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Focusing on the present

Thursday, February 04, 2010

I got to thinking of past, present and future today. People always say that there's no time like the present, but do they really practice what they preach? I for one know very well that I have a lot of work to do before really learning how to live in the moment.

I admit most of my thoughts have something to do with either the past or the future. Especially when it comes to losing weight. I find myself obsessing over a dinner next Saturday and whether or not I'll go over my calories. I go through old pictures and look at my thinner - much younger - self with agony and envy. I plan way ahead and worry about how I'll look in June when I'm going to Greece and if I'll be able to reach my goal weight by then. And you know what? It's EXHAUSTING. By spending so much time worrying about things that have either happened a long time ago or are yet to happen, I forget the most important thing of all: the choices I make today are what, eventually, build my future. And when it comes to things that are long gone and that can't be changed, sometimes it's best to let go.

All of that extra baggage and obsessing take up so much energy that I have none left to actually DO SOMETHING about my situation so that my future will become what I so much want it to be. So, today, I decided that from now on I'll do my best to really focus on the present and the choices I make today. Sure, it's always motivating to have goals and dreams, and it's healthy to look into the future every now and then. But when it starts to control your thinking too much, then it might be time for a reality check.

"Someday" is today. It is right now. It's what we do today that matters. Living in the moment is a huge challenge for me, but it really is something I want to become better at. No more stress about what the future holds: it's today that counts.

As Annie Lennox put it:

“The future hasn't happened yet and the past is gone. So I think the only moment we have is right here and now, and I try to make the best of those moments, the moments that I'm in.”


Motivating picture of the day:


  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KANSASC 2/5/2010 7:53AM

    Great blog! emoticon

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ZANNACHAN 2/4/2010 9:10PM

    I think it's a question of balance. Living too much in the present can be a problem because you can (or at least this has been the case for me) too easily loose focus on your long term goals in the day to day business. For example, I want to graduate, and to graduate I have to finish and then defend my thesis. But it's really easy to be so busy taking care of other things--exercise, cooking, laundry, gardening, visiting friends or talking to family on the phone, whatever--that I don't get much work done on my dissertation. So I have to work to keep that goal in focus.

But you are right--you can get so absorbed into the past or obsessed with the future that it just wipes you out for little gain. In fact, if you are so stressed out about something that you freeze up, unable to do anything, than it's counter productive. So there are definitely times when you need to let the past and future go and focus on the little bit in the present that you can do something about.

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IUHRYTR 2/4/2010 5:05PM

    My continuing mantra lately is one meal, one exercise, one positive day at a time and you'll be successful in reaching your goal. Think "Present Moment Happiness" when your thoughts wander to the past or the future and ask, "What can i do right now to help get me closer to my goal? Maybe it's taking a walk or reading to get the mind focused. You can do this. -- Lou

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Starting small

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Time and time again, I have read about the importance of starting small and making small adjustments rather than drastic changes when starting to create a healthy lifestyle. And every single time I've thought that I understood what that means only to find myself taking giant leaps that leave me feeling winded and exhausted. I always go for too much, too soon - and that sets me up for failure.

Now that I look back at all the previous times I have tried to change my lifestyle and lose weight, I realize what I've been doing wrong. I expect too much from myself. It's completely unrealistic - and unfair, too, for that matter - to expect that I have the capacity to change over night and somehow magically become a different person when I wake up the next morning. I get tired because I try to change too much at once. That's my problem, and I realize that now.

This time, I'm really trying to ease my way into this lifestyle change as I really do want to make it a permanent one. I'm focusing on small goals: eating at least 2 fruits or veggies a day, going for a walk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, replacing my old snacks with some healthy alternatives. After all, I'm not in a hurry. What I really want is to make some changes that will become a part of my permanent lifestyle.

I know that by starting small, I'll end up getting further than ever before.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 2/3/2010 4:46PM

    Good attitude. One meal, one exercise, one positive day at a time and you'll get there. -- Lou

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ZANNACHAN 2/3/2010 4:44PM

    That sounds like a really good plan. Your goals are all doable, reasonable, positive changes, and little steps lead to bigger ones.

Starting small and making gradual changes is not something I'm very good at, either--I tend to want to do too much, too quickly (I read a blog recently that referred to this as the terrible toos--too much, too soon, too quickly). I also struggle when I am making small, positive steps with not berating myself for not doing enough--not working out enough (even if my current regimen is eating up all the time I have to spare and leaving me utterly exhausted), not enough enough of the right kinds of foods or too much of the wrong kinds, or whatever.

