Posted by: Brenda | March 16, 2012

Day 12: One Day At a Time

This morning was full of exercise classes. I did not go to the 7am stretch class, as I am on day 3 of fighting off the sinus congestion and it’s finally moved into my nasal passage (hopefully that means it’s on its last legs). It’s rainy and blah today, so I haven’t done much other than resting. I did run to Rite-Aid to get some tissues w/ lotion because my nose is all red and sore.

I’m hoping that I feel better tomorrow because I want to do at least one of the morning exercises. I’m not sure what else I’m going to do with my weekend, at this point it all depends on how I’m feeling. As for next week, it will be my 3rd week here and my focus is going to be on how I see myself.

I’m great at donning masks and making everyone think I’m this happy, vibrant person. For the most part I am, but the way I see myself is much darker than what those around me see. Eating healthier and moving more are great aspirations, but I need to make myself see that I am not just some fat, lazy cow. I really need to start believing in myself again and that is probably going to be the hardest part of my journey. I’m hoping that when I go home in 2 weeks I am on my way to seeing myself in a brighter light.

Posted by: Brenda | March 16, 2012

Day 11: Stress and Body Positivity

I’m still dealing with a lovely head cold, so I haven’t done much in the way of exercise today (other than stairs), but I have been to a couple of good classes. We had one this morning on Finding Your Fitness Style and went over what sorts of things we’ll continue to do when we go home. For me there were several: Tai Chi, upper body strength, lower body on a fitball, and others. It was recommended that we keep a mix of Cardio, Strength and Flexibility training to keep our bodies working optimally.

Later on in the morning, we had a class on Stress in Relationships. I think all women could use this one! We learned that there are four main stress triggers in relationships (whether with ourselves or another person): expectations, communication, mind-reading and visualization. We were taught one way to express our feelings was through something simple, such as: “I feel ____(feeling) when you ____(specific description) and what I want is ____(specific description).” My example is: I feel scared when you ask if I’ve lost weight and what I want is to not discuss it.

During the class this morning, I brought up something that I never tell anyone. It makes me extremely uncomfortable when people ask if I’ve lost weight or tell me I look good. I can honestly trace every weight gain from the last 10 years back to someone who made a comment on my body or weight. It dawned on me that I’ve used weight to make myself invisible.

This afternoon we had a Body Positivity class and learned that I can’t just focus on the “if’s” (like “If I was skinnier…”). I need to focus on what I am able to do right now in the body I have. Self-compassion is a completely foreign concept to me and is something I am going to have to work on every day (through affirmations and other techniques I’ve picked up). I also learnt that I can’t just ignore the negative self-talk and the first step to changing it is to acknowledge it. Perhaps saying to myself something like “Thank you. I’m going to experiment with a new way.” Then following up with a positive self-statement like “What’s one thing I appreciate about my body?” or an affirmation.

Posted by: Brenda | March 14, 2012

Day 10: Tai Chi and Nurturing Yourself

This morning when I got up and looked outside, I saw the bottom half of Okemo mountain shrouded in fog and frost covering the ground. It looked like a beautiful pre-dawn fairyland. Before I could enjoy it too much, however, we had Tai Chi at 7am. I think I would have enjoyed it more if my left calf wasn’t bothering me so much this morning. I’m pretty sure it was the 45-minute walk I did yesterday afternoon (it was so nice outside).

I’m so glad my room overlooks the front lawn area, because there’s a couple of chipmunks out there scampering around this morning, and I could swear they’re looking at me. It’s yet another sign that Spring is here and the world is coming back to life, renewed. It would be a lot nicer if I wasn’t starting to get a cold. I sound like a frog this morning, but only my sinuses are congested (as opposed to my nasal passage). I’m going to try to take it easy on the exercise today, as I don’t want to overdo it and make my body feel worse than it does now.

This afternoon’s class was on nurturing the whole self (Body, Mind, Heart, Spirit/Creative) and it was recommended to have 2-3 strategies in each category for when we need that nurturing. Which us women so readily give to everyone but ourselves. I listed some suggestions below from the list my class came up with.

