No More Weight Loss Goals

I realized this morning that this it the first New Year in about 14 years that I have not had a weight loss goal as a goal for the year. Wow! 14 years of wasted energy directed at a fallacious goal. Each year I felt like I wasn't good enough, like I needed to work harder. And yet, each year I always had the same goal. If my goal had been truly to lose extra weight because I was overweight and concerned for my health, then why did I have to continue to make the same goal every year? Because losing weight and the number on the scale was about more than that to me. I realize now that it was all about control and it was a misplaced coping mechanism. I had it in my head all those years that I was not good enough and that if I just lost a little more weight then I would be happy with myself. Of course I can see clearer looking back and that would have never been the case. My end goal weight was constantly shifting lower and lower. It never really was about the weight loss and I can see that now. Listening to My Body

I used to be so tied to weighing myself on the bathroom scales too. I attempted many times to exercise with the goal of being healthier and stronger, but the scales would end up pulling me back down to obsessing about the weight instead. Now it is such a wonderful feeling to exercise every day because I want to do it for my health and not run to the scales for confirmation that I was doing a good job. Because I am not looking at the scales for affirmation, I am able to notice more how my body feels after exercising. I can notice the wonderful feeling that you get when the brain releases all those feel good endorphins after exercising. I can notice if a workout was the right effort, too much, or too little for that particular day. I feel more connected to my body and how it is responding to the exercising. Instead of sticking to a regimented exercise routine, I listen to my body each day and push it when it is ready to be pushed and slow down when it needs a rest.

The Old Ball and Chain

But as wonderful as this all is, I know the scales will probably always be a stumbling block for me. It was such a battle about 6 months ago to get rid of our scales. First, I asked my husband to take them away. Then I asked him to just hide them, not throw them away because I wanted to be able to weigh once a week. And for the first couple of days I was okay with that. But then the obsessing over not being able to weigh myself multiple times a day anymore took over and I resorted to searching all over the house for where he hid them. I finally found where he had hidden them outside the house and I used to wake up before him just so that I could sneak outside and weigh myself. I felt so ashamed of myself, but I couldn't stop. After a little while of this and after a particularly helpful therapy session, I was able to see that I needed to get rid of the scales once and for all. That night I came back from my session and told my husband that I had been sneakily weighing myself and that it was time to throw them away. Mercifully, that night was our garbage pickup night so I did not have a chance to go back and change my mind. If I had the chance, I most likely would have, regardless of how strong my resolve was at that moment. My tie to the scales was more powerful than my resolve. But that night I took the scales in my hands and walked out to the trashcan by the curb and threw the scales away. I realized in that moment just how powerful a hold they had over me because to throw the scales aways physically affected me by making my stomach hurt and my hands shake.

For several months after throwing the scales away, I struggled with not having a scale and even resorted to weighing myself when I was at someone else's house a few times. But by that point, it had lost its "magic". Previously I had very strict rules for myself about when and how I would weigh myself and sporadically weighing at someone else's house didn't hold the same appeal and power over me. Then one day I finally stopped caring about weighing myself. Although, I do have to be honest and admit that I still get oddly excited when I have to go to the doctor and I find myself hoping that they will weigh me. I know, kind of crazy, right? ;) It's okay, I can see it for what it is now. But because of how getting weighted by the doctor makes me feel, I know that it would be in my best interest to probably never have a scale in my house again.

Looking Ahead

Now here I am at my first New Year without a scale to prompt me to make my annual weight loss goal. And I have to say that it feels really good not to have that ball and chain tied to me anymore. This year I got to put my energy into the present and the future and into what I want to get out of my life in this coming year. I am really excited about the journey that I am on this year and I am so happy the weight loss obsession is not a part of that journey.

Time to Take Down the Tree...Maybe...Not Yet!

It is important to make note and celebrate the little victories along the journey of life. All those little victories add up to big changes down the road. Today I had one of those little victories. I realized it when I got the boxes out of the attic to put the Christmas decorations away and take down the tree. But first, let me backtrack a little...

Last Christmas

When I was younger, I LOVED Christmas!! I could not wait for it every year and was always a little sad when it was over. But somewhere along the way, the holiday season had become a stressful time for me. So stressful that in recent years, I could not wait to take down the tree ASAP! Last year, Christmas was on Sunday and my husband didn't have anymore vacation days left for the year so he had to go back to work the next day. I remember telling him Christmas night that I was going to take down the tree the next day. He asked me not to, to consider the kids and wait a little longer. But I had gotten myself so worked up that I just wanted Christmas to be over. I told him I would think about leaving it up a couple more days and I did, but only for the kids. He told me sometime later that he wasn't sure if the tree would still be up when he got back home from work on Dec. 26 or not.

