Until recently, I couldn’t think about going to a party or even to the grocery store without breaking into a cold sweat. My heart raced, my mouth would go dry and I got tunnel vision.
It didn’t matter whether I was meeting family/friends or a roomful of strangers.
I remember using the excuse that I wasn’t feeling well because the thought scared me to death.
“All eyes are going to be on what I’m wearing.”
“They’ll think I’m fat.”
“What if I say the wrong thing and they think I’m stupid.”
“I might offend someone and then they’ll yell at me or be mad at me.”
These are just a few of the incessant thoughts that caused me to become shy, withdrawn and miserable.
Even if I did end up going to a party, I would lie in bed playing back the evening in my head so that I could make sure that I didn’t say or do anything stupid. If I thought that I did, I would replay the scenario, beat myself up and then figure out how not to make that stupid mistake again.
It took boatload of energy to get myself psyched up not only to walk in the door but also to make small talk. A glass or two of wine helped but it felt wrong using it as a crutch.
I’ve lived with this anxiety since I was a teenager. Fortunately,therapy got me on the road to recovery in my 30’s and coaching picked up where that left off.
Once I got a handle on it, I began to unpack my anxiety and discovered its lies:
1. “Everyone is judging me!”
Not true. My anxiety was ALL about MY judgments. I made up stories in my head that “everyone” was judging me, and, while some may have been, it started with me not accepting myself.
2. “If I don’t conform to what everyone wants then no one will like me.”
My anxiety was a by-product of people-pleasing. I became adept at morphing myself into who I THOUGHT the person standing in front of me wanted me to be. The thought of walking into a room full of people was overwhelming simply because I knew I couldn’t be everything to everyone in the room.
3. “I can’t make a mistake because then everyone will see that I’m not perfect and a fraud.”
Hello Perfectionism! It made me nauseous to even think about being wrong. The embarrassment of being wrong or making a mistake was enough to make me want to run and hide, and that’s what I did for the majority of my life. If I wasn’t around people then there isn’t the possibility of screwing up.
What I realize now is that my survival mechanism or ego had me convinced that I needed to be perfect to survive and be worthy of love.
4. “Sally’s got it all together, I’m such a loser next to her but at least I’m not a hot mess like Matilda.”
Welcome to my comparison thoughts. These are just another form of judgment. It seems like they would be ok, at least the ones that make us feel good. I’m better than Matilda so I have that to feel good about.
In the end, all of this comparison creates competition and somebody has to lose. It is a constant up and down of emotions as we judge others as better/worse than us. It is a game we cannot win because the rules keep on changing.
What an exhausting way to live!
I don’t like to think of myself as selfish but look at the thoughts: they’re all about me!
My anxiety had nothing to do with anyone but ME. Primarily, the thoughts and judgments in my head.
Rather than focusing and connecting with the people in the room, my focus was on me and how I look.
I realized that I’m not alone. Most people are so focused on how they’re being perceived that they don’t even think about me.
I finally learned that I am not going to die if I’m not perfect. I don’t have to be anyone except who I am and I really like who I am. I know myself to be someone who will own my mistakes and do my best to make it right when I mess up. I now practice honoring myself as well as the people around me.
My confidence began to rise as I stopped comparing and beating myself up. I practiced trusting me.
Does this resonate with you? What can you do?
~ Notice your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself? Meditation is great for helping to put space between you and your thoughts.
~ Question your thoughts. Is it true that Sophie gave you a dirty look across the room so she must be mad at you? Maybe her eyes were bothering her, maybe she had a stomach ache, you don’t know. Stop making things up and stick with the facts.
~ Give yourself permission to start focusing on you. What do you like? What do you want? Separate yourself from the need to make everyone else happy.
~ Have fun! Release the pressure and be who you are. Let life be joyful and begin to flow.
A great resource is Byron Katie’s The Work. On her website you can view videos of Katie working with people to question the thoughts in their head. She also has worksheets that you can download for free to help you through the process.
If you find that you need something more, consider working with a therapist or a trained coach. If you’re not sure which is right for you, contact me and I’d be happy to help you figure out what’s best for you.
I wish I had a magic wand so I could quiet all of those negative thoughts, judgments and fears but I don’t. You’ll have to do the work yourself.
I promise you, it’s worth it!
In the election this week, the popular vote was split down the middle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
We have seen Trump supporters cheering and Hillary supporters crying.
I have friends and family who are Trump supporters. I know them to be good people and they truly believe that he is the answer to get this country back on track.
I also have friends and family who are Hillary supporters. They are also good people who feel the country is on the right track and they believe Donald Trump will derail it.
Our country is truly divided right now but it’s not the first time.
