Alex comes clean…

Oftentimes, when in conversation with clients or people who know that I am a personal trainer, that I am studying to be a nutritionist, and/or that know anything about my current life, I get the “you wouldn’t understand”, “you must have always been healthy” or “it’s easy for you”.Alex Shires

Healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle have not always come easily for me.  Yes, as a child and teenager I was involved in a long list of sports- figure skating, horseback riding, skiing, field hockey, basketball, and more. I did grow up in a family that was active. We ate chicken breast and salad for dinner most nights. Being slim was important and focusing on what I was eating was ingrained in me from a young age. Unfortunately, in my late teens, my participation in sports became replaced with far less healthy activities.

As with many young people, I was influenced by my friends, the media, and my own lack of self confidence which led me to develop a very unhealthy lifestyle. I began smoking at a very young age. I fell in with the wrong crowd. I became obsessed with food, limiting my calorie intake to dangerous levels, trying to combat any weight gain from my unhealthy lifestyle. Simply put, I had lost control over my life. I didn’t like the way I looked or felt and that only perpetuated the problem.

One day, towards my last year in university, I went for a run, or should I say ‘I tried to go for a run’. I made it two blocks before I was so out of breath that I had to sit on the curb until my nausea passed. This was serious. I needed to make a change. If I can say anything about myself it would be that I am strong willed and I am grateful I had that in my corner. Since then I have struggled and succeeded in changing my entire life from one of self-abuse and destructive behaviour to one of personal strength, pride and self-confidence.

The more I exercised- whether that be running, cycling, yoga, a personal training session, a circuit class- the more I began to focus on how my body performed rather than how it looked. The bonus is that it started to look better in the process.

I learned that I had done a lot of damage to my body on the inside- forcing me to really take an interest in my food, this time in a healthy way. I am a firm believer in everything in moderation. I will never advocate cutting things out of your diet, unless they are doing more damage than good- such as dairy or gluten for some people. I still drink wine, eat dessert, and I’m a sucker for hamburgers and sweet potato fries. What is important is what you do every day, not what you do once in a while.

The basics I follow now:

  • Exercise 3 times per week minimum. –whatever exercise is to you. Just break a sweat.
  • Make your lunch! Eat out less than one time per week (breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
  • When cooking- use spices instead of sauces.
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store- if it comes in a box or has ingredients you can’t pronounce don’t eat it.
  • Drink water. Drink water. Drink water. (and/or herbal tea).
  • Try a new vegetable every season. Google a recipe (or look through my blog!).
  • Make yourself a priority. Your family and friends will appreciate you more if you’re happy.
  • Take responsibility for your health. There is so much information out there. If you don’t know. Ask.
  • Set goals. And remember that if you achieve all of them you’re not setting them high enough.

I cannot emphasize enough how rewarding it is to accomplish my health and fitness goals and to continually set them higher and higher. Every day I am inspired by those around me, my coworkers and clients alike, to be the healthiest I can be. I have never felt better and one of my greatest rewards is now being able to bring that to other people’s lives on a daily basis.

“If we all did the things we are capable of,
we would astound ourselves.”
~Thomas Edison~

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