The Most Successful Fat-Loss Plan of My Life

Found on bendifulblog.com

Right out the gate, let me be clear about one thing: I don’t believe in the term ‘weight loss’ as a healthy mindset.  Lots of things add up to your body weight — organs, muscle, bones, fluids that keep you alive.  And believe me, you wouldn’t want to trade your heart to weigh a few less pounds.

Found on stylecraze.com

But realistically, a lot of people gain muscle when they lose fat, and then they get discouraged because the scale they check daily says they’re ‘gaining weight’.  I don’t own a scale.  Instead, I have gone from a size 18 to a 16 to a 14 (with 2 new belt holes I had to create ’cause I’d run out of old ones).  And that’s just been in ten weeks.  Even more dramatic is how I look and feel.

Found on fitgirlsdiary.com

So stop chasing a weight goal and start pursuing your best, most perfect self.  Believe me, weight from muscle looks SEXY.
So, when I decided to FINALLY get to my perfect shape I knew I needed to do something I’d never done (because I wanted to get something I’d never gotten before).  Some goal-setting plans talk about assuming it will be HARDER than you think.  I do believe that’s a good way to go.  I assumed it would be the hardest task of my life (so far) to achieve one of the greatest successes of my life — and you should too.

Found on trendhunter.com

Which is why you need to make sure you know your goal and really, really want it — for yourself.  Don’t do it just because your friend’s going on a diet, you want to impress some hot guy, or you think you ‘should’ for health.  You have to want it in your marrow.
You have to be willing to do anything (that’s healthy and safe) for this goal.  If you want it, you CAN achieve it.  After my success with earlier goals this year (getting my first tattoo etc), I went about this from the viewpoint — ‘They can slow you down, but they can’t stop you.’
I’m hungry right now.  I’m sitting in a car dealership getting my oil changed (this was true for the first draft).  I can’t eat their free popcorn or walk over to the Sonic for a shake as was my tradition — and I LOVE it.  I got myself an unsweetened tea before I came here and I’m so, so excited about how I’ll look and feel by my birthday (Nov. 1st).
I don’t even want the shake — I want the change.
So, here’s what I’ve been up to, but bear in mind that the successful diet is the one you can stick to.  There’s nothing magic about what I’m doing.  The magic comes from the dedication, the excitement, and the positivity with which I’m pursuing this goal.  So banish ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary, and know that the math works and you can do anything you set your mind to — you just have to want it badly enough.  And if you say you can’t give up a favorite food, imagine if your children or whomever you love most would drop dead if you took one bite of refined sugar.  You would NEVER touch sugar again — it just wouldn’t be a choice; you’d find another way to live.  So don’t say you ‘can’t’ — say you choose not to, or that you choose to.  Because you can do this.

physicalculturist.ca

Clean Eating —
This is the way you lose excess fat: a calorie deficit.  That’s it.  And while exercising can help the process, you basically have to eat less while your body reverses years of bad eating (in the early days of this plan, I sometimes liked to say ‘today my good eating and exercising will make up for June 2002’ or ‘November 1998’.  This made the day seem big and important and reminded me what I was doing at a certain month and year and how I eat better now than I did then.
Now, I don’t like counting calories and I’m a world class exception-maker (‘a customer yelled at me; now I deserve a shake’).
So I decided to ‘go paleo’ — 100%, for six months.  You can learn more about paleo here, but the main gist is that (before agriculture) our bodies spent hundreds of thousands of years adjusting to us being hunter-gatherers — so vegetables, lean meats, fruits, nuts, and eggs tend to make our bodies happy and healthy.  By the same rational — grains, dairy, and refined sugar are not foods our bodies have yet evolved to process well, and so they can make us sluggish, fat, and sick.

Found on buzzfeed.com

What does this means for the modern diet-seeker (because a GOOD diet is something you want to be on for the rest of your life, not a fad to be discarded as soon as you goal is reached)?
It means that you can eat almost as much as you want if you’re paleo — just the kind of foods you can eat are limited.  So a lovely homemade meal of salmon, kale, and broccoli?  Eat as much as you want.  For me, having good food always available (even a can of tuna), means I never really, really feel deprived.
So I’m eating smoothies or eggs for breakfast (yes, I drink a little fruit juice and kefir which isn’t quite paleo).  I’m also loving salads, and having great dinners of fish, shrimp, and chicken along with copious servings of veggies.
For sweet snacks, paleo pancakes with honey, paleo chocolate pudding, 100% juice pops, and chocolate milk (almond milk, raw cocoa, and a bit of honey), and smoothies with raw cocoa, are all good options.
My sister Sarah and I have also got in the habit of taking vitamin C, D, E, Magnesium, and Fish Oil — I don’t know if it helps, but it seems nice.
I know it’s easy to think — bleh!  Salads and fruit, oh joy.  I’ve felt that way in the past too, but keep in mind one thing: your palette is used to unhealthy fats, refined sugars, and heavy flavorings.
After just a few weeks, you body resets (even after a lifetime of fast food eating), and suddenly you don’t want or need sugar in the same way anymore.  I remember just a few weeks into my no-sugar plan a co-worker was leaving and they had a giant cookies-and-cream cake for her going away party.  I was trapped in a tiny room with this giant cake — and already, I didn’t want it.  Not really.  Those cakes were always such a sugar-high treat, but already it didn’t look like REAL food to me.
REAL FOOD:

thefitfork.com

 NOT REAL FOOD:

wefollowpics.com

I’ve been looking for my next sugar ‘hit’ most of my adult life.  That’s sad to admit.  But even when sipping a shake I’d be wondering what was next.  So, at least once in your life, take a break from being addicted to sugar, eat real, recognizable food for a few weeks, and see how you feel.
You owe it to yourself to know what feeling awesome feels like.
Strength Training —

