I was almost 43, at least 40 pounds overweight, and had resigned myself to the "fact" that I was never going to be fit and really healthy: I was in my 40's, my metabolism had slowed down, my genetics predisposed me to being heavy, I was a busy mom, blah blah blah, and I'd just have to buy bigger clothes. This was just how my life was going to be.
I didn't feel like going to the gym and I had no interest in depriving myself and eating like a rabbit. I loved my life and my food freedom. I was busy with family, my art business, a full-time job, friends, home obligations, etc. This must be what the 40's are like - busy and you can't have it all; something's gotta give. I sunk right into this mindset as my waist continued to grow.
Interestingly, I continued to write in my journal that I wanted to be healthy and strong. Not thin. Not an athlete. Not a supermodel. I just knew I could be better, even though my mind was justifying my current state of being. So, in the back of my mind I kept wanting to be strong and healthy while still eating fast-food for lunch almost every day, having Grande lattes regularly, and expanding my wardrobe. I didn't think about how I would get healthy and strong, I just wanted to be...kind of...in a magic unicorn way where I could just wake up one day in the body I wished for. Exercise and eating well seemed really hard and not much fun and just more things on a to-do list that was already too long.
Don't get me wrong - I was happy! My family is pure gold, I was pursuing my passion of making art, I have amazing friends, my day job is great and my body... well, I didn't hate it...it created two children and weathered 42 years on this planet. I actually felt really grateful for my body because of all the opportunities it allowed me to experience - travelling to beautiful places, seeing my husband's smile, smelling lilacs at the cottage, hearing my boys laughing uncontrollably...I had a beating heart and two legs that moved me - how could I hate such a miraculous thing?
I was even grateful for my tummy that I've always been self-conscious of (and was nearly the size of at my pregnancies!). I looked at it as a sign of abundance and freedom in my life and was thankful for all the good times (meals and cocktails and coffees) enjoyed with family and friends. And this tummy created two beautiful babies. Grateful, not hateful.
So alongside the gratitude for everything that was, I continued to wish that I was strong and healthy. I wanted to have more energy. I didn't want to feel so dehydrated and lethargic all the time. I wanted to be more active. I didn't want to fall in the footsteps of my ancestors with heart disease and diabetes. But, I didn't want to really do anything differently either. Well, isn't that the definition of insanity - doing what you've always done, expecting a different result? Hey, I'm optimistic!! :) But I was getting tired and farther and farther away from what I truly desired.
And then without even realizing that the turning point in my life was about to happen, my friend Dana told me about some online health and fitness challenge she was doing. It was a program called Beachbody. She said it was great - no magic to it, just doing some simple exercises at home and eating real food. I wasn't completely sold but it sounded like it was really working for her and it seemed reasonable - no starving, no big gym membership commitment, and I could fit these little exercises in on my own time. Doable.
Another challenge was starting soon so I looked up what Beachbody was. I was still skeptical because my first impression was some body-building bikini competition program with an ultra restrictive diet. (No thank you.) But, I trust Dana so I bought a challenge pack and got ready for the next challenge. It was the 21 Day Fix program with a month of Shakeology: 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, neat little coloured containers so I would know how much of each kind of food group to eat daily, and a dense nutrition (and yummy!) chocolate protein shake everyday. It also came with an awesome group of super supportive and similar-to-me kinds of women to connect with everyday. Surprise! This was not just for bodybuilders or bikini models; it was for real people like me: 40-something, out of shape, not having a clue, but wanting something better.
Never could I have imagined that that challenge program and those 3 weeks would change my life so dramatically.
As much as I loved my daily Cinnamon Dolce Lattes and can of Pepsi, I knew they had to go; the heartburn, indigestion, dehydration, energy swings, and general knowledge that these were shit foods, made me drop them on Day 1. I replaced those with chocolate Shakeology that was so filling and delicious, it was like having dessert for breakfast. I started doing the 21 Day Fix workouts and stuck with them everyday for the whole 3 weeks. I drank boatloads of water and really planned meals - all home made, nothing processed. And I stuck to the meal plan using the magic containers (FYI - you get more than one of each a day, lots more!). Surprisingly, it was A LOT of food! It was actually a struggle to eat that much in a day. But, it was good food - veggies and real meat that wasn't processed, and true flavours without copious amounts of sugar and salt.
I was actually awe-struck at the difference in what I thought healthy eating was, compared to what I was eating on the meal plan. Not starving and not a lot of work. Just some forethought to have the good foods in my house and not waiting until I was hungry to eat (which previously led to inhaling the closest and most easily consumable food....you know...cookies, chips, instant noodles, microwavable anything....).
I lost 9 pounds and multiple inches in that first 21-day challenge and woke up feeling full of energy and giddy with the possibility of my life. It was happening - I was becoming healthy and strong, just like I had wished. I now had the structure and knowledge base to make it happen, and most importantly, amazing people by my side cheering me on. People who could relate to the struggles and didn't care about my bed-head selfie posts. I had found my tribe as they say - the other people in the challenge group, my husband, my friend Dana, and my Beachbody coaches. It was all so motivating and my momentum was unstoppable. The more I did, the better I felt. It was getting easier and addictive, even!
I've kept doing the 21 Day Fix since that first challenge on February 20th, 2017 and I've lost 19 pounds, and counting. But more importantly are the things I've gained. I'm still working at it but I feel healthier and stronger than I ever have - even since high school. I was smaller and played sports then but my eating was terrible. I eat delicious healthy real food every meal now and really appreciate the occasional treats that I decide to have (ummm...movie popcorn?? Yes, please.)
My boys see the example I'm setting and we are all eating much better. Even Craig lost weight without even trying! I have so much more energy. I get my workout in first thing in the morning before the day gets away on me. My skin has cleared up. My bank account's growing since I quit the lattes and lunches out. And I love what I see in the mirror - stronger and healthier.
Strong and healthy. It's happening and my joy is like fireworks.
It makes me think of my favourite quote, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined." It's been my mantra for a long time now and propels me to keep going. I'm so excited about my future and how wonderfully healthy and strong I can get with all the Beachbody programs available. I even became a Beachbody coach to maintain my momentum and, (like a true Winnipegger) get the coach discount ;D It also gives me a way to celebrate the greatness in even more women than just through my art.
This new way of living hasn't been a burden like I imagined for so many years. It's freeing. I'm absolutely elated. I was positive and happy before, but now, my joy, gratitude, and optimism are off the charts. I found the unicorn magic and it kind of feels like I got access to a secret drug. Truly. I sometimes get tears in my eyes with overwhelm.
So, why the heck am I telling you all this? What does it matter to anyone else?
I just want to share the hope. I want you to know that it's never too late and you're never too _______, to go in the direction of your dreams and live the life you've imagined. I believe in you because I know we all have greatness in us. Have faith. Miracles are all around us. We are never alone. You don't have to have it all figured out. There is a way, just start with one step.
You can do the thing you desire, whether it's getting healthy and strong, or learning to dance, or travelling the world, or making art out of dust bunnies...whatever! I'm here to celebrate you and your greatness because it's there already waiting for you. You just have to let it out and allow it's power to take hold of you. Just say a resounding "YES", TO yourself, FOR yourself.
So please, Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined. I know you can.
You can start by taking action right now by leaving a comment and saying out loud what is the life you've imagined. And if you'd like to join me on my healthy and strong journey or get more information about the Beachbody programs, drop me a line about that too. I'm ready with my pom poms!
Big love and gratitude to you, friend.