What do I do when things get rough? I use my ABCs.

Sometimes when life gets crazy or overwhelming or downright unmanageable, I use a handy little skill I learned from Emily at www.guidancegirl.com. It’s part of a whole set of DBT skills – if you’ve never heard of DBT, it’s a type of therapy used mainly for treating those with borderline personality disorder, but what they found though, was that if this type of therapy worked in treating BPD (one of the most difficult disorders to treat) then it could work for ANYBODY. The skills taught in DBT therapy are super useful for regular Joes (or Jills) everywhere.

The skill I’ve been using most recently is the ABC skill. ABC stands for:

Accumulate positive experiences/emotions

Build Mastery

Cope Ahead

abc

What this looks like in real life for me is that sometimes I get a little overwhelmed and stressed out and start to feel down about things, so I’ll aim to be intentional about doing and keeping track of things that fit into the above categories. For instance, if I want to accumulate positive experiences/emotions, I’ll look at my schedule and see if I can fit in something fun into my day (or my lunch hour or my evening after work, etc) that will make me feel better – maybe it’s getting that really good salad at the store, or calling my best friend to talk for a few minutes, or stopping by the park after work for a quick walk. All of those things are positives for me and so doing them makes me feel better. I get intentional about making myself feel better.

Building mastery is doing something on a regular basis that makes me feel capable and better about myself, and that I enjoy. Trying a new recipe, working on my hand-lettering, cleaning that clutter pile that has been driving me crazy, or even just solving a minor problem are all examples of building mastery. Taking an exercise class or even a crafting class counts, as does updating your dream vacation board on Pinterest or planning what you’ll put in your garden next summer. It’s about making yourself feel competent, which in turn boosts your self esteem.

The third step is Coping Ahead – if I know a stressful situation is coming up (this could be good stress, like a vacation, or bad stress, like preparing for surgery) then I will stop and think about some things I can do that will make things easier for me or make me feel better about the situation. We just went on a short camping trip over Labor Day weekend and Emily reminded me to cope ahead by having some of my favorite healthy foods on hand for snacks. I also remembered to pack my ear plugs because I find that I sleep better in places that are not my bed if I have them in (also, sometimes my darling husband snores. Loudly). If this were a bad-stress situation, like having to spend time with relatives you don’t particularly care for (Thanksgiving will be here before you know it), you could make sure you have your favorite wine on hand to help you relax a little, you could make sure that you are in charge of playing games with the little kids, you could offer to make a run for ice when it gets low so that you don’t have to spend so much time with Overbearing Aunt Abigail…the point is to think about things you can do to improve the situation so that you can still be your best self.

What are some ways you make yourself feel better when things just don’t seem to be going well? What are some of your favorite ways to Build Mastery? What is your best Coping Ahead strategy? Tell me in the comments!

 

Therapy Thursdays

Since I started working with Emily the Therapist, I’ve had all sorts of blog posts rambling around in my brain but I haven’t been organized enough to get them written and posted. I decided that a weekly post would be the best way to plan for and to actually write those posts, so welcome to Therapy Thursdays! On these days I’ll share what I’m learning from Emily and pass along some helpful tips and tricks to navigating The World According to Jill (feel free to insert your own name there). So let’s go!

When Emily and I started working together, one of the first things we discussed was having self-compassion. I’ve already talked a little bit about this here so go check out that post if you haven’t already. (Also, this article and this page are great too.) This is the foundation on which I am building my new thought patterns. It is not selfish or arrogant or prideful to consider your own feelings – it is NECESSARY. You matter, your opinions matter, your feelings matter, and you need to remind yourself of that fact often. Whatever you need to do to remind yourself – a mantra, a note on the mirror, a reminder on your phone – DO IT.  (I seriously have a reminder that pops up on my phone every evening at 6pm that says “You’re so RAD!” True story.)

