Life in Phases

Etsy artist Milatree - "Champagne Supernova"

Etsy artist Milatree – “Champagne Supernova”

It’s officially been six weeks since I started the July 2013 cohort of Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating.

PN breaks the program up into Phases. There are new workouts for each phase and new habits every two weeks. Habits that are meant to build on one another, easing you into things one at a time.

My first six weeks have personally been a bit a roller coaster and I’m trying to focus really hard on seeing how I rose to the challenges despite the valleys of disappointment.


When it comes to the habits, so far we’ve had 3.

Habit One: I’ve been a champ at taking my fish oil and probiotics. Missed only one day out of the last six weeks, and learned that day if I don’t take them before I leave the house in the morning the odds are pretty good I won’t remember until the next day. Routine and consistency is the key to habits.

Habit Two: The other two habits that follow are what PN likes to call the “anchor” habits. These are the habits to go back to if everything else feels like it’s falling apart. These are the two habits that I will remember when when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing (OFTEN). I will just remember to EAT SLOWLY – I’m talking put my fork down in between bites, chew and taste each bite, take a drink of water between all of the bites and consciously, mindfully, slowly eat each meal.

Habit Three: EAT UNTIL 80% FULL. I know, I know, I was thinking the same thing – what the hell is 80% full? Isn’t full just full? How the hell do you know when you’re “approaching” full? Don’t you just eat until the food is gone? Yeah, that’s the thing about anchor habits, their truth is revealed when you really start to practice and you start to understand that they really and truly make sense. If you are consciously eating slowly and tasting each bite and pausing to listen to how your body feels you start to understand that you really can tell when you have had enough. I’m getting good enough at it now to understand even 60% full and  the difference between feeling hungry an hour later or feeling hungry three hours later. It’s like slowly learning to rewire these connections that your body just naturally has. Your body is smart. It knows when you’ve had enough – you just need to use your brain and give it a chance to connect to those signals and BOOM, there it is – it was there the whole time, you just need to slow down enough to be able to listen.

So those are the habits, and if performing well in terms of compliance with the program was just about the habits and workouts than I rocked then first six weeks. I had more consistent days of workouts and habits than I have had in a really long time. The entire six weeks I took each day as it came and did what I was supposed to. Until last Thursday…

Etsy Artist Nikki Galapon - "things will be different"

Etsy Artist Nikki Galapon – “things will be different”

Pain & the Difference

This time LE is different for me. In just about ALL of the ways. Sure, the format and the platform are similar. Sure, there are still teams and coaches. But everything feels different. My body is different. I’m emotionally and physically in a very different place than I was three years ago. And the biggest difference? Pain.

Every day I have a degree of pain. Certain things I do can aggravate it and I try my best to avoid those things so I can get through my days minimizing the pain. Certain things in the workouts can aggravate whatever is wrong with my left arm/elbow/shoulder and make it hurt. Sometimes the hurt comes and sometimes the hurt goes. But last Thursday the hurt was accidental and it was mega-Pain. Tara and I were getting ready for bed. It had been a good day, I was headed to crawl in under the covers when I accidentally hit my left elbow hard on the bookshelf beside the bed. I hit my elbow exactly in the spot that I shouldn’t have. It was white blinding pain. I doubled over and were it not for the proximity of the bed I would have been on the floor. I almost threw up it hurt so bad. Stole my breath and took me what felt like 10 long minutes before I could breathe let alone acknowledge Tara’s questions. I breathed my way through the pain long enough to maneuver myself on to my right side and laid there a long time before sleep came despite the pain. Friday was almost unbearable. Spending the day at my desk trying to work through the waves of pain and doing my best not to let it show all over my face. Friday I missed my workout.

Saturday I missed my workout, hoping and praying that rest and quiet would let whatever first storm I set off would settle. Hour by hour that passed slowly the pain receded, like the tide going out. Sunday morning came and things felt almost back to my new post-accident normal. By that I mean the constant acknowledgement that something about my left arm/side is different but not a crippling unbearable pain. And today, Monday I finally got a good workout in. And the pain came about halfway through the workout, but I was as careful as I could be and now a few hours later it is already resolving. This is the new normal. This is one of the major different factors this time.

Faith & Believing

The other major difference? My frame of mind. First, let me just state for the record that I firmly believe that pain does something to your brain and overrides all of the circuits. Second let me tell you that, I don’t really have the same degree of faith that I can do this this time. In fact it feels like I have a whole different brain this time. That former head space of mine told me I could do anything and I could give you three positive reasons to just try as a default. I really miss that brain. This time I have a brain who sees the three reasons why it’s not even worth trying. This time I see all of the reasons why I hate this body of mine because of all of the things it’s CAN’T do now instead of seeing even how different things still are than this girl:

September 2009

September 2009

That’s the funny thing about pain and physical set backs, they can steal more than just your abilities physically. They can steal how your brain works too. You can wake up one day and find yourself wandering back through these ancient deep set behaviors so black with negativity that you’re uncomfortable again in your own skin and you find yourself thinking – “what the fuck?, I’ve conquered this shit before and here I am again wading back through all of this and I forget how to get out.” So that’s where I am. I’ve recognized that negative-Mimi brain (as Tara likes to call it) is reappearing again and I’m really not enjoying being in my own skin. BUT here’s the deal. I am self-aware enough to know that this is happening. I’m not so far into this black cloud of negativity that I’m oblivious to just what is happening. and also…? I’m a little terrified. I’m scared that I won’t find my way through it again this time and reclaim the head space of “positive-Mimi”. I mean I can still remember days when I felt SO Certain that I deserved an amazing body because I was an amazing person in 2009 when I was 90lbs heavier than I am right now. That’s the funny thing about self confidence isn’t it?

