Archive for November, 2010

Day 25 – I Am Grateful That I Did This

Here we are, Day 25. Just what did I learn from all this?

This project started on a whim. I woke up October 31st and said “I have an idea.” I am so grateful that I didn’t have much time to think about how honest I would need to be to do this well, because I am quite certain I would’ve chickened out.

Luckily I didn’t because here’s what I’ve learned from this project:

1. I have felt bad about my body more than I’ve felt good. I’d venture to say is at least an 80/20 split if I look back over my entire 35 years. That makes me really sad.

I am someone who’s been exercising regularly since high school and on some sort of diet since then as well – so for all that effort I shouldn’t spend so much time feeling badly about my hips. I realize however that I’ve let these feelings take me over at times – too many times.

I’ve realized that the way the outside looks has very little to do with how I feel inside. This project has shed a bit of light on the discrepancy between what I see when I look in the mirror and reality. I suspect I look a tad better – even on my worse day – than I ever give myself credit for.  It helps to know this. It allows me to calm down and get a more realistic perspective.

 2. When I feel bad about my body it spills out all over my life. If my jeans feel a little snug or my face looks puffy or my thighs feel bulkier than usual, I feel agitated, cranky and upset. Before this project I often felt this way and didn’t put two and two together. Sometimes my mind would spin so fast from “these jeans are feeling tight” to me flipping out about how many workouts I could squeeze in this week, how good I need to eat this week and all the things I shouldn’t do if I want to undo this bad feeling.  All this planning of course was after a wave of disappointment, anger, guilt, sadness and general yuck washed over me.

This all happened in my mind in a matter of seconds, and I didn’t realize the profound effect it had on my mood and my interactions with others. At least now the process has slowed down a bit and I can recognize where the crankiness came from and deal with it….chances are there will be another day of tight feeling jeans in my future, so this is a useful skill.

 3. It fascinates me that I chose helping women lose weight as a career. This job is not somewhere I can hide from my issues – well I could, but I doubt I’d be very good at it if I did. These past 25 days solidified for me that there’s no value in hiding about how negative body image issue affect me. I can do more good for myself and all of you out here, in the open.

When that Amazon.com reviewer called me fat, it hurt my feelings but also I was scared she’d knocked me down from the expert status I’d worked so hard for – after all, who wants to get fat loss advice from a fat girl?

I could look at myself and say I’m obviously not obese, but that didn’t really matter. Her words hurt because they are things I’ve said to myself time and time again – and like I said, what the outside looks like doesn’t matter if our insides are talkin’ trash.  I could be 130 pounds or 330 pounds and still feel fat. Still feel badly about my body. Still be afraid to talk about it.

As it turns out, her words freed me and when I decided to give up the notion that I had to be perfect, look perfect and make all this weight loss stuff look easy, I found my voice. There’s nothing to be scared of if you’re not hiding anything.

4. I know without a doubt now that I can change, in an instant, how I feel. There were days  writing this blog when I didn’t feel good, struggled to find something to be grateful for and wondered why I’d volunteered to be so open and vulnerable. But when I quieted down I not only was able to feel grateful, I was able to feel better about myself.

This lesson was invaluable. There will be those days when I ate too many carbs and gain 4 pounds of water weight. There will be days when I have cheese and wake up with a puffy face. There will be days when I’ve got PMS and I could look like Miss America and still feel flabby. But what I do know now is that I can change my thoughts, which will change my actions and I can feel better.

In this same vein I learned that when I’m feeling crappy, even if I can’t turn it around in minutes, the feeling good is out there. It may be just a day away, but I can trust that I will feel better again.

5. I knew this before, but I think I was able to put it in practice these past 25 days – and that is that working my way towards a better body does not have to be filled with self loathing. I can hit the gym with a smile on my face just as easy as I can sentence myself to another mile on the treadmill.

Losing weight and keeping it off is not easy for some of us. So if most of my days will be spent eating salad and doing pushups then I can do it feeling good or I can do it feeling bad. Either way I’ll be doing it, so I opt for happy.

I’m very grateful for all the support my readers have given me; it’s made a scary process much easier.I hope this has been a valuable 25 days for all of you.

I’ve received so many emails from women asking for the project not to stop – which I loved! While the Gratitude Project is at a close I’ve already got some ideas for what’s next, so sit tight!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! Please have a great day….and feel good about yourself, make good choices for yourself and be grateful for what you’ve got as you move towards what you want.

