Sunday, April 20, 2014

Self-Love: The Act of Giving is a Complete Act, No Matter How it is Received

 “Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression. We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous. We experience joy in the actual act of giving something. And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given.”
― Gautama Buddha

This is a post about self-love, which was very important for me to develop in order to reach my current weight and fitness level.

I think that most of us place too much doubt and blame on ourselves when we try our very best to give to others, but the reaction to our brave attempt of giving is surprisingly dismal. 

In my office work, I write each document as persuasively as I can. I spend the time to make excellent arguments and put every ounce of myself into it. Then I send it out to be judged.

When I send my document out, I must mentally let it go. I've done all I can in my writing that is in my control to do, but how it is received is not up to me. So I must be okay with doing my best regarding my part of the process. No matter the result, my action of writing is fully complete in and of itself. This type of thinking, regardless of whether my ideas are received well or poorly, has helped me a great deal.

I cannot force anyone to accept my ideas. The receiving aspect is not up to me, and I have no control over it. But the giving aspect, that is all me, so I try to be very proud of what ideas and arguments I give to others with my very best intent behind them. The giving aspect of my ideas is a complete act in and of itself. The result is another complete act in and of itself that is not about me.

In our daily lives, when we give to others, our act of giving is a complete act in and of itself. We should not blame ourselves if it is not received how we intended, because how it is received is not up to us. Our act of giving is a complete act. Each act of giving is filled with all of our good wishes for that person, which can never be wrong. Never! When doing a good act, we should view it as as a complete act, no matter how it is received. We can learn to be happy in the act itself, versus the result we may or may not get. 

If the person on the receiving end acts like our giving act is nothing or not much, despite our best effort to give, that is about them, not us. We may be misunderstanding them, or there are various reasons why people act as they do. However, we should not take the blame or shame for their reactions.

It is our intent behind our act that matters most. And you know this--by having a certain friend who constantly says the wrong thing, but she has a heart of gold. And we also know that by fakey friends who always say the right things, but somehow make us feel bad about ourselves.

Part of self-love is to take responsibility for our own actions, but also to not take blame for others' actions. We are doomed to feelings of failure if we are only results-orientated, because we are not in control of many aspects of the results. I see too many people beat themselves up for results that are out of their control. And that is sad to me, which is why I write this post.

I want none of you, my friends, to be disappointed in yourself for things out of your control, because that is unfair to you and it makes you needlessly disappointed in yourself. Further, it is destructive to your spirit of giving, which you need to keep healthy to have joy in your life.

To practice self-love: What we can do is our own best, with good intent attached to that. And for those very reasons of doing our best and having good intent, we can love our own selves for that in a very happy way regardless of results.

What do *you* think? This line of thought has helped me feel better over many difficult situations. And I hope it helps you too.

Have a Wonderful Day!

:-) Marion

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Your Reasons For Your Choices Affect Your Health

 I have been reading social psychologist Erich Fromm's writing lately. He writes about having the courage and freedom to be ourselves:

“If other people do not understand our behavior—so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us. If this is being "asocial" or "irrational" in their eyes, so be it. Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves. We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them. How many lives have been ruined by this need to "explain," which usually implies that the explanation be "understood," i.e. approved. Let your deeds be judged, and from your deeds, your real intentions, but know that a free person owes an explanation only to himself—to his reason and his conscience—and to the few who may have a justified claim for explanation.” 

 ~ Erich Fromm, The Art of Being

The way we make our choices has a *LOT* to do with our health. We often make all of our choices based upon approval of others and consensus. While that is okay for small things, for important choices, everyone's input can end up forceful and coercive, such that we don't like the taste of our decision by the time we make it. When we make our own mind up, with nobody's approval, it will often be the very same decision that others would want us to make, but making our own choice feels more happy and free.

When the perspective for approaching my life got healthier, my weight correspondingly got better. Some people may be disappointed that I have been doing blog posts about enjoying music or making decisions from your own heart on a fitness blog! But I'm telling you that keeping 75 pounds off of my body is not due to willpower. It is due to a lifestyle change focused on self-love and self-respect.  

