Archive for the ‘positive thinking’ 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.

The Power of Framing

I was driving to work this morning and the odometer flipped to my – up until that exact moment – least favorite number in the world: 232.5

For those of you who know me (or have been following this blog from the beginning) 232.5 is my all time highest weight. I remember clearly stepping on the scale at a Weight Watcher’s meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and having my classmate’s mother (who must happened to be the leader) call it out like it was no big deal. I was absolutely horrified.

To this day, I see that number – or at least the 232 part – on digital clocks, odometers, timers, cardio machines, etc, weekly, if not daily! And every time I would get this sick feeling in my stomach that was probably the result of some residual of the self-hatred, embarrassment, and shame that I felt then.

When I saw that number today, however, instead of the sick feeling that I normally experience I thought, “Wow, that’s the number that changed my life!” It was that number – that 232.5 – that launched my 24 year (more or less) journey of healthy eating and exercise.

The 98 pounds in third grade hadn’t managed it, nor had the 188 in eighth grade. But for whatever reason, 232.5 in eleventh grade did. I’m not sure if it was my age, the officialness of it, the way it was delivered (so casually, slotted in between questions about my classes), or the fact that I had a social connection – albeit a weak one – to the bearer of the “bad” news.

So this morning, I actually felt gratitude when I saw that number. Because if I hadn’t seen that number so many years ago – in that manner and at that perfect point in time – my life could have been very different. And chances are, it would have been a heck of a lot less healthy, rewarding, and fun!

The next time I see it – probably sometime tomorrow if the pattern holds – instead of closing my eyes and waiting for it to pass, I will close my eyes and, instead, offer a moment of deep and heartfelt gratitude.

I haven’t lost the fight, but the struggle is gone

For as long as I can remember, I have fought with my body. I have gone to the mat on a daily basis, literally as well as figuratively, in my attempt to lose weight.

A week or so ago, I decided to to try a new thought experiment – I was no longer going to have negative thoughts about my body. Whenever the stray negative thought did come into play, I would immediately let it go and focus, instead, on how amazing my body is. Because the human body, no matter what condition it’s in, it is truly amazing. If you stop and think about it – really think about what it does for you and what it allows you to do – it’s not only amazing, it’s awe-inspiring.

I had originally said that I was going to try this for a month; but after just a couple of weeks, I realize that this is a habit that I will cultivate for a lifetime.

My relationship with my body, with food, and exercise has become so simple. So easy. I no longer feel like I am fighting against myself or trying to force my body to do something that it doesn’t want to or can’t do. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am aligned with my body. My body and I are on the same team.

Yesterday I came home and I thought, “I have to exercise, because I only did yoga and K-bells and no cardio; I only burned 250 calories this morning!” But then I sat down and really got in touch with how I was feeling. I was tired. Truly and utterly exhausted. It wasn’t laziness, it was the natural response to being out on the world after too many weeks of being closeted at home. Instead of forcing myself to get up and do something, I meditated.

For those of you know me, please get up off the floor! I know you must think that the world is coming to an end about now what with the daily yoga (which also is awesome) and meditation, but try to contain your laughter and disbelief!

When I got up from where I had been sitting – quiet, eyes closed – for a little over thirty minutes, I felt truly refreshed. I actually felt better, but I still didn’t exercise, wanting to maintain the sense of renewal and the feeling of being truly at peace with myself and, seriously, my body.

Suffice it to say that I think the experiment is working. I can’t imagine what else it would be. It’s made such a huge difference. The fight-to-the-death-struggle that used to dominate my waking (and sometimes sleeping hours) around food and exercise is gone. Does that mean that I am doing whatever I want in terms of food and exercise? No, it means that for the first time in my life, I’m aligned with my body, I am listening to my body, and I am making more reasoned and loving decisions for us both.

Even if you think that I must have pulled something serious during my last plough to shoulder stand, I invite you to try this; it works: whenever you start to think any negative thoughts about yourself or your body, stop them as soon as they register, let them go, and acknowledge just how amazing you and your body truly are. Not how amazing that it would be if you lost another 15, 20, 30 pounds, but as it is at this moment! I think you’ll be surprised. I was.

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!