Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why is This Time Going to Be Any Different?

There's been a question that's been brewing in the back of my brain and coming up in my thoughts of late:

Why is this time going to be any different?

This has been specifically related to my recent transformation and lifestyle change as a result of completing Insanity and (now) PiYo.

I've lost weight before. In 2006, I joined Weight Watchers and lost 30 lbs. Around the time of my break up, I lost another 10 unintentionally and not in a healthy way. Over the course of the next 2 years I would put some of that weight back on. There was a point where I almost took a leave of absence from Weight Watchers because I wasn't feeling good on the inside or the outside and was having a hard time reconciling those feelings while being outwardly positive in my meetings.

After I left WW in 2012, I focused on feeling good in my own skin, rather than basing my feelings on the scale. I stopped weighing myself for a long time and focused on nourishing my body. At the beginning of 2014, I set a goal to continue do exactly that and right before I started Insanity, was feeling really awesome.

Since joining Weight Watchers, I've dabbled in fitness off and on. I've had gym memberships, personal trainers, gone to boot camps and had great results. I remember looking back at photos from my boot camp days and thinking about how much I would LOVE to go back to having that body. But after boot camp, I didn't really keep up with my workouts as much as I could have and my body didn't stay that way.

With my weight and level of fitness fluctuating up and down since I took that initial step back in 2006, you can see why this question of "why is this time going to be different" has come into focus. And I know that I'm not alone in this. Instead of get down on myself and worry about what 'could' or 'might' happen, I've chosen to come up with a list of reasons as to why this time is going to be different.

I feel awesome, inside and out. 


It's interesting, but this is new for me. For the first time, I truly feel that how I feel on the inside, matches what's happening on the outside. I don't know that I've ever had that.

With my initial weight loss, I was so focused on the scale and getting down past a certain number. Even when I tried to focus on how I was FEELING, it was really difficult to shove the scale out of my brain. When I was at my fittest (during boot camp) I wrote in my journal about how I wanted to lose 5 more pounds (wtf?!), despite the fact that my body was toned, I had lost a significant amount of body fat and had increased my level of fitness significantly. When I stepped away from the scale, I was able to get back to feeling good about myself in a way that was totally separate from what I weighed. Going into Insanity with that mentality made my progress feel even better and gave me extra confidence.

I have an incredible support network. 


Having accountability and support has been an integral part throughout weight loss and fitness journey. Meetings, mentors and classes have always helped me. Having an inspiring and motivating Coach, along with an online support & accountability group has kept me focused and on track. It's something that I'm committed to continuing with going forward, as I know that it will help keep me motivated and on track.

And just because I'm a Coach now, doesn't mean that I'm going to stop focusing on my own progress and journey. I realize that feeling my best and actively working towards my own goals, is going to help me help others do the same. I am right down there in the trenches and that isn't about to end anytime soon. Helping others is INCREDIBLE and continues to inspire me every day. It's an amazing feeling that is just going to continue to grow over time.

My expectations feel manageable and realistic. 


Looking back at how my mentality about health, weight loss and fitness has changed over the years is really interesting to me.

As much as I tried not to be, there were times when I was a slave to the scale. 0.8 lbs would upset me. During that boot camp, I was fixated on losing 5 more pounds. I had a lot of expectations for myself that were all based around a number. I've weighed myself out of curiosity since finishing Insanity, but I've left the obsession with the number on the scale in the past.

Previously, I would feel guilty for eating certain foods or overindulging. In time, I've been able to get out of the 'good' and 'bad' food mentality, and just make choices about what I eat. Yesterday, I had a gluten free, vegan brownie and it was delicious. No guilt, no shame. Just enjoyment. I now write down what I eat to keep myself accountable, but also to see patterns and work towards fueling my body in the best way possible.

I missed a workout on the weekend because life was crazy and I was exhausted. I didn't beat myself up or stress out about it and just got back on track on Monday.  My attitude is firmly planted in positivity and moderation and it feels awesome. I'm committed to feeling good and nourishing my body, and that's exactly what I'm doing.

I'm done with the negative self talk. 


