I Want To Make A Change - But What Next?

I've been harping on about this for a while. You want to make some big changes?  Start with small ones.  Small changes add up quickly and turn into something big.  Small, positive changes create an inertia that is powerful.

But, where to start?   Aha, that is the question.  I get lots of messages for advice on this, and to be honest, for a long time I've avoided the topic because I don't like to tell people what to eat.  Honestly, it's so different for everyone. We are NOT all the same. What agrees with one person may not agree with another, or vice versa.  There is no prescription or meal plan that will suit everybody.  You might be someone who can eat ALL the carbs all day long and you maintain being a Size 8.  Good for you, you've got some metabolism genie in your body that is pure magic and I salute you, but that is not the case for me, and especially not when I'm trying to lose weight. For a lot of us, carbs are just not our friends when it comes to losing weight.  But, you've all heard the anti carbs rants, I'm not going to repeat it.

What I want to talk about is more broad than just one food group. It's about all of them and this little thing I like to talk about called Balance.  Creating a balance that works for you and your body is very different for everyone, and it also hugely depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to regain health and are not at all focused on weight, the decisions you make may be different from someone that is trying to lose (or gain) weight.  For me, I'm trying to lose weight. I would love to sit here and tell you that you can have absolutely everything in moderation, because, hashtag balance.  But it's not the reality. The reality is, if you're trying to lose weight to get to a place where you CAN have everything in moderation one day, some things simply have to go for a while.

For a while, not forever.

I have dieted before and drawn hard lines in the sand. "I WILL NOT EAT CARBS! NO BREAD EVER!" I shouted from the rooftops.  It's not realistic.  These days I don't eat bread 90% of the time, but if I'm out and want eggs benny on that fresh, soft ciabatta, I'm going to have it. Because it's enjoyable, because I love it, and because I do not believe you should restrict yourself all the time.    I have the same approach to sugar.
Unfortunately sugar is a little different to bread because sugar is the absolute devil incarnate and once you have a taste, you can go down a slippery slope to downing a bar of chocolate in 3.5 seconds (anyone else?).  That is the truth, that shit is addictive.  When I started my weightloss journey, I cut it. CUT IT OUT.  I got rid of the taste of it, and I stayed off it a long time. I still limit it a lot and opt for natural sugars when I want a hit. There is no balance for me when it comes to sugar, it is all or nothing.

Coming back to what changes you can make (I think you're starting to see where this is going).  Think about the things in your diet that are doing nothing for you, that don't serve you.It might be pasta 4 nights a week, it might be sugary cereal, it might be cake, hell it might be a bad McDs habit.  If you think about it, you'll come up with a little list that you can start tackling pretty quick (back to this in a minute).

My very first change was sugar. I said 'self, sugar is doing nothing for you'.  But sugar as a whole was too daunting so to start, so it was just no chocolate or cake for a week. A small, achievable goal (that was actually a big deal to me as I had that stuff ALL the time) that once accomplished I felt like a superstar. High fives all around!

I'm also a firm believer in we don't just need to be taking away and cutting out foods without adding something else in.  There is a real misconception that when you change your lifestyle to eat healthier that your missing out.  You are not missing out. When I started getting rid of my bad habits I found other things that I really loved.
Superfood Smoothies is a really good example, I replaced my shitty breakfast with smoothies from Craft Smoothie.  Raw baking is another great example, god, if only people knew how incredibly delicious these natural foods are!

 Raw Chocolate & Caramel slice

Raw Chocolate & Caramel slice

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So where to from here?  

  • Make a list of 3 things or habits to change in the next 2 weeks
  • Keep those 3 things in the front of your mind, be mindfulof the choices you make. If not having cake is on your list, and you make an intentional decision to have cake, that's ok, but I want you to think about how having that cake made you feel. Did it actually make you feel better?  And then you have to let go that decision and not beat yourself up. This part is very important!  
  • Write down what you want to achieve and what success would look like.  I don't mean some big lofty goal that doesn't seem achievable, don't scare yourself before you've started.
  • Use the internet for inspiration, look for recipes, find people like me that might inspire you and give you motivation and ideas.  For recipes, use hashtags like 'wholefoods' and 'cleaneatingrecipe'.  There is an ocean of inspiration and ideas out there, use it.
  • Be prepared - go to the supermarket an get some good food for your pantry (see below)
  • BE KIND TO YOURSELF.

I can sum up the diet changes I made it one sentence really. I stopped eating shitty food and started eating clean.   I started doing what I knew made sense - I stopped with all the jam sandwiches, biscuits, cake and carb heavy, sugar laden foods and wouldn't you know it, the weight started falling off me.  I started eating clean, whole foods. They are easy to access and truly delicious - and they serve you.

Here are some ideas of things to buy at the supermarket for snacks or meals (I turns snacks into meals!). Being prepared and having nutritious food you enjoy in the house is super important.

  • Plain mixed nuts. Maybe stay away from ones with yogurt covered raisins and chocolate.  I go for the cranberry nut medley.
  • Grapes
  • Any fresh fruit you enjoy
  • Yummy cheese (fat is not the enemy)
  • Low sugar natural yogurt or coconut yogurt.  Natural Cathedral Cove Naturals and Raglan Coconut yogurt are both very very low in sugar, but creamy and delicious.
  • Frozen blueberries (to pop into your yogurt, yum)
  • A good nut butter!!!  Fix & Fogg have an amazing chocolate peanut butter that is decadent and delicious
  • A paleo, grain free nut cereal mix for crunch on smoothies or your yogurt
    Clean Paleo Co or Cathedral Cove Naturals are my faves
  • Whole food bars like the ones by Tasti or Tom & Luke
  • Bliss balls (buy or make)
  • Green smoothie ingredients like spinach, kale, kiwifruit, banana, pear and almond milk so you can make yourself a super smoothie any time!

Just a few ideas!  These are things that are always on my grocery list, as well as plenty of veggies and plain old lean meats.

I hope this has been helpful and as usual, hit me up with any questions on Facebookor instagram!

Breaking Through

I want to share something really personal with you, and I should start by saying that not everyone needs a breakthrough, but I did. Some of you are just here because you like the sneaky little healthy recipes sandwiched in among all this heavy stuff, and that's cool!
This blog is about my breakthrough, and for those of you that are stuck, and need a breakthrough like I did. 

 

Today I have been re reading some of my early conversations with Alex, looking for quotes to include in my talk at the upcoming The Balance Project evening I'm hosting. 

For those of you who haven't been following me for long, Alex was the friend I spoke to who helped me see my eating behaviour in a different light, which ultimately led to me making this huge change in my life.  (I wrote a specific blog about it called The Switch a year ago and also an Interview with Alex).

 

In reading through our conversation I got very emotional.  I'm sitting here having a cry and realise it's for two reasons.

 

First, I remember that place of desperation and unhappiness so very clearly.  Sometimes I forget because life is so different for me now, but when I read the words - I remember the feelings, the hurt, the frustration and I feel incredibly sad for me.  I was fully functioning. I went about my busy life and I suspect no one knew how unhappy I was, but I was in a dark place when it came to how I viewed myself.   I certainly was not unhappy all the time, don't get me wrong, I was still a positive person about life and my place in it - but deep down I was not happy about myself.

