Monday, December 17, 2007

A Tool to Call my Own

As all my reader's know, my own journey has been lit in 2007 by the fire known as Brooke Castillo. On Feb. 11, 2007 I ordered her book, If I'm so Smart, Why can't I lose weight?: Tools to Get it Done, on an Amazon whim. I read her book in March and began working directly with her in May. Brooke's work has inspired me to truly connected with my own spirit in ways I'd never previously have thought possible. Tonight, inspired by the tools in Brooke's work, I created my first Tool to call my own. I'm writing about it here so you can put it in your tool set!

One of the ways Brooke helps you to connect with yourself is by suggesting you not eat until you are hungry and you stop eating when you are full. When you eat past the point of satiation (a.k.a. eating past 2), Brooke suggests you ask yourself why. This is something that's always been really hard for me and tonight I invented a tool that will make that easier for me.

Tonight I went to dinner with a friend. Before I left my house I had a banana and macadamia nuts and a banana when I was at -2. i left my house at a 0 or 1. At the restarant when we ordered i was at a -2 and we got calamari and I had a few - maybe 10 little rings of calamari - just enough to enjoy. When the meatloaf came I was probably at a 0. about 1/3rd of the way through I was at a 2.

Why did I keep eating?

I would ask myself that and the answer would come back "I don't know" so I came up with this check list of sorts which hits upon many of the reasons I normally eat past two. I asked each question and waiting a few long minutes for an answer.

Was I hiding something?

Was I covering something up?

Was feeling bad about something?

Was I running late for something?

Was I trying to stuff a feeling or forget about something?

Was I anxious about something?

BAM!!! Got one here. Actually this is really resonating. Tomorrow I have a big work out with Brian, my personal trainer. I've been trying to keep up with his workouts on my own but they are too hard for me. I can't remember all the core strength exercises, I can't do the times he has in the plan, I can't even figure out how to clip my bike shoes into the damn pedals. Obviously the schedule he did for me for this week was "easy" and I can't even do this. If I can't do this, how will I ever get to the point where i can do this tri. Yeah this is it - if I am in training I shouldn't eat this stuff. This isn't fuel enough. I'm not going to be able to do these workouts keep up with Brian so I might as well sabotage myself by overeating. OOOOO I got it! This is exactly what the issue is. I have to get up especially early for our workout tomorrow and all through the meal i was planning my morning - how I would get up early, how hard it was going to be etc etc.

I am sure this is why I overate to prove the thought I won't be able to keep up with BRIAN.

And now, for the fun stuff... THE FOUR QUESTION TURNAROUND... TAA DAH!

I won't be able to keep up with the workouts Brian gives me.

Is it true? Clearly.
Can I be sure? No
How do I react when I think this thought? I eat past two, I fret, I doubt myself, I talk myself out of my goals, I lose my competitive / goal-setting spirit, I do not honor my highest athletic self, I am overwhelmed to the point of needing a nap
Who would I be without this thought... at dinner.... with a really yummy plate of food. I would be someone who ate to 2!!! Without this thought I would also be confident in my ability to find a trainer who will push me to the point of excitement but nto breaking and confident that if he wasn't a good fit as a trainer, I'd find another trainer. I'd be someone who was excited to fuel my body rather than to punish myself for not being good enough to keep up with a new trainer's work outs.

WHEW!!! I feel amazing right now I can TOTALLLY keep up with the workouts Brian gives me.

Evidence I can keep up with Brian's workouts:
1) I have so far.
2) I was amazing in our first session together and I've done everything he's had on the schedule so far.
3) Brian explained his workouts were a draft and that we would modify them as he learned more about where I am.
4) Brian hasn't seemed even a little bit worried about me completing this event in April.
5) At no extra charge Brian is spending an extra 30 minutes with me tomorrow to help me on the spinning bike so that I am even MORE able to complete his workouts.
6) Brian's biggest rule is to workout hard but not experience pain. If I couldn't keep up with his workouts, he'd modify them for me as he already has.
7) Whether or not I can do the workouts on his first draft schedule do not say anything about whether or not I can do this event.

And so that's my first tool of my own. Can't wait until the next time I get to use it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Deciding to Decide

Vegas has been such an incredible learning experience. What does taking care of myself look like? Sometimes it means NOT working out. Sometimes it means eating past 2 when the Swordfish still tastes good and your fully connected. Sometimes it means accepting that consciously deciding not to decide is a decision.

At one point on this trip I was thinking of going home early because I missed my little boy and I was afraid the second conference was going to be boring. I worked the Four Question Turn arounds on this but I was still stuck, so I shared my quandry with Brooke. Here's what I told her:

On 11/10/07 12:40 AM, "Angela Lauria" wrote:

> I so often feel torn like this - maybe because I am so
> analytical but I can see all the great reasons to go and all the great reasons
> to stay and I get really caught in this pros/cons list loop and I can't
> decide. It's the homology of form for my relationship with Rachan. I feel
> trapped because I feel like it's 50/50 whether I should stay or go - in Vegas
> or with Rachan. I get (intellectually) that it's my job to just pick - if it
> is 50/50 I have nothing to lose. What I am picking instead is being confused
> so there is something about being confused that serves me - here's the thing -
> let's say I picked to go home Monday - And then it turned out the conference
> was great - I'd totally regret it, kick myself, stress out. Let's say I stay
> and it's boring - same thing. It's like decisions like this come and I decide
> to beat myself up no matter what happens.

