Getting Everything You Want and Being Pissed About It

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My parking garage empties out into an alley behind my apartment building. I live in downtown Santa Monica, so it's a pretty tight fit between a bunch of apartment complexes and both big and small stores. The alley is used by those of us who live in the buildings for parking, for deliveries to the stores (West Elm and Pottery Barn in particular), and for utility access. There's also been construction directly across the alley on a new building for the entire year that I've lived here. 

The gym classes that I attend are in the mornings at 9:30. The gym is just under 2 miles from my house, so usually if I leave around 9:15 that gets me to the gym at about 9:25. Recently, the addition of a boxing class to my 9:30am gym schedule means that I also need to factor in some extra time to wrap my wrists before class, so I've been leaving around 9:05. This is going somewhere, I promise. 

For the last few weeks, each time I leave my house in the morning the alley is a total, and this is a technical term, clusterfuck. Without fail I wind up behind a garbage truck collecting trash, or West Elm and Pottery Barn would stagger their delivery trucks on either side of the alley making it nearly impossible to sneak through, or, as it's been the last few days, they're ripping up all of the concrete to do something with the utilities. Between this alley mess and general traffic, I kept rolling into class right as it starts or late, feeling rude and rushed. I was pissed that even though I was trying to give myself enough time, it was never enough time to actually get there on time. And, to make me even angrier, it kept happening day after day. 

Awareness was the first step, and after literally sitting in my alley for 20 minutes one morning trying to get to the gym, I knew I needed to change my approach. I hated feeling rushed, rude, and like a spaz, so I decided that I'd leave the house the next morning before 9am. So, one fateful Thursday morning before boxing class, I headed to the elevator and made it to my car 3 floors underground by 8:55am. 

Getting out of the parking garage was a cinch. I checked the mirrors to enter the alley, and, to my surprise, it was completely empty. There wasn't a utility crew, delivery truck, construction dumpster, or garbage truck in sight. I cruised through the alley, and upon entering the street, I made a difficult turn without any traffic. I caught the light right by my house, then every light down Fourth Street, which was also mysteriously empty. Even where Fourth Street crosses Los Angeles's infamous "The Ten" freeway, there wasn't a car or red light to be found. I pulled up to the gym at 9:08am. 

I was pissed. Thoughts raced through my head, "Are you freaking serious? The ONE DAY I give myself so much time to get here, and there's not a single hold up!? Of course that would happen..." 

What? This makes no sense. I caught myself in the moment. Hold up, gurrrl. I literally got exactly what I wanted. I set out to get to the gym without being late or held up, and that's exactly what happened. This was victim thinking at work. Instead of being grateful to myself for identifying a problem, committing to a solution, and then getting blessed by the Los Angeles traffic gods to get to my class on time, I decided to throw a pity party because things went too well. NONSENSE. I was looking for reasons to feel victimized and on the whim of the nefarious world, and I was determined to find them --- SO I FOUND THEM EVEN WHEN I GOT EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED. 

It was never about the thing I wanted. It was my mindset and thought patterns falling back into a negative, victimy, and lazy groove. It was about feeling like shit no matter the outcome, and rationalizing my shitty reaction. It was a choice to be empty and pissed off rather than fulfilled and happy for the outcome - whatever it may be. 

I quickly changed my tone. Felt gratitude for myself, felt gratitude to the LA traffic gods, felt gratitude for getting to the gym safely and quickly, felt excitement at the added opportunity to chat extra with my coach and fellow boxers, and my day turned around. Interesting side note, if not for this whole little episode, my coach wouldn't have told me that he was interested in becoming Totem's first Ambassador. 

Shifted mindset = more open to opportunity. Better mindset and thought process = ability to see the awesomeness standing right in front of you. 

What I've learned over and over again is that if you're doing something on the micro, you're definitely doing it on the macro too. What I mean is, how you think about the day to day stuff you encounter shapes the big picture life stuff you're trying to build and create. So if you're getting pissy about traffic, you're definitely getting pissy about your love life, career, businesses, friendships, diet...whatever. 

