I was at our Airbnb in Melbourne, sorting through photos from that day on our recent trip to Australia, a trip that was filled with wine and dining out and three trips to McDonalds to get chicken nuggets (I literally never eat McDonalds, and for some reason, that Aussie sun made me crave them on the daily. Weird.). But I stopped flipping through the photos suddenly when I saw a capture of myself laughing candidly, unaware, with cellulite on my legs and looking about 15 pounds heavier than I thought I was in my head.
“What’s up?” Damien hovered over my shoulder and looked at the photo.
“Damien!!!! Look how big I am!” I cried out.
“What do you mean? That’s how you look.”
I literally almost killed him.
The truth is, he wasn’t being snarky, but in his own way was telling me that he didn’t see anything wrong with the photo and I look great and to stop freaking dafuq out. But there was no going back from that pic in my head. Sure, I’m used to seeing snaps of me with cellulite – no biggie, everyone has it – but seeing myself a completely different way than I’d ever seen myself before really threw me off. I didn’t recognize the person in the photo. And for someone who practices self love, I was surprised at the shame I felt. I didn’t feel good about myself, but I also didn’t feel good about hating on myself either. It was all very confusing, guys.
In my state of ‘Who the eff am I anymore?”, I came back to Toronto and vowed to go cold turkey with my old habits. I made a plan to cut out wine and sugar and ‘bad’ food completely and I was going to work out every damn day, drink only water and go to bed at 10 pm every night. I told Damien he could use the code word ‘quinoa’ to remind me of my focus every time I reached for chocolate or wine (basically a safe word for him to not get his ass kicked). I was determined to be ‘healthy’ and steadfast in my approach in hopes that a lifestyle change would transform me back to the person I saw in my head.
The first week was great. I was ON IT. I hit the gym every day, forcing myself through a workout. I went to bed at 10pm every night even on nights where I could’ve used an extra hour. I ate clean and allowed no room for error. Then slowly, life started happening again. I found I had piles of work to catch up on post vacation, and started stressing about needing to finish before 10pm. I had a few glasses of wine with my best friend for a birthday celebration and felt terrible about my lack of will power the next day. When I also remembered we had late-night poutine, well, I couldn’t have beat myself up about it more.
I was bummed. This wasn’t what this was meant to be like. I was supposed to feel BETTER about myself with all these changes, not hate on myself.
I put my feelings out to the Instagram community, asking how they manage to resist temptation and avoid all the bad stuff, and I was surprised by the resounding response that came back to me: “GIRL. Stop restricting yourself and just practice moderation.” Fitness bloggers, nutritionists, nurses, athletes, all weighed in on my woes and came back with the same advice. Even my pilates instructor told me, “You need to stop looking at foods as ‘bad’ food and ‘good’ food. If you enjoy something, just let yourself enjoy it instead of obsessing over not being able to eat it.”
All of a sudden, it made much more sense. Instead of banning things from my life, I decided to make mindful changes, not restrictive ones. I realized that as long as I ate healthy foods most of the time, there was no harm in indulging in some of my fave treats other times (and that I should never hate on myself for that). I thought of my friend Sasha, who is like, the fittest woman I know, but also never restricts herself from fulfilling her sweet tooth. If she could live a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy life, why couldn’t I?
Since I’ve started approaching my body and my habits differently, started eating with intention but allowing myself to indulge in my favourite things as well, I’ve been able to find balance in moderation. And instead of trying to do it all at once, I made three big changes to my lifestyle that have made me start to feel really good and notice a difference in myself and my health without compromising my sanity or self love.
Signed up for healthy meal delivery.
When it comes to cooking, it’s always such a chore to me – I can’t be arsed to do it, so I just end up fridge picking throughout the day. Not great for my body or my energy. So last week I started a month-long program with Eat Train Live, a local meal delivery service that sends you healthy pre-made meals. Every Sunday and Wednesday I get a delivery of 3-meals a day that last me the week, are all different and are under 500 calories. Sounds pretty sweet, huh?
Well, I gotta say – I am LOVING it. It actually makes a significant difference in my day. I always considered meal delivery a bit of an investment and indulagence, and it is for sure, but it’s an investment into my health and time-management. Because rather than grabbing food from the pantry or ordering take-out when I’m swamped with work, I have a whole fridge of DELICIOUS fresh food already prepared that just needs to be heated up. And I actually look forward to these healthy meals! My faves so far are the gluten/sugar-free sweet potato breakfast waffles and the flank steak with veg – packed with flavour, juicy and super fresh.
Discovered a new way to work-out
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m never gonna love cardio. And that’s okay. Instead of forcing myself to run every day, I tried a few new workouts and found one near my place that I actually love, in a studio that I love even more. The first time I stepped into Framewrk, I never looked back – it’s a beautiful loft space, with a relaxed and welcoming vibe and an owner (Josephine) who makes you feel like an old friend from the moment she meets you. I signed up for the Essentrics class, not having any idea what the hell that was, and after an hour of fluid movements to lengthen and strengthen, I felt amazing. My ass and legs were on fire, but I felt amazing nonetheless. It was the first time that I found a workout I couldn’t wait to do again, in a space where I look forward to spending an hour of my day. If you want to improve your fitness game, it’s so important to find something that excites and motivates you – otherwise it feels like a chore and you’ll start putting other things before it.
Photo by Bettina Bogar
Went through a digital cleanse
In changing my attitude towards doing things that make me feel good, I realized that I also needed to change the way I use social media. It’s such a massive part of my life, and whether I like it or not, can affect my mood, my focus and my self esteem. So I did a bit of a digital cleanse and stopped engaging with content that didn’t excite me, make me feel good about myself or educate me. I realized I was following a lot of accounts on social media simply because that person was part of the blogging industry or because they were following me, but it wasn’t inspiring me. So I cleansed my feeds, curated them to my interests, and it’s helped me narrow down what information I intake from social, a space that can be scarily overwhelming.
Although I’ve just started these changes in my life, I already feel a difference in the way I think about myself and my actions. I focus on the positives rather than the negatives. If I skip a pilates class to sleep in, I think back to the three other classes I did during the week. If I have some wine on a Friday night, it’s no problem because I ate fairly clean during the week. I love my body, aging and evolving, and I want to take care of it, but also want to make sure it has a little fun too.
And if Damien ever says the word ‘quinoa’ to me again, it better be to let me know what we’re having for dinner.