What Drains You?

Hello Beloved Reader!

Lately I’ve been thinking about what I should share with you in this blog, and the topic I keep coming back to is momentum. The past few weeks I’ve been lacking the momentum I had over the previous few months. I can attribute it to a number of things in my life but the truth is, what has caused the lack of momentum doesn’t really matter. Anything I mention to you, my blog family, will feel like excuses. And any list of contributing factors I could tell you about doesn’t change the fact that the momentum which was driving my blog and my emails to my subscriber list drained away recently.

Yep, drained away. Even though the weather outside was beautiful the past few weekends when I normally would be sitting on my front porch writing to you. Even though I reminded myself how good it feels to encourage you. Even though I feel I should be honest with you about my own personal struggles with the hope that my experiences might help you with your own struggles. None of that mattered.

I simply couldn’t push past my own fear that this whole blogging idea was a mistake. And the only thing I felt the past 3 weekends has been exhaustion. I haven’t felt like going out to do anything with my family. None of the normal activities I like to do to nourish myself over the weekend, such as relaxing with a good self-help book or going for a walk brought enjoyment. I’ve been napping during the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays and while this is nice once in a while, it’s not how I choose to spend each weekend.

Time is precious. Time is not to be wasted. There’s a difference between doing things that are fun or relaxing to take care of yourself and doing nothing but recuperating on the weekends. Lately I’ve been doing the latter. However, I want to spend my free time with those I love and doing things I love, not just getting through a work week to collapse and recover, only to repeat the cycle the next week.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the momentum I lost and how good it felt when I had it.

Here’s some background for those of you who don’t know me personally…

I had a gastric bypass in August 2016 and to date have lost 140 lbs. before and after surgery. One month after surgery I became very ill due to a stricture between my new stomach pouch and my re-sected intestines. It took 3 weeks in and out of the hospital to discover the problem, and another multi-day hospital admission to insert a PICC line so I could receive IV nutrition for 16-hours a day for a month. During that month, I underwent 4 upper endoscopys to stretch out the new tube going from my stomach pouch to my intestines to make it big enough to allow food and water to flow through. It wasn’t until April or May of 2017 that my body FINALLY got back to where it should be in terms of healing after the stricture and where I had hoped my energy level would be after significant weight loss.

During my weight-loss surgery ordeal, I was able to keep forward my momentum going by celebrating any new thing I couldn’t do when I was very sick. At the height of my illness, just keeping a couple of sips of water down was a victory. Having the energy to load the dishwasher became a joy. Being able to take a shower without having to sit down was a success. And I don’t want to ever take those things for granted because I don’t want to go back to being unable to do the simplest of things for myself and my family.

Now that my physical body is in pretty good shape (I still want to lose another 30-35 lbs to get rid of a few problem areas), experiencing the lack of energy I’ve had the past 3 weeks has been even more terrifying than it was when I was morbidly obese. After all, my expectation has been that I would have so much more energy when I’m not carrying around an extra person’s worth of weight.  So my question to myself has become, “What habits do I need to look at in my life which might be contributing to my exhaustion and lack of momentum?”

Sleep. Now that I have a job where I have to be at work between 7 am-7:30 am Monday-Friday, it’s critical that I get in bed by 9 pm. I have to get up around 5:15-5:30 am in order to get ready and do the commute to work. Most nights I am asleep between 9 pm-9:30 pm.  Some nights I wake up in the middle of the night and some nights I don’t.  Before going to bed during the work week I use the Insight Timer app to meditate or listen to soothing music to help me rest better.

Exercise. I hate to admit I don’t exercise like I did before I started my new job in July. However, I do walk a lot at work, including going up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. I usually meet my step count goals on work days. I’m moving a lot throughout the day, which is probably better than spending 15 minutes on a stationary bike and 30 minutes on the treadmill at Planet Fitness.  My goal is to get back to taking a 30-minute walk both weekend days when I’m not at work and maybe doing some stretching or weight-bearing exercises at home at least 3 work days during the week because I really need to tone up under all this loose skin!

Food. Here’s where I have discovered I’m falling short and it seems to have the most impact on my momentum and energy. I have a bunch of food allergies, so I can’t eat dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, beef, and a number of other foods. And due to the gastric bypass, I can’t eat lots of food at one sitting. However, of the foods I can still eat, some of them are energy-draining. I’m finding I feel significant exhaustion after I eat potatoes. Lately I’ve been craving Lay’s Dill Pickle potato chips, hash brown patties, and tater tots. All starchy, simple carbs, which turn to sugar. And all tend to make my joints hurt as well as make me want to go to sleep.

Another thing I’ve been craving that causes my joints to hurt and makes me sleepy is sugar.  I’m sure my body craves it for the short energy burst I get since I tend to want it when I’m tired and dragging, but I definitely feel worse after the sugar crash.  And once again, my joints tend to hurt when I eat sugar, especially the joints in my hands.

Since I have a dairy allergy, I can no longer use my beloved half and half in my coffee.  I’ve found a soy-based coffee creamer that I’ve gotten used to, but I’m wondering if the soy is also causing some exhaustion and joint pain.  During the 2 months at my new job, I’ve developed a habit of drinking coffee on the way to work and having iced coffee on my way home, and both use the soy creamer.  And no, I will not drink coffee without creamer.  And no, “non-dairy” creamer isn’t an option for me because they actually have dairy proteins in them, which cause an allergic reaction for me.

In my case, I do think my food choices are one of the biggest culprits for my lack of energy and in turn, contributing to my lack of momentum toward my goals and dreams.  When I was first diagnosed with food allergies, I was extremely upset and hated to make the necessary dietary changes to stop feeling physically miserable.  Now I’m grateful for those allergies because they have caused me to pay much more attention to how the foods I eat make me feel.  That’s how I know which foods are the suspects contributing to my exhaustion and joint pain.

When I stop and ask myself if I still have the gifts and talents I had when I felt compelled to start this blog, the answer is YES!  When I think about having a successful blog where I can help others, I still feel happy.  When I dream about the possibilities I have with this blog, my life coaching business, and online courses I want to create for others, it still excites me.  So I haven’t lost my calling and my desire to help others through these avenues.

So the only thing that has changed is my energy level.  And that can be fixed with some effort and attention.

Your Gentle Nudge: What things in your life are sapping your energy?  Are there things causing your momentum in any area of your life to slow down or completely stall?  What changes can you make in your physical and mental daily routine to help you get that momentum going?  

Leave your answers in the comments section under this blog post or email them to me at WriteChristine@YourGentleNudge.com.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

How Time Flies When Stress is Involved!

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Hi readers!  Long time, no blog post!  I’m truly sorry about that!  My life has been filled with lots of stress the last 3 months, but it’s getting much better.  I’ve been on the hunt for a job outside the home in addition to working on getting my life coaching website and business, Your Listening Ear, up and running.  Throw in content creation for a new course I’m launching in September and my own personal money worries and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a few stress-filled months away from the blog!

