Q is for the Quick Win

What comes after C? Why, Q! Of course!

I want to talk today about something I call the Quick Win. No matter what our current focus is, we all run into those days or those events where things just don’t go the way we want them to. No matter how hard we try or how much effort we put in, things just tank. Or we feel like we are falling short of our intended outcome. Or we look around and all of the evidence we can see points to failure.

I don’t know how many of you struggle with “all-or-nothing” mentality, but it has been a huge roadblock for me. There have been times in my past when I’ve given up on something way to early in the process simply because I could not see a way to accomplish my original goal from my current vantage point. I’ve walked away from some pretty amazing opportunities, relationships, and accomplishments simply because I could not see 95% or an adjusted target as successful.

We’re making it way harder than it needs to be. My friend and mentor, John Pierre, taught me a really good lesson that prompted the Quick Win. I text him daily with information on how I’m doing with food, and movement, my feelings, or anything else we may he currently working on. I remember texting him once that my food had been on point but that my movement had not been what it should be. His response was something like, “Quick! Go do 5 push-ups off the counter right now.” So I did. And then I did 15 more. And when I reported back his reply was “Ok. Now it was a great day! You became more powerful!”

And it was true. Just that small effort…that quick win…changed the trajectory of the rest of my day and of my attitude. It changed what could have been, in my estimation of that day, a less than stellar effort and gave me something to feel good about. And feeling good about that inspired me to do even more that day and then start the next day out better than it would have been otherwise. Was it a perfect day? No. Did I reach my intended goal for movement that day? Not quite. Was it a successful day? Thanks to the Quick Win, I would say yes!

The great thing about the Quick Win is that you can use it in all sorts of situations. Having a bad day at work? Take ten minutes and get one thing accomplished. Being able to cross one thing off your to-do list, even if it is something insignificant can be the difference between leaving work down and discouraged or leaving with a sense of accomplishment. Frustrated with off plan eating? Make your next meal spot on…or better yet, do some intermittent fasting and have your next meal tomorrow. It’s not a huge change in overall calorie consumption, but will give you a sense of discipline and get your head back in the game.

Processing grief about my Mother’s death, and really letting myself grieve is presenting itself in an interesting way. We lost her to dementia through stages and I really didn’t let myself grieve her loss much as it was happening. Now that she is gone, I spent most of last week feeling really happy for her to be free from the chains of her broken body and jumbled mind.

I mentioned in a couple of earlier posts that I had the habit for years of talking and feeling negatively about myself. I also mentioned that my Mother recently passed away. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but if not, I will now as it’s bound to come up—I also have the habit of pushing down and avoiding my feelings. I think that I’ve used food and other less desirable behaviors in the past to provide distraction from feeling my feelings. Now, though, I’m really, really sad and I miss her.

I’m not comfortable with those feelings so I find myself subconsciously looking for ways to process my feelings in a way that is more comfortable to me. And I’m comfortable (or as comfortable as one can be) with the feelings of self loathing and feeling like I don’t measure up. I lived there for years and so those feelings, while still painful, I think on some level are just easier ones for me to manage than the feelings of loss that accompany my Mom’s death. I just realized this morning that I’ve been battling those old feelings of not being good enough and not mattering and in trying to figure out where they were coming from I realize I’m just looking for ways to process my feelings that are familiar.

But I know what comes along with that. Using food inappropriately. Skipping work outs. Staying in bed way too long. Lashing out at people who care about me for assumed offenses that don’t really exist so I can have a reason to feel bad and ugly feelings about myself.

So…how do I quick win that? I reach out for help even though I don’t want to. I shun the urge to leave every accountability group I’m in and delete the phone number of every accountability partner I have and instead use them to reach out and let others known struggling. It’s the most foreign feeling in the world to announce to other human beings that I admire that I’m struggling. But I do it because it’s a quick win and the fasted way to turn how I’m feeling around.

And…I write and publish the Quick Win blog post. Because I know that doing small and simple things will keep me on the paths that I want to be on.

