Embracing (and my big boobs)

Last night, I had the honour of co-hosting 250 people at a special community screening of the documentary Embrace. It was a truly magical event. All of us came together to share the positive energy in the room and to soak in Taryn’s message of body acceptance.

Embrace movie poster

250 is a big number – but it would be wonderful if the message could spread out to reach a wider audience. And the good news is that EMBRACE is now available to watch on Netflix and to download on iTunes – so you can gather up your family and friends and watch the movie in the privacy of your own home!

I had the privilege of opening the evening with a personal story and I thought I’d share it with my readers:

For those of you who don’t know me – my name is Lori Wilson and I want to welcome you here tonight and thank you for supporting this event.

Before we get started, I want to share a little story:

A few months ago, I hopped out of the shower and I scooted into my bedroom with nothing on but a towel around my hair. My teenage daughter just happened to by lying on my bed watching TV and she turned to look at me. Her eyes scanned me up and down and her mouth fell open – “Oh my god mom!” she started.

I braced myself. How was she going to finish that sentence? Was she going to comment on my blubbery belly? Was she going to gag at my saggy butt or my dimply thighs (that definitely don’t have the obligatory gap between them). Was she going to use the dreaded f-word….FAT! I stood there totally vulnerable.

 I steeled myself in the moment and waited for what was coming. My daughter said – “Oh my god mom! Your boobs are huge! I wonder if mine will be that big one day too?” And she turned back to her tv show.

 I had to chuckle to myself. My boobs! She looked my body up and down and her only comment was on my boobs.

I realized two things in that moment. One – when my daughter looks at me – she isn’t seeing the glaringly imperfect person I’ve constructed in my own mind. She is seeing her mom – a woman with big boobs apparently.

And two- despite the fact that I am passionate about promoting healthy body image, I devour whatever reading I can get my hands on on the subject and I preach it to my kids – if I’m being perfectly honest, I am still deeply unhappy with my body. I catch myself hating how my pants fit or cringing when I pass a mirror. Or recoiling with horror when I go to take a picture with my iphone and the camera is pointed right at me!

And having talked with many of you – I know I’m not alone. I think I could comfortably speak for all of us in this room in saying we all know that we should be accepting, but we have a long way to go in making that shift happen.

That is why we wanted to share this film with you. We want to start that shift in our own mindsets and we want to support this shift happening for our friends, family members and all the females in our lives.

And though one movie might not fix the years of reprogramming that we likely need, it’s a great place to start. 

Enjoy the film! Let’s Embrace!

*If you are interested in building upon a local EMBRACE community – email embracelori@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.


Last summer we took our kids to a waterpark. It was a stinkin’ hot day and we had a blast zipping down slides and cooling off in the wave pool. At one point, my husband and the older kids decided to try a toilet-bowl style ride geared for an older crowd, so my littlest and I stood at the bottom waiting for them to poop out into the basin below.

As we watched the riders happily splash down in front of us, little K pulled on my arm and pointed to a child exiting the water nearby – “Hey mommy, I don’t like that girl” he stated . “Why not?” I asked. I’d never seen her before. “Because she’s fat” he answered matter-of-factly.

I just about fell over backwards! Body image has been the monkey on my back for as long as I can remember, and I’ve worked hard to overcome my own insecurities and to foster an environment of acceptance and kindness within my own family. And goddamn it – no child of mine was going to shame someone because of the shape of their body!

I knelt down and spent the next ten minutes lecturing my son about the beauty in all body shapes and the importance of never, ever judging other people. Trust me, he got an earful. He listened intently, then ran off with his siblings to enjoy another slide. “Crazy kid” I mumbled to myself. I figured he must have picked up that nonsense on television.

Then a few months later I had dinner with a group of girlfriends- all of them brilliant, beautiful women with high-powered careers, incredible families, strong opinions and the passion and means to affect change in the world.

