Diverse Mothers United Through Fitness

Culturally, as women, we are taught at a young age to aspire for marriage and children. However in today’s day in age, it’s far more common for women to go about it alone running single parent households. For the economic standards have vastly improved allowing women to work outside the home.
Aspiring for marriage isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not something we should continue to teach our girls, simply because it’s been passed on generation to generation. The problem with relying on a man to seemingly “fix” our problems by taking our hand in marriage and giving us children, is we begin to lose our sense of identity. Loss of personal identity for a woman is even harder when that woman becomes a mother.
What I am trying to say is, no relationship is guaranteed. Half of all marriages in the US result in divorce, and many women now choose to raise their children alone because they have the ability to do so. The problem with settling in an unhappy relationship, is we teach our children that it’s okay.
We teach them to find their worth in another human being, essentially failing them in the long run. What we should be teaching our children is how to be self sufficient, fostering their dreams so they can establish a sense of self identity. By figuring out who you are, what you are passionate about, you’ll find your purpose in life.
It’s okay to aspire for marriage and children, but it shouldn’t be the ultimate end all goal for anyone. Once you establish your identity, and what makes you happy, it will allow you to find and maintain a healthy relationship. The purpose of a relationship isn’t to find someone to complete you, but add to your life, because you are already complete.
As No Excuse Moms, we come from different backgrounds, but united we stand as mothers looking to improve physically so we can conquer motherhood together. That being said, as a single mother myself, I’ve encountered “mom-shamers.” These are the women who like to put down other women who aren’t married like they are, pointing out the flaws in their life that led them to be a single parent, as if their marriage and family are perfect.
This is not okay. As a single parent, we are exhausted trying to keep it all together for our children, lacking the emotional support of a partner. The last thing we need from other women are the judgments.
I get it, when women get together talking about their family is instinctual, but putting others down because their life went in a different direction is just wrong. In order to have a more inclusive group of moms supporting moms, we need to focus on strengthening each other emotionally as well as physically. Everyone is fighting their own personal battle that we are unaware of, that’s why it’s important to be kind.
As a group of diverse women, No Excuse Mom is more than a workout group for moms, it’s a supportive group of moms coming together making motherhood a little easier for everyone. But in order to do that, we need to drop the judgments, open our heart to those that are different than us, and stop trying to on-up each other social media. No Excuse Mom is an an all inclusive group of women who share similar interests bonded by the fact that we are all mothers, united through fitness.

How I Found My Excuses

From 2016 to 2018: My excuses gained strength over 18 months and I gained about 30 lbs.

Being a No Excuse Mom means different things to different people. For many, it signifies the transition they made while dropping their excuses as to why their health, and themselves as a whole, weren’t a priority in their lives. For others it is solidifying the healthy habits they have already established into their lifestyle. The common thread for No Excuse Mom is making us, as mothers, a priority because when you take care of yourself you can better take care of the precious ones in your life.

Personally, I fell into the latter category when I became a member of the NEM tribe. I was a stay at home mom first and foremost plus a part-time personal trainer. Health and fitness have been a big part of my life ever since high school when was a dancer.  Marrying young, I lost a bit of that passion as I navigated military spouse life but it quickly rekindled when I had my daughter in 2007. I was so in awe of the amazing feat my body had accomplished, creating this beautiful child and nourishing her for the first few months of her life. I made it a priority to take care of my body with healthy food choices and lots of movement through traditional gym workouts, yoga, and dancing (I still teach). I was blessed with my son in 2013, shortly after gaining an ACE Personal Trainer Certification and was absolutely thrilled to become part of the No Excuse Mom movement in 2014 after discovering Maria Kang on Instagram. It was a perfect fit for my lifestyle and passions! I established the still strong NEM local group at Fort Meade, Maryland and soon took on the role of Region III Manager. It was a wonderful time in my life that awarded me amazing experiences, friendships, and memories.
My life then took a complete derailment in the spring of 2016 when my husband of 11 years told me he was leaving. As you can imagine, I was sent reeling as my life seemingly crashed down around me. I made the decision to step away from Facebook for various reasons, which is the main communication mechanism for the No Excuse Mom community. Eventually, and with much heartbreak, I stepped back from the organization completely and stopped personal training so I could start earning a steady income at a 9 to 5 job.

                This is when the excuses started building.

It is commonplace for the members of No Excuse Mom to celebrate how they “lost their excuses” on their health journey, and for obvious reasons. Sharing ones triumphs is a great motivator to others on similar paths! But I now recognize that by traveling that road backwards, in a sense, I have the opportunity to analyze how these excuses take hold in the first place. My hope is that this knowledge will serve to add another layer of insight for those starting their fitness journeys AND prevent those who have made those huge strides worth applauding from having relapses and repeating the same mistakes.

Excuse #1: My physical health is not a priority.

At the core of No Excuse Mom is the idea that your well-being influences the well-being of your family, friends, and community. After all, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you best take care of others? After I separated from my husband my main focus was re-stabilizing my life while simultaneously shielding my children from the immense pain I was feeling.  I was entrenched in job hunting, setting up childcare for my youngest, and then shifting my lifestyle from a stay at home mom to a working mom. While I had periods of hyper focus, they were often interrupted by severe depressive thoughts and apathy. I was often so burned out that I no longer cared what I ate. I overate unhealthy foods as a coping mechanism. I didn’t see my workouts and nutrition as something worthwhile because there were so many stressors in my life. I was in therapy each week and was only concentrating on my mental and emotional health.
In hindsight, regular exercise would have been a fantastic way to manage the dark thoughts and anxiety that ran rampant through my brain and the pizza and cookies did nothing to combat my constant fatigue. Had I used the tools that I preached to my clients I would have been much better off. While my mental health and the logistics of shifting to a single mom were important, my physical health was important too. It all ties together in a symbiotic relationship and neglecting one part only hinders the others.

Before: Life as a SAHM, part time personal trainer, and NEM Leader meant my health and fitness were a big priority.


Excuse #2: The weight I am gaining isn’t that big of a deal.

