How to Break Through the Cycle of Not Following Through.
Hello Love, Arlene Readers!
It has been a technically challenging week. That challenge is still working me over to see if I’ve got the stamina for wonderful, fantastic technology. You see, I transferred my website from wordpress.com to wordpress.org so that I will be able to offer my readers better viewing formats in the months to come. But my blog subscribers (you) did not get to come with me.
Some of you re-subscribed only to be lost again.
Please subscribe one more time. It’s going to start getting really fun around here and I don’t want you to miss it. I promise you won’t be booted out again. Just look for the CONFIRM SUBSCRIPTION email in your INBOX OR SPAM and click CONFIRM FOLLOW. (And perhaps put me on your safe list so we can chant at the top of our lungs “Take that Spam! Boo Spam! Booyah!”
Warning: This post is long. No way to sweeten that up. But you are going to want to read all the way to the end as I have a surprise for you and it’s going to be stunning, spine-tingling and spectacular. (Do ya think I used a thesaurus here for the word amazing?)
Let’s do it.
Every now and then I like to sit back and look at where I’ve come from, what I’ve overcome and what’s next on the path.
Here’s the path.
After high school, attended music theatre performance, age 17, 199 lbs. Hilarious how we remember all of our exact weights and their association with defining moments. The number 199 was also important as I remember swearing to myself I’d never let it get to the point where I was in the 200 club. It was as if the 99 kept me safe and still ‘ok’.
Most common comments I remember from my acting and delivery “teacher”: “Your voice is great but I wouldn’t hire you because of how you look in tights or a leotard.” or, “Why is it that the pretty ones can’t sing and vice versa?”
Took it upon myself to get down to about 170 lbs and found I had a nice hour glass figure and somewhat of an easier time buying clothing-was a standard size 13/14 and could shop in ‘normal’ stores. For the teacher it bothered the most at school, “Doesn’t she look great now?” Sure, sure. Except she is so terrified to get on stage and really give it her all for fear it is her body that will be noticed first.
A few years after graduating, went back to University as I always wanted my degree and was a bit of a browner in high school. Bingo. I’ll study Nutrition and Dietetics. “If I know what to do, surely I will want to ‘do it’”. For years later, excellent student, graduated with honours, weight-status quo give or take a few pounds. Wait, scratch that, I weighed about 180. I knew I’d remember.
Started a weight loss program where you buy all your food and get weighed in weekly. I admitted to the counsellor that I was an RD but just wanted meals already prepared for me that were in line with what I needed calorically. She was an RD too. I don’t know if she really agreed with my reason for being there but was quite supportive.
Met the man of my dreams to move things along and hit 163! The lowest I’d been since I don’t know when. When I went to by the wedding dress, I perfectly and I mean perfectly fit the size 13. The tailor at the store told me not to gain one pound or it wouldn’t fit.
I gained 4 and one week before the wedding, they had to do an emergency add-in of extra material in the back. I got a stern look boy oh boy but they did it.
For the first few years of my marriage I remained 30-40 lbs overweight and had no idea what my body fat percentage was and didn’t even think about it as part of my issue. Even though, remember, I should have known better, I was an RD for crying out loud.
After some difficult and traumatic experiences with pregnancies, I had a gorgeous son and daughter and weighed 230 lbs. I was tired, bored, in the throws of things with raising small children and telling myself every day that tomorrow would be better. I meant that in terms of how I was handling the complete 180 degree turn of working to being a stay at home mom, keeping my sanity and making better food choices. When not being able to tinkle uninterrupted as being the ‘norm’, the daily Dairy Milk became the norm too. So did a second one. And the burger and fries for dinner. Or a few handfuls of chocolate chips.
So what happened? How did I transform into who I am today?
I ultimately decided it all had to be different. All the statements, excuses, meal plans and promises to self were not working.
But it was overwhelming. How could I be that person, one day, who no longer felt trapped by the excuses of time or not longer had the will or the energy to change?
