Embrace

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!

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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!

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The Upside of Crying at Target

I recently had a really good cry. A long and stressful week culminated with a Friday morning trip to Target where I ended up at the cash with a big pile of goodies. After frantically checking my purse- I realized that I had no money and no phone! Shit! As I loaded the toddler back into the van to head back home the tears just started flowing. “Why are you sniffling like that mommy?” my little guy kept asking.

My oldest son was at home when I came to collect my wallet and immediately asked what was wrong. I told him it was nothing – I was just feeling a little sad and he said “it’s okay mom – it’s good to let your feelings out.” So darn wise for a 12-year old.

After I dried my tears, stopped my blubbering and blew my nose- I really did feel much better. I headed off for a coffee and repeat trip to the store in a much better frame of mind. I was able to laugh at myself and the absurdity of sobbing over something so ridiculous. (As a side note I’m pretty sure I freaked out the cashier at Starbucks because she asked me at least 5 times if everything was ok – guess the red puffy eyes totally gave me away.)

My son’s words got me thinking about how often I rush through life and suppress or ignore my emotions or just totally numb them out with coping mechanisms. My go-to’s – chocolate, reality TV, red wine, Candy Crush and People magazine just to name a few. Especially with the advent of our cell phones, it’s so much easier to zone out with mindless games, Facebook, Twitter and texting than to stop, breathe and really check in with ourselves and how we are feeling. And what I realized in that moment was that by feeling that sadness, I made way to feel better, to laugh and to move forward.

This video features the comedian Louis C.K. He’s actually talking about why he refuses to get cell phones for his children but the overall message is much more powerful. Have a watch and remember that as much as we all love our devices, it’s a good idea to put them down every now and again, to slow down and to let ourselves just be……even if that means crying in the check-out line at Target ; )

One Step Forward

This winter has been kicking my butt! Well I guess more accurately it’s been kicking my children’s butts. The kids seem to be catching every darn bug going this year and we are just getting over round 2 of the stomach flu. Yuck!

sick kid

Those of you who are closest to me are well aware that nothing sets off my irrational worry like having a sick child. When one of my kids goes down with any kind of a virus or infection, my brain immediately starts spinning with the most morbid possibilities. Yes I know intellectually that worrying myself into a frenzy when my little guy barfs all over the floor is ridiculous when there are families dealing with seriously ill children- but my worry can be like a runaway train I sometimes can’t get control over.

After an especially anxiety-ridden holiday season (kids sick = mom worried sick), I decided this is the year that I am going to tackle my fears head on before they morph into something bigger and harder to manage. My first stop was with a friend who is also an Intuitive Counsellor. As I plunked myself down in front of her, I jokingly asked: “Ok so tell me the truth – was I a mom in a past life with 20 kids who all died of the plague?!” She had a good chuckle and then turned to me and said “You know what – you’re not far off.” Dammit- I knew it! ; )

Whether or not you believe in past lives, my session was focused way more on this lifetime and strategies that I can use to relax and be more peaceful and helpful when my children aren’t feeling well. Aside from giving me some practical visualization and breathing exercises to keep myself grounded, she also suggested that once I have sufficiently calmed myself down, I simply focus on one thing that I can do to improve the current situation.

Just breathe, get calm and ask myself “What ONE small step forward can I take in this present moment?”

I thought this was genius advice because I am famous for trying to micro-manage my family’s health. When someone is sick – my mind starts racing with a million things that I should have done or could do better or should  be doing right now. Frankly it’s exhausting!

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So how did I this use strategy as we wrap up our latest family puke-a-palooza? Well, I caught myself whenever I was on the brink of a freak-out and I remembered to breathe and clear my mind. And each and every time, I simply took one step forward:

– I sprayed all of our door handles with non-toxic disinfectant (I cannot live without my Benefect)

– I apologized to my daughter for acting like a crazy person and explained that I had been overcome with worry and I was working on controlling my irrational fears (this was also a great opportunity to teach her that parents make lots of mistakes and why it’s important to own up to them, learn from them and move forward)

– I opened up to a good friend and let her talk me into getting out of the house for a fun night of socializing (and perhaps a few glasses of vino)

– I washed everyone’s bedding and threw open the windows for 20 minutes (heck yes- right in the middle of a freakin’ polar vortex!)

– I quietly sat and visualized each of my children being happy and radiating vibrant health

– I stocked up on Vitamin D drops and extra Vitamin C

And I felt better. Yes I still worried but by the time my oldest son went down for the count – I was actually quite calm about the whole thing. I’m not suggesting that I’ve got this thing beat but I am slowly inching my way forward towards being calmer and less reactive when illness strikes my household.

