Tag Archives: Physical fitness

Christmas Treats That Won’t Make Me Fat?

Christmas Fudge

Note: I first published this post in 2012. Reading it now, the corners of my holly jolly cheeks lift in ironic jest. “Hah!” I say to my younger self. “You thought that was healthy?” For sure, my definition of healthful food has shifted. Just goes to show – diets or no – tastes evolve. I’m a nomadic foodie. What was once a rest area on my road to health is now a spot to zoom by and toss wildflower seeds for next year’s visitors. I wonder what new foodie facts I’ve yet to discover and how that will change my plate; which resembles a map more than a platter. When I come to table this Christmas, my assignment will be to honor the ever-changing landscape between fork and knife.

In that spirit of transformation, I’ve tweaked the original recipe below. Notes in red reflect new food discoveries, including:

  • Sugar, any sugar, can raise blood sugar and initiate the corrosive pathway of inflammation and disease, but there are ways to have my fudge and not let it eat me, too.
  • There’s some damn good fats out there that actually heal the body while releasing flavor pheromones as good as any afternoon delight.
  • We have more flour alternatives than ever; options which nourish as well as preserve the fluffy pillow talk I enjoy between me and my Morning Glory muffin.

Special thanks to Anna Rose-McComb of Tiny Farm Nutrition and Fitness for these discoveries. If they’re new to you, as they once were to me, I invite you to taste them in the most delicious way I can dream up: in the fudge recipe below which can satisfy holiday cravings and literally not make me fat. Enjoy!

From 2012…We’re smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season, and I’m starting to do a lot more smackin’ — of my lips, that is.  I love, love, love Christmas treats:  peanut butter fudge, yogurt-covered pretzels, divinity, candy canes, ribbon candy, brightly painted Christmas sugar cookies, and those morsels with the jelly in the middle.  What else is out there?  Too bad no one has discovered a way for me to eat my fudge and not gain weight, too (Guess what, girl…)  Nonetheless, I’ve accepted my love for Christmas treats.  This year, instead of fighting the temptation or judging myself for caving into desire, I’ve made peace with the bounty of sugar, butter, and chocolate that appears this time of year.  If I maintain my weight from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, I count that as a win.

To celebrate and embrace my holiday sweet tooth, I’d like to share a favorite recipe.  Hubby and I love to bake up these Cranberry Walnut Breads as gifts.  Whenever I watch him in the kitchen I’m convinced he’d make a great TV chef.  I’d put a twist on it and call it The Naked Baker Show (camera peeking just above the counter).  But, that’s for another blog…Here’s the recipe:

Cranberry Walnut Bread

  • 6 T. orange zest from 6 large oranges
  • 2 cups orange juice from those oranges (tons of hidden sugar in orange juice, so I recommend keeping the fiber by blending slices into a puree, since fiber can slow spikes in blood sugar)
  • 4 cups buttermilk (canned coconut milk and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar offers more nutrition without sacrificing the silky texture)
  • 1 pound, 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted (Let’s all cheer together:  Butter is our friend!  I like a quality grass-fed brand like Tillamook — I called their office, and they pasture their cows up until freezing in Oregon, so the boxes on the shelves now contain the last of this summer’s grass turned to gold.)
  • 6 large eggs (Comparing store-bought yolks to the blazing orbs gifted by our backyard chickens, there’s no contest.  Go backyard if you can.)
  •  12 cups flour (Nut flours, gluten free mixes, bean flours, keep going and keep experimenting until you find your fave.  My current go-to is Pamela’s Baking Mix.)
  • 6 cups sugar (Damn, that’s a lot of sugar.  Two routes for modifying:  eat these muffins with lots of roughage to slow sugar absorption or — my preference — replace most of the sugar with ground almonds mixed with coconut flour.  Both have a natural sweetness and offer more nutrition.)
  • 2 T. salt
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 7 1/2 cups frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped, approx. 3 bags
  • 3 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsly chopped

Each batch makes 6 loaves.

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together flour (alternative), salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk eggs (thank the chickens).  Add buttermilk coconut milk/vinegar, melted butter, orange juice puree, and orange zest to eggs and stir thoroughly.
  4. Add just a bit of sugar and almond/coconut flour mix to liquid ingredients, stir.
  5. Add chopped cranberries and toasted walnuts to liquid mixture.
  6. Stir dry ingredients into liquid mixture; stir just until moistened.  Do not over-mix.

Grease (coconut oil!) and flour (alternative) 6, 9 x 5 loaf pans and divide batter into each.  Spread evenly into corners of pans and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Reduce oven heat to 350 and continue baking for about 50-60 minutes more, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Heads-up: these healthier substitutions may shift the temp and time a bit, so stay vigilant, check often and tweak if necessary.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.  Spread with as much butter or coconut oil as your heart desires!

The Fudge that Won’t Make You Fat

  • Coconut oil, 1 cup
  • Cocoa powder, 1/2 cup (less if you prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate)
  • Honey, 3 Tbsp, or to taste
  • Vanilla Extract, 1 tsp, or to taste
  • Almond butter, 2 cups
  • Optional for a more creamy fudge:  canned coconut milk, 1/4 cup
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  1. In microwave-safe bowl: mix coconut oil, cocoa, vanilla extract, and honey.
  2. Nuke 30 seconds, then stir.  Repeat until silky.
  3. In bigger bowl: mix almond butter and coconut milk (if desired).  Combine chocolate mix into this big bowl and stir ’til thick and sexy.  Sample and tweak if desired.
  4. Pour into a baking and sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Freeze until firm.  Cut and serve.

