How to Cultivate a Sense of Perspective

There are so many challenges when it comes to losing and/or maintaining weight.

For those of us who struggle to the point where we might be considered “eating disordered” – it’s especially challenging. Whether it’s obsessive thinking about food, binge-eating, bulimia, anorexia or even orthorexia, we can all be helped by cultivating a sense of perspective. This doesn’t replace professional methods, of course, and there’s more to eating disorders than pure psychology. There is habit, there is environment, there might even be underlying genetic risk factors.

But no matter how or why you’re struggling, cultivating a  sense of perspective won’t hurt you and may even help you.

By a Sense of Perspective, I mean Three Things

  1. The understanding that you are precious, that every day is precious, and that YOU are more important than your problems.
  2. The understanding that what you’re facing is VERY common. Probably much more common than you think. The understanding that it’s not your fault and that you’re probably pre-disposed to it in some way.
  3. The understanding that your time is limited, and that there is so much for you to be doing here on this earth than wasting your time suffering.

Why Cultivate a Sense of Perspective

Because a sense of perspective puts space between you and your problems.  And space makes you powerful, because it helps you make logical decisions rather than emotional ones.

How to Cultivate a Sense of Perspective

God, if I only knew!

I’m not an expert on this, just someone who struggles with this and who seems to being doing better lately. But here is what I think.

  1. A sense of perspective tends to naturally come with age. You can’t rush this, but you can allow it to happen and surrender to it. And if you’re younger, you can understand that what seems important now (to the point of torturing you) might not seem so important later. And have faith in that.
  2. Spend time stimulating your brain! Filling your brain up with things gives it less time and energy to torture you.  This leads you to a sense of perspective. I’d recommend a hobby where you can track your progress. Something that challenges you, but is within your skill set. Even if you don’t like it at first, you might grow to like it.
  3. Travel (same reason as number two)
  4. Spend time in nature (same reason as number two).
  5. Read biographies. Learning about the struggles that many successful people faced gives you a sense of perspective. Everyone struggles. EVERYONE. And sometimes those struggles account for their greatness.

These are just a few thoughts.  There are so many others, and I’m always open to more thoughts.

When I feel like I’m going insane about anything (which I often too), I remind myself to have a sense of perspective. These problems, they are not that important – no matter how important they seem.

unspecified-7

Weekend Hiking

I’ve begun to think differently about movement and exercise in general. There’s something about that gym lighting, that repetitive gym motion that just doesn’t satisfy me as much as finding other ways to move.

My thoughts on this were probably influenced by an audiobook I listened to recently (incidentally, while walking). The book is called “Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization.” It’s written by John J. Ratey, Richard Manning, and David Perlmutter. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m highly afflicted by the afflictions of civilization. I try to be zen about it, and while I enjoy ordering food on grubhub, I also long for the days without email and constant contact.  I need to spend some time in nature, and disconnect. I think we probably all should.

In any event, this book talks about a lot of things. But one of them is the many benefits of taking a “wilder” approach to exercise. And I’m kind of loving the approach.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the gym is great. But I find myself lately focusing more on movement that just comes through natural activity. And while I’m hiking less than I did in previous years, I’m being careful not to let Fall entirely pass me by without getting at least a few nice hikes in.

Last weekend, I did two mini-hikes that I thought I’d share with anyone who might happen to live in the NY/NJ area.

Hike One

On the weekend, a few friends and I hiked Campgaw Mountain County Reservation .

This one was surprisingly close to home, although not very challenging. And I hate to say, it wasn’t the most exciting hike I’ve done.

However! There was one exciting aspect, a ski lift at the top. Sitting on it was fun 🙂 Why didn’t I take any pictures??? GRR.

Also – it’s Fall. So everything is orange and pretty. Plus, friends. ❤

IMG_0542.JPG
moderate, but festively fall

img_2358
view from the top 🙂 

Would I recommend? Maybe. If you live close by, it’s worthwhile.