What does having self-compassion and self-care look like in the day to day? How do we make that a practical application in our lives? One thing Emily and I talked about was how even though I am at the beck and call of my family, I don’t have to let that drown me. As The Mom, I think I am naturally the go-to person – the mother tends to be The Manager in the family as well as the glue that holds the whole darn thing together (sometimes precariously so). Dads are great, and super helpful too, but moms wear so many different hats and by default take care of so many different things every day: we’re chauffeurs, chefs, housekeepers, homework helpers, wives, mothers, employees, etc… we do so much and sometimes the things we do aren’t fun. But what we can do is improve the situation. We can do these things on our terms.  Let’s say you have to shuttle your kids from one activity to the next and you just really aren’t feeling the chauffeur vibe but somebody’s gotta do it and today that somebody is you. So, how do you improve the situation? You can maybe get yourself an iced coffee and listen to your favorite playlist while you’re driving, or listen to your favorite audio book while you’re waiting for your kid to get out of practice. Make the situation work for you. What about going to the grocery store? How do we improve that? Maybe you can bring a couple of kids along with you to the grocery store and give them each a few things on the list to find and bring to the cart (assuming they’re old enough) in order to cut down on the time you spend in the grocery store. You could make the grocery shopping a sort of date-night with your husband or S.O. (but that’s kind of a crappy date, if you think about it, unless you both really enjoy it) – but you get the gist. Even though you might feel like you are at the beck and call of everyone else, is there a way you can do these things on your terms? Of course there is! You just have to ask yourself “What is going to make this pain-in-the-arse chore more enjoyable for me?” and then DO THAT THING.  And this isn’t just for moms – it’s for anyone who feels overwhelmed with their busy lives. There’s no reason we can’t get something positive out of a task we’d rather not be doing. Have a boat-load of filing to do at work? Grab a fun coworker and have them help you for a few minutes. Facing an impossible deadline and have to work overtime? Call your favorite restaurant and have dinner delivered to you. Folding a mountain of white laundry on the weekend? Fire up Netfilx and watch your favorite show while you fluff and fold. If the situation is dis-pleasing to you, find a way to make it a little better. You won’t resent doing the task so much and next time you might actually look forward to it!

This thinking and questioning and considering and then actually doing…this is how you shift your mindset. This is how it happens – one small decision after another. Knowing that it’s perfectly okay to consider my own feelings and wants and needs is a different mindset for me and it’s going to take some time and lots of practice, but I feel like I have to do it in order to keep from losing myself. I’ve already made some good progress and I look forward to making more.

The More You Do, The Better You Feel – Book Review

Sometimes you get a mirror held up to your face and you recognize yourself in ways that had never occurred to you before. That was the case when I began reading The More You Do, The Better You Feel, a book about procrastination. I have, for a really long time, jokingly referred to myself as a procrastinator, and I say “jokingly” because who really thinks of procrastination as a serious condition? I certainly didn’t, and never really gave much mind to my habit of putting things off, much to the dismay of my take-charge-take-action husband who could never really understand why it took me 3 weeks to complete a simple task like paying my car insurance. But when I started reading this book, I understood for the first time, just how debilitating procrastination can be.

Within the first few pages of this book, I was saying to myself “oh wow, this guy GETS IT.” the author, David Parker, understands first hand what it’s like to be a chronic procrastinator and gives his personal story of falling down the rabbit hole of avoidance and low self-esteem that procrastinating can bring. I began underlining sentences, then paragraphs and finally just putting an X next to passages that had me vigorously nodding my head in agreement. Suddenly I felt like I had an answer to “why can’t I just DO this???” which is a question I have asked myself for several years in regards to not only weight loss, but housekeeping, and paying bills before they’re due.

Parker puts procrastinators into 2 groups: casual procrastinators and habitual procrastinators. The difference between the two being casual procrastinators might let dirty dishes pile up in the sink for a day or two, whereas habitual procrastinators will avoid the dirty dishes to the point of going out and buying paper plates and plastic-ware so they don’t have to deal with the dishes at all (an example Parker uses in his book). I think I would identify as a casual procrastinator with one foot firmly planted in the habitual camp. I will wait to do dishes until right before I go to bed, or I will pay my bills online the day they are due. I seem to come in right under the line but manage to keep things going without many consequences. I do think my weight struggle is in part due to my procrastination and that has NOT been without consequence, obviously.

The book is in two sections with the first part titled Understanding Procrastination and the second titled Into Action. In this first section Parker talks about how procrastinators think and how they come to be the way they are as well as listing 25 characteristics, traits, and behaviors of procrastinators. I could list them all out here for you, but instead I’m going to share the ones that I relate to the most:

  • waiting until The Right Time to act, except the right time never comes, so nothing gets done.
  • a profound dislike for tasks that are complicated or take more than a few minutes to accomplish
  • being easily distracted from tasks
  • worrying that if I’m able to do xyz now, shouldn’t I always be able to do it?
  • feeling like I’ve earned the right to do nothing once I do complete a large task (this could relate to that feeling of “I’ve done so well on my diet this week, I deserve to take a break with this double dip chunky chocolate hot fudge sundae).
  • feeling envy that other people have seemingly superior abilities
  • have all-or-nothing feelings
  • feeling impatient and frustrated much of the time

I imagine most people feel this way at some time or another, but I think procrastinators feel this way most of the time – I know I do – and it becomes what feels like a huge insurmountable obstacle to happiness.

