Ahh, Halloween!

I have been buying pumpkin seeds for years because I always throw them on salads or even in with cereal. Not only do they taste nice and crunchy (yes, that’s a texture and not a taste), they’re also:

  • High in magnesium (which most people are difficient in, by the way), manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and calcium
  • High in Omega-3 fatty acids
  • A source of protein
  • A source of non-heme iron (basically non-animal iron)
  • Rich in tryptophan (that amino acid in turkey that makes you sleepy – it’s a good thing!)

Last night, I carved a pumpkin for the first time in at least 15 years. I don’t know about you, but it’s kind of one of those things that I always say I’m going to do and then never do. Like sledding in the (shudder) winter. Not this year! No – this year I carpe’d the diem and got to carving. And I almost threw away the seeds, thinking “I have a whole bag of pumpkin seeds in the pantry. I don’t need more.”

Heed my advice – “real” pumpkin seeds are worlds different than the ones you buy at the bulk store or at Costco. Hand to heart. They have so much more flavour!

As a kid, we would also roast our pumpkin seeds with your standard seasoning: salt. And while salty pumpkin seeds are tasty, the ones I buy at the store are always salted (I think unsalted nuts s are to salted as Clark Kent is to Superman.) I decided that if I’m going to grant these seeds real estate in my pantry, they’re going to be different.

And thus, Sweet & Salty Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds were born.

Sweet & Salty Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin2

Ingredients

- pumpkin seeds, separated from pumpkin flesh and rinsed and dried

- 1.5 tbsp coconut oil

- cinnamon

- stevia (I used 4 packets) or sugar (1 tbsp – 1.5tbsp)

- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Celsius

2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt coconut oil.

2. Toss pumpkin seeds in coconut oil until all seeds are coated in oil.

3. Add cinnamon, salt and stevia to seeds/oil mix.

4. Distribute seeds on baking sheet, making sure each seed is touching the paper (you may need 2 sheets).

5. Roast pumpkin seeds for 15-20 minutes, tossing half-way through.

pumpkin3

I’m always – always - soaking up whatever I can find on weight loss, weight maintenance, and general health.  I’m often on sensory overload because if I’m not reading a blog post, article, or study, I’m listening to a podcast about health. It’s clearly a passion of mine, but lately I feel like I’m on information overload because there is so much goodness being put out there.

As much as I am so thankful to everyone who swings by this blog, whether they comment or not, I often find things that are too good not to share…and then I don’t share. So, rather than randomly drop info-bombs on strangers and store clerks (which I’ve done and, let’s be honest, will continue to do), I wanted to share some of the most influential things I’ve come across lately. I’m planning to post my recommendations every Monday, so sometimes it will be just one person/blog/book,etc. and sometimes it will be many!

1. First, you should all check out Andie Mitchell’s post over at Can You Stay For Dinner? called What I learned losing weight the second time. As someone who lost a lot of weight and then regained it all and a bonus 20-25lbs, I understand the shame and heartbreak that comes with regaining weight after working so hard to lose it in the first place.

Andie, of course, has the added pressure of being in the spotlight, having had massive success with her blog and also writing a book about her weight loss. I recommend her whole blog, as I think she’s funny, creative, and sweet – not to mention stunning! But this post in particular is worth making your first trip over there. Understanding how your weight or obsessive relationship with food/your body is a mechanism of distraction and procrastination is mind-blowing and revolutionary and also terrifying because – what are we putting off doing/acknowledging and stuffing away with thoughts about food, exercise and our bodies?

2. I’m a huge huuuuge fan of  Susan Hyatt, a Martha Beck Life Coach (swoon…that’s Oprah’s Life Coach. Just sayin’) and Certified Weight Coach. She is hilarious and empathetic and kind and any other adjective a great life coach should be, in my opinion. She posted recently about how to love yourself when you hate how you look and I think it’s brilliant. The highlight:

You can love yourself, deeply and absolutely, but when you’re heading for the fridge at midnight searching for food you’re not really hungry for — you’re not going to be soft. You’re going to say to yourself, “Overeating doesn’t feel like an act of love right now. It feels like an act of punishment. An act of self-violence. It’s not happening. Not tonight.” That’s love.

Gah! Yes!

