5 Lessons in Loving Yourself More

I’m going to share with you some surprising life lessons I’ve learned since becoming a health and wellness coach and how it has taught me to love myself as a divorced plus-size woman struggling with self-esteem issues. These lessons can be difficult to accept at first, but they can be life changing if you choose to embrace them. Although I’m nowhere near achieving my ideal body, mind, and spirit, I’ve learned to accept that change is a very messy process but oh so worth it. I hope you’ll find at least one of the five lessons listed as an inspirational takeaway!

❤️ CHANGE TAKES TIME…a really long time.

This probably is one of the first lessons I had to embrace. Not really understanding what that meant is probably what contributed to my years of yo-yo dieting. We all want that quick fix, be it pills, fad diets, endless trips to the gym, binging and purging, or not eating at all in some cases.  I don’t need to go into the societal pressures of what it means to be a woman (or a man for that matter). The point I am making here is that if you have spent decades hating yourself, don’t expect that fitting into a pair of skinny jeans will make it all better. There is work to be done physically, mentally, spiritually, and it will take time. BUT here is the saving grace…the more you learn to accept this truth, the more enjoyable the process of change becomes, making your end goal less important. You will begin to embrace every seemingly small success along the way, and that is how you will learn to love yourself.

❤️ YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM…so stop it!

Many of us have set up our own traps, myself included. It’s called self-sabotage. When we adopt a worldview in which we are always the victim, more often than not we are partly to blame for our circumstances. I know that may be difficult to accept; I cringed many times when I first heard of it and it took me a couple of years to finally make that mental breakthrough. So here is one way of looking at it…assuming we’re naive about something or someone, we can easily fall prey. When we have no control over certain events in our lives, we can become a victim of circumstance.  But here is the lesson…you can only be a victim once. If you continue to find yourself in the same scenario over and over again, something is definitely wrong, and it usually means you are self-protecting in some way that may not be obvious to you. Because we are talking about something much deeper here, self-reflection is definitely required. Journaling, talk-therapy, meditation, hypnosis, or prayer can be very helpful. Self-investigation and taking the time to really think about why you are sabotaging yourself is an act of self-love and self-care.

❤️ MOTIVATION IS DOING!

I am a thinker. I overthink all the time. I have ADHD and that means I have more thoughts running through my mind taking a shower than most “normal” minds do by the time they get to work and have fueled themselves with coffee. But whether you have ADHD or not, many of us will wait…and wait…and wait…hoping for something or someone to motivate us to do what we already know is necessary for change to occur. But that just isn’t how it works. There is a difference between being inspired and being motivated. Inspiration comes from observing. Motivation comes from doing or taking action. So how do you get there? How do you make that first move? You simply stop thinking about it! I’m not saying it’s easy to shut it down…trust me I know! However, realize that your brain is designed to be habitual, which is why change is so difficult. The more you think, the more you end up battling with your own mind and it will convince you that it’s not worth trying, so you have to trick your brain into action. This is why I believe in order for you to change how you perceive yourself on an emotional level, you have to start with physical activity. Exercising, eating well, taking care of your physical body is an act of self-love.

❤️ FAILURE = SUCCESS?

There are countless examples making the argument that in order to be successful in anything, you have to try and fail many times. Unfortunately, most people will never try again after they have failed. So it’s not so much that failure equals success, it’s just that success can only be achieved by not allowing your failures to stop you from trying again. I have failed so many times, allowed doubt to creep in (it still does), and I end up berating myself with negative self-talk such as, “I’m such a loser, I’m worthless, I’m unlovable, I’m disgusting, and I’ll never be successful in life.” There goes that victim mentality again, right?! The attitude that you have about failure is more important than your attitude about success. Again this is a mental shift, one that I had to learn as a health and wellness coach. In order to make a mental shift like that, you really got to tap into personal development constantly until it really sinks in. I’m talking about reading books, listening to podcasts, watching Youtube videos, following inspirational people, and above all CONNECTING with other people who are LIKE MINDED! That part is huge.

❤️CONNECTING WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE

If you want to become successful in anything, if you want to change that victim mentality that you have, if you want to learn how to love yourself physically and emotionally, you absolutely have to evaluate the company that you keep. Without having tapped into personal development, I never would have understood how important it is to connect and build relationships with people who are smarter, more successful, more fit, and more confident. Watch them, learn from them, ask them questions, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, because I promise you that every successful person that has what you want and is confident in themselves won’t push you away if you are serious about becoming a better version of yourself. Everyone has potential. Everyone has beauty. Everyone has something to offer this world. If you are married to, work with, or hang out with people who are jealous, bring you down, don’t see your worth, it’s time to start loving yourself and letting them go.

