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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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Damage Control


The mentality of most of my clients, and probably most Americans at large, is that tomorrow is a day to throw down. People everywhere will be eating themselves into a stupor in a few short hours. And I totally get it! Thanksgiving has turned into a festive day of never-ending feasting and I've definitely viewed it as such myself in the past.

However, let me ask you, how do you feel after a day of eating like this? Even an afternoon. Are you glad you did it? That's what's ironic about our resolutions to just "enjoy the day." It often ends with us feeling absolutely horrible. Our bellies hurt and we are too tired to think. People like to blame it on the tryptophan in turkey but, I assure you, people who eat ham in lieu of turkey can often be found snoozing on the couch later that afternoon too. 

The problem is, our bodies can only handle so much food at a time. We shovel in massive amounts of various types of food (eating a variety of foods at one time regardless of the quantity can, alone, be very taxing on our system) and then we sit or lay down and allow that traffic jam of food to accumulate like a rock in our bellies. We go to bed that night often feeling anything but festive. 

So I want to challenge everyone to start approaching Thanksgiving the way I have the past few years. Changing my view of what Thanksgiving is has completely changed my holiday experience. 

First, did you know that each and every bite of food you put in your mouth you taste a little less than the bite before? It's the law of diminishing returns. So, instead of piling your plate high with gobs of everything, start with a small selection of your very favorite foods, including dessert. Keep in mind this law of diminishing returns and remember that each bite you take will deliver less flavor and pleasure than the bite before. Savor each and every bite knowing it is literally the best bite you're going to have from there on out. 

This does a couple of things. First, it takes a certain amount of time, that is different for each person and can average anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, for the stomach to start sending the brain messages that it is starting to feel full. By eating slowly you are sending less food down to create that full feeling.

Also, when we chew our food well, not only do we increase feelings of satiety (mouth pleasure is an important and often overlooked part of satiety) but we are also producing digestive enzymes in our mouth in addition to breaking the food down into smaller pieces, both of which are going to help us more easily digest our food, avoiding gas and other digestive discomforts.

I have found since I started being mindful of this that I enjoy my food much more than trying to see how much I can shovel in before I start getting full. Keep in mind that, in addition to not enjoying the food as much, once those gobs of mashed potatoes and bread hit our stomach, there's no turning back. You'll start out with a slightly full feeling but over time it turns into a horrible PACKED feeling! 

So, in addition to slowing down and savoring my food (and, therefore, eating less of it), here are other shifts in my mindset I have made regarding Thanksgiving:

  • It's no longer a "food" holiday. Yes, it's a time for tasty eats but my new focus is on my family and friends gathering together to enjoy each others company. At the end of the day, it's become a tradition for my son and I to put up the Christmas decorations. 
  • I never sit down after eating my Thanksgiving feast! Instead of being the selfish, overgrown child after the meal, I help in the kitchen until everything is clean. Not only do the women folk who assumed this chore a long time ago appreciate this but it also creates necessary movement which aids in the digestive process. 
  • I try to get people to go on a walk with me. After everything is clean, I try to rally some of the lazy, overstuffed troops to take a walk. This is another nice, non-eating tradition that can be created for Thanksgiving. In addition to creating closeness and helping everyone digest their rocks, it is such a beautiful time of year to get out and see the brilliant colors of fall that will soon turn to gray.

But before any of this, I do something so crazy that I don't even know myself at times. First thing that day....

  • I exercise.

I know I probably lost about 7/8 of my readers just now. But here's what exercising on major holidays (yes, I also exercise on Christmas) can do...

  • It reminds you of your goals. "Energy flows where attention goes." Working out on Thanksgiving morning sends the very clear message to your subconscious "I even value my health and my goals today, on Thanksgiving."
  • It does the obvious of offsetting some of the extra calories you're consuming. Although don't get carried away with this mentality, you often burn way less calories than you believe. However, if you work out hard, it depletes your glycogen stores which means less of those simple carbs will be converted to fat.
  • It makes you enjoy your entire day more. There's something about starting ANY day with a workout that makes your eyes a little brighter and your step a little peppier. You will be more focused and positive the entire day and, thus, more able to enjoy the non-food elements of the holiday....the non-food elements being those other people sitting around all that food.

Thanksgiving used to always end with me feeling sick and depressed. It was the epitome of irony when I would look forward to it so much. Now I know I really can look forward it and I'll go to bed that night feeling fit, satisfied and happy. My day will be active, full of laughter and precious moments with the people I love most in the world and moderate amounts of tasty treats that I don't usually indulge in. And I will have savored every single moment and bite of the day. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Untethering My Soul



I am absolutely positively obsessed with the book The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. I've listened to it twice and decided that I want to also read the hard copy. Being basically the slowest reader in the history of mankind, that's a pretty huge thing for me. But that's how huge this book is my friends!

I'm gonna break this book down to probably TOO simplistic of an analogy but this is how I view it...

When we are born, our consciousness starts out all clean and fresh. Let's view this consciousness as a filter of sorts. A filter through which we send every experience, every thought, every image...everything! Most things pass seamlessly through this filter without a hitch. I view these things as "neutral". They don't really affect us or cause any emotional response. However, not all thoughts/images/experiences are neutral and some get stuck in our filter. I've come to think of them as "dirty". Here's an example of the difference, and a version of an example used in the book:

Neutral: Driving down the road, you see a blue car at a stop light. The guy inside kinda looks like your boyfriend. You notice it but then the light turns green and you drive away, notice a cool looking tree, and forget all about the guy who kinda looked like your boyfriend.

Dirty: Driving down the road, you see a blue car at a stop light. The guy inside IS your boyfriend and he's kissing another girl. BAM! Everything else around goes blurry. You have an emotional AND physical reaction to it. You can't think of anything else, possibly for days/weeks/months. Years later you are driving down the road and pull up beside a blue car at a stop light and see two people kissing inside. Maybe the car isn't even blue or maybe the people aren't kissing. But it's still enough to trigger that memory that is STILL stuck in your filter and you once again have an emotional and very possibly even a physical response to it. 

Over a lifetime, our filters get dirty. This causes a couple different things to happen. First, these negative experiences actually become part of the filter and shape the way we perceive the world. In the example above, they turn something neutral (like blue cars) into triggers that can affect all our future relationships. Second, the dirtier our filters get, the harder it is to send new experiences through them.

This is absolutely profound for me. For the past few years I've felt like I'm almost numb to happy experiences. Not that I can't experience them but they haven't had the same bright, happy zest they used to have. I've almost dismissed this as part of getting older and having almost a "been there, done that," attitude about it all, thinking "of course I'm not going to be as carefree and happy as I was when I was younger, I'm wiser and more experienced." However, now I'm starting to view it much differently! And this concept just feels true to me. It truly feels like everything I'm experiencing is being sent through a dirty, clogged filter.

In addition to this, I most definitely have experiences that have become part of my filter. I have a perfect example of this from my own life:

A few years ago a guy I was dating started a class at a local college. We had been dating for about a month at the time and he was very interested in me. After his first day of class he suddenly became very different toward me and extremely slow to respond to texts. I found out over time that he had met someone else in that class. All these years later I'm still a little unsure of the exact details of what transpired but to simplify things, he basically cheated on me with her.

A few years later I was dating a guy who went to a cookout at a friend's house. I actually encouraged him to do this and this was something new for him and very much out of his comfort zone as he was "relationship guy" who always preferred to do things with me instead of making friends and growing his world. He was very slow to respond to my texts that day and I had the thought (I'm sure because of my past experience) of "what if he's met someone?" However, I was able to recognize this as based on a fear from my previous experience and dismissed it....Less than one week later he broke up with me for the girl he met at that cookout.