A nice summary graphic, courtesy of Brooke Castillo at The Life Coach School (who I am currently training under):

Not taking care of yourself is procrastination of your work in the world. (Brooke Castillo) | TheLifeCoachSchool.com

Source

Anything you feel like sharing this week?

I recently got an email from a reader asking about how to deal with loose skin following weight loss. As I was responding, I thought about my own weight loss and realized that my response might be of interest to other aspiring weight-losers out there.

First Things First. [Bonus points if you thought "I'm the realest" after reading that]. Whether or not you end up with loose skin as you lose weight depends on a myriad of factors, including your age, how much weight you lose, how quickly you lose the weight, and the elasticity of your skin. That being said, there are a few things you can do to help prevent loose skin as you are losing weight, or mitigate the appearance of loose skin that has stuck around post-weight loss.

1. Eat and supplement properly. The creation of a caloric deficit is a cornerstone of weight loss, and if you reduce your caloric intake too dramatically, you will struggle to get enough micronutrients (vitamins & minerals), which are critical to skin health. This site has some great information on the specific vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you’ll want to focus on to ensure that you’re fueling your body appropriately throughout your weight loss.

2. Lose Weight Slowly. If you plan to lose a lot of weight, some loose skin might be inevitable. However, you can minimize the effects by losing weight in such a way that your skin can tighten as the volume of mass underneath is reduced. If you lose weight quickly, it’s possible your skin will still tighten, but it may take some time (like years in some cases) and there’s no guarantee.

3. Lose Weight For GOOD. Make sure that you’re losing weight in a sustainable way – that is, something you can do easily for the rest of your life. I am confident that losing 100lbs is not what led to my loose skin, but rather losing 100lbs TWICE. Had I not regained the weight I’d lost in 2004 – and then some – I am sure that my loose skin would be minimal as I was younger and would have put my body through the stress of weight loss only once.

loose skin

4. Lift Weights. This isn’t a miracle cure and it won’t tighten your skin, but burning fat and building muscle will give you great definition and tone and you should just do it! Essentially, you are replacing some of the lost tissue from fat loss with volume from muscle, which is more desirable anyway. Trust me. Lifting weights is a weight-losers best friend. I wish I had started sooner.

5. Moisturize. Just as eating a sensible diet and supplementing with skin-enhancing vitamins and minerals can help prevent loose skin from the inside, a good moisturizer will help your skin’s elasticity from the outside. I keep a tupperware of coconut oil in my shower and use it in a bath or after washing and shaving to moisturize, and it’s a godsend. I also keep a little travel container of a mix of other nutrient-rich oils – right now I have avocado, hemp, argan and rosehip (basically whatever is onhand) – and will add those to my baths or use them in place of coconut oil once a week or so.

6. Hydrate. Yup, good old water. One of the DIY tests for dehydration involves pinching skin and observing how quickly it bounces back – if it doesn’t ‘snap back’ right away, it’s a sign that you need to hit the water cooler. To help your skin maintain as much elasticity as possible, make sure to drink enough water.

7. Accept. I understand that it is heartbreaking to work incredibly hard to lose any amount of weight and to have to carry evidence of your former size with you. I have heard people say that they would rather be overweight or obese than to have  saggy skin on their stomach, chest, thighs and arms (those are the most common places but I even have a bit on my calves). Unfortunately, tightening loose skin requires a combination of time (to allow the skin to tighten, if it will), money (for surgery), and acceptance (of the fact that it may never tighten). This last one is a hard pill to swallow, I know. People say to carry your head high and see the skin as proof of your hard work, but I know what it’s like to want to cry in the gym because you feel like you are working for nothing. Here’s the thing, though: It is entirely possible that you’ll never be able to change it, whether for financial reasons or otherwise. Virtually the only surefire option is to reframe your thoughts about your loose skin and your body. I will probably post more on this later, or feel free to email me and I am happy to give you some tips.

In order to be accepted by others, a reflectiob of and complete self-acceptance has to come first, flaws and all.

 

 

I am a huge fan of the Curly Girl line of cards (being a curly girl myself!) and have always remembered this one fondly:

http://thenewforty.areavoices.com/files/2011/12/curly-girl-live-imperfectly2.jpg

I suspect it’s because the concept of living imperfectly – and being OK with it – is one of those life philosophies that I want so badly to ascribe to, but struggle with tremendously. I’m not alone, at least.

