Monday, February 29, 2016

Do what you can

On today's run, I struggled.

I took a walk break only 5 minutes out, because it was just too hard. I decided to run 5/walk 2, even though I should be able to do more - but okay, maybe not, not after the weeks I've had. I guess I can adjust my expectations for today.

After two rounds of 5/2, I didn't even want to run 5 minutes, so I readjusted, again. I dialed it WAAAY back, running just 1 minute, then walking 1 minute, and repeat. That was so much easier on the brain - I only had to run for 1 little minute, not enough time for it to get tough.

For a couple stretches I let myself be disappointed. The internal dialogue point out that I have run marathons, and 50Ks, and I've even won a 5K & a 10K, and yet today I literally can't even run ONE kilometer without a walk break?

Man, don't I suck.

But no, eventually I was able to argue: I don't suck. None of ^that^ is relevant to today, 2 months into tax season after barely running for three months, the day after learning one of my bestest friends is moving across the country, after a solid month spent fighting the depths of depression.

In light of those facts...I kicked ass today, merely by going out and doing something.

I thought of a quote that I love, and often use on myself and on other people:

And I added some extra thoughts as I walked along:

Start where you are.
Start where you are RIGHT THIS MOMENT. Not where you were 5 years ago, 1 year ago, last week, not even this morning. Just now.

Use what you have.
Not what you once had. Not what you think you need. Not what you desperately want.

Do what you can.
Only that, and no more. Maybe less.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Being Big - And Loving It

I aspire to have this mentality. Erin Brown is my idol. I recently acquired her book and can't wait to dive in.
Since I let go of my own damaging self-talk, I have found so many things to love and celebrate about my body at every size. But here is what I enjoy about being big:
It feels rebellious.
Having spent so much time and energy in the past beating myself up for being big, loving my bigness feels like a revolution. There are so many ways women are asked to be small, that being proud of being “big” feels wonderfully radical. It’s a tiny victory in a lifetime of feeling shame over my size.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rewards: Dangerous Territory

As a general rule, intrinsic motivation > extrinsic motivation.

If the outcome of your goal (say, exercise three times a week consistently) is the prize itself (you've made exercise a habit, woo hoo!), you will be more likely to succeed rather than setting a reward for its achievement, which creates a mental "finish line" which begs the what?

This post talks about the same thing in terms of food-as-reward - it's a quick read, go enjoy:

The difference between allowing an indulgence and deserving one suggests an element of worthiness unbecoming of eating a simple danish. When we give a simple treat reward value, we exalt it to a level that allows for a fair amount of control over how we behave. And even worse, our misguided importance of said indulgence may sometimes give us license to use it as a means of self-sabotage.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Eating Disorders: Awareness is Step One

February 21 - 27 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Here are two points of fact I read on the website that chilled me to the bone and made me tear up and also made me want to scream in rage:
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder and 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life.
  • With treatment, 60% of eating disorder sufferers will make a full recovery.
What in the WHAT now?

Highest mortality rate of any mental disorder? Worse than depression?! That surprised me, and yet I realized the very symptoms of an ED can kill the sufferer, without intervention. Denied nutrition, how could the body survive?

And while they are proud of the 60% who can recover, I'm over here screaming that ONLY 60% make a full recovery? That means the other 40% spend the rest of their life battling issues with eating, something that is necessary for their daily survival - unlike someone battling alcohol or drugs, where pure abstinence is an option (and often a more effective one than moderation).

That breaks my heart.

So if you are even remotely diet-focused, please, click this link; it is a short, simple, FREE screening of indicators for eating disorders:

I took it and rated as low risk, but I can clearly, sadly, see that 5 years ago, I would have answered MUCH differently, and I wonder (often) how it might have helped me, if only I'd known what I was fighting.

Take it. Seek help and investigate a diagnosis if you have even the slightest concerns about your mental health and/or eating habits.

