Would that I had served my God that way

Would that I had served my God the way I had watched my waistline – Thomas Wolsey

“Fitness saved me.”

“Personal development saved me.”

“This business saved me.”

But the one thing that kept ticking in the back of my head was, why wasn’t it God? Or was it? Did He give me all these things? I don’t feel him.

Let me back track a bit in case you don’t know my story…

I’d never been on a diet in my entire life until I got it in my head to do a bikini competition a year after my second child.

I had spent the last 10 years loving health and fitness, being in damn good shape and having never counted a single calorie or ever recall hating my body much or worrying about what I should and shouldn’t eat. The diet world and calorie counting was totally foreign to me.

I was just shy of top 1o out of 200 people in my competition and I still felt I had inches to lose, areas to improve on. I look back and think … what on earth did I see!? What did I think was so awful?

But it’s called body dysmorphia, and your flaws are crippling even if they’re made up.

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#70

Fast forward to now, not quite 15 lbs heavier, a year and a few months post competition and I’m finally falling in love with myself again. I hope you can see the softness in my smile, the bits of joy flecked across my face, because it’s there.

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September 2018; 1 year post competition

It took until probably 8 months post competition for me to hit true burnout. I was trying so hard to maintain my fitness, to maintain my body, it was slipping away from me and I was too tired to hold on.

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June 2018

And so then I was left with this post partum body that was supposed to be gone forever. My happiness was tied up in the fit body I created and then it was gone. And I was left with this … with this message that said fitness and personal development had saved me, but that salvation was temporary and based solely on my high performance, and as soon as I couldn’t perform any longer, well I was ruined.

I was more depressed than ever, and before all you thin body shamers start freaking out because I’m still small and how can a thin person talk about their pain in weight gain etc etc just hold your plus size horses for a second and let me talk.

Ahem.

I was more depressed than ever. My body was slow. Weak. I felt it in every movement. I wasn’t working out anymore, I was eating food I didn’t even LIKE like sugary junk food (the body does weird things to recover from famine) and I felt like a failure. I felt embarrassed to see anyone who knew me, because I was now that mom who let herself go. I see this photo now and am shocked at how differently I saw myself then.

Disgusting. Fat. Ugly. Whale.

I can’t begin to describe to you how I saw myself entirely different then, then I do now. Now? Just a woman wearing a bikini that’s too small for her. But perfectly beautiful regardless.

I was tortured by my mind, by societies rules, by my weight and my pants that taunted me for not fitting anymore.

I’m better now you know.

I haven’t lost the weight, I don’t lift weights or do HIIT workouts anymore.

I yoga.

That is all.

Well and I walk my dog. Hardly a rigorous fitness regime by today’s standards.

How dare I be happy?

And yet, here I stand. A little beaten, a little bruised, but happy.

And I’m haunted by this quote … would that I had served my God the way I had watched my waistline …

Imagine a world where we focus inward, and upward.

Imagine women with the freed up mental space where they aren’t worrying about their bodies, and instead are moving forward in their dreams as fully aware and present beings.

Hell imagine MEN that way too because Lord knows the assault on men’s body image is here too.

So let’s commit together; no more chasing the perfect body. Acknowledge your cellulite as apart of you. Acknowledge that new dip at the bottom of your stomach where your pants dip into. Acknowledge you can’t get even one thigh into your old pants. Acknowledge your weary dark circles under your eyes, and with all of that choose to believe you are worthy of loving yourself.

Let’s not just say it, let’s spend time sitting with our current circumstance. Our goal is to be confident in our body and who we are, so spend time actually feeling into what that feels like. Work up those feelings in your body. Get excited. Picture yourself walking down the street and drum up the feeling of confidence. How do you walk? Head high? Smile on your face?

And then start doing that.

You can live that right now, in the body you are in, and then spend that extra time on your relationship with God, with your family, with yourself. Learn, grow, chase dreams. Your weight should never hold you back.

I am 15lbs heavier, and I have never felt lighter.

 

 

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First Day of School

I’ve been nervous for this day. My oldest, A, he’s only 4 and he’s been begging me for school for about 6 months.

He is a dedicated self learner, an intense why asker with a deep curiosity for the world around him.

That was a huge part of our decision to have me, Michelle, be a full time mom and homeschool our boys. We don’t want the why squished out of our kids, the curiosity and natural love of learning … we want to keep those. Cultivate them. Nourish them.