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November 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

Day 24 – I Am Grateful That I Can Forgive Myself

This project is winding down and I’ve had a lot of time to digest the negative thoughts I have about this body I live in. I feel better overall and I feel I’ve made some huge strides but guess what? I’m still not perfect….damn it.

They say “no one’s perfect”.  Us experts are not perfect either (well, at least I’m not!). When we screw up it’s doubly bad. First, admitting we screwed up can take a bite out of your expert clout. Second, when we screw up, we knew better so the guilt layers on even thicker. I mean when you know better, you should be able to do better right?

Yes, in theory. In life though, we all screw up.

We’ve all started a new plan, made a New Year’s resolution or whatever and didn’t see it through. How many of you have been able to look in the mirror and, “Perfect. I’m done.”? I haven’t. What probably even worse, is that it’s hard to see the progress we DID make – where we fall short is so much more obvious. 

These past few days with my neck strained, I’ve been sitting here in my neck brace barely able to hold my head up without pain – and I’m once again battling myself.

I have stuff to do!  I have patients to see and I was starting a week of perfect eating, perfect workouts and a great mental outlook. So far not much has gone my way this week and instead of saying “Oh well, at least I get a couple of days to sleep in and watch movies”, of course I said, “This is terrible! How much can I get done if I prop my computer up on a pillow, position my head just so and type with only my left hand? Joe, do you think I could cycle because my head doesn’t move much on the bike and I can wear the brace?”

Joe just shook his head at me. He is right. I’m a nut case.

So far this week, and for several more days I fear, I’m simply not able to do much work, much exercising or much of anything else – and so I tried something mind blowing: I forgave myself.

I begrudgingly forgave my body for being less than perfect. I forgave my stupid spine for being injured (I said I forgave it, didn’t say I’m happy about it.) I forgave myself for all the things I should’ve made happen this week that didn’t.

Then I softened a bit…

(Deep breath…..ok Brooke, here goes…)

I forgive myself for coming up short last spring on my goals. I forgive myself for making the wrong choice for myself now and again. I forgive myself for deciding to eat the bad, bad thing that one time. I forgive myself for the weeks my workouts were whimpy. I forgive myself for the workouts I didn’t even bother to do. I forgive myself for all the weight I lifted last week AFTER my neck was telling me loud and clear, “That’s about enough of that. Take a day off.” I forgive myself for everytime I got less than an A on a test. I forgive myself for not being able to fix everything that’s ever gone wrong with my family, my patients, my friends or anyone else for that matter.

I forgive myself for how mean I’ve been to myself since, oh, probably about middle school.  And, here goes….I forgive myself for not being perfect.

Did the world end? Yikes, I actually said it outloud – you all ok out there? Everyone till standing? Ok, I’ll continue…

I don’t plan on stopping myself from always aiming above and beyond. I will still try to accomplish great things with my career, my health, my body, and my relationships. But I need to trust that when I come up short it’s not for lack of trying. If it doesn’t go perfectly, I forgive myself in advance.

I feel 10 pounds lighter. I think my neck feels a little better.

November 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm Leave a comment

Can You Sleep Your Way Slim?

Western society is characterized by high stress, lack of exercise, lack of sleep and overeating – but that’s not all of us. Some of us regularly hit the gym and try to eat well – but who isn’t guilty of getting too stressed out from time to time? How about missing a few hours of sleep when we’re having a week like this:  trying to work, get the kids to soccer, cook dinner and grocery shop for a big Thanksgiving meal?

Last week I discussed a study on how even small amounts of light in our sleep environment can pack on the pounds, and it turns out if we miss sleep several nights in a row – that’s not helping either.

A study in the Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at 11 middle aged subjects (6 females and 5 males) who prior to the study averaged about 7.5 hours of sleep per night.  For 14 days they slept prescribed amounts (either 8.5 hours or 5.5 hours), didn’t exercise and had ample food available – in effort to mimic typical Western lifestyle of sitting at a desk, vending machine down the hall, and stress keeping us up at night.

Previous research has shown that you had to pull and all-nighter to see changes in insulin sensitivity, but this small study showed that repeated nights that were simply short on sleep also decreased insulin sensitivity.  Past data illustrates that those who sleep at least 7 hours per night are at decreased risk for developing metabolic diseases such as Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes, and those that sleep less than 6 are at increased risk for these diseases. This more recent study, shows that only 2 weeks of not getting enough sleep shifts our metabolism towards a less insulin sensitive state.

