Archive for the ‘weight loss’ Category

A good visual on why raw is easier on the digestion than cooked…

…though why taking plant-based enzymes will do in a pinch!

This is a short video from Holistic Nutritionist Rose Cole. Check it out! It’s pretty amazing. It sort of reminded me of being back in my high school chemistry class! Ah, the nostalgia of it.

And, even if you’re not interested in better digestion (or weight loss or having more energy), it will answer that question that you’ve always had – but were too polite to ask – about what really happens to corn after you eat it! I’ll just stop there in order to preserve the sensibilities of my readers, but I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about!

Note: depending on your bandwidth, you might want to let the video load up completely before watching it! Enjoy!

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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.

Eight Fat Fighting Foods (and other tips from Self)

Check them out here.

And don’t forget to follow their other links as well – especially the one on stress fighting superfoods!

Learning to listen (and to trust)

Some days I can live quite easily by the six small meals a day rule – you know the one, eat every two or three hours, something small, between 200-300 calories. In fact, that’s usually my preferred manner of eating.

But other days, it just doesn’t work for me.

Yesterday, in case you’re wondering, was one of the days that it just didn’t work out.

Let’s start at the beginning; why should we learn to listen to our bodies when it comes to food?

To put it simply, the body knows what it wants when it wants it. If you listen to your body (and not your emotions, the clock, your social calendar, or your friends) very rarely will you be led astray in terms of food. The trick is, distinguishing what your body wants from what your mind, your emotions, and the culture say you want.

When your body sends you a clear message – even if it doesn’t jive with the “expert” advice – listen to it. If not, you’ll be more likely to feel deprived, throw in the towel, and decide that the so-called experts don’t know much of anything. In fact, some of the experts know quite a bit, but they don’t necessarily know you. Not like you do. So if your body is telling you that it wants a certain amount of something or a particular something and you’ve done everything else right – drank some water, took a fifteen minute walk, took three deep breaths, ate some carrots or some other super low calorie food – then you should go ahead and have it. Because once it becomes a must in your mind, it’s too late. Have it, get it out of your system, let it go, and then move on.

As I said above: yesterday was one of those days.

Looking at my food diary for the last two (almost three years) it’s clear to see that my preferred intake of calories is between 1,500 and 1,800. When I’m trying to release weight – or if I’m just calibrating before or after a big dinner or a week with my parents – I tend to purposefully drop my calorie intake down to around 1,200. Some days it’s lower than that (closer to a 1,000) though sometimes it’s higher (closer to 1,400).

It’s rare that I have a day over 2,200; but it’s happened.

Yesterday I was starving. I’m not sure why. My calories the day before had been low, but not that low. Maybe it was the fact that I have moved back to my school schedule and have been getting up at 5:00 instead of 6:30 or 7:00. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time out in the world lately, whereas I have spent most of the summer at home.

Regardless, I was ravenous. And even trying to do everything “right,” I still had polished off 1,100 calories before noon! (For those of you who aren’t good at math, let me help: that’s 73% of my preferred daily calorie intake – all before lunch.)

As it turned out, I actually had a pretty good food day despite the rough start. And when I went to bed at 10:30, I had actually only consumed 1.442 calories. You might be thinking, 342 calories isn’t all that much for twelve hours! And you might also be thinking about how the body goes into starvation mode when it hasn’t had anything to eat in over three or four hours. And you’d be right.

But in the spirit of listening to my body, I wasn’t hungry again until 4:30, when I had a medium braeburn apple and some carrots. Then, a few hours later, I had a bowl of lentil soup (massive protein and fiber hit) and a glass of petite syrah.

Then, after a couple of more hours during which I consumed a couple of cups of herbal tea, I went to bed and started over today.

Today, I have been back to what the experts recommend. It’s almost 4:00 and I’ve had four small meals.

I had my normal breakfast (255 calories), one of my normal snacks (240 calories), an apple (80 calories), one of my typical lunches (280 calories). And, notably, these have been spaced out every couple of hours or so.

The moral of this story: if you have a “bad” day, go ahead and have it. It’s just a day. Trust your body to know what it wants when it wants it. But also trust yourself to know that tomorrow is a new day and you – more than anyone else – know what you need to do get back on track.

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.

Getting my groove back

Usually my summers are the time that I reconnect with my body, the last two years through doing P90X with my favorite workout partner and really getting serious about food.

Not this summer.

This summer has been about travel and disruption. It’s been about illness (my 19 year old cat had a stroke two months ago). It’s been about tubing and fluids and shots. In all fairness, it’s also been about vacations, wine tours and the forsaking of valued identities (that is, spinning instructor) for the sake of overall balance in my body.