On Thursday night I attended a talk by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, generously hosted by Ottawa Public Health as part of their annual Health Day celebrations. You probably know Dr. Freedhoff as the author of The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work; I first heard of him through Evil Sugar Radio, a podcast I listen to on occasion. I was incredibly impressed by outspoken (sometimes perceived as Contrarian) views on dieting and diet culture in general. Since then, I’ve been following him on Facebook, subscribe to his blog, and have even visited his Ottawa-based clinic to have metabolic tests run.

Needless to say, I was in serious fangirl-mode when I heard Dr. Freedhoff speak about the Mythology of Modern Day Diets. It’s kind of a dream of mine to interview him for the blog, and an even bigger dream to one day work in some capacity at his office. Rather than summarize the whole talk, I wanted to discuss what I believe was the overarching theme of his presentation, and probably a pretty good summary of his philosophy on weight management. The concept? Imperfection. Mixed with a generous serving of consistently.

I recently heard that the ‘best’ diet is 90% ‘on plan’ 100% of the time. Essentially, you can be an imperfect “dieter,” so long as you’re consistent in your commitment to whatever your weight management plan is. Dr. Yoni really drove that concept home, concluding his talk by saying (I’m paraphrasing) that he hopes we all find an approach to weight management that we can do imperfectly, but indefinitely.

After the talk, I got to thinking about the bizarre unspoken belief in perfection that permeates our society. The dogma doesn’t always present itself as ‘perfection’ proper – sometimes it’s referenced as being a horse, or a wagon that you are on or off, depending on your diet performance of late. Or sometimes it’s expressed as a moral judgment – “I was bad last night. I had  3 bowls of ice cream even though I said I was going to quit sugar.” A woman in the audience asked Dr. Freedhoff why our provincial health care program (OHIP) doesn’t cover weight management programs for everyone, to which he replied “Because there is no one program that’s been shown to work unequivocally” (again, paraphrasing).

We’re learning, based on countless peer reviewed studies, blog posts, personal testimonials and just about any other form of media you can imagine, that the wrench in most peoples’ weight loss plans is that they ‘slip up’ and then promptly lash themselves for having gone astray. The guilt, anxiety, shame, and depression that follows major ‘slips’ causes many people to cease their weight loss efforts altogether, consume more of whatever led them down the rabbit hole to begin with, and repeat the guilt-restrict-binge/rebel cycle indefinitely until they are heavier and less healthy than they were when they began. For whatever reason, we, as a society, see to hold this inexplicable belief that once we pass into adulthood, we aren’t allowed to make mistakes or even deviate from a path toward a goal. How does this make sense? Imagine if we taught children to react to setbacks or choices they regret the way that we, as adults, react?

Oh honey you didn’t study enough for your test and failed? Guess you better stop studying for every test from here on out!.”

So maybe there’s a case to be made for the development of a weight management program based predominantly on self-compassion and resilience – unconditionally. This would mean teaching people that even if you pulled a move a la Baxter from Anchorman:

http://9buz.com/content/uploads/images/August2014/will_ferrell_and_pooping_dog_2013-08-09.jpg

You would forgive yourself and resume your regularly scheduled food and exercise choices.  It stands to reason that if you drive a wedge somewhere in that guilt-restrict-binge/rebel cycle, you cut out the entire compensatory-eating component and essentially just have people making choices to benefit their goals most of the time, and sometimes making choices just for the hell of it…without padding the process with self-flagellation and self-punishing choices. What’s more, building self-love capacity should generally lead most people to want to make better choices, anyways. Rather than making decisions about what to eat or whether to exercise based on what they “should” do, how they want to look, what they ate last night, how many calories they have left for the day, or whether they are going on vacation (and so on, and so forth), people equipped with self-love and self-trust (which I believe comes with self-love) would probably make choices with their physical and mental health, as well as their short and long-term goals, in mind.

oct 19

And so I guess to me, the secret to lasting weight loss is self-love. The big question is: where and how do we start when that concept is so foreign to us?

 

 

I don’t know many people who like to be told “No” when they want something. We all (no? just me?) roll our eyes with disdain when we see kids throwing tantrums at the store after their parents have told them they can’t get toy x or candy z, but let’s face it – when we reeeeeeeally want something and are told we can’t have it, most of us want to throw a little tantrum, too.

