Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘habits’

Letting Worry Slow the Flow

Ingrained Habits Unharmed by Worry

I was doing really well sticking to the schedule I’d set for myself. But health concerns pushed everything to the back burner until I got a few more answers (or maybe non-answers). When I finally sat down to write, thinking I was several posts behind, I found self-discipline had saved me. I had actually only slipped by one post with another due by midnight. No problem.

The problem isn’t so much with staying on track (and there are other projects which have indeed suffered), but with finding topics to write about which didn’t involve all the medical bullcrap I’ve been fielding for the last few months. Granted, the news so far is good in that it’s ruled out anything serious. But the search goes on and frankly, it’s frustrating!

I’m not a patient person by nature, so when each new set of tests has the current specialist throwing up his hands and sending me to yet another doctor with a 3 to 4 week lead time for appointments, followed by another 3 to 4 weeks to get in for the tests he orders, I’m losing what little patience I had. Meanwhile, the original problem persists, if not worsens, forcing me to make some lifestyle changes in order to cope with them until someone comes along who can actually answer the 64-thousand dollar question “What’s ailin’ me?”

Looking for Alternatives

Admittedly, I’ve grown more and more disenchanted with Western medicine the older I get. Someone recently said to me:

“As we get older, they see no reason to put forth the effort to keep us alive.”

I can find no reasonable argument to refute the statement.

Still, our insurance system is designed to support Western medicine, and of course, the pharmaceutical industry. I’m a lousy patient in that regard as I prefer herbs and healthier habits to the pills they try to convince me to take. I’ve had a great deal of success doing it my way too.

The latest concern seems to be confounding my doctors though, as they send me from one specialist to another only to hear “that part is working fine.” At least I don’t make this journey alone as a friend seems to be having the same issues, though he’s a decade older. In both our cases, our customary energy is being impacted, and as members of the dance community, energy loss is simply unacceptable.

Two Guinea Pigs Are Better Than One

I can only hope that between the two of us and our travels from one specialist to another, we’ll ultimately find someone who can figure this out, and solve the issue for us both. Meanwhile, I try not to piss and moan too much, eat smaller meals, and make sure I don’t eat within a couple of hours of dancing. One episode of nearly passing out was enough to make me a lot more cautious. (OK, so I could have stopped and sat down sooner, but I was having too much fun…until I wasn’t).

Some people choose to age gracefully. When they start slowing down, they take it lying down; sometimes literally. My friends and I are far less easygoing and accepting. If something slows us down, we look for ways to get around it. In my case, it’s daily walks, smaller meals, regular weight work, and when all else fails, physical therapy. As I’m still going at something close to my normal pace, I have to assume it’s working.

A friend of mine found his golf routine impaired by back pain. He added more stretching to his routine, and is back to golfing 5 or 6 days a week.

Keeping Up with the Younger Crowd

Admittedly, I’m not quite as active as those who are 10 or 15 years younger, but https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/9182552435/in/photolist-eZqYVz-bCNKVT-8waBnX-9gcXm3-5wMMcX-5styJG-5NdLft-9WfvLY-8MEH91-23XHouF-7mc1GH-py5mDy-9Lkh4X-7pd42N-EPatZ5-78st9q-6rcZxE-49Pm2N-au74m8-6jM6KS-HQymz-gVHz7s-49Kho6-5GKp9D-qSKDJ4-6wTpaT-6KMH5T-xp4AGh-38dnvK-Fkz55-a7uGEd-51eYV7-au74LM-co3BDW-e4KzTK-fPSmM-6PWBfU-eZqXRx-eZCkBd-5F7yao-PsCgD-7Rhx6c-BPHHeH-2e1ZPoa-6jvBPq-7Spp33-7RhwqR-2mKaF-78svmQ-7Spp6EI’m a lot more active than the average person who is 10 or 15 years younger, much less my age. Even my doctors are noticeably impressed at my activity level. That doesn’t mean they don’t add “for your age” to the end of any compliment, or refrain from mentioning my excess weight. Those are easy excuses inherent to practitioners of Western Medicine.

From what I’ve seen, herbalists and holistic practitioners are less inclined to bring age, or even weight into the calculation unless there’s something specifically age- or weight-related at issue. It may be an argument in and of itself to stop the merry-go-round of people who specialize in only one part of the body and consult someone who is prepared to treat the body as a whole.

Using Writing as a Sounding Board

Often when I’m writing, I’m trying to work out some kind of issue. Those are the pages, you’ll never see. Sometimes, I’ll talk myself around like I have here, and solve something that was bothering me, yet not to the point where I needed to do a brain dump to solve it. The mind is a powerful instrument, and like it or not, will point me in the direction I need to go, even if I didn’t realize I needed to go anywhere in the first place.

I’ve learned to listen to the intuition which surfaces through my writing. It usually brings something to the surface that needed to be brought up. Maybe I was spinning my wheels, or procrastinating, or in full avoidance mode. If I don’t acknowledge your presence, you’re not there.

I’ve learned I can’t hide from myself, though I spent decades trying. Eventually, the mind decides it’s had enough and says it’s time for you to acknowledge the elephant in the room, and do something about it. Today, my elephant is a health issue that no one seems to be able to figure out. Our society has made it necessary to advocate for ourselves, and to recognize when we’ve been put on a merry-go-round going nowhere.

Frankly, I prefer roller coasters to merry-go-rounds. They’re more exciting, and though the scenery might fly by at times, I get to see a great deal more of the world than if I spent my life going around in circles. I may be in for a wild, and at times, unpleasant ride, but I’m tired of all the non-answers. It’s time to leave the merry-go-round for the ones who have no place they want to go. That ain’t me.

Always Something to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I have choices even if I have to push my way through the muck to find them.
  2. I’m grateful I’ve ruled out some of the more serious health concerns, though I realize there are still some which have yet to be ruled out.
  3. I’m grateful for friends who support and understand when I’m feeling frustrated.
  4. I’m grateful for my writing which helps me get aligned with where I need to go next.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; choices, friendship, love, joy, dancing, solitude, community, opportunities, insight, inspiration, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Clearing My Resistance to Change a Step at a Time

Change Doesn’t Eliminate Cravings

I try to keep my eating and exercise habits healthy. But every once in awhile the old, self-destructive habits rear their ugly heads and I spend the day planted in front of the TV, or want a big, gooey takeout pizza so badly it’s all I can do to keep my hand off the phone. Sometimes, it’s a craving for sugar. Recently, it was jelly beans.