In some ways, this summer has felt like more of a struggle than the spring, even though I was overwhelmed with work in the months of March, April, and June in ways that I am simply not at the moment. There’s still a lot of work to do, more than I have time for in fact, but the deadlines aren’t as frenetic. The penalties for not getting it done seem less severe.

I made three trips to California (from the east coast) in the last two months; two with Michael and one alone. On these trips, I learned how to pack food and exercise gear for travel. I learned how to use my new iPhone to broadcast via Twitter (KJLively), though I couldn’t quite manage to blog remotely, hence the long gaps on occasion. I also learned how to use the mapping function to find grocery stores and how to make salads in hotel rooms with cutlery borrowed from in-house restaurants or once, when I was desperate, lifted off of someone’s room service tray that had been left in the hall. I washed the knife with shampoo and dried it with a washcloth. I learned to travel with a blender and, when necessary, how to pack soy milk for shakes in airtight containers in my checked baggage. I made peanut butter sandwiches ahead of time and sealed them in baggies before placing them in hard plastic containers for safe keeping.

I lost track of calories at weddings and conferences, mostly through my consumption of alcohol. However, I also learned the finer points of most cardio machines in most hotel fitness rooms. I can get my heart rate up and keep it there on a treadmill going 3.6 miles an hour (a brisk walk) on an incline of 6. The recumbent bike – somewhat surprisingly – is harder than it looks. And the StairMaster – somewhat ironically – is less so.

Now that I am home, I am attempting to revisit my old routines. The nordic track, followed by K-Bells (either Cardio Balanced or Total Body Blast) or Jillian Michaels (either the 30 or No More Trouble Zones). I am also using my foam roller once or twice a day to smooth out the knots in my abductors and tennis balls to dissolve the rocks in my calves.

Throughout all this, my body is changing and not always in ways that I would chose.

I keep trying to skirt around negative words like “losing ground”, “getting old” and “betrayed” and use more positive words such as “journey”, “process”, “maturing,” and “natural”, instead. I know it’s all in the framing! Luckily I have good friends around to remind me when I slip up and return to old patterns, only to engage in the familiar ritual of self-recrimination.

Needless to say, I am not going for perfection at the moment, but I am trying to take my victories where I can find them.

Tonight, I bent at the waist and – keeping my legs straight – touched the floor. I didn’t scrape the floor with the tips of my fingers, mind you. Instead, I put my whole palms on the floor. I’ve never been able to do that. I went downstairs and immediately showed Michael. His response: It will be worth trying that again in the morning!

You know what? It’s progress and I’ll take it.

Tired of water? Mix it up (and drink it down)

No matter whether it’s six or eight glasses a day, it’s common knowledge that the body needs water to function properly – it is primarily made of water after all! When you’re dieting or trying to lose fat, it’s even more important to drink water, as it’s the water (and the associated lymph) that carries all of that fat out of the system! When you drink lots of water (another recommendation is half of your body weight in ounces), you’re also less likely to be hungry, less likely to overeat or to fill up on junk in order to feel more energetic. The latter is especially true because water actually gives you energy by removing all of the toxic stuff out of your body! And if that wasn’t enough of a why, it also improves skin elasticity and makes you look younger!

Even though I know that drinking water is just as important (if not more so) as maintaining a healthy food diet and getting regular exercise, it tends to be the first thing I let slip when I’m tired or stressed. It’s ridiculous. Why would I stop doing something that’s so simple, especially when it gets me such great results? It’s particularly stupid because I’ll exercise and not drink enough water, which leads to an even more advanced stage of dehydration. Now a lot of people think that they’re not dehydrated because they’re not thirsty. Thirst is a warning sign! When you start feeling thirsty, it’s too late. Most nutritionists recommend that you take a sip of water every fifteen minutes! Whether you feel thirsty or not!

So why would I not drink water? Why might you not be drinking enough?

Personally, I get bored. It’s not that I don’t like the taste of water; I do. But then again I have a well and am not dependent on city tap water, which does (unfortunately) come in a variety of flavors, largely based on your location! But filters do work wonders and there are a number available all at varying price-points for sale on-line.

But, when I am legitimately tired of water, I do sub in other options that still count as water. So, how to get more water into your diet?

As I mentioned before, I make protein shakes. I tend to mix the protein powder and liquid with two trays of ice cubes; although frozen, ice does count as water! You even burn more calories because your body has to bring it up to temperature!

Another way to make water more exciting is just to simply make up a pitcher of ice water and cucumber slices and let the flavor seep in. I had this at a spa recently and it was fabulous! Unbelievably refreshing! Since then, I’ve seen people do the same thing with fresh mint, fresh blackberries or fresh raspberries.