Is school great for some? Sure. But for my husband and I, we know we can give our kids everything and more a traditional school can, and even still. I have been and still am, totally nervous.

I’m not a teacher with a formal education, how am I supposed to do this?

Through the support of a minimalist homeschoolers group, I found that every mom fears the same. We all feel inadequate and at times totally overwhelmed by the thought until we are reminded of how incredibly simple it can be.

Today was the kids first day of school and honestly, it was not much different than a normal day for us.

I picked up a couple pre k math, reading and writing books, some French flashcards and we aim to keep it pretty simple. He is only 4 after all.

We woke up at 7:15 AM (say what now? That’s a sleep in for us!) and started our day with oatmeal and apple slices. We then cleaned the table as a team with the boys taking turns vacuuming up all the crumbs on the floor and then headed to the living room for yoga.

I turned on some kids yoga for the boys on one TV and then continued to do my own from my laptop. This is the first time I’ve put on their own yoga or workout for them while I do mine, usually I try to include them in what I’m doing or join them for theirs but to be honest, I just need my own time and I’m not ready to start waking up before them, so this was a huge win for us today because they loved it so much! And there would be pictures, but my little N (2 years old) is a bit of a free bird. Potty training you know?

After yoga I asked A what he wanted to learn today and he asked for Math. He did 2 worksheets, the first is writing the letter 1 and the second writing the word one. I marked them, gave stickers, we read a story, and called it good.

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A writing the number 1, N colouring; Sept 4 2016

Then came my favourite part. We packed up, headed into the city to a special micro creamery called Made by Marcus for our first, first day of school tradition, getting ice cream. It was a bit of a drive, but totally worth it for the fresh chocolate fudge brownie vegan ice cream, regular chocolate for the boys.

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Vegan Chocolate Fudge Brownie for mom

We were the first ones there, we laughed, played and enjoyed our treat.

This is just as much a treat for me as it is for them, reminding me homeschooling can be lighthearted and we can take it slow, letting my kids lead. Probably with ice cream.

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One day they may ask to go to school, and I’ll never hold them back from taking control of their own education and exploring their learning styles and favourite places to learn. But today, today is for us.

Today is for keeping my boys together so they can continue to grow their relationship before being separated into different classes, for allowing them to get up and run around if they need a break, for choosing what they want to learn and for how long they want to learn it for.

Am I worried I won’t be able to give them everything they need? Yes, but not in the learning sense, because they will be responsible for their learning as well. But in the sense of being organized enough, in actually having the material they want to learn and giving them the structure they love, because they do love some structure and we all need it, but it can be a challenge for me.

But that’s homeschooling I’ve been learning. It’s a journey, it changes year to year, sometimes month to month. We learn together. I learn what their learning styles are and I help them learn what they love and teach them how to learn in a way that helps them succeed. Something that would have been invaluable to me as a kid.

Would you ever consider homeschooling? What’s holding you back?

On “Those” Days; An Open Thank you to my Husband and Mother

Today has been one of those days one of those weeks months years.

Ok, but today it all boiled down to a nightmare of a day.

I truly want to be one of those moms who writes about nothing but the rainbows her child poops and all the glorious joys of motherhood. And I will. One day. I do know those joys, I have those joys, I live for those joys … but to be honest, if I talk to you and you speak of nothing but all the happy times and how amazing everything is 24/7, I don’t relate to you. And sometimes I hope you’re a liar, because if you’re not, what the heck am I doing wrong? Is my parenting bad? Are my sons endless tantrums and lack of sleep my fault, thus causing the misery we find ourselves drenched in from time to time and if I could just … teach him better, none of this would be happening?

Probably not true. But my thought process none the less.

In any case, if you’re like me and my husband, you’ve had … well let’s politely call them shitty days. Yes, I know. I’m a Christian, and I swore. No, it doesn’t make me cool. No, it doesn’t make me evil. I’m very sad, very vulnerable and very tired today. And sometimes, it’s the only word I can find. So shitty it shall be.

Today started out like any other day…6:00AM wake up on the nose, child in the fridge screaming for strawberries and the tantrum over food begins. No, you can’t eat 12 plums and 38 strawberries for breakfast. Here’s your eggs. Well you said you wanted eggs. No you can’t have oatmeal. Because you asked for eggs and I made eggs. I don’t live to make you food. Yes, you can have a plum when your eggs are finished. Because if I give you the plum all you’ll eat is the plum until your stomach thinks your full and you never eat sustainable food. Sustainable. Sus-tain-a-ble. It keeps you full. No, you can’t have more strawberries. When you’re done screaming and kicking on the floor, come find me. I’ll be eating your eggs.

