by Michele Zehr
You’ll notice this blog post is covering the last 4 weeks. Life has not been working in its “normal flow” for the past month, and much of this time I’ve been in remote places without electricity/internet, etc. This whole time period also started with Mo telling me that he’s taking the month off to decide if he’s going to continue training people, which was actually perfect timing since I wasn’t home for much of the month. He’s been doing this for decades and feels called to expand his creative vision in this world. I totally get it and encourage anyone who feels called to make a change to seriously consider doing so, as otherwise we aren’t happy. So this time period has been like pushing the pause button for him and me. I will share that once I returned from all of my travels, he did tell me that he’s going to keep a few clients and that I am one of them, so we’re going to start our work again in June! With that said, when he told me this news a month ago, I felt my heart drop into my stomach and a huge wave of fear come over me. Can I do this on my own? Will I keep working out and eating healthy without help from him? Will I just slide back into old habits and patterns?
I decided to embrace this past month for what it was….an opportunity. I could have spent the whole time in a state of fear but that accomplishes nothing. I feel like it’s been a great opportunity to take a litmus test of “where I’m at” if left to my own devices, so this is why I call this past month “the experiment.”
With the lack of Mo’s input also came a great deal of traveling. I wasn’t staying in hotels this time around, but was in remote locations such as the Mojave Desert and then back on the east coast hanging out in the Appalachian Mountains. My entire schedule shifted and some of these places were not the types of places that you “go for a casual run,” as the Mojave in particular offers many hazards if one isn’t being mindful of where their foot is being placed (think rattlesnakes and jumping cholla cactus). Up until this current week (today is 5/13/15), I’ve not had my regular running regimen, but I’ve also been more active than when I’m home simply because living outdoors requires a lot more constant activity. Part of this month included co-leading a backpacking trip for women, so humping 35lbs of gear up and down mountains is a great form of exercise. I’ve noticed how the worry starts creeping into my thoughts (the black and white thinking again), and I’ve had to remind myself a lot that even though my routine could not be “perfect,” that I was still being active in the safest ways available to me.
I also decided to see what would happen if I stopped food journaling since nobody would be looking at it anyway and this month’s meals would be very different since I was not always in locations where there were even kitchens. If I’m totally honest, food journaling is my least favorite part of all of this. I had to make a deal with myself though and be totally honest with what I was observing (versus writing down). I have to say that my eating habits weren’t horrible, but they were definitely a little more “loose.” For example, Mo and I have talked about how dark chocolate (in small quantities) is perfectly fine. I try to keep some dark chocolate around and what I’ve noticed is that without my food journal, I can’t remember how often I’ve been eating it. This was my overall experience too, not quite remembering what I’d eaten 4 days ago, so I have to say that I’ve learned that keeping a food journal (at least for now) is something that I need to do. I have one last bit of travel that I’m departing for tomorrow. All of the other travel was work-related but this next trip is all for me. I’m going to a silent meditation retreat where really healthy food is served and I’ll be in a beautiful place. I’m really excited about this as it’s a huge chunk of “self-care time” that will allow me to reflect not only on this particular journey, but on the totality of all that is unfolding in my life right now. I’m excited to take my running gear and get that routine started again during this retreat, as I’ll be in a place that supports this. I will not have my computer, though, so my food journal will have to be hand written which is fine. So the experiment showed me that living a healthy life-style has seeped into my DNA enough for me to not totally revert back to old habits, but that I still need to use a few tools to hold myself accountable. I’m really glad I had this opportunity to check in with myself around all this.
Cleaning Out the Closet
Now within all of this, I finally had to take time to clean out all of the clothes that no longer fit me—which was most of my closet. I pulled down bags of smaller sized clothes from the attic and I went through absolutely everything. I had NO idea this was going to be such an emotional process. I found myself holding up a shirt that was clearly too big for me now and saying, “Well, maybe I should hang onto this just in case.” I realized that for the clothing I liked to wear before I started this journey, that a sense of ‘safety’ was somehow attached to some of them and it was really hard to let these clothes go. I’m sure many of you know this story, “But what if I gain the weight back and will have to go out and buy all new clothes again?” There is a lot of emotional “stuff” attached to our clothing and I hadn’t expected this to be the case. In the end, I had 5 huge bags of clothes that I donated, and I have two bags of clothing that still don’t fit, but I’m able to wear clothing I haven’t worn in YEARS, so it was a great feeling. I’ve made a declaration and commitment to myself through this process. I AM NEVER GOING BACK! I know this in my heart now, so this was how I found the courage to let go of clothing that I still liked, but that was too large on me now. The other side of this is that Mo has been strongly encouraging me to purchase some new active-wear that fits me instead of hanging off me. Oh boy….this meant I had to go shopping, which is my least favorite activity in the world!
