Wednesday, May 14, 2014
"Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement." C. S. Lewis
Today I listened to a wonderful podcast by Brooke Castillo. thelifecoachschool.com/4/
I was so moved by it that I want to sum up the key points before I forget them!!
I've been on a journey now, for a long time, to heal my relationship with my body, with food and with weight. And for many years, my rigid perfectionistic tendencies kept me stuck in a binge/restrict cycle that never worked.
Recently I've experienced a profound shift (I'm 43 and this journey started when I was 11, so you could call me a slow learner!). I'm so happy to say that I'm now binge free and have realized that my healing is like peeling the layers of an onion.
At this point in my journey, the new layer that I'm interested in peeling is that of emotional eating, something I still engage in, though happily not to binge levels! Woohoo!! This is a huge amazing change!
This podcast was really eye opening for me because though I've not binged, when I have eaten emotionally or overeaten at a meal or a snack, the negative, beat myself up voice quickly emerged. "You weren't perfect! How could you do that? You'll never be at a stable weight if you overeat!" I'm sure many of you know that voice...
But things are very different for me now. I can recognize and quiet that voice. I can then ask myself, "What happened here? What is there for me to learn from this experience?" And then I move on and continue with my day. No more shame, blame, guilt or self loathing.
OK, onto the podcast by Brooke Castillo:
She posits that failure is when we don't meet our own expectations and thus success is meeting our expectations. Given that we determine our own expectations, we are able to determine what failure or success mean.
So, when we don't meet our own expectations, we can decide, in advance, to not make that mean the end of the world. We can decide, in advance, to see slips as a chance to learn and grow, and celebrate them instead! We can turn them into something positive, deciding in advance to handle life's inevitable mistakes in this way!
In other words, because we can determine what failure will feel like by preemptively deciding how to think about it, it's much easier to take risks and put ourselves in situations that are out of our comfort zones. We know we will most likely mess up a bit at first, but anticipating it, and seeing these goofs as a good thing, make them much more palatable!
Brooke goes onto say that success is acquired by failure, by being willing to fail.
"If you want to succeed, double your failure rate." Thomas J. Watson
Here is a brilliant example she gives. It's one I've heard many times, but she adds an extra layer that gives it even more potent meaning: when children learn to walk, they constantly fall down. This is because their legs aren't yet strong enough to hold them up. And often, when they fall, they push themselves back up, to try again. Well, it's int the pushing themselves back up that they gain the strength in their leg muscles to ultimately be able to walk.
This was really profound for me! Brooke says, "If children stopped trying to walk because they were failing, then they would never have the opportunity to get strong enough to be able to walk!"
In other words, it is only through our own "falling down" that we can get strong enough to do something new!
She offers a new way of talking to ourselves before we engage in something that is outside of our norm, that we might fear trying because we could fail:
"Hey! I'm going to fail, and I'm going to fail many, many times, but here's there thing. When I fail, I'm going to have my own back. I'm going to treat myself with respect. I'm going to honor myself. I'm going to use that as an opportunity to learn and to take care of myself. I'm going to use it as an opportunity to love myself more instead of loving myself less. I will refuse when I don't meet my own expectation, to say mean things to myself, to beat myself up, or to quit."
I just love this! This has become my new way of life!!
When you start your day knowing that there is a good chance of failing, confidence has to come from your ability to fail, knowing that when you fail and learn, it's the only way to get better every time. Failure is actually something to pursue and to get very good at.
"I didn't fail. I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb; I only needed to find one way to make it work." Thomas Edison
Brooke says, "I actually like the idea of practicing failure. I like the idea of failure being a skill that we develop. If we are good at falling down, we actually learn how to fall down really well. Then, we're going to have confidence going into our future."
She mentions a man named Ramit Sethi who has a website called "I will Teach
You to be Rich," in which he suggests that he's not successful unless he has 5 epic failures per month! I find this super comforting. I have even decided to track my failures and celebrate them as much as I track my successes! I see now that these 5 failures are helping me get closer and closer to a lifetime of peace and ease around food!
One final point Brooke makes, and I think it's very important, is that there is a big difference between failure from stepping outside of your comfort zone, by taking risks, by putting yourself out there, versus failing by just not showing up, from sabotaging yourself, by making the same mistakes over and over again. I equate this with my years of restrictive dieting, binging, starving, trying to hate myself thin! It never worked but I kept thinking "this time will be different".
As I continue peeling my onion, I'm eagerly awaiting some epic failures!
"My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure." Abraham Lincoln
Thursday, May 08, 2014
“He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing .” ― Epicurus
Today I listened to a conversation with Kathryn Hansen, author of the wonderful book "Brain Over Binge". www.brainoverbinge.com/
I've been a fan of her book for awhile now, and her approach for overcoming binging by changing neural pathways in the brain. In essence, binging happens when we follow urges to binge, which come from the lower brain. When we recognize these urges as "neurological junk" and dismiss them instead of acting on them, we form new neural pathways and change our brains. In time, the urges lessen and disappear almost entirely and thus, so does the binging.
I'm so happy to say that I've been binge free for 28 days now and that my urges have truly begun to disappear. However, that does not mean that I never overeat or that I feel completely free of food/weight/body challenges.