 

Following feeling sad, I felt immense happiness and pride.  To look back and see what I have done and how I've done it, I'm so proud. It has made such a difference in all aspects of my life. The breakthrough is the hardest part. The breakthrough is what changes your direction and leads you on a journey of self discovery and improvement, but it can be hard to get there.  I didn't understand back then what making these changes would mean, I just knew I needed to change and part of what this blog is about, is showing people what the other side can look like.

What I wanted to share with you is part of the conversation that I had with Alex that night. There was an important question that Alex asked me, that I'd like to share with you, and more importantly, my response. It is very personal and to me still a little raw so it's a big deal for me to share it as not all goals came to fruition, as you'll understand when you read on.

This was the question that made me think about my future.  I remember answering VERY quickly, typing fast and crying as I did it.  I'd like you to think about your answer, maybe write it down to reflect on later.

 

Alex:If you and I are having this conversation again in 12 months time and you are really happy with how you've progressed and your results. Tell me what those results would be. Physically and mentally.

Justine: I would have energy, I would be able to run around with Aiden and not get tired, I would be able to do all the active things I love with him and Bill that we enjoy as a family but I am limited to do at the moment.  I would look better, I would be able to wear the clothes I want. I would be pregnant. Or at least if I wasn't pregnant, I would know it wasn't my fault. Because right now I feel like I am the only thing stopping Aiden from having a sibling. And that weight is paralising sometimes.

The very first thing that he said to me after that response was:

'Justine, You must stop holding yourself to ransom', and the words were honestly like a bullet.

That is what we do to ourselves, we blame ourselves for all our past perceived failures and hold ourselves to ransom. We fill our head with negativity because we are not who we think we should be, because we're fat, or unfit or just plain unhealthy.
It's time to stop it. Stop with the negative self talk, it's not ok anymore.
You are worth more.

One thing that Alex said to me that has really stuck is, "you must commit to starting to understand yourself better". Mindfulness and awareness is such a huge part of changing how you eat because it's actually not about the food.   This is something I have learnt to practice everyday, to THINK about what I am doing.  Do things with intention. There is no need to pressure yourself with a long list of things you CAN'T eat, life is for living and if certain foods bring you joy, don't do yourself the disservice of saying you will NEVER eat them again. It's not realistic for a start, you're setting yourself up for failure. You must also realise that when you start exploring with different food, food that fuels you, you find other things that you love - even as much as cake ;)

Here are the 5 things I believe help you to have your breakthrough and help you to get started on your journey.

  1. Write down what success looks like to you, what do you want?
  2. Forgive yourself of your faults, what's done is done, there is no point in beating yourself up anymore. LET IT GO.
  3. Get to know yourself better. As Alex said to me, you must commit to starting to understand yourself better. Understand why you make the decisions you do - you don't have to stop them, you just need to start with understanding your triggers and why you make those choices.  Then you can recognise it next time.
  4. Be in the moment. Concentrate on today. There is no need to set 30kg goals and make your task a mountain - do well today, and then move on tomorrow.
  5. Love yourself and think of yourself positively - practice this every day

My last piece of advice, for now, is to utilise the people around you that love you.
I reached out to Alex because he had offered countless times over many years to help me. I was never ready, and I was stubborn, but when the time came - I knew exactly who to call.  I am very fortunate to have a husband who has been my biggest cheerleader & supporter.  The changes I made have not only been for me, Bill & Aiden have been part of this as well and are also healthier because of it.  Aiden counts my steps each day and tells me he's proud when I hit 10k.

To be successful, you must let the people who love you help you and be part of your journey.  Bring people into your fold, and it becomes a happy place to grow.

J xx

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How To Make a Change

I've been harping on about this for a while. You want to make some big changes?  Start with small ones.  Small changes add up quickly and turn into something big.  Small, positive changes create an inertia that is powerful.

But, where to start?   Aha, that is the question.  I get lots of messages for advice on this, and to be honest, for a long time I've avoided the topic because I don't like to tell people what to eat.  Honestly, it's so different for everyone. We are NOT all the same. What agrees with one person may not agree with another, or vice versa.  There is no prescription or meal plan that will suit everybody.  You might be someone who can eat ALL the carbs all day long and you maintain being a Size 8.  Good for you, you've got some metabolism genie in your body that is pure magic and I salute you, but that is not the case for me, and especially not when I'm trying to lose weight. For a lot of us, carbs are just not our friends when it comes to losing weight.  But, you've all heard the anti carbs rants, I'm not going to repeat it.

What I want to talk about is more broad than just one food group. It's about all of them and this little thing I like to talk about called Balance.  Creating a balance that works for you and your body is very different for everyone, and it also hugely depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to regain health and are not at all focused on weight, the decisions you make may be different from someone that is trying to lose (or gain) weight.  For me, I'm trying to lose weight. I would love to sit here and tell you that you can have absolutely everything in moderation, because, hashtag balance.  But it's not the reality. The reality is, if you're trying to lose weight to get to a place where you CAN have everything in moderation one day, some things simply have to go for a while.

For a while, not forever.

I have dieted before and drawn hard lines in the sand. "I WILL NOT EAT CARBS! NO BREAD EVER!" I shouted from the rooftops.  It's not realistic.  These days I don't eat bread 90% of the time, but if I'm out and want eggs benny on that fresh, soft ciabatta, I'm going to have it. Because it's enjoyable, because I love it, and because I do not believe you should restrict yourself all the time.    I have the same approach to sugar.
Unfortunately sugar is a little different to bread because sugar is the absolute devil incarnate and once you have a taste, you can go down a slippery slope to downing a bar of chocolate in 3.5 seconds (anyone else?).  That is the truth, that shit is addictive.  When I started my weightloss journey, I cut it. CUT IT OUT.  I got rid of the taste of it, and I stayed off it a long time. I still limit it a lot and opt for natural sugars when I want a hit. There is no balance for me when it comes to sugar, it is all or nothing.

Coming back to what changes you can make (I think you're starting to see where this is going).  Think about the things in your diet that are doing nothing for you, that don't serve you.It might be pasta 4 nights a week, it might be sugary cereal, it might be cake, hell it might be a bad McDs habit.  If you think about it, you'll come up with a little list that you can start tackling pretty quick (back to this in a minute).

My very first change was sugar. I said 'self, sugar is doing nothing for you'.  But sugar as a whole was too daunting so to start, so it was just no chocolate or cake for a week. A small, achievable goal (that was actually a big deal to me as I had that stuff ALL the time) that once accomplished I felt like a superstar. High fives all around!

I'm also a firm believer in we don't just need to be taking away and cutting out foods without adding something else in.  There is a real misconception that when you change your lifestyle to eat healthier that your missing out.  You are not missing out. When I started getting rid of my bad habits I found other things that I really loved.
Superfood Smoothies is a really good example, I replaced my shitty breakfast with smoothies from Craft Smoothie.  Raw baking is another great example, god, if only people knew how incredibly delicious these natural foods are!

dsc01306-3.jpg

 

So where to from here?  

