HerStory

All in a Day's Words

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Which Fork Tells Your Story

Exercise avenues and lifestyle food plans are experienced differently per person. “Your memories are unlike mine. You experienced things differently than I did,” my sister retorts when I excavate a memory from our childhood. Our life experiences are distinct 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, 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 various viewpoints tell different stories.

Last week I met a woman who quit the successful, exercise, food lifestyle 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 differed from mine, I agreed that trusting a process is scary, as most of us have attempted many plans prior. My memory of 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 methods 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 via interpretation. Through our analytical stream, we pick and choose conclusions. What works for one may not work for another, yet 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. What will you choose when your experience leads you to a fork in the road? What story will you tell yourself?

Wash Rinse Repeat

“This is my time; nothing is getting in my way.” Although that represents my current motto and deeply motivates a drive within me, it fails to explain why this time has been successful? Effective weight loss, exercise, and sustainable lifestyle, why me? I eat “clean,” attend boot camps, journal my food into MyFitnessPal®, and receive social support. Without greater will power than others or desire to succeed, effective food choices keep blood sugar levels balanced, maintain equilibrium physically, prevent cravings that deter unhealthy options. Inner emotional healing while altering mindset about food’s purpose tops the list of action steps. Yet sustainable weight loss’ Holy Grail is discovering your body’s specific needs and response to food. Finding solutions for my body has been a thirty-five year journey, from first diet to current sustainable lifestyle. Yet consistency of repeated small action steps to foster and maintain success is the simple solution and truth.

Time passes and life events within and outside of our control affect behavior, awareness, and motivation. Getting off track for a day, or two, or three, or a week or month happens, yet returning to small, simple action steps that have been successful is the key. 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 theory about successful people. Having this slight edge over time establishes long-term success. Time reinforces advancement along a spectrum where success demonstrates minute, barely visible progress in the short term, yet compounded over time is noteworthy. Doing the little things consistently over time builds momentum, until success eventually appears and its continuation maintains and strengthens it.

When you know this truth to be self-evident, you simply do what must be done daily. No excuses, no retort 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 instant 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 taking with small, simple steps leading the journey. No need to see the end, following one action to the next moves 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 me, and why not you, too?

Dominoes of Awareness

Have you noticed the woman whose hair part zigzags, her panty line shows, and she wears mismatched and crumpled clothes? Not well kept, yet raised to know how, I was that woman, the one who appeared to have “bed head” without a care, threw on the ruffled and wrinkled wear, and ignored the fashion police. Yet as the weight starts to drop, viewing my body on closer examination naturally seems to occur. Aware of each beauty mark, old scar, or bump and lump, all that seemed invisible suddenly illuminates. Although always there, now noticing as if magically materialized and spotlighted, I tune into caring about my body, noticing each divot, and appreciating its contours.

Visiting the dermatologist to examine every freckle, growth, and mark, I wade through troubled waters with scans as preventative measure. Saved only by arriving early enough in life, I feel lucky as each review from a lab comes back negative for skin cancer. Removal of skin tags and cysts, zapped with cryogenic force and surgeries, my healing acts like dominoes falling into place, toppling from one to the next, applying care to each nook and cranny. My head feels heavy as a surgeon removes a large pilar cyst, gouging it from my scalp. Yet the weight, pain, and gravity lessen with healing, as a strange dimension of loss envelops me with each action to smooth my skin’s surface, ridding me of past protrusions.

Various victories exist within weight loss. Recognizing bumps and lumps is a domino effect of awareness. Without mindfulness, growths transfixed to my body remained invisible, as did inner lesions that needed attending, removal, and healing. Although practicing self-care requires awareness, my priority was elsewhere, blinded by other avenues and unable to see reality. Weight loss continues to establish greater sensitivity to my body’s physical climate as the internal awareness increases, and the body builds muscle, stamina, and strength. Every line and crevice viewed with respect and appreciation add depth to the winning dimension of losing weight. Addressing the body with self-care follows suit, while the external and internal dimensions change. Awareness enhances within the weight loss journey as progress topples from one successful outcome to the next. Let the dominoes fall one by one.