And yet. Our conversations that night kept coming back to the same thing – body image. We shared stories of how weight has impacted our sex lives, and contributed to feeling too physically disgusting to appear naked in front of our spouses – even with the lights off. We talked about caloric intake and the restrictive cleanses we’d endured – all the while feeling sick and deprived. We discussed our boobs (too small, too big, too saggy) and our butts (too big, too small, too saggy) – and we even dissected our individual diets and compared notes about what foods and drinks (or lack thereof) would help us achieve thinner, happier, sexier, less-wrinkly versions of ourselves.

As I laughed and commiserated and chimed in, something struck me: that friggin’ monkey is still clinging stubbornly to my back. Because for all of my lip service about acceptance and self love – a really big part of me still believes that being thin is equated with being better. And the fact that I have droopy post-nursing boobs and a squishy belly – in my own mind, ultimately means that I am losing at womanhood..and at life.

Then I came across a “before and after” photo on social media that changed my whole perspective. Taryn Brumfitt posted side-by-side images of herself posing with a muscular body-builders physique (before) and then with a softer, curvier body (after). It was revolutionary!


Here was a woman actually showing off her curves, and rolls, and stretch marks. Proudly! Her impish smile belied the fact that she was actually HAPPIER with her less-toned and heavier body. My mind was blown.

I learned that Taryn had gone on a crusade to  uncover “why poor body image has become a global epidemic and what women everywhere can do to have a brighter future.” She turned her findings into a documentary called Embrace “A funny, touching, at times gut wrenching but above all, life changing documentary, the heart of Embrace is Taryn’s story. How she went from a body hater to a body lover. From being devastated by her perceived ugliness to proudly posing nude for the whole world to see.”

I downloaded Embrace as soon as it was released and sobbed my heart out through almost the entire thing. I could relate to so many of the women in the film who shared feelings of inadequacy and failure when discussing their bodies, and I felt inspired to make a change.

So can I do it? Can I move my body in an effort to be strong and healthy without obsessing over the calories I’ve burned, or whether or not I’ll be able to squeeze into my old jeans after a long run? Can I enjoy food without worrying about each and every bite? Can I show my children that I am a confident and fully-actualized woman no matter what size my body is? I honestly don’t know. But I am willing to try. And Embrace is the perfect place to start.

Taryn - ornament

I am beyond thrilled to be co-hosting a special community screening of the life-changing/perspective-shifting/monkey-on-back-destroying documentary Embrace – right here in Burlington, Ontario.

Please join me and my friends Sue Abell and Joelle Cooling on Thursday, June 1st at 7pm at the Art Gallery of Burlington . Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase by contacting me directly at lori@vaportek.ca, or by emailing Sue at sue@treadpowerfully.com, or by visiting Joelle’s clothing store at 457 Brant Street in downtown Burlington.

Come and enjoy a glass of wine, a bag of popcorn and an opportunity to fully love and embrace your body. Together – we can be part of a movement to create positive global change. Let’s Embrace!

On Judging Other Women

We are die-hard Dancing With The Stars Fans at my house. On Monday nights we excitedly retire to the basement with drinks and popcorn in hand to revel in two solid hours of ballroom bliss. We love the incredible dancing, the relationships that form between partners, the personal stories that unfold and the fun of watching the pros work their magic on novice celebrity dancers.

Recently we were enjoying a DWTS episode when I made a flippant comment about the way plastic surgery has altered the face of one of my favourite childhood actresses. My daughter immediately took me to task: “What do you mean mom? I don’t see anything wrong with her face. She’s pretty.”

I immediately regretted my words. I work hard to practice acceptance and kindness (with varying degrees of success apparently) and here I was mouthing off about another woman. How can I expect my daughter to be non-judgemental with her peers if I am so darn quick to jump in to comment on the private decisions that another woman has made about her appearance?

I quickly apologized for my thoughtless words and admitted that my daughter was absolutely correct – the actress is pretty….and she is also fully entitled to do whatever the heck she wants to her own face and body. Because the truth of the matter is that it is only out of the insecurities I have about my own aging face and body that I would dare to pass such critical judgement on another woman.

