Category Archives: Hate Loss Challenge

Hate-Loss Challenges Past

Since this blog’s inception I have always maintained that one of the keys to losing weight and keeping it off is figuring out why we abuse food in the first place.  You can choose to agree or disagree, but I believe that every person who has ever struggled with their weight ultimately has a reason why their relationship with food is an unhealthy one, whether they realize it or not.  Because I like to eat is not an answer.

 

 

I have received a few emails over the past month or so asking whether or not I will be hosting the Hate-Loss Challenge for a fourth year in January.  My responses stated that I’d been seriously considering it but that I just wasn’t sure whether I could give it the attention that it deserves.

 

For those of you who are new to this blog, the Hate Loss Challenge was a month long event in which participants carried out a series of weekly exercises that promoted emotional health and happiness. I created this challenge back when other weight loss blogs were promoting month long weight-loss challenges that coincided with New Years Resolutions. I would read as bloggers belittled themselves when they stepped on the scale and didn’t see the results they wanted.  Many were eating way too little while simultaneously overtraining, and ultimately burned out on the act of dieting which would sometimes lead to a binge; then the cycle would begin all over again.

 

It was my hope that by offering a ‘Hate-Loss’ Challenge and start the New Year with a month of positive affirmations, support and self-reflection a habit would be born, leaving us all feeling beautiful in the present moment, regardless of what the scale said.  Being mentally healthy, I believe, is the first real step in losing and ultimately maintaining a healthy weight.

In the four years that I’ve been writing here, I can honestly say that my Hate-Loss Challenges are what I am most proud of.  I’ve recently gone back and read through several of the exercises we worked on, the difficulties many of us faced and the breakthroughs we shared.    Here is an excerpt from one such exercise that I proposed back in 2012:

This week’s exercise: Think back to a time or place in your life when you formed negative thoughts about yourself. Why do you think you are undeserving of praise?

Was there a specific event that caused you to change the way you perceive yourself?

 

Is it because you’ve always been reminded of your imperfections or weaknesses?

 

Is it because you’re not receiving enough positive feedback from people whose opinions really matter to you?

 

Do you have unrealistic expectations of yourself?

 

Were you taught these habits from living in an unhealthy environment?

 

We had a week to think about, write about and discuss our thoughts on this subject.  I learned a lot about myself as I faced some ugly demons from my past that kept me from moving forward in parts of my life.  You can read my discussion post where I answer the above questions here.

That post was one of the most difficult pieces of writing I’ve ever done.  Forcing oneself to come face to face with an uncomfortable part of the past is one thing, but to write about it for all to see is another.  But I wasn’t the only one.  Every participant worked just as hard, confronting experiences that they’d been neglecting yet clinging to for far too long.

HLC2013

 

After some serious thought, I’ve decided that I will not be hosting 2014’s Hate-Loss Challenge, and for that I am deeply regretful, but at the same time I realize that if I did agree to host, it wouldn’t be fair to any of those who want to join because it is not something that can be done by giving 50 or 60%.  It means too much to me to give anything less than my full attention – something that I simply cannot do this coming year.  I sincerely apologize to those of you who were looking to join, and to end an amazing three year run.

I will tell you this: just because I cannot commit to hosting January’s challenge doesn’t mean that the month of January will be filled with meaningless drivel!  No, I intend on paying tribute to the last three years with some of the best quotes, exercises and excerpts I can find.  And remember – with or without a January challenge, I’m always here for support.

xo,

~Ellen

Keeping Promises

When I was around 6 years old my parents left for the weekend to visit some friends.  At first they hesitated leaving my 16 year old brother and 17 year old sister in charge of me, but ultimately left feeling fairly confident as my siblings assured them that I’d be in bed by 8 and that they would make sure the house was as neat as a pin upon their return. Little did Mom and Dad know that those promises were code for Ellen will be in bed by 8 because we don’t want her in the way when our friends come over and, the house will be neat as a pin because we’ll have some major cleaning to do so you never find out about our groovy party (yes, groovy.  Hey, it was the seventies!)

