Friday, April 30, 2010

Pray It Off PERSERVERANCE April 29, 2010 Meeting WITH VIDEO

9 Smart Perseverance Tips

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. ~ William Feather

Perseverance, or persistent determination, is a common personal development topic, and therefore I will not be discussing perseverance in its traditional sense. What I will be discussing is smart perseverance. The problem with the traditional concept of perseverance is its vagueness. When should you persist and when should you just quit and move on? When is perseverance smart, and when is it just a waste of time?|
Smart perseverance simply is a conscious persistent determination. It involves regularly evaluating each one of your goals and actions deciding whether or not you should keep going. The following tips will shed a lot more light on smart perseverance.

1. Pursue Your Heart’s True Desires.
Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. ~ Unknown
A lot of the time we aren’t really going after what we want because of fear or insecurity. We end up pursuing lives that never even feel like they are truly our own, instead they are just what society and others consider appropriate. On your death bed do you want to look back on your life with regrets? This is why you must really go after what your heart desires. It can be difficult to find your hearts true desires because of social conditioning and many of society’s implied rules which you are raised with. You must approach it like an innocent young kid, who sees a world full of endless possibilities. Once you are pursuing your heart’s true desire, smart perseverance takes care of itself. You will be naturally motivated to pursue your desires.

2. Do Not Confuse the Means with the Ends If asked, what do you want out of life? Most of us would conclude happiness. We all want to lead happy satisfying lives. However sometimes we associate the wrong things with happiness. It’s common in a capitalist society that money is associated with happiness. This is done in TV shows, the movies, and advertising. Money is necessary however it’s important to realize that it’s just a mean to an end. The problem is that a lot of people pursue making lots and lots of money as one of their goals. And once they make the money they realize that long-term money by itself never makes a person happy. Your real goal should be happiness. And once you make this clarification you will realize that there are many more means to happiness than just money. As an example building friendships with fun exciting happy people will always add to the quality of your life, and leave you feeling happier. Giving back to your community will also increase your happiness. Taking time to reflect on all of the great things that you have been blessed with in your life will also make you happier.

3. Do Not Give up Because of Laziness.Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. ~ Thomas Alva Edison
An easy happy satisfying life is an ideal. There are no shortcuts to happiness. Life is a journey not a destination. Living a lazy easy lifestyle will never be satisfying in the long run. In fact it usually leads to feeling a light depression. Living a happy satisfying life is hard work.

4. Do Not Give up Because of Slow or Lack of Progress.
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. ~ Dale Carnegie
This will take care of itself if you are pursuing your heart’s true desires, because your desire will be so strong, that progress will become irrelevant. However there still will be times where you might become discouraged because of the slow or lack of progress. Remember that while in a movie you can see a character progress or change his whole lifestyle in a matter of 2 hours, in real life progress is much slower. This is why most people don’t stick with their goals. Aim for steady slow progress.

5. Success is Closer than You Think.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. ~ Thomas Alva Edison
Success might just be around the corner. Even if it’s not, by persevering in pursuing your goal you are building a great lifelong habit. If you give up on your goal, how do you know that you will not give up on your next goal or the one after that? Be careful not to make giving up a habit. If you hang in there and keep working at it, you are building a persistent determined character.

6. Be Flexible & Willing to Change. Do not let your current identity or self image limit the pursuit of your goals. Be willing to make changes, to try new things, and to learn new skills. Be willing to look like a fool every now and then. Remember that if you keep doing the same things you will always get the same results. So to achieve a new goal you must slowly make changes and try different things.

7. Start Visualizing. Visualization is very powerful especially as you use it more and more. Whatever goal or endeavor you are pursuing, close your eyes and start visualizing yourself as having achieved it. Visualize how happy you feel as a result.

If, for example, you are pursuing weight loss then visualize a thin version of yourself with your ideal weight and body shape. Visualize how lean your body looks, how well clothing fit you, how confident and happy you are with your amazing body shape. Visualize how energetic you are. Visualize becoming a lot more successful in other areas of your life because of the confidence you now have from achieving your weight loss goal. Daily review your goals, and visualize achieving them.

8. Add Emotions to Your Goals A goal is just a goal, a few words or sentences. However once you add emotions, it starts becoming part of you. Achieving that goal becomes a strong part of your character. Let’s say you set the following goal “I want to lose weight”. This is a very plainly stated goal. What does it look like when you add emotions? “I want to lose weight because I’m sick of always having to buy new clothing that is a size or two bigger. I want to lose weight because I’m sick of looking in the mirror and seeing all those fat rolls.” The more emotional reasons that you come up with for why you must achieve a goal the better. You should regularly review and add to your list of reasons.

9. Regularly Review these Words of Calvin Coolidge “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pray It Off REST OF 4/22/10 Meeting

Salmon Florentine

You'll be hooked on the scrumptious taste of this meal; plus, it provides a hefty 8 grams of ticker-protective polyunsaturated fats.
From the November 2009 Issue Self Magazine
Serves 4
• 2 packages (10 oz each) frozen spinach, thawed
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/4 cup minced shallots
• 2 teaspoons minced garlic
• 5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
• 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
• 4 skinless salmon fillets (6 oz each), rinsed and patted dry
• 1 recipe Quinoa Pilaf With Pine Nuts
1. Heat oven to 350°. Squeeze spinach of all excess liquid. Set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Add spinach, tomatoes, salt, pepper flakes and pepper; cook, stirring, 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; let cool about 15 minutes. Add ricotta; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pack about 1/2 cup spinach mixture on top of each fillet, matching the shape of the fillet. Place fillets on a rimmed baking sheet or in a glass baking dish; bake until cooked through, 15 minutes. Serve with Quinoa Pilaf With Pine Nuts.
334 calories per serving, 14 g fat (3 g saturated), 11 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 43 g protein

FREE TO BE ME - Francesca Battistelli

At fifty-five years of age I'm still looking for a dream
A war's already waged for my destiny
But You've already won the battle
And You've got great plans for me
Though I can’t always see

‘Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

When I was just a girl I thought I had it figured out
See my life would turn out right, and I'd make it here somehow
But things don't always come that easy
And sometimes I would doubt, oh


And you’re free to be you

Sometimes I believe that I can do anything
Yet other times I think I've got nothing good to bring
But You look at my heart and You tell me
That I've got all You seek , Oh
And it’s easy to believe
Even though

(Chorus) 2x

We started ACTS this week; please join us.

April 22, 2010

• Discuss your self-esteem vs. your self-acceptance. Do you accept and love yourself like God does?
• Are you self-critical? Go around the table and each person say one good thing about YOURSELF.
• Do you have self-doubt related to losing weight and KEEPING it off – discuss? How can you remove this doubt?
• Are you nicer to others than you are to yourself? Why?
• Are you committed to a lifetime of personal growth – discuss specifics.
• Do you have arthritis? Discuss how weight loss and exerciser has helped it.
• What do you think of looking into hormones and metabolism? Will you? Can you help the PIO group with what you find?
• What fish did you eat last week? Can you eat three servings of fish next week?
• Say the Hail Mary to Close the Group.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others” 1 Peter 4-10

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pray it Off Meeting April 22, 2010 Master Your Metabolism WITH VIDEO

Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels


"Why Hormones Matter—to All of Us. I could have called this book The Evolution of a Health and Fitness Guru. Why? Because after seventeen years of work in the fitness field—seventeen years of studying with the world’s top doctors in sports medicine, nutrition, endocrinology, and anti-aging—this is everything I’ve learned. Yes, this is what it has all been leading up to: Master Your Metabolism, my total approach to optimal weight and optimal health. This book is the distillation of my entire journey in health, from childhood binge eater to weight-loss guru. I’ve been at this for almost two decades, but what I’ve learned in the past few years completely changed my body and my life.

My first book, Winning by Losing, centered on the psychological and behavioral aspects of losing weight. In that book, I focused on how to get yourself into a frame of mind so you’d be ready to lose weight. (If you’re just getting started with an exercise program, and want an approachable plan, you might want to check it out, too.)
My second book, Making the Cut, was my ode to fitness. It is a physical fitness regimen designed to get rid of those last ten pounds—the hard way! It is ruthless, but very effective (insert evil laugh here). It gets you shredded, blasts the problem areas, like muffin tops and saddlebags, and helps you prep for that big event or party where you want to look your best. (If you have only a few pounds to lose and want to get fit fast, its thirty-day plan will work for you.)

This book, however, has nothing to do with exercise. Surprised? I know that’s not what you expect to hear from me. I’ve gone on and on in the past about the benefits of exercise. And you and everyone else know it’s good for you. So that’s not the purpose of this book. And it’s not a calorie-counting book either. I know what you’re thinking: that after being such a tyrant about exercise and watching calories, I’ve finally gone soft, right? Wrong!

