Seeing Clearly Now…

How about an update to this crazy no sugar thing I committed myself to?!

There’s a foggy haze that’s been lifted and I feel like I have something substantial to actually write about.  So during this “sugar detox” I’ve found some spiritual clarifty and practices.  I’ve gotten back to and better at meditating, I actually went out and tried hot yoga (thanks to my WeightWatchers friend Lula and my BFF Katie for the nudge), and I realized just how foggy I’d been operatering these last few months.

During my rebirth of my meditation practice, I came across this excerpt and felt the need to share.

The Final Obstacle Is Us

“The greater the crisis it seems, the swifter the evolution.”
~Elizabeth Gilbert
There has never been a better moment in human history than right now to be a woman. Nobody in the history of womankind ever had a better chance to manifest her own life than the modern woman … right now.

 Then why do we still battle the lingering doubts and prejudices in our own minds that convince us we are not worthy—not good enough, not strong enough, not talented enough, not brave enough?

Why are we holding ourselves back from greatness?

It’s from a Deepak Chopra daily reflection that I did a while back.  In cleaning out my inbox (yes, I do stuff like that) I came across it again and re-read it.  This speaks so much truth to me.  This whole process is really revealing how much I’ve been holding myself back.  I don’t sit here wallowing in regret about it, on the contrary!  I’m actually grateful for my new found clarity!  I didn’t know I was walking around in a fog.  I didn’t realize how much I’d been missing out on by being in that state of being.  I was more like a zombie then human.  I’d wake up, eat, work some, eat, want to nap (sometimes did), work a bit more, eat, and then sleep again.  It sounds depressing just reading that as I type it out!  To have a day like that, not a big deal in my book.  But to have every day like that, is NOT good!  But I wasn’t aware enough to realize that that is what I was doing.

It’s no wondering I wasn’t happy with myself.  It’s no wonder I put on 15 lbs over my goal weight–note that’s over my goal weight, that’s not based on the lowest I got down to.  Yes, I’m human and until I become superhuman or really accept and deal with my faults I’ll always fight this battle.  But with where I’m at now I feel like I’m in a place where I can do that.  Accepting you’re imperfections is easier said then done.  Actually, it’s almost as challenging to admit my imperfections–step one I guess.

We all “know” we aren’t perfection but who actually talks about it?  And why is it so hard to talk about anyways.  I just saw in the news how we are creating narciscistic kids but what about ourselves.  We start a petition because we don’t think it’s ok that Facebook has an emoji that allows someone to admit that they are feeling fat?  Why?  Who cares if that’s how they feel?  I feel fat sometimes–usually it’s when I’ve over indulged on food.  No we are being censored on admitting our feelings?  And the other thing…with this recent “International Womens Day” (do guys even get a day?) when did this start and why?  It’s like the feminist’s (uh oh, I’m going on a rant and I’m sure I’m going to get comments/emails about this but too bad it’s my blog I can say what I want) own Valentine’s Day!  Why do we need ONE day to celebrate ourselves as women?  Why do we need one day to “come together” and celebrate the amazing women in this world?  Why isn’t that happening every day?  Oh I know, because the other 364 days a year we are sitting in front of our screens and judging each other.  I’ve seen “plus sized” models go through fat shaming and celebration all in the same day.  I’ve seen thin women get praised for eating indulgently in public and shamed in the same day.  I’ve seen a self empowered corporate excecutive female get praised and criticized all in the same day for being a career minded female who also wants to be a mom.  What are we doing to each other?  Are we so unhappy with ourselves that we have to bring down each other too?  This does go back to my original point about admiting and accepting our own imperfections.  In today’s society you can’t be too thin or too fat because there’s going to be a group that comes together and bashes you for it.  BE YOU!  WORRY ABOUT YOU!  I don’t mean that in a selfish, self centered way but in a Michael Jackson “take a look in the mirror” way.

We are holding ourselves back and each other by living the way we are.  Let a kid get a gift they didn’t ask for on a list so they learn humility and gratitude.  Let a student fail at a problem so they can learn how to get it right on their own.  Let a baby fall while learning to walk so they learn how to get back up and try again.  Let a woman, man, girl, boy, etc. learn to pave their own path so that they may reap the reward for achieving their goal.  There’s always a reaction for every action we take–they may be unintended but it’s going to happen none the less.  What’s the better option–“Bandaid” the problem or find a solution?  I prefer the solution, personally!

