Tag: self-image

5 Things I’ve Learned About Change

One quarter of 2018 is past. It’s supposed to be a year of metamorphosis around here, but what has really changed? If nothing else, I’ve learned a few things about the process of making changes.

In January, I posted my word for the year. I made a lovely graphic.

And then a few weeks later, I adopted a new branding design. Which included a lovely new logo.

Things were off to a metamorphic start. Oh yes.

I penned blogs about what was changing: career,website and me. And maybe a few people even read them.

But when change happens to someone else, it doesn’t affect us. I mean, really. Other people move or find a new job or send a kid to college. We might feel for them (especially if we’ve experienced these changes before), but there’s no metamorphosis in our life when that happens.

1. Change Takes Purpose

Let me explain this. Things change in our lives without our PERMISSION. That’s a circumstance.

In order for us to truly “become something better” there has be be purposeful change.

For example, we get laid off. That was a job we loved and felt called to do. Now we hit the streets to find a new job. After a few dozen applications and some not-so-fruitful interviews, we are offered a new position and we accept it.

However, the new job might end up being only a circumstance. If we don’t embrace this new place and employ our gifts toward this different mission, we won’t change.

WE won’t change.

Just because circumstances change, it doesn’t follow that we will change.

So when life throws you a new circumstance, be a good Marine. Adapt. Improvise. Overcome. And most of all, set your mind to making the most of it so you become a better person.

2. Some Change is Excruciating

I have no idea what the caterpillar feels inside a cocoon. I’ve always imagined the little guy spun his secure bed, fell asleep and woke up as a butterfly.

We aren’t caterpillars. If we sleep through a change, nothing will happen.

My experience this past year is that the longer I’ve been in one place, the more difficult it is to change. More than that, it’s often an unpleasant experience.

Think of it this way, your car is stuck in the mud. You rev the motor. Wheels spin. You sink further into the mud. The more you struggle to get out of the rut, the deeper you get into it.

So it is with changing something that has been static for many, many years.

In order to pull ourselves out of the rut, there’s going to be external force needed. And then there will be internal struggles to accept that application of brutality.

Metamorphosis in the human arena is agonizing.

3. Change Can Be Small

We want big and flashy. This is most often true in areas where we’re making physical changes.

We start a diet and exercise plan. Three days later, our muscles scream and our stomach rumbles. We step on the scale and see:

We’ve lost one pound

One pound?!? For all this misery? Why am I doing this again?

Because big changes start small. Think of the avalanche. It can start with a single pebble sliding down the slope. It hits a larger boulder which rumbles. Dirt loosens around it. When it goes, it takes trees and more rocks with it, leaving behind a corridor of destruction.

The thing about a small change might not even be that it becomes bigger. Often it remains a small, simple thing: filling out a gratitude journal every evening before falling asleep.

But that ONE LITTLE THING bleeds into every area of life. It might begin as, “I have to pay attention to what I’m grateful for so I have something to write in the journal.” Soon enough it becomes a habit to give thanks for all the little things.

The rain stopped when I walked out to get the mail. The cat didn’t run away when I needed to load him into the carrier (and I’m not wearing scratch marks in the aftermath).

The truth is:

4. Real Change is S-L-O-W

Weight loss is another one of those things we want to happen now. Nope, actually, yesterday.

How long did it take me to pack on that extra fifteen pounds? A year? Two years? And yet I think I should be able to drop it in a couple months.

What I’ve discovered is that when I try to be diligent about eating a low calorie diet and exercise every day until my muscles STOP aching, I get burned out. My limit for persevering in both of these things is about one month.

One month? Can I even lose FIVE pounds in that time?

But when I think about it like that, it discourages me. So instead, I look at things as progressive. My sister the Beachbody coach has lots of motivational memes, and they make me feel like a failure if I let them.

Instead, I pull out my calendar and see all the times I know it will be difficult to stick to low calorie eating. I make sure I can up the intensity of my workouts during that time, but I don’t plan to follow the restrictive eating plan.

Why set myself up for failure? Instead, I shoot for MAINTAINING the strides I’ve already made.

After the week of vacation, I return to another 21-day focused eating and exercise plan. At the end, I give myself a week or a weekend to relax in the kitchen.

No, I don’t eat everything in sight. Usually, I’ll reward myself with pizza (and I don’t eat the whole thing) or baked goods (that I give away or share so I don’t eat them all). Then my head is in the right spot to do another 21 to 30-day focused weight loss plan.

It could take me six months or ten months to lose those fifteen pounds, but that’s still LESS time than it took to gain them.

