Rocking Middle Age

Live boldly, with passion and purpose, fully engaged and awake

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Got the Grumpies?

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Do you have a good case of the grumpies? Well I have the cure: Gratitude! With Thanksgiving soon upon us, it is the perfect time of year to think about gratitude, to talk about gratitude, and frankly to “get grateful.” Is that even a proper phrase???

But how? Believe it or not, no matter what challenges you may be facing right now, there are always things for which to be grateful… even if they seem like small things like a smile from your child… a blanket to keep you warm on a cold day… time to watch your favorite program… a roof over your head… transportation to work… a $20 bill in your wallet… a cup of coffee… you get the idea.

But why? The act and attitude of being grateful will make you a happier human being.

Don’t believe me? I challenge you to give it a try.

I have developed the daily habit of writing down three things each morning for which I am grateful. Some days it is easy to come up with my list… other days, not so much.

In fact, I post my list on Facebook to my accountability partners daily. (I explain what these are and their importance here). I find that just this simple act puts me in a better frame of mind.

If you don’t have an accountability partner, you can jot your list down in a notebook or journal or on calendar. I have done it this way in the past, and it is effective as well.

There is no time like the present. Take the time to write down three things for which you are grateful right now. Yes, now!!! And feel free to share them in the comments if you’d like. I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s my list for today:
I am grateful for
# my APs (accountability partners)
# a good day of eating and movement yesterday
# the upcoming holiday season

Now let this be the beginning of a new habit. I encourage you to download my free Habit Change Checklist at the bottom of this post. It is my hope that it will aid you on your journey to gratitude.

A grateful heart is a happy heart. So let’s be grateful and happy together as we ROCK MIDDLE AGE!

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Habits are the key to changing your life... one habit at a time... use this guide to get started on the road to change!

From Good Intentions to Habit

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Over the last few years, I have read many good books about habits and their importance. Some can oversimplify the challenge of creating good ones. Many promise that if you just do it for 21 days, it is yours for life.

The more realistic approaches say it takes at least 30 days. In his book, The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod describes the process of acquiring the habit of early rising in three phases:

Days 1 -10: Unbearable
Days 11 – 20: Uncomfortable
Days 21- 30: Unstoppable

Based on my experience, I would say this is pretty accurate. By the time you finish 30 days, it is much easier to perform your new habit with less resistance from your mind. In addition, you can feel the benefits of this new habit. For example, if you started the habit of exercising 15 minutes each morning, you will be able to feel your increased energy levels and improved physical condition by the end of 30 days. These benefits will help to motivate you to maintain your new habit.

I would add, however, the importance of not becoming complacent with your new habit. It is important to recognize that letting more than a handful of days pass without doing your new found habit has the potential for throwing you back to Phase 1.

The area that I find this to be most true for me is in the area of clean eating. When I let too much processed sugar, alcohol, processed food, white flour, etc. back into my diet for too long, I can sometimes throw myself back into the Unbearable stage.

Whereas when I just shake off the dust of a bad day or two and jump back into my clean eating habit, I might feel uncomfortable for a day or so, but it passes quickly.

So here is my advice, my friend. Start small. Pick a habit that doesn’t require a lot of time or effort. Starting small is important to strengthening your change muscle. Success breeds success!

Also I recommend, at first, adding a good habit to your life rather than trying to get rid of a bad habit (for example, form the habit of exercising 15 minutes daily before trying to give up smoking). Once you have strengthened your change muscle with a handful of positive habits, you will be ready to tackle those big bad habits!

Next pick a time to do your habit. I find early in the day or first thing in the morning to be ideal, so that life doesn’t get in the way. Set a reminder on your phone or write yourself a big note so that you can’t miss it.
Then work through the first 30 days from unbearable to uncomfortable to unstoppable. Don’t let one missed day stop your forward progress. Shake it off and jump back in!

You will find that this anchor habit will be the beginning for many other positive habits. My anchor habit is exercising first thing in the morning. Exercise empowers me to face life with gusto and confidence. It is the anchor upon which many of my other habits are attached.

And then once your new habit is established firmly, guard it. Be sure not to miss more than a day or so. It is much easier to maintain a habit than to establish or re-establish one.

I have developed a simple habit change checklist to aid you with your habit change. You can get it by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post. Need more help? Please feel free to ask any questions you might have. Remember, you are stronger than you realize and together we can ROCK MIDDLE AGE!

