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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
Fraudulent – that’s how I feel sometimes when people ask me how I’ve lost any sort of weight. It’s not that I’m not telling them the truth or that I am being dishonest, it’s just that the story is so involved.
Generally when people ask me about it, it’s after I’ve been to the gym and I’m standing there all aubergine in the face, sweat beads glistening drenched in sweat, and so pumped up on endorphins that I have a perma-grin nailed to my face.
I usually say what I’m doing right now, right this very moment of my life. I tell about my weekly routine but I feel like I’m shortchanging them somehow. I feel like I make it seem simple and that it’s just something I up and did one day, no prep work, no negativity, no failures – just that a gym opened in my office and “poof” I was there.
That’s of course not how it happened at all. Or did it? I mean, yes, the gym opened in my office and the very first day I was down there introducing myself to the trainers and setting up a meeting for my team to see all the shiny new equipment but is that really my story?
Unless asked, I tend to leave out the part where I had cognitive behavior therapy to deal with some serious food issues – binging, hiding food, shaming myself. I had issues that no book, website or friend could help me with. I needed the pros!
I leave out the eight month time span where I was in such a dark, anti-social place that I stopped eating lunch with my colleagues, people who I really liked, and spent my lunch hours in the office sandwich shop, table at the window, back to the world, nose in a book – any book. I even read crappy books just to not have to make eye contact. I may as well have draped a “do not disturb” sign down my back, as if it weren’t obvious enough.
Thoughts screamed in my head but I looked peaceful.
I feel like a fraud because what in the hell do I really know? Yeah, I’ve lost some weight and kept it off for the past two years. Yes, I am in the best physical shape I’ve been in for a very long time. Yes, my head feels like it is on straight for the first time in my adult life. Sure, I’m really happy with what is happening right now. I feel like I have unlocked the door to a healthy future for myself and I feel like I will never turn back.
But what does all of that even mean to somebody else?
Do I have all of the answers? Not hardly! Do I still struggle? Hell yeah! Am I at my goal weight or perfect weight or even close? Nope. So who am I to say anything?
I’ll tell you who I am.
I’m somebody who likes to share just in case there is some part of me or my story people can connect with.
I’m somebody who likes to help, if I can, even if I am not perfect.
I’m somebody who likes everybody to partake and feel part of the team. I don’t like to see somebody to sit on the sidelines because of their insecurities when in their heart they want to be in the thick of it all.
I’m somebody who gets real joy out of seeing other people succeed.
That’s who I am. And now you know. And now, I do too.
“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.” ~Mark Twain
Everyone has something (or someone) in their past that they’d just rather forget–but as everyone knows, sometimes that’s a little easier said than done.
Yet, as we focus on obtaining our ultimate personal fulfillment, we know that focusing on those negative things or people from our past is doing nothing but keeping us from obtaining our true divine desires.
When we focus on the things we don’t want in our own lives, we draw more of those things toward us–and then we may not remember to focus on the things we DO want. This leaves us unhappy and unfulfilled, living with a general sense of dissatisfaction and we’re left wondering what we’re doing wrong.
The law of attraction doesn’t discriminate–it’s very simple. What you think about, you bring about. So, if you think about how exceptionally awesome your life is–then you’ll draw more reasons for exceptional awesomeness into your life.
On the other hand, if you think about how much your life sucks–then you’ll soon find many more reasons for the suck factor.
I know, this is all very basic and may seem far too simple, especially when you throw whole “we’re all human” thing into the mix. After all, we don’t always control the external factors, the little reminders in our everyday lives that trigger thoughts of the negative things or people in our pasts.
First things first, it’s important to be aware of the problem. So, if you are always thinking about, say, that job you got fired from, you need to begin to be conscious of your internal dialogue–keep an “ear” on your thoughts. And the next time you think about that job, mentally “cancel” that thought and replace it with an affirmation of what you REALLY want.
So, for example, if what you really want is a new, high-paying and secure job that you enjoy, then you might tell yourself something like, “I work for ____. My job is secure and fun, and I make $_____ per ______.”
Take the Good, Leave the Bad
“Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.” ~Hubert Humphrey
In almost every situation, there can be a positive. Using the example of the lost job, you could probably come up with at least one good thing that happened as a result of working there. Maybe you made a new friend, learned a good lesson or made enough money to send your kid to college.
If your negative thoughts revolve more around a past personal relationship, take the love, lessons and happy parts of that relationship and forget about the rest. That doesn’t mean that you have to get involved with that person in the present, but it means that you can move forward without the negative baggage “the rest” brings with it.
Keep the “good stuff” from your past and let the rest of it go. Again, this can be achieved through “thought replacement.” So, if you’re thinking about that ex who dumped you for no good reason, remind yourself of the things that you liked about the relationship with that person. Smile, give yourself a minute to reminisce, and then replace thoughts of that person with an affirmation of what you want today. Maybe something like “I am so very grateful for the healthy and fulfilling relationships in my life.” It takes some practice, but it works.
Don’t Worry–It Won’t Help
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo Buscaglia
You get where I’m going with this, right? The bottom line here is that focusing on negative things–worrying and upsetting yourself–will do you no good. In fact, these negative thoughts can actually cause harm by drawing more negativity into your life.
Worrying never solved anything, so why should you sit around feeling bad? Choose to feel good instead, choose to think and feel positive things–and watch as you begin to manifest the life you’ve always wanted.