It’s the weekend!
Hopefully you can relax, be with friends and family, and do something fun.
Enjoy a little break!
Image from Kitsch and Retro.
It’s the weekend!
Hopefully you can relax, be with friends and family, and do something fun.
Enjoy a little break!
Image from Kitsch and Retro.
There exists a period between inspiration and execution referred to and felt as motivation.
Motivation seems to be what gets us to tackle our goals, to resist resistance, and to succeed at something.
It is often stimulated by reading powerful stories, passionate quotes, or seeing beautiful images. It is propelling, and encouraging, and it is felt.
So, what do you do if you do not feel it?
I think many of us go through seasons of feeling motivated to eat healthy and to be active, and then through seasons where we don’t. I certainly do.
Often, seasons of motivation are coupled by optimism, and hope, while seasons without motivation may be anxious, negative, or filled with resent.
Or, perhaps most frightening, coupled by feelings of nothing at all.
What motivates you to take care of your body?
Is it feeling well? Having energy? Looking pretty? Maintaining your weight? Do you ever go through seasons where you don’t care about these things? If so, what keeps you committed to the cause?
Last year I made a decision to take a brisk walk outside everyday. It wasn’t an idea that took much meditation. In fact, it was a very simple decision that has not seemed to have much impact on my schedule or general sense of well-being.
I take a brisk walk, outside, everyday. That’s it.
Rain or shine, convenient or not, I just do it.
I enjoy being outside, and I like going for walks, but I guesstimate that I have not felt like going for about 75% of my walks. It has been 10.5 months since I started walking everyday, which means I haven’t felt like taking 220 out of 294 total walks. Some of the remaining 74 walks have been anticipated, but mostly, they have just been taken because of the commitment I made to just take a daily walk.
What has been interesting to note during this period is that motivation has seemed to have very little to do with my decision to walk, and commitment has had everything to do with it.
It’s the whole, “just do it”, idea, which sometimes feels empty and uninspired, but in the end, it actually facilitates just doing it.
Walking everyday has been a relatively easy experiment to prove that the feelings of motivation are not required to succeed at a goal. Had I waited to feel motivated to walk, I would have probably skipped 220 walks so far. Maybe more.
But, of course, I want to feel motivated to do the things I do, and I want to experience the reward to succeeding at my goals. Using the experience of walking everyday, no matter what, is opening my mind up, and enlightening me to committing to other decisions, even when I do not feel like it.
Because this seems to be the gap in between motivation and motivation.
What might you achieve by deciding to commit to the desires you keep thinking about?
Image from Pulptastic.
You would not say it out loud, but you might think that being fat makes you bad. Worthy of mockery. Deserving of shame. The worst thing in the world.
Being fat is a situation you might find yourself in if you have been in the habit of overeating or bingeing. It might be a physical revelation of inflammation or hormonal imbalance or lingering weight from past pregnancies.
But being fat, having excess body mass, weighing more than other people, does not make you bad.
If you have ever thought that you are a bad person for being overweight, it is because you believe that fat is wrong.
You might believe this because you think the way to to get fat is to overeat, and overeating is wrong, so fat is wrong.
You might believe this because you think fat is ugly, or requires laziness, or dirtiness, and all of those things are disgusting which makes fat disgusting which makes you disgusting.
While some people do become fatter for eating too much or never moving their bodies, they do not become worse people, and they do not deserve public shaming.
Being fat may complicate your life (as may being thin) for a variety of reasons, but remember that fat is only extra weight your body is holding onto.
It is not your soul, your spirit, your mind. It isn’t your sense of humor, or your generosity, your intelligence, kindness, love, or wonder for the world.
It is a physical condition, and that is all.
You can lose weight. You can gain weight. And in the end, you choose what you believe about it. You choose what you do about it.
I am not suggesting that it does not matter if you are fat. Being fat may make you suspect to disease, early death, or a difficult life (physically, at the very least, emotionally, because other people, including yourself, may view your fatness as a problem needing to be shamed).
What I am suggesting is that it matters how you view fat.
If you are fat, how do you view yourself?
