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Posts tagged ‘Self-improvement’

Attitude: The Ultimate Motivator

Analyzing My Attitude

As I recently embarked on a new version of my lifelong weight management journey (courtesy of Julia Cameron’s “Writing to Diet”), I tend to think about it more than usual. Being the analytical sort, I take it apart and put it back together in various configurations. In one scenario, I look at how others treat their less-than-perfect bodies. Let’s be honest, here. I’ve never met a woman who couldn’t find something she didn’t like about her body!

Still and all, I find those who are more successful focus more on changing one thing, and it has nothing to do with food or exercise.

Re-assessing the Messages I Send Myself

You’ve probably seen a lot of meme’s and posts lately dealing with how people https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691Nrespond to the messages they receive. Whether you tell a child she’s smart or dumb, she’ll more often than not meet your expectations.

Humans like you and me grow up on the outside, but there’s a part of us which will always be that child who’s easily influenced by expectations; both internal and external. When we tell ourselves things like:

You’re a mess. You need to clean up your act.

or

You’ll never lose the weight you need to. You’re a fatty who can’t control her eating.

or

You gained back 3 ounces. Might as well go scarf that gallon of ice cream. You’re a failure.

In one sense, you’re ripping away at your own self-confidence, and in another, you’re giving yourself permission to keep failing—to keep disappointing the most important person in your life—YOU!

Self-Improvement is the Ultimate Goal

One of the requirements for the new self-improvement program I’ve embarked upon (and yes, I see it as self-improvement rather than weight loss) is to take a 20-minute walk every day. As it happens, I’ve been trying to get into the habit of walking daily for months without success. Somehow, though, when Ms. Cameron wrote about it and offered examples from students who’d followed her plan successfully, I came up with my own plan to make it work.

I know myself well, so getting dressed and out the door had to be a first-thing-in-the-morning task, or it would get put off the way my gym workouts were until I created a plan. If you’ve been following me for the last year or so, you know I’ve been incredibly successful at meeting my 3-day-a-week gym goal, because I assigned myself specific days with their own specific workout. (Monday; legs, Wednesday; chest and triceps, Friday; back and biceps).

As a result, I’m stronger, leaner, and have more energy. I also know it’s not enough, because I wasn’t sticking to my healthier diet so my weight was going up and down like a yo-yo. I’d like to believe at least half of the poundage I reacquired is muscle mass, but who am I kidding? Indeed, a part of it might be, but my clothes were fitting tighter again, and contrary to popular belief, they did not shrink in the wash!

Motivation According to Plan

In order to make the daily walk work with my schedule, I had to put it after writing morning pages and feeding the cats (tasks I can’t move around any more than I already have!), and before coffee and my usual yogurt and blueberries breakfast. Trust me, when coffee is the reward for getting my sneakers on and heading out the door to walk for a mere 20 minutes, little if anything gets between me and that walk!

Now, I could tell you I motivate myself by looking at the too-high numbers on the scale or the ample figure in the mirror and berating myself, but not only would I be lying, I’d be doing you a gross disservice. The truth is, I look at the numbers on the scale and, even when they go back up a bit, I look at my excel spreadsheet and see how many pounds I’ve released over time rather than what I regained over a day or two. It reminds me how much I’m capable of, and that there will always be setbacks.

Positive Reinforcement

I also look myself in the mirror and notice the positive changes. I tell myself how proud I am of those changes, and the effort I made and continue to make. I recognize the effort and forgive the imperfections.

Sure, I’ve changed my eating habits a lot. I eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and less sugar and flour. I try to track every bite that passes my lips, though with more success some days than others. The question remains, how was I able to turn a life of sloth and often depression into one where the weight is coming off, albeit slowly, and my energy is increasing, not so slowly.

The answer is really a single word: Attitude. Changing my attitude and appreciating my smallest wins turned everything around, and gave me the drive and desire to add new things like daily walks to my routine. Attitude makes me stand straighter and taller, suck in my belly without having to remind myself, and make better food choices.

Ask Not “What Can I Eat?” But “Am I Really Hungry Now?”

It’s taught me to ask myself when my stomach growls at 10 PM if I’m truly hungry, and if so, will a small slice of bell pepper be as effective (if not more so) in silencing the dragons than some sweet or salty snack (for the record, the answer is always yes these days).