A job has been found!

The good news is that after pursuing a couple of other career possibilities, I’ve finally found the job I feel I’m meant to have.  I’m the Program Coordinator of a Senior Center about 45 minutes away from where I live.  I started the job last week and I absolutely love it!  It uses the experiences and skills I’ve developed leading programs in churches over the last 20+ years in a new context: non-profit agency.

The journey has not been easy…

At the end of 2016 I left a job in a church I loved because my 25-hour a week position needed to be cut to 10-hours a week due to a budget shortfall.  I was very sad about leaving people I loved (I’ve loved every church I’ve served and miss so many people from each one), but my husband and I felt I was supposed to resign and pursue my dream of building up this blog to make it profitable and start my life coaching business.

So I cashed out my small Roth IRA with the expectation that it would cover my lost income for the next 6 months and that would be plenty of time to make money with my blog and life coaching business.

Neither turned out to be true.

I found there was so much to learn about blogging and website building.  It took a LOT longer than I anticipated to create the content needed to launch the blog and get my life coaching website, Your Listening Ear, to the point where I could show it to prospective clients.

The fact that doubt and fear kept creeping in certainly didn’t help.  After all, who would want to read my blog?  Who would PAY MONEY for my life coaching services?  Would anyone other than friends and family who are personally known to me be interested in what I have to offer on my blog and through my business?

Honestly, questions like this paralyzed me.

Then the money ran out.

4 months in, the Roth IRA was gone.  We had a couple of unanticipated, expensive repairs on our home and vehicles which used the money that was originally going to fund us through June 2017.

Thankfully, just as the money ran out, 2 opportunities to make some extra cash came my way within 24 hours of each other.

A friend of mine who is a pet sitter asked if I could help her occasionally with pet sitting when her schedule got too busy to serve all the clients she had.  Then a neighbor told me her nanny left and she was looking for someone to watch her children before and after school 3 days a week.

I was able to take both jobs.

There were days when I I had no idea how I was going to pay for gas for my car and I would get a text asking if I could help with a last-minute pet sitting job.  I sold off most of my purses and many household items we didn’t need or weren’t using to pay a few bills when there was a shortfall financially.

Every time there was a need, money appeared.

God provided for my family’s needs, even when I had no clue where the money was going to come from.  Not once was a bill paid late, nor were we without food, or gas for our vehicles.  Sure, we cut back tremendously on how much food we bought at the grocery store.  I made sure we always used up leftovers instead of allowing them to go bad and throw them out.  We completely cut out convenience store trips (though I love a good Wawa run-those of you in the greater Philadelphia area will understand!) and eating out.

We used to waste so much.

What I came to realize through this experience is that we used to waste so much!  We wasted food.  We wasted toiletries.  We bought things we really didn’t need.  We didn’t have much to show for all that credit card debt we’ve accumulated the past 12 years.

The good news is, we’re going to be just fine.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I have started a new job.  The pay is comparable to my old job but the hours and commute are much longer.  I don’t mind that, though, because I’m confident I’m where I’m supposed to be.  I have lots to offer the people at the new job and I have already received so much from them.

Without weekly money worries, blog ideas are flowing again!

So I’m back on track with my original plan to make money with my blog and life coaching business.  I have a plan to continue content creation for a couple of courses I want to offer as well as themes for group coaching online and blog posts that will be helpful to you, my readers.

How I handled stress effectively.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t always handle the stress of our financial situation and exploring who I am without identifying as a church worker very effectively.  However, there were a few things I did to cope that got me to where I am now.

1. I asked God for help.  I KNEW I wasn’t going to be able to do this on my own.  Even with my husband and I as a team, it was still going to take a lot more than either of us knew how to do to get us through. 

2. I read devotions daily.  By going on my phone daily and reading several different devotions, it reminded me that there are much more important things in life than the state of my finances.

3. I wrote down things I am grateful for in my day planner.  Every day I wrote down something I was grateful for.  Sometimes it was a specific thing that happened or it was a way I saw the world differently.  When I felt down or times got really rough I was able to look over the abundance of planner entries to see how many wonderful things were taking place in my life that didn’t involve money.  However, some of them did involve money! 

4. I looked for alternate ways to make money.  Selling off all the purses and wallets I wasn’t using or madly in love with, as well as selling off things like the microwave we used in our former rental house that we no longer needed (thank goodness for under cabinet microwaves!) and clothing that I wasn’t using (thank goodness for the second-hand clothing store!) was one way I made extra cash.  I also use a number of apps where you can make money, including Ebates, Ibotta, Lucktastic, Shopkick, and Swagbucks.  I had been using those apps so I could make a few hundred dollars to pay for Christmas presents for the kids, but when the money was needed, I cashed most of them out for payments to PayPal.  Thank goodness!  

5. I reminded myself to rely on God’s provision.  I trusted that God was in this with me and God had a purpose and plan for this struggle, so if that was really the case, I had to trust God and not rely only on my ability.  EVERY time I trusted God’s provision, even if I had no clue where the gas money or bill money was going to come from, God provided.

6. I asked myself if something I wished to buy was a want or a need.  Every time I felt sad about the extras I couldn’t give my kids, I reminded myself of Wants vs. Needs.  My 8-year old daughter stood in Walmart with me one day and told me it was okay not to buy a specific item for her because it was a want, not a need.  Lesson learned.  

7. I looked for jobs during the entire time I was unemployed.  Have you ever heard the saying, “If you’re unemployed, finding a job needs to become your full-time job?”  That was my motto.  I looked at and applied for pretty much every job I felt I was qualified for, even if I didn’t think it was a job I particularly wanted at the time.  I figured I could take a job that wasn’t great and keep looking for something better.  I also felt that God had a place for me and if I applied to everything I could, God would sort out the jobs.  And I can honestly say that’s exactly what happened.  Even if a job was one I thought would pay well and I was well-qualified for, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of going to a well-paying job just for the money and ending up miserable.  When I applied for the job I’m currently in, I also applied for a job I was really excited about initially and I thought would pay very well.  It was a Pastoral Ministry Coordinator for the local branch of a multi-state Senior Living franchise with LOTS of money.  I was initially disappointed that I didn’t hear from them, but after accepting this job, I was grateful they didn’t contact me.  Friday I got the “We regret to inform you…” email.  They did me a favor.  I’m where I’m supposed to be. 

8. I leaned on my husband as much as possible.  The only thing worse than dealing with stress is dealing with it alone.  My husband was a huge support!  He listened, he wiped my tears, he reassured me, he gave me hugs, and he believed in me the entire time.  That is a priceless gift.  My hope for each one of you is that you have one person in your life who does the same for you.

What stressful events have you experienced in the last year?  Share your experiences in the comments below.

