How to Keep Going When you Want to Quit

A guide to self-soothing those pesky temptations…

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Yesterday was a strange day. It felt like every day since Sunday it was a struggle to keep moving forward with taking care of myself.

For the past 2 very busy months, I have been enlisted in a group partner challenge that is based on a points system to keep myself motivated.

The end goal is to be as close to 155 pounds by November 25th for one of my best friend’s wedding. The weight isn’t primary here, but it helps me to have an objective to work towards. My subjective goals have mostly been accomplished. I sleep better, my face is clearing up nicely, I have more energy – I FEEL so much better.

I posed the question to the closed Facebook group – How do I keep on going when I start to feel like I’m unraveling”?  The answers I got were a kind of tough love – in a nutshell I’m told to “Keep going”, “Don’t Quit”, “Practice some self care”. I appreciated their willingness to really write out a thought out response to me. However, I found myself thinking that “Just do it” is just not enough for me. So I actually thought of things that would in fact work for me and I felt like this would be good to share.

Here are some of the ideas that were given to me as well as some of my own:

  1. Practice self care: Get a mani/pedi, massage, facial, or take some “me” time. I like this advice, but currently I’m on a spending fast due to September being an expensive month. I’m trying to get back on track before Christmas. There are free/inexpensive ways to pamper yourself so here’s what I’m going to do:
    1. (notice a list within a list…because I love organization!) I’m going to take a bath with lavender scented bath salts because I happen to have them on hand. It will be known as “mommy time” which means NO boys allowed! Heck, I may even take a book in with me and if I’m feeling extra fancy, a glass of wine, and some candles.
    2. I allow myself time to get adequate sleep. There are plenty of daily responsibilities to keep me occupied. There’s a reason my 12 year old still goes to bed at 8pm. Because mommy needs some time to unwind at the end of her day.
    3. I painted my nails with clear nail polish. It makes me feel put together, and clear nail polish won’t show if I fudge the lines up a bit.
    4. I write/journal/pray/meditate. There is so much value to alone time, prayer time, centering and grounding time and it doesn’t require anything but a quiet space.
  2. Focus on your goals: What is it I am working towards? I forget SO easily! I had to remind myself, that my goal will never be to eat whatever I want whenever I want. I’ve tried that goal and it does NOT lead to happiness. It leads to bloating, weight gain, being uncomfortable in my clothes, skin breakouts, lack of energy, mood swings…you get the picture. My short term goal is to be 155 pounds by the time I’m a bridesmaid in my best friend’s post-Thanksgiving wedding. My long term goals are to workout 5-7 days per week at the YMCA, to improve my cardiovascular health, to get stronger, and to stop giving up on myself.
  3. Ask for help: This one should seem obvious. This is what I did. I didn’t wait until I had fallen off the wagon, or until I felt like reaching out – I reached out when I realized that it wouldn’t be too long before old habits had their way back into my life. I have been attempting to find someone to keep me accountable consistently. I know this is one of the greatest markers of success, however I haven’t found my “swolemate” haha. That’s ok with me for now. I am really grateful for the group that I joined the challenge with and that I have several friends who are always willing to talk me down when I get hangry! They are also really good encouragement for the times I do happen to slip. In my mind, when I fail once, I’m immediately tempted to throw the whole plan out – put the progress I’ve made aside, and say, ‘Well there’s another lifestyle choice that didn’t work for me’! Thankfully, they remind me that life has twists and turns and messing up is no reason to give up!
  4. Never underestimate the power of a healthy alternative: I have spent a week at my office passing on everything from chocolate lava cake from Chili’s with caramel sauce, to catered cookie trays, to fall Dunkin’ Donuts, to DQ blizzards…There are more ways to get your sugar/pastry fix in this office than if I worked at a bakery! Honest to God, sometimes it really makes me angry! My solution is to always have something naturally sweet on hand. I have natural peanut butter,homemade trail mix , and seltzer water in my office along with Lily’s No Sugar Added chocolate. Any of these in small amounts does the trick. As the weather has been getting cooler, I made roasted butternut squash with apples, kale, and cinnamon. Maybe that sounds weird to some people, but I think getting a nutritionally power-packed side with a touch of sweetness is comforting. I also made soup, because what other warm comfort food is better to modify as a healthy alternative?
  5. Be an example for others to aspire to: This one is about pride. I would dare to say that many of you are similar to me in wanting to stand out above the crowd. So, when someone from my office looks at what I’m eating and says, “Wow, I wish I ate like you do – you look great!” or, “Your salad looks amazing! I should eat more salad”! When they see me consistently choosing nutritional staples and want to emulate that, I am reminded that I get to influence others around me for good. See what I did there, I turned an inclination that usually leads to bad behavior into one that promotes good behavior.
  6. Recognize the real struggle is internal: This is key. Your mind is where your actions begin! When you think about what you want for the day, you make a decision on what you will wear, who you will see, how you will feel. I’d suggest making a mental note when a negative thought comes your way. If you need to write it down – do it. Take those thought and re-shape them into positive ones as often as you can.  I know how easy it is to be sucked into a negative vortex where everything is wrong with life! This is actually entitlement at its worst! You know why that coworker annoys you so much? Because they did one small thing that annoyed you the first time you met them and you decided not to give them the benefit of the doubt.  We have so much to be thankful for – even in the less-than-ideal daily annoyances that come up.
  7. Practice gratitude: This is really an extension of the last point. Research has proven time and time again that gratitude is the key to having a happy, healthy, outlook on life. One huge trigger for feeling inadequate is spending too much time on my social media accounts. I find also that a lot of stress is averted when I don’t pay too much attention to them or I unplug all together.

