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? 

Feeling Grateful, In Spite of Myself

GratitudeSo, since I’ve started this blog, I’ve actually GAINED 10 pounds. Not sure why or how or what the hack’s going on, but geez. Apparently, whatever it is that I’m trying isn’t working. Not even close. As frustrating as it is, I’m simply going to stay focused on being and feeling healthy and not worry about numbers for now.

This past week – the week of Thanksgiving – is one of my favorite times of year. The focus on gratitude, really appreciating all that you have in your life, is a wonderful reminder of the simple miracle of being alive, not to mention having people (and pets) you love around you, a roof over your head, food in your pantry and so many other blessings.

Today, in spite of the extra weight I’m carrying, I feel grateful for my health. I have healed the injury I had last year, so I can take my 30 minute walks 5 or 6 times a week. I am slowly working on building my lower body and core muscles, making major progress after my injury a year ago.

This week, I’m focusing on eating less carbs and sugar, and in spite of the fact that it sometimes takes me a week to lose pound, I’m taking it one day at a time.

This week, I’m holding on to gratitude for all that is good, including my health.

What about you? How do you stay motivated when the weight just won’t come off? 
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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? 

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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?
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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? 

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Familiar Routines Breed Contentment and Healthy Habits

Morning CoffeeI heard the line, “Listen, Lady! You don’t know anything about anything” on a bad television movie this evening, as I was flipping through the channels, searching for something to play in the background as I worked on my laptop. I had to stop and watch. The Lifetime Movie Network film, A Stranger at the Door, starred Linda Purl, and told a formulaic story of an abduction by her character’s long lost adopted son. I found it lovely in its lukewarm scripting, mediocre acting and non-existant character development.

I am drawn to bad Lifetime movies. They’re kind of like Cheese Whiz. Light and airy, kind of tasty, though they make you sick if you consume too much. There’s something comforting about them, too. You can pretty much predict what’s going to happen and the good guys will most likely win in the end. (Or at least they will if it’s a good bad movie.)

My husband and I took a walk tonight, during which he told me about what he would be doing after we got home. Letting the dogs out, putting them to bed, making tea for us to drink as we watched a bit of television, and getting lunches ready for the next day. It’s the same routine he runs through every weekday and it’s as comforting to him as my bad Lifetime movies are to me.

They say “familiarity breeds contempt,” but I don’t believe it. Not for a second. Research shows that familiarity and a routine can be beneficial for you both emotionally and physically. We live in a world full of chaos and unpredictability, so a routine that allows you to predict what will happen reduces stress and can make it easier to cope with day-to-day life. Routines can also help you stick to a plan for building healthy habits.

The familiar routines my husband and I have created include:

  • Family dinners at least 5 days a week
  • A half hour walk with the dog every evening, 6 days a week
  • Going to bed at the same time during the week
  • A half hour of reading for both of us before lights out
  • Morning coffee together at 6am to start the day
  • An over easy egg on Ezekiel bread for breakfast every morning on week days
  • Watching the program, CBS Sunday Morning, every Sunday as we wake up (It’s so very, very smart!)
  • My husband always winning at the shower Olympics, i.e. he always, without fail, takes a shower before me

My husband’s more attached to his routines than I am, though I completely appreciate his predictability. In this case, familiarity has bred more attraction and big happiness. And I think my guy is actually starting to like my bad Lifetime Movies.

What about you? What routines have you found help you in developing healthy habits? 

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Setting a Small Goal to Get Back on Track

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This is how I’m going to feel after I’ve lost 40 pounds!

Last week, I was clearing my computer desktop and came across a photo I had to send in for an online weight loss challenge in late May. The photo needed to show the number on the scale at the start of the challenge and include an item that you could then show yourself holding in a second photo. When I opened the photo last week, I was surprised that the number on the scale then and the number on the scale now are the same. Nope, I didn’t win the challenge, though at least I haven’t gained anything in the last four and a half months. (Sometimes you have to celebrate the teeny tiny wins, right?)

Rather than great big goals that can seem overwhelming, for the next four weeks, I’m going to try to lose a total of five pounds. Just five. Only one and one quarter pounds a week. Seems doable, right?