What once would have been a totally neutral experience (a guy I'm seeing having a new experience) has turned into quite the dirty experience. In addition to my concern over anyone I'm seeing going anywhere new, I am also highly sensitive to even the slightest perceived shift in his level attention toward me. Where most people would base their belief in a person's interest on all their experiences with that person leading up to that day, I know it's possible for a man to proclaim his undying love to you one day and disappear out of your life the very next.

So, now, as I find myself interested in one specific guy instead of casually dating many (which felt MUCH safer!), I am struggling with these issues rising to the surface. When he recently started a new job I wondered if that first evening he might suddenly change his attention toward me. His interest from yesterday means nothing today if he doesn't seem as chatty.

Luckily, this book made me perceive all these feelings as a perfect opportunity to clean my filter a little. In the past I would have tried to "silver lining" the experience. I would have probably made a list of all the reasons it would be a good thing if he decided not to date me anymore. I've since learned that this is the psyche's way of trying to resist the fear and emotions and instead we build "walls of thought" around these feelings to "protect" us. Problem is, these walls are built inside of us. That means we are sealing these negative feelings and experiences inside of us!

So, instead, I opened my heart. This is such a new age, vague concept, I know. Basically I allowed myself to truly feel my anxiety. I didn't try to justify why it would be okay if it happened. I didn't pretend like it wouldn't hurt my feelings. I also didn't resort to my "get him before he gets me" attitude that I seem to have adopted since my last painful breakup. I just felt it. And then I envisioned my heart as opening up and allowing the pain to move out of me and the light to move into me. Not just the pain of this thought because it wasn't really even painful, just uncomfortable. But, rather, the pain of the other experiences. It hurt to really think about them. My subconscious attempted to recoil but I worked through it. And I felt it move out of me. 

I'm cleaning my filter one painful memory at a time. Rejection is a big fear of mine so I've fought it pretty hard for a long time. Because of that, I've taught my psyche that this is my "job". I've given my mind the impossible job of attempting to avoid ever feeling rejection. And, in the process, I've built a wall around myself and numbed myself from so many amazing experiences. 

Slowly, as I clean my filter, it feels like I really am starting to feel things on a more heightened level. That unfortunately includes sadness and discomfort but, on the flip side, the world is looking more vibrant again. Happiness has a sharper, more beautiful edge to it. And I'm just getting started....


Friday, July 22, 2016

I'm Taking the Weekend Off

I'm giving myself the weekend off...from my "monkey mind."
I vow to walk through this weekend with awe and joy for every small thing.
I will not pick apart and criticize myself or those around me.
I will attempt to live this entire weekend beginning today until my head hits the pillow Sunday night, completely immersed in the beauty that is this existence...and then hopefully it will overflow into the rest of my life.
I hope that anyone who reads this will do the same. When we operate from a place of gratitude and joy, the world opens up to us, we just have to get out of our own way.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Recipe for Your Best Day Ever


Let every single moment count with no idle, thoughtless activities that don't contribute to your well being.

Go through your day looking at everything with the wonderment and glee of a child.

Love those around you like you won't wake up tomorrow.

Leave everything better than you found it. Not just for the good of the world but so that when you DO wake up tomorrow, life is a little easier, more organized than it was today.

Approach your workout like a warrior.

Resolve right here and now that when you lay down tonight you will be unable to resist smiling to yourself because you are certain that you are going to bed a slightly better person than when you woke up this morning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

You Are a Badass: Finding Inconsolable Sobbing Awe In Everyday Life


I've been doing a lot of self-work and soul searching lately. However, after a bunch of heavy, HEAVY audiobooks and some intense and frequent introspection in a very short amount of time, I decided yesterday it was time for something a little more lighthearted. 

I've wanted to listen to "You Are a Badass" for a while now. The reviews are mostly good but quite a few people complain that it's not based in science and it's too "new age" which I generally don't go for. However, I decided to give it a try yesterday because it seemed like it might be just a really good, long pep talk. And that's exactly what it is! So far my favorite quote is the following. It's not just my favorite quote so far, it's becoming a mantra. I shared it on Facebook with my friends and I find myself pulling up my page to read it over and over again. 

It never ceases to amaze me the precious time we spend chasing the squirrels around our brains, playing out our dramas, worrying about unwanted facial hair, seeking adoration, justifying our actions, complaining about slow Internet connections, dissecting the lives of idiots, when we are sitting in the middle of a full-blown miracle that is happening right here, right now. 
We're on a planet that somehow knows how to rotate on its axis and follow a defined path while it hurtles through space! Our hearts beat! We can see! We have love, laughter, language, living rooms, computers, compassion, cars, fire, fingernails, flowers, music, medicine, mountains, muffins! We live in a limitless universe, overflowing with miracles. The fact that we aren't stumbling around in an inconsolable state of sobbing awe is appalling ” ― Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass"

Wow.

Regardless of what you believe or don't believe, how can you not step back in absolute awe and think how amazing it is that we even exist?! That everything is synced up so perfectly that we are certain the sun will rise and set every day. How beautiful and magical life is when seen in this light. 

So that's what I've really made an effort to do for the last day. I have been walking through life in awe. Yesterday evening I sat on my back patio with my son and we just chatted. I try to always appreciate my time with him but this time was extra special. I was so unbelievably tuned in. As he talked about Minecraft (one of only about three topics he has in rotation in that sweet little head of his right now) I noticed the perfect little slope of his button nose, his china dolls lips, how amazingly cute he sounded when he kept using the word "unfortunately." I thought about how he grew inside of me. His body literally came from my body! Talk about magic!!

This is just one example of how my perception is shifting. And I don't want to lose it. 

I recently met a very unique person who has a weight loss story similar to my own. He reached a low point in his life and decided to change himself and used that desire for a better version of himself to transform his body completely in just one year. Yesterday he celebrated one year since the day he began. He began on Summer Solstice. He said it was meaningful to him because it symbolizes new beginnings. I kept thinking all day after he told me that that I should come up with some big change to implement on that day. I couldn't think of anything.

This morning I woke up and realized I did something very different yesterday! I walked through life with awe. I embraced pretty much every moment. This morning I did the same. I tasted my coffee like never before, I enjoyed my morning meditation in a totally different way. Yes, right now it's coming naturally to me but I know there will be days when I need to remind myself to look at life this way. So that is my resolution. I am going to post notes around my house and set reminders on my phone. 

One of the very best things about going through life this way is something I discovered yesterday and it's what made it instantly so addictive to me. When I am truly immersed in the moment and finding joy and amazement in simply being alive, I am incapable of dwelling on silly, meaningless things that have been bothering me. When I'm contemplating the synergy of nature as I watch a bee buzz around some flowers and grass, I can't seem to care whether or not that person who said that thing that kind of sounded not nice was trying to disrespect me. When I'm truly completely immersed in playing chutes and ladders with my funny, quirky son, and we are laughing about my absolutely horrible luck, the fact that I'm an almost 40 year old woman living in a youth obsessed culture doesn't register as anything more than some mathematical equation and observations of the society I live in. Being fully engaged in MY MY MY life, makes me incapable of caring about the opinions of people who are not relevant in my life or the silly details of what's going on in their life (yes, this is an ex reference...notice they are getting fewer and further between). 

I feel that resolving to remember to view life this way is yet another step toward being the vessel of peace and love that I long to be. And, in the meantime, it's simply making life happier!

Friday, June 3, 2016

I Am a Mediocre Trainer

I am a mediocre trainer....there I said it!

I would actually say I'm slightly better than the average trainer but that's about it. I keep my clients safe which is huge. I progress them gently and effectively and they gain strength and health. And I've never ever had a client get truly injued on my watch! I even know some of the most scientifically sound ways to work out for maximum calorie expendature and long-term improved metabolism. But, bottom line, I haven't been working out my entire life and I still have loads to learn as far as exercise science is concerned. Also, I'm not super passionate about it! I enjoy exercise and I recognize it's vast benefits, but it's not where my heart lies.