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, yet victorious result. Embracing the slow, but steady path, self-belief and faith the process works, achieves sustainable weight loss. Personal growth, healing, physical steps, and mindset transformation are critical 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 five 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, 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 comprehend the reason beneath the pounds and motivation to travel this journey, while repeatedly in search of 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 (about one-half pound per week) offered me the time to process healing beneath the surface. Dormant emotional scars now felt, addressed, and healed waited for their awakening. 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 would have been lost or incomplete.

Self-care modeled by clean food choices, boot camps, and 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 operating of the body’s fuel or food intake. Gaining self-worth from inner healing, while losing physical weight, fosters long-term success. Feasting on quality food, moving the body that empowers it and utilizing resources that support you is the sustainable weight loss path. New epiphanies will arise, yet I am living proof of this sustainable lifestyle.

Speed Bumps

Tripped up again by unsteady pieces of the weight loss puzzle, lessons surface as speed bumps slow the process forcing a pause and greater contemplation of the journey. Observation offers constant improvement, failure’s tutorials teach sustainability. Although sleep deprivation, imbalanced blood sugar levels, and emotional and physical stress cause journeys 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 are ultimately about self-care and self-respect.

Choosing an earlier bedtime, creating an atmosphere for quality sleep, and repeating this process daily is an example of self-care. When eating every few hours, choosing nutritious balanced meals to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking, we stimulate an equilibrium that thwarts cravings, instability, and mindless decision-making. Minimizing emotional stress by choosing a new mindset, practicing shame resilience through self-compassion and support, and changing the story we tell ourselves, guides the body to positive, healthy food choices. Additionally reducing physical stress through self-care is imperative to balance well-being.

Remaining awake, watching television, reading into the night, and anesthetizing emotions, ignores sleep’s necessity. Without proper planning, missed breakfasts occur, healthy food is not a grab-and-go option, and minus mindfulness, negative repercussions occur. At eleven o’clock at night, blood sugar levels may be unsteady, risk of overeating, cravings, and famished reactions alter 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 friend, rest the body, stretch, and relax, to feel and release the hurt diminishes the negative effects.

Although life circumstances occur sometimes beyond our control, choosing wisely when within our power is what tips the scale in our favor. Self-care requires vigilance to reach intended goals through action. Respecting ourselves is taking responsible steps, learning from our failures, and utilizing our resources. Once we discover 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 actions wisely, learn as you travel over them, and embrace the lessons they offer.

Recovering Sugaraholic

A lifetime commitment free of sugar is a monumental action. Doubtful this is possible, simple, white sugar is an acceptable, legal substance, purchased, consumed, and found easily in our food supply. As a commodity, it is inexpensive and readily available to food manufacturers. With potential profit, 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, the unhealthy, addictive, and negative nutritional implications, and the greed and power the industry has over the food supply, is unsettling. Most crucial to sugar addiction is its debilitating physical and psychological effects making the decision to become sugar free simple, yet not easy.

Eliminating simple sugar from dietary choices implicates immediate restriction of the readily available Cs: Cookies, candy, and sweetened carbohydrates. Keeping blood sugar levels stable maintains an equilibrium that prevents a direct physiological effect and invasion of the substance. When consuming excessive carbohydrates, sugar levels spike, then drop, and cravings for sweetened foods relentlessly taunt further. The physical effects trigger a reaction to replace deteriorating energy, an attempt at equilibrium as sugar levels plummet, and an urge to circumvent the uncomfortable, lethargic feeling. Removing simple sugars while balancing carbohydrate intake alleviates these roller coaster reactions to win the fight against sugar addiction and fostering 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 highlighted 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, traps sugar consumption usage within our psyche’s needs. To prevent simple sugar intake from food choices requires a replacement for the emotional outlet previously utilized. Feeling emotions and physical pain fully without distraction by food, and celebrating the social aspects of connection with others minus sweetened edibles is transformative.

