Such A Great Reminder

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Doing my best.

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On Big Leaps + My Own Upper Limit + Changing the Story

I read an incredibly eye opening book a couple of weekends ago. It was called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.   While it didn’t immediately dazzle me with life changing epiphanies, I have been thinking about it so much over the past two weeks I wanted to mention it.

The Book

The Big Leap
I will start by warning you it is very self-helpy (WAIT WAIT — DON’T GO!) but since I knew that going in (it was a Cynthia Pasquella recommendation when she was on the Underground Wellness Podcast and it was a “Transform Your Life” episode, so you know — self help was sort of a theme) I found it pretty easy to tolerate. You don’t have to be a self help enthusiast to enjoy this book, but I do think, at the very least, you have to be the kind of person who can suspend judgment of self help books long enough to parse out the good bits for your own use. These days I don’t read “Improve Yourself!” books as much as I did in my early 20s, but I do like to find new ways of thinking about things, and I’m always open to at least hearing about a new perspective. If I don’t think it works for me, I don’t use it. But every once in a while, as with this book, I find the new perspectives refreshing.

On the off chance  are NOT one of those people I wanted to share a couple of ideas that had the most impact.  When I finished this book I wasn’t really over or underwhelmed. But now that I have marinated on it for a few weeks, I have not stopped thinking about some of these ideas.

The Premise – We All Have Upper Limits

To give you a quick bit of context, the book mostly deals with the topic of self sabotage and why we do it.  Yes “we” — because everyone does it. Whether you enjoy touchy feely books or not, I think most people can admit there are times in life when we really WANT to do something, or achieve something, yet inevitably things keep happening to get in our own way. Hendricks makes the assumption that we all have the capability to achieve all of our great desires, but calls this space of self sabotage between wanting to do something and actually doing it, an “Upper Limit Problem.” Here’s a little excerpt to clarify:

When things are going well for us, our Upper Limit mechanism kicks in and we suddenly start worrying about things going wrong in some way. We start to justify those worry-thoughts with more worry-thoughts, and soon we’re manufacturing scenarios of things falling apart, coming unglued… Worry is an addiction.

So, like I said: Self Helpy. I can read through that and find reason to roll my eyes, and sort of discard the generality of it. HOWEVER, later on in the book he gets a little more detailed about how we manufacture these Upper Limits Problems for ourselves because we have false beliefs (mostly based in fear) about who we are or how we see the world, and that those hidden barriers are what actually stand in our way. Identify the hidden barriers, reframe them, and then get to accomplishing!

I know, we are dangerously close to joining a cult and singing kumbaya — hold tight for a few more paragraphs.

The Hidden Barriers

He details the most common “hidden barriers” to overcoming your Upper Limits and honestly that is where I clearly saw some of my own patterns of behavior. Here they are in cliffs notes form. I found it helpful to think of a particular Upper Limit Problem I have in my life (eg: my struggle to just do the things I know I need to do to lose the weight I want to lose. More on THAT later.)

Hidden Barrier One: Feeling Fundamentally Flawed – You feel that something is wrong with you.

Hidden Barrier Two: Disloyalty and Abandonment – You refuse to expand and embrace true success because you feel that if you do, you will have to leave your friends and family behind and you do not want to be alone.

Hidden Barrier Three: Believing That More Success Brings a Bigger Burden – If you have feelings that somehow you are a burden to others, those feeling will immobilize you and prevent you from rising to your true potential.

Hidden Barrier Four: The Crime of Outshining – You believe that if you become too successful you will make others look bad. It appears that Hidden Barrier Four is prevalent among gifted and talented children, and often continue to play out in their adult lives.

The Solution + My Own Example

So hey — that’s A LOT of inner child stuff AMIRIGHT?

