Archive for the ‘focus’ Category

Forgive my absence: I’m in love

Isn’t it funny how people always have plenty to say when things are going bad, but not a lot to say when things are going well?

It’s sort of like the news. If you just watched the news, you would assume that we’re pretty much living in hell, because all of the good things that go on in the world don’t seem “newsworthy.” It’s also like your friend who only has bad things to say about their partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.

So we live in a society where bad news is newsworthy and we’d rather bitch about our lives than celebrate. Lovely.

Having given this topic some thought recently, I’ve come up with a couple of possible explanations of why this might be the case.

1) When life, love, diet, etc. are going well, we’re simply too busy enjoying life to whip off a blog post or call up a friend.

2) We’ve all been socialized not to brag – which, ironically, may have unintentionally sucked all of the celebration out of our lives.

3) We’re socially predisposed to not notice the good and only notice the bad.

4) We’ve been taught (there’s that socialization word again, different spelling) that bad news is the only news worth reporting. (What is that old saying: no news is good news?) And while that maybe true, how would it change our lives – if not the world – if we not only focused on the good, but also shared, reported, and celebrated it?

So, in the interest of experimentation: I’m in love!

Now, I’ve been in love with my partner, soon to be husband, for a while now and that has not changed, other than ripening with each passing day. However, I have recently discovered a new love – actually, three new loves. (I started to write, “It seems almost like an embarrassment of riches, doesn’t it?”, when I realized that was just me who’s been told – repeatedly by well intentioned people who had it told to them – too much of a good thing does not a good thing make or, better yet, no one likes a braggart!)

So, who are my new loves?

Love number one, hoop dance. About a month ago, I purchased a 3.5 pound fitness hoop on amazon. It was the first hula hoop I’d ever owned. I could barely get it around my waist once and I would only hoop when Michael was downstairs. Even though I’m sure he could hear it clattering against the hardwood floor, at least he wasn’t watching. Within a few weeks, I was hooping up to an hour a day and just recently, I’ve made the jump to dance. This is literally the most fun…ever. I’m not doing a lot of the fancy tricks yet, but I am exploring space and dancing. It’s fun. It’s feminine. It’s a killer workout. And when I used to sit down and whip off a blog about food or diet, I now go and pick up the hoop. And perhaps even more importantly, instead of putting something in my mouth, I’ll go pick up the hoop. And did I mention the number of inches I’ve lost, in just a month? I’ll be posting my hoop reviews shortly (as I now have quite the collection, in a host of colors).

Love number two: Brittany. Now, this may sound a little woo-woo, but bear with me. I’ve been working with a coach who specializes in inner child work (which, until I started doing it myself, I’d always assumed was a bunch of hooey; well, turns out, it’s not). For about a year, I’ve been aware of my inner child, Kathy Jo and I’ve cultivated a very good relationship with her. Bottom line, when I take care of her, my needs to “act out” in terms of drinking, over eating, binging, procrastinating, etc, really diminish. During a recent session with my coach, I closed my eyes and there was Kathy Jo: cool. But there was another child with her, slightly older, who was skinny (which was weird, because I don’t really think of any of the iterations of my past in those terms) and dressed somewhat like an orphan. It took a while, but eventually she told me her name: Brittany. Brittany is older than Kathy Jo and she is the part of me with abandonment issues. She is also the part of me who wants to be the center of attention. It took several days to finally get into relationship with Brittany, but now that we have, my entire life seems easier and I am much more at ease in my body and in the world. Because now that I have recognized her and am in relationship with her, it’s easier for me to just be and my desire for recognition (and security) seems much less persistent.

And finally, love number three: myself. I have finally fallen in love with myself! It’s taken 41 years, but it has finally happened. I can’t explain how or why, but it’s true and it’s fun and it’s a glorious place to be. I was actually afraid to say anything publicly, because I was afraid to jinx it. However, after a four week honeymoon, I think it’s pretty set. And, notably, the hooping, Brittany, and the body are all connected and are, in many – if not all – ways, mutually reinforcing.

