She was unstoppable, not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them! -Unknown
See, I have a demon in my head, the voice, that inner critic. You know the one, the one that often starts with “you can’t” or “it’s just one piece” or maybe even “you’re not that good”. I’ve had each and every one of these and probably hundreds of others throughout the years. The one that has screamed at me most is that of my weight and body image. This one for me tends to lead into other areas but the culprit, yep, it’s all about the weight. To give you a snapshot, I’ve been 305, I’ve been 140 and I’ve lived everywhere in between.
Forty-two years my friends. Forty-two years of negative body image self-talk. Oh my gosh to even write that makes me want to tell the world how important it is that we be kind to ourselves. See for most of my life, I was that person who would look in the mirror and criticize every single part of me. I never needed anyone else to, I was good enough at doing it myself. And, other people sure didn’t help. Looking in the mirror, picking myself apart, “look at that spare tire”, “oh my, your muffin tops getting huge”, or even worse would sneak in, “what boy could ever possibly like you”. Then of course I would have to look at my face, “your smile really look at those imperfect teeth” and “chubby baby cheeks” and “come on those wiggly arms”. Friends, it’s really quite sad what we are willing to say to ourselves. I would never even consider talking to anyone like this.
Most of my growing up years, I was overweight. At some points I was probably classified as “Obese”. I remember it clearly, doctors saying when I was young, your overweight, your obese with no care to understand the why’s or help me get the right mental state of mind to overcome for life. I ate my feelings, I would eat when I was happy, eat when I was sad, I think you get the point. When others would criticize my size, it would make me eat more. I was that person who would hide food, so no one would see me eat. But, I was always active and very outgoing. I was ambitious, put myself out there to talk to new people, all the time. If there was a boy I liked, oh he knew it. And, any fundraiser we did for school or extra curriculars, that’s right I was going for first. Food was my one, the one I couldn’t control, the demon in my head who has always told me I am not good enough or strong enough or worthy enough to be fit. At the times I got fit, I didn’t see it, at times I was even harder on myself. No weight or physical appearance was good enough.
Let’s speed it up to my early twenties. By this time I had lost close to 100 pounds. My max weight shortly after high school was about 305 or so. I’m certain the weightloss had something to do with no longer sitting on my butt all day in school. I was on the go all the time. I don’t remember changing my eating habits all that much at this point. Of Course, once I hit 21, it was dancing every night in the clubs that burned mad calories. Still at just over 200 pounds and still classified as “Overweight”, yes sad, we classify people. I was horrible to myself. The compliments I would get were amazing. Yet, I never took them, I would criticize what I still had to do. “Still have 50 pounds to go or look at this gut, wiggling it” . You guys if I ever heard someone talking to themselves like this I would help and redirect. Why on earth would we talk to ourselves like this?
Over the course of my twenties and early thirties I did drop that last 50 and them some. I ended up getting to about 140 which was a bit too small for me. What no one knew is I don’t recall at any point feeling good about how I looked. Compliments would still give me that, “but look at this pooch” thought. Even as I write this my heart hurts for every single person out there who has yet to learn how to appreciate and be gracious for the things you have accomplished in life. And to appreciate how far you have come. During these times I had some pretty good swings up and down. I would range about a 20-30 pound swing from 150-180 at any given time. Don’t get me wrong, I had some pretty awesome feeling moments looking at my tanned self in a size 6 daisy dukes. And at my High-school reunion oh yeah it was on! In a little mini skirt with my hottie by my side whoa, to all the haters in high school, it made me feel amazing to know how far I had come. This would have been my chance, my chance to redirect, change the path to positive. If we could help others to get there, help redirect how they look at themselves. Boys and girls alike would have far less self-image struggles.
Part is from what I saw and heard growing up. I LOVE my family dearly and so say this with only the most love, I saw my mom cut herself down in regards to her weight as long as I can remember. If someone would have helped shape her image perhaps it would have changed the trajectory for me. Of course, the “Jenny really are you eating that” or “we should take you to the fat farm” never helped.
