Thankful Thursday: What I’m Thankful for this Week

imageDo you believe in the power of dreams?

I’ve never been the kind of person to sit and analyze my dreams. I can never find the symbolism in the randomness and the memories fade so quickly that I’m left clawing at the fog, no closer to figuring out just what the heck was going on in my subconscious.

But being the overanalytical sort that I am in my conscious mind, I do feel the way dreams resonate with me after I’ve woken up. Instead of remembering events or faces, I feel what each image evokes. Fear. Trepidation. Joy. Anxiety. Calm. Hope.

It’s been a long time since I’ve dreamed.

I lost touch with the fantastic in my own life. I allowed myself to get boxed in by doubt and fears, further fueled by exhaustion and a creeping apathy. Why was I doing all of this? What is the point?

This site has bared the brunt of this burden. I’ve kicked it about and ignored it when it was calling to me. I never returned messages and I kept putting it in my “I’ll get to it later” pile. I’ve been a terrible girlfriend.

And you always appreciate what you had once it’s gone.

I come back here each Thursday as a reminder to dream. There are so many things I want to share with all of you and too many articles in my mind that I have yet to commit to words. The journey is ongoing. My exploration is tireless.

The amazing part here is that I can still dream and dream big. I welcomed back the butterflies in my stomach that usually accompany the whimsy of my dreams. There’s fear. There’s trepidation. There’s some anxiety. But there’s also joy. And more importantly, there’s hope.

A testament to those butterflies came in the form of two major wins for me this week.

I’ve avoided the scale for about six months. It’s not a secret that I have an issue with numbers and what they mean to me. No matter how many times I look at my reflection or feel the way clothes fit, the numbers on a scale always manage to make me feel much heavier than I actually am. I zero in on my weight as the end-all-be-all for everything, when in actuality weight has no bearing on the significant strides I’ve made this year to be healthy and fit.

So I threw the scale under my bed and forgot about it.

I decided to take new measurements to track my progress from six months ago and part of that process includes weighing myself.

I won’t go into the number. I will say that it’s my lowest body weight since I hit puberty, but that’s not the victory here.

I got on the scale, looked at the number, let the shock course through my veins, and then stepped off. I put the scale back under my bed and walked away.

In the space of five minutes, I’d realized how monumental this was for me.

I worked so hard to lose weight these last four years because my goal was to be thin and to look a certain way. I have no shame in saying that because aesthetics will always play a part.

This was the first time that I’d stepped on a scale and let that process have a very clear beginning and end. I didn’t step off thinking to myself, “this is good, but let’s bring this down another 5lbs,” the way I’ve done every single time I’ve weighed myself in the past. I didn’t obsess over what that number really meant compared to my reflection. I didn’t think about how cool it was either.

I stepped off. Put it away. And moved on.

Weight is such a small piece in the big picture of healthy living. The real work I’ve put into myself comes in the form of positive thinking, self-motivation, and testing both my body and mind by pushing myself to try new things in all areas of my life.

None of that comes up on the scale. I don’t get a happiness rating when I check my BMI. My body fat percentage doesn’t come with an assessment of my worthiness as a human being.

I’m finally beginning to understand myself on a deeper level, and that right there, is one of the biggest victories I’ve had this year.

My second win this week is much more direct. I’ve come back to powerlifting with more ambition and dedication this past month. My goal was to hit a 225lb deadlift by my 30th birthday in December.

Yesterday I realized that I aimed low and that I should never ever doubt myself.

Instead of going into the specifics, I thought I’d show you instead. The lift wasn’t pretty, but I got it done.


What are your big “wins” for the week?

What are you thankful for?

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

Cut Yourself Some Slack Starting Now

I walked to work this morning with my headphones on playing a guided meditation on releasing fear. Listening to the words gently urging me to break down the wall between my fears and my desires brought me a bit of clarity before I reached my desk and started my workday.

There’s nothing exceptional about this exercise. It’s the way I start my morning nearly every workday and I usually reach a high point of inspiration and creativity right up until the moments I begin the rhythms of work. That’s when I find myself getting lost in the mess of it all. This blog, my wellness coaching goals and all the rest remain behind that proverbial wall.