I had a date set to finally go buy some new active wear that really fit my body and then that day came and went. And another day came and went and another and another. My experiences with finding clothing that both fit me and that I actually like are few and far between. It’s also much more difficult to find stylish clothing once you reach a certain size and this had been my memory of shopping for a while now. To my GREAT disbelief, this shopping trip would be joyfully different.
After going through my clothes, I had plenty of jeans and t-shirts but I needed stuff to wear to work out in or just be active in, and Mo had been pressing me about getting stuff that fit my body. I’ve already shared that I’ve never liked tight-fitting clothing. I feel so exposed, and I’ve had to do some serious soul-searching around this, because I’m aware that for many years my clothing served to hide parts of my body (which is where the emotional safety connection came in). And yet another way of looking at this is that for all those years, my clothing was also used to “keep me small” or “invisible” to the world. What I mean is that I was hiding parts of myself and if there’s anything I’ve learned through this journey and really over the past year is that keeping myself small is never going to work, as I’m a big energy in this world and I’ve finally come to love this about myself. I had to approach this shopping trip with a radically different attitude than ever before.
I went to Kohl’s. I went on a Friday afternoon and each time I looked at something that I knew was the direction to move towards, I found this dialogue of resistance automatically filling my head. “That’s not your style.” “That’s too feminine for you.” “That’s to revealing.” I decided that this shopping trip was about redefining my athletic image. Instead of the baggy cut-off sweats I’d normally wear, I was going to choose items that showed my lines. This was HUGE for me. This wasn’t about being something I’m not, it was about seeing who I’m becoming. I am an athlete. Period. Athletes celebrate and live IN their bodies. They don’t try to hide them out of shame or fear. I am ready to celebrate my body and live in it fully. So I ended up having probably the most positive shopping experience of my life. Once I released the old stories, I had too many choices and that was a totally different type of overwhelm. I finally settled on my choices which included body-hugging shorts (instead of my normal baggy cargo shorts), yoga pants, tank tops, long-sleeved shirts, short-sleeved shirts, and a few athletic jackets. All of these items are form-fitting. When I stood in front of the mirror with one of these new outfits on, I was shocked that I actually looked athletic. I was also shocked to see how much smaller my body really is now. Yup, I’ve still got some lumps and rolls here and there, but they are slowly disappearing. For the majority of my life I’ve worn baggy clothing that hid my lines so even when I was more fit in years past, I never really “saw” my body. This is a lesson Mo has been preaching to me pretty much since the beginning. I didn’t believe him at first when he told me, “You will feel motivated to keep working when you can see your body changing by wearing clothing that fits.” In fact, he’s totally right. Once I saw an athletic version of myself staring back from the mirror, I just wanted to keep going. That’s never happened before.
So the timing of all of this was pretty incredible. This past month could have been my doorway to saying, “Screw it!” I could have chosen to be a victim and said to myself, “Oh poor me, my trainer may not work with me anymore, so I might as well just quit.” Instead I said, “Oh powerful me! I’ve gotten this far and I at least know I can keep running 20 miles a week and eating healthy because it’s working. I’m never going back…with or without a trainer.” Then I went and shed all types of self-limiting beliefs around my clothing, and I’ve emerged as a woman who now feels excited about not only being, but looking athletic. I’d say it’s been a successful month and the best part of all….Mo and I are still going to work together!
P.S. If you decide to sign up with Mo because of this blog, please mention you heard about him because of Michele’s Blog. Mo offers every customer a free session for each referral, so I’d appreciate it greatly. Thank you.