Day 283

5:45PM:

Choosing Raw and Greatist do a “Links of the Week,” so I figured, what the hell… let’s co-opt the idea!

1. The ever-intelligent and inspirational Neghar Fonooni turned me on to this little ditty: “Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is says about [self-deprecating] thoughts: ‘A thought is harmless unless we believe it.  It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering.  Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring.  A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.’ … Tell yourself something enough times and it will become true for you, no matter how far off it is from reality.”

The way that my wife feels about herself sometimes, her self-worth, her self-image, her direction, these are far off from reality.  These are far off from reality because the blackness took hold of them and made her believe they were true, without inquiring.  For me, the lack of stomach definition is a trigger, and may actually be a figment of my imagination.  However, if I continue to believe that it defines me, that it is anywhere near as important as valuing myself or being a capable Don, then I have given it to the blackness, given these thoughts to it to be malevolently twisted into flaws.  Instead, treating ourselves compassionately, telling ourselves that “our weaknesses are not the blackness’ anymore,” telling ourselves that “I value myself,” these will allow us to reclaim healthy thoughts from the blackest pits of neglect.

2. http://greatist.com/play/blood-sugar-hunger-anger-relationships

How many arguments between my wife and I, my parents, their parents, their (you get my drift), has been caused simply by hunger?  I do not want to not understand my hunger.  I do not want to be able to blame not recognizing my hunger at a 6 as the reason for a fight.  It is why I ate lunch yesterday, because I need to know.  Not that I need to be in control or that I shouldn’t let myself get hungry, but because I want to be a strong, loving and respectful person – none of which can happen with overwhelming hunger, not the least of which because it gives the blackness traction and a willing ear to hear its screams.

3. I like the “defining” part:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/wellbeing/10403767/Confessions-of-a-vegan

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Day 262

6PM:

I know that I’ve been drinking too much on-and-off recently.  Aforementioned exhaustion, mistakes around my eating habits, getting beat up from a whole host of angles – not excuses, but reasons.

The previously mentioned Neghar Fonooni has an interesting philosophy about food:

“The ‘first bite rule’ is clutch.

You know what I’m talking about. That first sip of wine that makes you go aaaaaahhhhh. That first bite of a warm chocolate chip cookie that makes you go mmmmmmm. It’s such a pleasurable experience. It’s food and it’s love and it’s heaven. Food is meant to be enjoyed, but shouldn’t we enjoy every bite as much as the first?

As much as I’d like to stay ‘stop eating when full,’ I know how challenging that can be. Listen, if we all stopped eating when our stomachs were at capacity then there wouldn’t be such a thing as obesity. But, by paying attention to your palate (and not just fullness cues) you can control the quantity of consumption, simply by stopping when the next bite isn’t as fabulous as the first.

You don’t have to eat all the chocolate or drink all the wine. You don’t even have to eat the entire rotisserie chicken or the whole plate of brussels sprouts, for that matter. Go slow, taste, be mindful–and portion ‘control’ will happen naturally.”

Drinking mindfully, enjoying it has been something I’ve done in the past (even the recent past, if I spread it out time-wise).  But maybe this is something I can incorporate into my life (maybe also with eating, since this concept of stopping when I’m full is a tough one right now, but that’s for another day), because I do feel the third glass of wine sometimes be a little too bitter or even the first glass of bourbon hit my throat in the wrong way.  I have tried to be more cognizant of this and will continue doing so one day at a time: if it does not taste as good as the first, perhaps (scratch that, probably,) I am drinking for the wrong reasons.

Day 253 (aka 252 STILL)

12:45AM:

This Neghar Fonooni is turning out to be a very timely and sensible one.

A couple of days ago, I found her post about body image on a day that I really needed it.  “Today” (can’t sleep, so technically…), given my earlier post, I received this email from “her”:

How to stop hating on yourself

‘Self love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.’ -William Shakespeare, Henry V

… When you regularly practice self-loathing, you don’t have what it takes to further yourself in your career, relationships, or fitness endeavors. Instead, you exist as a victim, and often place blame, whether on yourself or on external factors. When you lack self-love, you also lack self-worth, which is the driving force behind true ambition and active acceptance: If you don’t think your worthy, why would you ever attempt to have or do anything great?

Self-love is clutch, and we just can’t progress without it.

