Saturday, April 28, 2012
I thought I would share my values and priorities with you guys :). It’s creepy how similar we all are and I thought it may help some of you gain clarity on your own by reading mine ;). I am OBSESSED with priority/value/goal alignment…it is KEY to living a happy life!! Truly life-changing stuff!!!!
My Top 8:
-As in God (Love is God and God is Love in my world :)
-Love of others
-Responding with Love always
-Spreading Love (God)
-Being true to who I am (regardless of who I am around)
-Being honest about my shortcomings to encourage others to encourage others to be comfortable with themselves, too
-Being a loyal friend
3. Vitality (not my business, the definition of the word ;)
-i. Exuberant physical strength or mental vigor
ii. The capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence
iii. The power to live or grow
iv. The characteristic, principle, or force that distinguishes living things from nonliving things.
-Always looking for the positive in EVERYTHING (this is life-changing FOR sure), no matter how terrible it may seem
-Always asking "what am I learning right now?" instead of "why me?"
-Giving thanks for what I already have
-Letting people know I'm grateful
-Helping everyone, regardless if I don't know them, if they are in need
7. Relaxation (I need to put this one on here, or else I FORGET ;)--I'm sure a lot of you can relate!)
-Taking time to meditate
-Taking time away from work
-Quieting my busy mind
8. Security (stems from the control-freak recovering perfectionist in me—can’t shake it ;)
-Feeling like I can trust people around me
-Knowing my next plan of action
My number-one priority is my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
My second priority is Vitality (my business)/supporting myself by honoring my passion of helping others.
My third priority is surrounding myself with like-minded spiritual people who support me.
The reason why I have placed the greatest importance on my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical well-being is because I cannot be the best me I can be until I take care of myself first. My whole life I have put others’ needs before my own, which (as a lot of you know ;) can be extremely draining. I’m just now healing from this and getting better at taking care of my needs. I am just now fully starting to realize putting others first is counterproductive because I can’t help others to the best of my ability unless I am taking care of myself first! I also preach this to MY clients (who also struggle with this as well) and feel guilty if I am not practicing what I tell others (because authenticity scores so high on my values ;).
The following actions would be inconsistent with my commitment to my top priority: not taking time out to meditate, not taking time out to read, not eating food that makes me feel my best, skipping workouts, putting other people before myself, giving myself away, taking on other people’s problems as my own, allowing myself to get overwhelmed ;), and saying “yes” to commitments I don’t want to make (recovering people pleaser right here ;)…to name a few!
To honor my number-one priority, I will limit the following: saying “yes” to commitments I don’t want to make, spending too much on something because of my perfectionism (big time waster ;), spending time on things that don’t move me closer to my goals, eating food that has lots of sodium in it/processed (I have gotten SO sensitive to this!), procrastinating my workouts/pushing them to later in the day, negative self-talk (hardly ever do this anymore, but sometimes I can catch myself slipping!), etc.
To honor my number-one priority, I need to make the following changes: to be honest, I have made a lot of the changes already…but it is definitely something I need to reinforce and reinforce again and again and again. These are habits that I have had my whole life. I do need to make sure I am having my “me time” in the morning and that I am writing my daily to-do list…daily haha….to make sure I feel that momentum gaining. A to-do list really does help make me feel way more productive. I do a lot…and sometimes I revert to my old habit of not feeling like I am doing enough if I am not keeping my daily to-do list. In reality, the real issue is that I need to write down what I am doing so I can fully realize how much I do actually do. Haha. Does that make sense? I am seriously finding stuff on my computer that I didn’t even remember doing…that’s how much I do. Haha. Gotta remedy that—and a daily to-do list does the trick :). Keeping up with my affirmations as well!! That makes such a difference ;)
Priority statement: My number-one priority is my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical well-being. I will honor this by putting myself first and taking time to meditate, read, do my daily affirmations, eat healthy, and exercise.
LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Sunday, March 04, 2012
I'm super excited!! I have been taking a lot of time to myself and time off the computer (ME month is going great! :) and have been really getting clear on my life purpose and passion. With my 2-year SparkVersary coming up, there has been lots of reflection. WHOA has these past two years been a total RIDE...in an extremely positive way! So much self-discovery...I'm a COMPLETELY different person...the person I always wanted to be :)
Story time!!! Props to you if you read it all, I think you'll gain a lot out of it if you do. I know a lot of you are just like me and these are the lessons I learned :) Shave off your learning time a lil bit if you can relate, perhaps? :)
In my world, each and every failed diet attempt has a purpose. I really learned this over the course of my journey. Although I thought I wanted to lose weight more than anything and started over on my diet and exercise program daily (after "failing" the day before by what seemed to be my out-of-my-control binge-eating), I wasn't ready at the time to embark on my journey of self-discovery. As painful as it was at the time, I still had lessons I had to learn in order to fulfill my life purpose of helping others to the best of my ability later. I had to drop to an even lower point of self-hate and gain more weight, both a result of my perfectionism, before I was capable to heal and help others do the same.
For years, I received the daily Spark e-mails at an e-mail address that I didn't check regularly. On March 9, 2010...I was checking that e-mail for the first time in years. That's when I decided to attempt the losing weight game for the millionth time. Randomly checking that e-mail that day was definitely a large-scale synchronicity for me. It was an event that unexpectedly changed my life forever. It was an event that triggered a journey of self-discovery that eventually led me to my life passion and purpose of empowering people to live a life of Love, where weight loss is just a small side effect in comparison to everything else that occurs when living with Love.
In my first six months on SparkPeople, I lost 50 pounds pretty easily. People are always astonished with my before and after pictures...asking me for my exact diet and exercise program. They are surprised (and somewhat annoyed sometimes I think ;) when I tell them my diet and exercise program wasn't really anything special. Yes, I exercised pretty regularly and yes I TRIED to be mindful of my eating...but I had just begun recovering from a binge-eating disorder that I had struggled with for years and was EXTREMELY out of shape when I started. I was by no means "perfect" on my plan and did find myself getting off track. What set THIS time apart from all the other times was that THIS WAS OK. For some reason (nothing short of a MIRACLE for my perfectionist self), I was very kind to myself and didn't expect perfection.
Blog after blog, I see myself saying variations of "I wasn't perfect, but that's OK!" Although I didn't realize it at the time, the kinder and more forgiving I was to myself, the more on track I stayed. I realized that beating myself up over what happened yesterday only led me to getting more and more off track. I began asking myself when I realized I was off track, "what can I do right NOW to get me moving in the right direction?" instead of doing what I used to: beating myself up for my lack of willpower and self-control (which CLEARLY didn't work as I gained 90 pounds while using this method to try and lose weight). I honored where I was at and NEVER beat myself up.
By June or July, my binge-eating disorder seemed SO foreign to me...I can literally remember thinking, "why did I find this so hard before, losing weight is EASY!" It never crossed my mind whether or not I'd reach my goal. I adjusted my plan whenever I realized I set my expectations too high and wasn't able to keep up with it. This time, this didn't make me a failure, it actually made me successful. I was just adjusting what didn't work based on the feedback I got. I stopped focusing on what I was doing wrong and started focusing on what I was doing right. I focused on what I LIKED doing, not what I hated...even if that meant not doing the super intense workout and eating 100% clean. Before I was successful with losing weight, I wanted to do what would cause the fastest amount of weight loss in the shortest period of time (while still being healthy). For example, eating salads at every meal and working out an hour and a half every day. In theory, this may yield better results, but in actuality, I wouldn't have lasted long because I didn't LIKE doing that in the beginning of my journey..I would have ultimately rebelled. Honoring where I was at and expecting a realistic stretch out of myself was why I was successful...not my diet and exercise program!