Usually my patience is pretty far reaching. I am able to take deep breaths and relax, remind myself this is a stage and that one day he won’t throw himself on the floor every single morning the minute he wakes up, and he will have slept through the night.

Today was a different day.

I managed to get in a team call this morning while he screamed and ran around peeing on things because he’s kind of over being told he has to pee and is rebelling, and I managed to do quite a bit of tidying around his tantrums. We also sat together and drummed, and played hide and seek around his fort, and read books inside of it. He then napped for 1/5 hours and woke up foul, as usual. And today I couldn’t handle it.

I don’t know why my son doesn’t sleep well, and I don’t know why he wakes up angry. But it frustrates the hell out of me, because I want to fix it. I want to see him happy and thriving, and to see him so upset all the time honestly just breaks mommas heart. He cries intermittently and hard for a long time after waking up. We’re talking a couple of hours until he’s righted himself, and I’m at the point where I’m falling asleep while he’s screaming because I’m so bloody tired of it all. My body is exhausted and my mind is weary.

And then in walks my husband, and in walks my mother.

My mom came to help me clean today … and all I could do was sit there. And cry. And then leave to nap. And then wake up and stare into space. And watch her clean.

She cleaned my floors, my banisters, my kitchen and every inch she moved along, she scrubbed away a bit of the clutter frustrating my heart.

My husband was in there with her, helping, putting in an effort … while I sat here. Immobilized by exhaustion? Yes … depression? Maybe … in any case, I am not alone in these struggles and there he is. Doing things I cannot do. Cleaning dishes. Making dinner.

My family has surrounded me and it took me a good couple of hours to get up off the couch, and pitch in.

And to top it all off? I can’t show my gratitude…I can’t seem to be very warm and inviting and kind. I can however be critical, condescending and lack the ability to extend anyone else the grace to not be perfect.

So because I can’t seem to find my voice when anyone is present to say thank you, here I am. Saying thank you.

Lucas, you have strength I cannot comprehend. No, you don’t have to be pregnant. No, you don’t know how tired or emotional I am. But what you do know is that you were once married to a vibrant, joyful woman who didn’t condescend, criticize and fall apart. I promise you, even though I keep losing that woman, she is here, and I will keep doing everything I can to find her, to be her. You have put up with just as much sleep loss and frustration and joy and pain as I have, and yet you come home and you take care of this family. I promise I will show you all the kindness I have, even if it’s not much I will muster it up and give it all to you. You have provided for me, for Asher in ways you’ll never understand. Food, finances, it all pales in comparison to the peace you’ve given me to know I am married to a warrior. A fighter. A man who is so capable of loving even when love is not being shown. Sometimes I get angry around you simply as a reaction to your love, because it’s too much for me to handle your gentleness that I react negatively…like being in the presence of God’s overwhelming love that if we don’t feel worthy we run from. I’m 5. No big deal. Just know that I see you, for every little amazing thing you do, even though I don’t seem capable of voicing it. I’m learning. Pray for me and work with me; I know God will use you to be the hand that pulls me up. Thank you for every day, for every hug, for every kiss, for every time we forget to make eye contact throughout the day and then you touch my shoulder to remind me that you’re there. Thank you to the ends of the earth, which I will crawl to to find a way to show you my love.

Mom, I don’t know how you’ve put up with me all these years. To no end do I wish I could actually be as kind as you deserve, when I am this down and out. And just like Lucas, what kills me the most is your endless ability to pour out love on me when I’m like this. To not ask for anything in return. To just be willing to do whatever you can to help me and my family, even if you never get a thank you. I wish I could open my heart when it’s this hard, but I haven’t been able to, and you deserve every ounce of gratitude I can muster. For loving my son to the ends of the earth, to taking him when I’m working, to always be there to help me, to always bend your plans to help mould them around mine and A’s sporadic naps…you’ve never asked for anything, and I’ve never been able to give much, but my love and respect and deeply rooted desire to be like you, you have. Thank you for choosing to love me even on the hard days.

I 100% believe this will pass. I know that this is 95% sleep loss and 35 weeks pregnant. But it’s hard to see past that, especially when I had such a good handle on it just a few short weeks ago.