Master Your Metabolism is, first and foremost, a diet book. My very first diet book. And let me tell you—if you practice what I’m preaching here, it will change your life, in more ways than just being skinny. I’m talking about adding years of quality to your life. We all know that fad diets are a thing of the past, and that the no-carb, no-fat crazes of the eighties and nineties are scientific laughingstocks and
pop-culture dinosaurs. Welcome to the future—this is the era of genome mapping, stem-cell research, and nutrigenomics (the study of how food communicates with our genes). Yes, calorie counting and exercise are very important, but they are not the whole story. Underneath the dieting and workout programs are the little messengers that carry information from your body to your brain and vice versa. These “little messengers” are your hormones.

What do hormones have to do with anything? Let me explain. If I were to ask you what your metabolism is, what would you say? I bet you would answer, “The way my body burns calories.” If so, you would be wrong. That’s one of the key things your metabolism does. But do you know what it is? The answer is hormones! Your metabolism is your biochemistry.

Some hormones tell you you’re hungry, some tell you you’re full. When you eat, hormones tell your body what to do with that food, whether to store it or burn it as fuel. And when you exercise, hormones tell the body how to move and consume energy stores, and how to boost or shut down different parts of the body. Hormones control almost every aspect of how we gain weight—and how we can lose it.

Maybe right now you’re thinking, “I’m a guy—I don’t have to worry about hormones.” Or, “If this book is about hormones, it’s not for me-I’m twenty years away from menopause.” That’s what I thought, too! I’m only thirty-four—what could my weightpossibly have to do with my hormones? But guess what: Whether you’re a girl or a guy, whether you’re young or old, your weight has everything to do with your hormones. Whether you want to lose the freshman fifteen, the postbaby belly, or the beer gut, your hormones determine whether you’ll succeed or fail.

And right this minute, your hormones—and by definition your metabolism—are being set up to fail. Without you even knowing it, your hormones have been hijacked by toxin-filled, nutritionally deficient, stress-dominated systems—endocrine disruptors—that cause obesity and disease. These systems lurk in surprising places, but they ultimately disrupt our hormone function and cause hormone imbalances—in all of us.

That’s why I designed Master Your Metabolism: to identify these catalysts
of obesity and disease, cut them out at the roots, and create a state of optimal health where the body and mind function at maximal efficiency. Together, we’ll target and eliminate these endocrine disruptors and replace them with the hormone-positive systems that make you healthy, happy, and skinny, no matter how old you are.
Synthesizing what the science of endocrinology can teach you about your metabolism, your eating habits, and your weight, Master Your Metabolism
gives you a clear-cut plan that makes the latest research work for you and your individual biochemistry. And this complete lifestyle plan will help you not only lose that weight but keep it off once and for all.

THE SECRET TO PERMANENT WEIGHT LOSS: HORMONAL HARMONY The endocrine system is sometimes compared to an orchestra. Each hormone is like an instrument. Playing together, in tune, they sound amazing.
But what happens if, right in the middle of a concert, the violin suddenly goes wildly astray, twanging away? And then the clarinet starts shrieking? And then the pianist can’t keep a steady pace? They would sound like crap, right?

It’s exactly the same with your metabolism. Your body can’t work the way it’s supposed to if any of your hormones is out of tune. Once one loses the beat, they all follow. That’s why, when your hormones are off note, you can’t just focus on one hormone at a time—you have to work to get them all in tune and playing in the right key again.

You’ve probably heard the words cortisol, growth hormone (or HGH),
insulin, and leptin—especially being thrown around on weight-loss infomercials
at one a.m. Am I right? Well, those words are the names of hormones, and those hormones dramatically affect your weight and your health.

So the weight-loss products that target them must work, right? Hardly. Thing is, those bunk “treatments” focus on only one hormone at a time (if they even work at all), which is a very incomplete and misleading picture. Unlike those infomercials, instead of trying to isolate one hormone at a time—which is totally impossible—this book is about how you can naturally optimize all of your hormones. And how you can do it without taking dangerous or expensive drugs? Our hormones—all of them—are influenced by millions of things in our diet and environment, from processed foods to pesticides to lack of sleep to excess stress. Any disruption will kick one hormone into overdrive and another into hibernation mode. When the normal function of one hormone gets thrown off, that imbalance creates another, and another, and another.

Way too often, these chronic imbalances make you fat—even when you are ruthless and meticulous about calorie counting and burning. I want to teach you that you can get your hormones in check simply by changing your habits in the grocery store and at the kitchen table. We’re going to dig deep here and remove all the toxic crap that damages your endocrine system, turns on your fat-storing hormones, and causes you to gain weight. Then we’ll restore the nutrients that speak directly with your fat-burning hormones to nudge them back to most favorable levels. Finally, we’ll rebalance the energy going into and out of your body, so that your metabolism works for you as a fat-burning machine, instead of against you, storing fat and stealing energy. When your hormones are at their optimal levels, your body functions at peak efficiency:

1. Your metabolism starts jammin’.
2. You look a lot better.
3. Your body maintains a healthy weight without much conscious effort.
4. Your belly flattens.
5. Your skin is clear and radiant; your hair and nails are strong and shiny.
6. Your eyes are bright.
7. Your senses are keen, not dulled.
8. You don’t suffer from excessive hunger or crazy cravings.
9. You get cut and lean.
10. You have energy to burn.
11. You live a longer, healthier life.

If you’ve seen me on television or heard me on the radio, you know that I am like a dog with a bone—I do not give up. I have perfected this plan to work for everyone. And I’ve done it the way I’ve worked to help every one of my clients and Biggest Loser contestants—through careful attention to detail and relentless persistence. I’ve taken all the latest cutting-edge research and personally tested it to make sure I could offer the healthiest, most effective eating and lifestyle program possible.

Believe it or not, I’ve fine-tuned this plan to the point where I can eat two thousand calories a day, and hit the gym for 2 to 3 hours a week (gotta love those grueling work schedules!), and still manage to maintain my physique. Sounds crazy? It’s possible for you, too. The best part is, I’ve done all this work so now you don’t have to!

I know you have a hectic and full life. I know you hate plans that make you count and chart and obsess about minute details. Forget all that. I may be tough in the gym, but I’m going to make it easy on you on this diet. Just pull up a seat at the table and enjoy. In this book, you’ll learn how to:

• Optimize all the hormones that are necessary to lose weight
• Fix your metabolism so it works for you, not against you
• Choose foods and habits that trigger weight-loss hormones
• Avoid foods and habits that trigger weight-gain hormones
• Learn which foods work together and how to cook them for maximum endocrine benefit
• Prepare fast, hormone-balancing meals with items already in your kitchen
• Eat incredibly well on a few bucks a day
• Correct biochemical dysfunction with relaxation techniques
• Detoxify your environment so that hormones readjust and weight drops off
• Enjoy fresh foods that can prevent cancer, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and
other diet and lifestyle-related diseases
• Dramatically increase energy levels and potentially lengthen your life by many years

As you work your way through the book, you can follow this program either
as general guiding principles or as a specific, prescribed weight-loss plan. I’ll break it down in as much detail as you need—do it all or just take the major lessons and go on your way. It’s your call.

I want you to begin to see everything that we’re up against, and start making choices that follow the major tenets of this plan. Do that, and you’ll take back control of your hormones, restart your metabolism, and get it revving faster than it ever has. Because, bottom line, this is not a book about being thin to be healthy. It’s about being healthy to be thin. Ready? Let’s go."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Karen (Before and After)

“My name is Karen and I think many Mothers will be able to relate to my story. As a child I was never considered thin. When I hit my twenties, I tired of being seen as “the fat friend” and decided to join Weight Watchers. I really learned how to eat healthy and exercise there. I didn’t reach the “normal range” for my height but I did manage to lose sixty pounds and I kept them off for five years. During this time I met Dominic. We were married and when we eventually became pregnant, we were thrilled.

Like most Moms, my weight really crept up after giving birth to my daughter. During the pregnancy I was “good”. I ate well and put on the thirty pounds the doctors usually expect you to gain. We brought our daughter home. She was so beautiful and my husband and I settled in, to adjust to parenthood, for the next six weeks.

I felt like I was just getting the hang of it all, and was so enjoying being home with my baby, when I had to return to work. This was before the family medical leave act and if I wanted to stay home it would have meant taking an unpaid leave and more importantly losing my health benefits. (My husband had very limited benefits at the time as well.) So back to work I, reluctantly, went and my daughter stayed with a childcare provider.

The stress of the situation was somewhat relieved after she started to sleep through the night. However, I had the help of two friends "Ben and Jerry". They would “numb” the situation, each night, until I got tired and fell into a sugar coma. As my daughter celebrated her first birthday I found I didn’t need their help as much but the weight was already there. I don’t even remember weighing myself... I just bought bigger clothes.

I liken my weight issue to that junk drawer we all have in our houses. You keep filling it with stuff and then shut it quickly, vowing to clean it out...someday. My weight was just like that, something I would get to....someday.

