Archive for September, 2015

Weight Weight Just Love Me – Autopoietic Systems – Day 10

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

All systems in nature are "autopoietic" - that is they are self organizing and perpetuate around a core operating principle.  My goal is to make my self organization more conscious and in the direction that brings me into loving myself more - for the betterment of all.

All systems in nature are "autopoietic" - that is they are self organizing and perpetuate around a core operating principle. My goal is to become automatically self organized around loving myself more for the betterment of all.

My dietitian Kate has been extolling the virtues of simplicity with respect to how I nourish myself.  She knows I like to make things all intricate and complicated as well that is fun for me. But then I got to thinking about my experience of autopoietic systems.  Autopoietic is from the term “autopoiesis” – it means a system that creates and maintains itself.  All systems in nature are autopoietic as they create and maintain themselves.  For anything to be self perpetuating it needs to be an autopoietic system.

So as I contemplate how to love myself more, I am considering what type of autopoietic system needs to be in place to make this the more natural state of affairs?  Typically when I create this concept in the business realm, I look at what core value can we self organize around.  For example my main business – Cheetah Learning – we have self organized around the value “your success is my success.”   Every system in the company supports this core value.

Loving myself more – the core value – is well loving myself more.  Does it have to be anymore complicated than that?   Is this a job that is ever done anyhow?   This 66 day challenge is starting to remind me of the time in 2008 when after reading AJ Jacob’s book “A Year of Living Biblically,” I wanted to try something different and committed to being a bodhisattva for a year.  And once into it realized, once I committed to this path, I would always be a bodhisattva (where I achieve enlightenment solely for the benefit of others). I am now realizing, this challenge is part of that path.

Now that I am looking at this effort through the lens of an autopoietic system – lets see what elements of the system are created by self organizing around the core value of “loving myself more.”  I will start sharing what I notice in subsequent posts.

Kate‘s comment: Great idea to make a self-perpetuating system of positive thinking – definitely powerful and towards a great mindset.

Weight Weight Just Love Me – Twisted Authenticity – Day 9

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Did learning to teach yoga enable me to love more deeply and thus become a better photographer?  This picture captures the leave shower of autumn in SE Alaska.

Did learning to teach yoga enable me to love more deeply and thus become a better photographer? This picture captures the leave shower of autumn in SE Alaska.

I was reading an article the other day about how yoga helps you become more compassionate towards all other beings because of all the different ways you twist your spine.  Your spine is the central access of your body and this makes sense as all the nerve endings come out from your spinal column and extend out to all other parts of your body.  Getting in better touch with what it feels like to be in your body extends empathy out to every other living thing and how they experience reality in their form.  It’s a very interesting article.  Won’t repeat it all – click here to read more.

My purpose in bringing this up is in assessing my own level of authenticity in fully loving how I currently inhabit this body and how it helps me interact with the world around me.  I like to do my yoga practice every morning – but some mornings I don’t seem to find the time for it.  And those mornings that I do make the time for it – I wonder to myself what is different this morning then yesterday morning when I did not make the time to do my yoga practice?  I feel so much more connected to myself and therefore to everything else I do throughout the day. It seems to me doing my daily morning yoga practice could be as natural for me to do as eating breakfast – which I also skipped yesterday.

Being authentically me, yes I’m going to have different approaches to each day.  And yes somedays I’m going to start out the day doing my yoga practice and some days I won’t.  It does seem more often than not, I do start the day off with my yoga practice.  A friend I now only see several times a year even commented to me the other day I seem so much more at ease and in my body since I became a yoga teacher.  So, while I could be “more disciplined” (can’t we all) – I am doing sufficient yoga for others to see observable changes in how I move through the world and relate to others.

My friend’s feedback was nice as it’s not really something I have given much thought to – but I do see what is mentioned in the first paragraph about finding it easier to connect with others and I do more deeply appreciate the world all around me – could this be because of more conscious awareness of my body due to yoga?  This improved connectedness is starting to show up in some interesting ways – from the difference in what I’m noticing to take pictures of and how it’s improved my photography, to the ease in which I’m moving through what used to be challenging transitions with staff changes in the company.  Twisting every which way with yoga on a routine basis is helping me approach my world with greater authenticity for how my presence is the loving, connected person I know deep inside I really am.

