|The modern world is stressful. Western culture generally compounds the things that cause stress exponentially. It’s all too fast. Too much. Too expensive and too toxic. Stress has been found to play a large part in the overwhelming health problems most Americans are faced with. And yes diabetes and weight gain are conditions that are affected to a large degree by stress. According to www.diabetes.org, “Excessive stress is a major barrier to effective glucose control and a danger to one’s general health. – See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/everyday-life/managing-stress-and-diabetes.html#sthash.jSzF3sLT.dpuf
That article goes on to say that excessive stress impairs sound thinking and contributes to poor decision making which can lead to eating poorly and compulsively. Coincidentally poor judgment can also lead to eating the very things that cause weight gain as well. Stress also releases hormones that cause us to prepare to fight or run and also to make us hungry even when didn’t actually have to expend the additional calories fighting and/or running. Those extra calories cause weight gain and of course we know that uncontrolled weight gain is a recipe for disaster if you’re diabetic.
Deciding to lose weight is admirable but the constant cycle of trying-failing, losing-gaining can ultimately be frustrating and stressful itself. This is where effective goal setting comes into play. The key here being effective. I have found that for me this was problematic. I have Ooooo-its-new-and-shiny-syndrome! Because I am a Health Professional I am often bombarded with emails on every new program for every kind of wellness activity and I find that many of them have real merit. I really want to know it all so that I can help myself and my clients so for a while I signed up for every class and every seminar often times missing sleep and cramming more & more into my already crazy schedule. It was all so new and shiny, so very interesting. Lack of sleep, the stress of so many deadlines and appointments and the constant stress nibbling shot my blood glucose into the stratosphere. Shiny and new? Yes. Good for my overall goal of weight and diabetes management? Uh No! Not even!
It was time for me to get myself under better control. I took a moment to take something I had seen in time management books and modified it so that it better suited me. It became my 4 Quadrant Approach to Time Management. I’d like to share it with you. It works for almost every aspect of my life.
Here’s how it works: First you divide the area of your life (ie your weight loss) into “4 Goals” that are absolute priorities that will move your weight loss forward. Next divide each of those Goals into “4 Projects” that will move you toward reaching your Goals. Do this one Goal at a time so that Projects 1-4 are all listed under the appropriate Goal. Next under each Project list the Task or Tasks that lead to completion of that specific Project. Once you have filled in all 4 Goal quadrants you have created your overall road map. Anything that comes up that doesn’t fit into a Task for a specific Project under a predetermined Goal is a distraction. Pure and simple. Obviously I’m not saying that if your hubby comes home with tickets to see that R&B group you’ve adored forever that you can’t race him to the car giggling like a school girl. I’m saying don’t allow every offer of a movie you hadn’t really even thought about, every happy hour invite or social media posting frenzy keep you from doing what you’ve committed t yourself to accomplish. Activities that don’t fit comfortably into one of the quadrants are distractions…pure and simple…and they don’t move you toward your ultimate goals. Don’t allocate any time toward distractions. Don’t try and squeeze them in! If you have tackled tasks in every project under every goal and you still have some time left over go back and look at the Goals you set for yourself in other areas of your life and work on them. If you still have time left over…your goals weren’t big enough…your dream wasn’t large enough! It’s time to get Ready2Roar!
Where My Girls At?
Where my girls at,
From the front to back,
Well is you feelin’ that,
Put one hand up,
Can you repeat that,
(Performed by 702…Writer(s): R. Stewart, E. Seats, M. Elliott, Rapture D. Stewart, Eric L. Seats, Melissa A. Elliott Copyright: Mass Confusion, E Beats Music, Rap Tracks Publishing, Mass Confusion Prod., WB Music Corp.)
As I began the process of writing this blog I had lots of words for what I have been feeling lately but none of them were quite right. The poet in me (such as it is) kept taking over. Finally I decided to let her have her way. She wanted to send out words of special meaning to the women of her PRIDE. Her daughters, her nieces, her cousins, her Aunties, her close friends and the sisters of her heart. Those that have travelled this journey before her, after her and alongside her. Each of you know who you are and what you are to me but just in case there is any question in your mind…”Where my girls at?”
The best times of my life were spent on “Beaches”
When I was so “Clue-less”.
We were “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”
Even when you wore a dress.
Yeah Sister we were living “A League of Our Own”
I was Doris, you were Mae.
But even after years have passed
You still won’t see it that way.