That’s all I have for now. I’m sure there are more ways to tackle the inevitable ‘slumps’ we all experience. The best part about this list is everything I wrote is free and something everyone is capable of practicing. Writing is my way of self-soothing. If you have any other ideas of things that have worked for you – feel free to place them in the comment section.

 

I Talk to Myself and So Should You.

We all talk to ourselves. Have you ever caught yourself in the act? What are you saying to yourself? Are you self-affirming or self-afflicting? 

Because I have a natural tendency to be negative, I often find myself correcting my initial self-talk so that it reflects and speaks good truths rather than degrading myself or others.  

Here are some of the mantras I’ve been relying on lately to push through those negative thoughts and gain some control over my emotions: 

The least you can do is the most you can do.

Half the time I don’t work out because I simply don’t want to change my clothes. Yep! It’s that easy for me to be dissuaded.

So, next time this happens I’m going to try and persuade myself to take a walk, or walk while I’m watching tv (instead of sitting down) or maybe do a push up/pull up/plank etc…challenge with my kids. Their competitive spirit is a huge resource to me that I should tap into. 

Either way, in the past, I’ve found that just starting something was really all I needed the motivation for. Once I started, I was happy I did and as a result moved my body longer than I had originally planned. 

Motivation is not a prerequisite for movement

There is no one on the planet who always feels motivated to workout and eat right. No. One. So, naturally, you can try and convince yourself every day that you have to feel like working out in order to do it – or you can just make a promise to yourself to do it – and don’t break that promise. 

Keep in mind though for those of you (I’m talking to myself here) that haven’t caught the energy bug that magically makes working out an addicting thing, to 

Be kind to yourself!

One of the things that really amazed me and really kept me going when I first lost 60 pounds was how forgiving the group trainers were! If I simply admitted to them that I messed up or slipped up/ fell off the plan, they listened to what I had to say and then almost always said something along the lines of “just keep going”. 

How many times have I given up because I said to myself “I’m too far gone”? I’ve even quit entire months of good habits with one bad day! C’mon! Life happens! These little slip ups should be anticipated, and forgiven –  not used as an excuse to fall off track completely -not as a “this just doesn’t work for me” excuse. 

