X-Weighted and pushing back

Tackling obesity in youth is a big freaking deal.

What gets me the most is that kids just don’t arrive in this world shoving junk in their faces and sitting around in front of the TV. Nope. As parents, we play a huge part in this.

It kills me to see families taking their kids to McDonald’s regularly or giving the kids Gatorade or pop, and filling their lunches with packaged foods. I did all of this. As parents, we brought the potato chips into the house, didn’t limit the video gaming time, and fed the kids processed foods in the name of time and convenience for ourselves.

In 2009, my family did a Canadian TV program called “X-Weighted.” X-Weighted follows the get-in-shape journey of individuals over a period of six months. Our season of the show featured children and families. My husband and I were both obese, and our junior high-aged boys were overweight.

All of the chubby little kids that season were not feeding themselves junk or sitting on the couch for no reason. The parents have a huge impact. Well – this was us. We were a part of the problem. If not THE problem.

So, we decided to do something about it under the eye of a nation. Or at least, whoever watched the Slice Network.

We got on the show after they’d already started filming due to another family dropping out; that left us with three months of filming. The production company gave us $1,000 towards fitness-related costs. We chose to purchase bikes. Otherwise, we were on our own to figure out what to do to get in shape. The film crew was just there to record the story as it unfolded.

Our first step was to set a goal: at the end of the three months we wanted to do a family bike and hike adventure in the mountains, and be in good enough shape that this wouldn’t kill us and leave us as bear snax in the wilderness.

Second, we tossed out the crap food from the house. Processed foods, mostly. (I became a huge carb Nazi, which I know now was a little extreme, but it worked at the time.) Being the mom and the one who produced 98% of the family meals, I felt an extreme pressure to feed my crew with good stuff – whether they liked it or not. I had to develop a pretty thick skin.

Third, we got active. We hired a trainer, Jordan Galloway, to train us as a family. He had simple, effective boot-camp and gym-based workouts for us twice a week for about 10 weeks. We all pushed through and learned this stuff together, and Jordan worked brilliantly with the boys. The other side of getting active was to do something each evening and weekend that we weren’t meeting with Jordan. We didn’t limit the video gaming time, per se, but we just packed the schedule with walking, swimming, bike rides etc. Both boys learned to ride bikes during this time.

Fourth, we supported each other. This was tricky. My husband is super competitive and always wanted to win the weigh-ins, bike the farthest and burn the most calories. Having young teen boys, this sometimes backfired rather than inspired the kids. Overall, we encouraged and motivated one another to be better – for ourselves and our kids’ health down the road.

I learned a lot about our family during these three months:

  • We’d been doing A LOT around food: snacks at movies, snacks at football games, special seasonal meals, etc. It was disheartening to learn so many of our favourite/regular foods were not really high in nutritional value.
  • When given no choices, the kids conformed and responded nicely. Seriously – taking on that parent role of guiding the kids in their eating habits was beneficial. When they left to go on sleepovers or out with their friends, they knew to make the “best” choices.
  • Taking care of the family felt really positive. My husband supported me in all the menu plans that came to the table. He used to be the first one to say “I don’t like what we’re having for dinner” and go make his own, and eat in front of the TV. Having a united front was a big deal, and eating together at the table, so important.

Over the three months, my husband lost 30 lbs, I lost 29 and the boys each lost 19. Huge difference. We did this by maintaining a healthy nutritional intake and being active. No pills, no shakes, no magic drug. We wrapped it all up with a wonderful family holiday of biking and hiking in Lake Louise and Lake O’Hara.

But you know, what worried me the most was that this wouldn’t stick. I think I even said on camera that I would never want to be 29lbs heavier again, ever. Ever. Why would I do that to myself?

What happened?

Well… we didn’t keep our trainer, Jordan, after the show was done. It was an extra expense that seemed like a luxury. Without Jordan, we didn’t continue the more intense workouts. We did still go out and do things as a family, but we didn’t feel the pressure or obligation to do it quite as often without the cameras on.

Slowly – very slowly – white bread started creeping back in on demand from the family, and the whole grains mostly disappeared. I stopped being the carb Nazi and didn’t push greens as much as I used to. Meal planning – a huge amount of work – fell off the wagon a bit. Bagels, coffee with cream/sugar and the occasional box of Timbits started being a weekly treat from Tim Hortons. “I’ve lost 29 lbs, I deserve a treat.” It took less than a year to lose most of the healthy habits developed during the show. And then I started to gain…

First it was an extra 5lbs back on. Then 7. Then 10lbs, then 15lbs. Eventually, by 2013, I was back up and beyond my starting weight with the show. S-E-R-I-O-U-S-L-Y.