We’ve been our own “First Wives Club” while “Waiting to Exhale”
The bond between us spans time and space
But it doesn’t fail.
My daughters are my sisters too
The future of my PRIDE.
Magnolias made of steel
For them I’d die or ride.
Now we’re about to “Set It Off” like “Thelma and Louise”
And I got my girls with me
Living “The Secret Lives of Bees.”
[Spoken] Don’t look at me
Every day is so wonderful Then suddenly it’s hard to breathe. Now and then I get insecure From all the pain, I’m so ashamed. I am beautiful no matter what they say. Words can’t bring me down. I am beautiful in every single way. Yes, words can’t bring me down… Oh no. So don’t you bring me down today.
As sung By Christina Aguilera
If you….like me…have undervalued yourself for far too long and have allowed other people’s opinions of you to mean more than your own opinion of yourself. THAT is a hard truth you must come to grips with. You must recognize that you are truly the only real constant in your life. Everyone else can come and will come and go. Whether they are dear friends, beloved family members or your chosen mate, they can be gone from your life between one breath and the next. We are the blood we cannot walk away from. We should be our own support systems. We ourselves are the friends we must not ignore. And yet we are our own worst critics when we should become our own best cheer leaders. Not just in word but in deed.
A while back I saw a trailer for a movie called “The Incredible Mr. Ripley” with my best friend. It was about a young man that completely made himself over in order to assume a lifestyle to which he has grown accustomed. As we watched it we became fascinate with the idea of making ourselves over. Not in order to usurp someone else’s life but to improve upon our own. After the movie, over dinner we designed our new lives. Our “look”, or lifestyle, how we would walk, talk, shop, dress, everything about ourselves. We were going to work on that. Set time tables, toasted our future selves but like many other plans we’d made, life got in the way.
I submit to you that we were not going to impersonate anyone else. Many of us HAVE been impersonating someone else all this time. WE have been impersonating the women our parents groomed us to be, circumstances bullied us into being, or that life coerced us into being. Ding! They won round one. Round two belongs to us!
Our commitments must be to ourselves. We must be answerable to our own highest purposes, our own deepest desires and our own best interests. Only THE MOST HIGH’s purposes, desires and interests should supersede them. If fear is holding you back then recall that much quoted poem:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
Wear these words as a breast plate and shield and prepare to do battle with your own demons, in spite of the obstacles whether real or imagined. I understand those obstacles in you because I recognize them in me. But I am making a concerted effort to see “Nia” as my client, my first priority from a coaching standpoint. I say to myself…would you accept this kind of “run for cover” from a client? Wouldn’t you expect and therefore push a client to be her best, brightest, highest version of herself? Well the answer to that is yes. So I force myself to look in the mirror. And I force myself to see the reflection looking back at me. I can’t always do it for long but I do it. The demons of uncertainty and doubt blink back at me. Confused because they no longer have the power over me they once did. I’m making peace with the “me” that I am in order to embrace the “me” I am choosing to become.
And everywhere we go (and everywhere we go)
The sun will always shine (the sun will always, always shine)
And tomorrow we might wake on the other side
We are beautiful no matter what they say
Yes, words won’t bring us down, no, no
We are beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can’t bring us down, oh, no
So don’t you bring me down today
Oh, yeah, don’t you bring me down today, yeah, ooh
Don’t you bring me down ooh… today
The last 6 weeks or so of my life have been crazy busy…with the emphasis on crazy.
Planning for seminars and workshops followed by conducting them. Webinars and teleconferences to work out plans to enhance my website and add elements to my wellness practice. Dance class for the twins and rehearsals for their dance showcase sometimes 3 or 4 of those per week. Then there were Kindergarten field trips, pediatric appointments, costume fittings, photo shoots for promotional materials for the aforementioned dance showcase…for them…not me. And then there were events to check out potential new schools, end of year parties with their classmates and 2 out of town weddings.
Every single week was crammed so full that I was up by 4 every morning and couldn’t seem to shut it down before 11 and believe me I tried.
My schedule was so full that I was forced to do something I abhor. I had to go to the side of my closet where I hide all my dresses. I HATE dresses! This isn’t just a case of preferring pants. I have to meditate before putting on a dress just to calm my anxiety enough to seriously consider it. But I was soooooo busy that I didn’t have time to do laundry. So with a shortage of clean clothes available to me I had to do the unthinkable…wear a dress. Not one or 2 but several. In fact I have worn a dress or skirt every day but one for the last 2 weeks. *Sob*
I have gleaned several very important lessons from this:
- Never, ever get so busy that there is no room in your schedule for personal care.
