Category Archives: This’n’That

The Power of Words

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Words are incredibly powerful

This morning, I received a private message on Facebook from someone with whom I went to high school. She said she finds my posts motivational and they make her think twice while eating a bowl of ice cream. Her 40th is close to mine, and she wants to get in shape, too.

The funny thing is that this was one of the girls of whom I was so jealous of in high school! She was (and still is!) very pretty, and I remember wishing I looked more like her and her friends back then. (She probably has no idea I felt this way! lol)

When I was in high school, I was 5’9″ and weighed 160-170 lbs – by no means unhealthy. But so many of the girls around me were waif-like beauties. I had curves, and I hated them. I so wanted to look like the skinny girls at school. Having been called “fat,” “COW-en” and “jabba the **ut” in elementary school, I took those words to heart, and believed it to be true. Those words became my mindset. When I got to high school and I saw all the skinny girls getting boyfriends, my sense of self worth plummeted. (Turns out two boys I really, really liked were gay. They didn’t ignore me because I was fat. The ignored me because I wasn’t a boy!) I associated my lack of friends with my physical appearance. I was lonely, and I ate to fill the void.

To this day, I struggle with words. I am trying to overcome this. I am learning not to take things personally. I am learning to stop listening to the voices from my past.

But it’s not other people’s voices that are the problem. It’s my voice. It’s the words I tell myself. And, sadly, at times, I can be very hard on myself. Those voices we hear, “Oh, what’s one bowl of ice cream? I can exercise tomorrow,” “I’m too tired/busy/hot/cold/(enter excuse here) to exercise today” – we believe them. The more we say it, the more we believe it. The good news? We can change the messages we tell ourselves!

I know I tell myself a lot of negative things; even though, to the rest of the world, I seem like an upbeat, positive person, to myself, I am very pessimistic. In fact, I can be down right mean to myself. I struggle to treat myself with kind words.

I’ve written about Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements” before. His first agreement is “Be Impeccable with your Words.” I am finding it easier to be impeccable with my exterior words – it’s actually quite easy to say nice things to others. It’s a lot harder to say nice things to ourselves.

I have found one solution that seems to be working, and it involves my trusty little iPhone. At times, I think this blog should be called “How to Lose Weight Using Just an iPhone” because I’m finding lots of great ways to use technology in this journey.

So, here’s what you do to use your iPhone to help you change the messages you tell yourself:

1. Go to the Calendar app, and hit the little “+” button in the top right hand corner.

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2. The “Add Event” Screen will appear. Under “title” write a positive affirmation. Remember to keep it short – if it’s too long, when the reminder pops up, you won’t see the whole thing.

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3. Set a time for the event – preferably some time when you’ll see it.

 

4. Click on repeat, and select “Every Day”

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5. Click on alert and select “At time of event”

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6. Add a note if you’d like.

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Now, every day at the same time, you’ll get a reminder filled with positive affirmations. I have one that pops up every day at 3:30, reminding me that I deserve to be healthy. This pops up on my way home from work, and is a great reminder to exercise when I get home.

The words we tell ourselves hold such power. Wars have been started over words. Words become beliefs. If we hear something enough, we believe it. The words I tell myself, my beliefs about who I am are the biggest obstacles in my path to success.

My struggle right now? Exercise. I have been fairly good at cutting back on mindless eating, not eating when I’m not hungry, avoiding emotional eating, and tracking my food. But creating a regular exercise routine? Hasn’t been happening. Perhaps this is because I don’t believe myself to be an athlete. Perhaps I don’t believe that I can actually do it. Those words need to change. I need to put together a regular exercise schedule and routine and stick to it.

And when I think about it – this is the biggest goal I have. This blog isn’t called “Thin by Forty”, it’s called “Fit by Forty.” Maybe I need to stop focusing on the actual weight loss and begin focusing on creating a healthy lifestyle based around fitness. I am going to examine how my beliefs about exercise and fitness are preventing me from achieving my goals.

