The month of March has been historically a month when where major changes occur in my own life. As I look back I see that I started the wakeup of my life that I refer to so often, I took my first Yoga class, did my first Yoga teacher training, taught my first Yoga class, and hosted my first community inclusion Yoga class where able bodied people practiced along side people in wheelchairs and other disabilities all in the month of March. You can see something fiery happens to me during the month of March and magic really starts to happen.
About seventeen years ago I woke up exhausted again and said to myself, “I am done being fat”. I literally heard the words “I am done”. I had lived with extra weight since my first pregnancy when I was eighteen years old. Within just four years of my first kiddo, I had three little babies and a bunch of added pounds. I was fully investing in being a momma and unfortunately at that time I had no idea that not investing in myself was actually a disservice to them.
Carrying the extra weight also meant that I was clearly eating foods that were not the healthiest and I was doing no exercise or self-care at all. I had every excuse in the world as to why I was unable to lose weight; healthy food costs so much, I don’t have time, I am too busy, I can’t afford a gym, etc.
Clearly my mind, body and spirit were so disconnected. I was so lost.
The day in March that I woke up and decided that I was done was in alignment with the world around me where spring was just beginning. When I think back of that time, I realize that I too was in a rebirthing or awakening from a dark and long slumber. I was beginning the journey of my own form of blossoming.
My plan consisted of many things but the foundation of it all began not with the outer or my physical body, but instead it started with cleaning up my inner world. My thoughts.
My first course of action was that I chose to wake up one hour earlier each morning and start my day with quiet, contemplative reading. I journaled every single morning. My journal entries at that time were not a recount of my day or diary-like at all, instead I wrote affirmative statements such as “I am worth it”. I also wrote down all that I was grateful for in the present, and all that I was grateful for that was coming to me. It was something like this: “I am grateful for the food I have chosen to eat. I am grateful for my healthy body”. The quiet and contemplative time was like a drink of cold water on a hot day; refreshing, awakening and invigorating.
The time spent still and quiet each morning began to stoke my inner fire of mindfulness. As I became more aware of my thoughts and was purposeful for those sixty minutes, I began to train my brain to be more aware of my thoughts throughout the day. I began to notice when my thoughts would shift to lack or negativity and I would immediately pause to reframe them to something that was positive, and true. I found that many times I was attaching myself to a made up story or a future based fear. For example, when my thoughts were something like, “I am so heavy….I am a pig…..I can’t afford that…..I wouldn’t look good in that…..I am broke…..I am a mess”, I would stop and tell myself that all of that was a story and the truth was/is “I am worth it….I have plenty of money….I am beautiful….I am amazing….”
Once I began to remove the heavy and sludge-filled thoughts that were literally weighing me down, I became more deliberate in my actions. Through the act of being mindful, I interrupted the patterns that were contributing to my extra weight and replaced those actions with healthier ones:
- My walking shoes were placed on the steps that went from my garage to my house and every day when I came home from work and before ANYTHING, I slipped on my shoes and walked 40 minutes.
- The dog’s leash was set out and every morning–rain or shine–I walked my dogs 40 minutes before work. I slept less but as I moved more, my body was less fatigued and required less sleep that ended up actually being more restorative.
- The kids snacks were put in the cabinet above the fridge so it literally took a step stool to get to them. The extra work allowed time for me to really think about how much I wanted/needed cheetos.
- Instead of going straight to the kitchen when I got done walking, I went straight to the bathtub. Not only did this give me a self-care ritual, it interrupted a pattern of snacking before dinner. By the time I got out of my bath, it was time to cook and I eliminated extra calories in mindless snacking.
- I used small salad plates for every meal which tricked my brain into thinking I was eating more.
- I taught the kids how to wash and load their own dishes because I was eating thousands of calories in leftover chicken nuggets and fries after I just ate my dinner.
- I invested in measuring cups and a food scale. I did this deliberately for a short time so that I would be more intentional with my choices.
- I logged EVERY single calorie that passed through my lips. I did this for two and a half years! Eventually that was an obsession that I had to let go of because it was getting in the way of joy and pleasure with food, but for the time, I needed to learn just how much food I was over-eating. Portions and extra wasted calories were out of control.
- I started to love who I was. I became passionate about ME. I was investing in myself and the results were astounding. I was happier, my relationships improved and my life began to be incredibly vibrant.
When asked how I did it, my answer is this: I woke up. I opened my eyes to my life and I said yes to me. I cleaned up my inner world of thoughts and as a result my actions became more deliberate. I began to see my self-worth and choose to love myself by honoring my thoughts and actions. You see, it was not a crazy diet that was restrictive or extreme and I wasn’t killing myself at the gym (although that did come later and had its own set of deep lessons). I just woke up and put intent into my life.
The teaching that I always return to is really so simple: align your thoughts with your actions and your life will change.