A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

Regular time on the treadmill means Elaine can now run 10K!

Okay, be honest.  How many times have you said "I'd like to exercise, I just don't have time."  Elaine Albert used to say that.  Not anymore. Over the past several months, Elaine has transformed her life in a big way, by making small changes.

"When I started, I couldn't jog even for a minute on my treadmill," Elaine says, "Now, eight months down the road, I've lost 52 pounds and run 10K 3 to 4 times a week."  

So, how did she do it? In January, Elaine got involved in Prescription Action - an initiative started by local doctors in her hometown of Edmundston, New Brunswick. The doctors challenged everyone in the community to log their minutes of physical activity each day. A friend signed her up, and Elaine was off and running, or snowshoeing, or downhill skiing, or walking on her treadmill.

Around the same time, she got involved in Live Right Now - leading the charge in her community, by encouraging everyone to live a more healthy life.  

Elaine's enthusiasm rubbed off. In 2012 Edmundston was named the Live Right Now Capital of Canada.  "All of this came together at the perfect time for me," she says. "It's really changed my life."

The key, Elaine says, is planning. Especially when it comes to meal time. 

Thursday night - write up a grocery list.  
Friday - go grocery shopping.  
Sunday morning - prepare dinners for the week ahead.  

She cooks for a couple of hours, stores everything in the fridge, and her family is set for the week. And Elaine plans accordingly, "If I make lasagna, I'll keep it 'til Thursday because it's fully cooked. If I make fajitas, we'll have that Monday because the chicken won't keep. I have to cook it."

That kind of preparation has really paid off. "As a mom, you tend to think everything is on your shoulders - even though my husband does a lot. By doing these little changes, it's a more balanced life.  It comes with practice, but now everything is so much easier." 

Plus, Elaine has found ways to involve her 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son in her meal planning. Together, they look through flyers, see what's on special, and pick stuff they'd like to eat. Elaine picks what's healthy (and a few treats) and comes up with the weekly menu.

"Asking them what they want, they feel special. They don't always like the same things I do, so I try to respect that."

By involving her kids, Elaine says they're more open to trying new foods. At one time, she says they were pretty much a "meat, potatoes and carrots" house. Now, Elaine tries to make a new recipe every week. And they eat less meat, fewer potatoes and more vegetables. 

The trick, she says, is variety. "We used to have fish once a month or so. Now, we have it every week. But we have different kinds and I find different ways to cook it."

Elaine has changed her sleep schedule too. She used to go to bed at 11 or 11:30 pm. Now, she's in bed an hour earlier and is up by 6 am. She gets enough sleep but the earlier start gives her a chance to get in some exercise. And the planning she's done around meals means her family is finished dinner by 6:30 pm - which leaves more time to play outside with her kids. It also gives Elaine the chance to stay involved with Live Right Now.

As the Live Right Now Capital of Canada, the people of Edmundston won $100,000 to build a new community park. Elaine is leading a nine person committee that is overseeing the development. And things are moving fast. The committee recently met with the designer to finalize where the park will be built. And soon, there will be a public meeting to get input on the design. The community will come together next spring to build the park.

Meantime, Elaine has set a goal for herself - to lose another 8 pounds. That would bring her back to her weight in university. She knows she can do it, by staying active and eating well.  She says it all comes down to planning and moderation. 

"I eat what I want. I won't have fries every day, but if I want some, I'll have a small fries. If I know I'm taking the kids for ice cream, I won't eat junk that day. And I'll make sure I exercise to lose the calories."

Elaine doesn't just feel better physically, she feels better mentally too. "At first, my head was saying 'stop, you can't do it' but I kept going. Now, when I run 10k I don't have that at all," she says.  

"I love my new life. I can't imagine going back to my old one."