Ditching the Old Ball and Chain (my scale, that is…)

scales-ball-and-chain

I’m a total scale addict and it’s time I let it go. The true confession is that I get on it all the time but I actually could probably tell you how much I weigh at any given moment. In fact, I sort of guess before getting on and it is confirmed more times than not. I also know that it fluctuates based on fluid levels, time of day, hormonal shifts, and other things. I don’t feel crazy about it…exactly. It’s sort of like a scientific experiment and most of the time it doesn’t affect my mental state. But then sometimes it does.

Lately, I feel like it’s having a negative impact on how I view my body and, therefore, my value and self-worth. (If I could put giant arrows with blinking neon pointing at that last statement, I would. This is where my real work needs to happen. So know that the arrows are there and that we – all of you amazing people out there and I – will be embarking on a bit of a journey to explore this.) I haven’t been crying over it or really even changing my behaviors based on the number, but I am absolutely internalizing it and I hear and feel the self-recrimination based on the number.

The reality is that over the past year I have seen some changes in my body and muscle growth that I like. Some of that will definitely show up in the numbers on the scale. But I’ve also not had my best eating habits, and that shows up too. The scale is just a number, just a record of what is happening with my body. I totally get this and hope that others out there understand that too. It’s a measure of gravitational pull – NOT value as a person or worthiness of love or a determinant of my ability to succeed. All true. Except…I feel something is off.

I’m going to listen to that intuition and get rid of the scale. I need to spend some time learning how to love and appreciate myself just as I am. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still have some body composition and nutritional goals that I want to work on. On the contrary. I’m actually feeling very excited about the aspect of exploring those things without being tied to their numerical representation.

I want to FEEL amazing. And I also want to look good. I nearly apologized for the shallowness of that desire. I am working hard lately to accept myself as I am and it’s funny to me where the insecurities show up. I feel extremely insecure admitting that I want to look attractive, according to my own aesthetic. I feel like I should be ashamed of that but I’m just going to leave it out there in honor of vulnerability and self-acceptance.

As I’ve thought more about self-acceptance lately, I’ve realized that I harbor a lot of judgment around the desire to be physically attractive and I’m not entirely sure why. I feel like I should only love my body for all that it is capable of regardless of how it looks. I DO truly love the FEELING of energy and freedom that comes from fueling my body right. The by-product is how my jeans fit. I honestly seek both and I’ve realized that at certain weights, I don’t feel right in my skin.

Now…that’s always been tied to a number. My question is, “How do I feel when I don’t know what that number is?” Because it really doesn’t matter. It’s just a number. So what if I focus on truly taking care of my body, mind, and soul? Then what? If I look and feel strong and confident and vibrant and sexy but I’m 10 lbs. heavier than I’d “like” to be – what does it matter?

And that’s what I want. Strong. Confident. Vibrant. Sexy. Luminous. Alive. Bold. True.

None of those are determined by a number on a scale.

So it will be gone this Saturday. I’m starting the Whole Life Challenge which looks at paying attention to a variety of lifestyle factors – Food, yes, but also Sleep, Hydration, Movement, Mobility, Lifestyle, and Awareness. I’ve never done it before and I’m excited. I like having a challenge to work on to help focus my attention and I am super-excited to see how the challenge impacts other, less quantifiable, aspects of my life. That’s why I’m getting rid of the scale. I am eager to embrace more intuition in my eating/movement/rest patterns and get a little better at listening to my body and following its lead.

Honestly, I don’t give my body enough credit. When I’m mad at the number on the scale or the fact that my pants fit a little tighter or that my tummy is squishier than I’d like it to be, I’m really doing it a disservice. I am so lucky and seriously, deeply grateful at the many gifts it gives me. I can hike for hours and exercise with an intensity that feels good to me. It cooks for my family and friends, does yoga, walks for miles and dances (on occasion) for hours. It’s run three 1/2 marathons, sleeps soundly, and knows how to laugh until I cry. And it adores a good cuddle. So I’m not complaining. In fact, it’s all of those things that I want more of and I don’t want my love for them muddied up by decades of internal dialog that make me doubt it.

I’ll leave it at that. If you have experience ditching the scale or working through body image and self-worth issues, please comment and let me know where you are in your journey. And if you are in the thick of it, know that I am sending you all kinds of love.

