Now there's a bold statement! I think the majority of us experience self-limiting beliefs at some point; I have them multiple times a day. Seriously! In fact, I have self-limiting beliefs about dozens of things - I can't cycle 53 miles because I too fat; I can't learn Polish because I'm rubbish at languages; I can't write a blog about (insert any subject here!) because I don't have anything interesting to say; I can't run a training session at work because the course material I write isn't good enough, I'll go to that festival when I've lost some weight........ The list is boringly long.
Why do we let self-limiting beliefs rule our heads? I recently told a friend that I wish I had a magic mirror that she could look into and see herself the way I see her. Instead of seeing somebody who is shy and boring, she would see a woman who is intelligent, funny, beautiful and loving. When our family and friends tell us how amazing we are, why don't we believe them? Maybe it's because we are brought up to believe that "blowing your own trumpet" simply isn't done - it's not nice, it's bragging and showing off. The problem is, if you tell yourself something often enough, you actually start to believe it! Here's an honesty bomb for you - sometimes I buy into my negative self-talk because it's easier and less confronting than actually doing the thing I'm avoiding! Or the thing I'm worried about failing at - or even (insert drum roll here!) the thing I'm scared of SUCCEEDING at!! Because if I succeed at something big, then I'll have no excuses for doing the smaller (but equally scary) things!
So, because I'm a curious soul, I have been wondering what would happen if I challenged my own self-limiting beliefs and stopped buying into them. This is a scary thought for me and entails me re-writing my script. The new script would go something like this: on November 2nd I'm going to cycle 53 miles and I'm going to rock it; I love English and I love writing so learning Polish is going to be fun; I going to write a blog piece about self-limiting beliefs because I have something insightful to say on the subject; the training sessions I run at work are relevant, informative and fun.
Whenever I tell my daughter Katrina that I can't do something she says to me "Mum, you took on Loch Ness, in a storm - and you won! You can do this" and she says it with such matter of fact conviction that it leaves no room for argument. So, I am currently training for a 53 mile cycle, learning Polish, adapting my life to accommodate Dupuytren's Disease (big shout out to the inventor of the left handed tower mouse!), writing another training session for work and writing this blog about self-limiting beliefs.
One by one, day by day I am slowly replacing my self-limiting beliefs and giving myself permission to live my life without any self-imposed limits. You never know, one day I may even let myself pursue that big, fat, impossible dream I have.........................
I'm sorry I have been quiet for a while folks. I've been getting my head around some health issues that I am experiencing and I haven't been in the right head space to blog about it. However I realised yesterday that this is actually the perfect follow on piece to my Body Image blog. So, getting straight to the point, I have a disease which is causing my fingers to contract and, if I'm really unlucky, my toes will follow suit. This has also led to my developing a condition known as Secondary Reynaud's Phenomenon which causes my fingers and toes to be extremely cold and turn blue, along with my lips. Now, aside from the limitations that this disease is placing on my physical ability to use my hands properly, it also means that while on holiday in the South of France recently, I was sat on the beach in the beautiful, hot sunshine with shoes and gloves on because my hands and feet were painfully cold! As I'm sure you can imagine, this drew some enquiring looks from my fellow beach-goers. I became very self-conscious about my hands, to the point that I became determined to not wear the gloves - which in turn meant my hands got worse and I spent the evenings wearing the gloves, socks, a cardigan and a shawl. Pretty silly eh?!
Upon my return from France I went out for dinner with a friend and, as I was getting ready to leave the house, I reached for my lacy gloves (thanks Meg!) to put over my compression gloves to keep my hands warm and protected. Then I hesitated as I imagined the comments "who have you come as - Madonna??" and I took the gloves off, deciding I would rather suffer than expose myself to being laughed at. Afterwards it dawned on me that I had become more worried about my body image than my comfort and health. Quite ironic considering my last blog had been about body image and I had stated how I loved the various parts of my body for what they had achieved! I was so pleased with that blog and received more messages and emails from people saying how much it had helped them, than I had for any other piece I have written.
So I am realising that loving your body is even harder when it is not functioning the way it should. I have felt quite overwhelmed with the physical changes and how I am having to adjust my lifestyle. I fear I will no longer be able to participate in cold water swimming as I found I could only tolerate the relatively warm waters on holiday for very short periods. Because of the riding position and the span of my right hand being dramatically reduced, I can no longer ride my beloved road bike, "Bolt". Admitting that to myself was a sad day and left me really struggling to feel positive about the future.
