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.

Where Does Our Food Come From? A Family Lesson While Making a Natural Heating/Cooling Bag DIY

This blog post was created with Hellmann’s® and JONES Voice

 I am ready to admit it. For a long time, especially while I was pregnant with our twins and the year following, I was just trying to survive. I would race out to the grocery store whenever I had a minute, especially just after my husband, Mike would get home from work, so I could zip out kid-free and just get it done. I would grab loads of produce and then grab our family’s staples; foods I knew were easy to cook and everyone would actually eat.

A lot of the time when I am stocking our kitchen in such a rush, I don’t really think too much about what the ingredients are in our foods. I am big on fresh produce, but as far as everything goes, I just opt for what is easy and has some nutritional value.

I know so many moms who are hyper aware of ingredients and base their decisions while shopping on their vast knowledge. There are times when I feel a bit guilty and embarrassed that I don’t know more about our food.

Our oldest kids; Holden who is seven-years-old, and Beau who is five-years-old, have hit this extremely inquisitive age. They want to know how everything works and how everything is made. This means that I need to start learning the answers to all of their questions quick, and sometimes just jumping on Google doesn’t always cut it.

I have started including them in activities around our house, like gardening, and picking up magazines and books that have loads of photos and information on food, for them to pour through and understand what we eat a little better.

Recently I had the opportunity to watch a live stream on Facebook as three families took a tour of a Hellmann’s Blue Ribbon canola farm in Saskatchewan, Canada. The live event was very informative and in the end I felt relieved learning about the simple ingredients: egg, canola oil and vinegar, that go into the perfect jar of mayonnaise.

I decided to take this little lesson one step further with our kids, and create an everyday item using foods from a farm: a seed/grain heating/cooling bag. To get started, I cut out two pieces of fabric into rectangles, eyeballing what size would sit comfortably on my shoulder. I then sewed three sides together, leaving a small opening on one side.

Before filling the bag with grains and seeds, I sat down with Holden and Beau handing them each a cup. One contained oats and the other contained flax seeds. I then asked them where these grains and seeds come from. Beau proudly stated, “an egg,” and Holden thought he was correcting her by answering “heaven.” Oh boy! I had my work cut out for me.Hellmanns

As Holden and Beau each poured their cup into the bag, I explained how these were each grown on a farm and talked about the simple ingredients in many of their favourite foods.Hellmanns 2

Hellmanns 3

4

After Holden and Beau finished pouring their cups into the bag, and I finished answering many questions about farming, we sewed it up and each took turns trying out the heating pad, which worked really well! I have since enjoyed our little educational and practical DIY project more than anyone.

5

Although I still feel like I have a long way to go on educating my family and myself more about what is in our foods, I think this is a great start.

You can learn more about Hellmann’s mayonnaise and the simple ingredients that go into making a tasty jar here…

Check out more about Hellmann’s and “Where does your food come from” by visiting Hellmann’s on Facebook.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Hellmann’s. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Hellmann’s.

2015 Family Nutrition, Health and Well-being Overhaul – Weeks 1 & 2

We made it through our first couple weeks of our overhaul!  The lesson: focus on celebrating the small victories, chosing to be flexible in certain situations and when we fall short one day to get back on track the next… don’t give up!

We started our overhaul off strong and full of determination.  The T.V. stayed off, everyone got creative and fresh meals were being made. TV offWhile everyone was still home for the holidays I decided to serve lunches basically consisting of a healthy snack variety plate. It was so easy and the kids loved it so much. No elaborate cooking involved and barely any cleanup after.  Dinnertimes were also going very well. I gave the kids VERY small quantities so that I wasn’t setting them up to fail.  The rule: eat your dinner in front of you if you want a snack after dinner.  Simple.kids food

Then real life hit!  Bitterly cold winter weather arrived, I came down with a terrible head cold, we were attending a lot of birthday celebrations that included the present shopping before and typical birthday foods during.  While out shopping with the whole family one day Mike and I decided to stop for lunch at a chain restaurant.  Before entering we made a game plan already knowing their menu.  We decided to let the kids have typical “kid food” as long as they incorporated a vegetable instead of fries.  Beau chose cucumbers and chicken fingers and Holden chose a hamburger and steamed carrots.  Mike was a little nervous about finding something healthy on the menu.  Once we had been seated things started going down hill fast!  The babies were cranky, Mike couldn’t find a thing on the menu and decided to skip lunch and we were told that they had raw carrots but it would take too long to steam them… what!!???  I made the decision to give Holden raw carrots which he and Mike quickly protested to.  Mike kept giving me these looks across the table like “this is not working”.  I was enjoying a delicious salad complete with beets, peaches and grilled salmon and Beau starting digging into her cucumbers which I have never seen her eat before.  We started to make a little progress.  Holden ate his mini hamburger and then panic started to set in about trying raw carrots.  The poor kid was starting into a full blown anxiety attack.  That’s when I switched gears.

