Happy Fathers Day

So much love and respect for this man. He’s the twins hero, their best friend, such a hard worker, a committed husband and incredible and loving father. So thankful for the example he is to them daily. Happy Fathers day to you babe and all the other dad’s out there! 13442407_10102746640507781_2250983739089173629_n

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Marriage: Love Maps

My husband and I both did our undergrads in the same city we now call home. When we first moved into our residence buildings we didn’t know much about the city at all other then where the malls and movie theatres were.  Over time, we got to know the best spots to eat, fun dessert bars and cafes, the best parks and bike trails, and shortcuts through the city. We became so comfortable and soon fell in love with this little city, so much so that we decided to settle down and start a family here after we got married.

Becoming familiar with the map of our surroundings is very similar to a term that John Gottman calls Love Maps in his book “7 Principles for Making Marriage Work“.  It’s the idea that to love someone you have to know them.

When Ron and I first started dating over 10 years ago (crazy I know) we spent A LOT of time together. We were in highschool and we were young and in love? Thats debatable because I truly don’t think you even know what love is at that age haha. We drove to school together, ate our lunch together, spent most evenings together hanging out at one of our homes. A new relationship is so wonderful and new and you want to learn everything you possibly can about the other person. I think it’s safe to say that in spending all that time together we did get to know each other well. We both had a detailed map of the other. We knew each others likes and dislikes,  each others greatest fears and what made the other laugh.  But over time, people change. They grow and they develop new thoughts and new interests. I am no where near the person I was 10 years ago and neither is my husband. We have both changed in SO many ways.

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It takes work, it takes time, it takes effort. Especially after you throw careers and kids in the mix. New stressors, new circumstances, new challenges, not NEAR enough time to spend getting to know each other, I mean really knowing each other. Not just his favourite color, sports team and what he likes on his sub. I don’t think those will ever change. haha I’m talking the thing that makes him most anxious, his newest passions and life goals, the co-worker that pushes his buttons, and how he would really like to spend his free Saturday.

In his book, Gottman says:

Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world. I call this having a richly detailed love map – my term for that part of the brain where you store all the relevant information about your partner’s life. Another way of saying this is that these couples have made plenty of cognitive room for their marriage. They remember the major events in each other’s history, and they keep updating their information as the facts and feelings of their spouse’s world change.

So. This is something that we’ve been seriously working on. Because just like the next couple, we don’t have it all figured out and we get so caught up in the every day motions of life that we often forget to keep working at getting to know each other and putting in the effort to stay intimately familiar with each others lives. So little things like making a point to ask each other about our days over the supper table, having what we call “couch time” to connect for even a few minutes each day, going on walks together, regular date nights (not movies!) and both of us making more effort to pay attention to the little details, the ones that get overlooked but are oh so important.

I truly believe that we should never stop learning about the other no matter where we are in our relationship. Building that love map, just like a real map, is the key to truly knowing each other and then being able to love each other in the way that you each need to be loved.

Have a blessed Monday and thanks for reading!

xo Natalie

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Mondays are For Fresh Starts

A lot of us are so influenced by the people that surround us that we don’t even stop to think about doing things differently. Everyone else works for somebody else (not saying there is anything wrong with this but if you are unhappy, DO something about it). Everyone else hates Mondays.. So many people choose to own cars that aren’t paid for, choose to live in houses that put them in debt, and wear clothes that they put on their credit card thinking this will bring them happiness. In the mean time, their debt continues to accumulate, and they are left feeling forced to work in a job they aren’t passionate about just to pay for all this happiness. Would you not rather travel around the world, create a business you are passionate about, and have time for the things you love? Or are you ok with owning a bunch of STUFF that won’t mean anything some day? I used to hate Mondays too. But now it’s one of my absolute FAVOURITE days of the week! I just LOVE fresh starts. I love getting back into routine and writing down my goals for the week. It brings me so much joy to be at home with my boys but I also love the work I do that doesn’t FEEL like work to me because I love it so much!  If you hate Mondays, maybe it’s time to change something?!3524c7779ee0d16c601eaf6c186458c3

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A Struggle..

