Archive for the ‘Mood’ Category
One only has to tune in to see the exhausted look on virtually every TV weatherperson’s face to know that Mother Nature has many of us on a weather-related rollercoaster ride. This is just as true here in Southern California. While we are always in need of rain, the precipitation has been fast and furious this year—often arriving in torrential downpours that have lasted hours or even days at a time. Because this region is normally so dry and also due to recent fires, these storms have caused quite a bit of havoc.
One recent, very rainy Saturday, I was doing my best to not let the heavy downpours impede my normal routine. I know that may read as silly to those of you swamped by snow, but trust me when I assure you the streets were flooding and you could even spot mini tidal waves crossing the roads whenever heavier vehicles passed by.
It was while stopped at a traffic light that I noticed what seemed like a calamity unfolding across the intersection. A mother and her young daughter, both outfitted with umbrellas, were trying to safely cross the street. While there were no nearby vehicles inhibiting their journey, the rain was excessive. So exaggerated in fact, that accompanying wind caused the little girl’s umbrella to invert and immediately begin filling with rainwater (since it was now a virtual bowl aimed toward the storm clouds).
I watched with concern from my car as the little girl called out for her mom, who immediately turned around and tried to help the little girl navigate the mini swimming pool that the girl’s umbrella had become. Mom and daughter were trying to dump the water from the inverted umbrella without splashing it all over themselves. Then, suddenly, another gust of ferocious wind swept the mother’s umbrella from her hands, onto a nearby grassy embankment.
Concerned for them both, my Superman instinct took over and I immediately looked for a way to park and get across the street to help them (even though my traffic light was still red). I then looked back to the mother and daughter—finally realizing that they were both laughing with delight in the midst of their soggy adventure.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. But sure enough, they were both positively giddy as they (eventually) gave up on un-inverting the daughter’s umbrella, then scurried to the side of the street they’d originally been on to retrieve the mom’s umbrella. At this point, the traffic light changed to green—meaning that mom and daughter would have to wait for another cycle before they could attempt to cross the street again.
As my car passed by them, I was able to see not only their laughter and smiles up close, but also their palpable bond. While keeping a careful eye on the road (AKA mini lake at this point), I offered a quick smile and wave from the conveniently dry interior of my vehicle. The little girl looked at me with glee and waved back. And this was when I offered them both a silent “Thank you” for reminding me that nothing in life has the power to ruin our day—unless we let it.
This mom and daughter would have had every reason to get angry or to throw a temper-tantrum as the rain changed the course of their morning. In fact, I was initially a little nervous the mom might get angry with the little girl for lollygagging behind and accidentally getting her umbrella inverted. But no. Instead, the mom chose to smile despite the odds—surely reemphasizing lessons she must have previously taught her daughter about adversity. Because this little girl was clearly on board with the age-old edict to “Let a smile be your umbrella.”
There will be those who read this that roll their eyes. But I never want to be one of them. I really do consider the mother and daughter’s cheerful attitude to be a gift. A gift that has the potential to remind us all that no matter what we’re going through, there is a joy to be had—if we allow it. It’s all about getting out of our own way and accepting whatever so-called roadblock (or inclement weather) might be thwarting our intentions.
There will always be surprises in life after all. And Mother Nature will often have the upper hand. So trust me when I acknowledge that this reminder to find joy doesn’t mean we won’t be challenged by hardships. But we have the potential to make better, smarter and more informed decisions if we do so from a place of resolve and—if we so choose—a place of amusement.
No inverted umbrella required.
Photo Credit: Flickr
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And goals aren’t always reached overnight. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be in love with who you are in this very moment. Only then can real and permanent change begin to take place. Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed or as if you haven’t done as much for your health-related goals as you’d intended to by now, commit to doing one kind and healthy thing for yourself today. Does that mean taking stairs instead of the elevator? Skipping dessert after a work lunch? Watching a little less TV tonight and getting a little more sleep? Whatever it is, choose one thing and accomplish it. That’s you. Reaching goals like a boss. (I believe in you.)
Does eating a healthier food choice like green beans to excess still equate to overeating? Short answer? Yes. And trust me—as someone who once weighed over 450 pounds (and who took off over 250 pounds of excess weight and has kept it off for almost two decades), I should know.
This might seem like a question that didn’t need to be asked in the first place. But I recently saw a segment on a national morning show, during which they spoke to a celebrity who had just “joined” a national weight loss company. No need to mention any names. But said celebrity (AKA endorser) was going on and on about how edamame was a “free food” on the program and thus she could eat as much edamame as she wanted while still on the diet.
In my opinion, this is a potentially harmful theory when it comes to making healthier eating and lifestyle choices—and one of the reasons that so-called “diets” sometimes do not serve us as well as some of these for-profit weight loss companies would lead us to believe they do.
I know what it’s like to binge eat. I used to do it because I was depressed. I used to do it because I was happy. I used to do it simply because I liked a certain food and hadn’t yet comprehended the concept that I could have the food in a healthy portion and then have it again sometime in the future. This was mainly because I’d been taught the “on/off” diet mentality from a very early age. Favorite foods became forbidden fruit (so to speak) and I would eat them in huge amounts, thinking I would/could never have them again when on a healthier eating program.
After years of starting and then cheating on diets, I eventually realized that the issue of my constantly gaining more and more weight had nothing to do with my stomach (a place so many focus on when fighting the battle of the bulge) but, instead, had everything to do with my head (meaning my thinking). After coming to this conclusion, I set out to learn about why I was using food as an emotional crutch. At the same time, I was becoming aware that whenever I started a diet, I would focus on what I was giving up, instead of focusing on what I was gaining (no pun intended).
But even after successfully taking off the excess weight (without giving up certain food groups, without fad dieting, without pills and without surgery), I realized I was still bingeing at times. Sure, I was eating steamed green beans to excess rather than cartons (yes, plural) of ice cream. But I was still binge eating to the point of discomfort.
I soon realized that although the foods had changed, the behavior had not. There is a healthy portion of green beans to eat just as there is a healthy portion of ice cream to eat. And exceeding these portions only works to reinforce old habits that don’t necessarily serve us.
Eating to excess, no matter what the food choices, is still eating to excess. We’re left feeling uncomfortable, bloated and perhaps even feeling some shame about actions.
I have not kept the 250 pounds of excess weight off by eating unconsciously. I think about what I’m eating daily. I still use measuring cups and measuring spoons. Why? Because feeling good is worth any “hassle” that meal prep (and proper portion control) requires. Does this mean I never overeat? Of course, not. I’m human. I still enjoy dining out and will sometimes clear my plate in a restaurant (although sometimes I choose not to).
No matter if it’s food prepared at a restaurant or in a private kitchen, there is no such thing as a “free food.” Overeating is overeating. And binge behavior is still binge behavior. And these are actions that anyone wanting to lose excess weight and/or make healthier eating choices might want to examine. (And for the record, edamame can often be salty, which brings up an entirely different reason as to why it—or anything else—is not a “free food.”)
How’s your new year going so far? For many of us, the rush of post-holiday chores (and challenges) might have you a little flustered. We often think that come January 1st, some sort of imaginary light switch can be flicked in order to initiate change in all aspects of our lives — whether that’s related to diet, exercise, mindfulness or other habits that affect us on a daily basis. Sadly, that light switch doesn’t exist. But that can be turned into good news when we remember we have every minute of every day to get it right. “Step by step” as it were. So be gentle with yourself. But don’t give up on your goals. You are worth it. And you are amazing!