This incident reminded me of a powerful blog post written by one of my favourite authors in the world- Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). I have this post printed out and I have read it and reread it and reread it again. And I will keep on re-reading it until the message is fully embedded in my far-from-perfect, sometimes-judgemental and often insecure brain. It is an incredibly powerful piece and reminds me that as women we need to embrace our differences and accept each other just as we are. And that goes for our friends, our family, strangers,  celebrities and every single one of the actresses on Dancing With The Stars.

**(follow the link below to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s piece. Email subscribers – you may need to go to my site at http://www.lorileighwilson.com to click the link)



The Hidden Toxins in Beauty Care & How to Ditch Them

There were 3 girls in my house growing up and as you can imagine -we went through a TON of personal care products. There was the shower full of soaps, 2-in-1 shampoos and Neet hair removal cream (Pert Plus and Dial were my favs), the vanity with a huge assortment of face washes, toners, deodorant, Biore nose strips, toothpaste, hair gels and mouthwash AND our own makeup bags stuffed to overflowing with cosmetics and nail polishes. And I always liked to top things off with a generous spritz of The Body Shop vanilla perfume just to seal the deal. Hey it took a lot of work to look this fabulous!

Lori Picture

What I didn’t know back then was that each of those items that made my hair shine, my pimples fade and my nails gleam fluorescent purple were loaded with toxic chemicals. In fact, it wasn’t until I set about changing my diet 6 years ago that occurred to me what I put on my body is just as important as what I put into it. Perhaps even more important since the things we eat are filtered through our organs of elimination (kidneys, liver, bowels) but the junk we smear on our skin is simply absorbed right into our bodies. Yeesh!

The clearest and best way I’ve seen to get my head around this stuff is by watching Annie Leonard’s 8-minute video “The Story of Cosmetics”. Check it out below:

(*email subscribers – click the link above or go to my site at www.lorileighwilson.com to view the video)

Of course I want the safest and best alternatives for myself and my family but at the same time I don’t want to resort to letting my hair hang in greasy coconut oil covered strands or staining my lips and cheeks with beet juice to achieve a healthy glow. So what can I do? Believe it or not there are some really amazing and effective natural alternatives that will meet all of our cosmetic needs while still keeping us as healthy as possible. Here are 5 suggestions to get you started:

1. Read Gillian Deacon’s book “There’s Lead in Your Lipstick” – Broadcaster and environmental activist Gillian Deacon wrote this compelling book after undergoing treatment for breast cancer. It’s an invaluable resource because she not only outlines all of the hazardous chemicals and their potential side effects but also lists natural and effective alternatives by brand name.

theres lead in your lipstick

2. Download the free app “Think Dirty”– Developed by a young Canadian entrepreneur, this free app is a life saver when you are shopping for the healthiest products to use on your body. Simply enter the product or scan the URL and you will immediately get the list of ingredients with a ranking from 1-10 (10 being the worst). The “Dirty Meter” will rate the products ingredients in terms of their Carcinogenicity, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity and Allergies & Immunotoxicities. And they even offer up greener and more natural alternatives!


3. Ask questions & Source Out Greener Salons – have you ever wondered how safe the sweet-smelling shampoos and hair dyes applied at your favourite local hairdressers are for you AND for the stylist applying them? Or what about the cocktail of toxins we apply to our nails and skin at spas? Chances are we are inhaling and ingesting a dangerous mix of untested chemicals each time we get a “beauty” treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do your own research about the products being used and take the time to find safer and healthier alternatives. Thankfully many salons and spas are now incorporating greener items into their offerings which benefits the long-term health of both their clients and their employees. (GTA friends – check out Casablanca Salon, Alma Natural Spa and One Salon & Boutique)

4. Order online – Although you might not be able to find good clean products at your local store, there are some amazing websites offering beautiful natural products to keep you looking and smelling your very best. 100% Pure, Living Libations and Gabriel Cosmetics are 3 of my absolute favourites.