So that’s me. I love my hoop, I love all of the previously cordoned off parts of me that appear to be making an appearance one by one, and I love myself. It really doesn’t get much better than this, which is – in and of itself – worth reporting.

Advertisements

Introducing Bella

I have a new best friend.

Well, technically, I’ve always had her, I just didn’t appreciate her. In fact, I think it’s pretty fair to say that I loathed her (Sorry, Bella).

I have been working with spiritual weight loss coach, Andrea Albright, for almost a year now. If you recall, she was the one that convinced me to throw away the scale.

It was also on her advice that I examined the possibility that I may have a food allergy (or several as it turned out). And it’s been her voice that I listen to in my car everyday, telling me how important it is to love my body.

In addition to her general weight loss program, she also has a audio course specifically on losing belly fat, and in the very first disc, she invites you to rub your hands together to make sure they’re nice and warm and to lay them on your belly and say (out loud): I love you.

The first time I heard that, I laughed (out loud). And I most certainly didn’t do it. The reason I didn’t (or so I said) is because I was driving. But in reality, I just couldn’t stomach it – no pun intended. I didn’t love my belly. I hated it. (Again, sorry Bella).

Why is it important to love your belly?

Well, the more you love something, the better care you take of it.

And the more that you love something, the better care it takes of you.

When you love your belly, you’re no longer at war with your body, which means, by definition, that you are also no longer at war with yourself.

When you love your belly (or whatever part of your body with which you’re chronically dissatisfied) you eliminate a lot of negative self-talk from your life automatically.

It’s also important to love your belly (and every part of your body) because no matter what shape your belly (or your body) is in currently, she’s an amazing being. Just think about it: where would you be without her?!

One of the things that I learned from listening to Andrea is that this truly is the only body I have and will ever have. And though that seems incredibly simple, getting that – at a deep level – changes everything. Your body is always going to be with you. Your body is your most significant relationship – it is the true ’til death do us part.

When this finally clicked, everything changed. And I do mean everything.

All of a sudden that big fat belly that I used to focus on (and fixate on) with loathing and disgust became the part of my body that deserved the most attention, the most respect, and, believe it or not, the most love.

The first thing I did to rehabilitate my relationship with my belly was to stop referring to it as an it. And, as I’m sure you guessed, by now, named her.

Let me introduce you to my belly, Bella.

Now, you may be wondering, Why Bella?

No, this isn’t some weird Twilight thing!

One, Bella is close to belly.

Two, it means beautiful.

So, now whenever I look at my belly or think about it, I automatically associate the word beautiful with it. My beautiful belly. In fact, whenever I see myself in a full length mirror, I simply say hello to Bella, as I would any good friend.

Again, ‘Hello Beautiful.”

I know this sounds silly, but my entire orientation to my belly (and, in fact, my entire body!) has changed.

It’s a wonderful feeling to look in the mirror and like what you see. In fact, it’s something that until this last couple of weeks, I’d never before experienced.

So, why does it work?

One of the things that I’ve learned from working with different weight loss coaches, is that you should treat yourself (and your body) like you’re (she’s) your own best friend. When you do that, it becomes impossible to beat yourself up. I mean, think about it: when is the last time you told your best friend that she was a big, fat slob, an abject failure, or destined to be fat for the rest of her life?

I would imagine that if you can actually remember a time, it was probably right before you lost that best friend forever! Bottom line is that you just wouldn’t do it.

So why is it that most women look in the mirror and say those things to themselves every day – if not every hour of every day?

I can’t explain to you in writing how much my life has shifted with this one little thing. I truly love my belly. Now that I have named her, I am more likely to touch her and wrap my arms around her, much like I would a beloved child. I am more likely to mind my posture and and to engage in deep breathing as I am more aware of how this affects her. And just yesterday, while out shopping for t-shirts, I was much more likely to blame the cut of the shirt than my belly!

