Bringing Your Body Into Balance

My 100+ pound weight loss is what grabs people's attention. However, my weight loss was merely a side effect of finally taking my health and happiness into my own hands and finding that perfect balance. Body, mind, spirit. It all matters.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What You Didn't Know You Needed To Know About the Gym

I am a gym rat! I love the gym. I love the clank of the equipment, the whirl of the treadmills, the crappy music and even the sometimes weird, flashy outfits. I love it all. Give me some lifting gloves, good music in my headphones and some iron and I'll see you in 1-2 hours! Love it. Love it. Love it.

However, this was most definitely not always the case. I used to feel such anxiety when I went to the gym. I felt like everyone was staring at me, wondering why the fat girl was in the gym. Then, add on top of that, not knowing what the heck I was doing. I felt like a fat fool, and my gym memberships usually collected dust (along with my gym bag) until I finally would cancel them convinced I'd start again later. Maybe New Years, after I had worked out at home for a while and lost some weight first (which also never seemed to happen).

I see it now in my clients. The unease. The feeling that everyone is staring. Convinced they don't belong. They are somehow different. So here's what I know about the gym that may make it easier for you to walk into your own the next time......

You will never know what to do if you don't ask! It is stressful enough to go into a gym where you aren't comfortable without walking in clueless on how to operate anything or even where everything is located to begin with. At the gym where I work part time, we have an amazing program that is free of charge where we will work with members and teach them how to use all the equipment and set them up with different workouts. While most gyms might not have anything nearly this involved, they will probably offer some kind of orientation. You may have to ask for one. Ask! You're a paying member! If they offer nothing, pay for just a single personal training session and ask the trainer to teach you how to use all of the equipment. It'll be the best money you've ever spent in a gym!

The two giggling women on the treadmills are NOT laughing at YOU!....Neither are those men on the other end of the room. This is actually a fear I somehow forgot to have when I was overweight and new to the gym environment but I see it in so many of my clients. People often go to the gym with their friends for two reasons, it is more fun and it is more comfortable because THEY are often self-conscious too. Often, they never look up, only down at the treadmill and at each other. They get in their own little world and cut up and have fun to make the hour pass. They don't even notice you doing squats and, if they do, there's really nothing funny about squats! Unless if you are just doing some kind of bizarre exercise that no one has ever seen before or just in some kind of way trying to draw attention to yourself, I promise, they aren't laughing at you!

Which leads me to my next point. No one thinks it's weird or funny to see an overweight person at the gym. This is what seems to keep overweight people out of the gym the most. However, oddly enough, people almost always feel the exact opposite about overweight people working out. They respect it. Especially if you're really working hard. Okay, I'll admit it, if you sit on a recumbent bike eating a doughnut, they're probably going to judge you. But if you're red faced and huffing and puffing, they're gonna admire the hell out of you!

You shouldn't skip the gym because you've had a bad day. A horrible day is a PERFECT excuse to go work out. Take each stressful moment you've had in your day and sweat it out! Leave every ounce of stress and anxiety on that gym floor! Exercise is THE BEST medicine for stress and anxiety! I am living proof! (In case if you're new to my blog, I cured postpartum depression through exercise and proper nutrition.)

Waiting one more day really does matter. All those days you've been skipping?....They've added up to years! If you work out today, you'll feel so glad you did. You'll look at yourself in the mirror tomorrow, and not feel hopeless. Perhaps the most discouraging thing about being obese is this: You can eat perfectly, work out religiously for an entire month and STILL be obese! It feels like you'll never get to your ideal weight.

