Friday, April 23, 2010
I'd first heard the concept of having a "WHY" from David Greenwalt, a fitness expert who has helped many with his program "The Leanness Lifestyle". He emphatically stresses that until you have good, solid, concrete reasons for taking superb care of yourself (he calls these reasons your "WHY") it's going to be a struggle to find the motivation to stick with it.
David Greenwalt and I butted heads (we are both very strong personalities), but he was right about a lot of stuff. This was one of them.
Until I finally found my true motivation last November I went through the motions, and that was good. Without going through the motions I'd weigh easily 100 pounds more than I do now and have cholesterol through the roof. More than likely I'd be a diabetic headed strait for heart disease. But if I was going to be successful at this over a lifetime, I knew I was going to have to find my true WHY.
In the course of mulling this all over (which, by the way, took about 5 years since first hearing the concept of a WHY) I did some counseling about weight-related issues and the counselor observed something that was revealing to me: I am more motivated by running FROM something than TOWARDS something.
I just had to find something that scared me bad enough to run from it for the rest of my life.
Then, something shifted: I started to acknowledge my family history of heart disease and diabetes. The reality that these things were more than likely eventually going to kill me sunk in. And when it sank in, it scared the devil out of me! I started doing whatever was necessary to keep these things at bay and maybe even avoid them all together:
-I upped my game and got more organized and methodical about how I lifted weight
-I started incorporating more aerobic activity into my workout regime
-I cut back drastically on white flour, sugar, and diet sodas (I'm not convinced enough research has been done on diet sodas to have a steady stream of them pouring through my body.)
-I stopped drinking alcohol
-I started eating less processed foods
-Probably most importantly, I joined Weight Watchers and began the process of losing weight.
I had finally found something truly worth running from.
I'd heard the term "Lifestyle", and phrases like "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle", countless times. But it wasn't until my first trainer, Ross, said that he wanted to work with me because he could tell I have a passion for this lifestyle that it finally clicked for me. I really HAD made it a lifestyle- he saw it, and now I see it. I have found my core reasons for taking care of myself. Not something I do just because I should, but something I do because I want to. Now, it's a part of me.
And finally, after 5 years of contemplation, last November I was able to write out my true WHY. I revisit and re-read it from time to time, but it's pretty much engraved in my memory now, since it's pretty concise. I wasn't going to share it, but enough people are interested in it that here it is. Maybe this will help to give you an idea and get you started:
1. I have an unshakable desire to do everything I can to at the least delay, and if at all possible completely avoid, my family history of heart disease and diabetes. I donít want to deal with it, and even more so I donít want my family to deal with me dealing with it.
2. I fully acknowledge my responsibly to my Creator to take the best care possible of this body He has entrusted me with.
3. I want to be an active, attractive, and vivacious grandma for my future grandchildren, able to enjoy them fully in every way while at the same time setting an example of how proper diet and an active lifestyle can benefit for a lifetime.
4. I feel a responsibility to be maximally healthy and therefore fully able to care for my adult handicapped son for the rest of his life.
5. I want to rock a bikini in midlife and beyond. :-D
This wasn't my first WHY. My first one was a couple of pages long, in paragraph form, and more wordy. That's Okay. This is just the one was concise enough to finally hit the nail on the head- this is my TRUE Why. And it will evolve as time goes on. Over time I am sure I'll tweak it, and more points may be added or some taken away.
The point is, there is no right and wrong way to do your own WHY. It belongs to YOU. It is simply very clearly stating your motivating reasons for wanting to be your healthiest you. Like I said, there is nothing wrong with going through the motions of taking excellent care of yourself, if you can't pinpoint your WHY. It will come eventually, and any effort you make is not wasted efort. Having a solid WHY is a very powerful tool in your aresenal of weight loss weapons, but not a good enough excuse to not try if you don't have one.
I realize that me sharing this is not going to help anyone to immediately figure out their WHY, but it may be the seed that starts the process growing within you. People tend to want quick solutions, and for me there was nothing quick about arriving at my WHY. I'm relieved I've finally found my WHY, but by the same token I'm grateful for the process it took to get me here.
This lifestyle is who I am. It will be until the day I die. I'm sure of it now. I want you to be sure of it, too.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
In my last blog I started out by saying that it's hard to help someone you don't like. Wouldn't you agree it's just as hard to help, or be good to, someone who continually holds a grudge against you?