So, instead of thinking automatically, my stomach looks terrible in this, I literally (and seamlessly) found myself thinking: this shirt doesn’t look good on Bella. Or, better yet, Bella does not like this shirt.

For those of you who have ever stood underneath the florescent lights of dressing room beating yourself up, you know what a miraculous shift this kind of thinking is. And if you can’t imagine it, just try it.

It seems like such a tiny, silly, easy thing, but it’s been the most significant change I’ve made so far.

Seriously. If you have a love-hate (or even a hate-hate) relationship with your body or belly, change it. It doesn’t take much…just a little imagination and a willingness to treat your body with the same respect you’d most likely treat anyone upon whose life yours depended.

I’ll let that sink in. And in the meantime, Bella and I are going out to enjoy the sun!

New Thought Experiment

For one week, I am not going to engage in any negative self-talk, most of which I am sad to say tends to be centered on my body and or my appearance!

Why? When you focus on the negative (regarding anything) you oftentimes end up manifesting the very thing that you’re trying to avoid! Sounds messed up, doesn’t it? But it’s true! Similarly, when you beat yourself up over your body or a food choice that you’ve made, you are, essentially, inviting feelings of sadness, disgust, or guilt – all of which invite more feelings of sadness, disgust, or guilt, which, in turn, invite eating even more crap and other forms of self-sabotage!

All that aside, I don’t like like it when other people are mean to me or judge me negatively for my choices or my appearance, so then why should I do it to myself? Simple answer: I shouldn’t! In this case it’s the Golden Rule turned inside out: treat yourself as you would treat others! Because, trust me, I’m much nicer and more accepting when it comes to my friends than I am when it comes to myself, which is totally messed up! This is not to say that I should be any less nice or accepting of them mind you, but I should at least give myself the same courtesy and respect!

Further, there has been so much written about the laws of attraction – about how what you focus your energy on comes true (or rather, you draw it to you at an unconscious level) that there must be something to it! Wouldn’t it suck to be creating – even at the subconscious level – the very thing that you want to avoid? So, I am only going to focus on the positive and, in the process, I am going to create the body I want – both consciously and subconsciously, live the healthy life that I want, and love myself unconditionally (always a plus)!

I am going to stop focusing on the negative and reduce the guilt and self-loathing that focusing on the negative brings! I am going to stop beating myself up, because doing so only makes me feel bad about myself, which is also no fun! Instead, I am going to focus on how wonderful my body is – how amazing it is – because no matter what I’ve done to it in the past, it gets me through the day, houses my spirit, allows me to communicate with friends and family, allows me to enjoy the world at a sensory level, etc. I know it sounds silly, but everything I am I owe to my body! Shouldn’t I be a little nicer to it? Shouldn’t I love it a little more than I have been in the past?

So, what does this mean exactly? Quite simply, it just means that whenever I start to have a negative thought about myself (particularly about my body), I am going to stop it and replace it with a positive thought.

It’s pretty simple – at least in theory! I figure it’s going to be a lot like meditation.

I used to think that meditation was about imagining yourself in a white room while being in a total state of transcendence – whatever that means! Once I started meditating, I realized that it’s really about clearing your head of thoughts and focusing on your breath. Whenever a thought comes in, you immediately let it go and go back to your breath. You may find yourself going down some thought road, but the minute you realize what you’re doing, you let it go and follow your breath. As you get better at meditation, your forays down thought roads become shorter and shorter and you periods where you are able to clear your mind and focus on your breathing get longer and longer. I imagine that this is going to be the same thing.

I imagine that some negative thoughts will creep in and when they do, as soon as I am aware of them, I will stop them in their tracks and replace them with something positive. It’s going to take practice, but eventually, it will become a habit, just like following your breath becomes the habit for those who regularly meditate. I think it’s all going to boil down to really tuning into my self-talk, recognizing the negative stuff as the garbage it is, remembering to stop it instead of just internalizing it (which, again, is the last thing you want), and replacing it with something new.

