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Month: April 2015

Signs and Sounds of Silence

It was just about this time last year when I was rocking my highest weight, feeling miserable while spring had sprung, and my writing sat paralyzed like a distant memory unable to be retrieved, incapable of presence nor driven to extend a word to paper. I resigned myself to awareness that any inner message would be a sign for change and any encounter relinquish the old into the new. My eyes wide open, I acquired increased sensory to see what I had not seen, hear what I had not heard, and touch an essence not felt where connection had been lost. Reaching for direction, solutions, and guidance, I wanted solace, healing, and energy to pull myself from the swamp I found myself drowning in.

Later that day, a woman I miraculously met introduced me to her success and the community that brought her there. Although my entrance into her arena occurred two months later, I waited patiently with faith and hope that her avenue was my avenue. A year later, I look back smiling at ‘bumping into her.’ My destiny sealed for transformation and healing, I have answered the call for change that rang that fateful day. Now I look for signals again, having reached a new pinnacle. Although no longer depressed, I sense a stagnation occurring, not simply with weight, but with direction in several areas of my life that feel closed from opportunity. Searching for an opening, I seek answers and signs again.

Today dawns new beginnings my senses tell me. Can you find your own signs of guidance around you? Have you listened for the whispers of wisdom that seem to float in the wind? When is your awakening for change? Is it now, if you listen to the sounds of silence, the signs of rain that fall before you? What are the signs that pass through and around you each day attempting to stir within your soul? Which questions will you ask and answers will you find? Only a heartbeat away, it is ours for the taking, ours for the listening, ours for the guidance we seek encouraging our paths to journey to purpose and well being.

Just When You Think You’ve Got It

“I’ve got it. I’ve got it. I’ve got it. I don’t got it,” says a character in the Albert Brooks film, High Anxiety, dropping the trunk to the ground, then repeating the comical sequence. Just when I think I have a handle on how to work my lifestyle successfully, I drop the giant trunk to a symphony of, “I don’t got it.” Today was one of those days. I stayed within my normal array of foods, but felt a lack of control, a sense of urgency to eat considerably more, a desire to relieve a discomfort that my old psyche believed food could alleviate. Physically distressed by a minor surgical procedure, I circled around the discomfort searching for any alternative. Food came to the rescue like an emergency vehicle ringing its sirens, racing to my aid and expecting to save me from demise.

Although food comforts me with immediate gratification and distraction, it fuels the fire rather than douses the flames. Food battles the hurt, aims to distract the pain, but eventually causes greater emotional distress. By observing my behavior post-excessive eating, I notice the pain still exists with additional emotions awaiting their turn to be felt. My disappointment, anxiety, and bloatedness, additional ailments, plague me, while still in search of physical and now, mental relief. The ruckus from eating one’s discomfort snowballs into a morphed mess. Even with the knowledge, experience, and recognition of these steps in play while they occur, I drop the trunk anyway, waylaying into the turmoil I know well and have often overcome. “I got it. I got it. I got it. I don’t got it.”

Part of the process is to dust yourself off and rally after damage is done, rather than finishing off an ice cream sundae. Stopping the cycle in its tracks with awareness is true victory. Imperative to recognize one’s imperfection, repeal the past, and move along formidably, is to note the lessons for future action. Phone a friend, ask the audience, give yourself a 50:50 chance, or leave well enough alone by walking away with past success; find new ground to begin again immediately. No one needs to push limits when a minute later a new choice may be made. Instead learn from mistakes and make new decisions setting present and future victory into motion. Sometimes you got it, sometimes you don’t. Today, “I got it. I got it. I got it. I don’t got it.” The journey continues with “I got it” until “I don’t got it” again.

An Evolving Why

My initial reasons behind a new, healthy lifestyle were inner healing and becoming comfortable in my skin as a metaphor for feeling emotionally balanced and whole. Achieving that balance allows me to enjoy life more, feel more resilient, receive more of what I want, and have energy to help others. Healing from the broken shards that used to lay in my path has been my ultimate non-scale victory. Yet as the progression of my journey continues, the reasons evolve.

I now walk into a building, capturing my reflection in the glass, feeling pride for the body I maintain. This summer takes on new meaning when I don a bathing suit for the first time comfortable in the body that resides within it. Walking proudly, full of energy and strength, is my new day dawning. Yet what keeps me going, what is the “why” now that my arena has transformed and the game has changed. What propels me to keep the focus, the consistent process of small steps leading to progression and long term success and maintenance?

My new “why” is about longevity. Playing catch with my son today, the answers of my “why” reached out with each throw, watching my little one excited by life, by baseball, by simplicity. I want that joy to sprout in me as it does in him. Without my health, that happiness is as good as gone. Living a long, meaningful life with my children and husband is my “why”. My parents were twenty-five years older than me, whereas I am 35-40 years older than my kids. This fact cannot be denied as much as I may defy age. To remain fit and fab, young and energetic, I must repeat the process of my current journey consistently over a lifetime.

To utilize motivation for any goal is a powerful piece of success. Feeling the urge to step off the rails from a food lifestyle when barraged by obstacles, rather than stay the course is typical. Where the food supply consists mainly of processed, chemical-laden edibles, and dairy, sugar, and bread are commodities, it feels often like working against a tide. Yet moving against the grain that brings health, happiness, and well being are worth the efforts to establish longevity, inner peace, and healing. My reasons for maintaining consistent action are evolving, yet results are the same. Contemplating this change is part of the journey.

Goodbye My Sweets

“Wait! Come back! I forgot to say goodbye!” I screamed, as my Subaru sped down the street. Feeling the painful emotions from the last glimmer of my silver Subaru vanishing forever, I cried relentlessly, attempting to relieve the grief I felt for its loss. Wondering if I forgot anything inside it, how I would ever retrieve it if I remembered? What little memory did I leave for someone else to discover? Did I really want to send it away? Had I regretted the decision to depart from the Forester as it began to move out of my driveway? Did I need to check the seat cushions again, glove compartments and nooks and crannies to ensure something of mine was not forgotten? Although I had checked it twice, why a feeling that something was missing, and somehow I was unable to find it in the confines of the vehicle?