Forty two years my friends that’s my age today and it wasn’t until recently that I finally started working on how I talk to myself in the mirror each day as it relates to my weight and how I look and talk to myself about myself. The great news for all of us, we can change at any point in our lives and start directing those thoughts in an empowering positive way.
Whether your negative is weight related or something else here are a few tips that I use for me.
Always remember how good you really are!!
Much love friends!
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
This little word has held me back in so many areas throughout the years and caused so much anxiety. Truth is, this one word describes part of why it took me so long to get started with Jen’s Happy Mail and this blog. We have all heard the comments, “don’t compare yourself”, “be yourself”, “we love you just the way you are” and I’m sure a lot of others. I’m here to say that anyone who has told you these things is exactly right, and they left out that fact that it’s freakin’ hard. The voices sneak in and if you don’t catch them quickly, yep there is the rabbit hole of negative. But, Why? We are all truly better and more capable then we let ourselves believe so why do we let the accomplishments of others slow us in our tracks. Yes, they are accomplishments, great for them for doing whatever it is they have done. We have no idea what it took for them to get to where they are. Let’s celebrate the wins that they have had. We should start looking at this as a goal, a target, a “that’s my goal”! So why do we do it?
Let’s start by looking at what comparison does.
OK, so we know the impact or at least some of the ways it can impact us, what can we do about it? First things first, don’t stress yourself more about it, start shifting, small wins. It’s all about progress not perfection.
It’s time to stop allowing all the great things you have done and great things you have to offer be forgotten or go unnoticed by the false expectations you are putting on yourself by comparing yourself to others.
Always remember you are pretty freakin’ amazing!!
In the good words of Jen Sincero, “You are the only You there is. And you are the only you that will ever be”.
Be who you are, live your truth and go after the thing you want from life.
Much love friends!
Emotions are such an interesting, sometimes hard, crazy thing. I had a day this week. Actually, it fed right to the next day. I took a very quick negative spiral into the abyss of frustration followed by anger then to add to it decided to wrap it all together with sadness and worthlessness. See, I’m someone who tends to “beat herself up” (figuratively speaking of course) when I feel that I’ve let someone down, it’s tough! People are such an important part of my life, I want to help lift them up (again figuratively). When I see someone hurting, emotionally, physically, whatever it is, my initial instinct is to help support them. This right here can be very tasking on my emotions when I get into the spiral. Or, what some people call the negative mind loop, it really takes awareness to turn around.
Here’s what happened. I’ve been in leadership roles for a very very long time. Each of the four companies I’ve held leadership roles with have varied in culture and expectations. The thing for me that holds true anywhere as a leader, manager, or coach is that there are certain things one should do. Three of which being, expectations should be clearly set, support given when needed and accountabilities adhered to. I really enjoy empowering people and allowing them to put their own “twist or personality per se’ on things”. Anyway, as a leader when you are responsible for holding people to expectations it is a balance so as to not “micro-manage” which from my point of view I am very far from that. This is a whole other topic that is not meant for today but there are so many misconceptions of what micro-managing really is. Anyway, this is what hit me and put me into that abyss, the spiral, ugh. Being called a micro-manager gets me to my core you guys. This my friends is what is called a “Trigger”.
The first thing you must do when this happens is catch it. You can be having a great day. You’re happy, at peace, whatever it is then something happens, your heart sinks, or starts racing, you get angry, sad, or frustrated, when you feel it, take a step back and pinpoint what triggered these emotions. Identify as many details as possible. If you can, try to note the times of day it happens, are there patterns? Once you have identified what triggered you, it makes it easier to work through what to do next time it comes up.
