Archive for the ‘identity’ Category

Mind Blowing: Leave Your Mis/Pre-Conceptions at the Door

Logically, I know that if we had to deal with all of the information that the world throws at us, we’d be insane. We are constantly bombarded by so much information that the brain really has no choice – other than insanity – to create little boxes and, in some cases, put people into them. Usually this is an okay strategy. Other times it can lead to misunderstandings and lost opportunities. All too often it can also lead to stigmatization, isolation, prejudice, and discrimination.

I was at a seminar last week to begin the fun and exciting process of becoming a Nuero-Linguistic Programming Practitioner. I have been going to similar seminars over the last year or so, with roughly the same group of people. Sometimes we learn about marketing. Other times we learn about teaching and learning. Once we learned about personality and personality types. Through it all, I’ve made friends with some of the other participants, while remaining aloof or withdrawn from others.

One of women in the latter group, I will call “S”.

S is, there really is no other way to describe it, drop-dead gorgeous. She’s literally one of these women that stops traffic in busy urban centers.

I’ve known her for close to a year. We’d always smile politely from across the seminar room or maybe even exchange pleasantries in the women’s room – me in my slacks and sweaters and her in her revealing dresses, short skirts, mesh tops, and leather boots. (You know, all of the stuff that I don’t have the personality to pull off even if I had the body!) Me with my hair pulled back tightly in the librarian-like bun and hers in a riot of curls that spills around her shoulders in a shockingly tantalizing manner.

Seriously.

Drop. Dead. Gorgeous.

Smoking Hot is another phrase that pops to mind, but I digress.

About two weeks before the last seminar, I got a friend request on Facebook from S and I spent a day (or more) trying to figure out why. I mean, sure, we’d had a couple of meaningless conversations in the bathroom during breaks, but why would she friend me? I mean, seriously, how did she even know who I was, let alone my name. I promptly determined that she had just seen my picture on someone else’s Facebook page and thought, “Why not?”

Feeling a little suspicious – because, after all, why would someone like her want to be friends with someone like me? – I accepted the invitation and assumed that would be the end of it.

A few days later, I posted a picture of myself on a carousal on Santa Monica pier and she commented: “Beautiful.”

I was flummoxed.

Secretly pleased, but flummoxed nonetheless.

During the seminar, I actually worked with S – not just once, but a few times.

We also chatted.

We also had real conversations about things that mattered and gradually I let my guard down.

And I realized that I really liked her and that maybe I had – in my super-judgmental mode – misjudged her.

Towards the end of the conference, she told me that she had always assumed that I would never be interested in talking to/working with/getting to know her because I had so much education and was a professor, whereas she was a massage therapist and had considerably less formal education than I. (Technically, most of the world does, but that’s besides the point!)

I laughed, because I had never once thought about her intellect – as I could never get past her staggering beauty. (Despite the fact that she is quite intelligent!)

Of course, I had to tell her that I always assumed the same thing – that I had been laboring under the illusion that she would never want to talk to/work with/get to know me, because I was so much less attractive than she.

(You know what “they” say about assumptions – they make an ass out of u and me.)

S and I ended up talking a little more until there were so many commonalities in our lives, that I literally burst into tears. And before I knew it I found myself in the arms of a woman who – three months ago – I had been so intimidated by, that I would barely even say hello to her in a public place.

How sad is that?

I am so glad that she decided to reach out to me. And I am very glad to call her my friend – or should I say, my drop, dead gorgeous, smokin’ hot, intelligent friend!

If there’s someone in your life that you are fascinated by but who you think “would never talk to you” for whatever reason – try it.

The worst thing that could happen is that you could be right.

The best thing, however, is that you could make a new friend and come to see them (and yourself) in a different light.

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Feeding My Inner Child

A few of months ago, I started doing a guided meditation every morning, where I awaken my “inner angel” – that would be “Kathy Jo” – and get her ready for the day.

Part of this entails letting her pick out what she wants to wear (which is inevitably a dress of some sort – that child has yet to put on pants or jeans), to give her whatever she wants for breakfast (usually something involving peanut butter), and then pack her a bag of toys and food for the day.

The purpose of this exercise is to make sure that your inner Mini-Me can eat whatever the heck you want so that you don’t have to. The first two months of this was great. But then, since Cat died, I stopped going to see Kathy Jo. I stopped going to see her because when I went there in my mind, Cat was there and it reopened the wound – instead of bringing me joy that Cat had found her way – as I should have known she would – to my inner sanctum.

It’s probably no wonder that that’s when the binging started, now that I think about it.

Since Kathy Jo wasn’t getting her peanut butter, her Doritos, her Hostess cupcakes, and her Fig Newtons – not to mention my mother’s famous fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich or her homemade pancakes layered with – you guessed it! – peanut butter, someone had to eat it. And, unfortunately that someone was me.

Just as an aside: Looking at that list, is there any surprise at all that I have such a peanut butter fetish? Talk about eating your childhood memories.

Well. Monday evening, after yet another bout of hysteria over Cat, Bella, and whatever else happened to cross my mind, I decided to turn over a new leaf.

Tuesday I set the alarm 30 minutes early and did my guided meditation.

Kathy Jo was a bit stand-offish. Who can blame her, really? I hadn’t been there in three weeks (possibly more).

She selected a pale lilac dress, some Dorothy shoes, and a little white cardigan.

And for breakfast, she wanted the peanut butter pancakes – but only if the peanut butter had been slightly melted, like it used to when my mother would leave the jar on the stove top while she cooked.

In her bag, she wanted a mix of things that ranged from baby carrots and strawberries (yea! not all is lost) to Hostess Cupcakes, Cheetos, and some sort of orange drink out of a pouch. I can’t even remember the name of that stuff, but I remember what the pouch looked like – essentially, it looked just like something that my mother would have refused to buy either because it was too expensive or too messy or too something!

On the way home from my belly dancing class last night, I was really hungry.

It was 9:00 and I was sort of worried about walking into the house – read, the kitchen – ravenous.

So, as I was driving, I imagined that Kathy Jo was sitting next to me in the car, happily munching on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And – just in case she was as hungry as I was – there was another one in her lap!

When I finally got home, I walked in, made an uber-healthy shake with some rice protein powder and spinach and went to bed. There was no snacking, no peanut butter, no tahini, nothing. And, more to the point, no temptation – at least not for food. 😉

Today on my way home, just to see if I could repeat the experience, I imagined Kathy Jo sitting next to me eating cinnamon toast. (You know, it’s really amazing what comes out of your memory when you ask your inner child what she wants to eat, because, seriously, I hadn’t thought about my mother’s cinnamon toast in years!)

Regardless, even though I hadn’t consciously been Jonesing on my mother’s cinnamon toast, Kathy Jo obviously had. She had about six pieces.

I, on the other hand, drank my water and munched happily on a Spirulina Go Raw Bar.

