Take Care of You to Take Care of Others

15837s3rsga1hfaYesterday’s events in Connecticut may have left you reeling emotionally.

While it may feel selfish, now more than ever you need to focus on your own self-care.

This includes gently moving your body, getting enough rest, reaching for some highly nutritious foods, and taking some quiet time for meditation, prayer, or reflection.

And the number one thing you can do for your own wellness?

Ask for the support you need.

  • You may want to go it alone.
  • You may not feel comfortable asking for help.
  • You may be embarrassed by your emotions.

Much of holiday stress is feeling like you are in this alone.

And that’s a really tough, and painful road.

This is not the time to tough it out by yourself.

Study after study shows that having at least one person support you in meeting your wellness goals will dramatically increase your chances of success.

Having support helps you:

  • Normalize what you’re going through—You realize that everyone gets emotionally stressed, overwhelmed, overeats, and has moments of weakness. You are not a failure or a freak.
  • Notice and honor what you are doing for your self-care—Having someone to share the positive steps you are taking helps keep you motivated to take more steps.
  • Problem solve— You’ve got someone on your side who can see your situation more objectively and can help you brainstorm ways around any obstacles.
  • Re-find your inner peace—going it alone makes it easier to get caught in the negative thought spiral going on in your head. Having support helps break the inner patterns enabling you to refocus on the present and the blessings you have in your life.

Where can you find help?

  • Ask a friend or family member—Choose someone who is consistently positive, good at problem solving, and will be uplifting and inspiring.
  • Join a group—There are a number of on-line and in-person support groups. One such site is transformation.com. This incredible free community recognizes that emotions play a big role in wellness.
  • Hire a coach—Consider working one-on-one with a certified professional health or wellness coach who can help you stay focused on your self-care.
  • Go to a counselor–If your fear and grief are so intense that you are having trouble functioning, seek out the help of a professional counselor or therapist.

Taking care of yourself no matter what enables you to take care of others.

And if you have the inner resources to give, reach out to someone and offer unconditional support and encouragement—even love. The result is you both feel better—body, mind and spirit.

What can you do this weekend to reach out for—or give—support?

Having at least one person helping to cheer you on, boost morale, and problem solve will make it easier to take care of you, even in the face of really difficult circumstances.

Together we can do it!

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My blog is moving to my new website LoveYourWaySlim.com. For the next month, I will post both here and there. To keep following my posts after January 15, you will need to follow my new blog. I look forward to continuing the journey with you!

Are You Being Selfish if You Take Care of You?

christmas-meditatorAre you taking care of you?

Often women are reluctant to make caring for themselves a priority. This is particularly true during the holidays.

You may feel like there is just too much to do.

All the shopping, decorating, socializing, cooking, sending out holiday cards—the list goes on and on. Plus, you may be focused on creating a magical holiday experience for your kids and family.

You may feel that taking care of you is being selfish.

The Truth is that you have to take care of yourself first to have the stamina and energy to take care of others.

Ask yourself, “Are you the best partner, mom, daughter, friend you can be if you’re over-tired? How much harder is it to get everything on your to-do list done if you don’t feel physically well?”

A common response to the idea of establishing a routine of self-care that includes getting enough sleep, exercise, healthy foods, and quiet time for self-reflection or meditation is, “I don’t have time to do those things.”

The Truth is you don’t have time NOT to do them.

Making your self-care your highest priority—even if it’s only 15 minutes a day—will give you extra energy and vitality that will enable you to be the partner, mom, daughter, and friend you want to be.

And it helps you “do” more in the time you do have.

If you only have 10 to 15 minutes a day to take care of you, what should be highest priority?

If you can do just one thing, figure out how to move your body in some wayeven if it’s just 10 minutes a day.

Exercise is powerful medicine. The list of its benefits is long and incredible. Study after study shows that exercise plays an important role in promoting sound physical and mental-health, as well as emotional well-being  If the effects of exercise could be put in a pill, everyone would want to take it.

This doesn’t have to be a long, full-blown workout. Even going for a walk around the block makes a difference and provides stress relief. It could even be vigorous vacuuming! Get creative and count everything you do.

