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?
Standing at the airport looking at magazine headlines, I found myself, once again, nauseated by all the headlines about weight loss.
How To Lose 100 pounds Without Trying. The Biggest Loser Loses More. Jane Superstar Magically Gets Her Body Back After Baby. Oh No! Gorgeous Supermodel Has A Muffin Top! It’s enough to make a girl want to puke.
Yes, maintaining a healthy weight is part of OWNING your health. Yes, obesity is endemic in this country. So I get it. Lots of people would benefit from losing weight.
But it guts me to see how much pressure people are under to get skinny. Frankly, I’ve never had a problem staying a normal weight. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for those who struggle. If you’re one of those people who has been fighting your weight your whole life, my heart goes out to you. I know it’s not easy.
But I believe it doesn’t have to be so hard. As a doctor, the responsibility to help people achieve a healthy weight often lands on my shoulders. But we doctors often don’t have the tools we need to effectively help others.
89% of doctors believe it’s their responsibility to help patients lose weight.
72% say no one in their office has been trained to deal with weight problems.
87% weigh patients at every office visit.
45% say they regularly discuss weight with their patients.
So why aren’t we helping people more?
A Holistic Approach to Battling Obesity
I believe that you will never achieve and maintain a healthy weight until you learn to love yourself, fat and all. If your weight loss is fueled by negative mind chatter and self-hatred, weight loss becomes punishment. You know what I’m talking about. The scenario goes something like this.
Something’s missing your life, so you go to the fridge and pull out a carton of ice cream. Maybe this will fill you up. You take one bite, but then you remember about Jenny Craig (or Weight Watchers or The Zone Diet or the South Beach Diet- or whatever).
While the ice cream melts in your mouth, you start berating yourself. “You’re such a loser. You have no willpower. I can’t believe you just took that bite of ice cream. That’s your whole fat allocation for the day.
You can’t do anything right. And if you can’t follow this diet, you’ll be fat and ugly for the rest of your life and nobody will ever love you. You suck. I hate you.” You feel so awful that you dig your spoon in and finish the whole crate of Ben and Jerry’s.
Jeez. No wonder you’re having trouble losing weight.
I believe you must start with loving acceptance for the divine, radiant being that you are. Every one of us was created as a perfect, whole being who is weightless. With you lies that beautiful, perfect spirit, regardless of what the world sees on the outside. You must reclaim, honor, and love that part of yourself to begin your journey to a healthy weight.
As long as you punish yourself into trying to lose weight, it simply won’t work. Even if you lose 100 pounds because you’ve limited yourself to 500 measly fat-free, sugar free calories per day, you will likely discover that you are 100 pounds skinnier and you still hate yourself.
And one day, when the evil voice in your heads says, “See. You’re skinny and you still suck,” you will pick that Ben and Jerry’s container back up and dig in. And in time, you will likely wind up fat again.
So how are you supposed to lose weight?
10 Tips For Reclaiming a Healthy Body With Love
Practice radical self-love. Honor yourself. Nurture yourself. Take time to be in your body. Apply scented body lotions to your naked figure. Luxuriate in bubble baths. Walk around the house without clothes on.
Make friends with the person in the mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “You are perfect and beautiful just the way you are.”
Honor the perfect spirit within you with beautiful foods. Choose colorful raw veggies, succulent fruits, beautiful fresh foods. Shop on the outer aisles of the grocery store. The Goddess within you doesn’t need junk. She desires to be fed strawberries, slowly and luxuriously. She deserves healthy, nourishing, organic produce, lean, hormone-free meats, and whole grains like quinoa and brown rice.
Make food an offering to your divine self. You wouldn’t feed the Divine Cheetos or Coca-Cola. You would pick fresh produce from your garden, create a beautiful salad, squeeze fresh juices, and luxuriate in the sensuous pleasure of color, crunch, and the bounty of the earth. Feed yourself with love.
Add green juice to your diet. Consider starting with a green juice detox cleanse to flush your system of toxins and stabilize your blood sugar. Drinking 3-4 servings of green juice per day helps eliminate unhealthy cravings.
Only eat when you’re hungry. Listen to your body. Eat slowly, with reverence. When you no longer feel truly hungry, stop eating.
Be mindful about what you put in your mouth. Remember, your body is your temple. Your spirit is divine.
Avoid emotional eating. If you feel something you don’t wish to feel, be brave enough to be with that feeling. Name the feeling. (“I feel pissed off at my boss.” “I feel sad that my father abused me when I was little.” “I feel bored and I hate my life.”) Honor your feelings. Give yourself permission to feel them. Instead of running to the kitchen, grab your journal. Write it down. You deserve to FEEL.
Move your beautiful body. Even if you can only manage a slow 20-minute walk per day, do it. You deserve it. Use the time as a meditation. Repeat affirmations to yourself such as “I am whole. I am lovable. I am perfect just the way I am.”
I’ve seen this work time and time again with my patients. And when it does, it’s sustainable. Believe in yourself. Love yourself. Be whole. You know you already are.
Loving you just as you are,
p.s. Check out Mojo Mentor Laura Fenamore’s community, OnePinky.com, for information and support on releasing weight from a place of self-love.
This post is copyright of and reprinted with permission from OwningPink.com.
