Being Kind To Myself: A Quick How-to Guide

I think we would all agree being kind to ourselves is a good idea. Many of us really don’t have an idea what that means, how to do it, or if its even possible.  I am telling you its not as hard as you think and it is completely possible. It takes practice and deliberate action like most change we want to make in our lives.

Here is my quick guidIMG_5721e to being kind to YOU:

1. Be aware of your inner monologue.

Our inner monologue is so much a part of who we are we some times don’t even take notice. Start noticing. You can try jotting down thoughts as you have them (I am not talking about the ones that remind you to pick up cookie butter the next time you go to the store :)  ). I am talking about the thoughts that tell you that you are ugly, imperfect, not worth while, you don’t deserve to be here, your thighs are too big, your stomach is gross, your face is weird.  THOSE are the things we want to notice.

Hear those same words but picture saying them to you as a small child or one of your good friends.  Its different isn’t it? We can be mean to us as we view ourselves today but yelling that shit to a more innocent,dependent us is a different story. To be in the face of some one we love and telling them all those things would be unthinkable. I am telling you learn for it to be unthinkable for it to talk to yourself that way.

2. Pause. Make a different choice.

There are a couple of different things that I have tried here.

  1. Geenen Roth and Tara Brach, two teachers who have influenced my life in a big way,  often suggest saying “Oh Sweetheart”.  You could try touching your heart or lightly touching your face to offer some grace and kindness. Can you imagine a better way to offer some kindness when you are feeling not good enough, when you are suffering?
  2. Replace it with a positive mantra. Sayings I have used are: I am ok exactly the way that I am in this moment. I am enough. I know what to do.  I am worthy. Awake and alive.  I know it might sound hokey but I feel like positive mantras give your brain a new pathway to build and believe in. Repeating the mantra allows that path to strengthen and grow.
  3. Act as if you did love yourself. If you can’t find a way to be kind, then think about how it would be if you did completely love yourself in this moment. How would you act? What might you say? What ever that is, if its kind and loving, then do that.  Some times we have to fake it until we make it.

3. Practice again and again and again.  It doesn’t matter how many times you forget, it only matters that you remember and come back. This stuff takes work and practice. You can’t fail here. You just get more opportunities to practice. I promise it gets better and easier.

What Do You Have Against People Who Want to Lose Weight?

Some one asked me the other day “what do you have against people who want to lose weight?”
Nothing. Honestly. Nothing at all. I am happy to support a person in what ever goals that want to achieve.

What I am against is:

  • Diet and deficit eating as a lifestyle, because we have been taught that happiness is never found in the body you currently have.
  • People waiting to live their life until the scale gives them that magic number that they have been wanting…only to find the only thing it means is that they are still them selves only now they weigh a certain amount.
  • Believing that it is wrong to take up space, to be the size we are, to be who we are.
  • Exercise as a punishment or penance for something eaten.
  • Diets that are not maintainable for life, that make us feel like the crazy one for failing again.
  • Dieting that puts food and the scale as the whole focus of your life and every thing else is secondary to that.

What I love is:

  • Taking care of yourself because you believe you are worth taking care of
  • Exercise and movement because your body needs it and you have found some thing that brings you joy
  • Finding a way of eating that supports your goals, makes you feel good, increases health and is delicious
  • Learning to love who you are and figuring out that it doesn’t mean complacency, it means peace, kindness and care.
  • Figuring who you are and what you love in life beyond gym time and food
  • Eating what you want when you are hungry and feeling what you feel when you are not.

That is what is important to me. That is what I want to share with more people.

 

If you feel the same or want to learn more about this way of thinking and living, come join me on 4/25/2015. For details and tickets check out : www.peacefulbodyproject.com

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Morning Ritual: How to Set Your Self Up for a Better Day

One significant practice I have found for being happier and more peaceful on a daily basis  is deliberately choosing my attitude and thoughts in the morning.

I have talked on here before that my first thoughts upon waking used to be disgust with my body. I would automatically touch my stomach and then stumble in to the bathroom to the scale all the while mumbling about how I didn’t want to be up. I already had my mind working on how I suck and how my day already sucks. (This was just the first five minutes of my day!) It is no wonder I have struggled so much with depression. I wasn’t even giving myself a fighting chance to have some peace and happiness.

