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Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 28: Now and Then

Don't really know if you can see the difference, but on the left is a picture taken at lunch with coworkers as I celebrated my 46th birthday yesterday.  On the right is exactly one year ago, at lunch, with the same coworkers.  That day, December 28, 2010, was "the last supper", or the last time I allowed myself a free-for-all piggout for any meal.  Here's the blog post from that day:

December 28, 2010 Blog Entry

There is about an 80 pound difference between the two pictures.  And that's surely not the only difference!

I am a much more confident me.  I feel like I have so many more goals than I used to have.  I have many more things I want to accomplish or experience in life. I'm no longer one to really just sit on the sidelines and watch life.  I want to jump in there and participate whenever possible!

In a way it's made me look closer at the poor choices that got me so far away from my dreams and goals (from decades ago.)  And That's OKAY.  You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, right?

Anyway, here's another before/after.  The before was the first week of January when I was waiting to get my laser hair removal (eeks.)  The after was taken yesterday.

Sometimes, I just can't believe either is really me.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Day, Another Trainer

So.  Rambo informed me last night that he gave notice and will be gone in less than two weeks, leaving me floundering around waiting for a new trainer.  AGAIN. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

You know, you KNOWWWWWWW in life, I do not mind making the hard choices.  I do not mind finding the inner strength to get up and do something.  I do not mind sucking it up and doing whatever it takes to get something started.

What I DO mind very much is having to KEEP doing it over and over like freaking Groundhog Day (a la Bill Murray.)

For instance, I needed a new roof for quite a while.  It took a while before I got in a place to be able to deal with getting quotes, checking references, and just DEALING with the whole schmeal.  I hate it in general, but it felt amaZing to (1) pick a contractor, (2) get a date for the installation and (3) know I was getting everything brand new.

What happened then was what I am talking about.  They did a horrendous job.  I had to complain, they came back, did another horrendous job.  I had to get a home inspector out to verify that they, in fact, did a horrendous job, then they came back a third time. ARGGGGGGGGGGGG.

I had a remote starter put in my car.  It took some jockeying to get a good date where nothing else was going on, but I finally had it installed.  It felt amazing to have made and kept the appointment.  Too bad the &*^%&*%! thing doesn't work when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.  So now I have to deal with it ALL OVER AGAIN.

Those are the things that will drive me to utter distraction, that make me crazy.  It was bad enough having to get up the wherewithall to deal with it once, but having to KEEP addressing it...ughhhhhhhhhh.

So here we are going on trainer number 4.  Ugh.   Weight, height, fat composition, goals, blah blah blah.  What a freaking waste of my time!  It's bad enough getting up the gumption to GO to the gym, to deal with all the paperwork of contracting for a trainer, but really?  Every two weeks I end up with no trainer anyway.  I do really want to scream, but to whom?  I don't even get the advantage of coming home to bytch to a spouse about the unfairness of the planet. 

Nope, it's "suck it up, buttercup" as usual.  Oh.  Wait.  But I have all of YOU to whine to, and that does not go unnoticed.  Thank you very much.  Now, if you could draw me a nice hot bath and arrange for a deep massage to get rid of the stress of it all, I'd really appreciate it.

In the meantime, I have half a mind to start acting like I don't NEED a trainer.  I'm not sure, though, where the other half of my mind is, so I don't want to be too hasty.....

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Evolution of "Healthy"

What is "healthy" to you?  What does being healthy look like?  What does it feel like?  What does eating healthy mean?  For me, there has been a slow learning process - an evolution.

When I first started making healthier choices it was pretty basic.  Drink more water.  Then incorporate some extra vegetables in my day (alongside the Big Mac of course.)  Over time the items in my refrigerator and pantry have completely changed.

Where once there was white bread, white rice, potatoes, crackers and other processed carbs, there is now whole grain wraps (which I don't eat often), brown rice, sweet potatoes, organic whole grain crackers (which I also don't eat often.)  Where there was Lean Cuisine processed meals or other frozen dinners there is now fresh meats and vegetables.  The whole milk is replaced with organic lowfat milk.  And if there is an organic version of a food, I strive to get that rather than the chemical-laden versions.

There are almost no sodas in the house (except for company) and snacks are usually plain almonds, string cheese, cottage cheese, carrots, celery, organic peanut butter and the occasional organic dark chocolate square.

The point I'm trying to make is that none of this just happened.  It has taken a few years of substituting one item for another until it became a habit, and then tackling another item.

That's how it goes with all of these healthy lifestyle changes.  I have become more active slowly over time. I started working out once a week, then twice, then three I work out a minimum of 5 days a week (because it FEELS so good to me to do that!)  When I started I could barely walk from the car to a store without being winded.  Now I park as far away as possible, take the stairs when possible, and get out and ride my bike when time permits.  (Note: I didn't own a bike a couple of years ago; it's all part of the evolution.)