But often people will ask me, isn’t self-love a little arrogant? Conceited? Vain? This is a common misconception. You see, self-love is not the same thing as self-importance. Self-love is the belief that you are worthy of love, and the awareness that while you may want to be better, that doesn’t mean you’re not enough right now. It consists of positive self-talk, and regular self-care (exercising, eating nutritiously, getting enough sleep, etc). Self-love is the foundation of not only your love for others, but the love that you’re able to authentically receive.

Self-importance is thinking that you’re more valuable than others, or that your worth outweighs that of everyone else.

Self-love is tremendously advantageous when it comes to developing a success mindset and self-importance is downright counterproductive. Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you think you’re better than others, it means that you think you’re worthy of love, and able to accept it. It means that you can actually change your eating and exercise habits for good, because you can overcome mistakes instead of dwelling on them.

Only once you believe you’re worthy of love are you able to make a real transformation; if you want to change your body, you’ll do so because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself. If you want to change your habits, you’ll do so because you want to do what’s best for yourself, not because you’re disappointed in who you are. If you want to advance your career, it’s because you know you’re capable, not because you perceive yourself as a failure.

Self-love changes your inner dialogue from “I’m not good enough” to “I’m worthy of success.” It seems like a small change, but it’s one that will completely shift your intentions and in doing so, your actions.

But loving yourself doesn’t mean that you always think you’re perfect and can do no wrong. People who love themselves make mistakes all the time! What it does mean is that when you do make mistakes, you don’t beat yourself up for them, and you don’t berate yourself for every little misstep. Instead, you learn from your experiences, and live in the awareness that you aren’t perfect–and that’s okay.

For a lot of us, it’s not easy to embrace self-love. Maybe we were raised with a victim mentality, or perhaps we were constantly told we weren’t good enough until we finally believed it. Like anything else, self-love takes practice and requires a ton of mindfulness. It’s something we need to truly cultivate in order to make it a habit, but with a few strategies, we can start to change our behavior and the way we view ourselves.

5 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Cultivate Self-love

  1. Take 15 minutes of personal time. This isn’t simply time alone, it’s focused personal energizing time. Whether you go for a walk, journal, or read, take some time alone to energize and reflect. When you do this on a daily basis, you’ll not only start to really look forward to this alone time, but you’ll begin to develop an inner dialogue that serves you in the most loving way possible.
  2. Say goodbye to toxic people. If someone doesn’t add positively to your life, it’s time to let them go. I know this can seem impossible in certain situations, and in some ways it seems harsh, but it’s absolutely essential to your wellbeing. Surround yourself with people who add value, and to whom you can add value as well.
  3. Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure, and your mistakes don’t define you. How you recover from those mistakes is the mark of your true character. Let it go, forgive, and use the past as a lesson, not a curse.
  4. Turn your thoughts around. The moment a negative thought about yourself comes into your mind, ask yourself, is that really true? Or am I just giving myself a hard time because that’s what I’ve always done? Turn the thought around into something constructive, and one thought at a time you’ll start to cultivate more positive self-talk.
  5. Listen to your body. If you’re in tune with yourself, you’ll know when to slow down and when to speed up, and if you’re in that flow you’ll never feel as though you didn’t do enough. You’ll do whatever you’re capable of doing.

Start doing these 5 things, and before you know it you’ll begin to shift from the “I’m not good enough” mentality to “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.” Only once you truly accept who you are right now, can you begin to move forward and change.

So I need not to beat myself up about counting portions in my head.  It is expected after having done it for the last three years.  Just being happy that I’m moving forward, that I’m on the recovery path, that I’m reclaiming healthy one step at a time – that is self-love.  The real tomorrow will be another step and hopefully, by doing things one day at a time, things won’t be as hard tomorrow.

Day 249

11:30PM:

Why am I afraid of putting on weight?  Why am I so concerned about the person in the mirror as opposed to the person inside?  Why did that voice creep into my head?

