Giving Up My Distorted Body Image

The most difficult aspect of this journey so far has been giving up my distorted view of my body. I discovered a few years ago, when weight loss television shows like “The Biggest Loser” became popular, that how I think I look and how I really look are often quite different.

When I’d watch weight loss programs, I’d look at the people at the beginning of their weight loss effort and think, “Yep, I look like that.” Then they’d reveal their weight and I’d be confused. How could they possibly weight 100 pounds more than me?

“Well, I’m short (5′ 1″) so that must be why they weigh more. I know that’s what I look like,” I’d think.

In the past, this distorted view caused me to be extremely critical of my body, which only led to more angst and an increasing level of self-hatred.

This time around, I’ve made seeing my body as it truly is and self-love priorities. I am looking at my before picture often and seeing myself as I am. I’m also reminding myself frequently how fortunate I am that I was given a healthy body in which to live my life on earth and that if I don’t love myself, I won’t take good care of it. (And if I don’t take care of my body, what am I going to ride around in while I live on this lovely planet?)

On this journey, I’ve discovered that the more I focus on loving myself and living my best life – which is what this “Dropping 40″ effort is about – the more I realize how important taking care of me really is. (I found a great article on how to love yourself here - How to Love Yourself in 17 Ways -that includes several of the things I’ve been doing since I started this blog.)

So far, so good.

WEIGHT LOSS UPDATE:

I saw a number on the scale this weekend that I’ve not seen in quite a while. While I’ve not lost much – yet – the number on the scale is slowly creeping down, based on the slight changes I’ve made so far. Here’s a quick recap of what I’m doing:

  • Lots more water and iced green tea
  • No snacks between meals, except almonds, fruits or veggies
  • Less bread
  • Smaller portions
  • Healthier choices in restaurants

In order to meet my goal, I’m going to have to get back into exercising, though since I recently sustained an injury in a major muscle in my hind end, I’m still recovering. This week, I’ll start with some yoga and walking, along with my physical therapy stretches.

What about you? How’s your effort at transformation going so far? What’s working? What’s not? 

 

Finding Delight in Small (Repeatable) Things

Feeling particularly happy today.

My weekly weigh-in revealed a 2.5 pound loss! That’s right in my target range of 2 to 3 pounds lost per week. It’s a reasonable pace, allows me to eat well without starving myself, and will help me develop repeatable enduring habits. I’d much rather lose my 40 pounds slowly, instead of “dieting” and then gaining back what I’ve lost. (I swear, I’ve gained and lost the same 30 pounds – at least – 6 or 7 times in the last 20 years.)

I’ve been getting a message lately, over and over, in the form of articles, blogs and expert commentary about health, that it’s all about REPEATABILITY.

If you start a transformation effort with steps that are repeatable, you will be successful.

That means finding an exercise you like and will be willing to do over and over. Or if you (like me) get bored easily, then finding several that you can rotate so that you’re inspired to work out at least 5 or 6 days a week.

That means making changes to what you eat – in both quality (fruits, veggies, lean protein) and quantity (leave some on the plate or take smaller portions to start) – that you can sustain over a long period of time.

That means finding a way that you can make it a habit to drink more water every day, all day long.

And it means staying focused. Keeping your eye on your goal and taking steps every day to get there.

I’m pretty pleased with my 2.5 pounds. Only 37.5 to go by the end of May. I can do this.

What about you? What type of actions have you taken to get healthier that are REPEATABLE?

Acting “As If” You’re Already There Can Help You Get There

“To change who you are, change who you think you are”. ~ John Lockwood Huie

One of the tools I’m using to transform my body is to begin thinking of myself as a strong, healthy and slim person.

Today, I will begin thinking, acting and doing “as if” it’s already true. I will frequently create the feeling that I’ve already lost 40 pounds and am feeling strong, healthy and slim.

