How Making a Positivity Jar Can Help You

Many of us can find it hard to stay positive, especially when life keeps throwing lemons at us. I am not naturally a positive person myself. In fact, when I had just graduated from high school, a friend gently informed me that I complained too much. Still, it hit me hard and that’s when I began to make a transformation. It has been slow going and it isn’t all continuous. I make progress here and there but it adds up in big ways. The lesson I learned then has stuck with me.

When I began my weight loss journey this time, one of my focuses was to be more positive. I’m not even sure how or why this got driven home so well, but I’m glad it was! I’m thinking it was a combination of reading motivational articles and receiving consistent positive support and encouragement from my friends on SparkPeople. Part of it had to be a natural gravitation on a personal level as well though, because I know it wouldn’t have had this much of an impact if not.

Either way, I still may not be the most positive person but I learn more and more each day on how to be more positive. One thing I have learned is that the more positive I am in general, the happier I am and the better my life is. I can see so much more beauty in the world each day than I ever could have before!

Here are some questions to ask yourself in the moment:

  1. What can I learn from this negative experience?
  2. Is there any way that I (or someone else) benefits from this?
  3. Can I spin this problem/experience around and squeeze any amount of good out of it?

There is always something positive to be found in each day and there is also something good in every bad. Sometimes we just have to dig deep or look hard for it!

How you can stay positive each day:

  • Embrace the good times. Whenever you are happy or enjoying life, take the time to be grateful for it! It helps train your brain to focus on those happier moments. Those little things you might otherwise not give a second thought to, are some of the best ones to focus on.
  • Never stop looking for the positive. Even in moments where you might not otherwise take the time to really see your surroundings, simply be observant. Notice all the positivity going on in your life.
  • Appreciate the beauty around you. Whether you are in a car, bus, on a bike, or walking… or even playing the waiting game for whatever reason; look around you and appreciate the beauty in the little things.
  • Repeat positive affirmations to yourself. Tell yourself nice things: “I am beautiful” or “I am worthy.” My favorites are “I am strong and I am capable.” The more kind things you say to yourself each day, the more the world opens up to you!
  • Do nice things for other people. When you are nice to other people, even doing something as small as smiling at someone passing you by, it can lift your spirits and remind you that there is so much good in the world!

You may be wondering by now, what is all this about a “Positivity Jar” mentioned in the title. Well, I have been seeing this idea all over the place but on Facebook mainly, about a New Year’s memory jar. You write down good memories and put them in a jar to look back on at the end of the year.

My spin on this is to put anything positive in there, not just memories necessarily. You can write anything good that happened each day on a piece of paper, fold or roll it up, and drop it inside. Then you can take them out and read them throughout the year, whenever you’re having a hard time or needing inspiration, as well as at the end of the year. This encourages you to focus on all the good happening in your life instead of letting your life pass you by. Then you get to remember even the “little” things that happened throughout the year when you read them again.

Some ideas for jars:

  • Positivity Jar: To put positive happenings in each day.
  • Positive Affirmations/Positive Thoughts Jars: Fill the jar right away with positive affirmations, or positive thoughts, that you can pull out whenever you need a boost!
  • Gratitude/Thankfulness Jar or Blessings Jar: These you can write down things you are thankful for or consider a blessing and drop them in over the course of the year.
  • Smile or Happiness Jar: Whatever makes you smile or feel happy each day or whenever the feeling grips you!
  • Inspiration Jar: This one kind of works similar to the positive affirmations/thoughts jars. You can fill a jar with things that inspire you and then read them as needed to spark your inspiration. You can also add inspiration ideas as you go along as well!

What you can write down to put in the jars:

  • Weight loss or fitness related achievements
  • Goals of any kind, progress or achievement
  • Career happenings
  • Finance progress you’re working towards
  • Life in general

Really, anything goes for what you want to write to go into your jar each day. You can make the jar however you want. I personally used the coffee cans you see in the above picture. Then I put labels on them and wrote what I wanted it to say. Your ideas for your jar might change over time. Also, don’t be afraid to make two jars. It can be double the fun and double the dose of positivity.

In the short amount of time that I have been using my jars, I have noticed great results. They are a fun way to focus on the positivity in my life and end the day on a good note. Not only that, but they are also very easy to make and use. Now, who doesn’t love easy things that actually work?

Here are some blog posts by some women who are doing similar jars themselves:

Michelle from Dishes and Dust Bunnies has a “DIY Dollar Store Memories Jar” with a free printable for the jar! This post is from 2015 but she has made an update in there for a 2016 printable. Check it out here: Memories Jar.

Heather from Mommypotamus discusses making her own as well. You can check it out here: Gratitude/Happiness Jar.

And finally, Vicky Barone has a post from this year for making a “Happy Things Memory Jar 2016” and also has a free printable for it as well. Check hers out here: Happy Things Memory Jar.

You can also search Pinterest for even more ideas or just visual inspiration for your jar! Remember you can use anything. There is probably what you need in your house right now. Either way, take the idea and run with it if you want!

