When faced with a challenge in life, regardless of your denomination or belief system, we tend to reach out for a miracle, sometimes, we may in frustration state that our ‘prayers’ are NOT being answered, but do we ever listen? Meditation, for a long while, is no longer a whooo whooo practice, rather, a sense of flow in your life, if YOU allow it to be.
Ever received a beautifully wrapped gift, that which lifts your heart and brings a smile to your eyes AND lips? I liken that to the day I truly embraced meditation, it was as if an immediate realization of it’s importance AND the positive impact on my energy took place like a beautiful symphony. Some may still call it mystical [it is], magical [it is] or whooo whooooooo…. call it as you may, its possibly the best way in which you can actually hear all that is murmur in your heart. Now, this is NOT a religious discussion, in fact, it is an honestly written blog about my experience, it is me sharing my thoughts on something which is available, for FREE to anyone who takes the time to lay down the pre-determined idea of something they may not have given a moments thought to.
I was raised to say my prayers before I go to bed at night, then motivated to say it at any time of day, as time progressed, I honestly thought that these pleadings and converse was falling on deaf ears, no matter how my parents explained it. Sadly, nobody advised me to LISTEN… Yes, I had intuition tugging at my gut that there is more to this than prayers meeting the ears of who they meant for, but my lack of response led me to be a complete non-believer of all sorts by age 34… So, what changed? Someone once advised me to LISTEN… I found this slightly comical as I for sure did not hear any resounding reverberations at any time, and, my life and lack of acknowledgment of ANY greater good was not going too great, perfect for me to cling to my non-belief.
One day a friend told me to test ‘all that is'[I use this term to ensure I offend nobody, that is not this blog post or my intention]. TEST! ALL! THAT! IS!!??? You must be kidding!??? There is none such energy… Oddly, this was suggested at possibly the toughest time in my life and indirectly the test would determine my ability to listen and acknowledge the power of listening, not just to the advice of a dear friend but so too when the test turned out in my favor. Skeptical me, I did it again, once again I was answered, not verbally but the pure creative expression on earth of my desired result. My heart started to turn, started to awaken to the possibility that the acceptance and allowance of energy to flow to us and through us was as clear a voice as one which is heard.
Slowly but surely I started meditating, here there and on odd occasions, making space for the possibility that if I open my heart I may just BE in a better place. 10 years later I was advised to take on this practice of silently sitting a little more in earnest, daily for a minimum of 15 minutes. The idea of implementing this on a daily basis did bring about a sense of anxiety, after all, how was I going to manage to cleave out 15 minutes EVERY day in an already hectic schedule??? Throwing my doubt of achieving this out the window, I committed to doing this for at least a month and then to make the decision whether, as the habit of drinking at least 2.5 liters to 3 liters of water a day, I would continue.
The rest, as they say, is history, now I meditate daily, a minimum of 15 minutes, MY TIME and all that is is always invited in. The next obvious question is of course, what has been the difference? Have tough challenges abated? Has my world turned around? Is it all magical and positive? Nope, not at all, in fact, challenges continue, how I react to them is completely different, my world has turned around possibly it has more to do with the fact that I now react differently to the challenges. Is there magic and is it positive, I believe so, again, possibly what I choose to see seems magical AND positive. Some may say is that it? For the daily time invested, it seems a little lackluster? For me, not so, for me it is absolute ease and peace within, joy and the riches of life that allow my heart to sing once more, to find positive in all I see do and think does not have a price.
If you lived in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, you may have been burnt at the stake or beheaded for having the belief that energy is available to you and through you, available for you to harness and bring about a more joyous life, now however there is a reach for open-mindedness, a knowingness that every thought we have has an impact on the life we live (and create), that miracles happen every day and yes we too have a hand in it, that meditation could be the key in quietening the mind long enough to get out of our own way and allowing a good life to follow.
There are many available resources on how to meditate and what to do how to breath etc. Find what YOU are comfortable with, for me breathing is REALLY important, 6 seconds in and 6 seconds out, this concentration of breathing allows you to focus on that instead of the odd thoughts floating in and out. In the beginning, these thoughts seem to drift a little too long, do not try to fight it, rather acknowledge their existence and let them move along. Start with around 5 minutes and work your way up to a comfortable time but be consistent. Trust me after a while of sitting to do this you will become possessive of this ‘YOU-time‘ which is GREAT!
Not finding the answers you want in life? Really wondering if there is ANYBODY out there? Start with the quiet voice within, the beating of your heart and allow your mind, body, and soul to open to the beautiful flow of energy that allows you to BE.
Ever stood in front of your clothes cupboard being at a loss for words, so too at a loss for clothes none of which are flattering? In an instant, you loathe the choices available but realize that not dressing is also NOT an option… Then you loathe yourself and realize you really need to figure out what is weighing you down?
Now CLEARLY, there is an internal [albeit silent] realization that what is weighing you down IS the extra weight sitting around your hips and all we can do is ask HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??? How DID this excess creep up so unnoticed over the years? Or did we notice it but decided to quietly look the other way? Now, of course, we are all grown-ass individuals and cannot possibly be naive enough to not realize the role we play in our choices and hence the outcome we were heading towards, but human nature prompts us to look for the reasoning behind the fat cells bloating EVERYWHERE else except within.
This numbing space in life is also fondly referred to as a ‘COMFORT ZONE’ problem with this is that it is exactly the opposite of the truth… There is no comfort in this haze of self-pity and contemplation, it quietly leads to the break down of self-love and self-esteem, day by day, kilogram by kilogram. We truly turn a blind eye to the facts and then face our clothes cupboard daily until we find the strength and courage to drop the excuses and ‘find ourselves’ again [beware the ‘self-help’ gurus, it does start with us and generally ends there too].
As we leave the question behind “How did this happen?”, we start facing the facts that SOMETHING needs to be done as soon as possible. Let us forget the questions and focus on the answer, right? Some people have the capacity to DO SOMETHING before it gets totally out of control. In my life as a wellness coach, I have crossed many paths with clients who WAIT… AND WAIT... until their deteriorating health starts ticking like a time bomb ready to bring their daily activities to a halt. Some wizened individuals pick up on the tick-tock timeously, preventing the bomb from exploding. This is a fact I have always pondered on, when is enough ENOUGH? Why is it that some people are SO AWARE of their expanding girth whilst others, me included, got to the point of feeling like a wounded buffalo before taking on the much-required change?