Remaining “clean” and clear 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 often overwhelms the masses. Over time, recovering sugar-addicts conquer the urge and force with greater ease daily through conscious effort. Questioning whether small amounts consumed periodically is possible, is a lesson in futility, though some refrain via pure abstinence. Utilizing protein to ease the addictive, physical symptoms is one way to test whether small amounts of simple sugar consumption can occur without grave reactions. Small exposure to sugar territory can lead to a slippery slope and all-out binge. Sobriety for a lifetime may be the only solution for a recovering sugar addict.

Bet You Think This Blog Is About You

In reference to Carly Simon’s song, “You’re So Vain,” and according to Mr. Webster, vanity is having too much pride in one’s appearance. As I shrink to a svelte, strong, kettle bell-wielding woman, I view my body with a great sense of self-respect. Fitting into clothes without tampering by a tailor, watching my happiness glow in the mirror, and confidently striding, 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 spot things, like a cyst on my back, a dime-sized, red, scaly patch above my eyebrow, and a skin outbreak around my left eye. Finding a dermatologist applying an anesthetic, removing the lump from my upper back, sewing a couple of stitches with needle and thread, returns me “back” to my senses. Zapping my forehead with a cryosurgical device, freezing a scaly patch, and destroying the diseased or abnormal tissue relinquishes any vanity. Priorities quickly change when relevance and perspective annihilate ego, realigning values and importance.

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, strong, and comfortable in my body, but needing to glance 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 reveal 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 song, dance, and theme were about you, priorities await reevaluation.

Rebirth

Spring has sprung leading to the end of another hibernation and rebirth. Buried beneath snow, cold, and parkas, sun, warmth, and tank tops reunite to highlight the day. With this new reign comes outdoor activity, walking with friends for miles, baseball at Fenway and little league on sandlots, and natural vitamin D dispensing into my body from rays of sunshine. While a spectacular birth of buds grow upon branches, I step into the world a novel woman, re-birthed 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, reborn emotionally, physically, and spiritually, distance grows from what I deemed impossible a year ago.

Emotionally euphoric, full of joy and illuminated light, that dimmed and darkened when my energy waned and depression resulted, capture my soul. A roller coaster along a sugar high and low brought me to tears many days, searching endlessly for sustainable solutions only to find myself in the void again. The beacon of light finally lit 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, a lever 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 prior to physical transformation, an acceptance, white flag, and self-love leading the way.

Physically my energy 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 these ailments, my muscles enhanced and empowered by push-ups, planks, and pull-ups, my physical strength rehabilitated my energy, core, and posture. Walking tall, carrying boulder-heavy items with ease, and rejuvenated, my physical force is undisputed. Rebirthing atrophied muscles into dense matter alters my mood, has me reaching for more, and striving to strengthen all facets 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 essential 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 thoughts to feed my soul. No longer a void to fill, or 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 fed hidden emotions, weakened physically and mentally, then seeds sowed, spring sprung, and self-love created rebirth, strengthening my mind, body, and spirit.

Share on the QT

Keeping my lifestyle on the down low seems necessary though there is no shame with clean eating, boot camps, and community support. All is non-threatening, harmless, and need not hide. Debilitating burns from sharing truth, vulnerability, and opinions cause trepidation and have 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. As a walking success story, down five sizes, svelte, ripped and trim, many inquire and prompt me to disclose my food strategy and fitness regime. What risk is there to share my story?

Lifestyles are successful based upon personal experience causing me to tread lightly when exposing my approach. This lengthy, yet successful option requires readiness and is not what everyone needs. Since I searched extensively 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, yet if not willing or ready to plunge into the hardness and healing required, it may lead to painstaking disaster, resentment, and animosity.

Ultimately, everyone is responsible for his or her own destiny. Sharing 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 recognize inquiries as those seeking solace, solutions, and recognizing the possibility of my chosen path for themselves. To share or help outweighs the risks of vulnerability and judgment. Sharing on the QT is about caring and a balancing act along a beam of possibility. Disclosing my journey and trade secrets is a gift worth giving, possibly transforming lives as it has my own.