The help you receive may just save your precious, priceless life.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Shut Up, You're Amazing

Stefani is one of my favorites. She's smart, and she's real, and she's helpful. What more could you possibly need?
I know who and what I am. I know my limitations. I know many of my weak spots. I know that I have many weak spots that I don’t even know about. Those things existing do not in any sense take away from who I am. They are a part of me. They are a part of this girl who has grown up and developed in all these complex ways, who has a terrible temper she inherited from her father, who is impatient and feisty and so obnoxiously rebellious. My weaknesses are a part of the whole package of me. I know who that package is. I accept it. I try to make it better.
But I am what I am… and why not let it be awesome?

She is like my internal voice on my good days, which I've had less of lately - and I sure do miss feeling good about myself. When I'm down I can't focus on my awesomeness; it's monumentally hard to just get through the day without bawling.

But when I'm me, when I'm normal, when my hormones and neurons are doing what they're supposed to... then I do like myself, and I have fun being me, and I do the sort of stuff she writes about in this post, and I can tell you that it WORKS.

Honestly, Stefani is one of the reasons I'm able to have more good days than bad. Go read, you amazing badass.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

That Voice In Your Head

Do Negative Body Thoughts Rule Your Life?

Or is it just me?

It can't be just me.

Read this, and then read all her other stuff, too:

Monday, February 15, 2016

What NOT to Eat

5 things NOT to eat when trying to get LEAN

This is from one of my real-life friends, and it's GOLD:
I use to be that person who would try to follow someone else’s meal plan. I would crush it the first 2 days and then slowly dwindle with my compliance. I’d grow madder and madder as the days of me failing the “diet” far outnumbered the days I crushed it.
Instead of thinking, “hey, this just isn’t for me.” I’d be determined to make it work.
The thing is…. It won’t.

Enjoy my girl:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Violence In Daily Life

I don't even know what to say about this.

Maybe simply "It hit home and I recalled too many similar stories in my own life, and maybe you will, too. And maybe we should all talk about it even though it's uncomfortable and might be painful."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

You Are The Sun

Consider the sun.

It doesn't change. EVAH. It's the exact same, day in & day out.

For millennia.

But the Earth changes, and it shifts our perspective of the sun rather dramatically.

In our little blip of a life, we see so many gorgeous sunrises, so many bright warm noontimes, and sigh over brilliant sunsets.

Same sun. Same position. No change.

Its changing beauty lies COMPLETELY in our own perspective, and we appreciate it always.

What if you are the sun?

Who thinks you gorgeous at 6am? Loves your loud laughter at lunch? Sighs over your perfect bear hugs in the evening?

Your loved ones do.

And they adore you regardless of how you change, or don't change.

They will be quite happy if you never change.

In their eyes, you have always been the epitome of perfection, from every angle.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

6 weeks to a better, smaller, happier YOU!

Short-term transformations (lose 10 lbs in 30 days! 6 weeks to toned abs!) are a big thing, a big deal, a big addiction - and usually a big problem, in my mind.

I find it very difficult to support them, unless they are undertaken as a great way to build healthy habits, such as cooking more healthily, regularly exercising in a fun way, things that legitimately focus on HEALTH. And these do exist, usually within communities that are supportive and encouraging - if you find this, DO IT! It might change your life.

But such a healthy-habit focus is the rare exception, in my experience. These short-term efforts usually focus on appearance, because it's hard to measure changes in overall health in 6 weeks, or celebrate something as unsexy as 30 days of habit-building - but it's very easy to measure pounds & inches.

And that's what the consumer wants anyway.

So, the 30 days or 6 weeks are about the quick fix: drastic changes that can only ever be temporary...and you are then supposed to go back to your normal life, but svelter, and OBVIOUSLY happier.

The problem is, you may not be able to. You may think that the way you lived those six grueling weeks should be the way you live your everyday life. So you try to keep it up, but eventually you fail. Then you may give up on health & fitness altogether, or you may have simply completely fucked up your hormones, or developed an eating disorder. You most likely will regain the exact same weight you lost, maybe more.