My goal is to try this for a week and then for another week and another week until it comes habit.

And it really shouldn’t be that hard now that I am aware of it, because my body is amazing! It’s amazing now and it was amazing when I weighed 232 pounds at age 16!

I mean think about it. Think about what it does for you every single day, every single minute of every single day! Think about all of the crap that you put into it and all of the things that you do to it – and it’s still there for you!

Think about that for a change and acknowledge what a good friend it’s been to you! Even if there have been times where you’ve felt betrayed by your body or you developed a condition or disease that you wish you hadn’t or that is somehow embarrassing to you. I mean cut your body some slack, because, truth be told, how many times have you betrayed your body? I, personally, can think of at least a couple of times (cough!) that I have treated my body like crap, most of them – but not all – involving a toilet and the expulsion of copious amounts of alcohol. The point being is that my body hasn’t abandoned me over that, so I really don’t feel that I have that much room to complain!

Regardless of the challenges you’ve faced in your relationship with your body in the past or the ones that you’re still facing, your body is an amazing machine…an amazing friend. Try treating it as you would any cherished friend that you’ve had since birth. Try treating it with the respect and admiration that it and that you deserve and see what happens.

Feel free to join me in this and let me know how it works for you! I’d love to hear about it!

Regaining momentum (and finding my focus)

Maintaining positive momentum is absolutely crucial when you’re trying to achieve or maintain a goal.

When you have positive momentum, it’s just easier to do what’s right. It also tends to easily and effortlessly override both internal and external sources of resistance. You know the ones, the little voice that says, ‘Well, you’ve already blown it, why not?’ Or the well intentioned friend who offers you a brownie to help you ‘feel better.’

Further, when you have positive momentum, you know deep down inside that you will be successful. It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when, which is in and of itself an incredibly powerful personal resource. It really is as simple as that.

What’s equally simple, though it doesn’t seem like it when you’re in the thick of it, is that the opposite is also true of negative momentum. So if you ever find yourself in a back slide situation (or a tail spin) such as the one that I was in night before last as my vacation wound itself to a close, it’s crucial that you put on the brakes, turn it around, and pick up speed (heading in the opposite direction, of course) as soon as possible!

One way you can put the brakes on negative momentum and start creating (or rebuilding) your positive momentum is to focus on the positives, while keeping the negatives in perspective.

For example, it is true that while I was on vacation I picked up a few bad habits: I got sloppy with my food diary, I started taking small bites off of MJ’s plate (“just to taste”), and I found myself with a glass of California red wine in my hand on more days that I didn’t! I also didn’t get nearly enough sleep! Now any one of those transgressions has the potential to undermine a maintenance program, let alone a program designed to actually release weight! But add all four of them together? It’s no wonder that my clothes are a little tight!

But that said, there were also a lot of things that I did right. And given that I have a 10 hour travel day yesterday, my goal for myself was to set forth an honest accounting of all of the little things that I did right as well as the relatively small number of pretty big things that I did “wrong.” And my definition of wrong here is that they simply derailed my health and fitness goals. And, I can tell you right now that the list of rights overshadow the “not quite rights.” But it was important to include both so that I can remember what I need to keep doing as well as what needs to get ditched or modified now that I am back home.

As my mother is so found of telling me (and I am even fonder of ignoring), life (and any other important transformation) is really about the journey as opposed to the destination. That may be true, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’ll be much more appreciative of maintenance once I make my way back there! Because despite my earlier post, maintenance is looking (and feeling) pretty darned sexy, in comparison!

Just one more note about forward thinking, positive momentum, and focus. Peak performance coach, Anthony Robbins often tells a very funny – and profound – story about his experience learning to drive Indy 500 cars. My relative lack of charisma aside, the gist of the story is this: when you lose control of your car and you start heading toward the wall, whatever you do, do not look at the wall. Allow me to repeat:

DO. NOT. LOOK. AT. THE. WALL.