However, whilst on holiday it was decided that we should hire bikes and go cycling and, when we got to the hire shop, I was encouraged to take an e-bike and give that a go. After a few hundred yards I stopped and asked my other half to have a go and see what he thought. Initially he thought I had a problem with it, but once he tried it he realised how much fun it was! I wrestled it back from him and we cycled into Argeles Sur Mer along the sea front. After stopping for a couple of beers I suggested we go back to the hire shop and swap his bike for an e-bike like mine - he didn't take much persuading! We only used the hire car maybe 4 times during the whole 2 weeks holiday as travelling along the cycle lanes on the e-bikes was much more fun. Fast forward a few weeks back at home and, after admitting that I could no longer ride Bolt safely, I am now the proud owner of a Juicy Bikes E-bike called Simone!!!
Simone and I have already covered 65 miles in the 2 weeks we have been together and I can safely say we are in a committed relationship! She is very different to any bike I have previously owned as she is a Dutch style "sit up and see the world" and she has a basket on the front!!! Very ladylike!
So, despite this horrible disease, my cycling adventures continue, as will my swimming (albeit in warmer waters). I am still struggling with feeling self-conscious wearing gloves a lot of the time - although my lovely family have bought me every variety of lovely lacy over-glove on the market! I have learned that body image issues are not just related to size but also to health and that adaptability is a skill that I need to work on.
In the meantime I am practicing my assertiveness for when I see my GP in 2 weeks time and try to convince him to refer me for treatment that doesn't involve surgery. Wish me luck................
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the topic being talked about this year is body image. I have been researching this subject for a blog I write for work and, as coincidence would have it, this week I received a message from a "friend" saying that she is struggling to keep her weight under 62kg (around 9.5 stones for those of us who still use old money). This is making her "feel that her body is gross" and so, she says, she now understands how I feel about my body. I've been thinking about what she said and decided to write an open letter in response - here goes...............
"When I initially read your message I was hurt and angry. You seem to be under the impression that I think my body is "gross" because I am overweight? Girl, you've got me all wrong!! Like a lot of women, I have issues with body image and there are parts of my body that I struggle to love - but I certainly don't view my body as gross! This body is an amazing vessel that has done incredible things!
Take my belly for instance - it's big and it's flabby. But that's not all it is. Inside it has grown two beautiful children, who have grown into talented, kind women that are making the world a better place just by virtue of their existence. That soft, flabby belly makes a great pillow for my little grandson's head to rest on while he sleeps.
Then there's my arms - yes they are typical granny bingo wings! But those arms have allowed me to hold my two daughters, cuddle my grandson, hug countless family and friends and they are strong enough to propel my body for over a mile through water. I bloody love my flabby arms!
My thick legs aren't bad either. They have walked me through some amazing places and taken me into all sorts of fabulous adventures. They are strong enough to pedal my bike for miles and miles at a time and put the biggest smile on my face and lift my heart when I'm sad.
Let's not forget my head - with it's double chin and the beginnings of wrinkles and a saggy neck. This head has made up countless silly songs, rhymes and stories to amuse my girls, their friends and my little grandson over the years. It houses knowledge and has allowed me to be successful in business; it generates kindness and compassion to others and has even been known to come up with some pretty good writing along with a few crazy ideas!!
So no, I don't think my body is gross - whatever size it is - I think it's an awesome powerhouse and I am thankful for it's strength and reliability. As such I try to fuel it with nutritious food and exercise regularly so that it will continue to carry me through many future adventures. I will NOT apologise for who I am and I will no longer wait until I'm thin enough/confident enough/strong enough to do the things I want. I will do those things in the body I have, at the size it is TODAY, with the confidence I currently possess.
I hope that, on reading this, you will take time to reflect on your own body and all the incredible things it has done for you and, just maybe, you will start to love and appreciate your body and stop aspiring to an impossible "ideal body" that the media tells you you should have."
So, friends, I want to send you all the same message. Research tells me that 1 in 3 of you will have body image issues that stop you from living life to the full! Try this for me: wear the sleeveless dress; get your legs out in the sun; go on that activity holiday; climb that hill; go on those nights out that you keep avoiding; LOVE YOUR BODY!!
Look at these fabulous mermaid socks!! They were given to me recently during "Random Acts of Kindness Week" and they are soooo "me". I have been on the receiving end of several random acts of kindness recently and each one brightened my day and made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I think we can sometimes get so wrapped up in day to day living that we forget to celebrate those golden moments in our day. My Counsellor suggested that I make a note of these moments and so I have what I call my "happy folder" where I make a note of nice things that have happened and I put pictures and magazine clippings in the folder to inspire me and remind me, when I feel as though I am losing the battle, that there have been good times in my life and there will be more of them in my future. It's good to be reminded that our lives do have these golden moments in them.