I will pause several times during my day and taking a few minutes to visualize myself as having reached my goal – 40 pounds slimmer and feeling fantastic. I will imagine it and feel the feelings of already being there. By doing so, I know it will become easier to do what it takes. Plus, being emotionally distraught about my weight simply makes me want to reach for the Butterfingers (remnants of our Christmas celebration) that are hiding in the kitchen cupboard.

There’s research behind the “as if” principle and you can read more about it here: Psychology Research to Change Your Life

I’ve used this trick before, when I’ve been in a bad mood or had to do something I didn’t want to do. You simply act like you’re happy and before you know it, you feel happier. You act like you’re excited to do something and before you know it, you’re excited about doing it. This will be the first time that I’ve tried it for a longer term goal like health and fitness.

By acting “as if” I’m already there, I’ll test the principle and create excitement that will keep me motivated. After all, you can’t beat the feeling of total body transformation.

What do you think? Have you ever used the “as if” visualization technique? What happened? 

Been There, Done That: Creating My Own Plan, PLUS 100 Tips for Healthy Weight Loss

While I’m making small changes to my daily routines, I’m ready to make a few larger changes that will bring quicker results in losing those 40 pounds that I’m so tired of carrying around.

I’m doing well on several of my new healthy habits AND it’s time to amp it up and start following a program of some sort. When I have structure, I’m successful. The issue in the past has been managing the “after diet” maintenance. In the last 20 years, I’ve lost 22 pounds, 30 pounds, 35 pounds….then they slowly come back when I take my eye off the prize of being slimmer and healthier. I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason behind it is the feeling of deprivation that I get when I eliminate any and all foods that I like. It’s also because of a less-than-adult attitude that has me whining to myself, “Everybody else can eat whatever they want. Why can’t I?”

This weekend, I’m going to create a structured program for myself. One that I can follow for a lifetime, not for a few months. I’ve been on several “diets” so I know how to lose weight. This time,  I’m going to pull strategies from the programs and plans I’ve used in the past and create my own. I’ll post what I’m going to follow on Monday. I’ll use this fab article - 100 tips for healthy weight loss – as a starting point: 100 Tips

What about you? What have you done to lose weight? What’s worked? What hasn’t? 

How’s It Going So Far? A Bit of a Setback Though Recommitment is ALWAYS Possible

It’s been an interesting few weeks, for sure. My exercise program will be undergoing some serious adjustments, as I’ve been struck with an unruly muscle. Apparently, there’s a small muscle deep in my left hip that’s decided to act up, going into spasms and squeezing my sciatic nerve. It’s causing intense pain in my rear and left thigh and has me on pain killers and muscle relaxants. Soooo…..I’m telling people that I’ve taken a few trips to the ER for a “major pain in the ass.” Yep, that’s where it hurts. Good for some humor, at least, as I’ve got friends who ask me, “How’s your butt?”

The P90 exercise program will have to wait a few weeks until we figure out the next step to get the muscle and nerve to behave. And with the holidays and a trip to Colorado last week to renew our vows, the food/drink hasn’t been as well-managed as it could/should be. (Drats!)

So, we start again. It’s 12/26 and I’ve got 5 months and 2 days to lose 40 pounds. I’ve not weighed myself in a few weeks (astounding for a chronic weigher) and don’t plan on doing so until after January 1.

As I review the past few weeks, I’m pleased that I’ve maintained my commitment to water and made better food decisions than I would have in the past. Sure, I had the pizza, though only one piece. I even ordered salads and ate half portions. (Have you ever ordered a salad with just turkey and light italian dressing on vacation? Not me! It was a first and it felt great.)

When I wasn’t making good decisions, I noticed that I was making some interesting rationalizations – not very responsible thinking – like “I’m on vacation, I’ll get back on it when I get home” and “I’ll make it up with a light dinner.”

