I was in ER the other day and you know that feeling where you're so mad you think...
FUCK IT. I'M GOING TO EAT A WHOLE PIZZA/CAKE/COSTCO MUFFIN TRAY ... AND I'm going to drink a box of wine..... and then I'll feel better!
If you read that and thought "NO.. I've never wanted to do any of those things", you are either;
A) Incredibly lucky... and kudos for never using food/drink to self medicate. You're my hero right now.
B) Lying. Come on. A whole muffin tray is a delicious way to burn through a week of calories.
And yet isn't it ridiculous to think that by eating a pizza or a whole bag of mini eggs we are going to feel any better about ANYTHING?
Whaaaaat? Pizza DOESN'T make everything better?
A valid question indeed. The answer is sadly, no. It does not. After bad news in the ER I was almost ready to jump into maximum pizza eating mode, but I didn't. WHY? (and the answer has nothing to do with me being off dairy - true story)
It's all got to do with habits. Recognizing them - Analyzing them - and changing them.
Wait up... before we get to the WHY I didn't speed dial Panago - I need to tell you why I was in ER in the first place and what made me mad.
In December I fractured my foot. I had been teaching Zumba on a spring loaded floor built for gymnastics and tumbling and just as I launched into a side step during the second warm up, I rolled my foot into a part of the floor that had an empty air pocket. OUCH. No big deal though, I carried on and sucked it up.
Never having had an injury before and being an optimist, I figured it would be back to normal in no time. By January I was noticing how much less I was enjoying walking and decided I should get it checked out for real.
My X-ray came back with what the Dr suggested was a fracture that had healed all by itself and the extra pain that I was experiencing was in fact the bone growing (or something). "Cool" , I thought. So I carried on in pain and with a limp.
It kept on getting worse though. And a limp is only cool for a pirate or a gangster, of which I am neither.
I continued teaching Zumba twice a week and heavily icing my foot in between. I walked less than usual and when I was no longer the leader amongst my fitbit friends, I knew something was up. If you invite me for a workweek challenge, you better be bringing your A game, that's all I'm saying.
So what have my broken foot and pizza got in common?
When I left the ER I was under instructions to purchase a walking boot. Ain't nothing sexier than an airboot. My mood took a sharp turn to shit. Then, I was instructed to REST my foot as much as possible. No more dead lifts and not teach my Fit By Design Zumba classes for a few weeks. I was sitting there with a very distinct resting bitch face, knowing I had just entered into what used to be a dangerous habit loop. I tried bargaining with the doctor, threw some humour at the sitaution and told him he could see my foot on instagram later on as I took a picture of the X-ray. I felt totally deflated.
A few weeks prior I had started training with Robert Petrie, F3FIT to learn the fundamentals of lifting weights properly and to get really, really REALLY strong while minimizing the use of my foot. Stopping would be a huge blow and knowing I was letting down my wonderful Fit By Design Zumba crew down SUCKED. That's where a pizza could have made me feel oh-so-much better.
My habit loop:
CUE - Bad thing happens (broken foot, need a cast, can't do exercise)
ROUTINE - I immediately want to eat whole pizza, cake,
REWARD - I feel much better. Comforted. Happy. Safe
It makes me feel sad to admit that's how I've dealt with emotional problems. Until I took the time to learn about my habits, I might have always relied on this way of dealing with negative things. Now you may be wondering...
How can I make myself more awesome by learning about MY habits?
This is an awesome question and I can suggest grabbing a copy of The Power of Habit and turning into a hermit for 24 hours while you learn everything you can about why you do the things you do.
Now what ?
So while I rest as much as possible, I am able to still focus on good nutrition. Drinking plenty of water. Doing what I can for weights without using my foot with some nifty modifications to my plan (thanks, Robert) and only thinking a lil' bit about pizza while I limp along with this ridiculous airboot like a gangster-yo.
p.s) My plan is to lose 80lbs by the end of year. You can keep me accountable and cheer me on (please!!) by following my instagram @beboldstaygold_
It's not long until Valentine's Day - and the stores have long since been awash in a sea of red and pink heart shaped items. It's enough to make you choke on your Ferrero Roche.
Some people get carried away with this idea that love revolves around this one day of the year. Which is, of course, is not the case.