Why would I, as a trainer, admit this?

Well, first, because it's the truth. Second, because, the further I get through this life, the more important being true to my authentic self is to me.

I've been circling around this truth for a while and gently disuading a few potential clients who were coming to me with purely superficial goals (i.e. lose 5 pounds for the beach, get a bigger butt, etc.). However, this week, after much deliberation over many weeks, I took this gentle disuading to a whole new level.

I had an initial consultation with a new potential weight loss client. I flat out told him that I was not just interested in working him out and if that's all he was looking for that he could do better than me. I have a "no pressure approach" after all consultations where I send them away with my rate sheet and some bullet point advice in case if I never see them again...as of today, I haven't heard back from him.

Why did I tell him that? Again, because it's true.

I'm tired of selling myself to each and every person. I'm more than tired of it, I'm done with it. As nice as new business is for this small business single mom, what's way more important right now is me honoring my authentic self. And not just for personal growth reasons! By refusing to only offer the weakest of the tools I provide, I am doing the best thing for prospective clients who are only interested in the exercise portion of health improve.

But i do hope that, as they walk away in search of a different trainer, that they internalize what I have said and that is this:

The effects of exercise on improving health is a very small piece of the puzzle compared to nutrtion, mental health, hormonal balance and lifestyle habits (for example, sleep). If weight loss is the goal, behavior modification trumps everything else.

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

I'm through handing out fish. I truly am. It no longer comes down to if someone wants to work with me. It is quickly becoming whether I feel passionate about working with them.

When someone is open and receptive to the idea that they need to change every aspect of their life, I become absolutely passionate about their particular situation. If they have a disease, I research and become an expert on it. I brainstorm new and creative ways for them to change behaviors. I randomly message them excitedly with new ideas. These clients energize me. And, in turn, I change their lives. We jump up and down and hug over victories. We even sometimes cry together. They fill my heart up. Effortlessly, I gain lifetime clients and get lots of referrals from them.

On the flip side, when someone just wants to come in and work out, I find myself going on autopilot. I am still mindful of their safetly and progress but I don't feel the same high energy, passionate involvement as the aforementioned sessions. When they leave, I don't generally think of them until before their next session when it's time to design their workout. These people also seem to quickly lose interest in exercise no matter how fun and fresh I try to keep it and they never stay with me long term.

It's unfair to both of us. And it's why I'm done. I am no longer accepting applications for mediocre exercise training sessions. I am finally at a point where I have a schedule full of these passion-provoking clients and I choose to be very selective so that I can keep it that way. If I ever find myself dreading a session, I know that I've let someone with goals that do not align with my ideals slip through the cracks. As soon as I recognize this, I will be waiting for them at their next session with a refund and a referral to a more qualified trainer.




Monday, May 9, 2016

To the Women I Admire: The New Fitness Models

I managed to drag myself into the gym this weekend even though I've been struggling with some constant queasiness lately. I like weekend workouts because the gym is almost empty and I can just get inside my head and do my thing.

I noticed, as I'm sure everyone did, an extremely beautiful, young and seemingly perfect looking girl walk into the gym about halfway through my workout. Her shorts perfectly hugged her butt cheeks and ended just right under them. Not a lick of cellulite. How is that possible?! She began her workout that consisted mainly of strength. I've always envied these girls. The ones who appear to be naturally thin and can focus on putting on muscle mass to make their already flawless looking body into works of art for all to admire.

Some girls really can turn themselves into walking works of art. You can't help but stare at them.

We see them on Instagram. We occasionally see them in the gym. I've walked in on a few taking selfies with their shirts pulled up to show their perfectly chiseled abs. Their smooth, flawless skin. Their dimple free legs. Their butts that seem to defy the laws of gravity. They pull their hair up without much thought into these buns that somehow manage to turn out looking like a hairstylist worked for an hour to achieve the perfect "I didn't even try but, yet, here I am looking perfect" kind of look. We follow their pages in hopes that some of their perfect gloriousness will rub off on us. We cringe when we realize our boyfriends and husbands can see these girls too. 

I, on the other hand, wear capris when I work out because my cellulite covered thighs jiggle. I quickly pull my hair up in a bun when I'm in the midst of a gruelling workout, only to be mortified when I find a mirror and realize I look like a haggard, slightly melted Dr Suess character. My butt is trying it's best to defy gravity but, no matter how hard I try, it will never ever have that flawless, perfect round look. My abs are very strong and, when I pull back the layer of fat, I can see my own six pack chiseled beneath. 

But, then I ask myself, why do I care so much? 

I've been asking myself this for a long time actually and the answer is changing as time goes on. My desire to be perfect and to be admired has faded and given way to a desire for something more substantial and long lasting.

I want to take a moment to clarify, this is not a post bashing those women who are currently focused on appearance more than anything. You know what, I don't blame them! I've actually come to appreciate my physical imperfections because, if I looked like them I think I would be completely focused on the same things they are. It must be intoxicating to be that special looking! 

But this is the body life has given me and I am thankful. Attention is nice and, I won't lie, I've had my fair share since I lost weight. And I also won't lie when I say it feels good. However, the feeling quickly fades and you either need more of it or you realize that you need something more "real". 

There are so many areas in life this feeling can be found: family, spiritual growth, giving to others, etc. However, to stay on topic, I want to focus on fitness. 

I used to do a ton of butt exercises because I wanted my butt to be larger and more round. Once I accomplished that, I noticed that it kind of creased at the bottom so I wanted to get rid of that. I created some rather painful muscular imbalances in the process. I've always been self-conscious of my arms so I used to do a ton of bicep and tricep exercises to try to bulk up the muscles in an attempt to reduce the flab. I ended up developing some painful elbow issues....you get the idea.

Now my workouts are to be as strong and functional as I can be. I do exercises that would allow me to pick something heavy up off the floor and set it up on a shelf without hurting myself. To pull myself onto a high rock when I'm exploring new terrain in the mountains....to run from a bear (okay, that one may never work but I'd like to at least try).

All of this has led me to notice a new kind of woman in the gym. You would be hard pressed to find Instagram accounts for these women. You might not even notice them at the gym, especially if they're next to a dimple-less beauty in booty shorts. 

The red faced woman who has been 25 pounds overweight ever since you joined the gym a year again...but is still there three times a week anyway. The woman who wears the same basic black basketball shorts and oversized tshirt almost every workout and keeps her head down because she's shy. The 70 year old woman in Zumba who is having the time of her life, even though she can't do the jumps or fast turns. The other woman in Zumba who always stands in the back because she has zero rhythm and coordination.

EVERY. SINGLE. WOMAN who embraces fitness for fitness sake and nothing more. The women who don't have the promise of the energy that comes from admiring looks to fuel them through their workout. The women who know that they are going to work their butts off every day for yet another winter and know that they still won't feel like or look like a VS model in a bikini next summer. You are all my new fitness models!

I guess I fall somewhere between these two spectrums of women. I will never be the fitness model. However, I would be a complete liar if I said that the goal of someday feeling confident in a bikini wasn't somewhere in my mind. 

No matter where our fitness goals and motivations fall on this spectrum, we would all do well to remember this: fitness should always be a journey, not a destination. And, exercise for the sake of exercise and nothing else, is the safest path to take to ensure that not only do we stay safe and healthy but that we ALWAYS have motivation to work out. Even when no one is looking. We do it because it feels good and it gives us the power and energy we need to live our very best lives!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Organizing Your "Weigh" to Weight Loss

Once upon a time...I was a complete slob. I seriously was horrible. As a teenager, my friends would clean my room when we hung out because, even as inattentive teenagers, it was literally so out of control that even they noticed.


