The Riddle of Me: Self-Image

Whenever you’re obese it’s incredible how aware you are of every inch of space you take up. I was always painfully aware of my size. Whenever I’d have to squeeze past a table in a restaurant or push myself past bodies on an airplane to get to my seat, I was filled with an agonizing embarrassment and self-hatred. People were judging me, most of them just avoided looking my way but some would let contempt hang on their faces. I always avoided eye contact. I lived inside my own mind, constantly tearing myself down, and never paying attention to the world around me. I could never separate who I was from what had happened to me. I was too pliable, like extremely depressed Play-Doh.

I was jealous of all the other human beings that could hide their insecurities or bad habits. I would look around and imagine some to be compulsive gamblers, pathological liars, or maybe just awful people, but they looked normal. They looked healthy. I couldn’t hide how bad I was at life. I had to wear my shame every second of every day. I was a binge eater; I couldn’t cope with my emotions or the challenges life threw at me. I would hide, eat, lie about my emotions, and sink into my depression. I never imagined my life could be any other way. I was just made this way and I didn’t have the determination or hard work to make it better.

What a harmful lie I was feeding myself. What a harmful lie that was fed to me by others.

I hated my body and mind in every sense of the words. It was like being held hostage by my bad habits and choices. No improvement, no education, no growth. I would sit for hours every day and imagine what it’d be like to run again, to eat healthy balanced meals, to pursue education and knowledge, to be loved and to love myself. Those “dreams” would consume my thoughts. I now realize when I reflect, I never believed I would be better. Honestly, I think I was just waiting for an excuse to end it all. I thought that being happy and healthy was never in the cards for me. I spent years of my life never moving towards my goals while simultaneously hating this world that never made me someone that moved towards their goals. See my point?

I chose to be a victim. I chose to always victimize myself. That was my self-image.

When I thought I’d lost everything. I had nothing to hold onto.

So, I set fire to those thoughts.

One of the worst things that ever happened to me in my life, losing two people who were more dear to me than myself, it changed me. It changed me for the better and it made me open my eyes. I now feel like I see with such clarity what the world is, what life is, and more importantly what the possibility of a life well lived is. Stop putting expectations on yourself for tomorrow, stop putting expectations on your loved one’s behavior, stop putting expectations on your life.

Pursue goals, dream, hope, but never be anything but grateful. Once you realize how lucky you are to even exist. You can start to appreciate how short, scary, and beautiful life is. Stop ruining it by overthinking. Stop hating yourself. Embrace who you are and pay attention to your thoughts. You are in control, your choices and how you choose to allocate your time determines who you are.

Stand on the frontier of life. Push yourself and everyone around you to be better. Don’t choose to be less than what you could be because the people around you are fine with standing still. I will never let another human being on this earth tell me what I can or cannot succeed at.

Set the example. Impress them. Encourage them. Inspire them.

Stop being complacent in a life you’ve made for yourself.

Today, I am about as different from the person I was 4 years ago, as I am to a stranger on the street. My thoughts, my habits, my reactions and interactions, they astound me daily. Whenever negative and harmful thoughts pass through my mind, I no longer let them control me, belittle me, and dictate what my day will be like. I recognize them like a bird flying by in front of me, I acknowledge them, and then let them go. On to the next thought, the better thought, the more productive thought, the wonderful thought.

The best example I have is that instead of letting my thoughts and emotions consume me. I merely reflect them. It’s like being a mirror inside of yourself. The voice that answers to “I” in my head is constant. That is what I consider “me”. I am not the sum of my memories, thoughts, and other people’s behaviors toward me. I am the mirror, so I merely reflect it.

People’s behavior around me no longer offends me or hurts me. I don’t take responsibility for it. I can only be truthful and direct with my words and intentions and let the pieces fall where they may. If someone is rude or does something I don’t agree with morally or socially. It’s no longer dramatic or stress inducing. I merely remove myself from their company and continue to pursue my own happiness. I hold no ill-will towards the people who are no longer a part of my life. I wish them every joy and happiness. I just know that there are some human beings that will only harm my progress or add chaos to my life. I no longer have the time or the patience to fight with people. It has made me a more selfish, productive, and happier person.

I make a choice to dwell on the positive, helpful and true. I choose to reject or move from the unhealthy, false, and unhelpful thoughts. I strive for my mind to be filled with ideas, curiosity, fascination, love, truth, and hope.

I’m constantly pushing myself to be better every moment. I’m looking for ways I can challenge myself and improve. When I look in the mirror, I no longer focus on every part of myself I want to change. I look at my eyes and contemplate their complexities and colors. I marvel at how they show me the world and my body, how they let me perceive the universe around me.

I look at my arms and instead of hating the flab and their shape, I stare at them and marvel how far they’ve come. How strong they are, how much they help me throughout my day, throughout my life, how much I’d miss them if they were disappearing. I stare at my stomach and I marvel at what’s under the skin. The intricate organs, fluid, tissue, the constant activity that makes it possible for me to be here today. I marvel at how one day hopefully; I will grow a tiny human. I can be moved to tears with the slightest thought of how incredibly my entire body is. I see the “magic” in myself now. I have changed my mind about this life.

I hated this journey for so long because I only reflected on how bad I had let things get for myself. My health, my body, my emotions, everything was a wreck. I’ve now realized how lucky I am to have been through everything I have. The loss, the weight gain, the pain, the suffering. It has given me the gift of perspective. The gift of self-love. the gift of confidence.

Nothing lasts in this life. I choose not to grieve over what I have had and lost, I choose to embrace what is around me. I choose to look in the mirror and not only feel peace, but love. I have such a clear view of who I am, what I’m capable of, and what I want out of this life. It’s similar to the feeling of falling in love, except I’m not depending on anyone else for this euphoria and purpose. It’s me.