 

36898_1512190854853_5787220_n

My sister holding me during the ‘good old days’, aka: before I could talk!

 

I don’t remember a lot about that Friday night but I do remember coming into the living room where my sister was doing ‘The Bump’ (a super cool dance step back in 1976) and asking me to go back into my room to make another ‘really pretty, detailed picture of the dog.’  The thing was, I’d already brought her a picture of every member of the family – and the house, the car, the yard, and my favorite food.  Was she trying to get rid of me or something? 

After another ten minutes or so I came back with another drawing of our dog Cocoa (an incredible likeness, I might add) to a whole house full of teenagers singing along to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.  Finally my sister, who loved me but was clearly getting frustrated with me constantly badgering her, pulled me off to the side and stepped up her game. “Ellen, you know that question you’re always asking Mom and Dad about? The one they always tell you you’re too young to know the answer to and then make you go outside to play?  Well, I’ll tell you if you promise to leave us alone for the rest of the evening. Deal?” 

Sis was playing hardball now.  I glanced over at my brother who was staring at her with newfound awe and admiration for coming up with such a brilliant idea.   Clearly this was information that I had to have – needed to have because everyone else already knew the secret to where babies came from – everyone but me, that is, and I hated being left out of things.  “Okay!”  I said as I eagerly followed my sister back to my room. 

Sitting at my desk I listened as she explained how babies were made.  My eyes grew wider and the look on my face went from excitement to confusion; then, ultimately – horror.  I sat silent as my sister wrapped up her lesson on the male and female anatomy and then said, “Now, remember – you promised you’d leave us alone, remember?  Oh, and don’t tell Mom and Dad that I told you.”  With that, she opened the door and wandered back to the sound of the Bee Gees blaring in the other room. 

I kept my promise…sort of.  I did leave them alone for the rest of the night.  I was too embarrassed to go back into the living room where my brother and sisters friends were, instead choosing a coloring book to get my mind off of such yucky information. 

Mom and Dad arrived home to a clean and quiet house on Sunday night, clearly impressed by my brother and sister’s caretaking skills.  That is until my six year old body couldn’t hold onto my secret any longer (I think I lasted a couple of hours though, so YAY for me, right?) and I recited nearly every detail of my newfound knowledge with my mother who looked at me in shock, then at my sister in anger. 

My sister got into trouble for that one, though I don’t remember whether she was grounded or had the phone taken away.  She got over it pretty quickly though, because I never did tell my parents about the party.

I’m proud to say that I wasn’t emotionally stunted by having had ‘the talk’ at such a young age, nor did that event lead me into a life of chronic promise-breaking; in fact, I’m pretty stellar at keeping promises when it comes to other people.  It seems the only person I have trouble keeping my promise to is me, which is why I’ve never been a big fan of New Year Resolutions.  I rarely set specific plans into motion for the simple fact that I don’t want to feel like a failure if I can’t follow through.  Beginning January First, however, I am making one promise that I fully intend to keep for the entire year.

I’ve written about my gratitude journal and how positive it’s been in helping me notice the good even when things such as surgery and recovery have taken up a big part of my life over the past several months.  I wanted to take this idea one step further and create more of a visual reminder of the many things I’m grateful for, so I’ve decided to write out every good thing that happens during 2013 and jot down each experience on paper.  I’ll fold it in half and drop it into a container (which I’ll likely keep by my bedside so I don’t forget to do it) and at the end of the year, read through all of the positive things that happened during 2013.  What a powerful way to end the year on a good note while bringing perspective to my life. 

Like this idea?  I hope so, because we will be incorporating this act of mindfulness into our Hate Loss Challenge next month.  Start searching for your gratitude containers because there’s only a couple of weeks left before we ring in the New Year! 

~Ellen

Hate Loss Challenge 2013 Introduction

Gah!!  January will be here in no time, which means I’d better share with you my overview on the upcoming annual Hate Loss Challenge for January, 2013 Smile

 

hlthree

This challenge has evolved over the last couple of years, and every year – thanks to readers spreading the word – it continues to grow with more and more participants. 

