Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 6

IMG_3664I am going to admit something. Although the RISE program was created to help us create our own morning rituals, I have not been doing the RISE practices first thing in the morning. Nor have I been waking up earlier to have that quiet practice before the start of the day. As I said a couple of days ago, it is easier for me to dive into my practice once I get the kids off to school. This is for a variety of reasons. For starters, Daylight Savings time ended here in Pennsylvania in the US on Sunday. Which means that my little buddy is now waking up extra early and if I want to wake before the rest of the family, I am going to have to go to sleep when the kids do! Well, maybe not quite, but you know what I mean. Clearly, Daylight Savings time was NOT created by a parent.

Another reason? I am still recovering from my time working night shift! I think it took about 5 days of being off night shift once I went on medical leave until I finally felt rested. Night shift is not easy, folks! I absolutely LOVE my night shift crew at the hospital but my days, or nights rather, on that shift are limited.

I do want to create a rising ritual though. So next week I will be working on crafting my ritual. This week my focus remains on getting rested and reestablishing my regular yoga practice. Don't be afraid to change things up and move into things at your own pace. There are no rules in the FWFG community.

RISE Day 6

This one got the heat going! I was ready to rest in Child's pose by the end. Whew! It is an invigorating start to the day for sure! I noticed some progress during this practice, which was quite exciting.

As I took a moment to get to quiet my mind before getting started, Gracie joined me on the mat. :)

IMG_3666 I really liked this revolving seating movement. It feels like it gets every little kink out of the spine.

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Raising up tall on the knees and then lean back slowly was part of the practice that really engaged the core.

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I felt like my side body stretch went easier today. Six days of practicing every day and I feel like my body is really starting to respond.

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I love, love, LOVE the warrior poses!! Looking forward to getting to all of them in the Foundation videos later this month. I felt that this Gentle Warrior flowed rather nicely today.

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After spending some time in Pigeon pose, we moved on to some deeper stretching. It was not that long ago that all I could do was grab my foot in this position. Today I was excited to see that I could not only hook my foot with my elbow but I could also hook my fingertips together. Yes, it was only literally my fingertips, but this is the first time I have gotten this far into this pose and I was so excited about it!!

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RISE Day 6 got me to sweating and it was so energizing too. I love that we are ending these RISE videos in Sukhasana, the Easy Pose. Most of Adriene's videos we end in Savasana, or the Corpse Pose, resting flat on our backs. But in the RISE program we have been ending in Sukhasana each day. I like ending a morning practice in this way. It gives me a chance to be still a moment and reaffirm my intention for the day; and by sitting up in Easy Pose, I feel ready at the end to RISE and greet the day!

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Foundations of Yoga Day 6

The foundations of yoga for today were "Mountain Pose" or Tadasana and "Standing Forward Fold" or Uttanasana. Two key foundation poses used very often in yoga practice. I discovered that spending more than 10 minutes working on solely the Mountain Pose is a great strengthening exercise for the legs!

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After finding my proper alignment and positioning in Mountain Pose, it was time to move on to Standing Forward Fold, which also starts in Mountain Pose. Lots of leg engagement with today's foundation videos.

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But first a visit from Black Cat before I move into Uttanasana. :)

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Now onto the Forward Fold.

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And just to see how far I can fold, I challenged myself a little further.

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I'm getting there. I can see in all my Standing Forward Fold pictures the tightness in my upper back caused by the knots in my shoulder muscles. I am hoping that as the knots let up and the tightness releases that the roundness of my upper back straightens out again. Like I said before, it's a journey.

Bring on 2014!!

I love the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. I enjoy looking back over the previous year and looking ahead to the coming one. And this year I am really excited about the coming year!

A Look Back

2013 was a year of continued growth for me. I started on a journey to deal with my food issues and all the issues that went along with them back in April 2012. But it wasn't until this year that I really started to see the fruits of my labors. It finally all started coming together for me this year and I credit that to the intentions that I set for myself for the year and to the continued effort that I put into it. There were times this year when it would have been easier to slip back into comfortable, old habits. But I knew where those habits would lead and I didn't want to be trapped again. And there were occasions that I did repeat old patterns; but once I realized what I was doing, I noticed my actions without judgement and then chose new actions that were in line with my intentions for the year.

I blogged about my the intentions that I set for 2013 a year ago. Here they are from that blog post:

My Intentions for 2013

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  • Manage my time well, utilizing my schedule to do so.
  • Strive for balance in my life. Balancing my roles as a wife, mother, student, home manager, self, and dreamer as much as possible. Following my morning routine will help me stay balanced.
  • Grow my creativity by writing and taking photos more.

