Me and My Dog NOT on a Diet (Or How I Stopped Dieting and Learned to Love My Body)

Riva in MotionIf you know me at all, you know I’m a dog lover. We currently have four in our pack, including my sweet Pit Bull rescue, Riva. She’s an amazing pup – loving, smart and just a bit submissive, which is awesome, as it makes it easy for us to regulate her behavior around the other dogs.

Six or seven months ago, my husband took her to the vet for her annual exam and vaccinations. As he put her on the scale, he was shocked to see she had gained close to 40 pounds. We distinctly remember her starting weight, as she came in at 66.6 at her first appointment, just a few days after we picked her up from the shelter. At her last visit, she was 103 pounds, up 37 pounds. Yikes.

According to my husband, the vet looked a bit shocked, too. Then he left the room for a moment, returning with a tiny little cup. “Use this and feed her one cup a day,” he said.

This thimble-sized device is actually a true “cup,” though we just can’t imagine it’s enough food for our 100+ pound dog. Though we’ve continued to feed her less than she used to eat, in spite of our fears that she was “starving.”

At first, I watched Riva’s waistline and didn’t see any difference. “Poor pup,” I thought, “She’s just like me. We’re feeding her less and she’s still not losing any weight.”

That feeling lasted for several months, until just recently. In the last week or so, I’ve noticed that our big girl is getting her waist back. There’s a small, but obvious, indentation.

Hmmm … I guess it does work. It just takes a really long time and you have to stay the course. That’s something I’ve never been great at doing, though watching my Riva lose a few is inspiring me to get back to my effort, after a short hiatus, during which I “tried” to exercise and eat right “most of the time.” (I also had an injured shoulder, though that shouldn’t have affected my exercise schedule as much as it did.)

That effort (or lack thereof) didn’t do me any good. No pounds lost. Not any fitter or healthier. To get back on track, I made a promise to my MasterMinds girlfriends that I will take on one behavioral change a month for the next year.

First step? Make the list. What 12 changes could I make that would have me losing 40 pounds over the course of the next year. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

December: Take LoseH8NotW8 program. Exercise for – at least – 20 minutes every day.

January:  Meditate for 20 minutes every day.

February:  Drink more water every day. I’ll shoot for 8 cups a day and see what happens. If I land at 4 or 6, it will still be a greater volume than I’m consuming now.

March:  Cut down on my carbs. I will keep a very close eye on my intake of white potatoes, bread and sweets with the goal of minimizing, though not depriving myself.

April:  Do yoga for 20 minutes 3x a week.

May:  Journal for 20 minutes 3x a week.

June:  Eat an extra serving of green veggies every day.

July: Draw 3x a week.

August: Walk 10,000 steps every day, without fail.

September: Do push-ups every day.

October:  Add weight training 3x a week.

November: Annual review – look at what happened in last 12 months.

Of course, I will mix it up here and there. For example, today, I’m feeling puffy and icky because I’ve been eating so much sugar. I’ve told my husband – for accountability – that I’m going to take on three days of minimal sugar to see if it helps me get rid of that feeling.

I’ll keep you posted on how things go.

Can We Really Stop the Beauty Madness?

Stop the Beauty MadnessA few years ago, I realized something that I was doing surprised and angered me. When I met young girls with their parents, I would ooh and ahh over them, like everyone else, though there was something I unknowingly did that contributed to the ongoing beauty struggle that women everywhere endure.

I was telling little girls, “You’re so cute!” or complimenting their clothes. With boys, I vary rarely commented their looks, unless they were very small. I usually asked them about school. Geez.

As someone who struggles with self worth based on my weight and my looks, it was a rude awakening. Seriously? Is that the value I personally saw in little girls? Absolutely not.

It had me thinking of how deeply ingrained this looks-based approach to girls and women is in our culture. Apparently, it’s so deep we don’t even notice it.

Since then, I’ve changed my approach. When I meet a new little girl, I say hello and ask her about school or her interests or what she wants to be when she grows up. I may even say she looks like she’s carrying some serious “girl power.” No more comments on looks. Ever.

We are so much more than how we look. When I came across the “Stop the Beauty Madness” campaign, it made so much sense to me.  It’s an effort to call attention to how ridiculous it is that women are constantly judged based on their looks and size.

Please join me in sharing their images on your social channels. And let’s all give a bit more thought to how we talk to young girls. Every small change we make to how we talk about beauty and value to our girls and women makes a difference.