Your Gentle Nudge: How do you handle stressful events or experiences?  Are you able to see a purpose for your experiences?  As you look back on the event(s), what did you learn from it?  Take a look at your current coping strategies and find at least one new coping strategy to add to your toolbox.  Be sure to download the free list below of 99 Ways to Deal With Stress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Times When Waiting Serves a Greater Purpose-Our Rescue Dog Adoption

This week our family adopted a rescue dog. I’ve wanted this dog since mid-January when I first saw her at a local animal shelter. She came in on a southern transport to the northeast. A number of organizations bring shelter dogs from the south, where many healthy and beautiful animals have to be euthanized due to lack of funds and other resources, to other parts of the country where these animals are more likely to be adopted.

The animal shelter named her “Summer.”  Then she was known as “Latte.”  We just renamed this dog “Sunny” to represent her sunny personality. So from here on out I will refer to her as Sunny. Thank you to my husband for suggesting we call her Sunshine or Sunny.

The first day I saw this face, I knew I wanted her to become part of our family.

dog in shelter

When I first saw her, she had just come into the shelter the night before on a transport, so she had not been examined by the vet yet.  The shelter told me she would probably be assessed that afternoon or evening and to come back the next day.  So I did.  When I returned, she had not been examined since they had so many dogs come in on the transport.  They told me she would be evaluated later that day and to come back the next day.  So I did.

The third day I came back to adopt her, there was a sign on her cage saying she had been adopted.  I was heartbroken!  I asked the shelter staff how this could happen since I was not given an opportunity to fill out an adoption application on her and I had returned when the shelter opened each day.  They told me after her assessment she was chosen to go to a prison training program called New Leash on Life.  The young man working at the shelter suggested I contact New Leash on Life to see if I could adopt her once she completed the program.

I went home and emailed New Leash on Life to explain that I had seen this dog at the shelter and wanted to adopt her when she completed their training program.  One week later I had no response, so I emailed again.  Two weeks later, still no response.  So I went to their website and there she was, pictured along with their other adoptable dogs.  After I put in an application to adopt her, I  found out New Leash on Life never received either of my emails.  When I went to look for my sent emails, they were nowhere to be found!  This certainly was not New Leash on Life’s fault, but I worried that someone else had already become interested in her.

Two other families had already filled out adoption application forms for Sunny ahead of us.  Through each stage of this whole experience, I kept praying that she would become our newest family pet.  I had faith that if she was meant to be ours, she would eventually come home with us.  At times it was hard to keep my anxiety and disappointment that she wasn’t in our home yet at bay.  I kept being reminded to trust God with this and that what was best for Sunny would happen.

We went through a number of meetings with Sunny and our old dog, Pogo.  Pogo can be dog aggressive at times, so I didn’t know if he would be able to adapt to a new dog.  We met with New Leash on Life’s lead dog trainer for a doggie meet and greet assessment.  New Leash on Life did a home visit to make sure we had a suitable home for Sunny (pretty standard practice for rescue groups).  We had waiting periods of weeks between meetings to give Pogo and Sunny a doggie break before furthering doggie good will between them.  Our kids got to meet Sunny on yet another occasion in the process.  Then, 5 days before Sunny graduated from the prison training program, we were told she would become ours after graduation!

Our whole family was elated!  We went through a lot to adopt the dog I fell in love with through chain link fencing 3 months earlier at a shelter.

But the story doesn’t end there. 

Tuesday was Sunny’s graduation day from her prison training program and we were invited.  My husband was at work so I went alone.  I knew I would meet the inmates who trained Sunny but I had no idea that the inmates were also graduating.  They were getting out of prison that afternoon or the next day.  After I arrived at the graduation site and received a program listing the order of activities for graduation, it became clear that Sunny was part of something much larger than I originally thought.  The Mayor of Philadelphia would be speaking.  The founder of New Leash on Life would be speaking.  The warden of the prison welcomed us and started the festivities.  Some of the inmates would be speaking.  Other important people involved with this program spoke as well.

As I sat and listened to each of these people speak to the group of adopters, New Leash on Life volunteers, and staff, inmates and their families, and a number of important people involved in the criminal justice process in Philadelphia, I cried numerous times.  It became abundantly clear to me that this was how things were supposed to play out.  We were supposed to wait for Sunny because she served a purpose beyond our family before we adopted her.

Sunny gave 2 female inmates an opportunity to acquire a new skill to be used upon their release.  They learned how to work with dogs.  They were empowered to do something positive for an animal in need and were eligible for jobs or internships in area animal shelters and programs.

I met a married couple who sponsored Sunny during this program.  Their son adopted a dog from New Leash on Life 4 years ago but he died tragically, so now his parents choose one dog to sponsor during each new class of dogs in their son’s memory.  Sunny won their hearts and allowed them to do something beautiful and productive with their grief by having them sponsor her. in the program.

As I walked around with Sunny after graduation, a number of New Leash on Life volunteers and prison staff told me how much they loved her!  She brought real joy to them and they told me how lucky we were to get her.  She was practically a canine celebrity!

But the best part of the graduation experience was meeting the 2 female inmates who trained her.  They were able to tell me a number of things about her personality and behaviors.  They clearly adored her and told me they felt good that she was going to a loving home.  And the full circle, give you the chills moment I experienced was when one of the inmates told me she was starting an internship in 2 weeks at the same shelter where I first met Sunny.  I may go back to that shelter not to adopt another dog, but to see how she is doing and to encourage her.

When Sunny first arrived at the shelter in January, she was dehydrated and had heart worms and giardia.  She has since been treated and is a healthy, STRONG dog!  During her time in prison she learned basic commands, was potty trained, crate trained and socialized.  None of those things would have happened before we got her had she not entered the New Leash on Life program.  So in hindsight, I definitely see that things worked out for the best.  She was definitely worth the wait!

dog with toy in mouth

 

 

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What have you had to wait for in your life that was worth the wait?  Please share in the comments below!

Your Gentle Nudge: What have you been forced to wait on in your life?  It could be something big, like a wonderful job, an amazing significant other, a child or grandchild, your dream car, a vacation to a place you’ve always wanted to go or a home you love.  Or it could be something smaller, like a fun day trip, the perfect date with a loved one, or that great pair of jeans you found that you adore.  How did you feel when you were forced to wait?  And how did you feel once you got what you wanted?  Write down your gratitude for these things so you can go back and look at it when life gets frustrating or challenging.  And be thankful every day for things that were worth the wait!

If you happen to be in the greater Philadelphia area and want to adopt a dog, please consider New Leash on Life.  It is an amazing program!  You can see their adoptable dogs at New Leash on Life or at the New Leash on Life Facebook page.

 

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Are You a Doer or a Watcher?

Recently while I was at the gym, a very fit young man fell off a treadmill and hit his head on a wall. I didn’t see him fall or hit his head, but I did notice he had fallen and wasn’t getting up. By the time I got my treadmill to pause and went over to check on him, several people were standing over him, asking him if he was okay.

As the sea of people grew, nobody was doing much to help him.  He was lying face down, so I asked him if he was able to sit up.  He crouched instead, so I asked him to sit on the edge of the treadmill, which he did.  One woman took his pulse.  I asked him if he had any water and he said no, so another woman grabbed her bottle of water and gave it to him.  I asked one man to alert the staff to call 911.  A couple of people who saw what was happening went to tell the staff that the man needed help.