I awoke suddenly, feeling the sadness for a vehicle I had not owned in a decade. Yet the sadness was familiar, like a great ache of nostalgia, wanting back a mechanism that brought joy to my life. As I lay in bed thinking of the “Silver Rocket,” the name I penned my car back in the day, visions of missed items formed in my memory, a book I wrote and illustrated in elementary school my mom had thrown away. Having worked incredibly hard writing and coloring it, my devastation of that loss was great. A pink, musical, stuffed bunny that was swept away in the sheets at Disney World was lost forever with the cleaning service. Yet it marked the final birthday present my Uncle Louie had given me before he passed away causing tears to drown me in sorrow for years. As these memories dissipated, a conversation chimed in my head from a few weeks prior.

“Do you miss the food, the ones you gave up?” A friend had inquired, wondering how the elimination of gluten, simple sugars, and most dairy was possible for any extended period of time. I recall thinking it was not much of a sacrifice when the rewards were extraordinary: weight loss, energy, joy for life, feeling comfortable in my skin and worthy of respecting my body while having a new love of life that had greater value than any food. Yet now as I awaken, I feel an intense sadness, as if forgetting to say goodbye to something I valued with great affection and incredibly grief stricken about its departure and loss.

Freshman year college in Washington, DC, feeling alone in need of comfort, I walked to Georgetown to a little popcorn store that sold caramel covered popcorn in a variety of flavors. Grabbing a gigantic bag, I pranced to the Circle Theater, an old cinema that repeatedly cycled through a double feature of classic, foreign, and old films all day long. Tickets were two dollars per double feature. Memories of Jules and Jim, 8 1/2, Casablanca, La Vida Loca, and La Belle est Beast reel through my mind now. With sweet and salty popcorn, comforted by the escape into the world of film and numbed by the food, loneliness scattered as the reel spun and circumvented my pain, sadness leapfrogged into pure contentment from the big screen of black and white. This was my heaven, living on a the edge of reality, jumping into escapism regularly.

Meringue has also served a similar purpose. Eating tubs of these sweet delights until exhaustion set in, or my tongue grew sore from excessive straight shots of sugar, the crash of my blood sugar level drove me into a deep sleep, preventing any feelings from reaching the surface. Thoughts of insecurity and a depressed state of being vanished with each bite of meringue goodness. My apartment in Boston sat across from a CVS Pharmacy where a sixteen-ounce Hershey Bar and a large bag of Lays potato chips had my name on them often. Like the meringues, these items served the same purpose as several trips to the bakery for elephant-ear cookies. To denounce the feelings was one avenue like fighting a tide, but hiding purely behind the food, weight, and numbness were supreme allies in direct combat of feeling emotions, especially the painful ones.

Although lack of self worth was the underlying predicament resulting in bingeing behavior, sadness, loneliness, and depression solidified not surrendering unhealthy foods. As numbing agents of painful emotions of my past, feeling unloved, unaccomplished, un of any sort, brought more misery as the weight piled on, and my self image deteriorated. Guilt and shame were also connected to food as early as age eleven. Hearing my mother say, “Who’s in the cookie jar,” as the lid crept onto its closure, making an inkling of a noise that she could hear no matter how small or far she sat away from the container. The hidden empty wrappers, she found in my bedroom as if hoarding food in shame were a better avenue.

These foods for numbing emotional pain had acted as allies and pillars in earlier days. They served as foot soldiers against what I deemed unsurvivable emotions that needed a ‘catcher in the rye’, my inability to function without their defense. My anger, disappointment, and sadness as a child needed respite from their existence; food worked overtime. Yet as the years progressed, food’s due diligence caused more injury than relief. The weight crept up, my energy waned, and self esteem plummeted from an additional stabbing with each blown diet. I wanted relief, yet my methods became fatal and destructive; deeper into depression I fell.

When my recent journey began, a commitment to feeling emotions fully, and respecting my body with food as fuel, the old foods that served me well in earlier years had lost their value. They served a purpose at a time when I needed them. There is a nostalgia and gratitude for these edible goodies that helped me hide from the grave pain that felt unsurvivable. Had I ever given them merit, spoken my peace about how much they helped in moments too painful to feel, too hurtful to embrace, that I now may look upon their former value as a gift given out of love rather than destruction? Today food serves a different function, yet acknowledging my past and the foods that sweetened and spiced up my life feels necessary for closure and releasing their foothold and connection.

“It is time to let you go, my sweets. But wait! I forgot to say goodbye and thank you for being a friend when I needed you most.”

Stories We Tell Ourselves

Exercise avenues and lifestyle food plans are experienced differently per person. “Your memories are different than mine. You experienced things differently than I did,” my sister retorts when I excavate a memory from our childhood. Our life experiences are diverse messages, reactions, and interpretations of what is seen, heard, and felt. Whatever thoughts, emotions, and energy that wave through experiences, the stories have lasting effects upon us, uniquely interpreted by each individual. Like growing up in the same household, each experience that resonates for one may not for another. Within each food and exercise lifestyle analysis from varying viewpoints tell a different story.

Last week I met a woman who quit the successful, exercise/food plan I follow. She said her dislike for the program’s leader contributed to quitting, that the plan was extremely challenging, and caused her great anxiety. Though I recognized immediately her interpretation was different than mine, I agreed that trusting a process is scary enough, as most of us have attempted many plans prior. My memory meeting the program’s leader was similar, distrusting her blatant lashing out for those who questioned her opinions and her harshness that lacked supportive emotion. Yet with time, I grew to appreciate her tough-love ways and her tried and truly tested program. This woman and I told ourselves different stories while interpreting same scenarios. We started in the same seat, and ended in opposite corners of the spectrum.

