Monday, December 29, 2008
Used to be, when I felt this way, I’d set these clearly unreasonable holiday workout, business and food “management” goals and IF I achieved them, I felt resentful that I hadn’t enjoyed my holidays and if I didn’t achieve them, I’d feel guilty.
So this holiday season, my theme was “Let it Be”
Whenever I felt down in the dumps, I said to myself “Let it Be”. If I thought exercising would make me feel better, I did it. If I thought laying on the couch and watching old Christmas movies would help, I did that. If I thought decorating the house top to bottom would help, I did that. If I thought baking cookies would help (a former “forbidden” action in my regimented food house), I did that. If I thought planning a five course meal for my husband and me for Christmas eve would help, I did that. I didn’t regiment my exercise. I didn’t create “holiday food rules” and go to parties having filled up on crudite (ha – like you can ever fill up on crudite).
I simply looked into my heart and said “I don’t feel great and I’m not going to beat myself up for that, I am going to do the first thing that comes to mind that might make me feel better and ‘Let it Be’ – let it be anything I want, let it be anything I think will bring me comfort, let it be anything that I think will make me feel happier, let it be anything that will help me get through.
And what was strange about it was there was one OTHER really important thing I didn’t do. I didn't go haywire with my eating.
You see, it used to be that by setting up my "food rules" of the holidays – I always set myself up to fail. By not baking or cooking, or only cooking “good” foods, I would put myself in “food sneaking” mode. I would go home to my family and eat healthfully in front of everyone, only to sneak into the family pantry at midnight and shovel down as many chips as I could get into my mouth. Or, I’d fill a sweatshirt pocket with cookies that weren’t “my” cookies while no one was watching to eat later. Or, I’d offer to clean up so I could sneak extra handfuls of stuffing as I filled the leftover containers. And I’d also watch others eat and resent the h*ll out of them! What a way to spend my holidays, right?
But I didn’t do ANY of those things this year.
Because I said “Let it Be.”
And in the process, I ate like a normal person. I over-indulged one day, and then under-indulged the next because my body BEGGED me to not eat any more and I said "let it be". I made cookies and didn’t feel the need to lick every bowl or sample every piece while they were hot. I’m not a big sweets person, so I had a few. There are still over 3 dozen in the freezer and I feel no desire for them. They’ll be broken out on occasions, parties, etc. throughout the year – without fear!
I cooked a NEW Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Day brunch, trying new recipes to start new traditions with my husband (we’re just 16 months married – this was our first Christmas with just us). Some recipes were healthful (like a TOO DIE FOR carrot soup that I will make again and again), others were festive and not particularly “light” but I was able to balance the meal with fresh vegetables we both love.
And I did all this because my mantra was “Let it Be” This was not going to be the best holiday ever – no matter what, but I wasn’t going to try and make it something its not or try and overcome by pushing myself to be “perfectly healthful.”
And now, I feel okay. I feel like I WANT to pick up on my exercise and eat a lot more fresh foods not because I have to, but because my body wants that.
And most importantly, I feel like I made it through the holidays without doing anything worth beating myself up for and can approach the New Year without having to feel like I “must get back to perfection because I’m such a loser”. That’s how I would have felt in years past.
I am going to work today on my New Year’s Evolution plan, re-set on my P90X (http://beachbodycoach.com/esuite/home/iofitwithang ) for 90 days, and prep to paint my workout/BeachBody Business room. Because today, I’m going to “let it be” as well, and this is where I want to be!
Friday, December 12, 2008
But here’s the funny thing – even when I don’t do something well, I’ll assume “I know better” than anyone how to do it.
What I have learned though, is that this sets me up for some serious self-flagellation, embarrassment, disappointment and self-criticism. I beat myself up for KNOWING how to do it well – even better than the instructor – and not being ABLE to do it well.
I literally just did that.
I started my P90X yoga tape for the first time.
