ourselves it holds us back from achieving what we want, so I believe it's imperative that we learn how to control our self doubt at all times.

Why do you speak and share your story? Why is it important to you?
I realized 3 yrs ago that I love speaking and inspiring others. When I did the passion test almost 3 years ago with Janet Attwood, inspiring others was one of my top 3 passions. She took me by my arms and said "Kelly, your scars are your gift, use them, be a speaker and inspire others with your story." And I said, "Ok, I'll be a speaker" and I did. After I made the decision to do it, everything magically fell into place.

Being a speaker is important to me because I get so annoyed that women & teenage girls feel they have to have the perfect body in order to be beautiful. I have one of the most imperfect bodies out there and I've been called sexy, hot, beautiful, gorgeous, all the names I want to be called and yet I have scars covering 75% of my body and I'm missing a nipple, scars completely covering my chest, back, face and both arms and a muffin top to boot. Once I realized that I could feel beautiful without anybody else's approval, I was able to take my power back and truly feel beautiful no matter what anyone else said. It was a great feeling when I did that.

I also enjoy speaking because I think we need to find ways to empower teenagers, they're tuning out as far as the bullying message is going. They all know bullying exists and what they're "supposed" to do about it, but if they don't have self confidence or self esteem, they'll never stand up to the bully. It's important that we teach them how to empower eachother and feel good in their own skin so they can be the people they want to be, not what their friends want them to be.




Thank you Kelly for doing what you do, for sharing your story, and being such a positive impact in so many people's lives. For more information on Kelly you can follow her on twitter @kellyfalardeau or visit her website to keep up to date on all her activity.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guest Blogger "Missing: My Motivation"

The following is a reflection from fellow Biggest Winner ambassador Nicki Reich. Thanks for sharing your struggles and being so honest. Struggles will make us stronger, sharing them will keep us accountable, and being honest will make us grow. So proud of you Nicki and grateful to have someone like you in my life.

If Bri is the "inspiration" of the Biggest Winner program and I am the "administration", then Michele and Lovisa are surely the "motivation." Or are they? They provide accountability, guidance, patience, assurance and encouragement. But where does motivation come from? Mine seems to have gone missing, but they are still here. So if they don't provide the motivation, who does?

It is hard to admit that you are struggling. I am sure that everyone has been able to tell from my expanding rear-end that I have not been on track, but saying it out loud in a group, in front of your peers, your trainers and your friends is hard. But like showing up for a workout that you wanted to skip, it feels so much better afterwards. Choking the words out feels awful, but the relief from releasing the burden is liberating.

I don't think I have been honest with myself or the group for a long time. So here is the rest of my story.

Two things from our our check-in hit me like a truck. First, Aidan said that he keeps showing up because he doesn't want to disappoint the trainers. He doesn't do it for himself. Second, Michele pointed out that I wasn't able to conquer my fear of Mt. Finlayson for my own sake, but because I couldn't disappoint Aidan.

It was the first time that I realized that I have never done this for me. My motivation has always been about something outside of my own happiness and success. It is about seeking approval and avoiding disappointment. I want to be thin so men will find me attractive. I want to be thin so I can look good for my husband's homecoming. I want to be thin so I can give my husband a child. I want to be thin so people will like me. I want to be thin to make my parents proud.

When I began with BW, I thought my reasons were different. I thought I had been doing it for me. But truth is, I was doing it so my husband would love me more. I spent hours at the gym and tirelessly meal planned and prepped, steadily lost weight and gained confidence. For two years, I stayed on track and waited. I waited to hear "I am proud of you." It never came.

When I was 3lbs from my goal weight, my marriage fell apart. Being thin didn't make him love me more. (Just so no one thinks my husband is a jerk, he was in a dark place of his own. He couldn't see past his own pain to see me hurting. He has worked tirelessly to climb out of his own abyss.)

For me, being thin It didn't make life magically happier. In fact, I convinced myself that it was more miserable than being 200lbs. That was a year ago. Today, my marriage is more solid then it has been in years and I have gained half of the weight back.

I feel like a giant fraud. I am supposed to be an ambassador. I am supposed to be an example of how the Biggest Winner program works. But I'm not. I have struggled for months to cope with disappointing my family, the group and mostly, Michele and Lovisa. These two tirelessly work to help us improve and I let them down. Without that approval, the motivation to lose is gone. Knowing I have disappointed so many people who have supported me has sent me into a tailspin.

It is time for my story to change. My motivation hasn't gone missing; it was simply misguided. I have been counting on those around me to provide it for me. In all the time I have waited for someone else to say "I am proud of you", it didn't occur to me to say it to myself. I have spent my life defining my worth by the approval of others.

I will still look to Michele and Lovisa for the patience and kick ass workouts. I will still lean on the group for inspiration and kindness. I will still count on my family for love and support. But, starting now, I will start to find my motivation within. It works when you work it. So work it, you're worth it. And I am.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Falling Far and Hard

Sometimes it takes falling to realize your capable. Sometimes it takes failures to bring us back to our successes. I've fallen many times on this journey but the one constant is I always get back up.

