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No More Stalling:

Embracing Inspiration and Choosing Wellness

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February 2016

Mindfulness is only one part of the process

Cant see plants growing

If you’re like me – and millions of other people out there in the process of trying to lose weight and adopt more healthy living practices – the following phrase might grab your attention:

“Think Yourself Thin: Mindfulness can help you fight obesity, other bad habits”

This was the front page headline of the Life section in this morning’s newspaper. I figured I should read it.

Making the decision to even attempt to lose weight is the first step, and that is a mindful activity, right?

The entire decision-making process around this life-changing event should incorporate a bit of “why am I doing this?” and “why do I need to do this?” and “what is the root cause for why I am doing this, and am I willing to slay that beast?” – again, all mindful questions that really dig down to the core.

The article’s author (and sources) likely assumed the reader would realize that “mindfulness”, in and of itself, is not a cure-all, but instead one tool or approach that may aid someone tackling a difficult issue – in this case, weight loss. At least I sure hope so.

A text box was strategically positioned touting these “proven tips for success”:

  • deep breathing
  • don’t judge yourself
  • use smaller plates so the appearance of smaller portions look more substantial
  • don’t eat at your desk or in your car.

Okey-dokey, then. What’s the saying about not being able to make a purse out of a pig’s ear? Yeah, that. Those four tips are nice, but they aren’t going to get it done for me, boys and girls.

I’m not sure why this article ticked me off so much. 

But it did.

The best I can figure is that losing weight is hard.

I know. I’ve tried – and then stopped for one reason or another – many, many times before starting again this past Oct.

Just the process itself for trying to lose weight is intimidating as Hell.

And it requires a whole lot more than being mindful.

At this point in the game – five months in, and only five months in to what will need to be a lifetime change if I want to appreciate the results – I’ve become a lot more critical of “advice” and “tips”. Especially from experts who have never had weight management issues or lost a major amount of weight. I’m sorry, but even though losing 10 pounds may be a big deal and should be applauded because it is an accomplishment…I’m not going to consider that person an expert.

Am I an expert? Hell, no.

BUT I have lost 50 pounds (so far) in less than five months.

It just means I have experience and can relate.

And adopted healthier eating habits. And initiated a personal exercise program. And battled cravings. And caved a few times. And gotten back up on my feet the following day without beating myself up – too much.

I’ve taken the initiative to make it happen. One day at a time. One step at a time.

“People who succeed at the highest level are not lucky; they’re doing something differently than everyone else.” – Tony Robbins

This right there is the “secret”, if there is such thing as a “secret to losing weight”.

Losing weight is hard work. Very. Hard. Work. 

It takes a lot of things. Commitment. Initiative. Growth. Drive. Compassion. Willpower. Forgiveness. Faith. Willingness. Curiosity. Acceptance. Strength. Patience. Perseverance.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races, one after another.” – Walter Elliott

The take-home message is simple.

There is no one easy way to accomplish a major goal, especially weight loss. No quick fix. Not one thing alone will do it for you. It takes time and effort. What works for one person may not work for another. And that’s OK. Do it anyway and do it for yourself. 

Be inspired. You’re worth it.

 

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Picture a change: step by step

I made a pact with myself that I would share photos as I went through various phases of this “wellness process” – not a very comfortable thing for me to do. Nope. Not at all.

And honestly, there aren’t very many of them to show, either.

But, sometimes you have to do what you really don’t want to do. 

This is one of those times.

So, here goes.

The first photo below was taken Sept. 30, 2015, at World Dairy Expo in Madison. I started my “wellness journey” the following Monday, Oct. 5.

(Photo credit: Randy Blodgett, All-Breeds Blog)
WDE 2015

The photo below was taken Feb. 14, 2016.

What a difference four months and losing 48.7 pounds makes. 

 

Photo 1

I’m not quite halfway there yet, but I’m still making steady process.

I’m all about transparency and full disclosure. Is it embarrassing to share details about my weight? Nah.

 

I’ve done far more embarrassing things than losing weight, let me tell ya’.

 

Succeeding is not embarrassing: it’s freeing and humbling.

And pretty awe-inspiring, actually.

 

Weigh date Weight
Monday, February 15th 189.0 lbs
Tuesday, February 9th 190.4 lbs
Monday, February 8th 192.5 lbs
Tuesday, February 2nd 193.8 lbs
Monday, January 25th 195.4 lbs
Monday, January 18th 198.9 lbs
Monday, January 11th 200.0 lbs
Monday, January 4th 202.5 lbs
Tuesday, December 29th 206.7 lbs
Monday, December 21st 205.8 lbs
Tuesday, December 15th 208.7 lbs
Tuesday, December 8th 210.6 lbs
Tuesday, December 1st 212.2 lbs
Monday, November 23rd 213.0 lbs
Monday, November 16th 216.6 lbs
Monday, October 26th 222.4 lbs
Monday, October 19th 223.4 lbs
Tuesday, October 13th 226.0 lbs
Monday, October 5th 237.7 lbs

 

This personal experience is like so many in my life and, most likely, yours as well.