But as I mentioned earlier, the idea is to find areas in your life where you have an Upper Limit Problem — and then make yourself aware of when you are using one of those hidden barriers above as a crutch or a reason why your desire just can’t come to fruition. And then, of course, reframe the story in your mind and make that Upper Limit Problem your bitch. Hendricks doesn’t say that, but I’m sure he means that.  :)

I have found this stuff fun to chew on in the last couple weeks. Full disclosure, my Upper Limit Problem has really been making my weight loss journey my bitch. I have succeeded before, I know exactly what to do over time, I just continue to find speed bumps that keep from doing what I need to do consistently. And guess what? I’ve been using ALL FOUR of those hidden barriers in a variety of ways.

The biggest crutch that I’ve been using over the last year is that I can’t have great career success at the same time as having great weight loss success.  And I’ve done a really good job of talking myself into that being a FACT. Like somehow I am (lightbulb) FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED and career success and weight loss success both together is just too much at once. I have honestly thought to myself (many times, sadly) that juggling these two things together just are not for me. That other people can succeed like that but I can’t. HOW LAME IS THAT?

I don’t think I would have connected the dots on how obviously I was doing that had I not read this book. Sure, I had to sift through a lot of touchy feely stuff, but to finish this book and realize — hey Holly, your thinking is SUPER flawed on this subject and you actually CAN do both at once and it is a fearful part of your brain that is holding you back — is a large enough epiphany for me to think that it was worth it.

Over the past few weeks I can’t tell you how many times I have been about to make a decision that completely undermines my own weight loss goal (a goal I am completely capable of achieving — hell I’ve lost 100+ lbs before. I KNOW I can lose weight) by rationalizing it with this weird career/health dichotomy thing that I have made up in my brain. As if the two just can not co-exist. It’s been empowering to look at that thought pattern and make a different decision. One that actually pushes me toward my goals. Being aware of the hidden barriers, and acknowledging their falseness has allowed me to change my own story. And so far it is making a world of difference.

 

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On Peace, Courage + Getting Things Done

Courage

As we were falling asleep on Sunday I said to Garrett that this weekend had been perfection. If I had made a checklist of Weekend Items That Equal Awesomeness, we would have OWNED it. One part fun, one part restorative, one part social, one part productive while not feeling rushed — it really was just so peaceful!

Weekends lately go one of two ways: they’re either great and I’m absolutely energized on Monday, or they fly by so fast that my head is still spinning as it hits the pillow Sunday night. Regardless of which way they go though, the weekends are usually the best part of my week.

Though it might seem counterintuitive, I’ve been feeling a little conflicted about that lately. I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill or trying to worry about something when there is nothing there, but I’m just feeling a bit of conflict around the great exhale that I take every Friday afternoon because it reminds that I’m doing a whole lot of holding my breath.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it is really important to me to try and create a life that needs no escape. I don’t want to be a person who spends an entire year waiting for that one week of scheduled vacation. I don’t want to always be waiting for Friday to come. Constantly looking for the light at the end of the tunnel feels like a giant recipe for burnout. I know that everyone needs a little break sometimes, but as I get older, I become more and more determined to put my energy toward making my daily life as enjoyable and intentional as possible.

When I say that out loud it sounds a little hippie woo-woo, but it actually comes from a really practical place. I think it’s is a consequence of losing a loved one too soon — because thinking about my dad just being done with life in his early 40s BLOWS MY MIND. I think when you lose someone so young, and so unexpectedly, you become hyper aware of fickle nature of time.

So. While the perfect weekend is always welcome at our house, it has really highlighted for me that lately I haven’t been making an effort to really “enjoy the journey.”  I know, I know — The Journey, GAG. I may as well hang up my poster of Mt. Everest with inspirational quotes right below it. But I really haven’t. I’ve been beating myself up a little bit for all of the perceived “failures” I’ve got going on — working out less than I want, seeing friends less often than I’d like, eating crappy food because it is convenient, staying up super late and having “just one glass of wine” after a long work day. Sure, all of those things are less than ideal, but honestly every day I still get up and try to do my best. And I am realizing that I need to enjoy the process of “doing my best” more instead of just focusing on all the things I am NOT accomplishing.