Here's the takeaway: Becoming healthy is multifaceted and it doesn't happen overnight.  Make ONE "Next Right Choice" today.  Maybe commit to drinking more water for a week.  Perhaps you can vow to add apples to your daily food intake.  Just do SOMETHING that is a choice in the direction of better health, then do it until it becomes habit.  Once that is mastered, make one more healthy next right choice.

Before you know it, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of where you are now.  Just one next right choice.  What'll it be?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reaching Out

"Trouble is part of your life.  If you don't share it, you don't give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough."  -Dinah Shore

For the majority of my life, I have operated in a very specific modus operandi.  It went like this:

  • Live life the best I could, mostly alone (I did a lot of my living inside myself)
  • When the really bad stuff hit, go deeper inside myself and dig really deep, trying to pull myself back out
  • Once the bulk of the problems had past, let people who cared about me know that it happened (usually a sugar-coated "no big deal" version) and that I solved it, and that they wouldn't need to worry about me.
  • Rinse. Repeat.

I just could not reach out for help when life was hard, or when I was overwhelmed under the weight of all I had to do.  Dr. Phil has a phrase: (I'm not a big Dr. Phil fan, but I love this phrase)  "How's that working for you?"  Well, it wasn't working very well at all.

When you are in a big hole, the last thing you should probably be doing is grabbing a shovel and digging.  You're only making the hole bigger!  Instead, sometimes you need reach out, ask for help and let someone reach down and help pull you out.

It's taken me a long time to realize this and be okay with it.

I think I've figured out why I did this (and still tend to lean this way.)  I think my self esteem was so low I was petrified to show weakness or vulnerability.  I didn't want to be judged as being bad, or stupid, or incompetent, or needy, or.... (you get the point.)  I was a rock; I was an island.  (And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries, right?)

The past few years, however, I have come to understand so much more about life and how I fit into it all.  For starters, the only person really judging me as harshly as I thought was ME.  Another thing I am learning is that when I completely shut down and blocked people out of my life (sometimes for years while I struggled  to become "acceptable"), I was being very selfish and focused on my own needs.  I wasn't allowing them to show up for me and love me perhaps the way they wanted to.  I kept them at arm's length.

Well, things are a lot different now.  If I need help, I ask for it.  If I'm having a bad day or week or phase, I reach out and let my friends know.  If I'm overwhelmed with all my responsibilities (single family home owner and single parent with a commute and full time job can get a tad overwhelming), I call in the troops.  I have an organizer, someone to mow the lawn, a landscaper to weed the garden.  Whatever it takes to get back on top of things.  Whereas I may have felt in the past there was something wrong with me for not being able to do it all, today I realize, NO ONE is designed to perfectly do it all!

Anyway, in this fitness quest I am finding the same thing.  I have reached out to those who know so much more about fitness and health than I do and am drawing on their experiences to help increase my own understanding and awareness.  And I have a trainer because at this point in my life, that's what I need.  Without having to figure it all out on my own and from scratch, I am moving forward at a really good pace.

My thought for the day:  If you need help, ask for it.  If you don't know how to do something, ask someone.  If you are sinking under the weight of your responsibilities, get help.  If you don't reach out, you are going to make life needlessly harder.  I know.  It's how I rolled for decades.  ♥

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beyond My Limits

I was a dreamer in high school.  I believed in the power of goals.  I believed I could accomplish anything I set my mind to do.  I believed there were no limits to my potential.

Then, life happened.

Two weeks after marrying my first husband and moving out of state with him, he grabbed my shoulders and shook me so hard I thought he was going to break my neck.  That single violent act changed everything.  The physical, verbal, emotional and financial abuse ensued and over time I began to doubt everything that was me.  Which in turn set off a slew of choices that took me farther from becoming that girl who could do anything.  Life imposed huge limits / limitations on me, and I let it.

Well, that's all changed now, hasn't it?

I realize I have imposed limits to all I can do, all I can be, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I am working hard on establishing several new goals for my life in all of those areas.  And once I make them, I want to stretch them just a little....just past where I THINK the limit is...and see where that leads me.

Last night my trainer pushed me (lunges and squats with kettlebells) beyond what I thought was possible.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to shout "I can't!"  I wanted to give up.  Instead, I dug deeper, focused through the pain, and took huge, deep, "girl on a mission" breaths.  And I finished what he laid out for me to do...and pushed way past what I thought were my limits.

What are your limits?  Where do you set the bar?  Are you living up to it?  Pushing past it?

One thing I am learning....if left completely on my own, I don't necessarily feel like pushing past any limits (who doesn't like their little comfort zone, right?)  So I am surrounding myself with people who see in me what I can't see (yet)...who believe in me and who can help me set and reach higher goals.  And you know what?  It's working.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Extractly What I Needed!