It all started between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2010.  As I read browsed and read various weigh loss blogs I noticed a common theme:  many bloggers were amping up for weight loss challenges to kick off the New Year, determined to work off those extra holiday pounds.  While these weight loss challenges were nothing new (I’ve had several of those New Year resolutions myself), many of these perfectly beautiful young women were berating themselves for not having met a certain goal for the year; I read post after post of bloggers beating themselves up for not having dropped that pound for the week and ultimately, disgracing themselves on their blogs for the way they looked. 

I decided that what if, in addition to these weight loss challenges, there was a hate-loss challenge that focused more on loving ourselves for who we are at this moment? 

So, on January 1st 2011 the Hate-Loss Challenge was born.  Given ‘exercises’ to do for that month, we started creating a more positive environment for ourselves and learned to accept the goodness and beauty in each of us as we made our way towards a healthier lifestyle.  We came together here on my blog one day a week for Group Therapy Thursday and shared our progresses, our concerns and supported each other with theirs.  Those who blogged committed to writing their own post so their readers could be involved and offer support. 

Many things will remain the same, such as Group Therapy Thursday.  This is the day when participating bloggers post their progress reports as well as link their posts to my own progress post so that readers can visit and read other people’s posts, as well as offer support.  There will be a few new surprises this year, including giveaways! 

Note: **You do NOT have to be a blogger to participate.  You can commit to this challenge by following the exercises and then reporting your own progress report in the comments section of my blog every Thursday.  This is OUR challenge – all of us; no exclusions Smile

Still have questions?  Go to the Hate-Loss Challenge Information tab at the top of my blog and you’ll get an idea of what you’re in for.  

More to come.  In the meantime, for those of you who already know you’d like to participate or simply just spread the word, feel free to grab my HL Challenge badge located on the right of my sidebar and add it to your blog. 

xo,

~Ellen

My First Blog Post

 

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. What a load of crap. If that were true, everyone would be thin. I never would have gotten fat in the first place if I believed that ever-so encouraging phrase.  There are countless reasons why people overeat. Mine happens to be that I use food as a comfort tool. When I’m in a good place emotionally, I may bake cookies with applesauce instead of butter. When I’ve had a somewhat discouraging day, I’ll most likely pull out the butter but then use an egg and sugar substitute to ‘balance it out’. When I’ve had an all out rotten-to-the-core day….well, bring on the fat and brown sugar, baby.   Sigh.

This brings me to my purpose for being here. I can best do this by directing you back to the name of my blog, Fat Girl Wearing Thin. You see, the fat girl is me. Well, technically the fat girl was me about 10 years ago. My weight was normal through high school, however in college my freshman fifteen turned into the sophomore sixty. By the time I was twenty-seven years old I carried 235 pounds on my five foot-two frame.

I’ve been at a healthy weight for several years now. Getting it to come off though – now, that took some time considering I did it without surgery, weight loss groups, or exercise classes. I just stumbled through the process with lots of trial and error until I finally made it to my goal weight.

So, why am I sitting here blogging?  Shouldn’t ‘thin’ people should be out living the dream? What’s the dream? Well for me that would be popping into Victoria’s Secret and purchasing that ultra-sexy bra and panties the model is wearing in the window, while wearing form-fitting workout gear from Athleta, after having just pigged out completely guilt-free at The Cheesecake Factory. But, uh….. no; that’s not what I’m doing. You see, I have this fat girl stalking me. She has been lurking around ever since I broke through my final plateau and landed at my goal weight. She lives inside me and I am constantly trying to keep her at bay. I don’t provoke her or try to stress her out too much. If I do, I’m afraid she just may decide to take over this body and return it to her impressive heftier size.  Someone once told me, ‘Ellen, losing the weight isn’t the hard part….it’s keeping it off.’  It is a daily battle to maintain an ideal weight, especially when you’ve been obese.  I spent so much effort ‘getting to goal’ that I never considered what to do once I got there.