As much as we hate when others tell us “No,” I’m willing to bet that if you’re trying to lose weight, you tell yourself no at least once a day:  “No, you don’t want that cookie.Walk away,” or maybe, “No, you can’t have candy right now. You’re on a diet.”

No matter who is dishing it out, hearing the word “No” usually sucks. What’s more, it often imparts a need for rebellion or scarcity. In other words, when we are told we can’t do/have something that we want, not only do we want it more – our brains also become hyper-focused on getting/doing that very thing.  Parents and brains alike typically react the same way when they’re doling out “No”:

  • Give in to the demands – by far the easiest option.
  • Overpower by yelling/getting angry/berating.
  • Acknowledge the demands while informing that no amount of resistance/screaming/tantrum-throwing will work.

Think about the times you’ve gotten into an argument with your brain over whether or not you ‘should’ eat something you’re wanting. Which tantrum-coping strategy have you used in the past? How has it worked for you?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve engaged in plenty of debates with your brain over whether or not it’s ‘OK’ to eat another one of those cookies in the cupboard, or whether or not I’m going to finish what’s on my plate. The old saying rings true: what you resist really does persist. And that’s how I’ve found myself in the fetal position on the living room floor after having eaten a 5lb bag of bulk candy or a frozen yogurt the size of a newborn (and way more expensive).

Here’s a tip I picked up a couple of years ago for negotiating with my brain when I really want something that I know it is not in my best interest to have (or to have more of at that time):

Reframe your Nos as Yesses. Identify what you’re saying ‘No’ to and then list everything you are saying ‘Yes’ to by saying No. For example:

I am saying No to eating more chocolate tonight.

But:

I am saying Yes to going to bed and waking up feeling proud.

I am saying Yes to making healthier choices.

I am saying Yes to having more chocolate tomorrow, if I want it.

I am saying Yes to knowing I am able to stop when I want to.

And so on.

This works for most things and can actually be a helpful way to make life decisions. It’s incredible how focusing your brain on positives rather than negatives – even if it’s just reframing the same thoughts – can be so effective and really make the whole process a lot easier.

Give it a try – it takes practice but so worth it!

 

I love sharing my favourite workout songs with you all, and it’s been way too long! I keep finding gems and thinking “I need to share this one the blog” and then totally forget.

I haven’t been doing as much running as in past years, and have been favouring cycling and walking as my cardio these days, along with a lot of strength training. As a result, some of these songs are a little less “fist pump-y” than those found on previous lists, but awesome nonetheless.

A few observations:

  • Music these days is on an upswing as far as both messaging and general vibe/tempo…however;
  • I am disturbed by the fact that almost all of my choices could be classified as ‘Adult Contemporary’
  • Music videos are intense these days

So, without any rambling, here are some songs to check out if you’re in a workout rut. Please share any songs you’re loving that I’m missing, too!

Don’t Tell Em’ – Jeremih

I Heard I Had – Dear Rouge

3 Foot Tall – Classified

Angel In Blue Jeans – Train

Love Don’t Die – The Fray

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift

Fire – Gavin Degraw

Bailando – Enrique Iglesias ft. Sean Paul [I really wanted to hate this one based on a long-standing and fully rational dislike of Enrique...but I just can't keep from wiggling when this song comes on]

Maps – Maroon 5 [this video is a bit disturbing]

Alive Again – Champion

Jealous – Nick Jonas

Lovers On The Sun – David Guetta

I like a snack after dinner, and I like it to be sweet. I know many people fall into the salty-snack trap in the hours between dinner and bedtime, but not this gal – I’m on a rampage for sweets after eating a savory meal.

One night, on a whim, I decided to get creative with the standard dairy proteins that I keep stocked (greek yogurt, cottage cheese) and a box of fat free White Chocolate Jell-O pudding mix. As I ate this cheesecake-y concoction I thought “this needs a dipper.” Enter: the apple.

Without further ado, I present to you my High-Protein Cheesecake Dip.

