Was I Being “Body Positive” Or Destroying My Health?

I love my body. I love that it has carried four babies, two of them being twins. I love that it has birthed my children. I love that it has scars and stretch marks and dimples. It has many and it is the road map of my life. When you really think about it, a woman’s body is incredible and can do incredible things.

But lately… lately I have been letting it down.

Before twins I always had a negative relationship with my body. I got angry when it wouldn’t shed pounds. I covered it up because to me it wasn’t ideal. I starved it and overtrained it and cursed it when it didn’t perform.

During my twin pregnancy everything was stripped away, and my one job was to grow and incubate my babies. I felt my body stretch, my hips seperate, and my heart race. But despite the pain my girls thrived. My body did it’s job.

During those days as I lay on the sofa with a pillow between my knees I made myself a promise. I promised to thank it. I promised to care for it and treat it the way it deserved. That meant losing the weight I purposely put on during my pregnancy, feeding it the right foods and strengthening it. But above all, I would rehabilitate my body with love.

I did. I followed through with my promise. It was a journey but I kept my promise.

You can read about my body after babies journey in my popular blog post: What Having Four Kids (Including Twins) Has Done To My Body and My Confidence.

At least until last year.

Last year I had a couple of life events that shook me. I was stressed and started to reach for food as comfort. I overate at every meal and every snack. I gave myself constant stomach aches, (which is really risky for me because in the previous year I suffered from Diverticulitis), but in the moment while I ate I felt numb and numb felt good.

Besides, a trend was building that was telling me that curvy was good. That adding on some extra weight and embracing it was actually the kind thing to do for my body. Or at least, that was how I was interpreting it.

But I didn’t feel good.

So I’d try to be mindful of my portions and ramp up my exercise and then it would fall apart.

I began posting on Instagram, along with almost everyone else, photos of my curvier body and how I was embracing my curves and buying new clothes to fit the new me.

But I didn’t feel good.

I was out of breath, was getting light-headed often, I had a sore back, and felt lethargic. So I’d try again with a new goal of caring for my body better, (which for my small 5’2″ frame meant shedding some of those pounds), and I shared this goal of health online. The response? Some positive, but I also received some blowback because the goal I was after wasn’t popular. This threw me and once again, and I stopped.

Was it guilt that I felt? I’m not sure, but I felt like I was doing something wrong.

But I didn’t feel good.

In January I turned 36, and I started to notice my body felt stiff. Really stiff. I initially joked that it was just my age, but 36? Really?

So, a few weeks ago I decided to be really honest with myself and step on a scale. Yes, a scale, which in my opinion, can be a great tool for some if used properly. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe what I had done to myself. What about the promise?

Enough was enough. It was time to make positive changes for my health and make sure I protected what I knew was right. I went through my social media and unfollowed anyone who I felt was making me second guess my goal. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault that I had lost sight of my goal of health, but it was making me second guess myself.

I’ve made sure that what I was doing to move more was on my terms and left me feeling satisfied and proud. I am working out every morning. Sometimes it’s ten minutes of stretches and abs. Other days I hop on my treadmill and run while watching Netflix.

I am taking my time to pre-cook my meals days in advance, and slow down and enjoy every bite and today my gut health is better than ever. Don’t worry, I am enjoying indulging on our weekly date night and here and there. But not everyday.

Today I am choosing love. I am choosing health.

I have lost seven pounds, and plan to shed more.

I’m happy and I feel good. I’m climbing the stairs without getting winded and my body feels more flexible.

I think some really great things are coming out of the current body positivity movement. But somehow along the way balance was lost and a bizarre version of reverse body-shaming has begun. I fell victim to this trend and I am 36.

I worry about my three daughters entering a world where the conversation is so one-sided. I want them to love their body at all stages of their life. I want them to know that we are all different and our relationship with our bodies is a personal one.

I want them to treat their bodies the way they deserve to be treated. I want the goal of health to be important to them.

You can be curvy and be healthy. You can love yourself and still chase a goal.