This is so hard for a goal oriented person like myself, especially when I feel like the energy I am expending is not accelerating the forward progress, but I did read the quote above in an old issue of Oprah magazine last night while sitting in the bath tub and something about it just made me exhale a bit. (YAY, breathing!) There is part of me that becomes a little bit scared when I can’t quantify what I’ve completed. When I can’t check something off a list, you know? But I keep forgetting that I’ve been developing a whole new skill set this year, and it’s one that I’ve been writing through as I’ve struggled with it. 

Being present.

It’s fine to have goals and plans, but the only thing I can manage are my intentions in the moment.  I know in my heart that the more I can let go of my expectations of the outcome, the more present I can be. And honestly when I am just showing up and being present, it is when I feel most capable. (And peaceful!)

I think part of what I need to do is re-frame the meaning behind that little voice in my head who tells me I must get up and try again tomorrow, and I really identified that while reading this quote. When I’m being fearful, that quiet voice can sound like a judgment that I’m just not doing enough, and therefore failing to Get Things Done. But in reality, I’m starting to hear that little voice as my biggest cheerleader. Taking a stab at something new, doing the best you can, hell even just thinking about how to make something better — ALL are acts of courage. And if I can still hear that voice, and if I’m still waking up everyday and giving what I can, then I think in the end it doesn’t matter what actually gets accomplished.

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10 Pieces of Simple Wisdom

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1. People exaggerate the value of things they haven’t got. – George Bernard Shaw

2. To the question of your life, you are the only answer. To the problems of your life, you are the only solution. – Jo Coudert

3. The real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humor or irony pitched in exactly the same key. – Edith Wharton

4. We must recall the most important of humanity guidelines: Be polite. Being polite is possibly the greatest daily contribution everyone can make to life on Earth. – Caitlin Moran

5. You cannot fly into your own arms. -Elizabeth McCracken

6. Forgiveness doesn’t sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill. – Cheryl Strayed

7. The truth is often a mixed message. – Dan Savage

8. Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty. – Brene Brown

9. Don’t try to steer the river. -Deepak Chopra

10. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. – Marianne Williamson

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On Fearing Change

Maya Angelou

Change is scary!

Oh, if you were looking for a newsflash, I apologize. :) That statement isn’t news to anyone, but what I do think is somewhat newsworthy is the brain’s tendency to get comfortable with the familiar. It happens so quietly that sometimes we don’t even realize that we are making that judgment. In the quest for better health, better relationships and better living I think it is important to make the distinction between what is familiar and what is actually productive.

I heard someone say the other day that people rarely change when things are going right, but instead when things are going wrong. If we know this to be true then unhappiness is not a crisis, but rather an opportunity. I like that little mind trick. Unhappiness can be a speed bump or a springboard. The key is to choose which one you want it to be.

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The Work Is The Same

Miserable-Strong

I’ve been marinating on this quote since I first heard it a few days ago and I can’t tell you how much it has helped me reframe some of my everyday stress. Instead of feeling like I am bogged down, it’s helping me see tough tasks as fuel for growth. Instead of wondering how I got stuck in a situation, it’s helping me see the many opportunities at my fingertips. Instead of asking “Why me?” it’s made me ask “What can I learn?”

Isn’t it so curious how sometimes a few words can do that so powerfully?

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On Fear, Failure and Feeling Alive

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals lately and how easy it is to feel pulled in so many different directions. Every once in a while I go back and forth between feeling like “Oh no! That’s too much to do” and “My overflowing plate makes me feel amazing!” (And not in a Stress Addiction kind of way, I promise.) Logic says I’d have a better chance at success if I pursued fewer things, right? But here’s the thing about stretching yourself — it means you are CONSTANTLY learning and growing. And to me:

Learning + Growing = Feeling Alive

Right now in my life the to do list is long and the goals are varied. Sure, sometimes I feel a little bit overwhelmed and I’ll admit sometimes I even feel scared. But I think feeling alive doesn’t always mean feeling comfortable, and more importantly feeling uncomfortable doesn’t always mean something needs to change. I came across an excerpt from Brene Brown’s “I Thought It Was Just Me” recently and (as usual) her words brought everything into perspective that had been swimming around in my brain about all of this:

One of the benefits of growth through goal setting is that it is not an all-or-nothing proposition–success or failure is not the only possible outcome…When we set improvement goals and set measurable objectives to meet those goals, we can learn and grow from both missed and met objectives. If our goal is perfection, we will inevitably fail and that failure offers us nothing in terms of learning and change; it only makes us vulnerable to shame.