I have found an amazing way to spice up my days in the "new me" world I now live in.

EXTRACTS!  Ohhhhh the flavor they have brought into my otherwise dull world!

There are two huge staples in my daily diet:  plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (Fage 0% usually), and coffee.  I love them both and I like them plain just fine.

However, one day, after cutting an apple up into the yogurt, I thought how vanilla yogurt is sometimes a nice treat.  I had some vanilla extract on hand so I gave it a try.  It wasn't really all that tasty, but I liked the idea of adding some kind of flavor.

The next time I went grocery shopping I saw a "French Vanilla Blend".  THAT was amazing in the yogurt and I used it for several days.  On the next trip I got orange extract.  Oh my!  Orange extract into the plain yogurt with raspberries?  Divine! (and I don't add sugar, just a drop of the extract.) I've now got banana, raspberry, strawberry and  more!

I added a few drops of peppermint into my coffee and it was really good (a little drop goes a long way here.) I have also added raspberry and french vanilla.  What an easy, calorie free way to add some extra flavor to perk things up a bit!

When it doubt, experiment, I say.  Sometimes it really pays off and could be just what you need to add a little zest to your meals!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Different Slant

So my trainer, I'll call him "Rambo" for today, had this great idea to show me all the ab machines last Saturday.  It was awesome.  So awesome that as late as Tuesday night I still couldn't use my muscles to turn over in bed because it hurt so badly. 

Ok, that was an exaggeration.  For starters, I actually asked for an ab workout.  (I may as well have asked to stand and be punched directly into the stomach repeatedly!)  Oh, and the whole not-able-to-turn-over-in-bed thing only lasted until Monday morning.  (That isn't an exaggeration even a little! I didn't even want to eat for two days.)

All was going great during this 30 minute ab marathon until we hit the dreaded "incline slant ab crunch board thingamajiggy."  This is a device that was taken off the list of interrogation tactics for suspected terrorists because it was deemed to be cruel and unusual punishment.

It is the first device at Golds Gym that has (temporarily) beaten me.  I couldn't even do one of these things with good form or as high as Rambo wanted me to go.  I am spitting mad.  So I'm going to do what any self-respecting stubborn hard-headed woman would do.

I'm going to buy a home version of this slant board torture device and practice, practice, practice and I will MASTER IT.  Bring it, ab board...You're Going DOWN!

I WILL post an update to this when I can do at least 10 of these in PERFECT form.  Oh yes, I will.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Breaking Through

This has been a MAJOR week for me so far, and it's only Tuesday!

I have repeatedly put up barriers to my own success in the past.  I have created obstacles that didn't need to be there.  I built walls.  I have found excuses.  I have self-sabotaged.

Please don't think this is arrogant, but I think part of the reason I have put up these barriers is because I really have believed deep down that I'm capable of big things, and somehow I embraced the concept that I was unworthy of success.  I felt I needed to shrink in order to fit in and be liked.  I couldn't handle the thought of being more successful than others in my family.  I didn't know HOW to be a true success.  Failure, that I knew how to do with grace and style.  Give me a hard circumstance and I could turn it into something good.  Give me hardship and I could light a path out of it and lead others out with me.

But success?  Egads, what does THAT look like?  I have had so much potential in so many areas of my life that I let slip away.

In the past, I created and ran three businesses.  All three enjoyed some degree of success and had much bigger potential.  One was a partnership and I didn't get anything in writing.  I arrived at the office one day to learn it had been sold by my partner.  The other two, however, were sole proprietorships and both fully supported me.  Here in Maryland, my business supported me, a deadbeat husband and his failing business, our home, a secretary's full time salary, and a fairly plush office space.  When it imploded I had just secured investors and was about to go national and even market via television.

I'd like to blame my ex entirely for the downfall of the business, but that wouldn't be truthful.  I made a series of choices and if I am honest with myself, I knowingly chose failure OVER certain succeess.  That was a hard sentence to write.

Well, I am certain now that I want success.  I am succeeding in my fitness goals.  I am succeeding in interpersonal relationships.  I want to make choices that will allow me to move forward into the light where I think I should have always been.  Not the spotlight.  Carly's Light.  No more hiding in the shadows.

I will talk more about these goals down the road, but I want to end with my favorite Marianne Williamson poem (often incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela) It speaks to my heart:

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us. 

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. 

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us. 

It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.


Monday, December 5, 2011


Art by Don Michael Jr.
I think we are all brought into this world completely mask-free.  Then life starts to happen to us.  Before long we learn that we do not live up to others' expectations.  I'm pretty sure I used to think it was great fun pooping in my pants and I can imagine being ashamed, scared, confused and mortified that my parents didn't share in my joy.  I must have learned that I wasn't measuring up, and wouldn't measure up, until I started doing what was expected of me, saying what was expected of me, and being what I was expected to be.