Find the simplest way to achieve your goals. Be patient!

This. Takes. Time. 

So much time. It’s going to take time for your body to adapt to eating better and exercising. You will experience headaches, mood swings, fatigue – this is the downside to a detoxing. 

The truth isn’t that you should go back to eating how you were before. Those foods are what put your body in the miserable state to begin with. Keep in mind that no one has to detox broccoli, fresh fruits, water, etc…

Also, your body is not mine. While I find dairy and soy makes me break out, and gluten filled bread makes me bloated – you may not have the same reaction as me. This is why there are so many diet plans. There is no cure-all here. So give your body time to figure out what works best for you and rest! 

Prioritize rest.

I can’t stress enough how valuable rest is! Take it from someone who ran sleep studies for 10 years: our bodies need rest. A whole lot of people don’t sleep enough. We binge watch Netflix late into the night or stay up mindlessly screening our social media accounts – for what? What benefit is that to us? Let’s stop living vicariously through the highlight reel of others and start living a life we want to live.

And get some sleep! This is the easiest way to improve health – literally overnight! No pun intended. Lack of sleep is no joke and is one of the easiest ways to sabotage any efforts we make to live normal, sane lives during our waking hours. 

If you’re reading this, are there any mantras you repeat to help yourself stay on track? I’d love to hear them and maybe adopt them! 

#realtalk I’ve Seen Your Future

Let’s keep up with the #realtalk and discuss the issue of healthcare as it relates to exercising and eating right.

I have worked in health care as a technologist since 2004. I’d like to make yet another compelling case for taking care of your body NOW. Not in 10 years, not after your first health scare (which incidentally could be your last), not next week – NOW.

In my last post, I addressed choices. We as humans – especially Americans – are given so many choices in our daily lives. I think some of the reason choices are made in a mindless way is that we are creatures of habit, also we don’t immediately see the consequences of every action.

Allow me to give some perspective as someone who has seen the future.

I see you, an 80-year-old, who took good care of yourself. Ate farm to table, took daily walks, and stayed active – didn’t let your age or setbacks stop you from keeping up with your care.

You cost the least to insure. You save America a LOT of moolah in health care costs. And, when you step through the door of the doctor’s office where I work, you have better health outcomes, a better chance of healing from your setbacks, you have better mobility, you have healthy kids, healthy grandkids, and healthy great-grandchildren.

I also see you, 45-year-old who put your body through hell. Whether it was fast food, a sedentary lifestyle, too much tv/video games/ screen time, holding on to stress and bitterness. I see that you barely had the motivation to go to the doctor after a lifetime of soreness, achy bones, itchy skin, GI issues, and now diabetes. I see you ask for yet another pill on top of a long list of pills dying for relief.

This is a harsh reality, but if you are patient #2, and you are reading this:  do yourself a solid and find a way – no matter what you have to go through – to care for yourself better. You may already be running down the typical list of reasons why you haven’t begun:

“My family has bad genes”. I have read your medical chart some of it is bad genes – a lot of it is inherited bad habits. Your choices aren’t helping you stave off the affects of those bad genes.

My knees/back/shoulders etc hurt”. Modify! Get into a club/class/program, and modify. The least you can do is the most you can do. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Go ahead and test your limitations. Just don’t quit.

I just don’t have the motivation”.  Motivation is not a prerequisite to movement.

“What should I do”? Move your body. If you like tv – watch it while you’re on the treadmill/row machine/stationary bike. If you like to dance – pop on youtube and do your thing. If you want to punch everyone in the head – box! There are SO many ways you can move your body in ways that work for you. Just stop telling yourself that only body builders and personal trainers workout. Lots of every day people do. All you have to do is move.

“I’m too busy”. You will have less time to live by not working out – trust me, this one pays off in the end and also in the during.

