Taking Control of Your Body & Mind

Let’s take a trip down memory lane… For a long time I was in a vicious cycle of overeating, gaining weight, and feeling like crap.  I  was completely out of control- and not just with my weight or what I was putting into my mouth, but with everything.  I didn’t even realize that something wasn’t right. All I knew was that didn’t like the way I looked in clothes and I was constantly comparing myself and my body to others.  I was very insecure.  It wasn’t a good look.

I hate that I wasted the better part of my 20’s feeling so badly about myself and my body.  Unfortunately, I can’t go back and change what was, so my hope in sharing this is to shake you awake if you feel this way right now.  Taking control of my health was the very first step for me in becoming who I am today.  It gave me more confidence because I proved to myself that I could do something BIG.  And when I say big, I’m talking about the way I shifted my mindset regarding food.  Losing weight can be super easy once you put your mind to it.  The challenge really starts when you reach your goal weight– you have to figure out how to maintain it!  It requires changes to your diet, your movement and most importantly your mindset. And THAT is a big deal.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back on it I was using food for all the wrong reasons.  I was using it as a coping mechanism.  Nervous?  Eat.  Anxious?  Eat.  Angry?  Eat.  Sad?  Eat.  And that isn’t an uncommon theme.  A lot of people do that.  And that’s OK… sometimes.  But you can’t use food as a way to deal with every emotion you ever have (uhh, hi, old me).

Think about the actual purpose of food for one second– food is measured in calories and calories are energy.  Calories are meant to fuel you so that you can get through your day to day activities.  That’s it.  They’re not meant to be consumed in excess or at a deficit.  The goal is to consume as many calories from foods that provide you with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as possible. (Rather than wasting your calories on foods that provide little to no nutritional value.)  But we all know the truth: the ones that provide little to no nutritional value are the ones that we like most!!  Why?  Because they taste good! Because they have sugar in them.  Because they make us feel good (even if just temporarily).

But these foods are “bad” so we tell ourselves we can’t eat them.  But after a week or two or three, we cave.  And then we don’t just eat two Oreos, we eat a whole sleeve of them!!  If you are constantly depriving yourself of food Monday through Friday and then over the weekend you go ape shit on everything you see… are you really solving the underlying problem?  Because at some point, those “cheat days” go from just Saturday to Saturday and Sunday… and then Friday, Saturday and Sunday and before you know it, you’re back to your old habits and the weight comes back on.  And then you feel like crap about yourself.  I’ve been there… repeatedly.

But one day it just clicked for me:  I control what I eat.  I control how I feel about my body.  I control how I look.  I control how I feel about myself.  I AM IN CONTROL.  And since that day everything has been a lot easier for me.  My temperament is better.  I have more patience.  I am less irritable.  I am happier.  I am able to be the mom I want to be.  I don’t complain that I feel fat.  I feel more confident. I have more pep in my step.  I feel in control of myself and my life.

Only you can make the decision to take control.  Control is a very powerful thing.  It’s exciting but it’s also scary.  When you finally take control, you can’t use excuses anymore. I think this is why people shy away from it. It’s easier. It’s an excuse. It’s a way out. But if you have that mindset regarding your health, it usually trickles into other areas, as well. Being in control forces you to take responsibility. Ick!  Take responsibility for my poor food choices?  No thanks!  But the cool thing about taking responsibility and taking control means that you can literally do anything  you want to do!  You have complete control over your own destiny.  And that should excite the hell out of you!!

If food is a struggle for you say this everyday, repeatedly, until you believe it:

YOU are in control of FOOD.  FOOD does not control YOU.

I know it sounds a little silly to do, but trust me!

Your thoughts

It took work for me to get to this point.  It didn’t happen overnight.  But I had to start somewhere.  It started with recognizing that I wasn’t in control.  I let myself be controlled by food rather than me controlling food.  Then I had to figure out why.  If you know me at all, you read my blog, or you follow me on social media, you know one thing about me:  I’m not afraid to tell you that I’m a hot mess of a young lady that’s just trying to figure out life (Spoiler Alert: I’ll never “figure it out”).  I’m 100% happy to share the experiences of my life because I know that I’m not the only person who struggles with stuff– especially food.  And since I feel like I have a pretty good handle on this I’m even more excited to share it.

The day I realized that I was in complete control of my health was the first day of the rest of my life.  It showed me that I can do anything as long as I believed I could do it.   It taught me I could do hard things.  It taught me I could change my mindset and how I thought about food (and everything else while I was at it).  There’s not doubt in my mind that I could never have gotten through the last couple of years of my life if I didn’t have the confidence, mental strength and positive outlook I worked so hard for through my wellness journey. I am so grateful that I had the courage to take so many steps over the past few years to get to where I am today. This wellness wave has been an amazing ride and I’ll continue to show up for it every single day. 😉

Hawaii Vacation Recap

Aloha!

