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Category Archives: Donna

Swimsuits & Shifting Focus

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I pay too much attention to wanting to be thinner and feeling sad I can’t drop any weight. I should be thankful I can move it and do some cool activities!!”

This is a quote from a friend who hikes, does triathlons, skis, and has a blast playing actively with her kids. Yet, she was feeling sad that the number on the scale wasn’t going down and that she wasn’t thinner. I think most women share her frustration. I know I do. Our bodies do amazing things, yet we’re unsatisfied with them because they aren’t smaller. Because they jiggle. Because they have stretch marks, lumps, rolls, or loose skin. Because they don’t look like they used to. Because they don’t look like that actress or that other mom who always looks cute. I hear this from women over and over, of all different ages and levels of fitness. I’m sure men have the same struggles.

So, how do we shift our focus? First, strive to appreciate what our bodies can do. By re-training ourselves to focus on body functionality, we can regain a more balanced perspective toward our bodies. Even if you can’t go up the stairs without getting winded or have to use a wheelchair, your body still does amazing things. Your smile lightens the hearts of those around you; your arms give comforting hugs. When we make an intentional effort to appreciate what our body can do, the aesthetics matter less. Also, continue to challenge yourself to see what your body can do, which will grow your self-confidence AND body confidence.

Re-frame your thoughts. When you shimmy into that swimsuit to play with your kids, think, “We’re going to have so much fun today!”, instead of, “Ugh, my huge thighs are so ugly!!”. This is a struggle for me every time I put on my swimsuit, but I’m always glad that I chose to join in the fun, instead of letting my negative thoughts and self-consciousness get in the way. It’s hard to choose to have a positive frame of mind, but it makes a huge difference. When you notice that “mama belly” that just won’t go away, think, “WOW, what a gift that I got to carry in there.” Also, recognize that some things are simply genetic, natural, or unavoidable with age. Saggy skin, stretch marks, cellulite, some lumps… These are just part of life; while they may be somewhat improved by various things, acceptance is key. You don’t have to be perfectly happy with every aspect of your body. However, you can still be respectful and appreciative of your body, grateful for the amazing gift that it is, no matter how it changes as you age and/or deal with health struggles.

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Remember that people you see on TV, in ads, and on social media are generally airbrushed, filtered, photoshopped, covered in make-up, and posed in the best lighting and angles. Many of those folks have teams of people that get them ready, exercise for hours a day, have personal chefs to provide healthy meals, and/or are just genetically blessed with flawless skin and a certain body type. 

Consider taking a break from the scale. If you just can’t stop thinking about that number, stop weighing yourself for a while. Focus on how you feel (physically and mentally), striving to take good care of your mental and physical health, and appreciating what your body does for you every day.

That reminds me… Another thing you can do to help shift your focus is to take good care of your body with regular movement, eat mostly healthy food, tend to medical and mental health issues, get adequate sleep, and don’t forget to use it for FUN. Maybe you can’t burn up the dance floor like you used to, but your dancing days don’t have to be over, even if you have to groove while seated on a chair.

Finally, choose your influences carefully. If the media you consume or the people you hang out with tank your body image, adjust accordingly. Redirect your friend when they start criticizing their body (or someone else’s). Limit your time with them if they are consistently spewing negativity. Stop reading that airbrushed “health” magazine. Surround yourself with people and influences that build others up and put you in a positive frame of mind.

Your body is amazing. How will you thank it? What will you do to shift your focus?

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Gala & Granny Smith

*This post contains affiliate links.  That means if you click on my link and buy something, I will earn a small commission from the advertiser at no additional cost to you.  Affiliate links are what cover the expense of running this blog.

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A promotion at work. A new car. Weight loss. Muscle gain. Walking 3+ miles a day. Paying off debt. New baby. Big engagement ring. Vacations. Smiling photos of friends hanging out. When we see people doing well, self-reflection is inevitable… Sometimes, it’s even uncomfortable or painful. We see where we could be making changes or putting forth more effort, and we feel a whirlwind of negative reactions. Envy, resentment, depression, resignation, frustration, anger, defensiveness….

So, what can we do to get off this train of negative thoughts? It’s not easy, but we can teach ourselves to celebrate and be inspired by the success of others.