  • Make a list of 3 things or habits to change in the next 2 weeks
  • Keep those 3 things in the front of your mind, be mindfulof the choices you make. If not having cake is on your list, and you make an intentional decision to have cake, that's ok, but I want you to think about how having that cake made you feel. Did it actually make you feel better?  And then you have to let go that decision and not beat yourself up. This part is very important!  
  • Write down what you want to achieve and what success would look like.  I don't mean some big lofty goal that doesn't seem achievable, don't scare yourself before you've started.
  • Use the internet for inspiration, look for recipes, find people like me that might inspire you and give you motivation and ideas.  For recipes, use hashtags like 'wholefoods' and 'cleaneatingrecipe'.  There is an ocean of inspiration and ideas out there, use it.
  • Be prepared - go to the supermarket an get some good food for your pantry (see below)
  • BE KIND TO YOURSELF.

I can sum up the diet changes I made it one sentence really. I stopped eating shitty food and started eating clean.   I started doing what I knew made sense - I stopped with all the jam sandwiches, biscuits, cake and carb heavy, sugar laden foods and wouldn't you know it, the weight started falling off me.  I started eating clean, whole foods. They are easy to access and truly delicious - and they serve you.

Here are some ideas of things to buy at the supermarket for snacks or meals (I turns snacks into meals!). Being prepared and having nutritious food you enjoy in the house is super important.

  • Plain mixed nuts. Maybe stay away from ones with yogurt covered raisins and chocolate.  I go for the cranberry nut medley.
  • Grapes
  • Any fresh fruit you enjoy
  • Yummy cheese (fat is not the enemy)
  • Low sugar natural yogurt or coconut yogurt.  Natural Cathedral Cove Naturals and Raglan Coconut yogurt are both very very low in sugar, but creamy and delicious.
  • Frozen blueberries (to pop into your yogurt, yum)
  • A good nut butter!!!  Fix & Fogg have an amazing chocolate peanut butter that is decadent and delicious
  • A paleo, grain free nut cereal mix for crunch on smoothies or your yogurt
    Clean Paleo Co or Cathedral Cove Naturals are my faves
  • Whole food bars like the ones by Tasti or Tom & Luke
  • Bliss balls (buy or make)
  • Green smoothie ingredients like spinach, kale, kiwifruit, banana, pear and almond milk so you can make yourself a super smoothie any time!

Just a few ideas!  These are things that are always on my grocery list, as well as plenty of veggies and plain old lean meats.

I hope this has been helpful and as usual, hit me up with any questions on Facebookor instagram!

A Family of 4 - The Story of Our Infertility

Tomorrow our gorgeous little boy turns 7. It all of a sudden feels like he's grown up.  A lot of the obvious 'firsts' milestones are behind us, the first steps, teeth, words and sleeping through the night are so long ago now, but I remember them all.  I've paid special attention to everything, because I always knew, that maybe there would be no more.
No more babies, no more toddlers and toilet training, just our one very special boy and I've watched and loved every moment of his life.

We have a new first tomorrow, his very first puppy. Tomorrow we will become a family of four. It's a little different to how I had imagined my family of four, but there are no complaints here. We are so excited to see his face tomorrow when we pick up the puppy!

I'm sure people think I'm crazy, adding a puppy to the mix in our very busy but happy lives. But before you go calling me mad, remember this. It's for Aiden. He is an only child and it looks like it will be staying that way. I want him to have a best friend. I want him to have company, someone to talk to, someone to play with and someone to love, other than us. I wanted that someone to be a sibling, but I am coming to terms with that just not happening for us. It's been a long journey of acceptance, and even now, I'm not ready to say 'it's over', it's too final, and I can't do it.

This is not intended to be a sad story about a woman who can't have a second child. It's a happy story about a woman who got to have one beautiful, amazing child with a man she adores and has decided to share her story about closing the book on a second child.

Infertility is something that I have been very open about in the past, but my openness with my struggles to have Aiden made things even more difficult on me. It was hard to have to report back to people for yet another month that there was no baby on the way. The drugs were hard. It went on for a long time. It was painful, it turned me into a person I don't really ever want to be again - but it was worth it. It was so, incredibly, worth it.

To go on the drugs needed for conception, I lost 22kgs. I did great, but it was for a baby. 100% for a baby, not myself. Mission accomplished.  After Aiden over the years gradually I gained it all back and then some. It's ok, it happens. I put unbelievable, incredible, pressure on myself to lose weight so that I could go back to the specialist and get the drugs for baby #2. So easy right? Just do it Justine, you need to do it. But I just couldn't. Writing this makes me well up. Because now, I've done it, but I've left my run too late.

Losing the weight this time around though, it ended up not being about a baby. It was 100% about me and me needing to change my life for myself and the child I already have, not my future imaginary children. I want to run and play with the one I have already on this earth.

We have our beautiful family, I'm healthy and happy, but it's so easy to want more. Not even for me, but for him, for Aiden. To want that companionship and love that having a brother(s) or sister(s) brings.   Honestly the hardest thing for me is not that I don't get another baby, it's that he doesn't.  I would be lying if I said it didn't upset me. It makes me very sad, but it's not something I want to dwell on.

Having gotten to a place where I could get the drugs, Bill and I talked long and hard about whether this is something we actually wanted. Life is so great, did we need another baby? Suddenly we felt like we actually had a choice. For so long I felt like I had no control, and now, we have control.

We recently went to the fertility specialist and discussed our options.   I got to visit with our specialist who helped us get pregnant the first time, and it was honestly so great, but we walked away with some not great odds.  Due to my age and my ovarian reserves being very low, our chances of conception even with drugs, are at 4%.  It's not great odds.
Still, we left with the drugs almost 4 months ago and decided that 4% was better than none.

The craziest part is, I haven't taken the drugs. I can't tell you why, I don't know why, but I know the prescription sits unfilled.  As strange as it sounds, we're ok with that and I think it's been part of my coming to terms. Even with shitty odds, I still feel like it's my choice whether I take the drugs or not.  I'm OK, and I have a choice and I love our life. The book is closing and I'm ok with that.

So, we're getting a puppy.  It symbolises more than just getting a puppy, it's me letting go a little bit more. I can't let go all at once, but I'm working on it.

PS. Lola our cat is actually part of the family but I felt like Family of 5 just didn't make sense ;)

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The Power of Inertia + Green Beauty & Skincare

I don't like to make New Years Resolutions, just like I don't really like Valentines Day. You should show love every day. You should set goals and smash them every day, not just one day of the year.   So this is not a resolution, more of an accumulation of a bunch of goals that have been evolving and forming in my head since changing our family lifestyle 8 months ago.

One thing leads to another. You start eating food thats better for you, you welcome nutrition and wellness into your life and a positivity inertia happens that starts to build and become bigger.  Start with one thing, then build on it.
Now that I think about it, this has actually been happening to me for months - start, just start on one thing, and then move on to something else - smash those goals. However you need to be careful with the goal setting, if you try to start with goals that are too big, you may resign yourself to failure before you start.

So I started with what was the most important to me, which was my health, and the health of my family.  I changed one habit at a time not only for myself, but our family. Tick, we are doing bloody great and I'm very proud.  I am still learning a lot about food and the effects different things have on the body, but it's a journey and one we are enjoying and seeing the benefits of.   During these changes we started taking a real interest in not only what we are eating, but the quality of the foods we're buying and where are they from. Are they local?  Are they nutritionally dense?

What started as an interest in understanding more about where the food I was eating came from and it's quality, turned into much more.  When you are being so careful about what goes IN your body, all of a sudden, what you are putting ON your body  becomes important too.  Skincare is a great example. Are these products that I'm using on safe?
Is it ethically sourced and how many chemicals are there?