When I got home, I “cooked.” I made hummus, tabouli, and beet and carrot slaw for Michael J. and I made two batches of raw marinara sauce for myself.

And you know what? I didn’t snack, I didn’t over eat, and I didn’t binge.

Two for two after a really bad 20 for 20 (in the opposite direction).

I wonder what Kathy Jo will want in her bag tomorrow. Because, whatever it is – she can have it!

Peeking Under The Hood: It’s Not Just Calories In, Calories Out

Over the last month or so, I have hired a personal coach. Ostensibly, the goal was to help me break through my unfortunate, not to mention unhealthy, addiction to stress eating. And I don’t just stress eat – I do it at night. And I do it with just about anything with the word butter in the title – peanut butter being my ultimate favorite, followed closely by almond butter, then tahini (which, you guessed it, is sesame butter)! I guess the only good news is that I don’t like, eat, or use real butter, so it could be worse!

Regardless….

I have hired this amazing coach, Steph, and every week we talk on the phone for about an hour – every fourth week it’s an hour and a half. And guess what? Never once have we actually talked about food.

According to Steph, my remaining issues with food – the stress eating, the over reliance on fat and salt as a coping mechanism – are all symptomatic of deeper, underlying issues, many of which have their origins in childhood, but were undoubtedly reinforced in adolescence as well as in adulthood.

Last week, Steph took me on a guided meditation using a lot of Native American symbolism and other shamanistic healing techniques. She asked me to imagine a wooded setting and just to let different animals appear to me and to guide me through to my destination.

Although I was skeptical at first – aren’t I always? – my subconscious mind presented me with different guides with very little prompting. One, I had always suspected was a guide for me – the Deer. The others – an Owl, a Woodchuck, and a Peacock – were a little more surprising.

After the call, I did a little google searching on animal spirit guides and here’s what I found:

The Deer: The deer as a totem serves as a bridge between the wild and the tame. This is because the deer will often be seen on the edges of the wilderness it calls home. Deer will also venture into our roadways and gardens. When deer appears you may want to ask yourself if there is a wild streak in you that desires taming. Or, have you been too cautious lately and desire to take a walk on the wild side? Deers have acute senses, they are always on alert to keep themselves from harms way. Deer totem may appear when danger is lurking, it also serves as a reminder to be watchful and alert to potential harm….”

The Owl: “The owl represents wisdom and higher education. Because of the owl’s keen eyesight it considered to be a great visionary. It also has superb hearing. As a totem it can reveal clairaudient and clairvoyant abilities. This nocturnal bird is called “The Keeper of Dark Secrets.” The owl totem has a connection to the dark side and the dead. The owl is associated with superstition and magical powers. Whenever an owl appears or you hear an owl screech in the night it may be that a secret will soon be revealed to you. Also, if a secret is shared with you in confidence, the owl serves as a reminder to honor that knowledge and keep the secret private.”

The Woodchuck (aka Groundhog): “The groundhog is symbolically known as being a trance dreamer because of its deep slumber while hibernating underground. If the groundhog is your personal animal totem or makes its appearance in your life it may indicate that messages are being given to you through your dreams. Because the groundhog is a territorial animal, you may be in need of setting up boundaries or guarding your personal space.”

The Peacock: “The peacock is a majestic and mystical totem symbolizing inner wisdom. Whenever the peacock visits it is an invitation to view higher aspects of yourself through the eye image displayed on its magnificent display of feather plumes. The eye is your gateway to higher knowledge. Ask yourself if you need to widen your perspective and look deeper regarding a situation. The iridescent hues of blues and greens in the feathers have an exotic look. Are you stuck in drab surroundings? Are you able to reflect light and deflect dark emotions? The peacock teaches us to stand upright and show others our talents with pride.”

This may not be that resonate with you, as my readers, but, trust me, it’s very resonate with what’s going on in my life at the moment as well as in the foreseeable future.

If you haven’t ever looked beneath your own hood – I highly recommend it. It’s interesting. It’s fun. And it’s surprisingly insightful.

If you’re interested in finding your animal guides, here are three steps taken from an article originally posted at ehow.com.

Step 1
Find your power animal pro-actively by asking the animal spirits for a dream. Then rest and let the power animal find you. Don’t dismiss smaller animals such as mice or even insects. Animals have their own unique strengths. You may want to keep a journal beside your bed and make note of recurring dreams in which an animal or some form of an animal appears again.

Step 2
Notice the things in nature that you are continually drawn to. Power animals may guide your senses and attention to certain elements, natural sites or geographical phenomena that are reminiscent of or peculiar to a certain animal. If you are repeatedly captivated by nests, burrows or snow, for example, let the animal world communicate itself to you.

Step 3
Take time during the day to relax, close your eyes and breathe. Power animals frequently make themselves known to us when we are conscious as well as when we are asleep. Be receptive to visions through meditation. In your calm state, imagine a situation where you move out of your personal space such as your home and enter into an unknown but unthreatening and quiet natural space such as a field or a cave.

Read more: How to Find Your Power Animal | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2202396_power-animal.html#ixzz0w1WxcSIj

For those of you who know me, you’re probably thinking: What?! Who are you and what have you done with KJ?!

Don’t worry, the staid, quiet academic you know and love is alive and well (well, when she needs to be), but this year has been a time of deep reflection and exploration for me. I’ve stepped away from strictly rational explanations – not that I am implying that there is anything irrational about spirit guides, mind you! I have also lessened my reliance on strict sociological explanations and have begun to include more psychological insights into my view of the world.

So, does this mean I’m flip-flopping or abandoning my roots? No, not at all. I prefer to think of it as growing. Of letting go of some of the rigidity of my youth and seeing the world and myself in different and multifaceted ways. And, hey, if by opening my mind to new possibilities means I can get rid of these stubborn couple inches of belly fat, all the better. Regardless of what happens with my waistline, I can tell you one thing – since I have been, as Peter Gabriel so eloquently put it – digging in the dirt – life has gotten so, so much easier on so many fronts, the least of which is food!

Strike Two on Personality!

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently learned that INTJs (Introverted INtuitive Thinker Judgers), under times of stress are more likely to seek out full body experiences, which include, among other things (like sex and exercise), eating!

Given that I have struggled with stress eating (some would call it bingeing) and – to a lesser degree – overexercise my whole life, this made a lot of sense to me.

We then moved on to the Enneagram Personality Model. Well, as it turns out I am a 5 Personality Type (also known as the Stinge). Stinge’s hoard. They always think that they need more of whatever it is. I could give you a thousand examples of how this plays out in my daily life now that I am aware of it (including how I routinely hide protein bars in my bag so that Michael J won’t eat the one’s that I want and how I routinely hog all of the flat surfaces in the house with of the stuff that I’ve been hoarding for God only knows how long), but I won’t. Just trust me: it’s there!

