Category: Confessions

Transparency and vulnerability are two cornerstones of living a spiritual life. I share my own confessions here — to inspire yours.

I Named The Demons In My Head

I was on retreat last weekend with all the teachers from Wild Lotus Yoga.

This is the kind of staff retreat you don’t cringe at — there are no ice breaking games, no embarrassing stories, no faked camaraderie.

This was 26 yoga teachers and practitioners, coming together to practice, meditate, sing, and share. We did a little business, sure, but we mostly ate delicious vegetarian fare and had a yoga sleepover.

I arrived on Friday over-tired. I watched the thoughts in my head: “Why are we all wasting our time with this? Will anything productive happen? No one else really understands my business struggles.”

Y’all. It was a whirlwind of whining.

Yoga taught me to watch my thoughts. And in watching, to be free from them.

So I watched.

Why Do Yoga Every Damn Day

I’ll be honest, I didn’t intend to become a yoga teacher. I enrolled in teacher training very selfishly because I loved yoga, and I wanted to do more of it, and more deeply. I had no interest in sharing that with any of you, thank you very much.

Then, much to my surprise, it turns out that nothing makes me happier than teaching yoga.

I teach yoga because it changed me. It changed my body, but it also changed my perspective, my worldview, my understanding of myself, my concept of God, and my general opinion of wearing tights in public. With very, very few exceptions, my yoga practice has vastly changed my life for the better.

Now, let me clear: I don’t believe that I can change you, your perspective, or your worldview. In fact, I try to live and work under the assumption that I can’t do any of those things. But I do feel a great privilege of sharing the practice that has been shared with me, exploring and explaining it in a way that I hope is useful to you.

Because I do believe that yoga will change you.

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In January 2014 — after I quit my “real” job — I knew I needed structure so I signed up for an Iyengar Yoga Intensive at Yoga Bywater. All my favorite yoga friends raved about Heide, her teaching, and the practice. They also warned me how much it sucked. How much they hated waking up that early, and how hard it was.

I’ve come to believe that often the best things are also the worst things – so that seemingly mixed endorsement was exactly what I needed to be sold.

For nearly eight months, I woke up to practice from 7:30-9:30 am, five days a week. Ten hours a week of yoga changed my body, and quickly. I knelt with wooden wedges pushed into my knee creases, did backbends over wooden blocks, through metal folding chairs, and in ropes tied to a wall. I did handstands every single morning. I held downward facing dog for five straight minutes (eventually). I did 153,000 leg lifts. I did most of it without complaining, griping, or whining. Mostly.

The level of precision required in Iyengar practice is immense and impressive. After ten years of vinyasa yoga, and two years of teaching, I thought I knew some things about my body and alignment. In those eight months, my alignment was fine tuned — it was like before I was only spinning the Big Radio Dial to get into the general vicinity. Now I was spinning the Little Dial, getting clearer and clearer and clearer.

“My right hip is tight,” became “My anterior inner left groin is restricted, my posterior inner right groin is stuck, my right sacrum pulls to the left, and my piriformis is hypertonic.”  I can differentiate between the heads of all three hamstrings, and know which one is being pulled by my hyper-lordotic pelvis, and which one makes my knee hurt. I became acutely aware of which ribs were moving and which weren’t. I can now feel exactly where my 7th rib pulls away from my spine. My body awareness skyrocketed.

I learned the first four lines of the yoga sutras by heart. I chanted the invocation to Patanjali. I began to understand the value of this text by putting it into practice in my body.

But perhaps most important? Where I used to think I didn’t even enough “will power,” I now know my tendency is to work so hard that I injure myself. I never think what I’m doing is enough. I’m a show-off. And I hate how I look when I walk.

I learned that a teacher who sees me every morning learns what I can see about myself – and what I can’t see. She lovingly reminds me that “you think you’re doing it, but you’re not doing it.” She’s my accountability. She’s a balanced view of my practice. She shows me when to work harder and when to ease up.