I was on the way to an epiphany and Brooke took me over the hump.
"Confused is good because....confused can't really fail," she told me. "Confused doesn't really take action. Confused is noncommittal. Confused is sidelines...."

And there it is - a lie I have been telling myself. "I'm noncommittal. I'm sidelines. I don't take action." This is in deep conflict with my authentic self. And so, my true, unchangeable north start self taps me on the shoulder with pounds and negative emotions...
"Hey - Hey you... you're not sidelines; you're "all-in."

Finding this one literally added years to my life. It's such a relief to be free of it. I'm not sidelines... I'm ALL IN! So from now on, no waffling in indecision. I'm all about making choices and being accountable for the consequences, because anything less is inauthentic and unacceptable. It's playing small with the universe. And it's not acceptable to me any longer.

What lies do you tell yourself?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Don't Feel So Good

For a long time I didn't choose to take care of myself. I didn't feel like I deserved to be taken care of some days - and on other days I felt like someone else should come take care of me. But I've been falling in love with accountability lately and now I get it's no one else's job but mine. Lucky me!

This recent befriending I've done with myself and my body have led to a lot of early mornings at the gym, meetings with a marathon coach at my office, sessions with a personal trainer at my gym, fitness testing with a biking coach, and a lot of really healthy food going into my person. Fabulous!

But now I'm sick. I've been sick for some time - over a week. I'm asking myself, for the first time ever, what does it look like to take care of yourself when you are sick. Does it mean I go back to the gym or wait? Take of work for a day? a week?

I'm in Vegas now, 8 days in to a 10 day course of antibiotics and I feel awful. I want to work out, but taking care of myself means staying in bed, drinking water, and watching the rollercoaster riders outside my window. And hey, while I'm here, I might as well question the thoughts that make me think taking care of myself is hard.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Qualities of the butterfly I want to be and see more actively in my life...

  1. Calm
  2. Objective
  3. Balanced
  4. Inspiring
  5. Clarity
  6. Wisdom
  7. Flexibility
  8. Graceful
  9. Collaborative
  10. Beautiful

Monday, September 03, 2007

My Virtual Vision Board

Have you read The Secret? Shortly after I read it in March I made a Vision Board. It turns out Vision Boards are old school. Here's the new version. I got to make myself a Virtual Vision Board AND learn iMovie at the same time so forgive the rookie editing. Man, this was FUN!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

13 Things I'd do if I were Thin...

  1. Wear a bikini
  2. Sunbath topless
  3. Go for a jog
  4. Go white water rafting in a bikini top and short shorts
  5. Do a cartwheel (never have yet!)
  6. Home VBAC my next baby
  7. Check my smile in mirrors as I walk by them
  8. Ride every roller coaster in the amusement park
  9. Take a private helicopter tour of the south island in New Zealand
  10. Spend a day hiking or biking with Jesse when he is older
  11. Go parasailing in Hawaii
  12. Laugh hysterically as my lover picks me up and spins me around
and the most important thing I will do when I am thin
  1. Be focused on JESSE and not myself when I dance the mother/son dance at his wedding

Saturday, August 18, 2007

DON'T Live Each Day As If It Were Your Last.

I was in the gym today and it occurred to me it was time to drop the thought: Live each day as if it were your last. If it were my last day, I would not start a work out program, I would not hire a weight loss coach, I would not end or start any major relationships, I would be worse than hopeless - I would be someone who didn't even have a thought about hope - ful or less.

Here are some of the other reasons why that philosophy is no longer working for me:
  1. Living each day as if it were your last can be very past focusing.
  2. Living each day as if it were your last can be needlessly exhausting - do we really have to cram all that in?
  3. Living each day as if it were your last can be defeatist.
  4. Living each day as if it were your last can be limiting.
  5. And finally, living each day as if it were your last closes doors and finishes chapters rather than opening doors and starting new chapters.
For a while I was thinking I'd suggest "live each day like it was your first" as an alternate strategy. But the problem with that is, on your first day anywhere, you are likely to have no idea what's going on. So that's not exactly right either. So how do I want to live each day - as if it's a gift, an opportunity, a challenge?

For advice on this, I turned to my fabulous 8-year-old nephew who has been visiting me for the week. I asked him to rank by age me (34), George Bush (61), his mom (41), and our sister (39). He said: "I guess you are all about the same age." OUCH! Really?!!? So then I asked about this girl who lives on his street. She is 21, but he's known her since she was in high school - but, she does have a new baby. He admitted she was probably younger (than me and George Bush) but he was sure it was not by that much.

Remember that? Remember when anyone who was an adult went into one big pile? These were the people who had it all figured out. This was the aspiration. When I am old enough I will:
  1. know what I want to be
  2. write my own rules (or at least know what they are)
  3. not have anyone boss me around
News Flash little Joey. It doesn't quite work out that way. I can list quite a few folks in their 60s who are still trying to figure out the above. Still waiting until they are old enough.

And so... I present to you .... my newest truism.


Okay, pithy it's not. I'll work on that. But I think it's got potential. And it saves me from waking up every morning and calling everyone I have ever loved and telling them what they mean to me.

