Fit Life Adventure

An Ordinary Woman's Journey of Surviving Obesity


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Liebster Award!

I am beyond touched that I got nominated for the Liebster Award! This award is passed on from one blogger to another. The idea is to learn more about each other. The blogger who was so nice to nominate me is Free2bme27. (link provided to check her out) This was really fun and I hope those I nominate enjoy this exercise as well. I look forward to reading everyone’s comments! These are the rules….

*Thank the blog that nominated you and link back to them.

*Make a blog post telling 11 facts about yourself.

*Answer the 11 questions from the blog that nominated you.

*Prepare 11 questions for those you will nominate.

*Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers by commenting on one of their blog posts.
Here goes…

11 Facts About Me:

  1. I played Glinda the Good Witch of the North in a Grade 8 production of The Wizard of Oz
  2. I watch the Shopping Network just for fun
  3. I have an obsession with home fragrance and bed linens
  4. I have had my tonsils removed
  5. I have kept nearly every single birthday card I have ever received
  6. I collect cat and owl figurines
  7. I have never visited any other province besides Ontario
  8. I am an only child
  9. I religiously watch It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown every Halloween
  10. I love the smell of old books
  11. I will always own a cat

11 questions from the person who nominated me:
1. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I love food SO much, that is a tough one. Sweet potatoes if I was forced to pick.

2. Why did you start your blog?
To reach and inspire other people on their own fitness/health journeys, start some good dialogue and become a part of a new community

3. What would you do if you won the lottery?
Still continue to run my small business, but definitely travel more with my husband, buy a second car, a house and sock some away for retirement.

4. Do you believe in love at first site?
Nope. Love takes time.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I am such a die hard Windsorite….but to keep this answer somewhat interesting, I would choose to stay in Canada still, perhaps another province? Manitoba sounds good.

6. Do you believe in God? Why or why not?
Wow, what a huge question. I do not follow a specific religion. I practice humility, consider myself spiritual and I carry respect for those around me. I try to live my life as a decent human being. Those things bring me peace and a sense of purpose. That’s good enough for me.

7. Are you a planner or are you spontaneous?
A bit of both, with a heavier lean to planner

8. What brings you the greatest joy in life?
Corny I know, but living each day with my husband as my life’s witness and partner.

9. What is a piece of advice you’d like to share?
Laugh more often.

10. What is something we’d be surprised to know about you?
I have 3/5 tattoos remaining. (removed 2 of them) I should have only ever gotten 1. (That could count as a piece of advice too I suppose….)

11. What 3 words describe you best?
Ack…these sorts of questions are super tricky. Healthy, smart, empathetic.

11 Questions for the people I nominate:

  1. What is your worst fear?
  2. Favourite month?
  3. What room are you in while you answer these questions?
  4. Do you remember what video game was the first that you played?
  5. Favourite Disney villain?
  6. Cake or pie?
  7. What was your most memorable Halloween costume?
  8. What do you do for a living?
  9. Do you dream in colour?
  10. Assuming you enjoy a good omelet, what food items MUST be in it?
  11. What movie do you never get tired of watching?

    11 QUESTION AWARD LOGO


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My Plan To Rock It

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I’ve mentioned before how I was never very “sporty” growing up. It wasn’t that I didn’t have an appreciation for sports – on the contrary – I had (and have) a great respect for all sorts of athletes. I think it was the bullying that I was subject to. That torment would rear it’s ugly head come gym class when I would be forced to be a part of team activities where the other kids would actually argue over who got stuck with me. Not really a confidence builder right? Any agility or sport skills I might have begun developing was squashed by my insecurity and low self esteem.

Now that I have this new lease on life, and I apologize for being sooo cliche, but I really feel like anything is possible. On that note, I have decided learning how to rock climb is now in my immediate future. I am looking for INDOOR rock climbing of course. It’s not like Essex county has an over abundance of hills anyways. Plus, scaling up the side of a small mountain for someone who is new to the whole ‘moving your body’ concept, is likely not the safest thing. But finding a rock climbing facility in my city was proving to be quite the challenge too.