I’m certainly a work in progress but I do know that simply stopping, taking a deep breath and deciding on one positive and helpful action has already made a big difference in how I’m feeling. Now- my next step forward is convincing my husband to take us all away on a warm sunny beach vacation! Wish me luck!

1 Year Later & My Top 10 from 2013

One year ago I sat down and published the very first post on my blog titled “I’m Gonna Look“. And I was terrified. I had absolutely no idea about the ins and outs of blogging and I was sharing a very vulnerable piece with an unknown audience. Pretty scary stuff.

But I did it. And in pushing through my fear I connected with a community of bloggers, family, friends and like-minded individuals who indulged me in a journey of self-discovery. My initial intent was to simply use my blog as a vehicle for sharing family friendly recipes but it quickly evolved as I changed and learned and mustered up the courage to write about my successes, failures, insights and discoveries.

Thank you to everyone who has followed along (861 of you and counting!) and especially to my family and close friends for allowing me to write so candidly about our experiences. The creative process of writing for this blog has brought me more joy than I ever could have anticipated at this time last year.

To celebrate 1 year, I thought I’d share a Top 10 List of my own personal favourite posts from 2013:

1. Family Day Busy-ness

2. Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Caramels

3. Garbage In Garbage Out Featuring Scooby Doo

4. The Importance of Making Mistakes

5. A Manly Vegan Meal

6. How I Look

7. Why I Love My Vitamix and a Starter Green Smoothie Recipe

8. 10 Hilarious Ways to Lighten Things Up

9. My Summer of Indulgence

10. Kids Cook Night

If you have the time take a browse through some of my totally brilliant and insightful posts from last year ; )

And now for the big question: …….did I look? Well yes I did. And although I didn’t always like what I saw (oh hi new wrinkles), the more I  stared the more I came to realize that loving my image is just the first step in the journey. As much as I learn to adore my reflection in the mirror, the even bigger challenge is to love the person I am when I am sitting in stillness- to be brave enough to really get to know and love myself and to sit quietly in an effort to know my own mind.

So here is my personal intention for 2014: silence and discovery. And don’t worry if this seems to woo-woo for your tastes – I promise to keep posting my plant-based recipes and family friendly holistic discoveries.

But I do have a small favour to ask of all of you for this new year: please stay in touch! Write in the comments if you agree or disagree, share your own successes and failures and let me know if there is something you’d like me to write about. I appreciate your silent support but it would be even nicer to hear from you : )

Happy new year and cheers to a healthy 2014!

My Summer of Indulgence

You might say that I have had a rather decadent summer. Occasional morning runs to Starbucks somehow turned into an everyday occurrence, I spent a fair amount of time just lounging by the pool with the kids soaking up the sun, my semi-regular workouts dwindled to near non-existent, my menu planning morphed into “what take-out shall we have tonight?” and I enjoyed more than a few cocktails, bags of potato chips and chocolatey treats.

To be perfectly honest- I  am a mass of contradictions at the best of times. Although I aspire to optimal health and nutrition, I’m more of a “green juice for breakfast and glass of red wine for dinner” kind of girl. Kale chips and meditation at lunch and salty potato chips while watching So You Think You Can Dance that same evening. Louise Hay AND People Magazine on my nightstand. Kick-butt 6am workout closely followed by a few days of sitting on aforementioned butt.

I will admit that I really admire those purists – the “I haven’t had a cup of coffee in 10 years” and “I never eat anything processed” kind of people. No matter the season or holiday, there are some dedicated health enthusiasts who manage to maintain their healthy eating and exercise routine in the face of the toughest temptation and peer pressure. But I’m definitely not one of those people! (if you know me you’ll be familiar with how little twisting of my rubber arm it takes to convince me to have just one more glass of Prosecco or to share a hunk of gooey chocolate cake ; )

perfectionism louise hay

This is not to say that I’m going to throw in the towel and chuck the healthy living for a life of reality tv and bonbons (tempting though..). I think the key is becoming more mindful in my approach to diet and lifestyle. Do I really need that latte or french fry? Well yes, frankly, sometimes I do! I’m not going to beat myself up over the odd bump in the road if I continue to focus on health and wellness the majority of the time. My own quirky and flawed approach to life doesn’t necessarily make me weak or less than – it just make me human.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! Am I ever going to be one of those “I’ll-never-step-foot-in-a-fast-food-restaurant again” people? Not likely. And I’m beginning to make peace with that. So I will continue merrily along the path of learning and living a natural and healthy life with a fair share of stumbles and more than a few potato chip wrappers left along the way.