5. Change isn’t always Better

Sadly, change isn’t always the best course of action. It’s difficult to admit this in a post extolling the virtues of metamorphosis.

I’m not talking about YOU attempting to improve something and it falls apart. That’s failure. And failing is the key to success.

Sometimes we were OKAY in an area of life we decided needed to change. Maybe we’ve decided to double the number of books we read in a year. Reading is great, right?

But if we forfeit family time, sleep and preparing nutritious meals (because we’re reading!) then we’ve missed the point of making a change.

Sometimes, we are healthy even if we aren’t a size six anymore. This doesn’t mean we should indulge in a daily dose of ice cream or cookies. Let’s not become UNHEALTHY. But we don’t have to strictly count every calorie. If we miss a workout, there’s no need for self-flagellation.

If reading self-help books makes me adopt a negative self-image, this isn’t a change for the better. We must weigh the change from every angle.

The world is filled with excellent things that I’ve never tried. And if I tried them they could hurt me or deter me from the best course for my life.

So it’s important to remember that a change doesn’t have to be permanent. If you make a change and discover it’s actually detrimental to your life purpose or mental or emotional health, you can change back. Or better yet, re-evaluate WHY you wanted to change that and see if there’s another way to achieve the end result you desire.

What have you learned about change? Have you experienced any of these five lessons about change first-hand?

Is Confidence Linked to Appearance?

Image courtesy of inbetweenathlete.com

We’re going to a company picnic – my husband’s company picnic – and I pull shorts and tank tops out of the dresser. After all, it’s late July and the temperature is predicted to be near 90.

These shorts pinch my waist. All those sleeveless shirts will draw attention to my less-than-firm triceps. Shorts that hit mid-thigh will ride up when I sit down and the flabby part of my leg will peek out.

It’s official. I have nothing to wear. I look terrible in all of these outfits. Even though I’ve been walking or running every weekday morning throughout the summer and lifting weights two days per week, my over-40 body doesn’t become the summery outfits which would best suit this event.

I pull the capris out of my closet and the process begins again.

If this is you, I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Not really. I think the fact that women spend so much time thinking about their appearance is a travesty. Especially when I read this:

“In general, women are much more concerned about their appearance than men are. The key reason for this is that their appearance is central to how they are evaluated by others” (Jackson, L. A. from Physical Appearance and Gender).

Why are women evaluated by others based on appearance? Whatever the reason, it makes 90% of all women want to change something about their appearance according to these statistics.

According to Dr. Nigel Barber, “Women also spend huge amounts of money on clothes, cosmetics, and other products and services that enhance their physical appearance.” Is this because women feel insecure about their appearance? After all, society will judge them based on the way they look.

Unfortunately, society as a whole may judge us on external standards, such as physical appearance. Women need to build up an arsenal to fight against the negative impact this can have on our confidence and self-esteem.

Some weapons against the warped standards society sets for women are:

  • Positive self-talk: You are your own worst enemy. I avoid mirrors once I’m done getting ready in the morning. This helps me forget about my bad hair day or the extra roll above my waistband. When I look and think, “Ugh. I need to lose weight” I immediately remind myself of the three miles I ran that morning or check out a picture of the two healthy sons my body sustained for 10 months and then brought into the world. (By the way, Victoria’s Secret is that no one looks like a supermodel in their underwear.)
  • Healthy relationships: It’s comforting that my husband doesn’t think I need to wear makeup. He tells me I’m beautiful first thing in the morning (even when I still have morning breath). Don’t put yourself in a relationship with someone who puts down your appearance.
  • Realistic friendships: If you befriend the pretty girl, you’ll be surprised to realize she’s even more insecure about her looks than you are. How can that be? Looks are fleeting. We age and faces wrinkle while skin sags. It’s inevitable. If we put our confidence in our appearance, we know it’s a time bomb. Surround yourself with people who value the inner characteristics that make a person beautiful. When you’re encouraged by the truth from people who see the real you, it inspires confidence (but don’t mistake healthy self-esteem for over-confident pride).
  • A different focus:  In this article, one woman admits: “I realized that there was a marked difference between staying strong and healthy and being critical of every curve of my body, hyperaware of how things drape and present to the outside world.” We need to focus on our purpose in life. Even the supermodel and actress can’t hang all their dreams on their physical appearance. Focus on being the best mother, wife, writer, teacher, lawyer or whatever. As women, we have more than one role and none of them really need us to weigh 100 pounds and have a 36-26-36 figure.

Really. They don’t.