Allowing myself to hear the thought "why is this time going to be any different?" and answering the question honestly and realistically has been huge for me. Negative self talk could have previously convinced me that I wouldn't be able to maintain this healthy, positive lifestyle or that I would just quit or stop working out or gain weight or feel terrible. And to be honest, this post seemed a bit scary to write because I was publicly putting that question and these answers out into the world. I can see that all of the ups and downs and things that have brought me to this place have been experiences, and not failure.I refuse to beat myself up for things that have happened in the past or ways that life has changed. I recognize that things could change in an instant once again, but in this moment, I'm committing to feeling great, nourishing my body and continuing with the healthy habits that I've formed to help me do that successfully. Positive self talk is HUGE and I'm working on it every day.

Ashley Gibson progress PiYo Beachbody


Negative self talk, you can take a hike.

I'm so happy to be in this place and recognize that it's been a long journey to get here. This time is going to be different because of the way I feel, the attitude I've embraced and the expectations I've set for myself.

It already IS different this time around and I'm excited and inspired to keep moving forward.

What's different for YOU this time? What steps have you taken to stay motivated, focused and feeling great once you've made changes in your lifestyle?

And if you're ready to make a change in your lifestyle and make it different for YOU this time around, I wanna talk! I've got a new support & accountability group starting on Monday to run through the end of 2014 to help make that happen. Comment below with your email, message me on Facebook or send me a message in the 'contact' section. I would love to connect with you and hear more xo

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Difference a Year Makes

Last summer I did a show called "I Know it's Today" which was all about boys, dating, relationships and everything that's happened since that time I was engaged. At the time of the show, I had no idea that my life was about to change substantially in all sorts of ways, both personally and professionally.

Now, I've had my share of massive changes over the last five years from leaving jobs (to go to other jobs, attend nutrition school or due to changes in the job itself), starting new jobs, finding a balance of where performing fit into my life, dating people and figuring out what I was looking for in a partner, trying out new things and figuring out what I wanted to be doing with my life. But last year was different.

A year ago I was working in a job that I was quickly beginning to realize wasn't a good fit for me while commuting to Mississauga (1.5 hours each way) 5 days a week. It started to take a toll on my mental health and I was not a happy person. While this was all happening, I was building a new relationship with someone,who (thankfully) was patient, helpful and loving while I was trying to manage a whole lot of stress and some big decisions. I was just about to audition for a show that would go up in January, but had to turn down some other auditions because they didn't fit into my life.

On December 30, 2013, I made some huge changes and almost a year later, my life couldn't be more different.

Right now I'm busy rehearsing for two shows, auditioning more regularly, working at a part time job 10 minutes from my house and doing other work that has flexible timing and location. I have time for the things that are important in my life and have cultivated a great deal of balance. I continue to build an incredible relationship with a partner who remains patient, helpful and loving. Thankfully, I'm now in a place where I feel that I can contribute equally to our growth and love. I have time to work out and nourish my body and spend time with the amazing people in my life.

It's truly amazing the difference a year can make, and next Friday at 9pm I'm going to be sharing more about the things I've experienced and the changes I've made in my show, The Difference a Year Makes (or How to Quit Your Job, Fall in Love and Live the Life of Your Dreams) at the Flying Beaver Pubaret.

Ashley Gibson cabaret Toronto



Withe the help of mega talented Music Director, Giustin MacLean, I'll be singing songs and telling stories about the crazy year that I've had, how I decided to make those big changes and everything that has happened as a result!

Tickets are available for $15 in advance or $20 at the door either online or at the Pubaret. I would love to see you there so you can help me celebrate the difference a year can really make!

If you were doing a show about how YOUR life has changed over the last year, what song(s) would be required on the set list?

Friday, October 10, 2014

8 Tips for Enjoying a Healthier Thanksgiving

I can hardly believe that it's already October. The air is getting crisper and the sun is going down a whole lot earlier. The leaves are beginning to turn and I'm craving everything pumpkin! I busted out my legwarmers yesterday and have embraced the fact that I can no longer get away with just a jean jacket outside.

It is Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I'm looking forward to spending some time with Corbin and his family on Monday. It can also be overwhelming to navigate a big meal with family when you're trying to embrace a healthier lifestyle. I've been doing some brainstorming and enlisted the help of some friends on Facebook and Twitter, and came up with the following list of tips to enjoy a healthier Thanksgiving meal.

How to enjoy a healthier Thanksgiving

  1. Make great food choices leading up to the meal. Have a stellar breakfast and lunch or snack so you're not ravenous when you sit down for dinner. It will help you make better choices during the meal and ensure that you're eating to nourish yourself and enjoy the food, and not eating because you are starving!