I never really had weight-related issues, nothing totally out of the ordinary: feeling self-conscious as a pre-teen and wearing a T-shirt in the swimming pool, hearing Grade 9 girls talk about the best body parts of other people in our classes.  I remember these things because I am me, not necessarily because they were scarring.  In fact, I only started having weight-related issues, thinking about the abs in the mirror or the definition on my chest when I started losing weight.  Like the weight loss triggered some abnormal, never-reverseable (at least that what it feels like now) switch in my head, that the blackness turned on and uses against me, uses to cloud the me version of me.  I read an interesting article from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders a while ago about this, about weight loss triggering an eating disorder – not sure if it is me, but it is interesting nonetheless:

“The role of genetics on eating disorders is of particular interest to researchers. Our knowledge at this point indicates that genes load the gun and the environment pulls the trigger. We are far from knowing specific genes that cause eating disorders. There are a number of genes that work with environmental triggers. Dieting and loss of weight may influence the development of anorexia by turning on a gene that may influence an eating disorder. There are many cases of transgenerational eating disorder and twin studies which make this connection. There is probably a 5-6 greater chance of developing an eating disorder if an immediate relative has an eating disorder” (http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/general-information/).

But again, I am not sure if this was my case.  Chicken or the egg?  Trying to understand the roots of an eating disorder, of this arm of the blackness, is troublesome.  At a certain point, who the fuck cares?  Some things I will never be able to understand, some puzzles will never by put together and for perfectionists that’s a hard thing (also for me, who tries to find patterns and parallels in a lot more than I should).  However, to a certain point, it is important to care about the causes, in so much as it enables an understanding of triggers, potential pitfalls and warning signs.

Here is that certain point.  As such, this is what I know:

  • I have spent the majority of the day worrying about my bloated stomach, about the food I’ve consumed (it is weird to be hungry – actually hungry, as the impatience and “watching-the-clock” demonstrates – and worrying about bloat at the EXACT SAME TIME).
  • It is a tool of the blackness, that is what I know.  The rest of it, after this long, I cannot understand.
  • I also know that it doesn’t seem to matter (yet) how many times my wife tells me that weight gain might be good, that it might actually be my set-point weight, that my body might be telling me that I’ve spent most of the last eight years starving it of nourishment, of health, of happiness.
  • It just seems permanent, but that is too far ahead.  Right now, I know that the blackness is screaming louder than ever about my bloat, about my definition, about my appearance.  Right now, I need hope that it won’t do that forever…

The inspiration for this post was a page I came across from Greatist, about Neghar Fonooni from Eat, Lift and Be Happy.  I have included that article at the end of this post because it is what will give that hope…

“This is my ‘reverse progress’ photo. In 2009 I was 120 lbs, 12% body fat. I was ripped out of my mind, and also ACTUALLY out of my mind.
I counted every last calorie and worked out about 2 hours/day. I was in an abusive relationship, lacked confidence, and only felt good about myself when I was lean. I weighed myself every single day and allowed that number to dictate how I felt about myself.

Today, I weigh roughly 134 lbs, and probably am about 17-18% body fat. I don’t actually know, to be honest. I workout 15-30 minutes per day, and once a week I do a longer strength only session, allotting more time for rest. I enjoy red wine on the regs, and while I eat a nourishing diet, I don’t stress out over food. When I travel, I indulge in local cuisine. I am active, strong, and fit. I’m not RIPPED and I honestly DO NOT care.

Why? Because any time I want to get shredded again, I know what to do. I know that I’ll need to tighten up my diet, and I know that I’ll need to be patient; leaning out will take a significant amount of time. I just don’t WANT to do that right now, and that’s okay.

I call this “reverse progress” but I actually think it’s real progress. I’m happier now.

Being lean isn’t my top priority. If it was, I’d work for it. My priority right now is being the best mom and wife I can be. My purpose is to teach women how to love and embrace their bodies, and should they want to be leaner, show them how to do it without going crazy.

I’m sharing this with you because I want you to see that fitness professionals aren’t perfect. We aren’t always shredded and we shouldn’t just show you our highlight reel. Sometimes I’m leaner than others, and that fluctuation is normal. It took me years to be okay with that, and to accept my body just as it is, 10 pounds up or down. I could look at that picture from 2009 and feel badly about myself for gaining weight, or I could look at the picture from a few weeks ago and feel proud of myself. I choose to feel proud.

In the picture on the left I was miserable, and today I am free as a bird. I’ve chosen not to let my body fat % dictate how I feel about myself, and fully accepted my body and all of it’s beautiful imperfections. I hope you will too.

xoxo
N”

Thank you Neghar