Our lives are a smorgasbord of experiences which impact differently by interpretation. Through our analytical stream, we pick and choose our conclusions. What works for one will not work for another. Finding the best fit for ourselves is the goal. Using our knowledge, intuition, and response to outcomes, we decide best course avenues to reach our destiny. Listening to the success of another will not necessarily be the path one chooses. The stories we tell ourselves convolute, disrupt our senses, cause anxiety, or flow beautifully onto a path we have been searching. Whatever our journey, choosing the right road is one of telling ourselves a story that illustrates the ups and downs into a fulfilled destiny of success.

Success – Why Me?

People ask me, “what’s different this time?” Successful weight loss, exercise, and maintaining a new lifestyle, why is this time working for me? I eat clean, attend boot camps, and journal my food into MFP. When I have questions or to support others, I inquire and respond on a private Facebook group page. It is not that I have greater willpower than another. My food choices prevents blood sugar levels from spiking, making it physically easier to maintain an equilibrium, preventing cravings and overeating unhealthy choices. Yet other than that there is no holy grail for what I have done thus far and what I will continue to do. What I have learned is that doing the little things consistently over time is what makes me successful. Continuing to do these small action items is what will contribute to maintaining that success. Nothing more and nothing less is needed for explanation.

Yet time will change, life events will affect my behavior through choices within and outside of my control. Yes, maybe for a day, or two, or three, or a week or month, yet when I return to these small, simple action steps that have made me successful, my path of success continues. Doing these small tasks consistently is the path different from others. As easy as it is to complete these small, simple steps, it is just as easy not to do these small, simple steps. In Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge, this is his philosophy about successful people. Having this slight edge over time establishes long term success. Time enforces advancement along a spectrum where success shows minut, barely visible progress in the short term, yet compounded over time is noteworthy. Doing the little things consistently over time builds momentum, until suddenly success appears and its continuation maintains it.

When you know this truth to be self evident, you simply do what must be done, day in and day out. No excuses, no retorte for its difficulty, and no perfection in the process. Like Yoda’s philosophy, “Do or don’t do. There is no try.” Changing your mindset to fit the stream of steady and slow wins the race is necessary. In a world of big breaks, magic pills, and instantaneous gratification oozing from all corners of our culture, to live moment by moment doing the small things is transformative. That altered state of being pays tremendous dividends with a long term payoff. Success is anyone’s for the making with small, simple steps leading the path. No need to see the end, following one action into the next gets you to the finish line. With this knowing, success comes to fruition with rewards often greater than expected. My transformation from repeated failure for decades to successful path is proof of concept. Success, why me? Success, why not you, too?

Dominoes of Awareness

Ever notice the woman whose hair part is zig-zagging, pantyline is showing, and clothes are wrinkled? Not well kept, yet raised to know how, I was that woman. — the one who appeared to have “bed head” and didn’t seem to care, threw on the ruffled and wrinkled wear, ignoring the fashion police. Yet as the weight starts to drop, viewing my body on closer examination naturally seems to occur. What is this beauty mark, that old scar, and this bump and lump? Aware of what once seemed invisible suddenly has come into view. Although always there, noticing as if suddenly illuminated and spotlighted, I tune into caring about my body respectfully.

Visiting the dermatologist to examine every freckle, growth, and mark, I wade through troubled waters expecting skin cancer diagnoses. Saved only by arriving early enough in life, I feel lucky as each review from a lab comes back negative. Removal of skin markings, cysts, and zappings with cryogenic force and surgeries, my healing continues, like dominoes falling into place, toppling from one to the next, applying care to each nook and cranny. My head feels like a weight descends upon it as a surgical removal of an enormous pilar cyst gouged out a section of my scalp. Yet the weight, pain, and gravity will lessen with healing, prepared by a dimension of loss I know well.

A variety of victories exist within weight loss. Releasing the figurative bumps and lumps is a domino effect of noticing. Without the awareness those growths transfixed to my body remained invisible in years prior. Not that I did not know better about practicing self-care, but my priority in noticing was elsewhere, blinded by other avenues unable to see my reality. Weight loss continues to establish greater awareness, sensitizing the physical climate of my body. Every line and crevice viewed with respect and appreciation add depth to the winning dimension of losing weight. Dressing it with self-care follows. The domino effect of losing weight contains big wins for well being. Let the dominoes fall where they may!

Paving the Weigh for You

Life is a journey. Since age eleven weight loss management occupied my path due to lack of self worth, using food to numb emotions, and cultural food consumption when celebrating holidays and honors, as well as band-aiding physical pain. Life passages with weight loss via a variety of stages as aging, lifestyle changes, tainted food supply, and a lack of knowledge, infers my journey aware of my pounds and how the scale falls existed long before other’s. Paving the weight loss path with tools, reflections, and solutions supports travelers upon the same journey, an avenue I wish I had visited and discovered sooner.

Losing weight is considerably more than eliminating food, adding exercise, and consuming healthy food. The emotional component taxes the heart and brain, hoping to excavate the hurt awakened by change. Without an outlet of support the “why” of the weight buries itself within, ignoring the core problem. Although millions lose weight repeatedly, without emotional resolution, the physical component slides back to its original self and often adds extra cushion for good measure. The body’s response to processed foods, sugar, and the tainted food supply contribute to the appearance of lacking self control.

Combine the unhealed, emotional brokenness, and the physical, inward response of a body’s chemistry, the chance of weight loss management success reduces. Exposing the pieces to healing the mind, body, and spirit along the avenue of weight loss change are imperative components. Ignoring one piece prevents the puzzle from completion. If hiding pieces of oneself, unwilling to address a physical issue as a food sensitivity or possible tangible saboteurs, or neglecting emotional baggage weight, the solution of the puzzle is left with holes, destroying the masterpiece eventually. Filling in these healing pieces solidifies successful completion.

