Every few months the cleaning bug seems to hit me, and I start a massive purging of the stuff I’ve managed to accumulate over the days and months.
During one of these deep cleaning sessions, I found a box of journals I’d kept. I began flipping through journals from several years ago, and realized even though time had passed I hadn’t really changed all that much.
I decided then and there I didn’t want to let more time to pass without growing. I didn’t want to just be going through the motions of pretending to do better. I had been reading all the best personal development books, but realized very little had really changed in my life.
There was a brief moment of failure that flashed through my mind as I realized I had spent months and even years reliving the same heartbreak or the same struggle. What a waste of precious time. I began to wonder if I could actually change?
I was doing the same things day after day, yet expecting different results (reminds me a little of my time as a chronic dieter too…), for the first time, I’d seen I was basically just pretending to ‘do the work’. You can’t read a book, go to a seminar, buy a course and expect to be different. You must dig in-deep, and do the work. This lesson applies to nearly every area of your life. It’s not enough to just show up. First you show up, then you do the work.
At one point or another, you’ve probably heard the saying “You can’t do the same thing and expect things to be different”, yet time and time again we find ourselves trying that same strategy.
Here’s the thing though, you won’t solve your problems with the same thinking and behavior that created those problems.
For me, during this deep cleaning sesh, I was forced to confront myself in a way I don’t think I ever had. A new sense of self-awareness emerged. Ultimately, it was that self awareness that was the key to sparking actual change in my life.
Look at the bigger picture
The first step I took was back. I had to get a bird’s eye view of what I had been doing, and how I had been going about ‘it’ (in this case it was personal development, but for you the ‘it’ might be weight loss, might be creating boundaries around your time, etc). What was working about it, what wasn’t?
Instead of the outside in approach–simply utilizing strategies or reading more books, I needed to take an inside out approach. I had to take a hard look at my behaviors (despite what I might had been telling myself) and my values.
Subconsciously there was a disconnect between what I was truly believing and what I was doing. The way I was acting wasn’t supporting the things I said I wanted.
It’s like telling yourself this time will be different, but taking the same approach.
You can’t just change the method, you have to also change yourself–the way you think, what you believe, and then what you do.
Let’s be real though, behaviors and thoughts are hard to change. There are times we find ourselves slipping back into that old way of thinking or doing things. We have to be vigilant to guard our minds the old patterns.
Instead of looking at this as something with a finish line, take the posture of practice. Show up daily looking for ways you can practice following through, showing up, and growing.
Once I found the disconnect, I was able to create connection between what I said and what I did. Creating alignment between what I said I wanted and what I was doing to actually create the change I wanted to see allowed me to live with integrity. Which ultimately led to more confidence and self-respect.
I wish you could grasp what it’s felt like to go from being unaware and pretending to self aware and actually doing. That alone was a huge boost to my confidence. I mean, you can experience it for yourself too. By becoming more self aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions you are able to decide whether or not you’re acting in line with the woman you want to be or not.
Action is what creates results. We don’t get results from pretending. We get results from actually digging in and doing the hard work, and calling your own bluff.
PS. Ready to do things differently, but not quite sure where to start? I got you. Start doing life The Strong[HER] Way by doing life a little differently. Get strategies, tools, and find community by signing up below.
What lies or excuses are you willing to give up to become who you want to be? Because here’s the thing, you can’t hold onto your excuses or the BS story you keep telling yourself, and be the woman you were created to be.
The other day I was on a walk with my dog, Pepper. She’s not the best at the game fetch, and truthfully would probably rather I chase her or play tug of war with the stick instead of her retrieving it for me.
To get around this, I will throw one stick and then another one so she’s alternating between the two sticks, because when I do this, she has to *choose* between the two sticks. She can’t have both at the same time—even though she does try.
While we were playing this ridiculous version of fetch the other day I thought about how often, this is how we try to live our lives …we want to change, to grow, to become the better version of ourselves, but we aren’t fully ready to let go of the things we know we need to in order to reach that next level.
Time to rip off the band-aid and get to work
We try all of these outside in approaches to ‘fix’ ourselves–meal plans, diets, new workout programs, new planners and time management strategies, but we don’t take a hard enough look at what’s really going on inside.
If you want to create lasting change in any area of your life whether it’s getting to a body you feel comfortable and confident in or it’s building a better relationship with your partner, you have to take the inside out approach.
The problem we often face though is the ‘quick fix’ mentality. We are desperate for change, for relief, for better, so out of desperation we will try anything that promises quick change. Quick fixes don’t really fix anything long-term. And they are no more than a band-aid approach to something that may need a deeper level healing.