Lazy? Glutton? Unfortunate? Ugly? Victim? Bad?
You have not become a worse person for weighing more than you did at another point in your life, or more than people around you.
You can believe that or not, but try to keep perspective in the matter.
Hatred is bad. Injustice is bad. Bitterness is bad.
But extra weight is just extra weight. Decide if you want to do anything about it, accept the situation you are in, and move forward how you like.
Reserve disdain for those tragedies that deserves such negative feelings.
Your body isn’t one of them.
Image from Pinterest.
A common misconception about accepting yourself is that if you do, you will become lazy and never achieve any of your goals.
This isn’t true.
I read about accepting myself, exactly as I was and where I was at in life, a few years ago. The idea seemed simple, but it was very threatening.
It seemed simple because all self acceptance required was a decision to stop rejecting myself. It didn’t necessitate anything outside of myself such as a job promotion, approval from others, an improved marriage, or reputation, or a better house, or car, or bigger bank account, or fill in the blank.
It didn’t require working up to anything before it could be practiced, except the decision to practice it.
Because of this, it was also very threatening.
If self acceptance didn’t have anything to do with outside affirmation and influences, and only had to do with my decision to practice it, then it was entirely my own choice to be comfortable and happy with who I was.
And I wasn’t comfortable or happy with who I was.
So, I didn’t accept myself.
Sometimes it seems easier, or even appropriate, to decide to hold off accepting yourself until “x”, “y”, or “z” happens.
Examples as they relate to diet and fitness:
All of these goals are fine to have (though not always worthwhile), but when they necessitate your own self acceptance, your comfort and happiness relies on their presence, and typically remains in the past or in the future. You might remember a few years ago as a happier time because you were thinner, or you might wait to be happy next month, when you finally (you hope), lose weight.
But what about right now?
What about being comfortable and happy with who you are today?
The belief is that achieving your goals will make you happy. That they will erase, or at least soothe, life’s difficulties, that things will make more sense, that you will finally be comfortable with who you are and where you’re at.
And that others will be comfortable and happy with who you are and where you’re at.
But this is only an illusion.
The reality is that you will continuously be growing and evolving with the seasons of life. You will experience hardship, and loss, and pain, and devastation, but you will be relieved by grace, and mercy, and kindness, friendship, love, and laughter. And hope.
Your body will change. Your face will change. Your hair will change. For the better, and for the worse.
You will get promotions, and offers, and approvals, and rejections.
You’ll make friends, and then take different paths.
You will meet a lover and grow together, and you might lose them, and you might never.
And you can choose to accept yourself the entire time.
You can choose to be comfortable and happy about who you are and where you are at. You can certainly try to improve yourself and situations, but the process can be enjoyed and expressed lovingly, like you would to someone you cared about, simply because it’s better than negativity, judgment, anxiety, and worry.
Because it’s better than letting anything outside of yourself determine your success. Because it’s better to be happy right now, than to wait until tomorrow or reserve it for the past.
Because accepting yourself breaks down the walls that you’ve built all around you, so that you can finally be liberated to go out and do what you need to do in this life without the burden of hating yourself or feeling stuck.
The truth is, accepting yourself will not turn you into a lazy and unlikeable slob. It will relieve you, allow you to get over what is keeping you from moving forward, and free you to enjoy the short time you have to breath and love and wonder.
If you’re in the habit of waiting for something or someone to liberate your self rejection, why not try choosing to do it yourself?
Why not choose to accept yourself, and see how it goes?
Why not see if you can enjoy who you are and where you’re at today?
And then try it tomorrow, and the next day, and then the next.
Keep goals, and keep learning, and keep exploring, because it keeps things interesting, and challenging, and rewarding, but keep it in mind that those things are only life’s varieties, and that you are exactly where you need to be right now to choose self acceptance.
Image from Paris Hotel Boutique.
It’s a new week, and it’s Memorial Day.
Here is an old photo of a U.S. soldier during the Vietnam War (1955-1975), in memory of all who gave their lives for our country.
Image from Vietnam War 50th.
