The Five Levels of Why

This showed up in a facebook feed. Obviously, the caption is only partially correct. Genetics (and luck, good or bad) can also play a significant role in how our futures unfold.


This was my homework from PN today. Ask a “why” question and then dig down deep. Ask “why?” four more times until you get to the root reason, the one that is in line with your values.

Level 1: Why are you doing PN Coaching?

Because I want help to change my life to be one that supports a healthy and permanent 100 pound weight loss.

Level 2: Why is that reason for doing PN Coaching important to you?

  1. There are so many changes that need to happen in order to make that weight loss goal a reality that I need help figuring out which ones are those core fundamental changes: whether in my thoughts and beliefs or my habits and behaviours. I also want support for making those changes.
  2. I want to lose 100 pounds because it will be easier to move and, I imagine, I will have less pain. (Though obviously there’s no guarantee. I have a great-aunt, as thin as a rail who suffers from arthritis. My grandmother, also trim and active all her life suffered from debilitating osteoporosis in her spine. Ironically, my own mother, who battled her weight all her life became thin just as her COPD worsened. Her teeth, stomach and legs also now cause tremendous problems.)

Level 3: And why is that important?

  1. It’s important to be efficient with my efforts to change, i.e., making sure I make those essential and important changes because I don’t have forever. I am getting old. It’s important for me to have a coach because a coach 1) believes I can change, 2) believes it is important for me to change 3) keeps me on track with making those changes. She will believe the effort is worthwhile even when I don’t.
  2. Why is it important to have less pain? Well obviously, it makes life more enjoyable. But as I’ve mentioned before, my independence could be at stake here.

Level 4: And what kind of difference will that make?

  1. Having this kind of support can be the difference between success and failure for me.
  2. My independence and personal freedom to live my life as I see fit is of paramount importance to me.

Level 5: And why does that matter?

And so here we are: success matters because a body one hundred pounds slimmer will allow me to continue to be the fiercely independent person I really am.



Physical Fitness Goals

In the end, what we want, what we all want is to

be healthy, pain-free and physically capable.

Love that. Here is what that looks like for me.


I want to be able to get down and then back up off the floor without support. I can just sort of do it, by getting into a lunge position, but it is tough. As well, I recently re-twisted my ankle getting up off the floor. I must be more capable of daily movement than that!

Climbing the stairs is also a challenge requiring both hands to support me. I want to head to bed carrying up my book and a water with ease.

Work involves a great deal of walking in steel toed books (inflexible soles) on a concrete floor. After four hours I am usually limping and exhausted. I want to be able to go to work for an eight hour shift and then come home and do a work out. I  need to improve my stamina significantly.

I need to improve my strength. After ten weeks in yoga this fall, I had to quit. I hated doing that. But once the class picked up pace from “beginner” to “normal,” I just could not keep up–especially with all the rearranging of the props I need to do to be supported with each move. I began to injure myself every class, so I stopped. But I’d like to be able to go back in six months or so.

The pain in my hips is sending back echoes. I am beginning to feel it again, ever so slightly. Fortunately, it’s not interfering with my sleep like it did last summer. Even though a doctor diagnosed arthritis, I think it was because after being at my job for hours, I would come home and sit at the computer for hours and hours and not move. At all. Once I started moving more (and losing a bit of weight) the pain subsided.


I feel old. I don’t want to live in fear of injury and pain. (I don’t yet, but If this keeps up, I will.) I’d like to ride a bike to work. (about 5 miles.) I’d like to be able to go on hikes and climb mountains. (We live five hours from Jasper National Park.) I don’t want to go to a nursing home, but live in my own home right up to the last second.

I love my home…I hate institutions. I love living by myself..or with my immediate family…I haven’t lived with other people since second year undergrad. The very idea of having to choose to live in a place based on criteria that doesn’t include aesthetics fills me with horror. That’s not hyperbole. My great grandmother lived to 102. She stayed in her own home (with someone who came in to help her every day) until the last six months of her life. I want that, too, without the last six months bit.

The PN Coaching year-long class began today. My first action was to find and make an appointment with a family doctor.

Whys and Whatnots, Part 2b

I think this blogger could teach me how to ride a bike!

The first Introductory workshop at Precision Nutitrition poses four questions for me to answer. They are:

  1. What is it I really want to achieve in going through P.N. Coaching? Answer here.
  2. Why haven’t you achieved your goals already? What’s blocking you? First Attempt at an answer here.
  3. What awesome things might happen to you if you did make progress?
  4. What specific things will show you you’re on track?