Other simple but powerful things you can do are:

  • Take 3 deep breaths. It sounds simple, but you’ll be amazed at the shift in energy it provides. And you can do this anytime, anywhere.
  • Meditate or sit quietly or take a bubble bath for 5 to 15 minutes. Quieting your mind for just a few minutes boosts physical energy, and also makes solutions easier to see.
  • Focus on appreciating not only the blessings in your life—but also of the people in your life. This is like blazing a mental trail for how you want your life and relationships to be.
  • Take a nap! Even 10 minutes can rev up your energy and help quiet the mental strain for the rest of the day.
  • Be picky about the treats you eat. Is it really calorie-worthy? Choose healthier foods or smaller portions—most of the time—and then really enjoy the treat you do eat.

These small actions boost your wellness and well-being—and your ability to be there for the people you love. 

Establish a simple and doable routine of self-care. Actually schedule it in your calendar and do your best to work everything else around it.

Make taking care of yourself your highest priority so you have the energy and vitality to take care of others.

Together we can do it!

Take a Step Towards the Healthy and Happy Holidays You Want

Decisions
T
here’s a lot of tempting food around this time of year.

Many of the women I work with feel out of control with their eating, or rebellious about holding back on holiday treats, or rationalize that “it’s just once a year.”

So you eat. And eat.

And then you mentally beat yourself up. 

We’re not talking about a little, “Oh, I shouldn’t have eaten that.”

What often happens is a full-blown attack

We’re talking guilt. You say things to yourself like:

  • “I am so weak.”
  • “I’m so stupid.”
  • “I’m ugly.”
  • “I’m fat.”
  • “I hate my body.” 

You say things that are totally and completely UNTRUE! You say things to yourself that you would never say to anyone else. 

And it is a painful place to be.

I love the Dan Millman quote:

“You began life with a natural, complete sense of worth. (Have you ever met an infant with self-worth issues?) But as you grow, you serve as your own judge, deducting points when you misunderstand the nature of living, and learning—when you forget you are a human-in-training and that making mistakes and having slips of integrity and mediocre moments are a part of life, not unforgivable sins.”

Let me repeat the key sentence:

“Making mistakes and having slips of integrity and mediocre moments are a part of life, not unforgivable sins.”

This absolutely includes eating what you judge to be “bad” over the holidays. Or not being at what you feel is your optimal weight. Or not looking like a super model.

Beating yourself up is NOT helpful.

And it could very well end up making you feel so bad that you just give-up trying to eat healthy until the New Year.

If you found yourself driving in the wrong direction, would you just keep going for weeks trying to find your destination? Would you tell yourself how horrible you are because you’re not there?

Would you say to yourself, “Oh well. I’m lost. I might as well just keep driving until January 2?”

Think of all the extra miles you would add-on to the trip, and the possible damage that could be done to your car?

You can make a different choice. 

And there are lots of options. You can:

  • Pull over and ask for directions.
  • Turn around right now.
  • Start driving in what you know is the right direction, and focus on enjoying the occasional detour.

Often you put off taking care of yourself until Monday, the first of the year, or some deadline that is later.

Then when you get there, you may do well for a couple of days, only to feel overwhelmed and deprived and find yourself back to your old eating and exercise habits.

What if, instead, you committed to eating just a little bit healthier today?

Or moving your body in some way for 10 minutes?

Or celebrated all that you did that was healthy, instead of the few things you didn’t do?

  • Would that feel like you were headed in the right direction?
  • Would your self-talk be more supportive?
  • Would that make it easier to keep going tomorrow? Next week? On January 2? 

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

Don’t just keep driving in the wrong direction by putting off eating healthy and exercising until everything is perfect.

The only perfect time to start taking care of yourself is right now. Even if it’s just one tiny step towards the body—and life—you want.

Together we can do it!

The 3 Keys to My Personal Transformation

From August 1, 2008 to August 1, 2009, I went from wearing a size 8 and running and working out regularly to busting out of size 14 pants and not working out at all.

After years of consistent exercise, I couldn’t believe I was starting over from scratch–again.

I was really struggling with getting back on track.

“Before” photo taken October 2009

While I hated where I was, I just couldn’t seem to find the energy to pull myself out of bed in the morning and move.