I told myself I could have some if I walked up to Von’s, but it was too hot to make the trek. Finally, after fighting the urge for a couple of hours to no avail, and seeing I would get nothing done until I had some, I compromised. I drove to Costco and made myself walk the whole store before I could grab my treat and take it home like a bear packing it away for winter.

Alas, I was thwarted on several levels. First, I started to get a migraine and had to find a place to sit quietly with my eyes closed until it passed. Unfortunately, I’d parked far from the store entrance, so my only alternative was the rest room. Just my luck, some woman had gotten her child a talking toy to entertain him while she shopped, and I got to listen to several minutes of “this is how we brush our teeth!” and “this is how we tie our shoes” in one of those perky, Sesame Street style voices that made me want to fly from the cubicle, oblivious to the pants hanging down around my ankles, and smash the thing into a million pieces. (I maintained a reasonable amount of decorum, more for the sake of preventing a full-on, head-cracking migraine than out of consideration for the mother and her child). I began to wonder if, like me, she sought sanctuary in a grey-walled cubicle, if only to have something entertain her child while she decompressed.

When my vision finally returned to normal, I left my dubious sanctuary, washed my hands, and went to find help in my search. Sadly, Costco no longer carries the industrial size jars of Jelly Bellies. It was probably for the best. I ended up at Von’s anyway, coming home with 2 small bags instead of the vat full of my sugary treat. I ended up eating more than I should have from one bag and stashed the rest away for my next sugar craving that won’t be quashed by chocolate or yogurt bars. At least the next time would be less frantic and probably require a smaller fix.

Healthy Habits Most of the Time

Like many of you, I put a lot of time and effort into creating habits which will give me more energy, keep my body healthy, and most of all, keep the doctor from insisting I control things like blood pressure and sugar with medication. But I’m an imperfect being, and sometimes, those old, unhealthy habits will demand attention, much like my cats insist they haven’t had any treats in ages. Like my cats, my last tumble off the healthful wagon might have been a day before. Still, part of me is a whiny, bratty child.

Most of the time, I can actually overrule the crappy food demons. I guess I can resist certain things better than others. Easier to convince myself I don’t need a pizza than to quell the desire for sugar in its most basic form, I suppose. Either way, I know I’ll feel crappy afterwards, but memories of feeling lousy fade when I’m in the midst of a full-on sugar attack.

Thankfully, these cravings don’t hit often any more, so falling off the wagon now and then isn’t a serious hit to my overall health. Even so, I wish I could make the cravings stop forever. I’ve even wished, in a rare moment of insanity that I was allergic to chocolate so I’d never be driven to eat it. I came to my senses before my mind made it real.

We Control Our Minds…to a Point

I know power over the mind is a real thing. You can stop a craving, change a mood, and even heal yourself with enough focus. I’ve even been reading about changing your DNA by the power of the mind alone! Though an amazing possibility, I’m on the fence on this one, waiting for more definitive proof and time tested techniques before I do any rerouting within my own meat suit and neural system.

Nevertheless, forming the habits I’ve already formed, however imperfect they may be did take a certain amount of retraining. I had to somehow convince myself I’d be happier if I was healthier instead of finding solace in sugar, salt, and fat. Some of it took actual health issues or scares, and some, finally getting tired of limitations.

That’s how I quit smoking for the last time (third time was a charm). I realized it was interfering with my dancing by taking away my stamina. It was finally enough to make me drop the nasty habit entirely. Though it took a few more years, establishing a regular gym routine came about for a similar reason. My knees and shoulders were giving me pain and grief. I knew deep down strength training would solve most, if not all of my problems in those areas.

Giving Myself a Break for Imperfections

A year and a half later, I rarely miss one of my thrice-weekly gym days. I’ve also added a daily walk to the mix. I thought that one would be hard to set but apparently, once you set a couple of healthy habits, it’s far easier to convince yourself to add a few more. Or at least, that’s how it’s shaken out for me.

Even mornings when I get up and really don’t feel like suiting up and hitting the pavement, something makes me do it. I can’t justify coffee or breakfast until I’ve made my 1.3 mile circuit. The funny thing is, no matter how slow and grumpy I feel when I walk out my door, by the time I’ve finished, I feel a lot better, and more ready to face the day.

Maybe changing physical activity rewires your DNA all by itself. I can’t argue that it raises my vibration, even if it’s only from grumpy and bored, to accepting. It’s still a better place to start my day.

Re-Wiring Myself for Better Habits

https://www.flickr.com/photos/genomegov/27861478565/in/photolist-36R456-TVEoV3-7Wybvd-4WUnY9-5fFekL-UxPtrE-JXsDow-JXsDFW-5xxC-i6g81S-pj2KGy-RqtEwb-3bW8wG-aiBE4-21HP7o-7WuXxi-a87gs-v23FG1-e5Ta5U-8hAaU2-7CJgqt-4RTmW-6VGoa4-21HP7G-bKycpP-bwDtbf-rBr5w5-Js2mU6-4RTmT-bKycvn-6nNpdg-dtid4-5hSULN-8qeqEZ-vi6Sx1-vi6iuY-v2adQn-vi6nRJ-vi5UuQ-v23BpL-umARN9-v23yrQ-umAZaJ-wkdd7E-daLc3v-bwDtvf-aLErhv-a3Giyp-9oXUVB-7S9ue4There’s a saying: “A body in motion stays in motion”. I have to wonder if it applies to change as well. Once you start making changes to your life, your mindset, or your environment, it seems to be easier to make additional changes. It’s as if the hard-wiring we all have making us resistant to change weakens as we keep making small changes. You fool it by keeping the changes small at first. When it starts accepting the small changes, you throw in a couple of larger ones.

Eventually, the change-resistant hard-wiring gets so confused, it can’t differentiate between mutability and stasis. In essence, you alter your DNA via the wiring in your brain because you’ve eliminated a natural resistance. If nothing else, I’ve discovered I’m less averse to change these days in areas I once held fast with dogged determination.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring other change-resistant areas in my psyche. I’ll share with you my findings, and where I’m still resistant, my efforts to break that resistance and form healthier habits for my mind and spirit as well as my body. Care to join me on this journey?

Could You Use Some Support to Make a Few Changes?