I asked myself to be BRUTALLY honest. What is one thing I could do? Because trying everything is taking me to the convenience store for more Dairy Milk. The answer came back to me. I could walk. You know the story-for those of you that have been following please bear with me as I feel something about the walking is worth repeating.
I walked. I did so because it felt do-able, repeatable, not painful and no one was watching. It was the ONE action I really felt at the time, I could commit to on a daily basis. And so I began.
And I maintain that by following this DOING script and not the KNOWING WHAT I ‘SHOULD’ DO story, I was led to my next click or desire or will to take another item and commit to that.
The next click, by the way, ultimately hit me at around the 28 day mark of walking. If you will recall, I opted to give running a go for about 30 seconds. Didn’t like it-still don’t love it. But, the fact was and is, that a part of the cerebral cortex of the brain acknowledges or registers success. It does not measure whether it was big or small-our ego does that. But the brain’s reward system loves, loves, loves all sizes of success. It would be foolish not to judge the impact one success has on your ability to then take on another! I felt so alive and successful with walking, that the desire to run was a hint of me being ready for another step.
For me, it was to begin the, at first terrifying commitment of seeing a therapist on a weekly basis. What would I even say? I don’t do therapy. Or do I? Hands down-best, most loving gift, I EVER…EVER GAVE TO MYSELF. I went of course wanting to explore why it was that I couldn’t lose weight. Why didn’t I want to do the work? Why was it so hard for me? Why aren’t I doing it if I know what to do?
If you are in the hands of a good therapist as I know I was, he or she is listening to the language you use and stops you well before you think you have explained your predicament. I had to let myself be in the mud with that for quite a while in order to wade out of it but I am a happier, more grounded person for it. If I had to describe what therapy did for me in a nutshell, I would say that it allowed me to be aware of when I’m responding or behaving in my ‘automatic pilot’ mode and make choices from there. And I am not talking about food choices at all. Read that last line again.
I am talking about how I internally would react when a parent or acquaintance said something that irked me. Or how I would imagine a conversation going down and then reacting emotionally to it without the conversation even going down yet. Or better yet, when I felt disrespected or not respected enough, wholly rather, for who I already was. Therapy was a process to peel back the layers of an onion and reveal what was really underneath-who I really wanted to be, how I wanted to respond, what I was and was not willing to put up with anymore. Not easy stuff. Not Hollywood. Oh so gratifying and useful to this day.
I still think about moments I have presently that I am hard on myself for not being more. My cherished friend and health coach, Simone Sinclaire, had much to do with the ongoing re-framing I use for this issue on a daily basis. My wise therapist pointed out that you may resolve a certain issue as it relates to certain situations in your life only find it rears its head once again in new or different situations. That’s why the awareness of how you are reacting is a skill to learn and strengthen. Instead of focusing on the one or two things I didn’t manage to accomplish and judging myself harshly for ‘failing’, the Shapeshifter has also opened my thoughts to accept that I’m the best version of me right now, always looking to seek out the next best version of me.
There is a big difference here in how one treats themselves when they truly internalize Simone’s guidance I am hard on myself in a way I’d never be with my children. I’m their biggest cheerleader when they try something new, uncomfortable and clumsy. I praise them when they studied in advance with commitment and good practice and earned whatever mark they got. I applauded the once klutzy cartwheel my daughter used to endlessly do- never once thinking it was nowhere near what a cartwheel should look like. Who cares? Now I marvel that with ongoing cartwheels whenever she can, she is the cartwheel guru. Perfectly straight legs that 7 year olds everywhere envy. She gets compliments from other mothers, friends and on-lookers. Because, yes, she still cartwheels in her spare time. Everywhere. And, she was not hard on herself during the process. Not a once.