I mentioned to a friend I play rec league volleyball with, about my new adventure. He gave me great news. Turns out in the summer time, Windsor is getting a “rock gym”. Being the studious nerd that I am, I wrote down the name of the place my friend told me about and went full out doing my research. rockgym

I began following “Windsor Rock Gym” ALL over social media and quickly became a #1 fan even before I had EVER tried to climb. This approach may seem a little overzealous to you, but lets recall that it worked out pretty good when it came to my first 5K. Wink, wink.

As luck would have it, Windsor Rock Gym noticed my enthusiasm (it was hard to miss) and invited me to their warehouse to check out the construction process of what will surely be a new and exciting attraction! Slated to open later this summer, Windsor Rock Gym is located in a plaza on the corner of Ontario and Walker Rd. When I met Marco, the owner, I could tell instantly that he has such passion, not only for the sport, but for providing the residents of our city something unique and different to try out.

I got the grand tour of the gym. I got to see the construction of everything from the change rooms to the special type of flooring they will be using. I felt very privileged to get this sneak peak.

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Marco told me it wasn’t going to be a typical climbing experience however. His gym would be specializing in “bouldering”. Bouldering is a type of rock climbing that doesn’t involve the use of any harnesses or straps. You just put on a special pair of shoes, chalk up your hands (and very likely in my case – prepare to fall a lot) and maneuver across the wall. You can climb in the traverse style (side to side) or in the usual vertical manner.

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You wouldn’t be necessarily climbing as high up as you would if you had a harness on. Bouldering, like rock climbing, challenges your core and gives a whole body work out. It also challenges your brain as you decide the best routes to take and figure out the “puzzle” on the wall in front of you.

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For someone who has never done this type of sport before, the idea of trying it the first time sans harness, scares the crap out of me.

I injury easily enough as it is. Just ask my husband – he’s seen me trip over my shadow more than once. But I am assured by the owner that children and beginners alike, will all have a blast at Windsor Rock Gym. I left the developing gym with a souvenir t-shirt and a willingness to give it a go once it is operational. I remind myself, as I drive away, of the other things in my life that have been difficult and seemed impossible.

Just like any aspiration we have, a bit of practice never hurt. So to work on my grip strength and rock climbing abilities, I take a trip to GoodLife Fitness. I recently heard they have a mini rock climbing wall, the type involving a harness. The actual wall was bigger than I thought it would be and located right in the middle of the gym floor. I knew I would surely make a spectacle of myself, but got up the courage to give it shot. I wasn’t half bad at it. Having done my research and watched numerous YouTube videos about proper form and hand holds, I felt more confident taking my first climb. It was actually repelling down that gave me some initial trouble. I did a backwards somersault trying to land and had the whole gym laughing at me. But I got up, dusted myself off , laughed with them for a second and tried again. The snickers quickly stopped once they realized I had the nerve to keep going.  Rock climbing is absolutely something I want to get better at and I think it is so much fun incorporating a unique sport into my fitness routine. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I am the creator of my own life.


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Radio Active

 

Radio

Accomplishing my goal of crossing the finish line after running my first 5K race already had me on cloud nine but to top it all off, the day after, I was contacted by the head organizer of the run, Chris Uszynski. He also happens to host a radio show called “Running Flat Radio”(this link will take you to my interview- it is the second half of the show if you want to find it quick to have a listen!) on a local station, AM800, here in Windsor. He extended me an offer to be interviewed about my weight loss journey and first time running experience on his show! To tell you I was shocked would be an understatement. I am not the first person in history to lose a lot of weight and sign up for a 5k. I say quite frequently how I don’t consider myself all that unique and I am certain there would be better people out there to do this. Yet, I found myself gleefully saying “YES!”

Oddly, this is actually the second time in under a year that I have been asked to be on AM800. The first time was being interviewed about my love of painting pumpkins. It is extremely strange how my passions keep getting me public notice, but somehow they do. (Now if I could just work out a way to get them to interview me about my decade long, small business, then we’d be getting somewhere!)

It was really fun to talk about my October painting hobby, but getting to talk about my weight loss journey, in such a public forum, meant a little bit more. Carrying the power of influence is a big deal to me. Being provided such a large platform to speak about my experiences and potentially inspire someone listening had my stomach doing back flips before I went live on the air.

