Stop the Homeschool Tears and Yelling, Part 2

Scathing words. Hard crystal eyes. “It’s your fault, Mom. You asked for it. If I was in school, we wouldn’t have this problem. If you can’t teach me, you shouldn’t have homeschooled.”

Well. Huh. This isn’t going well. Accusing responses build loudly, sounding like a jackhammer in my head. Somewhere in the house I hear doors softly close as siblings retreat out of the fray. Do I take the bait? I know this path. It’s easy to follow.

Nope. Not this time. I’m done with that. I make a mental HARD STOP. Immediately. I am not a fish! I do not jump on dirty worms hiding nasty barbed hooks. It is my job to bring out the best in my four children. It is my job to bring out the best in myself as I bring out the best in my children. (So help me, God. Because I am going to need it.)

I have been homeschooling for ten years, and I love it. And I’ll tell you what! My kids do, too. We have had our moments, months, or even years. There have been maybe two or three times when I finally broke down, couldn’t think of another thing to try, and offered to send a child to school for classes. (It is my full intention to homeschool all four of my kids through high school, but I am not here to ruin my children’s lives. I am here to help them thrive, learn, and be the best they can be, inside and out.)

However, my children have always turned me down in the end. They decided they liked the homeschooling education and opportunities, and they wanted to find a way to work together. I know I am the adult here. I know I can find a way to understand the dynamics. I was gifted these human beings. In today’s post and in the last post, I explain some important thoughts that I consider to keep me from antagonizing my children.

The Reflection of Me I Refuse to See

I am consistently beginning to notice that when my kids irritate me as I teach them, it’s because I am looking at (often subdued) pieces of myself. Every time tears glisten in my children’s eyes, there’s a good chance I have provoked them because “Big Terri” (that’s me) is reliving “Little Terri’s” life and school inadequacies. I’m not teaching math or grammar anymore! I’m covertly “teaching” my child what I had to squash out of me (or call forth out of me) in order to “succeed” in school.

Be quiet. Sit down. Do math faster. Lose math facts chalkboard races again. Quit counting on your fingers; you’re too old for that. Stop talking. No whining. Pay attention. You’re a good reader, but not good enough for that class. That’s bad handwriting; look at Melanie’s. Be number one or nobody will care or notice. How can you be so smart and not be able to add fractions? You talk too much. You’re trying to learn German, and we’re working on spelling. We’ll spank you because strong enough to be an example.

These are voice loops from my school experience. (And the paragraph got way too long, so I took half of it out! Laugh till you cry! And I was a good student! What kind of voices do non-conforming adults carry in their school memories?) Anyhow, I see an awful realization:

My teachers and lessons have become my kids’ teachers and lessons nearly thirty years later!

So often, whatever it is that I am losing my temper about is really about me. I am looking at a piece of me or my life somehow. It can take me months to see that I am so angry because my child is:

  • doing something I do,
  • doing something I have done,
  • doing something I have been reprimanded for or embarrassed over,
  • or showing me a trait of mine that I have squashed down so deep in me that I don’t even know the struggle is there anymore.

When I finally do see how it is not my child that I am punishing, but me, I’m dumbfounded. It takes courage and curiosity to see it. I have asked my friends sometimes about traits that I see in my children and if I have any of that in me. “Hmm. Never seen that in you, Terri. You’re perfect.” Thank you, dear friends. I know perfection surrounds itself with good company.

I must see that I’m judging myself when I judge them.

Stuff a sock in your thoughts and compliment your child.

Kids thrive on accurate, TRUE praise. I have very high standards, so I begrudgingly compliment my kids about their schoolwork. It’s expected work. But I KNOW that my kids do better when I tell them, “Great job!” Or, “You’re really good in multiplication.” The hard thing is, compared to all that is stuffed in my brain, they’re, uh, well, honestly, they’re not good at reading, writing, and math.

Whoa. I know. It sounds horrible to read. But I subconsciously base my evaluation of my kids on my brain after successful completion of thirteen years of public school, five years of pharmacy school, four years of medical school, and a medical residency. Plus living over forty years.

So, yeah, stuff a sock in your thoughts, Terri. I have to consciously tell myself that I need to encourage and compliment my children each day in each area. Sometimes it feels fake and like flattery, but I know that’s because I am thinking about it from a brain that has been educated already.