I can’t afford it” – It costs nothing to take a walk or hike. Fresh produce is priced lower per pound than meat. Water is free. Do the best you can with what you have. Planning meals cost SO much less than eating out – even eating fast food these days is expensive!

It’s too difficult” – So is living in constant pain.

There is temptation everywhere”. I know! We are in this together. If I can’t help you, someone else can.  Find them – and reach out.

If you can think of another excuse – treat it as just that – an excuse! We either make excuses or we make a way. I’m telling you this out of love. I tell this to my children often. Eating right and moving your body doesn’t automatically mean everyone gets a long life and dies of old age, but it makes the life you do have that much more enjoyable.

Please understand that if this post hurt your feelings it’s because it resonated with you- all it takes is one foot in front of the other. One choice at a time – one day at a time. Your body is a gift and if you treat it as one – your mind will start to recognize it as one.

Girl vs. Cookie

I’m trying to lose weight. I look at both the figurative and literal plate in front of me and it is full.  The figurative plate is full of responsibilities from working to pay bills, raising and moulding the two eternal souls I’ve been entrusted with, being an active member of my church, keeping up with the household, keeping up with friends, showering and other general hygiene practices etc… My plate is full and the portion is generous. Often times, my plate is too full, I delegate some of my portion, other parts of it fall off, some get thrown away.

In the smallest corner of my figurative life plate is a portion I keep for myself. Sometimes, I forget to protect this portion. Sometimes, I give this portion away and I suffer for it. As a result of my suffering, others who are in my realm of care suffer as well.

Often, when my figurative plate is full – so is my literal plate. Every emotion available to man seems to be a reason to eat. Eat when happy, eat when sad, eat when mourning, eat when celebrating, eat when lonely, eat when bored. We used to just eat to live. Now, we have the benefit of eating when and how we want – which makes eating right a responsibility rather than the only option available.

With that being said, I’ll admit what you probably can relate to: Sometimes eating right and exercising are NOT on my to do list.

Last week, I had planned on starting the Daily Burn 365 series and working out 6 days per week. Monday was off to a good start. I ate healthy at work all day and was flying off good energy and positive vibes. Then around 5pm, when I got home from work – I hit a wall of headache, fatigue, and moodiness. So I told myself I would work out Tuesday and by Wednesday gave up again.

I was praying and telling God, “I just don’t feel like working out. I feel like giving up. I feel like eating whatever I want”. After this defeated prayer, I fully intended to follow through on my exit plan.

When I got to work, there were cookies in the fridge (because for some reason people think cookies need to go in the fridge). I took out an m&m cookie, broke off a piece, and looked at it thinking: “I don’t want to feel like crap all day because of this choice. I don’t want a sugar rush, and sugar crash, and all the emotional garbage that will probably come with making this one decision on impulse”.

So, I didn’t eat it. I threw it away. It wasn’t magic – I simply made a decision.

Every day we make so many choices and each choice we make is either a healing one or a hurtful one.

Often times, we get stuck in these healing or hurting cycles. I realize that this sentiment can be applied to every area of our lives. Is it healing for me to binge watch something on Netflix or harmful? Does eating half of a cookie for breakfast set me on a path of hurt? Can one bad choice lead to another until a mess of bad choices leaves me with a bad life or one I’m not happy with?  Does making one good choice have the potential to snowball into other good choices for myself, for my family, for the lives of those I care about?

What’s important is making choices that work for you. Not everyone’s priorities look the same.

How many people are trapped in a cycle of what hurts them – knowing that it does not benefit them, but not sure how to stop it? Anyone who has suffered from an addiction knows that the first thing you do is start. Ok, maybe the first thing you do is admit you have a problem and seek help, but you get where I’m going.

This may not hit you in the warm and tinglys, but you won’t always feel motivated to workout and eat right, BUT

You don’t need motivation to do what’s right!

Nike the shit out of that and Just. Do. It.  (P.s. – credit to Wendy’s fiance’ Joe who posted these sentiments on his Instagram. I legit stole this insight from his post!)

