balance and health and bikini bodies and happiness.

I’ve been writing this post in my head for days. For weeks, even. I suppose ever since I tried to put on a pair of pants that I could effortlessly slip on a year ago and they didn’t make it past my hips I’ve been writing this post. I’ve been going over the differences in my body from when I could put those pants on and to this point in time, when I cannot.

The problem is, is that I don’t see any.

Maybe it’s not a problem. Perhaps it points to a level of self-confidence and comfort in my body that is difficult to come by. But we’re in the middle of “bikini body ready” bombardment from advertisers and bloggers and general pressure of the world. I’m trying to figure out how I could have gained approximately fifteen pounds and still feel bikini body ready despite what the world is telling me.

For the last few years I’ve become much more conscious about what I’m putting in to my body, on my body, and how often I’m making my body move. I’ve found a love for exercise, vegetables, balanced meals, and using natural almond oil to wash my face. I read motivational, level-headed blogs that promote wellness from all sides. I surround myself with people that encourage not only me but also themselves to be happy. Last year I was in the gym approximately five days a week for months at a time, motivated to get that body I always wanted. Last year I was also in the middle of a tumultuous, drawn out ending of a relationship that was wreaking havoc on my mental and emotional health while I was doing everything in my power to take control of my happiness and well-being.

Apparently I got the body I always wanted. I was wearing size eight pants and shorts. I was able to slip into size six dresses with no muss, no fuss. People kept saying, “Wow, you look great!” and “You’ve lost weight, amazing job!” And I was all, “Yes, yes, thank you, thank you.”

But I couldn’t see it.

I saw no difference between the body I started with, the body in the size six dress, and the body I have now (which is closer the former, to be honest). When I looked in the mirror I saw a body that needed to change. I saw hips that were still too big, thighs that still weren’t toned, skin that was still too dimpled, a stomach that was still too round. While everyone around me was applauding my success I was struggling to understand what they were talking about. And as I slowly gained weight back over the winter I still saw no difference.

Full disclosure: even after the concrete evidence of not being able to wear half of the pants I own, I still don’t see a difference.

Wellness sites and blogs talk a lot about your “happy weight”. It is exactly as it sounds: it is the weight at which you are healthiest – in all ways. You’re not obsessing over your gym sessions lest you gain ten pounds. You’re not feeling the crippling guilt of having had a cupcake at a bridal shower. You are still relatively active and eat fairly well – but you are truly balanced in your life. You have found the weight at which your body, and your mind, can say, “Yes, I am happy. Good job, me.”

I thought my happy weight was twenty pounds lighter and two sizes smaller. I was happy with how far I could run without feeling like dying. I was happy with how strong I felt in warrior sequences during yoga class. I was happy with the fact that everyone noticed I had lost weight. But I wasn’t happy.

I was going to the gym to avoid being at home. I was going to the gym to make myself more attractive to someone who didn’t want to be with me. I was going to the gym because it was easier than noticing the glaring gaps in my mental and emotional health elsewhere in my life. I was going to the gym because it was easier to do than go out with friends and lie to them about how amazing my relationship was. I was going to the gym because I felt strong and capable there.

When that relationship ended and I moved out, my deep-rooted need to work out lessened. I still enjoyed going for a run and riding my bike, but the gym wasn’t the sanctuary it had been. My home was. I could walk through the door at the end of a work day and feel welcomed by my room, my books, my music, my own existence. I didn’t need to worry about what was greeting me when I came in. I started to watch the shows I wanted to watch. I started to listen to what I wanted to listen to. I started to connect with the people I hadn’t connected with, open up to them about the things I had hidden.

And I’ve been happy. So, so happy.

Happy even as I gained fifteen pounds and lost the definition I had worked towards.

Happy as I ate dessert without worrying about someone making me feel bad about it.

Happy even as I was sad, because I knew I was in a better place.

So is this my happy weight? I don’t know. They say that life is about balance and I can fully admit that my scale has leaned a little too far to the “enjoyable but bad for you food” side in the past couple of months. But it’s also leaned to the “works out by doing what she enjoys rather than what will get her the ultimate body as soon as possible so that she can finally feel complete” side pretty hard, too. So I guess what I’m saying is that I should eat a little less sweet stuff and a little more of my veggies again, and maybe then I’ll have the balance I’ve been searching for.

