Category Archives: Well-Being

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think I can, I think I can…

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It’s day three in my contest with my friend. So far, I have tracked my food and exercise every day, although Tuesday I went over my daily calorie allowance. I’m not too upset by this because my dietician told me about the 80/20 rule: eating well 80% of the time, and allowing yourself times when you can splurge just a little. The important part is that I tracked what I splurged on.

Today, my sons and I went for a lovely hike by the ocean. It was a beautiful day and I got a great workout in while spending time with my boys. I am noticing that when I do exercise, I feel more in control of things. This is a good feeling ūüôā

This past week, I have been feeling more motivated. Perhaps it’s because I’m doing a friendly competition. But, I also think it may be because I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately, revisiting my past. It hasn’t been easy – in fact, at times, it’s been downright painful. My counsellor even gave me permission to engage in emotional eating right now to help comfort and nurture myself during this period.

I’ve never truly climbed a mountain – not yet at least – but that’s what this feels like… finally facing the hurtful voices from my past. I have come to recognize that I still do listen to the voices that told me over and over that I am fat and no good. Slowly, I am learning that these voices aren’t my truth, and that I no longer have to listen to them. Slowly, I am learning that I am, indeed, beautiful and deserving of love, and that my self worth is not related to my physical appearance. These voices are my biggest obstacle to my success. If I keep listening to them, I’ll keep believing them, and their truth will become my truth. I don’t want that. I don’t want those voices telling me that I do not deserve to be beautiful, healthy, thin, fit, loved and loving…. I don’t want to keep hearing those voices. And I don’t have to, either.

There is a very good reason that those people who spoke those words are no longer in my life. I chose to leave those people. They are no longer part of my life. And, just as I chose to physically distance myself from those people, I can chose to stop hearing their voices.  I had the strength and power to physically leave, and I have the strength and power to stop hearing their words.

As I think about this, I realize that I have, of late, surrounded myself by some pretty amazing people. People who love me, believe in me, support me and cheer me on. Not one of my friends has told me that I am fat, ugly and don’t deserve love. In fact, I have recently had a friend tell me how awesome I am, and one tell me that I deserve to be happy and be loved. I can see now that I truly have a great group of people in my life. I no longer need to listen to the voices from my past because I’m filling my heart with voices from the present… and I have learned how to fill my present with some pretty amazing people.

I keep saying that the biggest part of this whole journey is a mental one.  I have to believe in myself. I have to see myself as capable and deserving of being fit and healthy. The last three days, I have made good progress towards this. I am especially proud of the way that my emotional and mindless eating has been minimal.

I’m really beginning to think that I can do this. I am beginning to believe that I can lead a life of health and fitness.

Game on!

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I still can’t believe the response I’ve gotten to this blog. What amazes me is not only that people are reading it (I figured at least my friends would read it), but that complete strangers are reading it and following it! So cool!

But what thrills me the most is the support I’m getting from close friends and strangers alike. One of the best things I’ve encountered since starting this blog is another blog with a very similar theme, Fat Girl PhD. Today, she wrote a great post about how she has managed to lose 110 lbs without the use of¬†gimmicky, fad diets. I absolutely love her blog – she is such an inspiration for me, seeing someone with a similar problem be¬†successful. The best part about her blog is that she is going to start sharing some recipes, meal plans, exercise tips and tools. I just can’t wait to see what she has to post, and to learn from her experiences!

The other amazing source of inspiration and support is my friend Jodi. Tomorrow morning, we begin a week long challenge. The goal? To track our food using iPhone apps (she uses Lose It, I use My Fitness Pal – both very similar). The person who tracks the most for the week is declared the winner; the loser buys coffee. I am game!

I am a competitive person, and I am SO going to win this challenge. Plus, it’s not like it’s an actual weight loss competition. That wouldn’t be fair because I think I’d win since one of us isn’t going to a wedding this weekend. And, I’m glad it’s not an exercise challenge – one of us (hint: not me!) did FemSport earlier this year. If you think about it, it’s kind of like competitive eating, just instead of eating two hundred hot dogs in 5 minutes, we’re eating and keeping track of it. I didn’t even say that we had to eat healthy, just that we had to track what we ate. I could eat donuts and pizza all week, but as long as I write it all down, I win.

Betcha didn’t see that one coming, my friend!

Body Image

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Yesterday, I came across a fantastic blog called Fat Girl, PhD by a young woman named Katie. Actually, she kind of stumble across me, leaving a comment on my blog. With a name like Fat Girl PhD, I just had to visit her blog! And, I am so very glad I did. It is comforting to find someone else who has dealt with similar issues as mine and come out the other side, successful. Her blog truly gives me hope that I can reach my goals as well.

One article on Katie wrote got me thinking about the issue of body image. She listed some interesting statistics about body image (which I would encourage you to go and read). What struck me was the high percentage of people – both men and women – who struggle with body image issues. It doesn’t seem to matter if you’re overweight, underweight, short, or tall, young or old: pretty much everyone has something about themselves with which they are not happy.