Take Home Tip from 100poundsin1year.com

When I come to table this Christmas, my assignment will be to honor the ever-changing landscape between fork and knife.

Explore It More By Following the Links Below

“Eat to Thrive,” a free eGuide from 100 Pounds in 1 Year absolutely brimming with more reasons food can be a friend.

Read Anna’s Tiny Blog at www.tinyfarmnutrition.com

Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.

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Scale the 3rd Week Wall with These 3 Big Ideas

Is your fitness routine fading?  Is that promise you made to yourself getting harder to keep?  Welcome to the “3rd week wall.”  There’s something magical about making it through the third week, and its common to get stuck just as you thought you were doing great.  Don’t get down on yourself.  Instead, read ahead for some tools and tips to help you clear this hurdle and go even farther (first published in Living Well, 2013).

We know what they’re going to say: eat better, exercise more.  As soon as health experts open their mouths, we hear their advice like an overplayed pop hit. Our eyes glaze-over. Our minds go numb. Yet, knowing the latest research hasn’t kept us from a nationwide Obesity and Diabetes epidemic. Why? Is there a missing link between what we’re learning and what we’re doing? Or, is it how we’re learning?   Maybe we need easier ideas, something we can do right now that translates all that advice into real results. We need tips that can come alongside us, not create more conflict with our already-busy lives. While we’re at it, let’s demand something we can do and still be ourselves. Make it not too far out of reach but still inspire us to be our best selves.   In that spirit of uncomplicated accomplishment, here are three revelations which can revive any mission to become and stay healthy.

First, Take a Step Backwards

Alyssa Schrock, Mrs. Montana 2013, recognizes that gap between knowledge and know-how. At a young age, she was diagnosed with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. “Here’s a pamphlet, go figure out a plan,” she quips, mimicking the limp advice she received from her doctor. “No one took the time to explain, ‘This is how you cope. This is what you do.’ As a result, it’s taken me all of fifteen years to learn how to manage my illness.”

Today, Alyssa lectures and educates others about how to navigate health challenges by developing a personal care plan. “I like to work backwards by starting with the end results.” Asking people to envision a fuller life, Alyssa poses questions like, “What do you want?” “Why are you doing this?” “What do you want it to look like?” For her, the answers included reducing her prescription medications, becoming strong enough to care for her family, and increasing her overall stamina. With those kinds of long-term desires in mind, Alyssa then considers short-term actions. “They need to be small steps, things we can do right where we’re at today,” she explains. Every time she progresses to the next step, Alyssa claims a win. It’s those tiny victories which keep her focused, so much so that she now has energy to support others. “I still have tired days when I have to remind myself this is normal for me, but I’m feeling good enough now that I can make my bubble bigger by reaching my arms out to the community, so that others won’t have to walk out of a hospital with a pamphlet and no idea what to do next.”

Think Big, Then Think Even Bigger

Just as Alyssa has learned how supporting her community helps her stay healthy, we may need to unite our health routine with a larger purpose. Often times, we find more motivation when connect with the “why.” Nurturing wellbeing can be an expression of our commitment to something bigger. This bigger picture provides fresh purpose to pluck us from stuck places and create momentum again.

The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center of Missoula – one of the nation’s first women’s only gyms which started 30 years ago – takes that bigger purpose to heart. “TWC women don’t separate caring for their health from caring for the Missoula community; to them, it’s all connected,” explains Camie Evans, Manager and Co-Owner of the club. Their latest investment is a saline pool and hot tub. Recently, The Women’s Club converted to a salt water system. “We hear how important environmental stewardship is to our members, and they’re happier when they know their workout supports their values” says Cathy Schwenk, Facility Maintenance Leader. “We’ve been looking at a saline system for years, but it’s only recently that the technology has become compatible with our facility. We like to say, ‘We’re going green, so your hair won’t have to.’”

Get off the Guilt-Go-‘Round

I once heard a young mom with a large family lament her sedentary lifestyle. “I know I need to get me and the kids exercising more, but it’s not easy,” she groaned. “They say this town is such an easy place to be active, but you either have to have lots of time or lots of money, and I don’t have either.” I nodded my head. She indeed was one of the busiest moms I knew. I also knew, however, that there was a public trail system just minutes from her home. Spotting the gap between what she said and what she could do, I surmise her frustration served more as a deflection of guilt.

Come to think of it, criticizing the sometimes conflicting health advice we receive is an effective deflection, as well. Resistance can cover up guilt over not being healthier. Here’s the good news: guilt doesn’t work, so you can let it go. Guilt is a disconnecting force which short-circuits our best intentions.  Guilt acts like static to our souls; keeping us judging ourselves and arguing with those judgments.  It fuzzes that heart/mind connection where creativity and motivation abide.  So let go of guilt about not exercising enough or eating bad food.

You can create a vibrant lifestyle when you cultivate these ideas. First, begin with your vision for a healthier you. Then, support that vision by connecting with a bigger purpose. Finally, release energy-sucking guilt. Now you can harness all that energy you’ve been using to simply survive the stuckness and shift your focus into drive.

Take Home Tip

We need tips that can come alongside us, not create more conflict with our already-busy lives.

 Explore It More By Following the Links Below

100 Pounds eGuide:  “Just Show Up: Why Movement Matters.”

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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.

Buy eGuide from 100 Pounds in 1 Year

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
  • Gut-level insights to dismantle the mental mud that keeps us stuck
  • 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

100 Pounds eGuides Now DownloadableWhat is an eGuide?

Your 100 Pounds weight loss eGuide is a handy, electronic download.  You can take it anywhere you go:  your phone, your tablet, your computer, the Cloud!