I must compliment more.

Sit with them.

This is the hardest for me, actually. Strangely, it’s even harder than all the others! And it requires nothing.

Sit. (That’s hard.)

Sit. Quietly. (Oh, just give me a kidney stone already.)

I’ve got lunch to make and supper to plan. Laundry to fold. Bills to pay. Mom’s birthday coming up. Other kids’ lessons to teach. A four year old to pull away from the TV.

I don’t have time to sit here for thirty minutes, mostly in silence, just waiting for my child to move forward somehow. What sixty minutes now? What? Two hours? Are you kidding me? She has accomplished nothing and brought me down with her.

No! This won’t work! I need to show my student how to her work, hurry her along to show me she’s got it, and then move on. Check-box marked.

But homeschooling doesn’t work that way. When there are struggles, especially coming out in anger and tears, I have learned that I must sit quietly with my kids as they work. I must not ask inflammatory questions or hastily push them along. I must be there to help. Not degrade. When they’re mad at me and trying to explain themselves, I must not interrupt. I must not even interrupt their silence! I must sit in silence as they formulate their words, sometimes requiring long, long tens-of-minutes of silence. I must sit next to them as they struggle through math, keeping my voice and thoughts calm and focused on them.

I must sit in silence.

School is an Option

When I’ve exhausted everything, every opportunity, and I still feel like what I’m doing is making us both worse people, then, I ask the hard question. “Do you think you need to go to school to learn this? Would you and I be better together if you took this class, and others if it leads to that, at a school?”

There has come a point in which I knew my parent-child relationship was deteriorating due to homeschooling interactions. I knew that in a particular area in homeschooling, I was letting a child down. I knew that even though I was trying my best, I wasn’t doing a good job! And I told my child exactly this. I think because of my exceptional honesty, my child decided that whereas she had been unwilling to budge before, she wanted to try it again with both us trying even harder.

I must be willing to let go if I have to.

You Should Have Made Me Do It

When I meet resistance in my children, I usually stop and assess the situation. I make some tweaks and changes in what we’re doing to coax them along. I don’t usually just plow through and make them do things “because I said so.” I’m a very strong-willed person, and this is a sure-fire way to lose me; therefore, I am cautious to treat my children how I would like to be treated.

I recently was in combat with one of my older children who was pointing out that I had let her slide through a school subject in her younger years. (I had tried everything throughout the years, and it only created resentment and anger. So I put it off till I could put it off no longer.) I asked her now that she could look back, what should I have done? She said, “You should have just made me do it.” Sigh. Easy for her to say.

At select times, I must be willing to push my child past the point she thinks she’s capable of.

Conclusion

And there you have it. Since they were born, I see my children as PEOPLE with futures. I just got lucky enough that these people got put in my arms to tend. When yelling and tears happen, I step back and take inventory. WHAT can we do here? WHAT is REALLY happening here? WHAT am I missing? God gave me these people. Their His people. What does He want me to know about them? What does He want ME to know about ME?

Best wishes to you! Find a way!

Terri F

Stop the Homeschool Tears and Yelling, Part 1

Listen. I love my kids so much. We all do. I mean mine are the best. Shine like stars. Thanks for loving them, too.

Okay. Kidding.

We all love our own kids immensely. We want the best for them. If you homeschool, you’ve decided that your home is the best place for them to learn their academics. But sometimes, there’s a kid who always makes you yell, even if you just won a million dollars, tax-free.

There’s one who you always make cry. You tell her she’s pretty in a harsh voice and she tears up. And you tell her she stinks in a soft, loving voice and she glows. Kids are crazy.

We have tears and yelling sometimes in our homeschool. It happens. Some years more frequently than others. Some school topics more frequently than others. Some kids more frequently than others. We have had tears or yelling over:

  • Where to put the apostrophe in English contractions
  • Whether to add or subtract numbers in elementary school story problems and pre-algebra problems (Example: Solve for X when X-357 =120)
  • Writing thoughts down on paper to construct paragraphs or essays
  • Failed crafts
  • The feeling that too much school work has been assigned
  • My voice
  • Their voice
  • Their eyes
  • My eyes
  • Critical remarks from on-line teachers
  • Not fitting in anywhere

Yep. We’ve had tears and yelling. Yelling and tears, to me, mean something is wrong. Something is not right. It does not mean my child is defiant. It means something is wrong, and the buck stops with me.