And, honestly? I’m one of them. I really don’t like the way I look. I see myself in the mirror, and all I can see is a body which I don’t like, and am convinced repulses everyone around me. The way I see my body is a huge obstacle preventing me from truly loving myself. And, I think if I loved myself more, I may be more motivated to take care of my body. At least, that’s the way I think it works. (Something tells me, though, that I may have it wrong – perhaps if I took better care of my body, I’d love myself more!)

It doesn’t help that, during my formative years, I had numerous people tease me about being overweight. I was a chubby pre-teen girl (who eventually outgrew the baby fat and ended up with a great figure in high school, only I didn’t recognize how beautiful I was). Those words really stuck with me, and I feel the echoes of them even to this day. Add to that the societal pressure to conform to unrealistic body shapes, and the “quick fix’ diet industry (of which I have been a victim for far too long), and *bang* you’ve got one grown woman with incredibly low self esteem when it comes to body image.

For the last month or so, I’ve been feeling really down. I think my body image has been the culprit for this case of the blues. And, because I’ve been feeling down, I haven’t been putting as much effort into my appearance, which makes me feel worse about myself.

A few months ago, I was actually making progress in this department. I took an inventory of my body and all of the wonderful things it’s done for me over the years. Giving birth and nurturing three babies who have grown into fine young men. Carrying me through not one but two university degrees. It’s survived numerous illnesses and injuries. In short, my body has always been there for me, supporting me in everything I do, and, basically, loving me unconditionally.

And what do I do to it? I ignore it. I look for its faults and flaws, then criticise it. I feed it unhealthy foods. I don’t exercise it enough. Holy cow! Most people take better care of their pets than I do of my body. And honestly: I deserve better care than a pet cat!

So now what? What do I do to change my body image? I don’t know. I really don’t. I suppose I need to start taking better care of my body, feeding it healthier foods and exercising more. I also need to change my mindset, and accept the body God has given me. Sure, I don’t have the body of a 1940s pin-up model (which, if you ask me, is gorgeous! That’s what I want to look like some day – beautiful, healthy and curvaceous), ¬†but I am healthy. I can walk unassisted. I can bend down and tie my shoes. My body allows me to dance and celebrate.

My body deserves to be loved. After all, look how far it has brought me!

I’m here… really I am.

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My pal, Jodi, wrote a lovely blog today, and I was texting her about it. Then she said, “Are you not blogging or just not publishing any more?”

 

Yes, I’ve been avoiding this blog. *sigh* At the beginning of last week, I had such noble goals, and a great plan in place. Then I crashed and burned.

But you know what? That’s okay. I haven’t quit. I’m not going to quit. I’m forgiving myself for ‘dropping the ball’ and putting the past behind me. Yay me!

So, what’s on the go with me right now?

Well, I discovered that, through the Employee Family Assistance Plan at work, I have access to dietician. I had a phone appointment with her today, and she’s going to send me a bunch of stuff via email, based on the conversation we had today.

I’ve also downloaded a few new (free!) apps. The first one, My Fitness Pal, was originally recommended to me by a friend, and then my dietician also recommended it. I downloaded it tonight, and will start using it to track my food with it tomorrow. I like the way you can scan bar codes – perfect for lazy people like me! I tried the SparkPeople app, and it’s okay. I know the importance of tracking my food – I just need to find an app that works for me ūüôā

The other app I got wasn’t exactly “free” – it was from one of those little cards you get from the coffee shop. It’s called “Walk Tracker” and it looks very similar to “Map My Run” which I’ve used before. I’m hoping to try it out tomorrow morning. ¬†I will review both these apps in the coming days as I get a feel for them.

That’s what I’ve been up to. That, and dealing with some intensely personal stuff which has left me somewhat emotionally drained. And, frankly, I’m proud of myself for facing some of this stuff. It isn’t easy, but I know if I can deal with it, it will help me deal with emotional eating issues.

 

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 ūüôā (And it was so true! lol)

Failing to plan….

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… is planning to fail.

Just had a brilliant idea!! Every Sunday night, I’m going to post my plans for the week ahead. I am going to write down a few things that I’m going to do in the coming 7 days to help me reach my goals.

This week:

1. I am going to stay hydrated. Got a nifty new water bottle and a big bag of lemons!

2. I will rise every morning at 5 and exercise before work. This week, I am going to try something new. Instead of doing yoga every morning, I will do cardio on M/W/F and yoga the other days. I have a slightly brokenish foot right now, so I’ll see how much I can handle.

3. I will meditate or do something to relax when I get home from work. Maybe a cup of mulberry tea to help calm me down.

4. I will ask myself “Are you hungry? Do you need to eat this? Why do you want this?” when tempted to eat outside of meal times.

5. I will plan an absolutely scrumptious “cheat meal” for myself, and spoil myself silly with food. I will do this at the end of the week. Hmm…. Maybe I could find someone to share the meal with me!

6. I will be mindful while I am eating meals, savoring each bite and listening to my body’s cues.

7. I will continue with my daily affirmations, reminding myself to love and care for my body unconditionally as it loves and cares for me.

8. I will be kind to myself when I am less than perfect. I will accept my set backs with grace and love. (This one is going to be tough!)

9. I will prepare healthy delicious meals, making my lunches the night before so that I’m not rushed.

10. I will remember to breathe and slow down!