Now let me give you a bit of background. I’ve always “hated” yoga. But about 1.5 years ago, I decided to try Bikram’s yoga. You know, the yoga where you get in a 110-degree room with inches between you and the next sweaty person (and don’t get me started on the crazy yogis in their crazy yogi diapers) and do 1hour+ of the same poses, day in, day out. And it’s one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done – but I’m not sure if it’s the workout or the room temperature, but anyway . . .(there is a point coming, I promise)
I went to Bikrams for about 6 months and got pretty good at it. And I listened to the “Bikrams” cult-leaders at my studio (only one in my town) and they told us that “Bikram’s is the only yoga” and that “Without Bikram’s you might as well not exercise” and “Only doing Bikram’s for 30 days straight will get you anywhere” etc. And they were militant about THAT, but also they were militant in class. The two women that owned the studio were royal b*tches with a capital “B”. Seriously. Complete, utter b*tches – and I don’t use that word about other women lightly and, I’m a bit of a b*tch myself.
They were so evil that finally, one day, after one of them called me out for drinking water “at the wrong time” (yet another Bikram’s rule), in the most condescending, rude, school-teacher bullyish manner, that I walked out of class and never came back.
(And it ticks me off, because I was making progress, but seriously, I refused to give them $15 a class – yes, per class – to be treated like a five year old in time-out).
Now, don’t get me wrong – Bikram’s is probably great in other places, this is just my experience.
But back to my P90X yoga today.
So, I get the tape out and Tony Horton gets me to about my third pose and I am completely disgusted with myself. All my Bikram’s progress is gone. A lot of my “dancer” flexibility is gone. I can feel a fat roll in virtually every pose. I’m having trouble swinging my leg through to runner’s pose. Generally, I’m disgusted with NOT doing it well.
But what does my HEAD start doing? It starts nit-picking the tape to death using my “Bikram’s Yoga education.” The chatter in my head starts going “if they would teach this first, I might be able to get there. If they recommended a hot room, that would help. If they held poses for the same time every time, that would keep us progressing more. Etc. Etc. Etc.”
And then I got so IN MY HEAD that I KNEW BETTER, that I quit, with a huff. I was so caught up in “WHAT I KNOW” and “HOW MUCH I KNOW BETTER” that I completely lost any desire or ability or drive or determination. All because I THOUGHT I knew better.
And what a waste. Because as I sit here typing just moments later and feeling the lovely little twinges and tweaks of new muscles that haven’t been used in a while and little nerve endings firing – I realize how much I lost by letting my know-it-all self take over.
That’s a voice I need to calm, because it’s counter productive.
What if I had just had an open mind and had been willing to learn and looked at my not being a “superstar” at something as an opportunity to LEARN???!!!!!!
I think I’m starting to get there. I know with my “food issues” that accepting that I am BAD at living a rigid-perfect-eating lifestyle, and opening my mind to being GOOD at self-correcting, listening to my hunger, working on eliminating limiting beliefs, I have actually started to become GOOD at leading a NORMAL life where food is concerned. And frankly, normal is fantastic.
So, having written this, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to start trying to look at things I’m bad at as opportunities to learn. In fact, I’m going to ask the universe to show me way more things I’m bad at, so I’ll get a chance to grow and open my mind and APPRECIATE the things I’m good at.
And tonight, I might just try being REALLY BAD at that P90X yoga tape again!!!!
Friday, December 5, 2008
But he had been traveling since 6:00 a.m., so when I suggested the grill –well the look I got was so sweet and sad (it said “I will if I have to, but please don't make me") I suggested we go to the Alehouse and get something.
Now the Alehouse has always been one of my favorite restaurants because they have these “zinger” chicken fingers that they will grill instead of fry. It’s always been a favorite because I used to “reward” myself for having something that would normally be “naughty” in a healthy way. They also offer a ton of grilled lean food, without really heavy sauces, they will substitute without complaint and provide steamed vegetables – all in all, tons of healthy choices – so I wasn’t even limited to the zingers when I went there. All in all, a “dieter’s dream.”
And during my “militant control” days of active weight loss – using that little “mental trickery” of choosing Zingers, going to a place where I knew I could find “MY” food, all of those things make this restaurant a great choice.
Except they also serve onion rings.
And I love onion rings (if you can actually love a food – which I think is another post for another day). Always have. Always will. And I loved the Alehouse’s onion rings especially well. But for 6 years now, I haven’t had an onion ring at the Alehouse or anywhere else. Well, almost. I hadn’t had them unless I had them on a late night “forbidden food” binge which usually included onion rings, patty melt, fries, a malt and a HUGE serving of guilt and self-loathing. You see, I had convinced myself that onion rings were a food that I couldn’t control – so I tried just refusing to have them – ever. And what happened -- well I had set myself up to make onion rings a forbidden food that “called” to me whenever I engaged in compulsive overeating or bingeing.