I listen to friends complaining about the way they look, or some flaw nobody notices but them. That was once me, and while I focused on the flaws and the failures, my progress was limited if not negative. I had to learn to love myself as I am, at any given moment.

Seeing Myself Through Less Critical Eyes

That doesn’t mean I have to stay in the place I spent so much time beating myself up over. It simply means that each stage of my progress is good and praise-worthy. Wherever I find myself is better than someplace I was at some point in the past.

The changes might not be visible to anyone else, but like everyone, I have laser vision when it comes to myself. I know the frame I live in once carried 20 or 30 more pounds, and that those pounds were pure fat. I know I’m starting to see collarbones I haven’t seen in decades, and silly as it may sound, it makes me dance with joy. Does anyone else notice the faint hint of bone at my neckline? Doubtful. But what anyone else sees has nothing to do with my attitude towards myself—unless I let it.

The Only Opinion That Matters is Mine

If you ask me, the biggest mistake you can make is to allow anyone else to influence your attitude towards yourself. I did for a very long time, and am working on fixing the damage it did.

I’ve also learned no matter how much I’ve shored up my attitude, people and things can still shake it. Still, it’s up to me to remind myself of one of my favorite quotes:

What other people think of me is none of my business.

Whether you’re struggling with your weight, building a business, reaching a goal, or simply giving yourself permission to succeed, I’ve learned it will continue to be a struggle until you can tell yourself with complete confidence that you deserve to succeed at whatever you want to do. The rest is just logistics.

Supporting Myself With an Attitude of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned to love myself as I am, and not some pie-in-the-sky image of perfection.
  2. I’m grateful I’ve learned to set new goals, and to find a way to achieve them instead of talking myself out of trying.
  3. I’m grateful for new adventures.
  4. I’m grateful for dreams fulfilled. It means I get to dream new dreams.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; joy, love, self-confidence, attitude, friendship, inspiration, motivation, new experiences, peace, health, harmony, 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

Finding Compassion in Knee-Jerk Annoyance

Opportunities to Reinforce an Old Lesson

Today  I found myself giving serious consideration to blocking my social media posts from someone on my friends list. Why? Because I was allowing comments from this person to annoy me. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is that was allowing it to annoy me. Pure and simple.

So I sat here thinking about it, and realized this was a person who has struggled to fit in, at least since high school if not before. I might feel that comments lack things like reading the whole post or avoiding attempting to shove an idea down the poster’s throat they’ve stated they already considered. But what it all boils down to is just a simple need for acceptance. Even the people who seem the most popular and together experience this feeling. In fact, I suspect many of them need that acceptance much more than the plain Janes and Joes. Their looks or other impressive talents have caused them to grow accustomed to attention, and they wilt without it, much like a flower without water.

Others like me have learned that the only approval we really need is from within, so who is really better off in the long run?

But back to my little dilemma. I realized it really did me no harm to field the occasional well-meaning but poorly thought out comment from this person, nor would it do me any harm to be kinder to them when the comments did appear on my post thread.

Giving My Compassion Meter a Little Nudge

As I’ve admitted in the past, my compassion meter does not go all the way to the top…yet. Reminders like this one help me make better choices when it comes to communicating with other people, and for them, I am grateful. They make me realize that the annoyance is all on me, and so is the compassion should I detach from the annoyance enough to see it. How far would a single kind word go for this person who may well have exceeded their own comfort zone to make a comment in the first place? Shame on me for overlooking that, especially when I already know they have their own personal struggles.

Resolving to be more compassionate, I’ve found, is not enough. We must also resolve to pay more attention to opportunities to be compassionate, and take the final step towards actually doing it.

Life doesn’t come with an instruction book. We learn the social rules from the people around us; the laws from our teachers and parents. But the road to being a truly decent person is fraught with perils I believe are meant to teach us to make the right choices, even when the right choice isn’t the easiest or most comfortable for us.

Both compassion and patience have long been my Achilles Heel. Annoyance has been my biggest obstacle towards achieving either. So one of my lessons is to turn off those gut-level responses and look at things from a dispassionate position with regard to myself so I can look at someone else with compassion.