Don't be shy - click on that comment button and edit me - or at least, tell me your truism!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gandhi & Miracles

MY GOD - I did it - I picked Gandhi over Bush. I put down my sword for an entire conversation with my husband!!!!

Here's how the conversation went:

R*: Your problem is you are too emotional.
Me: I understand
R*: You understand or you agree
Me: I agree you think my problem is I am too emotional.
R*: But you are too emotional how can you not agree.
Me: Hmmm
R*: What does hmmm me?
Me: I'm just thinking about it
R*: Well good - you should.
Me: Yeah, it's a lot of work this examining yourself stuff, huh?!

And that was it! The conversation end?!?! No fight. It was actually a little warm and fuzzy. He may not ever remember it. He cast his bait and I figured out how not to bite and it felt great. It wasn't even hard. I just agreed. I WANTED to agree. It wasn't hard or forced or miserable or angry. I JUST AGREED TRULY IN MY HEART with every word I said. REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY Amazing!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Harder to Give than Receive

Yesterday was my first day back in DC. My original plan was to hit the gym before work, but I couldn't quite get out of my own way in the morning. I decided I'd go after work but 5:30 came and went and I didn't get to the gym. It's interesting because all day I was focused on the thought "I can overcome procrastination and obstacles to give myself the gift of exercise," apparently not!

What happened yesterday?

My thoughts and feelings were all quite good at least I wasn't feeling any emotional pain, so why didn't I get to the gym? Clearly it wasn't prioritized, but why? I guess because there are so many things on my plate right now. The house is a mess (does not fit 4 people!), I have all this mail and email to catch up on from the week, I have my nephew Joey with me this week, and I need to find us a place to live since this house I wanted to buy didn't work out.

Yesterday, I prioritized all that over my health because its more immediate.

Bang! There's the thought!

Sometimes (often?) the immediate fires in my life are more important than my health.

Is it true? Yes.
Can I be sure? No.
How do I react when I think this thought? Well, I prioritize my health near the bottom because there are always fires. Also, I feel stressed all the time dealing with fires. I put FIRES at the center of my life.
Who would I be without this thought? I could be someone who chooses to prioritize my health. I could be someone who overcomes obstacles to give myself the gift of exercise!

Turnaround: The immediate fires in my life are NEVER more important than my health.
Is it as true or truer? HELL YES!
Evidence: Without my health, I won't have any fires to fight. Also this is a poison believe system PUSHING me toward a health fire.

I do not want a health fire and will not choose to have one.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Here they are: The Dragon Slayers!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I am a....Dragon Slayer

In an earlier session, Brooke asked us to complete the sentence, I am a.... I said Powerful Woman. But I did one better today. I am definitely a Dragon Slayer. I've done some slaying this week and there is more to come. In today's session we broke into small groups, made promises to ourselves, and a plan to work with the group to keep us accountable. Here's mine:

Starting today I promise myself that by the end of the year, I'll be exercising - as a gift to myself - on a regular basis. I defined regular basis as 4 times a week for 60 minutes or 6 times a week for 30 minutes. I asked the group to hold me accountable by receiving emails about my exercise for the week which will include my thoughts (and associated turn arounds) about exercising. I've asked the girls in my group: M*, T*, K*, and L* to point out when they think I am acting like a taker and not giving myself the gift of exercise.

Now here is the kicker.... we did an "or else". So, if I don't meet this goal, if I don't CHOOSE to give myself the gift of regular exercise by 8/8/08, I have made a promise to make a $1,000 contribution to an ANTI-CHOICE organization and present the receipt from the donation to the entire group from this week's retreat. Awful, huh? You better believe I will be getting my ass to the gym!

Some of the other consequences from women in my group were: writing a 10 page, footnoted research paper on emotional eating; copying, by hand, 50 pages of Brooke's book selected by the women in our group, having Brooke post a picture of the woman in a bikini one size too small on Brooke's website, and doing a 10-page scrapbook with pictures and stickers galore on how the woman is a caring person. Each consequence was especially hard for the woman assigned to it. For instance, there is no way I could have gotten away with writing a 10 page research paper, you all know I would love that too much.

The name of my small group by the way? The Dragon Slayers.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pain is the Wrong Way Buzzer:

Or, How I Learned Pain was Good on my Summer Vacation

When I came here, I was afraid of pain. I looked for evidence pain was wrong or bad or "to be avoided" at every turn. But pain isn't bad. That's just my thought about pain. Pain is the wrong way buzzer. It starts as a whisper and gathers steam. It does not leave. And if it needs to, it can be as strong as a brick to the head. Pain gets you moving in the right direction. As Marianne Williamson says, you can learn through joy or through pain. And while I still prefer to pick learning through joy, I can do pain.

Today we tasted some physical and mental pain on a ropes course. I climbed a 30 foot ladder, but didn't make it across the bridge. Others did. I helped them on their journey but wasn't ready to make a journey of my own to the other side. I climbed up, had a look around, and said, not today thank you very much. I wonder why? Everyone else crossed the chasm. When will I be ready to?

