Stop comparing yourself to everyone else, it makes you look pitiful. I am sooo not kidding.
Just step off that merry-go-round, Friend, because it’s taking you nowhere.

How much of our unhappiness is a direct result of comparing ourselves to others?
Why do we do this?
She’s more successful, he’s more educated, she has a better body, he has a better car, she got more ‘likes’ on her photo (really?), he’s so lucky… I would be happy too if I had ___________.
So, hmmm.. if we removed all of these images and people from our lives that we compare ourselves to, would we feel better about ourselves?
There is value (much!) in unplugging, getting away, and cutting off the insane stream of information and images and ads etc., but this would not make us happier, things might slow down and we might relax, but it will not bring happiness.
This illusive ‘happiness’ will only come when we take a look around and start appreciating what WE have.
That’s crazy simplistic isn’t it…
That’s like, off-the-charts simplistic.
But it works.
We cannot live to our full potential, we cannot become everything we were created to be if all we do is complain about our life, our bodies, our job situation, our marriages, our bad luck, etc… etc…etc..
We just can’t. Because our focus is wrong.

I struggled with this.

I come from very humble circumstances and did not have the opportunities, blessings or bank account that many of my contemporaries did (do?). Add in a poor self image (it’s so much better now) because of my difficult childhood and you have a recipe for disaster.
I could always find something wrong with me and my life.

But about 6 months ago, I drew the line in the sand.. enough was enough.
I was going to start being thankful for everything I had. Yep, just like that.
But, but, but!!! Yep, everything.
Even the stuff I didn’t like.
Especially the stuff I didn’t like.
How does this change anything.. you might be asking? (yeah, I wanted to know, too!)

We are reminded of how fortunate we are.

Yep, yet another overly simplistic thought.
When we realize how fortunate and blessed we are, we have no room in our lives for comparison (that is based on ingratitude).

I’m still a work in progress but when I walk around appreciating things like the laundry (It means I have clothes to wear), the dishes (it means I was fortunate enough to eat), the computer messing up (I’m blessed to actually HAVE a computer), sore knee (I have legs! I can workout!), A husband who is late…again (ok, I’m still working on that one, uh.. let’s see- I have a husband who works hard! So, sometimes-he-forgets-he’s-married-because-he-gets-so-involved-in-his-work but at least he’s a very hard worker!!) LOL
then we really start to see how blessed we are, and I mean reeeeally start to see.. something happens in us. And it’s a good thing.

Our focus shifts from what we don’t have.. to what we do have.
And we’re so blessed.
I don’t even have to know your circumstances to know that you are indeed blessed.

Gratitude changes everything.

This isn’t some ‘Pollyanna’ band aid approach to life’s problems, it’s not going to make everything bad into something good. This is a change in your attitude and outlook on life. It’s a new approach that requires deliberate practice day in and day out. It’s a choice.
Your choice.

So stop comparing yourself to others and start appreciating what you have.
Gratitude.. makes you beautiful. Pull it out, dust it off and apply liberally. :-)

Dear 2011

Dear 2011,
Oh, what a ride it’s been!
Come on over, have a seat.. let’s me and you reminisce a little.

We started off the year at a cabin in Ruidoso..
I know, crazy, right? Robert and I actually on a mini 4 day vacation?!
WOW, what came over us?
We relaxed, took walks every day..
Robert carved our initials in snow..

we read books, Robert watched a million movies,
I got to workout in the beautiful snowy mountains and we planned.
Yes we did. We wrote out goals for the year.
One of my goals was to not do something because I was afraid. I have lived most of my life in fear and I have not done soooo many things because I was afraid. In fact I was even afraid to make that a goal of mine.. well, of course I was, right?!
For the first time I was really looking forward to the new year, I felt an insatiable hunger for growth and change (where did THAT come from?), I wanted to tackle some of the demons I had been wresting with my whole life and I wanted to step into who I was created to be.

February 1st, Stephanie and I started the first PrayFit group and I took on the 28 day challenge outlined in the PrayFit book.

