Fake People and Giving Up Our Joy

Fake People and Joy

I’ve been stressing the importance of eating clean whole foods in all of my messages. I am also an advocate of avoiding fake foods like trans fats as well as artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, and preservatives. The foods we eat are used by our body to regenerate itself and fuel bodily processes so fake foods clog these processes up and cause us to feel sick and tired. The body is meant to be able to handle and regulate the natural foods. All these fake foods just mess with your body and brain chemistry.

With our weakened health, it’s easier to lose focus on what’s important and lose our joy. I’m the worst about this. I’ve always been a quiet, easy to please, eager to please kinda gal. I’ve been very hard on myself and I take it very personally when someone is not happy with me. My shyness has always impeded my people skills and my ability to make friends and really connect with people. I sometimes find myself going back over conversations and wondering if what I said came out like I meant it to. Did it come out catty or mean?

I really care about people and want to help them reach their goals, but I have a hard time connecting with them and conveying that care. My lack of ability to connect with people also effects the way that I deal with (or should I say don’t deal with) stress. I like to just hold it all inside and dwell on it. Unfortunately when you don’t deal with stress very well, it affects your brain chemistry. Unscientifically, all those neurotransmitters get all messed up leading to depression.

Since I was a kid, I have suffered from irritable bowel syndrome due to stress and other food irritants and as well as on and off depression. Yes, I did have some things going on that made me stress and I didn’t deal with it well, but I think my brain chemistry is just a little easier to get messed up than others. Others have allergies that they have to be careful of and others have alcoholism that runs in their families. I have a tendency to get depressed. I lose focus of the good and focus on the bad. Yes, once I got to a certain point with my depression, I had to rely on medicine to fix my messed up brain chemistry, but most of the time I could have stopped it before it got to that point.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from dealing with and beating depression, it’s that no one can take our joy and our power. We have to give it to them. Little things start to add up and rob us of our joy that we feel from our own accomplishments. We all know people who are constantly negative and unpleasant to be around. They come out of the wood work especially around the time when you are trying to make a change for the good. Whether it’s eating healthier, drinking less alcohol, exercising more, or just trying to exchange one bad habit for good in any way, they have to have something to say. We’ll call these people the “French fry people.” They block all your good intentions the way that French fries clog your arteries.

Our society today has gotten to the point where the French fry people take everything that everyone else does and make it about them. Regular people say, “Really, you’re training for your first marathon? That sounds like a lot of work. Good for you!” French fry people have to say, “Really, you’re training for your first marathon? Ugh! Why? That sounds like the worst thing ever! I don’t even like to have to drive that far in my car!” Instead of, “Oh man, that’s awesome that you were able to say ‘No, thank you!’ to the tray of baked goods at the office party. I need some of your will power!” they have to say, “Oh man, that cake was sooo good. I can’t believe you didn’t have any. I can’t live without chocolate!” I won’t even get into the fact that what they really meant was, “I can’t delay instant gratification for the long term good side effects, and you’ll find me asleep in my cubicle or downing a pot of coffee in two hours when this sugar high wears off.” Sometimes I wonder if these people think that their greatest talents are converting oxygen to carbon dioxide and creating a bunch of hot air- so they have to do it as much as they can, everywhere they can. Why do these French fry people think that they have to chime in about your goals?

Honestly, most of the time these people are just jealous because you are a reflection of their weakness. You are doing something that they themselves can’t or won’t do so they have to make you feel bad about it. Or maybe you’re trying to do something that they don’t really care about or don’t find interesting so they have to tell you what a waste of time it is. It’s okay to tell these people that your life and hobbies are not about them. It’s okay to tell them that their opinion is just that, opinion, and not a statement of fact. It’s also okay to avoid these French fry people or cut them out of your life completely. Cathy Savage calls this the “Bless and Release.” Don’t be nasty to them, just let them go. Don’t hang out with them anymore. If it’s a family member, that’s a little harder, but you don’t have to talk to that person every day. You don’t have to give them the full details of your goals when you know they’re just going to be negative. Just pull back a little. They will probably eventually come around and either join you in your quest to better yourself or they’ll at least support you instead of sabotage you. If they don’t, at least you’re not wasting your time following them around trying to get their approval.