I radiated confidence...I was FINALLY accomplishing the goal of losing weight I had set for myself thousands of times before that. I can remember thinking after I lost the first ten pounds, "wow! I have such an empathetic and good heart because of what I have gone through. I am ALWAYS going to remember how terrible I felt about myself, how I was treated differently because of my weight, the hurtful comments that were made by people from home about how I 'let myself go', and how I was judged when I reach my goal. I will never be so silly as to obsess over my weight when I am thin." For the first time in my life, I got a taste of what it felt like to Love myself.
I was also able to prove my old beliefs were false. Contrary to what I was taught growing up, I learned your looks aren't everything. People are much more interested in how you make them FEEL when you are around them. When you are confident, you empower them to feel confident too. People LOVE this and in turn love you.
On the way up, I felt especially unworthy when it came to relationships. Like no guy would ever be interested in me because I was "fat" and not good enough, this happened at 120 pounds to my heaviest 200+ pounds. Size didn't matter. When relationships didn't work out, I interpreted it as them not liking me because I wasn't thin or pretty enough....or good enough in general (I projected and internalized my own insecurities). In all actuality, my insecurities made the guys I liked feel insecure and like THEY weren't good enough because I seemed so aloof (my defense mechanism so I wouldn't get hurt).
On the way down, at the same exact sizes, I proved that my beliefs weren't true when I was attracting all sorts of guys. Same size, different attitude. It suddenly made so much sense, when you own your worth...so do others. I mean...duh Lauren...a physical imperfection on the opposite sex is never a deal breaker if you actually like them! Same is true for everyone else in this world. I also realized that if my weight/a body imperfection was a deal breaker for a guy...I wouldn't want to be dating him anyway! This was very liberating!!
As much as I wanted to live happily after at the time, I still had lessons to learn! :) Around October 2010, about seven months on Sparks, my perfectionism kicked back in, which was triggered by my first extended weight loss plateau. I had put so much emphasis on the scale, weighing myself every day and measuring my success by the weight loss results, not the habits that got me there. Although I was eating the cleanest, the most fit I had ever been in my life, and exercising daily, it wasn't good enough because the scale wasn't moving. I was so frustrated! I could be "perfect" and MAYBE lose half a pound or eat whatever I wanted and maintain. As a perfectionist, my self-worth was determined by what I could produce. I wasn't good enough unless I was doing something to prove that I was worthy. Without the scale to give me this validation, my perfectionist tendencies crept back in.
For the first time, I questioned whether or not I'd ever reach my goal. I went in a downward spiral of negative self-talk, which resulted in my binge-eating to creep back in. Once again, I found myself rebelling because my dad was reinforcing my perfectionist tendencies (it's a learned behavior, though I do take responsibility, I just state this because I know many of you guys can relate). It seemed like he was constantly asking me if what I was eating was "clean", if I had worked out, and how my weight loss was going. He was projecting HIS beliefs that life is what you produce, and I was unconsciously choosing to internalize them. Though he really thought, just like he did when he was calling me fat to "scare" me from getting fat before I ever got fat, he was encouraging me and being supportive/speaking in my best interest...I was choosing to interpret it as him trying to control me. This caused me to rebel, once again. As a result, I picked up my binge-eating habits like they never left, and restarted a very vicious cycle of negative self-talk.
Although not as bad as before, my body image issues crept back in and I was beginning to not see changes in my body since I was so caught up with the number on the scale. For five months, I regained and lost the same 5-10 pounds I don't even know how many times. Every time I lost, I would think about how hard I worked and lose it. Once I lost it again, I found myself binge-eating and gaining again. My mind was blown, I literally started getting scared that it was a fluke that I was able to lose weight in the first place and began doubting myself. Just like before I found Sparks, I made a million different diet and exercise plans, thinking that was the problem. I reverted back to looking for external factors like diet and exercise plans, thinking they would solve my problems.
Finally, I realized that what had changed was my ATTITUDE. I was getting caught up in being negative, I realized I needed to be more positive. I had been so kind and forgiving to myself the first six months and I had reverted back to being overly critical of myself. I needed to stop, but obviously that easier said than done! I struggled for a few months, but finally got back my positive attitude...still, something seemed to be missing and I couldn't put my finger on it.
