Use it or Lose It

Hey everyone! For a few weeks I had been letting my at-home morning workouts slide. Doing constant push-ups on the counter started giving me a repetitive strain injury in my elbows (ouch), my babe was (and still is) teething his molars, and a thousand and one other things got in the way. So frustrating! I love working out, but sometimes you just can’t seem to make it happen.

But I noticed something interesting. My coffee intake massively increased, my general interest level started dropping and my energy levels plummeted.

Hunh?

Hunh?

You would think that since I wasn’t pushing myself super hard every day I would have more energy! My body wouldn’t be using up all it’s energy healing itself, I would have more time… But no. The exact opposite happened. My body started shutting down.

This week’s Uncomfortable Truth:

Use it or Lose It

I’ve talked about this before: We are living in the 21st century walking around in bodies designed for cavemen. We pack on the pounds quicker and easier than we lose them, we instinctively check our surroundings every 7 minutes give or take (start watching for it!), and we are designed to move. Our bodies start to hate us after a while if we don’t let them loose! Basically: Our bodies are hyper active puppies. If we don’t take them out for daily walks and let them run around and smell the trees, they get depressed.

OMG EVERYTHING!!!!

OMG EVERYTHING!!!!

In order to keep your body in peak physical form, you do need to use it. I wrote a blog a few weeks ago called Abs are Made in the Kitchen. This is very true, you can’t have a great body with a bad diet (unless you’re a kid running around at level 11 all day every day) but you also won’t have a happy body unless you allow it to move.

Exercise works wonders on our bodies and our minds. By pushing our bodies to move faster, lift heavier, breathe harder; we’re allowing our bodies to do what they were designed to do. We were not designed to sit in front of a computer all day. We were designed to run, lift, carry and jump for hours on end on very little food. Obviously I’m not saying starve yourself, but I am saying our bodies are starving for action.

OMG EVERYTHING!!!!

OMG EVERYTHING!!!!

If you compare our western cultures to those on the other side of the globe, you will see a very noticeable difference. Here, we’re suffering from an obesity epidemic. Illnesses due to poor diets and lack of exercise are greatly on the rise. When I went to community college, it was cheaper to get a heaping plate of fries drowned in gravy than it was to get a small plate of vegetables. And when you do get vegetables, it’s cheaper to get the ones dosed in toxic chemicals. Then you look at Eastern cultures… Children in China eat cucumbers as a tasty snack as opposed to Twinkies. Look at their sidewalk vendors: Where we have hotdogs, they have corn on the cob. Even people in their 80s are still running marathons!

Yes. This is real. Photo Credit: @LoneCaravan

Yes. This is real. Photo Credit: @LoneCaravan

It is possible to stay healthy and full of energy until long after we’ve typically given up in the west, but it does require some work. We need to give our bodies a purpose; a challenge. Those days when you feel the most like giving up are the days you need to push yourself harder.

Perfect example! I used to get sick. A lot. The last couple winters before I met my manfriend I had no less than 5 colds per winter. No joke. No exaggeration. Within 4 months I had 5 colds. Probably even 6. Know why? Because the second I felt that little tickle in my throat, I gave up. “Oh woe is me! I’m getting the sniffles! Better lay down.”

Pathetic.

In the four years we’ve been together I have had one cold. Total. Maybe two at most. Because I stopped giving in at the first sign of trouble and started fighting. Plus, I became a mother, and as we all know moms don’t get sick days. So now when I feel a throat tickle coming on I take 6 1000 mg Vitamin C capsules with an Emergen-C drink, I sleep a little more, and I work a little harder.

Much harder to do when there's a baby screaming for you and a kitchen that needs cleaning and supper that needs to be prepped... Someone pass me the Vitamin C, I'm going in!

Much harder to do when there’s a baby screaming for you and a kitchen that needs cleaning and supper that needs to be prepped… Someone pass me the Vitamin C, I’m going in!

Yes you read that right, I work HARDER. Working less does nothing but give your body less incentive to work more. The less you work, the less you want to work, so the less you work, and down the spiral you go.

Our bodies are designed beautifully, this is very true. But there is one major flaw:

The less you use it, the more you lose it.

