Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Over the past couple of days I've been visiting a lot of Spark pages, and have been so inspired by how hard people are working and how much progress is being made in our shared journey for health. This really is an amazing community of people.
As I've scrolled through the pages, I've begun to reflect on my own journey and ask myself why I have made the progress I've made (what's working for me) and why I have not made additional progress (what is not working for me).
Here's what I think is WORKING:
+ joining Sparkpeople
+ tracking my food and exercise
+ being active on Sparkteams
+ connecting with friends outside of Spark who care about their health
+ exercising regularly
+ prioritizing exercise
+ giving myself loving messages
+ blogging on Sparkpeople
And, here is what I think is NOT WORKING
+ LYING TO MYSELF:
I haves struggled with weight and body image my whole life. In this latest chapter, I keep telling myself that I am "a little overweight" and its "just a little while". "I just need to get back on track." "I'm really not that overweight." "I can probably wear those (fill in 2 sizes to small) pants."
Actually, I have been 25-35 lbs overweight for five years. I have been 25 lbs overweight for three years. I have been eating more calories than I need and I have not been exercising consistently for five years.
This is not a temporary phase. This is a lifestyle that I have chosen and grown accustomed to. I need to be honest with myself about this. I need to acknowledge that I made choices and continue to make choices that effect my body's health. So when I look in the mirror, I'm not surprised anymore. I need to recognize myself in the body I am now.
+ WISHFUL THINKING:
This is NOT WORKING for me: If only I weighed less . . . I would be happier. I would be more attractive. My students would love me. I would be able to do things that I can't do now . . . etc etc etc The fantasies just keep coming. I don't even know what these amazing things that I think I could do are! But, there is a part of me that thinks my whole life would be better if I were thin.
Honestly, I don't think my life would not be radically different if I lost 25 lbs. I would not wake up filled with joy and freedom because I was at a healthy weight. I would not have long, luxurious hair that was already styled when I awoke. I would not feel free of worry . . . My internal happiness is up to me, not my circumstances. I can choose to practice gratitude and self-love now! I don't have to wait until I weigh some number. I have everything I need to be happy right now: love, friendship, oxygen, water, food, a home. I am blessed beyond measure.
Again, I need to get honest with myself about what is real in my life. I am overweight AND I am loved. and protected. and blessed.
This leads me to another thing that is not working:
+ STOP DOING WHAT IS WORKING:
Since I joined Spark People last January, I have lost 15 lbs and gained 10 back. I need to lose a total of 25 lbs. As I neared my goal (over half way there!), I quit on myself. I was tracking and exercising, and then I stopped.
Why am I afraid to take those sentences above: "I have everything I need to be happy right now: love, friendship, oxygen, water, food, a home. I am blessed beyond measure" and live in them? Why can't I add "I have my health" to that list?
What would it mean for me to be healthy again? What would it mean for me to feel more freedom in my food choices? What would it mean to feel comfortable in my body? What would it mean for me not to have something to beat myself up about?
+ WHAT IS REALLY REALLY NOT WORKING FOR ME:
I am punishing myself for all the good things in my life. I am punishing myself for finding a partner that I love, building a family that I love, and getting my dream job (this is all really amazing stuff, right!!???) I have so many reasons to be happy right now. But, I am so afraid that if anyone notices, it will all be taken away.
Does anyone else feel that way?
Some part of myself thinks I'm protecting me. Some part of me really believes that I don't deserve all this. I'm not really good enough for that job. That man is not really going to love me for the rest of my life. I'm not really beautiful.
I need to meet this part of myself and really get to know her. I need to understand how to heal these feelings. This is SO MUCH more than 25 lbs. This is me. This is the scared, injured me. I need to help her out. I need to love her through this. I need her with me on this journey.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
I was chatting with a colleague on Friday and she mentioned that she just turned 44. I congratulated her, and mentioned that my 40th birthday was coming up. Her jaw dropped, she looked shocked and was silent. I laughed and said "Older or younger?" And, she said "Older. Definitely older."
I always wonder how old I look. I teach college kids; being surrounded by 18 year olds all day, I often feel like I look 18!! So, I didn't think this woman's comments bothered me, except 24 hours later I am still thinking about them. What a bunch of crap! I feel so good about who I am and what I have achieved in my 39 almost 40 years, and yet I am still vulnerable enough about my appearance to let that outweigh my other feelings.
So, here's what I want to celebrate as I approach my 40th birthday:
Here's to looking and feeling great PERIOD.
Here's to all the steps I have walked, the miles I have run, the weights I have lifted, the risks I have taken, the people I have forgiven, the pain I have endured, the injuries from which I have healed, the friends and family I support, encourage, and love day in and day out.
Here's to caring for ourselves, loving ourselves, and making the best choices we can. Here's to kindness. Here's to recognizing beauty in all its myriad forms and shapes. Here's to seeing ourselves as we really are: loving, striving, vulnerable people who need one another.
And, for me, here's to 40!!!
Friday, December 13, 2013
I have been focussing on my nutrition, my exercise, my family, and my job these past few weeks, but now the Christmas holiday has finally caught up with me. This is always such a mixed time of year for me -- moments of joy and celebration punctuated with feelings of loss and yearning.
Having grown up in an abusive household, many of the images of family that are in Christmas songs, advertisements, pictures . . . well, they don't fit for me. The loving family of choice that I have built for my adult self doesn't resemble those families at all, and sometimes those images remind me of what I never had - but always longed for - as a child. That longing comes back with such force! It is very easy for me to idealize these images and believe that these are what "normal" families are like.
