Eff My Fitbit

Years ago, after my twins were born, I bought a pedometer. It was just a simple thing that I attached to my clothing so I could keep track and I committed to myself to increasing my activity level, in hopes of speeding up the return to my pre-baby weight. I think my first goal was 5,000 steps. Over the years since then I’ve graduated from that simple pedometer to my Fitbit which, in addition to tracking my steps, let me know how long I was sleeping, and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t really pay attention to. I used the Fitbit to keep track of my progress toward that 10,000/day goal. I enjoyed that Fitbit when we were in Rome clocking 20,000 every day surrounded by ancient architecture. Here at home I kept the dog and I moving in precise ways for specific amounts of time to meet my goal.

This relationship with my weird watch seems pretty reasonable if we make some basic assumptions. The first assumption that we have to agree to is that more activity is always an inherently good thing. The second assumption that we have to agree to is that measuring is the way to get that to happen. The third implied assumption here is that if we didn’t use some device to spur on a competition with ourselves, there would be no change.

self-love for weight lossThese assumptions make the Fitbit just one more in a long line of devices and strategies used by women to make our bodies “better,” “right,” “more beautiful,” which means: “smaller.” The goal of being smaller is assumed. We agree that measuring (and shaming) is a good way to get there. And we are certain that without some sort of external discipline giver, there will be no change. We will be hopeless.

I had bought in. I’ve judged myself in the mirror based on size. I shuddered at the “big boned” title I bore in earlier years. I have been an external discipline-giver extraordinaire. I’ve used all manner of measuring (how many steps, how many miles, how many calories, how many inches, what size number, what BMI, what heart rate). I’ve created a variety of rules for myself (no fat, low fat, high fiber, no meat, clean meat, whole grain, no grain, less sugar, no sugar, no dairy, no soy – no these weren’t all at the same time). I’ve assumed that if left to my own devices nothing would ever change.

What I didn’t realize is that I was never actually left to my own devices because I was not paying attention to the best device I had. I was not paying attention to how I felt. I was not paying attention to how foods felt in my body. I was not paying attention to how different kinds of exercise felt to my body (hello bone spurs and surgery). I was not paying attention to the good feelings I got from healthful foods and stopping eating when I was satisfied. I was not paying attention to the energy and lightness of being that I felt after exercising.

tracking steps for weight lossI needed the external device because I wasn’t paying any attention to the guidance I had all along. I needed the external device because I was determined to look how I “should” and I was sure I couldn’t be trusted to handle that mission.

As you can guess if you’ve been following along for a while, things have changed a bit. Now the internal guidance IS the device. It is where I turn for instruction on how to take care of this body. It is where I turn to hear the signals and feel the signs. It is where I turn to take note of what works and doesn’t work. It is where I turn to decide what weight feels good, what exercise feels good, what kind of food feels good.

THAT is what being left to your own devices can be, if you learn to listen.

I was still wearing my Fitbit until a couple of days ago, mostly out of habit. The toggle button had fallen off a while back, so it’s functions were more limited, but I kept on charging it up and putting it back on. I would occasionally look at it while walking, but more and more often I noticed that I wasn’t using that information to make any decisions.

More and more I was using my own feedback and considering factors like the weather and the capacity of my aging canine friend. We go longer on good days, shorter on bad. The pace and the path are determined by what I and he need. Whether I listen to a podcast or not is determined by whether or not I need quiet. My other exercise has been figured out by trial and error – what makes me feel strong and capable, what makes my body feel good, what leaves me feeling energized and satisfied.

And so a couple of days ago I took that Fitbit off. I set aside its measurements and its task of inspiring me to compete with myself (and others). I set aside the ugly band that I hated seeing. I set aside its online awards and graphs. I am left to my own devices and boy does that feel good.

Only Really Good Chocolate Please

Another Halloween has come and gone.

And, as usual, my estimates for our candy needs were wildly inaccurate.

My purchases for the last several years have been a perfect indication of what is NOT going to happen.

I started with the very large Costco bag of classic chocolate treats which I planned to pair with a bowl of glow in the dark spiders, snakes and skeletons for the non-chocolate crowd. It was a big bag (’cause Costco) but I had a moment of doubt. And so I bought a second very large bag of non-chocolate based treats, telling myself it was best for kids with allergies to have other options that were treats and what if we have as many as we had two years ago and I don’t want to run out and… blah, blah, blah.