I took a deep breath and before I knew it, the interview was over. I felt fairly confident in how it went. I don’t think I lost my words or train of thought. Even though it was my own personal story I was telling, I am so neurotic sometimes that I had nearly convinced myself I was going to botch the whole thing. Thankfully my husband called me minutes after it ended to tell me I sounded great! The feedback I continued to get afterwards was very touching. I don’t really need that validation, but it means so much to me that people have taken time out of their day to send me a quick “thank you”.

Someone even referred to me as a health activist. By definition, these are leaders who work daily to improve the way people talk and think about health. Now I am not really into titles and I am a far cry from any sort of “leader”, but my actions that day did help to raise awareness and empowerment for those who are overweight or obese. But it isn’t just about weight loss. Yeah, that is my struggle in life, but anything going on in yours that you think you can’t overcome, you can!

The take away from my interview is that everything in life is possible. It isn’t all easy, but come on, nothing worth having ever is. The power that we all have inside of us is the power of belief. I wake up in the morning and believe that I am a healthy, fit woman. I pick foods to eat that are healthy. I exercise to be fit. I live the life of a healthy, fit woman. The secret is I chose to start doing that at 300 lbs. I believed it and now I am it.


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The least interesting thing about me is how I look

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You don’t fall down the weight loss rabbit hole and emerge “unchanged”. I look different than I did 2 years ago. Losing over 135lbs will do that. I have successfully shrunk my fat cells. (Go me! ) My thoughts about food and its role in my life is also different. But that’s it guys. That’s where the changes end. I still have the same laugh, the same heart. I have the same goals I have always had….plus a few new ones.

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I may eat slightly different from how I used to but that doesn’t stop me from eating what I want from where I want. Only now what I want to eat is healthier food. And I can get it everywhere from the little greasy back road restaurant to The Keg. There will always be something on the menu that fits the way I choose to eat. Please don’t mistake me for someone who imposes their lifestyle habits onto others. No one needs to walk on egg shells around me. You can eat chocolate cake in front of me, I won’t mind. I am the last person to sit in judgment on what other people eat. I might have personal views on some things but by no means do I think everyone should conduct themselves the way I do. Do what works for you. If you decide your lifestyle isn’t working the way you want then have the courage to make some changes. I am happy to be a source of support and a shoulder to lean on.

Even though I have adapted my every day to one where I can be healthier, I still carry the same values for my life that I did before. To get to where I am today I made the decision to act on some of them! Although I know my appearance garners the initial interest, I do not want the focus to be purely on how I look. That is such a tiny part of me and my journey. Take basic everyday functions for instance. Some things are almost brand new to me. It’s like being a toddler. You get to look at things like it is the first time.

Of course I am proud of my health achievements. I am proud to have become more fit. I like the way I look and I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting it. I worked hard to have that viewpoint and continue to work hard in appreciation for my body. I never want that pride to be confused with being vain. I also don’t want people to think that my lifestyle is so vastly different from theirs that it stops us from having things in common. My healthy lifestyle is mine and mine alone. It certainly doesn’t need to cause a divide. There is so much more to me than health and fitness. Not that I think I am all that exciting – on the contrary, my days are pretty standard, but here’s a few examples for you.

It may surprise you to know that I am entering my 10th year of running a successful small business.

I am actually missing a tooth – you would NEVER know by my smile (its a back tooth).

And during the month of October my spare time is spent free hand painting pumpkins.

None of these things have anything to do with how I eat or what I weigh. Despite me giving just the highlight reel these days, I am sure my family and friends are already getting sick of hearing about every little milestone. Although I will always remain an open book about the details of my weight loss, I know someday the fascination will fade. When that time comes it won’t bother me in the least. In the meantime my aim is to never come across as boastful or “braggy” about it. I wish to remain as humble as possible. One day we can look back fondly at that time in my life where I lost some weight.

I am about so much more than my appearance. I was when I was obese too.


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I’m Different

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I know the odds are stacked against me. I know it seemed like an uphill battle when I set out to lose over 100 lbs last year. I know some of you thought I couldn’t do it.