Interestingly, the Enneagram Personality Model tells you what your basic preferences or behavior patterns are at three points: where you are normally (which for me is a 5) and where you go under times of stress and intimacy. Without going into too much gory detail, where I go under intimacy explains a lot about my history with men (and with friends). And where I go under stress is – you guessed it – Gluttony!

Interestingly, the Myer’s-Brigg and the Enneagram are not perfectly correlated with one another. You can think of one as supplementing the other.

So, just my luck – what didn’t get covered by stress eating gets “covered” by my propensity to choose gluttony!

Now, one approach to this information might be just say, that’s the way I am, so I have permission to act that way…so I should just pull my chair up to the fridge and be done with it. However, personality can also be thought of as a decision that you made as a child in response to an arbitrary event that you had confirmed over and over again during the course of your life as opposed to something that’s biologically hardwired. If you take this second approach, then I can view my propensity to stress eat simply as a learned pattern of behavior that can be unlearned.

The key is remembering to observe it (and acknowledge it) not as something that can’t be changed, but as just something I do because it’s comfortable. It’s a choice. It’s not set in stone. It’s not just the way I am. And, perhaps even more importantly, it’s not me.

So the next time I catch myself stress eating, I will just observe the behavior and acknowledge that that’s the choice I made.

And, who knows? Perhaps, in time, I’ll learn to choose a different choice.

Personality and Stress Eating

I have battled with stress eating my whole life. I always assumed that it was a lack of will power.

I am currently at a five day seminar on personality types. (Michael J and I are all about the learning vacations!)

Yesterday we covered the Myers-Brigg in more detail than I have even seen it covered in any psychology class in college.

Much to my chagrin, I am still a hard core INTJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinker, Judger). I would like to think that I have have practiced my Feeling muscle over the years, but it’s not totally clear after sitting at a table with a bunch of self-identified hard core feelers.

The interesting thing (one of many) about yesterday’s presentation, is they helped us to identify our strengths and our weaknesses. The thing that you are most weak in is your achilles heel, so to speak, and under times of stress, you revert back to it. It’s sort of like letting a 3 year old drive your brand new Mercedes! Because my weakness is Extroverted Sensing, under times of stress, I often seek out whole body sensory activities, which, if left unchecked, can manifest itself in addictions – to food, to alcohol, to drugs! (Notably, my struggle with stress eating has tripled since I stopped drinking red wine on a regular basis).

Interestingly (and I actually felt good about this), my positive “hack” is exercise.

This means when I get to feeling overwhelm and stress in my strength, my Introverted Intuition, instead of reaching for the almond butter or tahini (or whatever the full fat flavor of the week happens to be) I should exercise! Even if it’s just a short ten or fifteen minute burst.

I tend to do this anyway, but hopefully having this insight will encourage me to do that first, instead of after the fact.

Although the course is on personality type, I think it’s really about preference and habits. I’m hoping to get some additional tips on how to not only strengthen my strengths but also to strengthen (or at the very least shore up) my weaknesses.

It’s Very Rare That I’m Speechless…

…but it’s been known to happen.

Today was one of those days. I literally lost my whole train of thought, my mind blanked out and literally jumped tracks.

I was at a business meeting. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but the gentleman to my right said (to me): “But you’re very thin.”

All of the noise in the busy cafe faded to nothingness. I totally forgot what I was saying. If the floor didn’t tilt it very well could have. And I just sat there – mouth open.

‘Really? Can I kiss you?’

It really was shocking to me to have someone that I didn’t know refer to me not only as thin – but as “very thin.”

Although I didn’t ask if I could kiss him out loud (though I might have, now that I think about it), I did ask if he was serious. “Really? Do you think so?”

He looked at me like I was crazy. “Yes,” he repeated, giving me a strange look. “You’re a very thin woman.”

Michael J, from his seat behind, me laughed, “Identity shift in action.” (He told me later that the silence emanating from me was deafening.)

It really was one of those moments where I felt like I had to explain my whole sordid history with food, but luckily for me (and probably for the poor guy who’s thinking he’s never going to comment on a woman’s weight again) I managed to choke it back after a quick false start.

It was an interesting moment – or ten, as that’s how long it took me to get my head around the fact that to the rest of the world (that is, the part that really doesn’t know me) thinks of me as being not only thin – but very thin.

There is no real moral to this story; I just wanted to write it down for posterity (especially now that I think I’m writing this in the middle of an earthquake!!! Time to go check CNN!)

post script: As it turns out there was a earthquake (5.9 on the richter scale) south of here, but it appears to have passed. Wouldn’t have that been a fitting? The first time a stranger refers to me as thin and the ground opens up and swallows me.

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!

Treating your body as an equal

I was listening to an audio recording with wellness coach Jena LaFlamme, who posited, among other things, that in order for you to be successful in your weight release efforts, you have to learn to “treat your body as an equal.”

While I was still trying to figure out what that even meant, she went onto to point out we tend to blame our body for it’s failure to comply with the mind’s demands (i.e., to be thinner, to be healthier, to be stronger). That we try to force our body to do what we want it to do. That we, all to often, feel betrayed for our body for failing to meet our expectations.

Although I had been listening all along, when she used that word – the ugly b-word – I sat up and took notice.

How many times have I used that word in the last six months?

More importantly, how often have I said out loud (or thought without speaking, but that my body could hear nonetheless) that I just couldn’t trust my body.

Isn’t it funny that when my body is doing what I want it to do, I take full credit, but when it’s not (or rather, when I’m not) I blame my body. It only makes me feel marginally better that that’s the way it tends to go for most people. That is, we, as humans, tend to take all the credit for the successes and shirk all of the responsibility (that we can) for the failures.

I hadn’t realized however – that is, until I heard this recording – that I did the same with my body.

My willpower got the credit. My body, as if it weren’t actually a part of me, got the blame.

Pretty interesting, huh?

Pretty sad.

So, in the interest of facilitating my weight loss efforts and minimizing my tendency towards negative self-talk I am willing to accept the fact that there is two of us: the brain (which houses the willpower) and the body.

And I am also willing to entertain the notion that we need a relationship intervention.

And that means that I – that is, my brain, my willpower, my conscious thought (or whatever you want to call it) – is going to have to learn to treat my body as an equal. And that means that I am going to have to start listening to, start trusting, and stop betraying her.

I know that earlier in this post I said that I often felt betrayed by my body. So, if my body is the betrayer, then why would I have to work on not betraying her?

Well, when I started thinking of my body as an equal – even preliminarily – I realized that I (i.e., my mind) has been a worse friend to my body than my body has ever been to me. I’m the one that made the decisions to eat junk, to drink alcohol, to exercise to the point of injury (or not at all), to deprive us of sleep, etc. You name it – with the exception of a few truly dangerous and disgusting habits – I’ve done it.