 One reader says:

“Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book on it or something.”
— Ashley
Buy eGuide from 100 Pounds in 1 Year

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100 Pounds eGuides Coming Soon

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.

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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Dang! I missed my workout – again!

62 pounds lost so farI’m crashed on the couch, and it’s not the good kind of crash.  The cushions lack that indulgent give I enjoy after a tough workout.  Instead, the weak squish reminds me of the laziness I sense inside.  I’ve fought to avoid this feeling most my life.  This limpness of will saps my energy.  I’m too tired to exercise but too desperate to be OK with it.  I want a rest, from both my lethargy and the guilt of missing yet another workout.

Fact:  I don’t always feel like exercising
“I’m just too tired today,” I tell myself as I roll onto my other side to quiet the gnaw at my lower back.  My exhaustion makes sense.  Forty years have escorted me to the other shore of life, and I’m ramping down into peri-menopause.  Hormones are ebbing.  Energy is waning.  Plus, since I manage Bi-Polar disorder, it’s taken a few months to recalibrate my meds.  Another “guinea pig” phase.  I haven’t located that sweet spot again.  It occurs to me — while becoming part of the couch – that, although I’ve adjusted my meds, I haven’t adjusted my thinking.  I still hold the same exercise expectations I had when I was twenty.  Those ideals loom far from my new reality.  Honoring them has actually backfired by creating too much space between who I am today and the healthy, happy woman who has always lived inside.  In reaching for my goals, I’ve actually pushed myself farther from her.  No wonder I don’t feel like myself.

Fact:  my reactions don’t usually help
Whenever I miss a workout, I usually react in one of two ways:  do more or do nothing.  Doubling tomorrow’s workout seems a reasonable reaction.  I won’t lose anything, and I can rest easy today.   When I’m too tired tomorrow, however, then I’ve got three workouts to do the day after.  Not likely to happen.  Double-up discipline usually leads to quitting.  I call it the “Bible in a Year” Syndrome.  You know the ideal:  read x number of pages every day, and by day 366, you can say you’ve read the entire Bible in one year.  Good intentions; faulty plan.  After getting bored with Deuteronomy — and tacking on yesterday’s readings for the third day in a row – I’m up to 30 pages and hundreds of “begats” to sludge through.  Too much expectation guarantees give up.

Fact:  I still want an active life
My other reaction involves a hefty dose of guilt.  Guilt loves to hang with me on the couch.  It maintains power because, honestly, I love being active, and I don’t like it when I’m not.  Guilt puts me on the stand and cross-examines my resolve, so I have to prove my loyalty over and over again.  Consequently, I walk around half-heartedly threatened, like I’m only one missed workout away from a remote control lodged between my fat rolls.

Fact:  I’m ready to think different
I want to get creative and figure out what it would take to avoid this moment the next time (‘Cuz I know there’s going to be a next time.)  I need new tenets which allow me to be who I am today and encourage me to move, without doubling expectation or feeding guilt.  After some thought, I’ve got an idea:  fitness tiers.

Using fitness tiers is like moving among floors of a house.  The top tier can be for more energized, “power” days; the second tier for medium “recovery” days, and the third tier (or ground floor) for easy “incubator” days.  When I’ve got lots of energy for a challenge, I could take the stairs to the upper floor and clock a sweaty workout.  When I’m dragging a bit, I accept my lower energy level, move to the second floor and enter my “recovery” space.  Here, my day’s goals are framed around maintaining my fitness, no pressure to improve.  When energy drops to couch-worthy, I’ll call for room service on the ground floor and retreat into “incubator” time.  I’ll still move for a short bit, just to stick a bookmark in my psyche, but I’m giving myself permission to rest until energy returns.

Once my levels are established, then I can envision the kind of movement I want within each tier.  For example, this is how I’m defining my tiers so far:

  • Power Day:  move 60 to 100 minutes and include some extra-challenging intervals (I’ve worked up to this level, after starting out moving just 10 minutes each day.)
  • Recovery Day:  cut my time in half, move 30 to 60 minutes
  • Incubator Day:  move 10 minutes, doesn’t matter how, just move

I bet fitness tiers could help remove other exercise obstacles besides energy level, like limited time or inconsistent travel.  If time keeps me from exercising, then I might define three different tiers of availability.  If travel nixes my options, then how about three different tiers defined by modes of travel?

Fitness tiers are less about the intensity of moving and more about keeping me motivated.  Still, that doesn’t mean I’m settling.  I’m disciplined, but I answer to me, not the workout.  I bet, after using my fitness tiers for several weeks, I’ll actually move more.  Without trapping myself in expectation or guilt, I just might finish more workouts.  I may have a couch moment, but you can bet I’ll be flexing my core or doing some leg raises while I’m there.

Take Home Tip

Fitness tiers are less about the intensity of moving and more about keeping me motivated.

Explore It More By Following the Links BelowSave Me from Myself: a Freakonomics podcast which explores
how a commitment device forces you to be the person you really want to be.
What could possibly go wrong? 

Guilt Free Fitness with Fitness TiersCheck out more fun vision boards about Shelby’s journey at her Pinterest page.

100 Pounds in 1 Year

100 Pounds in 1 Year

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3 Ways to Get Small or Go Big

60 pounds lost so farFacebook status, 10:15 pm:  Can’t sleep.  Executing inaugural mission of RLF: Rhubarb Liberation Front.  Will post pic of rescue and relocation. 