In the grand scheme of things, gaining a few extra pounds on my then lean physique was totally fine. I stayed in a healthy weight and body composition range for about a year, but during that time I was slowly gaining body fat by overeating and atrophying my hard earned muscle due to lack of exercise. By the time my clothes were starting to get snug, I was too comfortable with “treating” myself to sweets and overeating at dinner. That was my new normal because I had given myself slack for so long. I am all about splurging in moderation, I actually think it is a very healthy practice, but moderation slipped into daily overindulgence without my even realizing. It is very difficult to retrain habitual thinking and it wasn’t until I was 30 pounds heavier and near the “overweight” BMI range that I started to make serious changes. We all have seasons in life and I don’t beat myself up for gaining some weight, but turning a blind eye for too long will eventually lead to big issues.

Excuse #3: I don’t have enough time.

This is a big excuse for everyone. We live in a fast paced world and most moms are pulled in fifteen different directions. Between working three jobs, keeping up with extracurricular activities for the kids, and the time suck that is East coast traffic, I didn’t see how I could possibly fit in time to work out and/or meal prep. The fact of the matter is that if something is a priority you will find a way to squeeze it in. I reprioritized and now I hit the gym in the morning before work on weeks that I don’t have my kids, leaving the evenings free for errands, social engagements, or another job haha! I make extra portions of anything I cook for a healthy lunch the next day or another quick dinner on busy weeknights. Sometimes I have to buck up and meal prep at 9:30 at night, but I know I will otherwise spend just as much time scrambling to make something later while adding to my big ole’ bucket of stress. Making time to exercise also gives me more energy, essentially adding another productive hour to my evening to clean or simply decompress after the kids are in bed.

Current: Now that I have settled into my life as a divorced working mom I have slowly gotten back on track on my health and fitness journey.

Excuse #4: I just need to get through this week and then I will start exercising and clean up my diet.

Each week seemed to bring struggles whether it was fighting with my ex or just dealing with the day to day stress of being a mom fresh to full time work. For 18 months I kept telling myself that it would be better next week and I would start out that Monday on the right foot, but I think I can speak for everyone when I say that “next week” doesn’t hold that magic we are hoping for. Life never stops and neither do the stresses, deadlines, and lovely surprises like flat tires or sickness. I will ALWAYS have a full plate each week. Some times of the year will be fuller than others (holidays, dance recital season, traveling), but motivation isn’t dependent on the calendar. You can start working on yourself wherever you are in life, no matter the circumstances. The intensity of the effort and subsequent changes may ebb and flow but positive change is still positive change, no matter the size. I plan to start school in the summer or fall, and I know it will be rough to keep up on my health journey, but in the end I will be much better off continuing the hard work than putting it on the back burner until the end of the term.

Do any of these excuses sound familiar?
What other ones might you add from your personal experience?
Comment below and share your thoughts!

Dear NEM Leaders…

Today someone quit being a NEM Leader.
It was hard hearing the news because she exemplified the endearing, inspirational and charismatic qualities most leaders have. She had an incredible weight loss story and co-led a large city hosting hundreds of members.
She was frustrated by the constant excuses. I totally get it. Which is why I firmly asked years ago, “What’s Your Excuse?
Like her, I have also sat in a park with my children in tow waiting for 20 minutes for someone to show. I have posted weekend events, received several RSVPs, only to get cancellations at the very last minute. Since I started my first group in 2009, it’s been a series of ups and downs, laughs and irritations, motivation and failure…
I want to tell our leaders to not take it personally. That what you do is appreciated. That you are making a difference whether you know it or not.
But I know it’s hard to hear.
It’s hard to hear when you base your success off attendance. After all, how successful do you feel when you have hundreds of members and only a loyal 3 show up weekly?
Like looking at the scale after weeks of dieting, it’s not often recommended to base your progress from a number on a plastic machine. When you see the unmoving numbers you don’t see how many healthier meals you’ve eaten, how much more water you’ve consumed, how many workouts you completed and how many times you followed through even though you were tired, stressed, depressed and unmotivated.
Despite the attendance, it doesn’t take away from the moment you enthusiastically committed to becoming a leader, to promote a healthier community for your city and your family. It doesn’t take away your discipline to show up weekly and often times still workout, while your child watches and performs planks with you. It took courage to start a local NEM group. It took persistence to get it going. It took patience to watch it grow…and it will take commitment to see it through.
Don’t let any number take away what you gained in the process of stepping outside your comfort zone and doing something less than 5% of the population can do. Because let’s face it. Most people are not leaders. Most people are not healthy. Most people do not live an active lifestyle. So most people will not show up – even when they say they will.
I’ve always loved the phrase, “it’s not a matter of if, but when.” After all, it’s only a matter of time when people start to take care of the only thing they own in this world – which is their body. It’s only a matter of time when their clothes don’t fit, when their body aches, when their strength weakens and their confidence decreases. When they are ready, they will decide to show.
Until then, there’s a lot of excuses to overcome.
Yep. We’re back to that word. Excuses.
As a No Excuse Mom group, it seems there’s a lot of excuses why there’s little group engagement. Is it time? Is it content? Is it location? Is it you???
I am thankful for you and whether your members express it or not, they are too. You’re their leader. How do you do it all? With kids, often times work, a husband and extracurricular obligations – HOW? How do you stay so motivated? How do you maintain your fitness, stay so positive and show up week after week? Do you ever get tired? Do you ever not want to workout? Do you ever feel like quitting? Because there you are – posting week after week – smiling at the park, posting an encouraging workout and exemplifying what many moms hope to be.
You are not just a hero in your home, you represent hope for so many moms. YOU are their constant. Please don’t give up – you are the change we want to see in this world!
Thank you No Excuse Mom Leaders. I know this effort isn’t easy. I know you have a thousand things on your plate and yet you prioritize your group. It’s become a part of your weekly schedule. It’s become a part of your child’s life. It’s become a part of your city’s events.
It’s become a part of you.
YOU are a No Excuse Mom.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Top 9 Diet Mistakes

Dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry that grows every year — right along with a large majority of the population’s waistlines. Something is wrong with that, wouldn’t you say?
What’s going on? Why do millions of people desperately want to lose weight, but fail?
In most cases, they’re making some of the following diet mistakes. Learn to not make these mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to weight-loss success.
 Mistake #1: Is following any type of extreme diet. This would be your typical low-fat, or low-carb, or extreme low-calorie diet that we hear so much about. Weight loss may be a side effect of a short-term diet, but diets can have detrimental effects on long-term health. Furthermore, many people gain back the weight they originally lost and more. This is why people should learn how to implement healthy strategies for a lifestyle, not just as short-term fix. The healthiest diet of all is one that can be maintained over the long haul and has you eating real food that doesn’t eliminate any of the three macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat. For weight loss, it is still important to find out what your daily estimated energy requirements are and eat below that amount, but again eliminating any particular food group is not necessary and can actually be detrimental to long-term, and many times even short-term success.
Mistake #2: Taking on too much, too soon. This is the single biggest reason why most people fail in their diets. They become so excited about starting a diet that they give up all their favorite foods on the first day. Then they grow discouraged and give up. To avoid this, try to slowly adapt yourself to new eating habits. After a month, you’ll have changed your diet drastically without experiencing the shock of a complete turnaround.
Mistake #3: Eliminating fats. In fact, you need healthy sources of fat to maintain essential body functions, sustain energy levels, slow digestion and feel fuller longer. For years, nutritionists and doctors have preached that a low-fat diet is the key to losing weight, managing cholesterol, and preventing health problems. But that actually proved to be a big fat lie (pun intended). It’s more than just the amount of fat; it’s the types of fat you eat that really matter. Despite what you may have been told, fat isn’t always the bad guy in the waistline wars. Bad fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats, are guilty of the unhealthy things all fats have been blamed for—weight gain, clogged arteries, and so forth. But good fats such as the monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s have the opposite effect. In fact, healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight. Including healthy fats in your diet is good for you and can actually help you lose weight. Healthy fats include: vegetable and nut oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, fish and tofu.
Mistake #4: Eliminating carbohydrates. Carb-free diets are popular because of the dramatic weight loss that can occur. But this is typically due to several reasons. First, most of the weight lost is from water, not fat. Second, when you’re on a carb-free diet, most processed foods are eliminated — and these are the foods that tend to add the most calories. Once you return to your old eating habits, the water weight returns, as do those high-calorie processed foods that lead you to gain weight. Complex, high-fiber carbohydrates like brown rice, beans and lentils should be part of any diet regimen.
Mistake #5: Reducing calories too much. This often leads to yo-yo dieting. When you follow an extreme diet, you’ll lose a lot of weight at first — but then your body will catch on and lower your metabolism to accommodate the reduced supply of fuel. Then, when you return to your normal diet — wham! You regain that weight because you’re now consuming more calories.
Skimping on calories ultimately decreases metabolic rate as the body tries to conserve energy. This is why low-calorie eaters may feel lethargic. Furthermore, as metabolism slows, the body subsequently burns fewer calories, leading to a greater susceptibility for weight gain when more calories are inevitably consumed. To keep energy levels high and metabolism revved up, it’s important for people to meet their daily calorie needs. And since the body uses energy-yielding carbohydrates, protein, and fat in very specific ways, consuming each in proportion to the other is essential to ensure sufficient energy to complete daily tasks, feel good, and to maintain an optimal state of health.
Mistake #6: Eating too much healthy food or choosing incorrect portion sizes. Eating too much of anything leads to weight gain. No matter how healthy the food is, a calorie is still a calorie. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your body burns, no matter the source. Also, many people aren’t aware of what an appropriate portion size really is. They eat much larger portions than they need to, which inevitably leads to weight gain.
Mistake #7: Skipping exercise. Many people are trying to lose weight — but only 15 percent exercise regularly. Clearly, there’s a disconnect here. You may not enjoy exercise very much — but if you want to lose weight, you simply have no choice.
Mistake #8: Consuming too much alcohol. Many people believe that alcohol doesn’t contain a lot of calories. This is especially the case with red wine. In fact, alcohol is loaded with empty calories (for example, five fluid ounces of red wine contains 125 calories). Limit your intake and include the calories in any alcohol you consume as part of your daily calorie count. Sorry — there are no freebies!
Mistake #9: The “one-size-fits-all” approach.  Don’t assume that what worked for Jim or Jane will work for you. Dave may be able to eat dessert after every meal without gaining a pound, while Mark gains three pounds just looking at a piece of cake. Melissa may be able to fast all afternoon with no cravings, while Judy craves sugar on the three-hour mark after her last meal. When it comes to our unique bodies, metabolism and genetics, we aren’t all created equal. What works for someone else may not work for you. Also know that people often post their successes MUCH more than they post their struggles. Just because the struggles and ups and downs aren’t posted about as much, doesn’t mean that every single person doesn’t face them. So understand there might be some trial in error and figuring out what works for you with your weight loss journey, and that is okay!
Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)
Official NEM Nutritionist
For the past several years, Felicia has been working at a university research centre with a focus on food security (Food Action Research Centre), and has taught university level nutrition courses. Her passion lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has recently published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FeliciaNewellNutrition
Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition

The waist training controversy…

Today I want to talk about a “fitness fad” that is happening right now, that is actually a throwback to Victorian times…WAIST TRAINING or cinching or corseting. I will start off by saying I am completely against this and pretty much any other fitness fad that is unhealthy, unrealistic, or dangerous. The human body comes with an internal corset of muscles called the TRANSVERSE ABDOMINALS or TVAs. These muscle are deep in the body and provide shape, support and strength for the entire core and trunk. These muscles are necessary for total body strength and health, as well as for proper posture, alignment, stability and spine mobility. What waist training is doing is restricting the use of those super important muscles by squeezing the torso tightly whereby you can not engage them yourself. The effect being a seemingly smaller waist…but a totally weak core and with that the potential for injury to your back. I am reading all of these articles about Jessica Alba and the Kardashians wearing corsets after having babies to quickly bounce back to an even tighter middle than before having babies. It’s CRAZY. ‘
These celebrities are paid millions of dollars in endorsements and royalties to wear these products and promote them, whether they are healthy or not! They also have the money to hire chefs and nutritionists and trainers to make sure they get back to pre-baby body as quickly as possible, regardless of how unhealthy it may be. It is a temporary fix and they are not telling you the whole story. You should not wear a waist trainer while exercising or sleeping…but so many women are. This is dangerous.
You need to be able to engage your own muscles while lifting weights or running or whatever form of exercise you choose. You need to create strength not weakness. It is not a support to wear a corset. It is restrictive to your breathing and to your body’s natural movements. I know I am standing on a soapbox, but as a professional in the fitness industry, I can not stand by silently. This is not opinion. This is physiological fact. The other issue is that these products proclaim that they help to burn belly fat. I’m sorry to tell you, but You can not spot reduce fat. If you have fat around your midsection and you wear a waist trainer, all you are doing is pushing that fat up and down…exercise and a healthy diet reduces fat all over the body!
You may sweat a lot in the area you are squeezing with a corset, but all you are losing is water, not fat. Body shape is determined mainly by genetics. If you don’t have an hourglass figure, it’s not likely you will get one naturally. To get the physique you long for, it takes hard work and dedication to a fitness regimen and a healthy balanced diet…not a magic pill or a magic corset. There is no “quick fix” that actually works for the long term. These fads come and go, but what has stayed tried and true is healthy eating and consistent exercise…it might take longer and may be more difficult, but that is what works!
Vanessa Lynn Campos is mom to 2 boys, Kai and Rocky. Her interest in fitness began at age 15, having been a dancer, cheerleader and soccer player.  She studied dance at Beijing Dance Academy in Beijing, China and the London Contemporary Dance School at The Place in England. Her professional opportunities also included working with internationally acclaimed dance photographer, Lois Greenfield, who featured Vanessa in her 2007, 2008, and 2013 calendars.  Her professional fitness career began in NYC in 2002.
Website: www.vcnfitness.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNMjjNYW_o3Hb6e1p8Kex8A