Weight Weight Just Love Me – Taking Care of Business – Day 8

Monday, September 28th, 2015
Thank You Jody Kasch For All the Great Pictures Of Our Scene For the Past Decade!!

Thank You Jody Kasch For All the Great Pictures Of Our Scene For the Past Decade!!

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Business is my creative palette and it’s where I feel I shine brightest.  I love all the complexities, maneuvering, systems development, and strategizing required.  What I love most of all though are the inspiring friendships that have developed over the years with the team whom I share my day to day life. We’ve celebrated the high points in our lives and been there for each other through the low points.  Some say you should not mix friendship with business but I find it is the challenges and love of our business through which my deepest friendships are strengthened. Thank you all my friends who have joined me in this incredible business we have created over the last two decades.

Loving myself more naturally extends to loving my business more and all that that entails – from the courses we create, to the friends who help me serve our students, to the students who grace us with their participation.  When I take a step back and contemplate what we have accomplished together and how we have done it in bringing project management to the masses, it is awe inspiring.  We have been so blessed with the work that has come our way in our chosen calling to help people learn how to and actually achieve their goals at cheetah speed. Whenever I need a quick pick me up, I just scan the list of the latest people who have registered for our courses and see the companies from where they originate.  We accomplish the mission for which we set out to achieve every single day.  Loving myself more by loving my business more – well that is an easy task.

Kate’s comment: I like what you had to say about mixing friendship with business – the challenges strengthen bonds. This is also true with adopting new lifestyle changes. The challenges that come with changing habits are made easier with a friend by your side, cheering you on. Choose a friend that won’t give up or enable you through this process, but make sure they can and want to be in your life for a couple years at minimum. This relationship can get both of you healthier and help you be those crazy old ladies laughing on the porch together.

Weight Weight Just Love Me – Extension – Day 7

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Enjoying the love all around me this weekend as fall shows off it's beauty.

Enjoying the love all around me this weekend as fall shows off it's beauty.

I’m a week into this loving myself more habit and I’m finding it much easier to find what I love about everything and everyone else as well.  At first I thought it was being indulgent and self absorbed to love myself more.  I was raised in a liberal French Catholic family (while liberal and Catholic may seem an oxymoron, note, liberalism is a strong characteristic of the French). We were frequently reminded and encouraged to love your neighbor as yourself.  So when I love myself more, this naturally means, I’m more capable to love my neighbor more as well.  It just makes sense to make it a habit to love myself more in all realms.

I’ve also noticed, loving myself and others more is very easy to do when things are going well, it’s quite another story when things are not going so well.  As I was taught from my parents, the measure of character is how gracious you are when things are not going your way.  It’s easy to be kind, easy going, and loving when everything is coming up roses.  Quite another when you run into the thorns of life.  When you have to make the hard calls – things you know people may not like or understand or appreciate in the moment. Is it still possible to find the love, gratitude and graciousness for yourself and them?   And likewise when others make decisions that I might not like – how can I react in the most loving, kind and compassionate way possible?.  By loving myself more I’m finding helps me extend a deeper level of graciousness and compassion to others in tough times.

Kate’s comment: It’s never selfish to love yourself. If you don’t give yourself the care that you need, how can you expect to be able to care for others? Keep up the good work. Your daily insights are inspiring people!

Weight Weight Just Love Me – Preferences and Attachment – Day 6

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

I was reflecting how much of my current identity is shaped by my food preferences.  While these preferences have evolved over time, I have also become much more attached to my preferences to the point where it’s now part of my identity – primarily because these preferences have proven over time to create “health” as dictated by my lab results.  Before I adopted some of these preferences, I had elevated liver enzymes, cholesterol over 220,  borderline high blood sugar and my stomach never seemed quite right.  Now all my labs are in the ideal range and my whole digestive track works great (I never even think about it anymore).  PLUS, I am no longer allergic to alcohol.  So while I am generally not in favor of being overly attached and rigid, I am quite fond of my current dietary preferences.

