Monday, September 26, 2011

And That's The Truth!

As mentioned in Get In My Belly (Part II), there were a few books that were particularly enlightening to me. 

I would like to do a review on some of them. This blog entry will specifically address how The Four Agreements and The Voice of Knowledge both authored by Don Miguel Ruiz affected me. I may cover a few other books at a later date.

First of all, you should know that I don't know this man, but he has changed my thinking a great deal. So it is fair to say that a stranger changed my life for the better. 

I read The Four Agreements (TFA) for the first time in 2007. It literally became a lifeline to help me get through the next few years of my life. In this book I learned the following:
  1. I was negatively influencing my own reality by being dishonest with myself.
  2. I didn't like who I was and couldn't stand to be in my own skin, all because I hadn't found a way to love and accept myself. 
  3. Somewhere along the way in this life I told myself that I was: insignificant, dismissible, unimportant, forgettable, replaceable, unintelligent and an unworthy of investment and I believed it.
  4. I was living in fear that everyone else around me would find out that the aforementioned conclusions might actually be true. I assumed that these things were true and therefore I assumed everyone else would see and believe these things about me as well. 
After reading TFA I took several months to take a comprehensive inventory. I went through an internal deconstruction. 

I discovered that none of those points that I mentioned above were actually true. The only one who believed those things about me was me. 

The only true statement above was the first one. I saw that I needed to redefine my self-perception. I needed to view my reality without all the lies. 

I needed to embrace honesty and learn to love me for who I am.

I later read The Voice of Knowledge (TVK), which is a follow-up and companion volume to TFA. These books combined sort of became my friends during my deconstruction and reconstruction phases. 

I had later come to realize the outline of me, through the help of TVK. With an outline, I was then able to enter the reconstruction phase. 

I was beginning to take shape and realized that this Diana is the one that had always existed, I just didn't believe it - I didn't know her.

The only real difference between Pre-Diana & Post-Diana was the hazy wall that surrounded her like a cocoon. It simply distorted and hid the reality. 

Until I could be honest with myself that cocoon would always remain. I later found that I was ready to accept the truth of me. 

I could handle seeing and try to believe it now. This is actually quite difficult to do. Until this point I couldn't even meet my own eyes in the mirror, let alone think nice things about myself. 

It's like living in a dark cave without light and then all of the sudden standing on a mountain top in full view of the sun. The contrast was that drastic. It was an "Aha! Moment". In fact, I blogged a little bit about that experience earlier in My Road Back.

We are worth the effort of constantly struggling to see the value of you, me... we... This is a good life, filled with amazing things and opportunities. 

Why do we fall in to the trap of constantly limiting ourselves, simply because we doubt our worth and potential? We have a purpose. 

Why do we lie and try to fool ourselves, eventually letting the weaker part of us be in the driver seat? We owe it to ourselves to be honest. 

There is freedom in the heart and mind when you lay down each night knowing that you have done your best to be truthful.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Get In My Belly! (Part III, end of soap box... for now)

These last few posts, in no way are meant to be a finger pointing opportunity to blame my parents for my issues today. 

As a matter of fact, if you ever said that you've never made a meal that went wrong, never purchased junk food, made bad meal choices and never had a vice of any kind, I simply wouldn't believe you. 

I have been blessed to live a privileged life to where I have access to garden space, money, grocery stores and food. I have a choice as to what I eat and when. 

I’ve also come to realize that the reason you often see the words "diet" and "exercise" coupled is because they truly go hand in hand.

I have also learned a variety of exercises for functional movement and living. I have grilled trainers and those living with disabilities to know what muscles are essential to have strong, based on the type of disability you have. 

I’ve done this because if I have an option for any amount of independence - regardless of what comes my way, I want to be empowered to do it. 

I realize how susceptible I am to loss of motivation, fear, and doubt… I’m tired of setting myself up for failure.

Phrases like "for only six easy payments of nineteen ninety-five", "exercise not needed to see results", and "see changes in just eight weeks" make me angry. 

If it’s low fat, that doesn’t mean you need double the portion size to be satisfied. Living life is an enduring commitment with daily decisions and habits that determine our success. 

There's nothing easy about it. Living life requires exercise all-day, everyday. We walk, get up, brush teeth... and we hope to do these things independently now and for the rest of our days. But what if we don’t? I’m determined to live everyday like it was my last.

It's much easier for me to simply make lifestyle changes and remove the roller coaster that these quick fixes bring.

Now you may think I am a crazy lady and might restrict what I eat in insane ways. I don't. I am human. 

What I eat is a daily battle and usually filled with compromise. Snicker bar now? Then I tack on a little extra to my cardio later in the day. Slept in and missed my early workout? I have a busy night ahead and won't be able to get the workout in? I try not to kick myself. I decide at some point I will take a short brisk walk during my day and then resolve to be extra vigilant about making sure I don't miss my workout tomorrow. It’s more about essentials...

