Be Light and Healthy

Posts Tagged ‘awareness

“Many of us are frightened to look within ourselves, and fear has us put up walls so thick we no longer remember who we really are.” Debbie Ford

Walls.  They enclose our living spaces and serve as barriers to shelter us from nature’s elements.  They insulate us from the cold and shield us from the burning sun.  They provide comfort and security.  Their solidity protects us, but if the walls are too thick or too many, they shut out life’s beauty.  The walls we maintain can be uplifting and nurturing.  Or, they can be restraining and limiting.  Attaining the right thickness and number of walls to protect us while nourishing us can be tricky. 

Walls manifest themselves in different ways in our lives.  There are mental, psychic/energetic walls, emotional walls, and physical walls.  The voices in our heads reinforce the mental and emotional walls.  If we speak to ourselves with kindness, we feel secure and happy within our walls. However, if we constantly speak with malice, it can be difficult to stop perpetuating a negative self-image and break out of the cycle.  Once you’re down, it can be difficult to get up.  You start to view everything that happens to you negatively and further provide the destructive voices in your head with additional building materials to reinforce your walls.  Eventually, you end up walking around like “Pigpen” enveloped in an energetic cloud of  darkness.   

Changing the voices in your mind can be difficult.  When we start to speak to ourselves with kindness, it may initially be hard to believe the uplifting messages.  You may even end up arguing with the voices in your head further fueling the pessimism.  Quieting the voices can also be scary because we find it disconcerting to be alone with ourselves in silence. Focusing on your breathing can help you quell the voices and lull you into a sense of calmness.  Once you enter a state of peacefulness, it is easier to introduce and believe the gentle voices in your head.  Spending time in silence can refresh your spirit and your mind thus helping to make you receptive to the caring voices of compassion waiting to dwell in your thoughts.   

For the most part, people know how to lose weight; however, there are a multitude of factors associated with weight. Yes, most people can consume fewer calories than they expend for a period of time.  There are, however, so many other factors involved that losing weight and sustaining the weight loss cannot be oversimplified and is different for everyone.  Many people use their excess weight to fortify their physical walls.  Hidden behind the wall of weight may be a life lesson that can only be unearthed by moving out of our comfort zones.  It may seem easier to settle or succumb to the drudgery of our lives than expose our vulnerabilities by looking at the problem from a different or deeper perspective.    

Carrying around extra weight may be a defense mechanism, a fortress subconsciously erected as protection.  Perhaps it was constructed in childhood when we weren’t equipped with the maturity necessary to understand situations where we didn’t fit in or didn’t know how to process our feelings.  When we encountered circumstances and felt fear, we reinforced the walls.  Instead of facing our fears, we stuffed ourselves full of food in an attempt to avoid them.  At the time it seemed easier than feeling hurt, alone, or vulnerable.  Instead of sitting and allowing the uncomfortable feelings to arise and be released, we attempted to avoid them.  Ultimately, we punished ourselves and reinforced the walls by adding more weight and perpetuating feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.  Sometimes it may seem easier to believe we are not capable of changing than to actually put forth the effort.   

Why are we so afraid to see who we really are?  The key to our natural essence lays buried under the excess weight.  If you began piling on extra weight as a child, think back to that time and consider if you were feeling out of place or vulnerable in the environment you grew up in.  Were well-meaning adults who believed they had your best interests at heart trying to shepherd you in a different direction?  Were some of your inherent traits viewed negatively by your family or inadvertently squashed?  Was food used to reward, comfort, or distract you from problems?  Recognizing how and why different aspects of your life originated will help you move forward in a new direction.    

Many of us have great difficulty seeing our own positive characteristics.  We tend to focus on what we perceive as negative traits.  If we reframe our perception of our negative traits, we may realize that they are actually positive traits that when accepted and integrated into our personalities help us solve the puzzle of our authentic selves.  As we grow older and succumb to difficulties we encounter as we journey through life, it’s easy to become weary and bury our innate natures.  Sometimes a positive trait, such as kindness, unknowingly gets hidden behind a wall that was built to protect us from the hurts we’ve encountered.  Without awareness we may not recognize that the trait has been repressed and may even be annoyed by other’s kindness because subconsciously we realize that we’ve inadvertently buried this trait.   