On another note, if our kids went to school and came home crying that someone had made fun of something about them we’d be so angry and incensed that someone would mess with our angels. We might even call the school or the bully’s parents and give them a piece of our minds, especially if it happened on a regular basis. Then, when clearer heads prevailed we’d sit our kids down and tell them that that person is just a bully and that they should ignore his or her comments and listen to the complements that they get on a regular basis from their teachers, family, and their real friends instead. Also, as adults, if someone were to say something to you about your friend behind their back, you’d more than likely stand up for your friend. However, we don’t do this for ourselves at all. We let others comments about us or attitudes toward us get under our skin and fester like an ingrown toenail.

That’s what happened to me time and time again. I didn’t deal with stress very well and I just kept letting it building up. I LET people, my lack of people skills, or situations steal my joy. Luckily, I had started exercising on a regular basis in college and then in the Army so I had the natural endorphins to help me fix the stress that was wreaking havoc on my emotions, but even exercise didn’t help me all the time. I truly believe that the great nutrition from the Isagenix shakes and supplements as well as eating clean have given my body and my mind what it needed to stay healthy. But even with the exercise and proper nutrition, the most important thing is my own attitude. I’ve decided that I’m going to keep my joy and my gratitude.

We as Americans are the most overfed yet undernourished, overmedicated yet chronically ill, abundant yet ungrateful society and we’re paying for it with our health. There are third world countries that have better health and more happiness than we do. Why? Gratitude! They remember what’s important and they’re thankful for what they have. They don’t dwell on what’s going on with everyone else.

So, as I’m getting ready for the New Year and preparing for my next competition season, my resolutions will not be just related to my physical goals or even those of growing my business. I truly want to be grateful for what I have. I want that to shine through in my connections with people. As a mom, I want to be an example of joy and gratitude to my kids.

I hope you’ll join me in my quest to get rid of the French fry people (the less people listen to them, the less they’ll talk). I also want to remember everything that I have to be grateful for, and be an example to my kids of gratitude and joy. Depressed and sad is no way to live.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Thanks, Jessica

Goal Setting

Goal Setting1

I want to write today about the importance of goal setting. Usually this would be something that people start thinking about as part of their New Year’s Resolutions. However, I want to get you thinking now so you don’t end up like 99% of the population who abandons their resolutions by about 3 months in the year.

In order to truly accomplish your goal you have to know why you want to reach that goal, you must have a good picture of what your goal really is, a plan of attack on how you’re going to accomplish that goal, and you also have to know what you’re going to do once you reach your goal. The two top New Year’s Resolutions are to lose weight and pay off debt so I’m going to focus on how to do both of those at the same time.

Your “WHY” is really important because this is what will keep you focused when you hit a rough patch. Here is a good quote by Kenneth H. Blanchard to explain why the “Why?” is so important. “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.”

If your “why” is not strong enough, you’re only interested and not really committed, you won’t get halfway to looking good in that bikini before you’re sidelined by the candy in the checkout line at the grocery store. If you want to lose weight, really sit down and think about why. Is it because you want to be healthier? Look better? Feel better? Have more energy? Get off of diabetes, blood pressure, or cholesterol medication? The best way to accomplish true and safe weight loss is through a real lifestyle change…That means gradually getting rid of all of the junk food… That means eating more vegetables and complex carbohydrates. That also means that once you reach your goal you have to continue eating real food and not eating junk food or else all your results will go down the drain. Are you willing to do that? Is your “Why?” strong enough to support a true lifestyle change?

Next, get a clear picture of your goal. My coach always focuses on making sure my goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based).

-Specific- YES: “I want to be able to wear a size 6 dress” or “I want to pay off two credit cards,” NO: I want to lose weight or I want to pay off debt.

