Pre Weigh-In #2

Tomorrow is weigh-in #2 and symbolizes that I have completed 1/3 of this challenge. Yay me!!. I’m super nervous to see what the scale has to say this time around. I have been seeing a lot of amazing posts from my fellow challengers celebrating that they have already lost 5, 7 some even 10lbs already. I don’t happen to have a working scale at home so I haven’t been able to weigh myself through this last 2 weeks (which might actually be a good thing), which means I am walking into tomorrow’s weigh-in with no clue where I might be in term of reaching my goal. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time.

This weekend is going to be jammed packed and I probably will not have an opportunity to post anything until Monday so you’ll have to wait until then to find out my results :). What I thought I would do instead is make a quick post about some of the changes I have noticed in the last 2 weeks alone. Keep in mind that I am eating wheat free, dairy free, sugar-free, and soy free so some of the changes I’ve seen may have less to do with fitness training and more to do with my body adjusting to my new way of eating. Here is what I have noticed:

  1. I have WAY more energy than I did before. Yes, I still get tired (especially on those days where I’m at the gym for 5:45 in the morning) and yes I still have times when I don’t feel like doing anything at all but overall my willingness to get up and do things and move around is much better. I can’t even remember the last time I watched any of the shows that I was binge-watching on Netflix (honestly, I used to get 2 or 3 episodes in during a day). Household chores aren’t as much of a chore anymore lol. I have a pep in my step and I feel an all day buzz on the days I workout.
  2. I sleep MUCH better! This was a huge one for me because I routinely wake up 3-4 times per night because of headaches, back pain, and sometimes just for no reason at all. Since I started the challenge with GoFitnessNiagara I rarely wake up through the night, which of course means I wake up more rested and better prepared to start the day!
  3. My morning back pain is GONE! I have lived with back pain for over a decade due to an old injury and my weight. As my weight began to increase so did my back problems. In the week prior to starting the challenge, I couldn’t fully stand up in the morning when I got out of bed in the morning or when I got up from a seated position. I would have to walk hunchback for a few steps and then I could get a little straighter, walk a few more steps, get a little straighter and so on. I was actually quite concerned that I wouldn’t be able to complete the classes in the first week because my back was so bad. The first week I had some minor discomfort in my lower back but nothing like what I experienced on a regular basis. This week I haven’t woke up with pain at all (ab pain yes! lol but no back pain!).
  4. My gastrointestinal symptoms are BETTER!. I can go out shopping without fear that I would have to abandon the cart if a wave of attacks hit. I don’t have to be afraid to eat outside of my home for fear that I will aggravate my digestive system and it will kick me with a vengeance while I am out in public. I have less bloating and discomfort as well which means my clothes fit better and a bit looser 🙂
  5. My focus and attention are IMPROVING!. The first week I was trying to stay awake in my afternoon class because my body was not used to the early mornings but I find now that I can concentrate better and I’m starting to retain more (which is much needed for me)
  6. My body is STRONGER! I can’t do everything I want to yet but I’m holding positions longer, doing more reps, and lasting longer on continuous activities.

These may not HUGE things on their own but put them all together and consider that it’s ONLY been 2 weeks (that’s only 14 day’s!!!!) I’d say that’s pretty GREAT! Regardless of what the scale says tomorrow I know that I am getting healthier and stronger and at the end of the day that’s what really matters.

Always celebrate your small achievements because they often become your big achievements before you even realize it. Your health and wellbeing are what truly matters – not a number on a scale. The most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself, so be kind to you!!!

T.G.I.F everyone! Have a safe and happy weekend!

 

 

Sweet Heat Turkey Meatballs

All I can say about these is WOW!

All that research paid off this weekend. I came across a recipe for turkey meatballs that I wanted to try but some of the ingredients weren’t ‘challenge’ friendly so I tweaked the recipe to my needs and hoped for the best lol.

Turns out they were fantastic, just enough blend of sweet and heat for me (I am a bit of wimp lol) but are easily adjusted by simply adding more hot sauce to the recipe OR to the meatballs after they have been sauced.

