The New Year is around the corner. As we wind up for the holidays, I’ve noticed some old feelings creeping back – and that’s why I’d like to remind you to keep an eye on your priority list this holiday season!
Your Own Priority List and Why You Need to Be On It
Awhile back, I noticed I felt a bit out of sorts. I had struggled to get back “on track” with my regular writing schedule, and had been skipping workouts left and right. It was not working well for me.
Essentially, the holiday madness caused me to slip off of my journey toward personal fulfillment. I found myself floating through my days mindlessly, feeling busy and harried instead of centered and peaceful.
I’d been aware of this situation for awhile and had been working on getting my mind in the right place again, seeking solutions to my malaise.
Allow me to preface the next paragraph by telling you, in case you weren’t aware, that I think Oprah Winfrey is an absolute goddess. If you disagree with me, that’s okay, but don’t let it deter you from the message I’m trying to get across here.
See, I happened to catch most of an old episode of Oprah in which she very openly and honestly shared her personal struggles with “falling off the wagon.” And while she did discuss her struggles with weight (as the symptom), her main confession was that she’d been failing to take care of herself.
She was so busy working and taking care of everyone around her, that she forgot to make time to nurture herself. In true Oprah style, she had a plan.
One thing that she said several times when discussing her new plan really stood out for me.
Who of us isn’t guilty at one time or another of forgetting to add ourselves to our ever-growing lists of responsibilities? I know that I have been on more than one occasion. Sometimes, we let life “get in the way” of taking care of ourselves.
This may seem like the right thing to do at times–especially when our jobs or loved ones require extra attention. But its then that we must make a specific effort to build a little time into our days to nurture ourselves, our souls, our individuality.
Take a moment to think about it. When was the last time you did something just for you? When was the last time you scheduled time in your life for yourself?
I’m not asking you to take an entire weekend away, or even an entire day. We all know that sometimes that isn’t possible. Instead, I’m asking you to take ten minutes, an hour, whatever you can afford in your day.
Maybe you need to get up an hour earlier, or stay up an hour later. Perhaps you can sneak it in during your lunch break or baby’s nap time.
And, you may be asking, what should you be doing to take care of yourself anyway? This completely depends on you. What makes you happy? Could you use a nap? Simple downtime? Perhaps you’ve been meaning to work out or read a good book. And who doesn’t enjoy a nice hot bath?
The point? It doesn’t matter WHAT you do, so long as it’s something only for you. As Oprah said on her show today, it’s really a love issue. We must love ourselves in order to love others–we must love ourselves in order to maintain any level of happiness and personal fulfillment in our lives.
Today, my challenge to you is to be brutally honest with yourself. Open up like Oprah did on her show that day, and figure out what you can do to make yourself happy. You deserve to be happy, and you deserve to feel joy. What can you do to make that happen?
Tell me what you’re looking to change about your life in 2016, and I’ll be sure to create free content that teaches you exactly how to do it. PLEASE, share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
Did you know breastfeeding isn’t for everyone? Well, believe it or not breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks! And this new mom could really use some help from some of you more experienced ones out there.
My Crazy Breastfeeding Attempts, Tongue Tie and ‘Helpful’ Nurses
While I was pregnant, I was so excited to breastfeed and have that bonding experience with my son.
Well as it turns out, in the hospital my son was having trouble latching on to my breast.
No one even mentioned that there was such a thing as a tongue tie.
And it kind of pisses me off, because if they had, I could have had them clip it in order to have that bonding experience with my son.
Instead the nurses told me to start supplementing, because he was losing to much weight. And being kinda new to this whole mother thing – I did what they said.
Ever since I have been trying to get my supply up. By pumping pumping pumping.
In fact I even purchased three different pumps in order to find the best one for my breast.
I was also eating lactation cookies, staying away from caffeine. The whole nine yards. None of it was working. I was devastated that I was only able to feed my baby formula.