C is for Community

🎶 I get by with a little help from my friends! 🎶

It was totally my intent to follow up letter A with letter B. I sat down to write the post at least 3 times and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get it to flow. Now is, apparently, not the time to talk about Bravery, but rather to talk about Community. And even as I was staring to write about community, I was finding it hard to express my thoughts in a way that made me happy. Seriously? I’m in trouble as a blogger if I’m getting writers block after only a few posts.

Many of you know that my sweet mother has been suffering from dementia for several years now, and has spent the past 2.5 years in a skilled nursing facility. I got word a little over a week ago that her body was shutting down. It could take a few days or several weeks. I recently moved quite a distance from my parents and I struggled to know whether to go home so I could see her one last time while she was living. If I did that, it would be for me as she was beyond the point of knowing or recognizing me. She passed peacefully on Monday morning last week. It was a bittersweet moment. My family and I had been praying that she could be released from this life and be whole again. We have been missing her for several years, and now we could finally grieve fully. And we are so happy for her to finally be free from the bondage of a broken body and diseased mind.

As the past week unfolded, it became all the more apparent how important community is in all aspects of my life—not just the health and fitness area. I had friends step up and call me when I know they had already full schedules. I had offers to drive me to the airport—just so I didn’t have to be alone for that hour. And pick me up from the airport so we could grieve together. I received messages and hugs and an outpouring of love that helped bolster me up and keep me going when I simply wanted to just lay down and cry. And I had lots, particularly my family, who were ever ready with a hug and a shared tear at the drop of a hat. I have felt more loved the last week than I knew was possible. And I needed it…because I also felt more alone this past week than I have for a really long time. Thank you, my community, for taking care of me.

C is for Community. This may be my very favorite letter of the alphabet. Community has always been super important to me. I have been blessed throughout my life with amazing friends and the best family anyone could ask for.

Why is community so important? Community is there for you. They hold you up when you can’t stand on your own. They encourage you when you are struggling. They cheer for you when you succeed. They cry with you when you need to breathe out your sorrows. They help you find yourself and they love you for who are deep down–sometimes even when you aren’t sure you love yourself. Especially when you aren’t sure you love yourself.

I would not have been able to come this far in any facet of my life without my amazing community. Here is a picture of some of them (but there are many more who are not pictured). I have had the support of multiple communities throughout my life. My family, friends, coworkers, church congregations, UWL Lefties, and more have loved and supported me through thick and thin.

This past year especially has been a year of change for me. I found myself standing at that fork in the road, wondering which path was right for me. I was considering making changes that were both exhilarating and terrifying. Having a trusted support system by my side made the scary days a little less scary and the exciting days all the more exciting.

Unfortunately, sometimes making big changes in your life also finds you having to say goodbye to members of your community who aren’t loving and supportive, or who are overtly destructive to your happiness and well-being. Knowing and understanding when to do that is one of the most gut-wrenching things you may ever go through. I have had to make some hard decisions in this area.

Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I believe this. It’s altogether easier to be a positive, upbeat person if you are spending your time with people who exude that energy. That doesn’t mean you cut off any friend who has had a bad day or who is going through a rough time. That is when you get to be the friend who holds someone up and helps them through a difficult time. There is a difference between someone who is going through a rough patch and someone who is consistently destructive to your well being. It becomes really easy to distinguish between the two over time.

When you are making big changes in your life, I think it’s especially important to make sure you surround yourself with people who know and support your goals. It is as important for your community to have high expectations of you as it is for you to have high expectations of yourself.

Tony Robbins said, “People’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group.” I think in my world, the word expectation also includes belief. When my community holds me to a certain expectation, I feel like they also believe that I can accomplish what they expect. Knowing that others believe in my ability to accomplish challenging goals is invaluable to me.

I think it is important to design our community. I am grateful that mine includes my family and many long-time friends. I also have sought community through hiring a coach, John Pierre, who I now also consider a very dear friend. Another important community addition for me has been the other people in Chef AJ and John Pierre’s Ultimate Weight Loss Group and through Christin Bummer’s Forever Diet program. People who started out as acquaintances going through a similar life change have become my accountability partners and eventually my good friends.

None of us gets through this life alone. Having a kind and supportive community is always important. I am so gratefull for my community!

