Celebrating Strong Women: Five Minutes to Happiness

unnamed-1This week’s strong woman is Valerie Brown, a friend who lives out generosity and compassion. Valerie has been a Colorado Native since 1982.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and has a career with helping people with tax issues.  In addition, she also helps people through her public speaking for weight loss and weight management.  

She is a dedicated mother of one son, a wife for nearly 20 years, a daughter and a friend.  Her hobbies include hiking, volunteer speaking, reading and spending time with her friends and family.  She’s a full time working woman always trying to seek that balance between her personal life, her work life and herself.  

Five Minutes to Happiness

Over the course of a year and a half I have lost 135 pounds.  The first question everyone asks me is, “What’s your secret?” They look at me with wide, anticipating eyes waiting for me to deliver the most poetic, beautiful and miraculous piece of wisdom they have ever heard.  They think there HAS to be some secret to weight loss they have overlooked somehow.  I can almost hear the game show failure buzzer (whah whah) going off in their head when I tell them the age old answer…diet and exercise.

Diet and exercise — that is how one loses 135 pounds.  But why did my diet and exercise suddenly work?  I have to admit, this attempt at diet and exercise was probably attempt 147.  Prior to this attempt I was one of those people always looking for the miracle answer myself.  146 attempts later I finally figured something out…in order to be successful at diet and exercise you have to stop beating yourself up and take it in small steps and put some new habits into place.  

First came the diet.  Of course I wanted to eat those delicious yummy foods that had given me such pleasure in my 39 years of life.  How could I break this habit of not turning to food in my time of sorrow, boredom, happiness, or needing a reward?  I decided to break it up into small time increments.  I told myself, I’m going to stick to my diet today.  If temptation arises, I will give myself 5 minutes to decide if I REALLY want that doughnut, cheeseburger, pizza, etc.  After 5 minutes if I still want it, I’ll eat it.  No guilt, no punishment, I’ll eat it; I’ll log it in my food journal and move on.  What I started to discover is that after 5 minutes of distraction…I forgot about my craving.  So the first days of diet 147 had days filled with at least 20 five minute food challenges.  Gradually over time and as the weight started coming off, my five minutes challenges decreased.  I found I didn’t need the 5 minute challenge.  This new diet slowly started to became a habit.  

Second is the exercise.  Same concept.  In the beginning I would tell myself…get your rear end on that treadmill for 5 minutes.  No matter how much I weighed or was out of shape I figured I could at least walk for 5 minutes.  At the end of my 5 minutes if I felt my workout was complete, I gave myself permission to stop and be done.   Oh my, I was horribly out of shape.  There were actually days that 5 minutes WAS all I could do.  But somehow or another, 5 minutes turned into 10 turned into 20 and so on and then I didn’t have to challenge myself at all to exercise.  It became habit.

Annie’s husband Frank gave me a book about habits and how that is pretty much the key concept to success on many different levels.  I wholeheartedly believe this to be true.  No matter what you are attempting to conquer or overcome, you probably have to put some new habits in place.  Give yourself permission to fail as long as you tell yourself you will give them another try.  So maybe I failed my five minute test at lunch and ate that piece of pizza in the break room…it’s okay, I’m going to attempt this again at dinner with whatever temptation arises.   It won’t be long before many failures turn into success just because of the repetitive motion of performing the act itself.  It will become habit and soon you won’t even be thinking about it. 

I’m sure this is a broad oversimplification of a very complex theory.  But I urge you to give it a try the next time you are faced with a difficult situation of any sort.  Give yourself five minutes to try something different.  My hopes are that after a while you will start to see a new habit starting to form and won’t need the miracle, poetic, beautiful answer to your problem.  You had it in you all along!

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2 thoughts on “Celebrating Strong Women: Five Minutes to Happiness

  1. Valerie, thanks for the idea of taking 5min before choosing to indulge, whether it be food or an emotional reaction. I also like the reminder of giving yourself grace when you give in to a temptation.

  2. Great post. I am on day three of eating healthier and making better choices. It sure doesn’t take long to gain weight but it takes forever to lose some. But, habits over the long haul will make a difference as evidenced by what it did for you! Way to go, Valerie!!! Thank you.

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