Last night, for example, after an extremely stressful day with little access to food, I became overly hungry and decided to eat out with my daughter. We got fish tacos but we also got tortilla chips. And I ate WAY too many of them. I didn't binge, which was fantastic, but I was very full, and despite the initial few minutes of yumminess, there was no real joy in eating those chips. Further, there was absolutely no pleasure over time. In fact, I woke today feeling full and uncomfortable.
Well, getting back to the talk with Kathryn Hansen, she said something today that was remarkably apropos to my overeating last night and I felt it was a strategy I would employ for sure going forward.
She discussed how in the early days of recovering from binging she would decide to eat a "treat" food, something like cookies for example (or tortilla chips) and she would have three. She would decide in advance exactly how many she was going to have, and begin eating them KNOWING that she would get an urge to keep going and have many many more, but that the urge was "neurological junk" and that she was going to dismiss it when it came. To help her along in the process, when she finished enjoying her three cookies, she'd say something celebratory, like "that hit the spot!" And even though her lower brain was trying to convince her to have more, this positive phrase helped signify that she, Kathryn, was in charge and that she could have more cookies another day, but that any more than three would not give her pleasure over time.
What is really uncanny about this strategy is that at dinner last night my beautiful, wise and incredibly loving daughter Sasha said to me, "Mommy, you won't feel well if you eat all those chips." And she was right! Later she told me that when she is at a party and there is a tempting food, something unhealthy that she wants to eat, she takes three of whatever it is, and eats it slowly and then goes and does something else! Amazing how evolved my 9 1/2 year old is!!
So the next time we go for fish tacos, three tortilla chips (which is really all anyone needs in my humble opinion, since they really have no nutritional value at all and more just doesn't feel good), and then "That hit the spot!!"
My delicious girl and I!
"In everything, satiety closely follows the greatest pleasures." - Marcus Tullius Cicero
Sunday, April 13, 2014
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
― Paulo Coelho
Scenic Central Park with a nice view of Manhattan behind us.
Pre race smiles with a track club friend. I had no idea what I was about to do.
Well, I just got home from my third half marathon in the past 6 weeks. And it was by far the hardest race I've run, but I PR'd at 1:50! I really can't believe it. It was two loops plus a bit of Central Park, which is a very hilly place to run indeed.
Can you feel my quads screaming?
It was beautiful weather, sunny but not hot, beautiful flowers blooming everywhere, daffodils, tulips, cherry and magnolia blossoms - what a treat!
Today is the 7 month anniversary of my husband's death and I'm really happy to say that something is shifting in me. Though I miss him, of course, spring has sprung in NY and I'm starting to feel whole again.
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson
Happy Spring to you all!
Monday, March 31, 2014
“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.” ― Arnold Bennett
Today is Monday, a day that signals the start of a new week and new beginnings. And tomorrow is April 1, a new month, hopefully spring weather will soon come to NY for us to enjoy.
So today I dust myself off and begin again, forgiving myself for many turbulent months, poor choices in terms of using food to cope, and the added unwanted pounds that came with that behavior. Today I recommit to self care, to mindful eating, to getting proper rest, to facing, feeling, and processing my feelings, to making choices that give me more pleasure over time and more energy for life.
Oh, and on a very positive note, I ran another half marathon this past weekend, in the rain, in a garbage bag, and came in fourth for my age group! 1:53:19!! Not too shabby! I'm loving the half marathon distance and the community of runners. It's such a positive, life affirming activity, and I'm meeting great people!
Post race, wearing our "Ladies First" medals. I'm in the middle.
Crossing the finish line in the last half marathon.
Here is to new beginnings everyone!!
"Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning." Desmond Tutu
Monday, March 17, 2014
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” Emerson
This past week was very loaded for me. March 13 was the 6 month anniversary of my husband's death. March 15 was what should have been his 44th birthday. And on March 16th, I ran my first half marathon.
The sadness I experienced on my husband's birthday knocked me down. I cannot articulate the emptiness I felt inside and the extreme sense of loss and isolation that I felt. It was unbearable. My daughter and I hosted a cupcake party (cupcakes were my husband's favorite dessert (yellow cake with chocolate frosting to be specific)), to honor him and give her a chance to celebrate his day in a way that felt loving and joyful. So though inside I felt like crying and crawling up in a ball, on the outside I put on a smile and entertained his closest friends, former music students, and music colleagues. There was a lot of love and it was a beautiful event, but I found it very difficult.
And then I stayed up all night long. I have never suffered from insomnia, but that night I couldn't sleep a wink. I was overcome with grief, sadness for my daughter, and also anxiety about the half marathon I was about to run. I had never done one before and though I trained well, the temperatures were going to be really low and the race started early and I felt unsure of what to expect. Plus, the later it got, the more anxious I grew.
However, at 5AM, I put on my running clothes, and scarves, and mittens, and legwarmers, and layers and layers and layers, and a fleece blanket, ate a solid breakfast, laced up my sneakers, and met my best friend to do the run.
And I'm so happy to say that it was fantastic! The NYC Half Marathon, aptly called "Run for Life", starts in Central Park, and then goes through Times Square (which is shut down to traffic), along the West Side Highway, ending in the Financial District. There were bands playing all along the way, and when in life do you have Times Square all to yourself with no cars??? I felt so exhilarated and was so moved by all the spectators cheering us on, despite the cold.
I am now hooked. I love that distance and I loved the experience. So I've signed up for three more halves in the next two months and joined a track club. It feels like a wonderful way to embrace life.
The real champion...my beautiful little girl.
The Uses of Sorrow
by Mary Oliver
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
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