So that’s why I’m sitting here in bed (at 915pm PT) and I’m ok with that.  Label me the old lady who’s in bed before some kids are.  I don’t care.  I know that I need sleep in order to function well and with this jump ahead an hour, “performing well” isn’t where I’m at yet.  I know I’m a littler bitter that I don’t wake up at 6am to daylight anymore because of daylight savins.  But the whole government isn’t going to change that just to please me–nor they should!  Plus, I’ll adjust and get there.  I’ll be happy when the weather starts to warm and I can go for an evening run after work outside because it’s brighter later now.  I’m just a little immature about it at the moment–I’ll get over–I learned that lesson young too and I’m better for it!

So what’s this rant (yep, I’ll admit that) have to do with inner reflection, imperfection, and appreciation?  We are all individuals part of a greater piece/system.  My place in this world effects others who come in contact with me–physically or socially.  I know that if I’m not offering my best self through taking care of myself first, i’m weakening the system as a whole.  So yes, some times I just suck it up and get up and do what I have to because the world isn’t going to stop revolving if I don’t want to get out of bed.  Plus, being in that state isn’t going to make me feel any better.  Getting up is hard sometimes, but it’s for the best in the long run.

I’m seeing clearly now that taking care of myself–first and foremost–allows the system as a whole to be better.  It allows me to offer my best self to those I love and care for.  I’m not an immortal superhero who can do everything, all the time, forever.  I’m perfectly imperfection me.  What I can’t do well, someone else can and I’m good to delegate to them.  I was put on this earth for a reason and I’ll work at vocation versus trying to fulfill other’s!

Be ok and accepting of who you are and why you are who you are.  Accept your imperfections as openly as you accept your assets–they all make up who you entirely are anyways.  I’ll share this one last bit with you.  Someone in my WeightWatchers meeting this week said something so simple and yet so profound.  She was going on a cruise and worried about making the healthy choices with the all you can eat options.  A friend told her to just enjoy herself AND (this is the part I love) to let enough be enough!

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On a Quest for a RE-ReNewed Me

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I’ve seen and heard a lot of inspiring things over the course of the last couple of days and while I may be tired from the full schedule that I’ve been managing, I’m smart enough to know that I’m seeing and hearing all these things for a reason!  I’ve said it before and still believe “EVERYTHING in our lives happens for a reason and exactly when it’s supposed to happen.”

I’ve been working on this post for over a week now…Recently, I saw a good one “REAL > perfection”.  Why do I think this is so great?  Simple, there’s always a part of me that gets caught up in the whirlwind and strives for perfection.  But that’s not what it’s about and SURPRISE–I’m NOT perfect!!  The REAL me is far from perfect and perfect isn’t even realistic, so why even attempt at making it part of my goal(s).  I could sit here and point the finger at others, but that’s not realistic.  I’m the one who makes the choice.  And if I feel out of control then that’s a result of the choices I’ve made.

These last 12 months have been my first that my goal has been to maintain my weight and not lose it.  What a roller coaster this has been!  I learned quickly, that I knew how to lose but I had no idea what it was like to maintain a healthy weight.  At first I dropped some more, then I maintained my goal weight for a bit, but after that a series of events happened and I’ve been in a gain mode for a while.  Maybe it’s all the traveling I’ve been doing this year, maybe not.  Maybe it’s the personal struggle of trusting myself and my abilities, maybe not.  But even if it is due to all that, my goal has always been to live and lead a healthy life.  That involves being able to transition when those times arise in my life.  Making my new healthy habits fit.  How do we do that?

