The road to a fitter and healthier me…
I am Cindy…
The shorter version: (less detail)
What a life changing journey these past several years (decade+) have been! Wow! I can’t believe it has been that long.
In March 2003, my world was shaken by the sudden death of my dear mom. She was a nurturing and generous person, someone who always put others first. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with diabetes in her thirties and she became insulin dependent. As time went on she also developed other related conditions. At the age of just 56 she suffered a massive heart attack and left our world far too soon.
Living through this has been heartbreaking. After taking time to grieve and deal with this loss, I realized that I had to re-evaluate my own life, including my food choices, level of physical activity and my personal goals. These were all areas that I thought I was in control of, but in reality I was overweight and sedentary. I learned from my mom’s death that I had to turn my life around and take the reigns of my own fate. When I was finally able to gain my ground, I was infused with strength I didn’t even know I had! Sure, there were ups and downs, but I found the motivation to get back on track. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my wonderful mom. I thank her for giving me the willpower, determination and the focus to embark on a new lifestyle.
By drastically changing my eating habits, exercise regime, sleep patterns and overall outlook on life (in various stages), I have witnessed astonishing results. Not just in the way I look, but more importantly in my performance, mood and function. I am seventy(ish) pounds lighter, a heck of a lot happier and much, much stronger! I wake up every morning with a channeled energy. I feel that I have a heightened sense of purpose and passion for what I believe in. I am thriving.
In February 2009, I reconnected with a close friend, Tyler Touchette of Caveman Strong. As my road towards greater health continued, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Tyler has been, and still is a major player, as well as countless others in bringing me to where I presently am. During our conversation at that time, he told me all about the Paleo lifestyle and the strength and conditioning program he was involved with. Without hesitation, I (we) decided to join the CrossFit Toronto gym.
It has now been over 5 years since my husband and I experienced those “deer caught in headlights” days in the boot camp. Every day I become more and more in love with this way of life. My passion for cooking and eating “real food” has grown remarkably. I never realized that making a few changes could make such a huge difference. This journey is far from over, and perhaps only just beginning. I hope to continue to thrive, and in the meantime share some delicious recipes and tips along the way. Life is precious, live it!
The longer version: (more detail)
When I finished my degree at university, I moved to Toronto to start teachers college. Shortly after doing so, I met Dustin (my now husband), and we moved in together. About a year later, in March of 2003, I lost my mom to a massive heart attack. This is what I call the catalyst. This was the incentive; this was the spur that I needed to start making change. However, I had to experience a dark place before this was possible. It was a bit of a roller coaster before coming to terms with everything and realizing that major adjustments were needed.
After my mom’s passing, my anxiety worsened, and I started to experience full-blown panic attacks. During this time, I also injured my neck really badly and had difficulty with much exercise of any kind. Dizzy, puffy (as I call it looking back in photos), depressed and down-and-out, I went to the doctor. Guess what? He quickly prescribed medication to “help” with the anxiety, but things actually got worse for me. The side effects weren’t worth it, so I weaned myself off.
Another plan was needed. In 2005, Dustin proposed to me. We started preparation for our wedding, which was scheduled for the summer of 2007. The celebration of this happy time was just what I needed to get out of this black hole. I began the Weight Watchers program. With that, I experienced much success with losing weight, but I also gained the attribute of becoming overly concerned with the scale. I was constantly counting, weighing and calculating. During this time, I thought I was eating real food, but was I really?
No. Hardly. Low-fat this, and reduced-fat that. So called heart-healthy this, all the way back to reduced-calorie that. I combed the grocery store shelves and filled our cart with 100-calorie snack packs of who knows what (actually counting their points with my calculator as I shopped), microwave dinners, pre-boxed items and bags, all of which carried glowing health claims on their packaging. The outside was made to look good, but most of what was inside was just a distant cousin of the food it declared it was. From a physical standpoint, I had lost weight, but I still wasn’t healthy. My digestive issues were at an all-time high. I was definitely wearing the rose-colored glasses, and I was completely mesmerized by what others were telling me healthy was supposed to be. I was under their spell and believed all the hype and hoopla. This up and down diet wasn’t sustainable for me. It truly wasn’t a lifestyle; it was a numbers game of empty calories in and calories out that I no longer wanted to be a part of. I didn’t know what to do. I think many of you can probably relate, as this is where most people find themselves stuck. (Even though you might not realize it at the time).
The years following 2009, until the present, is when the true magic happened. Upon meeting up with Tyler Touchette, going to several nutrition workshops led by Robb Wolf and Mathieu Lalonde, attending numerous Ancestral Health Symposiums, it started to become clear to me. The waters became less cloudy. The haze was lifting and I was learning what I needed to do to actually become healthy. In its simplest form, I needed to eat what I now call ‘really real food’.
The benefits started rolling in when I cleared out all the refined and highly processed junk, grains and legumes and replaced them with really real whole foods. I ditched the restrictive counting mentality and started to concentrate more on nourishing my body with healthful foods. I began a reciprocal relationship with food where I started to pay attention to where it came from and what it actually was. In return it started to show me some love back.
When I did so, it was life changing. Literally, I call it miraculous—digestive issues: adios; skin: much clearer; hair: shinier; anxiety: no longer; panic attacks: bye-bye; inflammation: farewell; mood swings: cheerio; sleep: like a baby; energy: hello there! I was out from hiding underneath that umbrella of what and how I thought I was supposed to feel. I was actually feeling like everyone deserves to feel—how we are meant to feel both physically and, more importantly, mentally.
Here’s to a healthier and fitter you. Welcome to my blog… Have a blast reading my tidbits on health, fitness and how to thrive when eating nutrient-dense foods, while making some of my delicious recipes. Enjoy!!!