Would I Still Be Me?

I kept putting away an empty box

 

I was helping my son put away his toys the other day, and found myself putting away an empty box, that had once contained a toy, back on the shelf.

 

I caught myself as I set it down.

 

I opened it to make sure it really was empty.

 

Just a box, nothing in it, taking up space on the shelf.

 

No purpose, no contents, no emotional connection and yet, for months – because this wasn’t the first time I’d put it back- I had been leaving space for it, and replacing it on a shelf, in an already too-full toy room, in a place that definitely could have been used for something else. Something he actually uses, enjoys or even needs.

 

He clearly didn’t need it. I folded it up and threw it in the garage for recycling pick up.

 

And it got me thinking.

 

No – It didn’t just get me thinking, it was an epiphany.

 

 

What other “empty boxes” do I keep, not in my house, but in my mind?

 

What “empty boxes” are filling up space that could be better used?

 

I thought about it and realized my mind is actually FULL of them. I mean I’ve got a collection of “empty boxes”.

 

I am keeping shelves full of unnecessary feelings and thoughts about myself and my life, that serve no purpose, but I’m so used to keeping them there, to the place they hold, to the familiarity of them, that I’m actually afraid to let them go. Will I recognize myself if I were to change all of those things. Would I still be me?

 

But most of my “empty boxes” are negative things. Negative and often hurtful feelings and thoughts about my body, my worth, my abilities. If I were to get rid of all of them, and replace them with positivity, could I possibly be a better me?

 

We hold onto negative, unnecessary thoughts, feelings, experiences so tightly. We make room for them in our minds. We bring them up, use them as fuel to our fire, excuses and validation.

 

But are those thoughts & feelings serving us, or hurting us?

 

Chances are, if you look inside those “boxes”, there is nothing helpful within. Even more likely, there’s nothing inside.

 

Are we just comfortable with the arrangement? They clearly aren’t serving us, so why are they still there? Why do we keep them?

 

We have become so used to our negative thoughts that they actually feel comfortable. Even the way they make us feel is familiar. It’s not good, but it’s familiar.

 

We are so comfortable and familiar with our empty boxes and their presence that we don’t see them, or the effect they have on our lives.

 

This may sound a little out there, maybe too abstract, so here’s an example from my own life.

 

One of my empty boxes was my attachment to my weight. I have this memory of being a young teenager and deciding that a certain # on the scale would mean that I was skinny, and therefore attractive. I weighed more than that at the time, I weigh more than that now, and aside from being extremely ill or extreme dieting I have never been that weight. So needless to say I have never been that weight and happy. The weight didn’t translate to happiness, and I knew it! But I still kept that idea in my head. I had to consciously accept the thought, note it’s wrongness, and dismiss it. I had to admit to its existence, and then I could see that it was untrue, and completely unhelpful!

What happened after that was really incredible.

 

I had cleared that big heavy (but empty) box out of my mind. And I could see myself more clearly because of it. My worth and value no longer correlated to the number on the scale. I am good regardless of the number, in fact I no longer know the number, because it doesn’t matter. I can see the good things about my body and my self without even considering what my weight is.

 

Are you keeping a spot in our mind for an empty box? For multiple empty boxes? Chances are that they serve no purpose, but they’ve been there so long its just habit at this point, to use them to fill up the space in our minds.

 

 

Is it because we wouldn’t recognize our own minds our own selves, without them? Have we allowed our “empty boxes” to hang around so long that they have become part of our identity?

 

 

This is a scary thought.

 

But it’s not irreversible.

 

And you will still be you, without the empty boxes. In fact you’ll be a more free, confident and happy you.

 

Imagine who we could be, and the things we could do, if all of our insecurities were gone.

 

That is who we are without our empty boxes.

 

It won’t happen over night.

 

It will take time, some of them are new and we can identify them easily, others have been there so long it will take some clearing before we can even see them, let alone recognize them for what they are.

 

So start today. Let go of the thoughts you don’t need. Let yourself be you without the negativity.