So, back to real life and back to a more serious commitment to healthy eating. This week, I’m recommitting to:

  • Drinking Lots of Water
  • Saying No to Bread
  • Eating Half Portions of Healthy Options in Restaurants
  • Making Adult Decisions – No Excuses for Poor Eating Choices
  • Going for Green Tea at the Office, Instead of Snacks

I’ve also added a new healthy habit (#12) which I’ll start in January. I’ve always loved to paint, usually botanicals in watercolor or acrylic. I’ve got a few of my paintings on my walls in my house and while they’re not “gallery quality”, I love them and painting them is a major stress reliever.  It’s a hobby that I can actually lose myself in and become so present that everything else that’s going on falls away when I have a paintbrush in my hand. Starting in January, I will be painting at least four hours a month. I am inspired by this blog post from Seth Godin this morning – (Doing What You Love (But Maybe You Can’t Get Paid for It) - about how important it is to do what you love.

In the next two weeks, since I have a bit of extra time, I’ll be re-reading “Getting Things Done” so I can set up my personal organization plan (getting the chaos of my to do lists and email under control) and creating a system for my personal and household paperwork to make it easier to manage. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and may even post a “before” and “after” pic of the crazy kitchen counter that gets covered with piles of paper every few weeks. (If I was a superhero, I’d be “The Piler”!)

How about you? What healthy new habits are you developing? Could you squeeze in time for a hobby that lights you up? 

Fell Down? Just Keep Getting Up

Fall down seven times, get up eight. ~ Japanese proverb

 

Okay, so for the last three weeks, I’ve been making some major changes. Have I been perfect in my efforts? Nope. I’ve missed a day or two of working out. Had a cookie a few times. Though I’ve been successful anyway. I’ve kept going. I’ve gotten back up and did the next day’s workout. I’ve skipped the cookie more often than not. I’ve eaten half of what they bring me in restaurants. I’ve drank more water than I’ve done in the past. I’ve gotten off of the computer and gotten things done.

While perfection is elusive, I’m happy with my progress. This week, I’ll step it up. I’ll be adding another new habit – healthy habit #11 – cutting way back on my intake of bread. I’m not going to say I’ll never eat another dinner roll, though for the next six months, I’m skipping sandwiches, toast with breakfast and other forms of traditional bread. I’ll still eat my lunches made of “Flat Out” flat bread, as it’s significantly lower in carbs and higher in fiber. (It’s made by a Michigan company and it’s fabulous!)

I’m starting this new habit in spite of the fact that we’re heading off on vacation tomorrow morning. My husband and I are flying to Colorado to renew our vows on our ten year anniversary. I’ll be taking my “Getting Things Done” book with me to start planning my new way of organizing my to do list, too.

This blog has been an amazing accountability tool. Since I’m sharing three times a week, I have to look closely at my progress or lack of progress frequently. I know that at the end of this endeavor – which will be the basis for decades of healthier habits – I’ll be telling the story of how far I’ve come. Thank you for sharing my journey with me.

How about you? What new habits have you picked up? How are you creating accountability for your efforts? 

Sound Advice from a Facebook Friend: Every Right Decision Counts

I am blessed with so many wonderful friends that I’ve never met on Facebook. Many of them are friends of friends, or people who work in the same industry I do, or people I simply friended for some reason that I don’t recall. I even have friends from across the world that I met on twitter and moved over to Facebook so I could use more letters. Lynn is one of those friends and lucky for me, she’s following my on my Dropping40 journey. She sent me an email the other day that was loaded with great advice, so I’m sharing it here: 

Suppose we make one hundred decisions every day that are related to our health or eating or working out. (There was a time not long ago where I could easily say I made ONLY five “right decisions”. I could dwell on that, but once I joined the gym I began to have more awareness about what I’m doing during the day.)

You posted about water. I thought, yep, I’ve gotta drink more water. So I’m making two or three more “right decisions”.

I’m going to the gym, another “right decision”. What I do there could mean three or four more – push harder, run for one minute longer, run faster, stay for ten extra minutes and do a few more stretches.

Eat salmon, rice and broccoli for dinner – three more “right decisions”. Feeling hunger and realizing that my body is using stored calories is a revelation. And even if I choose fruit or a cupcake, if I wait ten minutes to see if the urge passes, that’s another good decision. Yogurt instead of a cupcake would be another.