When it comes to disassembling your walls, different approaches work for different people at different times in their lives.   The first step is awareness that the walls you’ve constructed have become too thick or you’ve constructed extra walls that you no longer need.  Feeling enlightened by this awareness may be exhilarating, and you may feel compelled to crash through some of your walls.  For others, getting used to the idea of tearing down part of a wall may be the better approach.  You may choose to gingerly remove the wall brick by brick.  If you try one way and it doesn’t work, consider it a learning experience and try a different approach.  Celebrate the fact that you’ve become aware of your walls, chosen to make a change, and are taking steps towards accomplishing a new goal. 

I invite you to consider any walls in your life that are no longer necessary or have become so thick that you cannot see through them.  Becoming aware of the situations and experiences that contributed to their creation will help you begin removing them.  If you are using food as a comfort, reward, or distraction, consider other options to replace this behavior.  Sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing will help you acknowledge and release uncomfortable feelings making you more receptive to positive thoughts and energy in your life.  The key to the innate beauty each of us is born with lies buried deep within our walls.  In addition, I invite you to sign up for weekly e-mail updates www.belightandhealthy.com to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.  When you sign up, you will receive an e-mail requesting you confirm your subscription.  After you confirm, you will begin receiving updates.

Heroes

Posted on: May 29, 2011

“What we truly and earnestly aspire to be, that in some sense we are.  The mere aspiration, by changing the frame of the mind, for the moment realizes itself.”  Anna Jameson

Memorial Day is traditionally observed on the last Monday of May in the United States.  For many people it signifies the unofficial start of summer; however, more importantly, it is a day when we pause to remember the many heroes who died serving our nation.  I admire and am grateful for the individuals who serve in the military and are a part of something bigger than themselves.  Without their contributions, this country would not have been created and continued to thrive as an oasis of freedom in the world. 

When asked if we have any heroes, larger than life personalities may immediately come to mind, such as John F. Kennedy inspiring the nation to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960’s.  Heroes are people who we admire and inspire us, and they come in all shapes and sizes.  Upon further consideration, we may realize that there are many people in our lives who have unassumingly influenced us by sharing their unique gifts.  Anyone can be your hero, even a fictional character. 

I believe that everyone has qualities worth admiring, but sometimes they are deeply hidden.  Though not everyone chooses to serve in the military, there are many other opportunities to share our unique gifts with others enabling us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  As the world appears to get smaller in the technological era of social networking, it is more apparent than ever that each of has the capacity to affect the world.  We go through life without realizing the impressions we make on others with our words and actions.  A simple act of kindness or cruelty extended to one person can reverberate to others without us even being aware of it. 

Because human beings have such difficulty seeing both the negative and positive aspects of themselves, the prominent traits we observe in others provide a clue about our own qualities.  When we react strongly to a quality in another, it is often a sign that we recognize the same feature in ourselves and in essence are seeing a glimpse of our true selves.  Contemplating others’ traits that appeal or repel us may lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves.  When I find someone’s actions annoying, I take a moment to pause and consider why their behavior irritates me.  Often, I’m surprised to discover that they are more like me than I care to admit.  Conversely, this is also true of positive traits.   When we think about the people in our lives that we admire, it’s easy to verbalize why we think highly of them.  Different people admire the same person but for different reasons.  When you think of someone you hold in high esteem, what is the outstanding quality that immediately comes to mind?   Could it be the first characteristic that surfaces is one you are attracted to because it is an attribute that you possess?  It’s possible that it is currently latent, but you have the ability to nurture it.  When you see a quality in another that resonates with you, it’s life’s way of helping you see something in yourself. 

Our heroes are not meant to be put up on a pedestal or worshipped.  They are living examples of the potential we all possess.  Though the number of people you consider heroes may be small, there may be many people in your life who have characteristics that you aspire to emulate.  Sometimes the most difficult people in our lives teach us the most valuable lessons and turn out to be unexpected heroes when we pause to consider them holistically.  If you get annoyed with someone who is stubborn, pause and reflect on the positive aspects of that trait.  What at first glance may appear to be stubbornness may truly be a strong commitment to their beliefs.  Maybe you don’t share their viewpoints, but you may admire the person’s authenticity in expressing their opinion.  Or maybe you have trouble expressing your opinions with confidence and deep down wish you were more like them. 