Now when I’m in public, traveling, dancing, existing. I no longer apologize for the space I occupy. When I stand, I feel my strength. I am confident. Losing weight does not make you a better person. It will not fix your life. Your size is insignificant in comparison to your life and happiness. Let weight loss be merely a side-effect to a balanced life, to a balanced you. Love yourself and the rest will follow.

So I guess what I’m saying is it all comes down to you. It all comes down to your choices.

What’s it going to be? Do you want to start loving being you?

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If you truly want to lose weight, stop trying to lose weight.

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Vitamin Donuts Coaching Week Two
1/2

Doesn’t that sound confusing? I can’t count how many times a week I have girls telling me that they’re trying to lose weight but they give into temptation, they can’t stay consistent. – They say all of the changes they’ve made and foods they’ve cut out of their diets haunt them and pull them back into bad habits.

Of course it does! Because you’re not changing your habits or rewarding yourself with good behaviors. You’re only trying to cut out things you’ve rewarded yourself with for (months or years) and ignore the bad behaviors, but the problem with that is – they’re habits. Those habits aren’t going to just disappear over night. That same voice in your head that tells you to stop and get that fast food, skip that work out, and indulge every night. It doesn’t magically die when you decide to “diet”.

If I ask a person who eats 3-4 thousand calories a day to wake up tomorrow and eat 8,000? Do you think that’d feel like a lot, maybe a bit extreme? What about asking someone who is binge eating or in the midst of bad habits to start eating 900 calories a day? Doesn’t that seem a bit extreme too? Why would you do that to yourself? Stop making this a diet. 

I’m telling you, you’re going to have to start reasoning with that voice in your head, you’re going to have to work with it, to live with it. You’re going to have to make your changes one step at a time. Stop going balls to the wall and then wondering why you couldn’t remain consistent. This is your life.

First, start paying attention to yourself. Ask yourself questions and stop being irrational. You are behaving this way for a reason. You’re not just some loose cannon that LOVES feeling sad and horrible. Second, figure out who you want to be and ask yourself what keeps you from that? Third, stop making excuses. 

Everything I tell you is what I have experienced, everything I tell you is what works for me, everything I tell you, YOU can experience for yourself. Find your own path. Find your own balance.

Change your relationship with yourself and with food. Understand that once you start getting healthy on the inside and listening to yourself, you are going to WANT to make better choices. Everyone thinks that they just are who they are. They can’t change, they won’t grow, and the only way for them to improve is to stifle all those bad voices and just push forward.

You don’t have to do that. Stop repressing and start addressing. (Catchy, huh?) You are perfectly capable of being better, thinking better, moving better. You don’t have to settle for making massive pushes and then getting upset and reverting when you fail. If you’re making these tiny incremental changes then your body and mind won’t give you the backlash when you fail, because you’re trying and learning.

One of my goals is to make it where you don’t need me anymore. I don’t want you get you hooked on a shake, pill, or plan. I want you to learn smart and balanced habits so you can go to Vegas for the week or enjoy a big plate at Thanksgiving and stop being angry at yourself when you want to indulge.

That’s normal, I’ll repeat this again, I WANT YOU TO INDULGE.

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I’m willing to bet if you think about your situation, whether you’ve put on a little bit of weight or a lot of weight, it didn’t happen overnight. You didn’t magically wake up one day to find out that you were consuming 4000-5000 calories a day and that you were getting out of breath. This happened over time. You maybe had a few bad habits that snowballed, they got out of control. Now you find yourself making choices you don’t like and you’re not proud of the person you’ve become or happy when you look in the mirror. I want you to apply that same logic to losing weight. This change isn’t going to happen overnight but how you’re feeling isn’t permanent and you don’t have to feel this way.

I can give you a 7 day meal plan that makes you lose weight. I can give you DVD’s and tell you that you need to do those. I can tell you exactly what I do and ask you to copy it exactly, but ask yourself – How silly is that? You have to live your life! What if I tell you to eat eggs/oatmeal/or a shake in the morning. Oh my god. WHAT IF YOU’RE NOT NEAR ANY OF THOSE THINGS?! I don’t want to tell you what to do. I want you to to tell you what to do.

I want you to gain a confidence and balance in your life that encourages you to make the right choices. Without me or anyone else guiding you. That’s only going to happen with time and effort. You’re going to have to make small changes every day that add up to your goals and happiness in life. Life is messy and unpredictable – I want you to be prepared for that and be able to cope. Not panic and use food or bad habits as a crutch.

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Please stop saying “I could NEVER work out like that. I could NEVER buy chips and keep them in my house with out eating the whole bag. I could NEVER go a day without pop.”

There is a laundry list of things I said I could or would NEVER do. They all seem so silly now. I don’t understand why I used such negative and constraining language with myself and others for so long. If you feel like something is hard and impossible – I want you to start adding “Right now” to the end of your sentences.

“I can’t do that.. right now.”

You are not this constant, unchanging being. You are a person with needs, wants, behaviors, influences, a body, and a brain. You are fully capable of whatever you darn well please. Just stop putting these glass ceilings on yourself.

There are times in my life where I thought “I’ll never be happy. I’ll never survive this. I’ll never overcome this. I’ll never be athletic. I’ll never be loved. I’ll never be able to NOT eat this way. I’ll never be capable.” 

It was all such bullshit, guys. I’m sorry, but it’s true. It was all of these limitations and harm I put on myself. It was all of the times someone put me down or I felt like I disappointed myself or others. It was just all of these horrible echoes in my mind that were just cutting me at the knees. I let them sit on my mind and body like a heavy weight that kept me small mentally and obese physically.

