In a Coffee Shop

Please enjoy this short-story, which I’ll be reading this Thursday, Sept 25, at The Starving Artist (a coffee shop!)  Come by for an hour of inspiration and yummy treats from Missoula favorites like Big Dipper and Bernices.

I finish your latte with a wispy furl across the foam: a fancy heart on top.

“Here you go,” I smile and glide the hot cup towards you. Will you notice my heart? Don’t get me wrong; it’s nothing romantic. You’re not my type. . I just wonder if you’ll notice, but your eyes drop, as usual. Your head nods in silent thanks. I glimpse that notebook — the one you always carry tucked under your arm — and you shuffle for your favorite table in the corner. I sigh then go back to work wiping the foaming nozzle clean of its milk mustache. This is the routine. Smile. Concoct. Serve.

That may be the routine, but it’s my habit to make it always about the customers. I’ll flavor our conversations but never go beyond chit-chat. Whatever words I have I serve sparingly. Of course, in Customer Service, I have to leave a bit of myself behind. I work on the periphery of a hundred lives moving in and out of this shop every day. It’s about them, not me. Still, in this place of a thousand encounters with no connections, I wish they would smile a little longer. Not a fake, thank-you-but-I-have-a-million-more-important-things-to-do-than-this, kind of smile. A deep smile that sees all the way through (like dolphins – did you know dolphins can see our bones when we’re underwater with their echo clicks?) I want to be seen like that.

Dear Diary,

I’m tired of recording my thoughts in this notebook and not seeing any change in my life. I feel like a bottle of champagne stored in a cellar. I’m ready to bubble over if I could just find the right twist and pop the cork. I know my best self is inside, desperate to get out, but apparently these pages aren’t out far enough.   I need to do more than just scribble secrets between the lines. I just saw a TED Talk by Brené Brown. She said, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” I guess that’s what I want: courage. Courage to change, but the idea of vulnerability sounds scary.

It could end badly, like the time I tried to join that cycling club. I wanted to reach out and find more girls like me who like to get outside and ride the hills, so I showed up at their meeting (with a pan of brownies as an offering). When it came time to introduce myself, “Hi, my name is…ya-da,ya-da…and I like to ride the trails around here, but I…just….WOMEN!” My arms flung themselves from my sides, like I had just returned from a dessert island to discover a whole, new race of humans (these ones with bumps on the front). Eyes dropped and shoulders angled away. After introductions circled around the room, I grabbed my pan and disappeared.

That’s my experience with vulnerability, but — if it helps me find my best self — I think it would be worth it. Honestly, if I can’t connect with myself, the best I’ll ever do is use others to reflect back to me who I am. I want to be truer than that.

What would the true me look like? I’d spend Saturday mornings trolling the farmers’ market with feathery carrot tops poking out the top of my bag. I’d buy cucumbers so sweet and crisp I’d have to eat them while I shop. My clothes would fit better. I’d give off a high-frequency friendliness. I’d catch myself smiling. I want to be there, instead of here, hiding in my notebook with a latte. Could it be different? Could it?

The last rush of customers for the night is gone, so it’s just you and me in the shop. I like to watch you there, leaning forward like the pen is pulling you into your pages. Every so often, you stop to think and take a sip. I wonder, did you notice the heart pattern I carved into the foam for you this time? Which pattern would it take for you to stay a little longer at the counter? I just want someone to linger. I want to be seen, and have someone stay in grateful thanks, like they would if I coasted through a campground peddling doughnuts. I’d cruise a slow loop in a retrofitted car – something ironic, like a black hearse – and raise droopy campers with wafts of fresh fry dough.   They would shuffle towards me – half asleep and half in awe – as I lurch to a stop and pop open the back. I’d sneak that guy a maple bar and that girl a fritter. They would stick around, in blissful loiter, as if to say “Oh, that you’d wake up early to make doughnuts for us. Oh, that you would come all the way out here. Oh, please can you come tomorrow?” They’d ask questions about me. Random, really, but their momentary interest would trade just as well as any currency.

It’s silly, I know – and you should know — I realize I cannot ask for all that and expect to avoid risk. It doesn’t work like that. I’m the one who hasn’t taken the conversation deeper. I haven’t exactly volunteered for vulnerability, even the mild kind. I know this about myself. I also suspect that’s why life pretty much has to slap me alongside the head to offer me a chance to change (which — now that I think of it – only makes me more skittish to risk anything).

Dear Diary,

The coffee came with a heart in the foam this time. How do they do that? I’d probably not even order a latte – think of all those calories – except I like the surprise etched on top every time. It’s something special, just for me. The fact that it’s a heart this time seems to me no accident. I’ve been thinking that finding myself might be about more than losing weight or becoming some ideal. I think it goes deeper than that. I think I need to learn to love myself. I mean, I don’t hate myself. I don’t even not like myself. I think I love myself so much that I’m steaming mad about not being able to experience that love. I have no idea how. Instead, I eat doughnuts.

I’ve got friends who insist that, “You’re perfect, just as you are!” I want to agree, but something feels off about that. Not the perfect part; the insisting part. If I really love myself like that, why would I have to convince me or anyone else? Feels like trying too hard.

I get the same wonky feeling about unconditional love (the whole “I love you, no matter what” thing). Every time someone says that, I think, What’s the “no matter what?” No matter the 100 pounds I’ve gained? Sure, “no matter what” can numb the sting for a time, but worry festers in the background. What if I gain the weight back? I need something that trumps all that. I want to look in the mirror, see a happy person, and – oh, by the way – I just happen to be my best self. That’s how I want love to come.

