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!

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!

If It Looks Too Good To Be True…

Hey guys! Welcome to this week’s episode of me crushing all your hopes and dreams. That sounds harsh, but I can’t help but feel a little bit bad about this blog… You see, I was once like you, dear reader. I would look on Pinterest, or at my Low Carb cookbooks, and see all these wonderful recipes for “Healthy Chocolate Cake” and “Healthy Pizza” and think “Wow! I can still eat all my favourite foods and lose weight?! Life is awesome!”

And then I gained over 70 pounds by the end of my pregnancy and a year and a half later I still have those ever frustrating last 20 pounds to shed. Well, 10 or 15 pounds now, but you get my point.

But it said it was a HEALTHY cheesecake!

But it said it was a HEALTHY cheesecake!

Le sigh.

Unfortunately this is a sad truth for most women. We’ll make these awesome sounding “healthy” recipes, and as the years go by keep putting on more and more weight and never really know why.

God damn you Pinterest, you lying bastard!

LIES

LIES

Which brings me to this week’s Uncomfortable Truth:

If It Looks Too Good To Be True, It Is

This is a very, very dangerous game we play with ourselves. For some reason, healthy scares us. I personally blame cartoons. Every character’s favourite food is cookies, or pizza, or ice cream. And what happens when a Brussels sprout pops on screen? They freak out and vomit every where. I didn’t touch a Brussels sprout until I was 27! And you know what? They are freakin’ delicious.

The only exception.

The only exception.

So because of this programming we’ve been bombarded with, unbeknownst to us since we were infants, we’re convinced that healthy can’t be tasty. What are you nuts? Who would ever choose to eat salad over pizza?! If the Ninja Turtles choose pizza, then so do I. If Homer Simpson says “You don’t win friends with salad” then who am I to argue? If the Cookie Monster devours every cookie in sight…

My childhood. No pizza could ever compare.

My childhood. No pizza could ever compare.

You get my point.

But as my palate has learned in this last year or so of experimenting with new foods, healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. It doesn’t mean having to eat “bird food” or things that taste like dirt. You just need to be interested enough to learn about healthy food, and how to best prepare it so it tastes a thousand times better than a bucket of deep fried chicken parts.

Yum? Not since I discovered the deliciousness that is anything else!

Yum? Not since I discovered the deliciousness that is anything else!

To go back to my original point, I get violently angry now when I research new healthy recipes on Pinterest. You know what I find? People trying to fake healthy. People so desperate to hold on to their favourite foods they’ll change them just enough to deem it “healthy” to the untrained eye.

You know what’s healthy? Cauliflower.

Actual yum!

Healthy.

You know what’s not healthy? Cauliflower coated in so much cheese you can barely even taste it.

Not healthy.

Not healthy.

Don’t hide your vegetables under bad food. That will only trick you into thinking you’re eating good so you put your guard down, pig out, and gain weight. Even if you don’t pig out, a cauliflower crusted pizza is still pizza. It’s not only the bread that makes pizza bad. Cheese is very, very high in calories. It also has a very high glycemic index, meaning it is much more likely to boost your blood sugar and make you gain weight faster than other foods with the same amount of calories.

When it comes to wanting something sweet… I get it. I really, really, really get it. When it comes to sugar cravings, some days I don’t know how I’ll get through it. Now, most people think that that’s sad. It’s sad that I can want something so bad and “deprive” myself of it. But do you know what I want more than that cookie? A body I can be proud of. Sugar cravings will pass. The taste of the cookie is gone 20 seconds after that last bite. But the feeling of pride I get from overcoming the craving, that lasts forever.

So when you want some dessert… There’s not much you can do. Sure, you can make these “gluten free” cookies or cake or muffins, but they’re not going to help you lose weight. If it looks too good to be true, it is. If you want to lose weight, don’t bake anything. Not even gluten free anything. If it has sugar in it in any form, if it has carbs in it in any form (gluten free included!) It. Will. Make. You. Gain. Weight.

Gluten free does not mean it's healthy.

Gluten free does not equal healthy.

A healthy dessert to have once in a while would be a cup of plain Greek yogurt with a handful of berries in it and no more than a tablespoon of organic honey. It’s not going to taste like ice cream. It’s not going to taste like cheesecake. But it is tasty in it’s own right.

That’s the scary change we need to make. We need to stop dressing up healthy food and expect it to taste like bad food. Bad food is delicious, there’s no denying it. But we pay a price for it. Start appreciating the subtle and delicious flavors of healthy food.