6 Tips for Self-Motivation

One of the very first (and most difficult) steps to making a lifestyle change is finding the motivation. Without it, we may know the ‘right’ things to do, but not quite be able to put that into practice.
You, like many others, might struggle with self-motivation from time to time. This means you may have a hard time getting yourself to your regularly scheduled workout, or will try and find more and more reasons to stray away from your healthy changes.
But guess what? You won’t be alone! We all struggle with motivation sometimes, but here are some tips that can help you self-motivate and reach your goals.

A healthy dose of motivation coupled with determination will get you almost anything in life (again sometimes it just takes time and effort to find it). So how do you know if you’re genuinely motivated?

  • Motivation will tell you to get to your workout no matter what.
  • Motivation will nag you to put down the doughnut.
  • Motivation makes passing on fries a reflex.
  • Motivation makes a sweat drenched workout exciting.
  • Motivation constantly reminds you why you do what you do.

The key to staying motivated is similar to fuel in a car—you don’t need the motivation tank to be full to drive, you just need to prevent it from running empty. Do not waste precious time and energy on staying highly motivated because motivation has a natural rhythm. Most people see a drop in motivation as a signal of failure, but it’s not. Weight loss and lifestyle changes are not a linear process; it is an up and down roller coaster ride – as with success in anything in life.
Self-Motivating Tip #1: Find Your Motivator.
Motivation stems from having a goal. What is your goal? Why do you want to get into great shape and/or make a lifestyle change?
Once you uncover your personal motivator you’ll find that motivation flows quickly your way.
Take a minute to really uncover the reason that you want to lose the weight. Don’t say something vague like you want to ‘Be thinner’ or ‘Look more attractive.’ Dig deeper – there is a very specific motivator in your life, you simply need to uncover it.
Here are some possible motivators…

  • I want to have more energy to keep up with the kids.
  • I want to improve my health through weight loss to extend and improve my life.
  • I want to lose 15 pounds before my vacation.
  • I want to restore my confidence to wear sleeveless shirts.
  • I want to regain my figure to impress and attract my significant other.

It’s great that you have the family wedding to motivate you in the meantime, but try and find some other motivators so that when the wedding has come and gone, you will still have that drive and determination.
Keep reminding yourself why you started in the first place, and that continuing to push forward in any way will get you further 3 months, 1 year, 5 years from now. Many people find asking the following questions help:

  • If I stop making changes, how will I feel in six months or one year from now?
  • If I stop making changes, what will my health be like?
  • If I stop making changes, how will my family and friends be affected?

Self-Motivating Tip #2: Make It Official.
When you write something down it tends to feel more official. Write down your motivator for getting into great shape, and post it where you will see it often—next to your alarm clock, on the bathroom mirror, or in your car.
Each time you see your written motivator take a moment to visualize yourself accomplishing your goal. Try to make the scene as clear in your mind as possible. This is a powerful tool for maintaining your focus and direction.
Even posting on Facebook your plans and goals can be a huge motivator – the more you tell people about your goals, the more drive you will have to achieve them.
Self-Motivating Tip #3: Be Practical.
It’s game plan time. You know what you want, and now you need to map out exactly how you’ll achieve it. It is important to be practical in your planning, rather than throwing out ideas that you know you won’t stick with. The secret to success is to break down your healthy living goals into mini goals that are easy to manage. Start with one small, clear goal that is right for you. This is often referred to as developing ‘SMART’ goals. SMART stands for goals that are: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-framed. Setting “SMART” goals can also help you achieve bigger goals you may want to set for yourself over time. For more info on SMART goals, visit here.
With any weight loss goal it is important to 1) maintain a healthy diet, and 2) participate in a consistent and challenging exercise program.
Plan a routine that will fit into your schedule and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. It is important to sit down and find the best days and times to fit it in. Then write it in a schedule and treat it like a an important commitment!
Self-Motivating Tip #4: Call For Backup.
Enlist the support of your friends, family and co-workers if you can. Tell everyone about your goal to lose weight and get fit, you’ll be surprised how supportive most people will be. By being open about your goals you’ll likely be an encouragement to others to make healthy changes in their own lives. And if they don’t that’s okay! But finding at least one person and supporter could help significantly. Even an online community such as a local free ‘No Excuse Mom’ group, or the larger ‘No Excuse Moms’ Facebook support group could help you stay motivated.
Self-Motivating Tip #5: Be Easy on Yourself.
If you notice that your motivation is waning, give yourself a break from your diet or exercise plan for one to three days. The problem with motivation is that the more people try to ‘catch’ it, the more elusive it becomes; by allowing it to run its natural course and at the same time having a set of habit-changing skills (such as a meal plan for the week), you’ll stay on track and your motivation levels will run their natural course.
Self-Motivating Tip #6: Practice Integrity in Other Areas of Your Life.
For example, clean out your closet (finally), pay off your debts, make good on your promises to friends, family, or co-workers. Practice sticking with promises or commitments you’ve made in other areas of your life in order to strengthen your own subconscious belief that you are able to uphold the promise of losing weight that you’ve made to yourself.
If you need help with developing SMART goals, finding your motivation, or someone to provide you with the knowledge and support to help you with your journey, I now offer 25% off my services for NEM members (use the promo code NEM25). Click here to see an overview of the services I offer. All counseling programs include a customized meal guide (breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks), calculation of Total Estimated Energy Expenditure (daily caloric requirements to reach your goals), continuous one-on-one counseling and support, recipes, progress assessments and plan adjustments (if necessary), and more.
– Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)

Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. For the past several years, Felicia has worked at a university research centre with a focus on food security, food access, and policies relating to food; she has taught university level nutrition courses; and she is currently working at a large chain grocery store helping her community make healthier choices. One of Felicia’s passions is helping others fight through the confusing misinformation that is out there in the ever-changing and growing world of food and nutrition. Another one of her passions lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.
Read more about her story here, and on her Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.

Why We Are Not Failures, And The Truth About Fad Diets

This post will discuss why changing our habits is not supposed to be easy, why we are not failures if we struggle to make changes, how to choose the right weight loss program, and how someone can lose weight in this day and age. 
A Brief Introduction – We are not failures…and why it’s not supposed to be easy.
There is a juxtaposition between the commonly held believe that weight loss is easy, and the extremely real, solid evidence that it is not. This leads many individuals to believe that weight is a reflection of personal weakness and failed character, and that success is predetermined by your ability to suffer and endure hardship (that is often required with fad/restrictive diets). Not only do these fad, and sometimes extremely restrictive diets not work, but these diets themselves may break people. Many people feel that if they cannot adhere to these restrictive diets long term, that they are failures and just can’t resist temptation. Could it simply be that in just 50 short years the world has gone from a willful place to one filled with weakness?
Here you are: you may have battled your weight possibly even since childhood, you’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on various dieting efforts, and you’re blaming your own lack of willpower? As I see it as evidenced by your ongoing commitment over the years, you have incredible amounts of willpower. I’d go so far as to wager that in all likelihood, you have spent more willpower on weight management than on any other area in your life.
So is it a lack of willpower that has led to the tripling of childhood obesity rates over the course of the past 40 years? Have we suddenly raised a generation of toddlers and elementary school kids who just don’t have the same willpower of prior generations?
Of course not.
It’s not about willpower. If it were about willpower, if it were about just wanting it badly enough, the world would be skinny. It’s about change and it’s about beliefs.
In terms of change, the world is very, very different from what it was just 50 short years ago, and there are many, many things that have an impact upon a person’s choices and weight. These days, cheap calories are everywhere and everyone’s telling us to eat them. Where we used to go to buy gas, there are now junk-food supermarkets. Where eating out used to be a rare treat, it’s now affordable and convenient enough to be a multiple-time-a-week occurrence. And, of course, there are supersized portions and tens of billions of dollars a year of food industry advertising to now contend with, coupled with the fact that high fat/sugar/salt foods light up the pleasure centres in our brains and become addictive, on top of the fact that cost of living has increased dramatically and wage rates have not increased to match inflation (leaving people less and less money to live) – and the list goes on!
It’s a different world now, and the default in this world is weight gain, and simple, brute-force willpower doesn’t stand a chance (for most individuals anyway), without the right knowledge, support, and a few ups and downs along the way.
Why Extreme Fad Diets Do Not Work
A fad diet is a weight loss plan or aid that promises dramatic results. These diets typically don’t result in long-term weight loss and they are usually not very healthy. In fact, some of these diets can actually be dangerous to your health. Examples of these include the ‘Military Diet’, the ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, extremely low calorie diets, etc.
Weight Cycling and Metabolic Slowdown
The more restrictively a person diets, the more likely they are to experience regular weight cycling. It’s like the infamous ‘yo-yo’ effect, but unlike a yo-yo, sometimes the upswing winds up at a higher location than where it started.
The biggest danger to aggressive weight cycling is metabolic slowdown. If a person undertakes an extremely restrictive diet, they are likely to lose a disproportionate amount of muscle – meaning that losing 50 pounds in a very short period of time will cause a greater loss of muscle tissue than losing the same amount of pounds slowly. Muscle is responsible for a fair amount of our total daily caloric burn, and is also of course responsible for much of our feelings of vigor and energy. Consequently, an ultra-rapid 50-pound loss may lead a person to not only lose the actual strength to continue with their efforts, but also suffer from a disproportionate loss of muscle and perhaps an amplified near-starvation adapted metabolic response.
This phenomenon may help to explain why it Is that people who lose large amounts of weight rapidly often regain more than they’d lost despite in fact not eating more than they used to. If that person goes back to the life they were living before their ultra-rapid weight loss (which many do at some point in their lifetime), even though they are not eating any more than they did prior to losing weight, they’ll gain it back more than they lost because their body now burns fewer calories than it used to. Also, the weight they gain back will primarily be fat, which is often why body fat percentages often climb higher following a weight cycle. Click here, here, here or here, for examples of research articles that explain some of the many mechanisms behind weight cycling and metabolic slowdown.
So, how do you choose the right weight loss program, you might ask?
Look for “Red Flags”
The weight loss industry is not regulated, and typically uses appealing marketing ploys, and/or anecdotal stories to make you believe that it is the be all end all weight loss solution. It is up to you to choose a safe and trustworthy weight loss program (not to say you aren’t allowed to get sucked into the wrong program once or twice – we’re all human!).
Here are some “red flags” that may tell you that a program does not meet your health needs:

  • Promises fast weight-loss (more than one kilogram (two pounds) per week).
  • Recommends a very low calorie diet plan (below 800 calories) per day) without medical supervision.
  • Does not encourage long term realistic lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle and overall health. E.g., diets that recommend excluding large groups of food or extreme calorie restriction such as the ‘Military Diet’, ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, etc.
  • Tries to make you dependent on their company by selling you products such as foods or supplements rather than teaching you how to make good choices from regular grocery store food.
  • Does not encourage long term realistic lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle and overall health. E.g., diets that recommend excluding large groups of food or extreme calorie restriction such as the ‘Military Diet’, ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, etc.
  • Employs salespeople who act as “counselors”, but are only trained on the program and the company’s products and not on healthy approaches to help you change your behaviour to help you lose weight.
  • Requires you to sign a long term, expensive contract.
  • Pressures you to sign up right away by offering a “special price”.
  • Does not tell you about risks that may go along with weight loss or their specific program (for example: if you have diabetes and take prescription medication, it may affect you differently after you lose weight).
  • Promotes weight loss aids like starch blockers, fat-burners, herbs, supplements or amino acids that have not been scientifically proven to have any health benefits. Talk to a dietitian or other health professional to find out this information.
  • Does not offer support or follow-up to help you lose weight and keep it off.

