Mindset and Balance: my 2019 words of the year

Over Christmas dinner, my extended family were talking about this commercial or that one and I looked at my husband and realized… hmmm.  Haven’t seen ANY of those! I’m somewhat thrilled that the times now that I watch TV, it’s usually recorded or on a streaming service.  I rarely see commercials.

But I can guarantee that all the weight loss companies are full on advertising right now.  You know the ones – a bikini-clad young woman, a group of runners in sexy shorts and sports tops, a celebrity that is in top shape telling you that they ate all the meals and they were “DEE-LICIOUS” and lost all the weight in hardly any time at all.  And I can also guarantee is that those companies are “promising” and “guaranteeing”.  Here’s a tip.  If you hear those two words, you should probably run the other direction.  And if companies are “promising or guaranteeing” that the results are out of the ordinary or too good to be true, please please please do not let that little button of insecurity and desperation allow you to undo years of science and logic and experience.  You see, that’s what they do.  There are marketing teams all throughout those boardrooms (or closets or living rooms or whatevers) that use our insecurities against us and to sell sell sell.  “Here, take this pill, use this cream, buy these meals and lose 17 pounds in a week!”  You’re smarter than that.  And no matter HOW you feel, the one thing I know is that you’re truly not desperate.  And if you, in fact, DID lose that much in a week, you’ll probably be sick and most likely not keep that weight off.

Logic rarely sells weight loss products.  Emotions sell weight loss products.

Although I judge these products often, I do not judge all of the people who use them.  Our buttons were pushed.  We believed that THIS is just the START we need and “once I get a good weight loss, then I’ll do something more sensible.”  Who hasn’t said that?  I know I have.  “I just need to do something really strict and fast FIRST and then I’ll do <insert whatever sensible plan here> afterwards.”

Why do we need to do anything before we do sensible? Why are we not so completely respectful of our bodies that the only thing we’d even consider doing is sensible?  I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I know we aren’t there – YET.  We’re not sensible.  We’ve been trained by our society to be divisive on everything including cats or dogs, politics, religion and definitely weight loss.

Who among you do NOT know that moderation in food and activity helps us lose and maintain weight?  We all know this and just don’t want to do the work because, you know, it is work (a 4-letter word).  No one I know wants to lose weight.  No one.  We want to lose weight AND keep that weight off so we don’t have to do it again.  I’ve never had a member asking me to help them lose weight now so they can put it back on in December.  We want it magically to happen, but we know that it won’t.  So, we spend our hard-earned money on magic and it works in the beginning and then it doesn’t work and then a horrible thing happens…. we blame ourselves and not the plan we chose, that we failed.  “If I just stuck with it, I would have succeeded.  It’s me.  I can’t stick with anything.  I’m a failure!”  That’s insecurity.   You are not a failure for not sticking out a plan that is not sustainable.  Let me repeat that.

YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE FOR NOT STICKING OUT A PLAN THAT IS NOT SUSTAINABLE!

The difference between a diet and a life is what we think when we mess up.  It’s that simple.

For years I thought the magic word was “sustainability.”  But there is no magic word.  And if there is, it would be MINDSET.

Mindset is what helps us choose to do hard things. Mindset gives us determination.  (Please, folks, do not rely on motivation as it’s a completely fickle emotion.) Mindset is what helps us acknowledge what we have.  Mindset focuses success in different ways OTHER than the number on the scale. Mindset allows gratitude and forgiveness of choices and playfulness and accountability and the desire to work for our goals. Mindset allows for balance and balance is the other magic word.

Balance means if I want cake for dinner, I probably shouldn’t start my day with pancakes. Balance means I could take a brisk walk on Monday, but practice restorative yoga on Tuesday.  It means I wear a fun dress and heels on Friday – just because, but sweat pants on Saturday and sit on the couch.  It means I’m not perfect and I’m not supposed to be.  Balance and mindset say that a bad eating meal or day isn’t the end of my world.  And it doesn’t mean I failed.  Mindset allows for balance.

