Farewell 2018

Thank you 2018. What a whirlwind year! Goals achieved, dreams realized, and relationships cultivated; tempered with loss of loved ones, physical health issues, and personal challenges. From the joy of publishing my book and speaking on the famous red dot of TEDx to the tragedy of losing my aunt, this has been a year.

What I’ll take from every joy and pain of 2018, is that life ebbs and flows moment by moment. We tend to trick ourselves into the newness of a year on January 1st but a new opportunity is born every second. Not just on January 1st, not on Monday morning, but every moment you’re alive is a chance to do better or be better. Don’t get sucked into the hype of a new year. Be present in moments. If you stumble, all is not lost! With the simple blink of an eye, by the grace of God, you can try again.

Thank you 2018. If you’re reading this then my heartfelt thanks to you! What a gift and pleasure to share this space with you all. I can’t wait to show you what’s planned for 2019!

God Bless!

Regina

Perfectionism, Food Issues and Karate

I’m definitely a perfectionist. I like things done. Right. The first time. I like doing things well and I’m obsessed with things like order and placement. From a marketing perspective this can be considered great or even ideal. One thing that really changed my life was when I discovered perfection’s back story. Perfection is really fear, anxiety, and procrastination doing an elaborate dance.

What does that mean? I can’t speak for all people, but I can certainly speak to my own experiences. Looking over my past behaviors – which was essential to weight loss – I discovered that I would often opt to do NOTHING if I couldn’t do it PERFECTLY. Inevitably, the task I needed to do would likely take more time to complete but I’d want to do it immediately. If I didn’t have the time to do that, I’d leave it to another day.

Perfection is merely procrastination in a tuxedo.

In our last house I had an office studio where I’d make personalized items. After the holiday season it was usually a wreck. I’d open the door and want to clean it to sheer perfection. Realizing how that was impossible I’d simply shut the door and wait until I had more time. If I did get to the place where I’d actually tackle it, I’d often get so overwhelmed at the enormity of it all and shut down. Greetings Anxiety! I knew you’d show up eventually!

As I began the process for weight loss surgery, I noticed how a lot of this behavior was not only in office clean up but heavily tied to my food behaviors. I would never say, “I’m going to cook dinner tonight.” I would say, “I’m going to cook dinner every night for the rest of my life!” When I failed once at my Lifetime Cooking Goal I’d go right back to ordering out because I failed.

I had to recognize that I was constantly setting myself up for failure! In my office I could’ve planned to break down what needed to be done into smaller, more manageable tasks, set a deadline for completing those tasks, and worked toward completion. With cooking dinner I could’ve endeavored to cook that one night and work up to cooking more often.

I mind-tricked myself out of my own wellness!

My internal need for perfection would often have me procrastinating until I felt that I could accomplish something perfectly. What a realization!

As I applied this model of breaking things down into smaller and more manageable tasks, I realized it was not just in office cleanliness or wellness that I had this issue. Karate brought out a lot of this behavior. I wanted to have black belt skills as a white belt. Yeah, that’s not possible. I’d often go home after class and beat myself up for not learning fast enough or looking as good as my peers. It was challenging physically and even more mentally.

After a while, you realize that you will only get better with dedication and practice. I am not a black belt so I won’t have black belt skills. What I can do is learn and practice. I will not know anything instantly. I will have to break it down, learn it in pieces, and put it together over time.

One of the most valuable pieces to all of this is the realization that doing something – even something unbelievably small – is better than doing nothing at all. Gracefully bow out of the Dance of Perfection and Procrastination and begin.

Progress not perfection.

Did You Do It Yourself

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have a booth selling and signing my books at the Rhode Island Women’s Expo. I loved sharing Food, Sweat, & Fears with new people.

Weight is so personal. You could see it in how people chose to engage at the booth. Some didn’t want to engage at all, while others had more curiosity. Many people opened up and shared stories of about themselves or a loved one battling the issues of weight. Most people seemed like they were looking for The Secret Missing Link Of Weight Loss.

The most frequent question was this:

Did you do it yourself?

The battle rages on. People still seem to believe that weight loss surgery has no element of work and is considered “cheating” weight loss. There was a woman who had surgery and called it cheating! I was stunned. She intimately knows how much work is involved in this process and still called it cheating!

