Failure … or success?  You be the judge.

Between a trip home for 3 weeks, then back and travelling and dealing with the utter mess my body was from 2 weeks straight of jet lag over multiple time zones, I have been an utter sloth for about 5 weeks … give or take a workout here or there … in fact I would say I have been more off the reservation in terms of nutrition and workouts in the past 5 weeks than in the past 4 years.

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Tonight I got on my rower to do a 30 minute training WOD of rate and speed intervals.  Holy crap Batman!  Cardio … where did you go?  I DIED.

You could look at this as failure … I look at it as success!

You could say, “you failed.  You fell off the wagon”.

I choose to say, “I succeeded.  Today I got back on”.  (and I can tell you I procrastinated for about 4 hours after changing, before I got back on … school work on the weekend has never looked so good!)

You could say, “you failed.  Your cardio is utter bollux compared to where it was”.

I say, “I succeeded.  Once upon a time there was no cardio to compare anything to”.

You could say, “you failed because you struggled to keep your rating and pace even”.

I say, “I succeeded because I pushed through and kept going when everything in me was screaming STOP!”

Enough beating ourselves up people … it’s all how you look at it.  If you fell off the fun bus … don’t sit sprawled on the road watching it disappear …get the heck back on!  That’s success.  You got this.  Start.  TODAY.

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Chumba Wumba have a song with great lyrics:

I get knocked down

but i get up again

You’re never gonna keep me down

 

And yes.  That has to be my mantra.  It’s easy to be discouraged when we don’t see results from our efforts.  Regardless of what we see, we have to do what is right for our body … eat well, get sleep, move every day and be kind to ourselves.  Get help if necessary.

I have mentioned the struggles I have had with weight going back on and not knowing why.  Finally, after 18 months of telling my endo that something is not working in my body and watching the weight pack on when I am eating well and working out and doing all the things that lost me weight and kept it off successfully, I had a dr visit where my hormone levels were drastically off and he freaked out.  Now we are addressing the issues, I get to start this journey all over again.  Although … it is not all over again, because I have kept exercising (although slacker over the past few weeks of summer vacation) and eating well.  So the habits are there and formed.

In order to kickstart myself, and hoping that now we are treating my hormones etc, I have decided to do the 10 week food challenge.  It’s all about whole foods and primal eating … mainly how I eat – but lots of new recipes and a nutritionist putting together the meal plans.  You get TEN WEEKS of meal plans.  How awesome is that … and a Facebook support group.  So here we go … will keep you updated!

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I used to think of you as a tall slim woman, but now …

A visit with my endocrinologist recently resulted in that statement from the good doctor … and I finished his sentence immediately with … “not so much”.

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Having worked hard to lose weight and successfully keeping it off for several years, it is very discouraging to be in my present place.  I had a good talk with my endo about it recently.  My pituitary is damaged and does not function optimally – it has all sorts of ramifications for me, including how I sleep, process stress and … weight.  Meh.  However, this does not mean impossible … it means challenging.  And right now, I am diving into the challenge.

alice quote Dealing with nutrition is a hard thing.  There is so much information and misinformation.  Bottom line is … I need to drop some weight and its going to take hard work.  But … i am committed.  i don’t like clothes that don’t fit.  i don’t like carrying this extra weight.  So here is what i am doing.

Step One – Understand – it is a process.

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Losing weight is not about dieting.  it’s about making good nutrition choices and being honest!

Step Two – Log EVERYTHING

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If you really want to know what you are eating and how it all works … log it.  ALL of it.  Every treat … every morsel.  You don’t need to be a slave to this … but do it for a few weeks and become mindful of what is going in your mouth … the times of day you are reaching for less healthy choices … what patterns do you see?  My Plate at Live Strong have really improved their interface and is great to use.  So is My Fitness Pal.  Both log in calories and exercise and do all the macro breakdowns for you.  Both are also available as apps in the app store.

Step Three – Eat A Balanced Diet

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Balance out your nutrients.  Put some protein in every meal … eat lots of vegetables …  some healthy fats with a few seeds, nuts etc.  If you are having to get more serious … start playing with macros.  At present this is where I am focused … and logging everything.  I am aiming for a balance of 40% Carbs, 30% protein and 30% good fats.  Once I have that down, I will look closer at the type of carbs I am eating.

Step Four – Sugar is NOT your friend

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Look out for it … it’s hidden all over the place.  Ease up on the fruit and add some vege snacks instead.

Step Five – Prepare, prepare, prepare

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Seriously … if you spend a little time on the weekend, it is easy to eat well in the week.  I put on a podcast or a favourite tv show in the kitchen on my computer and prep on a Sunday.   I am doing a few things like roasting up a few sweet potatoes … dicing up veggies and storing them in tupperware for quick meal prep at night … vege sticks I can grab … shredding up a roast chicken for quick protein hit.