Maybe I just need to admit to myself that I’m always going to be a curvy girl and my natural size is not where it could be but where it should be, you know? Because I look in the mirror and see the same person I saw six month ago. Apparently she’s bigger but she’s also healthier and happier in so many other ways. And she’s bikini-body-ready, since she has a body that a bikini can go on.

I’ll let you know in a couple of months how it’s going. I’m biking to work again (a measly sixteen kilometres round trip), doing yoga, and even started horseback riding again. I’m excited to see how my body changes in the coming months because I know that where it settles, while I’m living the life I want to live, is where it’s going to be happiest.


feel it.

Haven’t you ever just wanted to scream in the middle of a public place? It doesn’t matter where you are or how you’ve been triggered – what matters is that you’re feeling pent up and you need to let it out. One half of your brain is telling you to give in to the feeling while the other half is trying to keep you rational. It takes all you have in you to keep it in.

I envy babies and very young children for their ability to let it all out. They don’t care why they’re crying, they don’t have the sensor in their brain to differentiate silly triggers and serious triggers so they just cry. They wail and scream and break down, completely giving in to the emotion. They also laugh with abandon and say whatever they feel necessary to say. The adults around them respond to these displays of passion, giving them what they need in order to feel satiated be it food, sleep, or a hug. As we get older, however, it is deemed inappropriate for us to act in such unhinged ways and we are slowly taught to display our emotions in a calmer fashion. At some point we are taught to display them as minimally as possible.

I find it funny that we still enjoy movies and books and songs that rely on us responding in an emotional way. We need to connect to the characters, the words, the notes, in order to get something out of it. We need to allow our emotions to be handed over for awhile and manipulated slightly for enjoyment. In a world where it is often frowned upon to open up freely, this form of entertainment seems like it would slowly be taken away.

Or maybe we just enjoy that we can watch someone else be the crazy wailing bitch for one hundred and twenty minutes and live vicariously through her unrefined emotional nature.

I’m not saying we should all be a crazy wailing bitch every time we feel the need to be one. I know firsthand that screaming and yelling and crying are not conducive to healthy, productive discussions. But you can’t deny that it feels good to give in sometimes, right? Once in awhile you just have to crumple, letting the weight of everything you’ve carried and felt press you down until you feel flatter and smaller than you’ve ever felt, letting it consume you in its power. Once in awhile you have to respect your emotions and the way you feel. It might last a minute, it might last an hour, it might last a few days, but on the other side you feel better for it. You need to process it, feel it, let it run through your veins and become you. Once in awhile you just need to scream.

Lately I’ve had every type of emotion run through me at full force. I’ve been sad, angry, lonely, elated, and desolate. I’ve had people around me who have been there without question, there to pick me up, there to be a friend when I least expected it. I’ve had that because I’ve given in. Because I’ve said that I’m sad, angry, lonely, elated, or desolate. It’s shown me that, when you ask, people are willing to let you scream in a public place. They’re willing to let you feel it. They’re willing to let you crumple. The world isn’t as hard as we make it out to be. It’s full of lovely, willing humans with lovely, willing hearts. And I know I’m going to be okay, not just now but for the rest of my life, because I know that one reassuring fact.


don’t save me.

My Disney movie preferences as a child were quite simple: give me a little bit of song, human involvement only when necessary, and as many animals as you could reasonably fit into the story. 101 Dalmatians was (still is) my jam. On a first date five years ago the guy asked me what my favourite movie was. I responded, no hesitation, with, “101 Dalmatians.” He followed up with, “I meant your adult favourite.”

Okay, see ya, bro!

(Just kidding – in true Caitlin style I went out with him again, and maybe a few more agains after that, because I didn’t understand the difference between lonely and alone yet. I was young, okay?)

I have always wondered why the princess movies never resonated with me like they did with other little girls. Jasmine had a tiger, Ariel had some aquatic friends, I could get my animal quotient and still enjoy watching women find their destiny, right?

Well, I guess so. Until I got older and more independent and so utterly wise it hurts that I realized my problem wasn’t the animal-to-human ratio or that the songs weren’t my cup of tea (Pocahontas sang some catchy shit), it was that the destiny these princesses found was in another person. In the animal movies there was always someone that needed to be saved, some relationship requiring mending, but they always did it with a strength of self that the princesses didn’t seem to possess.

