My Pandemic Health Journey
I’m not gonna lie, sharing the health and fitness journey I’ve been on gives me a little pang of panic. We’re all becoming more aware of diet culture, how it’s literally everywhere and how toxic it can be. And I think we’re all trying, truly trying, to rid ourselves of the programming that’s been engrained in us since before we could remember. I’m doing everything I can to keep those ideas and “ideals” as far away from my girls as possible. Because now that we know better, we do better, right? So that’s Part 1. Part 2 is that I did change my lifestyle and my diet and I lost weight. And therein lies the conundrum. But as I’ve learned, 2 things can be true. I can abhor diet culture and I can make changes in my life that make me healthier and stronger and subsequently, a few lbs lighter. So here goes.
I’ve never been a consistent worker-outer. It was something I got super jazzed about for a couple of months, then fell off – hard. I’d go from 0-100, and then right back to zero again. That was my pattern for most of my adult life. Last spring when we were in the depths of the pandemic, living up north with baby Marigold and 4-year-old Bea as well as Randall working full-time from home….well, let’s just say I wasn’t exactly thriving. In fact, I was downright spiralling. I suffered with some postpartum anxiety + pandemic + kids + living remotely +++++++. I know most of you reading this can relate to a lot of those feelings that quite honestly, still linger. I decided that I needed to do something for ME. Claim time that was mine and for no one but me. I decided that time would be for fitness. I needed an outlet and exercise made the most sense as a place for me to clear my head, move my body and do something for my health. So, I started slowly in May 2020, 4 months postpartum. I remember that first workout vividly because I couldn’t even do a lunge. I’m not exaggerating, I almost fell over attempting it. I was immediately discouraged and wanted to give up. But I committed myself to 3 low-impact workouts a week and so 2 days later I got back on the mat.
I’m the kind of person who loves stats and data. I want to know precisely how long Marigold naps and how big her poo was in the morning. I love information. I got an Apple Watch so I could track my habits and started using their Fitness+ platform for workouts. Game Changer. I started off with an attainable move goal and started paying attention to those rings every day to truly keep me accountable. Before long, Randall also got an Apple Watch and started using the Fitness + platform too. (He said he was inspired by my progress and also loves the watch’s breathe reminders and hand washing feature). Within a couple weeks Bea even picked up on this new family routine and started rolling out the mat for us in the morning, often joining in for some jumping jacks or “lops” (laps) around the house. Which was both hilarious and deeply satisfying.
I’ve always been aware of the types of things I don’t want to model for our girls, but seeing her follow our lead reminded me of all the good things I want to demonstrate. I want her and Goldie to understand the importance of time for yourself, to move your body, to stretch and lift and feel strong and powerful. That has by far been the best bonus of this whole journey.
Over time I got stronger and increased my weights and started signing in to more challenging classes. We have a Peloton here at home so once we moved back to the city, I also started doing rides 1 or 2 times a week. That bike never gets easier but I love the challenge of it. I’m also obsessed with the Peloton strength classes. There are a ton of options and I’m never bored. In my quest to switch things up I started using the FitOn app which is FREE and has some super great workouts and instructors. I mix things up and workout anywhere from 3-4 times a week now. Sometimes it’s less, and it’s certainly never more.
At the start of this year, I was feeling stronger than I had in years and wanted to continue this health journey to include taking a look at what I was eating a little more closely. I love food, I love wine and I love dessert and the latter 2 had slowly become less of an occasional thing and more of an every single day thing. I was feeling strong in my body but sluggish and not sleeping well (likely from all the sugar.) I wanted to do a reset. Like Control + Alt + Delete for my body to really see the combined benefits of movement, restorative sleep and eating well.
In March I started working with Andrei from One Life Meals on an eating plan. We had an hour-long intake chat so he could get sense of where I was, my habits and what changes I wanted to make. I learned so much in that initial conversation about how best to structure my day around what I eat and when. I got back to intermittent fasting which I had done before and I know works well for me and got set-up with a meal delivery program to meet my needs. We also had bi-weekly check-in calls to track progress and answer any questions. A few things I want to mention about this meal-delivery program: I recognize my privilege in being able to do this as I know it can be cost-prohibitive. Also, at no point did I feel like I was depriving myself. The lunches were things like pastas (my fave), stuffed peppers, burrito bowls etc. All foods I thoroughly enjoyed. I made myself a mid-day snack and then dinners on the program were the lighter meals consisting of proteins and veggies. I was never hungry and always felt satisfied. Instantly I was sleeping better and waking up way less groggy.
I stuck to this plan from Monday-Saturday and then Sundays were the days to enjoy and indulge in anything I was craving that week. It almost always included a mug cake. This one is my favourite
I stayed with the meal delivery program for 3 months and in that time, I learned so much about how to fuel my body for it to perform optimally. So, when I stopped getting the meals delivered, I stuck with the practices I’d learned from the program: I feel my best when I eat my heavier/carbier meal at lunchtime, that I love an afternoon smoothie and that protein and veggie dinners work for me. I really increased my water intake and that has helped enormously in how I feel. I also now know 2 glasses of red wine makes me wake up at 3am, more than 1 shot of espresso gives me coffee induced anxiety and that mug cakes are best eaten before 9pm. I feel much more in tune with my body than I ever have. I deprive myself of nothing, instead I stick to an 80/20 plan. 80% of the time I give my body the stuff it needs to be well nourished. The other 20% of the time I eat whatever I’m feeling for. Lately that’s been all dressed chips, moose tracks ice cream or Haribo gummies.
For all of you who have reached out with kind and supportive words and asked me how I got here, thank you. My goal is to live a healthy and long life so I can spend as much time with my kids as I possibly can.
Big Love (and healthy and strong vibes!),
Credit: The Family Graham