According to Ron Chernow’s book, Hamilton, this has been the case in America since its inception. Even the founding fathers didn’t agree on everything.
That’s what makes our country great.
We are allowed the freedom to debate our beliefs and ideas.
But who’s right and who’s wrong? They are both right and wrong.
No one person or group has the right to push their ideology on others. I know I get angry and resentful the minute someone tells me how I should be living my life.
All of us, not just our representatives, need to start listening to each other. We need to stop talking, get our anger in check and start trying to understand our fellow human beings. Especially those whose opinions are different than ours.
I believe we are more alike than we are different.
Most of us want to make a decent living, have access to affordable healthcare, raise our families in a safe environment, and enjoy the freedoms that this country was founded on.
And, each side has a different idea of how to get there.
The founders of this country knew that compromise needed to be part of the solution. The art of compromise is that neither party walks away totally happy but they are each able to live with the deal at hand.
One of those deals is what landed our capitol in Washington DC.
Try this today, stop talking and be curious about someone who is different than you. Ask questions and listen, really listen.
Practice looking for common ground and for a way to create a win-win.
This is how we make our relationships, work places and nation great!
Thanks to all those who have shared with me either through Facebook or in person, what has come up for you as a result of me sharing my weight loss journey.
I’m grateful for the honesty and for the opportunity to know that we are in this together.
Here’s my update:
-I have been consistent with my exercise, running or walking 2.5 to 4 miles at least every other day.
-I have drastically reduced my consumption of sugar, flour and meat.
-I have increased the number of vegetables and fruit I eat.
-I am down 9 lbs.
I even went to NYC for a few days and was able to come home without having gained any weight.
I’m glad I’m writing all of this down because the voice in my head has been very active lately and this is how it has been going:
Me: “I lost 9 lbs!”
Voice in my head: “You need to cut down even more so you will lose more, faster. Stop eating sweets and snacks all together, you shouldn’t be eating any of that stuff anyway if you’re really serious about losing weight.”
Me: “But I’m ok with how it’s going…”
VIMH: “You’re not doing good enough! Look at those people on Facebook who are posting pictures of all the weight they’ve lost. And you’ve only lost a measly 9 lbs.! You have at least another 15 lbs. to lose! You might as well give up now, you know you don’t have the willpower and besides wouldn’t some peanut M & M’s taste real good right now, but you can’t have them because you need to lose weight…”
And on and on and on!
Needless to say these thoughts caused a downward spiral as I let them take control.
This felt so familiar.
I could feel that sense of wanting to give up, feeling helpless and hopeless, the feeling that I can never be happy eating food that was good for me and that I will never lose AND keep this weight off.
The next step of this pattern is letting myself have cake to celebrate a birthday, after all it was just one small piece. Then it’s having ice cream 3 nights in a row just because I wanted it.
Suddenly I felt terrible. And I don’t just mean psychologically, I mean physically. I wasn’t sleeping well. I felt bloated.
I felt old. I know I’m getting older but I have never felt old.
Suddenly I realized I had lost track of why I wanted to lose weight in the first place.
After reading Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map a couple of years ago, I started setting my goals with the idea that it is not the goal I’m actually after, it’s the feeling I will have once I reach that goal.
Since then, I have not only reached my goals but I have actually enjoyed getting there.
The reason I want to lose weight is because I want to FEEL better! I want to feel confident and empowered.
I noticed that when I eat good healthy foods that is exactly how I feel, confident and empowered both physically and psychologically.
When I binge on cookies, candy, chips and cake, I feel better, temporarily. Then comes a wave of regret and the after effects of all those carbs which includes mental fogginess, bloating and the path to diabetes.
I’m eating healthy whole foods again. I have more mental clarity and feel happier.
I also like going to bed just a little bit hungry. I sleep better and seem to dream more, which I love!
A lower number on the scale is just a result. The real reason I want to lose weight is to feel happier, more powerful and confident. And I can achieve that right now just by the food choices I make.
How will you feel when you reach your ideal weight? What can you do right now to connect to that feeling?
Without my precious food to numb me, I recently came face to face with the
thoughts and beliefs that could keep my business stuck.
Specifically, my thoughts and judgments about marketing, selling and
promoting myself and my business.
I resist promoting myself because I’m afraid I’ll be
perceived as arrogant, manipulative or self-serving.
However, if I don’t promote myself then I will either not be in
business very long or I’ll only reach a small number of people.
“… pay attention when you want
to eat a box of Oreos,
drink a bottle of wine or
whatever your drug of choice is.”
What can I (we) do with these thoughts and beliefs rather
than divert them with food, wine or keeping crazy busy?