For me, self-forgiveness was just as important as talking positively about myself. I needed to forgive myself for the mistreatment I'd committed against my body in the first place.
I've heard it said that you can't change what you won't acknowledge. I've found this to be true, so for me the first step came in admitting that I'd done this to myself, not anyone else:
-I couldn't blame my kids because I had to cook for them all of the time.
-I couldn't blame my husband because he frequently took me out to eat, brought ice cream home, or his favorite activities to do with me were sedentary.
-I couldn't blame my mother because she forced me to clean my plate when I was a kid or my grandma because she fed me goodies to the point where I wanted to vomit when I was young.
The fact is that I was fat and out of shape because I had not used self-control or good judgment in a myriad of circumstances over a long period of time.
Once I arrived at the firm conclusion that my overweight body was MY fault, I started to experience a lot of anger towards myself. I was plain old mad that I'd let myself get into the condition I was in. This went on for quite some time, but I finally came to the conclusion that it was time to forgive myself for getting into rotten shape. I literally had in inner dialogue with myself that went something like this:
"I am sorry, Body, for what I have put you through after all you have done for me. You have carried, delivered into this world, and nursed four other human beings. You have taken me through boot camp and seen me through abusive relationships. You have put up with me under-exercising and not only over-feeding you, but feeding you garbage. You've sustained me throughout life, and I am sorry for abusing you."
Yep, another silly conversation with myself, but one that I felt was necessary.
I'm not going to say that the changes came quickly or instantly, but because of being able to forgive myself I was able to grasp the concept of positive self-talk (blog prior to this) and begin to move on and genuinely embrace the other aspects of getting fit.
If you are anything like me, you won't be able to forgive yourself all at once. Like positive self-talk, self-forgiveness takes time. But forgiveness is a choice, whether towards yourself or another human being. Once you have started the process of forgiveness you will start to move ahead in the journey of getting fit: Good things will follow.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
It's really hard to help someone you don't like. Wouldn't you agree?
So why then do we say cruel things to ourselves?
When I stopped criticizing myself for being fat, I started losing weight.
My reasoning for saying negative things to myself was, in part, that I didn't want to like myself where I was and get comfortable at an unhealthy weight. But it backfired: My subconscious believed I was as worthless as I was telling myself I was, and I lost the gumption to do the hard work needed to make myself healthy again.
It was a struggle to stop the negative self-talk, both in my head and out loud. The things in my head, of course, I said to myself. The things out loud I said to others ABOUT myself. Well...... Most of the time. Sometimes I would actually look into the mirror and berate myself out loud for how overweight I'd become. Hard to admit, but it's true. Regardless, my subconscious heard all of it and took it to heart. (Or brain, as the case may be.)
I had to learn to interrupt myself and replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. Here are a few examples:
- When I would look in the mirror and think "Look at what you have let yourself become! You are disgusting!", I made myself stop the thought and would say (out loud if possible) "No, I am not disgusting. I have weight to lose, but I am worth the long journey it will take to get there, and I will come out a better person for it."
- When I thought "I am NEVER going to be able to lose all this weight!", I would stop myself and say "It is entirely possible to lose this weight and I am totally worth the time and effort it will take."
- When I would say to myself "There is not one redeemable part of my body left" I would interrupt myself and say "I have beautiful eyes and wonderful hair. My hands are lovely and thin. My waist is small in comparison to the rest of me and I have a feminine shape. I may not be as thin as I want, but I am going to get there and look beautiful as I do."
I didn't usually believe myself, but I said it anyway.
It felt kinda silly, but it worked. Soon after I started doing this, I found the determination within me to start the journey towards being thin and healthy again. And throughout the journey I have had to remind myself that although the road was long, I was NOT going to quit and it was worth the deprivation, time, hunger, and hard work put in at the gym.
I thought I had mastered this, but then my trainer called me on the carpet for negative comments I had made about myself that I wasn't aware were negative. I just thought they were realistic. He told me that I was going to sabotage my own efforts if I didn't stop it. It was hard to hear, and at first I bristled, but then I let it soak in and took the advice to heart.
That day I learned a valuable lesson: There is a difference between being full of yourself and loving yourself. The former is a sin. The latter is a blessing.
Now that I am ounces away from my off-season goal weight I can tell you one thing for sure: Every last minute of the struggle, both mentally and physically, was worth it.
YOU are worth it. YOU deserve to be loved by YOU.
