While pregnant with her, the most astounding thing happened! I would put food in my mouth and chew. She’d kick like mad before I even swallowed. This occurred every time. I was incredulous – what a baby!
When she was two, she had chocolate cake. She kicked her feet high in delight. The frosting was all over her face and her eyes shone with joy.
At four, she had pizza. How she held it in her tiny, pudgy hands!
She’s had many meals since then. With girlish abandon, she eats what she wants when she wants: warm bread with butter, garlic mashed potatoes, steak, ice cream sundaes and healthy food, too.
She. Loves. Food. She likes high quality food. She can discern whether ingredients are fresh and she doesn’t like gristle on her steak.
She also loves dance class. She loves to learn challenging moves and practice them over and over and get good at it. She’s made such progress! Her body is lithe, supple and strong.
She’s my baby. She’s 15, but she’s my baby and I want her to be happy and healthy. I want her to love eating, dancing, laughing and playing violin all the rest of her days. I want her to enjoy life!
But our culture wants to destroy her. American society wants her mind to be cloudy with insecurity and a bit of self-hatred. Air-brushed models are in magazines, surgically modified celebrities are on TV, the Internet and film.
Even family members make comments. Grandparents plant seeds of doubt when they caution against weight gain. They compare sisters to each other, silently massacring dreams and self-confidence. They undermine the strong sisterly bond that exists. Well, they try anyway. These girls have each other’s backs, thank goodness.
If she were my son, would you tell him to watch what he eats? Would you scare him and tell him he might get fat if he “puts that” in his mouth? Would you comment on his figure as he stands in front of the fridge?
Please…I implore you…stop it. Stop with the comments and the body shaming. Stop trying to exert control through fear.
There’s power in “no.” Saying no to boring parties, mindless gossip and other wasteful diversions will save you valuable time and energy. Just make sure that while you say “no,” you are saying “yes” to something constructive or restorative.
Practicing gratitude improves your life in a multitude of ways. According to Amy Morin, a psychological business writer for Forbes.com, reflecting on all that you have to be grateful for benefits you in the following ways:
Opens the door to more relationships.
Improves your physical health (fewer aches and pains)!
Improves your psychological health (reduces your emotional toxins)!
Enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
Helps you sleep better.
Improves your self-esteem.
Increases mental strength.
Reflecting on gratitude is a form of living in presence.
I’ve always been a bit high-strung. I’ve always been a worrier.
I used to spend more time worrying than taking action to stop the worry.
As I begin the last half of my life, I want to be a warrior.
I’m reading Tolle, Singer, the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
I’ve read all kinds of books and learned a lot. But I heard Elizabeth Gilbert the other day on a podcast and she said something that clicked (!)
She was talking about her writing process and she said she writes in seasons….you know, as in nature. She said something like this (totally paraphrasing): There’s the quiet (winter) phase, where’s she’s in between projects and thinking, getting inspired. Then she begins research (spring), and she writes (summer) and then does the whole marketing tour bit (fall). And the cycle begins again.
The part that struck me as shockingly KIND to herself was that she gave herself time to just think, rejuvenate, get inspired. She sees it all as an integral part of her creative process.
You mean, you don’t have to keep working and sweating?
It made sense to me. Of COURSE, even nature takes breaks. Parts of it die in order to enable other things to grow. This applies to every career, every job, every role in life.
So yes, make your To Do lists and set goals. That is important. But be sure to take the time to relax, re-energize, and follow the cycle. Calmly get each step done. No need for stress.
When my daughters were six and seven, I realized something shameful.
I had a tummy paunch and was telling myself it was post-pregnancy fat. Yep, six years after giving birth, I excused and denied my mottled middle.
My moment of reckoning occurred at a Cold Stone Creamery of all places. We were eating our favorites: Ava with her Chocolate Devotion, Josie with her Strawberry Blonde and me with my Coffee Lovers. Boy, were we having a great time!
Before I get further with this story, I want to make something clear: there is nothing wrong with love handles or a bit of pudge. As long as YOU’RE OK with it. I was not OK with my weight. I wore loose clothing and felt badly when I undressed. It’s just me….I feel best about myself when I am fit. I have a small frame and I feel uncomfortable with excess pounds. This is not a judgment about other people. It’s about me confronting something I was unhappy about and how I changed it.
Continuing…We got up from the table when a very fit woman walked past the window.
“Wow, she’s fit,” I said, wistfully.
“Mommy, you look good too, everywhere except your tummy.” Josie said.
As with all children, her words rang true. I had let myself go a bit. I licked the final bits of Coffee Lovers off my upper lip. I fought tears. And I sighed.
I was ready to change.
In the next year, I lost 7 lbs. and got fit again. I had more energy and I was in a better mood much of the time. How did I do this?
I simply changed my habits.
Instead of going out for ice cream, I took the girls out for walks. We didn’t stop going out for treats entirely, we just cut back.
Instead of eating when I felt bored or stressed, I started jogging and doing yoga again. BUT, I made it a habit and I rewarded myself each time. According to Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit), this is THE key to success. I woke up an hour early every day. I put on my workout clothes which I laid out the night before. After my workout, I had a glass of water and a cup of coffee. I reveled in feeling the endorphins run through my body and my coffee became my reward. I told myself, “No workout, no coffee.” I like coffee a LOT. That was enough to keep me going.
Honestly, I believe I am in better shape now than I was 25 years ago.
Is there something you want to change? How can you develop habits to make it happen? It’s easier than you think! I highly recommend Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit.” It’s very entertaining and informative.
My co-workers and I discuss motivation of our students on a daily basis. So-and-So is simply unmotivated…if only he would find his motivation, he’s smart enough to pass, etc. We
teachers agree that we cannot give our students motivation. We can only inspire. But that’s often not enough.
Everyone has experienced the lack of motivation to create or pursue a dream. What is it that creates the “click”? The decision to act and work toward a goal?
Daniel Pink of Drive asserts that our businesses are operating under an outdated and unproductive system of carrots and sticks. Bonuses simply do not work long-term. What works, then? His research shows that there are 3 essential elements for enhancing motivation:
Autonomy – “the desire to direct our own lives”
Mastery – “the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters” and
Purpose – “the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”
Essentially, extrinsic motivators do not work. Treats or rewards for good grades, reading books, practicing piano…they can actually undermine intrinsic desires.
Tomorrow, I will cover the first of nine strategies Daniel Pink identifies to awaken your motivation.