It happened to me. I learned that those six weeks have great power to Fuck. You. Up.

This guy writes about his 6-pack #absperiment: And what he learned, this right here, is absolutely PROFOUND, and yet you won't realize this until after you, too, have fucked yourself up:
You don’t need six-pack abs to be happy. And sometimes getting them can make you less happy than when you started.

YES. Except "sometimes" should be "99.99% of the time." And "less happy" should be "infinitely more miserable."

Honestly, I wish he had written more extensively about the impact on his mind, rather than keeping it short & sweet, because it's basically everything I've gone through since 2010. And I'm STILL not over it, nearly 6 years later.

Some days I get close, and much more frequently than before, but the evil voice, she always manages to get back in, and whisper her hateful chorus: "you're fat, you're getting fatter, eat less, try fasting again, go low carb, cycle carbs, you're gross, look at your belly, look at that cellulite, god, what are you doing, you're always going to be fat, you worthless piece of shit."

And this horrendously evil cunty internal voice wasn't in my head before the 6-week body-fat beatdown that made me equate my value with my appearance. Before, I was unhappy with my appearance, but it didn't define me. I felt strong and healthy and I was having fun with fitness, though I disliked my belly...and I wish to every imagined god that I had been content with that right there.

Because as I lost fat, I gained compliments left and right, and I loved them, soaked them up, put myself in a position to hear them again & again...and I began to believe that it was vital I be small & pretty, that it fucking MATTERED. So once I had fucked up my hormones, metabolism, whatever the science would call it, and gained weight despite giving all of my effort to undereating and overexercising, I became unworthy of compliments, I became unworthy of love, especially from my own damn self.

I am coming up on the 6-year anniversary of my 6 weeks, and the best way I could celebrate it would be to stop others, YOU, from doing this. I want you to learn from the mistakes of the rest of us. I do not want you, or anyone, to feel the way I felt...feel. Because it is no way to live your life. It's perfectly awful.

Sure, there's no guarantee this will happen to you. Some people spend 6 weeks on an annual or semi-annual basis targeting their body fat, and then go back to normal life, and don't spiral into long-term obsessions and eating disorders.

But...those people probably aren't scouring the internet for topics like this. They don't rush from link to link, trying to find the secret to the happy life a smaller body will give them, if they could just GET IT.

So, let me pull back from all that rambling about my messy life, that I can't tie up in a bow (some day, I hope), and simply beg you: use caution.

Short-term transformations aren't inherently bad, but they are dangerous territory.

Why not craft your own challenge instead?

Seek sustainable life changes during the next month. Add a healthy habit like replacing soda with water, toaster pastries with eggs, or takeout pizza with homemade. Instead of watching that crappy TV show every Wednesday night, join your SO for a walk through the neighborhood. Instead of sitting on the bleachers during your son's soccer game, make laps around the track.

Skip the beat-you-to-a-pulp cardio-based fitness classes that leave you feeling like a fat heaving cow compared to the tiny perky instructor, and invest in a good personal trainer who can teach you how to lift. Join a softball league and quit your dart league.

Do a Whole30, not for weight loss (ever), but to learn exactly how your body responds to different foods (and then make a planned, careful, slow reintroduction phase, not a simple return to "before").

Or, focus on the mental, and spend 6 weeks working on loving your body for what it is, what it has done, what it can do. Because it's damned amazing, no matter what it looks like.

Little things like this are unsexy, but oh, my friend, the changes you will experience will be lifelong, and so much more beneficial than shaming yourself into pursuing a tinier version of you. You are capable of so much more than looking pretty & thin. You are not an ornament.

When you're 90, and looking back on your life...what will you be most proud of?

It won't be losing 10 pounds in a month, and it definitely won't be giving yourself an eating disorder.