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Habits are the key to changing your life... one habit at a time... use this guide to get started on the road to change!

Everything is difficult before it’s easy…

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What does your comfort zone look like?

Mine used to consist of sleeping as late as a mother of four could manage, a very overweight body that balked when presented with stairs or other physical challenges, just getting by, just surviving, and basically sleepwalking through my life.

You might be saying – “You call that a comfort zone?” Well yes I do.  I was used to my life as it was.  And although I wasn’t happy with myself, it felt normal.

That is not to say that I hated my life ~ I loved being a wife and a mother. In many ways I was living my dream and a very blessed life.

There were many times that I tried to change my life.  I would experience some temporary success, but then the shine would come off, and I would return to my comfort zone.

Then I discovered the power of habits.

I began to understand that my comfort zone consisted of a lot of bad habits.  I realized that I wasn’t doomed to obesity by bad genes and a poor metabolism.  I wasn’t a bad person.  I wasn’t a weak person.  I was really just repeating and repeating my bad food habits over and over.  The result was an obese woman who felt she had to throw herself up the stairs one step at a time due to her poor physical condition.  I discovered that I was, in actuality, able to change ~ one good habit at a time.

The first habit that I had to change was my stinkin’ thinkin’ (a FlyLady term that I love).  I had to learn to talk to myself kindly as I would to a struggling friend.  It took me a while to recognize all of the defeatist thinking that was going on in my head:

“I’ll never change”

“Why bother?  I will just gain all the weight back anyway.”

“I am doomed to be fat.  Just accept it.”

Now whenever I get down on myself, I start talking myself, replacing the negative with the positive:

“I am beautiful!”

“My past does not define my future!”

“It’s OK to stumble.  Just dust yourself off, Heather, and begin again!”

In fact, one of my favorite and most effective habits is my positive affirmations.  You can read more about that here.

Believe it or not, those negative affirmations in your head are part of your comfort zone.  And now it’s time to break out and start celebrating the glorious YOU that has been uniquely created by God to shine in the world. It’s time to change your stinkin’ thinkin’ and move out of your comfort zone.

As Hal Elrod said in his book, The Miracle Morning, “Everything is difficult before it’s easy.  Every new experience is uncomfortable before it’s comfortable.”  Eventually positive thinking will become your new norm.  It won’t be easy at first, but it will be worth it!  When you develop the habit of positive thinking and forgive yourself when you stumble, you will start ROCKING MIDDLE AGE!

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Habits are the key to changing your life... one habit at a time... use this guide to get started on the road to change!

Accountability

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Have you ever wished that someone would hold you accountable for your bad behaviors? I am not talking about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.  I am talking about those annoying bad habits that you just can’t seem to shake.

Your knee jerk reaction may be to say that you don’t want to be accountable to anyone.  You are your own person and don’t want to be told what to do.

I have experienced both of these feelings… the need for accountability and the need for independence…

But when I am honest with myself, I know that I need accountability more than I need to do things on my own.  I have been the most successful in changing my habits and improving my behaviors with that accountability.

The habit of overeating has been my most prevalent and deep seeded vice.  It has been something that I have struggled with since age 9.  It continued through much of my adult life… the ups and downs… the quick fixes… the terrible rebounds.  It has only been in recent years that I have tamed the beast.

I am not saying that I never struggle… it is still a daily decision to eat cleanly and in moderation… But I believe that I have discovered the secret to success…and more importantly, peace in this area of my life.  That secret is accountability, and in my case, accountability partners.

An accountability partner is someone that you check in with regularly to let her know how you are doing… the good, the bad, and the ugly…and in return you are there to support her in the same way.

Back when I first started getting my weight problem under control, I had a paid accountability partner via my Diet Center counselor.  I lost over 100 lbs. on the strength of my relationship with my first two counselors there.  I fell away from that program when the counselors to whom I felt connected moved onto new jobs.

More recently, I have developed a wonderful group of accountability partners via a fitness challenge group that I joined.  At first I just hooked up with some of the participants to be my APs (accountability partners).  But for the most part I found we didn’t click.  They weren’t really interested in checking in regularly.  But I found some really wonderful APs, once I became a cheerleader.  I took the time to support those people who took the time to post on the fitness challenge FB page.  By posting encouraging comments, I started to develop meaningful and supportive relationships with a small group of ladies who wanted to both receive and give support and accountability.  Now I can’t imagine my life without them.