I didn’t want to be saved by being married. And I certainly didn’t want to be told by an entire town that I was a total knob for reading a book when I could be bedding steroidal, megalomaniac Gaston. My family likes to remind me that I was a miserable infant, crying whenever I got the opportunity to cry, a baby who certainly didn’t seem to be enjoying her time alive like her older sister did. Then I started moving around on my own and I was still totally obnoxious but much more comfortable with life. I didn’t want people doing things for me, from birth. So why would I have enjoyed a movie about some girl being saved by love?

The only animal movie that crosses a bit of a line into the princess theme is Lady and the Tramp but I’m not as quick to dismiss it into the, “girl meets bad boy, bad boy is actually a good boy, girl gets saved by bad boy” category (it has dogs in it so obviously I’m not going to be unbiased here, okay?). At least Tramp showed her that she could break out of her little box and have a little fun. I’m pretty sure Billy Joel wrote “Only The Good Die Young” after watching Lady and the Tramp, just saying. And in the end they compromised, had a bunch of mutts, and lived a nice, respectful life together.

But she certainly wasn’t passed out in some tower, therefore giving the green light to some random to come along and kiss her. Maybe she was out a little late the night before. Maybe she needed that nap. Maybe she never wanted you to be the one to save her. Ever think of that, Mister Lipsmacker? No? Didn’t think so.

What I’m trying to say is that maybe I should have been paying more attention to my Disney movie preferences all long. It’s not that I’m not made for love – I love love, and I love being loved – but it has taken me too long to realize that love isn’t there to make me better. It’s not there to fix me or save me or complete me or destroy me. It’s there to compliment me and make me happy and make me feel safe and make me feel comfortable and feel good about someone else. The only person I’ve ever needed to come along and save me was myself. And every single ditch I drove myself into along the way was another attempt at life trying to show me that.

I’m not Jasmine or Belle or Ariel (despite the ginger hair). I have a good life and a lot of people who love me already. And I love them.

So no, I don’t want to be saved. I’ll do that myself.

Perdita being a badass bitch who don't need no man but took one because she wanted to and then fought for her babies like a boss.

Perdita being a badass bitch who don’t need no man but took one because she wanted to and then fought for her babies like a boss.

work it, girl.

If you have been following along with my blog for the past couple of months you will know that I’ve made some pretty big changes in my life. I’ve cleaned up my diet, I exercise often, and I make time for self-reflection, meditation, and mindfulness every day. It’s been a long road, one with many bumps and starts, and it’s certainly not finished yet. I’ve had a few people ask me what I’ve done to make these changes, how I’m feeling in various stages and what I’m going to do next.

The truth of the matter is: I don’t know. Okay, well I know that I’ve worked out and I’ve eaten better but I certainly don’t know what I’m going to do next. And I certainly don’t know if what’s worked for me will work for someone else. What I do know, however, is there is so much more to this than getting fit, getting thin, and getting to whatever other adjective you want to use (see: toned, skinny, ripped). I am going to try to give you a list of what I’ve done and how it’s helped in this journey.

1. I stopped making my appearance the main focus.

This is so hard for a lot of us. I think humans are inherently vain to some extent. We enjoy looking at attractive people, male and female, and we enjoy looking attractive. We like it when people notice if we look nice one day. We are bombarded with images and studies linking attractiveness to various levels of achievement in life. I don’t believe we can ever fully shift our focus from appearance to our inner selves, but we can certainly make it less important. I started to focus on my mental health and, ultimately, its strength. I focused on my happiness.. I have tried to be more aware of what’s happening inside of me, whether it’s in my brain, my chest, my gut, or my muscles, to try to be more in touch with myself. When I started to do this I became happier, felt lighter (I literally felt physically lighter) and started enjoying my life more.