And what has she done? Well, she’s got me where I want to go and she’s – thankfully – stored fat to protect me from all of the stress of my bad decision making. (For those of you who have been following my efforts at weight release, you probably realize how hard it was for me to actually put that last sentence into writing!)

So, in the interest of creating a true relationship with my body, who is my equal as opposed to being my possession that I can neglect, abuse, or blame at will, I will do my level best to listen, trust, honor, safeguard, nurture, and love.

One of the quickest and most effective ways to create lasting change in your life is through the use of positive affirmations – affirmations are statements that are positive, have an emotional intensity, and are written in the present tense. I will say these these – both morning and night – until, eventually, they’ll be true:

  • I listen to my body
  • I trust my body
  • I honor my body
  • I safeguard my body
  • I nurture my body
  • I love my body

Stepping Out of The Vault (Raw Food Rehab)

At the beginning of the year, I joined Raw Food Rehab, a wonderful on-line resource for those interested in raw food, and checked myself into “The Vault.” The Vault is one of the site’s private rooms – meaning that it’s members only – where you can go to get extra accountability for your weight loss and health goals.

Penni Shelton, the cruise director, if you will, routinely organizes 11 Week Health Initiatives that encourage members to eat more raw foods in their daily lives.

She also posts wonderful recipes and inspirational videos that tap into the inner game of weight loss, and – on occasion – she encourages us to move our bodies.

Although all members of Raw Food Rehab are invited to participate in the 11 Week Initiative, the Vault-lings (as those brave people in the Vault endearingly called) actually commit to posting their before photos, starting measurements, and starting weight at the beginning of the initiative. Then, they are required to log their weight every week, upon threat (and reality) of expulsion. At the end, they post their after pictures, ending weight, etc.

Despite my own aversion to scales, I did this. And it was great.

At the end of the first 11 Week Initiative for 2010 I had lost 14 pounds; and I am now the smallest that I can remember being – ever! An additional and unexpected bonus was the number of good e-friends I made along the way!

The next 11 Week Initiative started yesterday, and after much soul searching, I decided to sit it out. I feel a little remorse about this decision. I also feel a little disappointment.

This disappointment, by the way, is directed not at Raw Food Rehab, the Vault, nor even my own performance during the last initiative.

Instead, this disappointment lies squarely in my own inability to see that the little number that appears behind a pane of clear plastic is not an indictment of my entire person, but is, rather, a tool to help me reach – and to maintain – my goals.

Essentially I have come to the conclusion that I am still too emotionally tied to the scale.

Although I know – rationally – that the scale is just an inanimate object, I still give it the power to mess up my day, if not my week.

This is particularly ironic, because given my current weight, I just don’t see me losing any more weight. More to the point, I don’t really think that I need to.

What I do need to do, however, is tone up and add muscle.

A little deeper personal excavation revealed that the real problem lies in the fact that I am having a hard time accepting – at an identity level – that I actually have reached my desired – if not ideal – weight.

What this means is that whenever I see the actual number, I freak out (and eat).

However, if the number goes up, I also freak out (and, you guessed it, eat more).

And, even harder to explain, if the number goes down, I also freak out (which manifests itself not in depression, anger, and disappointment [see above] but in joy, excitement and fear). Regardless of the emotional cocktail, the result is the same: I eat. Specifically, I eat until the number goes back up and it starts all over again.

It really is a no-win situation.

When I think about it, rationally, I can see that the chances of my gaining weight over the next 11 weeks are actually pretty high. Not that I am giving my permission to gain fat, mind you, but I do intend on adding muscle as I continue to work towards my goal of doing 100 consecutive push ups (I did 69 today, btw), and do yoga, K-Bells, and Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred.

So instead of focusing on weight, my personal goals for the next 11 weeks are to 1) stay in my skinny pants, 2) lose another inch off my waist, 3) tone up the crepe-like skin on my arms and thighs, and 4) rid myself of my limiting beliefs about what I do and do not (and should and should not) look like/weigh, etc.

I hope that I’m not just chickening out, but I acknowledge that that is a possibility.

Notably, this is the exact place where I lost my mind when I did Weight Watchers about 20 years ago, and then I still weighed about 10 pounds more than I do now.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Until then, enjoy the day!

Pushing my boundaries (shopping for spring clothes)

Shopping for clothes in stores is always an adventure.

For the last two days, I’ve been scouring the Kohl’s sales racks. For those of you who don’t know about Kohl’s – it’s a mid tier department store (somewhere between Macy’s and Target). They are known for their sales. At the “end” of every season, they slash their inventory by anywhere from 60 to 80%

Luckily for those who live up north, spring doesn’t really arrive until about a week before summer. That means that you can wear the heavily discounted stuff for weeks – if not months – before you need to break out the linen and t-shirts!

Regardless, while I was there a couple of interesting things happened.

One, I found myself shopping at the low end of the clothing racks. It wasn’t that long ago that I would start at the 12s or 10s or the innocuous Ms. This time I found myself seeking out the 6s, the occasional 4s and the Ss. (Unfortunately I am not naive enough to think that Kohl’s and other mid-level department stores all across America haven’t gone to what one might call “vanity sizing,” but it was still fun!)

Two, I actually put things back that made me look “too big.” This is noteworthy, not because I’m significantly smaller than I’ve been for the last year or so, but rather because I’ve finally come to terms with what I look like in a mirror. And, perhaps even more importantly, I’m no longer trying to hide it.

There was a time that I would have cringed if anything that even remotely looked like a curve was visible. This time, not so much. Does this mean that I don’t have any love handles or (perish the thought of even using this word) muffin tops? No, unfortunately, they’re there; that’s life.

When I did a little fashion show for Michael J, he congratulated me for trying more form fitting clothes.

I thanked him for the compliment and asked him to promise me one thing – that is, to tell me if I go too far, as its easy to get seduced by the pull of smaller and smaller sizes.

“How far is too far?” he asked.

Good question.

After a moment’s consideration, my personal guidelines for if I’ve taken it too far: I look bad or it looks like I’m trying to dress younger than I am.

He agreed. And I trust him to tell me truth.

If you have a Kohl’s near you (or any other store with decent clothes and ridiculously slashed prices) go spend a couple of hours pawing through the sales racks. You never know what you might find. Who knows, you might – if you’re lucky and you’re willing to take some chances – find a completely new you.

In fact, I’ve found some of my favorite pieces of clothing by trying on what other people have left in the dressing rooms. The benefit of trying on other people’s left behinds is that unless that person has your exact same taste, they’re choices are almost certain to be outside of your comfort zone and something that if you’d seen it on the rack you wouldn’t have given it a second glance – let alone tried it on.

As a wise man once said, all progress comes when you’re outside of your comfort zone. So step out of yours and have some fun. After all, it’s not like you have to actually buy it!

If you don’t like what you see in the mirror…

…maybe you should try getting a new mirror!