And the difference between how she sees me and how I see myself is a direct measure of how much I still have to learn.

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A year ago, I started offering the same kind of short-form, intense practice in my own bhakti-infused vinyasa style. And I discovered how magical it is to watch people change in such a short period of time. To push people harder than they think they can be pushed, and also to empower them go easier on themselves. I do my best to see people lovingly yet honestly, and share what I see.

I cannot change you and I cannot make you see about yourself what you don’t see yet. But I can share what I see, lovingly and honestly. I can be a witness to your transformation. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, I can offer useful feedback that will enable you to change yourself. And I will always learn from you, I will always be inspired when you show up every morning at 6:30am, and I will always be grateful that you let me share the beauty of this privilege of teaching you. Every. Single. Morning.

If you have questions about practicing this way, send me an email.  Or bite the bullet and try it. We start Monday, January 4th at 6:30am.

I dare you.


Confessions of a Size 12 Yoga Teacher

I’m a yoga teacher and I have a dirty little secret. I’m a size 12. The last time I weighed myself, it was in the 180s. (Ugh. It hurts just to write.)

I’ve been practicing yoga for 15 years, and teaching for four. I’m in the lucky 10% of yoga teachers who teaches full-time – it’s not just a hobby.

I practice four to six hours a week. I teach ten to twelve hours a week. I eat whole, healthy foods.

I am a size 12 yoga teacher.

I have an almost schizophrenic attitude about my body and my weight. On one hand, I’m proud to sit at the front of the room, reinforcing that yoga is for everyone – for every body. On the other hand, I’m terrified that students walk in and think, “What is she doing teaching?” or worse: “If practicing yoga will make me look like that, I’m going for a run.”

I’m proud my body can do things that some skinny bodies can’t do. And I’m ashamed there are poses I don’t do because my body gets in the way or makes balance impossible.

I’ve been overweight my whole life. When I graduated from high school, I weighed 215 pounds. I was muffin-topping out of size 18s. I was miserable. I was embarrassed. I was deeply ashamed. I lived in denial.

I was hiding inside my body. I desperately wanted to be seen, and yet I was terrified of being seen.

After years of dieting and… not dieting, I joined Weight Watchers in my early 20s. I lost 40+ pounds, and at my lightest I was a size 6, weighing somewhere in the 150s.  I was running half-marathons, going to the gym, and writing down everything that went in my mouth. After I hit my goal weight, I went on a cruise. I ate so much in Puerto Vallarta that I literally made myself sick. I promised myself I would never do that again.

Shortly afterwards, Hurricane Katrina hit. I went from whole foods to fast foods in about 24 hours. In the grand scheme of things, gaining 20 pounds did not seem like a big deal. And honestly? In the grand scheme of things? It wasn’t.

For me, becoming a yoga teacher has been a process of self-acceptance. I had to accept how much I loved teaching — and that I was pretty good at it. I had to accept that I hated my day job — and I was getting worse at it by the day. I stopped telling myself there were poses I couldn’t do because of my body — and just started trying to do them. I began to accept that my body is shaped the way its shaped.

I try to make food choices that are healthy for me, without disrespecting my environment or fellow beings. I eat as little processed and packaged food as possible. I eat meat, but aim for sustainably and locally sourced options. I consume full-fat dairy, and if I could get raw milk I would. I drink way too much coffee, but choose locally owned, fair-trade when I can.

I am a size 12 yoga teacher.

I recently started writing down everything I was eating again — but for a completely different reason. I have found my energy to be stagnant and heavy, my brain not as clear as I need it to be. To be a yoga teacher my brain must be sharp. My energy is critical to the quality of my work. After 20 years of dieting and… not dieting, I finally found a loving reason to keep track of what I was eating.

Finally, I feel ready to start looking at what’s really going on — what are the consequences of my habits, and what am I willing to change? And how much difference does a difference make?

