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The Secret to Overcoming SELF-SABOTAGE!

©2006 Lauralyn Bellamy, MA, MDIV, Certified Dreamcoach®

 

“It’s happening again!”

“Why do I keep doing this to myself?”

“I know what I need to do to succeed at this, so why can’t I just do it?”

 

Welcome to the Self-Sabotage Zone, that shadowy repository of failed jobs, relationships, diets, resolutions, projects and dreams. We’ve all made deposits there. We’ve spent significant money, time and energy trying different techniques, strategies, therapists, counselors and/or trainers to achieve what we say we want for ourselves. The tons of how-to books we’ve bought, the CD programs we’ve listened to, the workshops and seminars we’ve attended are evidence of our good intentions.

Our self-improvement regimens seem to work – for a while; and then, we start to undermine, forget, neglect and (ultimately) just give up. Worse, part of us observes the beginning-of-the-end pattern of our destructive behavior as if behind a thick plate glass  window. We shout exhortations, warnings, threats, pleading not to do this, again! But it’s as if the self we’re observing is in a trance or unable to hear the observer.

At this point, many of us get distracted and seduced by the power of, “Why?” We live in a culture that has absorbed the psychoanalytical premise that exploring why one behaves destructively will lead to powerful insights into one’s personality that will trigger an emotional catharsis (an emptying out, a cleansing) that will lead to the learning of healthy behavior. So, like Alice catching sight of the White Rabbit and chasing it down the rabbit hole, we jump up and chase after the answers to “Why?!”

Frequently, the pursuit of answers to “Why?” does lead to the discovery of insights that are truly illuminative of the reason one behaves a certain way. When that “Ah-HAH!” moment happens, it often does produce catharsis – the kind of weeping that seems to empty us out, wash us clean and leave us ready for a deep restful nap.

BUT, it does not follow as night follows day that this powerful insight and emotional catharsis lead to alternative behavior that overcomes the problems we’ve been attempting to solve.

WHY?

Gotcha! OK, I’m going to tell you the answer to, “Why?”  Then, I’m going to describe an alternative strategy that will successfully dismantle your self-sabotage machinery.

WARNING: Reading the following information will not empower you to successfully overcome your patterns of self-sabotage. It will give you information that may lead to greater self-awareness and, yes, some significant insights into yourself. However, it is the nature of self-sabotage to survive in its host; it will mutate beyond your ability to single handedly eradicate it. Because it is a product of your personality, it has the advantage of knowing your limitations and weak spots, giving it the ability to anticipate your efforts to destroy it and  mask itself, go underground, lie dormant, or aggressively attack you for daring to threaten its existence. The information you are about to read can only be successfully applied with the assistance of a coach or counselor trained to equip and support you in this life-changing quest.

 

WHY?

First, because the goal you think you want to achieve is not real to you: it lives in the realm of Ideals. Ideals are abstract concepts. They make useful templates against which you can design and measure what you actually use in your life; but, no sane person actually lives in the realm of ideals. The “real” world is your best translation of your ideals at any given moment of your life.

Secondly, human beings are programmed to regard the Unknown as a place of danger, risk, and threat to survival. The closer you come to the Unknown, the Wilderness, the Abyss, the Void, the greater your anxiety becomes until it reaches an intolerable intensity and you retreat to the Familiar. No matter how unhappy or painful your familiar behaviors, relationships and thoughts are; you experience relief in getting away from the unknown. You have become addicted to the need for relief from anxiety. What you call “bad habits” are your mechanisms for numbing your anxiety and, in doing so, experiencing moments of relief.

Thirdly, every campaign you launch to achieve your stated goal enchants you. You enter the world of HOW-TO and experience the pleasure of being swept up into a new life of strategies, schedules, techniques, equipment, and people to transport you to your goal. You are so enthusiastic in mastering How-To that you don’t allow your attention to focus on what will happen when you reach your destination. Your goal remains hidden in the Unknown Wilderness of your future.