I have purposefully refrained from describing my physical appearance in this blog. But I think it’s fair to say that my body has changed dramatically over the last three years.

Just to put it in perspective, I’ve gone from a size 12 to a size 6 on most days (and a size four on others).

But when I look at myself in the mirrors at home, I tend to see the same old me – that is, the size 12 me.

I think this has something to do with how our memory and brain work; we have an idea of what we think we look like and that gets transposed over reality. Maybe that’s why most people hate the way they look in pictures. Not because they look bad, but because the image doesn’t match their expectations.

My theory on this is that when you look at yourself in the same mirror, in the same lighting, at the same angle, you don’t really look. And when that happens, your mind fills in the details. Depending on where you are in terms of past weight versus present weight, that may or may not be a good thing.

Notably, on the rare occasions that I do notice substantial shifts in my appearance, it’s usually not at home. It’s also not in the floor to ceiling mirrors that I routinely change in front of at the gym.

Instead, I tend to notice differences in my appearance in other people’s bathrooms or, like this morning, in hotels.

I remember the first time this happened like it was yesterday. Not because I looked all that different, but because the experience itself was just so shocking.

I was in a strange house – at a party. I had gone into the bathroom and after I finished using the toilet, I stood up and caught a glimpse of someone in the mirror.

My first thought was, literally: oh my God, I didn’t close the door!

But I had closed the door. I was seeing myself – perhaps for the first time in a long time. I just wasn’t recognizing myself, because the face in the mirror didn’t match the face in my mind’s eye (or even the image of me that is reflected everyday in the bathroom mirror at home).

This morning, I had a similar experience.

The bathroom in the hotel where I am staying has three mirrors over the sink, all off set from one another – making a shallow half hexagon. There was something about the three way interaction of the mirrors that caught my eye as I peeled off my sweaty workout clothes.

What caught my eye was that I looked thin!

I mean, even with my belly pooch (which has gotten substantially smaller, btw), I looked pretty damn good.

There was something about the side angles that really showed that all of my post holiday efforts had apparently paid off. I was thrilled. Flabbergasted, but thrilled nonetheless.

But wait! It got even better.

As I leaned in to turn on the shower, ruminating on how thin I looked, I caught another glimpse of myself – this time a full-length image from the back that was being reflected from the aforementioned mirrors. (Note: I hadn’t even noticed the full length mirror on the bathroom door, which was – at that very moment – capturing my backside in full “glorious” detail. In fact, it was so surprising, it took me a few minutes just to figure out how that particular view was even possible).

I stood there, literally transfixed at the sight of my back, the turn of my waist, my hips, my thighs, etc.

And do you know what? I have a very nice ass.

And do you know what else? I had never seen it before.

Nor had I seen the fact that I have a waist.

Nor had I realized that the back of my thighs are actually quite shapely.

Moreover, I had never fully appreciated how it all fit together. I mean, how could I? I’d never seen it.

Because prior to that moment, when I looked at the mirror at home, I only looked at my face and (when the occasion forced itself) my belly.

And on the rare occasion that I did look at my thighs, I only looked down at them – usually while I was sitting (which only highlights their bigness).

It really was amazing.

Not to overstate the momentousness of the occasion, prior to that moment I had absolutely no idea what I looked like.

And these aren’t the only two times this has happened.

In fact, whenever I see myself unexpectedly in a strange mirror, I have this reaction.

A little less than two months ago, for instance, I actually tried to go around a woman who was walking directly towards me. (Luckily I recognized that she was wearing my scarf before my face actually hit the glass!)

Though I am no psychologist, I really believe that when we knowingly look in the mirror (especially a mirror that we routinely use), we have such a strong expectation of what we’re going to see that we actually see it. But when we see ourselves out of context or unexpectedly (or even from just a different angle), we actually get a glimpse of the way we really are.

So, if you’ve been working out or you’ve changed your diet but you think you’re not seeing any changes, you may not be.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that changes aren’t being made.

Try looking at yourself in a different mirror, in a different room – or even in a different house. Or, if you’re more of a homebody, but you don’t think you’ll be able to trick yourself in your own home, have a friend or partner rearrange the mirrors in your house while you’re at work. Or, if that’s not an option either, try just looking at your body in different ways, from different directions, in different lighting.

I think you’ll be surprised. Hopefully it will be a pleasant one.

Radical (Yet Under the Radar) Shift in Identity

Last fall, I lived to write in my blog. Not only did I post pretty much daily, I was addicted to the stats feature, which I checked multiple times a day.

Lately, however, I haven’t been writing in my blog regularly. If I’m lucky, I might get to it once a week. And even then, it tends to be a recipe or something like that; a post of value, but of little substance.

At first I thought that it was because I was too busy. I’m back on the teaching merry-go-round. I have daily papers to grade. I’m also learning a new way to cook as I’ve made the decision to go raw.

And I’m sure that while all of those are valid reasons (if offered by someone else), I’ve come to realize that those aren’t my reasons.

Last year, from March until December, all I wanted to do was release (forever) that last ten pounds.

This year (including the last week of last year), all I wanted to do (and continue to do) is eat raw food.

I no longer see myself as a busy woman who wants to lose the last ten pounds and keep it off forever. I see myself as a busy raw foods enthusiast.

And since that’s happened, I literally have not thought once about those “last ten pounds.”

Now, it is true that I was back up after Christmas – in fact, I was back up by eight pounds! So, in one sense, I needed to lose eight of those last ten all over again.

But since I’ve started living a raw lifestyle – not only do I feel a thousand times better and have way more energy – five of those eight pounds pretty much just disappeared.

You heard me – without me stressing about it or killing myself at the gym, I lost five pounds – give or take a few ounces – in a little less than three weeks.

And that was with me eating ice cream (granted, raw ice cream) once – sometimes twice – a day!

There is a book called “The Power of Now,” in which the author (whose name I cannot recall) argues that sometimes people get so identified with their struggle that they become their struggle. In other words, being in that struggle becomes part of their identity.

Let me just fess up now: No doubt about it, I was identified with my struggle to lose that last ten pounds and to keep it off. Heck, that’s the tag-line of my blog.

According to this book, if you are identified with your struggle, then there is some part of you that will do anything necessary to keep the conditions in place so that your identity can survive.

As a social psychologist, I know this. Heck, I teach it to dozens of undergraduates each year. Had a applied it myself? Absolutely not.

Somehow, in the process of learning to “cook” meals in a blender, I forgot about the struggle to release the last ten pounds and simply became a raw food enthusiast. And, perhaps far more important and sustaining, for the first time in my life, I’ve felt comfortable in my body. In fact, I feel light. I feel healthy.

Instead of getting hung up on what I’ve done wrong (which used to be the pattern when I was trying to lose weight), I feel thrilled and happy every time I choose something raw over something cooked and not once – not a single day nor even a single meal – have I felt like I was missing out.

