Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm Happiest When I'm Living My Best Life

There is a common theme in my brain these last few weeks, and I was finally able to put it into simple words that even I can understand.  =)

I have come to the conclusion that I am most joyful and most happy when I am living my BEST LIFE.

For me, these joyful happy emotions first appeared only a few weeks into my program back in 2010, because although I needed to lose 150 pounds and was only a few weeks into the process, I was INTO THE PROCESS.  I was doing, daily, everything I needed to do in order to move myself IN to living my best life. 

Being the person I 'might have' been.

When I was a little girl and dreampt about my future life, it did not occur to me that I would get married at 22 then proceed to gain 10-15 pounds per year over the next 10 years.  I did not consider it on my wish list that I would become so morbidly obese that I was as big around as I was tall.  Never did I write in my girlhood journal in sparkly ink that I couldn't wait for the day I would get physically stuck in the turnstiles at Disneyworld. 

So to say my life, at 40 years old, had not turned out the way I had planned or imagined, is accurate.  I had a deep seated sense of disappointment in life and mostly disappointment in myself and how I had been LIVING my life which had taken up permanent residence in my brain.

But two-to-three weeks into the process of Take Shape For Life, I have to say that those stormclouds began to dissipate.  I began to believe, to actually BELIEVE, that it MAY be possible to live my BEST life and make my ACTUAL dreams come true for myself and for my family.

And guess what happened?  I am living my best life.  I am no longer a disappointment to myself or, although they would never say it I still felt it, to my family.  I am living my dreams of being a fit and healthy woman who is modeling health for herself, her family, and her community.  I have made a career out of helping other people, and I am back at school also to get my Masters Degree in Obesity Prevention and Management, and frankly I'm more excited about getting onto the ASU Campus and showing anyone I can HOW OBESITY CAN BE KICKED TO THE CURB! !  If you had taken a snapshot of my life now and shown it to me 5 or 10 years ago?  I would scarce have believed it.  You see, I spent most of my adult life HOPING I could change, but not ACTUALLY changing.  Intent is NOT action.  Hope is NOT a strategy.

And to say that is a FREAKING MIRACLE is NOT an understatement.  It is the MIRACLE of applying ACTION to INTENT, which we ALL have the power to do in our own lives.  It is the miracle of ALLOWING FOR THE PASSAGE OF TIME and remaining CONSISTENT and MINDFUL of your goals, and acting in a manner which will take you TOWARDS them not AWAY from them.

Do this, my friend, do THIS, and you can live YOUR best life too. 

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Doing the DO When You're Not Feeling the FEEL OR Thinking the THINK

This program is very simple.  Deceptively so, actually.  Eat the food, drink the water, move your body a little bit each day.  Simple.

But it isn't EASY and here's why.  Sometimes our brains and our emotions seem to conspire against us in a perfect storm that takes us by surprise (or not).  You see, many times we don't FEEL like doing the plan, but we KNOW we need to because our brains are telling us to over-ride our feelings and just continue to follow the plan.  But what happens when we don't FEEL like doing the plan, and our brain hops on board with the rationalizations and AGREES with our emotions?

There is such thing as a WILL.  You see, the Mind and the Emotions are part of our make-up, but so is the WILL.  And at the times the  Mind and Emotions are in AGREEMENT with the Will then this program is simple AND it is EASY TOO.  When the Emotions jump ship and the Mind goes with them, when all that is left is your WILL, it is at THOSE times that you really find out whether you TRULY wanted this or not.

Recognizing your WILL and it's role in your journey is key.  It IS your "Why", and it is paramount to develop a solid "Why" when embarking on this journey to health.  Because truly, it is the only thing that will keep you on track when your mind and emotions just aren't playing nice with you and your goals.

I learned this on my marathon.  I knew there was a mind, will, and emotions, sure, but I don't know that I had ever truly EXPERIENCED the separation of the mind and the will before I passed mile 16 in Paris, France on April 6th.  I have always been a thinker, you see, and I sort of pride myself on being a rational thinker.  I'm also a persuasive thinker and can present persuasive arguments for just about anything, or so my GRE test told me last month (I scored pretty high for persuasive writing LOL...go figure....).  And usually my thoughts are on board with my will.  In fact, I can't think of a time that my thoughts were NOT on board with my will UNTIL the Paris Marathon.