2. I eat less meat.

Don’t worry, dad, I’m not a vegetarian. I love meat. They say that we evolved to eat meat when humans began to move away from the equatorial areas of the world where plant-based foods were not as abundant. Well, I’m as pale and ginger-haired as they come so I think my ancestral roots are pretty deep down there in the omnivorous realm. That being said, I do believe that a diet heavy in meat wasn’t the best choice for me, either. About fifty percent of my meals are vegetarian, deriving my protein from beans, quinoa, and certain vegetables. I appreciate meat more, I am saving money, and I feel healthier. Simple as that.

3. I meditate along with doing yoga.

Whoa, whoa, I know. The girl who never stops thinking, never stops talking, never stops emoting, is sitting down and clearing her mind for more than five seconds. Well, no, I’m not. My mind is rarely clear. I was hesitant about this at first but I watched a short video on The Yoga Collective and read a few informative articles on mindbodygreen that taught me it doesn’t have to be about being completely clear of all thoughts. It’s not natural and it can be demoralizing when you simply can’t do it. What meditating is starting to teach me is that it’s about being aware of yourself, your thoughts, and how you feel, something that I’ve struggled with for years. I’ve also learned that I don’t have to sit in some crazy bendy position to do it – I can do it laying in bed or sitting on the couch if that’s what’s most comfortable. Honestly, even after five minutes of focusing my breath and listening to myself, I feel really great. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I rarely ever took time to notice my thoughts or my body and how it feels (on the inside!) and it’s rejuvenating to give myself those few minutes of time.

4. I still work up a really great sweat.

Yes, meditation is great for the soul and yoga really works your body in a deceptively hard fashion but sometimes there is no substitute for a rough, body-killing twenty-five minute tabata workout. I feel energized and capable after these workouts, laying on my mat covered in sweat and trying to catch my breath, in the same way I feel prepared and clear-headed after meditation or yoga. It’s been important to give myself both styles of workouts because sometimes warrior II doesn’t do it for me and I just need to feel my body scream a little.

5. I get outside.

This is much easier in the summer, especially in Toronto, and I’m already trying to figure out what I’m going to do when the snow and wind hits, but that will happen when it happens! At least once a week I take an extra-long bike ride through the city. Last week I left for work a half hour earlier than normal and did a ten kilometre route that ended at my workplace. Other weeks I’ve gone out on a Saturday morning and biked anywhere from sixteen to twenty-five kilometres, Last night I went for a simple half hour walk. I love getting outside, even if it’s just for a little bit, because it makes me feel rejuvenated after.

All of these things add up to one common denominator: they make me happy. If I’ve come to learn anything over the last little while that is the most crucial thing in any life-changing experience – happiness. If you’re not mentally or emotionally ready, you will give up. Or at least you have to work through the pain and mental crap until you feel happy, like I did. I’m still learning everyday and I’m far from perfect. I still have overly emotional moments or times when I forget myself and my mouth speaks before my brain has time to be like, “I don’t think so, girl.” Nobody’s perfect and I know I never will be. But I do know I can be happy for the majority of my time and I can at least recognize when I’ve been unreasonable, and that has been a major accomplishment in my life.

If you do some of these already or have given them a try, how do you feel? What else works for you?


runny yolks and silver linings.

I had a really interesting conversation at work today about my past relationships. Normally these conversations centre around the ridiculous and horrible memories most of my dating record consists of. What can I say? I don’t have a great track record for choosing them, keeping them, or understanding love in the least. Today, however, the conversation veered towards what the worst of the worst in my dating life taught me in a positive light. I often look at these guys as the embodiment of sadness, pain, and the lowest point of my self esteem. But today I remembered that one of them ordered me a sunny side up egg when I told him that I hated runny eggs and I ended up loving it, forever changing my breakfast game in the most positive way.

And then it hit me: they weren’t all bad. You stick around for something and while the worst memories tend to be the ones that stay with you the longest, there were moments of happiness in there, too.

One man I was involved with on and off for about three years was so selfish and awful that my friends and I call him Mean Nick. There really isn’t a better way to describe him; he really was mean. And maybe (definitely?) a sociopath. Yet between the moments where he was ignoring me and making me feel awful for asking if I could come see one of his gigs (no, but seriously), he could be quite kind. And he never once made me feel ashamed of my body or who I was. It seems to be contradictory to say he was a sociopath who treated me like shit but also made me feel great, but it’s true. It took me a good five minutes to think of what was good about him at all, I realized that while he never appreciated me for many things, he did try in his extremely fucked up way to show me that I was pretty. While it doesn’t make up for a lot of what he did, I learned in that moment that you can find good in most things if you look for it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that life will sometimes drag you through the mud, whether at the hands of others or simply because a decision that seemed right was actually very wrong and you’re paying the consequences of it. It gets really easy to look at the bad and be swallowed up by it, unable to get yourself out of the mire and muck. I urge you, though, to try to look at the positive side (I know, I know, this really isn’t what anyone wants to hear but it’s so important!) because it exists and it will change everything.