So, I think I may be changing the tag-line of my blog, as it no longer reflects my primary focus or my view of myself. I’ll be sure to let you know what I come up with and hope, for those of you following along, that I won’t lose any of you in the transition.

So For How Long?

I ran into a friend at the grocery store today. She was there to pick up wine, cheese, veggies, and a number of other delicacies. I was there to get cat food, raw cashews, raw peanuts, mango, bean sprouts, and, well, cat food.

“Hey,” she called out when she saw me. “It’s the raw girl! How’s it going?”

We chatted a few minutes about life in general and work before turning the conversation back to diet – in particular, my diet.

“So where do you get your protein?” she asked as she handed her kale to the woman behind the register.

“Same place you get yours, ” I quipped as I nodded at the huge bunch of leafy greens. “You’d be surprised. My kale smoothie this morning had 18 grams of protein in it, which is almost half of the daily recommendation for women.”

She nodded in sober agreement: “Kale is an amazing vegetable.”

We talked a little more.

Essentially, I told her some about what MJ and I have been eating and how much better I’ve felt. I told her about the medication that I’d been able to stop taking, and how much more time I had now that I didn’t have to work out three hours a day just to keep the shape that I had bought in exchange for months of calorie counting.

“That’s amazing,” she said, but then added: “So, how long are you doing this for?”

Huh?

“I don’t know,” I responded, somewhat hurriedly and a little more defensively than I wanted to. “I’ve signed up for this eleven week thing. We’ll see how it goes.” (I am pretty sure at this point I also mentioned that my personal standard was 80% raw, though for three out of the last four days I’d managed to hit 100%, just in case she ever wanted to invite us out for dinner!)

“Eleven weeks, huh? That’s a long time.”

What was interesting to me about this whole exchange is that I hadn’t even crossed my mind that going raw (that is incorporating more raw food into my diet) had a stop date.

To me, choosing to eat uncooked food is just like the choice to go gluten-free: If gluten-makes you sick, you don’t eat it.

If eating raw food makes you feel better and helps you maintain your weight without having to spend three hours working out every single day, then you continue to eat it.

I also realized that in that brief exchange, that I have already adopted the identity of “raw foodist.”

It’s not really a label, per se, because I probably wouldn’t describe myself that way to anyone else. But it is how I’ve been thinking about myself. God knows I’ve spent enough time in the last four weeks obsessing over it! And I’ve spent more than enough money on information products and cookbooks to make the thought of exiting anytime soon down right painful.

So, back to the original question – which I thought was a good one – for how long? How long am I planning to do this?

Well, for as long as it takes – whatever that means.

The good news about being 80% raw (as opposed to 100%) is that you can still choose to be 100% most days. And on the days that you’re not? No one – including me – has to feel bad about it.

Amateur Fashion (strutting your stuff and changing your identity)

Tonight I am participating in my third amateur fashion show, sponsored by this super cool dress shop in White River Junction, VT: Revolution. Revolution is one of my favorite places to shop, not only because they showcase the work of local dressmakers, but also because the owner routinely makes runs to New York and consigns.

It’s fun, it’s hip, and it beats the heck out of all the department stores, which, in our neck of the woods, really are the only other option (and are, if you hate fluorescent lights and cheap mass manufactured clothes, not really an option at all). And I say that as a non-clothes snob. I’m also not a glamorous girly girl. In fact, I can honestly say that the last time I had make up on was during the last fashion show!

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So why would an almost 40, professor who wouldn’t couldn’t apply her own base if her life depended on it and who has body “issues” voluntarily sign up for an amateur fashion show?

Precisely because I am an almost 40, professor who wouldn’t couldn’t apply her own base if her life depended on it and who has body “issues”

So today, I will get to be a girl. And not just any girl, but a girly girl. I have an appointment to get my hair done at 3:30 and then make up at 4:30. There are a couple of hours to kill (probably drinking cheap wine and pizza [or my green stuff, salad and natural peanut butter sandwich that I plan to pack in]) with the other models – many of whom will be older than me!

The call for models sums it up:

WANTED:  Exhibitionist-type personalities to parade the Revolutionary fall collections! All shapes, sizes, ages & genders are encouraged to participate.

Prerequisite: You must be a little brave and pretty on the inside.

I don’t know that I am exhibitionist or all that brave, but there’s something incredibly liberating about wearing something that you might never normally wear, made up to the hilt, and just putting it out there. Essentially, what you’re doing is saying to the world: This is me! This is my body!

If you’ve ever struggled with body-image, there’s nothing more rewarding than sashaying down a catwalk and having hundreds of people (most of whom you’ve never met) cheering you on. There’s lights, there’s music. It’s fun. It’s invigorating. And, as this is my third in as many years, it’s also addictive.2895934129_f3ec85d1c0

This year, I am wearing two very different outfits. Michael J didn’t go with me this time to pick out clothes, thus he has no idea what the night will bring, so I won’t describe them here. But instead of the slinky dresses that I’d never be caught dead in off the runway that I’ve chosen in years past, this year I selected two outfits (one pants and a top and the other a sweater and skirt) that I could actually see myself in, like, on a daily basis.

As soon as I got home, I thought: why did you do that? Why didn’t you pick something crazy and out there?

Because, I realized, this year, I’m going as me! I don’t need to be in disguise. This year, I am going to tap into my exhibitionist side while wearing clothes that make me look and feel like myself! Scary, huh? I am going to be brave on the outside and pretty on the inside.

I am going to take my time on the catwalk, I’ll be as sexy as possible in my casual clothes, and most importantly, I’ll remember to smile!

Even if you think that this seems silly or out there, if you have a hip clothing store in your area that uses local “models” to highlight their fall and spring collections, sign up! It’s fun! It’s exciting! And it’s the quickest and possibly best opportunity to explore different ways of being in your body and seeing yourself in a new light. Besides, when’s the last time you walked in the room only to find hundreds of friendly faces cheering you on? It’s a total rush!

It’s really not about amateur fashion, it’s about reconstructing your view of yourself. Seriously, if you ever get the opportunity, take it! You won’t be sorry!

Alternate markers of health

I went to the doctor today and while the scale was up (I’m sure it was the shoes and the fleece!), my blood pressure was 106/50 and my heart rate was 42! Without a second glance, the nurse said something about how that’s a great resting heart rate, though not uncommon among athletes! I wanted to jump up and down like Rudolph after Clarice tells him he’s cute: She thinks I’m an athlete! She thinks I’m an athlete!timespacetoys_2066_102418502

Less of me to love or more of “me” per square inch?

I took my measurements today. The last time I took them was October 2008. The changes don’t look like much – an inch here, a half an inch there. Though I must admit that I am most pleased to announce that both of my thighs are finally less than 20 inches in circumference! (That’s one at a time, by the way, not combined)!