Yoga taught me a lot. It taught me how to get comfortable being uncomfortable. It taught me that I am not my body, although this body is the only one I’ll get (so I take care of it). It gave me the physical strength to do hand stands, and the emotional strength to survive disasters — from hurricanes to heartbreaks.

I teach yoga because I want other people to feel the way I feel: strong, flexible, balanced, and grateful for every day.

I came to yoga for a physical workout. I got that, but I also got something better: Peace of mind. Self-acceptance. Both a willingness and a curiosity for whatever happens next.

I am a size 12 yoga teacher.

Lately I’m experimenting with avoiding all added sugars. So far, I wake up easier and my energy feels steadier — but I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t hoping to lose a few pounds. Because who trusts a size 12 yoga teacher?

What Ingress Taught Me About Yoga: A Confession

Ingress has been my dirty little secret for the last four months. Ingress is a mobile, geolocation capture-the-flag style game. Anyone with a cell phone anywhere in the world can play, capturing real-world locations on behalf of their team, and creating imaginary links between those locations (called portals.) When you link three portals together, you create a field for your team. There are only two teams – and you pick which one the day you sign up. No takebacks.

It’s a drastically simple game — as a player, you build a score based on how many places you go, capture on behalf of your team, how many you link together, and how many fields. The team is scored on how large all current fields are, based on population density and not geographical area. There are a number of things you can only do with a team of 8 players (or more) – which mandates teamwork, especially the further you progress.

The logistics of the game are the same over and over and over again: go to a place, claim it for your team (maybe after taking it from the other team), link, field. Capture, link, field. Repeat. Over and over and over. The game is always being played. Always. Everywhere. The official slogan of the game? Ingress: The World is Not What It Seems.

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For the last four months, I have played an embarrassing number of hours of this game.  Sometimes it was just stopping in between appointments (‘let me just capture this portal on my way to work’), sometimes it was hours at a time (linking and fielding all 54 sculptures at City Park’s outdoor garden), sometimes driving long distances through the night with fellow players to reclaim key portals from the other team. I’ve been a little ashamed of it, to be honest — it didn’t seem like something a yoga teacher “should” be doing. I never crossed the line into secretive, but I could see how this could become a compulsive addictive hobby for even well-intentioned players. It got too close for comfort for me.

On November 15th, Ingress came to New Orleans for a special event called an “Anomaly.” These monthly events have special rules over a period of 4-5 hours, and players come from all over. All told, we probably had nearly 800 people on both sides playing in New Orleans.

As the host city, our local team pulled out all the stops — coordinating hotel blocks, events, tours, as well as the on-the-ground strategy for gameday. We had help from other teammates from across the country for weeks leading up and over 400 “agents” from out team played. And we won.

Perhaps the strangest irony is that this series of events is called Darsana. In yoga, darsan is what we receive from our teachers when we sit with them. It means “audience,” being able to sit in the presence of the guru. Nothing about Darasana felt like darsan to me.

This event was just like every event I’ve ever been involved in producing in many ways — the core team was stressed to our breaking point, regardless of how much we tried to prepare in advance. Teammates disagreed over strategy, tactics, coordination… and as everyone got more tired, tempers grew short and feelings got hurt. At the end of the event we all were happy to win, and yet… we were also just a little sad. Friendships and romantic relationships are permanent changed, and our team will never be the same.

As we came to the big day, I fell into my old patterns of caretaking while putting my own feelings and experience on the back burner. I ignored my own needs, because it was easier to pay attention to others’. I told myself I wouldn’t do it again, that I could set boundaries this time. But old habits die hard. We all learn the same precious lessons over and over and over again.

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The morning of the Anomaly, I ran into a yoga teaching colleague and mentor and told her I was going to “the opposite of yoga.”