Facebook status, 10:40 pm:  Mission Accomplished! (see pic at vision board, below) 

Facebook status, 11:45 pm:  Still not sleeping.  Heading out to the Top Hat to write.  Anyone want to join me for a brew?  Just come on down.

No one joined me at the bar that night, but I still had the time of my life.  It was spontaneous.  It was infused with inspiration and energy.  My covert rescue of neglected road-side rhubarb, plus my midnight trip to town for some funk band assisted writing, was decidedly not boring.  This is important for me because a hefty portion of my extra pounds originated from boredom.  I don’t mean the, there’s nothing to do kind of boredom.  I mean, there is nothing to look forward to, a deeper pall.  This numbness greeted me when I woke up each morning and robbed me of my joy.  With those kind of days, it’s no wonder I resorted to using food to feel.  No meal could feed this craving, though.  I craved that geyser of vitality which gushes through the dusty build-up from everyday life and exclaims, “I am alive!”

Whenever I sense numbing boredom, I now understand that I have a choice.  I can get small or go big.  Personally, I’m a fan of going big.  Mostly because I like the thrill of it, but also because I’ve discovered how going big can eclipse gnarly problems and even heal the roots that feed them.

Going big, however, is not always my first instinct.  I usually attempt getting small first.  How does that look?  Well, it’s not so much about how things appear on the outside as the feeling on the inside.  In fact, two different people could be doing the exact, same thing, and one would be getting small while the other is going big.  The difference is in how they feel while they’re doing it.

Getting small feels like:

  • Settling
  • Amputating
  • Shrinking
  • Anything with the word “should” before it
  • Half-nourished while half-starved, like eating a picture of a salad and being bummed I’m not satisfied

Going big feels like:

  • Expanding
  • Stretching
  • Inspiring
  • Heart fluttering
  • Totally full, with lots of room for more

Given a choice to get small or go big, here are three ways I have encountered that decision in my life:

Open Up to Desire

In my last post, Why You Already Have What You Desire, No, Really, You Do, I mentioned that if I want to learn, heal, or do anything worth doing, I need do only one thing:  surrender to desire.  I’m a big believer that wanting something is enough to propel me forward.  I don’t always have to go mining for childhood trauma, emotional scars, or ugly trolls guarding my bridge to tranquility.  Desire is enough.  To understand why, all I need to do is realize the hefty effort I put towards conveniently distracting myself from desire every day.  It’s much easier to be too busy.  Throughout my 100 pounds journey, I’ve learned how staying in that desirous space brings plenty of opportunity for profound work.

Desire, being a deep calling within our hearts, naturally asks us to decide whether we will get small or go big.  For example, I want to lose 100 pounds.  That sounds pretty big, a large number anyway.  I can get small, though, even with such a large number as my goal.  I can choose diets that promise to work by making certain foods my enemy, thereby amputating the part of me that loves to sink my teeth into a cream cheese danish once in a while.  I could force myself to workout until it hurts, pushing my body until I shrink in dread at the thought of another torture session.

In contrast, I also have the choice to go big with my weight loss.  One way I did this was to release myself of any and all food rules.  I aborted the “eat this”/“don’t eat that” mentality.  At first, I didn’t like my idea.  It felt too risky.  I had used food rules to feel like I was at least trying.  What would I do now?  My desire was bigger than my worry, though, and I surrendered to each and every craving.  This was very scary.  And thrilling.  My heart fluttered as I tasted food without guilt.  I felt physically full.  No more deprivation.  Not that small, festering kind of wanting.  Just big desire and big satisfaction.

Such joy with food delivered me to the other side of my eating struggles.  I started to consider how food could help me heal, how it could be my friend.  Could I actually break the curse that had been my rancid relationship with food for most of my life?  I dared to find out.  In this situation, going big helped me expand beyond the tug-o-war and begin to heal from the inside out.

When I released food rules, I discovered one clue that shows me whether I’ve chosen to get small or go big is pretty simple and easy to uncover:  talk back.  When I get small, I have thoughts like, I should…I’m such a… I’ll never…

Going big still produces talk back, but of a different nature.  Often, I’ve thought, This is either crazy or brilliant!  In those moments, I like to talk back to my talk back and say, Yeah, well, that’s what they said about Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lennon, so I guess I’m in good company.

Be Vulnerable

One experience those three icons shared – each in their own way and time – was vulnerability.  I’m not talking the shallow self-effacing digs that we use to fish for social acceptance.  Jesus wasn’t like, “Dude, I’m totally stressing over these bunions on my feet from all this walking.”  Rather, anyone who makes a difference in anything always encounters deep vulnerability, that tender moment between rejection and flight.

As Brene Brown, leading researcher into vulnerability and shame, explains, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of change.”  Of course, anyone who’s ever wanted to lose a significant amount of weight – including me – is all about change.  I want it off and I want it now!  After three rounds of dieting, melting off payback pounds, then gaining it all back, I can see how I always stopped short before hitting that layer of vulnerability.

Of course, I put that layer off as long as possible.  Like Brene Brown, I fear rejection.  I know she knows how I feel.  In her interview with On Being’s Krista Tippett, Brene said (paraphrasing here) “I was afraid of the intense criticism in our world today, so I had engineered my life to stay small.”  She got away with it, too.  That is, until her groundbreaking TED talk that surpassed ten million views.  When her talk went viral, Brene could have chosen to get small.  She could have listened to the talk back (“You can’t just do that.”) and back-peddled on all she had said.  She could have accepted all the Fortune 100 company requests for executive training that came with one condition (“We would love to have you speak!  Could you just do one thing?  Could you not mention vulnerability or shame?”)