I’m giving myself a pep talk here because I need it. There was a time when working out was a habit, was a healthy addiction, and was enjoyable. Somehow, it became a chore, then an obligation, then something I didn’t do.

Working out needs to be something I do regularly because every area of my life improves when I am. Today I started again. Here’s to tomorrow!

Self-Care: A Letter to my Body

Before I write this letter, I want to thank my faithful friend Wendy for being a beacon of encouragment and help since the day I met her. She encouraged me a while back when I reached out to her with how much I’m struggling to write a letter to myself as if I was speaking to a friend who was going through a difficult time. With that suggestion, she completely shifted my perspective and helped me to realize I would not talk to a friend the way I’ve talked to myself.

Dear Body, 

I want to apologize to you for how I have treated you. I have put you through physical and mental abuse. My mind has been a bully to you. She keeps telling me, you aren’t living up to the ideal of physical perfection. She gets a glimpse of you in the mirror and nitpicks those thick thighs, wide hips, tummy pooch, double chin, and cankles. Somewhere you were told you weren’t enough, and you started to believe it.

Body, I forget sometimes that you have birthed two healthy, vivacious boys. I don’t appreciate you enough or thank you that your 7 year old can still run full speed and jump into your arms without it hurting you. I forgot to say thank you for helping me bike 10 miles around an island with a 7 year old riding tandem up a plethora of hills. I didn’t appreciate that my shoulders remained intact when I played on the monkey bars with my 12 year old.

In my attempts to make you “perfect” all I really wanted was to be worthy of love and acceptance. However, I was witholding acceptance from you. I put you in a hostage situation without a key.

There were times you and I worked hard. We did HIIT, and pull ups, push ups, planks, burpees, and more. We lifted things up and put them back down. There were times when I took good care of you, and other times I did not. You kept letting me know when I was taking care of you by growing in strength, giving me a clear mind and a good night’s sleep. 

You let me know when I wasn’t taking good care of you too. You don’t lie.

Somewhere during our journey, my mind messed with me. It told me I had to keep on trying to pursue a perfect body, instead of a healthy one. It kept telling me that no matter how strong I was or how much weight I would lose, that you still had work to do. It kept telling me that caring for myself physically was the only way others would accept me. 

This negative mindset has been difficult to shed. More difficult than losing weight in fact. Body, as hard as it is to believe, my self worth isn’t tied to you.

You are a vessel and a blessing and that is how I wish to treat you. You are a gift to me to use in order to pour out love to those around me. You are strong!

Let me list some of the amazing things you can do:

You can wrestle with your kids. You can jog over a mile. You have jogged a half marathon. You can dance awkwardly (hello zumba). You can hike through the woods. You can carry in all the bags of groceries because you know you’re not going to take 2 trips. You can stand on your head! You can play piano. You can juggle. You can drive a stick shift. You can hug. You can keep trying because wherever you are now doesn’t have to be where you’ll end up!

I apologize for putting you through this body. I forgot who I am, and I forgot whose I am. However, I have every intention of reminding you each day that you are capable, that you want your choices to reflect who you were made to be, and that you do not have to trek through this life alone. Body, for as many people would negate things about you that don’t line up with their ideas of asthetics, you have so many people who want you to thrive! Look to them for encouragement. Do not get stuck in the idea that you have to do this all alone. 

You are loved and you are held. That is who you are.

~Love Christie

Why Being Strict is More Freeing than Doing Whatever I want

The blessing of limitations

The question was posed at church this Sunday: Which of my desires cause freedom? Which of my desires leads to slavery?

We live in a world with a prominent theology that says, “Freedom means doing whatever you want, whenever you want”. Even though reality is entirely opposite- this type of thinking prevails. Every time I would go to diet, I struggled with the following verse from Matthew 25:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 

Is tracking my food leading to freedom or am I enslaved to MyFitnessPal and my food choices by the drudgery that is weighing, measuring, and tracking each bite?