Will I come back to Tahoe and jet across from bridge to bridge, flitting like a butterfly someday, or will I stay grounded to an anchor, several caribbeaners, and a rope rated for 14,500 pounds? All I know for now, is I will be open to sucking, to trying, to being connected to myself. I will allow the corrections to come and focus on my work of removing the obstacles to their arrival.

And what do those obstacles look like? Dirty pain and poisonous thoughts. I will question them both at every turn. Here's an exercise Brooke gave us to help bring up thoughts that need to be questioned:

Take off your clothes and look at yourself naked in the mirror. What feelings come up? Write them down. Remove all the good feelings, leave only the bad ones. For each ask your self why? what does that mean? Or so what? until you find an underlying belief structure. When you find it, work the turn around. So here's an example:

Feeling: I feel ashamed.
Why?: Because I don't like how I look.
So what?: Well it matters to me how I look.
And?: I just don't understand why I can't figure this out after so many tries.

SOOOOO, there's the thought:
I can't figure this out after so many tries.

Is this true? Yes
Can you be absolutely sure? Yes.
How does this thought make you feel? ashamed, hopeless, confused
How does thinking this thought make you act? I give up, fog eat, quit exercising
Who would you be without this thought? hopeful, empowered, like I figured it out, relieved, quiet in my head, an exerciser, a healthy eater.
So what's the turn around?: I have figured this out.

Now, here's the new layer Brooke threw on tonight and I love it. Let's look for evidence that THAT turn around thought is true.
  • I know how to change my thoughts
  • I know how to listen to my body
  • I exercise as a gift to myself
  • I can stop at 2
  • I can feel my feelings
All great evidence that I have figured this out.

And that's how Brooke left us tonight. Live your life as if you have the key to permanent weight loss. Be willing to believe this is the key and act as if you believe it. She suggested one woman in our class (who looks like Kristy Brinkley) follow Brooke's program for just 6 weeks fully believing it's the key she has been searching for. I bet it works.

Getting out of the way... that was my theme for today. I couldn't totally do it out on that ropes course, but I did in some ways. I was able to say no to 3 people as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do, and I didn't worrying about what they would think of me for saying no. That was an accomplishment for sure. And I was able to remain open and positive. I'm proud of that and looking forward to being even more open. The more negative thoughts I can clear, the closer I will be to the results I want. And pain, can come in the form of a negative feeling which will help me identify those thoughts that need changing.

No need to cling to my belief pain needs to be avoided. Bring it. I can do pain.

I'm a Taker. Who knew?!

Last night Lisa (a.k.a. "Skinny Bitch") came over for a glass of wine. We talked about my feelings about exercise and what I said to her was that as per Brooke's advice, I gave up exercising to lose weight. I went into exercise looking to feel good. But when I exercised, I didn't feel good. I felt bad. The thought was: Exercise is punishment. And my feelings were feeling physically bad or in pain. And so therefore, why exercise, right? So when I can't the thought to Exercise should make me feel good. My feeling was disappointment because I DIDN'T feel good. Exercise was letting me down.

What do you notice about this?? I've invested exercise with the power to let me down! Of course exercise can't let me down. No more than a scale or a mirror can be mean. I can't personify exercise and expect anything but a set up for failure.

Lisa picked this up right away. "So you're a taker with exercise. Have you read Brooke's book?"

See, I KNEW she was a bitch. Quickly I moved into searching for evidence mode. Yes I read Brooke's book. I wasn't a "taker." TAKERS are people who exercise and expect to lose weight. I just wanted to feel good.

I went back to the book.... will it surprise you to learn that Lisa, BRILLIANTLY, figured me out. I am a taker about exercise. I read Brooke's chapter all wrong. Here's what she says:

"...I suggest that you don't use [exercise] as a tool to lose weight or see immediate results. (Ed: Like feeling good instantly. Oops, missed that.) I am asking you to make a huge shift from a taker to a giver. ... Many people "take" from exercise what they can get and this usually leads to not liking it and doing activities that are not enjoyable. I want you to use exercise as a way to give to yourself. The distinction is crucial, and it's not merely semantics. ... You will start giving yourself exercise (Ed: here's the part I missed the first time) without expecting anything in return."

The critical piece of information I missed was the word ANYTHING. I thought as long as I wasn't expecting weight loss I was fine. No such luck! I missed the turn around and just shifted from TAKING weight loss to TAKING feeling good. Neither works.

I've shifted from being a taker to a giver and a GIVER is someone who gives the gift of movement, health, strength, and time to themselves. A giver is someone who makes a statement that they are willing to care without regard to what they will get out of it in terms of losing weight or feeling good. I can give my body emotional and physical strength, I can empower myself by overcoming excuses, and I can show my body I know that it is worth my time and energy. Of course it is! Anything less would be selfish.

So goodbye taker and hello giver. After all, I was only robbing myself.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Just Say No to Story Fondling

I'm tired tonight. The walk today just kicked my ass and the thing that makes me feel crappy is that I am not basking in the glow of having worked out hard. I just feel like shit. I can barely remember the afternoon session but that could be because I was distracted. I was thinking about this miracle I performed once where I turned this nasty, horrible co-worker into a love machine just by changing my own thoughts. After the hike it occurred to me that I needed to perform the same miracle on myself in transforming my own self-love situation. I was excited about the fact that I know how to do transformation and confident I could do it.