In order to be consistent, I take my measurements at the largest part of bust, the smallest part of my waist, the widest part of my hips, the biggest point on my flexed bicep (both right and left) and seven inches above each knee at the thigh. I use the Myo Tape Measure, as I find it’s the easiest way to take your measurements on your own and be relatively steady in terms of tension. In other words, it’s harder to cheat!

I used to to do it every three months or so, but I’ve gotten lazy.

Since everything had gone down a little (with the exception of my waist, which has remained stubbornly put), I was pretty pleased. But, out of curiosity I decided to go back a little further in my records.

Since July 2007, I have officially lost 24.25 inches! Wow. That’s two feet if you live in the U.S and just over 60.96 centimeters if you don’t!

Almost instantaneously, my little voice kicked in: Where did all of that go? Which part, exactly, is gone? What if that was the best part?

Luckily, before I made it out of the bathroom and into the kitchen with my hand outstretched for the cashews, I remembered what Michael assured me of last year when my weight was fluctuating.

Essentially, the message was this: I love you, either way. When you’re up, there’s more of you to love, but when you’re down, just think if it as more love for you, per square inch. It doesn’t matter what you weigh, you’re still you.

The cashews sit unmolested in their airtight container in the cabinet and all is well in my world.

Moving Toward v. Moving Away

I’ve been doing some learning about the way people make transformations or change in their lives. Typically people are motivated by their hopes and aspirations (that is, what they want to happen or that which they are moving toward) or their fears and frustrations (that is, what they don’t want to happen or continue happening, or that from which they are moving away).

As a general rule, people are much more likely to be motivated by their fears than by their aspirations. Part of that may be that they are unable to fully realize or envision their aspirations, whereas it’s much easier to imagine their greatest fears (especially if they are already living them).

When I started my weight release journey three years ago, I had a really hard time envisioning what I wanted to accomplish. Then, one day, I was over at a friend’s house and I was looking at a selection of framed photos of her around her living room.

“See, I was thin once,” she said matter of fact-ly. “When X is over, I will be again.”

I was floored. And jealous. And, in that moment, it hit me why it’d been so hard to visualize what I wanted. I had no pictures of myself as I wanted to be!

Now, when I was in Weight Watchers, my leader used to talk about visualization and about how you should find the body of your dreams from a magazine and then put your face on it. I also remember thinking: Give me a break!

When I realized that part of my inability to visualize had something to do with never having seen it (what can I say, I’m not a visual person), I decided that I was going to take Judi’s advice, albeit some twenty years after I first heard it. But I didn’t do it using magazines and scissors, I did it via modern technology. Five cheers for photo manips!

The first thing I did was find the photo. I ended selecting a stock photo of Jillian Michaels. I then had Michael take a picture of me standing in the same position, with my head tilted just so. He then used Photoshop (or some other similar software) to create a photo that we joking call KJillian!

The first time I looked at the photo, I had to look away. I thought, ‘How embarrassing.’ In fact, it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that it literally hurt to look at it. Seriously, the dissonance was staggering. I literally had to keep it in a manila folder on my kitchen counter. However, over the course of a week, I got used to seeing myself like that. And as the image became more familiar to me, it also became more believable! Eventually, I put it up on the refrigerator.

Just as an aside, my little sister came over, looked at it and then looked at me and said, without batting an eyelash, “How did your head get on Jillian Michael’s body?” I told her. “Cool,” she said. Apparently not so embarrassing after all.

If you don’t have a picture about what you want to achieve (either in reality or in your mind’s eye), create one. Seriously. I’ll admit: thought it was the cheesiest thing in the world when it was first suggested to me, but it was incredibly powerful. In fact, it got to the point that when I would take pictures of myself (in similar clothes and in a similar position), I thought that they looked odd, which motivated me to move my reality towards the image in my head.

The same thing is true, by the way, if you have an image in your head of what you don’t want to be; you will become that. Remember, the one of the strongest human drives is self-consistency! My problem was, previously, that I saw myself as heavy or as someone who was 30 pounds overweight, so that’s what I created (over and over again). Bottom line: get rid of the bad images and bring on the good – even if you have to stoop to using Photoshop to do it!

Now that I have a solid image in my mind of what I want to move towards (that is, my head on Jillian Michael’s body or something similar), I sometimes also use moving away from – especially when I need a good kick in the pants, like a I did the day before yesterday, when I just could not get myself moving.

First, just writing that blog post helped, because I hate to admit that I can’t do something.

Second, I have a pair of pants that I bought at a consignment store. Technically they fit; however, I would never go out in public with them fitting the way they fit at the moment. Ironically, they are the smallest pair of pants that I own, but they make me look huge because they’re so tight.

Essentially, these are the “get leverage on yourself” or the “moving away from” pants. I put those on (to say that I just slipped into them would be a bald faced lie!) and all it took was five minutes standing in front of the mirror to get me down on the NordicTrack, followed up by my moving towards: Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred.

Are you a moving towards person or a moving away person? If you are primarily one, I strongly suggest mixing it up when you need a little extra motivation!

And if you don’t have a picture of what you want to achieve, get one – even if, especially if, you have to make it yourself!

Living an undivided life – Part 3

(Continued from Part 2)

The day that I reached my weight loss goal, I called the lovely fitness coach as promised. Once I had reintroduced myself, I told her the good news.

She seemed genuinely happy for me. And we spent a few minutes just celebrating my accomplishment.

After the initial euphoria (she really did seem as pleased for me as I was for myself), I cleared my throat and I said, “I have a confession to make. And, more to the point, I owe you an apology.”

She seemed surprised. “Really?”

Essentially, I gave her a recap of everything that I had been thinking about her (and skinny women in general). Then, I apologized for making that rude gaffe when 1) I asked her how much she weighed and 2) then promptly shaking my head and wrinkling my nose in disgust and lying: “Oh, I’d never want to be that skinny.”

“Did you say that?!” she asked.

“Oh yes,” I admitted. “And I was lying like a dog. In fact, I wouldn’t mind looking exactly like you. You’re gorgeous.”

She laughed. “I don’t remember you saying that,” she assured. “But then again, when that stuff happens — and it does — I really don’t take that on.”

It was my turn to be surprised. “Excuse me?”

“Well,” she began kindly, “that’s really about you, isn’t it? It really has nothing to do with me. Whenever someone says something like that, I just don’t take it on. You can’t really.”

I was flabbergasted. She may not be able to, but I certainly do.

Or more importantly, I used to.

I’ve had people say really ugly things to me during my weight loss process (as well as during other cycles of what I see as positive self-change) — hurtful things, non-supportive things. And I always took them on. And I felt bad and I worried. And sometimes I felt bad enough and worried enough that I ended up sabotaging myself in order to make my friends feel better.

But the coach is full of gifts it seems — and I realize, in retrospect, that all of the hurtful things that people say to me (just like the hurtful thing I said to her) are about them, not me. Just as my own rudeness was not about her, but about me. It was all me. And she was right not to take it on.