Reflecting on my childhood, I thought it would be good to start with blaming my parents, [after all, the blame game is something easily played when you cannot understand or get to grips with your personal journey]. Honestly, they struggled with THEIR weight [and health] throughout life, surely that means I should struggle too. Then, their UNCONDITIONAL LOVE of myself and my brother REGARDLESS of our expanding size made us blissfully unaware of our greater than average size. In my office, many conversations later, as one client after another crossed my threshold on to my scale, I started realizing that those children who were brought up in homes KNOWING their weight, being scale aware (but not obsessive) were the ones that arrived at my door with a maximum of 10kgs to drop. And at 10kgs overweight, they were horrified at their size, horrified that they could let themselves get out of control to such an extent. Then there were the others, again, me included, who got to 40kgs on the hefty side and then realized, “oh my shattered nerves, I need to DO SOMETHING!!“. The ones that waited and waited thinking their genes are to blame or their sedentary office job was the reason and nothing could or would change. These are the people, like me, who cannot tell you what they weighed in their teenage years, also the people that were not counseled about the dangers of weight gain, whose parents did not want them to feel body aware… So here is the better question? Being body aware [yes there is a fine line to being obsessive] and keeping a check on your weight to ensure you live a healthy lifestyle to a ripe old age even if here and there you need to pull back the reigns and partake in a regulated diet to drop a dress size, or, those individuals that are oblivious of their Heffalump status based on their parents [yes, parents, including mine did so ONLY lovingly] assuring them that it is not about what you look like but your heart, the individuals who continue to obliviously pack on the kilos until they are red-faced and huffing in front of the doctor who is writing out a prescription for cholesterol tablets. This is where it gets even more interesting, personally, feeling well-loved and accepted as I was, I NEVER saw my size, even years into my then marriage, I was oblivious of my waistline, only the honesty of my then-husband of: “rather NOT!” when I squeezed myself into a bikini made me stop and realize I had a weight issue. Now, NEVER having to deal with such a personal realization resulted in me not knowing how to deal with it AT ALL! Physically and emotionally I had taken a knock. I did not have the tools to deal with this ‘new space’ I found myself in, and like Eve when she bit into ‘that apple’ my world fell apart slowly but surely. That all-encompassing unconditional love I had felt from my parents now seemed a far cry away from facing the reality of what I was allowing my body to become. Now like Eve, I understood the wrongs and boy did I dig into myself emotionally. When I could not figure it out, it was after all the first time that I was facing such a dilemma, I started looking externally for the possible reasons for my weight gain in the first place, besides blaming the genes. I looked at my lack of physical activity, my poor food choices, my now ex-husband, my plate sizes, the fashion industry and their hand in poor self-esteem [I was far from the model size promoted in magazines and movies after all]. I attacked everything that could remotely have any hand to play in the game of life I was living. After going through diets, gaining weight back again, and starting diets over and over again [on a Monday of course], I shifted to the next stage of “what is weighing me down?-STILL“.
Clearly, if I was continuing to gain weight, drop weight and so on, clearly then I could not keep blaming my parents, blaming society, blaming the diets for I was now informed, enlightened and educated about better health and wellness? What WAS STILL weighing me down???? Why was this a continuous battle? I could not accept that being FAT and FEELING like a wounded buffalo in the process was my life journey, there had to be more to it. It seemed as if I was reliving the nightmare of the bulge over and over again. It was around this point in time that I read something written by Peter F. Drucker, he said,
“Courage, rather than analysis, dictates a truly important rule for identifying priorities. Pick the future against the past. Focus on opportunity rather than on problems, choose your own direction rather than climb on the band wagon and aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than for something that is safe and easy to do.“
Up until this point with regards to my weight, I had gone into analysis paralysis about my health and weight, never had I identified the priorities, never had I picked the future against the past, in fact, I kept replaying the past, dissecting it in the ‘hope’ of a better future, never had I aimed high, being so caught up in the vicious cycle I found myself in. I also realized I had made plenty of assumptions, based on my not so successful battle against the bulge and each assumption I had made was not conducive to righting the present or the future. I was in fact caught up in the past, it was eternally repeating itself like a stuck record. I had placed myself in a difficult situation. This was the honesty record I had to set straight. I had spent so much time trying to find out what made me tick [incorrectly] that I had lost the plot completely.
Maybe even with the fact that my parents never made me scale, weight and health aware, they did place emphasis on love, love of self and those around you. Slowly the light in my dim outlook came on. The foundation of love started to trump the shadows I kept chasing. I realized that if I had that as my foundation, I could and would get out of any difficulty [thank you Mom and Dad]. J. Sidlow Baxter wrote in Awake My Heart;
“What is the difference between an obstacle and adversity? Our attitude towards it. Every opportunity has a difficulty and every difficulty has an opportunity.“
I realized that I had seen everything as a difficulty, as an obstacle and with it came PLENTY of adversity. Needless to say, my attitude with regards to it was not the greatest. In fact, I really BELIEVED that I was dealt a shocking hand of cards and such was my fate. I made the decision to see no further difficulties, only opportunities, I realized what was weighing me down when it came to my weight was MYSELF, my thoughts, my belief system… Working with so many individuals on their individual journeys I also realized I was NOT THE ONLY ONE. We all seem to reach for the answers outside of ourselves. We look for what is weighing us down in our external environments, we dwell on it, we embrace it, never to put it down, never to draw that really important ‘line in the sand’ to start afresh and focus on your current day and thereby rebuild a better tomorrow. I am sure you have all heard about burning the dietary wagon, AKA giving up on getting rid of unwanted fat? After we realize we have gained an excessive amount of weight, we decide to do something about the weight and around that time, [of course!] our bestest friend decides to have a birthday slap bang in the middle of our journey to wellness. We promise ourselves we will be good until we are offered that first glass of red wine and then we completely forget that we are on diet. By the next morning, we have literally thrown the diet manual out the window and decided to GIVE UP. So doing, we perpetuate the downward spiral and find ourselves clawing our way out of it a couple of months later. This is atypical of NEVER drawing the line in the sand. Once you take control back and NOT allow life to bully you into submission, no friends birthday will be the cause of your weight gain, in fact NOTHING will drive you to that every again because for once you KNOW, that you KNOW that regardless of where you are with regards to your girth size, you are taking each day as it comes, having a better day seeing only opportunities, allowing today to flow into tomorrow, ANOTHER GOOD DAY until you have rewired the outcomes of your tomorrows in such a way that nothing of today could possibly negatively impact the outcome of tomorrow. This may seem a simple narrative, it may seem of no great consequence, trust me, IT IS.
