What You Should Stop Stressing About Right Now and Why, #1 Your Weight

I wanted to do a 10-part series on the things that we stress over but really shouldn’t.  Over the next five weeks, I’ll cover Ten Things You Should Stop Stressing About Right Now and Why. I’ll post one every Monday and one every Thursday. (Yes, I’m getting started a little late, but why put my first post off until Thursday?)

I didn’t actively start caring about my weight until the summer before I was going to start college in 2004. By actively, I mean dieting, working out, and criticizing every lump, bulge, or pudgy roll. I knew I was a little chunky, and I noticed that a week of volleyball tryouts and church retreats (where I ate nothing but salad because there weren’t other choices for vegetarians) made me lose weight; I liked the weight loss. But like I said, I didn’t do anything on purpose to lose weight. Furthermore,  In high school, teachers made a point to convince us that that Twiggy-esque models in magazines were a minority and far from reality. At five foot one, I never wanted to look like those tall, skinny models anyway. Like I, said, I didn’t think about weight, or my body size all that much.

Nonetheless, the summer of 2004 I decided that I wanted to look good in a bikini when I went to Miami for college.  I started working out and going to the gym. I did a little dieting, but nothing too extreme.   Fast forward 9 years later, I’ve become weight and appearance obsessed.  I don’t know whether I ought to blame it on the media, the culture that surrounds me, or the fact that I have to wear shorts, skirts, dresses and tank tops 9 months out of the year in order not to sweat to death.  I cant say exactly when the obsession started. All I know is where I ended up.

I was looking for a specific number under 120 pounds.  In all this time, there were about 3 occasions in 9 years when I saw that number. During those occasions I was extremely active because I didn’t have a car and walked/biked everywhere. But outside of those times, I was focused non-stop on my weight.

Meal times are the three (or more) times a day I would stress about what I’m eating and whether or not it would make me fat.  You all know how frustrating and stressful it is to worry about weight.  The thinking, planning, organizing, counting, calculating, shopping, and the exercise routines from magazines… The rules, the internal debates of what I should and should not eat.  It is agonizing to see the scale go up two pounds after working out hard all week.

The only time I ever lost weight, was when I stopped worrying about it.  Nowadays,  I make sure I eat as healthy as possible (no wheat, few processed foods, no refined sugars etc.) and my body adapts accordingly by shedding extra pounds (on its own time).  It’s really that simple. You can do it too.

It’s time for you to stop worrying about a number on the scale, your BMI or body fat percentage.  Chances are, you already know the number of one of the three. But how does knowing that number help you right this second? It doesn’t change what clothes fit you, right now; it doesn’t bolster your self-esteem. It may momentarily motivate you to get in shape, but when that number doesn’t get lower after you diet and work-out hard for a few weeks, then what?  You need to forget that crap and simply focus on getting healthy.

The reality is, you know if you are doing the right things. And if you  are doing the right things your body will find a healthy weight. I’m not a doctor, and I’m sure there are exceptions, but eating right and staying active will eliminate weight problems. The number on the scale may not be a number that you like, and the “weight loss” may not happen on your schedule, but it will happen, and you will be healthy.

Nevertheless, you are going to trip-up.  Lately, I’ve veered off my diet a little bit, and I’m suffering the consequences.  Still,  there is no need to beat myself up about it.  Maintaining a healthy body is a life practice.  Just as I try to get enough sleep every night, but don’t, I also try to give my body enough nutrients by eating good foods.  If I want to live a long time so I do my best, and that’s all I can do. I don’t want to stress time and energy about a number on the scale.

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Furthermore, you have to stop worrying about how fat you think you look. As you probably know, poor self-esteem about weight and physical appearance is largely manufactured by the images we see in the media. Every day I’m reminded that if I look a certain way, I’ll be sexy. But the media’s definition of  “sexy” is wrong, and neither you nor I will ever look that way. Nothing you can do, besides having a photograph of yourself airbrushed, will remove all of the real or imagined weight-related imperfections that you have. Even if you are 400 pounds, nothing can change that in this moment. What you look right what now, is what you look like, and  you have to be confident regardless of your size.

I say, take care of your body, and your body will take care of the rest.  All it takes is healthy food and physical activity to get everything in order. What the numbers say doesn’t matter. Your body will shed any excess fat without you trying to will it away.

On a related note, I’ve realized that how I dress myself influences how I feel about my weight and/or size.  Now I’m not talking about being fashionable or frumpy. I’m talking about how tight or revealing my clothes are.  Tight jeans and t-shirts offer very little flexibility in terms of weight gain or loss. Three to five additional pounds can make a pair of pants too tight on me.  And too-tight clothes make me feel fat and worry about my weight, food choices, and exercise frequency. Furthermore, I feel that all my “fat” is exposed when I wear revealing clothes.  I’ve started wearing maxi skirts a lot now, which “hide” day to day changes in my body weight, size or shape. Quite frankly, I don’t want to go back to jeans…And over the last week, I feel that my self-esteem about my body weight/size has improved just by wearing modest skirts. Obviously, that’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

I do want to talk more about clothing, but that will have to wait until next time.