Perhaps part of the challenge is that I never sat down and addressed some of the issues that got me to that weight in the first place. WHY I am morbidly obese. WHY I now want to lose weight. What are my issues, man?? (And trust me, I’m still working on those right now)

Without getting to the meat of the problem, my newfound “fitness” was temporary.

With the exception of my oldest son, all of us gained weight back.

Which is ridiculous.

That’s part of the reason why, in January 2014, I decided to do something about my health, weight and fitness. I know I’ve done it before, and can do it again. So far, this go around, it’s taken me A LOT LONGER. Instead of 3 months to lose 29 lbs, it’s taken me 6 months to lose 35 lbs.

Every single pound is a fight. A lotta blood, sweat and tears.

And I feel like I’m doing it ALONE.

It takes serious drive and stamina (I’m breaking a mental sweat over here, people) to bring in the good stuff and be that lone example in a family of four. Okay, I shouldn’t play the martyr…I’ve been reaching out to friends and thank goodness I have awesome adventure buddies to do things with. BUT they’re not in my house, and seeing me every day, and checking on me to make the right decisions.

Moving forward into the latter half of my FAT TO FIT journey, I’m making promises to myself:

  • The groceries I’m buying are super healthy. I will not pay for any groceries that are crap food. If my husband is along, throwing processed food in my cart, he can pay for that stuff himself. (I know that doesn’t entirely solve the problem but I need to take a stand)
  • I will continue to be a low-key, positive influence in the lives of my family and figure out how to draw them in with love, affection and adoration to be healthier every day.
  • I will invite, invite, invite everyone around me – family, friends, strangers – to be a part of my fitness journey, challenge groups, whatever. Let’s just be ACTIVE.
  • I will get fit.
  • I will not give up.

All said and done, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that working for something good, awesome, right, etc takes time and commitment.

Do it for yourself, and for the positive impact it will have on the people around you, like your family and your little ones.  I wish I had my act together when I was a young mum… a healthier start for MY kids.  Make the change NOW!!

(Wow – second ranting post of the week…lol)

PS: I would link to our X-Weighted episode for you but Slice has removed the majority (if not all) of the X-Weighted episodes from the Slice Network website. If you catch us on re-runs, we  originally aired December 24, 2009, in the episode titled “Hugh.” In all our crazy glory.

Partners & peeps – embrace the revolution

So, you’re on this journey. Of health, fitness, well-being and overall awesomeness.  And you co-habituate or have a delightful significant other with whom you spend copious amounts of time. And they are not with the program.

Maybe they’re quietly observing from the sidelines.

Maybe you’ve had to turn down a meal or activity you’ve typically done in the past. (Ask me about the endless bags of potato chips that regularly appear on my kitchen counter. It’s like we have a tree in the back yard or something.)

Maybe you’d like to be doing something physical while they’d rather engage in a more sedentary activity.

Maybe they bring home unhealthy snacks and treats and drinks, and eat them while gazing deeply into your eyes.

When you change and are getting stronger, it can be threatening. Empowering for you, but a danger to them. Why? Well – its change, baby. You’re rocking the boat, kicking the hive. You’ve decided to move in a new direction for your own health and well-being. It takes everyone out of their comfort zone.

It’s possible they think they’ll lose you or perhaps it’s triggering something negative in them.

While I’m full on supportive of all-around heath, take it slow and keep it low when introducing the new you to your husband, wife, bestie, etc. Don’t hide it under a bushel, mind you (own it! be proud! love it!) but don’t flaunt it in front of those who could be struggling with both the new YOU and their own desire to make a change. They may not be quite ready yet.

You don’t owe anybody your energy: if they’re sucking you dry, step quietly away from the negativity. Surround yourself with like-minded people, and don’t return to the old gang for affirmation when chances are, you’re clearly not going to get it.

Stick to it. You know, there are people out there watching. Watching to see if you can hang on to this new you. Might be for a month, might be for a year before they acknowledge your efforts and accomplishments. Be that awesome example for them and everyone around you.

Re-phrase your thoughts. Rather than saying to them “I can’t eat that” or “I have to go work out”, try “I want to eat something with more nutrition” or “I’m making time to work out.” Just flip it a bit.  Invite them to try something with you.  Embrace your positive spin and love that you’re being healthy – don’t resent the fact you “can’t” eat ice cream and binge watch 8 seasons of something on Netflix. (Haha – not that that’s a HORRIBLE thing…sometimes we do need to flake out…)

Sometimes this road can be really lonely. Whether you want to start, but your partner doesn’t; or whether you’re already travelling this path… At those times, it seems like you may as well just sit on your ass and do nothing. Don’t fall for that.

