Defining Progress

What is progress? It really depends on how you choose to define it. I haven’t been blogging daily about my Whole30 adventure the way I had originally set out to. I wanted to create a journal, and hopefully have it provide guidance and information to others doing Whole30 in the future. Things have changed. The first few days of my Whole30 I spent constantly searching for other people’s accounts of the program. How did they feel? What happens on Day 6? Am I going to lose these last 10 pounds? It only took me a few days to realize that it really doesn’t matter. The details of what happens to me during these 30 days dont matter to you. And shouldn’t matter to you. What should matter to you are your next 30 days, and what matters to me (now) are mine. There are a few things that matter, though: I feel good. I feel happy, I feel confident, I feel in control and so can you.

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Roasted veggies (beets, zucchini, onion, and sweet potato) and salmon..

I have failed on many ‘diet’ plans. Actually, I usually last less time than the average person. If I make it a full week with no slips, ‘cheats’, or ‘off-plan’ choices, I feel accomplished and celebrate with some ice cream (litearlly). That’s the way I am. It’s the way I’ve always been. It’s not that I don’t want to commit, and I don’t want to be healthy; it’s just that it’s exhausting. There is too much guess work for me. Too many choices, too many decisions.. You set out on the latest diet: you eat 1200 calories per day (but no fruit, because fruit has too much sugar), feel STARVING, are constantly focused on/thinking about food (maybe your body is trying to tell you something?) and are surviving off only whole-grain rice cakes and low-fat peanut butter, because you seem to get the most ‘bang for your buck’, calorie and taste wise. Then you start to question if this is even working. You haven’t lost any weight and it’s been 4 days. Your body is craving everything in sight and your brain is foggy. You’re not sure how much longer you can go on. You’re exhausted. Working out is not going to happen. Before you know it you’re head first into a Big Mac and fries (or whatever your thing is). It’s all a blurr, and you feel out of control…next thing you know you’re crying yourself to sleep because you’re such a failure. Sound familiar?

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Apple chicken sausage (so tasty..find this!) and sweet potato ‘stir fry’ with broccoli (and a salad on the side).

Today is Day 17 of my journey. I don’t feel the Tiger Blood. I don’t feel extremely energized, or super focused. But, I haven’t cried, I haven’t eaten ice cream, and I feel good. I don’t feel hungry, and I have almost mastered the art of not constantly obsessing over food. I sleep well through the night, wake up without snoozing, and at 3pm I am still in an up-right position at my desk. I am eating large, healthy, satisfying meals. I have no idea how many calories I consume..but they taste delicious, and each one of them is helping fuel my body. I have learned to distinguish between hunger and a craving. Wanting something sweet after a huge, delicious lunch is not hunger. It’s a craving, and it needs to get away from me. My pants feel looser and my stomach isn’t bloated. My digestion has improved 10-fold and my skin is clear and glowing. I haven’t given up, or even thought about it, because it’s only 30 days, I’m not starving, and I’m seeing positive changes. The expectations are reasonable,  attainable. It’s actually kind of fun…like an experiment with yourself. If this was just like any other typical diet, I wouldn’t have any of those things by this point…and they all seem pretty damn important to me.

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Delicious steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms..complete with a white potato (worth it) with broccoli and green onions!

My pre-Whole30 self is still there, but I’m slowly helping her learn to get her shit together. I still badly want to weigh myself. Every day I wake up, feel good (and skinnier, for lack of a better word), and I think “HOW MUCH WEIGHT HAVE I LOST?!” (in the interest of fulfilling every last detail and rule of the plan, I have not done this). This is something else fun that I’ve learnt, so far. I have let the scale define my progress, sense of worth, and my happiness for too long. I know that if I jumped on the scale right now and saw I hadn’t lost a pound,  I’d stop feeling good. I’d be sad, feel defeated, and want some ice cream. But in reality, why does it matter? If I’m feeling good, gaining energy, learning lots, and fueling my body for physical activity…why do I need to weigh 10 pounds less?  That’s right. I don’t. So basically, you should try this. Go to the website, take a read, and do it for yourself. Spend 30 days commited to yourself. Be selfish. Eat nuts and coconut and free-range eggs. Read labels, learn where your food comes from, and see what works for you. This is life changing.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, because I’ve heard it multiple times already: “one bite won’t hurt”, “it’s too restrictive”, “I could never give up bread”. Wrong, wrong, and very wrong (coming from the queen of bread, herself). It’s actually kind of fun to sit there, knowing you aren’t going to eat something, but just checking it out, and thinking “would that even be that good?”. Is a plain old donut from your local supermarket really worth it? Probably not. Maybe if, after 30 days, you still really want that shitty donut, you can go find a really yummy, deliciously fresh donut…and you can enjoy it without guilt because it was worth it. But trust me, that stale donut sitting on the lunch room table is not that donut. I mean, come on. For 30 days you can’t cut out crap, and just see how you feel? Maybe you’ll think it’s stupid, and maybe after 30 days you’ll go back to your old ways, but I highly doubt it..and really, that’s the worst thing that could happen.