Found on etsy.com

In a recent large study, two groups both lost weight while exercising, but the first group did only cardio and lost equal amounts of fat and muscle, while group two only did strength training and lost only fat.  Strength training can make that big of a difference.
Basically, strength training makes your muscles grow and that tells your body that you need strong muscles and are using them all the time, so then your body grabs fat instead.  With cardio, you’ll lose more, but more of everything.  For me, a balance is good and I enjoy both.
I have a friend who has lost a LOT of weight over the last nine months.  That’s great, but they only reduced calories and did no exercise so they look a little ‘wasted away’ right now.  It’s great to get the dangerous weight off, and now he has started exercising, but for myself I want to feel strong AND sleek, every step of the way.
So I’ve found some core exercises online to strengthen my torso and I’m also lifting free weights.  I do three sets of the five exercises (all of which are done while lying down, so it’s hard to say I’m too tired to lie on the floor 😉 ).  It takes about 20-30 minutes.
I’m looking lean and feeling very strong.  I really like seeing my arms and torso get hard and sleek.  And please forget the ‘myth’ of getting too muscular, you’re not gong to wake up one day and look like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger — but you might wake up one morning with a killer bod.
Cardio —
Ah, I love me some cardio.  Specifically, I love me some cycling.  Sarah and I cycle three times a week (heat waves depending) going anywhere from six miles to thirty miles at a time.  And it is giving me strong, slim legs, great lungs, and a great heart.  That said, even though I think cycling is a perfect exercise, you need to find the perfect exercise for you.
Anything that gets your heart rate up, and you’d love to do for an hour or more at a time can be great — I just ask that you keep trying activities until you find at least one you love.
Actually, the secret to all this is filling your life with things you love, and cut out the things that stress you out.
  • Any healthy diet (based around veggies) can work; you just need to find real foods you can enjoy eating, day in and day out.
  • Find strength training exercises that are fun, make you feel kick-ass, and get the results you wouldn’t want to live without.
  • Do cardio that you would do for fun even if it wasn’t good for you.
In the end, just never give up — either on yourself or your potential.  It’s taken me a long time to put all the pieces together, but I never gave up on improving myself.  Don’t see yourself as ‘having’ to diet and exercise, see yourself as getting to train up to be stronger, sleeker, and more awesome than you’ve been in your whole life.  I’ve been working toward improving my body for over ten years.  I’ve had setbacks but I’ve never been at such an exciting place as I am now.
So do a little research, steer clear of too-good-to-be-true promises, and get prepared to work harder than you ever have before.
And then get ready to change everything — starting with yourself.

Found on engelta.hubpages.com

Found on invisiblechildren.com

Back — and Better Than Ever

Hi there.  Remember me?  Sorry for the long absence since my last post, but I hope once you hear what I’ve been up to,  you’ll approve.

Found on graphicdesignjunction.com

First  of all, I want to say thank you to each and every person who follows this blog.  When I started writing here, I was imaging you all — you wonderful, creative, and inspiring individuals who I’m honored to write to — but I had no idea how fast this would come together or what fun I would have.
And I feel like this is a big moment of change for a lot of us.  My life is changing more than it ever has and in wonderful ways (more on that in my next post), and I feel like our journey together is also beginning an exciting new phase . . . if you’re willing to continue adventuring with me that is, and I hope you are.  It’s going to be very exciting.

One reason I’ve been MIA recently is that I made you a present.  Oh, I know, I shouldn’t have.  But you guys are too awesome and I just want to share everything helpful I can with you.
So, without further ado, I present my 2013 self improvement book, How to Come Alive: A Guidebook to Living Your Dreams — now available as a FREE WEBSITE with fun links and awesome quote/pictures.
Cover by Sarah Cerulean madnessofart@gmail.com

Cover by Sarah Cerulean
madnessofart@gmail.com

My book will still be available on Amazon as a paperback or an ebook (and it’s a charmer), but I want everyone to be able to dig in, see how they like it, and share it without the awkwardness that comes from trying to turn a work of love into a dollar sign — and I do love you all and want to see you succeed beyond even your wildest dreams.  And if my book can help you in even a tiny way, then it will have succeeded in its purpose.
In a nutshell, How to Come Alive is the twenty-five ideas that have helped me most in living the life of my dreams.  Even though I have big goals I’m working on right now, I’m already tremendously happy in my life and it’s not just luck — it’s moving continuously toward those very things that make me feel most alive.
A word about consumerism: I love buying things from people and companies that I love and that do great work, and I do think it’s a shame if we start to believe that everything should be free.  That said, I hate the fearful, mercenary attitude that I see in some creative self promoters.  They are afraid they can’t make a living at this, so they get ‘tough-minded’, and you feel as if they are asking to turn out your pockets to pay for their coffee habit.  Nobody wins.

Found on laurenconrad.com

For myself, I reject the status quo.  I’ve worked hard on my craft for 16 years.  I love writing.  And you know what?  I’m going to be just fine.  In fact, I’m going to be awesome.  This is what I was put on Earth to do, and one day you’ll say you knew me when — and none of that awesome success is dependent on me tweeting ‘AVAIL ON AMAZON 99CENTS NOW!’, asking a few hundred nice strangers to buy my book, or trying to guilt people into helping me mainline caffeine.
What I want, much more than money, more even than to make this calling my vocation — what I want most is to share the magic, joy, beauty, and perfection of life with you.  This world is amazing, you are amazing, I am amazing.  So if you get a chance, visit my ‘Come Alive‘ site, look for something that moves you, and start living the life of your dreams.  Cause if I can do it, flippin’ believe you can do it.
I will ask one thing — if you enjoy what I do and know of someone else who might enjoy it, share it.  And I promise to keep sharing on this website the awesome, magical things I find that inspire me, and together, we’ll keep moving forward toward a future so bright it burns our eyes.
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Thanks again for making the first two years so enjoyable.  I look forward to many more.
Now go enjoy your present — inspirationlivingdreams.wordpress.com.

5 Ways to Love Yourself and Reveal Your Awesome

WARNING: A little extra language in the pictures of this post — because I was feeling passionate!

In life there are two pulls — the urge to become more and the necessity of loving yourself as is.  I don’t believe these forces are incompatible but we too often tell our story as ‘I’m broken and I must fix myself.’

But we’re not broken.  We are spiritual beings having a physical experience and our bodies can shatter, we can grow tired, we may even get lost.  And we can definitely make mistakes.  But we can’t break.  And at our soul level there is something so fundamentally strong and beautiful and full of glorious purpose that it burns brightly our whole lives and we cannot lessen its glow one iota — we can only hide it from the world and even ourselves.

We lose sight of the things that make us beautiful and make us dream.  We sell our days for power and money, and give away the peace of night in exchange for fears and insecurity.