I said it in the beginning of the year and I’m realizing how today…2014 was a year of challenges.  Don’t get me wrong, challenges aren’t a bad thing.  They change us and often for the better–making us stronger, better, and wiser.  Those things that push us out of our comfort zone are what expand our comfort zone until it no longer exists.  I’ve done this before.  For example, I started this journey by walking to be active.  Then I tried going faster little by little.  I worked my way up to jogging a mile without stopping and I still remember to this day how great that felt…I ran, WITHOUT stopping, a whole mile!  Then I ran/walked my first organized 5K.  I’d intermittently throw in some 10Ks to kinda prove that I could do more.  Finally someone said to me, “You know you could run a half.”  I looked at her and thought she’d lost her mind or wasn’t talking directly to me!  LOL….love this woman though, then and still now!  She told me I could and I showed her (and myself) that I was able!  It’s the same in life.  Constant cycle of doubting ability (or assuring a confined comfort zone) and breaking those barriers down.  I’m realizing that I’m still going through these cycles and will until I no longer have barriers/a comfort zone to break through.  Is that realistic?  Maybe.  I may not live that long to find out though as it could take many many years to accomplish.

There’s another great quote that comes to mine as I type this…”It’s not who you are that holds you back; it’s who you think you aren’t.”  **I’ll pause to let you ponder that one**  OK, ready?  It got to a point for me when I realized the more people would challenge me to do bigger and better things.  The more people would start to see this new me and the potential that I was (apparently) exuding, would tell me and encourage me to think/do bigger and bolder goals.  It was this point in my life that I recognized that I was the one holding myself back and I was doing it every day, sometimes multiple times a day.  How?  Every time the words “I can’t…” came out of my mouth, I was doubting my own abilities.  I was saying couldn’t even before I tried.  The day I realized that was the last day those words ever came out of my mouth again.  It took a while to stop thinking them–especially when a certain trainer would have me do atomic push-ups on the TRX.  But it was challenges like that which made me stronger.  All this spread beyond my fitness and strength goals.

But since that peak, I feel as if I’ve lost sights of goal setting and achieving.  When I was losing there was always a goal out there–lose weight, hit my goal weight.  But since then…since then I forgot that I need to now set regular goals.  That this journey with my weight and health is never over and always present in my life.  That every choice I make ripples into the next and they all affect my wellbeing.  Now that I’ve said this, I need to focus forward and work towards a maintainance lifestyle.  Which requires regular self assessments, healthy choices all around, positive thinking, living life active and reflection/me time to rest and recoup.  My focus first is assessment which I’ll address in my next blog post.  Followed by a blog post about healthy choices, and so on.  This is what my “Quest for a RE-ReNewedMe will entail.  This is my choice, I will post about it (all–good, bad, and ugly) because I’m REAL and far from perfect.  And because the ultimate goal is really about continuing to strive and become a better version of my self while living my vocation to help others–BALANCE.

 

In Good Health,

@ReNewedMe, aka Dre

Leaders (Weight Watchers) Need Love Too

I’m a leader who called out sick this week for some meetings.  Why?  Because I caught whatever is going around and I’m down for the count! I’ve tried to write this blog I’ve titled numerous times, but I end up allowing myself to get pulled away by other things.  But I sit here now and recognize that this post isn’t just for others but also for myself.  Had I sat down and written this the numerous times I started to before, it probably would have come off more like and rant or venting session from me.  But my intent for this is just the opposite.  This message goes for mothers, fathers, care takers, teachers, etc. ALL of you out there you naturally put other’s well-being before your own on a day to day basis.

When I decided to join the WeightWatchers team I remember thinking that this would be a great way to hold myself accountable to my maintenance efforts.  Quite the opposite has lived out…I find myself putting my job(s) before my own needs and it’s having side effects on my body.  I spent this last week sick.  I don’t get sick often, in fact since I started taking better care of myself and living a healthier lifestyle I pretty much haven’t gotten sick at all.  But this past winter I’ve caught bad colds twice from interactions with others who’ve chosen not to stay home and take care of themselves but go out and end up infecting others.  I know I’m not living in the time of the plague but still….PEOPLE, I’m not asking you to stay home if you are sick for my sake but for YOUR OWN.

Why do we neglect to take care of ourselves or to do so last instead of first?  I find that many of my old habits like this are coming back in my new role as a WW Leader.  In talking to other leaders in my territory I find that many of them have similar habits and it saddens me.  Why is is that we who are so motivated to help others neglect to help ourselves?  In reality I offer my best self to my members when I am at my best.  They inspire me, they motivate me and they encourage me through their own actions to be the best version of myself.