I have been interested in eating healthy for most of my life, but it wasn’t to treat my body well or to feel good. It was to lose weight.
I can remember being in elementary school, portioning out crackers to pack in my school lunch, wanting to know how many calories I was eating, hoping that I would become a slimmer version of myself by restricting my food.
Just one size smaller, just a few pounds thinner. Then I would be comfortable and my life would be better.
Then I could focus on others things like hobbies and a career.
Then I would accept myself.
As I got older, I educated myself on nutrition, and was convicted to eat the purest and healthiest foods possible. I counted calories for a few years, was a vegetarian for a few, got rid of all processed foods, and later adapted a diet of real foods.
I wish I could say that my goal was for health, but it wasn’t. It was always to lose weight.
I finally did lose weight after college through very restricting dieting (too much which had very negative effects on my body and mind), and when I couldn’t afford to lose any more and I still wasn’t happy or accepting of myself, I became confused about why I tried to eat healthy at all.
It is not surprising that I cycled through periods of binge eating during my years of very restrictive dieting, It was very difficult to maintain a weight that was too low for me, and very uncomfortable to starve my body of the nutrients it needed.
It often bewildered me that I would cycle through periods of very healthy eating, then periods of self-sabotaging eating that left me feeling sick and gross. This opposing pattern proved to me that I wasn’t interested in health for actual health. I was interested in it to get thin. When getting thin was too hard, I wasn’t interested in it at all.
During this season, I had done quite a bit of reading on accepting myself, and eating to treat my body well, and quitting the diet/binge habit. It sounded really nice–accepting myself, but I couldn’t. I didn’t believe I was acceptable unless I was losing weight.
It was only a few years ago that I really gave some serious thought to accepting myself no matter what I weighed or looked like, and eating healthy to be kind to my body.
What if I only ate healthy because I cared about how nutritious foods made me feel? What if I chose to be happy and comfortable with myself no matter what I looked like or what I weighed?
I attempted to take this approach, but it did not come very easily. I did not decide to accept myself, and then became a natural at it overnight.
It required daily determination to stop letting my weight determine my value. When a thought entered my mind that tied my personal success with my weight, it had to be replaced with truth immediately. When disappointment surfaced after looking in the mirror, I had to remind myself that the self-hatred I was cultivating had gotten me nowhere, it felt unfortunate, was distracting me from more important issues, and was not helping me in any way.
It dawned on me one day that I might look the way I look today for the rest of my life. Sure, I will look older, get wrinkles, and age spots, and gray hair, but I might weigh what I do now until the day I die.
Would this be OK?
Would I choose to stress about something that may never change for the rest of my life? Would I let this obsession determine my happiness, comfortability, and confidence until I die? Would I fret about this more than important issues that are happening all around me? More than caring about other people? More than connecting with family and friends? More than making a positive contribution in the world?
We all have one life. We get to choose what we value and how we spend our time, and what we believe. We get to think what we want to think. We get to feel what we want to feel.
I chose self acceptance because the path of self-hatred was exhausting. It robbed me of happiness. It kept me from being present. It made my life small, and it didn’t even allow me to do what I wanted it to in the very beginning–eat healthy to lose weight.
Self acceptance is about so much more than being OK with what you weigh or what you look like, but for those who can’t even claim these things, it’s certainly a start in a positive direction.
What about you?
Do you consider yourself someone who accepts yourself? Who accepts your body how it is right now? If not, when will your body be good enough for you to accept it? When will you choose to be happy, comfortable, and confident? Do you really believe that a number on the scale or a size of clothing can provide you with the feeling you are looking for?
Image from Johanna Ost.
Do you read books, or blogs, or magazines to learn about health?
There are thousands (make that millions) of books and articles that discuss health. From nutrition, to fitness, to diets, to personal care, mental care, home care–you can find anything you are looking for if you just search.
It can be a little overwhelming sifting though all of the information available to us today, but it is also liberating to think that we can learn anything we want about anything so quickly and independently.
