Losing Weight is Hard

Hey there! I hope you found last week’s journal exercise illuminating and that you were able to dive deep into your own past experiences losing weight (or at least trying to lose weight). If you missed the last post, you can check it out here and enjoy some quality, free-flow writing time to yourself. It’s all good– I can wait. :)

IMG_0314In today’s post, we’re going to tease out some common themes and beliefs around dieting, losing weight, and being healthy in general. These themes popped up in my own example, for sure, but don’t be surprised to see them applying to your own situation as well. (That’s why they’re called “themes” as opposed to “strangely specific elements that apply only to Dana Machacek”. Heh.)

Here’s the deal: what we believe about dieting, weight loss, and health all have a huge impact on our actual experiences. If I believe to the core of my being that a certain food is “good” for me, guess what? My body will most likely process that food with relative ease when I consume it. Likewise, if you’re convinced that you must diet in order to lose weight, and that dieting inevitably means a life sentence of deprivation and sacrifice in the name of smaller pants, well… that’s probably what you’ll experience, too.

Anyway. The reason why it’s so useful to write out your story is because that written account uncovers many of the thoughts and beliefs you hold about food, diets, losing weight, your body, and being healthy in general.  (And those beliefs, in turn, significantly shape your real-life experiences.) It might take some practice and some figurative archaeology to get at the juicy bits of your core beliefs, but once you expose some of the big ideas that you simply take for granted as “truth” or “the way things are”, you’ll find yourself in extremely fertile, deliciously transformative ground.

Yes, even as delicious as this!

Yes, as delicious as this!

The first theme I’m going to highlight here applies to any and all answers regarding “the last time I lost weight”, so if you took the time to journal your personal experience, heads up: this core belief applies to you.

Belief #1: I’m not okay the way I am now.

It’s not necessarily an explicit or overt belief, meaning that you might not see those very words glaring out at you from the pages of your journal. However, the very act of going on a diet, trying to exercise more, deciding to count your calories, or vowing to cut out “bad” foods from your eating plan suggests that something needs to change in order for you to feel good about yourself. This also (obviously) implies a lack of self-acceptance or self-love for the way you are right now.

Deep breath. This feeling is natural. (Disheartening, yes, but totally natural.)

The theme of “I’m not okay” is an insidious one, because it’s often disguised under the glossy-haired, pearly white cloak of self-improvement, and what could possibly be wrong with wanting to be healthy or trying to manage diseases and health issues? Nothing! But if you withhold love, acceptance, and care from yourself until some indeterminate point in the future when you can finally prove to yourself that you’ve ‘earned it’– sweetheart, you’re setting yourself up for an ongoing war with yourself. And life is challenging enough without that cursed Self vs. Self battle.

Listen: it’s totally fine to want to make positive changes in your life, to learn, to grow, and to blossom into the most radiant, shimmering version of yourself. I want you to shine so brightly that you illuminate the entire galaxy with your glow! But it’s important to be kind and gentle with yourself from Step #1, too. Losing weight shouldn’t be punishment for your eternal shortcomings or a way to whip your pathetic ass into submission. (How well has that worked out so far?) Instead, think of yourself as a dazzling being already. You’re gorgeous, talented, warm, and magnetic right now, and you can only become more so with each loving step you take in the direction of health.

From now on, consider this your seat: XO, self. I love you already.

From now on, consider this your seat: XO, self. I love you already.

Belief #2: Losing weight is hard.

Chances are, your weight loss story featured some variation on the This is Hard! theme. Whether you’ve tried point systems, portion control, food combination rules, counting calories or grams, logging the number of steps you’ve taken, following lists of what’s allowed and what isn’t, skipping meals, breaking large meals into smaller and more frequent snacks, or eliminating entire food groups (carbohydrates, fats, fruits, etc.) from your diet before, you’ve likely bumped up against the belief that Being Healthy Ain’t Easy, Sister.

My personal experiences trying to lose weight definitely impressed upon me that an intricate, scientific, and exquisitely complicated system had to be followed in order to obtain my desired results. Significantly, this system was never something I invented on my own– it was always an external program that I selected and then applied to myself. Also, the idea that I could somehow deviate from the program was unheard of, unless I didn’t mind not losing any weight and therefore totally defeating the purpose of being on a diet in the first place. Ha.