This had become my narrative about Ingress: it was the antithesis of everything I was doing in my life. It was decidedly un-yogic. In some ways, it became an outlet, an escape from the intensity of my day-to-day life. Everytime I played, I felt like I was cheating on yoga, breaking some unspoken rule for yoga teachers. Shouldn’t I be meditating somewhere? Or planning a class? Or practicing myself? Instead, I snuck around “hacking portals” and “blocking links” and “destroying fields.”

I spoke exactly that way about yoga – and still do, sometimes – for the first year of my teaching. Yoga was frivolous, “woo-woo,” a thing relegated to ditzy hippies. Three years ago, every time I told someone at my old suit-wearing job that I was training to be a yoga teacher, I apologized. To my surprise, everyone I told was curious, interested, and impressed. After three years, I’ve finally begun to accept that yoga is more than I imagined, and being a yoga teacher is a more significant job than could have I expected. I might still snicker to myself when my Reiki teacher says things like “auric field” — but I’ve begun to recognize that hint of doubt as the signal of somewhere I need to grow.

When I told my friend I was going to the “opposite of yoga,” she smiled knowingly. “It’s all yoga,” she said. What a pat, trite thing to say, I thought. Lightbulb: it’s where I need to grow.

My doubts, my self-doubts especially, are the shining light where there is work to be done.

Through this whole process, I thought “these poor people who spend all their lives on Ingress. Don’t they have anything truly meaningful in their lives? What are they running away from?” Such sneaky self-righteousness. Ingress taught me just what my yoga practice teaches me: humility and compassion. Because now I’m asking myself: “Don’t I have anything meaningful in my life? What am I running away from?”

Aren’t we all running from something? Don’t we all look for an escape sometimes?

We can use yoga as an escape from the real world, or an opportunity to see it more clearly. We can imagine the yoga studio is a retreat from our daily grind, or we can see it as a place to reveal our lives to us more clearly. Every medicine can be poison if taken in the wrong doses.

I thought Ingress was an escape. In fact, it gave me an opportunity to see myself more clearly.

Now I need a new hobby.

What I learned about life from… Acting Class

My undergraduate degree is in Theatre.

Yeah, that’s right, “theatre,” with an “re.”  Just so you know how pretentious I am. Which, ironically, is not that much; I’m just a slave to the right word. Theater is a place. Theatre is the transformative artistic experience of interpreted literature that elicits an emotional transcendence. (I had to reinforce the pretentious thing. Couldn’t help it).

I was trained as a professional actress. Five days a week for three years, I started my day the same way: with the same 20-something 20somethings. We all wanted to learn how to Act. At some point we all had dreams of being the next Sarah Bernhardt or Tom Cruise. We all did our Animal Work, resulting in a literal and proverbial zoo. (If I remember correctly Ebs Burnough’s snake ended up cornering my tamarind monkey underneath a chair. It was, actually, pretty traumatizing). We used metaphors to work on Chekhov; my Masha was “a runaway train.” We had our fair share of Meisner repetitions, which is especially amusing during understated Pinter dialogue. (“Would you like some tea?” “Would I like some tea?” “Would you like some tea?” “Would I like some tea?” “Would you LIKE some TEA?” and so forth..)

The reality of the 21st century is your undergraduate degree is pretty irrelevant. With few exceptions, your BA or BS (or BSSP in my case) is simply a necessity – you will not be considered for most well paid positions without finishing college, but that’s about it. It is now simply a hurdle, no longer a certification.  The first day of our program, my acting teacher – who was also the department chair – reminded us that theatre is actually an excellent training for almost anything. And he’s right. I often tell people I have a degree in collaboration, communication, and executing projects on time and under budget. That’s pretty relevant in any position.  (He also told us not to sleep with each other.  I find that’s still a pretty good tidbit.)

I often don’t get into the nitty-gritty of what an acting class is really like, because it perpetuates a certain stereotype that all actors are crazy and dumb and self-indulgent. Which we are. But who needs to reinforce that?

But my acting teacher taught me countless lessons about far more than “just” acting – about work, and about life. These are just a few.

