Inner Strength

It’s that time of year when thoughts go to Christmas decorations coming down, resolutions for the new year come to mind, what your “word of the year” or theme will be be. Reflection. Changes. Decluttering. Reorganizing. (And you know how I love to declutter!)

But this year, as I was contemplating all of this, I had a slightly different take on it. Yes, I still want most of the crap in my basement gone. I’ll be working on that slowly this winter. Yes, I want to lose more weight, gain more muscle, and get Linda Hamilton arms. Yes, I want to find my inner zen more easily in times in difficulty or stress. Find my breath.

I want to also let go. I want to let go of things that weigh me down, both physically and mentally. I want to start each day with a positive intention and carry it through my day, no matter what is thrown at me. I’m not trying to be unrealistic. Everyone has a bad day. Or two. Or 10. But I want to find a way, if I can, to not get bogged down with stress, or misfortune, or just general unhappiness. I want to look at it in a different way.

What can I do to change it? Make it better? Because that is all that is my power. I can’t change someone else or their situation. I can fix me. I can fix my outlook. I can change my reaction. I can change what comes out of my mouth (which has got me in trouble more than a little!) and I can certainly change my perception.

So what weighs us down? A bad relationship that you know is not serving you and your interests anymore? Are you staying for the wrong reasons with a friend, a spouse, a lover? Are you spending more time bitching about this person instead of finding ways to improve it? Can you admit your part in it to help you find closure? That’s a tough one! It’s so much easier to place all the blame on the other person, but does that really help you feel better when you close your eyes at night?

Finding out what you need, what you really truly need, and then making that happen is what you can control. And what a wonderful feeling. Sometimes, the only thing you can control is your own breath. The world feels like it’s falling apart all around you and the only thing you can do for those first few moments is breathe. My yogi tells us to listen to our breath. Listen to it. Control it. Slow it. Regain your footing. When you feel you’re on solid ground, then start over. But you’ll have a harder time regaining your own footing when you’re relying on someone else for that. Trying to hold on to the broken friendship, the crumbled marriage, the relationship you thought was going somewhere turned out in the light of morning to not be what you hoped it would be. What then? Do you blame the friend, the spouse, for their failure in making you happy?

The guilt that comes with letting go of those relationships can be overwhelming too. We try and try and try to make it work. We don’t want to give up on years of that friendship. Or think we should stay in a marriage for the kids. Don’t we lose ourselves in that process? I’ve spoken before about the great loss I went through losing a friend of decades and how I didn’t know how to cope, how to deal and move forward. It seriously was harder than my divorce. More tears were shed, more sleepless nights, more self doubt and constant questioning shouting in my head. I couldn’t make her take me back. I couldn’t make her want me in her life. I couldn’t make her see how completely devastated I was. But through all that, I learned how to find myself that I had lost.

This year, this year is about finding my inner strength. Mind, body and spirit. I’m going to push myself to do things I never would have thought to try. I’m going to do things I always wanted to do but was afraid to. (Maybe time for my tattoo on my shoulder??) I’m going to allow myself to be a bit selfish. To think of what I want, what I need, and making it happen. I’m going find my inner zen. It’s going to be a challenge, and it’s going to stretch me out of my comfort zone as a people pleaser and a habitual “fixer”. And I’m thankful for 2014 teaching me that I can’t fix anyone but me. And what a waste of time it has been to try.

Namaste.

Balance

Baking during the holidays

I’m actually taking a break from baking right now to write this. More for my peace of mind than anything else. You see……I love to bake. Love it. It’s therapeutic, it makes people happy (usually happy, because most of the time it turns out well!) and during the holidays it’s a given to make cookies and fudge and bark and balls and cakes and rolls and……

The great thing about cooking is that my husband does 99.5% of it. He likes it for the exact reasons I mentioned above. I know it’s crazy that he is the one who goes to work, and then comes home and HE cooks. But he prefers it that way. He cooks, I clean. That’s the deal we made over 20 years ago. He does stress out about it sometimes. And sometimes he makes such a mess that I would swear he tried to dirty every pot, pan and dish in the kitchen just to make me clean it. If I could only get him to ask me to cook on the days he doesn’t feel like it, I would be more than happy to oblige. I have roughly 8 million recipes in my Pinterest folder. I’m sure I could find one that I could actually make if he gave me notice. But I’m getting off track. (As usual!)

I was making a new recipe for cookies again today for my church cookie exchange this coming weekend. I’m making 6 different types cookies that I have never made before. I figured this was a great opportunity to try new things and then give them away and keep them out of my house! I got a recipe from a friend for cookies that everyone has “had” to taste to check it out and now I’ve had to hide the rest of them because they don’t want them given away. SELFISH! I saved them HALF the recipe! But I haven’t had one. Not even a lick of the beater.

Then I made some bark. I was going to give that away to the women who are actually manning the cookie exchange table so they had something to nibble on. I gave a large baggie of it to Ryan’s girlfriend for her to share with her friends. It was a hodge podge of sweet, salty and chocolately. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. But I didn’t have any. (Ok, I might have snuck a few pretzels, but not the finished product! So it doesn’t count, right?)

But then today. Today I was making a dough that has to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours after making but before baking. I’m not sure why, but the author specifically said they don’t turn out as well if not refrigerated for that period of time. If anyone has insight to that, let me know. I get chilling the dough, but a minimum of 24 hours? Never heard such a thing. So I started whipping up the dough this morning so it could sit for the required time. I had to transfer to a bowl from my KitchenAid mixer (so I could use it for other cookies!) and there it was. A mixture of sugar, chocolate covered pomegranates, pistachios, chocolate chips and I thought, well, maybe I should taste what is sticking to this beater, ya know, just to see what this swirl of odd ingredients tasted like. It tasted pretty super fantastic! So another little scrap from the bowl (cuz there’s ALWAYS a little stuck to the bowl, right?) and as I stood in front of my kitchen sink, spatula in hand, a wave of extreme distress came over me.

