How my Mom found balance, health and her body!

October 20, 2014

It is a rainy Friday afternoon on the west coast and my Mom is at the wheel of her grey ford escape. The sky outside is about the same shade as the vehicle as we are on our way up to Whistler, BC for a much needed girls weekend away. 

There are rarely quiet moments between my Mom and we do talk a few times a day between my home in Calgary and hers on Bowen Island, BC. Today is the same and as the road winds and the rain slams on the windshield on the aptly named sea to sky highway we continue our chatter. The conversation steers towards the topic of ‘change’ and I pull out my iphone.

‘Oh gosh, what are you doing now?’ My mom implores. ‘You’re not going to record me are you?’

My Mom has this uncanny way of imparting knowledge and challenging you to introspect without nagging at all. She has had her own fair share of challenges and success with body change over the years and has a brilliant perspective on the topic. After losing 40lbs and keeping it off for years, I jumped at the chance to share her story with you!

‘Yep!’ I reply cheerfully as I press the large red button on my phone to document the pearls of wisdom she is about to divulge. I jump into interview mode and we are off...

Lana: Before finding success with losing weight, what other options had you tried?

Louise: Well, I thought I was doing the right thing by signing up with a personal trainer who did a one on one orientation to the gym with me. I thought that is what it took, you signed up and then they showed you what to do and then it just happened. But it didn’t just happen. I went to the gym a few times and then found excuses or reasons about why I wasn’t going to make it a priority for me. I also joined a weight loss program which initially showed some progress and then after a while, it was not a priority.

Lana:  Ok, so what was your frame of mind during the times where you would sign up for different programs?

Louise: At the time, I think like a lot of people, I thought that when I signed up for something, everything would magically happen for you. I didn’t feel that I had to participate so much in the thinking part of the program, I just had to do the program and not participate in other parts of my life. It was something that was separate from my everyday existence.

Lana: Would you say that you were trying to make these changes during a busy time in your life?

Louise: Oh yes, I was definitely busy! And I still am. But what generally happened was that I had a friend that was having some success with a program and when they told me about it, I would say I should do that too! However, just because they were having success with it didn’t mean I would have the same outcome because our reasons for signing up were not always similar.

Lana: So what happened to your mindset in order to get to where you are now, where you have lost weight and have been able to maintain your results for a number of years?

Louise: I decided that I had spent so much time in my life saying that I would make a change sometime soon. I realized that soon never had a date, and it was always in the future. One day I decided the date was today and if I didn’t start to think differently, change would continue to be elusive. 

I ended up simplifying my goals - like I started with not eating bread (which is a trigger food for my mom, it doesn't make her feel satisfied meaning one piece isn't 'enough' and once she got rid of it, she didn't miss it). There were other things in my diet that I thought I needed to have in order to feel satisfied and I got rid of those too. I kept the cream in my coffee though! I will never get rid of that. 

Another thing I did was realize that measuring and counting does not work for me. I can pick healthy, enjoyable foods and eat until I am full and that works for me. An example is cottage cheese. I can eat it with fresh fruit and stop when I am happily full but with bread it didn't fill me up enough or when it did I didn't feel good.

Lana: What is the biggest nutritional change you have made comparing your life today from 10 years ago?

Louise: I have managed to stop the cycle of sweet and salty foods being my go-to's. I realized I get way more satisfaction and feel so much better when I fill up on the things that I do now like veggies, fruit, boiled eggs..I don't need the sweet and salty foods anymore.

Lana: So it's like a feed-forward cycle? You make better choices and feel better and then do not crave the foods you did before?

Louise: I don't need as many treats and I just don't crave them like I did before.

 

Blast Fitness Friend Susan Dahl & my Mom Louise 

Lana: So what would you say are your favourite types of exercise?

Louise: Definitely, being active doing projects - gardening, mowing the lawn, going for a walk. I have recently started more concentrated one on one strength training which has helped me maintain my strength as I age. It is social and a bit competitive and it makes me feel great when I am done. I can do all the things I want to do!

Lana: And what about dancing?

Louise: I can dance until the cows come home! And I can do what my kids want me to do now. Years ago I wouldn't be able to keep up on trips and activities because of my own habits and I realized I was the only one getting in my own way.

Lana: Do you have any trigger situations?

Louise: For sure, when I am over-tired and exhausted I want to sit and eat something right away without too much thinking. I have to use willpower, but nothing like before. I know now that it is somewhat momentary. I can go for a piece of chicken or turkey sausage to get me on track rather than eating crackers and cheese and dip like before. I always carry a lunch bucket. I have oatmeal and fruit ready and warm for breakfast and boiled eggs for a snack. I often bring a piece of chicken and a bean salad or veggies. 