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That’s my Whole30 take, so far. Yours will be completely different. You might lose 20 pounds, you might gain 2 (muscle, of course!). But I can guarantee you one thing, it will change your life.

New goals, fresh start.

Before the wedding, I was getting a bit obsessed with ‘getting fit’. I was working out to exhaustion, eating specifically according to my ‘plan’, and working with a ‘coach’. I say coach in quotations because, looking back, I should have listened to my husband: she had no idea. She made me cut out foods that I loved, and I listened. I’m not talking chips and cookies here, either. I’m talking organic, unsweetened coconut milk in my smoothies. But she told me it was bad, so I listened. She made me stop eating carbs at lunch, and I listened.

Guess what happened? I was cranky, upset, hungry (at times), over full (at other times)..but most of all, I wanted coconut milk, and carbs at night. BADLY.

I was so worried about the wedding. I was so, so paniced. The used-to-be fat girl inside of me kept worrying that when I got my wedding pictures back I would regret it. This was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. If I hated the way I looked in my wedding photos, I’d always regret it.

The big day came, I had my hair and my makeup done, my Mom laced me into my dress, and I put on my earings. Guess what? Not once did I think about what size I looked. Not once. For me, this was a miracle.

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I went the entire day, and I felt like a princess. I was so happy, and so surrounded by people I loved. It was magical. And I didn’t think about my size. Not once.

On our honeymoon, I walked around in my little bitty bikini…and I rocked it (at least I think I did). I ate way too much food, and I had absolutely anything and everything I wanted for two whole weeks. I didn’t worry about a carb, a fat, and a protein with every meal. I didn’t have 6 meals a day or stop eating carbs at lunch, I just ate. I just lived.

After 14 days of this craziness, we flew back home. I mustered up the courage to climb aboard the scale to judge the damages. Pulling the blue glass scale out from beside the bathroom sink, all those feelings came back. I hadn’t even weighed myself yet and I was thinking “you shouldn’t have eaten all that”. Guess what? I lost 4 pounds during our trip.

I joked with J that the ‘burger’ diet was good for me, and he smiled. He loves seeing me confident in myself, I can tell. “I told you,” he said “you just have to eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full. I know you’ll never let yourself go overboard”. I love him.

So that, my friends, is my new plan. Since we only really buy organic fruits and veggies, grass-fed meats, and whole grains, I should be good to go. Noted that this ‘plan’ probably wouldn’t work for someone who’s taste buds are in a loving relationship with oreos and lucky charms, but I think I’ve got this in the bag.

I am going to up the workouts now that we’re back, and I’m going to eat like a normal, healthy person. Lots of fruits, lots of veggies, and carbs whenever I damn well feel. If I want ice cream, or frozen yogurt, I’m going to eat it..just not for five consecutive days. I am excited to see what happens next. I want abs, and we all know those are made in the kitchen. Come on kitchen, get cooking! 😉

I feel happy…and I feel healthy. I could get used to this wife stuff.

The secret of marriage..

Is there a secret?

I’m starting to think there are hundreds.

I’ll admit, I have only been married 34 days..and this is nothing in the grand scheme of life. While this may be true, boy am I devoting a lot of time to figuring it out. I’m sure we will spend the next 50+ years finding the true ‘secret’, and while I hope we love every minute of it, reality is that we probably will not.