The following recipe is dairy free, gluten free, and soy free! (It’s also free of artificial sugars)

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 2 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup of almond flour*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (I use Frank’s)
  • 3 Tbsp. of coconut aminos (also labeled as coconut nectar all-purpose seasoning)**
  • 3 Tbsp of organic honey (regular honey will do as well)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. of toasted sesame oil

*Instead of buying almond flour, I just threw some whole almonds into the blender and blended until it reached a powdery consistency but make sure you check frequently as the mixture can turn milky if you blend too much.

**You can usually find coconut aminos or all-purpose seasoning in the health food section of your local grocery store. The Bulk Barn carries it as well and it’s located near the nut butter bins.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, almond flour (or crushed almonds), eggs, garlic powder, and salt & pepper. Mix with hands until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1¹⁄ ²-inch balls and place spaced apart about an inch or so on prepared baking sheets lightly greased or sprayed with coconut oil. (If you’re like me and you use a baking stone such as Pampered Chef’s bar pan, then skip the spray as it’s not needed). The recipe should yield about 40 meatballs
  3. Bake meatballs for 25-35 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
  4. While the meatballs are baking, combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes (the sauce will start to thicken) then toss with the meatballs.
  5. Serve over brown long grain rice and enjoy!

Estimated Nutritional Value:

1 serving=5 meatballs. Calories=293. Fat=8.6g. Saturated Fat=1.3g. Carbs=31.2g. Fiber=3.9g. Sugars=11.1g. Protien=25.7g

Disclaimer** the plain meatballs in the picture are due to my daughter requesting her’s sauce free, NOT because there wasn’t enough sauce

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Workouts 2 & 3!

I survived the first week! If I’m being totally honest I didn’t think I would make it through the 2nd workout. We did a circuit of stations that targeted key areas like core, legs etc. and I was dying by the end but I pushed through the muscle soreness, mental mind block, and fatigue. I felt more accomplished after leaving my second workout than I did the first. Friday morning came along and it was time to head to the gym for my 5:45am 3rd and final workout of the week. It took everything I had in me to make it through. My muscles were still a little fatigued from all the work they had been doing that week, my body was still adjusting to waking up that early and moving and I may have skimped on breakfast by eating only a banana. This is a very bad thing to do when you are doing intense workouts because it leaves you feeling sluggish and nauseous. Regardless of my poor pre-workout fuel decision, I gave it everything I had and then just a little bit more ;). The funny thing is that as glad as I am to have a break over the weekend, I actually can’t wait to get back to the gym first thing Monday morning to start of week 2 with a bang!

Now that I’ve got the good stuff out of the way, let’s talk FOOD. I went into this challenge thinking I would have a leg up on the nutrition piece thanks to some previous dabbling with 21 Day Fix from Beachbody ……… yeah, NO! I had no idea the depth of clean eating, I also had no idea just how much garbage is in the foods we eat every day. There were simple products that I thought would have been considered healthy (some even labeled as so) but when I stopped to read the ingredients they were full of the “ose’s”. This has become my pet name for sugars since most of them end in ‘ose’ such as sucralose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose and the list goes on (at least 61 of them – go ahead, look it up). Now I am the first to admit that I love all the wrong foods (Poutine? yes please!) and don’t care much for the right ones (Sweet potato? I don’t think so) so this is the most challenging part of the challenge for me. I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of information and the preparation that was required when eating healthy – I mean seriously who has 40 minutes to cook steel cut oats in the morning???. It became clear to me this week that if I wanted to be successful AND enjoy eating that I would have to do some serious internet research. So this weekend that’s exactly what I did; I looked for recipes that I thought I might like and then searched for ways to make it fit my dietary needs. I made my shopping list and off I went to collect my items. This has meant that I have to shop at multiple locations to get what I need due to the fact that I am the only one in my household that is doing the challenge. Then comes the prep work and I had no idea how extensive this would be. I’m beginning to get the hang of it now and I understand the importance of being prepared. Last week I was caught in a situation that could have ended up a lot worse food wise. My day was jammed packed from the moment I woke up until 8pm. I had started the day off ok with eggs and peppers for breakfast and lunch was a kale & mixed greens salad with baked chicken on top. However, when dinner came around I was out and starving and no access to the food I had prepped for the week. I did manage to turn down the taunting pasta and meatballs that was offered at my first event of the night and at the second event I stuck to only the fruit and veggie tray and resisted (with great difficulty I might add) the brownies, pastries, and donuts. I was starving as I left the second event with my son and he wanted Wendy’s (So did the people at home) so that’s where we went. Now it could have been a lot worse because I was so close to caving and getting a burger (I really like Wendy’s burgers) but I thought about my end goal and tried to figure out what I could get that would be within my scope of eating these days. I couldn’t do another salad as I was having them so frequently through the week so I opted for a small chili and plain baked potato. I ended up pouring the chili over the potato and that was my meal. Was it the best decision I could have made?…..probably not BUT it was better than caving all together and a good step in the right direction. I’m chalking it up to a win! 🙂