Today you might look at me and think that I must have amazing confidence and perseverance to have done it. You’d be right. But I also have many moments of self doubt and fear. Then I tell them to piss off.

I am not naive. I know there is a high percentage of people that gain back all their weight plus some. I know that losing weight is easy (kind of!) and maintaining is the hard part. This whole weight loss and healthy lifestyle thing is still pretty new to me but I am fully aware of those facts. This hasn’t stopped dozens of people from reminding me. You’d think losing 135 lbs (yup that’s the number now folks) would somehow give me credibility to knowing it will be a lifelong commitment to keeping the weight off? I know I will never be the person who doesn’t have to work out to maintain a fit physique. I will always have to be mindful of the food I eat. Not perfect with it. Never perfect. Just aware of my choices. Being in the moment. Which is a great philosophy to live by regardless of whether your goal is weight loss.

I wonder if people are waiting and watching me to see if I gain any of the weight back? Do they think I set my sights too high? Maybe they want to see me fail or just struggle – a bit? Would that somehow make me more human again in their eyes? More like them perhaps? Or is it that they don’t want me to get too comfortable in my new skin, get too relaxed, fall off the wagon and be disappointed with what would happen? Are they just looking out for my well being? Trying to help me stay “realistic”? Surely there are good intentions behind their words.

It’s like divorce. Someone says to you “That will never happen to my marriage.” Then you, as the divorced person think to yourself “Never say never”. I don’t care about statistics. I don’t care about your friend who gained it all back after 6 months or your Aunt who’s weight loss was a roller coaster ride and then she just gave up trying. I understand I will be in the minority of people who lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off. The difference between the people you know and the person that I am is that I have realized that I am in control. I choose. I choose how I am going to contribute to my healthy life every day I wake up. I know the consequences if I don’t.

I could shout it off the roof tops that I will never again weigh 300 lbs. Even 200 lbs. I wonder how many people would believe me?

No one else knows what I am truly capable of. There was a time when even I wasn’t so sure. Today I stay focused on the fact that I have knowledge and a pattern of consistency built into my life now. I have come to realize that there will always be skeptics. Once they realize the weight isn’t coming back I am sure the next thing I will hear is that I am too thin. I have learned that when you put your story out there you subject yourself to critique. Good or bad, it just comes with the territory. Some people DO get joy out of tearing others down. This I have known my entire life. You’d think with something so extreme (and dare I suggest, impressive?!) that I have done, that action might spare me. Nope. Just makes me a larger target.


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That tortoise was one smart guy

 

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I find it a bit alarming that just on the way to go pick up my race kit that I have butterflies in my stomach. Part of the reason is that it is a bit surreal that I am a day away from running my first 5K. I used to joke that the only time you would see me run is away from bees or an ax murderer. You can laugh but you have no idea how true that statement is. The other reason I am feeling anxious is that I am not entirely sure where the building is.

It’s called the Le Chocolat Run and the charity that is involved is Sparky’s Toy Drive along with our local Fire Fighters. Being part of a charity event is of course wonderful but reaping the rewards of chocolate and wine after the race is largely my focus. It doesn’t bother me at all that I am running in this race by myself. I don’t have many close friends who are into my new found fitness lifestyle. They support me of course, but are not necessarily participants themselves. And that is totally ok! I will admit though that sometimes it has been a bit overwhelming learning the health and fitness lingo on my own or becoming familiar with SportChek products and not looking like a fish out of water wandering around GNC. I have also slowly learned the names of some of Windsor’s finest fitness and health gurus. But there’s still a lot I don’t know. Like where the hell the Riverfront Festival Plaza Stage is.