 

 

Sometimes the Best Advice is to Simply “Stay the Course”

FailureThere was a commercial campaign focused on encouraging people to quit smoking a few years back, which used the slogan, “Don’t quit quitting.” Lately, I’ve been reminding myself to do something similar – Don’t quit. Stay the course!

Don’t quit developing healthy habits because I had dessert.

Don’t quit taking my daily walks just because I skipped a day.

Don’t quit drinking more water every day because I got distracted and missed one day.

Don’t quit trying get healthier and slimmer just because I haven’t lost more than a few pounds.

Don’t give up on developing a healthier lifestyle. Don’t start a “diet.” Diets don’t work for me and I end up simply gaining the weight back, with a few extras for good measure.

I’ve lost a few pounds, and that’s something to appreciate. I will lose more, if I STAY THE COURSE.

UPDATE: As of 5/18, I’ve lost the five pounds I committed to a month or so ago. It’s working! 

This BeliefNet article validates my approach, so I’ll keep looking at resources like this one, to keep keeping on:

BeliefNet “Stay the Course” Article

What about you? Do you get defeated when the weight won’t come off quickly enough and give up? What helps keep you focused on healthy living over quick weight loss? 

 

 

 

Happy Is Important – Here’s Why

Smiley LogsOne of my blogger girlfriends started a thread on social last week asking, “How important is it to be happy?” I immediately responded with a resounding “VERY!” Then I watched as others gave their answers. Some people said that contentment was more important than happiness, while others said that being happy was somewhere on their list, though not at the top.

March 20 was the “International Day of Happiness” so the topic seemed to be on everybody’s minds last week. It’s also been seeping into global consciousness for the last few years. From Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project (and the follow-up Happier at Home) to an article in Forbes a few weeks ago entitled Why the World Needs a Happiness Campaign to Live Better, it’s a hot media topic.

And of course, there’s Pherrel’s “Happy” video, which has been watched over 453 MILLION times. Yeah, I think we’re all seeking a little more happiness.

If you look at the definition of happiness, it covers an entire spectrum of positive emotions, including contentment, joy, cheerfulness and delight. I’d throw optimism in there, too, as when I’m feeling optimistic, I’m happy.

As someone who spent my early adulthood in a constant state of pessimistic angst – just ask my college roommates…no, it’s probably best not to – I got in on this trend decades ago. I wanted to be happy, dammit, but I didn’t know how. Years later – years filled with therapy, support groups and self-help books – and I can honestly say I spend 95% of my time being “happy.”

Why is it important to be happy? Because we’re only here for a short while and we might as well enjoy it. Because happy people are healthier and live longer. Because happy people are more fortunate. (Seriously, look it up – it’s true!) And because happy simply feels good. 

The general gunk and chaos of life can get in the way, though one of the advantages of being 50 is that I’m finally able to get back to a positive place quickly with my own unique set of happiness enhancers. I read material like Gretchen Rubin’s books and magazines like “The Intelligent Optimist.” I hang out with my family and my frogs, felines and canines. I surround myself with symbols of happiness like toys, hearts and peace signs. Fortunately, I’m usually able to turn things around pretty quickly. I KNOW – in my bones – that happy is important.

What about you? Is being happy important to you? What do you find makes you feel happy? 

 

Taking Baby Steps Toward Self Love

This past week, I’ve made a decision that I’ve been considering for a few years. I’m so very very tired of being the “big girl,” yet no matter what “diet program” I’ve tried, the pounds always come back.

Last week, I agreed to take on Laura Fenamore’s 12-week Body Image Mastery course. Laura calls her work, “One Pinky,” saying that when you learn ”to love what you see in the mirror…(you can) unlock the secret to healthy weight.” I almost didn’t sign up, as I’d spent money on weight loss programs so very many times in the past, which ended up wasted when the effort ended.

The thought behind self love as the key for weight loss is that if you love yourself, you’ll be compelled to take better care of your body. Since I enjoy <sarcastic> frequent bouts of extremely negative self talk, I figured the worst that could happen is I stop hating on myself, even if I don’t lose a pound. Seems like it’s well worth the investment.

Then, this morning, I came across this lovely little video, initiated by the brand folks at Special K. I love how it puts our body shaming self talk out there for the world to see. I’m ready to give it up. How about you?

What about you? Do you “fat talk” yourself? Do you think it would be easier to lose weight if you loved yourself instead? 