To all my friends who have given me encouraging words, cheered me on and supported me since starting this blog, thank you. Your words truly are powerful and inspire me to persist towards my goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not all that smart.

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Ok, so today I’m kinda pissed off. A friend told me I’d have more “social capital” if I was thin. This was in reference to my frustration at blind dates who seemed nice, only to hear that “the chemistry just isn’t there.” Argh. Are all men so shallow as to not see beyond a person’s physical appearance? Hell, I’m a lot better looking than some of the skinny bitches out there. I once had a man tell me, on a first date, that he really liked me, but didn’t want to date me if I was planning on staying fat. He had recently lost a significant amount of weight, and wanted to be with someone who was like-minded. Funny thing? I lost weight while we were together, and he gained it.  My ex-husband used to say, “I’d love you more if you were thin.” Ironically, he was 6’6″ and 330 lbs.

Once I was supposed to meet a man at Starbucks for coffee. We had connected on an online dating site. I had seen his photo. When I walked up to him at the coffee shop, he utterly ignored me – completely pretended he didn’t hear me say his name. I guess he didn’t like what he saw.  Jerk.

Yes. I do realize that I’m being rather ugly right now. I’m also pissed off because my friend was right: it would be easier to get a man if I was thin. At least here in Vancouver, as it seems men in this part of the world are incredibly vain. I’m pissed off at myself for not trying harder to be fit. I’m just in an all around crabby mood. If it weren’t for the free tickets I won to the Jazz Festival (a week-long Hopper Pass!!), I’d be downright bitchy.

Then there’s my friend Jodi. Jodi rocks. She is a kindergarten teacher… but not your typical warm fuzzy, sticky-sweet, appliqué-sweater-wearing soft-spoken granny. Nope. She rocks. She has become a great friend this year at work. It’s always nice to make friends at a new job, even nicer when they’re really cool.

Jodi is super athletic. She’s a power house! She sets goals and works her ass off to achieve them. I wish I had half the energy and motivation she has. Today, she posted in her blog about not being able to meet a physical goal of hers because of illness. But she’s not letting it get her down. Sure, she didn’t reach her goal by her intended date, but she’s persevering nonetheless. This woman lets nothing get in her way. She is, in a word, amazing. Her blog really inspired me today to not be bummed out by set backs.

I title my post tonight “Not all that smart” because I realized, on my ride home from an amazing jazz concert, that I haven’t set any real “SMART” goals. You know, Specific, Manageable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.  This is exactly why I’m not moving towards my goal of being Fit by 40. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the philosophy of it all, trying to wrap my head around it, working on emotional eating, but I haven’t set any real goals.

Time for that to change.

A while back, I bought a game for the Wii. EA Sports Active or something like that. It has this 30 day challenge, created by Bob Greene – that guy who trains Oprah Winfrey. I’ve started it a few times but never gotten past the 4th or 5th workout. So, I’m thinking that I’m going to replace my morning yoga with this 30 day challenge program. I’m already getting up at 5am to work out, and this workout isn’t much longer than my yoga DVD.

I’ve also downloaded the SparkPeople app for tracking my food and exercise. I know one thing for certain: the only time I’ve ever been successful in losing weight is when I did two things:

  1. Tracked my food/kept a food diary.
  2. Exercised regularly with a mixture of cardio and resistance training.

I’ve been mulling this over for a week now.  I know exactly what I need to do. It isn’t rocket science. I don’t know why tracking my food is so darn difficult. Why do I resist it so? Hmm… must psychoanalyse that a bit more.