So that’s the question you need to ask yourself. Are you willing to sacrifice a body you can be proud of forever for 5 minutes with something that tastes good? A moment on the lips forever on the hips isn’t just a cheeky old saying to make you want to punch your Grandma in the face. It’s a hard fact.

Smart ass.

Smart ass.

The change needs to start with us. We need to change our palates. It won’t be easy at first, but nothing great is ever easy at first. Start small, find some delicious sounding really tasty recipes (I have a ton of them on Pinterest!) and start there. Then start experimenting, get really interested in what you’re cooking. Before you know it you’ll dive in to a spinach salad with orange pieces and red pepper and a balsamic vinaigrette with the same passion you once dove into a poutine with bacon.

Don’t fear healthy. Healthy food is actually delicious, and it leaves you feeling energized, and most importantly… It leaves you feeling proud.

What are some of your biggest road blocks when it comes to weight loss? Sound off below!

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

Monday Never Comes

Welcome back! Okay, I hate to break it to you, but I took it a little easy on you last week. When it comes to weight loss, you can’t step lightly (pun not entirely intended) White lies and easy truths are what got us here. Hearing a thousand times “You’re only pregnant for a little while, it’s okay to be fat!” or “Oh come on, it’s only one cookie! What’s the harm?” Is what made me gain double what I should have while pregnant. It’s why even though I’m 4 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, my stomach is still a train wreck. I could keep the cycle going, tell you pretty lies so you feel better for a minute… But that’s not going to get us anywhere. The first step is to be okay with being uncomfortable. An easy, comfortable life will only keep packing the pounds on year after year. Even if it’s just 2 pounds by year’s end, after ten years…. You do the math. To lose weight, you need to take the good with the bad. So, without any further ado, here is our next Uncomfortable Truth…

Monday Never Comes

Okay, obviously this isn’t entirely true. Monday always does seem to come around every seven days give or take. But if I had a nickel for every woman, myself included, I heard say “Ah screw it, give me a piece of cake and a milkshake after my potato skins and cheeseburger, the diet starts Monday!” I would be a multi billionaire by now. This is a cop out. This is looking at starting a diet as losing something. So long as you’re looking at fatty foods and sugary treats as something that should be treasured, you’re never going to stick to a diet. You’re never going to be happy.

When I was quitting smoking, I read a book called The Easy Way To Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. It was a total game changer. Especially because while reading it, I realized a lot of it could also apply to my sugar addiction. Sugar is a drug. It spikes your blood sugar, makes you feel euphoric for a minute, then you crash and crave more. Consuming sugar makes you want more sugar. Just like cigarettes. For simplicity’s sake, count simple carbs (white bread etc) as sugar as well. Simple carbohydrates almost instantly break down into sugar in your bloodstream. That’s why you can consume so much bread in one sitting, it just makes you want more. In order to start a diet and stick to it, you need to change the way you think about food.

One thing I started doing that really helped was this: 6 days a week I think of food as fuel to make my body go. And since I want to keep this body going for a while, I need to give it high quality fuel. Pretty simple right? And also entirely a fact. If you fill yourself full of Cheetos and Twinkies you may not die immediately, although you may feel like you want to, but your quality of life is undoubtedly going to be lessened. When I made the switch off of carbs it completely blew my mind. Sugar, in a nutshell, makes you feel like a giant bag of garbage covered in poo. But because I lived my life in that poo covered sack, I didn’t know any better. It’s like watching a movie in black and white, you don’t see it after a while. Until you turn on MTV in the 90s and get blasted with hyper color and realize just how much you were missing! When I’m on my diet and not eating sugar and carbs, I feel like a million bucks. I don’t need half as much coffee, I don’t get an afternoon burnout, and most importantly I feel good and energized after a meal, not sickly and bloated and like I just need to rest for a minute. It was the exact opposite of the life I had been living. And I haven’t looked back.

So to sum it up, if you want to feel good and healthy and proud all the time, if you want to wake up in the morning feeling energized and ready to face the day, and if you want to live your life not feeling like you’re missing out on something, then you need to step up. Face your fears. Google what sugar does to you. What carbs do to you. Or just accept that the hype is true, you are better off without it, and consider today your Monday.

You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lasttwentypounds and I’m on Twitter @Last20Pounds and also on Pinterest as The Last Twenty Pounds: An Uncomfortable Truth. Follow along for lots of great daily tips, tricks, information and inspiration. See you next week!