It is actually a brilliant survival technique. What we don’t need, we shed. Did you know that when astronauts arrive in space, their first pee is chock-full of calcium? Gross, but also fascinating! Due to the lack of gravity, the lack of constant pressure on their bones, they don’t need all that bone mass so they start shedding it to be more energy efficient.

So long bone density! Hello moon walking. Level: expert

So long bone density! Hello moon walking. Level: Expert

The same thing happens across the board. What we don’t use, we inevitably lose. Muscles get weaker over time, bone density goes away, connective tissue weakens… Slowly our bodies start to fall apart and weaken if we stop using them.

So stop letting your body waste away long before its time! There is absolutely no excuse. I am insanely busy, and I still make time to work out every morning. I often joke that I have an entire day long before noon. Designate a corner to be your workout area, set up some of those baby play mats from Walmart, and get to it! The hardest part is getting up to the point where you’re about to start. Once you get started, your body takes over. Because your body wants to workout! It’s your brain that gets in the way. Now that I’ve been back on my workout schedule for the last two weeks, I feel amazing! I’m drinking less coffee, I’m sleeping better, I’m getting more done in the run of the day, and I am all around more interested and more happy. Plus I’m getting my muscle definition back again, always a fantastic feeling. What more could you ask for?

You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lasttwentypounds and on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/last20pounds and on Twitter as @Last20Pounds. See you next week!

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Ignorance Will Steal Your Bliss

Happy St. Paddy’s Day one and all! I hope you’re all celebrating responsibly and feeling the luck o’ the Irish. If you are one of the many today over indulging, more power to you! Just remember the calories do count, and tomorrow will come, so make smart decisions.

On to today’s topic: Ignorance. Growing up, we were utterly and completely and blissfully unaware of the importance of food. We knew we had to finish what was on our plates because there were (and are) starving children in Africa. But that was about the start and finish of what we knew about food.

Unfortunately for some of us, our nutritional education ended there. I didn’t know eating bread would make me fat. I had no idea there were certain foods you should eat at certain times of the day. I certainly didn’t know eating an entire plate of mashed potatoes was considered unhealthy. I was completely clueless! I lived in a world of blissful ignorance… Until I hit my 20s. Then chaos ensued.

These count as a vegetable right?

These count as a vegetable right?

Today’s Uncomfortable Truth:

Ignorance Will Steal Your Bliss

Food only meant pleasure to me growing up. I like Coke. I want Coke. I drink Coke now. Little did I know it was rotting my teeth (which I wouldn’t discover until I went to the dentist at 26 after not going for 5 years and discovered I had my first SEVEN cavities) and it was changing my body in ways I would inevitably grow to regret. We always had sweets in our house. Cookies, cake, pop, crackers, chips, you name it we had it. We never thought anything of it. It was just food! We had no idea that eventually we would grow up, stop running around like maniacs, our metabolism would slow down, and we would get fat. It was an unavoidable truth of which we were blissfully ignorant.

Today: A ridiculously hard workout we would dread. Then: The bestest day ever!

Today: A ridiculously hard workout we would dread. Then: The bestest day ever!

My weight roller-coastered like crazy when my metabolism started slowing down. Honestly it started when I was still a kid, around grade 5 or 6 I started to pudge out. We moved into a new house with satellite TV and I would sit there for hours devouring all these cartoons I had never seen before. Then around the end of Jr. High I started walking more and I slimmed back down again. By the end of High School however my fate was sealed. I had developed the mother of all sweet tooths, and nothing could have stopped that train wreck. Except maybe some information, a glimpse into my future… But even then I doubt it. It’s like I said in a previous blog: Weight gain was some abstract notion of something that might happen in the future. But that pizza was sitting in front of me at that moment looking and smelling irresistible.

After that it was a gong show. I ballooned up to 170 pounds before I even knew what hit me. That’s when I started fighting back. I didn’t have the tools, but I had motivation. I started walking more, I attempted to watch what I was eating. I was broke, living with some friends in the city, so not having money for groceries most weeks really helped me drop some pounds. Plus walking everywhere since I couldn’t really afford transportation was a major bonus.