 

First, do your best to avoid most comparison-making so that you can avoid envy and the cascade of negativity that follows. You might think you’re comparing “apples to apples”, but it’s not that simple. Even comparing a Gala apple to a Granny Smith isn’t fair; they’re both delicious but are simply different. Viewing yourself or what you have as “less than” will always leave you feeling unsatisfied. You don’t know what it took for them to achieve that goal, make those friends, get that new RV, or go on that vacation. Perhaps it was to their detriment. Maybe it’s something that simply isn’t possible for you right now or ever. It may have even required a sacrifice that’s just not in line with what you desire for your life. You just don’t know the whole story. Why dive into negativity when you don’t even have all the facts?

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Notice that I said to avoid most comparing. Don’t avoid it altogether. Even if you don’t know their whole story, you can use their success as a mirror and learning tool. Your frame of mind as you compare will make a huge difference. Keep these things in mind when you compare….

  • What do I admire/envy about them and their success?
  • Why do I admire/envy these things?
  • Are these things that I can and want to develop in myself? Is it reasonable, attainable, and healthy for me? If the goal they attained is one that I want to reach, can I adjust it to fit my life and limitations?
  • What can I learn from my admiration/envy? Are there areas in my life where I want to improve or expand?

Learning… That’s the next step. If what that person achieved is something you want to pursue for yourself, dive into learning what it took to get there. You don’t necessarily have to talk to them about it, but if you’re able to broach the subject, approach them with humility and a spirit of affirmation. The Internet, the library, and experts in that area are also good resources. On your journey of learning more, you may even find out that the goal really isn’t what you want for yourself. Once you’re armed with knowledge, you’ll know how to proceed.

Speaking of knowledge, just beyond that is wisdom, and here’s one of the wisest things you can do. Surround yourself with positive, successful people. Having your social media feeds and in-person social circle filled with people that strive for growth, success, kindness, and contentment will help put you in a good frame of mind. You are a reflection of those that you associate with the most.

So, next time you feel that envious irritation creeping up, kick the green-eyed monster to the curb. There’s no such thing as “apples to apples” because people and life situations are so different. Use their success as a learning opportunity, a time for self-reflection, and an inspiration to commit to whatever growth and goals are healthy and appropriate for your life. Celebrate with those successful folks, and get ready to celebrate your own progress and success!

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Motivation

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“You’re so motivated!”

“I wish I was as motivated as you.”

I get these comments sometimes, and here’s the truth. I’m actually pretty unmotivated most of the time. Motivation can fade. Motivation is a feeling, and there’s going to be many times where you’re “just not feelin’ it”. You’ve heard people say, “I was going to [insert goal/task], but I ran out of motivation…” Motivation might get you started, but things like habit, commitment, dedication, determination, and discipline must take the place of motivation to keep you going. Even those don’t guarantee perfection and 100% success. We’re human. Life happens. We get tired. We get distracted. We’re in a rut. We get out of the groove. We might even get totally derailed. If you struggle with mental health like I do, battling your own brain will often get in the way; you only have a limited amount of mental energy. I often don’t have enough dedication to go around (and motivation = long gone), so I must prioritize and set aside or scale back on some goals for a while.

There are two kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is an inner desire—self-motivation. Extrinsic motivation comes from an external pressure or expectation of some sort of external affirmation or reward. Whether you’re doing it for yourself or for some reason outside of yourself, identifying the source of your motivation can be helpful, especially if we feel motivated for negative reasons.

Ensuring that our motivation comes from a positive source can be important to long-term success. Negative motivation can fizzle fast and lead to a bitter mindset. Maybe you feel motivated to exercise because someone called you a lazy slob. This extrinsic motivation is negative. However, you can re-frame that negative situation and change your perspective, deciding to commit to bettering your health for your own reasons, so your motivation is now intrinsic and positive. If you decide to pursue exercise because you hate how your body looks, this is intrinsic but negative. Not all external motivation is negative, and not all intrinsic motivation is positive. 

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By the way, sometimes your motivation will be both intrinsic and extrinsic and/or a mixture of positive and negative. Earlier this year, I went to Colorado for a corporate retreat; one of my colleagues and her husband are professional disc golfers. A few of us went with them to a course to play, and my motivation to not give up, even though I was pretty terrible at the game, was internal and external. I’d like to say it was all positive, but there was definitely some negative pride at play! Ha! I was so motivated that I became determined to have fun and finish out the course as best as I could. I spent a lot of time climbing through and over prickly bushes, even multiple times on the same hole, trying to make my shot from the middle of the brush! The company CEO even had to fetch my disc a few times when I chucked it beyond my reach in the vegetation! My motivation for playing disc golf began way before the game started, too, as I was self-conscious about playing since I knew I wouldn’t be good at it. However, I was motivated (and committed) to get out of my comfort zone and make the most out of the retreat. I almost didn’t even go to that retreat due to self-doubt and anxiety. Motivation and determination got me there, and it was a wonderful experience.