I was by no means perfect this year. And that's okay; perfection wasn't what I was working toward. I set these intentions with the desire to add to my life, to increase my enjoyment of life. There were times during the year that I strayed from these intentions. But they were always there, waiting to guide me back onto the path of the life I wanted. I spent 2012 being controlled by food and my weight. All I wanted for 2013 was to learn to enjoy life again. And I am so grateful that I realize that goal this year. Not only did I learn to enjoy life again, but I fell back in love with life! And that is worth every ounce of effort that it took to get to that point. I am so grateful that I am ending the year stronger than I started.

How Yoga Influenced My Life

Another thing that I credit my renewed positive view of my life to, is yoga. If you have been following me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest then you know that I started exercising 5-6 days a week on October 24, 2013. I decided to make that consistent effort to exercise and release stress to see if I could deal with some physical problems that I had been having for a while without having to take medication. There is nothing wrong with taking medication when it is needed, but I knew that I hadn't given exercise and stress management a consistent try. So before I went on the medication, I decided to really try to manage my conditions with consistent exercise and stress management. I was scheduled to follow-up with my doctor on January 2nd so I committed to exercising 5-6 days a week until I went back to see him. At the time, I couldn't decide if I wanted to take the med, but I was so tired of how I was feeling. So I decided to give regular exercise a try and if I didn't see any results then when I saw my doctor in January I could decide to go on the medication.

I am so happy that I tried because I have gotten so much relief from my ailments, even other people can tell by the way I move now that my body is healing. I have noticed that after a high stress event, some of my symptoms start to reappear again. But to combat that, I have increased my relaxation focused activities, amount of sleep and gentle exercise around times of stress, and that has helped to improve and shorten the duration of my symptoms.

When I started exercising in October, my goal was to log onto YouTube each morning and exercise with whichever video caught my attention for that day. I had subscribed to a bunch of reputable fitness channels so I knew that I could make a choice without injuring myself. My goal was to keep exercise fun by being varied and spontaneous about what I chose each day. I posted the videos with a review to share with everyone that followed my blog on the social media sites. And for the first few weeks I did pretty good, but then I rediscovered yoga. :) And now I'm afraid that I haven't been as varied in my workouts anymore. So, my apologizes to everyone that liked getting the varied recommendations from me because I know that lately they have all been yoga, with occasionally some Pilates. :D But I can seem to bring to make myself do anything else!

The truth is that I have gained so much from doing yoga regularly, more than only physical fitness. While I have strengthened my body, I have also strengthened my mind and brought calmness and peace to my life. I am so much better at dealing with stress now, and happier too. Honestly, I enjoy yoga so much now that I secretly wish that I could live in my yoga clothes and teach yoga. Here I am on the verge of graduating from nursing school (finally!) and all I want to do is practice yoga and share yoga with others so they can have their own transformations too. It will be interesting to see where my path ends up going! I have finally learned that I don't have to have everything in my life figured out and planned out. Instead, I am focused on taking life one step at a time; enjoying each step, making decisions as they appear and trusting that I am on the path that I am meant to be. This has given me freedom that I have never felt before.

The Future

Looking ahead to 2014, there are some exciting things on the horizon. I will be graduating from nursing school in May 2014! After many years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication from all my family and with the support of extended family, we are finally on the verge of completing this goal for our family. I have no idea what area of nursing I want to work it and that's okay. I will figure that out and end up where I am meant to be, even if it takes a while to figure it out. One day I will know where my place is.

I am also really excited to continue to grow my yoga practice. About 3 weeks ago I discovered Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Something about her style and personality really clicked with me and I love practicing with her videos. She is launching Reboot, a 29 day yoga experience on January 2nd. I decided to join the program and I am really excited to see where my yoga practice is by the end of January. I'm looking forward to a month to grow and deepen my practice.

I am also excited to continue writing. I want to blog more and spend more time writing. I started writing a children's book series and so far I have 2 books in the series. It is a lot of fun to lose myself in this imaginary world and write these stories. My children love the stories and want me to write more. They also wish that the stories had pictures. My son asked me if the stories could have pictures "by the end of 2014". I told him that I didn't know but was a good goal. I would love to be able to turn these stories into books with beautiful pictures that my children and other children could enjoy. We'll see... :)

I don't have my intentions set yet for the coming year because my husband had off this year after Christmas and we were enjoying a lot of relaxed family time. But I will share them with you soon. As this year draws to a close, I am grateful for all the blessings of this year and for all the lessons learned.

Onward to 2014!!