In fact, I have to say, having just recently gained about 10-15 pounds and plugging away at them these last couple of weeks, it's sooo much easier than trying to lose 10-15 pounds when I still had 100 to go. This is for a few reasons. First, it's easier in general to move, which makes exercise much more pleasant (or at least tolerable). Second, my hormones are not all out of balance like they were when I was obese which means food and exercise affects my body differently. And, perhaps the biggest motivator, I can work out and eat good for a few days and see results in the mirror and in the way my clothes fit. However, when I was larger, the actual pounds fell off much quicker. I remember I had a friend I would text each Monday after my weigh in with texts like "down 5 pounds this week", "down 7 pounds this week". Now, I'm extremely happy if I can manage to lose 2 pounds in a week. Which doesn't happen many weeks. But, overall, much easier and motivational.
So, in the beginning, when those giant drops started to dwindle to the standard 1-2 pounds lost, I had to learn to shift my focus from the "superficial" results and, rather, focus on the immediate, internal results. I would really pay attention to how my energy level was after a work out and my mood in general. Perhaps the biggest motivator of all was really focusing on how proud of myself and in control I felt when I DID work out opposed to when I didn't. Notice everything. Do you feel more positive? Do you sleep better? Control your cravings better? More energy? Does your back ache less the next day? THESE are the things that will keep you going when the scale starts slowing down. 

You should go even if your workout buddy just canceled. seriously, it wasn't your "sign" not to go! Workout buddies are a tricky thing. My boyfriend is my best workout buddy ever. Like me, he's a total gym rat. I can always count on him to be by my side, pushing me to the point of exhaustion. We joke and laugh which makes the workout fun and he always keeps me motivated. BUT I'm lucky! Most people's workout buddies....quite honestly?...suck! Because most people, quite honestly? Aren't motivated yet! It is estimated that only 15% of the population works out on a regular basis. So right now you are trying to become part of that 15%. If you've got another person who is trying to do the same and you both are depending on each other to get to the gym then, guess what?! You have MORE than an 85% chance of failure. So, you have two options. If your workout buddy keeps dumping you to go home and watch American Idol with her hubby then dump HER! Either decide you are going to go by yourself or find a friend who is already part of that 15% and ask them to drag your butt to the gym with them every day!

Crotch sweat/swamp butt is normal!! I remember when I first joined a gym many moons ago that one of the (many) things that made me self-conscious was the line of crotch sweat that would be on the seat after I used a piece of equipment. News Flash: Your crotch sweat is probably smaller than mine! My boyfriend and I joke that I leave a "Y" on the seat while he leaves more of a "T". Some people just leave a big honkin' sweat puddle....which is totally rude. Clean up your sweat guys! But, bottom line, your bottom is gonna leave a line. :)

It's okay to make faces! I've trained a few women who won't work too hard because they are worried they are going to grunt or make an unattractive face. Look around folks!! The people making the ugliest faces are usually the ones in the best shape! No one is going to be like "haha, look at the face that woman who is working hard is making". 95% won't even notice, the other 5% will admire you for pushing yourself. I make the ugliest faces imaginable when I work out. However, my goal is not to be attractive in the gym, it's to work hard so I can be attractive everywhere else.....oh, and um, to be healthy and junk too.

Strength training is not just for meatheads!!! Women, lifting weights will NOT make you big. Oh, you're the exception? No, you are not the, seriously, you're not. I thought I was too. I'm almost scrawny and I curl 25 pound dumbbells. When I was heavy, my arms were tree trunks. Turns out that was hard, solid fat on my arms wrapped around tiny muscles, not bulging biceps. Men, lifting weights almost definitely will not make YOU big either. Getting really big takes hard work and specific diet. That's just for men. For women, forget about it. We need testosterone to gain muscle and we just don't have very much of it! Muscle is hard to get. HOWEVER, we want it!!! YOU want!!! When it comes to metabolism, I want you to look at it like this: our bodies are vehicles and calories/energy/fat stores is fuel. If our bodies are made up primarily of fat, we are a little 4 cylinder, fuel efficient car. It takes very little energy/calories/fat stores to get us around. However, if we are primarily muscle, we are a Hummer. Extremely fuel inefficient and burning up calories/energy/fat stores all over the place. Not at all fuel efficient. We want to be Hummers!!! The reason most people start gaining weight in their 20s is because that's when we start losing muscle (approximately 1/2 pound of muscle a year). That means that, if we are eating the same amount of calories in our 20s, 30s, 40s+ that we did in our teens, we will gain weight. UNLESS, we offset this loss with as much muscle mass as possible!