I did try a few more stints at Weight Watchers but as soon as I hit a plateau, I hated to keep paying, so I would just stop going. After September 11, 2001 I started to really worry about my health. Would my family and I be able to survive if we were attacked here?

I saw an ad one day, for a new kind of exercise place for women, which said you could get into better shape in just thirty minutes, a few times a week. It sounded interesting so I tried it. It was fun and I loved it! It was the perfect kind of exercise for a person who hates to exercise. I found myself going the recommended three times a week but the weight still wouldn’t budge. I was at a crossroads, not knowing what to do, but so tired of carrying around the extra fifty pounds I had put on.

Then in December of 2007 I saw an announcement in the church bulletin for a new weight loss group that would be starting in January at Holy Family. I thought, “What have I got to lose....hopefully weight!" So in January of 2008 I became one of the first members of “Pray it Off” (PIO).

I immediately felt at home with everyone. Ellen was funny, warm and caring. My tablemates were very supportive but most of all I finally let the Lord in to help me with my weight.

I am a cradle Catholic but it never occurred to me that God could help me with my weight problem. I guess I felt He wouldn’t think it was important enough. I was wrong. He cares greatly about every aspect of my life. I kept moving more and eating less. By the fall of 2008 I had lost FORTY POUNDS!

I was elated. I really felt that, this time, I had truly changed my life.

I had a new life style and I wasn’t going back. I thought, “Wow! In another month I‘ll take off the last 10 lbs and be in the promised “land of maintenance.” But alas, here I am, in 2010, still trying to lose those last ten pounds.

But the good news is that this plateau has led me to delving deeper into my hypothyroidism, perimenopause and metabolism issues. I do believe that the Lord has a reason for everything. This maintenance period has allowed me to get more comfortable in my own skin. Plus, I believe that keeping off those forty pounds is a true victory.

The weight loss has also given me a new sense of confidence. This spring I am running for West Genesee School Board. (Please vote on May 18th!!) This is something I would have never thought to do forty pounds ago.

Leaving the "Pray It Off" group will never be an option. I need the weekly support. It keeps me centered and accountable. Much in the same way weekly mass helps me. I also think that my journey can, perhaps, help and inspire someone else.

So you’ll find me, each week, at Table 4, sharing my thoughts and moving forward in my journey with the support of Ellen and all my friends at PIO.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pray It Off Meeting April 22, 2010 SELF-ACCEPTANCE With VIDEO

The Path to Unconditional Self-Acceptance
Published on Psychology Today (

"Self-Esteem vs. Self-Acceptance -Though related, self-acceptance is not the same as self-esteem. Whereas self-esteem refers specifically to how valuable, or worthwhile, we see ourselves; self-acceptance alludes to a far more global affirmation of self. When we're self-accepting, we're able to embrace all facets of ourselves--not just the positive, more "esteem-able" parts. As such, self-acceptance is unconditional, free of all qualification. We can recognize our weaknesses, limitations and foibles, but this awareness doesn't interfere with our ability to fully accept ourselves.
I regularly tell my therapy clients that if they genuinely want to improve their self-esteem, they need to explore what parts of themselves they're not yet able to accept. Ultimately, liking ourselves more (or getting on better terms with ourselves) has mostly to do with self-acceptance. And it's only when we stop judging ourselves that we can secure a more positive sense of who we are. Which is why I believe our self-esteem rises naturally as soon as we stop being so hard on ourselves. And it's precisely because self-acceptance involves far more than self-esteem that it's generally seen (as self-esteem is not) to be crucial to our happiness and peace of mind.

What Determines Our Self-Acceptance (or Lack of Same) in the First Place? Similar to our experiencing self-esteem, as children we're able to accept ourselves only to the degree we feel accepted by our parents. Research has demonstrated that before the age of eight, we lack the ability to formulate a clear, separate sense of self--that is, other than what has been communicated to us by our caretakers. So if our parents are unable, or unwilling, to transmit the message that we're totally okay and acceptable--independent, that is, of our hard-to-control, sometimes errant behaviors (which, understandably, may frustrate or disappoint them)-- we're primed to view ourselves with ambivalence. The positive regard we receive from our parents may depend almost totally on our behavior, and we unfortunately learn that a considerable number of these behaviors are parentally unacceptable. So, naturally identifying ourselves with these objectionable behaviors, we inevitably come to see ourselves as in many ways unacceptable.

Additionally, adverse parental evaluation can, and frequently does, go far beyond individual behaviors. For example, parents may give us the more general message that we're selfish-or that we're not thin enough, smart enough, attractive enough, good enough, "nice" enough, and so on. As a result of what most mental health professionals would agree represents a subtle form of emotional abuse, almost all of us come to regard ourselves as only partially--or conditionally--acceptable. In consequence, we learn to regard many aspects of our self negatively, painfully internalizing the felt rejection we too often felt at the hands of over-critical parents. And this tendency toward self-criticism is at the heart of most of the problems we unwittingly create for ourselves as adults.

That is, given how the human psyche operates, it's almost impossible not to parent ourselves as we were parented originally. If our caretakers dealt with us in a hurtful manner, as adults we'll find all sorts of ways to perpetuate that unresolved hurt onto ourselves. If we were frequently ignored, accused, berated, blamed, taunted, chastised, or physically punished, we'll somehow contrive to carry on this indignity. So when (figuratively, at least) we "beat ourselves up," we're typically just following our parents' lead. Having to depend so much on our caretakers when we were young--and thus experiencing little authority to question their "mixed verdict" on us--we felt obliged to assume the basic validity of their appraisals. This is hardly to say that our parents constantly put us down. But, historically, it's well-known that parents are far more likely to let us know when we do something that bothers them than to acknowledge us for our more positive, or pro-social behaviors.

In fully comprehending the reservations we come to have about ourselves by the time we're adults, we obviously need to add (besides all the negative parental feedback we received) the disapproval and criticism we were subject to by teachers, relatives--and, especially, our peers, who, struggling with their own parentally-induced self-doubts, could hardly resist making fun of our frailties whenever we innocently "exposed" them. At any rate, almost all of us enter adulthood afflicted with a certain negative bias. We share a common tendency to blame ourselves, to see ourselves as bad, wrong, or in some way defective. It's as though we all, more or less, suffer from the same chronic "virus" of self-doubt.

. . . So How Do We Become More Self-Accepting? Learning to be More Self-Compassionate Whereas accepting ourselves unconditionally (despite our deficiencies) would have been almost automatic had our parents transmitted a predominantly positive message about us-and, additionally, we grew up in a generally supportive environment-if that really wasn't the case, we need on our own to learn how to "certify" ourselves, to validate our essential ok-ness. And I'm hardly suggesting here that independently confirming ourselves has anything to do with becoming complacent, only that we get over our habit of constantly judging ourselves. If deep within us we're ever to feel--as our normal state of being--happy and fulfilled, we must first rise to the challenge of complete, unqualified self-acceptance. As Robert Holden puts it in his book Happiness Now! "Happiness and self-acceptance go hand in hand. In fact, your level of self-acceptance determines your level of happiness. The more self-acceptance you have, the more happiness you'll allow yourself to accept, receive and enjoy. In other words, you enjoy as much happiness as you believe you're worthy of ."

Perhaps more than anything else, cultivating this capacity for self-acceptance requires that we learn how to be more compassionate toward ourselves. For only when we better understand and forgive ourselves for everything we've regarded as blameworthy can we obtain the relationship to self that till now may have eluded us.
To adopt a more loving stance toward ourselves--perhaps the key prerequisite for self-acceptance--we must develop a detachment that allows us to see ourselves as representative of all human beings--endeavoring to fit in and somehow prove ourselves to others (just as, initially, we may have felt we needed to justify our existence to our caretakers). And, also like virtually everyone else, our behaviors--misguided or not--simply reflect our efforts to counteract the legacy of our parents' conditional love.

Undertaking such a heartfelt exploration of what I'd call our well-nigh "universal plight" almost inevitably generates increased self-compassion. And it's through this compassion that we can learn to like ourselves more, to view ourselves as worthy of love and respect by virtue of our very willingness to confront, and struggle against, what we find most difficult to accept about ourselves. In a sense, we all bear scars from the past and are among the ranks of the "walking wounded." And the very recognition of our common humanity can inspire us with feelings of kindness and goodwill toward ourselves that we may have habitually withheld.

Letting Go of Guilt and Learning to Forgive Ourselves To become more self-accepting, we must start by telling ourselves (repeatedly--and hopefully, with ever-increasing conviction) that given all our negative self-referencing beliefs and biases, we've done the best we could. In this light, we need to re-examine residual feelings of guilt, as well as our many self-criticisms and put-downs. We must ask ourselves specifically what it is we don't accept about ourselves and--as agents of our own healing--bring compassion and understanding to each point of self-rejection. By doing so, we can begin to dissolve exaggerated feelings of guilt based on standards and expectations that simply don't mirror what was possible for us at the time.