I won’t say the road has been easy or direct, though I’ve spent the better part of this lifetime trying to master these self-appointed tasks. However, the rewards have, and will continue to be greater for having made the effort. My existence is far less cold and lonely when I care a little more about others and am a little less egocentric. And maybe I can serve as a little bit of an example to other people that a leopard can change her spots, if she just opens herself up a little to the amazing world around her.

With Gratitude

And so, I end this post as I usually do. With Gratitude.

  1. I am grateful for opportunities to recognize my failings.
  2. I am grateful fro friends who demonstrate traits I desire but lack.
  3. I am grateful for changes in my life which help me exercise the newly learned but still shaky traits.
  4. I am grateful for the love and compassion I receive every day.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: work, play, friendship, joy, compassion, community, love, humanity, peace, hope, philanthropy and prosperity.

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

 

Photo courtesy of Ricardo Moraleida via Flickr

With a Little Help from my Friends

Sometimes We Need a Reminder We’re Never Completely Alone

I lead a fairly solitary life. Sometimes by choice and sometimes because the hours I keep just don’t mesh with normal humans. I don’t say this as a complaint, but rather as a simple statement of fact. In truth, for the most part I love my solitude. I do the things that make me happy; write, cook, read, snuggle with my cats, research new things. Even now, I love to learn. I don’t necessarily enjoy studying or taking tests, but I love learning whether it’s something big and life-changing or just a bunch of random facts on a subject that interests me. My brain is happy when it is being filled with new thoughts and ideas.

Because I love those new facts and ideas, I also love to talk (strange, I know, coming from an introvert), but I’m picky about my conversation partners. I prefer people with open minds who are not inclined to fall back on someone else’s tired dogma; people whose minds are open to new ideas or are constantly chewing over the old ones to see if they’re still relevant. And I love the ideas that are filled with positive energy.

The people I most appreciate are those who make me stand up and listen; who make me re-think my own tired, outmoded ideas in favor of those which are less confining, less restrictive and above all, more likely to attract positive results.

Accountability Buddies

Nearly a month ago, I got fed up with seeing the numbers on my scale increasing and decided to take action. I started using MyFitnessPal again to track food and exercise. The first couple of weeks were great as I dropped about 5 pounds. Since then, I’ve only dropped a couple, but I have to keep telling myself Progress is progress. Truth be told, I do have more energy and more motivation. I’ve made progress on the revision of Sasha’s Journey and begun refilling my freezer with healthy, single serving meals.

There are times like last night while I was putting together a pot of Turkey Pumpkin Chili when I enjoy the silence and the solitude. But sometimes, I just need a couple of attaboys to help me see I’m on the right track (or, as in this morning, a figurative head slap to remind me I’m going down the wrong one). My healthy eating accountability buddy and I burn up the phone with text messages every day, encouraging each other and helping avoid temptation. Trader Joe’s has been especially bad this year with chocolate covered pumpkin-y goodness, but I’ve found things which don’t blow my daily calorie count out the door while satisfying my need for sweet, pumpkin-y goodness.

Today, an accountability buddy I had not even acknowledged gave me one of those head slaps. I made a comment in a thread about men being intimidated by intelligent women. In it, I remarked, quite innocently, I thought, that I’ve been drawn to intelligent people more and more lately, and especially those who eschew the dogma of someone else’s teaching to think for themselves, be it spiritually, politically or socially. More importantly, they are people who don’t mind if others disagree with them as long as it is done respectfully.

What my friend made me realize is that I’m still holding negative thoughts about attracting the attention of the male of the species in a mutually beneficial manner. Once she got my attention, my brain started chewing on the thought and I came to the realization it is all intertwined.

I’m displeased with myself for allowing my weight to creep up and for getting away from my regular gym routine so I’ve somehow managed to send that displeasure down an old, well-worn path. If I’m displeased with my behavior, then I’m not worthy enough to attract someone who can appreciate me, challenge my brain and just be someone I’d enjoy spending time with. To quote a line from the movie ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 days’, “Bulls**t!” What you believe-Buddha

It does make me realize I still have much work to do on my self-image. I need to permanently annihilate the idea that only young, slim women find someone who can love and appreciate them, be supportive but not smothering and even be a balance for the areas where I’m not as strong as I’d like people to believe. At times, I still believe the old Pam Tillis classic ‘All the Good Ones are Gone’ Pam Tillis-All the Good Ones are Gone

Thankfully, my accountability buddy slapped some sense into me, reminding me that they’re only gone if I believe they are. In fact, she gave me a not-so-subtle reminder when she posted this: She’s obviously learned I’m not much for subtlety.