So now it’s time for me to get busy with some meal prepping for this week so I’m not caught unprepared again.

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Workout #1 (Core body)

Wow! so it took me a minute to get organized with all these new things I have to start doing such as meal planning, prep, etc. My first grocery shopping was much longer than my usual grocery shopping but I’ll talk more on that in another post. Now that I have some time to collect my thoughts I can bring you up to speed.

My first scheduled workout was Monday morning at 5:45am (which is much earlier than I usually get up) so my first hurdle was to drag myself out of bed and get ready. Once I did that my next task was to ensure that I had everything I was told to bring with me (indoor shoes, yoga mat, towel etc.). Once I was sure that I resembled someone that might belong in a gym, I hopped in the car and headed off down the highway. That ride was certainly a rollercoaster of nerves! I was excited and terrified at the same time. I was scared that my body would fail me and determined to push myself like I have never had before. I was nauseous due to my nerves (and my empty stomach as I found out later) and my heart felt like it was beating double time as I pulled into the parking lot. It was easier than I thought it would be to get out of the car and head up the stairs but once I entered the gym all that resolve melted away and I was left with shear nerves. Apparently, this was quite evident as Josh (trainer) took one look at me and asked: “Are you nervous?”.  I knew I couldn’t hide it so I simply shook my head yes and he proceeded to tell me that I would be ok and just to work at my own pace.

Warm up’s started and within 3 minutes (I’m not joking here) of jogging on the spot and jumping jacks I was done! I was now even more terrified that I would never make it through this workout that was 60 min long and dedicated to finding my long lost (or possibly nonexistent) abs. I reminded myself that my health and new wardrobe were on the line here and I had to push push push.

The beginning of the core exercises were going fairly well considering, however around the halfway mark I started having a problem catching my breath. Josh came over to me to ask if everything was ok and this is what our conversation looked like:

Josh: “Do you have asthma?”

Me: “No”

Josh: “Do you smoke?”

Me: “No, I quit almost 3 years ago”

Josh: “When was the last time you worked out?”

Me: *laughter* “Like this? Never!”

Josh: “Well that’s the problem, your lungs haven’t been strengthened to support a workout”

Turns out your lungs play a pretty important role in exercising and if they aren’t strong enough to continue to feed oxygen to your muscles then you can run into fatigue and shortness of breath. Once I rested for a minute and caught my breath, I continued on and by now we were on planks (and lots of them). The planks must have been the breaking point because suddenly everything that was in my stomach (which was really only water at that point) threatened to come up. Now I have heard of people who have worked out so hard that they have made themselves sick but I had never even come close to it myself. (Josh told me later that it was likely due to the fact that I didn’t eat breakfast and my stomach was empty) So here I was shaky, weak, out of breath, and about to be sick and we still had 15 minutes to go before cool down and stretching. I honestly thought about throwing in the towel right then and there but I didn’t want to be the only person in the class that couldn’t make it through. I excused myself to the bathroom, quickly splashed some cold water on my face, took a few deep breaths and then headed back to my mat to finish what I started. I was barely able to complete the class but I toughed it out and finished.