A is for….. Addiction (among other things)

It was my intent from the very beginning for A to be for Admitting You Need Help. It was the first ABC’s of T graphic that I made. It was the thought that got all of the juices flowing.

And then I started to think about what it was I need help with and why it was so hard to admit it.

Hi! I’m T, and I’m a processed food addict. Like the famous Lay’s slogan, I can’t eat just one…of anything…EVER.

I fought the addict label for so long. How could food be addictive? Wasn’t it just a case of me have the weakest of all will power known to human kind? If I say I am a food addict, am I down-playing the seriousness of the “real” addictions others struggle with? Just toughen up, T!

It wasn’t until I was willing to admit that processed food addiction was real, and that I was in the grasp of it’s clutches, that I started to make progress on the merry-go-round that was my diet and weight loss/weight gain cycles. And even then, it took me a long time to come to understand what I know and believe now about the power of chemicals in so-called foods to enslave us to unhealthy behaviors. Just claiming the label, I was able to start taking a stand for my own health and well being—both with myself and with others.

It became easier to turn down inappropriate food when I could tell someone, “I’m in recovery for a food addiction. Eating that will may cause me to relapse.” Whether people believe that one can be addicted to processed food or not, it put things in a context that they understood and that made it easier for me to advocate for my own sobriety.

I still don’t love the label. But I’m grateful for it.

A is also for admitting you need help. Believe me, I have tried for years to overcome my issues with food. I was embarrassed by what appeared to simply be a lack of will power. You don’t get to be 360 pounds without having a string of unfortunate incidents and uncomfortable conversations, sometimes even with total strangers. These incidents compounded and over time left me in a place where I was so ashamed and embarrassed about my situation that the last thing I was willing to do was be vulnerable enough to ask for help—whether the potential help was from a program, a doctor, a professional or even those I loved and trusted. I just couldn’t put myself in a place where I would have to open up and be honest about where I really was physically, emotionally, or spiritually. And I certainly couldn’t admit that I needed someone or something to help me battle a freaking bag of Oreos. How weak was I?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but admitting I need help is not one of my strong points. Why is that? I don’t believe others get through their lives and all of the hard things that come their way without having to rely on others–why should I be any different? Why have I put the unrealistic expectation on myself that I should just be able to handle whatever comes my way without needing help from anyone else, or even from God?

This is particularly true when it comes to health and fitness. Somewhere in my mind, I got myself into this situation and I should be able to get myself out. I wouldn’t hold any other obese person to that standard, so why would I do that to myself?

I think part of it comes down to a fear of letting others in. If I ask someone for help or admit that I have a problem, then I have to let them in and trust them with the dark underbelly of my soul–which isn’t really that dark, but I’m just afraid that if someone really knows me they won’t like me. After all, I spent decades not liking myself, so how could I expect anything different from others.

I have been battling obesity, depression, and self-doubt for almost three decades. I have had moments where I have been really focused and I’ve lost a lot of weight (up to 88 pounds multiple times previous to now). I have done this a variety of ways–Weight Watchers, Phen/Fen, a couple of programs that were offered through work and many many more. I’ve read books. I’ve gone to conferences. In each of these attempts there has been an element of admitting that I needed help, and yet with each of them there has also been that giant wall that I put up trying to protect my already bruised and broken ego and heart. I set limits on what I was willing to admit I needed help with and how much I would let those willing to help see of me and my struggle.

It’s no wonder those other times didn’t work. I wasn’t all in. When things got hard—which they inevitably did—I would use it as proof that the program was wrong, that the time wasn’t right, or that I wasn’t cut out to be anything other than “the fat friend” in the story of my own life.

This time is different because I am willing to admit that I am an addict and that I need help. I’m willing to be vulnerable and let people I admire see that I have struggles and that I am weak. Being open, really open, is still a huge struggle. It’s uncomfortable and makes me want to run away and hide. Sometimes I still do. But I’m making progress.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, I urge you to take a look at your life. What are you willing to admit? Do you need some help? You are stronger than you know. People love you more than you think. Reach out! And when it gets scary and you want to run and hide, be brave! You’ve got this!

Any guesses which letter/word will be next?

