Sunday, November 24, 2013

Taking Control

For longer than I care to imagine I have lived with and suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or for those lucky enough to not be in the know, IBS for short.  And it's a pain in the patootie (quite literally some days but more so a pain in the guts).  I think by now the stigma has been lifted off this chronic illness and most people know what it is it.  But in the event that you just aren't too sure, it's a problem that causes chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and an alteration of bowel habits, meaning diarrhea and constipation are in a constant battle with each other.  Ya, it's super fun!

I know I probably could have eased some of my symptoms if I chose carefully what I consume, drank more water, ingested pro-biotics, but I'm pretty stubborn and I refused to change my eating and nutrition habits.  Frankly I just didn't really think those subtle changes would improve it even if I bothered.  Besides I love eating and I hate water and I loathe taking pills.  Not the effects of the pill so much as the actual act of swallowing the pill.  Ya ya, I know I'm lame.

However, about 9 months ago I was introduced to a chiropractor (I was so sceptical of those guys) and I learned that proper alignment in the lower spine can actually help with IBS.  So I thought, "Ah what the hell, I have benefits through work that cover chiropractor visits.  What do I have to lose?"  And I've been seeing Marco and Adam at Healthy Beginnings ever since.   I didn't see complete relief from my symptoms but after time (about 4 months) I definitely did see a decrease in the number of flare ups I'd have.

I also decided about 8 weeks ago to start a 'learning to run' program.  I've been doing the 0 to 5K app that I installed on my iPhone (gosh these things really are handy dandy) and I haven't flaked out yet.  That's HUGE props for this girl.  That alone earns bragging rights because for those of you that know me, you are well aware that I gain interest in things very quickly but I have also been known to lose interest in those things just as quickly.  So yeah me!

So this program starts a newbie runner off with intermittent walking and running and slowly increases the length of running versus the length of walking.  I'm making my way through the program at a slower pace than they have it set up for, but I don't want to get in over my head and then just walk (maybe even run) quickly away from the hard work I've put in thus far.  I've been forcing myself not to cheat, not even for 5 seconds (and sometimes those 5 seconds can feel like an eternity).  I'm about half way through the program, which means I can run 2.5K.  Like whoa!

Around the time I started this program I started taking a daily multi-vitamin, 2000 mg of fish oils a day and drinking 3-4 yoghurt and fruit (home-made) smoothies a week.  I also started being more consciously aware of how much water I should be putting into my body and I'm making a successful effort to drink at least 6 - 8 oz glasses a day.  I've also gotten away from my terrible habit of eating only one meal a day; dinner.  Now I eat something for breakfast and I snack on something every couple of hours throughout the day and eat a larger meal at dinner.  I can honestly say I no longer have headaches or feel like I want to eat my children when I get home each day.

And because running for 'no real reason' (except to say I'm a jogger and hopefully my legs will be smoother) isn't crazy enough I also decided to sign up for Boot Camp work out classes twice a week with a co-worker.  I'm into my 3rd week now of these classes and while I dread them, I secretly enjoy them.  Josh at Go Fitness Niagara  who runs the program changes it up enough for each class that they are never the same, but the results are the same two days later;  aches and pains!  My muscles are screaming at me lately.  But I figure if they are screaming then I definitely worked them!  I'll admit, it's getting harder and harder to go out and run when my body is killing me after these work outs.  But a few minutes in and the muscles get warmed up and things get a teeny bit easier.

I've also just recently started another program/app that I found for my phone that helps me keep track of the number of calories I ingest each day.  In order to get myself to the weight I want, I have to maintain between 1500-1600 calories a day and this program figures it all out for me when I enter my food intake.  I was out for dinner with friends the other night and while I was explaining My Fitness Pal to Kori, and in the process mentioned wanting to lose 20 lbs, she immediately responded with, "That's too much!".  I thought about it last night and then researched the ideal weight for a woman of my height this morning (because I realized I agreed with her) and discovered that I should only be losing 10 lbs, not 20 so I've adjusted my numbers going forward.

I guess the reason I'm telling you all of this is because I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a spell with my IBS.  I can't pin it down to one specific thing that I'm doing that's helped it because I've made numerous changes.  I'm almost afraid to stop any one of these things out of fear that it's the catalyst to 'curing' my IBS.  I'm pretty sure though it's a lovely cocktail of all of these things.  Needless to say I'm loving it!  I don't have quite as much worry when I'm out and about.  I do know it's, without question, been over a month since I had a flare up but probably even longer.

