The Other Side of Addiction

Let’s talk about addictions friends. Wait! Before you run away thinking this has nothing to do with you, I challenge you to follow this post to the end. First things first. We need to change our perception about what it means to be addicted. Of course, the first thing that comes to most of our minds is addiction to substances like alcohol and drugs etc., or other addictions may pop into your head like: gambling, pornography and food. I’m sure there are others that would arise should we brainstorm the subject, but this post is not about your traditional addictions.

If I asked you what every single one of the addictions had in common, what would you say? Perhaps you’d say that they have nothing in common because the addiction to alcohol is not at all similar to the addiction to food or gambling. If that is your supposition, I challenge you to open your mind and think a little harder. There is a connection between them. The connection is that they all provide a FEELING. A momentary feeling of euphoria. It’s this feeling that all is right within our own monkey mind that drives us to repeat the behavior. It makes us feel good.

This good feeling is fleeting though. Euphoria does not last for long, and that’s the reason why we keep repeating the same behaviors. Human beings, despite all their best intentions, despite knowing well and good that certain activities, if not moderated, will lead them to eventual destruction are still creatures of habit. Habit sounds like such a harmless word, and it can actually have positive connotations as well. What’s the problem with it you ask? That’s a fabulous question!

Habits like running, cycling, eating healthy 80% of the time and getting the proper amount of sleep are generally good for you obviously, though they can also become habitual and unhealthy. I digress though since this post is not about the obvious habits. Consider our interactions with others for a moment. Would you say that the manner in which we have relationships with others is a habit? We have a comfort zone in this area as well. The way we speak to people, communicate silently via body language and participate in our various relationships whether platonic or romantic are habitual. We stick with what we know and are comfortable with.

There’s the key friends! We stick with what we know and are comfortable with in the majority of our lives. Here’s the kicker though. Sometimes, what we know, are comfortable with and provides us with that euphoric feeling is actually toxic. Yes, I said it. Toxic. Playing a scratch-off ticket every now and again is not a problem, but spending hundreds of dollars you cannot truly afford to spend on lottery tickets would be a huge problem. Exercising to maintain healthy body proportions is healthy, however, exercising three hours a day every single day to become as thin as you possibly can is unhealthy.

We can become addicted to the feeling relationships provide as well believe it or not, even when some of those relationships create issues in our minds about our feeling of self-worth.

This is part of the reason why women (and some men as well) who are emotionally abused by their partners remain within the relationship. The feelings the relationship provide becomes an addiction. Perhaps this doesn’t make sense to you and you wouldn’t be alone in that confusion. I will attempt to clear up the fogginess.

People don’t desire to be in dysfunctional relationships where they are emotionally or physically mistreated. Who in their right mind would WANT to be treated poorly by someone? Generally, in the case of emotional maltreatment especially, the torment is not obvious and tends to get worse over time. This makes it even more dangerous to the psyche of the person living with it because they think that it’s all in their minds.

As with many other aspects of life, the treatment ebbs and flows often seeming like it’s a cycle or a circle. Let me assure you that it’s a vicious cycle like a rogue merry-go-round on repeat and going just fast enough that it doesn’t seem possible to get off the ride. When someone in our life fulfills a given need all humans have, as in the case of affection, but then only gives that affection when it suits their needs without a care to the needs of the other person, it is a toxic relationship.

The problem lies in the fact that we become addicted to the way we feel when they do give us the attention we so desire and need. Then, another emotion prevents us from walking away from this situation and that emotion is fear. There we are, stuck in the melee of emotions, raw with the need to give and receive attention/affection, partially fulfilled and yet so very empty because that euphoric feeling is fleeting. We wonder what is wrong with us and why we can’t just be happy with the little morsels provided that sustain us, even if just barely.

As with any addiction, my dear friends, the first step is identifying that there is a problem at hand. Unfortunately, that’s the easy part though. The steps you take after coming to the realization that a problem exists is where the real work begins. We have to reprogram our brains to BELIEVE that we are worth more than the little scraps provided. It is necessary to tell ourselves that we do not have to accept unhealthy relationships out of fear. There’s no rule, believe it or not, which states that one MUST be in a relationship in order to be worthy as a human being. In fact, aren’t we more worthy to ourselves if we do not settle for mediocre relationships? Do you accept mediocrity in any other aspect of your life? No? Why settle for it here either?

