Tag Archives: motherhood

Mind Trip Part III: What She Does and How She Does It

In March, I brought you the story of Rebecca Berger, who changed the way she thought about weight and radically transformed her body and improved her health.  In the first part of her story we looked at her struggle with weight gain and how she was eventually able to make a physical transformation after mentally reframing how she thought about eating and exercising.  In the second installment, I shared some what motivates Rebecca and her own insights into her inner life.  Today, we wrap up Rebecca’s story by delving into her process and how she stays focused upon it.

Now that Rebecca visualizes her day-to-day approach to eating and exercising as a journey, she sees each day as just one small segment of that journey.  A meal is a footstep along a path.  One workout is another footstep.  Eating the wrong thing is a simple misstep off the path that can be counteracted by taking the correct footstep at the next meal.  The important thing is keeping one’s mind focused down the road.  Know where you want to go and the path becomes clear.

Rebecca’s journey includes keeping a written journal of what she eats and her workouts.  Her day breaks down like this:

4:30am – Herbalife shake for breakfast
7am – Snack:  Greek yogurt
9am – Snack:  A cheese stick or clementine oranges
Noon – Herbalife shake for lunch
3pm – Snack:  Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or ham
6pm – Dinner:  Veggies and a small piece of meat, either chicken or fish
9pm – Bedtime

Number of calories consumed daily:  1350

You might notice that Rebecca’s diet is high in protein.  She says, “We live in a carb-rich environment.”  So, she intentionally eats in such a way so that if she does want to treat herself a slice of cake at an office birthday party, then the carbohydrates don’t tip the balance too dramatically.  Her mindset is always focused on reaching her goal weight, but she emphasizes that she doesn’t let weight be too much of a factor.  She sees this journey as being stretched out in front of her for the rest of her life, so reaching her goal weight next month or six months from now is less important that sticking to her path for the long term.

Her journey also includes exercising five times per week.  She loves cardio drumming and leads sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  Each session burns about 500 to 800 calories.  She does strength training a couple of times a week.  Her favorite form of strength training is kickboxing on a heavy bag.  Sometimes her workout is simply walking for an hour.  Part of the journey is keeping exercise fun.  That means getting some variety and trying new things.  An aspect of exercise Rebecca has grown to love is that it gives her renewed energy and stamina – things that help her keep up with her young children by keeping her youthful.

When it is all said and done, the most important thing about the new mental framework Rebecca has created for herself around eating and exercising is staying positive.  Setbacks are temporary.  The future is bright.  Keep moving forward toward your best self.

Mind Trip Part II: Getting Inside Her Head

They say you are what you eat.  Some who have combatted weight problems and won would be more likely to tell you that you are what you think.

At the beginning of March, I shared Rebecca Berger’s story with you – how she had spent much of her life overweight and struggling to take it off; how she eventually made a mental shift that allowed her to lose weight, restore her health, and remain trim and fit.  This week, we delve deeper into what goes on in Rebecca’s head that helps her be the person she spent so many years longing to be.

First, Rebecca has completely reframed the way she thinks about eating and exercise.  She used to think of healthy eating as dieting.  She used to think of exercise as a chore.  Now, she thinks of the entire eat/exercise package as a journey.  Each time she eats or works out it’s a footstep along that journey.  In Rebecca’s words, “Inches add up to feet.  Feet add up to miles.  Every good thing you do is an inch in the right direction.  Don’t let one bad thing derail you.  So, you made a mistake and ate something you shouldn’t.  So what?  Get over it and move on.”

Part of Rebecca’s mental process is about staying focused, motivated, and positive.  She says that she loves the quotes of Muhammad Ali for this.  She has posters of him in her office.  Some of her favorites are:

  • “The only limitations one has are the ones they place on themselves.”
  • “I’m going to show you how great I am.”
  • “Champions aren’t made in gyms.  Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”
  • “Don’t quit.  Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
  • “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

To get more into her head I asked Rebecca the following questions…

  1. What is the first thing you think of when you get out of bed in the morning?

First, I give thanks.  When each foot hits the floor I say, “Thank you God… for this day.  Please help me to do your will.”  As I pack my lunch I think of the choices I will make for the day and think about improving over the day before.

