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Favorite Recipes from Mom’s Recipe Box

The four recipes below are some of my absolute favorites that my Mom used to make! I of course raided her recipe box a long time ago and these are often in my meal rotation.

I made these meals as part of my freezer meal prep! The grocery list I provided includes all the ingredients needed to make these recipes.

Chicken Parmesan

Serves: 4

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 208

Carbs: 15g

Fat: 3.5g

Protein: 29.7g

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 6 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray
  3. Pour tomato sauce into pan, add in parmesan cheese and oregano, mixing well
  4. Add chicken breasts, and coat with sauce
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through
  6. Top with mozzarella cheese and cook 5 more minutes

Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

Serves: 4

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 297

Carbs: 11.9g

Fat: 17.2g

Protein: 25.6g

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 bayleaf
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Brown beef
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (you can also use a crockpot for this instead)
  3. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray
  4. Mix beef with dry ingredients
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling (or cook on low for 6-8 hours in crockpot)
  6. Serve with pasta

Beef Goulash

Serves: 4

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 393

Carbs: 7.9g

Fat: 24g

Protein: 32.6g

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. beef stewing cubes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. beef bouillion powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in the crockpot
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours
  3. Serve with rice or pasta

Stroganoff

Serves: 4

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 293

Carbs: 10.6g

Fat: 15.8g

Protein: 27.4g

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1 container light sour cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 c. shredded cheese
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Brown beef/turkey
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F
  3. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray
  4. In casserole dish, toss turkey/beef with flour
  5. Add sour cream, chicken soup, and cheese, mix well
  6. Bake for 30 minutes
  7. Serve with rice or pasta
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SBT Seabuckthorn

I stumbled upon SBT Seabuckthorn in January of this year while I was looking for companies to support the Sweat Alberta Retreat with donations for the prizes and goodie bags. As I looked into the company and their products, I could immediately tell how passionate they were about the quality of their products, loved the variety of products that were available, and once I spoke to Crystal, I instantly knew how passionate they were about their customers as well.

The Company: SBT Seabuckthorn

SBT Seabuckthorn is a 100% female owned & operated company located in Peachland, British Columbia, Canada, who produces only 100% natural, vegan, cruelty & allergen free products. They also source only 100% eco-friendly & sustainable plants for their therapeutic skin care.

All products are non-GMO, gluten free, cruelty free, eco-friendly, soy free, and most recently palm oil free! They are also free from SLS, DEA, parabens, talc, silicone, dyes/colourants, fragrance, petroleum, formaldehyde, and have helped customers lower their cholesterol, relieve their arthritis, calm their eczema flare ups, soothe their scalps, heal wounds, burns, & scars, and so much more!

What is Seabuckthorn?

  • a medicinal plant that has been used for years in herbal medicine as it is one of the most nutritionally dense plants on earth
  • every part of the plant contains bio-active compounds that support human health
  • seabuckthorn extract contains a variety of essential fatty acids and antioxidants (including vitamin C, vitamin E and anthocyanins)

Uses for Seabuckthorn

  • stimulate the digestive system
  • enhance heart and liver health
  • treat skin disorders
  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • eczema
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • inflammation
  • rosacea

What do they make?

What don’t they make would be an easier question to answer, but here’s their main products, under which of each is a multitude of options for any ailment you may suffer from:

  • oils (ingested)
  • teas
  • cleansing bars
  • skin care products
  • hair care products
  • soothing salves

My Products

The day after the retreat ended, I received a surprise package from Crystal and SBT Seabuckthorn, and I couldn’t have been happier! Inside my box contained a tin of their wellness matcha, samples of both their day and night creams, a therapeutic vegan tea bar, and a tin of both Muscle & Joint Pain Soothing Salve and the Heal to Toe Soothing Salve. I will be writing a whole post dedicated to matcha and the SBT brand in the future, but I wanted to share my opinion on the other amazing products I was so graciously sent.

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Salves

I have used both of the salves they sent every single night since receiving them! I missed one night because I foolishly fell asleep on the couch, and regretted that decision in the morning for a lot of reasons, but sore feet were one of them.