Going big rarely happens without encountering shame or vulnerability.  The good news is, rejection rarely happens, too.  The good news:  my imagined fears are much worse than any actual blow back I’ve encountered.  I am my own, worst critic.  More often than not, vulnerability has opened up my world, built loving connections, and taught me that it’s safe to go big – all things that eluded me when I avoided my shame of becoming obese.

Be Compassionate

Which brings me to a question:  When I confront my shame of being overweight, what I’ve done to my body, or how I became so apathetic about life, then what do I do?  This is another get small or go big moment.

My first instinct tends towards getting small.  I squeeze my life into a tight structure of unyielding routine.  I toughen up.  I stuff my shame down with discipline, like trying to fit a fluffy sleeping bag into the nylon stuff sack it came in (How did the manufacture get it in there?!)  Truth be told, I’ve rarely been able to maintain strict discipline over the long haul.  Eventually, my edges spill out.  When I pop from the pressure, I go ballistic and pack on those payback pounds.  This is why mere discipline often fails and compassion is so important.  Compassion can head off a reactionary binge.  Of course, the last thing I want to do is give up control by getting all soft and understanding, but that’s exactly what I need.

Mine is a common reaction, according to Dr. Kristen Neff, Associate Professor of Human Development at The University of Texas at Austin.  She explains, “I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent.  They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line.  Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.”

I may betray my best efforts by poo-pooing compassion.

So what would going big look like, after surrendering to my desires and risking vulnerability which brings me face to face with shame?  Going big oozes compassion.  It honors all the habits I developed to ward off disappointment, whether I numbed myself with food or avoided activities which reminded me of my body.  Instead, compassion thanks those habits for keeping me alive.  It acknowledges my need for them.

Thank you, midnight pizza run, for getting me through my divorce.

Thank you, broken-down couch, for giving me a safe place to cry.

Then, compassion moves on.  In doing so, it validates my desire for more (which has really been my only desire, all along).  Compassion  surveys my heart and says, “Yeah, we can do something with this.”  In the end, I see that I’ve always had what it takes.

I am the space big enough to nurture the biggest of going bigs.

What might that look like?  Well, that’s for you to decide for you.  If I gave you a picture, wouldn’t the very image itself confine your limitless possibilities?  We all accept as much “big” as we can handle in the moment.  It is more than enough to get us where we want to go.

Take Home Tip

Two different people could be doing the exact, same thing, and one would be getting small while the other is going big.  The difference is in how they feel.

Explore It More By Following the Links Below

Watch Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability

Listen to Krista Tippett’s Interview with Brene Brown

The Science Behind Acceptance

3 Ways to Get Small or Go Big

Enjoy more Vision Boards at pinterest.com/100Pounds/lose-100-pounds-in-1-year/

Shelby is on her most revealing and thrilling adventure yet:  to find out what it’s like to lose 100 pounds in 1 year.  She began on Thanksgiving 2011.    Will she make it?  Find out by joining Shelby on this journey, not only of the body, but of the soul and mind.  Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.  She also writes a blog about what it means to be true to ourselves at RadicallyAuthentic.wordpress.com.

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Why I Already Have What I Desire, No, Really, I Do

 

Trigger: /ˈtrigər/ (verb) Cause (an event or     situation) to happen or exist; to touch off.

60 pounds lost so farDo you have a trigger?  No, the better question is, “What is your trigger?”  I can’t imagine anyone NOT having some sore spot that opens wide when the perfect storm of circumstance fires an arrow fast through all those layers of self-protection and hits a hard-core bulls-eye, as if the armor didn’t even exist.  Has that ever happened to you?  It has to me.  In fact, it’s happening right now.

I’m writing this post at Bernice’s coffee shop, seven hours after my trigger hit.  I still feel a residual burning in my stomach.  I’ve tried all my go-to work-arounds:  talking it out, deep breathing, asking for hugs, fresh-squeezed juice, looking at the big picture, exercising into exhaustion.  Yet, I have a cup of coffee and a cream cheese Danish next to my computer.  Hold on a sec… just took another gooey bite.

Damn, that tastes good.

This is my world of emotional eating.  This time, I’ve not quite descended into the gorging nightmare that used to be my stress response, as I have collected some back pocket understanding along this journey  For example, I know I’m a “sensual” comfort personality type; meaning, when I stress out, physical comforts like food or massage can chaperone me back to sanity.  Knowing this, my danish doesn’t have near as much guilt sprinkled on top.

Hours before, however, I got a big bite of stress.  I knew pulling out the get-er-done stick wouldn’t work because that’s what caused my panic in the first place.  There was too much to get done already.  Too many people wanting too much time.  I couldn’t keep all my commitments, let alone the promises I’ve made to myself.  No time to work out.  No time to write.  No time to do the things I know to do in order to shape my dreams into reality.  My brain went flat line, overheated by the pressurized push and pull between responsibility and desire.  My body kicked into fight or flight, and I couldn’t do either.  I spent the day stewing in a toxic brew of cortisol, which – I also know – is the ideal way to stay fat (learn more at my post, Chronic Stress and Weight Gain).