My personal favorite, especially in the winter months (which, unfortunately are back on the horizon) is to drink caffeine-free herbal tea. Stay away from decaffeinated coffees or black tea, which contain marginal amounts of caffeine, as well as all of the residual chemicals that it took to decaffeinate it to begin with! This works especially well for me because you can really mix up the flavors and you can mess with the intensity and sweetness by varying the steeping time as well as the amount of sweetener (if any) that you use. My favorite sweetener is Stevia Plus, by Sweet Leaf. Stevia Plus is an all natural supplement that contains no saccharin, Nutrasweet, aspartame, refined sugar, maltodextrin fructose, or any artificial sweeteners of any kind! It’s called plus, because it also contains inulin fiber (F.O.S.) which selectively nourished the friendly bacteria (lactobaciilus and bifidobacteria) in the intestines!

During the winter I tend to drink eight to ten cups of herbal tea a day! I drink a number of brands, but my house tea is Celestial Seasonings. 1) It’s cheap (as am I). 2) There are a ton of flavors so I am less likely to get bored. 3) There is minimal packaging – they are the ones that don’t use strings or tags!

And for those who can’t imagine drinking hot tea in the summer (or are too impatient to brew it hot and then ice it), they have just come out with a product that steeps in cold water in just five minutes! Unfortunately only of of these is caffeine-free, but I’m hopeful they’ll expand the line if it’s a success! Or with enough push-back from interested buyers!

Another way I get my water in is to drink my green stuff mixed in 24 ounces of water! Again, cold improves the taste. Sometimes I toss the glass into the freezer for 15 minutes or I mix it with ice.

And, finally, a fourth way I get water in when I’m bored is to drop in a couple of nuun tablets in a quart sized Sigg bottle. Nuuns are electrolyte-enhance sports drink tabs, which I drink while I exercise, especially if I am doing something that is going to involve a lot of sweat. Six calories per tablet; all are caffeine free with the exception of the cola flavored one, which has about as much caffeine as a cup of green tea. So, although it doesn’t count as water, per say, because of the caffeine, it does actually taste enough like cola to kill the craving (that is, if you have craving for cola). Personally, the lemon-lime and ginger orange are my favorite!

So, if you find yourself feeling sluggish or overly hungry during the day, ask yourself the following question: How much water have I had today?

And if you’re not even close to 1/2 your body weight in ounces, drink some water! If you don’t like water (or think you don’t) because it doesn’t taste like anything, try something new to jazz it up. And you’d be surprised. Just as it does with sugar, the more water you drink, the more your body will want.

Let me know what you come up with!

Scale-less dieting

I realized the other day that I haven’t been on a scale in two months. Actually, the last time was June 17, so technically it’s been a little over two months. That’s the longest time I’ve been off a scale in years! Does that mean I’m not dieting or watching my weight or maintaining (or whatever you want to call it)? No; it means I am dieting/maintaining/releasing without being tied to a meaningless number!

Given that most people who are actively involved in monitoring their own or others’ weight either propose weighing once a day or once a week, why would I choose to do it without a scale? More importantly, why would I suggest that you try it as well?

Practical whys first:

  • I don’t have a scale. I always used one at the gym. When I started working out at home this summer, I decided that it just seemed silly to waste the gas and the time to go to the gym just to weigh myself.
  • I also didn’t want to buy a scale, because I know that the one at the gym – which I have used diligently for the last five years – is at least consistent! I also have to wonder how many scales find themselves either being used as a doorstop or at the bottom of a landfill!

Once I got past the weirdness of not weighing myself, I found myself looking for other markers of success. Did my gut look bigger in the mirror? What are my measurement? How are my clothes fitting? Was the yoga easier or harder today? Was my heart rate up or down since the last time I did this workout DVD? How many days out of the last 7, 14, 21, 28 or even 100 did I have a calorie deficit (I may have stopped weighing, but I love counting calories; I am a total calorie geek)! When was the last time I had a high fat, high sugar dessert? How many weeks in the last 3 months have I had wine two nights in a row? How many times last month (I am also a big proponent of keeping track of exercise) did I do weight training in addition to cardio? Once I stopped focusing on the one number – which fluctuates like a demon depending on what I eat and the time of day, not to mention the time of the month! – it opened up space for me to also realize what really matters.

So, onto the quasi-theoretical whys:

  • Once I gave up the scale, I was able to get real on what mattered and why. Does it really matter if I weigh 145 pounds instead of 140 or 135? Not really. What really matters is whether my clothes fit and the degree and frequency I am putting junk into my body. What also really matters is that I continue working on being as fit and flexible as I can possibly be.
  • Giving up the scale makes it easier to forgive yourself when you make choices that don’t necessarily support your goals. That doesn’t mean that giving up on the scale automatically signs you up for a crash course in self-acceptance (as my post earlier this week revealed), but it does force you to seek out signs of progress, rather than setting your sights on a single number, which may or may not be attainable in a week or even ten days!