Stopping negative self-talk is paramount to losing weight. Beating yourself up accomplishes nothing positive. Sometimes we are the only positive voice we have. So listen to yourself loving yourself. Your sense of self-worth and desire to change for the better will follow. I promise.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
If you are waiting for life's circumstances to be "just right" before you start eating right and exercising, you are in for a long wait. They never will be.
Why is it that we view taking care of ourselves as an added burden?
Why do we look at ordering a Big Mac and large fries with a McFlurry as easier than ordering a Grilled chicken sandwich, hold the mayo, with a side salad and unsweetened tea?
Why do we look at exercise as something that takes "too much time", but we have time to sit down and spend 2 hours watching The Biggest Loser?
Why do we look at over eating, or eating crap, as an acceptable way of burning off some stress? Has over eating ever really HELPED your stress?
Look, folks, it's a change of mindset.
Since last Ocbober, when I made the decision to make the changes to my lifestyle that would enable me to have a body I am proud of, a lot of stressful things have happened. Here are a few: I got braces on my teeth, a family member died, I had seven immediate family birthdays and four major holidays take place (one of which family members came in and stayed with us for- which was a pure pleasure!), my daughter had an emergency with and then surgery on her feet to include recovery from it, another daughter is being sued in a big way, my son wound up in the ER with a dislocated knee, the step-kids and my husband came back over Christmas vacation....... Oh, and not to mention my husband lives and works 1200 miles away and I am acting essentially as a single Mom to my kids, one of whom is a mentally handicapped adult and living with me.
There's more, but you get the idea.
The point is, taking care of yourself has to be a PART of life, not an optional and disposable add-on.
Yeah, I know you're tired. I'm tired. And I know you have a lot going on. I have a lot going on. But when I decided I was going to make changes despite my circumstances and that taking care of myself needed to be a part of my life just like showering or brushing my teeth, THAT's when the changes came. And now I have more energy to do all of life's stressful stuff because I have less body weight to haul around. I am handling life's stresses BETTER with a more fit body.
It's a change of mindset. Not a change of circumstances.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
The title of this blog has become a bit of a mantra for me.
If you think you are too old to change your physique, think again. It's never too late to make a drastic change for the better.
One of the things I love about the human body is that there are many things we can change about our appearances, and I'm not talking hair color. I'm fascinated with the fact that we can drastically alter our bodies to be more of what we'd like them to be: A too-big body can be made smaller, a too-small body can be made bigger, and muscle can be added to change overall body contours.
The wonderful news is that body you have is not the body you are stuck with. You can change it.
Weight lifting has added size to my shoulders and fat loss has deducted size from my hips. Both exercise and fat reduction have given me a small waistline. This combination has converted my bowling-pin shaped body to an hourglass. This is all by choice and design, friends. I have a very slight build through the upper body without muscle, but with it I look much more proportionate and feminine.
I'm not saying it's easy or quick, but YOU have the power to change yourself, too. You just have to claim it.
Yu know the old saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"? Not true! Us old dogs CAN learn new tricks. I'm 43, and I'm still learning new things...... and unlearning old, bad things.
I think it's more that old dogs choose to be set in their ways than that they are not able to learn new tricks. If you want to be set in your ways, that's your business and choice. But don't blame the way you look on an inability to change.
Areas of our bodies that are less than perfect are largely the result of our own choices.
The sooner you own the roll of your choices in your appearance, the sooner you'll be ready to start making changes to help yourself out. That's what I'm hoping to accomplish with this blog post: Moving people towards the right place mentally to start becoming healthier.
Not only can you change the shape of your body, but exercise helps to reverse the aging process. Weight bearing exercise makes bone more dense, dramatically reducing the risk of broken bones as we age. It helps to keep one's height from shrinking so much with time. Exercise, to include gentle stretching, keeps our muscles and ligaments supple and therefore less prone to injury. And it actually helps us LOOK younger. People see a fit body and they automatically associate it with youth.
And, as I've found out over the past year, it helps you to recover from surgeries and other traumatic things that happen to your body more quickly. (As any woman who's nursed babies knows, there are some things exercise CAN'T fix- for those you need a good surgeon! ) Ask any doctor- the better shape you are in and the better your diet, the faster you heal.
Look, I don't necessarily want to look younger than 43- I just want to look like a really GOOD 43. And the best way to do that is to take care of myself from the inside out.
I don't care if you are 20 or 70, weigh 700 pounds or 115- YOU have the power to change your own body. Your physique is not destiny: It is a choice.
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