But it's something I'm working on, because everything I have read says that in order to be successful with making real lifelong changes, you have to start small. Statistically, people who jump in and try to do too much burn out and fall back onto old habits. I want to be in this for a very long haul, and that means taking it slowly. I've decided to take on the spark 28 day challenge in order to remind myself to take slow, but positive, steps.

In the Spark, Chris Downey talks about sparks members who got started on what eventually would be some pretty major lifestyle changes by only a few fast break goals. They did a survey on sparks and those who had successfully lost over 100 lbs or had met their weight loss goals tended to be people who started small, with just the fast breaks, and slowly added to them, while those who made radical changes were more likely to stall out or burn out.

It's a good lesson to keep in mind. Slow and steady wins the race!

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Goals & Rewards

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I updated my SparkPage for a reason. I want a fresh start. I feel like I'm still stuck at the same old dead end where I've ended up a thousand times before. I honestly don't know what I'm doing wrong. I try my best but time and time again I end up falling right back into my old unhealthy habits. I've been thinking about possible reasons for it, and the only one that makes sense to me is that I have still yet to fully learn and understand that healthy lifestyle this website is all about. I'd like to think that I'm no longer dieting but living a normal, healthy life instead, but I would be very wrong to think that. The sad truth is that I still have a long way to go before I can truly say I'm living, not dieting.

It's so difficult NOT TO diet! Mainly because you need certain restrictions and rules to make your weight loss work! And before you know it, it's all about rules and calculating calories and obsessing about this and that. It's not normal, healthy living. And that's why I haven't been able to keep it up for longer than a month - or if I've been lucky, even two. I get sick of it. And that's a sign that it's not working.

What should I do then? I'm worried that if I don't track calories or invent rules or obsess I won't lose any weight. Obviously, I know that's not true - because if it was, I would've met my goal weight ages ago! Something really needs to change. From now on, I'm going to be smart about this. I'll eat what I know is healthy, I'll eat when I'm hungry, I'll work out three times a week and do at least an hour of cardio every day. I'll weigh myself every two weeks to measure my progress. There are no 'guilt foods' and there will be no 'don't-eat-these-EVER' lists. I KNOW how I'm supposed to live. And this time, I'll make it.

I have set myself a few weight loss goals and planned some rewards for the upcoming months:

February 28th: 71 kgs
REWARD: Two cardigans I LOVE but cannot afford right now + a cute top

March 28th: 67 kgs
REWARD: A new hairstyle

April 28th: 63 kgs
REWARD: New shoes, a summer dress, a bag, sexy lingerie

May 28th: 59 kgs
REWARD: New bikini, all kinds of summer clothes AND - last but not least - A HOLIDAY IN CORFU, GREECE from May 28th to June 4th! I'm going with my mom and little sister, it'll be amazing. I've actually been in Corfu once four years ago with Tommi. It was such a gorgeous island in the Mediterranean and I can't wait to go back there this summer! I WANT TO LOOK HOT IN A BIKINI! :) That's my ultimate reward.

Wish me luck ;)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 1/27/2010 3:34PM

    Nice to hear from you again. I, too, rebel a bit against so many rules and restrictions but as the scale goes down, the more I'm willing to abide by the things that have helped so far. Work hard toward your trip to Greece. Sounds fantastic.

Lou

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ZANNACHAN 1/27/2010 3:02PM

    *Hugs* It isn't easy. You had years to develop bad habits--they aren't easy to lose, especially since they often serve functions other than filling a need for food. So be patient with yourself!

I read recently in the Spark that one of the big difference between people on sparks who see themselves as "dieting" and those who see themselves as following a healthy lifestyle (I don't think I'm at a healthy lifestyle yet--right now my goal is healthier lifestyle, LOL) is that the later made gradual, small changes. The dieters tended to make sweeping changes--no more fast food, no more sweets, no more soft drinks, avoid red meet, only eat whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins, etc. The lifestyle folks tended to make small adjustments--adding some vegetables, perhaps, or cutting back on soft drinks, or whatever. So perhaps part of the reason that you are struggling is that you are trying to do too much at once? Instead, you could try to make a few minor adjustments, and then as things get comfortable expand on them. And if being hungry is a problem for you, you can experiment with eating more protein with each meal, or even try eating more but smaller meals. I find it a lot easier to get through the day if I have a mid afternoon snack--and I tend to eat more calories as a whole by adding that snack in.