1. “There are three parts of your life: your work, your primary relationship, and your home. If two outta three are good, you will be happy.”

This was part of a series of lectures our senior year designed to prepare us (aka: frighten us) for the reality of being a working actor. “Your first years out of school your working life will not be fulfilling – so find a great apartment and a lover because otherwise you’ll be miserable.” I have often returned to this advice over the years because it’s accurate no matter what your profession. Work sucks? Make your house a refuge and go on a date. Love life sucks? Pour yourself into work and repaint your bedroom. It’s a simple triad, but its true — and more importantly, it works.

2. “What do you know about this?”

I heard my teacher repeat this phrase a thousand times. A successful actor simply presents a mirror to the audience – and shows them themselves. In order to do that, as an actor, you have to recognize yourself in a role. You must be human. You must reveal yourself in the most vulnerable, honest, sometimes ugly ways. (It’s no wonder that so many actors and artists are alcoholics and drug addicts – the simultaneous pressure and fear of this can be unbelievable destructive.)

Now, in my day-to-day life, when I approach something somehow foreign, something scary, possibly insurmountable, I am able to stop and ask: “What do I know about this?” What part of this is familiar? Where can I find a toehold in this seemingly unscalable mountain? Because there is always a toehold. And once you find one, you find another. And before you know it, you’re halfway up.

3. “Let it land.”

This is a hard lesson to learn, especially when you repeat the same lines over and over, night after night. You already know the realization the audience should have – you have had it with other audiences a hundred times already. But each and every audience is different, new, and you take them on that journey for the first time. When you deliver an especially key line – Let it land. This is so true in everyday life I cannot emphasize it enough. In my current profession (fundraising) it is an invaluable lesson. If you can present to someone all of the information, with just enough of a hint, and you can restrain yourself enough to Let it Land – they will come to the conclusion on their own to support you. You have not convinced them, you have helped them convince themselves. This is vitally important, because once you go away – they are still convinced. And, possibly more important, they are now in the position to convince others.

4. “Work in the High Thin Branches.”

This is just as scary in real life as it is on stage. It’s so easy in a role to “phone it in;” to play at an emotion instead of playing it.  The metaphor here is this: when you’re climbing a tree, the safe place to stop is in the first fork in the trunk.  The branches are thick as your torso, and there to support you and if you do fall, it’ll only be four or five feet and you’re likely to not break any bones.  The higher you get, the more flimsy your support, the more careful you must be – because one misstep and suddenly you’re plummeting to your death.  So why on earth would anyone climb to the treetops?  First, because of the view.  It’s amazing what you can see from up there.  And, possibly more importantly, the exhilaration.  As an actor, it’s amazing what you can see and experience in the “high, thin branches.”  It’s amazing how you feel.
The same is true in life.   The greater the risk, the great the return.  If you always stick to what you know, and where you feel safe, you will not grow, you will not develop, and you will not accomplish great things.  There are thousands of adages that encourage this (‘leap and the net will appear’ and all that) – and I think there are so many because it is so very difficult to do.  The fact of the matter is, working in the “high, thin branches” can be exhausting – always watching your step, getting vertigo from looking down – but it can also be the most fulfilling place to work.

5. Don’t be a professional artist unless you have to be.

Our summer reading before our acting class started, we were assigned Letters to a Young Poet by Rainier Maria Rilke.  This is not an easy read, for so many reasons.  The core of the first letter is: Do not do this because you want to do it.  Do it because you have to do it.  I’m pretty convinced that half of my acting teacher’s job was to weed out the weak ones and convince the rest of us that acting was the worst profession.  In reality, it’s the best lesson he could have taught me.  There is no romance in constant instability.  There is no pleasure in auditions (a good ratio: 100 auditions to 1 callback.  Imagine if that were a dating scenario, or any other job search). Acting is brutal.  And somewhere in those three years, I realized I simply was not cut out to be a professional actor.  There were other things that were too important to me.