I’m going to assume if you’re reading this that you have tried the take-a -break, go-get- coffee, hold-hands-and-pray posts. You’ve learned all that. You’ve remembered to use your resources and identify learning styles. All that jazz.

Today and the next post, I want to point out a few ideas that I have internalized which have helped me through our trying homeschooling experiences, so we can stop the tears and yelling. I could write an e-book on this one day, I think. 🙂 But I’ll keep it somewhat short.

When I have to repeat myself, we’re heading for trouble.

From tricky (to the kids) math concepts to writing expository essays, when I hear myself explaining things I’ve explained before, I can tell you one of us will come to tears, exasperated words, or yelling. Whether it’s explaining something repeatedly in four different ways over the course of ten minutes or explaining it in thirty seconds reminders repeatedly over the last month, if they can’t remember important information or processes, I get testy.

The condescending questions start insidiously, “Why aren’t you getting this?” and “Why is this difficult for you?” They’re asked innocently enough, but they are the START flag to the race. My kids commence looking down at their papers, doodling, looking away from me. In their own ways, they’re trying to avert this situation, too, although it’s usually counterproductive.

So when I see myself explaining something multiple times, I know I’m on thin ice and I have to make sure I’m using every single adult neuron in my brain. I know if I don’t change my past behaviors, we will not move forward in any way, shape, or form. And that’s not okay. When the sign says, “Bridge out.” It means the bridge is out! When the signs say, “argument coming.” That’s what they mean!

Evaluate the fear in the situation.

Why do I deteriorate as a teacher and parent when my kids aren’t “getting it?” I have tried my hardest! My kid (yes, whether I believe it or not) has tried her hardest (as she perceives it). Why are we both so frustrated that she’s not getting it?

FEAR. And it is said that fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate. Whether it’s hating me, hating our homeschool, or hating writing, I don’t want my child to have anything to do with hating anything!

What fears do we have?

Mom’s fears:

  • My child is getting behind and is not keeping up with her peers.
  • Grandma and Grandpa are keeping tabs on our education, and here is another example for them to say I’m not doing a good job homeschooling.
  • My child won’t perform well on standardized tests (and college admission tests).
  • My child might have a learning disorder.
  • My child will never get this!
  • I can’t think of any more ways to teach this!
  • My child does not listen well and is going to grow up to be an absent-minded or insolent adult.
  • I must be a bad teacher.
  • My child does not try and will be lazy and not get a job in the real world.
  • My child will not be prepared for college.
  • I’m running out of time to get lunch made.
  • I’m running out of time to help brother and sisters with their homeschool topics.
  • I’m running out of time before we have to make this appointment.

Student’s fears:

  • I’m letting mom down.
  • I’ll never get this stuff. I’m not smart enough.
  • I really can’t remember what I’m told.
  • Mom is mad at me.
  • I won’t make it in college.
  • I will do badly on standardized tests.
  • I won’t have time to play with my friends if I have to do all this stuff.
  • Mom is going to give me more homework if I can’t figure this out.
  • Mom is disappointed in me.
  • Mom and Dad won’t love me if I can’t do school right.
  • I’m not as smart as my parents or brothers and sisters.
  • I’m going to have a late lunch because we’re working on this, and I’m so hungry.

That’s a lot of fear going around! Once I identify the fears, I come from a place of compassion for myself and my child–and not anger. That’s a healthier place to parent and teach from.

Conclusion

To summarize today’s post: 1) If you have homeschool tears and yelling, well, join the club! 2) Try the usual suggested things to head them off. (Take a break, change curriculum, find a friend to teach your kid, modify the environment, etc.) 3) Know you are responsible for finding a peaceful way through this homeschooling dilemma. 4) Identify the signs that pop up every time you have homeschool tears and yelling and heed them! 5) Give words to the fears behind the tears and yelling!

Kids are amazing. And so are you. Figure it out! You can do it!

Part 2 on Monday!