Found on wisdom-square.com

There was no grand scheme, no master plan to build a society that told us, from birth to death, that we are not good enough.  Companies just sold things, and advertisers discovered that praying on our fears, playing to our vanities, and distorting our dreams sold a lot of soda.  And cars.  And weight loss devices.

An unintentional side effect of this effective advertising is, on a massive level, unconscious self-loathing (oops!).  And before you think I overstate my case, I’ll ask ‘Are you happy with the shape of your body?’  ‘How often do you wish you had more money?’  ‘Do you think other people have more fun, more vibrant social lives than you?’  Or as my sister put it, she grew up thinking you couldn’t be the hero of the story unless you were ‘the pretty one’.

And having to grow up at school, trapped in a building with a bunch of other confused kids doesn’t help.  So we emerge, blinking, into the strong sunlight of adulthood and look around, lost.  And yet we often still try, still push toward our dreams and our heart’s desires.

But the road is long, and we stumble, then retreat.  And somewhere along the way we can grow cold, or even cruel.  We gain weight and believe ourselves maybe just the ‘sassy friend’ instead of the luminous heroine.  I’ve had pretty good self esteem for a few years now (starting my groups People Who Have Come Alive & the Athens Writers Association was a big turning point for me), but even I was thrown backwards, back to TV show expectations of my youth recently when I fell for someone and wondered ‘Could I even be seen as attractive to him?’ And I’ve worked on this stuff for years!  But billions of dollars have been spent in the same time span to tell me I lack something, or many things.

So cover our glow in armor, in hardheartedness, in shrouds.  We develop traits we don’t like, and these become the weak places where we also build up our strongest defenses.  And somewhere along the way, we believe a myth we have helped write, the story of why we don’t deserve success — in business, in love, or in life.

Before I started my groups, my self publishing, or even a lot of my self improvement, I too had a myth.  I was a ‘nice’ girl who was too shy for groups, too boring to have friends, and too ugly (read fat) to have a boyfriend.  It hurts and bewilders me now to write these words, because I never expressed them to anyone back then, but none the less, it was a story — a reason — that I used to explain my life.  The truth was I was quiet and introspective, and curvy (and still am).

So what changed my outlook?  I think I just realized that I had felt and wrestled with these feelings, these ‘lacks’, most of my adult life, so it followed that I could be having exactly the same conversations with myself in 10, or 20, or 30 years.  I didn’t want that and so I decided to take action — bringing the people I wanted to know together, speaking even when my voice shook, and building a body I could love — with or without a man to enjoy it with.

So how do you let go of these brainwashed ideals and layers of armor?  How do you honor how awesome you are and know how far you can go?

5 Ways to Love Yourself and Reveal Your Awesome

  1. Start questioning your authorities.  When you think, ‘I need to lose weight’ — STOP.   Ask yourself where this desire is coming from — love or fear?  Do you love dancing around, and feeling great with tons of energy?  Or do you read magazines and watch shows that take 1% of the human population and then Photoshop and light them to look like 0% naturally do?  If you think you need more success (and money) ask yourself why.  Will that really make something inside you different and happier or have you just been told the validation of life is cha-ching! cash?  After you start questioning your sources, consider cutting the toxic ones out of your life while looking at things from a new perspective (read blogs about people beating anorexia or helping children in disadvantaged countries, watch foreign films, find quotes and people that build you up, read bios of great historical figures).  And when a person you know offers their opinion, always ask yourself, ‘Are they someone I want to emulate, to aspire to be?’
  2. Make time for what makes you awesome.  So often we only work on our weaknesses.  In the book Now, Discover Your Strengths, the authors talk about how you want to shore up your weaknesses, but only enough that they don’t slow you down (they use an example of Tiger Woods improving his short game so it would not detract from his amazing long swings that got him to the green so quickly).  The takeaway was that you are never going to be amazing because of your weaknesses — it’s your unique strengths that will blow people away.  So take pride in the things that come easily to you, delve into the hobbies and sports that you excel at (I once told my sister that I felt like I was ‘made’ for cycling — and that is a powerful feeling, almost like you’re cheating).  In the same way, I didn’t really ‘fix’ my character flaws, I just walked away from them and focused on stuff I rock at — and I’ve never looked back.
  3.  Get healthy.  Seriously, throw out the scale (it’s a horrible measure of health), and forget about diets (these temporary things you hate) while embracing diet (a lifelong way of eating that makes you feel great).  So much self esteem and endorphins lie on the other side of exercise and eating right.  Also — weed, drinking, and excessive sugar can all be enjoyed, but they can also become a crutch that makes us feel powerless and reliant on their mood enhancements.  And I know smokers already feel beat up upon, but I really do feel like that addiction unfairly makes you feel powerless — a slave to nicotine — many times a day, so I hope, if you smoke, you find out how powerful you are and break that habit into a million pieces.
  4.  Become an inspiration to others.  Write a book.  Lead a cause.  Start a group.  Blog about fitness.  Mentor a child.  Follow your dream so hard that others stare in wonder.  When I started my groups, a strange thing happened: people started telling me how awesome I was, and how I was inspiring them.  I felt there must be some mistake, but no — I was just living my life but even what I considered small acts — hosting a meeting, sharing what I knew, encouraging people with a few words — others saw a value to that and spoke up about it.  This inspired me to do more — publish a book, give a public reading — because I realized that we all have fears and insecurities and the more ‘fake it till you make it’ I did, the more bold and brave they would become in their own lives.  Suddenly, being awesome wasn’t about just me.
  5. Speak to yourself with love.  Not get all psychological on you, but there’s only one person watching everything you do and commenting on how you do it.  It’s you.  And it was a real wake-up call the first time I read something like ‘If you wouldn’t speak to a small child like that, why would you speak to your inner child that way?’  It’s really hard to live an inspiring life if someone is degrading you all the time.  So, give yourself a break.  It’s been shown in studies that being ‘hard line’ or tough with yourself does not improve your willpower or results.  In fact, the opposite is true.  You are already doing great things — give yourself some love.

So start seeing yourself as beautiful.

Fall in love with who you are at your silliest and most sublime.

Forgive the actions and thoughts of your past and know they are not you.

Make choices that reveal your inner glory and magnificent joy.