After feeling on track at the beginning of the month I had several "changes" thrown at me all at once. Changes that were unexpected, I forgot how to cope, I ate and I ate alot and I gave up (momentarily). But it is those moments of failure that lead me to believe I am fully capable of getting myself back there. How does someone get so very close to the biggest accomplishment of her life, and let herself slip backwards? Very simple, its called balance, its called living, coping, and that's ok. It's OK as long as you get back up and keep going. I saw a very scary number on the scale this morning - 194 - ok granted I am extremely bloated with fluid from my recent surgery, but it was still scary none the less and made me realize that I can't keep moving in this upwards direction.

So what were these changes? Well, I went from being totally in control of my destiny to realizing I was going to make a huge career decision, a decision that would impact me and my ability to support my family in a dramatic way, a decision that was completely unexpected and thrown in my face. This led into thoughts of, should I really be doing this job? Is this me? No, not really, I know that, but is it the right time to take this risk? So many questions, and only one month to decide if I should take the easy road or take a chance at unemployment and a new career path. In this time i'm also facing the fear of going in for surgery, having a cyst and a fibroid removed from me, all things that are apparently normal but still are scary - that fear of what if, what if something goes wrong and i'm never able to have children? I just wasnt sure what to focus on, so I focused on nothing and I ate, it was my way of coping with the uncertainty, but really where did that get me? No where, only further and further away from my goal.

But like I said, im ok with that, im ok because I am admitting to my defeat, I am picking myself back up and doing it again. One small step at a time, my focus right now is simply to drink 3 liters of water per day, its a small focus, but something I can do while being on bed rest to keep myself in check. I'm not overwhelming myself with food, but at the same time i'm not allowing any binging, to be honest I hardly have an appetite right now.

Sometimes it takes falling so hard and so far to make us realize that we are capable of success. Look at what i've accomplished, regardless of any of my recent defeats, I am still proud, I am still successful and nothing will change that.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

Pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones is a huge part of being successful on not only a weight loss journey but life in general. Maybe thats just making the choice to start your journey, or maybe its making the choice to recommit to your journey. Whatever it is there are multiple parts of those scenarious that are scary. You face lots of change, emotions, and new and exciting experiences good and bad. But that is how we grow.



When I couldn't fit anything at Lulu Lemon I made my first purchase one of their posters. The poster they have up in the store all the time, their mantra. One of the quotes on that mantra is "do one thing every day that scares you". This poster still hangs in my bedroom and I look at it every morning and every night. That quote really makes me think that I should be pushing myself outside of my comfort zone more often. I'm guilty of getting stuck in routine, of not wanting to change because it's scary to face the unknown. In the last 21 day challenge we all committed to doing just one thing that scares us, not 21 things, just one. For me that was having boidoir photos taken..the funny thing is I wasn't scared to have someone see me in lingere, I was more scared to have all the attention on me, im not so good at that, but the photographer was awesome and she made me feel beautiful. Here is one of my favorite photos, PG version.



Jacqueline was brave enough to blog about her scary thing, which was admitting that she actually was scared to fail. Please check out her blog My Year of Transformation. I think that fear of failure is huge, it plays a big role in how some people let themselves get to be 20, 30, 50, 100 pounds overweight. You would think that the fear of being big would stop someone from eating, but really the fear of failure, of not being able to successfully lose weight, or stay in shape is overpowering and for many it is debilitating. So thank you jacqueline for having the courage to put yourself out there, I know so many can relate to this fear. Keep writing, im reading!

Emily put herself out there in a huge way, she agreed to go on a blind date - WOW now that's scary! Without going too deep into her story, because that is hers to tell (I see a guest blogger coming...), Emily overcame some tough relationship obsticles so going on this date was a huge step for her. Emily says "One date has luckily turned into a few, and I am so incredibly happy that I decided to put myself out there and do this. No matter what happens, I am challenging myself, learning and growing. I am also rediscovering who I am and where I stand. It is still scary every day, and I do worry that I could lose myself again, but I am finally actually living life – not hiding from it. I will make mistakes and I will fall, but I know that I will be able to pick myself up again, learn and move on." . Emily i'm so proud of you, you have come so far on your journey and you are a good friend.

Nicki, one of the most outspoken people I know, took a scary step for her and created a blog to document her family legacy as it relates to food. Well i,m not going to tell you about it, let Nicki tell you for herself. Please also check out her debut post on her new blog Failing home Ec.

So what does the next 21 days hold? Well, it's time to "refocus", chose one small thing that you are going to do to be successful in the next 3 weeks. For me it is all going to be food related. I am committing to drinking 3 litres of water every day and preparing my food in advance. These are simple things for me that I have incorporated so many times in my journey but I have seemed to be complacent with in the last few weeks. Who else is going to join in this 21 day refocus? What are you going to do to be successful?

“There is almost one time that is important - Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”