The famous French expression, Tout comprendre, c'est tout excuser (literally, "to understand all is to pardon all") is a dictum that we ought to apply at least as much to ourselves as others. For the more we can grasp just why in the past we were compelled to act in a particular way, the more likely we'll be able both to forgive ourselves for this behavior and avoid repeating it in the future.

Becoming more self-accepting necessitates that we begin to appreciate that, ultimately, we're really not to blame for anything--whether it's our looks, our intelligence, or any of our more questionable behaviors. Our actions have all been compelled by some combination of background and biology. Going forward, we certainly can--and in most cases, should--take responsibility for ways we've hurt or mistreated others. But if we're to productively work on becoming more self-accepting, we must do so with compassion and forgiveness in our hearts. We need to realize that given our internal programming up to that point we could hardly have behaved differently.

To gradually evolve into a position of unconditional self-acceptance, it's crucial we adopt an attitude of "self-pardon" for our real, or perceived, transgressions. In the end, we may even come to realize that there's actually nothing to forgive. Regardless of what we may have already concluded, we were, in a sense, always innocent--doing the best we could, given what was innate in us, how compelling our needs (and feelings) were at the time, and what (however unconsciously) we happened to believe about ourselves. That which, finally, determines most problematic behavior is linked to common psychological defenses. And it almost borders on the cruel to blame ourselves--or hold ourselves in contempt--for acting in ways that at the time we thought would help protect us from anxiety, or emotional distress generally.

Embracing Our Shadow Self Tied to the above, self-acceptance also involves being willing to recognize, retrieve and make peace with parts of the self that till now may have been abandoned, shunned, or repudiated. I'm referring here to our illicit or anti-social impulses--our shadow self, which, though it may have confused, frightened, or even sabotaged us in the past, still represents an essential part of our nature and must be fully integrated if we are to become whole. As long as we refuse to accept-or in some way accommodate-these split-off aspects of self, unconditional self-acceptance will remain forever out of reach.

When we're able to sympathetically understand the origin of these darker, recessive fragments in us, any self-evaluation based on them begins to feel not only uncaring or uncharitable, but unfair as well. Accepting ourselves without conditions, we can view ourselves benignly, as we acknowledge to ourselves that we all harbor forbidden (and quite possibly, outrageous) impulses and fantasies--whether they entail brutally injuring someone we find obnoxious, exercising unbridled power over others, or (indeed!) running naked through the streets. We can learn to view all these "aberrations" as okay, realizing that however bizarre or egregious our imaginings might be, they're probably nothing more than fantasized compensations for hurts or deprivations we've suffered in the past.

Further, even as we come to accept our shadow parts as somehow inherent in us, we can yet maintain voluntary control over their expression. We might even discover ways to permit them some form of representation--but, of course, only in ways that would ensure safety both to ourselves and others. As long as we're connected to our deepest, truest self, we'll be coming from love and compassion. As such, it really isn't in us to do anything that would violate our natural compassion and identification with all humanity. Owning and integrating our various facets is a transcendent experience-and when we (or, really, our egos) no longer feel separate from others, the motive to do them harm literally disappears.

Self-Acceptance vs. Self-Improvement It should be fairly obvious at this point that self-acceptance has very little to do with self-improvement, that it really isn't about "fixing" ourselves, or moving toward some sort of personal perfection. With self-acceptance we're simply affirming--non-judgmentally--that we are who we are, with whatever strengths and weaknesses we possess in the moment. The problem with our focusing on self-improvement is that such an orientation inevitably makes self-acceptance conditional. After all, we can never feel totally secure or whole as long as our self-regard depends on constantly bettering ourselves. Self-acceptance is here-and-now oriented--not future oriented, as in: "I'll be okay when . . ." Or, "As soon as I accomplish _____, I'll be okay." Self-acceptance is about already being okay, about seeing ourselves as "good enough" now--with no qualifications of any kind. We don't ignore or deny our frailties, we just see them as not relevant to our basic acceptability.

Finally, it's we--and we alone--that can set the standards for our self-acceptance. And once we decide to stop grading ourselves, or "keeping score with" ourselves, we can adopt an attitude of non-judging forgiveness. In fact, once we refrain from our lifelong habit of continually evaluating ourselves--striving rather to compassionately understand our past behaviors--we'll find that there's really nothing to forgive (remember, "Tout comprendre. . ." ). Personal flaws or shortcomings don't need to get in our way. Certainly, we can vow to do better in the future, but we can nonetheless accept ourselves exactly as we are today.

And here I can't stress enough that it's possible to accept and love ourselves and still be committed to a lifetime of personal growth. Accepting ourselves exactly as we are doesn't mean we'll be without the motivation to make changes or improvements that could enrich our lives or make us more effective. It's just that our self-acceptance is in no way tied to such alterations. We don't have to do anything to secure our self-acceptance: we have only to change the way we view ourselves. So altering our behaviors becomes a matter of personal preference, not a prerequisite for greater self-regard.

It's all a matter of coming from a radically different position. If self-acceptance is to be "earned," a result of working hard on ourselves, then it's conditional and always at risk. The "job" of accepting ourselves can never be done, never completed. Even scoring an A+ in whatever endeavor we're using to rate ourselves can offer us only temporary satisfaction. For the message we're giving ourselves is that we're only as worthwhile as our latest achievement. We can never finally "arrive" at a place of self-acceptance because we've inadvertently defined our journey as everlasting. In holding ourselves to such self-imposed standards, we may in fact be validating the way our own conditionally-loving parents dealt with us. But we're certainly not validating ourselves--or treating ourselves with the kindness and consideration our parents may have failed to adequately provide us.

To conclude, only when we're able to give ourselves unqualified approval--by developing greater self-compassion and focusing more on our positives than negatives--can we at last forgive ourselves for our faults, as well as relinquish our need for others' approval. No doubt we've made mistakes. But then, so has everybody else--and in any case our identity is hardly equal to our mistakes. For sure, such a linkage would represent a bad case of "mistaken identity."

There's no reason we can't decide right now to transform our fundamental sense of who we are. And we can remind ourselves that our various weaknesses are only part of what makes us human. If all our failings and flaws were suddenly to disappear, my pet theory is that we'd instantly turn into white light and disappear from the face of the planet. So in pursuing the challenge of unconditional self-acceptance, we might even want to take a certain pride in our imperfections. After all, were we beyond criticism in the first place, we'd never have the opportunity to rise to this uniquely human challenge."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival

Please check out the other Bloggers who share their own unique Catholic perspectives on life and faith.

At our 4/16 Pray It Off Meeting I discussed the new Geneen Roth book "Woman, Food and God."

Pray It Off

Thank you RAnn at This That And The Other Thing Blog! Please check out the Catholic Carnival at:

This That and the Other Thing: Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pray it Off Meeting April 22, 2010 Osteoarthritis, Weight and Exericise WITH VIDEO

Osteoarthritis Weight Management
by Susan Bartlett, Ph.D. (Edited)

Joint Pain is Strongly Associated with Body Weight. Being only 10 pounds overweight increases the force on the knee by 30-60 pounds with each step.
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder with symptoms in the hands, knees, hips, back, and neck. It is unclear exactly how excess weight influences OA. Clearly, being overweight increases the load placed on the joints such as the knee, which increases stress and could possibly hasten the breakdown of cartilage. For example, it is estimated that a force of nearly three to six times one's body weight is exerted across the knee while walking; an increase in body weight increases the force by this amount. However, overweight has also been associated with higher rates of hand OA in some studies suggesting the involvement of a circulating systemic factor as well.

Obesity Is a Risk Factor for Osteoarthritis. Overweight women have nearly 4 times the risk of knee OA; for overweight men the risk is 5 times greater.
Being overweight is a clear risk factor for developing OA. Population-based studies have consistently shown a link between overweight or obesity and knee OA. In a study from Framingham MA, overweight individuals in their thirties who did not have knee OA were at greater risk of later developing the disease. Other investigations, which performed repeated x-rays over time also, have found that being overweight significantly increases the risk of developing knee OA. It is estimated that persons in the highest quintile of body weight have up to 10 times the risk of knee OA than those in the lowest quintile.

The Benefits of Weight Loss. Even small amounts of weight loss reduce the risk of developing knee OA. Preliminary studies suggest weight loss decreases pain substantially in those with knee OA. If obesity increases the development and progression of knee OA, can weight loss reverse these effects? In the Framingham study, Felson and colleagues noted that among women with a baseline body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25, weight loss was associated with a significantly lower risk of knee OA. For a woman of normal height, for every 11 lb weight loss (approximately 2 BMI units), the risk of knee OA dropped > 50%. Conversely, a comparable weight gain was associated with an increased risk of later developing knee OA (odds ratio 1.28 for a 2 BMI weight gain). The investigators concluded that in elderly persons, if obese men (i.e., BMI greater than 30) lost enough weight to fall into the overweight category (BMI 26-29.9) and men in the overweight category lost enough weight to move into the normal weight category (BMI less than 26), knee OA would decrease by 21.5%. Similar changes in weight category by women would result in a 33% decrease in knee OA. A handful of studies have indicated that weight loss substantially reduced reports of pain as well. Thus, weight loss potentially offers an important modifiable factor in the behavioral treatment of knee OA.