But in true Brooke style the moment was not to be celebrated for too long. Because tonight we drilled one level down, to love of our spouse. Mercifully, I was not the test case for this evening's exercise. Instead it was this amazing woman M* who has two little girls (3, and 7) and a couch potato husband who is not good company and does not prioritize their family at all. I am sure he is a total loser and a jerk. This, however, was irrelevant to our Brooke.

M*'s question was: "Did I make a mistake marrying my husband?"

Oh girl, there were many of us asking the same question. And Brooke's answer is clear. No you didn't. And you know how we know? BECAUSE YOU MARRIED HIM. Ladies I'm here to tell you, stop arguing with your past and you solve a host of problems. So yes, M* did the right thing in marrying her DH (darling husband). But what now? Should she stay?

Brooke's answer: Don't leave him until you love him.

Confusing? Well here's how the logic goes. You don't love someone for them. It's not a favor. You love someone for you. Love is a generator. If they love you back it's just the gravy - that's not WHY you do it. And, Love is a verb. It's an action you take. A decision you make. You decide to love someone and then you do it. FOR YOURSELF. FULL STOP.

Trying to love someone for his sake is just story fondling. You miss the facts because you get so tied up in the story. So Brooke makes it simple. "Would you RATHER love him or not love him?"

All things being equal - would it feel better to love your husband? So many women in the class were quick to answer. I'd rather not love him and love someone else. Oh yeah? Who? These are YOUR issues he is bring up. Your opportunity to learn these lessons and stay or leave and learn the same lessons with someone else. The goal, says Brooke, is to love your husband and not have him change one thing.

Now, to be clear this doesn't mean you stay. It just means you love him - for YOU. And then, from that place, of total love and total compassion, you make the decision about whether to stay or go.

To help us get there, she's asked us to write a love letter to our husband. One rule, no story fondling. Here's mine.

Dear R*,

When we first met you were a breath of fresh air. And I mean that not in the cliche way, but truly everything about you was fresh, clean, untouched. I loved your innocence, your openness, and your curiosity. Mostly I loved and admired your wild sense of adventure and your passion to create adventure in your own life. And, to be honest, I loved that you brought that in my own life.

I appreciate this about you to this day, even when I try to control those things about you. You are a child of the wind. You go where the spirit blows you, and DAMN it blows you on some crazy journeys. I love how you dive into new subjects you care about and make them your own. I love your passion for new technology and your commitment to shaping a career for yourself that you are wildly in love with.

I'm sorry, that on a day-to-day basis I find it hard to appreciate all the wonderful things about you. I'm sorry, that in the midst of my story fondling I can't celebrate your carefree spirit easily and that I worry about money or other logistics.

You are my best friend. You know me better than anyone. And even though we drive each other crazy, I think we have so much to learn from each other in this unpredictable journey called life. I want us to be back on the road together. To share our adventure story, like Ram and Sita. I want to come out of the forest together both stronger, wiser, and more committed to a miraculous shared truth.

I love you - just the way you are,


And when is this fact important? When your weight loss coach takes you on a 3 hour hike in the sierra mountains. Monica Risam and I once marched from BUDA to PEST (yes they are two cities!) on our Great, Post-college Eastern European tour. Her (now annoying) childhood boyfriend took us on the most painful tour on the planet which, to this day, we call out Nazi Death Hike through Budapest. It was NOT fun. Much like today. I'd describe the hike but I can't stand to think about it. I am covered in dust and sweat, my hands are still swollen as I type, there is a cramp in my side, my ass hurts, my hips are killing me, my knees are throbbing, and best of all, my GODDAMN shoes were too small so my feet are killing me.

After the death march um... hike, I went directly to the golf shop and said, "Pardon me. Do you have any size 9 sneakers? I would like to purchase a pair." And so it came to be that today, for the first time in my life, I charged a pair of sneakers to my hotel room. Check out the image, they are pretty nice!

I'm going in the pool now. And not for exercise.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

I wanted to push myself on this trip. Wanted to go deeper than ever. Find something about myself I couldn't have believe was there. And tonight, I found it. More than once. I don't even know where the strength came from to do what I did tonight but here's the story.

Brooke has hired a coach to work under her. Her name is Lisa and she showed up at the conference today. Here's a picture of Lisa. Notice anything about her? I did. This bitch is SKINNY! And not in the I lost 100 pounds kind of way - in the I have skinny GENES kind of way. In the I'll always be skinny and I'll never have to worry about it kind of way. In the I'm lucky and you aren't kind of way. OH OH OH did she bring up my stuff. And here is the thing about Lisa. She's nice on top of it. Bitch.

I didn't hate her a little. I hated her a lot. So, I talked to her and had a great chat, and promised myself I wouldn't hate her on the grounds she was (is) a skinny bitch. But it grated on me, I have to admit. Especially since she was so "nice." I promised myself, except the thing is, it KEPT coming up. It was like someone showed up to the Annual Green Party Convention with a Fucking Bush Cheney T-shirt on. Was she trying to rub it in? Was this part of Brooke's plan?

I went to dinner and miracle of miracles, skinny bitch (and her tofu salad, I'm sure) were WAY at the other end of a long table. My overstuffed thighs did not need to graze her stick legs at our meal. I could eat, in peace, without HER ruining it for me. Or is it... my thoughts about her that might have ruined things. But more about this later.