High-Protein Cheesecake Dip

dip

Serves: 1

Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese (I use 1% lactose-free)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt, plain
  • 1 serving (8g) dry Jell-O pudding mix (I use White Chocolate or Cheesecake)
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 1 apple, cut into slices

1. Combine cottage cheese, yogurt, salt and Jell-o mix

2. Dip apples in cottage cheese, yogurt, salt and Jell-O mix.

Seriously…that’s it. And it’s SO tasty. I’m planning on experimenting with pumpkin puree and jams, too. I suppose you could add some chocolate or caramel sauce if you’re so inclined ;)

Calories: ~200

Fat: ~2g

Protein: ~16g

Carbs: ~14

 

 

I’ve now been a bike-commuter – riding approximately 2 hours per day, 3-4 days per week – since May. This has had a few measurable impacts; of note, my thighs are like rocks boulders, and my hair is permanently helmet-flattened. I had some volume to spare, at least.

Aesthetics aside, my daily hours of biking has given me ample time to self-reflect, and loads of time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks.  I finally got around to paying off my $25 library fee (the first overdue fee I’ve ever let gestate, by the way) and watch out world!! Lock up your books. I’m on the warpath for all of the nerdy self-help and business development books that I’ve been too cheap to buy from Chapters, and I’m foraging the shelves of the Ottawa Public Library like a literary Pac-Man.

Most recently, I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly in audiobook form. Brene won me over in her Ted talks on shame and vulnerability, and we pretty much became best friends when I watched her interview with Jonathan Fields . In the book, she discusses how trust and vulnerability go hand-in-hand, and how trust is earned, not given. The illustrative example given is that of her daughter’s elementary school classroom, where the teacher places marbles in a jar when students make good decisions. Once the marble jar is full, the students get to leverage them for a celebratory party. Sounds pretty fun, no?

The elementary school marble jar example got me to thinking about trust, and how the rules that apply to awarding others with our trust also applies to our relationships with ourselves, and developing self-trust. So often I hear people – aspiring weight-losers and ‘normal’ eaters alike – lament that they can’t keep chipscandychocolatepizza in the house because they don’t trust themselves not to overeat said yummy food. Look, I get it – I have several of these black-listed foods myself. But at some point, something has to give. What kind of message are we sending ourselves when we ban foods because we “can’t” be trusted?

Like in all relationships, self-trust is a snowball; first we build a little, and then it grows bigger and bigger and bigger. When someone violates your trust, you might hold a grudge and you might keep a mental tally of their trustworthy behaviours and activities until you feel they are to be trusted again. Some people never earn our trust, and true enough, there may be some foods that we’ll never feel comfortable ‘trusting’ to be in our homes. But if your list of untrustworthy foods is ever-growing and has expanded to include foods that were innocent a week ago or that you’ve started exploiting as you’ve crossed other foods off (think diving into peanut butter because you stopped keeping ice cream around), you might want to reconsider your strategy. I can almost guarantee one day you’ll look around and wonder what’s ‘safe’ anymore.

Here are a few practical tools to help you build your self-trust:

  • Practice. Anyone who has been through the cycle of binge-restrict-binge or even just overeat-restrict-overeat knows the nail-biting, cold-sweat inducing feeling you have when you’re in a heated mental battle with the cookies in your cupboard or the ice cream in your freezer. My advice? Whether you maintain your iron willpower and resist the food or give in and eat 10 cookies, tell yourself you’re just practicing. Because you are…and you will be, forever. It’s all just practice.
  • Start Small. If the idea of bringing home a gallon of ice cream and white-knuckling your way through every evening in an attempt not to grab a spoon and go to town, try bringing home a single-serving portion and…you guessed it – practicing eating it in a way that makes you feel proud. When you feel like you’ve mastered the single portion, bring home a slightly larger portion and (yup) practicing some more. Keep moving on to larger portions until you feel comfortable. With this strategy, you can practice going from serving yourself a single portion of something and putting the bag/box away, to eating an appropriate amount with the bag/box in plain sight, and so on progressively. This one is tough and takes time – I’m still working on it! I learned this strategy when I worked with Coach Georgie last summer.
  • Be Kind To Yourself. Most of us struggle with beating ourselves up after we eat more than we’d planned or eat something we perceive that we ‘shouldn’t’ have. This habit will not serve you in losing weight, even though it seems logical that if you punish yourself you will be ‘good’ next time. I’m going to guess that self-flagellation is your go-to reaction for when you ‘slip up’. How has this worked for you so far? We all know the old adage about the definition of insanity; doing the same thing that has failed you over and over again will not likely yield different results. Instead, try being kind to yourself. This is easier said than done, so it’s helpful to reframe your self-talk as if you were talking to a child or to someone you care deeply about. Odds are you wouldn’t tell your best friend that she’s a worthless cow for eating a pint of ice cream, so why do you think it’s OK to treat yourself that way?