My work is not done. I will continue to speak and share my message about the surgical options for weight loss. Surgery is NOT for everyone but removing the stigma from this option can save lives.

Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix or even a guarantee of weight loss. Long term success eludes most people after surgery. This can be directly attributed falling back into unhealthy eating behaviors after surgery. When you’ve spent your life exhibiting poor eating choices – like me – or you use food as a primary coping strategy – like me – this can be extremely challenging. You have to do the work. No matter how you choose to lose weight there will be work to do.

Coming out of the Thanksgiving Food Olympics and heading straight into Christmas Cookie Season, makes me really sensitive to people’s comments. Probably because the hardest workout I do this season is shaking my head from left to right refusing your offers of cookies and cakes.

I have to do that all by myself.

______________

Did you know you can preorder my new, expanded cookbook Healthy Fare today? Ships before Christmas! Check it out here: Healthy Fare

Missed Opportunities

Many people say the same thing when they see my wedding pictures:

Wow! He really loves you!

Ugh.

As you’re looking at photos of my WEDDING I’d like to believe love would be obvious. It seems like they’re really saying:

Wow! He even loved you like that!

There’s a chapter in my book Food, Sweat, & Fears about the anxiety around my wedding day. Everyone wants to look their absolute best and I was no different. But the reality of the situation is that I was over 300lbs. My husband loves me for me and that is a profound blessing.

Jeff and I have a blast together. We always pray that every couple has the crazy, silly, and joyous moments we have when we’re together. He really is my best friend and the first person I can’t wait to tell good news, hug through challenging news, and to make our own news.

What if Jeff let my size stop him for continuing to see me?

What if he thought I was cool and all but he wasn’t attracted to me?

What if I let his love of country music and wearing cowboy hats stop me from getting to know him better?

I recently heard a story about a woman who was on a first date. She thought everything went well and they had a good time. At the end of the date he said something alarming.

You’re really pretty, funny and smart but I prefer my women under 100 pounds.

What?!

I understand there has to be a level of attraction but to say that she’s everything you’re looking for BUT her weight just won’t cut it.

I reminded me a conversation I heard many years ago. Two women I worked with were discussing their lives and how they’re in their early 30s and are still single and have no children. They were reflecting on some nice guys they dated in their twenties but thought they could do better. Those guys are now all married with families and the women are alone.

They keep seeking the bigger, better deal. More money. Better looking. Something that fit the thoughts and dreams of what a relationship should be. One woman even went so far as to say that there was a guy she really loved and had the best time with but he just wasn’t very cute. She regretted leaving him and as they connected over Facebook she was constantly seeing pictures of his wife and family. It was a daily reminder of all he could’ve given to her if she just accepted him as he was. She can see this clearly now.

I think these women learned the lesson that the man on the first date hasn’t yet learned: what really matters is what will sustain you over time. If she’s over 100lbs and under 100lbs will not matter when you lose a job… or a parent… or a child!

Jeff and I seen a lot together this past decade. The joys of weddings, high school and college graduations, and our parents anniversaries. We’ve also weathered many storms like losing so many people we love, the fierce and relentless battle of addictions, job loss, and more. We didn’t need a perfect weight, we needed our faith to be strong and to be together. We cling to God and each other and we will always sit in the peaceful eye of the storm. It’s not without pain, not without challenge, but it’s possible to handle together.

This is Relationship Math

You + Me = (Joys Multiplied) + (Sadness Divided)

Hard To Get Wrong

Remember the old joke about a man lost in New York City? He asks a New Yorker: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? The New Yorker answers: Practice, practice, practice.

Practice is the basis of excellence. Even if you were gifted with a talent, practice hones snd refines your skills. Karate is no exception to this at all. I learned a few months ago what I was doing wrong with my training and I saw the benefit of the switch I made last night at my Belt Test.

A few months back Sensei noticed that my last kata was my best kata. I was proud of myself for about 1.2 seconds. He followed his comment up telling me that my first kata should be my absolute best because I’ve done it the longest. He suggested I work on all of the kata from beginning and working up to my latest and if I make a mistake go back to the beginning. I started doing that during my practice at home.

In class a few weeks laterI discovered my next practice flaw. We were working on basics and Sensei said:

Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until it’s hard to get wrong!

