Day 6: When I look in the mirror at myself, I feel…
…both thankful and challenged.
Why thankful? This may be the most important part.
I am thankful because I am.
I live, I breathe.
I am capable of doing everything necessary for life.
My eyes work, my mind works, my limbs are strong.
I’ve grown, given birth to, and raised babies.
My body works as it is supposed to even though I haven’t always taken good care of her. (And yes – my body is female so I will use feminine pronouns.)
I am challenged because when I look in the mirror these days, I can also see two realities. A lifetime of weight gain and loss is obvious. Stretch marks. Loose skin. A higher set point. Minimal exercise. It’s all there. I’m still thankful for every bit of it, so the challenge is to not dwell on I should have or I wish.
I should have kept the weight off.
I should have exercised more.
I wish I’d found yoga sooner.
I wish I could tan.
I wish I hadn’t sunburned in my 20s.
Those thoughts could take over if I wanted them to so I challenge myself daily to see the positive aspects of myself. I am also challenged not to moralize my choices as right or wrong or good or bad. They simply are. It isn’t right to be athletic. It isn’t wrong to be a reader. It isn’t right to be thin and it isn’t wrong to be thick. It isn’t right to be energetic or wrong to be tired. It simply is.
And sometimes, choosing this daily is too much. Sometimes, I choose it one small moment at a time.
When I look at myself in the mirror I feel thankful and challenged because I am a remarkable human being (and you are too) and each day holds new opportunities.
Day 5: List 10 things you are grateful for today
- Health. After a spring of being very sick, I am thankful that I am healthy and able to get up and do what I want to do each day.
- My relationship with my children. They’re pretty much grown now. My oldest is 28 and my youngest will be 18 soon, so it’s a different kind of relationship than a mom with younger children. Mercy, I love those human beings. We haven’t always communicated well and I made mom mistakes along the way, but we can really talk about things now. They’re remarkable human beings and I am thankful for them all.
- Yoga. Although there are days that I don’t do yoga (and — cough, cough– weeks), I cannot deny that it has made a difference in my life. Not only have I found a form of activity that I enjoy, but it meets a specific need for stress reduction and improved flexibility.
- Music. What would the world be without music? It expresses things that words cannot. It serves as a bridge between cultures and time. There are very few life situations that are not improved by adding music. Having a bad day? Play some loud music to deal with the anger and frustration. Need to focus? Find some calm classical to bring you back to where you need to be. Having a great day? Turn on some music and get up and dance!
- Lifelong friends. If you know me, you probably know these people. Or at least you’ve heard me talk about them. They are my people. They’ve been here for as long as I can remember. They know 8 year old me and high school me and college me and young adult me and present day me. We have been through much together and we will continue to be there for one another. I have no doubt.
- A husband who encourages me to do what’s good for me even when it means more work for him. I could not have taken the time for therapy or for starting a graduate program in counseling without the support of my husband. On a daily basis, I know he’ll not only pick up some slack, but go above and beyond even after having been at work all day. I am thankful.
- Fiction. I love fiction. Fiction.
- The internet. How many of us have been able to reconnect with people from our past because of the internet? How many of us have been able to find information that helps us with our daily lives? Yes, it can be a time drain if it’s not used well, but it’s an incredible blessing.
- New beginnings. Whether it’s a new week, a new semester, a new month, or a new insight, I’m thankful for new beginnings.
- The fact that clothes have finally been demystified for me. I’m almost fifty and it’s only been within the past couple of years that I’ve gained any real security in what I wear. I grew up in a school with a very high dress code so it took me years to learn how to dress casually without feeling and looking sloppy. I wasn’t allowed to wear pants to school, so that was another hurdle to cross. As women, our bodies are constantly changing and for years I was either pregnant or dressing in mom mode. I don’t even know what made the biggest difference, but these days, I feel confident in what I wear even if others may not like it.
What about you? What are you thankful for today?
I love you. It’s taken me years to be able to say that, but today I can unapologetically say that I love my body. Yesterday alone, you enabled me to walk through the Clinton Library and Little Rock’s Old State House and share part of my story and the story of my state with people I love. You also supported me through a much-needed yoga practice after a weekend of busyness and activity. Your skin — my skin — even let me know when enough sun was enough by slightly changing color and feeling warm.
Outside the Clinton. The current traveling exhibit features giant bugs. lol!
I love a good tablescape.
And you know I love me some Jimmy Carter, even if he’s painted on an Easter egg!
Little Rock’s Old State House. A part of Arkansas and Lisa Fuller history. In high school, I was a delegate to student congress and our sessions were held in the old House of Rep and Senate chambers. It was super cool.