And, on that note, The free weight section is not just for the men! I see it constantly. Women walk in the gym, hop on a piece of cardio equipment, and an hour later they leave. As I just mentioned, strength training is essential! Furthermore, long extended cardio is not an effective way to lose weight! I love to drag women kicking and screaming into the free weight section and introduce them to the joy of true strength training. I've seen many fall in love with it. There's a reason the men flock to this section. It's where the results happen! Very little can take the place of unsupported, free weight exercises. Ladies, this is YOUR area too! Men will not drop their weights and turn to stare in disbelief if you walk into "their turf". In fact, they're probably so wrapped up in what they're doing that they won't notice you've walked in at all! If anything, they'll admire you for "working out with the boys". And, ladies, that's at ANY size! The bigger you are, the more admirable it will be!

The stability ball will not pop!! Overweight people, take note. These balls are meant to hold a LOT of weight. Some balls can even hold up to 750 pounds. Check the ball to make sure it's a little mushy (not too firm, not to soft) and that there's no bulging seams. Then sit that tushy down on that ball and get to work. You'll be fine! ....same goes for treadmills.

So, there you have it. The gym seems scary because it's unfamiliar. The more times you set foot in there, the more comfortable you will become. If you are a member, you have just as much of a right to be there as anyone else! Make sure you pick a gym that isn't a "meat market". A good sign of a meat market would be women working out in sports bras only. A more conservative gym will not allow this. The YMCA is a great family type place, so definitely check it out if you have one near you. Make sure you find a place that makes sense in your life. Close to work or home? Good hours? Child watch if needed? Then take the leap and just go! Also, keep in mind, anytime we make ourselves uncomfortable and step out of our safe and familiar zone, we grow as individuals!

Good luck and I'll see you at the bar. (That's gym'd know that if you went.)


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 28 of 28 Day Challenge: Final Challenge

For our last challenge, I'm going to start by telling you a story. Grab your popcorn.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was completely obsessed with a boy. And a few months later....this girl was completely obsessed with another boy. And so on. Along the way she never focused on herself, except....when a boy broke her heart.

Okay, big surprise. That girl was me. I was boy crazy growing up. Although not the most interesting or exciting story, it was the story of my youth and, sadly, the story of my post-divorce adult life until I met the most amazing person I'd ever met. Myself.

It turns out I am the best company for myself and I never break my heart. I am always there, just waiting for attention. And when I get that attention (from myself) I feel more alive and focused and hopeful. Problem is, I never really consciously put this together for most of my life. However, on some level I always knew it. At a very young age when a boy would break up with me (which, let's face it, during our grade school years, is a pretty common occurrence, or it was for me anyway) I would somehow know that the key to getting over him was to really focus on myself. I would buckle down in my school work, try to lose weight (my eternal battle!) and clean my room. 

As an adult there's much bigger things to focus on but there's still the basic elements of self-care that always matter. I won't rehash the troubled relationship that I've mentioned possibly 100 times in this blog but I'll just pull two key points out of it. First, I learned how I did not, ever again, want to be treated. And, second, I finally became consciously aware of how focusing on myself during the most heart wrenching moments, instantly made me feel more energetic, more hopeful and positive and more in control of my own life. 

If you're new to my blog, here's a couple past posts that really sum up my growth and experience throughout those two years. I've put them all in chronological order because it's like I can read them that way and see my development and awareness unfolding:

Kicking the Habit: My Addiction to a Man (this seems to be the post where I really started to "get it")
I Don't Accept Myself the Way I Am
It's All the Shame
Out of the Ashes: A Budding Romance

So, yeah, it comes off as pretty pathetic to chase after love and acceptance but that's exactly what I spent a big chunk of my life doing. The crazy thing is, when I finally stopped looking for it everywhere else, I found it within myself. 

Once I learned this little "trick" of focusing on myself (on a more conscious level) I took it and ran. Every time I felt out of control in any area of my life (not just the guy department), I would refocus even harder on what was important to ME. What would make ME a stronger, healthier, more awesome person. I wrote a blog post about this called What I Have Control Over.