So, how do you diet without a scale? Easy. If you have a scale, toss it. If you don’t have a scale, don’t get one.

Now, I realize that if you’re going to Weight Watchers or some other organization that requires weekly weigh-ins, you have to weigh. But have you thought about asking your leader to write it down without telling you and leaving your card at the meeting place? Or could you trust yourself not to look and to put the booklet into it’s plastic sleeve (do they still even have those) and chuck it into your glove compartment?

I remember doing this when I was at Weight Watchers as a teen – mainly because I couldn’t stand it if I gained weight. I hated it and I hated myself (more on the dangers of self-loathing later). And, not surprisingly, when I was in that emotional space it was easier to want to give up.  It was also easier to self-sabotage, because even though it was me I was talking about, why would I want someone I hated to actually succeed?  Further, during the weeks that the weight was climbing no matter how rigorously I stuck to the plan (and there were many of those during my 90 pound weight loss if for no other reason than the body is very smart and extremely efficient at adapting to dietary changes and – you guessed it – storing fat!) there was something powerful (and not in a good way) about seeing the numbers – usually written in indelible ink – steadily rising. There was something about actually seeing the numbers get bigger that led me to believe that that’s just the way that it was.  The plateaus seemed more real somehow. More insurmountable.  But I digress.

So, once you’ve figured out how to be scaleless (if not in reality, than in consequence) pick the outcomes you really want to achieve. Do you want to consistently use more calories than you consume? Do you want to improve the quality of your skin? Do you want to add muscle mass and get stronger?  Do you want to look good in your clothes or wear a different size? Do you want to be healthier or have more flexibility? Do you want to be able to walk up the stairs without being winded or to turn heads when you walk in the door? Do you want to get off of your high blood pressure medication or lower your risk of type II diabetes?  Do you want to have a better hip to waist ratio?  Do you want to run a half maraton – or a marathon – before your 40th birthday?  Or do a triathlon before you turn 50?

These are the things that are important.  These are the things that matter and therefore the things that will keep you on track!  The number on the scale?  That’s just cultural conditioning.

What’s really more motivating, weighing 135 or having the energy to chase your grand kids (assuming you have grand kids) around the park?

Then do what you need to do in order to meet the goals that matter to you.  It may be counting calories, it may be consistently exercising.  If you’re already dieting, just try taking a break from the scale.  Don’t take a break from the diet, just ditch the scale for a while.  And pick things that matter as your new source of accountability and motivation!

So, last Sunday, I told you that I’d tell you how bad it was  – that is, my own diet detour into Mendocino County.  You might be thinking, how the heck are you going to do that if 1) you haven’t been on a scale in two months and 2) don’t have access to one?

Easy.  My gut looks smaller than it did on Sunday.  My KJ Jr.  size 16 girls Lands End pants are tighter than they were when I left.  My sixes still fit so it can’t be that bad; however, to be honest, I haven’t bothered with the fours.

My American Eagle short shorts with a 2 (maybe 3) inch inseam still look like crap (so nothing new there).

I just bought a super cute form fitting Ann Taylor dress at a consignment store to wear to my cousin’s wedding.

My yoga routine was pretty darn good this morning and my heart rate seemed to be a little bit lower today during my cardio workout than it was on Monday.

And, yes, I told you I am a calorie junkie, a quick glance at my food diary tells me that out of the last 21 days, 17 had calorie deficits that ranged anywhere from -13 to -1016!  Not too shabby!

I had been thinking about this post for a while but I held off from writing it because I thought, no one is going to throw their scales away!  But then I bought this amazing book (title withheld until I have finished it) where the woman starts off with a pretty simple message: Get rid of the scale!  I thought, awesome, I like her already!  Her thing is that it’s not about losing weight fast, it’s about keeping it off for a life-time.  As it turns out, this book seems to be full of little gems, many of which resonate with my approach, but many of which seem to supply the missing pieces that I’ve been looking for.

Once I finish it, I’ll review it and probably end up recommending it!  It’s fun, it’s easy to read, and it’s only $27.00!  And in terms of the quality of information?  I got my money’s worth in the first three pages alone!  When was the last time you could say that about a book?

So, off to read and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

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?

10 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing That Weight

via Women’s Health!

thanks for the tip, Laura!

Finally, a Real Age tip I can get behind!

For all of those people who have laughed at my monster salads and shakes!