 

I still have days when the stress is too much and she says, ‘to hell with it’ and so I whip up a batch of lemon squares (and then hide them so my husband doesn’t see them.) And there have been many times when I have HAD IT with exercise and she whispers, ‘You just need more protein; here, have this jar of peanut butter,’ and I eagerly pull it from the cupboard. I clearly can be my own worst enemy and if I’m not careful, she’ll get her way and I’ll find my way back to obesity.

However, if I can look beyond my daily struggles and connect with others that struggle with me, maybe together we can live the life we were meant to live.

Welcome.

Share.

And be on the lookout; the fat girl is wearing thin.

 

Learning how to be ‘Enough’

So, a few weeks ago I posted that I was in the beginning stages of reading a new book Van Gogh: The Life.  It’s a hefty read at over 900 pages and since I prefer audiobooks, the reading is going a bit slow.  Yesterday morning on my way to work I decided to take a break from the book and go to the library to pick up some magazines to flip through during the evening.  I grabbed new and old mags including Self, Woman’s Day, More, Martha Stewart Living, and Allure. 

By 10 PM, I’d dropped my last magazine on the floor.  And I was a bit aggravated.  At first I wasn’t sure why.  But by this morning it dawned on me. 

Ahem…As I step high upon my soapbox I welcome you to today’s post.  Warning:  now may be a good time to start running for the hills before it’s too late! 

Before I begin, I want to make clear that I’m not posting a belief that magazines were created to show us just how ordinary, boring and average we are compared to the beauties, thrill seekers and go-getters I kept reading about last night – although I do admit to sometimes feeling that way.  No, this post is more about why being considered normal is somehow just not good enough.  People are considered less-than because they aren’t doing it ALL:

Don’t I want to break through that glass ceiling?  Get to the top of that corporate ladder?  I need to work harder, perform better, be smarter, stay later and dress for success. 

Didn’t you know that it’s considered blasphemy to call yourself a Good Parent?  Now you have to be known as the Best Parent in the World (can also substitute ‘best’ for Coolest, Greatest, Most Fun to Be With - your choice). 

Want to lose weight?  Well, it isn’t good enough to lose 30, 50, or 80 pounds.  It seems as though I also have to become an avid runner or join a cycling club.  Then I need to enter multiple marathons.  Then I have to keep beating my previous times. 

Don’t forget meals.  Apparently, fragrant homemade meals are key in keeping families together.  It has to taste sinfully good and scream healthy, and look like it just stepped out of Martha Stewart’s kitchen.   So, I’d best start learning how to flip those snowflake-shaped flapjacks next to that pure maple syrup I should be extracting from that tree outside. 

What about exercise?  Making an effort to getting up and moving every day it seems, is unacceptable.  Now, I have to squeeze in 30, 45, 60 minutes of cardio 5 days a week; cram in some strength training; don’t forget about Yoga (my mental health counts too, you know) and make sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. 

Don’t forget about my wild and crazy side!  I need to get out there and mountain climb; book a flight to climb Kilimanjaro; get my rear end to the Galapagos before it gets overrun by all those darned tourists.  Oh, and why not learn to speak another language while I’m at it?

So, let’s recap:  since we are now newly titled as Best Parents Ever and Employees of the Month (for the third time this year), Marathon Runners, Master Cyclists, Culinary Chefs, Master Yogis, French speaking buffed-out Gods(or Goddesses), we should be feeling pretty rested, what with all that sleep we’re obviously getting, right?

 

*Whew*  Between us, I do believe that this post contains more sarcasm than all of my past writings put together.

OK.  Here’s what I’m really trying to get across:  while magazines don’t help any, they aren’t the only culprit.  I see people who constantly compare themselves to other people, and I have been known to do this as well; it’s just plain human nature. If He or She is doing this or that, then there must be something lacking within me. I must find a way to be strong enough/smart enough to do it, too.  The problem is, no one can do it all.  If we spent all of our time trying to do what’s considered ‘enough’, which is essentially everything that’s supposed to turn us into better, well-rounded people, we’d simply never get anything done! 

