If you have been blessed to be a mother, or are a special woman, who is making a difference in the lives of others, I honor you today. I can think of no better challenge than to ask you to give yourself a compliment. Be intentional, and use your internal voice (you know the voice that is often critical or worrisome) for something good today. This challenge is something you are doing just for yourself. If you want it to be private, yes. If you want to share it with someone else, yes. If you want to post it in the comments for other readers to see, yes. Whatever makes you feel good about yourself is the whole point.
Mix it up
If only this post’s featured image was my kitchen. It comes from a beautiful blog called, The Spruce. What is it about looking at organized spaces that are so appealing? Perhaps it has something to do with the brain and patterns (the brain LOVES patterns). Maybe it has something to do with exercising control over the environment. Or could it be the appeal of having others think, “Wow, she really has her life all figured out.” Ha!
Whatever the reason, I do love an organized space. Yet, I’m the kind of person who, when she is working, makes a big mess. I pull things out, I make piles, and I don’t always make the best choices for how to store things away. My goal is to declutter one cabinet in my kitchen. I decided on one cabinet because I don’t really want to spend hours doing this, and I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. This is a doable goal for me, and if all goes well, I will do another cabinet tomorrow. Maybe.
Why the kitchen? Since I have been so engaged with my weight loss journey, my kitchen has been taking a beating with all the COOKING I’ve been doing. I actually do like to cook, and I do enjoy the food I make. I enjoy it when I have the time, I’m not too exhausted from working all day, and when I can find everything I need. So mostly, I enjoy cooking on the weekends and during the summer when I work a little less. In the meantime, I still have to cook on all those other days, and if I am a bit more organized I think it will help me.
Why have these daily challenges?
Simply, having small doable goals brings me joy. Small goals also spark momentum. Having a sense of momentum is especially important when you have a lot of weight to lose. I say this because a successful weight-loss journey relies on habits that form a network of predictable systems. I think of these daily challenges as a way to mix it up.
Ever notice how many people will say crazy things like, “It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone.” This is said without any real regard for the experiences that come about from having done the thing that pushed you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes those are rough experiences! I don’t think the “good” actually comes from the experience, To me, it only does good if I reflect following the experience.
I went to Manhattan for work, and all of it was out of my comfort zone. Now that it’s over, I can honestly say, I’m glad I went, but I’m really tired. Was it worth it? Did it help me grow? I’m not sure yet, it depends on how much the experience impacts my practice. So time will tell.
Speaking of challenges, is cutting sugar out of your comfort zone? My answer would be, no cutting out sugar is pretty easy. It’s easy because I have already put in the sweat equity into my habits. I don’t eat a lot of sugar these days, and I don’t really miss it. Without any real evidence; my gut, thinks limiting sugar/added sugar has been very helpful. The weight is coming off, I have more energy, and I am a happy traveler (for now) on my journey.
The Water Secret
In the early days of video games, my mom used to like to play Super Mario Bros. I remember I used to sit with her in my younger brother’s room, and we would talk while she played the game. I didn’t really enjoy the game, but I thought it was funny that she did. So, I would watch her make Mario jump up to hit the floating box until the mushroom popped out and be absorbed by Mario turning him into Super Mario!
If we were in a video game, water would be the mysterious super nutrient that would endow magical powers to empower weight loss. It does a bunch of interesting things, but for this post, I am going to share 5 big ones;
- Drinking water curtails drinking high-calorie drinks.
- Drinking water prior to meals may help decrease appetite.
- Drinking water after meals can help with digestion.
- Drinking water boosts energy during workouts.
- Drinking water may boost your metabolic rate.
One thing I like about having a daily water goal is that it’s not complicated. All I have to do is to just drink water throughout the day and keep moving forward. “Let’s a-go!”
The Skinny on Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is an intriguing process because it has a positive impact on reducing unhealthy eating behaviors (like binge eating) and is about as effective as traditional weight loss programs (Fuentes Artiles, Staub, et al) It is also something that not everyone has tried before. Why not? For one thing, it’s kind of granola. It seems like something hippies dreamed up in an ashram…
Another reason mindful eating doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves, is who has the time? We are all living in a stressful busy world, but that stressful busy world is probably one of the reasons why you may want to lose weight. Stress packs on the pounds and we all know it. So maybe this technique is worth the time.