Ok, so here are my smart goals for the week:

  1. Track my food for the next week. I’m not even going to worry if I eat crap. I’m just going to write it all down, even the not-so-healthy choices. Perhaps if the food choice is fuelled by emotions, I could make a note of that somewhere. I have a small notebook that I bought for this purpose. It’s in my car glove box. I will keep a food diary for the next week, aiming to do it for every meal, every day, but forgiving myself if I miss a meal or two. And, forgiving myself for not eating healthily.
  2. Wake up at 5am to exercise, this time using the 30 day challenge. My goal is to complete this challenge in the allotted 30 days. I am already in the habit of waking up to exercise, just not on the weekends. This week, I will make sure that I have my exercise clothes ready the night before, and make sure I’ve got all of the various Wii paraphernalia ready to go in the morning. I picked up a pack of batteries this morning, so I can’t use “the batteries are dead”  excuse.
  3. I will continue to drink at least one of my big water bottles per day. I’ve been adding lemons to the water, and this week I think I’ll try adding different fruit. Yum! Better than CrystalLite and tastier, too. I will drink one to two big bottles of water every day.
  4. I will remember to take my multivitamin with green tea extract every day at lunch time. I will keep track of this by writing it in my food diary.
  5. I will check in every night here on my blog to record how my goals for the day went.

 

So that’s it: Track my food, work on the 30 day challenge, drink water, take a vitamin, and check in every day with a short post recording how well I did keeping those goals. I am only going to focus on this week. Who cares about next week or next month. Hell, let’s just get through the next day.

Instant Gratification

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Now. Now. NOW! I want it NOW!

We live in a world of instant gratification. It wasn’t that long ago that google would tell you that it completed your search in 1.7 seconds. Today, I googled “instant gratification” and had results before I had even finished typing! If our facebook page doesn’t load within 5 seconds, we get impatient. And it’s affecting our health.

According to recent article in Time Magazine from May 7, 2012,

“… most obesity isn’t caused by a lack of access to affordable produce or time to cook. It’s the result of short-term over long-term thinking. Cooking sucks. Eating a salad takes forever. Fast food is delicious, easy, fun, cheap, reliable and can be scarfed down so quickly there isn’t time to fight with your family. One Thanksgiving meal does more emotional damage than a lifetime of Wendy’s.”*

We are so used to instant gratification that I can’t help but wonder if we’ve forgotten what achieving long-term goals feels like. Because we don’t have long-term achievements in mind, it is so easy to succumb to the here and now, the drive-through burger and fries. It is so easy to fill our bellies right now – if I’m in a rush, I can easily grab take-out and eat it in the car. I bet everyone reading this has at least one fast food french fry on the floor of their car that’s been there for months!

It isn’t just this instant need for food, and our impatience to prepare it, it’s more than that. I’ll admit: I’m guilty of fast food. There are often times when I get home from work, tired and rushing to get some kid out the door to some activity and the easiest option for dinner is take-out. Or, not even in a rush – I’ve done that when I’m just too drained to think about cooking. And I know I’m not alone: the line-ups at the drive-through at 6pm prove it.

No, it’s more than that need for speedy meals. We also use food to instantly calm our fears, anxiety, worries, sadness, loneliness…. the list goes on. I did it myself, just tonight. I was having a bit of an anxiety attack about something over which I have absolutely no control. So, what did I do? I grabbed a bowl of ice cream. And, for the few minutes that the creamy goodness melted in my mouth, I was able to forget (or at least, quiet) my anxiety. But it didn’t last. The anxiety is still there. And now the calories are, too. I know what I should’ve done: I should have called a friend; played piano; gone for a walk; meditated; done some yoga; had a cup of tea… but, the ice cream was quicker. I was afraid of my anxiety and, rather than face it, I tried to get instant gratification through ice cream. And it wasn’t even good ice cream. It was the cheap stuff in the huge container from the grocery store. blech.

In today’s fast-paced society, we have practically instant access to food. And, as we look  at the obesity epidemic around us, I’m pretty certain that this instant access is part of the problem. I bet if all of us chubby folks had to go out into the field and grow our own food we wouldn’t be so fat!

