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Happy Thanksgiving!!

What are you grateful for?

Can I Accept Myself and Still Lose Weight?

I believe that in order to lose weight easily and permanently, and not be completely neurotic like Monica on Friends, you need to love and accept yourself as you are now.  That includes your fat and everything else you may not like about yourself.  

That's a really hard thing for most people to do.  We have this belief that we have to be perfect or at least perfectly thin in order to like ourselves.  We will only be able to like ourselves when we are finally thin and then everything will be wonderful.

I think the reality is the exact opposite.  We have to like and accept ourselves just as we are now IN ORDER TO BE THIN.  The more we beat ourselves up, the harder it is to lose weight. 

Try liking yourself and forgiving yourself when you screw up - notice how much better you feel and how much less you need food to make you feel better.

When you truly like and accept yourself, it's a lot easier to find things that are better than food.

5 Strageties for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are coming up and most people typically gain weight over the holidays.  You can avoid this weight gain (and maybe even continue losing) with a few simple strategies to avoid temptation and lower your stress, not to mention really enjoying yourself!


1.  Plan ahead:   Just even thinking through your schedule and anticipating where you might run into trouble can help you avoid it.  For example, if you know you're going to a party right after work, pack some healthy snacks to eat at work before you leave for the party so you're not starving when you get there.

2.  Eat Very Slowly - and really taste and enjoy what you're eating.   Take the things you really like, but take half of what you ordinarily would and just eat it very slowly and really taste what you're eating.  Pay really close attention to your food, especially if it's something  you really like.  It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so if you eat slowly, you give your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach.  Plus, you will actually enjoy your food more.

3.  Exercise More - Adding a little exercise here and there (perhaps a 5 or 10 minute walk around the house, office or outside if the weather is good) can really help lower your stress level and help keep you happier and less likely to overeat in the first place.

4.  Don't Overbook Yourself or have unrealistic expectations.  Pick and choose a few parties and events that you and/or your family would like to attend rather than trying or feeling obliged to go to everything.  You and your family come first.  It's okay to say "no."  Really!

5.  Most Importantly - Concentrate on Other Things Besides Food or alchoholic drinks that you enjoy this season.  Spending time with friends and family that you don't see daily; decorating the house; outdoor activities and anything else that you really enjoy about the holidays.  Sit down this week and make a list of everything you like about the holidays that doesn't include food or drinks and really focus on those - see if you can add a few more things to the list this year.

Is the American Dream Dead?

I just read a blog on the new book by Suze Orman called The Money Class, due out in March 2011.   According to the blog, Suze believes that the American dream of owning your own home, working in one job and retiring at age 65 is dead.   I disagree - I don't  believe that really is the true American dream.  I don't think that particular version ever showed up in American society before the advent of baby boomers and home loans - i.e. about the 1940's or 1950's.  I think we owe that particular version of the American dream to the banks which also brought us junk bonds, the Savings and Loan debacle and the current situation with home mortgages. 

I believe the real American dream is about opportunity.   For some it was and is the opportunity to practice your religion free from persecution, for others it was the freedom of opportunity to start a business and make a living or buy a farm.   I think if we asked our parents, grandparents or great grandparents why they came to this country - it wasn't to own a home, work in one job for your entire career and retire at age 65. 

The Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  That is the real American dream.   And I believe it comes in a lot more flavors that just owning your own home, working for someone else your entire career and retiring at age 65.  And I believe that this has always been true, even in the 1950's.

Not to belittle the joys of owning  your own home - but it isn't the be-all and end-all of life.   Working for someone else is also not everyone's dream and never was.   Which, if you think about it, is a very good thing.   Someone has to take the risks and start the companies that drive the economy and  hire all those people.

I think opportunity is still alive and well in America if you are willing to work hard and work smart.  If anything, there is more opportunity for those who are willing to open their own businesses and embrace change than there ever have been.

Owning your own company also provides you with lots more opportunity than working for someone else.  Flexibility, higher incomes, chances to grow and change in areas you are interested in and meeting many more people than you would working for someone else.

It's really easy to see the downsides of being unemployed - but self-employed is far better than employed in my book. 