Not eating snacks after dinner is a challenge for me. I may stop myself six times –  I count that as six good decisions, not just one. If someone offers me candy at work, I say no three times. I’ve decided that I will always to say no three times- before I even LOOK at what they’re offering. Three times, then if I give in, I’ve still made a good decision three times. Chances are good the treat will go away, but if it doesn’t, I’ve made one poor decision and three right ones.

Basically, I’m making more right decisions than I used to. Not sure where my count is today, maybe 50/50.

After reading your post early this week (Never Too Late), I had to write to you. You might be making eighty good decisions every day, but getting on the scale at the end of the week had you feeling like virtually every right decision wasn’t enough to make a difference.

So you gained a pound and that killed your enthusiasm about the eighty good decisions. You lost sight of the many good things are happening because of each good decision you make!

A check up might reveal better blood pressure, better blood work. Working out is getting  more oxygen to your brain. It’s good for your marriage to be working out together. Your son sees a good healthy example. You might have more energy to throw a football or play soccer with your son. You might get less winded taking the stairs. Maybe your knees are better. Better flexibility means less chance of pulling a muscle when you try to put heavy dishes above your head in the cupboard or doing a physical home improvement job without pain or Tylenol. You may have an elevated mood, better skin, more stamina, more productivity. Anything better than one hundred wrong decisions is success because it will have a positive result somewhere in your life.

Put the scale in the garage. Or take a sledge hammer to it. Measure your success by how your clothes fit. Measure success by how many right decisions you are making or all the benefits you are already feeling.

It’s like the workout is a painting and someone keeps asking -but what’s it WORTH? If you painted it, and it made you happy, and you like it, what does it matter if it’s worth $10 or $1,000. Its value is how it makes you FEEL, not what someone else might pay for it. Its value is its beauty in your eyes. Its value is that you followed your instincts in color and design and took time to enjoy the process of painting.

I recommend we – both of us – head toward this conclusion: This is what we do in our lives now, work out and eat better. We aren’t going to be done with it. Ever. We have the opportunity to make one hundred “right decisions” every day.

And one good decision is worth it.

(BTW – My husband hid the scale. Smart man, he is.) 

Being Gentle with Myself: Shutting Up My Inner Critic

“No beating yourself up. That’s not allowed. Be patient with yourself. It took you years to form the bad habits of thought that you no longer want. It will take a little time to form new and better ones. But I promise you this: Even a slight move in this direction will bring you some peace. The more effort you apply to it, the faster you’ll find your bliss, but you’ll experience rewards immediately.”
Holly Mosier

How much attention do you pay to your inner critic? That mean little voice in your head that won’t stop talking to you, about you, pointing out all your flaws and foibles? Many of us who were born in the 50s, 60s and 70s were programmed not to “brag” about our accomplishments and that we’re not any “better” than anyone else. We were also raised with standards of beauty that are beyond our reach, from flawless airbrushed pore-less skin flaunted by magazine models (even celebrities in their 50s have perfectly smooth skin and tight necks courtesy of PhotoShop) to the 5′ 10″ anorexic fashion models that seem to have the only frames on which the most attractive fashions look “right.”

Where does that leave the rest of us? In many cases, it leaves us feeling like “less than.” Not skinny enough. Not beautiful enough. Not fashionable enough. Not young enough. Over the years, it wears away at your body image and your self-esteem. For me, being 5′ 1″ and always a bit pudgy, in my 20s and 30s, I never quite felt up to par to my taller, thinner friends. Much of the old self criticism has worn away as I’ve come to recognize and appreciate my complete value as a person. However, I’m still an extremely harsh critic of my reflection in a full-length mirror.

I’m not thin. I am, in fact, considered “obese” by any doctor’s standards. And, in the past, I’ve made that mean so many bad things.

“I am a pig.” I hate to even admit that I’ve said that to myself in the mirror, though for years, I have.