Self-love calls me to choose beautiful music (last blog post) over fattening dessert. Self-love and self-respect call me to ask myself what my own heart wants, versus always going to the family with, "What does everyone think?" On important decisions, sometimes my heart's decision must win over the family consensus. I have made a decision this year based upon my heart's decision without approval or consensus, and it felt like a beautiful thing in my life. It was good for my soul.

Each of us is an individual, not just a part of the family collective.  I am realizing that what I want to do and be in my life--as an individual--matters! Sometimes, I may not get complete approval or consensus, and I need to feel strongly enough about my decisions to be okay with that. And, when making that independent decision this year, it turned out that I felt *wonderful* about myself for it.

What do *you* think? Have you made any important decisions without seeking approval? Can you see how reasoning behind a decision can make a person happy, based upon wanting the decision, or unhappy, based upon people dicatating the decision?  And of course, add your opinion and experiences. I'm interested to find out what you have to say about this topic. 

Have the Courage to Be Yourself today! 

:-) Marion

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Days of Our Gym: Gym Friends and Listening to Dr. Knee

In this episode of Days of Our Gym, I really didn't expect to have such a great workout. My knee is still bothering me, and it was actually very sore and swollen yesterday, despite resting it. So what happiness could actually happen at the gym? It turns out -- a *LOT* of happiness!

I did not go to gym on Saturday, because even gentle yoga last week aggravated my knee. So no yoga at all this week. My gym buddies told me to take this knee healing very seriously. It is better to skip a lot of gym for long time than to have a permanently bum knee. And I take that advice to heart because these people are my friends, and they care about me!

So on Sunday, I did go to the gym, knowing that I was doing *nothing* involving my legs or bum knee. And I expected that to be sort of glum, but it wasn't. I had time in between upper body weightlifting sets, because I could not do my usual lap walking or leg exercises, so I had time to enjoy my friends!

The first thing that happened was that a gym buddy was using the cage I wanted to use for chin-ups. And I asked him if I could work a few sets of chin-ups in. And he was so happy to do that! There is something so wonderful about cooperation among people who weight lift. It is so happy to remember that friends *do* want to do little favors for you. They really do! And when you ask for a favor, you get active friendship from them. Nice! :-)

My friend who is the exercise physiologist told me to keep icing my knee at least 2 times per day and keep taking ibuprofen. Sound advice, and I could also look past the instruction and see the caring. None of us like each other in pain or injury.

And nothing like limping around, to notice all other people who are limping around. We mutually felt cheerful sympathy for each other.

I must have said "hi" to at least 20 gym buddies today, as I passed them by at gym. It's really nice to feel so much community. When I'm really focused on my workout, I sometimes forget to appreciate all of the good vibes around me!

There was a metal weightlifting pin that was broke in half on the gym window sill. I took half and joked, "Who's handiwork is this???" A gym buddy answered with a funny smile, "Oh, that would be me." Apparently, the metal had just snapped.  Some other gym buddies periodically stopped to joke around with me, with us all feeling okay with ourselves. It's not really what gets said, as much as the fun attitude surrounding it.

So I did get a good upper body workout in, while just enjoying people quite a lot. I accomplished enjoying the moment, as it unfolded in ways better than I could expect. The only way for that to happen is to let go of resentment of my bum knee issues and seek out the good of the situation, which I did.

What do *you* think? How important is having gym buddies to you? How do you keep your spirit up when you have to sit gym out for an injury? And, of course, anything else you'd like to say.

Have a Super Day!!!

:-) Marion

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Putting Life As Higher A Higher Priority Than Food: Delightful Music

One of the things I had to do to get to this lower weight: 

I had to face that I had put food in much too high of priority in my life. When I was upset, I did not look to my special people for comfort. Further, I was not in the habit of coaxing myself back into a great mood without food.

Back in 2012, when I first started allowing myself to get very hungry between meals, I definitely felt different. When something bothered me, I definitely felt more nervy without using food as a drug to sedate myself. So what did I do? I experimented with several ways to get myself out of the funk--without food.