Last night, you slept and slept well. My eyes allowed me to watch one of my favorite movies with Jason and my hand allowed me to hold his hand while we sat together. My ears heard music that brought wonderful memories of both my mother and my daughter to mind. My mind accessed stored memories that had been filed away for later.
I love my body because it is strong. It grew and gave birth to babies and fed them throughout their first years. Sure its size and shape has been all over the place, but it has thrived through all of those changes and is still strong and capable. It lets me go and do and see and hear and feel and remember and smile and speak and sing.
After a lifetime of being uncertain, today it is very good to say: I love my body.
Day 3: What is your relationship to food like? Write it a letter, as if it were a real person.
Please, just leave me alone. I’m tired of you. I’m tired of thinking about our relationship and whether you’re enough for me or too much. I’m tired of the guilt that you bring to every interaction that we have. It makes me angry that you are necessary to life and that I can’t just walk away and never have to deal with you again. Everyone else talks about you like you’re this wonderful thing, a treat that makes days better and that sharing you with others is a highlight of life for them.
Not for me. To me, you are a constant source of stress. Planning, shopping, preparing, cleaning up. How much? What’s a “good choice”? What are other people thinking of me when they see the food I choose? And don’t tell me that other people don’t notice what I eat, because other people have commented on my food choices all of my life. “Are you sure you need that?” if I got something and “What’s wrong? Don’t you want something?” if I didn’t. “Eating too much will make you fat,” partnered with “You have a headache? You must be hungry; get something to eat.”
Mixed messages. Mixed messages at home, mixed messages throughout culture, and mixed messages in my own head. I love the thought of having people over and feeding them; I hate the stress of it and feelings of responsibility.
So please, Food. Just leave me alone. Some people may look forward to heaven because of that idea of it being a never ending banquet. For me, heaven would be never having to deal with food again.
Sincerely, but definitely NOT yours,
Day 2: What do I really want out of life? How do I make sure I get it?
Good question; I’m going to rephrase it.
What do I really want out of life? How do I make sure I keep it?
From my earliest days, I’ve wanted a family that worked. A family that could communicate and work together and be a place of love and happiness and strength and faith.
It’s taken a lot of work, but I have that now and I want to keep it.
That takes intention. It takes being responsible for my actions and being willing to apologize when I’m wrong. It takes having boundaries and not falling into the rut of being a people pleaser. Everyone needs to contribute and we all need to be working toward health. It takes being vulnerable and being willing to talk about things when it’s hard. It takes looking people in the eye and not being constantly distracted by technology. It takes planning to be sure everyone’s physical needs are met. Is there food in the house? Are the bills being paid? Do you have clean clothes? All of that is important.
I love my family. My blended, diverse family is one of the absolute favorite parts of my life. We may not be traditional and we may even cross over into some people’s definition of “not family,” but I don’t care. These are my people. We are family by choice and I am willing to do what’s needed to keep it.
I’m starting a 30 day challenge. Part of the challenge for me is to write daily. Another part is to face my fears in terms of writing about things that really matter to me rather than staying with the easy things. I found a set of 30 emotional eating writing prompts and am going to use them as a jump start.
Day 1: My biggest barrier to weight loss is___________________ and here is why:
Well. Here’s the thing: I’m not in this to lose weight. I’m in this to adopt healthy behaviors. There’s a lot of research that points to the unhealthy impact of diet culture and the quest for thinness. Here’s an academic journal about it and here’s a whole book you can read. There’s also research showing that size isn’t the important thing, but that healthy behaviors are. So my goal isn’t to lose pounds; my goal is to adopt healthy behaviors. With this in mind, I will continue.
My biggest barrier to adopting healthy behaviors is myself. In the past, I would have said time, but my youngest child is graduating from high school in a few days and my children are very self-sustaining. Yes, I work full time. Yes, I’m also in grad school and taking two classes, but there’s time for a few 30 minute walks or a yoga practice at home. Somehow, though, by the time I get home, I just want to sit on the couch and hang out with Jason. I’ve spent the majority of my life not wanting to be home. Now I love it.
Oh. And I don’t like to sweat. That’s definitely a factor.
Food is actually getting much better. We decided to cut out as many simple carbs as we could, so for the past couple of months, we’ve eaten a lot of protein, fresh vegetables, and some fruit. We’re not aiming for perfection. We are aiming for keeping the goal in mind. I’ve noticed, though, that I have much more energy than I did when I ate a lot of carby foods. I also have a goal of drinking a couple of glasses of water every day at work. Being hydrated definitely helps.
So there’s day 1: a clarification of goals and a basic assessment of my biggest hindrance: me.