If it sounds too good or too easy to be true, it probably is.
So, even with a good weight loss program, how does a person lose weight in this day and age, when it seems that the default is to gain, the environment is toxic, and the deck is conclusively stacked against us, you might ask?
According to the founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, Dr. David Katz, it’s not about developing willpower, it’s about developing skillpower. The good news is that the skills required aren’t the classic triad of suffering, sacrifice, and struggle that fad diets normally require. The skills required are organization, planning, and thoughtfulness – and with those skills, it is possible not only to experience permanency with weight loss, but perhaps more important, it’s possible to enjoy a normal, healthy, and friendly relationship with food. ‘Skillpower’, while it does take time and often support to master, gets easier with time, as the more practice a person has with any particular skill, the better that person will get at it, and the more naturally it will come. It’s also about identifying what works for you and your lifestyle; which again, becomes much easier with time. We are so uniquely different – so comparing ourselves to others does not help.
– Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN, RD(c)
Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. For the past several years, Felicia has worked at a university research centre with a focus on food security, food access, and policies relating to food; she has taught university level nutrition courses; and she is currently working at a large chain grocery store helping her community make healthier choices. One of Felicia’s passions is helping others fight through the confusing misinformation that is out there in the ever-changing and growing world of food and nutrition. Another one of her passions lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.
Read more about her story here, and on her Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.

What is Orthorexia Nervosa, aka Extreme Clean Eating Disorder?

I want to take a moment to introduce a serious, but important topic – Orthorexia Nervosa, or otherwise known as ‘Extreme Clean Eating Disorder’. We all do our best to eat healthy, or ‘clean’, whatever it is we want to call it, but there is a point where the obsession can cause one to overly restrict their diet to a point when there are serious health implications.
More and more every day I see people posting and commenting on just how confusing this whole healthy lifestyle thing can be. The determination of what foods are healthy and which foods are bad for the human body seems to fluctuate with the tides. One month coffee is deemed healthy, the next it is bad for our health. The same can be said for a multitude of other foods and drinks. Despite the ever-wavering evidence for and against the benefits of some foods, the common factor has always been that eating healthy is good for all humans and animals. However, Dr. Steven Bratman termed the phrase orthorexia nervosa in 1997, claiming that the obsession with eating healthy can actually lead to poor overall health. People in this situation can be so scared of certain foods that they are restricting their diet to where they are not getting the nutrients they need. They are either restricting to too little calories overall and/or over-restricting certain foods or types of foods (both of which can lead to malnutrition), and/or they restrict themselves from social situations, which can also have negative health effects. This of course would be the extreme side of this. If someone doesn’t go out for with their friends for one night but instead stays in, eats healthy, and exercises, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they may have orthorexia nervosa. It’s about the obsession, and how much it is consistently impacting their health in a negative way. A very interesting and eye-opening interview with a psychologist and two registered dietitians on this topic can be listened to here.
The Dr. that coined the term orthorexia, was affected by a tragic case where a vegan blogger had died as a result of this disorder. Her heartbreaking story can be read about here. She had been diagnosed with anorexia, but resisted the diagnoses and help because she didn’t feel that it fit her situation. She didn’t fear about being fat or obsessed with being skinny; she was obsessed with eating healthy. This unfortunately ultimately led to her untimely death due to malnutrition.
This is why I at least want to start a conversation about this and make people aware – because it is a real thing, and it does happen, and I care about the lives of women. Again, I also understand how confusing the health and fitness world can be and I see the confusion in some of the questions and posts.
There are also people who support the uptake of these fears by society, and this can be equally damaging. I won’t point any fingers or name names, however a popular blogger who tends to shame others’ food decisions is discussed in the interview mentioned above. What I will say is that people shouldn’t be constantly scared that what they are putting in their bodies, and their families bodies, is toxic. This can be psychologically harmful. They should be informed and educated on how to read labels, how to choose more healthy, less process items, but not that everyday food items are toxic. It’s all about balance and people need to know that that.
Not everyone is going to agree with me and that’s OK. I get that not everyone has to agree on everything all of the time (what a boring world that would be). But I thought I would post this in the hopes that it would be eye opening to some. Some of you who, like me, sometimes feel ashamed at some of the food choices that you make. Also, I believe that it is important for this topic to me more aware of and understood. If you, or someone you know, please seek help from an eating disorders specialist. Since the time of Kate’s death, the concept of orthorexia has become much better known, and there is help out there.
Thanks for reading!
Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)
Official NEM Nutritionist
For the past several years, Felicia has been working at a university research centre with a focus on food security (Food Action Research Centre), and has taught university level nutrition courses. Her passion lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has recently published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FeliciaNewellNutrition
Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition

20 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Access to healthy food is a basic human right (at least it should be). Without access to healthy food, people are at a higher risk for conditions such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and obesity.
However healthy foods, along with many other basic costs of living, can add up quickly. These costs of living have increased dramatically over the years, and yet wage rates and income supports have not increased at the same rate of inflation. This means people have to spend more and more money on fixed costs such as housing, electricity, etc., and the most flexible basic expense is the food budget (you can’t pay half of your rent, electricity, or power, but you can sure cut your food bill). Does this seem fair? Many people blame themselves for not being able to afford enough healthy food for their families, when in fact it is more of a societal issue (when you look at the issue as a whole and not on an individual basis). Does this sound like your situation? Then throw away that blame and don’t being so hard on yourself. You are doing the best you can with the social circumstances you are given. And if you’re one of those people who say well people should do this, or shouldn’t do that…just try to be a little more understanding about the fact that everyone is doing their best with their given circumstances.
Most people will say that a healthy diet should be affordable to everyone. The truth for many is, if you have an extremely tight budget for food for the week for yourself and your family (I’ve worked with mothers that have $20 to stretch for the week for food), a few boxes of Kraft dinner and some hot dogs, or a $3 on sale pizza, go much further than an array of lean meats, healthy carbs and veggies. A bottle of pop you can get for 50 cents on sale, yet the same size carton of milk would run about five dollars. The examples are endless. The fact is that many of us have to make some tough choices that we judge ourselves harshly enough about. Healthy eating can be done on a budget, but it takes some time, patience, understanding, effort, and trial and error to figure out the best system that works for you and your family.
Here are some tips for eating healthy on a budget:
1. Buy Generic Food and Store Brands

  • Generic versions of raw foods such as rice, pasta, eggs, milk, cottage cheese, and frozen fruits/veggies taste like brand name foods (or at least comparable), and they’ll save you money on packaging & advertising.

