Thursday, March 31, 2011
This time of year is jam packed with friendly get-togethers, office parties and family celebrations. All of which are exciting on one hand and somewhat problematic on the other. For many of us who work hard all year to stay fit and watch our weight, these are challenging times indeed. No one wants to gain 8-15 lbs. between Halloween and New Year's Day, but millions of Americans will do just that. Now, more than any other time of the year, it is crucial to be mindful, stay active and work out a few techniques to prevent becoming one of those statistics.
If a regular training schedule is not something you have locked into your weekly plan, do it and do it now. Those who are on track with this, kudos to you and for heaven's sake, keep it up. Two to three regular workouts each week are mandatory for maintaining one’s health, energy level, weight and sanity. There is absolutely no health insurance available that is more valuable or effective than having a consistent fitness routine. People who exercise regularly have over 50% fewer visits to their doctors per year. Many people say, “I don’t have time for that.” I say, “If you don’t make time to take care of yourself now you will eventually face a future fraught with illness, low to no energy and unbearable amounts of stress.” It sounds blunt or even cruel but it is the truth and the truth can set you free. Often however, not before genuinely ticking you off.
I don’t know many people who genuinely want to be held fully responsible. Unfortunately, there is just no other viable alternative. The majority do not want to take responsibility for their health and well-being but there simply is no one else who REALLY can. It seems easier to ignore the symptoms and hand our power and problems over to the medical professionals. But in the long run, this is a recipe for disaster. I’m talking about the quality of our lives, not just in this red hot minute but projecting down the road 10, 20, 40 years from now. It is my plan to be one of those people who are clear minded, vibrant and independent late in life versus one who has to sit, incapacitated and watch life go by because of being too busy to care for myself as I need to. How about you?
#1 Tool: Get to the gym or on your treadmill, exercise bike or stepper and treat that time you have allotted for exercise as the valuable and critical self-care time it is....nothing takes precedence over that time. NOTHING!
#2 Tool: Eat a healthy meal before attending each party. Go there fully satisfied with the clear intention that you will be extremely selective. Choose the smallest plate available. Review the entire food selection before making your choices and then take tiny little tastes instead of large full servings.
#3 Tool: Sit down and pay attention to the enjoyable foods you are savoring. Eat slowly and mindfully.
#4 Tool: Alcoholic beverages are nothing more than empty calories and are void of any nutrients. They are high in sugar and contain an enormous amount of calories. If you wish to have them, drink them slowly and alternate a glass of water or sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime so that it will feel more ‘cocktail-like.’
#5 Tool: Remember the reason for the season. Savor the abundance of brotherly love, family, connection to God, Spirit or the Higher Power of your choice. It’s really not about gorging our bodies but rather about honoring our eternal lives. Bask in opportunities to share in the diverse relationships these gathering afford, spanning from acquaintances to your most intimate love. Spend this time connecting with those who mean the most to you and that means connecting with yourself as well. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
As autumn is winding down and quickly turning into winter, this time of year brings a mixed bag of emotions for many of us. When we were children, we began to notice those excitement butterflies slowly building as the time grew closer; keenly aware of the magic of this time of year. This was a time filled with family get-togethers, wonderful foods that appeared only throughout this season, crackling fires, and fun traditions of heartwarming times spent with family and good friends. The belief in Santa caused us to dream and hope for toys and goodies with the expectation that anything was possible. Once those pre-pubescent years passed, however, many of us began to shift into more troublesome thoughts around the holiday season. Not right away, but gradually over time, until one day we woke up with an actual sense of dread. This so saddens me, but it is the case for many, many people.
As long as we are clear-minded, we have the opportunity to think about anything and everything in ways that not only serve us more productively, but cause us to feel uplifted. The detrimental effect of negative thoughts on our overall health is no secret. Everything from ulcers to heart disease is now being linked to our predominant mental attitude. How we choose to approach life IS EVERYTHING ! So, as the holidays move closer, how about choosing to think as positively as possible about them? The average American gains between 8-12 pounds between Oct. 31st and Jan. 2nd. YOU do not need to be one of them! It is important to devise a game plan and then work that plan to the letter. Here's how:
#1.) Make the DECISION to head off negative thoughts around the holidays. Every time you catch yourself saying things to yourself or others such as, “I can’t help but gain weight during the holidays" or, "All the holidays mean for me is increased stress and a widening waist" or, "I get so busy that I simply cannot get to the gym” or any number of the thousands of negative, berating, victim-behavior programming we tell ourselves. Choice is the key and at every turn we can make a healthy one. Even if it feels like a fib, soften your inner dialog by looking for something more positive to focus on. Softening your thoughts will pay dividends.