This brought me so much clarity. Most feelings of fear and overwhelm are triggered by this pursuit of perfection. And it can be so commonplace that it almost becomes subconscious. But pursuit of perfection doesn’t help make us better, it mostly just breeds fear of failure, and if I’ve said once, I’ve said it a million times: FAILURE SHOULDN’T BE FEARED! Failure is one of the most powerful learning tools we have. And as long as I’m learning and growing, I know I’m living.

And what is better than feeling alive?

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15 Small Steps to Kickstart Big Change

Whether you get excited about the prospect of making New Year’s Resolutions or think it all sounds like a lot of talk without the results, a fresh start on the calendar is always a great time to work towards Awesome-izing Your Life. Awesome-ize. It’s a word. Look it up. :) Sure, this sometimes requires undertaking a large-scale project, but I can honestly say that year after year I’ve often found that it is the tiny little changes that we make over time that ended up having the biggest impact. So if you don’t have the energy to come up with a Giant Resolution to tackle in 2013, how about some taking a few baby steps? You never know, over time some of these may create a domino effect of change you never even knew you wanted to make!

1. Find a Way to Enjoy Eating More Vegetables

Overhauling your diet is such a popular resolution, and trust me, I am obviously a fan. But it takes a huge commitment. What if you just took one little step? Commit to finding some healthy recipes that you actually like. Learn to love brussels sprouts (hint: add bacon). Try making the best broccoli ever. Serve up a giant bowl of spicy kale chips with your lunch instead of those Honey Dijon Kettle Chips. No big deal, right? Just a little change.

Things are right about to get delicious!

2. Commit to Being In More Photos

This post about Moms Staying in the Picture was all over the place this year and despite not being a mom, I loved the sentiment. Who cares if you still need to lose 10 lbs or you don’t love your hair — your life is still worth documenting. Whether it is making sure you are in the vacation pics instead of staying behind the camera, do what you have to do to honor your life NOW. Learn how to take a good self portrait. Your future self will want to remember exactly what that experience looked like.

3. Get Your Online Communication In Check

Do a quick audit of your social media channels: what are you putting out there? Do you mindlessly complain online? Bitch about politics? Only share pictures of your kids or dog? (ahem, GUILTY) Social Media Platforms aren’t going away, so maybe it’s time to come up with a strategy. How do you want to read to the world? What you put out there is important.


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4. Have Friends Over For A Casual Dinner

Sometimes when I think of “having people over” I talk myself out of it because I don’t need another stressful event on my To-Do List. Make 2013 the year that you perfect Casual Entertaining. Filet Mignon is not required to have an awesome evening of conversation with good friends. Stick to an easy Dinner Party Style Recipe. Or Heck, have a pot luck. Play a game. Watch a movie. Keep it simple.

5. Improve Communication With Your Spouse

I mentioned that this last year was a challenging year for Garrett and I, and many of the things we struggled with were miscommunications. So vague, yet so important. One of the things we started doing a while back was to sit down on Sundays and talk about the up coming week while answering these 5 questions (well, 4 questions, we aren’t really the “pray for each other” types.) Sure it seemed a little formal at first, but it has been really amazing how the answers can really set the stage for better communication.

6. Do a Side by Side Taste Test & Discover What You REALLY Like

My favorite part of wine tasting is when you get to see how a wine changes when paired with different foods. Comparative tasting is super fun, and also really illuminating. The next time you are buying yourself some coffee, wine, chocolate, gin, whatever — pick up two types and taste them side by side. I find that tasting two like things side by side helps me get to know exactly what I like I even better.