Taken alone, as a single incident, each step exists as only a blip on the screen.

Steps taken together, however, form a pattern, create a fuller picture, and write a more complete story.

I may be halfway (or more, who knows?) through my life, but damn it, my story has just started. I have many more steps to take, some on a mapped path and others unscripted.

It takes courage to put one foot in front of the other. To move forward. Step by step.

Fear can force you to fall backward. Or simply not to move at all.

I’ve stood still so long that I’m surprised my feet aren’t permanently affixed to the ground.

It’s not just about losing weight. Losing weight, choosing wellness, any or all of that – it takes a certain amount of courage. One can physically see the difference when one loses weight. What one cannot physically visualize, however, are the other changes happening to a person. The process often exposes things that one may not immediately see or want to accept.

But if you’re at that point where you’re ready…then do it.

Is it easy? Nope.

Is it worth doing? Yes, it is.

Be courageous. Be honest. Trust yourself. 

Pull together your inner circle

You’re worth it.

 

Supporting success

Not too many (smart) people will argue that starting with a solid foundation is pretty important if you want whatever it is that you’re building to last.

Having a solid support network is a key ingredient to success.

A solid support network encourages, empathizes, cheers, assists, listens, or does whatever it is that needs to be done. Without questions. Without judging.

 

Friends should motivate and inspire you

Maybe you can do whatever it is that you’re doing alone. But why would you want to?

When I completed the first week of my “new me” lifestyle back in October, I chose a handful of friends to whom I would be accountable. These friends know my story and the battles I’m currently waging. I know on any given day, and for any given reason, I can reach out and they’ll be there for me. No judging. No questions.

Members of my inner circle know, unless I’m on my death bed, I’m willing to move mountains for them. When I go in, I go all in. We all need to have at least a couple of these types of people in our lives. Who are these people in your life? Even if you’re not currently pursuing a major event in your life, whether it’s healing from a health issue or losing weight, caring for an elderly parent or dealing with a challenging relationship, identify those people who belong in your inner support circle. Nurture those relationships.

What’s the next step? Ask, “In whose life do I play this role?“, and then be there. No judging. No questions.

Who do you inspire? 

 

 

It’s going to be hard, but hard is not impossible.

I love this image from Ranch House Designs.

(A fun piece of trivia: Rachel Cutler of Ranch House Designs was an intern in ANR Communications when she was a grad student at MSU. We knew her before she became famous. 🙂

Its going to be hard but not impossible

The message can symbolize whatever it is that you’re attempting to do: losing weight, mustering the courage to speak in front of an audience, practicing a new language, learning how to tie your shoes….

And, if experience has taught me anything, it’s that regardless of how good we actually become at doing whatever it is that we’re doing, there will still be those days when things just don’t turn out quite so well. But don’t give up.

Don’t give up.

I wrestle with self-esteem issues and have for as long as I can remember. I’m assuming it traces back to middle and high school since I wasn’t overly popular and was made fun of and stuff. I really have no idea why, looking back now, but it was what it was. And I was shy deep down to top it off. I’m still an introvert, but I’ve been known to disguise that trait when I’m in comfortable surroundings. It can be a hoot to watch or scary as Hell, all depending on which side of the road you’re standing.

I mentioned to my son last week that I’ve always struggled with low self-esteem.

He said, “I know you have Mom. That’s just sad. You need to just get over it.”

Talk about getting a comeuppance. And from a 12-year-old.

But he’s right.

In all seriousness, I will never tell you – or imply – that making changes is easy. Or for the faint of heart. But I will tell you that you won’t fail. I repeat: you will not fail. Even if you have to start over again tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that, trying again is still an act of moving forward. Find that little nugget – no matter how small it may seem to be to you – that is a positive, something that you have learned from the experience, something that you can build upon. Sometimes that means digging deeper and stretching the meaning or correlation.

You won’t fail. I repeat: you will not fail.

Here’s an example. It may not be the best example, but it’s an example. I have always struggled with emotional eating – and frankly eating anything that’s just “there” and looks appetizing. I’m not hungry, but damn!, that chocolate chip cookie looks good and one won’t hurt me. Oh, what the heck, I’ll have another one, two…you get the idea. And donuts. My goodness, I love Quality Dairy donuts…and Tim Horton’s donuts and Meijer donuts. And cake. And let’s not forget ice cream. My God, I like ice cream. So…I guess I have a sweets problem. Now I have a coffee addiction. Instead of eating any snacks throughout the day, aside from an apple if I must have something, I’ll grab another cup of coffee. Let’s just say I drink a lot of coffee. A. lot. of. coffee. But I’m not eating sweets.

What’s the takeaway? I was not going to be able to pass up the stuff. (For those who say, “well, just don’t have it in the house!” OK, you can handle that conversation with the others living here. 😉 I’m not going there. It’s a fight I’m not having.) I realized this after taking and stuffing “just a half cookie” into my mouth. And then marching my butt over to my phone to type into my Weight Watchers app that I had just eaten half of a large cookie…4 points. I did that twice. I don’t do that anymore.