Think Small

This week a familiar struggle raised its ugly head again. I had a lot going on the last few weeks and the pressure has been mounting. I think that I could have taken it all in stride had it not been for one area. And that area is school. I am nearing the end of my second to last semester of nursing school. Yup, next May I will graduate and be eligible to sit for my boards. Woo-hoo, right?! Except that I am doubting how much I have learned. I am filled with doubts- I feel like I could have learned more, studied more, did more, did better, studied better, learned better...and to make matters worse, I still don't know what field I want to work in when I graduate. I'm feeling uninspired. I feel like I am rapidly approaching the end and yet I don't know what the next step is. That is definitely anxiety-inducing alone, but then when I add to it my doubts and self-critical thoughts, it becomes overwhelming. And when I get too overwhelmed, I grasp for control wherever I can reach it, which for me is food. It makes me feel so much better when I control and limit my food. But I know that is a lie; I have learned that it only makes me feel better for a little while and the consequences and price for doing so is very heavy.

I have put in a lot of hard work in the last year and a half to deal with my food control issues. I am not willing to give up the ground that I have gained for some temporary stress relief! I know how this works and the tricks of this insidious little voice. So I know that when I feel like this I can't trust how I feel about what I ate, how I feel about my body or even how I see my body. I know from experience that I cannot trust my thoughts and feelings or even my sight when this controlling and perfectionist voice is speaking loudly. I hear this voice getting louder and louder this week and I start to despair. I start to feel like I am not going to be able to fight it off, like all my hard work will have been for nothing, I even start to think "maybe just for a few days, just until I feel calmer."

But then I STOP! I remember something that my therapist told me. This voice is sneaky and I can't control when it sneaks in, but I can chose how I am going to react to it. I remember that I should be gentle with myself and not beat myself up for having those thoughts. Instead, I should recognize that those thoughts are there, acknowledge how I am feeling, and then decide how I want to act. A big part of the struggle is all-or-nothing thinking. And that comes into play when I get down on myself for having these thoughts. In the all-or-nothing mentality, I think "I can't believe that I am feeling this way again. All my hard work as been for nothing. I'm failing because I'm having these thought." But all-or-nothing thinking is rarely an accurate view. When I chose to reject the all-or-nothing mentality, then I think "There are those thoughts again. I know where they led. That is not what I want. I am choosing to to not listen. I know that having those thoughts does not make me a failure and neither does slipping up and repeating old habits. The moment that I become aware of these thoughts or negative actions, I can make a different choice."

Our emotions and feelings respond quicker than our cognitive thoughts. That quick response is actually what keeps us safe and alive. When you pick up something hot, you don't take the time to think about it being hot and what you should do about it. No, you feel pain and react. The same is with how we respond to emotional stressors. Sometimes our feelings are the quickest at driving our actions. But then when our cognitive thoughts have a chance to catch up and assess the situation, we can look at our reaction and decide if we want to continue that action or chose a different one.

I caught myself judging myself for how I was feeling. When I realized what I was doing, I stopped and decided to chose how I wanted to react. That was when I realized that I need to think small for a while until the voice is quieted again. I decided to spend less time thinking ahead and thinking back; and spend more time thinking about now, this day, this moment. I also took action. The groceries were getting low in the house and there weren't a lot of food options. That makes it way too easy to just skip. So I went to the store and restocked our groceries, consciously getting healthy foods that would easy to grab and eat. No more excuses to not eat!

I took action a day ago and it has already made a big difference. I feel proud of myself for recognizing what I was feeling and for taking steps to stop it and not give in. It would have been so much easier to just give in, but I know that is not what I want for myself or my family. And in the long run, that "easier" choice would have led me back down a very hard road.

So today, I continue to think small. I will make my realistic to do list for today. I will eat when my kids eat so that I don't have a chance to skip. I will think about what I want to accomplish with the this day, the day that I have been given, and will have faith that the future will be revealed when I get to it.

What are Your Daily Mantras?

What is it that you are saying to yourself everyday? Are you saying things that are uplifting? Or saying things that you wouldn't say even to someone who you didn't like? Sometimes we are aware of the messages that we are giving ourselves, but other times we are not. The messages of our self-talk can become so ingrained that we often do it without thinking about what we are even saying to ourselves. And yet, what we say to ourselves is extremely powerful. Oftentimes we are tearing ourselves down, belittling ourselves for our perceived shortcomings. The biggest problem with negative self-talk is that regardless of how unfounded our message is, we will begin to believe it if we repeat that message enough times. And once we believe the lies, it is very hard to tell ourselves otherwise. If you are telling yourself over and over that you are not good enough, you will start to believe it. Then you will start to act on that belief. Once a belief has taken root, it will take continuous, consistent effort to undo it. This is why it is so important to guard our thoughts and when we become aware of untruths that we are telling ourselves, we need to confront those lies with truth. My Own Negative Mantra