This I know for sure:  if I want to outgrow my emotional eating — learn, heal, or do anything worth doing — all I need to do is begin to desire.  I’m not talking about craving a danish.  I’m talkin’ Big D Desire.  I’m unpacking that secret box, the one we all keep buried in our heart’s closet of best intentions, collecting dust like unused sports equipment.  Desire laden with regret as hard and cold as a bowling ball.  For years, I moth-balled my desires.  Then I decided to lose 100 pounds in one year.  That was a big deal for me.  Surrendering to this desire was scary, vulnerable, and very, very brave.  Desiring is a courageous thing to do.  To understand why, all I need is to notice how much I distract myself from doing exactly that.  In my worst years, I chose denial over desire because I thought that would keep me from my pain.  On most days, though, it’s much easier to ignore Desire and stay too busy with everyday life.  That’s why Desire is enough to get the healing process started.  I don’t have to go diggin’ and scrubbin’ for something to fix inside.  Keeping myself in that desirous space will bring plenty of opportunity for profound work.

Most of my life, in order to keep me too busy, I’ve used my Story.  Just like everyone has a trigger, everyone has a Story.  It’s the play of thoughts and emotions we act out, sometimes knowing what we’re doing, sometimes not.  In our Story, we are — at once — the lead, the audience, and the critic.  The stage is our life.  The circumstances may change, like this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park players, but the script reads the same.  This morning, my Story had me as its captured audience.  It would have had you hustling to the popcorn machine during intermission.  Would you have ordered extra butter?

As I was getting ready for the day, familiar thoughts appeared like titles for each act.

Act 1: There’s too much to do.

Act 2:  I can’t do it all.

Act 3: I am not enough.

I can slather a balm of sooth-sayings atop those cutting thoughts.  There’s lots of understanding responses to every Story.  The problem is, a Story must stick to the Story.  Caring words are often rewritten to bring the play back ‘round to plot.  It’s like having an OCD automaton for a script writer.  For example, if I believe I’m not enough, then I’ll edit the kindest thought and boomerang it around in my head until it establishes that, once again, I am not enough.  I’ll prove my point, even to my own detriment.

How does this relate to pounds on the scale?  Consider, if I believe I am not enough, plus I’m a sensual comfort personality type, then I’ve got two options when it comes to my relationship with food

  1. Eat until I’m stuffed, creating a physical sensation of more than enough
  2. Keep weight on, building an actual barrier of body fat between me and the world, thereby making up for the weakness of my lack

There’s only one way I know to short-circuit my Story.  Compassion.  Self-understanding is a form of forgiveness which can disarm the toughest triggers.  Ironically, it’s also one of the last tools we think of when it comes to weight loss.  Jean Fain, a psychotherapist at Harvard Medical School instructor, talks about the importance of compassion in her book, “The Self-Compassion Diet.”  She explains, “Most plans revolve around self-discipline, deprivation and neglect.   Self-compassion is the missing ingredient in every diet and weight-loss plan,”  OK, Jean, I’m going to experiment with compassion right now, in this coffee shop, with this post.  Here goes…

First, compassion begins by asking me to resist the temptation to label my Story as a villain.  “Why not choose gratitude?” it suggests.  I can thank my Story for serving a needed purpose.  O.K.  I’ll try it out…

I want to be enough.  I can see how my Story of “I am not enough” holds the promise that someday – maybe even this time – I will be enough.  Thank you, Story, for keeping that desire alive.

O.K.  So far, so good.  Next, compassion dares me to believe that I already have my deepest desire.  This is hard to see.  No, actually, it blows chunks.  Here’s what I want to say to that lovely nugget of wisdom…

Don’t tell me I am enough when, obviously, I’m not.  You can’t tell me what to do.  Everyone is telling me what to do.

Compassion isn’t putting up a fight.  It’s just there, quiet, letting me rant.  I’m staying angry.  I’m imagining a backstory of tiny offenses to support my victim identity.  I’ll do this until I’m ready to not do it anymore.

Intermission

After all that, compassion still won’t condemn me for my tantrum.  This level of unconditional acceptance calms my defenses, and I feel safe enough to look deeper.  At these depths, stuff just seems to leak out unguarded, like it almost wants to be seen.  If I’m honest with myself…

I want to be not enough.

It’s what I’m used to.

It’s what I’ve always known.

If it wasn’t this stress today, I would find something else tomorrow.

I think I am addicted to my Story.

Compassion is nodding, not with condemnation but with caring.  I hear, in a soft, motherly voice, “That’s not all you are.”

I want to lean in.  If compassion had a shoulder, I would rest on it.  Finally, the acid in my veins is disintegrating.  I can take a deep breath.  This time, each expanding inhale reminds me that compassion is right; there is more to me than this.  I am looking around.  I remember my day.  I see a new reality…

I did get a workout in today.

I am writing, right here, right now.

I will encounter understanding when I explain why I had to ditch out.

While I’m being honest…you should know that I just deleted two paragraphs that I had spent 15 minutes writing.  At this point, I’m tempted to lift my struggle up into a hopeful, insightful bundle of lessons learned and bridges crossed.  If I could send this post to you via snail mail, I would wrap it in a pretty bow.  That’s what I was doing with those paragraphs.  Then, I thought…does it have to always end on an up note?  Sometimes, sure, yeah.  This time, though, I would be cheating you and me both out of a truer truth.

No matter how stressed I feel, how enlightened I might sound, or how messy the space between those two extremes becomes, one thing remains:  I am.  I am not enough, or I am enough.  But I always am.  I am stressed, or I am at peace.  Still, I am.  What if I am is the point of it all?  What if I don’t just set the standard in my life, but I am the standard?  If that could be true, then there is no such thing as falling short or not being enough.  Neither is there such a thing as wanting too much or being too this or too that.  I am is the benchmark.  I am is flexible, too.  It measures exactly enough while still holding limitless potential.  When I start arguing with that paradox, or devising a method to skip over it, then I get into trouble.

