New Year, same old you….but improved

My take on resolutions and what I am doing differently…for once

As soon as that bell drops, you hear talk of new year’s resolutions. Some view the new year as an opportunity to make change for something- be it personal, physical or financial. For others its a time to set a goal (or goals) to further better themselves.

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I’ve often found myself thinking that resolutions are not achievable because we never follow through with them. We always hear “this will be my year to lose weight” or “I want to start a new job” but those extra few pounds end up hanging on or we are still sitting at our old desks.

How do I know this? Well, way back when, I too used to make resolutions. Losing weight was always a big one on my list, but after a few weeks into making my resolution, I would go back into my old ways. Eventually, I would give up and lose sight of my goal. I became cynical and vowed never to make a resolution again. I found them to be useless as I never stuck with them.

The past few months I spent a lot of time soul searching about what’s important to me and what truly matters in life. I believe that in today’s society we are exposed to too much vanity and consumerism that it made me question what I think is real and what is truly valuable. It then dawned upon me – instead of making a resolution – why not make a commitment to better myself?

Some commitments I made to better myself for 2019 are:

1. To spend less time on the phone: we don’t realize how much time we waste on our phones. Don’t get me wrong, I love browsing through friends pictures on Instagram or looking up recipes on Pinterest, but we really need to put our phones down and spend more time talking to one another and being sociable. It’s also a huge distraction. At home, we have already implemented a rule to keep our phones to the side unless we need to make or take a phone call. As we’ve become more self-conscious of how much screen time we expose ourselves and our children, we forget what real conversations are like. We end up spending way too much time comparing ourselves to others, because everything on social media is real, right? The point is to develop a healthy balance of screen time versus me/family/friend time.

2. To stop being so self-critical of myself: it’s true. We are our own toughest critics. I often tell others to not be so hard on themselves yet I am the hardest towards myself. I am trying to accept me for me and to accept that not everything will be picture perfect. I’m trying to tell myself that I am doing a good job trying to keep a good balance of everything. ¬†I will admit, achieving this notion of self-acceptance will be very challenging and please know that I am “working on it.”

3. To take the focus away on appearance and move it towards health: it’s not about the number on the scale (or dress size for that matter,) its about how you feel. My goal this year is to stay healthy and make the time for myself. ¬†This goal is more realistic as opposed to the “I am going to lose 10 lbs this year” one. ¬†Whether it’s running around outside with the kids, or going to spin class, the point is to take some time every day for physical activity. ¬†Preventative health is so important for both mental and physical health so why not start now? ¬†I love the feeling after a good workout, it makes me feel well-rounded and balanced. ¬† Also, I am trying to be more aware of what I’m consuming. Generally speaking, I do eat healthy, but I do splurge now and then (ummm donuts) and I have to remind myself that it’s okay to do so, but, as they say,¬†everything in moderation.

4. ¬†To be more thankful: ¬†we so often take for granted what we already have and we get so wound up in day-to-day life that we forget what really counts. ¬†I am making a commitment this year to be thankful everyday for what I already have. ¬†From the roof over my head, to those smiles that look at me everyday, I am so grateful. ¬†I think it’s so important to step back and take a moment to reflect on the things that actually count.

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Walking through a vineyard at Seavey Vinyards (Napa Valley, 2018)

These are my commitments to myself for this year. What are yours?

The wrath of those nasty daycare illnesses

One parents experience 

These past two weeks our household went through a variety of illnesses- pink eye, ear infection, gastrointestinal virus, and pneumonia to name a few. ¬† It got so bad to the point that our youngest was admitted to hospital due to severe pneumonia. ¬†Thankfully, we got there on time and things are on the mend now. ¬†These past two weeks have been extremely challenging on us. ¬†Having my youngest son in hospital triggered so many memories of my oldest’s time in the NICU. ¬†It is awful to see your child in pain and as parents, all we wanted to do was to take it away and make him feel better. ¬† However, thanks to an amazing paediatrician who sent us to hospital and a great support system at home, we got back on track. ¬†As soon as we got admitted, my son was hooked up to an IV and things started to get better. ¬†As quickly as his pneumonia came, it also quickly started to disappear¬†when the antibiotics started to take it’s course.

