Sunday, 12 August 2012

100 Day Walking Challenge

I have discovered how important it is to have a team of friends and family cheering you on no matter what - they keep you honest, push you when you would rather stop and walk beside you through rain or shine. I picked up an idea from a Walking Adventure Tour website about a 100 Day Challenge - you pick the distance or timeframe but you walk for 100 days every day. I decided this was exactly what I needed to get my mind off the scale and on to a healthier me. I started the challenge on August 12 - just over 20 days ago. I dragged myself out of the house every evening after work and every weekend, rain or shine. I never regretted my walk after I crossed that magical finish line each day but I sure mumbled a lot on my way out the door. When browsing on the weight watchers website (I am an online member) I discovered an area where you can launch your own challenges. I thought - why not. I didn't think I needed this but I figured if anyone was interested it would be fun to have them along. I now have over 40 people in this challenge, cheering for each other; holding everyone accountable in a gentle way (LOL); and, experiencing amazing results. I have consistently lost 2 to 3 pounds every week while eating all my points plus the added ones from activity. I have also discovered why so many advise that it is much easier to meet a challenge when you have a team helping you along. I never realized how my natural tendency to isolate would affect my ability to keep on my journey to health. So, my team of 40 plus women are walking the path with me every night as we connect virtually every day to post our green check mark along with our encouragement or prodding. Hurray for the Team!  I have lost 18 pounds since joining weight watchers July 17. A phenomenal victory!

My walking has mostly been urban and mostly in my neighbourhood but today we hustled our butts out to Kananaskis Country. What a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. We picniced (homemade olive & dried tomato bread with chicken and cucumbers - yum!) at the trail head to Troll Falls - an easy, five kilometre hike along a gentle sloped path carpeted with pine needles. We were finished in about 1.5 hours - took a half hour for photo ops! We also stopped at Mnt. Lorette ponds - a lovely little area with trout ponds and paved walkways for wheel chairs and tricycles! A real Rocky Mountain High kind of day.

The main player on my team is my honey, Raouf. He plans,shops for and cooks every single meal. I am so grateful for this simple change - I cannot tell you how much it helps me stay on program! I have shared a picture of some of his creations - Cranberry Apple Bran Muffins and the recipe is below:

I have given myself permission to eat muffins again - a scary step as I tend to pig out on anything home baked! This is a recipe from the newspaper giving hints for kid's lunches. Well, count me in as a VERY happy kid! Only TWO POINTS people! I would encourage you to try it.
1.5 cups All-Bran Original cereal or favorite bran cereal; 1 cup 1% milk; 2 eggs; 1 cup all purpose flour; 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar; 4 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp cinnamon;1/2 tsp each nutmeg and salt; 1/4 cup canola oil; 3/4 cup chopped frozen cranberries (do not thaw) - we used blueberries; 1/4 cup diced McIntosh apple (not peeled - 1/4 inch dice) - we left it a bit bigger. Combine cereal and milk in a bowl and let stand for 2 minutes until softened. In a separate bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. Add eggs and canola oil to cereal mixture; beat well. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Fold in cranberries and apple. Portion batter evenly into 12 non-stick muffin pan cups, lightly coated with cooking spray (we used paper cupcake liners). Bake in 400 F oven for 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Words with Wings

"Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become character, and character becomes destiny."

Hey, I lost a 10 pound chin!
I am sitting here knowing there is a message in my heart that I need to share.  I have re-read my blog and it hits me that there have been many, many times I would have quit my efforts to become healthier if it had not been for this blog and my original committment to never give up - to change my story one action at a time.  This positioning of my will to change has given me the motivation to keep on trekking no matter what the results and absorb the lessons to be learned along the way.

Eight lessons I have learned (so far!):


Embrace Companionship

A journey to any destination is enhanced by the people who share it with you along the way.  I have a life right now I only dreamt of years ago - shared with a wonderful man who is my best friend, greatest supporter and wise guru.  He cheers from the sidelines, cooks according to my current eating style and offers support and wisdom along the way.  I have also connected with three amazing women - my sisters - and soaked in their wisdom, encouragement and love.  AND, I have friends who cheer me on - period!  No advice or comments other than the sharing of their own journey - their story - and that has reverberated with me throughout these seven months.


Choose Health

I have discovered that the journey consists of small steps toward health - not weight loss.  It is about accessing the help I needed to improve my health in every aspect.  A year ago I took the first steps before my big committment in January.  I sought out the medical attention I needed for my sleep apnea.  I addressed my potential food allergies or sensitivities and embarked on an elimination diet that resulted in a 24 lb weight loss (which was not the focus) in six weeks - rapid weight loss which has stayed off because it was a huge change to my eating - a change from a lifetime of overdosing on sugar and other highly refined carbs as well as over indulgence in grains.  Only 4 lb returned after I went off the elimination diet but applied what I had learned and kept my sugar and grain consumption under control.  At no point was I starving myself - I ate healthy amounts of normal food throughout.  The weight lost was a lot of fluid I was retaining and some fat, of course.  It was the loss of a recent weight gain as well and brought me down to my usual HIGH weight.