Since the beginning of this blog, back in December of 2012, I’ve been looking at a goal of 40 pounds, which in hindsight, seemed way too difficult. It was easy to think “I can’t do this! It’s tooooo hard!”

While I’m disheartened that I’ve not lost even one pound, I will acknowledge myself for getting a handle on several bad health habits. I’ve made some great positive changes, including:

  • Increasing my daily activity – counting my steps using my FitBit tracker
  • Drinking more water every day
  • Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, sometimes 60
  • Feeling better about my body as it is
  • Working on shame issues
  • Reading articles and blogs focused on healthy living

Now it’s time to put some small measurable goals in place. In our customer service work, we tell our clients, “You get what you measure.” It’s time for me to set some small, attainable goals that I can measure.

Between now and November 15, I will lose five pounds. Five pounds and that’s it. I’ll report back then.

What about you? What kind of goals have you set for yourself? 

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A Gift from an Amazing Researcher: Vulnerability and Shame as Tools for Growth

GraffitiIf you’re a woman over 40, I’m willing to bet you’re intimately familiar with vulnerability and shame and you don’t like how they feel. You may hate them and you may even try to hide from them. For me, even looking over my shoulder to catch a glimpse can seem  too frightening.

I’ve been facing a lot of my feelings of shame of late and whoa, is it ever painful! My childhood and young adulthood were extremely challenging and I learned ways to function that were completely inappropriate. Looking back, I feel shame at some of my own actions. I also feel a much deeper shame for things that were done to me by people who should have been watching out for me. By facing it and staring it down, I’m making major progress in releasing it little by little.

If my story sounds familiar and rings true for you in even a small way, please take some time to listen to the TED talks by Brene Brown. Seriously, take some time NOW and go watch them. My favorite is about Listening to Shame and it’s so compelling that I wish it was a requirement for women everywhere. (And – BONUS – it’s totally entertaining.)

One of Brown’s main points is that vulnerability is actually courage in action. It’s not weakness and “it fuels our daily lives.” She states that to let ourselves be vulnerable is a gift to ourselves and others.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change,” she says. Describing herself as a vulnerability researcher (who focuses primarily on women), Brown is also well-versed on the topic of shame. Both shame and vulnerability can be catalysts for growth. In order to innovate and solve problems, you have to be willing to face failure, which is often the basis of shame. Shame tells you “you’re not good enough” and asks you “who do you think you are?” Facing it and admitting your failure requires vulnerability and allows others to say, “me, too.”

Brown describes out the “warm wash of shame” that is familiar to so many women. Our culture creates expectations for women that we can never meet, causing us to feel shame and separate from others and potentially never reach for what we really want. The good news? When we face shame and vulnerability, we can “dare greatly” and accomplish much.

My favorite quote from her talk is this one:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

 

What about you? Have you faced shame and vulnerability and come out stronger, more peaceful and happier on the other side? Tell me about it!

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Every Story Reveals a Prism of Truths

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week, I’ve been witness to some  interesting happenings that have me looking at what’s considered “truth” in a whole new way.

A group to which I belonged hit a bump in the road when the partners had a falling out. The break-up played out on social media and those who thought they knew the “truth” chose sides based on what they thought they knew about what had happened. In fact, many of them only knew what they saw announced publicly or what they’d been told through email or private messaging by one or two of the parties. Claws came out and reputations were damaged. It was horrific, as people who were only peripherally involved demanded information and made public comments about what should have been a private matter.

In another situation, I witnessed a team in my work sphere manage a challenging situation. I’d watched it play out and made assumptions about what had happened. I made some snap judgements about the team’s competence. Over a few hours, the details became clear and in reality, the situation was handled remarkably well. I was disappointed in myself, as I had only seen my perspective and assumed it was “truth.” It wasn’t.

In reality, truth has so many sides. So very many sides. What you see depends on what part of the prism you’re looking through. And I’m learning, as I get wiser, to hold off on my judgements until I see more than one aspect of the “truth.”

What about you? Have you ever made harsh judgements based on limited information only to find out later that you were wrong? Tell me about it!

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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? 

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