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Muscle & Joint Pain Soothing Salve

This was the salve that every attendee at the retreat received a sample of in their goodie bag. It is made with seabuckthorn, plai, sweet birch (a natural aspirin), sweet marjoram and rosemary oils. These oils are able to penetrate deep into muscles and tissue to relieve pain, swelling, and bruising, as well as helping stiff joints. This stuff is a godsend after working out. I use it on my biceps, chest, shins, calves, shoulders, and anything else that hurts. It smells great and gently massaging it into any sore parts of my body will always help them feel a little less sore in the morning! Fun fact: marjoram is an oil that has been noted for its use in helping chronic pain like my endometriosis. So I have been rubbing it onto my abdomen in the areas that feel pain, and while I can’t rub it in as deeply as needed, it helps alleviate the smallest amount of pain. This should be in every person’s gym bag, and can be used as often as you need it!

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Heal to Toe

This salve is made with SBT Seabuckthorn oils, thyme, tea tree, lemon tea tree and peppermint oil. It is both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which helps your feet from stinking up the place, and it smells amazing instead! I will be the first to admit that I have ugly feet – calloused, dry, and now that I run 2-3 times a week, they are very sore and tired. Every night when I crawl into bed, whether I run that day or not, I rub the salve into each foot from heel to toe, and wake up in the morning with moisturized and soft feet that are not sore anymore. I don’t know how I’ve ever survived without this! It will be a staple product for me now!

Other salves they make I want to try include:

Coughs & Colds & Sniffles Too

Seabuckthorn, eucalyptus, ravintsara, peppermint and ravensara oils to clear up stuffed up noses and congestion. They also carry a Sniffle Stick which contains the same ingredients and would be such a great portable way to clear up any of those upcoming summer colds.

Eczema & Dermatitis

Seabuckthorn oils, chamomile, helicrysum, rosehip and pomegranate essential oils to relieve and heal the itching. I have stress induced eczema on my arms, and it’s extremely difficult to get rid of once it pops up, and you can use this salve for extremely dry skin too.

Stretch Marks & Scars

Seabuckthorn oils, vegetable squalene, blue tansy, pomegranate and rosehip oils to refine and reduce stretch marks and scars, all while moisturizing. I am a girl, I gained and lost weight, I have stretch marks. We all do, and while that’s fine, I am all for trying to diminish their appearance! I also have a large appendectomy scar on my stomach that has never healed properly that could use a little TLC.

Sunburn

Calms and cools skin that has been overexposed to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays and will reduce redness and diminish flaking and peeling. I am fair skinned, and even with SPF 50 on, I burn in the shade. I am travelling to Greece in July and already know that no matter how hard I try, I am going to turn a lovely shade of pink. I always peel, so this would be a much better solution! Plus it would be so easy to toss into my bag each day before I head out!

Skin Creams

I react to everything – I am cursed with extremely sensitive skin and have a very hard time using any type of new product on my face. I can’t even wear anything with the slightest hint of pink on my eyes or I will puff right up! I was extremely hesitant to try these lotions knowing this, but I was assured that all of their products are allergen free so I gave it a shot and I am so glad I did.

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Day Cream

With mango and shea butter combined with seabuckthorn oil and hyaluronic acid, this cream is great as a make-up primer as it smooths lines and wrinkles, moisturizes and tones skin! It has a light smell, but one that I find very appealing. Not a single reaction occurred and after I took my makeup off my skin was nice and soft.

Night Cream

Containing olive oil squalene, grape seed extract, cucumber, wild mushrooms and Japanese Green Tea mixed with seabuckthorn oil, this cream will deeply moisturize your skin while you sleep, and fight off any wrinkles. I woke up with soft, fresh skin ready for the day!

Cleansing Bars

I’ve always been a body wash type of girl, avoiding most hard soaps. I generally find them sticky, I drop them all the time, and they seem to collect cat hair even though my cats aren’t ever actually in the shower. The cleansing bars are all natural, smell great, and really make a difference. Somehow, the cat hair never seems to stick to this soap, which is always an added bonus.