Next, look at the facts of your details and ask yourself, are they true? Here’s an example, for me. I had to look at the facts about my leadership style and question, am I micro managing? There are times as a leader, you have to. This was not one of those moments. When I took a step back and looked, it was so much easier to see. If it’s true and you can grow from the information, use it. It is OK to say, “I can do better in this area”. You guys, if you knew all the areas that I have screwed up and grown from it, oh boy! I know this can be hard especially if you are someone who tends to be harder on themselves like I am but trust in the fact that it will truly make you stronger. Please remember this from me, “You are human today and every day” embrace it! I am thankful to have you in my life, give yourself a break, be thankful for being able to make mistakes. If you need a reminder email me, I’ll remind you!
Now you know the trigger, this is great, you can be ready for the next time it shows up. It’s easier to overcome when you are equipped to deal with it. Keep in mind that even though you are aware and ready there will still be times it catches you completely off guard like this day did for me. First thing I do to be ready when my emotions come in strong, I have my list of positives. For me, it’s hard to see the positives in the moment so if I have my “you ROCK” list ready I can read it through. We all have amazing traits that we have brought to this universe and that we have yet to bring. Have a “go to” notebook with all of the good positive you have done in your life, all of the great things about yourself. If you write these when you are in your most positive moments, they can help you get out of the negatives faster. This is so important my friends.
Next up, get a support system in place, people who will listen and will be honest with you. We all need someone to help us put things in perspective. When you get in the loop, get ahold of that person. I struggled with this for a long time and will just say when you have a go to it helps! I also learned who not to go to. See, there may be people in life who love you and care about you and will listen but may go into their own sea of negative. You guys that won’t help. It’s OK to have those people in your life but don’t make them your go to. For these folks you may also need to learn when not to have them around. If you are already on the edge, they might push you right in the abyss. This isn’t their fault or their problem, it’s yours. You just need to know when and how to have them in your life. For me, this has been super important even for people as close as my husband, the love of my life, I know he is not my go-to in certain situations, sometimes he just doesn’t get it and he really struggles seeing me when I’m hurt. Then, when he can’t help or doesn’t know what to do to help he gets frustrated. Again friends, know your people and who to go to for what. If you feel you don’t have anyone you can count on message me, I’ll give you some ideas. There are groups and support systems, you just have to find what’s works best for you. Please just be sure to find others that will help you up as opposed to bring you further down. Or, if you need a nudge, email me, message me, whatever you need!
A few other things that could help, try a gratitude journal. It’s a whole lot harder to stay down when you are grateful. This one is newer for me but has had such a profound impact on my life. It really helps put life in perspective and for me at least keep my stress levels manageable. Hang some post it notes all around your house, write things on them that motivate you or give you good reminders, tomorrow is a new day to start again. Try mediating. Exercise, breathe, try yoga, get your body moving, it can change your state and help bring you out of the negative. Find songs that motivate the heck out of you, turn it up and dance around your house, room, wherever! Try several things and you will quickly learn what works best for you.
Finally, somedays, you just need to cry it out, eat some chocolate then start fresh the next day. Just make yourself the promise that tomorrow is a new day, when your feet hit the floor, say it out loud, “It’s going to be a great day”!
Stay strong friends, you got this!
My head is killing me! Yep, it started late in the day yesterday and has not stopped since. The tell true sign, for me at least, it’s time to take a break and reset.
I am not sure about all of you but I for one am always going, or at least it sure feels like it. Not complaining over here, this is actually the lifestyle I thrive in, it beats sitting on my tail idol doing nothing. But you can only maintain this for so long before it catches up. My day starts around 3:15 on the weekdays. I’m in the gym by 3:30, from there I am on the go working on one thing or another the rest of the day. It generally looks like, get ready, spend some time with my other child (he’s a twelve year old boxer and truly my other child), get some work done with my company then off to work to at my day job which is again nonstop, home, dinner, sneak in some yoga, more work on my company then bed. And, the cycle continues. Again, I’m sure this looks somewhat similar to your days.