The sad thing is that our culture panders to our need for instant gratification, especially the weight loss industry. We want to lose weight, and we want to lose it now. At the grocery store check-out magazines with bikini-clad models scream out headlines like “Lose 15 pounds by next week! New Miracle Diet: Eat Oreos and Lose 20 lbs!” It’s not just magazines, either. One weight loss program promises that you’ll lose up to 20 lbs/month by injecting yourself full of vitamins. Another one pumps you up with expensive supplements “especially designed for your body type.” Hell, even the name Slim Fast  implies instant gratification! All of these weight loss programs use “before and after” pictures to market their snake oil. “Wow!” we think “Look at her! She looks so good” as we stare at two pictures, instantly side by side. We are conditioned to want results immediately, and the weight loss industry is making big money off of it. If all of these fad diets and expensive weight loss centres really worked, the medical community would be on board, and (at least here in Canada), all fat people would get such programs covered by their provincial medical plans.

How many of us have started a “diet” only to give up after a few weeks because we’re not seeing the results we wanted to see? It’s a month into your new diet, you’ve only lost 5 lbs. You were hoping to have lost at least 20 by now, so you quit.

With the rare exception, most of us were not born overweight. We’re overweight because of our habits. Habits – good and bad – don’t happen overnight, they take years to develop. Why do we expect to have instant success in weight loss when the weight didn’t instantly appear?

I stepped on the scale this morning. I was happy to see that the numbers have edge down ever so slightly. That scale is so instant. I step on it, it tells me a number.

A number. Just a number. Not how successful I’ve been this week.

I love this photo. I would add one more thing:

* The numbers on this scale will not tell you how successful you’ve been at changing your old, unhealthy habits to new, healthier ones.

I’ll admit: my mood can be affected by the numbers I see on the scale. I judge my success by those numbers and if it’s not instantly what I want to see, I feel like a failure.

I can’t help but wonder if I’ve got it all wrong. Of course, I want the numbers on the scale to go down. But I’m in this for the long haul.  If I want long-lasting success, I need to change my habits and, more importantly, my lifestyle. That doesn’t happen over night. This isn’t a quick-fix thing. This is a major change in my life. It requires perseverance, diligence, patience, and, most importantly, kindness. Change is not easy. It takes time and commitment. Yes, I will experience setbacks as my body and psyche struggle to stay within the confines of the comfortable known.

But the rewards will be worth it. Being healthy, fit, active. Feeling alive and empowered. That amazing feeling of success. I can do this. I will do this. I am doing this!

* For the record: I love family dinners! I only have happy memories of Thanksgiving meals. The best one was when my Granny looked at my (now ex-)husband’s new grown goatee, and, rather randomly said, “Your face looks like an anus.” Oh Granny, if you’re looking down from heaven, thank you! That still makes me giggle 🙂 (And it was so true! lol)

Trying something new

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I am not a morning person. Yes, even though I get up every morning at 5am to do yoga, I am truly not a morning person.  It takes me forever to get moving and out the door for work. When I worked from home, my mornings were leisurely, slow and gradual. I’d sit around drinking a cup of coffee, reading the paper and eating a nice breakfast. Now, with a 45 minute commute, breakfast is often consumed in the car.

For a while now, I’d been eating frozen, microwaved breakfast sandwiches. In my defence, they were Weight Watchers ones, but they were still pre-cooked, frozen and reheated eggs. About two months ago, I gave up the breakfast sandwiches for smoothies. I bought a couple of cans of Slim Fast, some frozen fruit, and I was good to go.

Yesterday, when I was getting my hair cut, my incredibly fit and slim, body-building-competitor-hairdresser kept mentioning flax seeds and flax oil. This isn’t the first time as of late that flax seed has popped into my consciousness. When that happens, I typically see it as more than a coincidence! When, later that night, I was at the market and saw milled flax seed with blueberries, I decided to pick up a bag and try it.