One thing I've done is to immediately start organizing something around me when I feel overwhelmed. Organizing provides much needed structure to an overwhelmed person.

Another thing is to simply tell someone. Sometimes, just having someone sound understanding is enough to ease the stress.

But even further, I started looking for "treats" that were not food. And I've found so many musical treats! I've found a treasure trove of what my friends call, "happy music." Basically, the songs are what happiness sounds like! Music is one of the ways I calm down and get very happy feeling.

So today, I'm sharing my treasure trove of music with *YOU*!!!
Lucky, lucky, lucky you!!!

My favorite conductor is Bert Kaempfert. His orchestra's music was so gorgeous!!! And it is so cool that he named his own daughter--


How befitting that his music is so awesome to me!!!

So if you like the very catchy music, try this: 

Or this:

And if that sounds wonderful to you, go to my: Instrumental Music board on Pinterest, for many more great songs to explore. The ones with the asterisk in front of the title are some of my favorites.

If you like unpologetically happy songs, try this: 
(Do not be fooled by the names, they are much better than the originals! You'll be surprised!)

Or this:

And if that is fantastic to you, go to my: Easy Listening board on Pinterest for many similar terrific songs. The ones with the asterisk in front of the title are some of my favorites.

I love this music so much!!! And I've shared many of these songs with friends who loved this music too. So do peruse my music if you are looking for some musical happiness in your life.

What music is a "treat" for you???

What do *you* think? Do any of you like the music above? If so, which songs? If that didn't catch your fancy, what favorite song lifts your spirit? 

Have an Upbeat Day!

:-) Marion

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Have You Been Thinking Beautiful Thoughts About Yourself???

As I come off this blogging break, which I really needed, I'm refocused about what messages I want to say on my blog. And my big message to you today is--Have you been thinking beautiful thoughts about yourself???

As you know, I truly believe that to lose weight and get fit, certain actions have to happen: 1) Eat the right calorie amount of food; 2) Eat the right types of food; and 3) Exercise. Last year, I wrote abundantly about these things.

And, last year, I often discussed my own tools for keeping a good weight: 1) food journaling; 2) drinking enough water; 3) exercising regularly; 4) keeping in the right calorie range--all the time; and 5) going to a weekly TOPS meeting and weigh-in.

So I'm not discounting any of those things, because they all must happen for me to succeed.

However, I am very sure that I could not succeed in the long-term--no matter how hard I tried--without a very positive mindset. As I explained in my last post, when I changed my belief about myself, I permanently changed how I lived! Wanting to feel powerful helped me get in better shape! And it's continued to do that since 2007! A changed mindset will powerfully change you!

So I ask you today: Have you been thinking beautiful thoughts about *you*???

Now, I really don't want to hear your mumbling about various reasons why you don't think you're beautiful. I'm asking you to seek to find the ways that you *are* beautiful! And I promise you, that if you seek, you shall find.

You know, I really have never met a person who had no beautiful thing about them. Even people I disliked had something, whether I wanted to admit that or not. But that is the truth--everyone has something beautiful about them.

If you haven't been thinking of yourself as beautiful in any way lately, then your mindset is skewed! And I suggest that you straighten yourself out about that!

There was a middle age weightlifting guy I knew whose wife died. And when he was in mourning, he told me, "Marion, she had the most beautiful hands." And he wanted to tell me this. And it was endearing to both him and the wife he loved. I will never forget that.

Do you have the most beautiful hands? Do you have grace in your pinky as you hold your coffee cup? Do you have soulful eyes? A beautiful smile? Thoughtful expressions in your face that share your love for others? A lovely undertone in your voice that lets others know that you care about them?

There are so many ways to see yourself as beautiful. And dear friends, I hope that you will actively try to start thinking of yourself as beautiful--every single day. Do make this a project for yourself. It is a project of self-love. And I know that the more deeply you think of yourself as beautiful, the more healthy that you will become. Because thinking beautiful thoughts about yourself is deeply healthy.

What do *you* think? As always, I love to read your comments and I do think about them. We have such meaningful discussions on my blog.