 

Fourth, the closer you get to reaching your goal the more intense your anxiety becomes. You only know how to make the journey. You have not prepared yourself to live in the world of your destination. It’s as though you boarded a train that will take you to the Forbidden City, a place you’ve heard wonderful things about. After a while, you’ve begun to worry about the wisdom of going to any place called “Forbidden.”  You don’t know what to do; but if you don’t do something soon, you’ll be there and it will be too late!

Fifth, before you reach your destination, you get yourself off that train! You begin the journey back to the familiar place you started out; except, you’re battered, bruised, and carrying heavier baggage. Self-sabotage is a misguided effort to save your life from the threat of the Unknown.

Now that you know why you self-sabotage, you will begin identifying examples of self-sabotage operating in your own life.

Next, you will glean insights about these behaviors.

And after that? Probably an endless loop of recognizing, interpreting and ruminating upon the instances of self-sabotage; but no longterm, practical changes to achieve success. Unless

To be continued!

6 Years Later and Still NO YO-YO’ing!

In the summer of 2004, after 18 months of intentionally shedding my morbidly obese fat, I celebrated by having a photo of myself wearing all-white! When I went to the national "open casting" call for Oprah Winfrey’s next TV project, "Your Own Show" [a competitive, reality-TV series] I decided to wear the same white slacks to show how, using my EMBODY SUCCESS! method, I not only had kept off the weight , but those size 10 slacks were now baggy!!
 
"I can’t lose weight!" is simply not accurate for 98% of those of us who are obese. The truth is, "I can’t keep the weight loss!" Chronic dieters are experts on dieting. I could lose weight on EVERY diet I ever tried. I just couldn’t keep the pounds off!  And, in the classic definition of what it means to "yo-yo diet," I would not only gain back what I’d dieted off, but go past that!
 
What a person needs to avoid gaining back the weight, is the knowledge and behavior to shutdown their self-sabotage machinery.  That’s what my FOUNDATION PROGRAM gives clients in 12 weekly, personal telephone sessions. And the method can be applied to ANY area of one’s life that is suffering from self-sabotage!! What has your helplessness in the face of self-sabotage cost you? To learn more about the Foundation Program and schedule a complimentary consult, simply email or skype me!
 
PHOTOS [L-R: June 26, 2010;  August, 2004; Thanksgiving, 2001 with Mom
 
 
Lauralyn at Thanksgiving, 2001:
 
C’mon, what have you got to lose?!

THE SECRET TO OVERCOMING SELF-SABOTAGE & YO-YO DIETING!

The Secret to Overcoming Self Sabotage
& Yo-yo Dieting! ©2006
By Lauralyn Bellamy, MA, MDiv,  cert. Dream Coach(r)
 