You can’t have it both ways, you can’t operate using the same system or foundations you have been and get where you want to go, you have to be willing to let go of the lies, habits, and behaviors that aren’t serving the future version of yourself you are trying to create. You’ve gotta shift your perspective.
Find your North Star
I believe you are the best expert when it comes to your life. Only you can truly decide what matters most to you. So instead of looking for the next guru or expert to tell you how to spend your time, what you should look like, and who you should be…look in the mirror. Ask yourself those questions, and then wait for the answers to come. When they do, they will point you in the direction of your own personal North Star.
You can only do this by knowing yourself well. Knowing your deepest desires and dreams. What are the things that excite you? What are your non-negotiables?
If you could snap your fingers and be the ‘dream version of yourself’ what would she feel about herself? How would she show up in her life–relationships, work, etc? Who would she be?
Your roadmap to your North Star
Once you have the vision in your mind and in your heart, you can then draw up a plan. Reverse engineer the vision to figure out what you need to start doing differently in your own life to get you closer to your North Star.
For example, if you want to be known as being dependable, you must define that first for yourself so you have clear actions to take–does it mean you’re on time? Does it mean you’re prepared? Does it mean you do what you say you’ll do?
Then (and this might be the most important part) you must realize you have to be dependable for yourself FIRST before you can be that for others, because how you do anything is how you do everything, so if you’re not first dependable to yourself, how will you be for the other things that matter to you?
I get it, the band-aid solution seems so much easier. Just like my dog, Pepper had a hard time deciding which stick she wanted more, and which she was willing to let go of, we too, run into the tough decision of leaving who we were behind so we can grab hold of what and who we can be. This is a decision we will have to make moment by moment.
Let go of the stick that doesn’t serve you, and take a firm hold of the one that does will bring a weird sense of freedom to your life. It’s as if your heart knows you are now acting in alignment with what you were meant to be doing instead of going after someone else’s idea of good enough.
Once you have identified your North Star and the actions you must take to get there, you will have the blueprint in hand to live your life unapologetically, authentically showing up as yourself.
This frees you up to be a woman of your word to yourself first and foremost, which is what allows you to be that woman to the world around you. Making lasting change in your life starts to feel easier, more doable. Which is far better than trying another quick fix and being defeated yet again.
Do the tough work, my friend. You are worth it, and the world needs you to be who you were created to be.
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Think about the first time you ‘knew’ you needed to lose weight.. or even thought about losing weight? Chances are you were pretty young. And if you weren’t the one struggling with your weight, you knew a woman you who was and still probably is.
Here’s the truth: you don’t need to lose weight to feel what you want to feel about yourself.
But, you must to take care of yourself like you matter.
Which is something I don’t see women doing very often. For many women, their needs get pushed to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list while they are busy taking care of everyone else. After a while of neglecting themselves, they forget who they are. And they don’t like what they see when they look in the mirror.
This is usually when the typical dieting behavior kicks in. The fantasies about what life would be like if they just lost those last 10 pounds or if they were a bit more “toned” fill their minds.
They try to beat their bodies into submission via strict diets aka “healthy lifestyles” and crazy workouts.
A new way to ‘self-care’
Weight loss is highly celebrated and elevated in our culture. Comments like ‘you look good, have you lost weight?’ only further the idea that weight loss = health and that health looks a certain way–no matter what it took to get there.
Instead of following the traditional model of health that focuses solely on weight loss and fearful thoughts around food..
Move your body.
Talk to yourself like you love yourself.
…before you’ve lost the weight.
Do it from a place of compassion, love, and a desire to take care of you the way you take care of others. Not because you fear that looking a certain way will be the only way you can earn love or acceptance from others.
Do it because you know and believe you were created for a purpose and you can’t do it if you are exhausted, and are beating your body up with lifestyle choices that aren’t serving you.
Your mind needs a makeover
1. Give your thoughts a makeover. Notice the words you use to talk about yourself and your body.
What kinds of feelings or emotions do those thoughts evoke for you? If it’s negative, you gotta change that pronto.
2. Change your thoughts- first notice the thoughts you think about yourself NOW, what result is that producing for you?
Then choose new thoughts to think. Yes, you get to pick what you think about. You don’t have to be at the mercy of the mean girl living between your ears.
3. Take care of yourself NOW, not when you’ve lost the weight–what does YOUR healthy lifestyle look like?
Instead of following someone else’s plan for your healthy lifestyle, create your own. There are many ways you can move your body–find a way that works for you.