-Measurable- YES: “I want to get my waist measurement down from 35 inches to 30 inches.” NO: “I want to lose inches off my waist.”

-Attainable- Can it be done? Having a goal of safely losing that last 20 pounds in 1 month is not attainable. Wanting to pay off $10,000 in debt in three months when you make $3,000 a month is not attainable (unless you’re going to get a second job).

-Realistic- Can/ will you do it? Expecting yourself to go from not working out at all to working out 5 or 6 days a week is not realistic and will set you up for failure when you get burned out. Cutting out all of your favorite foods in order to lose weight or increase your athletic performance is also setting yourself up for a big binge eating fest.

-Time-based- Give yourself a time-line as well as a dead-line. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a dead-line and then not make it. Things happen as we try to pay off debt, the A/C or hot water heater go out and so that credit card payment is not as big as you had wanted to make it. A family emergency may make you go out of town and far away from your healthy food and gym. Don’t give up, just do the best you can while you’re there. People are afraid to set deadlines because, “What if they don’t make them?” Well, that sounds like life to me. We still need to have goals and dead-lines.

A SMART goal for weight loss would be “I am currently a size 12 and I want to fit into my size 6 dress by my sister’s wedding 4 months from now.” This is a specific and measurable goal that can realistically be attained in the time-line without resorting to unhealthy measures or causing a big loss of lean-body mass.

We have our WHY? and our SMART goal. Now we need to get our game-plan. An important part of your game plan is your mindset. One of my favorite quotes about attitude is, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” by Thomas Jefferson. When you create a game plan that you can realistically stick to, you have to start with your attitude. Truly believe in yourself- that you can do it and that you are worth it.

One of the things that happen to all of us when we decide to accomplish a goal is that the temptations just become bigger. When you want to pay off debt, that sale sign is bigger “Regularly $60, now on sale for $20!” you get 25 emails a day in your inbox about an easy online sale that is just a click away. You have to have the right mental attitude and a strong Why? to walk by the sale rack or delete that email.

When you want to lose weight all you favorite junk food just calls your name. The guy in the cubicle next to you orders take-out from your favorite place for lunch. You discover a coupon for a great pizza deal in the mail on a busy night. These things just come out of the woodwork.

You have to be able to remember that nothing worth doing is easy. No one who has already gotten to where you want to be got there by taking a short-cut. That shirt that you don’t even need, that online special, the take-out lunch, the pizza, they’re all low-hanging fruit, or easily obtained gains that can be obtained by readily available means. You can get them easily without any effort. We have too much low hanging fruit in our society of instant gratification. We have to get our mindset right and keep focused on our goal. Once you see how good you feel not eating that junk food, once you take that money that you would have spent on trinkets to clutter up your house and start putting it to use for you instead of padding the store’s bottom-line, the temporary gratification of eating junk or buying stuff will truly become like low hanging fruit.

One of my favorite money experts, Mike Ramsey, talks about gazelle intensity when paying off debt. The analogy stems from the fact that a cheetah can run 70 to 75 mph and can accelerate faster than a sports car, but the gazelle still manages to escape in over ¾ of all observed cases because the cheetah’s speed is only in a straight-line. The gazelle will bob and weave until the cheetah gets tired and goes away. This is a good analogy for both weight loss and money problems because excess weight causes medical problems that cost many people their lives. Money problems also cause stress and lead to more divorces than any other issue.

However, even the gazelle cannot be intense 24/7 so you have to have balance when going after your goal with gazelle intensity. If it takes you 7 to 10 years to pay off all of your debt you have to be realistic about your expenses. You can’t cut out all date nights and family vacations for that long and expect to still know the people that live with you under the roof that you just paid off. Instead of going to an expensive restaurant, go to a cheaper local restaurant that still has good food, trade baby sitting with your neighbors, go to the dollar movies instead of paying $12/ ticket for the latest release.