Body positivity should be a movement based on knowing yourself, accepting other people’s choices and cheering each other on. Body positivity should be about listening to your body and knowing when it is in a season of grief, healing, growing another life, rehabilitation or renewal. Body positivity should be about knowing the difference between embracing health and settling into a body that may not be thriving.

Above all, body positivity should be about supporting each other, knowing that what may work for one person may not work for another. That one person may need a strategy or a diet to battle inflammation or digestive issues, and that a scale can be a great tool for one person, but a torment for another. Body positivity should be about erasing judgement and saying I support you and your journey towards health.

I am choosing what’s right for me. I am choosing to chase health, and happiness.

I will be documenting my journey on Instagram and I’d like you to join the conversation and follow along there.

My friend Ana at Bluebird Kisses has also written an article on this topic. I’d love for you to weigh in and let me know what you think about this current trend.

8 simple tips (from a mom of four and a personal trainer) that will make your at home workouts more successful

I used to be a gym rat. I had finally found success with weight loss and exercise when I was in my early twenties. I associated working out with leaving my house, away from the distraction, (and snacks) and I would get it done.

8 tips for working out at home

But after becoming a mother and a failed attempt at going to the gym, (while my son screamed the entire time he was in the daycare my gym provided), I knew that I had to find a way to workout at home.

So, little by little I carved out a space, did my research and invested in a few pieces of equipment. This little haven became even more important as I had my second child, and eventually my third and fourth: twins.

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There would be times that I would find getting up in the morning, before anyone else, my sweet spot, and other times in the evening, just after putting my kids to bed would be when I could get my workout in.

But it was always nice to know that I didn’t have to rely on childcare, or waste time driving somewhere to workout.

For me it was and is the perfect fit.

After having my twins I was on a roll. I worked out almost daily, starting after I was three months postpartum and I eventually lost sixty of the seventy pounds I had gained. But those last ten pounds have stuck to me like glue.

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Occasionally I will shake things up and find some success, but then life will happen and boom, back to square one.

That’s when I decided to work with an in home personal trainer twice a week in my home, and it has made a massive difference. I have realized that I was stagnant and not really pushing myself enough.

My husband has got in on the action too, which has held us both accountable. I am now working out six days a week, and not only have I watched the scale start moving again, but muscles I have never seen before are popping up, and I am happier and more patient with my entire family.

I have already learned so much over the past month working out with a personal trainer, and have seen such incredible results, I wanted to share some home workout tips with you.

I asked Rob, from Trainers On Site to share his tips, and I have also included some of mine…

Personal trainer tips:

1. Invest in home fitness equipment. What is worth the investment? Essentials like small dumbbells, (5-10lb dumbbells are a must if not adjustable dumbbells), a stability ball to act like a bench, or a stepper (bench and cardio in 1), 2 different levels of resistance bands (light and medium), a door anchor to attach them to, a cardio machine that lasts like a treadmill, rower or an elliptical machine. Using different equipment not only freshens up your workout, but it puts different stimulus reacting to your muscles being worked, therefore greater results!

2. Use your technology and entertainment devices. You can tap into great music from your smart device, (I personally like FitRadio). Or for boring or mindless cardio, you can watch a show or movie. (Netflix is great for this). Many studies have proven that music enhances your performance. Why sit on a couch to watch TV when you can be active, moving and burn calories?

3. Track your workouts. Don’t just track the days you worked out, but also the sets, reps, load pushed or pulled. Use a notebook or journal, or go high tech and use an app like we do with our clients. In order to achieve better results you need to know what results you had before. Using the Progressive Overload approach and adding more load, or more reps, or more sets, makes a big difference in increasing lean muscle while burning stubborn body fat.

4. Involve someone to help keep you accountable. This could be your partner/spouse, a friend with similar goals, or a personal trainer to keep you on track. Adding a workout partner for motivation and drive allows both parties a win/win scenario. Make sure it is someone you can count on when you don’t feel like showing up to your own workout. Personal Training at home works!