A foolhardy method to ignore any pieces, as it destroys one’s success over time. Shards of brokenness physically and mentally cut deeper with each attempt at solutions. Weighed down by trying repeatedly prevents future efforts, resigning that solutions either do not exist, are too difficult or made for others. Repealing into weakness slows the journey until surrendering to rest midway along the weight loss path becomes permanent. Weight typically returns, followed by additional complications as disease or ailments that affect optimal living. Emotional pieces lay dormant, possibly preventing exposure or reexamination forever.

My assessments within this book explain a path that jars stagnation, paving the “weigh” to successful weight loss permanence. Not without effort, struggle, or perseverance, it exhorts the opposite. Embracing the hard, illuminating the deep recesses of our pasts, and digging beneath the surface for healing and solutions, successful weight management are reachable long after the pounds release. Physically respecting the body with healthy food options clears the “weigh” for completion of emotional healing. Take that first step along the path and allow me to Pave the Weigh for you. Read on, hardy traveller, success awaits you!

Sustainable Lifestyle

Another phase of my weight loss journey ends, while maintenance commences. Evaluating which strategies succeeded, failed, and collective wisdoms support sustainability is helpful. Weight loss’ healing road is paved with a variety of key elements: community support, self-worth, and embracing the imperfection as stepping stones to mastering future outcomes. Consistent practices over time enable a slow, but victorious result. Embracing the slow, but steady path, self belief and faith the process works, achieves sustainable weight loss. Yet personal growth, healing, physical steps, and mindset transformation are necessary also.

Although weight released painfully slow in the direction of my dreams, goals overall were reached. While the cleansed closet released its contents, my body shrunk four clothing sizes, and bathing suit ready I became, success elsewhere proved exceptional. Gaining comfort in my skin and walking with confidence were substantial victories. Continuing the lifestyle without the scale’s negative influence was also a definitive triumph. Obstacles as sleep deprivation, dehydration, or not eating enough healthy food, and uncontrollable life events thwart progress; learning from their cues is vital.

Overall my weight loss goal took months longer than expected. Steadfast and determined to understand the reason for my weight and why travel this journey repeatedly for solutions, I delved deeper for answers and understanding. To slowly become comfortable in my skin and lose at a tedious, slow rate in small increments (one half to one pound weekly) offered me the time to process healing beneath the surface. Emotional scars dormantly awaited awakening to be felt, addressed, and healed. Physically removing toxicity (sugar, processed foods, cleansing the gut, and addressing a sugar addiction), which affected weight loss and gain were vital during the journey. Without these parts, the whole of sustainability is lost.

Self-care modeled by clean food choices, boot camps, utilizing social support mark successful processes. Paving the way for others for a sustainable lifestyle must include personal growth, self belief, and inner healing to transform and maintain success. Losing weight is a physical response from actions, maintaining it is an avenue of self respect, self love, and mindful manning of the body’s fuel or food intake. Gaining self worth from inner healing while losing weight establishes long term success. Feasting on quality food, moving the body that empowers it, and utilizing resources that support you is the weight loss path to sustainability. New epiphanies will arise, yet I am living proof of this sustainable lifestyle.

Speed Bumps Necessitate Self Care

Tripped up again by a variety of unsteady pieces of the weight loss puzzle, I hit speed bumps that slow me down, forcing me to pause and contemplate the journey’s continued lessons. Observation offers constant improvement, failure’s lessons guide the journey’s sustainability. Although sleep deprivation, imbalanced blood sugar levels, and emotional and physical stress cause my journey to stumble, these preventative predicaments of the body’s equilibrium are countered, minimized, and knowingly allowed to interrupt the process. Choices to circumvent their interruptions is ultimately about self care and self respect.

Choosing an earlier bedtime, creating an atmosphere for quality sleep, and repeating this process daily is self care. When eating every few hours, choosing balanced meals always including protein to prevent an imbalance of blood sugar level spikes, we stimulate an equilibrium that thwarts cravings, instability, and mindless decision making. Minimizing emotional stress by choosing new mindsets, practicing shame resilience through self compassion and support, and changing the story we tell ourselves, guides the body to positive, healthy food choices. Finally reducing the physical stress through constant self care is imperative to balanced well being.

Too often I stay awake watching television, reading into the night, or numbingly finding all types of activity to keep me busy, when sleep’s necessity awaits. Too often without proper planning, missed breakfasts occur, healthy food is not a grab-and-go option, and unmindful of the repercussions, it is eleven o’clock, my blood sugar levels are shaky, and risk of overeating, cravings, and famished effects take hold, altering my potential success. Too often emotional and physical triggers set off an old reaction to consume unhealthy food to ease pain, when the solution to speak with a supportive listener, rest the body, stretch, and relax, to feel and release the hurt diminishes the effects.

Although life happens and these practices may be beyond our control, choosing wisely when within our power is what tips the scale in our favor. Self care requires vigilance, reaching intended goals through action. Respecting ourselves is taking responsible action, learning from our failures, and utilizing our resources. Once we learn what helps and hinders our success, proactive choices become the support we require, where speed bumps disappear, and full speed ahead becomes normal routine. Maintaining equilibrium, balanced sugar levels and energy, alleviating emotional and physical triggers, is necessary to motor forward successfully. Speed bumps necessitate change. Drive around them by choosing your actions wisely.