Mile 16 came around and my emotions wanted to STOP and get on the support bus.  Then my MIND agreed with my emotions, and told me "You should really get on the support bus.  You made a great effort.  It's time to stop."  But I kept moving forward.  Again, my emotions welled up in me "STOP ALREADY!!" and my mind agreed "Yes, look, there is the support bus, do you REALLY think it's wise to go another 10 miles with permanent charlie horses in both legs from your hips to your heels?"  But I kept moving forward.  Taking the next step.  NOT getting in the bus.  KEEPING my arms down so the bus didn't think I was waving them to stop for me.  Taking the next step.

THAT was my will taking action.  Doing the work.  Taking the next step. 

So what is your will telling you about your journey to health?  Do you WANT to be healthy?  WHY do you want to be healthy?  Because there WILL be times on your journey where your emotions AND your mind are ready to throw in the towel and quit.  WILL your WILL be ready to take over when that happens?  What WILL you do?

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Do We Hold Our Feet To The Fire?

In my past (failed) "dieting" attempts there was one consistent theme no matter WHICH program I utilized. 

I was motivated by emotional pain and conflict.

Then I would wonder why I "lost" motivation as I became more successful, and I would wonder "why" it was "so easy" at the beginning to stay on task and on program, and "wish" I could just BOTTLE that motivation to take with me through my journey.

It was a typical pattern for me.  I'd feel miserable, awful, shameful, guilty, and be in emotional and/or physical pain due to my size, so I would vow to "Do it this time!" to GET AWAY from the pain and conflict, the shame of needing a seatbelt extender, the guilt of having let down my family again, and, I would go GUN-HO!

Here's the thing about that:  We know we can be 100% committed when our feet are ON the fire.  It hurts.  It burns.  It is right there in our face with the pain and the blisters.  And we don't like being there, standing on the fire.  SO we are PER-FECT, right?  We weigh everything, we measure everything, we track our water, we make on-plan choices, sometimes we even say no to social events because this dang fire hurts and we want off it as soon as possible!

A few weeks or months pass (or weekdays if you are a weekly fire-stander).  We are feeling GREAT!  We are feeling EMPOWERED!  We are feeling GOOD about how GOOD we are being!  We are putting distance between us and the fire-pit!  But here's the thing, we also notice that as we are finding SUCCESS, our MOTIVATION seems to be slowly dissipating as we are feeling BETTER about ourselves. 

SO, we have the gung-ho no-holes-barred weekend where we have whatever we have been "denying ourselves of" for the last weeks or months (or days LOL) and guess what!  We feel miserable.  We feel guilty.  We feel shame.  We feel emotional pain and conflict again....
which, oddly enough, seems to be EXACTLY the environment that we SEEM to have conditioned ourselves to NEED in order to commit to getting ON PLAN and doing the things we know we need to do to be successful.  Feeling horrible about ourselves.
And we say "OK That's IT!  I'm going to DO this thing!  Again!"  Poof, our motivation appears again and we are ON TARGET.  Until the next success.  Until our emotional pain and conflict become less and less, and our motivation with it.  So we hop on the fire AGAIN and hope that THIS TIME the memory of the pain will be sufficient to keep us on task.

And then it isn't.

So what do we do? 

I'll tell you what I did.  You see, I had lost 120 pounds with Take Shape For Life and I was feeling AMAZING!  I had energy, I felt good about myself, but I couldn't get that last 30 pounds off because I was in an oscillating pattern.  What did that oscillating pattern look like?  Well, it wasn't gaining ALL of my weight back, or even MOST of my weight back, or even SOME of my weight back because I had vowed to myself I would never let that happen again.  The memory of the fire and the pain was sufficient to keep me in a maintenance "holding pattern" for a  year and a half.  But I couldn't seem to "muster" the "motivation" to handle the "last 30" and truly live a life in optimal and ultra health.

And then it hit me.  I was WAITING to feel MISERABLE and BAD about myself, I was waiting to FEEL sufficient emotional pain and conflict to motivate me to "finish the job" and stop hovering just on the cusp of overweight and healthy weight.  But you see I was never going to feel that way again because I did vow to do whatever it took to maintain my losses, and I was DOING that. 

