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Agree for Change

I’ve been wrestling with 2012 goals. I hate to call them resolutions, which are meant to be broken like diets and bad habits.

Instead I choose to think what I want to improve upon. This year I want to focus on the positive and re-write negative self-talk and behavior that have been weighing me down in more ways than one.

For at least six months a copy of The Four Agreements has laid atop the end table next to where I scribble in my journal. I’ve read the book multiple times, even writing about it here, but lately it seems to call me. So, every morning, I pull out the book and read a few pages trying to absorb some of the message: be impeccable with your word; don’t take things personally; don’t make assumptions and always do your best.

Recently, I picked up The Fifth Agreement. Be skeptical, but learn to listen. It’s taking me a while to finish the book because it seems appropriate to savor the words like a hot cup of tea with just the right amount of honey and lemon. What is beginning to crystalize is the need to really shift my paradigm of me. I’m tired of being my biggest critic.

As I thought about this and what I hoped to achieve in 2012, invariably my thoughts meandered to the time I wasted in 2011 with my yo-yo diet mentality. Instead of trying to push the negative thoughts into the shadows, I shone a light brightly, feverishly writing every nasty thought about my weight escapades I could muster. It was quite a list – embarrassing and maddening and disappointing.

Then for every negative thought, I created a positive statement to be rewritten repeatedly until it lodges into my brain. Whether rudimentary or revolutionary, the idea is not mine. The exercise came from The Artist’s Way. I’ll spare you the ranting portion, but here are the resulting positive statements:

I am beautiful inside and out.
I will limit exposure to sugar.
Taking care of my being is worth the effort.
I am strong and will achieve weight loss goals of one pound per week.

The first one really makes me squirm. I even hesitated a moment before I typed it here, but the exercise made me realize how negative I’ve become toward myself, illuminating how I’ve struggled over the last year.

In The Fifth Agreement, I’m discovering how to question the “truth” I’ve told myself, and I think I might be ready to rewrite these destructive messages in change for something more affirmative. I’m sure there will be detours, life is full of them, but acknowledging the negative and making a choice to focus on the positive has to impact the journey. Doesn’t it?

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Treats Gone Bad


I detoxed yesterday. Ate a healthy breakfast; packed healthy lunch; munched on healthy snacks.

I left work early because I had gone in early originally planning to take Russell to a doctor’s appointment, but Lyle called to tell me he had it covered. I felt pretty good until I walked into the house and kicked off my shoes in the quiet space. Cue the music.

There on the counter was a Christmas tin of yummilicous.

I can’t even use the excuse that I wasn’t expecting it when I arrived home because it had been taunting me for two days with only minimal collateral damage. But now there were no witnesses, and I would actually be doing everyone a favor by eating the items with nuts. (Lyle and Russell like nuts, but not in their cookies). I told myself I would eat just one. Poof. Gone were the two small brownies, some kind of cracker cookie, a chocolate rolled thingy, a chocolate version of a wedding cake and a macaroon (no nuts, but I really like coconut macaroons).

Thankfully, there wasn’t a huge platter of treats to mistreat.

I had to get out of the house. I remembered an errand. Good thinking except I almost stopped at the bakery for a fondant dipped cookie. Oops, close call, but it was just the thought I needed to acknowledge. Instead of turning on the internal garbage disposal and devouring everything around me, I pushed pause. Wooo Hooo.

As poor of a choice as I made, I didn’t beat myself up (or make it worse), but I also realized I didn’t want to keep mistreating myself, and that was a better treat than the one I had devoured just a few hours earlier.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Today instead of looking at things as stupid or marvelous, I searched for beauty in simplicity.

At lunch, I trekked off to Pilates. It’s always a good workout, but also centers me in ways that a spin class can’t touch.

As I thought about stupid vs. marvelous and twisted into one of the seated moves, I caught my reflection in the mirror that stretched the length of the wall. I saw a beautiful woman – not fat, garish or any of the other negative terms I often attach to my body, but someone sitting up tall taking care of her body and soul.

I have to admit there was a moment when I wondered if the Y had placed mirrors along this wall that were meant to flatter. I glanced at the woman next to me, but her reflection looked no different than what I saw in the flesh. Instead of chastising myself for thinking the likeness was not the real me, I thought about what that woman brought to my world as if we were two separate beings.

For just a moment, I looked at her in the mirror and saw me – strong, independent and yes, beautiful. I wondered why I didn’t let myself cohabitate with this woman more often, and yet wondered what might happen if I talked to her on occasion.

It’s been a long time since I looked at my reflection and saw the real person. After first losing 100 pounds, the mirror image looked strange, foreign, unreal. From time to time reality and reflection converged, but quickly splintered leaving me squirming for answers.

When I was at my heaviest, I knew I was overweight, but I never thought I was THAT big, and when I was at my thinnest, I always compared myself with large farm animals. How can I find some peace in all of this?

As I talked to my counselor last week, she asked if I had been overweight all my life. I quickly said yes, but then realized it might not be an accurate statement. I can look at old photos, and remember thinking I was fat, really fat, but the faded Polaroids don’t reflect that either. There were certainly times when my weight fluctuated as a kid, but now I wonder how much of this mindset centered on reality.

I do need to take charge of my recent fluctuation. It scares the hell out of me, and I never want to go back to the woman hiding beneath an invisibility cloak, but today I saw something else, something worthwhile, something simply beautiful.

How closely does your reflection in the mirror match the image in your mind?

Stupid or Marvelous

I wonder at times if other people find life as challenging as I seem to make it for myself. Everything operates relatively smooth and peaceful for a while and then KABOOM. The whole thing shatters leaving me to pick up the little shards scattered across what used to be a well-defined path.

