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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Insulting Compliment

I am on a journey. This journey to become the healthiest person that I can become has taken me 18 months thus far and I have just scratched the surface. Being healthy is SO MUCH MORE than just losing weight. Yet, THAT seems to be the focus of most people.  Over the past 18 months, it has come to annoy me more and more that people are only considered healthy if they are at their "ideal weight" or doing whatever it takes to get there. Man, that just bugs me!

The Compliment

I recently was having a conversation with a friend.  We chatted about kids, husbands, lives, and yes, even gossiped a little bit.  Out of the blue, she suddenly said:

"You are looking good!  Have you lost weight?"

This question has been asked of me, and a lot of other people, time and time again. THIS TIME, I was offended.   I know, in all reality, I shouldn't have been offended at all! I mean, I know that her intentions were good!  I know that she really meant it as a compliment. But THIS time, THIS. TIME. I was a tad hurt.

"Why is she asking me that? Do I only look good when I'm thinner? I obviously didn't look good BEFORE, but NOW I do. Wow!  What did I look like BEFORE??? What will she say if I lose more weight? What if I GAIN weight? THIS means that she is LOOKING at how I look! She is judging me! PEOPLE are judging me!"

Now, I know that most of you will point out that these are OBVIOUSLY thoughts from a very insecure, and perhaps a little crazy, girl.  I say "girl" because I feel that those insecurities are immature and girlish. But, don't lie ladies, we ALL have those insecurities.  Some maybe more than others, but I would like to meet the person that is seriously 100% completely happy with themselves. 

I digress. After the flood of insecurities came, I realized that I felt this way EVERY time someone asked me if I had lost weight. But, wait a minute, isn't that comment supposed to LIFT me? Isn't it supposed to give me the strength to keep going with my journey of health? Perhaps. But it doesn't. Not for me. And, my suspicion is, not for a lot of us out there that are on this journey. 

I decided to do a little research!  Was I the only person who felt this way? I tried asking my Facbook Followers...(thanks to the ONE person that replied) :) I asked my friends. I tried to see if there were articles on the topic. I found THIS ONE from Weight Watchers.  And, in contrast, I found THIS picture. 

REALLY?!?!  This is motivation to people?? 
I found out that I'm not really alone.  A lot of people feel the way that I do.  Some are LOOKING for that affirmation. Others, like myself. almost dread it. I feel that giving this particular "compliment" can have more of a negative impact than a positive one. Consider the following:

1. It can add a bit of self-consciousness to someone that is already struggling with self esteem.
2. It sort of reinforces the idea that it's OK to look at someone and judge their body. AND, that people ARE judging your body.
3. The compliment ASSUMES that the person is TRYING to lose weight, and that this is somehow a goal that should be obtained.
4. It puts the idea into our heads that losing weight = looking good. That we can only look good if weight has been lost. 
5. What if the person has NOT lost weight... that makes for an awkward situation.

What Makes a Person LOOK Good?

See, I AM a healthy person.  Ok, well, I have a cold that I can't seem to get rid of, BUT while at the doctor for said cold, I had some blood work done.  The results?? P-E-R-F-E-C-T!!!  Nothing too high, nothing too low! I said to the doctor "I'm just a healthy gal!... other than this cold."  Then I felt the need to add ..."and my weight."  You know what he said???  "Yup, just a healthy gal!" 

Now, I'm not going to pretend that my weight doesn't come into play when it comes to being healthy. We ALL know that being overweight can, and probably WILL, cause health problems. But, at that point, I was pretty happy to hear those words.  

Interestingly enough, earlier in the year, I had a conversation with my brother-in-law.  He and his wife are SUPER active.  They go biking, jogging, skiing, water boarding, hiking... you name it!  I admit, I'm even a little jealous of how active they are. BUT, his cholesterol is pretty high.  He struggles with it.  He was SHOCKED to hear that I have always had perfect numbers on my blood work.  How could that be?? To LOOK at me, you would never guess that I didn't struggle AT LEAST with cholesterol. Does my blood work change the way I LOOK? Nope! Do people say "WOW!  Perfect blood work!  You look great!" Well...I wish! 

The truth is, I'm not sure that what I LOOK like should matter. I think that people can be healthy and NOT look super thin. I think that people can be thin and be unhealthy. I think that if a person is TRULY healthy, they will be happy and THAT is what matters. Happiness. 

What Makes Me Happy

I DO look good! I'm happy! I eat whole foods. I limit my sugar intake. I try to eat organic whenever possible. I eat foods that I grow myself. I am not a runner or a sitter. I like to play while being active. I like to walk and have time to myself.  I'm not sure if I will EVER be a runner. But maybe, a hiker, biker, swimmer, or something else unknown. I can't tell you what is on TV because we don't have cable. I grind wheat, oats, flax, quinoa, and brown rice to make AMAZING bread! I sing. I teach singing. I am a mom and wife.  I'm not thin. But, I'm ME! And, I LOVE ME!!  

So, PLEASE, stop telling me that I look good. I feel that it implies that I didn't look good before. Stop telling me that I'm NOT healthy because I'm overweight. Just STOP TALKING TO ME ABOUT MY WEIGHT!  There is so much more to me than that. Instead, tell me how happy I look. Tell me how nice my smile is. Tell me that you like my AWESOME hair! Or how about just simply saying "You look nice!"