I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s an easy road because it’s not at all. Sometimes it may seem like it’s better to accept the little bits given than to receive none at all, but we have to dig deeper and find the little pieces of self-love that will sustain us until someone enters our life with the ability to love us fully and in our entirety.

Until next time friends…be brave

Peace

~TlT

 

 

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Do it Even if You’re Scared

It’s been a week now since walking the stage, so as I sit and enjoy my absolute favorite time of day with a freshly brewed cup of coffee I figure it’s time to finish this post. Yes?

There was no more time for stalling now with two coats of spray tan complete and a second makeup session to remedy the first. It was time to get into the suit, aka a very tiny pink bikini and get it glued into place. Yes, I said it. Glued!! There’s this product called Bikini Bite and it’s used to hold your body in its appropriate place inside the competition suit. One does not want a nip slip while posing on stage!! Oh and the product is aptly named Bikini BITE because when your suit moves off its intended location, it feels a bit like there is something biting you. With all the squats performed preparing for this show there was one particular area that continuously slipped and actually had to be glued twice!

Shauna kept me busy with listening to my music, pumping up the various muscle groups with a stretch band and eating various forms of carbs while waiting for my turn to line up. There were two groups I signed up to compete in: Women’s Physique Masters over 35 and the Open division. When it was time to line up I was first in line and found that there were supposed to be three of us competing in this group, but one of the other competitors was placed in the wrong division, so that left two. To be candid with you, when I looked at the other competitor, I thought to myself, “I got this”. To my untrained eyes, she just looked too soft for this particular division, but there was not a whole lot of time to worry about it.

It seemed to take forever, though it was only minutes that had gone by, when we were told to move up and given last minute instructions. I was first up on the stage and had 45 seconds to go through all the mandatory poses of which there are five. Up on stage I went, faking a big smile and attempting to make eye contact with the judges as is expected. As I begin, I’m thinking the following: bellybutton to spine, squeeze your muscles, SMILE, don’t shake, don’t forget to bend that leg…..and listening to the countdown. My legs began to shake and I ordered them to shut up and just move through the motions. Do not let them see you shake! As I was finishing I realized there was still too much time left and I missed something, but my silly brain could not recall what it was that I’d missed, so I faked it and went on my merry way.

side tricep

As I was stepping down off the stage, Shauna sped by talking as fast as she was walking and said something about missing one of the poses. Dang! I did miss one. That’s why there was extra time. Oh well. There was nothing to be done about it now. Now it was time to refocus and get back in line to compete in the open division.

left side tricep

As I saw those women line up around me, any idea that I would place in the top three of this group quickly diminished. These women were a force to be reckoned with for sure. Their quads and hamstrings were tight, their backs had lots of volume and their glutes were….well their glutes were beautiful. Per the norm for me, (I’ve rarely met a stranger) conversations were started and I learned that the other women had been competing for no less than three years. Compared to the eight MONTHS I’d been preparing, their longevity was a lifetime of preparation. None of them had children and they were all at least 8 years younger than me. We took our respective turns walking the stage and posing, they shuffled our order once we’d finished and I knew right then that I’d be in last place (4th).

There was nothing to do after this but wait since results are not provided until the evening show….I won’t hold you in suspense any longer. In the Over 35 category I earned FIRST place!!

solo first place

First place

My best freakin friend!

I placed fourth out of four in the Open as was expected. Surprisingly, I was not overly disheartened with the results. We knew going into this day that there was still a lot to be worked on, but I brought the best “package” I could with the work that had been put in during the previous months. Now, it’s time to readjust, tweak the strengths to make them stronger and really focus on the weaknesses. I’m happy with myself for accomplishing this fete of personal courage. We will not grow by remaining within our area of comfort.

