Thoughts Matter

I have been on a roller coaster of emotions this past month. Or maybe I feel more like one of the tennis balls being batted back and forth at Wimbledon right now. One day, I’m doing so great! The next, I’ve fallen back into a hole. Up – down – up – down – back and forth. It’s like I’m in a vicious cycle, and I don’t know how to get out.

I’ve been turning to some of my fabulous mentors and supporters for help. Conversations with my mom are always uplifting – even if they are also tear-filled. Then I saw my chiropractor last week. She worked her energy magic, and I left feeling like I’d purged some more old stuff so that I could keep moving forward in a positive direction.

And then I fell back down in the hole. Ugh. Here I am again.

Today, I had a great session with my acupuncturist. She lives on the west coast, thousands of miles from me, so we just do a Skype session these days. No, I don’t put needles in myself!! We just talk, and she works her energy magic. Another bout of tears as I took in what she was saying.

The reason last year (leading up to my 40th birthday) was so successful is that I was exploring a new me. I was allowing this part of myself that had been hiding for so many years to finally take a peek out into the world. I was having fun with this part of me as I was getting to know her. But then the fears crept in. And slowly but surely, this new me began to retreat. I wasn’t making it safe for her anymore. I wanted to, but it was as if I didn’t know how.

It’s so simple, though… and yet so hard. In order to keep her here, I need to keep her happy. And in order to keep her happy, I need to listen to her.

All day long, I need to pay attention to my thoughts. Pay attention to the things I’m doing and the choices I’m making. Are they serving me? Do I want to do these things? Do they make me happy? Am I having fun?

Our thoughts are one of the few things we have control over. I tell that to my kids all the time, and they are only 5 and 2. But I tell them they get to choose how they feel. If they don’t like something, they can choose: do they get mad? Or do they find something else that makes them happy? Or better yet, do they find a way to make that first something fun, so they can be happy no matter what?

I’m so caught up in my overwhelmingly long to-do list and the guilt I feel when choosing to do the things I want to do instead of crossing off all those things I feel I should be doing. And that is what is keeping me in my vicious cycle.

Pay attention to your thoughts. They matter. And they matter most.

Post-Prom Confusion

My Prom birthday party was this past weekend. It was a blast! People really got in to it. One friend wore an original prom dress from the 80s. Another friend came in an over-the-top version of a powder blue tux … think powder blue matador! No joke!

I wore a classy black dress with a pink flower at the waist. It was strapless, defined at the waist, with a swingy A-line skirt. I absolutely loved it! I felt beautiful, sophisticated, and sexy. I did play up the prom part, too, with a couple of fake silver and pink tattoos, sparkly hair clips, and some glitter on my fingernails. What better time to bring on the glitter?!

I felt confident as I chatted with my guests, handed out prizes for superlatives (including tackiest prom dress!), was crowned Prom Queen, and danced the night away. It was pure fun!

Afterward, however, I found myself having mixed feelings. Some of the details weren’t exactly what I’d hoped for. But that wasn’t the real issue. It was the pictures. Some of them were great. Beautiful. Others, though … not so good.

I know that photos are a snapshot of a millisecond in time and are by no means a reflection of reality.

But it’s still shocking sometimes to see myself from certain angles. Do I really look like that?? Really?? Have I really put on some of the weight again? Really?? I don’t feel the way I look. How can I feel so much like a new (thinner) person – a new version of myself – and still look like the old me?

Well, maybe that’s just it. I have indeed come a long way. But I’m still me. I’m a concoction of all my experiences. You don’t just let go of the old stuff just like that. But by no means does it negate all the work I’ve done. It does not have to take away from how far I’ve come. The journey is not a straight and steady one. It has twists, turns, U-turns, bumps, hills to go up, and hills to go down. And yes, there are even some nice, smooth stretches. Those parts feel great, but you can’t stay on those stretches forever. It’s the bumps and turns that teach us and remind us what we are truly wanting.

So where does that leave me? I’ll start by looking only at the pictures I love. I’ll continue by focusing on the feelings: if it feels good, stick with it; if it doesn’t, make a change. That sounds simple enough, but it takes a lot of awareness. And then how to make a change to get out of the bad feeling? I like to take a deep breath and then blow it out with gusto. It’s a powerful tool, as you let the negative thoughts go out with the breath. Then look for positive thoughts. Not always easy. Like anything else, it takes practice. Practice, practice, and more practice….