Now, if you haven't always been fat like me this might not totally resonate, but I could not concentrate with this thin woman in the room. I briefly considered going home, calling in sick, staying in my room and working, or just taking a long drive around the Lake for a couple days. Instead, I went into tonight's coaching session and responded to Brooke's question:

"Did anything come up for anyone today that they want to talk about?"

I raised my hand.

"This is hard," I say.

"Go ahead," said Brooke.

"No, REALLLLY hard," I say.


"I have a problem with Lisa being here. I don't think it's right for someone so skinny to be among us."

"This is great!" says Brooke, rubbing her hands together jumping up and down with excitement. "Say more. Why not? You don't think she can help you because she is skinny."

"No, that's not it, I just hate her. I hate all skinny people."

Oh man did the walls come down. The temperature in that room went up by oh, 100 degrees, sweat pooled around me in the chair, like a mote. But I stuck through it. We questioned so many of my illogical beliefs about thin people and, of course, about myself, if I were to be thin. The belief we settled on was:

She has never had to deal with being fat and I have and it's not fair. Now if you remember the rules you'll see the turn around that I need to get to is:
She has never had to deal with being fat and I have and it is fair. OH MAN was that a journey of a 1000 steps. But we got there.

How does that thought (that it's not fair for me) make me act? LIKE A BITCH! Rude. Irritated. Anxious. NOT GOOD!

Who would I be without that thought? More focused on what I really want in my life! SOOOOO much happier. Not distracted at meal times! And probably a hell of a lot thinner.

This thought - and the feelings caused by it, and the actions I take to deal with those feelings have been holding me back for YEARS.

But as if that revelation weren't enough, (and believe me, in my book it was), Brooke asked what else came up. And I had to talk about what it was like to look at myself exercising in the mirror today during our training session. When I told her the mirror was mean, here's what she asked me to do...

"Pretend Teresa is blind and you want her to draw you. Describe yourself factually from head to toe - every lump, bump and curve, from your top to your toes. GO."

Can you even begin to contemplate how hard that was? I started, logically, with the period zit which has erupted in the lower left corner of my chin. Others, for some inexplicable reason, thought this was an on place to start. I described what was wrong with my nose, my skin, my hair, my eyes and my eyebrows before Brooke stopped me.

"Kill the story. We don't want your bullshit. Just the facts."

I started again. Stringy, messy brown hair. A round face. Small brown eyes. And then my body. Triangle shape. No discernible waist. Fat thighs. It was horrible. I cried through most of the description.

"Great. Now do it again, with compassion."

I broke down. NOTHING was in my head. I couldn't find a way to describe a toe nail to this group of 18 women (one of them skinny) with a shred of self-compassion. My mind was blank. And yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I was.... speechless.

Except... for the sound of my sobs. The tears flowed and between them I would beg, "I can't do it. PLEASE move on. I can't. I can't. I can't. I don't know."

K*, this amazingly zingy woman was sitting next to me and gave me the most earnest look I've ever seen. Full of love and compassion and wisdom and she just said to me, "It will be so much easier if you get it over with. I know. I've been there."

Brooke is normally relentless, backed off a bit and turned to this STUNNINGLY beautiful woman in our class (who this morning informed us all she did not think she was smart enough to be a real estate agent and provided the following as evidence -- a) I am not good at my times tables; b) I am not a good speller; c) I'm not good at grammar -- when I tell you this woman would be a fabulous agent... oh but that's another story!). "J*, can you do it? Can you describe yourself physically with compassion?"

"I can," said J* confidently. "I couldn't have a few months ago. But I can now."

"Great, then do it"

And so she did. She revealed herself to us. She knew her thick dark hair took our breath away. She knew her hazel eyes sparkled and danced. She knew that the curves of her hips had a sexiness to them that none of us would deny. And in that moment, she owned all of it. She described herself, like I might, here in this anonymous blog.... as the beautiful woman she is.

I sat, shocked. THIS is what Brooke meant by describe yourself with compassion???? When I tell you the words she was saying to me sounded like Ancient Hebrew. I could not follow what she was asking me for. But here was this butterfly in my midst, teaching me how to fly by simply flying herself. It was a song that J* sung to me and on listening, my heart just opened.

When she finished, Brooke turned to me. "You're up..."

And so I started:

"I have pretty, soft wavy brown hair that bounces when I have it down in a way that looks like I am in a shampoo commercial. And when I have it up, you can see the sweetest little widow's peak on my hair line. I have a soft face, smooth skin, and THE most adorable dimple on my chin. Round eyes that sparkle, a warm smile, and straight teeth. I have rounded shoulders, soft arms, large round breasts, a Rubanesque belly, curvy hips, sexy legs and absolutely adorable, well manicured toes."

The girls applauded, and in that moment I saw the compassion that I could have for myself all the time. I saw all the compassion I have in the world for everyone else and how little I have left for myself. But tonight I claimed it and I felt, for I think the first time in my life. Self love.


And then everyone came back to my suite and we drank copious amounts of wine.

Oh and the skinny bitch, she came too. Turns out my thoughts didn't kill her. And my feelings didn't kill me.