In the second section, Parker discusses ways in which the procrastinator can begin to change his/her ways, but first he goes through what he calls The Golden Rules of Overcoming Habitual Procrastination (found in Chapter 9). There are eleven rules total, but here are the ones that spoke to me particularly:

  • Always keep the promises you make to yourself.
  • The primary goal of accomplishing your tasks is to increase your self esteem.
  • Be wary of making harsh or inappropriate self statements.
  • Understand there will be consequences for your inaction.
  • Take the pressure off yourself by developing patience from within.

The subject of self-esteem comes up many times in this book and I had honestly never really linked my procrastination to my low self esteem, but I can see now how avoiding tasks can keep someone from feeling good about themselves.

The way out of habitual procrastination, according to Parker, is to use The J.O.T Method™ that he developed. This method is very simple, but very effective in helping the procrastinator to getting things accomplished. I don’t want to give away The J.O.T Method™ here, but just know that it is something anyone can do. It involves making a list, but the technique is special because it gives your instant gratification and genuinely makes you feel as if you have accomplished something at the end of the day.

I appreciate that Parker included a section in his book on dealing with setbacks, because as we all know, changing a habit is not a linear experience. There will be times when you are nailing it every day, but then those times come up where life just seems to get in the way and you end up right back at square one. He has tips for dealing with setbacks and things to look out for that might lead to having a setback. I like an author who can accept his readers are human and might have trouble adapting to change.

Overall, I found this book to be incredibly helpful and insightful. It explained a lot of things about myself that I had never really taken the time to question, and it gave clear answers to those questions I didn’t even know I had. I recommend this book for anyone who has referred to themselves as a procrastinator, whether casual or habitual, and also to those who sometimes just have trouble getting started and/or finishing tasks. I feel that it was really worth my time to read this book and also worth my time to review it for you here. I hope that it will help someone else who may be suffering.

Here’s where you can get the book (not an affiliate link): http://amzn.com/1935880012

The More You Do The Better You Feel

Noticing

I noticed a few things over the weekend – some delighted me, some bothered me. 

First the delightful:

I have reached that sweet spot where I am now cognizant of the fact that good food makes me feel good, and not only that, my taste buds prefer it. I keep trying to give my old favorites (read: processed/sugary) second, third, and fourth chances, but I have finally really honestly come to accept that those foods just don’t taste as good to me as they once did. And I can’t deny the difference in how I feel when I eat certain things. I did an accidental experiment over the weekend wherein I ate very good foods all day Saturday and I made a mental note of how great I felt all day long. I started the day with a whole wheat pancake w/ 1tbsp of peanut butter and a side of fresh strawberries. Lunch was a salad with greens, chicken, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and a couple of other things I can’t remember right now, but oh em gee it was delish. Afternoon snack was a deep chocolate Vitatop (needed a chocolate fix – yum!) and dinner was grilled steak with sweet potato and more salad. So good. So, so good. I had energy, was in a good mood, felt really balanced. 

Aaaaand then came Sunday. Since it was Father’s Day, I made Belgian waffles with bacon and fried eggs before church, then since I was was starving after church, I ate another Belgian waffle folded over some bacon – one of those “I just need some food in my stomach NOW” kinda things. Then I ate a pbj on wheat bread, because…hangry. I thought the hubs would want to go out to eat, but he was pretty happy in his recliner, so the waffle/pbj ended up being my lunch. We went to see my dad in the afternoon and I had a piece of my mom’s homemade chocolate pie (totally worthy), then we met my husband’s family for pizza that evening. I had a salad and one slice of pizza. All day long, I felt tired and cranky. I took a 2 hour nap at home after church and still felt lethargic. I just felt plain awful the whole live long day (which delighted my husband to no end. Happy Father’s Day, honey!!). 

So lesson learned: whole, fresh food makes me feel GREAT while processed, sugary food makes me feel (say it with me) HORRIBLE. I’ll be sticking with healthier fare from now on. 