Through physical reminders (post-its, signs, phone alerts) and lots of practice, I am able to start my day differently. My Post-it on my bathroom mirror reminds me to:

IMG_6982

  1. Decide to make today great. I know that it sounds like a cheesy self help line but there is truth in it. The power is in our hands, our minds. I am deliberate about viewing the day in a positive light.
  2. Get out of my head. Thoughts begin pouring in our brains first thing. It’s a reminder for me to pause, be present and allow the thoughts to slip by and not whip me into a distracted frenzy.
  3. Think of three things. The three things could be  how I have enough in my life right now or three things I am grateful for or three ways my life is amazing right now. It’s all flavors of the same train of thought. It puts me in a mindset of appreciation, gratitude and enough-ness. The more you pay attention to these kinds of things the more you see it in your life.

Of course my favorite sign is this:

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If I can remember this each morning then my attitude is set and the day is better. :)

Like any change, setting a positive mental state for the day takes time and deliberate action. I don’t always just wake up awesome but with a little practice I can usually get there. :)

What do you do to set yourself up to be awesome each day?

 

The Scariest Question I was Ever Asked

“Would you be ok if you never lost another pound in your life?”

my fitness/nutrition coach asked me during a phone meeting one day.

The initial reaction

Oh fuck. I felt it down into my stomach. I wanted to throw up. I even felt a little shaky and started to sweat a little. I couldn’t even articulate an answer to her for a few moments. Honestly, I could hardly even breathe.

No!! I am not ok. I have weight I have to lose!!! This isn’t my happy weight!! How could I give it up? Losing weight has been my obsession as long as I can remember. Since I was told I could pinch more than an inch. Since I realized I was bigger than my friends and my sisters who were tiny. Since a boyfriend told me that I had a bit of  a belly. Since some one yelled “fat girl” at me when was out running one day. Since I was told by a dietician in middle school that cottage cheese and fruit makes a great treat (TREAT?! Seriously?!) Since I knew deep in my core that I didn’t look like the girls in the magazines. Since depression forced me to the only self care I knew – food – and soon I was bursting out of increasingly larger clothes sizes.

I even hired this coach originally in hope that she would encourage (um..make) me to do a figure competition so that once and for all I would buckle down and lose all this weight. That I could finally be ripped (lots of muscles, little fat) and BE HAPPY. I was convinced it is where happiness was. My whole identity was tied to that actually. I planned my days and my life around the concept that being super lean would make me happy.

Deeper consideration

But is that where happiness is?

Would I be ok if I never lost another pound in my life? (breathe. breathe. breathe.)

I am in a happy marriage with a great friend and partner.  My daughter is happy and healthy.  I am in good health.  I have a good relationship with my family.  I have an amazing set of friends (honestly, I am floored by the people I get to be surrounded by).  I get to lift weights regularly (I love it so!).  My cats are little rays of joy (most of the time!) .  I am educated. I am free to make choices about my life.  I have regular time in nature. I get to learn things all the time. I laugh a lot.  My stress is low. I have practiced mindfulness enough that I take some regularly to pause and appreciate the small day to day things around me in life that are stunning.

It actually bows me over in heart-filled gratitude when I think about how ok I am in ways that have nothing to do with what I weigh.

I don’t know what I answered her at the time. I probably mumbled an obligatory “yeah” as I thought I should.

How I use that question now

I love the journey that the one question took me on.  The pause it made me take in my life and continues to make me take. There are days of course when I still get all wrapped around the axel about weight and body image things. This questions helps me pause and take stock of my life and ground myself in the reality of how beautiful life really is when you stop to take it all in.  The answer for me is always YES now even if I occasionally forget that.

Its not even that I have given up on all body composition goals as I do still have those.  I realize, however, that my happiness in life is NOT tied to the weight on the scale.

I wanna know…

How about you? Would you be ok if you never lost another pound in your life? How does that make you feel? What might that realization change for you?

 

Appreciating the …Everything

Do you ever have that moment where you have the realization that one day every thing around you will change?  The bed you wake up in, the way you make coffee in the morning, the routine of your day, the drive you take to work or to the gym, the people you talk and interact with on a daily or at least frequent basis. I originally titled this post Appreciating the Mundane as recently I have really been considering that every thing I do during the day that will one day be different.

That consideration made me not want to leave out the big things either. I am lucky enough to still have both of my parents, my sisters, my best friend from childhood, my husband and my daughter (in addition to all the other amazing people in my life).  One day that will not be the case.  That realization makes me want to cling to all of them so tightly and never let go in hopes that it will never change and they will never leave.