And yes, I'm back to full blogging again. My middle daughter says that I "must" continue to spread my message on this blog because she believes so deeply about what I say here. Ah, dear daughter, thank you!

Have a Terrific Day!

:-) Marion

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

To Change Your Weight -- Change How You View Yourself (My Own Journey of Positively Changing My Mindset)

This is the 20 minute TOPS presentation I gave last night, going through my journey of how I've changed my mindset about myself for health and fitness. I spent a lot of time reflecting as I wrote this, and hope you find it useful. It got some TOPS friends more invigorated about their eating and fitness mindset. Longer than my usual post, here it is:

To Change Your Weight-- Change How You View Yourself

If you want to permanently change your weight, change how your view yourself. Your change has to be deep enough to change the core of who you are. And if that core change is a healthier one, you will see your weight begin to drop.

I’m going to take you through the milestones of changing my view of my own self, from my heaviest weight back in 2005 to now in 2014, losing 75 pounds during that time period.

A life-altering crisis often causes a major weight gain. Back in 2005, I first recognized the importance of detecting the exact time period in life that I gained my weight.  If a person gained a great deal of weight in a certain time period of life, the life-altering reason usually comes directly before and/or during the weight gain. It is usually something very traumatic—a severe life circumstance.

We who lived through traumatic life circumstances too often view them as “normal” in our lives. We feel we have handled it, by moving on with our lives, but our bodies know better. I could act like everything was okay, but my weight physically manifested my heavy burden. Tragic life circumstances happening to people, especially in childhood, is not normal at all.

I had to recognize that my life dramatically needed to change, to not allow these traumatic life circumstances to burden my life anymore. I went to counseling and spent time working through my serious life issues. I learned to take blame and shame off my own shoulders, realizing that the bad things that had happened—were not my fault! I learned how to make personal rules and boundaries so that specific people no longer had the power to traumatize me. When I did this, I initially gained some weight, due to the stress of facing up to the darkest feelings and events of my life and contemplating how to resolve them. But then, I started losing weight.  

During this time, a good friend told me that my fast walking speed “didn’t match” with my heavy weight. She urged me to contemplate this incongruency. Yes, my internal self definitely did *not* match my outer self. I was far more of a go-getter than my heavy body suggested to others!

In December 2006, my two teenage daughters spent $150, which was all the money they had, on a Christmas present for me! They bought me an iPod Nano for Christmas. I was moved to tears because I had never received such a wonderful present before, and it was so incredibly generous of my daughters to want this for me, more than they wanted things for themselves.

My husband and two older daughters told me that they were going to take care of getting the two younger kids ready for school so that I could go to gym in the morning! So, for the first time in many years of parenting, I had time to myself to put myself as a number one priority.

On January 1, 2007, I started exercising at the gym. The first issue at gym was being overly ashamed about looking fat around others. At some point, I had to realize that I was a *person*-- not a hunk of chubbiness with a head on top. And it was crucial to my growth that people at the gym treated me as a person with feelings, hopes, and dreams, which in turn, helped me view myself more humanely. I began with walking on the treadmill, and I would eventually walk over 600 miles, as I listened to songs on my new iPod Nano.  I was, indeed, “Stayin Alive” with the Bee Gees.

When I started to lose weight in 2007, at first it was great! But then, after losing about 30 pounds, I started feeling very wrong about myself.  Specifically, I started to feel “smaller.”  I hadn’t realized that-- my big size felt protective to me.  It was like a moat to protect my inner castle filled with everything that meant something to me. Losing the weight felt vulnerable. So I had to figure out a way to feel “big” and protected even though I was losing weight.

The answer to feeling “big” while losing weight was heavy weightlifting!

In early 2008, A gym buddy noticed that I tried so hard on weight machines. He told me that he would teach me how to weightlift with free weights. However, I had to learn to take his advice and follow it, even if he told me I was doing it all wrong. At first, I did not take him up on his offer, telling him I was “scared.” Petrified. I could not force myself to step into the free weights area. There were intimidating guys over there! But one day, my friend just grabbed my hand and pulled me over to the free weights area, saying “Today is the day that you are going to learn to bench press, Marion.” And then five minutes later, I did my first bench press! It was exhilarating—not like I had imagined at all.