People also unknowingly and subtly influence us by the examples they set as they live their lives.  Prior to losing 100 pounds, I recollect always taking note of people’s healthy lifestyle habits, such as healthy relationships with food and consistent exercise.  Though at the time, I didn’t think I was capable of this type of lifestyle, I always filed the information in the back of my mind.  At the time my mind didn’t believe I was capable of transforming my life, but I believe somewhere deep down in my heart I knew that I had the potential to do it.  When I decided to try incorporating some healthy changes into my life, the examples I had stockpiled in the back of my mind gently floated to the surface inspiring me and helping me cultivate my belief in myself. 

I can also remember occasions where a few words spoken in kindness have greatly influenced me.  I’m sure the people speaking the words had no idea of their impact and were simply sharing a genuine part of themselves and their wisdom.  If we’re open to others’ views, the right words spoken at the right time can heal and introduce us to new ways of thinking.  The power of encouraging words spoken enthusiastically to a child can build self-esteem; whereas, negative words can foster doubt in their abilities.  Words are very powerful, and choosing to speak with compassion and encouragement benefits you, the person you are addressing, and quite possibly, the world. 

I invite you to pause on Memorial Day to remember the heroes who gave their lives so we can live in freedom.  Spending some time reflecting on the people who inspire you and the qualities that resonate with you may reveal a clue to your hidden potential and what you aspire to be.  The simple act of living by example and extending kindness and compassion to others empowers us to give our lives to something bigger than ourselves.  Like a pebble thrown into a lake that creates waves that ripple outward to the entire lake, small acts of kindness reverberate around the planet affecting all of humanity.  In addition, I invite you to forward this blog to your friends and sign up for weekly e-mail updates at www.belightandhealthy.com to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.  When you sign up, you will receive an e-mail requesting you confirm your subscription.  After you confirm, you will begin receiving weekly updates.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”  Joseph Campbell

Remember when you were a kid and learned to ride a bike without the training wheels?  It was intimidating, scary, and exciting all at the same time.  I remember the bike wobbling as I pedaled down the driveway but feeling secure knowing that my dad was holding onto the back of the seat.  Just the thought of him letting go was frightening, but I trusted that he wouldn’t let go until I was ready.  Truth be told, I may never have felt ready for him to let go.  And if he hadn’t let go, I never would have learned to ride a bike.  Letting go can be scary for children and parents.  As children, our parents guide us and ease us into life’s transitions by building our confidence and creating a safe and secure environment while letting go of us a little at a time as we venture out into the world. 

As adults, letting go can be frightening.  The thought of creating a whole new life can be intimidating and overwhelming.  We become attached to ideas, habits, foods, activities, and people that may no longer serve our best interests.  Many of us don’t give these attachments a second thought and are unaware how they were formed until we pause for a moment and consider our history.  Many attachments are deeply rooted in our lives and developed slowly over time.  The familiarity of these aspects of our lives creates what at first glance appears to be a safe, cozy nest.  When we’re in the nest, especially if we’re surrounded by others like us, we feel a certain degree of comfort.  However, we may simultaneously experience an underlying feeling of unease.  Instead of thriving in the nests we’ve created, upon further examination we find that we are hiding in them and denying that deep in our hearts we are yearning for something more in our lives.    

If you have a desire for something better that keeps resurfacing, it’s because deep down you know you have the potential to achieve it.  It could be a desire for a new career, to spend time with others that share your views, or to embark upon a whole new healthy lifestyle.  If you’ve repeatedly tried to lose weight without success but cannot shake the desire, it is because that spark deep inside your heart refuses to be extinguished.  As long as it burns, you have the potential to accomplish your goal.  Do not let the mental chatter of your mind talk you out of it for your heart knows your true essence.  Let go of the negative thoughts and make room for the positive, nurturing thoughts that will put you on the path to success.  Instead of repeating the same methods that previously did not work for you, try something new.  If you instantly go into panic mode when you think about your weight, pause for a moment.  Take a deep breath and know that you are absolutely fine in this moment.  Then consider one small thing you can do to move you in the direction of your goal.  It could be as simple as leaving one bite behind on your plate, substituting one glass of water for soda, or parking one space further away from your destination.  Slowly incorporating new healthy behaviors into your life is a calming way to introduce change.  It will allow you to get comfortable with the new behavior thus easing the release of unhealthy habits and paving the way for new, healthy behaviors.  It will change the way you think and increase your self-confidence allowing you to slowly integrate new practices into your life and permitting them to become part of your routine like brushing your teeth.    