When I first asked the man to sit on the treadmill, the woman on the treadmill directly beside him told me he hit his head hard when he fell.  She continued her walk on the treadmill as she told me this, never getting off to help the man, even after he hit his head.  Several other people close by also watched from their gym equipment and continued their workouts, but never stopped to help.

This caused me to wonder what made some people stop what they were doing to help this man while others continued what they were doing.  I know from some of the classes I took for my psychology degree as well as my own personal experience that some people are watchers and some people are doers.  There is nothing wrong with being a watcher instead of a doer.  And there is nothing wrong with being a doer instead of a watcher.  But I started thinking about the pros and cons of both sides.

start doing sign

Pros of being a Doer

*You act quickly.

*You get things done.

*You help others in need.

*You are usually proactive.

*You tend to act in times of crisis.

picture of an owl

Pros of being a Watcher

*You stay out of other people’s way.

*You observe things that doers may not notice.

*You offer helpful information from your observations.

*You don’t immediately jump to conclusions based on what you think you know.

So there are benefits to being both a doer and a watcher.  But where there are positives, there are usually negatives.

Rosie the Riveter poster

Cons of being a Doer

*May act quickly before having all the necessary information.

*Others may think you are being pushy or bossy.

*May not make the best decisions due to your rush to act, even though your intentions are probably wonderful.

*May have a hard time seeing beyond the immediate situation or moment.

binoculars

Cons of being a Watcher

*May overthink things and never take action

*May feel isolated or lonely due to staying on the sidelines

*May be perceived as aloof or uncaring when you’re actually trying to process what is happening.

Doers tend to be extroverted and watchers tend to be introverted.  This is not always the case, but it is the tendency.  We never know what a person’s life experience has brought them, but I can assure you that everyone has reasons, whether conscious or subconscious, for their doer or watcher behaviors.  Everyone has a history.

Back to the gym: After 2 gym staff members came to help the man, they asked me what happened, and I told them everything I knew.  Most of the onlookers had dispersed by then and resumed their workouts.  Once the man was in the care of the gym staff, I headed back to my treadmill.  A lady told me that I did a nice job of taking care of the situation.  I must admit I was surprised by her comment.  In my mind, it was the right thing to do and my actions were pretty much second nature.  After all, I just wanted to make sure the man was okay.  But as I thought about her comment later, I realized my actions are not second nature to everyone.  Thus, this blog post.  :o)

I am happy to say that the man from the gym seemed to be okay after the EMT’s arrived and checked him out.  He got up at 6 am and had not eaten anything that morning.  This incident happened just before 10 am.  He also didn’t have water with him, as I stated earlier.  As I was leaving the gym, he was sitting in the lobby with a Powerade, so I asked him how he was feeling and how he was getting home.  He said he was feeling better and that the friend he came to the gym with was driving him home.  I wished him well, filled out a witness report of the incident for the gym, and left.

Thinking about times in my life when I’ve jumped in and allowed my doer tendencies to take over, I realize that my well-intentioned efforts to help were not always appreciated or understood.  Sometimes people have perceived my actions as controlling, which was never my intention.  As an emotional, intuitive, feelings-based person, this always hurts.  I have a sister-in-law who is introverted and is definitely a watcher, and she has told me that people think she is withdrawn or uncaring because she tends to stay quiet and assess situations before she is comfortable with interacting.  She says this hurts her as well.  We all hurt when people judge us.

So the next time you interact with someone who is a doer, remember they usually just want to help.  And the next time you interact with someone who is a watcher, remember that they need time to process things and they can offer valuable insights we doers might miss at first.

Are you a doer or a watcher?  Please share below in the comments.  What items would you add to any of the 4 lists above?  Share in the comments!

Your Gentle Nudge: If you are a doer, what can you learn from watchers?  If you’re a watcher, what can you learn from doers?  How can what you learn from the other group help you achieve your goals?  Do you need to observe more or act more?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Weight Roller Coaster: I Chose Surgery

roller coaster graphic

All my life I have struggled with weight.  My mom put me on my first diet at age 2, upon my Air Force pediatrician’s recommendation.  Looking at pictures of myself at age 2, I was a little chunky, but not horribly overweight.  But it was 1971 and the standards for height and weight charts were more stringent back then.  My 2-year old self in 1971 looks like a lot of 2-year old’s look these days.  But that’s when I believe my weight insecurities were first imprinted on me.

It’s Time for a Change

Fast forward through 43 years of painful weight highs (347 lbs. was my highest) and a couple of lows which were never in a healthy weight range, even at 5’11” (think 250-280 lbs.), and I found myself staring a huge reality in the face: at age 45 I was never going to get my weight back under 300 lbs. on my own.  Oh, I had tried.  I tried and tried since my kids were born.  But with the increasing risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease, I decided it was time to talk with my doctor about surgical options.

My family doctor is fabulous!  She has the right mix of listening skills and assertiveness.  She warned me that surgery was a drastic choice.  I agreed, and assured her it was not one which I took lightly, especially with a husband and two kids to think about.  I told her how I was always tired, my weight was creeping up even though I was exercising and eating healthy, I was frequently achy or sick, and I was ready to get rid of my morbid obesity for good.  So she referred me to an excellent weight loss surgeon.

My Pre-Op Process

In May 2015 I visited the weight loss surgery doctor, called a bariatric surgeon, for the first time.  He told me that because of my polycycstic ovary syndrome (PCOS), my most successful option would be a gastric bypass.  None of the other surgical options would likely allow me to lose half my body weight, which is what I needed.  And none of the other options, such as the sleeve, would be as restrictive as a gastric bypass, and I knew in my heart I needed the severity of restriction to be successful.

According to the guidelines set by my insurance company, I would spend 3 months in the program offered by my bariatric surgeon’s hospital attending monthly nutrition classes and undergoing a battery of tests and appointments.  These included checking my heart and lungs, having blood work done, getting an upper endoscopy (an outpatient procedure where they put a camera down your throat and check the condition of your stomach) and completing a psychological evaluation.  After all the results were submitted, the insurance company would decide if I qualified for the surgery.

During the early stages of my weight loss surgery journey I found out that gastric bypass was the only surgical option my insurance company would cover.  Even if I wanted to have a different, less invasive procedure, it wouldn’t be an option for me.  So the choice became whether to have surgery or to not have surgery.

I Chose Surgery

A gastric bypass, or a roux-en-y (RNY), is the most extreme surgery among the bariatric surgery options.  During RNY, a significant part of the patient’s stomach is closed off and a small stomach pouch is created.  A portion of the digestive tract is bypassed and thus can no longer absorb fat and calories.  The intestines are then surgically attached to the stomach pouch.  This is usually done laparascopically, which means the surgeon makes several small incisions in the patient’s mid-section to insert a camera and tools to perform the surgery instead of cutting a patient’s abdominal region open with one huge incision.