I chose to look deeper rather than going for the distraction and found
there was a message for me.
Below are 4 steps you can use when you’re stuck:
1. Notice your negative or limiting thoughts and beliefs.
If it’s hard to recognize your thoughts, check in with how you’re
feeling then back track to find the thought that created it.
Your thoughts create how you feel.
Use your feelings as signposts to point to what’s going on
in your head. And definitely pay attention when you want to eat
a box of Oreos, drink a bottle of wine or whatever your drug of choice is.
My limiting beliefs were:
“I can’t promote myself or my business because people will see
me as arrogant, manipulative or pushy. They’ll get angry and not want
to have anything to do with me.”
“When we carry negative thoughts, fear
and limiting beliefs from childhood,
we aren’t able to be who we truly are.”
2. Once you realize your negative thoughts or limiting beliefs, ask yourself,
“Who is this coming from?” and “What is the message it has for me?”
My beliefs came from this scared little girl inside of me. A little girl who,
when she dared to be who she was, was often met with disdain and the question,
“Who do you think you are?” and with statements like “You’re stupid,”
“You’re ugly,” or “You’re a girl so you don’t count.”
My inner little girl came away feeling like the world was against her
and had to “be a good girl” and not standout in any way. This was
the part of me that was afraid to shine because it had been
met with pain in the past.
The message she had for me, was that she wanted to be accepted
for who she was and she wanted to come out and play.
3. Ask yourself, “What do I need?”
When we carry negative thoughts, fear and limiting beliefs
from childhood, we aren’t able to be who we truly are.
There was a part of me that wanted to come out and play but
every time it tried, I pushed it down by telling myself not
to get “too big for my britches.”
I wound up feeling like I betrayed myself.
What I need in these moments, is a shot of reassurance
along with a large dose of self-love and non-judgment.
I need to be more worried about taking care of myself and less worried
about what others think.
4. Give yourself what you need.
It’s not enough to ask yourself what you need. You actually have to
give yourself permission to have it.
That little girl is part of me. It’s the part that wants to have fun and play.
It’s also the part that has been trying to protect me from being hurt
AND the part that has been keeping me stuck.
I need to give this part of me love, acceptance and reassurance
that we can handle anything life throws at us.
Then trust myself, relax and enjoy the ride!
Lather, rinse, repeat! This is a constant process of bumping up against
our fear, negative thoughts and limiting beliefs.
We are never finished.
When I choose not to numb or distract myself with food,
I open myself up
to fun, joy and endless possibilities.
What negative thoughts, fear and limiting beliefs are ready for you to transform?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to a client, “Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just want to be expressed…”
I’ve wasted so much time numbing myself with food because I didn’t want to deal with certain thoughts and emotions.
I use food to help me relax and even celebrate making it through the day. It’s as if it helps me take a deep breath and relax.
Of course, I know better.
When I am in my “I can eat anything I want whenever I want” mode, it isn’t long before I’m numbing my anger, shame, sadness, frustration, boredom, overwhelm etc… and packing on the LB’s.
Then I use even more food to try and feel better. It’s a set up for disaster.
The thing about numbing emotions is that we can’t pick and choose which ones to numb.
When we numb one emotion, we numb them all.
We numb our emotions with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping or today’s most popular numbing activity, being crazy-busy.
In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown says, “…research taught me that there’s no such thing as selective emotional numbing. There is a full spectrum of human emotions and when we numb the dark, we numb the light… We can’t make a list of all of the “bad” emotions and say, “I’m going to numb these” and then make a list of the positive emotions and say, “I’m going to fully engage in these!”
When I numb myself with food, alcohol or busyness, I feel like my world is painted gray.
It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. I don’t really enjoy what I’m eating because if everything I eat is special then nothing is special. Do you get what I mean?
As soon I stopped using food to numb my feelings and dull my thoughts, I began to feel and hear everything that I didn’t want to deal with. It was uncomfortable but I survived.
I started by not judging myself. I began meditating again so I could practice separating who I know myself to be from the thoughts in my head.
Choosing to run away from my thoughts and feelings, comes at a cost.
India Arie’s song, Break The Shell, talks about this. She says, “life’s gonna hurt but it’s meant to be felt…” because “we have a choice to live or truly be alive…”
In order to truly be alive, I have to break the shell that I put up to keep the pain away.
Lat Saturday night, we went to a dinner party and the food was amazing! I ate everything I wanted, even a bite of the homemade ooey-gooey, chocolatey, butter and sugar-filled Paula Deen brownies that our hostess made.
I took a bite and savored it. Did I want more?
Hell yes! But I knew that another bite was not going to taste as good as that first bite.