Do you want to make changes to your life or routine, but can’t find the time or motivation? Are you still trying to do it all instead of asking for help? Would taking a task or two off your plate give you time to be kinder to you? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

 
Gratitude is Great Fuel for Staying on Track

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the changes I’ve made in my life.
  2. I’m grateful for an increased willingness to try things I’d have run from not so long ago.
  3. I’m grateful for small changes which become huge improvements.
  4. I’m grateful for an outlook that gets better and more positive every day.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, stamina, energy, strength, flexibility, love, joy, dancing, hugs, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Clearing the Cobwebs of Painful Memories

Time To Do Some Clearing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/7849876896/in/photolist-cXEEV7-fPr3hz-ovy3Y-2TKGKr-RJSecz-81bjFu-o4c5Cv-5GdaKc-8D2F6U-22tfUjT-4DQbJU-5s2mHR-6En1bs-8n1pCV-dLvZgq-4Xbv3C-8n4xvC-nfdexu-cdNTt7-dRsadY-9gsEyT-8f7e7g-7JsrvP-6En2bL-8f7ibz-6EhUbV-fKGp59-5rR2oc-8f7fvF-8f7gWv-6En4DN-E8n3sk-dU6FTL-2ezHFm2-7H8SZN-2fyEitz-nrTHmV-21ULG68-gd3BS-5rVnWy-5rR3zM-cMbd8N-kzXmM-5rVneJ-5rR1VH-7hY577-oiDSem-DYf7cJ-ArNMhD-A6zcJMI’ve been suffering from a nasty case of ennui. I haven’t felt like doing much of anything, work-wise. I start writing only to push it aside as uninspired and dull. I do something less creative, and stop working on it when it will require creativity to complete.

I’m not really sure what I have stuck in my craw, but it’s also setting off migraines, or at least the beginnings of them with increasing frequency. This is not a good sign.

Meanwhile, I seem to be more engaged with taking care of myself; eating healthy meals, getting more exercise, and sleeping more than usual. But I’m frustrated with my lack of progress on the projects awaiting my attention. I’m annoyed by the things I’m not getting done, and the forward momentum which has come to a screeching, grinding halt.

Engaging My Tools to Free Creativity Held Captive

Venting my frustrations and irritation in this post is one of the ways I’ve found https://www.flickr.com/photos/eelundgaard/6843281107/in/photolist-bqHB4i-4nTQzD-7q252U-pbHQ71-7PAFYM-2em7Gkp-e44j5p-oBWaHi-4nSSHx-ZFC7EN-oAUXNJ-VBDg4S-XzbE8f-ghWwir-9DKTNV-5CrSjc-AGyeY-9kGdwf-eBVzrE-VnQuFb-8UQoiG-UfEVmU-Td5M2F-eauQmZ-dzQbgm-owmBAC-WSoCkm-c5MZNj-ebYA1j-9ijap5-5MLfF-9qug71-KAUJeL-jnr1Vx-ZFCdUG-6Nr9Fh-ZFCeYq-WewmJY-4MPtFk-TPDJ-VdcBDb-8pv5j-WqU5HJ-CDSsNh-CDSpbh-fNacTS-8XgrBS-g2iZgE-h3EJz8-4nGFiScan break up the logjam in my head and heart. But at the moment, the words I need to write seem to be stuck inside too. Hours before I usually retire, I’m ready to take out my contacts, brush my teeth, and go to bed. I toss and turn or fall victim to the cacophony in my head. I’m avoiding something with a vengeance, and that avoidance is leaking into everything I want or need to get to.

It’s as if the me who gets on a roll, knocking out articles and book chapters is being stuffed into a box with a rag in her mouth to keep her from screaming and disturbing the other inmates. She fights frantically but only succeeds in tightening the bonds restraining her and preventing her fingers from typing or scribbling.

The words pile up around her, filling what little space is left in the box until her efforts become more feeble, and ultimately she gives up, defeated, to lie whimpering at the bottom of the box, unable to help herself, with no one around to help, even if they could hear her or recognize her distress.

Fortunately, I’ve been here before, and managed to escape the box and spit out the rag. It might be a cafe writing session, or camping out for a few hours in the red Adirondack chairs on what I jokingly call my veranda, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood; birds chirping, a baby crying, a train tooting to warn cars at the intersections of it’s impending arrival. Occasionally, a fire engine’s wail intrudes as it rushes to another emergency.

Forging a New Path

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philipglevy/9462509263/in/photolist-fqaQkr-6B62hk-9jZwX5-4FH1En-54uCWa-a3Ns41-6BanmN-6DM4U9-5u49NP-6v9Puu-6DGTwD-4FMcCG-doJVpC-3ervgn-4FMcmC-pb1bmR-6v9McG-6DM5Wm-a71Zuu-5i6sb2-6B9Lkj-4FH1v4-gQpcex-jZKZ5o-6v9NNf-6B5zw6-89YYg5-6v9Xbb-6MPVRc-6v9Wow-6v5Gyk-aPQjfH-6v9QjU-6v5PF8-6v9VcG-cu2a4-DUvgxx-6v9YGJ-5oAaDQ-8ipJ7z-5VgzB9-6B9AVJ-5KTyGH-5Vce46-Uwsk9p-6vNzky-6v5FCV-6B5rgp-6v9UFb-6v9LjqThis time I choose the chairs and my porch. I pull out a spiral binder and my pack of multi-colored V5 pens, date the page, and bring up the next writing prompt from “A Writer’s Book of Days”. Propped up on the two-sided UCLA-USC pillows my evil daughter made me, I write a few words, digging into my subconscious for inspiration. My 3 garage cats, Max, Cinders, and Hailey come running as I settle in to assure me they’ve been neglected for days; maybe even weeks.

After awhile, the words start to flow and the dregs of my subconscious hit the page, drifting further and further from the actual prompt. It doesn’t really matter what I write. This exercise has one purpose; to get me writing and spilling my guts.

Revisiting Previous Epiphanies

One such exercise yielded the realization that I harbored a great deal of anger https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9Yqrtowards my dad, not because he took his life, but because of all the years, time,  and effort I spent trying to earn his approval. What I got instead was abuse and disdain. It also made me see the underlying cause of my inability to form a strong, loving relationship. What I’d been taught to believe was love was light years away from a relationship based on kindness, compassion, and respect.

The trouble is, once I recognized the anger, my mind wanted to clutch it close like the childhood teddy bear my cat Snowy had licked clean of its fur. Unfortunately, my anger wasn’t soft and benign like that bear. It was intrusive and destructive. Like the bear, it was dull and dingy, and needed to be tossed out.

Old habits die hard though. I’d just converted the love and devotion I’d carried for decades without reciprocation  to anger and hurt. The space it filled in my heart and mind wasn’t ready to be empty, if only until I could fill it with happier memories and emotions.