Recovering Sugaraholic

A lifetime commitment free of sugar is a monumental action. Doubtful this is possible, simple, white sugar, an acceptable, legal substance may be purchased, consumed, and found virtually anywhere. As a commodity it is readily available and inexpensive for food manufacturers. Money to be made, its addictive element attracts corporate giants. Like cigarettes, legally selling an addictive substance that increases sales is a capitalist’s dream. As an entrepreneur, I admire the economics and rate of return, yet as an individual with a moral compass, sugar’s unhealthy, negative nutritional implications, the greed and power the industry has over the food supply is daunting. Finally sugar addiction, its physical and psychological effects are debilitating making the decision to become sugar free simple, but not easy.

Eliminating simple sugar from dietary choices is a removal of the Cs: Cookies, candy, and sweetened carbohydrates. Keeping blood sugar levels stable enables maintaining an equilibrium that prevents an invasion of the substance. When consuming excessive carbohydrates, sugar levels spike, then drop, and cravings for sweetened foods relentlessly pursue action for more. The physiological effects trigger a reaction to replace deteriorating energy, an attempt at equilibrium as sugar levels crash, and an urge to circumvent the uncomfortable feeling of lethargy. Removal of simple sugars while balancing carbohydrate intake alleviates these roller coaster reactions, winning the fight against sugar addiction and enabling self restraint. As an addictive substance, refraining from consumption is necessary.

Utilization of sugar for emotional purposes is also powerful. Food as a numbing agent for emotional and physical discomfort is common. As children, rewarded, consoled, and barraged with sugary consumables solved problems and hosted festivities. Whether a skinned knee, a hurt feeling, or a celebratory holiday or experience, sweets commemorated or bandaged bruises, emotions, and events. The correlation between eating sweetened snacks with negative and positive emotions, cornerstoned sugar consumption into our psyche. To prevent simple sugar intake from food choices requires a replacement for the emotional outlet previously needed. Feeling emotions and physical pain fully without distraction by food, and celebrating the social aspects of connection with others minus simple sugar is transformative.

Remaining physically removed from simple sugar intake is the immediate action step to releasing the power of addictive behavior, while emotional response alternatives to sugary sweets is another imperative step. Feeling an incessant pull physically and mentally is overwhelming. Over time as a recovering sugar addict conquering the force eases. Questioning whether small amounts may be consumed periodically is a lesson in futility, though some refrain from pure abstinence. Utilizing protein to ease the addictive symptoms is one way to test whether small amounts of simply sugar can be consumed without grave reactions. For many even small exposure can lead to an all out binge. Recovering sugar addicts lead a slippery slope when venturing into any sugar territory. Sobriety for a lifetime may be the only solution.

You Probably Think This Blog is About You

In reference to the Carly Simon song, “You’re So Vain,” according to Mr. Webster, vanity is having too much pride in one’s appearance. As I shrink to a svelte, strong, kettlebell-wielding woman, I view my body with a great sense of pride. Fitting into clothes without tampering by a taylor, watching my happiness glow in the mirror, and confidently striding while strutting my stuff all correlates with tremendous pride with the physicality of my results. Deeply viewing the external frame of my existence has realigned life’s priorities only temporarily.

As soon as vanity starts to hit the mirror, I notice things, like a cyst on my back, a dime-sized, red, scaly patch above my eyebrow, and a skin outbreak around my eye. Finding a dermatologist applying an anaesthetic, removing the lump from my upper back, sewing a couple of stitches with needle and thread, brings me “back” to my senses. Zapping my forehead with a cryosurgical device, freezing the scaly patch that appeared two years prior, and destroying the diseased or abnormal tissue relinquishes any vanity. Priorities quickly change when ego is annihilated by relevance.

Though nice to walk tall and confidently into a room, reality strikes midnight on a regular basis to shake us from the self-centered space we enter. Survival, life, internal well-being has vitally greater importance than my skin not shining, my back bandaged, and my face needing constant explanation of “what happened?” I may be lean, comfortable in my body, but needing to look in the mirror repeatedly has come and gone. My wrinkles represent wisdom, my stretch lines correlate with mastering motherhood, and my silver streaks that line my hair show a lengthier life lived well.

Yet vanity has its value. Without scouring the details of my body, noticing pre-cancerous cells may have gone awry. As my exercise community thins out “figure-atively” discussions arise about fine lines enhancing as fat flushes away from our faces. With skin care spreading smooth contour dreams, eradicating wrinkles, and touting an everlasting youth serum, we may engage with vanity that overshadows our core value that diminishes our self worth. Vanity has its working order, allowing us to walk tall, proud and confident. Yet if you thought this blog was about you, an evaluation of priorities awaits.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Spring has finally sprung leading to the end of hibernation and much rebirth. Buried beneath snow, cold, and parkas, sun, warmth, and tank tops reunite to illuminate the day. With this new reign comes outdoor activity, walking with friends for miles upon miles, baseball at Fenway and little league on sandlots, and natural vitamin D dispensing into my body from rays sunshine. While a spectacular birth of buds grow upon branches, I step into the world a novel woman, rebirthed over the former eight months. Walking where many have ambled before, I stumble out of the old version of myself into the new. Now proud, comfortable and confident in my skin, I feel reborn emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and distanced from what I deemed impossible a year ago.

Emotionally I feel euphoric, full of joy and light that dimmed and darkened when my energy waned and depression resulted. A roller coaster along a sugar high and low brought me to tears many days, searching endlessly for solutions only to find myself in the void again. The beacon of light finally showed itself where I was initially blind, uncertain it led to an island of hope. Yet when I trusted the signs, the process, and the people around me, I was raised by a lever that raised me up until I was independently secure. Hearing hope, direction, and possibility, and feeling love, support, and gratitude, I ventured slowly along the journey I had been seeking. Happiness arrived before my physical transformation, an acceptance, surrendering, and self love that led the way.