Shauna and I

Shauna and I

Let me tell you, I was absolutely, completely uncomfortable during much of this process and even the day of the show. Walking around your home half dressed is one thing. Walking around several hundred complete strangers in a tiny bikini barely covering your assets is another matter altogether. I dare you to set a goal that you think is beyond your capability! Set that goal that terrifies you, make a plan to get there and then follow through. See what happens….if you dare. 🙂

Until next time friends!

Peace

~TlT

 

Stage Ready….or Not

Corpus strand

Hello friends and subscribers!!! Here we are inhabiting our life on another Wednesday in the month of July and I am almost fully recovered from the events of last week. You know what this means!! It’s time for me to tell you all about it. As you may remember, my post last week or so was about those blasted roadblocks in life that try to prevent us from reaching our goals. The title of this post could just as easily be Veni Vidi Vici, but since I’ve already used that one it didn’t seem prudent to use it again. (Smile!)

Let’s get to it shall we? Hmmm…Where to begin is the question since it all blends together like a yummy green smoothie. A quick recap of the few days prior to Saturday perhaps is the best way to give you a picture of this event. Beginning the Sunday prior, it was necessary to begin over-hydrating the body with two gallons of water for two days. Then on Tuesday and everyday thereafter the amount of water decreased while the number of calories I was consuming also decreased from the previous week by approximately 1/3 for the same period of time.

The calorie decrease didn’t feel horrible from Monday through Wednesday because whenever my belly growled its displeasure about being empty, I’d simply drink a bunch of water until it FELT full. The other hard part was maintaining my normal level of activity during this period of time. It was almost impossible! Almost. There were several naps taken simply to avoid the pain of being hungry!

I saw my trainer almost daily during this time since the goal was to squeeze out every bit of glycogen from the muscle fibers. This doesn’t sound bad does it? Hah! When a stretchy band that has somewhere around 2 lbs of resistance feels like it weighs ten pounds, and your muscles refuse to cooperate no matter how many times your brain tells them to contract is not a walk in the park let me assure you.

By last Friday we were down to 1/4 of a gallon of water and the 1200 calories required to keep a body moving. Let me tell you something, I thought chugging two gallons of water was HARD, but that was nothing compared to knowing I had to make 30 oz of water last me the day, while feeling like my stomach was eating my spine. The good news was, Friday was a travel day to the venue which was five hours from home. Not a whole lot of energy expenditure taking place whilst sitting in the passengers seat.

balcony view

The picture above is the view from the balcony of our home for the weekend! Beautiful! Upon arrival, it was decided we ought to get the blood flowing a bit after five hours in the truck, so we went for a walk. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt so needless to say, I was soaked in sweat by the time we finished since it was about 90* and humid in Corpus.

We went to the venue from there (after changing) for the athlete’s meeting and to get my first coating of spray tan. Nothing exciting here other than the fact that the spray tan was COLD, COLD, COLD and I felt like there was a sticky residue encasing me. The most exciting portion of my Friday was that I was able to eat a hamburger!! Oh my gosh!! I know, I know. It’s JUST a hamburger for goodness sakes, but let me tell you that if you, as a bread lover, go without eating bread for four or five months and then eat bread it tastes kinda like heaven when you do get to eat it!! Trust me.

The big day began early since Shauna is also training for her own show, so at 3:00 Saturday morning she was up and headed to the hotel gym for her sweatfest. I didn’t really need to be awake yet, but there was no going back to sleep. Some confusion began taking place because the makeup company had previously emailed me stating that they’d be located at the same hotel the athletes stayed at. However, when they texted the confirmation for my 4:45 a.m appointment, they were at a different hotel. Annoyance was a common feeling over the course of this day, and actually throughout the entire prep for the show. I didn’t let it bog me down though. Annoyed or not, things had to happen. We went to their hotel for my session and found that they were running 15 minutes behind, I was their last client and then they were moving to the venue.

We were both displeased with the job they did on my makeup. Thank goodness for the fact that Shauna is really quite the diva!! After makeup it was time to eat my waffle with real butter and IHOP syrup!! YUM! A second coating of spray tan….Brrrrrr and then it was time put my suit on and Shauna to fix the makeup job.

first makeup

Makeup job #1

Lipstick was a mess since I’d just eaten my waffle!