Behind the counter here, cups want washing. Out there, spoons crowd the dirty jar, but I don’t care. I’d rather watch you, in the corner, scratching your ankle with your shoe while you write. Mosquito bite driving you crazy? I wouldn’t care if you took off your shoes to douse the itch. If I told you as much, would that be awkward? If I risked invading your bubble, would you respond? I’m not sure you would. I don’t believe it. I’m like a fish who doesn’t believe in water simply because water’s all that’s ever been and, so, all that’s never noticed. Am I the fish or the water? In this book I’m reading by some French philosopher named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, he says, “Everything that rises must converge.” I’m not sure I want to converge, but I do want to poke my head up out of my protective, liquid layer with clear ears to hear the meaning of conversations that have sounded only muffled to me before.

Dear Diary,

When I think about connection and vulnerability and courage I think about risk or freedom. They’re related somehow. If you think of all the great freedom fighters, they all seemed to start with having the courage to be vulnerable and risk something. There were stakes involved.

Aaahhh — dang mosquito bite, itches like a –

They probably didn’t realize it at the time, but I think they needed to risk something, just to counter all the blowback that would come. That way, amid all the questions and criticism, or even their own self-doubts, they could say, “No, I did the work. I gave what it took.” What should I give? What are my stakes? I’m not out to change the world, but I would like to lose some weight and feel better in my skin. Where does that start? Should I trade treats for celery sticks? Should I give up my lunch hour for a long walk? All that seems tiny, like it’s not enough. No, that’s not it. Dieting and working out help but they’re what come after; after the vulnerability, after the risk, when that cork pops and energy bubbles into action. I mean, when I’m on my deathbed, am I going to say, “By golly, I ate right and exercised!” I don’t think so. Whatever I say, the words will be there because I was vulnerable enough to risk speaking my freedom.

You look lost in thought. Do you need a refill? Should I offer you a free one on me?

How do I speak my freedom? I don’t have the words yet, but I don’t have to write anything down to know what’s next. The very thing I try so hard to avoid, that’s where I must go.

If I came over with a pot and smiled…? I wish I was more of a conversation starter. I’ll just grab the dirty spoons and see if you look over.

I have to look inside, be vulnerable enough to see what I fear most. I must fuse my guts to the backbone of the fear. Understand it. Know it. Sit with it.

Is it a good time to sit down across from you? Too much? Awkward?

Even if it’s uncomfortable, I must let others see me. If I can’t do that, how will I ever see myself?

What if you don’t like what you see? I’m not a friend, just a half-life accessory in this coffee shop. You don’t need to open up your life story to me.

How could I open up? How can I make space for something to break open? II know. This is it.

You’re stopping. You’re closing your notebook, sticking the pen in the spiral edge. Oh, you’re putting on your coat.

Yes, I’m going to do this. This is perfect. Just lay it down.

You’re getting up. You’re leaving.

Keep walking.

You’re headed for the door.

Let the door shut. Don’t look back. Just leave it there.

Wait, you left your notebook.

Take Home Tip

Change requires risk.

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Find out more about how dolphins can see all the way through to our bones, from Radiolab

Listen to Brene Brown’s TEDx talk about vulnerability

What do you think about being vulnerable and the need for connection?
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Do Want Your Outside to Match Your Inside? Find out how in the latest 100 Pounds in 1 Year Weight Loss eGuide

When I share my 100 pounds story, people always ask, “How did you keep your will power going to lose all that weight?”

That’s when I nod.  I know exactly how they feel.

Find out how I maintained my will power and cleared common hurdles in, “I Want My Outside to Match My Inside,” the 100 Pounds weight loss eGuide which answers the question, “How do you keep going?”

IWantMyOutsidetoMatchMyInsideCoverSmall100Poundsin1YearIf you’ve been riding the weight loss roller coaster most of your life, then the last thing you need is someone telling you it’s going to be easy this time. I’ll admit it — straight out – easy would be great. Hard sucks. Too hard to lose weight. Too hard to keep it off. Too hard to live with that undying dream of feeling comfortable in my skin again.  That dream never goes away, though, does it? Even people who’ve lost a lot of weight will admit they have trouble matching their new body to their old body image. Even they want their inside to match their outside.

This eGuide stays true to that dream. In witty, practical terms, I cover the mental hurdles I faced while losing 100 pounds in 1 year. In this digital pdf download, I untangle obstacles (It’s never as easy as all the diet gurus want it to be.) I tell stories of how I crossed the gap between what I wanted and my inability to get there. In charting the not-so-straight line from fat to skinny, I unearth the wisdom that taught me how to become a bridge across that gap. Today, I experience life with greater focus, more energy, and expanding joy, no matter what the scale reads. That, in itself, is a huge lift of weight. I hope this eGuide inspires you to launch your own lift.

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Curious why “I Want My Outside to Match My Inside” is different than everything else you’ve tried before?  Try this on for size…

  • I won’t schmooze you with easy, but I will share the insights that super-charged my ability to keep going
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  • Power-packed truths which most weight loss books like to leave out (the messy stuff too complex for simple how-to’s)
  • Inspiration to relieve your burdens and boost you up when the couch beckons
  • When you share in my struggles, then you get to enjoy the triumphs, too!
  • PLUS:

Every 100 Pounds in1 Year eGuide containsBuy eGuide from 100 Pounds in 1 Year

To wet your taste buds, here’s a sneak-peek at the Table of Contents:

  • I Want My Outside to Match My Inside
  • 3 Ways to Get Small or Go Big
  • Am I the Fat One or the Skinny One?
  • Take a Vacation from the Diet War
  • The Funnel of Love
  • Switching Gears
  • Putting the Cart Before the Horse
  • The Gap
  • Bonus Chapter: Living in the Between
  • Reflection Worksheets

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Get More Results Out of Less Effort: Learn from the mistakes I made, and the lessons I gleaned, through my 100 pounds journey.  Packed with lots of smart, time-saving ideas to keep you motivated.