100% pure

5. Make your own stuff- I’ve had lots of fun making beauty products in my own kitchen. Meghan Telpner’s book Undiet and the website WellnessMama.com have tons of wonderful recipes using easy-to-source ingredients like baking soda, epsom salts, avocado, oats and raw chocolate. I even whipped up homemade beauty products to give as Christmas gifts to my girlfriends including these Lavender Bath Salts: Combine 3 tablespoons of epsom salts, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 8 drops of lavender essential oil and 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a small jar. Shake it all up and use generously in a restorative hot bath!

Today my bathroom is filled with just as many products as when I was a teenager but over time I’ve managed to ditch the Pert Plus and Biore in favour of stellar chemical-free alternatives. Don’t get overwhelmed though- it took me a good long time to transition from Pantene to Aubrey Organics. But little by little I have replaced the old stuff with healthier and more natural choices…..I might still have those stunning purple triangle earrings though ; )

Friendship & Fresh Tomato Sauce

I have always wanted to learn how to make jars of fresh tomato sauce. Each summer when the tomatoes are at their peak, I fantasize about filling my cupboards with the most amazing sauce ever created (yes I am a food nerd). I even went so far as to buy a bushel of tomatoes a few years back and set about peeling, seeding, blanching, chopping and sterilizing….until the whole thing just got so overwhelming that I shoved my half-assed attempt at sauce into bags and popped it all in the freezer. Massive red ice-cube blobs that I eventually thawed and dumped. Pathetic.

The biggest stumbling block for me (and it’s the same story for homemade jam btw) is sterilizing the dang jars. Whenever I start reading the instructions for the sterilization process I end up breaking into a cold sweat as I imagine my dinner guests doubled over with acute food poisoning. I just can’t handle the pressure!

So you can imagine my delight when I mentioned my tomato-sauce ineptitude to a couple of my closest girlfriends and they said “Hey – it’s not hard at all. We’ve done it lots of times. We can teach you how to make it.” Woohoo! I quickly roped them into committing to a date and anxiously awaited my sauce-making lesson.

tomato bushel

The day before our cooking extravaganza, one of my girlfriends dropped off a bushel of the most beautiful bright red tomatoes at my door. “Wash them and set them out on a flat surface to dry” she instructed. Looked easy enough until I realized that a bushel of tomatoes is freakin’ heavy! She helped me load them into my son’s wagon and I rolled them gently into the backyard. After an hour scrubbing them and lining them up on a bed sheet outside, I stood back to admire my work (and then promptly hopped into a hot bath to soak my aching back….bending over the hose is tough work).

tomato outside

The next day, my friends arrived bright and early armed with boxes of jars, more tomatoes and tons of cooking supplies. One of the girls had miraculously discovered that chopping and putting the tomatoes right into our high-powered blenders would cut down hours of the tedious work of grinding the tomatoes by hand but I wanted to try one batch the old-school way. The girls just looked at each other and rolled their eyes but indulged me and passed me the tomato grinder.

tomato grinder

As they happily whirred up the tomatoes in the blender, I hand cranked the chopped tomatoes through a stainless steel grinder. Much more difficult and as it turns out – the sauce from my efforts didn’t taste any different from their blended sauce. After 1 batch, I also switched to the blender method and in no time at all we had a few pots of sauce boiling away on the oven.

tomato pot

Although I was expecting to make full-blown pasta sauce (ala Ragu), the girls told me that it’s much better to simply jar the boiled tomato sauce mixed with a little sea salt. This keeps the tomatoes fresher and you can add the garlic, basil and any other ingredients of choice when you open your jars and are ready to eat the sauce. (And let me tell you, just the simple boiled tomatoes and sea salt tasted amazing.)

It turns out that my fear over the jar sterilization was overblown. The girls simply popped the jars into the dishwasher on high heat and placed the lids into a pot of boiling water on the stove. They handled the jars carefully so as not to touch the lip and used tongs to place the lids on each one. Then they set them upside down on a table for a few minutes to make sure they weren’t leaking and turned them over to wait for the “pop” of the lids that indicates a good seal. Voila!