Bump, Bump

On January 4, 2014 I had had enough. Seriously. I hit the wall, and I was DONE. Enough of the feeling of being overweight and all the negativity that came with it. Over the course of the year, I dropped 4 pant sizes. Woo hoo! I used my positivity as my main source of strength. Everything else stemmed from that. Eating better and exercising became much easier, because I was finally being kind to myself.

Just before the holidays, however, things began slowly drifting away from me. I became fearful. What if it doesn’t stick? What if I go back to the “old” me? I knew the holidays presented lots of yummy eating opportunities, and I didn’t want to miss out on them. I did pretty well, too. I enjoyed the foods of the season, mostly in moderation. And I was confident that after the holidays, I would get back on track.

Only that hasn’t happened. Mostly I get inspired one day, then find I’ve come down with yet another cold. I feel like we’ve hardly had more than one week at a time with a healthy family. Ugh. It’s wretched. Every time I get sick  –  or over-tired from taking care of the kids  –  I start eating. Not healthy foods either, of course. Why is it that we want to eat junk when we’re sick?? I know I’m not the only one.

Okay. So I get over a cold and think, “Great. Now I can get back on track again.” I start tracking my food again. I start exercising again. … And then I get sick again.

I don’t know how much weight I’ve put back on, but I know my pants are snug. The clothes I was fitting into last fall are snug this spring.

sigh

I’m now getting over a 3-week cold. Here we go again. I’ve been trying to track my food. Not doing so well with that. I’ve been exercising. (Although I have found out that I actually really like exercising! But I think that’s another post.)

Here’s the thing, though. I’m getting that feeling again. ENOUGH. I’M DONE. I do not like that image staring back at me in the mirror. I don’t like the way I feel in my clothes. I don’t like the way I feel, period. So what am I going to do about it? Time to get back to the things that worked last year. But also find some new sources of inspiration.

  • Track food – especially works when I plan the night before for the next day
  • Exercise (as I said, I can definitely do that!)

But those are the physical things. I really believe that the emotional work is what’s most important.

  • Be kind to myself
  • Say only positive things about my body and myself
  • Appreciate my body and all that it does for me
  • Go easy on myself if I have a less-than-perfect day

I also believe it’s important to take care of myself. Have time for myself and with my husband and my friends. Get a massage, go to the chiropractor, schedule health sessions with my acupuncturist. Talk to people who are uplifting. Laughter feels so good!

Ah yes – be light about all this!! It should feel good! It should be fun!

So this post is in essence my very own pep-talk. Let’s go! It’s spring! It’s time to feel fabulous again!!

“One Step at a Time”

I get email updates from Yoga Journal and am often inspired by the short texts they send. Here’s the latest:

One Step at a Time

Do you ever look at an advanced yoga practitioner in an awe-inspiring pose and think to yourself, “I would never be able to do that!”?

Join the club. Most yoga students can relate to being envious overwhelmed, or discouraged when they see someone doing what seems to be an unobtainable pose. But instead of concentrating on your own shortcomings, next time try to focus on the potential in your yoga practice—if not physical, then certainly spiritual.

Although there will always be exceptions, most accomplished yogis didn’t come out of the womb with the abilities they display in those awesome postures. They used yoga as a tool to gradually improve their flexibility, strength, and concentration—just like you’re doing. And remember, yoga isn’t about being able to shape your body into a pretzel. It’s about what you learn about yourself while you practice that matters.

That’s what I love about yoga. I have had the experience of thinking I could never do what the person next to me is doing … and now I’m doing it! I never thought my heels would reach the floor in downward dog. I never thought I would even like downward dog. Now my heels hit the ground, and I revel in the stretch and strength I feel in the pose. I have long struggled with “threading the needle”. I only recently began to understand how it can open my over-tight shoulders. Now I want to learn more.