Just keep going.

Never give up.

Well, that was a little visit to the soapbox, wasn’t it?

 

 

AWOL

If you don’t hear from me in quite some time, it’s not because I’m off on an exotic holiday, or that I reached my goal weight and am done blogging… No, it usually means I’m up to no good. And didn’t really want to or know how to share those shenanigans.

Following my 21 Day Fix (woohoo) I checked out mentally. Totally. For like, almost 2 weeks. I was still loosely following the plan in an attempt at round 2 of the Fix, but I skipped some workouts and didn’t eat totally on plan. Maybe I just needed a break?

I’ve really got to ease up on my all or nothing issues (ahhh balance – always my challenge). PiYo trainer, Chalene Johnson, says that if you follow the 80/20 rule, that’s just fine: stick to your program 80% of the time and you’re doing great. I’ll try to keep that in mind.

THE GOOD NEWS is that I’m back 100% and feeling good:

  • Fun times at the Color Me Rad 5K with a great bunch of ladies.
  • My 60-day PiYo challenge group kicked off yesterday with a group of women who are ready to make a change – so excited.
  • My epic hiking trips are just around the corner, the mountains are calling…
  • I sat down and inked a workout regime combining the 21 Day Fix & PiYo sessions plus a running schedule in preparation for my 21K in the September.
  • Summer arrived in Edmonton: sun is out, heat is on. I have a glorious farmer’s tan.

Happy middle of July! Talk soon. xox

21 Day Fix review

21 Day Fix is an at-home workout and meal portioning program by trainer (and bikini competitor!) Autumn Calabrese, who promises that you can lose up to 15 lbs in just three weeks, or your money back. (Everyone loves a good money-back guarantee, yes?)

Why I love it
In brief – it taught me proper portion sizes and got me working out daily.

My results
With the 21 Day Fix I lost 5.5 inches and 7.5 lbs in three weeks.

Who will benefit
The 21 Day Fix is a very basic regime of workouts and healthy eating. If you want to…

  • Kick start an epic weight loss journey
  • Get off a weight loss plateau
  • Gain better shape and muscle tone
  • Learn portion control
  • Lose a few pounds and tighten up before a holiday or special event
  • Create healthy habits that will last a lifetime
  • Change up your workout routine with short, 30-minute pops

What’s the scoop?
The Fix comes with a Getting Started guide and a set of seven 30-minute DVD workouts. You receive coloured boxes of varying proportions which all correspond to food categories:

  • Green – veggies
  • Purple – fruit
  • Red – protein
  • Yellow – carbs
  • Blue – healthy fats
  • Orange – seeds, dressings
  • Plus “teaspoons” – oils

Work out your caloric needs through the formula provided in the guide (all based on your current weight), and then you’ll know how many coloured boxes you need per day.  You’re encouraged to drink loads of water, and you can still have your daily dose of caffeine through coffee and tea.  Treats like wine, trail mix, dark chocolate can be worked into the plan, but not in huge quantities.  The guide also provides lists of food for each coloured box, and a few recipes.

You don’t have to eat bulgur and broccoli every day.  I even had a pizza last night using pita bread for the crust, tomato sauce, cheese, ham, peppers and onions…all portioned to fit in the boxes.  You can eat what you want, as long as it fits in those boxes! I was not hungry on this program. If anything, there were days I struggled to eat all that was allocated to me! AND – I was not perfect. There was an incident with a tub of coconut Greek yogurt that shall not be brought up again…

The workout DVDs are only 30 minutes each = no excuses!  The workout schedule assigns specific workouts to each day of the week.

  • Total Body Cardio Fix – cardio conditioning from top to bottom
  • Upper Fix – fab workout for the arms and abs
  • Lower Fix – legs and calves, lunging and stuff
  • Pilates Fix – harder than it sounds, man. Wait until you “mix the bowl.”
  • Cardio Fix – heart rate is on! Work those compound moves.
  • Dirty 30 – a little bit of everything
  • Yoga Fix – wonderful stretching after a hard week

The program has a few bonus materials, such as Autumn’s 30 minute PLYO workout (jumping!) + a 10-minute ab workout, a 3-day fix eating plan for gotta-look-good events (reunion? Photo shoot?), and a Shakeology shaker cup for making shakes.