If it weren’t for the bad men in my life I wouldn’t know how to recognize the good one I have now. If it weren’t for the moments I was a bad woman to a good man I wouldn’t have learned how to deal with things in an acceptable way (okay, I’m still learning but I’ve gotten way better). And if I hadn’t had bad experiences in my life I wouldn’t be anywhere near who I am now, wouldn’t be as strong, self-sufficient, and capable.

And I would still be scrambling my eggs until they were rubber, wondering why they never tasted that great.

body lovin’.

Today as I was halfway through a high intensity workout, clad in short spandex shorts and a sports bra, I looked up and caught myself in the mirror. I was halfway through my minute of criss-cross jacks, trying to keep my breath steady as I brought elbow to meet knee and also trying not to die. Every time my limbs crossed my torso to say hello to each other briefly, my stomach crunched itself up into a few tiny little rolls. As I splayed my limbs back out, a split second reprieve before I launched into the same action on the other side, my stomach would jiggle itself back into semi-flat existence. After a year of exercising and feeding my body (mostly) healthy food, I have a tummy that has some definition but is still holding on to that lower abdominal pooch and a little layer of blubber as well, just for old times’ sake.

As I watched my stomach fold and jiggle with my uncoordinated limb movements my face burst into a spontaneous smile. (If you thought I was going to say it burst into a spontaneous flame, you are totally my wavelength because I actually almost typed that. But that didn’t happen so it would have been a lie and I don’t want to lie to you. That is what this blog is about: the truth. So I’m sorry I couldn’t give you that small bit of hyperbole. Digressing…) One year ago, even a few months ago, I never would have smiled at the sight of my flab jiggling away. I would have been mortified. I might have put a shirt on despite being alone in my apartment. I might have spent the rest of the workout distracted by a voice in my head reminding me how disgustingly fat I am. But there I was, smiling. And proud.

My body is, at this very moment, in the best shape it has ever been in. It looks better than I can ever remember it looking.  The other day I went bathing suit shopping because the ones I’ve owned for the last few years were all too big. Let me repeat that: they were all. too. big. During the bathing suit shopping I lamented the fact that I still couldn’t wear teeny bikini bottoms without making myself look like a peanut and even had a couple moments where I whined to Sam that I am SO FAT. But that only happened a couple of times, I didn’t cry, and I actually continued to love the body I was looking at despite its unfortunate appearance in unflattering cuts.

Then I found a bathing suit and I felt happy and the world was great again.

Things are still not perfect. Yes, my upper thighs and hips seem to have a harder time with change than other parts of my body but they are starting to get the message. I catch myself in my cut off denim shorts in a mirror once in awhile and notice some cellulite lingering on the back of my thighs. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get rid of that pesky curve that exists on both the outside and inside of my legs that is, I’m pretty sure, the jiggliest part of every human body. Once in awhile I ask myself if I will ever look like I want to look or if it’s all just a pipe dream.

But then I remember that I’m now a size eight and I used to be a twelve to fourteen. I remember that I used to be out of breath doing basically anything. I remember that I took comfort in food instead of other, more fulfilling, past times. I think about the fact that I bike a minimum of eight kilometres a day and do yoga or HIIT four to five of those days, something my body never would have been able to handle in the past. I remind myself that I am happier, mentally tougher, and so much healthier than I have ever been.

So when I catch myself in the mirror, red and sweaty with a simultaneously rolling and jiggling tummy, I smile now. I smile because there is some definition there. I smile because I’m doing something I never would have been able to do before. I see my legs, pale and still a little soft, and love them for literally pushing me to and from work every day, around the city on the weekends, and for never giving out during jump squats even when my brain is screaming.

