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It’s been a little while since my last post, and I wanted to explain that this post I’m about to share with you right now, is a very personal one. But it has been part of my recent personal reflection and I think that while it may be a common story in many ways, I hope that it will bring someone some inspiration somewhere, and also clear up any potential confusion this blog may be causing.

Let me explain.

It occurred to me that some of you might see our eating habits and be thoroughly confused. Our food extremes have been frequently documented on this little blog…from the 28 Day Challenge to more gluttonous meals.

So, as I already mentioned, it prompted me to reflect about how we got here – finding a balance between pure indulgence and eating what is good for our bodies – and also how I got to where I am today (physically, and emotionally).

To tell you this story I think it’s best to start from the beginning – when Vince was in the Chef’s Training Program at George Brown College, 7 years ago.

We had just moved in together. I was going through a very challenging and difficult time in my life and Vince was my constant – always supportive and loving (as he is today). We were both excited and terrified at the same time…living together was the biggest step we had ever taken as a couple. We had been dating 5 years and we weren’t sure if we were ready.

A month after we moved in, I slipped in the bathtub and cracked two of my ribs. It felt like the world was working against me somehow. And while Vince tried his best to continue to show me love and support, guess what brought me immediate gratification during this time? You got it..food.

In chef’s school you learn the classical method of cooking…i.e. French…i.e. lots of butter. Vince used to bring home whatever he learned to make that day – chicken supreme, beef stew, pies, tarts, bread…all delicious and all loaded with tons of fat and calories. It didn’t take long for me to gain weight.

{Me in 2007}

In the time that Vince and I had started dating to the time that we moved in together, and the few years that followed, I must have gained at least 35-40lbs. It’s shocking to me that it was actually that much, but it’s true. Granted, the weight that I was at when we first started dating wasn’t realistic to maintain either.

All of this weight was made possible not only through the food I was eating, but emotional stress, and more importantly, living a relatively sedentary lifestyle. At no point, was I ever exercising to the point of breaking a sweat. A part of this also stems from my numerous failed attempts at a gym membership – attempts that were made for the sake of others rather than for myself.

That’s when it hit me.

I needed to start doing things for my body, not because I wanted to lose weight, or make other people happy, but because I wanted to be healthy, and feel better about myself. I wanted self-care to be my motivation, not the scale, or how I looked to other people. And I certainly didn’t want to end up obese, or living with diabetes which runs in my family, or heart disease.

I decided to join a gym again, and this time my goal was to get my heart rate up. I could be at the gym for only an hour as long as during that time my heart rate was high and I was breaking a sweat. I wanted to feel strong, too so I started lifting some weights. My motivation for working out changed, and therefore my mentality about the gym changed. I fell in love with spinning and the adrenaline rush it brought me. In my first class, I remember a pregnant women kicking my butt while I was struggling to stay on the bike untill the end of class. Somehow I made it, and at my high point a couple of years later, I was able to spin as fast as the instructor.

{Me…just a year later!}

Then I figured, why am I working out so hard and not fueling my body with things that it needs? Why am I wasting my workout on a meal that makes my hard work and effort go to waste? Let’s be honest, I love food (no big secret here) but I wanted to find a compromise…not a diet. Slowly I found myself eating more vegetables with my dinner, and asking Vince if we could switch to brown rice instead of white. I switched permanently to whole grain bread and forever made the switch to all natural peanut butter. I made it my mission to drink more water and be mindful of (not control) my portion sizes which to this day I’m still trying to be more mindful of.

This path led me down to losing 25 lbs in about a year to a year and a half. It was a dramatic change for me…I even lost weight in my feet! I had more energy, a more positive outlook on life, I felt lighter, stronger, and I had to accept the fact that I needed to buy new clothes. Vince was so proud of me…he said I had shrunk before his eyes.

{Me in 2009…excuse the “Facebook” profile pic style ;) }

Last fall, I finally worked up the courage to join the Running Room with my bestie and I ran my first 5k in December. I’m by no means a fast runner, but I can pace myself fairly well and now I can run on my own for 5k at a time using the Running Room model – 10 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. It feels phenomenal to call myself “a runner.”  I hope to run a 10k this year and maybe a half marathon next year!

This year I challenged myself to start doing hot yoga for the first time, and it turned out to be an incredible thing for my body. I love it. I’m hoping to try spinning and yoga back to back very soon!

Writing this story wouldn’t be complete without telling you about Vince. He is a typical guy – he can gain weight quickly but then he can lose it twice as fast by, for instance, cutting soft drinks out of his diet. I think that the biggest achievement for us as a couple is that he is more willing to try healthier foods – quinoa, kale, brown rice, grilled chicken, vegetables, fruits. Ever since I met him, he’s always had two loves for working out – the gym (especially lifting weights), and softball. As you know, during the 28 Day Challenge we were both at our healthiest and Vince lost 18 lbs…in a month! He knows what he needs to do for his body when he starts to gain weight, and when he does it (i.e. eats right and works out), he drops the weight twice as fast as he gained it. The one thing that we both struggle with is portion control (more him than me as I’m a painfully slow eater and eventually I get tired of chewing…literally!). You’ve seen him indulge in a substantially huge meal and eat it all in one sitting. We both have problems with portion control and we continue to work on that.

{Us in 2007}

{Us on our honeymoon in the Mayan Riviera in October 2010}

See the difference?! That last pic is a bit unfair since we were obviously glowing from being newlyweds and in our last days of our amazing honeymoon!

I hope that this story shed some light on who we are, as human beings…who love food but also recognize that in life there needs to be some balance in order to be strong and healthy. This is something we constantly have to be mindful of in order to not fall back on bad habits.  Although we might feel guilty sometimes for overindulging, or not getting to work out, the mindfulness we feel around caring for our bodies and each other, which for me was the big lifestyle switch that I made when I lost the weight in the first place, eventually brings us back on track and makes self care the motivation, not feeling guilty.

I think I needed to write this post, not only for anyone who might find a bit of themselves here, or who might find some inspiration, but also for myself because at the moment I’m in a bit of a workout slump and I think I needed this to feel motivated again by going back to the reason I lost so much weight in the first place, (which, by the way, I’ve been able to maintain) – a constant effort at practicing self-care.

Thanks for reading :)

With love,

Tammy

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