Three things were key to my turning around that situation.

  1. Accountability. Support is vital. Having a friend, coach, or group to turn to is huge!
  2. Progress not perfection. Counting every single thing you do during the day that could even be remotely considered part of a healthy lifestyle builds positive momentum.
  3. Mindset training. Shifting your thoughts from hating where you are to focusing on why you want to be fit, strong, and slim is the true secret to long-term weight-loss success. 

Here’s how I did it.

My friend, Julia, was my first accountability partner and we checked in with each other every day to cheer each tiny success and reframe any “stumble.” (Thank you, Julia! I couldn’t have done it without you!)

I set small, attainable goals for how much time I would move my body. Starting with a goal of just 10 minutes a day, I counted walking the dogs, vigorous vacuuming, and even a long walk across a parking lot to my car. I literally counted anything and everything that involved moving. A few weeks of meeting that minimal goal and I bumped it up to 20 minutes, and so on.

And I wrote out all the reasons I wanted to be fit, strong, and slim on index cards—and I read them everyday to retrain my brain while I was retraining my body.

Changing my mindset, focusing on my success, and having a supportive person to report my successes to made all the difference in the world.

Today, I love my body and life more than I thought possible!

I regularly work out vigorously for 25 to 60 minutes, six mornings a week. I eat healthy foods most of the time, and I wear between a size 4 and 6. And I’ve kept the weight off now for more than two years!

“After: photo taken November 10, 2012. Photo by Lindsay A. Miller

I didn’t get here overnight. But by slowly and steadily making those small decisions towards a healthier me, I built momentum and achieved my goals.

And you can do it, too.

If you are already working out regularly, awesome! How can you push yourself just a little bit further?

If you are changing your energetic momentum towards a healthier you:

  • What is the minimum you can do today that will make you feel like you are making progress?
  • What are the reasons you want to be fit, strong, and slim?
  • Who can you turn to get the necessary support and accountability?

Just consistently making those small decisions to move in the direction of who you want to be will help you achieve the body—and life—you want.

Together we can do it!

Transforming Your Mind to Get the Body—and Life—You Want

I try to practice what I preach.

While I’m far from perfect, my self-care is a priority. Most of the time, I eat healthy food, make meditation and moving my body a part of my daily routine, and strive to get adequate sleep.

And I focus on appreciating myself and what I contribute to the world.

But I got a strong message yesterday during a Reiki session that I’m not following the advice I give to my clients. That I’m not being as gentle with myself as I could be, that I’m letting old fear get in the way of showing up as my fullest and brightest self—as Who I really am—and that I’m not fully loving myself.

I’ve come a long way, but clearly I have more work to do!

The good news—and what I tell my clients—is that every layer of fear, resistance, and self-judgment that we let go of makes our lives better and better. And we never finish finding new layers that we have the opportunity to release.

Bottom line: the better life gets, the better it can get.

And honestly, the message I received wasn’t that surprising.

  • I’m aware of how self-critical I can be when my eating is less than perfect, which has been more frequent in the past few weeks.
  • I’m aware of the judgments that can still come when I look in the mirror.
  • I’m aware of holding my loving and exuberant-self back from dancing down the street—and many other things—out of fear of what other people will think.
  • I’m aware that how I express myself in my dress and physical appearance is based on old rules and other’s expectations.
  • I’m aware of the fear of judgment I have because I’m guiding women to love their way slim—and I am not as slim as I could be. There is definitely a part of me that feels like I need to have 8 percent body fat and be ripped to be a legitimate example. I see the coaches who are that, and I negatively compare myself.

Just imagine all the layers I’m not aware of!

So as I encourage you to do the work to transform your mind to get the body you want, know that I’m doing the same. That I’m focused on peeling those catabolic inner layers because that is Who I want to be and how I want to live my life.

  • I want to be gentle and easy with myself.
  • I want to feel good about each decision I make.
  • I want to look in the mirror and bask in appreciation and love.
  • I want to fully be me and express myself.
  • I want to be confident in the value that I am providing each of you fabulous readers and to my amazing clients.

No matter what. From exactly where I am.

I’m not perfect, but I am willing to do the work.

How about you?

Together we can do it!