Why Are the Grooves So Deep?

medium_5331511724I’m feeling stuck. Stuck in the grooves of my usual behavior. I love sitting on the couch with my laptop, conversing with my friends on social media, watching bad movies or playing my beloved Bejeweled game. (It’s how I hang out with my husband as we relax during the weekends.) And I would also LOVE to have my life and my home organized, everything in its place where it belongs, the unneeded flotsam and jetsam having made its way to the porch for pickup by a charitable organization. These two loves of mine are conflicted and so far, the couch is winning in a big way.

This past weekend went by quickly. The closet I had planned to clean is still overflowing onto the bedroom floor. The kitchen counter where the mail lands every day looks a bit tidier. At least the bills got paid and I have a few phone calls to make in response to correspondence we received.

Where did the rest of the hours go? There were a few naps, a few movies, grocery shopping, a few long walks with the dog. We helped my son get ready for his winter formal and attended a wedding reception on Saturday night.

The one thing I didn’t do was make a list. I’ve been promising myself that I would make my master to-do list soon. I work well from a list and it’s the major principle behind the “Getting Things Done” program (GTD) that I have committed to follow.

The grooves of past behavior that gets repeated over and over, even if it’s not quite working, are deep. This week, I will go through the GTD process and create that master list. Period. This blog will be my accountability tool and I will report back on Sunday with how far I’ve gotten on my list. (Accountability tools are excellent ways to keep yourself on track, though I can be sooooo squirrely!)

What about you? What system or approach do you use to stay organized and efficient? 

photo credit: the green gables via photopin cc

Getting My Butt in Gear, or Those Times When Motivation Just Shows Up

Clock GearsThis weekend, I decided to start working out again. After a few decades of steady workouts like kickboxing, step aerobics and yoga four to five times a week, I have been forced, for almost the last year, to “take it easy.” In the process, I gained an additional fifteen pounds. Ugh.

Fortunately, a few months ago, I finally found a physical therapy practice that was able to turn around my chronic piriformis muscle problem and I’ve been almost pain-free for over a month. The physical therapists at the Michigan Institute of Human Performance seemed to know exactly what I needed and within three weeks, I have no pain in my backside. (No real pain anyway, there will always be “butt pains” in life, though, right?) I feel ready to ease back into working out, beyond the (almost) daily walk that I’ve been able to do for the past three months.

Then, over this past weekend, the universe decided I needed to see three people who have “done it,” aka lost weight and kept it off for a significant amount of time and be reminded of the importance of exercise to the process.

First, we stopped by the pet store to replenish our cricket supply. (Frogs need them.) The woman behind the counter has worked there for several years, though we almost didn’t recognize her after she lost 30 pounds a few years back. This time, when we went in, I was struck by how great she looked and how it appears that she “got it” and been able to stay fit longterm. As we talked about a friend of hers who had appeared on local television news that morning with a giant African Bull Frog, she mentioned that she’d watched it at the gym that morning.

Then, we watched our favorite weekend television show and they did a segment on comedian and game show host Drew Carey. He talked about his weight loss, which he’s sustained for the last three years, and what had motivated him to get fit. When he’d been heavy, he’d felt tired all the time and had aches and pains that were a detriment to being active with his child. He changed his diet and took up running and now those aches and pains are gone.

And, finally, this morning, Tory Johnson showed up on our local morning news program. She’s lost 72 pounds and kept it off for a year. She’s incredibly motivating and happy, touting her new book, The Shift. She looks fantastic and gave a bunch of great eating tips, including reducing carbs and changing the way you think about food.

Those three stories have stuck in my mind as I start this week with a goal of amping up my workout routine. I’ve always felt better when I exercised, something I did for years before I was injured in December. Today, I’m committing to starting out with three full body workouts a week, in addition to my walking schedule. To make sure I don’t overdo it, I’m going to focus on yoga and a few other moderate level programs that I have on DVD at home. Sorry, P90, but you’re just too much for me right now.

Here’s to getting my butt back in shape – literally and figuratively!

What about you? What workouts do you enjoy?
photo credit: .sandhu via photopin cc

Reconsidering the Promises I’m Making

CommitmentMy days are busy. I work a 40+ hour a week job, writing social media posts for an ad agency. I’m an entrepreneur with a partner in a  customer service business, selling training and workshops to companies that need to enhance their organization’s service excellence. I plan a menu and grocery shop every week so I can make dinner for my son and my husband just about every day. I’m on a fitness journey, so I’m taking walks every morning or evening, sometimes both. I’m on the board of directors for a marketing and sales trade group. I blog here and on our customer service blog. I manage the family finances. I have a MasterMinds group that meets twice a month. Plus, I like to take on freelance projects doing sales coaching and social media planning.

