Eating In Moderation, Not Extremes

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(I love Panera Bread! So delicious, and so many healthy options! It’s a fun place to eat out. This isn’t an example of extremism -just a yummy picture.)

 

Day’s 7 post is all about taking a stand on a controversial issue or hot topic. I feel like I’ve covered a lot of topics during this challenge, two chief among them being weight loss and novel-writing. Although my novel is my passion, my blog is mainly for helping other women. So, I’ve decided to cover a controversial topic in the diet and fitness industries –extremism.

In our society, we have so many pressures as women to be perfect –perfectly beautiful, perfectly healthy, perfectly successful and so on. And when we’re not, there are a thousand products just waiting to “change our lives.” Most promise quick results in a short amount of time, dangling a golden carrot over our heads. While I know that intensive workouts and super restrictive –but healthy –eating plans can work for some people, it doesn’t work for others. In fact, most dieters end up failing. I personally believe that this is because we choose to run before we’re ready to walk.

I guess I am advocating for smaller changes over a longer period of time. Yes, eat better, exercise, get enough sleep. But in my experience, a 180 degree change all at once just isn’t effective. Make small goals and reach them. Then make slightly bigger goals and reach them. 🙂 There’s great wisdom to the rolling stone that slowly builds momentum. To me, we were designed to adapt slowly to the challenges of life.

Overcoming Self-Criticism

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You can instantly download this awesome wall-art from the Studio Printables etsy shop. At the time of this post, it was listed at $3.

To be honest, when I first listened to the challenge for Day 6, my first thought was “Ugh.” I don’t like sharing vulnerability. Then, I decided that maybe this challenge will be really good for me. 🙂

So, today I decided to talk about verbal abuse –towards one self. I’ve been on Pinterest long enough to know that I’m not the only woman out there who struggles with being self-critical. You don’t have to search for long to find posts reminding us that we’re special, that we’re enough, and that we’re filled with glitter and sunshine. 🙂 And yet, even though I know I’m not alone in self-criticism, it can seem really isolating. So often, it can seem like I’m the only one who spends way too much time saying unkind things to myself.

Sometimes it can seem like I’m just being honest –that I’m just speaking the cold, hard truth to myself. Most of the time, however, that’s not the case. While self-improvement is a good thing, and working to overcome weakness is also a good thing, self-destruction is not. I think a lot of what makes this key distinction between the two is the tone, or the attitude in which we talk to ourselves. Self-critiquing can be effective when paired with compassion, patience, and a belief that we can change. But when it becomes a downward spiral filled with shame, and hopelessness, it veers into the territory of self-hatred.

I believe strongly that we all have worth beyond measure, and the capacity to grow exponentially. I think that when done right, we can objectively look at ourselves, determine how we want to change our lives, and reach those goals. But I really think this needs to be done with kindness towards ourselves, not harshness.

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This wall art can be bought at the Rhys And Ryn etsy shop. At the time of this post, it was listed at $9.

But how does this apply to me? Well, let me tell you… I have struggled so much over the years with social situations, simply because of how unkind I am to myself. Time after time, I have come to the event, my heart pounding, worrying that I everyone will hate me, that I will say something stupid, and that somehow, I will have ruined everyone’s day. And then, after each time the evening has ended, I have been ready to cry, convinced that I have ruined other’s perception of me, that I was beyond awkward, and that I have ruined future chances for friendship. Most of the time, this isn’t even true. Most of the time, I just came off a little shy. While I do still struggle with this on occasion, it has -thankfully -gotten much better.

This past time losing weight, I decided to take a different route than my usual. I took small, reasonable steps, and most importantly, I worked on being kind to myself. Instead of looking at photo-shopped models that I wanted to aspire to be like, I looked at pictures of my highest weight, and said kind things to that girl. I then cheered myself on when the mirror indicated I was losing weight. I cheered myself on for getting stronger. I cheered myself on for cheering myself on! And this optimism, this embracing of myself helped me to want to reach out more, and in a very real way, it helped me to reach my goal of losing weight in away verbal self-abuse never could.

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This wall-art can be downloaded at the Kathy Panton Art etsy shop. At the time of this post, it was listed at $1.

 

I’d love to be able to say that I’m 100% over perfectionism, and self-criticism, but I’m not. What I can say is that I have come a long way in this regards. I can feel the difference. Through this process I have become a lot more compassionate towards others. I’ve found that it helps me to think more objectively about myself, and about stressful situations.