Looking towards my more immediate future, having said several times that I wouldn't do it anymore; I did it again! Sorry folks but I have done it again! I have just signed up for a 53 mile bike ride in November of this year. I felt I needed something to train for to keep me focused on my healthy living lifestyle and propelling your own body weight on a bike for 53 miles is certainly a good incentive to stick to the healthy eating. Add to that the fact that this ride is with Cycling Down Dementia, a cause which is very close to my family, the pull was just too strong for me to walk away from this one. I promise Dondy, Katrina and Zach to try my very hardest NOT to be last over the finish line this time (they waited for hours in the heat, watched everybody else pack up and go home, but stayed and waited for me to finish the Humber Bridge Sportive). So I am back in training and am fervently hoping that the bad weather disappears soon so that I can get out on my bike more regularly. Bolt and I will be hitting the roads, puffing up the hills and screaming on the descents - give us a wave and some words of encouragement if you see us!!
Protein Pancakes with fruit compote - just some of the delicious, healthy food I have learned to cook on the 30 Days to Healthy Living Plan!
......and I made it!!! The last 7 days of the 30 Days to Healthy Living Plan was pretty much the same as all the other days to be honest - filled with great food and me being annoyingly chilled and happy.
Seriously though I cannot believe the switch in my mindset in just 30 days. I have always been an "emotional" eater; I eat when I'm sad to cheer myself up; I eat when I'm happy to celebrate; I eat when I have achieved something to reward myself; I eat when I'm angry.....anyway you get the picture. This last week has been a bit of an emotional one, saying goodbye to an amazing man, making life changes and decisions about the future BUT I have not turned to food to comfort myself. Rather I have been reading Jack Canfield (thank you Meghan and Greg!) and thinking rationally about my habits and default reactions to situations. Taking 100% responsibility for my decisions and reactions to the things that life brings me to deal with. I attribute this change in my mindset to the reduced "brain fog" which, I believe, is down to the reduced sugar and caffeine in my system.
This new lifestyle has also resulted in a drop in my blood sugar levels to well within the normal range, plus a 15 pounds reductions in weight! Today I am wearing a pair of jeans that I couldn't zip up at the start of the 30 days. On Saturday I went cycling and it was soooo much easier without that 15 pounds. I have also noticed a massive reduction in my general anxiety levels. I normally travel through life with a knot in the pit of my stomach and a head full of "what if's". That has disappeared for the most part and I can only attribute that to the healthy eating!
Above everything else though, is the fact that this lifestyle change is sustainable, healthy and enjoyable. So watch this space for further updates as I continue my healthy lifestyle. If you'd like to read more about the 30 Days to Healthy Living Plan take a look at the FaceBook group "Meg & Greg's Journey to Health & Wellness". Makes for some very interesting reading!
Whilst writing this I have been thinking about when my consultants talked to me about the Plan and I remember thinking "it sounds as though this needs a real commitment from me; but it's only 30 days and I'm pretty certain I can do it for that long". I rather like the idea of committing to do something wholeheartedly for 30 days and then deciding whether that "something" will be continued with going forward in my life. So for the next 30 days, I am committing to exercising 3 days a week. I have to confess that life has been rather hectic over the past 6 months and this has lead to me being very lazy with my exercise habits. Between home life and running a business I haven't had the energy left to exercise regularly. However, my new healthy eating habits have given me a fabulous energy boost so for the next 30 days I am making the commitment to exercise 3 times a week.
This is where you guys come in: I could do with some tips on:
Any suggestions would be really welcomed friends!!
.......and I am loving the 30 Days to Healthy Living Plan! I have never tried anything quite like this before and, as you all know, I am a cynical old bird - but I can't refute the evidence. I am sleeping better, I have no bloating, my skin is good, I have more energy and I feel positive.
One of the things that has surprised me, is that I am really enjoying the food and am not feeling at all hungry between meals. Now this is something of a miracle for me as I am always ready to eat; regardless of whether it is 5 minutes or 5 hours since my last meal! I I keep expecting the sugar and coffee cravings to kick in, but they just haven't appeared. I really believe that my mindset has somehow changed (maybe there is magic in the chickpea flour?). I had a bit of a mood wobble over the weekend which would normally see me diving for the biscuit tin but not this time. I went for a drive through the Peak District - which is absolutely beautiful at this time of the year - and that few hours on my own seemed to really do the trick. I came back feeling better and it dawned on me today that it didn't cross my mind to try and make myself feel better by using food. Now, I'm not naive enough to think that I won't ever self-medicate with Dr Cadbury's in the future, but for the time being I am out of the danger zone and feeling somewhat proud of myself.