  1. How do you picture yourself, mentally?  Like you are now? Slimmer?  Heavier?

I see myself as I am or slimmer – usually at my goal weight.

  1. What do you think when you see yourself in the mirror?

I am much less critical of myself now than I use to be, when I look in the mirror.  I look for improvements in weight loss and muscle definition.  I must admit I think I look older now.

  1. How is your thinking different now than it was two or three years ago?

I think about things in a much more positive way.  I would get down on myself for every poor choice.  Now, I realize that it’s a lifelong journey and if I want something I plan and I account for it.  Plus, all things in moderation.

  1. What is/are your major motivator(s)?

I have sayings and signs everywhere.  But if you’re asking – what is my WHY – it’s my kids and family.  I want to be the parent they deserve.  My mom had knee problems that limited her from many activities as we were growing up, I don’t want my health and fitness to do the same.  Plus, the thought that if I continued to gain weight and not manage my health I would have risked being here for them – and that brings me to tears.

  1. Are you a happier person than you used to be?

ABSOLUTELY YES!  I have a much more positive outlook on life.  I have energy and I have confidence that I did not have before.  I often thought of things in life as a HAVE to, instead now it’s a GET to.  When you lack the energy to make it through the day so many things seem like have to do instead of getting to do.

  1. What frustrates you?  How do you work through it?

I occasionally get frustrated because I have slowed down on the weight loss, but then I think even if I never lost another pound I would still be a happy person.  I also still work with my [Herbalife] coach.

  1. What do you want more than anything else in life?

I really think I have found a passion with for fitness and exercise.  I would love to open my own nutrition club.  But again I think it is my kids and what I said in 5.

Is it possible that what goes on in our heads is what truly shapes the bodies we walk around in?  Rebecca Berger has reframed how she thinks about eating and exercise to transform her physical being.  Maybe, when it’s all said and done, when we are fighting the battle of the bulge, the real battle we are fighting is a mental one.  Maybe, before we change what we eat and how we work out, what we really need to do is change the way we think about all of it.  What do you think?

Parenting: Answering the Tough Questions

My twins just turned four and they are starting to ask tougher questions.  For example, a couple of days ago my daughter inquired about the little boy pictured on the weekly store circular (next to the words, “Have you seen me?”).  A few weeks ago my son asked why there was a man standing on the freeway off ramp (holding a sign that read, “Homeless, please help”).

When my kids first started asking questions about the world I made up my mind that I would always answer honestly.  It is, I thought, better to help your children learn to navigate the realities of the world head on, rather than to lie or over-simplify.  My wife is on the same page.  However, this new line of questioning has me wondering to what extent I should open my children’s minds to the harsher realities of the world.  Do four-year-olds really need to grapple with the concepts of missing children and homelessness?

So far, I have chosen to stick with the plan and answer their questions plainly.  My answers have been succinct, but to the point.  I explained to my daughter that the boy was missing, his parents are looking for him, and they put his picture on the circular in case we might have seen him.  She was concerned and expressed that we should look for him.  I said, “That’s exactly right, they want us to watch for him when we go places, with the hopes that we might see him and let them know.”  I told my son that some people don’t have a home like we do, that some folk aren’t as fortunate as we are, and that we should be grateful for what we have.  My wife and I have taught the kids about gratitude, so circling back to that seemed to help him understand it.

I know that these questions are just the tip of the iceberg.  The questions about death and where babies come from are inevitable.  I am interested in hearing from you.  How do/did you address the tough questions with your children?  Have you tried to protect your children from the harsher realities of the word?  If so, how have you gone about responding to their tougher questions?  If you answer head on, have you had success in framing answers in a certain way that help them comprehend matters?

I’m certainly willing to admit that I don’t have all of the answers when it comes to having all the answers.