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Therapeutic Vegan Tea Bar

With both seabuckthorn and acne fighting ingredients like calcium, protein, magnesium, potassium and salicylic acid, this soap helps diminish breakouts and red spots, while also cleansing the body! I’ve recently started breaking out on my chest (thanks sweat) and this bar was the first thing I reached for to try to combat the acne and redness. I am so happy to say that it is making a difference! I would highly recommend this to anyone who experiences body acne.

I would highly recommend all of their products to anyone suffering from any type of skin ailment, and their product line will meet so many needs! The company is caring, supportive, and passionate about their products and the environment. I love both the company itself, and the products they produce and am so happy to have been able to sample some products for them!

Visit their website here to learn more about the products they carry, and follow them on Instagram to see some amazing uses for their product, learn more about the company, and have the chance to enter some draws for free product!

You can also now use the code BEFIT at checkout to save 15% on all regular priced items for your own orders!

 

Financial compensation was not received for this post. Sample products were gifted from SBT Seabuckthorn. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.

stronger-work

Breaking Up With Kayla

*Disclaimer: this post is my PERSONAL opinion and thoughts based on MY experience, both from a personal level and a business perspective. You do not have to agree.

This isn’t the first time I have written about BBG:

  • See my post about how to stick to BBG here (which can really be applied to any fitness journey not just BBG)
  • My “Kaylaversary”/1 year of BBG post here
  • A post about tackling another 12 weeks of BBG here
  • The first BBG post I wrote, about attending the 2016 LA Sweat Tour and meeting Kayla herself, here.

However, this will be the last time I write about BBG.

I will be the first to tell you that Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (BBG) was what got me started. In my teens and early twenties, I was your typical thin girl who could eat whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and never gained an ounce. I didn’t exercise; I didn’t need to. As I got older, and destroyed my metabolism because I stopped eating properly (or much at all really), I inevitably began to gain weight.

I think I was about 27 when I decided that “ok, it’s time to make a change and try exercising.” I was never an athlete (unless you count swimming as a kid until I was 13), and I didn’t really know where to start. I tried CrossFit for a year, liked it but didn’t love it, got a gym membership and would go very sparingly. A friend told me about BBG, and after looking through the guides, I gave it a go. Failed, tried again, failed, and tried again. That third time it stuck. I stuck to it for 60 weeks – with injuries, illnesses, and breaks – but I did 60 weeks over the course of 1.5 years. The program was simple enough to follow: four 7-minute circuits, three times a week, add in some cardio – done. It gave me structure, routine, and dedication. In the past year and a half I found confidence in the gym, and in myself.

I created a fitness Instagram (@accountantscanbefit) when I began my BBG journey, as I had been lurking from my personal account, following Kayla and seeing the incredible transformations that she posted, checking out other accounts from girls around the world who followed the program. My account allowed me to stay accountable, find like-minded women, and even make new friends. All of this from a simple app on my phone.

Online Friends to Real Life Friends

When I started BBG, the community meant everything to me. The constant support and encouragement, the tags like #whatsonmyplate and #stopdropandselfie were such a great way to interact and meet new people. Then ‘BBG Meet Ups’ started happening. I first noticed the ones in Orlando then the ones in NYC, and I felt that Calgary should have the same! They looked like a lot of fun and brought girls from the same cities together. So I posted on my Instagram and created the #yycbbg #bbgcalgary hashtags in hopes of finding other women in Calgary following the program, and was successful. In December 2015 I ran the first YYC BBG Meet Up with 8 other girls. From there, it increasingly got more popular. Word of mouth and hashtags allowed more and more women to find out about the monthly meet ups. I started working with businesses (as many local as I could) to offer door prizes at every event.

As I ran the meet ups and continued with the BBG program, I made some amazing friends, both locally and internationally. I went to LA to meet up with one of these friends I had never met, as well as a couple of my local friends, to attend Kayla’s LA Sweat Tour and was able to connect with even more people I had only interacted with online. While that trip was amazing, I think it is where I started to notice a shift. Some of the BBG “stars” if you will were also in LA. I won’t mention names, but for people who portray themselves online as open, accepting, and positive, well they sure weren’t in person. I have never claimed, or ever will, to be anything different than I am, and while I am not a “popular” account, witnessing others dismiss you because they view themselves upon a pedestal was an eye opener. It’s always interesting meeting people in person, when they aren’t behind someone’s phone screen with their carefully crafted captions and methodical pictures. Some people are exactly who you envision; others are the polar opposite.