Allowing Myself to Enjoy the Empty Space

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oddsock/1074766279/in/photolist-Qq8gms-2CYsz6-9LDCMr-f2j8XG-9LDCYn-5Y9PzH-FkrgSH-nvoHbg-9mtAak-iD74WS-6mvA4s-4rrcvn-6Vw4xM-zHyznr-4LSv6x-8JNcR5-6TQeJd-7nXLkF-LciV1-5f6yL-9AuXrj-7o2EMh-69J8C8-8TorzY-5d1ns-JzytHf-26ReUcc-25BFXcJ-DmHVZK-qGRjJY-25BFVU3-25niJrT-iEZMGh-Jzyr59-6rXktd-6rXkoU-bYfvh-6jLb3F-ibKpJ7-6rXjNd-xkP6c-8jf2iK-V2pgYm-bYfvq-9LGr25-nqymWu-9Hspoj-77msAd-5V8poC-5zqHbfSuch is the challenge of replacing old hurts with something better. I have to be willing to endure an empty hollowness for a little while until the space has been swept clean of all the old cobwebs and can comfortably house something more pleasant. I’ve spent too many years filling spaces with anything just to avoid the emptiness.

But I’m learning. I no longer clutter up my personal space with stuff. I’ve discovered I love a clear desk, a clean kitchen, a dresser I can set something down on and not lose it amidst the junk piled on top. A made-up bed and an empty director’s chair make me feel happy and free rather than anxious these days.

I see the space I’ve filled with unrequited love, and more recently, anger as I view my desktop; more useful when it’s cleared off than when it’s piled with papers, knick knacks, and dust bunnies.  I see myself standing in the middle of a room where those negative, destructive feelings have lived and festered, feeling refreshed and vindicated as I vacuum up the cobwebs, stuff all the accumulated junk in a giant trash bag, scrub the walls and apply clean, fresh paint. I scrub and scrape until the floor is as clean and welcoming as the newly painted walls.

Another Painful Memory Purged

I stand in the doorway feeling lighter; freer; at peace. It’s going to be OK. The room can remain empty for now. I have new memories to make, new love; real love to fill it with. The emptiness isn’t fearful at all. It’s possibilities.

Gazing at the room, empty and waiting to be filled with light and love, I feel my ennui slipping away again. I know it will come back as it always does. It is my mind and soul’s way of telling me it’s time to clean out another room, or clear some weeds from my garden. The rooms have filled and the garden became overgrown over my lifetime. The changes and clearing need to take place over time too. If I listen to my heart, I’ll know when the time comes again.

Moving Forward With a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the reminders that it’s time to do some more clearing. They may be frustrating, but they serve a purpose.
  2. I am grateful for the new memories I’m forming to replace the old, sad, angry ones.
  3. I am grateful for the tools I’ve developed to help me let go of things and move on.
  4. I am grateful for signs that tell me I’m on the right track, even when I’m feeling stuck.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, light, friendship, joy, health, harmony, peace, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Not a Part of the Drinking Crowd

Alcohol: The Balm of the Working Classes

I was raised in a family of drinkers. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all tossed down a few drinks to loosen up and have a good time. My parents drank pretty much daily. Just one or two to unwind from a stressful day, of course, but daily nonetheless. My mom sent me off to college with a giant bottle of Almaden wine, and happily kept me supplied, though it took me months to finish a single bottle.

Small wonder I married a man who’d been raised much the same. His family turned to the bottle for celebrations, to ward off pain and sadness, pretty much any excuse was a valid one. The only difference between our families was his preferred cheap wine and beer while mine drank the hard stuff with a beer or glass of wine thrown in for variety.

It took me years to realize, as I continued to attract people who drank heavily, why I always felt like an outsider. Perhaps disliking the feel of being out of control contributed to what people probably felt was my standoffish behavior. I’m not entirely sure, but eventually I realized I didn’t like being around drunk people, and for a while, simply retreated.

Finding My Tribe in the Moderate Drinkers

Eventually, I found my way into the Country dancing crowd who, for the most part, drank sparingly if at all while dancing. Even off the dance floor, the people I’m around these days never get sloppy drunk. We may have one more glass of wine, or can of beer than we should, but we’re extremely conscious of the times we have to drive, or the company we’re keeping. The truth is, we don’t need to hide from our lives like that in the first place. The solution to all of our problems is the dancing and the connections we make through our community.

The change in me was gradual, so it took a long time to recognize the changes I was making and the healthier, more connected lifestyle I’d chosen. When I dance, I rarely drink. It’s a combination of needing to have my balance so I can do the turns and crazy two-step moves my partners lead, and having to drive myself home. I may have my fair share of speeding tickets, but I’m proud to say I’ve never gotten a DUI, and the way I live now, I probably never will. I simply do not drink if I have to drive, or if I do, it’s one early in the evening and it’s long out of my system by the time I get behind the wheel.

Drinking to Oblivion Ain’t the Answer

https://www.flickr.com/photos/clevercupcakes/4576733748/in/photolist-7YqXuy-22jbZb8-XZte3w-2E38fh-dtp56c-3NUNY-3NUP3-3NSUZ-3NSUK-VUxVut-aMjLSn-dUKkRp-4JpM4a-abD91G-932Hmu-8fJSDf-62xx8V-3c4zza-dUKms6-5AZhfv-dUQT8y-cPLm-3aqeS9-4NhLC1-4zty2J-4ttyNi-6U4fPj-3akHYp-3e21kE-6T47EL-obfTpE-3dWA6R-h2wXwy-7drB1P-ostgj2-6ieis7-a1LDFH-21n5r2B-q2i6g3-XScYar-dXwB6L-gQahXg-8EdGQ2-qFJcdw-YuGC4s-Jy7Cf2-28d1ChD-PHSfjW-x3xs87-MXhQbuSure, I wasn’t always this conscientious. I remember more than one trip from UCLA to my parents’ home in Westlake Village after consuming more than enough cheap wine at a party. Clearly, the angels were on my shoulder then. They were there again each time my ex used to get stumbling down drunk then drive us home, oblivious to how he even got us there safely. My daughters, too have tales of him sucking down another beer before driving them home. I think that was the single biggest factor in their refusing to visit him by the time they were 11. They were terrified to get in the car with him, and put an end to it in the only way they knew how.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against a social drink or two at a party or even the bar where I dance. I do take issue with those who don’t know when to stop, or, in some cases, can’t. It’s no fun to dance with someone who’s three sheets to the wind, and even less fun to watch them stumble out to their car and, just by turning the key in the ignition, put strangers at risk.

I also understand that for many like my parents and my ex, alcoholism is a sickness which, like many ailments, needs professional help to cure. The trouble is, many alcoholics don’t think they have a problem, and don’t want to stop drinking—at least until or unless something awful happens. By then, for many it’s too late to fix what’s broken.