How Stress Affects the Body

So I recently saw this awesome infographic on the Secrets of the Fed website. I know the site can be a bit provocative, but you really cant argue about this image. Every time I see something about the negative consequences of stress, it reminds me to stay focused.  I’m minimalizing and slowing down for a reason.  I need a clean & calm home environment, a healthy body, and positive attitude. The only thing I can do is be prepared for stressful situations by fortifying  my mind, body and spirit, so I can handle the physical ramifications of stress.

See the infographic below:

Courtesy of SecretsOfTheFed.com  No copyright infringement intended

Courtesy of SecretsOfTheFed.com No copyright infringement intended

On a tangent here… I’ve been reading this book on holistic treatments for pet health. It’s called The Nature of Animal Healing by Martin Goldstein, DVM.  And Goldstein poses the question: why do some people and animals get sick and not others? He says that traditional medicine treats the specific illness, not the reasons why the person go sick in the first place. He suggests that illness happens not just because evil bacteria and viruses invade the body. It happens because the body is ill-equipped to deal with the evil bacteria and viruses that invade on a daily basis.

Following his reasoning, stressors weaken the body and make it susceptible to illness. Still, there will always be stressors.  I will always experience crazy drivers on the highway and annoying people who have to have their way RIGHT NOW. The only way I can deal with all of that is by strengthening my body with healthy foods, making my environment one that is supportive, and managing  my reactions to the stressors.

How to you avoid the physical consequences of stress?

Managing Stress and Anxiety: Pills or Positive Affirmations?

A couple of weeks ago, my doctor suggested I see a psychiatrist for anxiety.  Why? I had to go to urgent care because I was unable to breathe.  After a chest x-ray, EKG, and a myriad of blood tests I found out that nothing was wrong with me. I was just anxious and having a panic attack.  It seems that life’s little stressors slowly build up until my body screams out in rejection. Since that night I gasped for air for about an hour, I haven’t had any breathing problems.  Yet, I have tightness in my chest when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  Needless to say, that happens frequently.  I have to get this under control because stress can kill me.  According to WebMD, 75-90% of doctor visits are due to stress related ailments, as was my $175 doctor visit to urgent care, and I don’t need any more of those.

The only option my doctor gave me to manage the stress (and panic attacks) is to see a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist can do two things really.  They can prescribe pills for me to take on a daily basis, or they can prescribe pills to take whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious or panicky.  It’s tempting.  A legal drug that can calm me down without any conscious effort on my part. No work, no lifestyle change, just a tiny pill that can change how I’m feeling in an instant. But I won’t do it.  I hate taking pills everyday for allergies. I would have to take anti-anxiety meds forever. I don’t want to subject myself to a legal addiction. My stress and anxiety won’t go away if I don’t kill it at its source or manage it effectively. Besides, pills aren’t free. Reducing stress however, is.

Clearly, getting rid of junk and clearing my schedule (not that I’m close to being finished) isn’t enough to fix my stress problem.  I still get angry at work, at other drivers, and at life in general.  I get particularly angry at situations I can’t control, but I’m learning to deal with them.  Lately, I’ve been listening to the recordings of Sunday church sermons.  They keep me grounded.  I very rarely go to church but I like to listen to the podcasts of the sermons at my leisure.

Unity, my church, is an extremely liberal Christian church that, in my opinion, encourages members to find their own way.  One of the church’s tenants is to utilize positive affirmations to change your thoughts and to change your life. Some of Unity’s belief system has many parallels to Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret,” but Unity has been around much, much longer. That’s all I’ll say about Unity because I hate when people get preachy. I’m sure you have your own Church, Temple, Mosque, or whatever that lays down life-guidelines for you. My suggestion: follow them if they help you feel better. If you want more information about what I do, you’ll seek it out.

I digress.  I wanted to share with you some of the positive affirmations I pulled out of the church sermons; I try to focus on them when things get rough.

Following God’s guidance I move forward with enthusiasm and expectancy.

I appreciate where I am because the idea of where I want to be came to me here and now.

I am centered and poised in the perfect unfolding of all good. I let go and let God reveal my next step.

All is orderly and perfectly revealed; God is at work and in charge of my life.

God and I are a majority.

My emotions reveal the quality of my thinking, not the quality of my life.

If those don’t work for you, that’s fine.  Find your own positive affirmations that you can say and believe. But these, especially that first one, has given me a new positive attitude, and I stress, just a little less.

Other site’s to check out:

More information about Positive Affirmations

6 Affirmation Secrets to Make You Feel Better