Each month, I run online challenge groups where I coach women through a 21 day fitness program with home workouts and easy-to-follow nutrition plans. We’re on day 2 of pre-season in my Faith and Fitness group and already such powerful things are happening. This morning, just as we do each month, we asked the women to share their fears going into a challenge like this so that we can encourage each other and conquer them together! One of the women who’s beginning her second round opened up and shared something that stopped me in my tracks. It stopped me because it resonated with me. I had been there and I have battled with the exact struggle she shared.  She said that since she’s started being more health conscious and working out/eating clean, that she’s become “overly critical of her body and hyper aware of her imperfections” She finished by claiming that she refuses to make this an idol in her life and she wants to get to a place where strength is more valued than physique and health more than beauty”.  In my head, I was like “yes, yes YES!! I’m so glad thats not just me. I’m so glad you said that because thats been a struggle of mine recently too.” See here I am a fitness coach, motivating, and encouraging others, yet over and over again, I am coached myself by the other women in the group. I am inspired by their words and their realness. I am pushed and stretched to do things I never normally would.

See, there was a night a few weeks back where I was about to jump in the shower and all of a sudden I found myself bawling to my husband in the living room. I told him that I wasn’t going to workout anymore because there was no point. Crazy, I know. I could go on and on telling you all the amazing results I’ve gotten since I began my journey….the weight loss, the strength in my arms and legs, the new energy, the lowered stress levels etc.,  But that night, I was focused on my flaws…my imperfections. One thing in particular.  I said “look at my tummy, just look at it. I’m supposed to be a fitness coach! I’ve been working so hard for 5 months now and look at me!” He lovingly told me like he always does that I looked amazing and asked me what I was talking about. This frustrated me even more though because how could he not see what I was talking about. He had to be lying to me. Was he blind?

See, after carrying 2 nearly seven pound babes at the same time, my stomach was stretched to the MAX. After giving birth, I have a fairly large ab separation and I guess for bad skin elasticity, I can thank genetics?

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Although I’ve been able to tighten up my belly significantly, (you should have seen it before!) that little wrinkly pouch is going no-where anytime soon. I could do 10-min abs every day all day and nothing would help that stretched out skin. In fact, the more weight i’ve lost, the worse the skin issue has gotten. How frustrating is that?!?! So back to the talk with my husband…he told me that night that my focus was in the the wrong place. That I’m taking care of my body and exercising and eating healthy and thats all that matters. He told me I can’t obsess over things that I can’t change. I knew that. I told my challengers this sort of thing all the time. But that night, that wasn’t the answer I was looking for. Being the professional trainer he is, I wanted him to whip out some secret moves I could do to make the wrinkles go away. I already knew no expensive stretch mark cream was going to do a thing…been there, done that.  But nope. I jumped into the shower, wiping away my tears. He was right and I knew it but we can so easily fall into the trap of getting caught up in our imperfections, our flaws, the things we can’t change and this will really affect us in a negative way. I ended my little pity party in the shower that night because I knew better. But reading that quote by that challenger this morning really  hit home. It’s  not my intention to ever make this new fitness journey an idol in my life but I know that from from time to time I have been guilty of just that. I have to be so so careful not to let it become an unhealthy obsession, focusing on trying to be a certain size, or “fixing” a certain part of my body.

SO here I am sharing my stretched out mum-tum with you because it’s about time things got real around here and maybe, just maybe someone will be able to relate.  I have two beautiful baby boys and I would pick them over smoothed out abs a million times over.

So let me reiterate (mostly for myself) why I’m so committed to bettering my health and fitness. I want to take care of my body. I want to be STRONG and HEALTHY. I want to have the energy to chase my twins around at the park. I want to be around for as long as I possibly can to see my babies grow up and have babies of their own. I want to travel the world with my husband some day. I want to feel young when my age says otherwise. So take THAT stretched out tum.

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Thanks for reading!

Natalie

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My Journey with Running – The First six weeks

Whenever I would see someone running past our house or through the park I would always think “good for them, wish I could do that”. I actually thought I couldn’t run you guys. I had tried multiple times in the past and failed. Completely failed. But I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know I had to learn to run.   I thought I was in shape and would just wake up and decide “I’m going to be a runner today” and attempt a half hour run around the neighbourhood. I just figured that since I could barely run for 4 minutes without being out of breath and hating my life that I would NEVER be able to run 5k, let a lone a 10k? or a half marathon? No way.

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Boy was I wrong. First of all, you can do anything you set your mind to. It might take you longer than someone else. You might have to work harder than someone else, but you can do it. Second of all, I was setting myself up for failure by not taking baby steps to where I wanted to go. You need a goal and you need action steps to get there.