 

~Bonnie~

The Secret of Success: Celebrate Your Victories

Back in my Celebrate Your Victories blog post a few weeks ago, I made a point that we should really take the time to celebrate all of our victories whether they are big or small. If you are trying to lose weight, you may think “Well, I’ll reward myself when I lose X pounds.” Yeah, do that! However, you should also celebrate the non-weight related goals… and maybe put even more emphasis on these!

Did you eat 5 fruits and vegetables today? Celebrate that! It’s a huge accomplishment and takes amazing willpower. I for one don’t accomplish that as often as I would like to so I admire anyone who does it even for one day!

Did you make it through a hard workout without quitting? Workouts are hard, period. An intense one is even tougher to make it through because there may be multiple moments where you would absolutely love to quit! If you pushed through a hard workout without quitting, give yourself a big pat on the back!

Have you eaten within your calorie range for the first time, or have you eaten within your calorie range for a certain amount of days in a row? This is another feat! Go crazy, do a little dance for your accomplishment!

Are you starting a new exercise routine? Starting a new exercise routine is sometimes a hard thing to get motivated for, it’s new and it’s scary. Reward yourself for motivating yourself to start a new one and change things up!

Have you tried a new healthy food recently? Another new and scary experience is trying a new healthy food. What if you don’t like it? You’re spending money on something you don’t even know if you like. But how will you know if you don’t take a risk? Whether you end up liking this new food or not, give yourself a figurative high-five for putting your taste buds out there!

Did you push through and do your workout even if you weren’t “feeling it?” Good for you. Celebrate! Your a rockstar for pushing through and just doing it!

Did you push harder during a workout you’ve been doing for a while and just cruising along with? Another good reason to celebrate because that is not easy, to raise yourself up a level and give your workout your all!

One day you notice you feel stronger and healthier… Woohoo! Yeah, that is a great result! Celebrate it and tell the world or have a mini party! Those are the kinds of results you are working so hard to achieve.

Really, the list of non-weight related accomplishments are endless. You decide what you feel is a victory in your journey. It’s you who is living it and you who you need to keep motivated!


Your next question might be… How should I celebrate?

Here are a few ways that I have used or seen others use:

  • Let loose and just dance! Turn Some upbeat music on and dance your heart away.
  • Get your hair or nails done, pamper yourself!
  • Window shop for a bigger goal reward.
  • Spend some extra time alone or putting yourself first, and don’t let yourself feel guilty about it.
  • Buy something you have been eyeing for a while.
  • Watch your favorite TV show and just relax.
  • Go check a book out from the library that you’ve been meaning to read, and make time to read it. You deserve it!
  • Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. This is so good for the soul!
  • Go for a drive with some new scenery if possible.
  • Dress up and go out, even if it’s not somewhere fancy.

Again, the list for rewards and ways to celebrate is endless. What do you like to do that you rarely make time for? Make time for it now to reward yourself or simply celebrate a job well done. You deserve to pamper yourself in some way, big or small, for your hard work.

What are some of your recent non-weight related accomplishments? And what do you like to do to celebrate those accomplishments?

What Causes us to be Overweight?

I wholeheartedly believe that media and society’s pressure on us are a big part of why so many people are overweight, but obviously that’s not the whole reason and I’m not going to address that here. Neither am I going to address the scientific causes either.

What I want to address is the deep reasons, the ones that stick with us no matter where we go, no matter what we do. They’re always there at the back of our mind… Emotions! We all know these pesky feelings we experience can drive us to food for comfort, or lead us to eating more than we should. The good news is there is a way to make progress in not allowing them to control us. I’m not a psychologist, but read on to find out what I have found to work for me.

stressed out

  • Stress: This is a big one! We deal with so much in our daily lives that we feel stressed and overwhelmed.
  • Sadness: We all feel it to some degree, on a regular basis.
  • Loneliness: Even those of us who don’t want a lot of face-to-face human interaction crave some level of companionship!
  • Hopelessness: Sometimes we feel that no matter what we do, we can’t do anything right or make any progress.
  • Anger: I know I’ve sometimes felt so angry, that once that anger dissipated, I felt so hungry I could eat the whole house.
  • Guilt: Feeling guilty can lead us to food or drink to drown that guilt.
  • Fear: We can sometimes find food soothing when we’re afraid as well.

Sometimes we feel so taken over by these feelings that we want to do anything to escape them… including turning to food in a misguided attempt to release ourselves from the feeling. We might feel reprieve but it is always temporary. Food does not solve our problems. Food cannot make us feel better long-term. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and an even harder lesson to follow through with by changing our self-soothing methods.

WHY

Here I would like to share with you why I am overweight, or at least part of the reason why since there are almost always multiple layers. The story goes like this… at age five, my mom and father got a divorce. Apparently I was pretty attached to him, although I don’t really remember him too much beyond a memory here and there. I was always on the smaller side before that but shortly after we left him and moved a few states away, I started gaining weight. I spent the rest of my childhood pleasantly “chubby.” Once I hit the puberty years, probably around age eleven and after yet another move, I started gaining more weight and faster. By the time I was twelve I weighed in at 180 pounds.