L is for Love

And you thought I would start The ABC’s of T with the letter A. Silly you 😘 That was my initial intent, but my mind does not flow in a linear pattern so I’m going to approach The ABC’s of T the same way. Letters will pop up in whatever random manner they speak to me. The rest may follow the conventional ABC structure (or not), but we are kicking this thing off with the letter L for Love, because Love makes the world go around. It holds us up when we are down. It helps us soar to higher heights we we are already soaring. Sometimes it breaks our hearts. Other times it helps us heal from a broken heart. It has played the biggest role in my recovery from processed food addiction. Read on…

You might be surprised to learn that one of the the key factors to my being able to lose weight and find health has very little to do with nutrition or exercise. Learning to love myself and treat myself with kindness has done more for me than any meal plan or exercise class did. My mentor and friend, John Pierre, has often said, “When you love yourself, you don’t hurt yourself.”

Many of you who have known me my whole life probably don’t have a full understanding of what I mean when I say that I spent years not liking myself very much. I thought how I felt about myself was just normal–and it may well be–but I will give you a little insight into what I mean when I say that I didn’t love myself. Ever since I was a little girl, I have expected a lot from myself. I strove to do well academically. I always tried hard to be good at sports and later in life, good at my jobs. Those are actually good things. Its good to have high standards and expect a lot of yourself. However, I think it set me up, along with my particular personality, to be hyper critical of myself in almost every situation. This eventually developed into me having a 24-hour-a-day tape of negative thoughts running through my mind. Thousands of thoughts a day where I was telling myself things like, “I suck!” “I’m so stupid.” “What I want (or need, or think, or do) doesn’t matter.” And these are the most mild of the unkind things that I thought and said to myself every day. And often, I would be sure to point these things out to others, before they had a chance to find it out for themselves–just to make sure they knew I didn’t think I was all that and a bag of chips. I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t realize how harmful this pattern was and how it was impacting so many things in my life including my physical health and well-being.

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can tear your heart apart. My use of unkind words toward myself broke me down, little by little. The less that I liked myself–the more I believed the things I was telling myself–the more likely I was to do things that were harmful for me and the less likely I was to do things that were loving and kind. I know that there are many out there who don’t believe in emotional eating. I don’t know if emotional eating is the right term for it, but I certainly “used” food as a means of momentary escape. When I had a particularly vicious day of self-flagellation, I would often compensate for my misery with a full sleeve or Oreo’s, a 44 oz diet Coke alongside a chocolate chocolate chip muffin, or a giant brick of cheese melted over an entire bag of tortilla chips. Sometimes all of the above. And for just a moment, while I was in the throws of eating all of that salty, oily, sugary, (and I’m sorry for the graphic terms) puss-laden and chemical-laced “treats,” I would feel better. Only to find myself even more unhappy with myself and disgusted by my choices–which just led to more negative self-talk and unkind treatment of myself. It was a vicious cycle.

On August 31, 2018, I committed to following the principles of the Ultimate Weight Loss (UWL) program and made the commitment to hire John Pierre (JP) to coach me through at least the first three months of that process. JP’s is known for his work with celebrities and athletes. He is known for his work in the geriatric community and his relentless advocacy for women’s rights and animal rights–being a voice for the voiceless. He is the nutrition and fitness guy. He will always be to me The Kindness Whisperer. Yes….we worked on nutrition. We worked on fitness. But more than anything we worked on undoing three decades or more of harmful words and abusive actions towards myself. And just as I type this I realize that I’ve been in an abusive relationship for three decades. An abusive relationship with myself.

So….am I perfect? No. Not by a long shot. I have, however, quieted the unkind tapes in my head and slowed them down to practically nothing. Now, instead of beating myself up when I don’t quite meet my standards, I have tools that help me see the good in the situation and keep me on a path that allows me to be more compassionate with myself. And one of the best things about that is that when I’m kind and loving towards myself, I have more light and love to share with others.