I think the biggest thing on my mind is that I want to look on my life retrospectively and not regret that I never did this or that because the latest episode of the current cool mini-series kept me from it. 

Am I really going to sacrifice the goals on my list for a daily Super Size goody bag? I refuse to seek solace a few ounces at a time, especially since I have the option to go hiking with my husband today, which I can remember it for many more tomorrows to come.

If I don't have the discipline to determine what and how much food goes in my mouth, what will happen when I face bigger challenges in life? Now is all I have. So I decide daily that I will eat to live, not live to eat. 

Last night's dinner: 4oz grilled chicken, grilled asparagus,
oven baked veggies & garlic wheat bread. My how times have changed.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Get In My Belly! (Part II)

So my last entry on Get In My Belly! (Part I) you got to see a snapshot of a kid not making wise choices with her food intake. 

But hey, I was a kid and the sixth of eight children. But what about the adult that child six became? I'm sure food in general, dinner choices and overall experience was different for my other siblings than it was for me. But this is my story that I'm telling. 

I am also certain, that "my story" is very familiar to countless others, as well as a complete shock to those that never faced their issues in this way.

In retrospect though, I must admit that I was an undiagnosed binge, crave-driven emotional eater, which I came to find out is a type of eating disorder. 

Simply put (though some of my behavior was definitely learned), I am human and have issues that weren't being dealt with in a healthy way.

My diet eventually became quite healthy, but the portions were not. Soda was a definite coping device and my drug of choice. My consumption of soda was really out of control. 

At one point I was easily taking in equal to or greater than ninety-six ounces daily. I was eating and drinking myself into a hard road of health problems and never appropriately dealing with my issues. 

Though come to find out later on, while receiving counseling, I learned that my poetry writing (which has been a hobby as long as I can remember) was probably my greatest saving effort for my mental and physical health.

My weight loss journey (i.e., when actual effort was applied) really began in 2004 and waffled with sincerity until 2006, when I gave up. 

Then in 2007 I found out what it was like to really completely give up, refusing to lend any effort in actually helping myself health-wise. If it couldn't be fixed by a pill, without changing my behavior, then it (I) wasn't worth the effort.

In 2008, I hit a critical point and thankfully something snapped and changed for the better. What changed? Understanding that if I have control over nothing else in my life, I do indeed have control over:
1- my response(s)
2 - what I put in my mouth
3 - how I spend my time

I decided that:
  • I was no longer going to sit in front of the TV or movies and allow myself to drink a soda and mindlessly be entertained, so I didn't have to think about or deal with the real issues that needed attention.
  • I owed it to my family, my husband, friends... MYSELF, to reinvent and redefine Diana.
  • Simply put, I needed to trust, love and believe in myself.
Then I went on a reading frenzy online and in hard cover to learn and educate myself as to why I was the way I was, so that I could decide who I wanted to be and why. 

Over time, I began to learn that this had absolutely nothing to do with food or other vices, it's just that food and other vices were how everything manifested. 

Some people commit crimes, are violent, passive, self-mutilators, etcetera... For me, I did them all one piece, one sip, one purchase, one episode at a time.

So what I read:
  • A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • The Voice of Knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth
  • How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek
  • You The Owner's Manual by M.F. Roizen and M.C. Oz
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition by Joy Bauer
  • The King James Bible
  • The Book of Mormon

What I did that worked:
  1. Questioned myself on everything. I mean incessantly, all day, everyday for over a year. It was relentless! Why buy this? Why am I craving that? What has happened today? Why did I answer that way? Why am I lying to myself as I look in the mirror? Why can't I? Why don't I? Why say that? Why do I do this? Why do I believe this (or that)?
  2. I tried really hard to practice "mindful eating" (and still do)rather than following any fad diet, the concept of which is so fleeting and simply not good for the body. I used to think that eating by craving was good, because it must mean that I am aware of what my body is lacking, right? Not always the case. Eating by craving can also lead to binging. This is really bad when you are a person with addictive behaviors.
  3. Decided and repeated to myself that I have control over my choices and my actions. I refuse to allow myself to be controlled be others, things, or even my own self-defeating talk. I have a choice.
  4. When feeling emotionally low and/or physically weak, I found I must first go for a brisk walk before I do or decide anything else. There is always time for that, there are always options even when mobility changes how you exert that energy. When you feel like the option isn't there, you are indeed making excuses. It's a choice. You must stop everything else, because YOU are on the line.
  5. I began to read food labels (even if I feel like I don't understand them); often this determines what I buy.
  6. I began to continually strive to be a "water only" drinking girl.
By the time last year's Thanksgiving came, I knew I had really made significant changes in my life. I had just one sensible plate of food and I met another goal, which was to get a run in on Thanksgiving Day. 

