Why I’m saying ‘Hello’ to winter weight & ‘goodbye’ to caring! My mindful approach to feeling happier this winter.

Toasted Marshmallow milkshake cheers! & I enjoyed every last sip.

I don’t know about you but I’m experiencing major care fatigue. I feel like a wimp, and I have been hard on myself for not doing enough. I knew I needed to try something new because I am feeling numb & depleted. So I decided once the season changed to fall…to take the season off from caring.

Thats right, the whole autumn I will choose one thing that causes me much stress, grief, and self-loathing that I “cared too much” about and do something I would never in a million years do…consciously choose to not give a f*ck about it. Just gloriously relish in the freedom of completely letting all of that guilt and shame go.

You know what I’m giving up caring about??? Hating myself for holiday weight gain.

I woke up in September and decided I am going to blog about how I am mindfully going to gain weight this season and consciously free myself from any guilt, shame, self-hatred for doing so.  I officially have declared it will be an awesome decent into chub-ville!

Ever since I moved back to place with 4 seasons (man I miss Hawaii, and San Diego) I have been feeling the seasons really intensely.  In summer I’m on fire, peppy and hardcore on my workouts, then the chill in the air that signals Halloween in coming sends me into a downward spiral filled with bite sized snickers, fatigue, pale skin, and puffiness…all over.  I feel like a caterpillar in winter I just want to eat, eat, eat, sleep and dream of waking up beautiful in Spring. Yet, alas I only wake up with a sugar addiction, tight clothes, rough skin, and feeling terrible about myself.

Some famous thoughts I have when this happens is:

What is wrong with you?

You know better!

You are out of control.

How could you let this happen?

You are gross.

Get your shit together!!!

Sound familiar to anyone?  I know I’m not alone.

But this season I am DONE.  I don’t know if it’s the political climate these days, it’s been a helluva year, or the lack of nurturing friendships close by….I don’t know but I really feel so done. I need this sabbatical from caring for my survival.  In order for me to still care, have compassion, be empathetic I must unplug from it for a spell to re-fill my well.

I’m going to call it radical self-care.  Self care isn’t always getting your hair & nails did, and taking a luxurious bubble bath. Sometimes it’s about going to bed at 8pm, letting go of a toxic person, and forgiving yourself for not meeting your own impossible standards.

My thoughts were, hey, if holiday weight gain happens anyway why not conciously do it, and luxuriate in the experience of how it all happens, AND love myself throughout the process. I know…wild right? How could I make something that is deemed so ugly in our society as gaining weight a kind of spiritual experience???  It has been said that addiction is only looking for God in all the wrong places. Can God be in that Halloween bucket that my daughter brought home???? Well I ate the whole thing and I still couldn’t tell you, but it is the Sufi way to believe God is everywhere, so here we go…let’s see.

One problem, how was I going to do this without it just being about gorging on food aka binging?  So I created some ground rules.

  1. I will only over indulge for a season…which ends Dec 21 on the solstice, first day of winter.

2. I only will indulge in what I am truly craving, that means finally saying yes to that Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake I see on the menu but would never let myself have.

3. While I’m eating it I will fully experience it by giving it my full undivided attention.

4. I will express my gratitude for the experience.

4.  I decided that I was still going to work out 3x a week while conducting this experiment.

Why this is huge for me: I only shop at Trader Joes and Whole Foods. I only cook grass-fed farm raised meats, no nitrates, no msg, no gmo, no preservatives, no coloring, wild caught seafood, I take probiotic, drink kombucha, use bone broth, only buy free range farm eggs & all organic produce and goodies.   I do not eat or buy bread or pasta, do not drink cow’s milk and stay away from cheese.  I have seen “Forks Over Knives”, “Super Size Me” and “What the Health”.  So let me just tell you what I have found out about myself since it has been over a month of eating whatever I wanted without cringing when I think of the place from which it came.

I have most definitely gained weight.  I have enjoyed almost everything I have eaten.  Yes…I have eaten and loved McDonald’s fries, Taco Bell, and Fried Chicken all in the same week. I wouldn’t even eat that much in a year before! I have eaten late at night, on the couch, as much gross sugary American chocolate from Sol’s Halloween bucket as I wanted with NO guilt. Hello Pumpkin pie for no reason, and a block of manchego cheese with bread…dream come true! For the first time ever I have felt my pants get tighter and said to my belly “hello there!” in anticipation not despair. I have looked at myself in the mirror and felt the pangs of disapproval and slight disgust, and instead tried my best to replace it with… ‘your ok kid’.

This has been horrifying, terrifying to do on some level but there is an unfamiliar freedom there I can’t explain. There is a seed of peace that I am discovering, uncovering, and reclaiming.  God is it you? Are you there in my muffin top? Can it be!?

Let me tell you what else I have noticed….I am SO sluggish.