Lastly, identifying the WHY behind your motivation—whether internal or external—is also key in turning that feeling of motivation into something with more staying power. It might take you awhile to dig into the root of it, but figure out why you want to accomplish that goal or desire. Sometimes it’ll be simple, but a complicated reason may take you by surprise and lead to important self-reflection. Write it down, and put it where you can see it regularly. Being reminded of your “why” will help you stay on track when motivation fades and commitment is wavering.

You know what else can be a vital part of your success? Surrounding yourself with influences that model encouragement and dedication! Whether it’s loved ones that you spend time with, people you follow on social media, or books you read, fill your world with positivity.

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Motivation isn’t bad. We need that jump-start. But, like after you jump your car’s battery, you have to depend on something else for sustained power besides what gave you that initial jolt.

So, when you feel motivated to take on a big task or set a goal, determine the source of your motivation and that it’s rooted in positivity. Note your “why”. Fill your world with positive influences. Choose daily to be committed. (Sometimes, you’ll need to make that choice several times a day!) Create habits that’ll get you closer to your goal. What word resonates with you—commitment, dedication, discipline, or another one? With that powerful word, keep reminding yourself. I am committed. I am dedicated. I am disciplined. I vow to do this. I will persist. Lastly, don’t expect perfection. Learn from mistakes. Keep showing up. Don’t compare yourself with others. Appreciate your little victories and measures of progress, no matter how small or slow. Keep trying. Always keep fighting. You’ve got this.

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For 12 years fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, and psoriasis ruled Cynthia’s life.  Since then she has taken back control over her body and life and is winning the battle.  Find out how she did and be challenged to begin winning your battle too! Click here to download your copy today for only $5!

 

Spring Cleaning Doesn’t Have to be Painful

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Spring cleaning! 

This month is often when people start thinking about doing some deep-cleaning and a purging of household junk, but when you have a chronic illness, this can be a daunting thought. Spring cleaning can be a PAIN, literally and otherwise!

Here are some tips to make it go smoother

Make a list. If cleaning negatively impacts you physically, organize your list of cleaning tasks by impact and strategize ways to make the harder tasks easier, like doing it sitting down. (Pass some of these tasks off to someone else if possible!) Don’t try to do several “high impact” tasks in one day. A great “low impact” cleaning task is your cell phone! Clear out unwanted data, like caches and browser history. Delete apps you never use. Backup your photos. Wipe it down with a rag dampened with a sanitizing cleaner. (You don’t even want to know how germy your phone gets…. Wipe it down regularly!)

 

 

Use your wait time to get other things done. If you have that shower head soaking in a bag of hot vinegar, tackle another task while you’re waiting! (Napping is an option!)

Ask your loved ones for help in a kind manner, giving clear expectations and instructions. You know exactly what you mean when you say, “Can you help tidy up the living room soon?” However, that’s often too vague for kids or even an adult! Ask them to do a specific task, and make sure to mention when you’d like it done. Even little kids can help with many tasks! Give them short, clear instructions with a visual demonstration. Some parents find it helpful to take a picture of what a clean room, tidy toy bins, or a made-up bed should look like when the task is done.

Don’t micromanage after you ask. If it’s something they’ve never done, kindly show or explain how to do it, then let it go. It doesn’t have to be perfect or done exactly how you’d do it.

Make sure things are accessible and that your family knows where things are and how to use them. Having recycling bins right where you go through the mail will cut down on the piles of paper on your desk. If your family knows where to find the cleaning supplies and how to use them, they’re more likely to use them on their own and can grab them faster when you need them to fetch something for you. If you have a large or two-story home, keep basic supplies in more than one spot so they’re close at hand and don’t have to be lugged clear across the house.

Slow progress is still progress. I once tried to do one of those “40 bags in 40 days” cleaning challenges. Guess how many bags I did? ZERO. Even the thought of having to deal with a bag’s worth of junk each day was too overwhelming, so I never started. A smaller goal would have been smarter. (Snack-sized plastic bag? Haha!! Okay, maybe a bit more challenging than that…) Not everything has to be a huge task. Small steps will make a huge difference. Throw a few papers away each day. Instead of tackling the whole kitchen, just do one countertop or one cabinet. Attacking small tasks will be less overwhelming, and you and your family can celebrate these little victories that add up to a huge impact on your surroundings.