I want to take another quick stab at answering the second question. It has been bothering me a lot.

I still think the crux of the answer is, as Tony Robbins tells it, wrapped up in my self-identity. But that’s still a pretty big suitcase to unpack.

Lately, I came across this article by Nerd Fitness which was also thought provoking.

So, let’s start with the basics: the “these are just excuses and I know it but I still say them to myself” bullsh*t: But until I drag out these thoughts into the light of day, I can’t deal with them. So, here we are.

There are many activities I enjoy, but I don’t do them for one reason or another.

cycling–no bicycle, and man, does that seat hurt! I promise myself I will get a nice bike with a good seat when I am under 200 pounds. Then, I can bike to work.

swimming and water aerobics–I don’t have a bathing suit that fits, don’t want to spend money on a suit anyway, don’t have time to attend classes, don’t have the money.

any class at a fitness facility–I don’t have the money (even though my work place will cover off 20% of any pass I purchase at a city facility).

walking–it’s too cold. It’s too hot. It’s boring.

hiking–I’d have to drive to a good trail…and what’s the point of that? Besides, I don’t have time.

skiing (downhill) I’m too old!

skiing (cross country) I don’t have equipment, I am not fit enough.

Aerobics in the living room with a video. My husband, or son, or daughter are in there and I don’t want to disturb them. I’m getting bored with the same old, same old. My ankle hurts.

Body weight exercises– I am a wimp! And, see “other people live here, too” excuse, above.

Yoga–I want to be stronger and more fit before I start up again. It hurt so much. And it is expensive.

“Deeper” reasons/thoughts which keep me stuck:

I am a wuss. I don’t like pain. I don’t like exerting effort.

Nobody cares. This is a good thing, really. It means my family loves me just as I am and respects my autonomy. But it also means there’s nobody’s love or pride to earn (and as a child of divorce, that motivates me) except my  own…and that doesn’t count. (This is also one of the reasons I think coaching will be helpful to me as I will want to “please the coach.” Wanting to please the teacher got me a long, long way through school!)

My job is so physically demanding it wipes me right out. Ironically, this could be re-written as a reason to get into shape, like so: My job is so physically demanding I need to be physically fit to cope with it.

I can go like gangbusters for a while: and then the bottom falls out. I get bored, I lose touch with the pain and discomfort that motivated me and I begin to slack off. First the exercise goes–and then that “eat like a horse” switch flips and in no time I am eating out of control and gaining weight rapidly. I actually want to go through this phase–or get to the cusp of the switch flipping so I can work through this terrifying force of nature with my coach.

I am scared of change, generally. I am scared of this change specifically because I don’t know what is going to happen with my relationships with my family and my husband.

I am impatient, as any reader of any of my blogs knows. I lack resilience. I give up when the going gets tough–or even slows down! I need constant feedback things are going in the right direction.

I use food to handle my emotions. In fact, right now, there’s a tremendous urge to get up and make a pan of brownies and just eat them all by myself. Right now.

I can’t figure out when to exercise. I live with other people. The best time  –for them– is in the morning, I suppose. The best time –for work– is before I go. (It is 100% guaranteed I’m always too tired afterwards, even when it is just a short shift.) The best time –for me–is–and always has been– about 3 to 4 pm. Just before supper. I have lots of energy–and lot of adrenaline built up from the day I just love to work off.

So, in short, I have a few challenges in picking out what activities to do, I am unsure how to make exercise a habit, I have some mental health issues, inadequate skills for coping with uncomfortable emotions, lack of support and a demanding job.

But. as the nerd fitness article made clear, those are all issues someone has faced…and overcome.


Things I’ve Learned Eating Mindfully:



Get your copy here from Summer Tomato.


and some of my beliefs about food…..