Terri

 

A “Whole” New Approach Diet Plan

pearsNo guilt, but if you’re looking for a diet plan, here’s a basic outline for one. You can start it any day of the year. Any hour of each new day. You can take off for your birthday and start the day after. Just eat this way nearly daily, always coming back to it after a day or two or month off, for the rest of your life, and you’ve got a good, successful, healthy diet plan. Tweak it how you want, although keep true to the whole, real food “bones” of the plan.

Health is important. Eating right is important. But most importantly, YOU are important. Eating is a tool to make YOU the BEST YOU! I would be so happy if you started seeing it that way! Please, if you have any questions on what I mean when I write, do ask!

Ready? Let’s go! (Click this link for printable PDF version: Whole New Approach Diet Plan)

The Goal: Take it down to 100% whole, real food that hasn’t been processed.

This is what you’re shooting for here: Pretend you had farms, orchards, and fishing boats all over the world. The food you’re about to buy or cook with should be something you could have grown, picked, gathered, pressed, squeezed or butchered from the abundance of your farm, orchard, or from waterways you travel.

Yes, it’s a real challenge in today’s world to eat this way! You may not need to do this forever to reach your health goals. Or maybe you will need to do this forever to maintain your health goals. But for right now focus on today! Plan for tomorrow.

Loosen up as your waistline and/or health goals allow. Loosen up when it becomes too cumbersome. But keep this as your goal, your vision, your “perfect” plan, so you don’t stray back to eating fast food or too many boxed foods.

Maybe you’ll make exceptions to making your own peanut butter or almond milk. I get it! But I do challenge you to try to eat completely unprocessed foods for a set length of time you determine. It is a real eye-opener!

Yes! You can eat any fresh, unpackaged fruit or vegetable.

Eat them how you want. Raw. Steamed. Poached. Baked. Boiled. They’re on the table. If you have an upset stomach from eating them, pay attention to which ones! Eat less of those. Try them prepared a different way. Or eat another kind.

Some people don’t tolerate certain fruits and vegetables well, but there is PLENTY to choose from! Look up something called “FODMAPS” and see if you can sort out which foods might be causing you abdominal distress. BUT don’t go too crazy with it! It’s your body, and the FODMAP tables are only guidelines.

Yes! You can eat any fresh meat that has not been processed.

Meats that are canned with nothing added can be used occasionally, like canned tuna or salmon. Bacon and cold cut meats are convenient but require caution because they are usually processed with added chemicals or fillers .

Sad face: No refined flours at all.

None. No exceptions. Read labels. Most whole grain products are made with refined flour also.

Another sad face: The goal is no added “sugar” of any kind to the food you buy.

No sugar. No honey. No maple syrup. No dextrose. And definitely no high fructose corn syrup. Buy food items without sweetener, and then, if it tastes “yucky,” sweeten it yourself just to the lowest sweetness you can tolerate. You can control “sugar” (or honey or maple syrup) this way. It’s a difficult rule. You may find yourself making some exceptions, but don’t make many.

No artificial colors added.

I can think of NO reason an artificial color is needed. Many children, especially, are sensitive to food dyes. All food dyes do is muck up the body and brain with no benefit to nutrition. Eliminate them.

No preservatives.

Like eliminating sugar, this is a tough rule. But it’s still important to not allow too many exceptions. Preservatives alter the VITAL gut bacteria that our bodies DEPEND on for health. I cannot stress enough how we must protect our gut bacteria to protect us from all disease states.

No more than 3-5 ingredients that you understand and have access to yourself should be listed in the ingredients for the product.

Do you understand maltodextrin? Or soy protein isolate? Don’t buy that stuff.

Oils and fats should be ones you could make right there on that farm or orchard we talked about at the beginning of the post! Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or butter are oils and fats you could make!

This is a huge, very important topic! Processed oils like Canola oil, soybean oil, and vegetable oil as they are purchased in the supermarket are faulty oils that place a large stress on the body. Liquid oils should have the date they were squeezed from the food they came from (called the pressed date) on them, and they should be simply pressed—not extracted under high heat and processed with deodorizers.

Solid fats should be solid naturally, like butter and coconut oil are. Margarine, Crisco, and hydrogenated fats are liquid fats that have been chemically processed to be solid. Do NOT eat them if you can help it.

Watch for food sensitivities, and be aware that gluten and dairy have lots of pesky proteins which make them top health offenders.