The problem with most of these plans are that they make you think that you need to compartmentalize diet and exercise with mindset and balance.  And that may be what sells their product at first, but it’s not what creates a life that’s worth living. Reality tells you that if you can’t mesh these things together, you’ll never sustain anything.

When we focus on the mindset, we recognize that not all days are perfect, but we’re appreciating our moments.  Some days we’ll focus on healthy foods and some days we’ll focus on finding activities that we like.  If we don’t, then we haven’t **yet** but doesn’t mean we won’t.  There is a power that comes from sensibility and a growth mindset that just because we haven’t achieved something, doesn’t mean we won’t.  We just haven’t.  Yet.  When we focus on mindset, we realize we’re not on or off our plan just because we overate.  We’re just in need of balance.

With the new year comes the gorgeousness that is the blank slate.  All the junk leaves the house and replacing it comes workout materials and new cooking appliances that will help us live a healthier life.  Our sensible mind sets up this new year (sometimes in the form of a resolution) and starts off with a bang.  There is MAGIC in the beginning of something.  So full of hope.  And then things happen.  And the magic goes away.  Is there a way to see all the days of this coming year with magic?  There is if we focus on mindset.

You will not change the way you live unless you change the way you look at life.

 

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Happy Anniversary to ME!

12 years ago I didn’t pick up a prescription for a statin.
12 years ago my husband knew to take pictures of me “chest up”.
12 years ago I found myself staring in to a Costco size bag of UTZ potato chips finding it empty and that I ate them all.

12 years ago I walked in to Weight Watchers as a Lifetime member over goal.  This was my 6th time joining WW, and 5th time walking in to join as a Lifetime member over goal. At the age of 25 I joined to fit in to my wedding dress.  I didn’t have a lot to lose, lost it, and fit in to the dress.  Each time I joined, the pounds that I regained brought friends and I always had more to lose and it seemed so overwhelming – the amount of work I had in front of me.  So, for those that have lost and gained over and over, I get it.  I understand.

I wish I could tell you that I knew this time would be THE ONE TIME – but being at goal for 9½ years, I still can’t tell you that it is.  I wish I could tell you that I’ll never emotionally eat again because I will and did even just last night.  I wish I could tell you that I knew something was different this time, but I can’t because it isn’t, it’s just lasted longer.   I promised myself this would be the last time – but I’ve broken promises to myself before and probably will again.  I wish I could tell you that I don’t have any more setbacks.  I can’t.  I do, I will, I will again.

But what I can tell you is that each week – no…. each DAY…. I think about how I’ve changed my life.  Each bite is now a choice, whether that be chocolate cake or roasted vegetables, I can honestly say I’m conscious – something I could not say before.  I can tell you that if one day I ate all of the food (who hasn’t said or done THAT?) that the chances of me doing that 2 days in a row are now reduced – not out of the question – just reduced!

I do not eat today how I ate 12 years ago walking in to Weight Watchers.  I couldn’t have made the change overnight.  It was a slow process.  It’s still a process.  That’s the beauty of this time.  I recognize that I’m in a process and not a specific race or event.  I’m in a life.

I get to fit the way I eat in to my life.  If I had to fit my life in to a way to eat, I’d quit.  This is one of the reasons I love this plan – especially this current plan!  I get to live my life which means I entertain, I drink wine, I travel, I eat out, I bake, I eat other’s baked goods, and I maintain weight loss (maybe not week to week, but over time).  Because I’m conscious.  I’ve been food conscious now for 12 years – it’s an anniversary for me.

Is it work?  Yes.  It was also work being overweight.  It was work shopping for clothes that disguised my bad features (or those I thought were bad.) It was work editing pictures or not even wanting to share them.  It was work feeling like “why can’t I just do this?” or “Why is it easy for those people?” or “Can’t I just get through ONE WEEK eating well?”

Joining Weight Watchers to lose my weight been a Godsend.  I no longer need cholesterol medicine.  My husband can take the picture of the whole person.  I am no longer hiding.  I no longer buy clothes that hide my thighs or hips.  I’m proud of that.  I’m proud that my closet has color.  I’m proud that I’m fairly healthy and have taken control over the small things I can take control – like the fork or the glass.  But that’s just the weight loss part of my Godsend.