Hike Two (barely a hike, but still).

This one I’d definitely recommend!!

I’m lucky enough to live just off the Hudson River in New Jersey, which means I’m super close to palisades hiking.  This was a weekday, and it was already late afternoon, so we kept it short. But you could hike all day if you’d like to!

We took an Uber from West New York to Fort Lee Historic Park which was nice and beautiful and orange everywhere. It’s part of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, which has a ton of highly unique terrain you can only really find here.

forestviewNorth.jpg
Fuck People Who Hate on NJ

We then did a short hike on the “Long Trail” towards the bottom of the palisades, where we chilled in some chairs. It’s pretty there and I’d recommend it.

You can hike up or down, and theres also a shore trail.  A nice starting point is the Alpine Picnic Area (although, that’s where we ended up).

Anyway…

These were not the most intense hikes, and I have not been the most intense hiker lately. But still a great way to spend time outdoors with friends, while working out the hot bod. Exercise really doesn’t have to be a chore – it could be awesome.

If you know of any local hikes, I’m always on the lookout so hollz at me.

Happy Hiking!

unspecified-720

Happy Holler-ween

As the sluttiest of all holidays, Halloween is a great time to enjoy those weight loss results.

Here is what I look like now:

14907139_10100654974587714_8027936926909780543_n.jpg
neanderthal

And here is what I used to look like just a few years ago:

2013-08-31 14.20.59
yikes!

Just in case you think I’m particularly strong in the willpower department, I can assure you that I’m not.

I’m also not particularly hard-working, never deny myself chocolate, and NEVER exercise unless I actually want to (that said, I enjoy walking).

I’ve struggled with weight for a long time, and it took me a lifetime to figure out what works for me. For me, it boils down to three things:

  1. Keeping bad stuff out of the house;
  2. Setting myself up for success (ie.. understanding the reality of willpower depletion, and knowing my own weaknesses);
  3. Eating mostly veg, and a little bit of everything else

This is not just about looks.  It’s about empowerment mental health, and also physical health.  It’s about being a version of yourself that you are genuinely proud of.

Living a lifestyle that allows you to feel and look your best is not easy, but it’s also not that hard.  Every person deserves to look as beautiful and vivacious on the outside as they feel on the inside.  You just need to figure out what works for you. And never give up on yourself.  Past results are NOT binding! 

If you find yourself in a bad place now, just know that I’ve been there, and so have my friends and co-contributors to this blog. I don’t mean to say you’re not good enough as you are, but rather that you should live the full life you want to live.

You don’t have to lose a billion pounds this week, and you don’t have to run a marathon today.  Just make one small change and stick to it this week.  Next week, try another.

If I can do it, then anyone can do it.  Put in the effort now, and make the small changes.  By next Halloween, you’ll be strutting your stuff with the best of them 🙂

unspecified-72011

If you love Fat Girls Fitness, subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter.

And/or follow Fat Girls Fitness on Facebook

Dream Big, Plan Small

Sandwich with avocado and poached egg

Regardless of how you plan to get into shape, there is one psychological trick that I believe will be helpful to most.  You have to dream big, and you have to plan small. 

By dream big, I’m referring to your ultimate goal. Visualize it, taste it.  It can and will be yours, no matter how far away it seems right now.

You don’t have to write it down, you don’t have to meditate on it.  In fact, now it’s time to  (for the most part) throw it away. Because it doesn’t matter how big your dream is if you aren’t able to break it down into smaller parts.

By plan small, I don’t mean anything specific. But here is the general idea. Imagine that your “dream big” goal is to lose 50 pounds. Realistically, you think you can do that in 5-6 months. Assuming you’re starting in November, you should safely be able to hit that goal by May (losing 8 – 10 pounds a month).

