(Posted February 4, 2014 and edited since then…)
Last week I put out a post on the facebook.com/nopainpaleo page asking the community if they needed anything more from my daily musings and food photos. Michelle asked me how I stayed so committed to fitness and Paleo and how I battled cravings. I decided I wasn’t going to answer that question until today.
What’s so special about today?
It’s February 4 and it’s a day I hold more dear than my birthday and it’s almost more important than the day I married Mike.
On February 4, 2010, I had an epiphany. I don’t throw that word around lightly. It was truly a day of enlightenment for me.
I was finally sitting in a doctor’s office looking to get my first ever physical. I was 31. As a generally healthy person, I didn’t see a physician for anything more than a couple bouts of ear infections and pink eye in my 20s. Going to a doctor to check on my general health was on my to-do list but I just never got around to it. Mike had been after me for years to get checked out but I sloughed him off every time he brought it up.
So I had finished my early shift and was sitting in the office waiting room feeling tired, as usual, and wondering how long this whole ordeal would take. Two interns approached me and said they’d take me through the routine of a weigh-in, eye tests and general health questions.
Everything was fine until I got on the scale. It was a very matter-of-fact voice that read out my weight and I didn’t hear much after that. The number shocked me. Really shook me to my core. I knew that I had gained a bit of weight as my new early morning shift (3am -11am) was terrorizing my body. I didn’t eat well, I didn’t sleep well, and I certainly didn’t exercise.
I had always been the skinny girl until I hit my 20s. It was then that I worked an overnight shift (11pm – 7am) for two years and that didn’t help. When I got back to an almost regular shift, the weight kind of came off. When I got married in 2005 I lost some…could have lost more…
But it was 2009 where the wheels really came off. I remember grabbing 6 slices of whole wheat bread and just eating it plain. I bought processed foods because it was easy…and I was tired.
On Friday nights Mike and I would order one double cheese double pepperoni pizza plus another one with an equal amount of cheese and fat…then wash it down with a case of beer. We thought we deserved it after a crazy stressful week…which was every week.
And now here I was sitting and looking at my new doctor and hearing her say, “well…you’re not that overweight. You don’t have to lose any if you don’t want to.” She set me up with papers to get my blood work done and then mentioned off-hand that she thought my heart rate was pretty normal for someone with excess weight.
I don’t remember driving home. I don’t remember coming into the house and preparing myself for an afternoon nap. I just kept hearing that number on the scale being read out. I wondered how I got to that point…even though I knew in my heart how it had happened. The next part was: what the hell to do about it?
When Mike got home, he found me curled up on the couch and miserable…crying actually. Stage one for me was feeling sorry for myself even though I knew that was a cop-out. He listened to what happened at the doctor’s and sat quiet for a minute. Then he said, “Okay. 3 times a week, we’re going downstairs and we’re going to use that BowFlex machine you bought a year ago and we’re going to do cardio. We’ll start with half an hour and we’ll go from there.”
So…3 times a week like clockwork we went downstairs and did different weight lifting exercises with the dumbbells and wrist weights I had bought in the past. I used the rower on my Bowflex and did other bodyweight exercises. I had a magnetic notepad that I stuck to the furnace and we recorded our weight every Friday. I still have all the sheets dating back to that first day.
We both lost 10 pounds relatively quickly. I cleaned out the fridge and cupboards of “bad” foods and we said good-bye to our Friday night pizza and beer gorge.
This went on for about 3 months. By that point, I had lost 17 pounds and people were starting to notice the changes. I had gone back to the doctor for my blood test results and other than being iron deficient and having an under-active thyroid, I was in pretty good health. The skinny girl was still under there and screaming to get out.
Around the first of May Mike called me all excited. “Hey! The Run for Vaughan is in 3 weeks. We should do it! It’s only 3K.” I should point out right here that neither one of us ran. I was of the philosophy that I would only run if something was chasing me.