Tracking my food intake and modifying appropriately as my body changed was the first step I took in successfully losing 60 pounds, so why had it become such an enemy? After re-reading verses 25-33 the context these words were written was one meant to help keep its readers from worry as it says in verse 27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to his life?” 

Tracking my food is what keeps me from worrying if I have over eaten. This type of worrying in the past has left me depriving myself by keeping an ever-growing list of things I could not eat. Then ultimately, it would lead to guilt when I couldn’t adhere to my own rules.

So, as I pondered the inital question – ‘which of my desires were leading me to freedom and which to slavery’? My great “Aha”! moment came when I realized, I need these boundaries to be free.

I have a vast knowledge of the things I should and shouldn’t eat. I know by now what foods give me energy, and which drains me. I know which food mess with my psyche making me moody and unmotivated. So why is it so difficult to choose what’s best for me? Because I am missing two key components: accountability and boundaries. This blog may be me just talking to myself, but even if I see that 1 person has read it, even if they didn’t hit the ‘like’ button, it keeps me accountable. I work on setting boundaries almost daily. I work on creating boundaries that keep me healthy and sane rather than those that keep me tied down and obsessive. THAT is where I need to find balance!

Let me tell you that I can not just ‘wing it’ when it comes to my health. I need prepping, and pre-cooking, and preparing because, by default, I’m multi-tasking almost every moment of my day. I need goals to keep me focused, my handy tips and tricks to pull from, and daily preparation to keep me on point with my goals.

At times the only thing I feel I can cling to is an unwillingness to give up. I have to shift some of my priorities as life happens, but I’m never willing to quit.

 

Weekend vs. Weekday choices

When I decide to ‘enjoy life’ by indulging in sweets, am I falling back into old habits or can I take it for what it is: a treat, and move on?

This is the balance I’m trying to find. I know there is a time and place to loosen the reigns and allow yourself to indulge and there are times when indulging is exactly what starts another out of control spiral, but what is the difference?

For instance, it’s easy for me to realize that I don’t want to indulge in cookies, donuts, and pastries every time they show up in my office. The office is not a place where I get enjoyment from those things. I am usually indulging in them to escape boredom.

This weekend, I did something I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do.

I was eating breakfast with my husband at The Toast Office (cute name, I know). I ordered my favorite breakfast: Banana pancakes, 2 eggs over easy, turkey sausage, 2 slices of bacon, home fries, and buttered toast with a side of coffee with just cream in it.

I managed to eat both pancakes, 1 egg, 1 each of the turkey sausage and bacon, 1/2 a slice of toast, and about 3/4 of the home fries. My stomach was satisfied, but I heard my eyes telling me I could probably polish off the rest of the plate.

For the first time in memory: I didn’t. I looked at what was left, and put it in a to go box. I recognized my limit and decided to make a choice to listen to my body instead of my compulsion. I’m not saying that what I did eat wasn’t a lot. I ate a lot of food and I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed keeping within my limits rather than testing them.

Friday night, I had a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry with some new friends we were showing around town. I ate healthy all day Saturday, and then had a bottle of wine with my healthy dinner and binge-watched The Handmaid’s Tale. Sunday, I ate out for breakfast, dinner, and had a dessert.

There is half of me that is tempted to give myself a hard time about it. But the other part of me is also so grateful I got to make new friends on Friday, I had time to rest and be alone on Saturday night, and I took a nice hike with my family on Sunday.

This weekend was different because I got to enjoy life. I wasn’t eating out of any negative emotions. That doesn’t mean I should have had all the food that I did. It just means that my why is changing my how.

One thing I have found that is helping is keeping unhealthy food that I’m tempted to overindulge in out of the house. The next thing I would like to try is to say no when I simply don’t want something. This happens most often in social situations where I say yes, because I don’t want to make things difficult. This is really an old habit of telling myself that always being agreeable equates to people liking you. I’m working on it…