Thursday, July 28, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #10: Monitor Self-Talk

How do you talk to yourself?

No, I'm not referring to the kind of self-talk that makes people you pass on the street wonder if you're nuts. Most of us don't talk out loud to ourselves (though, occasionally, there's nothing wrong with that). I'm referring to the constant monologue inside your head.

When you mess up, what do you say to yourself? When you're about to try something new, what do you say to yourself? When you look in the mirror, what do you say to yourself?

My guess is, many of us say things to ourselves that we would never utter to someone else.

This is incredibly damaging. We demoralize ourselves when we do this. (I have to note: my finger just hit two keys at once, and the word came out "demortalize." I actually think that's true, too: we take away a piece of our humanity when we speak cruelly to ourselves. We are all imperfect: it's part of being human.)

For a few days, just note what you say to yourself when you're feeling vulnerable, scared, or anxious. Would you talk to your best friend that way? Then why in the world would you talk to yourself like that? Our self-esteem is a fragile thing. We must be our own best friends. What would you say to your best friend when she's feeling scared about trying something new? It would probably be something along the following lines: "C'mon, you can do it. It won't be perfect the first time, and that's okay. Just give it a try!" What would happen if, over time, you had that kind of response to yourself? You'd probably feel less demoralized, and less demortalized. (I made a new word. Pretty neat. It'll probably come up in future posts.)

It can be a hard to habit to break, to be fair. I've been working on it for about 25 years, and am starting to make some progress. It's one I commit to revisiting, too.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #9: go small

I love chocolate. And ice cream. And other things that I probably shouldn't like as much as I do.

Until fairly recently, limiting the size of those treats wasn't an option. If I was going to have ice cream, I'd have three scoops. Or two scoops with hot fudge AND caramel. What was the point of having a small serving? If you're going to be bad, go all out: that was my motto.

What I've discovered is that a few bites of whatever I'm craving is plenty to satiate me. I keep a bag of mini York peppermint patties in the fridge, and have one after dinner. Or I have a half cup of Breyer's ice cream. BTW, that's one serving, I was horrified to discover! After a few bites of those lovelies, I'm satisfied. It's a treat, and I don't feel gross afterward. Who knew?

Give it a try. Cheating a little bit each day won't kill anyone, and won't pack on the pounds the way regular (or even intermittent) gorging will. That way, you won't feel deprived, either.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #8: do not disturb

It's a lovely function on your mobile phone: "do not disturb." Do you actually use it?

I use it every time I go into a session here at the NATS conference. To be honest, I'd be mortified if my phone rang during Renée Fleming's master classes.

But do you use it every night when you go to bed? A colleague relayed a story to me: it seems her grandson asked her not to text early in the morning because it woke him up. Her response was, why is your phone on when you're sleeping?

I have to side with my colleague on this one. Phones need to be turned off when you sleep, so that you can sleep without interruption. Just about anything can wait a few hours. We know from numerous studies that having 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep is crucial. It's also important to have the self-control to be able to do without it for that amount of time, in my opinion.

So turn it off and sleep well, friends!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wellness Resources: NATS National Convention 2016

This list, while long, will continue to grow. Feel free to comment and post your favorites, and I'll include them.

Here is the link.

And here is a fabulous testimonial from a friend regarding one of the apps I mentioned:

I don't usually post much on Facebook except to comment on other's posts. However, this week I tried something new for me. I started tracking my calorie and exercise on MYFITNESSPAL this week as I travelled Tallahassee FL, Mobile AL, Biloxi, and Gulfport MS. I love seafood and am a sucker for fast food in order to move on quickly and get to my next appointments. Many of the hotels I stay in have breakfast provided. I often try to get my money's worth and then some! I found that I consumed 1600 of my 2100 allowable calories for breakfast one morning. What a shock!! Didn't seem like that much but the biscuits and gravy eggs sausage yogurt orange juice coffee do add up! So with that awakening I have tried all week to eat more reasonalbly and account for all food that I eat good or bad. I also was able to exercise every day during the week sometimes morning and everning. I ate at one of my favorite restaraunts on the Gulf coast, Half Shell Oyster House( with 8 locations), 3 times. Great food and atmosphere with a Cajun flair! But i limited myselt to a bowl of their fabulous seafood gumbo and a salad each time. I somehow found the will power to forego their fantastic bread pudding!! When I arrived home for the weekend, I weighed in. I was surprised to see I had lost 2.5 pounds this week and still had an enjoyable time. I guess the old saying "You can't manage what you don't measure" is very true. I am 6 days into a new pattern and hope to continure without stumbling too often going forward in order to lose a substantial amount of weight this fall I hope each time I see you in the future, you see "less" of me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #7: Read First

This change may actually feel enormous.

Before you check Facebook or email or anything else, read. Read something uplifting first thing in the morning, before inundating yourself with the news or social media. Let your mind absorb something with substance before the demands of the day start trickling through your computer or smartphone. 

See how your frame of mind changes when you feed it with something good first. See how the lens through which you see the world is altered.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #6: count calories

OK, that isn't tiny at all. It can change your life. But just counting, whether or not you change what you actually eat, is not so hard with all of the apps out there. MyFitnessPal is free, and you don't need a FitBit to use it (though I confess I really like my FitBit). There are many apps like this, but I'll tell you about this one since I've used it.

A very wise friend once said, "You can't exercise your way out of a McDonald's diet." Sage words. Many of us greatly underestimate the number of calories we eat, and overestimate how many we actually need. MyFitnessPal calculates the number of calories you need based on age, height, whether you want to gain or lose weight, etc. The app was so helpful in keeping me honest, I once lost 5 pounds in a month while eating dorm food! It's also useful in that you can enter restaurant foods (which are often more than one portion, or very high calorie, or both), so you know what you're actually eating. And YOU don't have to do the math: it does it for you.

You can also enter your exercise, so you know how many calories you've offset. I confess to going to Dunkin' Donuts, logging my calories, then spending the required amount of time in the gym that day to work it off. I stayed long enough to be sure I didn't pay the price of my munchkins and coffee with cream.

Try using the app just to get a sense of what you're actually putting into your body. Worry about changing your diet later: just count for now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #5: do something different

Breaking habits is hard. We all know this. So, instead of suggesting that you break a habit, I'm going to suggest that you simply try doing something slightly different every day.

It might be as silly as taking a different entrance into your usual parking lot, or holding your coffee with your non-dominant hand. Here is a cool article on the benefits of doing so. It might be pausing when you'd reflexively comment, or commenting when you'd normally stay silent. It might be a friendly wave to the guy that cut you off on the interstate rather than cussing under your breath. Try something different: it almost doesn't matter what it is.

But do something intentionally opposite from your habit each day...just to mix it up.

Of course, there is also value in doing things exactly the same every day, too.

Confused? Good.