Speaking of chemicals... (nice segway Justine)
.
Something that has happened along the way is that I've started to learn more about the sheer number of chemicals that we use in our every day life and the effect it has on our hormones.  I went to hear Ben Warren speak, and although the health and nutrition information was an awesome affirmation of what I'm already doing, the information about chemicals, fertilisers and plastics was absolutely incredible and a lot of it new to me. In the past I have always shrugged off this kind of thing, but I left that night with a promise that I this was something that I would work on. Having struggled with hormone issues all my life, I made a goal to start getting rid of as much of the plastics and fake oestrogen's as possible. It feels like an unsurmountable task because it's everywhere - the plastics, packaging, skincare, soaps - it's endless, it really is all around us.

Never the less, I have started, and there are things you can do in your householdthat are small but have a big effect. There are within our control and effect our own environment, so when you feel like you can't change the world - stop focusing on the world, and focus on your own back yard, so to speak.  We no longer have any plastic packaging in our panty, except for some new Tupperware (that I can happily confirm is BPA free if manufactured out of NZ or Australia after 2010). I switched to glass jars for everything. And I didn't go out and buy the glass - I re used our coconut yogurt jars from Cathedral Cove Naturals. Win.

We also no longer have any chemical cleaning agents in the kitchen and through most of the house. I invested in some Norwex products that have silver in them, you just clean with the cloth itself, no sprays required. Tick!   It was an investment, I spent around $150 on kitchen cloths, tea towels, window and bathroom cloths - but I now no longer buy cleaning sprays.  We choose hand soaps, shower gels, dishwasher and washing detergent that are all plant based, natural and NZ Made.  There are more and more plant based cost effective options all the time.

I also believe that what you put on your skin as far as skincare and makeup goes is really important. This is really a lesson I think you learn later in life (God, I sounds really old) as you start to realise how important your skin is. And I'm not talking about it being important so you look young. Yes, sure, that's great - but I'm talking about what is seeping in through your pores, likely clogging them, and into your bloodstream.  I can't believe the change in my skin since switching to organic skincare 2 yrs ago, add on top of that the sharp decrease in sugar and my skin is the best I think it has EVER been.

 40 & Loving my skin!

40 & Loving my skin!

So what are the options? Lets just start by saying, please buy cruelty free products. It's not hard to find out if a product or brand you use is cruelty free.  We are very lucky in New Zealand to have some amazing brands that are NZ owned that are organic, vegan, cruelty free and incredible products.   I use both Tailor Skincare and World Organics. Both are great companies with great practices that do not break the bank.
Mineral foundations are also awesome if you don't want to be putting the harsh chemicals on your skin, I use YoungBlood and it's AMAZING.

 Organic Skincare World Organics and Tailor Skincare, plus one of the many eco friendly home products we've switched too - Only Good.

Organic Skincare World Organics and Tailor Skincare, plus one of the many eco friendly home products we've switched too - Only Good.

You may have noticed I've talked a lot about what is available that is made where I live. That's New Zealand. I love it here and I want to support NZ made products from companies that I believe have ethical practices and help our economy!  I feel this is so important. Wherever you live, you should do the same. Support your local farmers, makers, growers and creators.  I completely understand that sometimes it is more expensive to do so and maybe you don't have the excess income to do that, but sometimes it's not and it pays to check.  For me, it's worth paying a little more.

And yeah, sometimes I just go to Kmart like everyone else. That's ok too :)

A Healthy Mind

I talk about headspace a lot when it comes to losing weight. It's been so so important for me to get in to that space where I felt positive and motivated, and able to apply my positive energy and focus to the food I was eating.

I have noticed more and more the trickle effect that it has had. First it was exercise, feeling better in myself meant that I wanted to get out more, use my energy and connect with myself in the peace and quiet whilst taking a walk. The more I did it, the more energy I had and the better I slept. I could finally see what a rut I was in and how different life was now that I was out of it.

The longer I continue on my journey, the more I realise how much more it effects. My relationships with my husband, my son, my friends. Everything. I feel like a completely different person, but I know I am still in such an important phase of discovery.

I speak about balance a lot. Creating the balance in my life that I desperately need. Finding balance in the food I am eating, the one I spend with my family and knowing when to say no. So much of my journey started with the ability to JUST SAY NO or let things go.

This is really important. I have a full time job, and I also own my own small business. The work / life balance struggle is real. I am also lucky enough to be surrounded by strong, incredible women who own their own businesses and also have families. It's inspiring to see my friends grow their passion and businesses, but it often comes at a cost, I know because it's happened to me. It happens so gradually that I think sometimes we don't notice. But our health and ability to recognise stress weakens. We still make sure our families are taken care of, but we forget about ourselves. Sounding familiar?

We as women have so many commitments, it's totally true. Mostly they are things we sign up for because we have the best intentions, or maybe it's just because we feel guilty (little Johnny's school really needs help!), either way, we need to learn to make better decisions. Don't say yes to everything - or make sure in saying yes, it's not detrimental to you or your family.

Saying No is OK.

Here's what I've found. Once you start saying no (whether it's to customers, school or your family) you free up time. Time is SO IMPORTANT. Freeing up valuable time means that maybe, just maybe you'll be able to take some time out for yourself. You'll be able to think. You'll be able to work on being mindful and present because you won't be so rushed and under pressure.

Time is very, very important if you want a healthy mind. Your mind needs space. Your well-being needs time.

I challenge you this week to say no to someone or something. Instead do something for yourself or spend it with your husband, kids or dog - all of the above. Try free up a little of that all important time. I did it this week by inviting my friends to come and sit in my garden with me for a few hours. It was good for the soul and I loved the messages I received from them all saying how much they loved and needed it.

What will you do for you?

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Seeking Balance

Balance. For most of us, balance is like that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We search and search but it always seems to elude us. Life gets busy, we get out of balance, we don't take care of ourselves (on it goes).  Balance is a tricky word that has been used to death for the last few years, because we seem to have figured out it's the key to happiness.

But what is balance?  There in lies the question.

Well, I've got some good news and I've got some bad news.  The bad news is, you're not going to find it.  Sorry, but it's not hiding at the bottom of your underwear draw or in the back of your closet waiting to be found.

You won't find it, because you have the CREATE it.

About 3 months after I started my lifestyle change, my Mum sent me a quote that read:
'Balance is not something you find, it's something you create'.

It was the epiphany of all epiphany's.  Lightbulbs & fireworks were going off in my head. Up until that day, I truly believed I was on a quest to 'find balance'. I realised in that moment I wasn't on a search for balance, I was creating it, day by day.  I felt powerful.
I felt in control, and I've felt that way ever since. Completely liberating!

This is the good news - it's up to you. We need to give up the notion that we're on some kind of treasure hunt.  This is something that is in our control.  We make decisions every day that throw our lives out of balance, and I don't want to sound like a Mum, but you have to learn to make better choices.  I'm always saying this to Aiden, and I got to the point where I knew I needed to do it for myself as well.  Say No sometimes (can you imagine?), do something for yourself or someone else that makes you feel good.
Take time to be grateful, love & laugh, play with your kids, eat nourishing food, fuel yourself.  Your future self will thank you for it, I promise.