Although I still have my days where I struggle with self-acceptance, I can honestly say that, over time, I truly fell in love with myself. Despite my countless flaws and shortcomings, I am my son's loving and proud mother, I am my mother's daughter, I am the sister who loves my siblings and niece and nephew to no end, the person who sits and cries with clients, the person who sits and cries to stupid songs in the car, the person who sits and cries other random places with very little incentive to do so, I push as hard in the gym as "the boys" and my mind is constantly reeling with new ways to help others AND myself. And about a million other things all ranging somewhere between "amazing" and "horrid" that make me so imperfectly perfect. I am complex and awesome and so uniquely me and I will not be humble and not acknowledge how worthy I am of my own love and attention. AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU!!! You are worth your time and focus!  Stop being humble, stop being selfless. It is doing no one any good and certainly not you. It is time to focus on YOU!

And here's the super duper cool part! The more you redirect focus back onto yourself, not only do you have more love and energy to give to others, but you suddenly begin to love yourself as well!  Anything we invest time, energy and attention in is sending the message to our subconscious mind "this is something important!"

So here is your challenge for today....and beyond. Focus on you and observe how your energy and emotions shift when you do so. Every chance you get. Use the past challenges as your guide:

All or Nothing
Get Your Brain in the Game
Get Uncomfortable
Move It Anyday
Love You Where You Stand
Make a Swap
Bite It, Write It (this one always makes me feel VERY in control!)
Make a Swap

These are just guides to get you started but your challenge is to pay more attention to what is going to make your life better. Doing this will not only (gasp!) make your life better over time. It will also instantly redirect your energy toward you instead of toward whatever energy sucking black hole of a problem you might be focusing on at the moment.

Okay, ladies who are still hung up on the guy. I have one more little nugget of wisdom because I know how hard it can be to stay focused on yourself when you're in this situation (and I get a large number of messages from females who talk about how much they can relate to the pain I've expressed in previous posts). As you focus more and more on yourself and grow as a person, you become a magnet of sorts to men. They are inexplicably drawn to you. This isn't just physical appearance I'm talking about. I noticed this during my little spurts of self-focus when I still had a large amount of weight to lose. Men love nothing more than a woman who loves herself and is too busy to focus on him. So if your focus needs to be "he will regret the day he ever let me go" then, girlfriend, use that shit! Use whatever motivates you. My mother has always told me, "there's no such thing as bad motivation." Funny thing is, once you arrive to a place of self-love and acceptance, not only will you not want him anymore, you won't care if he wants you either!!

Whatever is stealing your energy in life right now, TAKE IT BACK! And give all that energy to yourself instead!

So that's the end of our 28 Day Challenge but this is just the beginning of your new, slightly better, slighter different self. In 28 MORE days from now, you will be 28 days older no matter what you do or don't do. What will you do?


Day 10 of 28 Day Challenge: Time's a Wastin'

I challenge you for one day to a eliminate the biggest time waster in your life. For many I am guessing it is surfing on the Internet. However for you it may be different. Maybe for you it is Facebook stalking your ex-boyfriend along with any girl you see him communicating with on his page, or maybe you find yourself losing hours to Candy crush. What ever your personal time sucker is that's what you should consider a eliminating. Just for today! Can't handle the thought of not doing it all day? The...n resolve to only do it a half a day or even two hours.
So if you are sitting there right now scratching your head unable to figure out a single unproductive thing you do all day long, Your challenge, my friend, is exactly the opposite! If you are overworked to the point that you have zero time to goof off, take that time today! Set aside at least 15 minutes of quiet solitude doing something that relaxes you and restores your spirit.
However I am guessing that most of us will fall into the first category. So take the time that you usually waste and either use it for true relaxation such as meditation, prayer, exercise, or extra sleep or use it to continue today's challenge and tick some things off that to-do list that haunts you.
Regardless of what you choose and what category you fall into, resolve that you will arrive at the end of this day feeling productive and with no regrets.

Day 25-27 of 28 Day Challenge: DON'T live in the moment (Last Weekend Challenge!)

"Live in the moment! There is no past, there is no future, there is only now."

Okay, this sounds so nice and, yes!, sometimes we should most definitely stop and take everything in and live completely in the here and now. However, those of us who struggle with the "instant gratification syndrome" (i.e. picking the cake now over the better, healthier body later; shopping now instead of paying the house payment on time) don't necessarily need to always follow this advice.