Ok, where were we? Throughout that process, I discovered eating clean and women transforming their bodies at the age of 39 and beyond! I was interested. But I didn’t get all gung ho and exclaim, “This must be the diet I have been looking for. If I just follow this…”
I asked myself again. What are you really, really willing to do with this new information? REEAAAAALLLY. “I am willing to make one meal from that there clean recipe magazine.”, came the answer loud and clear.
The meal was oh so yummy. My husband liked it. I liked it. I tried another recipe. I read about some women whom just emptied their cupboards of junk and only brought clean eats into the house. I liked the idea of that somewhat. I was not ready to try that.
A few more recipes, a bit more reading led to studying fitness magazines that were extremely encouraging. Not the magazines that show you bicep curls with 5 lb dumbbells. But those with serious routines that if followed actually brought results.
Yet again, “What do you see Arlene? Who is it you want to be? What do you want?” I’d like a lean, muscular physique. I don’t know if I can do it all at the same time though-it overwhelms me. Being prepared with foods on the go, eating incredibly clean, lifting, cardio-how am I supposed to do it all??
“I don’t have to,” came the reply. I just need to cut out this one page with this one workout from this one workout magazine and try it. That’s enough. I’ll have to figure out each exercise, where the machines are, make sure I have good form and be prepared to feel that nothing will have drastically changed. Except that I will have had one workout down which is one more than I’ve done.
I went late at night, at 830 pm when my children were sleeping and told myself that if I didn’t like it after 10 minutes, I could leave. (I still use that one on myself and it still relieves me to know I always have this choice. For the record, I acted on it once when I was so not feelin’ it and gave it a full 10 minutes then said sayonora to the gym. Once.)
I felt it somewhat the next day. I decided I’d try the next routine in the series-just one more workout-could leave anytime. Weeks passed and before I knew it I had completed 6 weeks of training, three times per week. I don’t think anybody noticed any change but I felt eerily different. Lighter, more together, compact, with it, energized. And Arlene saw it and it was good.
Now what do you want to do Arlene? “Well, I’d love to see what happens if I just tighten up my diet by about 150 Calories”. I was an awesome calorie counter. Just for a few days. “Let’s try three days.”.
Fast forward to making enough of these small changes to eating 5-6 times per day and getting my weight down to about 163 lbs.
I took a full time job that was downtown where I had to wake at 5 am and was typically home by about 730-8 pm. Awesome food courts and restaurants everywhere! At first, I was bringing my meals with me but as the stress of work got to me and just wanting to plop down on the sofa or race home to see my kids, I opted to eat out a little bit more. That is, until my weight started to creep back up.
I didn’t like the habits I was forming… again. More importantly, I did not like who my company was asking I’d be, everyday, in my position. It went against everything I believe in and practice in terms of work ethics, appropriate behaviour in the workplace and social responsibility.
I decided I would not let that place be an excuse for eating more at the food court or picking up something at the subway station for the ride home.
If I did eat at the food court-I was REAL about portion sizes and not using the old, “well, at least it’s healthy.”
Hear ye, hear ye. NO FOOD OR MEAL IS HEALTHY IF YOU EAT MORE THAN YOU NEED. End of story.
So, I portioned off the meal and saved the other half for a mid-afternoon snack. Same food but ingested in portions that my body has a chance to digest and utilize for energy as opposed to store as energy because I just didn’t need all that food at once. Get it???
I started bringing food to work again and brought it down to the food court. I needed to get away from my desk but not end up in excess salt and hidden fat-ville all the time. I ate my lunch and walked the underground shopping path (the one awesome benefit of working downtown) at a good clip until it was time to return back to my fabulous job.
I was torn. I always worked late and if I stayed to work out at the company’s fitness centre, which we could only use before or after regular work hours, I’d arrive home at 10 pm and miss my kids’ bedtime. If I went home and just made their bedtime, I didn’t know if I’d have the mental strength to journey to the basement and exercise.
What did I really want? Something in between that I could feasibly do, was the truthful answer. I decided that since I usually arrived early, instead of getting a head start on the day’s work, I’d move my body on a machine for 20 minutes. Then after work, I’d work one or two body parts with weights which allowed me to git ‘er done in half an hour.