A Little Girl with a Little Curl

This morning we did something a bit different. Brooke asked us all some questions and gave us no time to think of the answers... you just had to write what popped into your head. Try it yourself! It's interesting.... Here are the questions:
  • What Fairy Tale do you most identify with?
  • What cartoon character is most like you?
  • What movie best represents your life?
  • If you were writing an autobiography, what would you call it?
  • Whom -from history or currently alive - would be most like to be like if you could be like anyone?
  • In your life story are you: a rescuer, a persecutor, or a victim?
  • Finish this sentence with a max of 2 words: I am a _________________.
Now, don't cheat. Answer for yourself before you move on. To make it easier, I'm saving my answers for the end of this post. But after we answered those questions Brooke asked us to write a bedtime story that starts... There once was a little girl.

Here's mine:

There once was a little girl who had a little girl right in the middle of her forehead, and when she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid.

When she was bad she said mean things to people she loved in order to make them feel as yucky as she did inside. She had a sharp tongue and would use it to cut people down in their tracks.

But when she was good - which was most of the time - she would bring baskets of sunshine and daisies to everyone in the village and sing them songs that made the people so happy they would smile all day.

One day, the little girl decided to bring a basket to her "bad girl self" and the sunshine and daisies and the song made the bad little girl so happy she smiled and smiled until all the bad feeling melted away.

Then the good little girl and the bad little girl hugged and walked off into the sunset together when they lived happily ever after.

The End.

Upon hearing my story, Brooke asked about the bad little girl and why she wanted to be bad. I told her how the bad little girl was easily frustrated by annoying, moronic, and stupid people. Always unsympathetic, Brooke wanted to know how I was annoying, moronic and stupid. What was troublesome to the bad little girl must - by definition - be something in me. So she asked me to write a story about a moronic and retarded little girl. Here's what I came up with:

There once was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was dumb, she was very, very dumb, and when she was a moron, she was horrid!

When she was dumb she would make inexplicable mistakes and blunders around adults and children alike. She'd give away secrets and make people who trusted her very disappointed.

When she was a moron, things got even worse! She would insult the very people in control of her success in life. She wouldn't listen to people who wanted what's best for her because she didn't trust them to know.

One day the dumb little girl called a meeting with the moronic little girl:

"We both act like retards because we don't value the opinions of just about anyone else," said the dumb little girl.

"But come on," said the moron, "their opinions aren't valuable."

Then the dumb girl and the moron pulled out their Blackberries and scheduled a meeting with some of their other friends. Smart, Joy, Connection, Shame, Persistence, Harmony, and the twice, Ice cream and Sunshine to discuss the situation further. And with that, Dumb and Moron kicked a can down the street on their way to the horizon line.

The End.


Those were my stories. And here are the answers to the questions above... Don't read them if you haven't answered yourself!!!

  1. Jack & Jill
  2. Nemo's Dad Meets Pochohantas
  3. The Dead Poet's Society
  4. Live Deep: The True Store of a Woman who Sucked the Marrow Out of Life
  5. George Washington
  6. Rescuer
  7. Powerful Woman.
Meeting Brooke in 20 minutes for a personal training session in the gym and then for some laps in the pool. After that we've got a dinner break, another coaching session, and a party in my big room!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bush or Ghandi

We just had an evening coaching session - about 2 1/2 hours long. What we did was we broke off into pairs and coached each other. We had to ask the other person: Why are you overweight? And then we had to ask them Why to the first 5 answers they gave. Like this:

"Why are you overweight?"
"Because I eat too much."

"Why do you eat too much?"
"Because it distracts me from how unhappy I am."

"Why are you unhappy?"
"Because my relationship is not working out how I hoped."

"Why is your relationship not working out how you hoped?"
"Because I expected us to get along and see eye to eye more and we don't"

"Why don't you see eye to eye?"
"Because - well for one thing he thinks it's okay to fight in front of the kids."

"And? Why is that wrong?"
"Because everyone knows you shouldn't fight in front of the kids."

Okay - so that's your belief. Everyone knows you shouldn't fight in front of the kids. You take that and ask these 4 questions...

Is this true?
Can you be sure?
How do you act/feel when you think this thought?
Who would you be without this thought?

And then you turn it around... So in this case the turn around could be.
Not everyone knows your shouldn't fight in front of the kids.
And ask if that's true or truer.. judging by the number of people who do fight in front of their kids, this is probably true as well.

The whole goal is to change your belief systems and it's great - in theory. But in practice, man is it painful. Brooke went for the jugular tonight. This girl was talking about how she gets home and she's tired and she should really tell her kids to clean their room right when she gets home, but she waits and then it gets late and then she gets really mad at them and then she gets mad at herself for getting mad at them.

Brooke said that when she doesn't have them clean their rooms at 6pm, she shouldn't. Meaning - if it didn't happen, why argue with this past. It's 8pm now - late or not - start from here, do you want them to clean their rooms or not. I questioned this because I said, sometimes you do make mistakes and you need to reevaluate your decision. In this case if what she chose wasn't working I think she is justified to be mad at herself. She SHOULD have had them clean the room earlier.

And that's when she went in for the kill... but why have the fight with yourself when you can't win. It won't fix this situation and it won't fix the future either because being mean to yourself doesn't tend to make you correct your behaviors. Correction happens through love, peace, and acceptance, not war.

