Month: June 2010

Finding the Place of Thinner Peace

Finding the Place of Thinner Peace

I suspect most post-menopausal women confront body image issues regardless of whether we’re thin or fat or somewhere in between. In spite of our best efforts, the hormonal changes that take place during and after menopause change the way our body works and ultimately looks. Our skin is no longer supple and everything loses its shape. Hence, baggy arm flesh, saggy boobs, weight around the middle, and the rest. We’ve lost all control over that stuff and we don’t like it one bit. Most of us spend a lot of time and energy fighting it and trying to change fate.

The fact remains, we will never be young again, at least in this life! But, we do have a choice. We can resist and struggle to change the things we cannot change and be miserable or embrace who and what we are and make peace with the aging process. Even when we can’t change a thing in life, we can change our thinking about the thing.

In the book The Four Day Win, Martha Beck describes the different thought processes that we have when we are trying to lose weight (or change anything about ourselves). Our self talk consists of  a “dictator”, which is the voice in our heads that tells us what we should do and yells at us when we don’t do it. We have the “wild child” that is rebellious and just wants to feel good and have fun. The dictator brings the wild child out in most of us sooner or later. When we’re dieting and trying to lose weight we oscillate between the two. Our dictator beats us into submission for a while and then our wild child gets fed up and leads us on a romp of carefree indulgence. When we’re finished romping, we come home to a dictator that scolds us. Hence the yo- yo diet plan!

There is another option. We can mentally step away from these two voices.  Each voice is trying its best to help us with our problem. Each cares, in its own way about our health and happiness. Beck suggests offering these parts of ourselves our appreciation and love giving each a blessing such as:  “May you be well, may you be happy, may you be free from suffering.”

This voice, the one that speaks to the dictator and to the wild child is the place of thinner peace. Martha Beck calls it the “Watcher” . It is the voice that will effectively lead us along our path toward health and happiness, not only in our attempts to lose weight but in  learning to accept the wise and wonderful women that we are.

FOR MORE ON WEIGHT LOSS AND DIETING SEE: “Why Are You So Damn Fat?”

"Why are You so Damn Fat!?"

"Why are You so Damn Fat!?"

I don’t know about you, but I have been asked this question at least a dozen times a day since the time I was about eleven. I have been belittled, criticized, mocked, scolded and generally abused. That’s a whole lot of abuse!

I didn’t realize, on a conscious level, that it was even happening until I picked up Martha Beck’s book The Four Day Win on the recommendation of a friend who has lost 100 lbs. Those of you who know me know I’m a huge fan of Martha Beck primarily because she’s blunt, honest, extremely intelligent, well-educated and basically knows what the hell she’s talking about.

I slipped on my headphones and switched on my iPod to find my way to a thinner me and the first words out of her mouth were, “Why are you so damn fat!?”  Her point was not to belittle me, after all it’s rare that in real life anyone would say such an unkind thing to another human being (except perhaps our parents or siblings!). Her point was that we say exactly those kinds of things to ourselves, over and over and over, day in and day out, year in and year out, not only about our appearance but behavior and choices as well. We are not our own best friend ~ in fact, we’re probably worse than our worst enemy! Why wouldn’t we soothe our wounded selves with a half gal of ice cream! (Incidentally, did you know ice cream doesn’t even come in half gallons anymore! That was not nice of the manufactures at all! ~ Yes, I am an addict. <— See? I just did it!)

What we tell ourselves day in and day out, in our constant stream of mental gibber jabber, is far too often not only not nice, but not one bit helpful!  Martha doesn’t mince words. In The Four Day Win she also comes right out and says what most of us think, “really people, who doesn’t know the basics of weight loss? Eat less. Move more. That’s all there is to it!” It’s not about the “perfect diet” or the “right exercise routine”, although they can be very helpful tools, it’s about the way we think and what we tell ourselves consciously and unconsciously.

It’s time to figure out what is going on inside our heads and in this book Beck promises to help us do it. I’m ready to see if she’s right! Care to join me?