It's important to learn how to observe and track your own feelings, behaviors, and emotional responses in real time, so that you can figure out when you're operating against your own best interest. The easiest, most in your face way to do this is to watch how you handle simple day to day tasks, bumps in the road, and mild annoyances. It's hard to zoom out and see how your thought processes and reactions might be sabotaging your big picture goals, but you have nearly constantly opportunity to see what you're doing in the minutia of your life. 

There's a saying that goes around that says, "How you do one thing is how you do all things." Although I think there's some limitations to this, context matters, it is just an aphorism after all, I think it holds some merit when it comes to your emotional responses to situations. Without realizing it, you might be sabotaging long term efforts for short term self-righteousness or victimhood, which might feel like a victory in the moment but will leave you feeling empty, hopeless, and apathetic long term. All of which then validates your short sighted reactions and continues the cycle of pity parties and being miserable no matter what outcome you might create for yourself. 

Fixing this underlying thought process is critical to happiness, fulfillment, and a joyful life. You can get everything you want and the lights might all be in your favor, but if you have a shitty mindset you'll still be pissed and empty once you have it. On the contrary, if you shift your mindset to find ways to support and love yourself and the opportunities in the world, not only will things you want come more easily, but once you have them you'll feel amazing about it. Content, even. It's a choice - choose to be empower yourself or choose to blame, project, be angry, and victimize yourself. 

This is all a long way of saying: Keeping an eye on day to day reactions, behaviors, and emotional knee jerks can often paint a clearer picture of the same reactions, behaviors, and knee jerks that are actually guiding your big picture goals. Then, once you identify what you're doing that's holding you back, you can adjust accordingly. Finally, once you realize that starting with gratitude is the key, you'll always be happy for what you create for yourself. If you start with a victim mindset, the thing you're chasing or building will never bring you what you think it will. 

A Few Quick Thoughts on the End of the 9 Week Keto Reset

The last nine weeks have flown by in a flurry of diet changes, workout breakthroughs, wardrobe trouble, and self discovery. I wanted to give you a quick wrap up about. The physiological, psychological, and physical changes I've noticed and, of course, more naked progress pics 🔥


Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Physiological:

  • I have an autoimmune disease called Sjögren's Syndrome. Basically, it makes my mouth, eyes, and skin super dry all of the time. It occurs a lot in people who are celiacs (moi), and it got worse when I moved to also super dry Southern California. Last August before I figured all of this out, an out of network ophthalmologist told me to blink more and then charged me $1,000 (seriously). Within the FIRST WEEK of reseting my diet to getting 70% of my calories from fat, my eyes were less dry, my mouth wasn't the texture of sandpaper, and my chronically skin flakey nose lost its signature skin flakes. It's not completely better, but my eyes don't hurt at the end of the day, and I'm not desperate for water at every second. 
  • Cycle changes. I could write a million pages on this, so I'll keep it brief. My cycles used to be terrible. There'd be 60 days between periods (basically every other month) and after ovulation, I'd basically have awful PMS symptoms for a month.  NO LONGER! So far, my cycle is prompt, barely gives me any warning it's showing up, and is light and quick. One thing that I did notice is that in the days right before my period now, I need WAY more calories and my body aches for red meat. These days were the only days where I felt somewhat deprived of food, so now I know to just listen to my body going forward. One variable that's worth noting is that I've been extensively testing Pulse for Totem, and it also has cycle modulating and hormone balancing ingredients, so this could be part of it. 
  • Holy sex drive, batman. I'm gonna go ahead and say that this is 50% diet and 50% of Pulse. On the diet front, this makes sense. My body is getting the nutrition it craves and requires, so to my ancient brain life is good and I should be reproducing. That being said, this doesn't feel like a little boost. The word 'insatiable' comes to mind, which is why I think Pulse is taking the wheel here. Pulse is loaded with aphrodisiacs, soooo draw your own conclusions. It also helps that my husband has lost 30lbs and suddenly has non-flexing arm muscles since we started this experiment. 
  • Unsurprising to me but worth noting, I can go hours and hours without eating or thinking about food now. Most Sunday mornings, Ashton and I go on a 6.6 mile hike with about 1,000 feet of elevation change, and he and I both go fasted and feel great. In fact, compared to when we first moved here, we've shaved about 3 minutes per mile off of our time. At one point, I don't recommend doing this without a lot of preparation, I was mostly fasted for 66 hours. During this time, I had some cream in my morning coffee, a little coconut oil, 12oz of bone broth, and 1/2 cup of sauerkraut. The 66 hour fast made my stomach look pretty great...
  • More energy in general. I just feel more compulsion to hit the gym, go for a walk, toss a frisbee, go shoot some hoops.... I started working out twice a day on Tuesdays because with my MMA fighting class, I was missing having my favorite leg workout class. So, I doubled up! 