My First Father’s Day

Looking back, I wish that I would have kept a journal (or written a blog!) beginning when my kids were born.  They’re nearly four now and believe me they are still cranking out new material every day.  Many of those early thoughts on fatherhood are lost to the ether, but I did have the opportunity to speak at my church about fatherhood, on my first Father’s Day.  Here’s the text from that speech, given June 19, 2011.  Re-reading it, I was surprised how much emotion it brought back about our journey to parenthood and those first months of daddydom.  Without further adieu…

It’s my first Father’s Day!  Would it be wrong of me to stand up here and do a happy dance?  My wife, D [she has a full name, but I’ll just refer to her as D], gave birth to two beautiful babies, Nate and Emily [those aren’t my kids’ real names, but they’re nice aliases aren’t they?], in August of 2010.  I say that I want to do a happy dance, because the birth of our twins meant both a beginning and an ending for D and me.

Logically, it meant the beginning of a grand new adventure with these two incredible beings who – as one friend so magically put it – chose us to be their parents.  But for us, it also meant the end of a nearly decade-long journey toward parenthood:  A journey that meant three surgeries for D, countless rounds of fertility drugs and IUIs, and a failed IVF attempt; all of which resulted in the sum total of two miscarriages.  Finally, in late 2009 we had a successful IVF cycle.  Two embryos were implanted in D’s uterus, both decided to stick around, and 38 weeks and three days later TA-DA!  Perfection!

A quick shout out to any of you out there who might be going through something similar to what we went through – I empathize with the fact that at some point all of the encouraging well-meaning words from the people who love you start to sound trite, hollow, and sometimes bizarrely callous.  But know this – it’s worth it.  Because it makes you appreciate your babies that much more.  It taps you on the shoulder on those too exhausted nights once the babies come when you can’t remember the last time you slept for more than one hour at a time and more than three hours in any 24-hour period and says, “Isn’t this awesome!”

…And your children – like mine – will NEVER be able to say that you didn’t want really them.

So, one might imagine that my path to becoming a father (I still love saying that, “father”) has probably affected my feelings about fatherhood greatly.  And one would be right.  I LOOOOOOOVE it.  I honestly, without a doubt, cannot think of anything else I would rather be doing with my life.

And I think it has had a profound impact on the kind of father that I am, because I am a radically different person than I was when we started trying to have kids eight years ago.  When I look back, I see a kid who was still trying to figure out who he was and where he was going in life.  I probably worked too much and cared too little.  With each passing year I felt a need to pull myself more closely in line with the kind of parent that I wanted to be.  I slowed down, got a respectable job with reasonable hours and good benefits, opened myself to living with mindful compassion, and reflected a lot on the kinds of parenting choices I’d like to make, rather than just going from the gut.

Oh yeah, and I joined a church.  This church; full of amazing people who have all been so supportive both in word and deed to D and me while we have muscled through the first year of twindom.  The meals, visits, coupons and words of encouragement have been invaluable.

I sometimes receive nice compliments from people who think that I’m a more hands on father than dads in general.  I appreciate that, because I do try to be “all-in” as a dad for a couple of reasons:

The first is by choice.  In the years that we were working to become parents I got to see a lot of my friends become dads, and as soon as some of their babies began to cry they’d pull the, “Oh, time to go back to Mom!” maneuver.  It seemed clever enough at the time, but cut to two years later and I would see the pained look on their faces when that child would tear herself from his arms and run to Mommy when she got a boo-boo or got upset.  Now, when one of my babies cries and my wife asks if I need her to take him or her I say, “No, I want them to know that Daddy can make it better too.”

The second reason I’m probably more hands on is by necessity.  Because, well, TWINS!  For example, D and I roomed in with our kids in the hospital – and the day they were born the nurse helped us into our room, called me over to the bassinet that our daughter was in and asked me if I’d ever changed a newborn’s diaper.  I said, “no.”  She changed Emily’s diaper and explained what she was doing as she went.  Then she turned to me, handed me a diaper for Nate, said “good luck!” and left.  While D was recovering from her C-section I proceeded to change 10 to 12 diapers per child, per day for the next 5 days – that’s between 100 and 120 diapers – and that was before we even took them home from the hospital.  Since that time I’m sure it easily totals into the thousands.

Ultimately, every guy has to be his own kind of father.  For me, this is what feels right.  In all honesty, it’s not completely for my kids that I do it.  It’s also for me – it was a long journey here and I don’t want to miss a thing.