Your thoughts are so important. They’re so valuable and strong. They push you, they pull you, they make you strive for the stars and they’ll slam you back to earth. Control them. Master them. Push for them to be better. Start asking yourself why you are doing things. Start asking yourself how you got here. Start asking yourself why you’re not where you want to be.

I’m not lying to you when I say I wake up and I WANT to eat healthy and I WANT to go to the gym. Some days I may drag my feet or want sugar more than usual but it doesn’t change my progress. This does get easier. You do get stronger. Once you start putting the right foods into your body and taking care of it, your mind and body will start motivating YOU. You won’t want to go back to binge eating, or feeling like crap because why would you when you figure out how good it feels to do this? You only have to try. 

I’m challenging you this week. Two things. 

  1. Stop being on a diet. Stop making this a starting line and a finish line. This is your life. You need to learn to make choices and develop skills that make you the person you WANT to be.  If a side effect of that is that you lose weight and feel better about yourself than you ever have – that’s great! That’s what I want for you.When you’re balanced, happy, and you WANT to feel good – the change happens. Become independent, become strong, question me, question this, question EVERYONE. Don’t just do what people tell you what to do when it comes to your lifestyle. Make it YOURS. If you want to eat a candy bar 3x a week  – figure out a way that you can still do that and be PROUD of your choices at the end of the day. I am not going to live the rest of my life without cheese, fried foods, chocolate covered things, or sugary drinks but I will still be strong, healthy, happy, and moving forward. Always. I suggest you start thinking about how you can do that too. Or else this isn’t really changing you, you’re just losing mass and not gaining knowledge or perspective on yourself.

    2. Stop using such negative and final language. Stop saying never, Start being positive, not just with others out loud. With yourself. Stop pretending like who you are this second is all you’re ever going to be. That’s so ridiculous. Start growing. Start changing. Start improving. Set goals that scare you, that challenge you. There is a part inside you that is separate from that random chatter and screaming in your head. There is this force in your mind and body that is fully capable of being reasoned with and that wants you to succeed. You just have to find it and let that center guide you to the best version of yourself. Whatever that is. I bet it’s even more awesome and powerful than you could possibly imagine. Find it. 

Email me and keep me posted on your progress. I don’t just want to know what you’re eating. How are you feeling? Are you feeling sad? Motivated? Indifferent? We can figure it out and get you pointed in the right direction if you’re feeling lackluster or frustrated.

I’m here. 

Love,

Dev

– Let’s talk food prep. February 8th, 2017

Vitamin Donuts Coaching Week One 2/2

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Hey guys! Hope everyone is sailing through their week! 

I’d love to talk about food prep. Now, I know when you hear that term you might be thinking about a protein loving, muscular man making 8-135 containers of brown rice and chicken on a Sunday, but I’m here to tell you how I made it flexible enough to fit in my life and how it has positively impacted my eating habits.

So how often does this happen to you? You’re driving home after work, running errands, grabbing the kids, whatever, and you realize, you’re hungry. Now either you could go home and cook for a couple hours, do the dishes, and be exhausted. OR you could pull through a fast food joint and feed yourself (and anyone else with you) in just a couple minutes flat. Now I don’t know about you, but I love finding an excuse to eat fast food. Doesn’t matter where. I’m just itching for a reason to pull through and enjoy some french fries and a chocolate shake. (That’s right. I’m a dipper.) I’m always blissfully thinking the words, “I did so much today. I don’t want to cook. Why not?”

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I learned very quickly that if I wanted to break the habit, I would have to get some discipline, and stop giving myself excuses to make bad choices.

So I challenge you this week. I either want you to make a little bit extra when you do cook or I want you to make time this week for a couple hours to make yourself some healthy food. You don’t have to make a ton, I promise. Just make a little bit extra so you can maybe get 2 lunches out of it. Usually instead of just making enough chicken breasts and mushrooms for my husband and I, I’ll make twice that. I want you to do the same with any recipe you want and that’ll keep for 3-4 days. Be creative and make something you’ll enjoy eating. So, after I make all that, not only have I cooked a lot of chicken (yum!) – it’ll go bad if I don’t eat it. Now let me tell you, I have gotten creative with chicken. They go in pitas, on salads, with fruit, covered in condiments. Chicken is just so darn versatile.

I encourage you to try new recipes and don’t get bored of your meals. There are so many ways to do things, it doesn’t have to be torture to eat this stuff. I genuinely had the best chicken and veggies I’ve ever had last night, and I’m the one who made them. I loved it, I enjoyed every bite.

A sweet trick I sometimes add to my chicken breast is some sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese. It’s nice spin on a recipe that my big brother taught me how to make.
(Thanks Jeff!)

I also like keeping falafel, chicken salad, tuna, egg salad, and this kind of weird vegetable medley I came up with in the fridge. (I’ll share a couple recipes down below.) Now, when I’m driving home I know that if I choose to go to fast food, instead of home. That’s a genuinely harder choice for me. I know there is perfectly good, healthy food for me at home – yet I’m still choosing those calories, fat, grease, and bad feelings anyway. I’m telling you, it stops me 80% of the time.

Here are some of the recipes I personally make every couple days. I have kind of a rotation going now with things and I add new things as I find them. As always, be flexible with this and make it suit your diet and taste buds.
I want you to find your way to do things – this is the best place to start!!

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Now let’s be clear guys – I’ve been trying really hard this week to take pictures of all the food I make at home. I’m telling you, it’s either the lighting (my preferred excuse) or that my food lacks sophisticated presentation. (My food is ugly)

Apparently, I’m not that good at taking pictures of food. Haha. I’m getting a better camera and I’m really going to try hard to get better at this – but until then it’ll be a mix of my pictures and some stock images to help with the instructions/ingredients.