In addition to the fact that those who participate are more likely to actually succeed with staying on-track, the added benefit is the private support group they get invited to join.
Inside the group, members are free to express themselves, share their thoughts and ideas about losing weight and working out and more. And the best part is that the other members support them in the process.
It’s kind of like having a whole group of diet buddies. And honestly, it’s kind of awesome.
So, if you’re looking for a support system to get the pounds off or to tone up what you’ve got, look no further.
“I’m going to do it this time. I really am! I’m going to stick to it no matter what. I’m so sick of being overweight and I’ve had it! This is “it” for me!”
I think we’ve all said something similar to ourselves at one time or another when we started the next “diet” we were going to try.
I would wake up that Monday morning with so much adrenaline pumping in my veins that it almost hurt. I would be so positive, so confidant, so excited.
I’d have willpower pouring out my ears. I’d even have a little extra spring in my step. “This is the first day of the rest of my life” I’d chirp as I ate my rice cake for breakfast and left for work.
And it worked…for a little while. I would have the willpower to say no to the donuts that somebody brought for breakfast that day.
“Nope, I’m on a diet. Thanks though” and the smile never left my face.
I would have the willpower not to have a tall frozen yummy chocolate coffee drink with about 10,000 calories per serving (with extra whipped cream of course!).
“No thanks! I’ll have one bottle of water please.” I’d sing to the pimple faced teen behind the counter.
Willpower would allow me to say “no thanks” to the pizza everybody ordered for lunch as I munched away happily on my salad and carrot sticks.
Willpower was all I needed to get through those tough and trying situations.
And then something strange and unexpected happened…willpower stabbed me in the back quicker than I could say “double bacon cheeseburger, extra bacon, extra cheese, add mayo and hold any sort of vegetable you may lay on it.”
Willpower is the dirty little secret that nobody warns you about.
If willpower were a person I’d call it a dirty liarmouth to its face.
And if anything, people lie to you about it’s abilities. It’ll fool ya all right.
Willpower sounds all great in the beginning. It makes you think you’re prepared to face the real world. It builds you up, makes you feel ready, gives you a pep talk, a slap on the back and then shoves you out there in the world, naked and exposed, to only slam the door behind you and click the lock so all the world see you standing on your porch in your birthday suit.
Then willpower watches from the window and giggles as you look for a leaf big enough to cover your ‘bare’ essentials.
It’s when you have that willpower, that super attitude that YOU CAN DO IT… that’s when dieting or lifestyle changes are easy.
Willpower makes it simple to embrace your life change and say “no” to the things you know aren’t healthy for you. Easy Peasy.
It’s what happens after the willpower diminishes that you really need to prepare yourself for.
We all know that feeling of empowerment that willpower brings fades out like a pair of stonewashed jeans (tight rolled of course, I am a child of the 80’s after all).
Sometimes it can last a few days… sometimes even a few weeks… but if you’re relying on willpower to take you through to the end, to get you across that finish line… then you are going into battle armed with nothing but a Nerf ball and some duct tape, both of which are fun and handy to have around, but neither of which will help you much in your weight loss endeavors.
I’ve had to mentally and physically prepare myself for when willpower packs it’s stuff and gets the hell out. It still comes back every once and a while to make an appearance but I’m no fool.
I know it will leave just as quickly as it came and right now there is no tree with leaves big enough to cover my “assets” out on that porch.
So here’s some things I’ve done to prepare myself for when willpower fails me.
I don’t keep “not the best choice of foods” in my house. Things like nutella, ice cream and baked goods, which are all my weaknesses, are best left at the store. If I must have nutella in the house, it’s kept in the cupboard that I do not get into on a regular basis. I once had a box of chocolates here that I just knew I had willpower enough to say “no” to. After eating about 10 of them (in about as many minutes) and then crying to my husband that I ate 10 chocolates, he threw them in the trash. I’ve not (successfully) had a box of chocolates in the house since. I have recognized this and know it’s a problem so I won’t try to kid myself that I can do it. It’s okay to be human and have faults.
I plan ahead for situations that tend to make me overeat, like parties. I know what I am going to do when I walk in. I know where to focus my attention and I know where to try to position myself in regards to food.
I have actually practiced dialogues to use when I’m in a “food pusher” situation to get me out of taking or eating food that I don’t need or want. We all have Auntie Meanswell, who knows you love _____ (insert food you are now trying to eat only on special occasions) and insists you have the second and third helping. Having a plan ahead of time has spared me fumbling for the rights words or worse yet, conceding to their pushing to save hurt feelings. *tip* ask Auntie Meanswell if she can pack some up “to-go” after you’ve had your first, regular portion. This means saving her feelings from being hurt, and you have the choice, away from her, as to what to do with the extra food.
When I don’t have the right frame of mind and come to a bump in my road I look back through the book that got me on this path, Dr. Phil’s “The Ultimate Weight Solutions”, and re-read the passages that I’ve highlighted. I re-read the things I have written while at Novarum, the center where I went for help regarding my food and weight issues. I refocus my attention on those small things that worked for me in the beginning because, low and behold, they will work for me now. I find the things that have proven to work for me and make sure they are still part of my daily routine. I allow myself to take things one day at a time, not feel rushed to lose weight, and to be human and make mistakes. I don’t need willpower for that…I can be powerless but still have a will.