Nevertheless I agreed and we signed up. The first night we went out was a total disaster. I couldn’t run for more than 50 metres at a stretch. We mapped out a 3K course and I think it took me about 50 minutes to finish. It could have been an hour…I just don’t remember. I do remember the vast amount of pain my legs were in after the first week of trying to run. But we had made a commitment. We were not backing down and we knew it would be good for us. Someone told us to run between 3 street lights and walk to the next one until we could string together a kilometre. That really worked well for me. Race day arrived and I did it in a blistering 26 minutes. Nowhere near a speed demon but it was monumental for me.
After you finish reading this post, check out this video. It’s how we prepped for the race…and actual race day.
Around this time, I went to a Maximized Health meeting organized by my chiroprator’s office. There I learned about processed foods, the hidden dangers of various cooking oils and other foods I thought were pretty healthy. Again, I came home and cleared out the cupboards of any bread and most pasta.
I did 3Ks 3 days a week for a year no matter what the weather or what was going on in my life. If we went away for the weekend, I brought my gear and had Mike reset the trip meter on the car so I could figure out a route to use. This was clearly before I had a smartphone 🙂
In June 2011, I signed up for my first 5K. My mom was there for that. That was fun. It was a tough run and I did it in 35 minutes. My best time GPS wise is under 29 minutes. My goal is now 28 minutes.
From there, I have participated in more 5Ks, a 10K and in 2013, I did a half marathon. Not really impressed with my time on that one…but I did it.
I also discovered a love for Hatha yoga during this time. It certainly helped with my mental health and for stretching out after a run. I went to yoga class usually 4 times a week in addition to running 3 times a week. Somewhere along the line, I lost about 50 pounds and that’s where I’ve been for the last year or so.
At the end of May 2013 – at the urging of Nada, one of my yoga teachers – I went to a CrossFit class. Nada and Jamie, a co-worker, had been after me for about 6 months to go. They said it would appeal to my competitive nature. I was actually scared of CrossFit. I thought it was full of painfully intense athletes who wouldn’t accept someone of my limited abilities.
Thank God I decided to give it a try. It’s been another milestone in my goal of being as healthy and as fit as possible. Coach Kristi and everyone at CrossFit Vortex are so encouraging and inspiring. (crossfitvortex.com)
When I discovered the Paleo diet and won September’s Paleo Challenge (without losing any weight! -all strength and fitness numbers increased giving me the win) I had a new way to achieve those goals. I’ve maintained mostly a Paleo diet since then. I do cheat with a beer every once in a while…and maybe the odd bit of chocolate. I’ve been able to incorporate it into my life very easily.
Why am I so motivated?
I don’t want to be that girl in the doctor’s office again. I don’t want to hate looking at myself in photos. I need to stay healthy as I get older because I don’t have kids to “look after me in my old age”. I am scared of cancer, diabetes, dementia, strokes and other diseases. I don’t want to have to take a bucket of pills when I get old. I love going clothes shopping and knowing that the size small will fit. Those days of getting the L and XL clothes are long behind me. I love that I can lift heavy things, rip out pull ups, do military push ups…run long distances. The list goes on and on. And that’s how I push through cravings. To me, it’s just not worth it.
I still work the crazy 2:15 to 11am shift but I make it work for me through fitness and diet. I will not go back to the way I was. I’ve worked too hard and for too long to ever give it all away.
(Update) I don’t work that crazy shift anymore. My body was on the verge of giving out. Waking up at 1am five times a week for 5 years just wasn’t working anymore. I now am a TV freelancer with a great gig working for the Blue Jays, Argos, Raptors, Rock, and The Shopping Channel with much nicer hours.
I also completed the Sporting Life 10K 2014 in under 1 hour! That was extremely exciting.
In September, I increased my deadlift to 250#. (Update 2017: now it’s 265!)
In October, I took the course and became a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.
In November, I self-published a cookbook (link to hard copy and digital copy is on the home page).
Now I’m into Day 19 of The Whole Life Challenge. It’s incredible to think how much my life has changed in five years. I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people who have encouraged and supported me during these five years. THANK YOU!
I had a nice five year anniversary gift today, too. I PR’d my Push Press. 130#! (Update…now 140). I didn’t expect that at all today. I almost took a rest day:) It’s proof that working hard and finding ways to stay motivated will bear results.
I’m proof that if you make up your mind to change, you can do anything.
Thanks for reading. I know this was long but I hope it might help you find your motivation.