A Shift in the Online BBG Community

It was after this trip I started to notice a shift. This exact shift has been quite the topic of conversation on social media lately, but it isn’t something only one person has experienced. I’ve lived it, and so have so many others. I know first-hand several women who agree with me on this stance. The shift is hard to explain, but I think it’s best described as one of competitiveness: who has the most collaborations, who has the best-looking photos, who writes a caption that inspires the most people, and inevitably, who can get their transformation reposted by Kayla herself. I’ll be transparent here, I used to want that repost too – that validation that all my hard work was recognized. When she did repost my progress, I was like “Woah that’s cool.”, but it wasn’t that “OH MY GOD, MY LIFE IS CHANGED!” feeling I used to think I wanted – that affirmation that my hard work was worth it. Guess what – I didn’t need someone I didn’t even know to notice me to know that it was worth it. I already felt that within.

Workout Boredom

The first two rounds of BBG worked for me – it’s a great starting program and I will never deny that. As a person grows stronger and more able to challenge themselves though, the BBG program becomes stale and boring. For some people it is a long-term program, but for me it is not. After 4 rounds (BBG 1 twice, and BBG 2 twice) I had intended to stop following the program and try something new. That changed, and while I regret the decision to stop the new program I was following, it was something I did for the Calgary community, which I will talk about next.

A Shift in the Local BBG Community

The shift I sensed in the community when I went to the LA Sweat Tour was also present in the YYC BBG Meet Ups. What was once an environment of support, encouragement and no judgement started to change too. The meet ups stopped being something I enjoyed running, and became a part-time job that I began to dread. People started to expect a lot from me and didn’t seem to realize that running these events took time, money, and WORK. I did all of this myself, spending around 20+ hours a week of planning, organizing, emailing, and staying on top of the Facebook account I created, responding to questions, encouraging the women as well as trying to stay on top of all the local women’s fitness Instagram accounts so that I could be a proper leader and remain involved in their lives. More women starting attending, participating in the Facebook group, and I felt obligated to follow every local Instagram account. It was exhausting, so I decided to start running meet ups quarterly instead of monthly. I never asked for help – I took on this role and these events on my own, knowing their potential to grow, and never took any compensation for my time. All and any money that was earned in surplus of what was needed to cover the costs of bookings were donated directly back to the not-for-profit facility I used to host these events. Earning money was never the reason I started these events – it was to create a community for women where they could feel safe, supported, and empowered.

Working with the Sweat Team: 12-Week Challenge

In November, Kayla’s very own Sweat Team reached out to me about the next 12 week challenge, beginning in January 2017, which would focus on the BBG community and meet ups themselves. They asked if I would be interested in having the YYC BBG Meet Up in March be part of the 12 Week Challenge to represent Canada. They would be providing tank tops to everyone who attended, products to be given away, and (what was a relief for me), support. This would be so huge for the community in Calgary and for the Canadian communities as a whole. I obviously said yes. I also started an accountability group for this challenge for Calgary and area girls, where I would do daily check-ins with everyone, provide the weekly workout requirements, and provide any tips and tricks I could think of. This provided a space for these women to ask questions, support each other, and ideally complete the full 12 weeks. I chose to also do BBG again in order to facilitate this group, as well as feeling semi-obligated to follow the program since my meet up was part of it.