So I bought the extra bag. We now have half a bag of each left (maybe a little more of the chocolate than the others) and we only have that little because I totally loaded the last several ghouls and goblins down with handfuls (as the rest of the neighborhood did by looking at my kids’ haul). In years past this would have been a problem. In the past I’ve always seen Halloween as the beginning of the slow slide into non-stop eating for me, starting just one Twix and KitKat at a time.

How to stop eating candyI did eat some candy last night. Little mini versions of two my former favorites and a newcomer (that my daughter gave me). I ate a Twix, still good but not amazing. I ate a 100,000 bar (less good but good), and a Hershey’s dark chocolate over caramel thing (better by far, but definitely not amazing). I discovered that there is really no danger in my having this leftover candy. There really is no danger because I’ve changed.

Over the last couple of years I’ve become a curator of what I eat. I’ve paid really close attention to what feels good in my body, what feels good in my brain, and what is worth any not good feeling that it might bring. I’ve discovered that eating lots of sweets doesn’t make me feel good. I knew this and it was a long-term step down for me (a journey my sister and I took together and explain how to accomplish here), but I hadn’t gotten over Halloween candy yet. My attention wasn’t as keenly focused. I hadn’t realized that when I eat it, it makes me hungry. It creates its own cravings and if I listen to those cravings and eat enough of it, I feel jittery and don’t sleep as well. I hadn’t realized that it is so much easier to maintain a weight that feels good to me when I don’t eat much in the way of sweets. I hadn’t realized that I wasn’t even enjoying it in the kind of orgasmic way my kids seem to. But now I’ve noticed all of these things and I just don’t want it the way I used to.

We’ll figure out something to do with this candy (maybe even save the non-chocolate bits for next year because goodness knows that crap never goes bad), but there’s no emergency here. I’ll get rid of it because I don’t feel like figuring out where to store it. I’ll get rid of it because it’s taking up space that we could use for something else. Now that I’m paying attention, I’d rather have nothing than a bag of Crunch bars. I’d certainly rather have one piece of really high quality dark chocolate with sea salt and caramel than a bag of Crunch bars.

Breaking bad habitsAnd now that I’m think about it, this lesson seems to be playing out across the board for me. I’m paying more attention to what feels right in my life and it makes it so much easier to get rid of the things that just don’t fit anymore: the clothes, the stuff, the books, the obligations, the people pleasing… wait, what? Yes, I group them all together – the physical and the emotional – because the beginning is the same in all of those cases: being willing to pay close attention to what I am doing and whether or not it is serving me.

That awareness makes changing habits and decluttering a matter of shedding skin rather than imposing discipline. That awareness allows those changes to be an act of self-discovery rather than a vow to crack down or get serious. That awareness is an act of self-love, and if you are anything like I used to be, you could really use some more of that.

What are you eating? What are you wearing? What’s around your house and on your calendar? Why are you choosing these things? Are you paying attention? Is it serving you? Is it as good as really great chocolate or is it a Crunch bar (yes, they’re my least favorite)? What would paying really close attention change in you?

If you’d like some help in learning to pay this kind of attention so you can shed some old skin, old habits, old parts of yourself, sign up for a Discovery Call. Let’s see if we can’t get that change started for you.

A Letter to My Body

Dear Body,

I want to write you a love letter, but I know what you need first is an apology or my compliments will sound shallow and empty. So, there we are. I’m not good at saying it, but I really am sorry.

Slide1I’m so sorry for all of the times I had unkind thoughts about you. I’m so sorry for all of the times I blamed you for the way my clothes fit. I’m so sorry for all of the times I wouldn’t even look at you in the mirror. I’m more sorry for only seeing flaws when I did look. I’m so sorry for treating you like a traitor, an enemy, something to fight and work against. I’m so sorry for not loving you. I’m sorry for the times I decided to eat next to nothing. I’m sorry for the times I decided to eat mostly junk. I’m sorry for deciding that you weren’t worthy of better treatment than both. I’m sorry for not using you better, for either neglecting or deciding to run marathons starting now. Continue reading → A Letter to My Body