Pros:

  • I learned to eyeball portion sizes much more accurately.  I know now when I’m going overboard on something. And you get to eat real food: no food in a box, no low-cal diet foods…only real, whole foods = clean eating.
  • The workouts are only 30 minutes, and the sequence day after day works over your whole body for clearly defined results. Each workout has a modifier – if you can’t do the full range, there are alternatives demo’d nicely.
  • Autumn reviews each move before she does it.  There is no quick-change flow from one to another, she ensures that you keep your form so that you max that particular exercise. This means a lot to me – there are gym classes and workout DVDs where I stare at the screen trying to see how they do it, and by the time I figure it out, they move on.
  • This is a long-term weight loss & fitness program! Totally sustainable.

Cons:

  • Stretch times post-workout were not very long; I’d suggest adding your own.
  • You do need to have a yoga mat and a set of light/heavy weights or a resistance band to maximize the workouts. Sold separately! (I suppose this isn’t a HUGE con, but if you went into this budget minded you’d need to splash out a little extra if you didn’t already have these things.)
  • The promise of losing up to 15 lbs is somewhat accurate. If you are going from overweight couch potato to 21 Day Fix, you probably will lose upwards of that amount, no problem. If you’re already fairly fit, you will probably see inches lost, but you won’t have 15 lbs fall off immediately.

Shakeology is a “daily dose of dense nutrition” and is a highly recommended but optional part of the 21 Day Fix. It is a meal replacement shake. Now, it took me three months before I even told anyone I was using this stuff, because in my mind replacing a meal with a supplement was weird.  Well, Shakeo is chock full of superfoods, gives me more energy and kills my cravings.  I love it.  Sometimes I use it for breakfast, other times as a post-workout refresher.  I suggest you use it with the 21 Day Fix (once a day) but that’s completely optional.

Overall, in my challenge group, two of my challengers lost more than 15 lbs each in three weeks. The remaining challengers averaged 2.5 lbs a week.  All great results when the scale heads south!

I love this program enough that I’m doing another round. Like I said, it’s more a lifestyle than a one-off. I would recommend this to everyone, it’s that flexible and sustainable.

Here are my final stats after Round 1 from Day 0 -> Day 21:     

Weight:    207.5 lbs -> 200 lbs
Chest:       41 inches -> 41 inches
R Arm:     13.5 inches -> 13 inches
L. Arm:    13.5 inches -> 13 inches
Waist:       43.5 inches -> 41.5 inches
Hips:         48 inches -> 46.5 inches
R. Thigh:  25 inches -> 24.5 inches
L. Thigh:  25 inches -> 24.5 inches

If you want to pick up the 21 Day Fix, here is the challenge pack link with Shakeology @ $160 USD, and here is the base kit program without Shakeology @ $59.85 USD.  I’ll be here to cheer you on!  Would love to hear your experiences with 21 Day Fix, or field any questions you’ve got – feel free to post below.

Day Twenty-One – (Time flies when you’re having fun)

Last day of the 21 Day Fix!

(Round ONE!)

I’m easing into my last day of the 21 Day Fix feeling pretty awesome.

I had a great breakfast (eggs, toast, Greek yogurt, blueberries and strawberries), caught up on some email, did a few chores, then will get my Yoga Fix done for the day.  It’s not quite lunch time here, and the rain is pounding down outside.  All around good times…

I’ve now lost 7.5 lbs in total.  I’ll post my weight and measurements tomorrow for the “final” results.

I really like the meal plan and the workouts. Never have I been so consistent in working out than with this program. Even when I was training for my 25K run, I would fudge days and put it off.  With the 21 Day Fix, I can say to myself “it’s only 30 minutes” and it can be done at home. No driving, no packing up stuff, no changing/showering at the gym…it’s been so easy to get it done.

And with that, I feel pretty accomplished. It’s almost easy to succeed, if that makes sense. You are totally set up for success with the way the program is organized.

Here are some food pix of meals I’ve made with the 21 Day Fix portioning. Like I’ve said before, there are LOTS of food options, but I’m a creature of habit and often eat the same things over and over…

chicken pasta 21 day Choc PB banana Shakeo butterscotch yogurt mango butterscotch

parfaitShay salad 21 butterscotchYogurt parfait butterscotch

Day Nineteen – (Hello, Fat? Can you leave now?)

I’ll admit it’s hard not to be obsessed with numbers. I’m still only 5 lbs down since the beginning of the 21 Day Fix, and I was hoping (and wishing, and wishing and dreaming) for some outrageously big number to fall off of my bod.

I will play up my non scale victories again.

I can see definition in my stomach (abs, perhaps?) and I’m delighted that my arms are slowly getting some serious shape. (I ride the train in the morning, and flex as I grip the bar getting tossed back and forth, just to see my muscles in the window reflection… hahahha). It’s probably only perceptible to me, but that’s all that counts.