Make it a fun family affair! Crank up the music, and get some special refreshments to enjoy during or after! Who knows…. Tidying up the kitchen together every night while you rock out to 80’s music might end up as one of your family’s fondest memories! Cleaning up the backyard together? Plan a special outdoor meal for a few days later to celebrate and enjoy your hard work.

Do you want to get your family into a new cleaning routine so you can stay ahead of the mess better going forward? When you’re up to it, make a checklist of tasks that need to happen every day, every week, every month, and so on. Get your family’s input on who’ll do which tasks, how you’ll rotate, and which ones can be a team effort, and then create a checklist you can all consult regularly. As you implement this new routine, be patient! It takes time to get it going smoothly. Plastic page protectors or a cheap, all-plastic picture frame is a great way to use your checklist. Use a dry erase marker to keep track!

 

 

Don’t forget to express pride and gratitude, even to yourself! Thank your family for their hard work, and tell them how much you appreciate them contributing to the household. Give yourself a little pat on the back for your efforts, too. With some of the household upkeep load delegated, carve out some time for self-care!

Do you have any spring cleaning tips to share? Which one of those above do you want to try?

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Love is Stupid

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I don’t deserve love, anyhow. Things are going too good, so I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. People always leave me. It never works out anyhow. My ideas are stupid. I’m a failure. I can’t trust anyone. It’s not worth it. I’m not worth it. I’ll just fail again. They’ll stop loving me. I can’t live without them. They wouldn’t like me if they really knew me. I’ll just look like a loser if I try that. I’ll get laughed at if I speak up. There must be something wrong with me. Love is stupid.

These, along with many others, are the lies we tell ourselves, engraved on the bricks we use to build walls to protect us. Some of us don’t stop at building a wall and build a damn fine castle. It’s a lonely castle, though, and that dragon in the tower—a fiery, roaring beast made of our fears, insecurities, pain—keeps us imprisoned.

We also build walls with what we do (and don’t do). Skipping that event because you know you’ll just make an idiot of yourself. Brick. Staying silent instead of standing up for yourself or sharing your thoughts. Brick. Not going on that second date, even though the first date was lovely. Brick. Letting yourself drift away from loved ones because you fear rejection if you’re honest and vulnerable. Brick.

Walls have their place. We all need healthy boundaries and self-preservation. This goes beyond that. Barbed wire on that wall, crocodile moats, wearing full armor, and thinking about just jumping off that castle tower….. Those walls protecting us from pain and sadness also keep out love and joy. Our safety measures become our prison. When no one can reach us anymore, and they stop trying because we aren’t opening ourselves up, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Alone, unconnected… Well, I must be unloveable.

I’m an expert. I’ve been building emotional walls my whole life. My castle would impress medieval royalty. Several people that I let into my fortress because I thought I could trust them proved that my walls were needed. Brick, brick, brick! Many times, I start to take my walls down and then hastily rebuild, 2 bricks higher.

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

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I’m tired. I’m tired of building. I’m tired of hiding. Are you? These bricks I’m carrying on my back, ready to shore up my wall, are breaking me. I want to be courageous. How do we stop building? I’m still trying to figure that out, but maybe we can start small. Share a bit of yourself that you’ve been walling off…. Ideally, with someone who seems to have proven themselves safe or someone you don’t have much of an emotional investment in. A stranger, a therapist, or your dog. You’re probably chuckling, but I’m serious! Sometimes you just need to practice speaking your heart and mind out loud to help you get the courage to be yourself with a person you care about, and a furry pal is a good listener. Sharing parts of yourself in written form at first can also be less scary than out loud. (Don’t try that with your dog, though. Ha!) Some of you might not want to start small and would do better by taking a wrecking ball to your walls. You’ll know what might work best for your personality. It’ll likely be a long, difficult process that’ll look different for everyone. You might need some professional help; trained therapists are excellent at teaching dragon-taming and path-building. They can help you rebuild those walls as healthy boundaries.

So, that epic wall you built around your heart… That towering castle you’re hiding in… It’s going to be really, really hard, but take a brick out. Start using those bricks to pave a path to connect you with someone. Build a door in your wall. Add some windows to let some light in. Chip away at those lies you’ve been telling yourself.

Sure, we can fend off the what-ifs by not taking any risks, but then we fend off any chance of magic, too. We also possibly invite the worst what-if of all: What if I reach the end of my life wishing I had been less fearful, had taken more chances, and had really lived?”