Commit and Stay The Course

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If you are like me … this is the challenge.  If it’s good … I want more.  If I am tired … I want sugar!  Right now I am food logging – including my not so good choices and that is helping me strengthen my resolve to eat better.  For example today, i had a fabulous piece of cake … I planned for it this week as my colleague warned me he was bringing it and I love it!  I really enjoyed the cake BUT … balancing my macros for the rest of the day was hard … I got there, but next time, I will be less tempted as the amount of effort it took me to balance out dinner was not worth the few minutes of enjoyment of the cake!

Take Control

I just want to encourage you, that you can do it.  It’s worth it.  You are worth it.  And if you don’t see immediate results, just keep doing the right things for yourself, rest, eat well and move!  It’s like the Pantene commercial … “it won’t happen overnight, but it WILL happen!

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I have a love affair with these flavours … the combination of fresh cilantro, garlic, ginger, lime and cumin is unbeatable.  I had been using it a lot in the winter with stir fried vegetables and thought it would be a great combination in salad dressing.  So … I experimented and this is my new favourite summer dressing.  If you like fish (I don’t), I imagine it will also be a really good marinade.

It’s simple and quick to make, but everything is approximate … you really need to taste as you go.  I like it with a zingy tart punch, if you want it sweeter, add more honey.

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Ingredients

  • handful of fresh cilantro (coriander), stalks included.
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 – 2 fresh squeezed limes (I use 2 – I love it REALLY limey)
  • 1 – 2 tsp honey
  • 1 – 2 good size cloves of garlic
  • 1 – 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 – 2 tsp of fresh ginger root (grind it up or dice it finely)
  • pinch of salt
  • a couple of grinds of black pepper
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup of either olive oil or coconut oil (or a mix … I don’t like the coconut to be too strong)

Method

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  • Put cilantro into blender and add all other ingredients (except for oil).
  • Make sure you drizzle the honey in on top of the cilantro (that way it won’t stick to the sides of the blender)

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  • Blend to a fine liquid
  • taste and adjust, then add oil and blend once more.

ENJOY!

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How much sleep do you average each night?  Did you know that the National Sleep Foundation recommends that an adult between the ages of 18 – 64 should be getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night.  Do you?  “Ah”, I hear you say … “I can function fine on 5 or 6 hours …”.  Sure … you can function, but you are not functioning optimally.

As part of my reflection on my weight gain this past year, I identified sleep as area that I need to work on.  I averaged 5 – 6 hours last year, and some nights even less.  The problem is sleep, stress, weight gain … are all mixed up – often a vicious cycle.  Lets look at why quality and quantity of sleep is critical.

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The Connection Between Sleep and Weight Loss

  • If you are sleep deprived, your body produces more ghrelin – a hunger hormone that stimulates you to eat.
  • Sleep production also means your body produces less leptin – this means it won’t give you the satiety cues you need to feel full.
  • Cortisol levels spike when you are sleep deprived.  This signals your body to conserve energy – it will hold onto it’s fat stores.
  • After four days of sleep deprivation researchers at the University of Chicago found your body won’t respond to insulin properly – you are more apt to store fat

Summing up … not enough sleep can mess up your metabolism and contribute to weight gain.

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Sleep and Exercise Recovery

When we exercise we create micro tears in our muscles and our body repairs them, making us stronger.  While we sleep, our body goes into repair mode.  In the non-REM phases – deep sleep, our muscles are restored due to increased blood supply, oxygen and nutrients – all of which facilitate healing and growth.  Growth hormone is also active, stimulating muscle growth and tissue repair.  Decreased sleep results in a sharp reduction of growth hormone.

There is much more that could be said about what our brains are doing during sleep cycles but thats for another blog.  You can check out an awesome short video (Why Sleep Matters)  from the Harvard Sleep Centre if you are interested.

Good Sleep Habits

I find sleep challenging.  Here is what I am doing to address it:

  • turning off my electronics (except kindle) at least an hour before bed.  They are stimulating to the brain and don’t help it wind down for sleep
  • no work at least 1.5 hours before bed – I get absorbed and it stimulates my brain.
  • regular bed time.  I aim to be in bed by 9.30pm with lights out around 10.  My body wakes at 4.30 – 5am no matter what time I go to sleep, so I need to be disciplined about this.
  • regular routine.  For me … after electronics are off, I read (kindle being exception … but that is also set to dark screen, light text).
  • no caffeine from late afternoon on.
  • Have my room as dark as possible – light can interfere with melatonin production and hinder sleep
  • turn off all electronic beeps/notifications.  NO checking emails/facebook after lights out

I am having to work on this … the no electronics is a huge one for me but it is helping.  How are YOUR sleep habits?

