For The Love Of Almond Butter

After dragging Lori on a mission through Amherst and sending my former boss on hunts for it when he was travelling, I have in my possession a jar of Barney Butter. barney butter

It’s kind of amazing brilliant. Seriously the best almond butter I’ve ever had.

It has lived up to the bloggy hype and I think I’m going to need to ration it so that I don’t eat the whole jar by the end of the day weekend.

I am a very happy girl.

Before You Date Me You Should Know…

I’m a gluten free, vegan, Weight Watchers Leader, holistic nutrition student with Crohn’s Disease. SANY3872Okay so maybe those aren’t the FIRST words to come out of my mouth when I meet someone new… but unless you knew something about me before we started talking or went out for the first time, I’m sure that collection of facts would come up pretty early in the conversation.

Like when we’re making plans to go out.
Or talking about what I do in life.
Or even just choosing a restaurant.

And in all honesty, how do you come off telling someone all of those things without sounding just a little nutty? (Especially when you go on to tell them that you even write a blog about the whole thing??)

I always took for granted that Joey met me the week I joined Weight Watchers and embraced my changes in eating as they happened. In dating new people, it has been an interesting experience to get to explain all of these things to people without the same background knowledge.

How much is too much?

In my meetings I always joke that I tell everyone in the world that I’m on Weight Watchers. I have always been a very open person and I’m pretty transparent about the fact that I’m gluten free and vegan and that I make these choices as a result of having Crohn's. (heck, I write a blog about the whole thing, don’t I?) I recognize that not everyone is as open as I am, and that my candour might be a little much for some, but I like to think that if someone is going to want to date me, that they will embrace everything about me. And if not, their loss.

Communication is key.

Now you might not want to come out and tell the person within 4 minutes of meeting them that you’re trying to lose weight (or vegan or whatever), but you also want to be honest about who you truly are. Your personality is going to be part of the reason that they want to date you in the first place, right? So don’t act like you’re ashamed of losing weight or love of exercise (because you’re making a healthy change in your life!) or the way you eat (because it works for you!) or how you live your life (because you’re trying to be the best you you can be!) There are maybe some things that can be saved for date #2, 5 or 12 (I try to skimp on the details of my Crohn’s diagnosis…) but I strongly believe that communication is really important

So, um, what do you eat?

If I haven’t scared someone off with my list of things I don’t eat, I make some suggestions on places to go and so far I’ve found people to be very accommodating and willing to try new things.This is awesome, because I’m not going to want to date someone who doesn’t “get it” and badgers me into a steakhouse or an all-you-can-eat buffet because Fresh or Live or Lady Marmalade doesn’t seem like a good idea. 

Doing Weight Watchers? Maybe Jack Astors and the 51-Point “Grilled Salmon Provencal” might not be the best choice. Vegan? Barbarian’s steak house isn’t gonna work. Gluten free? No thanks on the all-you-can-eat-white-pasta. There are casual ways to make your opinions known and be confident enough to suggest places that will cater to your needs, so you’ll have one less thing to stress about on your date.

Now what?

So you’ve gotten past date #1.
You enjoy this person’s company.
Date #2 or 4 or 7 is on the horizon… what do you do?

Just be yourself.

In everything that I’ve done in my life, this is probably one of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned whether it be on a date, a job interview, an audition or in life in general. Your personality with all its quirks and nuances makes you unique and with the billions of people in the world (and 2.5 million people in Toronto alone) it is going to stand you apart from the crowd. If you’re hiding part of yourself because of how you think this new person might react, it will probably just come back to bite you in the butt, and why would you want to waste time hiding the “real you” whilst getting to know this new person anyway? If they’re worth your time, they will be understanding, making them even sexier than they originally appeared.

So before you date me, you should know that…

I’m just me.

Take it or leave it
.

How have your lifestyle choices impacted your dating life? Single peeps – how do you tell new people about your dietary/food/etc. choices? Coupled peeps – how have your significant others dealt with any lifestyle changes you’ve made? What words of advice would you offer to anyone who is in dating land and disclosing things like losing weight, veganism or other lifestyle choices?

Words To Live By

I was killing a bit of time in Indigo the other night (before seeing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which was awesome!) and couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the number of diet and nutrition books that the store had on its shelves. SANY3881 Now I’m a sucker for a good book about food but really, do we need that many? Perusing the titles, there seemed to be something for everyone with every gimmick known to man.