Consider this post an introduction to my Hate-Loss Challenge that’s coming up in January.  For the next couple of weeks I think we should stop comparing ourselves to the marathon blogger we read about and embrace the fact that there’s nothing wrong with just running for fun, if that’s what we want to do. 

Maybe take it easy on yourself and quit comparing yourself to other parents and the things you think you should be doing with your children.  Take pride in the fact that one of the great things about being a parent is that there will always be opportunities to teach them how to become better human beings.    

Don’t look down on ourselves because we’re not thrill-seekers or great adventurers.  Be happy that our genetic makeup is what keeps us from going beyond the guard-rail and teetering at the edge of the Grand Canyon.  There is nothing wrong with us. 

Finally, I say think – really think about the things that you want to do in your life.  For You.  Because you want to.  Not because you’ve seen or read or heard that you should be doing these things. 

Life is too short to feel guilty about the things you haven’t done.  It’s your precious time that’s being filled, so fill that life with things that are meaningful to you. 

As for me?  Let me find peace with my decision to do cardio only 3 days a week for 30 minutes because it’s just as important to me that I paint.  Allow me to forgive myself for not focusing more on my career because if I did, then this blog would have never existed.  And right now it makes more sense to use my extra cash for Yoga classes instead of saving it for that trip to Wherever-Land because right now this is what I need.

It’s not easy, learning to be enough; but I think being enough is really an all right place to be.

 

What do you think about this?  Do you ever feel like you should be doing more or compare yourself to others?  

Holiday Decisions, Upcoming Challenge and apparently, I Am On Fire!

Three things on the Monday Agenda today.

First, my husband and I sat down to read all of your responses to my holiday dilemma post on Friday.  I know I’ve mentioned this before but it never hurts to remind you that this blogger feels so deeply lucky to have the readers she does.  Many good ideas were given along with loads of support and encouragement.  What more could I ask for? 

The one thing I’ve realized from your comments is this:  I have been giving these holidays too much power over me.  It took me all this time and my last post to realize that my anxiety and depression stemmed from the fact that I was relying on others to give me something that deep down I knew I’d never receive: expectations of having a normal, happy holiday season.   Now I see that it’s up to me to carry out that desire, and it doesn’t have to mirror the slightest resemblance of a Martha Stewart Season.  It can be whatever my husband and I want it to be.  We’re currently throwing around some ideas and are also preparing ourselves for consequences; I’ve come to find that some people react negatively when others around them don’t act the way they’re expected to.  In other words, we may not be the most popular kids on the block this year. That will be a challenge, but I already know that no matter what we do, we won’t please everyone, and after trying and failing to do just that all these years I think it’s time to start aiming at making ourselves happy.

Thanks everyone.  Big hugs to each of you.

 

 

Next on the agenda:  you may have noticed a new grab badge on my sidebar.  If not, direct your eye off to the right for a moment or take a gander below:

Hate-Loss Challenge 2012

For those of you who were with me at the beginning of the year, you already know about my Hate-Loss Challenge back in January.  It began as a counterbalance to the Weight-Loss Challenges that many bloggers like to host after the New Year rings in.  Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately and re-reading the entries from the participants.  After it was over I received numerous emails from people who’d missed it, asking if I was going to bring it back at some point during the year.  It brought me such pride and joy to see so many people embrace that challenge that I decided to host it again this coming January.  Yes, I know I’m a little early, but I’m hoping my badge gives off a ‘Can’t Wait!’ vibe…doesn’t it kind of trick you into believing that something HUGE is coming??  Oh, and in case you’re wondering why the peacock? Ever heard the saying, ‘proud as a peacock?’ Well, this challenge is all about taking pride in ourselves, so it just made sense to me. 

If you would like to know more about the significance of this challenge and why it’s different than any one you’ve ever considered, just click on the Peacock badge off to the right and it will take you to the information page.  Scroll down to the title Hate-Loss Challenge.  If you decide that you’d like to participate, you can grab my badge on the sidebar and help me spread the word.  The code appears below the badge.