I have a ways to go before I reach my goal but I’m learning that overcoming my issue with food and my weight (and any other issue) starts with looking at what’s going on inside of me, not judging it. Then I can give myself permission to feel it all.
What is your favorite way to numb yourself? What is it you’re not allowing yourself to feel?
When I decided to tackle my weight thing once and for all, I went back and did an “autopsy” to determine why things went sideways in the past.
The last time I got to a weight where I was happy and comfortable, I was following a low carb diet. Not South Beach, Atkins or even paleo but one that included lean meat, fish, poultry and dairy and lots of vegetables, some fruit and grains. I ate carbs like cookies, cake, crackers and bread very rarely.
After about 8 months, I reached my goal weight and kept it off for about a year and a half.
I seem to be good at losing weight but I stink at keeping it off.
Step one in the “autopsy:” Tell the truth.
I used the excuse that I had a bad case of shingles, was basically bedridden for 3 months and the inactivity caused my weight gain.
Not the truth.
My eating habits had started to fall off before I got sick.
I had begun allowing myself a taste of cake here, a spoonful of ice cream there. Then it turned into a cookie here and a candy bar there.
At first the scale didn’t move so I didn’t panic. But then it slowly began to inch up little by little and before long I had put on 6 pounds.
My workouts became intermittent.
I was pushing myself to succeed in my business and volunteering a lot of my time. I was stressed and tired and I began to use food, mainly sweets, to make myself feel better.
I now see that it wasn’t the shingles that caused me to gain weight. It was my lack of self-care that brought on the shingles. And that led to many bags of Doritos trying to take my mind off the pain.
But the main thing I realized was, I got cocky. I thought that I would never go back to being addicted to sugar and carbs.
I even remember saying the words, “I’ll never go back!”
Words that came back to haunt me.
I see now that I lost the fear of the weight coming back. I forgot about the tired, wrung out feeling when I eat too much crap. And didn’t even consider the possibility of not only getting sick but contracting a chronic condition like high blood pressure or a disease like cancer.
I got cocky and the weight came back.
I’ve lived most of my life worrying about what others think and I’ve done a lot of work to break through that. I don’t believe I should live in constant terror and worry about becoming obese.
What I do now believe is that there is nothing wrong with a little healthy fear to keep me on my toes and out of trouble.
This fear includes a healthy respect for things like alcohol and food. It is an awareness that I have to be careful not to let my guard down too much.
I need to set my own limits and be clear where the line is.
I’m back to cutting down on processed carbs and sweets and eating more whole foods. And I’m always paying attention to what makes me feel like I want to eat and drink a bit too much.
That’s working for me right now.
Do you struggle with keeping weight off once you lose it? What have you learned from your past experiences when it comes to losing weight? What do you think about having a “healthy” fear of food?
A few months ago, I decided it was time to take a hard look at my relationship with food. It was time to figure out how to eat without it turning into an internal emotional battle.
I stopped following my “food rules” and noticed the thoughts that ensued:
“What am I doing???”
“I am going to lose control and end up weighing 300lbs!”
“Everyone is going to see that I’ve gained weight and judge me for it.”
“People will think I’m lazy and a loser.”
“Ok, I can do this for the holidays but as soon as they’re over I’m going on a strict diet.”
“I can NOT permit myself to eat any cookies, meatballs, crab dip (insert any food that is not a raw vegetable here).”
After the holidays were over, it turned into:
“OMG! I gained 10 lbs! I’m fat!”
“I look terrible and I need to lose weight!”
“My family loves me no matter what size I am. Who am I kidding, they’re probably as disgusted with me as I am!”
“I just want to hide out at home.”
“I can’t buy any new clothes until I lose weight.”
There they were. The thoughts that have come out of my longtime struggle with food, weight and body image. And I know exactly where these thoughts were created.
They came from people in my past who thought they were being cute by calling me pleasingly plump when I was in that awkward stage right before puberty hit. And the words of the boys on the school bus who knew exactly the right buttons to push by calling me fat and ugly.
As with the many attempts before, I knew if I put myself on a diet, eating or fitness plan it was doomed to fail because I was not doing it for the right reason. I would be losing weight because I was afraid of what others thought, not because it was something I wanted.
Then I thought, “What if these thoughts aren’t true? What if I wasn’t a loser or lazy? What if I’m just me, not what I look like?”
So I asked myself the question, “Who do I know myself to be?” (A question I often ask my clients)
I know myself to be: kind, funny, smart, generous, loving, strong…
Does the size or shape of my body change any of that?
No! Hell NO!
If someone judges me or doesn’t like me for the size or shape of my body, it hurts. But quite honestly, they are not someone I would choose to be friends with anyway.