The Dark, Empty Side of Alcohol and Substance Abuse

I’ve seen marriages dissolved (mine for one), families estranged (also mine), and friendships lost because someone couldn’t break their dependence on alcohol, or for that matter, some other chemical means of coping with life. Though I haven’t seen it myself, I know people who lost a loved one who simply drank themselves to death. A slow suicide, yes, but in my eyes, a suicide nonetheless.

If I learned nothing else from watching my family and my ex’s, it’s that most things are OK or even good in moderation. Doing just about anything to excess can damage your health or even kill you—even exercise and drinking water.

Grateful for Once to be the Outsider

My family taught me by example that I’m one of the fortunate ones. I don’t need help from https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpdrugs or alcohol to cope with my life. I’ve found ways to enjoy it so I don’t need to just cope. Sure, there were steps along the way I thought I did, but as I stop hiding and start showing up, I’m learning my friends are a whole lot better than blurring my edges. Dancing is a much better outlet for my stress and frustration which thankfully show up much less frequently since I left the Corporate jungle.

And I’ve learned that sometimes you just need to sob your guts out and release all the built up crap inside. Tears are water and water washes away the dirt, grit and grime so it’s one of the most healing things we can do. I’ve also learned a phone call, text message, or PM asking “are you OK? Do you need anything?” is one of the most healing balms of all.

Breaking Old Habits

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about how some of us are here to break old family patterns. Often we’re the ones who never fit in with our own kin. I’m learning how many of those old patterns I’ve come here to break. And I’m doing my damndest to end some of them forever so those who come after me can truly make a difference without the shackles of our restrictive and confining heritage.

Are you the rebel child in your family? If so, did you ever wonder why? Try looking at some of the familial patterns which serve no one; addiction, negativity, depression. The list goes on, and will be different for every family. If you’ve shied away from the “family way”, you’re probably the rebel who will make positive changes. Know there are many of us out here in the same boat who can and will support you in a very difficult and often lonely mission.

Gratitude is One of Our Greatest Tools

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I was born to be the family rebel; the one who was cast out because she wouldn’t conform to the patterns and beliefs which had long outlived their usefulness.
  2. I am grateful for the friendships I’m forming with people who don’t share the negative attributes I left behind.
  3. I am grateful for my cats who are struggling to re-adjust to my changing work habits. I used to work while they were sleeping. Now, they’re awake and wanting attention when I’m just hitting my stride.
  4. I am grateful I’m learning my schedule doesn’t have to conform with the rest of the world. If my work schedule is from 2PM to midnight, and that’s when my productivity skyrockets, there’s no reason to fight it. TV is boring at night anyway.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, harmony, peace, sobriety, joy, friendship, dancing, compassion, dreaming, writing, inspiration, motivation, visibility, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

A Quiet Christmas, A Renewed Sense of Purpose

A Year in Review: Reiterating My Purpose

For the first time in years, I spent Christmas Eve and Day alone. I won’t go into all the reasons why except to say it was by choice as well as circumstance. The time alone gave me a chance to go inside, do some soul searching and gain some perspective.

Although I don’t always give myself credit, I did meet some of my goals this year. Others were extended into 2019 while I worked on my infrastructure. Not the physical so much as the mental, emotional, and spiritual.

I started working with coach Linda Clay on a regular basis after being one of the beta testers for her new program. The month-long beta test yielded such positive results I opted to continue, and came to a mutually beneficial arrangement to make it happen.

Successes Always Outweigh Setbacks

The end of the year brought a number of setbacks which at times left me unable or unwilling to accomplish much. Even my thrice weekly gym visits suffered a bit, at times becoming only twice. I actually see that as a win, if only because if I missed, it was only once a week, where in the past, it would probably have been the entire week. Clearly, it’s one habit I’ve cemented into my life and lifestyle, which is a huge leap forward in my opinion.

I’ve also managed to stay at least a week ahead with my blog posts, and am slowly working my way back to 2 or 3. My goal right now is to finish the last 8 posts for January no later than the 12th. And, despite setbacks and delays, I still plan to honor my latest goal of finishing the current edit of Life Torn Asunder by the end of January.

What Others See Pales Beside What Lies Beneath the Surface

My goals may not sound lofty to an outsider, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg of my plans Created with Canvafor January and getting them done sooner rather than later leaves more time to take care of all the things I’m working on with my coach, and to propel myself forward according to some pretty lofty plans and goals.

I’d like to spend at least 25% of my time ghostwriting and another 25% getting my books finished, investigating publishing options, taking the necessary steps to make those options a reality, and promoting before, during, and after publication. The promotion side, especially will find me stepping even further away from the comfort zone I’m losing sight of, even as we speak.

That comfort zone was a huge part of my Christmas revelations. Each step I take nowadays is scary, more because they’re all steps into uncharted territory for me. I know I’ll trip and fall many times along the way, but I also know I have tons of support now. My support comes from places I’ve come to expect and appreciate immensely, but it’s also been coming from new, unexpected, and no less appreciated directions as well.

I think the single biggest factor in my continued forward progress is knowing support will be there for me every step of the way. I may not see it at the moment, but it hasn’t failed me in longer than I can remember.

Allowing Our Cycles to Run Their Course

Sure, there are places where the odds were against me, and I lost someone or something I loved. I have to accept it, even if I have to go off to my hermit hole and sob a few sobs, shed a lot of tears, and continue a grieving process which will run as long as it needs to. Even those days are productive, if not as much as I’d like. I’ve written my share of articles or researched options for one of the many aspects of my life during those seemingly down times. Shutting myself away doesn’t mean I sit around doing nothing.

I got hooked on the Hallmark Christmas movies before Halloween, and watched more TV than is my wont for the next couple of months. But there comes a time when I reach TV burnout. Then I pick up a book, a notebook and pen, or put my fingers on the keyboard and create. One night even saw me in front of the TV with my laptop on a TV tray creating one of my January posts.

Creating New Healthy Habits

I promised myself I’d reinstate “cafe writing Fridays” after my Friday workouts. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere for lunch, others, a snack and some green tea (I’ve given up coffee, hopefully temporarily while I get my blood pressure under control). My plan is to drag my sweaty-from-the-gym body, my pink bag full of writing materials, and Judy Reeves’ “A Writer’s Book of Days” to every coffee shop, diner, and sandwich shop in town over the next few months. Weather permitting, I’ll also start making use of the numerous parks in town for a change in scenery.

For now, my cafe writing involves a writing prompt, but even there, I’m coming up with some interesting, gut level material, some of which will find it’s way into my memoir, and some into blogs. I’m learning it’s nearly as effective as my morning pages for bringing buried treasure from the depths of my subconscious.