I originally really bucked the idea of making lifestyle changes for many years, but now that I've done some it's getting easier and easier.  I'm finding with the decreased amount of crap I'm eating that the cravings for said crap have also decreased.  It's so much easier to say no to that chocolate bar or can of pop than I ever anticipated.  I guess I've come to learn that I'd rather waste my limited daily calories on something I'm really going to enjoy.  I still catch myself with my hands in the candy jar, but thankfully it's before I've opened the candy and popped it in my mouth and I just put them back.

So here's to a future with limited or no IBS, a better, healthier lifestyle while being 10 lbs lighter and a toned up body!  Pretty small goals considering everything.   I can do this!  I can do this!   My next little goal to add to my changes is eating much more healthy.  I'm not sure I can go completely clean but I'm going to give it a real try overall.  I know I'll still cheat from time to time if we go for dinner or something, but I'm sure every bit of effort will help in the long run.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

False Advertising

The other day I was directed to a blog posting written by a girl in Australia via a friend on Facebook.  I'm glad I ventured there.  In her blog she did a little experiment to try to dis-spell a myth; or rather a false truth.  After reading it I thought, I want to try it!  So I did.  This morning.  It took me roughly 40 minutes from start to finish using what I had in my house and the effects buttons on my phone camera.  I did not 'Photoshop' any of the picture(s); meaning I didn't 'erase' any edges or blur out any specific flaws.  The only effects I used were the filters on my iPhone photo app.  The rest was all manipulated by me, the human.

The before picture was taken at 9:15 this morning.  In it I wore a practical, really unpleasant looking, old, greying, yucky bra that probably should have been thrown out a year ago.  I also wore underwear that I've had for about 6 years now.  They look so good because they are in fact too small for me so I don't wear them.  But they are pretty so I haven't thrown them out either.  Found those jammed in the very back of my top drawer.  Upon donning these amazing articles of clothing,  I stood with my legs together, which helps push the fat of my inner thighs into each other, thus making them look even bigger.  I also pushed my stomach out and hunched my shoulders over (which is hard for me to consciously do as I have great posture).  I left my arms laying against my body because that simple move, or lack there of, in fact makes your arms appear wider.  I didn't put on any make up and I put my hair up in an unflattering style.  I didn't use any filter and I zoomed in on the picture so it was "nice" and close.  Et voila, picture number one is complete and it's a rather unflattering looking ME!  It's no where near where I want my body to be in a restful state, but I know it could be so much 'worse'.

Now on to the after picture.  This photo was taken at 9:30 a.m. on the very same day!  Yah, you read that right, a mere 15 minute transformation.  You won't ever guess how many sit ups I squeezed into that 15 minutes! Hint:  None.  In this picture I put my hair down, I added some make up to my face.  I put on a smile of pride.  I pulled my shoulders back to where they usually sit and I put on a bra that actually gives my humongous girls a lift.  I also put on a pair of underwear that actually fit me.  Then I stuck my ass out and threw my hip out and bent my arms placing my hands on my hips and lower back.  Finally I sucked that stomach in!  After a few pictures at different angles, I cropped the shit out of one of the pictures and zoomed out.  Then I added a nice filter to "even out" my skin (tanned always looks smoother than pasty white) and give it a smoother appearance.

So here's the before and after of my body with only 15 minutes between photos.

I could probably lie and suggest these photo ops took place a month or so apart and claim that I've lost 5 - 10 lbs, but that would be a total lie.  Much like the before and afters on those diet pill ads.

The best before/after I've ever seen is my friend Erinn.  You want to know why? Because I KNOW her and I know how hard she's worked and how long it's taken for her to have that amazing before/after shot (see below).  I KNOW this picture is legit.  I'm not sceptical about it.   She's worked super duper hard and earned every defined muscle.  And if you check out her blog, she's got great tips and ideas for getting to the same spot as her.

While my before and after is merely there to show you how deceiving these pictures can be, Erinn's before and after is there to show you how far your body can come if you do the right things.  Relying on diet pills to get you to where she is would be a huge mistake, a waste of money and time and very, very unhealthy.  I'm far from where she is and I'm pretty sure her end goal is different than mine, but with some changes in my lifestyle I'm slowly going to get to a point where I won't have to suck in my gut, stick my ass and hip out and use filters to brag about my body.