I remember always feeling like organization and structure or even "wasting" my time cleaning would box in my soul and kill my free spirit.


In my 20s, I did slightly better. My complete chaos turned into controlled chaos. But I still abhorred structure and suspected it to be the death of free thought.


Now, at almost 40, I suddenly realize that I feel very different! I can't pinpoint exactly when it came about but I've realized that I have, over time, done a complete 180! I have gone from refusing to plan or organize to refusing to walk away from any of my spaces without leaving it clear and perfectly organized...generally with a list sitting out in clear view of what I plan to do the next time I return to that space.


Here's the crazy thing. THIS HAS SET ME FREE!! I feel more stress free than I ever have before. I feel in control. I never intentionally did this to control my weight but I've also noticed that I can control my impulses much better when I feel in control of all controllable areas of my life (because, let's face it, there will always be things that even control freaks like me can't control).


This was all something I've realized on some subconscious level for a while now. I've even written past posts about "what I have control over" and how it has helped changed me. But it really hit me on a more aware level just yesterday as I listened to an audiobook called "Willpower". What is very interesting about willpower is that it's not really something we have much control over. We have a certain amount of it each day and it varies based on not only how much sleep we've had and how much we've used our willpower that day but also on our socialization as well as just our genetics!


It's almost kind of depressing to realize that we can't really improve our willpower that much. BUT what we can do is conserve and optimize it! One great way to conserve it is to control the world around you as much as possible. Anticipate variables and unexpected things. This can be accomplished by creating budgets, lots and lots of lists (otherwise it will be floating around in your head, taking up space, until it's settled...and you could STILL forget it when you need to remember it), hanging your keys in the same spot every single time, planning your food including bringing extra healthy snacks with you on particularly stressful days. Doing all of these things can help calm your brain as well as avoid a lot of stressful situations.


Oh! And oddly enough, practicing good posture has also been shown as one of the only ways to possibly improve willpower.


I am going to write more about this, time allowing, but I wanted to go ahead and share this while it's fresh on my mind in hopes that it may help someone.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CBT: Unscrewing My Brain



I am in counseling. Yup. I'm not even ashamed, in fact, I'm proud! Feel free to attach the stigma of your choice. I am no stranger to counseling actually. In fact, in case if you haven't figured it out by now, I am a self-help junkie. While others swoon over Tatum Channing (which, I also totally get!) and various other famous people, nothing quite does it for me like a self-help author with a calming voice gently telling me how to be a better, happier person. 
So this new counselor probably makes a solid half dozen that I've had in my life. One of the things I adore about her is that she is completely down with working in a synergistic way with me. She understands and even appreciates that she is going to have to enter into each session with me not knowing if I've spent the last week learning everything I can about something she mentioned in passing the previous week and had planned that day's session completely around. 
Last week was the perfect example of that. Two weeks ago she had outlined our "treatment plan" based on my diagnosis (ADHD, OCD and General Anxiety Disorder...no shame in my game, these are just the labels that describe my own assortment of thought patterns).
One of the treatments she intended to use was CBT. Well, I went to work learning everything I could about it. I watched tons of YouTube videos and listened to two audio books on the subject. I walked into our session last week explaining to her how I was using CBT to interrupt negative thought patterns and create new ones. She seemed pretty impressed so I wanted to share them with you guys as well.
I've provided a graphic above to give you a visual of how our thought patterns work. These patterns are created from a lifetime of, well, shit happening to us! For example, if we were betrayed at a vulnerable time in our lives, we may develop the schema (core belief) that people can't be trusted.
Therefore, when we are in a situation where we feel vulnerable (emotionally or physically), we have that thought of distrust come up.
This will create feelings of fear or anxiety. Maybe even anger.
This will create a behavior of self-protection. It could be pushing the person away or suffocating them with love in an attempt to hold onto them.
CBT is interrupting this loop somewhere along the cycle. Anywhere.
I am going to use a very personal example to demonstrate this. And it taps into one of my biggest fears to share this: My fear of unworthiness and rejection. But that's exactly why I've decided to share it. To, first, challenge that fear in order to change it. And, secondly, to show others who have this same fear that you're not alone, it is actually extremely normal and can be corrected.
Okay, so my fear of rejection almost definitely stems from a childhood of being socially rejected and bullied. Fast-forward to my dating years where I've been cheated on more times than I can count (although I now recognize that it was this original belief that I would be rejected that caused me to date men who would confirm this belief...more on that later). Whether cause or effect, my many experiences in life have caused me to believe that I will be found unworthy and rejected by others once they get to know me.
So, that is the "belief" part of the cycle. The next part is "feelings". When this belief is triggered for any reason, it creates feelings of anxiety, fear, dread and sometimes anger. From an evolutionary standpoint this makes total sense. In modern times, someone rejects you and it's not a big deal compared to, in more primitive times, when it would've threatened one's survival. Before the constructs of modern society, social rejection or rejection from a mate could very well mean your death because you would be isolated and more vulnerable to dangers like predators or starvation.
Then we have "behaviors". This is how I react to and/or deal with the feelings that come up. For me this can span the spectrum of clinging to a mate extra hard all the way to snooping into his email to see if I can prove my schema (that I will be betrayed).
I've learned from my counselor that we love to be right. Even when being right can be unbelievably painful and life altering. It's just who we are as human beings. So, if I believe that I am unlovable and will be rejected, I will pick mates that can deliver this. I will seek out life experiences that will confirm the beliefs that I fear the most. That I am unlovable.
A perfect example is my current situation. I am almost six weeks post-breakup. During the first couple weeks, I just couldn't help myself. I would stalk him on social media and just look for confirmations that he had moved on...with someone better than me of course. I would seek this information out even though dread would eat me alive as soon as I even considered doing it. Why? Why would I deliberately seek out pain? Because our brains love to be right and I was convinced that I was easily replaceable. So I would stalk and stalk until I found something, no matter how small, to confirm that I sucked.
Here's how that applies to the CBT cycle:
My belief is that I'm unworthy and will be rejected.
My feelings that arise from this are anxiety, dread, fear and sadness. Sometimes anger.
My behavior is to seek out confirmation of my belief.
I view anything I find through this lens of unworthiness. Therefore, the results of my behavior very often reinforce my beliefs that I am unlovable. Not good enough. Rejection from everyone in my life is inevitable.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Well, that was my old cycle. So, in CBT, the goal is to interrupt the loop anywhere in the cycle. When I catch myself in this loop, I literally envision myself poking it with two fingers somewhere along the cycle. Anywhere. Here's how I deal with this particular loop (because I have many, we all do, but I'm going to stick with this example).
Anything can cause my feelings of believing I am unlovable to pop up. Sometimes even just having unrelated negative feelings will attract to it other negative feelings. So it's no surprise that during a painful breakup where I often get sad and miss him that I would become more vulnerable to any negative beliefs entering my head, especially one as closely related as being unlovable. When I recognize these beliefs popping up, I challenge them. I think of every bit of proof in my life that this is not the case. I think about how some of my exes have told me how special I am. I think about how my most recent ex seemed to love me with his whole heart and seemed to appreciate the unique things that made me...me! I think about how my family and my clients love and accept me even when I make mistakes or gain a few pounds. I think about what's right about my body instead of what's wrong. It's not an exact list of things I have to do or think about. All I have to do is shift my attention from these previously negative and limiting beliefs to something better.
When I recognize my feelings popping up, usually anxiety, I focus on the physical sensation of the feeling. For anxiety, which I tend to feel in my belly, I breath deeply and deliberately and envision a pink and loving light moving into my stomach. It is calming. Again, this isn't some specific, scientifically proven method of calming feelings. This is merely poking a hole somewhere in the loop. Disrupting an old pattern. Breaking a cycle. You get the idea.
When I feel the impulse to do a certain behavior, like Facebook stalk my ex for example, I think about how I'll feel after I do. I try to think of something I could do to turn the focus back to myself instead of him. This is something I've gotten really good at over the years during breakups. I observed that I felt much more energetic when I shifted my focus off of him and back onto myself and my own growth. I just never knew it was called CBT. Furthermore, I've written a contract to myself swearing that I won't do it. Yes, sure I could break the contract but having it is just enough to interrupt the process and turn an almost compulsive reflex into something I have to deliberately make the decision to do...which I don't anymore!
I am not going to say that I have 100% broken this cycle, but it's pretty darn disturbed and not on autopilot anymore.
There's an audio book that's less than an hour long on Audible called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It. He talks about how he changed his entire life by just repeating the mantra "I love myself. I love myself. I love myself." I've applied this to my own life.
When all else fails and I'm stuck in a cognitive loop and feeling too distraught or apathetic to do anything proactive, I begin repeating this mantra over and over again in my head. And it's working!
But this mantra is just the tip of the iceberg of self-love for me. Because I've learned that THE BEST way to break any negative pattern is true self-love. We tend to not beat up on people we love. Mantras are a good start but investing time and energy into my well-being is a direct message to my soul that I am worthy of being nurtured and loved. And I am. We all are.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Changes to My Body AND My Belief About My Body