Have you ever sat down for a cup of coffee with a friend only to find out that all and everything seems to be going wrong in their lives, that one ‘thing’ led to another and another? The entire conversation dwells in the space of doom and gloom, there seems no way out, ever heard the saying ‘history repeats itself’? As a doting friend we tend to empathetically give advise, solace to this dear friend and their struggles, sadly we add to the negative energy and sooner than later the stew of emotions weighs heavily to the negative side of the scale. Soon after the fateful cup of tea, a follow-up call opens new bad news and so it goes on. No line has been drawn. We have helped perpetuate the past into the future and our friend sharing has done the same.
So how do we change what is weighing us down? It is this simple. Make the decision to draw that line in the sand. The change may not happen immediately, or the next day, or the next month, but that line is a conscious awareness that becomes the anchor on every day. Sooner than later, the tide starts to turn, IF WE ALLOW IT if our focus is on the opportunities of change that DO EXIST. No matter the situation you find yourself in, delving into the past and massive amounts of self-reflection and introspection are NOT ENOUGH, pause there for a short while ONLY. It is all about that one decision daily as you wake up; that today, is a good day, that you are the grateful victor of this day and definitely the luckiest person alive. Get rid of the blame game and be knowledgeable of the fact that you set the pace, your acceptance of a positive day before it starts sets the pace for the day and the day to follow. The seemingly offensive chokehold life has over you slowly dissipates, doors open and the universe conspires to make EVERYTHING BETTER, LIGHTER, including the weight that is weighing you down.
Picture this, I sit down for a strictly regulated diet meal, fighting the plump – and possibly my genes once again, across the table sits Jane, the one who never ponders her weight or what she eats, skinny as hell, loves exercise and radiates overall wellness. Jane has elected the 4 cheese pizza, not giving a hoot about her gene pool or the impact of mozzarella on her thighs. All that goes through my mind is: “Was I born FAT to die FAT – what genes did I inherit!!?”
Society seems to understand my questioning, we all know that some people can eat like hippos and never look like one and then there is the REST OF US…. we tend to look at a glass of red wine and the double chin sets in just in case we take a sip. This unbalanced scale [I am Libra, I LOVE BALANCE!] tipped in favor of those who eat without abandon without the consequences made me search for reason, I mean surely if I can intellectualize this imbalance I can beat it??? Either that or I need to be reborn…
We are told that our size is determined by the amount of food we manage to consume, those little buggers we call calories have a massive impact [no pun intended] on our waist size… But, could it be that our environment and our genes could influence this? What about our thoughts, if one of the laws of the mind is WHAT YOU FOCUS ON GROWSdo we really want to be thinking 24/7 about our expanding waist size.
THOSE CALORIE CRITTERS
How do these buggers end up being stored, burned or bypassing our digestive tract to the poop hole without negatively affecting us? At the end of the day, research shows that all of these are affected by your genes, your excitement on a treadmill and of course how much energy used while sitting on the couch binge-watching Game of Thrones… If your binge-watching is greater than your excitement for time on the treadmill chances are you will make good friends with the stored calories on the WAISTLINE.
Right here, the balanced scale ends up OUT OF BALANCE for me, the closest enjoyment and excitement I have for exercise is watching Charlie Hunnam [drop dead gorgeous lead actor of King Arthur for the uninformed] swinging his sword around. I don’t mind taking on a yoga position watching this man move but naturally, that is not enough to get the scale of critters in critters out, weighing in my favor. So what is left? Possibly decreasing the volume of calories that go in during my day and so too whilst watching dearest Charlie taking on his hero’s journey may be the trick to balancing that scale? If only weight loss was THAT SIMPLE…
THE GENE FOUNDATION
Scientifically speaking, a gene is a unit [similar to the calorie critter I mentioned above if it is NOT in YOUR FAVOUR!] which is kindly and lovingly transferred from your parents to you as a baby to ensure that the neighbors know who the mother and father are of said offspring…
Made up of approximately 20 000 to 25 000 genes with a copy of both Mom and Dad within us, surely the ‘FAT’ gene should be irrelevant? I have sat in my office seeing client after client who puts the blame of ‘kankles’ squarely on the family genes. Could this be the case, could I truly lay blame to poor ‘fat’ genetics for my personal struggle with weight gain? There are over 400 different genes that could be blamed for plumpness! Within that, there is only a handful that are the Kingpins of FATNESS… So what do these genes DO?
Genes affect appetite, satiety, food cravings, metabolism, our addiction tendency when it comes to using food for ‘coping’ with stress and so too where we pack on the weight ON our bodies. But, there are more variables to this… oh dear, no simple answer exists, in fact, when it comes to the understanding of our bodies and how it works, I have heard we have the heavy-handedness of a butcher attacking it with a chainsaw… extreme? Maybe. But have you seen how conclusive findings with regards to medical science change more often than the weather patterns?
Your gene influence on your personal plumpness varies from 25% to 70 or 80%. Finding clarity may involve taking on some introspection, take a careful look at YOUR HISTORY and if these play a role, chances are you are on the higher end of gene influence. I would, however, like to add; we CAN AND DO feed our GENES, we influence our tipping of the gene scales with what goes in! If like me you feel FAT is a constant battle, when you are tired of blaming your hormones, lack of exercise, metabolism and the myriad of options available, have a look at your genetical background, I always joke when it comes to it, always saying that my family and I came from the wrong side of the railway line when it came to health genes. Sometimes there is truth in it, we just need to be willing to investigate. Let us have a look at a couple of factors that can indicate that the genetic scales are not in your favor.