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Devon’s FAVORITE Chicken Breast. EVER.
Boneless skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Garlic powder

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

First, I always take the chicken breast out of the package, lay them between 2 sheets of glad wrap and pound those puppies until they’re about 1-1 1/2 inch thick. (either by mallet or with my skillet) then I season them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You don’t have to use a ton, but make it taste good. You decide how much you like.

Then I put some avocado oil in my skillet and let it get hot. Medium – High ish. Once it is hot – and I mean sizzlin’ hot – then add the chicken 1-2 breasts at a time depending on how big they are. If you overcrowd that pan, the chicken will get boily and weird. (thanks Food Network)

Once your chicken is browned on both sides, 3-5 minutes a side. I pull them off and put them on a foil covered baking sheet. Spray the sheet with pam to prevent sticking. Then I put the chicken in the oven for 15-25 minutes or until cooked all the way through. (I’m one of those that uses a thermometer to ensure a nice 165 degrees)

When they come out, make sure they’re done and then
IMMEDIATELY COVER THEM WITH FOIL.
I’M NOT JOKING. DON’T TOUCH THAT CHICKEN.
Let them rest for 5-7 minutes. (This step means a lot to me)

After that, take them out and enjoy! They’re really tasty (:

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Devon’s Veggie Medley

This exact amount makes enough for a topping/side for 2 people.
I’d at least double for prep.

1 package of mushrooms, I prefer baby bellas
1/2 poblano pepper
1/2 bell pepper, usually red
pinch of salt, pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce
avocado or olive oil

I put those in my pan covered for 15 minutes,
then uncovered , (10 ish minutes until I like how they look.)

Cut, cook, and done!
I make it as a side usually, but sometimes
I’ll make more and make it a veggie meal for myself!

I always suggest adding a salad to your meal. I personally use romaine hearts, give them a rough chop, add some italian dressing and cracked black pepper. It’s simple but it tastes good and keeps me on track getting those greens in.

I’ll say it again – Try it many different ways. & it’s always a good idea to pay attention to how many calories your dressing of choice has. If you prefer blue cheese or something heavier, I suggest having it on the side and dipping instead of smothering the lettuce – it keeps you mindful so you can enjoy your preference while watching the calories!

I also encourage you to look into greek/Mediterranean foods and recipes. It has become one of my favorite cuisines and it’s so easy to keep it healthy and enjoy every bite.
Tzatziki sauce is everything.

Here are some products I get that are either freezer/prepped foods that keep me on track! Some are quick eat things and some I add my own twist to. If you’re interested in a particular one, let me know if you’d like to see the recipes I use personally when I make them! Not all of this is the healthiest stuff, some of it is high in calories and sodium but it’s tasty, healthier alternatives,  and it’s stuff that is usually in my fridge.
I do use portion control and I use mindfulness when I eat these things. 

Egg White Salad w/ chives – Very good recipes for this on Pinterest
Fully Cooked Falafel – Frozen – Also look for healthier homemade recipes
Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Fillets – Frozen – Just bake in the oven and bam, done.
Al Fresco Chicken Sausage – SO GOOD, I use it in all scrambles and breakfast recipes
Black Bean & Jack Cheese Burrito – It’s amazing and I like that it doesn’t have meat. It’s also 510 calories and loaded with sodium. I try to eat it in 3 portions.
Egg Muffins with Italian Chicken Sausage – AMAZING. Pinterest.
Avocado Chicken Salad – Delicious on or in anything. Pinterest.

I encourage you to get on Pinterest or google this week and print off/save some recipes you would like to prep to keep yourself on track!

Let me know how you’re doing and of course, stay cheerful!

Dev

Introduction – February 7th, 2017

Vitamin Donuts Coaching Week One 1/1

Hey everyone!

I’m so happy you’re doing this with me. This is going to be quite the learning curve for me trying to make this as easy and effective for you as I possibly can. I’m always open to suggestions but I thought about the platform and thought this would be the easiest one.

My big plan here is to start off with Weekly Emails from me every Tuesday & Wednesday.
I’m going to write these on WordPress and send you guys the links so it’ll be easier for us to share & save as we go along.

After receiving the welcome emails from me – 
I would love for you to send an email at least every other day. This of course, is not mandatory! Only a suggestion so it gives me a chance to get to know you and your eating habits better so I can give you tips that are personal to your lifestyle! You don’t have to include weight or any information you’re uncomfortable with.

I just want to tell me what you eat in a normal day. Do you binge eat? Do you eat the same things all the time and you’re bored? Do you count calories? Do you have certain restrictions? These are the things I want you to include! Let me know if you’re doing any exercise and definitely share any recipes or steps you’re taking to a healthier lifestyle. I’m learning from you just as much as you’re learning from me.

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I, of course, will try to reply to all of these in a timely manner. If I’m going to be out of touch for more than 24 hours I will sell out an email and post on here that I will be unavailable. (Girl might need a vacation sometimes) –

Your emails you send to me are 100% private and I will never share your information or photos with anyone, unless you want me to!! (:

This is what you’ll be receiving from me: 
I’m not just going to tell you what to eat or when to eat it.
I want to show you that “diet” and suffering do not go hand in hand!
You can enjoy your life and eat healthy. Pizza and wine have their place!
I’ll also send out recipes that I’m making daily in my kitchen. All easy stuff!
I will ONLY give you advice on things that have personally worked for me, I’m not selling you anything. Everything I tell you is flexible, I want you to find YOUR way!
It’s just tips on mindful living, and eating!

