My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

It takes a village to raise a child.

It wasn’t until I became a parent that I fully understood, and came to love that saying. Just knowing “it takes a village” made me feel like there was somebody, and possibly even several somebodies, out there on my side, rooting for me. It made me feel not so alone and not quite so worried that I was screwing up my own little human.

As a parent you need to select your village wisely. Take one wrong piece of advice from the village idiot and you’ll be getting the parental stink-eye from a lot of other folks out there.

I don’t feel “it takes a village” is relative to just parent’s though. It’s important to have a village of support when you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. I take my tribe selection seriously!

I carefully choose the people that I take advice from and who I let into my weight loss bubble. Funny my saying that since I blog about most of it publically, but that’s not what I really mean. When you talk openly about trying to lose weight or change your habits you get input, asked for or not, valued or not. People like to give advice and help. Mostly it’s with a pure heart and good intentions.

I will listen to a lot, from a variety of people, but I only actually take a few people’s advice to heart, adding them to my village. You know what I mean. We all have well intended friends and family who still think the cabbage soup diet is the way to go. Those people would be on the “smile and nod” list and only shown property on the outskirts of town. Whereas hearing what works from a friend who really understands the craziness that is my head, that advice gets filed in the “good stuff, remember that!” and lives nearby in the village of my mind.

Weeding out the village idiots from the village people () can be a tricky and sometimes uncomfortable job. It’s not like they walk around with “I give bad advice intentionally” on their foreheads and sometimes they’re people who you are close with, be it emotionally or in proximity.

I have had office mates who I’ve had to uncomfortably tell “I really appreciate your trying to help but I have a team of people I am working with and it really overwhelms me to receive so much advice. If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to just follow what I’m doing and not get any further input.”

Man, that conversation is a hard one to have. It’s not nice. It has potential to make them feel bad and then you feel bad and nobody wants to feel bad.

Putting yourself first is hard, but important. You and your village are truly vital to your success.

My mental neighborhood starts with the people at Novarum, a health center in the Netherlands. Although I graduated from their bi-weekly sessions over two years ago, I still consider them an integral part of my success thus far. I also know they are there, just a phone call away, should I feel myself sliding down a slippery slope into old habits.

boxing moms

Me and Carolyn prepared to spar

 

Down the road from Novarum lives my pal Carolyn. She just simply gets me. I have interaction with her almost daily and she understands my kind of crazy. And believe me, it’s a special kind of crazy. We all need that one friends that just gets it. On top of being my mental collaborator she’s my sparring partner and workout buddy.

 

 

Me and Hilary, my village grocer

 

My village grocer is Hilary. She’s studied food, is passionate about food and is vocal about food. She’s the delicate balance of information, as I need it and can handle it, and advice. What I love best about her though is that she is always respectful of my boundaries.

 

Cindy, one of my trainers & me – at the gun show

 

Living in their own quiet cul-de-sac are the trainers from my gym. They shout encouragement to me as I tear through my workout. We laugh together when they say “burpees” and I reply with “I hate you”. They intimidated the hell out of me when they first moved into the ‘hood but after giving them a chance I know they want me to succeed just as much as I want to be successful.

 

 

And the best part about my village is my own home. I have the biggest cheerleader kissing me hello and goodbye every day. My husband, Marco, is one of the most understanding, supportive people I’ve encountered throughout my life. He’s seen me struggle with every aspect of the health game, so he knows it’s difficult. He encourages me in a non-pushy way, which can be a delicate dance. He eats what I want to eat because he knows I’m trying to be healthier. He’s gotten on the exercise bandwagon with me when I didn’t have anybody to work out with and we enjoyed it together. He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. There is no better villager than that. Get one of those in your town as soon as you can.

Christmas party

Marco and me

 

What kind of neighbors make up your own mental village?

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

Magical, Mental, Endorphins

I distinctly remember what I felt like prior to getting help for some food issues and previous to working out regularly. For a while, as I mentioned in this post, I avoided being with people, even people I liked. It was a dark, dreary, terrible way to feel every single day.

Now post-workout I also try to avoid people but for a whole other reason.

My name is Sarah and I am an endorphin-aholic.

Let me preface this by letting you know I work out at my office. I am fortunate enough to have a gorgeous, fully equipped gym, complete with enthusiastic trainers and classes, in the lower level of my building. This has its perks. My fortune continues in having a boss that lets me workout during actual “on the clock” hours so I can avoid the gym’s busy periods. Did I mention I love my job and my boss?

I knew exercise was supposed to make you feel better, “they” said. But we all know how “they” can be. “They” have a lot of fickle opinions that change with the wind and the wind seems to whip in a new direction every two weeks.