*note… this is not to promote complacency or blame, as I stated above, we can feed the gene monster or starve it.
Let us start with our parents, and their parents, it is not enough to only look at your parents. If your parents, and their parents, not necessarily all of them were overweight or struggled with health challenges attached to obesity then your chances of having the same struggle and possibly reaching obese status goes up to 80%.
You find yourself exercising like a machine and eat rabbit food in an attempt to rid your body of fat and NOTHING happens… FRUSTRATING for sure! I went through a period where I exercised for 4 months 6 times a week eating lettuce leaves and managed to move only 2kgs. At this point, I decided I was fat for life and there was no point. [I was wrong – there is ALWAYS a way to beat the genes!!].
The next question to ask and answer truthfully is, have you been overweight most of your life, and I am not referring to the cuddly baby fat, or the weight as a result of living on JUNK FOOD 24/7. No, the overweight I am speaking about involves living on an average daily intake but ALWAYS ending up in the plump zone?
Then, you have a friend who swears by XYZ diet, you do the research and there are millions having success at it. This is not the first time that said friend has politely recommended a plan of action for you due to the battle you find yourself in. In quiet desperation, you ONCE AGAIN take on another clearly healthy regulated diet and NOTHING HAPPENS. You end up losing water weight and ‘think’ all is good this time, only to come to a standstill somewhere along in your journey. Again, frustration is the name of the game and you once again GIVE UP.
If these 4 pointers sound familiar it may be your genetic pool is NOT in your favor. This is an honest conversation, so let us continue it, maybe it is not your genes that are the problem and sometimes we find ourselves completely UNAWARE of our own actions. I have worked with people who start a regulated diet and come back to me a week later shocked at how their awareness had escalated in the week, they had gone from openly admitting they don’t understand their weight gain to realize their walk to the fridge or pantry consumed most of their waking hours and only after being on a regulated consumption did they notice it. It may not be the genes when we realize that we have food available in our environments consistently, it is easy to go-grabba-whatever-is-available in a totally unconscious manner. It may not be genes when you gain weight after a birthday week [yes, the older you get the longer birth-days become], your birthday leftovers extend for at least a week and you happily oblige consumption instead of wastage. It may not be genes when weight gain is evident every December and January sees more of you based on the fabulous holiday meals with family. Finally, it may not be genes when you start a regulated diet and end up cheating by day 3, attacking the pantry like a homesick child and devouring the biscuits you bought for your child’s school bag. It then becomes easy to blame the chosen diet AND the GENE abnormality…
It is safe to say that if you don’t resonate with any of the discussion above you may be like my friend Jane, eating without abandon or a seconds thought to the calorie critters associated with her intake, you may, in fact, be laughing at this article convinced that me, your friend just needs to stop watching Charlie and get my butt into a gym. I may just agree with you, I have never been satisfied with accepting the standard, I have always believed we were born perfect made by perfect. If we have a couple of plump issues, embracing a healthier take on life may resolve the issues and yes we can celebrate what our bodies can do by living said life in a more vibrant and exercise-driven way. Simultaneously, for some of us, it may just NOT BE THAT SIMPLE, and that is OK. If we understand it, we can live a vibrant life all the same with a few tweaks here and there to put the gene scale back in balance.
BUT, WHAT ABOUT EPIGENETICS?
Now we talking! As I stated, I am not pro accepting that which is, and for many years I battled with the fact that my genes are as they are. I became truly excited at the study of our genes and the associated possibility of these little bugger ‘expressing’ in a new way. Epigenetics. There is hope for the FATSOME in me…
Why did I get excited? Well, if you understand that ‘YOU are WHAT you eat‘ and that our environment AND our thoughts have a direct influence on WHO WE BECOME, AND that we are energy beings continuously evolving then genes are just the ride into untold possibility. Taken from the article above, the section below explains it in a sciency way but makes sense to basic understanding:
“Here are a few important points about epigenetics:
Epigenetics Controls Genes. This is achieved through (a) nature: epigenetics is what determines a cell’s specialization (e.g., skin cell, blood cell, hair cell, liver cells, etc.) as a fetus develops into a baby through gene expression (active) or silencing (dormant); and (b) nurture: environmental stimuli can also cause genes to be turned off or turned on.
Epigenetics Is Everywhere. What you eat, where you live, who you interact with, when you sleep, how you exercise, even aging – all of these can eventually cause chemical modifications around the genes that will turn those genes on or off over time. Additionally, in certain diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, various genes will be switched into the opposite state, away from the normal/healthy state.
Epigenetics Makes Us Unique. Even though we are all human, why do some of us have blonde hair or darker skin? Why do some of us hate the taste of mushrooms or eggplants? Why are some of us more sociable than others? The different combinations of genes that are turned on or off is what makes each one of us unique. Furthermore, there have been indications that some epigenetic changes can be inherited.
Epigenetics Is Reversible. With 20,000+ genes, what will be the result of the different combinations of genes being turned on or off? The possible arrangements are enormous! But if we could map every single cause and effect of the different combinations, and if we could reverse the gene’s state to keep the good while eliminating the bad… then we could hypothetically* cure cancer, slow aging, stop obesity, and so much more.”
With that said, maybe being born with a gene foundation that embarrasses a toad is of no concern. Maybe just maybe we have a say. This is where controlling the controllable is paramount. No matter who we are, we have the tendency to look externally to blame our expanding waistline, science, however, informed us we could look internally to blame, [even worse in my opinion as we end up blaming ourselves and our family for that muffin top]. Instead of an attitude of blame, maybe the manner in which to take on this personal jail of the gene pool is to CHANGE IT. First, in the thoughts we have about it, then in the actions that WE CONTROL. Trying to fight the environmental impact can be done to a lesser degree, here the focus SHOULD BE control the controllable. After all, as an in-utero baby, we have no control over what our mothers eat, smoke, drink or do. The health challenges she works with and those that came through your Dad’s genes you have ZERO control over… it cannot be changed. Then your environment as a baby you too have little control over, whether Mom decides to have a cesarean or natural birth, to breastfeed or bottle-feed is of ZERO concern to you, you are truly capable of only taking control of the NOW. YourNOW WILL have an impact on your offspring and the quality of life you live as you age. That and that alone will be up to you to decide, within reason.