3 Steps for Mindful Eating
I am an enthusiastic novice, so I don’t really know anything much more than surface-level information. However, from what I can gather mindful eating consists of three important steps:
- Eat without any distractions, the room should be very quiet.
- Eat slowly, using your senses to be fully present and aware.
- Monitor why you’re eating and gauge satiety.
One of my daily habits is to eat one thing mindfully each day. I don’t feel like I can do a whole meal yet. Time is often an issue and I live in a house full. Eating is social, and think that is another reason why this technique is a bit tricky for many of us. So… I tried mindful eating with a chunk of watermelon today. It felt soft and released a lot of sweet liquid with each bite. It was strangely loud as I chewed it in my quiet kitchen. I still feel the coolness of it on my tongue. I was eating it as an experiment to share with you for this post. I am hungry still, I have not eaten dinner yet. That’s it. Give it a go and let me know how it went for you!
Take a Break to Reflect
Did you do today’s challenge? Did you take an intentional break? I wish I could tell you I did, but I didn’t, and today was a real pressure cooker. When there is a lot of stress, it makes good sense to take a break from it, but instead, I just kept pushing. Does this happen to you? When things get really stressful, I get consumed with doing whatever it takes to get it done. It’s complicated too, because (for me) stress can be a motivator. Stress gets me moving, and I focus on the work at hand and tune everything else out. But… at the same time, I have to be careful that stress doesn’t trigger old habits, like snacking under pressure.
If you read my blog, looking for an expert, I would feel like a fraud. I am not an expert, I am still figuring out this weight loss journey every single day. What I am (I can say this confidence) is a learner. The path to personal growth is through honest reflection, so here it is – I had a moment after dinner when I didn’t really want to go upstairs and work out. At that moment, I turned to my husband and said, “I’ve got to work out, or I won’t do it and this whole thing can fall apart.” By “whole thing” I meant all my habits. Thinking in these terms is called, “black-and-white thinking”
Did I resort to this misguided thought to push myself? Deliberately piling on more stress after an extremely stressful day. Or, did I really believe that ALL my habits would disappear if I didn’t go for a 20-minute cycling class at the moment? Could my answer be a bit of both? I don’t regret working out, that’s not the point, I do feel really good post-workout. I am concerned by the thought of not working out, if I didn’t do this one thing, then all my good habits would go away. This heuristic thinking is not helpful for me in the long run because I am attempting to change my life. Change can only truly arrive if I stop repeating past mistakes.
When was the last time you felt inspired? I know so many people who inspire me. In many ways, this post is dedicated to all of them. But specifically this post is about just one. Inspiration is something to be let into the heart, It is pure positive energy that lifts us up as though we were riding in a hot air balloon into a cerulean sky. Knowing someone else’s story and seeing how that person overcame obstacles, or maybe was selfless, or is someone who despite hardships still just doesn’t give up. These are the people who give us the drive to be more than we are today.
Today was one of the top ten weather days of the year. Long Island is really a special place when the sun is shining. Sometimes, like today, there is a light cool breeze that teases the air, kissing your cheeks like an old friend who is so happy to see you again. My husband and I wanted to make the most of this beautiful day, so we went to Eaton’s Neck, to walk along Hobart Beach.
During out walk we talked about many things. It was intimate and lovely. I told him all the ways he inspires me, and I’m so glad I did. It wouldn’t have happened this way had it not been for this May Challenge.
Goals are Good
Yesterday was a strangely exhausting day. I started this post last night but found that I was too tired to finish it so here we are. The May Challenge was to share a goal with someone. I shared mine with my sister on my ride to work. The thing about goals is there is a right way and a wrong way to go about them. When goals are vague they are less likely to actually happen. You have to have a plan for a goal that you really want to achieve. Here is what I know about goals
- Goals are good. They help to focus energy and effort. We all want something and a goal keeps that desire alive.
- When setting a goal be very specific. Name the goal, say when you will work on it (like the time of day), and how you will work on it (real action).
- A goal needs a deadline. A little pressure to achieve something is not always a bad thing. Just keep it in perspective.