Body:

  • Exercise
  • Progressive Relaxation
  • Massage
  • Stretch
  • Petting your pet (if you have one)
  • Knitting/Crochet

Mind:

  • Reading
  • Meditation
  • Affirmations
  • Journaling
  • Puzzles
  • Daydreaming

Heart:

  • Music
  • Talking to someone
  • Hug
  • Singing
  • Movies that allow the emotion to flow (like tear-jerkers)

Spirit/Creative:

  • Networking
  • Prayer/Meditation
  • Nature
  • Dance
  • Volunteering

We also learned methods for how to reduce procrastination. The first one is saying to yourself “I can do anything for one minute.” If that’s not enough, setting a timer for 5-10 minutes and then deciding if you want to stop or if you want to continue with whatever it is you were procrastinating on.

As for me, personally, I’m hoping that I can get rid of the sinus congestion I’ve had all day. I feel like I drank a gallon of Peppermint tea today and plan on taking a dose of Nyquil before bed so I can sleep. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds!

Posted by: Brenda | March 13, 2012

Day 9: Inner Voices

We started the day with exercise as usual, getting the lower body workout in right after breakfast. Our 3rd class of the day was on listening to your inner voice. So few women do this in a positive light (myself included). One thing that will stick with me is: “You have to be in charge of your thinking, instead of your thinking being in charge of you.” We learned five ways to create space for ourselves and they are:

  1. Environmental boundary (creating a place of your own – whether it’s a room, or just a chair with a pile of your favorite novels next to it)
  2. Breathe
  3. Take two steps back (in your mind) to distance yourself from the reactive response and two steps up (in your mind) to give you perspective
  4. Go to the bathroom – give yourself permission to leave
  5. Meditation/Mindful Practice (even if it’s just once a week)

This afternoon we had another class on feeding the seven hungers (those are: eye, nose, mouth, stomach, cellular, mind and heart). We went over ways to feed each type of hunger (such as incense or flowers for nose hunger). One thing that seems like common sense is to check in with your body before looking a menu when dining out.

This evening we had a class on whole grains and learned that refined grains lose 11 vitamins and minerals during processing, but only 5 are added back in. So any foods containing “enriched” ingredients means the nutrients were removed and only a few put back. Eating a variety of whole grains is better for you. I may try some new grains when I get back home. I know one thing we’ve had here was a Millet cake (which really needed some flavor). I’d never even heard of Millet before coming here.

A good resource to learn about grains is the Whole Grains Council. We had one resource recommended for recipes: Whole Foods.

Posted by: Brenda | March 12, 2012

Day 8: Monday, Monday

The morning was filled with exercise classes for those of us on week 2. I attended the 7am movement class and the one right after breakfast, but with my leg starting to bother me again I didn’t go to the 3rd one. I’ve been exhausted from the moment I woke up this morning and I think a lot of that is due to the time change yesterday (damn Daylight Savings).

This afternoon we had a lecture on Healing with Foods and learned that The Environmental Working Group (EWG) posts a list every year of the “Dirty Dozen” foods that contain the highest amount of pesticides and also keeps a list of the 15 least-contaminated. We also learned that grass-fed/grass-finished meat is the healthiest option. I will definately be checking out various companies online before I go home to determine what products I will buy in the grocery stores. I think I am also going to go to Farmer’s Markets a lot more starting this year as well.

Posted by: Brenda | March 10, 2012

Day 6: Road Trip

This morning we had 3 exercise class options and I only went to the 9am lower body strength training. That class alone was enough to do my left leg in and I wasn’t about to do 2 more hours of movement that required standing. I knew this afternoon that I’d planned to go to Rutland with 3 other women. We just returned about 20 minutes ago, but it was such a fun afternoon. Although, I’m paying for it with leg pain now, but the walking was good for me. I’m also proud of myself for not buying any candy or junk food even though I got hungrier as the afternoon wore on.