When I look back at my 100 pound weight loss journey, I cannot recall one big, pivotal moment.  One of my previous unsuccessful strategies was to pick a starting date to embark on a “life-changing” journey that involved extreme dieting and exercising and then dive right in.  I always chose this strategy out of fear – fear that if I didn’t do something extreme, I would keep gaining weight and never resolve my weight issues.  Though I’d initially experience success, I was unable to integrate the extreme demands I placed upon myself into my daily routine.  At this point the fear would predictably resurface and catapult me back to my old habits.  Instead of pausing to acknowledge and feel the fear, I would eat to quell it.  In contrast the beginning of my successful journey was a series of very small steps that enabled me to gently let go of the negative aspects of my unhealthy lifestyle.  Similar to my dad providing the support and stability necessary to build my confidence to ride a bike, I treated myself with kindness encouraging and applauding every small accomplishment as I endeavored to enhance my belief in myself.  Inevitably, there were times when I felt vulnerable as I let go of old behaviors, but I learned that pausing to calmly accept and feel any fear that arose allowed me to release it.  The series of small steps I took provided me with successes that built my confidence and fostered my belief in myself.  

Though at the time I didn’t consciously plan a new life, in retrospect that is the journey I embarked upon.  By slowly changing small aspects of my life and letting my path unfold before me, I transformed my life into something I did not have the ability to imagine at the time.  Easing into a new lifestyle allowed me to successfully deal with the fears that arose as I progressed down a new path.  Letting go of old pieces of my life paved the way for new experiences and ideas that ultimately resulted in the creation of a whole new lifestyle.

I invite you to acknowledge the yearnings in your heart.  If the direction of your life is not resonating with you, letting go of it does not have to be a big momentous, intimidating event.  Slowly trying new things and gently letting go of the parts that no longer serve you will make space for new and exciting ideas, experiences, and people.  Be gentle with yourself as you make small changes in your life that take you in the direction of your dreams.  Nurture yourself like you would encourage a small child trying to master a new task and celebrate every accomplishment no matter how small.  When you feel safe with the changes you are making, you will start to notice new opportunities appearing in your life.  Being open to exploring them will provide you with the next steps on your journey.  Being aware and taking that first small step may be the beginning of an exciting new adventure with an amazing outcome that you can’t even imagine.  In addition, I invite you to forward this blog to your friends and sign up for weekly e-mail updates at www.belightandhealthy.com to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.  When you sign up, you will receive an e-mail requesting you confirm your subscription.  After you confirm, you will begin receiving weekly updates.

“Treat the earth well.  It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.  We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”  Ancient Indian Proverb

This year Earth Day is officially commemorated on Friday, April 22, 2011.  Earth Day has been in existence for over 40 years and is marked by worldwide celebrations.  It is an opportunity to join together with others, raise our consciousness, and appreciate the amazing planet we live on.  The earth has been humbly providing to all creatures for longer than most of us can begin to comprehend.  Like a nurturing mother, she generously supplies us with nourishment that sustains life on this planet.    

The earth has been gracefully evolving for billions of years.  She is the manifestation of patience and beauty.  The duality of her gentility and power gracefully co-exist.  In an instant a raging storm can interrupt a peaceful, calm day.  Though humans keep trying to control many aspects of nature, they predictably fail.  No matter how many levees or sea walls are built, Mother Nature eventually wins.  Humans cannot resist the temptation to “improve” upon nature for their own convenience or profit.  Her lesson is one of adaptation and acceptance.  By resisting the natural process of erosion, we make life more difficult by expending time, energy, and money prolonging a situation that we are ultimately destined to lose.  Accepting the inevitable outcome of nature’s progression teaches us to be flexible as we journey through life.       