With my perfectionist tendencies, I unconsciously began looking for more external things to give me worth since my weight loss goal was almost met. I decided to go back to school to get my life coaching certification and leave the doctor's office I worked at as a weight loss coach (very Spark inspired ;). I wanted to help people the way I knew works best...using what I learned about how important the mindset is when it comes to weight loss.
I want to point out I would have NEVER learned this at all if I didn't revert to my perfectionist tendencies and go in a downward spiral for five months. Don't get me wrong, it was not pleasant at the time, but it really reinforced in my life that there's a purpose in everything. This obviously helps IMMENSELY when I'm in slumps...instead of asking, "why me?"...I now ask, "what am I supposed to be learning right now?" They make the "down" times not really down times at all! I approach everything that comes my way with a curiosity of what I am supposed to be learning. Some lessons are more pleasant/enjoyable than others, some lessons are harder to learn, but none of them are "bad".
Out of all this, my baby, Vitality was born. I started coaching for myself in June and things really started to take off in September 2011. I was working for myself, doing what I love, living my dream. I knew I was going to help so many people and began working very hard...I couldn't work enough, but I was very happy to be doing so! Once again, unconsciously, the perfectionist in me had shifted what determined my self-worth to another external source...this time, my work.
In October 2011, I began burning out. One can only work 12-15 hours a day for so long! In the midst of the burn out, I had the stunning realization that I didn't feel worthy unless I was producing something. It dawned on me that I had jumped from being a great student, to quitting smoking cigarettes, to losing weight, to starting Vitality once the previous goal was met. It was then that I realized that nothing was ever good enough and nothing would EVER be good enough. I realized, even with all the work I had done and the changes I had made, I didn't truly Love myself. Ouch!
The consciousness of this sunk in during November and December, I would tell myself I was going to step back from work and take a deep breath and find myself working five seconds later (haha-not literally, but pretty much). I was literally addicted to work, but was bummed because I was conscious of why. Awareness can be a blessing AND a curse, right?!
My heart told me to learn to Love myself and take time for ME. After some resistance, I went on a spontaneous road trip to Florida with my mom to visit our family friends. During this trip, I had a ton of realizations. I was still working pretty hard, but I was taking a step back in comparison to what I was used to. I was taking time to BE for the first time in my life. I was learning to quiet my mind and stop thinking about all the things I had to DO. When I did this, my intuition told me that I was not able to help people to the best of my ability until I healed my own issues that stemmed from my perfectionism. Once I surrendered to what that inner voice told me (which I was accustom to ignoring ;) and let go of my human DOingness...things came so quickly for me. It was and is amazing!
It's funny, I just talked to my business coach for the first time since December and she said she couldn't believe the shift in my energy. That's what a few months of listening to your intuition, throwing out your "should" list, and learning to Love yourself as you are will do! ;) I went to my Energy Leadership certification module for school and 4 separate people that told me they couldn't believe how calm my energy is, especially for how young I am. I laughed and had to tell my classmates that were with me when I started school in July, when I was ALL about being a human DOing...hopped up on caffeine and not able to sit still!
WOW-did not anticipate this to be THIS long! :) haha-that's why I love blogging and SparkPeople...this was an amazing experience writing this. I'm getting teary thinking about how far I have come...I must say, I am very proud of myself. Mastering the art of self-Love has been quite the roller coaster ride..and each prior experience was necessary to bring me to where I am now. I can't wait to see how I grow this next year.
Bottom line, have faith that everything is happening as it should and that you are doing the best you can in this given moment. Life is also unraveling as it should and all the lessons you are learning right now WILL eventually make sense, even if they do not in this moment. The reason why you haven't been able to lose weight isn't because you lack willpower or self-control, you will find you exhibit those traits in other areas. It's your mindset! The solution to weight loss isn't a diet and exercise program, it's positive self-talk and nurturing yourself with a positive psychology plan. You must honor where you are now and take baby steps that are a realistic stretch for you. Your life isn't about following some diet and exercise plan perfectly, it's about being HAPPY and living a life of Love (Love of self, others, AND responding with Love). When you do these things, the weight will dissolve rapidly! Of course, I'm always here if you need help or want to learn how to do these things in less time! :)
I love each and every one of you and I can't begin to explain how much SparkPeople has changed my life. Always remember the power of being positive and the power of Love...especially self-Love. You can't help others to the best of your ability and be the best YOU until you put yourself first. It's not selfish, it's SELFLESS! :)
LOVE LOVE LOVE :)
I need to update my before and after and get new professional pics shot :) This "after" is from June 2011.