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Sneak Peek Chapter: “I Want My Outside to Match My Inside”

100 Pounds Weight Loss eGuide, "I Want My Outside to Match My Inside:Here’s a sneak-peek at a chapter from the next 100 pounds weight loss eGuide, launching in just 1 week!

Have you ever experienced a diet intervention?  I’m talking about this is our last ditch effort before we call the men in the white coats type of intervention.  Mine was in the heat of a sizzling parking lot in mid-summer.  I had left a meeting and couldn’t wait to retreat to the air conditioning of my car when two, dear friends tagged up with me.  I call them dear friends because only my sincerest buds become the Truth Tellers in my life.

As I reached for my keys, they wedged me between two SUVs.  They had concerns about the HCG diet I had been on during the last week.  The intervention went like this…

“It’s just that, we don’t think eating only 500 calories a day is very healthy,” Karen explains, fingertips resting at the edge of her chin (Which was slight, given that she worries more about how to eat 500 extra calories each day to keep her flesh on.)

“Yeah, 500 is not a lot” M.C. coos in soft solidarity.

“Yes, I know,” I agree, lifting my right hand in the air, like I’m swearing on a Bible.  “That’s why I am being careful.”  Big pause.  Their faces remain unconvinced.  “I’m watching for the typical signs,” I add.  “You know, headache, dizzy, fatigue; I’m not getting any of that.”  My hands fall to my sides, making a slapping sound against taut jeans.  Didn’t they see my hips?  Why were they grilling me like this?

“What if it doesn’t work, though?” Karen presses, leaning in.  “What if it’s not safe?” M.C. overlaps.

“I know, I know.”  I step back and bump into a car door.  I clench for a millisecond, waiting for the alarm to make this moment even more embarrassing.

Nothing

Then…disappointment.

At least the alarm would’ve squelched this mutiny.  Instead, they’re silent.  They shift in their sandals.  They cross their arms.  They want me to capitulate.  I know I won’t, though.  I’ve made my decision.  This is not about what makes sense.  It’s deeper than reason.   “It’s just that…how do I explain?”  I let out a gravelly grunt and rub salty sweat into my brow.  I’m determined to express in words what my body has begged for every day of my life.  I dig further.  I stretch my brain.  Then something cracks.  A protective layer, fortified for years, splits and spills out what my soul knows, but I cannot hear.  This feels like open-heart surgery, and I’m angling the scalpel for the crucial cut.  Then, I have it.  My eyes spark.  My lungs expand, so I can release my inner truth in one breath, “I want my outside to match my inside.”  My shoulders slump as I depressurize.  That was it.  That’s all I got.  Then, smiles push up their faces.

They feel it, too.  Perhaps they recognize the ache.  Maybe they want the same, not about weight but about their outside lives.  At some point, we all feel that disconnect between who we are and what we want our life to be.   Maybe they understand the raw place I had just exposed.   In any case, there’s no more discussion after that.  I accept their gracious hugs.  We get into our cars and drive away into our lives.

That day, my friends helped me connect with myself.  I knew that I had always believed in the existence of the best version of me, on the inside.  I just didn’t always look like her on the outside.  I had little experience walking in her shoes, wearing her clothes, or doing what she would do, but I could always sense her there.  She’s always been with me.  My biggest challenge is how to let her out, how to merge my world with her wisdom and live the life I’ve always wanted.

I see her inner wisdom when I examine the wake of my journey so far, particularly the last six months.  My weight loss has slowed as I get closer to my healthy body weight.  Biologically, I’m right in line with a weight loss pace that will ensure I keep it off.  My inner wisdom knows this; it is not discouraged at the extra time I’ve needed to lose weight.   Shedding 100 pounds is taking longer than I had planned, but my effort has not been a waste.  I’ve had all this extra time to excavate the real me and adjust my self-image to a real-life reflection of that girl inside.  I’ve needed the pounds to come off slower and slower in order to reprogram my self-image.  I know I’m not alone in this need.  Many people live with a disconnect between their true image and how they see themselves in their heads.  For a stark example of this difference, check out the Dove Real Beauty Sketches…

Still, if I had lost 100 pounds right away, I could’ve gotten what I wanted.  However, my heart and mind could not have kept up with my new body.  In time, without a new self-image to anchor my course, I probably would have reverted to old habits and regained the weight (exactly what happened after that HCG diet.)  Instead, I’m using this extra time to rewire my brain.  I’m nurturing a new image with a new neural net.  This time, I’m flipping it around.  I’m matching my inside to my outside.

To reshape my self-image, I’m practicing a technique stylized after Jeff Olson’s book, “The Slight Edge,” in which he centers tangible success on a single principle.  According to Mr. Olson, the Slight Edge principle cultivates success using a series of steps which are

Tiny
Effortless
Almost-too-simple

Think of the things that are easy to do and easy not to do.  That difference makes all the difference.  Small actions produce big returns because they compound over time, like the blue chip stock of life.

Weekend Way-In, trading the scale for sassy celebrations of tiny victorys, from 100poundsin1year.netAfter reading this book, I brainstormed my own slight edge strategy.  It’s easy to do.  In fact, if you’ve ever lost any amount of weight, then I bet you’ve already done it.  It’s also easy not to do, which is why I gained 100 pounds to begin with.  To keep that from happening again, I’m practicing one thing:  noticing.  I notice when I do more than I could before.  I notice when my clothes fit different.  I notice when I don’t hide like I used to.  When I spot these tiny victories, I write them down.  I’m dubbing my observations “Weekend Way-Ins.”  The pun is totally intentional.  No more weekend weigh-in’s on the scale to measure my progress.  Instead, I note the “way-in” to the girl inside.  Each celebration is a way into her.

 

 

 

Take Home Tip

Small actions produce big returns because they compound over time, like the blue chip stock of life.