This Christmas

That brings me to this year. Christmas with all the extended family was really good this year but I still ended up feeling a bit overwhelmed and "spent" after it was over. The difference this year was that for the first time in several years, I did not go into the holidays dreading it. But then when I still felt overwhelmed this year, I began to feel discouraged because I couldn't figure out why I felt this way. After all, I went into the holidays with a good attitude this year. So why did I still feel bad? I came to realize that I think that is how my mind and body reacts to the situation. My family is filled with lots of strong personalities and while all these personalities meshed well together this year, it still is a lot of energy in a contained space. And because I went into the holidays with a good attitude this year, I was able to see that perhaps some of the cause for all my angst in years past had to do with me reacting to all that energy. After realizing that, I resolved to plan more time to relax next year around the holidays to offset the high energy of all my wonderful family members. I'm excited to see how that helps next year.

The Tree

Back to this year and the Christmas tree. I got the boxes out of the attic today to put away the decorations because today is New Years Day and I thought it was probably time to take it down. When my husband saw me with the boxes, he asked if I could wait until tomorrow and we could enjoy it for one more night. When he asked me that, I was more than happy to agree to it. My heart wasn't into taking down the tree yet. I am actually NOT happy and excited about taking down the tree this year. What a change from last year! Last year I couldn't wait to take it down and this year I'm not ready for it to end. That is a victory in my book! The hard work that I have been putting into therapy and working on myself this year is paying off and I am beginning to see the reward of my efforts in more and more places in my life. And that is a very wonderful thing indeed!

Time

I have been reflecting on the things I wrote earlier this week in my previous post, "Chasing 2 Rabbits" and I have come to a decision about some things in my life. First, I have realized that I don't need to give up my hobby so that I can focus solely on my nursing schooling and career. My hobby that I mentioned, is a source of relaxation and enjoyment for me. That is important to keep in my life while I go through this stressful journey called "nursing school". I believe that choosing a "rabbit" to follow comes into play when I decided where to focus most of my energy on. Now may not be the right time to try to grow my hobby into a small business. That time can come later after I graduate nursing school. But that doesn't mean that I have to give up my hobby now either, just that I need to prioritize less time and energy for the hobby and more for school. And that brings me to the thing that I've been thinking about the most lately, time and how to best spend it. Time is a funny thing. Some days it seems to fly by and other days it seems to crawl. But regardless what we think about time and how we spend our time, there are a finite number of minutes in a day and time "stops for no man." It keeps moving along whether we are using it wisely or not. With that in mind, I have decided to take a look at how I am spending my time. I know that there are some areas that can be streamlined and some areas that can be made better use of.

I have 15 days until my winter break is over and the new semester starts (and from what I've been told, the 2nd year of nursing school can be a doozy!) I'm going to spend the remainder of my break crafting a schedule that uses my time wisely and makes time for my priorities. I think that for my sanity (and for the sanity of those around me ;) ), it is important to included time in my day to do things that nurture my Self, not just spend my days checking items off the busy to do list and caring for my family. I know that using my time wisely and including relaxing and self-care activities will go a long way to help keep stress levels down. And that will help tremendously with my continued recovery from my control and eating issues.

Time's ticking! I'm off to prioritize my activities and take hold of the time that I've been given.

Saying "Good Night" to the Night Owl

Given my druthers, I would stay up late at night and sleep until I was fully rested in the morning. It isn't so much that I like sleeping late in the morning, but rather that I enjoy feeling rested and I enjoy staying up late at night too. I do love early mornings though. It is just the getting up that makes early mornings so hard. :) I guess you could say that I am a tired night owl (since I tend to stay up too late given the fact that I have to get up at a set time each morning regardless of what time I went to bed) who wishes she was an early bird. I have tried numerous times to get up earlier in the morning and I loved those early mornings! I have learned that my days go better when I can start the day off with thirty minutes to an hour of quiet, unhurried time by myself. Those days I am more productive, I have a better mental outlook, and I have more patience with others and myself. On the flip-side, when I stay up late at night, those are the times that I can be more plagued with negative thoughts. There is more time to look back over my day with a critical eye, judging myself for the things that I did or did not do that day. While it is helpful to take time to evaluate and do some self-assessment, it is not helpful if that self-assessment is not honest but instead is always judgmental. It is important to be honest with ourselves, but gentle and nonjudgmental too. Also staying up late sets me up for a tired and generally more stressful day the next day because of the lack of sleep. Another advantage of rising early is that I spend that quiet time being quiet, which is so good for my soul. Late night is typically spent watching tv or a movie (and feeling bad about myself). But in the quiet of the early morning, I do not watch tv. I usually sit outside on my patio and listen to the birds while I read, write or just breathe. But in order to have the quiet, early mornings, I need to start going to bed earlier so that I can get enough sleep too because sleep plays an important role in our mental and emotional health. It is going to take some getting used to and some resetting of my internal clock probably but I think that it is time to say "good night" to being a night owl and "good morning" to being an early bird!