If you look at the wall, what happens?

Simple, you hit it!

So, when your momentum starts to slip, put your attention where you want to go (i.e. I am a firm, fit fabulous, four!) and just know that eventually, with enough sustained, positive momentum (which, of course, may mean changing tracks on occasion of you find yourself in a rut) you will get there!

I’ll post my list of rights and not-so-rights later on just to give you a better idea of the types of things I consider to constitute success. Did I have any “perfect” days in the course of the last two weeks when it came to food and exercise? No, not really. But I did have thousands of successful moments and, after all, isn’t that what vacations are for?

Don’t maintain – transform!

I have never liked the idea of maintenance. For starters, I can’t spell it! It usually takes about three tries before I can get rid of the automatic spell check line! But the real reason is that it’s not motivating, at least not for me!

So, why is maintenance, other than being hard to spell, not motivating?

I am a goal driven person. I like to make progress and to achieve my goals. It’s literally how I get my kicks. But it’s hard to view maintenance as a goal. You don’t achieve maintenance, it’s just something that you do. Much like housework, which I also dislike intensely, maintenance is undervalued. It’s not sexy. It’s not fun. It’s not awe-inspiring. In fact, most people don’t even notice that you’re doing it…that is, until you stop! Did you ever notice how housework is invisible until it doesn’t get done? It’s the same thing with maintenance. It’s typically overlooked until you start routinely setting it aside in favor of brownie hot fudge sundaes with Kahlua infused whipped cream.

If you’re like me and you think that maintenance is somewhat of a bum goal or you just don’t like doing it for whatever reason, I challenge you to change your perception of what it means to maintain your ideal weight (or whatever weight at which you find yourself currently if you’re stuck at a plateau). Don’t think about it as maintenance; instead think of this as an opportunity to transform.

Transformation. Now, that’s sexy. That’s motivating. You can set some goals around transformation. More importantly, the goals that you set around transformation are going to be a heck of a lot more compelling than, well, another week down, another 2,240 to go (assuming, of course, that you plan to live for at least another forty years)!

So, what types of transformation goals can you set for yourself while you’re either at your ideal weight or in the middle of a plateau?

  • You start working out with weights or adding a couple of pounds to the weight with which you already working
  • You could start doing yoga, which would improve your balance and flexibility
  • You could stop eating processed food, which would improve your digestion
  • Similarly, you could start incorporating more live, raw, or super food into your diet
  • You could start drinking more water, which would help return the elasticity to your skin
  • Similarly, you could moisturize
  • You could start a daily meditation practice, which would help you become more comfortable in your body and in the moment
  • You could change your exercise routine to work different muscles
  • You could stretch more, which would help your muscles rebuild after workouts
  • Similarly, you could take a day off
  • Or you could simply chose to get more sleep

For goal-oriented people who love to strive, the idea of maintenance is about as motivating as coffin! So shift your mindset and transform your body! Heck, don’t just stop with your body. Why not transform your entire life while you’re at it?

Perseverance in Weight Loss:Keeping your eye on the prize (as opposed to your gut)

Over the last three or four days, I have really gotten my head around why cultivating perseverance in weight release (more commonly known as weight loss) or any other long term goal really matters.

Essentially, if you have a strong sense of perseverance, you will meet your goals because you’ll be able to 1) face challenging social scenes and still make choices that support you; 2) automatically create solutions when faced with difficult environment (i.e.. packing in a ton of fruit and bringing your own blender to a two day conference!); and 3) maintain your self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem.

When you haven’t cultivated a strong sense of perseverance, you won’t meet your goals because you’ll be more likely to 1) abandon your plans in the face of difficult challenges or upset; 2) fail to see or to create opportunities to succeed; and 3) undermine not only your self-confidence, but also your self-respect and self-esteem. And once you’ve undermined those three puppies, all bets are off!

