Health
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I love food. And I love to eat – beyond that necessary-for-survival stage. All-you-can-eat sushi? Sign me up. A steak the size of my head? Um…yes, please. Mashed potatoes and butter chicken? Well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, all I need to do is look at a box of doughnuts and I gain a pound. Such is life.

Battling weight and achieving that “ideal number” has never been easy. But as I inched ever closer to my 40s, I realized that I didn’t want to be a crap example for my kid, and I wanted to be healthy for my family and, most importantly, myself.

So, I started playing volleyball and doing the odd workout. Believe me, it was a daunting task, but nothing was as daunting as when my friends encouraged me to attend “fat camp.”

Okay, so the Fall Fit Women’s Weekend at Camp Wanakita in Haliburton, Ont., isn’t exactly “fat camp,” but I was reluctant. A weekend away with only adult females? Awesome. Doing suicides and push-ups while some of the best trainers around stood over me? Terrifying.

Luckily, my weekend away was anything but. Once I got past the extremely fit ladies and realized it was a privilege to be in their presence, I had a blast; it was one of the most fun and inspiring weekends of my life. I learned a ton – about fitness and, more importantly, myself – which is why I’ve already signed up for another weekend this September. Here’s to another year of perspiration and revelation.

Get outside your comfort zone

Life throws new things at us all the time, so we might as well consciously embrace that discomfort. If we’re mentally prepared for change, then we’ll be that much better at it. My weekly go-to activity is volleyball. But since that wasn’t an option, I opened my mind and embraced other activities like pilates and stand-up paddle-boarding. Bring on the new!

Learn to say “yes”

Pilates is not my jam. Sure, the instructor presents the exercises at multiple levels, but having never done a plank in my life, I needed the kindergarten introductory class. At least I can say I tried it? Same goes for kayaking. I was petrified when my pal fell out of hers seconds after leaving the beach. “What’s the worst that can happen? You fall in,” the instructor shrugged. That’s when I felt all the tension release and I was able to get back to shore without capsizing. And guess what? It wasn’t so bad. Same goes for paddle-boarding. Once I got the hang of it and unclenched my toes from the board, I loved it. And I didn’t fall off! Maybe this year, I’ll try a more advanced class…

paddle

Oh, and Zumba really is an amazing workout

Some might scoff at the dance and aerobics-based program, but the best part about it is that it’s so fun you don’t even realize you’re working the hell out of your body.

dancing

Connection trumps convenience

I can count on one hand how many times I’ve gone camping, so I was wary of our basic cabin. Picture this: bunk beds, super-thin mats (think those flimsy, blue rectangles from gym class) and washrooms and showers within walking distance. But it’s the company I kept and not where I was sleeping that made everything okay. Stripping down the basic comforts allowed me to get to really know people. And the food was, thankfully, amazing. The chefs onsite prepare the most delicious (and healthy) camp food around. I might even get around to trying the oatmeal bar and kale salad this year. Might.

Sometimes, you need off the grid

Having little-to-no cell service might seem like everyone’s worst nightmare, but by the end of the weekend, I was only using my phone to take pictures of Lake Koshlong and the activities we were doing around it. It was a mental purge as well as a physical one. (Although, I did play some Candy Crush before bed. You don’t need service for that, and a girl’s gotta have at least the illusion of a bedtime snack now and then.)

Stop judging…yourself

I’ve actually gotten to the point (read: age) where I truly don’t care what people think of me, but it was great to be in an environment where no one was casting judgment. We were all there to hang with friends and try new things, so there was no time to be afraid or self-conscious of how we looked doing activities that were out of our element. And you know what? Not worrying about all of that was actually quite liberating!

judging

Women are kind of amazing

There were the unexpected parts, like the comedian who opened up our weekend and had us all practically peeing in our seats. And then there was the guest speaker who inspired us with her strength and courage after sharing her experience of a loss no woman should have to face (which resulted in different tears). Then there was just being with all those wonderful women and seeing how impacted we were from their powerful, moving stories. It was very cool to see how happy and proud we could be of each other, just for being. 

applause

This is our time

Life is crazy busy. We women give so much of ourselves and not enough to ourselves. As a wife/mom/sister/grandma/aunt/bestie, it’s almost never about us. We give, give, give and rarely take. This weekend — which, last I checked, still has tickets left — is for us! It’s the most special way I’ve ever come across to do just that: Celebrate and embrace what’s so fabulous about other women and – most importantly – ourselves. You deserve it, don’t you think?

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