5. Carve out ME TIME. There could be many options here so you have to figure out what works, (early before anyone gets up, during nap or school time, late at night when kids go to sleep), the earlier the better (a moms day never ends! This is an essential tip that might go overlooked. Get in a groove and find out what works best for you and your family and then stick to it. Home workouts are great for efficiency and convenience but can also end up being minimal if you don’t stick to a regular schedule.

Tips from a mom of four who has fallen in love with working out at home:

6. Have a carrot. I find planning a little getaway, or get togethers with friends the best motivation. It can be so easy to not leave your house for days on end without really realizing it when you are in the trenches with your kids. Make plans and get excited about them.

7. Take progress shots. When you are so busy and in comfy sweats most days it can sometimes be hard to see any progress. I love referring back to the photos I have just after having my kids and thanking my body for creating those humans and how far it has come since.

8. Dress up like you are leaving to go to a gym. After having many months of success working out at home, I slowly started to let everything slide. At first it began with me being too lazy to put on my running shoes, then a bra, and eventually I was rolling out of bed and doing a couple sit-ups in my pjs and calling it a day. Putting the effort in to dress the part will set you up for a better workout.

Want to join in on a workout with us? Check out our Facebook live video as Rob, from Trainers On Site, myself and two special guests lead you through a workout you can do at home.

Trainers On Site has been servicing the GTA since 2008 bringing workouts to clients homes and workplaces.

Their mission is to help the world get a little bit healthier one workout at a time.

They offer:
– one on one personal training
– small group personal training
– corporate fitness

They service:
– Milton and Halton Hills
– Oakville
– Mississauga
– Brampton
– downtown and west Toronto

You’re their perfect client if you’re a busy mom or dad who has no time or motivation to get to the gym.

In order to try out their service they’re offering first-time customers a free fitness assessment, personal training session and meal plan to help them get started.

Check out Trainers On Site at www.trainersonsite.com or call them at one 188-826-91867.

Workout at home

Disclosure: Nesting Story is in partnership with Trainers On Site and has received free services from them.

I will stop seeing myself as broken and finally see what my body is capable of

This is it. This is the year. I am done hiding behind my kids in photos, and pulling at my clothes as I sit down. I am ready for change. But I know now that I have to change the way I see myself, before any real change can happen.

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When I was around my oldest daughter’s age, (so that would be around age six), I had two minor surgeries. Then I jumped into my parents’ pool backwards, smacking my chin, resulting in stitches. The years following I had many bouts of strep throat, tonsillitis, pneumonia and mono. Then at the end of high school came the big finish… a tumour on my thyroid resulting in a complete thyroidectomy.

I know right? I am starting to look a little like a thirty-four-year-old quilt.

I was one of four kids, and can’t imagine the worry all of this would have caused my parents. Now as a mother of four, I know how easily you can start placing your child into a certain description or type, even if you shouldn’t. I was the charismatic, sunny, slightly chubby, bubbly, non-athletic one.

childhood

My mom was very quick to let me know that I was beautiful the way I was, that I would always find my place in the world because I was not only smart, but had incredible street-smarts, and to not over-do it. I credit this kind upbringing to my current post-four-babies, (including twins), self-love attitude. I do think I am pretty awesome, despite some scars, stretch marks and cellulite I have collected over the years.

But truth be told, I have played the “broken” card one too many times in my life. After having mono, I was able to negotiate a doctor’s note that exempted me from phys-ed for an entire year. I was a smooth talker, and would turn my fear of letting team members down, into a joke about how I don’t play any sports that involves a ball, or a team.

Ahem… this one is still true and I will stand by it. Basically, the idea of me playing volleyball is my worst nightmare.

But when it came to physical exercise and getting in shape, I would attempt my goal for a short time, and then give up.