Now – imagine yourself in the springtime, 50 pounds lighter and feeling so free. Wonderful! But in order to get there, realize that right now, 40 of those 50 pounds don’t matter. What matters is that you lost the first 10 pounds. The prospect of losing 10 pounds is much less daunting than the prospect of spending the next 5 months trying to lose a total of 50. So the last step is to forget the rest, and plan small.

Your “plan small” goal is now to lose 8 – 10 pounds in the month of November.  How are you going to do that? I don’t know. There are a million different ways. But here are a few tips that might be helpful:

It might be a good idea to plan even smaller. Forget 8-10 pounds this November, how about 2 pounds this week?  How about .3 pounds today?

One Small Caveat

Planning small is great, with one caveat.  The smaller you plan, the more you need to realize that fluctuations will happen while still losing fat. This is especially true for females as we go through our cycle.

If your goal is to lose two pounds a week, realize that you might do everything you can but still not lose those two pounds in any particular week. Assuming you are doing everything right, you might lose 1 pound one week, and 4 pounds in another.  This is the nature of attempting to measure fat by  using weight – it’s far from perfect. So you have to be sufficiently psychologically healthy that you will survive apparent disappointments (which really, are not disappointments at all).

My Method

When I first decided to lose weight, I printed out a blank calendar for a period of one month. I subtracted 10 pounds from my starting weight, and wrote in that new weight on the last day of the month. I knew I had 60+ pounds to lose, but unlike any of my previous efforts, I decided to just focus to the here and now.

In order to reach 10 pounds by the end of the month, I’d have to lose 2.5 pounds a week.  So I subtracted 2.5 pounds from my current weight, and wrote it in on the last day of the first week. I then subtracted 2.5 pounds from that weight, and wrote it in on the last day of the second week. I did this one more time, and voila – I now have 4 weeks and 4 goals.

I realize that 2.5 pounds is a lot of weight to lose consistently week after week, but because this was my first month – I figured I’d be losing a lot of water. I decided that even if I only lost 8 pounds by the end of the month, I’d consider it a huge success. In fact, any weight loss would put me in a better position than I’d been in at the beginning of the month.

In any event, I’d now start out on my first week, not thinking about the three weeks to come. My only goal this week is to lose 2.5 pounds.  When I reach the end of the first week, I’d write my new weight down.  If I lost exactly 2.5 pounds, I’d leave my goals as is. If I lost less, I’d adjust my goals to only 2 pounds per week. If I lost more, I would adjust my goals so that they reflect 2.5 pounds per week starting from my new weight (but still only until the end of the month).  Even if I gained weight, my new weekly goal is just to lose 2.5 from my new weight.

The effect is that no matter what, my goal is always “lose 2.5 pounds (or 2 pounds) this week.” The month is not important, and the goal re-sets each week.

Here is what I found. Three out of four times, I met or exceeded my weekly goal. Usually about once a month, I lost slightly less than my goal, and very rarely I gained.

Over time, this method worked for me.  My mind is overcrowded, and I’m sure yours is too. We want to fast forward to the future, but things just seem to work out better when we try our best to focus on the here and now.

unspecified-7

Falling into Fatness

8t8r2rr

As a basic millennial of the female type, I am under enormous pressure to enjoy Fall.

Yes, I’m white. Female. Twenty-something.  I understand well what my obligations are.

Boots are cute, everything is orange, and all the pumpkins have features carved into them. I get it. And I don’t mean to distance myself from my cohort, but I just don’t enjoy Autumn.  (Except, of course, for all the dogs in costumes.)

Fall makes me cold, and when I’m cold I want to eat creamy delicious things called “food.” When the leaves drop off, my body begins to sense that Winter is coming. This bodes poorly for my upper arms.

FullSizeRender 14.jpg
my only consolation

In Summer, hot long days bring me joy and food barely crosses my mind.  During Fall, I sometimes find myself wondering how the fella adjacent to me on the subway would taste drenched in Nutella.

Speaking of which, I had a rough weekend.

I ate a jar of Nutella – the whole jar. (In all fairness to me, it happened over a two day period. But also, I ate it with buttery crackers).