I confess I don't do diets. If I'm hungry, I eat. If my blood sugar drops, I eat. I do try to wait a little bit--but if I'm still hungry an hour later, I get something, even if that means I'll go over my calories for the day. While I do try to make healthier choices as a whole, I still splurge sometimes and have chocolate or ice cream or whatever. I would probably lose weight faster if I were stricter about my calorie budget and avoided entirely soft drinks and the like, but I also wouldn't be able to sustain it. Since I'm in this for long haul, and my goal was always to be healthier with thinner being a bonus, this works for me--and I am slowly losing weight.

It is very, very easy for me to become obsessive about things like nutrition--and it's something I'm working very hard to avoid, in part because it's all too easy for me to feel like my new "diet" is somehow punishment. Somehow it feels like punishment to have to pass on foods that I enjoy for foods I don't much like (even something as simple as white breads or rice in favor of whole grains, which I still don't like). So to avoid that, I compromise--trying to get a working balance between enjoyment and convenience and a healthy lifestyle.

It's not easy and some days I definitely am better than others at making healthy choices. I do my best to accept that as life and move on, experimenting and making small changes as I find ones that work for me.

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MAKI34 1/27/2010 12:39PM

    I totally understand you. I keep saying that I want to live a healthy lifestyle and not diet but i don't think I'll ever be able too! Because I'm not able to escape from it all in my house and with my family, so in reality I'm just dieting. Trying to follow the rules like you said. It's hard but I'm just going to keep trying. I'm going to tell myself that I'm trying to live a better life, not totally healthy because that would be unrealistic for me, but just a better one than before! That's good enough for me!

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NEESEY59 1/27/2010 9:52AM

    Don't get discouraged. The fact that you keep trying is great!
The goals and rewards and the fact that you wrote them down will help you. If there is anything I have learned, you need to stop beating yourself up and stop thinking about it as a diet. It's a way of life. And in life you don't eat perfectly all the time. Life happens. So you accept the fact that you had something unhealthy, and then learn from it, but forgive yourself. What's important is that you eat healthy most of the time. You'll get there. You're on the right track with the goals and rewards. Print them out and tape them up somewhere where you can look at them daily to remind yourself. emoticon

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New Year, New Goals

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hi everyone!

It's been almost a month since my last update! After Christmas, I have to say, things got a little crazy. Just as I feared, once I allowed myself to have a little bit of those treats that I wasn't allowed to have before, I lost control. It scares me to think how easy it is to get lost in that same old mindless cycle of overeating. I really want to focus on adapting a new LIFESTYLE and get rid of the dieting mindset once and for all. I thought that was in the past already, but apparently I still need a lot of practice.

I started school again last Monday, and got back to working out regularly and eating healthy meals. I'm not going overboard this time: balance is the key. I'm cutting back on high-calorie treats and working out more (cardio 60-90 mins every day, strength training 30 minutes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays). It's that simple! I'm looking forward to the spring and all that it has in store for me. I'm not sure what next fall will bring (I don't know if I'll continue studying here in Turku, probably not - I don't see how I would be able to be happy here. I feel lonely and miss Tommi all the time, and in addition to that, I don't get anything out of my studies. I'm looking for a better option for myself, and I'm hopeful that I'll find it. In my heart, I feel like I don't belong here.).

Anyway, it's a new year - HAPPY NEW YEAR, BY THE WAY! - and with it come new goals. Instead of a few big resolutions, I am setting myself lots of small goals that will make a big difference in 2010.

In 2010, I will...

...reach my goal weight of 59 kgs and adapt a healthy lifestyle that will last as long as I live.
...start a new hobby.
...learn to be an optimist.
...learn to love working out.
...focus on my writing.
...stay in touch with my friends.
...send my poems to publishing agencies.
...travel abroad.
...finish my novel.
...read more.
...can run 20 minutes without stopping.
...fit in the European size 36.
...cut back on sodium, fat and sugar, and eat more fruit and veggies.
...do yoga regularly.
...learn a new language.
...find something else to study; something, that will bring me satisfaction and joy, and won't drain me emotionally and cause anxiety.
...keep a diary.
...be more spontaneous.
...be a great and a loving girlfriend.
...learn to love myself unconditionally.
...keep my promises.
...take risks and follow my heart.
...try new things.
...keep my apartment clean.
...exercise regularly.
...get enough rest and sleep.
...get things done on time.
...not spend too much money on clothes.
...believe in myself.
...watch less TV.
...spend less time on the internet.
...try not to stress about things as much.
...go camping.
...take a cruise.
...go to a spa.
...be more grateful.
...be less selfish.
...be honest.
...be myself, at all times.

