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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Freshii 3-day juice cleanse review

Fitness and health

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Background

It’s dark outside in the morning and almost wintertime again.  I have been feeling a bit ‘ho-hum’ (a bit low energy and unmotivated).  Nevermind, the lingering thoughts of the last stubborn 10 pounds that I want to lose.  I reflect on the past year and a half, and I know that I have come a long way.  BTW – my initial goal about a year and a half ago, was to lose 25-30 pounds.

In June of 2017, I hit rock bottom with my weight.  I realized this when I was sitting down for dinner with my sister and her friends.  I was literally uncomfortable sitting and my legs and arms were getting numb and tingly; and I could not sit comfortably for floor-time with my three-year old.  I knew that my body could not support any more weight.  I was never heavier my whole life.  It was time for a change.

In September, 2017, my brother-in-law starting talking about the paleo diet that he was on.  My mind was made up to give it a go.  After just two days of eating eggs/protein for breakfast or any other food other than carbs (pasta, rice), my stomach was much flatter and I felt like a new person.  In a few months I lost about 10 pounds.

Of course, as you are losing weight, there seems to be a ‘plateau’ – where nothing you do reduces your weight more.  Then, my relative mentioned the Bulletproof Coffee (www.bulletproof.com). Bulletproof coffee is made with brewed coffee (you can use your own coffee beans if you don’t want to buy the Bulletproof brand name coffee), high concentration MCT pure coconut oil, and grass-fed butter). I tried this with reluctance at first, but the coffee actually tasted good.  I drank 3/4 cup every morning instead of eating solids.  In a couple of weeks, I lost about 5 pounds.  I still drink this concoction, because I find the extra healthy oil/fat helps with my dry eyes and helps to curb cravings.

Fast forward a year and a half, I have lost about 20 pounds and managed to keep it off.  I have no major health issues, but working on prevention of diseases related to poor diet.

In September, 2018, I cut out my meat intake.  I now eat a vegetarian diet, eggs and seafood.  I will write about this is a later blog, because I am so excited about a plant-based cookbook that I am collaborating on with my daughter.

Health is no. 1!

Losing weight for health reasons and eating healthier are my number one goals.  After my father had a stroke five years ago and finding out my mother has Type 2 diabetes (suffering loss of vision) and high cholesterol, I think about my health every day.  Good sleep, balanced diet and daily exercise are something to strive for.

Why try a 3-day cleanse?

Sometimes the mind and body just need to be ‘reset’. Our bodies work so hard to eliminate toxins and other junk, but we make them work so hard. I have checked out other companies offering juice cleanses, but they did not seem as practical because you have to pick up your juices daily, and you do not get a lovely salad for dinner. I made up my mind to try Freshii’s 3-day cleanse. Check out:  www.freshii.com

I just completed my 3rd day yesterday.

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Pictured above: lovely dinner salad

What do you need for your cleanse?

You get a total of 12 bottles of juice (4 for each day) and three large salads (one for each day) for dinner.

What is the cost?

The 3-day cleanse cost me $85+HST.

It thought it would be a pain to go to Freshii each day to get the supplies for the cleanse, but they have mastered the cold-pressing technique to allow juices to stay fresh in a bottle for a couple of months. This makes sticking to a cleanse easy.  I collected all of my items and went home. FYI – Freshii offers a 5-day cleanse as well, but I definitely do not have the willpower to do that.

What is the plan?

Basically:

1) first thing when you wake up in the morning, you drink one cup of warm lemon water;
2) drink “Green Genius” which contains green apple, spinach, kale, celery, lemon and ginger, maybe 15-20 minutes after the lemon water;
3) for your morning snack (say around 10am), drink the “Reset” which contains apple juice, pineapple, cucumber and mint;
4) for your lunch (say around 12pm), drink “Renew” which contains carrot, orange juice, lemon and turmeric;
5) for your midday snack (say around 3pm), drink “Recharge” which contains carrot, apple, beet, lemon and ginger;
6) then enjoy a huge delish salad for your dinner.  There is even salad dressing!
7) Freshii’s FAQs says if you are really hungry still, you can eat some raw veggies/fruit.
8) it is important to drink a lot of water throughout the day (Freshii recommends 8-10 cups of water each day).
9) don’t overdo it on the exercise. Mild to moderate exercise is recommended as you have cut your calories down a lot.  You may experience dizziness if you overexert yourself.
10) try to be somewhere close to the washroom during your 3-day cleanse.  You won’t regret this advice…

VERY IMPORTANT:  before starting any juice cleanses you should consult your doctor.  You should also read Freshii’s FAQs in their brochure about juice cleansing.

The taste?

Actually, for someone that doesn’t like smoothies, thick juices or vegetable juice, the taste of the juices was surprisingly nice.  But, because of the amount of liquid going into my body, I actually found that I felt like vomiting on the second day.  I also lost my appetite just thinking that I had to drink another juice, and was unable to drink the midday drink at all.  Drinking thick juice reminds me of being in a hospital.

Day 1

Excited, but a bit worried about the duration of the cleanse.  I love food so much, that eating often consumes my thoughts.  I started Day 1 on a Sunday. By the time I had my third juice, I was starving and looking for something to eat.  I later found out that I missed one juice –  No wonder!  I think the whole cleansing process is about re-focusing the mind and severing ones’ emotional tie to food.  All I could think about was going to bed, so that I didn’t need to think about food.  But I was doing this for me…

Day 2

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This was me on Day 2 at work. I took this shot for my daughter. She told me to hang in there! Thank goodness for her.  I wasn’t hungry at all on this day, because so much liquid made me feel like vomiting.  By the time I drank one juice (it takes me a long time to finish one), it was time to drink another.  So by the time it was time for the fourth drink, I couldn’t drink it.  I had no appetite at all. I did look forward to my salad though.  This is mentally the worst day.  Seeing everyone eat delish food and cooking meals for my family was definitely tough.  Also, at the end of the day, my stomach was kinda queezy. I ended the day with diarrhea (sorry, I had to write this!).

Day 3

Finally – last day.  Again, I could only get through the first 3 juices and did not feel hungry. I very much enjoyed my last salad.

At the end of the day – I am proud to say, I fended off a great temptation to grab a bunch of Harvey’s onion rings sitting next to me.  That was the true test of mental strength and willpower for me.

Was it worth it?

Definitely.  I feel more energetic and mentally refreshed.  And on a bonus, I lost 3.5 lbs. Could be just water though?  For me it was really mind over matter.

Cheers to empty bottles and your health!

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