Psychological:

  • I've done a really good job over the last few years slaying some anxiety and depression demons. I don't often have off days anymore, but they crop up from time to time. If I had to guess, I'd say that prior to this reset maybe 3-5 days a month would be off: lethargy, apathy, no motivation, just blah about the world. I think over the last nine weeks, I can think of 3-5 days that were emotionally tough. That's it. And not even like devastating.  I also noticed that these days didn't have momentum that dragged me into the next day. 
  • I feel calm AF. I can recall no major stress episodes during this time. Two weekends ago, Ashton and I went to the beach to chill. We came home from a relaxing day to find a letter from the State of Illinois Revenue Service. It said that we owed them well over five digits in taxes for 2014 - the year we lived entirely in Colorado. Neither of us were phased beyond a moment. We quickly and calmly read it over, talked about our options, and emailed our accountant....and forgot about it. In the past, this would have had both of us worked up and made us feel immense dread for hours, if not days. Nope. Also worth noting, Pulse also has a major anti-anxiety effect. 
  • Um, I look good and that makes me feel good. Obvious, IMHO. 
  • Way more focus and mental clarity. 

 

Physical:
 

  • My skin looks incredible for the first time in my life. Sjögren's Syndrome dries my skin out and it always looked kinda...eh. I think between my face getting more angular due to weight loss, my skin plumping back up, and it not being dry I look 5 years younger. Here's an example of how different my skin looks. Last week vs. Almost exactly a year ago. IMHO now it's clearer, more glowy, and less...dead. 
  • More on skin: there's just more color in my face. I look more healthy and vibrant. My nose used to constantly be flakey and red. The redness has decreased SO MUCH. Additionally, sunburn is barely a problem now. Before, my pasty skin would scorch when I spent a few hours in the sun, now I can hike and even lay on the beach with no trouble or sunscreen. This makes sense to me. Good fats and oils means that my skin is basically saturated with oils that can withstand heat. Seed oils (aka the oils we're told are healthy but are not at all) are inflammatory and should not be used in high heat (but they are). So, when you eat nothing but seed oils, your body becomes inflamed and more likely to sunburn. 
  • At first, my workouts took a major hit. As my body was adjusting to burning fat instead of sugar for fuel, I didn't perform as well in the gym. This was expected, but still a giant ego hit. I had to lift way lighter than I normally do for about a month and a half. Then one day about a week ago....I BECAME A BEAST AGAIN. But, like, a bigger beast than I was before. I snatched 44lbs with both my left and right hand AND cleaned, pressed, and tossed a 60lb sandbag. 
  • I think my feet grew. Seriously. In the book Deep Nutrition (which I think should be required reading for everyone), the author. Dr. Catherine Shanahan, talks about how when she improved her diet she GREW an inch. I think something similar happened with my feet. Partly diet, and probably partly that on our weekend hikes I've been wearing minimalist shoes which allow my feet to stretch out to their natural size and shape. 