Here is a little graphic I created to show how having various levels of attachment impacts behavior.  Having an identity level of an attachment to food significantly impacts my flexibility.

I wonder though how many of the food preferences I still have aren’t serving me as well as the ones I’ve gravitated to.  For example, I used to be a big fan of Manuka Honey. I thought it was required to keep my gut biome in balance and I had it in my tea every morning.  But I haven’t used it consistently for a while and I’m still fine.  Because my brain health is uber important to me, and brain health is a direct relationship to blood sugar levels over time, I’ve dialed back on requiring honey in my tea in the AM – it’s just not required anymore.

No wonder a dietician’s job can be quite challenging – most people are very attached to their dietary preferences.  I might relax some of my less healthy attachments to make Kate’s job a little easier.  I love myself enough to at least consider it.

Kate’s comment: Food attachments (AKA dietary preferences) are a facet of human nature. Everyone has a food preference – the level of attachment will vary from person to person, but regardless, they are elements to work around and work with for a well-rounded diet. Sometimes, extremely strong food attachments are related more to controlling our lives as a whole than controlling food. By being discerning about what we put in our bodies, we are able to stabilize at least one aspect of our lives. When food attachments get too extreme, step back and look at what is going on in your life – is there something upsetting that is out of your control?

Weight Weight Just Love Me – Zealots – Day 5

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

My Food Zealot Practices Require Numerous Gadgets - Note the pizza stone, mixer, ice cream maker, blender, meat grinder, dehydrator and gas range. Loving my zealot self today.

My Food Zealot Practices Require Numerous Gadgets – Note the pizza stone, mixer, ice cream maker, blender, meat grinder, dehydrator and gas range. Loving my zealot self today.

In the it takes one to know one department, today I’m going to love my zealot self.  My zealotry though is all about me doing what is right for me and I full well recognize it may not be right for others.  I love the Salon article that points out why folks gravitate to a variety of fad diets and the superiority people feel when they approach their dietary preference as the right and just way to live.  I’m sure we’ve all seen it – Paleo Patty while munching on steak bites extolling the virtues of eating just like our cavemen predecessors and how it has helped her get back to her junior high school weight.  Or Vegan Vanessa promoting her latest cleanse – didn’t you know your colon is holding decades of debris that must come out?   Then there is the new religious decree – though shall not eat gluten.  Gluten causes brain fog, belly bloating, and is generally responsible for the destruction of all of life as we know it.

Who amongst us has not fallen prey to the emotional tugs of these superior beings? As a scientist, I prefer having the solid scientific evidence, peer reviewed journal summaries, evidence based medicine and seeing the ORIGINAL research that discovered the finding.  I also like to know who funded the original research and what were their interests.  And then take the discussion from there.

I am though a zealot in my own way having discovered the dietary practices that work for ME.  Yes I feel virtuous (not superior) by sprouting my organic grains and making my own bread, AND I put in an ample amount of gluten so it rises.  I also toss in my sour dough starter so it has an even bigger boost of digestive enzymes in it.   I feel better when I take the time to eat fermented organic veggies as it boosts my digestive enzymes and helps my gut so I don’t get stomach upsets (I used to have stomach acid reflux but I don’t anymore since I don’t eat commercial breads and eat raw sauerkraut several times a week).  And I feel like an absolute rock star with my chicken bone broth I make from organic pasture raised chickens I pick up on a farm in Vancouver, Washington.   My chicken bone broth though is what has brought my liver enzyme tests back into the normal and healthy range.  I also feel elevated to new realms of being by drinking organic raw milk and making yogurt from that raw milk as it’s completely fixed my stomach lining.  (It also helps that it’s somewhat illegal in places as I love to break rules).  I even strain my homemade yogurt and use the whey that comes from this straining to make organic beet kvass – a fermented drink the Russian Army has used for centuries to prevent their troops from catching contagious diseases.  And I feel enlightened to previous versions of me making my own sausages from the organically raised meats I source from local farmers I visit and see how they care for their livestock.  Yes I sound like a caricature out of the TV show Portlandia – and this is who I am.  I’m quite picky about what I eat – but I’m not Paleo, I’m not Gluten Free and I’m most certainly NOT a Vegan.  The one time I tried a Vegan diet for ten days a hawk came and wiped out all my chickens.  It was gruesome.  I do what I’ve found helps me stay a superior version of me that is  healthy and happy.

