Resisting the good

22 Oct

Last week I was facilitating a leadership workshop on encouragement. We were discussing practical, every day ways to be encouraging to our co-workers or family and friends. We talked about saying thank you, using people’s first names, writing notes, and just plain old sharing of yourself as ways to encourage others.  Somebody talked about going through the line at Starbucks and the person ahead of them paid for their coffee.  Somebody else shared a story of how they received a compliment from another parent when they had no idea that what they were doing for their kid was helping other kids. All great ways we can encourage each other.

Then one of the participants mentioned her discomfort in being recognized or in receiving encouragement. She talked about how she didn’t like the attention, but has now learned to just say “thank you” even though she is still uncomfortable. This seemed to really strike a chord with the rest of the crowd.  People started sharing how uncomfortable they are in being recognized for their work, either publicly or in private. They didn’t like receiving compliments either. Everybody in the room seemed to agree that giving encouragement felt good, but receiving it was uncomfortable. This got me thinking…why do we resist good?

Do you dismiss compliments? Do you spend more time looking at what is missing instead of what you have? Do you let others recognize or celebrate your achievements big and small? Do you deflect attention from yourself? Does accepting assistance from someone else make you feel uncomfortable? Do you focus more on your shortcomings than your strengths? if you answered yes to any of these questions, you my friend, need to start accepting good…and start doing it RIGHT NOW.

To get something different, you need to do something different. Start accepting the good instead of resisting it. Accept the compliments and believe them. Let others help you…they are showing they care about you. Accept recognition for your accomplishments…you earned it. See the good in yourself and celebrate it. It takes a conscious decision every day, sometimes seven times a day, to look for and accept good. Is this freaking you out?  Then start small.  Think about 1 thing you do well, 1 area you have made progress, 1 thing of which you are proud, 1 compliment you received recently.  Own it. Celebrate it. Share it.



Make it a priority

3 Sep

Over a year ago (May 2012 to be exact), I started a construction project in my house. While not the one doing the work, I was the one living in the mess. In a not-so-genius move, I swiped off all the stuff from my kitchen table and put it in a laundry basket. I was in a hurry to get it out of the way so I put the basket in my office.  My plan was to take care of it all once the construction was done and the dust settled.

Today I went in to my office and this is what I see:


There it is….15 months later….waiting to be emptied….with my Northwestern diploma on the top.

I had great plans….but never followed through.  The task was simple…but it never made it to the top of the priority list. I know the basket is sitting there waiting for me…but I find a reason to not go in to my office. It was tied to something important to me…getting that diploma on the wall…but that didn’t do much to motivate me. Besides, I have competing priorities…a whole house to clean, a dog that needs attention, and candy that is just not going to crush itself. All the while really, really wanting that basket emptied.

Walking by the basket does not mean it will get emptied. Neither does thinking about all the great laundry I could carry in it. Thinking about how great it would be to sit in the recliner and read a good book was no help either. If I wanted the basket emptied I would have to actually do something to empty it. I have to set aside an hour to sort through the paper, file, and shred, and figure out what to do with the other things in there.

The same goes for any change you are making in your life.  You need to make it a priority….are you in or out? No more excuses, no more side tracks. Quit wishing and hoping and dreaming. Set the time aside and get it done. You either are or you are not eating better than you did yesterday. You either are or are not moving more. Fill in the blank…are you doing it or not?

To get something different, you need to do something different. Make it a priority…empty the laundry basket.


When all else fails, break a sweat

29 Aug

If there is anything I have learned over the past year, it is the basics always hold true. Today’s reminder: When all else fails, break a sweat.

It’s been quite a week. I will spare you the ugly details, but I will say that I am struggling to keep my head above water. No, that’s too dramatic. I am treading water for what feels like days. There is no sun, no breeze, nobody else is in the pool. I am kicking my legs and moving my arms and I’m getting tired. While I’m grateful to be able to tread water and not drown, I’m still frustrated that I’m not moving forward. So what do I do?