The experience brought me back to the simplicity of a great Michael Pollan quote:

”Eat good food. Not too much. Mostly plants”

What else is there beyond that in food land? Obviously lifestyle choices, behaviours, feelings, emotions and exercise are all going to play into a healthy lifestyle (which is why I still love Weight Watchers after 4 years of following the program) but I’ve realized that the gimmicky stuff doesn’t turn me on, nor do I believe that it has staying power. Lately I’ve just been trying to listen to my body and nourish it the best ways I know how:SANY3871 SANY3884SANY3883SANY3860What are your thoughts on the number of diet and food books out there? What are your words to live by when it comes to food and nutrition?  

Normally I’m Not One to Brag But…

See this sweaty (but smiling) face? SANY3857That was me on Friday after boot camp which had been after:

Attack & Flow on Sunday
a run on Monday
Boot Camp on Tuesday
Bellydancing on Wednesday
Attack & yoga on Thursday

I even went back to Attack & Flow yesterday in addition to all of this. I don’t think I’ve ever been so active in one week!! It’s so unlike me, but I’m loving it. I think it might be a new trend.

Coupled with numerous check-ins with this lovely lady:SANY3732 And an assortment of delicious food…SANY3855 SANY3843SANY3831   SANY3820SANY3851 Along with some much-needed ‘me’ time with lots of walks, reading, drinking tea and having fun being a model for a friend studying make-upSANY3826 SANY3827SANY3829  Nothing like “being in a car accident” and travelling to the 50’s and back all in one day!

I pretty much rocked this week. This Ashley show is serious business and as a result I’m feeling amazing. Love the feeling of accountability and looking forward to another awesome week! SANY3858 How was YOUR week?

It’s The Ashley Show, Therefore I’m In Charge – Everything I’ve Learned In 300 Posts

Ladies & gentlemen (Gentleman? Are there guys who read this blog?) Welcome to Post #300. 28972_10150190037150604_559840603_12687898_5675432_n(Festive occasions deserve festive attire!! Now if only I could figure out a way to throw confetti through each of your computer screens…) 

Some things that I’ve learned along the way…

I often walk away from my Weight Watchers meetings quoting things that my members have said, revelling in their wisdom and shared experiences. On Saturday one of my members said [after talking about choices she had made during the week] “It’s the ____ show and I’m in charge of my choices”. It really resonated with me because I’ve been f---ing up the Ashley show something big lately and I need to step up my game and be accountable for my choices. I have learned way too much and worked too hard to backtrack and I’m not a particularly passive person in ANYTHING that I do. After all, my motto for 2010 was "Go big or go home", so here goes nothing.

This means that May is going to be a month of me holding myself accountable to my choices with food and activity. Lindsay and I have been sending one another nightly accountability emails for the past few weeks and her support is really helping me to stay on track. On Sunday I hit the gym for BodyFlow and my first ever BodyAttack class in an effort to kick start my week with a healthy dose of exercise. I LOVED BodyAttack!! I will definitely be doing this class more often. After doing Boot Camp for the last 8 weeks, I felt confident in my ability to do a lot of the moves (including lots of push-ups on my toes!) and enjoyed the energy of the instructor and participants in the class. I will definitely be doing Attack again.

And more FIT CHICKS.

And more bellydancing.

And making good choices with food.

And being kind to myself through talking about my feelings, journaling, spending time with people I love and getting enough rest and “me time”.

These are all things I can do, and I’m excited to do them.

Here’s to post #301 and beyond!!

Stronger Because of You, Mum

onback_imissyoumorethanilettheworldknow [Source – PostSecret]

Mother’s Day is always hard for me.

I forget that sometimes and so do the people around me. Including the multi level marketing companies who send me incessant emails asking me if I’ve picked up the perfect gift or remembered to send a card or flowers.

No, no I haven’t.

And no I won’t be spending the day with my mum, thanks for asking.

My mum is constantly in my thoughts and there are so many moments where I just want her to be here so that I can tell her about the paper I’m writing, or the part I’m auditioning for or the boy I have a crush on. There are moments I just want her to be here to tell me that she’s proud of me and everything that I’m doing. I know that I have amazing friends and other people in my life that serve that function, but sometimes they just aren’t enough somehow.

Deep in my heart I know that she would tell me that the paper was good, that I am right for the role and giggle with me about boys. I know that she would be proud of me and all that I have accomplished in my life, but knowing that doesn’t make it less hard sometimes when I know that she’s not here.

Sometimes when I think of my mum, I think of a Jann Arden song that was popular for my class in the sixth grade:

I've got a good mother,
and her voice is what keeps me here.
Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.”