That showed me something about myself. I’m a list maker and I like putting check marks on said list. Done. Complete. Move on.

Karate can seem like a activity where you can make a list and check things off as you go but in reality you can’t. In the beginning, you learn basics and patterns of movement. As time goes on you learn techniques to deepen your skill level. This process is continual.

Last night I tested for my Blue Belt with Black Stripe. This is my final Blue Belt. With the launch of my book, work, and moving I’ve had to practice in any corner of time I could find. I’ve done more practice in the shower, in front of the microwave, and in public places more than I care to admit! The joy was seeing how these microwave moments and my new understanding of practice came into full swing yesterday.

Belt testing usually begins with a workout. More like a You Feel Like You Might Die Session. Yesterday’s workout did. Not disappoint. As I’m typing this I feel like my thumbs are as sore as my abs! After the workout we generally take a break and then Sensei will call each group up to perform their kata and their kumite in front of the class starting with white belts. There are several belt ranks that would test before me so I was looking forward to kicking back and watching the show.

This. Did. Not. Happen!

Sensei called us back to our lines and we did each kata until it was our final kata. I was not remotely expecting that! I had about 2 seconds to ponder what was happening and we started! My anxiety was about to explode but then I remembered that this is just how my practice has been over the past few months and like most Saturday classes! You stay in the group until you’re way over your pay grade and you respectfully bow out. I had to just focus and do what I’ve been doing in the shower but do it in the dojo with scores of people watching… thankfully, with clothes on!

When I walked into the dojo at 44 years old with no clue or expectation of what the next 18 minutes looked like – let alone the next 18 months – I never expected this. The physical challenges, mental exhaustion, and trying to get to Carnegie Hall with all my practice! Another thing I never expected was to walk into a place and join with a group of other human beings searching for their own sense of health, challenge, and purpose. I also didn’t expect to love so much. Karate is a path that can feel like you are walking on your own but every step you take is on the hands of masters who went before you lifting you up and you’re. holding the hands of your peers steadying you on the way.

This was the hardest belt test by a country mile but the one I’m most proud of. I still have a ton to learn, techniques to deepen, and practice to do but I’m ready to continue down the path with the greatest friends a girl could ask for!

Terror, Typos, And Roundhouse Kicks

I’ve blogged for over a decade on various platforms so sharing parts of my life or general observations of the world around me isn’t new. I first got my stride writing on MySpace. Everyone had anonymity through embarrassing screen names which made what you were sharing have a layer of privacy. As the platforms shifted we lost that anonymity. Facebook literally put a face to our feelings and comments. Despite shedding that last layer of privacy, we continue to share. One would think after all these years of sharing that writing a book would be what comes naturally. One would be wrong.

When I started writing I wanted to be open and honest which were two things I’ve spent a lifetime NOT being about my weight. From lying about how much I was eating to how much I weighed, openness and honestly were not a part of my program. Diving into those feelings and emotions were terrifying but the more open I became the better I felt AND the more I realized that I was never alone in those feelings.

Writing was emotionally challenging. The rewrites were unreal. I struggled with sharing too much or too little. I struggled with sharing parts of other people’s stories that overlapped my own since I felt they weren’t mine to tell. Then I struggled with my anxiety.

Should I write this?

Will anyone understand?

What if it’s universally hated?

These thoughts are the devil and sometimes incredibly paralyzing. I’d write, then rewrite, then try again, and again… and again. Then I noticed that these changes and rewrites were really more about delaying progress than seeking perfection. Procrastinators are truly perfectionists with anxiety! I was starting to lose my nerve but I had many books already sold from the preorder so I knew I had to turn off the internal chatter and just do it!

It was then I discovered the intricacies and potentially issues with self publishing. There were formatting problems, platform delays, and shipping issues. With every delay my anxiety was rising because this process was only to take about 40 days from book completion took way longer than that. I wanted my first signing and book pick up to be at Higher Grounds Community Coffeehouse and I had to reschedule it 3 times waiting for my books to arrive. I made the decision to order my pre-ordered books and first round of books to have on hand – sight unseen. An enormous leap of faith for a perfectionist. Even doing this resulted in people ordering from the Amazon bookstore receiving their books before I received mine!