Finally, in my second year of collage, after ballooning to an all-time high on the scale, I set my mind to it… I would lose the weight and become the fit person I always wanted to be. Guess what, I did it. I reached my goal. I lost almost 30 pounds and became this badass, strong person that I had never met before.

slim

How did I do it? I did the zone diet, (which Jennifer Aniston made cool at the time), I worked out a lot, (I had lots of free time between classes), and I indoor rock climbed, (one of my favourite non-team/ball sports), with my boyfriend at the time, Mike, (he’s now my husband).

I remember that this time in my life was one of my happiest.

This was following one of the darkest times in my life, after having my thyroid out, my family dog dying, family health scares and not yet finding my path to my future career, I had fallen into a depression, which I eventually pulled myself out of with the help of a therapist.

But now I was soaring. I would sometimes come home from a late night indoor climbing workout, or running faster than I thought was possible on the treadmill and be met by family or friends with comments that I was becoming “too thin,” or “too obsessed.”

These comments slowly wore me down. They took roots inside of me, and began to blossom into feelings of guilt about my progress and that maybe everyone liked me a little more as the bubbly, slightly chubby, non-athletic one.

Since the height of my personal physical fitness goal being reached, and the subsequent fall back into old habits of considering a light stroll a workout, resulting in being so weak I pull my neck picking up my kids toys, this idea that I am broken or more liked when out of shape, has haunted me.

Well, that was until I was met with the biggest challenge yet in my life… my twin pregnancy. The mental, physical and emotional toll this challenge took on me has been life changing. I think the fact that I couldn’t just give up and take my belly off was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

twin pregnancy

Truthfully, I thought my twin pregnancy would break me. I surely wasn’t cut out for that kind of marathon. Every day I would think to myself, “this is it, the day that my body gives out, that it exposes itself for what I always thought it was… a weakling.”

But instead, the opposite happened. My body shocked me at its incredible ability to be an incubator, creating two people at once. Even when I would almost black out when I reached the top of the stairs, or the day I lost my vision while driving. It did it’s job. It was a mighty vessel.

twin pregnancy

My mind even shocked me. Out of isolation and a feeling of being trapped inside of my body, I was able to eventually push past the fear and create change in my life.

It has taken me a long time to get where I am after having my twins. It has taken a lot of perseverance and hard work. But most of all, it has taken a lot of patience and love for myself.

weight loss after twin pregnancy

Rewiring my brain isn’t easy. I know what has held me back and I am slowly chipping away.

I have created a visual in my head, and I am constantly closing my eyes and returning to that vision of strength and determination. A person who isn’t afraid anymore. A person who is going to let go of the comfortable weight and soar again.

working out

I have come so far and have been through so much. It is time to recreate who I see myself as, knowing that although I will be changing some things, that doesn’t mean that I am losing the best parts of me.

I want this change to come from a place of self care and of giving back to my body after everything it has given and created.

I’m not broken, I’ve just been scared. It’s time to let that fear help propel me forward so that I can reach my goals, drop the excuses, be secure within my success and know that wanting to reach the finish line is not selfish, it’s self-love.

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What am I doing about it?

I have been researching, reading, sharing, exploring and have been asking for help. I have partnered with a personal trainer who is going to help me stay focused and stand by me when I think that I am not enough.

Rob from Trainers On Site has been working with me, (and Mike), since the beginning of December and already I am feeling stronger and closer to my goals.

I am so excited to start bringing all of you on this journey with me. I will be raw and honest with you along the way, sharing my fears and my triumphs as I peel back the layers of self doubt I have been carrying around with me since childhood.

I will be sharing what I’ve learned, including my exercise routine, fitness tips and meal ideas on Facebook (including live videos), here on the blog, on my YouTube channel and on Instagram.

Progress photos will be posted each week, and I will motivate and inspire you with your goals along the way.

Trainers On Site is an in-home personal training service. Servicing Toronto, West GTA and Halton.

Disclosure: Nesting Story is in partnership with Trainers On Site and has received free services from them.

What I Learned, And How I Surprised Myself With My Two Week Cardio Challenge

I woke up this morning and finally felt, for the first time in a long time, that my body was stronger. As I started to take a few steps after getting out of bed, I noticed that everything felt, well… less loose, to put it bluntly.