The combination of a much smaller stomach and the inability to absorb some of the calories and fat consumed means the patient will lose weight.  Sometimes this surgery can lead to issues with malnutrition because the patient isn’t absorbing all the nutrients their body needs.  And some people experience a new set of health issues post-op including stomach ulcers, losing too much weight and not being able to gain any back, osteoporosis, hernias, gall stones, low blood sugar, or stretching their pouch out and gaining all their weight back.

I did my research before having surgery.  I knew about many of the possible risks and complications during and after surgery.  I went to all the nutrition classes, never missed an appointment for testing, and waited my 3 months (which is a shorter period than some insurance companies make patients wait).  I put in for 2 weeks of vacation at my job, did everything at work in advance to make sure things would run smoothly in my absence, arranged for child care during the 2 nights I would be in the hospital while my husband would be at work, and mentally prepared myself for this huge life change the best I could.  And I prayed.  A lot.  Then less than 24 hours before my scheduled surgery in August 2015, this happened.

I was rejected for an 8 pound weight loss!

Yep, you read that correctly.  I lost 8 lbs. in 2 months.  I was 332 lbs. and went down to 324 lbs.  Still morbidly obese.  I followed the eating plan prescribed by my bariatric surgeon, which I was required to follow during the pre-op period.  The insurance company claimed I could magically lose the weight on my own after all these years.  They had 12 years of my medical records from when I was covered by them, showing that I was morbidly obese the ENTIRE 12 years, but that didn’t matter because of these 8 lbs.

So how did I feel in the weeks following this rejection?  Crestfallen.  Angry.  Incensed at the injustice of being rejected over an 8 lb. weight loss.  Humiliated that I had to tell people I had been rejected at the last minute.  And sad.  Sad that I would possibly never be able to have this surgery that I had idealized and dreamed about.

There Was a Reason

During the weeks and months after my surgery denial, I kept telling myself that there must be some reason this happened.  I reminded myself to trust God and to trust that I would eventually be approved for surgery if I was meant to have it.  At the time I worked as the Director of Children’s & Youth Ministries at a church, so between my work schedule and my own children’s school schedule, I only had 2 windows of time to have surgery: January and August.

The surgeon’s office told me to continue coming to monthly nutrition classes to show the insurance company that I was committed to this process.  They also wanted to track my weight over a longer period of time to prove to the insurance company that I needed the surgery.  And they wanted to encourage and support me on my journey.  They assured me I wasn’t the first rejection they had seen and that many patients are eventually granted approval for this surgery.  When I was ready and able, they would resubmit my surgery request.

In the meantime, I dove to the bottom of more than one pint of Haagen-Dazs peanut butter chocolate ice cream.  I felt worse than ever, but I decided I would do my best to gain weight since the insurance company had denied me over 8 lbs.  I had to show them this surgery was necessary and I couldn’t lose the weight on my own.  That’s when my weight climbed to its highest, at 347 lbs.  I was hurting myself whether I ate healthy or ate crap, so I might as well eat what I loved.  I just couldn’t understand how I was feeling so rotten, even when I was exercising and eating healthy.

Then I received test results that changed my life.

I was diagnosed with 14 food allergies in November 2015.  Almost everything I had been eating in an attempt to be healthy was causing me to feel horrible!  My allergies include eggs, dairy, peanuts, wheat, kidney beans, and bananas, among other things.  Things like veggie omelets, beef, cheese, green beans and plain greek yogurt were making me ill.  I will write another post which speaks in depth about my food allergy diagnosis and some of my experiences since then and link it to this post.

This diagnosis revealed the reason why I was fortunate to have my surgery denied in August 2015.  Had I not known about the food allergies and had the surgery, I most likely would have become very sick.  In the early stages after surgery, soft foods like scrambled eggs and cottage cheese are recommended.  And protein shakes are a staple of new bariatric surgery patients to help them get the required amount of protein.  Many protein shakes are made with whey protein, which is milk-based.  Much of what I would have eaten post-op would have caused major inflammation and swelling in my body at a time when it needed to devote all its energy into healing from surgery.

Timing is Everything

With my new food allergy diagnosis in hand and a 25 pound weight loss ONE MONTH after getting off all the foods I was allergic to (can we say “edema”?), I decided to give my body a break and not attempt to have surgery in January 2016.  I didn’t know how much weight I might be able to lose on my own with this new eating lifestyle.  And I was worried that the insurance company would deny me again based on their previous rejection.  After all, if they rejected my surgery over an 8 lb. loss, what were they going to say about a 25 lb. loss?

So I set a target surgery date at my surgeon’s office of August 9, 2016.  There was more wrangling with the insurance company, but thankfully my second attempt was approved! I went through some of the testing a second time since a year had passed, put in for my vacation time at work, prepped my work stuff before my absence, got the child care arranged, and had my surgery.  The pics below were taken on the day of my surgery, which was August 9, 2016.  I weighed 307 lbs.  I lost 10 lbs. during my 1-week pre-op diet and another 30 lbs. in the months before surgery, after my food allergy diagnosis.

Success!  Or was it?

Surgery went well.  I was in a lot of pain for 2 days in the hospital.  To be expected.  I had pain meds.  I’ve given birth twice, so I could get through this.  My husband took me home once I was discharged.  He and my kids took exceptional care of me during my lack of energy, post-op pain, and inability to do much of anything, including lifting a gallon of milk (which I couldn’t drink) or making dinner.  But we all knew I would be out of work recovering for 2 weeks, so we were prepared.  What we weren’t prepared for was the major complication I developed one month after surgery that landed me in the hospital 3 times over the course of 3 weeks before the doctors figured out what was wrong.  You can read my post about my complication here, which includes my most current pics. (If the post isn’t linked yet, that means I’m still writing that post!  Please check back soon!)

Your Gentle Nudge: In what area(s) of your life could you stand to make changes?  It could be something large like choosing surgery, or something much smaller.  How would those changes positively impact your life?  

Please leave a comment below to answer the “Your Gentle Nudge” questions for this post.  Add your email in the form below to receive your free Gentle Nudge worksheet, which will help you apply this week’s Gentle Nudge to your life.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

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How May I Serve You?

Thank you for reading my new blog! The main goal of my blog is to serve you, my readers, by doing the following:

1) Encourage you in areas where you struggle

2) Provide solutions and suggestions for problem areas of your life

3) Gently push you to move away from your comfort zone and toward your dreams

Along the way I will share with you things I’ve learned and experienced in my life, but I want to know what YOU want to read about. What questions do you have? In what areas do you struggle? Do you have issues with self-confidence? What about body issues or self-image issues?  Are you looking to make a change in your career?  What dreams do you have that you haven’t fulfilled?  Where do you need a gentle nudge to do something different than you’re doing now?

Please leave your feedback in the comments section below or send me an email at writechristine@YourGentleNudge.com so I can write posts you want to read!

