Quit Being Your Own Worst Enemy

I am my own worst enemy…in so many areas of my life. Learning to overcome self-defeating talk has been a goal for me this year, and I think I have made progress. I still struggle with it in many places, but I am getting there, especially with my eating habits and workouts. How many times have you said something along the lines of “well I ate 2 cookies, might as well eat 2 more.” Or something like “I ruined this meal, might as well ruin dinner too.” Or “I could never do that exercise.” Those are all self defeating statements and all things I have regularly told myself in the past and still find myself stopping some days. Every minute is a new start. So what if you ate 2 cookies? What does eating 2 more do for you? It only makes you feel worse about the first 2. Statements like these make you your own worst enemy.

Lifting Revolution posted this article today: How To Improve Your Fitness Performance: Discovering My Flaws During Sunset. It really hit home with me. Being stronger, better, more kick ass all starts with the decision to do it. It doesn’t start by me telling myself that I can’t or it doesn’t matter. It starts by setting my mind to doing it and making the resolution that I can and I will meet my fitness goals and nothing anyone says can stop me.

I will admit that I get a secret, ok a not-so-secret, joy out of seeing facebook pictures of certain “pretty” people who knew me when I was fat that now are reaching a less than ideal weight themselves. I was so self conscious about my size for so many years that seeing myself as a thin person now is hard in a lot of ways. I still have the vision of myself as a big girl…just now I’m a big girl in size 6 jeans.  This is another self defeating thought. I have to realize that I really am 2/3 of the person I use to be. I am getting there. Every time I get something out of my closet that falls off my hips or shoulders, I realize that I am not the person I was even just last summer. I am thinner. I am stronger. I am better than I was. I am figuring out that I don’t need anyone else to cheer me on or hold my hand. I can be my own biggest supporter instead of my own worst enemy.

So, It’s Salad For You, I Guess?

I love my job! But like most clean eaters, work functions are not catered to my dietary preferences. That’s ok. While I think it would be best for everyone to eliminate processed foods and chemical additives from their diets, I understand that not everyone believes like me, and I’ve said before, I will not be the food police. Today, my job thanked the management  staff with lunch at Golden Corral.

Even before gravitating to a clean eating lifestyle I was not crazy about the GC.  But, what I am crazy about is that my job appreciates me…and appreciates me enough to say thank you for my hard work by buying me lunch. Not to sound too corny, but in today’s times, just having a good job is awesome, and having a good job where the company wants to do nice things for the employees sometimes is really awesome. And I’m not going to let my preferences stop me from being appreciative of this appreciation.

But…I’m also not going to throw my dietary values out of the window either. I was telling my best buddy about the upcoming meal and the response I got was a laugh and “So, It’s salad for you, I guess?”  Pretty much. But wait? The GC has veggies right? Yes, but to be honest, I don’t trust the likelihood of those green beans having not been treated with a preservative before going into a can, and the good looking broccoli was probably seasoned with a special spice blend that I doubt they would be willing to reveal to me. I did have a salad (with oil and vinegar), and fresh fruit. There were likely preservatives on some of the salad items as well (some places will treat lettuce to keep it fresh longer), but that’s the best choices I could make. Sometimes you are going to have to make the best choices you can make.

Remember that idea that this takes some work? Well, I put a little work into this morning and planned for a light lunch. I had a BIG smoothie for breakfast that I knew would keep me fuller. Then I packed this little goody bag up to take with me today.

Homemade Mixed Berry Muffin, Homemade Granola Bar, Trail Mix thrown together at the last second this morning, Clif Crunch Bar. There was a bottle of water too.

I ended up only eating the granola bar and most of the trail mix. I also keep 1 scoop of the Garden of Life Protein Powder in my office for a snack, so I could have mixed that up if I needed to. (Note: The Clif Bar is not at all a clean food. It’s an indulgence that is mostly organic and I got on a killer sale. Clif bars hold a special place in my heart after I lived on them pretty exclusively while dealing with a non-healing ulcer a while back.)

Eating clean doesn’t have to mean the end of eating with other people. It certainly doesn’t have to mean the end of your manners to be thankful for the opportunities to be appreciated like I had today. It does mean a little more planning and a little more carefulness in the execution. A good time was had by all and I was once again reminded that I am making the right choice to live a healthy lifestyle and eat clean. Once again, it’s all in the positive attitude.

I’m proud that I didn’t let this throw me off track. In the past, something like this would have been a temptation on a diet, too much opportunity to “cheat.” That’s how I know I really have changed my lifestyle. I can go and enjoy an event with other people, at a buffet, and not feel pressured to eat foods I shouldn’t. This isn’t a diet. It’s a life. My life. And I am finally in control of it.


Why is Talking About Food So Offensive?