I really hate to be "that girl" but I am just so proud of myself. About two months ago I was starting to feel really thick and just not healthy. In the past 60 days, I've lost 16 pounds and 3 1/2 inches off my waist. And this time I can honestly say I've done it in an unbelievably healthy way!! And the other night at the gym I did 46 standard pushups! (3 sets: 16, 15, 15)

Id also like to add that im not the lightest I've ever been. And part of that is definitely muscle mass but part of that is that I am just naturally a thicker chick and Im never going to starve myself again to fit some kind of image of beauty. I am almost ALMOST to a place where I am comfortable in my own skin. I've come so far from the obese, exhausted 20 year old and now, less than two years away from the big 4-0, I can honestly say that I feel in the very best shape of my life. And not just physically but mentally and spiritually. Which, for anyone who knows me well enough, knows it has been hard earned.

Side note: I've also stopped tanning. I have tanned for years out of insecurity and vanity. No more! This girl is going pale. I am who I am. Sexy, cellulite, pretty, belly, morning breath, inviting smile, wild chin hair....my perfectly, imperfect self and I'm through apologizing in either direction.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Chopra Center Meditation E-Book

I just wanted to share this free e-book that I've been reading through. Inspirational nuggets of wisdom to apply to your growth....


Chopra Center Meditation E-Book

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Living With Awareness


I have always been the queen of distraction. I recently went to a silent meditation weekend retreat. I learned so many things about myself and others but this is perhaps the biggest lesson I learned: mindfulness. It's something we talk about but seldom actually do. Since going, I've become a little obsessed with the idea of trying to be fully present in each moment of my life. I've even finally broken out an audio book that I bought forever ago but just didn't feel the motivation to listen to. I actually highly recommend not just this book but their whole series. They're called "The Great Courses" and they feature top experts in their respective fields giving approximately 30 minute lectures. Most of these collections are very long. The one I'm listening to now, "The Science of Mindfulness" is almost 14 hours long so I'm guessing there's about 28 bite size lectures in all.

This book, along with journaling and overall self-awareness is helping me learn how to consistently pull myself back to the present. One thing (of many things) this helps with is anxiety, which is something I've always really struggled with. The great thing about being mindful and being present in the moment is that very few anxiety inducing things happen right in front of your face. Most happened in the past or you fear them happening in the future. Most moments are beautiful and peaceful when you remove your projected ideas of meaning (past or future) from them.

A perfect example of this happened just last night. Yesterday morning I woke up to my son (once again) in my bed. He felt very warm to the touch and was tossing and turning so I was unsure whether he was feverish or overheated. He woke up and said he was hot and his head hurt. My head hurt too. My allergies have been flaring up. So I gave him a homeopathic medicine we have for sinus issues and told him to go lay down in his bed. I decided to let him sleep until he woke up naturally again. I contacted all my clients and told them I was pretty sure he was sick and I was going to have to cancel. I arranged someone to watch him long enough for me to go grab some work and come back. I was in full-on mommy in crisis mode and I was rocking it. Then he woke up and he felt completely cool to the touch! He acted slightly lethargic but begged and pleaded to go to school because they were going on a field trip. I eventually gave in and took him to school late.

I was able to recover a couple of my canceled clients and, while I was training the first one, I received a snide voicemail from my son's teacher in which she said "he needs to come home now, the Tylenol is wearing off and his fever is going back up." I felt rage boil up inside of me. She was very obviously implying that I dosed my son with Tylenol to lower a fever so I could take him to school. I called back and defended myself and she, in her syrupy sweet voice, said "Welllll, I'm just going by what he tolllld me. He told me you gave him medicine." ....He actually told her I gave him "two marshmallows", which is what we call the homeopathic medicine for allergies. But that's neither here nor there. The fact that she was not so subtly accusing me of deception and neglect, not just of my child but of all the children there, was loud and clear.

It took me a while to get past that one but I was soon distracted with a very sick child. That's when I actually did dose him to get his fever down after it crept up from 99.7 to 103.4 within less than an hour. Finally it was under control and he was comfortable. That's when thoughts of the teacher's accusations snuck back into my head. I felt my blood start to boil again. I looked over at my son in my bed, watching tv peacefully.

I surrendered. 

I let go of my fear that he would get worse in the night. I let go of the anger toward this woman who, in the grand scheme of things, is an insignificant blip on the radar that is our lives and I even let go of the fact that I had probably already caught whatever this was that he had (yes, I'm a mom with a dose of selfishness). Instead, I wrapped my arms around my slightly warm little boy, buried my nose in his hair and truly experienced that precious moment with my most precious child. The room suddenly felt still and quiet. Weird? It had been so loud just a moment before. All that turmoil and chaos and noise had been right between my ears. In that moment there was nothing anxiety inducing. Only peace.

I have never been as in touch with my feelings as I am right now. Which is especially hard because I'm going through yet another break-up with what was the 3 1/2 year, sometimes bumpy, but almost always beautiful, on-again-off-again relationship with the love of my life and it would be SO easy to just put my head in the sand and think about and do other things. I could do what I've been great at doing in the past, running headfirst into my next relationship. But I'm not. Instead, I am sitting smack dab in the middle of the pain. And, amazingly, it's healing me. And it's healing me in the most beautiful way because it's a deliberate, heartfelt process instead of just the fading of memories which never truly works because the intellectual brain may forget but the body and the soul does not. Likewise, the times of joy are much sweeter when you live in mindfulness as well.

I recently re-listened to a Brene Brown TedTalk. The thing she says that echos through my head when I'm tempted to run is this: "you can not selectively dull emotions. If you dull one, you dull them all."

That's really profound if you think about it. And, on some level, we all already know it's true. The more I allow myself to collapse on my bed in gut wrenching sobs in those sad, dark moments, the more I find myself belly laughing with the people I love or feeling giddy feelings of awe at sunrises. It's all connected. There can be no light without darkness. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Social Media Detox and Subsequent Evolution



I recently had things happen in my life that helped me decide to take a break from social media. It hasn't been a 100% hardcore detox but, other than a sneak peak here or a blog link posted on Twitter, I've been pretty darn serious about it. In fact, I even deleted all my social media apps off my phone. 

And, I have to tell you, it feels damn good! Now, the first couple days, it did not! It felt weird. I would pull up my phone and scroll through, quickly realizing I had nothing to distract myself with. I'd maybe check the weather and make a list on my notepad but that was about it! Now, just a few days later, I've come to embrace it so much that I've taken it a few steps further and stayed almost completely off the internet other than work related things and concrete research here and there. 