Recently, I had to confront some lies that I was telling myself. I had been doing so good at staying positive lately. So when these untruths came into my mind, I was surprised by how strong and overwhelming they were. I think what made them even more pervasive is that they played over and over in my mind in a three adjective chant or mantra. This is especially detrimental to me because negative thoughts about how I think I look add fuel to my ED fire. I know that how I think and the things that I say to myself are so crucial to my recovery. And yet, I found myself struggling to stop this negative mantra. I could feel these words beating me down but I could not seem to stop them. Once they had taken root in my mind, they were not going away. It was like someone hit the "repeat" button in my head because as much as I tried not to, this chant kept playing in my mind.

A Positive Mantra

The next day, I woke to find that this mantra was still with me. I had hoped that sleep would make it go away. But how could it when it was my last thought before falling asleep? When I awoke to the same three negative adjectives running through my head, I decided to push ahead with my morning routine and start out the day exercising, even though that was the last thing that I wanted to do at that moment. While I was exercising, the thought occurred to me that since I could not block out this three word mantra, maybe I could replace it with a three positive words. So I asked myself, what did I want for myself and how did I want to feel about my body? The words quickly came to me and I knew that I wanted to be "fit, strong, happy". So as I exercised, I repeat this new positive mantra over and over to myself. Then all throughout the remainder of the day and the next day, whenever the negative mantra would play, I would answer it with my positive mantra. And gradually the positive words began to crowd out the negative ones.

Making a Choice

I may have not been able to stop the negative words from surfacing in my mind, but I could choose if I was going to let those negative thoughts control me or if I was going to control them. And for the first day, they did control me and I felt miserable as a result. How can you feel happy, content, and confident when you are saying such awful things about yourself to yourself? But when I decided to fight back against the negative, the peace and calm came back into my life.

What is Your Mantra?

So ask yourself, "what is my mantra?" Decided what you want for yourself or what you want to feel about yourself and set your intention on that. Make that your daily mantra and crowd out the negative self-talk and lies.

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!

Thirty-two is Going to be a Great Year!

Yesterday I found myself reflect on the year leading up to my 32nd birthday. The last year was a really hard one for me, but I am so grateful for it because I have learned so much about myself. I feel hopeful going into this new year. I really feel like 32 is going to be an amazing year! Dealing with the physical and mental ramifications of having a hysterectomy last April and losing all my natural hormones at age thirty was harder to come to terms with than I expected. I felt like it was the right choice when I did it and I still feel that way, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was an adjustment. I suddenly found myself feeling at least 20 years older and feeling a little let down by my body. I think that everything that I was struggling to deal with regarding this major physical adjustment is part of what lead to me lose control of the food and eating issues that I have dealt with off and on for the last 15 years or so. I was always able to “get away” with my food issues because I was able to keep myself from going too far. But the last several years had gotten harder and harder and the emotional burden was getting heavier and heavier. I think that this last year with the emotional adjustment from the surgery and the stress of being a nursing student on top of trying to be a good mother and wife and trying to do it all perfectly, finally led to me losing control of this dangerous “game” that I was playing with eating. I had gotten close to losing that control several other times but this was the first time that it took over my life. Being able to restrict my eating and to not eat at all became my coping mechanism. It brought me such calmness when it felt like everything else was just spinning around me out of control. But the calmness that it brought me had it’s price. It took over my mind; it became all that I could think about. It became hard to think about anything else when my mind was filled with constant judgmental thoughts about myself and food. I know that it was difficult for those around me that knew what was going on to see me doing what I was doing. And I am so sorry for that.

But the good news is that I was able to recognize that what I was doing was dangerous for myself and as an example to my children. I am so thankful that I had the courage to choose to get help. I have been talking with a therapist that specializes in eating disorders for the past 4 months. It has been hard work. These last four months have not been easy at all. But it is so worth all the effort. I have learned so much about myself and about how to deal with things in a healthy way. I have made a lot of progress in the last four months and I am excited about that and where I am going. Two months ago, I felt like I had lost the ability to be a positive example and to be able to make a positive impact on the world. I felt like the dreams that I had for my future were hypocritical, how could I help others be healthy when I was making this unhealthy choice? But now I feel like I have learned so much that I am now in the position to have even more impact. One of my patient’s Monday night really opened up to me while I was doing his assessment and when I was leaving the room, I thanked him for allowing me to assess him and he said to me, “No, thank you! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I didn’t realize how much I needed to talk. That really made my day. Thank you.” That made MY day. Because I have been working on my issues, I was able to be fully present in the moment and because of that, I was able to have a positive, emotional impact on someone else. Today I am so thankful for my struggles, because out of them, I have learned so many valuable things that I believe are going to help me live a more positive, rewarding, and joyful life. I know that I will always have this struggle with food, but now I know that it is not really about the food. And now I know how to answer the voice of “Ed” and how to answer those thoughts with truths.