I'm not making a declaration for ALL WOMEN out there, but... for me... let's not have my weight be the focus of any conversation. If you ask me if I have lost weight, you might find me answering:

"No, have you FOUND some?? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How 10 Ten Seconds Changed My Life

I had this whole post written about how crazy my life has been over the past year and how that led to my neglecting this blog.  After reading it, I realized that I could sum up ALL 3 PAGES in one sentence:

 Being healthy went from the top of my priority list, to the bottom of it. 

See??  This is my "I know that my priorities got messed up" look.

That's it. We moved, we needed more money, I was trying to build up a vocal studio and start a new music business, we were living with parents, I was teaching until 7:00 and then going to rehearsal until 10:30, we moved into a new house, I started a new day job, the boys started school, and I used any extra time that I had to try to be with them so that they wouldn't see how badly I was failing at being a parent. 

That is my year in summary. ONE YEAR!!!  WOW!!  My, how time flies! 

I write this after a doctors appointment that I recently had where it was determined that I was suffering from exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and maybe even some more underlying issues. After threatening to hospitalize me (I'm sure a last ditch effort to make me take him seriously,) the doctor told me to go home, get some rest, and "take my medicine" while I wait for blood work to come back. 

So, as I TRY to be a good girl and lay in bed, my mind has wandered back over the past year, and "where it all went wrong." 

I can list 100 things that led to my lack of care for my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. See, that's how it works.  It's never just one thing that throws your life off track. It's lots of little things.  Lots of little "I can handle this," or "I can add this to my life" decisions and events. All this leads up to the day that you look in the mirror and you don't recognize yourself anymore. In fact, you resent the person that you see.  Maybe even despise them. I wasn't taking care of myself, and as a result, I was failing at almost everything else that I was trying to do. 

Taking Care of Myself

A week ago, I sat in front of my mirror and examined my face, my arms, my stomach, my legs, even my nose. Like so many times before, I found myself literally HATING what I saw and feeling overwhelmed with the effort that it would take to change it. I know the rules. I know that sending those messages to your body actually makes matters worse, both physically AND emotionally. I know that it raises Cortisol levels that then lead to a lower metabolism and increased stomach fat. I have tons of previous posts about emotional health and it's relation to physical health.  But it didn't stop those feelings of frustration, defeat, embarrassment, and hatred from sneaking inside my head. I thought that by focusing on everyone else and their needs- or our needs, things would be better. But that's not true, is it? I mean, we need to be on top of our game to be able to handle things when times are tough.

I wonder if I had taken some "me" time each day, like I was used to doing, if I might have had the energy to deal with the cards that I was dealt at the time.  One thing is for certain, I wouldn't have had as much anxiety, stress, and depression.  I would have FELT better, had more energy, and better focus.  Perhaps I would have had better balance because I would have not felt so overwhelmed.  This is a lesson that I am just now learning. Instead, I ignored myself, and put the focus on trying to put out the fires that were part of my life. I was too busy and tired to fight back.... and perhaps even care. But THIS DAY, it was particularly bad.  I thought about going back on one of "those" diets that never worked before.  I thought about faking ADHD so that I could get a prescription for a drug that has extreme weight loss as a side effect!  What the....!!!  WHO WAS THIS GIRL THAT I WAS STARING AT IN THE MIRROR??  What happened to the girl that had energy about living a healthy life style- no matter what she LOOKED like!??  Then, a small thought entered my mind....

1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10... make it better! 

When my boys are scared, I tell them that it's ok, everyone gets scared, but everyone also has courage. Even if we don't FEEL like we have any at that time, it's still there. So, we have ten seconds to be afraid, to question, to be defeated.  THEN, we stand tall. We give it all we have. We make a change. We make a difference. We figure out a way that WE can make it better, and realize that not everything is in our control.  It doesn't matter what the outcome is.  We win some battles, we lose some battles in life, but I tell them I will ALWAYS be proud of them if they can honestly say that they stood tall and worked hard.  This gets us through nightmares, arguments, homework, and MOST of the issues that little boys face on a daily basis. 


These are our "battle" faces.... his is better than mine.
For me, one week ago, it got me to stop in my tracks, and start the pathway back to where I needed to be. I made an appointment to go to the doctor and be brave enough to say that AT THIS TIME, I can't do this alone.  Normally, my anxiety is something that I have control over. But right now- I need help. I am super tired, anxiety is at it's height, depression is at it's low, but I've had my 10 seconds... I need to have the courage to make a change. 

This post is the beginning of that change. The Healthy Redhead helped me feel good about myself.  I like to think that it helped others as well.  And, it's time to put some more focus into her. It sounds funny to talk about The Healthy Redhead as a different person, but she IS a different person. Different than who I am right now.  I don't know where to start, really. I guess we will all learn and grow together!  That was the point of the blog in the first place. I can't wait to see what happens! What I DO know is that I can't stop taking care of myself.  Everything else will fall apart if I have fallen apart. Again, I'm organizing a change. I'm TAKING the time to prioritize my life.  I'm pondering, praying, and setting the ball into motion.  I'm on my way back! Did you miss me?

I know that EVERYONE feels this way at times. We ALL let life get in the way of our well-being.  I REALLY encourage YOU to take "10 seconds" and breathe.  Be afraid. Be mad. Be hurt. Then, look yourself in they eye and make a difference. Make a change. Give it all you have! Figure out a way to make it better.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Canning Season- Is it worth it?