Now, again, I don’t advocate running from challenges, or for a lackadaisical approach to life. I simply think that we should show the same love to ourselves that we do to other people. After all, we’re stuck with ourselves. We might as well make it a beautiful relationship.

Well, that was me getting vulnerable. I hope I’m able to reach out and help someone today. 🙂

Weight Loss Tools

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“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~Ayn Rand

Day 5 is called the “Helpful Post.” Basically, I was asked to write something or share something that would help me readers. This post was actually pretty hard for me. What do I have that would help others? Yes, I could talk more about my book, or how to write a book, but somehow it didn’t feel right. As I thought about it, I decided that I want to share one of the tools that helped me lose weight. It’s calledSparkPeople, and it is a free website that gives tools to help you lose weight. It includes basics like a food and exercise diary, weight recorder, and mini exercise videos. But what I really loved about the website were all the opportunities connect to other people losing weight, and the encouragement I found there. Also, this site isn’t about extremism, or burning yourself out in 6 weeks. It encourages you to make small, good decisions, and to make them consistently. I used this tool to lose 35 pounds, and I really love it. If you are looking for something to help your reach your health goals -one that is realistic and effective -I would really suggest Spark People.

I guess I would also like to give my own personal words of inspiration. I believe really strong that we as women can reach our goals. So often those around will discourage us, telling us that it isn’t realistic to reach for them. They may be well meaning, but in the end, only you can decide whether a goal is worth reaching for. Whether it be weight loss, another area of wellness improvement, or in other areas such as creativity or talent development or whatever it is that you want to accomplish, I believe that you can do it. I’m here to cheer you on!

In the comments, if you have goals or dreams you want to share, please do!

How To: Spinach Ice Cubes

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Sigh. It’s hard to make spinach look pretty. But that’s okay -these taste great in smoothies!

Today’s Feel Good Blogging Topic: Tutorials, or How-To (Day 3)

I looked high and low to find today’s blog challenge, and almost gave up –but I found it! (Here’s the link, by the way: Feel Good Blogging Day 3). Today’s challenge is all about bringing value to the reader. As I thought about what I could share for a tutorial, I decided to go with a recipe that I created yesterday. I had a whole bunch of raw spinach that I really needed to use, and decided to make spinach icecubes out of it. This is perfect for smoothies, as it adds a shot of veggies, and simplifies the actual smoothie process. After all, you won’t needs as much icecubes! I really hope that this simple idea will be good for my readers –who doesn’t want an easy way to bring some added health to your day? I know one of my biggest deterrents to living healthy is the added effort. Why not make life easier? On to the recipe:

Things You’ll Need:

  • 2 bags of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice (or, if you want, you can simply use water)
  • Ice Cube Tray
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Blender or Food Processor

Directions:

  1. Place raw spinach leaves with the 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice into the blender. Blend thoroughly, until it starts to resemble the paste. If the mixture does not blend properly, add more lemon or lime juice.
  2. Spoon the spinach mixture into an ice cube tray. Try to make sure they are all even, and pour any remaining liquid in the blender/food processor into to the tray. Then, leave for at least 8 hours.
  3. Remember to take the spinach ice cubes out and place them in a Ziploc bag! I find that if I leave them in the ice cube tray, I’ll forget all about them when it comes time to make a smoothie.
  4. And come morning time, pop an ice cube or two into your smoothie to add some extra green. Or, if you’re in a green smoothie mood, put in lots more!

You can also try this with kale, collard greens, or other leafy vegetables that you might want to add to your smoothies!

Frisbee Golf Adventures

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So, I went Disc Golfing with Ben for my second time ever. And boy, was it fun! This sport is so much fun! It involves walking up and down steep hills, and trying to throw my Frisbee in a straight line, which I’m getting better at. 🙂 It’s like golf, in that you want to get it into the basket target, using as few throws as possible. You also want the lowest score possible, like golf.

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There are a lot of disc golf courses in the Spring/Woodlands/Houston areas –some 9 “hole”, and some 18 “hole.” So far, Ben and I have only been to one course here in Texas –it’s a 9 hole course at Terramont Park, in the Woodlands. This date with Ben was lots of fun, and we got a lot of good pictures!