It’s been a looooooong time since you’ve heard from me.  I was kinda distracted the last month or so leading up to my trip to Hawaii.  There was so much to do to prepare for it.  And I think knowing that I was going to be away from the kids for 7 nights, halfway around the world, with a 6 hour time difference was creating a little angst.  I’ve been away from both of my kids before but not for this long and not this far away.  So I was a little off during the month of April.

So now that I’m back, I wanted to share a little bit about my trip.  For those of you that are just catching up, let me explain why I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii in the first place. I work in the financial services industry.  And like most commission-based/sales industries there are incentive trips that sales reps can qualify for based on their production.  I’m not a sales rep. I work on the operations side of the business.  But because our office had such a stellar year, I was invited to go.  I’d never been to Hawaii and I had a million reasons why I couldn’t/shouldn’t go but I decided to figure out a way to make it work!

If you’ve never been to Hawaii, YOU MUST GO. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to many different places and see a lot of different things over the years, but I have to say, there is nothing quite like Hawaii.  It has mountains and canyons and waterfalls a plenty!  There’s a ton of wild chickens and I even got a picture of a beautiful black swan! The sites were absolutely breathtaking.

But for me, this vacation was about a lot more than an opportunity to get away! I wanted to focus on a few things while I had time to think without two toddlers whining or repeatedly saying “I’m hungry” even when they just ate dinner!

Explore: I like to be active. I like to explore and try new things. I wouldn’t say I’m an adrenaline junkie but I wouldn’t say I’m not either. It would have been crazy for me to travel all the way to Hawaii to sit poolside for 6 days straight, right? My brother and I went for a hike at Waipoo Falls and got amazing pictures of the waterfall. I also went on a catamaran snorkel tour of the Napali Coast, which was absolutely incredible.  Not only did we get to see the entire Coast from an ocean view, we got an amazing history lesson (and quite a few laughs) from the Captain.  We saw spinner dolphins, we snorkeled, and I jumped off the boat… because why not?!

Spend Time Alone: I think it’s easy to say you like to spend time alone when you have a husband or a boyfriend. But when you don’t, you learn that it’s not so simple.  I was with someone for 12 years, which was my entire adult life.  Even though I was going to be spending time with work friends (many of them had their spouses or significant others with them), I was still alone.  And I’ve been alone for the last year.  Okay, don’t cry… that sounded really sad.  But it’s not and I’ll tell you why.  Being alone is actually a really good way to learn about yourself.  When you have a partner (or even kids for that matter) sometimes you get so caught up in the wants and needs of others that you forget to ask yourself what you want, or what you need, or whether or not you’re happy.  Besides my kids—whose wants and needs are really quite simple- love them, feed them, clean them, play with them, I can focus on myself.  What I want, what I need and what makes me happy.  I hiked a trail by myself (almost got lost– only me!).  I took walks by myself.  I shopped by myself.  It was kinda cool.  And it gave me a chance to work on my very very very (did I mention very) amateur photography skills.

Relax & Recharge: I brought 3 books with me to Hawaii. I only started reading one on the plane en route home.  I brought my tablet—I didn’t turn it on.  The only time I turned on my TV in my room was the morning that I was leaving to check the bill and checkout.  When I’m on vacation I want to do whatever I want to do in that moment.  If I want to hang by the pool and have a cocktail, I will.  If I want to take a walk, I will. If I want to listen to a Podcast (this is my new obsession, btw), I will.  If I want to take a jog, I will.  If I want to eat shave ice, I will.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much for me to relax. I knew that my kids were in good hands. I knew that it would be quiet at the office. I just wanted to relax.  And I totally did.  That’s why I came back READY TO FREAKIN GO!

One of the things I’ve tried to focus on this year has been living in the moment a little more.  Ya’ll know I’m a planner x 1000.  Finding the balance between living in the moment and accomplishing big goals can be difficult.  If I’m living in the moment too much, I tend to lose focus.  If I’m planning every second of every day, I can become too rigid, get bored and become fanatical. 

So I’ve taken the approach of planning with wiggle room.  Always having a plan, but being nimble enough to enjoy any opportunities that come up! And when I get an opportunity to totally unplug (like I did for 6 days in Hawaii), I take it. I listen to my mind and body and allow myself to do and feel whatever they want. 💖

Takeaways:

1. Go to Hawaii 🌺

2. Take time to relax and recharge once in a while

3. Listen to your body

4. Explore when you can

5. Go to Hawaii 🌺

Food Philosophy 101

When someone says the word “diet” most of us automatically think of the secondary definition of diet—a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.  But today I’m talking about the primary definition, the kinds of food that a person habitually eats.  When I think of the statement “I’m going on a diet” the words that come to mind are restrictive, difficult, stressful, bland, boring, etc.

Don’t these statements sound much better?

“I’m working on improving my diet” OR  “I’m changing my diet to get more in line with my overall health goals.”