Finding the “Why”

The other day someone asked me why I was so motivated to maintain my weight release (or, using more conventional terms, weight loss).  Now they didn’t come out and just say, “Why do you want to not regain your thirty pounds?”  It was more along the lines of, “Why are you so committed to exercising, when you’ve already reached your goal weight?”

I sat there for a moment stumped, because I really hadn’t thought about it in a while or, to be honest, ever! I used to have a really good list of reasons why when I first started changing my body three years ago, but I hadn’t really given it much attention – if any – since I had achieved my goal.

Before I tell you what you what my “whys” are regarding my body, let’s spend a couple of minutes on why the “whys” – no matter who you are or what you’re doing – are critical.

When you have a clear reason why you’re doing something the following are true:

  • You’re more likely to accomplish it.
  • You’re better able to garner support from those around you.
  • You feel better about sticking to your goals, which, subsequently, boosts not only your self-confidence, but also your self-esteem!

When you don’t have a clear reason why you’re doing something, the converse it true:

  • You’re less likely to accomplish your goals
  • You encounter more resistance from those around you who don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • You become resentful about the ongoing discipline being successful requires, which undermines not only your progress, but also your self-discipline, your self-esteem, and your day-to-day mood!

The point of this being, it’s just as important to know why you’re doing something as it is to know what you want to accomplish, because the why is the motivation, the fuel, the justification, the reason you’re doing what you’re doing.  Knowing the why and being able to articulate it to others, as well as to yourself, is crucial because recent scholarship in teaching and learning suggests that 30% of the population are why learners.  This means that 30% of your potential sources of social support tune you out if you start with the what.  So, if you say, “It’s really important to me to drop this weight,” and someone says, “Why?”, you need to be able to tell them.  Because if you can’t, they won’t hear anything else you have to say about you and your weight and fitness goals.  And just imagine what might happen if you yourself is part of that 30% that needs a compelling motivation before they can learn (or act)!  Trust me, find your why and learn to articulate to yourself, as well as to others!

So just to give you an idea of how to get serious about finding the why, let me tell you how I rediscovered mine.

Basically, I waited until I had a chunk of time with no distractions.   I got a blank piece of paper and a pen (I chose this method as I tend to self-censure if I’m typing in a way that I don’t when I’m writing by hand!) and wrote at the top: Reasons Why I Want to Maintain My Current Weight and put the date on it.  I sat there for a moment, looking at the blank sheet of paper – and actually drawing a blank – until I came up with a reason.  And let me just say, as soon as the ink hit the paper, it was like a dam had broken.  In less than 10 minutes, I had come up with over thirty reasons – some of them better than others in the cosmic sense – of why I was truly and unequivocally committed to maintenance.  (Interestingly, I also gleaned some insight into why I don’t like the term “maintenance’, but that’s another post!)  And, just in case you’re wondering, since I’ve done this, my commitment to maintain has gotten stronger and I’ve been able to marshal more support from my already super supportive partner, MJ.

I’m not going to write out all thirty, but I’ll give you a few examples just to give you an idea.

Reasons Why I Want to Maintain My Weight (July 21, 2009)

  • To avoid re-injuring my knee
  • To have more energy
  • To be healthy
  • To get  compliments (sad, I know)
  • To be a better role model for my Little Sister
  • To feel good about myself
  • To succeed
  • To wear fun clothes
  • To be able to wear whatever I want
  • To not have to re-buy all of the clothes I’ve gotten rid of

You get the general idea.  As I said, some reasons are better than others, but I put them all down.  Notably, and somewhat ironically, this list isn’t that much different than the one I had made three years ago entitled “Why I Want to Lose Weight.”  What does that tell you?

If you’re trying to accomplish something – anything! – and you haven’t gotten real on your whys, I highly recommend that you sit down with a sheet of paper (or at the keyboard) and do this simple exercise.  It’s easy.  It’s quick.  And it is guaranteed to get you where you want to be.  Or, if you’re in my position, it’s guaranteed to keep you there!

Let me know how it goes!

Drop the “us v. them” when it comes to skinny people!

Why do people tend to turn everything into us versus them?

Well, one reason is that it simplifies things. It makes it easier to navigate the social world. Basically, it’s a cookie cutter way (or short cut) to make snap judgments about people. I, myself, have been guilty of making judgments about people who I would term as “skinny,” as you may recall from previous posts. One of the assumptions that I make about all skinny people, whether it’s true or not, is that they are naturally skinny.

Why is this a dangerous assumption to make?

When you turn someone into a “them” as opposed to an “us” you automatically separate yourself from them; you essentially take them off your team. You also make them somehow different from you.