This morning, I added it to my smoothie. Here’s the recipe I used:

1 c. skim milk

1/2 c. plain fat-free yogurt

1 c. frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, pineapple and mango)

2 tbsp milled flax seed

1 package of Splenda

And that was it. Throw it all in the blender and ta-da! 5 ingredients. I just took a look at a Slim Fast can: over 30 ingredients, some of which I can’t pronounce. To tell you the truth, at first taste, I didn’t really like it this new recipe. It wasn’t nearly as sweet as my chocolately-chemical-ladden “diet” shake. But, as I drank it, I got used to it. It had a slightly nutty flavour that wasn’t all together unpleasant.

But what struck me was how full I felt all morning! Usually, I hop in the car and have the shake finished long before I reach the end of the main drag in my small town. Today, I was almost at the highway before I finished the shake. I usually have a banana following the shake, but this morning, I was just too full. Mid-morning, I eat some yogurt, berries and all-bran. Couldn’t finish it all until after lunch.

I am going to try it again tomorrow, but I need to find a way to make it a bit sweeter. I’m not really keen on the whole Splenda thing. I’m using 3-5 packets of that per day, and I’m pretty certain it isn’t necessarily the healthiest choice. However, I hesitate to use honey or some other sweetener for the calories.

I think tomorrow I’ll try peanut butter, banana and flax seed, milk and yogurt. Maybe a splash of vanilla.

If you have a good smoothie recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Please leave your suggestions in the comment section below 🙂

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder….?

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I came across this photo the other day:

At first I was like “You go girl!”

But now? Yeah. Not so much.

What’s that, you say? I’m being a hypocrite? After all, Karen, you’ve been everything from a size 12 to a size 24. You should embrace your curves, love your body. Let’s empower the fat girls.

I can call them fat girls because I’m one of them. You skinny bitches? Unless you’ve ever bought and worn queen-sized pantyhose, shut up. You can’t call us fat girls. Only fat girls can call us fat girls.

Yup. I’m one of them, but I’m not sure I see this photo as empowering. At first I did. I thought, “Wow, good for you, chubby girl! Posing naked with a sign takes a lot of courage. I sure as hell wouldn’t do it.”  And, I do agree with the whole perception of beauty thing – really, is a size 2 that beautiful? Bony yes. Unhealthy, most of the time. (I’m sure there are some size 2 women out there who complain about needing to gain weight. To them I say, “Here ya go! Have some of mine!”)

Yes, this picture does raise a good point in making society question their perceptions of beauty. Beauty shouldn’t have a prescribed size. All women should be seen as beautiful, because true beauty comes from within, and isn’t based on your dress size. Trust me: I’ve met some damn ugly size 2s before.

So, what’s the big deal, you ask. The big deal is that being a plus-sized woman isn’t healthy. Carrying around extra weight has SO many health implications. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Diabetes. Osteoarthritis. Coronary Heart Disease. Gallstones. Stroke. Liver Disease. Breast Cancer. Colon Cancer. Sleep Apnea. Mental Health issues.  Don’t believe me? Believe the Centres for Disease Control.

I’m sorry. That ain’t beautiful. Diseases, especially preventable ones, are ugly. I’m not saying that a plus-sized woman can’t be beautiful. What I am saying is that her beauty should not be based on her body size, but on what’s inside her.

But wait: if she’s fat, then what’s inside her is the potential for a lot of ugly diseases.

You know what’s beautiful? Wanna know what’s sexy as hell?

Being healthy. That is glorious.

And that’s why I’m doing this. I am not on this journey to  drop down to a svelte size 2 and suddenly be gorgeous. I am on this journey to be healthy and happy.

As I was researching this post, it hit me: I’ve already been affected by one of the diseases listed on the CDC site. I have osteoarthritis. I’m thirty-friggin-nine years old and I have arthritis. So far, my life hasn’t been too negatively impacted by this disease. So far. But if I don’t take control of my health, it will be.

