Thursday, June 07, 2012
And not only physically! Iím about to do something that requires lots of other characteristics which I didnít know I have, or maybe I donít! But let me be more specificÖ
Last September, at the beginning of the new school year the parentsí committee at my daughtersí school announced the beginning of a parentsí dancing class. Now, when I say ďdancingĒ, donít let your mind go to rumba, tango or other ďdancing-with-the-starsĒ kind of dances! Weíre talking about traditional dances of our country Ė I think itís called line dancing Ė which is performed in small or big groups and usually in a cycle. Still, itís difficult. It requires learning the steps, counting and being adequately fit and having lots of physical endurance. Iíve always loved dancing of all kinds. And having already lost some weight and embarked on my fitness journey, I decided to join!
The classes were really fun. They were once a week and they were a stress-relief for me. And as a stay-at-home-mom, they were also a good opportunity to get out of the house and meet with other people. But a few weeks before Easter we realized that there was a bigger challenge ahead of us! Our teacher told us that all kidsí classes traditionally take part at the end-of-the-year celebration, dancing in front of the whole school. So, we will have to do the same!!!
Now, let me point out a few things. Iím as shy as a 3-year-old hiding behind his mom every time someone smiles at him! Iím self-conscious beyond imagination! Iím the kind of person who gets sort of ďparalyzedĒ under circumstances of stress and feeling nervous! As a student, I used to dread days like these where I had to talk, dance, perform or just stand in front of so many people! I absolutely love pictures and videos as long as I stand behind the camera! I blush when I talk in front of people I donít know very well! And tomorrow Iím going to dance in front of a whole school with so many students, parents and teachers looking at us, with cameras and lights in front of us and with my two little girls waiting to feel proud of their mommy Ė thatís the toughest one!!!
Comfort zone: circumstances under which you feel comfortable with yourself. In physical terms, when your heart rate is as high as you can handle, you can still talk without being out of breath and you feel like you still have enough endurance to keep you going. Itís surely difficult to step out of it. You must push yourself to your limits, you must be ready for more. But thereís also comfort zone in emotional and psychological terms. We usually choose activities that we feel weíre better at, that we think they are more suitable for us and we donít want to step out of this ďcomfort zoneĒ for many reasons. Weíre scared, embarrassed, we have low self-esteem, we donít believe in our abilities, and the list goes on.
But this site can do miracles! The motivation and the inspiration found here together with the changes on our bodies that weíve worked so hard for can cause a change in our attitude, too. We can take risks and try new things! We can stare back at the comfort zone weíve boldly stepped out of and wonder: ďDid I really do that?Ē
What did your weight loss make you want to try? How did you step out of your comfort zone? Were you successful? Iíd like to hear your stories and try to feel more positive for my attempt tomorrow. In the meantime, some "good luck" wishes and lots of positive vibes could be greatly appreciated! I donít want to be humiliated in front of my little girls and my husband! Keep your fingers crossed!
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I stepped on the scale this morning. Itís not my regular weigh-in day but there was a voice inside me that insisted. ďCome on, get on there. Itíll put a smile on your face.Ē The last few days, Iím proud to say, Iíve been a bright example of proper nutrition and exercise. Weíve had more dance classes as the end of the school year approaches and weíre getting ready for our performance at the closing celebration. So, the fitness minutes were easy to gather this month! Right way of eating and lots of exercise. The combination that leads to weight loss, right?
And it did. I just couldnít believe the reading on the scale!
Wow! This morning I entered the land of the sixties! And the last time I was here was about 16 years ago. Ever since then, I climbed up to the seventies and then the eighties and I stayed there for many years. I even reached the nineties at some point! And here I am again, at the age of 36, feeling like Iím 20 again. No, itís not the number. It may be a big scale victory, it may be something that makes me feel proud and accomplished, it may be something that I never expected to see but itís not what makes me feel 20 again.
Itís the energy. All this endless energy that exercise and clean eating have created in my body. Itís the feeling of waking up every morning, ready to seize the day with anything that it brings with it. Itís the positivity and the optimism that have come out of nowhere Ė Iíve always been a person who used to see the cup as half-empty! And, above all, itís the feeling that I can set goals and achieve them. Because I finally believe in myself.
All I would like to do now is to shout out to all those people out there who want to make this change in their lives and, for many different reasons, they just donít make the first step:
It takes time and commitment.
It involves lots of disappointment in the process.
Itís got ups and downs.
Youíre going to fall and getting up again will be tough.
BUT ITíS WORTH IT!
Itís worth every single minute of your time.
It's worth every small or big effort that you put into it.
It's worth every sigh that you let out.
It's worth every drop of sweat that you shed.
It's worth every small or big sacrifice you will have to make.