Recommit Against the Current

Recommit to paddling and surrendering the pounds to live a healthy lifestyle. Contemplating the process, setting fresh goals, and aligning and energizing waning motivation, contribute to momentum and triumph. Repeated dedication in short-term increments is a reliable strategy to prolong the hard journey against the current. Goal weight when reachable within weeks creates new psychological challenges for many. Some stagnate as they close in on the gem of a weight loss number. Close enough to reach out and grab the goal, a loss of footing, spinning out of control, and capsizing while struggling to stay afloat to maintain the journey may occur. Smoothly traveling along powerful currents in a stream of potential obstacles is exciting, scary, and daringly challenging, yet can be inspiring. Yielding to perils and gliding to the finish line takes thoughtful response, awareness, and consistency.

To navigate the boat along the desired path, steering clear of mental mishaps requires intention, determination, and repeating successful actions. These pounds carry no different weight than the past. Steady on with practices already in place, preparing healthy food, meeting macronutrient goals, and exercising muscles, make the map readily readable to follow. Veering away, turning around, leaning weight to one side, definitely represents self-sabotage when all travel had been smooth. Rocking the boat causes a splash until eventually and inevitably, plopping into the white water results. Setting some new goals when de-energized may be necessary. 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.

Recommitting to successful processes requires sustaining motivation and continuing daily actions. 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, possibly pulling us under. If such should happen, reach for your boat or support system, climb aboard with helping hands reaching out, take stock of your strength, 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 the paddling upstream, but recommitment keeps us afloat while the paddles dip deeply and smoothly, aiming for consistency and steady direction.

Swear to Tell the Truth

A new perspective on swearing lends itself to truth. While hidden behind a private Facebook page, playing the role of edgy writer, kickass rebel, and strong-armed, wonder woman, my alter ego emerged from a cocoon. Wanting to belong to this muscle-wielding, kettle bell swinging, inner circle of women, I empowered myself to release preconceived notions, judgment, and an 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.

Growing up with limited swear exposure, this engagement was novel. My recollection of my mother using the F-bomb for the first time, the word hung in the air for a few seconds before anyone realized what was said. My sisters and I flew into laughter, the irrefutable response to something absurd beyond reason. Almost immediately, she blamed me for her outburst, my behavior 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 mother’s vocabulary. Yet swearing threw her into a rage when it left my mouth, she handed out punishments like candy, and I knew better than to swear in public, a 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 dormant harsh words disappeared. When I was a math teacher swearing became nonexistent in the professional education environment. Peaceful language replaced cussing with exceptions to certain social situations, when an alter ego reflected my edgier side, moments when curses depicted an exact emotion sharp enough to cut the air.

Swears draw authentic emotion from the deepest recesses, cut deeply enough to ruffle the feathers beneath the surface. Without them, articulating what I truly felt hid beneath layers of unexpressed emotion. Leaving emotion constrained from exposure has a way of searching for an exit. Yet allowing such energy to flow 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 will have to swear it!

Exhaustion is My Nemesis

Stress, sugar addiction, and lack of motivation may be the catalysts that deter weight loss, yet exhaustion is my nemesis. Sleeplessness sinks me deep into deliriousness, contributes to excess caffeine consumption, and hotwires my decision-making, causing my healthy eating habits to drive off a cliff temporarily. Although it seems a simple solution to acquire shuteye, late night meetings, restless young offspring, and early rising schedules thwart success. I utilize my reserves, throw it into high gear, get the troops on their way out the door, and make work and life happen, while the energy tank draws near empty. It seems as if a normal day, i.e. until it is not.