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I’m hoping to give you some of the wisdom I’ve learned on my journey in the last few years. If you don’t know me well I encourage you to check out my pages below. I’ve lost 130lbs since 2013. I was suffering from anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I was binge eating to cope and I didn’t even know where to start on improving my life.
Through educating myself on nutrition, neuroscience, behavior psychology (specifically habits) exercise, and mindfulness. I found the balance I desperately needed. I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been and I’d love to be able to share the wisdom and motivation I’ve gained with anyone who needs it.
Blog: http://www.thecheerfulchoice.com
Instagram: VitaminDonuts_
Tumblr: VitaminDonuts
Or my group on Facebook: Fight Chub

Let’s get started! I’ll be sending you these twice a week, I’d love check-ins from you, if you’re too busy, just read through these and hopefully I can help you out, even if it’s only a lil-bit!

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Stay Cheerful
Dev

The myth about moving forward

I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but when I start something new. I love starting with a bang. I’m going to completely overhaul my life and I’m going to make sure everyone is aware of my new journey. Whether that’s weight loss, cleaning, self-improvement, a new job, you name it. I’ve always been a huge fan of the “I’m gonna start Monday” camp. It’s like I’ve always assumed that I would just wake up on that day and be ready to tackle whatever goal I’ve laid out for myself.

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It took me a really long time to realize how
incredibly wrong and counter productive that was.

 

When you want to make a change in your life, it seems like a natural thing to do to have a starting point and an ending point. Isn’t that the point of every cleanse, retreat, diet, or program anyone starts? You have it in your mind that at the end of those 7 days, 30 days, or however long you’ve set, that you’ll be done. You have set your own finish line.

I’m here to tell you that after trying to force dozens of start points and falling off the wagon after many of my finish lines. I was tired of setting myself up to fail. 

One day, while browsing on my phone, like I usually do, I remember coming across an article about habits. I’d never really thought about habits before. I mean I knew there were good habits and bad habits but I didn’t realize how incredibly complicated the human brain is when it comes to setting up these natural points throughout our day.

I want you to think of something you do every day without fail. Do you check your phone when you wake up? Do you wash your hair twice every time your shower? How about your diet? If you have a cheeseburger at Mcdonalds – do you always get the fries with it? (I mean c’mon who wants a fruit cup with a Big Mac.)

I bet there are set behaviors you have that you don’t even notice!

I finally realized that in order to change my life, my way of thinking, my diet, and my relationships with other people. This was something I could not start and finish.

I realized I would have to take this one day a time,
one thought at a time, one meal at a time, one interaction at a time.

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Stop aiming for perfection. It’s ludicrous, harmful and frustrating. Stop telling yourself that tomorrow you’re going to wake up and suddenly not want those chocolate mini muffins for breakfast. I’m here to tell you after years of eating egg whites and oatmeal I STILL want chocolate for breakfast. The crazy thing is, guess what? Sometimes I do!

And that is perfectly okay.

If you’re planning on making a life change or you really want to push yourself to be better in a specific area. I want you to try something, I want you to try and change one simple habit. Maybe you constantly put your keys down and can’t find them? I want you to try to set a place for them and for 10 days. I want you to put your keys there every time. Maybe whenever you go out to eat you ALWAYS eat the bread or tortilla chips. I want you to ask the waiter not to bring them every single time the next 10 times you go out to eat.

You start slow and you move forward. You don’t give up when you fail and you let go of the mind set of “Well I messed up, may as well give up and restart tomorrow.” Stop trying to change overnight. Make incremental changes and after time has passed, you’ll realize the impact of what you are doing.

Whenever you look at your daily habits, your conversations, even your personal thoughts. Shouldn’t you be proud?

Being happy and kind is not something people are just good at.
It’s something they practice.

I was never successful at changing my habits until I started journaling. Now I write down not only what I eat, but my moods, thoughts, and goals. Every day I look back and I can see how I felt after I ate those 4 pieces of pizza or I can go back and experience my happiness when I was journaling after crushing a goal at the gym.

You have to practice being present and I think journaling is a great way to do that.

Our society tells people, both men and women that being selfless and sacrificing their needs and comforts for the needs of others make you a great human being. I’m here today challenging that and saying that they’re wrong.

Your personal well being, your thoughts, your wants, your disappointments, your grief, your happiness. All of that is yours. Unless you take care of yourself physically and mentally, what good are you to the people around you?

Be selfish. Make changes and don’t be hard on yourself when you fail. Push yourself to find out what you want in this life and how you’re going to get it.

Find your happiness in the face of constant disappointment. Make that choice.

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Stay Cheerful

Dev

A new approach to thinking

After everything that happened to me I knew that I didn’t want to just survive anymore.
I wanted to thrive.

I wanted to change my daily habits, my emotions, and my ability to handle stressful situations. I wanted to stop regretting bad interactions where I lost my temper or got too upset. I wanted to be able to listen better and get a better grasp on my thoughts.

So it started a journey – and that’s how I found what was a key for me to live a better life. Being mindful.

“Mindfulness is simply,
being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different.
Enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes. (which it will)
Being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way. (which it wont)”
– James Baraz

Mindfulness for me, is putting space between your thoughts and your actions. After dealing with grief, I realized that if I took the time and the effort to realize not only the content of my thoughts but then started to question those thoughts. I could start to have more control over my emotional state. It changed my personality and my life. Some people, of course are naturally good at this. I definitely wasn’t born with the ability to do this. It’s practice

The reason I’m bringing this up and why I thought it was important enough to share is because it can help you maintain better relationships, build better habits and ultimately give you a better quality of life. A lot of people think self-help is silly or arbitrary but in my opinion it should be one of the most celebrated tools in our culture. There are so many options and so many ways you can take easy steps to feeling happy. 

I can honestly say, while being completely cliché that I learned to love myself. It’s not constant and I’ve had some lows, but in the last 2 years 90% of my days end with me being proud of the progress I’m making into the person I ultimately want to be. That means a better wife for David, a better mother to my children one day, and especially a better daughter, sister, friend, and human. The lower you feel, the higher the climb. 

