Tag Archive: habits


One of the most interesting and exciting things about being human is that we have the power to change our circumstances by changing the way we think. Once we catch a bit of inspiration and turn our new thoughts into new behaviors incredible things happen. Since it is so easy to fall back into our old ways of thinking, it’s critical to protect our new, fragile, positive attitudes. Sadly, the people closest to us can be the ones who present the greatest danger.

In the past week, I’ve seen several instances where a friend was talked out of something that would’ve been so good for them by a friend or family member who probably thought they were protecting them from failure or disappointment. The problem with that is that if we don’t push ourselves to try new things or try something again after we’ve failed we will never change anything!

People think they know us and want us to feel good about ourselves. Unfortunately, the way they go about it isn’t always helpful. If I’m saying negative things about myself because I feel like I’m failing, I don’t need someone to baby me and say it’s ok to think that way. I need someone to tell me to stop it because they know I can do it! We need to encourage each other to be better, do more, and make positive changes; not to feel that it’s ok to beat ourselves up and stay where we are in life. I saw a perfect example of this on facebook the other day and I know the person meant well, but the situation made me want to scream.

If you’re trying to make positive changes DO NOT listen to people when they try to hold you back even when they think they’re being supportive. They probably don’t even realize they’re doing it. Just be aware of what they’re really saying and move on. If what they’re saying is reinforcing your negative self-talk, push those thoughts away and replace them with positive ones. Like Chalene Johnson says, “be your own biggest cheerleader”. You can do amazing things, but not if you continue to think about yourself and your life the same way.

If you’re one of those well-meaning friends or family members who feels like you’re protecting someone from disappointment please reconsider the way in which you show support. Instead of encouraging them not to try and to keep thinking the same way, show support by telling them you believe they can succeed. You have no idea how much that means to someone who’s decided to face a challenge and push forward. Not to sound cliché, but be part of the solution, not part of the problem. They will have moments when they want to quit because nothing worthwhile is easy. They way you show your support can be the difference between their success or failure. If deep down you’re afraid that their change will take them away from you, by being there and encouraging them through the tough times you’ll earn their appreciation, love and respect bringing you closer together. If you make every step they take that much harder you’ll drive a wedge between you which may result in the thing you fear the most.

I am very passionate about this topic because I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life and I’ve let friends and family hold me back because I listened to them when they said things that made me feel like I could never change. I’ve also cultivated a habit of not finishing what I’ve started and no one has ever held me accountable. They didn’t realize it, but what they were really saying to me was that they didn’t believe in me. We think and do based on our habits so it’s time to start paying attention and to form new ones. We need to stop being afraid to take on challenges and follow through. Sure we may fail, but then we pick ourselves up and try again and again and again. If we quit or never even start we guarantee failure, but when we keep going no matter what we will succeed!

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What is “normal”?

I’ve spent some time recently thinking about why it’s so easy to fall back into old habits even though I know that not working out and not eating healthy food just makes me feel like crap. Some people just seem to naturally do the “right” things and make the “right” choices without having to give it much, if any, thought while some people (hand raised) have to think about every decision or they automatically end up doing the things that aren’t good for them.

I think it has a LOT to do with how we were raised. I’m not trying to blame anyone because I believe most parents do the best they can with the knowledge and means available. It’s just that we are so impressionable when we’re children and the things around us, no matter how “wrong”, were normal because that’s all we knew. After my parents got divorced when I was 4 (I think), my mom and I moved in with her parents. My grandmother (I later found out) had been the victim of some kind of abuse (didn’t get any details…it was amazing I even got that bit of info) and continued the cycle with me.

Because no one outside our home knew about it, no one did anything to stop it so in my mind it was normal. For a long time my mom didn’t even have a clue because it all happened when she was gone and my grandmother would always be sure to tell her version of the story as soon as my mom walked in the door which always led to me having to apologize to her for my bad behavior. I’m not saying I was perfect, but now I know I didn’t deserve the “punishment” I got. It wasn’t until I got a little older, maybe 9 or 10, that I realized what was happening was wrong and didn’t go on in most homes, but by that time it was such a part of who I was that the long-term damage was done.