Sending you gentle nudges to go after your dreams!

Christine

Books to Better Your Life-Grace Not Perfection

 

This post contains at least one affiliate link.  That means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  It’s the company’s way of thanking me for recommending a product they sell.  This commission helps me fund this blog and feed my kids.  Thanks!  

 

row of colorful books

I recently read the book Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley. This book is one you should check out because it contains a lot of helpful tips about keeping your home and life organized as well as snippets of Emily’s personal story.  The book also explores the concept of God’s grace with us and our grace toward ourselves and others.  Thus the title Grace Not Perfection.  For me, the grace part was very powerful and taking the time to read.  

The book itself is a joy to explore. There are a number of beautiful pictures and quotes which I found inspirational.   I love color!  The pages themselves are thick and luscious, and a book made like this is the reason I personally enjoy reading a physical book as opposed to an ebook.  Not that you’re going to read a book due to the way it feels in your hand.  But it was an added bonus since I was interested in the book since I spotted it in a local store.  

Grace Not Perfection is broken down into three sections:

Part 1: Grace With Yourself

Part 2: Grace With Your People

Part 3: Grace in Your Calling

One of the topics Emily Ley talks about is the trap of perfection and comparing yourself to others who seem to have everything together when you feel like you’re falling apart.  I wasn’t a young mom when Pinterest came into being, so I never felt the internal pressure to have a Pinterest-perfect home like she talks about.  However, I did feel like I had to have a clean and uncluttered home if someone stopped by when my kids were little.  We lived on an Air Force base at the time and I still never achieved the clean and uncluttered home I thought I was supposed to have (and the military used to require if you lived in base housing!).

As a forty-something wife and working mother of two tweens, I wasn’t certain I would be able to relate to the content of this book since my babies are no longer babies.  Emily Ley is a young working mom who has struggled with being both mom and entrepreneur simultaneously.  She speaks to certain issues which arise when dealing with the demands of work and toddlers.  Honestly, I think dealing with work can be easier than dealing with the demands of toddlers!

Even with the age gap between the author and I, I was pleasantly surprised by the insights Emily Ley had to offer me! I really liked this book!  I especially liked Parts 2 & 3.

Emily is a person of faith, so be prepared to read about her journey with God and her insights about life from this perspective.  I loved her insights, but I know this turns some readers off.  Please know that she doesn’t beat you over the head with Christianity, so even if you don’t believe in God, there is something of value in this book for you as well.

If you’re ready to be encouraged, if you could use a few practical tips on dealing with organizing your home with small children, if you could stand to read examples of changing your perspective effectively and making it through life’s challenges, no matter what stage of life you’re in, this book is for you.  I highly encourage you to check it out at your local library or grab it on Amazon.  Happy reading!

Whose Voice Are You Listening To? Don’t Let Others Bring You Down!

questions

  Questions?  Uncertainty?  Fear? Anxiety? 

Have you ever felt stuck, unable to do something you really wanted to do?  Did you have the desire, but you just couldn’t muster the courage or motivation to move forward?  Most of us have felt this way at least once in our lives.  That’s how I feel about this new blog of mine right now.  I started out so excited and full of ideas, but then I had the hardest time completing my first real blog post.  How could that happen?  I’ve dreamed of blogging for a long time, and I’ve wanted to help people all my life.  I’ve read articles about blogging and studied the ins and outs of the craft for months.  Was I mistaken about my desire to become a blogger?  Had I managed to evict my inner blogger?  Was I crazy to leave my part-time job to start a new blogging career?

The answer to those questions is no.

I’ve been wrestling with these questions and a slew of others the past couple of weeks.  January came and went and I didn’t have my first 5 pillar posts (the foundation of a new blog) completed.  I didn’t even have one of those completed.  So much for setting monthly goals and writing them down in my planner.  Those goals were posted in places where I saw them every day.  Many bloggers suggest doing this to help stay focused.   I reviewed my goals every few days.  I wrote out a work schedule for 2 week chunks.  Each day had a specific goal to focus on.  After all, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, right?

Dealing with the unexpected.

What I didn’t plan for was my son having pneumonia the entire month of January, which included weekly doctor’s visits and 3 1/2 weeks of having him home from school.  Or me catching a lesser form of his pneumonia and being sick for 2 1/2 weeks (a much better deal than my son’s, poor kid).  Thankfully, we are both healthy now, but it took a long time to get back to 100%.

Scrabble letters time for a change

                                                                     Change happens.

Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Due to budget cuts at my now former part-time job, my position was reduced from 25 hours a week to 10 hours a week.  So I decided to resign effective December 31.  This change happened abruptly in mid-December and was not one I was prepared for. 

At the beginning of January, nothing I scheduled in my planner helped me deal with the weirdness of not leaving for work each morning after dropping my daughter off at school.  Yes, it was pretty cool for the first week or so, but at that point I had not made the mental adjustment of being a work-at-home mom.  Combine that with the fact that many people don’t see blogging as a “job,” and I pretty much ended up stuck in the mud of uncertainty and doubt about my choice to become a blogger.  Uncertainty creates inertia, and inertia is the death of both creativity and productivity.

Since I couldn’t seem to focus on writing blog posts, I focused on getting my work space in order.  We bought our home last May but due to a busy summer work schedule and a gastric bypass that had a huge post-op complication (I was sick for 4 months), I was out of work and unable to do any real unpacking in our house until December.  I figured if I didn’t feel mentally up to writing blog posts, it must be because of my work environment.  That’s what a number of articles I’ve read on Pinterest told me.  So I started intermittently clearing boxes out of our family room and organizing the side of the room that will be my office space.  But it didn’t help.  I bounced back and forth between taking free online courses, cleaning and organizing my office space, signing up for what now feels like EVERY bloggers email list and devouring everything I could find about all aspects of blogging life on Pinterest.

I love Pinterest banner

Pinterest is ah-mazing!

This big distraction called Pinterest.

Ah yes, Pinterest.  Oh Pinterest, I am so in love with you!  I can spend multiple hours with you!  And when I want to feel like I’m doing something productive for my blog, I come to you.  Pinning article after article about blogging, marketing, e-mail lists, social media…I have SO many Pinterest boards related to blogging!  But then I start reading some of those articles and the fear and inadequacy set in.

Do I have to stay in just one blogger lane?  (a.k.a. finding your niche)

According to much of what I’ve read, I need to have a blogging niche.  Okay, so originally I thought my niche was self-help, but then I realized that niche was waaaaaaayyyyy too broad.  So I went with personal growth and personal development.  Getting better.  But what if I want to write something that isn’t in that niche?  I want to write about my experience with my gastric bypass, and my newly diagnosed food allergies, and my love for self-help books and resources, and life experiences which have kicked my butt as well as helped me grow, and, and, and…

I spun myself into a fearful frenzy before I really began.  Because there is so much information out there about blogging, I was reading and reading but not writing.  The voices of seasoned bloggers were helpful in many ways and I’ve learned so much from them, but I was creating a new set of restrictions for my blog before I had really gotten started on my blogging journey!

reminder logo

Sometimes you need a good reminder!