So there you have it – the starter steps to help you develop some self-trust around food. Do you find you have some foods that are just no-fly in your house? I’d love to hear what they are and how you deal with not overeating them when you are around them!

I know the title sounds a bit like something you’d see on the cover of Woman’s World, but trust me. Over the last 8 months I’ve been doing some major self-reflection about body image and weight, and have made some big changes to the way that I eat and move. Over the course of this journey I’ve learned an insane amount about my body –   not just how to appreciate it more, but what makes it tick.

The idea for this post came to me other day when someone asked me, as someone who has lost 100lbs (twice), what advice I would give someone who is looking to lose weight. My biggest piece of advice – that I DID NOT follow in my weight loss journey but wish I had – is:

Pay attention to how things make you and your body FEEL.

I know this sounds obvious, but when I was in the throes of my restrict-binge cycle for the last couple years (while marathon training, no less) I didn’t care how food made me feel. During the week I would eat far too little, and then on the weekend I would eat until I felt physically ill. I didn’t even know what acid reflux felt like until last summer when I ate so much – multiple times – that I woke up choking. I know that’s nasty, but I’m being honest with you here.

Once I started eating more and scaling back my workouts a bit, I noticed some major mental shifts happening that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Once I gave it some thought, I realized that the changes in my thoughts, feelings and behaviours around food could be summarized into a 3-step questioning process. These questions are:

1) How Do I Feel?

If the answer here is positive, move on to question 2. If the answer is negative or neutral (tired, bored, angry) and not accompanied by “hungry” then I wouldn’t suggest moving on to Question 2.

2) How do I want to feel after eating _____ [whatever the food is]

Some examples would be proud, lean, happy, confident, satisfied, etc.

3) How much of _____  [food from Question 2] can I eat and still feel ______ [whatever your answer to question 2 was)

Stupid simple right? It takes practice to implement and actually listen to your answers to these questions, but I promise if you incorporate them into your day you will notice a shift.

Now that I’m actively trying to lose weight again, I use these questions often to help me cut some calories without restricting myself (I’m hyperaware of this now). Here’s how I would use these questions in a weight loss context:

1) How Do I Feel?

I feel lean, tired, and like I want a snack.

2) How do I want to feel after eating these gummy bears?

I want to feel lean and satisfied.

3) How many gummy bears can I eat and still feel lean and satisfied?

Well, I’ll start with 5 and check in with myself and see how I’m feeling. If I still feel ok, maybe I’ll have a couple more, or maybe I’ll move onto a more satiating food so that I’m not hungry again in 20 minutes.

You can tweak these questions as relevant to your situation, but the basic premise is to set some intentions for yourself before you eat and to check in along the way. You can even do this now without making any changes, asking yourself how the current amount you’re eating makes you feel as compared to how you want to feel. This will give you a baseline!

You deserve to feel great after you eat – no matter the food! I know it’s tough, but thankfully you can train your brain to be on your team, and that’s more than half the battle. I know for some of you, it’s easier to just avoid foods that you tend to overeat altogether, and if that’s working for you then feel free to apply this ‘framework’ to your favourite non-triggering foods and see what you come up with.

I am practicing this daily and invite you all to join me! Like any permanent mindset shift, this takes time and practice, so go easy on yourself if you give this a shot. I suggest committing to trying it out for at least three weeks :)

Mornings, how I love thee. There is no time in my day that is more serene than just after the sun has come up and everything is peaceful and quiet – though nature gets brownie points if there are birds chirping (and mega points taken off if there is snow…just saying). I haven’t always been a morning person, though. In fact, for as far back as I can remember, I’ve been a night-owl if left to my own devices. I know you’re probably thinking “But wait – you just said you’re a morning person!?!”. Let me explain.