I decided to turn this into a teaching moment.  For anyone who has a child who suffers from sensory issues, you know that texture, temperature, colour and smell can all contribute to childhood anxiety.  “Okay”, I said to Holden,”Forget eating the carrots.  Please do something else for me.  Pick it up. Hold it in your hand.  What colour is it?  Is it soft or hard?  Why is is not soft?”  This began a discussion about the carrot.  Holden immediately relaxed and became very engaged in explaining that it hadn’t been cooked and it would probably crunch if he bit it.  We demystified the raw carrot.  Mike and I accepted this discussion as a win and we hope that the next time a raw carrot crosses his path he may not become so overwhelmed by it.

We tried a few new recipes this week and the biggest winner was from the Oh She Glows cookbook; Luxurious Tomato Basil Pasta.  Drool-worthy!  This easy vegan dish has cashew “cream” sauce.  I couldn’t believe how quickly this meal was gobbled up.  It was incredible and Holden has been begging me to make it every week.  This one will for sure be a future staple in our home!Luxurious pastaAlthough my energy was low due to my cold I pulled together enough energy to cook up a big pot of soup also from The Oh She Glows cookbook.  I chose the Eat Your Greens Detox Soup to help us recover from our holiday food hangover and so Mike would have something easy to bring to work with him for lunch the following week.  This nutrient packed soup was perfect to help kick my stubborn cold’s butt and as Mike put it, even the after-taste is delicious!Eat Your Greens Detox SoupEven I got a little creative in the kitchen!  Here are two lunches I made for myself that were quick, healthy and very tasty!

BBQ Chicken, Kale and Apple Sandwich: BBQ chicken breast, kale, sliced apple and whole grain dijon mustard with a dab of mayo on a thin multigrain bun.  I added a side of greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries and raspberries.

IMG_2914

Sweet and Salty Walnut Whole Wheat Pasta: Whole wheat bow tie pasta with sautéed spinach, red peppers, tomatoes and red onions mixed with olive oil, sea salt and brown sugar topped with walnut pieces.

IMG_2924I know, I even surprised myself!

I didn’t get too creative with my breakfasts yet, I stuck to my good old quick, healthy and simple staple this week: soft boiled egg, quinoa bread with almond butter, water and coffee (nope not giving up my coffee).  I did however trade out my skim milk for unsweetened almond milk in my coffee.breakfastAnother note-worthy meal was fajitas.  To make a healthier version we used whole wheat wraps, swapped out sour cream for avocados and sautéed portobello mushrooms along with many other delicious veggies.  This meal was a great option for Holden and Beau to be able to pick and choose what they want and try new vegetables.  Fajitas will for sure be added to our weekly rotation and in a couple of weeks Mia and Everly will be able to enjoy it along with us when we start Baby Lead Weaning.fajitasThen there was the exercise… there was a lot of discussion about working out, planning on it, staring at our home gym but we didn’t finally start until the end of these two weeks.  This will be priority starting next week!  I also had to start getting creative with the kid’s exercise since we were in a deep freeze.  I had been wracking my brain and didn’t feel well enough to drag everyone out to an indoor playground (the way Canadian parents survive winter).  Then it hit me!  I grabbed some sidewalk chalk from our garage and raced to our unfinished basement.  May I present to you “people town” as my kids call it.  Complete with a hardware store and market.

people townHere are some take-away tips: 

Take the time to cook some quinoa and barbecue chicken breasts at the beginning of the week and have them ready in the fridge for wraps, sandwiches etc…  Yes, we are those neighbours that dig a path in the snow to our BBQ!

Make your food pretty.  Because I knew I was going to be photographing my food I took the time to create a nice looking meal.  I even took quick on-the-go snacks out of the wrapper and sat and enjoyed them.  I found myself slowing down and eating when I did this resulting in being more satisfied after.  My new favourite healthy on the go snack: the Kashi granola bars with chia seeds.  Mmmmm…IMG_2901

Our goals for next week:

Master some new recipes including breakfast recipes.

Find some healthy boxed and frozen options I can buy at the grocery store since santa didn’t seem to get my request for a black hole of extra time each day!

EXERCISE!!! I don’t know how, I don’t know when but this needs to happen!

Don’t forget to subscribe, follow and like Nesting Story!!!