But is it YOU? – Keto update

be-youKeto lasted two and a half weeks for me. I got into ketosis, I was feeling okay, but it just wasn’t sitting right with me. I found myself looking at a bell pepper and wanting to eat it while thinking that I should be looking for some bacon or something fatty instead. If you know me at all, you know that’s a little bit crazy.

It’s not that I don’t like bacon – I do! But I love my veggies even more. If I don’t have enough of them, I begin to get antsy. The official “rules” of a ketogenic diet say that you can eat as much as you want/need of non-starchy vegetables, but I couldn’t get my head around that. With the amount of veggies that I feel good eating, I was popping out of ketosis quickly because I go over 20g of carbs really fast.

It wasn’t all bad, though. Often I felt really indulgent because fat is delicious and I would load up veggies with grassfed butter or pastured animal fats, and I would add extra avocado or a slice of bacon to things, which was fun. And, actually, this is something that I can totally do following a Paleo eating style too. It just felt more deliberate rather than natural.

Probably my favorite thing about trying this style of eating was that my cravings for junk food were completely replaced by cravings for vegetables. I wasn’t dreaming of bagels or bags of chips, I was completely fixated on giant salads with as many different veggies as I could put in or grabbing a handful (or two) of cherry tomatoes.

In the end, it became kind of an obsession and it didn’t feel healthy for me. And  honestly I didn’t feel any more energetic or clear than I do when I’m sticking to Paleo. I’m not saying that keto is bad – I’m just saying it’s not for me. And finding what works for you is key.

Want to know the first thing I ate when I decided that returning to Paleo was a better fit for me? A giant salad with chicken and celery and dried fruit with a creamy curry dressing. I settled right in to it and I felt more in line with my own principles.

Food inspires me. One of my great pleasures is sitting down with a new cookbook – or any number of the ones I have and love already – and flipping through to find fun things to cook and eat. When I was meal planning, I actually got discouraged because there were so many recipes that looked delicious but that I was skipping because they had too many carbs or some fruit or butternut squash or sweet potatoes or carrots or celery. Feeling sad when I’m meal planning is definitely not me!

I believe our bodies need more veggies, not less. I also believe my muscles need ample protein and I never quite knew if I was going over (which impacts ketosis) or not. Making the switch back to Paleo didn’t feel like I was slipping back into old, bad habits either because I am not chowing down on things I know that my body doesn’t like. It did feel like my body gave a big sigh of relief, though, when I had a handful of blueberries after lunch.

So that’s where I am right now. I’m deeply focused on giving my body, mind and soul what it needs to feel nourished and cared for. I’m about feeling a sense of clarity in my goals and delight in my choices. I’m about slowing down a little bit and loving the journey towards greater health for what it is. A journey. One that may be filled with missteps, experimentation, big wins and back tracking, excitement, and most importantly love for life and joy in the process. That also means healthy choices. It’s not a free-for-all at the buffet but truly tuning in to what makes me feel my best.

Every day is a new adventure and an opportunity for growth so don’t be discouraged if you try something and it doesn’t work for you! Just take a deep breath and decide what it is you want to change. Ask yourself, what worked for me today? What do I want to do differently? And never, ever leave out YOU.

Let Go

cropped-let-go-of-what-no-longer-serves-you-1024x724If there was one thing that you could leave behind in 2016, what would it be? What habit, behavior, mindset, person, situation, THING is holding you back from becoming who you want to be or what you want to achieve? This is the perfect time of year to take stock of what didn’t work in 2016 and create a different reality for your life.

At any given moment, we have a choice. We can either continue down the path that we are on or we can do something different. It might mean veering off gently or it could be a hard turn in an entirely new direction. It might even be a U-turn. What we need to realize, though, is that we are not locked into the path that we have previously chosen. Really. We get to decide if what we are doing fulfills us and moves us closer to where we want to be or if it’s time to let it go.

Every year on the Winter Solstice, I take pieces of paper and write down those things that I want to let go and a few things that I want to see more of in the future. Then I take those bits of paper and burn them – giving some thought, attention, and intention to each one so that I can let it go and allow the universe to take over. I don’t always know exactly what I want to have happen with each item, but I know that those are the things that need to shift in the following days, months, year. For me, it’s a beautiful ceremony. It’s simple and it aligns my soul.

The New Year, though, is a much longer process for me. I love this time of year. I like setting goals and re-envisioning my daily routines and habits and I take a few weeks to do it. I even like completely overhauling how I’m doing things. It feels invigorating to me. For some people, though, goals and resolutions are uncomfortable and perhaps even have the opposite effect from what they desire. They might get frustrated, depressed, or feel like a failure if they don’t achieve their goals or give up on them early in the year.