I’m an unapologetic zealot (aren’t all zealots unapologetic?).   But my unique food zealotry is for me – it’s how I enjoy moving through the world.  However others prefer to move through the world is their choice.  I am fine preparing meals with and for Paleo, Gluten Free, and Vegan foodies when they visit.   It’s just I have my own zealotroy of choice and well, it’s superior to those – FOR ME.  Become your own superior zealot self as well – download the free Cheetah Smart Start Guide for the PMP.

Weight Weight Just Love Me – Finding My Truth – Day 4

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Searching for my truth high and low.

Searching for my truth high and low.

I get bombarded daily with different information on what is a healthy weight.  My dietitian Kate just emailed me a recent article on how even thinking you are over weight increased your weight.  And I’ve read articles recently on how being over weight is actually the healthier state of affairs, especially in the rampant cancer environment we live in.  My own personal experience with this is having had a mother who was petite her whole life and worked it hard only to die prematurely of brain cancer vs. a father who had a more cavalier approach to his diet, was what conventional wisdom would have us believe was over weight most of his adult life and is still going strong well into his 80’s.

So I’m wondering how do I sort out what is true for ME? In this pursuit to love myself more, I am going to start to base it on how does the information I’m receiving make me feel.  Do I feel more loved or do I feel shamed, judged and less than?  If I feel more loved, then the information is the truth for me.  As do we really know anyhow with all this contradictory information that gets released almost daily?

The prevailing “wisdom” is that shaming people motivates them.  But it has never motivated me and I’m not sure if it has ever motivated anyone else either. What it does do though is make me feel bad about myself where my go to behavior is to comfort myself with some type of starchy gooey, sugary comfort food.  PLUS, if someone is threatening to make me go without something I love, it makes sense I’m going to crave what they are telling me needs to go away.  I just don’t find the value in the whole body shaming movement with weight loss.  And thank god neither does my dietician as she encourages me to indulge myself from time to time.  And surprise surprise surprise, I just have not been that inclined to do so.  And if I do, I just have a little – I don’t secretly scarf down a whole package of oreos.

In my last encounter with a western medicine doctor, I went to see an endocrinology surgeon about getting my adrenal tumor removed as there was a theory that that was what had caused my weight issue,   Well he looks at me and says – “Lady you are really healthy.  I mean really healthy.   I see people in my office every day who are close to death and you are no where close to death.  We’ll run all the tests on your tumor but I’m telling you this – I don’t think it needs to come out.  We don’t really know about what is a healthy weight and I think your biggest issue is you need to learn how to accept yourself.”   I felt so great after that visit – and instead of going home, feeling bad about myself and reaching for a cookie, I went home and rode my bike.

So in this habit change to love myself more, I’m going to tap more into what is my truth based on how I feel about what I’m reading or hearing from others.  If I feel shamed, bad, like I am somehow wrong or less than, or embarrassed, then it is not my truth.   When I feel loved, expanded, excited and good about myself – it’s the truth for me.

Kate’s comment: I’m glad that you brought this up – while weight is a predictor of future health and can be a precursor to health issues, there are other parameters that are more telling of future health. For example, labs like hemoglobin A1C (to see how sugary your blood is), cholesterol labs, blood pressure, and functional health are clearer predictors of future disease status, like heart disease or diabetes. I have a feeling this is what your doctor was talking about when he was describing your health. Shaming and scaring is no fun – plus I get the sense that most of us are rebellious and like to break rules that are set for us. No rules to be broken = better compliance.