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Movement.  Our bodies are made to move.  Recently I resonated with a comment on another blog

My body wanted to move. I would look at people dancing or jumping or turning somersaults on TV and feel jealous of their movement. I felt a hunger to move, like a dog beating its tail at the front door, hoping for walkies.

The thing is, over years we can develop deeply ingrained poor movement patterns.  If we have been couch potatoes for years the challenges are even greater.  When we start to move and exercise, we can injure ourselves.  Form is everything if we are going to exercise safely.  I am grateful that in my exercise journey over the past couple of years I have had coaches who are real sticklers for good form and correct me.  As they do so, I am becoming more aware of my body and how it moves – quite something for this girl, who has never been body smart.  GNoh, my current coach is always talking about neurological patterning – the way we groove movement patterns into our brains.  This is a reason why I like CrossFit – having coaches who are sticklers for correct functional movement helps us to exercise safely.  When we do this, we can be in for the long haul.  However … there have still been challenges for me.Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 5.05.42 pmIn a previous post I discussed the importance of stopping and reflecting when our journey takes a detour.  I mentioned that when I did so, i noticed a pattern of injury on my lower right hand side (either archilles tendon issues, shin splints or knee issues).  Reflecting on this, I realised this has been the case for years.  I did some research and decided that I needed to get a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and if possible, a Y Balance test.  These tests are designed to determine the risk of muscular skeletal injury through exercise.  They allow you to identify your strengths and weaknesses in how you move.  You and your physio then take those results and begin to do exercises that will help strengthen the areas of weakness, bringing your body more into balance, reducing risk of injury.

Huge difference between my two sides in terms of flexibility, stability and balance ...

Huge difference between my two sides in terms of flexibility, stability and balance …

I found a fantastic physio in New Zealand who is certified in both these tests and also in sports physio and rehab.  He and was able to see me when I was recently home.  When I wrote and described my issues, he suggested we do both the FMS and the Y Balance tests.  My results showed that I had a moderately increased risk of injury.  Together we have started a plan for me to address those areas.  Interestingly, Bryce (my physio) said we are not even going to address the archilles issues etc as we need to address other issues first.  So I am working away at my exercises and we will re-evaluate at Christmas.

If you are struggling with repeated injury, or poor movement patterns, I would highly recommend the FMS as a way to get an understanding of your body and areas you can work on to help your movement.  You can find a certified practitioner in your area here!

The road to success in a twisty, windy road.  There are detours.  There are setbacks.  Travellers on this road quickly realise that the road to success is not about the destination … its about the journey.  Travellers on this road realise that the journey is where we find the treasure, not the destination.

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What does this look like in my journey?  This past year, I have gained a lot of weight and struggled with injury.  I certainly didn’t gain all my weight back, but I gained enough that there are clothes in my wardrobe I cannot wear at all.  To have worked so hard over the past few years, only to find myself back at such a place was frustrating and discouraging for me.  Additionally, injuries have made workouts challenging and set me back as well.  How do we deal with such challenges.  Here is how I am.

Stop and Reflect

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Weight

The first question to ask is why the gain?  For me, I could take a note of encouragement and know that I did not gain weight because I was eating lots of crap.  For the most part, I kept my eating and exercise habits pretty well last year – the same eating patterns that have helped me maintain the weight I lost for several years.  However … I watched that scale go up and up.  Why?  I truly believe that stress was the big reason why … last year was unbelievably stressful.  Since my pituitary tumour damaged my pituitary, my body doesn’t process stress as well as it used to.  Basically, stress manifested physically in my body – lack of sleep was huge.  I averaged 5 hours a night last year – well below National Sleep Foundation guidelines of 7 – 9 hours.  It is just not enough sleep for my body to recover.  As a result my cortisol levels were up and I stressed my adrenals.  None of which help with my body’s ability to recover and repair itself.

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Injury

Ah … there you go …crossfit causes injuries!  Nope … it doesn’t.  Faulty movement patterns do though (more on that later).  Two different injury issues for me last year.  The main one was a severe wrist strain that happened in the Philippines on a service trip with our high school students.  This caused a huge loss of mobility in my wrist and pain for months.  The doctor and physio both said it would take about 6 months to get it back.  We all have times we get injuries … its important to care for them when they happen.  The second situation was that I noticed a pattern (over years) of constantly tweaking archilles, knee or developing shin splints on the right hand side.  Notice the patterns.

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Recalibrate

Based on reflecting, I came up with the following plan:

More posts will follow on these and how I am dealing with them.

I wanted to share this part of my journey with you because I want you to know that whilst we all can have setbacks and detours, we can use these in a positive way to unearth treasure that will help us move forward in our journeys.  If you are on a side road right now, don’t be discouraged.  You can do this.

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