So now what!  What about the "last 30"? 

I decided to take my own advice, and look towards the AWESOME things I wanted to bring IN to my life as a RESULT of becoming Optimally and Ultra Healthy.  I looked FORWARD with hope and optimism and began to, literally, CREATE HEALTH in my own life.  I continued to master healthy habits and practice them DAILY, fine-tuning them not because I felt miserable and HAD to, but because I felt AWESOME and WANTED to feel even AWESOME-ER!  (I know that isn't a word) 

I began to be ON PLAN every single day because I WANTED to, not because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired - because I was neither sick NOR tired having lost 120 pounds and I was feeling really GREAT!  I realized there are 7 days in a week that I can be ON PLAN, not just Monday - Thursday!

And that is what I had been doing!  I had been on my eating plan Monday - Thursday, and then Friday - Sunday was deviating enough to make me feel bad enough about myself come Monday morning that it would "keep me" on plan for the next Mon - Thurs cycle.

Guess what?  By deciding to "create health" in my life I BROKE THAT CYCLE!  And I didn't even have to feel horrible about myself to do it!  That is the beauty of creating health in our lives AS OPPOSED to "solving a problem" because when we go on a "diet" to "solve a problem" we are really saying that WE are the problem, that something is WRONG with us that needs to be FIXED.

I say kick that mentality to the curb!  We are beautiful, wonderful, valuable, precious, capable, powerful human beings!  We are WORTHY of the effort it takes to create optimal and ultra health in our lives!  And it DOES TAKE WORK!  But it is a JOYFUL work and not a DRUDGERY if you will ALLOW it to be a JOYFUL process of creating something awesome in your lives.

It's only a big bummer if we make it a big bummer.  It's only a deprivation if we are focusing on viewing US as a problem that needs fixing, and if we continue to view the "yummy food" as desirable.

Yummy fatty decadent sugary food only has one purpose, to make us feel BAD about ourselves.  I'm never going down THAT road again.

I didn't come up with this stuff out of thin air, I was inspired by the materials found in Dr. A's Habits of Health Chapters 3 and 4, and I'm simply describing how I applied it practically in my own life to achieve the health I desired and am living in now
(BTW I did continue my journey, attained a BMI of 21, and am at the same weight now I was when I got married almost 23 years ago!).
Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, July 7, 2014

How Getting Healthy is Like the Debt Snowball Repayment Process Described by Dave Ramsey!

My husband and I are attempting to work on our finances by following Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" study, and part of his debt reduction plan includes paying off debt over time with what is known as a "Snowball" effect.

What he means is that you pay off the smallest balance first, then you "snowball" what you WERE paying for the smallest balance into the payment for the NEXT smallest balance debt, and so on and so forth.

So every day, you are doing the work necessary to get out of debt, and you are scoring victories right away by seeing the small balances go away so you can get to work on the larger balances.

Getting healthy is a similar process, you are doing the same work every day and scoring small consistent victories as we "snowball" that daily effort into the larger victories.  And soon enough, our "energy surplus" that we have been carrying around for years and years (in the form of unwanted and unnecessary fat) is reduced and eventually eliminated!  It's all about energy balance!  =)

But the work is the same!  I've never seen Dave Ramsey advocate "celebrating" paying off one of the smaller balance credit cards by going on a "splurge" and creating more debt in the process! 

And the same holds true for us. 

Daily, consistent, steady effort practicing delayed gratification in view of a larger goal that is fundamentally important to us. 

LOVE it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What do YOU want to CREATE? - Blog 7/2/14

In the Forward of Dr. A's Habits of Health, Robert Fritz writes about the process of CREATING HEALTH.  Here's an exerpt:

"Dr. A's Habits of Health  may be one of the most important books you will ever read.  By following Dr. Wayne Andersen's advice, you'll be able to redirect lifelong patterns that are leading you down the wrong path and replace them with new, helpful practices that will enable you to build better and better health over time.

But this isn't yet another book trying to motivate change through fear, warnings, shame, and images of disaster.  Dr. A knows the difference between a process that allows you to create the state of health you truly want and a process that merely addresses health problems.