At the end of the workout, I got into my car and as I started to drive home tears came streaming down my face. I was so overcome with emotion (both good and bad) that I couldn’t control the sobbing. I was disappointed that I didn’t do as well as I had wanted to. I was embarrassed that I got out of breath. I was happy that it was over and I survived. I was even happier that I didn’t have to go the very next day lol. As I was driving down the highway I yelled out “I thought exercise was supposed to release endorphins and endorphins were supposed to make you happy?!?!?! Why the hell am I crying???”. By the time I got home, I was composed and I had a moment to really stop and think. The conclusion that I came to was this: no I couldn’t do all the exercises and no I didn’t do as well as I wanted BUT I damn sure did more than I did the day before! I pushed myself to the point that my body said “no more” and that was something that I had never done before. So I considered my first workout a win and continued on with the rest of my day knowing that I was so much stronger than I had previously thought and that I could do this!!

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First Weigh-In!

Yesterday was my initial weigh-in for the GFN (Go Fitness Niagara) 6-week challenge. The goal is to lose 20lbs during the challenge to kickstart a healthier lifestyle. I was super nervous on the way there and even more so as I approached the scale. I was intrigued to know how much I actually weighed because I hadn’t stepped on a scale in a very long time and really didn’t know what to expect. As I stepped on the scale I lost all my nerve and closed my eyes and waited for the picture to be taken (they take a before and after shot of the scale reading). I stepped off the scale and headed for the picture area where I would get my ‘before’ picture done.

Now Josh (who is the owner of GFN and runs the challenge) had previously told us to wear tight-fitting clothes so that after we crush the challenge it will be easier to clearly see the difference in our ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures. So I did as I was told and wore a pair of black tights and a black tank top under a black hoodie (you’re sensing a theme emerging here, aren’t you? lol). As I stood against that wall and prepared to shed the hoodie in front of the trainers and other challengers I was terrified, but as soon as the hoodie hit the floor and the camera started clicking I felt surprisingly empowered.

I looked around the room and realized that every other person here for a weigh-in was likely feeling the exact same way. They all had to fight through their nerves to step on that scale and get their picture taken too. I felt united, in a sense, to these men and women whom I had never met before and most I didn’t even have a chance to speak with. One of my favorite quotes is “The first step to getting anywhere is deciding you’re not willing to stay where you are”– Anonymous. We had all made the decision that we were not willing to stay where we were which meant that we all were about to embark on this journey together. Ironically I left the weigh-in feeling 10lbs lighter (who knew worry and stress could you make you feel so heavy) and more determined than ever to crush this challenge and my old way of life!

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The Phoenix

This week has been mentally challenging for me as I have been gearing up for a 6-week health and fitness challenge that I signed up for.

I suppose I should back it up just a bit and provide some context. I have been overweight for as long as I can remember. I have had some highs and lows with my weight but even at my lowest, I would have still been classified as ‘overweight’. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome when I was 22 and was told to accept the fact that I would always be “bigger”. In October of 2015, I made the decision to quit smoking (Best decision!) and I anticipated that my weight would be affected because of it. So I thought I could get ahead of any potential impacts to my figure by committing to a healthy eating regimen BEFORE I actually quit smoking. It was a sound decision, rooted in logic and in theory it should have worked, except it didn’t. I was eating better than I ever had in my life and yet I was still gaining weight. Long story short, after seeing multiple doctors and specialists I was told that I had developed hypothyroidism and that my liver was enlarged. I was also experiencing gastrointestinal problems that were severely impacting my daily life and none of the doctors could find the exact cause or provide any real relief of the symptoms for that matter. I had been gaining weight slowly throughout this process which was about a year and a half and was quickly approaching my rock bottom (in terms of weight). Needless to say, I fell into the trap of self-pity coupled with self-loathing for the image that was reflecting back at me in the mirror, and I gave up.