But these ideas go far beyond a yoga practice. “One step at a time.” That’s what it’s all about. And it’s about taking that step. My mom always tells me, “you’re never done!” Sometimes that is an overwhelming thought!! Now that I have lost a lot of weight, it feels like I should be done. But I’m not. Alas. I find myself slipping into frustration and negative thinking – back to old habits. Just like yoga, this new way of being is a practice. It isn’t as thought I dust off my hands and declare, “there! Now I’m finished!” Nope. I have to keep practicing. One step at a time.

For me, that means going back to logging my food. And changing negative thoughts into positive ones. Looking at myself in the mirror and seeing the good – even the beauty. It means taking a deep breath and letting those negative thoughts go with a big exhale. One step at a time.

Just Begin

I love chronology. Things in order. Nice and neat.

However, that is not how my life is most of the time.

And so, part of embracing my authenticity is being okay with the bits of chaos that I float around in all day long!

I would love to go back and begin my story somewhere at that beginning (although I’m still not even sure where that is). But it would take too long to catch up to where I am right now. And I want to write … right now.

So here I go. Into new territory for me. Jumping off into the deep end instead of carefully slipping my toes into the water at the first step of the pool.

That might mean it’s a bit difficult for any readers to follow along. Sorry about that. This blog is really for me, though. I’d love to know that some of the wisdom I’ve gained is helpful to someone out there. But for now, this blog is a way for me to sort through what’s going on and all that I am learning.

Last December I turned 39. Apparently, this is a really big year for people. I am no exception. It wasn’t exactly on my birthday. It was about 3 weeks later (after the chaos of the holidays had died down). On January 4th (yes, this was the actual day), something began to erupt in me.

ENOUGH. —  I. am. so. done.

I was ready for a change. A big change. It had been building up for a long time. A lifetime, even. But certainly over the past few years, things had really begun to boil and bubble inside. In my 30s, I met my husband, got married, finished my graduate degree, and gave birth to two beautiful baby boys. It was time to focus on me again. The timing was perfect.

After a lifetime of struggling with my weight and self-image, I was ready to look myself square in the eye (or body) and make a change. No more negative talk. No more judging perceived imperfections. Positive words only.

On January 4th, my husband and I went out to dinner at one of our favorite steak restaurants. But that night, the food wasn’t very good. Nonetheless, I sat there and ate it, maybe wishing the next bite would be better. But it wasn’t. I came home feeling over-stuffed. Heavy. Weighed down. It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling, alas.

I happened to sit down on the couch and pick up the latest issue of Cooking Light. With the first issue of the new year came an article from the editor about losing weight. I’ve read countless articles on losing weight. I’ve done the yo-yo dieting, each time thinking I’d found “the one,” only to end up 10 pounds heavier than when I’d started. The weight had piled on. By the time I was getting married, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life.

But this time, something did click. I read about an app I could get for my phone to track what I was eating. Oh, I’ve done that before, too, and it didn’t work. Although, never with the ease of clicking away on my cell phone. There was a big learning curve as I taught the app all the foods I eat. I began tracking meticulously. And I weighed and measured all my food. That part, I don’t actually mind. The nerdy math side of me rather likes playing the numbers. I told the app about some of my behaviors and entered the focus to lose one pound a week. One pound. I could do that.

It wasn’t just the app, though. There has been so much more that has led to my success. For one thing, I was ready. That’s such a nebulous idea, I know. It’s one of the inexplicable things. You just have to feel it.

I also had this new idea. What if it took me until I was 40? Would that be so bad? Not really. I could definitely deal with that. So instead of wanting results in a month or a week, I had a long-term focus.

It’s now September. I don’t know how much weight I’ve actually lost. (One of the lessons I took away from previous dieting attempts: I can’t handle having a scale in the house. I become too obsessive.) But I’ve gone down 3 sizes. I’m wearing clothes in sizes I’ve never worn in my entire life. It feels amazing.

There is so much more to delve into. There are so many layers. So many aspects that have contributed to my success. I want to go into more detail in future posts. I want to process it all. And I also want to remind myself of all that I have learned. Because now I am entering the next phase of maintenance, and I do not – under any circumstances – want to go back. Not ever again.

I am embracing my new self. I am exploring this person. Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do I want to present myself to the world? Still many questions to be answered and explored. Here’s to the next phase of my authentic self!