I’m pretty much tired all day.  I get headaches regularly, and for the first time in years…I got a cold last week.

I am drinking more coffee, and I feel foggy brained.  I was keeping up with my intense workouts until about 2 weeks ago where I couldn’t focus in my happy place (barre class)…so I cut back and increased my gentle yoga (which I usually scoff at because you don’t sweat in there). I just want to lay around.  My skin does not feel as smooth,  and when I wake up in the morning my face is puffy.

I am excited for Thanksgiving this year, as I’m going to my Titi’s house and it will be gmo corn oil, msg Adobo, Sazon, and inhumanely raised pork fat frenzy! I will practice allowing myself to eat Thanksgiving (for the first time I can remember) not “counting points”,  being really careful about my portions, adding up calories in “My Fitness Pal”, or just feeling bad about my body afterwards, and giving myself a lecture to get my shit together in December.

I am mid way through my not giving a f*ck and this too shall pass…I will return to my normal giving a f*ck and it won’t be easy I’m sure, nothing healthy ever is.  But as I reflect on this past month I realize that I desperately needed this breathing room to just be…I realized that the feeling I dreaded that I had been avoiding most of my life, the feeling I never wanted to feel…I had to give it it’s time to take over, not build a bigger wall against it. I needed to allow it to wash up over me and knock me down.  I wanted to give weight gain it’s due, it’s time and place, and finally a green light to say  “it’s ok.  You are not forever.  I hate what you stand for and the power I let you have over me but you are here, you come every year, so how can I love you”?  Weight gain…you are the worst, and you are a product of my living my best life through the holidays, so how can I friggin’ love you!?  How?

Then I realized something….it wasn’t about the weight gain…you can substitute weight gain for anything you struggle with loving that is undeniably in your life….for me it’s family members whom have different values, morals and beliefs as me…how to love when love is the only answer?  Ungracefully of course.  With awareness of  how you feel about what they both stand for, the vileness, the masked hatred, and then reach for that piece of pumpkin pie and love them….imperfectly.

I have nothing else to say except…I’ll blog again disclosing the exact amount of weight I gained around Solstice, the darkest night of the year, the welcome of winter and the end of this season of “uncaring”.  Until then I’m going underground to lay around some more, eat this Danish Kringle if I feel like it, with my headaches, my ‘bienvenido’ to the lesson that is be learned, & this ponch.

Let me know if you wind up joining me on this un-fantastic journey into weight gain, I’d love to hear what insights you take away from it.

**Side note**-Do you know that the stewardess at the airport asked me if I was pregnant?! The nerve! I did want that upgrade though so I asked her did it matter…it didn’t & I’m not…FYI.

How To: Break Negative Cycles by using the HALT method 

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Ice Cube said it best, “You betta check yo’self before you wreck yo’self”.   He may, or may not, know… but this is also known as the HALT method.

The HALT method applies to anyone and everything, it’s easy to remember, and it really works. If you’re a human being experiencing any negative cycle, or are in any type of relationship…you need the HALT method. 

Use it with your child, parent, spouse, co-workers, family, friends, and use it when you are feeling triggered by anything that traps you in a negative cycle.   It’s one of the best life hack/insider tips I’ve got. It’s a tool I suggest to practically all of my clients for their self-care tool box & faithfully use myself. If you do nothing else to stop negative behavior cycle …do the HALT method. It will save you unnecessary heartache, pain, & regret. 

What is the HALT method?

It is the marriage of 2 integral parts of wellness: mindfulness and self-care.

Mindfulness & self-care are not just some woo-woo psychobabble trends, they are crucial to attracting, creating, & maintaining healthy loving relationships. Mindfulness & self care treat the root underlying causes of negative behavior cycles.  

“If you don’t know, now you know…”- The Notorious B.I.G.

Here’s how:

Whenever you are feeling any type of stress, anxiety, sadness, or depression…HALT.  (Literally).

This is where you “check yo’self”- Ask yourself these questions:

Am I: Hungry?Angry?Lonely?or Tired?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’…it is what must be dealt with first before you make any more decisions.

It’s that simple.

Don’t let the simplicity fool you, it’s a dangerous place to be when these basic needs are not met.  You become more susceptible to destructive behaviors, that you will later regret. This is where you can seriously “wreck yo’self”. Especially if you are short-tempered, dealing with an addiction, messing with something addictive, have an addictive personality, or if something in particular is ‘running your show’ i.e. making the rest of your life unmanageable.

Let me break it down further.