Every so often, I’ll see people in wheelchairs or scooters that are morbidly obese. I try my best to feel compassion for them and not judge them. In fact, I do feel sorry for them – they cannot be comfortable in the state they are in. I can’t help but wonder, “Which came first? The weight or the mobility issues?” I’m sure it’s different in every case. But I do know that the less you move, the less mobile you become, and the easier it is to gain the weight. I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to run into my 40s, not drag my ass into them!

So, here I sit, a plus-sized girl, struggling with her own body-image issues, questioning society’s perception of beauty, cursing at Hollywood for the hyper-sexualization of sticks with boobs, unhappy with my silhouette, and, honestly, feeling a bit stuck in my journey. Personally, I don’t see a size 22 as beautiful. I see beauty in the person’s soul, the way they treat others, the way they treat themselves.

Truth be told, I struggle with feelings of beauty.

About two months ago, I had a man tell me I was beautiful. When recounting this to my dear friend J., I told her, “That was the first time a man has ever called me beautiful.” She was astonished! She didn’t believe me. I told her, that with the exception of my father (and I honestly can’t remember him saying something like that – not because he doesn’t feel that way, he’s just a man of few words), I had never had a man tell me I was beautiful before.

And sure, it felt fantastic to hear. The important thing was that I was actually able to hear it. I was able to hear it because I first believed it about myself. Yes, I struggle with self-concept and body image (show me a woman who doesn’t!!). But that night, when this incredibly handsome man told me that I was beautiful, I actually believed him because I was able to see the beauty within me.

My beauty has nothing to do with my dress size. It is not going to increase as my dress size decreases. No, my beauty has everything to do with who I am, inside. And who I am is a woman who loves herself enough to take care of her physical, spiritual, and emotion self. That is what beauty is. Not a dress size.

And I guess that’s it: that’s why I had such an issue with this picture. I don’t care if you’re a size 22 a size 2: if you’re not truly taking care of yourself, truly loving and respecting who you are, you’re not beautiful.

Funny thing is: lately, I haven’t been feeling all that beautiful. And I know why: it’s because I haven’t been taking care of my physical self. I’m still struggling to find a balance in the realm of self-care. When one area needs more attention than others, something suffers. Lately, I’ve been dealing with some pretty personal issues, and focusing my energy in the spiritual and emotional realms. The physical care then suffers, which makes me feel worse emotionally.

I need to make physical self-care an essential part of my day. I can’t just tend to it when a problem arises. That’s how I ended up with Osteoarthritis.  I don’t want to add to my health concerns from that list from the CDC. Time to make my physical health a priority.

Because being healthy is beautiful!

The countdown begins

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Well, it’s here: my 39th birthday. I have exactly one year to make changes.

Honestly? I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and discouraged. Can I really do this? Lately, I’ve been the queen of excuses, eating foods I know aren’t good for me, and not taking great care of myself. And I can feel it: I feel like crap 😦

A few weeks ago, I felt on top of the world, totally invincible! Today, as I sit here barely an hour into my last year of my 30s, I feel disheartened.

The thing is, I knew this was coming. I knew those euphoric feelings wouldn’t last. They never do. Be it a new job, a new lover, a new health kick, they always start out with such amazing energy. Then it fizzles. These things don’t just happen, they take work.

Part of me wants to throw in the towel. The road ahead seems so steep, and the goal line seems closer than I anticipated. Then what? What would happen if I quit? I’d be far less healthy, heavier, and sadder.

If I did just give up, I’d feel a bit ashamed. So many people have given me encouragement. If I gave up, I’d be letting them down. But is that the reason to do this? To make other people happy? To have other people take notice and praise me?

I need to be able to do this for me, no one else.

I am tired. It’s been a long, emotionally draining few days. I will continue my birthday post in the morning.

Sticks and Stones…

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Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

I remember chanting this iconic rhyme as a pudgy 12 year old, not so much to fend off the bullies who were teasing me about being fat, but more to try to convince myself that their harsh words couldn’t hurt me.

