Making a lifestyle change is hard and there can be so many barriers and challenges with remaining consistent. Last summer I was challenged to change my mindset and lose the weight I had been procrastinating on addressing. Everyone has different levels of comfort with their body image and their weight but I knew that it was time for things to change. While you can be happy, self accepting, have high self esteem and be overweight, I knew that it wasn’t working for me. I was tired of taking long airplane rides to other countries and being unable to comfortably fit into the seat while being ashamed to ask for a seat belt extender. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I was over my clothes not fitting right and only being able to wear certain select items in my closet because I had “outgrown” the majority of what I had available but didn’t want to spend more money to buy more clothes. I believe in radical self acceptance but I also believe in changing your lifestyle and being healthy if that’s a goal you have for yourself. It was a long, long road that still continues but I’ve made progress. I started with a personal trainer (aka my boyfriend), made the decision to no longer be vegetarian, I got off medication (after consulting with a doctor), started weight training, and changed my diet drastically. It wasn’t an overnight change and it didn’t happen as soon as I would have liked but I lost 45lbs and I’m still working towards my goal. Last week was the first time I could pick things from my closet to wear that I haven’t been able to fit in over 5 years. It was an amazing feeling and having a supportive partner has been great. I still have some progress to make but it’s nice to finally comfortably sit in an airplane seat without being black and blue from the armrest digging into my thigh. I’m determined to remain consistent and to continue to make progress. After all, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
Women go through a lot. We are increasing in numbers within the workplace but we still are generally the ones held responsible for household duties and we also bear children. The scale seems just a bit crooked at times. Women in high profile positions are often asked how they manage being a mother and having children while no one would dare ask the corresponding question to a man. There’s a certain amount of hardness that comes along with being able to navigate a professional job. Sure, you can be a bleeding heart but you’ll burn out fast and have nothing to show for it. I’ve noticed this myself in my years of practice work. There’s a certain level of professionalism that is expected regardless of one’s emotional state. After being in the workforce and dealing with multiple challenges, many women don’t want to go home and do hobbies that engage and enhance their feminine traits. It’s a luxury that most black women aren’t provided as many are sexualized and expected to grow up early. It’s a luxury to be able to embrace more feminine traits of softness and emotional processing while simultaneously completing job duties. It’s a lose lose situation at times. There’s such a need for honest dialogue around femininity and what it means in the face of a world where women’s rights are constantly threatened. Does equality take precedence over chivalry or is it the other way
I remember reading somewhere that men are like waffles because they can easily compartmentalize while women are similar to spaghetti because everything is connected in some way. Once again I’ve relocated and along with the change in location has come a renewed commitment to be more healthier after I was challenged to make better choices. There’s this story in the Bible about a guy that had a skin disease and he was told to wash in a muddy river 7 times. The guy almost turned around and went home because he was expecting to be told to do something big and the remedy was just too simple. However, his maid convinced him to do it and it worked. In a world of fad diets, special equipment, and fancy fitness plans that consume your life, there still isn’t a substitute for eating healthy and exercising regularly. It’s a solution that seems too simple to a lot of people so they spend money (sometime unnecessarily) in the hope that it will take the place of hard work and discipline. I’ve learned more about discipline in these last few weeks than I have in a long while. It’s the same kind of internal motivation that I had to use in order to finally finish my dissertation and it’s really uncomfortable. However, it’s the only way to get the results that I want. It’s not something that I can delegate or outsource to anyone else. Like most decisions to make some significant changes, the question is, “How bad do you want it?” I’ve always admired people who genuinely enjoy working out but as I’ve been more consistent I can see how it can become a habit–regardless of the degree of “like.” I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out despite the fact that it’s still uncomfortable. But anything worth doing is worth doing well and I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge.
I love the practicality of this article. It’s something that you’ll probably experience at some point if you’re human. The truth is that we can’t love anyone into loving us and accepting that is paramount to moving on. I personally have my own strategy for getting over people that I found works well because constant rejection tends to wear on you after a while. I think that it’s important to realize that life still goes on regardless of who loves you or not. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m also cited in it.
One thing that I often encourage my clients to do is to get outside of their comfort zone once in a while. This often takes the form of encouraging them to travel somewhere. That’s why I really liked this article about traveling that’s written by a therapist. You can read it here. There’s nothing like doing something while going out your comfort zone. There’s the opportunity for learning more about yourself and the world around you when you go somewhere. You have the chance to experience a new culture and navigate in an unfamiliar environment where you don’t necessarily have the backup of friends and family. Solo travel can be daunting but that’s the fun part about working through your reluctance. The more you learn, the more you realize what you don’t know. But it’s all about taking the first step and doing it–because let’s be honest, sometimes you just have to do things while scared because it’s something your future self will thank you for.
One thing that really grinds my gears is the growing amount of relationship “experts” who seem to be preying on single women. Every book, podcast, or post is about how to become dateable, how to be happy while single, what’s wrong with you, how to get a man, etc. While I’m not against learning and becoming more self aware, I think that at some point it’s just overkill. I mean let’s be honest, dating pretty much sucks anyway you look at it. In addition to not appearing desperate, you’re also up against the general non-committal vibe that is characteristic of a lot of millennials and the culture. Nobody wants to be totally honest and starter marriages abound with a lot of people getting it right on the second or third try. Online dating can be a hit or miss (oftentimes a miss) but it can take away from building a relationship the old fashioned way (face to face). We are constantly given information on what we need to do to get what we want out of life. But the truth is that at the end of the day it comes down to a personal choice to do something different than you’ve done in the past. It’s truly a mess out there and the so called experts don’t make it any easier with their conflicting advice and “tried and true” formulas for getting a significant other.
A friend shared this with me and I found it to be so inspiring as we start this new year.
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.
…that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return.
And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.”
– Neil Gaiman
Relationships can be tricky things. There isn’t a “one size fits all” formula that will work everyone. People want someone who will complement them because opposites tend to attract and it’s hard to have a good discussion when someone agrees with you ALL the time. But sometimes a relationship can develop into something like a hostage situation. You’ve seen it. There’s the couple who are always fighting and are constantly breaking up and getting back together again. One partner is always trying to distance themselves but they can’t stay away. The other person knows exactly what buttons to push and what to say in order to have the other partner cave in and stay with them as an emotional hostage. It’s a cycle of dysfunction that has become comfortable. While some people can end a relationship and remain friends, the best way to end an emotional hostage type of relationship is to stop having any contact with the person. Change your number, find a new hobby, move somewhere else, etc. It can absolutely be done but it takes effort, determination, and action to move on with your life and leave the dysfunction behind.
Assume that being independent and being in a relationship have to be two mutually exclusive things.
I was really into the holidays when I was younger. Christmas meant carols,driving around to look at lights, and presents. It’s a time to be appreciative of what you have and remember that it can always be worse. I ran across an article this week that reminded me of my days working in hospice. You can read it here. Like the author, I have also had conversations with people who are terminally ill. Family has always been the number one topic. People don’t care about their houses or cars. They want to know that their families will be ok after they’re gone. It’s so important to appreciate the people around you who have made a positive contribution to your life. But also equally important to reach out to those who struggle during the season. While it’s a happy time for some, it’s also a living hell for others. Life can be unpredictable and messy but also beautiful. Happy Holidays