I arise in a zombie-like state, yet rifle through the day outsmarting fatigue. Adjusting to exhaustion, I convince myself mentally and physically that this is an irrelevant predicament. Except, like Cinderella’s story, there is a cutoff for my magical recovery while dressed in fairy tale garb I threw together in an instant, riding in luxury with my imagination highlighting my sexy minivan, making life smooth, happy, and beautiful, when all feels shakily unsettling upon wake up. Late in the day things begin to disassemble, arguments develop between innocent bystanders, and my 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 famished, food finds its way abundantly consumed subconsciously, numbingly, and without merit. Lacking mindfulness, sleeplessness feebly drives decision like a drunk driver veering off the road, hitting bystanders, speed bumps, and obstacles normally seen from a distance. Unfortunately, weight loss attempts and daily rituals cannot accommodate lack of essential zzz’s. My hijacked body by tired drivers, incapable of making responsible choices cause weight loss efforts to suffer dramatically with overeating and reckless reactions to fatigue.

Even with knowledge and expertise, 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. Simply, slumber alters game play remaining a strategic, critical advantage to the weight loss game. Cinderella may have been fortunate to get to the ball, yet her run for the exit at midnight shows the clock only strikes when you think, “I’ve got this!” 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.

Confessions of a Naysayer

Criticizing various lifestyles negatively has been common during my search for sustainable weight loss and fitness solutions. I confess I was a naysayer. Hearing the words, Nutrisystem®, Atkins®, Weight Watchers®, South Beach®, Jenny Craig®, Raw Food Diet, The Zone Diet®, The Lemonade Cleanse®, and Restricted Calories Lifestyle, I cringe imagining the multiple experiences and money eaten up with each food plan over decades of weight loss attempts. Buns of Steel®, The Firm®, P90X®, TurboFire®, marathons, and gym memberships, all tried and tested live in the past. Certainly, every food and exercise plan works for somebody, and may be sustainable for someone. None mentioned above 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.

Recollecting who I used to be within the eyes and voices of others, I listen now as others question my current success, wondering about its 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 other specialty exercise classes lose my interest, while injuring joints and muscles while aging? Will motivation wane and perseverance give way to cookies, candy, and the next food craze? The critical inquiry is lifestyle sustainability. 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 infers genetics plays a role. Yet my parents consume cholesterol medication daily confirming that everyone is highly individual.

After one year, my current lifestyle seems sustainable, while my body, mind, and soul continue to feel well. 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 aims for our best selves. When we arrive, do we know it? What does it look like for each of us? What necessitates change? What is sustainable? As individuals react differently, finding the right avenue for each of us 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

One of the most crucial elements to weight loss and gain is sleep. My experience, articles, and studies, validate this assertion. 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 slumber. Consequently, when high levels of the stress hormone Cortisol exist, interrupted sleep and inability to sleep, may contribute to weight gain results. 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 inebriated, lack of mental clarity slows reaction time, and failure to respond responsibly affects choices negatively. Several studies indicate that less sleep contributes to high fat and high-carbohydrate snack cravings and consumption, late night eating, and utilizing food to relieve lack of sleep’s discomfort. Without effective quality and amounts of sleep, attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving skills are impaired and decrease successful weight loss attempts.

Recognizing how quality and amount of sleep affect the metabolism from functioning properly is imperative for a successful weight loss journey. 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.

Hosts of other ailments conclusively correlate with sleep deprivation. Insomnia increases the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. 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 effective 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, decreases.

Necessary sleep is crucial for optimal health. Affecting decision-making, metabolism, cravings, hormones, libido, depression, 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 relaxation 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 measures. Optimal sleep is a definite prerequisite for weight loss management. Be sure you are getting your essential zzz’s.

Strategic Advantage

Self-reliance and accountability are vital necessities in life, yet human connection is equally important. Traveling the weight loss and exercise journey alone carries greater potential hazardous risk of failure. Community support, our external environment, and helping others while holding ourselves accountable are a combined union for successful results. When asked what happens when the support dissipates leaving me alone to fly solo, will I succeed upon this journey? Conclusively my thirty years of experience answers definitively, I shall never seek weight loss and exercise alone. Rather than living in a bubble with sole self-reliance, accessing community support encourages human connection and a web of consistent accountability. Although courageous and ambitious, martyrdom I seek not. A solo expedition increases failure rate considerably. Community support is a strategic advantage in winning the weight loss war.