While I may not get to hear her voice, her death has given me strength I didn’t realize possible. I know that with everything I do in this life, her life is in the back of my mind, pushing me forward, giving me courage to push my limits, shoot for the stars and just be myself. 

I know that I am my mother’s daughter and that I am who I am today, not only because of her but also because of her passing. Her life has made me incredibly strong, her death even stronger and as a result, I am living my life for the two of us. And what an amazing life it is.

Happy Mother’s Day mum.
Thank you for all that you have given me.
I miss you.
I love you.

xo

Heel’n’Wheel-A-Thon Toronto 2010 PSA

A couple weeks ago I talked about shooting the PSA for the Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-thon… well here it is!

Wanna get involved in the Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-thon?

Sponsor me! – After raising more than $1,700 last year I’m setting my goal at $3,000 this year and I need your help to get me there! Every little bit counts and I’ve already raised $650 which puts me at 22% to my goal!

Join my team! – The walk takes place on June 13 in Sunnybrook Park and I would love to have a big group of friends to do the walk with me on my team Dancing Through LifeNot in Toronto? There are HNW events all across Canada!

Join our Facebook group and follow me and Toronto Heel ‘n’ Wheel on Twitter for the latest news and updates.

What If Everything You Knew About Yourself Was Changing?

On Sunday I sat down to write this post and this is what started flowing…

After last week’s post on weight maintenance and a particularly emotional meeting on Saturday morning I did a lot of thinking and I’ve come to the conclusion that I think I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis lately.

It was my Saturday members who really inspired this discovery. We were talking about the concept of “identity” with regards to weight loss. Losing weight is about so much more than just eating right and exercising; There is a whole frame of mind and many changes in behaviours, habits and beliefs that need to occur in order for a person to lose weight and keep it off. A big fear that we talked about on Saturday is will I be able to keep the weight off and/or sustain this lifestyle. I also think fears of the unknown and also the fear of success can be debilitating for people as they go through this process; Seeing yourself as a new person who eats a different way, behaves in a new way and participates in new activities with different people is unchartered territory for many.

It has been so exciting for me to make so many changes in my life of late, and the catalyst for all of them was my decision to lose weight back in 2006. I have nothing but positive things to say about the things in my life right now: friends, school, work, house, performing and life in general; but on the flip side of this, I’ve really created a whole new me and I’m still discovering who that person is. As a result I think I’ve been feeling a…

And that’s where it ended. I wanted to talk about this concept of “identity” and who I am, but didn’t know where I was going and what sort of self exploration needed to happen, so I just left it and figured that I would continue to write on Monday.

I was thinking about the post on my way home from school yesterday as I was walking through Withrow Park. It was a glorious sunny day and I suddenly had the urge to sit myself down on a swing and read A Thousand Names for Joy, which was stashed away in my bag.

So I did. SANY3806It had been awhile since I had read it and I knew I was close to the end, but once I opened the page to where the bookmark was resting, everything became clear.

Page 232: If you want to know me, look inside your heart.

Page 234-235: Grace means understanding that where you are is where you always wanted to be. It means losing that arm and noticing what remains, in full appreciation and gratitude, and seeing at the same time how much better off your life is without the arm, and all the benefits that this new way brings. It’s the realization that where you are and what you are and what everything is and how it is, in every moment is your heart’s desire, fulfilled beyond what you ever could have imagined.

Page 245: Eventually there is no fear. You come to feel total acceptance: “I am this, for now.” And it’s all okay.

Page 258: Failure is an opportunity. It is impossible to fail at anything. Your success just may not look the way you thought it would.

While failure hasn’t been on my mind of late per say, I think the fear of success and the unknown have been factors for me. It has also been a challenge to settle into this new life and just be me without worrying about who that is and that it’s all okay. SANY3807Everything has changed completely for me lately and in many ways I’m starting off fresh. Life is (still) sweet and I’m just going to bask in that glory as I explore what is, take it day by day and just be myself in this beautiful reality I have created.

I want you too to find that peace; To go within yourself and feel great about the person you are today, the changes/steps you have taken and that recognize that it’s okay to be you.

The quote from my meetings last week really resonated with my members and I promised that I would post it:

Watch your thoughts for they become words
Watch your words for they become actions
Watch your actions for they become habits
Watch your habits for they become character
Watch your character for it becomes your destiny

I love this, not only because of its eloquence, but because it has proved to be absolute truth in my life.

Amazing.