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I do not have a degree in nutrition.  I’ve done a good amount of research.  I’ve experimented with many different lifestyles (always for a short period of time because none of them are sustainable for me).  I’ve put in the work. Through all that I’ve come up with the three principles of my food philosophy:

  1. Eat as many of your calories as possible. Powders, vitamins, bars should be used as supplements (when necessary), not as your meal.  Eat real food!
  2. Nothing should be off limits—you can eat everything in moderation. Don’t be a no carb girl… nobody wants to go to an Italian restaurant with you.
  3. Eat in line with your goals.

Let’s dig into each one!

Eating Your Calories

I’ve gone through phases where I’ve had two shakes, two bars and a couple of small snacks per day and guess what?  I was starving (surprise, surprise, right?!).  During that phase I learned that eating as many of my calories as possible is not only physically more satisfying for me, but it’s mentally more satisfying too.  Sitting down and chewing on food takes waaaaaay longer than drinking a shake.  Your body has time to enjoy the eating process.  You chew, you enjoy the flavors, you swallow, you (should) take a second and breathe and then go back for another bite.  Eating becomes more of an event rather than “let me guzzle this shake so I can hustle to my next appointment/class/meeting” moment.

Plus I just think that it’s hard to get all the different vitamins and minerals you need from powders, shakes, bars, and pills.  That’s why they should be used as supplements, when appropriate, but not as a replacement for real food, ya hear?!

I currently use a pre-workout powder and one scoop of protein powder per day.  Snacks include carrots and hummus, string cheese and almonds, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and fruit. I eat real food for lunch and dinner. I don’t take any vitamin or other supplement pills.

Everything in Moderation

I’m a big believer that if you like something, you should be able to enjoy eating it—in moderation.  I enjoy candy and ice cream.  And I can and do enjoy both of those things. The goal is to try to enjoy both of them in moderation (which I’m pretty good at with ice cream) but in the “needs improvement” category for candy.  But I’m better than I used to be so some progress is better than no progress! 😝

I’ve tried to cut out candy completely and all it’s done is make me want it more.  I know that sounds familiar to everyone reading this because it’s a common theme in dieting.  Restrict the bad foods until you cave and eat ALL THE BAD FOODS.  And you start and stop the cycle like a billion times until you either recognize you should be able to have that food in moderation and find a way to do that OR you forget trying to make healthier habits and continue down the same path you’ve been on. Most of us end up doing the latter.

I believe in well-balanced meals that include proteins, fats and yes, CARBOHYDRATES!  I secretly cringe when someone tells me they cut all fruits out of their diet because of the high sugar/carb content. Or they only eat 30g of carbs per day because they’re on a strict keto diet.  I only offer my opinion if it’s asked but I know, from trying so many different diets, that none of them are truly sustainable for the rest of your life.

Eat carbs—mostly good carbs.  But also free feel to indulge in the not-so-nutritious carbs every once in a while.  Going on severe diets is not only physically draining but constantly thinking about it makes it mentally exhausting, as well.

Eating In Line With Your Goals

I am not going to tell you not to focus on the number on the scale or losing a certain amount of pounds because I’ve been there before.  I know what it’s like to want to see a number. I get it. And I had to go through that phase before I moved onto the phase I’m in now which is really trying to fill my diet with healthy and nutritious food.  But just keep in mind as you’re going through the process, the end goal should be to improve your overall health.  The immediate goal might be to lose “x” amount of pounds so whatever you do to reach that goal should be things that are sustainable changes for the end result of living a healthier and more energized life.  Make sense?

Instead of focusing on what you want to achieve (i.e. lose 10 lbs or have a six pack), ask yourself this question:

What am I willing to change/improve in my diet and what results will it yield?

The idea here is to consider what you’re actually willing to do.  It goes back to the idea of wanting to want something but not actually wanting it enough to do anything about it.  So think about what you’re actually willing to change, improve, add to your diet, or eliminate from your diet.  Once you know what you’re willing to do and what results in will likely yield you can negotiate with yourself to find a good starting point.

And remember no change, or improvement, or addition, or elimination has to be 100% of the time.  Instead of 5 caramel macchiatos per week, go for 3.  And leave the rest of your diet and exercise regimen exactly the same.  You will be consuming less calories and you will lose weight.  It will be slow but it will be happen if you have patience.

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Once you know what your goals are and you truly believe you’re onboard with doing the things you need to do to get there, DO THEM.  And while you’re at it, do these things too:

  1. Be patient and kind with yourself. Lifestyle and dietary changes can be difficult.  Don’t beat yourself up for the ups and downs you will experience.  They are part of the journey. You’re not going to be your most healthy and fit self every season in your life.
  2. Focus on one thing at a time. When you make one small change it will make you feel good.  And that good feeling will ignite you to make another small change.  And so and so forth.
  3. Take your time. It’s not a race and it’s certainly not a competition.  It doesn’t matter if it takes you 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years to get to where you want to be. Go at your own pace.

I would absolutely love to hear feedback on this topic because it is so so soooo important to me.  What’s your food philosophy?   😉