Say “Screw you!” to any society that hasn’t gotten on board with your level of sexy, awesomeness, or lifestyle.

Heal your body and free your mind.

And lastly, when you feel imperfect, remember the words of Leonard Cohen — “There is crack in everything . . .

The Things That Make You Scared Are the Things That Make You Dream

― Ellen Johnson

Quote by Ellen Johnson

Since Black Friday, I have been working hard every day to launch myself forward toward the life of my dreams.  Exercising, yoga, and especially doing a lot of writing (it is my passion and life’s purpose after all!).

What I didn’t plan on, was how freaking scary it was going to be.

Found on loveandlaceblog.com

Found on loveandlaceblog.com

It’s scary.  It’s scary not to know how you’ll look in a year or where you’ll end up living or what job you’ll be doing.  Or who you’ll be with.

As soon as I realized I was creating all this forward momentum, I realized I needed a destination.  Boy, then did it hit the fan.

First a little background.  Ever since our parents broke up and then my Mother died (about ten years ago) by sister and I have sought stability.  Just making things calm, and safe, and comfortable for ourselves and each other.  And we’ve been spectacularly successful.  Now though, it’s a time of change.  And when I started thinking about my future, I realized I wasn’t sure what I really wanted.

Was I still a novelist foremost?  What about my inspirational and self help writing?  What about my unceasing love of TV and intrigue with the idea of writing teleplays?

Did I want to travel most?  Settle down in an amazing new place?  Or stay in Athens, GA?

Was I ready for a big new step if I fall in love?  Or did I just want to run around the world for a while and have adventures?

Clearly, for all I’d dreamed about my life after retail and working as a full time writer, when faced with the idea of it actually coming to pass, I simply had no idea.

Found on glogster.com

Fear is a natural response to the unknown.  But, we are not living in the wild.  There are no bears and wolves around (for most of us).  Fear should not be a red stop light, a firm ‘No!  Go back, you fool!’  Instead, it just tells you that you are stepping onto unknown ground.  For me, in the weeks since this started, there have been five main types of fear (see if you too recognize these as you step off the well-worn path toward the life you were destined for) —

Five Fears That Prove You’re Doing Something Right

  1. Fear of Failure.  Right off the bat, I thought “What if I set this big goal, tell people about it, and can’t do it?  What if I belly flop?  And most importantly, how will I stay positive if I’m a failure?  This is probably the fear that stops 90% of cool, amazing, incredible things from being made and stops more discoveries of best friends, soul mates, and mentors than any other.  But the truth is, even big failures don’t really get much traction — my Athens Writers Association had a reading once where almost no one showed up.  It wasn’t fun at the time, but we learned something about how to do it better, and it doesn’t mean much when held up against all our successes.  The best advice for this kind of fear is ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway.’  The only way to do anything worthwhile is to realize the price of failure is small, no one’s getting eaten, and the rest of the world isn’t really going to pay your one act that much mind.  What they’re responding to is that you’re living a life of action.  I fail in tons of ways all the time (eating habits, not being as perfectly kind as I could be, trying to cheat by counting reading ‘The Hobbit’ as ‘writing time’) and yet many people tell me I inspire them.  People will forget the minute and remember that you did something they were afraid to even try.

    Found on onelifewords.tumblr.com

  2. Fear of Success.  Now this one may seem silly on the surface, but it’s actually quite reasonable: our whole lives are constructed around things we know how to do, and to handle.  Think about it — you do what works.  You know how to drive but not a stick-shift, so your car’s automatic.  You don’t have to like your job, but you probably could do it with your eyes closed.  Even bad situations, like being in debt, you’re probably comfortable with.  You only change things that fall outside your comfort zone.  House’s drafty?  That’s fine.  Roof fallen in?  You’re gonna call someone (my roof is fine BTW 😉 ).  So when the idea of wild, mad success comes around (and that’s the kind that falls into your lap when you start living the life of your dreams), of course it’s scary.  You don’t know how to do that.  How would having a great husband or wife fit into your routine, your relationships with other friends, your alone time?  Would you like working at your dream company?  Would you be good enough?  If it all was going great, would something horrible happen?   I recently was reading part of my new novel Society & Civility to finish up my writing time late one night.  But then I still had a bit of time left and so opened up my teleplay from the summer, called Family Lines and about a family of demon hunters.  I’d only written 20 pages (for an hour long pilot) and had quit, thinking it wasn’t going well and I sucked.  But I reread those 20 pages that night and — they scared the crap out of me.  They were good, very good (in my approximation).  So what does that mean for my future?  The best way to dispel this fear is with feelings of gratitude and excitement: you are in this wonderful, unique spot to change your life and make the world a better place (following your dreams always makes the world a better place).  And the truth is, you can be comfortable in loving relationships, working your dream job, and having a life of adventures, or you can be comfortable with just what you’re doing, right now, for the rest of your life.  Your choice.

    Found on whisper.sh

  3. Fear of Looking a Fool /Upsetting People / Inconveniencing People.  I’m not cheating by rolling all of these fears into one, I recently felt them all from a single act.  I wrote to someone who’s an inspiration to me, someone I’d actually like to be friends with — and then I felt really uncomfortable.  I wanted to let them know their work inspired me, but did I go too far, sound over the top?  Did I scare them by being weird (I’m on a journey to be more open and honest and that seems to be a little unfiltered and frightening — at least to me)?  And worst of all did I seem unhingled?  A hanger-on?  A stalker? (I’ve been a stocker for years in big box stores, but that’s spelled a little differently).  In truth though, I am none of those fears, simply someone inspired, and whether or not they respond, they probably don’t think anything bad about me.  This fear is about staying small, nondescript, and not making waves.  Your friends, your family, strangers you accost on the internet — they all have a way they’re most more comfortable with you being and that is just how you are now.  If you get fit, what does that say about their lives?  You move across the country for that dream job, where does that leave Movie Night?  You express your feelings (for any one in any way) and suddenly they have a new issue: how to respond to you (and their day was already full up).  The only thing I can say here is, treat others how you would want to be treated.  Having my friend get fit would be great; having them say ‘You’d look so much better 20 pounds lighter’ would not.  Having someone write that I inspired them would be a boon to me; having a ‘fan’ say we must write a novel together, share a house (and more) would get a quick trip to my banned email list.  So don’t worry, just be daring and send some good into the world.
  4. Fear of Hard Work.  Now, I’ll expound all day and all night on the importance of working hard, but even I have my limits.  And that is what I’m trying to change.  I’ve been hitting this exercise/yoga/writing goal for weeks and that’s going okay, but the thought of digging back into editing my two new novels scares me (and writing for TV, well, we don’t even talk about that…).  This is related to fear #1 but a little different.  It’s knowing you can do something, but being unsure if you want to put into it the Herculean effort required.  I’ll never forget how when I started editing my first novel, I was convinced I was doing something wrong; the editing was making the book much better but it was too hard.  Surely I’d missed a step, or didn’t know a trick?  Truth is, everything you love was created with an inordinate amount of elbow grease.  You want to create something people love and will cherish?  That’s reason enough to work past this fear.