Hunger- Have you eaten? Wait, even better… have you eaten nourishing food? If not, your blood sugar could be bottoming out and you could be HANGRY.   You have no business entering into any conversation, or making any decisions at all while in a hungry state.  Being hungry makes you bleary minded.  Just stop. You must eat, preferably something filling, and hopefully on some scale nutritious, the point is go EAT.  It shocks me how many people “forget to eat”…who are these crazy people?! Well, I married one. I present subject A-my husband. He’s a sweet easy-going dude for the most part, but catch that guy before he has eaten and then be trapped in a car going someplace…with traffic…no, not me, you couldn’t pay me to do it. It gets argumentative and unbearable real quick, over anything.  Poor thing was just very out of touch with his body’s hunger cues.  However, since he began practicing HALT he now can clearly state (while hungry), “I’m hungry”, which is code for HALT. So then we know it’s time to stop talking, pull over, & get that guy a hamburger STAT! Then all is sweet & easy-going again. Yay us! Disaster diverted. We saved ourselves hours worth of arguments about things we’ll never remember, and God only knows how much wasted time on the silent treatment (really hate the silent treatment). We now can do all of this with just detecting hunger…and eating. Go eat!

Anger– It’s not just for rageaholics. Are you being extra snippy, short-tempered, annoyed, sarcastic, or the dreaded …passive aggressive?  These are all forms of anger.  If you are feeling any of these, you need to take time to figure out what is causing your anger. What is really bothering you?  Once you figure that out, then you can figure out what you need to do about it. But first…HALT. Acknowledge the anger, then devise your plan.  Maybe what’s making you angry is ‘running late’, and there you are sitting in mind numbing traffic stewing, ready to go off on the next innocent bystander in your path. Your plan then is to move into acceptance.  Acceptance is the key to serenity, (a little AA phrase that’s full of wisdom). Serenity is what we are all after…after all. So move it!

“You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside”-Heart of the Matter, Don Henley

Lonely- Ouch, this one hurts. (Mostly because I am often feeling this way myself). Do you need to connect with like-minded people? Do you feel isolated? Do you feel as if nobody truly understands you? Overwhelmed? HALT.  Then ask yourself “have I reached out to anyone lately?”  It may be time to tap into your support system.  Reach out to others that want to see you happy and healthy. Pick up the phone, call a friend, or schedule that much-needed therapy appointment.  Try a little DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) technique called ‘opposite action’- go outside, go to a coffee shop, or a park. Do the opposite of what you want to do, most likely it will do you a world of good, and help you to bust out of the funk of isolation.

Tired- This one seems super obvious…but it can easily go undetected and then take you down from behind.  You know the feeling, your running around doing errands, working, take care of everybody else, and/or doing things that generally don’t bring you any joy for most of your day.  This can steal the life out of you, and leave you lethargic.  Low energy is commonplace, and there many factors that contribute to it, lifestyle, lack of REM sleep, or improper diet to name a few.  HALT.  What do you need to do about this? Maybe you need to make an appointment to see your doctor to find out if there is any physiological/medical reason why, grab a coffee and keep it moving, cancel/rearrange something in your schedule so that you can rest, go to bed earlier, call in favors to your support system to help take something off of your plate if possible.  Schedule a time to re-charge.  Do it before you crash and burn, because being tired can really screw with your brain’s ability to function, and mess with your capacity to cope…with anything. Ask any new parent…or better yet deal with an overtired toddler (if you don’t have any kids then scratch your own eyes out b/c that’s basically what it feels like).  There’s a reason why sleep deprivation was used in Chinese torture, because it’s hell! Just find your way to rest, you’ll feel so much better if you do.

When you use HALT it creates         

S    p    a    c    e

(ahhh, breathe that in….)

and drives a powerful wedge between you and the reaction you don’t want to do.  It helps snap your brain out of automatic pilot which may be coming in for a crash landing.

It creates a  s  p  a  c  e   between reacting so that you can take your power back from the situation & actually consciously CHOOSE your response.

A wise facilitator of an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) group I took once said,  Response is part of the word Responsibility.  It is your responsibility to choose your responses wisely.  So again, your  power comes from consciously responding vs. reaching a breaking point and reacting.

In addition, if you are experiencing frequent negative cycles that share a common factor such as a specific behavior, drugs, or alcohol, you may have a serious addiction explore http://www.aa.org or http://www.na.org there are 12 step meetings for many types of addictions. So check yourself!

I really don’t know where I picked up the HALT method, maybe it was somewhere in the pile of self-help books I’ve read, at a 12 step meeting, or at a work training but it’s a tried & true gem.

Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem”- Lauryn Hill 

In conclusion, It’s a minefield out there ya’ll.  There are many things which trigger a negative cycle: stress, sadness, anxiety, & depression. So please…do yourself a favor & equipt yourself with HALT.  You can even do HALT(ED) add (Emotional, and Drugged/Drunk) on the end, for good measure. 

It will help you function as a better person, better all of your relationships by breaking negative cycles. Try it. Tell your momma & tell your friends, because sharing is caring. 

I’d love to hear from you regarding your experience with HALT, feel free to comment and share.