With the advent of modern industrialized society, the consumption of the earth’s resources was amplified.  Augmented by modern conveniences, people in developed nations thrived and came to expect an increased standard of living.  Like spoiled children, we failed to appreciate our good fortunes and treated the earth disdainfully.  Our lack of respect was evident in our disregard of the negative impact and long-term costs to the environment.  In our quest for modern conveniences, mankind callously robbed her of her natural resources as if it were their birthright without any forethought for future generations.  An attitude of greed and arrogance prevailed.  Though this situation still exists today, progress has been made towards healing our indiscretions.  Fortunately, the paradigm began slowly shifting and moving in a positive direction some years ago.  On an episode of Mad Men, which is set in the 1960’s, there is a scene where the family ignorantly leaves their trash behind after a picnic.  I was taken aback by this scene and found it offensive; however, it made me pause and reflect upon the progress that society has made.  I vividly recollect a TV public service announcement from my childhood in the 1970’s with a tearful Indian.  He was clearly filled with sadness as he rows his canoe down a trash-laden river against the backdrop of smokestacks spewing pollution into the air.  He makes his way onto a littered riverbank, and the announcer urges the audience to stop polluting.  It is, however, the elegant simplicity of the deep sadness reflected in the Indian’s eyes and the tear that slowly trickles down his cheek that made the most memorable impression on me.  Even as a child, I recognized the silent pleading in his eyes that tugged at my heart.  I don’t even consider littering; it’s just not in the realm of possibility for me and most others these days.  Being cognizant of the progress that has been made fills me with hope and appreciation.  Awareness is the first step in creating lasting change.  Small groups of like-minded people joining together to promote a cause creates and fuels the energy necessary for transformation.  An awakening has occurred and large segments of the world’s population have been roused from their apathetic state to take action and help ensure that this planet is left intact for our children.  

In modern society it’s easy to lose track of the fact that we are natural beings and an inherent part of nature.  The earth is a macrocosm of the human body.  Like the earth a multitude of processes are occurring in our bodies without any intervention from us.  We don’t have to think about breathing or tell our hearts to beat.  Our bodies are constantly trying to keep us in balance.  When we introduce chemical-laden, highly processed food to our bodies, it contributes to the interruption of this process.  Our bodies’ objections are communicated to us via signals, such as aches, pains, constipation, low energy, and diseases.  This concept is so simple.  It’s no coincidence that I lacked a connection with the earth when I was 100 pounds overweight and my diet primarily consisted of junk food.  Quite honestly, I feared nature and felt most comfortable on black-topped surfaces if I had to be outdoors.  I spent as much time indoors as humanly possible and never gave the planet a second thought.   I was living unconsciously in a superficial world almost completely disconnected from my innate nature.  Ironically, when I began eating natural, unprocessed foods, it coincided with the ignition of an internal spark to reconnect with nature.  I started to spend more time outdoors and was initially surprised at how good and energized it made me feel.  I began considering where the food I bought came from and opted to buy locally grown food when it was available.  By honoring my body, I was honoring Mother Earth.  The stirrings of a connection with the earth had been re-awakened.  I started making other small changes, such as recycling and walking on nature paths.  Through the years my desire to commune with the earth gradually grew.  My husband and I now keep bees, compost, and plant a summer vegetable garden.  Years ago I never imagined myself doing any of these things.  By slowly incorporating small changes into my life, I was able to transform this aspect of myself.  Communing with the earth helped strengthen the integration of my body, mind, and spirit and connect to my natural essence.  When you reinforce your bond to your intrinsic nature, you are able to transcend the self-imposed limitations in your life.       

We are merely visitors on this magnificent planet, a fleeting blink in the scope of her existence.  By becoming aware of our inherent nature, we can cultivate our connection to all living things and the planet that is our home.  Babies enter this world with an intuitive connection to the energy of the planet, and young children are receptive to maintaining it.  Foster your children’s bond with nature by spending time outside with them and teaching them to honor the earth.  Solidifying the connection children have with nature will help to ground them and shield them from the unavoidable superficiality of life in modern society.   

I invite you to take a moment to appreciate the earth and also consider that the food you choose to eat could facilitate or hinder your connection with nature.  Recycling, picking up trash, planting a tree, utilizing re-usable water bottles, purchasing and eating locally grown food are some ideas to get you started.  Small changes have a lasting impact and create momentum.  By treating the earth kindly, we are leaving a living legacy for our children.  In addition, I invite you to forward this blog to your friends and sign up for weekly e-mail updates at www.belightandhealthy.com to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.  When you sign up, you will receive an e-mail requesting you confirm your subscription.  After you confirm, you will begin receiving weekly updates.