Does life need to be difficult? I know it can be hard, really hard, but I’m not talking about life-altering detours that I’ve encountered, just day-to-day stupid shit. I feel too old to be struggling with crap.

I felt particularly stressed this week, under deadlines that seemed too big with unexpected transitions that mocked me as I tried to create a new Plan B on the fly.

Well-established habits like exercise vanished, replaced with taunting brownies. I succumbed convinced that sugar, cocoa and butter would calm and help me regroup. Nope.

Thankfully, my mental mechanic intervened before the sugar took me down a swirling funnel toward a vat of chocolate quicksand. She stopped me when I tried to talk about my “stupid” actions, thoughts, fears. Instead she pointed out strength, resolve, capabilities, and told me I needed to practice positive self-talk.

I know she’s probably right, and suppose it’s worth a shot given the brownie didn’t work worth shit. This week instead of turning to the brownie, I’ve committed to tell myself how marvelous I am while I channel a little Billy Crystal.

I’ll let you know how it goes. What are some of the positive things you tell yourself?

Step Back, Move Forward

I felt myself get a little whacky this morning. It’s not entirely surprising. It happens when exercise declines and sugar rockets.

What did seem new though was the fact I recognized I was standing at the precipice, and I actually wanted to step back. It seemed enough to teeter for just a bit feeling no compunction to throw my arms up and lean into the crumbling edge.

Choice. I tell my son all the time that he has the choice of how he is going to view life, choosing to look for the bad or good in any situation. It’s hard to watch him navigate these teen years, and at times I secretly would love to control his thoughts and behavior. However, when I step back myself and choose to commune with the positive, I also realize how little I truly can control.

Much of my life I tried to control and compartmentalize what I saw as the pieces of my life – weight, body image, family, work, friends, the overall search for perfection. However, I may be on the verge of accepting the interconnectedness of it all. The way I treat my body does affect the way I see myself, which in turn blankets the way I interact with all the people in my life. Seems stupid simple, but it still hasn’t stopped me from pushing against the idea.

I have no control over much of what surrounds me, damn. I can, however, regulate my behavior and reactions and outlook on life. When I’m in this space, it seems absurd I would try to focus energy in any other way.

I saw this when I lost 100 pounds. I learned that the weight was not about the food (unless it’s a pan of brownies sitting on my counter at 2 a.m.). I ate for a lot of reasons other than hunger using the weight to insulate myself from life. It was a sad existence, and I never want to return to that place.

As I teetered this morning, there was a moment that I wanted to wallow in the fact that some of those pounds found their way back, far too many to ignore. It’s time to select a different path because the one I’ve been traveling has been taking me in a big fucking circle. I know the science, an easy equation of in vs. out, and now I feel good that I’m choosing to connect with me.

Pause the Slippage

I want to eat a house right now. I nearly ate one last night, and it gave me horrible indigestion all night long. I’d like to avoid the re-run this evening so I’m hoping that pushing pause for just a few minutes to post a blog entry might help.

Part of the problem is I spent some time over the weekend traveling and eating too much sugar, which always wreaks havoc so I’m trying to detox a little. Gum usually helps; of course I have none. I’m sucking on a lollipop trying to constantly remind myself not to bite into it, invariably busting up one of my fillings.

I had a pretty good day with food and exercise so the evening cravings threw off my mojo. I ate reasonably and took a spin class at lunchtime. I also noticed today that I didn’t get extraordinarily freaked out in the locker room. I didn’t even contemplate taking two towels into the shower with me, and I stood naked in front of my locker without feeling major heart palpitations. Shit, if things keep going this well, I might be able to bend over in all my glory and not give a rat’s ass, or stand in front of the make-up mirror next to Naked Woman to compare saggy hooters. Nah, that will never happen.

At any rate, I think I have my head screwed back on and the house might be safe for one more night. What helps you press pause to gain control when you feel slippage?

Step Off the Train

Vacation has been sweet. It’s taken several days to truly decompress. There were no big vacation trips, just time with my mom, which has been delightful even though my son managed to give her a kick ass cold shortly after she arrived.

Lazy mornings and empty agendas fill our days. It’s been exactly what I needed, and it’s provided time to breathe, think, readjust.

I hopped off the crazy train of must dos and gave myself a chance to reflect on what has been happening in my mind and soul. I wrote yesterday that I felt a little squirmy, and the wiggles are still present, but confidence seems to percolate beneath the surface too.

I can’t help but turn thoughts toward my attitudes about weight and food and body image and how they mingle and blend and haunt. A hundred pounds ago, I may have eluded myself to believe that the weight was about food, but I’m acutely aware now, it is not quite that simple. I wonder if the small amount of weight that I’ve struggled with for the past year serves more as a reminder that I haven’t been quite ready to embrace the fact that I’m good enough just the way I am. I, just me as I stand today, am good and right with the world. It causes my stomach to flip even as I type the words.

When I yo-yo, it provides constant admonishment that I haven’t quite arrived and tells me that I haven’t got things quite right, and perhaps I will never get where I need to be. But, I’m tired of playing that tape – it’s a load of shit – and I think it keeps me from reaching other goals I may have.

This particular struggle serves no purpose except to keep me stuck in an uncreative, tentative place. It seems obvious to me as I sit in my jammies spending some of my vacation with myself and my thoughts, but I need to find a way to capture and hold onto this awareness when I reenter the real world. Everyone gets anxious or outright whack-a-doodle, but some seem better at pulling it together before implosion, which for me generally comes at the same time grab for my own detonator otherwise known as triple chocolate lava cake. Where exactly would food for thought fit?

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