Foolishly thinking that I had been working out for ‘awhile now’ so this shouldn’t be a problem. Oh WOW. By week three I was hoping to get in an accident or come down with the plague or something so I would have an excuse to quit. Oh no, not dramatic at all!!
But accountability rocks and I finished.
Can I say that again?  I finished.
Nothing of value comes without hard work.
We know this, right?
And completing things that seem so overwhelming gives us new confidence to try other things that seem ‘impossible’, don’t they? Why, yes.. yes they do! This is significant to me because it was the first of many difficulties I would encounter that would test what I was made of. My perseverance muscle was determined to grow in 2011, with or without me.

We continued the remodeling of our 103 year old home, wore our fingers to the bone, but we love her.. our home, she just feels like us. We enclosed and painted ‘my space’ (office, home gym, workshop), sanded and refinished the kitchen floor..

completely remodeled the downstairs bathroom and guest bedroom

refinished the fireplace..

and a couple of pieces of furniture..

painted the outside of the house and I planted flowers! And they actually grew!
Whew! I’m exhausted just remembering all this work.. lol

“Hungry!” came along in June. Out of nowhere, I thought… I have many people emailing me for fitness and weight-loss tips and texting when they need encouragement to get through a tough spot.. why don’t I start a facebook page that can help others who also need motivation and encouragement. And so Hungry! was born.

I love my Hungry! page and everyone who has come along for the journey. But what started out to help others has really helped me more than anyone, I think.. again,
accountability rocks. :-)

In June we also lost our beloved Abuela Vargas. She was 85 glorious years old.

How do you say goodbye to your Hero?
I don’t know. I still don’t know.
I decided instead to wake up every morning determined to live as passionately as she did, to persevere through every test and task I’m faced with and maintain a child-like silliness that will keep me young till the day I die, like it did for her. I love you, Grandma. I’m so proud to call myself a Vargas woman.

August brought another PrayFit group start-up (woohoo!) and September brought an Open House and House Blessing on our home, we enjoyed having our friends and family over to celebrate the gift of a ‘new home.’ It was also wonderful because I called- Game Over with remodeling for the year and it’s been very nice to not work on the house every evening. And Robert has been relaxing, and that’s always nice to see. :-)

I faced those demons that I mentioned earlier, and my renewed peace, energy and positive outlook is a result of having gone through the fire. See? It’s possible. Scary… but totally possible.
I learned so much, 2011, too much to write down in a simple blog post, but one thing that stands out is this: I am no accident, I have purpose and I know what it is now. I need to be spending my time fulfilling what I was born to do.

And so 2011, you are fading fast, in a few hours you will be gone. You gave and you took away.  When we started out together in a cabin in Ruidoso I would’ve never believed the year that was about to unfold. It was one of the most difficult years that I’ve had in recent memory, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because it brought me here.. now.. and consequently prepared me for all that 2012 will bring.
And so… thank you, and Adios.

Staying on track at a party

Even if you didn’t know what the date was, you would know the year-end holidays were right around the corner by all the articles that pop up about surviving holiday parties when you’re dieting. They’re everywhere. But as I’m writing this, we’re heading into Summer, which for my family means lots of back yard birthday bar-b-ques, etc.
So what do you do when you’re heading to an event where you know there’s going to be lots of forbidden foods? Do you just say, “oh, well.” and plan on getting back on track the next day? Do you try and tough it out? How much is too much?
So here are some standard tips:
1. Don’t go hungry.
2. Don’t drink your calories.
3. Don’t hang out by the food/snack table.
4. Allow yourself one small treat so you don’t feel deprived.
5. Offer to bring food to the event so you’ll at least know you have something to eat.
These are all good tips, but lets break these down a little bit..

1. Don’t go hungry.
I happen to think this is a really great tip (this also could be applied when going to the grocery store, by the way), because when we’re hungry, our defenses our down, we pretty much want to eat everything in site because, dang-it we’re hungry! Something happens when we get to that level of hunger, we don’t think as clearly, we stop thinking about our goals and all our hard work because all that’s on our mind is eating. This seems like such a simple tip, one that would be so easy to do, just grab 2-3 ounces of protein or a handful of nuts before you walk out the door so you’re not starving when you get there. But I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people (who are trying to lose fat) say, “oh well, I can start over on Monday.” Or a hundred other ways to say- “I have no self control.”
You already know this but do you mind if I say it again?