I continued to lose weight and then contemplated whether I wanted to continue working twelve hours a day in a particular environment while catching my kids for 45 minutes in the evening.
Let’s stop there for now. There is so much more to the journey and it never stops really. It just keeps twisting and turning.
But what is most important here? Does any of this sound familiar to you? Maybe a different story setting, outline, event timeline etc, but the thoughts, the emotions, the struggle?
For those of you who replied to me on Facebook that time was an issue as well as ease of food courts, or that it is hard to sacrifice delicious rich foods…please, drink in these next few words slowly and an open heart.
1. How’s the whole, “I know what I should do, I just have to do it. ‘Cuz when I do it, I lose weight” working for you and your life?
2. Were you thorough and real about answering the first question or did you rush to this one? Think about it some more.
3. My two cents re: question 1 for what it’s worth: I knew what to do too. I was/am a Registered Dietitian for crying out loud!
4. Would you like me to coach you in a free, 3 day challenge to start your own, IT’S NEVER TOO LATE journey? It would involve the following: (Note: even if you don’t take part in the challenge, you can still try this!)
Three Tips Break Through the Cycle of Not Following Through.
Choose ONE action only that you are going to commit to for 3 days. ONE THING YOU HEAR ME? And then let go of all of the following thoughts:
“But if I do it at this rate, it will take me one hundred years to lose weight”
~Not true and I don’t have that kind of time for you!
“No, no, I just want to skip to the part where I’m super motivated and just do this. I know what to do!”
~I ask you again, “how has that business plan worked out for you so far?”
Tip Number 1: Do things that save you time, not add to your already hectic day:
Bring one snack to work that you will honour your body and self by eating. or,
Ask for a to go container and automatically split your food court meal in half and eat other half at least 3 hours later or next day for lunch? (Hello money saver!!!!!!!), or
Take a protein bar or rice cakes and nut butter to keep in your desk if you feel like you have the munchies at 3 pm
Browse through clean eating websites to find 1 recipe that is a healthier version but similar to the way you already eat. (Try http://thegraciouspantry.com as a starting place!)
Tip Number 2: Exercise. Try it for 5 minutes. Seriously.
Climb up and down your stairs for 60 seconds, five different times throughout the day. Stop judging or thinking that it’s not enough.
Tour on your treadmill while reading your Kindle/Kobo or e-book.
Blast music with headphones while the kids are napping and dance your freakin’ face off? For five minutes.
Tip Number 3: Not following through long enough to see desired results.
Commit to letting yourself be uncomfortable for 3 days. While staying on track, be uncomfortable and observe yourself. Make a note in your smart phone of any feelings, resentments that come up even though the devil on your shoulder is saying, “Come on, this is fine. You’ve done enough. Celebrate.”
It takes 21 days to start to feel comfortable with a new habit. 28 days to really seal the deal. I’m asking you for 3 days to start.
I know you can do this for 3 days and I’m willing to support you and hold you accountable!
If you really want to break through the cycle of not following through when it comes to your health goals, here’s what I want you to do. It’s simple.
1. Subscribe to my blog. There is a box in the top right hand corner of this page just waiting for you to enter your best e-mail.
2. Look for the confirm subscription e-mail from me: firstname.lastname@example.org in your INBOX OR SPAM and click Confirm Follow
3. Send me an e-mail at email@example.com or via the contact form above and let me know if you are interested in this easy 3 day challenge.
Here’s the deal. If I get 8 people interested, I will run it!
I’ll fill you in on the simple rules of the challenge once I hear from you.
Again, if you are not interested in the challenge but have thought about this and are going to start with one item, please tweet me to tell me about it!!! There is a link to follow me on twitter just over there to the right!
Transformations are way different than weight loss. Weight loss is just one of the benefits but man, (woman), do I ever want you to see for yourself.
I await your emails and Tweets!