Maybe your story highlighted one of these versions of the “Losing Weight is Hard” belief:

  • Dieting is complicated.
  • I need to do a whole lotta work in order to see even small changes in my weight.
  • There is no room for error when it comes to dieting.
  • I have to follow all the rules perfectly, all the time.
  • Losing weight is time consuming.
  • Dieting is expensive.
This basically sums up how hard it is-- dieting is like crawling your way out of your very own grave!

This basically sums up how hard it is– dieting is like crawling your way out of your very own grave!

Belief #3: My (in)ability to lose weight is directly tied to my value as a person.  

Here’s where it gets personal. This core belief is tied closely to the This is Hard! theme; however, rather than just dealing with the weight loss process itself, Belief #3 makes evaluations about ourselves based on how well we either adhere to a program or achieve results with that program… or both.

For example, we might feel frustrated with complicated and often contradictory lists of foods that are “good for us/allowed” and “bad for us/not allowed”. Belief #3 takes this a step further, judging us as good and worthy people when we eat the allowed foods but condemning us as bad and terrible people when we eat the foods that aren’t allowed.

Here are some other variations on Belief #3 that you might have noticed in your own answer:

  • There is a proven formula for losing weight, and if I can just try hard enough and follow that program correctly, I will see results.
  • If I’m not losing weight, I must be doing something wrong.
  • If I’m not losing weight, I must not be trying hard enough.
  • If I’m not losing weight, there must be something wrong with me.
  • I’m bad/stupid/lazy/wrong for eating ________________.
  • When the number on the scale goes down, I’m incredible and awesome!
  • When the number on the scale goes up, I’m a worthless, no-good, stupid-assed failure!

Keep ‘em coming now.

Revisit your story about the last time you lost weight, and try to uncover as many personal beliefs as you can about “what it takes” to lose weight or “the way things are” when it comes to your body, dieting, or being healthy. List them all out as though they were absolute facts or simple song titles:

Dieting is soooooo lame and superficial.

Feminists shouldn’t care about their weight or how they look.

Being overweight runs in my family: it’s genetic.

Being thin attracts unwanted attention.

Restaurants are off-limits when I’m on a diet.

Dieting spells disaster for my social life.

My body will be judged no matter what.

In the next post, we’re going to tackle what you can do with these core beliefs to either lessen their charge or to change and eliminate them completely. It’s usually not enough to just affirm the opposite of these beliefs to yourself. After all, you’re smart and extremely perceptive, and if– after years of believing that weight loss is hard– you suddenly start telling yourself, Losing weight is easy and natural for me!, your subconscious is going to call bullshit immediately. That’s okay– there are ways to work around that, and we’ll discuss some of those methods next week.

PS: Would you like some help distilling your themes and beliefs out of your personal story? If so, I’m happy to book a confidential session with you at no charge. All you need to do is e-mail me and we can set something up together. I’m excited to be working with several women already, but there’s always room for more. Thank you! :)

The Call: Part 3

There are two things you should know about heeding The Call of Your Calling:

1. It’s extremely liberating.

You (or, in this case, ‘Me’) can go from trying to cram the entire ocean into a delicate teacup, and the amount of sheer energy and willpower this frees up on a daily basis is incredible. Seriously, before I spoke with Dr. Divi, I felt like the Mother Loving Hoover Dam– holding everything together, resisting, keeping everything in its place, figuring things out, and making things work in a real stoic, concrete sort of manner. When she told me not to restrict the flow and to make every interaction an opportunity for healing, aahhhhhhhhh, I burst open in the most glorious and epic of ways! WHOOSH!! Out poured love, and energy, and my signature animated (read: awkward!) style of relating to other people. I entertained others with my stories and interpretive dance moves at the harbour! HEALING. I started coaching women outside of the harbour! HEALING. I looked like a maniac on my bike to and from work, declaring emphatically and most definitely out loud that I WAS A HEALER! (And guess what? That was healing, too! Well… it was healing for me and probably hilarious for witnesses.) Anyway. I treated the whole summer as an experiment in healing, and I emerged from the harbour season more exhilarated than exhausted for once.

IMG_0531

Watch in wonder as I insert photos of local humpback whales randomly throughout this post! Exhilarating!

That said, here’s the other thing you should know about heeding The Call of Your Calling:

2. It’s absolutely terrifying.

More terrifying than a humpback whale waving hello to you.

More terrifying than a humpback whale waving hello to you.

