Perspective.

I’ve let myself fall into somewhat of a bad head space recently.

Worrying too much about the number on the scale.

Comparing my progress, body, and abilities to others.

Over-analyzing my food choices.

I’ve let my non-scale victories go unnoticed and un-celebrated.

I’ve judged my journey against the path that others are on.

And forgotten that, while food is fuel, sometimes you eat because it tastes good, because you want to and always when you are hungry.

When I’m living out my healthy intentions the right way, I feel energized, positive and optimistic that all my goals will be realized.

But lately I’ve been feeling deprived. Not because I believe I actually am depriving myself, but because of my perspective on my actions.

This weekend a friend of mine, who regularly leads groups of people through the Amazon Jungle in Peru, took me hiking. I knew it was going to be a challenge, mentally and physically.

What started out as a flat path quickly turned into a steep climb through rocks, sticks and leaves.

As someone who only recently became regularly active, I still look at things like a steep hill and think, “I can’t do that.”

Seventy pounds ago, a hill like that would have left me out of breath a few steps in. But this weekend I made it the whole way with only a few pauses to look up ahead or look back at what I had just traversed.

At the top of the hill there was a giant rock he told me I would have to climb to get to the look-out point.

Again, I kept telling my friend, “I can’t do this.” At this point, however, I was speaking more out of fear rather than in doubt of my physical ability.

He saw something that was possible. I saw something that was impossible.

I made it to the top, and despite all my whining, was immensely grateful that he pushed me.

But it got me thinking, how many times has a negative perspective impacted my actions and skewed my journey?

Challenges, of course, don’t always present themselves in forms as clear as giant rocks or steep hills.

One of my biggest personal battles, which manifests itself as a roadblock in many different ways, is to believe that I am enough.

“Enough,” not dependent on my weight.

“Enough,” not dependent on how many times I went to the gym or how many miles I ran that week.

“Enough,” not dependent on whether I ate a salad or a box of cookies for dinner.

Having that experience hiking reminded me how important it is to be conscious of the messages we tell ourselves and the influences we let shape our opinions of ourselves.

Transforming my perspective changes “I can’t” to “I can.”

It makes “I want” into “I have,” and “challenge” into “opportunity.”

I’ve been focusing way too much on my weight, calories and exercise. Over-analyzing all these different parts of my life has made me feel disconnected from my body, not whole and lacking in some way. It’s time now to take a step back, and remind myself that where I am is a great place to be.

“I exist as I am, that is enough,”

– Walt Whitman

 

 

 

 

Everything is illuminated

I woke up excited to run Thursday.

It was a bright morning with a slight wind, and a little chilly. I ran slow. I ran steady. I admired the wispy clouds, nodded “hello” at the other morning runners and smiled at the sunshine.

I took time to appreciate the movement of my body. Thanked it for working so hard. For coping so well with all I put it through.

It’s easy to get frustrated. I sometimes get angry that for so many years I didn’t treat my body with the respect it deserved. And now? My knees ache, I’m sore from the gym, my shin splints throb. My body still isn’t used to the physical exertion.

But yesterday I ran through the pain. My mind was strong when my legs were tired. I had my spirit motivating me to complete the miles.

After I finished the run and stretched out my legs, I took a moment to just be still. Let my heart beat slow and my breath deepen.

I stared up at the sun and felt a rush of gratefulness.

One year ago, I thought, I would not have been up before work to run at the park. I would not have seen the sun streaming through the trees. I would not have heard the first signs of spring, chirping birds and a babbling river.

There is pain, there is frustration, there are moments of weakness. Keep going.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” – Lao Tzu

One change at a time

When I look back at the beginning of my weight loss journey, I can truly see how *this* time was different.

You know how I know that? Because I didn’t start out saying “this time is going to be different.”

A big reason people fail when they try to lose weight is because they focus too much on a dream of a different life and believe that simply being skinny will give them that different life.

Then they lose a bunch of weight through unsustainable methods and when they realize their life is no different, they go back to food as comfort.

Or at least that was how it had worked for me.

Hundreds and hundreds of times I would wake up full of enthusiasm always to end up, an hour later, a day later, a week later or a month later, hiding in my room eating everything in the kitchen. And when that food was gone, I would buy more.

It sounds crazy to think that a whole lifetime of habits can change in one single instant, but how many of us hold on to that hope?

Think of any skill, such as playing the piano. No one would expect to sit down at a piano and know how to play, but that’s the mindset of so many people when they say they want to lose weight.

When you take on too much too quickly, you’re bound to end up overwhelmed and eventually discouraged.

When I first began losing weight, other people thought I was crazy because I didn’t exercise and I didn’t plan on exercising. Seriously, I began my weight loss journey with a conscious decision  not to exercise.

Instead I focused on one change: food.

I lived and breathed and obsessed over nutrition every second of every day. I wrote down what I ate when I was awake and – true story – often dreamed about what I had eaten when I slept.

At first I tackled small challenges like weaning myself off of Lean Cuisines and learning how to go food shopping and then moved on to bigger things like exploring the reasons why I was an emotional, secret and binge eater.

Once in a while someone would tell me, “You know, you would lose weight faster if you exercised a couple of times a week.”

Good advice, maybe, but time was and is still not of the essence to me.

I continued on that path until one day I realized that healthy eating habits were suddenly mindless and just something I did. Grocery shopping no longer requires two hours in the store reading food labels, I can recognize real hunger from wanting to eat in response to my emotions, and the idea of ever consuming another Lean Cuisine again makes me gag.

I had a similar journey to exercise. Each day I would wake up with one thought on my mind: When can I walk today?