There's a profound difference between architecture and building demolition.  Creating, like architecture, involves taking action to have something you want come into being.  Problem solving, like building demolition, involves taking action to have something you don't want go away."

If I can encourage EVERYONE to read this groundbreaking book then you will SEE exactly where my philosophy on creating health in our lives has come from.  I didn't make it up.  I can't and won't take any credit for reframing our health journey in this wonderful hope-filled optimistic way.  I simply FOUND it in his book and I APPLIED it to my life because it MADE SENSE.

If my blogs seem hope-filled and optimistic it is because I have fully embraced the principles I have found readily available with Dr. A's Habits of Health.  And they are available to EVERYONE. 

This process is a CREATIVE process.  For my whole "dieting" life before Take Shape For Life came along, I was trying to "solve a problem" and that "problem", really always pointed back to ME!  Hence, even in the PROCESS of "dieting" I was subconsciously telling myself that I WAS THE PROBLEM that NEEDED TO BE SOLVED and the only way to SOLVE THE PROBLEM THAT WAS ME was to DEMOLISH me, to chip away at the FAT and MAKE IT GO AWAY which would then SOLVE MY ME PROBLEM.

Ick!  Ugh!  I can hardly type those words without a grimace on my face and alarm bells ringing in my head!  I am SO far away from that mentality that it seems foreign to even revisit those thoughts.

You see, what happens when we try to get something OUT of our lives that we DON'T want is that it looks something like this pattern, which Dr. A. describes beautifully in Chapter 3 as an "oscillating yo-yo pattern".  This involves the following, and I quote:

"1.  Emotional conflict leads you to act.
2.  Because you've acted, you feel better - even if the situation hasn't changed much.
3.  Feeling better takes the pressure off, lessening the emotional conflict.
4.  Less emotional conflict means there's less reason to continue doing the things that reduced the conflict in the first place.
5.  Since you feel better, you no longer feel a pressing need to follow through on your actions.
6.  And the original behavior returns."

Does this sound like you?  It sounded like me for ALL of my "past dieting experiences" in my ENTIRE life!  Until Take Shape For Life and the creative hope-filled inspiring concept of the process of CREATING HEALTH in my life was introduced to me.

This is basically "problem solving vs. desired outcome".

We have two choices, Dr. A. says, at this point.  We can

1)  Think in terms of trying to fix your bad health (ie a problem orientation)
2) Shift your focus to creating health (an outcome orientation)

You want "MY" secret to gaining health and remaining here?  It isn't MY secret.  It is fully explained in chapters 3 and 4 of Dr. A's Habits of Health.

Now, if you don't have the book, what ARE you waiting for?

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

DOING the DO to BE the BE

“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way... you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.”- Aristotle

This quote has meant quite a bit to me over the last four years.

When I began my journey towards health I didn't FEEL like a fit and healthy person.  And I wasn't.  But I DECIDED to BECOME a fit and healthy person and so I began to PERFORM the actions necessary to acquire that quality.

I ate the food.  I drank the water.  I moved my body.

And eventually I BECAME a fit and healthy person because I performed the actions that a fit and healthy person performs.

Firstly, I began to eat and drink correctly utilizing the 5&1 to move towards a HEALTHY BMI.
Then, as I moved into the OVERWEIGHT category from OBESE I began to MOVE MY BODY MORE.  I added the moving piece TO my already established eating routine, I did NOT modify my eating routine in ORDER to exercise MORE.  I stayed within the plan recommendations for ALL OF IT.

When I decided to run a Marathon, I transitioned to maintenance (since I was a healthy BMI already) and then trained for my Marathon. 

Here's the thing, I BECAME a fit and healthy  person because I ACTED like one, not because I FELT like one.  The emotions came over time as my current reality matched what I wanted to become, but there were many times in my journey (and there still are) where I'm not FEELING it.  Frankly, sometimes I FEEL like chucking it all out the window and eating a Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich.  But I don't, because I know those FEELINGS are not the truth, nor will DOING that action take me where I want to go or allow me to REMAIN where I want to BE.

I continue to DO the DO, to continue to Be the Be.

Rinse and Repeat!