So, I basically took the Summer off from blogging!  It was a crazy Summer!  My garden was HUGE!!  I MIGHT have gone a little overboard with it.  BUT, the harvest was WONDERFUL!

Tomato Sauce
Green Beans
Grape Juice
Raspberry Jam
and so much more!!!

I've been busy!

I still have apples, some peaches, and green beans to go.  PLUS, harvesting the carrots, drying onions, and using the last of the tomatoes!

So, is it worth it??

This seems to be the question of the hour!  For me, the answer is... sometimes. See, my jars and supplies have long since paid for themselves.  So, financially, it IS worth it.  But in the time that it takes to bottle or freeze these items, I'm not sure that over powers the financial gain.  I lost a lot of time with my family because of the time spent canning/freezing.  AND, it totally took over my kitchen.

I think in a time when organic food is SO READILY AVAILABLE, and at a fair price (at Costco,) we can finally ask ourselves if "putting up food" is really worth the benefits to the family.


Cost: Once you make the initial purchase, the cost of canning your own food is fairly negligible.  Even if you take the time spent on it and paid yourself $10/hour, your would still be coming out on top.  However, this is only after about 3 years of use.

 Let's take green beans for example. At $0.10/oz, each of my bottles of green beans are worth $3.20. Since my initial investment of the bottles has paid itself off a long time ago, that doesn't go into my costs. The lid for that bottle cost me $0.10. The rings are re-used over and over and, have paid themselves off long ago as well. In a matter of 4 hours total, I can process $38.40 worth of organic green beans for a total cost of $1.40 and 4 hours of my time. Even if I bought everything new, I would be getting $38.40 worth of green beans for appx. $15.00 plus 4 hours of my time. If I added together the canning time PLUS the planting, it would only be MAYBE 6 hours total since I plant my garden in a way that I don't weed... at all. So, that helps too. I'm getting better quality food at over half the cost. And, as I said before, I know EXACTLY what went into that bottle, and what was used to grow the bean. But like Alice said, if you ARE going to bottle produce, you'd better do it right! Take pride and care in it. I too, have seen too many people bottle bruised, or questionable fruit only to have it go bad in the jar and they have to throw it out. On the other hand, if you have the cash to spare and you just want to rely on the Organic standards, by all means, spend the time doing something else, because it IS a huge pain! Some will argue that their time is worth MORE than what it saves them. I guess that is relative. Sometimes, my time is precious and valuable.... other times, I've got plenty to share. So, if it comes down to spending quality time with the family or canning, family wins. But if it's watching Dr. Who or canning, canning wins.

Quality:  You KNOW where your food came from. You know what brand of peaches or apples you like and you know if pesticides were used, or if worms got into them... etc.  There isn't a middle man to make you wonder.

Recipe: If your mothers recipe to salsa, chili sauce, apple pie filling, pickles or what not is the best- then the only way to get it is to can it yourself.

Decor: Ok, so, I like the way canned goods look in my pantry.  I feel so... "general store-ish."

Pride: There is a sense of pride that comes from doing this yourself.  The whole "I DID THAT" feeling goes a long way.


Time:  Canning is time consuming.  It just is!  Prepare ye to stand in the kitchen for hours on end.  And your Saturdays???  Oh kiss them good-bye! Sorry camping trip, the BEANS ARE ON!!

Processed:  This is just a con all around for canned food.  It's no secret that frozen food maintains its nutrients while canned goods have most of the nutrients cooked out of them. However, some things just don't freeze very well and you HAVE to can them!

Physical Labor:  Yup, gardening is a lot of work!  I am pretty lazy and I use black plastic to help keep the weeds out, and it STILL takes a lot of work!

Overall, I would have to say that some foods were worth the work, while others... not so much.  I found that this was mostly the case with the particular recipes that I was canning.  Things like pickles, tomato sauce, green beans- things that I want to taste (or feel) a certain way.  Other than that, I think that you might find me a little more in the canned/frozen section at Costco!

What about you?  Anyone else do some canning this year?  How many buy from the store? Why? What works best for YOUR family?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Amazing Discoveries

Last week, I posted about "Sharpening the Saw." I set a goal for each of my four "dimensions of nature:" physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state of being. What I learned was I function better when I FEEL that I am accomplishing things. I feel worthwhile, alive, like I'm making a difference.

It seems sort of silly to think those things, doesn't it? I mean, in reality, what I accomplished was all self-centered. I nurtured MY relationship with God. I focused on MY eating habits. I basically focused on ME! In doing so, I found that those in my circle of influence benefited from my efforts as well. I was happier, more organized, and had a better overall self image.

One thing I want to highlight in this post is what I learned about my eating habits.  It's no secret that I am in the process of applying the "Intuitive Eating" lifestyle. This journey has been eye-opening and life changing.  Although I have not reached my physical goal, I continue to learn more and more about WHY I am not at that goal.  The more I learn, the more I change for the better. This past week was no different.  I learned that although I am quite good at recognizing hunger, I am NOT good at recognizing it's absence!  I have no idea when to stop eating!  I don't even stop when my plate is empty!  I only stop when I reach the "point of no return."  In other words, I stop eating when my body is so full, that it would make me almost sick to take another bite.