A few of my favorite sources of information on health are:
Each of the above websites have encouraged and challenged me to take a look at health from more than a food angle, only. They discuss the wide range of the whole health spectrum, such as stress management, sleep, connecting with others, and mental growth.
A few of my favorite recipe blogs are:
Every recipe that these bloggers share look incredible. I admire their patience to create such complete meals, their creative eye as they photograph all of the details, and their generosity to share their work with the whole world.
And a few of my favorite books are:
Each of these books has inspired and challenged me in life-changing ways. I rarely read a book that tells me what to eat (despite being very interested in the paleo diet and lifestyle), but I do love a book that explores why and how we eat. These books are all very different from each other and helpful in many ways. If you read them yourself, apply what you like and don’t stress about the rest.
I have many other healthy references that I read and get inspiration from, these are only a few.
What are some of your favorite sources for all things health?
Image from Vintage et cancrelats.
If you have modified your diet (for improved health or religion or self-discipline) for any length of time, you might feel like the woman in this illustration–sad and lonely, and left out of the lunch time fun that the other ladies seem to be sharing.
The above illustration exaggerates this idea, but it does bring up the interesting subject of feeling like your life will not be any fun if you eat differently than (or in the woman’s case, less than) other people.
If you have ever felt anxiety, or sadness, or tension prior to or while you are changing what you eat, it is worth exploring what you believe about the foods you are excluding.
It’s possible that you believe specific foods bring you happiness, comfort, joy, or peace, and that by not eating them, you risk being miserable. It’s possible that you believe they provide you friendship and community, and without them you will be lonely.
It might sound silly, but it is a common approach if you are in the habit of relying on food to provide you happiness and a sense of belonging.
I would like to explore this idea further.
What causes us to rely on food for happiness or social connection? Why might we feel the odd one out if we choose to eat differently than other people? Is eating like other people necessary to genuinely connect with others? Does any of this even matter?
I suspect that most people do not actually believe that a food makes them happy or one of the gang. That is rather silly to suggest, as food is simply calories the body uses for immediate energy and long-term survival.
So what about not eating a food would cause a sense of lack?
Typically, changing what you eat (excluding specific foods) for health reasons is positive (as is for religious or self-disciplinary reasons). If for health reasons, removing foods that leave you feeling blah, sick, or depressed will help you feel better physically and mentally.
So, what if you still have a sense of dread about not having them?
It is a good idea to ask yourself what you believe about a specific food that you exclude and how removing it impacts your sense of happiness and social connection. Once you know what you believe about this, you can then decide if it’s a worthwhile pursuit to keep at your dietary changes.
This brings up another issue, which is when you decide to eat less of a specific food. If you believe that you need to eat alot of something to enjoy it or to have a good time, you will likely experience negative feelings when you come to the moment of being done with your portion of it. You might feel sadness to stop eating before others or before you are used to.
I’ve had to ask myself about these issues when it comes to foods high in sugar. While they are tasty and fun to eat, they generally leave me feeling rather blah and down in the dumps. When I am with people I enjoy and dessert is being passed out or ordered, I nearly always want to partake to share the experience with who I am with, but I also do not want to risk feeling blah after such a lovely time, so I usually pass (but not always). I’ve had to get honest about what I think dessert will add to my overall experience and then decide if I will have it or not.
I have also had to get honest about thinking I need alot of dessert to have a good time. This belief is not based on truth so when I start to feel sad that dessert time is over (and I have), I remind myself that I feel better with less (or none at all) and that I enjoy life, myself and other people far greater when I don’t have more than a few bites of very sugary treats.
What do you think? Does eating differently than other people have any impact on your experiences with them? Do you feel more or less included in a group based on what you eat together?
What about eating less of a certain food? Does the idea bother you or encourage you to keep at your goals?
Share your experiences by leaving a comment!
Image from Tumblr.
Should you weigh yourself?
There are a few popular approaches when it comes to stepping onto the scale to check how much you weigh.
Some people say it is a good source of accountability for maintaining their weight. These people likely weigh themselves daily, or every week, or so. They tend to know their weight at all times.