Lana: So if you could offer yourself some advice years ago based on what you know now, what would you say?

Louise: I think you have to be truthful with yourself that it is not simply the program that is going to make the success. It is your commitment to making a change because what is happening in your life has not worked for you. It can be the smallest of changes, it doesn't have to be anything more than one thing. But you have to pick one thing that you can stick with and actually change. 

Lana: Looking back now, what has been the best part of the changes you've made?

Louise: I have definitely gotten more confidence in my ability to be in charge of my body and my health. Before I felt that my body owed me something and I expected it to take care of me. I will be 60 in a few years and now it's pay back time! I am feeling much more energized, I can do more things, I feel great, people tell me I look better, and I enjoy my life 100 times more than I did before. 

Wow! Thanks Mom! 

What did you all think? Great words of wisdom here. Pop us a reply on our Blast Fitness Facebook Page!

Until next time,

Lana

 

Hasselback Baked Potatoes

October 20, 2014

These potatoes are so simple to make, yet they look so intricate. I find that yellow flesh potatoes taste really great rather than the russet variety for these. 

In order to relieve any frustration during the preparation stage, you will want to set yourself up properly to chop these spuds. After thoroughly washing the potatoes and leaving the skin on, slice a small layer off the bottom of the potato so it lays flat on the counter. Wedge the potato in between two cutting boards or chop sticks and slice thinly through the width of the potato end to end, being sure not to cut all the way to the counter!

Ingredients: 

4 yellow flesh potatoes of similar size

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp paprika

2 tbsp dried rosemary

Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with tin foil. Place the potatoes onto the baking sheet with the sliced side facing up. Before they are fully cooked, the slices will seem to stick together. During the baking process they will fan out. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over each potato, sprinkle with paprika and rosemary and bake for 50 minutes. 

Potatoes are a root vegetable that tend to get a bad name for how high in starch they are. This is a fabulous side dish to pair with a lean protein as an ideal post-workout meal. Starch helps with muscle recovery when eaten 30-60 minutes post-workout. 

 

The First Step To Improve Your Self-Control

October 10, 2014

You have uttered this phrase before: I wish I had more self-control.

Well great news, the latest research is telling us that self-control, or willpower does have a large potential for growth. We know that with practice, we can strengthen our will and desire to achieve the goals we set out to conquer. 

Before we embark on the journey of strengthening our ability to control our actions, we must understand the factors that zap our existing willpower, leaving us seemingly out of control when faced with a bag of our favourite potato chips. 

According to Stanford lecturer and author Kelly McGonigal, daily stress and lack of sleep are two of the largest factors to impair our ability to control (aka access willpower) our choices with food and drink.

I can certainly relate – the mornings where my alarm clock goes off and I begrudgingly roll out of bed like a zombie are equally as challenging in the realm of food preparation and making great choices at my local coffee shop.

Thus, the physiological challenge lies in our ability to self-regulate. Self-regulation is defined as the ability to deal with stress and subsequently recover from that stress. So, our inability to deal with stress properly will negatively affect our ability to exert much self-control. 

The basic physiological explanation for this occurrence is that self-regulation occurs in the oldest most unconscious area of our brain; whereas, self-control is contained in the most evolved section of our brain, the neocortex. When our body receives multiple signals of stress (whether real or perceived) we conserve energy by shutting down activitation to the more conscious thought driven areas of the brain like the neocortex.

Due to the large amounts of information and sensation we experience in our daily lives, it is simple to see the increasing importance of quality self-regulation. As professor of psychology and philosophy at York University Stuart Shanker explains “If IQ was the construct of the 20th century, self-regulation will be the construct of the 21st century.”

I believe that in today’s world you can think of our lives not as survival of the fittest, but rather may the best self-regulator prevail.

Now that we have recognized that self-regulation is one of the many factors that can aid us in our quest for improved self-control, how do we create the calm environment we need to recover from life stress?

Spend at least one consecutive hour each day without technology.

Video games, television and visual stimuli from electronic devices like smart phones and computers can negatively affect our stress response according to Dr. Shanker. If we know that our ability to self-control is only available to us when we can effectively self-regulate this surely lends support to at least an hour each day without electronics. My go to is a walk outside without checking my cellphone constantly.

Find a calming way to reduce external stimuli.