I had a fear of death so bad after everything happened that I couldn’t breathe or function at the idea of anyone else dying around me. I was killing myself with food and I couldn’t walk 20 feet without feeling winded. I didn’t want to live. I didn’t see a way out. Those feelings of grief, anger, and self-hatred were painful and constant. They would crush me and consume my thoughts. But I beat it, I learned that I could change and that if I hadn’t experienced such grief, I wouldn’t appreciate everyone and everything I do today. 

I do not have control over losing anyone around me or losing my own life.
All I can do is love with everything I have and do my best to be kind.
Every action I have has ripples, it sets things in motion.
One quick unkind, unthinking, act can have powerful consequences.
Your kind acts have even more power.
You can create change. That’s a great power and we all wield it.
I have to be present and account for how fleeting my life can be and I still have to
choose to be grateful.
I have to turn the negative things that have happened to me into knowledge and strength.

Learn to pay attention to your moods. I highly suggest journaling feelings, events AND food together because you start to see patterns. When I have a day where I’m eating a large amount of carbs, meats, and sodium I usually feel not only sluggish and bloated the next day but depressed as well. Bettering yourself isn’t selfish and seeking professional help or guidance through books, videos, medications or friends is NOT crazy or “weak”.

This world is stressful, hard, and messy. You should give yourself the tools to live the best life possible and have healthy relationships with the people around you. Figuring out that there were consequences to my eating habits made it easier for me to change my diet and my life all together. If you take the time to pray every day I suggest adding in some mindfulness exercises and take time to analyze your thoughts and feelings and think about your expectations for your day, yourself, and the situations you’re dealing with.

I don’t want this to come off preachy and I’m not trying to tell someone how to live a perfect life. I just want to get it out there that it’s entirely possible to have more control of your thoughts, emotions, and actions then you do right now. It helped me to better set up boundaries and I learned to have normal expectations for the people around me. It’s easy to be selfish because what you’re thinking and feeling is YOURS but every person on this planet has their own problems, agenda, thoughts and emotions to contend with. You can learn to be a better version of yourself simply by having healthy boundaries, expectations and understanding for everyone around you.

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Imagine the next time you’re arguing with your spouse/friend/family member that instead of falling into the same repetitive negative patterns of screaming or losing your temper, you instead start to see things you didn’t see before. You start having revelations about people you’ve known your whole life because you start to realize why they are the way they are. You start to feel empathy and understanding for the other person and as a result your responses are not only said with confidence and kindness but you’re capable of clearly communicating how you’re thinking and feeling. Your mental health shows in your ability to cope with stressful situations. You have the ability to change how you deal with tough situations. I think one of the greatest quotes to emphasize this is:

“My mind begins to seem like a video game. I can either play it intelligently learning more in each round, or I can be killed in the same spot by the same monster, again and again.”

-Sam Harris

That quote brought together everything I’ve been learning not only about myself but other human beings in the last few years. You can be better. You can learn from the things happening to you and create change. Hitting the lows I hit and being able to fill my mind and soul back up with positive and empowering messages have changed my personality and the way I interact with others. Every human being on this planet is struggling not to feel alone, angry, and scared. It is our duty while we are on this earth to minimize the damage we do to others and especially, ourselves. If you’re suffering from a short temper, harmful thoughts, angry and sad feelings. I just want you to know that you can feel better.

Enjoying your thoughts is an incredible thing.
Being happy with your own company is crucial.

Since educating myself through books like the ones below. I have a new respect for myself and every life around me. A lot of people say that it’s amazing how happy I am considering the grief I’ve endured. I didn’t just have the ability to be a more cheerful person. It takes practice. I learned the coping skills I needed through therapy, knowledge, and healthy relationships. No matter what trial is going on in your life I have full confidence that you can not only handle it – but you can learn from it and it can help you be a healthier and more fulfilled person. 

 

It doesn’t matter what kind of childhood you had, how old you are, what religion you practice or who you voted for. We could all strive to be stronger, wiser, more empathetic people. If you can learn to enjoy your own company and be proud of not only the decisions you made, but the words you spoke at the end of the day – Why wouldn’t you?

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Stay cheerful

  • Dev

Snooze AM Eatery, Boulder, CO

It’s been about a year since David & I have moved to Boulder and we have found some amazing places to eat. I always love going out to breakfast with my husband and one of my absolute favorites is Snooze AM Eatery. They have a few locations in a couple states and I am telling you that if you have one near you DO NOT walk to it, RUN. Or maybe drive.

Does anyone else hate waiting in restaurants as much as I do? Especially when it’s crowded. Ugh. I hate it. Lol I’m a suck, I know. I don’t have to deal with that here! I walk in, give them my name and number and then they text me when my table is ready. That means my husband I get to walk up and down Pearl St. until we are summoned back via text to hot coffee and and the most delicious eggs Benedict you will ever consume. The service is always above and beyond and the atmosphere is exactly what I love about living in Colorado. A little loud, a little quirky and always a lot of fun. Let me know if you will be anywhere near Boulder for any reason and I would love to give you about 3242344 recommendations on the best food in town. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Stay Cheerful! 

-Dev

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Be careful when you book a flight with United.

 

Earlier today I had to contact United Airlines about an unaccompanied minor situation. My husband and I purchased a direct flight from Tulsa to Denver for my 15 year old nephew to come visit in a couple weeks. I purchased them like I would any other tickets, got the confirmation, and went forward with my week excited about seeing him.