So here is my advice, if you have a bad habit that you want to change or a new habit you want to form.  Find yourself some APs.  It has never been easier than it is now with the help of social media.  You do not need to go it alone.  Find a group that shares your desire for change and become a cheerleader.  And I feel certain that you will find the accountability and the APs for whom you are looking.  And before you know it, you will be ROCKING MIDDLE AGE!

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Habits are the key to changing your life... one habit at a time... use this guide to get started on the road to change!

Why???

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When I set out to find my life, I first had to find my WHYs…

Why was it so important to change?

What did I hope to gain?

What kind of person did I hope to be?

It took a while to truly nail down my list.  I didn’t want to just write what I thought should be my WHYs.  I wanted a list that really stirred my soul when I read it.  My list definitely stirs my soul:

  1.  I want eating clean to be like muscle memory.
  2.  I want to feel so good that I can take a big bite out of life!
  3.  I want to be the kind of VIBRANT wife, mother, and grandmother who shines in the life of her family.
  4.  I want to feel so good about myself physically that aging doesn’t seem like a big deal!!!
  5. I was my smile to shine brightly in the lives of others.

Hey, we are all works in progress, but it helps to have some written reasons and goals to shoot for times get tough.  What are your WHYs? Take some time to think about it and write them down.  It’s time to dig deep and start ROCKING MIDDLE AGE!  Because if not now, when?

 

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Habits are the key to changing your life... one habit at a time... use this guide to get started on the road to change!

Vision

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About six months ago, I was encouraged to make a vision board.  My first board consisted of pictures of my husband, my children, and my granddaughter… all wonderful reasons to get fit, as I do, after all, want to be around for many years to enjoy all of these wonderful human beings.

However recently I decided to make a new one.  The second board (pictured) I find to actually be much more motivating.  I have discovered the secret to motivating myself.  I have realized that I am in fact doing this for me.

Only by becoming the best version of myself can I hope to be the best wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and friend… Only when I embrace how awesome God made me can I truly bless the life of others.  God doesn’t make junk… to quote a dated but accurate saying…

What motivates you?  What is your vision? What makes you want to get out of the bed in the morning and strive to be the best version of yourself? Find your motivators and start ROCKING MIDDLE AGE!

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Habits are the key to changing your life... one habit at a time... use this guide to get started on the road to change!

The Need for Change

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There are occasions or milestones in life that can be an awakening of sorts… the death of a loved one, the divorce of close friends, the birth of a child or grandchild, a natural disaster… you get the idea… For me, turning 48 was one of those wake up calls.  My mind yelled, “You’re turning 50 soon… you are old… 50, holy moly, how can I be turning fifty???”

It took me a while to process my feelings about what about this upcoming event was sending me into a state of panic, anxiety, and near depression. Ultimately, I realized that time was ticking away,and I wasn’t living my life the way I desired.

# my weight was still a cause for constant recrimination… while no where near my highest weight, I felt like I was on a roller-coaster of quick fixes and overeating in response to the deprivation of the supposed fixes.

# my fitness was not where I wanted it to be.  I was still working out regularly, but I knew I wasn’t in the kind of shape that would allow me to age gracefully.

# I didn’t love myself.  That’s the long and the short of it.

# I didn’t value myself enough to take the time to get my sh*t together

I was blessed in so many ways… a loving husband, great kids, a granddaughter on the way, stable finances, etc… but I wasn’t happy with me.

I knew something had to change… I prayed for the something… I looked for that something… and in entered the 12 week 1fw/my1fitlife challenge. Thanks to this program, I have found

* a sensible way to eat that is sustainable

* a fitness level that I had never attained before, even when I ran a half marathon

* a love for myself… not a selfish love…not vanity… a true love that makes me happy to be me even when 50 is staring me in the face (December 21st, 2016… mark your calendar!)

* a group of accountability partners that are so incredible that they defy explanation

* a sense of adventure that I didn’t even know I possessed… who knew that this height-fearing grandmother of 2, would love to climb 30 ft. high rock climbing walls???

* an understanding of the importance of taking “me” time, even if it is early in the morning before my children awake.  I can’t care for them properly if I am not taking good care of myself.

So I am happy to report that I have found my badass spirit… I love me… I love my life… I am rocking middle age!

But what is holding you back?  What are the challenges that you need to face in order to be the best version of yourself?  What adventures would you like to embark on?