For me the process of setting goals helps me focus on what is important. If I don’t achieve something that I listed, I use it as an opportunity to reassess. Maybe the goal was too big and I need to put in an interim goal, a step in the process. Maybe my life has changed and it’s no longer a goal that I want to pursue. Or maybe there’s something buried a little more deeply that I need to look at. And if I still want to go after that goal, then I put it right back on my list. No judgement. Just keep going after it.

But in order to feel the freedom and excitement and energy around working towards new goals, we need to have the space in our lives to work on them. That’s where the practice of letting go what no longer serves us is so critical. We need to make space for the things that we want to manifest. If our life and mind and heart are too cluttered, then it’s that much more difficult to bring in the new.

Now is the time to make that space. Take a few moments to think about where you want to be a year from now. What is getting in the way? Let it go. Please don’t think that by saying it so simply I also believe doing it is simple. Sometimes the thing we need to let go is also the thing that we are most connected to, that hurts the most to give up, that feels like the one single thing that ties us to our identity. Sometimes it feels like the scariest thing to let go of. I get it. But if you feel drawn to letting it go, then maybe it is time. Cry a little. Hurt for it. Mourn.

If it’s that one thing that is getting in your way of living the life that you dream of, then let it go anyway. You will make space for what you truly, deeply want to appear. That’s magical, unpredictable, and seriously amazing.

A Bit of Grace

she-has-fire-in-her-soul-and-grace-in-her-heart

I gave myself over to something in 2016. It was important to me. I didn’t have the perfect solution. The unfortunate side-effect of working on this particular part of my life is that I let my healthy eating take a back seat. In doing that, I lost control of my ability to reign it back in. It just didn’t matter.

Now, twelve months later, I’m admittedly frustrated with where I am, I don’t feel good in my skin, in my choices, in my clothes. I wish I could have figured it all out at the same time. So much stuff. The truth of it is, though, that my life shifted a little bit and I needed to allow that shift. I’m trying really hard not to feel shame around what I let go or anger or anxiety at how hard I will have to work to get back to the me that feels healthiest. Shame. Such a negative feeling. It is, however, how I feel sometimes right now because I think that I’m supposed to know better by now. Reality check – I clearly haven’t learned all the lessons that I’m supposed to learn around healthy eating, living, loving and more. I’ve got some growth to do.

One of the lessons that I learned this year was that of grace. Somewhere along the way, I learned that we need to afford ourselves so much grace – every day – for the things that are difficult, that we are still learning, that leave us breathless. I love eating healthily and moving my body, but sometimes life has other plans and I guess I have a few more things to learn about living a life of balance.

I afford grace to others all the time and I tend to forgive easily and let go. We are human. The key – I am also human. 2016 was not my year of health, wellness, energy, vitality. But it was a year that I needed. The positive perspective that I choose to see is that 2017 now has even more potential to be truly amazing. I have the work that I’ve done in 2016 that I will connect with the goals and desires of 2017 and I know that this time will be magical.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Magical doesn’t mean perfect and easy and all-my-dreams-come-true, but it does mean that I’m incredibly excited to begin 2017 and work towards my goals. I know there will be challenging moments, but I am almost excited for them because it is the tougher moments that teach us what we are made of. The challenges we overcome on our journey are the ones that give us compassion and acceptance and forgiveness. They are what build our strength and resilience. The challenges are acutally the point.

This year, as I work to overcome those hurdles, I choose to see them as opportunities for strength and moments to celebrate. I choose to learn and grow and be grateful. No judgment, no shame. Lots of grace.

Here’s to the learnings and JOY that 2017 will bring!

 

Where Did I Go?

beyoutifulThis is not an easy blog post to write. I’ve been holding off for quite some time, months in fact, because I didn’t know how to handle what it was I wanted to say. I wasn’t even entirely sure that I knew what I wanted to say. Because of that, I needed to let it all sit for a while.

Some time ago, I started wondering what I really had to offer all of you. There are so many Paleo blogs out there with better photography, inventive recipes, and more relevant and informative things to say. I started to get insecure and feel really uncertain about continuing on.

One of the things that got in the way was time. I am not always inspired to slow down my cooking in order to do measurements, repeat and refine the recipe, and find the perfect setting and lighting to make it look appetizing. Instead I’m a mom and wife and trainer who is trying to hold it all together and look like I know what I’m doing. Most days go pretty well and I am very excited about the direction I think my life is headed, but sometimes I’m just breathing.