Fending for Myself

I have never, ever, been more stressed about a meet up than the one on March 12. The promise of a tank top for everyone fell through (whether it was a misunderstanding or not, I still don’t know) – I was in fact only being sent 30 in total. This caused so many issues – I have never gotten so many angry emails in my life once I explained to people that there were only 30 tanks total. I deal with conflict on a daily basis, but when people assumed I was making these choices to put them out, well that was a little hard to handle. Working with the Sweat Team was very stressful and disconcerting for me. I would go days at a time without any correspondence when I had sent time-sensitive and important questions, which caused me a lot of concern. When I sent out an email with questions I had (because I was being asked them), I didn’t get a single response for two weeks – that was extremely frustrating. When I ran the meet ups myself, at least I could provide the answers. While I understand the time difference can create an issue, I work in finance for a multinational corporation and the time difference has never been this much of an issue for us. I was sincerely under the impression that the tank tops were being sent for everyone, so that’s what I said, and when that changed, I was the one who got the blame.

Lack of Engagement Support

I was also very frustrated at the lack of advertising on the Sweat Team’s end. If they had properly communicated that the focus was on the communities and made people aware of where those 12 meet ups were going to be held, the communities would have gotten more attention and support as they all came together. Instead, as per my usual meet ups, the advertising fell on my own account, which doesn’t have the same type of reach as theirs.

Poor Delivery on Promises

I wasn’t sure the swag that was promised was even going to make it on time. People kept saying to me, “Well, I didn’t get a tank top, so I assume I will get swag to keep things fair.” I was a little overwhelmed, to say the least. The products arrived a mere three days before the meet up due to customs complications. I was extra stressed – if people were upset about not getting a simple tank top, the lack of products was sure to send them over the top. Thankfully they DID arrive, and I made sure allocation was fair (with no help from the Sweat Team). Of course some people were still disappointed, which of course was directed at me.

The Unfortunate Aftermath

I stopped feeling like the meet ups were a safe space. I felt the competitiveness infiltrating the meet ups, the judging eyes, the “I have more followers than you” vibe – all things I never wanted to be a part of my life, or part of the community I had worked so hard to create. I appreciate all the people who follow me, and I hope that one day something I say can give them a little bit of encouragement or support when they need it, but I don’t post to gain followers. I post for me, to track my progress, to document my journey, and honestly to find like-minded people and create lasting friendships. I don’t want followers for the sake of a number; I want connections.

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

A week before Kayla’s NYC BBG Meet Up, I received an email from the Sweat Team inviting me to attend. Knowing that others were being offered flights and accommodations, I asked if this was something that would be covered for me. I was told no, and this felt like a slap in the face. I highly doubt that was their intentions, but that is how it felt to me in that moment. While I never asked for anything in return, to be asked to attend an event, and then told I had to pay for it anyways, after everything I had done for them on my own time and with my own money – it hurt. I’ve since spoken to the team to express my concerns and I hope that things will begin to turn around.

It was due to this shift, the loss of enjoyment, and this experience that I made the decision to stop running the YYC BBG Meet Ups. The lack of support for event planning, communication, and consideration for me as a person was more than enough reason for me to stop. This came on the heels of my decision to stop following the BBG program entirely.

BBG Long Term: Not Sustainable

For that 5th set of 12 weeks, I dreaded every single workout. I didn’t enjoy the movements or the workouts, and I didn’t feel challenged. My body did not change at all in those 12 weeks, and I just started to hate the gym again. Again, this is a great program when you start, but plateau is inevitable. I know dozens of girls personally who experienced injuries, just like I developed a knee issue due to the high amount of plyometric movements. This program is amazing for women who want to lose weight and tone up, but not so much for muscle growth. It is heavily cardio intensive, focusing on HIIT style workouts, LISS, and HIIT within the program. It is also a 5-6 day workout program per week, and for many this leads to burnout and exhaustion, and ultimately injuries. Many girls also develop the feeling that they have to continue to maintain 5-6 cardio workouts a week in order to maintain their progress, make further changes, and begin to feel poorly about themselves if they do any less, when in reality, rest is just as important as exercise!

There has been absolutely no progress in the variety of the workouts, other than being able to continue the weeks through use of the app. What started as a grass-roots organization that empowered women and taught them that working out doesn’t have to be an embarrassing ordeal, but can be done with just body weight and the encouragement of your BBG sisters, has become stale after “X” amount of cycles. It needs to be progressed past just body weight and updated faster than once every year and a half (i.e. the app, which is still the same thing, just continuous). Once women stop seeing results, the workout becomes boring and tedious, which leads to less time being active. When you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you inevitably stop doing it.