  2. Take the time to do a workout during the day on your own or take advantage of the gorgeous fall weather and take a nice walk or run. Getting some activity in will feel awesome and give your day some balance and 'you' time (which is especially helpful if you're having a lot of family time!)

  3. If you're the one making the meal or can influence the chef, ensure that there are some awesome, healthy options included. Ditch the butter and cream. Have a selection of beautiful veggies, make a delicious fall-inspired soup or try some healthier alternatives to classic dishes like cauliflower mashmushroom miso gravy, lentil loaf, a great shepherd's pie or vegan pumpkin pie. There are endless possibilities to what your meal could look like and it's a wonderful time to try something new, perhaps creating a new tradition.

  4. When you're filling up your plate, make half of it veggies! You'll get a lovely assortment of goodness, while being able to feel great about your meal and still leaving room for more indulgent choices.

  5. Be sure to enjoy your favourite parts of the meal. If you love stuffing, have stuffing! If you're a pie person, enjoy some pie! Practice moderation and work on enjoying your food rather than feeling guilty.

  6. Skip the things that don't excite you and since you're an independent person, you don't have to eat certain foods just to be polite. Aunt Ida will forgive you. I promise.

  7. Remember that it's not the last supper. For real. It's seriously just another meal and you don't need to eat everything in sight, just because it's there! If you celebrate Christmas, you're going to be seeing all of those foods in a month and a half anyway. There's also nothing stopping you from making/having pumpkin pie or stuffing on a non-holiday. Just sayin'.

  8. Make it less about the food and more about giving thanks. Focus on the things in your life that you are grateful for and the time you get to spend with your family and friends. 
I feel thankful for so many things in my life right now: my incredible relationship, my wonderful friends & familia, my health and the opportunity to do so many things that I love! Life is pretty sweet and I'm looking forward to having some time to reflect on all of that this weekend. 

I hope these tips are helpful for you this weekend (and give my American friends a head start on their plans in November!) Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone xo

What are you thankful for?
What is your favourite tip for enjoying a healthier Thanksgiving? 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Insanity - My Final Results

A little over two months ago I started on a mission: I was determined to finish the Insanity workout program for the first time.

Ashley Gibson - photo by Corbin Smith

I had received the program more than a year and a half ago and started it at least 3 times, never getting past week 3 (of 9 weeks). Even when I said that this time I was going to complete it, I still had my doubts based on my past results and the fact that I was committing to a HUGE change for 63 days. I wanted to stick to my word, but in the back of my brain was that nasty voice telling me that I was going to fail, again.

As with any change, in the beginning I was super keen and motivated. I was committed to the program and engaged in my online accountability group. The momentum started to build as soon as I started seeing changes in my body, both in photos and in real life. I grabbed a hold of that momentum and kept going!!!

Working out 6 days a week took INTENSE determination. Prior to starting I had been doing yoga once or twice a week, walking and riding my bicycle - this is NOT the same as ANY workout with Shaun T!! I needed to be intentional with planning my workouts in order to be consistent and focused. I brought my DVDs back and forth to Corbin's house whenever I stayed with him and even took them up to his parents' house when we up there for a few days.

In case you were wondering, the workouts never became EASY (especially after I started month 2 - can I remind you all of the crying incident where I almost quit?? There was another big workout cry last week and it wasn't pretty). But I started to feel stronger and more capable as I kept moving forward. I was able to get through half of the warm up without stopping and then three quarters of it. As time went on, I saw great progress in my Fit Tests and found myself struggling less with form and focused on 'digging deeper'.

In sticking with the program I was reminded that I can accomplish great things when I am laser-focused and wholeheartedly committed, which was really motivating! It wasn't easy, but I had some great help and encouragement along the way from Corbin, my friends, my incredible Coach, Marissa, my accountability groups and all sorts of wonderfully supportive people online. I am so grateful for everyone's support!

I rediscovered how awesome it feels to be working out on a regular basis and seeing changes in my body. Doing my workouts became a great source of 'me' time and the progress I made motivated me in other aspects of my life. I feel stronger, fitter and really happy. I did have an old ankle injury flare up a bit, but modified when I needed to and took care of myself by wrapping it, getting acupuncture/massage and keeping the jumping to a minimum (and squatting instead!)