When you assume that all skinny people who are, in your mind, “naturally skinny,” you end up giving yourself permission to fail. This is because your mind automatically takes the next step by saying, “They are naturally skinny. Because you are not naturally skinny, you shouldn’t compare yourself to them.”

When this happens, you will fail to meet your weight goals – that is, to be skinny yourself! Or whatever your goal happens to be.

This insight isn’t new. It stems from an old theory in social psychology called social identity theory. Social identity theory shows that when faced with an appreciable difference, people tend to establish in- and out- groups (e.g., “us v. them”) on even the most trivial or minimal differences. (And I am assuming that if you have any weight to lose at all, weight is not a trivial issue for you!) When this happens, individuals start to dis-identify with the out-group (in this case, skinny people) by assigning certain traits to them and to identify with the in-group (in this case, overweight people). When your own group is marginalized, and one could argue that overweight people are marginalized in this culture, you will also begin to identify with all of the negative characteristics – such as laziness or a lack of self-discipline – that exist within the broader culture. This, of course, is the last thing you want or need if you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off.

Over the last 72 hours, this very topic came up no less than three times.

The first was in Judith S. Beck’s excellent book, The Beck Diet Solution, the reference I scooped from Cindy Sadler’s excellent blog, The Next Hundred Pounds. In her book, which is based more on cognitive restructuring than dieting, Dr. Beck lists out characteristic differences in the way that skinny people and overweight people think:

Characteristic Number Seven:
You Focus on Issues of Unfairness

Are you surprised to learn that most thin people restrict their eating to some degree? They might be trying to maintain their weight or to stay healthy – or both. So they sometimes eat smaller portions than they would really like and choose healthy foods when they;d really prefer to eat something else. They accept these limitations without too much struggle. They just don’t think about it very much.

You however, might frequently reflect on how unfair it is that others can eat what they want but you can’t. Truth is, not only do you underestimate how much others restrict themselves, but you also focus on the the injustice you feel because you have to limit yourself. In the past, this kind of thinking may have led you to stray from your diet, or you may have given up entirely (p. 39).

Beck then goes on to report the results of a survey that she did where she asked individuals – who were at their desired weight – if they would eat differently if all food had the same calories. The majority of men (over the age of forty) and the majority of women (of any age) said yes! Pretty compelling stuff!

Then, I was at a marketing seminar in L.A. and every morning there was a place set up where you could get a bagged breakfast. Invariably, the women that I would have previously classed as “naturally skinny” (or worse) walked over to the bags that contained bagels, muffins, fresh fruit, and cream cheese and then walked away. I didn’t see any of “those” woman – many of whom turned out to be raw food chefs or fitness experts! – go anywhere near anything that even remotely resembled a bagel, let alone a muffin. Instead, I saw them with almonds, fresh fruit, and herbal tea. Humph! Ironically, and much to my chagrin, they ate a lot like me!

And, finally, the following came across MJ’s Twitter feed: I just found out that three people I assumed were naturally skinny had all been previously overweight.

When you hear/see something that many times in a 72 hour period, there must be something to it!

So, how do you go about trying to break down those stereotypes? And I use the word stereotypes intentionally, because that’s what they are.

First, just watch skinny people. What do they eat? How do they eat it? When facing situations that you find challenging, what do they do? How do they spend their free time?

And don’t watch them when you’re out at lunch, because as one of my skinny friends told me, a lot of skinny people will eat a lot when they go out, but they will either cut back at dinner or for the next few days depending on how much they splurged!

Another thing would be to simply ask them! Trust me, they don’t bite. And if they work in the fitness industry, they’ll be all too happy to tell you all about it!

So, if you have this idea that skinny people can eat all they want, watch them. Remember, modeling (and team building) are powerful predictors of success!

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.

Family insights — it’s not enough to want it

Last week, while visiting my parents, we went to a family funeral. The deceased was the mother of my mother’s sister’s husband. Or, to put it another way, she was the grandmother of my cousins, though she, herself, was not my grandmother.

The last time I saw some of these cousins — sadly enough — was at our grandfather’s funeral last August.

There, at the wake, one my cousins, referred to me as Skinny Minnie — in a good way. And she kept eying me suspiciously and mouthing: How did you get so skinny?

Well, that was 10 months and probably close to 15 pounds ago.

This time she came up to me and said, “I would love to be as thin as you.”

I smiled, thanked her for the lovely compliment and then said. “It’s not that hard, but it is a daily chore.”

And, she smiled — though hers didn’t quite meet her eyes — and sighed. “But it requires a degree of self-discipline that I just don’t have.”

My gut level reaction, which often gets me into trouble, was: Then you don’t want it bad enough!

But, given that she had just lost her third grandparent in less than a year, I kept my mouth shut.

