When the mind gets in the way ….

Fear. Doubt. Shame.

They hold us back from so much. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Can I do this? Am I worthy of doing this? I’m ashamed of getting to where I am. I don’t deserve to take care of me. And so on, ad nauseum …

So where does this come from and why does it happen? Our minds are funny things … or not so funny, depending on how you look at it …

Human beings were “designed” to survive, right? To stay alive long enough to reproduce to enable the human race to thrive and continue … and isn’t it the brain that controls these instincts? If you take your mind back to cave man times (a little imagination here lol), what would happen if we came out of our cave to do the hunter-gatherer thing and were suddenly confronted by a very menacing looking saber-tooth tiger? We would likely freak out just a little, and then go into “survival” mode. Our thoughts would narrow completely so that the tiger was the ONLY thing in our consciousness. We would be flooded with adrenalin, giving us extra strength in our arms and legs that enable us to either fight or flee (the fight/flight response). In short, our brain goes into automatic instinctual response in order to survive. Fast forward to modern times and we still go into this response when we feel threatened. But instead of being threatened by saber-tooth tigers, we “feel” threatened by finances, work, family, and a whole host of other modern day phenomena.

The key here is the word “perception”. In order to perceive something as threatening, our mind has to make a judgement about it. In other words, it THINKS. When we were confronted with that tiger, our mind THOUGHT we were in trouble. And was it right? You bet your ass it was! However, when our mind does the same thing and THINKS we are threatened when we feel self doubt, is it necessarily right? Of course not.

So what do we have here? We have a mind that is doing it’s job. Human beings certainly haven’t evolved enough in the last 70 odd years to not have that instinctual survival response. But the modern world has developed at such a fast pace that technology means we are no longer physically threatened. Since we still have that instinctual response, our mind makes the judgements anyway. Nuts, right? No, normal!

The thing is, as human beings, we like BALANCE. Think about it. If your body gets hot what does it do? Tries to cool itself down by sweating. If it gets cold, it tries to warm itself by producing goosebumps. The brain tries to retain that balance in everything we do, even our lifestyles. When we do anything outside of what has become “normal” practice (read comfort zone), our brain will kick up a stink and fight you every step of the way! At least until the new state of affairs becomes our new comfort zone. That is a NORMAL human response! And yet every day we beat ourselves up for it (go figure!)

So, when your brain gives you grief and tries to tell you there is a threat (if you are staring down the nose of that tiger, feel free to LISTEN!). But if the tiger isn’t there, try simply acknowledging your brain’s attempt to do what it was designed to do: keep the balance. Thank it for doing what it was designed for. After all we wouldn’t be ALIVE if it weren’t. And THEN go about taking action on the things that are important to you (even if your brain is having a few conniptions).

YOU know there is no threat. Your brain doesn’t. So which is gonna triumph? 😉

Now all I need to do is put it into practice 😀

Ali

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Numbers on the scales

Ok, so with the 12wbt the official weigh in day is Wednesdays. Get up, pee, then weigh in. I did my first one just 2 days ago and posted about it on that day. Today, just for shits and giggles, I jumped on again. It said I was 214.2kg. That is 3.2kg down, in just 2 days!! While that is completely awesome, I’m a little afraid to trust it. It has been suggested that the first several weeks I would drop some big numbers because of changed habits. But did I really change any habits in the last couple days? It doesn’t feel like it. Less food, certainly, but still the wrong kinds.

It could also be fluid. My lymphoedema makes my fluid levels fluctuate very widely, and yesterday I was peeing like a drunk trucker!

Whichever it is, I will remain cautiously optimistic at this point and wait until Wednesday to confirm. Either way, I really appreciate the excitement and support I have received from those I have told. Particularly the wonderful 30+ 12wbt crew! I feel so at home with you guys! 🙂

Dreams and courage to admit them …

Each of us has an inner dream that we CAN unfold if we will just have the courage to admit what it is and the faith to trust our own admission…The admitting is often very difficult!
-Julia Cameron-

One of my FB friends put this quote on her status just a few minutes ago. It struck a chord with me so I decided to create a post about it. I wonder why we find it so difficult to admit to our dreams … I guess there could be a number of reasons. What are yours?

For me I guess its fear. The lack of belief that I deserve to live a life where those dreams actually become reality. So is that fear or is it more a lack of self-worth? Probably both. I wonder at my ability to live up to the responsibility of what living those dreams entails. Let me give you an example.