1. Body Mass Index (BMI)
The use of BMI as an indicator of overweight is based on extensive research linking BMI with associated health risks.
According to the new guidelines, overweight is a BMI of 25-29.9 while obesity is a BMI of 30 or greater. (A BMI of 30 is about 30 lbs overweight). It is recommended that BMI be calculated in all adults to assess overweight and those who are normal weight should be reassessed every 2 years.

2. Waist Circumference
Waist circumference is another measure which provides important information about the associated health risks. Waist circumferences is closely linked with abdominal fat (i.e., having an "apple" shape), which is an independent predictor of disease risk. A waist circumference of greater than 40 inches (102 cm) in men and greater than 35 (88 cm) in women signifies increased risk in those who have a BMI of 25 to 34.9.

3. Risk For Obesity-Related Diseases
Additional markers of health risk also need to be taken into consideration. Be certain to evaluate risk factors such as elevations in blood pressure or blood cholesterol, or family history of obesity-related disease. At a given level of overweight or obesity, people with additional risk factors are considered to be at higher risk for health problems, and would benefit from weight loss as well as modification of risk factors.

• Participate in moderate physical activity, progressing to 30 minutes or more on most or preferably all days of the week.

• Cut back on both dietary fat and total calories. While reducing dietary fat can help reduce calories and is heart-healthy, this method alone - without reducing calories - will not produce weight loss.

• Make weight-maintenance a priority after the first 6 months of weight-loss therapy.
The clinical guidelines suggest that all patients try lifestyle-based approaches for at least 6 months.

What If A Person Is Not Willing to Lose Weight?

Because lifestyle changes are ultimately required for successful weight maintenance, your readiness to make these changes and willingness to commit to them over the long-term are crucial. Studies have shown that health promotion messages are most effective when specifically targeted to the person’s level of readiness. For people who are not ready to lose weight at this time, the goal should focus on strategies to avoid further weight gain through healthy eating and more physical activity. Because level of readiness changes over time, it is important to reassess motivation periodically.

How Exercise Helps Osteoarthritis

Find out how to get started with an osteoarthritis exercise program that's right for you and can help relieve your osteoarthritis symptoms.
By Chris Iliades, MD Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

While researchers still don’t know the exact cause of osteoarthritis, we do know that being over the age of 60, carrying excess weight, and being out of shape all significantly increase your risk. If you already have osteoarthritis, or you want to decrease your risk of getting it, a regular exercise program can help.

Osteoarthritis: The Benefits of Exercise

There are many benefits to starting an exercise program — whether you have osteoarthritis or not — but for people with arthritis pain, there's added incentive to get moving. Regular exercise can help to:

• Reduce joint pain.

Osteoarthritis destroys cartilage, special tissue that cushions our joints. “Exercise increases the lubrication to the cartilage of the joint, thus reducing osteoarthritis symptoms of pain and stiffness,” says Anne Menz, PhD, a physical therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, Mass. It may seem counterintuitive, but not exercising actually leads to stiffer joints and worse osteoarthritis.

• Strengthen muscles.

As we get older the muscles and tendons that support our joints tend to get weaker. “Exercise strengthens the muscles around the joints to protect the joints and provide [extra] support,” says Menz.
• Decrease pressure on joints.

Studies show that being even 10 pounds overweight greatly increases the stress across your knee joints with every step you take. “Exercise can aid in weight loss to decrease pressure on joints,” Menz says.

• Improve overall health.

Osteoarthritis symptoms can keep you from being active, which not only aggravates your osteoarthritis, but is also bad for your heart. “Exercise decreases all the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle,” like high blood pressure, diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and stroke, notes Menz.

Osteoarthritis: Starting an Exercise Routine

“First, check with your doctor to get the green light,” advises Menz. She suggests starting slowly and finding enjoyable ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. “Start a walking program in your neighborhood, take ballroom dancing lessons with your spouse, or join an exercise class,” she advises. The more you enjoy the activity you choose, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Menz also recommends keeping an exercise journal; “A log will help keep you accountable and also provide motivation as you see you can do more each week.” For people who have not exercised in a long time or whose osteoarthritis symptoms make it too painful to jog or walk long distances, low impact exercise in a swimming pool can be very effective. “A water aerobics exercise class causes less stress on the joints, and most people can tolerate this type of exercise. Later on you can progress to land-based exercise,” says Menz.

Osteoarthritis: The Best Types of Exercise

People with osteoarthritis should consider adding the following types of exercise to their workout routine:

• Range of motion exercise.

Stretching exercises are effective in preventing the osteoarthritis symptom of joint stiffness. You can get this type of conditioning exercise in a yoga or Pilates class.

• Aerobic exercise.

Jogging, brisk walking, and swimming are all examples of exercises that get your heart rate up and increase blood flow to your muscles. They are very effective in helping to control the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

• Resistance training.

Weightlifting and resistance-band training are strengthening exercises that help build up the muscles and tendons that support your joints.
“Your goal with osteoarthritis exercise training is to eventually work your way up to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week. This could be a stationary bike, walking, swimming, or dancing. You should also do strength training two to three days a week in an exercise class, or weights at the gym,” advises Menz.
If you are having trouble getting started, ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist. “A physical therapist can put together a program for you that includes pain relief strategies, range of motion exercises, stretching, and strength training,” says Menz.

Research shows that a good exercise program can slow down the progression of osteoarthritis and relieve osteoarthritis symptoms like pain and stiffness. Unfortunately, research also shows more than half the people who start an exercise program for osteoarthritis drop out within one year.

Ask your doctor or a physical therapist for tips on getting started and sticking with the program you choose. Then get out there and do your best to commit! “The most important thing is to be consistent. It may take six to eight weeks to see results. Listen to your body and balance activity with a good amount of rest,” says Menz. Remember that a good exercise program is one of the best ways to manage your osteoarthritis symptoms.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pray It Off "Exercise, Positive Thoughts, Recipe" April 16, 2010 WITH VIDEO

The Magic Bullet for Weight Loss: Diet or Exercise?
Which is more important for weight loss, exercise or diet? -- Martha Hagman

This is a complicated question and one that I can't completely answer because it hasn't been completely answered by science. A satisfactory explanation for how best to lose weight and why it is so easy to gain weight has yet to be determined. I've discussed many possible contributing factors in this column: Genetics, hormones, biological viruses, social viruses, stress, your romantic partner -- even air conditioning. All are suspected of playing a role in how and why the body stores fat.

It's easiest to point a finger straight at calories because it makes sense that if you take in more energy than you burn off, you will hold on to what's left as excess body weight. So let's talk about whether eating fewer of them or burning more of them is the better weight loss strategy.

A number of studies have concluded that restricting calories is a better way to drop a pants size than spending more time in the gym. For example, one University of Pennsylvania trial found that men and women who exercised -- but didn't bother to control what they ate -- lost 0.3 percent of their initial body weight compared to those who dieted but did not exercise and lost 8.4 percent of their weight.

Don't cancel your gym membership just yet. This study, like many others looking at the problem, did not compare diet and exercise on equal footing. The women in the diet-only group cut 945 calories per day, and the men cut 1,705 calories. Meanwhile, the exercise-only groups walked or jogged for 30 minutes, five times a week, expending an average of 255 and 190 calories per session for men and women, respectively.

This is sort of like comparing apples to really big apples. In a research study cited by the American College of Sports Medicine to support their daily exercise recommendations, researchers compared people who ate 500 fewer calories per day with those who burned an extra 500 calories by walking and both groups lost about the same amount of weight. This seems to be the general finding with more recent studies, as well. Of course, you'd have to run about six miles to burn off a Milky Way Bar that takes less than a minute to eat (speaking only for myself, of course). That's why once you step outside the laboratory, dieting probably plays a bigger role in weight loss than exercise.

Still, it's clear that combining diet and exercise achieves better results than doing either separately. In a review of more than a dozen studies lasting up to a year, the National Institutes of Health found that groups who did aerobic exercise and cut calories lost an average of 4.2 pounds more than groups who just dieted. Groups that added weight training to the mix were rewarded with losing two additional pounds on average.