The next thing he taught me, though, was just as important and is still core to my sense of self now: You will always be an actress.  Getting paid for it is a silly way to judge whether you are something or not.  And frankly, the most important things to me, those most core to who I am, are things I will never be paid to do.  That’s okay.  Your job is just a part of your life’s work.

6.  Do not put anything in an email you wouldn’t want the world to read.

Alas, this was not a lesson he was trying to teach, but it was taught all the same.  The year after I graduated, and two years before his impending retirement, my acting teacher sent an email to one of his students.  I cannot say I know the full details – nor do I feel comfortable repeating any, rumor mill being what it is, and all – but he sent an inappropriate email to a student.  You can only imagine the ensuing drama, but needless to say he went on a year-long sabbatical and then retired and I have no idea what happened to his pension or anything…   And honestly, I have learned this lesson myself once or twice.  We all make mistakes.

And that, perhaps, is the best lesson my teacher ever taught me.  For three years, I think he brought us on a personal and spiritual journey about learning who we were, and what we were capable of.  Nearly ten years later, I still draw on the things I learned from him almost every day.  And yet, he made one bad decision that ended his career.  Do I choose to remember him by that?  No.  I don’t.  But instead, I choose to remember him as a human being.  All his flaws, all his idiosyncrasies, but also all the joy he brought us, and challenges he made, the lectures and the encouragement and the love.

Sickness: Reality Check

I have been sick.  Like, actually sick.  For four days.  And it’s killing me.

Well, it’s not actually killing me.  That is the point of this post.

After having a vague sore throat for a few days, it hit me in the middle of a work day.  That “I have to go lay down RIGHT NOW,” feeling.  This may be my body’s way of telling me that I’m sick, because I’ve felt it before.  So at 3pm on a Thursday, I went home and got into bed, and basically stayed prone for the next 48 hours. I’ve had visits from terrific friends to bring me breakfasts and dinners and movies and well wishes.

This morning a marathon ran past my house.  It felt sort of like pouring salt into a wound.  There I was, watching hundreds of people run thousands of (cumulative) miles, and I am tired after standing up for 30 minutes.

A good and wise friend told me “the exhaustion is so hard to deal with when you are used to being on the go.”  She is quite right.

This makes me realize how spoiled I really am.  Every time I’m sick, I think of people who live with this level of exhaustion on a daily basis.  I think about those chronic fatigue, or fibromyalgia, or chemo or… anything.  Exhaustion is a major symptom of so many illnesses, and so often we judge those suffering – claiming it’s “all in their head.”  We have developed a bias in our society towards people who don’t need to sleep and can work 20 hour days and be superhuman, that we begin to think that’s real.  Or even possible.  So someone who isn’t able to do those things is somehow not just deficient, but delinquent.

So here I am, laying on my sofa, blogging (first world problems, anyone?), feeling sorry for myself because my house isn’t as clean as it should be and I have to go back to work tomorrow after not having a “real” weekend.  And disappointed because I wasn’t out running 13 or 26 miles this morning.  When did it become ok to feel that being sick makes me deficient?  As opposed to simply human. Mortal.

When is our hubris going to catch up with us, as a society?  When is my hubris going to catch up with me, as a sane human being?



What I Learned About Life… from Weight Watchers

I don’t talk about it all that much anymore.  My history as a “fat girl” stays pretty hidden – I may even be a little embarrassed, or possibly even ashamed, of it.

So for the fun of it, I’ll out myself once and for all: I am a fat girl.  I was 9’8″ when I was born, and I looked like the Michelin baby when I was 6 months old.  I always thought I was a fat kid growing up (I wasn’t, ironically – but that’s one of the lessons, so hang tight).  I started dieting in high school, and I lost some weight, but by the time I graduated I was 215.  I’m 5’6″.  It was not pretty.  I was muffin topping out of my size 18s.  Not. Pretty.