I’ve thought a lot about that exchange. I’ve thought about why it is that some people (myself included) have decided that it’s no longer acceptable to be overweight (often to an unhealthy degree), whereas others are willing to live with it even though they want to change. I’ve also realized that some people just don’t care. Even though they are heavy, if not morbidly obese, they are seemingly okay with their limited physical ability and (in some cases) their deteriorating health.

Essentially, our exchange reminded me that it’s not enough to simply want it. You have to want it bad enough to actually do something about it. My cousin wanted to weigh less, but she didn’t want to have to do anything to make it happen.

When I first started this leg of my weight release program — about three years ago, when I was 40 pounds heavier than I am now — someone (that is, Tony Robbins) gave me this piece of advice.

1. Set a real goal that is motivating. Don’t just say you want to lose 10 pounds, because that’s not compelling. Say you want to lose 20 pounds of fat so that you stop having knee problems.

2. Make it a must! This means that you make decisions regarding your health and fitness that are every bit as binding as the decisions that my cousin makes when running her business or raising her child. You have to convince yourself that if you don’t do it, then something disastrous is going to occur — that is, your physical equivalent of bankruptcy! For me, it was the fear of knee replacement and/or carrying that 40 pounds into my forties. For others, it may be the nightmare of hypertension or diabetes.

3. Take quick and decisive action. As soon as you define that clear and compelling goal, take immediate action! It could be something like joining a gym, calling a friend and telling them that you’re going to lose 30 pounds of fat come hell or high water, joining Weight Watchers, or starting a new exercise program. But do something immediately! Do anything! Don’t just make the goal and hope it will happen, because that’s not doing, that’s wishing!

It’s not enough to want it. You have to want it bad enough to actually do something about it. Hopefully, when my cousin’s ready — if she ever gets ready — she’ll set a goal, make it compelling, and do something about it. Because, truly, it’s the only thing that’s going to get you where you want to be.

Update:

Thanks to a dissent from a reader, it’s also occurred to me to add that you don’t have to want it.

It’s perfectly fine to like yourself the way you are. In fact, it’s probably the best way to go.

Not everyone needs to be thin; in fact, being thin or skinny (God forbid) was never a particular goal of mine. However, regardless of size, I do think that people should try their hardest to be as fit as possible given their own particular set of circumstances.

Jillian’s version of losing the last ten pounds

Today in my in-box, I received my daily message from Jillian Michaels:

FRIDAY: FEELING GOOD

How to Take Off Those Last 10 Pounds
You know what I like to call those last 10 or 15 pounds that won’t come off no matter what you do? Vanity pounds.

The term describes our desire to lose weight that, as far as our bodies are concerned, actually feels healthy. Today’s society pressures us to want to look a certain way, so for aesthetic reasons we try to be thinner than our bodies want us to be. Personally, I have gained and lost the same 8 vanity pounds more times than I care to admit.

Losing your first 50 pounds might have been tough, but believe me, dropping those final few stubborn pounds is a whole different challenge. The body struggles to hold on to that last bit of fat for survival purposes.

Now, don’t get me wrong — you can lose the weight if you want to, but it will require you to muster a tremendous amount of restraint and willpower. If you’re really up for it, do the following for 30 days:

1. Cut your sodium to 1,000 mg a day.
2. Drink at least 80 ounces of water daily.
3. Cut out processed foods.
4. Abstain from alcohol.
5. Train at 85 percent of your MHR (maximum heart rate) for 1 hour 5 times a week.

You can do a lot in 30 days — in fact, I can pretty much guarantee you will lose at least 5 pounds. And you’ll feel like a rock star!

Although I didn’t sign up for the full membership on Jillian’s site, I do find the daily messages to be inspirational and full of good information. If you can put up with a having another message in your in-box, it’s a good resource, not only for food, but also for exercise, and (now) information regarding hormones and their effect on your metabolism.

Saggy, not suelte (this is probably one of those “and then some” categories I warned you about)!

A dear friend of mine wrote in an email to me recently: I hope that losing weight doesn’t mean wrinkles!

Well, uhm, in the case of women close to 40 or above, that’s exactly what it means. I wouldn’t say wrinkly, exactly. Maybe crepe-y is a somewhat more accurate description. Though, now that I read this out loud, I’m not sure which sounds worse!

Regardless, for as long as I could remember, my mother would encourage me to moisturize.

And out of my desire to be a good daughter, I’d buy moisturizer — good moisturizer. But somehow, despite my best intentions, I could never get motivated enough to get it out its container and into my skin. And now, at 39 years and 4 months, and 40 pounds less than I was three years ago, I wish that I had listened to my mother! Let’s just say that I finally found my motivation.