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Check out “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson

Mark it on  your calendar:  Sept 1:  buy 100 pounds eGuide, “I Want My Outside to Match My Inside”

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Epiphany in the Veggie Isle

The veggie isle — this mountain of health piled in one place — is Barb’s Mecca. She craves health. Staring at mounds of veggies kept crisp with a quick spritz every hour, she returns out of hope. Plus, she carries more than her hips will allow in thirty years. Even heavier, though, is the dense desire to feel better in her skin. So she comes. Then she waits. Tiny movements – a exhale of air, a shift to the other leg — make room for some stem or stalk to whisper veggie wisdom. But nothing. She had hoped her presence, her abject willingness, would spark something; anything to break up her gluey insides and surge toward a new stage in life.

Barb searches for a friendly face: carrots. Tamed to a suburban familiarity, carrot sticks were every soccer mom’s scepter of health. She remembers knighting tired kiddos with baggies full of healthy intention. True, Barb had julienned enough carrots to slay a measure of vegetable ignorance. Cucumbers, too. Slices and slices of cucumbers. A mental picture flashes in Barb’s head. Thin, see–through discs of cucumber rest on limp eyelids like coins on a corpse not yet ready to die. Maybe…skip the cucumbers. She shakes it off and scans for the more vague veggies: Grecian columns of leeks, bullwhips of green onions, and round, stubby turnips. These all seemed reserved for the pros, especially the turnips.

Barb steps toward the pile of turnips (Or are they parsnips? She reads the price sign to make sure.) Leaning in, she grabs one from the top. Turning its heavy bottom in her palm, she feels its bed-head of rooty hair tickle her fingers. A blush of purple skirts the fibrous grooves around its base. Funny that such a boring looking food dare to sport a sassy streak of color like that. Somewhere she read that purple was a sign of important nutrients. Can’t remember what, but purple was good, definitely good. Maybe they have something in common, her and this turnip. Maybe they’re both good for something.

Turnips have proven their resilience — having survived centuries of culinary coups — but Barb knows nothing of what to do with them. They aren’t like the potato or onion which anyone can throw into hot water and call rock soup. She abandons the root to its pile. Maybe that’s how they survived. Turnips tucked themselves into the earth, waiting for someone with a taste for more than mere rocks to bring them to life and infuse them with hearty purpose, preferably with added salt and butter. There must be some way to squeeze the secrets from the lowly turnip — even if you couldn’t get any blood from them – but she hadn’t a clue.

No one was going to get blood from Barb anytime soon, either. This morning’s annual checkup at the doctor proved that. The well of scarlet pumped out so fast that she fainted just as the nurse fumbled for a second vile to catch the stream. Barb’s head slumped to her chest just as the needle pulled out.

That may have been a good thing, though; considering it may be the only rest she gets all day. From the moment she leaned into the fridge to snag some creamer for her coffee, Barb was pissed.

“Crap!” she pulled the open spout away just in time to remember. “Damn test,” she muttered, knowing the creamer would mess up the blood draw she had to make it to in just under 40 minutes. Barb hated blood draws. She hated the fasting even more. No time for coffee anyway. Maybe that was the Big Diet Secret: no time to eat, no time to gain weight! Barb threw the creamer back in the fridge. Her stomach growled at its hollow hole. She surveyed her schedule for the day, which was anything but empty. First the test. Then arrive late to work (if she wanted to eat something and not faint during the two hour marathon marketing meeting). Remember to make this phone call and pay that bill. Dinner:

late or just pick something up on the way. Home: crash on the couch and let all that stress-induced Cortisol running through her hungry veins pack away her dinner into more belly fat.

For Barb, this unexpected knock-out was a bonus.

“Whew,” the nurse said before she realized Barb wasn’t listening. “We’ve got enough blood here for next year’s test, too!”

Barb didn’t notice, and she wouldn’t have laughed if she had. You could dice a carrot in the time it took to yank the bloody tip from the inside of Barb’s arm, press a clump of cotton to its red freckle, and tape over with a purple band aid, set at just the wrong angle as to irritate Barb whenever she bent her arm the rest of the day. All that took only seconds. What took longer — what the nurse nor the needle did not notice — was the mental clot prying free within Barb’s mind. Even as her head hung heavy from the rush of sap from flesh, Barb went somewhere else.

She stood at the base of a mountain. Not the veggie kind but a rocky, looming tower. It sharpened to a snowy point like in those fitness magazines with annoying women smiling at the top of some French Alp. Have you noticed how – even as they pose smug in the ultra-bright sun – the climbers look as if no one else is up there with them? Hello! Who’s taking the picture?!

Barb lodged her hands in the small of her back (taking note of her not-insignificant butt shelf) and eyeballed the mountain’s height. A twinge told her it was high enough. This was not good news. But, as dreams often come pre-packaged with backstory, this one did not disappoint. Barb instinctively knew she was to climb this mountain. That fact required no explanation, no justification. She only scanned the stone wall in front of her, looking for a place to start. Skirting the edge, Barb strolled twenty feet when she found a rope. “Ah-hah!” she smarted to the lonely rock. She tested the rope with a yank, thinking, This has been done before. Maybe it won’t be so bad. With both hands feeling for a tight grip, she noticed a soft sheen to the twine just two feet up or so; probably where everyone took their first pull off the ground. Speaking of that, Barb worried, Could she even get off the ground? This wasn’t going to be a repeat of grade school gym class when she couldn’t even make it five feet up, right? The top was waiting, though, and with no helicopters in site, Barb stretched her arms to the soft cord above her head, gave a tug, and…lifted off. Hmmm, not so bad. The same backstory which scripted her climb had been thoughtful enough to lighten her hips, strengthen her arms, or dial down the gravity. Nice!

After scaling higher than any of her gym classmates ever had, Barb paused to catch her breath. She wedged her right foot into a crevice and stiffened straight, using her bones to take pressure off of her muscles. Sure would be nice to have some stairs built into all this rock, she thought, wiping salty sweat from her face. Better yet, an escalator. Yeah, an escalator of carrot slices! Little, orange discs rising up to meet your feet as you step up. This idea gave Barb a fresh burst of energy, and she readied her arms for another round of pull ups.