Then on top of all that craziness, we almost never ate at home. We went out to eat every night, usually at restaurants that served mainly unhealthy, high fat foods and I was allowed to order anything I wanted. Occasionally my mom would suggest I get something on the healthier side, but I don’t think she liked conflict so she gave in if I acted like I didn’t want it. Oh, and we also had a maid that came twice a week to clean the house and do the laundry. So at my grandparents’ house I never observed or participated in a regular schedule that included preparing healthy meals, cleaning up afterward, or any other chores for that matter. NOT GOOD. As an only child I mostly played alone and would often “play” with the Windex, cleaning the windows for fun or the Pledge, dusting the furniture. I actually wanted to do those things back then and got great satisfaction out of cleaning things.

Every Friday I’d spend the night at my dad’s house. Talk about the complete opposite environment.  He and his wife were two people who had regular jobs (did I mention my mom was an opera singer, my grandmother was a retired singer and my grandfather was retired but spent hours each day inventing things in the basement?) and stuck to a regular schedule and ate at home more than once every month. If we didn’t go out for pizza, we’d stay in and have things like spaghetti and garlic bread and salad and iced tea with mint from the garden in the backyard (my dad hated lemon in his tea, but loved mint). Then we would all help clear the table and she would wash the dishes while my dad and I would dry and put them away. Seems like a simple thing, but to me it was almost magical. My dad would tell me about how when I was really little I loved helping him do the laundry even though I could barely see over the top of the washer. And he had this big bowl in his closet. Everyday when he came home he’d toss in the change left in his pocket. When the bowl got full I got to help sort it and put it into rolls. Maybe that sounds like a mundane task, but I loved it and it’s still one of my favorite childhood memories. 

Since most of my existence was chaotic and seemed very unstable, the simple chores were the highlights. Doing them made me feel like I was contributing something and working together on tasks made me feel like part of a team. Having a routine meant there was something I could count on. I can’t help but wonder how different my life would be now if I had spent most of my time at my dad’s and only one night a week with my mom and grandparents. While the thought of not living with my mom all those years breaks my heart, I know for a certainty that my idea of “normal” would be completely different. Perhaps eating healthy and drinking plenty of water would come naturally and cleaning the house wouldn’t feel like something that’s “not my job”. Maybe I would’ve learned to follow through with things and have some consistency in my life without going through mental acrobatics to think that way.

I shudder to think what I’ve already determined is normal for my kids. Although an improvement in many ways over my childhood, the life we’ve lived still isn’t what I’ve wanted it to be. My husband and I have tried to implement some kind of routine for our kids because both having grown up in homes with a complete lack of structure, we see the need, but nothing has ever stuck. I want my kids to grow up knowing how to do things like laundry, cooking and cleaning, but time has slipped by without me taking the time to show them. Now my older son is in middle school and we have a good relationship, but he is a “tween” and the thought of folding laundry doesn’t exactly appeal to him. It would’ve been so much better if I had started sooner, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on the idea altogether. When my boys grow up and get married I want their wives to only cook and clean for them because they want to out of love, not because they’re expected to. And I don’t want my sons to marry someone because they think they need someone to take care of them.

While there are certain things we have zero tolerance for in our home like being mean or disrespectful, there are other things we’ve let slide like allowing our surroundings to be cluttered with things that should’ve been put or thrown away long before. And our eating habits…not ideal. I’d love for all of us to gather at the table for dinner, but our schedules don’t allow for it. We all eat at different times and at different places…the kids at the table and my husband and I on the couch. I suppose it might help if the table was clear from clutter so there would actually be room for more than two people to eat there. Each issue is related to another and it all boils down to our baseline “normal”.

I think it’s a step in the right direction to at least identify what feels normal so we can decide if we need to make some major or minor adjustments. The things that really do need to change are worth fighting for and that’s exactly what it is…a daily battle. Some days the fight is easier than others and some days we temporarily give in because we grow weary and can’t see an end in sight, but if the change is important enough we have to keep fighting no matter what. And little by little, as we find ourselves dealing with the same things over and over again we start to figure out the best way to overcome and make a new life for ourselves.