I quickly discovered that I had no intuition about my body! Now, I had to learn to pay attention to my body so that I could learn how to hold it properly for exercise. Not only did I duke out many life battles under the barbell week after week for years, but I learned that physical strength greatly bolstered my internal strength. Heavy weightlifting helped me get down to a body size I liked, while staying “big” in a way that mentally protected myself. On many levels, I felt powerful! My own version of Wonder Woman! If none of the rest of my self-image journey existed—I could have been happy with this image of myself from heavy weightlifting.

But more changes were in store for me.

In December of 2008, I fell on black ice one morning before gym, saving my head by bracing with my arm on the way down. I had hurt my arm, so I ended up gently doing elliptical beside a gym buddy who used that time to give a 30 minute infomercial on why I should do yoga. Yoga did not appeal to me at all! I was busy being “big” and “powerful” at the gym! I was the strongest woman weightlifter in my gym! What I termed as a “girl monster!” But another friend also commented that some of the exercises I was doing were nearly yoga already! Then my oldest daughter asked me to do yoga as her buddy. I agreed reluctantly, mostly to please my daughter, as I could not envision myself as a yoga person.

What I quickly learned—yoga is exercise! Even more so, it is exercise with proper form, so much like weightlifting’s proper form. All of the weightlifting form and strategy translated to yoga! Here, I was worried that I could not be a yoga person, when the transition to yoga ended up so intuitive for me!

When I started yoga in 2009, and through the first half year, I was clumsy at it. People often view clumsy as a human trait, when it is actually a lack of fitness of balancing muscles. My balancing muscles were out of shape. When my balancing muscles got stronger, I quit being clumsy!

During 2009, there were two snarky weightlifting guys who laughed at my yoga attempts every chance they got. “Graceful!!!!” one would shout at me as I fell over. Their aggression stemmed from—I was now the strongest weightlifter woman--one woman standing out among all the weightlifting guys. People paid me so many compliments about my weightlifting that I always felt watched. I felt relieved to get to the quietest hallway of the gym to be “nobody” at yoga—by myself with my thoughts. But this bullying hurt—sometimes I cried a few tears in the locker room.

Until I quit caring. One day, I quit caring about those two guys’ stupid taunts, and really focused on myself. I balanced into crow pose. Then I decided to learn headstands. So for about five weeks, I fell over with headstand attempts on Wednesdays, with 2 guys watching it all, chuckling. And then one day, I learned headstands!!! “Did I really do a headstand?” I asked two young college guys nearby. Yes! And they were happy for me! Many people were happy for me; I had gained a lot of supporters. Then I did many variations of headstands during that year. Then splits, and many other yoga poses came so easily after that.     

By the end of 2009, gym buddies, mostly guys, started telling me that my yoga was “pretty.” Pretty! Wow, those comments weren’t what I expected! Could my exercise be pretty?! This compliment took me several months to grow into, but these types of comments kept coming from different people. The consensus made me believe it was true! People’s reactions to me changed how I viewed myself. That new view of myself as doing pretty yoga helped me lose more weight.

In 2010 and 2011, I kept up with both weightlifting and yoga. During this time, I had a huge traumatic event shake up my world.  I gained some weight back, but the weightlifting and yoga gave me structure and a new view of myself that helped me never go back to ground zero. I was not the same as back in 2006, so my body did not react the same as 2006.

At the end of 2011, I went to visit my second daughter in Pittsburgh. When I was there, I realized how much more food I ate than my slim daughter did. I realized—I eat way too much!!! And far too often!!! When a person is overweight, that would seem obvious, but this realization really has to conk you over the head to become real.  