What this means for your health is increased risk for heart and kidney disease as longer term complications of Diabetes. But what it means for your physique is more fat storage.  Insulin shuttles nutrients, including glucose, out of your blood and into your cells for use.  When your fuel stores are full or glucose simply can’t get in, which is the case with insulin resistance, that extra glucose goes to fat storage. 

This is why I tell my clients, that at each meal they have the opportunity to create a fat burning or a fat storing environment in their body by choosing the right foods. A high fiber, protein rich, managed starchy carb meal with some healthy fat encourages fat burning – whereas a high carb meal in the average person (athletes excluded of course, performance nutrition is very different from fat loss nutrition) promotes fat storage.

Turns out, missing just a few nights of shut-eye, also creates a fat storing environment. So do what you can to get at 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.  Eat balanced meals of fiber, protein, healthy fat and a manageable carb load (see last week’s post for details).

Stress is the #1 reason I hear from my patients as to why they can’t sleep.  They lay in bed at night stressing over work, finances, etc. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, de-stress and sleep sounder by making a list before you hit the hay of 5 things you are grateful for. It will help assure you that no matter what you’re stressing over, there’s a lot in life to feel good about.

November 23, 2010 at 3:38 pm 1 comment

Day 23 – I Am Grateful For Killing The Little Green Monster

It’s shameful to admit, but when you’re feeling down about your own physique it’s easy to be nasty about someone that looks great. Has the Green Meanie acted up inside you after any of the following:

Envying Ms. Buns of Steel on the stairmaster in front of you.

Nearly toppling over mid-lunge when you catch a glimpse of a girl with the most perfect arms in the mirror next to you.

Coveting the perfect calves of the woman walking by you in stilettos.

Dressing behind your gym locker door as a woman with your ideal body blow-dries her hair buck naked next to you.

You know who I’m talking about – the women who make you feel like crap about yourself. The ones you look at and think “why not me?”  The ones that make you curse your genetics and feel like your hours in the gym have been a colossal waste of time.  The ones that send you from your workout straight into a bag of cookies, because really, why bother?

These are the women that make us nervous at the gym or out at a bar. They are our competition. They are out doing us. They are our worst nightmare. When we look at them, our issues are triggered. We think, “It’s not fair”. Or let’s be honest, sometimes we think “Bitch”. 

Much of our self loathing comes from childhood, past relationships and a lifetime of kicking our own butts – and sometimes it seems comes out of the blue when we see a woman that makes us feel we come up short.

First of all, I want to offer a sincere apology to any woman I’ve ever thought something ugly about. It was simply my own insecurities and a twisted way of acknowledging how awesome your biceps are.  Although I never uttered these words aloud to you, I thought them and I’m sorry.

I’m also sorry to me. Comparing my body to any other body in the world is not helpful and it’s caused me a lot of angst. My job is to make this body I was given the best it can be. My legs will never be any longer and I will always have some junk in this trunk – but I can be my best and that’s where my energy should be spent. Not hating on some woman whose only crime was looking a certain way that made me feel less than.

Rather than spew mental venom to the women who have great hamstring definition, a flat stomach and perfect shoulders, could we instead say in our minds, ‘Thank you”?

Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for reminding me of my goals. Thank you for being a visual representation of what I’m working towards.

Or what about – this is revolutionary, I know – telling her? Walk right up to her and say, “Your arms are perfect, just wanted you to know.”

Chances are she’s not a bitch and she’s not mean. Chances are she’ll say “Oh, thank you so much! That’s so sweet. I’ve been working so hard and following this program that…..”

And just like that you have learned a bit on how she got those great arms and better yet, you totally made her day.  With her workout advice and less negative mental pollution about her or yourself, you are a lot closer to feeling better about your body and having the one you really want.

What if we all did this? Replace envy, frustration or sadness with gratitude, kindness and generosity? Wait…did the world just become a better place? I think so.

November 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

Day 22 – I’m Grateful For Learning To Chill The #$@% Out

So…..day 21 I made my resolution to my new goal public by putting it on my blog. How did today go?

I actually had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in awhile, so that was good. First item on the new plan: fasting walking or fasting yoga. We decided Vinyasa yoga would be the best for my hip (it’s the most like the dynamic stretching that’s helped me thus far, still can’t hold a hamstring stretch without risking more tearing – no thanks!). I walked a few miles last night, so this morning: yoga it is.