So, some pics and the final tally. One thing I wish I had done was measured my inches -- waist, hips, biceps, thighs, etc. Noted for the next big push. I didn't hit my goal of losing 5% body fat, but I'm not upset. This is a process, and I intend to continue eating this way and making progress. I also am not willing to sacrifice how good I'm feeling all around or my cycle health to hit an arbitrary body fat percentage by a certain date. The weight will take care of itself, I just need a little longer to make it happen. 

Here are the results from my DXA scan:

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Here are my before and after pics:

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Want help making similar changes? Work with me. 

6 Ways Fear Shows Up in Your Life & Stops You From Being Awesome

 Photo by  Niklas Hamann  on  Unsplash

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

Fear plays a huge role in how willing or unwilling we are to step outside of our current life and start creating a life that we're excited about. As we covered in the first blog post in my keto series, before you can address a problem you have to gain clarity around what exactly is going on. Fear shows up in our lives for a lot of good reasons, but it's this very fear that's trying to protect us that is holding us back from living large and in charge. You can tell if fear is running the show in your life if you feel hopeless, helpless, mildly depressed, empty, unfulfilled, chronically anxious, and like you're meant for something more but you just can't figure out what.

In order to feel alive, excited, and joyous about life you have to first be brave enough to look inside to see where your fear is and how it's showing up in your life. We've often grown so accustomed to this fear that we don't even realize it's there anymore. Fear can make us feel all of those above crummy emotions, but behaviorally it shows up as excuses, settling for less than you really want, being a victim, and playing small in your life.

Identifying where and how fear is showing up in your life will give you a clearer picture into why you might not begin working towards something, why you keep losing progress on something you care about, or why you just feel frozen and stuck in your life at large. Identifying and addressing the fear helps you solve the problem or challenge directly instead of stabbing wildly in the dark to try to do things that will help make you feel better. If you know there's a leak in your house and you're pretty sure it's coming from the kitchen sink, but you're too afraid to look under the kitchen sink to figure out where the leak is and how your pipes broke, then you're going to have a soggy and moldy kitchen in no time. And, if you decide that it's easier and less scary to first check the bathroom sink for leaks (because deep down you know it's the kitchen, but you don't want to deal with that real problem) then your kitchen sink problem will only grow worse.

It's important to call this feeling what it is: fear. It often gets called other emotions or people are ashamed to admit that they feel afraid to act so they shame and guilt themselves about being afraid until they just wear themselves out and give up. Here are six ways (there are many more) that I see fear showing up in my own life and my clients'. One thing I'd like to note, is that all of the below behaviors are how victims choose to behave.

Judgement

Judgement is poison. Judging the behavior, thoughts, and feelings of other people AND of yourself is the first step to never doing anything great. When you look outside of yourself and judge what other people are doing, you're having a huge fear-based reaction about your own behavior. Whatever they're doing (we're talking about benign behavior and opinions here not things that are objectively morally or ethically abhorrent) that causes you feel conjure up some judgement is a huge indicator that you feel fear about something you're doing or not doing yourself. When I was a super chub, I was the most judgmental and shitty (in my head) about the appearance, behavior, and choices of other chubs. When I projected this fear outward, it made me feel mildly "better" in the short term, but ultimately turned my mind to a festering pool of self-pity and self-hatred. You can also guess how I judged myself and my attempts to not be a super chub. Your judgement, inward and outward, is a mirror reflecting what you think and feel about yourself and what you're too afraid to face. Where are you judging yourself or others, what fear is prompting the judgement?