 
            The first time I was put on a diet I was 4 years old. I can be that specific because I was in pre-school when I began sneaking food. I would helpfully offer to carry our lunch debris to the kitchenette and, when the teacher wasn’t there, I’d peel off the ¼ inch-thick slab of chocolate icing that sat lightly atop the Entenmanns’ chocolate cupcakes, fold it in half and greedily stuff it into my mouth where it would slowly melt down my throat with a minimum of telltale chewing.
            I can be that specific because I remember that as I scampered off the Jungle Jim at my upper Westside Manhattan playground to join the rest of the kids racing toward the ice cream pushcart, I’d be reminded to order a popsicle, since it was made with water, not cream.
            I can be that specific because I remember how I had to reach way up in the refrigerator to grasp the aerosol can of whip cream and sneak a squirt directly into my mouth when Mom was at the other end of the apartment diapering my kid sister.
            By first grade I knew who I was: a fat kid on a diet. In high school I managed to fit into a size 13-14 by smoking cigarettes, drinking gallons of Tab & Fresca, counting calories like Scrooge counted lumps of coal and, while away at college, having one or two sympathetic psychiatrists who would thoughtfully prescribe the latest diet pills. My wedding day was two weeks after college graduation, 1969, and I walked down the aisle a relatively svelte 160 lbs. I worked in advertising, journalism and pr, so living off of cigarettes, Tab soda and the occasional press lunch was easy.
            It took me 10 months to conceive; but each month I was convinced I was already pregnant and began eating for two. When our firstborn arrived in 1977, I was 235 lbs. I felt like a beached whale. By the time Zachary was a year old, using my own grapefruit-and-frozen vegetables diet, I’d gotten down to a size 12 and confidently re-entered the workforce in a great PR job.
            Over 2 years later, we were living in the suburbs of Houston, I was a pregnant, stay-at-home mom, and Zachary spent 5 mornings a week at a Montessori school. I’d never lived in the suburbs before and the lack of daily walking as a means of transportation did me in. By the time Luke came into the world in early 1980, I was up to 210 lbs. Again, I applied the grapefruit-and-frozen veggies diet and got down to a size14-16.
            When we moved to the Northern suburbs of Atlanta the next year, I reluctantly decided that I would have to join a gym to have any chance at holding myself down to a size 14. I signed up at “Spa Lady” because it was women-only, had a free nursery, and NO MIRRORS!.
            I went from obese to morbidly obese while attending Emory University’s divinity school in the late 1980’s. By now, both boys were in elementary school. I spent endless hours sitting in class, the library, the car, at home. I grabbed vending machine junk food “for energy” as I raced home after classes to arrive right behind the school bus. Staying up late to do my homework led to more “eating for energy.” By the time I graduated with my Master of Divinity degree in 1989, I was back up to 235 lbs., only this time I wasn’t pregnant.
            Many parishioners would seek me out for hugs: I was big and soft, an Earth Mother archetype in the flesh! I was also not threatening to the married folks as there was nothing sexy or attractive about me, despite my having “such a pretty face.” Being geographically restricted and with denominational blessing, I founded a new congregation in our town and food became a central part of community life for me. By 1996, I weighed in at my internist’s office at 298 lbs. I was depressed, exhausted and feeling “so close to burn out I can smell the smoke,” as I told him.  He put me on Optifast™ and I dieted down to 226 lbs. by the following spring. That’s when an unforeseen conflict blew up in my face and I realized I didn’t have “the heart” to fight for my ministry, so I resigned.
            And the weight came back. As a hospital chaplain, I lived on cafeteria food, vending machines and the 24-hour McDonald’s in the lobby. On-call through the night every couple of weeks, responding to Code Blue’s, making the rounds of ICU, CCU, Neonatal ICU and the ER, I returned to my energy boosters from the vending machines and the McDonald’s. Gaining weight was easy. My doctor’s frustrated response: “Maybe it’s not so bad. I mean, which would you rather die from – a heart attack or cancer? With morbid obesity you’re more likely to have a heart attack.” I changed doctors.
            I’d seen TV talk shows featuring people so big that hospitals used fork lifts to haul them out of their house into special ambulances so they could have surgery that “stapled” their stomachs. They lost weight.  I’d also met a 600-lb. woman at the hospital  who’d had that surgery, but had since “busted her staples.” I assumed one had to be at least 400 lbs. to get that surgery.
            By the spring of 2002, I’d begun hearing about laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery for the morbidly obese. Incredibly, at 280 lbs. I didn’t consider myself a member of that club.  Then in June, during my 6-month check up to monitor medication for high cholesterol and triglycerides, my new internist expressed his concern over my “morbid obesity.” The label shocked me as if I’d stuck my finger in an electrical socket. His disgust was obvious: he’d put me on diet pills for five months but I wasn’t losing at his required rate of 2 lbs. per week, plus my feet and ankles were now swelling up so I was taking Lasik. “What about weight loss surgery?” I asked him. He dismissed that option out of hand as too risky; adding that he didn’t know any doctors to refer me to and wasn’t about to go research it.
            A few weeks later, I saw a newspaper ad for an information meeting on laparoscopic weight loss surgery. I called the number listed, asked them to send me an information packet and began educating myself. I put off attending the monthly meeting until September, 2002. I even arrived about 10 min. late at Emory Dunwoody Medical Center’s meeting room. It was standing room only, and I had to shoehorn myself in. Dr. James K. Champion was talking about the facts of laparoscopic Roux-en-Y surgery. The next day, I made an appointment to have a preliminary consult with “Dr. C” 2 weeks later, so that my husband’s concerns might be addressed. They were and Jim became an unwavering supporter of my choice to have the surgery. United Healthcare approved me a week after getting the materials assembled by Dr. Champion’s staff. My surgery date was 3 months out; but, that was fine with me. The thought of facing Christmas as a new post-op was terrifying to me.
   
       
 
             The decision to turn to WLS brought me face to face with my profound revulsion at having to live in a physical body; a revulsion so deep that I lived most of my waking life, “up in my head.” I was so oblivious to my body that the sight of me in a photo would catch me totally off guard. “Do I REALLY look like this?” I’d sometimes ask my husband or best friends. They’d just nod in the affirmative. I had absolutely no emotional connection with the huge woman in the photos, the woman whose smile was determined to hold your gaze above her neck.
            I had my proximal lap-RNY at 11am on 2/13/03. At my 3-week check up, I was told that it was time to begin weightlifting, in addition to the daily walks for cardiovascular exercise. Providentially, LA Fitness had just opened a new center not 2 miles from my home. I not only became a member the next day, I signed a contract to have a personal trainer give me 3 weightlifting sessions per week for 6 months. So far, I’ve renewed that contract twice!
            And this, Dear Reader, is where I began the adventure that led me out of the lifelong drama of dieting/gaining. It was the sessions with my personal trainer that, over time, helped me learn to pay attention to, really look at and, finally, consciously live in my body. Unlike the treadmill or exer-cycle cardio workouts I give myself 5-7 days a week, those weekly weightlifting sessions are done while observing my body in a mirror. I need to make sure my form is correct because I don’t want to injure myself.
            I began the weightlifting wearing size 3x sweatpants and XX-LG T-shirts. I couldn’t grab my ankles or tuck them behind foot supports on some of the equipment. But I learned how to stretch, I learned to lift weights, and I got familiar with my body – how it looked and felt as I exercised. After 5 months of this regimen, I went for my 6-month exam and Dr. C and I happily noted my 77+ lb. weight loss. On my first anniversary check up, Dr. C handed me my golden “century” pin for losing 100 lbs. To his pleasant surprise, at my 2nd anniversary exam, I’d lost an additional 20 lbs. bringing me down to 155 lbs. And almost 2 ½ years out, I’m down to 145lbs. and wearing size 8 skirts, women’s “small” tops and  regular size 10 Gap jeans.
 
            So why didn’t I abort my weight loss regimen when I started looking “normal?”
            Why didn’t I experience the usual anxiety when catching glimpses of my diminishing reflection in mirrors and store windows?
            Why didn’t I get angry the first time a guy turned his head or made an appreciative comment when I passed by?
            Why didn’t I start to crave the comfort foods of my pre-op life and “reward” myself with a personal size thin crust pizza?
            Here are the keys I discovered to unlocking the secrets to overcoming self-sabotage and yo-yo dieting.
            1. I began spending more and more of my waking life consciously living in my body. I’ve become a sensualist! I enjoy working up a good sweat as I exercise, feeling my muscles get stronger.
           I use the fitness room in motels when I travel because I like the way I feel when I’m exercising.
           I love feeling the heat of summer without gasping for air or dealing with prickly heat rashes. 
           I look forward to shopping for new clothes after taking my larger clothes to the nearby community charities clothes closet.
           I buy clothes that really look and feel great on me. I can look at myself in the dressing room mirrors without fear or shame.
           I savor my foods as I slowly chew them until pureed before swallowing. But I also look at my food and smell it appreciatively before eating.
           Through classic behavioral conditioning, I’ve learned that when I eat the correct foods in the correct way I feel satisfied and energized; when I don’t, a trip to the bathroom relieves me of the contents of my pouch that felt stuck directly behind my sternum.
           