Michelle’s Reply – I don’t even like my own rules sometimes.  Rules feel constricting rather than expansive but isn’t a rule not to have any rules a rule?  Maybe the rule needs to be no vegetables – you can only eat cookies.  Then eating vegetables and not eating the cookies would be breaking the rules.

Weight Weight Just Love Me – A Cautionary Tale – Day 3

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

I was recently visiting my family and they were watching the reality TV show – “My Big Fat Life.”   My sister and her partner over the past two years have given up sugar and carbs and each lost about 80 pounds.   A remarkable weight loss effort.  They watch “My Big Fat Life” as a cautionary tale to encourage themselves to stay the course with their weight loss efforts.

Reflections May Not Be Accurate Indicator of Who You Are

Reflections May Not Be Accurate Indicator of Who You Are

It didn’t have the same impact on me – what I saw was so much self – loathing behavior and body shaming on the show.  It was as if these people’s very existence was being treated as if they were absolute failures as human beings.  The question though – Is this is how I view myself?   How much does my own fat bias extend to me?

Fast forward a couple days later – I’m at the airport with my photographer.  This woman has been working with me for ten years for my businesses.  She takes such amazing pictures of me – I always look so fantastic. Now whenever I hear someone complain how they look in photos, I say – it’s because you need a better photographer.  My photographer is stunningly beautiful – she was one of the first bum models for Banana Republic (it’s probably why she captures such great images).  She had a brief interaction with a counter agent from American Airlines – the agent was so incredibly rude to her – far more rude than anything I’ve ever had to experience.  Is there a greater bias these days for being beautiful than for being heavy?   Who amongst us has not experienced some level of judgement based on our looks – regardless of what those looks are?  And who has not been their own worst critic at times?

I agree with what Matt Kahn says – the way to increase the amount of love in the world is to start with myself.  If how we perceive the world is a reflection of how we perceive ourselves, spending sometime creating a different reflective frame makes sense.  We all create our own perceptions, experiences, and preferences (restrictions, limits, and expansions as well) – whether we are conscious of it or not.  So, I’m going to reframe how I see those folks on the reality show – “My Big Fat Life.”  Here are brave souls who love themselves and want to experience life in some new ways.  The same is true for me.

Kate’s comment: Body-shaming is so disappointing – people feel that it’s their right to judge others’ bodies. It also makes being brave to experience life in new ways very difficult, as a portion of our identities are based on others’ perceptions of us. Therefore, if body shaming is occurring all around us, it can be difficult to tune it out and listen to our own identities. Good for you for ignoring the haters and determining your own identity – and changing it as you go, however you see fit.

Weight Weight Just Love Me – Five to One – Day 2

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

The current market for weight loss products and services is over $60 billion dollars per year in the US.  To earn that $60 billion dollars means the businesses in that field need to convince us we need them. So throughout the day we are pounded by messages from a wide variety of mediums (including well meaning family, friends, colleagues, strangers and especially health care professionals) that being over weight is not healthy and we need to take action immediately to avoid all sorts of potential risks and/or to be more attractive (therefore more lovable).  While there is a trend in body positive messaging, the ratio of fat shaming to body positive messages is still well over 99 to 1 in favor of fat shaming.

My Dietician Has a New Mojo for the New Millennium - Amplify Your Innate Goodness, Ignore the Rest.

My Dietitian Has a New Mojo for the New Millennium - Amplify Your Innate Goodness, Ignore the Rest.

Research shows, to have a happy relationship with your partner you need to have five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. In my relationships, I aspire to 100 positive to 1 negative (if there need to be any negative interactions at all).  But what about the relationship with myself?  Granted when you truly value yourself, others cannot devalue you, BUT, we are so ingrained by the messaging all around us including that of well meaning associations that it’s hard not to adopt it on ourselves.  I even hear people in great shape talking negatively about their bodies.  How are we supposed to have a good relationship with ourselves with all this external negativity, including negative self talk?

I have very much enjoyed working with my dietitian daughter Kate as she takes a much different approach than this shame and blame game. She instead focuses on all the positive things I’ve been doing to take such great care of myself.  And we amplify those to experience what it’s like to truly value myself, regardless of what others see, feel or experience.  Why put energy and thought form into what we do not want?