Learning to be kinder and more loving towards myself, and seeing how those things impact my ability to be my best self — physically, emotionally, spiritually — has been the most important factor in my weight loss, and in my life. I learned to be kinder to myself gradually. Gratitude has been a very important tool in changing the negative thought in my mind. Learning to dissect my thoughts and ascertain whether or not they were true and take action to either correct things if they were true or reframe them if they were not has helped me so much. Learning to be comfortable with my feelings—whatever they are—has helped immensely. I hope as time goes on I can take the time to go into each one of these tools and explore with you how they have helped me move to a place where I have more compassion for myself.

I recently completed the Mastery course for Chef AJ and John Pierre’s UWL Program. Our last module was on Love and Compassion. JP did our Saturday Live lecture and I really loved an analogy he used. He showed us a lemon and talked about how we are like that lemon. When the lemon gets squeezed, lemon juice comes out. Likewise, when we get squeezed (by stress, disappointment, or even excitement) what we have inside is what will come out. When the lemon gets squeezed, we don’t get orange juice or lime juice or almond milk—unless those items were somehow injected into the lemon. We get lemon juice. Likewise, if we are angry, or jealous, or spiteful—or happy, or kind, or loving, when hard times come or when something happens that “squeezes” us, we respond with what is inside of us. That is why it is so important for us to cultivate light and love until they simply become who we are.

I challenge each of you to really take an inventory of the things that you say to yourself, how you treat yourself, and assess whether or not there is room for improvement. Before you eat the decadent meal or miss the workout, ask yourself if doing that is going to be helpful or harmful to you. If you love yourself, you won’t hurt yourself. And you are worth loving!

Are You Fair Dinkum?

It’s New Year’s Eve–the night when we say good bye to the old year and make plans for the new. In this case we welcome not only a new year, but a new decade. It’s even been twenty years since we ushered in Y2K. I remember that year….my brother and his family hosted a New Year’s Eve party where we all participated in writing a note to be put in a time capsule and opened 10 years later. I have my note, and when I can find it, I’ll post a picture in here (its in one of those boxes I haven’t yet opened since my move 3 months ago). It basically said that when we opened the time capsule in 2010, I wanted to be 1/2 the person I was (weight loss ever on my mind), and twice the person I was (married), have a couple of kids, and a nice house, and the life that I had always dreamed of. Instead, I had gained and additional half of what I weighed, hadn’t had a date in a decade, and the dream of having children was slowly making it’s way down the drain.

Well….life doesn’t always work out like we had planned. I dreamed of being a wife and a mother ever since I can remember, as evidenced by my love for baby dolls and playing house when I was a kid. I spent the better part of 2.5 decades feeling like the lack of these things in my life was proof that I didn’t matter as much as the next person–that I was in some way lacking or not deserving. That I was flawed in ways that could never be overcome and doomed to a lonely, sad life simply because I wasn’t good enough for those things I wanted most.

I can tell you now that my thinking over those two plus decades was the most flawed thing about me. I’m not 100% sure why that is where my heart and soul went and why it chose to stay there for so long, but I know now that my lack of those things was anything but proof that I didn’t matter or the result of my many supposed flaws. While I would have loved to have those things, I am so happy with and grateful for my life just as it is. It has taken me a long time, but I can say I honestly believe that I’m right where I need to be and that the things I learned over those 25 years have made me just who I need to be now.

So why am I telling you all of this? I don’t tell you in order to solicit sympathy or pitty. I don’t tell you to get your reinforcement that I am, in deed, enough. I do think it might help you understand a little about me and will perhaps lend some insight to the rest of this post. Plus, it’s New Year’s and I’ve been thinking about past New Years Eves and waxing a bit nostalgic.

You know how people often choose a word to guide their goal setting or give them something to focus on for the year. I have done this the past few years. In 2018 my word was nourish. I saw it as a reminder to eat healthful food as well as to participate in many other things that nourish me in one way or another. My 2019 word was brave. And I must say, the focus worked. I did A LOT of brave things in 2019.

And my 2020 word–or actually phrase–(drumroll please……) Fair Dinkum. What is Fair Dinkum, you may be asking. Well, it’s an Australian term that I hadn’t heard of before October of this year. A leader in my church used it in a talk at General Conference. He described it as being committed, setting your priorities and then being all-in. In essence, he said the people are Fair Dinkum when they are what they say they are. And the result of giving our all and really being who we say we are is JOY. I’m all for that! For some reason this talk really spoke to me–not only about prioritizing the gospel in my life, but in being committed to those things that are important to me and and really being in every situation exactly who I say I am.