Others say that the scale is meaningless and to throw it out. They say they rely on how their clothing fits instead of their weight. These people might know roughly how much they weigh, but they don’t make a habit out of reminding themselves out of a conviction that it doesn’t really matter.
And, there are others, who haven’t decided one way or the other what to do with their scale. They get anxious just thinking about stepping on it, and they get anxious just thinking about throwing it out. Mostly, these people are just anxious.
It’s interesting to note how people approach their scale and how much power they give it.
A generalization is that those people who weigh themselves daily care alot, or more likely, too much, about how much they weigh. They are known to be happy when they see lower numbers on the scale and upset when they see higher numbers (assuming they are maintaining or trying to lose weight). Their whole day might very well be a reflection of the number they saw on the scale earlier that morning. They might eat more or less based on their weight. They might think they are a better or worse person depending on the number they see.
But this is only a generalization. There exists many people who are in the habit of weighing themselves regularly who are not in the least tempted to base their success, happiness, or morality on what the scale reads. They may make adjustments in what they eat based on how much they weigh, but it only goes as far as that. They don’t view themselves differently or expect others to view them differently if their weight goes up or down.
In the same way, it would be a generalization to say that the people who rely on their clothing as the indicator of their weight, were of a balanced approach (as popularly taught). They may not routinely weigh themselves, but they may be caught up habitual self acceptance or self hatred based on their body weight (how their clothing fits on it) on any given day. They have the same mindset as the person who relies on a magic number on the scale only it is directed at a number on their wardrobe tag.
The truth is, no matter what you do with your scale, or if you have one at all, it doesn’t really matter.
There is alot of advice about the scale, these days. People get very passionate about the topic. They may say to step on it daily to keep yourself motivated (to either maintain, lose or gain weight) or get it out of your house immediately because your weight is only your gravitational force to planet Earth (interesting point).
The important thing to remember about scales and using or not using them, is that it is your choice.
If you want to weigh yourself, you can. If you don’t, you don’t have to. If you want to remain anxious about the whole idea, so be it.
Know that no matter what the scale reads, it is your choice with how you will respond. No matter how your clothes fit, you get to decide how you will feel about yourself and your day. And if you decide to remain undecided, you get to choose how you will deal with not knowing.
So, do what works for you. Use your scale, or not, or never decide. It is my opinion that your weight has nothing to do with anything noteworthy about today, but again, that is up for you to decide.
What do you think about this? Do you think it matters how much you weigh? How much others weigh? Do you have a better day when you weigh a specific number or does it not mean very much to you?
Leave a comment to share your opinion!
Image from Smart Alex.
Image from Pinterest.
I felt they were a good introduction for understanding how binge eating starts, and an overall practical guide to limiting and lessoning the urges that accompany habitual bingeing.
But I felt mechanical writing them and it’s been bothering me.
I thought about why I would feel rather empty writing on a topic that I have so much passion for, and in a way (as lengthy series) that can possibly offer explanations to anyone who is caught up in, or knows someone caught up in, such a complex eating behavior.
I felt a little guilty for feeling this way. I want to inspire people to maintain hope that it is possible to stop binge eating, not feel bored of the topic.
It dawned on me that even though both series began as a method to break down the complicated stages of binge eating, they seemed to have ended mechanically, a little drawn out, and out of obedience to finish an idea to create a series, rather than intuitive passion.
It felt redundant. I felt redundant.
While writing both series, the topic of binge eating was all I was thinking about, despite other activities that took alot of my time, and by the end of last week I was tired and felt the need to escape from all of my repetitive thoughts that fueled so many posts on one topic.
Anything to change the pace, and to challenge and encourage me with new content.
This got me thinking.
How much of what I do is out of routine and habit? How much of what I think is a tract on repeat? How much is out of obedience to a cause that I am passionate about, but not benefiting from?
How much is out of intuition and passion?
Don’t get me wrong. Routine and habit are good things. Obedience is a good characteristic to cultivate. Rationality is good. But when they are to things that leave you feeling tired, or more likely bored and empty, it is worth exploring why, and deciding on ways to break their chains of lifelessness–deciding to turn mechanical into meaningful.