I didn’t think much of my weight beyond the fact that I was bigger than most of my peers… that is until I entered junior high. There I began to be a bit self-conscious of my weight and looks in general. The summer between junior high and high school, my stepdad had a stroke which caused all kinds of upheaval in our lives. We had to move and adjust, individually and as a family. That coupled with the drastic change of schooling, and I gained more weight. I ended up switching to a home school program with a friend when she brought it up, and that was the best decision for me. About a year and a half after his stroke, my mom lost 90% of her hearing and for a while couldn’t get any hearing aids. As anyone could imagine, this was another adjustment and tough on all of us.

At sixteen, when my mom and I joined a gym, I weighed 270 pounds. We went for a year and I lost 35 pounds without changing my diet. I found my love of exercise at that gym. Then we moved further away from that gym and I could no longer go when the year contract was over. I walked a lot after that but slowly gained the weight back as well as a little extra. A few years after that I started a weight loss journey all on my own at 289. That time I lost 76 pounds. This journey ended within eight months due to being in the hospital and having surgery to remove my gallbladder, then losing my first apartment and moving across the country. Once again, I gained all the weight back and then some.

Add in a few half-hearted attempts to lose weight in between… and a lot of stress here and there, as is the way with life, and by the time I started my current (and final!) weight loss journey, I was tipping the scales at 309 pounds. I didn’t start out thinking I wanted to lose 100+ pounds, but after I saw the weight on the scales and started learning about myself and weight loss even more than I already knew, I was in it for the long-haul. Here I am 16 months later, 120 pounds lighter than when I began and at a weight I haven’t seen since the beginning of my teens, and I still have mental and emotional issues I’m chipping away at on a regular basis. I know it will be a continuous process for me, and I might always desire to turn to food for comfort from these emotions, but I will not give in or give up.

Me before I started to now! A work in progress but have come so far already!
Me before I started to now! A work in progress but have come so far already!

You can do it for yourself too! Don’t let those emotions stand in your way. I know it’s easier said than done, but there is a way to retrain your brain to find other things to comfort you. Some of the ways I do this for myself: take a walk, call my sister and vent to her or talk things through, get a workout in, listen to my favorite or upbeat music, watch funny/entertaining shows, read some good books, or write it out. There are so many other ways as well! Find a way that makes you feel good, but that also helps you overcome those bad feelings. Work through them, don’t shy away from them. Sometimes we need a breather though and taking a break to give your mind a chance to neutralize can help tremendously in allowing you to think more clearly and find a solution.

~Bonnie~

Sharing Sunday- My First Race Experience

Beautiful trees on the trail.
Beautiful trees on the trail.

In preparation for the half marathon I’m registered for in May 2016, I wanted to do a 5K race in August and a 10K race in November. So first I signed up for a 5K race near me happening on August 15th. Originally I had signed up for the run, but as the race rapidly grew closer, the minor foot issue I had going on wasn’t healing like I thought it would. This meant that I had to switch over to the 2 mile walk at the race event instead.

Understandably, I was horribly disappointed. In fact, for the few days leading up to the race I almost decided to just forget it altogether. It had been a rough and busy week for me and I was so tired, which in turn made it easier to feel down about not being able to actually run the 5K.

However, the side of me that desperately wanted to see what a race was all about eventually won out and I went! I’m super thankful that my realistic side convinced me to go! Upon arriving, first I checked in at the registration table and collected my race gear: a race bib with my number on it, a shirt with the race name on it, and my race packet with some goodies in it. I was so proud of the tee shirt that I put it on over the tee shirt I wore there right away. Then one of the registration ladies helped me pin the bib to it.

Me all ready to walk!
Me all ready to walk!

There I was, all set to go and full of excitement and nerves! Once it was time, I started out slow. I was warming up and also a bit cautious, unsure how races played out. They had told us that there would be volunteers directing us along the way so I looked out for them. Soon I was in the zone and fully enjoying the experience. I never walk fast but amazingly, even walking on a trail which I was nowhere used to, I managed to keep a good pace of 19 minutes per mile for the 1.75 mile walk. That is my fastest walking pace and I was ecstatic to have done that after not walking outside much in the previous two months.

Tranquil stream flowing under a bridge on the trail, so pretty I had to take a picture!
Tranquil stream flowing under a bridge on the trail, so pretty I had to take a picture!

My first race experience was a far cry from what I thought and always imagined it would be, but it was very pleasant and enjoyable. It really left a positive imprint on my mind and I can’t wait for more in my future. I’m hoping next year I will be able to do the actual 5K run for this race. The possibilities truly are endless. All you have to do is dream, plan, and believe in yourself! Have you ever thought about signing up for a walk or a run? Go for it! Enjoy every step of training and completing it. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it certainly is rewarding!

~Bonnie~