Helping Others to Help Myself

I’ve also started a dialogue with another writer friend, and will start having regular meetups to https://www.flickr.com/photos/58972357@N05/5680789916/in/photolist-9DZwVJ-fgdGm6-a7SYcH-j5jSC4-bGN8dZ-aJn5JF-bExNVg-mSGMdi-ZHWqmm-7LMiyj-9TwjCJ-5AtELB-og1PZ9-4tVBpH-WTy2SC-EYkqoA-9Whomq-qMuq1D-GKUFur-aGDwDa-baLAor-cigULC-dD9LSa-7LFh2P-4LQn4r-fSLy1g-28pzedw-auCkkH-RfUzXE-ap1CA8-4wLABT-9GLXQH-dSP1Wa-7SfMF9-4eBRX6-MUhNVs-7MbCEk-obXLkM-9aGddR-Ns2VHy-jrsEXB-b1D8J-gch9Kk-ouhpzq-e2HHU1-9W9F11-xGa8K-23rp1Yb-am4k5G-ahouP7write or read each others’ work. My experience with organized writers’ groups has been both helpful and frustrating, so maybe starting one-on-one will get me headed back in the right direction, and writing more, procrastinating less. (Some would say I’m too hard on myself given I’m keeping 2-3 weeks ahead on blog posts, but I have higher aspirations for myself. Doesn’t everyone?)

Even now, as much as I share large chunks of myself here, on my website, and in my books, I know when I write, I’m still writing for myself rather than an audience. Perhaps I’m short-sighted if my goal is to grow my writing business, but I’ve learned oftentimes when I write for myself, other people relate better to what I’m saying.

Although I’m still tearing down some of the walls I spent 6 decades building, I believe I’ve sufficiently eradicated the masks and costuming I wore for nearly as long. I no longer feel the need to hide anything of myself. Others are free to accept or reject; agree or disagree; love or hate what I’m saying. I’m learning not to take it personally. Their reactions are as much their own as my writing is mine. Often, I learn from those responses anyway, and am driven to dig deeper to try to understand myself and some of the deep-seated feelings better.

Start With New Goals and Solidify Them With Gratitude

My Christmas musings were a start. They yielded, not a full conversation or set of goals, but launched the conversation I expect to continue throughout 2019, until I take another few days to look within, and to recognize what I’ve accomplished, the lessons I’ve learned, and the challenges I’ve overcome. Each day, each week, each month, each year, is a new opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve something great. Let’s make each and every moment count, because the future is not promised to any of us.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people in my life who keep me moving forward, keep me humble, and keep me from diving back into my comfort zone.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who have been there to comfort and keep me company through the tough times, the crazy times, and the celebratory times as well.
  3. I am grateful for my butt kickers, Heather, Linda, and Candy especially, who may not always see what’s going on, but force me to look and create things I’m proud of.
  4. I am grateful for the excitement in my heart and bones for the upcoming year, the projects I’ve begun, and the ones I’ve yet to start.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, motivation, friendship, joy, health, prosperity, harmony, peace, challenges, lessons, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Sometimes Writing is Hard

Pushing Past Writer’s Block

I’ve fought with myself for the last two days about sitting down to write Wednesday’s blog post. I had an idea I thought I was going to go with, but somehow, I managed to find every excuse in the book to avoid sitting down at my computer and starting to write.

Most of the time, I tell people how easy it is for me to write, whether it’s my morning pages, a writing prompt, or a blog post. I can usually dash off a thousand words or more without much thought. Of course, the key to any writing is sitting down with pen or computer keyboard at hand and actually putting pen to paper or fingers to keys. My problem with this post has been, to use an old movie title, a failure to launch.

When Habits We Set Become Non-Negotiable

I find it difficult, if not impossible to skip my morning pages after about 2 years of dedication to the task. In fact, on the days I do have to skip (which can be counted on one hand with fingers left over) I feel like the day never really gets started properly. Like I’m running on 4 1/2 cylinders instead of 8. And I know if I go to bed tonight without having scheduled the post for Wednesday, I’ll feel off all day knowing, not that I let anyone else down, but that I let myself down.

I used to let myself down all the time. I’d honor commitments to friends, strangers, and co-workers while ignoring commitments to myself. I’ve learned how damaging that can be to my self-esteem, and work hard to ensure I no longer forget about the most important person in my life. It has led to having a number of things that are non-negotiable: thrice weekly gym visits, dance nights, morning pages, and thrice weekly blog posts. (re-reading this I’m seeing how heavily I’m influenced, without even realizing it, but the “Rule of Three“).

We Are the Most Important Commitment

It doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes struggle with one or another of my self-imposed commitments (usually writing or editing). It means sometimes, like now, I really have to force myself to start. The funny thing is, once I do begin one of my tasks, no matter how unmotivated I might have been, everything comes together. On the days I have to drag myself to the gym (which thankfully are relatively rare these days) I’ll tell myself “I’ll just do a couple of machines, a stretch and get out of here”. Those are the days I’m usually there for an hour and a half or two hours, working extra hard.

Blog writing is no different. I may wait until 10 or 11 o’clock to start, but once I get going, I’m a beast, and it’s usually one of my longer posts. I can’t say right now if my pattern will stand tonight. For all I know, I’ll end this particular ramble at 700 words or so. For those who’ve been reading for a while, that’s flash fiction compared to what I typically write. But some days, I just need to write a shorter post. It’s no reflection on how committed I am to myself. It’s simply a day when ideas flow more slowly, and I don’t have the usual waterfall of words flowing from my fingers.

Yet the commitment is honored whether I write 2000 words or 700. I think that’s what I’m trying to say here, and it matches a saying I have on my vision board. “Creator, you take care of quality and I’ll take care of quantity.” It was one of the many things besides my morning pages I took away from Judith Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”.

Goal Setting and Baby Steps

When we set small goals, we might dive in and accomplish them in a single session, a single push. But our large goals, be they writing a book, healing from a trauma, learning something new; they all require a series of smaller steps, maybe even baby steps. Trying to get from point A to point B instead of skipping to point R on some of those larger tasks is often necessary, not only so the foundation is firm, but so we learn some essential lessons along the way.

My writing is one of those things. Committing to three blog posts a week is one of my baby steps. Making myself sit down at the computer and pound out a post, even when I don’t feel like it is training for what I need to know and do if I ever want to be that best-selling author who currently lives in my head.