Me with Beth (~INDYGIRL)...my first Spark Friend I met in person! :) Love, Love, LOVE her!!!! :)
Sunday, February 05, 2012
Confession #1: I took a week off of blogging and ruined my streak that was my longest ever!
Confession #2: I consciously did it. :)
I was thinking of signing in and writing a blog about that, but ultimately didn't. I was on a little business/pleasure trip to California and realized so, so, so much.
I know a lot of you guys can relate when I say I'm a total goal-getter. From this day on, I am promising that the goals I set will be more balanced, intentional, and from my Truth instead of what I feel like I SHOULD be doing.
I am in the beginning stages of building my business (Vitality), money can get tight at times since all of my resources pretty much go right back into it. Since I left my paying job to go to coach training school and start working for myself, my dad has been saying "SHOW ME THE MONEY". Which is a perfectly normal response for him because money = worth in his world. For him, production = worthiness. As a result, I learned this behavior and began applying it to my own life at a young age. This got me thinking…
Before it was “SHOW ME THE MONEY” it was “SHOW ME YOU CAN DO WELL IN SCHOOL”, “SHOW ME YOU CAN LOOK YOUR BEST ALWAYS”, “SHOW ME YOU’RE AN ATHLETE”, “SHOW ME YOU CAN LOSE WEIGHT”, and “SHOW ME YOU CAN QUIT SMOKING”. The “SHOW ME YOUR WORTH” never stopped and I constantly felt like I had to be producing or doing something in order to be something to be proud of. It wasn’t long before I didn’t even need my dad to have these expectations for me; I began expecting them of myself. Then I had to live up to my own “SHOW ME YOUR WORTH” expectations as well as his. (In all fairness, my dad has invested lots and lots of money on my education and growth as a human being. He just wants to see me do well by his definition of the word).
This idea that you have to do or produce something in order to feel good about yourself wasn’t invented by my dad or by my grandparents. It’s a belief that permeates society today. In fact, up until not too long ago, it was true in my world as well. Naturally, you inherit your beliefs from your parents who inherit them from theirs. That is, unless you CHOOSE to consciously change them.
I consciously made that choice and am in the process of transitioning completely from a human doing to a human being. Life is getting more and more about the present moment and less about what I can accomplish in a specific period of time. It truly is amazing. I see my world much differently than I did just a few months ago, and I see myself much differently as a result.
Now, I am worthy and so is everyone else. Period. The end. In my world, I'm extremely successful because I am fulfilling my purpose on this planet and in the process of learning MY SELF-WORTH, which I never had growing up. Success truly lies in your current perception. Old me would be disappointed that I haven't gotten off these last few pounds or that I gained a few back over the holidays. Old me would have ignored how successful I have been with my health goals and how far I've come. Old me would be disappointed because my outward appearance isn't "perfect": my legs are too fat, I have no butt, and I have a gap in between my two front teeth. Old me would have not been happy with where I am at with my progress in every area of my life. Because, as a perfectionist, no goal you reach is ever good enough. You can ALWAYS be doing more.
New me knows that an outward appearance doesn't change how worthy I am. New me knows that people are ultimately much more interested in how you make them FEEL than how you look. New me also knows that I am not defined by my outward appearance, what I do and do not accomplish in a given period of time, and what others think of me. Old me hates herself because she isn't doing enough/living up to her full potential. New me knows that I am doing exactly what I should be in this moment and that everything is a lesson to be learned. New me loves the old me, because old me taught new me so many lessons. Lessons that are the catalyst of my programs and work to help others who are struggling with the same things. These are the lessons that enable me to live a life that incorporates my passion of helping people change their lives and their perspective. These lessons have helped me create a life beyond my wildest dreams.
