Archive for January, 2011

January 25, 2011

I Heart Cupcakes

by Zen Gray

I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to start a diet I usually give myself a few days of “preparation” before I actually begin it. Unfortunately, my few prep days typically turn into, “Oh, I better eat this now because I won’t be able to while I’m back on the wagon…”

I’ve noticed this lovely phenomenon happening last week. While waiting for my coach to get back to me about what fitness competition I’m going to do, I’ve been having a food free-for-all. I know once I’m committed to a diet that I’ll stick to it, but that eating plan hasn’t officially started, so I’m in limbo land where chocolate cupcakes dance upon my counter tops.

Perhaps that doesn’t sound like such a huge deal since I still workout and teach spin classes every week.ย  But even as an active person, high carb/sugary food messes me up. It’s not just the added pooch (which I could contribute to monthly hormonal chick stuff) but increasingly pissy moods and aches here and there.

I’m kind of ashamed to admit it, but there it is. I eat lots of chocolate sometimes. And David, my fiance, loves me so much that he wants to get me WHATEVER MAKES ME HAPPY. He sees my face light up at the mention of dessert. So, I have to try DOUBLY hard to say no… both to him and to myself… when I’m being more strict with my diet. He’s what you’d call an enabler… and I love him for it. Ha! And that’s one of the reasons why love can make me fat.

BUT because David loves me so much, he has made a deal with me. As soon as my coach sets the fitness competition date (one of my New Year’s Resolutions), then we’ll start whittling down my body fat and David promises to refuse my pleas for dessert when I’ve committed to a strict dieting phase. (I must note here, though, that my competition diet WILL include a cheat HOUR once a week so I will be able to eat dessert… just not as often as I’d like.)

So, here’s my question to you:

If you’ve gained weight in your relationship, are you being enabled or are you the enabler?

As you know, I won’t judge you no matter what. I believe that everyone has struggles. It takes courage to fess up to your weaknesses or mistakes and then ask for help. If you’re dealing with some issues, talk to SOMEONE about them and look for guidance. Even the best athletes in the world need a coach, right?

Sending love to you and all your perfect imperfections.


January 17, 2011

Where’s The Party?

by Zen Gray

Last night at dinner, David and I discussed what was important to us as far as this wedding is concerned: David is adamantly opposed to the chicken dance. Everything else is cool. That is one of the reasons why I love him. Life with him has been SO EASY.

I went to my first bridal show today as a newly engaged bride and it solidified my stance on forced participation of wedding guests to clap and dance by an over-zealous DJ… I’m definitely against it.

I got to thinking, though. When is it ok to force people to do anything? Does that ever work? Does it bring real change or just temporary resentment through a clenched smile?

Clients have bought training packages in the past for their spouses and the ONLY time the spouse ever had success is when they requested the gift… not when it was given as a surprise. Sometimes the unsolicited gift of health can be misunderstood like, “Hey, I got you a personal trainer because I think you’re too fat and I want you to change. Happy Birthday!”

I think the DJ would have done better if he just started to boogie down and played some awesome music. I’d much rather join the party because it looked like a great place to be… not because someone implied what I was doing was lame compared to what they wanted me to do.

I know what’s it’s like to really, really want someone I love to live a healthier lifestyle and watch them continually choose a more self-destructive route. It’s so frustrating and I want what I think is best for them but all I can do is hope they’ll be inspired to join the party sometime. So, I’m extremely happy to report that I’ve seen it happen time and time again…so don’t give up on your loved ones… or yourself.




January 11, 2011

Where did all my friends go?

by Zen Gray

I love being in love. I get all wrapped up in it sometimes and disappear from the world in a sappy pink bubble o’ love. I’ll find ways of spending more time together with my sweetheart and put off something that I’ll “just do tomorrow.”

Because doesn’t sleeping in together sound so much better than getting up for a workout? Isn’t celebrating with a little wine is so much more appealing than just having water? Doesn’t cuddling on the couch feel so much more comfy than taking a walk after dinner? And it’s no big deal if I just call someone back tomorrow, right?

With that kind of logic, I not only gained weight while being in love but I lost an important part of my life. Friends I used to see and talk to on a regular basis went weeks or even MONTHS without hearing from me.

Sound familiar?

Thank goodness for Facebook or I’d never catch up with some people. (Ugh… that’s just wrong.) I’ve already made a lot of progress where friends are concerned… but this year will be different. Better! This year, I’m putting friendly get-togethers and phone calls on a calendar and scheduling them like any other important appointment… because at the end of the day (or at the end of my life!) they are just as important. I don’t want to let my amazing friendships just fade out.

Many of my friends, I’ve realized, are people I’ve met while doing the things I love. I have gym friends, dancing friends, karaoke friends, sci-fi movie friends, charity friends, self-help seminar friends, nutrition friends, new-agey friends, sorority friends, school friends, friends of friends, and friends that I’ve just randomly connected with at the oddest times. (My best friend, Jen, met me while I was on a first date with some guy over 12 years ago… can’t even remember his name now.)

I understand that I can’t keep everyone as a close friend all the time because people ARE busy after all. But I think connecting with friends is like reconnecting with oneself… and that’s an important part of living a balanced life.