WE have the ability to decide if you overeat on the calorie critters, binge watch Game of Thrones, chose a chicken salad over a pizza or light up that next cigarette. WE decide to focus on a healthy, vibrant life versus focussing on the obesity epidemic worldwide and how we are ‘destined’ [NOOOO] to fatness based on our genes. WE decide how much sleep we get, how we alleviate our stress levels if we stop at a junk-food joint for supper [it is junk for a reason] and the amount of water we drink daily. WE decide on an exercise regime, or NOT. WE can decide to jail ourselves in the blame game, the available arsenal to justify the current circumstance we find ourselves in, is endless, media, health advocates, nutritionists, dieticians et al give us daily ammunition to lock that jail door There is SO MUCH we CAN control but it is MUCH EASIER not to. To do that which is difficult is as easy as not to do it, it takes the same amount of energy whether in the instant of choice or, for that matter, later on in life.
THE GET-OUT-OF-JAIL-FREE CARD
It has been said that our attitude affects our altitude… I got so involved in looking for the reasons for my CONSTANT BATTLE AGAINST OBESITY that even I fell into the trap of the blame game jail. How did it serve me? Well, I only got fatter. With that, the continual woe-be-me struggle elevated my victim status to my gene pool being guilty until proven otherwise. Even I got tired of my hacking the food industry, the endless useless diets, the defunct gene pool dilemma, and the ridiculous suggested exercise regimes. Sadly it took over 40 years of my life to come to terms with controlling the controllables. My attitude regarding health and living to age 100 in a vibrant way was my doing and ONLY MY DOING. This clarity IS a get-out-of-jail-free card. For some it may seem like DUH… in fact, it was for me too, but, if what I am saying is simple and can have duh status, why do we STILL sit with the obesity epidemic, ladies having tea blaming diets that don’t work, writers writing about the A-Z of sugar evils? Informational purposes for sure but in some aspects, our addiction to the doom and gloom of how we find ourselves in a useless quagmire of ill health and obesity keeps us RIGHT THERE.
My saving grace was dropping the cognitive dissonance I had embraced [this for those needing clarity, describes feelings of discomfort that result when your beliefs run counter to your behaviors and/or new information that is presented to you – basically you start living the lie you believe to suit your circumstance. – ouch], realizing that me, and only me, will result in a different outcome.
We realize the importance of starting our day off with gratitude, with an emotive THANK YOU, but, do we spend the rest of our day thinking of working towards fantastic health and wellbeing or the dread of sickness and disease?
Since we spend most of our time interacting with our environment, our environment has a huge impact on our thought process. Simultaneously the conversations we have, the reading we do [though these days it seems social media has trumped a good read] the tv we watch and the newspapers we read add to that environment. As I find myself researching the state of health globally, the latest diets, the impact of the food choices we make there seems to be increasing awareness and focus that lies within FEAR for the future when it comes to obesity and disease.
As I have an absolute passion for health and living to age 100 at least [yes my children, you may have me around for a good few more years than you bargained for] and have an understanding that if I keep my focus on the negativity of health and wellness well, then I am not creating a health and wellness outlook but rather a sickness and disease outlook. I also deal with people searching for better health focus daily and to turn their energy from their ‘struggle’ to what is POSSIBLE is my main focus as a coach and mentor.
I became aware of how a person can get caught up in the negativity when I read a range of books including Ralph Waldo Emerson, he said that “You are what you think all day long.” this continued when I started my journey in weight removal. I had just asked my daughter to take some pictures to keep a record of my journey and declared my disdain of where I was based on the dreadful pictures I was staring at, she turned around and said “Mom, can you imagine what those will look like in 6 months!!!?”. In an instant, I realized where my focus was. And, simultaneously I got her optimistic upbeat response. Literally, my world opened up and my awareness of where my thought process was landed on my lap. I realized that FEAR and FRUSTRATION in thought about better health drove my reaction to the photos in a NEGATIVE WAY. That from a person who ALWAYS SAYS “What starts wrong ends wrong“. It was such a learning curve as even though I sit daily with people applying positive thoughts when it came to my own personal journey I had just fallen short. I also realized that I could choose to make my thoughts work towards ridding myself of fat OR, allow them to drive me to fear and therefore gain weight! After all, our mind truly rules our body. The sad thing about this is it is true not only on the mental level but results in the physical outcomes of what we DON’T WANT. Then it gets even a little more complicated, never do we look internally, we find blame externally, so the first thing we do when we fail to rid our bodies of fat is we blame the diet we are on, maybe just maybe it is our thoughts that led to failure…
I read an interesting article and the following was said:
“The words you say come from the thoughts you have, which create the feelings you have. So go to the root of the issue: what are you thinking, and what are you putting into your body, into your mind? What is the food you are feeding this life you call your own? No one else will do it for you, and nothing that may have happened in your past is responsible for doing what you are now in control of, that which you do, think and speak. Every second is your own responsibility and within your power to change.“
If we embrace the understanding that thoughts create things we will be EXTREMELY aware of our thoughts. On a physical level let me explain; when we live in a world of external stresses and we take them on and add some more, of course, dinner does not stay at one plate of food, we start feeding the stresses and emotions, 2 plates later and 2 desserts later we feel no better! This then leads to waking up the next morning, and calmness turns to anxiety when facing our wardrobe, with anxiety on high alert your body misinterprets your tight pants combined with the anxiety for a reason to feed up and bolt down. We add fuel to the fire by blaming ourselves for weakness, lack of discipline and then family genetics for the tight pants and our thoughts lead to the fatty army in our body running for the thighs! Next minute we are 15kgs heavier, at least 2 dress sizes up and on anti-depressants. Yes, just like that our thoughts turn our attempt at dieting into fat protection.