The old auto pilot has reared its ugly head. hmmm…I’m feeling tired and stressed so let’s eat sugar…..great idea. I have gathered significant evidence to prove that I feel physically and mentally worse when this old habit kicks in, yet I seem to start here. So now that I realize it has, I need to change what I’m doing…that whole “do something different to get something different” thing. So I tried listening to music, deep breathing, reading, and talking about it. None of that worked. I still felt like crap.

Then tonight I went to a Zumba class. I walked in frustrated and grumpy. I was frustrated about the events of the day. I was frustrated that I am still not back to 100% from my injury and that I have to ease back in to working out. I am frustrated that…(fill in the blank with a bunch of other reasons. And then I just forgot it all and started to dance. Well, at least my version of dancing since my hips just don’t move like Zumba requires.

I could have stayed home tonight to pout. I choose to get out and move. What amazed me a year ago, and what I was reminded of tonight, our bodies are made to move. When you do what it needs, it gives you what you need. Today it was a shift in perspective. To get something different, I need to do something different. Before the old auto pilot even has a chance to kick in, I am going to start with breaking a sweat.


3 Aug

“You know that whole I can do anything for 10 weeks thing? How did you do it really?” I have to say I honestly love questions like this. They give me an opportunity reminisce about everything that has happened and all of my progress over the last year. More importantly, it gives me the chance to encourage someone who is on a similar journey.  There are many things that contribute to my success, and one of the most important is a change in belief.

First, you need to believe you can handle today. This is an important point. I’m not asking you to believe you can lose 25 or 50 or 100 pounds, or that you can run forever or that you will never eat a cookie again. Many people starting their weight loss journey are super overwhelmed because they focus on the end point and it looks super unobtainable. Scratch that. You need to believe that for the next 24 hours you can and will make good choices that keep you on the path to success. What those choices look like on day 1 will be very different from day 25 and day 365. The key is to figure out what today needs to look like and make it happen. All these days will add up to weeks and months of success. You do not have to believe 100 pounds is possible.  You need to believe today is possible.

The other thing you need to believe is that you are worth it. You are worth the time, energy, money, sweat, and tears. You are worth the cost of a gym membership or a new pair of running shoes. You are worth the nourishment of freshly prepared food. You are worth a good night’s sleep. You are worth a 45 minute walk. The best things in life are not handed to us, they are earned. You are worth everything that goes in to every pound lost. I promise you, with 100% certainty, you are worth it. If you are not convinced, work up to it. For 15 minutes a day believe and act like you are worth it. Do something to take care of yourself. The next week, add another 15 minutes. Pretty soon you will find you are convinced.

To get something different, you need to do something different. Believe in yourself. Believe you can handle today. Believe you are worth it.


31 Jul

Limit: the point, edge, or line beyond which something cannot or may not proceed.

Tonight I was the crazy lady walking the track.  There was a frown on my face. My body language said “pissed off” and my pace was fast. I put on my angry music and took off walking (lame!). Every time I lapped another walker I would curse them in my head. At one point I caught myself swearing out loud.  Why all the grumpiness?  I am working with a new (and hopefully temporary) physical limit.

The instructions were to limit my activity to walking or swimming.  Total crap I tell you. I have worked too long and too hard to be told I can walk or swim.  I am finally hitting some real fitness goals and am “this close” to running a half marathon and you tell me to walk or swim, no weight lifting, no sit ups, no kickboxing, no yoga? Yeah, okay. That sounds grrrrrreat….. Sure, let me give up anything that makes me break a sweat. Awesome.

The longer I walked, the more I started to relax. It’s amazing how a simple walk can clear your head. I saw myself walking the track a year ago. My pace was much slower and I was sweating like crazy. I faced a limit of “cannot proceed” because of all the extra weight I carried. I was out of shape and I hated almost every minute of the workout but I did it anyway. I showed up and worked out every day because I did not want to be limited by my body any longer.