“People must think I’m an out-of-control, stupid slob.” Yep, that’s been a recurring theme, too. Do I judge other people who are overweight as irresponsible, stupid and sloppy? Of course not. Though, somehow, I convinced myself that other people judge me at least that harshly.

One of my favorite new healthy habits (#7) is to be gentler with myself about my body. To appreciate my body for what it is – healthy, strong and my current vehicle in this life. I will also celebrate that my body will get even healthier and stronger, provided I give it the respect and nurturing that it deserves.

The self-flagellation over my weight is over. I can be a bit overweight and still be lovable. I can carry some extra pounds and still be smart. I can be heavier than I’d like to be and still have healthy, happy relationships. I can be “fat” and be respected.

One of my new favorite authors and menopause experts, Ellen Dolgen -  who authored “Shmirsky,” a delightful and informative book about the nuts and bolts of “the change”-  calls her inner critic her SUMO (think wrestler.) She talks about pushing him aside and moving forward, in spite of how loud and harsh he can be. I’ve not yet named my inner critic, though I’m going to find a few new ways to shut her up.

What about you? How do you silence your inner critic?

 

12 Ideas for Increasing Your Water Intake

One of my new healthy habit goals is to increase my intake of water. I’ve never been much of a water drinker and there were many days where coffee was my only beverage. In doing my research, I found an excellent article at SparkPeople that provided some fun ideas for increasing your H20 intake. You can check it out here: 12 Tips to 8 Cups of H2O per Day

They say water is good for your body in so many ways – moisturizes your skin, lubricates your joints, helps your body eliminate toxins, replaces high calorie foods with no calories at all – I’m in!

What do you think? What do you do to ensure you get enough water every day?

Dropping the Magical Thinking – Do I Really Have to Become a Responsible Adult?

As I’ve taken on this challenge, I realize I’ve been immersed in magical thinking. Can’t I lose weight while eating whatever I’d like and working out whenever I please? Can’t I accomplish everything I desire without having to structure my to-do lists and organize my life? Damn it! Why not?

Last week, I came across this quote from Marianne Williamson, a minister, author and spiritual leader whose work is based on the book, “A Course in Miracles.” (If you’ve never read it, it’s an amazing way to look at Christianity, though a bit of a bear to get through.)

“There’s nothing negative about yelling ‘Fire’ if indeed the house is burning down. Talking about what needs to be corrected in your life is not ‘negative,’ it’s mature. And talking about what needs to be corrected in your country isn’t ‘negative,’ either. The spiritual journey is aligned with, not separate from, responsible adulthood and citizenship.” ~ Marianne Williamson

It was a much-needed reminder of what it’s going to take to get through this next six months. Responsible adulthood. I have to acknowledge that over the last few years, I’ve been a bit of a slacker, spending too much time sitting on the couch and ignoring what needs to be done.

So, here’s healthy habit #4: Think like an adult. Ugh.

My closets and kitchen won’t get organized if I sit on the couch too often, playing on Facebook and with my favorite online game, Bejeweled Blitz. (I play it for the fabulous sound track. Boom! Crash!)

My to-do list won’t get to-done if I don’t bother consolidating all of the little lists on on the various pieces of paper and mini-notebooks onto one master list.

My basement won’t become usable space for our family if I ignore the mess and pretend I’m not a bit of a closet hoarder. (Who isn’t?)

For the next six months, I’ll be focused on making more responsible, adult choices. I have big dreams for my family and they won’t happen if I don’t organize my life in a way that moves us closer to them.

So, for this week and moving forward, I will do the following:

  • Set a time limit on my personal Facebook use – 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the evening – healthy habit #5
  • Set a time limit on Bejeweled – 15 minutes in the evening – healthy habit #6
  • Use that extra time  to organize my to-do lists and work toward other goals.

Update: I’ve weighed myself 2x this week, in spite of my commitment to weigh only on Monday. As I sit here at 7am on Wednesday, I can’t believe how difficult it is to hold myself back from running in to jump on the scale. I. Will. Not. Do. It. Old habits die hard.