This evening I may just relax and give my left leg a break since I’ve done so much exercise this past week and it starts all over again at 7am on Monday. Tomorrow they don’t have any planned exercise classes, but I will probably go up early and work out on the fitball, just to get some movement in.

Posted by: Brenda | March 9, 2012

Day 5: Fun, Self-Respect and Crochet

This morning was all about movement. We had a 7am community stretch class where we each picked our favorite stretches and led the class on it. After breakfast, there was an upper body strength class, and some of things we did included rowing with a dyna-band, bicep curls and lateral raises. Near the end they made us count our own repetitions, which reinforced that we won’t always have an instructor. The upper body class was followed by cardio, and I chose the option to go for a walk outside. It was nice to get into an activity that I used to enjoy a lot, but after about 30 minutes my left leg really started to hurt, so I had to come back in.

After lunch was another stress management to teach assertiveness skills. I learned that as stress, illness and tiredness increase, our self-care decreases, but at each moment you have the possibility to step in again. We were also encourage to write down statements starting with “I can respect myself by _.” Some of mine were:

  • I can respect myself by repeating affirmations
  • I can respect myself by listening to my body
  • I can respect myself by giving myself permission to walk away from a stressful situation (even if only to gather my thoughts and breath)

Right before dinner, a bunch of us went up to the exercise room and the ladies got on fitballs with hand weights and sat like they were riding motorcycles. I snapped several photos and one of the ladies here is going to have someone photoshop a road in, so it looks like we’re on the open road! I will post the photos once I get home and have my own computer, but it was so much fun.

After dinner this evening we went to a local shop called 6 Loose Ladies for a Beginner’s Crochet class. I learned to crochet several years ago, but have not done so for a long time. I thought the opportunity would be great to get back into a hobby that fell by the wayside. I bought a couple skeins of yarn and plan on making a toddler blanket for my sister’s 3 year-old son.

Posted by: Brenda | March 8, 2012

Day 4: Mindfulness Reinforced

This morning we had a morning movement class at 7am. I’ve never been one for fitness classes because I feel like I can’t keep up, and this morning was no different. About half-way through my left leg (which has nerve damage) really started to hurt and I could feel myself getting frustrated to the point where I wanted to cry because I couldn’t keep up. So, I did something I would never have done prior to my stay here and talked to our instructor after the class. She made some suggestions that I think will enable me to enjoy the class a little more and not feel like I have to keep up with everyone, like using a fitball for the cardio portions that involve a lot of leg movement. It’s little things like this that I can take home with me, so I can keep doing these exercises when I leave in another 3 1/2 weeks.

I went to a lower body conditioning class after breakfast, and again found myself being frustrated. My brain is wired to view it as a competition and trying to keep up just frustrates me to the point I don’t want to go back. I need to re-wire that part of my brain so I see it as one of the fitness instructors put it yesterday: “My pace is the pace.” It’s definitely going to take time because I’m not used to thinking that way. I want so bad to be able to keep up and do things when my body can’t. Listening to my body is not easy for me when my brain is telling me something completely different. One other thing I need to start reminding myself is that something is better than nothing. Hopefully, as the weeks go on, remembering these affirmations will become more and more frequent and I will stop feeling like I have to keep up.

At lunch, we had a silent meal so we could focus more on the food and each bite. I can honestly say it is the first time in my life I’ve actually “tasted” cucumber. Normally, I just shovel it in without really paying attention to what I’m eating. It was actually really nice, because I stopped eating long before I normally would. I think perhaps it might be something I try to incorporate once a week when I go home (maybe at lunchtime in the office). I know one other thing my family will be proud of is that I tried another new food today: Black Bean Soup…and it was Yummy!

This afternoon we had a class on affirmations and found that one thing I could do when eating down my emotions is to stop and ask myself “Is there anything that could help me feel better right now?” I also learned that doing affirmations in front of a mirror can be a good way to go, because when the negative self-talk starts up you turn away and repeat your chosen affirmation(s) and then turn back to the mirror. You can repeat that as many times as you need. One other thing I never realized is that it takes saying an affirmation 300 times for it to create a new neural pathway through your brain. However, the interruption of the negative is more important than the affirmation.