Now on to retiring at age 65 - Considering that life expectancy is now around 80 - 85, who wants to spend 20 years doing nothing.  The concept of retirement might make sense at 75 or 80, but if you really love what you do, then it's better for your health to keep working.  So maybo work part time instead of full time. Or look into a second or third career?  

I think it's a good thing that those ideas are "dead".  They were right for a few people, but not everyone. 

Certainly not me.   I don't intend on ever retiring and I'm on my third career and working for myself, not someone else.  I work 25 hours a week, and spend the rest of the time with my family and my horse.   I no longer work 60 hour weeks working for a large company with little or no control over my hours. 

That's my "American Dream"

What's your "American Dream?"

Dealing with Personal Loss

I had to put my dog to sleep Tuesday.   He was 14 1/2 years old and very sick, so it was expected.   It had just been a matter of time and how to handle it with my son, who is 4 1/2 years old.    It finally got to the point where we had to make the decision.   

Most companies provide family leave of a month or so for illness in your immediate family and usually 3 days or so if a person in your family has passed away.   If you own your own business, you get nothing - the business suffers or grows depending on how focused you can be.  And even if you work for someone else,  grief doesn't fall into a proscribed time period.  And when you're grieving, your entire life is affected.  You are affected both physically and mentally.  Grief is very draining phsically and very distracting mentally.  I've mentioned The Grief Recovery Handbook before as a very useful tool for dealing with grief, but you still have to go through the process.  You may or may not be back to work and your full productiviy within that 3 days.  

If it's a close family member, you may not be.   Sometimes pets are closer family members than your relatives.   I've grieved far more for my pets than I did for some of my relatives and their deaths affected me more. But the death of a family member, expected or unexpected, is usually much more complex than the death of even a beloved pet, which makes it much harder and a much longer process.  

So how do you deal?  "Life goes on..." as they say.  We're people, not robots.  We can't just turn our emotions on and off like a switch.   Grief and loss are normal parts of life and so are the emotions that come with.   I don't think I have any answers, but I do have a few suggestions:

  1. Be extra kind and caring for yourself.  Grieving takes a lot out of you, so be patient and take extra good care of yourself for a while.  Remember you must take care of yourself first, before anyone or anything else.
  2. If you work for a company, have a talk with your manager.  Be honest about what you are going through and work with your manager to find solutions to your workload together until you can be 100% back to normal.    Don't pretend you're back to normal when you're not.  Either your job or your health will suffer in the long run. If you own your own business, advance planning is key.  The time to figure out how to keep your business going in the case of a personal emergency, whether death or disability, is before anything happens - when everyone is healthy and productive.  Having people you can delegate to and trust is important.   Maintaining good relations and open, honest communications with clients is also key.   Your good clients will be very understanding and willing to work with  you in times like this.  It's up to you to keep that relationship good so that they will be supportive when something happens.
  3. Deal with your grief and related emotions (anger, sadness, loss, disappointment, relief, etc).  Don't ignore them.  Emotions don't go away until we accept and express them.  It's like trying to put a lid on a boiling pot without turning the heat down.  It just keeps boiling until it explodes.  Often we can't necessarily express our grief whenever we feel like it.  Sometimes you have to set aside time to let your feelings out when it is safe to do so.  
  4. Get support.   Don't isolate yourself in your grief.  Grief shared is grief lessened. 
  5. If your life is affected and you don't seem to be getting better, get help.   There are professionals who specialize in working with grief and loss.

I'm still grieving but I'm dealing pretty well.  My dog's death was expected, so I had lots of time to prepare, and it wasn't complex. 


Taking Responsibility for The Circumstances of Your Life

My friend Linda Anger came to my NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) group Wednesday and spoke about the power of perseverence.  It was a great talk and I really wanted to highlight one of the things she said.  It was a question that I think is critical:

"Are you willing to take 100% responsibility for the circumstances of your life?"

You wouldn't ordinarily expect a question like this from someone like Linda - she's talking partially about her experience with cancer.  So how could she be responsible for her cancer?  Most of us equate responsibility to blame or fault.  The cancer is not her fault, nor is she to blame for getting cancer.  NO ONE is ever to blame for getting cancer.  There are things like diet and lifestyle changes that you can do to improve your chances of preventing some types of cancer, but there are no guarantees. 