Since I’ve changed my eating habits, I’ve noticed that people are really defensive about the way they eat. I mean, really defensive, like “I love God, and America, and Doritos!” kind of defensive. Now, I am not by any means a member of the food police. You can eat what you want. But if you comment on MY food, or ask about how I lost weight, then you have opened the door for me to tell you about MY dietary choices.

I saw someone the other day I haven’t seen in some time and the first thing she said was to ask me about how I lost so much weight. I told her the truth. I’ve added in a significant amount of weight lifting to my work out, and I stopped eating processed food. I told her that I eat clean, meaning that I eat food with minimal ingredients and no artificial additives. She looked at me like I had told her I had gone to the moon and back. Suddenly there was this awkward pause and she mumbled something about how that was “good for some people, I guess” and suddenly had to go. Oooook? What did I say wrong?

Food is so ingrained in our culture. It is a part of every celebration and every gathering. Every holiday has it’s own menu, even the Superbowl. When you start questioning something so personal to people as the way in which we connect to others, people don’t know how to react. Be prepared for some strange responses when you tell people you are eating clean and you explain what that really means. Not everyone is going to be supportive of this decision. Not everyone is going to understand your desire to go against the grain of American culture of consumerism that says ‘more is more’ and gluttony is good. Be prepared for some people to now consider you uppity or too big for your britches as my momma might say. The attitude may be that of “so the food you’ve been eating your whole life suddenly isn’t good enough for you?” or “you’re too good to eat the same food I do.” I’m not sure why it is so hard for others to understand that it’s not like that at all. We are all good enough to eat good food! We should all respect our bodies enough to treat them as the temples they are and feed them the best there is in terms of nutrition.

I had a business breakfast recently. I was really apprehensive about how this was going to go. I had scouted the restaurant’s website ahead of time and knew my choices were limited and I would be asking a ton of questions once I got there. However, it was a business function, and I didn’t want to come off as a total a-hole with the upper management of my company (including the CEO). Do I throw my nutritional values out the window for the sake of saving face with a company meal? Do I order black coffee only? Do I attempt to order eggs and start the round of questions to the waitress (beginning with: are they even real eggs?) I could deal with conventional eggs for the sake of this meeting…if they are actually eggs…and if they are fried in butter and not oil…and if there is nothing else on them…and I have no other side items. No other real options stood out at me from the menu online. It turned out to not be as big a deal as I was worried about, and the waitress completely understood when I asked if they were real eggs, even joking that she wouldn’t eat a “cardboard chicken” either. Whew. I did get a round of strange looks from my table mates when I started asking about what the eggs were cooked with. I just smiled and said thank you when my order was done like it was no big deal. I think learning to deal with meals and comments from others with grace will serve me well. All my apprehension was in vain. There was absolutely no commenting on how little I ate (I had had a light breakfast before I left home just in case I found the menu sparse), and there was only minimal kidding me about my pickiness in ordering.

When you make a lifestyle change like clean eating it will effect more than you realize. Food is on center stage in so many places in our culture. It is completely up to you how you handle those discussions with others in your life, but be warned that they will happen, and they may not go the way you think. On one hand, you never know who you will offend, but on the other, you never know who you might influence for the better. Keep a positive attitude about it all. Since we are talking clean eating, I’ll quote the old adage that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar 😉

Learning Not to Be Fat

This whole process of becoming a healthier me is just that…a process. There is such a learning curve to it. You would think that after loosing 60 pounds before my wedding in 2004 I would understand the concepts necessary to loose weight and maintain that. But in reality, it’s not that simple. How many of us have been there, done that only to find ourselves back where we started eventually? It makes it very frustrating. Why should I even bother to try if I’m just going to gain it all back eventually? Then there are the self defeating arguments we all tell ourselves: I’ve been overweight my whole life, I can’t change now/ I have big bones/ It’s in my genes to be overweight/ It’s too hard to cook differently for me then for the rest of my family/ I work too much to eat healthy and so on and so on.

The first step in the process was to accept myself for who I am but to also hold myself accountable for my own actions.  I had to accept that what happens to me is my own doing. I am not a victim of circumstance, and I do not have to be a victim of anything at all…including my own negative thinking. And I had a lot of negative thinking…about my body…about my habits…about my life path…about my relationships with others…about my job…about God…about life. I had to let that go. I can’t even begin to describe how much lighter I feel having gotten rid of emotional baggage that wasn’t really real to start with. I am not an alcoholic (although I will confess that one thing I needed to learn to hold myself accountable for was the amount of drinking I was doing at one point in time), but I think there is a lot of wisdom in The 12 Step Program. that can be used by anyone who feels they need to examine the direction their life is headed. There is a spiritual (but not necessarily religious) basis to the 12 steps and that is also part of my process; getting reacquainted with my spiritual self.