If I were thin and energetic, what would I have to do? I would imagine I’d be required to do more STUFF. More socialising, helping people with more practical stuff, more housework, be more organised, and the list goes on. Currently, I don’t have to do as much. I have people around me who do some of it for me (like housework and helping with more practical stuff). And I get to sit on the sidelines and watch because I’m physically unable. I don’t have to become involved as much. I guess that’s my payoff. I don’t have to become involved. I’m afraid of being involved.

Does that mean the people helping me are actually enabling? I’m reminded of tonight’s episode of The Biggest Loser, when Shannon asked the blue team to step up and trust him enough to do what he asked. Hamish (the young kid) gave in to his inner voices that told him he couldn’t do it. Shannon’s voiceover said that this kid had been mollycoddled his entire life and Shannon was refusing to do it. So the kid froze in fear. Is that what I do? Have I been mollycoddled and enabled and have I lapped it up like Hamish? I’ve given away my power!

As I sit here typing this the recurrent thought running through my head is “what a bloody copout!” What kind of coward am I to be afraid of getting involved in LIFE?!?! Everyone does that kind of stuff. Why should I be exempt? And, what am I missing out on because of it?!?!?! It seems just bizarre that I could even have that thought in my head! And yet, as I typed, that is what popped out *sigh* …

Question is, what am I gonna do about it? My dream IS to be thin and energetic. To be able to fully participate in MY life! To be able to be more social. To attend picnics. To go to theme parks. To go on planes. To LIVE! And yet it also seems that I am afraid to do just that! Is that bizarre or what!

I wonder what would happen if I WERE to TRUST my own admissions ….

Shopping for clothes …

When I was in grade 6 (age 11) I was wearing a women’s size 16. I remember very clearly my mum telling me that it was NOT a good thing for me to be that size. At one point I also remember both my parents telling me that if I could keep my weight stable, as I grew taller it would look better on me and I would “be ok”.

From that time I have only ever been able to shop for “big girl” sizes. And at some point I “outgrew” them too. For at least the last 20 years I have been unable to find any clothes in even the big girl stores. My second cousin’s wife made me some clothing in 1998 (ish) and for the next 8 years or so I wore the same 4 or 5 skirts, the same 4 or 5 tops. In the last 3 years or so I’ve had those replenished, with 7 or 8 ankle length skirts and shirts, primarily for work purposes.  I don’t dare wear anything shorter than ankle length, it becomes too revealing if I bend over or even sit down. I own no shorts/pants (heaven forbid!), nothing skimpy or revealing. My skirts are all A-line, no pencils or anything different, and all have elastic waists. All my tops are loos fitting. No belts, no waists. No shape.

I watch/listen to others talk about how they go shopping and buy whatever they want, pretty outfits. And their wardrobes are chock full. I have plenty of room in mine! I wear a clean outfit every day and I have enough to last no more than 6 days before I need to wash the lot. When I wash it’s 1 and a half loads and I’m done!

It is just incomprehensible to me to have any kind of choice. And when people say things like “I have nothing to wear” when they have a full wardrobe of perfectly good clothes that fit perfectly, I sometimes think to myself “you seriously have NO idea what it’s like to truly have nothing to wear!”

This program will be changing all that. I am really looking forward to the day I can walk into a store and buy something off the shelf. AND look good in it. 🙂

Owning your power …

What does owning your power actually mean? I’m sure if you asked 300 people that same question you would likely get 300 responses.

To me it means taking responsibility for the current state of affairs. Don’t get me wrong, I DON’T mean taking responsibility for something you have no control over. That would be owning someone else’s power lol. I’m talking about taking responsibility for the things you DO have control over. For allowing people to walk all over your boundaries. For the current state of your health after a lifetime of neglecting it.

I have decided to be brave and put myself out there. Owning MY power means that I can put this information out in the public domain and not feel ashamed, as would have been the case even as recently as a year ago.

I accepted my sister’s invitation to join her on the 12wbt knowing full well that we would be required to weigh in on a weekly basis. It was rather surprising to me that I discovered that I wasn’t ashamed of the number. Yes it’s high. But it is what it is and nothing and nobody can change it at this point. Shame, regret, sorrow, anger, disgust and any other emotion you can think of would just prolong the agony and paralyse me, likely sending me back into the whole denial thing.

I don’t want to be back there. I’ve been there WAY too long and I’ve had enough of it! I deserve better than being in that place. I deserve to love myself enough, to care about myself enough. Enough to what? Enough to LIVE! I’m fed up with sitting on the sidelines of life, watching everyone else participate while I basically rot.

So owning my power means admitting, out loud, the current state of affairs, taking responsibility for getting myself here and then making plans and implementing changes to get the kind of life I deserve!

It is with this spirit that I share my official starting weight from this morning, January 25, 2012.