Another thing that got in the way was intent. Since I started this blog on the basis of Paleo cooking and eating, I got a little stuck in that idea and thought that if I wasn’t posting recipes, I shouldn’t be posting at all. You want recipes, right? But then I realized that maybe I have something else to offer – and occasionally a recipe to support that.

That led me to the most fundamental reason my blogging stopped. Vulnerability. To write about things that are more personal is tough. And what if it doesn’t resonate with anyone? What if it doesn’t always make sense? What if I don’t have the answer? What if I can only talk about the process, the journey, without some big revelation for you? Where is the value?

Here’s where I am with all of this right now: I’m just going to move forward AS IF you love me just as I am. I’m going to work very hard to believe that and I’m going to write from the heart. If what I say doesn’t resonate with you, then please feel free to check out the many fantastic blogs out there. But if sometimes I say something that helps you along your journey, fuels you as you strive to reach your goals, or inspires you in any way, then please stay around awhile and maybe even drop me a comment. It lets me know you’re out there and helps me know what you might need to hear.

Some of the things I imagine talking about: Food – in all it’s amazingness as well as some of the struggles it brings, Paleo, Keto, Weight loss, Motivation, Exercise, Challenges, Successes, and most importantly, learning how to love ourselves just as we are so that our very own beautiful lives can evolve and grow so that we may Shine Bright! (My mantra for 2017.)

Plan, Prep, Play

planHaving a plan is one of the most important things you can do to be successful during a Whole30. I would even argue that having a weekly plan for your eating, no matter what you choose to eat, can help you stay on track with your goals and keep you moving towards success.

Imagine coming home after work or running errands or however you spend your time and being hungry. You open the fridge and find…nothing. You start trying to find something to eat, and you really want to stick with your Paleo eating, but after a handful of carrots, you’re still hungry. And there isn’t anything that will really satisfy you.

Now imagine what happens under those same circumstances when you open the fridge and find carrots and guacamole, a few meatballs, and some roasted cauliflower. Suddenly you have a meal or snack that is delicious and that makes you feel cared for and strong. You eat well and feel healthy and ready to tackle anything else that your day holds.

The work on the front end is definitely more than just winging it, but truly it’s not that difficult either. It’s more about having a plan.

The Plan

I like to start my week with a few minutes and a pen and piece of paper. I also like to surround myself with cookbooks and ideas and anything that might inspire me. I will either consider what’s in the fridge and build a menu around that or, especially if the fridge is pretty empty, I simply go with what is seasonal and what looks good.

Then I make two lists: What am I cooking? And what do I need to purchase?

It’s important to consider all your meals because when doing a Whole30, you cook real food. A lot. If it comes from a box, it probably isn’t going to fit the plan. There are a few exceptions, and in fact more and more Paleo products are appearing on grocery shelves, but for simplicity, think fresh and whole.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks all need to be considered. Don’t get overwhelmed, though. Consider the same breakfast for a week and then change it up the next week. For dinner, make more than you can imagine eating – then you have leftovers! They will save you from extreme hunger and can make the entire process easier. It’s time to love your leftovers.

The Prep

Once you have a plan, it’s time to get the prep taken care of. I’ll just touch on it briefly here because there are so many different ways to get yourself ready for the week. Here’s the thing – don’t let it make you crazy. I didn’t have a lot of time because today was a holiday and the whole weekend has been quite busy, but I took a few moments to do this:

  • Store: Cherries, berries, melon, canned tuna, eggs, salad, slaw mix, celery, giant pot roast
  • Cook: Hardboiled 8 eggs and peeled them, cut up melon, washed celery and stood it up in a container with water, cooked pot roast

There’s no great secret here. I bought and cooked whatever looked easy. It’s a busy week and I just need to eat right. So it’s not pot roast season, but it was on sale and I could put it in the oven while I was doing other things. Now there’s a couple pounds of meat that can be turned into any number of concoctions, from salads to omelets to snacks to stuffing for other veggies…all sorts of things.

Play

The idea is to get the job done without too much stress. It’s just food! This is easy, really. Hungry? Grab some beef, cook it briefly in a pan and add some chili powder and garlic and cumin, toss it with some slaw, add some bell pepper slices, tomatoes, and avocado. Splash on vinegar or olive oil or add in whatever veggies suit you. Have fun with it!