    quotes.lifehack.org

  5. Fear of Leaving People Behind.  As I mentioned in fear #2, this could be moving across the country, but I’m thinking more in an emotional sense.  I like the people I work with at my ‘regular’ job.  I love my friends.  I worship my sister.  And if I change, what happens to them?  Will they like who I become?  Will our paths diverge?  I feel that this period of growth will unsettle a few relationships (just as a child can feel ‘growing pains’ as their legs lengthen), but I also feel strongly that the best thing I can ever do for them, the kindest act I can bestow, is to become as wonderful and amazing and perfect a me as I can be.  I didn’t start this.  My friends and mentors inspired me to greatness, and I hope to inspire others.  Think of yourself as leading the charge into a wonderful new adventure.  I’m reluctant when plans suddenly change and my day is altered by a friend’s suggestion, but I’m always happy (after a bit of grumbling) to leap on board and then I have an amazing day, usually one of the best of the year .  Give your friends the same time to adjust and a chance to join in the fun.

In the end, it all means that, when you get serious about living your dreams, the world gets big and exciting fast.  I’ve only been at this for a few weeks and already it’s getting crazy.  What will a few more months bring?

The most exciting thing, the thing I wish I could transmute to you, is how fast you can start to change your life and that each challenge and fear can be met and mastered.

I don’t have all the answers yet.  Heck, I don’t even know most of the questions.  But I am so scared and so excited.

Because I’m living a life that matters.  And I’m getting braver every day.

How I got Healthier (and You Can Too)

My friend Jill Hartmann-Roberts recently asked me for some info about the health and fitness things I’ve been excited about in the past couple of years and I thought, ‘Why not share this info with all of you?’

First of all, know that whatever health, body, mental or other challenges you’re facing, I completely believe good food, exercise, and giving yourself peaceful, quiet time can improve your life.  Some people have problems that keep them from the activities mentioned here, but most of us (thankfully) don’t — and even if you do, there is probably something, even just looking out a window, that could improve the quality of your life.  As always, you may want to talk to your doctor before making any of these big changes (he’d probably love to hear some good news).

Tiny bit of backstory — I grew up loving fried foods, sweets, and thought I was a ‘meat & potatoes’ girl.  I was also significantly heavier than I am now.  This change did not come all at once but by slowly starting to add in more and more good habits over the years.  So start small but be excited that your happiest, healthiest body may still be ahead of you.  My dad’s 59 and he just spent 8 and 1/2 hours kayaking on a river — you may say he has good genes but he also eats the healthiest and exercises more than anyone I know.  Where do you want your body to be at 59?

So, here’s what I’ve been doing in the last couple of years to take my body to the next level (this may be a little advanced for some people so remember that even half measures will get you going in the right direction) —

Cutting Back on Sugar

These days, I don’t really keep anything with refined sugar in the house.  When I want to make an exception (like a shake), I have to go out and buy it.  I’ve really been working to replace my desire for refined sugars with natural sugars like fruits, fruit juice, date-related products, and sometimes coconut sugar (Trader Joes has it and it’s pretty good in coffee).  Read my full post about sugar here.  Most of this new focus came about last year when my sister watched Sugar is a Toxin, a talk by Dr. Robert Lustig that changed the way we think about sugar’s place in our lives.

Now, I love sweets, and I’ll allow myself at least one hard-core exception a week (chocolate torte anyone?) but I want to remove the daily need for sugar from my life.  And doing that is also one of the best ways to avoid joining the heartbreakingly large number of diabetics in this country.  The amount of sugar we’re encouraged to eat everyday is f-ed up and we need take the power back into our own hands and live more like our grandparents did — when sweets were a rare treat.  Also read — Food Rules.  It’s wonderful.

Walking & Cycling

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think walking is a fantastic way to get healthier.  Try to get out for thirty minutes and least five times a week.

But cycling, now there’s the gold mine.  If you’re able physically to cycle, even just a little ways, you can find relaxation, joy, and a great, fast way to lose weight and get in shape.  As my sister has said, ‘You don’t see any fat cyclists’ (or at least, not for long).

But if you can’t/don’t like to go cycling, remember the important thing is to just do some exercise you do enjoy more.  It needs to be done often, and be fun and challenging to whatever level you’re at now — but never hurt yourself.

Juicing & Fasting

Juicing is a great way to get a lot of vitamins fast and can give your body a break from the hard work of digesting food (yes, your intestines would like a vacation too).  The film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead really turned my sister and I on to the power of juicing — you can change your body in ways you’d never believe and it’s never too late to get better.  Whether it’s just a breakfast replacement or a longer ‘juice fast’, it can change your relationship to food forever.  A juicer costs around a hundred dollars but you can buy used ones (or get a friend to loan you one to try it) — and either way, the cost is probably less than one month of the blood pressure pills you may have to take down the road if you don’t get healthier.

A word about fasting: done right it’s not dangerous, unhealthy, or harmful.  Fasting has been a religious practise for thousand of years.  Fasting can mean a ‘full fast’ where you might drink only water or consume nothing at all (best done for a short while [like a day] and on a day you’re off work and can lie down and rest often).  It can also be a ‘partial fast’ where you might still drink water, juice, and even eat a few fruits and veggies.  Sarah and I have done a 14 day partial fast and I’d love to do it again.  Just remember that you will probably ‘detox’ somewhere around day two and have a headache for a couple of hours.  This is natural and healthy and afterward you won’t have that happen again for the rest of your fast.