Of course I knew this before. This is a topic I discuss extensively with my wellness clients. There really can be no substantial improvement in health & wellness if there is no room in your life to take care of you. I’m not just talking about a missed mani/pedi here & there. I’m talking rest, relaxation, exercise, proper nutrition and as it turns out laundry. This is a lesson where I am remedial. Or cyclical in my case. Periodically I just plain forget about me. Scandalous? Yes I know but not all that uncommon for women.
- When you are a parent (or parenting) or have older parents of your own that you are caring for you are not the only one scheduling your time.
Yes. I know I should have taken this into consideration. But I didn’t …clearly. This is my round two of parenting. I haven’t had to figure out how to schedule around classes, pediatricians and ll things elementary school for almost 20 years. The trick to this is to take all the printed out schedules from all the twins activities, my father’s activities and add them to my calendar on my iPad so that they are as integrated as possible with my personal Google Calendar and my business’ MindBody calendar. And yes I’m going to block out some non-negotiable time for me. (That note for my own Peer Coach who would kill me if she knew just how much I neglected me lately. Forgive me Coach.)
- If I don’t want to be forced to wear dresses I had better either schedule more laundry time or hire somebody to do it for me.
- Finally…2 weeks of dresses won’t kill me. I do in fact look quite attractive in dresses. A fact, I find both creepy and annoying. That, my friends, is the very definition of crazy!
You’ve heard the saying “a cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind” right? Well you know what else equals a cluttered mind?… A cluttered mind does. Seriously… there are days when there are so many thoughts, ideas and plans running through my head that I can barely form a coherent thought. So I started really using the task app on my iPad in order to break things down into more manageable steps. It was a great idea until it got… well…cluttered. The problem is that I just want to do everything!
I feel like I found my passion late in life and I have so much ground to cover. I have about a hundred years worth of things I want to do and only about 50 left to get it done in. I worry that I won’t get it all done unless I create some more time. So I sleep a little less. I skip a few exercise sessions. I’m not as careful with nutrition; sometimes eating the same thing for lunch every day rather than wasting time thinking up something fresh and engaging.
These are all incredibly bad strategies however because when I miss my sleep I risk becoming ill, my thinking becomes foggy and I get clumsy. Like the time I decided to turn around on a moving treadmill, fell and broke my coccyx (that’s my tailbone for those who prefer). One year and I’m still paying for that dumb move. If I had gotten a good night sleep, I might not have thought that was a good idea just because the woman on YouTube did it.
I think better on a good night sleep. My meals are better planned out and more enjoyable. My workouts are more productive and not only do I tend to be more creative; what I create makes more sense to me and everyone else.
I’m getting more sleep these days and sometimes I miss a late night email or text message and I try not to schedule clients after 9pm so I can prioritize the next day’s activities, work out and meditate before bed. On Friday nights I turn in as early as possible. I want to be energized for the twins’ ballet classes on Saturday mornings and the seminars I conduct on Saturday afternoons.
I have accepted that I won’t accomplish everything on my list every day and that many of the things I dream of doing with the rest of my life may not get done at all but I have more energy for the most important ones. I don’t fall down as much as I do when I overtax myself and I pass on dancing backwards on treadmills…while they’re moving at least.
This past weekend I got this tremendous surge of energy! I’d felt it building steadily for the last 2 weeks so when I woke up Saturday morning I knew I would feel good. I just didn’t know how good I was going to feel! This was a feeling of well-being, strength and energy like I haven’t experienced since before I ran my very first half marathon. It was amazing! (And long overdue.)
You see I ran that half marathon 4 months after my mom passed away. I was ill-prepared. I hadn’t trained all that well. Hadn’t lost the weight I’d planned to lose. I was in fact a mess. I started that race with pure adrenaline that dissipated at mile 5 or 6 but finished the race just short of crawling with nothing but fear of the sweeper bus to get me over the finish line.
Grief is a powerful force. It can sap your will and zap your energy. I knew that having lost my younger sister less than 12 months earlier and in between my step mother and step brother. What I didn’t realize was how long it could linger. How long unresolved mourning could continue to drain you. At least I didn’t realize it until…until it lifted! I woke up this past Saturday morning and jumped out of bed like someone had hit an eject button!