The friends that I have made BECAUSE of Weight Watchers, the members while I was losing, the members who I have now, the fellow service providers, the managing staff here or no longer on board – these people are now in my heart and I cannot imagine my life without them.  12 years ago I didn’t have them.  Now I have them, a healthy and smaller body, and a life I love living.

Happy Anniversary to me!

 

 

Why do I do this?

As many of you know, I lost my weight .2 and .4 a week.

People ask me now, “How were you not frustrated?” My answer? “Who said I wasn’t frustrated?” “But how did you not quit?” Aaahhh – that’s the question.

How do you not quit when you’re frustrated?  How do you have an amazing week of doing everything right and see a gain and not throw in the towel and just say, “This is just not working!”  How do you have a week where you know that you’re not doing *everything right* and think, “I just can’t do this.”  How do you not quit when you ROCKED your week and see a loss of .2?

Well?  HOW?  I’m asking, really.  Because in the 2½ years it took me to lose my 35 pounds I wanted to quit – a LOT.

I also wanted to quit college when I had a hard class.

When I was delivering my first child and on the 4th hour of pushing, my husband remembers that I asked him if I could just stop, go home and sleep and come back the next day and finish.

When I was grieving for my mom I asked myself “when will this pain end?”  I asked God, “why don’t you let me get over this now? It hurts too much.”

I wanted to quit physical therapy for my right wrist because the pain was excruciating.

So why didn’t I?  What hard things have you gone through that you just wanted to quit – but didn’t?  One could say that I couldn’t quit grieving because I had no alternative.  I couldn’t have quit delivering my child because the laws of nature, and really…. I wanted my son to come out already!

All I heard from some people (the only voices I *chose* to hear) was, “why bother, you’ll gain it back anyway – we all do.”  I heard others say that.  I heard my own voice say that.  And through my tears, I didn’t quit.

You see, this is my 6th time around on Weight Watchers and I’ve followed other methods to losing weight, too.  Who hasn’t?  And I’d be successful at the loss and then I’d quit. Every single time I quit, I gained.  A smarter person would have figured this equation of quit=gain much sooner than I, but I’m a bit slow.   And it turns out, that learning is not all I was slow in doing.

I joined Weight Watchers for the 6th time in March 2005.  I was gung ho! (Sound familiar?)  I was ready! (Sound familiar?)  I was going to do “all the things” right! (Sound familiar?)  I gained my first 3 weeks.  WHO gains their first 3 weeks on Weight Watchers?  Why didn’t I quit then? Well, it turns out that I was still following the “Marci Plan” – which, by the way, no one in the history of the world has paid to follow for a good reason!  I joined Weight Watchers expecting (and no, I didn’t voice this) that by joining and doing my own thing by dieting, I’d be a success story. (Sound familiar?)  So I didn’t quit and decided to actually follow the plan as written.  But again – I was going to do it PERFECTLY so that I could lose the most amount of weight in the least amount of time!  (Sound familiar?)

And I did.  I gave it my all.  I tracked everything.  I was so excited to weigh in.  I lost a big POINT TWO.  I was crestfallen.  And the receptionist and the leader both told me that it was fine!  To stick with it!  That it’s a stick of butter.  I did another week.  I was PERFECT.  Again, I got on the scale excited.  POINT TWO again.  So now I’m at 5 weeks and I’m at a net gain and ready to throw my arms up in the air.  Again, I was given encouragement, which I only half heard.

This process went on and I got more and more frustrated.  But I didn’t quit.  Why?

So all of these words above come down to one word:  WHY.

The reason we don’t quit things that are important to us, is we connect to why they’re important in the first place.  That’s the reason people drop out of college or quit their weight loss or activity efforts – because they haven’t truly FELT and CONNECTED to our reason WHY we’re doing things in the first place.  But that WHY needs to be important in your moment.

I’m not a “driven” person.  No one would have ever described me as a go-getter, ambitious, cut-throat or even focused – unless I REALLY want something!  And I go through ups and downs in my weight loss and weight maintenance journey.  The downs are always when I let me “why” be vague and logical.