For our last weekend challenge, I've decided on the habit that I believe we should focus on changing. It's a habit that I try very hard to always do and find it very beneficial.

For the next 3 days I challenge you, before each and every action/decision/etc., to momentarily ask how your future self will feel about your present self's decisions. Here are a few of my own real life examples:

  • When I'm actively trying to lose weight, I eat a large meal around 4-5pm in the afternoon (previously my "binge time") and then I floss and brush and I'm done eating for the day (this works for me, but might not for everyone). Sometimes I get hungry again before bed or just get cravings. However, I ask myself how I will feel when I lay down to go to sleep in a little while with food on my belly. Likewise, I think about how I will feel the next morning when I'm not as well rested (because my body was busy digesting food instead of resting and repairing) and I have the frustration, guilt and feeling of failure for not sticking with my goals. I have the ongoing food question of "how will I feel about eating this when the taste is gone out of my mouth?"
  • When I don't feel like working out I think about how I will feel in 30min-1 hour from then when my workout would be over both if I did do the workout and if I didn't.
  • When I want to eat my son's peanut butter Panda Puffs cereal for a snack, I think about the sugar headache and energy crash I will get afterwards. Not to mention, I'll be eating his treats in front of him which will remind him they are there and he will want to eat them too. Then my future self will not only feel guilty for giving my son sugar but will also have to deal with the 5 year old blur of chaos that will be bouncing off the walls shortly thereafter (and, remember, I still have the energy crash....HOW does sugar affect us SO differently?!?!)
  • When I want to sit down and play some mind numbing game on my phone during the precious hour here or there that I might actually have some free time, I think about how I will feel about how I spent that hour when it's over. Will I feel energized and refreshed like I would if I spent it cleaning, organizing, reading, working out or even taking a nap?
  • And when I want to stay up late when I have to get up early the next morning, I think about how I will feel when that alarm clock goes off. Will I be glad I stayed up late? Likewise, when my alarm clock goes off at 4:30am, and I'm tempted to hit "snooze", I think about how I will feel when my future self has to drag out of bed at 5:30 anyway with the knowledge that she didn't start her day off with a good blood pumping, metabolism boosting workout.
  • Sunday food prep is another time that I definitely consult with my future self when I just don't feel like doing it.
  • Another huge one is when I struggle with whether to spend quality time with my son or spend that time doing something else that could wait. I envision myself when he's 18 (or even much younger) and wants nothing to do with me. Or, if he's a troubled teenager. Will I feel good about the time I spent with him or will I regret all the times I took him for granted and didn't give him my attention when he begged for it.
Okay, so you get the idea. For the next three days, I challenge you to live in the future. Before you begin (or DON'T begin) each task, consult with your future self. How will you feel an hour from now? A day from now? A year from now? 20 years from now?

Set an hourly reminder on your phone if you need to. Post notes all over the place. Have friends/family remind you. Try very hard to adopt this mentality. The effects can be amazing!

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 24 of 28 Day Challenge: Lists, Lists and More Lists

I am a list maker. I mean, I am a compulsive list maker. I literally make lists of the lists I need to make. And this falls right into line with a few of our recent challenges. Being in control, focusing on what's important, clearing out all those "to do"'s, all mixed into one.

The reason I have become a big list maker is because my head can get all scrambled with a million thoughts of things I need to do swirling around inside, making me feel out of control. If you haven't figured it out yet, I put quite a bit of emphasis on our need to feel in control. Especially if we are struggling with an addiction such as overeating, drinking, etc. because nothing will make us break down and turn to our addiction like feeling out of control.

So your challenge today is to make lists at every opportunity you see to make them. To get you started and hopefully give you a better idea of what I mean, I'm going to give you guessed it! A LIST of all my running lists I have right now.