Find What You Love

So many people ask if they should just keep doing BBG, and my response is always: does it make you happy? THAT is what you should ask yourself in any program you follow, business, career, life, etc. If it doesn’t make you happy, why are you doing it? You are never obligated to only follow one thing for the rest of your life – so why should you? Being featured by Kayla isn’t the only way to recognize your hard work – look in the MIRROR. Be proud of your commitments, your drive, and of who you are. It isn’t the program that works; YOU work.

What works for some will not work for others. Some people are paid to post products on Instagram, are featured by Kayla regularly, and while that may seem great, do not compare yourself to others. Fitness shouldn’t be about Instagram fame – in all honesty, very few will achieve that level of success. Do not define yourself by the success of others. Define yourself by your own achievements.

So there you have it. I am now a #bbgquitter and I’ve broken up with Kayla. Maybe we will get back together some day, but for now, I am leaving the negativity behind me.

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Endometriosis

You are the face of endometriosis. If there was a poster or billboard of what endometriosis was, it would have your face on it.
This is what my gynecologist/endometriosis specialist, Dr. Liane Belland, told me in October.

Endometriosis is a disease. It affects 1 out of every 10 women and I am one of them.

What is Endometriosis?

The following information comes from the Endometriosis Association.

Endometriosis is a medical condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows in other places, such as the Fallopian tubes, ovaries or along the pelvis. When that lining breaks down, like the regular lining in the uterus that produces the menstruation, it has nowhere to go. This misplaced tissue develops into growths or lesions which respond to the menstrual cycle in the same way that the tissue of the uterine lining does: each month the tissue builds up, breaks down, and sheds. Menstrual blood flows from the uterus and out of the body through the vagina, but the blood and tissue shed from endometrial growths has no way of leaving the body. This results in internal bleeding, breakdown of the blood and tissue from the lesions, and inflammation – and can cause pain, infertility, scar tissue formation, adhesions, and bowel problems.

Endometriosis is no joke. There is no cure. It is excruciating, debilitating and hands down nothing I would even wish on my own worst enemy. It affects every aspect of life. Day-to-day movement, thoughts, and actions. Beyond the day-to-day it affects my future; my fertility, my job security (as I miss a lot of work lately), and my overall mindset as I wonder if I will ever feel “normal.”

Symptoms:

  • painful periods
  • pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation
  • cramps one or two weeks around menstruation
  • heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods
  • infertility
  • pain following sexual intercourse
  • discomfort with bowel movements
  • lower back pain that may occur at any time during your menstrual cycles

Most people I tell that I have this disease have never heard of it, or have any idea what it is. I want to change this. Awareness is half the battle. The more people who understand, the more research there is, and the more options there are.

Diagnosis is difficult, and can only be doing through a laparoscopic surgery, which is hard to get into because symptoms can sometimes be treated with medication (i.e. birth control and anti-inflammatories) and once it’s even diagnosed you have to fight to see a specialist for further treatment, heavier medication, and further surgeries.

When I was 12 I had my first period. While I can’t really recall all the details and timeline, what I can remember is excruciating pain, bleeding that would last 3-4 weeks, no menstrual cycle for a couple of months at a time, and then having the next one come back stronger, more painful, and for longer. I missed numerous days of school, just thinking I was cursed with awful periods. I began birth control when I was 14 to regulate my cycles.

That did the trick for a while, once we found the right pill (I take Yasmin 21 now, and have for years). Things were manageable and I didn’t think a lot of it. Once I got into college, I started having terrible stomach pains on my right side. I went in and out of the emergency room over the next couple of years, getting morphine through IV and sent home. At one point at work, the pain shot through me like a burning branding iron and knife, like my insides were exploding and I dropped to the ground. After spending another night in the ER, I learned I had just had a cyst rupture. Painkillers and sent home.

In 2010, the pain was again so bad I was back in the ER, and they were then concerned it was my appendix, so it was then removed. Of course, it wasn’t inflamed and the surgery wasn’t necessary.