But I’m here, putting the few things in front of me that I know how to do.

One of those being my complete and utter commitment to sharing my journey with you. Because while it is scary to some to be “so open” it’s actually very therapeutic for me. I’m a verbal processor but I also believe that God will use my struggles, and reach out and touch someone with them.

Maybe to help you feel like you’re not alone.

Mom’s, it’s a tough gig.

And sometimes, we aren’t the nicest to those who are nicest to us, and I know you’re like me and find it devastating to know we’ve hurt someone whom we love so dearly.

If you’re in the same boat, I’m praying for you. The trenches are deep, but the hands reaching in are strong and sturdy.

Grab hold of one and don’t let go.

Commit with me to taking the time every single day to doing something that utterly feeds your soul.

Spend time with God, knit, rest your face in the sun, walk alone outside, exercise, eat well and as you walk alone let the wind caress your skin and fall in love with life every single day.

It won’t be like this forever.

Just promise me you will take the steps to walk forward every single day.

More than a fitness coach, I walk hand in hand with women struggling with things I too struggle with.

A tribe of strong women is forming around me, and together we climb ahead.

I have an incredible support at home, and there are those of you who are single parents or struggling the same but have no family to help …

I can’t say I’ll come be the things for you that my family is for me, but I can walk with you. I can climb with you.

We are strongest when we hold each other up.

On Being Reborn

I sent this to my coach last night, because this week I have been struggling. This week I have seen me self sabotage, and head down a path I don’t like.

I want an empire. I want more. I want a business. I want a thriving business. I want to have a free and full life. I want to create a life for my family. I want to leave a legacy for my kids. I want to do something different. Something I’ve never done before. I don’t want to just be fit. Generally active. I want to have goals. To do things on purpose. Not stumble around in them when it’s convenient for me. I want to not have to be at work anymore and hear my son say “I want mommy” on the other end but know I can’t leave yet. I want to own my time. I want to do something every single day, and not stop doing it one day because things feel good, and then completely lose track and balance.

I want to change. I want to break free from old habits. I want to loose the warrior God has put in me but I keep finding ways to not do it. And I just needed to be accountable and say I’m not doing it. I’m trying. But I’m not doing. I’m making excuses. And I’m frustrated with that girl. She isn’t who I look up to.

I don’t know the purpose or end goal of this message, but I just needed to say that. To you. My friend. My coach.

Do you know what’s frustrating? Knowing your potential and not living up to it. Knowing that you can change and not doing it. Falling back on old habits. On old methods. Being that old person who doesn’t get things done.

I’m here right now to write her a letter;

Dear Michelle,

You’ve loved hard, you’ve lost hard. You’ve had joys, you’ve had pain. But you’ve also made choices.

Choices that aren’t bad. Choices that are seemingly … negligible. But choices that don’t fire you up, but drag you down. Slowly. Quietly.

You fall back on, “that’s just who I am.”

You decide on change, you move forward, and when you fall back, you fall hard. So hard and for so long, that you forget how to get back up again. That you expect someone to do it for you.

You expect someone to come pick you up. To say the right thing. To be that person for you.

Not this time.

This time, you’ll pick yourself up. You’ll be that person for yourself.

This time, you have recognized the trend.

And this time, you are capable of more.

You can overcome your habits.

You can overcome your fears.

It’s Easter. And what better time to be reminded that you are reborn.

Rise and Grind Fitness. It stands for rising from the ashes, and hitting the grind hard every day. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s worth it. We’re reborn in the grind.

This is the grind. Today. Here. Now.

This is where you decide are you going to stay the same, or are you going to change?

Are you going to let the things of this world pull you down? Or are you going to recognize that you’ve been reborn; that you’ve been given the strength to accomplish something new and mighty?

You get a chance to be reborn every morning.

And tomorrow morning you rise up with Christ, who died for our sins regardless of if you ever loved him for it. He chose you.

This isn’t just fitness.

This has never been just fitness.

This is about making a stand and saying you are more than you think you are.

And I say that you are loved. I say that you are capable of anything. I say you are royalty; a crown has been bestowed on you, regardless of your merit. And I say these things not out of some divinity I posses of my own, but out of being grounded in who Christ is. And who He says you are.

He says you are whole. He says you are new.

So act whole. Act new.

And rise.

The grind is here. The grind is now.

And you are mighty.

With love,

Michelle