WHAT WAS I DOING??????

Was a few licks of raw cookie dough what I should be doing? Hello?? I have barre class today! Would it kill me or derail my progress, I would say no. It wouldn’t. But what was I doing? WHY was I doing it? I haven’t licked a beater or bowl in months. And I bake all the time! So why today? Nothing happened? It’s not like something had happened. So I did what anyone doing something they shouldn’t be doing does. I STOPPED!!! Stopped and refocused. And I’m confessing and keeping myself honest. Not just honest to myself (which let’s face it, is the most important thing.) but honest with all of you. Because in community, having others holding you accountable and being honest and responsible helps get through a tough day of craving something you know you shouldn’t have. Being with others who know EXACTLY how you feel, no matter how you are feeling, is one of the best supports a person can have.

So I’m confessing, as well as removing myself from the temptation. Redirect! And the feeling, the impulse, has passed. If you can just hold on for a minute, an hour, a day……the feeling subsides. Then you can be proud of the fact day by day, you’re reaching your goal. YOUR goal. Whatever that goal is. Keep it front and center. Be mindful of it. TALK about it. Be willing to be held accountable for it. Be ever conscience about it. Because when you let your guard down, even for a moment, that temptation (a sugary, chocolately one) is going to be there, telling you it’s ok this once. And before you know it, the whole thing has been thrown out the window. And you have chocolate breath.

cookie dough beater

Mark it Down baby!!

I finally finally finally hit my all too elusive goal! And what’s even more astonishing is it happened the week after Thanksgiving! I have officially lost 70 pounds. 70. Seven Zero. 70 big ones. Say WHAT???

I have been hovering around the same weight for about a month. Very discouraging when I’m trying and not really doing anything different. But I stepped on that scale and my magic number came up and I was doing the happy dance in the bathroom! I know, not a visual you need in your head. Sorry.

I am transformed. Inside and out. And the questions I have received have really made me take inventory of my own life. This is MORE than just weight loss or numbers on the scale. This is truly about life altering all over internal changes, which brings about the bonus of external change.

It was soooo easy to resign myself to “this is me” and the “I’m not changing my diet/exercise” or whatever else it is that everyone tells themselves because I’m perfectly happy the way I am. So what if I have to shop in the Women’s Department? So what if everything I do revolves around what food I’m making, or someone is bringing, or what restaurant we’re going to? So what if this is my third piece of pie? No one is counting and screw ’em if they are!

When I started blogging about my weight loss, I shared that I was in a very fragile place. I had lost my bff of 25 years and felt like I was a ship lost at sea. A boat without an anchor. (Ok, I’ll stop with the boat analogies) I said how in that loss, I turned to food even more than I did normally when I was stressed out. Which seemed like it was too often. I was turning to an external fix for internal problem. How many of us do that? Food. Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Gambling. Oh, it’s fun alright, don’t get me wrong! Having a night out with friends is something I look forward to. I did it just last night and we had a blast! I’m doing it again tonight with different friends. I will be a blast too! But it will be fun because of the people I’m with and the joy that comes from being with them. Not about how much or little we drink, how much food we order and eat or don’t eat. It’s about the time together and shared memories. What happens when that last bite is gone? Or the last drop from your alcoholic beverage of choice is gone? What happens when that last quarter is dropped into the slot and it comes up a loser again? Are you satisfied and can walk away? Or are you already thinking of the next bite/drink/chance?

In my weight loss journey, I have become bolder. Yes, me. Even BOLDER than normal. If you thought I was bold before, look out baby! I have pared down my Facebook friends, I’ve cut my Christmas card list (If you haven’t sent me a card for the past few years, you’re CUT!) and I’m spending time with family and friends who in turn want to spend time with me. I no longer mourn the loss of what might have been or what I should have/could have/might have done differently. That was a monumental shift for me the perpetual people pleaser.

I truly, honestly, passionately have found inner peace. Inner happiness. I have no time for people who continually let me down, lie, make promises with no intention of keeping them, or don’t make time for me. I count just as much. No chasing, no begging to change, no fear of being alone. Because I’m quite happy with myself. When I can take a few moments to take a breath, to calm my mind and actually be present, I find things can go much smoother. My previous way of thinking was always a blur, going 100 mph, saying the first thing that came to mind. That usually got me in trouble and/or made the situation worse.

And just to clear my own conscience, I certainly don’t want this post to come across as me preaching. It is soooooo far from that. It’s the opposite of that. I have no control over anyone but me. And that’s what I’ve discovered to be the biggest key in all of this. I can control me. If you can’t control yourself, that’s no longer my concern or my problem. If you want my help, ask. I would be there for you in a New York minute. But in shedding that weight, I have come alive. I feel empowered. I feel confident. I feel healthy. I feel happy. I feel FREE!

I was telling my friends last night that I would love to lose another 10 pounds. I think they think I’m becoming anorexic now. (I love chocolate, and ice cream and yes, wine! lol) I am focusing on being healthy, on being the best me I can be. And there were still plenty of jiggles as I danced around the bathroom this morning. Perhaps “toning” would be a better choice of words. Toning and firming. And getting my arms ripped like Linda Hamilton in T2. Which is still a goal.

If anyone would like to have more information about my amazing yogi, trainer and friend Yolanda and her website, please visit http://www.strongcalmsexy.com and learn more about her program. Your body AND your mind will thank you.

meditation