Just then, at the very second her big toe dislodged from its comfy perch, a gust of wind hugged Barb’s bulk and forced her off center. She dangled, confused muscles flailing while hands clutched tighter. Barb gasped, sucking the wind inside as it tussled her outsides. She pointed her toes for the crevice. It was gone. With legs stabbing empty air, Barb suddenly felt the full force of her weight, as if the fifty pounds she left at the bottom of the mountain had finally caught up. She swung with the breeze. Fingers slipped. Palms burned. Feet scuffed the sides. Loose rock dislodged and pebbled down the mountain’s incline. It was a waterfall of wind, slate, and sweat; only there wasn’t any turquoise gazing pool to catch her fall below. Barb saw and knew all this in a split-second. In the second half of the split, she thought, Great, isn’t this how it always ends for me? If I’m lucky – hah! – I’ll get to start over again.

But she didn’t. She wouldn’t because there was Barb floating in mid-air.

Of course, it took only seconds for this mini-miracle to trump Barb’s panic and get her to notice. After catching her breath, Barb realized that something had caught her. Or was it holding her? She leaned forward, gazing over her belly to check for carrot slices. Nope. She glanced over both shoulders. Her hips counter-swiveled in a suspended twist, but there was not a safety rope anywhere. She was simply still. She held her breath, trying not to scare the miracle. Whatever it was, she wanted it to last, like the electric current that buzzes on your tongue after sucking on a nib of licorice.

The wind came up again, only this time, not so hard. This time, not so rude. In fact, the curl of air felt more like a Latino lover wrapping her hips in a sultry twirl. She raised her arms to catch her balance (If she ever did dance in the arms of a man and raised her arms like that, she hoped she’d have thought to shave her armpits.) Barb splayed her feet flat and wide, anchoring to a floor that wasn’t there. The air became still again. She relaxed along with it and looked around. Birds played in the wind just over her head. She caught a shimmer off a sharp edge, near the rope. She could track her slow rise from the shrinking end of its long dangle. Her muscles fully recovered from the initial climb, Barb lounged into the pillow of air holding her. She stretched out her arms. Fingers softened. Arms bent into a parachute. She could catch the updraft and float higher still. Ahhhh. This is what I want, Barb thought as she rippled the air between her fingertips. To let go; to feel like everything is working, and I don’t have to make it work. It just does.

As she drifted upward, Barb’s face flushed against the cooling air. A fresh gust kissed her brow before flirting with her hair. She couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from. It seemed to come from all sides at once. She leaned into the whirl, trying to keep an arm’s length between her and the rope. She scooted her middle over, but there was no ground to be gained. Another gust threw her back. She reached for the rope again. There…just..wasn’t..enough..oomph to make it work. It was hard work trying to get somewhere and moving nowhere. Another thrust, this time from her shoulders out. The rope hung only inches from her grasp. This was as maddening as pulling chin hairs with dull tweezers.

Just then, a black crow dove into the draft on her left. It hovered, surfing the white caps of air only feet from her. She reached out; not exactly sure why (She certainly wasn’t going to hitch a ride on its tiny frame.) Shiny, black wings ended in five, stiff feathers spread like fingertips. She could almost touch them with her own. Crows are amazing, Barb thought. They can survive anywhere, cruising the mountaintops or loitering in sizzling parking lots. What would it be like to be so adaptable, so willing to inhabit the space around us? The crow beveled its wings to catch an updraft. It lingered there, at eye –level with Barb. Barb steadied herself to keep locked in with its eyes. What did he see? She wondered. Was she out of place up here, or did it know more than her? Had it always served as chaperone, a black angel, to anyone ready for the climb? Whatever it’s notion, the bird didn’t seem in any hurry to leave. In fact, she could see her reflection in the glassy pearls looking back. In a mirror image of what seemed made more of light than anything, her hair whipped. Her arms floated. She was smiling.

“Caw, caw,” the crow called, way too loud for the space which had collapsed between them. She startled. Shoulders jumped as arms and wings chucked both bird and Barb out and away from one another.

Barb batted her body back into balance. Alone again, she realized the rope was not in sight. Great, she thought. What do I do now? Am I going to just hang in the breeze? How am I going to get to the top, really? Now, at this moment – at the crossroads where hope and doubt threaten to collide into a metallic gnarl of bent dreams and shattered possibilities — it would seem ideal for some third party intervention. A booming voice to grant answers, perhaps, or maybe a signpost with arrows pointing the way. Although convenient – and quick — none of that happened. After all, fresh miracles rarely zoom in to reorganize a life. It’s the slow marvels which come through, rising up to meet us in our next step forward. Barb knew this. Of course, there was no manipulating the mountain or the breeze or God or whatever other force-de-jour she might wish to conjure. Barb knew this, too. It was all on her. In one way, this kind of responsibility sucked. It still didn’t answer how, exactly, she would climb the mountain. Yet, owning her role came with a special sureness – a kind of given — that she also had the ability to change things. That’s why she showed up in the veggie isle, after all. To be vulnerable. To be available for change.

Lost in thought, it took a bit for Barb to realize she had already reached the top. Somehow, the peak had come to her. She flapped her arms for a final lift, relaxed, then…touch down. Having lost track of the sensation of ground underfoot, now, every little pebble dented deep into her shoes. She chicken-walked a few steps to make peace with the ground and remind her legs what they were for. Looking around, Barb surrendered to the view; except, it wasn’t spectacular. It wasn’t breath taking. No, what was the perfect word? Right. The view was right. It matched every wish she had ever made. She was that woman posing on a peak. Even more mountains skirted the horizon. Ranges spined in every direction, peaks layered between peaks, like a class picture of the Rockies.