My methods usually depend on judging some part of me “good” or “bad,” then making adjustments from there.  In contrast, compassion refrains from judging.  It sees me as whole, even as I birth another sub-species of angst in the diverse ecosystem called “me.”

Where do I want to end this?  No bows in sight, so I’ll just say that I am.  There is no right me.  There is no wrong me.  Sure, I can gain more traction with some choices more than others, but always, I am.  What I really desire, what I truly want, if for this I am to taste sweeter than any cream cheese danish.

Take Home Tip

This I know for sure:  if I want to grow, learn, heal, or do anything worth doing, all I need go do is desire.

Explore It More By Following the Links Below

Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges

“The Self-Compassion Diet” by Jean Fain

You Already Have What You Desire, No, Really, You Do

Enjoy more Vision Boards at pinterest.com/100Pounds/lose-100-pounds-in-1-year/

Shelby is on her most revealing and thrilling adventure yet:  to find out what it’s like to lose 100 pounds in 1 year.  She began on Thanksgiving 2011.    Will she make it?  Find out by joining Shelby on this journey, not only of the body, but of the soul and mind.  Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.  She also writes a blog about what it means to be true to ourselves at RadicallyAuthentic.wordpress.com.

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How Can I Keep Going When I Want to Stop?

Here in Montana, the temps have topped seventy degrees, and we’re on the back end of spring runoff.  This is a time of joyful sacrifice for us Montanans.  Winter’s cache of precious snow funnels down mountain draws, babbling all her secrets into spring streams.  If we’re lucky, we’ll have enough moisture to keep summer fires at bay.  These hidden waterways zigzag through thickets, playing tag with the forest.  Their refreshing touch awakens berry bushes, which will turn snowmelt and sun into August fruit.   Rivulets pool in the plateaus.  Streams become creeks, creeks join rivers.  In town, our Clark Fork River swells in a muddy rise.  Spring fishing surrenders to the slurry for a while.  No use casting a fly, anyway, not until after the tube hatch (flotillas of sun-burnt floaters lazing the days away in their inner-tubes).  This is the between time, the waiting hour, unless – of course – you go rafting.

Spring runoff attracts adventure rafters like Salmon Flies pull trout to the surface.  Rafters need not be out to catch a fish, mind you.  The water is challenge enough.  As rivers rise, so does the force of all that water.  Underneath the speedy swell hides a myriad of dangers, both seen and unseen.  Where a slight hump appears on the surface, a sunken boulder the size of a Volkswagen could be pushing the water up and over (I know one spot where I can dunk my head under and hear boulders thudding down the riverbed, like muffled thunder.)  More visible – but no less dangerous — are giant cottonwoods felled by hungry beavers.  These trees act like a sieve, siphoning everything under water-logged trunks and into tangles of immersed branches.  They can suck anything under.  Beneath deceptively smooth spots in the river, underwater whirlpools can catch you unaware.  Like underwater tornadoes, whirlpools yank everything into their murky holes.  That’s why, this time of year, I stay close to the shore.  That’s why some people don’t.

Some brave souls gush at the idea of riding that wild water.  One summer, many years ago, my husband Frank ventured onto a local stretch of river known as Alberton Gorge.  In late summer, the gorge provides sport for dogs, kiddies, and all manner of summer sprites.  During spring runoff, however, one crucial juncture asks each boater to measure their courage for the day.  Where the mountainsides draw together and narrow the river’s breadth by half, a tall haystack rock squats between the flow.  There are three reasons this matters:

The narrow channel creates a super-swift underwater current, which any good guide can float you above in a class 3 adrenaline rush of whitewater hustle.  That’s fun for some, except for number two.

Squeezed by the gorge, all that water has to go somewhere.  Spring run off creates enough momentum to lift the river up and over the haystack rock.  On the other side of this batholith, the current plunges with all the wild gravity of a wilderness waterfall.  Force alone can bore out the riverbed below.  You’ve got a Montana black hole, also known as a “boat eater.”

Like it splits the river, the haystack rock splits your chances of getting through the gorge still in your boat.  As waves roll back onto themselves at the foot of the rock, in a vertical whirlpool, the edges of this wonky current can snag an edge or oar.  Even the best guide has felt their aft tugged into current.  Oars go flying as the boat yanks backwards, sideways, and upside down, all at the same time.  Hence, the required conference before Frank’s group headed into the gorge…

“Guys,” the guide grunts in his best this-is-serious-stuff tone.  “How are you feeling today?”

Frank thought his question weird, since the sky was blue and the water perfect, but no one answered.

“We’ve got a decision to make,” the guide says.

The group of six looks around at each other, anticipating a man-up moment.  The guide drops an oar into the last calm water they’ll see for a while.  He raises his free hand and points down river.

“Up there, we’ve got a moment of decision.  There’s a tight rise with a big rock waitin’ for us.  We can eddy out now and portage this puppy trailside, no harm done.”

He lifts his shoulders and raises his eyebrows, wiping his face clean of any judgment and giving his clients an out, like a good guide should.

“Or?” one rider with trendy sunglasses goads.  Eyes dart back to the guide.

“Or,” the guide pauses.  ”We can deep throat that sucker and find out why they call it the Alberton Gorge.”

A robust round of “hell yeah’s” circles among the men.  With only two minutes between them and the rock, discussion ensues.  Some grouse over having to haul the raft up steep trail.  Others express everyone’s desire to meet the challenge.  After all, wasn’t that what they came for?  Everyone offers the guide their approving nod.  In enthusiastic response, he grabs both oars with a ruddy grip and points the raft downstream.  A smile widens underneath the bent brim of his weathered cowboy hat.