This lifestyle can catch up and it is ever so important we all listen to our bodies and mind, take a step back, breathe and re-center. It took me a long time to realize this. In fact ten years ago I would have still gone to my office miserable, head pounding, irritable with my teams (which is not OK), and low productivity (which is not a good representation of who I am). See, all not good things.
I recently came across an old article in Forbes about Workaholics and people who work too much. Yep, it’s official, I am pretty certain I borderline the definition of “Workaholic”. When I am not doing something in relation to working out, working my business or working my career, I am thinking about one of them, YIKES! Type “impact of working too much” in google and you’ll find various studies and articles that speak about the harm from Stress, depression, sitting too much, lack of productivity and more. Friends I know we all have responsibilities to manage but I hope you will agree with me that balance is important. This goes for all my mom/dad readers out there too, parenting is a full-time job in and of itself. I remember when my son was growing up and balancing everything while being a strong supportive parent for Boe.
When the signs of overwhelm of too much for too long show up, slow down, take a day, in the journey of life it’s really only a blip in time and in the long run it will help keep you healthy and strong for you and those around you!
To help avoid getting to that point, here are some of the things I’ve done to stay healthy in my every day.
These are the top six that have benefited me most. Of course, getting in nature, getting good sleep, scheduling “you” time, and getting exercise all very important too. We are all different, unique, amazing beings, try different things, see what positively promotes your well being then do more of that.
Stay well friends, much love!
For years, I heard this from people, employees, peers, and even family, "Jen you are so intense"! See, here's the thing, when I do things, anything, I'm all in. If I don't have passion, a strong enough why or desire, it's clear. I'm the person who is in the gym by 3:30 each morning just to make sure I can get my workout in before the day gets ahead of me. I'm that employee who will give it 10-11-12 hour days to make darn sure that my customers’ needs are fulfilled. Is it possible to be "too" intense, maybe, but for me my intensity comes from my passion. Passion and drive to grow, to get the things I am working towards, to accomplish my "why" in all areas.
Through time, OK, years, of hearing this comment I started changing my demeanor I slowed down to accommodate those that got intimidated or took my intense passion however they do. I thought I needed to change to not as one colleague put it, "scare people away". Don't get me wrong I would never be rude, mean, harsh or disrespectful in any way. Those are values I hold very close and dear to my soul. I do however want to be that person who demonstrates so much passion and intensity to my why's in life that others can see and grow from it. So, others can get enough "intensity" around their passion that they stop allowing the naysayers to stop them.
This morning when I was in the gym listening to a podcast, the person speaking gave me a kick in the ass (not literally of course), a moment where you think, "what was I thinking", ENOUGH! I knew that slowing down and not being genuine to me was never the right choice but in this moment, I heard it loud and clear. Then it hit me even harder, I thought about what it does to my anxiety level when I'm not being true to me. I thought about how it makes me feel physically when I have to be cautious of showing my passion and intensity.
Fact is this is one of the best parts of me.
Why am I sharing this, you ask? See friends, there are qualities of all of us that we try minimizing or hiding because, "what will people think". Fact is, they are probably the best parts of you. Be you, the people who you should truly have and want in your life are the ones who will appreciate you for your genuineness. Don’t get me wrong we all have work to do on ourselves, I am not a believer of “I am who I am take it or leave it” but don’t stray from your natural qualities. Don't cause anxiety or worse living a false sense of your life.
You do you! Stay strong friends!
In the good words of Warren Buffett,
"Intensity is the price of Excellence"
Perspectives in communication are such an interesting thing. Let's just call it what it is communication and perspectives can be hard. Stephen Covey wrote, "Strength lies in differences, not in similarities!" As I write this post this quote rings oh so true.