My friends, lightning has struck my brain! I have been using HUNGER as a cue to START eating, and FULLNESS as a cue to STOP eating. I have been known to say:

"Eat when you are hungry, stop when you aren't hungry anymore. Don't wait until your full."

I wasn't taking my own advice!  (Isn't that the way it always happens?) So, WHY wasn't I taking my own advice?  Because I didn't want to accept the fact that I wasn't hungry anymore!  The food tasted so good, or I paid so much money for it, or I felt that I wouldn't have the chance to eat that food again for awhile. No matter the excuse (and there are plenty,) I found myself more and more IGNORING the fact that I just wasn't hungry anymore.  This little LIE, let me keep eating and eating until I could almost feel the food in my throat.... literally. (Gross, right?)

That being said, I am now AWARE of this little problem and have now decided that I need to not only eat when I am hungry (not starving,) but I need to ACCEPT when that hunger has been satisfied and is no longer present.

This. This, is my ONLY physical goal this week.  To accept the absence of hunger. My other goals go as follows:

Spiritual: Read scriptures daily.  I am SO out of that habit, and I really enjoyed it.
Emotional: Spend quality time with the boys. Summer is almost gone, and I want to PLAY some more.
Mental: Get my "School Year" schedule set for voice lessons and Let's Play Music. It's almost time to start!

How about you? What are YOUR goals?  What did you learn about yourself this last week?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sharpening the Saw

There is an old Irish legend, a story of two lumberjacks.  Both men were skilled woodsmen although the first was much bigger, welding a powerful axe.  He was so strong that he didn’t have to be as accurate for he still produced due to his sheer size.  He was known far and wide for his ability to produce great quantities of raw material. Many hired him just because he was bigger.  After all, his customers reasoned, everyone knows that bigger is always better!! 
In spite of his size, the second woodsman’s fame was spreading for his skill was in his accuracy.  There was very little waste in his efforts so his customers ended up with a better product for their money. Soon the word spread that his work was even better than his larger competition! 

Upon hearing this, the larger man became concerned.  He wondered, “How could this be? I am so much bigger that I MUST be better!” He proposed that the two compete with a full day of chopping trees to see who was more productive.  The winner would be declared “The Greatest Lumberjack in all the land.” The smaller man agreed and the date for the bout was set.

The townspeople began talking.  They placed their bets.  The larger woodsman was the favorite to win with a 20 to 1 advantage.  After all, bigger is better!  The evening before the bout, both men sharpened their blades.  The smaller woodsman strategized to win the bout.  He knew he would never win because of his size. He needed a competitive advantage. Each man went to bed confident that he would be declared the winner. 
Morning broke with the entire town showing up to cheer on the lumberjacks.  The competition started with a the judge’s shout, “GO!” The first woodman, strong and broad, leaped into action.  He sawed vigorously and continuously without stopping knowing that every tree he felled brought him closer to his coveted title. 

The second woodsman, wasting no time and jumped into action as well, attacking his trees with every intention of winning the distinguished title.  But unlike his larger competitor, this man stopped every hour to sharpen his blade. 
This worried the townspeople greatly.  They murmured among themselves.  Surely, he could never win if he didn’t work longer and harder than his competitor.  His friends pleaded with him to increase his speed, to work harder but to no avail.  This pattern continued until the end of the day when both men heard the judge yell “TIME!”, signaling the end of the match. 

The larger man stood, winded and exhausted but proudly by his pile of trees knowing he had given his best.  Surely, he was the winner! The smaller woodsman also stood by his pile of trees though, unlike his competitor, the smaller man was still fresh, ready to continue if necessary.  He also stood confident of his efforts having toiled mightily for the prize.

When all the trees were counted, it was announced that the second woodsman had indeed felled more trees and had won the title of “The Greatest Lumberjack in all the Land!”  He happily shook the judge’s hand gripping the new blade that signified the win. The larger man, and most of the townspeople, stood in stunned silence at the announcement for he was, after all, stronger with the larger axe!

But the smaller woodsman, well, he was not surprised.  For he knew all along that in order to win especially against a larger competitor, his instrument had to be continually sharpened.  His axe was smaller and therefore each swing must be more accurate in order to produce the better product. By stopping the sharpen his instrument, he had proven, once and for all, that he was the better man for the job.

Sharpening the Saw

In his book, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey talks about sharpening the saw. He says: 
"It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in a wise and balanced way. To do this we have to be proactive." 

The "dimensions of our nature" that he is referring to are the following: Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical. Keeping balance between these four areas in our life brings greater peace, happiness, and purpose. You define what it is in your life that you are committed to. 
I'll admit, my situation is and has been very similar to where it was when I started THR over a year ago!  I've been up and down in dress sizes, and have not focused on my health the way that I should have. I have found myself going over old posts to motivate myself again and put ME back into the spotlight. Yet, most of the time I feel like I am spinning my wheels. 