The Over-Achiever, Type A part of me likes to plan everything down to the last detail. Preferably in advance. I’ll figure out exactly what it takes to excel in a given situation, and then I’ll do it. Easy, right? Do I need to earn 6 credits in the History of Who Really Cares in order to graduate from this academic program? Consider it done. Should I eat nothing but cardboard and cabbage for 6 months in order to lose weight? That doesn’t sound so bad! Is it time to go play Perfect Daughter In Law at Marty’s parents’ place in Calgary? No problem– I’ll just prepare forty allergy-friendly recipes in advance and haul them in my backpack for 800 miles on the effin’ Greyhound bus. Whatever it takes– just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.

Tell me how to wave like a humpback whale, and I'll do it.

Tell me how to wave like a humpback whale, and I’ll do it.

It’s different when it’s Your Calling, though.

Nobody but YOU can step into Your Calling.

Nobody but YOU can gauge how easily you slip into that garment and how well it fits.

It’s not about “planning”; it’s about claiming.

It’s not about “controlling”; it’s about trusting.

The compass shifts inward. The metrics become intuitive. And in a way, this is really exciting! But in another way, perhaps for a woman who is used to somebody older and more authoritative telling her how to get an A and then being done with it all? Well. It can be downright petrifying.  

*   *   *   *

Just another day at the office...

Just another day at the office…

Ahem. I am being Called, dear readers. And– finally– I am bowing at the feet of this Call, accepting this sacred invitation. I say yes now.

I am opening myself to healing and being healed.

I am committing myself to honesty, vulnerability, unadulterated freedom, and unabashed joy!

Part of this Calling involves working one-on-one with women as a coach. (I have started to do this already and am pretty amazed at the feedback I’ve received so far.)

Another part involves exploring the self-imposed limitations I’ve placed on myself in real time– self-written rules for how much love, joy, abundance, and freedom are “allowed” in my life before it’s time to call in the authorities and to turn the volume down. This will take place… soon. And out in the ‘field’ of life, at that! All that’s left to do is:

- finish packing up everything we own– again

- move out of the place we just moved into– uh-huh (last day is October 31!)

- dive heart-first into the adventurous unknown

Yes. I have heard The Call, and I have answered. Hello, this is Dana speaking…

 

The Call: Part 2

If Over-Thinking Everything is anything like karate, I’m totally a black belt by now. I’ve literally spent years turning tentative answers into infinite questions, and every time I seem to settle on ‘a solution’ to the mystery of my life’s calling, hi-ya! I judo kick open the door to irksome follow-up questions, namely “How?”, “How?”, “How?”, and “How?”

If it isn't obvious, I'm approaching the camera with the stealth and cunning of a ninja, ready to side kick my intuition to the curb and be an Over-Thinking Wizard for eternity!

If it isn’t obvious from this photo, I’m approaching the camera with the stealth and cunning of a ninja, ready to side kick my intuition to the curb and be an Over-Thinking Wizard for eternity!

Occasionally, I surprise myself by declaring “I’ll do this with my life!”, jolting myself into the unfamiliar territory of quiet certainty. Seconds later, though: Hi-ya! With the deftness and skill of a martial arts sensei, I return to the realm of interrogation and blast the Left Brain Soundtrack again, “How?”, “How?”, “How?”, and “How?”

The mystery that has dogged me for years is this:

I believe I am meant to be in the healing and helping professions… but how? 

Please, seagull on the beach. Teach me the answers to the mysteries of life...

Please, seagull on the beach. Teach me the answers to the mysteries of life…

Sigh. I’ve tried calculating the number of hours I’ll need to invest in further training, the number of dollars I’ll need in my bank account to fund said further training, and the number of certificates I’ll need in frames on my wall before I feel confident enough to just… do something helpful and healing with my life. (I know– cool and classy, right?)

Thankfully, I only had to run in circles for 32.5 years of my life before the Universe finally took pity on my harried self. Stellar report cards aside, it probably mused to itself, This Dana girl sure is a Slow Learner. I suppose that instead of telling her the same “healing and helping professions” message– which she is clearly not getting– we’re going to have to make things a little more simple for her.

This is when I came across Juliet*, a supremely amazing woman in Australia who offers palm reading, astrological chart reading, tarot card spreads, and generous intuitive wisdom. I’ve never met her in person before, but I stumbled across a thread of hers in the world wide web, let her know my date and time of birth on a whim, sent her some photos of my palms and fingertips, and soon received a recording of her intuitive reading in my inbox.

My astrological chart! SO COOL!