This may fall into the category of 'Easier said than done', and I totally get that, I really do. But if not now, when?  Remember that small changes can make a world of difference, make conscious choices, be mindful.   Two years ago I was in an absolutely world of pain when it came to balance in my life. I was so busy I was miserable, I took on too much because I thought I was superwoman.  I was stressed out - ALL that time and all areas of my life and relationships suffered.

Long before my huge change in lifestyle began, I made a series of decisions that ultimately made way for it. I let some things go, I made some pretty big changes, I started to say No -  and once I'd done that, I had enough head space and reflection to know that I needed to make that BIG step.  Without doing those preliminary things, I may still be 27kgs heavier, unhappy in my skin and terribly unhealthy.  Rome wasn't built in a day friends.

I don't have it all figured it out, but I have a lot more figured out than I used to. Life is about progress and making choices.  I'm happy.  When I'm happy, my family is happy - it creates a huge ripple effect.

So ask yourself, what is standing in your way of making that big change?

What things could you change to start creating more balance in YOUR life?

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Magic Potions

I should start by saying I don’t actually believe in magic potions. 

A few weeks ago I noticed something new on my face.  I’m hardly old, but I’m 40 and gravity (I fear) is starting to take hold. There, under my left eye - a bag. A really big one. So, I did what any modern girl would do - I  took to social media to ask for advice on ALL of the magic potions. I got a huge response, especially on Facebook. 
 I got so much great feedback and advice, ranging from ‘honey, there is no magic potion to help you now’, to my favourite ‘Embrace your body’. My Aunt even volunteered ‘If that’s all you have to worry about, then life is good’. Touché.

Out of all this, and peoples legitimate concern that I was going to take to my face with some needles, I would like to clarify something.

Whilst I don’t LOVE my new bag (just one, I only have one so far, we are not into plural yet), I also don’t hate it. 

It’s part of my face.

I actually love my face. If you can’t tell from all the selfies I take, you know now.

For years when I felt overweight and uncomfortable in my body, I never felt ugly. I was the big girl with the pretty face. If I had nothing else, I had that.

I know now that I had more than that, and it's a shitty way to think about yourslef, but this is what happens to overweight young girls. So much value is put on your body from an aesthetic point of view rather than health. Us chubby teens learn(t) to rely on other things, like big shiny personalities and pretty faces.   

Like being a good sister, daughter, Aunt & friend. 

Like being kind, funny and generous. 

Larger than life. 

This face made me feel confident to do all of those things and I knew my smile made other people smile, and that was important to me.   

So my face falling a little and creating a few bags doesn’t actually concern me that much. It’s part of who I am, and sorry to be cliché, but I’ve earned the lines and bag (*singular). I’ve done a lot of smiling and laughing in my lifetime so far, and if the payoff is some lines and bags then I'll take it. 

Now back to my original post - I found it really interesting hearing what skincare regime people use. I never put much value or importance on skincare when I was younger, but in the past 3-4yrs I have finally started paying attention.  

What started it was having my friend Jenna, who is a beautician and a bit of a skincare superstar, come to my home and teach my friends and I about organic skincare and how we should be caring for our skin. I have never ever been interested in science or biology, but listening to her talk about the effects of the things we put on our skin made me a believer, and I am now organic all the way!  I have been using organic products ever since. 

My next experiment is changing over my current skincare to a brand I have heard so many amazing things about, Tailor Skincare. This is an organic, NZ made, vegan range that I started using just one or two products of a while back, have absolutely LOVED, so now I'm taking the plunge to swap over my entire regime.  Their product 'Hydrate' has made such a huge difference to my skin so I'm keen to see what happens when I'm using it exclusively. 

So no magic potions - but good skincare is a must, as is making sure you're being kind to yourself from the inside out! Drink lots of water, stay away from foods you know are so bad for you. Also important is pampering yourself once in a while. Today I am heading to Jenna's amazing space, Beautea in Fitzroy, to be spoilt with a facial.  Self love is important and facials are at the top of my list! 

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Participation

Yesterday was a milestone for me - and it was not at all scale related.  It's what I call a non scale related win!  Not all milestones are about the next kilo lost, sometimes they are things that happen as a result of the weight loss - like fitting an old pair of jeans, someone complimenting you or noticing that your habits have changed.  It's not all about the scales.

One of my biggest motivations for losing weight that I've been very open about is wanting to participate.  To be able to run around with my very active 6yr old boy, instead of always watching from a chair or the kitchen window.   I want to play without being out of breath and uncomfortable, I want him to grow up with memories of me being there, not on the sideline.

Bill is the active one, he always does the active things with Aiden. Yesterday at our little school cross country, after all of the races, the kids were told to grab a parent to do a run around the field. It's one of those feel good parent participation activities that the kids love.  Anyway, Aiden automatically went to Bill, it hadn't occurred to him that I would run.  So I said, "Hey buddy, can I run too?".  Aidens face lit up, his little hand grabbed mine and he couldn't get me to that start line quick enough.

I don't think I will ever forget that moment, or the feeling, or the look on his face.  I almost burst into tears right there and then, but I was too happy.  His face, it was pride, I had made him proud and he was so happy in that moment.

So I ran!  I ran all the way around. I participated.  Bill & Aiden ended up leaving me for dust (they had a race to win!) but I paced myself and ran (almost) the whole way.  OK so there was about a 10 second pause half way, but you get the idea.

When I got to the finish line the boys were there cheering and handing out high fives. It was a wonderful moment.

To everyone else it was just a feel good kid activity, no one paid much attention, but for me it was a big deal, it was a big day and a massive achievement.

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The Big Two-Oh!

Today I reached a milestone, one that puts a big smile on my face. 20kgs weight loss. TWENTY KILOGRAMS.  Wahoo!
To put things into perspective, my 6yr old son weighs 22kgs. I've practically lost the equivalent of a 6yr old child, an entire human.  It's a lot, and I'm proud.

I feel great. I feel better than great actually.  I feel liberated, free and without worry about this anymore. I used to spend so much time worrying about my weight, how I looked, how my body felt - it used to creep into my conscience all the time and I would push it out and try to ignore it. And now it doesn't.

The biggest difference I have noticed, aside from the obvious physical things, is the removal of negative self talk. I'm a pretty good person, at least I try to be, so I don't usually beat myself up about much to do with how I live my life, but I was ALWAYS beating myself up about my body, and about my lack of ability to do something about my current situation. I would lie in bed at night and talk myself into 'starting tomorrow' and give myself a good stern talking to. And then I wouldn't. And then I would get mad at myself and the negative self talk and cruel things I would say to myself would start.

Negative feeds negative and once you get into that cycle, it's really hard to get out of.    For me it was STARTING, and making changes that started the positive cycle and it eventually drowned out the negative. It's so much easier to be positive if you are making positive changes and choices you know are going to make a difference.

I get people congratulating me as 'it must be so hard'. I'll be honest with you, really honest. Spoiler alert. It's not been hard. It does not have to be hard. I have not limited myself, deprived myself, gone hungry or gone on binges and had to get myself back on some imaginary wagon.  There is no wagon.

I changed the way I thought.

I opened up my mind to trying new things and have been on an amazing path of food discovery - learning about nutrition and things that taste delicious that are also so good for me (who knew?!).

I changed the way I viewed weightloss and health.

I changed the way I thought about sustainability and the future, I want this to LAST.  There is no short term goal or event that I am doing this for. THIS IS MY LIFE.