After eliminating processed foods, it’s time to explore if there are sensitivities. Common problematic foods include: eggs, nuts and seeds, grains, dairy, legumes, shellfish. But any food can cause symptoms. Anything you swallow can have side effects, and each person is different.

Closing

Do I eat this way?  It is my gold-standard, but I adapt it differently as life changes and puts me in different stages. This is the eater I’d like to be! But I do not feel guilt when life dictates that I must deviate!

Guilt is just a part of us screaming (or whispering) because it wants us to do the right thing. Guilt doesn’t make us healthy. In about four minutes, my four-year old will wake up and come find me on the computer here, trying to write this post. Guilt will tell me to stop writing now and be a good mother. Guilt will also tell me I’ll never be a writer because I don’t make time for it. My guilt is simply trying to help me do the right thing to find balance in my life. 

I don’t want you to have guilt about your eating. I just want you to do the right thing for your health, your body, and your mind. Usually, the path for that will be clear and you’ll stick to homemade soups and salads and yummy, crunchy nuts day in and day out! But then, there will be moments where eating unhealthy is the healthiest thing to do in that moment for you, like at your birthday or Christmas. Paradoxes like this make life a fun art!

Best wishes for a pattern of LIFELONG real, whole eating! I really want you to succeed in health and vitality in 2019 and onward! I would like for you to feel good and paint, sew, write, sing, or garden. I would like you to travel with your grandkids, bike with your friends, or climb up on the tractor for another season of harvest.

The world needs more real, whole, healthy people–inside and out! Eating is a tool to make you the best you. Are you eating that way?

Terri F

The Basics for 2019

I’m no good at graphic design, and I don’t know anything about symbols. But today, I’d like to share with you an image that has been a picture in my mind for over a couple of decades. Maybe you’ll let it help guide your 2019 health. When I was about 20 years old and far away from home at college, I hit a really hard time in life. I was imprisoned in a deep, disgusting, scary chasm with sides jutting straight up to the sky, and my feet and legs were mired in a bottom of black, sticky muck.

I knew deep in my heart that I would get out of there, that I would pull myself out. I knew I would have a future, a good one. I knew I would make that happen. I had faith in my long-term vision, but on a given day, it was so hard to see past the despairing, dark moment I was living in. Somehow, I observed that when I ate right, slept right, exercised, and prayed, I could deal with the emotional and psychological mess that was my life. But I had to do all those things together.

At that time, sleeping right meant simply that I went to bed at 10 or 11 o’clock at night, and I woke up at 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning, depending on class schedule. No more all-nighters. Eating right meant that I kept my meals to three meals a day contained on a plate, and I sat down to eat them, rather than binging through the kitchen. Exercising meant that I went to a gym and got my heart rate up for 20 minutes a day. And praying meant I talked with God (usually whining or crying or yelling): in my car, before meals, and before bed.

I started to pull out of the dark, sick mess, and I could feel moments of good and happy. With time and persistence (and people willing to help), I left the lowest, stickiest, sickliest point behind. I could look down and see where I had been. And I PROMISED MYSELF I WOULD NEVER GO BACK THERE. Ever. And I haven’t. I won’t.

Since then, the details of what it means for me to “eat right, sleep right, exercise, and pray” have changed, but the fact that I must be diligent to all these areas has not budged one bit. If I hit a stressful point in life now, I think of this image and ask myself if I am doing what I know needs to be done in each area. Usually, I’m being lazy in one of these aspects.

Happy New Year’s Day to you! I wish you the best. You CAN do it! Pull your head out, keep stepping in the right direction, move back in the right direction when you’ve danced off course, and get your life and health where you want them!

Look at your basics. Are you even doing them? If not, DO THEM. Make 2019 the year to be accountable to the basics.

I wish you the best.

Terri F

“Bomb the House” and Other Christmas Wishes

Photograph, public domain, PD-1923, by Dupons Brussel

I wish for toothspit that didn’t run down my wrist when I brush my teeth– and all kinds of other impossible things! I thought we deserved a little saucy humor (Saucy, not racy. Click away, dear, click away.) to turn up the corners of our mouths this last Friday before Christmas!