Now, I as stare at the mountain of laundry ahead of me (a side effect from moving,) I realize that I am getting back to where I can focus on myself and my family.  Although it was really nice to be living with my parents and spending quality time with them, I have to admit, I am ready to be just us again. My life is still crazy busy! "High School Musical" doesn't open for another month, I am recruiting for a children's music education program that I am teaching from my home called Let's Play Music, and I still teach voice lessons.  Top this off with the HUGE garden that I have planted and I don't really have down time. Alas, I find myself sitting at my computer trying to organize my life into something bearable. My life FEELS overwhelming, and I am letting it affect me! Therefore, today, I have decided to "sharpen my saw." It's time to sit down, prioritize, and make room for the important things in my life. I find that if I am put together, the rest sort of puts itself together. Anyone else notice that? 

Give it a shot! Take some time to re-set goals.  I mean REALLY set them, like, write those suckers down! Start with ONE goal for each dimension in your life: Spiritually, Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically. Come up with a game plan for each goal, and focus on those things for a week. I'll add my weekly goals at the end of my posts for awhile to help me stay on track.  Let me know how it went for you! 

My Goals

Spiritually: Take time to have REAL, heart-felt, prayer. Too often, I end up spouting off the "go-to list." That needs to change. I need time to have a one-on-one with God.

Mentally: Put some time into studying and preparing for rehearsals, voice lessons, and Let's Play Music recruiting. The "work" aspect of my life seems to be "treading water." I attend to it when they call, but then I'm only half as good as I could be because of lack of preparation. 

Emotionally: FAMILY TIME!  My life is so busy that I need to PLAN family time. I want to have at least ONE night a week where we GO OUT and DO something as a family.  Golf, Mini-Golf, Hiking, Bikes, Lagoon, whatever.  We need it.  I have about 10 other goals for this category, but those will come when I get a handle on this one.

Physically: Here it is! Time to pay attention to my body again! My goal is to pay attention to my hunger scale. I KNOW that I am eating past the time when I am no longer hungry. There seems to be this small line where you aren't hungry anymore, but you aren't full.  THIS is when I need to stop eating.  I just have to slow down and NOTICE it!

Ways to Sharpen the Saw

Organize a space dedicated to yourself
Go to the Spa

Have quality conversation
Complete a "bucket list" item
Listen to music
Learn something new

Read Scriptures
Enjoy Nature
Write in a journal

Hold Hands with Someone
Date night!

If you'd like, go ahead and share your goals with me! Having someone to account to really does help!  I'm not even sure that people read this, but it certainly helps me! Don't forget to check out our Facebook Page! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Eating off of the Land!

How many of you grow gardens?

While we lived in AZ, I wasn't able to grow a garden. We were renting, and the landlord didn't want us to.  Needless to say, I am SUPER EXCITED to be growing one this year.  As a result... I MIGHT have over shot a little.  Thus far, I have planted:

20 Roma Tomato Plants
20 Celebrity Tomato Plants
30 Pole Bean Plants
20 Bush Bean Plants (these are white beans.. I have a vision of canning/freezing the white beans and the green beans together.  Pretty, huh!
Red Onions
Green Onions
Romaine Lettuce
Swiss Chard
Pickling Cucumbers
Garden Cucumbers
Crookneck Squash
Spaghetti Squash
Butternut Squash

All of THIS on top of land with a HUGE raspberry patch, blackberry patch, apple tree, 2 peach trees, 2 pear trees, 1 cherry tree, and a walnut tree!!! 

I might be in over my head... but OH the fresh goodness!!!  

Butter head lettuce... pretty tasty

Corn!  It's popping up!  Time to thin.... 

A view of the SOME of the garden...
the black plastic helps keep the weeds out!  

FEED ME, SEYMORE!!  Isn't this just the cutest little squash plant??
It's getting bigger and bigger each day!  How many of you plant gardens?  What is your favorite thing to plant?  Anyone have any "go to" tips to share?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

When You're Happy, You're Healthy. Avoiding Emotional Hoarding.

I recently found myself in a situation where I was told that I "wasn't liked" by some women that I know. Obviously, my feelings were hurt.  Although I had suspected this was the case, I didn't let it bother me until it was "confirmed" by one of those women. She chose to tell my husband how she didn't care for me and found me "opinionated, abrasive, straight forward," and other, similar traits. He was a gem and defended my honor to the best of his ability. It hurt HIM to hear these things and it hurt ME to hear them from HIM.  But, you know what??  She was right!

Let me be clear. I am not ALWAYS opinionated, abrasive, or straight forward. But I CAN be. And, since this woman hasn't take the time to REALLY get to KNOW me, I figure that is all she might see because that is all she KNOWS.

I stressed about this for a couple of weeks.  I worried, prayed, cried, yelled, complained, and became very bitter toward these women UNTIL..... I found out that they were holding grudges for things said and done YEARS ago!!! What!?!? Suddenly, I felt bad for them. Holding onto negative feelings toward a person without that person knowing anything about it only hurts YOU! Can you imagine holding onto something so long that it just eats at you... creating a hole that just gets bigger over time?

My first instinct was to confront these women.  "Give them a piece of my mind" and let them know that THEY are FAR from perfect! My next instinct was to confront them and try to "work it out." Although that might still happen, something tells me that IF the grudge was released and good feelings came through, there is a high possibility that it would be quickly replaced with yet, ANOTHER grudge. I say this because I have learned a little bit from this experience. As some time has passed, I learned that I am not the only person that these women have negative feelings towards. There are more! Quite a few, actually.  Some of them have known this wrath for longer than I. Knowing that I wasn't singled out did make me feel a little better, but it made me feel worse for those that hold the grudge.  This has led me to believe one of two things: These women won't let go of this grudge, or they will let go, only to replace it with another. I quickly began to wonder if these women are, what I refer to as, EMOTIONAL HOARDERS.