 

 

…lastly on today’s agenda is my email from Teresa at Good Day to Diet who honored me with the Blog On Fire Award:

 

 

It always makes me smile when a blogger peer honors me with an award, and for Teresa to think of me with this particular award is very kind.  She’s such a beautiful person inside and out and is such an important part of this community so I’m doubly thankful.  I will address this award and pass it along very soon!

I’m off to visit with a friend of mine this morning, then on to work.  I hope you all have a great Monday.

 

XO,

~Ellen

Catching-Up

Maybe you’ve noticed that my last few posts have been sprinkled with a bit of self-awareness.  I’m not sure where this clarity came from; well, maybe I do. 

Just maybe, gaining control of this anxiety-thing has quieted my mind enough to allow me the pleasure of experiencing peace and quiet for the first time in over a year.  I’m not at 100% by any stretch of the imagination, but hopefully these last few posts are allowing you to get a sense of the changes that are taking place within me. 

 

If you happened to be up reading blogs at 4:30 on Monday morning, you may have noticed that my blog theme had been stripped bare – as in, barely working.  It took me hours to rebuild it and is still a bit wonky, but it’s slowly getting back to where it should be.  The scary thing is, I have no idea what happened so I have no way of knowing how to prevent it from happening again.  Sigh.  There is  only thing missing: all of my lovely and meaningful blog awards.  They vanished during the meltdown.  I feel like the winner of Miss Blogosphere  whose been stripped of her crown!  Hopefully, I’ll be able to retrieve the awards, as well as the details of who gave them to me and when, but for now I just have to remind myself that Vanessa Williams made quite the comeback, and so shall I!  LOL

 

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I haven’t yet gone on my first bike ride.  My husband has been working around the clock on mandatory overtime since Kayaking-Saturday almost two weeks ago.   The heat index here in the Midwest has been truly unbearable anyway.  A trip across the parking lot from my car to the grocery store has been intolerable, so learning how to ride a bike with a heat index of 110 degrees isn’t currently on my list of high demands.  I haven’t even walked the dogs; it’s just too hot.  Of course, they don’t understand that.  They just think I’m being lazy. 

 

So, what does a girl do when she’s too unmotivated to move?  Netflix to the rescue!  I had a movie arrive that I didn’t remember putting on my queue called ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’.  Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover movies) was excellent.  I really enjoyed this movie.  It was funny, endearing, and I related to the storyline (for those of you who have seen it – no, not because it was set in a mental ward.)  LOL   I recommend it highly, especially if you like Focus Feature films.

 

  Watch the Trailer

Speaking of my kayaking-Saturday, within that post I’d mentioned I had committed to three new experiences.  I shared two of them with you: the first was obviously kayaking; second was learning to ride a bike.  But I never told you what the third one was. 

After we returned from paddling around at the park, we stopped at a garden center that I’d always wanted to visit.  It’s the kind of store that beckons you to come inside, with it’s row of colorful outdoor chairs sitting at attention just outside.

 

This store had the most unique outdoor accessories I’d ever seen, and the owners were super nice to talk to (again, reinforcing my talking to strangers behavior).  While walking around, I noticed near the front window were rows upon rows of fairy gardens.  I’d never seen a fairy garden before. Think small. There were different outdoor containers filled with potting soil and live plants including moss, hen and chicks, bonsai trees.  The fun part was looking at all of the tiny accessories decorating these miniature gardens: a watering can slightly bigger than a thimble, a gazebo no higher than 5 inches, and fairy houses that fit in the palm of your hand. Above them was a sign that read, ‘Ask About our Fairy Garden Classes!’ I did just that.  I signed up for one, too!  Again, this was totally something that I would never before have considered doing on my own.  Technically, I could use this experience as one of my comfort zone challenges, but truthfully, I don’t consider it a challenge at all.  I’m really looking forward to it!  Progress, baby!  Progress! 