Whew! Just writing about it brings me a bit of that “overwhelm” feeling, though I know I’m leaving out a lot and I can’t imagine what I’d cut if I had to. And, yes, I do have a choice in what I take on. My biggest issue with all the “busy” right now is making sure that I honor the commitments I make. Like most women, I want to say “YES” to every request. And I always always always think I have more time than I do. (Of course, I might have time if I omit any relaxation and “me” time, running myself crazy in the process.)

One of the new habits I’m creating is to look at the commitments I make and say “NO” when necessary. I love helping people, though when I try to help too many people, I end up letting them, and myself, down, either by not spending enough energy on what I promised or letting it slip off my radar.

Moving forward, I will give some thought to my commitments before I say yes. I will consider my available time and my energy stores. And I’ll only say yes when I’m sure I can give it my all. I will make slow and steady progress on this one, though I will definitely improve on making and keeping my commitments.

What about you? Do you do too much? Ever overcommit and let someone (and yourself) down? 

photo credit: eschipul via photopin cc

When Your Body Armor Weighs Too Much

The only thing a number on a scale can tell you is that a body – created by circumstance and chemistry and nature itself – carries a certain amount of physical weight.

~ Ursula Adams

I love that quote, from my friend Ursula Adam’s “Pretty Pretty Bullshit” blog post a few months ago. (You can read the post here: “I call bullshit on… equating weight to value.”)

Body ArmorI’ve spent a lot of mental energy over the years trying to give up my shame around my body. No matter how much I’ve weighed, from 105 pounds to over 180, I’ve always thought I was “too fat” and felt shame about how I look. I’ve spent way too much time in front of the mirror, usually right before going off to work or to a special night out – telling myself that I was a “fat pig” who “looks awful” and shouldn’t leave the house looking like that.

I strongly believe that my weight issue stems from my traumatic childhood and sexual abuse in my teens. There’s a proven connection between childhood abuse and wearing excess weight as “body armor” to shield you from future mistreatment.

As I continue to bring my unhealthy beliefs about my weight and myself to light, exploring  and bringing an adult perspective to them, I know I will continue to get healthier physically and emotionally.

What about you? Do you think there are underlying issues that might be causing you to be overweight? 

photo credit: listentoreason via photopin cc

Plodding Along, Changing Habits On the Way

My Weight Doesnt Get to DecideThey say “Slow and steady wins the race,” and that seems to be my motto for now. A few weeks ago, I posted about walking every day, since I was struggling with my PITA injury. (PITA = Pain in the Ass, aka “piriformis syndrome,” an issue with a muscle in the rear end that when it acts up, causes severe muscle cramping and pain.)

So far, so good. By using my FitBit, I’ve managed to increase my average daily steps from 3,000 to 4,500 to 8,000 to 10,000. I feel stronger and have managed to honor this commitment about 90% of the time. (Awesome, right?)

Coupled with drinking more water, paying more attention to what I eat, ingesting less sugar/more protein, and going to three regular physical therapy appointments every week, in hopes of resolving my PITA, I’m on a strong and steady path. Not only am I changing some bad habits that impact me physically, I’m also – slowly and surely – evolving my mindset. I’ve not stood in front of the mirror and criticized myself harshly for being “fat” in at least a few weeks. My self-flagellation has been reduced to a minimum, quite an accomplishment, considering that it was previously a daily habit.

In the morning before work, I get dressed, I take a quick peek in the mirror and I move on. I look “good enough.” Not perfect, though who is? I look good enough for who I am: a 50 year old, somewhat overweight woman who struggles with an extra 40 pounds, who is working on getting physically healthier. My weight doesn’t determine my value and it doesn’t get to decide how happy I get to be. I am on a path and if I stay on it, I KNOW good things will come.

And to reinforce this approach, I saw a story on Good Morning America that really resonated with me. Tory Johnson, the contributor who does the “Deals and Steals” segment, has written a book, entitled “The Shift.” On GMA, she shared how she lost 60 pounds in the last year and a half with a consistent approach that had her losing less than a pound a week. Tory mentioned that, in the past, she’d give up when it didn’t happen fast enough, and that it wasn’t until she kept at it, persistently, that the weight came off. You can see the GMA story here: Tory Johnson Makes “The Shift” 

Thank you, Tory, I think I may just be on the right track.

What about you? What small changes are you making that will contribute to your health over time?