#2.) DO NOT let your busy schedule throw you off your workout routine. Now more than ever we need to remain loyal to our health and fitness commitments. The stress alone during this time of year is reason to stay on track at the gym. There is nothing more beneficial for alleviating stress than a good workout. Endorphin (feel good) hormones are released through training, and toxic adrenalin is flushed out. Our immune systems are bolstered, our metabolism stays elevated, and our demeanor improves. The wiggle room we are afforded by having consistent workouts is tremendous, allowing us the enjoyment of holiday feasts. Having built up your musculature over the past months and years, your metabolism is running more efficiently. Your tendency to gain weight from occasional overindulging is much less likely because your body is functioning overall in a more efficient manner.
#3.) The bottom line is this: none of us does anything, under any circumstances, for any other reason than we simply expect to feel better. Choose uplifting thoughts, decide to never postpone your joy, commit to making choices based on how it feels, being aware that if feels good it is because it IS the RIGHT thing to be doing. Happiness is an inside job. It takes awareness and the decision to take responsibility for oneself. Make your decision to enjoy the holidays sensibly, to remain consistent with you fitness program and to cut the negative programming off at the pass. You will begin 2011 with a joy-filled heart, clothes that still fit and a new-found sense of control over your happiness. You deserve the freedom found through becoming a conscious thinker and doer. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
It is my experience that the things I can bring to fruition in my life are always those things I have a concrete belief in. In other words, I only get what I EXPECT to get, nothing more, and nothing less. Check this out in your own life. Pick any topic, be it your weight, your overall health, your financial situation, your relationships, your employment or anything else. Now, as objectively as you can, look at the statements you make regularly around that subject. You know, the self-talk that is going on inside your head 24/7. I believe you will find that your beliefs, consistent thoughts and opinions match the outcome you are presently living. In fact, I would bet on it because it cannot be any other way. The only time things can begin to shift is when our deeply held beliefs begin to soften, come into question and/or our grip on them loosens. It is at these critical junctures that we can experience ‘something new, something improved.’
Say for instance you are going to work out and weight loss has been an ongoing goal. You haven’t seen any weight loss for some time. Evaluate your dialog around that issue. Typically you will find yourself thinking thoughts like, “I have been at this awhile now and yet I have little to show for it, my weight is stuck, it never budges. I work out consistently and with a fair amount of intensity, and for what? This is useless.” Your results are giving you a perfect match to your expectations and if you don’t make a concerted effort to choose a more positive spin, well, you are fighting an uphill battle that you will lose. Another possible scenario could be that your employment is less than satisfactory. Look at the inner conversation you have with yourself that speaks of your present beliefs regarding your job. I can promise you that they go something like this: “My boss has no idea how talented I really am, I feel so useless here, this work is so boring, monotonous and lame, I wish I could make more money but in this economy I can forget it.” Again, the expectations are holding the present circumstances in place and if positive change is to happen, it will require a serious mental pattern overhaul.
How do you begin? Start today to tell yourself what you really want and why you want it. This will set change into motion. Forget the 'how' and 'when' altogether. Forget the reasons why it hasn’t happened and focus EXCLUSIVELY on the pleasure of having achieved your goal as though it has already come to be. Things have a way of magically shifting as we make the effort to remove the negative charge and replace it with a positive one. Expect things to improve by reminding yourself that there are people all over the world achieving and living in the bodies of their dreams, working at jobs they love and making plenty of money RIGHT NOW! The only real difference between them and you is that they expect things to go well, expect their employers to appreciate them and KNOW that they are successful. The most difficult piece to this puzzle is the learning to tell yourself a ‘new’ story. Yes, that is essentially what we do all day long...we tell ourselves old worn out stories that do not serve us. Become aware of your story and begin to shift it. First in small, subtle ways so you can get used to the idea and so that it doesn’t feel like flat out lies. A belief is simply a thought you have thought and thought and thought upon until the evidence showed up to support it. So why not use that to your advantage?
This may sound a bit far-fetched but I have had great success with this strategy, as have many of my clients. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. So begin choosing your thoughts carefully...be selective. Decide that you are going to let go of all the excuses and negative self-talk and put that energy into placing a positive slant on ‘it’, not just once but constantly every time that subject crosses your mind. Do it and do it over and over until you begin to believe it. When you reach that point, watch out, positive change is inevitable. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Something I have witnessed in friends, family members, clients and the hardest of all, myself, is that what we resist, persists...every time. Usually we are not aware that we are in that mode of pushing against, in fact we believe that we are doing everything we know to do to ‘let go.’ Yet, deep down in our subconscious the opposite is hard at work. There is a part of us that 1.) is getting something out of “X behavior” and 2.) that part of us is doing so out of fear. Yes, these are difficult pills for our egos to swallow and they hate to ever admit they are standing in the way of our growth, improved health or new and better life. The mind games we play with ourselves to rationalize, justify and condone are downright scary. If you have an issue that you have been working on for a while (and for some of us it’s been a very long while), you may want to consider what this article has to offer.