I know I sound bitter, but I've always had a love-hate relationship with V-Day.
Not to say I'm not romantic - because I triple dog dare you to find anyone as romantic as me. Seriously. It's in my DNA. And really, who doesn't love to get flowers, or chocolates, or if you're a millennial, maybe even a dick pic sent to you in a text message. I mean... it all counts for something, right?
When did loving someone become a one day event, marked by too much pressure, too little thought, or massive over compensation - isn't love is about 365 days of gestures? Small daily gestures make a big impact.
For the past few years my eldest child has requested a set of cards to send everyone in his class because "it's Valentine's Day". For 2 years I have done the dutiful thing, but this year, I kinda-sorta-wanna say NO.
As a kid growing up in London, I never bought a multi pack of cartoon themed Valentine's cards and sent them to every person in the class. Where I came from, if you did bother to send someone a card, you wrote it badly with your left hand and awkwardly left it in their bag, or on their desk at break time, hoping that they would not actually guess it was from you. Mostly because it was too bloody embarrassing. It was about the most passive way of telling someone you liked them.
Anonymity + total lack of confidence = winning plan when declaring your love.
Perhaps it's my inner rebel - refusing to fall prey to the marketing of major greeting cards companies. Maybe it's something far less imaginative; but sending cards on Valentine's Day has been a rare event in my 36 years on earth.
I sent my first card to a friend's older brother when I was 10.
This was no simple romantic gesture. This was executed with precise detail. A covert mission if you will. It was practically out of a John le Carré novel.
To keep my identity intact, I enlisted the help of my mother. Without details, I instructed her (asked nicely) to address an envelope. She probably asked me why at the time, but I may possibly have jump rolled out of the room like a slower, fatter 10 year old female version of Jason Bourne. Once it was in the mail, there was nothing to do but pat myself on the back for my expert stealth. Mission objective was complete.
Not satisfied with the actual sending of the card, I now needed to know two vital pieces of intel;
1. Did he get the card? and
2. Did it make him fall madly in love with me?
It might have been the unusual amount of foot shuffling, or the sudden extreme rush of blood to my face, or the way in which I was unable to construct a sentence that made perfect sense.
but on confrontation, my super secret spy stealth went to shit. He got the card, but totally ignored me as usual.
1 out of 2 ain't bad.
Ain't bad at all.
I skipped a few years of card sending and finally started receiving some when I was 14. At first I thought my brother was taking pity on me - but later found out my crush (who I also happened to send a card to) had sent me one. Faith in Valentine's Day restored. Booyah.
Back then we would travel to a different town to send a card just so the post mark was different - and yet he'd still call up to ask if I got his "anonymous" card and I'd hear about the "anonymous" card he got.
Over the years I have always felt that Valentine's day has been a little bit less about love, and more about showing off love - and this is not to say that my future Valentine will not see the full extent of my showyoffyness. If need be, I'd write my love in the stars...
But more and more, I believe that love should be shown everyday. In the little things. There's no need to make a grand gesture one day a year. What's wrong with this Wednesday? Next Thursday? Right now?
I don't believe there is any shame is telling someone you love them anytime of the year.
And for the record, Ferrero Roche taste much better at Christmas, but flowers and dick pics are welcome all year round!
p.s) I'm.. err.. joking about the dick pics.
On paper, this year could have been the worst. It certainly had its moments. Without dwelling too hard, I can conjure up a dozen reasons why this might have been the best year of my life.
I started the year on a high. Having worked through a serious slump from the death of my Dad in the summer of 2014 it took me until October to really regain control of my life. After a lot of introspection and some counselling with Angela Clark (ROPC) I was able to push forward and gain the momentum that would carry me through 2015. I'd already reached the point of wanting more from life and was feeling unstoppable by the end of the year. I remember so clearly thinking, 2015 would be the best year of my life and I documented it as such. With so much to look forward to, I couldn't wait to welcome in 2016.
In January, instead of starting where everyone else was (feeling ready to jump on the fitness wagon) I was already 10lbs lighter and ready to keep working hard to reach my goals. Practically every year of my adult life, January had been a month for making changes.. this year, however, I was already on my way.
The weight loss momentum did continue throughout the year as was sped up significantly at the latter end of February when I, for a short period of time, gave up eating.