So I’m leaving this post short and with a sweetness to finish….Leader, members, all people of this world…please don’t forget to take care of yourself first and foremost so you can really offer the best versions of yourselves to those you encounter!  Take time for yourself on a daily basis, eat well, be active, sleep soundly, and wake up with hope in your heart that each day is the day you will positively impact someones life!  Set yourself a solid foundation so you can build great things upon it!

 

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Making for a Happier & Healthier Holidays

I can’t help it…the holiday season reminds me of my Mom and those remind me that she’s no longer physically here.  This often saddens me when I’m reminded.  I’ve embraced this, really I have, I know it’s part of my “new normal” of living the rest of my life without her here. There will be no walking me down the aisle when I get married, no holding my first born, etc.  I didn’t think about these things initially after her passing.  I’ve embraced this and the fact that even for the silliest of sad movie moments I’ll tear up like she used to–I used to make fun of her for this!

The point here is that life goes on and if I keep myself open to moving on, I will.  I’ll never forget her, but I will always be open to how to continue to live my life to the best of my ability without her physically here….evening during the harder times.  To do so, I’ve found that embracing the facts is part of the process.  Facts like she’s physically gone and there’s no bringing her back in that sense and the emotions that ensue.  There’s nothing wrong with being sad but for some reason many (including my past self) thought this to be a shameful or unacceptable reaction.  Don’t get my wrong, I don’t “enjoying” crying or being sad, but I tend to be better if feel it and deal with it.  

 

So to make for a happier holidays I’ve started to bring some of her back into my holiday traditions.  Here are my top 5 tips to make it a happier holiday season even if someone special is gone.

1) Reignite a traditional holiday event.  For example, as kids she used to take us into the city to see all the holiday decorations, do a little bit of shopping and have a nice lunch.  This year I decided to spend a day celebrating my birthday doing this.  It was really nice and I did it with friends!  The memories the came up made me happy and not sad, I was mentally and emotionally ready to do this.  

2) Make their festive food tradition your own.  Every year she’d spend time baking her infamous chocolate chip cookies for the neighbors.  I did this to a T the first couple of Christmas years but I’ve now put my own spin on it and the cookies are a supporting act and not the main feature.  It’s taken her tradition and turned it into ours!  It doesn’t make me sad, it makes me feel closer to her.  

3) Be open to your new normal.  Especially if this is your first holiday without them.  You can’t bring them back (physically speaking) so what you’ve known as “normal” or “traditional” is going to change from this point forward, it’s inevitable and fighting it won’t make it easier.  Our first holiday after my Mom passed was Thanksgiving.  She used to spend the week leading up to that Thursday in the kitchen prepping for our and our extended family’s dinner!  Our first one after she passed, my Dad ordered one of the box ones from the grocery store.  I was in shock but I wasn’t about to argue about it.  Even if we did try to recreate it, it would have not been the same and probably added more tension and emotion to the day.

4) Embrace the feelings.  Yup, you are going to get mad, be angry, and/or tear/cry–might as well accept it.  It doesn’t mean you are broken–just human and unlike the Tin Man, you have a heart.  I can still remember our first Holiday Season without her…it felt weird (like something was missing), it didn’t feel right, I was sad, felt lonely, I cried, etc.  But each year since, it’s gotten easier and happier.   I still have moments/days that are still less happy but I take those days for myself and then commit to not letting it keep me down.

5) Focus forward.  I can’t tell you how many times I opted to turn to food to “soothe” or drown my feelings related to not having my Mom around any more.  I can’t tell you because it happened so much that I lost count.  But I can tell you that those times have significantly reduced over the years.  For one, I’m more aware of how I feel after I’ve done that and I don’t like that physical feeling.  Secondly, it doesn’t help with the emotional pain, it’s still there after I down a box of chocolates.  So I now I focus more on fueling my body versus “feeding” the feelings.  I also get out if I’m in a funk.  Winter months tend to keep us inside more than outside which reduces key nutrients and vitamins that we get from the sun and have side effects in and of themselves.  So I commit to getting outside weather permitting and if it doesn’t I still try and get out of my house.  

I can’t guarantee that all this will work for everyone, I’m simply sharing what I know has worked for me.  You can’t stop change from happening, but you can make it an easier shift by going with its “flow” versus fighting against its “current”!