Vague reasons:  1) for my health, 2) to feel better, 3) to look better, 4) because I need to lose weight

Logical reasons: 1) so my cholesterol and blood sugar stay in normal range, 2) to have more energy, 3) to fit in to small, cute clothes

These are VALID reasons.  And yeah, some of them overlap.  But we don’t go through hard things because of vague or logical reasons.  We need to see the benefit for ourselves.  We MUST feel the reasons.  They must be personal TO US.  Some people call that motivation.  I don’t.  Because I don’t get motivated when I need it.  I get motivated AFTER I’m successful for a while.

I need my WHY to be something that I want more than I want that 4th piece of bacon.
I need my WHY to be something I feel during the tough days because anyone can follow a plan on the easy ones.

Years ago I embarked on my first (of a few) multi-level marketing businesses.  None of them worked for me because I didn’t truly connect to them.  But anyway, I found enjoyment and value in each of my adventures and don’t regret anything because I’m a product of all the sums of my experiences.  But in my training for this particular one, I found a true gem in sales.  “People don’t want to know the features of something, they want to know the benefit.”  So if that toy was glow in the dark (feature) who cares?  Well, I would care if it prevented me from tripping on it in the dark (benefit.)  BOOM.

I’ll repeat that.:
People don’t want to know the features of something, they want to know the benefit.
THAT is our why.  What’s in it for me?

We each have to know our own personal benefits – and we need to connect with those.  I was told by many doctors that due to the fact that diabetes runs in my family on both sides AND the fact I was gestational diabetic, I would get this.   But that’s just logic.   That’s just some doctor telling me that some day I might – or probably will – get this very procrastinatable (that is not a word!) disease.  Did it mean anything to me personally?  I didn’t want toes amputated and other health issues amplified.  I saw things that scared me and I don’t want to give myself shots.  That’s one why.  Another is the pair of jeans I needed to fit in to before a trip.  That’s more immediate – but it kept me going that first month!  Important to have a bucket of WHYs!

I hear other people’s why and I get inspired, but they are not my own.  I don’t have grandchildren.  I love who I am and did prior to my weight loss.  I’m a confident person who knows who she is and always has.  So why make changes?  Why work hard on maintaining those changes?  Because I’m a human and I needed positive growth in my mind and my heart, but not my tush or my thighs.

My original why is that I hated myself in pictures.  So that worked for a bit.  But then it needed to change.  So the trick is what do you want THIS week?  How do you want to feel at the end of the month?   Worry about down the road, down the road.

We are projects.  Our weight loss is a project.   Like building a house.  When I’d have someone build my next house, I’ll want them to have a team of people – good, trained people so that it won’t take too long, but will be done efficiently.  I’ll want him to have the right tools so that walls don’t fall on me.  I’ll want the builder to make me a big kitchen so that I can have the space for all my cooking and tools.  Your so thats are your WHY!  A good weight loss plan will help you with the how.  And that’s IMPORTANT!  Find one that shows you healthy ways to lose weight.  But it’s not enough to implement.  The why starts your project.  THEN you need HOW.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

My why helps me choose this or that instead of always having this and that.  My why helps me not to quit.  My why helps me through getting on the scale and losing point two and the eye roll that follows.  I’m going in the right direction.  And I’ve figured out that quitting makes me gain, so that’s not an option.  It’s just not an option because every time I gave in to that option, it backfired. I’ve also figured out that when I start doing poorly on my plan, I need a new why and usually a more immediate one.  And that’s the hard part.   I’ve been at goal for over 9 years, but this success wasn’t handed to me.  I fight for it.  I earned it.  History doesn’t have to repeat itself.  I don’t have to gain it back.

But I have to get through this week first.

 

 

Make yourself uncomfortable

I’ve alluded to this before, but our habits – our routines – are what drives our success or our downfalls.  We’re constantly paring behaviors.  We pair watching football with drinking beer or eating pizza or nachos.  We pair coming home from a stressful day and pouring a glass of wine because “we deserve it.”  We pair boredom at home with going to the fridge and opening it and just staring at it thinking “what’s talking to me, I must eat.”  We even pair seasons with behaviors.  Winter usually goes with less activity and summer usually has more cocktails and barbeques.