*P.S. I am planning to embark  on another 3-week Kathy Freston Cleanse starting Sunday, September 8th. (no alcohol, sugar, gluten, caffeine or animal products for 21 days). Is anyone else in need of a detox after a summer of overindulgence like mine? Drop me a line in the comments and we can share tips and recipes!

Reflections on 15 Years

My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary today. I can hardly believe it’s been 15 years since a wide-eyed young couple walked down the aisle and began a life together that would include world travel, job changes, more than a few late-night parties, relocations, renovations, a dietary overhaul, some blow-out fights, lots of laughs, 3 beautiful children and a deep lasting love and friendship.

anniversary

Thanks to a brilliant suggestion from our close friends (who are also celebrating 15 years of wedded bliss), we decided to mark this milestone year with a trip to a spa in Grafton, Ontario called St. Anne’s. For 2 busy couples with 3 children apiece, this was a rare opportunity to focus on ourselves, relax and enjoy some much-needed pampering. And a few days away from the often hectic pace of our everyday lives gave us all some perspective on the things that really matter.

So in honour of the past 15 years, here are a few important insights that I took away from our anniversary spa getaway:

1. Sometimes just sitting together, holding hands and saying nothing at all can be as powerful as a deep conversation.

2. It’s important to treasure close friends. The time we spent laughing, talking, swimming, relaxing, playing euchre, drinking wine and eating gourmet food together was more potent for stress relief than months of therapy.

3. It’s healthy to talk about things other than the kids every once in a while. Oh yah – we had a life before those little rug rats came along!

4. A spa treatment involving disrobing and being sprayed down with a scotch hose will wind up being the butt of endless jokes ; )

5. Being pampered and focusing on ourselves isn’t a selfish act – it actually makes us better parents, partners and friends.

6. It’s super liberating to walk around all day in a bathrobe with no makeup on and a pound of massage oil in your hair.

5. The world won’t come to an end and my children won’t be heartsick if I leave them in the capable hands of their grandparents for a few days. In fact, they barely noticed I was gone.

6. Even after 15 years, I still marvel at my husband’s wacky sense of humour, his easy-going nature, his enduring patience and his unwavering kindness. Plus he looks pretty hot in a bathrobe!

And the biggest lesson of all? Perspective. Life is still busy, hectic and often uncontrollable- but I can reflect back on the peace I felt during those few days away, take a couple of deep breaths and bring that calmness into any situation that is thrown my way. It also helps if I’m wearing my robe.

Happy Anniversary Mark! I love you!

A Swift Kick in the Butt

“Realize you are on this Earth for a reason and the world needs that special gift that only you have.” Marie Forleo

Have you ever felt like you have a ton of potential inside that you are not able to fully actualize out into the world? Do you dream of being a writer, a pilot, an actor, an inventor, a humanitarian, an entrepreneur, a parent, a farmer, a blogger, a yogi, a chef, a teacher or a marathon runner? Have you ever started meditating, working out, creating a vision board or writing in a gratitude journal and then abruptly abandoned your plan for self-improvement? Do you feel like you are living your life to your highest potential? If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow, how would that impact the way you live out the rest of your life? Would you take more chances? Follow a different dream? Rethink your current situation?

war of art

I recently finished reading and re-reading (and re-reading) the amazing book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield and I have spent a lot of time pondering the questions above and thinking about what stops me from taking the necessary steps to boost my career and my life to the next level. According to Pressfield, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”

Oh yes, Resistance. There were more than a few of these tactics that I could relate to including: procrastination, fear, self-dramatization, self-doubt and rationalization… to name just a few. Pressfield makes a case that every single one of us faces Resistance in some form or another and that it is literally the most toxic force on the planet.

“How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumours and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip and compulsive cell phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to do? If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic, every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the world would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery and infotainment businesses, not to mention the pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and medical professions from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage and dandruff.” Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

He makes a very strong case for honouring your own personal calling and identifying exactly what is stopping you from answering the call. He then offers up a number of concrete ways to overcome the obstacles in your path. The most exciting thing about this book is that after reading it, I truly felt like I had some solid strategies for combatting my own Resistance and for simply getting down to work.

I honesty cannot say enough good things about this book. It is short, funny and written in an easily digestible style. It starts out with a clear definition of Resistance and all of the manifestations this enemy of creativity may take in our lives. The second half of the book is devoted to clear-cut methods for combatting Resistance like; turning pro, acting in the face of fear, accepting no excuses and asking for help. And the final section looks beyond Resistance to a higher realm of inner genius and inspiration.

If you are looking for a summer read that will make you think, challenge your beliefs and possibly move you one step closer to realizing your true potential – then pick up The War of Art.

“It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”  Steven Pressfield, The War of Art