So here are the biggest lessons I learned about jarring fresh tomato sauce:

– tomato sauce tastes 100% better when you make it yourself

– when you are a rookie sauce maker in the kitchen with experts- it’s best to stick to watching, listening and doing the dishes

– sterilizing doesn’t have to be scary

– the taste is wonderful and fresh and it makes the house smell amazing (the kids even said it was the best sauce they’d ever had)

– I’m so lucky to have friends who are willing to share their knowledge and the workload (and it didn’t hurt that I had a couple of bottles of Italian wine on hand to keep them happy ; )

– it’s not so hard – just go for it!

My wish has come true – my pantry is all stocked up with tomato sauce. Thanks to my friends, I conquered my fear and learned a great new skill. Next stop….jam!

tomato jars

Fresh Tomato Sauce

1 bushel ripe tomatoes
Sea salt (to taste, approx. 1 tbsp. per large batch)
Mason jars (we used large and medium-sized jars)

Wash tomatoes and lay them on a flat surface to dry for 24 hours.

Sterilize jars on high heat in the dishwasher.

Quarter tomatoes and place them into a high-powered blender. Whir for 1-2 minutes until blended. Place mixture into a large pot on the stove. Bring to a boil and boil continuously for 1 hour, adding sea salt to taste.

Place jar lids and rims into a large pot of boiling water on the stove.

After 1 hour, scoop sauce into a sterilized jar, leaving at least 1-inch of space at the top of the jar. Use tongs to place a lid on the jar and seal with a rim. Place jar on the table upside down for a minute or 2 to ensure there is no leaking. After a couple of minutes, flip the jar right side up and listen for the “pop” of the lid that will let you know that the jar is properly sealed.

*Lori’s Suggestion: When you are ready to eat your sauce – put a tablespoon of olive oil into a skillet and heat on medium-high. Add a minced clove of garlic, a sprinkle of sea salt and a dash of red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour in your sauce and heat through. Scoop over hot pasta and enjoy!





Guest Post: The Upside of Downtime

I first met Barbara Reade and her partner Roman at my Sunday morning bootcamp class and she struck me right away as someone who was friendly and warm but also strong and determined (she completed the Tough Mudder in the spring for heaven’s sake!) When I asked for guest bloggers about a month ago, she was the very first person to step up with an offer to write a piece on her painful, frustrating and enlightening journey back from a knee injury. Judging from the crazy number of backwards lunges I saw her do just this past Sunday in class, I’m fairly certain that she has made a full recovery. But I think you’ll agree that there is much to be learned from Barb’s struggles and observations as she healed her body over the summer and eventually made peace with the process.

Thank you so much for this insightful and honest post Barb! Check it out below:

The Upside of Downtime

By: Barbara Reade

Definition of “downtime”, according to the Free Online Dictionary – “The period of time when something, such as a factory or a piece of machinery, is not in operation, especially as the result of a malfunction.”

Every so often, life throws a curve ball in your direction. You can either stealthily duck to avoid it or, if you are less agile and perhaps involved in a sport that involves skillful pivoting in sand while looking skyward for flying balls, you can get hit squarely in the face. Or in the knee, which was sort of my case. In actual fact, I ended up spraining my knee while playing volleyball on the beach with a group of friends who had banded together to form a team for an upcoming fund raiser. The only caveat was that we needed to play beach volleyball convincingly well, so practising was imperative. None of us had so much as picked up a volleyball since our high school days, but we were all keen, overflowing with enthusiasm and ready to have fun. I should mention as well that every single one of us was involved in a number of athletic pursuits already, so we felt that we were ready for the challenge.

My initial reaction to injuring my knee, I’m ashamed to say, was embarrassingly immature. Shortly after the practice that cut short my volleyball career, when it was obvious that I had done something really unpleasant to my knee, I had a little tantrum back at home. I was feeling rather sorry for myself, quite hard-done by and blurted out to Roman, my ever patient partner in life, “I don’t even play volleyball!” As if I would feel much better had I injured myself doing something that I participated in all the time. Would I have felt differently if I had been inadvertently kicked in the knee during a boxing class, or if I had wiped out attempting a daring box jump in a small group training class? I mean, heck, I made it through the gruelling training regimen for Tough Mudder when there were literally dozens of ways to get hurt. Yet, in reality, it was an injury that resulted from a sport that I had tried just for fun and to help raise a little money for a good cause. It could have happened to anybody.