Love you, my friends ๐Ÿ™‚


January 8, 2011

Happy New Year!

by Zen Gray

Hard to believe it’s 2011. With all the craziness going on in December, I didn’t take any time to reflect upon the year until New Year’s Eve. But looking back, I’m proud of my year. It was a big one:

  1. I paid off my credit cards.
  2. I completed my first book proposal.
  3. I got to spend time with my parents and my sister and her family at Disney World.
  4. I saw my best friend (who lives in Jersey) three times this year.
  5. I moved in with my boyfriend.
  6. I became closer with my brother and his wife and their family.
  7. I finished a marathon.
  8. My boyfriend became my fiance.
  9. My fiance and I got a puppy.

Pretty wonderful, actually. And now I’m looking forward to the things I’d like to accomplish in 2011. One of my biggest challenges, and always has been, is to try to keep my body as healthy as possible and advance my career while still maintaining a great relationship.

I’m not sure if other women do this, but I tend to hide behind my relationship. I will hyper-focus on our interaction instead of working on myself. I will find reasons to be upset with him instead of confronting an entirely different source of stress which often has everything to do with my career and NOT him.

I’m ashamed to say it, but in the past I’ve used my man as a scapegoat because I felt like it was something I could control. I can’t control a boss! I can’t control public opinion of me! I can’t control if the publisher buys my book idea! But I CAN control if I’m going to date someone or not… whether to give or withhold my love. That’s just what I thought.

And at the same time, I felt like I didn’t have control over food. Granted, I’ve never been obese but I’ve always loved to eat and celebrate with food and comfort myself with food (sugar, in particularly.) I’ve gained much more control and balance over the years, but I think it’s like what they say about addicts… you’re always recovering, never cured. Maybe that’s an extreme analogy but that’s how I feel. Every time I go back to Chicago, I want hot dogs, pizza, White Castle and lots of Fanny May fudge. I don’t always get it… but the urge NEVER goes away. (I can’t even imagine how hard it would be if I ever tried heroin. No thanks.)

But if 2010 showed me anything, it was that I DO have more control over my life and I CAN make things happen. One of the wonderful things that I learned this year was to be committed without being attached to an outcome. For example, I wanted to complete a marathon so I trained with AIDS Project Los Angeles every week for 6 months until I ran across the finish line in Honolulu. Could I have gotten injured? Sure. Could I have gotten too dehydrated to finish? You bet. But I also knew that I would have trained again until I finished a different race if that’s what it took. It would just be a detour. And many times, my detours have been delightful little surprises along my life’s journey.

So here’s what I see for 2011…

Now that I’m aware of my “hide and go seek” tendencies when it comes to my relationship, I’m not going to blame my fiance if I eat too much or if I’m afraid to make that important phone call. I’m going to be responsible for my actions. On top of that, I’m going to have some checks and balances put in place.

  1. To really conquer the discipline of eating for nutrition (and not just for emotional reasons), I’m going to compete in a figure competition this year.
  2. I will hire a coach to help me with training and meet with a nutritionist to make sure I’m fueling my body correctly.
  3. I will get a team of advisors together and have a check-in at least once a month to make sure I’m on track with my personal and career goals. (I prefer once a week, but I’ll commit to once a month.)
  4. I will find a publisher and editor that share my vision for helping women stay happy and healthy while keeping the love in their lives.
  5. I have long-term goals of filming a fitness/comedy tour across the country that reaches millions of people wanting guidance for a healthier lifestyle.
  6. I want to have a fun wedding… and not become bridezilla.

I’ve got some big goals… but small goals aren’t that inspiring, you know?

Wish me luck ๐Ÿ™‚


January 2, 2011

Cleaning Up Messes

by Zen Gray

I am a very good driver. Usually.

My apologies for using a horribly outdated movie reference, but I was so upset and distracted about the situation with my mom that I ran a red light. Well, I slammed on my brakes after a car crossed my path and skidded to a stop in the middle of the intersection. (And for the record, I was not on the phone nor was the radio on.)

Thankfully, and miraculously, I didn’t hit anyone but it really freaked me out. I came home immediately and called my mom again. I’m so happy to report that we cleared up our misunderstanding.

But it made me wonder,ย  “How can ANYONE function when a major relationship in their life is malfunctioning?”

I think the answer is: we can’t. Relationships are important and they AFFECT us even if we try to pretend that they don’t. We can bury ourselves in work, in food, in drugs, in sex, in gambling, in soap operas or whatever other hard or soft addiction we can think ofย  — but I think facing our “stuff” head-on is the only way to live a fully-functioning and fulfilling life. In short, I’m a big fan of cleaning up messes.

I know that every time in my life when I’ve gained weight, it’s because I haven’t cleaned up a “mess” which was relationship-related. I cleaned it up and the weight dropped off. I’m fully aware that I’m an emotional eater, and if I’m not addressing something that’s upsetting me, I will look for comfort in food.

So my solution has been to take responsibility for MY actions. I’ve noticed when I do that,ย  my life gets better and better. Just sayin’…

By the way, thank you for all the kind messages and phone calls about my quarrel with my mom. I was surprised at how many people responded to my last blog. Even though there weren’t many posted comments, I received a bunch of phone calls and emails all saying basically the same thing: “Oy, mothers. Hang in there. It’s worth fixing no matter what.”

I agree.