Can I just say something here? That whole “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” thing is complete crap. A big, fat lie. Sure, sticks and stones hurt, but those wounds heal. The wounds inflicted by words last much, much longer.

I bring this up for two reasons: (1) My relationship with the words used to hurt me about my weight, and (2) the overall power that words have, and how we can use them to help us or hinder us.

I was teased mercilessly when I was a kid. Kids called me many names, but the ones that stuck had to do with my weight. While I wasn’t fat, I definitely had a bit of baby fat that stuck around until junior high. But, those words I heard as a pre-teen stuck, and I eventually began to believe those mean voices. Even though I wasn’t fat, I saw myself as such. Fast forward to my twenties. I found myself married to a man who was often heard saying, “I’d love you if you were thinner.” Ouch. All of those words added up, causing unseen wounds that damaged me more than any physical violence ever could have.

It has taken me a lot of hard work to overcome the scars those words left. But that’s not why I bring it up. No, I mention this because I just realized the creative power possessed by those words. When I was being tormented in grades 9 and 10, with kids calling me “fat,” I was, in fact, not fat at all. I stood at about 5’9″ and weighed 160-165 lbs. That means my BMI was around 24 – by all means, a very healthy weight. But now? Well, let’s just say I’m not a healthy weight and my BMI needs some serious attention.

Think about this: The words were spoken. I believed the words. I became fat. Words are incredibly powerful things. They have such an amazing ability to create. This is why I start each day with some very healthy, positive words each morning after my yoga work out.

I recently read don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. His first agreement is “be impeccable with your words,” since words are so powerful:

“Your word is the power that you have to create. Your word is the gift that comes directly from God… Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything… The word is not just a sound or a written symbol. The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life… But like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you.” (The Four Agreements p. 26)

Before I encountered this book, I never really thought about the magic power of words. I’m sure I had a sense of it; as a teacher, I suppose I’ve always known that the words I tell my students have great power. Since becoming aware of Ruiz’s Four Agreements, and trying to put them into practice, I have endeavoured to be impeccable with my words. I’m not perfect, and sometimes I’m not as careful with my words as I could be. But the best part of the Four Agreements is that last agreement: Always Do Your Best. Slowly but surely, my words are creating a much more beautiful life for myself.

When I began, I focused on being impeccable with my words towards others; I try to speak kindly about others and avoid gossiping. I have definitely noticed a difference in my relationship with others. Lately, I’ve been focusing on being more aware with the words I tell myself. Slowly, I’m beginning to see myself in a different light.

I wonder what would happen if I just started thinking of myself as an athlete? If I heard the words “You’re fat” so many times that I began to believe it, and then it came true, couldn’t the same happen in the other direction? What if I harnessed the creative power of words to create a more fit, healthier me? Sure, it may not be true…. yet.  But the more I tell myself that I am fit, strong, healthy, active and athletic, the healthier, stronger and more active I will become! Isn’t that amazing?!

 

Post Script:

(This has absolutely nothing to do with my whole “Fit By 40” theme, but it does illustrate my point)

I can’t help but wonder how this applies to my profession. What if, as a teacher, my words had the ability to create the atmosphere in my classroom. What if I, when talking about my students, I said things like, “My kids are amazing! They are creative, energetic, curious, and social.” What type of class would that create? On the other hand, if I always said, “Oh my god, my class is insane. They are so messy, they never sit still, they don’t shut up and listen. I’ve had it.” I wonder how that would effect the atmosphere in my classroom? Sure, it sounds like one of those “which came first? the chicken or the egg?” type of questions… but with my understanding of how amazing words are, I can’t help but think that the way I talk about my students can affect their behaviour.

To be honest, in my short career as a school teacher, I have observed this already. I’ve heard teachers sing the praises of their students, and I’ve heard teachers moaning about how terrible their kids are. I honestly can’t help but wonder if the teacher’s words create some of the problems in their class. All the more reason to be impeccable with my words.