The day after that fateful twist of my knee, I hobbled off to the chiropractor to confirm what I already suspected; that I did, indeed, have a sprained knee. I was told to ice my knee every few hours and stop my usual physical activities until the knee had a chance to heal. In other words – rest. How lovely. Rest. So why did this one word, which normally conjures up pleasing images of reclining, lounging, napping, and basically draping one’s body over every available piece of furniture for hours on end, send me into an emotional tailspin?

Once the pouting, sulking and moping subsided, I decided to take stock. Why did I have such a powerful emotional response to what was, in the scheme of things, just a minor blip on the radar? I didn’t have a terribly severe sprain, but it was enough to sideline me from the things that I loved to do, for at least a little while. What was so important about being involved in the active lifestyle that I had worked relentlessly to cultivate? The answer became clear – my life had lost its former balance. I needed to rejig the scales in order to get through this recovery period. In other words, I needed to find the upside of downtime. I needed to acknowledge all the positives that had flowed from a negative experience. I started to make a list, a list which continues to grow as the days go by:

The Upside

  1. I now have indisputable proof that exercise and the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle are non-negotiables. Life is just a whole lot better with wellness at the forefront. The lack thereof, is worse than an injury.
  2. I know for sure that I have many wonderful people in my life because of item #1. Without them, I feel like I’m missing limbs. Their support and friendship sustain me.
  3. With fewer commitments, I created more time to spend with my elderly parents during the week following my sprain. This was a welcome change, as I had originally planned to spend the final week of my summer holidays tackling as many activities as possible before the launch of another school year. Instead, I met my folks for a leisurely mid-week breakfast, escorted them to a couple of favourite shops, drove Mom home from the hair salon, enjoyed ice-cream with the two of them on a bench, and simply had more time to hang out and chat. For the first time too, I kept pace with my Mom as she walked with her rollator, never feeling like I was going too fast. My slower pace was just right.
  4. I’m learning how to overcome my tendency to restlessly relax. I admit it, when I’m “relaxing”, I usually have one eye scanning my surroundings for something else to do. You can’t leap up every few minutes when you’ve got an ice pack positioned just so, and your leg propped up comfortably on a pillow. The battle is not yet won, but I am learning to resist those urges to flit from one activity to the next.
  5. You can’t read a great book if you’re perpetually on the move. Suffice it to say, I’ve done a lot of reading recently.
  6. As difficult as it has been to miss out on all my favourite activities, it’s good to know that they will still be there for me when I’m ready to return to them. My situation is temporary, not permanent. I’m so very thankful for that.
  7. I learned how to remove cat pee from a litter box in order to provide the veterinarian with a urine sample. Really. One day, I may write about it.
  8. Maintaining a sense of humour is everything. I’m glad that mine is still intact.

As I mentioned earlier, this list continues to grow and I have undoubtedly left out many valuable observations that I will kick myself for later. Speaking of which, I need to get back to resting, icing and healing my knee, so that I can resume all the power walking, lunges, squats, dipping birds, stair runs, boxer shuffles, and yes, kicking, that I have enjoyed so very much.

Well, maybe not the dipping birds.

By Barbara Reade

Overcoming My Fear of Bootcamp

The term “bootcamp” never fails to strike fear into my heart. It seems to be such a buzz word lately – fitness bootcamps, parenting bootcamps, diet bootcamps, business bootcamps…..it all sounds so hard-core and intense. I always picture a drill sergeant standing over me pointing out my flaws and demanding that I do 10 more push-ups to atone for my wimpiness.

bootcamp 1

And to be honest, I’m more of a “if it’s too hard I’ll pass” kind of exerciser. Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone is not my strong suit and I’ve never bought in to the run-till-you-puke workout mentality.
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