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7. Send More Handwritten Notes

Whether it’s a thank you note, a birthday card, or just a postcard to say hello — send your sentiments by hand. Who doesn’t love to receive mail?

8. Get Sucked Into a Series of Books

Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, Sookie Stackhouse, 50 Shades of Grey — whatever it takes, just find a series of books that will suck you in and keep you thinking about turning the pages to find out what happens next.

9. Create a Stash of One Pot Meal Recipes For Those Busy Weeks

Martha Stewart has a long list that includes 49 One Pot Meals. Last year I shared 30 Nights of Paleo Crock Pot Meals (and I still use so many of those!) It is so helpful to have a go-to stash of easy recipes.

10. Try a New Workout

I’ve talked before about the importance of finding YOUR fitness but you can’t actually find it if you don’t start looking. Ask your friend to take you to her yoga class, try that spin class at your gym that you think might look fun. Email the owner of a CrossFit gym to find out what the next steps are (how un-scary is email?). Pick up a workout video on Amazon. Just try something new…who knows, you may find something you LOVE!

11. Read a Self Help Book

Sure it sounds cheesy, but what if you put the eye roll on pause, embraced the woo-woo and actually learned something that changed your life? I spent a lot of my early 20s drowning in embarrassing self help books and I often look back and chuckle about it. But the other day I was having a conversation with a coworker about reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and I was DUMBFOUNDED by how much of that book I have unknowingly incorporated into my life. I read it when I was 22! Pick up something cheesy and motivational. (My favorite: Louise Hay Wisdom Cards) Maybe it won’t change your life today, but perhaps it will marinate and then one day you will realize how much it has changed you.

Need some cheesy Wednesday motivation? Me too!!!

12. Adopt a Pet

So maybe this is a bigger “small step” but listen, you don’t have to run out and buy a dog. But can I tell you the most surprising thing that has changed about my life since Buster came into it? I have less fear. Wait…what? I don’t know how to explain it, but now that I have something that is counting on me to be it’s protector, I feel bold in the face of my silly fears. It’s little things like how I used to jump at every little sound in our backyard at night but now if my dog needs to go to the bathroom, I don’t even think twice about heading out into the great black boogey man abyss in the middle of the night for Buster. Hey Monsters, COME AT ME BRO!
I've got my eye on you.

13. Buy Yourself Something You Have No Business Buying

Of course the implication here is within reason, so don’t go out and get yourself a Ferrari that matches Justin Bieber’s, but maybe you’ve been running for a year and still haven’t gotten yourself a Garmin, or maybe you want that pricey perfume that you think smells super great. Maybe you want a Clarisonic because The Internet makes you think your face will be a leathery piece of sandpaper if you don’t purchase one. Whatever. TREAT YO SELF.

14. Get a Dramatic Haircut

Whenever I feel schlubby about my appearance, a dramatic haircut always helps. I don’t necessarily mean cut it all off, but change the style. New hair is always a good act of self care that can motivate you to take your appearance into consideration. And just think, the worst case scenario is that you will get to buy hats with wild abandon. :)

15. Find a Mantra

I know, I know mantras are right up there with self-help books and hippy woo woo. But mantras also have the ability to focus your thoughts and channel your energy into meaningful change. Pick something that resonates with you in your heart, and keep it close and repeat it often. My new mantra for 2013:

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I will be repeating that often, I assure you.

*****

What little changes are YOU planning on making for the new year?

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Here’s A Holiday Survival Tip: Lower Your Standards


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This may be the least motivating post I’ve ever written in the history of this site, but you guys: IT NEEDS TO BE SAID. I am really getting sick of reading the same old magazine articles with recycled tips and tricks about how to stay healthy during the holidays. That is not to say that I am above ever needing a good tip, or to say that some of them are not quite useful tips, but more that I am bored of hearing someone tell me that if I would just drink a big glass of water or eat a high fiber snack before my favorite annual Christmas party that I will magically forget how good deep fried mini-crab cakes and pumpkin cheesecake taste.