They were right about endorphins though and I am here to be a witness!

If you’ve never been on an endorphin high let me tell you what you’re missing out on. Imagine taking the tingle of a first kiss and gently mixing it with the excitement of that big drop on a roller coaster and then add a twist – a generous twist – of that adrenaline rush that comes along with your ultimate song being played in a club and you know you’re about to cut a rug. Mix all of that up, add a shot of espresso and voila, that’s how good my post workout endorphins make me feel.

Oh, and they make me chatty (okay, chattier).  How unfortunate for the poor souls who innocently step into the elevator with me post exercise- all ‘dorphined up.

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Sarah and Carolyn enjoying their well deserved endorphins

In the elevator heading back to our desks, my workout buddy, Carolyn, and I have been known to high five one another for pushing so hard stating, “man you killed it today, you ran!”… and then we just continuing to high five every other passenger in the elevator, celebrating our victories. They had no choice. They must high five.

This is endorphins.

Wide eyed and unsure of what just happened, the innocents would step out on their floors and continue with their day. We smiled widely and waved farewell to them (only to later resolve to stop doing that to people, lest we lose our jobs).

Even on days when I didn’t feel like working out but made myself go, I would be awarded with my endorphins. When I can’t be my own cheerleader, it’s like they’re telling me “way to go Sarah, you did it and we’re proud of you.” They rush over me and they simply just make me feel good. They make me feel proud. They make me feel happy. They make me feel alive and strong.

If you’re on the verge of starting an exercise routine or are just entertaining the thought for somewhere down the road please, please just do it. If you can’t because you just aren’t there, mentally, trust in the endorphins to take care of some of your mental health. Take that one little step and get your endorphins running.  You will be so glad you did.

Food Affection

Food Affection

ChocolateRose

For as many people as there are on the planet, there are probably twice the amount of ways to show somebody that you love them.

Traditional people can love you with cards or with flowers.

Kids love one another with a tug of the hair or punch in the arm.

Friends send you funny memes that only you will really “get”.

Parents leave hidden messages in lunchboxes.

Some love via text.

Some love through a song.

Some promise everlasting love with a ring.

How do I love?

I love with food. Sure, I love other ways too but food has been a constant sign of fondness for the larger part of my life.

For a woman conquering a weight issue, this can be a challenge.

I love to love people via culinary gifts. I adore watching the full bodied reaction of somebody enjoying a cupcake I’ve created with my own two hands. The relaxation of their body. The smile on their face. The lick of a finger. The deep sigh. For that moment, you made their life smile.

I’m no one way street though. I don’t just love people with food, I let them love me right back in the very same way. Just this week a colleague went to London and brought me back Cadbury Crème Eggs because she knows I have an unnatural affection for them.  All lined up in a pretty little row at my keyboard, sat four magical foil-wrapped eggs, with that realistic, slightly creepy, egg white center and yellow yolk. A gift of friendship was well received with a yelp and a “squeeee!”

What do you do when gifts of friendship and love threaten to hamper your weight loss goals? What happens when your Mom makes your favorite dessert because she knows how you love it but it doesn’t fit in with your day? What do you do when love leaves you a five pound box of chocolate? You can’t just throw out perfectly good food! What about all those starving children… yes, we all know where that sentence leads us. The children are still hungry but your thighs aren’t exactly thanking you either.

I read the most brilliant analogy on a website once and it has stuck to me like glue. The key to battling food love is to accept it.

Graciously.

Some people will always love you with food.  They will always send you home with leftovers because they know it’s your favorite. It’s how they love. Accept the gift, graciously. You do deserve that gift of thoughtfulness.

But what about those goals of yours? Therein lies the secret key that you’ve been searching for.

Receive the gift, but realize what the real gift actually is. They’ve given you the gift of love, thoughtfulness, caring, kindness and consideration. They’ve wrapped those deep seeded emotions, specific to you, in gorgeous packaging – love wrapped in brownies. Fondness tied up with a noodle bake bow. Friendship disguised as crumbly cake… whatever food it is you love… they’ve wrapped their emotional bond to you in that food. Now you’ve graciously received that gift of love and accepted it.

It feels really nice, doesn’t it?

With a clear conscious, because you graciously accepted the gift, you can now throw that wrapper away, just like you do with other gifts. Throw that brownie/noodle/cupcake “wrapper” away. Throw it away knowing that the gift of love was received loud and clear.

The empty wrappers will join my foil covered Cadburys in that great waste disposal in the sky but man, I can still feel the love!

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

Amazing Teen Loses 40+ Pounds, Gains Whole New Attitude

wpid-4222533261_97e032f908_b.jpgMy friend Sarah shared a Facebook post from her soon-to-be 17-year-old daughter Autumn today that surprised and impressed me.