I learned this when I graduated college with two majors in three and a half years and decided to give up smoking cigarettes to feel accomplished instead. I learned it again after I quit smoking for awhile and started losing weight. After 50 pounds lost, losing weight wasn't good enough, I could be doing more. I learned this yet again when I started my own business (after I was around my goal weight) and was working 80 hour weeks. Producing and helping tons of people, but stressed through the roof. I crashed in October, I just couldn't keep up, I was exhausted and burnt out.
I was in a rut; a painful, painful rut. One that wasn't as bad as the previous ones, but one that included the realization of the truth: my whole life I was using outside sources to create happiness. I didn't think I was worthy unless I was producing something great. And I do produce great things. Over and over and over again. But it was never good enough. That's why I'm really not just kidding when I say I'm a "recovering" perfectionist. Around November, I realized these distractions, no matter how great they are and who they help, were always going to be temporary solutions to a greater problem: self-acceptance and self-Love. Realizing that I am worthy no matter what I am producing or what I do for others. I am not perfect, but I am me. No one else can say that (same goes for you)!!
I’ve finally learned life isn't about what you do or do not produce. Or what you do or do not make monetarily. Or how you look. Or how fast you are able to lose weight. Or even in what you do for others. Life is about taking time to breathe, finding yourself, finding your Truth, finding your passion, and applying that passion to your life every day.
You have ALWAYS been worthy, worthiness has been with you the second you were conceived. Give yourself permission to feel worthy NOW, not once you reach some goal. If you want a little help with this/are finding it hard, embrace your passion. This is what attracts happiness into your life and is the key to changing the world in your own special way. No matter what that passion is and what anyone thinks of it, it’s yours. Quit living a life of shoulds and should-nots and begin to embrace your Truth.
I'm fully capable of becoming a workaholic and doing great things, that's just a fact (haha-I'm being semi-sarcastic). All joking aside, the side of Lauren that’s a workaholic/perfectionist has served her in a lot of ways. It IS the reason why I graduated college in three and a half years with two majors and Honors while still managing an EXTREMELY busy social life where I was going out 2-5 nights a week. It's why I changed my life in such a short period of time (I spent so much time focusing on my goals and without knowing it at the time, retraining my subconscious mind). It's why I quit smoking after 6 1/2 years (2 years smoke-free anniversary is coming up this month!)
I spend entirely too much on this gosh darn computer (hehe). And two, I am not in the moment nearly as much as I should be. I am always planning, planning, planning for the future. This is great, it has really served me! But I want to spend some more time in silence and with myself/my thoughts. That's when I learn the most about myself and how I can help others. That's when the SUPER fabulous phenomenal ideas come!
February is going to be a month of cleansing and clearing. Spending lots of time alone :) and reflecting on my TRUTH of taking care of myself and changing the world with my passion. Mark my words, I'm ditching my SHOULD list for good. :)
Remember, ALL of my struggles are exactly what put me where I am today. If I hadn't gone through so much pain to learn these lessons, I wouldn't be aware that a life like this was even possible. I wouldn't be able to coach some of the most fantastic women on this planet, I wouldn't Love myself like I do, and I wouldn't be genuinely appreciative of all I do have. Keep that in mind when you are struggling :) It's the struggles that change your life and mold you into the person you WANT to be...not who you feel like you SHOULD be. All of this has ultimately brought me to my life purpose of teaching others what I learned, shaving their learning curve, so they can change the world in THEIR own way :).
Here's to practicing being a human being, rather than a human doing :)
Can you relate?
From Cali :)
Affirmation card that kept coming up --> "Bring your mind into present-moment time. Now is the only place to be."
Find me on Facebook :) I have a free weight loss kit over there and tons of support from our little Vitality friends :) www.facebook.com/laurenelizabethward
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