I also forget how lucky I am to have built my family of choice -- each one a relationship filled with love and trust and built on honesty and freedom. I need to remember how hard we worked to build these relationships and how lucky we are to have found kindred spirits in each other. Instead, I forget to be grateful for what I have and am just overwhelmed with what I have lost.
I have also found myself experiencing a lot of shame and self-loathing lately. (Doesn't this sound like good holiday cheer? UGH!!) Even though its been many years for me, and I chose to leave an abusive situation, there is still a part of me that thinks "If only. . . if only I were good enough . . . if only I were prettier . . . if only I could . . " Believing I had the power to make my parents love me and treat me well is an illusion, but one so old that when it returns, it kind of knocks me over. I don't know if we ever get over this.
So, right now, I am choosing to take one day at a time. I am choosing to be honest with myself and the people in my life about how I am feeling (even if its not pretty). I am choosing to take care of the parts of me that feel hurt and sad. I am choosing to celebrate when I have the option to celebrate, to be grateful when I have the eyes to see.
I am also determined to not allow these feelings of shame or self-hatred sabotage me. Although it may be hard for me to hold on to right now, I know I have the right to feel good about myself. I know I have the right to feel loved and treasured. I have the right to be part of a peaceful, loving family. And, I don't have to punish myself (by overeating or not exercising). I am not "bad" and I don't have to treat myself that way.
I want to honor the fighters in each of us that are working so hard to transform our lives. Not just our bodies, but our hearts and souls. This is a tough road. I'm really glad to be on it.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Its been almost 6 months since my last blog, and I've spent some time away from Spark people in that time. Yet, when I read that last blog -- Experiencing Gratitude -- I am so happy to say that I am still experiencing many of the positive changes in my life that I recount there.
Over the past few weeks of becoming active on Spark people again, I have been most grateful for the warm and gracious "welcome backs!" No judgement from my spark friends, no explanations required. I've received only warm wishes and expressions of desire to help out. I am so grateful for this! I am so grateful to have a place where I can be me -- successes, failures, lapses, victories -- and still be welcomed and cared for. This is what home is, isn't it?
I am also grateful that my thyroid condition is now in full remission! It has taken a little over three years, but the fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, and swelling have all receded. I am working out four times a week without unaccounted for pain or exhaustion. There are so many of us living with immediate and direct challenges to our health, and I am so grateful to have found proper treatment for mine. I am grateful for the opportunity to feel peace and health in my body. These are truly blessings, and I am grateful to my body for hanging in there and fighting back to health!
(we need a self-hug icon!)
I am also really grateful today for forgiveness. I stopped tracking my food and exercising regularly this summer. And, I have forgiven myself. I am back on spark people, back at the gym, back weighing and tracking my food. I am back learning to love myself a little more every day. And, I am so grateful that I am letting myself do this! Self-punishment has kept me from too many days of happiness and progress. How lucky I am to be able to forgive and love myself through this.
I know that this journey to health is a struggle for so many of us. I am so grateful to share this struggle! And, to remember the journey is the most precious part!
(from Rae Lewis-Thornton)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Its been exactly a month since I last blogged. I prefer to blog more often in order to remain connected and to hold myself accountable to my goals.
Over the past 30 days I have not been on spark regularly. I have taken up to a week away, without planning and without accountability. I am slowly working my way back to daily check-ins with spark, particularly because of all the support I find here through the teams I am a part of. I can't thank my spark friends enough for their compassion and encouragement. Despite my absences I have experienced a lot of growth during this time.
Over the past 30 days, I have had a major change in my thyroid condition. I have found a doctor and treatment that are working for me. I am so grateful! I have no more joint pain, no more brain fog, no more extreme fatigue, no more memory loss, no more swollen limbs. And . . . .with the help of my nutrition plan I have lost 15 pounds since late April! I am now half way to my goal weight.
Most importantly, I am SO SO SO grateful that my body is returning to a healthy state. I am amazed by this body's capacity to recover, heal and renew itself. I am so proud of it.
The change initiated by the thyroid medication inspired me to change my nutrition plan. I have moved to a whole food plants-based plan. I just decided to help my body out by eating the most nutrient rich foods available to me. And, these are whole plant-based foods. I can't believe how easy its been and how excited I am to eat! Everything has more flavor now. Fruit has never tasted sweeter, I had no idea I loved dates, and who knew black beans with quinoa over spinach with guacamole was so delicious? It hasn't felt like deprivation at all; in fact, its a great new adventure into how I can eat more vegetables and fruits in more ways. I am really enjoying this nutrition plan and I feel great eating this way! (Almond and soy milk are great, by the way!!!)
So, all this wonderful change has been going on biologically. I am so grateful for that. And, there has been a lot of change psychologically, too. As I move toward a healthier body, I need to move toward a healthier soul. For me, this means bringing more mindfulness and attention to my every feeling, thought, and act. I have discovered a lot of pain that I was ignoring either by eating or shopping. Since I am not eating to cover up the pain anymore and I cannot shop my way through it (oh my god that would be horrible!), I have been living with the pain. I have been looking into it more deeply to try to understand it. I have been gentle with myself. I have allowed myself to be not at my best. I have called on friends -- Spark friends included -- to help me. I have given myself permission to feel this pain and live with the limits it temporarily sets for me. And, I am okay. It has not defeated me. It has not overwhelmed me. It has not brought me down. I am still standing (or walking or sitting or sleeping). I am still me, but I am holding a very tender part of me as I go about being me. I know I am healing, and by healing I will experience more freedom and more joy.
I am so grateful for these changes in my life. I am so grateful to my friends on the Healing from Abuse team who have inspired and supported me with their stories, their jokes, their blogs, their posts. What an amazing group of people! I want to be just like you!
Get An Email Alert Each Time PRACTICINGPEACE Posts