Emotional Hoarders

Most people have seen those shows on TV about the people that hoard junk in their homes. To the outside eye, these people seem happy, normal, and functional.  But, taking a closer look, you realize that they have been hurt.  Something made them feel insecure and they started holding on to things.  The things that they hold on to are ALWAYS "important" to them. They feel like they can't let go of them without giving up a piece of themselves. While others realize that most of those items are trivial and unimportant, it takes A LOT of effort to convince the hoarder that they need to LET GO. In the mean time, they have shut themselves off from the world, only letting in a few close people. The house gets so full that it covers windows and sinks, making it impossible to allow light into the home or to clean house. It becomes overwhelming and takes over their life. A false sense of security is created by holding on to these items and the hoarder loses themselves in the mess.

It is SO easy for humans to become "emotional hoarders." We carry grudges, say mean things, hold onto "that one time" that "so and so" did something that hurt us. Each instance is "important!" The more that we hold on to, the easier it gets and the quicker we judge. We stop wanting to be around people that are positive... in fact, they annoy us! Sometimes, we let others in to see our "mess."  We complain, gossip, and perhaps even confront the "offender."  But emotional hoarders NEVER let go. They might tell you EXACTLY what it was that hurt them 10 years ago, but won't forgive... or forget. They CAN'T!  If they did, they are giving up something that has now become "precious" to them. A defense. An emotional wall of negative JUNK. A wall that is SO high that soon, light will no longer be able to shine through.  The only thing left is to be bitter, full of negativity and sarcasm.

Protect Your Health

Are you one of these people? I almost was... well, toward these certain people anyway. Do not mistake me, I understand that there are emotional scars that cut very deep.  Those scars take a long time to heal and a lot of effort to forgive. I wish that we could all be like the Amish People who forgave the murderer that killed their daughters. If you are unfamiliar with that story, it is a life changing read.  You can find it HERE. The fact is that not everyone can easily forgive. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't TRY.

You might be wondering "What does this have to do with health?  Isn't this The Healthy Redhead Blog?" Well, yes, and, I'll tell you.
 "Joseph Neumann, PhD, a clinical psychologist at East Tennessee State University, is researching the relationship between forgiveness and heart disease. "When I treated patients with cardiovascular disease, I was struck by how many were bitter, angry, and depressed," says Neumann. "It clearly affected their health and their ability to heal."
To test his hypothesis, Neumann is planning a study using a variety of methods to test 200 volunteers for their capacity to forgive. Neumann says that based on past experience, he would be surprised if he doesn't find that those who score high on the forgiveness scale have less anger, depression, and anxiety and are at lower risk for cardiovascular disease."
Above is a section of an article found on Web MD. The article is fascinating and can be found HERE.  
Negative Emotions LITERALLY poison your body.
What happens when you HOARD negative emotion?

Cleaning House

I was very fortunate and knew that I needed to "clean house."  I needed to stop holding on to the things that were bringing me down.  It wasn't easy!  I mean, I have to see these people on a fairly regular basis.  But, I also understand that although they may continue to have their opinions, I have the option to move past it.  I control how I act, what I say, and how I respond. Therefore, I am choosing LOVE. It sounds cheesy, I know.  But I wonder if I invite them to dinner with me and the girls, or if I invite their children over to play, or serve them in other ways, that maybe they will see the side of me that I HOPE other people see. I don't have to argue with them to defend my integrity and character.  I prove them wrong through ACTION. Actions speak louder than words, right? If that is the case, I can only hope MY actions will SHOUT POSITIVE, LOVING, words from the tops of the Wasatch Mountains! 

If you find yourself on the road to emotional hoarding, follow these steps to start releasing some of that junk.

1. Recognize the Issue. Avoid complicating the problem by recognizing the main source.  It does no good to clean up cobwebs if you don't kill the spider.  What is it that is truly causing the negative feelings? 

2. Ask yourself what it would take for you to feel better and if your desire is realistic.  Sometimes just an "I'm Sorry" really isn't enough, especially if behavior doesn't change. However, when someone truly wants to be forgiven, they have to feel like forgiveness really IS possible. Setting unrealistic expectations complicates the issue and in many cases, worsens it. 

3.  Follow through. Once you have decided to forgive, and HOW to forgive, actually DO IT!  You can't change the game rules at the last second because you suddenly decided that that person wasn't deserving of forgiveness.  EVERYONE DESERVES FORGIVENESS.  Let us also not forget that WE too will find ourselves needing to be forgiven. Who wants to be the person that expects forgiveness but won't forgive.... especially if it involves the same person that we had an issue with. Finally, I think that we can all agree that it's not our place to judge or grudge. Let's leave the judging to the "big guy upstairs."

4. Find something positive to replace the negative. Ever heard that it takes two positives to replace a negative?  It's true.  Find those positive things and embrace them. THEN, let the other person know that you "like" those things about them. That will make them feel like their efforts in obtaining forgiveness were not in vain and their smile will help to solidify the positive emotion within yourself.