As a result, I find myself not looking at my phone for hours at a time! I actually keep losing my phone. 

Anyone who knows me, knows this has become out of character for me over the last few years. I've even had a few people text me and then text me an hour later and ask "Are you okay? Are you getting my texts?" Realizing that my loved ones are concerned that I may, in fact, be injured or dead by my lack of prompt response has made me acutely aware of what a phone zombie I had become. And I never used to be.....and I never will again. 

How did I get that way? Where I had to constantly feel connected. I didn't realize how much time I wasted doing it either. I didn't realize how tuned out I was to what was going on around because of this self-imposed obligation to promptly respond to everyone whether it be via text or social media. I've went ahead and told my friends and family, "If you don't hear from me for a few days, I promise I'm alive, you'll understand and appreciate this new development when you see me face-to-face again and receive my undivided attention."

I am officially no longer a member of the "tuned out" society and now I want to encourage everyone around me to tune in to your beautiful, rich lives right in front of you. I can't believe the peace and happiness and clarity that life offers when you truly tune in to the moment. And it goes so far past just not starting at a screen. It's also not dwelling on events that already happened or may happen in the future. It's not dwelling on people that aren't present. It's allowing yourself to be fully engaged and present in the moment. 

And the ripple effect of this is amazing. I recently had a very deep and enlightening conversation with my father that prompted him, at 71 years old, to try to fundamentally change something about himself that will enhance his own life. I would've never had this conversation prior to my social media detox because it was late one evening and I was getting sleepy and I would've been scrolling through my phone having a light-hearted, half engaged conversation with him because that's what I tend to do when I get tired, I space out on my phone. My son is suddenly better behaved and connecting more fully with me. I am getting TONS more done with my life. 

I am almost ashamed to admit that these things are just now happening and were ever hindered by my phone zombification but if no one admits it, then no one learns, and I'm all about always learning and growing!

Today's topic at my UU church was about love. He spoke of how the opposite of love is not hate....it's indifference. Let that sink in. Really sink in. I know it did for me. And the opposite to action is also....indifference. Apathy. It's where we sometimes go when our emotions get too hard to deal with...into apathy. We space out. And it detracts from our humanity. 

A couple years ago, someone special in my life introduced me to Pema Chodran, who's writings I've been devouring again lately. She talks about the importance of sitting with your feelings and truly drinking in the full spectrum of them. THIS will add to our humanity. This is adding to MY humanity. I am feeling more pain but, as a result, I am also feeling more joy, wonder and love. I am feeling at peace within myself and that is an amazing step for me. It's something that I don't think I've ever felt. I've always ran. When I sit back and think about it, I've ran through every type of distraction in my life. All seemingly different, but all serving the same purpose. Daydreaming, various screens (tv, computer, phone), food, alcohol, men, cleaning, organizing, SLEEPING....whatever! Just don't feel the pain! Don't sit with the uncomfortable feelings at any cost.

No more. I am learning to sit with all the uncomfortable feelings more and more as time goes in. And the more I don't run, the more humanity I feel. The more love I feel. The less hate I feel and, here's the most amazing part...the more I am okay with just sitting with myself and not needing anyone or anything to "feel okay".

Next weekend I am taking it one big old giant step further. I am going to a silent meditation and yoga retreat. This is a really huge deal for me, someone who is always trying to run from the noise in my head. 

I'm done running. And the more I stop and listen to the noise...it's not noise at all. It's me. It's my emotions. It's my humanity, my soul. And I'm FINALLY ready to listen. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Non-Scale Victories



Having recently dropped almost 20 pounds and closely circling around a weight/size where I once again feel light on my feet and attractive, I'm more inspired than ever to be doing all of this for the right reason. Last time around I didn't truly embrace that. Seeing that number tick down each week (sometimes day) gave me a high and sense of satisfaction that just can't be replicated by stepping on the scale once a week or once a month to confirm that I've just maintained. So this time I'm super focused on non-scale victories and just my overall quality of life. And this is making life that much sweeter! So here are a few...
Okay, these first two are somewhat superficial but non-scale nonetheless and something I'm excited to develop upon. 

First, I had almost forgotten since writing this post about loose skin that diet really REALLY matters in skin elasticity. Especially at my age and after being obese for so long and pregnant at 30. After almost two months of eating an almost perfect diet rich in vegetables and fruits, I am astounded at how firm my skin is compared to when I was this weight a couple years ago. Just like I talked about in my post, I won't claim that it's the perfect, taut skin of an 18 year old who's never been overweight but neither does my belly crinkle around my bellybutton or my cleavage have a little loose fold of skin when I bend certain ways. Everything looks mildly....firm!!

Second, I CAN SEE MY ABS AGAIN!!! Yes, I know, I warned you it was still superficial BUT seeing the definition of my abs is my tangible proof to myself that I have a strong, solid core that is FUNCTIONAL!! This goes far beyond looks and will serve me well for all my life.

Okay, on to not at all superficial stuff. I had gotten strong enough at 185 pounds to bang out three sets of eight to ten standard push ups when I was nice and fresh. The other night at the gym I was killing it. I mean I was really in the zone and had already done a couple of chest exercises with really heavy weight. I was in the middle of a back/chest super set and, without thinking, dropped to the floor to do push-ups immediately after some really heavy lat pull downs. For just a split second, once I was down there, I became suddenly aware that I was in public and possibly about to make a fool out of myself by collapsing to the ground, unable to do a single standard push-ups. My body felt shaky. I was already committed so I went for it. BAM!! THIRTEEN standard push-ups!! Toward the end I was miserable but at the beginning I was astounded at how light I felt and how easy it was!!! I hadn't realized until that moment that I was moving 20 less pounds of weight in each push-up and boy could I feel the difference!! My next two sets, I did 12 standards with not to much struggle. I felt so strong and liberated. I felt like I was "back". 

My other non-scale victories are just each time I effortlessly say "no" to poor food choices. My desire to drink alcohol is gone (for the moment anyway). I haven't had any processed sugar, almost no dairy and no wheat. These are things I no longer have to white knuckle my way through resisting. I just want to FEEL GOOD, and I do!!!

My mental clarity is also amazing. Despite going through some trying times in my life recently, I feel inspired and determined. I have no doubt that I can attribute this to healthy food choices that keep my brain operating optimally.

I've also become so emotionally invested in my clients' non-scale victories:

*My 74-year-old male client that, the first time I trained him, discovered that he literally could not sit up once he was laying on the weight bench. I had to help him up for the first few weeks. The first time he sat up on his own, I LITERALLY jumped up and down. THAT is a victory that will carry him through life with much more ease.

*My 48 year old female client who once told me "I don't have a lick of upper body strength" who just graduated to 12 lb dumbbells on her single arm rows (up from the 5 pounds she started with).

*My male client who once said "I am just not a vegetable person, who now turns most of his meals into salads.

*And possibly my favorite, my client who begrudgingly came to me at his wife's urging and sat there about a year ago telling me how he didn't want to change a thing. I just saw on myfitnesspal where he had logged in for the 277th straight day! He has lost 30 pounds and maintained it. He reads labels and now eats chicken and veggies instead of the infamous 4 inch thick pizza down the road from his workplace that he used to tell me about eating once a week.

THESE are real victories when the scale isn't giving me a high. I am in this for life and I am going to drag every person I can get my hands on with me!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Control Freaking Out


Okay, I will freely admit it. I am a complete control freak. I hate it! But if other people could just be as smart and forward thinking as I am, I wouldn't have to spend all of my time trying to help everyone get it right!

Oddly enough, I never had anyone actually accuse me of being a control freak (that I can recall), until I started dating again after my marriage. Then all of the sudden, the term seemed to start coming from everywhere. 