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As soon as October comes around, we try to “mentally” prepare for another brutal cold and flu season. ¬†You would think that after a few years of being in daycare we would be better prepared, or immune to say the least. We prepare as best as we can: ¬†giving our kids proper nutrition, and taking daily multivitamins. ¬†We practice good hand-washing and hygiene at home and put the kids to bed early. ¬†We even get the flu shot yearly, as my oldest was preemie and his immune system was compromised for a while. ¬† However, when your child is in daycare, they catch different bugs, no matter how well-prepared you are. ¬†Research has shown that children get sick on average of 8 to 12 times a year, at an average of 10 days per illness. ¬† So in laymen’s terms that means that they are pretty much sick for 6 months of the year!

Last year we thought we experienced it all- hand, food and mouth disease, strep and so on.  We were hopeful that their tiny bodies developed a better immune system for this upcoming cold and flu season, but boy were we wrong!  

It started with my youngest developing an upper respiratory virus and was at home for 7 days; then my oldest and I had a gastrointestinal bug for a few days.  Then my husband caught a nasty virus and eye infection.  Then my oldest got sick again with fever which ended up being bronchitis and an ear infection.   Then my youngest developed pneumonia and in less than 24 hours he was in hospital.   It was an awful feeling but we got to the right place at the right time, and here we are, on the mend, all healthier and happier.

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Although it was challenging, as my husband was on call and I was trying to manage things at work, we were able to work things out.  When your child, or children get sick, my advice is as follows:

Have a support system in place:  
I was fortunate enough to be granted time off from work to watch my kids. We also had lots of help from my in-laws. ¬†I am grateful to have a good support system around when times like this happen and that’s important, especially when your little ones get sick. ¬† Have an emergency list at home of family and friends who are available to help when your child gets sick; especially if you have more than one child at home. ¬†It’s nice to have someone available to help run out and grab some groceries or watch one of your children at home if you have to take one to the doctor’s office or hospital.

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Proper nutrition and sleep:
This is key- any person, let alone a child, is healthier when they eat and sleep well. ¬†Try and encourage good eating habits at home and set a bedtime routine. ¬† I also stock up on homemade chicken soup and keep some broth in the freezer in the event a fever is brewing as it has lots of nutrients. ¬† Not only is good nutrition and sleep good for children, but it’s¬† beneficial for you as well. ¬†I got sick a lot last year because I was not sleeping enough, despite eating well and exercising regularly. ¬†Some things like laundry just have to take the back burner because sleep is more important. ¬†Research backs that up!

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Keep a list
Keep a list of important phone numbers such as your family doctor (or child’s¬†paediatrician) handy in the event you need to make an appointment for a sudden illness. ¬† ¬† I have our doctor’s office phone number stored in my phonebook and also in my Outlook. ¬†Know where your nearest urgent care centre, walk-in clinic or hospital is if you¬†have an¬†emergency. ¬† Also keep handy a list of important phone numbers such as family members, friends, or neighbours in the event an emergency takes place. ¬†

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Practice good hygiene 
This is common sense, but good hand washing and sanitizing will prevent the spreading of illnesses.  If you are sick, stay home from work or school as illness can spread easily.   I also like to wash linens and towels weekly.

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In a cruel way, it’s ironic that a respirologist’s family all developed pulmonary illnesses, including himself. ¬†However, we survived. ¬†We hope this is the end of those nasty daycare illnesses….for now.

 

 

Setting my fitness goals straight: body image, mental and physical health in a social media world

It’s tough being a mom in today’s society. With all the magazines, YouTube blogs and Instagram accounts, mothers today are receiving mixed messages as to how they should look post-baby. Countless before and after pictures, diet plans, fashion trends are confusing messages to young moms, especially to those who just gave birth. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading blogs and forums on these topics. These sites are great ways for us to draw inspiration, obtain ideas and receive support on a wide array of issues. But sometimes they also add this extra pressure of “oh I am not thin enough,” “oh I have let myself go,” or “how does she and her kids look so perfect and collected?”