In high school and university, if I didn’t have somewhere to be early in the morning, I would stay up as late as possible. I remember when my house shared 1 PC and I would make a ‘to read’ list of things I wanted to research on the internet once everyone went to bed. I would stay up until 3am reading about world events the Backstreet Boys. By the way, staying up late makes you HUNGRY! No wonder I was obese. The problem with my nasty habit of staying up late was that I couldn’t manage to sleep in, no matter how I tried…which meant I was just tired ALL THE TIME.

I didn’t really transition from night-owl to morning-lark until I was about 6 months into 9-5 life, but once I made the switch, I never looked back. I get asked a lot how I started to love mornings, so here are some tips to help you make a habit of waking up earlier and not hate your life in the process

  • The Slow Creep

It’s probably unrealistic to expect that after a lifetime of waking up ten minutes before you need to be out the door, you’ll suddenly spring out of bed, throw on your running shoes and knock out 5k. Instead, I always suggest people start by setting their alarm 5 minutes earlier than normal, and keep going in tiny increments week by week until you’re waking up an hour earlier (or however much earlier you’d like). The important thing here is consistency. I’ve found that people who decide to workout at 6am twice a week but sleep in the other three weekdays struggle waaaay more with waking up and lacking energy than those who make it a daily habit.

If you’re a real ‘rip the bandaid’ type person, you can try just getting up an hour earlier for a week. Some people do best with sweeping gestures, so if you know that you’re the go-big-or-go-home type, maybe it’s worth trying to suffer through a few sleepy days to shift your clock faster.

  • Set Some Bait

Brainstorm some things that you can do/enjoy with all of your newfound morning time. Brownie points if these are things you wouldn’t normally do at night because then you’re not just shuffling things around, you’re actually adding productive things to your day. Some ideas here could be:

* Read that book that’s laying under an inch of dust on your bookshelf

* Go for a walk. For extra motivation, see if you can find a friend who is also wanting to take advantage of mornings and arrange to meet up and go for a walk together. Friend time and exercise? Check. Check.

* Meditate

* Make a delicious healthy breakfast

* Prepare some things for dinner that night so you have more time when you get home from work (double win!)

* Take a class at your gym that you’ve heard is great but always miss out on because you’re snoozing.

* Clean. I know this sounds torturous but trust me – you will feel so satisfied when you come home at the end of the day and your house is glistening!

I remember the first time I EVER worked out before work/class. A friend from work invited me to meet her at 7am (ungodly at the time) for a spin class that she heard was fabulous at the GoodLife Fitness near our workplace. I had been having a hard time making it to the gym after work, given the adjustment to my new 9-5 job and the brutal winter weather, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I showed up to that class, yawning and wondering what  the @(*@$& I was thinking when I’d agreed to do a spin class at 7am…and my friend slept through her alarm and never showed up. But what do you know – I did the class, LOVED the feeling of having burned 450 calories by 8am, and was delighted at 3pm when I thought the usual “urrrghhhh I have to go to the gym” and then realized that I had already been.

  • Burn a One-Ended Candle

I used to say that I wasn’t a morning person because I always felt sleepy when I woke up early. Well, it turns out I felt sleepy when I woke up early because I was staying up later than I should have. Say what? The morning wasn’t making me sleepy…the lack of sleep was. Insert *face palm* here. Once I started making an effort to get to bed earlier – just a 1/2 hour at first, and then eventually a couple hours – I realized that the mornings weren’t the enemy. In fact, they were AMAZING! I was won over pretty quickly by the sense of tranquility and calmness that you’ll find at 6am just about anywhere you go…except maybe Ibiza. Or a Full Moon Party. I digress.

  • Treat Yo’ Self

Offer yourself a reward for waking up earlier.  Tell yourself that if you wake up earlier every day for a week, you’ll get a massage on Saturday morning, or have pancakes, or get a pedicure. Eventually (and I can almost guarantee this) waking up early will be its own reward. Or hey, get a dog. I hear they’re great at ‘persuading’ people to wake up earlier ;)

So there you have it. A few tips to help you make the most of mornings. This habit, by the way, is a bajillion times easier to implement in the summer months when the sun rises at 5am and sets at 9 (just in time for bed, amiright?!). For myself, sleeping late feels like wasting precious summer sounds and sunshine, so I make early rises a priority. Give it a try!

 

 

 

 

* This post was written in contribution to the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program* 

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