I wish everyone I love, and everyone I’m learning to love (Boy, why are some lessons so long?), a wonderful Christmas! If you’re on Earth, then you’re worthy of being here. (At least, that’s what my counselor and Good Book told me, so I’m going with it…)

May your Christmas wishes come true.

Sleeves are the New Rags

Nordstroms, the 79 Sweater, from Nordstrom’s website

I wish women’s clothes designers kept drooling toothspit, dirty dishes in sinks of dirty dishwater, and gas burners in mind when they designed their newest fashions. On second thought, maybe the designers are covertly mocking women. “If they want to do dishes, cook food, wipe off the table, or even brush teeth, let’s just put the rags on the sweater for them!” And we fell for it. And paid for it.

How Many TVs and Microwaves Do We Need in a Lifetime?

I wish when my microwave broke and I called to have it fixed, the salesman wouldn’t ask if I just wanted a new one. No. I don’t. I want my old one fixed. Imagine that. It’s easy if you try.

Is the Internet down? Or Is It My Head?

I wish the internet was just attached to my head. I pay bills on it. I sign up for the kids’ music and sports activities on it. I take continuing education courses on it. Coaches communicate with me on it. I renew licenses on it. I plan vacation on it. Then, if my head wasn’t working, I could just blame it on the internet service, which never seems to work at my house no matter the internet provider. 2019, anybody?

Keep the Microwave. Bomb the House.

The Great Fire of London, with Ludgate and Old St. Paul’s, painting, public domain, sourced from Wikimedia Commons

After having kids, I do wish I had a disposable house. It was really pretty once. But I don’t know what that spot is. Or that one. Or this one. That one is green smoothie. (Kale is good for kids but not the carpet.) Those ten or so are black coffee. All my fault. I take the blame for those. Over there? Too embarrassing to say.

I don’t know what happened to that light fixture. Or that door handle. Or that window. Let’s not even talk about, much less look at–and definitely avoid sitting on–the couch.

Let’s just pack up the microwave and a few belongings and torch the place. “Bomb the house!” Picture us just escaping through the front door together as a family, with the blazing brightness of a house in flames silhouetting our narrow escape…

Closing

I have more. Oh boy, do I! I was just getting started. But this is all I have time for this Friday morning. I’ve got to go work on my lessons (remember back when I started, how I mentioned some lessons were really long–and hard?!). And see if my slouchy sweater unravels when I cut the sleeves off. I mean, I have WORK to do! I might try holding my toothbrush at a new angle today, too. And the house…

Have a wonderful Christmas. I love life, and I love finding ways to appreciate and learn from everything it sends me. That is my Christmas wish for you. That you can learn to embrace life and find ways out of the burning house. There are ways. There are beautiful things and beautiful people everywhere. You do not have to stay stuck.

Merry Christmas!

Terri F

For People Angry at the World (Probably Geared More to Christians)

Sometimes I get really angry at the world. Then, I remind myself that I don’t understand much. And what I think I understand, I eventually find out that, really, I did not understand.

But each day, I think I do understand that I can do better, be better, and love better in ALL places of my life and heart. Because I have been shown how by the story of One who chose to love all people and follow God’s true path, the path that humans had lost sight of, despite the cost. And my anger starts to fizzle.

I don’t understand Him. I don’t understand many of His words and their depth. They honestly confuse me. But sometimes, when I “do it right,” I feel it. I feel something right and different. And I like it and want more.

And when I mess up, because He said so, I know I can get back to that place. That place is never one of self-righteousness, achievement, or condemnation. It’s one of utter humility, oneness, and love of the people around me. I don’t always feel it (Oh, don’t I!), but I’ve felt it. And I like it. And I want more of it. So I seek His ways. And when that right feeling is given back to me, I know I’m on the right track.

Merry Christmastime to you. Eat well. Live well. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Seek wholeness. The God who heals, fulfills–and replaces anger.

Your health is where your heart is. Explore your heart.

Terri F

 

Image attribution: Gerard van Honthorst – Adoration of the Shepherds (1622). This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.

Encouragement and Self-Inquiry for Those Struggling with Food

I have just always liked food, even to the point of food addiction, I’d say. About six years ago when I changed to a whole, real food diet for gastrointestinal health issues, I saw the huge effects different foods had on me (and my brain). I promised myself that for the rest of my life I would keep eating whole, real food that I tolerated well, and I would stay away from processed foods and foods that inflamed my body.