” A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future.  You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.”  Denis Waitley

As people transition to a healthy lifestyle, it is natural to encounter uneasiness.  Because old patterns are comfortable like a warm, cozy bed, it’s easy to get stuck in them.  Our attachment to these behaviors is often solidified by others’ expectations of us.  Sometimes trying to unwrench our death-defying grips on bad habits sends us hurtling back into the routine we so desperately wanted to give up.  Taking the time to build a solid foundation and acknowledging that the unfamiliar feels unpleasant will prevent us from being catapulted back to old behaviors.  Take solace in the fact that uneasiness accompanies all growth and is often a sign that we are moving in the right direction. 

In Soul to Soul:  Communications from the Heart Gary Zukav recounts the story of a European gentleman who was expected to wear a sword as part of his formal attire.  This gentleman was truly gentle and felt uncomfortable wearing the sword, but he also felt uncomfortable not wearing it.  Neither option felt suitable to him so he sought counsel from an old friend who advised him to wear the sword until he felt more uncomfortable wearing it than not wearing it. 

This parable beautifully recounts the gentleman’s inner conflict as he evolved towards his authentic self.  He is bowing to tradition and acknowledging his distress with both choices, and his trusted friend gently advises that he should continue in the manner that feels least uncomfortable and let the transition occur naturally.  This story resonates with me because inner conflict naturally accompanied my shift to a healthy lifestyle.  I was the ultimate junk food junkie and felt awkward when I started eating healthy food.  It seemed strange to eat fruits and vegetables; however, it had also begun to feel disconcerting to consume junk food.  This situation was confusing and stressful because of the inner struggle I was experiencing.  On the one hand, I wanted the comfort of my old, unhealthy choices; but I also had become aware of new, healthy options.  Gradually, I embraced the healthy options and abandoned my old habits.  Taking the time to tenderly nurture myself as I eased into new behaviors allowed me to create a strong foundation for a new, healthy lifestyle.  As I lovingly cultivated the delicate seeds I planted, they slowly became anchored in my spirit like the tiny seeds of a plant taking root in the earth.  Gradually, they grew stronger and became the basis of the life I had imagined.

I also felt self-conscious when I started walking.  This behavior was not typical of me, and I often worried about what people would think.  I even felt uncomfortable abandoning the tenty styles I had worn in my attempts to hide my excess weight.  Much like the gentleman’s least comfortable approach, I resorted to my own strategy of good, better, best choices to facilitate my transformation.  Eventually, I became comfortable with myself and stopped worrying about what people thought.  I learned to accept where I was on my path and allowed the transitions to gently take root and become integrated into my life.    

I suspect some people were uncomfortable with my new behaviors.  Eventually, most got used to the healthy person I became.  Don’t let others’ comments discourage you.  I’ve been subjected to people commenting that I’ll eventually gain the weight back.  Initially, I didn’t understand why people would make such disheartening comments.  I now realize these comments were more about them than me because they had repeatedly gained back weight.  As you break out of your comfort zone and into the vision of your future, you may begin to feel uncomfortable around some people.  It is not unusual for some relationships to wither and die as you evolve.  Accepting the demise of a relationship with grace and gratitude is often part of the growth process.  Conversely, you will also discover that there are wonderful people in your life who always saw your true essence and enthusiastically celebrate your successes.  These are the special people in your life who believed in you long before you believed in yourself.   

Be patient with others as they get used to the new you.  I’ve been a vegetarian for several years and am aware that I am the atypical one in most crowds.  Being a vegetarian is a personal decision, and I have no desire to thrust my opinion on others or have them feel uncomfortable around me.  I can always adapt to the situation and often bring a vegetarian dish to share with others.  I did, however, used to get exasperated with my husband when he’d sometimes forget that I was vegetarian.  Eventually, I realized that his forgetfulness was an indication that I was doing a great job not subjecting him to my beliefs.  Since I began congratulating myself for not imposing my views on others instead of being exasperated, my husband rarely forgets.    

Accepting the unfamiliar feelings and being gentle with myself allowed me to evolve and flow through the transitions associated with a whole new way of life.  Eventually, I was able to give up the many swords I wrestled with as I moved out of my comfort zone and relinquished bad habits in favor of good habits.  By sitting and acknowledging the awkwardness, I was eventually rewarded with the new lifestyle I had dreamed of.     