Accepting Fitness – Two Decades Later

It wasn’t until my life seemed to fall apart that I really understood in order for me to change my negative victim mentality, I had to get off the couch and stop thinking and sobbing so damn much. 

I was at my heaviest at close to 290 pounds when my husband asked for a divorce. My child was only 5 at the time, and I was completely distraught. I also hated my work environment, I was stressed and on edge. I had been going through some mental health issues at the time and had lost all confidence in myself as a wife, mother, supervisor, daughter even. I no longer knew who I was or what I wanted.

Since my pre-teens, I desired change – to transform into a completely different person. I read self-help books, but without implementing the work. I bought into many diet programs only to fail over and over again. I joined several gyms only to stop going. I wrote out my vision without following through with any of my goals. Eventually, I stopped living, dreaming, visualizing, hoping.

It wasn’t until my life seemed to fall apart, that I really understood that in order for me to change my negative victim mentality, I had to get off the couch and stop thinking and sobbing so damn much. Easier said than done right? That’s why for some of us, it takes hitting rock bottom. This is what I discovered though…by working out for 30 minutes a day, I was allowing my brain to take a break from all the unhealthy circular thinking I was doing. I’m not saying that fitness will solve all your problems. In my case, I depend on stimulants and anti-depressants, I talk to a therapist, I decided to take a low key job, I drink a nutrient dense shake every day, I surround myself with positive people, I reduce the noise in my environment. However, tapping into fitness has made all those other pieces start to fall into place; it was the key that I knew I was missing, but too stubborn to accept for decades.

Developing Your Morning Routine

You know and I know that keeping up with a morning routine can set the stage for the rest of your day.  If you ever wished you could just fit more in, but don’t think it’s possible, I am here to tell you that it is! But there are several truths that you will have to accept before you consider developing your routine.

  1. If you want more time, you will have to make more time. Chances are, you will have to lengthen your day by simply getting out of bed earlier…I know, I know, easier said than done. That doesn’t mean you should sacrifice sleep. However, hitting the snooze button 15 times is counter-productive.  Trust me, I know how hard it is, but I also know it gets easier once you get a regular sleep routine going.
  2. Planning ahead of time saves you time. Sometimes creating more time doesn’t involve getting out of bed earlier, but rather spending more time the night before in planning out your day. Anything that can be done the night before, like setting out your clothes, will make your morning a little less stressful. Packing your bag/purse so you aren’t running around searching for homework and keys allows your morning to run smoother. Placing a pair of sneakers and a towel on top of an unrolled yoga mat may also help you get going faster.  A little planning can make a huge impact.
  3. On average it takes 3 weeks to develop a new habit.  If you are like me, staying focused long enough on anything that doesn’t stimulate me is challenging, but the fact remains whether you have ADHD or not, discipline, discipline, discipline will always be the mark of success. And while putting forth such effort might be more difficult for some than it is for others, I know that it will get easier with practice.
  4. Time Management is essential. Mornings are usually tight for most of us. Not being able to manage your time well will only make your efforts to get up earlier, plan ahead, and sticking to a routine a waste of time. You might as well just go back to bed again. This is an area that I continue to struggle with but am working on currently. Assuming that you determined accurately how much time it will take to complete your morning routine, you might still find that getting out of the door on time is proving difficult. Chance are, you tricked yourself into thinking you have all the time in the world and lost that sense of urgency. I’ve used a timer before to help me stay on track.
  5. How bad to you really want it? I both love and hate this question because its a truth seeking question. If you know having a morning routine would benefit you greatly, but find that you keep self-sabotaging, it’s likely that you are not emotionally invested in making that change yet. And that is okay. You may discover that it really wasn’t as important to you as you thought it was. It’s all about discovering what you want out of life and how you want to live it.

Now comes the fun part….

First, brainstorm all the things that you would love to incorporate into your morning. Is it working out? Meditation? Worship?  Reading? Journaling? Or simply enjoying a cup of coffee alone before everyone in the house wakes up? No matter what it is, think about why you would love to add that into your morning. Why is it important to you?

Now create your perfect morning by visualizing each task in order. Think about what it would feel like and what order makes the perfect sense. Incorporate the things that you have to do, like making breakfast, getting dressed, bringing the kids to school, etc. Don’t worry about how much time you will need yet.

Once you have your perfect morning visualized. Write it out and decide on how much time you want to spend on each item. Create a schedule that you and your family can see, like posting it on the fridge. Talk with your family about your plan, why it is important to you, and ask for support. Maybe someone can help you stay on task. Maybe it’s time to delegate a morning chore to allow more time for yourself. And if your family gives you a hard time for whatever reason, remind them…

You are no good to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first!