Change, however, is the one certainty in life.  We come with an expiration date. These bodies that we have will change.  Moods and emotions change. Relationships change. Our children grow up. Catastrophic things happen and then pass. The best moments of our lives arise and pass.

Rather than giving in to the anxiety of the change that happens in life, I practice breathing, appreciating and being the in moment.  I don’t know what is coming next but I do know what’s in front of me right now.  I want to savor and enjoy all of it. Every. Single. Ordinary. Extraordinary. Piece. I lose out if I let my thoughts drift to worry about it all changing or remembering how it used to be.  I want this present moment to be as deep and rich as I allow it to be.

BreatheSavorEnjoy-2

The Slow, Unsexy Sure-Fire Way to Success

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

This has been my mantra recently.
I am convinced it is what leads to success at most things. In a world where we want a quick fix, magic pill and everything NOW, it can be really challenging. It is not sexy either. It does work though. You are what you do every day. Change will happen.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

I am 42 and want to compete as a weightlifter. I have a coach, good programming and I know what to work on. I show up at the gym regularly and do the work. Slowly things are changing. One kilo at a time, one inch of technique refinement practiced again and again. Change will happen.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

I want to make some body composition changes. I figure out a great way to do it that does not put me back in the restrict and binge cycle. I figure out how I can eat for the rest of my life and then watch my body change. Not over night, a little at time. A pound a time. Oh man. I want it to be faster. Some times it agonizing at this pace. How successful will I be if I keep looking for the next sure-fire plan? I am doing the right things one meal at a time, one day at a time. Change will happen.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

Patience and consistency.

I know I am some times mean to myself. My inner voice can be cutting, shaming, critical. I want to change that. I build awareness and I start to make different choices in how I talk to myself. I am deliberate and I practice often. Change will happen. I am kinder more often. I catch myself and make a different choice. My inner world gets kinder, better. It makes me kinder, better to the world around me.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

I want to grow my business so that I can help others connect with peace, happiness and health. I find good mentors to learn from. I implement changes. I am honest and authentic and I put my message out here regularly. I learn what is working and what isn’t and adjust accordingly. I try new things when I fail. I keep taking steps. Keep moving forward. Progress is made. Change is happening. Its not over night and it maybe small. Maybe one person at a time but the community grows and more people connect with peace, happiness and health.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

My Inner Voice is a Bitch

Does any of this narrative sound familiar?

Why would you think you could do THAT?

Who do you think you are?

You are just going to fail AGAIN.

Of course, you are bingeing again. You will never be different.

Ouch. What a bitch. I wouldn’t let any person talk to me that way.  Why do I allow myself?

How aware of you of the voice the chatters in your head all day long? In what manner does it speak to you? Is it kind and encouraging? I am guessing for many people the answer is no. That voice can be mean, ugly, shaming, berating and complaining.

I know for years that inner voice kept me feeling not good enough. Its what kept my identity tied to the number on the scale and the size of my jeans. It is what never allowed me to acknowledge any kind of success and kept me from trying things that I wanted to try. It kept me small and didn’t like me playing bigger in the world than it thought I “should”.

It is this self talk that keeps us small. It is a barrier to living life we love fully and being exactly how amazing we need to be in the world.

Here are some steps to shut that bitch down:

1. Recognize and Acknowledge it.  Start tuning into it (this is different than listening to it!) and increase your awareness of how often and what kind of messages you are getting.

2. Separate yourself from it.  I learned this part from Geneen Roth’s work. She just refers to this inner monologue as “The Voice”.  Separating yourself from it means that instead of hearing – “I am not good enough, what makes me think I could do this?”, you begin to hear it as “YOU are not good enough. What makes you think You could do this?” As if some one is yelling at you directly.  For me, this allows some space and clarity about what is going on and I can hear the voice more clearly.

(Edit: I had a comment once I posted this blog where some one told me that “I have learned that I am not my inner voice.”  YES!! So much Yes!! I need to make it clear here that you are NOT this voice. It is years of conditioning and responding to the world that created this voice. You are what is underneath all of this – the kindness, love and amazingness that shows through when this voice is quieted. Its the other reason that learning separation from this highly critical inner voice, so you can get in touch and hear the person that you really are.  )

3. Shut it down.  Geneen talks about telling it (actually YELLING at it) to shut the fuck up. Be as mean to it as it is to you. This needs to be a constant and relentless practice as this voice chatters at us all the time. The more you shut it down and don’t allow it to invade your brain, the more you will be able to stand against it.