I invite you be gentle with yourself as you step out of your comfort zone and create the future you envision.  Take your time and nurture yourself.  As you grow, bridge the gap between old, unhealthy habits and new habits by being kind to yourself.  Trust that you will give up your swords when you are ready.  In addition, I invite you to sign up for weekly e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.    

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”  Hal Borland

As we usher out 2010 and 2011 looms on the horizon, people are experiencing different feelings.  Some are filled with hope and excitement for what the new year will bring while others are filled with a little sadness.  Attendance at gyms temporarily swells as many people make resolutions to lose weight and get healthy.  Each new year used to begin full of hope tinged with anxiety for me.  Like so many others, I used to view the new year as the end of my unhealthy behavior and the beginning of my new healthy life.  I’d start the year off setting unrealistic diet and exercise goals.  Subconsciously, I knew my goals were unrealistic thus fueling my anxiety.  I’d overeat and binge during the holidays thinking that it was the last time I’d eat the “bad” foods that I was banning once the new year arrived.  I’d actually feel a little relief anticipating that my overindulging was coming to an end.  Due to my unattainable goals I’d inevitably proceed to crash and burn, sometimes before the end of January.   

If you’ve experienced this same phenomenon, I’m encouraging you to learn from your experiences.  There are people who flourish by diving into new, healthy behaviors; however, I know this strategy does not work for a lot of people, including me.  I’m the type of person who needs to make changes slowly and feel safe as I make them.  Instead of resisting your innate nature, embrace it.  By slowly making changes, I was able to transform my life and end the repetitive crash and burn cycles that were a part of it.     

Start by changing your thoughts.  Whether you realize it or not, your thinking has greatly contributed to your current state of health.  We are inundated with negative thoughts that we create in our minds and are fostered by the media, which neglects to focus on easy, permanent weight loss success stories.  In addition, there are all kinds of “experts” marketing their weight loss strategies.  Different strategies work for different people, and it’s important that you honor yourself by choosing a strategy that resonates with you.  From my experience, losing weight quickly was not sustainable.  By pacing myself and easing into a healthy life, my transition was easy and natural.  Disregard the negativity and don’t believe those voices in your head!  I’m no different than the average person, and I’m living proof that you can lose weight, sustain your weight loss, and have the life that you imagine.  

Consider the possibility.  Having been an obese child and overweight my entire adult life, the belief that I would always be overweight was deeply ingrained in me.  Losing 100 pounds would have seemed like a daunting task had I not slowly and gently opened my mind to the possibility.  Losing a significant amount of weight can be scary for people who have been “hiding” behind their weight for a lifetime.  At the time I was 37 years old and began thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I lost 100 pounds by the time I turned 40?”  This enabled me to entertain the idea and slowly absorb it.        

Set your intentions.  As the possibility seeped into my awareness, I slowly began to believe losing 100 pounds might be attainable.  Giving myself plenty of time to accomplish it helped strengthen my belief and allowed me to feel safe pursuing it.  As the belief solidified, it became an intention.

Break your intentions down into small, attainable goals.  As a result of the suggestions in Eight Weeks to Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil, I tried 2-3 new, healthy behaviors every week and was not overwhelmed.  Trying broccoli and walking were suggestions that became a part of my routine; however, there were other suggestions that didn’t resonate with me and were abandoned.  Basking in the success of every small accomplishment creates positive energy that keeps you moving forward.       

Write down your intentions and goals.  By committing words to paper, you generate positive energy and further convince your mind of the possibilities.  Writing clear, concise goals anchors them in your consciousness and fuels your imagination.  Be specific and write in a positive manner like the following example:  “This week I will walk down a flight of stairs every day instead of taking the elevator.”           

Visualize in detail what you want those changes to look like.  Stay focused, and consistently  create positive visions. If you vacillate between thinking positively and doubting yourself, you will create a fuzzy vision and get fuzzy results.  In addition to seeing yourself healthy and at your ideal weight, see yourself acting healthy.  If you’ve always wanted to walk a mile or hike a mountain, picture yourself doing it.  Seize the power of your imagination for it is limitless.      

Feel it.  When you’re visualizing, take it a step further and feel it to help make it more real.  If you’re picturing yourself drinking more water, imagine how the glass feels in your hand, the temperature of the water, how refreshing it tastes as you swallow it, and how happy you are that you’ve accomplished a goal. 