I want to be strong and able.  I want to participate.  I want a better quality of life.

These are all really really important things to me.

Life changing things.

justine20kgs

You Are Not Alone

This is not a Michael Jackson song. I know it sounds like one, and it's deep, but stick with me here.

I have received so many private messages on Facebook & instagram this week from people just like me who are (were) stuck. Stuck. In. A. Rut.  Feeling helpless, feeling like they are making the same mistakes over and over again, feeling like they don't know where to start - or HOW to start.   What I am writing, and the journey that I am on is speaking to people and that means a huge deal to me. The messages I receive are in private and you don't see them, but they are there, and do you want to know what is funny? You are all writing almost exactly the same thing.

I want you to understand something really important.  You are not alone. There is such a common thread among all of us, we are all woman with busy lives who have fallen out of taking care of ourselves. I say fallen out because I assume it's like falling out of love, it just happens.  What's done is not done forever, you can make changes any time, you don't have to be stuck in the rut. Reaching out to someone is the best thing you can do.

In these messages, the main questions I get are about food. What am I eating? What have I banned? Are my portions different? What have I restricted? What am I have for lunch every day. I know it sounds like an utterly stupid statement - but it's not about the food. Ladies, it is not about the food.
Of course, what I am putting in my mouth has a huge impact on my weight and my success, but it's the WHY that is the most important, not the WHAT.   Being mindful of what you're eating, taking care about what is going into your body - that is the key.  Having your head in a place where you WANT to care for yourself is what it's about, and the rest will follow. I make choices so differently now than I did before, I no longer 'act now make up for it later', I'm thinking about what I'm doing. 

Once you start to be mindful and THINK about what you are eating, it makes such a huge difference.  Someone very smart said to me, the next time you are going to make a less than good decision when it comes to food, think about why you are eating it, don't necessarily stop yourself, just be aware. And once you've eaten it, did it make you feel better? Did it solve your problem?

I can tell you what I'm eating, I can make recommendations based on what I believe and what has worked for me (honestly, I'm happy to if you need a nudge in the right direction), but you all know already what works for you (and your family).
I KNEW that I shouldn't be eating so much bread and sugars, I 100% knew it but I did it anyway out of convenience and laziness. I knew fast and processed foods were not great. That is the honest truth.   I knew I was 'treating' myself every damn day with crap food that was actually making me miserable, and I thought it was making me happy.   It's not making you happy.   It's doing the opposite.

I know I talk a lot about your headspace and how important it is - but I also don't want you to overthink this.  You don't need a rock bottom like I did, you don't need this all encompassing 'reason' to start, it's different for everyone. In reality all you need to want to do is change, and I know that you already do.

Write a list of things or habits, things that you know you could change.  They can be small things or they can be big things. Just start at number 1 and every few days move on to the next thing.  You don't have to build it up to be a big start day like the ever famous 'I'll start on Monday'. Just start today or tomorrow, like Kylie, who is not having bikkies at work this week (she told me so just today).  

Be like Kylie and START. Make a change - just one and before you know it you'll be crossing off goals. 

 

An Interview with Alex

I am loving the feedback I am getting through instagram and facebook. What a supportive community, you guys are so awesome! I’ve also started receiving messages asking what I’m doing differently, what changes I’ve made, what I'm eating and how I’m losing the weight.  Although the weight is coming off quickly, there are no quick fixes here this time around. I am not interested in programs, plans, diets and things that are not sustainable FOR ME.  I emphasize ‘for me’ as I think it’s really important to recognize that different things work for different people.  I know people who have had huge successes doing programs that I have failed at, so I know they just weren’t for me, and that's OK.

I’m freely giving my advice for what is working for me, and I find it hugely helpful to write about it and share my successes, but I’m no expert. Not by a long shot.  If you read my blog post called ‘The Switch’, you will know there has been a very important person who has played a huge part in my change in mindset. It was the right person, at the right time, when I was feeling at my lowest and most receptive to help.  His name is Alex.  If you haven't read that post, I suggest you do before reading this one.
From the number of messages I have been receiving from people in the same situation (stuck in a rut), it's clear to me there are so many of us on this journey, and we could all use a little Alex help.

I decided to ask Alex if he would answer a few questions about this process, in hopes that his answers can help you as much as he’s been able to help me.

Alex, first of all, tell us what you do!

First and foremost I'm a dad and husband :)
My profession is a health and fitness coach.

I help a wide range of people set and achieve their personal goals - my clients include kids, mums, dads, grans and grandfathers... right through to world champion professional athletes.

I know the subject is complex, but if you could give only 3 pieces of advice to someone wanting to make a big change in their life, what would they be?

  1. Get to the very bottom of if and why making the change is important to them.
    This is crucial. For many of us we 'like' the idea of changing but when it comes down to doing the hard yards, simply liking the idea of change won't cut it.
    We have to find a very personal burning desire and a true real reason to change... "find your WHY"Without a reason that's close to your heart, success is unlikely.

    When the going gets tough, simply relying on will power won't cut it. We must be able to draw on the strength of your WHY.

  2. Come to terms with your weaknesses and failings and be at peace with them. They are the things that have held you back in the past and they will continue to do so if you don't deal with them in the future.It's ok to have faults and less than perfect behaviours.Acknowledging them, understanding them, talking about them with other people who care about you are all major parts of moving past these.When these weaknesses reoccur from time to time..  (and trust me they will) DONT beat yourself up about it. Acknowledge that behaviour or action occurred and then just work on finding a better replacement healthy behaviour that you will enjoy just as much.
  3. Practise mindfulness. We are all creatures of habit and long term behaviour change is very difficult.One of the major things we must do is start to listen to our inner voice and understand our own feelings and behaviours. Doing this willAllow us to better understand why we make the choices that we make. Then it becomes possible to foresee situations before they arise.Foresight allows us time to formulate ways to deal to behaviours and habits, before they happen. Being a victim to circumstance is a sure fire way to fail.

What are some common mistakes that people make when trying to change their lifestyle?

  1. Following unrealistic programs. Anything which is too drastic, hard core, too time consuming or restrictive will never be sustainable long term and is therefore pointless in starting in the first place.
  2. Trying to change too much at once - we must take small steps. Focus on mastering just one simple thing and then layering other small steps one by one on top. Behavioural Research shows that this is a far more successful long term approach.
  3. Not asking themselves the question "can I see myself doing this in 1, 5, 10 years time?"

Change must be lifestyle based. If you honestly don't see yourself continuing long-term with the approach you have adopted, you will likely eventually end up back where you started.

Moral of the story... if you don't enjoy it... it won't last.

How important is exercise?

Exercise is a very individual one. Nutrition is definitely 85-90% of the puzzle, but the correct type of exercise added to a great nutrition plan will certainly help to speed things up and get you looking your best.

Long term, exercise is great for your cardiovascular health and can help to

Delay the aging process, so I definitely recommend adopting some vigorous exercise 3-4 times per week for 20-40mins.

The biggest effect of exercise is its long term contribution to keeping weight off.

A weekly schedule including some smart, short but intense full body heavy weight training sessions topped up with some time outside - brisk walking a few times per week are a great place to start :)

Just One Thing

I have had a lot of questions come my way since I started My Balance Project. Mostly from people I know, but some through instagram that I don’t.  These are woman who are feeling the same as I was a little while ago, stuck in a rut. A bad one. It’s an easy cycle to get in to, negativity feeds negativity and before you know it you’re just feeling shit about yourself all the time.  What has worked for me?  Well, here is my secret.