Scattered Focus

I'm feeling a little stuck right now. I see several paths laid out before me and I do not know which way to go. Also contributing to my feelings of being stuck is the fact that I have too many balls in the air. Everything that I am juggling I enjoy doing. But it is not possible to juggle all these things and do them well. And I believe that "anything worth doing is worth doing well." Currently I am trying to do everything and I feel like I am doing less than my best because my efforts are spread so thin. In fact, I actually feel like I am spinning my wheels instead of making progress with anything that I am working on. But I am afraid to let anything go. Everything that I am juggling is important to me so I have hung on to all of them, trying to make it all work. It is time to face reality. I am in a state of inertia because I have taken on more things than I have time or energy for and I do not want to let any of them go. But I am growing tired of this feeling of inertia. It is time to take a good hard look at reality, at my hopes and dreams, at my abilities, at what I want out of life, and it is time to make the hard decisions and pick a path.

The Pieces are Coming Together

Something is happening. I have been talking with a therapist for almost 3 months and in those 3 months, I have done a lot of thinking and a lot of work too. And suddenly it seems like the pieces are beginning to come together. I am feeling hopefully again. I have realize that my struggles don't discredit me. It isn't either/or; it can be both. I can battle disordered eating and still be knowledgable about health, nutrition and wellness. My struggles do not discredit my knowledge. And having realized that, I am beginning to feel like I have some power again. I can still be a positive influence in other people's lives. I have such a deep desire to help people be healthy, particularly through their eating. But because of my own disordered eating, I felt like I had lost my voice, like I was a hypocrite to guide others to eat healthy when I struggle with eating. I have been working at changing the way I think about food and I am starting to catch my distorted thinking more often. And every time that I catch a distorted thought and replace it with a fact, the power of the disorder lessens and my own power grows.

I feel my confidence starting to come back too. I hadn't realized how insecure I had become. I now realize that I have lost a lot of confidence. That makes sense because how can I feel secure about myself and confident when I am consumed with what others think about what I say or do? I even had an incident last week when someone said something to me that, in the past would have knocked my confidence even more and had me doubting myself. But instead I was able to look at what was said, evaluate it against what I know to be true about myself and come to the conclusion that what the comment was absurd because I knew it was not true. I am beginning to accept what I know about myself to be true and not contingent on what others think about me. And there is power in knowing one's self! Other people's little comments don't have as much of an effect when you know yourself. I want to work on developing this more but how wonderful it will be when I reach the point where I can take what someone says and evaluate it as truth or not. And if their comment is not true about me, then being able to let it go instead of letting it eating at me and tear me down. That will be a wonderful place to be! Definitely a goal worth working toward.

Another thing that is coming together is that I am beginning to think more with my logical mind and not as much with my emotional mind. Ideal, both ways of thinking should work together but I had been thinking so much with my emotional mind that whatever I was feeling, I was equating to be true, even when it was not. Just because "I feel..." something, that does not necessarily make it true. It is so important to know that distinction and I am seeing that now.

I also had another small victory when I was looking at a magazine in a waiting room yesterday. I was flipping through a magazine that was about balancing mind and body when I came across an ad for some kind of weight loss powder. And on the full-page ad was included an unhealthy "eating" plan to follow with this powder to achieve weight-loss. The first week included drinking a certain number of tablespoons of this powder dissolved in liquid and "as much vegetable broth as you want." In the past, I would have continued reading because I read everything I came across about losing weight. Even when I knew what I was reading would lead to no good, I felt like I couldn't stop from reading it. But yesterday when I got through that first line, told myself that was not a healthy way to fuel the body and closed the magazine and picked up another one to read instead. I could have just turned the page and kept looking at the magazine but I felt like the magazine no longer deserved my attention if they would allow an ad like that in their magazine. To them, the ad revenue was more important than their readers leading a balanced life, as they claimed they were about. It was an empowering moment. I was taking control of the messages that I was allowing to influence my thinking. And that felt really good.

Yes, something is definitely happening. :)