Changing habits (re-pairing with a healthier choice) is uncomfortable and our society can’t stand uncomfortable.  We can’t handle feeling hurt or stressed or sad or disappointed or frustrated.  It’s hard.  It’s hard to feel.  We think we need to numb everything.  If it’s negative, we immediately go to mask – not fix – the feeling.  And often, that masking comes with food or drink.

Why are we always trying to make ourselves comfortable?  Why do we think uncomfortable is so bad?  Are we really that conditioned to think our lives are supposed to always be comfortable and happy?  That as soon as the first glitch happens and we’re not, we immediately try to turn it around and mask that negative feeling (physical or emotional) with something so as not to feel it?  It’s far worse to NOT feel.

We get stressed out or angry or sad so we comfort ourselves with food.  In fact, there’s a whole category of food – comfort food.   (By the way, if you Google comfort food, you’ll get lots of cheese casseroles, but hardly any, if any at all, steamed vegetables.)

We’re human beings and as human beings capable of feeling a range of emotions.  We’re meant to feel a range of emotions – not just good ones.  We’re meant to learn to cope with all emotions and it’s not the emotion that defines us so much as the coping and our responses to those emotions that determine our successes.

What do many of us do when we’re bored?  We eat. But are we not smart people with other interests?  Is there nothing to read?  Is there not a game to play or a puzzle to solve or a skill to learn or a craft to be crafted?  (For me it’s rarely the craft!)

We start a plan (which takes some adjustment in our lives) and the first sign of disappointment or frustration, we’re turning back to our old habits.  Our old pairings.  How did that help us?  We need to face the feeling and ask ourselves the questions that need asking to cope with the feeling.  I was coaching someone when they said that they have been doing this for 5 weeks.  That they only lost (two words that should never go together, by the way!) 3 pounds and therefore it’s just not working.  She was frustrated and angry and about to quit.  I heard her loud and clear.  I told her that I heard that frustration and anger and asked her what happens usually when she feels those things.  Her answer:  copious amounts of chips.  Now you all can read this and since you might not be truly in it, see the flawed logic, but you also might sympathize or empathize with this pairing.  If this was your mom or your best friend telling you this, what would you tell them?  Are copious amounts of chips the right coping mechanism?  Will she still be angry and frustrated?  And now?  Probably more.  Part of changing – re-pairing – the habit of pairing that emotion has to start with addressing it.  Head on.  Sometimes we’ll see the flawed logic and we can ask ourselves a simple “Is that true?  Is it really not working just because it’s not at the rate I want?”  And sometimes the feelings – the VERY real feelings – need to be addressed in a different way.

Remember in elementary school when we got worksheets from our teacher that had us draw a line from one column to something correlating in another column?   I think we need to brainstorm on one side of the paper all the emotions we feel.   And then brainstorm some healthy responses to those.

Stress
Disappointment
Frustration
Bored
Celebratory

What would be on the right side of your page with those?  Does it need to be wine or chocolate? Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 11.33.24 AM

I have goals.  I need to lose weight or maintain my weight.  I need to feel and address those feelings. I need to do the things I love without the old  pairings.

I get to have football games without beer.
I get to have summertime without as many cocktails.
I do NOT have to pair everything in my life with food or drink. (This was news to me.)

Science shows that 40% of our feelings are choice (50% is our physical makeup and 10% our circumstances.)  I love this science.  I love knowing that I always have a choice.  That it’s possible to see the lighter side. I am a happy person – most of the time.  I am a Pollyanna all of the time (except when I’m being a neurotic Jewish mother who thinks their kids are stuck in some hole or ditch.) I also like to know that THAT choice can be to feel sad because at times in my life I should.  I get to feel frustrated.  I get to be disappointed in myself and others.  I get to feel joy and love and boredom and nervous and stress.  I get to feel all those things because I’m MADE to feel all those things.  It might be uncomfortable but it’s OKAY to feel these emotions!  It’s important to feel these emotions.

But they all don’t have to be paired with chocolate.