Up here, the wind was even stronger. Tucking hair behind her ears, Barb started to take a look around. The top wasn’t actually all that big. In front of her, a rock cairn jutted from the ground. Shaped out of granite blocks piled into a stubby, roundish wall, it reminded her of a well. The lichen-peppered rocks provided a wind break to whatever squatted within. Barb stepped towards it, sizing the wall’s edges against her frame. Could she fit inside and hide from wind? Getting closer — her hair already wisped from her ears — Barb spotted something already inside the well. She saw orange. One more step. Then a bit of blue. Another step. Now some purple. Standing over the rocks, quizzing her head down, Barb spotted a bunch of books.

Books? Big, red books. Small, paisley-patterned journals. Paperbacks, hardbacks, ripped covers, and bookmarked chapters, they tilted around one another; a haphazard library. Barb picked up the orange book on top. It had that soft, matte cover that she loved so much. Wait. She read the spine. Her eyes glanced to the other titles. She bent low to pillage the pile. The blue, the purple, she passed over one title for the next. Yes, yes, she caught on. She knew these books. These were her books. They weren’t ordered by size and color like on her shelf at home or stacked flat (She hated reading titles sideways.), but these were definitely her books.   How did my books get up here, she asked, hands on her hips. Then, she retrieved the orange book again. She remembered this one. She hadn’t finished it. She remembered because she had to give a fake review of it at a book club meeting. That was back when she thought she should join a book club. You know, become more versed in modern woman’s issues and all. Come to think of it, she hadn’t finished most of these books. That didn’t matter so much, though. They were hers. They were on her shelf. They were at the top of this mountain.

She hinged open the orange cover and stuck her thumb between the pages. She opened to a single sentence centered in the middle:

Inability rests in completeness.

Must be between chapters, she thought (one of those inspirational sayings so popular in books now). She licked her index finger and pulled at the top corner to flip ahead. New page; same sentence. She fanned the leafs, front to back. The same sentence flashed a hundred times. She switched hands, testing it back to front. She could read the sentence, start to finish, as the pages fanned in the other direction.

“What the?” Barb said aloud.

She grabbed another book. Hardcover, glossy jacket, sure to have some serious content. The first page: another sentence:

Lack sinks into enoughness.

This was getting weird. Barb grabbed another. More one liners. Even weirder, they seemed to make sense. She reached for any random book. The sentences made sense together, like someone was writing on every page just as she opened each book. There was something here. Something meant for her. She could figure this out.

She turned on her heels and grabbed a handful of rocks. Barb tried to remember the order she had pulled the books from the hollow. Definitely the orange cover first. She pressed it wide onto the gravel at her feet, flattening its spine open with a fist-sized rock. Then the hardback and another rock. One by one, from left to right, she ordered the books at her feet. Then, pointing to each one in turn, she read aloud:

Inability rests in completeness

Lack sinks into enoughness

Emptiness is swallowed up by wholeness

Death, where is thy sting?

For it is not possible for you to be held by it

She liked what it was trying to tell her, but what was it trying to tell her? She tugged at her bottom lip with a thinking finger and cogitating thumb. Then, snif..snif. What was that smell? Whew! That’s strong. How could such a spicy, acrid smell make it all the way up here? No, no, she wasn’t here. Or, here wasn’t there.

She was back in the clinic.

The napalmic breeze of the smelling salts went along slapping every olfactory nerve in the face as it burned up the tarmac of Barb’s nasal passages. She waved the nurses off and bolted.

“You can expect the results in the mail within a week!” hollered the nurse as Barb made for the door.

Back in the veggie isle, Barb rubs the after-burn from her nose and sniffs a horseradish. That mountain top feeling won’t leave her. A lingering sense of support, of not-aloneness, keeps her standing a little while longer in the produce isle. She steps to turn away, then overhears an excited voice.

“Yeah, I never knew turnips could taste so good.” Barb halts. She grabs some green, leafy thingy as an excuse to eves drop.

“I just followed the recipe. I never thought of turnips and rosemary together, but it works! I think it’s the creamy texture of the soup that must bring them together like that.” “Ohhh,” another woman replies with a nod. Barb retrieves the turnip, plus a few more. She makes a mental note to look up Turnip Soup when she gets home. She heads for the check-out.

Fifty scanner beeps later, Barb thanks the clerk and lurches her loot forward. She takes a few steps, then yanks back on her cart, making room for a tense woman in a tight business suit to cut her off. One thirty second traffic jam, then Barb is lugging forward again. As she points for the door, Barb wants to let go. Dang, the automatic door is broken. She loves this grocery store for its pretty produce and steep discounts, but she pays for it in old-fashioned maintenance. How would she get through with such a heavy cart? Just then, a shag of hair appears just above the door’s handle on the outside. Small fingers reach up and wrap around metal. A scrappy boy angles onto his heals, yawning the exit wide with his weight. Barb smiles down at a toothless grin. The Tooth Fairy had done some trading recently. Summer

is all over the boy’s mocha skin. Shiny, black hair flies in feathery chunks. Barb offers a thank you and looks into his eyes. Their glassy blackness reflects back. She is smiling.

Take Home Tip

When we let go, the space we create by waiting and watching can be filled by helpers.  We are not alone, and we don’t have to do it all by ourselves.

Explore It More By Following the Links Below

Check out the chapter, “The Happy Veggie” in the 100 Pounds eGuide, “Eat to Thrive.”  Discover how veggies can eclipse the boring carrot stick.  Find it here.

Recipe for Turnip Soup from SplendedTable.com

What do you think?  Comment below and you will be automatically entered in a monthly drawing for a FREE 100 Pounds Weight Loss eGuide.