Because youíll be giving your body the best gift of all: health and energy! Youíll be giving the people you love a great person in their lives: a strong, healthy and energetic mom, dad, spouse, friend, sister, brother, granny, granddad.
You deserve to be the best yourself you can be.
Itís worth the effort!
Friday, May 11, 2012
How many times have you ďgoogledĒ a symptom or a number of symptoms just to find out whatís causing it? Come on, admit it! You must have done it at least once! I know I have! Well, if you havenít, you must belong to a very small percentage of people. Of really careful and cautious people. Because, even though the internet is a huge, enormous, gigantic bank of information, not all the sources can be trusted and some of them could prove quite misleading and even dangerous!
Unfortunately one of the areas that this commonly happens is the field of health and nutrition. If you belong to the majority of the people mentioned above who have Ė at least once Ė used the internet in order to find information about symptoms or illnesses, you have definitely come across a huge number of different cases and, in most cases, got worried or even scared! A very bad headache could be a life-threatening brain tumor! And the fact that you havenít slept for two days in a row, youíve drunk a lake of coffee and your stress levels have reached the stratosphere of earth??? Well, all it takes is a few terrifying cases found on the internet and we just forget aboutÖ the obvious!
Now, letís narrow the field of health down to our interests here on Sparkpeople: nutrition. Anyone can find thousands of blogs in and out of the SP community on what other people did to lose the weight they had been fighting against for years. Tons of different ďdietsĒ, cutting out food categories, focusing on a specific nutrient, and Ė the worst kind of all Ė diets or nutritional habits meant for people with health conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol! Given by people who are no doctors or have no expertise on the subject!
We all exchange knowledge and information about the subjects that we are interested in and thatís perfectly normal. But when it comes to health issues, thereís a huge difference between discussing and actually doing! If you have health problems that are directly related to the way you eat, the only one who can give you the guidelines is your doctor! You can talk about it with your friends, your Sparkfriends, your Facebook buddies but only to know what other people have to say and share your stories. In order to apply any change to your nutritional habits, you have to be perfectly sure that they are right for you. Every case is different. Are all people with diabetes treated in the same way? Some are only advised to be careful with what they eat, whereas others need daily insulin shots! How about people with high cholesterol levels? 220 for a 25-year-old who doesnít smoke, is not obese and is active is not a big worry but 360 for a 50-year-old obese smoker is extremely alarming! How can those two people follow the same nutrition plans? And Iím sure there are hundreds of other food-related health issues. Those are just some examples.
But while weíre at the high cholesterol example, I would also like to stress something else for all of us who use the information on the Sparkpeople food tracker. We can see the amount of cholesterol intake and other nutrients we choose to. But we should only consider this accurate, if we are perfectly sure that all food we track contain information for the nutrient weíre interested in. There are many kinds of food that we enter manually or that other users have, which donít have information on all nutrients. For example, Iíve had high cholesterol for years now and even though itís dropped considerably after my weight loss, it still remains high. I also have a slight problem of anemia. So, cholesterol and iron are those that interest me the most. Almost none of the foods Iíve manually entered contain this information! So how can I rely on them? I definitely canít! I only rely on the advice my doctor has given me.
To sum up with all this, the internet is full of people who have stories and advice to offer on health and nutrition even if they are no experts. Thatís really irresponsible of them, in my opinion, but you can judge them according to your own beliefs. Just think before you decide to adopt a personís advice. Check their expertise, compare their case with yours, ask questions, do your own research and above all talk with your doctor. When we have health issues that are related to food and we know it, we canít experiment with weird diets and other peopleís ďIím-the-living-proof-that-it-worksĒ ways of eating! When it comes to our health, our body is the expert. And we have to be sure that itís in safe hands!
Friday, May 04, 2012
Guilt. Well-known feeling to anyone who has tried to lose weight. We start, filled with enthusiasm, we follow meal plans and exercise schedules with discipline and weíre proud of ourselves. Then one day, life gets in the way. Our day is filled with tasks and we canít find ten minutes to exercise. Weíre stressed and we eat everything in sight. And quite coincidentally weíre invited to dinner and we just canít resist the temptations! And those feelings of guilt begin to arise in our heads. And theyíre usually fought by another cycle of more eating - less exercise. And then more guilt. And the vicious circle that is bound to ruin our efforts has just begun!
Sounds familiar? It does to me! Thatís what I kept doing for years and years. I would feel guilty every time I allowed myself to eat in an ďunhealthyĒ way. I would punish myself with ďstrict diet daysĒ every time I happened to overeat because of a special occasion, because of cooking something that I really liked or simply because of emotional eating during stressful days. The guilt was overwhelming and I would always go to extremes to make myself feel better. But extreme measures can only lead to more extreme actions!