It doesn’t matter whether we are facing a weight loss issue, a fitness (or lack thereof) issue, a financial issue, a relationship issue, or any other. The first step is always to become willing. Willing to look and look hard at what is happening and then, the big one, take responsibility for it. My belief is that there are no victims. A bold statement, I know. But in a world where information is at our fingertips and the media is constantly providing us with scientifically researched approaches and proof, along with the how’s and why’s, most still plead ignorance. For those, however, who are sick and tired of being sick and tired and are ready to admit that no matter where they look at their lives, there is only one common denominator, self; for those courageous ones, here are recommendations that really do work.
Our greatest teacher, hands down, is experience. Personal experience convinces us beyond the shadow of any doubt. Therefore, it is paramount that as you begin to experience positive changes in your life, please, write it down. This way when your ego comes back to rationalize it away--and it will, you can point out the undeniable truth in writing. Next, it is a proven fact that humans learn through repetition. We must be willing to repeat a positive behavior, thought pattern or food plan with great consistency, and persistence. It is always the repetition that allows the new approach to slowly sink into our subconscious and gradually become our new ‘belief.’ Of course, the ego is going to be pushing against this, which is why awareness is your second greatest tool. As you see and feel the ego, its unwillingness, its possible need to sabotage you, just bless it, yes, bless it for all the good ways it does serve you. Then gently remind it that you are in charge and busy creating a healthier way of life. Remember that in the past, the ego won and you yourself lost. As the old tapes ran and the ego convinced you otherwise, change didn’t occur, and you did not succeed with your positive endeavor. It is futile to argue with the ego, so simply acknowledge that it is an important part of you. However, YOU are the Captain of the ship. Ignore the ranting by affirming that you are aware, willing and busily creating a stronger, healthier self. Persevere along your path of action for 4-8 weeks and I can promise you that YOU WILL PREVAIL! Over and over again you must be willing to see yourself fighting against, and ignoring, past limitations. We cannot ever expect to create something new by repeating old, broken patterns and behaviors. It’s up to you to want it badly enough to fight for it, be consistent and break down the old in order to make room for the new. You are worthy of well-being on all levels, but you are the only one who can convince yourself of that truth. Start small and work your way up to the larger issues. If you keep putting one foot in front of the other you will be blessed with the benefits of a fit and healthy mind, body and spirit. Happy fitness to all.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Whether we are conscious of it or not, seasonal change affects us mentally, physically and emotionally. Some of the changes are hardwired, formed through thousands of years of evolution while some of the changes we experience are unique to each of us. There are those people who seem completely unaffected and maybe that is their belief. But personally, and as witness to hundreds of clients over the years, people are dealing with change. As always, we can go with the flow or dig in our heels and use it as an excuse to struggle. Change is constant, but struggle is optional.
I recommend taking an afternoon in the very near future to sit quietly in one of your favorite places, breathe several deep cleansing breaths and then ask yourself these simple questions. #1.) Is autumn a time that inspires me to get busy and plan out the hectic events that the coming season holds in store or does this time of year cause me to feel a bit melancholy? As we move into cooler weather patterns and shorter days, some of us feel invigorated and energized and others feel sort of blue knowing that it will soon be cold and dark by 5:30pm. Neither is good or bad, it is what is the truth for each of us. I’m exploring this to simply help create an awareness of those forces that are, in general, impinging on our moods and attitudes. Awareness is the first step to comfortably allowing oneself to move gracefully into the flow of life versus bucking the current. #2.) Do you feel a little unsettled or anxious as fall approaches or are you eager and excited for the change in season? Noticing our internal mood on a day-to-day basis is important and allows us to make intelligent, healthy choices based on what allows us to honor our internal rhythms. The body is constantly sending us messages and tuning in is a very healthy practice to develop. It is normal for many people at this time of year to find themselves feeling edgy. As long as we are willing to acknowledge this and be gentle with ourselves, we can then take steps that do not force us or unnecessarily stress us. When we take the actions that nurture ourselves as change occurs, we usually find ourselves moving into the winter months feeling peaceful and relaxed. #3.) Does your exercise routine have to take on a whole new design as you are forced to retreat indoors throughout the fall and winter months? If so, does that aggravate you or do you feel eager for the change of pace? Again, no harm in either reaction, just an awareness so you can take the appropriate steps to make it a smooth transition. Sometimes it is easiest to work out in the out-of-doors as long as weather permits and sometimes it just feels best to take your workouts inside with the resolve to change it up and do something really fresh.
There are other questions you may come up with to explore regarding how the seasonal changes impact your internal climate. Remember that there is no right or wrong here. While it is true that we are all made of the same materials, we are completely unique in terms of our personal perspectives. What makes each of us tick is a combination of our upbringing, our experiences throughout our lives and our conditioning. That means we each see, hear and experience the same world in entirely different ways and that is just perfect. As we remember that we can only be responsible for our own thoughts, words, and deeds, we let go of our need to control all the myriad of things that are out of our control. Tending to our personal well-being is a large enough task for most of us, and for those of you who have the added responsibility of children and/or aging family members, remind yourself often that this too is temporary and always changing. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.