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An Unexpected Answer for Food OCD

Juliette Morris, founder, iFastersI’m pleased to share a guest post from Juliette  Morris, founder of ifasters.com.  After my doctor recommended I try fasting to re-teach my body how to burn stored fat, I went right to my computer to learn more.  I was dismayed to find very little information on fasting for women.  Enter Juliette Morris.  She’s been there, done that.  Plus, she recognizes how fasting can be less of an “extreme sport” of eating and more of a healing tool for gals who’ve always fought with food.  This is critical to me, as our bodies are one-of-a-kind, and we each need a tailored approach to food which fits with our lifestyle and temperament.  Intermittent Fasting is one option. Enjoy!

With the pressures of today’s society, even the smartest, most sensible and health conscious women can mistreat their own body in favour of being slim. I don’t think any of us would recommend half of the things we do to our own body’s to anyone else, yet it seems to be ok for us. Why is that?

As a health professional I can tell you first hand that, even though us women might know what’s good and healthy for us, it can all easily go out the window if we think we might get fat.

60% of women in the western world have some form of disordered eating habits. That doesn’t mean they have an ‘eating disorder;’ it can be cutting out entire food groups (like carbs, wheat, dairy, sugar) or eating a strict diet every day or calorie counting at every meal. But it still means that we’re not eating ‘normally’.

So if you think about it, that’s MOST of women that you know who either openly or secretly restrict themselves in some way and are probably having a secret love-hate relationship with food.

But with so many diets and gimmicky weight loss tricks out there these days how do we know what to listen to?

After a a decade of trying every fad diet possible from my early twenties onwards I became a chronic yo-yo dieter and fluctuated in weight constantly. I learned the hard way that I wasn’t being clever by eating a low calorie diet or eating boring diet foods all the time because I started to create food anxiety and ‘food OCD’. I was constantly thinking about the foods I’d banned from my diet, when my next meal would be, what it should be, how many calories to eat and….well you get the idea. I started to not really enjoy food anymore. It was a horrible way to live.

Little did I know, we don’t only have to satisfy our ‘physical hunger’ we also have ‘emotional’ or ‘physiological hunger’ which can only really be tamed by eating a variety of satisfying and soul nourishing foods and being able to eat without any feelings of anxiety or guilt.

After yo-yo dieting for some time it became harder and harder to lose the weight and eventually I was heavier than when I first started and it just wasn’t going to budge. Studies now show that dieters will almost always put the weight back on (and then some) because diets are just not sustainable. If only I had known that back then! It was too late; I had already created food OCD that would take a long long time to undo.

My food anxiety meant that as soon as I even thought of losing weight it just made me think of depriving myself so I thought about food even more! So losing weight felt like an impossible feat. I was in quite the conundrum.

After trying a plethora of fad diets, I stumbled upon intermittent fasting in 2010. It sounded pretty straight forward, you fast (only drink non-caloric drinks or a set number of calories) for a period of time and for 2 days of the week then the rest of the week you can just eat normally. It sounded too good to be true!

The science behind it was sound and made sense. If we eat sporadically, the way our ancestors did, our body has a break from digesting and can switch from using blood sugar for energy to using our fat stores. Also by having sporadic periods of very low calories (like our ancestors did) our body won’t slow down our metabolism like it would if we were eating low calories every day (like if we were on a diet) so we stay at our fat burning peak all of the time.

Not only did I lose the weight and keep it off but the best thing I could have ever hope for happened. My food OCD and anxiety disappeared completely. To me this was the biggest relief of all and I was finally free to enjoy food again.

I have to admit that because of my history with dieting and sticking to low calorie diet plans, I found the prospect of fasting terrifying. So with the knowledge from my role as a rehabilitation consultant I created a weekly plan over 4 weeks to ease into it gradually.

Eventually I was not only going for 24 hours without food I was also feeling completely comfortable about going without food because I knew that during the rest of the week there were no food restrictions. In a strange way, the non-restrictive nature of intermittent fasting meant that I didn’t actually crave any bad food or have the urge to binge afterwards.

I set up a website at ifasters.com and wrote a book for Kindle ‘Intermittent Fasting for Women’ with a plan for each ‘Eating Personality Type’ because I knew there would be women out there just like me with a history of dieting who would need to ease into it very slowly.

Now I can honestly say that I can enjoy eating food without feeling anxious about what I eat and feel comfortable in the knowledge that as long as I stick to my easy fasting routine I’ll be keeping the weight off and getting some of the health benefits at the same time.

Intermittent fasting has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life and that’s why I spread the word as much as I can in the hope that other women will find it just as life changing and liberating.

Take Home Tip

In a strange way, the non-restrictive nature of intermittent fasting meant that I didn’t actually crave any bad food or have the urge to binge afterwards.

Explore It More By Following the Links Below

Buy Juliette Morri's book, "Fasting for Women"Buy Juliette’s eBook

 

 

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The Silver Bullet Workout

Here’s a sneak-peek at a chapter in the 100 Pounds weight loss eGuide, Just Show Up:  Why Movement Matters

The Silver Bullet Workout

Meet Betty.  She’s doing everything right.  She follows the Surgeon General’s recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate to intense cardio for five days a week.  She watches what she eats.  She nurtures herself with plenty of social activities.  Yet, she’s still uncomfortable in her skin and fighting to shed some extra pounds.  If she’s doing everything right, then why is it so hard for her to lose weight?  Health experts like to simplify Betty’s dilemma with the axiom “calories in/calories out.”  If Betty eats fewer calories than the amount she burns, then she should lose weight.  Who knew math could continue to plague us in our adult years?

So far on my journey, I’ve been able to see results with the help of one, effective principle I learned in college:  The Silver Bullet Workout.  I call it The Silver Bullet Workout because — like graduating from algebra to statistics — it multiples the calories-out effect.

While studying Exercise Prescription in college, I learned that a longer, moderately-paced workout once a week can boost calorie burn.  A general guideline of The Silver Bullet Workout principle follows.  (Of course, you’re reading this after getting your doctor’s permission to exercise, right?)