However, what about responsibility?   My answer to that is "YES!"   

Jack Canfield has a formula ("How to Build High Self-Esteem" & "The Success Principles")  that states that "E (event or circumstance) + R (response) = O (outcome or result)"     We can't change the event.   Last time I checked, the only place you can go back in time is your memory or a book.  There's no way to stop or change an event after it has happened.   So how do we change the outcome?

Responsibility is really the ability to respond to events (such as cancer) that happens.  That's where the word comes from after all.   Responsibility is the only way to we have to affect the outcome.  The more you are willing to take "response-ability", the more you can change the outcome.  Linda's outcome was great!  The treatment was successful and she looks wonderful. 

The more you want to focus on blame or fault, instead of what you can do to change the situation, the less you can do about it.  And that means your chances of getting the outcome you want go down.  

I'm not much for gambling with things I can't afford to lose, such as my health or business.   I'd rather focus on what I can do to change it.

How about you?

"There is Nothing Either Good or Bad but Thinking Makes It So" - Shakespeare

About 3 weeks ago, my mother was sent to the emergency room for a very fast heart rate.  She had gone to the doctor because she had been running a low fever and was feeling kind of lousy,  expecting to go home with a prescription for antibiotic and cough medicine.   Her pulse was very rapid, so her doctor did an EKG.  He was concerned about what he saw and sent her to the emergency room.

I certainly wasn't expecting to get a call from my mom at dinnertime saying she was in the emergency room and had been since 3 pm (and that's a whole different conversation).  And I really wasn't expecting to have my mom tell me that they had found a very large aortic aneurysm when I got there about an hour later.   They found it by accident trying to figure out what was causing her heart to race.

My mother was admitted to the hospital that night and the next few days were a bombardments of tests, IV antibiotics and caridiologists.  She was stunned and overwhelmed.    I was confronted with the fact that my parents were getting old and I wasn't really ready for that - and neither were they.  This is another whole separate conversation that I will post about another day.  It was just completely unexpected.  Neither of my parents have ever really been sick with anything more than a cold or sinus infection since I was a baby.  It's usually me on the short end of that stick.

We had to learn very quickly what an aortic aneurysm was in detail and what the risks were of having an aortic aneurism.  It's very serious.  They usually don't show up and don't have any symptoms.  Either you find out by accident, like my mom did, or you keel over dead very quickly when it ruptures.  There isn't time to get to the hospital or get into surgery.  

If they find the aortic aneurism before it ruptures, the treatment is open heart surgery to replace the part of the aorta that has weakened.   There are no long term consequences if the surgery goes well and there are no complications. 

My mother had open heart surgery a little less than a week after she was admitted, after they treated her for the infection that was the original cause of the visit to the doctor.  The surgery was successful and she's now at home and recovering.   There's a very good chance that she'll live for a very long time now.  

The misfortune of having to go to the hospital for an infection saved my mother's life and may save her brother's, her children's and grandchildren's lives as well, including mine.  It's very likely that she would have died in the next few years if they hadn't found the aneurysm.  Her misfortune was very good fortune indeed.

They don't know what causes aortic aneurysms.   It may be all or partially genetic.  Knowing that we are at risk allows us the choice of being tested for it.  

It's your choice how you view the events and conditions in your life.  Things that initially seem bad, such as my mother being in the hospital, often turn out to have wonderful opportunities or good luck.  It's just a question of seeing it the right way.

What will turn out to be the wonderful opportunities or good luck in your life?   It's worth looking.


Do you feel unappreciated or unrecognized for the job you do?  Do you have more responsibility without the title and compensation to go with it?  Do you feel like there's no communication at your company?    Feel like you're at a dead-end?  And things are not going to get any better at the company you're at, but you're afraid of ending up in exactly the same situation if you change jobs?  Are you really frustrated, stressed out and angry?  And no one can help you?

If you feel this way, you're probably right.  No one can help you.  You built the box you're in, and only you can get yourself o

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