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I like this sport, because you can play it with as little as two people, or form a big group. I also like that it’s outdoor, and doesn’t require me catching a ball, Frisbee, or other form of flying object hurled in the air towards me. 🙂

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I think this delightful little sport is family friendly, and fun for all levels of expertise. I’m definitely a beginner, and I had a blast!

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Have you ever gone Frisbee golfing?

Confidence Tips From Alex Beadon

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This image comes from the Etsy shop Inspirational Quote. You can click on the picture to see this and other wall art available.

I am signed up for Alex Beadon’s website, a photography business owner who does vlogs on how to improve businesses and personal blogs. I love listening to her weekly installment of Chatty Tuesday. Today’s vlog was called 5 Things I Do To Be More Confident. I think this is a really important topic, and that her video was really good! My favorite quote from video was this:

“If you want to be a truly confident person, you have to know that it all starts from an agreement that you make with yourself. I am going to be a confident person. I am going to back myself up no matter what.  I am going to believe in myself no matter what. I’m going to be confident.” –Alex Beadon

This is a revolutionary concept to me. While it may seem like a basic concept, I guess I haven’t ever thought about backing myself up. Instead of berating myself when I’m in a disappointing situation, or just an uncomfortable one, I should be my own backup support. I really like this concept, and I am going to work on incorporating it into my personal life.

This confidence tip was part of 5 tips that Alex gave. That being said, I actually counted 7 tips to improve confidence, not 5. Not that I’m complaining –more is always better, right? Without further ado, here they are.

1. Make inner agreement with yourself (see above).

2. Understand what’s holding you back

3. Agree to embrace failure

4. Monitor your thoughts. Only keep those thoughts that serve you.

5. Get comfortable outside your comfort zone.

6. Picture what confidence will look like.

7. Your online presence is the best version of yourself –be okay with that.

I really like these tips, and I think they are a good game plan for improving personal confidence. In addition to the personal agreement tip, I also like the tips about understanding what is holdng me back, and getting comfortable outside out my comfort zone. She talked about delving why I am scared of being confident. If I can understand my reasons for wanting to hold back, then I can combat them. Along a similar line, I like that she talked about coming up with specific situations where I feel uncomfortable, and working on tackling them head on. It’s one thing for me to vaguely say, I’m going to step outside my comfort zone, and quite another to pinpoint areas where I feel uneasy, and learning to deal with them better.

I really like the tips, and think her video is worth watching. You can check it out here: Five Things I Do To Be More Confident.

Self Esteem And Sparkles

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“Any woman can look her best if she feels good in her skin. It’s not a question of clothes or makeup. It’s how she sparkles.” –Sophia Loren

I love this quote, and think it is so important to remember that confidence, and self-esteem are crucial aspects of being “pretty.” The world of marketing and advertising sell us a dream in a bottle or a bag, telling us that once we try this one product, then we will find inner confidence. Then we will find ourselves. While new clothes or a new hair cut can help boost confidence, if you don’t like yourself to start with, it will only go so far. Growing up, my mom told me something that really stuck with me. She told me the importance of being my own best friend, because I’ll always have me around, and if I like myself, I can be in a crowd and never be alone. My mom’s a pretty smart lady. 🙂

Obviously, this is harder said than done. It is so easy to be critical of myself, when I don’t reach my goals, or when I wake up feeling tired, groggy, and unattractive. But, curbing my thoughts really seems to help with this. Lately, when I think, oh, I’m fat, I remind myself of the 27 pounds I’ve lost. I also remind myself that my body is healthy and strong, and that I don’t have to look like a supermodel to have worth. When I find myself criticizing my personality, my appearance, or how I fell short in some area, I remind myself that I am trying my best, and that I already have family, friends, and wonderful husband who love me just the way I am.

Also, a little self-pampering never hurts. 🙂 A nice hot bath, an at-home facial, or a nice cup of herbal tea do wonders for me. And of course, any form of stress-relief, like painting, going for a walk, or meditating, help me to feel at ease with myself as well.

So, here’s to all the amazing ladies out there struggling with accepting themselves: You already have plenty of sparkle, even if you don’t know it. Take some time to care for yourself, and tell that inner critic to go take a hike! Life’s too short to spend it berating yourself.

(Note: The photo above is of a lovely pendant that you can buy on Etsy for $14.47. You can check at Kitschy Coo Design’s shop.)