Mind Over Platter–A Food Lesson Learned Running

How is it that when I want to be mindful that I think about everything else except what I want to be focusing on?  BUT when I just want to be “brainless” I’m all of a sudden very aware of what I’m doing, feeling, thinking, etc?! What gives?!?!

This didn’t come up out of no where.  A couple of weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a Mindful Eating Event hosted by FoodieMcBody.   It was a great and very eye opening event.  I was there with a room full of about 10 other people and I realized I felt very alone.  We ate in silence without eye contact and I realized that I don’t normally do this because I didn’t like the feeling of feeling alone.  I’m not going to give it all away, I HIGHLY recommend if you are ever in the Bay Area when she hosts this, that you attend in person!  Of course you leave something like that feeling empowered and inspired to want to live the rest of your life like this–eat by candle light every night, sit down to dine, one bite at a time, put down your utensil after each bite, etc.  But reality is, that doesn’t happen!  I ate about a cup of food that night after have a very full and active day and I felt completely satisfied.  For the next two weeks, my mind felt like I should eat myself out of house and home!  Often not even remembering how much and what I even put in my mouth–let alone how it tasted–kinda like my eating out of the peanut butter jar yesterday!

Then I had 10 miles to run last Sunday–during which I was very mindful and aware of how my legs, lungs and (in general) whole body felt while running.  I heard every pound of my feet on the pavement, every breath in and out, and person pass me along the trail.  I felt every tightness in my calves, quads, hamstrings, and burn in my lungs.  Starting out, I could have sworn I heard every tick of time going by–SLOWLY…much like my speed.  And then I thought…”How is it that I’m so aware of all this while I’m running but I’m so unaware when I eat?”

Have you ever thought about or asked yourself that?  Am I alone here too?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT trying to deter anyone who’s thought about trying running to not try!  I LOVE running and there isn’t anything I’d rather do (I think that’s pretty evident being that I’m approaching on completing my 7th in 14 months this weekend)!  Running is very much a mental activity while at the same time not.  I have been on runs where I literally have almost closed my eyes while running because I’ve gotten so relaxed–head to toe, inside and out.  It’s like meditating but easier–in the sense of hitting that happy non scattered place in your head.  In that sense, it’s that aspect of running that I’ve become “addicted” to.  After completing my first someone asked me how I liked it and how I was feeling now.  When I paused to think about my answer, I realized I hadn’t had a long run since my half and I missed that “happy place” that long runs take your mind to!  I say it in jest but it’s kinda true, running gives you a sense of a high that you really keep wanting to get back to.  Training for long runs teaches you how to physically get there but once that becomes a natural movement for you–knowing you pace–you are able to get to that quiet place and enjoy the run!

So I guess I’ve kinda answered my question here…In order to be as mindful eating as I am a runner, I need to set up those routines so I don’t over think so much and can just sit down (that may be the hardest part to implement right now) and enjoy my meal.  I can eat until satisfied and not be concerned that some child somewhere else is going to starve because I didn’t join the “clean plate club” that meal.  I can stop and enjoy my food and not be worried, sad, or concerned about what’s going on outside of that very moment.  I can enjoy and learn to stop, pause, and be aware/present in that very moment and OK with whatever may happen at said moment.

I think to help, I’m going to continue to read up on this with the book Savor by Thich Nhat Hinh which informs readers about mindful living and how it relates/impacts our eating.  I may be at a point of maintaining my weight, but I know what got me to my highest…it wasn’t ONE piece of cake, pizza or bag of chips.  It was my relationship with food and the practice of eating/dinning.  That fear of the unknown–as small or simple as it may actually be.  That not wanting to feel the pain, sadness, anger, etc so turning to food to numb it because mentally it was unbearable.  Running has taught me more than just how to run (because I never was good at it…I nearly passed out after my mile run to earn my Presidential Fitness award in 8th grade!); it’s taught me how to be mindful, present and aware.  Running has taught me how to feel, be ok with what I feel, and that I’ll survive whatever it is I feel.

The view from my last 8 mile run in San Mateo and the thought I had while approaching that turn.

The view from my last 8 mile run in San Mateo and the thought I had while approaching that turn.