So what does it actually mean to persevere? Without resorting to Dictionary.com, perseverance, to me, means to soldier on in the face of adversity and unwelcome surprises. Remember when you were a kid and your mother made you clean your room? Not just put away the mess, but to really do some massive reorganization and to clean out the gunk and garbage that may have accumulated since last summer? It’s typically the case that it gets a lot worse before it gets better. Same thing with growing out a short hair cut. You can give up during the truly hideous stage or you can persevere until you get the long luxurious mane that you’d been coveting for months.

A few blog posts ago, I told the story of the hapless veterinarian, who essentially asked when I was expecting my first bundle of joy! Needless to say, I was a bit floored. Because not only am I not pregnant, I am actually smaller than I’ve been in my entire life. I weigh less. My waist is smaller. My clothes are smaller. No matter how you slice it, there is less of me to love. Yet, here I am being asked if I’m pregnant! Wtf?!

You may recall that over the last couple of months, I have moved away from my predominantly cardio based exercise regime. Instead, I have introduced a mix of weight training DVDs, including Michelle Khai’s Kettlenetics Slim & Tone Program, as well as Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and No More Trouble Zones. What this has done, essentially, has caused me to lay on a lot of muscle in my waist and in my upper and middle back, effectively pushing my pudge front and center!

The result, ironically, is that my core is stronger but my stomach looks bigger—bigger, that is, relative to the rest of me! And to make things worse (or better, depending on your perspective) my hips and thighs have also gotten smaller. Not a flattering combination! So, although I was completely thrown by the vet’s question about my impending life changes, it was (unfortunately) completely understandable.

I think it goes without saying that looking three months pregnant was not a goal when I started my weight loss (that is, my weight release) program. It would be very easy for me to justify not persevering and convince myself that it’s better to be a size 10 who doesn’t look preggers than a size six who does. But to do so would not only undermine my health and fitness goals, it would eventually undermine all of the self-confidence, the self-respect, and the self-esteem that I have gleaned from this process so far. It would also cost me a heck of a lot of money since I have sold all of my old clothes!

So my only other choice is to persevere.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still getting rid of the shirt! However, what I really need to go is keep my eye on the prize and not my waist line.

The Gift of a Guided Mind

Whenever I tried to lose weight in the past–notice all of the invitations to fail in that clause–I always focused on the negative. In other words, whenever I did something wrong, I tended to beat myself up for it. I’d like to believe that I am the only person out who has ever done that, but not even I am that naive!

I think the general approach that most people take towards a diet (which Garfield rightly pointed out was spelled “Die” with a “t” on the end) is punitive. Whenever you deviate from the plan, you punish yourself. Whenever I deviated from my diet, I would kill myself at the gym the next day to make up for it or I would just simply be amazingly rude to myself and, more importantly, about myself.

This time, I’ve jettisoned that doomed to fail strategy. Instead, I have chosen to shift my focus from what I’ve done wrong to what I have done right. Because when I do that, I realize that I do more things that are right than I do things that are wrong.

And not only do I notice what I do right–even when it’s just something as simple as drinking my water, exercising in my training zone, chewing my food well, being the last person to finish eating, leaving something on my plate, doing my deep breathing exercises, or taking my vitamins–I acknowledge them. Heck, not only do I acknowledge them, I celebrate them! I tell myself how awesome I am. I congratulate myself on my success and my determination. I applaud my dedication and my effort.

In other words, I don’t sweat the bad stuff; and I celebrate the good stuff. And the more I celebrate the good stuff, the more often I want to do more of it. Does that make sense? When’s the last time you celebrated a decision that you made when it came to food or exercise?

Beating yourself up is never a good strategy and, trust me, there will always be someone else out there who will do it for you. As trite as it sounds, be your own best friend, not your own worst enemy. Focus on the good stuff. Focus on the successes. You become that upon which you focus, so it’s imperative that you guide your mind where you want to go! Trust me, do this one small thing and the rest will follow.

p.s. I also no longer diet. Instead, I make conscious choices about food and exercise that give me energy and help me to feel better about myself and my body.