It’s also important to ‘break’ the fast at the end of the time and slowly start eating good foods again.  Remember: you are not dieting or starving yourself, you are giving your body a break for a specific amount of time.  Richard Hittleman’s Weight Control Through Yoga contains instructions for the first fast I ever did.

Paleo

My friend Jill said she’d heard me mention this but didn’t really know anything about it.  I was exactly in that spot last September but I believe Paleo is one of the reasons I’m on track to be my healthiest ever by the end of this year.

In a nutshell, the Paleo (or paleolithic) diet is a return to what people ate for our entire history up until we discovered agriculture.  From an evolutionary point of view, our bodies haven’t begun to integrate things like wheat, legumes (like peanuts) and dairy into our diet, which is why some people have allergies and others may still (unknowingly) have their bodies fighting against minor negative reactions their wholes lives.  And fast food and refined sugars are even harder for our bodies to use to keep us healthy.  Exercise is also a major component of being Paleo.

To help you get more started —

The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet

Mark’s Daily Apple

A ‘Is it Paleo?’ Chart

Ultimate Paleo Guide

And a basic rundown —

fourbarrelcrossfit.com

And I wouldn’t get too caught up in buying only grass-fed beef — I started with regular.  Also, almost every veggie’s good — excluding regular potatoes (sweet potatoes are good for you).

That about sums up my recent adventures in health.  I feel better than I ever have, am improving all the time, and can’t wait to see what I’ll be doing when I’m 59!  Take care of your body and you’ll free your spirit up for some amazing adventures.

Best Wishes.

And Now Introducing… The Point System!

I didn’t want to tell you guys about this till it’d been working for a while, but my sister Sarah and I have been having so much fun with this point system we invented over a month ago and so I wanted to share it with you because it could help make your life even awesomer.  I have never been quite as productive as I have this last month — it’s insane.  So, without further ado —

What is the point system?

It’s a reward system where you earn gold coins and blue coins (i.e.points) for doing positive things that are moving you toward your dreams.  Then you can use your coins to ‘buy’ treats and things you want.  It part of the gamification of life — i.e. to make ordinary tasks as fun, rewarding, and addictive as video games do with their lights, sounds and, well, coins of achievement.

How does it work?

First you decide what type of things you want to be doing daily to get to your perfect, dream life.  For me it’s exercising, keeping the house clean, and most especially writing.  So when I write for thirty minutes, I get one gold coin and one blue coin.  Cycling two miles also gets me one coin of each color (I tend to call such things earning a coin, but as you’ll see different colors have different uses and every activity offers one coin of each color).

And if I have a ‘perfect day’ in which I do all the coin-earning activities that I have written down, I get an extra coin!  Yowza!

What do these coins do?

Well, gold coins are for food treats like dining out or getting a shake, or even buying a carton of ice cream to take home.  That’s right, my base is no sweets and no eating out.  BUT you don’t have to go all out like that.  Even saying you’re earning your Big Mac by taking a walk around your block would still be a great thing.  You decide your point system — just know, if you want it — you gonna have to earn it.

Blue coins buy you non-food related goodies — albums, movie tickets, fun clothes or jewelry.  That’s right, I don’t get those things unless I earn them.  The flip side, if you earn it, you don’t feel guilty about buying it.

So, how’s it been working out?

Fantastically.  It means that just doing simple, good things like cleaning the house or doing yoga (things I didn’t do every day) suddenly are reward situations.  I’m earning points right now sitting here writing to you!  It’s limited the amount of indulgences while increasing the activities that will lead to the life of my dreams.  We all know steps that would get us where we want to go; this helps us follow the path AND feel rewarded instead of deprived when it comes to treats and snacks.

Here’s how you do it —

  1. Figure out your dream life.  Are you fit and healthy?  Is the house clean?  Are you closer to your family members?  Have you written a novel?  Imagine an average day in your perfect life.
  2. Break your dream life down into daily steps.  Want to be healthier?  Take a daily walk.  Have a dream job?  Improve yourself in 30 minute stretches to own that role.  Want to write a book?  Write every day.
  3. Choose four or five areas of improvement.  Mine are writing more, exercise, yoga, and cleanliness.
  4. Choose five or six (or more) activities that can earn you points.  I wouldn’t make these denials (i.e. no sugar before 12:00pm).  Instead make them as positive, enjoyable, and fun as possible (after all, you are replicating a day in your perfect life, so if you love cycling but hate calisthenics — cycle!)  The idea is to enjoy this stuff as much as possible.
  5. Decide what activities you need to do to earn a ‘perfect day’ bonus point (it’s a powerful motivation if you’re close to getting that extra point).
  6. (Optional) Decide if anything loses you a point.  I only mention this because I’m a little sporadic about brushing my teeth as often as is optimal, so I made a rule that if I fall down on my teeth brushing regimen, that day I lose a point.  After you’ve cycled two miles to earn a point, believe me, you won’t want to lose it.  So these are some shiny teeth.  If you chose to do this, I’d make it about a tiny activity that take no more than five minutes out of your day.
  7. Decide how many coins you earn for each activity and how much treats cost you.  This is a matter of trial and error — you want to feel like you get treats pretty often if you’re really hitting it.  If it take too long to earn anything, you’ll lose heart and if it’s too easy you might not push yourself at all — play around with it and see what gets you the best results.
  8. Buy a whiteboard and a dry erase marker.  Write your name at the top and then ‘Gold Coins:’ and below that ‘Blue Coins:’.  Update it each day.  You can also keep a lifetime total if you want to.

Some notes: You can call it one coin or 100,000 coins if that motivates you more.  It’s only an imaginary unit of measurement.  Also, I did let myself go ‘into debt’ a couple of times if something big came up and I didn’t have the coin right then to buy it.  Just make your whiteboard say something like ‘Gold Coins: -25’  and then work your way back to a positive number.

I can’t begin to say how much I’m enjoying this.  There may be a lot of reasons I’m so productive right now (it’s ‘Go Big or Go Home’ time) but I don’t know how I’d make it without the point system right now — it’s that important to my progress.

Best of luck!  Let me know if you have any questions, and tell me about your successes!

Remember: If you earn it, the cake is not a lie.