Last Thursday after months of delays and oddball issues my books arrived. In looking them over I noticed some typos and some formatting issues. Things I definitely should’ve caught but I was so concerned with the forest that I failed to see the trees. Amazon’s self publishing arm is very new and apparently still had some kinks to work out from the author end of things. What’s beautiful with self publishing is that the books are print on demand and easily updated. I’m working on this formatting issues and typos now. If you’ve ordered one of these original books thank you and I hope the typos aren’t too distracting from the story itself.

What I’m most proud of is that I did it. Knowing things weren’t completely perfect I still did it. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, once said:

“Done is better than perfect.”

For a person who obsesses over minute details, this is a challenging concept. Historically, I’d rather do nothing than something substandard! I’m discovering that karate is helping me immensely in this area.

When you watch a trained person do a karate move it looks effortless – almost simple. Yet, when you try to mimic the movement you become keenly aware that it is not simple. It’s really a million tiny moves working in perfect harmony! A roundhouse kick is a prime example of that for me. Looks pretty simple, right? You’ve seen it on TV and movies forever, right? Try it. Everyone from Bruce Lee to Steven Stegall to Patrick Swayze made it look easy. It’s not.

My kicks will only improve with the combination of time and training. Time alone will not do it. I could be enrolled in karate for 50 years but if I don’t practice I won’t improve. Training is also not enough. You can learn the basics of a kick in one session but you won’t master it that day. I really want to master it that day! REALLY!

I have to continually remind myself:

I will not master anything immediately.

Procrastination is the devils way of blocking your progress.

I have never been alone in my feelings of self-doubt, anxiety or fear and that sharing that – even imperfectly – is of great benefit to someone who needs it.

And done can really be better than perfect.

Sometimes.

To see Food, Sweat, & Fears on Amazon click Here

Finally

When I offered my new book for pre-sale to the readers of my blog I naively thought I was in the homestretch of the process. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From my own challenges and insecurities of telling such a personal story and wanting to tell it honestly and openly but without compromising the many other stories that intertwine with my own was an undertaking. When I thought I was finally able to communicate my vision without infringing on others I ran into platform issues with publishing that I did not anticipate or account for.

IMG_0615In the midst of this, I was selected to be a speaker at TEDxNewport which was a long-standing dream for me and one of the most incredible times of my life. The preparation for TEDxNewport was extensive and was coupled with the busiest season at work. Needless to say, more delays. I’ll be sharing my TEDxNewport experience when the video becomes available.

Finally, after delays, technical problems, insecurities, and more Food, Sweat, and Fears is shipping!! The pre-sale was successful so they are coming via freight. As soon as they get in my hands I’ll post the pick up locations and book signing dates. The book is now available on Amazon if you did not pre-order. If you’re local, books will be available for sale at signings and some store locations which I will share when finalized. If there’s a bookstore or library you think should have this book reach out!

 

If you’d like me to come to your school, business, or church please contact me through the contact form HERE. Weight is only a part of the story. The issues of anxiety, fear, faith, and self-value are universal and so very necessary right now. Let’s talk!

Click the book (and check out early praise) to go to my Amazon author page! I’m currently working on expanding my first eBook Healthy Fare into a full scale cookbook. Follow my author page to know first when new material is available.

Thank you for your continued support! I am blessed beyond measure!

The Final Final Exam

Before I begin, I just want to explain why I haven’t posted so frequently as of late. I’m in the final push for my book Food, Sweat, and Fears and it’s taking my free time as well as all of my writing! Writing can be exhausting and add in work, husband, family, karate, POUND training, karate camp, traveling, and puppies and it becomes a recipe for limited time. Back to our regularly schedule program…

At East Coast Karate we belt test quarterly and it was time to test for the Orange Belt! I’ve been practicing and attending classes regularly and it was all coming together. Attending the Rhode Island Karate & Kobudo Camp increased class count and my experience way more than the required number of classes to be eligible to test. Karate always stretches me emotionally as well as physically but this time it was different.
The first twang of discomfort came when we were to test on a Wednesday. We always test on Thursday but Sensei has a training camp in North Carolinta so the day was moved. I know it seems silly but it really did throw me off. Although I’d been training for three months I don’t know why this loss of a single day was a big deal. The last few classes I was feeling strong and confident. Then came Monday.