You just have to believe.

You just have to have a little Faith.

You just have to remember you’re worth something. Something big.

You just have to know what you deserve.

from Etsy - FancyThatDesignHouse

from Etsy – FancyThatDesignHouse


I don’t remember exactly how I found myself believing in Me before, but I do remember a whole lot of practice and positive-self-talk. I know it took time and a LOT of practice before I set some grooves in my brain that felt like “normal”. So along with my PNLE habits these days I’m going to institute some practice for this brain of mine.

  1. Three Things – AKA take the 1 damn negative thing you’re thinking and give yourself 3 positive things to mull over instead 
  2. Talk Out Loud – I have a default tendency to take my light and hide it under as many bushels as I can find. This one reminds me to talk about my light. Or my life. Just dare myself to share a little. It comes back to me, even though it’s scary at first. And it builds a little confidence…exactly what I’m shooting for.
  3. Get Comfortable Being Alone – I’m alone a lot more these days now that Tara is working and our schedules are opposite. Lately that being alone has just made me lonely and more often than not lets me slide backwards a little into darker places of my brain. That’s no fun for anyone. So I need to come up with a strategy to make alone time more fun again. Explore old hobbies, reconnect with people I love, find some new friends.

This is Phase 2. I have a month of practicing this September. I hope October and Phase 3 finds me feeling so much more awesome.

Because if there is something I can at least to pretend to believe for now, it’s this: I do deserve to be awesome.


5 comments on “Life in Phases

  1. Tara September 3, 2013 9:59 am

    (I hope you didn’t think I’d forgotten)

    I have so much Faith in you Red.

    But even more than faith, I believe in you.

    Pain has a way of taking us down a notch (or two or twelve). Just when you think you have a handle on things pain says “here why don’t you try this on for a bit”…It has a way of reminding us of how things “used to be” and for many of us “how things are going to be from here on out”.

    I know it’s been Difficult Difficult. Nothing about this journey the last 2 years has been easy. The emotional tied in with the physical and not being able to use the physical to combat the emotional like in the past. You can’t just sweat away the shit when pain keeps you from moving and you can’t tell the pain to get the fuck out because it’s part of who you are now.

    We’re big picture kind of people. We want the results and we want them right now. We forget that the big picture never really is BIG PICTURE. It’s actually lots and lots (and lots) of small pictures coming together. It’s like anything else we do. You can’t cook a great meal without first bringing all the ingredients together in just the right way. You can’t make a beautiful piece of jewelry without first bringing all the beads together in just the right way. Christ, you can’t even fold a great big load of clean laundry without first bringing all the dirty one’s together…

    Have Faith in Mimi.

    Believe in Mimi.

    (that inner chick is waiting to be hatched)…

    But first you got to sit on the egg for a bit.

    I love you
    I adore you
    I want you
    I need you.

    ~ T

  2. Momma Sunshine September 3, 2013 10:23 am

    I was in a serious car accident when I was in my early 20s and had whiplash. It came back to haunt me when I was in my late 20s all the way through until just a couple of years ago. I lived in some degree of pain for almost a decade. These days (thanks to an amazing chiropractor) I deal mostly with just discomfort (and the occasional bout of pain. My point is that I can totally understand what you mean about how being in chronic pain seems to change the way your brain works. It’s all-consuming. It can easily become the thing by which we define our lives. It’s a struggle to overcome it just to live a “regular” life, let alone put in the effort to live an “extraordinary” life.

    You will find your positive Mimi brain again. It may take some time, but you’ll find it. It’s not like you’re starting from scratch…you KNOW that it’s there, you’ve heard it, you’ve LIVED it. In the meantime, try to be gentle with yourself….there’s nothing worse than feeling negative and beating yourself up about feeling that way on top of everything else!

    Hugs to you. You’ve accomplished a lot in your life. Don’t forget that….even on your bad days. Hell…ESPECIALLY on your bad days.

  3. Valerie September 3, 2013 11:03 am

    I am reaching out and giving you a seriously long-distance hug right now. Both because I want to comfort you and I want you to know that I believe in you…and because I can identify with having lost some faith in myself. I don’t know the answers, but I sure as heck know you’re on the right track! I think I will join you in the mental practices you gave yourself, about thinking positive things, speaking out loud (the spoken word is so powerful), and learning how to enjoy being alone. That last one, for me, isn’t a problem – it’s getting ENOUGH alone time and choosing to do things that nurture and feed my soul when I get it, rather than stuff my face in front of the TV. (Oh, did I just share that out loud?!)

    Love you, friend.

  4. Cynthia September 3, 2013 12:29 pm

    Pain is something we don’t prepare for when going through life. But you are worth moving past it and finding the not negative-Mimi. She’s a wonderful woman and keeps at it even when things are rough.

    I’m so intrigued by you doing LE. I’ve looked at it recently (A LOT) and just wonder if it is something I can do. Seeing you question but keep at it is encouragement to try.

  5. Heather Hansen September 3, 2013 3:56 pm

    I’ve been wanting to ask how it’s going! So I’m so happy you posted about it. I love your assessment and honesty about how it’s going. I can’t imagine how the pain must be so hard every day. I’m inspired by you to keep going and trucking along. You’re right; practice does make awesome. :)

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