I'm still enjoying cooking each day and relishing the challenge of having to slightly rethink recipes to make them healthier. Yesterday was cottage pie with cauliflower and carrot mash instead of potatoes. Absolutely delicious! Lunch today was homemade vegetable soup with green lentils and buckwheat. Tonight I will have cauliflower rice in a stir fry. It's impossible not to love this Plan!!!
My weight this week has dropped another 2 pounds - making a total of 12 pounds so far. Tantalisingly close to that elusive 1 stone mark!!! Fingers crossed for next week. As I head into my final week I am starting to think about what comes next at the end of the 30 Days to Healthy Living Plan and how I go forwards...........but in the meantime it's Shrove Tuesday tomorrow and I will be having protein pancakes with strawberry compote!
I am now thankfully free of my cold and I find myself longing to get out on my bike or back into the pool. Weather permitting, Bolt and myself will be out and about at the seaside next Sunday. This mermaid needs some Vitamin Sea!
....but I have been full of a cold and spent most of the weekend coughing and spluttering. Definitely not conducive to writing! Anyway I am almost better now so here are my thoughts on Week 2 of The 30 Days to Healthy Living Plan.
I have to say that I am feeling great (apart from the cold) and have much more energy than usual. In fact normally when I get a cold it takes me weeks to shake it off and I usually end up feeling rough for some time. Not the case this time; feeling better much more quickly. I had a bit of a craving mid week and really wanted something sweet (no sugar on this plan remember). I think the craving occurred for numerous reasons: habit, feeling under-par and loneliness. However I told myself that cravings are a transitory feeling and it would pass, and to help it along I had a mug of hot cashew milk with cinnamon. Worked a treat and no guilt attached! My skin is much more hydrated and the dry flaky patches have now completely gone so I no longer look like a snake shedding it's skin. I also lost another 3 pounds, so that makes 10 pounds in 2 weeks - very happy with that!
By far the best change so far though, is that my mood is much more positive and I feel as though I can look forwards to the future with excitement rather than trepidation for a change. As I write this I have just realised that I feel confident! I no longer spend hours berating myself and wondering what other people are thinking of me; do I look ok; is my dress too tight (ladies you know what I'm talking about!). Got to say folks, that this trumps all the other, many benefits of the plan!
So - here is what I have learned in week 2:
I'll be back next week with more "insightful" musings ...............
Well, I am a quarter of the way through the 30 Days to Healthy Living Plan and I have made it so far! Before I embarked on the Plan I was told that it wasn't an easy option and I have would have to forego dairy, wheat, gluten, soy, caffeine (eek) and alcohol(!) for the 30 days. I honestly thought that giving up caffeine and bread would be the hardest part for me; how could fruit teas and carrot sticks possible get me through a long, stressful day at work?
On the first day I had to remind myself several times that I no longer drink coffee, although the fruit teas were, admittedly, not bad and I was getting used to them. We planned our meals for the week and made sure we bought everything we would need at the beginning of the week and I admit it did make me feel very organised and disciplined! On the second day I had a headache most of the day and felt very tired, but was assured that this is normal as the caffeine levels drop.
I must admit that I did wonder what we would be eating, as the list of "no-no's" seemed to pretty much exclude everything I normally eat! The food, however, has been fantastic; and that week we had Thai green curry, chili, ratatouille and soup. All home made and made from scratch. Very tasty!
As the week progressed I felt less bloated and noticed I am sleeping better. I haven't missed the caffeine or bread at all, but I must confess that on Saturday night I would have loved a glass of wine to go with our chili, sweet potato wedges, bean salad and guacamole.
Lessons Learned On The Plan So Far:
Next week I will be flying solo as my "Plan-mates" are jetting off on their new contract and leaving me to fend for myself. Hopefully I can keep the motivation going!
..............and that could be my epitaph!! During the latter part of 2018 I lost some more weight........and then found it again. I made some major life changes...........and then realised that they were not right for me. All of this has left me feeling somewhat bruised and battered emotionally and questioning my judgement. I think the technical term is f**kwittery.
However, I am surrounded by family and friends who refuse to leave me alone with my self-doubt and self-criticism and who insist that I can move forward. So the shiny new plan for 2019 looks something like this.............
As always, Fat Girl thanks you for reading and welcomes your comments and critiques!