I have to tell you a secret. We’ve discussed the importance of having a reason, a raison d’etre, when we are aiming for a difficult goal. Knowing this and holding it in your mind will help you overcome the most difficult moments during your journey toward a given accomplishment. My “why” for completing this competition, come hell or high water, was simply to give myself more confidence. It sounds funny I know. You’re thinking to yourself, doesn’t one NEED confidence in order to walk across that stage, half dressed in a skimpy bikini in front of a few hundred strangers? The answer to that question is NO, not really. In order to walk across that stage you only have to fake the fact that you are confident. You have to pretend very well and tell yourself that you ARE good enough. You ARE beautiful. You ARE ready. You belong there.

I’ll leave you to chew on that a bit and guess what happened since I have to run. No worries though! As Arnold said, I’ll be back…. ha ha ha!

Until next time my friends!

Peace

~TlT

Roadblocks

There you are traveling along your chosen path to reach a particular destination. The research is complete. The plan was established and followed to the best of your human ability and intentions, and then all of a sudden BAM!! You run into a concrete barrier. Thank goodness you weren’t speeding! Phew! Major calamity was averted, though now there’s some damage control to implement and an adjustment must be made because the plan you had has been compromised by an unseen barrier.

Life is funny that way is it not? And by funny I really don’t mean that it makes you want to laugh. In fact, generally the opposite is true and rather than laugh at the irony of this life, it often makes us want to scream, cry and throw a three-year old’s version of a temper tantrum. No? Of course, the above scenario when driving would most likely result in some truly catastrophic results, however, roadblocks happen elsewhere as well.

These last eight months of preparation and planning have had their fair share of roadblocks. Illnesses cropped up, weather was a factor, schedules had to be adjusted and now for the coup de gras, the killing blow, a vital piece of the plan falls apart with little hope for recovery. What to do? We all have choices that we have to make, as we have talked about before, and sometimes these choices are cut and dry. Other times, however, choices are not so crystal clear because the outcome is beyond our limited view of our life. We can choose to wring our hands, cry out in defeat and give up. We can choose to play the blame game with all the shoulda, woulda, couldas…

There’s another option though that is probably more productive than either of the two stated above. That option is to pull oneself up by your proverbial bootstraps, access every ounce of energy you have remaining and re-work the plan. That concrete barrier you just crashed into is not going to move, so now you have to find a new way to achieve your goal. Generally speaking, alternative plans are not going to meet the expectations we had in our head of what this journey would look like. The question though is do you WANT to meet your objective more than you want it to meet a given set of preconceived notions of what it should look like when you do arrive at the destination?

Let me be specific now. As you may or may not know, I’ve been training for a Figure competition in the Women’s Physique division since late November of last year. There have been multiple roadblocks and things have not always gone to plan, as is apparently very normal in this chaotic life. I’ll save the story of the journey for another sleepless night though. Things have progressed and we arrived at two weeks prior to the competition date with my specially designed competition suit due to arrive on July 2 from Germany. That day came and went but my suit did not arrive.

Now, for those of you who actually KNOW me, you may have personal knowledge of the fact that the amount of patience I have is not what I am known for. Okay, so I took a deep breath and told myself that the Fourth of July holiday had messed up the delivery and surely it would arrive by Friday, July 6. No such luck. The seamstress is contacted by myself and my trainer as well since she’s known her for at least six years. The trainer tried to calm my anxiety by informing me that in six years of doing business with the seamstress, not a single suit has been lost or not received by the date of the competition.

Here we are friends, basically two days before I leave to drive five hour to the venue and three days prior to the event and………no suit has arrived. BAM!! There’s my roadblock. What can I do at this point? Every waking, and sometimes even sleeping hours, every ounce of spare energy, every penny I could eeek out of my budget has been spent on preparing for this one day. I’m not going to blow smoke here. The thought of throwing in the towel and calling it a loss and a learned lesson did cross my mind on more than one occasion. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on who you talk to, the idea of quitting is not one I am attuned to. I’ve done it and despise the emotional fallout.