 

Let’s make room in our minds and our lives for happiness, new skills, confidence, strength, accomplishment, all the things that create Self Love.

 

I want my kids to know the fun loving, silly, carefree me. And I can’t be that if I’m worried about whether my belly jiggles, if my dance moves aren’t cool, or whether I have the right kind of butt for this year’s trends.

 

This will take time, and effort. We are totally overhauling our mindset.

 

It will be worth it.

 

  • Search your mind for an “empty box”
  • Look inside, understand what meaning it has
  • Decide if it’s hurting or helping
  • If it’s hurting, or not helping, let it go
  • Fill that space with something positive (memories with your family, something you LOVE about yourself)
  • Repeat until it’s all good

 

This will be a life long practice, because we are constantly affected by our daily experiences and interactions. But as you continue to practice this elimination of negativity from your life, you will get better and better at it. You will learn to discern what’s worth keeping, or even worth noting.

 

Eventually negativity will fly right by you. You will get so good at recognizing unnecessary thoughts and feelings that you will see them coming.

I’m not there yet, I’m still working on it. I will be working on it forever. I am okay with that.

 

Being conscious of this habit is a great start.

 

Wanting to change it is a great next step.

 

Taking action in the best way I know possible means I’m not going to live under the rule of my fears but instead face them head on and grow as a person, and as a mother.

 

I really hope you come on this journey, too. We will grow and learn and expand our minds, once there is space to do so.

 

It’s time for spring cleaning.

 

Bye bye Empty Boxes, no room for you here.

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Stop Doing Shit You Hate

 

 

Stop doing things that don’t feel good.

 

Seriously.

 

Stop.

 

It’s hard. I know. I’ve been there.

 

You want to push it.

 

You want to lose the weight.

 

You want to get the abs back.

 

You want to fit back into your clothes and feel like yourself again.

 

Trust me when I tell you, PUSHING IT is not going to get you there.

 

You just had a baby. You just finished building a baby.

 

You need some time to rest from all that work.

 

And then you delivered it, in whatever manner, into this world.

 

You definitely need to recover from that.

 

And now you’re continuing to keep it alive, with all your attention, love, and patience.

 

You’re probably not eating enough.

 

You’re definitely not sleeping enough.

 

And now you’re going to add an intense workout program? Or worse, just intense exercise with no program?

 

No.

 

Please, STOP.

 

Slow down, and let your body recover.

 

I understand. You feel like you need to catch up, to “bounce back” as quick as some other moms do. There’s nothing bouncy about post partum. It’s slow, it’s soft.

 

Our bodies are designed to make babies. They are designed to recover from having those babies. But not on your timeline. You can’t out train the postpartum phase. You can’t burn off the fat your body stores to help you survive after giving birth. The harder you try, it’ll just hold on tighter.

 

You can’t suck in a stomach that just held a baby, any more than you suck it in when the baby was in there. More importantly, you shouldn’t, it won’t do anything but have you holding your breath all day. Breathe. Relax.

 

Here’s what you can do; you can enjoy these precious moments you have with your new baby. You can LOVE and RESPECT your body for all its done for you in the last 9 months (and beyond). You can relax, sleep, watch your baby grow. Feed her, feed yourself, focus on growth and recovery, not fat loss. That baby needs you. That baby does not care if you get back in your jeans in 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years. Don’t kid yourself, you’re a mom now, you will be wearing stretchy pants for the next 3-18 years any way.

 

I get it, I really do. I have been there. I’ve also recovered from the injuries that occur, both mental and physical, from rushing back into an exercise program before I was ready.

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the body that oreos built
the body that oreos built

I spent the first year of my son’s life trying to lose weight. Trying to run off the pounds I had eagerly gained during nine months of pregnancy. I was happy to eat burgers, oreos, and dill pickle chips while I was pregnant. To plump myself up and enjoy the roundness of pregnancy. But then I expected my body to do the impossible. I wanted my body to shed the weight with the birth of my baby. I put the responsibility of losing weight it took almost a year to gain, onto myself, and expected it to happen LITERALLY overnight.