By replacing negative thoughts of my body with positive ones about the whole me, it not only made it easier to walk into a room full of people, I felt gratitude for the body that has brought me through 54 years and carried and birthed two healthy children.
I would love to say that the angels sang and my eating habits were suddenly transformed.
That didn’t happen. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I inherited my dad’s muscular build and not my mom’s thin beautiful legs. And, I’m likely addicted to carbs.
I have also learned to listen to the shouting in my head rather than pushing it down and hoping it goes away. Now I ask myself, “What am I really looking for these cookies or this bag of peanut M & M’s to do for me?”
I have learned I like the way I feel when I eat healthy, whole foods rather than processed, sugar laden food.
It would be easy but miserable to go back to my automatic routine of forcing myself through a diet, losing weight, keeping it off for a while, rebelling against the diet and then regaining the weight.
Right now, I’m in an unknown space and it’s really uncomfortable. I don’t know what’s around the corner but I do know I am committed to breaking up this pattern of self-abuse.
Are you struggling with the same thing? What are you doing to break through your old patterns? Let me know I’m not alone.
I’ll keep you posted…
I am often inspired not only by people but by animals as well. This week I want to share with you a human who uses her dog to inspire people.
I’d like you to meet Julie. She and I met about ten years ago when we worked together. She was someone with whom I felt an instant connection. Even after we no longer worked together, we kept in touch.
What inspires me most about Julie is her spirit. She has a certain kind of joy and energy that lights up any room she walks into.
Although Julie has suffered her share of trials and tribulations, you would never know it to meet her. She always has a smile and a word of encouragement for anyone she meets.
One thing that strengthened our bond was our mutual love for animals. We’re always sharing funny stories about our pets.
Julie talked about writing a blog that tells of the adventures she has with her dog, Cocoa. She told me about the blogs that she followed and that she would really like to be able to inspire others. She also talked about the good she could do by spotlighting animal rescues and just bringing animal lovers together.
Good news! Julie recently pulled the trigger and started sharing her stories. Take a look at Julie and Cocoa’s fun here at CocoaBeanAdventures.com.
I can’t imagine my life without animals. I have told my kids that if they ever have to put me in a home, to please find one that has a resident dog or cat or one that allows them to bring their dogs or cats to visit.
The two animals who currently let us live with them are our daughter’s cats, our grand kitties, Olivia and Cocoa (yes, another Cocoa).
Olivia and Cocoa came out of an abusive situation. Olivia dealt with the abuse by lashing out and fighting. When she first came to live with us, she was so angry, I was sure she might try to kill us in our sleep!
Cocoa was the opposite. She was extremely timid and found safety hiding behind the dryer. It took months for her to let us near her and even longer before we could touch her.
We allowed both of them to be who they were and did not push ourselves on them. There were many days that I would just look at them and tell them they were good kitties and that I loved them so much.
Slowly they began to mellow until one day, Olivia allowed us to pet her without fear of losing a hand. And we were ecstatic on the day that Cocoa jumped into my husband’s lap. What a sweet sound to hear this little kitty purr for the first time!
Olivia still has an attitude but she has turned into a loving, gentle cat.
And now Cocoa spends most evenings purring in my lap.
(Cocoa loves being a lap cat even without a lap!)
These two kitties have taught me that patience plus love heals even the deepest wounds.
Who are the people and the animals who inspire you? What have they taught you?
This week I am inspired by women who are following their bliss and making a real difference in the world and am grateful to be a contributor to the Fall Issue of Get Real magazine.
Changing The World One Step At A Time, tells my experience of the first time I went into the Monroe County Jail as a volunteer with the Step By Step program. It is not only a tribute to the organization but to the work of Sally Kohler, the workshop facilitator, who tirelessly works to lift up women who have fallen.
Click this link Get Real Magazine Fall 2015 and download to read my article and be inspired by all the amazing articles and photos.
Thank you to Brenda Steffon, Melissa Pletscher-Nizinsky and Julia Kracke for creating such a beautiful, inspiring magazine. You and your staff have created excellence on these pages and I am honored to be a small part.
Who are the women that inspire you? Now go and let them know the difference they have made in your life. #liveinspired
I’ve decided that I want this space to be a place of inspiration and inspiration can come from many different places and look like many different things.
So I will not only be posting some of my thoughts via blog posts but I will also be posting whatever/whoever inspires me.
Keep an eye open for what inspires you and feel free to share it in the comments below.
And speaking of eyes, how do you like these cupcakes?! I found them at my cousin’s baby shower and thought they were so cute and clever!
What creative things have you seen recently that inspired you?