Physically my energy is restored, replenished, and recharged. Years of lethargy, ultimate exhaustion by three in the afternoon, and a weakened core caused lower back pain and deteriorating strength. Alleviated now of all these ailments, my muscles enhanced and empowered by push ups, planks, and pullups, my physical strength rehabilitated my energy, core, and posture. Walking tall, carrying boulder-heavy items with ease, and rejuvenated, my physical force is not disputed. Rebirthing atrophied muscles into dense matter alters my mood, has me reaching for more, and striving to strengthen all aspects of my life. The physical aspects connect with the emotional dimension, fueling my body and brightening my core, mind, and spirit.

Enhanced by physical power and emotional stamina, rebirthing my spirit has replenished my soul. Soaring when writing, words pour out of me like a watering can, enhancing the soil, soaking the seeds, and sprouting the part of me blessed with this gift. As the strength rises within me, my core purpose stirs to send the words from my heart to paper, sharing my journey, enlightening lives though the magic of letters upon a page. This rebirth aligns me with a higher power that had escaped connection when the blues, weakness, and darkness surrounded me. Freed from my own shackles, words sprout daily, flowering my thoughts and feeding my soul. No longer a void to fill, nor an emotion to numb, spiritually these new beginnings connect me to something greater than myself. Life purpose appears present and set in motion.

To ride the rails of change and personally grow, rebirth is a steady process of patience. An emotional, physical, and spiritual transformation primes itself over a lifetime. Yet strengthening all avenues, releasing the “old”, and birthing a new body, energy, and spirit, engages senses, empowers souls, and changes lives. Self worth, the mighty mountain at the core of emotional, physical, and spiritual growth is paramount. Comfortable and confident in my skin and freeing myself from fear, rebirth began. Formerly falling deeper into an abyss, I clawed my way out as rays of hope and lightness of being led me out of misery, darkness, and desperation. Years of turmoil, feeding hidden emotions, weakening physically and mentally, seeds sowed, spring sprung, and self love created rebirth, strengthening my mind, body, and spirit.

Sharing on the Q.T.

Keeping my lifestyle on the down-low seemed necessary even though there is no shame with clean eating, boot camps, and community support; all are non-threatening, harmless, and need not hide. Debilitating burns from sharing truth, vulnerability, and opinions causes trepidation and has kept me silent. Yet living a life skeptical of another’s negative reaction hurts the soul and prevents sharing. My hush-hush response has been a reflection of fear until now. As a walking success story, down five sizes, svelte and trimmer, others prompt me to disclose my secretive life in the gym, my food intake, and the overall how’s of my journey. What risk is there in sharing my story?

Recognizing lifestyles are successful based upon personal experience, I have treaded lightly when exposing my approach. This lengthy, but successful option requires readiness and is not what everyone needs. Since I searched far and wide for an easy fix for decades, I conclude others seek the same. What happens if I bare my soul, steer others along the same avenue, and they hop on board without similar results or hate the process? Am I responsible for their failure? Sharing my journey may inspire others searching for a sustainable solution to weight loss, but if not willing to plunge into the hardness required, it may lead to painstaking disaster, resentment, and animosity towards me.

Ultimately everyone is responsible for their own destiny. Sharing the disclosed information is worth an attempt to motivate, inspire, and encourage others. Perhaps their success will commence with a conversation about mine. Reframing my story that sharing is unwelcomed, risks judgment, and can make or break other’s actions, I now choose to view these inquiries as those seeking solace, solutions, and seeing the possibility for themselves along the path I have chosen. To share outweighs the risks of vulnerability and judgment. Sharing on the q.t. is about caring, yet a balancing act along a beam of possibility. Disclosing my journey and trade secrets is a gift worth giving. It may even transform lives as it has my own.

Recommitment Against the Current

Recommitment starts today, paddling further to relinquish the pounds and live a healthy lifestyle. Time to contemplate the process, set fresh goals, and align and energize waning motivation, contributes to momentum and triumph. Repeated dedication in short term increments is how to prolong the hard journey against the current. My goal weight, suddenly reachable within these next weeks creates new psychological challenges. Many stagnate as they close in on the gem of a weight loss number. Close enough to reach out and grab what we desire, loose footing, spinning out of control, and capsizing may occur while we struggle to stay afloat. Smoothly traveling along powerful currents in a stream of potential obstacles is exciting, scary, and incredibly inspiring.

To navigate the boat along the desired path, steering clear of mental mishaps requires intention, determination, and consistency. These next weeks carry no different weight than the past. Steady on with processes already in place, preparing healthy food, meeting macros, and exercising muscles, make the map readily readable to follow. Veering away, turning around, leaning weight to one side, definitely constitutes self sabotage. Rocking the boat causes a splash until eventually and inevitably falling in results. Paddling successfully along the path of weight loss, health, and healing requires direction, stamina, and constant reexamination. Yet there is no need to sabotage efforts when traveling smoothly and successfully. If already thriving, change nothing!

Recommiting to processes that work is simply about sustaining motivation. When energy wanes and goals are close, we tend to amble confidently without focus, coasting aimlessly, until one day we find ourselves overboard in the water, the current dragging us toward the waterfall. If such should happen, reach your boat, climb aboard again, seek support, and rediscover your reasons for the journey. No shame in failing and falling; it is what we do when drowning seems imminent that matters. Climb aboard and recommit to the process. The gem you seek is yours for the taking. Recommitment is a prerequisite for long term success. Today continues my paddling upstream, but recommitment keeps me afloat while the paddles dip deeply and smoothly, aiming for consistency and steady direction.

Swear to Tell the Truth

A whole new perspective on swearing has enlightened me. While hidden behind a private Facebook page, convinced I was playing the role of edgy writer, kickass rebel, and strong, wonder woman, my alter-ego became the authentic me, emerging from my cocoon. Wanting to belong to this muscle-wielding, kettlebell swinging, inner circle, I empowered myself to release preconceived notions, judgment, and my inner critic. My vulnerability shone through, I became comfortable in my skin, spoke my truth, and released fear that once stood to protect me. With an outpouring of support while releasing the “old” me, swearing helped to authentically articulate truth that formerly had no language.