“Here’s the thing,” he says.  “If we’re gonna do this, we got to do it full force.  There’s no halfway with this.”

Everyone’s lips purse in agreement.

“Last week, I steered a boat of football players through this hole, and we all went swimming.”

Silence, then the familiar rrrriipppp of tightening straps on lifejackets.  The guide continues, stiffening the oars to create a little drag and buy extra training time.

“Right now, fifteen feet of river is running over a ten foot tall rock underneath.  You can’t see it, but it’s there.  It’s a bearcat rise, but what goes up must come down, and there’s a steep drop on the other side.  It’s a mess, a wet, rough, and rowdy mess.  If we’re gonna get through it, we gotta dive.”

Eyes dash among the crew.

“That’s right,” the guide answers.  “I said dive.  We got to punch this raft deep into that water.  When I say ‘go,’ you’re gonna have to lean into this baby with everything you’ve got.  You gotta punch into that wave, ‘specially you guys up front.  Push her nose down, then push some more.  We had all better be under water, or that wave will flip us over.”

The guide pauses, putting a silent exclamation point on his instructions.  Everyone tests their lungs with a gulp of air.  As the guide lifts his oars to set the raft going again.

“When we pop up,” he continues between committed pushes into the current, “we’ll be on the other side.”

Frank grips the side rope at the front where he sits.   Across from him, the other point man stretches his legs taunt to wedge himself solid into the sides of the raft.  Granite walls rise up.  The air cools.  Shadows blanket the water, making it harder to read the river.  The sound of rapids bounces all around, like a natural echo chamber.  Frank smells green moss as they pass rocky banks dampened by a constant spray coming off the speedy edges.  The boat traces the river’s edge as they make the final turn.  Then, Frank sees it.  Not so much the wave as the fountain it spews five feet into the air, as if a geyser decided to burst from the middle of the Clark Fork.  The guide pushes one oar and pulls the other, steering straight for the geyser.

“Get ready!” he yells over the white water’s rumble.   More hands clench more rope.  Everyone leans forward, mustering guts and momentum.  The fountain of foam gets bigger, closer to eight feet high now.  Frank eyes the current, following surface rivulets as they stretch long and thin in submission to the flow.  He braces.  Wait for it, he says to himself.  “Wait for it,” the guide bellars.  The river feels anxious, too, yanking them from side to side, even as they float faster.  Frank balances his weight between push and pull, trying to move with the water.  Out the side of his eye, a wet shine on one oar flickers then disappears.  The raft lunges.  Frank leans in.  The nose of the raft lifts, as if arguing with everything the guide just said.  Frank squints.  The geyser spray sparkles in cold pelts.

“Go!” the guide blares.

The boat rolls forward, high-centers for a half second, then tilts into a downward fall.  Frank thrusts his body over the nose.  Whitewater is everywhere.  He closes his eyes.  He sucks air.  Behind him – he hopes – the crew has got his back tight.  Then, they hit wet thunder.  Under water, inside the whirlpool, liquid static fills his ears.  He forces his eyes open.  They sting from the shock of cold and sand.  They’re still sinking.  They go deeper.  A swampy green engulfs tiny shards of sunlight.  He’s in a black hole.

Seconds later, the light turns bright again.  He feels less weight but more wet as the air lifts the river’s weight.  He opens his mouth.  Droplets blink from his eyes.  As he gasps for more air – consciously this time — he looks around.  Heads, their bodies disappeared under water, float alongside him.  They rise in unison, even as they slow into calmer waters.  With the raft still half-sunk, one man curses his lost sunglasses.  The guide tamps down his cowboy hat.

What does rafting have to do with losing weight?  I’ve encountered daunting obstacles along my 100 pounds journey.  Just like in spring runoff, some hazards hide underneath the current of my conscience.  When I realize I’m about to be siphoned under by another craving, or caught in a whirlpool of frustration, I wish I had a guide to teach me how to punch through the moment.  Either that, or permission  to leave off my struggle and hope for calmer water on the other side.

I get conflicted inside, like I’m trapped in the vortex of a boat-eater.  I’ve lost pounds then gained them back over weeks of sinking depression.  I’m still here, though.  I’m beginning to believe my hurdles cannot be cleared by floating over the top (ignoring them), ditching out to the side (avoiding them), or hoping I’d remember how to swim if my plans got turned upside down (wishing them away).  Nope.  I must punch into them.  I must learn to lean.  When I sink into their source and become willing to get lost and disoriented in my swampy darkness, then I come face to face with my demons.  I peer into that black hole.  It’s scary to punch into the white water of life, but so far I’ve popped out on the other side, every time.

Take Home Tip

It’s scary to lean into the white water of my life, but so far I’ve popped out on the other side, every time.

Explore It More By Following the Links Below

Learn About Alberton Gorge

Watch a trip through the Alberton Gorge

“River” Slang from Urban Dictionary

Where’s the Vision Board for this post?

Well, I knew this day would come.  My favorite picture editor is obsolete.  I’m spending some time learning a new editor.  So, hopefully more Vision Boards will be up coming, as soon as I learn the ropes on this new program.  Meanwhile, you can enjoy more Vision Boards at pinterest.com/100Pounds/lose-100-pounds-in-1-year/

Shelby is on her most revealing and thrilling adventure yet:  to find out what it’s like to lose 100 pounds in 1 year.  She began on Thanksgiving 2011.    Will she make it?  Find out by joining Shelby on this journey, not only of the body, but of the soul and mind.  Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.  She also writes a blog about what it means to be true to ourselves at RadicallyAuthentic.wordpress.com.

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Filed under Principles