As for my no sugar, no booze, keepin’ it clean and feelin’ good plan – well, last week was tougher than the others. With the snow storm, being exhausted from work (so much exciting stuff going on!) and at my wits end with the stress in my extended family, I just wanted to hunker down on the couch with Joe, glass of red in hand, and relax. Was that too much to ask for? Was I really oh so bad for wanting this? Did I not deserve it? Deserves got nothin’ to do with it, ladies. (Mr. Eastwood, please forgive my substitution). Sure I deserved to relax – and one could argue I deserved a nice glass of wine after being so good for 3 weeks. But what I deserve more than that is to feel good about myself. I knew I would enjoy the heck out of that glass of wine – but I also knew I would feel badly if I broke my word to myself. And I don’t deserve to feel badly. So I spent literally HOURS Friday night wrestling myself my mind. Back and forth. Tug of war between my two desires: indulgence or sticking to my guns. I told myself, “No one would know.” And “ I could just not blog about that part.” I even tried the justification of doing it and using it as an opportunity to write an “how to forgive yourself” blog – I mean you’d all love that right? I could cut my little project short, would any of you really notice? I could honestly say that I am very proud of how great I’ve done these past 3 weeks. Sure 4 would’ve been better, but 3 was great. This is all true – but it’s not what I said I would do. I didn’t crack open a bottle of wine and I didn’t indulge in any Valentine’s Day chocolate. Did I feel deprived. Yes I did, but just for a little bit. When I put that on par with how great I feel overall by keeping my word to myself and how renewed my self-confidence is, that feeling vanished about as fast as it arrived. Turns out I have more stamina to feel good than to feel bad. Sweet. This past week really illustrated exactly what my coping skills are: working out (a good one, but wasn’t able to utilize this much with my injuries lately); wine and chocolate. Luckily for me they are pretty much in that order however, it was interesting to see just how many times per day I wanted to escape anxiety or stress and just comfort myself. This project is about learning, so what did I learn? I was honestly a little shocked that nearly every day I have the thought, “This has been such a tough, long day I would really love a glass of wine”. No wonder I’ve been having a tough time leaning up lately! And it wasn’t even always to feel better, sometimes I wanted to celebrate. Several times this past week I thought, “This is so freaking awesome, let’s celebrate with a glass of wine!” (By now, I’m sure you’re all thinking I have a drinking problem….) I also realized that my first year as a mom was one of the most stressful and emotionally challenging of my life. The lack of sleep, extreme pressure I put on myself to do everything – and do it perfectly – and the constant reminders that I did not have it figured out were much harder than I let on. As I missed night after night of sleep, I had a hard time working out consistently. Between that and breastfeeding, my diet was less than ideal for me. Not horrible, but amazing how a few bad habits cost me a lot of progress. These bad habits arose because I felt I deserved little rewards for working so hard and feeling so worn out. It’s easy to see how it happened, and I can forgive myself for rewarding myself a bit too often with treat. But back to the task at hand: leaning up. These treats were hard to part with, I mean they make me feel good – at least temporarily. But some days that’s all we want right? Just to feel better at least for a bit. Not the right attitude for fat loss. It took a month of good clean livin’ to get my mind right again. It could’ve been any stressful event or life circumstance for any one of us. For me it was being Dr Mommy. As my inbox piled up with emails I couldn’t seem to get to and baby, in the way that they do, needed me 24 hours a day, I cut myself a lot of slack with my diet. The upside was that I wasn’t freaking out about hating my body as I’d done in the past. We have to remember to see the successes, no matter how small, and not just the failures. Not sure if it was the hormones of breastfeeding or the desire not to pass on my neurosis to Lola that helped me nip this, but this part has been better. The downside was that I got into several bad habits. My diet was always full of more veggies than most, I stayed gluten free, etc. but I had let myself slip down the slope of too many chai teas with honey at my favorite coffee shop, sharing a gluten free treat with Joe more days than not and far too many days ending with “I deserve a glass of wine”. My days felt so challenging that it was all I could do to not reward myself. You other moms – or just busy women in general – know what I’m talking about. We push and push ourselves at work, at home, at the gym and much of it is done out of some fear of not being perfect…and let’s just say it, of failing. We have all our plates spinning in the air and rarely do we think, “I’m friggin’ awesome for even getting half of this stuff done!” We spend a lot of time thinking we should be doing it better, we aren’t perfect, we haven’t yet gotten into perfect shape, or we have but we’re terrified of losing it. We feel anxious and on edge – fearing the house of cards will soon fall down.Time we give ourselves a little credit – and a little self-love as a reward (I know it’s not chocolate, but it’s pretty tasty). I’m working my way through Gabrielle Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles and there is an entire week of exercises devoted to self-love. One exercise is particularly unnerving: saying I love you to yourself in the mirror. Try it. Harder than it sounds for many of us. I spoke with a patient of mine working through the book too and she said she physically couldn’t utter the words. That makes me so sad….and I totally get it. We seem to have our stuff all backwards. We think, I’ll be more lovable when I’m perfect – when I’m getting it all right. What we really need it all that self-love WHILE we’re trying so damn hard to do it all. And guess what? We’ll never be perfect so if we’re waiting for that we’ll miss out on the love anyway! So knock it off. (Yes Brooke, I’m talking to you.) So find at least 5 ways to love yourself that actually feel as good as a cocktail. If taking a bubble bath is boring to you, don’t do that! Find some stuff that actually gets you all warm and fuzzy feeling. I love buying little things for our apartment: a fun new plate, a cute magnet, a delicious smelling candle. I am really affected by my “space” so I like to nurture it (decorate it, clean it). I journal – a lot. I listen to music that makes me happy (music changes my mood in an instant). I run through my list of gratitudes: Joe, Lola, my practice, etc. I hug my adorable baby. I text with Joe if we’re apart because he always makes me laugh. Really relish and enjoy these things, they are all seemingly small but stuff to feel pretty lovey about. And I’m learning to say I love you in the mirror…..I figure it’s like anything else: I will get better with practice. If all this feels a little hokey – get used to it. It’s worth it. It’s amazing how a big hug for yourself can settle anxiety….perhaps even more than wine.