Procrastination

Procrastination steps in when you are: "Too busy!," "don't have enough energy / time," "starting Monday," or when you let other less important things take precedence over your long term wants, needs, and goals. This could look as passive as lounging on the couch watching TV instead of, say, prepping healthy meals, or it could look as active as committing yourself to a bunch of nonsense at work, in your community, or with your family / friends. Obviously either of these things is isn't necessarily inherently bad, but sometimes people let this doing things for the sake of doing things or numbing out on the couch stop them from facing the real fears and making progress towards things that are important to them. This is the "checking the bathroom sink when you know it's the kitchen sink that's leaking." Can you spot any areas in your life where you're just kinda shooting the shit until you "feel inspired" to do something about real challenges? What about commitments that don't bring you a ton of joy, but you just hold onto for fear of replacing them?

Bad Timing

Bad timing is similar to procrastination, but I feel like this one requires a little bit more self-awareness to at least admit to. Procrastinators might not even realize that they're procrastinating. They might just be running on autopilot. People who claim bad timing know that they need to take action on something but are just being a victim of circumstances. Too young. Too old. Too cold. Too hot. Too fat. Too skinny. Too many things going on. Wrong season. Wrong time of day. The timing or situation will never "feel right" so just start now. What have you been putting off for a reason that seems like a totally logical, analytical, and practical reason because the timing / situation just isn't there?

Perfection

People who are terrified to put themselves out in the world are usually perfectionists. Dr. Brené Brown talks about this a lot in her book, Daring Greatly (HIGHLY recommend).There is nothing wrong with taking the time to make the work you're doing or the action you're taking as best as you can make it, but done is always better than perfect. The thing that you're creating will never be perfect, that's ok. Nothing is. Using perfection, or being a control freak, is a quick way to stay stuck right where you are. My girl Twyla Tharp lays the smackdown on perfectionist thinking, "Once executed, the idea will never be as good as it is in my mind! Toughen up. Leon Battista Alberti, a fifteenth-century architectural theorist, said, 'Errors accumulate in the sketch and compound in the model.' But better an imperfect dome in Florence than cathedrals in the clouds." Where are you letting perfection stop you? Where are you worried that someone will see the real, imperfect you?
 

Numbing Feelings

When you're terrified to take action on anything in your life, you'll always live with a hopeless, helpless discomfort. Always. It's just always there. It sucks.  By failing to look inside at what fears are really consuming you, you're leaving yourself to suffer through this baseline, normalized discomfort. So, you'll reach for whatever is handy to make that feeling of uncomfortable inadequacy go away. Booze, drugs, sugar, mindless social media, mindless TV watching, sex, being overcommitted to the point of not taking care of yourself, smoking, drama, or any other addictive behavior that makes you feel less intensely. This is another thing Dr. Brené Brown talks about in Daring Greatly. One thing that she points out that always sticks with me is that you can't selectively numb feelings. Once you numb the bad, you numb the good. For me, cleaning up my diet in a huge way made me realize where I was neglecting my feelings and trying to shove them away from me. What behaviors do you do to not feel anything?

You Get Sick A Lot

I'm not saying this as some woo-woo "negative feelings attract sickness into your life!!!!!" sorta thing. You can choose to look at it that way if that works for you. I'm talking on a physiological level. When fear is showing up in your life, especially chronic fear that just kinda hangs around as background noise, your body is pumping out all kinds of quick fix chemicals to help you fight that fear in the moment - not for weeks / months / years at a time. When you're in this state, your body is in defensive mode, so it's not too worried about things like tending to keeping longterm systems, like your immune system or going to sleep, online. It's on high alert because according your old ass brain a saber toothed cat is about to bite your entire skull and fascinate anthropology nerds for millennia.  Another thing to keep in mind related to this is that if you're constantly in fight or flight mode, you'll feel like garbage, so you'll be less likely to eat right, go to the gym, do yoga, meditate, and just generally take care of yourself. So if you keep getting sick for apparently no reason, is there some fear in the background that is keep your immune system suppressed or keeping you from maintaining more hygienic habits?

Do you see yourself in any of these fear based behaviors? What action can you take right now to help make the fear go away?