I look back to my life before that and, briefly wonder, "did I only recently become a control freak? Did something traumatic happen to me that caused me to need to become one"...then I think back to who I was the rest of my life, all the way back to my childhood, and...yup, nope, always a control freak! I guess that when you're younger, your peers, boyfriends, etc. aren't evolved enough to identify these types of characteristics in you. Your parents are probably just hoping you'll grow out of it and convincing themselves that "well, at least she won't be a follower" to feel better about this festering social wart on their daughter's personality. 

So, yeah, I can see why my parent's may not have minded it. And I think my ex-husband liked it. Wait, I know he did! I remember him telling me early on, "I don't want to deal with the bills and the checkbook and all that. Just give me a little money to spend each week and you can have total control of everything else." And he handed his paycheck over to me each week and....OH MY GOD! I really HAVE always been a control freak. Looking back I realize that I was in my glory when he told me that. I forgot until this second how I felt like that showed we were meant to be: that I liked to be in control of everything...and he liked me to be as well.

Men since then haven't appreciated it very much. And I understand why. But I really do feel like I usually know the best way to do something. I'm a plotter and a fixer, and I'm pretty damn good at it. And when Gino's not annoyed with me, he'll usually admit it too. When he is annoyed with my controlling nature it's hard for me to see in that moment why he is upset, because I feel unappreciated. But when I'm not in that low-energy place, I recognize that he is a man and needs to know that I trust his decision making abilities. Fine line. Sometimes we both do great, sometimes not so much. And, while my need to control really helped grease the wheels of my often squeaky marriage, I recognize the importance of having a man now that won't always let me control everything. There is unbelievable comfort in him sometimes wrapping his arms around me and saying "I've got this" and, as scary as it sometimes feels, just letting go of control for a moment and leaning into him.

A few years ago, Brene Brown's book, "The Gifts of Imperfection" really fundamentally changed my perception of myself. She talks about how we label those self-perceived negative parts of ourselves and try to isolate them from the good parts. But the take away is that we can't have the truly good without the bad. We can't fully be our glorious, authentic selves if we are ashamed of big hunks of who we are. 

I wrote in a lot of detail in a blog post from a couple years ago, It's All the Shame, about how I really came to terms with a lot of the shame I used to feel about myself. I've worked through a lot of it but I still have pieces to work through and today I feel I did that again.

Yesterday I received some extremely stressful and upsetting information that will remain unresolved for some time and will require a lot of effort on my part to resolve. I spent the first part of the weekend extremely distracted and just really stressed out. This morning I started literally pacing the floor like a caged animal. It was threatening to become a full on panic attack. I could feel my chest tightening and the irrational anxiety growing. 

What could I do? I felt completely out of control. I looked around the house, yesterday I had decided to take it easy and barely cleaned anything. Now, Sunday morning....dirty dishes, legos in the living room, laundry piling up, it felt like chaos swirling everywhere. I felt an urge to run as fast as I could, away from life.

So I did the only thing I could do. The thing that has gradually replaced binging on garbage food over the years and has become my therapy....Like a woman possessed, I cleaned. And cleaned. And organized. And recycled. And folded and straightened and prepared and....ahhhhh. Peace. It was everywhere. I organized a list of phone numbers to start calling in the morning that will hopefully be a first step toward resolving my stressful situation. My mind finally grew a little quiet. 

It was my control freak. She had been losing it. I was running around trying to ignore her because she's obsessing about how to fix something today that there was NO way to fix today. I'm supposed to be all Zen and "everything will unfold the way it should." She's not allowing me to be Buddha-like. She's stressing me out. She's bad. 

But she's not. 

As I sit here tonight almost completely at peace, I can't help but realize that she doesn't need to control everything. She understands that there's this emotionally and, potentially financially, draining situation looming over our heads and she can't control it. But she needed to be dealt with so that she can try! If chaos is swirling around her, how is she supposed to draw deep from that power that she possesses? To find that determination where she sinks in her heels and doesn't stop until she finds a way. 

So I let her control what she could. She made everything beautiful and an amazingly tasty, healthy dinner. In fact, she made me feed my body healthy food all day because she needed to know that at least she COULD control that! 

I've fully integrated my inner control freak and am officially claiming it as an asset. I am a control freak. When I feel out of control I look around and figure out what I CAN control and I do it. That's not me feeding this negative control freak side of myself. It's me recognizing who I am, way past the socially stigmatized labels, and seeing that this is a need within me that needs to be met in order for me to be my best version of myself. And I meet it. I feed that part of myself that I once labeled bad and forced to live in a dark place, and it makes me grow.

Furthermore, my control freak makes me a great trainer. And it's perfectly balanced with my other (no longer) "negative" trait of being overly sensitive to possibly hurting someone's feelings. So, while I try to have my hand in every aspect of a client's life that they'll allow me to slink into (something SO important for real, sustainable change), I'm not a bulldog about it. I gently and subtly, yet consistently, coax them toward change.

It's not everyone's cup of tea. Some people WANT a bulldog. Some people just want me to work them out and shut my trap. But, as for that little slice that is MY demographic, I am their trainer for life. And I love them for appreciating me so it makes me work extra hard for them and put my heart and soul into it.

My perfect combination of ALL my traits makes me exactly who I am and I am just truly starting to embrace that with no apologies....or very few anyway.

And, in my relationship with Gino, after too long of almost pushing him and "us" away at times, I've also come to fully embrace both our "dark" sides. It's very much the ugly duckling syndrome. While we may completely butt heads on occasion (let's face it, we are both strong-minded Italians, it's going to happen sometimes), we also have so many aspects of ourselves that never quite worked or were even rejected outright by previous partners. But, with each other, it all somehow falls perfectly into place and creates love and friendship like I've never known. I don't just love my "dark" traits, I love his as well. I embrace them as part of who he is and wouldn't have it any other way. 



We are all perfectly beautiful in our own way. We just need to embrace, and be embraced for, our entire selves. Not just the squeaky clean, socially acceptable, admirable things. All it of. Shame is not a useful emotion.

One of my favorite quotes by the late, great Debbie Ford is:


"Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you're not. You will no longer have to prove you're good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to live in fear. Find the gifts of your shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you have always desired.” 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Me Pre-Whole30 vs. Me Post-Whole30

I almost worry that my last post glorified life NOT on Whole30 a little too much! I hate that this could be the message for some people because this is so life changing and it would be a shame for someone to dismiss it based on me saying something like "Whole30 threatened to hurt my relationship with food in new ways." I assure you, this is not a notable risk for most people. Furthermore, I would take the type of dysfunction I may have developed by doing never-ending rounds of whole30 ANY DAY OF THE WEEK over the dysfunctions I had before doing it!

That's why I want to take a few minutes to compare just how different I feel now to before doing it.

First and foremost (although not  most importantly), I lost 12 pounds in 25 days! And I didn't have a lot of weight to lose! I would imagine an obese individual could possibly see even bigger results. However, again, not the most important element. And I don't feel like everything I lost was fat. I think I was carrying around some sludgy toxic fluid that I dropped very early on. I would guess most of us are carrying that around if we're not eating right.

Another huge change is my attitude about certain foods that I considered truly healthy. Such as peanut butter and dairy. These are now moved to the "treat" category and only in their purest forms available....although I will keep lots of ghee and a little grass-fed butter in my "healthy" category.

I used to think beans were extremely healthy. Maybe they are for some people but I learned very quickly that they were causing me a lot of problems. They are GONE forever out of my diet! I didn't even like them that much anyway so no big loss.

The biggest lesson of all is JUST HOW MUCH food affects my energy level. It's something I truly did already know but, after almost a month of basically no afternoon slumps or feeling like I was going to fall asleep on my feet when I was counting a client's set of 12 repetitions for the 100th time that day, I have become acutely aware of it. I feel so completely energized and inspired with each of my clients again. My evenings with my son are much more full of play and movement than before. And I don't have to push myself to do them. My energy feels limitless!