The first time my mother used the F-bomb it hung in the air for a few seconds before anyone realized what she had said. My sisters and I flew into laughter, the irrefutable response to something absurd beyond reason. Almost immediately, she blamed me for her outburst, that my behavior had pushed her to the edge into an uncontrollable anger where bad words spewed like vomit. Hell, the S-word and the B-word were not foreign to my mom’s vocabulary. Yet swearing threw her into a rage when it left my mouth, punishments were handed out like candy, and I knew better than to swear in public, the line boldly drawn.

Defensively swears knocked my mother off her high horse, harsh words brought her to her knees causing relentless retreat. Unable to counter a verbal attack when swears were flying, she surrendered, and alone I was ashamed of “atrocious, inappropriate behavior.” Over time, swearing dissipated, anger diluted into resentment, and harsh words dormantly disappeared. As a math teacher swearing was off limits. Peaceful language replaced cussing with exceptions to certain social situations, like an alter-ego reflecting my edgier side during moments when swears depicted an exact emotion sharp enough to cut the air.

Swears draw authentic emotion from the deepest recesses, cutting deeply enough to ruffle the feathers beneath the surface. Without them, articulating what I truly felt became hidden below layers of unexpressed emotion. Leaving emotion constrained from exposure has a way of searching for an exit. Yet allowing such energy to flow periodically seems to liberate pent-up sentiment. Releasing it is truthful, authentic, and raw. Its organic makeup drives home a definitive heartfelt emotion that normally has no verbiage. Although seen as blasphemous in most civilized communities, swearing has normalized itself within pop culture. If you want to speak your deep truth, you’ll have to swear it!

Exhaustion is My Nemesis

Stress, sugar addiction, and lack of motivation may be the catapults that deter weight loss, but exhaustion is my nemesis. Sleeplessness sinks me deep into depression, contributes to excess caffeine consumption, and hotwires my decision-making, causing my healthy eating habits to drive off a cliff temporarily. Seems such a simple solution to get some shuteye, yet late night meetings, restless young offspring, and early rise schedules thwart success. I utilize my reserves, throw it into high gear, get the troops on their way out the door, make work and life happen while the energy tank is close to empty. Seems like a normal day, that is, until it isn’t.

I arise zombie-like, but rifle through the day outsmarting fatigue. Adjusting to exhaustion, I convince myself mentally and physically, is an irrelevant predicament. Except like Cinderella, there is a cutoff for my magical recovery, dressed in fairy tale garb I throw together in an instant, riding in luxury in my imagination making life smooth, happy, and beautiful, when all felt shakily unsettling upon wake up. Late in the day things begin to disassemble, arguments develop between me and anyone in my path, and failure to engage rationally enters the scene. I wonder why the magic, energy, and stamina, dissipating from an “I’ve got this” type of day is transforming into shambles.

Exhaustion is the culprit, and my transition from riches to rags is four o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly supposedly famished, food finds its way abundantly consumed subconsciously, numbly, and without merit. Lacking mindfulness, sleeplessness feebly drives decisions like a drunk driver, veering off the road, hitting bystanders, speed bumps, and obstacles that normally can be seen from a distance. Unfortunately weight loss attempts and daily rituals cannot accommodate lack of essential zzz’s. My body has been hijacked by new drivers, incapable of responsible choices. Weight loss efforts suffer dramatically by overeating and irrational reactions to fatigue.

Even with this mighty knowledge, it remains a great struggle to maintain equilibrium post sleepless nights. Twenty-minute naps sometimes band-aid the symptoms, but essential sleep is ultimately the only solution. Shocking that something as simple as sleep changes the game play, its strategic advantage is critical to the weight loss game. Cinderella may have been fortunate to get to the ball, but her run for the exit at midnight shows the clock only strikes when you think, “I’ve got it!” Perhaps she, too, was sleep deprived, demonstrated by leaving her glass slipper behind. Yet if the shoe fits, her dreams come true. Achieving a healthy lifestyle is a dream come true when sleep turns from foe to friend.

What I Could Never Write About

Many inquire about dating a convicted murderer when I was eighteen. I cautioned myself from filling in the details. Some pasts lay dormant indefinitely; others rest before they rise to tell their story. Buried long ago, my assumption was never to give this saga audible frequency, a resonance I was unready to surrender. Yet now I find myself digging into my storage tank for untold stories. This one is dedicated to all the uneducated, wronged, unloved souls that could not find their way home.

Enter stage left, the island of Nantucket, with backdrop, the supermarket. He is shopping for sustenance; I am selling fresh meat at the deli counter. After drifting, and coasting through menial college freshman relationships, meeting a seasoned, older man with deep green, meaningful eyes, muscular physique, and a golden, bronzed tan, he has me at “hello.” Beyond the strong, external frame, there seems a soft, sweet, and subtle vulnerability residing beneath the surface. I find this gentle nuance alluring, magnetic, piquing my curiosity and interest, enough to connect and accept his first date proposal. Additionally the reference from his cousin, my manager, wrapped into our initial conversation eliminates my need for a further background check.

By evening, I am riding in his car, words flow like a reciprocating seesaw, changing directions in rhythm. We discover that we come from two separate worlds. He is surprised by my age, asking to see my driver’s license, having thought I was at least twenty-one, uncertain whether to proceed further. Understandably, since he is thirty, life experience cannot level this playing field. Our worlds exceedingly dissimilar, age may be the least of our division. I sit uncomfortably with his discomfort, imagining that our first date shall be our final.

Yet the details of his life unravel in conversation, exposing me to a foreign world, revelation upon revelation, scene by scene, and layer upon layer. Magnetically my fascination turns to compassion, my compassion to empathy, and my empathy to heartfelt, emotional caring. His drama-full life story unfolds audibly, my comprehension, contemplation, and conclusion that a disadvantaged life was dealt challenge upon challenge that worsened over time from uneducated, egregious choices he made.