I relocated to my parents’ home to raise my nieces and care for my dad and I’ve made some changes in the house but the kitchen really hadn’t been touched. My mom was an amazing cook. I mean the things she could do in a kitchen seemed like the product of magic rather than any human skill. The kitchen represented my mom to me and I just didn’t want to “do” anything to it. So for the last 18 months or so I’ve just worked around it. Squeezed myself and my spices, oils and herbs in between those she left behind. It wasn’t the most convenient way to prepare meals but I was apparently still in a fog that allowed me to function without questioning whether or not that made any sense at all.
So any way Saturday I woke up and worked out as usual…maybe with more bounce in my step than I’d had for a while. Took a shower and sang a little bit as I washed my hair. Then I went down to my mother’s kitchen to make breakfast. I reached onto the spice shelf to get my turmeric and knocked over several bottles of stuff. I picked them up and looked at them. One or two of them contained spice combinations I would NEVER use and one or two of them had expiration dates that had expired. So I tossed them in the trash can without giving them a second thought.
I prepared my breakfast but noticed that one of the skillets had a cracked non-stick coating. The Wellness Coach in me was appalled because I know that the chemicals in non-stick coatings are toxic. Heck I’ve conducted seminars where I shared that very same information. Yep! I tossed it! It felt good. It felt right. It felt better the more stuff I threw away. By the time I finally sat down an hour and a half later my breakfast was cold but my spirit was on fire!
I felt liberated and at peace as I again prepared my breakfast. This time as I prepared my breakfast most of the jars and bottles on the shelves were ones I had purchased myself. The pots and pans were stainless steel and scrubbed clean using essential oils and baking soda. The veggies came from my own little urban garden in the back yard. I smiled a peaceful smile as I took the first bite of the breakfast I made in “my” kitchen. And I truly believe my mommy would have wanted it that way.
Imagine, if you will, having only 1 pair of shoes that fit you perfectly. Oh, you have others. Various colors, textures and styles but those don’t really fit quite right. Other folk have admired some of the other shoes but they’re not really your taste. You could wear them but they pinched a little because they’re too tight or chafed your heels because they’re too big. That one special pair took you years to find as you tried on 100s of other pairs. Some came close. Others were just something you settled for because you had to wear something on your feet. And then finally, one day, the heavens opened up and you saw them. They were so you! Not just the outer you but the inner you as well. Those shoes reflected the shoe diva you were and still are on the inside. They became your trademark. People who described you to strangers started with your shoes for goodness sake.
Now imagine something goes horribly wrong and you must give up that one favored pair. Imagine the sadness and the disappointment as you contemplate having to remove them from your feet knowing you will never wear them again. The heavy sigh as you realize your whole wardrobe is built around those shoes. In your mind’s eye you try to picture yourself wearing some other pair of shoes and all you feel about it is grief and loss.
I’ve never been that attached to a pair of shoes or any material thing actually. I lost my home when my marriage ended more than 20 years ago and it hurt but it was a wooden box and some windows and doors in the final analysis. I got over it. He…the ex…managed to wreck a half dozen cars as well before it was over but once again…just metal boxes on wheels. They could be replaced if I wanted or not. Whatever. There’s always the subway.
But something did go horribly wrong. I developed an auto-immune condition that attacked my hair. My beautiful, treasured hair, my locs that I have loved and been growing for almost 14 years. And while there are some treatments and cover ups and cosmetic things that I can do I have been in denial for many years about what was going on under all this hair and I can no longer pretend to myself that it’s not happening. So I am cutting my hair.
14 years is a long time to have an image of yourself and then to have to cut away. Especially when that image is not one you wish to give up. No. My hair isn’t all I am but it’s been a big part of who I am for a very long time. Through my weight and health issues and when I was so broke I couldn’t afford nice clothes. When I was feeling insecure or nervous, my hair was my armor. When I was feeling joyous and victorious it was my crown. When I was feeling flirty I winked from behind it. When I wanted to isolate myself it was my wall.
And soon it will be gone. I suppose as a Health Coach I should wax poetic about the beauty of new beginnings or write about how I found some positive in this situation. But I didn’t find one and I prefer not to lie to you or delude myself. I have other body parts like I have lots of shoes. That won’t make me any more comfortable in the ones that never fit in the first place. I’ll just have to learn to deal with the ones that don’t quite fit me.