Your success will be equal to your work

Little work will always equal little success and lots of hard work will always equal great success. This doesn’t just apply in the gym where we tend to think of the ‘work’ it also pertains to what we don’t do and what we don’t eat.  For me, that’s just as tough. But I approach an event or party the same way I approach a workout, with determination and grit. It’s no different to me. I want to succeed in my workout just as bad as I want to succeed in not getting off track at a party.

I’m sure you’ve probably heard that once you’ve tried something that’s forbidden (and this can apply to anything) it gets easier and easier to give in to it, till your defense is completely gone. Well, the opposite is also true, when you resist something that’s forbidden you get stronger and every time you resist it,
it gets easier and easier to do so, till it’s no longer a temptation.

Off the top of my head I have successfully stayed on track through 7 events in the last 2 months. What, am I counting? Uh… yeah! I love being able to say that. While so many around me are making excuses and already regretting, I’m holding the line. I’m just as proud of that number as I am for new personal records I set in my workouts.
So, that got a little long winded, bottom line: eat something healthy before you go (no really.. do it!) and approach your eating with the same determination that you do your workouts.

2. Don’t drink the kool-aid, i.e. stick to drinking water.
You’ve heard it a thousand times- don’t drink your calories, don’t drink your calories, don’t drink your calories. Right? You know that, right? :-) They’re more concentrated and you can easily go overboard with one sugary beverage (and who drinks just one soda?). So… what are you doing… drinking your calories? Try sticking to ice cold water (Yum!) or unsweetened ice tea with lemon to get you through, you’ll be glad you did.

3. Don’t hang out by the food/snack table.
This  is pretty obvious, but in case it’s not, let me explain. You’ve heard the expression- out of site out of mind, right? Well, that makes the opposite, also true. If its right there within eyesight and you can see the food and smell the food, etc. it’s almost impossible to resist getting seconds or thirds, or grazing when it’s so close by. It’s also, nearly impossible to stop thinking about the food and focusing on it and telling yourself- one more wont hurt. Just try getting your food, walking away from the table, sitting down with some friends and making the event about relationships and good times without the food being the focus. After all, it’s usually the conversations that make a get-together memorable, not the food.

4. Allow yourself one small treat so you don’t feel deprived.. well, maybe.
If you’re someone who can eat just one cookie or one small handful of chips, this tip is for you. If you’re not, it’s not. Some people can eat a very good meal even in the face of great temptation if they know they will get to have a small treat afterwords. Small being the key word. While others, cannot have that treat without it sending them into a downward spiral. So basically you need to be honest with yourself. You know you best. For me, it just depends on the day and I have to be honest on that day about which category I fall into. Typically though, I steer clear of all goodies and bad foods and go with an extra portion of fruit salad. While fruit is allowed on a Paleo/Primal diet, I don’t eat very much, so this would be a treat for me. This decision can really make or break your success, so decide before the event what you’re going to do and ask someone to hold you accountable for it.

5. Offer to bring food to the event so you’ll at least know you have something to eat.
This is a fantastic way to prepare a delicious dish that everyone will love AND make sure you have a side to enjoy with the meat that’s served. When you tell everyone it’s healthy and that YOU made it, they just might stop looking at you funny for eating your hamburger without the bun. Well, maybe.
Here are some great sites  that I use for delicious, healthy recipes:
Don’t be put off by the fact that these are low-carb or Paleo/Primal recipes, that just means that they use real, whole ingredients instead of processed ones, i.e. they’re healthy for you. :-)
So there you go, have a great time at your next event and approach it with confidence that you can not only survive but thrive with these tried and true tips. I would love to hear your strategies, and don’t forget to tell me in the comments below or on facebook how it went!