Remembering to Appreciate Those Accountability Buddies

This post is a shout out to everyone who helps me be good to myself, be true to the image I want to present and to remove self trash talk from my vocabulary. I love you all and appreciate you more than you know, though I often forget to acknowledge all you are to me.

I ask you to take a few moments and think about the people in your life who help you stay on track. They’re there even if you aren’t conscious of their presence or the contributions they make in your path to building a better you.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my accountability buddies.
2. I am grateful for the progress I’ve made and the progress still to come.
3. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the mistakes I’ve made, the broken roads I’ve traveled and the people I’ve met along the way.
4. I’m grateful for the ability to look honestly at what I’m doing or saying and, sometimes with a little help, realize where I need to make changes.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, lessons, positive examples, kindness, compassion, community, solitude, motivation, inspiration, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

April 2, 2015 Passover Musings: Where Did my Heritage Go?

A Friend Had to Remind Me that Passover is this Weekend: It Makes me Sad

When Mom was alive, we always did Passover dinner at her house. Back then, I failed to appreciate the time, the effort or the meaning behind it, and often felt like it was a command performance I really didn’t want to attend. After her death, my daughters and I honored the holiday with my Dad by attending Passover dinner at a local deli.

Flash Forward Eleven Years

We’ve had one Passover dinner since Dad’s death in September of 2003. My daughter was taking a class which covered both religion and other Spiritual practices and was required to visit different places of worship, so we attended a Passover dinner at a local temple. But that was several years ago, and as she now lives about 3 hours away, getting together for the holiday is somewhat impractical.

Despite the fact that we’ve never really practiced our religion, we have tried to keep at least some of the traditions alive. Sadly, Passover isn’t one of them, but I’m suddenly feeling that it should have been. While my daughter has plans to go to a deli in her area for a traditional Passover dinner (sans ceremony), I know of no place which still does it around here and it’s too late to get tickets for the one at the temple, though frankly, I am not inclined to go by myself.

The Loss of Another Piece of my Past Plays a Melancholy Chord on my Heart

It isn’t really the idea of not eating the traditional food, nor have I even participated in the ceremony (aside from the temple) since my paternal grandmother died when I was a child. It’s more the thought that a beautiful part of my family’s heritage is fading into oblivion, at least with my branch. Then it occurred to me: I wonder if there is a way to observe the holiday by myself. There are solo practitioners of Wicca, so why not of Judaism?

As it has been my experience that you can find anything with a Google search, I tried “Can Passover be celebrated solo” and found just one post with suggestions for solo Passover celebrations. As most of them aren’t really solo at all, I gather that Jews who want to observe the holiday, even if they are far from home, find a way to do so.

I Was Once Called a Goysiche Jew. It Seems the Title Fits

In truth, I consider myself a Jew by culture, but not by religion. Does not practicing the religion make me less of a Jew? I know only that, right now, I feel very disconnected, but that isn’t necessarily entirely due to lack of religious affiliation. I work from home so I don’t see too many people on a regular basis. This alone affects my sense of community. Add in a Spiritual practice which does not require the participation of others along with my introverted nature and what is left is an individual with few real, strong human connections.

Another Chicken and Egg Story

The gist of the matter is that my alone-ness for Passover is not the malady at all, but just another symptom. Red ButerflyThis is a malady I, alone can cure, but it means yet another leap outside of that comfortable little cocoon I call my comfort zone. I take reminders like this very seriously, as emotions are a strong indicator of both things we do right and things we need to change. Mine are clearly telling me that I’ve been a caterpillar long enough and that there’s a butterfly inside of me who really needs to spread her wings and fly now.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my emotions which alert me to things I need to work through.
2. I am grateful for my writing which gives me an outlet to work through things my emotions target.
3. I am grateful for my studies which teach me how to improve my posts, where to find the resources and how to safely and legally use those resources.
4. I am grateful for my dancing and my crit group which keep me from becoming a complete hermit.
5. I am grateful for abundance: resources, opportunities, friendship, challenges, lessons, health, love, harmony, peace, joy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and my website, http://www.shericonaway.com. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

photo credit: 033e eye of the tiger watching you via photopin (license)

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