Incorporating easy, small changes into your life will allow you to slowly and painlessly transition to a healthy lifestyle.  Savoring each success will build momentum, and you will naturally want to continue making positive changes on your journey towards good health. 

I invite you to use the wisdom of your past experiences to harness the power of your mind and the optimism of the new year’s ongoing cycle.  Imagine fast forwarding to the end of 2011 and how great it will feel as you gently float downstream becoming light and healthy.  In addition, I invite you to sign up for weekly e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.  Best wishes to you and your family for a new year filled with light and good health. 

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”  Meister Eckhart 

It’s that wonderful time of year when we pause and give thanks.  Thanksgiving is a day that we traditionally spend with our families and has the potential to provoke anxiety on many levels. The huge seasonal focus on food sometimes acts as a catalyst for abandoning all healthy habits for the duration of the year with promises of reform when the new year arrives.  In addition, spending time with our families and in traditional settings sometimes creates angst and catapults us back into behavior that we’ve outgrown.  Just because overeating and abandoning exercise were part of your traditions in years past doesn’t mean that you have to repeat these behaviors this year.  Focusing on things we are grateful for and giving thanks can serve as the stimulus for incorporating some healthy changes into our lives.  

When I encounter uncomfortable situations, paying attention to my breathing and pausing for a moment to appreciate the many wonderful aspects of my life calms me.  Food and my body are two things that used to create anxiety in me.  Practicing thankfulness enabled me to cultivate healthy relationships with these two integral parts of my life.  When I was overweight, I had a conflicted relationship with food.  On the one hand, I loved it when I was using it to comfort myself.  However, that love quickly turned to hatred when I experienced the adverse effects of consuming so much unhealthy food.  In addition, I hated my big, bulky body, which was cumbersome to carry around.     

Changing how I thought about food helped me to be thankful for the nourishment it provides.  I used to label foods as good or bad.  Once I labeled a food as bad and forbade myself from eating it, the food had some sort of all-consuming, controlling power over me.  I became obsessed with it, had to have it, and would eat way too much of it since I feared this would be the last time I would allow myself to eat it.  Now I choose to believe there are no bad foods, only bad behaviors.  Yes, there are most definitely unhealthy foods, but there are no forbidden foods.  Thinking this way has allowed me to appreciate food for the sustenance and energy it provides.  By allowing myself to eat anything I want, the desire for banned foods vanishes.  Gradually, over time my choices became healthier and healthier.  I still occasionally eat something I consider unhealthy, but I do it with awareness and enjoy the entire experience.  Often, savoring the food and being aware of how it physically affects me results in losing all desire for it. 

In addition to changing how I thought about food, I learned to trust my body. How could I trust a body that I hated?  One day I realized that my body is awesome.  For years, I had abused her by overeating unhealthy foods and requiring her to lug around extra weight yet she had never forsaken me.  I was incredibly fortunate that I hadn’t experienced any health challenges though I do believe if I had continued down that unhealthy path, failing health was inevitable.  I slowly started to cultivate positive thoughts about my body.  Part of my daily ritual was to write them down in a gratitude journal.  My first inclination was to think of what I detested about my body, but eventually it became easier and easier to be thankful for her.  I was grateful for my internal organs.  They worked great, and I couldn’t see them so I couldn’t judge how attractive they were.  My heart kept on beating without me ever having to think about it.  I could see with my eyes and hear with my ears.  I wasn’t crazy about my arms, but I sure appreciated that I could hug my husband with them.  Little by little, the thankfulness grew and I began wanting to take care of my body by eating healthy food and exercising.  Gradually, I learned to listen to my body, a process that is still evolving to this day.  When you respect and appreciate your body, you naturally begin making healthier food choices and exercising.

I invite you to be realistic during the holidays and consider making some small changes that will keep you moving in the direction of good health.  Be aware of situations or foods that evoke anxiety in you and be thankful for these opportunities for growth.  If you do overindulge, think of it as your own personal experiment.  Instead of putting all your energy into mentally abusing yourself, focus on your breath, get out of your head, and tune into how your body feels.  Consider doing something nice for your body like taking a short walk.  Consistently appreciating and listening to your body will help you learn to trust your body and be thankful for it.  Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!  In addition, I invite you to sign up for weekly e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.


Be Light and Healthy

The intention of this blog is to share information and inspire people to Be Light and Healthy.

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