 

 

Weightloss Transformation 

When we think about weightloss transformation, often we think of comparing two photographs, right? What if those photographs don’t look all that different? Does that mean no transformation took place? We consider the before and  after, but what about the during? We rarely give ourselves enough credit for the changes we make during the process, which probably explains why we get so discouraged when we don’t see major physical changes right away. I used to fall into this trap time and time again.

One way to get yourself out of that trap is to start recognizing all the changes that are occurring during the process. Whether it be a mental note or writing it in a journal, celebrating small victories can make all the difference between empowering you to continue on your journey or discouraging you into quitting.

credit: chasefear.tumbler.come

Below is a dozen things that I have noted for myself to give you some ideas.

  1. Shopping for groceries has gotten so much easier and takes less time now. Half of the store is filled with a highly processed foods that I now avoid eating.
  2. I don’t purchase ice cream or cookies anymore. Instead, I go to an ice cream shop for a special treat.
  3. I’ve gotten used to drinking black coffee, something I thought I’d never be able to do.
  4. The other day I automatically asked a barista to use skim instead of whole milk in my chai – I even surprised myself with that one!
  5. Twice in the past two months, pizza was ordered when visiting my parents and I opted for making myself a side salad.
  6. I rarely drank alcohol in the past three months.
  7. I have enjoyed the beach several times in the past couple of months without worrying about what others thought of my body – and not because I look drastically different.
  8. I’m getting better at my daily water consumption.
  9. I no longer deal with constant acid indigestion and flatulance.
  10. I can climb the stairs and go up a hill without having to catch my breath.
  11. In the past three months I haven’t gone more than two or three days without working out compared to years of inactivity.
  12. Even when I didn’t lose weight for a week, I was still able to maintain my previous weightloss from the week prior.

The Four Commandments of Using a Planner

I was taught these four “commandments” of using a planner when I first started therapy to learn how to manage my adult ADD. At first, I found these statements to be amusing, but they did prove to be very useful. These four commandments come from a treatment manual my therapist was using, so I  won’t be able to provide the source. This post is a bit lengthy, so grab a cup of coffee! Of course if you just don’t have the patience, I understand – you can still get something out of reading the commandments themselves.  I hope you will find this as useful as I did, and still do!

I. THOU MAY HAVE ONE PLANNER AND ONE PLANNER ONLY.

If you are like me, you have over a dozen half used journals/planners/notebooks lying around, each of which served a different purpose at one point. The first several pages illustrate your excellent penmanship, but sadly it doesn’t take long before it looks more like a physician’s scribble. Then, you stop writing in your journal or using your planner for a while, could be a couple of days, could be a year. When you’re motivated again,  you decide to rip out (or carefully use a razor) pages to begin anew. Alternatively,  you may decide to visit a local Barnes and Noble and walk over to that aisle next to the coffee shop, the one you promised to avoid.  And you just can’t help but touch them, like a little child in a grocery store. You let out a deep blissful sigh after breathing in the fresh leather and suede. You flip through the crisp sheets of paper, and adore the cute leather strap that ties the book shut. You lie to yourself that this time it will be different; you will not rip out any pages, and you swear you will fill it all the way to the end. Bullshit!

Commit to one planner and one planner only!  I can not tell you how much this concept has saved my sanity. But before I could actually make that commitment, I had to first let go of my all-or-nothing thinking, aka perfectionism. Of course changing this thought pattern is not easy, but it is doable if you apply that change to just one thing at a time. For me, that one thing was how I used my planner. I had to accept that it was OK if my entries looked messy; it was OK if I “forgot” to use my planner for a week, it was OK if I had to scratch something out because there was white out handy.

There are so many options out there now, whether it is digital or paper.  Digital planners are less time consuming in that it is easier to schedule repeating events or tasks. Digital also provides a much cleaner look, because you can easily reschedule, change, or delete items. There are plenty of cell phone apps that have both a planner and journal all in one, and most of the time there is unlimited space to type in information. However, while there are many benefits to using your cell phone, you have to consider your day to day environment.  For example, maybe you are required to tuck your cell phone away while at work – out of sight, out of mind. A paper planner on the other hand can be taken out of your bag and placed right in front of you, if you are sitting at a desk most of the day. However, if you are on your feet most of the day, that might not be a viable option. Ultimately, you have to find out what works best for you. Either way, just make sure you commit to one planner only!