Accept Help

I learned a lot about myself as I endured a knee injury (torn meniscus) early in my journey in January and it was not just about how I ate!  I made the decision not to isolate but to reach out for the help (it took me a few months to come to this conclusion but I did eventually get there).   I needed.  I accepted: my partner's offer to drive me to work and many, many other loving deeds when I was at my worst; my youngest sister's wisdom to walk me through some stretching in my recovery and to embrace the beauty of the world around me even if it was cool and damp; my oldest sister's suggestion that I try using stabilizer poles to help with my walking; and, once again, to seek medical help for recovery through physio and, yes, drugs.


Get Moving

I discovered an inner strength that surfaced when I was temporarily disabled during my knee injury - an overwhelming desire to recover my mobility and strength.  My knee injury was the catalyst to force me to face my sedentary life style full on.  Once I lost the ability to walk without pain, recovering and strengthening my body to protect myself from future injury became a driving force to get moving.   Small steps, to be sure, but I continue to increase my walking using stabilizer poles - first to prevent further injury but now because they increase my work out by adding movement to my arms and upper body.


Change Habits

My guiding quote at the top of my blog was incorporated at the beginning - before I even learned this wisdom in my heart.  Knowledge in your head is really still just in your head.  Absorbing it into your heart or inner being is true learning.  Sometimes that takes a challenging event or a loving friend's sharing or reading a book at the right time.  One of my "ah ha moments" about change came after I started Weight Watchers and discovered that the nights I didn't walk I often ate at 10 or 11 or midnight - crazy eating that was very hard to control.  I realized then that the walking at night was more than just exercise - it was a change to my usual pattern of TV, computers or more TV.  It was a time outside in the sun or rain, walking and talking with a loving partner and sharing life, plans, thoughts and ideas.  These flowed naturally when we started moving without the distraction of a screen - TV or monitor.   Also, a fifteen minute stretch out on a convenient bench on our campus or a short walk in a park contributed immensely to my mood and energy throughout that hard stretch at work between 2 and 4 PM!


Eat Healthy

I originally focused my journey on finding out what foods made me feel good - yes, really!  I discovered through my elimination diet that grains/sugar made me feel sluggish with accompanying brain fog and allergic reactions which affected my eyes in particular.  By eliminating these my brain and eyes cleared.  I recognized that I could eat grains - even wheat - in small doses but cannot incorporate them in large quantities without affecting my eyes or brain fog.  Overdoing and I was very quickly back where I started.  I started to substitute some of the usual grain choices with quinoa and immediately felt better.  No one told me this - it was through research online, similiar family issues including a granddaughter with celiac and a daughter with a newly identified wheat allergy.  I just know through my experimentation that I feel so much better when I don't eat grains too often.   I also started to take a good quality multivitamin from Melaleuca and an Omega 3 supplement plus some chondroitin for my joints (also Melaleuca). 


Join a Community

Three weeks ago, I joined Weight Watchers online - AGAIN!  I believe I had a lot to learn before I could committ to a weight loss program of any kind - especially one I have played around with for years.  I knew that to continue this journey I needed to lose the weight somehow and it couldn't happen in isolation.  My search led me to Weight Watchers.  Two of my sisters have also committed to this healthy program and are slowly losing the weight we "daughters of a baker" have struggled with over the years.  Plain and simple - it works!  The new Points Plus program reduces the portion size while cunningly motivating you to choose your foods wisely.  While I continue to control my grain consumption, the weight watchers program provides me with a teaching mechanism to develop better eating habits, ideas for continuing activity in some way through the seasons and a community of online peers to send an encouraging word or high five when it is most needed.  I am not alone!

Enjoy Life

This one is key to my continuing on this path as it affects all others.  Having embraced the "never give up" attitude of a winner I find myself much more open to letting life in.  When you are living life carefully with a shell around you to protect you from your fears and from feeling, you shut out so much of life and what constitutes living.  Although I was starting to learn this four years ago, it was when I made the decision to live authentically that the miracle started to happen.  I opened up some windows on my life that had been kept closed for year - places in my being that I was not willing to share with others.  My views, opinons, beliefs, values -all were open as I became who I am openly and with excitement.  That feeling grew and soon I was saying yes to more and reaping wisdom, energy and joy in return.  Of course this can all be explained by psychology and science but for me it is, and will remain, a personal experience with no explanation required.  I laugh more, I cry more, I live more.  I spend less time pretending I am perfect and more time exposing my mistakes so others maybe can learn from them - or at least, learn that being imperfect is alway more joyful than pretending to be perfect!  I play and tease, my eyes sparkle and I feel that ripple effect - you know, when there is a feeling inside that builds and rises to your throat and then erupts into a smile or a laugh.  When you look at a grandchild digging in the sand or a grown daughter embracing a life of travel and openness - all brings joy.  When a tomato ripens in your garden and is graces your pizza that night, you enjoy.  When the warmth of the sun seeps into your body, you enjoy.  When a sister calls and shares a little of herself, you enjoy.  When your partners turns to you and takes your arm as you stumble, you enjoy.
 So, the journey continues and another five months exist on this blog. 


Words are just words but life

- life is words with wings!


- Eileen Hopkins