Well I received an email about 3 days after I booked his ticket saying that any children ages 5-15 are unaccompanied minors and we have to pay an additional fee of $300 round-trip to even allow him to get on the plane. It’s funny that I received the email 3 days later, well after the 24 hour grace period for canceling a ticket.

The fee is to make sure he gets on the plane safely, has help putting away his bags, give him snacks, and basically keep any eye on him. Why is it a 15 year old can get his learner’s permit and drive a car but he can’t be an unattended passenger on a plane?  Now I appreciate this service for younger children and I appreciate it for any parents that feel like their child might need some help during travel. Especially during flights that are not non-stop. However, my nephew is fully capable of traveling alone and has done so before. How is this service not optional?

Now when I called United to figure out what was going on and how we could fix this, I got to talk to two people who were about as helpful and kind as an agitated grizzly. Immediately defensive they callously informed me that it was my mistake that I put 1 adult instead of using the drop down menu to select 1 child. A drop down menu that is pre-selected to 1 adult. In my past experience of booking 100+ flights I’ve never had to select anything else. I don’t have children and I’ve never booked for one before. Instead of waiting 3 days to tell me you think they could’ve let me know that the birthdate I entered on his passenger information was invalid and that there would an additional $300 fee for a 15 year old to travel alone. I really want to be clear about this, the fee to supervise my nephew costs MORE than his round-trip flight.

They were not willing to work with us in any way, shape, or form. They said if I did not pay the additional $300 my nephew would not be allowed on the flight. They told me I could apply for a refund, that sounded great. Oh except the refunds aren’t guaranteed and he informed me that their policy is clear and they don’t bend the rules for any customer. Essentially telling me to get stuffed. I was pretty much in tears after this exchange.

$300 is a lot of money for any family. It’s not enough that I give you my money willingly when I want to use your services?  You have to charge me for a service that I don’t want and wasn’t even aware of?  The airline with the most complaints per customer and an annual income of 4.5 BILLION dollars. A company that could’ve easily let me pay a fee to change the ticket, let me use it as a credit, or possibly understand that my 15 year old nephew does not need a babysitter on a non-stop flight. It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around this whole thing. I hate confrontation, I hate being at someone else’s mercy. I hate being bullied. It seems like that is exactly what America stands for now. Stomp on the little people and cash in on your extra million. I’m just so tired of it. I know I made a mistake but I can’t believe how much United is actually making me pay for it.

-Dev

 

 

Image courtesy of Bloomberg.com

& these are just a few of my favorite things!

Just wing it. Life, eyeliner, everything. 
Words to live by. But I like a little prep & tutorial (;

 

I LOVE trying new products. I love the smell of Sephora and I love getting home and opening my bag. I’m always just dying to try new primers, eyeliner, mascara, and of course any of those tiny little test tubes that they put there just for people who like me will decide that yes, I do need 3 different kinds of travel primers and a blending sponge for $14.99.

So I decided to throw down some of my absolute ULTIMATE favorites. I did not take pictures of my products because my 10yr old make-up bag immediately turns most of my bottles a fun beige color. I’ll post where I got them, how much they are and why I 100% recommend you run out, buy them and tell me how much you love them.

 

I am not getting paid to promote these in any way, shape, or form. These are things I tried on my own and now are apart of my every day routine!

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Givenchy Beauty Women’s Acti’Mine Color Correcting Primer –
Sephora – $41
I cannot say enough how much this has changed my make-up routine. I of course suffer from oily skin, redness, and breakouts from time to time. This stuff is amazing. After I put this primer on my skin already looks great before I even put on my foundation and concealer. It is also surprisingly light and doesn’t weight me down. I would highly recommend this for someone who wants to get rid of some redness and uneven skin tone!

 

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Benefit’s Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow Brightening Makeup
Sephora – $36

This magical foundation has quickly become one of my favorite discoveries. I decided to purchase it randomly when I saw it was almost sold-out and figured it had to be good! Man I LOVE this stuff. Keeps my face from getting that gross 2:00pm sheen I’m so accustomed to. Also minimizes my pores and keeps my skin nice and soft! A must try!

 

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Bobbi Brown’s Bronzing Powder
Sephora – $42

Man have I gone through about a billion bronzers. I use mine to bronze up, hide double chin, and occasionally shade my brows. This one right here is my repeat purchase. Lasts forever, doesn’t break me out, and gives me that lovely bronze.

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Tarte’s Cheek Stain in Blissful
Sephora – $16

This blush saved me from about 10 years of applying to much loose pink powder on my face and looking like a clown. Thank goodness. Lol. I promise if you give this a shot, you won’t go back to your regular blush. This stuff looks wonderful and gives you that mermaid dewey glow you know you’ve always wanted!

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Flower’s Forever Wear Liner in Onyx
Wal-Mart $6.98

I know, I know, with my light blue eyes I should branch out to some more brown and orange tones with eyeliners. But I don’t. I love love love this line. It’s not expensive and it’s incredibly long lasting. The color is bright and the quality is A+. I’d encourage everyone to try ANY Flower products. Thanks Drew!

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First Aid Beauty’s Face Cleanser
Ulta – 5oz – $20

I said before, I have breakouts. When I say breakouts, it can last weeks. It seems like my skin and go weeks looking and feeling wonderful then the first time I break down and cry, get stressed, or stand in the sun longer than 3 minutes. Boom. Painful zits and blackheads. This stuff keeps my skin so healthy.