The pain continued off and on. In 2012 I saw a gynecologist who performed my first laparoscopy and diagnosed me with endometriosis. She burnt out some of the tissue, but as my ureters and bladder were also covered she didn’t touch the or any other major organs. To continue to manage the pain, she prescribed me to take my birth control back to back – i.e. no breaks like you normally do to allow a period to occur.

I have been following that process for 5 years now. The constant hormones have been wreaking their own havoc, and the pain is still not gone. Over the past month, the pain has been so high I have missed 1.5 weeks of work – more than I missed all of last year. I have tried two different anti-inflammatories, lie on my heat pad constantly, and question when this pain will end.

Right now? My option is an extremely invasive surgery that requires the lasering and removal of infected tissue, the shuffling and moving of organs, and hoping they can get it all. Recovery can be anywhere from 1-6 weeks dependent on the amount of infected tissue and what organs are affected. There is also no guarantee that this will end my pain. I will be writing again about this topic once I have surgery and experience the recovery time.

In the meantime, I have to take anti-inflammatories, continue taking my birth control, try to exercise when I can as the endorphins released from exercise can block pain receptors. Getting to the gym can often be a challenge in itself, and I’ll admit I haven’t been able to go very often.

I was lucky enough to discover and read Kristyn’s blog yesterday and reached out to her about her experience. She directed me to a couple of Facebook support groups, and her story was shared on CBC last night. I am so grateful that she is she to share her story and that it is getting so much attention! This is what is needed; awareness. Endometriosis is hard. When a disease can be seen on the outside, people understand and show compassion. When the disease is internal, there isn’t a lot of information available, and people don’t understand, it is a lot harder for the person who is suffering to make sense of it all.

March is Endometriosis Awareness month. Awareness and understanding need to happen. I want to make a change. Even if this isn’t something you suffer from, your aunt, niece, boss, coworker, best friend, or your third cousin twice removed could be suffering. Please understand and show compassion. I don’t want sympathy. I want a cure.

On March 19, 2017, the Langevin Bridge in Calgary was illuminated in yellow; raising awareness for Endometriosis. I took these photos to help spread a cause that means so much to me.

stay-beautiful

Top 5 Tips to Stick to BBG

17 months is a long time, but it marks how long I have been on my own journey towards a healthier, happier, and fitter life.

I have spent 52 of these weeks following Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (BBG) which is a guide that has taken the female population worldwide by storm.

While Kayla has since released her own app, Sweat with Kayla, you could (and still can) purchase PDF guides for BBG 1.0 (weeks 1-12) and BBG 2.0 (weeks 13-24). The app now continues on past week 24 and continues to move forward as you do.

The set up is simple, each week contains 3 resistance workouts: legs, arms, and abs. As each week progresses, the exercises get harder, the reps get higher, and the struggle is real. Kayla also has you incorporate 2-3 sessions of LISS in the first 8 weeks, then 1-2 sessions of HIIT in the following weeks. BBG requires minimal equipment, and can mostly be completed at home. A set of dumbbells, a kettle bell/medicine ball, and a step/chair will essentially be enough to complete the guides.

I have completed BBG 1.0 twice, BBG 2.0 twice, and am currently joining in on the Kayla Movement 2017, which has thousands of girls worldwide following BBG 1.0, and we all began on January 9, 2017. 4 weeks of this 12 week challenge are complete.

My transformation picture was recently featured on Kayla’s own Instagram which was absolutely surreal! I am so grateful for the kind words, encouragement and support I received over this weekend.

My transformation goes to show that continuous work has big payoffs! As I reflect on my journey, I’ve come up with my top 5 tips on how to succeed, whether it be in BBG or any other fitness journey.