I did have one victory today, with the help of a friend. We went walking and then had lunch together. One thing is for sure, if we’re going to fight to change our lives having friends who support us is more precious than all the money in the world.

Psst…come closer. I’m going to share a little secret with you. Ready? 

I’m a little weird. Ok, maybe that wasn’t much of a secret for those who’ve known me a while. Sometimes I forget, though. Today, it was once again brought to my attention shortly after I started walking. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining buckets like yesterday so I was happy to be able to walk a little farther. Still longing for some variety, I turned right before reaching the stadium with the plan to loop around and take the tree’s picture on the way back instead of at the beginning like I normally do.

As I made my way along the busy street, looking forward to seeing what kind of photos I could get of the Xs and Os in front of Autzen, I thought about sharing the importance of being a duck. Yes, being a Duck fan is great, especially since we get to enjoy stuff like this which includes some great footage of the Xs and Os…give it a couple of seconds. Good stuff. 🙂

And we can’t enjoy the first without including the sequel. If you look real close you can even see the tree at around 2:45. Hee hee.  

Is it football season yet?? Back to what I was saying about being a duck. I was thinking about some advice my brother, not the one who chased his remote control truck all over the place…other one who came to visit, shared with me when I was going through some drama. Be a duck. Just let negative stuff slide off you like water off a duck’s back. Good advice.

About the time I reached the Xs and Os I realized what I was doing.Just like I always have when walking on pavement, I was avoiding the cracks. But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Always one who’s enjoyed patterns, lines and spacial relationships (wanted to be an architect for a long time), I mentally extend the lines that I can see in my peripheral vision and avoid stepping on those, too. A little crazy? Sure. A little OCD? Perhaps. I don’t really like labels unless they actually facilitate help for the person. (Scroll over the images to see what I was thinking.)Even when I’m walking with someone else or thinking about other things I’m still doing it. My little “game” may seem mentally exhausting, but trying to break the habit would actually be much more challenging because old habits are hard to break. I’m sure this one started one innocent day when I was just a wee lass, walking along with a friend or on the playground at school. No doubt someone said, “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.” I’m sure I didn’t believe I would actually cause my mother’s back to break, but it probably seemed like a fun challenge. I have no clue when I decided it needed to be more challenging, adding in the other imaginary lines. Probably about the same time I started matching the vertical lines (phone poles have 2, etc.) I pass as I’m riding or driving down the street to a song I learned for a piano recital. Now, it’s not so much a song as it is a rhythm. I have to fit each line into the pattern so I’ll add faster beats if I’m passing, say, a fence or something. I don’t know if anyone reading this gets what I’m saying, but that’s ok. It is what it is.

You may be thinking I’m completely nuts, or at least somewhere around the same crazy level as Monk. I can assure you, I’m not. (I suppose most crazy people would deny being crazy so I don’t know how much good that does.) But, there are times when I miss, or technically hit, the cracks or lines and I don’t freak out. I am always aware when it happens, though. For a split second, I get a mental picture of my foot coming down on it. Sometimes I even deliberately step directly on a crack…just because.  

There are “rules” that keep me from losing it. For example, I don’t expect myself to fit my foot in a space that’s smaller than my foot. Monk would, just saying. In the photo above, I did extend the short lines in the border, but not the bricks. In the one below, I ignored the radiating lines because it just wouldn’t work, unless I extended the lines out so far that my foot would fit between them which would happen eventually, but I’d be really, really far away from where I was actually walking. That leads to the second rule…

I actually mentioned this before. I only take into account the lines that are within my natural line of vision. It’s not like I’m out there looking for lines to avoid. That would be insane. Take this wall. At first I started trying to deal with just the lines in the bottom row, but found that I wasn’t enjoying the challenge so I moved a few steps to the right and they were no longer in view unless I deliberately turned my focus to them. Problem solved.