Hardwired for human connection, we utilize communities consistently to support our families, education, and lifestyles daily. Companies, jobs, and careers require human support networks to accomplish numerous tasks. Raising families without community support through carpools and helpful emotional sustainability, care, and sustenance, external resources as recreation and education would fail miserably. In all facets of our existence, the reliance upon others requires trust, faith, and vulnerability. To empathize, support, and reciprocate help is part of the human condition. Allowing others to raise us up in many corners of living is no different from living a healthy lifestyle. Many studies prove that social, external support to improve weight loss management is crucial. Without it, the risk of relapse is greater. Joining supportive networks of friends and strangers along the same journey is significant for successful long-term results.

While being self-reliant is notable, seeking support is not weakness. Instead, it shows wisdom to recognize the power of community, the effectiveness of common experience to propel success, and the strength of helping others. This strategic advantage does not release self-accountability. There is no one holding my hand to choose healthy foods, driving me to boot camps to pump weights, or tracking my food intake. Self-motivation, determination, and perseverance are still required, as is independent action. Yet orchestrate a union between self-accountability and community support, and the power to succeed strengthens. Going it alone is one option, combining it with the power of many is strategically beneficial. Propelled to utilize the latter, everyone must decide for him or herself. Yet community support remains a strategic advantage in my playbook.

Winds of Changing Habits

When asked about my fitness and weight management lifestyle, I explain its gradual, consistent, and purposeful ascent into habit. With focus and intention on “clean” eating, allowing it to penetrate physically and psychologically, it becomes a consistent routine. Not a diet, I defensively deny the depiction of the boxed definition of deprivation, restricted calories, and control over food intake.

Instead, my lifestyle requires a new mindset, viewing food as fuel, consuming an abundance of healthy real food, and practicing self-respect and care for what enters my body. As for fitness, boot camps, and specialty strength classes work the core, muscles, and mental toughness. Yet subtle describes the process, like a dot-to-dot puzzle, connecting one action to the next. When exchanging old habits for new ones, fresh seeds grow. They orchestrate the winds of change.

Twelve months concentrating on altering my actions, mindset, and knowledge, establishing a sustainable lifestyle is transformative. Yet time is the deciding factor, judge, and jury. Is it sustainable for a year, two years, five years, or a lifetime? Embracing this lifestyle and engaging in extensive emotional healing with significant physical, mental, and emotional strength adds a meaningful dimension to life.

A newly conceived body, a healed heart, and a committed mindset lead the line of longevity. Making the habits what I do, who I am, and how I live, allow the winds of change to wash over me and require continued motivation, inspiration, and intention towards each day’s actions. Can I do this for a lifetime? At the end of my life, I will know. For now, moment by moment, I embrace the change while a lifetime passes.

Living from the Tombstone

While attending business school, an assignment to decide the words upon our tombstone fostered a meaningful discussion. Writing our eulogy for leading a better life examines values, ambitions, and dreams. Hearts beat in an inspiring direction to live life with purpose. Grounded in meaning, our actions breathe a life of compassion, kindness, and connection. A playing field of anything is possible sprouts from the imagination. Yet as I took stock of my life, awareness of my damaged wings rose to the surface. Emotional baggage prevented me from soaring, tattered and torn wings weighed down by my past grounded me from liftoff. A wounded soul in need of healing, I reexamined my life from the inside out.

To live a life with meaning, my wounded heart must know forgiveness, experience peace, and learn to love again. Without the wherewithal, I searched within for worthiness only to find empty space, a tortured anger, and dormant sadness from yesteryear. Uncovering the depth of my despair, healing the wounds with compassion, love, and forgiveness, years passed. The process was as silent as a whisper, as if inching closer without hearing fully, gathering strength by the gram rather than pound, and releasing the past like a caress that dissipates into the wind. Enigmatically with fifteen years of gradual ascent, a knowing of self-love, gratitude, and comfort of self-worth encompassed every cell of my being.