We have already had a few arguements as a married couple. Whoever said “honeymoon stage” is a beautiful walk in the park with nothing but roses and butterflies was wrong (at least in our case). However, on the bright side, we both seem to have more patience, understanding, and interest in making arguments beneficial and productive. We have both discussed how this is due to many factors, one of which being my new found ability to just walk away and take a break.

Before we got married, we attended a marriage preparation course (highly recommended). While it was difficult to find said course without a religious affiliation, it was worth the hunt. One of the main things I took away from this was: it’s okay to take time apart in the middle of an arguement. When they told us this in class, I automatically tuned my brain into the “this is stupid” mode, and prepared to stop listening for the rest of the day ( I may be slightly synical..and bitter..). However, this was followed by them saying “as long as you let eachother know before the break starts”. I started listening again. “If you are in the middle of an argument, and you need a break, tell your spouse you need time to cool off and give them a time period as to when you will continue the arguement.” For all you men, J hates this approach, but it works so well for me that I think he is starting to see the benefit. The ‘rescheduling’ can be anywhere from 5 minutes to the next day. It seems so silly, but when he says to me “I’m going out to work on my truck. We can talk about this in an hour.” I don’t feel abandoned. I don’t feel like he is running away, I feel (probably how a man feels) like we are just taking a simple break. Woohoo! That little trick has got to make the list.

Trick 2: A few months ago (prior to being married), J and I had had an argument the night before. I honestly don’t even remember what it was about now, but at the time it was a sadness inducing, day-ruining, all out cry-fest (it’s funny how that works, isn’t it?). I was sitting in my office, feeling sorry for myself and dwelling on the situation when a male co-worker (he’s happily married and seems to know lots of said ‘secrets’) came into my office. We have a good relationship and so I explained the situation to him (leaving out all the crazy woman details of how my heart was never going to recover and how I just wanted to eat a tub of vanilla bean ice cream), and he paused for a second. I was waiting for him to come back at me with some kind of silly comment about how I needed to calm down, give him space, or stop nagging… but instead, he walked over to the white board in my office and wrote “CALM COMMUNICATION”, all in capital letters. “It’s so simple,” he explained “as soon as my wife comes at me with a complaint and she’s mad or upset or crying, I automatically don’t want to listen.”  Jerk, I thought (cynical, bitter me emerged once again).  He then continued “if you approach him calmly, he’ll be more likely to want to listen. Don’t yell, or cry, or sound ‘bitchy’, just relax, and explain.”. Guess what? It works. It works so freaking well that it HAS to be a secret. But not anymore, you’re welcome 😉

And that is why it has remained on my white board for the past 6+ months….

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And, because it’s Friday and these little guys are going to be adopted really, really soon ( 😥 ), here’s a daily dose of cuteness:

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Throwback Thursday, and the evolution of the crazy dog lady.

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Throwback Thursday to my two favorite boys ❤

I never had dogs growing up. I had a cat: Tang. I remember one day in Grade 10 my friend’s cat had babies and I brought one home once they were ready. My Mom was..not impressed, but she let me keep him. He was a sickly little dude, and we spent a lot of money getting him all spruced up, but he’s now the best cat ever. I still love to snuggle him everytime we visit home.

When we moved to Alberta we rented the cutest little basement suite. We had our own little yard and patio, and it had the most wonderful pond. I was in heaven. Our landlord (the sweetest elderly gentleman who had just lost his wife) explained to us that there were no pets allowed in the suite as he was afraid of dogs, and cats were ‘dirty’. As time went by, we became pretty close with Roger. He would give us birthday gifts, christmas gifts, and I would bake him cookies. 🙂 He was great.

Once we started looking at buying our own place, we simultaneously started going to the animal shelter to “look” at dogs. Yeah, right. When we met Rein, she was a big giant pit bull, and, having little experience with dogs, I was a bit nervous. I remember asking Jamie “how do you know if a dog is going to bite your face off?”. He laughed at me. He had been around dogs his entire life–Rein was amazing, and he knew it. We met her, cuddled her, and I got a bit more comfortable, but I still had the notion in the back of my mind that if I made any sudden movements, she was going to rip me apart…Looking back, we probably shouldn’t have been visiting the shelter when we couldn’t even have an animal–it was emotional every time we left. We went home, and for the next few weeks I researched dogs and pit bulls, and rescues, and behaviour. I looked into dog classes, and dog psychology, and I read Cesear Milan books..I wanted a dog.