Putting all this aside for the moment, the better question seems to me, "What is the best way to prevent yourself from gaining weight in the first place?" or perhaps more applicable to most of us, "What's the best way to keep it off once you've lost it?" Here, the evidence is becoming crystal clear: Exercise is the key factor. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 70 percent of people who succeed in keeping their weight down over a five year period exercise regularly as part of a lifestyle change, compared to only 20 percent of people who have regained their weight. The National Weight Control Registry puts the percentage of successful losers who exercise closer to 80.

I've often said on this blog, and I'll say it again, that the formula for losing weight is as simple as moving more and eating less. I think as we continue to unravel the mysteries of body weight we will find this to be fundamentally true still but with many factors tossed into the mix which complicate how your body stores and sheds calories. For now, the best pieces of ammunition you have to fight extra pounds are to get your fanny in gear and use a smaller fork.

You can refer back to the list of Positive Affirmations here:
Pray It Off

Cherry-Almond Snack Mix

4 cups cereal, sweetened oat squares
1/2 cup nuts, almonds, sliced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
Dash salt
1 cup cherries, dried, and/or golden raisins
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. In a 15x10x1-inch baking pan, combine cereal and almonds. In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, apple pie spice, and salt. Drizzle butter mixture over cereal mixture; toss to coat evenly.
2. Bake about 20 minutes or until almonds are toasted, stirring once during baking. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Stir in dried cherries or raisins. Cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to one week.
Yield: 5 servings
Total Time: 30 mins
Nutritional Info (Per serving): Calories: 82, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 58mg, Dietary Fiber: 1g, Total Fat: 3g, Carbs: 12g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Protein: 2g

Empty And Beautiful by Matt Maher

My past won't stop haunting me
In this prison there's a fight between
Who I am and who I used to be

This thorn in my side is a grace
For because of it the flesh and blood of God
Was offered in my place, my place

CHORUS: You fought the fight in me
You chased me down and finished the race
I was blind but now I see
Jesus You kept the faith in me

Where did my best friends go?
In my defense they disappeared
Just like Your friends did to You, oh Lord

But You were there, You gave me strength
So this little one might come to know
The glory of Your name, Your name

Awaiting, set apart like incense to Your heart
A libation I'm pouring out
Empty and beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

You fought the fight in me
You chased me down and finished the race
I was blind but now I see
Jesus You kept the faith in me
Jesus You kept the faith in me
Savior, You kept the faith in me

April 16, 2010

• Have you ever thought if you only lost the weight, you would have a different life? Discuss.
• Have you ever “demonized” yourself about your weight?
• Do you ever LISTEN to what feelings are doing to your body? Describe how you feel, physically when you are: Stressed; nervous; disappointed; betrayed; lied to. Describe how you feeling in your body right now? Be descriptive.
• Have you ever used food to feel numb? Did it help? Does overeating ever lead to rapture? Is there something better than turning to food?
• Discuss the phrase: “No amount of weight loss will touch the part of you that is convinced it is damaged.”
• Do you eat after 7:30 – can you stop?
• Do you chew each mouthful 20 times? Can you try to this week?
• Say the Hail Mary to Close the Group.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4-8

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pray It Off "Dr. Oz's 10 Commandments for Weight Loss" WITH VIDEO

We Tried It: Dr. Oz's 10 Commandments for Weight Loss

This article is from Thats Fit and they tried his commandments and here is there results:

"Recently, Dr. Oz revealed his 10 Commandments for Weight Loss, and I thought I'd give his diet rules a try for myself. After a 10-day trial, I look back and realize how little things make a big difference. Dr. Oz's diet was by no means depriving or complicated, in fact it was just the opposite. He banned everyday habits we take for granted that are detrimental to our health. Did you know that grazing can add over 1000 calories to your daily intake? Here's a look Dr. Oz's 10 Commandments, and my experience.

Day 1: Thou Shall Not Wear Pants That Stretch
What Dr. Oz says:
"When you wear stretchy clothes, it's difficult to tell if you are gaining weight because you gain weight without realizing it. When you wear clothes that fit with a set size you let clothes be your gauge. They alert your body if something is getting a little tight so you can correct the course early on."

What I say:
For my first day, I was excited for this commandment. Stretchy clothes hug me in places that I feel self conscious about anyway, so it was refreshing to get rid of them. Jeans and slacks have set sizes -- there is no excuse when the waist gets a little tight. Stretchy pants, however, allow you to cheat because they won't reprimand you -- they'll just stretch!

Day 2: Thou Shall Not Keep "Fat Clothes" in Your Closet
What Dr. Oz says:
"I don't want anybody out there who's losing their weight thinking, 'it's okay if I overeat a little bit, it's not a problem because I can still wear these clothes.'"

What I say:
This was a great day for me. Going through my clothes and throwing out anything that was too big for me felt refreshing and cleansing. Those clothes are only a reminder of the past and what I used to look like, so they shouldn't be in my life anymore. Having them there was only a reminder of what I knew I didn't want to go back to.

Day 3: Thou Shall Not Eat Meat That Walks on Four Legs More Than One Time A Week
What Dr. Oz says:
"The reason is that there's less saturated fat in animals that walk on two legs like chickens, or don't have any legs like fish. Additionally, women who eat large amounts of red meat more than once a week actually have 50 percent higher chance of dying of heart disease. They also have higher cancer rates, so there are double benefits from the third commandment."

What I say:
As a vegetarian, this commandment was obviously very easy for me to do. But, I must say I do very much agree with Dr. Oz. on this one. I think it's important to give your body a break of red meat protein, as it has harmful health effects when eaten too often.

Day 4: Thou Shall Not Graze or Browse in Search of Prey
What Dr. Oz says:
"You need to plan your meals before you go to the fridge. Too many times we're wandering like reptiles foraging for food. We make food decisions. You want to create the plate that you're going to eat using your brain rather than impulses that lead you to naturally overeat, which is what happens when you're hungry and going in there five to seven times a day."

What I say:
This commandment was very effective for me. It really opened my eyes as to how much I was eating throughout the day -- especially things that weren't in my healthy eating plan. It helped me plan not just my meals, but every piece of food I was going to put in my mouth. It also encouraged good eating habits for the future.

Day 5: Thou Shall Not Eat After 7:30 PM
What Dr. Oz says:
"The average American goes to bed around 10:00 p.m. You need to have two hours of time between when you eat your dinner and when you go to bed. When you eat late at night, a couple of things happen. First of all, you're more likely to be eating in front of the TV, which means you're distracted and likely to eat more. You also tend to get high-calorie snacks in the late night hours. Try to move your meals up a tiny little bit whatever way you can to make 7:30 p.m. your ideal cut off time."

What I say:
This was one of the hardest commandments for me. 7:30 p.m. is early for me! However, I liked this day because it forced me to plan out a full and nutritious dinner. Instead of eating something at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and then being hungry later on in the night, I ate a complete dinner at a reasonable time and stayed full until bed time.

Day 6: Thou Shall Not Pile On Food On a Plate More Than One Inch High or Two Inches to the Edge of the Plate
What Dr. Oz says:
"Larger portions mean a lot more calories."

What I say:
This one definitely kept my portion sizes in check. I made sure to eat only until I was comfortably full, rather than eating everything on plate which leads to overeating. Only taking what you need can really cut calories.

Day 7: Thou Shall Not Chew Less Than 20 Bites
What Dr. Oz says:
"When you're chewing, your body is beginning to process the reality that you're putting food in it. It takes awhile for those hormones to circle back. The perception of fullness depends completely on back and forth chemistry between your stomach and your brain. As you chew, you give yourself several minutes for that processing to occur. So you're helping your biology of blubber take you to a weight that you could be happy at."

What I say:
I liked this commandment because it forced me to eat more slowly and consciously. Sometimes when we're deprived of food we tend to eat mindlessly. Mindless eating doesn't allow our brains to register fullness, which causes over-consumption and subsequently an uncomfortable bloated feeling. Making sure I chewed my food fully taught me how to eat at a healthy pace and really enjoy my food.

Day 8: Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbors Plate
What Dr. Oz says:
"These snacks, these little bites from someone else's sandwich, these little sweets, whatever it is, it adds up. It adds up, on average, to over 1,000 calories a day. That's why grazers, believe it or not, are getting into trouble. These calories count with all the other calories you already eat."

What I say:
In my opinion, this was his most important and effective commandment. For the whole day, I only ate what I had already given myself permission to eat. No cheating, no mindless eating, no extra bites here and there. It made a big difference with how I felt when I went to sleep at the end of a long day. I was happy and satisfied knowing that I really knew how many calories went into my body that day.

Day 9: Thou Shall Not Carry Small Bills
What Dr. Oz says:
"The reason, vending machines. Vending machines love small bills, and human beings like putting small bills in vending machines. With this temptation it's too easy to get 100 or 200 extra calories of food. Most people buy more because they're not going to pocket the extra change. The result is you feed there over and over again. I want you to leave the house without small bills in your pocket. You won't want to break a $20 bill in order to buy junk foods in a vending machine."