The key to this solution is finding an activity that is truly enjoyable for you. Dr. Shanker shared a story on the CBC radio program Ideas, about a class of 12 year old boys from the Yukon who were dealing with attention, anxiety and anger issues. Their teacher enjoyed knitting and taught the boys to knit as a way to focus on a relaxing task, thus reducing the effect of external stimuli, allowing their brains to effectively self-regulate and thus gain self-control over their behaviour. 

 

Crocheting is a relaxing, mindful activity that helps me to work-in, calming down and creating space between myself and the constant stimuli of the outside world. 

Use exercise as a tool to deal with stress. 

Of course this is an area near and dear to my heart. One of the best ways to self-regulate is to move. Regular exercise is THE MOST EFFECTIVE way to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies show that any type of physical practice whether it is running, yoga, strength training, dancing, tai chi or boxing all help to focus our mind, and calm the stress response that inhibits self-regulation.

Hmmmm...sounds like a feed-forward cycle to me. 

Exercise to reduce stress, once stress has been managed, we improve our ability to master self-control. 

I hope today’s post helps you to learn that you have the ability to improve your self-control once you find effective ways to reduce stress and aid self-regulation. 

Sincerely,

Lana

Do Others Affect Your Food Choices Part 2: Oh Let Me Count The Ways!

October 08, 2014

On Monday’s post I introduced the idea of co-dependent eating and shared that I believe it is short sighted to think that we can completely remove the effect of others on our eating choices. I mean, I want to be at a party and have someone say ‘Have you tried the cheesecake? It is amazing!’ followed by me trying some and enjoying every bite. For me, that is a peaceful relationship with food.

There definitely are moments where others will enhance our experiences with food.

Hello, wine tasting anyone? Yep, that was fun!

 

On the other side of the fence there are certain situations where we can forego listening to our body’s biofeedback signals and make choices that we seemingly have no control over. The three situations we will discuss today can leave us feeling frustrated and powerless.

Because the food is just sitting there.

Probably the most frequent scenario for mindless eating is the office candy bowl. Perhaps it is located on the desk of your co-worker, or just outside the bathroom so you ‘have’ to walk by a couple times a day. Your thoughts place immediate external blame – why does Suzy leave that damn bowl of candy on her desk? She is making this so tough for me!

Perhaps, can you perceive Suzy’s bowl of candy as a willpower challenge? An opportunity to practice saying no. This requires a significant mindset shift. In order to be successful we must take the blame away from Suzy and recognize that it is a chance to practice our self-control. (Note: I believe that self-control and restriction are completely different things)

Because our loved one is doing it.

To me this is the heart of co-dependent eating: The belief that the eating decisions of those closest to us must affect our own.

There is another mindset shift to be tackled here. You are two separate people with two separate metabolisms. Sharing food and drinks together is inevitable and an important part of life! But feeling frustrated by your significant other’s choices is the perfect example of being in THEIR business rather than staying in your own. This is an area that I have worked hard at mastering over the past couple years. 

The best way to inspire your loved ones is not to belittle their food choices. When we walk the talk, prepare them healthy meals and make choices to reflect our own reality we all win! We do not feel resentful that their food choices brought us down, we let them take responsibility for their actions and we lead by example too. 

Because we are worried what someone will say about our food choices.

Picture yourself at dinner with your family. While looking over the menu you think to yourself ‘If I order a salad, they will ask why am I eating healthy, am I trying to lose weight or something’ Gasp!

Let’s cut to the chase. Life is simply too short to let other’s opinions dictate our reality. This is coming from the girl who has spent YEARS worrying about what others think! The best part about being totally open to other’s questions and judgement of your actions is that you get to be yourself at all times! No pretending, saving face or living for your family’s expectations.

 

There have been many situations in which I have let others affect my food choices. In sharing my vulnerability I hope to help you overcome the perception that others place limitations on you. With practice, a healthy balance of self-control and listening to your body you can direct your own course to happy and healthy version of yourself.

Sincerely,

Lana

Vanilla Almond Protein Pudding

October 06, 2014

As part of Jill Coleman's Best of You Coaching Club For Mind, Body and Business I have the privilege of a group of smart, savy and creative women at my fingertips. We troubleshoot with each other and inspire each other to create meaningful content that solves problems for our customers. This recipe was shared as an example of how vegetarians can get more protein in their diet. Thanks to Concita of The Great Shape Fit Club for the inspiration for this one! I added my own flair and it is a perfect snack. 

Ingredients:

1 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used BioSteel whey protein isolate)

Sprinkle of toasted almonds

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Stir yogurt and protein powder together to blend. Top with toasted almonds (use extra toasted almonds as oatmeal or salad topping) and cinnamon. Enjoy!