In 2012, my second daughter asked me, “Would you do better with your weight if you went to a weekly meeting, or by yourself?” That was an easy to answer. “With a weekly meeting!” I answered. So I joined TOPS in March 2012. What I initially learned about myself at TOPS--I was still very undisciplined for eating.  Again, I viewed that as a character trait that I would have to live with. Like balancing being about tightening up certain muscles, balancing my food was about tightening up my mindset. A very patient TOPS member spent time teaching me to food journal. She answered all sorts of questions I had and let me peruse her food journal to ponder it. The TOPS leader told me that “It’s no big deal, Marion” when I bobbled up and down with my weight. I learned to get more mature about how I ate. I started food journaling, and I’m now on Day 545 in a row of taking a few minutes to write down what I eat! Food journaling has been an amazing tool for me.

Lastly, this year 2014, I read an exercise book with beginning dance exercises in it. A main point of this book was: Ballerinas remember that they are graceful dancers where ever they go—even at the grocery store. So this year, I decided to regard myself as a beautiful person every day, all day long. To eat like a beautiful person. To act like a beautiful person. This helped me get better at food choices, because beautiful people eat an apple, rather than ice cream. And it also helped me refine my exercise at the gym, to where people started calling my yoga and balancing poses “beautiful.”

Better thoughts about ourselves can physically change us. If you really believe you are “worthy” of a healthy weight, that will end the internal conflict that held you back.  Do you truly want to experience your physical power? That will immediately change your exercise habits. Do you really want to be beautiful? That mindset will lead you to choose fruit over desserts. Try it! Changing your mindset is so much easier than constantly resenting healthy choices, and the effects of changed lifestyle are long-lasting. You’re worth it!  


Hi to Everyone! Yes, you are all on my mind! Yes, I'd love to hear your comments on this! Last night, different aspects of this speech were interesting to different people. So I do wonder what's interesting to *you.* It's pretty interesting how we are all at a little different place in our journey. :-)

Have a Wonderful Day! 

:-) Marion 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Size 6 Jeans; Lowest Weight; Bum Knee; Etc...

So I still feel like not blogging, but I wanted to give you an update.

1) I still have a bum knee, since the beginning of the month. I will rest it until next Saturday before I attempt yoga. I know that some of you think that yoga is gentle for a bad knee, but I think I'd rather be patient and not make my knee condition aggravated. I'm getting super bored with favoring my knee, as I'm usually a rambunctious person all day long. Oh, the gym mornings and shopping excursions I've missed!!!

2) I currently have a sour stomach too. I think I got in this tummy trouble by drinking diet soda on an empty stomach. Probably oranges and tangerines on an empty stomach too. I'm sure many of you would say--you should have known better! So true. However, I used to never have the problem of too empty of a stomach--when I ate all of the time! Now I'm trying to eat in a way to get the tummy back in good condition. I believe I've avoided a bout of acid reflux, at the very least.

3) I purchased a pair of size 6 curvy fit jeans this morning! And they are *not* tight on me at all. I did buy the curvy fit, which has a little more thigh room. How did I get down to this size? Size 6 was mostly created by eating like a person who wears size 6 and enhanced by being in good physical shape.

4) I am at my lowest weight since...possibly 1991??  Yeah, I'm about 75 pounds less than my worst weight in 2005 or 2006. This is due to me consistently using all of my weight management tools (calorie counting, food journaling, going to a weekly weight loss meeting, exercising regularly, etc...) for about a year and a half, and remembering to "eat like a beautiful person." As a beautiful person, I have not eaten chocolate chips for several weeks now! And that step alone is probably why I lost pounds recently.

5) I did 9 parallel chin ups in a row last Sunday at the gym!!! That is due to continued practice and a new lower body weight--less weight for me to hoist up and down while remaining as strong as I was before.

6) I have been going to TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) meetings for 2 years now! My 2 year anniversary is this week. What a huge difference that made for keeping my weight much lower and consistent! Boy, do I love knowing that my clothes in the closet actually will fit when I pull them out to get dressed up.

7) I'm on day 535 in a row for food journaling.

8) I'm still playing guitar and singing every day.

That's about it. If you have any comments that involve details, I'm going to answer only those. Sort of quasi-blogging here. Hahaha.

Have a great week, hopefully with warm sunny weather involved!

:-) Marion