  1. Become your own greatest cheerleader.
    • If you start working out for anyone but yourself, STOP. Until you do this for yourself, you will become discouraged, unmotivated, and ultimately quit. While I’ve only ever done this for my own health and well-being, many women often start a fitness regime for an upcoming trip, an event, or simply to just get back into that favorite pair of skinny jeans.
    • While these quick fixes may work, they’re just that. Quick fixes. Inevitably you will be back in a few months looking for another quick fix. Once you begin making fitness a part of your life, and a priority in it, it becomes much more manageable to continue with. Believe in your abilities, your strength, and yourself. Celebrate the small victories – your first push up on your toes, your first jump lunge that doesn’t throw you off-balance, your first tuck jump.
  2. Stop starving yourself.
    • Food is what gives your body the energy it needs to function, to workout, to LIVE. While everyone’s dietary needs are very specific to each individual, the important thing is to eat enough to fuel your body. In the beginning, I was unknowingly starving myself. I foolishly believed the automatic number My Fitness Pal generated for me (1200 calories) and tried to follow that. It was NOT enough food, my body stored fat for fuel, and I was consistently hungry and grouchy. There is so much research available on the internet now, whether you want to count macros, follow the Whole 30 plan, go paleo, vegetarian, vegan, it is your choice. Just make sure you do enough research to ensure you are eating enough.
    • EAT THE TREATS. I cannot stress this enough. A fitness journey isn’t about all or nothing, it’s about a continuous process. If you deprive yourself completely from things like ice cream, chocolate, pizza, carbs, eventually you will cave and go overboard when you do eat it. Everything should be part of your diet! Just eat it all in moderation! Finding a balance is hard, and takes practice. We all make mistakes when we are learning how to fuel the body to maximize the effort. You’re human! Forgive yourself for indulging, it’s part of life.
  3. Get OFF the scale.
    • I cannot stress this one enough. Society has brainwashed women into thinking that the scale is a measure of everything they are worth. It’s not. Scales measure the amount of gravitational pull on your body to the earth. That’s it! While people will tell you that muscle weighs more than fat, this is also false. A pound is a pound is a pound. What is true, is that muscle takes up less SPACE than fat. A pound of muscle is smaller than a pound of fat. So while the scale may not change, and your body does, it’s because the fat is lessening and the muscles are growing.
    • Don’t let a number on an electronic thing on the floor measure your worth. Measure things like your happiness, your confidence, how you feel and your energy levels. Are your moods better? Do your clothes fit better and make you happy? These are the things that should define you, not a scale.
  4. Find support.
    • While you need to be your own biggest cheerleader, having support is so helpful. I can’t say enough about the amazing women who are part of the BBG Community, both online and in real life. The amount of amazing ladies who continue to inspire, motivate and encourage me on my Instagram account never cease to amaze me. Without this account, I wouldn’t have started the YYC BBG Meet Ups, I wouldn’t have made so many new friends. These friends understand fitness, the struggles, and what it’s like to always be busy!
    • Tell your family, significant other, real life friends what you are doing. It can be as simple as letting them know that you are workign on becoming healthier, will spend more time in the gym and be eating healthier. Letting them know this ahead of time may help them understand the shift in priorities and diet! You may come across people who don’t understand, or don’t support you. Refer to tip #1. Believe in YOURSELF.
  5. Trust the process.
    • Losing weight, gaining muscles, getting lean, and toning up take TIME. It really doesn’t only take 12 weeks. You can go on your Instagram account and see all the amazing transformations that Kayla posts, or just scroll through the #bbgtransformation hashtag and be amazed at what you see. Then, this amazement can turn into discouragement and frustration that your body hasn’t changed like this. STOP. Every single person is different. Maybe they have a higher metabolism, maybe they do extra cardio, they weigh less/more, they eat differently. My point here is that you don’t KNOW what their journey entails. All you know is yourself.
    • I personally have spent 17 months working on myself! There were plenty of days where I was frustrated that my body wasn’t changing. I became obsessed with week to week changes, which were extremely minimal. So I stopped. I stopped taking those pictures every week and just kept working. It’s been a long, slow process, but every day I try. That is what matters. Slow growth is sustainable growth. Don’t get down on yourself because you don’t look like that girl with clearly defined abs and minimal body fat. This is your journey. It takes time. Trust the work you put in, it will pay off.
  6. Bonus Tip: If you are starting to feel bored, switch things up! Add in spin, yoga, pilates, group exercise classes, hikes, biking, walks, whatever makes you happy! If you do the things you enjoy, you are more likely to stick to it.



Financial compensation was not received for this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.

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