And aside from a few key nutrition habits, you don’t need to follow a meal plan or specific diet despite popular information found all over Google.
Prepare for battle
We are immersed in diet culture, there is no denying it. Depending on how steeped in it you are, you may have a hard time shutting the inner diet police down. The thoughts and feelings of inadequacy or disgust because of your weight, size, or shape will mostly likely creep back in.
Stand guard against those thoughts.
Here are some strategies you can use to wage war against the diet fueled thoughts:
- Write out the new thoughts you want to think about yourself. You can put them on post it notes around the house or in your car.
- Come up with new ways to describe yourself that have zero to do with how you look.
- Talk to yourself as if you were talking to someone you really loved.
- Remember you don’t have love the way your body looks, but you don’t have to hate it either. Practice body neutrality.
- List out what your body can do now, and what it allows you to do.
As you continue on your journey of leaving the weight obsessed world behind, you will find you’re less stressed, life feels less chaotic, and you’ll have more energy for the things that you *actually* care about.
You’ll be making choices about your body, food, eating, and exercise from a place of care rather than duty, obligation, or penance.
You won’t be eating better or exercising in order to feel good enough, you’ll be doing those things because you already know you are..
If you’re ready to make the next move in your life, and you’re not sure how to start, I’ve got you. The Mindful Eating Project is open now, click the link to fill out the application!
Fitness. For as long as any of us can probably remember, we’ve been working on improving our health or our fitness in one way or another. Usually in the form of ‘cleaning up’ our diets, cutting calories and entire food groups, and working out until we couldn’t walk the next day.
Fitness once represented a healthy ideal about the ways in which we ought to take care of our bodies. However, it seems there is much more to this word than seemingly meets the eye.
As a woman who has been on both ends of the spectrum–being extremely unhealthy to a woman who was (in every way) living the ‘fit’ lifestyle I can see the dangers on both ends.
After nearly 18 months of recovery from the mainstream fitness mindset I’ve rounded up the top 11 reasons to avoid mainstream fitness. If you’re bruised and battered from a life lived in the pursuit of ‘fitness’, it’s time your mindset got a makeover…
11 Reasons to Avoid Mainstream Fitness
- Both the problem and coincidentally the supposed solution too.
- Focuses on weight as (often the only) indicator of health regardless of what you had to do to lose the weight.
- Makes health, fitness, wellness available to a narrow number of people aka only those who can afford the time, energy, and money for the things diet culture claims are healthy. If you’re a single mom working two jobs, how in the world are you supposed to afford the latest superfood and gym membership?
- Further exploits women and takes their power. At the end of the day, many women are still chasing the fit ideal, not necessarily their ideal body. They’re slaves to food scales, calorie counting, and the next best diet to hit the market. Sadly, many women come running with their wallets open and their credit card out to buy the next fix. It’s a rare form of slavery—one in which we choose.
- Places value on what you look like and what you do instead of who you are. And in many ways promotes similar behavior as those with eating disorders.
- Promotes disordered eating behaviors–obsessive food thoughts, thinking about calories and macros, and food phobia.
- Creates fear and anxiety around food, eating, and your body.
- Adds to pressure already felt by women to be all the things to everyone. Not only do we need to ‘good’ wives and moms, we also need to do it in the hottest body ever. Maybe there is more to life than walking around in a near perfect body?
- Feeds on comparison. Which by the way, is a massive driving factor in body dissatisfaction–the diet industry knows that. If they can create a problem (flawed bodies, obesity, etc), then losing weight and getting toned are obvious answers.
- Shames the ‘before’ body and glorifies only the ‘after’ body.
- The ‘after’ photo–it’s not always better. In fact, most of your problems are still your problems even if you’re in a size 4.
Hear this, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy, there is everything wrong about the obsession we have with health, wellness, and the pursuit of the perfect body.
For many of us who have been chasing the pursuit of mainstream fitness ideals, we might be weary and feel a sense of relief at the idea of completely ditching the behaviors that drove our unhealthy obsessions around food, exercise, and our bodies. For others we might be leery of the ideas mentioned above.
Don’t abandon the behaviors you know in your heart to be taking care of you, helping you become the best version of yourself.
But 100% DO abandon the notion you have to lose a certain amount of weight, adopt a specific diet, or beat yourself up in the gym to obtain your fit lifestyle. Consume information on fitness through a critical eye, and start making decisions for yourself.