Over coffee back at the start of March, my friend Sophie and I were chatting about anything and everything while our kids played noisily around us and for some reason I mentioned that I wish I could run. She told me if I was really serious about wanting to, she would do it with me. She told me about this awesome learn to run app called Couch to 10k that she had successfully used several years back and actually grew to love running. I wasn’t convinced as I legitimately thought I wasn’t “the running type”.  I told her I would be left behind in the dust and hold her back so I didn’t think she’d want me as a running partner. But after some coaxing and encouraging, she had me convinced that I could do this. That it started off really easy and trained you to build your stamina slowly and surely. I had already been working out consistently for the past 4 months so I couldn’t be in that bad of shape.

This is when things got real. Before Sophie left that day, we committed to running 3 days a week together starting the next week. I was terrified before my first run. I was prepared to fail miserably once again. But to my surprise, that first week of runs was so simple and FUN! The running intervals were so short at first that it was so doable for anyone and made you believe that you could  do this. Walk for 3 min….run for 1…walk for 3…run for 2, walk for 1, run for 2 and so it continued.  Each week, the intervals of running time get longer and the walks get shorter. At 6 weeks through the program, we’re currently up to 15 min increments of running and all you runners out there are probably laughing at me but thats ok. I actually can’t believe I am able to do that without literally dying. It’s such an AMAZING feeling after we finish, to run up my driveway and have that feeling of I did it, I’m doing it,  I can do this. 

So I thought I would share some things I learned during my first 6 weeks of running:

Use an app. As I mentioned above, It’s so important to learn to run. Don’t make my mistake and try and train yourself with running 10-15 min intervals right off the bat. It doesn’t sound like a long time but it IS when you’re running and when you have’t run before.  You have to train your body slowly.  There are lots of different running apps out there but I would HIGHLY recommend couch to 10k! It’s so easy to use and I just love the structure of the program!

Running with a partner. – ok this was/is HUGE for me. In running my challenge groups over the past 5 months, I have really come to realize the IMPORTANCE of accountability. Some days you just don’t want to do it and you need someone telling you can! Sophie has been my biggest motivator since the start and I’m so thankful to have her with my during this journey! I probably would have give up the first time I had that bad run. And definitely not kept up with 3 runs each week for the past 6 weeks. Even when I was sick for a few days and we missed 1 out of the 3, she insisted we do 4 the next week. We push each other and I truly believe, having a running partner has played such a huge role in my journey thus far.

Be Consistent – when I missed that one run because I was sick that week, I could totally feel it during my next run. Follow the program and actually run 3 times a week! Consistency is key to building your stamina and progressing.

Time of Day – I think that time of day can really play a part in the success of your run. I find I feel the most energized during a run in the evenings so we run around 8 or 9. I love that it’s cooler out by that time too. We’ve tried running at 8 in the morning and also around 5.  I just wasn’t feeling it for either of those times. Although I do my workouts at 7 each morning, I realized that it’s just not my time of day to get out for a run and I also hadn’t eaten breakfast because I didn’t want to get a cramp so I had NO energy.

Some days you love it, other days you HATE it.  Don’t give up! I remember having a really exhausting run where I hated every minute of it, felt like I was so out of breath, felt like I was going to collapse and came home and told my husband that I’m not going to run anymore because I was actually right, I can’t do it. But then the next time I went out (thanks to my running partner, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have) I loved every minute of it. I felt so invigorated and by the time our run was done, I felt like I could run another 15 min. Just like any workout or sport, some runs are going to be easier and leave you feeling energized and some runs are just going to plain suck. DON’T GIVE UP. Keep getting out there.

The importance of stretching – I learned the importance of stretching the hard way. I knew I should stretch but I just got lazy and would forget most of the time. About my 3rd week in, I had intense soreness in my right calf before and during a run. I didn’t know if I could get through it but I couldn’t let my running partner down so I pushed through and basically limped back to my house convinced my venture in running was over because my calf was destroyed. My kinesiologist husband whipped me back into shape though! He had me stretch it out doing various exercises for the next three days and reinforced the importance of stretching after each run. By the next run, I was good to go and you better believe I don’t miss a stretch routine anymore!

Change up the Terrain and Route – I’ve found that it’s important to keep challenging yourself and changing things up to keep it fun and exciting. Otherwise it can start to get boring and monotonous. Change up your route so you have a change of scenery! It’s also important to change up the terrane. One day, half of our run was up hill. It was brutal but it challenged us and really worked those muscles! It’s important to keep things fresh and challenge yourself.

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I still have so far to go but I’d call my first 6 weeks a success and I hope that if you’re considering running, this might motivate you to give it a try. If I can do it you can too. Trust me. In 6 weeks, I’ll be running 10k stretches. This is WILD to me. I’ll give you an update about how it’s going around then!

Thanks for reading you guys! xoxo

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