            2.  I never resumed “eating normally, only less of it.” That’s like getting out of a 3-month residential treatment program for drug abuse/alcoholism and going straight to the old neighborhood bars to hang out with your addict friends. Before surgery, I was a lifelong “carb addict:” rice, pasta (my Mom’s Sicilian American), wonderful breads, Danish, bagels, pizza, cookies, scones, canolli – mama mia! I could not imagine life without them.
           After surgery, I didn’t want to squander precious space in my little pouch on simple carbohydrates and sugar.
           Immediately after surgery, I lost my taste for those foods. By not reintroducing them into my food plan the cravings have not returned!
           I want you to understand I am not talking about clenched teeth, white knuckled willpower. I have no emotional yearning to “give in” and eat those foods  Dining out, instead of having my meat or fish resting on a bed of rice, a bowl of pasta or a mountain of “smashed” potatoes, I’ll nest it on spinach or shredded lettuce or (gasp!) nothing, with fresh veggies on the side. From time to time I’ll try a few tablespoons of rice (say, in an Indian restaurant), or a few fork-twirls of pasta to satisfy my curiosity; but it doesn’t lead to a return of the cravings.
           
            3. I became familiar with the world of normalcy; I came to accept myself as a person who fit into this normal world.
           I had my picture taken every week during the first 4-5 months, and every month from then on. I still do! I use disposable cameras and hand it to my husband, a friend or a co-worker and simply ask them to take my snapshot.
           I make sure to use up & print out a roll of film every month (nowadays, every other month) and really look at the photos of myself.
           I put them in a travel size album to carry around to encourage myself and other post-ops.
           The act of seeing me in a mirror has become so familiar it feels natural.
           As I watch my weight-lifting body change its shape, I find myself feeling awe and respect for my body.
 
            4. I rejected the thought that people were not responding to the “real” me as I achieved a normal body image.
           Lugging around a heavy body, only people who could “see past” the superficial package to “the real me” had value to me. If you paid too much attention to the physical façade, I dismissed you.
           Now I value my body as being an inseparable part of “the real me.”  I’m no longer “stuck with” the burden of having a body. I embrace the reality that I am spirit embodied, enfleshed, incarnate.
           The “real” me is a normal person, having a normal relationship with food: I eat when I’m hungry, I stop when I’m not and nutrition guides my choices. It’s similar to when I quit smoking during my first pregnancy. At first I thought of myself as an ex-smoker, but after a while, without giving it conscious thought, I heard myself identify as a non-smoker.
           
            5. I realized that the sabotaging behaviors were misplaced efforts to comfort my fears and anxieties about an unimaginable future by rescuing me from it! I’d had a lifetime of being fat and dieting was all I knew. When my fear of becoming an attractive woman became intolerably dangerous, I’d calm myself down with food. Until I was willing to imagine a different future me, to “see” her emerging and welcome her rather than run from her, I was doomed to yo-yo. I had to choose to befriend that fearful part of myself and find other ways to comfort me.
           
            6. I spend time trying new activities and thinking about new options for myself. I am resilient, curious and enthusiastic! At times I catch myself still thinking like a fat person with severe limitations. For example, when I read on the ObesityHelp.com Georgia message board that several of our peers had completed this July Fourth’s Peachtree Road Race, I realized it never occurred to me to even think about running. I associate running with injuring my knees and ankles. I saw that this was a remnant of my former self. I’ve decided to see what running feels like. I get to choose!
 
            7. I stay connected to sources of support for my continued transformation and wellness. Social isolation, being a Lone Ranger, is a sure path back to obesity. I still go to WLS support groups, read the Obesity Help website daily, go to the gym 5-7x weekly, work out with a fitness trainer, check in with a psychotherapist and turn to personal life coaches as needed.
 
