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.

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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. ❤

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moderate, but festively fall

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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.

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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!

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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:

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neanderthal

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

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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 🙂

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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.

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Falling into Fatness

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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.

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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 🙂

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Four Ways to Fight Apathy

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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?

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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)

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Tracking Through the Seasons

I weigh my fat self everyday. I measure my fat body parts regularly.

But actually, I’m not much of a tracker.

I don’t:

  • have great before and after pictures
  • know exactly how much I’ve lost or exactly when I lost it

I do know:

  • I’ve lost a lot of weight (currently hovering around 50-60 pounds)
  • I started in December 2014
  • I lose most during WARM seasons and maintain during the cold

Progress Through The Seasons

Maybe because I don’t track, I am sometimes surprised by the changes.

Here are two pictures of me and my “friend”, roommate, and co-contributor Valerie. The first was taken March 2015, and the next taken September 2015.

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March 2015, road trip! NJ to Tennessee. (I’m the one with the better sneakers)

By this first picture, we had already lost a ton of weight.

I was down about 25-30 ish pounds from my original weight of 188, putting me somewhere in the high 150-ish range.

Val lost weight much faster! (What a bitch!) She started later than me, and by this pic, she was down much more than I was. Incidentally, I happen to think she totally sucks.

Here is the second picture, taken in  September 2015. Notice how much Val sucks:

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September, 2015. Doing our regular 8 mile walk along the Jersey Shore. (I’m the one with the better face)

I realize these are the worst before/after pictures EVER! Yes. We are wearing sweaters. Yes, we are morons.

It was probably Val’s stupid idea. And I’m sorry. But in any event – I feel as though we look like entirely different people.

The point is – by now I was beginning to feel fit.
And I think Val (the bitch) was beginning to feel the same.

During this period, Val had lost an additional 6 pounds, and I had lost maybe 15.

There was also a lot of muscle gain during this time (we were working out like crazy), so those figures don’t account for additional fat loss.  

Two Different Experiences

Because she is a backstabbing ho, Val lost weight consistently throughout her efforts.

But since I, on the other hand, am a good person, I lost it in spurts. And mostly during warm weather.

So even though I lost weight fast, I also spent a lot of time not losing weight at all. Because unlike my so-called friend, I find it intolerable and unpleasant to lose weight when it’s cold. Maybe that’s why Val thinks she’s so much better than me.

Since the Last Photo

We have both lost weight since this period, but not much because we’ve done a lot of toning.

Val has lost 4 additional pounds to date (and gained a ton of muscle). She looks amazing! And I still think she can kiss my ass.

I lost maybe 10 between then and January (most of it in September/October). I then gained 2-3 over the holiday season and on my birthday, then lost it. I’ve stayed the same weight for most of January and February.

In the second photo, I was probably a size 10. Now I am consistently a size 6 or 8. I also have a dimple in my right cheek, and Val doesn’t have any dimples at all.

This was me on New Years 2016 (standing sideways of course!):

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New Years Eve, Mexico (137ish pounds?) Never forget to do triangle arms.

Here I am in the mirror yesterday:

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138, with a certain monthly visitor

 

My Ultimate Goal

I don’t know what my ultimate goal is. But I’d love to see how I look and feel in my 120’s.

I have NEVER EVER EVER been in my 120’s. I’m pretty sure my weight at birth was 140 pounds, 3 OZ.

After two months of maintaining – I’m finally beginning to see some nice weather here in New York! So I’ve left maintenance and I’m finally trying to go for this final 10-15 pounds. 

Because I’ll work hard, and because I remain confident that I’m an overall better person than Val, I know I’m going to succeed.

Wish me luck!!!

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Thank You for 100 Followers

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It’s been nearly a month since we started Fat Girls Fitness!!

We are SO excited about all of the wonderful feedback on our blog, and we are so happy to have hit our first milestone of 100 followers.

We are finding the wordpress community to be AWESOME and we’re so pleased to meet so many likeminded people.

If you love our blog please follow us on Facebook here 🙂
Or sign up to our email list here.

If you’d like to get in touch, you can email us at theFGFblog@gmail.com

Who we are

We are three childhood friends who each went from FAT to FIT over the past couple of years. We each take slightly different approaches to fitness, and we talk so much about fitness that we decided to start a blog.

Rachel works in the housing industry. unspecified-8She grew up in New Jersey, and currently lives in PA with her husband, two adopted cats Chip and Nita, and dawg Marty. Rachel takes a low carb approach to nutrition, and is our expert on all things cooking. She is also interested in fitness fashion. Rachel has lost over 100 pounds!

Dori is an attorney based in New York and New Jersey, where she works witunspecified-7h small businesses, and also practices criminal defense. She lives on the Hudson with co-contributor Valerie and her cute adorable puppy face Herman Canine.

Dori also blogs about libertarian politics. She recently finished editing a documentary called “Hitchhiking w/ a .357 Magnum” and is now working on a documentary about Civil Asset Forfeiture. Dori has lost over 60 pounds in the past two years, and takes a whole foods plant based approach to nutrition.

Valerie is a staffing profesional in NYC, and is also the reluctant roommate of Dori and unnamedHerman Cainine. Valerie takes an active approach to fitness, and has become quite the Yoga Kickboxer. In the warmer months, Valerie can be found hiking a mountain. Of all three contributors, we consider Valerie most likely to trip over her own legs and fall down the stairs.

Thanks again for the love 😀
Here’s to the next 100!

-Fat Girls Fitness ❤

 

The Power of a Lindt Truffle

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This is what God looks like.

“Eat dark chocolate,”  they say.
“It has health benefits,” they say.

But who are these foolbags anyway? And what do they know about my most sensual desires?

Because I DON’T WANT dark chocolate, goddamit. I want milk chocolate. Sweet, crappy, sugary, milk chocolate.

Can’t I have just a little bit? 
Must everything I ingest have health value?

Milk Chocolate for Mental Health

For the past two years, I eat at least one milk chocolate truffle every day. I believe it was my roommate (and fellow contributor) Valerie who first commented on my truffle habit. She said eating truffles was “very European” of me.

But I don’t have TIME for Europeans. That’s because I’m too busy eating all of the milk chocolates in the land. Milk chocolate makes me dance and sing. It’s what separates me from animals.

What kind of monster would try to keep me from my chocolate? Who dares deny me one tiny little godforsaken truffle? One is never too much. There’s always room for it. Stop trying to take my small happiness away.

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#bestie

 

I am not sponsored by Lindt Chocolates (if only!).
But I DO prefer Lindt Truffles for two reasons:

  1. 7/11 sells them individually, so I NEVER keep chocolate in the apartment; and
  2. They’re good. But they’re not tooooooooooo good. Translation = I can stop eating them (Unlike Twix, M&M’s, Snickers or pretty much any other candy bar.)
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alas! a terrible fate has befallen my truffle

Embrace Your Pleasures

Everyone has their guilty pleasures, and I am a strong believer in embracing mine.

Life really is short. And it sucks to deny yourself chocolate over and over again when the reality is that you could be eating some of that chocolate. EVERY DAY.

No – I don’t want to be a fatass. But if and when my time should come, I think I’ll smile at the thought of all the chocolate truffles that I allowed into my life. And then maybe, just maybe, I’ll flash my middle finger at the universe just one last time. As if to say unto the Lord himself, “Fuck you, man. I ate ALL the truffles. And I lost weight anyway.”

(I’m kidding, God. Please don’t kill me.)

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