Apparently, nothing makes you lose your appetite quicker than your husband deciding to leave you.
I say this in jest, and we all know (well, you probably don't know) but there was no correlation to my size and my relationship ending. That didn't stop a few people from sending me their pity in forms of condescending "it doesn't matter that you're fat, you'll find someone else to love you" remarks. As if that were the sole purpose of my life? I brushed that off to the kind of awkward thing blurted out when you don't know what to say to someone in their sorrow. I wouldn't have known what to say either. Maybe nothing needed to be said. In many moments, the best form of understanding was a hug - and I got plenty of those from cherished people in my life.
I tried to listen, gracefully, to the many varied and somewhat puzzling things people told me while I digested the information. I'm not going to say it wasn't horrible and a struggle - but it became quickly apparent to me that the only solution was moving forward, in the knowledge that the universe had something bigger and better planned for me.
Even that was confusing to some people. After that many years with someone, shouldn't I have been crying myself to sleep with a picture of him on my pillow?
Maybe... but I've never been conventional.
Not to say there weren't moments of real despair. Moments where I wondered if I would be able to drag myself out of the darkness and find anything positive to cling on to. For those of you who have suffered from depression you will know the pain I talk of. It's real. It's not something you brush off and walk away from easily. I can be grateful that in my toolkit I have the ability to recognise this destructive melancholic behavior and dig my way out.
Instead of following the typical "must hate my ex" strategy I chose to be grateful for all that we'd had. Instead of hating, I sent love. Not in a romantic way of course.. but in a genuine hope-you-are-happy kind of way. For the children, my thoughts and actions were to always put him in a positive light - which at times, was a struggle - but for the most part, sincere. Sometimes I hated him a bit too. After all, I'm not a fucking angel.
One of the discoveries I made this year was how many generous and kind people are in my life. I always knew I was blessed with the most amazing friendships, but rediscovering some of them was a highlight of my year. Some people, of course, made a dramatic exit and a few others slipped away quietly but everything happened just as it was meant to.
Despite the very obvious change in my life this year, it has been better, if not the best year to date and that has very little to do with anything external -and very much to do with me stepping into my personal power. This year I realised how much I had to offer. Not shallow friendship or meaningless connection but a genuine passion for living my life with purpose.
Right to the very last days, this year has been full of love and laughter.
And with an even greater level of optimism, I feel 2016 is going to be my best year yet! Not because I am giving up anything, or making pointless resolutions, but because I refuse to make excuses for myself.
I am no longer worried about the fear of rejection. Fear of not doing it perfectly. No longer will I carry that crippling doubt on my shoulders.
It has been a year of self discovery and acceptance. It has been about looking at myself and liking the person I see, flaws and all.
It has been about acknowledging the value I bring to every relationship and seeing the value in every transaction.
Stepping into 2016, I can walk my dog with my head high, smiling at every person because I want to. Because I am filled with a joy of self acceptance.
It means I move into the year acknowledging that I'm confident, I'm happy, I'm exactly what you see"
and I love myself.
Thank you for being part of my life.
There have been times when I have reached the end of the day, and without having to count up the calories, I have known how utterly terrible my choices have been.
I mean, sometimes… sometimes… you accidentally eat a doughnut.
And by sometimes, I mean always. And by doughnut, I mean box of doughnuts.
And as I sit there, with my sugar glazed lips, biting into that moist dough, I am looking at the remaining box thinking "stop looking so delicious would ya!"
Trouble is, for a person like me, a lonely doughnut isn’t enough. Not when you have an insatiable appetite for refined carbs and sugar. It only makes sense to wash it down with a bottle of wine, a bag of chips and the last stash of Halloween candy in the freezer. Just kidding, there is never any leftover Halloween candy in my house. And so the cycle begins again.
One doughnut to blame for a day of bad choices – might as well, right.. I mean.. it couldn’t hurt? Which leads into two days. Which leads into three and before you know it, that small moment of weakness became a week of bad choices and in my case, if I’m lucky, only about a 7lbs gain.
Best of all…..I can’t even remember what the doughnuts tasted like.
You make one bad choice and it's full on FAILURE. Failure before you succeeded. Failure to allow yourself to succeed. And you convince yourself that you can eat all the doughnuts and start again tomorrow until you make the next mistake.