If you have more than 100 pounds to lose, you have to do that with balance too. It might take more than a year to do it the right way so going through the house and throwing away every last bit of junk food and expecting everyone to cutting out all treats cold turkey might not be the most realistic approach. You have to do it with balance and with everyone in your family on board. Asking your kids to help you get healthier by not eating as much junk food is a lot better than saying, “We’re not eating anymore junk food again, ever!”

One of the biggest money grabbers is the grocery store. So much food is wasted every year. We buy 5 or 6 different kinds of cereal because each member of the family has their own favorites. Not only that but we buy the family sized boxes because they’re “such a good deal” and the bottom half of the box goes stale before we eat them. We have stuff in our refrigerators that is rotten and the food in our freezers has been there so long that it’s unrecognizable.

Here is where saving money can also help you lose weight. Take time every week to plan out your meals. Then make a list of groceries you need to make those meals and stick to the list. Have planned-leftovers that you use for lunch the next day instead of eventually throwing it away. Don’t buy 7 or 8 boxes of cereal when you’ll actually only eat 2 before they go stale, and definitely don’t buy the ones with lots of added sugars, colors, and flavors. The best way to save money at the grocery store and lose weight is to stock up on the foods at the perimeter of the store. You know, the ones that require refrigeration and have expiration dates in the next 30 days. They require refrigeration because they are living and thus are the best things to give a living body.

The stuff on the shelves on the interior, like canned fruits and vegetables, brown rice and beans, and whole grain bread can be good too, but keep the focus on the fresh stuff. How much money would you save if you stopped eating several bags of chips and drinking several 2-liters of soda a week? That is dead/ fake food that will not contribute to your health or your budget in anyway. If you let yourself have a few bites of real ice cream in the evening as you’re weaning yourself off the junk food you might not be tempted to indulge in a whole box of cookies at the end of the night. All of this stuff adds to your grocery bill as well as to your waistline.

Places like Wal-Mart are especially bad for trying to save money because they have everything together. They reel you in on the pretense of saving time only having to make one stop, but then you end up making lots of impulse purchase. “Oh look, a shirt for $10.88 and some shorts for $5.99! Who can beat that?” I can. Don’t buy it at all and save yourself the $16.87, the space in your already bulging closet, and the time that you’ll have to take to go through your closet later to get rid of stuff as well as the trip to Goodwill. Little things add up so quickly. Stay focused on your goal and keep your eye on the prize.

A true game-plan takes a lot of thought and planning. A lot of people will say that they don’t have that kind of time, but they find the time to watch hours and hours of TV every week, they’ll drive 10 mins to their favorite fast food joint, sit for 20 mins in the drive through line, and drive 10 mins back when they could have cooked a healthy lunch for themselves in half that time for less than half the price. Time management is crucial to the success of any goal. How bad do you want to accomplish your goal? What are you doing now that gets in the way of your goal?

I know we as wives and moms want to make our husband and kids happy so we sacrifice our precious free-time and run ourselves ragged taking them to all of their activities. Then there’s the “disapproving” looks from other moms because even though Johnny is in two different sports and piano lessons at the age of 4, he’s not in the new Mandarin immersion program that was started a few weeks ago. How is he ever going to get into that crazy competitive kindergarten program next year?

We don’t have to say yes to everything and we don’t have to compete with everyone else. Figure out what’s important to you, your family, and your goals. If you want to start eating healthier then you may have to make a few less weekend trips to the lake or only stay for one day instead of both so that you have the time you need to plan your menu, go grocery shopping, and do some food prep. Maybe take two vehicles and come home early by yourself. Let the kids stay at the lake with the hubby so you can really buckle down and compress 8 hours of work into only 4. Is it a sacrifice? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

Okay, you’ve lost the weight and you look good in that bikini for your beach vacation. Now what? If your answer is that you’re going to eat and drink everything that you haven’t had for the last six months because you’re on vacation, you might want to think again. Talk about “Holy bloat, Batman!” Yes, vacation does make it harder to stick to good nutrition and exercise but that doesn’t mean you should throw it out the window. When you start eating stuff that you haven’t had for months you have to do it slowly and in moderation. If not, you’re going to feel so bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish you won’t even be able to enjoy the last few days of your 6-day, 7 night vacation. Take it from someone who’s been there.

