What Feeling Squishy on My Birthday Taught Me + Lessons on Habits & Feelings

This isn’t just another “New Year, New Me” post. It’s not another weight loss journey. And it’s not about learning to love myself.

Well, actually, that last one. It’s all about that. And it’s hard.

I was enjoying a new coffee shop on my birthday, surrounded by my favorite books and journals. Alone. And so happy for the solitude. Every few minutes I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, trying to adjust the waistband on my pants to somehow shrink the soft and squishy belly that is oozing out.

“Stop it, Mandy; your weight does not define who you are.” “Be gentle with yourself; it’s been a busy few months.”

I pull down my over-sized sweater to ensure that there is no spillage visible. I’ve always liked oversized, boho style clothes. The flowy nature, sheer comfort of being able to breathe freely and the layers. All the layers. 

I got called out a few weeks ago though. By my parents. “Mandy, there you go, wearing all of those giant clothes again, covering yourself up.” I defended my wardrobe through warm tears that poured down my round cheeks.

I’ve reflected a lot lately. I’ve learned new meditation techniques. I am studying self-compassion. I’ve earned my Life Coach certification. I am doing the work.

So why the hell do I still find it impossible to be deeply happy with myself?

This is not about accepting myself. This is about the realization that I am numbing. I am numbing with food (cheese, please), but mostly alcohol. Am I an alcoholic? No, but that’s another post. As a wife, the mom of a 2 ½ year old boy, a full-time college instructor, and a brand new entrepreneur; I’m busy.

Brene Brown says, “Shame enters for those of us who experience anxiety because not only are we feeling fearful, out of control, and incapable of managing our increasingly demanding lives, but eventually our anxiety is compounded and made unbearable by our belief that if we were just smarter, stronger, or better, we’d be able to handle everything. Numbing here becomes a way to take the edge off of both instability and inadequacy."

Ding, ding, ding. Lightbulb moment. As a teacher, I love those.

What do I do when I feel overwhelmed?

I sit on the couch each night after a long day and drink a couple glasses of wine and snack on all the things. For the last 6 months that has become my “down” time. Lovely, right? Drinking calories and eating even when I’m not hungry as I stare at the TV for 2 hours. But I deserve it, I tell myself.

In this couple of days of reflection, the reality is that I am disappointed with myself. The good news is that I have a toolbox full of tools to help me shift that perspective.

A bit of self-compassion here {Mandy, this is all so hard and a lot of it is new} and some reframing there {Mandy, it is clear that you are not happy about the habits you have created, what do you want to do to change them?}

Habits are hard. I have a lot of habits in my life that I am happy about, and now I see that I have some negative ones that have taken control. Gretchin Rubin wrote a whole book about them. It was not surprising that my result from taking her Habits Quiz, was that I am considered an Obliger.

Obligers respond readily to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. In other words, they work hard not to let other people down, but they often let themselves down.

Obligers may find it difficult to form a habit, because often we undertake habits for our own benefit, and Obligers do things more easily for others than for themselves.

For Obligers, the
 key to forming habits is to create external accountability.

 And there you have it. I have no problem letting myself down.

Do I readily let my son or husband down, Hell NO! My clients or new business endeavors? Over my dead body. My students? NEVER! But myself? Yep, I just put myself right on the back burner. Oy.

So, I have resorted to “taking the edge off” by being sedentary, drinking a couple of glasses of wine, eating cheese and staring at the television. I do a ton of other really great things during the day! But these numbing habits have stolen my mojo.

I’m excited for this journey. Another growth opportunity. I don’t like feeling squishy, I enjoy feeling strong and athletic. And because I am becoming fluent in The Desire Map as a facilitator, it means I have been practicing a lot on my own.

If a feeling is much stronger than a thought, and I have negative thoughts AND feelings about myself, well then it’s time to shake things up!

Danielle Laporte says, “You’re not chasing the goal itself- you’re chasing the feelings that you hope attaining those goals will give you.”

When I jam on my Core Desired Feelings in the Body & Wellness section of my life, I want to feel:

strong, badass, fast, fortified, toned, fierce, unshakable, lean, flexible, athletic, nourished, alive, boundless, confident, energized, fresh, revitalized, holistic and feminine.

So, what am I doing about it? Lots of things. Signed up with a badass personal trainer {Shout Out to the magical Hilary Paris in West Seattle}, started eating chicken + bone broth (after being a vegetarian for 12 years), began the Whole 30 program, and committed to 30 minutes of meditation each day. 

Basically, I am learning how to listen to my body.

How do you want to feel? In your relationships? In your career? In your body? In your spiritual life?

What REALLY makes you feel lit up, and how often to you feel that way in your daily life?

If you yearn to find your Core Desired Feelings, let's chat! 

Comment below on how you want to feel. May you feel those feelings often in 2017.