Tag Archives: self-care

Weight Loss vs Wellness: Measuring the Circumference of the Moon

I remember distinctly the moment I learned to suck in my stomach. I was in 7th grade and heading back into the locker room from a football workout. I had taken off my pads and was in the customary half-shirt. And as I saw a cheerleader coming my direction down the hallway, I remember sucking in my gut, thinking, “There’s Betty.” She noticed me. She missed the sucking in part. A week later we were “going steady” whatever that means in 7th grade. I’m sure we kissed a bit.

As an adult male I still have this reaction when I see an attractive woman. I’m trying to notice when I do it, and see who or what triggered the response. One big awareness I came to, after watching my own reflection in a store window at the mall:

You can’t suck in your love handles.

I’m walking away from the old unconscious eater, and becoming a stronger, healthier, and eventually thinner person.

Crap. That’s where my shape gets it’s shape. From the front you don’t really notice my stomach, though it could be a lot slimmer, you notice my handles. I’m sure this is a similar conundrum that has plagued ladies for a long time.

So, part of this quest is about understanding my own body, my impressions of self, and how I talk to myself about body image and fitness. And while weight loss seems to be a natural goal of this program/site whatever I am doing here, my real focus is fitness and wellness. Oh, and love handle reduction.

I was talking to my brother yesterday about health and fitness. (He had a heart attack two years ago, and I was curious about his wellness and fitness activities.) He wanted to know how my weight loss was coming. I had to think about it.

“I don’t even know, right now. That’s not exactly my focus.”

“Oh,” he said. “It this restaurant okay for your diet?”

“Yes,” I said. “I can make better choices where ever I go. That’s really what I’m writing about. How to step towards my goals, rather than away from them. And understanding what’s going on in my thinking when I’m craving something sweet or salty, and trying to keep going for the healthy meal.”

And I’m still thinking about this question 10 hours later. “What is my diet? Am I on a diet?”

Here’s what I think I’m “on.”

  • Learning about my own psychology of cravings, snacking impulses, and when/why I make poor choices.
  • Uncovering resistances to exercise and removing them.
  • Exercising more frequently and upping the intensity as my body is ready for it.
  • Choosing the apple over the Triscuit every time.
  • Watching portions and overall intake at all times. I would eat until I was full. Now I try to leave a little room. “Room to not grow on.”
  • Eliminate unconscious sugar. When I eat a sweet or dessert I want to enjoy it. But sugar in my tortilla chip, no way.
  • Awareness of my energy and daily cadence. Often I will break with the program when I’m extremely tired or overly hungry.
  • Listening to my negative self talk and gently modifying the phrases to be loving and supportive, rather than hurtful or shameful.
  • Accepting exactly where I am, every day, and starting from there. No matter what I ate yesterday, or how many times I worked out, I can begin again each day with a YES attitude.
  • Focus on the health and wellness benefits of my program rather than focusing on weight loss.
  • Loving my love handles into smaller and smaller versions of themselves.
  • Getting to a point in my fitness where I don’t have to suck in my stomach, ever.
  • Taking the next step towards fitness and wellness, always.
I am learning about myself and why I eat certain foods and how those foods affect my body and make me feel.

I’m not on a quick weight loss plan. I know there are plenty more things I could do right this second to radically improve my weight loss program, but I’m trying to build a lifestyle and enjoy the journey. I could meet with a fitness coach, I could start with a trainer or life coach, I could get more serious about what I’m doing, but I’m not that serious about it. Well, I am, but my “way” is going to be more organic, more about me and my thinking. And of course, my eating and exercise are a huge part of that. Along the way I may ask questions of my friends who are trainers, fitness buffs, coaches, nutritionists, but I think I’m happy with my progress so far, regardless of my love handle measurement.

I am learning about myself and why I eat certain foods and how those foods affect my body and make me feel. I am learning how to control my sugar intake and overall calorie intake: never over eat, always feel my way through a meal, and when I’m satisfied stop eating. I do not ever need to be a member of “the clean plate club” of my childhood. And dessert, while a staple in my family of origin, is more of a rare treat in my life. And every day I can make better choices.