Plus my own, honest-to-god astrological chart! SO COOL!

The recording itself was about an hour long (and it totally made me cry, just so you know. Tears of being ‘seen’ and understood by someone I had never met, who lives halfway across the globe from me.) Anyway, here’s what came up a whole lot in the session:

You are a healer.

Not, You belong in the healing and helping professions.

Not, You should train to become something healing and/or helping in the near or distant future.

Not, You should become a Psychologist.

Not, You should get a degree in Clinical Counseling.

Not, You need to earn another certificate to put on your wall.

No: You are a healer. Now! Today! Right at this very moment!

Yes, you near the church bulletin board dressed in all black: YOU ARE A HEALER!

Yes, you near the bulletin board dressed in all black: YOU ARE A HEALER! (Be angry about it if you must, but do not sin.)

Wowza. I’d like to say that I listened to Juliet’s recording, snapped to my senses immediately, and promptly hung a “Healer: Open For Business” shingle on my door. But… I obviously didn’t. Instead, my eyes widened in alarm at the sheer magnitude of that word: healer. It felt too big for me– and I felt too awkward and clumsy for it– like trying to clomp around in my mom’s high heels when I was five years old. A recipe for disaster and twisted ankles!

Nonetheless, something inside of me shifted.

I stopped thinking about becoming a Psychiatrist or getting a Ph.D. in Metaphysics. (Granted, I did start a loose apprenticeship under an incredible EFT Wizard and Energetic Magician– not his real title, obviously– and I did enroll in a beta coaching training program, but at least I was no longer waiting around for some higher-sanctioned being to mysteriously grant me a degree in Good Enough. Baby steps, right?)

Anyway. I teetered on the edge of getting my shit together and diving into the world of Being A Healer for several months. I contemplated. I hesitated. But… I still didn’t ‘get’ it. I didn’t understand what it meant to Be A Healer or– more importantly– how on god’s green earth could do that. On days when I was feeling particularly confused and fragile, my mean-spirited side would imagine printing up business cards– “Dana M., Healer” typed on the front in a matter-of-fact font– and then I’d dissolve into a puddle of shame and mortification. Who the hell am I to be a healer?, I’d ask myself. That’s too big and I’m too small.

(At this point, I’m sure the Universe was shaking its head in disbelief at me. Woman! Are you serious? Gah. We’ll try this one more time…)

One. More. Time.

Angel wing shells: One. More. Time.

So, in the spirit of lifelong learning, I was sent yet another amazing teacher and mentor– fingers crossed for actual understanding of the message this time! Ha. This time around, universal insights and nourishing droplets of soul nectar came to me in the form of Dr. Divi Chandna– my mom’s GP as well as a bonafide Medical Intuitive. We had a session over Skype, and here’s what she said to me (in bold-faced caps, of course):

You. Are. A. Healer.

And when I spluttered, Me?! But how?!, Dr. Divi reiterated:

Not ‘How’. Let me spell this out for you: You ARE! ALREADY!! A Healer!

[dramatic pause for insights to sink in… followed by yet another instance of me not understanding] But no, seriously– how?? What kind of healer? What does that even mean?

(At this point, I’m sure Dr. Divi was connecting psychically to The Universe in mild exasperation, saying, Still nothing! She’s not getting it! Um, how else can we put this?)

Then, finally, words that clicked:

Don’t restrict the form. Let everything you do or say be healing.

Oohhhhhh….

This is me opening up like a dahlia...

This is me opening up like a dahlia to healing…

To be continued once more…

 

*I so, totally wish that Juliet had a website set up, because I would send everyone I know to her in droves. Alas… this is not the case just yet.

 

The Call: Part 1

I’ve known from a young age that I belonged in the healing and helping professions. How did I know this? Well, it started out with the countless horoscopes that pegged me as a champion “nurturer”. I’d read about my inborn maternal instincts in the zodiac section of the newspaper and think to my (twelve year old) self, “Sure, that sounds like me.” At the time, I was an ace babysitter (!), sometimes caring for seven (!!) children at the same time (!!!) and practically peeing my pants at the thought of making a combined NINE DOLLARS AN HOUR (!!!!). “Helping professions– no prob”, I thought, “I’ve totally got this.”

Image sourced from cafepress.com

Image sourced from cafepress.com. It’s like they know me!