A much needed reminder.

As I stressed myself out needlessly, the question I came back to was, “What do you feel compelled to write about?”  That’s when I was reminded of an experience that happened to me a few years ago.  My former career was working as a Youth Director, Christian Educator, and Director of Children’s Ministry for several different churches since the 1990’s.  During a period of burnout and questioning whether or not I was still called to work in a church, I had the fortunate experience of going to a silent spirituality retreat one weekend.  Those who know me personally know I talk a lot.  There was much well-meaning joking about how I would survive being silent for a whole weekend.  But it was one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences of my life.  And obviously, I survived.  🙂

Every church I’ve worked in has been wonderful in many ways.  I still keep up with a lot of the people I met while working in churches.  My career has shaped me in ways which will last a lifetime.  But one of the downfalls of being a church staff member is everyone in the church is essentially your boss.  And when you’re running programs and working with hundreds of people, eventually someone is going to be unhappy with you about something.  You can’t please everyone.

The weekend of the silent retreat, I was incredibly drained.  Multiple people were telling me good things about the work I was doing.  But a couple of very vocal people were giving me grief about decisions I made that they disagreed with.  Unfortunately, I tend to be a people pleaser, so when someone is not happy with me for any reason, it really bothers me.  During this time of uncertainty and doubt, I ended up placing much more value on the opinions of those couple of naysayers than all the positive and encouraging compliments from the majority.  Essentially, I was giving away my power to a tiny, unhappy minority.

On the Saturday of the retreat, I took a walk.  It was late fall and a sunny but brisk day.  As I walked the wooded grounds of the retreat center, I heard, then saw, thousands of starlings perched in the trees above.  They were making such a racket!  If you’ve ever witnessed thousands of birds together and heard them all chattering at once, you know how loud they can get.  All that chatter was not peaceful or serene.  It felt a bit chaotic.  Like they were all clamoring for their own individual voice to be heard.  It was as if each one didn’t feel heard, so they chattered even louder, vying for attention.  I guess the birds didn’t get the memo that this was a SILENT retreat!  Sheesh!

birds in tree

                                                     Don’t get lost in the chatter of multiple voices!

As I continued my walk, I noticed the peace I felt as I got farther away from the starlings.  Once I got far enough away, I could hear other sounds.  More important, I could hear myself think again.  Being away from all the different voices of the starlings allowed me to hear what I needed to hear in that moment.  For me, that was my inner voice, sent from God, telling me I needed to ignore all the outside voices.  My inner voice told me to stay true to doing things the way God wanted me to do them, whether or not those things were popular or understood by others.  The naysayers were telling me I wasn’t good enough.  They didn’t like the way I ran things.  They were trying to change me.

That weekend I decided to make a plan to leave my job and move my family back to the area where my husband grew up and my in-laws still reside (yes, moving closer to the in-laws really was MY idea).  At the time I had no clue if our house would sell or where I would work after our move.  It took almost a year to execute that plan, but my husband and I did it.  And it all started with a bunch of birds.

Walking away from the birds allowed me to hear that inner voice from God.  Getting away from the naysayers for a weekend retreat allowed me to gain clarity after giving a few loud voices way too much power.  Moving away from a bunch of people I still really care about and hated to leave allowed me to move on to my greater purpose.  So what does all of this have to do with blogging?

pink corded phone handle

Hang up on negative voices!

It’s about which voices you listen to.

As I stated earlier, I’ve been reading a lot of articles on blogging.  Many of them say similar things about the basics of blogging, especially the things a person needs to do to get started.  But the more I read, the more things I focused on.  The more things I focused on, the more scattered and non-focused on the actual writing part of blogging I became.  I kinda put the cart before the horse.  Social media strategy articles, free webinars on how to win at Pinterest, pitches for why this email provider or that social media scheduling tool is best.  Too many outside voices.  I got lost down the rabbit hole.  I became overwhelmed by all the voices, all the sources of information.  My focus was lost.  My blogging vision got sucked down the rabbit hole with me.  What was wrong with me?  Then I thought about the birds. 

Shortly thereafter, I came across this fabulous article about NOT niching down with a new blog, but instead working on the broader focus of your blog.  Now that I can handle.  That concept feels right to me.  This creative type’s stress level increases according to how many rules she thinks she has to follow!

So I’ve decided to listen to my own voice first and foremost.  Then I’ll consult all those Pinterest articles and emails by fellow bloggers and do what feels right for me.  Will I make mistakes?  Absolutely!  Will I allow those mistakes to end my blogging career?  Absolutely not!  I’ve determined there really is an inner blogger inside me. 

She’s the little girl who always got good grades in school but teachers mentioned on her report card that she talked too much in class.  My mom said I even talked in my sleep as a child! 

She is the chatty teenager writing loads of notes and letters to friends (many of which I still have, both the letters and the friends!). 

She’s the twenty-something social butterfly, the one who got teased by college friends and fellow summer camp staffers for talking so much. 

And she’s the woman who finally got paid to talk when I ran youth and children’s programs and preached in churches. 

Inner critic, watch out!  My inner blogger is coming after you!

Your Gentle Nudge: Whose voice(s) are you listening to that are negative or holding you back?  Why do you value their opinions more than your own?  What do you need to do to silence their voices and focus on your voice and inner knowing?

Please leave a comment below to answer the “Your Gentle Nudge” questions for this post.  Add your email in the form below to receive your free Gentle Nudge worksheet, which will help you apply this week’s Gentle Nudge to your life.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and what you can do about that)!

This post contains at least one affiliate link.  That means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  It’s the company’s way of thanking me for recommending a product they sell.  This commission helps me fund this blog and feed my kids.  Thanks!  

Another January has come and gone.  Were you able to stick to your New Year’s resolutions?  No?  Well, you’re not alone!  Many people find themselves in the same boat this time of year.  The excitement and promise of a new year has worn off.  You or someone in your household may have been sick at some point in January.  That’s pretty common after the busyness of the holidays, especially if you have school-aged children in your home.  Plus, the cold weather and short winter days don’t exactly light a fire under your rear to get things done.  It’s no surprise that the vast majority of people fail at their New Year’s resolutions!

If you do an online search about why New Year’s resolutions fail, you’ll find articles on the science, psychology, and spiritual reasons resolutions don’t work for the vast majority of those who make them.  So don’t beat yourself up for being in the same place yet again this year.  Instead, read on to learn more about why resolutions don’t work and what you can do instead.

1. Resolutions don’t work because they rely on willpower.

Many people do not have the sheer willpower to make significant, lasting changes.  This is a very normal and scientifically proven occurrence.  However, your lack of willpower can lead to negative self-talk, beating yourself up, and an all-around feeling of worthlessness.  And those are not the ingredients for success!  Lack of willpower can have a snowball effect.  For example, if you make a resolution to eat healthier, yet you go out with friends or family on Friday night and eat pub food or have dessert after that big meal, you’re more likely to decide that you’ve already blown your resolution, so you might as well pig out over the weekend and start again Monday.  Worse yet, sometimes Monday comes and goes and we’re still pigging out!  So what’s the answer?  Here’s 2 suggestions:

*Ditch the expectation that you can change using willpower.