Unafraid and extremely fascinated by his honesty, genuine, soft nature, I delve further with question upon question about the crime he committed, the out on bail pending an appeal status, and the three years he inhabited a maximum-security prison. His life experience fully disclosed, adds intrigue and fascination with his every expression. Drawn into the mystery, the unfamiliar territory, and alarming story, while charmed by his eyes and dichotomy of his gentle, inner, puppy-like demeanor, I am stunned how he ends up killing another.

The year that follows, I remain on the island to live, experience, and embed myself into his world. Knowledge, eye-opening exposure to the uneducated tradesman, the poor, and the criminal population, furthers my experience and education beyond any traditional institution. The one story I thought I could never write, the untold story, is ready for the telling, a tale of conviction on an island of love and lost innocence.

Confessions of a Naysayer

I confess. I was a naysayer, critiquing other’s lifestyles regularly. I heard the words, Nutrisystem, Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Jenny Craig, Raw Food Diet, The Zone Diet, The Lemonade Cleanse, Restricted Calories Lifestyle, and cringed inside from my experiences attempting each of these food plans over decades. Buns of Steel, The Firm, P90X, TurboFire, marathons, and gym memberships, also make my hair stand on end. What I know for sure is that every food and exercise plan works for somebody, and may be sustainable. Unfortunately or fortunately none of those mentioned curved my appetite nor motivated me to continue long enough to maintain weight loss, lose optimal weight or increase muscle mass. As a Debbie Downer, a wet blanket upon other’s dreams, the pessimist searching for a sustainable solution thinking the well ran dry, I am now a recovering naysayer.

Now I encounter reflections of whom I used to be within the eyes and voices of others. Many question my current success wondering it carries sustainability? Can clean, real food, unprocessed, free of gluten, simple sugars, and most dairy, with community support become a lifestyle? Will I always journal my food? Will boot camps, Strikefit, and Grind classes bring boredom eventually, injure joints and muscles with aging? Will motivation wane, perseverance give way to cookies, candy, and the next food craze? The helpful question, does this lifestyle work for me, is critical. If every plan works for someone, have I found the one that works for me? Informing my cardiologist uncle that I consume several eggs daily but my LDL (good cholesterol) level reads 74, he inferred genetics plays a role. My parents nearby consuming cholesterol medication daily, concludes, everyone is highly individual.

After nine months, my current lifestyle seems sustainable, while my body, mind, and soul respond well. I feel great! The journey always necessitates continued evaluation and growth. Needing not to answer how the future unfolds, but knowing a solution exists in my favor is the imperative piece of the puzzle. Personal growth journeys aim for the best versions of ourselves. When we arrive, do we know it? What does it look like for each of us? What necessitates change? What is sustainable? As different specimens, reacting in various ways, finding the right avenue individually is crucial. While a naysayer, stuck in my own failure, envious of those who discovered sustainable weight loss, maintenance, and fit lifestyles, my negativity unleashed inward and outward. While in recovery now I observe my old self in others, naysaying, hoping they, too, shall find their sustainable solution.

Essential Zzz’s

Sleep is possibly the most crucial element to weight loss and gain. My experience, articles, and studies, validate this claim. When weight loss and overall well being are your intention, prevention of sleep deprivation must reign supreme. Mental clarity, metabolism, health risks, and a plethora of plaguing reactions occur without enough zzz’s. Consequently when high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, exist quality sleep is interrupted and may prevent sleep, creating a host of problems related to sleep deprivation and weight gain. If weight loss seems stunted, examining your stress and sleep levels, may be an immediate solution to effectively rev the engine for optimal forward motion.

Sleep deprivation affects the brain’s frontal lobe, the focal point for decision making and impulse control. Like being drunk, the lack of mental clarity, the reaction time slowed, and ability to respond responsibly, negatively impact choices. Several studies show that with less sleep, high fat and high-carbohydrate snacks are craved and consumed, late night eating and increased cravings occur, and receiving comfort by utilizing food to relieve the discomfort of lack of sleep is common. Without effective quality and amounts of sleep, attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving skills are impaired and decrease successful weight loss attempts.

Imperative also is to recognize how quality and amount of sleep affect the metabolism from functioning properly.  Author, Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and clinical director of the sleep division of Arrowhead Health in Glendale, AZ, states that receiving enough sleep affects nightly hormones. Ghrelin, the hormone that signals when to eat elevates with sleep deprivation, while leptin, the hormone that controls satiety decreases. Additionally, less than seven hours of nightly sleep affects glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, determining how well the body can metabolize energy from foods containing carbohydrates.

A host of other ailments are conclusively impacted by sleep deprivation. Insomnia increases the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Greater sleep deprivation may attribute to lower levels of libido, hence affecting sex lives as well. Less than six hours of sleep has been associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep also ages skin, causing puffy eyes, dreary skin, and fine lines. Without solid sleep, the stress hormone, cortisol, may break down collagen that maintains skin’s smooth elasticity, while the growth hormone that thickens skin, thickens bones, and increases muscle mass, lessens.

Necessary sleep is vital for optimal health. Affecting decision making, metabolism, cravings, hormones, health risks, libido, depression and anxiety, skin, and overall well being, the connection between sleep deprivation and weight loss efforts is immense. Seven to nine hours of slumber per night requires due diligence. Utilizing magnesium, or a calming routine to encourage immediate and quality sleep is helpful. Reducing stress via meditation, healthy food, and a calmer lifestyle, to prevent cortisol levels from rising, while reducing caffeinated beverages in the afternoon are also supportive processes. Optimal sleep is a definite prerequisite for weight loss management; be sure your getting your essential zzz’s.

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