Class is on Friday morning.  Pictures to come.  In the meantime, if you go here you can see a very elaborate fairy garden design.  Do NOT expect mine to look anything like this.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone – and as always, thank you for all of your comments the last few days.  I haven’t been able to reply to each of you because of my blog fiasco but wanted you to know how much your comments mean to me. 

 

XOXO,

 

Ellen

Final Farewell to Hate-Loss Challenge, 2011

Today is the final day of the Hate-Loss Challenge, 2011. As of tomorrow, you can retire the badge you’ve been displaying on your blog for the last month.

I have read every single post, every comment, every word of support that you all have contributed and it’s left me with so much heartfelt emotion, I was unable to put it into words for a post; so, I’m presenting a vlog instead (please don’t let the super-excited psycho look on my face shy you away from watching. I promise, I haven’t gone off the deep end!  ;)

 

Final thoughts on the Hate-Loss Challenge, 2011

If you are having trouble viewing this video, click ‘pause’ and let the video load for a bit before pressing the play button.

Thanks to each and every one of you for making this Challenge the supportive, encouraging, successful event that it was.

Hate-Loss Challenge: Group Therapy Day

Welcome to Week Four of the Hate-Loss Challenge

I’ve been working on this Challenge for 27 days.  It has not been easy for me; we all know that in order to make a change we have to do the work, whether it’s physical change we’re seeking or emotional.  Change is not always easy, but things that are truly worthwhile never are. 

I’ve had to dig up and uncover emotions and memories I long ago buried but never really dealt with.  I was 30 years old when my husband left me for his department secretary. In an instant I lost my best friend of 13 years, my house, and my sense of security. I was devastated and literally didn’t care about living; the fear of going it alone was too overwhelming. I was over 200 pounds, had no friends, and hated my very existence. The thought of starting over terrified me and my self esteem was crushed beyond recognition.   I pushed through.  I left behind some unresolved emotions, but I pushed through.

2010 – another milestone year and I turned 40. Like a series of enormous waves I found myself being challenged once again.  In the span of five short months my husband and I buried his mother, I almost lost my own mother in a tragic accident, lost my job, and cradled my dog as she was put to sleep. The circumstances were different than when I was younger, but the emotional stress and grief I was experiencing triggered something inside and that well of emotion came flooding back.  I was becoming aware that life was handing me an opportunity.  I could ignore it or embrace it. I chose to embrace it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, If not now, when? I kept hearing that voice over and over again in my head and I started paying more attention to it.

Sometimes it takes a concrete moment or a gut-wrenching blow to change our perspective on life. Tragedies overwhelm and wreck havoc but still, we push through. However, I wasn’t just going to push through life this time. I was going to change it. I can honestly say that I’ve done a lot of healing, mainly because I knew it was time to deal with the past.

That was my reason for starting this Challenge, and this is what I’ve learned so far:

Repetition.  Eventually, if you hear something enough times you will believe it.  I’ve been speaking positive words to myself for almost 30 days now. Some days are easier than others, but the one thing I’ve noticed?  I’ve developed the habit I’ve been longing for all these years: I can say words like strong, gracious, even attractive and not feel like a total fake.  I’ve realized that saying positive things on the days when I don’t necessarily believe them are the days when I need to hear them most of all; repeating them to myself on bad days makes them even more believable on the good days.

Pride and Compliments.  When thinking of a word to describe this Challenge I decided on the word Pride which is used on the Challenge Badge that some of you have on your sidebar.  I didn’t realize how important this word would be, but for me it has been crucial in this exercise.  Taking pride in what I’m doing makes compliments so much easier to accept.  Accepting compliments makes it easier to feel better about who I am and what I’m capable of.  I now understand the phrase, people will only take what’s yours if you let them.  It’s taken me over a decade to realize the truth in that sentence and I intend to protect things like pride, dignity and self-worth with a fierceness from now on.  I am and always will be a work in progress but at least now I see that I’m worth working on.

To each of you, have a good session today.  Make this last week count.  You are worth it.