I’m sorry Fitness Magazine, but I have the memory of an elephant whether I am properly hydrated or not.  And food memories are powerful things.

When I was 21 and living in Los Angeles with my cousin Kelly and my gay husband Fredo, I had what I consider a moment I will never forget with a pumpkin cheesecake and indulge me while I tell about it. You see I was managing a coffee shop by day and by night I was participating in extracurricular activities that involved imbibing and inhaling and surely some other verbs that begin with the letter ‘i’ that I can’t quite remember right this second.  One night Kelly — who conveniently worked at the Costco right behind our apartment — brought home one of those ENORMOUS pumpkin cheesecakes that only Costco can sell while keeping a straight face.

We unwrapped it like it was a gift from the Baby Jesus himself and ate it straight out of the cardboard box that had originally contained it with no regard for manners whatsoever. Emily Post would have been horrified at the sight of us and probably even more so when we had had enough and we put away what was left of the cheesecake carcass (half eaten it still took up the whole top shelf of the refrigerator.) And because we were resourceful young whippersnappers, most concerned with kitchen efficiency, WE LEFT OUR FORKS IN THE CHEESECAKE.  And then we spend the rest of the week doing individual cheesecake drive-bys until the entire thing was gone.

I mean, it just made so much blissful sense at the time.

These days I’d never even bring one of those cheesecakes into my house, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a nostalgic little chuckle every single time I pass them in the refrigerator case during my weekly Costco run almost TEN YEARS LATER. Sometimes I consider snagging one for old times sake. I’ve certainly enjoyed a slice or two over the last decade at holiday parties and such (but with much less abandon, I promise.) And the thing about each time I off-road and enjoy that holiday treat, is that what warms my belly most is the memory of that time and place in my life when everything was so full of…well, LIVING!  No it was not the nutritional highlight of my life, but it was a highlight. And those are important too! And this is why I am growing so exhausted lately when I hear people groaning about trying to “be good” or worrying about how to make up for “being bad” with their food intake this time of year.

The holidays are a tough time to be healthy even for the most disciplined. And while I’m not advocating for everyone to just go off the rails for the next month and a half, I will tell you that as a fairly disciplined person myself I understand the struggle.  But I also don’t think every interaction with food during the weekends of November and December needs to have a strategy.

Everyday I try to eat a good breakfast. I prep myself healthy snacks and I enjoy them. I plan my meals with good intentions. When I have the opportunity to eat something green, I chow down! I drink a glass of water for every glass of wine, and while the wine opportunities are much more often during these months, I generally feel comforted by the fact that I try to do my best. I try to do my best everyday, not just during the holidays. So I am 100% ok with the fact that My Best during November and December looks a little different than My Best during the month of January.  And knowing that is a treat in itself. Everything is heightened this time of year and I don’t feel the least bit bad about lowering my standards.  If you are freaked out in the moment about lowering your standards, and have a hard time letting yourself off the hook, here are some things to think about:

*Pat yourself on that back for how far you’ve come, mentally and physically
*Get excited about where you are going, this year and next year.
*See the big picture.
*High five yourself for being willing to think big and work hard and don’t spend a minute beating yourself up for an indulgence here and there.
*Remember that this is real life and a night filled with min-crab cakes is not going to unravel everything

Then choose your indulgences wisely and then don’t give it another thought!

Clink a glass of your choice to your families and friendships. Toast to happiness and especially to the health that you work so hard for every single day of the year. Those pumpkin cheesecake filled moments with the ones you love are priceless and they won’t be around forever. Things change, lives change and who wants to be hand wringing over a glass of champagne or a bite of cheesecake when they can be laughing just a little bit too loud with an old pal. Sometimes we do ourselves a favor by lowering our standards.

This season, I hope you enjoy yourselves and your families.  Do your best to make good decisions — and that will look different for everyone. It has looked different for me every year since I went Paleo.  Trust your body to let you know if it needs a little detox or if it needs another bag of chips. And then tomorrow, get right back to it like you always do.