Needless to say, there’s something very powerful about being honest with yourself to the point of being able to be completely honest with others. There was also something extremely powerful about realizing that you’re wrong and taking the steps to own up to and apologize to those you have been wronged — not by anything that they’ve done in terms of their own self-change — but by those things that you’ve done.

Remember that old childhood rhyme — I’m rubber, you’re glue? I know that I must have sang it frequently as a child, but apparently it hadn’t stuck as an adult. Think about it before you criticize someone else. And if it turns out that you are projecting your own insecurities, own up to it. And don’t be afraid to apologize.

Living an undivided life – Part 2

( Part 1)

At the end the the King talk, on honesty, he challenged us to a 24 hour challenge, during which you could only be unflinchingly honest. No lies. Not even the little white ones. Total and absolute honesty.

Okay, I thought. I’m pretty honest. How hard can it be?

At the break, I went a product table, where they were selling all kinds of things ranging from Time Management Tools, Leadership CDs, Relationship Programs, and Weight Loss Products. I had a couple of questions about a 10 Day Cleanse that I had bought the day before. I’d never done one before — still haven’t the truth be told. There was also a weight loss supplement package that I was curious about, but eventually didn’t buy.

The person behind the counter was a woman who I had noticed at the beginning of the weekend. She was skinny (and therefore I had written her off as relatively stupid and bitchy; see Part 1). But, if that wasn’t bad enough, she was also very feminine. One of these ultra-feminine girlie girls. Make up, scarves, gypsy pants, low cut tops, exotic jewelry. She didn’t walk, she glided. She didn’t make sudden turns, she flowed. She was dramatic. She was also truly drop dead stunningly gorgeous.

I, of course, hated her on sight and was horrified at the thought about having to ask her anything about my weight issues.

“May I help you?” she asked in this fabulous British/Welsh accent. (Could life be any more unfair?)

I gave her another look and figured that she certainly looked like she’d know what she was talking about and asked her about the weight loss product, which consisted mainly of various dietary supplements, herbs, and teas.

She looked me up and down. “And how much would you like to lose?”

“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I weigh 151 now.”

“Well, what would you like to weigh?”

I looked her up and down. “What do you weigh?”

She glanced down and then back at me. “I weigh about 135.”

“Well, I wouldn’t want to be that skinny!” I denied, suddenly mortified that I had asked this beautiful woman how much she weighed!

(End flashback!)

Whoa! As I told my partner about the exchange the following week, I realized that not only had I been ruder than hell, I had also told a bald-faced lie. Twenty-four hours? Sorry Mr. King, I hadn’t even made it twenty-four minutes! I’ll come back to this later.

(Resume flashback)

She looked nonplussed for about a sixteenth of a second. “Well?”

“Maybe 140,” I ventured, thinking surely that she’s laugh.

“Well, you’re almost there then aren’t you. That’s just ten pounds.”

She then proceeded to sketch out a weight loss plan on the back of a note card; turns out she’s a fitness coach, among other things. A very generous one at that who gave me a lot of free advice. Free advice that worked! She also gave me her phone number to call when I was done in six weeks (her estimate, not mine, of how long it would take).

I’ve mentioned this before, but she essentially told me to cut my calories to 1,200, keep exercising, and when I’d lost five pounds, gain three back, then lose another five pounds, gain three back, and so on. So, since I was at 151, stay at 1,200 calories a day until I hit 146, then pop up to 1,500-2,000 until I hit 149, then go back down to 1,200 until I hit 144, then back up until I hit 147, and so on! It worked. In six weeks, I’d dropped 12 pounds. And using the same technique, I have maintained a two pound spread around my desired weight for over a month!

So let’s get back to the lie: Just in case you hadn’t figured it out, I didn’t think she was too skinny. In fact, I did want to be that skinny! Hell, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that I wanted to look just like her, gypsy pants, high heeled boots and all! But I thought that if I expressed that, she’d take one look at me, laugh, and snort (elegantly, of course), “And what makes you think you could ever look like me?”

Why wouldn’t she? Hadn’t I said the same thing to myself on several occasions with a lot less compassion? Hadn’t I said the same thing every time I had looked at someone I thought was attractive and called them a stupid, skinny bitch? Hadn’t I said the same thing every time I looked at the mirror and called myself fat? And, albeit less harshly, hadn’t I said the same thing when I said that I was only losing weight to be fit? Hell, I was fit. My resting heart rate was (and still is) 48! Why hadn’t I ever been able to admit the truth: I wanted to be skinny! There was some part of me that wanted to be a little, skinny, girlie girl. There, I said it!

And for the first time in my life, I had been honest about why I wanted to lose weight.

And, perhaps not coincidentally, for the first time in my life, I have been successful in reaching and maintaining my desired goal.

(Continued in Part 3)

Try on Something Really Outside of Your Comfort Zone

I don’t know about everyone else, but I tend to have a certain style. It may not be particularly stylish, but it’s a style and I like it. More to the point, I am comfortable with it. However, when I look in the mirror and I’m wearing the same style of clothes that I used to wear, I often don’t see any difference whatsoever in my physique. Essentially, I look the same, because the shape of my clothes looks the same.

Recently I have really been pushing the envelope. I wrote earlier in about my low riding boot cut jeans. I have also traded in t-shirts for tanks, and floor length skirts for shorter ones that show off the legs a little.

But the other day, I actually went and tried on some very fitted evening gowns. The first one was lovely, it looked like me and it fit really well. I loved it.

But my attention kept getting pulled back to this floor length snake skin looking, slinky sheath that I thought wouldn’t fit on my right thigh without a wedge.

Luckily I hadn’t gone shopping alone. A women who is in my spinning class was there as well and she said, “I think you should go ahead and try it on. You might be surprised.”

Well, I did. It fit like a glove–as opposed to a sausage casing. It was stunning; more to the point, I was stunning. I stood there in the middle of the dress shop and stared in the mirror like a five year old in her first Easter dress. We (the dress and I, that is) were glorious. I had no idea my body could look like that. I could finally see what other people had been talking about. I stood there with my mouth open as all of the sounds in the dress shop faded into nothingness.

Fortunately for me I know the owner of the dress shop. Also fortunate for me, the dress was a used vintage evening gown as opposed to a new one. Luckily for me, they couldn’t find the dress in the database. And even luckier, the owner is a lovely, generous woman who–I think–realized that I was seeing myself for the first time. She sold it to me for $30!

So, where are you possibly going to wear this dress, you might be asking. Well, I’ve been asked to participate in a student fashion show on campus; not only will I get to wear the dress, I’ll also get free make-up and hair! So not only will be all slinky and sleek; I’ll also be colorful and girly!

So get outside of your comfort zone; you might be pleasantly surprised!