So here is my body positive self talk I’m going to pivot too every time I have a negative thought about my body and repeat these five truths about how I value myself:

1. I consistently take great care of myself.

2. My body and mind are incredible with how they help me experience so much of life.

3. I enjoy and appreciate the body and mind I inhabit.

4. It’s amazing how well I can do yoga these days and how great my body feels.

5. I am healthy, strong, confident, and have great stamina.

Thanks Kate for reminding me all the ways I’m of value and how I’m doing great with your program.

Kate’s comment: Such a shame that negative comments ever have to happen. I’m glad you’re loving thyself. Living any other way would be a waste of time! Why can’t everyone else abide by the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” – even if it’s simply in advertising? Also – that picture of me makes me look like I enjoy dancing in my lab coat and sterile gloves (I was taking a cholesterol sample).

Thanks Kate – I’m not sure how it would even matter to me what someone else thought about me or said about me – even an entire 60 billion dollar industry.  I’m wondering where else in my life have I been as hijacked by the mass media hysteria?  This is quite an interesting retrospective.

Weight Weight Just Love Me – Kick Off

Monday, September 21st, 2015
The Reason To Spend 66 Days Creating The Habit of Fully Loving and Accepting Myself

The Reason To Spend 66 Days Creating The Habit of Fully Loving and Accepting Myself

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

My youngest daughter recently became a practicing dietitian in our small town. Of course, I signed on to have her practice on me. I’ve after all been modifying my diet for her since I learned of her existence. When I was pregnant with her, during one of my routine pregnancy check ups early in my second trimester, I had elevated blood sugar. I asked the doc to give me two weeks to adopt a low glycemic diet and then to do the more rigorous four hour test to see if I had gestational diabetes. The one agreement I had to make to get this two weeks was I would need to stay on this diet for the duration of the pregnancy. I kept my word, maintained healthy blood sugar levels and had a healthy 7 pound 13 ounce baby girl.

Fast forward now 23 years later and here she is a licensed dietician encouraging me to adopt a very similar diet I did when I was pregnant with her. You see, I’ve gained almost five pounds a year since the divorce when she was three. Life was stressful for me as a single mom, then a business owner, then then then then. And yes, I’ve heard all the lectures. We were actually considering calling this series – Weight Weight, Don’t Lecture Me. But I realized I aspired to a much higher level of interaction with people then simply not to lecture me, I want to be loved for who I am.

While according to conventional medical thoughts of today, I’m significantly overweight.  Yet,  I’m healthy and active. Lab tests evaluating cholesterol, blood sugar etc. are normal. I became a registered yoga teacher last year, work out with a personal trainer, swim several times a week and walk an average of three miles a day. And I primarily only eat foods I make myself from organic produce and live stock – I do not eat anything processed.  I’ve lived this way for almost a decade.

I have tried to “fix” this weight issue every way imaginable (those of you who struggle with a similar challenge I’m sure you know what I’ve been through). About seven years ago, evaluating the source of extremely high blood pressure, a CT scan found a tumor the size of a golf ball on my adrenal gland. After many tests, it was determined to be benign and not causing many problems. While this could be the source of excess weight, nope– my cortisol levels are “normal.” And since I’m so healthy, the last surgeon I saw for this a couple months ago suggested I learn to accept myself for how I am.

Since research shows it takes 66 days to change a habit (or create a new one), I’m going to spend the next 66 days adopting the habit of completely loving and accepting myself just the way I am, weight that I am and all. Yes, I’m still going to follow the program and the goals my daughter dietician and I have set out to follow – AND I’m going to do it with the good natured joie de vivre I pursue all of life.  As she says, the program I am doing with her is NOT about losing weight, it’s about getting and staying healthy. And getting and staying healthy is loving and accepting myself exactly as I am.

Kate’s comment: I’m so excited to start this journey with you – thanks for including me! Lets get this love-a-pallooza on a roll.