The moral of the story? Quite simple, when you decide to go on a diet to get your health back, spend VERY LITTLE TIME on bemoaning the size of your thighs, how many diets you have been on, how many sizes of clothes are in your cupboard, the possible diabetes that runs in the family and more time on how AWESOME it is going to be to tie those shoelaces with ease, acheless ankles as you walk down the flight of stairs, the ability to walk and soak in the sunshine without feeling like a wounded buffalo and a cupboard full of GORGEOUS CLOTHES to wear again. Change the thoughts you dwell on and watch how you succeed at your regulated diet. Speak health INTO your life, go on a positive mental diet that I have dealt with on my previous post and REMAIN OPTIMISTIC about a healthier life – make it easier for you purely with the RIGHT THINKING in place!
So next time you catch yourself giving yourself and your life a hard time in thought and word, assess who you with [yes, the moaners and groaners have a tendency to influence our thoughts of ourselves as well], what you are reading, watching or interacting with and maybe pause and switch lanes. Reach for a better feeling thought to assist your waistline! Trust me, that change of lane can happen in a split second and you will be GRATEFUL for it and FEEL TONS BETTER!
Some people realize that one diet does NOT fit all, some people realise that whats right for the goose, may not be right for the gander… me on the other hand, spent most of my adult life believing, truly believing, if a diet worked for X person, then it will for sure work for me. 30kgs later, I realised one diet fits all was a load of bullsh*t.
Yes, it was a light bulb moment, though, maybe not as sudden as flicking a switch, more like a slow-burning ember that gets a gust of wind and lights up EVENTUALLY, I am slow like that. Sadly, even though I fully realize that I AM an individual with individual body requirements, somehow the idea that one diet DOES NOT fit all did not dawn on me until I walked that path and paid dearly for it.
My journey started at over 90kgs the first time I took on RIDDING my body of FAT, it was a wholesome eating plan which got me on the right track and I lost 30kgs over a year, as I reached my goal I fell pregnant with my first child, 2 pregnancies later I was tipping the 90kg zone again. Slowly the weight crept up to 106kg. At this point, I decided that feeling like a wounded buffalo was not for me. I started following the same food protocol which I had successfully used before and started exercising 6 times a week. My weight did not budge and I resided to being FAT AND FURIOUS for life. I had OFFICIALLY given up.
A friend introduced me to a shake diet and I decided to give it a shot, I was desperate and had never thought my weight was an issue until someone I had not seen in a while saw me, their jaw dropped non politely to the floor, truly, I heard the echo as it hit the floor, and in an instant if the earth could politely have swallowed me up I would have gone without putting up a fight! I started the shake diet with MASSIVE SUCCESS. At age 39 I gained my body back, moving to a wonderful 65kgs over a 6 month period. I never felt more like a lithe cheetah, 40kgs lighter, happier and more confident than a second hand car salesman.
Then, LIFE HAPPENED, AGAIN – she does that…. This was an interesting journey, but one in which sadly I spent 5 years questioning my worth, value, ability and leadership skills. Life literally sucked it all out of me and I ate my way out of the hole I found myself in. In that time, I moved home, got divorced, gave up my Art Degree, lost both my parents in a matter of 9 months, lost the work I loved and thrived in for 7 years and beat cancer. It was a shocker and I carefully reminded myself of the mirror I broke a couple of years prior which may have caused the quagmire of bad luck, though some would say that I had thought it into manifestation, so made it my REALITY [a different subject and sadly I tend to agree for parts of it]. Regardless, this time brought me back to packing on 40kgs plus to my small frame.
Long story I know, but at around this point that burning ember sparked, I decided to make friends with food, [for the fatties like me out there, we AIN’T friends with food – do not try kid yourself]. I decided to do the Hormone diet, the Metabolic diet, the HFLC (High Fat Low Carb) diet, Keto diet plan, the Cinderella diet, the 14-day diet, the Blood type diet, etc, etc… I was determined to become friends with food, I ONLY got fatter. Now some would argue and state that I did it WRONG. Sorry to disappoint folks, I have actively worked in the health and wellness industry since 2011, coached people to rid their bodies of over 8000kgs of FAT in that time, I understood what it means to stick like a postage stamp! Now spending time for 5 years questioning ALL I AM, then failing hopelessly with my supposed BFF food… did NOT HELP. I had not found the answer in that relationship-building process. In fact, that BFF food, lied, undercut, cheated and abused me and hampered every possible means of progress.
Some people, you know who you are, have had massive success in weight removal in the programs above, some have even said to me you just need to do X, Y, and Z and just like that weight will melt off you based on above programs… YOU JUST NOT DOING IT RIGHT… ARRRRGHHHHHH – KILL ME NOW. At a point, I decided that exercise will be my only saving grace, my NEW BFF, bugger food, even though I have always believed you can NEVER outrun your fork. The minute this buffalo decided to start walking the proverbial sh*t hit the fan. Knees started swelling, ankles ached, and shin splints set in. “Let us exercize” they said, “it will be fun” they said… not for this buffalo!
Back to the drawing table, I went, these diets worked for EVERYONE, after all, one diet fits all!?? The more fat I ate, the fatter I got, the more variety my diet got the more my joints ached. Then I checked my blood type, I am a keen supporter of Peter D’Adamo of course, and my blood type told me to steer clear of Avo, Banana, Butter and chicken [which when you eat salads, chicken is a firm favorite in most food-based diets…] – all of these foods were top of my list when I followed the listed regulated diets above, excepting banana, when I effentually took a look at the blood type dieting guidelines, I realized, – WHAT WAS I THINKING!!? Besides the fact that with my blood type I basically had to survive on tofu and lettuce.
Needless to say, I felt like a total failure. Self-esteem shattered. Confidence equivalent to a teenagers first kiss. Broken. Now the embers spark was well lit. The light bulb moment.