Katherine’s points (for reference):

Do Richard Hittleman’s 30 minute yoga program — 1 coin (actually one of each color, by I call it one)

Write for 30 minutes — 1 coin

Go cycling — 1 coin for each 2 mile stretch

Clean the house (one load of dishes and ‘pick up’ around house) — one coin

‘Just Dance’ video game done on ‘just sweat’ medium program (10 minutes of dancing) — one coin

Go for a hike/walk — one coin for each mile walked

My perfect day (earns a bonus point):

At least two hours of writing

Yoga

Cleaning

At least one form of exercise

Some treats (and their cost for me):

 Gold coins —

32 oz soda — 5 coins

Candy bar — 5 coins

Shake, Starbucks, or Smoothie Planet drink — 10 coins

Carton of Ice cream, package of cookies — 15 coins

Eating at Mcdonalds, Wendys etc — 10 coins

Eating at a nice sit down restaurant — 20 coins

 Blue coins —

one MP3 song — 5 coin

one album — 20 coins

Movie ticket — 25 coins

DVD — 20 coins

Other items: 2x — 3x coins to each $1 spent

 

Remember: This is a game!  Play around with it and find what motivates you.

Awesome Day #8 — What I learned

I'm so cute -- Taken on day #5

Taken on day #5

Today is the last day of my 8 day ‘stay-cation’.  It’s been one of the best times in a long time and I’ve learned much I’ll need for the journey ahead.  I’m planning to take what I learned and apply it to my everyday life.  So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, unsure, or just tired, here’s my insights —

Lessons for Living An Amazing Life

(all field-tested during my ‘stay-cation’)

  1. Get enough rest.  Sleep or just lying around.  I think we push ourselves too much, and never give ourselves a break i.e. I’m telling you to go take a nap now 🙂
  2. Do yoga.  I made time every day and feel so mobile and blissed out by the end of my 8 days.
  3. Exercise more.  It’s not contrary to rule #1 — they are Yin to the other’s Yang.  I’ve been dancing and walking and cycling and feel better than I have in months.
  4. Clean your house.  Strangely, making your home nicer and getting rid of old stuff really does make everything feel lighter and more free.  You’ll be amazed.
  5. Say no to more events with people.  I was trying to only leave the house twice this week.  I didn’t quite hit that goal but it made me realise I should say no more often.
  6. Don’t zone out of your own life.  When tired, TV, movies, games, and the internet can seem like mindless fun.  But everything in moderation — I stayed away from ‘wasting time’ this week and I had a LOT of time to do other things.  And get out in nature and away from the electronics.
  7. Love yourself more.  If you get in an unhappy place, it easy to blame yourself.  And while it’s important to know you have the power to change every situation in some way, also give yourself credit for how awesome every part of you is already.  There has never been and will never be anyone like you.
  8. Stop worrying what people think.  For a ‘people pleaser’ like me, I realised that just being away from stressful situations made me so happy.  Now, I can’t change all the situations but now that I know, I can try not to let them affect me as much.
  9. Stop eating fast food.  This should be #1 really.  Just being away from town, at home with good food, made an amazing difference.  And without the stress, I didn’t really want sugar that much.  So I am medicating myself in stressful situations with sweets — that’s got to change.
  10. Play and create as often as possible.  Letting the silly, child-like side back out and just plain old having fun cannot be overrated.  There’s a saying —a2c670b5873d5f81ed470c1d93d0b754

But really, it’s not the growing up that does you in, it’s forgetting what you were growing toward.  This life is yours, not your spouse’s, not your boss’s — yours.  Remember who are really are and act accordingly.  And if you ever forget, go get lost for a few days.  You may (re)discover more than you ever knew you possessed.

682be4bac2297d9797046a5c2be0bbb9

 

Awesome Day #4 — Out With the Junk

This is not junk.  This is an inspiration wall -- it's important to learn the difference.  This is for my 'Spark of Madness' novel.

This is not junk. This is an inspiration wall — it’s important to learn the difference. For my ‘Spark of Madness’ novel.

Yesterday was day #4 of my 8 day ‘stay-cation’.  Really, I have already got everything I was looking for out of this break.  Yesterday I did some big cleaning (I’m working to get rid of a lot of junk) and a little yard work, but mostly I had revelations (what do you do on your vacation?).

One of the most interesting is how much of ‘out there’ I don’t need.  Except for one movie (X-men!) and one lunch in town (Dapalmas!), I have stayed home (excluding park walks since that’s right by my house).  And I love it!  I’ve often thought that I could be trapped on my property for a year and be truly happy — provided there was food (and park walks).  And now I know it.

Oh sure, I enjoy seeing my writing buddies and the occasional movie, but so much of ‘out there’ only exists to tranquilize you from the effects of out there.

Another thing about out there is people.  I think of myself as pretty friendly even though I’m an introvert, but I do now recognise that I worry too much about upsetting other people and try to fix unhappy situations that aren’t my fault.  Now, that’s a nice idea, but it shouldn’t send me back home stressed out and with an ice cream in my hand.  Actually, my stomach has knotted up a little thinking about it.  But now that I know, I can work to avoid those triggers.

I wonder how many of our food dependences, multitude of health problems, and just feeling sometimes hopeless all boils down to not getting to sit still long enough, in peace, on a front step, staring at the trees.  And I know a lot of people don’t have that step, or haven’t discovered that peace yet inside them, but it’s there — and there’s parks and so many adventures waiting for us while we’re waiting in line at the drive thru.

If you ever lose your way, just know all it takes is a few days of perfect peace to find it.  Just get away from all that — and you might find the key to what you’ve been searching for all along.

How to Reevaluate Your Life

from lifeinblush.com/blog

When you decide to reevaluate your life, remember: you are not looking for easy answers.  At this stage you are only trying to ask the right questions.