Fast forward a few years, and I still had confidence that I belonged in the healing and helping professions. By then, I was working as an intake counselor at a sexual health center in Calgary, guiding women warmly through sensitive experiences like pregnancy tests and answering delicate questions about birth control methods, fertility, and pregnancy options. I. Loved. This. Job. I started at the center as an unpaid volunteer and practically peed my pants when I was offered a paid contract to cover a year-long maternity leave. “You mean I’m going to make actual MONEY doing this job?”, I screeched in the Program Manager’s ear when she told me the good news, unable to conceal my sheer delight and using all of my restraint not to kiss her square on the lips. “Helping professions, no prob!! I’ve seriously got this!”

Plus I got to meet my BFF, Gloria Steinem. Perfection in a career path!

Plus I got to meet my BFF, Gloria Steinem. Perfection in a career path!

Shortly after finishing up the mat leave contract, I went back to university and completed a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies. There, my very foundations were shaken. My core beliefs disintegrated– replaced with GPAs and a thesis advisory committee– and leaving me standing in ashes of confusion and uncertainty. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure what even qualified as a “healing or helping” profession anymore, but one thing was now certain: I didn’t have the right credentials to be that sort of professional or to do that sort of work. What good was an MA in COMS, after all? I couldn’t graduate and become a Professional Communicator. (And even if I could, how lame would that be?) I wasn’t a Psychologist. I wasn’t a Clinical Counselor. I wasn’t even a Coach or a Registered Anything of Importance. Basically, I determined, my degree was worthless and I had just wasted two years of my life. Healing and helping professions, so long…

... but I know y'all are dying to read the riveting thesis I wrote, right? My Supervisor: What's the title of your thesis going to be? Me: Can I call it "Who gives a sh*t"?

… but I know y’all are dying to read the riveting thesis I wrote, right? My Supervisor: What’s the title of your thesis going to be? Me: Can I call it “Who gives a sh*t?” No? Okay, then I’ll call it the next lamest thing: “Communicating About Contraceptives”. Ugh…

*     *     *     *     *

Around that time, I started getting cozier with psychics, palm readers, and astrologists. (And, on a related note, I practically peed my pants when my favorite astrologist, Georgia Nicols, started following me on Twitter. Not that I’m ever actually on Twitter, mind you, but just having her follow me was a thrill!)

Anyway. Psychics and palm readers. Yes.

Dana LH 1

I had my palms read for the first time in the mall in 2008. (Don’t judge). Sandra talked at length about me belonging in the helping professions, and I was all, “Does working at a non-profit organization count as helpful? If not, should I go back to school and invest four more years and fifty thousand more dollars into further education? Should I become a psychologist?” (At that point, I’m pretty sure Sandra just took her fifteen bucks and sealed her lips forevermore). The Era of Over-Thinking Things had begun.

Do you want to work at the Harbour like me? Come on, I know you do...

Do you want to work at the Harbour like me? Come on, I know you do…

In 2010, when I decided to leave the world of non-profits and work full time with my Beloved at our now infamous art booth, I consulted with my trusted psychic medium to make sure that I was heading in the right direction. I certainly was, she said, and then I proceeded to riddle her with tangential questions about getting other training, degrees, certifications, or Officially Sanctioned Skills under my belt so I could legitimately work in the healing and helping professions at some point again. Poor psychic medium. She told me (nicely) to stop over-thinking things, and I interpreted this as “Yes. Training. Get more.” Heh.

So I decided in 2013 that I was going to become a Holistic Nutritionist. (Remember that? Hahaha.) An interview was scheduled. A tuition deposit was even paid. And suddenly? It didn’t feel right anymore. A quick call to my trusted psychic confirmed the intuitive ‘no to Holistic Nutrition School’ hit and also yielded a now familiar nugget of advice: “Healing and helping professions. Stop over-thinking things.

Me: Stop over-thinking things? What does that even mean? I wonder if it means I should get certified as an EFT Practitioner. Or maybe I should take a coaching course! Should I get coaching done for myself? I should probably get more online business training, that’s for sure. Maybe I should take that Crystal Healing qualification course, too? Or wait until I’ve got some Transcendental Meditation experience under my belt. Maybe I should try yoga finally? And then get certified as a yoga teacher, yes! I wonder how long it takes to become a Reiki Master. Or an intuitive healer! Can you get a degree in intuition? Maybe I should get a Ph.D. in Metaphysics. And then write a book!

Not over-thinking things– no prob! I’ve totally got this. ;) 

To be continued…

DSCN1757