That goes for this whole journey. This isn’t a sentence to misery around food. Actually, I find that whenever I tighten things up, I usually end up feeling more engaged and energized in the kitchen. Something tasty comes out of it because I have to get creative. Just go with the flow and try new things and embrace the experience.

Eating the right things for your body is empowering so go after that feeling of radiant energy and enjoy!

 

To Feel Amazing

love life

Every once in a while, I feel the need to really clean up my eating habits and get a little more strict with my Paleo rules. I have, on a few occasions, completed a Whole30 and blogged about it on here for people to follow along. This time, however, I only have 10 days before I leave on a trip to CA. That’s not to say that I couldn’t complete the challenge despite my travels, I know that it is absolutely possible to do so, but over the years I think I have actually gotten better at balance in my life and this vacation will have some indulgences and some wine and a few other things…and I want it to. It’s not a falling off the wagon sort of thing, it’s about living my life to the fullest and experiencing the joy and pleasure that I get from sharing delicious food and wine with friends.

There are times when I’m feeling uncomfortable in my skin and I need to do a Whole30. There are times when I’m feeling out of control and I need to do a Whole30. There are times when people I care about, even total strangers, seem to need a Whole30 and so I do it then. All of these are good, valid reasons in my mind to do a Whole30. This time, though, the decision to do one was a little more subtle.

It’s true that I’m not all the way at my goal weight or as lean as I’d like to be and my eating isn’t as consistent as I want. I’ve probably had a few too many evenings where I was having a glass of wine because it was summertime. And Tuesday. Or Thursday. Or raining. I’m sure you get what I mean. But I don’t feel horrible about my choices or where I am in my life. I actually feel pretty good. Not perfect, mind you. Not by a long shot. But what is perfect anyway? One of my sisters reminded me once that she really doesn’t even like the word “perfect”. Nothing really is. Although I think sometimes everything is. Perfect in its very own existence. But that is a topic for another day.

I was thinking the other day about motivation and dreams and reaching goals, or maybe amending goals as life unfolds, and it just came to me. I feel pretty good…but I want to feel amazing! I have learned in the past three or four years that I feel amazing when I’m eating Paleo all the time, or very nearly all the time, and exercising in a variety of ways every day. My activity is pretty rock solid right now so I’m going to keep going with that, but I’d like to get a little closer to that feeling of amazing and that has to do with what I feed my body.

Strict Paleo gives me all day energy and an upbeat mood that is difficult to sway, regardless of what’s happening around me. I love it! The energy is clearly related to the food – nothing that hurts my stomach, no sugar to give me a headache, no alcohol to change my mind. Every single one of my cells loves it when I’m strict Paleo. My brain feels clearer, my body almost vibrates with all the energy, I don’t feel hungry or have any cravings. It seems easy.

So why ever eat any differently? Well…that’s life. It’s my life, anyway. I like living a little more freely and savoring different flavors and celebrating with friends in a familiar way. I’ve realized this past year that it’s fine for me to do that. I used to feel so much guilt around food choices and that piece of my puzzle is beginning to fade. I’m so glad. No more guilt around food. That is also a topic for another day.

Today is all about saying that I’m looking forward to Tuesday, excited even(!), when I will stick to my Paleo guns for 10 days so that the start of my trip has me feeling like my healthiest self. I’m sure that will also keep me making healthy choices a little more frequently while on the trip too. Maybe, just maybe, what was once a pendulum swinging like crazy for me will actually be more steady. More balanced. More me.

Excited also means that I’m in full-blown planning mode. If you’ve never done a Whole30, the one piece of advice I would give you is to get prepared. This journey is so much easier when there’s a bunch of fresh produce and cooked meat in the fridge. It almost doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s there and ready to eat. Don’t get caught out hungry with nothing to grab because that’s how we make careless choices and then are frustrated when we don’t feel successful.

All of my energy these next 10 days will be focused on giving my body, mind, and soul what it needs to feel wildly healthy. I don’t plan on thinking about something I might be missing (like wine…) but instead thinking all about what I will be getting, like bubbly water, fabulous iced teas, delicious food, constant energy, and an abundance of happy in my heart.

I hope you’ll join me on this quick little journey into health. If you have the opportunity to do all 30 days, go for it! If you make it 5 and need to start again, that’s fine too! If you’re just following along and thinking about it, that’s cool…but maybe consider just jumping on in. It’s totally worth it.