Once you get all your debt paid off what are you going to do with that extra money every month? If your answer is that you’re going to go back to buying all the junk that you did before, you’re going to end up back in debt with a house-full of stuff you don’t even know you have. Yes you can now go to the full-price theater guilt-free, but you have to really analyze what you’re doing with your money now. You want your hard-earned money to be benefitting your bottom-line. Not the theater’s. Not the store’s. Buy things because they serve a purpose. Go on nice vacations because you want to have a good time with your family and see someplace you’ve never seen before. Definitely have a plan to start saving and investing more. Also think about giving to charities. There are local, national, and international organizations that would be able to do so much with the $16.87 that you saved by not buying that shirt and shorts combo, especially if you gave once a week or even once a month.

Well, I guess I’ve talked enough about goal setting. I hope I gave you something to think about as well as a little motivation to really sit down and plan. I guarantee that if you do, this time next year you won’t even recognize yourself.

Questions? Comment? Please let me know.

Thanks, Jessica

Self-Image

Image

So many women want to lose weight because they hate their current bodies. I wish more women would learn to love the body that they are in right now no matter what its current size is. We are so wonderfully made and we accomplish so much on a daily basis we deserve more than to not be comfortable in our own skin.

As moms, we’re all working women, whether our jobs take us out of the home or not. Some of the smartest most driven women I have met are stay-at-home moms. Conversely, the other smart and driven women that I know are career-moms. My point is that every woman I have ever met is talented and beautiful in her own unique way. I just wish they believed it and that they could see what I see.

Unfortunately, they don’t believe it; they put themselves down and judge themselves against an unrealistic image that we are given by today’s media. We’ve come to believe that our worth is proportional to our outward appearance. This obsession leads to two extremes.

The first extreme is women that obsess about their appearance. This typically involves frequent yo-yo dieting characterized by crazy starvation diets and then binge eating, hours of cardio, or a combination of the two. They feel good when they are starving themselves and berate themselves for their binge attacks. Their time at the gym is a necessary evil and they feel bad when they miss a workout. They have unrealistic weight loss expectations and give up when their expectations are not met. Meanwhile, they are willing to try any fad-diet or skin care regimen that comes along.

The second extreme is women that don’t care at all about their appearance. I like to call these women mom-martyrs. They’ve thrown themselves into their family and/or jobs to the extent that they don’t even try to take care of themselves. You will find them mostly wearing sweatpants or clothes that are too big, their meals are typically whatever is left over from their kids’ plates, and they are proud of those two facts because it means that they are putting their family first and taking care of their kids. They’ll eventually get around to taking care of themselves when their kids are older.

Somewhere in the middle are women that have days where they relate to both extremes. However, I wish we could get rid of those two extremes. Neither of them does women a favor. I want us to be confident no matter what our size is right now.

We’ve all seen women out and about that just naturally draw your attention. They may not be the prettiest girl in the room or have the body of a model, but they feel confident in their own skin and that confidence radiates through in their smile and their attitude. They work the room like rock stars and everyone notices. They have confidence that does not depend on their size or age. We’ve also seen women that are beautiful by the media’s definition, but they are either so self-conscious of any perceived flaw or so mean to everyone else for their lack of physical perfection that they become unattractive. We should all strive to be like the first woman. We should see the beauty inside of us and be proud of what we’ve accomplished and what we can accomplish. If that confidence showed through, then we’d probably have fewer instances where we got mad at our boyfriend or spouse for checking out other women. He’d be too busy getting mad at the other men for checking out his date to notice other women.

I also want to take a moment to talk realistically about these images to which we compare ourselves. Too often we are looking at the scantily clad women in the Victoria’s Secret catalogue or any professional models and judging ourselves against those images.