Inspiration From Persistence

I admit I’ve put J.K. Rowling on a rather tall pedestal, but she epitomizes what it means to set goals, then work towards them. She is a huge inspiration to me regarding what we can do when we set down our stepping stones, securing them in place, then setting down a few more.

Success rarely comes easily. It’s reached by traveling a road filled with triumphs and disappointments, but mostly, of small steps which, when we’re consistent, when we’re persistent, bring us, ultimately to our goal. Of course, by then, we’ve likely set new ones, but the road to each goal is paved with lessons which will help us, not only with the goal we’re currently working towards, but for the even loftier ones we set once we’ve achieved the first ones.

Color My World With Words

Many times, I feel like I’m not painting the vivid pictures we writers are supposed to paint with our words. I’m not giving readers enough detail to allow them to see what I’m seeing, or at least see it colored by their own experiences. Then someone will say to me “I can tell you’re a writer by the way you answered my questions”. It tells me the word picture I painted, believing it was insufficient was actually enough for them to see something that was at least close to what I was seeing.

Too often we sell ourselves short, or fail to start on the road to a goal, even talking ourselves out of it, thinking it’s too ambitious. I’m learning no goal is too ambitious if you can see it clearly in your mind. No vision is too lofty if you can feel it in the depths of your soul. It’s simply tragic if we envision ourselves with the goal achieved, yet can’t find a way to launch ourselves, to take those first small, seemingly inconsequential steps. No step is inconsequential or unimportant if it moves you even the slightest bit away from what you know and are comfortable with, into something that is different and maybe even scares you a little.

Using Our Fears as Stepping Stones

In all honesty, I’m a little terrified of getting my memoir published and out there to the general public. I’m scared to get up in front of a bunch of people and talk openly and honestly about losing someone to suicide, about understanding how a person can feel depressed and suicidal, and about forgiving myself. I know I’ll get a fair amount of heat for postulating that suicide is a choice, and for some people, the only one they believe they have left. But I’m more afraid of being in the same spot I am now, 5 years from now, or even 1 year from now, having accomplished nothing.

We all have to face our fears. Frankly, I don’t believe we have a choice. Some may choose to face theirs by wrapping themselves in cotton wool and retreating from the world. They may feel safe there, but they sure aren’t happy. I spent enough time in that particular town to know. It’s lonely and dark, and the feeling of being disconnected from the world is far more painful than anything I’ve encountered by taking a few risks and letting people into my life and the world I kept hidden for so long.

Honoring Personal Commitments is Our Biggest Success Story

Once again, I’ve honored my commitment to myself to write a post every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday by dashing off a “few” words for this one. As before, I set out to dash off a few hundred words, and ended up with over 1,000 again. It seems I’m incapable of saying anything in a few hundred words. But I’m also incapable of following a single thread to it’s reasonable and predictable conclusion. I think that’s why my writing has been such a great therapist for me, and in the process, has shown others they’re not alone in feeling some of the alone-ness, the frustration, the round peg in a square hole-ness they’ve felt while trying to navigate the ever-changing landscape we call life.

The best advice I was ever given was to set my goals in broad strokes and don’t try to control the steps or even the outcome. I do the same with my writing. I get my fingers on the keyboard and type the first few words. But what you ultimately see here and on my website is very much a free flow of ideas that comes, maybe from somewhere inside me, and maybe from the Universe itself while I’m but a vehicle to communicate what needs to be said. I’ve let go of the need to know where the words are coming from. I’m perfectly OK with being the conduit rather than the source.

Like moving towards our goals, there are many roads we could take. The easy ones might get us there faster, but the tougher ones give us tools we’ll need later to tackle the tougher goals which may not come with an easy road. I’m happy with the way my words flow out, just as I’m happy with the roads I choose. I don’t need to analyze why I followed one train of thought rather than another any more than I need to know why I chose one road over another. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all part of my personal grand plan which puts me exactly where I’m supposed to be at any given time.

That’s enough.

Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful I have learned to honor the commitments I make to myself first and foremost.
  2. I’m grateful for the ease with which words flow from my fingers when I get out of my own way.
  3. I’m grateful for being able to type fast enough to keep up with the thoughts my brain is thinking, and the ones I’m sure are seedlings being planted.
  4. I’m grateful I’m a night owl so commitments I put off can still be accomplished when the sun has long ago started shedding it’s light on the other side of the world.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance, ideas, commitment, persistence, innovation, inspiration, overcoming fear, baby steps, new goals, friendship, joy, love, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

8 Truths About Achieving and Maintaining Your Healthy Body

A Healthy Body Starts With Consistent Healthy Habits

Over the years I’ve joked about being a founding member of the diet of the month club. If you add up all the pounds I’ve lost and re-found over my 6 decades in this human form, I’ve recreated myself at least four times over, and not in a good way. In retrospect, I’ve learned a thing or three about reaching a healthy weight and staying there even as my own journey to get there continues.

Truth 1: Your Healthy Weight is Nobody’s Business But Yours

Body beautiful is not, as the advertising, weight loss, and fitness industries would like us to believe, in the eyes of the beholder. It’s in how you feel about yourself. I’ve seen plenty of size 20’s who love who they are and the shape they’re in more than most size 2’s. We aren’t here to be someone’s artificial conception of beautiful, nor are all bodies created equal. We must work with what we have and learn to do that work with the same love and respect we give to people outside that body—maybe more.

Truth 2: Dieting is the Least Healthy Way to Honor the Body You’re in

I’ve tried so many diets over the years, from the grapefruit diet to protein power to weight watchers, and more. Every time I went off the “diet” I gained back everything I’d lost and then some. Why? Because they weren’t sustainable in the long term. The only thing that’s worked and allowed me to keep most of the weight off has been a combination of Neurogym’s Winning the Game of Weight Loss (WTGOWL) and MyFitnessPal.

I’ve learned having a community which encourages me, retraining my brain to, dare I say it, move more and eat less, and tracking every bite I put in my mouth are the only things I need to follow a healthy regimen. Add in my Fitbit and the exercise-tracking function on MyFitnessPal and my results are easily predictable. A healthy body needs three things; good nutrition, movement, and water. OK four. We also need sufficient sleep. Good nutrition isn’t just about eating 3 squares a day, but more on that later.

Truth 3: Grazing is a Losing Proposition

The first thing I had to learn was to stop keeping food at my desk. In the first place I need to get up and move around every hour or so, and in the second when food is too convenient I eat too much of the things I don’t need in my diet in the first place (raw veggies don’t keep very long in a jar on top of my desk). We also have to find our own baseline, meal-wise.