Since there’s so much yoga I can’t do right now, I wanted to be able to do it on my schedule and I’ve got lots of travel coming up, I thought a DVD would be best until January. Opened up the one I bought yesterday and couldn’t even figure out how to get it to play! No I’m not quite that dense, I have used a DVD before – but it has this weird menu where you actually pick different segments from a matrix of 12 minute sequences to create your own yoga session. Which is kinda cool, but I seriously couldn’t get the damn thing to work! After uttering a few profanities, I decided it was yoga after all – so I took a few deep breaths and calmed down. I figured it out and did 25 minutes of yoga. I felt better.

Next up: a healthy breakfast. After a very busy week last week and being gone all weekend, nothing in the house. No time to make it all the way to Whole Foods, so I pop into the not so nice grocery store in our building – today, it will have to suffice. Grabbed pre-cut mushrooms, spinach and organic eggs. All is going well as I sauté up the veggies, then in go the eggs. They seem fine. One yolk looks a little darker than the other, but what does that even mean?

Open my computer to read through some emails while breakfast cools. Take a big bite. Eggs have gone bad. Rotten. Disgusting. Sigh. Protein shake for breakfast.

Ok, here’s where I typically lose it. “Nothing’s going right! I am so aggravated. Starting this whole thing today is a terrible idea…….Rant. Rant. Rant.” And here’s where Joe tries to tell me his famous line, “It’s never too late to start the day over.” When you live with someone so down to earth, losing your mind seems even more ridiculous. His sanity makes me feel even more crazy.

It’s taken me a long time to hear his calming advice and not want to scream, hit something, hit him. But today I could see I’ve made a little progress. So far not much has worked in my favor, but I still feel good, optimistic even. Learning to chill the hell out has been a long, painful process for me – and I’m still lousy at it sometimes. I’ve created a life that’s stressful, busy and where a lot of people need my attention. I take on too much, time and time again. I spread myself too thin and then I crack up. But I can honestly say I’m getting better –hardly there yet, but better.

Women ask so much of themselves. We have an unrealistic expectation to do it all – and do it perfect. We expect to rock in our career, have an awesome relationship with a great guy, maybe manage a family as well, have a smokin’ bod and be zen about the whole thing. Some days it feels like we’re on top of it, got it all in the bag. Then days like today happen where it feels like it’s about to spill out all over this perfect life we’ve got a white knuckle grip on.

I still want the perfect life. I still try most days to do it all and do it well. But what I am trying to do more of is just let it fall apart if it’s gonna. I’ve found it’s easier to pick up the pieces than it is to hold on to them as they start to slip – me grasping for dear life to every detail. It feel apart this morning and instead of gripping tighter, I let go.  I took a deep breath, laughed, gagged a little at the egg incident, and decided to let it fall apart.

So here it is 11am and I’ve picked up the pieces, got my act together, and in perfect Brooke fashion, tyring to do it all….until it falls apart again! At which time I’m simply going to chill the $#@% out. If I need help, I’ll ask Joe or listen to this song by Michael Franti: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k4tpkYNIrI&feature=related

November 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm 1 comment

Day 21 – I Am Grateful To Be Fired Up (& Mixed Up)

I am not sure what shifted, but I feel ready to make that final push towards my fat loss goal. I’ve been holding steady for months, but didn’t feel ready to commit 100% again to losing.

Maybe it was the catharsis this project has brought me, but when I went to bed last night I felt excited about a more strict diet regimen and a new exercise plan. I’m feeling fired up.

I’ve been here before – a new plan in mind, a moment of getting fed up and ready for change, the excitement and motivation that only happens at the beginning of a goal like this.

But I also know – this doesn’t last.

I reread my Black & White – Meet Gray Post and decided to do a few things differently this time:

*Not start off too intense. Fired up or not, I’m still injured and there’s a lot I would love to do in terms of metabolic training but I can’t – or at least I shouldn’t.  I have to incorporate some re-hab-ish lower body exercises still, which is sorta lame but I don’t want to end up getting hurt and needing weeks off (a very familiar pattern for me…).

*I am not going ignore my recovery practices and I am going to make (and keep) my physical therapy appointments.

*This time it’s for me. I am not doing this for a book tour or a press spot – or to soothe some wounded part of my psyche that thinks I need to look a certain way. This is what I want, just for me. No punishment – and no trying to make anyone else happy.

*I am mixing it up. I love training hard, fast and heavy. I hate steady state cardio and I can’t remember the last time I did yoga. This time I must mix it up or I will end up overtraining, injured and completely burnt out like I always do.

I will do yoga. I will do yoga. I will do yoga. (I need to keep saying that until I believe it.)