I think the trick for me was not just finding a moisturizer, but finding the moisturizer. In times past, I had done all kinds of research and talked to friends, collected recommendations, tried it on in the store — only to find out when I tried using it at home that the smell was too much after all or it wasn’t just my imagination, it did feel too oily, etc. You name it, I could find a problem with it!

A couple of weeks ago, however, I did the unprecedented. On a whim, I purchased $50+ of skin care products on my way out of a restaurant! A restaurant. Not a boutique, not a beauty salon, and certainly not a dermatologist’s office. A restaurant. Granted, it was a good restaurant, but still. Moreover, I hadn’t sampled it, I hadn’t even smelled it. My friend had simply said, “If you ever have an occasion to treat yourself, this stuff smells great.”

I bought the moisturizer, the hand cream, the facial tissues, the soap, and the body cream. It was nuts. No recommendations. No research. No trials. But I had an occasion and I wanted a treat. And, luckily for me and my thirsty, wrinkly, crepe-like skin, my impromptu purchase is paying off. Not only do I love it (and, therefore, use it every day), it appears to be working. I’m beginning to see some improvement in places on my body that actually look worse now than they did before I released the weight.

And, even better since the restaurant is about 2 hours from my house, you can buy it on line. And even better than that, they sell it in bulk with free shipping on orders of $100 or more!

Now, the purpose of the post is not to discourage anyone from exercising or releasing weight. But it is to encourage you to take care of your skin and, at the risk of sounding too much like my mother, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

A month of maintenance

Yea!!!!

I am happy to report that I have maintained my goal weight (within a 1.5 pound +/- spread) for the entire month of May!

For those of you who know me well, you’ll recognize this as the accomplishment it is!

For those of you who don’t actually know me, in the past, I have been very good at reaching goals, but less successful at maintaining them! As a wise woman once told me, “You’re a striver, not a thriver.” In other words, I’m very good at striving, but less good at thriving — and, unfortunately, this applied to all areas of my life! In terms of weight-related goals, it meant that the one or two times that I even got close to 140 in the past, I only stayed there about one minute (the first time) or in the case of the second time, three days!

That I’ve been here for four weeks — in the midst of work-related hell and selling a house — is saying something! Truly, the thought of it makes me smile — at the very least — and want to jump up and down! I definitely think it’s time for a non-food related celebratory gift. Maybe I’ll finally succumb to all the direct marketing I’ve received since purchasing k-b slim and tone on line! I have to admit, it looks fun. It sort of reminds me of the bosu at the gym! But I digress.

Back to maintenance.

So, what’s it been like?

Sadly, for everyone who wants to be able to lose 10 (or 20 or 30 or even 90) pounds and then jump head first back into their favorite foods, it doesn’t work that way. Maintenance is just like dieting, you just get to eat more calories. Other than that, nothing has changed.

I still weigh myself regularly to make sure that I haven’t dropped too low (hasn’t happened yet, but it might!) or gone too high. When I’m up, I reduce my calories for a while. When I’m low, I add them back in.

Through repeating this process again and again, I’ve figured out that I can pretty much eat between 1,200 – 1,500 calories a day when I need to drop a pound or so and that I can maintain while eating between 1,500 – 1,800 calories a day. (This, of course, assumes that I exercise between four and five times a week!) Just knowing this little bit of information about my body has made a crucial difference in my ability to maintain my weight.

Now, does this mean that I just sit around and eat 1,500 calories worth of veggies everyday? No. In fact, just last week, I went out with friends and ended up eating 2,200. When that happens (and it will again), I automatically drop back down to 1,200 – 1,500 for a couple of days until my body stabilizes. It’s been great. And, importantly, it’s been easy!

One of my skinny friends — a woman who rarely exercises and is someone that I never would have assumed ever even thought about her weight — asked me what the difference has been for me this time. I told her and she said, “That’s exactly what I do! I can tell when I’m up. Or when I’ve eaten too much at a meal, I’ll cut back for a few days. And when I know I have something coming up, like a party or a holiday, I cut back a couple of days beforehand.”

Notably, she doesn’t count calories like I do (and I still do, religiously), but she does know what she eats and, perhaps even more importantly, what it does to her body.

So maintenance — it’s really nothing more than a diet with more calories. You still watch what you eat. You still make daily adjustments to your calories. You still weigh yourself regularly. You still — or at least I do — avoid those foods that make you crazy!

This is why, I suppose, that people always say that it’s not about being on a diet, it’s about changing your lifestyle. Because if you think about it as a diet that you can quit when you reach you’re goal, as opposed to a lifestyle that you’re committing to for life, you’re setting yourself up for failure or, at the very least, a lifetime full of diets.

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)