Failure is that comfortable place we hang out in when we’re not ready to really work hard and get what we want.
It’s so much easier to admit defeat and blame your old ways and your lazy, miserable doughnut loving self, than to empower the "doughnut in moderation" version of yourself that is just desperate to succeed, but so scared to fail. Again. And again…
That was how my 2014 panned out. Despite some great efforts and successes throughout the year – my heart was elsewhere and although my intentions were good – my ability to make it happen....didn’t work out. There were many doughnut days.
I realise how hard it is to admit you fucked up.
I realise how hard it is to take action again.
I realise how embarrassing can be to admit you tried and failed.
But I also know how awesome it is to succeed. So keep going anyway.
Tonight I found myself looking for an excuse to get an ice cream. I didn't need one or even really want one - but the convenience of being in the city and opportunity to take my dog out for a walk lended itself to the possibility of a peanut buster parfait. I walked out the house with the full intention of buying something.. sundae? maybe a blizzard? By the time I had got to the end of the road I was debating the size - should I get something big or small. I asked myself if I really wanted the ice cream? I said "Yes" DUH!!
But I stopped myself from walking down a block and turned the corner. I asked myself again if the best version of myself wanted that ice cream? I broke the cycle of failure in that moment by saying no.
I'll admit - I wasn't as strong yesterday when I was eating the top of a defrosted cake that my friend had given me - but I never claimed to be perfect....and as the summer draws to an end and we're in "back to school" mentality, the doughnut days of summer are over and we can choose to be successful once again.
From an early age kids are fascinated with mirrors. Put a mirror in front of a baby and watch their joy and curiosity in discovering their own reflection. I've always been fascinated with mirrors and the power they hold over us.
This weekend I realised I have a lot of mirrors in my place. Yep. I think it could be a thing.
I remember one of my boarding school bedrooms that had a mirror as you walked out the door. Every time, without fail, I would do the old point, wink and click.
As an adult, I dream of a wall of mirrors so I can watch myself dance. As a matter of self improvement, you understand. Mirrors are a part of my life. You see it all. The good - the not so good. It's all on show and I like to watch.
Mirrors have given me the opportunity to practice my smile for the camera. They've been witness to tears. They have been there to document my weight loss. They have watched me grab rolls of fat in moments of self loathing.
Find me a woman who hasn’t once complained and scoffed at herself in the mirror over her imperfections.– Throwing criticism around casually - picking herself apart. Letting the mirror have the power over her feelings. Sometimes that has applied to me....
But, for the most part, when I'm looking in the mirror I’m usually imagining the Kool Aid Man bursting through my wall. OHHH YEAH!
Call me big headed if you will, but that's not the case. I choose to feel beautiful. It's as simple as that.
And we keep looking in them because we want to see our beauty, our strength and our flaws.
We look into them because we need to see what's reflected in the world around us.
And sometimes we don't like what we see.
Imagine if you used the energy you spent hating yourself in the mirror, and simply loved yourself.
What could change in those moments – over days, weeks, months, years?
Would it be possible to start feeling beautiful, where you once felt disgusting? Undesirable?
In my mirror I see a woman who has suffered. Loved. Struggled. Succeeded.
I see a woman who knows what she wants and who is prepared to get it.
I see kindness. I see determination. I see bravery and loyalty. The smile on my face and the light in my eyes. Don't get me wrong, I see the physical imperfections too... but I choose not to dwell on them.
No mirror will ever know the full picture anyway... because it's not only about what you see, it's about what you feel. And I wake up every morning and FEEL beautiful.
Not because I am the most exquisite creature on earth (although let me know if you disagree!) but because I choose it that way.
What's your relationship with the mirror?
I hope you can look yourself in the eyes and surrender to the person inside telling you you're not enough in some way. You are always enough. I hope you can look at that person looking back at you and love them with all your heart. And if you don't....
I hope you're lucky enough to meet a person who will be a mirror in your life. Someone who will help you see what you can’t from your own perspective.
I hope that you will find someone who will give you the answers the mirror never does, or at least, wants to explore the questions with you.
And some people come into our lives, with their own brilliant perspectives.
They make us question if we need all our mirrors, but they still hang them up for us anyway.
Mother, creative strategist and health & happiness advocate. These are my personal ramblings..