Impressive Results? January in “Weight Loss”

Lobster-inspired weight loss creams
A magical powder to sprinkle on food to make you lose your appetite
A supplement to get you to your high-school skinny
Caffeine-infused underwear to destroy fat cells

Those were real products, folks.  <insert eye roll here>

My friend Shady uses her own barometer for the ads:  Does it sound too good to be true? For instance, will you eat whatever you want and lose 17 pounds a week? Will it take all the wrinkles off your face? Will you now be able to ride a sparkling unicorn to work, if you do it?

For what it’s worth, if I get to ride a sparkling unicorn, I’m in.  I mean it – really in.  Someone sell THAT to me, I’m so there!

This world is obsessed with the fast and the easy.  And the superficial.  January on social media brings you anything from “Impressive results FAST” to “15 pounds this week, can your diet beat THAT?

It’s absolutely scary how vulnerable and desperate we have become and it saddens me.  I consider myself an intelligent woman, but this is a button and businesses know how to push our buttons.

What does “Impressive Results” mean in terms of weight loss?  Well, the marketing for some companies would have you believe it means fast.  You lose weight fast.   I call BS.  And so do you, actually.

In terms of weight loss, I think “Impressive Results” mean you keep weight that you lose – OFF.

As a Weight Watcher Leader and Personal Coach, I’ve never had a member come to me and say, “Marci, I’d like to lose a lot of weight and then I’d like to gain it all back again.  Can you help me with that?”   (By the way, I could.)    But have you ever heard anyone say that?  Yeah, me neither.  Impressive results are so much more than weight loss and maintenance.

im·pres·sive

imˈpresiv/

adjective

evoking admiration through size, quality, or skill: grand, imposing, or awesome.

Each year I think we (as a society) are making progress in the mindset shift, and each January scammers all over peddle their products and schemes to that button.  That button.   How can we disable that button and replace it with the one that reminds you that nothing worthwhile comes fast and easy?

Very often I hear people say, “I can lose weight without a problem.  I just can’t keep it off.”   That’s what happens when we diet.  Diets have a start and a stop.   But we keep weight off when we change our habits. Changing habits for a healthier lifestyle takes small steps but does result in IMPRESSIVE RESULTS.  I do have to say that it’s easier to replace a behavior than remove a behavior – our mind is wired to pair things together.   (Think of Pavlov!)   Truly impressive results are when you’re focused on the good (what do I love?  What gives me joy?) and not the bad (if I eat that, I’ll just binge.  I might as well eat the whole bag and then not buy anymore.  I’m so stupid, why can’t I just do what I know to be right? Why can’t I just be NORMAL?)

We need to use the term “yet” when we’re frustrated that our bodies aren’t on the same time table as our mind.  (I’m not at my goal weight YET.  I haven’t mastered putting exercising in my day YET.)  We need to know that truly impressive results are when we realize that we are doing things differently than we did last month.  That we changed a habit and replaced it with something to help ourselves do better, be better, think better.  Better is compared to YESTERDAY and not to someone else, by the way!

Impressive is when you realize that you didn’t even go down the chip aisle because that’s not what you want.

Impressive is realizing that you look for ways to move and smile.

Impressive is when you realize that what you do on Sundays is steam a dozen eggs and roast two trays of veggies because that’s what you do to have a good start to your week.  Not that you did it once – but that’s just what Sundays mean now.

Impressive is when you realize that when you had a rough day at work, you reach to things that you DO deserve, like a soothing bath and a hug from a spouse and validation that you’re amazing – not the cookies.

Impressive is when you realize you’ve made a new normal.

You have the ability to have impressive results in anything you do.  But you don’t buy impressive results.  You make it.  You surround yourself with positive, like-minded people who support that growth mindset you’re nurturing.   You create an environment (work and home!) that align with your goals and you believe that you’re already impressive.  You create a journey that suits your life and not one that you have to postpone your life!  You forgive yourself for taking two steps forward and then some steps back and get up like a toddler learning to walk and try again.

