Life transformation

Fitness and health, On becoming vegan, Strokes and Diabetes

This post is dedicated to lifelong journeys of finding balance.

Pictured above (top from left to right: me in September 2010; May 2018; August 2018 and September 2018).

OMG!

It’s a bit embarrassing to post these photos of me – but I am trying to make a point here! The point is that we all have control over our bodies and can change our lives just by making some lifestyle/eating changes.

Lifelong battle…

…with my weight since I was a young kid – probably by about grade 5 (I determined this based on looking at my old school photos). I was made fun of by relatives and people at school. People thought I enjoyed being squeezed on the cheeks – like chubby is cute? My own aunts would say that I am “soooo fat!” (of course the same aunts that normally say nothing to me); a cousin that I never met before until we visited China called me “fay fay” (fatso) when I was 11 years old. So traumatic!

First major change

When I was about 19 years old, I joined a weight-training course in CEGEP (basically college in Montreal between high school and university). I enjoyed the class a lot and felt good. My teacher at the time (a 70 year old former weight trainer) pulled me aside and told me that I was a nice looking person, but there was no room for ‘fat’ people in this world. I felt so ashamed after that incident, that I signed myself up for another session the following semester. I managed to lose a lot of weight at that time. University life found me “thinner”, but I still felt like I was overweight. Body image is so skewed…because that was my ‘normal’ weight back then (but I still felt ‘fat’).

Pregnancy and life

After I got married at age 25, I became pregnant and gained a bunch of weight. By the time my second was born a couple of years after, I gained even more weight. When my daughter was about 8, she asked me why I was so ‘big’. I had no explanation.

I joined martial arts with my daughter and successfully lost 10 lbs in about 3 months.

Then I was pregnant with my third. I was pretty heavy at the time, so by the time I reached full term, I had only gained 10 lbs. When my son was born, I actually lost about 15 lbs – feeling like my body almost returned to my ‘normal’.

June 2017

Then more life happened. By June 2017, my weight had ballooned to the point of no return. I could feel that my skeleton could no longer bear the excess weight. When I went to Montreal to visit my grandma and met up with my sister’s friends for dinner, I was wearing a skirt and I felt incredibly uncomfortable -like I couldn’t sit anymore, and my legs were kinda tingly. When I returned home, I tried to play with my babe on the floor and could barely kneel down (due to discomfort). That’s when the gears in my brain started to churn. I needed to do something and QUICK!

September 2017

In September, I was about to take a 360 turn in my life. It just happened that my brother-in-law was talking about his own diet (Paleo) over a birthday dinner. The next day, I decided to cut the carbs and focus on eating meat and veggies (breakfast, lunch and dinner). After a couple of days, I swore my stomach was flatter! After I lost my first 10 lbs, the usual ‘plateau’ where weight does not come off as quickly. I then tried the Bulletproof coffee recipe for my breakfast. Basically, it was black coffee plus a tablespoon of grassfed butter plus two tablespoons of MCT (medium chained triglycerides) oil (pure coconut oil). After taking that for a couple of weeks, I lost about 5 lbs more.

then…25 lbs lighter

By May 2019, I had lost about 25 lbs. I still wanted to go for another 10 lbs to get closer to my “ideal” weight (and cut body fat), but I knew I needed some help. I saw the 42-day challenge at Anytime Fitness gym (Richmond Hill location) on Facebook and requested to join. I got a text shortly after and scheduled an appointment for a consult. The following Monday, I started my program.

then…7 lbs lighter

At the end of my 6 week challenge, I lost 7 lbs plus about 2% body fat. I just cannot believe that I am almost there…

MERCI! MERCI!

A great big thank you to Maz, Liam, Dan (who is no longer at the gym), Taylor and Leah at Anytime Fitness Richmond Hill, for pushing me to work my hardest and be my best self. The best part of the challenge was being held accountable for my goals. I had the gym staff to help keep me motivated and on track – plus the weekly weigh-ins were a bit of pressure.

What I have lost and gained during my 42 days

Lost:

7 lbs
about 2% body fat
My grandma (she passed away the day after Mother’s Day)

Gained:

Muscle
Confidence
New friends
A new tattoo (in memory of my grandma)
A huge inventory of new exercises that I can do at home on my own

This past year and a half

I have dropped 3 pant sizes (crazy eh?). I know how people love to see photos of before and after, so I will be bold and show them here. Pictured on the bottom left: 2 pant sizes, centre: 1 pant size and right: now. I didn’t even take a photo of 3 pant sizes because they ran out of that size!