Boy – that was healthy behavior, wasn’t it?
But what I’m learning from Renee is that onion rings can come with a side of ketchup instead of a side of guilt.
When I got to the alehouse last night, I was thinking on the way there, that I was going to have a healthy turkey burger with no bun and steamed broccoli (they do great steamed broccoli – which shouldn’t be hard, but you’d be surprised how MANY places get it wrong).
But when I opened the menu, I immediately knew that I didn’t want that.
I did my visualization – I visualized what eating the broccoli and turkey burger would feel like long term and conversely what downing a PLATE of onion rings would look like. But I still wanted the onion rings. So I visualized eating the broccoli, the turkey burger and a FEW onion rings. And I got it, I got that I didn’t need to eat a PLATE of onion rings – that this wasn’t a decision between “health” and “guilt and loathing.”
So that’s what I ordered. Except I actually realized I wanted grilled chicken instead of a turkey burger. Again – a choice I made NOT because that was the healthier of the two, but because it was what I REALLY wanted.
And, of course, the full, oversized portion plate of chicken, broccoli and onion rings came, along with my husband’s plate of ribs and onion rings (remember, he’s naturally slender).
And the nice waitress had brought two smaller plates “in case we wanted to share.” It was perfect!!
I cut my large chicken breast in half, portioned a nice portion of steamed broccoli onto my plate and took a few onion rings (I didn’t even COUNT them – which was what I was thinking about doing, but then I thought “no, don’t count, LISTEN to your hunger").
And I ate, and I enjoyed my husband’s company and enjoyed the portion of onion rings that I took out.
And then, things got even better. The waitress left our food in front of us for a while. My naturally slender husband had, of course, not eaten all of his onion rings and neither had I. And I looked at his plate and looked at mine and felt the MOST AMAZING SENSE of peace and calm and happiness because . . .
I DIDN’T WANT ANYMORE ONION RINGS!!!
I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
I was satisfied. I wasn’t sitting there on my hands. I wasn’t looking to sprinkle artificial sweetener on the onion rings. I wasn’t hawking down the waitress to get her to remove the “talking” onion rings – because they weren’t talking to me.
I engaged in what I think MUST be naturally slender behavior.
And I was giddy and dear husband – God love him – looked at me and said “why are you grinning like a Cheshire cat?”
And I said “because the onion rings aren’t talking to me!!!”
And he laughed, told me how excited he was for me (he's great that way -- even when his wife thinks onion rings can talk) and it was a great evening!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Ultimately, having terrific night after double workout!!!!
I think one of the key differences I have found when listening to Inside Out Weight Loss, by Renee Stephens (available for free on Itunes and at her blog -- see the link to the right) is that the goal is elminate the STRUGGLE part of weight loss. I feel and know that struggle and am starting to make real headway in overcoming it.
And the chief way I am overcoming it is by trying to do more than use the "tools" I learned in active weight loss. Rather, I'm trying to "paint a bigger picture."
Let me digress for a moment -- as I mentioned in my bio, I "white knuckled" my way down 83 pounds at one point in my life and thought "I WILL NEVER GO BACK". 56 pounds later (NOW only 45 -- YAY!), I would look at my body in astonishment, and with many tears, many thoughts of self-loathing, horrid "how can anyone stand me" feelings, horrid "how can I stand myself" feelings.
So, I'd wake up every morning and put on my brave face and I'd say "This is the day. This is the day I get my mojo back. This is the day I remember all the tools I learned about weight loss and employ them.
And I see others approaching this weight loss issue in the same way. And I GET IT -- so I'm not finger pointing, I'm completely empathetic.
And there is nothing wrong with employing the TOOLS that you use to get through a moment where you're afraid you're going to eat too much, or that a late night binge is imminent, or you're going to face a holiday party, or you're going to get home after a long day at work and have to "have a snack" while you prepare your meal.
I LIKE those tools. Those tools are helpful. But they are tools -- the tools you use when you need a hammer and nail to hang a picture. What I am suggesting, is that we try to hang a bigger picture, so we can use our “tools” less often.
Let me try to explain . . .