For over 9 years I’ve been within an 8 pound window.  I can honestly say that never has that happened prior to now in my life.   And although I still can’t say “I got this!” I live my life inside a balance.  I’m not your poster girl for healthy – yet.  I’m not your poster girl for exercise – yet.  And there are still times I’ll find myself in a bathtub with a glass (or 2) of wine or diving emotionally in to a bag of M&Ms (after I’ve poured them in to a glass jar because, really, that’s just such a beautiful sound!)    I do this with Weight Watchers because it’s been the one plan that has said to me, “Let me fit in to your world.  Please don’t contort yourself and struggle and deprive.  Let me be there for your changes.  Let’s change your mindset.  Let’s work together and make this flexible in your life.  And then let’s adjust accordingly.”  But it doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you choose YOU – and not the button.   We need to redefine impressive results, people.  We need to truly believe that a life plan is about growing in to the person we’re meant to become in the body we’re meant to be inside.  At the end of my life, I don’t want people to say “wow, she was a size 8 for 40 years.”  I want them to talk about what value I gave to them, what I gave to others, what impact and service did I provide to enrich people, did I live with integrity.

Am I where I need to be?  Not yet. I’m still growing….just not physically!   And I believe that one of the most impressive results I have seen is that button of mine that the commercials used to push….is broken.

Permanently.

Anxiety is where you least expect it

Normally when any of you see my posts, you could count on some positivity.  You’ll see humor – especially puns – and gratitude, and optimism, and encouragement.  You might see cursing during football season and you might see the very occasional political post.

So this is different.  I had a car accident on Thursday.  I’ve been involved in car accidents before both my fault as well as another person’s fault.  I was rear ended and didn’t even see it coming.  I got checked out and other than a bump on my head and some neck pain, I considered myself pretty lucky.  My new car is pretty bruised up, but I know that in the same accident in my old car, I would be MUCH more physically damaged (if not worse.)  So I have a lot for which to be grateful – and I AM.

I’ve had a phenomenal weekend.   My husband whisked me away to the beach and we had an adventure and fabulous company and food and SO much laughter and fun.   But also in the last 72 hours I’ve experienced something I know many others feel often – physical anxiety.  As positive – and neurotic – that I am most of the time – I’ve never really experienced SO MUCH physical anxiety.  This is new to me and plainly speaking – it sucks.

I know a lot of people who experience anxiety in many forms.  And I know many of them get help in the form of therapy and medication.  I also know of many who don’t get help.  There are those who go to work in paralyzing states of anxiety.  There are those who drive with it.  There are those who operate machinery and do surgeries.  Anxiety is everywhere and can affect the most positive and optimistic of people.  I know.

Combine anxiety with the political climate (which probably CAUSES much and definitely has added to mine!)  and we’re likely to experience many of our colleagues and our friends and neighbors acting differently or responding to different situations in ways they normally wouldn’t.

This is why it’s more important than ever to listen.  It’s more important than ever to observe.  It’s more important than ever to reach out to those who may be acting differently and say, “I’m here. You don’t even have to talk, just know.”  It’s important to reach out to those you know who have experienced anxiety in the past and ask, “Hey, how are you doing lately? How are you handling things these days?”  It’s more important than ever to (if you can) go over to someone’s home and give them a hug instead of a text.   It shouldn’t feel uncomfortable to talk about the simple fact that people are anxious – and FEEL anxiety in different ways.

Instead of thinking it’s the rare person you meet experiencing it, I’d actually make the assumption that it’s the rare person who doesn’t.  So be kind.  Be patient.  Be understanding.  Be gentle.   But most importantly…. Be present.

We are Better Together

Marci, was it everything you hoped for? (This was my friend’s question yesterday.) Well….. I answered her yesterday, but the question has been floating in my head since.

The last week’s event was purely social – not a Weight Watchers-organized or paid-for event. But Weight Watchers brought us together AND to this place of love and sharing and connection.  And we are forever changed.

Last year when the five North Carolina women were returning from a life-changing few days in Michigan, we decided that we should host the following year. We wanted to re-live the connection, recreate it, offer our brand of hospitality. If I just invited dozens of my closest friends over for a party, I could be pretty sure we’d have a great time. If I invited dozens of friends (some who didn’t know each other) I *still* could be pretty sure they’d have a good time.   But “a good time” isn’t what happens with this type of event.