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It is interesting to note that since I linked my blog to an Instagram account, I received countless likes from various fitness accounts. Again, don’t get me wrong, I love the collaboration and support, especially for fitness, but also at what point is this kind of obsessive? What kind of message are sending to ourselves? The point is, when we talk about post-partum fitness, I think we need to take the focus away from appearance and more towards about mental, physical health and well-being.

Growing up, I enjoyed playing sports recreationally (although I wasn’t that talented!) I never really had any fitness goals but I just enjoyed being active and partaking in outdoor activities: soccer, swimming and cross country to name a few.

When I started university, I took my health seriously and started working out regularly. I even watched my carb intake. I gained more confidence and started to worry less and less about my image. I found it to be a great stress reliever and it helped me deal with severe PMS. Studies back this finding up as well. Around the time of my wedding up until I got pregnant, I was probably in the best shape of my life: I attended BodyPump classes and ran regularly. I was also sleeping 8 hours a night.

After the birth of my first child, I let my fitness slide. As my oldest was born nearly three months prematurely, I sort forgot about myself and dedicated everything I could to him, which was okay! My body just needed a break from everything that it’s been through. However, after a long hiatus, I obtained the courage to go back to the gym. I did it because I felt sluggish and just wanted some more energy again. Things were starting to feel good and I was slowly getting back to myself….then I got pregnant again. However, this time I was high risk, which meant my physicial activity was limited to just walking. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was placed on strict bed rest. I gained well over 50 lbs. But I was okay with that, because my goal was to bring baby safely, no matter what (and he did come safely!)

As I had a C-section with my second, I waited until my 6 week follow-up to obtain medical clearance for working out. When I was given to go ahead to exercise, I slowly got back into the swing of things. I started with taking the kids out on walks with the double stroller. As time went on, I started the Bikini Body Mommy challenge as I was able to do that from home. It was nice because it eased me back into the gym and helped me slowly gain some confidence back.

At about 1.5 years post-partum from baby number two, things started to plateau. I started to feel discouraged because I envisioned my body would eventually return to my 20-something year old self and it just wasn’t. I got frustrated. I started comparing myself to others and asking myself why I haven’t fit into that old dress yet or why some things were hanging. I don’t know why I felt that way, but I knew that I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. The only way I was able to overcome that awful feeling was to change my mindset on what I was trying to achieve from working out.

Then one day, it just clicked: I had the wrong fitness goal in mind. I always thought when I wanted to workout, the goal was to “look” a certain way, but I realized what I want and what I am are two different things. It took some time, but I realized I was working out for the wrong reasons.

I then let go of the idea that working out is to look a certain way, rather, the reason why I work out is to be a healthy, energetic, happy mom, wife and overall person!

Today, I have accepted the fact that my body will never be the same again, and I am so okay with that. Why? Because it brought two beautiful and healthy children into the world. I gave myself some closure and donated my old clothes and bought new ones. I learned that it’s not about a number on the scale, or what size dress I wear, but how I feel about myself. It’s about confidence and feeling good about yourself. There are also so many other benefits to exercise as well, namely for preventative health. For me personally, exercise is a great stress reliever and gives me that extra boost that coffee won’t. It keeps me balanced after a hectic day at the office and home.

So if you are like me and reading this, know you are beautiful, know that you are wanted and know that if you do workout, do it for you! Whatever it is that makes you happy- walking, fitness classes, rock climbing, bike riding, dancing, do it for your mental health and not for what society thinks you should work out for.

My top fitness picks:

I like some variety when it comes to physical exercise as I get bored easily. The idea of just doing something stationary, like running on a treadmill for instance, does not appeal to me. I try to exercise 3-4 times a week, if I can. Here are some of my favourite exercise routines and applications:

-BodyPump, RPM cycling, Jillian Michaels Shred via virtual fitness (available at GoodLife Fitness Clubs.)

-Nike Training Club application (it’s a free app on your phone. I love it because you can do a lot of the routines at home!)

-Nice long walks with the kids.