So now that you know I’m at the very least a bit weird, why did I decide to share this? Because I think it makes a good point, maybe two, we’ll see. Habits are hard to break, especially if they’re so deeply ingrained in who we are that we don’t even think about them unless we’re really paying attention. Some habits are harmless, like my obsession with lines and whether or not I step on them, and can be left alone. Some are even beneficial, like the fact that I don’t really have to think about taking my walk every morning. But, many habits are harmful, to ourselves and those around us.

I used to have a habit of sitting on the couch all day watching TV or playing hour after hour of online games stuffing my face the entire time. It was harmful to me because I gained a LOT of weight and I always felt exhausted and depressed. It was harmful to my family because I wasn’t setting a good example for my kids and I wasn’t engaged in their lives even though I was physically right there the whole time. I also didn’t keep the place clean or even ask the kids to help which created stress for all of us, especially my husband who already has enough stuff on his mind. We all need a clean, clutter-free environment to be able to think and fully participate in life and ours was the opposite.

I’ve definitely made some positive changes and the kids are learning the importance of taking care of yourself and eating healthy. They’ve also seen how hard it is to break free from habits once they’ve been formed. I wish I could say my life has completely turned around and everything is as it should be, but I still struggle with keeping everything clean and uncluttered. Right now, there’s laundry to put away, dishes to be done, a floor that needs vacuuming, a layer of dust that needs to go away and trash to take out. Ok, some of it the kids can do when they get home, but I certainly need to pitch in, too. So I’ll wrap this up by saying I hope you will come back now that you know I’m a little “different” and I hope you’ll stop to look at your life to see if there are harmful habits you’ve had so long you don’t even them notice anymore, then take the first step toward breaking them. Oh, and GO DUCKS!!

Food Journal 2/13/11

My biggest struggle when it comes to losing weight and getting in shape isn’t working out…I’ve learned to love pushing myself to the max. It’s food. And not even what I eat throughout the day. I can be really “good” all day, but at night something kicks in and I just want to eat and eat and eat. It’s not because I’m hungry. It used to be because I was depressed, but that’s not the case now. It seems to just be a deeply ingrained habit that comes from years gone by. After the kids have gone to bed and my husband is busy tutoring online I automatically start to reach for something to eat. I don’t crave junk food anymore since I’ve been drinking Shakeology, but the habit of stuffing myself with high fat/salt/sugar foods remains a force to reckon with. I don’t sit around thinking, “Oh, I wish I could eat some ice cream or chips or candy.” There’s really no thought involved. It’s just an automatic ritual unless I’m making a huge effort to avoid it.

Just as with working out, the best way to succeed is to have accountability and the more people you’re accountable to, the better. So, I’m going to keep a journal of everything I eat and make myself accountable to everyone who has access to the internet. For years and years, I’ve hidden my eating habits from everyone around me and even if not one single person out there cares what I put in my mouth the fact that I’m willing to share that information with the world is progress. I can finally free myself from the habits that have kept me from being my best. So here we go…this is what I ate today.

Breakfast – Chocolate Shakeology made with 8 oz water, 4 oz Silk PureAlmond Vanilla and 2 ice cubes

AM Snack – 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese and 1 popcorn rice cake

Lunch – 1 cup homemade chili made with ground turkey, pinto and black beans, onions, diced tomato, seasonings

               Salad – 6 cups romaine, 1/4 tomato, 1/2 English cucumber, 1 1/2 Tbs. Vidalia Onion dressing

               Medium pink lady apple

PM Snack – P90X Chocolate Peanut Butter protein bar

Dinner – 6 teriyaki chicken meatballs, 1 cup yakisoba noodles, 1/4 cup mushrooms, teriyaki sauce, 1 cup peas and Yoplait Light Harvest Peach, 1 Ruby Red grapefruit

Total calories 1717 – Protein 119 grams – Carbs 231 grams – Fat 41 grams – Fiber 30 grams

Protein 27%/Carbs 52%/Fat 21%