I’m walking away from the old unconscious eater, and becoming a stronger, healthier, and eventually thinner person. My plan is working perfectly. And the measurement today, is inside.

I didn’t get my love handles overnight, and I won’t reduce them in an overnight fast either.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

Most annual weight gain is due to the holiday feasts.Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 8.32.39 AM


And sugar intake has become a big problem for all of us.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 8.31.58 AM

References and Inspirations:


Even the Smallest Detail Says Something About Me

I’ve got a confession to make, and it’s not pretty. It’s more like a toadstool, actually. It’s a fungus. Here you go.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.14.43 AMGross, right? Of course, that’s the treatment, not the issue. The issue is a lot deeper, I’m afraid.

If we can put off getting fit, the big issues, how easy it becomes to sublimate the smaller issues. But it’s the smaller issues that may hold an important key.

Take a look at the smallest detail of your health and wellness program and ask yourself how am I doing at caring for myself? Am I taking care of the details? See if you stay focused on the bigger issues, like weight loss and blood pressure and eating less sugar, you might miss some of the more insidious issues, the ones that have plagued you for a while, but that you tend to ignore.

Here’s the meta question. How are you taking care of yourself?

As you let the small issues go, in my case a gross big toe, you are giving your body, and your overall self-image a deep and powerful message. “It’s not all that important.” Oh, but it is.

I am learning this all the time. The subtle ways you treat yourself illustrate deeper issues. When you ignore a little problem, like a painful tooth, or an unhealthy toe, you are sending a ton of on-going messages to yourself. I’m not worth it. I don’t have time to take care of myself. It’s not that important. It can wait.

All of these internal sounding boards will undermine your best plans. I’m still not ready to make the call to the laser-empowered doctor above. But why not? Money? Time? Fear? I don’t know, exactly. What I do know, is that this “shame” of mine, that I’ve been carrying around in my shoe for over 10 years, is not going to go away on its own. The creams and over-the-counter remedies are not going to miraculously start working, no matter what the guy in the nail salon says about *his* treatment, for just $21.98.

But the issue is more about me. I discount the problem. I don’t listen to the groans of my daughter when she spots my toe during a summer swim. I don’t hear my body saying, “Hey, we’ve got a problem down here. Are you listening?”

And with every action I take that is not making the appointment and getting my toe treated, is a step away from my own self-care. Why wouldn’t I take care of it?

Get clear, get clean, and get honest with yourself, down to the minor details of the big picture.

It undercuts my work on my overall wellness, I think. Sure, I’m newly focused on the big issues: committing to eating quality “whole” foods, getting more exercise, and helping my body shed some of its *sad* weight. If we can put off getting fit, the big issues, how easy it becomes to sublimate the smaller issues. But it’s the smaller issues that may hold an important key.

If we begin to identify and address even the smallest issue, we are telling ourselves, “Yep, you are worth it. Even to the smallest detail. You are worth being more svelte in your skin, and you are worth having healthy and sparkling toenails.” I continue to try and tell myself it don’t matter. Every thing matters.

So out with the little pains, the little shames, the little issues we choose to ignore. In the same way I am ferreting out the hidden sugar in my life, I’m now going to illuminate the hidden issues that I tend to hide or write off as unimportant. If I am really committed to wellness and self-care, no issue is off the table.

In the morning, I check with this laser dude and see if my insurance will cover any of the treatment.

Get clear, get clean, and get honest with yourself, down to the minor details of the big picture.

I love the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And by the way, it’s all small stuff.” And the corollary is just as true. The details are essential to understanding the whole. Sugar intake is an easy target for improvement. How well I take care of myself and my little issues, is core to unlocking my full sparkling and healthy body.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

Reference: Harvard Family Health Guide on Toenails
Your toenails reveal a lot about your overall health and can provide the first sign of a systemic disease.


In many ways I’m telling myself, “No, you’re not worth it.”