I’ve been in a bit of a fog the past several months. I’ve come back here at various points, celebrating a recent success or riding the wave of a specific emotion or inspired series. Throughout it all, I’ve felt a disconnect between who I was when I started this journey and where I am today.

I recently learned about the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change, which is really just a fancy term for how we effect self-change over time. There are five steps to this process: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.

As a wellness coach trainee, I’ll admit that getting clients to the action phase and eventually maintenance is a major goal and ultimately what gravitated me to coaching in the first place. Seeing how people can change over time to build their self-efficacy and motivation towards achieving their vision for healthy living, and being a partner in that journey, is a remarkable experience.

Then I learned that getting clients to go from precontemplation to contemplation will really be the bulk of our coaching work with a small possibility that you can help clients move to preparing for their goals. Furthermore, this would take at least three to six months with careful planning and weekly sessions.

I was crushed. I thought I was going to change lives by getting people to the gym and improving their diets within weeks, maybe a couple of months. The fact that I’d spend most of my time encouraging clients to change their “I can’t” mentality to “Maybe, I can” seemed like such slow work that challenged my patience and admittedly,  my selfish need to feel like I’m actually accomplishing something.

It’s no wonder that some of this fog that’s kept me from blogging has also clogged up the works when it comes to my coaching. I’ve lost sight of the bigger picture and I’m not holding myself accountable for the lack of effort I’m putting into the process.

This is starting to sound eerily familiar….

I remember what it was like when I was on the other side of the coin, struggling to lose weight and allowing myself to be discouraged by the lack of results from my yo-yo dieting and exercise habits. I also remember clear as day when my thoughts shifted from “I can’t” to “Maybe, I can”, and how much that impacted my choices from there on out.

If I were to apply the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change to myself and how much time it took me to go from phase to the next, it’d look something like this:

  • 2 years to go from precontemplation to contemplation
  • 1 year to go from contemplation to preparation
  • 1 year to go from preparation to action
  • And I’m still going from action to maintenance, 2 years after I decided to embrace a healthy and active lifestyle

My own process of behavior change has taken nearly 6 years and it’s ongoing. 6 years.

Ah, okay. See, where I’m going with this?

Part of this fog and disconnect I’m experiencing is a combination of fear and adapting to change. I’m busier now than I’ve been in many years, and this time I’m doing things that I’m actually passionate about, which is both rewarding and terrifying. The key here is acknowledging the change but not allowing that to blind me to my purpose.

I need to put on my big girl pants and start holding myself accountable for the choices I’m making to build my future. And that includes EVERYTHING; career, friendships, blogging, romantic relationships, my healthy lifestyle. All of it matters and all of it relies on my choices.

Another lesson in my wellness coaching is the idea of self-care. As coaches, we need to practice what we preach. Walk the walk and all that.

I truly understand how difficult it is to let go of lifelong habits and reshape your thoughts so that you can make significant changes towards a healthier lifestyle. It’s not easy, and I’d be doing everyone a disservice if I ever said that losing weight and keeping it off was easy. The same goes for life changes too.

I also get that so much of this process is personal and it requires a tremendous amount of dedication and self-awareness. Not to mention accountability. This is the true value of a wellness coach. It was foolish of me to confuse that with the flashier prospect of major weight loss stories.

It’s much easier for me to cut you some of that slack. I’m so much harder on myself. And I can imagine that might be the same for some of you who are experiencing these same challenges.

I brought myself here this morning to do something I never do. I’m cutting myself some slack for getting caught in the fog and allowing myself to amble a bit on the road. I’m telling myself that it’s okay I haven’t been as committed to this blog as I was a year ago.

I’m also saying that as much as I can forgive myself, I can also admit that my desire for change far outweighs the ease of standing still.

Revisit, revise, and reassess. More importantly, let the negative thoughts go and be mindful of the process.

In other words:

Keep it simple, stupid.

Are you experiencing self-doubt on your wellness journeys?

How do you cope with fear?

If you blog, how do you get yourself out of a blogging rut?

Keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

Small Steps: Fitblogger Feature

Ever get so lost in the idea of achieving a big goal, only to forget why you started in the first place? This has been a recurring thought these past few months, especially with regard to my fitness and wellness journey. I had the opportunity to share these thoughts in my featured post yesterday on Fitblogger. For those who missed it, here’s what I had to say.

“That’s it. Let’s do it. Let’s do an abs challenge!” she exclaimed.

She didn’t have to say it again. I was all in. “Hell yes! Summer 2013, here we come!” I said.

We’d been dancing around the topic for weeks so I knew this was coming. And it made perfect sense. She’s my personal trainer and with her knowledge of exercise and my emphasis on nutrition, we’d worked out a pretty sensible plan.

We both knew what we had to do. Clean eating. A combination of strength training and high-intensity workouts throughout the week. And an iron-clad commitment to the goal that we would both have the six-pack abs we’d been coveting for months. This was going to happen.

After covering the details of how we’d go about our training and the time-frame, we gave each other a thumbs up and got back to the session. I finished out my workout that day with determination to get this ball rolling.

Four months later and the meticulous plan I had for my abs and all the ‘after’ pics I’d already arranged in my mind have fallen on the wayside, forgotten with most of the good ideas I’d let slip through my fingers.

I lift up my tank top in the mirror and shake my head. I couldn’t help but think, “Here we go again.”

I’d dropped the ball on another goal and although I’d like to say this was the first time, the truth is that I’m all too familiar with this sort of failure.

I met up with my trainer last Friday and we spoke about our ill-fated pact to be masters of our abs. She’s in the middle of planning her wedding, closing on her first house and training for a powerlifting meet, all while seeing clients, so really, who can blame the woman for having her priorities elsewhere? I, on the other hand, have no such excuse.

In between bench press sets, we spoke about summer and fitness goals and how much harder it is to stay committed as time goes on. It wasn’t until this conversation that I realized something pretty critical.

Back when I first decided to work out and eat healthy, I did that with lofty goals in mind. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to lose a lot of weight. Never mind how difficult that journey was going to be or how much trial and error I’d have go through to get there; I knew it would happen because I wanted it bad enough.

Three years and thirty pounds later, I’m reminded that it took a series of small steps to bring me to this moment. I didn’t start out a fitness fiend, working out five days a week, squatting and dead-lifting over my body weight, and eating a super clean diet every single day.

I needed to experiment with different workouts, educate myself on food and learn how to cook and bake with new ingredients. There was progress and there were setbacks. My goals evolved. Losing weight took second place to becoming strong, inside and out. changed.

Within the big picture of healthy living, I learned that the only way I could ever really succeed is by embracing the small moments that shape the journey. 

And somewhere along the way I forgot that. I forgot to tackle each workout as its own small moment. I forgot that with each big goal I set, I also need to enjoy the steps. I’ve wavered in my commitment lately; going through workouts almost by rote and without the enthusiasm that I used to bring to the gym or at home. I forgot the thrill of lifting that bar and breaking personal records. I forgot to have fun.

Once I made this revelation, I stopped tearing myself down as it’s so quick for me to do when I’m disappointed. Instead of applying blame, I turned it around and remembered that each day is an opportunity to start over and recommit.

So yeah, my sick six-pack ab challenge didn’t turn out exactly the way I expected. With my shirt tugged up, I’m looking in the mirror and choose to see all the rest of my accomplishments instead.

I’ve come a long way from where I started. How could I forget that?

Healthy living is as much about the second word in that phrase as it is the first.

Choosing to be healthy can be tough and it’s easy to get caught up in the harder parts when the rush of that initial weight loss or physical transformation begins to wane.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that we’re also leading lives filled with all sorts of challenges that help make everything worthwhile.  We’re reminded of why we began and through the challenge, we’re given the chance to fortify that commitment. It’s a humbling lesson and it took a half-hearted stab at an abs-challenge to open my eyes.

Besides, who needs a six-pack of abs when you can’t enjoy a barbecue every now and then?

What challenges have you faced on your healthy living journey? How do you cope with setbacks? Share your stories here and as always, keep paying it forward! 🙂

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