After completing 63 days of Insanity I saw the following progress:
  • Improved my Fit Test results across the board, in some cases even doubling the number of reps I could do
  • Increased my endurance and could do MORE for longer periods of time
  • I lost inches all over my body including 2 from my chest, 3.5 from my waist, 2.5 from my hips, 1 from each arm and 2.5 from each leg
  • I lost 10 pounds
  • Gained muscle in all sorts of places (I'm sorry to all of my friends who had to deal with me shouting "Look, I have a shoulder!!!" randomly over the last few weeks)
Insanity results Ashley Gibson

Insanity results Ashley Gibson

Insanity results Ashley Gibson

I grew to ADORE Shaun T and I'm certainly going to miss him now that we're done (this round). I'm going to be spending some quality time with Chalene Johnson doing PiYo for the next 2 months and maybe when Insanity: MAX:30 comes out, Shaun T and I may have a reunion. In the meantime, I'll be thankful that the jumping will be kept to a minimum for now. I knew that the program was going to change my body, but I couldn't have imagined all of this, nor how it would impact the rest of my life! 

Completing the program and connecting with Marissa brought the chance to become a Coach myself and help others to reach their goals. In September I took the plunge and became a Coach and this month I have 3 Challengers doing an online support group alongside me. I've missed helping people since leaving Weight Watchers and I feel blessed to be putting myself into the service of others and helping them to reach their goals!!

If you're sitting there reading this and thinking "I could never do Insanity", trust me when I say that you absolutely could. With the right attitude, determination, willingness to try and great support system, you could totally do it and see awesome results, leaving a whole lot of sweat (and maybe some tears) behind you. Or if Insanity wasn't up your alley to begin with, you could start with something else and work your way there. But I know you could get there and make incredible changes in your life. It's about deciding that you want to make a change and acting on it. 

I say this as someone who didn't believe I could do it either. It's you vs. yourself and I'm a big believer in dreaming big. It feels incredible when the hard work pays off and you do more than you even realized you could. 

"She turned her can'ts into cans and her dreams into plans"

Photo by Corbin Smith
 If you'd like to tackle Insanity or are just ready to make some sort of change in your life, I'd love to help you do that as your Coach and with the support of an amazing online accountability group. Send me an email or connect with me on Facebook and tell me a bit about yourself and your goals and let's make it happen!!

Big thanks to Corbin Smith for all the images, sweet .GIF and neverending encouragement & support

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cauliflower Pizza

The internet has gone nutty over the cauliflower pizza phenomenon. I'll admit that I was skeptical thinking, "How can cauliflower mush even pretend to taste like pizza crust?" anytime I saw another cauliflower pizza crust pop up on Pinterest.

Oh friends, I have crossed over to the dark side and it's DELICIOUS over here.

Not only is this cauliflower pizza crust super tasty, it's also really easy to make. We've already made it a second time and I think it will be a staple for dinners with us.


Cauliflower Pizza Crust 
(Gluten free)

Half a small head of cauliflower
1/2 cup shredded goat cheddar (or cheese of your choice)
1 egg
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Add roughly chopped cauliflower to food processor and blitz until all cauliflower is in rice-like bits. Cook / steam for 5-8 minutes.

In a medium bowl, add 1 1/4 cup cauliflower bits, egg, cheese, nutritional yeast, spices and garlic. Mix until well combined.

Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper and a bit of oil. Place your "dough" on the sheet and pat to form an equally distributed oval, that isn't super thin.

Bake crust for about 15-20 mins until golden and edges are starting to crisp up.

Once the crust has cooked, top your pizza with your favourite things! We used tomato sauce, sautéed bell peppers and mushrooms, red onion, sundried tomatoes and a bit more of the goat cheddar.

 Place topped pizza under broiler until cheese has melted. Remove from broiler and serve.

After you've made the recipe once or twice, feel free to play around with the cooking time and toppings. The second time around, Corbin left the crust in the oven for a bit longer (closer to 18-20 minutes) and it was awesome.

Are you interested in more yummy, healthy recipes like this one? From October 20-24 I'm going to be running a clean eating group through Facebook with lots of recipes, tips and tricks for healthy, delicious, clean eats. If you'd like to be included in the group, send me an email or connect with me on Facebook