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It’s OK to Fall Over

It’s OK to Fall Over

Over the Christmas break, I was gifted an evening of night skiing with my brother and my husband. I was so stoked to dust off my old ski gear and strap on my salopettes. It had been years since I had been skiing – an activity that my family and I used to love. Growing up, we would spend one week each winter in the Alps (a 12-hour drive from where I grew up in the U.K.) where we would ski to our heart’s content each day. It had been a huge family bonding activity, one that we all look back on with fondness. 

Fast forward 11 years, and I was missing the feel of the snow beneath my skis and the crisp mountain air in my face. On the evening that we were supposed to go skiing, I pulled my old gear out of its dusty box, got dressed (well…my snow pants from when I was 15 were markedly tight, because I don’t have the body of a 15-year-old anymore, thank goodness my body has grown with me!), and we headed for the slopes. 

As we approached the towering mountainside, I noticed my thoughts turning towards fearful nerves and “what ifs”. Like, what if I couldn’t remember how to ski anymore? What if my pants that were so tight they had to be undone fell down while I was skiing (please no!)? What if I fell over? What if I hurt myself? 

I acknowledged my nerves to my brother and husband, who were regulars on the mountain, and apprehensively clipped myself into my skis and we set off. As we glided up the mountain on the chair lift, taking in the glorious nature around us, I found myself setting the goal to “just get through the whole night without falling over” this evening. 

Having been skiing quite a lot growing up, I had been very confident on my skis and barely fell. But here I was, 11 years later, hoping that skiing was like riding a bike or a horse, and that muscle memory meant you could just pick back up where you left off. I told myself if I can make it through the evening without falling over, it would be a success. That was my goal. And I worked toward that goal, I went slower than I could have, I took safer routes than I could have, I turned slower and certainly did not attempt any jumps. I even sat out on some runs. When the evening was coming to an end, I quickly agreed that it was time to go because so far I had made my goal of not falling over – what if I did one more run and that was where it all went downhill (no pun intended)?

I loved my evening of skiing; it was a fabulous gift and so good for the soul! But, as I look back on the evening, I can’t help but regret my goal of not falling over. With that vision in mind, it stopped me from fully living in the moment and having the most fun I could have had. I was so concerned that I would look like I’d lost my skill level, that I actually looked like I’d lost my skill level by going so slow and avoiding anything remotely adventurous! 

I had self-sabotaged! I had not lived in the present moment, I had been more conscious of what I looked like, and I had set an AWFUL goal. What is wrong with falling over when you’re trying something you haven’t done for 11 years? Would I care if I went skiing regularly and then went with someone who hadn’t skied in 11 years and they fell over? No! So why did I put that on myself?

My daughter is currently in the phase of life where everything is brand new to her. Walking, climbing, jumping, sliding…the list goes on. She falls over about 200x a day. And the most miraculous part of that? She jumps back up without any look of embarrassment and tries again. She could not care less about how she looks and would probably never set the goal to not fall over, because that would mean she’s not having fun doing what she wants to do. 

I learned a valuable lesson during that skiing trip, that falling down is not the enemy – living in fear of falling down is the enemy. Falling down doesn’t stop you progressing – but living in fear of falling down stops you progressing. It reminds me of the beloved phrase from the classic 2004 film A Cinderella Story featuring Hilary Duff, which says “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”. Call me cheesy, but I think that phrase epitomizes the lesson I learned that night. I was so scared of striking out that I barely played the game.

In eating recovery, there will probably be times you strike out or fall over, and that’s OK. It’s all part of “playing the game”. In fact, that’s expected. In fact, that’s part of recovery.Don’t put your eating recovery on hold because you’re afraid you won’t always do it perfectly all the time. Don’t be too worried about what your dietitian or therapist or doctor will think if you have a bad day in your recovery – they will likely understand better than anyone. 

Don’t listen to that little voice that says it’s easier on my self-esteem to not try than to try and fall over. It might be causing you to move slower or take safer routes, like me on that mountain. Think of yourself in the way that you think of a child you love who is learning to walk. They fall over and you probably don’t berate them for it. You probably lovingly hold them and tell them it’s OK and to try again. 

Think of the power you would have in your recovery if you could lovingly hold yourself when you fall over and tell yourself it’s OK and to try again. That’s a lesson I learned from my experience of skiing again: it’s OK to fall over – don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.

 

Lessons Learned from a Year of COVID19

Lessons Learned from a Year of COVID19

As I write this, it is exactly one year ago that my phone exploded with emails detailing how every organization I was involved with would be closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was terrifying, and if I’m being totally honest, a little bit thrilling to see life as we knew it shift and evolve completely. I sensed that we were a part of history, and that this would be a day I would remember for the rest of my life. As time has moved slowly forward, and we haven’t reached normality yet, I have found myself musing over the lessons we’ve learned during this unique time.

What have we learned?