After all, only you know what’s best for you. So it’s time to step up and take ownership of that responsibility. It is truly the only way you will be able to be the woman you were created to be, and do what only you were created to do.
4 out of 5 women are unsatisfied with how they look in some way. Why are women so worried about how they look anyway?
It’s not uncommon to hear yourself or one of your friends mention some part of their body they’d happily exchange or elect to chop off if it made them smaller, curvier, or more attractive.
This kind of talk is an epidemic in our culture. We’ve totally normalized this self-loathing chatter. Heck, it is something many of us bond over.
Not only is this kind of talk a total waste of time and energy, it’s also destructive.
You’re probably not surprised to hear body dissatisfaction is linked to higher rates of eating disorders, disordered eating, depression, and low self-esteem.
Which when writing that, kind of seems like a no-brainer.. However, I don’t think I had ever realized just how much it impacted me until I wasn’t thinking about or talking about my body in such a hateful and negative way.
Low self esteem often leads to a lack of belief in oneself. It is not entirely uncommon that women let their weight or what they look like stop them from going after the promotion they want or the man they have had their eye on.
They avoid speaking up. Avoid putting themselves out there in any way that would draw attention to them. At all costs they try not to be seen or heard because they feel ashamed they don’t measure up to someone else’s idea of beautiful.
It is crazy to think even now, we believe it’s because of our weight we’re not worthy of love, success, or happiness.
What’s with the obsession of the ‘perfect’ body anyway?
This desire for the perfect body is led by fear. We want desperately to fit in, and belong. Our basic human need is love. Unfortunately often we associate being able to be loved with being perfect.
The irony is, none of us are perfect, yet we still strive for that standard anyway.
On the surface we fear not fitting in or not belonging.
We fear being judged by others, and standing out (in a bad way).
Inside though, the fear is we’re not good enough.
We’re afraid to be failures.
If we don’t have the perfect body something is wrong with us..we’re somehow broken.
We’re unhappy with how we feel about ourselves, so we try to fix it with diets, workouts, weight loss. And strangely we are unhappy doing that too. It almost seems like we’re fighting a battle we can’t win.
Darned if you do and darned if you don’t.
Enough is enough…
As long as we choose to put our value and worth in the scale or weight loss we will always be unhappy. There will never be a point where you can just relax. You’re either stressing about losing the weight or you’re stressing about keeping the weight off. It’s never enough.
Despite the chatter you hear in your own head or at happy hour with the girls, hating your body or even disliking your body is not normal. Nor is it healthy.
It most certainly is not serving you in any way. We can’t make long term change from a place of self-hatred. It just won’t work. Instead, we must decide to change because we know we were created for more–more love, more success, more joy.
Draw a line in the sand, and get to work
First step in the healing process is realize how unhealthy and how abnormal it is to hate your body.
Decide to stop picking on yourself. Instead choose the same kindness and compassion you would give to your best friend or your kids.
Stop engaging in conversation that tears you down (with friends, peers, and especially in your own mind.)
Choose gratitude. Even if you don’t at first glance see there is anything beautiful about your body. Be obsessively grateful for what your body has carried your though. What it’s allowed you to do/ accomplish.
Take care of yourself. Put you on your to-do list. Prioritize your self care.
Realize self-care is more than eating kale or taking a bubble bath. It’s about radically showing up as the woman you were created to be, to do the work only you were created to do.
The problem is…
Cultural and social conditioning are like noxious weeds– hard to kill.
You have to be ruthlessly committed to a new way of thinking about you and taking care of you ( this means your habits need an upgrade, your thoughts need an upgrade, and your actions do too)
The work is simple, it’s not easy. It’s a daily practice.
The sweet taste of victory, and not giving a ….
You realize what people think of you doesn’t matter near as much as what you think of you.
When you let go of the outcome (ie weight loss), and embrace who you are in this moment, you show up differently in your relationships, in your work, in your life. You realize that you can be just as happy now while working on where you want to go.
You put yourself out into the world knowing not all people will accept you or get you. But that’s not your problem, it’s theirs.
You belong to yourself, and therefore can be anywhere and be confident.
Instead of playing small, holding yourself back you’re chasing the dreams in your heart.
Instead of hiding until you’ve got the perfect body, you’re letting yourself be seen by others. You get to experience radical freedom in a way you never could before.
As a result of taking action and owning your life, opportunities you never knew existed will start showing up when you show up.
Step up, own your life, embrace what you’re working with today.
You my, friend were created the way you are for a specific purpose, but you can’t make it happen when you’re too busy hating on yourself.