You will be VERY proud of having built a healthy life, which gave you many quality years of enjoyment.

So do that.

More of that.

ALL of that.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

What Happens When You Fail?

A topic with which I am intimately familiar: avoiding failure.
I tend to bail when things get hard, unfamiliar, mentally challenging.   I like to stick with what I know, what I’m comfortable with, where my skills lie.  Because, you see, I simply do not fail at things.  Really, I don’t.  I never have.  School, my business career, starting our own venture, my personal development challenges… I do not fail.  And to be certain of that, I have learned simply to avoid things at which I have a chance of failure.  It’s a brilliant, fool-proof system.  I take on things I know I can do well, and skip over everything I’m not sure about.  My track record is spotless, of course.  (I did say it was a brilliant system.)
Read more from Melissa:

As an adult, I've learned the hard way that if you never risk failure, then when you DO fail (and you will, because you do not control the world, sorry), you will have abso-fucking-lutely no idea how to handle it. I've been there. I have failed as an adult, received outcomes I couldn't control despite my perfect inputs, and I didn't manage those failures well at all. They took giant tolls on my brain, and years to recover. (Assuming, of course, I do in process.)

And I think I could have better learned to handle failure if I had EVER attempted things at which I could fail as a child, when the risks/rewards/payoffs were all quite low. I desperately want to tell parents: STOP protecting your children from failure. Let them fail. In fact, MAKE SURE they fail. Then teach them how to handle failures with grace, learn from them, detach their identity from the outcome, and move on.

Sports seem like a great way to achieve those lessons: their team(s) will never have a perfect record, so there will be utter defeats, crushing disappointments, last-place finishes despite their best efforts...all of which will help you to teach them the only thing that matters, the last part: they gave their best efforts. The effort given is worth celebrating and reinforcing, despite the outcome. If they failed, but gave their best effort, they are not failures.

If you fail, but give your best effort, you are not a failure.

If you fail, you are not a failure.

You are not a failure.

Give your best effort, and celebrate it.

What's the worst that could happen if you faced your fear?
Well, the best thing that could happen is that you could conquer your fear. You could accomplish what you thought you couldn't accomplish. You could become wildly happy and successful.
And you could like it.
Imagine how good you would feel to be free of burden. To feel strong and capable.
Now, is your answer to the first question going to keep you from all that?
-Stephen Covey

Friday, February 5, 2016

Use Comparison to Your Advantage

It's possible to benefit from constant of my favorites, Rog Law, explains:

Ultimately, comparison can serve as a spark for asking better questions:
  • What do I admire about what they do and how they do it?
  • What lessons can I learn about myself?
  • What virtues do they display that I can personally improve upon?
  • What inspiration/mojo can I glean from their feats that I can take back to my own unique practice?

So much more genius in his post:

And I mean, have you followed him on Face Place or TweetBook yet? Strap yourself in for some serious fun!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What Will You Do Today?

Thoughts on self-talk, comparison, the destination vs the journey...again.

I keep sharing posts like this that seem to harp on the same thing, because I need constant reminders, and different people saying it in different ways, and I suspect you probably do, too.

It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re in the middle of an exercise program, the middle of a Whole30®, the middle of changing your life. There are always comparisons to be made – to others around you, to those in magazines or on TV… even to your past self. And the “used to,” the “could have,” the “should be able to” is the fastest way to destroy your self-esteem, halt your progress, and keep you focused on things that aren’t real. Holding yourself up to some societal ideal is damaging, but so is holding yourself up to some imaginary version of you – one who’s faster, stronger, leaner, or younger.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Shoddy Science

This is a great read on why nutrition studies seem like such a constant mess of contradiction.

Honestly, I just don't think you can go wrong by doing a Whole30 to really understand how your body is reacting to your intake, then slowly reintroduce foods one at a time, to create an eating plan that works for YOU to operate your best. Be your own science experiment.