I encourage you to live your life on purpose and find your answers.  And come join me in ROCKING MIDDLE AGE!

 

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Habits are the key to changing your life... one habit at a time... use this guide to get started on the road to change!

You Have the Power

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Throughout my life I have struggled with the same self-doubts that seem to plague everyone… when they are being honest and willing to admit it!   No one, no matter how confident, goes through life without at least once or twice… or thousands of times… telling herself that she is an ugly underachiever who would be better off climbing back into bed and covering her head with her covers…or better yet just smothering herself with the pillow. This is just a part of the human condition.  We all tend to believe the one person who tells us we are awful rather than the 9 people telling us we rock.

Through the years, I have learned little techniques to help myself feel better when I am being hard on myself…usually when I am feeling particularly fat.  My favorite and perhaps most effective tool is to talk to myself in the mirror and tell myself how beautiful I am.  Yes, I actually say it out loud.  You might be telling yourself that I must really be a nut case, but it totally works for me… and as it turns out, for a lot of other people.

This year I have learned that this kind of positive self-talk is called Positive Affirmation.  Thanks to a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, I discovered that I have the power to change the way that I think about myself.  I don’t need to believe the lies that my subconscious has been whispering in my ears for all these years.  So as part of my morning routine, I now speak aloud my positive affirmations.  It has been life changing.  I am seeing so many wonderful changes in the way that I view myself, my life, my relationships, my abilities, and my future.

Here are some of my current positive affirmations:

I am letting go of the limiting belief that I cannot sustain my fitness and food routines, and that I will just gain all the weight back.  I can feed my body good food to fuel itself.  I can maintain my weight and fitness level.  I am capable of sustained change, of forgiving myself when I stumble, of taking care of my body properly, and of taking time to be active and fit.  I HAVE A ROCKING BODY WHICH ENABLES ME TO PARTICIPATE IN LIFE FULLY!  I AM AWESOME!

The scale does not define me! I am more than some number on a scale. I define me!

No matter what happens, I WILL NEVER GIVE UP!

I will be the best version of myself!

I am a BADASS!

These are some of the affirmations that are helping me embrace my age rather than lament it.  So I encourage you to discover the power of positive affirmation.  Don’t wait for others to affirm you.  Love yourself and start ROCKING MIDDLE AGE!

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Habits are the key to changing your life... one habit at a time... use this guide to get started on the road to change!

Climbing the Darn Wall!

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Earlier this year I started working on my Bucket List.  With my 50th birthday coming in December, I have been reminded all too well of being on the “back nine” to use a golfing term.  One of the items that topped my list was to scale a rock climbing wall.  During the last two summers, I had watched various family members conquering the wall at a family resort.  So as I have gotten into much better physical shape over the last year taking my fitness to the next level, I decided to give it a try this past summer… with mixed results… I was extremely proud of myself for giving it a go, but I was less than satisfied with how high I was able to go.  My fear of heights coupled with the difficulty of the wall itself (ie. the foot- and hand-holds were not placed as closely together as I would have liked), had me saying “Uncle” before I had made it more than 6 feet off the ground.

After reflecting on my experience, I decided that another attempt in a different, more user friendly environment was called for.  Darn it all, I had conquered bigger obstacles than this (for example, taking up running for the first time at age 41 and running my first half-marathon), and I was not going to let a silly wall get the best of me.  I was determined that even if I had to pay for a private lesson, I was going to conquer my fear and the stupid wall!!!

So when I saw a Groupon for a local rock wall climbing facility, I jumped at it, getting one for both my 16 year old daughter and myself.  Well I can’t adequately explain how empowered I felt when I scaled more than one of the walls.  It was scary as hell at the beginning… I wanted to get down off the wall… I wanted to have my feet on terra firma… I wanted to forget that I ever wrote this challenge on my bucket list… But I decided that I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t overcome my fear… so step by step, handhold by handhold, I pushed forward… and honestly I can say that by the end of our time there, I was enjoying myself… my heart was no longer beating out of my chest… I felt confident in my abilities… and I am actually looking forward to returning to do it again.

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So what would you like to try? What is on your bucket list?  What fear do you need to overcome?  It’s not too late.  LET’S KEEP ON ROCKING MIDDLE AGE!

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Habits are the key to changing your life... one habit at a time... use this guide to get started on the road to change!

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