Who are your heroes... she asked me. Ghandi I say, King. Who do you act like more Bush or Ghandi? You keep sending troops into a war you can't win. When are you going to cut your losses and try peace. You've always got your fists up for a fight. Man did she have me there.

Peace. Peace and not war is the way to effect change in your life and in the world.

Be The Butterfly

Brooke - as one might expect - is amazing. Her energy is contagious and her ability to go right to the heart of the matter is breathtaking. She gets it. She just GETS it. I met her at noon, after a splendid morning that included coffee and a breakfast sandwich at Lake Tahoe (gorgeous) and a fairly silent but none-the-less delightful manicure and pedicure at the Spa.

I was nervous to meet everyone. I thought Brooke might have an annoying voice in person, but not at all. She's great. Beautiful and sparkling. So warm. So smart. The group is great too. Most of the women are from California it seems and many have met before. One is from Howard County MD. She flew out of BWI a couple hours before me yesterday. Too funny. Her name is H*. Stay at home mom of 3. Super smart and frankly - like many of the women here - pretty friggin thin! So many of the women are thin and beautiful IMHO that I wonder what the hell they are doing here. Definitely all very smart, engaged, and dealing with serious stuff. I'm sure I'll be annoyed at some of the eventually but for now they are great.

We sat down for an intro session. And Brooke didn't want to hear where we were from, or where we worked. She first wanted to know what we were excited about and then, what we were afraid of. I said I was excited to make some new friends and afraid of ...exercise. I've never been afraid of exercise because I have been willing to do it and hate it. But now, I want to embrace it and I guess I'm afraid I won't.

As we went around we started talking about the beliefs that lead to the thoughts that cause the feelings that we try to avoid by eating. There were a couple interesting beliefs of mine that were brought up in the group session. First she pinpointed me on my believe that "No one should feel pain." I was talking about how sad it made me that my mom was sad. She thought that was an unreasonable reason to be sad. Sounded good to me. I love my mom I don't want her to be sad. Not for my Brooke though, she wouldn't let it go. If you go around wanting no one to ever be in pain or thinking no one should ever be in pain you are setting yourself up to be in pain a lot of the time. UGH - there's a hard one to swallow.

The next challenge came when I explained my mom said she was lonely. I didn't want her to be lonely. And that's when the bomb shelled dropped. I don't think she should be lonely because I'm her daughter and therefore I should keep her company. Brooke said, "So mom's should never get lonely." And I said, "No, that's why you have kids." Oh did the crowd go while. Now there is a belief system that needs some challenging!

After that we went for a one hour hike (I think tomorrow's hike is 3 hours.) The hike was beautiful. It looks like Switzerland a bit here. Wasn't expecting that. I still hate hiking.

One other thing I wanted to mention. More than once Brooke has mentioned her weight - 150lbs, size 8 - and I have to comment on it. She is so think - I mean she looks super skinny to me. I can't believe that's what 150 lbs looks like. I am thinking of changing my goal to 180!

Oh and the title of this post, Be the Butterfly... that comes of Brooke's dramatic reading of Eric Carlise's The Hungry Caterpillar. Who, it turns out, is a caterpillar who starved himself, binged, ate healthy and then became a butterfly. Our weekend is about the metamorphosis stage in between being a caterpillar and a butterfly - the bug soup or the mire that we are in as we try to figure this out. Or as Brooke says, as we build the muscles needed to come out of our cocoon and fly!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

You want blog...

Have laptop will travel and man have I traveled today. The flight to Vegas was a bit tedious with a stop in Indianapolis but no matter - the flights were on time and the seat-mates bearable. Getting to Reno proved trickier. First the door on our plane was broken so they were going to get us a new plane, then the new plane couldn't park at our gate because someone was having a heart attack on the old plane (the one with the broken door). So we had to move gates but there was already a mass of Southwest style people lined up for the Oklahoma flight that was supposed to leave from that gate so they all had to move and then. Eventually - after what seemed like a million delays - we got on the plane.... which was about 120 degrees. I kid you not. It was 108 in Vegas today and this plane had been baking in the sun. They couldn't cool it down. And they took so long trying that we missed our take off window so we had to wait an hour, in the hot plane, on the tarmac. Nice. Mostly I didn't mind because I had internet access and no where to be until 5:45 when I had a decadent 75 minute hot stone massage booked. The flight was supposed to get in at 1:05. How late could we be?
How late indeed! We pulled in close to 4. My shuttle from the hotel had come and gone and there were no available shuttles at such short notice. A cab, I soon learned, would cost $145.... EACH WAY. And that, my friends, is how I ended up at a resort, with a rental car. Oh you better believe I got here in time for my massage. And with a smile on to boot. I had booked a standard room but the girl at the front took one look at me and said "You look like a nice person. I am going to upgrade you." And here I find myself, typing this entry from the office of my 600 square foot suite (for those of you taking notes that's about the size of my apartment in Virginia). It's got a slate floor, a spa tub and standing shower, a nicely sized eat in kitchen, an office nook, bedroom with a king size bed, and a living room with a working fire place.

Here's a picture

I just got back from my delicious massage. And I'm off to find dinner. Looking forward to meeting Brooke tomorrow! I keep thinking I am going to see her, but this place is huge.