I went off to college, and thought about it a lot, and was conflicted about it, as many young women are about their weight – regardless of reality.  I lost the Freshman 15 – mostly because I lived in a 4th floor walkup and dorm food is lousy.  But 5 years later, when I came back to New Orleans, I was still in the same place.  Fat.

It was then, thanks in part to a very dear friend and soulmate, I went to Weight Watchers.  We went together.  We were both heavy, we both wanted to do something about it.  I lost 40 pounds, she lost 50.  She still had more to lose, and that was about when she lost track. But I became “lifetime” in 2005, and I have maintained at least 25# of that loss ever since.  I changed how I ate.  I started running, and changed how I thought of myself — instead of being a “theatre kid,” I realized I had some athleticism.  Katrina threw a wrench in a lot of it, and I’ve had some weights better than others.

Full disclosure: I am not at my goal weight currently.  I could stand to lose 20 pounds.  And so that leads to lesson #1…

1. It’s all about the journey.  When you’re “losing” on program, it’s easy to stay motivated.  When you have a destination in mind, when you have something to work towards, there’s tons of reinforcement.  When you arrive, it’s incredibly exciting.  And pretty quickly, it gets boring.  Contrary to what you thought, you STILL have to work just as hard (if not harder, on occasion) to “stay at goal.”  It’s like running to stand still.  Initially, that’s demoralizing.  Until you have your first taste of regaining, and then you realize: it’s about setting new goals. It’s about ALWAYS working to better, always striving towards something.  Our goals change in life, but you must always have a next step – a higher height. After I hit goal, I started running.  I’ve run 4 half-marathons.  I think part of the reason I haven’t run a full marathon is because then I’ll have to set a new goal.

2. Feedback, not failure.  Weight Watchers teaches some of the best positive thinking around.  This is one of my favorites.  It’s easy to beat yourself up when you have a setback.  A job interview doesn’t go how you want.  That perfect first date never calls you for a second. When you’re working really hard at something and it doesn’t work out (whether because of luck or just imperfect behavior) – its easy to give up.  It is human nature to allow your brain to go down that negative path, into the “spin cycle” of self-defeat.  And very quickly you realize you’re on a completely separate track going somewhere you don’t want to go.  When something doesn’t go your way, take a step back.  Stop asking and dwelling on what you did wrong, and ask instead “How could I have done that differently?”  This is also about always looking forward instead of looking back.  Feedback, not failure.

3. If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.  This is a phrase borrowed, of course, and one that I recently got in a fortune cookie.  A very similar one, that I also love, is the Einstein quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  If you don’t like the results, change what you’re doing.  Period.

4. Don’t ever assume anything about another person’s journey.  In a Weight Watchers center, when a “thin” woman walks in, there is often a vague feeling of disdain that is almost palpable. “What is she doing here? She doesn’t need to be here.”  It’s amazing how quickly we judge someone by how they appear.  It only takes once or twice for that “thin” woman to stand up in a meeting and say she lost 80+ pounds that you start to get it.  In many ways, you need meetings more once you hit goal weight.  You must constantly remotivate yourself.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  And just because a woman is thin, doesn’t mean she wasn’t once fat.

5. Finally, just because a woman looks “thin” doesn’t mean she’s happy with her weight or her appearance or her clothes fit.  I alluded to this above, and I suspect it will fascinate me my whole life.  I am relatively happy at my current weight, ironically.  I can shop in “normal” stores, I still think I’m attractive and sexy, and it seems men do too.  My physical self-esteem is tied far more to how I treat my body (sleeping enough, exercising enough, eating right) than how it looks.  And I have known women who are perfect size 6s who are far more troubled about their weight than I ever was.  So the last lesson: It’s all in your head.

This is common self-help speak.  You can change your reality if you can change how you think.  It’s that last part that I don’t even have an inkling about how to do.  Suggestions welcome.