            Ultimately, the key to overcoming self-sabotage is to make an absolute commitment to doing whatever it takes to not only save your life, but celebrate it! Once I entered into that agreement with myself and God, I became very resourceful and creative about making it work. I am becoming versatile at brainstorming and “thinking outside the box.” My life is an adventure and I get to be the hero! You can, too. Join me!
           
           
 
 

GET MOVIN’ – learn the OPRAH DANCE in less than 4 minutes!

"The Black-Eyed Peas" hit: "Today’s Gonna Be a Good, Good Day!" had a crowd of thousands
dancing in the streets of Chicago – and they were all doing the same choreography!!
It totally blew Oprah’s mind.
They decided to get the choreographer to make a video teaching US the same dance in 3:47min.
 
If you think your life is about dieting and losing weight – this is your wake up call!
Your life is about embracing the gift of incarnation – of experiencing your life IN & THROUGH your physical body as well as your mind & spirit.
 
Play this video as much as you want. Make sure to practice on a soft surface so you don’t ruin your knees & ankles: a rug, rubber mat, lawn, sand…
 
And don’t tell yourself you can’t find LESS THAN 4min. to move your body in joyful celebration!
Ready? A-5-6-7-8-
 

 http://play.dipdive.com/i/76374

I’m a WEIGHTLOSS ASTERISK!(c)

I’M A WEIGHT LOSS ASTERISK! (c)2010
 
By Lauralyn Bellamy, MA, MDiv, cert. DREAMCOACH(r)
 
 Christmas Day, 2002 in 3X pants!         
     
 
  Christmas Eve 2003 in size 12!            
        
 
  2009, my 5th Christmas Day in size 8!   
   
 
For the last six years I have been living the life of a "weight loss asterisk"* (c) – proudly!
What do I mean?
Depending on which study you use, anyone who can achieve AND maintain their desired weight loss for over a year (some studies say 3 years) is a *WLA. The asterisk appears on every advertisement for weight loss programs and products promising, "AMAZING results as shown by these satisfied customers…" –
 
*Results not typical
 
One of the safest bets you can make is this: even if a chronic dieter achieves her/his goal weight, come back in a year and they’ll have gained it back and more. That’s why this predictable pattern is called YO-YO dieting! We spend our lives going up and down, and up-up and down, and up-up-up…
 
Look at OPRAH WINFREY! Kirstie Ally! (This photo is only 2 months old!)
 
Carnie Wilson was the poster girl for gastric bypass surgery in 2002. Last week I saw her on a current "reality" program and she’s back in plus-size clothing!These celebrities illustrate the fact that it doesn’t matter what method you use to lose weight: if you haven’t removed the behavioral triggers operating your personal DOOMSDAY machine, you will sabotage your efforts and you will gain back the weight.  
 
Secondly, NO ONE can shut down their own self-defense mechanism; it will always remain one step ahead of your conscious personality’s most inspired insights! The part of the brain responsible for keeping your Doomesday machine in top operating condition is  like the H.A.L. computer operating the life support systems aboard the space ship in the movie, "2001." When it began identifying the slumbering astronauts as threats to its system, it began shutting down all services to their sleep pods. With two men left, it took both – working together – to go in and remove those elements of its program that were automatically tagging threats and shift it to manual override.
 
As informative or comforting as a diet book or support group can be; neither is designed to accompany your personality into the recesses of your mind (where your "reptillian" or "caveman" brain center lives) and switch it to manual override. And as long as that part of your brain – the limbic system – is not included in your weight loss program actions and reactions, you will not be able to live the rest of your life off the obesity rollercoaster.
 
Read my earlier blogs to learn my history with dieting, going back to age 4, if you want to. But know this: what I applied to myself and, since 2005, have coached others to use, has NOTHING to do with "understanding WHY" you sabotage yourself. Why? Because "knowing" why does not change your behavior! You will continue to sabotage yourself; only now, you’ll know WHY you’re doing it!
 