Arrival at this knowing is palpable, but not readily explainable. Like a softened heart, an inner strength, and self-respect, the intangibles source the emotion of well being, happiness, and self-love. Healing reformulates wings, magically it seems, stronger than I imagined or thought possible, and spread full of Grace for flight. Soaring now with self confidence, self-worth, and comfort in my skin, I fly effortlessly, higher by the heart’s internal light, and smoother by the wind that releases my sails initially obstructed by weight, force, and obstacles. Lightened by the healing, love, and journey, I see my tombstone now engraved by a life being fully lived. Written upon it is the description of a woman who lived, worthy of speaking her truth, loving, and connecting all the way to her grave. She soared like an eagle, free to fly, free to roam, and free to live without fear. Are you living from the tombstone?

Never Loved You Anyway

Waiting for the pounds to plummet is like a spoken southern drawl, elongated by the sound of our feet hitting the scale, the relentless exhale as the ticker lands on a number like a roulette wheel, and the realization of defeat again. Many worldwide awaken to step upon the metal box that adorns the bathroom tiles, praying that a certain number’s appearance commends and rewards efforts. Unfortunately, the lifeless object contains no feelings, friendship, or faithful bond. Without any authority, it has an “all-knowing” power. Allowing this metal, rectangular prism to declare your fate of happiness or tears, smiles or sadness, strength or weakness, is a practice in futility. Is it time to say “good-bye” and “good riddance” to this imbalance in your life?

The scale, housing itself on millions of bathroom floors tortures those who step upon it while giving it the power to decide their emotional state. Giving the scale the heave-ho may be the next step. As a measurement tool, limited in its inability to accurately calculate body fat, size, or muscle mass, its inexact results also do not tally water retention. Furthermore, consistency from one scale to the next differs significantly. Yet its emotional power over the masses has long reigned. Whether you stand upon it multiple times per day, per week, or per year, it may change even when your body has not. Yet it loses its power when you remove it entirely.

Hopping upon the scale never shows us any love, nor does it say, “Good job.” The clunky base adorning bathrooms awaits silently our arrival, yet will never be your friend, nor has it ever been. It bruises egos, shatters confidence, and adds fuel to the pendulum of bad feelings. We want a good relationship with this daily visit, yet the final figure glides upward causing realization, upset, and arousal from a numeric value defining us. When the number hunkers downward, we scream with alliance, yet an upward spin makes us yell with defiance. It seems a no-win proposition to have any relationship with the scale even though breaking up is hard to do.

The scale’s utility as a weight loss, assessment tool is limited. It sets off emotional turmoil, resulting in momentary approval or disappointment. Rarely is satisfaction the resulting emotion, and its effects of overconsumption no matter the direction the dial moves, negates progress. Removing it from the household may be a plausible solution for this negative, influential, inanimate object. After years of this toxic relationship, it is time to give it the boot. Happiness you seek lies within; no number defines you. Recognizing the weight on the scale as simply assessing your gravity in relation to the ground and not your success rate, the healthy lifestyle remains the focal point. Dump the scale; it never loved you anyway!

Extricate Emotional Shrapnel

Emotional shrapnel from dieting war games wounds confidence, damages determination, and remains affixed until removed. Insecurity bleeds beneath the surface, discouragement dangles from imperfection, and defeat from pounds lost and gained builds scars, while self worth takes a continuous beating. To rehabilitate from such battles, inner healing of self-acceptance, love, and respect must emerge. Winning the war on pounds is about regaining self worth initially pounded out by early emotional defeat. To release this birth-given, divine right of worthiness into present day living, is to establish the frontline with an innate knowing of who you are. Without becoming your authentic self, the long-term battle is doomed to fail fatally and repeatedly. Self worth dictates choices and therefore, motivating self-love to rise within is crucial for victory.