That’s when I decided to…
Stop concerning my self so much about it, and to try to believe that it might just come naturally, And instead of pumping, to actually put him to the breast to feed. And just see where that got me.
So as of now, I’m working hard to get my supply up and still having that skin to skin mouth to breast time, regardless if he is getting any milk or not. So far, so good.
I could really use some advice – can anyone help me out? Have you had to try to re-lactate before? How’d you do it? What tips can you offer? Thanks in advance.
“Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.” ~Tara Brach
Something kind of awesome has been happening to me lately. The older I get, the more comfortable I become as a person and with who I am.
Truly, these days, I don’t honestly care what other people think about who I am. Now, I don’t mean that I don’t care about how they feel or whether they are decent people – just that I don’t care if they don’t like me. Because these days, I like me, and I understand that it’s okay to be who I am.
What do I mean by that? Well, I wasn’t always okay with who I was. There was a time in my life when being “me” was a serious problem. The messages of who I was “supposed to be” were so loud that I could never really “hear” my own mind, if that makes sense.
This was because I allowed people other than myself to define me. But as I’ve grown older and more secure in myself, I have learned that not only am I “okay” as a person, but I’m actually kind of cool.
A lucky few of us are charismatic and comfortable in all social situations. However, most people suffer from some degree of self-consciousness at times and alter their behavior in an effort to appeal to others. This begins in childhood and becomes a habit we carry throughout our lives. The pressure to conform resides in most of us.
How much are you pretending? How much of yourself are you giving up in order to gain approval from others? Interestingly, the people we admire the most are those that make no effort to conform. We admire individuality.
Define Yourself: 7 Ways to Figure Out Who You Really Are
1. Pay attention to others. It’s much harder to feel self-conscious if your attention isn’t on yourself. The key to being self-conscious is to focus on your appearance, clothes, posture, and words. Eliminate this self-scanning behavior and you’ll feel much more comfortable.
Look around you and notice what’s happening. If someone is speaking to you, focus on their face and words. Your ability to focus outside yourself will grow with practice.
2. Give your self-esteem a boost. Pretending to be something you’re not suggests that you believe you’re not good enough in some way. However, you’ve done some amazing things in your life. Focus on your positive qualities. Remind yourself of your successes. Most importantly, leave your failures and regrets in the past.
3. Radically accept yourself. Remind yourself that no one is perfect. Even your best friend has numerous flaws that you could quickly list. You still love them anyway.
4. Stay cool. There are many tools to reduce your own anxiety, but it’s most effective to use them the minute you feel the first sign of stress. At the point where you’re already under pressure, it can be far more challenging to get your emotions back under control.
Tip: When you first notice yourself becoming uncomfortable, focus on taking slow, deep breaths. Redirect your focus to your breath and your environment. Your previous thoughts resulted in your anxiety, so change them.
5. Figure out what you’re meant to do and be, and then do that. It could be argued that you’re not bold enough to be yourself because the stakes aren’t high enough, yet. When you have enough motivation, anxiety rarely shows up. You might be too bashful to raise money for your new business, but it’s no problem if you’re raising money to save your child from cancer.
Do you know your purpose in life? When you can answer that question definitively, much of the social pressure in your life will disappear.
6. Imagine your parents are gone. Even people in their 50’s and 60’s are still worried about disappointing their parents. What would you do differently right now if your parents were gone? A parent’s influence is never gone completely, but most of us give them more power than is reasonable. As adults, parents only have the power we give to them.
7. Do one thing you’ve really wanted to do, but have been avoiding. It can be something small, but jump in the deep end and do something new. It might be getting a tattoo or singing Karaoke. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take ballet lessons.
8. Realize that your time is limited. It will all be over someday, so there’s little reason to worry. Anything you’re worried about now will be meaningless in the distant future. Have fun and enjoy your life.
The people that you admire the most have many detractors. Break free of the social pressure to conform. Share your thoughts and ideas. Enjoy your life. Discover how you can be your own person and still be loved – from the inside out.