It seems that this articulate, intelligent young woman has accomplished something that many adults attempt and repeatedly fail–and something many teenagers don’t even realize they need to do until they’re adults. When I read it, I immediately asked Sarah and Autumn if they were OK with my blogging about it.

Autumn has lost more than 40 pounds and is still on the move–and she says she feels better about herself than she ever has. I’m going to share her post below in full. I am so impressed with the level of maturity this girl has going on–what do you think? (You can click the photo at the right to enlarge it, if you’d like!)

“As many of you may know, I’ve lost over twenty pounds. I am happy to announce that I have lost over 40 pounds in total, and losing more every day. I am so grateful to have such supportive friends and family.

Starting at 194 pounds (very left) I could not even comprehend that I would be where I am now, a pleasant 152. I have lost four pant sizes, and I now fit in a medium. I am so blessed to have a family like mine, and truly happy to have the friends that I do.

Ten more pounds and I will be considered not overweight, although. I have never felt as good about myself as I do right now. I am truly happy with myself and life, I have good friends (Maybe because I got rid of the ones that were fake) An adorable boyfriend, and a loving family.

For the first time in my life, I can wake up and say to myself, ‘Today is going to be a good day.’ And look in the mirror and accept that I AM beautiful. I should of never thought of changing myself to please the masses.

I was depressed, I didn’t feel good enough. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, not just because of my weight, but because of how I felt society was. I’m tearing up as I write this status because of how proud I am of myself that I actually surpassed my own goals.

Words cannot describe the feeling of success, and I thank everyone who reads this status. Thank you for supporting me and my goals.”.

Now here’s where it gets really impressive. Autumn doesn’t have an eating disorder, and she isn’t taking pills or powders or eating questionable things. And she’s not starving herself or using any strange voodoo to make the weight loss happen. In fact, she’s doing it the old fashioned way. The only way that really works long-term.

“It’s what everyone else says,” Autumn says. “Fewer calories, lots of water and exercise.”

She adds that it’s important to make sure that when you cut calories you eat things that are nutrient-rich, because it can make you sick if you don’t.

“She got sick,” Sarah tells me. “Had too-low potassium, and she had numbness and tingling in her face and hands.”

They went to the emergency room and they drew blood to make the diagnosis, and the prescription was to eat some bananas. So these days, Autumn’s more careful to get those nutrients into her diet.

When I asked how she stuck to the plan, she said that she constantly had to give herself pep talks.

Color me impressed. Kudos to Autumn! Keep up the good work, sista! 🙂

My Spin on “It Takes a Village”

Identifying Toxic Friendships


“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ~ Albert Camus

What is a true friend, in your opinion?

Everyone has a slightly different definition–but bottom line, a true friend is someone who is there for you when you need him or her, someone you trust, someone who makes you feel good.

Probably you have great conversations, share interests and support one another in your every day lives.

But what happens when a friend turns out to be “not so good” for you, if the friendship becomes toxic?

What is toxic friendship, anyway?

“The phrase ‘toxic friend’ is pop psychology,” says psychologist Dr. Jenn Berman. “I would say it’s someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you — sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.”

How can one truly identify a toxic friendship?

It can be difficult, especially if you have been close to the friend for a long time. If you suspect that a friend is (or has become) toxic, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you feel after spending time with or speaking to this person? Do you feel good and positive (for the most part) or do you find yourself worrying, stressing or obsessing about some aspect of the visit or call?
  • Are you afraid to tell your friend about some aspect of your life for fear of how they’ll react or fear of being judged harshly?
  • Do you sometimes find yourself avoiding contact with the person or ignoring their calls? Does your friend consistently “forget” about your plans or cancel at the last minute?
  • Does your friend actively insult or offend you on a consistent basis?
  • Do you find yourself feeling uncomfortable or bothered by your friend’s life choices, behavior or moral conduct?
  • Do you feel comfortable bringing up concerns about your friendship with this friend?
  • Does this friendship benefit you?
  • Do you trust this friend, really trust him or her?

These are just a few questions to get you started. In general, your friends should be an asset to your life, not a detriment.

Does someone in your life seem to be more of a hindrance than a help on your journey to personal bliss?

If so, it may be time to reevaluate your choices.

Mini-Bliss Mission for Those Dealing With a Potentially Toxic Friend

 

My challenge today applies to those readers who are currently dealing with a potentially toxic friendship.

Take a few minutes today to really consider the questions above in regard to the friend in question.

Be brutally honest, and take a quick inventory of the situation.

Have you ever dealt (or are you currently dealing) with a toxic friendship? How did or will you handle it? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below!

 

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