 

And now for the thing that bothered me:

My daughter is 13 years old, tall and thin. She plays sports, so she’s gaining some muscle now and is in no way overweight. More than once this weekend I overheard well-meaning family members make comments about how much she eats. And yes, she does eat a lot – Girl can put away some groceries (it’s impressive, really). And of course she eats a lot – SHE’S A GROWING GIRL. She also sleeps a lot too because, again, GROWING. What really ticked me off is that each time a comment was made toward her, no one even thought of making a comment about how my 17 year old son eats, and he was right there sitting next to her the whole time. Why is it okay to comment on how much a growing teenage girl eats? My SIL, when we were at the pizza restaurant, said to my daughter as she was getting a slice of pizza ‘That’ll make you fat!” but said nothing when my son ate 3 slices of pizza and 3 hot wings plus a salad. Now, I believe my SIL was joking when she made her comment, because my SIL is every bit of 300 pounds herself, but still it made me want to come over the table at her like a spider monkey. I don’t believe that any of the relatives meant any harm or were being snarky or anything like that, but it really bothered me that they would even dare to make comments to a teenage girl like that. To my daughter’s credit, she just ignored all of it and let it roll off her back (at least that’s how it looked on the outside) – she’s the kind of girl who isn’t afraid to tell someone they are being rude or let someone know they’re out of line. So maybe I’m just projecting my own issues onto the situation, but the whole thing left me feeling rather Mama Bear-like. When any comment was made, I added my own comment: “She’s just the size she needs to be” or “She needs fuel to build those muscles” or something along those lines. I just want her to be proud of her body and everything it can do for her. She’s so impressed with her newly found calf muscles, so I encourage talk about how high her legs can jump (she does volleyball and high jump in track) and how her body is amazing (in terms of functionality). Young girls have such fragile self-esteems, it just makes me cringe when anyone (even well meaning family members) makes unhelpful comments. The whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth. 😦 

I hope I can keep my kids from struggling with the same food issues I have struggled with my whole life. I’m trying to show them what it means to be a healthy eater – I just hope I haven’t started too late. 

Update on stuff

I hate it when I go too long between posts because then I feel like I have to tell you all everything that has happened and it all feels like so much work so I procrastinate and then I feel even worse because then I have even more to tell and it just goes round and round and round…

*sigh*

Let’s just dive in, shall we? 

Update: I still haven’t weighed myself. It’s been almost 6 weeks since I stepped on the scale and let me tell you, I’m feeling a little unnerved. I want to weigh myself, but then again I intuitively probably have an idea of what I might maybe weigh, so I think, “what’s the point”, but man the temptation is getting strong. Knowing the number won’t change my behavior one way or another, but NOT knowing the number is getting harder to accept. I’m still not going to weigh myself. I’M NOT. 

My kiddos are back in school and you know what’s sad? That I had to go back and re-read my last post just so I could remember what we talked about last time. Anyway, I took some of your suggestions and have been doing really well on the “what to make for dinner” front. Sunday night I asked the fam what they wanted to eat for the week and within 2 minutes’ time, I had a menu plan for the week. After work yesterday I went to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients and I am so freaking happy about the fact that I don’t have to scratch my head and THINK about what we are going to eat this week. *insert happy dance here* 

Remember in my last post I talked about a new program I was trying? Well, I’m about 2 weeks in and I really love it! It’s Step It Up With Steph’s 30 Day Jumpstart and it’s exercise, food, and MENTAL exercises all in one program. The exercise portion is cardio intervals with strength training (I freaking love working out with weights – who knew??), and the food aspect is pretty simple – eat more protein and more fresh foods, but what makes this program different is the mental aspect – it has daily exercises to increase self esteem and self-kindness. I really love this last part since lately I have been really super hard on myself about my weight lately and this seems to be helping. I feel better already and the self-bashing is a lot quieter. And guess what?! One of you will get to try the program for free!! See my next post for details on how to enter the giveaway! I don’t do very many reviews or giveaways, but I feel pretty good offering this one to you. I know a lot of you deal with the same self-esteem issues I do, so I really think this could be beneficial for anyone who wanted to try it. 

Speaking of feeling better, the weird sadness I was feeling is gone, I think due in part to the better foods I’ve been eating and the work outs I’ve been doing. All in all I’m doing pretty well right now, still lots of room for improvement, but I feel like I’m on a good path. 🙂

That’s about it for today. I hope you all are doing well, and I’ll try to start posting regularly again. Sometimes I just run out of things to say, I guess! 🙂 

Experimental

So…I’ve been thinking a lot about my last post and the meltdown that created it. I’ve been letting the number on the scale control my life for a long, long time and I’m tired of it. I never considered myself as a someone who was ruled by the scale, but if I’m being honest, I am a loyal subject to Queen Scale and have pledged to listen to her and her only when it comes to my weight. My moods, my self esteem, my body image….they’ve all bowed down to the infinite wisdom of her Holy Number.