II. THOU MUST CARRY THY PLANNER WITH THEE AT ALL TIMES.

My cell phone easily slips into my purse, and I hated the idea of caring around a paper planner with me at ALL times. So, my first inclination was to go digital and use my phone. But I had to really think about this. I have years of practice in remembering to always carry my cell phone, and still I do forget from time to time. The thought of having to remember yet another item to keep track of, seemed daunting (especially as a person with ADD).  Yet, I knew that having a separate tangible thing, would help me to be more aware of it’s existence.

I had to give up the cute purse and start using a tote bag to put all my items in.  I could have used a larger purse, but I gave up on deep purses years ago as I found myself very flustered trying to find anything. I know some of you women will feel a little awkward carrying a tote bag when a purse would be more fashionable. And for you men, I can imagine how carrying around a planner doesn’t seem very sexy. So, do what works for you. Just remember that the above rule is to be treated like a commandment, and is therefore, non-negotiable.

III. THOU SHALT ENTER EVERY APPOINTMENT AND TASK INTO THY PLANNER.

If it is not written down, it does not exist! Might be cliche, but it’s true. This is especially true for those with ADD. We think about so many things at once, and if it doesn’t spark our interest, our brain simply pushes it further away (has to do with a lack of dopamine). We know that trying to retain information is often impossible. So write it down!!! This is why having access to your planner at ALL times is so essential. Thoughts pop in, and pop right back out.

If you forget your planner (like I have on many occasions) remember to write it down in your planner as soon as you have access to it. Personally, I found this to be extremely challenging.  It doesn’t matter if I put it in my phone, or on a napkin, or on the back of a receipt, I will forget all about it.  I know it looks ridiculously adolescent, but the only thing that worked for me, was literally writing it on myself! Sometimes it was my wrist, other times on my finger. Hence, sticky notes do not work in my case. It makes having a job difficult.

Also, you never know when you might bump into someone that you haven’t seen in a while. You can plan a date right then and there to catch up, IF you have your planner with you. Otherwise, here is what will happen: Something will remind you to call that person to schedule a date, but then you quickly get distracted by your own thoughts, and before you know it, months have passed and the opportunity has come and gone. Now imagine if you bump into someone you had an interview with several months ago, and they tell you that the person who they were going to hire bailed out, so they suggest that you call the office if you are still interested in the position. I think most people would agree that depending on the level of importance they place on any given scenario, they would remember to make that call in a timely manner. But if you are like me, mental reminders no matter how important they are, will always get jumbled up with all sorts of other distracting thoughts. And if I fail to deliberately write it down in a place that I know I will look at again, all too often I find that I missed out on an opportunity.

IV. THOU SHALT CONSULT THY PLANNER EVERY MORNING, EVERY MIDDAY, AND EVERY EVENING. 

I am not going to lie, I barely remember to take my second dose of medication in the afternoon (even with an alarm reminder!), so trying to remember to look at a planner three times a day..eh..wasn’t so sure I could really pull that off. Consistency has always been an issue for me,  and we all know that consistency is a key factor in reaching success. But I have learned to ease up on the all-or-nothing thinking which is also an important factor in reaching success.  While I am still working on cultivating this habit, I have found some helpful tips along the way that I will share with you below. Remember this – Your planner will have no impact on improving you life if you don’t consult it on a regular basis – as regular as going to the bathroom.

Morning  – This is the time to consult your planner; focus and what tasks need to be done throughout the day; reminder of any appointments you have scheduled.

Tip: Create a cue for yourself. Do you make coffee every morning for example? You are more likely to be remember to consult your planner when you pair it up with something that you are already doing every morning.  I usually do this when I am sitting down for breakfast.

Midday – Allows you to revisit your plan; focus on what still needs to be done; gives you the opportunity to revise and re-prioritize.

Tip: Use your lunch break if it is scheduled at the same time every day. If you usually use that time to socialize with your co-workers, break that time up and give yourself 10 minutes to focus on your planner before or after. If you have a job like I did in which lunch breaks didn’t really exist and you were forced to eat on the fly, schedule “poop” time and disappear in the bathroom for 10 minutes if you have to.

Evening – This is the time to reschedule unfinished items; plan out what you want to accomplish the next day; write down any additional items you need to take with you before you leave the house in the morning.

Tip: As a single parent, evenings for me are often packed with things to do, so looking at my planner has to happen right before I go to bed at night. Trust me, this is not easy, so one thing I plan on doing once I start working again is to place my planner right next to my bed when I come home. To pair it up with something else, think about creating a ritual like making a cup of tea while you sit with your planner, or complete your planner before you allow yourself to read in bed or turn the TV on.

Hope you enjoyed this article and find the commandments useful! Please comment if you have any tips or experiences you’d like to share!