Over the years, I’ve become guarded. I hold my feelings close and often hold back from full participation or I cling tightly t parts of who I am for fear that I will be embarrassed or ridiculed if I share my opinions or react genuinely to things going on around me. I’ve learned not to hope for things. I’ve learned not to trust others with my feelings. I’ve tried to stay safe, which has just kept me lonely. I’m not hiding any big secrets, or anything. I am pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of girl. I just hold back from being all in because I still struggle to believe that I what I have to offer matters.

So as I step into 2020, I commit to be Fair Dinkim–to be who I say I am. I am committed to stretching and being more open in all situations. I’m committed to thoughtfully setting goals and then seeing them through. I’m committed to setting the old scripts that guided my past behaviors and were driven by fear aside and trusting that people will love me just as I am.

I will wear this bracelet to remind me of my commitment and remind me to be Fair Dinkum.

I am excited to start the ABC’s of T posts soon. Like really soon. Be on the lookout!

Have a very happy new year!

T

The ABC’s of T

I’ve never been one who thinks the whole world needs to know my story, or who thinks anyone would find anything about me remotely interesting. However, as I get older, I’m coming to see the importance in connecting with other people on a more personal level. Even then, the thought of just producing a massive word vomit telling my whole story in just one post seems both overwhelming to write and unappealing to read.

I had the idea that it might be more fun, less overwhelming, and more palatable to read if I broke a “getting to know me “ post up into smaller chunks. The idea for TheABC’s of T was born.

Over the next four to six weeks I will use each letter of the alphabet to tell a little something about me. It may be something that I’ve learned about myself (like the whole processed food addiction bit), or an attribute I think has been lacking in my life or one that I want to strengthen (like discipline or integrity), or maybe it is just a food that I like to eat (like quinoa or zucchini). Hopefully by the end of the alphabet, you will know a little more about me, I will know a little more about myself, and both of us with have a little bit better idea of where this blog is headed.

Welcome to The ABC’s of T!

A New Beginning

Hi Friends! It’s almost 2020. The first of the year is approaching and we all know what that means: New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m not really a fan of resolutions only at the new year. I believe in setting goals and revisiting them frequently throughout the year.

One of the things that I’m going to do throughout 2020 is write on my blog. I’ve been a bit perplexed about where exactly I want the blog to go. I started out blogging on findingmyinnerathlete.com where I was going to chronicle my path from an obese, out of shape, formerly athletic woman to a happy, healthy, fit, and thing reclaimed athlete. Then I went to lifebeginsinthemiddle.com where I was going to write about changing my whole life up at mid-life and how I make my dreams come true. And then I’ve always blogged at teresapassey.com where it has just been a bunch of random musing.

Well, I’m not really sure I want to find my inner athlete—although I do want to talk a lot about my slide down the scale from 360 pounds, depressed, sick, unfit, lacking in self-confidence and self-love 50 year old, to a much thinner (but with a long way yet to go), happy, confident, woman. I eat plants. I move my body. I’m learning to love myself. I want to share it all. But….I don’t necessarily want to pursue athletic endeavors any more.

While I do think that life can begin anew with each and every breath we take, I don’t know that I want that to be the single focus of my blog. I do, however, want to write about being brave and going for what you want in life. I have done a lot of that over the past year or so and I want to shout from the roof tops that its never too late to go for what you want.

So, I’m leaving it for now at teresapassey.com. I am finding that developing healthful habits has been key to all of these areas of my life. I am toying with the idea of tying everything together by talking about how incorporating simple routines can help us create the happy and healthy lives we want.

At this point it is just an experiment. I’m happy that you are here. Things will likely be in a bit of flux over the next several months. I’d love to get your input. Please comment and let me know what speaks to you and what you would like to hear more about.

As an introduction, I’ll be doing the ABC’s of me over the next several weeks. It will mainly focus on things that I’m doing to reclaim my health, including a healthy mindset and healthy weight, as well as how being brave and being willing to live outside of your comfort zone can really pay off. 

Welcome!