If you think you can build up enough willpower to tough things out and power through change, by Valentine’s Day you will more likely than not become part of the vast majority who fail at keeping your  resolutions.  To quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for you?”  So far, my attempts to just “power through” haven’t gotten me very far and I’m always left feeling like a total failure.  Even if you are one of the fortunate few who can change through sheer willpower, that can be an exhausting process! I don’t wish that for you or for anyone else’s journey!

*Focus on setting achievable goals instead of making resolutions.

Yes, you have the power within you to change, but you have to be smart and focus on creating goals, not making resolutions.  Goals that are achievable and attainable are ones which are within the realm of possibility for your life.  If I set the goal to become a 7-foot tall Women’s NBA pro basketball player, I’m automatically going to fail since I’m a 5’11 woman in her 40’s who hasn’t played basketball since 7th grade.  However, if I set a goal to become a blogger in 2017 making $40,000 per year, I can make a plan to do that.  Will I automatically achieve that goal?  Not necessarily.  But I can create a plan, do research, find resources that will help me achieve this goal, and I can do all the hard work necessary to make this a reality in my life.  Here’s an excellent description of S.M.A.R.T. goals and how to achieve them.

*A note about goals.

One of my all-time favorite authors, SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow) coined the term “micromovements.”  Micromovements are baby steps toward your goal.  For example, if your goal is to clean out your closet, but the thought of that task is daunting or overwhelming, you can use micromovements to achieve this goal.  Day 1 you can open your closet and take a look at all that is there.  You could also choose to write down a plan of attack detailing what you are going to do each day.  Day 2 you can pick one shelf or section of hanging clothes to sort through.  Day 3 you can pick another shelf or section of hanging clothes to sort through.  Day 4 you can clean up what’s on the floor.  And so on.  You can decide how large or small your micromovement is going to be.  Essentially, you’re breaking down a larger task into bite-sized chunks, making it much more likely you’ll achieve your goal.  The main thing to focus on with micromovements is to do something toward your goal EVERY SINGLE DAY.  This builds momentum, which helps you feel good about working on your goal, which creates a feeling of progress, propelling you toward goal achievement.  The word MOVE is at the center of micromovements.  Your focus here should be on moving, not planning or thinking.  Just do it!

2. Resolutions don’t work because they focus on the negative. 

Resolutions such as, “I want to lose weight” (focus is on you feeling fat) or “I want to spend less money” (focus is on overspending) spotlight something you perceive as a negative aspect of your life.  Okay, I bet you’re asking, “So what ARE you supposed to focus on?”  Of course you want to focus on changing things you’re not happy with, but instead of focusing on the negative, try this:

*Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.

Call it Law of Attraction, your subconscious mind working against you, a curse, or whatever you believe in, but when we focus on something we don’t want to do, that’s the thing we seem to do more of.  Have you ever tried to ignore those cookies or potato chips in the kitchen?  You may have bought them for the party Saturday night, but they will call your name from the time they enter your home until they have been devoured.  Temptation is challenging.  Temptation thwarts resolutions.  When temptation comes knocking, remember the goals you made which help you focus on what you do want in your life!  And if you say you want more chocolate chip cookies in your life, well, just ask if those cookies are helping you reach your bigger goals.

*Have a positive mindset.

So often we experience life through a negative mindset.  Many of us complain about the most mundane parts of life.  However, if we reframe those complaints and frustrations with a positive mindset, we can change the way we think about and experience our goals.  Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” which has a negative focus, try something like, “I want to look and feel healthier.”  In place of “I want to spend less money,” try saying, “I want to keep more of my money for an emergency fund, a vacation, to pay off my credit cards or (insert your goal here).”  Shifting the focus to something positive about money will help you achieve your goal.  

3. Resolutions don’t work because they make you feel bad.

Epic fail.  That’s what it feels like for many of us when we break a resolution (or two, or five), especially if it’s only been a day or two since it was made.  And if you told ANYBODY else about your resolution(s), you’ll feel even worse.  Shame.  Guilt.  Torture.  Don’t do that to yourself.  Try this instead:

*Ask yourself how you want to feel this year.  Then go do that.

Okay, it’s not quite as simple as that.  Going and doing what makes you feel the way you want to feel takes work.  But putting in the work is the only way you are going to achieve your goals and feel the way you want to feel this year.  Did you notice I didn’t mention willpower?  That’s because in order to make progress on whatever you want to get out of a new year, you have to decide what you want, how you want to feel, and develop a step-by-step plan to achieve whatever it is you want.  Then go do that.  You don’t have to wait for a new year, a new month, or Monday to roll around.  Anytime is the perfect time to reboot, refocus, set goals, and and work on achieving them, so next year you can kick resolutions to the curb!

Your Gentle Nudge: What goals do you need to focus on moving forward?  How will achieving those goals help you live a more fulfilling life?

Please leave a comment below to answer the “Your Gentle Nudge” questions for this post.  Add your email in the form below to receive your free Gentle Nudge worksheet, which will help you apply this week’s Gentle Nudge to your life.  Thanks for reading!

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Welcome to My Blog! Let’s Explore Life Together!

Hi there!  I’m Christine, and I’m thrilled that you are visiting my corner of the internet!  Pull up a chair, grab a cup of something good to drink, and get comfy so we can explore life together.  This blog is meant to be an encouraging and challenging place to help you move toward a fulfilling life and help you make your dreams come true.  I can’t promise a weekly list of 5 tips or 8 life hacks that will change your life forever and make you a millionaire in the process.  What I can promise is to share with you things I’ve learned on my own life journey that you may find helpful.

I’ve always been a fan of self-help books and programs.  In college I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and went on to earn a Master’s of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Christian Education.  Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to help people.  This blog is my attempt to help others, and to learn from you along the way as well.  Nothing in life is wasted if you choose to examine it and decide it serves a greater purpose, especially life’s sucky experiences.

So sit back, relax, and explore.  I will write about topics such as self-help, spirituality and spiritual companionship, goal-setting and other life-changing tools, living with food allergies as an adult, life after gastric bypass surgery, how to get your rear in gear when you are resisting doing things that will improve your life, and anything else I feel like writing about in the moment.

I would love to hear from you!  Please leave a comment for me on any of my posts or send me an email at writechristine@yourgentlenudge.com.  Would you like a weekly gentle nudge in your inbox?  Be sure to click the “Subscribe” button on any of my blog pages to sign up for my weekly nudge and to receive more info about my blog as it becomes available.

In the meantime, let’s be friends!  I am here to support you in any way I can, so let me know what topics would be helpful to read about.  I wish you much joy, wisdom, and a healthy perspective on your journey!

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