This is what happens in Fall. Bad bad things. Bad chocolatey things.

I don’t consider eating a jar of Nutella a setback, actually. And I’m not “Falling” into Fatness.

My former self would ruminate, and to be perfectly honest – my current self is doing some of that also. But my current self also has a sense of proportion: Nutella happens, life goes on.

Fall is an easy time to put on weight for me, as I suspect it is for many people. But the key, I think, is to allow yourself to let go a little and remind yourself that not every decision needs to be a great decision.  The important thing is that you regularly make good decisions.

There is no such thing as falling off the bandwagon. There is no such thing as “all or nothing.” To the extent these things exist, they are products of your own imagination. Products of my own imagination, and I’ve lived with them for years.

This weekend I ate an entire jar of Nutella. With crackers. But today, I’ll eat eggs and veggies. I love eggs and veggies, and I’ll enjoy the contrast.

I don’t think weight maintenance should be such a tricky thing. It’s hard as long as you make it hard, and for me, it’s harder in the colder months.

My simple tricks are these:

  1. don’t freak out;
  2. don’t keep tempting caloric things in the house;
  3. don’t avoid the scale (catch problems while they’re small)
  4. exercise if you want (long walks are nice)

I’m also going to try a bit harder to find joy in the colder months. Starting with cute new Fall boots, and MAYBE (just maybe) a new fitness regimen 🙂

unspecified-7

 

 

 

Four Ways to Fight Apathy

dieta

When I reached my highest weight, I felt nothing but apathy. It was as if every day was a cold rainy day, and I just didn’t want to get out of bed. At that time:

  • Getting into even decent shape seemed so far away that it felt more like a fantasy than an achievable goal; and
  • Getting into great shape was completely outside of the realm of possibilities.

The result? 

  • I fell into a complete state of apathy. And if things had gone a little differently, I might still be there today.
  • I wasted precious time dreaming of a fantasy transformation instead of slowly beginning to introduce the small changes that my body actually needed and wanted.

When does apathy strike?: 

Apathy tends to strike when the place where you WANT TO BE seems too far away from the place where you CURRENTLY ARE.

So naturally, you need to find ways to trick your brain into feeling:

  • that the road ahead of you isn’t so bad; AND
  • that you’re closer to where you want to be than you actually are.

Four Ways to Fight Apathy:

  1. Reduce your ambition. This seems counterintuitive, but it works. Try the “do one thing” rule
  2. Set SMALL Behavioral Goals. You can never control outcomes, but you can ALWAYS control behaviors. What is one SMALL behavior you can change every day for this entire week? Examples: have salad for lunch every day; do 50 crunches before bed; eat one probiotic food every day.
  3. Increase your motivation. See here.
  4. Chop up your outcome-based goals. To the extent you do focus on outcome-based goals, cut them up into bite sized chunks. This is important! See my post on Aiming for Eight.

What are some ways that you fight apathy?

unspecified-7

If you love Fat Girls Fitness, subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter.
(We won’t spam you)

And/or keep in touch with Fat Girls Fitness on Facebook 🙂

No Gym No Problem: Part 2 Outdoor Edition

Attention: Fit Fam

We have warm weather today! With warm weather comes the inner battle “go to the gym… don’t go to the gym”

Fear no more! Here is an awesome workout you can do outdoors.

I did three sets of 30 with 30 second rest between each move.

  • 30 reverse lunges with overhead resistance band
  • 30 one arm kettle bell row each arm making a total of 60 (work those triceps!)
  • 30 Russian twists
  • 30 walk outs (these are almost as bad as burpees)
  • 30 “box jumps” (I didn’t have a box so I improvised with the curb)
  • 30 overhead lunges (I used a folding chair for weight)

unspecified-8211121111.png

If you love Fat Girls Fitness, subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter.

(We won’t spam you)

And/or follow Fat Girls Fitness on Facebook 🙂