2. Buy in Bulk

  • Especially when there are sales. Foods like pasta, rice and oats are easy to stockpile. If they’re on sale, buy as much as you can afford and store to last you until the next sale.

3. Invest in a Deep Freezer

  • Even if you have to buy one second hand and clean it. It will save you tons of money in the long run because you can stock up on fruits, veggies, meats, etc., when they go on sale.

4. Buy Only What You Need

  • “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. The best way to avoid impulse buying is to prepare yourself before you do the grocery.
  • Plan your meals ahead, including portion size. List all foods you need for the next 7 to 14 days. Go the grocery store, get what’s on your list and get out.
  • Eat before you go shopping. This prevents buying foods not on your list because you’re hungry. Eat a solid meal before doing the grocery.
  • Shop alone as it prevents impulse buying from the significant other and/or kids.
  • Keep a list in the kitchen to write down items that you need to buy for your menu or to restock your pantry.

5. Prepare Your Own Food

  • Cook all your meals for the day on waking up or before going to bed (place ingredients in a slow cooker, or cook and then store in the fridge/freezer). It takes 30-40mins, saves you stress about what you’ll be eating the rest of the day and you eat healthy while saving money. Or choose one afternoon or evening a week to prep some meals for days when you know you will be busy. There are many websites where you can get ideas on family meal prep, such as this one.
  • Reduce processed foods: Buy oats instead of cereals, make home made protein bars, home made tomato sauce, home made pizza (recipes can be found online).
  • Keep it simple: make double portions, take leftovers with you, use cans of tuna & mackerel, rice, pasta, and frozen veggies.
  • Learn to cook from scratch: Learn to work with spices & herbs. Invest in a budget-friendly eating on a budget cookbook, or free sites such as this one for recipes. Note: it takes time, patience and practice to learn new cooking skills (as with learning any new skill). Don’t get frustrated if you burn something or don’t get it right the first time. You will slowly start to develop your skills over time.

6. Make One Meal for Everyone

  • Try to offer everybody the same foods at mealtimes. As tempting as it is to please everyone, avoid making something special for ‘picky’ eaters. Children will learn to like many different foods only if they are encouraged to try them. Making only one meal also saves money and prevents waste. (Disclaimer: this might not be true for some households with picky eaters, so I do understand that sometimes you just ‘gotta do what you gotta do’ with a very picky eater).

7. Offer Water Instead of Juice for Kids

  • Or try diluting juice with water. It’s better for their teeth and also helps reduce the risk for childhood obesity (through drinking too many calories).

8. Plan for Leftovers

  • Make larger amounts of food and plan to use leftovers for lunches or suppers the next day. Add leftover vegetables, meats, fish, or poultry to salads, pastas, soups or spaghetti sauces.

9. Use Community Gardens or CSAs

  • Community gardens offer people the opportunity to grow their own vegetables and fruit. A group of people come together to grow food, maintain the garden and share the harvest. Ask your local community centre or public health department if there is a community garden that you could join.
  • ‘Community Supported Agriculture’ (CSA) refers to a particular network of individuals who provide money to support one or more local farms. CSA subscribers pay at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest; once harvesting begins, they receive weekly shares of vegetables and fruit. Often, CSAs also include herbs, honey, eggs, dairy products and meat, in addition to produce. Check if there is a CSA in your area.

10. Buy Frozen Fruits & Veggies.

  • Unfreeze berries in microwave and eat warm with cottage cheese. Buy large bags of spinach and freeze half of it so it does not go bad; use the fresh spinach in salads and the frozen in cooked recipes. Try frozen beans, broccoli, carrots, corn, etc.
  • Benefits of using frozen fruits and veggies: Saves Money – often half the price of fresh and almost infinite shelf life when kept in freezer; Saves Time – frozen fruits & veggies are pre-washed and pre-cut, which saves preparation time; Nutrient Dense – if frozen right when picked, frozen fruits & veggies can contain just as much or even more nutrients than fresh ones.

11. Plan Easy Meals Around Whole Grains

  • Add meat, chicken or dried beans, peas or lentils and vegetables to brown rice, quinoa, bulgur or barley. Follow the directions on the package to help you cook the grains.

12. Healthier Cereal Options

  • Buy unsweetened whole grain cereals when you can. Sweetened cereals are higher in sugar and are often lower in fibre.
  • Hot cereals like oatmeal and multigrain cereals are the best buys. Instant flavoured hot cereals in single serving packages are easy, but they may cost more and are higher in sugar and salt.
  • Add your own toppings to cereals to make them more flavourful: banana slices, berries, canned fruit, dried fruit (raisins, apricots, dates, dried cranberries), nuts, yogurt, applesauce, chopped apples or cinnamon.

13. Buy Discounted Meat

  • Grocery stores often discount meats by up to 70% as they approach expiration date. Buy several pounds and store in your freezer.

14. Buy Less Expensive Types of Meat, Poultry and Fish

  • Stewing meat
  • Outside, inside or eye of round
  • Blade or flank steak
  • Regular or medium ground meat
  • Pork shoulder
  • Chicken pieces (legs, thighs) or whole chicken (or buy breasts when they are on sale and freeze)
  • Plain frozen fish fillets such as salmon, tilapia, sole, haddock and Pollock
  • Canned fish like salmon, “light” tuna, sardines and herring

15. Keep Portions Small

  • A serving of meat, poultry or fish is just 75 grams (2.5 oz) or about the size of a deck of cards. Have 2 to 3 servings per day. Enjoy meals that use small amounts of meat and lots of vegetables, pasta or rice. Try stir-fries, casseroles, curries and pasta dishes.

