Everyday Grace

thoughts and inspiration on emotional health by colleen p. arnold

Archive for the month “April, 2011”

Fantasies of Being Thin

From way back when I was a little girl to my early 30’s, I had a very definite idea of what I wanted to look like at my wedding. I imagined walking regally down the aisle in my tall, elegant sheath. When I actually got engaged and tried on wedding dresses, they didn’t look anything like what I’d imagined. I looked in the mirror and realized that I had failed to take into account the fact that I was only five feet tall and rather busty. Either I had been imagining that the act of putting on a wedding gown would cause me to grow 7 inches and lose several cup sizes, or I was imagining someone else in that wedding dress instead of myself.

I had to reassess myself and my body, and go find some different, less sheath-like gowns, and realize that even on my wedding day, I was still going to be the shortest adult there.

What do you imagine life will be like after you reach your goal weight? I am a huge believer in visualization, and in the past I have visualized myself at whatever weight or size I deemed at that time to be “thin.” But sometimes visualization can work against you, as evidenced by the things I seemed to think would happen when I could wear those size 6 shorts:

  1. I would spend a lot more time outdoors.
  2. I would be far more graceful.
  3. I would kayak and go camping regularly.
  4. I would be tanner.
  5. I would be happier.
  6. I would be calmer.
  7. I would be smiling most of the time.
  8. I would stand at the edge of cliffs and not worry that the wind might be pressing the dress against my protruding stomach.  (???… I think I must have gotten that one from a magazine spread.)
  9. I would be good at sports.
  10. I would look more tousled and sexy in the morning instead of caffeine-deprived and drooly.

I eventually realized that if I really wanted to kayak regularly, I should go do it now instead of waiting for some magic number to appear on the scale. Turns out I enjoy the random kayak trip, but it’s not something I even want to do regularly.

I’m never going to tan. I’m an Irish redhead. Deal with it. Losing weight is also probably not going to make me less of a klutz or make me smile all the time. And even when my mother weighed 95 lbs., she had a potbelly that I inherited, and really, how often do I stand on the edge of cliffs in filmy dresses?

Take a good look at what you imagine life will be like when you reach your goal: What parts of your fantasies are realistic (finishing a ½ marathon, having more stamina) and what parts aren’t (being so much more satisfied with your life’s routines than you are now). What’s your version of suddenly turning 5’7”?

Imagine what it’s really going to look like when you reach your goal. What’s your routine going to be like? If you’re focusing on increasing healthy habits and decreasing unhealthy ones, it should look pretty much the same as it does now. Live as if you’re already there, and stop waiting for the magic day when the scale says what you hope for. Research has shown repeatedly that focusing on weight loss doesn’t create lasting results – but changing lifestyle habits, being healthy and loving your life right now does.

Also posted at: Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans

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Online Collage-Making with Oprah

I’m a huge fan of collages. I’ve done them for almost every large goal I’ve had. I’ve actually moved boxes of old magazines kept for cutting and pasting from one apartment to another and finally to my garage (until my husband made me get rid of them, which is fine because there are always new magazines…and now, the cool thing called the internet). Collages help you visualize your goals and get your left brain involved, and I believe that the more of your brain you involve in a plan, the more likely that plan is to be realized.

Oprah has a tool on her website now where you can peruse lots of Getty stock images, without the cluttering magazine buildup, and create your own dream collage. Here’s mine: I included my four pillars to living my value-centered life: Live Simply, Nourish Your Connections, Accept the Light and the Dark, and Believe in Your Calling. A friend of mine thought about where she wanted her life to be as she approaches a milestone birthday. I’d love to see some of yours! You’ll have to register with the site if you aren’t already, but you can make as many boards as you like.

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