I didn't experience a food coma, a weight gain, or experience any lethargy like I normally do on Thanksgiving Day. And the best treat of all was that I liked it and didn't feel like I was deprived in any way. It was a good day.

If there is nothing else you get from this entry, I hope that your take home message is this:
  1. Facing your issues head on is better than ignoring them.
  2. When it comes to food, everything in moderation is really the key. There is no diet, program or pill that will do better for you than moderation, mindful eating and self-discipline.
  3. Despite what you may think, you are indeed worth it all.

.... to be continued...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Get In My Belly! (Part I)

In my past blog entries, when discussing weight loss, I never really addressed the topic of food. There's a reason for that, but today and the next few blog entries, I'm opening up. 

When it comes to food I now have strong opinions. This entry acts as a background for my next entry. I'm not heading out to offend anyone here, but this is indeed an outline of how it was growing up.

(Heartfelt Disclaimer: I really do love you Dad & Mom and you did a good job surviving, er, um, I mean raising eight kids.)

My parents really tried hard to make sure we had what was needed in so many different ways, sometimes though, over abundance was  a problem. 

Since I was about ten years old we always had two refrigerators and freezers at our house. The freezer was generally FULL of meat that we didn't use often enough and ice cream, that was used quite often.

The refigerators always had fresh staples of milk, mayo, butter and  condiments from a variety of fast food stores. Fresh food was in the front of the fridge and rotting food was always pushed to the back. 

I think everyone was to blame for that last one. We'd all bring the groceries in and then of course it always seemed like the last one to come in the house was the only kid left to put the groceries away. 

Somehow all the other kids seemed to simply vanish. Well, the kid left to put the groceries away wanted to hurry and go play, right? Hence, old food pushed to the back and bags of new groceries were placed in front. 

Seldom was the food actually removed from the bags. Glazed doughnuts on top of the fridge. Lots of bread and probably apricots (for Mom's sake) on the counter.

The storage room had plenty of canned soups, nearly expired rice, instant potatoes, canned fruit, crackers, wheat (that most likely had weevils in it), and popcorn kernels. The only thing that we really kept current was the popcorn (for Dad's sake).

From my perspective, a typical day went like this:
  • Up at six-thirty in the morning, but later on in Junior High and High School I was up at about five. Breakfast was cereal with milk. Once the cereal was eaten and all that was left was milk, I would of course refill my bowel with cereal, because I don't like drinking the leftover milk. Then right before I would leave for school, I'd have a glass of chocolate milk and steal a doughnut from Dad's stash. Then I'd steal money from Dad's wallet or Mom's purse for goodies from the vending machines at school. I'd then go to school with my self-packed lunch bag of chips and a sandwich.
  • Snacks came from the vending machine at school using the money I had stolen; my snack was usually just a can of soda.
  • Lunch was the packed bag I would sometimes bring, but in addition, I'd buy a pizza or a chef salad from the lunch room with the money I had been given for the week.
  • On the way home from school I'd stop at 7-Eleven and get a thirty-two ounce soda with the money I had stolen.
  • After school I'd watch television while eating potato chips or a tomato sandwich, with lots of mayo. When Mom got home from shuttling somebody to a piano lesson or a doctor visit I'd turn off the television and pretend I had been doing homework. I would then relocate to my friends house to play and get into all sorts of mischief.
  • If Mom or one of the kids hadn't made dinner by six-thirty or seven in the evening when Dad would call home to see if dinner was on, then he'd pick up fast food on his way home from work. The choices were usually one of the following: Kentucky Fried Chicken (only when all the mouths were home to feed), Iceberg (a local hamburger & shake place), Taco Time (also when lots of kids were home), McDonald's, Hire's (another hamburger place; but only when a small handful of kids were home).
  • By nine at night I'd be in my bedroom listening to the radio while really doing homework and drinking a can of soda that had been hidden under my bed. I was generally asleep or starting to get ready for bed by eleven o'clock.

Memorable dinners:
Brenda (sister) - Macaroni & tuna concoction
Mom - Tuna Gravy over toast
Jesse (brother) - chili and corn bread
Dad - Lentil soup
Mom - really good potato salad with hamburgers.
Mom - chicken cordon bleu with ham passed it's prime and hollandaise that wasn't... well, mom tried...
Dad - pork chops & salad

I'm sure there are other siblings who tried. This is just what currently comes to mind.

All in all, my eating habits really didn't change much until I got to college. Then in college the portion sizes just got bigger, croissants got involved, soda intake increased and I was no longer playing school sports to burn off any of what I was eating throughout the day.

What I have outlined, for some, may seem really normal and typical. But for others... maybe not. Regardless, for me, this was the norm.

Okay, that's enough for today, but the reasons for this entry will be made clearer in my next entry.