George, about 10 months, I had spent more of that time worrying about what I looked like than I like to admit
George, about 10 months, I had spent more of that time worrying about what I looked like than I like to admit

The expectation is outrageous. It makes no sense. But I thought that’s what would happen. That’s what happens on TV. In movies. In magazines. In pregnancy magazines.

 

So when it didn’t happen. When the wobbly parts were still there, weeks after my child was born. I was disappointed, I was a failure. My body had failed me. I gave over my power, my happiness, to a notion that there was a timeline under which I had to accomplish an impossible task. And then I let myself feel like a failure when I couldn’t do it.

 

It’s painful for me to share this. But it was also painful to go through it. And if by sharing I can help someone make better choices than I did, than it’s worth it.

I trained for and then ran a 10k race at 6 months postpartum. I wanted to win the bad-ass mom award. I want to be the girl who lost all the weight “so fast”. I ended up being the girl with a prolapsed bladder and bulging belly. I was put off exercise for over 2 months while I rehabbed the injuries I gave myself, by pushing way too hard, way too soon.

 

I had to reassess my relationship with food and exercise at this point. I couldn’t exercise. I couldn’t “burn off” the food I was eating. I had to face the facts that “burning off” a particular food isn’t possible. I had been using food and exercise as weapons, to fight a battle AGAINST my post partum body.

 

Two years ago, I had to start fresh. I had to look at food in a whole new way. I remember telling my coach at the time “I’m afraid of food. I don’t know if I can manage what I eat if I’m not going to balance it with exercise.” I was 5 months away from my wedding, so my physique was incredibly important to me at the time.

 

I had to change my relationship with food. I LOVE eating. So I was not willing to deprive myself. I was not about to go on a “diet”. I had to find foods that I loved, foods that tasted AMAZING. That left me satisfied. But I couldn’t “work them off” if they were high fat, high calorie, low food value types. I had to actually start loving healthy food. And not just for the way it tasted, but for what it was going to do for me.

 

Up until this point, I had either exercised based on how much/what I had eaten, or I ate based on how much I had exercised/calories burned. Truth is, there’s so much more to it than that. It wasn’t actually working. I had been living this burn/binge cycle for 7 or 8 years but had ever actually seen the results I wanted. I was always trying to tone up, lose the last few pounds, see more definition, fit one size smaller.

 

 

I had to take a good look in the mirror. The proverbial mirror, not the literal one that I had been staring at and judging my reflection in for all these years. I had to really look at my lifestyle, my diet, and assess what I was doing, why I was doing it.

 

So I was on a journey. It was serious trial and error. I would have a few really good days, eating intuitively, drinking lots of water, choosing yoga or walking over watching tv. And then I would have a bad day, my kid would be moody, or it would rain and we’d be stuck inside all day, and I would dive head first into the cheddar snack crackers I typically reserved for bribing my 18 month old at the grocery store.

 

And then I’d feel guilty about that, and go with the “oh well the day’s ruined now I may as well eat everything in sight and start again tomorrow” mindset. I’m not a saint by the way, I still have moments where I eat too much of this, drink wine instead of tea, stay up too late watching TV, but I’m not bound by those decisions, they don’t define me. I just choose better next time, and move on.

 

So two months went by, with little to no exercise, and whaddayaknow, I survived. I didn’t gain a ton of weight. In fact I lost a few lbs of muscle(which gave me a whole new perspective of the scales and helped to break me away from its power as well, but that’s a whole other part of my journey).

 

Best of all, I had started to understand my body in ways I never had before. Without huge calorie deficits, I still managed to maintain a physique I loved, feel good, and eat foods I liked. I learned, over those couple months, so much about my body; that my body LOVES salad, can only handle bread in small doses, needs a ton of water, wants protein at every meal, and it can eat a little chocolate, pretty often without binging.

 

I never would have learned these things without this experience. Even when I returned to lifting and more intense exercise, I was still advised not to run or jump, for a couple more months. This meant strict lifting program, which again was totally new for me. But this time I was excited, if I had grown and learned so much from 2 months off exercise, imagine what I could gain in the rest of my life, by listening to my body when I AM exercising.

