Challenges

For the past two weeks, I’ve been in a really good place. I started logging my food again, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. However, I definitely have to remind my self to keep up the positive self-talk.

I haven’t been posting my Little Love Notes to myself, but I have thought of a few more that just need to get from my head to my computer. And even the few that I have up so far have been really helpful. I am truly seeing myself differently again.

And then…. We go on vacation. Warmer weather equals different clothing. That is, bathing suits, shorter pants, no layering with structured cardigans and jackets. Deep breath. It gets really rough. I try not to look at what is and instead focus on my vision of who I truly am and who I want to be. But when the image in the mirror is staring back at you, it gets difficult.

I’m not sure just what to do about it. I want to enjoy my vacation, which also means enjoying food. Well, really, I always want to enjoy food. That doesn’t mean eating only junk. Healthy food can taste great, too. So I’m trying to pay attention to what I’m eating. I’ll try to keep logging – if only so that I don’t get out of the habit. And here I am, writing about it to try to help smooth out this process.

Remember: I am beautiful (my 3-year-old tells me that all the time!). I am lovable. I am worthy.

And then remember the little love notes. Focus on the things you already really love about yourself. I truly believe that is the key.

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Little Bits of Love this February

I’ve been a big fan of Louise Hay for many years now. Last year, I discovered her page-a-day calendar and loved it. So guess what everyone got for Christmas this year? Yup. The new 2016 version of the tear-off calendar. I love getting a new affirmation every day. She even has an extra page to begin each month. Here is what she has to say for February:

Love is the nourishment that we humans need to fulfill our greatness. As I learn to love myself more, I learn to love everyone more. Together we tenderly cultivate an even more beautiful world.

I am in the process of changing some pretty deep-rooted beliefs (but that’s another post or two….). So I was inspired by this affirmation to focus a little love on myself each day this month. I thought I would post one thing each day that I love about myself, be it part of my physical appearance, a character trait, whatever! It feels a little conceited, I have to admit. But then, that’s something else I’m trying to change: my perspective on myself. It’s okay to proud of who I am. It’s okay to be happy with who I am. It’s okay to celebrate who I am!! So here goes….

One, Two, Three

Short and sweet, I feel I have three things to focus on as I move forward, if I want to achieve my goals of being healthier and shedding the weight I no longer need.

  1. Loving myself.  I believe this is the most important element if long-term weight-loss is to be achieved. Other things factor in, like diet and exercise, but nothing *real* can happen if I don’t love myself – including my body – including my body right now.
  2. Appreciating.  It’s time to take credit for all that I have accomplished! My weight may be fluctuating. It is still less than it was two years ago. And along the way, I have done some serious emotion purging of old beliefs, judgments, and fears. I also believe it is important to appreciate the extraordinary life I have – my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my home, my work, my growth, my support…. The list goes on and on. And that’s not to mention the beauty in nature all around us, a song that uplifts me, soft sheets on the bed, spotting a hawk soaring above, a delicious chocolate chip cookie – on and on and on – all the big and little things that make life so sweet!
  3. Letting go of Control.  This is a big one for me. It’s time to hold the reigns a little less tightly. In ALL areas of my life, including my need to lose weight. My 2-year-old son’s favorite song is “Let it Go” from Frozen. I love to listen to it over and over almost as much as he does, because it reminds me to let go 🙂

And one final note about loving myself. At the risk of sounding arrogant (which I do not think I am), I had a thought about my fears of people judging me: seriously, I think that all the people in my life – family, friends, fellow parents at school – would actually say I’m pretty darned amazing! I don’t know who I think is out there judging me so harshly! The only one doing that is ME. And it’s time to stop.

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….

Don’t Take It Personally

Back in what feels like a previous lifetime, I was a graduate student struggling to get my PhD. I always felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails. Every step of the process seemed so hard. I’m still somewhat mortified to recall the number of times I burst into tears when meeting with professors. (I’ve never been very good at taking criticism. Sounds like the topic for another post….) The thing that kept me going was that I loved teaching.

But then something changed. I met someone. In the blink of an eye, my life changed. Suddenly the entire focus of my life was no longer graduate school. I was giddy in love! (I’m happy to say I’ve been married to that same man for over seven years now!)

What changed for me professionally, though, was that I no longer took everything so personally. Because I had another focus in my life (a very positive, joyful one at that!), I wasn’t so deeply vested in my work. I still worked hard, and I did finish my degree. But the entire process shifted. When I stopped taking the critique so personally, I was not only happier, but I was much more able to actually hear the critique and make positive changes in my work. Would you believe I actually had to throw out two entire chapters of my dissertation?! All 80 pages! Months and months of work! But when I met with my advisor, and he told me that I should scrap the chapters and restructure the dissertation, I actually laughed! For one thing, I knew he was right. And as much as I wish I hadn’t had to go through all that work only to chuck it, my work was an awful lot stronger because of it.

I think there is a lesson to be learned here. I take what I consider to be my failures so very personally. I am so hard on myself.

It’s time to start taking this journey lighter. Yes, there are some dark days. Yes, there is some serious – and wonderful – emotional healing that I have done and continue to do. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be lighthearted. I can laugh! I can even laugh at myself. I can laugh at myself when I go a little off track. I can laugh at myself when I catch myself being judgmental. I can smile at myself when I see myself in the mirror. I can smile at the food I am about to enjoy. I can smile while I’m enjoying my workout.

In other words, I get to choose. How am I going to feel in this moment? Am I going to be overly critical? Am I going to give up?

Or am I going to laugh it off? Am I going to take a deep breath and begin again? Am I going to go easy on myself?

Yes. It’s time to go easy on myself. And stop taking it all so personally!

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!!