217.4kg.

And it is with this spirit that I commit to fully participating in the 12wbt program for this next 12-14 weeks. I WILL:

  • Do all 8 preseason tasks
  • Trust in the process of the program
  • Trust Michelle Bridges enough to perform every task she asks
  • Admit when I make mistakes and seek support when I need it

Ali 🙂

Losing things …. and then what?

So many people talk about weight LOSS. I’d like to ask why they want to find it after they worked so hard to get rid of it in the first place.

I took to using words like “shed”, “get rid of” and so on. But I recently came across a post on the 12wbt forums where a guy used the phrase “donate to the universe”. I LOVE that! From now on I am making DONATIONS! 😀

Mindlessness

Have you ever found yourself sitting on your lounge with an empty packet of chips/chocolate/lollies (insert your food weakness here)  and suddenly you are wondering how it happened? You have zero recall of how or why the empty packet got to be on your lap, and you feel zero satisfaction for having consumed it. And then in another 5 seconds flat the guilt rushes in. Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you are SO numb that the guilt doesn’t even consciously register? Maybe eating the food has numbed the guilt too.

Throughout my childhood I was never allowed to express anything other than surface emotions. Vague annoyance or happiness. But no real excitement, joy, anger, hate, or anything else that had depth to it. So, rather than express them, I ate them. We celebrated with food, we commiserated, we comforted. I snuck it. I stole it. I’d offer to clean up the kitchen after dinner and take forever to clean because I was busy sneak eating food out of the open fridge while the rest of the family watched TV in the lounge.

I spent so long doing this as a kid I continued it as an adult. My entire adult life has been spent eating my emotions, regardless of which ones they were. Most of the time they barely register on the scale. I do it so habitually that the guilt of having eaten all the crap doesn’t even cause a blip on my radar. Even as recently as a year ago I was so much in denial of this pattern that it continued unchecked.

It’s amazing what even slight awareness can do. Becoming more mindful has helped me to become more aware of my emotions. I can now acknowledge when I feel irritable, angry, annoyed, happy, ecstatic, excited, or even depressed or anxious. It definitely takes practice though. I still find myself falling into the trap of burying those emotions and not acknowledging their existence. But as I continue the practice, it becomes easier. And I am finding a natural tendency to stay away from the crap. The more I acknowledge, the less crap I feel the urge to eat. Funny how that works huh?

I have found that exploring my emotions has really helped. Talking about the things that bother me helps. One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself is to see a psychologist. She has really supported me in uncovering those emotions. It’s helped me to realise that I DO get angry after all (who knew!). I also feel scared. And anxious. And sad. And lonely. And of course guilty. The realisation of that little gem was like a slap in the face!

Diarising/journalling (love homework!) and mindfulness practice have also helped me become more aware. It’s strange how the simple act of noticing what your breathing is doing can assist in recognising those thoughts and feelings that run around in your head. I need to get back to doing that regularly.

And with all these lighbulbs has come more freedom. To acknowledge, to talk about them, to FEEL them. And of course to EXPRESS them! Now THAT is freedom!

Invitation to transform

A few weeks ago I received an invitation from my sister to join the 12wbt – 12 Week Body Transformation – a program developed by Michelle Bridges to help people transform their lives. After ummming and aahhing about it for several days I accepted the invitation.

For so long I have felt like everyone else is more important than I am. That it’s ok to treat myself like crap and to allow others to do so as well. To date, that attitude has got me a lot of comfort eating and a sedentary lifestyle, resulting in an unhealthy body and the inability to do so many things a lot of people take for granted. 

So, this invitation is an opportunity for me to practice the ultimate in self care – to love myself enough to look after my body. A very daunting prospect considering its current state, but a challenge I am willing to take because when I consider the alternatives, I certainly don’t like the options!

Ali 🙂

Who am I?

My name is Ali.

After some pretty tough experiences in the last few years I have resolved to take better care of myself in 2012. I have come to the conclusion that I DESERVE to be taken care of, that nobody can do it better than I can, and if I don’t do it, nobody else will.

So, here I am. This blog will be a journal of sorts, tracking my journey and self development as I travel. I’ll probably whinge and complain when things get tough, but i’m allowed to do that sometimes lol. I’ll brag about my accomplishments, big and small. And i’ll also ponder things.

At this point you may be wondering about the topics i’ll be writing about. Well, anything that is related to self care. Physical health, mental health, pampering, chilling out. And anything else that comes to mind. I may even go off on some tangents here and there (I’m good at that, so be warned!)

Who’s up for coming along on the ride with me?

Ali 🙂