I LOVE giant plates of veggies. I've been a fan for a long time but somehow my veggie portions slowly shrank over the past couple of years. No more! For each and every meal, including breakfast, I love nothing more than big heaping piles of veggies. Not only do I know they are nourishing my inside, making my skin glow and keeping me regular, THEY FILL ME UP!! And they satisfy me because I have to chew, chew, chew them and chewing helps create satiety.


Before the Whole30 I would constantly say "I've never gone a single day in my life without cheating." And that was completely literal! I had never once managed to eat perfectly for an entire day. Even though I could focus on the 5 1/2 days I did not complete on this program, I won't. I, instead, can't help but fixate on the fact that I went almost an entire month sticking to a plan!!! As someone who literally has never stuck to anything religiously for a single day (LITERALLY), this is huge and redefines how I view myself! I am NOT a quitter! I AM dedicated!

Another huge lesson is this: Before the Whole30, I kidded myself into believing that I was setting a good example for my son by eating the way I did. I thought because he saw me eating more veggies and salad than the average parent that I was doing great. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why he was getting more and more picky about healthy food. Since cutting out ALL the treats I was eating in front of him (which was more than I realized), he is so much more open to eating new, healthy things. The other night I gave him a plate with a chicken thigh covered in herbs, roasted SKIN ON red potatoes covered in dill, roasted garlic broccoli and raw carrots and held my breath as he inspected it...he actually said "yay! Potatoes!" And he ate every last thing and then enjoyed a date roll with me (made out of medjool dates and almonds) for dessert. Now, he has since decided that he prefers white meat to chicken thigh BUT it wasn't something he looked at and turned his nose up. It's something he decided after eating it about 4 times and disliking the consistency of the fat in his mouth. Easy fix and I'm totally okay with it because, to me, it's him tuning in to his natural palette and his body telling him what he needs or doesn't need.

I went into this plan kind of haphazardly combing different things I had learned together and kinda sorta making it work. In many ways, that hasn't changed. I've gathered so much diverse information and applied it to this new life and body I've made for myself over the years. However, I would almost apply the label "Paleo" to myself at this point. I will never follow the hard, fast rules of Paleo but this program has made me understand just why it's becoming such a big deal! So you can call me "kinda-sorta Paleo with an occasional side of pizza and beer" from here on out...

Real Life: Day 1??

My first "cheat breakfast".....100% Whole30 compliant!

A LOT has happened since my last post. Thursday afternoon I decided for sure that I was going to start a new Whole30. I talked a little in my last post about why I was doing this. More than anything, I was scared. I was scared to release myself back into the big wide world of CHOICES. While I don't know if fear is necessarily a healthy place to operate from, I still feel like this decision was coming from a healthy place or, rather, a desire to be healthy.

However, my next decision, I'm not sure if it was entirely unhealthy or some old thought pattern that had to be broken. I decided I was going to go off the Whole30 plan completely (on day 25) from Thursday evening until Monday morning when I would start my new Whole30. 

Now, at no point did I intend to completely throw down but I definitely thought I'd have some "food fun" over the weekend. 

So Thursday afternoon, I'm ready to cut loose. I go ahead and eat my Whole30 compliant lunch because I was at work and it was packed. I run home before going to get my son to drop a few things off and walk into the kitchen to grab a snack. I look around the kitchen, realizing I can eat whatever I want! The Beanito chips that have been calling my name for almost 30 days, cheese, one of Gino's Pumpkin Pie protein bars that I really love....I settle on an Apple Pie flavored Larabar (also Whole30 compliant). I just literally couldn't find anything worth not feeling good after I ate it!

That evening I finally have my first "cheat". On the way to Zumba I drink 1/4 of a preworkout drink. I probably missed pre-workouts more than anything. I usually use one that's sweetened with stevia and doesn't have any artificial chemicals in it. However, I couldn't find mine so I just grabbed a tiny serving of one of Gino's.

After Zumba came my happy moment. I would finally get to order one of my gym's AMAZING peanut butter chocolate protein shakes! This has for a long time now been the highlight of my workout. I honestly should've stopped at my first sip. I had Gino taste it to confirm that it didn't taste any different than usual. It was NOT GOOD! I manged to get about half of it down on the drive home because I was starving but couldn't stomach any more. This morning after our workout, I easily, without a second thought, told Gino "no" when he went to order a shake and asked if I wanted one. No more shakes for me....or should I call them, icy cold chemical drinks. Ugh.

The next day was going to be crazy busy so I decided not to eat any Whole30 non-compliant meals because I wanted to be "on" for all my clients. In fact, until last night, my one and only "cheat" all day was a Kevita which is ridiculously healthy and I just couldn't have on the Whole30 because it has stevia listed as the 2nd to last ingredient. It required zero willpower because I just wanted to feel good all day!

Then last night (the infamous Free Friday) arrived. After an entire day of not cheating at all I was ready to do some good ole cheatin! And I did. We went to a local pub and ordered hot wings and fries. I had three hot wings and a half a basket of fries....and a water. That food was soooooo good and I enjoyed every last bite. We ordered a second basket of fries and took almost all of it home. I have had no interest in eating them since. 

Then I finally decided that I would break the seal and have alcohol. I had about 2 shots of rum and I was DONE! It was a pleasant buzz. Ordinarily this would be the portion of the evening where I would want an even better buzz but it, again, required ZERO willpower because I wanted to feel good when I woke up this morning.

Well, jokes on me. I felt like shit! 

I woke up with a horrible headache and my stomach feeling a little funky. Ordinarily I would BS my way through a workout and then somehow justify a greasy "hangover breakfast". However, this time, especially since I didn't feel SO horrible, having stopped at two shots and not gone as overboard as in the past on junk food, I was able to push through and get a pretty decent workout. 

After my workout, I hit a couple health food stores and stocked up on some great meat and such then I called in an order to one of my favorite local fairly healthy places. They make the best pulled pork, grilled cheese, siracha sandwich with avocado....I didn't get that. I ordered a veggie plate. Miso broccoli, maple brussels sprouts and tomato basil soup. My new form of cheating was just being able to ask, "is it real maple syrup and real tomatoes?" (because I suddenly cared about the answer) and then just eat it...no further questions required. And I decided, instead of a side of their amazing pulled pork, I'll be eating my veggies with a free-range chicken thigh I'm reheating as I type. 

I had decided on Thursday that I would take my son out for frozen yogurt this weekend because this is something we've both really loved doing for a while now. Instead I've decided that we are going to make some paleo cookies together using local honey I received in my CSA box this week. 

All of this has come together in a decision that I feel so at peace with. I will NOT be starting another Whole30 on Monday. Doing this program helped me SO SO much and I have no doubt that I will do it again in the future. It forced me to really get back in touch with my emotions surrounding food and find more constructive ways to deal with them. It helped me learn just how good I can feel when I nourish my body properly....instead of getting pretty darn healthy....with a side of chips at most meals. It truly reset my body and my mind.

However, while it helped me fix so many aspects of my relationship with food, it threatened to create new problems if I kept living in my Whole30 bubble. I want to be able to cook and eat paleo cookies with my son. I want to be able to order veggies and not think that it's so horrible that they are prepared in organic, fermented soy (miso) soup. And, on the flip side, I don't want to convince myself I'm somehow being healthy by putting away a couple servings of plantain chips before dinner. 

At this moment in my life, I feel so in control and at peace with my relationship with food. I WANT to eat REAL food! Not because a program is telling me to but because it feel SO AMAZINGLY GOOD! It tastes better than the fake stuff almost always and even when the tastes that were created in a lab for the sole purpose of getting me addicted just happen to fool my taste buds, they can no longer fool my mind! 

OH! And I lost 12 pounds!

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