Monday’s class was my last  opportunity practice before the belt and it felt like I was doing everything wrong. I know what I know and yet I couldn’t get it. I was hoping the welling nerves would pass. They didn’t. Practicing at home wasn’t going so well either.

The day of the belt test I headed to the nail salon. We have a large group of people in our belt rank and many of us commit to matching our nails to our new belts. As I’m sitting in the pedicure spa I’m getting crazy nervous! Why am I so anxious today?

Then I did the stupidest thing EVER! I went home to practice before the test and decided to record myself. NEVER again on testing day. I can only say with any certainty that the video looks like a tangle of limbs and afro. By the time I get to the dojo I’m 100% in my head. When it was time to test I still felt like I was failing a final exam after studying for weeks! I looked calm and relaxed but inside was a completely different story.

When the test was underway I felt like I was doing horribly. I knew I could do better because I’ve done better. I did make it through but I wanted so much more. Watching the upper belts made my desire to improve even greater. I need to get out of my own way!

As Sensei was getting ready to hand our belts he mentioned something that will forever change my approach to the test. This isn’t a final exam like I was feeling all day. He said, “This isn’t a test as much as it’s a performance. The test was the three months of hard work leading up to today.”

Mind. Blown.

Performance? As a singer I get performance. As a karate student taking a belt test it feels like I need to pass something and if I don’t so well then I fail on some level. The reality is that Sensei wouldn’t have us test if he thought we weren’t sufficiently tested! Why didn’t I see this before? It’s crazy how a single word can change the way something feels completely. Kind of like the word exercise feels more like a chore but training does not.

The pressure has been removed from the equation now that I understand that I wouldn’t be on the floor if I didn’t know enough to be there. My next belt test will be in December for my blue belt and I plan to treat it like a recital! Orange Belt Test is officially the final final exam.

Me and Sensei Dave (David Ahrens, Kyoshi)Missing a few but here are the Orange Belts!Getting belted!

p.s. I didn’t delete the video so I’ll show you all in a few years after I get my Black Belt!

Size Matters

Men have a distinct fashion advantage when it comes to clothing sizes. Pants are normally sized by waist and inseam in inches and that’s pretty clear. If you have a 36″ waist and a 30″ inseam you know those pants will fit. Women’s sizes are so arbitrary. Some places I’m a 14, others a 12, and there’s no clear rationale to the sizing. Why can’t it be as simple as inches? No guessing games, no deciphering sizing charts, no drama!

Another issue is the psychological trauma of One Size Fits All. When you’ve always fit in something One Size Fits All you probably think “psychological trauma” is a harsh or dramatic term. If you’ve spent hours looking for something slightly decent to wear, finally stumble upon something that’s One Size Fits All and discover you are NOT a part of the ALL you’ll know that “psychological trauma” is quite accurate. 

What surprises me in 2017, and all the body positivity and inclusion that we are starting to see in magazines and on television there’s still a little trauma out there in a rather unlikely place: legging companies. 

I love leggings. As rarely as I wear them out of the house I’m always in them at home. I’ve supported many LuLaRoe small business consultants and I’m happy to do so but there’s an issue with the sizing. For adult leggings they have two sizes: One Size and Tall & Curvy. See that? I’ve often been the woman not fitting a One Size and if you have more than one size then why are they calling them One Size? 

LuLaRoe is really good at using various sized models in their ads and product lines so I’m surprised they took this step. They clearly state that One Size leggings are for up to size 12 and T&C are for up to size 22 and tall women. Couldn’t they call it something else that won’t make a person feel like they don’t belong?

If it was just LuLaRoe it would be one thing but I’ve seen this same sizing model in the other leggings/women’s shop at home pop up businesses like Honey & Lace, Legging  Army, and LaLa Leggings. Again, I love women who are stepping out and earning their living and I will always support local businesses but has anyone questioned this?

Here’s my request:

Healthy Faux Big Mac Recipe

Here’s a fun, fast recipe that I posted on my Facebook and Instagram pages the other day. It’s healthy version of my favorite before RNY food: McDonald’s Big Mac! This one has all the essence of the taste of that famous delicious burger without all the regret (and none of the bread). Let me know if you try it!