16. Lower priced meats can be less tender because they are lower in fat. Try these ways to make meat more tender:

  • Marinate meat overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Pound the meat using a mallet before cooking.
  • Cook meat slowly for a few hours in a liquid such as water, broth or tomato juice.

17. Explore meat alternatives like eggs, dried beans, peas and lentils, soy products and nuts and seeds. Try eating a few meatless meals each week:

  • Curried chickpeas and rice
  • Vegetable cheese omelette
  • Vegetarian bean chilli
  • Lentil casserole or soup
  • Tofu stir-fry
  • Egg salad sandwich
  • Hummus and vegetable pita

18. Ways to Save Money with Dairy Products:

  • Buy milk in 4 L bags or jugs instead of cartons. Milk can be frozen for up to three months. Thaw bags of milk in your refrigerator and shake it before you open it.
  • Skim milk powder costs less than milk and is just as nutritious. Once skim milk powder has been mixed with water, try mixing it with an equal amount of milk from the bag or carton for a creamier taste. You can also use it for cooking or baking. Buy yogurt in a larger container instead of single serve portions.
  • Buy cheese in blocks when it is on sale and slice or grate it yourself.
  • Freeze grated or block cheese to help make it last longer. It will crumble when you thaw it, but it will be just as nutritious.
  • Buy yogurt in a larger container instead of single serve portions. Note: plain yogurt can be used as a much healthier substitute for mayonnaise.
  • Low fat cottage cheese can be a good substitute for regular cheese in some recipes
  • Compare brands and the price of cheese per kilogram.

19. Try These Budget-friendly Meal Ideas

  • Make a stir fry and serve it over brown rice.
  • Toss leftover pasta with diced canned tomatoes, canned or frozen vegetables and cooked meat. Put in a casserole dish and top with grated cheese. Heat in the oven or microwave.
  • Add chopped vegetables and dried fruit to quinoa, bulgur or barley and toss with oil and vinegar salad dressing.
  • Add cooked brown rice or barley to soups.
  • Cheese, bean and vegetable quesadillas on whole grain tortillas.

20. Last but not least – Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

  • Everybody has rough times for various reasons. People are usually too embarrassed to ask for help because there are judgements and stigma out there around this. Try to look past that and understand that no matter what people will always judge. Don’t refrain from seeking help just because there is a lack of understanding around who should and shouldn’t need it.
  • Community Kitchens: are small groups of people who prepare low-cost meals together to divide among their families. Ask your local community centre or public health department to connect you with a group.
  • Food Buying Clubs (e.g. The Good Food Box): The Good Food Box is a non-profit food buying club that makes fresh vegetables and fruit available at an affordable price. Community organizations and volunteers help pack and distribute the boxes. Go to www.foodshare.net to find a Good Food Box program near you.
  • Food Banks and Food Cupboards: provide basic food items to help when you do not have enough money for food. They try to offer healthy foods, but the types and amounts of food you will get depends on what is available. When you find a location, be sure to ask about the hours of operation and what information you should bring with you when you go.
  • Meal Programs: Sometimes you need a place to get a meal when money is tight. Nutritious meals that are free or at a very low cost may be available where you live. Ask about meal programs at local places of worship, community centres and other non-profit organizations in your community.
  • Student Nutrition Programs: Many schools offer breakfast, lunch and/or snack programs for their students. Ask the principal at your child’s school if they offer a nutrition program.

Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)

Official NEM Nutritionist

For the past several years, Felicia has been working at a university research centre with a focus on food security (Food Action Research Centre), and has taught university level nutrition courses. Her passion lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has recently published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.


What’s in a number?

What’s in a Number..?
I learned early that I wasn’t happy with myself. I knew I was overweight and I was told it on a regular basis. My parents picked up a new scale when I was a teenager and I stepped on, ready to judge my success and worth as a human being by the number I looked at. It read 167 pounds. At 5’ 3”, I felt desperate to make that number go down. I felt stupid, fat and ugly. I started to step on the scale every time I passed by it. I found myself elated if the scale went down even by one pound and depressed as if it was the end of the world when it inevitably went up. This went on for months until my scale reached 170 pounds and I angrily tossed it in the closet, in tears, vowing never to step on it again.
I wish I could say that it was the last time I obsessed about the number on the scale. But it wasn’t. I wish I decided then not to let it determine my worth, but in my teenage brain it did. More than my teenage brain, those thoughts passed on for a lot of years. I wasn’t small, I wasn’t popular, I didn’t look cute in all the latest fashions like some of my friends did.
Deep inside I knew that wasn’t right.
I knew I wouldn’t struggle in this forever.
But I wish I knew then what I know now.
I wish I knew that the scale is not the ruler of my emotions. I wish I knew that it really was just a number and not a true reflection of who I am. A number does not define me, nor tell my worth. A number doesn’t even tell the whole story of what any person’s “weight” is. The number doesn’t tell you how much muscle or body fat you have, it doesn’t tell you how much water weight you are holding, etc.
I have stopped using the scale as a tool to judge my weight loss efforts. But more importantly, I have stopped letting the scale define me. There are so many other, more accurate assessments of your health and success, without looking at something so abstract and easily influenced day to day. The number one way to judge your weight loss is not with the scale, but with the measuring tape. Yes, it’s still a number. But the measuring tape will show your progress much more than the scale can. Next, we can look at photographs. I highly recommend taking a “before” picture. Although these are not easy to take, they are one of the most rewarding things, as you can literally see the difference in your body as you change it. Next, look at your clothes. This goes hand in hand with the first two, if your clothes are looser naturally the measurements will be smaller and you should start seeing a difference from the before photos. Finally, you can judge your own success and health through functional goals like running a 5k, being able to do pull-ups, or challenging your body in some other way.
The fact is this: if you are weighing yourself daily or multiple times a day… you are probably obsessed.
Ditch the scale.
Say goodbye and don’t keep its phone number. Would you keep a friend around who constantly made you feel inferior and made you go on a rollercoaster ride of emotions? Hopefully not.
If the scale is as toxic for you as it was for me, don’t make an exception for the scale…