Sweet one more block and I'll have worked off that Cheeto I had for brunch.

Sweet one more block and I’ll have worked off that Cheeto I had for brunch.

It all turned around when I met the man I’m still with today. I was in good shape, thanks to the broke girl diet, and we would spend all of our time outside. Hiking, exploring, it was amazing! Before I knew it I was in great shape. Then I went on unemployment and basically became a bump on a log for a few months. The pounds started slowly stacking up more and more… Luckily, he wasn’t like everyone else I knew up until that point. He didn’t pat me on the head and hand me a brownie to make me feel better about gaining weight. He helped me. He started researching healthy eating and gently pointed me in the right direction. He would come over and take me out for walks, show me exercises I could do, basically he snapped me out of it. He showed me that I was the one in control. Weight gain wasn’t “just happening” to me, I was making it happen to me.

Our first summer together! We would run all over Peggy's Cove. I believe at this point in time I was trying to jump to that next rock and not feeling too confident... Hence the face.

Our first summer together! We would run all over Peggy’s Cove. I believe at this point in time I was trying to jump to that next rock and not feeling too confident… Hence the face.

And I was the only one who could turn it around.

So I started going to the gym, tracking my weight, really watching my diet. It was fantastic! For the first time in my life I felt like a winner. Then a year later I got pregnant and all hell broke loose again.

Boom! And this was before I thought I put on "too much" weight. Eep!

Boom! And this was before I thought I put on “too much” weight. Eep!

Gah! Life. It always manages to get in the way. At that point in the story, most women would give up. Hell, a lot of them have. It’s one thing to gain the “Freshman 15” and bounce back. It’s quite another to gain the “Pregnant Lady 70” and have your skin lose its ability to “bounce back.” But I have fought tooth and nail to get here. I wanted to quit. More times than I can count. But I knew I didn’t want to live the rest of my life like that. I didn’t want to die a little every time I looked in the mirror. I didn’t want to think my partner was lying to me every time he told me I was beautiful. I wanted to earn it. I wanted to be a MILF. Yep, I said it. Vanity is a funny thing. It can be the death of us, or it can be the perfect motivating factor to kick it into high gear.

Yep, that's the baby in my arms... So why do I look even bigger than in that last picture? I'll give you a hint... I wasn't just "swollen" from being pregnant. I didn't know how to eat properly. Hard lesson to learn.

Yep, that’s the baby in my arms… So why do I look even bigger than in that last picture? I’ll give you a hint… I wasn’t just “swollen” from being pregnant. I didn’t know how to eat properly. Hard lesson to learn.

So yes, ignorance has stolen my bliss time and time again. I’m sure many of you have very similar stories. It’s not fun to put it all on front street. To completely own up to our failures. But when you do, you take your power back.

I am the one who got me fat. It wasn’t the Oreo commercials. It wasn’t the inventors of the Caramilk bar (bastards.) And it certainly wasn’t Ben or Jerry. It was me. I alone put on all that weight.

And I alone took it off again.

Back in my pre-baby clothes!!! Best. Feeling. Ever.

Back in my pre-baby clothes!!! Best. Feeling. Ever.

I can now state with overwhelming pride that I weigh less than I did when I got pregnant. We started the Slow Carb Diet one year ago. I weighed in at a whopping 186 pounds. I am now down to 135. It is the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced. Second only to having a baby, obviously.

I know you can do it too! It’s never too late. It’s never impossible. The only thing standing in your way is YOU. Stop letting ignorance steal your bliss. Do some research, keep reading my blog, follow me on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/last20pounds and Facebook at www.facebook.com/lasttwentypounds for tons of amazing recipes and motivation. You don’t have to do this alone. I’ve already made the path, you just need to follow it.

Losing Weight Won’t Fix The Problem… But It’s A Great Place To Start

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you’re all starting your week off right and feeling fabulous! But I know for some of you it’s only Monday and already you’re feeling like a failure. It’s okay. We all have those days, those weeks, those months. It happens.

The important thing is to not beat yourself up for it. Understand that you made a mistake somewhere, own it, and move on. Don’t let yourself stay down in the dark place.

But most importantly, don’t let yourself make the dark place more comfortable.