Some people do quite well on two meals a day. Others need three plus a snack in the afternoon. There are dozens of variations on this theme, but only one thing matters. You have to find what works best for you, not only when you’re releasing extra pounds, but when you’re maintaining your goal weight. The key word here is “sustainable”. What can you live with for the rest of your life without feeling cheated or deprived?

Truth 4: You Must Move it or Lose it

Our bodies are a miracle of engineering. All of the parts are self-sustainable but only if we move around and give everything the space needed to perform optimally. Our hearts need to be pushed to their limits regularly. Our legs need to lift us up and down, flexing the joints and keeping them lubricated. Our lungs need to push air through themselves at different rates so they can flush out the toxins we accumulate by breathing foul air.

Speaking of toxins, those suckers accumulate in our muscles too, and have to be released. There’s no better way to kick the toxins out of our muscles than to challenge them. Make them do something that requires a bit more effort than lifting a pencil or your car keys.

If you’re anything like me (assuming you’re not 25 and still getting away with murder, body-wise) you know when you’ve been sitting too long. Shoulders ache, hips complain, and you hear a bunch of pops and creaks when you get up to go to the bathroom or get something from the kitchen. That’s our bodies reminding us they need to move around regularly. So scrub a floor, or take a hike, or have a dance party in your living room. You can even join a gym and go lift some weights, giving you the added bonus of getting out of the house and away from the kitchen. Your body will love you for it, though the aches and pains it gives you for pushing yourself may feel otherwise at first. You’re making it stronger and more resilient with every pound you press, lift, or squat.

Truth 5: If You Want to Be Healthy, You Must Read Labels

The American food industry is in the business of making us fat. That’s right! They put crap in our food that inhibits our natural triggers telling us we’re full, just for starters. We have to break up with all the additives they put in our food. Sorry folks, this means either you have to start cooking or learn to enjoy all your food in its raw form. Though the latter isn’t without merit, there are some things I, myself prefer cooked. (Don’t try to sneak raw kale into my salad. I will find it, hopefully before I gag on it!)

That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Processed food is loaded with sodium, sugar, and things with names as long as your arm only a scientist can pronounce. I’m a firm believer in the saying “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t put it in your body”. If a word has that many letters in it, there’s a good chance it’s a chemical our liver won’t recognize as food anyway. That poor, overworked organ is there to filter out toxins which means anything it doesn’t recognize as real, natural food. When everything we eat comes out of a box, our liver is filtering out more than it’s allowing into our bloodstream, or at least it’s trying to.

Truth 6: Stop Eating When You’re Full

This one is a toughie for me, and especially if I’m out with friends. The plate sits in front of me with food left on it; quite delicious food at that. Though my stomach is giving me that “put one more bite in me and I’ll explode” message, I can’t help picking at the food on the plate as conversation ebbs and flows around me. I know I’m going to feel miserable if I go past the full line on my stomach, but I can’t help myself.

I’ve learned to ask the waitress to take my plate as soon as I feel full, or get a box for the leftovers. Years ago when I was doing Weight Watchers, they suggested we ask for a box as soon as our meal was delivered and immediately put half of whatever is on our plate into the box. Out of sight, out of mind, so to speak.

I actually find it harder to follow this at home where I have everything I need to get the excess out of my face. Often it’s because I waited too long between meals and fixed myself a larger portion than I actually needed to make up for the excessive gap. I’m still learning that a longer period of time between one meal and the next does not mean my stomach is emptier. It’s a finite space. That space is either full, empty, or somewhere in between. It doesn’t miraculously grow larger when we withhold food for 6 hours instead of 3 or 4. Like my cats, it wants us to believe it’s starving, but it’s all an illusion.

Truth 7: Eating Slowly Makes You Eat Less

It takes our brains about 20 minutes to realize we’ve put food in our stomach. I won’t go into the scientific reasons behind this, but if you’re interested, you can always Google it. That being said, the more slowly we eat, the longer it takes to consume less, and the more likely our brain is to at least try to stop us from overeating.

I don’t necessarily recommend the “chew everything x number of times” method you hear in the old wives’ tales, and from Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory fame. Weight Watchers had good advice for this one too. Put your fork down on the plate between bites. Concentrate on chewing. Savor the food you’re eating rather than simply stuffing it down your throat to silence the whining of your stomach. If all you want to do is fill the space, you can do that with a smoothie or something healthy but tasteless. If you’re taking the trouble to make something you actually like to eat, slow down and enjoy it.

Truth 7: Never Beat Yourself Up Over Imperfect Health Habits

You’re human. You will choose immediate pleasure over good sense some of the time. So what? You’re allowed to be imperfect. In fact, being imperfect is what makes you unique. Embrace that uniqueness. Shrug off the momentary lapse and do better next time. You can’t change what’s already happened anyway, so why dwell on it and make yourself crazy. Life offers us enough crazy-making opportunities without giving them to ourselves.

Truth 8: Love Yourself No Matter What

We always treat ourselves better when we not only love and appreciate the entire package, but tell that beautiful, wonderful, unique face in the mirror so. Complement yourself—often and effusively. My personal favorite is “I’m beautiful, sexy, sassy, and delicious!”. Find something that makes you smile,  look yourself in the eye, and say it at least once a day. You’ll see evidence of the effectiveness of your affirmations in the choices you make.

When you’re happy with yourself, you don’t need comfort foods to make you happy. You’ll choose the salad over the burger, the broccoli over the fries. You’ll carry yourself with confidence and be grateful for the 2,000 crunches that made your gut ache for days. You’ll feel the strength those crunches gave you in the lack of back pain and the ability to get up off the floor without needing a crane. You’ll walk past a mirror and instead of cringing, you’ll smile because you see a strong, confident person standing straight and tall. You may not be perfect even in your own eyes, but knowing you’re doing the right things will be enough.

Gratitude is the Ultimate Motivator

You may have noticed I always end my posts with at least 5 gratitudes. There’s a good reason for it. When I stop and think about my blessings, I lose sight of my flaws, if only for a few minutes. Often, I realize it’s my flaws which led me to my blessings anyway. So here are today’s gratitudes:

  1. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had with the weight loss merry-go-round. They’ve taught me to love and respect this temporary package I occupy.
  2. I am grateful for the people who have overcome obstacles far larger than my own. They show me it’s about attitude more than anything else. Be the ant who moved the rubber tree plant.
  3. I am grateful for the progress I’ve made and continue to make.
  4. I am grateful I finally learned to love and respect my body, no matter what shape it’s in. In loving and respecting it, I can do more with less pain than ever before, even if I do some of it more slowly.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; health, happiness, energy, community, friendship, support, encouragement, inspiration, motivation, love, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your uniquely genuine self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

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