So maybe in order to integrate and conform, we learned to wear our "good girl" mask or our "nice young man" mask from our earliest purposeful actions.  This seems like it would be true of all humans to some degree, right?

For some of us, though, I think some things happened very early in our lives that took our mask-wearing to a different level.  For me, I was molested between the ages of 8 and 10 (give or take).  The masks became my protection.  I wore a mask pretending that I was okay.  I wore a mask at school of "over achiever."  To compensate, and to feel "okay" I think I worked hard to get school accolades.  I wore a mask at home (I didn't want to worry my parents or cause problems, so I kept quiet about it.)  I went to church every week and felt like a fraud when I was told what a good girl I was.  I knew the real truth about what was going on, so I wore a "good girl" mask.

In high school, I was often the funny one.  The jokester that kept people smiling and laughing.  Sometimes, though, that was a mask.  Sometimes I was goofing around and making people laugh and simultaneously crying on the inside, hiding (masking) my hurt. Better to make the joke and laugh first than to be laughed at?  I don't know, it was a good defensive mask at the time.

In dating, I felt who I was deep down was damaged goods.  I couldn't just be "me" because "me" was getting buried further and further down as I started living externally (being who I thought someone else wanted me to be to help hide the real me.)  So I wore a girlfriend mask, and later, a wife mask.

I think my weight piled on as another form of mask.  It was a protective layer where you could not see "me" through it, but I could see you, just like a mask.  It kept me at arm's length from people.  It let me hide inside my seclusion where it was safe.  Or so I thought.

I'm not saying I had a horrible life, that I never lived authentically, or that my entire world revolved around external validation.  But I had so many freaking masks, my authentic, scared self was buried most of the time and I didn't even know it at the time.  Not fully.

I have worked very hard over the past 7 years since becoming single to figure out who is underneath all those layers of defenses.  I have worked hard to reveal who I am (even to myself), one mask at a time as I have shed them.  The closer I get to living without ANY masks, the more I am able and excited to shed the weight, also.

Part of this might be age, as well.  I am finally in a place where I do not apologize for being who I am.  I like who I am.  I embrace my imperfections in a way I never did before.  And one of my greatest goals is to live out loud, completely true to who I am, inside and out.

My emotions are ahead of the physical at the moment.  My heart has been set free to just be who I am.  And I am excited for the day when my body no longer wears a mask, either.  Then I will be completely whole again.

If I could pass anything along to folks today, it would be to strive to get rid of your masks.  You were made perfectly imperfect, made to be exactly who you are, without apology.  You are good, good enough, and those masks, though they once may have protected you, are probably not serving you well anymore.  Try to find out any place where you are not being true to yourself, to your heart, and fix it.  The freedom is amazing.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

You Are Succeeding!

Did you know that right now, this very minute, you are 100% absolutely, totally succeeding?  Ralph Marston has a wonderful perspective on this:

In each and every moment, you are successful at doing something. You take action, and that action successfully brings a result. 
Success is not really something you must strive to create, for you are always making it happen. What's important is defining and intending the success you do create so that it is a positive force in your world. 

Many people are successful at just barely getting by. Others are successful at bringing pain and dismay into their lives. 

Yet the very same skills that succeed at creating mediocrity and despair, can also be used to create rich fulfillment. What's needed is not so much a change in effort as a change in focus. 

You truly deserve a great and wonderful life, and you have everything necessary to experience that life. Keep your thoughts focused on your most meaningful desires, and your actions will align with those thoughts. 

You're always succeeding at something. Choose now to make it something great. 

-- Ralph Marston

Think about it!  You can be successful at procrastinating.  Are you being successful at avoiding something you have to do?  Maybe you are being 100% successful at overeating to avoid feelings of loneliness.  Or you are 100% successful at creating a barrier of fat between you and the world in order to keep yourself insulated and protected from hurt.  Are you successfully suppressing your hopes and dreams because it hurts too much to think about them and not act on them?

I love this whole quote so much.  You are already totally successful.  We all are.  We are succeeding at what we are choosing.

So once we change our mindset and PURPOSEFULLY decide WHAT to succeed at, it can start to happen.  It doesn't have to be all at once.  How about you succeed at allowing yourself to dream?  Allow yourself to envision what kinds of goals you want to have!

Then make a plan, and start moving in that direction.

It's amazing when you realize it all comes down to your own choices, and remember, choosing to NOT make decisions (and let life just happen to you) IS a choice that you may be successfully living, also.

Think.  Dream.  Plan.  Decide.  CHOOSE~

God, life is GOOD.

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