I started my investigation and realized that both the diets I had resounding success in was 50% Carbohydrate- GOOD ONES ONLY [Check out my course on Coach : no diet in which I explain the constant companions], 30% Protein and 20% GOOD fats and fiber. Both the diets required eating breakfast [intermittent fasting, I forgot to add that to the list above, but this one goes out the window if I look at my success dieting history]. Both required a large quantity of water a day. What I realized, not being a lover of cooking and baking, preparing and weighing [sorry Mom, I am no good at it and love foods starting with ‘RESERVATIONS‘ of a table for you Madam?], that the choice of my shake diet was the best way to go. The interesting thing about this diet is I helped all sorts reach success with it. Possibly the reason being that it IS BALANCED nutrition, 3 to 4 meals a day, with the correct fiber and water balance for your body. It was also not only shakes but food so it covered the best of both worlds.
Sadly I needed to go through the wringer to get back to it. I had to walk journeys highly recommended by all as “This diet will work for you, it works for everyone after all!!” Then failing, feeling that failure, QUESTIONING MY GENE POOL [Possibly alien, the verdict is still out according to my children] and fattening up in the process. I am one of the lucky few in my opinion that found the RIGHT RECIPE for me. Some never find it and do literally GIVE UP and GET FATTER. Fat not being the problem of course, the health challenges as a result of fat, now therein lies the TRUE problem. The second TRUE problem is our perception that one diet fits all. Herein lies the failed attempts, the yo-yo dieting, the health compromise, the breeding of low self-esteem.
Hear he, hear he, hear he… take note of the punters, the converts, and the believers and the naysayers, listen only to your heart when making your choice to go fat to fab, [and listen to your gut as well, it will let you know in possibly unflattering ways] YOU will know what is working if you gaining fat be weary. Look closely at your regulated dieting history – it tells a story. Look closely at responsive emotions over your lifetime, some may have a direct impact on your gaining and losing of fat. Draw a timeline and look, more stress, less stress, more sleep, less sleep, more exercise, less exercise, YOU GET THE PICTURE. Then, like a puzzle piece, put it all together and chances are you will be able to identify what regulated diet would be the right course of action for YOU, not your sister, brother, mother or bestest friend, but rather for you. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL! Bugger the latest science, use it as a guide but tomorrow they MAY tell you how grass-fed cattle are killing you too…
How do you know what is the right diet for you, simple, IT WORKS, YOU WILL MOVE FAT OFF YOUR BODY... Whether you drop size, centimeters or kilograms – SOMETHING WILL MOVE!
Take a special page out of my flabby book, it is NOT about the diet, it is NOT about the diet being to blame, it is our closer inspection AND introspection of WHAT WORKS FOR US that leads to a regulated diet success!
My first question to anyone who is focused on weighing themselves is this, “When you walk into a room, do you carry the scale on your shoulder or your clothes?”.
Now generally, some people if not all people use the scale to gauge unhealthy weight removal, then the second thing done in my experience is the minute the scale does not edge towards what they require in goal weight, then the DIET they are on IS TO BLAME… In the years I have worked with people in coaching fat removal, the biggest block in the journey becomes the SCALE. For some, yes, it is beneficial in GETTING to a certain size as the journey becomes about chasing that ‘golden number’, the problem comes from our focus on that ‘golden number’, if we DO NOT get to it fast enough or not at all, it becomes the noose around our dietary journey.
Because these days most things in life are based on immediate gratification when that scale does not move, hell hath no fury… We also get this ‘immediate gratification’ from external sources, we have ‘out learned’ to let gratification come from internal, hence we blame the diet we are on, possibly forgetting the rights and wrongs we have done ON the diet.
Let us start with fat loss vs weight loss, a scale is never a good indicator of fat loss, considering fat mass is much lighter than muscle mass. The upside in this is that if you see your clothes fitting better but the scale seems to be moving slowly, chances are you are sending fat to the furnace whilst safeguarding your muscle. The more muscle you ‘save’ on a healthy diet the better as the more muscle, the more fat you will burn, it takes energy [aka FAT] to keep those muscles working!
In a world were obesity awareness is on the rise, unhealthy fat is topical in all circles. In the process diets get dissed due to ‘not working’, meanwhile, it is NOT a diet problem, I hear this all the time. The problem is firstly we use the scale to determine success and secondly we CHOOSE the INCORRECT diet… and finally, anyone looking at the low-quality nutritional value of a lot of the food ‘stuff’ out there not to mention lack of exercise and the stress we face daily? The argument could be that people ARE getting it right out there so there are no excuses, this to me is an oversimplification. True as pigs don’t fly, there were times and still are times where I wish I was born with a supergene of athletic ability, honed physique, and a drop-dead gorgeous smile, sometimes loving myself as is, trumps the wishes stated above by a mile and allows me to love my life a lot more. This then leads to my acknowledgment that the scale is not the key that unlocks my health but rather self-acceptance as a starting point to better health and wellness.
Weight loss and gain, good or bad? That is the question.
We touched on this topic above, but gaining weight could be as a result of many reasons just as losing weight could be.
Our body weight is made up of bone, tissue, muscle, blood, water, fat, and, that which we have eaten making its way downstream… We might have a day where we have high salt intake and all of a sudden that salt holds on to our water intake and whallla we are up 1 kilogram on the scale, devastated by our gain, we blame the diet and proceed to take our anger out on a muffin – oh dear. Or, we decide to go on some crash diet, now, here, your body is super intelligent, starve it and it will guard FAT like its best friend [maybe that is a good thing seeing that our brains are fat-based and needs safeguarding!?], so as we starve ourselves our body starts chewing on the fastest available energy, MUSCLE, 2 weeks into the ‘starvation plan’ [note I did not call it a diet now for a reason] we get on to a scale and again, whallla, we down 5kgs and ALL IS JUST DANDY… or is it? Chances are we have fried some muscle as our body protects our brain and hip fat storage to its utmost. Next time we find ourselves in a pickle, we resume starvation and slowly we start carving away at the muscle supply in our body, we leach our bodies [muscle, tissue, bone] of water and again loose that unwanted ‘weight’ on the SCALE. Problem is this cycle continues, we hit 40 and bemoan the fact that NO DIET WORKS FOR US meanwhile back at the ranch we look old and disheveled due to muscle loss and NOT fat loss, gaining weight happens in 2 ticks due to less muscle to burn the energy we supply and losing weight becomes TOUGH!