I walked before work, after work, in the dark, in the cold and rain and when temperatures rose above 100 degrees. I walked to get coffee, to meet my friends at the bar, to run errands and for frozen yogurt. If it was within a few miles, I would walk there. I canceled plans to fit in a walk and often made my friends walk with me.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to do everything at once, or everything perfectly from the beginning to lose weight. A lifestyle change doesn’t happen with a snap of a finger. There is no time limit for you to get it right. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by losing weight, especially when that number is over 100. But if you focus on actions and doing instead of results, and break down what needs to be done into manageable steps, everything really will fall into place.

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

I wish I had your motivation

This is such a cheesy way to begin a post, but I’m going to do it anyway.

If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “I wish I had your motivation” I’d be rich.

Filthy, stinkin’ rich!

But that’s not how life works. And that’s definitely not how motivation works.

When someone says that to me, especially someone I know well, I just want to scream, “Don’t you know me?!”

I would not describe myself as someone who is highly motivated at all. But I would say I am someone who is dedicated and willing to work hard to achieve the things I want.

Here are the two greatest things I ever did for myself:

  1.  I gave up on the idea that my weight loss would one day be miraculously be “sparked” by something
  2.  I gave up on the notion of will power/motivation.

Let me clarify.

Motivation is real. I might read something, see something, do something that motivates me or others. But the idea that some people have motivation and others don’t? Complete crap.

And falling back on excuses like “I’m not motivated” really means, “I don’t believe I can do it.”

Motivation becomes an excuse for people to cite as the reason why they fail at achieving their goals. They’ll say things like, “Oh I just don’t have the motivation.”

A few days ago I posted a quote on the blog from Pinterest.

“It’s actually pretty simple. You either do it or you don’t.”

That philosophy is what real change is built on. Not motivation or will power. Just simply doing it and not stopping.

Motivation has its place, but like weight loss, it’s the result of action and not the other way around.

For example: I am motivated because I go to the gym every day, but I don’t go to the gym every day because I am motivated.

You see the difference?

It’s about doing. Not wishing, or hoping, or dreaming. And doing doesn’t have to mean go out and run a mile! Doing can be anything from writing about your goals in a journal to grocery shopping for healthy foods.

I didn’t wake up one day after a visit from the motivation fairy and suddenly say “I am going to lose 100 pounds.”

I built my current lifestyle from the ground up. I worked hard to make changes that have resulted in weight loss and I’ve stayed dedicated to my goals by writing and speaking about them often.

Don’t sell yourself short by blaming lack of action on lack of motivation. The power to change is within all of us.

Happy Friday 🙂

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Planning for success

I was finishing up stretching at the gym when I received this email from my sister:

 

Tomorrow, in order to combat the weekend blues I’ve been having, I will get up early and try the new spin class being offered at my gym.

I’ve never taken a spin class before, but there’s a first time for everything, right?

Knowing a plan is in place to keep my motivation high over the weekend just makes me feel so much better.

Off to work!

Happy Friday 🙂

 

In the now

Today I’m going to the gym because:

Source: tumblr.com via Amber on Pinterest

Get it together

Um, you guys, I forgot how hard losing weight was.

I’m not really sure how I forgot. But I did.

All calories matter. Even the candy you brought home from India and shared with the office but ended up eating a lot of. All the extra dips of hummus, the I’ll-just-have-one of’s and especially all the coffees from Starbucks. All calories. All matter.

I think I’ve been living in a world of compliments, because I’ve been seriously slacking on accomplishing any weight loss.

Even before I left for India, I was in a pretty rough spot between two stubborn pounds.

I’ve been relaxing on a web of fear and lies for the last couple of months, telling myself that it’s okay if my progress has slowed.

But last night I went to bed upset with the choices I’ve been making. I haven’t been honoring my voice. The one that knows better. The one that has the power to override all the outside pressures.

And for that, self, I’m sorry.

It’s time again to put myself back in the driver’s seat. Because at the end of the day, I’m the one that has to live with my actions. I will do what’s best for me even if others don’t get it. I will do what’s best for me even if it’s not popular.

I won’t be motivated by fear.

I won’t let fear make me complacent.

I won’t let fear tell me I can’t accomplish my goals.

I can.

And I will.

Don’t be fooled

Sometimes the gym sucks.

It’s been one of those weeks where I have no motivation to workout. Usually, when I have a great sweat session, it encourages me and I can’t wait to go back. But on the days where I’m dragging and have low energy, it’s hard to get into a good routine.

When that happens, I try to remember that I don’t have to be excited to go to the gym every day. It is ok to have bad days, as long as you don’t let them discourage you completely. Because my workout schedule is pretty much habit now, I don’t get stressed if some days just don’t happen for me.

Also, I try and think of any reasons why I might be feeling this way. Last night, it was because my legs were tight and I still feel like I’m getting shin splints. I really wanted to run and I wasn’t able to and that put me in a funk. Also, I went after dinner. It was more crowded with a different group of people and I was tired and ready to go to sleep.

Icing my shin with blueberries. Totally normal.

It helps sometimes to realize those things, so you can avoid the same mistakes and make going to the gym more pleasurable.

I also really didn’t want to be there. I typically never force myself to go to the gym, but I have a few mantras and bribes that usually work.
When I’m really feeling low, I tell myself I will just do 10 minutes, and then I can leave. I always end up staying longer.

Or I say to myself: “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.”

And sometimes all it takes is a few minutes reading about other bloggers who had a killer workout.

The number one motivator for me is remembering that the gym is my time to unwind. It will do much more for relieving stress than an hour on Hulu. Sometimes the goal of physical activity is not physical, it’s just to zone out to some good music.

I am usually happy to be there.

The best part is, after taking it easy for a few days and riding out the funk, my body is ready to be PUSHED and I can knock out some great workouts.

And bragging rights of course. Nothing feels better than showing up to work full of energy, knowing you already accomplished something that day!