I can do almost 10 full push-ups before dropping to my knees to continue. I’ve been dedicated in getting a workout done (only 30 minutes!) every single day, and for me, that means getting up at 04:55 hrs, checking FB, putting on gym clothes, feeding the cats, then working out – followed then by the regular routine of getting ready for work and out the door. Doing the doubles this week means 04:55 hrs for the AM workout and then usually 20:00 hrs for the PM workout. My new mantra to get out of bed in the morning is “I GET to work out today!”

I’ve received lots of really nice comments from people about my weight loss. I suspect that’s because there is now a change in my shape. My mid-section is not so beer-can shaped anymore and there’s a bit of an hour glass starting to show.

All of these things are good.

Food is my biggest struggle. I’m following the 21 Day Fix meal plan, but have to watch the spoon licking etc. In the teaspoon allowance, I’ve backed off the peanut butter and exchanged it with extra virgin coconut oil (EVCO). Supposed to be better for me. (Love me that PB, though!)

At this stage in the program, trainer Autumn Calabrese offers a 3-day Fix to max out the end of the program: continue with the workouts as normal but the meals change to only include greens, proteins, very limited carbs and teaspoons of EVCO, with small meals planned every two hours. I’m not mentally prepared to do this bit. I may try it on Round 2.

I did try out the bonus DVD included with the 21 Day Fix package – it’s a PLYO workout (not to be confused with the newly released PiYo from Beachbody). The Plyo workout is JUMPING, essentially. It is a fantastical sweaty workout, and I used about half of the modifiers in order to save my knees. My knees were a bit tender afterwards, but am happy to say I’d be willing to do that workout about once a week. I could certainly feel it in my legs afterwards, using muscles that were apparently dormant otherwise.

Last but not least, the challenge group on FB has been very fun! Many the challengers post daily with their workouts, food, etc. and everyone is very encouraging. One participant (who weighs 20 lbs less than I do) dropped 15 lbs in 2 weeks on the 21 Day Fix. Wowzers. Others are a bit shy about sharing their progress, but on average it has been 2.5 lbs lost per week for participants.

Race report: 5 Peaks Trail Run, Sunridge

Mandatory port-a-potty shot of my new arm sleeves

Mandatory port-a-potty shot of my new arm sleeves

Sunridge is a ski hill.

Let’s get that straight right away.

Organization: Big city crowd turn out for the 5 Peaks Sunridge races, with lots of kids and families milling all over the place.  Registration pick up was easy peasy, and still available when we arrived a little later than planned.  Something along the lines of HOLY CRAP I SLEPT IN.  Luckily, the organizers were still messing about and every race started late so that totally worked in our favour!

The aid stations were at the start line and a few km into the run.  Post-run snacks included water, rehydrating drinks, fruit, Clif bars, Builder bars, and pretzels (although – me being slow – all the pretzels were gobbled up by the kids by the time I finished).

Course: The 7.5 K Sports course zigzagged up and down the ski hill and through the trees. LOTS of single track action and even a rope to get you down a steep bit.

My run:  I had a fantastic time. [EDIT: "time" meaning the down east kinda "havin' a time" not actually real running race winning TIME - haha] I probably should have either run faster or done the Enduro.  I came out of that race thinking I was too easy on myself, that I’m ready to push myself harder.  Getting out there and running felt really good.

The course was jam-packed with hills, but due to the mostly single track nature of the course, there was plenty of slow down, even to the point of standing still, waiting to use the rope to get down a mini-bluff. Part of me wanted to just launch myself down this bit – why stand in line??  I’m not so pro, tho, and probably would’ve landed on my face.

I was challenged mostly by the single-trackedness of the course, and getting in behind conga lines of city slickers all wearing matching outfits. I know that’s not a nice thing to say, but this race seemed to be full of folks who didn’t possess a high level of trail etiquette, especially when the elite runners needed to scoot by.  Am I becoming a trail snob?  (I’m not an elite runner, btw, if this is your first read of my blog – hahaa).

Running up and down the hills, through the woods, along the river, back up along a chain link fence: there was plenty of interesting ground to cover. Everything was well-marked so that I wouldn’t end up alone on the wrong trail (like I did at Terwillegar).

And…that’s it!  Nice, little morning run with sun, my buddy, and fancy new arm sleeves from 5 Peaks that read GET OFF THE ROAD.  Kewl stuff.   We sat around after to watch the awards, then headed home.

Next run is the playful Color Me Rad 5K in Edmonton.