–Scott Stabile, BIG LOVE: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart

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People are never going to be perfect. Getting hurt at least a little is inevitable when you allow yourself to love, be loved, and be connected with people. It’s worth the risk. You deserve love—to give it and receive it. You deserve to share yourself with others and connect. I want to really live. I want the magic. Do you?

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Winter Wellness Woes

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Well, good ol’ Punxsutawney Phil has spoken! Whether the groundhog is right about winter or not, most of the country has at least a little bit of wintry weather ahead. When you’re stuck inside, it can be harder to get the movement that your body needs.

Here’s a link round-up of some great ways to get moving indoors!

 

6 Low-Impact Moves

Gentle Yoga Sequence

10-Minute Booty Workout

“Curvy” Yoga Poses for All Body Shapes/Sizes

Low-Impact Beginner Cardio Workout (Quiet & No Jumping!)

Stretch While You’re in Bed!

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Which link or move do you like the best? How do you stay active when the weather is crummy?

 

 

An Extra Fabulous New Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New year, new you? I bet you’re pretty fantastic just as you are, but we all have room for growth and improvement! Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I have some in mind that will make this year extra fabulous if you make them happen.

  1. Listen to your inner voice and your gut. Listen to learn and try to understand, rather than simply to reply, especially if you disagree with someone. This listening, learning, and understanding will foster healthy boundaries, growth, and stronger character and relationships.
  2. Spend more time in nature! Whether it’s going for a walk or sitting on your porch, it’s good for you! Even just remembering to open your windows/doors so you can hear the birds can add peace and joy to your day.
  3. Weed your mental garden. Give the negative forces in your life the boot. This could be negative people, your job, your negative mindset about yourself and your life, regrets, guilt, anger, letting reasons become excuses…. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and bring out the best in you. They’ll encourage you in your efforts to cultivate positivity! These can be hard changes to make, so don’t hesitate to seek the professional help of a therapist for support.
  4. Eat healthier. No, you don’t have to eat only organic or never eat a sweet treat again. (Nothing wrong with those goals, though, if they fit your needs!) Look at the bigger picture. Drink enough water. Eat “whole”, unprocessed foods made from scratch as much as possible. Limit sweets and junk food. Eat proper portions. Avoid preservatives, additives, and chemicals. Watch your sugar and salt intake. Pay attention to how your body and cognition reacts to certain foods and ingredients, and then see if you feel and think better when you eliminate the ones that you think might bother you. Talk to your doctor if you think you see a pattern.
  5. Move your body. Whether you’re able to do a heart-pounding workout or simply begin your day with stretches in bed, be intentional about moving your body every day. Playing with your kids, getting up to walk when you need to sit for long stretches, yoga, strenuous workouts, housework…. Anything that fits your needs and abilities that gets movement into your day will benefit your physical and mental health!
  6. Those last two are a huge part of my next suggestion: self-care. Take good care of your health–physical and mental. It’s so easy to put “me time” and self-care at the bottom of the pile when you’re trying to get through the daily grind. You are worth the effort and time. Set aside at least a few minutes every day to do something that recharges you and brings you joy and peace. This investment in yourself will reap lasting benefits not only for you but also everyone in your life.
  7. Laugh every day. The health benefits of laughter are many! Find something that you KNOW will get you chuckling so you have something to pull out on those glum days. For me, that’s funny goat videos on YouTube.
  8. Be kind. Give yourself and others grace, compassion, and kindness. Your kids when they’re driving you nuts, your spouse when they forget to do such-and-such yet again, that grouchy driver that flipped you off, or the negative Nellie online…. Create a ripple effect of kindness.
  9. Be uncomfortable. I’m not talking about sitting on the saggy part of your couch! Get out of your comfort zone. Consider another side of a topic that you’re passionate about. Truly learn about it; talk about it with those that hold opposing views, face-to-face if possible. Try something new, whether it’s a new food, attending an event, a hobby, taking a class, or a new way to improve your health.

 

 

 

Here’s another way to think about it. Instead of focusing on things to lose or remove from your life, think about what you want to add. More truth, kindness, growth, joy, respect, movement, sunshine, adventures, laughter, healthy choices of all sorts, positivity, contentment, learning….

What do you want to add to your life this year?

In this eBook Cynthia will help you examine your chronic life, recognize the areas that require change, and empower you to make them! Click here to download your copy today!

 

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