This wonderful feeling piqued my curiosity and I decided to hop on the scale. I was down three pounds. Three hard-earned pounds in two weeks, and I felt good.

Two weeks ago, I started a cardio challenge that was inspired by a recent bout of anxiety. My anxiety had lead to me taking up running and I could feel my anxiety melting away. This was when I realized that my body and mind craved cardio, something that I had been avoiding for a long time.

Going into the two-week challenge I had three main goals:

  1. To incorporate daily fitness into my routine and help strengthen my body.
  2. To use running as stress-release and to control my anxiety.
  3. To not only set a good example for both my kids and my husband, but to include them in my cardio journey as well.

But the challenge ended up going far beyond these three goals.

For the first few days I found it hard to work cardio into my day. I was constantly pushing it to the end of my to-do list and not making time for it before the day was over. Finally I had an epiphany. I had to make cardio my priority. So I began running mid-morning each day, which was the perfect fit.IMG_3718

It was a great feeling to know that I had got my run in and didn’t have to fit it in for the rest of the day. I also enjoyed breaking up sitting at my computer all morning and getting some fresh air and sunshine… even when a squirrel tried to throw a branch at me.IMG_3678

Next it was time to add my family to the mix. Although we haven’t done any bike rides yet due to some much-needed bike repairs, we have gone on many nature hikes. We even found a pond near our house and have enjoyed watching the frogs hop around.IMG_6450

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One realization my husband Mike and I had was to not only bring a double stroller for our twin toddlers, but also a wagon for our older kids. This way they could hop out and explore and run here and there, but when they got tired they could jump back into the wagon. This saved us from lots of complaining and the pushing and pulling added to Mike and I’s workout as well.

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When I challenged the kids to races, they thought it was so fun. Our twins couldn’t stop laughing from their stroller as they watched. Apparently the sight of mommy running is pretty rare and funny.

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But the biggest surprise for me was this: I became hooked on cardio. Actually so much that I started participating in activities I used to just leave for Mike. My new favourite activity is gardening, and I’m not just taking about pulling a weed here and there, but labour-intensive digging and planting.

gardening

There is this feeling you get when you have been doing more cardio. Your muscles ache, but it’s a good, hard-earned pain. Your body feels tighter, you have more energy, your mind is clearer and you have more perspective. This is a feeling that I am going to continue reaching for, way past my two-week challenge.

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My entire family stayed hydrated with Ocean Spray® PACt® Cranberry Extract Water while staying active. As far as flavor goes, I find the Cranberry Mango Passionfruit tastes like a treat; it’s almost dessert-like. The Cranberry Raspberry and the Cranberry Pomegranate were more refreshing, with the Cranberry Pomegranate tasting a bit more tart.

We each have our favourites, mine being the Cranberry Mango Passionfruit. Beau has become an Ocean Spray® PACt® Cranberry Extract Water connoisseur. Her favourite flavours are tied between the Cranberry Pomegranate and the Cranberry Raspberry flavours, or what she calls “the red and purple bottles.”

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Knowing that I was only consuming 10 calories per drink was great, and that our whole family was hydrating themselves with a drink that has no GMOs lets me breathe easy.

Ocean Spray® PACt® Cranberry Extract Water is a tasty and low-calorie way to hydrate in a more meaningful way. Packed with the power of 50 cranberries, PACt® Cranberry Extract Water delivers unique cranberry health benefits. Visit http://pact.oceanspray.ca to learn more and find out where to buy PACt® water at a store near you.

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Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Ocean Spray® via Mode Media Canada. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Ocean Spray®.

Being A Responsible Adult (Vlog 10)

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In this week’s vlog I try to figure out the best time to fit my exercise in and make sure I take care of my adult responsibilities before I can play.

Also, the kids have a water balloon fight and it is dress up day in camp. Find out more what “work” for me involves and how Holden’s Captain America costume almost turned into a deadly weapon.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Nesting Story on YouTube so that you don’t miss a video!