 

This was a huge challenge for me, but one that really changed my definition of living healthy, of fitness, of nutrition. I also realized I don’t like running, I don’t enjoy crazy burpee push-til you-puke type of workouts. Even though I had been doing them for years, thinking that was the only way I could eat foods I liked and keep a fit body.

 

Fit no longer means abs to me. Fit means taking the best care of my body. Fit means being in tune with what MY body needs. Working out at the level my body is at right now, and slowly progressing to get stronger. Fit is not a size to me anymore. It is a state of mind, where I respect my body, eat to fuel my fire, and exercise to gain strength, and even more for the health of my mind.

 

 

I don’t want you to take months off of exercise. But I do want to you to drop the stuff you don’t like. Take a look at what you’re doing in your day. Are you spending an hour at the gym, on a boring machine, just counting the minutes til you can be done, or watching the calories burned until you can “afford” that pizza for supper.

 

We are moms, we have WAY too much on our plates as it is. We don’t need to be stressed about calories and minutes of cardio. We need to be healthy, and happy.

Exercise should not be a punishment. It should be fun, or at the very least enjoyable. Yes, you should work hard in your workout, if you want to improve your strength, endurance whatever, but it should not be torture. Being a mom, wife, having a full time job, having a business at home, whatever you do, its already taking a HUGE part of your day. Have your 30 minutes of exercise be awesome. Feel great, do it because you want to, not because you feel like you have to.

 

I want to leave you with a few thoughts here, so you can take a look at your “fitness” and see if it really does fit.

 

  • Why do you work out?
  • Do you like working out?
  • Do you like what you’re eating?
  • Why are you eating what you’re eating?
  • Are you binging at night/after your workout?
  • Do you feel like you have to earn/burn off certain foods?
  • Do you feel like eating healthy is too complicated?

 

The answers to these questions are different for everyone. Including me. I still need to go back and ask myself these things and others from time to time. I am still learning, because I am always changing. The way I ate and worked out when I had one kid and my focus was on physique, is completely different from how it is now, with two children, and running my own online business.

 

There is so right or wrong answer, but it is important to have answers. And to understand the why, so we can change the how.

 

Tune into your body, ask the hard questions, and work on the answers. Eat food you like and learn how to make the healthy choices taste great. Work out to feel stronger, not to punish, and not to exhaustion. You have enough going on, get food and fitness on your side and everything else in life will get so much easier. Once you understand how to make your healthy lifestyle work for you, you will notice immediate changes in your body, and best of your self confidence. I have done it, I am still doing it, and I promise you are capable of the very same things.

 

Fitness and health are a journey, not a destination. You don’t get there, you just get better. Which means there is no limit to the things you can learn and accomplish. From one mama to another, just trying to live my best life and be the happiest person I can be, DO this. For you and for your family. Listen in, you deserve it.

Out of Sight Out of Mind

 

 

A few weeks ago my son had a stomach bug(ew.) so we stayed home, snuggled, watched movies and read books all weekend. Of course I love taking care of my kids, but I also love to get up, move around, workout, make things, and even the slightest movement made my son whine and scream. So I was bored, outta my mind. This lead to a behavior I usually have more control over; grazing.

 

I don’t necessarily think grazing is a bad thing. And what I mean when I say grazing is that I’ll go to the pantry, grab a little this and little of that and snack away. This, as opposed to making a snack or meal, can often be all I need in between meals to bridge the gap. I will have a few nuts or seeds, pieces of dry coconut (YUM) and I’ll be good to go for another hour until meal time.

 

The problem is when I do this over and over and over, I end up full on snacks, but without enough nutrients, I still feel hungry. Especially if I make poor choices in my grazing, like I did last weekend.

 

This is a picture of my pantry, and when I walked in, I saw my treats, my chocolate, cookies, snacks that I keep in one cute little spot cause I love to look at them as much as I love them to eat them. Except when I’m tired or cranky or both then I love to hate them.