It took me almost three years on Sparkpeople but I finally learned one of the most important lessons of this journey: Myself deserves to be given a break once in a while. And thereís no reason to feel guilty about it. We are all human beings, not programmed machines. There will be days that we just canít follow our healthy way of eating and exercising for many reasons. Thatís what happened to me the day before yesterday. I was feeling many stressful things taking full control of me. My mind was filled with many different things and solutions I had to figure out and I could feel the emotional eater inside me taking action. And do you know what I did? I gave myself a break! I hated it but I felt it had to be done. I let myself binge on different foods I was craving and even munching mindlessly while talking on the phone! And I discovered two things. First of all, my house has been emptied of many unhealthy foods that I used to crave on days like this. Secondly, my cravings are different now and I canít eat as much as I used to!
So, I admit it. I gave in to my emotional cravings andÖ nothing bad happened! Thatís where another important lesson comes in: Knowing when to put a stop. It was a bad day. I gave myself permission to take a break. But breaks have to come to an end. And the sooner, the better. The next day was back to normal. And normal means healthy food, balanced meal times and exercising. Thatís exactly what I did and todayís weigh-in proved that everything was back to normal again. Almost a poundí loss and no damage done.
We all deserve Ė yes, deserve, you read that right Ė a day of mindless eating or a break from exercise. Itís the exception, not the rule. And if the rule is a balanced and healthy way of life, the exception can really do no harm. A break is something everyone needs. So, the next time you happen to find yourself at a wedding reception with a buffet full of foods you love, next Christmas when your mom greets you with your favorite pudding, at your next birthday when your best friend orders your favorite flavor in your cake, when you are going through a ďwrongĒ day and "eating right and exerciseĒ seems equally wrong, or in every other occasion that guilty feelings of over-eating and ďunder-exercisingĒ would come to haunt you, give yourself a break! Respect your desires, your needs and donít start criticizing and punishing yourself. Set the limits and allow yourself one day of ďwrong-doingĒ. Itís just one day!
But donít forget! Tomorrow is a new day. And you have to get back to normal. Let your dreams, goals and ambitions define ďnormalĒ.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Itís this time of the year again that all people who take care of a household dread: reorganizing closets and changing clothes according to season! Especially for a mom of young children, this can be a daunting task. Old clothes, clothes that donít fit anymore, clothes that can be kept for the youngest children, outgrown clothes that can be given to other children, worn clothes that have to be thrown away, a bunch of clothes that needs sorting out! And, of course momís and dadís clothes. Well, thatís what Iíve been doing the last few days.
Every year, this would be a really difficult time for me. And I donít mean the amount of work that needs to be done, nor the time it takes, not even the tiredness it causes. I mean the feelings that would always arise after it. I would always stand in front of my open closet - which is tiny, by the way, because our apartment only has two small closets and I share one with my husband - and always come to the same conclusion: I have nothing to wear and it's my fault! The reason is that I had some clothes from previous years, from when I was thinner which I hadnít gotten rid of because I always thought ďNext summer I will have lost weight and it will fit me.Ē And the next summer I would say the same. And I would keep these clothes on one end of my closet so that I could see them daily and find motivation to try and lose weight! And the worst part is that every summer - or winter - they would take more space in my closet than the previous one! Simply because the number on the scale would go up and more clothes wouldnít fit! The closet had become my number one enemy!
This year I started the task knowing that something had changed. I knew it from the first glance through my summer clothes. Lots of them were huge and I put them separately to give them away. But I first tried them all on! I even wore a dress with my daughter together! It was funny and we had a great time doing this. Then I started trying on some of my older clothes. Clothes that I hadnít worn for years. When I finished putting them in my closet, the look of it was somewhat disappointing. Just a few clothes, most of them old as our budget has been tight and priority is always given to the children who outgrow theirs. Zero variety, few choices and combinations and mostly workout clothes. And I stood in front of it staring. With a huge smile on my faceÖ
For the first time in years, everything that I have in my closet fits me! And I mean everything! There is no kept-for-when-I-lose-weight part of the closet. I donít care if my clothes are old, I donít care if I canít go shopping for new, what I care about is that they fit! All of a sudden, the closet had become a friend!
And thereís something that made me even happier. There was this long summer dress that my husband had bought me as a gift during our first years of marriage Ė I donít remember when exactly but it must be about 12 or 13 years ago. When I first tried it on back then, it was a little tight. But I didnít take it back as it was the biggest size available and I really liked it. So, I thought Iíd lose a few pounds and be able to wear it Ė the story of my life! I had never worn it until yesterday. I tried it on and it was loose! I can officially say Iím in the best shape of my life! With proof!
Now that I think about it, maybe the motivation of the closet worked after all. Maybe this part with the clothes that didnít fit really motivated me to do something. It just took me about 13 years to do it the right way! Better late than never!
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