It’s simple, it’s gentle and it removes ALL of my make-up. I do pair this with my Mia Clarisonic from time to time to get my exfoliate on but most days I just use this in the morning and at night. I use to be all about the 3-5 product systems, now I know better. I was seriously drying out my skin and being over aggressive. Try something simpler with your skin regimen if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You won’t regret it!

exgloBliss Triple Oxygen ex-‘glow’-sion Vitabead-Infused Moisturizer
Kohl’s – 1.7oz – $64

I did say I lived in Colorado right? So D-R-Y. My skin flakes, it gets red, it breaks out. I saw this in Kohl’s and honestly? I loved the packaging. I brought it home and I’ve bought it about 6x since. I won’t go to a different moisturizer. It is great. I wished it lasted a bit longer, but it probably would for me if I didn’t use so much. It just feels euphoric applying it after washing my face and a long day out in the elements. My skin has never felt better!

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Origins GinZing Eye Cream
Sephora – $30

Yes, this stuff is expensive for a small amount, but I promise – it lasts FOREVER. I barely use a fingertip of it on each eye before bed and when I wake up in the morning. I never have tired eyes and dark bags. I noticed about a year ago I started looking.. older around my eyes. Cringing. But this stuff has really helped me get a grip and look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning!

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Nars Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
Sephora – $26

I have tried 50+ eyeshadow primers in my lifetime. This one doesn’t crease, doesn’t grease, lasts all day and is easy to apply. Plus, it lasts FOREVER. Trust me, it’s wonderful.

 

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Innisfree Skin Care Masks 
Amazon – $16.69 for 50

I had the pleasure of winning some of these in a giveaway and they are AMAZING. They go on like creepy little face mask sheets that smell and feel wonderful. So refreshing! You leave them on 20 minutes, pull them off and you DON’T rinse your face. It leaves this nice moisturizing glow for hours after you remove it. Try them all!

  • 1. GreenTea 2. Cucumber 3. Bamboo 4. Aloe 5. Manuka honey 6. Kiwi 7. Shea butter 8. mugwort 9. pomegranate 10. black berry 11. tea tree 12. bija 13. lime 14. strawberry 15. rose

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Tarte’s Tartelette In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette
Sephora – $45

I haven’t needed to purchase any other eyeshadow since I’ve had this. It’s the only thing I use every day and always pack in my luggage. The colors are wonderful and go on smooth. All the range a blue-eyed girl could ask for!

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Blinc Black Lash Primer
Sephora – $26

I never thought I’d see the day that I hardly wear mascara anymore, but I don’t! The weather here in Colorado and my general routine with my lashes was causing them to break and fall out. I was actually crying to my husband about it one day. I always loved having healthy eyelashes and didn’t know what to do. One wonderful lady in Sephora directed me to Blinc and now I am a believer! My eyelashes are better than they’ve ever been. Strong, long, and dramatic! Sometimes if it’s a hot date night or an event I’ll put on Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascare to give them some pump but Blinc is definitely something you need to try. Plus, you can wear it TO BED. Think of the possibilities!

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Neutrogena’s Mineral Sheers Powder Foundation
Wal-Mart – $12

This is always in my purse. I’ve bought the most expensive powder, the least expensive, and everything in between. This keeps my shine at bay, lasts a long time, has great color and keeps me confident. I would suggest this for anyone who likes to lay some powder down before they go out for the day!

 

Well I think that’s a long enough list! Never be afraid to try new stuff. ALWAYS keep your eyes open for good deals and pay attention to your skin!! You’d be amazed how a little TLC goes a long way to feeling good without make-up.

Love yourself and stay cheerful!! 

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– Dev

 

Losing weight, losing friends

Something I wasn’t prepared for on my weight loss journey is the cruelty it would bring out in the people around me.

When I was obese, people either stared at me way too long or not at all. I couldn’t possibly be a real person with real feelings. I was automatically labeled many things. “Lazy, gross, sad, pathetic, glutton.” Some of those were true, but buried underneath layers of fat I was still a person. A person with dreams and desires like anyone else, but I always felt ashamed.

I was used to being avoided, or judged when I was big, but I wasn’t prepared for the reaction people would have to me when I started losing the weight. It felt nice to get noticed again. It felt amazing to move from a girl who looked obese and sickly to a girl who looked curvy and athletic. I thought my enthusiasm would be infectious. It wasn’t.

There are going to be people in your life that don’t want you to better yourself. It may not even be malicious, but fear is a powerful motivator. A lot of people don’t lose weight and don’t purse their dreams because the people around them make them feel small or incapable. When I started to lose weight when we lived in Oklahoma, I actually had people mocking me for trying.

Are you gonna enjoy that salad?”
“We’ll see how long this lasts.”
“Why don’t you just love yourself?”

It took me a long time to realize the real problem. A lot of my friends were very overweight, even heavier than I was. They were taking me trying to improve myself as an attack on them. Maybe I should have tried harder to talk to them about it. Maybe I should have voiced how I felt. But I didn’t. Instead I just distanced myself, hung out with a couple close friends and made the gym fill up my spare time. I don’t think I dealt with it the healthiest way. I don’t even know what the healthiest way is. I just know that you don’t have to let people make you feel bad for wanting to change.

If there is one thing I’ve learned through everything it’s that you have to be enough. It may sound cheesy and a lot of people may say it, but you have to live with yourself the rest of your life. Positive thinking is so crucial.

You have to realize that your thoughts are incredibly important and being aware of them is the key to changing how you feel. Are you being negative? Are you being positive? Are you being cruel? There are times that I can actually stop and realize how awful I’m being to myself. All those voices telling me that I’m not enough, I’m alone, my husband doesn’t find me attractive.

Everyone has those thoughts, but you have to rise above them. You’re the one that is going to have to make the choices every day to get yourself to a better place. Whether that is towards weight loss or just a better you in general.

At any time, you can make your situation better.

Surround yourself with people that love you and add to your life.
But do not expect or demand them to make you happy.
Once you start depending on yourself to start bringing joy into your life you’ll wonder why you didn’t just do it in the first place.

Stay Cheerful

Dev