We all wrote down 3 positive self statements. The first one starts with “One thing I like about myself is _” followed by “One thing I am good at is _” and finally “I am _.” So my three positive statements were:

  • One thing I like about myself is my caring nature
  • One thing I am good at is singing
  • I am human

I think taking the time to just realize these three things about myself is almost like an affirmation in itself. I just have to remember to take the time to do it every day.

Posted by: Brenda | March 7, 2012

Day 3: Melting Snow and Emotions

This morning we had pumpkin muffins for breakfast…so good! I went snowshoeing for the first time this morning after a Pilates class. I’m not sure I will do Pilates again, as I found it very difficult and it hurt my tailbone with some of the positions. I’m looking forward to this evenings Stress Management class on “Making sleep work for you.” I am really glad I got the snowshoeing in this morning, as the snow has started to melt like crazy. I don’t know that it will still be here come next week. At this point, I’m thinking that next winter, I may invest in a pair for myself, so I can get out into nature during all seasons.

Right after lunch, we had a lecture on emotions that lead you to eat. The one quote I will take away from it is “The win is in the small step” and that acknowleding that small step is important for the bigger wins. I also got several strategies out of the class for handling emotions without turning to food:

  • Externalize emotions in a way that is safe for you (maybe through a punching bag, or swinging/rocking)
  • Music
  • Writing gratitude weekly
  • Finding things that inspire you

One thing I have noticed yesterday and today, is that after the classes dealing with emotional eating I came straight back to my room to “digest” the information as opposed to heading to the next exercise class. I think having that time to really think on the class afterwards is helpful for me, because I’m afraid to forget it all. I think that’s another reason having this blog is a good thing. It allows me to keep track of what I’ve learned, so I can go back and re-read it later (and it’s so much easier than hand-writing 10 pages in a journal).

I attended the “Making Sleep Work for You” lecture this evening and learned something I did not know. The human body temperature rises a couple of degrees around 3am (which can explain those early morning “wake-ups”). Speaking of waking in the middle of the night, I never thought about practicing meditation if I couldn’t fall back asleep. For some reason, my brain associated meditation with daytime. It was also suggested that we experiment to figure out what does and doesn’t work for us.

Posted by: Brenda | March 6, 2012

Day 2: Sore Muscles and New Foods

Wow, do my thigh muscles hurt today. I joined in the 7am exercise class before breakfast and later in the morning took part in a Cardio on Fitball class. I think that’s about all the exercise I can handle for today if I want to still be able to walk back to my room tonight.

I think the lecture we just had on stress management and positive self-talk is going to be the most difficult part for me to work on. I just don’t know if I can be kind to myself after so many years of self-hatred and putting myself last in everything. Breaking down those barriers is probably going to be the absolute hardest thing I have ever done. I’ve been down the diet and exercise path before, and done well at it – for a while. In the end, I always end up back to square one because I never actually focused on the root issue.

The lecture we had this afternoon focused on identifying your eating behaviors and the one suggestion that I will probably take home with me is the “cookie jar.” Basically, you write out alternatives on slips of paper and place them in a container. The only rule is that your alternatives cannot be food related. Then when you’re bored or emotional, you pick one and do that instead of eating. In the beginning, it’s going to be difficult, so the main focus should be more on becoming concious of when you are eating your emotions.

I think knowing that it is ok to have the junk food, but just be aware of why I’m eating it and whether I’m physically hungry will make it easier over time. I know one other tactic I’ll be taking home with me is eating at the table and not have the “distraction” of a TV, computer, or video game.

Also, I’ve tried several new foods already:

  • Tempeh (I still have no idea what it actually is) wasn’t bad, but was very bland
  • Parsnip – I could take it or leave it, it was more bland than the Tempeh, but wasn’t so disgusting I won’t eat it again
  • Cole slaw, made with some type of vinegar – the vinegar was way too strong for my liking, so I only had a couple bites
  • Zucchini, which I really did not care for – so instead I had a small side salad with my dinner

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