I realized when I was writing so intensely on binge eating that I had alot to say about it. Binge eating is simple, but it’s also very complex, and I want to start a new conversation on it. But as I wrote more and more, my interest became less and less, and by the end of each week, I was over the topic. I just wanted to think and write and talk about other things.
This doesn’t take away the empathy that I feel for anyone struggling with binge eating. It doesn’t mean it is not a worthwhile habit to explore or that it is not admirable to put the effort in to stop it so I don’t regret spending so much time and energy writing about it. I don’t think it was wrong to, and I don’t think it was a waste of time. Even though I felt very tired from it, maybe it helped someone, and that is fantastic. Even though I felt tired, I still aim to spread hope that anyone can stop binge eating at any time, no matter what.
Similarly, I don’t think it’s wrong to give your life’s work to a single topic, or a single lifestyle, or a single anything. I think you are lucky if you have a main passion, belief, or person in your life to expand with.
But that’s just it–expand with.
It’s really easy to get caught up in habits and routines that don’t do very much for us. Maybe they started as good intentions, healthy changes, creative challenges, enlightening endeavors, but now they aren’t. Now they are thoughtless, passionless, lifeless. Now they leave us craving more, or caring less, or not caring at all.
This can happen with anything. Your job. Your lover. Your clubs. Your breakfast. Your life.
It’s a good idea to confront your feelings of boredom and resent, when you have them, and find out what you believe about them. Beliefs create our thoughts, which create our feelings, which evolve into actions.
Actions can be energetic, they can fill us with passion. They can also be automated, mechanical, simply obedient, far from fueling.
Take time to explore your habits and routines and what you dedicate yourself to. Does it empower you? Does it challenge you to grow and expand in grace, creativity, love, compassion, empathy, acceptance for others, acceptance for yourself?
Do you think the world is more beautiful today because of how you intertwine with it? That people are more endearing? That possibilities are more possible?
It’s grueling and lonely not to.
This post seems an extreme response from two weeks of what I believe was mechanical writing. Maybe it is.
But it’s caused me to think, and explore, and remember why I write at all, and it propels me to grow and expand.
It’s not worth it to me to simply write information. There is enough information out there with enough people passing it along. There is enough reason and enough solutions and enough methods to keep you on a safe path. To keep you from exploring.
It’s worth it to me to ask questions. It’s worth it to dive deep into our approach to life, and to own it, and take responsibility for it, and to find that it’s what we make it.
It’s worth it to be convinced that it is beautiful, and that people are endearing, and that possibilities are possible.
As it relates to binge eating, to diets, to fitness, to health, it’s worth it to approach it rationally and positively, but also in its proper context.
Binge eating is a bad habit, but it’s not the worst thing that you have ever done. Remember that. Keep perspective.
Healthy eating and fitness will help you body thrive, but it’s not the end all of happiness and growth. Keep it serving you. Don’t become it’s slave. Don’t forsake intuition and passion for the illusion of perfection. Don’t play it safe following everyone else’s advice because you are afraid of making your own rules. Don’t finish someone else’s race.
Decide for yourself why you care about these topics. Decide to study and explore them and then make your own rules about how you will live them out. Implement what works for you. Get rid of everything that doesn’t.
If you’re happy to obey diets and workouts, then go for it. There isn’t any harm. But if you have second thoughts about what is trendy or learn that what is popular doesn’t work best for you, don’t be afraid to jump ship and start over with what does.
This is different from simply reacting to feelings or waiting for inspiration to make a move with your health or with your life. This is about modifying your approach to what you are engaging with so that you actually enjoy it. About seeing things differently and celebrating how it helps you grow. It’s about accepting information to help you expand, not kept put down. It’s about changing habits and routines and beliefs so that you are more in tune and connected with them.
What do you think about routine and habit for obedience’s sake? Do you find yourself enlightened by what you believe and do? How do you mix things up when you don’t?
How do you turn mechanical into meaningful?
Leave a comment if you have anything to share!
Image from Devodotcom.