Maidana agrees, noting that everyone feels “fearful when we are pursuing something big in our lives.”
“It’s scary to drop what you’ve been doing for years and take a different path,” she adds. “It is scary to invest money in a project that we don’t know is going to be profitable. Nothing in this life is certain (well, they say that only taxes and death are).”
“This is not about making others wrong so you can be right. This is about you living your best life. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to those around you (yes, even the non-believers). The best service that you can do for yourself, and everyone around you, is to live your dreams, so you can shine from within and touch others with your light.” Read the full story at The Huffington Post
Where do you go when you don’t feel like you’re going anywhere in your trip to being a healthier, smaller version of yourself? What happens to you at that moment in time where you’ve tried (what seems like) everything and nothing is working? Where does your mind and body take you when you’re stuck?
This is always a risky area for me. I would say for a solid eighty percent of my time I am on autopilot. To quote my pal Carolyn, “It’s just what we do now”, meaning going to the gym, eating properly, not binging, not freaking out about every little inconsistency or speed bump in the path, is our new “norm”. It’s just what we do. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The other twenty percent of my time is split between the extremes.
Fifteen percent of that time is spent ‘dorphined up, feeling like I’m taking on the world and conquering it bit by bit. Nothing bothers me. Nothing could stand in my way. I have a great attitude and hold my head up high.
In steps that pesky last five percent of my time, which is where I’ve been feeling for the past week. That last five percent is the part that says “you cannot win this game no matter what you do”. I’m living on “screw it” street in my little village and it’s such a dodgy area. There’s bums on the corners… big bums who haven’t seen a Stairmaster in years. There are seedy people in the shadows just lurking about waiting for you to trip up so they can dart out and rummage through your bag, stealing your hidden snack. The street pharmacists are on the corners handing out your drug of choice, be it cheesecake, chips or chocolate. Or worse yet, a cocktail of all three.
So where do you go? What do you do? Who do you turn to?
My first line of defense, and I didn’t even realize it until I started writing today, is my husband, Marco. Today, these words actually left my face and entered his ears.
“I’ve been doing horrible with my food. I just feel like saying screw it all”.
Those words were actually audible. To another human besides myself. I really said that to him. That’s when I realized he’s always my first stop on the self-destruction train. I like to run my ideas of giving up past him first.
It’s actually laughable as I write it because of course I’m never going to stop but maybe I just need a break. A break from what?
I’d like to call my second line of defense to the stand – Carolyn. You’ll remember her from this post.
She’s who I turn to next. She’s going to read this, as I run most of my posts past her before publishing and she’ll have some brilliant encouraging words to say. Or a punch in the arm, you know, whatever she feels will work at the time. Never fail though, she’s walking the walk and talking the talk with me.
Keeping in mind that this is still only a mere five percent of my time, sometimes I realize my funk is a bit funkier than I like it to be and I pull out the big guns.
When I left Novarum, the center where I got help for my food issues, they had me write a list of things that just worked for me, mentally and physically. It seemed so silly at the time to write it all down, they were so fresh in my mind, but I did it. I tucked it away in a book and just keep it there.
That’s my “big guns”, a piece of paper with words of wisdom that I wrote myself.
“Following this routine makes me more calm about food choices.”
“I no longer hide my eating or have that shame that was associated with hiding and eating.”
“If one of my goals ends up backfiring, that’s okay. This is all just a huge experiment to find that best fit for my life, which will change and evolve as I do.”
That’s just a few of the items on that yellowing piece of paper that I use, third line of defense, to keep me centered.
It is so much more than words on paper though. It takes me back to the basics. Back to where I started winning this thing. Back to the really simple ideas of changing the way I thought about food, myself, myself with food, food with myself and all things related, which in the end, was everything.
I get back to the beginning of this chapter in my life and re-read it like a favorite book.
Then I keep on keeping on because that five percent, that little flash of time, has had its moment of glory and I know how to move on.
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.
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.
Marco and me
What kind of neighbors make up your own mental village?