What I say:
The vending machine blues. Oh how I know that feeling all too well. Especially during mid-morning and the afternoon slump, the vending machine can get pretty tempting. But, when was the last time you saw a fresh vegetable or low-fat cheese stick in the vending machine? Almost everything in vending machines are nutrient-free and unhealthy for you, so avoiding them in general is a good rule of thumb.

Day 10: Thou Shall Not Eat Standing Up or in a Car
What Dr. Oz says:
"Eat a preplanned meal while you're stationary, and eat it while you're sitting down. You will actually know what you're doing. You are aware, you're not distracted and you're not rushing; most important, you are not overeating."

What I say:
I liked this commandment because not only is it good for my physical health, it's good for my mental health. Eating while watching TV or multitasking in some other way is distracting, and it prevents you from really tasting and enjoying your meal. Therefore, I decided to fully concentrate on what I was eating and it allowed me to taste all of the flavors and appreciate the food in front of me.

Conclusions: I don't make a habit of weighing myself, but I will say my pants are fitting better after 10 days of this diet."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Esther (Before and After)

“Hi, my name is Esther and in two weeks I’ll be 82 years old. I never had a weight problem when I was younger. Then fifteen years ago I lost my youngest child, my beloved daughter Kim, after a twelve year battle with Wilson’s disease. I spent months away from home, as she went through two liver transplants and one experimental treatment after another. The stress, the hospital food, the end of my marriage and the anger and bitterness I felt towards God manifested, over time, in forty extra pounds.

Eventually a wonderful Catholic priest, Fr. Kennedy, helped me see that God wasn’t to blame for Kim’s death. At the same time, one of my own grandchildren reminded me that she had died on Good Friday, in the arms of Jesus. I knew then that I had to be strong, and go on, for the rest of the family, I went on but so did the weight. My blood pressure was so high I ended up on medication for it. Then I had to have a knee replacement, three years ago, because I could hardly walk, or bowl, which I love to do. After the replacement, I went to physical therapy. I worked out on six different machines, three times a week. I still wasn’t dropping any pounds but then again, I wasn’t eating healthy either.

Finally, I asked God to help me and He did! I kept seeing Ellen, at church each week, and after she started Pray It Off, she looked so great. I knew she was the one God wanted me to call. She told me I could join the group and in July of 2009 I did.

Ellen gives you the support you need and the beauty of Pray It Off (PIO) is that we also have table mates we sit with each week and mine are so great. They pray with you, for you and help you to keep going and never, ever give up. I now eat a little less and move a little more as I exercise, at the same facility where I had my knee physical therapy, at least three times a week. I also do all my own housework and am very active at Holy Family.

After being in the group for a few months, I had a Doctor’s appointment and let me tell you, he was shocked when he saw me. I had lost twenty pounds since my last visit. Then the next time he saw me I was up to thirty pounds off. Currently I am almost at my goal of losing those forty extra pounds!

My high blood pressure is gone and my Doctor said he might take me off the pills if I continue to keep the weight off. He was so proud of me and I told him about Ellen and the PIO support group and he thinks it’s just wonderful. It’s a nice feeling to get back into my smaller size clothes too. All my friends keep complementing me and God gets all the credit.

It’s not easy but what is? I’ve lived through far more difficult things than exercising or passing up a few cookies. I could have wasted the rest of my years in rage and resentment but through the kindness of my church, and the love of my family and friends, I’ve learned that at 82 years old, God still isn’t done with me yet! So I want to be healthy enough to do His work.

I will always stay with the group because with Ellen’s, my PIO friend’s and God’s help, I’m positive I’ll keep the weight off for good."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pray It Off "Women, Food and God" April 16, 2010 WITH VIDEO

What Are You Hungry For? Hint: It's Not Food
In fact it’s everything but food.

A provocative new book reveals the self-defeating truth about dieting, while lighting the path to a full and healthy life. Says Oprah, "This book is an opportunity to finally end the war with weight and unlock the door to freedom."
When I first read Geneen Roth's Women, Food and God—in one big gulp—I knew I'd found something profound. I don't like the term food addict, but I realize I've been one, and it has taken me years to learn (and relearn) that the choices we make about what we put in our mouths are only stand-ins for the beliefs we carry in our minds and our hearts. So as I read Geneen's book, I recognized such a basic truth—and one that I seem to need to be reminded about time and time again: A lot of us use food as a drug—to hide from our feelings, to anesthetize ourselves, to escape. And I really wanted to talk to Geneen about this, because she seems to understand better than anybody else how we torture ourselves over a number on a scale or a size on a dress when we'd be better off putting our energy into loving and understanding our real selves. Here's a piece of our conversation:

Oprah: I think this book could have been called Women, Shopping and God, or Women, Meth and God, or Women, Gambling and God, since food is just one of the things we use to deny our own worthiness—for love, for godliness, for peace. So why is understanding our obsession with weight the key to finally losing it?

Geneen Roth: A lot of people come to me and say they just want to lose the weight. And they want to get it over with, and they want the problem to go away, and they want to wake up thin tomorrow. But they don't really want to look at the beliefs that are fueling the whole obsession or, really, their relationships to themselves, to their families, to their lives. They don't really want to look.

What happens is that people end up losing weight ten, 20, 30, 50 times in their lives. They just endlessly do it, because they think endless dieting is a way to get a handle on their problem. But even if they get a handle on their dieting, just losing weight is not the point.

Unless you really see what your core beliefs are, what's making you overeat—beliefs like "I'm damaged; I don't deserve this; love is not for me; this will never work out; God is a ruse; goodness is not for me; I'll always be separated from what I love"—and until you name those beliefs, they will shape your life willy-nilly. You'll just keep on acting them out by punishing yourself with food. But if you can finally get to understanding the beliefs underneath, you can learn how to live.

Oprah: You wrote Women, Food and God because you wanted women to—

GR: I wanted women to, first of all, stop thinking about their "problems with food" as the biggest curse in their lives. It's the issues underneath the "problems with food" that need to be dealt with. I also wrote it because I wanted to share the knowledge that using food as the doorway to understanding yourself can lead to unimaginable beauty and openness and a kind of awakening. Most people don't know that.

I think we all have a hunger that's hard to name. A lot of people who come to my retreats have never named it before, or else they've named it in church, but they can't actually see the connection between what they're doing with food and this yearning. I call it "the flame" that they have: They yearn for big answers to live a big life. But they have to start with the most basic fears.

Oprah: And this book is the place to start. It's an opportunity, a chance for all of us who have carried the curse of weight, the burden of weight, the struggle of weight to realize that understanding the roots of that struggle can lead to something richer, deeper, and more profound. I'm telling everyone to read it now!

Women, Food and God
It’s Not About the Food
Magazine Excerpt: Women, Food, And God by Geneen Roth

When I was in high school, I used to dream about having Melissa Morris's legs, Toni Oliver's eyes, and Amy Breyer's hair. I liked my skin, my breasts, and my lips, but everything else had to go. Then, in my 20s, I dreamed about slicing off pieces of my thighs and arms the way you carve a turkey, certain that if I could cut away what was wrong, only the good parts—the pretty parts, the thin parts—would be left. I believed there was an end goal, a place at which I would arrive and forevermore be at peace. And since I also believed that the way to get there was by judging and shaming and hating myself, I also believed in diets.

Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic. The promise of a diet is not only that you will have a different body; it is that in having a different body, you will have a different life. If you hate yourself enough, you will love yourself. If you torture yourself enough, you will become a peaceful, relaxed human being.

Although the very notion that hatred leads to love and that torture leads to relaxation is absolutely insane, we hypnotize ourselves into believing that the end justifies the means. We treat ourselves and the rest of the world as if deprivation, punishment, and shame lead to change. We treat our bodies as if they are the enemy and the only acceptable outcome is annihilation. Our deeply ingrained belief is that hatred and torture work. And although I've never met anyone—not one person—for whom warring with their bodies led to long-lasting change, we continue to believe that with a little more self-disgust, we'll prevail.

But the truth is that kindness, not hatred, is the answer. The shape of your body obeys the shape of your beliefs about love, value, and possibility. To change your body, you must first understand that which is shaping it. Not fight it. Not force it. Not deprive it. Not shame it. Not do anything but accept and—yes, Virginia—understand it. Because if you force and deprive and shame yourself into being thin, you end up a deprived, shamed, fearful person who will also be thin for ten minutes. When you abuse yourself (by taunting or threatening yourself), you become a bruised human being no matter how much you weigh. When you demonize yourself, when you pit one part of you against another—your ironclad will against your bottomless hunger—you end up feeling split and crazed and afraid that the part you locked away will, when you are least prepared, take over and ruin your life. Losing weight on any program in which you tell yourself that left to your real impulses you would devour the universe is like building a skyscraper on sand: Without a foundation, the new structure collapses.