I finally find parking NEAR where the pick up location is. I have to walk about five minutes to get to the Plaza but considering in less than 24 hours I will be full on running in a race, walking doesn’t seem all that bad. I spot the logo for Running Flat Radio and breath a sigh of relief. I spot a couple people walking towards the same area, decide that they look like runners and follow them up a set of steps and through an open door. It feels a bit like the inside of a warehouse. Not exactly what I expected but then again I really had no idea WHAT to expect. There is a small booth to the right of the entrance and a couple is standing, talking to the people behind it. As I wait my turn, assuming this is the “welcome desk” my eyes scan the room for anything relating to running. I overhear the people at the booth mention the “creamy taste”. Since the theme of this whole thing is chocolate I know for sure I am in the right spot! When the couple ahead move away from the booth I see a sign on it that says Adult Stag Shop…….along with adult toys in every colour, personal lubricant and flavoured condoms scattered all over the table like confetti. Clearly the “creamy taste” wasn’t a chocolate reference after all.

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Oh God. Words are having a hard time forming for me at this point. The people behind the booth notice my “deer in headlights” look, smile politely and point their fingers down a hall way and tell me that if I am here for the Chocolate run that the race kits are waiting for me just around the corner. My face is still a lovely shade of red as I pick up my racing number, bottles of exclusive wine and snag a race day t shirt.

I suppose it was a given that sponsors of the event might set up a little trade fair of sorts for the pick up day as there were a few other booths scattered about. They were selling water bottles and track shorts. Maybe the organizers should have planned out the booth locations a bit better? Being bombarded by sex toys two steps into the room set a unique tone and could come off as a bit confusing, especially to us noobs. Pretty sure I am still blushing as I walk back to my car.

I toss and turn most of the night. Too bad because I was as prepared as I could be. I signed up for the run back in January and built up my endurance week after week. I was ready. I got my running gear all set to go for the morning. Yet sleep wouldn’t come. Once my alarm goes off the adrenaline kicks in anyways. I make myself some yummy protein pancakes and then it is literally off to the races.

I have the best entourage with me. My mom, my husband Chris and my fitness mentor/coach Jen. All of them would probably say they are my biggest supporters. I never felt so special. We overhear that about three thousand people showed up. I believe it – there was certainly a huge crowd. Karen Newman from the Detroit Red Wings sang the national anthem and the racers were told to “get in the shoot”. There’s some racing terminology for ya. The horn sounds. I press play on my ipod and begin to run.

It’s neat that they closed down a good chunk of Riverside Drive for this event. Based on the the number of runners involved, the road is really the only place for all of us. I have driven down Riverside hundreds of times. It feels brand new when you’re running on it. At first I am a bit self conscious of how many people are already passing me. Until the group spreads out a bit it feels as though maybe I should be running faster. Like I need to be keeping up with everyone else. I work really hard at staying focused on my own pace, my stride, my breathing and not comparing myself to anyone else. I find my rhythm.

There are people lined up along the side streets. Some are by standards just out for a morning walk and stop to watch the race. Many are volunteers shouting and cheering us all on. They are ringing huge bells and applauding us. I have a little Olympic moment. Not that I am anywhere near the caliber of such athletes, but I get a sense of what that must feel like. I’ve got some extra pep in my step now.

I come upon the first hydration station. It is just like what you would see at all those professional running or biking events on T.V. A bunch of volunteers ready for you with plastic cups in hand, waiting for you to grab it from them, chug it down and keep on running. Since I have never trained using water breaks and I am really in the zone, I don’t bother with them, but smile and say thank you as I run past. My legs have that wonderful warm feeling through them. It’s not pain or an ache per say, just an “in use” feeling that I find I settle into when I’m running. Completely bearable. I am still keeping a good pace.

St. Elmo’s Fire is playing in my ear as I round the final bend towards the finish. As I get closer, my eyes start scanning the waiting crowd. All I really see are smart phones and camera lenses covering up everyone’s face. I don’t immediately spot my supporters as I cross the finish line, but I know they saw me do it. The most intense feeling of accomplishment washes over me. I walk over to a group of fire fighters waiting to put my well deserved medal around my neck. I turn and see three smiling faces calling me over to them. The first long hug goes to my husband. My rock.

I didn’t run this race to come in first in my group. I didn’t run it to beat a personal best time. Even after all of this I may never run another race! It wasn’t really about running at all. Today was a moment in time that I will always remember as me accomplishing something I never thought I would or could. It is one of many that I have lined up for myself. It doesn’t matter how fast I go on this journey because slow and steady always wins the race.