  • A master packing list (everyone needs one of these!!! Especially if you have kids). Packing for vacation isn't nearly as stressful as it used to be when I have a master list of everything I could possibly need.
  • In addition to this, I have a toiletry bag list as well. This is my bag with all my little travel size things like shampoo, condition, deodorant, etc. I go thru the list to make sure everything is stocked and filled before I pack it up.
  • A gym bag list....and this is just a subcategory list of the one I have for my "gym right after work" list which includes dinner/snacks, drinks, etc. for my son if we're not going home first.
  • A "staple" list. This is a list of all the grocery store items I know I'm probably going to need every time I go to the store. Not only does this save time when I'm making my week to week grocery list, it also ensures that I'm always prepared with all my healthy convenience foods for the week. And I think we all know the importance of being prepared when it comes to food!
  • A daily goals list. This is my newest and one of my favorites. I actually am using an app on my iPhone called "Good Day". It lets me list my goals and then rate how good I did each day on a scale from 1 to 5 (which I REALLY like, opposed to just a black and white "yes" or "no"). Right now my daily goals list includes.
    • "PJ" (Quality time with my son)
    • "Gino" (Something every day to nurture & grow my relationship)
    • "Good Deed" (Do a good deed for someone for no reason)
    • "Don't eat late in the evening"
    • "Exercise 6x week" (I really love that I can rate it too so if I don't push hard, I don't feel right giving myself a "5" just because I worked out)
    • "Career" (Something that helps me meet my career goals)
    • "Check Off a 'To Do'" (Do something I don't HAVE to do today, such as paying a bill that's not due for two weeks, cleaning my car, etc. Anything that could wait but I do it just to get it done)
    • "Healthy eating"
  •  I also have a running "do eventually" list. This one is probably the most important for my sanity. If something is just nagging at my brain that I know I need to do soon but not necessarily now, I put it on an ongoing list in my phone's notepad. It gets it out of my head which frees my brain up for more important, constructive things. 
  • My list of what's important to me to help keep me on track and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. My son, my health, my career (can't be an out of shape trainer!!), my loved ones who are always watching, etc. Some of the things that used to be on my list before I lost the weight were some of the following:
    • Not get winded walking up the stairs
    • Not worry about breaking wobbly chairs
    • Fitting into regular clothes and having more choices....You get the idea. Anything that motivates you toward your goals. 
  • And my final list is actually a dual list. I have them side by side in the back of my planner. The first one is titled "How I Feel When I've Had a Successful/Productive Day" and the second is "How I Feel When I've Had an Unsuccessful/Unproductive Day". I actually listed these out on days when these feelings were real and fresh (after each of the aforementioned days). Just having them there to read the contrast of how I will feel when I arrive at the end of my day if I've done the right things or the wrong things for myself, helps keep it so much more real in my head.
Okay, challenge time, and the last of it's kind actually. This weekend and Monday's (final) Challenge will be a bit different. Even if you're not a list maker like I am (and, let me just say, I never used to be!), I challenge you to give it a try just one day. Look around your life. Where can you get your head a little straighter with a list or two....or twenty?


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 23 of 28 Day Challenge: Let Go

Today's challenge is one that is extremely important to me and has helped me possibly more than any other single change I've made. Over the years I have learned, to a very large extent, how to let go. Now, don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that I always do, it just means that I know the steps for letting go and I'm always actively working to achieve it in various areas of my life. I wrote a post about one of my experiences with letting go a year or two ago: Letting Go.

Let me start by saying, stress is inevitable. Bad things are going to happen and there is no way around it. However, we often invite stress into our lives that needn't be there and the more stress we have the less energetic and in control we are in ALL areas of our lives. Here's a few of my own "for example"'s:

  • I stopped watching the news. I used to watch a lot of news, especially after 9/11. I started to notice that I would feel anxiety before I even turned the t.v. on. I would go on political rants and get into unpleasant debates with people. In addition, I would watch a lot of real life murder mystery shows like "Snapped". After time I realize that these didn't just stress me out, they depressed me. I took it a step further actually and stopped watching basically all t.v. but that's another challenge altogether. Now I'm on a semi-permanent news fast. I hear about the most important things things from clients/gym members as well as family and friends (although, they mostly don't talk about it with me because they know my stance on it). Some people say this is hiding my head in the sand. I don't agree at all. Knowing all the details of why we might go to war or about how some guy dismembered his wife is not going to make me a more highly functioning American/world citizen. But NOT knowing these details makes me a happier, more loving, more forgiving person which DOES make me a better person. I'm very much of the mind "think globally, act locally." That's why, if I AM going to learn about current events, it's going to be things like what products contain GMO's and which companies support Monsanto or which super centers sell products obtained in any sort of immoral capacity (unfair trade, slave wages, etc.). THESE are the things that light me up and energize me because these are definitely the things I feel I have a shred of control over (supporting local farms, buying organic, fair trade, revealing unhealthy practices of food producers to friends/family/blog followers/clients), opposed to a war that I don't have very much of a say so in. If nothing else I can help create a better local environment for those who are trying to stop a war, make a political change, etc. I'm not suggesting that what I do is the right thing for everyone. What I AM suggesting is that we all choose something we are passionate about that will make us feel positive and hopeful about ourselves and the world around us.
  •  I stopped asking about the latest gossip. There have been times in my life where someone I wasn't directly related to was behaving in a manner that affected a person/people who I was directly related to. It bothered me very much and would consume my thoughts, sometimes filling my heart with such unbelievable anger that I would want to seek out revenge. One of these times was quite a few years ago and it impacted my entire family on some level or another. However, it seemed to anger me more than even the people it most directly affected. So I finally asked my family to stop sharing the details with me unless it was something horrible/legal that happened or if they needed someone to talk to. This was hard for me, the not knowing, because it made me feel out of control. However, I quickly realized that knowing the details ALSO made me feel out of control because there was nothing I could do about it. And on top of that, I felt such anger when I knew. So I might as well pick not knowing. This is around the time in my life (my late 20's) when I really started to turn my attitude around in a lot of ways and I'm convinced this decision helped me very much. Likewise, a similar situation happened in the very recent past. However, I've once again decided to remove myself from knowing the details. While I'm always available as a "shoulder" if someone needed to talk, me knowing every ugly thing that transpires does nothing for my mental well being and doesn't help the person who is being directly affected. Not knowing, on the other hand, is so liberating! And I'm a happier, more loving person so I can offer everyone in my life way more love and support than when I'm hung up on details that I can't control.
 Other miscellaneous things I do to reduce/avoid stress:
  • Try to always leave on time so I don't get road rage every time someone goes 2 miles under the speed limit.
  • Never let my laundry pile up! This one is a big one for me. I used to let it get out of control and it was a big pile of energy sucking stress. Now I combine a LOT more colors than I used to (and everything turns out just fine!) and don't let myself accumulate more than two loads at a time. 
  • I try to make my bed every morning!!! "Messy bed, messy head!"
  • I try to never say or do anything that will cause me stress later. These include argumentative responses to friends' posts on Facebook, badmouthing someone behind their back, telling lies, etc. Anything that I could foresee coming back to "bite me in the rear" I just don't do!
I will add that I am SOOOO not perfect at letting things go. I am actually the queen of dwelling on things. But, all the more reason, I try to avoid it ever needing to get to a point where I need to dwell on it. When there's a looming deadline, I just do it. I'm not nearly the procrastinator I used to be. 

So what stress can you let go of today? It's back to what we've discussed in a previous challenge. What do you have control over?


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day 22 of 28 Day Challenge: The Shame Thing

I've written a couple of blog posts about shame that you will need to take time to read in order to understand/do this challenge. These outlines the explanation of what shame and your "shadow" is as well as my own experiences on thoughts on the subject.

It's All the Shame
The Shadow Effect: Acknowledging My Dark Side

Your shadow is your shame. All the stuff you replay in your head. Your regrets. Your mistakes. The things you punish yourself for over and over again. It's everything from your deep dark secrets to the stupid thing you just can't believe you said that's constantly playing on a loop in your head. This is your time to forgive yourself and set yourself free. Stop hiding in the shadows. Acknowledge that you have a dark side (as  does everyone else) and don't just forgive yourself, EMBRACE it! Make it part of who you are.

The movie "The Shadow Effect" talks about how you can't have light without darkness. Once we stop trying to push down all those parts of ourselves that shame us and, instead, assimilate them into who we are, we are then free to fully embrace all that is wonderful about us.

Face what shames you today and decide that you are STILL enough. Then step into the light.