Exercise

It is not just about diet – exercise is critical to weight loss and sustainability of ones’ weight and health (both physical and mental). That being said, diet is a HUGE part of it! You cannot pig out on junk food and expect to lose any weight. Our “body is our temple” and we need to fuel it up with healthy food.

Veganism

I have also been vegan for over six months’ now. Being vegan is not just for the environment and the animals, but makes one more conscious of what you feed your body.

Lucky duck

I was really lucky that even at my maximum weight, I did not experience any health conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. For that, I am truly thankful. Both of my parents had strokes (my mom in her fifties and my dad in his mid-sixties); and my mother has diabetes and high cholesterol, so I am probably more susceptible to these conditions. Gotta stay healthy for me and my family.

Here’s me yesterday, after my home workout. Not the greatest pic, but whatever – I don’t give a damn!

In this thing called life, you have the power to change. No one can force you to change, so you have to change for yourself. No one can want it more than you.

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One bed or two? One blanket or two?

Fitness and health, Life

This post is dedicated to the guy who needs to take control of his quality of sleep. No excuses!

MOST IMPORTANT: QUALITY ZZZs

Did you know that quality sleep is REALLY important for your overall health? If you feel sluggish all the time and complain of tiredness or inability to focus, you may want to take a look at your sleep patterns. I read somewhere that the body does its main ‘healing’ while you sleep, between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. So, if you are awake between those hours – guess what? Yeah, your body is not given time to heal itself. I have a friend that sleeps at about 3 a.m. every night and gets up around 7:30 a.m. every day. Of course, she complains of tiredness every day. I wonder why?

According to Statistics Canada, “Insufficient sleep (short duration and poor quality) is associated with a range of adverse health outcomes, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, injuries, all-cause mortality, depression, irritability, and reduced well-being. ” and “For adults aged 18 to 64 and seniors aged 65 or older, 7 to 9 hours and 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, respectively, are recommended.”

So, any time a couple complains about poor sleep, I ask:

1) do you sleep on the same bed?

2) do you cover the same blanket?

To date, I have had the same conversation with seven different ‘couples’ who complained of poor sleep and tiredness.

Guess what they all said: Yes, we sleep together and yes, we share the same blanket.

Come on guys! Break the social norms/ habits! It’s for you and your health (mental and physical).

Well, it may sound crazy – but I confess that I haven’t slept in the same bed as my hubby for the last 17 -18 years! It started this way while I was pregnant and had trouble to sleep; then after our first child was born, I started to sleep with the baby; then followed the second child about two years later – I started to sleep with her and our son slept with my hubby. The years in between are cloudy, but we realized that sleeping separately was better for us. Then ten years later, number three came along and I started to sleep with him. BTW – all three of my kids were crappy sleepers, so basically I didn’t sleep well for these past 17-18 years. I TOTALLY believe that you have to do whatever it takes to catch some quality ZZZs.

My hubby has sleep apnea, so does not sleep well. He often gets up multiple times a night and likes to turn on the lights and make instant noodles in the kitchen (think noise!). In addition, he has a ‘cold’ body, so needs two big blankets to sleep. Myself, I developed into a light sleeper over the years and have a ‘hot’ body, so just one blanket would suffice.

My parents had the same problem – same bed, same blanket. Finally, I convinced them to at least have two blankets – rather than always fighting for the blanket. They are loving it and get better sleep. To them, I am a genius!

Needless to say, it totally makes sense to sleep separately. It has absolutely nothing to do with separation from a relationship -so I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. The most recent person we talked to said that he understood why some ‘old people’ slept separately. That was such a funny comment, because you don’t have to be old to be practical and conscious of your need for sleep. [In my opinion -sleeping in one bed and sharing one blanket is way over-rated!] He said he had no trouble to fall asleep but woke frequently throughout the night and could not fall back asleep. I reminded him that his spouse might actually be knocking him without him knowing and thus wake him. Perhaps taking a video would be interesting…

Finally, so many studies have been done, linking better quality sleep with a completely dark room. If you have dinky blinds that let in light – just hang a set of black-out curtains in front of them. Something so simple can change the way you sleep. Get on it!

And if you do wake, try not to turn on the lights – or your body’s circadian rhythm will be interrupted.

In this thing called life – let’s all be practical and get some good quality sleep. Don’t feel that you are abandoning your spouse. Your body and brain will thank you and make you a happier person for your spouse. On that note, I ended this post by going to sleep. I love my sleep! But sadly had trouble to fall asleep. Could be because of the smell of the noodles and loud talking downstairs at 1:30 a.m.

I would love to hear from you: One bed or two? One blanket or two?