The Bigger Picture
I have cathedral ceilings. I love them. They are Florida white and I love them. I grew up in a house in Georgia with 8" ceilings that was very dark, beautiful, but old and dark. My Florida home is bright and white and open. And I love it (do we get that I LOVE it) But in my life, I want color. Now you can imagine, if I tried to hang a hundred 5x10s on the walls to give my home color and vibrancy, I'd be hammerin' all day long. And I'd happily do it, because I want color and vibrancy in my open, airy home. But instead, I've chosen to use BIGGER PICTURES. These bigger pictures give me instant impact. I have large classic Advertising posters from the 30s (oh so glamorous). I have one section of wall covered in paintings and large collages of images I took in France years ago (my love of travel). One wall is dedicated to signed Broadway posters. I have this incredible set of two from a local artist -- Gina Bernardini -- that shows a rear view of a gorgeous red-head looking in a mirror and you can just see her one green eye. She is apparently “en flagrante” except for a pair of fishnet stockings and she's just fantastic (a goal -- to be comfortable in nothing but a pair of fishnet stockings). And while my living room is bright orange, blues, greens -- dining takes the orange, but mutes it with 70s avocado to bring in a "kitch" factor that I love.
I have SURROUNDED myself with large images of things I love and want in my life:
- Classic Glamour
- Brazen Behavior (really, she’s wearing nothing but a pair of fishnets!)
- Broadway (which represents my love and passion for singing and dancing)
- Eclectic Kitsch (which represents having humor in my life!)
BUT, If I'd tried to make those "big pictures" happen with 100s of small prints, a few tiny nails, a ladder and a lot of hammering, well, I bet I would have given up on ever getting to the "big picture" that envelops me on my big, open walls.
But that doesn't mean the industrial strength picture hangers, the level, the ladder and the hammer and screwdriver that it takes to hang my big pictures aren't important. But if I have the big picture, then I can employ the tools far less often.
Okay -- now that I've painted this picture (and maybe driven the analogy into the ground), let me be direct in my comparison. But let me take the opposite approach.
First, the tools.
The Tools: Weight Loss
I have a garage full of weight loss tools. I know the "tool" of brushing my teeth after eating onions or garlic because those flavors can linger and make you THINK you're still hungry (mouth hungry) long after your stomach is full. I know the "tool" that makes sure I have good, healthy snack options because if I don't, I could put myself in a position of bingeing. I know the "tool" of giving myself a manicure when I think I might late night binge. I know the "tool" of not eat standing up. I know the "tool" of not letting myself get to a level 7 of hunger (for me "0" is full "10" is famished -- I know that's backwards, but that's what stuck in my head, so there's no changing it now :-) ) before I eat, or I might binge. I know the tools of adding 20 minutes of EXTRA exercise when I feel like I’ve eaten too much.
And those tools are OH SO HELPFUL. But I'd rather use them less often and "hang bigger pictures."
The Big Picture: Weight Loss
I have to have a bigger picture in mind. I have to paint a picture of myself that is not only a great body. It has to be a great body who NO LONGER STRUGGLES with the idea of being thin.
And the "bigger picture" -- for me at least -- is to not have to use the tools as often. To have a simple understanding that (1) Food is abundant and available and never an "emergency" (2) That I can eat anything I want anytime I want -- but that means I have to be in tune to WHAT IT IS that I want, further meaning that I want foods that will fuel my "Big Picture" goals (remember the Glamour, Travel, Humor, Broadway and ability to wear nothing but a pair of fishnets? - see, the analogy does make a lot of sense -- I've surrounded myself with those Big Pictures and didn't even realize it until I started looking at my walls as I typed this!!) (3) That when I have the “big picture” firmly planted in my mind, I might not need a “tool” to survive a binge, because I don’t WANT to binge (4) That when I see the “big picture” of how my TOTAL life will work if I stop letting food and “management of food” control it, I will gain so much more in terms of not just a great body, but the other things that are important to me.
And I’ll simply get to use far fewer nails and hammering!
Get yourself a great big picture. Use the hammer, the screwdriver , the level and the ladder to put it up. But then realize you’ve secured it. It’s totally anchored and YOU DID IT! And then see if you can take your tools and organize them neatly in your toolbox. And only take them out when you maybe want to add another “big picture” goal.
Get Inside Out Fit With Angela