That voice has been with us a long time so this practice takes time but it is so worth it.

Why is this worth your time?

Because this voice keeps you playing small. It makes you believe you can never change or be different. It makes you feel like you are not enough as you are. That you are  not enough to:

  • go do what you want to do
  • to speak up
  • to allow for self care
  • for a good relationship
  • for care and love for yourself and others
  • LIVE THE LIFE THAT YOU LOVE

When you can quiet this voice, you can hear what is beyond that. Your power, your passion and energy. Your worth.

“Oh yeah, I do feel afraid to try this but I know I want to so lets go!”

“I am worth that new opportunity that I am getting at work.”

“This person is not treating me well and I don’t deserve that.”

“Wow. I need a break and I am going to take a few minutes today for myself.”

Quiet that voice down and find who you are under that.

Quiet that voice down and find who you are under that.

You can feel the fear and take action. That inner voice is not who you truly are. Change does not come from shaming and berating ourselves. When you can shut down this voice, there is FINALLY room for patience and kindness towards yourself.

For me now, I can tune into this chatter more quickly and I can shut it down.  Other times, I only recognize it when I feel less than, not worthy or afraid to try something, then I pause and think oh yeah – the voice.  That bitch. Shut up.

Now go! Be amazing! :D

It’s time to #breakthebinge

(guest post from Julie Stubblefield)

Dieting.  We’ve all done it.  We’ve all hated it.  Yet, we keep going back for more.  Despite feeling unworthy, unsuccessful, and unvalidated in the process, dieting is the most-accepted form of self-abuse.

There.  I said it.  Dieting is self-abuse.  What’s scarier is that it is not only accepted, but expected.  Care to take a walk on the dark side with me?

Let me tell you a story of a girl and her friend.  

They spend a lot of time together.  But this girl’s friend is a bit overbearing.  Just when the girl feels like she is being successful, the friend shoots her down.  Just when the girl feels like she is making positive changes in her life, her friend abruptly tells her she can’t.  And when the girl is feeling particularly vulnerable, the friend reminds her of all her failures, pouring salt into the wound.  Even though the friend is more critical than supportive, the girl stays close, keeping her in her daily life.

Upon first glance, we would see this as a pretty dysfunctional relationship.  Why would this girl continue to let this friend in her life?  Who would want to be treated that way?  Who could tolerate it on a daily basis?

The girl is me.  The girl is you.  The friend?  It’s the diet.

Put the word “diet” in place of “friend” in the story above.  Ouch.

We choose to keep ourselves in a nasty relationship with dieting.  We allow ourselves to feel like utter shit when we don’t achieve a goal.  We know what will happen at the end of every diet…self-loathing, disappointment, and frustration.  We blame ourselves.  We think we can’t succeed.  We feel like we are undeserving of changing our bodies.  We are drawn to diets, because we think they are to answer to happiness, the solution to smaller waists, the key to gratification.  Even when we know how we feel when we are on them, what happens when we end them, we keep going back for more.

We are abusing ourselves with dieting.  

If you knew a friend was married to a guy who only let her eat certain foods, required her to workout a certain number of hours per week, and made her feel awful when she couldn’t follow the rules, you would tell her to leave his ass!

If you knew a friend was dating someone who belittled her, made her feel like a failure, and made her cry on a regular basis, you would tell her it’s not a good relationship.

Can you see the similarities here?  These flaws, these restrictions, these rules of dieting put us in a cycle of emotional and physical damage.  Women face this daily.  And we expect this to be how we change our bodies.

Statistics:

What’s fascinating is that 68% of people regain what is lost on a diet within 3 years.  Even more startling is that only about 5% of those who achieve results in a crash diet will maintain the change. {sourced from livestrong.com}

Do you fit into either of those statistics?

Re-read this:  68% regain within 3 years.  There is no specific diet being isolated as being the troublesome one (though I could list a dozen).  Dieting as a generalized term is the problem.

The Cycle:

  • Feel guilty about health and/or physique
  • Go on a diet to change it
  • Follow the rules as long as possible
  • Eat a food not on the list because the diet is unrealistic
  • Feel guilty about the food
  • Possibly eat more
  • Feel more guilt and possibly shame
  • Repeat the cycle (sometimes this happens daily, weekly, monthly)

We stand up in outrage when we see women struggling with external relationships we can see, we stand up to be able to breastfeed in public, we stand up to help moms deal with depression.