  1. I refuse to call out any food as good or bad.
  2. I refuse to feel shame for any food I eat.
  3. I love food.
  4. I especially love food that is calorie dense.(Fat + sugar….yum!)
  5. But I don’t like store bought cake…even expensive cake. The texture is too light…it’s like eating air.
  6. I  love food with complex flavours and textures.
  7. I like soft, dense food like oatmeal more than soft, thin foods like applesauce.
  8. Squash, sweet potato and yams are really sweet. So is curry.
  9. Biggest surprise of all? I like a touch of heat.
  10.  I eat too much at meals.
    1.  I am afraid too much time will pass before I will be able to have my next meal and I will be hungry
    2. I like to feel full. But, since I’ve been doing the Mindful Eating exercises, I’ve noticed I am often over-full. Uncomfortably full.
  11. I eat because it is time to eat.
  12. I hate feeling hungry. I hate waiting to feel hungry. But actually,  feeling twinges of hunger aren’t all THAT bad—I dislike it all out of proportion to the actual experience. I don’t know what’s up with that.


My First Mindful Meal


Darya Rose of Summer Tomato is running a free five day course on mindful eating. There’s only one rule: concentrate on what you are eating and nothing else.

Sounds simple.

Of course it isn’t.

I had breakfast about an hour after I woke up. Veggies sauteed in coconut oil,  two eggs with a sprinkle of cheese. On the side, I had 1/2 a toasted, buttered bagel and hot coffee.

It took me 17 minutes. As I was sitting down, my son decided to take out the garbage (yay!) and make himself a hot chocolate (boo). That was a lot of banging around. I got madder and madder as I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on taste and texture. My mind kept wandering to “I can’t even get a quiet meal by myself.” and “This is watery and blah.” and “It must be the mushrooms and zucchini” and “Oh my god, it’s like there’s an elephant here in the kitchen with me.” I even broke my rule of silence to yell, “Ben, you’re kettle’s ready.” Which I hate doing even when I am not involved in trying a mindful meditation.

I decided to get some salsa, my son made his hot chocolate and cleared out and everything became much more enjoyable. But I also thought about how mindlessness has probably served us very well throughout our evolution. I am reading Alfred Lansing’s Endurance, Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, where the men sleep on slushy ice floes and try to gut the seals they kill while they’re still warm so their hands don’t get frostbitten.

If we hadn’t ignored the rather unpleasant aspects of our existence, –and most of our existence has been very unpleasant, historically speaking, I doubt we would have survived.

But my heavens, it is now about 40 minutes after I’ve had that meal. The satiety signals have had more than enough time to signal my brain.

And I am satisfied and full. Quite full, actually. Almost uncomfortably full.

Whys and Whatnots, Part 2.


This is the photo I took of myself January 1, 2017 right after my workout. I cannot believe how big I am. I also can’t believe how filthy that mirror is, sorry.

This post is part of a little series where I am attempting to answer four questions put to me as I begin my participation in Precision Nutrition’s Coaching program for women.

The questions are:

  1. What is it you really want to achieve in going through P.N. Coaching? Answer here.
  2. Why haven’t you achieved your goals already? What’s blocking you?
  3. What awesome things might happen to you if you did make progress?
  4. What specific things will show you you’re on track?


So, on to the second question:

  1. Why haven’t you achieved your goals already? What’s blocking you?

In the Tony Robbins video I linked to last post, he makes the point that the body I have today is an exact reflection of my standards, or, to put it another way: my body reflects who I think I am.

That’s sort of true.

When I quit smoking the last time, for good, I wasn’t merely a person who didn’t smoke anymore. No, a switch flipped and I was suddenly a non-smoker. That was it. Oh, I had cravings….but I felt like they were just the symptoms of detoxing from the poisons I had been addicted to …they weren’t even framed in my head as a “craving for a cigarette.” I hated the idea I was dependent on something that was ruining my teeth and my health.

The weight switch has not yet flipped for me. In fact, my weight is a very hard thing for me to deal with, mentally speaking. I do not see myself as large as I am. When I see myself in pictures, or I catch my reflection, it is very hard for me to accept that that person is me. In my head, I am still the aerobics instructor I was in my late twenties…as odd as that seems. I am still that person who thought her next big physical challenge would be rock climbing.

So, perhaps not accepting my current reality is keeping me stuck here. It’s like I know there are all these things I’m supposed to do like eat lots of veggies and exercise and bloody hell, put that piece of chocolate down!– but I don’t feel any tremendous urgency or compulsion to do them.

As Tony said, the body you have today is the perfect consequence of all the habits and rituals you do, day in, day out. In fact, in that video, he challenges you to write down all the rituals that have shaped your current condition. I should do that.

He also said “who you spend time with is who you become” which shook me to my core.

I’d like to know a few women my age who are active. I wonder where they hang out?