The Four Day Win is also available on CD and downloadable MP3 for your iPod. (I really like this website and their prices are good – Learn Out Loud.)

Break out the Lipstick Ladies!

Break out the Lipstick Ladies!

I, for one, will wear lipstick until the day I die – and my kids better paint me up before I have visitors in the old folks home. After all, I am a woman — first and foremost — and believe you me when I’m not wearing the shiny stuff that differentiates me from men, you’ll know I’m feeling poorly — about life mostly. Makeup is a rite of passage for females, as is having our hair done. My hair, makeup and the way I dress are always a reflection of how I feel about myself — and I dare say that’s true of the rest of you lovely ladies. I have pretended otherwise as well.

I strode through the 60’s in bell bottom jeans, combat boots, T-shirts, frizzy long hair, tinted glasses, and no makeup. Somehow I even managed to snag a boyfriend along the way, but I was a whole lot younger then and most 20 somethings only look for what’s under the clothes anyway. BUT, once I survived those tumultuous years, I realized that telling myself that “appearances” weren’t important was just a myth I’d perpetuated because first, I was a part of a generation that loved rebellion (and still does I might add) and second, I wasn’t so sure I liked being a girl — a sexual object, a second class citizen and all that went with it.

One day I looked in the mirror and didn’t like the way I looked. I wouldn’t have dated me. I wouldn’t have walked right by me. I was a eunuch — I’d given away one of the best gifts we women have — the right and privilege of looking female and enjoying it. Why shouldn’t we play up our best features! Men just get to grow old naturally and are stuck with whatever defects produce themselves. Women get to cover their age spots, reduce their wrinkles, cover their gray and feel young and vibrant a whole lot longer. What a gift! I have no intention of ever being gray and I will fight my wrinkles and cover my age spots just as long as I can. Why not? It makes me feel better about myself. In the process I will embrace each new wrinkle with the pride of a mother ~ I have earned them! and I am a far better person because of it!

Let me tell you a story. My mother had a wonderful friend, who became a life saver for her while living in the retirement community. Her name was Katie…she was 92 at the time.  When I knew her, her husband had only recently died and she was in the throes of bone cancer. She was in  pain much of the time and the chemo has created sores in her mouth that made it difficult for her to eat and impossible to wear her dentures. In spite of all of that physical and emotional discomfort, there was rarely a day when she did not appear, even just long enough to visit my mother and pick up her mail, driving  her little scooter, dressed to the 9’s with makeup and lipstick – despite not having any teeth. She felt a whole lot better about life than if she had schlepped up and down the halls attired the way she really felt. Trust me, many people did and do! The people who encounter Kati felt better about life as well.

I used to think we should be honest and live without pretense — and while that is still an important concept in many respects, we run the risk of being so honest as to make ourselves feel worse — not to mention those around us.

The bottom line is this ladies…look in mirror…it’s safe…you are beautiful. After all you are a woman, and all women have an inner beauty that when released reflects itself in outer beauty…it’s just the way God made us…put on a little makeup (I’m not suggesting a Dolly Parton look); call up the hair dresser and add a little color back into your hair. Do you feel better about life? I bet you will. And oh, don’t forget to smile at yourself and say “I look fantastic! and I feel fantastic!”

I’m just saying! It works for me!

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem (and Happiness!)

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem (and Happiness!)

It is possible to feel good about ourselves as we age, we just have to understand what self esteem really is and what steps to take to enhance it in ourselves (and others).

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the importance of self-esteem. And yet, the general understanding of the meaning of self-esteem in the public arena is slippery at best. The National Association of Self Esteem, (Yes! There is such an organization!), defines it as “The experience of being capable of meeting life’s challenges and being worthy of happiness.” If you are a person with a healthy level of self-esteem, you will deal with the problems you encounter in a productive fashion, believing that you are a good and decent person who is entitled to good things.

People often confuse egocentricity with self-esteem and assume the terms are one and  the same.    READ MORE