I was getting ready for work on Friday, and my darling husband kept making comments. I'll spare you the details, but I recognized throughout the morning I was getting a little annoyed by them. I continued throughout the morning, not saying anything about it as I just wasn't up for an argument. We all have those mornings, you know the ones that the energy will just be enough to get you through the day. The end of a long week and what I was anticipating being a very long day ahead. The last thing I needed was a frustrating argument before I got to work.
I finished up getting ready, gave my lovely husband a hug and a kiss and got on the road to work. On this day I was headed to Milwaukee, so I had about 80 minutes of time on my head before I got to the office. I started rethinking the morning getting more and more annoyed with his comments. I think the thing that got me most was I felt that he wasn't listening to me at all. I knew in that moment if I didn't say anything, I would be stewing about it the rest of the day. So, I called.
He answered in his altogether hottie voice. I proceeded to explain how his comments made me feel that morning (again sparing you the details). In that moment, I heard his tone, the comments that came next made me feel horrible for a moment then loved, so loved. He proceeded to tell me, he was just making the comments he was as he thinks I am so very beautiful and oh so good looking. He then went onto share that he wasn't trying to, "get anything" just wanted me to know how beautiful he thinks I am. Now ladies, after 20 years together I'm sure you would agree hearing these words from your husband would make your whole heart feel warm. It sure did mine. In that moment, my whole perspective and day was changed by one simple phone call. One brief conversation to better understand his perspective.
Consider all the times you didn't say anything. I don't know about you but for me all those moments have led to bigger arguments and misunderstandings that could have been avoided. Could this conversation of gone far differently, sure but either way, I would have been confident in knowing I used my voice to gain perspective. Don't assume you know what your partner, colleague, boss, etc. meant. Take a step back, think about the right approach then talk about it. You will be glad you did. A great approach I heard many times in the past and still use is this, when you said (fill in what they said), it made me feel (explain what it made you feel), or I took it as (enter in how you interpreted it) is that what you meant?
Always remember, starting a conversation is the hardest part, it may not always come out the way you want but the more confident you get the more natural it will feel. You will feel so much better and be glad you did!
Be well friends!
I started meditating and it has started to really change everything. I tend to be a very, well let's call it high stressed, highly anxious person. The thing of it is is that I don't enjoy either of these traits when I'm in them. We all have a certain amount of both but, as many of you are aware, chronic stress and anxiety can cause several health issues. Friends do some research on this one, it can really be harmful long term in so many ways. When I did some research on the topic and learned about the impact on the mind and body it really pushed me to start practicing. Aside from that, living a happy fulfilled life is so much more enjoyable and fun! Based on the research I found, meditation has science proven benefits around stress reduction, helping control anxiety, emotional management, and memory just to name a few.
So, about six weeks ago, I decided, why not give it a try. I've heard a number of influential (to me) leaders’ speakers on their belief of this practice throughout the years so it was pretty easy to be open to the idea. If thought leaders use it to help maintain balance, calm, stress, etc. there must be something to it. I decided to try it and determine if this is something that would help me, meditation.
First, I listened to a couple speakers online specifically about the topic. Then I looked at all the resources on YouTube. There are a lot and it may be a bit overwhelming at first. This was all within a couple days then I just jumped in. I started by doing 3-5 minutes every morning and night. The first week and a half or so was hard. I found it difficult to stay focused, my mind wandered a lot. I still find on certain days my mind wanders more than others. Now I do longer in the evenings generally 10-15 minutes. I find that my evening meditation helps me to get relaxed from my daily stresses and let them go. I also found that I am dreaming better. And, I feel more relaxed in the morning when I wake up. I still do 3-7 minutes in the morning too. For me, this helps in several areas, most significantly it has helped me to better focus throughout the day. I also noticed over the last couple weeks that I have not felt any sense of anxiousness where I would have in the past. This is a huge relief for me as I mentioned earlier my stress and anxiety generally run high.
It may be a bit too soon to fully determine but all in all it has had a significant impact on me so far. Give it a try and see what it does for you!
Stay well my awesome friends!
