Even before I became a Mother, as a personal trainer and life coach I was very passionate about helping women not be martyrs just because they had children (and spouses). Knowing from first hand experience (my childhood) that a women could be a mother and still achieve her career goals and have a personal life too, I always had the perspective that being a mother did not have to end my time as an individual who has interests, hobbies and needs.
Clearly I had (have) a remarkable mother who demonstrated through her actions that you can be a woman and a mother, so in 2005 I wrote and published my first book: Joan of Arc Is Dead. A Wake-Up Call For Women Who Sacrifice Too Much. Now 10 years later I find myself coaching a new crop of clients regarding this same issue. The chronic complaints I hear range from “I have no time to work out,” “my spouse and I haven’t been on a romantic date in months,” “I miss hanging out with my friends or shopping without the kids in tow,” or “there’s no time for me or my needs.”
In answer to all these complaints I say rubbish. YOU have set up your lives to place the needs of the children/spouse before your own. Many life coaches and self-help gurus utilize the analogy of airline safety instructions as an illustration of why this habit is detrimental. They say: place the oxygen mask over your nose and mouth FIRST, then assist your children. The reason for this is that if you pass out from lack of oxygen you’re no good to your children. Well it’s the same in life – if you are over-fat, over-stressed, unhealthy and/or (most-importantly) unhappy, what good are you to your family?
More significantly, what are you teaching your kids (especially daughters)? We tell our children they can be anything, do anything they set their minds to. But our actions as martyring mothers suggest that once you become a parent, those things you had passion for take a back seat to the needs of the child. If I were that child, I would wonder why bother pursuing my goals if once I had a child I had to stop participating in things I enjoy. Clearly there are times and situations that choices made by all parents put our needs last, but if you are consistently harried and/or angry that your needs and wishes are not being met, you must look at yourself for the responsibility.
Now if you’re yelling at your computer screen that there’s absolutely no room in your life for YOU, let me share my Mother’s journey (in brief). She was abandoned by my father and left with two children in a rented house in Los Angeles, her college degree unfinished, in the 1960’s when divorced women were not often welcome in most other women’s homes (for fear she would steal their man). She went on to complete her Master’s degree at UCLA, then obtain Ph.D. from USC (on a full scholarship) all the while working two jobs. On a shoe-string budget, she fed us (healthy choices I might add), clothed us (often sewing our clothes), kept a clean house, was always on time, and still managed to go out once or twice a month on dates. Although my brother and I were “latch-key kids” I always felt my mother was there if I needed her and she taught me how to cook, sew, clean, spent time making arts and crafts with us as well as reading books with me. So I think if she can do it under those circumstances, you can do it!
The easiest and best first step is to begin (or resume) exercising. Choose a time and whether it’s a gym or at home, let the entire family know (including yourself) that this is a non-negotiable appointment for YOU. No matter how tired, you must push yourself to keep this appointment with yourself and trust when I say that after a very short period it will become easier and the rewards are huge. From fat-loss to mood-elevation and stress reduction – you and your family will gain huge benefits from these results. I understand that many of you juggle school-age children with a full-time job, and that you honestly can’t imagine squeezing one minute nonetheless an hour out of your jam-packed schedule. But I promise if you stay open to the concept, and you can find ways to put your needs and wants into the family’s schedule.
So the next time you lament that you didn’t get to do something you really wanted or needed, stop and remind yourself that the quality of YOUR life matters too and it’s all in your capable hands.
All creatures on earth, whether human or animals, need food to live. But only humans have taken that need and turned it into an obsession. Of all the idiosyncrasies of food addictions, the one I find the most detrimental is that of “comfort food.” The idea that food is anything other than nourishment is again, exclusive only to humans.
The joy that some of us feel from food preparation and savoring of flavors (the artistic side of cuisine) is undeniably one of the most wonderful uses of some of our five senses (taste, smell and even vision). The flip side of this is that somehow society at large (pun intended) has equated certain foods to that of providing comfort.
There’s no question that all of us have childhood memories (and other situational sense memories) that are directly tied to food. A special recipe your mother created when you were sick, or on birthdays, as well as dishes we ate when we were “happy” or “in love” become go to foods when, as adults, life is not where we want it to be. While it’s true that certain foods create a chemical reaction that can elevate moods, the idea that food can fill up a painful hole within our hearts is a slippery slope. What makes this worse is that traditionally most “comfort foods” are high in fat, salt, and/or sugar.
I have many a client and friend that spends days or months being diligent about their nutritional intake, only to blow it all away because they had an emotional disturbance that they responded to by eating “comfort foods.” How many movies have shown women sitting in front of the TV crying while shoveling in an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s? Or how many nights are lonely bachelors depicted scarfing down fast food take out after a night of drinking? These movies reflect real life – raise your hand if you’ve ever done this.
As I always say, everything’s okay in moderation – including pints of ice cream and multiple Taco Bell indiscernible meat tacos, but the problem here is that a lot of people have a regular routine of eating these “bad for your body” foods every single time they’re upset, frustrated or sad.