What happened here is no short of magic.

We – the North Carolina crew who went last year – threw the invite out to last year’s group – then our territory and whoever we had on Facebook.   Among the 5 of us, there are a LOT of connections! We talked it up. We had a LOT of interest but we know that life sometimes gets in the way, we’re not the ones who show up on everyone’s Facebook feeds, and trips can’t be made sometimes. We also know that the ones truly upset they couldn’t come were the ones who had the experience before because we just can’t articulate what happens to our hearts until it happens. It’s not just “getting together to get to know each other.” It’s getting TOGETHER to get to KNOW each other and FEEL our hearts grow!

Taking a trip to meet virtual “friends” is not an easy thing to say “yes” to for a lot of people.   The practical reasons why people say no are obvious:

  • I don’t want to – that’s just not a priority.
  • I can’t spend the money in coming.
  • I can’t get off time from my job.
  • I have other obligations during the time period.
  • I think it’s insane!

But there are the emotional reasons:

  • I don’t know anyone!
  • My circle is just fine, I don’t need it enlarged.
  • I am not LIKE them, I’m not extraverted.
  • I’m not in to all that connection or the touchy feeling stuff.
  • I’m not at my goal weight.
  • I don’t deal well with large groups of people.
  • What if they don’t like me?
  • This is out of my comfort zone – I can’t fathom spending the money AND being out of my comfort zone – no way.
  • I think it’s insane!

It’s just easy to say no. But we say no to a lot of things in life – too many things. We say no to the beach because we don’t want to be in a bathing suit. We say no to family reunions because of how we look. We say no to scary things, fun things, uncomfortable things, things that are hard and uncomfortable and inconvenient.  My Nana used to tell me, “For the most part, you don’t regret things you do, you regret things you don’t do.” But I used to say no to many things because of some insecurities.

What if we said yes to more things? What happens then? What if we planned a visit instead of talked about it? What if we picked up the phone instead of texted? What if we knocked on the door to give a hug instead of just thinking about it? What if we took a leap of faith and met other women instead of thinking that it’s “just not me”?  What if you want to improve the “just not me”?

Weight Watchers staff members are trained to deliver our service vision: keep members well informed, motivate members to succeed, make them feel well cared for and part of the group. I believe this training helps us live our lives outside of Weight Watchers in our day-to-day lives. I try to do those four things each day of my life.   I spent the last few days with women who embody that service vision.

We ate healthy food.
We took over the first nine rows of a kids train in a park!
We rode on a Merry Go Round!
We shopped and helped each other with “NO – try this – it’ll look amazing!” (We sometimes said – “no….that doesn’t look amazing!”)
We went to a meeting! (Okay – I get a bravo for leading a meeting that had a dozen leaders attending!)
We were silly in a scavenger hunt.
We listened.
We heard.
We laughed.
We cried.
We go kicked out of stores.  (ooops.)
We line danced.
We created fantastic relationships and a fun atmosphere.
We shared ideas and stories and defining moments.
We explored each other and the Raleigh/Apex area.
We nurtured ourselves and each other.

(Ladies – do those italicized words look familiar?)

We are not our Facebook personas. (No one truly is.) Each of us is made of flesh and blood and heart and soul and gifts and minds and scars and smiles. Each has more to offer than a status update, a funny meme about coffee or bacon, a political post, or a food picture. Each has questions about others and what makes them tick but sometimes afraid to ask. Each has defining moments and know and live the results of those moments. We are all shapes and sizes. Some are rule followers. Some don’t play by the rules. Some are organized and some are more loosey goosey! We have different food tastes and makeup preferences. We have different group comfort levels.   Some of us have never met a stranger and others take a while to open a gate to the wall we’ve built. Some of us laugh easy. Some of us cry easier! Some are natural athletes and some have no coordination!   (None of us have accents!)

Our job in Weight Watchers is to help members. Well, these are women who feel passionate about doing that.   Our commonality – or universality! – is our passion for our members and delivering that service vision to them – and each other. We are constantly proving to each other, the company, but especially ourselves…
We are Better Together!