This week’s Uncomfortable Truth:

Losing Weight Won’t Fix The Problem… But It’s A Great Place To Start

I’ve seen a few different articles and images on my Facebook feed over the last week that were all instant red flags. They all seemed really nice and supportive, helping people feel better, which is all fantastic. But when someone breaks their leg, do you want to make them feel better for having a broken leg while keeping the leg broken? Or make them feel better while helping them to fix the leg?

Hey girl, we're all here. You're really depressed you gained 5 pounds? Cool we'll be right there with a large pizza, let's talk.

Hey girl, we’re all here. You’re really depressed you gained 5 pounds? Cool we’ll be right there with a large pizza, let’s talk.

The general idea in these articles was that losing weight won’t make you happy.

This is such a dangerous statement and made me want to punch the author in the face.

All I saw was the headline. I didn’t have to read the article to know what it said. I’ve read it a thousand different times by a thousand different authors.

“There’s no such thing as happy skinny people.”

“Food is life!”

“Don’t deprive yourself, enjoy your life and be happy!”

Yadda yadda yadda.

It’s another Comfortable Lie. They make the reader feel better about giving up on losing weight. “Well it won’t make me happy! Bring on the cheesecake!” I speak from experience. I too have fallen prey to these misguided articles time and time again.

Losing weight won't make me happy?! God dammit where's my cheesecake?

Losing weight won’t make me happy?! God dammit where’s my cheesecake?

They are trying to do good, don’t get me wrong. But the point isn’t to make someone feel good about their failures. We should be helping people see where they failed and how they can do better.

Now, they did come pretty close to hitting a very, very important truth. A truth that absolutely does need to be known to everyone.

Being overweight isn’t the problem. It’s a symptom of the problem.

If you were to wake up tomorrow and be your dream weight, you wouldn’t be happy.

Well, obviously you’d be happy.

Thank you magical weight loss fairy!

Thank you magical weight loss fairy!

But that happiness would be fleeting.

Sure you could go out and try on all the bikinis, wear all your old clothes you haven’t seen in a decade, walk down the street and feel proud…

But after a while, this gnawing feeling would start to creep back in…

That hole, the one you were trying to fill with food, would start to ache again.

Someone get me a cookie, I'm feeling my feelings again...

Someone get me a cookie, I’m feeling my feelings again…

We don’t eat because we’re overweight.

We’re overweight because we eat.

And we eat because we’re unhappy.

Look at the times you’re most likely to binge. Now look at the base emotion of these times:

Really happy occasions that simultaneously depress us because we’re alone/overweight/getting older etc. For example: Birthdays, parties, holidays.

Really sad occasions; losses, someone close to you is hurting, sad movies even.

Stress and boredom I’m sure are all on the list as well.

When we don’t want to deal with our feelings, we bury them under a pound of ice cream.

It’s our feelings that need fixing.

But do you know what is actually fantastic for feeling better?

DOING SOMETHING!

Who needs diet pills and Prozac when you have a mop and a bucket?

Who needs diet pills and Prozac when you have a mop and a bucket?

Doing anything! When I start to feel a mean case of the munchies coming on I don’t sit and stew. I drink a glass of water or make some black coffee, and I clean! I’ll scrub the bathroom, mop the floors, dust all the windows; In other words, I extrovert.

What’s better than cleaning?

Working out! If I didn’t have a baby, you better believe I would be at the gym at least 5 days a week. As it is I plank and push-up and stretch whenever I have a free 60 seconds.

Wait... Why was I sad again?

Wait… What was I sad about?

As Elle Woods put it so beautifully in Legally Blond “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!”

If you’re actively working on improving your health in one way or another, you’re going to feel better.

So no, waking up tomorrow and magically being your dream weight and body shape won’t fix the problem.

It’s the long road to that body; It’s the dedication and discipline and self discovery; That is what will make you feel better.

She just realized she hasn't even thought about a cookie in 6 months.

She just realized she hasn’t even thought about a cookie in 6 months.

What are some of the major realizations you’ve had on your road to success? Sound off below!

You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lasttwentypounds and on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/last20pounds and Twitter @Last20Pounds. See you next week!