What makes EMBODY SUCCESS!(r) coaching work over the long haul is its effectiveness at identifying and removing the triggers and reconfiguring the part of your mind responding to your reptillian brain, so that it no longer identifies your weight loss and the healthy lifestyle changes as a threat.
 
But wait! There’s an added bonus! These behavioral skills are transferable to any area of your life in which you have identified a pattern of self-sabotage! Relationships wrecked? Career crashed and burning? If self-sabotage is at work, EMBODY SUCCESS! coaching will transform your ability to enjoy achievement and go on to new achievements!
 
I realized that I was more than a weight loss coach when clients began asking if their spouses could work with me on their job histories; or, their bestfriends were tired of experiencing the same let down in the romance department. I’m happy to coach them, too**.
 
Still, I am so alarmed by the medical epidemic of morbid obesity sweeping our nation that my mission is to give enough chronic dieters, be they "merely" obese or "super morbidly obese," the knowledge and experience to maintain a healthy, strong, normal-sized body! When the majority of chronic dieters master these changes we will lose the right to claim asterisk status because longterm successful weight loss maintenance will be the norm!
 
It begins with my exclusive FOUNDATION PROGRAM – 12 weekly private coaching tele-sessions with email support in-between, as needed. This is not simply hypnosis. This is not about following any particular diet protocol. This is about freeing you from the behaviors that doomed all your previous diets and weight loss protocols. In other words, learning how to EMBODY SUCCESS!(r) is about identifying and achieving the way you want to live the rest of your life! Most of my clients have no further need of weekly coaching after that; though they know I’m always available to assist them if some new situation creates a new doomsday response.
 
If you’re ready to learn specifically how this would work for you, contact me! Now! I mean, seriously! What have you got to lose?
 
 May 2010 by the year you enter the life of your dreams!
Lauralyn
 
**Another category I’m an asterisk in: Jim & I have been married 40+ years and continue to find more love and intimacy in our relationship.
 

LOSING WEIGHT IMPROVED MY PHOTOGRAPHY!

 HOW LOSING WEIGHT IMPROVED MY PHOTOGRAPHY!(c)
By Lauralyn Bellamy, MA, MDiv, cert. Dreamcoach(R)
 
For most of my first 56 years (at least, from age 6) I spent much of my waking life living "up in my head." I was an imaginative child, intellectually curious, mystical, artistic and, growing up on Manhattan’s "Upper Westside," an avid, easily enchanted audience member at the theater, ballet, symphony & opera, as well as the annual circus, rodeo and Ice Capades.
 
When I was introduced to the world of photography as a graphic arts major at R.I.S.D. it was as if I had finally found a way to be at home on the planet. The excitement and yearning to see with greater clarity, appreciation, and meaning the world through my lens was intense. The years I didn’t allow my camera to lead me out into the world were years of varying degrees of mild-to-moderate depression.
 
One of the aspects of photography that was so comforting to me was that it didn’t seem to matter whether I was waddling around under the weight of almost 300 lbs., or (for me) a svelte 175 lbs. The relationship between the camera, my eyes, hands and aesthetic sense were operating harmoniously. I’ve reviewed photos taken at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in 1996 (in a size 3X) and the photographs continue to please me. But it was only because we were on vacation that I had my camera with me. Once home, it was a smattering of snapshots of family or church events.
 
In Feb., 2003 I began the process of not only losing weight (I’d done that before), but learning how to live the rest of my life consciously in a healthy, strong, slim (NOT "skinny") body. The following month I began weight-lifting and working out with a personal trainer 3x weekly; 61/2 years out I still enjoy 2 one-hour private sessions with my PT weekly. I also take yoga classes and do daily brisk walks with my greyhound. I like feeling strong and resillient!
 