Same goes for portions. I like to eat. A lot. And by “a lot”, I mean great big quantities. Or, I should say, I used to like to eat a lot. It took me about five or six weeks from when I first started my weight loss journey, but now I simply don’t require that much food. I simply can’t consume it; I don’t need it. The night I only ate half of my steak and saved the rest for the next day? One would have thought I’d won the lottery by the way I was whooping it up that I hadn’t eaten it all. I had never, ever not finished it all before. It was on my plate and I was supposed to finish. But for some reason, I had this little chat with myself.

Conscience: You don’t need to eat all that. You’re not hungry anymore.

Me: Yeah…but it’s there. It’s cut into pieces.

Conscience: But are you hungry?

Me: No. But it’s there.

Conscience: But you don’t need it. You’re not hungry.

Me: Hey! You’re right!

Pan off to watch me patting myself on the back.

Examples for you might range from realizing you need to save up points – or your regular serving of fruit or whatever (if you’re on WW) – every Tuesday night because when you’re favorite TV show comes on, you ARE going to want to eat something, to packing a portable breakfast to eat on your way to work so you don’t end up binging on other things before lunch.

The idea is for you to identify the issue or problem, acknowledge it, and then address it with a possible solution.

With the second example, it might look like this:

  • Identify: I binge mid-morning because I’m hungry.
  • Acknowledge: I binge mid-morning because I don’t eat breakfast or the right kind of breakfast.
  • Address: Pack a breakfast that I can eat on the way to work so that I’m not hungry mid-morning.

 

Sure it’s going to be hard. If it was going to be easy, you would already have done it!

Challenges have their rewards.

And you are not going to fail. 

It’s time.

It’s time.

Time to dive in head-first and do this. I’ve talked about starting a blog/website for a long time now, but you know how it goes: one spends more time second-guessing and planning and editing and so on and so forth that, in the end, nothing gets done and the next thing you know it’s a year later. Or two.

I’m not even sure how this is all going to come together and/or turn out, but you know what? I’m just going to do it anyway. Because, well, it’s time.

I’ve got a lot to say and share and I’m not getting any younger. And maybe that’s what is finally prodding me the most. Not just on this blog thing, but on a whole bunch of things in my life. I’m 47 years old – 47 years old! – yes, I’m rolling my eyes. And what have I done with my life? Besides the typical things we do day-in and day-out. Bet I’m not the only 47-year-old who has ever asked that question! Wasn’t I just like 25 or 27 or 30 years old? What the Hell happened? I’m on the downhill ascent now! This cannot be happening. But it is.

I’m actually thankful that I’m a spiritual person – not religious, but spiritual. If I wasn’t, I doubt I’d be as positive and excited about looking forward to what God has still planned for me. That is, if I listen up and do what He directs and guides me to do. I’m typically pretty good about that – and that will all really come together for you and you’ll understand once I share the “car accident” story at some point – but sometimes I am too afraid to take a step forward in Faith and do what I need to do. Or should do. I worry that I’m going to do something wrong and destiny will be all screwed up. As if I could screw up God’s Plan! Ha! He’s got this. Right? Right.

I’m going with it.

Since Oct. 5 (2015), my entire life has done a 360. I had been sensing intuitively for quite some time that change was brewing, but I didn’t know when or how. To be honest, I still don’t know much. I just know that before that date is “before” and after that date is “after” – and I’m traveling down an entirely different road. I’m not sure where I’m heading. I’m not sure what awaits me. I’m not too sure about anything these days.

I’m trying to live for me. I’m trying not to be too selfish about it, but after taking care of everyone else and feeling as if I was simply trudging along for so long…. There was the lung deal, the not-so-fun recovery from that, a difficult pregnancy, three miscarriages, gall bladder surgery, my dad’s health conditions, my mom’s health issues, financial disruptions, walking away from a difficult workplace situation, more parental health challenges and then figuring out the entire eldercare dynamics with nursing homes and Medicaid and this and that, my mom’s car accident and subsequent issues with that, my dad’s death, my mom’s emergency heart procedure, my mother moving in with us because she could no longer be on her own after her accident, remodeling (all within six months). And then there are those things that I simply won’t put in print. But, you know what? It’s all good. Really. My son just told me that I’m having a mid-life crisis. Sure. Why not? Sounds good to me.

Where is this headed? I have no idea. I guess it’s called “back story”. Those who know me know that it takes a lot to rattle me. I have shoulders of steel. And a heart of gold. Usually. 

With all seriousness, one thing I will be sharing are stories related to my wellness journey.

Since Oct. 5 and as of Feb. 1, I have lost 43.8 pounds. I’m going to be transparent – and show vulnerability by sharing details about things such as my weight and stuff “ladies aren’t supposed to talk about” – but if relaying how I have done this leads just one other person to take that first step to making a positive change in his/her life, then it will be worth it.

It’s time.

Hang on. It’s going to be a fun ride.

 

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