I started.

Once I STARTED, I felt good. I felt positive. I made changes - only small ones, that turned into big ones, and the results started to come freely.  The positive started to drown out the negative, and I found myself in a positive cycle - not a negative one.   Once you get to a place where you get results (and I don’t just mean on the scales), the positivity takes over.  For me it wasn’t even the first weight loss, it was the very first day that I made the change in my head, when I committed to doing it and somehow I knew I would.

My start was committing to ONE change of habit - JUST ONE THING.  So on that first day  I said 'OK Justine, we are not eating chocolate or cake for the next few days'.  It's not daunting, it's a simple, easy task that is easily achievable and I did  it. No chocolate or fizzy at the gas station for me - win!  Then I chose another one thing, and kept on repeating this cycle every few days.

When you set big goals it can be really really daunting, and I often think that we give up before we've begun. With me, for example, I need to lose at least 25-30kgs. That is a huge amount of weight and it seems impossible. You feel like you're not going to feel good until you get there (your goal) because you are so driven by the weight.
But here's the thing - if you just start with that one thing, or that one habit, you start to feel good almost immediately. Then it is that feeling that propels you forward and you start being driven by something other than the scales.   This is such an important thing - it can't be all about the scales, just like it can't be all about the food.

Because of this, one of my bigger changes was how often I weighed myself.  I was doing it every day.  I've gone back and forth over the years between doing it daily and having a set day each week. I became OBSESSED!   Well, no longer. As strange as it sounds, I'm doing it at random, at least 3-4 days apart.

Don't get me wrong, I jump for joy when I've dropped a kilo. It is so satisfying knowing that what you are doing is getting results.  But, weighing yourself too often or on only a certain day I think runs the risk of building bad behaviours around those days.
When I was on weight watchers, the Thursday weigh in was terrible!  I wouldn't eat hardly all day (bad) and then would have something I knew I shouldn't straight after - because I had a whole week to make it up right?  Wrong.  I knew I was only cheating myself, but I couldn't get myself out of that cycle because I wasn't really making the right kind of changes for me.

Remember that there are other rewards that aren't scales related - fitting an old pair of jeans, feeling that slack on the plane seatbelt, being able to tie your shoes better (yes, this is one of my successes although I'm almost embarrassed to admit it!!!), walking further, having ENERGY!  These are all huge wins that you need to recognise.

Everyone's journey will be different, and different things drive different people, so set your own goals. If you really think about it, you KNOW the answers already.  You know what works for you, you know what you are doing 'wrong'. Am I right?

Just one thing for now, you can do that, right?

J xx

The Switch

I’m not really sure what happened to me. Maybe it was that I’d hit rock bottom. Maybe my clothes were too tight on me for the last time. Maybe I was just really receptive that day. Maybe I had just had enough of feeling bad about myself. Like, really had enough.

‘That day’ is the day I had a little chat with my friend Alex. Something changed in me that day and the switch was flicked. Call me crazy, but I feel very different now to what I did three weeks ago. And it’s not that I look different (yet) but it’s how I feel that has changed dramatically.

Alex is a personal trainer, although I feel like that title doesn’t really do justice to what it is that he does. He works with people on their physical and mental wellbeing and is just an all round awesome guy. He owns his own gym in Auckland and is at the absolute top of his game. Let me tell you, when it comes to anything to do with the human body, he knows his shit. He is married to one of my close friends and I’ve known him a long time.

Three weeks ago I reached out to him wanting some help. HELP ME.
I didn’t scream it at him, but I may as well have. I was feeling pretty desperate and low.

So we had a conversation over facebook messenger, it was 8pm and he just asked me a lot of questions and this went on for almost 2 hrs. Seemingly random questions, but I’m going to bet this wasn’t his first rodeo. The questions ranged from what I was eating, how I was feeling, what I wanted, and where I was going. What did success look like to me? The order of these questions was not a mistake, I’m fairly sure of it. As the conversation went on, he asked me some hard questions about myself and before I knew it, I was crying answering them.  I cried a lot that night. I'm not talking had a wee cry and then went on with my night. I ugly cried for a long time. I went to bed and showed Bill the messages, and then I cried some more.  Something had really changed for me.

I LET GO.

I let go of all of the negative, all the hurt, all the guilt and all of the pain that I had been carrying with me behind my very big smile. I can tell you right now, it was freeing. It felt amazing. He said something so important to me that I wrote about in my first blog.
"You must forgive yourself and stop holding yourself to ransom".
I woke up the next day and I feel as I do today – VERY positive and wanting to make positive change and get back that balance I’ve been missing.

It’s been three weeks since that conversation, we have had a few more since, but it was that one night that made the difference for me. There is something to be said for being open and receptive – I’m sure said to me on another night in another mood I may not have had the same reaction.

I have changed a lot of habits which I thought would be hard, and haven’t been at all. I even did some things by accident, like stopped eating bread. I usually eat bread every single day, I’m a bread lover from way back. I’m not going to make bold statements like ‘I don’t eat bread now’ (lets not get crazy), I just haven’t in the past few weeks. I will again, I’m sure, but I know for me It’s not something I should have all the time, so I’ve made changes to turn it back into a sometimes food, not an all the time food.

For me the big change is this - I am done with quick fixes.I am done with doing things drastically and quickly and not being able to maintain them. I am done feeling guilty about food. Lets say this again and I want you to say it with me – I am done feeling guilty about food.   I’m going to concentrate on making good choices and eating the best things for MY body, and trust me, I know it’s different for everyone.

So team, this post was to explain my big, sudden turn around. But really, it wasn’t that sudden, it’s been a LONG time coming.

The Little Things

Sometimes it's the littlest things that bring you the biggest rewards and sense of achievement.

Today I am flying to Brisbane, Australia, to see one of my dearest friends. We are celebrating turning 40! 

My first flight takes me from New Plymouth (my home town) to Auckland. The planes are small (ish) and the seats aren't very forgiving. 

Usually my seat belt will barely close. I get offended and ashamed thinking about it - surely I am not the largest person that travels?! It is awful to ask for an extender, it really is. It's not a nice position to be in.

This morning I put on my outfit for the day - which included a pair of black jeans that have not fit me for over a year (at least!) and a new top. I've got swag today, let me tell you.

At the Air NZ lounge I ignored all those tinny tiny delicious slices they have on offer. Not today in my skinny jeans thanks. 

I boarded my flight and for the first time in a long time, there it was. Slack. A good 4 inches of slack my friends, I even got to pull the excess through to tighten. What a feeling! 

I said to myself, you're doing something right girl and off I flew. 

Take the little wins, they are worth just as much as the big ones. 

The Photos on the Wall

Yesterday I went through my Facebook photos in search of full length photos of myself to share on instagram and after scrolling through thousands of photos (literally) I could only find about 5.  I was really disappointed with myself.   I say I've been confident but really I haven't.

I might be overweight and a size 22, but I know how to dress for my size and I love fashion. I buy lots (too many) of cute dresses and I couldn't believe there weren't any photos of me wearing them.  It's taken me close to two decades to feel comfortable in what I wear, and it's still a struggle sometimes.