5. Let it Go.  At the risk of breaking into the now ever popular song, just LET IT GO!!  Forgive, forget, and release the negative issue.  YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO HOLD ON TO IT!  Negative emotions will ruin your health, your relationships, friendships, break apart families, and darken your spirit. It's not worth it. Forgiving doesn't make them right, it lets you move forward. 

If I am able to get these ladies to meet with me, I will: 
  • Listen to their concerns
  • Apologize for hurting them
  • Explain that I didn't mean to hurt them. I mean, who wakes up in the morning thinking "I'm going to piss this person off today."  Not many people.
  • Tell them that I love them
  • Explain that I too have had bad feelings towards them.
  • Ask for forgiveness from them
  • Tell them that I forgive their negative feelings towards me

Then, I would get up, hug them, walk out the door and LET IT GO.  LIKE A BOSS! My "house" will be clean and free from hoarding, and hopefully, theirs will be too. Or at least a window will be clear and light will be allowed into their home. Yup, that is what I will do.  

If not given that opportunity, I can assure you that I won't let THIS issue turn me into a hoarder. Nope, "I ain't got no time for that!" I'm to busy being happy with the things that I DO have control over. And, that is enough for me. Let it be enough for you to. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

365 Days

I have been both excited for and dreading this post.  365 days ago, I wrote my very first post for T.H.R.  I don't want to say 1 year, because that just feels like I am "skimming" over the whole journey thus far. In reality, it has been a day-by-day journey.... 365 days. 365 days of trial and error. 365 days of ups and downs. 365 days of negative and positive thinking and motivation. 365 days of joy, frustration, learning, exercising, laziness, old, new, happy and sad. My personal road to a healthier, happier, life has been one with A LOT of hills, and many more MOUNTAINS! Much like a lot of you have probably experienced.

365 days ago, my ultimate goal was to "take a year off" from dieting.  I was sick of being told how many calories I "should" have, and how long I "should" exercise. I wanted to be both HEALTHY and HAPPY.  And, at that point, I just wasn't.  I don't know that anyone can really be happy if they spend their days counting and deducting calories, waking up at the crack of dawn to exercise, then eat nothing but brown rice, grilled chicken, and broccoli. I DO know that I just couldn't try that anymore.  The more that I tried to exercise, count calories, portion sizes, and eat specific foods, the more I hated myself.  Why?  Because I was FAILING at it.  I couldn't LIVE that way.  365 days ago, I realized that I was missing the point.  I needed to LIVE.

"Learning to eat was about learning to LIVE, and DECIDING to live! And, it's one of the most radical things that I have ever done!" -
Anne Lamott

The term "healthy lifestyle" is thrown around a lot in the dieting community.  I had always thought that once I BECAME healthy, I would LIVE healthy.  Isn't that just a ridiculous thing to think?  Yet, how many other people out there feel the same way?

I had plenty of excuses! In fact, I think I started my first post with naming all of those excuses. We ALL have excuses!  365 days ago, I realized that MY excuses just didn't matter. I realized that I COULD be both happy and healthy and STILL have the issues that I had. I sat down at my computer, came up with a plan of exercise and diet (based off of my knowledge at the time,) and put the plan into motion.  365 days later, that plan has changed a few times. As I continued to learn and adapt a lifestyle that felt good and made sense to me, I adapted my "plan" accordingly.   Now, I look back and see how much I have learned, how much I have grown, and how much happier and healthier I am.
Day 1 to Day 365
I like this the most. You can see a consistent difference.
Slowly but surely! Never to go back! 

Day 1 to Day 365
Not a HUGE difference... 6 months is the best.
Guess those push-ups were working.... should get back on those.
Day 1 to Day 365
Dramatic Difference at 6 months- Just a little at 1 year

Over the past 365 days, I grew to understand the following:

1. I do best when I listen to my body. I have adapted the "Intuitive Eating" policy of eating what your body wants to eat, when it's hungry, and stopping when it's not hungry anymore.  I refer to my body as "it" instead of "me" because I consider "me" to be my MIND.  If I listen to my MIND, I over eat because my mind tells me that I WANT more food. "It tastes so good." "I won't have another chance to eat this again for a long time." "I spent a lot of money on this meal."

When I listen to my BODY, I stop at the right time. I ignore the messages from the 35 years of brain training, and outside triggers, and I just DO. 

I have adapted the same idea when it comes to exercise. I leave myself an hour of activity time each day. What I do during that time depends on how I FEEL.   I will admit, this is my weakest spot since I DO tend to listen to my brain more on this one. I give in too easily when the time comes and I am "too tired" or "too busy" to take a walk, go for a jog, swim, bike ride, hike, or anything else that requires physical effort.

I still need work. It's good to still be WORK-ING on it though. I haven't given up.  I don't WANT to give up. WHOA!  I. DON'T. WANT. TO. GIVE. UP! Keep listening to your body. It will tell you what it needs.

2. Losing weight comes naturally. I don't really like to refer to losing fat as "losing weight."  I haven't weighed myself in 6 months or so. (Since I decided THAT NUMBER didn't define me.) My clothes got loose. I went down 3 dress sizes.... went up when times were stressful, and then went down again.

Although I might not be as "small" as I had hoped I would be after a year, I AM small-er! The crazy thing is that I am not just smaller around my waist (my BIG problem spot,) my FEET are smaller (a whole shoe size!) My FINGERS are smaller! I can FINALLY put on my wedding ring! (Although it still looks pretty tight- at least it goes ON!) My NOSE is smaller. My glasses keep sliding off!