But you know what? I don’t think her Number is infinitely wise after all. I’ve thought about it some more and instead of weighing in once a month, I’d like to do a little experiment.

What would happen if I didn’t weigh in…at all?

If I wasn’t living under the influence of The Number, would I do things differently? Would I think about things in a different light? Right now, everything I do is under the microscope of “how many pounds have I lost (or gained)” and I really want more than that for myself. If I have a good healthy week and it doesn’t reflect on the scale, I get upset (or frustrated, or pissed off, or sad). If I eat like crap and it doesn’t reflect on the scale, I feel like I got away with something. I rarely stop and consider “how do I FEEEEEEEEL??????”

So here’s my experiment: I want to see how/if I would change if I didn’t weigh myself. For a whole year.

Yes, that’s right. One whole year scale-free.

Would I approach working out differently? Would I eat better just for the sake of eating better? How would I feel if I did things without consulting the Almighty Number first?

Would I talk more kindly to myself? Would I stop putting off things that I want to do now instead of “when I weigh xyz”? I want to know how I’ll approach life without worrying about the number on the scale.

Now, I know that I need some way to measure progress, so here’s what I’m going to do:

  • take body measurements every 3 months
  • use my Fitbit to work my way up to 10,000 steps per day
  • track the amount of push ups I can do once a month
  • track how long I can hold a plank once a month

I think those are some positive numbers to work for, don’t you?

The last time I stepped on the scale was Monday, July 15th, so I’m already ten days in. I think this will be interesting to see how it plays out. If for some reason I cave and decide to weigh myself, I’ll post it here honestly. This experiment isn’t just about staying off the scale, it’s about living without the number. It’s about living well.

Let the No Scale Experiment begin! 🙂

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a blog

I’ve been re-reading some of my old posts and it hit me today, just how far I have come. I’ve been writing this blog for almost two years now, and wow – my thinking has shifted more than I realized. I originally started this blog for accountability and for a place to just get stuff out of my head; little did I know it would transform me into a different, better person. The physical change has not been so drastic, but what’s going on inside is dramatically different.

Here’s a brief snap shot of how Jill’07 thought:

• I hate to sweat

• Exercise is torture

• I don’t want to give up my junk food

• I’m such a failure because I can’t lose 5 pounds

• I’m so fat

• I want what I want when I want it (which is right now, btw)

• I’m lonely

• I have no self esteem

• My life generally sucks

Yeah, she was real fun person to be around!! The changes have been gradual and I hadn’t even really realized some of them until I started reading the old posts and thinking about it, but here’s what Jill’09 thinks now:

I love to get a good sweat on

• My favorite time of day is when I can put on the mp3 player and zone out on my elliptical

• I’m snacking on grape tomatoes and cantaloupe and I love it!

• Too much junk food makes me ill.

• If I haven’t lost 5 pounds, it’s because what I’m currently doing isn’t working for me – NOT because I am a failure at anything.

• I’m curvy and I hold a lot of my weight in my lower half – I say that not as a criticism, it’s just a fact and no matter how thin I get, that’s how it’s always going to be. That’s how God made me and I’m fine with that.

• I still want what I want when I want it, but I know that if I keep working hard; eventually “it” will come to me (whatever it may be).

• I have a bunch of blog friends, and I’m making more friends IRL as well. If I’m feeling lonely it’s because I haven’t reached out and made the effort.

• I have waaaayyyy more self esteem and confidence now than I’ve had for the last 12 years, and weight loss has contributed only a small part to that.

• My life is actually pretty okay. God has blessed me way more than I deserve.

I’m glad I did a little reflecting today because it let me know that the small gradual changes can make a huge difference, and I’m also encouraged by the changes I have yet to make. If I keep blogging and reading your blogs and learning more about health and fitness, the changes will keep coming and they’ll be changes for the better I’m sure.

I’d like to keep going and analyze the route of my journey, but alas, I’m running out of time today to delve that deeply. I’ll have to save that for another day. I hope that as you go about your day, you’ll think about all the positive changes you have made and give yourselves a pat on the back. Celebrate yourself and the positive changes!

Happy Weekend ya’ll!