Another important component of integrating my body image with self-identity was having my picture taken every week (in the first 6 months) and every month after that, for 18 months. Once, when I realized too many weeks had gone by without a snapshot, Jim was out of town and it was the 5th anniversary of my gastric bypass surgery, I picked up my camera, stood in front of a full-lentgth mirror and took my own picture!
Self-portrait, 2-11-08. (c) Lauralyn Bellamy
 
You see, one way to test whether or not you’re consciously living IN your body is to notice your reaction to a photo of yourself. If you can’t believe that’s really what you look like (whether the image looks too fat or too thin), that’s confirmation that you’re living "from the neck up!"
 
I remember a photo taken of me celebrating my birthday at a restaurant with Jim and our son, Luke, almost 18months out. When the waiter presented the Polaroid in a little cover I was amazed. "Do I really look like this?" I asked Jim showing him the picture.
 
He looked alarmed."Don’t tell me you think you look fat in this photo," he almost pleaded. "No! I mean, am I really this thin?" I was wearing a hot pink summer top with little cap sleeves and I marveled at how normal and attractive "she" looked; she being memories of me in my "glamor days," working for Group W Broadcasting, for example. It felt like I was looking at a snapshot from my past. By Christmas I’d settled into my then-size10 body and no longer dissociated from the self I saw in photos.
 
The integration process took two years as I got psychologically comfortable with being a size 10. Still not experiencing any of the old sabotage triggers, I left congregational ministry to become a full-time, certified life coach.
 
But how did losing weight improve my photography?
 
It’s taken me 4 years to notice and figure it out, but it has! In early 2006, when I was being trained as a certified Dream Coach(r) Group Leader, I realized how important it was, if I was going to live the life of MY dreams, to resume being a photographer. My "Doubter" immediately informed me that I didn’t have the time to do photography on a daily basis. I countered by challenging myself to spend :30 of our next lunch hour "finding" photographs right around our hotel in Novato, California. I went across the street to a CVS, bought a disposable camera and began shooting. In 30 minutes I’d shot the roll. After classes late that afternoon, I drove into town and had the film developed and printed. Here’s a few examples of what I saw at the entrance to the hotel:
Photo: Lauralyn Bellamy (c)2006    
   Photo: Lauralyn Bellamy (c)2006              
                                                 
 
In that half hour, it was like flipping a switch: as soon as I had the camera up to my eyes, I saw the extraordinary in the ordinary world around me.  I allowed the lens to lead me without a second thought; I was squatting and twisting, climbing and lifting the camera over my head to get the shot.
 
But I didn’t  get the realization about the relationship between the kind of photography I was shooting and my lighter, healthier, stronger body until after I conducted my first "PRAYING IN PICTURES: Digital Photo-Journaling" workshop recently. As I led the participants down our garden path toward the lake (a route I take daily with our greyhound), the brilliant sunlight was hitting some wild holly bushes and the picture/thought popped into my mind, "I wonder what those leaves look like to an ant underneath?" Without a second thought, I squatted down, then knelt and twisted my way underneath, looked up through the lens and clicked:
 
 

Photo: Lauralyn Bellamy (c)2009

After the workshop, as I reviewed what I’d photographed, I realized how impossible it would’ve been, prior to losing the weight, for me to create the photographs that were the answers to my curiosity; that, as an obese- morbidly obese photographer, I was restricted to shooting at standing eye level with minimal tilting up or down. Now, the health and strength of my body makes it possible for me to shoot where my camera and imagination take me!

If you are a photographer, professional or amateur, who is obese or morbidly obese, or overweight-and-out-of-shape – think about the way your body is restricting your ability to "get the shot." Imagine how your photography could be liberated to develop your vision!

Being a physically engaged photographer has supported the expansion of my vision of the world around me and my participation in it!

Call or contact me now to learn how my unique coaching can revitalize your life as a visionary artist/photographer! What have you got to lose?

 embodysuccess@msn.com  404-394-3900    Lauralyn

Lauralyn in Loveland, CO 8-04-09; photo by Heather Emig 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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