I have failed at times in this, sometimes by conscious choice and other times by rash decisions. But I have always come back to where I need to be, and I want you to, too.

I don’t know what’s in your head. I don’t know the life experiences or the kind of parents you have had. I can’t help you.

But I do believe you can help yourself from the inside out. You really can. I genuinely hope that you succeed in changing any mindsets that keep you locked in place. Here are some questions to challenge your food and weight concerns, and also some encouragement for you today.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

“It’s too much to lose…”

“I am 50 pounds overweight. I’ve lost 8.1256, but I have 50 more to go. That overwhelms me because the number is so big….”

This is all fairly objective information which is easily verifiable by measurements and a BMI chart, except for the “number is so big” part. Is it “so big?”

If I told you that you had to pick up 50 sticks in the yard, would that be scary? Or that you had to go to the store 50 times this week? Or find 50 things in your house that you HAD to get rid of? It would be hard, but I know you could do it.

“So big” is one pound at a time. When you start thinking about 100 pounds or eating this way for forever, that’s when it becomes SO BIG. Too big! Focus on today. Focus on this meal. Focus on this bite. Focus on the little, and the “so big” becomes reality over time, in small pieces.

“I’m doubtful I can do it because food is too delicious…”

Is the food too delicious? Then, and I’m not kidding, choose blander, whole, real foods. (First and foremost, your diet needs to be mostly whole, real foods anyhow. If it’s not, you need to start there.)

But if you’re still overweight on real, whole foods, then it’s time to make it even more whole and more real. For example, I consider roasted and salted nuts as real food—BUT plain, raw nuts are even “more real.” And boy do I eat a heck of a lot less of them!

I consider homemade mashed potatoes as real food, but I eat a lot more of those than I do plain baked potatoes with just salt and pepper.

You have to eat. But if you overeat, you may need to set boundaries around the flavor of your food.

“I have too much stress in my life…”

Do you have too much stress in your life? Why? Do you need to let go of negative relationships? Do you need to change the dance of a negative relationship to empower yourself? Do you need to back out of commitments you promised you’d do? Do you need to change jobs? Do you need to move?

Most of my stress comes from how I think about things and also taking on too much. Maybe if I can change how I think about things, I can change how I think about and treat food. Maybe if I don’t take on too much, I won’t need to self-medicate my stress with food.

“I think I am too weak…”

Do you think you’re weak? Why? Do you have low self-esteem? Do you have too much self-doubt? Are you too perfectionistic and you can’t live up to your standards so you don’t try? Are you in a relationship which berates you daily?

Can you think of times and areas you are strong in? If so, you’re not weak, you are weak in specific areas and just need some work in those.

I repeat: You are not weak. You have weak areas that, once you identify and choose to deal with, you really can reconstruct with the rebar of change, self-acceptance, and love.

You are strong. Look for your strengths and use them to administer to your weaknesses, and you will see your food life change.

Challenges We Face

“I don’t like to prepare food or cook…”

Would it help to prepare food with a friend? Could you eat more raw food? If you lost weight, would it be easier to cook because your knees would feel better? If you’re eating real, whole foods right for you, would you have more energy? Would one of your children who likes to cook be willing to make things you can eat if you explain to them you need some help losing weight for good?

You can navigate around this! Find a way! Talk it out with a trusted friend or family member!

“It irritates my husband (or wife) that I eat this way and won’t eat or drink with him (or her) and our friends…”

Are you neglecting yourself and your own needs in your marriage and food is simply another expression of that? Could you find something to share with your spouse, like a steak or a glass of dry, red wine that wouldn’t tip your eating over the cliff? Are you being too condescending towards your husband or wife with regards to his or her eating habits? Could you be a little less rigid and still succeed?

Relationships are the best, but only if you bring your whole self and your best self to the table.

Closing

These are just a few thoughts. Maybe you have more! Maybe you can share some inspiration for others in the comment box! It’s Christmas time, and this is probably the biggest six-week food challenge of the year! Let’s support one another. Even if you don’t like people. 😉

Don’t spend too much. Don’t eat too much. Don’t take on too much. And let your emotional baggage go.

Signing off.

Terri F