Two weeks later, we went back to the shelter, and there she was. Still in the same kennel, Rein sat further back from the glass viewing window then before, and she barely looked up at us. She looked defeated. My poor girl… we asked to visit with her again and the staff showed us her tricks. She could sit, stay, roll over, shake a paw, and she LOVED fetch. The way she interacted with the lady was amazing–that was her person. Everyone at the shelter loved her. I cried the entire way home that we couldn’t get her. Jamie said it was for the best though, she was ‘way too big…and scary looking’, and told me we weren’t going to go anymore until we had our own place.

That night I went to Roger’s front door, knocked, and watched him walk slowly down the stairs through the tiny front window. My heart was beating fast. I told him that I knew we weren’t allowed dogs, but I found one that was very special. And we could do a larger damage deposit, and it wouldn’t be long (he knew we were looking for a house to buy). There I was, standing on the front porch of a man who was terrified of dogs, asking him if I could bring a 75 pound rescue pit bull into his safe, beautiful little home.

“Oh, Ashley. Of course you can have a dog.”

I felt so guilty. I knew he wouldn’t say no…but I also knew I wouldn’t screw this up.

“What kind of dog is it, anyways?”

My heart sank. Oh no..here we go. I told him it was a pit bull…and guess what he said?

“Oh, I don’t know that kind.”

We went to the shelter the next day and adopted her. It ended up costing us $575 dollars as she needed a special class as an adoption condition (she was a pit bull, afterall). I didn’t care. We paid the money and were told we could pick her up in two days, as she needed to be spayed.

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Sleepy girl on her way home–see her bandaid?

When we went to pick her up, she had just finished surgery and she was so sleepy. I sat in the back seat with her and I was so happy. She made herself right at home, walked over to her bed we had for her, and layed right down. I spent the entire first night laying on her bed with her, rubbing her head softly (I still had no idea about dogs).

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Carpet is so much better than concrete, Mom!

The first few days of leaving her at home I was pretty sure we’d come home to a ripped apart front door, or a chewed up couch, but we never did. She has still never chewed a thing. She’s had a few accidents inside, but man does she feel bad (you can tell by the look in her eyes..and she cowers when you see it). She’s so well behaved, and so smart (we taught her to crawl, and high-10). I’m so glad Roger made an exception for us.

Fast forward to 6 months into home ownership…guess who came home with puppy #2? This girl!! Benjamin Button (Ben, for when we are in public) was just a tiny, tiny little baby (see first picture). Our family is complete, for now, until we are ready for babies (or another puppy..).

 

Library Loving.

I’m addicted to books….

But there’s a bit of a loop hole. My Grandma is addicted to books, and I remember her saying on some occasions “this book is no good.. I can’t wait to be finished with it.” Well, I can tell you, I would never get to that point. Call me a quitter if you will..it’s probably justified, but I can usually tell after about 15 minutes if I’m going to finish the book..I’m very selective. Just ask the stack of “attempted” books on my bedside table.

For this reason, I rarely buy books new, I am more of a garage-sale/library/raiding my Mom’s bookshelves kinda girl.  This approach usually prevents me from getting my hands on any of the “top 40” of the book world, but I figure if they’re that good, I’ll come across them in a few years at a yard sale.

Last night I headed out to the library while Jamie had his boy time (his best friend/ best man is staying with us right now–bro-mance!). I only had 45 minutes before the library closed, so I stumbled around, looking through the non-fiction categories (I don’t do well with fiction..I’ve maybe read 5-6 fiction books in my lifetime). I stocked up! I walked away with 5 books about marriage, love, and/or sex (all the current themes running my life right now).IMG_20140730_105120

Then I drove to my little spot, parked the truck, opened the windows, hung my bare feet out and layed back in the comfy seat. The first one I opened, I read the first page, and before I knew it I had been sitting there for three hours and was on page 76. Whoa. Nice work, Dr. Ruth…I brought the books to work today (shhh) so I can get all my reading, with pay!

I’m going to be a marriage professional before you even know it… What are your favorite books?