Fast forward to today where I faced a limit of “may not proceed”. It took all I had not to run. That’s why the fiercely independent (stubborn) me was so mad today. I mean, if you think about it, I earned this… I did the work… I lost the weight… Well Anne, you can think what you want, but the instructions were to walk or swim, end of story. I never thought I would be in a place where I was itching to be active, but here I am. This limit has been really hard on my heart and on my mind. I don’t like limits anyway, and knowing that pushing a limit now can make an injury even worse…  gggrrrrr…

To get something different, you have to do something different. Instead of focusing on the limit itself, I shifted my focus to success within the limit. It took 3o minutes of walking and thinking to shift my focus, but I did. I showed up, followed directions, and walked (okay, I cheated and did pushups too), all within my limits.

My new hero

12 Jul

Here is a story about my new hero, Kim Guarino.

Last weekend she organized a special boot camp class at Fit Code as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Even though it was an hour away and “in the city” I decided to go because it was for a great cause. Kim recommended I park on the residential side street and as I turned the corner, I saw this woman walking by in a bright orange t-shirt. At first I thought nothing of it, but then I did a double take and thought to myself “holy crap, that’s Kim!” She looked AMAZING.

Kim used to be a big girl like me. Sometime in the last year she started working out at Fit Code with her husband and they are both turning in to super fit rock stars.

I had a blast that Saturday morning and it was a really great workout. There are 10 stations around the room (squats, push ups, high knees, box jumps, chest press, etc.). You move through the stations with 45 seconds of work, 15 seconds of break for 3 rounds all finished by some core work. It is a challenging workout for people of all fitness levels. This is where they started. I am in total awe of what they have accomplished.

For those of you that have been fit your whole life, the importance of this is probably lost on you. It is like putting on a football uniform and your first game is the super bowl. Sure I can hang with them now. But a year ago, there is NO WAY you would have found me in a class like that. Way too hard, with way too many people to watch the fat kid struggle. Kim and Chris showed up time and again. Amazing. Something to be so proud of. The work pays off….here is the evidence. It was just the inspiration I needed to refocus on my own fitness goals.

Kim and I post-workout

Kim and I post-workout


The Cougar Wall of Pride

14 May

Back in the day in high school, I took conditioning gym. The reason I signed up for it was because it did not involve a team sport, wearing a gross rented swim suit, or having a ball thrown at me on a regular basis. I just wanted to show up, walk, and go back to class.

Once a year we had to do the president’s fitness challenge which included running a mile. It was my senior year and Mr Mc Coy was my teacher. The class headed outside to run on the track. I was “lucky” in being part of the second run, which meant I got to sit there for an extra 15 minutes or so thinking about how slow I was, how much I didn’t want to run, and how much the boys in the class would make fun of me. I hated gym class with a passion.

Mr Mc Coy started the clock and off I went, waaaaaay behind everyone else in the group. I want to say I finished somewhere in the 14-15 minute range but I have no idea. I remember being totally out of breath and completely mortified for finishing so far behind everyone, but I did it. As the boys in the class made fun of me, Mr McCoy yelled at them and told me I did a good job. He even nominated me for the Cougar Wall of Pride. That meant I got a note from him, a little pin of the face of a cougar (the school mascot), and my name on the wall in the main hall way. Nobody knew why I was up there, but let me tell you, I was proud every time I walked by and saw my name. I actually ran a mile.

Flash forward…. Tonight I was on the treadmill and hit the first mile in 9:36 and the second mile in 9:16….a personal best pace for me. During the second mile, I just kept thinking to myself “how about this for the cougar wall of pride Mr Mc Coy?”As I watched the distance thingy on the treadmill, I imagined myself rounding the corners of my high school track. Engage your core, power through your legs, breathe. And when I was done I felt the same pride I did when I got my note from Mr Mc Coy. These are the things I never thought were possible, but here I am.

Even when you don’t believe in yourself, other people do. Believe them….you can do more than you can imagine.