 

I keep lots of treats in my house, because I enjoy them, and because my mum and aunt send them to me! (I know, right? My family is the bomb) They last a long time, because I only enjoy a little at a time, partly because I want them to last forever and partly because eating too many treats and sweets makes me feel like sh*t. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

This weekend I was like WHY DO I FEEL SO CRAPPY.

 

So I went in the pantry to get * another* snack, and realized I kept grabbing treats. Because they were right in front of my face. Every time I open the pantry it’s the first thing I see. So of course, if I’m not feeling mindful, I grab one after another of these things that I usually enjoy sparingly, once or twice a day, and I’m eating handfuls when I’m hungry, or worse, when I’m not hungry.

 

So I decided to make over my pantry and move them somewhere they would not be so tempting.

 

Now I practice exposure, by which I mean I keep treats in the house, in plain sight, and I allow myself to enjoy them because this is real life and I really like chocolate. But it’s not always time for treats. And it’s more often than not that I need protein or veggies if I am constantly visiting the fridge or pantry, but I was tired and rushed (the whining didn’t subside ‘til I was back within reach) so my decision making was not great.

 

BUT I also think that part of it was my product placement. It was front and centre. I looked at it and said YES without even thinking.

 

So on Sunday, after 2 days of feeling crappy, I rearranged my pantry. This is actually an activity I enjoy, organizing makes me feel happy and in control so it was a good thing to do when I was feeling cabin fever creep in. So I moved the junk food out of sightline. I replaced it with the snack type stuff I was comfortable grabbing a handful of. Dried coconut, seeds and nuts. Still snacks, still tastes good, but with a lot more food value. The potential to actually satisfy my hunger.

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But I didn’t hide my treats, I just moved them over to the side that I don’t see when I first walk in, one shelf below eyeline. This was a tiny maneuver, I am not sending myself the message of deprivation, of I CAN’T have something. But I am changing what I see, which changes what I do. I grab for the good stuff now. Or I see it, and because it’s not a treat, I think, ‘hmmm do I even want that?’ Maybe I have a drink of water, or a smoothie, or some veggies, or whatever. But the point is, without depriving myself of the things I like, because like I keep saying they’re still right there, I’m giving myself the chance to make a better choice. And so far, it’s worked! I always feel better when I’m well hydrated, fueled with healthy food and making nutritional decisions I feel good about. And the treats feel more like treats when I only have them sometimes.

 

It is part of my practice to keep junk food in the house. I like it, a lot 😀 Anytime I have ever tried going without, “clean-eating”, I end up losing control and binging. Like whole bag of popcorn, family size chocolate bar, pint of ice cream binging. Its not the end of the world to have an indulgent night of junk food, but when I do it I suffer the consequences. Hang over like symptoms, often lasting for days. And that feeling, which includes nausea, stomach pain, and fatigue, makes it hard for me to get up and make the better choices.

 

It’s a cycle, one that is bad for your health and hard to break. It is common, but not normal. Food should give you energy, not drain it. Food should make you feel better, not worse. Learning that better choices, ie nutrient dense foods like green veggies, lean proteins, legumes, etc will make you feel better in the long run, that takes time and practice. But you have the power. You are in control.

 

Food is just that, something you eat. And although it may feel at times like it is, food is not in control. You are. You might eat something crappy, maybe make a poor choice ordering at a restaurant, or grab one of your kids cracker snacks instead of something with protein, but sh*t happens. No one is perfect. Recognize that you don’t feel good when you eat that, and make a better choice next time.

 

You always have a choice, you can always make a better decision. Keep practicing, take the reigns of your life. Don’t let the food be the boss. And more importantly, don’t beat up yourself up if you do eat the wrong thing. Do what I do, grab a handful of veggies and MOVE ON.

 

Listen to your body, recognize the cues it gives you about what you’re eating. Do you feel good and full of energy? Do you feel lethargic? Are you full after a meal, or left wanting more?

 

It takes time, it takes practice, but the pay off will last a lifetime.

 

I promise you won’t regret it.