Why the hell can’t we see what we are doing to ourselves?  Why are we continuing this cycle?

Because we think there is no other way.

Breaking the Cycle:

  • Stop counting.   Fill your body with great food.  When you put protein, veggies, fruits, and fats in your body, the calories will take care of themselves…every time.
  • Make your own rules.  Screw the status quo.  Eat more of what makes you feel good, less of what doesn’t.  Does eating early in morning make you feel worse?  Then don’t.
  • Slow down.  We want fast results, like yesterday.  Making your own rules takes time.  And if you want to break the cycle, you have to be willing to take the time to listen to YOUR body.
  • Lighten up.  We make dieting so serious!  And when we struggle, it gets even more so.  Find humor in mistakes.  Find a way to laugh.  Find a way to enjoy the process.
  • Give yourself compassion.  This is probably the most difficult one.  Know that you are doing the best you can each day, and that truly is enough!  The results will come in time.
It’s time to stand up for ourselves.
It’s time to stop abusing ourselves with diets.
It’s time to #breakthebinge.

If you are ready to break your binge, you don’t have to do it alone.

Julie

My awesome friend Julie!! Check out here program! http://bit.ly/1Dl1gkV

 This week’s blog post is a a guest post written by my good friend Julie Stubblefield of Fit Mom Revolution. She has been featured on Zen Barbell before and is one of the women who I am working with to put on an in person event in 2015 talking about the exact topic that she writes about here (I am excited! Its going to be wonderful!) Julie is passionate about helping women breaking the binge cycle and ending the diet mindset. You can check out here program here:  

There is Room for All of Us to Shine

 

There is enough here for all of us toI truly believe that there is room for all of us to shine. Another person’s success does not have to take away from mine. My success doesn’t take away from other people’s accomplishments. Even if I am doing something exactly as some one else – weightlifting, coaching, writing, whatever – we can be competitive together, we can challenge each other, some one can even be better but at the end of the day, I am on my journey and they are on theirs and we can both shine. We can both grow, learn, help, be bold, be ourselves, be present, work – SHINE!

I don’t have to demean, insult, gossip about other people because they have success. It only lessens my shine.

There is enough success, opportunity, connection, challenge, LIFE for all of us to shine.

So just a little reminder when you feel yourself closing down, tearing down another, feeling that resentment of another’s success, pause for a moment and realize there is enough for all of us to shine. When you realize that see how it changes your perspective on your situation, your success. Let me know what you think.

#shineon
#loveyourlife
#awakeandalive

2014 Reflection

Wow. What a year.

Weightlifting:

  • 5 weightlifting competitions
  • Started a Barbell Club for women
  • Attended a Masters Olympic weightlifting camp at the Olympic Training Center
  • Completed my USAW weightlifting performance coach certification
  • Met some of lifting heros – Jon North, Travis Mash, Donny Shankle, Cara Heads Slaughter
  • Attended the American Open
  • Started the year with Outlaw Barbell programming, Ended it with joining the Dark Orchestra Online team and getting my program from Jared Enderton
  • Got an Eleiko Barbell

IMG_5485Music: Saw Justin Timberlake, Weezer, Neil Finn and Queen with Adam Lambert, the Legwarmers

Learned a ton about movement the Train Like A Girl seminar weekend, Darkside strength, Juggernaut Training systems, Original Strength.

Decided to stop coaching CrossFit, Being a part of a TEAM of women for Mudderella, Rugged Maniac, Strong(wo)man camp, Paddleboarding, float tank, shooting a gun, an engagement, a new tattoo, going with friends to get their tattoos,a tattoo gallery in my bathroom, family, friends… IMG_4989

Colorado, Charlottesville,Kentucky, Italy, Canada

Writing for Barbell Daily, interviews, Fit Mom Revolution feature, Women of Strength book.

Oh. And realizing I am not a broken person. That was pretty big.

IMG_5238Of course these are the highlights, you don’t hear as much about my day to day struggles – fears, ups and downs, doubts, but the year was full of those as well. Its part of life – the human condition.  I am proud of how I have grown and what I experienced in this past year. I am pretty pumped for whats ahead as well – more weightlifting, travels and tattoos.

Lets GO!!!