We are resilient. 

Persistence works. We keep on living even in the face of tough things. We can do hard things. We can beat our personal Goliaths. For many, the pandemic has been a time where mental health struggles have increased. Rates of eating disorders have increased, rates of domestic violence have increased. People have lost their jobs and lost their loved ones – the pandemic has been horrifying for so many people across the world. And if you’re reading this, you’ve made it through that. You can do hard things!

We work well together; together is better than alone. 

There has been a special sense of togetherness that I’ve felt while we’ve been separated from one another. My parents (who still live in England) have been totally locked down since March of last year, with strict rules regulating when they can leave their house, for what purpose, and how often. They are not allowed to see other people at all. Yet, they reported that there is a marvelous sense of togetherness that they each feel while segregated in their own homes, almost like the feeling that prevailed during the war years of the 1940s. They expressed a sentiment that abounds in the UK is that we humans are stronger than any of these elements that wage against us, and that we will simply be victorious. While we may be physically separated from our loved ones, we can share in that glorious feeling that we are fighting the same battle and will eventually succeed.

We are creative and adaptive. 

Look how we have adapted to this situation! We are used to sanitizing everything, wearing masks, and using zoom like it’s all we’ve ever known. We’ve been creative and learned that it’s OK to ask for help to meet our typical demands in an unusual environment. For some that might look like extensions for deadlines, for others that could be changing their job, and for others that could be looking for the silver lining like being able to wear pajama bottoms most of the time.

We need to take care of ourselves, in all ways. 

Self-care has almost never been more important than right now. We need to know our own limits and set boundaries that help us to stay sane through these times!

Our thoughts play a huge role in the way we feel and the way we act.

What I tell myself when bad things happen is important. When the clinic closed, think how differently I would have felt if I had told myself “coronavirus is going to infect me and I will likely die” to “what an exciting opportunity this is to live life differently for a short period of my entire life”, and in turn, how different my actions would be.

We are more similar than we are different. 

We each are trying to get through this time and keep our loved ones close – that unites us more than our political or religious beliefs may separate us.

How are we different now?

Preparation is important…

otherwise we run out of toilet paper!

Some things are more important than others.

For example, relationships matter…a lot. We have seen how being isolated from one another makes us feel.

Fluff doesn’t matter much; we know more about what is important. 

We got down to the basics, for some people that included family, for other people that included having time without work which meant figuring out what are necessities and what is considered fluff.

We are harder in some ways; softer in others. 

I would guess we are “harder” in that it would take more to knock us down now; we know we are larger than many trials, and we recognize our own strength in the face of them. Yet, I think we are softer in how we view others’ needs, the suffering of our fellow men/women, and in how we make time to care for our own needs.

What we can control and what we can’t control may be clearer. 

We know that we cannot control a pandemic, and we cannot control what our neighbor chooses to do. But, we have learned that we can control our behavior in response to events, and we can control how prepared we are.

Overall, I am so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been one of the most difficult years of everyone’s lives, with circumstances that we will hopefully never have to repeat again. As we aren’t through this yet, keep your chin up, seek help when you need to, and move toward the things that keep you going. We will get through this!

Special thanks to Dean Barley, Ph.D. (the Director of the BYU Comprehensive Clinic) for sharing some of his thoughts on this subject.

 

All the Feels

All the Feels

Recently, I’ve had a lot of people disclose to me that they wish they could be less [insert mental flogging device here]. The end of that sentence often looks something like “perfectionistic” or “depressed” or “reactive” or “anxious” or “opinionated” or “attention seeking”. Sometimes it’s the opposite, and people wish they were more [insert mental flogging device here]. The end of this sentence often looks something like “slimmer” or “fitter” or “a better mother” or “kind” or “creative”. As you can tell…we are a complex bunch, aren’t we? We each seem to wish we were different in so many ways. (more…)

Harnessing Self-Compassion

Harnessing Self-Compassion

I once heard it said that you can motivate a donkey to carry you to town in one of two ways: you can whip the donkey, forcing him to move out of fear of pain, or you can hold carrots in front of him, lovingly encouraging him to move forward to receive his next reward. Both are legitimate ways to get the donkey to do what you need him to do. (more…)

Are Your Goals SMART?

Are Your Goals SMART?

Well…it’s that time of year again. The time when all we hear about are New Year’s resolutions and pledges of “new year, new me”. We are accosted with wishes of weight loss through new faddy diets, goals of success in “get rich quick” schemes, and daydreams of how things will certainly be different this new year. As the clock turns midnight, signifying the start of a new calendar year, we almost expect our lives to take a total turn, for it to be easier for us to act differently and become a new person. While I think it is important to be mindful of certain aspects of ourselves that we could lovingly improve, I do not think it is necessary (or really…possible) to become a new version of yourself just because we write the calendar year with a different number now. So, with that in mind, I’d like to present some SMART goals for 2021.

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