Worst advice ever? Who knows. But it’s how I’m being nice to myself this season. Have you thought about how you are going to be nice to YOU?

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Want To Build Confidence: Do Hard Things

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You know what’s hard? Posting pictures of yourself with bed head. :)

A few mornings per week I set my alarm for a little bit of an ungodly hour. I wake up. I write. I feed the dog. If he’s lucky he gets brushed and then I grab breakfast and head to work. Some days I get crazy and throw in a load of laundry. Morning is an important time in my house because it is definitely when I feel most productive. But I know this about myself, so I harness that — even when I don’t really feeeeeeeeeeel like getting up early.

Each month I set intentions. Sometimes by the end of the month I find them annoying and wonder to myself “Why did I even set out to do that in the first place?” Sometimes I high five myself for productivity. But having sat down and thought about what I wanted for the month gives me a road map. A compass of sorts. That list doesn’t get things done for me, but it does reminds me of what I really want. And sometimes it is hard to remember amidst the din of everyday life.

4 to 5 afternoons per week I lace up my sneakers after work and head over to American River CrossFit. The workouts are intense, heck, sometimes they even border on torture — but it’s temporary torture. The results, however, are not temporary and that is why I keep going back. Sure every once in a while when I get out of my car I think “Why I can’t just go hop on an ellipitical and watch the Food Network while on auto pilot and call it a day?” But I know myself and I know that for me, part of getting healthy is really KNOWING what my body can do. So I walk into that gym even when it feels difficult.

Some months I do nutty things that rub right up against the boundaries of my own happiness. But like my favorite T.S. Eliot quote says “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Despite people telling me I am whacky (confirmed: I am. I’ll admit it) I continue to do it. I document my life in public on this site. I throw in a nutritional challenge here and there. I do crazy experiments with my skin care. I make an arbitrary goal to post a certain number of recipes. I run a half marathon when I know I don’t reeeeeeeeeeeally have time to train. I know these things will be tough, but that is precisely why I do them.

When Garrett says, “Holly, let’s just be normal for a bit.” I always entertain this idea. Sometimes I entertain it because in the moment not pushing myself sounds really good. I even sometimes question myself during these moments — am I doing more harm than good? And that is a good question to continually ask if you are a person like me because sometimes things don’t just feel hard, they are hard. Challenging yourself and pushing your limits is great, but in the end nobody gets a medal for having a dramatic life. There is a difference between doing hard things as a challenge and letting things become hard due to poor time management or filling your plate too full.

But ultimately doing hard things is worthwhile, and I always *highly* recommend it to others. An easy life is a good life too, I’m sure. But here is the thing about committing to hard: when you finish, there is a very particular feeling. A good feeling. And it is a feeling that you won’t get if someone just hands you something. This feeling you get is that nothing is insurmountable. This feeling you get is that your skills have risen to the challenge. And they have. This feeling you get is confidence. And confidence is a need to have, not a nice to have. And while it is well within your reach, you can’t just pick it up on the Clearance End Cap at Target. You have to work for it.

But it is worth it.

Confidence comes from having experiences. Confidence comes from being well prepared. Confidence comes from being completely UN-prepared, scrambling to get through, and knowing that you don’t want that to happen again. Confidence comes from knowing yourself. Confidence comes from stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone and succeeding anyway. I don’t always KNOW I can do things, but in my heart of hearts, I always know that I can try. And if I try, there are only two possible options: I will either succeed or I will gather more information for my next attempt. Either way I’m moving forward, and to me that’s a win. And the best part? Building confidence doesn’t have to start with a long list of Stuff To Do. Sometimes it just starts with a thought. I’m a firm believer that what we think is what we become.

So what are YOU thinking about today?

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What I’m Pinning

  • Tweed Cropped Jacket
  • Halogen® Cardigan, S
  • cute!
  • Image Via: Imogene+W
  • Vince Camuto Grommet
  • Vince Camuto Pleated
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