Life is a mixed bag, full of variety – but sadly we don’t usually see women that way. We categorize them into boxes like ditsy blond or the glasses-wearing nerd. They are fit or they are fat. I know I see trainers and fitness models and think “that’s right”, the way I look is wrong.

It’s not so clear cut – may of us, like me, are somewhere in the middle. And that’s ok – in fact it’s great.

I’m a doctor but I’m a total goof at home. I love living in Manhattan, but my favorite pair of shoes are my cowboy boots.  I love being a sweaty mess after boxing almost as much as I love pink lip gloss. I love going out to see live music as much as I love staying in and reading my physiology textbook.

With my workouts though, there’s no variety. And it’s time to mix it up.

So here I am, ready to try again. I have hardly cured myself of every negative thought in my head, but spending time facing them over these past 20 days has quieted that damaged voice. My more useful, positive voice is downing her out.

The new fat loss regimen will include continuing to be kinder to myself, to work towards loving the body I’ve got – no matter what shape she’s in, and remembering that picture of myself on Day 1 in my little blue bikini: loved, optimistic, happy, confident and tummy hanging out.

November 21, 2010 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

Day 20 – I Am Grateful To Be Grounded (The Good Kind)

Today has probably been the toughest time I’ve had deciding what to write about.  When I look back at the past 19 days the posts have been really trending positive. Today I didn’t feel so positive.

Last night I had to do some dreaded photos of me at the gym (needed at least one shot of me training for a project). I’m sorry to say it, but I walked out of the gym aggravated and upset. Is this still where I’m at? After all this hard work don’t I deserve to be looking leaner and better?

“Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” – Clint Eastwood, from the movie Unforgiven.

Deserve or not, for what I’ve been able to put in, here’s the outcome. And I’m not satisfied with it.

We left the gym and Joe and I talked for about 45 minutes about how I was feeling – I laid it all out there as pathetic as it sounded.  “The worst part of this is that I feel like a hypocrite. I’ve been spewing all this healthy perspective and I’m coming up pretty damn short of a positive, healthy attitude right now.” But then a funny thing happened.

As I thought back over all the blogs I’ve written and all the work I’d been doing on having a healthier body image I started to feel better. And then I felt even a little better. And then a little more.

I’m not gonna lie, I was upset  – approaching tears when we first left the gym. But this freakout could have lasted days – and the actually freaking out part lasted only about 5 minutes, the sadness lasted about an hour and then I felt better.

What made me feel better was knowing that I’ve felt this way before, and knowing that I’ve also felt better than this. I can remember feeling much worse than I did last night but over the past 19 days alone I’ve been feeling infinitely better than that. So what I realized is that although I feel bad right now, I will feel better again.

This too shall pass….

In the past, a Friday night freakout like this would’ve meant a weekend of double workouts, a super clean diet and saying no to any social invitations. It’s almost like getting grounded for being fat.

I was able to see how beneficial the last weeks have been for me to discuss openly with myself, and all of you, how much the way I feel about my body affects my entire life. And it was reassuring to have finally realized that just as easy as I feel crappy today, I can feel really great again soon.

That’s life, it’s not static. And as much as we’d probably all like to just feel good all of the time, opting out of the crappy times, that would be like watching a really, really boring movie.

Think of your favorite movie ever. Was is just funny? Or just sad? Or just scary? Probably not. The best movies make us laugh, cry, take notice, feel uncomfortable, feel safe – all of it. Life should be the same way.

So how did I wake up today? This past week was really busy and extremely stressful – and today I was exhausted.  I wanted to get up and workout, but I opted to sleep in knowing that was more important today. I am not punishing myself and I am keeping my plans to go with Joe to a gig in Massachusetts tonight – its fall in the Northeast and the drive will be gorgeous. I’ve packed my healthy snacks, bottled water and am bringing the TRX in case I can squeeze in a session tonight before the show.

I feel grounded in the good way – you know, where you feet are on solid ground? Not the bad way, where I opt out on life and punish myself because my body isn’t perfect….yet.

In the spirit of Day 1 of this project – I am still grateful I am strong.. Maybe not lean enough yet, but that’s a 12 KG kettlbell, a 50 lb sandbag and on the Skull Crusher it’s a 35 lb bar with 20 lbs of plates and 20 lbs of chains – and that’s pretty cool.

Photos taken at Peak Performance where I am encouraged by all my friends there and inspired by how strong and awesome they all are – I am grateful for that too.

November 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

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