I am happy again. I did not realize how unhappy I was before, but being on the other side, I can see how unhappy I was inside and I am so thankful to be this happy again. The other thing that has come together for me and is contributing to my happiness is that I recently was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Now to most people that wouldn’t necessarily be a happy thing but for me it is because since going gluten-free 14 days ago, my stomach aches, my headaches, and my joint pain has gone almost completely away. I was dealing with stomach pain almost every day, headaches 5-6 days a week that were so bad that it hurt to think, and hip joint pain that hurt me to walk, stand, sit or sleep. Now my stomach doesn’t hurt, my head only aches when I get hungry, and my hips only ache a little from time to time. But my doctor is trying to tweak my hormones now too so hopefully that will be the last little piece to the puzzle of putting me back to 100%. I already feel so much younger and energetic again.

When you are struggling or going through a hard time, all that you want is for it to go away. But it is in the hard times that there is the greatest potential to learn valuable lessons. I am grateful for my struggles because of the lessons that I have learned and am continuing to learn. I feel like now I have more potential to be a positive impact on the world. The difficulty of last year has come together to set me on a really good path. This is why I believe that 32 is going to be a GREAT year!!

Get Up and Keep Going

After my last post, things went south really fast. I wasn't sure at the time why, but the week leading up to the July 4th holiday was a really rough week for me. It was hard to make myself eat and I was so frustrated that I didn't know why I was struggling again so much. A couple of days into that rough patch I remembered what my therapist had said about how our minds are complex things and we cannot always understand why we do every thing that we do. That reminder helped me to stop focusing so much energy on feeling frustrated with myself because I was struggling so much again. Then I was able to shift my focus to remind myself of the progress that I have made and remind myself that I did not want to undo all the hard work that I put in up to this point. That really helped me get through the week. I started focusing on just one step at a time again. I think that when things are going well we are able to focus on the big and small things and handle it all well. But when things are rough, it is best to go back to focusing on the little things until we push through. Otherwise when the small things are out of balance, the big things can overwhelm us. So that is what I did. I focused on each step in front of me. I tried to make healthy choices for myself and if I had a mealtime that I didn't do so well, I put that behind me and focused on making a better choice the next time a meal time rolled around. I remembered H.A.L.T. too and reminded myself to not let myself get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. I chose to eat healthy snacks whenever I felt hunger, let things roll off my back instead of getting angry, spend time with my husband in the evening instead of studying and go to bed earlier at night. That all really helped me to not lose my progress while I was struggling. Sure, I did take a few steps back but I also continued to take steps forward. The rough week came to an end for me on July 4th when I turned down time with extended family (with homemade ice cream!!!! my favorite, I might add, :)) so that I could spend a completely free day with my husband and kids doing nothing but relaxing together. It really was exactly what I needed after a hard week. It was very soothing for my soul. That, and a really good cry. Tears are also soothing for the soul, if you can find the time and space alone to do so. Late Monday night for me, the tears were coming whether I wanted them or not; they were a long time coming. It was a relief to breakdown because I had been trying so hard to hold it together. Our bodies know what we need if we would just listen to them. I realize now looking back some of the reasons that I was struggling during that week.  One reason was because I was exhausted. I had been pushing really hard to get my studying done, plus handle everything else that needed my attention each day. I was staying up late at night and not getting enough sleep. And my hip joints were hurting me so much that I wasn't getting a good night's sleep when I was in bed. It was taking me a while to fall asleep and I was waking during the night because of hip pain. Another contributing factor was that I was so tired of having my joints hurt so bad every day, all day. And I was tired of dealing with headaches and my stomach hurting. I was overwhelmed with all of that and I believe that it was what contributed to my struggling that week. Learning from that, I am trying to take time each day for the important things, like sitting and relaxing, spending time with my husband and kids, and writing. I have been also reminding myself more often that everything does not have to be done perfectly. That is an important thing for me to remind myself. When I remember that, it takes a lot of the pressure off of me.

The last five days have been really good for me. Now I can look back at the whole experience as an opportunity to learn some good lessons and keep making forward progress. The most important thing to remember when we struggle and fall is to not give up but to get up again and keep pushing forward.

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. :)