Silver Bullet Guidelines

  • Frequency:  once per week
  • Intensity:  on a scale from one to ten, settle in between a five and six
  • Time:  duration equal to three times the length of your normal workout

How does The Silver Bullet Workout actually work?  Well, there are others more educated than me who can go into the scientific details.  I do know that the longer duration and moderate pace give enough time and intensity for my body to burn through my quickest energy stores, which are glucose flowing in the blood and glycogen stored in the liver.  Once those reserves are spent, my metabolism goes into overdrive to convert stored fat into burn-ready glucose.  Hence, the weight loss.  However, its wise to remember that time can be too much of a good thing.  Its best to ramp up total workout time slowly to avoid causing inflammation which can cause injury and make you retain water.

My exercise routine includes going on a long hike every Sunday with my hubby.  When we first started, I couldn’t last long enough to equal three times the duration of my normal workout.  When I hiked, my lower back clenched up, my thighs burned, my hips ached, and I was breathing like someone sucked all of the oxygen out of the woods.  So, I had to start with what I could do while still enjoying it.  That way, I’d want to get out again the next week.  I’m going to keep ramping up my time until I can go an hour and a half, which opens up even more possibilities for hitting adventurous trails where surprise springs gurgle in hidden forests and refreshing waterfalls sound like wind gliding through the trees.  Who knows, maybe one of these Sundays, I will even meet Betty on the trail.

 Explore It More By Following the Links Below

Just Show Up eGuide, 100 Pounds in 1 YearThere’s more juicy details and insightful ideas in Just Show Up:  Why Movement Matters.  Read along with someone who started from zero on the couch and made her way to hiking mountain peaks.   Most exercise plans start out demanding too much effort or too much time.  I need a plan that fits me, a work out that actually works for me, not the other way around.  To my delight, I found the power in starting simple and getting creative as obstacles came up.  Learn why movement matters and how you can design your own yellow-brick road to fitness.  $2.99

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Buy eGuide from 100 Pounds in 1 Year

 

 

 

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Dear Phat Girl: Losing My Cookies

Dear Phat GirlDear Phat Girl,

I’m stuck. I want to get back to exercise, after years of doing nothing. Every time I start working out though, I get this terrible feeling. It’s more than just sore muscles (I’ve got those, too.)  I get light-headed, almost nauseous. I try to just keep exercising through it, but it’s not going away. I want to lose weight, but how can I when I feel like I’m going to throw up whenever I exercise?

Sincerely, Losing My Cookies in Radersburgh, MT

Dear Losing My Cookies,

Phat girl feels your pain. When I started working out, I couldn’t even walk ten minutes before my lower back seized up, but I couldn’t even get my shoes tied before a headache began brewing in my brain. Like you, I tried sweating through it, but the pain only worsened. I tried all sorts of medicine; nothing worked. Nothing, that is, until I looked into my headache for the remedy. I say “into” because the cure came from within. In simple terms, my body needed to release a lot of pent up emotion. Before I could begin burning fat, I needed to burn up some embedded feelings. Years of carrying extra weight had spackled layers of nastiness like shame, anger, and humiliation deep within. The headaches eventually disappeared, but I had to release some toxic baggage first.

Emotional release is a natural part of exercise. It will always happen, and always to your benefit. Moving helps us metabolize the tiny hits we experience daily just by being alive in this world. That process requires release. Unfortunately, we cannot script the release. Feelings seem to arise in the order they want. Nor have I found any shortcuts.

I like that you haven’t let the nausea stop you, but — just in case — be sure to visit with your doctor about it.  In the meantime, let’s add one more facet to your workout routine. When you feel nauseous, stay with it. Be with whatever comes up. I remember, when I got back on a recumbent bike, how my stomach jiggled every time I pushed the peddles. I felt so angry as I thought, How could I let myself go like this?! That’s o.k. That’s honest. It’s what wanted to be felt. Staying with your feelings might seem scary at first, but – in reality — our fear of feeling these emotions is often ten times worse than the actual experience of them. Let’s be real, too. No one wants to throw up on the treadmill, so find a safe place to move while you allow some buffer time to ramp up your workouts. I know you’re jonesin’ to lose weight, but this time is not in vain. Think of it as working out your inner heart. To do this, you may want some privacy. (One of my best friends practiced hot yoga, so she could cry during workouts. No one could see that it wasn’t sweat!)

There’s no easy way around, over, or under the disappointments of life. Your body knows this and wants to clear the guck and get you free. This is the point of the pain. Also, you’ll hone a vital skill for maintaining lifelong fitness: forgiveness. If you plan on staying fit for life, this won’t be the only time you get stuck. Let’s face it, life happens. When you miss workouts, what’s going to get you moving again? Forgiveness. I still have to remember to practice forgiveness. It’s my #1, go-to tool. To be clear, forgiveness is more than wiping a slate clean. I like this version: Before + Give. Give yourself a chance to change before you actually change. Believe in yourself the way your body believes in you.

Exercise is a powerhouse of healing on the outside but especially on the inside. Moving reconnects us with our bodies in ways little else can. This connection is like a super-highway for any psychic trash that’s weighed us down, but it’s also the bridge we need to get to the other side.

Take Home Tip

Staying with your feelings might seem scary at first, but – in reality — our fear of feeling these emotions is often ten times worse than the actual experience of them.

 Explore It More By Following the Links Below

Check out the chapter, “What You Want and Why That Matters” in the 100 Pounds eGuide Eat to Thrive.  Discover how desire and compassion can health emotional eating.  Find it here.

Comments or questions for Phat Girl?  Remember: every comment you enter below automatically submits your name for the monthly drawing of a FREE eGuide.

Yo, Phat Girl, I Gots Ta Ask..

 

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