My Pal Tony

I love Tony Robbins. I have never been to one of his events, but a book of his passed through my hands in my early twenties and it helped me change my life. And I didn’t even read the whole book!

Have you seen the documentary about him on Netflix? It was wonderful. I am so glad the director/producer/film maker did not present a cynical point of view: but simply gave us glimpses of what happens.

I went to motivational forums and seminars back in the day: I remember the feelings of epiphany and “breakthrough” and transformation that never lasted. And as I watched Tony in the documentary, I compared and contrasted his event with those I’d been a part of. Maybe had I attended one of his events, those epiphanies and break throughs would have lasted…but maybe not.  I wasn’t very teachable back then.

But if you do want a teacher: Tony is absolutely one of the best.

I found this video on You Tube about New Year’s Resolutions and thought I’d pass it along, just in case, you’re, you know, teachable.

(Drat, I did not know that my free wordpress blog will not allow me to upload video!)

So here is the link:

Happy (belated) New Year!


Whys and Whatnots

In my last post, I mentioned I was going to pay Precision Nutrition a lot of money to coach me through 2017 to lose weight. I had the opportunity to do that yesterday–and I took it. With gusto.

And I’ve an assignment already. I need to answer four questions. They are excellent questions.

  1. What is it I really want to achieve in going through P.N. Coaching?
  2. Why haven’t you achieved your goals already? What’s blocking you?
  3. What awesome things might happen to you if you did make progress?
  4. What specific things will show you you’re on track?


Here is the first one.

  1. What is it I really want to achieve in going through P.N. Coaching?

I need to tell a story. A long time ago, I dated a man who was one of seven or eight children. He told me that when his Mom taught her children to walk, she would hold their hands to help them. After a little while of this, she would grab a pencil and tell her child to hang on to it as well. This would go on until one day, when the child wasn’t paying attention, she would let go of the pencil. So while I want PN to hold my hand, I also want them to pick up a pencil…and then let it go.

So when I let go of the pencil: I want to have practiced –and made automatic– all those steps I need to learn to become and stay a person who is slender, active, pain-free and healthy. Does that make sense?  There are habits–of mind as well as body– that need to be cultivated and nurtured in order for me to be that strong and vital woman I want to become. There are behaviours and practices that I need to implement to be that person–and those behaviours, practices, habits will be what maintains that person, too. So, my focus is not the end result but the process itself–because the process is the practice of the rest of my life. Right? There is no beginning and no end to this.

I’ll deal with the second one tomorrow.



It wasn’t supposed to come to this.

This is the unraveling of an inside seam repair on the pair of pants I wear for work. The pair. Yes. Singular. I have one pair of very expensive yoga pants (that don’t look like yoga pants) which I wear to work. I’m a paint associate in a big box hardware store. They are comfy, stretchy and they breathe.

They are obviously too small. I made the first repair several weeks ago, in haste, before my shift with blue thread. The second, last week, also in haste…but I’d unearthed the black thread by then.

I really should buy a new pair. I’ve known that since, oh, I’d say about September, October. A while now. But, I thought I’d wait…so I could buy a smaller size. But that’s obviously not going to happen.

So I need to buy the same size (there are none larger, in fact, there may not even exist anymore)….but I can’t bring myself to do it. I promised myself I would buy a smaller size. I promised myself I would need a smaller size.

I am depressed and defeated. Even when I was losing weight, I was losing it so slowly, I was scared to blink lest it come right back. It was discouraging…and about three, four weeks ago, just about the time I noticed the blue threads had  pulled out, I gave up. Completely.

For various reasons, I stopped working out at home. Then, I stopped going to yoga. (Oh god, the pain I was in.) Then, I stopped eating mostly healthy and started eating mostly badly. I stopped meditating a long while ago…and I stopped doing my morning pages on Dec 16th. And here we are now with a chocolate hang over so severe I am almost ready to forswear it forever.

But you know I won’t.

So. I am getting help. So-expensive-I-don’t-deserve-it help. I’ve decided to sign up for coaching from Precision Nutrition. It is a year long program with daily actions and accountability. It is so costly, it makes my head spin–and I’ve been battling with myself about whether or not I am “worth it.”  I am also scared. Right now, the cost of the program is enough to ensure my compliance…but will it have the same effect in August? If not, it will be a heck of a waste.

Registration is January 10th. Until then, I’ll mend my pants.

For the last time.


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