I don’t have the best body in the world. I never will. But I have the best body for me.

And I really do, for the first time in my life, love what I see when I look in the mirror – naked, clothed, or in spandex shorts and a sports bra, panting and jumping and jiggling.


love lessons.

Sam and I are coming up on our two year anniversary in just a couple of months. This seems impossible to me for a couple of reasons: one, I never thought I’d make it in a relationship more than one year and two, it seems ridiculous that he’s only been in my life for two years. It seems like it’s been much longer and I mean that in a good way.

In these last two years I’ve learned a lot about love and relationships. It’s safe to say that my dating life prior to Sam was a mess. It was more bumps in the road than smooth sailing and even my long-term boyfriends were not healthy situations now that I look back on them. I had to recognize what true respect, trust, love were – something that I hadn’t ever truly attempted to do.

I am by no means a relationship guru. Sometimes I have people ask me advice on how Sam and I stay happy, how we knew it would work, how we continue to develop and grow especially in the face of adversity and it takes everything in me not to laugh in their face. I don’t really know how we do it sometimes, but we do. What I do know is that I’ve learned a lot and I will attempt to share those lessons with you.

1. Love is not easy.

I know, I know – you’ve heard this so many times before. I had heard it countless times before but still didn’t quite believe it. The people I knew who were happy together, still in love after years, seemed to have it made. They just got it. It didn’t seem like a lot of work to me, it just seemed like simple, honest love. I suppose that is part of it, simple honest love, but there is so much work that happens on top of that. You have a foundation of strength that gets built on and sometimes the first few walls are a little shaky. A lot of our foundation comes from the fact that we found a fellow weirdo, someone who recognizes and accepts what others might see as faults, and a mutual understanding of the world that many other people don’t share. But sometimes those faults or weird quirks can interrupt the great moments. Sometimes (a lot of the time) you have to be talking, communicating, reaching out to the other person to ensure you really understand each other. This is actually a lot of fun but it is also a lot of work. A relationship is the first baby you have together, needy and demanding and requiring more attention than you thought, but when it starts to grow and become its own entity, you realize it was all worth it.

2. If you are going to choose one thing to have, make it trust.

I started this relationship as the least trusting person in the world. I was basically the worst. Earlier relationships had ended in fiery balls of distrust after infidelity of every sort. I carried with me the memories of being told a boyfriend had slept with someone else, the discovery of sexual messages to other girls, and being straight up lied to constantly. I carried them with me and dropped them right off at Sam’s feet and was like, “Deal with this.” And then Sam was like, “No, thank you.” The best thing Sam ever did for me was not give in to my unfounded distrust at everything. He never gave me reason to actually believe he would cheat on me and so far all of my attempts to drum up proof have continued to show that he is the most honest person on the planet. He taught me how to trust someone without needing access to every social media account or electronic device they own. He taught me that, sometimes, people are being honest when they say, “I would never do that to you.” And now I know how detrimental my lack of trust was to us and, ultimately, to myself. If you need anything, above all else, you need to trust the person you’re with.

3. Love starts with yourself.

Our relationship has always been great. We’ve managed through arguments and some really tough moments. We talk, laugh, dance, and share. It’s been like that since the beginning. It’s always been fairly simple between us (but not always easy!). Despite this ease and understanding between us, our relationship started to get really good when I started to respect myself. When I started to take care of my body, my mental health, and my general well-being, things began to open up like I never could imagine. When Sam started to take care of himself a little more, the same thing happened. Right now, I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Not just with Sam, but with everything. This happiness bleeds back into our relationship, though, and makes things so much smoother. As soon as I chose to love myself, I was able to love Sam so much better. If you can’t look at yourself and see what the other person sees, you’ll never feel comfortable, so do yourself (and your partner) a favour and find the good inside of you.

Two years is nothing in comparison to some of the other relationships out there. It’s amazing how much can change in two years, though, with your life, yourself, and your relationship, and it’s no surprise how many couples break up after a few years. I know we will learn so much more as time goes on, about ourselves and about love, and it will be how we react to new situations that will decide how we proceed as a couple. But I know, at the end of it all, that as long as we keep learning, growing, and communicating to each other, and ultimately have respect for each other, we will be okay.

And that’s the best lesson I have ever learned.