Week Four: Self-Pity Versus Self-Care

This is the fourth installment of the I Can. We Can. blog series by Fitness Firestarter, Kathy Palokoff, and Coach Extraordinaire, Carolyn A. Brent.


 I came back from Montreal feeling confident about my new lifestyle changes.  I had walked 24 miles and eaten according to my vegetarian plan.  Quite simply, I had nailed it. Two days later I inhaled a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream and three bowls of Captain Crunch cereal. What the hell happened?

 I think I can sum it up in one hyphenated word. Self-pity.  I was wallowing in it.  This is what I believe triggered my self-pity fest:

  •  I had a really bad cold, which prevented me from going to the gym and made me long to eat all my favorite comfort foods. And geez,  I had been taking care of myself. Eating well, taking vitamins, exercising.  I didn’t deservea cold.  I had earned the right to feel good. 
  • I got on a scale (against the clear and strong advice of Carolyn) and had only lost seven pounds.  Seven pounds!  That was such a tiny bit of my mountain of a weight loss goal.  I had worked so hard.  I deserved a bigger weight loss. I had earnedit. 
  • I had hit the 30-day mark that in the past had always been a barrier. I didn’t care.  This losing weight stuff is hard. I deserved a break. I had earned it.

Strange words – deserve and earn.  I have the power to use them against me in a self-pity state.   That’s what I had always done in the past when it came to taking care of my physical body.  

I deserved a treat.  I earned a break from exercising. My heart had been broken by some guy, and I deserved to sit home pigging out in front of the television. I was working so hard that I earned a night of debauchery.

But here’s the catch.  It never made me feel better – maybe a bit temporarily – but there was always this sense of failure and not being the strong woman that I am. And inevitably it led to a downward spiral with more weight gain and more self-pity and more weight gain and more self-pity. Not pretty.

But this time I have Carolyn’s voice booming in my head. Actually, Carolyn does not boom; she repeats and repeats and repeats until it finally sinks in.  

“Kathy, turn self-pity into self-care.” 

And I made a commitment to Carolyn that I would do this.  I believe in her book and helped her reach her dream as an author. She believes in me as a Fitness Firestarter and is standing by my side no matter what. There was no scolding after my “confession” of my self-pity indulgence.  All she wanted to know was what I had learned and what I will do differently.  Smart coach.

So I am back into self-care mode. It feels better. And I have learned something important about calories that I will share with you next week.


First of all, thank you for sharing your truth. There is nothing more potent than acknowledgment. You are very aware of your what, where, and why. 

Being sick can be a massive distraction from any wellness and workout regimen. Most importantly, being sick can trigger self-pity, depression, and thoughts of looking for “comfort” often in unhealthy food choices.  

The tongue can be very tricky, and often when one is sick, most foods will never provide the “feel-good” taste one is searching for. That is why the ice cream wasn’t enough, and the first bowl of cereal did not do it either.  

“Kathy, you are ready to become the authority of your life and take back the control over your mind, body, and spirit.”  

You must remind yourself daily of what good really feels like. Think about when you were on vacation, and you continued taking care of yourself. That’s how you can continue to earn the right of feeling good. Just remember, we all experience triggers that may cause us to fall. Just get back up and start where you left off. 

If self-care were easy, then everyone would be healthy. But, the fact is you’ve got to get laser-focused with intentional action every single day by having your wellness game plan on point. 

I am happy to hear that you have learned from your experience and what you will do differently when you are faced with a trigger. Next time, you will be ready with the following go-to tips. It’s excerpted from “Tricks to Turn Down Your Appetite” by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD on WebMD. 

  1. Bulk up your meals. There’s a lot of evidence that bulk — that is, fiber — reduces appetite.
  2. Cool off your appetite with soup. Have a “bowl” of broth or vegetable-based soup. 
  3. Crunch your appetite away with a big salad. 
  4.  Stay on course. A little bit of variety in our meals is tasty and even healthful.
  5. An orange or grapefruit a day helps keep appetite away. 
  6. Get milk (or other low-fat dairy foods). 
  7. Have some fat with your carbs — but not too much!
  8. Enjoy some soy. Soybeans offer protein and fat along with carbohydrates.
  9. Go nuts. Nuts help you feel satisfied because of their protein and fiber content. Just A handful.
  10. Slow down, you’re eating too fast. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is officially “comfortable” and that you should stop eating. 

Finally, your insights into the words “deserve” and “earn” were insightful.   It is fascinating that two words have so much impact on how you act. I believe strongly that the words others use against us have power, but the words we use against ourselves are unbelievably more powerful. 

“I am not worth it.” “I can’t.” “I give up.” We have all used those words against ourselves at some point in our life, and the results can be crushing. On the flip side, words of rejoicing and determination help us achieve our aspirations. “I am beautiful inside and out.” “I love myself.” “I am so worth it.” “It’s not over.” I can do this.” “Yes, I can.” 

I am excited to read about what you have to share with us about calories in our next blog.

(Learn more about Kathy Palokoff). 

Learn more about Carolyn’s other work. Visit: AcrossAll Ages.com and CatalogEmpower Learning with Educational-Focused Content 🌎 Carolyn A. Brent is an award-winning and bestselling American author, bodybuilder and eldercare legislation advocate. Designated as an Editor’s Choice, she was reviewed by the Library Journal as well. Verdict: excellent! Her work grace the bookshelves both national and international libraries such as The Library of Congress, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins Medical Research Library, Stanford University and more. Harlequin | Thorndike Press —Gale, A Cengage Company, has made it available in LARGE print and hardcover to colleges, universities, and libraries nationwide.

Brent is also known as a National Physique Committee (NPC) Masters Women’s Figure Champion—1st Place Winner Age 60 category; and Health & Wellness Guru. She is the founder of Across All Ages and two nonprofit organizations, CareGiverStory Inc., and Grandpa’s Dream.


About Carolyn Brent

Dr. Carolyn A. Brent, is an award-winning bestselling author and a National Physique Committee (NPC) Masters Women's Figure Champion at age 60. She is an expert on both self-care and caregiving; she is the founder of Across All Ages and two nonprofit organizations, CareGiverStory Inc. and Grandpa's Dream. Carolyn's research and extensive collection of published works have made her a notable figure in her field. For seventeen years, she worked for some of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies and has worked as a volunteer at various assisted-living facilities. Her award-winning books include The Caregiver's Companion: Caring for Your Loved One Medically, Financially and Emotionally While Caring for Yourself and The Caregiver's Legal Survival Guide: Navigating through the Legal System.

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