I know this year will be a wonderful one. I want to follow my heart and find my place in this world. I don't want to waste another year doing something that leaves me empty inside. I have goals now, and I'm determined to reach all of them.

Happy New Year to all of you - I hope it'll bring you joy, health, love and peace.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZANNACHAN 1/18/2010 10:37AM

    I love your goals! I wouldn't exactly call them small goals--you have a number of challenging things on there. but I think it's important to dream big and to stretch yourself, to challenge yourself for what you really want.

I hope that this year is a wonderful one and that you find something more rewarding than your current program.

Happy New Year to you as well!

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IUHRYTR 1/16/2010 9:09AM

    All sound, achievable goals. I hope things work out for you at school. -- Lou

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CMAXSON 1/16/2010 6:19AM

    good luck to you in the new year :) You have a lot of goals for the year but you can do it!!! Stay strong and you will get to check every single on off the list come 2011 :)

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LAST DAY OF BOOTCAMP!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Can you believe my challenge is already over?! These three weeks have gone by so quickly that I didn't almost even notice. These three weeks have made all the difference in the world to me! I've gotten my weight loss going again - it's about time!!! - and I feel a million times better and a lot more confident than when I started on December 1st.

During these three weeks I have...

1) Learned that I CAN DO THIS: I can get my emotional eating under control and lose weight WITHOUT feeling deprived all the time!
2) Gotten my confidence back.
3) Lost four pounds and gained muscle.
4) Gotten a lot firmer and much more toned!
5) Learned to love exercise - I never thought it could happen!!
6) Realized the importance of taking care of myself and what a difference it makes in my every day life.
7) Worked very hard to build consistency and to learn to be more patient with myself.
8) Understood that as long as I feel good in my own skin, it doesn't matter what other people say or think. I know I'm beautiful, and that's all that counts.
9) Noticed that my clothes fit a lot better and my skin looks smooth and clear because of eating healthy and getting lots of air.
10) Also realized that I could never keep this up for longer than three weeks: I need days off when it comes to working out, and I need my occasional hamburger or a chocolate bar. But I have learned that it's all about balance and moderation.

I now know where to go from here. I'll keep on working hard and focusing on getting fit, but this bootcamp is now over and I don't mind! :D HAHA. I honestly feel more than excited about getting to eat all the lovely Christmas foods - and chocolate - tomorrow! IT'S BEEN SO LONG! Tomorrow, I'm not counting calories. But after Christmas it's time to get serious again. I'll get back to my usual routine of working out three times a week and doing at least 45 mins of cardio a day. I'll follow the SparkDiet and its calorie limits, but still have an occasional treat every now and then. C'est la vie! Then, hopefully, I'll get down to 130 pounds by summer.

If I don't update tomorrow then I'm already wishing you all MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I hope you all get to enjoy the holidays and relax with your loved ones!!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KANSASC 12/24/2009 11:12AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BARBIEGURLYGIRL 12/23/2009 7:58PM

    Merry Christmas to you as well.

I am so proud of you. You did it!! YAY!! emoticon

You learned a lot these past weeks and I am so glad you got confidence. You deserve a break and chocolate emoticon

Have a great holiday

Jess emoticon

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ZANNACHAN 12/23/2009 4:47PM

    Have a very Merry Christmas as well!

That's awesome! I'm so glad that your boot camp worked out so well--not just in the short run, either. Now you just have to figure out how to implement those lessons (while still allowing yourself treats, so you don't feel deprived in the long run). It can be done--the key is watching your proportions, I guess.

Enjoy tomorrow, and know you'll be getting 2010 off to a great start!

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IUHRYTR 12/23/2009 3:14PM

    So happy for you that you finished this challenge. I can read the excitement in your words. I hope you enjoy your success and keep us updated on your Christmas. -- Lou

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