I realize thinking back that the goal I shared with my sister didn’t meet my own criteria. It’s way harder when. goal has to do with something I don’t really want to do but I need to. The goal would benefit me and my family, but I hate the idea of doing it. It only underscores the important role attitude plays when I have to do hard things. I’ll get there, eventually. If you are feeling this way about your weight loss – don’t beat yourself up. But also… do the work reflect on why there is a block.
Today’s challenge is to listen to a favorite song. I have many favorites but lately, I’m loving this one:
It speaks to longing and reflection, and a wish to go back in time to someplace special and intimate. I kind of think about life as walking a trail – where one foot steps forward as the other lingers in the past. I know this is true for me. I am who I was and also who I am becoming.
Watching the Sunset
Perspective is a funny thing, it shapes life in ways that may be invisible to the one who sees it. It can influence the point of view in ways that are far-reaching and even mysterious. Picture a sunset in your mind. What do you see? Where I live the sun will set tonight at 7:52 pm est. Since I live in Long Island I associate sunsets with beaches and suburbia. If you live somewhere tropical, what with the heat of the day and heavy humidity, you might think of disarming, vivid colors. While another person living in the mountains might think of the sun setting amidst the peaks and valleys, with its light sliding down a slope of trees and rock. An urban sunset is so very different than a pastoral setting. Even though it’s the same sunset it is experienced so differently depending on where you are in the world in the moment.
Your progress on your weight loss journey is dependent on where you are in the world right now. How you see it is influenced by what you know – and we all know the stories we tell ourselves are quite powerful. If your weight loss journey is kind of a bummer, because of how you’ve always seen things. Change your perspective, and tell yourself a new story.
What’s Your Why?
Today is the first day of the #MayChallenge and today’s mission is an important one: “Write your why…” I’m not sure how many times I have written this (but here goes again) a weight loss journey takes a whole lot of effort and care! I know, for sure, I’m not alone on this. Given that weight loss is so challenging for so many of us there has to be a good reason why anyone would want to take it on.
Before I tell you my why, I want to tell you a story first. I was having lunch with a close friend who is also losing weight. She told me that she and her husband went out to dinner with a few other couples the other night. Everyone was eating and drinking, and she was feeling left out of the fun. One of her friends said to her, “Don’t you think you should just enjoy your life? You’re older now, and you’ll never be the size you were when you were younger. Wouldn’t it be better just to be happy now, instead of being miserable and missing out?” After my friend told me her story, she asked me what I thought.
I imagined her feeling neglected at the dinner, and I said, “It depends on what you really want. If you want to lose weight then there is no reason you shouldn’t have that. If your extra weight isn’t impacting your health, and you are happy with how you feel about yourself insofar as your mobility, and appearance; then (if all those things are yes) maybe she is right.”
Knowing why weight loss matters to you is an essential thing. I know why I want to lose weight. My why helped me through the hardest part of this latest chapter of my weight loss journey, it helped me gather the energy to start the process again. Yes again… I got to goal and then Lifetime before COVID. After months of lockdown, without being able to go to Spin class, or being able to attend in-person Weight Watcher meetings, I slowly (and steadily) put on weight. Working from home was consuming, and food was a comfort during some scary times.
No, I didn’t put on all of my lost weight. However, I certainly gained way too much. In the aftermath of all of that, I could have given up on weight loss. I could have just accepted the fact that I would never be like I was when I was younger, and I could get along being “good enough” for my older self. The reason I didn’t is because I really understand why I am doing this. I am doing this for me. Life feels better when I’m healthier. I am happy with where I’m at right now, I have energy and I see myself progressing. I think at any stage in life, it is human nature to aspire to learn and grow. I don’t have to be at goal to be happy with myself. I’m happy right now because I know I already have everything I need to be successful.
As I end this post, I can’t help but think of Rose. She is a fellow member of my Weight Watcher community. How do I describe her, so you might know her a little bit? Rose is a mature stylish woman. She is so funny and pokes fun at us and herself. She is living her life on her own terms, challenging herself in ways that are both wise and inspiring. When I think about loving myself enough to do this, she comes to mind because she lives by example.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”–Martin Luther King Jr. 1960