Choosing nutritional rather than toxic edibles to bypass our lips and practicing self-care versus destructive behaviors to support rather than debilitate, navigate the healthy path. Eating harmful foods, taking care of others without addressing self-needs, and choosing toxic relationships, are ingredients that stage a battlefield of self-destruction. Self-limiting beliefs and steeping feelings of non-deserving of optimal options, burn into the psyche. Decades of choosing poor quality foods, partners with low self worth, and emotionally toxic friends, depict low self-value. Without optimizing choices for better, drawing along the mediocre line in the sand stands below par. Storming the beaches for improvement must correlate with actions.

Exercise environments that increase energy, endurance, and strength as well as confidence, friendship, and community highlight a self-care model for internal and external healing. Clean food that supplies mental acuity cleanses physical interior walls, a “feel-good” energy adds to the foundation to illuminate self worth. Coordinated with therapeutic relief from past emotional pain through forgiveness, and alleviating dormant trauma triggering today’s actions contributes to overall sustainable well-being. This effortful process is the “worthy” fight. Win this war, and sustainable weight loss is possible. Emotional turmoil, a heavy burden from past or present deters weight loss sustainability, and is the tipping point towards success or failure.

A lifestyle plan may drop weight physically, but without self worth at its foundation, sustainability is futile. Working on the core of who we are contributes significantly to results. Yesterday’s actions affect today’s outcome while today’s moments are a product of tomorrow. Therefore, change today and tomorrow becomes anew. Self worth enables actions to align respectfully in favor of successful outcomes. What we put out in the world reflects back to us. Many believe we attract what we do, but reflecting who we are seems accurate. Emoting self-love that extricates the diet war’s emotional shrapnel plaguing hearts consecrates weight loss sustainability into a foundation of lifelong worth within us. Let self worth reflect upon the world enabling limitless possibility.

Cookie for a Skinned Knee

Whether a cookie, ice cream, or brownie graces the table with each bee sting, bruise, academic or athletic achievement, food rewards are a challenging habit to break. Skinned knees, A’s on report cards, holidays, hurt feelings, achievements, and pain rewarded by food is a common response, fostering the “I can fix, heal, remove, celebrate that feeling” with food. Reeling us into the pantry for sugar-laden medals and sweet rewards, goodies celebrate the victories, and/or ease the pain of falling down, burning a finger on a stove, or hurt feelings. Junk food consumption for regular relief of feeling uncomfortable or emotionally hurt, packs on the pastries and pounds. Reframing food’s purpose by releasing connections between food and emotion is vital for successful weight loss and maintenance.

Food as fuel negates food-rewarded needs, and fosters respect for healthy choices and the body. If food’s sole purpose is energy, emotional responses must reroute or express themselves elsewhere. Gathering alternatives for discomfort, emotional releases, and successes is imperative to reframe food’s function. Not an easy transition, yet it changes the way we view situations; therefore, the responses alter course. Exercising and building the muscle to modify eating behavior takes practice, perseverance, and motivation. As a repeated reminder, food’s function as optimal energy, fueling muscles, and sending nutrition to the brain, is essential. Physically feeling good is the prime goal, while cravings dissipate, energy resumes, and mental clarity returns. Imbalanced sugar levels cloud judgment, energy levels, and fool the appetite by misguided hunger.

Proper nutrition provides a balanced chemical response that enhances quality of life. By rewarding emotion with unhealthy foods, we threaten the body’s optimal functioning. Equilibrium, the natural response, causes the body to attempt elimination of incoming threats of toxicity or unrecognizable ingredients within processed foods, by becoming inflamed, digestively distressed, or eventually diseased. Treating ourselves respectfully with healthy, edible options, and utilizing “food as fuel,” circumnavigates this problem. Anything that band-aids rather than cures is counterintuitive to healing. Treating feelings with food addresses symptoms of discomfort and emotional celebration, yet damages heavily. A cookie for a skinned knee eventually causes additional pain, sometimes irrevocable. Healthy food as fuel can temper this future predicament.

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