Let us add some CAKE to the mix…
Now, I do use cake as a substitute for sugar, but, sugar, when added, carries more than just glycogen, in fact, it acts like salt and its best friend’s name is water. We may bite down on a ‘healthy’ muffin but next day 100 grams of muffin turns into half a kilo to a kilo depending on the sugar content. Here again, we chose a diet, let us say a keto diet plan, carbs are cut and all seems to be going swimmingly well, a friend has a birthday and we decide one slice of cake will not make the difference, which in the greater scheme of things really won’t, but we get on the scale the next day guilt-ridden due to the delightfully decadent cake we wolfed down only to find we have ‘gained’ a kilogram, SHOCK, AND HORROR… now the keto diet does not work!?? Not true, our body just needs to process the sugar hit and it can only do that by transporting the purely white and deadly stuff in the water. Try not to be fooled… sometimes diets touting massive weight loss is, in fact, massive water loss and here comes the bigger problem, we are 70% water, and generally everything functions in some kind of watery liquid environment in our bodies, minus the water, we have health challenges knocking at our doors.
One meal at a time, one kilo at a time.
Now let us start with when we weigh in a day. We decided to take on a diet, let us use Sally as our example, she takes it on seriously, regimented weigh-ins are important, so every morning, she wakes up bright and early, gets ablutions done and before getting dressed, [basically naked] she gets on the scale. Right there and then she has handed over the power of the day to a number, ON A SCALE! This is the thing, mornings we are ALWAYS lighter than EVENINGS in scale weight, BUT, we may not be lighter than the day before based on the birthday cake we put down the pie hole. It becomes a game of Russian Rolette, Sally peaks at the scale, [this is after the 2nd or 3rd time she got on to it after not being convinced first time round of course] dreading the number that will face us or feeling optimistic. Either way, I will paint both pictures. The first being, the scale goes down… HALLELUJAH the cake did not do major damage – Sally thinks… [‘that’ diet must be working after all!!!] She faces the day with glee – as if it is HER BIRTHDAY, and off she goes to work, our friend, [the birthday girl of course] decides to bring cake to work AS WELL just to make sure nobody feels left out… and the lower scale weight is still resonating in Sally’s mind, she feels GOOOOOOODDD…. So she decides, intellectually and logically [seeing as she beat this mornings scale and she IS DOWN in weight – not] that she dodged the bullet once with her cake from last night, she may as well give it another go. Down it goes, then her regulated diet lunch goes in, so too the mid-afternoon snack. Come supper time she has what is required to complete the day – a healthy regulated diet meal… Now, Sally knows after her day that it was not the greatest 24 hours and now she is curious to see what the scale has to say [oh dear]. At bedtime, she gets on to the scale and she weighs 2kgs more than her morning weight. Right there she gives up, maybe not totally but a little bit. Dazed and confused she realizes that the diet sucks [not really but it makes her feel better] and she decides she would make her decision after an evening’s sleep.
Herewith the second scenario. Sally wakes up, now she has had 2 pieces of cake in the previous 24 hours and was down in weight after the first slice, note she is on a keto diet plan. Now Sally goes through the same process as the previous morning, ablutions done, on the scale, before clothes of course. Now the scale is not friendly, certain parts of her evening meal, especially protein, is still making its way through her digestive system, now Sally is 2kgs heavier as well as with her limited carbohydrates on the keto plan, her body has celebrated by holding on to the carbohydrates she kindly supplied, and the water going with the purely white and deadly sugar on TOP OF THAT… Once again, Sally’s emotions and day ahead has been regulated by a NUMBER!!! Now she feels AWFUL!!!! And wants to burn the proverbial keto wagon after chopping it into tiny little pieces, “I am fat for life, bugger these “#@$&* diets!“. Off she stomps to work, most likely not kissing Tom [her partner who is patiently waiting for her to stop complaining about her weight], gets to work and mopes about for at least half the morning until someone brings another cake for Sally’s friend which they especially baked for her but decided they would wait especially for Fridays tea… What does Sally do??? Quite easily, she has said “#@$&* diets!” if you may recall, with her mood being set by the scale she now not only has a sliver of cake, she has 2 pieces for old times sake…
And so the SCALE has set the tone. So it has determined the direction of our waistline, be it on the increase or decrease.
The clock ticks… month by month
The last and certainly not the least, speaking one lady to another [men, please sit out on this discussion if needs be], when it is that time of the month, chances are you will feel bloated like a Sumi wrestler and retain water. I have seen it change scale weight from half a kilogram to 2 kilograms. Yes, it can be that much, and when you get on the scale feeling like a wounded buffalo, chances are emotional too, you may just want to end all thought of regulated dieting forever…. do be KIND to YOURSELF.
So here is the thing, by knowing these truths with regards to the scale you can, in essence, understand what is happening a lot easier when you get on the scale. If you use a scale to weigh, understand what you are weighing. Let us say you decide to have a cup of tea before weighing yourself, or a glass of water, the measurement of a liter of water to a kilogram is basically the same, lets us say you are REALLY thirsty and you have half a liter of water. Get on the scale and see the difference. It will be half a kilo and THAT IS NOT FAT, YOU ARE NOT GAINING WEIGHT!!!
Be kind, be logical, be honest with yourself. Then standing on a scale is beneficial. Besides using measurements and how your clothes fit, I find photographs work an absolute charm. Try to get full length, side profile, and face pictures as before and afters. These are the gems in seeing, understanding and accepting your weight loss journey emotionally.
If you have got the kahunas for a scale, great. Use them. Scales are good, they are not ALL bad. But understand your body and its cycles whether it is a short term diet or over a long period of time. Our bodies are like pendulums when it comes to your base weight and being up 2 down 2 is quite normal, don’t get shocked and starve yourself, or happy and overfeed yourself.
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