First of all, it’s important to note that Victoria’s Secret models go through a rigorous program starting a month out to get to the stage for the famous annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion show. They do loads and loads of cardio, don’t eat solid foods, and don’t eat at all for days before the show. Doesn’t sound like anything I want to do.

Most fashion and fitness models don’t stay 100% photo-shoot ready all the time. They usually require about two weeks’ notice to be ready for the shoot. Plus, they’ve had lots of experience with posing to show off their bodies in the best light. In fact, if they were to strike that pose in real life, you’d probably laugh at them because it’d look awkward and unnatural, but those poses make the model’s curves more or less pronounced and accentuate all their best body parts. Even after all that work their photos are then airbrushed to become an even more unattainable image.

I know when I did my first photo-shoot after my second show it was done by a professional photographer and he really helped me get into some great poses. But even in that photo-shoot we took over 200 pictures and only got about 40 that I even liked. I had a mostly easy time of picking my top ten. The only adjusting that was done to the pictures was to the lighting. I didn’t want any pictures that were very unnatural.

It’s not just body type and size that women feel pressure about- it’s also age. In today’s pictures even the most beautiful models and actresses are airbrushed to remove any trace of wrinkles or sagging skin, which also causes women to look at their own bodies even more critically. This is also prevalent in Hollywood where actresses in their 20’s are leading ladies with men in their 30’s or 40’s. A striking example of this was Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern. He was 33 and she was 22 and they were both playing characters that in real life would have been about 35 or 36. Talk about giving women unrealistic expectations…

Because I have worked out very hard for years and have only recently gotten into eating clean my body tends to resist staying at the size I was during this shoot. I can pretty easily maintain my size 6, but the size 0 or 2 that I am at close to competition time is gone. Of course, this is mostly because I don’t follow my very strenuous competition diet, but pretty much as soon as I start adding in more food the weight comes right back. I am getting better and better about following my clean diet as the time goes on and I hope to soon be able to maintain an off-season physique that is closer to that of my competition physique. However, I’m including my photo-shoot picture as well as my current picture with no make-up and my hair not done so you can see the differences that about 10 pounds, perfect lighting, a spray on tan, and fixed hair and make-up can make in a person’s look. I did my own hair and make-up in the shoot so the difference is more obvious when you have a professional do it for you, but you still get the point.

What I really want for you to do is to cut yourself and others some slack sometimes. We all have bad hair days and even bad overall days, but don’t give up on yourself or compare yourself to some unrealistic image. Love the skin you’re in right now. Eat right and exercise because you love your body the way it is and you want to help it get healthier and more efficient, not because you want to get rid of that “muffin top” or those “thunder thighs.” If you can’t love yourself now, you’re not going to be happy when you lose that last 20 pounds either. You’re just going to find something else not to like. It took me a while to figure this out and I’m hoping it can be easier for you.

Plus, we as moms are modeling our attitudes for our children. If we are always unhappy with something to do with our appearance, our children will see that and will do the same.

I remember hearing Helen Hunt speak one time. She was talking about her daughter and how she loves her red hair. Helen told her daughter that she loved her hair and wished that she had hair like it. Her daughter then argued back that she wanted hair like her mom’s. This went back and forth for a few iterations until Helen said, “No, I like my hair just the way it is.” Then the little girl smiled and told her mom that she liked her own hair just the way it was, too. Now, this is just a simple example using hair, but it really illustrates the dynamic of how our own body image issues echo in those of our kids.

I think we all want our kids to grow up more confident in their own skin then we are, but in order for them to have that confidence they have to see it modeled by us. Confident and happy moms are more likely to have confident and happy kids just as much as kids who are raised in abusive households are more likely to be in abusive situations as adults.

So please, do yourself and your children a favor and love the skin that you’re in right now. Constantly strive to be your best and improve where you can, but enjoy the process. Definitely don’t put yourself down or be so critical of every little fault. Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Questions? Comments? Please ask.