What did I do instead? I used this thing we have called social media and put out a small SOS in the form of an @instagram post. Someone MUST know someone who knows someone who can help me come up with a solution. Waiting patiently and asking for help in any way, shape or form are not high on my list of favorites, however, when push comes to shove and the choice is to quit or ask for help – I will ask for help. Thankfully, I have some absolutely FABULOUS friends who are aware of all the struggles encountered, and as luck would have it – there’s a suit!!!

Roadblocks be damned!! I’m going to battle with my own expectations because it’s not the outcome I wanted as far as the suit is concerned, however, the ability to walk the stage is more important than a specially designed suit. Right? Choices have to be made and once again there will be sacrifices made in order to make all of this happen. We can wring our hands and give up, or we can fight with every bit of who we are and what we believe in to achieve our goals in spite of the setbacks.

Until next time my friends!

Peace

~TlT

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Taking the High Road

Taking the road less traveled is often a struggle unto itself. Not only because the path has not been blazed before you, but also because sometimes walking a different virtual path means biting your tongue and changing long-held behavior patterns. Most of us homo-sapiens are absolutely creatures of habit, and this applies to good habits and those that are not so great as well. Even the best of habits can become self destructive if we take them to the extreme, but these habits are not the ones I am speaking of today.

The topic today is about behaviors that are so ingrained in who we are that we may not even realize that they’re self-destructive in nature. Behaviors such as allowing other people to treat us a certain way, eating foods we know are no good for us despite how yummy they taste, and negative self-talk are three that come to mind for me without much effort. If you look on many of our social media sites there are memes about the fact that we accept the love we think we deserve. It’s not only romantic love that this applies to. It applies to any relationship where we permit someone to treat us in a manner that makes us feel badly about ourselves in some way.

Unfortunately, the actions of others are not always overt or intentionally harmful to us, rather they are behavior patterns of that person that tend to sneak up on us and make us wonder if we truly have lost our minds. Do you have a friend that only seems to call you when they need to vent? Do you have someone in your circle who makes little, perhaps underhanded, comments about the way you dress, your weight or (for my lady friends) the way you wear your makeup? How about this. Maybe you have a friend who is never available for you, but there’s an underlying expectation that you should be available for them? Guess what? These are toxic behaviors!

If you notice these things, you have a few choices of course. You can accept it for what it is, you can discuss the behavior that bothers you with your friend, or at the extreme end of the spectrum, for the sake of your sanity, you stop associating with that person as much as you used to. You take the high road and leave them to their own devices and patterns of behavior. Don’t mistake what I’m saying about taking the high road as thinking you are somehow better than that person. That’s not the case at all. What I am saying is that we have to take ownership of our own behaviors and reactions to the behaviors of others in our lives. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

It makes sense that we’d feel some kind of way about being treated badly, even if accidentally. Relationships are funny animals aren’t they? We have to be willing to compromise and bend, able to see how our behaviors affect those around us, and of course, in order to make it better we may need to communicate our ideas and beliefs to others in a productive manner.  If you find yourself compromising your belief system repeatedly and coming out the other end of it feeling like you are somehow LESS than or not enough then my friend, it’s truly time to take a walk.

We cannot change others and therefore we have to move out of their space in order to allow them the space they need to grow, perhaps without us. Honestly, this is a difficult thing for me. Although a bit of an introvert (shhhhhh don’t tell anyone!) I do love socializing with my small circle of friends. As a magnet for all that is broken and lost, I also have a tendency to want to fix everyone and everything. This is a huge problem! We can love people for who and where they are in their lives, but it is not our responsibility to make them better somehow. Maybe they like where and who they are!

Recently, I told a friend that their pattern of behavior left me feeling unwanted despite their repeated attempts with words to make me feel otherwise. It’s my problem to be sure! Unfortunately, they continue to make excuses and hold to their own belief systems and comfortable patterns of behavior as a creature of habit. Sadly, this means that I have to exclude them from my inner circle as much as it breaks my heart to do so. I chose to take the high road. It’s difficult for me to say the least because I wish to be in their presence, but I won’t do it at the expense of my own self-image.

Take the road less traveled and make your own map!

Until next time my friends!

Peace

~TlT