10 QUESTIONS

  1. What’s my dream life?  If you could have anything, no holds bared, what would you be doing, day in and day out?  It’s fine to have a big goal (climb Everest) but try to drill it down to a 24 hour picture.  Dream lives still involve many of the things you are already doing — so what’s different?  Imagine being excited to get to work — where do you work?  What does your house look like?  Who are you married to, if anyone?
  2. What do you want (do you really, really want)?  Dreams and fantasies are often funded by the unbelievable.  “I’d fly off to Paris in my private jet.”  “I’d be married to Tom Hiddleson.”  We think getting a great life is so impossible that we literally make it so; you might as well say you want to live on Jupiter and marry Errol Flynn — it’s as likely to happen.  So instead, take time to get to the heart of your dream — past the money and movie stars — and figure out what you really desire.  Maybe you’ve never been to Paris — but if you saved up all your ‘fast food’ money for two years you could do it (and be much healthier).  And maybe you long to meet intelligent, joyful people and have become discouraged by the potential romantic partners in your job or social circle.  Ask what makes your dream great.  Most times it’s not just having more money in your hand.
  3. What’s making you unhappy now?  Think about the last week or month — what were your most unhappy moments?   Who/where/what did they involve?  It’s hard to admit, but if you don’t come away happy from seeing someone, then that’s someone you need less of in your world.  Life is short, and unless you birthed them or adopted them, you don’t owe anyone your happiness upon this Earth.  We’ve all had friendships and relationships we’ve tried to ‘make’ work.  Well, today you found your get-out-of-jail-free card; I’m officially telling you it’s okay to let things that don’t work GO.  Believe me, you’ll be making room in your life for much better things.  If debt or your weight are making you unhappy then even a tiny step toward a better life will improve your mood.  And if your job is the problem, hang on . . .
  4. Do I hate my job?  I just saw a Pin that said something like ‘When asked what they would reevaluate after winning the lottery, 51% of people said ‘their job’.  Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but it feels right.  To me that also says that, in addition to not liking their job, most people are afraid to leave because of finances.  This is a tough one — we need money.  But how much of it?  Could you get by (and be happier) with less?  Instead of imaging winning the lottery — imagine you already have.  According to one estimate, the worldwide median household income is less than $10,000.  So if you’re household makes more than that, you are already living the high life.  So maybe a different job (even if it paid less) would be something to think about.  And know there are people out there who are paid well to do your dream job; the first step to joining them is acknowledging you’re unhappy where you are.
  5. Am I filling my life with ‘time-wasters’?  Everyone deserves ‘down time’, ‘fun time’, or a break but everything in moderation.  Playing video games can be amazing but 6 hours a day for five years may not lead to a fulfilling life — unless you’re a game designer.  The same way, the amount of human time spent on Facebook is astounding (and I can be as guilty as anyone, though more often it’s Pinerest for me).  Just try to imagine the world, the power, and the individual lives we could build with that excess time.
  6. Why am I sad?  You may not be sad, but if you are know that a few small changes can make life great again.  You don’t need to throw out everything, you just need to realign your life with your heart’s desire.  And if you have a problem that seems very hopeless — know that there’s probably a group, meeting, hotline, or program for people battling the same troubles as you.  Reach out and get help.
  7. What am I impatient about?  For me, it’s becoming a full-time writer and then traveling the world.  And I know I’ll get there.  But when progress feels slow, I wonder if I need to go get a college degree, move jobs, move cities, SOMETHING to prove I’m not stagnant and not going to be standing here in one place forever.  If this is you, and you are doing something that should have the payoff you’re looking for (a breakthrough in job, becoming your perfect weight through a diet) then I suggest you give yourself a place in the future to re-reevaluate that one goal and decide if these small steps aren’t adding up to something big.  For example, I’ve decided to write three new amazing things then look at whether I need a different day job, education, what-have-you.  Until I have those three novels or plays in front of me, I won’t worry about how long I’ve been at my day job while ‘planning’ to become a full time writer.
  8. What’s on my ‘bucket list’?  One of the things about this year is I’ve talked to some older people I know who never have done the items on their bucket list and now wonder if they’re too old.  While I’m a total believer in doing as much as you can as long as you can, it is easier to climb a mountain in your 30s or 40s than your 70s.  Whatever your age, part of the un-fulfillment you might be feeling is because the big things just sit on a distant horizon and never get any closer.  You need to pick a before-I-die goal, pick a date (even if it’s a year or two out) and start planning, saving, and/or training for it NOW.  Our lives are short and precious, leave nothing important undone.
  9. Why am I asking this question now?  You Google-searched for this question (or are just a fan or friend of mine) — why?  Are you fed up with the way things are going?  Have you been trying to make changes but still feel far from your goals?  The important thing is to feel empowered — this is a great moment.  As soon as you start really looking at your life, you may get depressed, scared, and feel hopelessness.  But the important thing to know is that this is an important first step that some people never take.  You are now officially on the road to your dreams.
  10. Am I ready to be bold?  There’s a saying, “Are you really happy or just really comfortable?”  You have come to this place by your choices; some parts of your life work great and some need to be switched or fixed.  But if you are at the point of knowing you need a change, then realize you really have nothing to lose.  Start by cleaning your house and giving some things away, then make that bucket list plan, then start seeing what parts of your life make you happy and what things need to go.  Envision your dream and walk toward it.

from periwinkleporte.files.wordpress.com

 

June 2015 update: Please visit my new site ‘How To Come Alive‘ if you’d like to learn the 25 things that have helped me most in achieving my dreams.

How to Make February the New January

“Get your hero up a tree, throw stones at him, then get him down.” — old saying in playwriting

So, a month ago, I was real excited.  And then what happened?  Life.

Those who know me know I haven’t been myself lately.  I have been quiet and tired.  Since January, my sister and I have had pipes burst, the well’s power shut down, a longer run of low temperatures here in Georgia than I can remember in my lifetime, snow, no indoor water, and the top third of a dead tree fall to the ground 30 feet from us — which was funny (especially since we were on our way to fix the well) but it was really close too.

None of that matters.  Or more precisely, none of that’s slowing us down.  It’s February now, time for us to re-find those 2014 goals and enthusiasm and I challenge you to do the same thing.  This is going to be the most frekin’ exciting year yet of our lives and that all begins by picking back up those goals, dusting them off, and saying —

We OWN this year.  Let’s prove it.

My 2014 goals —

  1. Cycle 50 miles in one day
  2. Publish my novel ‘A Caged Heart Still Beats’
  3. Publish my novel ‘Fall Street’
  4. Be in the best shape of my life (hard not to be with goal #1 😉
  5. Go Paleo for two solid months
  6. Write something new that is the best thing I’ve ever written
  7. Do yoga every day of the year starting now
  8. Make my home the most inspiring it’s ever been
  9. Do 12 adventurous things I’ve never done
  10. Get rid of 1/3 of my possessions