When one’s self esteem begins to improve, it is only natural that self care improves as well. The next big step for me was Education. It all started with a chance encounter with the 100 Days of Real Food Blog. Its a simple concept. Learn what’s in your food. I had already gotten with the program that artificial sweeteners were bad (*gasp* no more Diet Coke!) and was working on the idea of eating food with ingredients I could pronounce, but the 100 Day Challenge takes that a little further. I will not say that I eat “all real food all the time” but this one website really challenged the way I thought about food. 

Here I was thinking I was eating healthy with my Diet Coke and 100 calorie snacks and grain bread. I did Weight Watchers for years (it’s an awesome program-if you do it right- that I stand behind 2000%) so I know all about portion sizes and carbs and and drinking water and all that jazz. But the more I began to educate myself on what I was really eating, the more horrified I became at the chemicals I was ingesting. There was yellow dye in my pickles! Pickles shouldn’t need to be dyed, they are already green! There was sugar in my wheat bread! Bread shouldn’t need sugar. Slowly but surely I have been removing the processed food from my life. It’s not always the easier choice and it’s not always the cheaper choice, but it is the common sense choice to me. Would I rather have a frozen waffle with cheap “syrup” for breakfast that is made from flour that contains so few nutrients they add a couple back in to call it “enriched” and HFCS with a chemical that mimics maple flavor or would I rather have a fruit smoothie made with yogurt/soy milk/berries/banana/fresh spinach? You tell me. There are 30 ingredients in an Eggo Nutrigrain Waffle and Mrs. Butterworths Syrup. My smoothie has 5. The Nutrigrain waffle is advertised as “whole wheat” but if you read the label you will see that enriched flour is the primary ingredient (behind water). The excuses as to why anyone can’t do this have to go. It’s not that hard. I’m as far from a cook as anyone can possibly be, but I’m getting by. What’s the secret here? There isn’t one. Use your common sense and use the brain God gave you. If you buy things in packages, turn them over and read the ingredient list. Meat should contain 1 ingredient: animal flesh. Not animal flesh followed by 7 other chemicals to keep it fresh. Common sense, right? Frozen/canned/jarred fruit should contain 1 ingredient: fruit. Not fruit followed by sugar and more sugar. Fruit is sweet enough. Make your health a priority and let a little convenience go. It will mean the end of McDonald’s runs on the way home from work, but who wants to eat food that still looks the same when left out for a year. Just google McDonald’s left out for a year and check out the images to see what I mean. It just might slow your love of the Big Mac.

I have a lot to say on the clean eating topic and came across an awesome article today via another food advocate I’ve been enjoying. The Food Babe is semi local to me offers a slightly different approach to an unprocessed lifestyle. I will comment on the article she shared today in another post. I have to say, I don’t always agree with the Food Babe, but this article is a must read and I enjoy all of her perspectives, her’s and those she shares from others.

I challenge you to take a hard look at your pantry and fridge. Life doesn’t end when the Oreos run out. Trust me.

Start From the Beginning?

I suppose the best place to start anything is at the beginning, but for me to do that here would mean I know where the beginning is or even what I intend to accomplish. This last (almost) year has brought quite an upheaval to my life. It was completely by my choosing, and I still believe it is for the best, but for someone who struggles with change, boy did I dive head first into the deep end. For the sake of brevity, my 6+ year marriage came to end last summer and will be officially “dissolved” (as the state of North Carolina puts it) this summer. We finally sold our home this spring and I packed up and moved to an apartment in the city I’ve been working in for the last 6 years. Newly single and new apartment in a new city. Although I’ve worked here, and I have been visiting family here since I was a child, I really know very little about this town.

All that aside, I am changing personally as I venture to say most people do during a life transition such as this. I’ve regained perspective that I lost somewhere along the way that the world is a good place. The universe doesn’t hate me and neither does God or my family. I am a good person. Somehow I forgot that. 

I’ve lost almost 40 pounds since my separation. I never intended to loose anything. It’s just sort of happened as a by product of caring about myself. I will be upfront and say that I was put on migraine medication that has a known side effect of apetite loss, which I did feel at first, but regained. In the past 2 months, I’ve changed my eating habits even further. Clean Eating is the way to go. Eliminate or reduce to near as close to nothing as possible the processed foods in your life. You will be amazed at how different you feel. My workouts have gotten more weight focused, and less cardio driven. I’m seeing muscles I didn’t know I had for the first time in my life. 

I’m not sure what I intend to accomplish with this blog. I’m not sure anyone will read it. That’s ok too. This is not a divorce rant blog. Frankly, I have nothing to rant about. This is not a “poor me” blog. I’m not promising to never mention my personal life, but I am promising that this blog is about positivity.  Mostly I see this as a way to discuss my current obsession: health and fitness. I know my family and friends are tired of hearing about what I eat or the new exercise I tried today. As all things in my life, this is a work in progress. For now, thanks, and welcome.Image