I originally started this blog post May 8th, 2016. Wow, over two years ago, I knew this is what I wanted. Two years later, this title rings even more true then it did at that time. Much of this post includes my thoughts from 2016 and a whole lot of new stuff. The picture you see above to the right was truly a pivotal point for me, a true detour of life. I learned I had a 4cm tumor in my thyroid, now that is a bad day! At that point in life I was about to make a huge job change into a new regional role with my company, My husband and I weren't at our best moments together and Boe, oh, my pride and joy. The time in life your child needs you most and I felt like I was failing him with all of this. We'll talk more about all of those in future posts
In the months after my diagnoses I had two surgeries, radiation and the start of trying to get my medication right to manage my hormones. Let me tell you friends managing hormones, emotions, or metabolism with no thyroid is no joke! And, how horrible it is that people actually say, "that's the easy cancer" ya right like any cancer is easy, I think not. I didn't realize it right away but all of this took such a toll on my emotional well being.
For the next several years, I had a real struggle getting my emotional balance in order. I also worked to hide it from everyone both personally and professionally. The last thing that I wanted was to be judged for anything, you'll learn more in future posts this was a huge barrier for me for a lot of years.
For the first few years post surgery I had some really dark moments. I remember one day so vividly. It was spring, I was at one of my offices for the day, this particular office is on the second floor. There is a beautiful entryway with a second floor balcony that looks over the huge glass windows outside. I took a call from one of my other offices and stepped out to take the call. The employee on the other end of the phone was very frustrated and clearly having a bad day. Now as leaders we always work to be strong for our people. In this moment what no one knew was I was having a horrible day. I felt worthless and completely overwhelmed with life. As I stood there employee frustrated in the phone I thought, what would it be like if I just jumped right off the ledge. I wondered if anyone would really care. Life would move on and they could do just fine without me. They would find someone else to complain to and no one ever heard what I had to say anyway. Then of course the next thought, this is only two stories up I would have to go much higher. The good thing for me was that I quickly redirected these thoughts each time they showed up in my head. By the grace of whomever was looking over me, yes I believe, I m strong and didn't act any number of the times these showed up.
The emotions that would come from anything were so overwhelming. For a good couple years after my surgery, I would eat my emotions. I couldn't quite figure out yet how to navigate my voice. There were days I would eat anything I could get my hands on. Not the good healthy stuff, anything that screamed carbs or sweets had me. One day Joel asked me to pick up ice cream. It was Friday night and by this point Friday nights were on for pizza, burgers, ice cream with any number of horrible for me toppings. Mind you, I had lost and kept off a lot of weight for years before this and if I would have kept this up would have been right back there. I stopped at Walmart as directed, got the pizza and ice cream. I had to throw in Oreos and M&M's, cause why wouldn't you do that. Before I even got home half the bag of family size peanut butter M&M's were gone. I would eat until I felt sick trying not to think about all of the things that were really going on.
It was about three years into my journey after my thyroidectomy that I started really listening to myself. See during this time, I had placed the biggest mask on myself. In public I would try showing everyone how OK I was, positive, I had quotes all over my office and home. At this point, I started actually listening to those quotes, relating them to myself, I started talking to myself better. I'll go more in depth on this one in a future blog, self talk is so important. I started being very aware of myself and my triggers and began limiting my time with people who brought me down. Which by the way is very very hard to do especially when they are close to you or family. I started really getting back to my basics of positive learning, books, and quickly became of fan of YouTube and watching any motivational videos I could find. Each of these things helped me get out of the darkness and start building into who I really wanted to be.
Each day is a chance to be the best you you can be, they may not be easy but with each positive push in the right direction you will get better and stronger. You have a tribe here to help and support you. Stay well friends!
As Aristotle once said, "It is in our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light."
Supporter of people and growth. I absolutely LOVE helping others see in themselves what I see in them. We all have good in us, we just need a bit of help seeing it at times.