If this behavior resonates with you, then I offer this advice: break up with food! Stop “dating” food to make you feel better, especially when in reality, it does just the opposite. Repeated indulgences in comfort food is no better for you than that guy or girl who belittles your self-esteem.
See nutrition as a tool that allows your body and brain to function and deal with life. I use the Car analogy – most people put medium to high-grade gasoline in their car, see to regular oil changes, and keep all fluids and tire pressure to their peak levels. If you do not, your car will not drive well, handle huge hills, stay safe on wet roads, and eventually stop running completely. Well guess what, your body is the same.
If you find it difficult to walk away from food when you’re emotionally upset, then at least make better choices – find a healthier “comfort” – or keep the quantities of the unhealthy choices to a much smaller amount. Better still, deal with the feelings that you’re hiding from, and once they’re faced, you’ll undoubtedly not even need the food for comfort. One last choice to consider is exercise. I’ve had some of the best cardio sessions when I’ve been angry. When the day before I was bored and tired after 10 minutes on the treadmill, suddenly when fueled by a situation / conversation that left me hot-headed, I ran for 30 minutes straight!
Whether your goal is fat loss or just improved health and fitness, breaking up with comfort foods is an essential step to reaching your goal and staying there.
Sooner or later all of us find that one aspect or another of our lives has been dulled by routine and habit and that stagnation nags at us in the form of discontent and/or depression. If enough areas of your life are squeezed into that self-orchestrated “box” you may find that you feel stuck, bored, and frustrated yet helpless to make a change. This is when you need to not only think outside the box, but blast the walls of the box apart!
My personal forte and mode of operating for myself and as a personal trainer, life coach, and sounding board to friends and family is to always think outside the box. I say walls, rules, and “the norm” are meant to be broken if it helps you get from point A to B and beyond without hurting anyone.
So whether it’s a dead-end job, a dysfunctional relationship, or discontent with the condition/shape of your body, you CAN make a change if you’re willing to look past the four walls you’ve decided are mandatory, and become creative with your options and your abilities.
Start with the “kitchen sink” method: contemplate all options and ideas, no matter how big, small or crazy you might think they are. Write them down, stare at these ideas without casting out “yeah buts” or “there’s no way.” It’s like art, sometimes you have to simply start doodling for the creative juices to flow. Suddenly you’ll see the light, you’ll feel the inspiration where your brain actually says hey that might be possible.
Then map out a plan that takes you out of the box and onto a path of exploration and change. Focus on one step at a time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed – as change can be unsettling and overwhelming for many of us. Continue to remind yourself of how good it feels to be moving again and pat yourself on the back for being creative and making even a small change. That self-love and encouragement will go along way to silencing the fears that automatically rear up when we shake things up in our world.
Lastly, remember that there’s no time-clock here. There’s also nothing to prove to anyone but yourself. You deserve to be happier and if that means busting the box to do so, that’s not only okay, but awesome! However long it takes, slow movement is better than stagnation.
Need ideas or help finding getting out of any of life’s boxes, write to me – I can always be found somewhere outside the box.
So you want to change your body, or become more healthy inside and out, but the idea of radically altering your nutrition, and squeezing non-existent time out of your schedule to exercise has you feeling defeated before you start? Well, you are not alone. This is probably the most common reason that periodically renewed commitments to achieving fitness fails for some many (along with those silly summer diets).
Well allow me to suggest something novel: make just ONE change. That’s not so hard, eh? But what difference can that make? you ask. My answer: you’d be surprised.
My nephew, who is not known for being a healthy eater (hates vegetables), and who has very limited time for exercise, took it upon himself to stop eating sugar (sodas, sweets, etc.) and add in 12 minutes of exercise on the weekdays. Within two weeks he’d seen and felt a difference in how his clothes fit (i.e., he lost “weight”, but you as you know I call that losing “fat”).
Now you might note that this constitutes two changes. But I believe he would have seen a difference with just the one change (nixing the sugar). The speed with which he lost body fat was a tad faster for adding in the second change (exercising).
Almost anyone can commit to and maintain a change of one thing being eliminated or added. If you do not choose to change your calorie intake — but do ad in a minimum, yet effective amount of exercise – you will lose a little body fat, at least initially. Same goes for eliminating one higher-caloric food category (i.e., sugar, bread, starches – whatever you seem to overdue the most). (Note: you can also opt to significantly reduce said food, so that you do not binge later because you’ve abstained completely from something you love and crave.)
I stated that you would only initially see a reduction because eventually you will plateau and no longer lose fat. My recommendation therefore is that after four weeks of the first change, you increase said change or add another. Example: 12 minutes of exercise should be increased to 15-20 minutes; or keep the sugar out but now reduce the quantity of starchy high-glycemic foods (like white bread, white rice, white pasta).
So take heart if you feel frustrated that “dieting” or attempting to stick with an exercise routine are just not cutting it for you. Try this single elimination or addition and you will undoubtedly achieve some success – and success is the best motivator for continued change which begets more success. Before you know it you can achieve your goals!