Her Vancouver
P.E | The One Year Wellness Journal

Two months ago Michelle decided to embark on a revolutionary wellness journey to change the course of her life; or at least the course of her sag. After years of perusing fitness methods, trying out various exercise regimes and more or less falling off the bandwagon each time, Michelle decided to take all the health information at her disposal and get fit. For real. It started at the end of November 2016, after a particularly rough flu season with the family which led to extreme exhaustion, cabin fever, and carbs. The photo on the left was the moment that Michelle decided, this is my “Before photo.” Yup, sucking in that tummy as hard as she could, glaring at the result, and deciding (albeit dramatically), “I can’t go on like this.” Michelle is now two months into her wellness journey and is going to regularly share her progress on Her Vancouver.

End of November-Beginning of February. That’s what the above photos represent in terms of how long I’ve been on this wellness journey. I prefer to say wellness to fitness because I have been taking a holistic approach to my body, not just exercising but radically changing how I eat and detoxifying my life (from the beauty products I use to the cleaners we have in our house). In the photo on the left I was desperate for change because I felt I couldn’t keep up with life. I wasn’t exercising or eating well and I felt depressed in a way that I thought I had overcome when my postpartum depression lifted. As some one who works in health and beauty I have a wealth of information at my disposal, but let’s be honest, it’s easy to ignore the experts. However, desperate times call for desperate measures and experts are experts for a reason. In this post I’m going to share who I started to listen to and why their advice is dang good, based on my personal experience (What I’m sharing is not necessarily going to work for everyone).

I returned to my beloved/hated Jillian Michaels workout videos. Jillian is most well known for her role as a personal trainer on the show The Biggest Loser but she’s also come out with an amazing serious of shred-it videos for the average joe. I started using her 30-Day Shred workouts last summer but stopped in the Fall when I was cycling more. I saw drastic changes within a short time but her workouts are killer so I was happy to give it up for the bike. In order to fast track myself into a routine at the end of November I started the shred series again, alternating between her stage 1, 2 and 3 workouts.

I began to workout six-seven days a week. It sounds extreme but trying for three days of exercise a week is easily disrupted. On the other hand if I make it a part of my daily routine, it becomes much easier to stick with. I also end up with a lot of unexpected days off because of kid-stuff and migraines and so if I’m feeling well, I go for it (and count my blessings that life has made exercising possible for the moment). After I had established a routine, I read this quote from Gwenyth Paltrow’s trainer, Tracy Anderson in the new Goop Clean Beauty Book:

“As for how many times a week…my general rule is usually not a super-welcome one. But if you want to get really great results, you have to put in the time-working out isn’t magic. Although it can be fun, it is work. So, I suggest working out four to seven days a week-with six days seeming to be a sweet spot.”

Six days is definitely my sweet spot and I usually workout for 3, 1/2 hour resistance and weights sessions, and 3, hour long cardio sessions.

I found support in an online community. I began to follow women on Instagram who had amazing fitness results, many of them moms. The common denominator between all of them was BBG, or Bikini Body Guide, now branded under the Sweat With Kayla app. This app provides guidance for a daily workout with a focus on Resistance and LISS workouts. Similar to the shred workouts, it kicks my ass. I switched to Sweat With Kayla after doing Jillian Michaels workouts because I love long cardio sessions and the planner provided by the app enables me to get in extended outdoor workouts. Currently I run 10 KMs, three days a week. What I like best about the Sweat With Kayla fitness community is it encourages realistic and incremental changes. There are no 30-Day promises but rather the underlying motto of slow and steady wins the race.

I banned gluten from my life. I’ve long known that I have a gluten-intolerance and my desire to get fit encouraged me to cut it out of my diet once and for all. When I eat gluten I get terrible cramps, bloating and a raw, stinging mouth (not normal). Since cutting gluten I feel like a new women in terms of gut health. Along with gluten I cut out refined sugar and all processed foods. It sounds awful but the alternative has been to fall in love with being in the kitchen again and fiddling around with weird ingredients like Teff and rice flour. I upped my veggie game significantly and not to sound trite, I feel so good!

What are the biggest differences I see after two months?

  1. Energy Levels – I can survive full days with my kids without feeling like I’m going to drop-dead by 3 PM.  I can run up stairs without losing my breath.
  2. Sleep-I’m sleeping better. Period.
  3. Posture is correcting itself and chronic back pain is greatly reduced.
  4. I haven’t been weighing myself but I’ve lost inches, especially around the belly and ehem, chest area.
  5. I have more muscle definition although I’m in the very early stages of strength training and building muscle.
  6. My skin is incredible. Wouldn’t it be great if it was a product that worked magic on our skin? In reality (unless you have an extreme skin disorder) skin beauty come from the inside-out. Exercise and clean eating are a fantastic skin care regime.
  7. I feel more emotionally stable and less likely to say, “I can’t even…” on repeat.

The reason I call this a year long journey is to have a goal to work towards in terms of strength and form. I’ll be honest, a visible six pack after three kids is my bench mark (by the by, I’ve never had a six pack in my life). In my next wellness journal post I’m going to share how I’m detoxifying my life by getting rid of all beauty products with known endocrine disrupting ingredients and replacing them with clean and green alternatives!

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