Don't stop living a healthy lifestyle because you aren't getting the results that you WANT.  Be grateful for the results that you HAVE. Notice them. The rest will come. 

3. There is no such thing as a "quick fix."  Changing a lifestyle doesn't happen over a period of 30, 60, or 90 days! Sure, you can do a 90 day program that kicks your trash and, if you are overweight and not used to that lifestyle, you will hate every minute of it. Once the 90 days are over, you will be happy with the results, try to keep going with it, try to maintain the diet, and soon.... give up. 90 days later, you are back where you started.  How do I know this? Because I have been there more times than I care to count.

A true lifestyle change comes from within. It starts with a firm knowledge and acceptance of what is right. Then, it builds from there... block by block. Sometimes, you have to tear down a part of a wall and re-build, re-train your mind and body. Other times, you destroy a wall because you stopped making it a priority. Then, it takes extra care when you come back. Overall, changing your LIFE should take more care than 90 days. I am 365 days into it and just on my way. But I can honestly say that I will NEVER be back to where I was when I started.  I have CHANGED too much. 

4. Nothing is off limits! One cookie is not the end of the world... 12 cookies are not the end of the world (although your tummy might disagree....) I am in control of my own destiny.  I am not perfect. But, I am ALSO in charge of my own destiny.  I CHOOSE whether I take myself closer to my goal or further away from it. Sometimes, the pastry is JUST what I needed.... most of the time, I can pass.

The more restrictive and complicated I make things, the MORE I don't give a crap. (Not the word that came into my head, but nicer, for sure.) Isn't it funny how that works? Tell me that I CAN'T do something, and all I want, IS to do that very thing! It's just better if I CHOOSE not to eat certain things, or live a certain way.

5. Fit is NOT the same as thin. My WHOLE LIFE, I have wanted perfect legs, skinny waist, and delicate arms. Now, I don't care about that.  I HONESTLY don't care WHAT I look like, I care about how I FEEL. I don't LOOK like it, but I could probably lift more than a lot of those "bird leg" gals. I am stronger. I can jog longer than I could a year ago. I CAN DO A FULL BODY PLANK FOR 60 SECONDS!!!  That might not seem like a lot to YOU, but for someone that could only do 10 seconds before, that. is. HUGE! I am getting stronger ever day. The only reason that I wish my OUTSIDE showed a little more of my efforts, is so that people would LISTEN to me when I tell them that what I am DOING is actually WORKING.

I am getting more and more FIT on the outside AND on the inside! 

6. Little efforts still bring big results... they just take more time. Small changes are easier than big ones. Walking for 10 minutes a day starts the ball rolling toward 20 min, 30 min, 60 min, JOGGING! Sometimes, your motivation will be strong and you will jump head first into your day. Other times, your motivation will be just a spark, a thought, and you might not care enough to do anything. Whether big or small, ANY effort is good.

A spark can cause the same forest fire that a flame thrower can, it just takes a little more time to build. That isn't a bad thing. 

7. Enjoying the day makes all the difference.  Finding happiness in sunshine or rain is important.  Discouragement happens. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Maybe it's how you ate for the day, maybe it's how active you were, or maybe, it's just that you showered! Just be happy. Enjoy your day.

Happiness fights more than just negativity.  It creates energy, fights off cortisol, and is a fat buster! Who knew!

8. Water is Good. I know that this isn't news to any of you. But, really, I am surprised at how much better I feel when I drink my water! And I am LOVING my new citrus water! Somehow, water makes me WANT to eat healthier foods, exercise, and be happy.

Water is the ONLY "nectar of the Gods!"  (And I used to think it was Coke! I hope this doesn't cause a war!) 

9. How I feel AFTER I eat or exercise is MORE important than WHAT I eat or HOW I exercise. I no longer like Chinese food. Why? Because I don't FEEL good after I eat it.  I LOVE how it tastes. I just don't like the outcome.  I don't like cake anymore because it leaves a weird feeling on the roof of my mouth. Soda BURNS when it goes down. Too much salad gives me the runs! (TMI?) Clean foods give me energy (if I don't over eat.) Limes make me happy! A little cheese is perfect, too much cheese causes digestive problems. (better?) Greasy foods leave a weird coating in my mouth AND make me nauseous. Mexican food is wonderful and amazing, and I almost ALWAYS over eat, so I need to be VERY careful.

Although nothing is off limits, I choose to eat healthier foods more than other foods. I still eat everything else too, just not as often and not as much. 

10. I can't do this alone. I just can't.  I need my family, friends, their family and friends, anyone who might care even a little bit!  I NEED YOU! I've tried doing it alone.  I suck. That is all there is to it! Who doesn't need a little bit of cheering on their behalf? But just as much as I need others, I also need to be that cheer leader right back 'atcha!

Nothing brings happiness, hope, and motivation more than sharing an experience TOGETHER, with other people.  People that understand when fall and cheer when you succeed because they are right there with you! 

I have grown each day throughout this journey. The past 365 days have brought me to the life that I want to live. Now, I can't wait to see what the next 365 days bring and I would LOVE for YOU to be there with me. Let's do the next 365 together! Invite your friends and family! I'll be here. Will you?


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