In my late teens and early 20's I always wanted to look good but looking back I was uncomfortable in my skin, not feeling like I looked like everyone else.  At the time, I didn't have friends who were any where near my size, so I felt like I stood out in whatever I was wearing. I told myself it didn't matter - because honestly, it didn't. We would go out and have fun, dance and drink the night away. They were my best friends, and still are - they didn't see size.

I met my husband when I was 22 and at my heaviest. I could write a bloody novel about all the things he taught me about acceptance and love, but it would be an awfully long read.  Lets just say, he loved me for who I was.  We were married at 23, and I spent the next 7yrs living in Canada with him.  Oh Canada!  You had shops that had plus size clothing and OPTIONS. Something I was not used to. I was on a major budget as we were pretty much dead broke (living off love as they say), but finally I could buy things that were made for my shape and my confidence in wearing clothes grew.   I made friends with girls from work who were also plus size, I could finally actually go shopping with friends and go to the same stores and buy the same things.  I grew to love fashion.

When I was pregnant with Aiden I started wearing dresses. I LOVE dresses but I always thought I looked like a house.  While I was pregnant I just thought F*$^ it, I'm hot and huge and dresses are comfortable, and wouldn't you know it, I actually looked good!  These days I wear dresses most of the summer, and some of the winter. I love vintage dresses, long, mid length, floral, patterned, polka dots - you name it I have it!  The big difference is - now I OWN what I'm wearing.  I know I am the size I am, but I still want to look good and there's no point in hiding away your shape.  Hence my disappointment when I tried to find some photos of myself wearing said fabulous dresses, and they were few and far between.

So this stops today!  I found this photo below of Aiden and I that Bill took, and I remember clearly asking him to come closer so that it was just waist up. He said no, you look great, and took the photo.  Photos like this of me out doing things with my son are important, big bum and all.  Because you know what? He doesn't see a big bum, he only sees a Mum he loves.

 

Be Nice to Yourself

Last night I did a post about my blog and the start of my journey on Facebook to all my friends and family.  I don't know why I am always surprised when people are so supportive and lovely, but I am genuinely overwhelmed by the kindness people have shown.  So many of you gave encouraging words, and some even messaged me privately.   Thank you, it made me feel really positive! I've thought a lot about whether or not putting myself out there on social media and a blog was a good idea, am I just setting myself up for disappointment?  Maybe I shouldn't overshare everything in my life for a change, and do it quietly.
Maybe. But I've come to realise, that THIS is how I get support, this is how I reach out. This is how I communicate a lot of the time. I'm not asking for validation - I'm asking for support and I think there is a huge difference between the two.

Anyway, back to Facebook. OK, so when I did my post, I started it with these words:
"Here's the thing. I'm kicking myself in the ass.
Like, a good, firm, what are you doing with your life kick in the ass."
I went on to explain what I was doing, why I was doing it, and gave everyone the link to my very first blog post.  I clicked 'Post' and sent it out into the universe.

Later on after I posted it and was reading through peoples' comments, I was thinking about the words I had used to describe my intention, starting with 'a firm kick up the ass'. I had it totally wrong.  This whole change in my mindset is actually about doing the OPPOSITE of kicking myself in the ass or beating myself up.

I don't need to beat myself up anymore.

I've done it enough and it's time to stop.  We all do it right?  Constantly lecturing ourselves as we lay in bed late at night, making promises about tomorrow and what we will do differently.  I spend too much time feeling bad about all the things I'm not doing right, instead of congratulating myself on the things I do well.   It's time we just get past bad decisions and choices and just commit to make better ones and move forward.  I have forgiven myself and all my mistakes and it's time to move on and just do the best I can.

Be nice to yourself people - we all make mistakes, we are all doing our best. Most importantly, just because you've made choices that might not be the best, you can change that.  We all have choices. We all have the ability to make CHANGE and better choices.

The First Time - An Introduction

Hello There!

Introductions are always so awkward, so lets just get it out of the way. I'm Justine. Busy Mum of one beautiful boy, Aiden. He is 6, and as you will quickly come to realise, he is my world. Pretty much, all of it.  I have been married for (almost) 15 wonderful years to Bill, he is also my world. I think you're starting to get the picture. We live in Taranaki, NZ and have 1 cat, 5 chickens, 2 fish, 1 goat, 1 sheep and 1 turtle. Life is a little crazy sometimes.

I am at the start of an ongoing project to better myself.  I'm overweight - I said it! I know it. I have been most of my adult life and I'm actually ok with that. I've always been confident and had good self esteem (thanks Mum & Dad), but about 10 yrs ago the extra weight I was carrying turned negative. It was stopping me from having a baby. A baby that I very desperately wanted. I have PCOS, a hormonal syndrome that prevents me from ovulating and makes it hard to lose weight. To be honest, I've probably used it as an excuse too much. It's not a nice thing to have, but it's certainly not the worst. Anyway, about 8 yrs ago I lost 23kgs to do the required fertility treatment I needed to have a baby. YAY me!  After a very rough year of treatment (more about that later) we were blessed with Aiden. For the first time ever, after having Aiden I really didn't care about my weight. My body had bought him into the world and I felt it had a much bigger purpose than looking good in jeans. Plus I was just so freaking happy and busy with a newborn, it was not a priority. I gained 10kgs during my pregnancy. No biggie.

Over the past 5 yrs, since then, I've gained another 12kgs. I let it happen - it's a long story but taking on too much and believing I was superwoman led me to not looking after myself AT ALL. Aiden came first, my home business second, Bill (my long suffering, amazing husband!), then my day job and coming in dead last – me. Not ideal. The business, by the way, was making cakes and cupcakes (also really not ideal, willpower was non existent).

I was unhappy.  I was stressed, all the time. I was juggling so many balls I didn't know which way was up half the time.  Things had to change, and they did. I've made some significant changes in my life over the past year and some of the major obstacles that were in my way are no longer there. There are no more excuses.  Since letting go of my baking business I’ve found that I’m better at my job, better as a parent, wife and friend.

I turn 40 (and fabulous) in 2 months.  I'm not where I want to be health wise. I want to be able to run around with my son and do the outdoor activities that I love with my family without being out of breath or just not being able to do it. I want to feel good. I want to be a good example for Aiden. I want to look good.  And here it is, here's the big one! Lets just put it out there.

I want a baby.

I want a sibling for Aiden. If I'm being honest the pressure of this wish has paralysed me (no weight loss = no baby) for these past five years, and it's time to let it go. So this is me, letting it go. No more holding myself for ransom.  I've had quite the week, with all this letting go business.
Don't feel bad for me, this isn't a pity party. I actually have a ridiculously cool life, in all honesty I love it. I think I am actually ok if a baby doesn't happen (believe it or not), I feel like I have gotten to be a mother and I am so grateful for that. Lets face it, I may have left my run too late, but in the spirit of living with no regrets - I want to be able to say that I tried everything I could to provide that for Aiden.  A bigger family aside, I also just want to be a better version of myself for the child I already have.

So there it is. It's a lot - I know.

So, welcome. This blog is about me. It's about trying to find balance, making positive changes, and being present.  It's about finding other people on the same journey in the hopes that we can help each other, sharing nutrition tips, motivating each other to get off the couch and hey, I want to look bloody fabulous while doing it.