Flash forward to present day where I finally said enough is enough and signed up for the challenge. I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment that I made that decision but I’m not sure that I can. I had talked about doing something for almost a year, but there was always a reason (or multiple reasons for that matter) that I couldn’t. Then a few months ago my son, who is 14, asked if I would go to a movie with him. My daughter was at her dad’s for the night and I had been wanting to see the movie he suggested (Jumanji) so I agreed and off we went to the theaters. Well, I had no idea that the Jumanji reboot would be as popular as it was – the place was PACKED! (and rightfully so – The movie was awesome). Every single seat in the theater was filled and there I was uncomfortably squshing my very large frame into a not so large seat. I started to get symptoms of a panic attack and it took every ounce of strength I could summon up for me to keep myself in the seat and attempt to enjoy the movie for the sake of my son. I think that moment was likely the turning point that sent me on the path to the 6-week challenge because the panic attack symptoms shook me. I have never suffered from an anxiety disorder or symptoms in the past and it was unsettling to realize that the anxiety symptoms were being brought on because of the way I looked and felt about myself. My mental health was being affected by my lack of physical health and I didn’t know what to do. I thought back to all the events I had missed taking my kids to because I didn’t want to go out in public, all the family pictures I was missing from because I couldn’t stand to see my own image, all the enjoyment in life that I was depriving myself of and I knew I had to do something.

I’m fortunate enough to have come into contact with a health and fitness trainer through a fundraising event for a local organization that I volunteer with, and I started to follow him on Facebook. He happened to own his own fitness studio and was running his brand new 6-week challenge. I thought about signing up but I was too chicken and instead watched the transformations of the ones brave enough to take that step play out on Facebook. I watched the first 2 challenges go by and decided to make the appointment to go and see the gym and hear more about the program. I’m not going to lie, I was in full panic mode on the drive to the information appointment, thank goodness my mother was driving lol. It was extremely hard for me to even walk through the door but by the end of my appointment, I had made the commitment to finally put my health first and get my life back on track!

So back to the first sentence of this post, I have been trying to plan out all my meals, make grocery lists accordingly, get any necessities that I was missing and mentally prepare for tomorrow’s initial weigh-in and the first of the progress pics, YIKES!. The butterflies in my stomach are doing full blown advanced aerial acrobatic routines and my legs get a little weak when I think about it. However, I haven’t been this excited for anything in a very long time! I even made a joke to my mom that I must be twisted because I’m actually looking forward to the muscle soreness after my first training session – I know, crazy right? The way I see it though is that pain represents my transformation. Change is hard and can often be painful. The pain that will come as I push my body to do things it’s never done before, represents the old me burning away and the new me beginning to emerge (much like the Phoenix, just slower). I can’t wait to begin!

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The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

I have thought about blogging for years but wasn’t really sure how to get started. Now I could have easily typed in a search, read a few articles and followed some simple steps to set up a blog (much like I just did with this one) and I would have been on my way. However, the lack of ‘know how’ wasn’t what prevented me from getting started – not knowing what to say was. I played a vicious game of internal tennis, going back and forth on different ideas and then finding all the faults or reasons why it wouldn’t work. That attitude fed my fears of failure or looking silly and thus prevented me from doing something I’m good at, which is writing.

Recently I decided to make some major changes in my life which have had a direct influence on my way of thinking. I have started to realize (at 33 years old) that life is too short not to do what you love. I have been trying to indulge more in the things that make me happy and writing is one of those things. Inspiring others is also something that brings me an immense sense of gratification. The opportunity to combine the two things just couldn’t be passed up any longer.

So please feel free to join me on my journey to transform my mind, body, and soul. Like the quote below implies, the people you meet on your journey are what make it interesting. I hope that you find this site helpful or inspiring in some way and you come away from the content a tiny fraction better than when you arrived!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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