Change, if it is to be long-lasting, must occur on the unseen levels first. With understanding, inquiry, openness. With the realization that you eat the way you do for lifesaving reasons. I tell my retreat students that there are always exquisitely good reasons why they turn to food.

Can you imagine how your life would have been different if each time you were feeling sad or angry as a kid, an adult said to you, "Come here, sweetheart, tell me all about it"? If when you were overcome with grief at your best friend's rejection, someone said to you, "Oh, darling, tell me more. Tell me where you feel those feelings. Tell me how your belly feels, your chest. I want to know every little thing. I'm here to listen to you, hold you, be with you."

All any feeling wants is to be welcomed with tenderness. It wants room to unfold. It wants to relax and tell its story. It wants to dissolve like a thousand writhing snakes that with a flick of kindness become harmless strands of rope.

The path from obsession to feelings to presence is not about healing our "wounded children" or feeling every bit of rage or grief we never felt so that we can be successful, thin, and happy. We are not trying to put ourselves together. We are taking who we think we are apart. We feel the feelings not so that we can blame our parents for not saying, "Oh, darling," not so that we can express our anger to everyone we've never confronted, but because unmet feelings obscure our ability to know ourselves. As long as we take ourselves to be the child who was hurt by an unconscious parent, we will never grow up. We will never know who we actually are. We will keep looking for the parent who never showed up and forget to see that the one who is looking is no longer a child.

I tell my retreat students that they need to remember two things: to eat what they want when they're hungry and to feel what they feel when they're not. Inquiry—the feel-what-you-feel part—allows you to relate to your feelings instead of retreat from them.

"Notice whatever arises, even if it surprises you" Sometimes when I ask students what they are feeling in their bodies, they have no idea. It's been a couple of light-years since they felt anything in or about their bodies that wasn't judgment or loathing. So it's good to ask some questions that allow you to focus on the sensations themselves. You can ask yourself if the feeling has a shape, a temperature, a color. You can ask yourself how it affects you to feel this. And since no feeling is static, you keep noticing the changes that occur in your body as you ask yourself these questions. If you get stuck, it's usually because you're having a reaction to a particular feeling—you don't want to feel this way, you'd rather be happy right now, you don't like people who feel like this—or you're locked into comparing/judging mode.

So, be precise. "I feel a gray heap of ashes in my chest" rather than "I feel something odd and heavy." Don't try to direct the process by having preferences or agendas. Let the inquiry move in its own direction. Notice whatever arises, even if it surprises you. "Oh, I thought I was sad, but now I see that this is loneliness. It feels like a ball of rubber bands in my stomach." Welcome the rubber bands. Give them room. Watch what happens. Keep coming back to the direct sensations in your body. Pay attention to things you've never told anyone, secrets you've kept to yourself. Do not censor anything. Do not get discouraged. It takes a while to trust the immediacy of inquiry since we are so used to directing everything with our minds. It is helpful, though not necessary, to do inquiry with a guide or a partner so that you can have a witness and a living reminder to come back to the sensation and the location.

Most of all, remember that inquiry is not about discovering answers to puzzling problems but a direct and experiential revelation process. It's fueled by love. It's like taking a dive into the secret of existence itself; it is full of surprises, twists, side trips. You engage in it because you want to penetrate the unknown, comprehend the incomprehensible. Because when you evoke curiosity and openness with a lack of judgment, you align yourself with beauty and delight and love—for their own sake. You become the benevolence of God in action.

A few years ago, I received a letter from someone who'd included a Weight Watchers ribbon on which was embossed "I lost ten pounds." Underneath the gold writing, the letter writer added "And I still feel like crap."

We think we're miserable because of what we weigh. And to the extent that our joints hurt and our knees ache and we can't walk three blocks without losing our breath, we probably are physically miserable because of extra weight. But if we've spent the last five, 20, 50 years obsessing about the same ten or 20 pounds, something else is going on. Something that has nothing to do with weight.

Most people are so glad to read about, hear about, and then begin any approach that doesn't focus on weight loss as its main agenda that they take it to be license to eat without restraint. "Aha!" they say. "Someone finally understands that it's not about the weight." It's never been about the weight. It's not even about food.

"Great," they say, "let's eat. A lot. Let's not stop." And the truth is that it's not about the weight. Either you want to wake up or you want to go to sleep. You either want to anesthetize yourself or you do not. You either want to live or you want to die. But it's also not not about the weight. No one can argue that being a hundred pounds overweight is not physically challenging; the reality of sheer poundage and its physical consequences cannot be denied.

Some people at my retreats can't sit in a chair comfortably. They can't walk up a slight incline without feeling pain. Their doctors tell them their lives are in danger unless they lose weight. They need knee replacements, hip replacements, LAP-BAND surgeries. The pressure on their hearts, their kidneys, their joints is too much for their body to tolerate and still function well. So it is about the weight to the extent that weight gets in the way of basic function: of feelings, of doing, of moving, of being fully alive.
Yet. The bottom line: Addiction isn't love, it's suffering The bottom line, whether you weigh 340 pounds or 150 pounds, is that when you eat when you are not hungry, you are using food as a drug, grappling with boredom or illness or loss or grief or emptiness or loneliness or rejection. Food is only the middleman, the means to the end. Of altering your emotions. Of making yourself numb. Of creating a secondary problem when the original problem becomes too uncomfortable. Of dying slowly rather than coming to terms with your messy, magnificent, and very, very short—even at a hundred years—life. The means to these ends happens to be food, but it could be alcohol, it could be work, it could be sex, it could be cocaine. Surfing the Internet. Talking on the phone.

For a variety of reasons we don't fully understand (genetics, temperament, environment), those of us who are compulsive eaters choose food. Not because of its taste. Not because of its texture or its color. We want quantity, volume, bulk. We need it—a lot of it—to go unconscious. To wipe out what's going on. The unconsciousness is what's important, not the food. Sometimes people will say, "But I just like the taste of food. In fact, I love the taste! Why can't it be that simple? I overeat because I like food."
But. When you like something, you pay attention to it. When you like something—love something—you take time with it. You want to be present for every second of the rapture. But overeating does not lead to rapture: It leads to burping and farting and being so sick that you can't think of anything but how full you are. That's not love; that's suffering.

I'm not exactly proud to say that I have been miserable anywhere, with anything, with anyone. I've been miserable standing in a field of a thousand sunflowers in southern France in mid-June. I've been miserable weighing 80 pounds and wearing a size 0. And I've been happy wearing a size 18, been happy sitting with my dying father, been happy being a switchboard operator. But like many people, I've had the "When I Get Thin (Change Jobs, Move, Find a Relationship, Leave This Relationship, Have Money) Blues." It's called the "If Only" refrain. It's called postponing your life and your ability to be happy to a future date when then, oh then, you will finally get what you want and life will be good. You will stop turning to food when you start understanding in your body, not just your mind, that there is something better than turning to food. And this time, when you lose weight, you will keep it off. Truth, not force, does the work of ending compulsive eating.

The poet Galway Kinnell wrote that "sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness." Everything we do, I tell my students, is to reteach ourselves our loveliness.

Diets are the result of your belief that you have to atone for being yourself to be worthy of existing. Until the belief is understood and questioned, no amount of weight loss will touch the part of you that is convinced it is damaged. It will make sense to you that hatred leads to love and that torture leads to peace because you will be operating on the conviction that you must starve or deprive or punish the badness out of you. You won't keep extra weight off, because being at your natural weight does not match your convictions about the way life unfolds. But once the belief and the subsequent decisions are questioned, diets and being uncomfortable in your body lose their seductive allure. Only kindness makes sense. Anything else is excruciating. You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved.

The Sufi poet Rumi, writing about birds learning to fly, wrote: "How do they learn it? They fall, and falling, they're given wings."

If you wait until you have Toni Oliver's eyes and Amy Breyer's hair, if you wait to respect yourself until you are at the weight you imagine you need to be to respect yourself, you will never respect yourself. To be given wings, you've got to be willing to believe that you were put on this Earth for more than your endless attempts to lose the same 30 pounds 300 times for 80 years. And that goodness and loveliness are possible, even in something as mundane as what you put in your mouth for breakfast.

Beginning now.

From Women, Food and God, by Geneen Roth. Copyright © 2010 by Geneen Roth & Associates, Inc.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival April 18, 2010

This is my second week joining the Sunday Snippets A Catholic Carnival Blog.

I met two Bloggers last week through this Carnival and I even talked to one on the telephone and highlighted her Suffering With Joy site on my own Blog.

I think it's a great way to share different Catholic topics and viewpoints.

On Monday I wrote about WEIGHT LOSS POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS and shared a list of them that our Pray It Off Group created.

Pray It Off

A group of us also participated in Earth Day (A Win-Win - Environment AND Exercise).

Pray It Off

Thank you RAnn at This That And The Other Thing Blog! Please check out the Catholic Carnival at:

This That and the Other Thing: Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival