Be Light and Healthy

Posts Tagged ‘healthy thinking

“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.

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“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”  Anna Quindlen

Many people go through life aspiring to be perfect.  Intellectually, we know that constantly striving for perfection is an unreasonable expectation.  In our quests to please others or avoid being criticized or judged, we don a variety of masks when we deal with different people.  Eventually, our innate nature becomes clouded and we no longer remember the true essence of who we are.  Few people may truly know the real you.  In actuality, you may barely recognize the person you’ve become as you’ve strived for perfection and along the way began presenting different personas to the world.   Acting and speaking differently around different people causes underlying stress in your life.  It is natural to act somewhat differently in many situations, but when we are consistently trying to keep numerous aspects of ourselves hidden from others, we lose track of the masks we are wearing and gradually lose our connections to our intrinsic natures.

Often, well-meaning parents encourage their children to forego what they perceive to be outlandish dreams in favor of the safe path towards conformity and financial security.  Parents typically want their idea of a better life for their kids.  Unfortunately, sometimes they overlook the natural essence of their children and unintentionally pass their life fears onto them.  Even as adults many people are unaware of their subconscious desire to please their parents and unknowingly fail to even consider following their own hearts.  To pursue our own dreams we have to be willing to let go of other people’s dreams and any guilt that goes along with it. 

Hiding from the life that we were meant to live eventually catches up with us.  Some people will remain unaware or deny the flicker of their true essence that lives in their heart waiting to be sparked while they slowly wither away.  Physically and mentally, they may appear healthy but their spirit is languishing, and they are not living the life that could potentially result in their happiness and wellness.  Going through the motions of “living” each day without joy or happiness is more like slowly dying than living. 

When you’ve spent years denying your true essence and burying it under mounds of expectations from others and yourself, it takes time to unearth.  It can be confusing, and you may feel pulled in different directions unsure of what you truly desire.  Be gentle with yourself and allow your path to unfold before you as you learn to trust your intuition.  When you are on the path that is most right for you, opportunities will present themselves.  The key is to remain open to the possibilities and follow your heart.  Think back to your childhood – what did you love to do when you were a kid?  Did you abandon certain activities because someone told you that you weren’t good at them?  Or maybe your parents were not equipped to help you nurture an interest.  It’s never too late to try something new or re-visit an activity that you previously enjoyed.  Years ago I got an unmistakable sign that I should write.  I never considered writing in any form as I planned my life and never even attempted it because I didn’t think I could write well enough.  When I paused and thought back to my childhood, I realized that I always loved writing book reports and even loved writing thank you notes!  Though I never planned to write a blog, it makes sense that I enjoy writing one.  When my niece was growing up, I always encouraged her to try a bunch of different things with the hopes that she would find something that she loved to do.  I still encourage her to keep trying things and am amazed at some of the experiences she has had.  Trying new things prevents stagnation in our lives and keeps us moving forward on the path to re-discovering our true selves. 

Some people bury their true essence beneath their excess weight.  Though at the time I wasn’t consciously aware of it, I attempted to hide behind the extra 100 pounds I carried around.  Instead of cultivating the dreams in my heart, I denied them and kept them buried by stuffing myself with food.  I finally succeeded at losing weight and changing my life by trying something new and letting go of my desire for perfection.  Slowly making small improvements in the foods I ate and slowly incorporating movement into my life improved my health and helped me to begin unearthing the real me.  Embarking upon a plan to improve your health by striving for perfection will set you up for failure based on my unsuccessful experiences.  There is no perfect eating or exercise plan.  Everyone is different and what works for some people does not work for others.  Furthermore, requiring that you stick to a set of unreasonable rules or extreme behaviors will lead to discouragement when you are unable to sustain them.  Long-term weight loss is achieved and sustained by integrating new thinking and behaviors into your life.  I started treating myself with kindness by changing my thinking.  I abandoned the word should in favor of the world could.  Should implies rules; could implies choices.  In addition, I was able to slowly improve my choices by giving myself a range of options to consider by categorizing them as “good, better, or best.”  I was allowing myself to behave imperfectly, which dramatically increased my chances of success.  At the time I was living on junk food and requiring myself to survive on salads may have worked in the short-term, but the feelings of denial would have eventually sent me back to my old habits like it always did in the past.  Instead, I gave myself options.  For example, instead of eating a large hot fudge sundae for dinner, I could choose a salad (best), a bagel and cream cheese (better), or a small hot fudge sundae (good).  All of the selections were an improvement.  I was encouraging myself to make better choices.  This same technique helped me begin exercising.  Instead of minimizing all activity in my life, I could walk for fifteen minutes (best), walk for 10 minutes (better), or walk down to get the mail (good) instead of avoiding exercise at all costs.  Giving yourself permission to be imperfect allows you to slowly integrate new behaviors into your life and fuels your desire to continue making improvements.  The quality of your selections will naturally improve as you progress down the path towards good health.  I still effectively employ these techniques in my ongoing quest to become my imperfect self.   

Becoming disconnected from your true self was a gradual process.  Small changes in our thoughts and behaviors add up over a lifetime until we no longer recognize ourselves.  They may be the results of hurts we’ve encountered along the way and techniques we’ve employed to protect ourselves.  As you begin the process of re-discovering yourself, it may feel awkward.  Letting go of ideas, people, and behaviors that no longer serve your best interests may feel uncomfortable.  By being  gentle and patient with yourself as you make small changes, the awkwardness will subside.  Gradually, you will begin to feel more like the real you.  There is no one moment in time when you become the real you.  Once you re-connect, the process of growth and evolution continues throughout your life.  The energy invoked by continuing to move forward and explore different interests and activities will enhance your life and bring you joy.  In addition, your self-confidence will grow and you will begin to share the real you and your unique gifts with the world. 

I invite you to continue trying new things.  Explore activities that you loved or were drawn to as child.  Let go of your desires to be perfect and focus on making small changes that can be integrated into your life.  Accepting and cultivating imperfect behavior will help you become your imperfectly wonderful self.  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.

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.

“Every single problem that you have in your life is the seed of an opportunity for some greater benefit.”  Deepak Chopra

Spring is the season of renewal and hopefulness.  Nature’s seeds lie deep below the dark soil waiting to burst upon the land and share their unique purpose with the world.  Unlike people, they are not influenced by chastising voices in their heads and are not afraid to show the world their beauty.  They simply are and do not have the ability to resist their intrinsic nature.  They don’t have problems and are not embarrassed by their appearance. They simply exist as the splendid creations that they are and take the risk of leaving behind the darkness to reach their maximum potential.  When we resist evolving and are afraid to take a risk, we slowly wither and die like a seed that didn’t have the courage to push through the dirt to expose itself and reveal its magnificence. 

As humans, we tend to see problems as negative aspects of our lives.  When we encounter a problem, we often get mired in it and resist evolving.  Sometimes it is difficult to see our way out of a problem.  When presented with a dilemma, our minds have been conditioned to immediately jump to the worst possible outcome.  We use our powerful imaginations to fuel the negativity of our thinking.   If we allow the pessimistic thoughts in our heads to fester, they envelop us in desperation.  Conversely, if we see a problem as a seed of opportunity, it gives us the courage to embrace it for our own self-growth and some greater benefit in our lives.    

When I was overweight, I saw it as a huge problem – a problem that affected me every day of my life.  The weight was a burden to me physically, mentally, and spiritually.  By focusing on what I perceived as the negativity of my situation, I felt swallowed up by it.  I allowed fear to consume me and lived with chronic anxiety about my dilemma.  I essentially put my life on hold.  There was always an undercurrent of thinking that I would be happy, satisfied, and content when I lost the excess weight.  I avoided many experiences because of my physical bulkiness.  Sometimes the weight prevented me from partaking in certain activities but other times it was my thinking.  I unconsciously used my weight as an excuse to forego living.  I could not imagine myself doing certain activities and was embarrassed by the thought that someone might see me.  I’m talking about activities as simple as taking a walk.  Ironically, I longed to be invisible despite my heaviness.  I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and allowed my mind to convince me to forego walking to protect me from embarrassment.  Of course, these were thoughts I created in my head that were not necessarily true.  I was insecure and believed others’ opinions were important.  The truth is people are typically distracted by their own issues and wouldn’t have given a second thought to seeing me walking down the street.  Becoming attached to the idea of putting my life on hold actually prevented the flow of energy in my life and increased the stagnation.  My anxiety caused me to repeatedly grasp for unhealthy “get thin quick” solutions that inevitably failed.  Embarking on these schemes never quieted my angst because mentally I had already jumped to the worst possible outcome – gaining the weight back – and was worrying about it.  I was jeopardizing my health by overeating unhealthy foods, not exercising, and living in a state of constant stress. 

Choosing to lose weight may feel like taking a risk.  Though you may feel physically uncomfortable with the extra weight, your mind may feel secure in the current situation.  You may fear failure, but you may also fear success.  What if you lose the weight and life doesn’t live up to your expectations?  Rest assured that all of the problems in your life cannot be attributed to excess weight.  Anxiety about making big life changes can easily be intensified by the critical judgments you inflict upon yourself.  Prior to my weight loss success, my attempts were typically undertaken for superficial reasons.  Wanting to look better for an upcoming event was probably the most common one.  I sought a quick solution to a long-term problem and was never willing to invest the time or effort in myself to make sustainable changes.  Ultimately, I never thought I was worth the effort.  Believing that I should be capable of eating and exercising “perfectly” motivated the voices in my head to drone on and on about every indiscretion that I made.  My mind was always on the sidelines ready with a cruel comment meant to crush my confidence or threatening to punish me by withholding the foods I had categorized as untouchable.  Eventually, I would succumb to my mind’s anticipated failures and embark on a binge cultivating my endless weight problem.    

It wasn’t until I started treating myself with kindness that I got off my well-worn path of failure.  Learning to value and respect myself and accepting my imperfections were an integral part of my accomplishment.  I had to change the voices in my head and treat myself with compassion.  I learned to speak to myself in the same manner I would speak to a child learning a new skill and having trouble mastering it.  I would support a child by cheering her on and helping her manifest her dreams by gently and repeatedly telling her that she could do it.  She might need help or she might need to practice, but ultimately she is capable of doing anything she can imagine.  I would encourage her to use the power of her imagination to envision her success and would consistently focus on every improvement she made to re-enforce her confidence.  I would be patient with her and allow her the time she needed to succeed and become comfortable with her new behavior.    

Making a change in your behavior in response to a problem is like learning a new skill.  After a lifetime of unhealthy habits, it took time to modify my behavior and feel comfortable with the changes.  Treating myself with compassion by changing my thinking was the pivotal behavior change that put me on the path to success.  Harnessing the power of my imagination and accepting that I needed to make the changes slowly to build my confidence further facilitated my success.    

What I have learned from my experience is that being overweight for most of my life presented me with the seed of an opportunity.  It has been one of my greatest learning experiences and provided the impetus for my mental, physical, and spiritual growth.  Because of my experiences as a child and an adult with a weight problem, I believe I am more grateful for my health than I ever would have been without a weight issue.  I appreciate my ability to walk every day.  I treasure every moment I spend running around and actively playing with my toddler nephews knowing that if I had not taken a risk to change my life, I would be sitting on the sidelines watching them from afar.  Losing 100 Pounds did not solve all my problems, but it has helped to heal many aspects of my life and presented me with numerous experiences and opportunities to feel alive.  I am extremely happy and grateful that I invested the time and patience necessary to fundamentally change myself.  I’ve learned to take a risk and embrace the lifelong process of change as I endeavor to continue evolving.  Through kindness and love, I believe it is possible to change ourselves and influence others thus changing the world. 

I invite you to reflect on the problems in your life.  During this season of renewal consider choosing to view every problem as the seed of an opportunity.  Quiet the voices in your head and reflect deeply to uncover the hidden opportunity buried among your troubles.  Accept that taking a risk may be necessary and feel uncomfortable.  Nurturing your inner child by treating yourself with kindness and using your powerful imagination will lead you in the direction of your dreams.   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.

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thoughts of April fill us with optimism as we leave the winter behind and a feeling of freshness is ushered in.  The light continues to expand in the Northern hemisphere as the sun increasingly warms the earth.  Our spirits are lifted as we breathe the cool spring air filling us with the essence of spring’s nurturing energy.  Nature’s duality is beautifully expressed as the sun and rain provide balancing sustenance to the earth.  The roots beneath the ground welcome the nourishment of the sun and the rain as they prepare to burst forth from the darkness and bathe the landscape with their spectacular blooms. 

We see growth and expansion all around us as plants sprout through the soil and buds appear on the trees.  An essence of hopefulness and newness fills the air.  As we observe nature’s new growth slowly emerging before our eyes, it may prompt us to think about our own self-growth.  In order to create the energy of expansion in our lives, it is necessary to get rid of the old things that are keeping us stuck and preventing us from moving forward.   Lightening our load provides the momentum necessary to move forward.  Just as the rain cleanses the earth and seeps into it nourishing the seeds of new plants, new thoughts can seep into our minds nurturing our own seeds of growth. 

When the warm weather arrives, people are eager to get outside and enjoy it.  Bright, shiny days beckon us outdoors to clean our yards, play with the kids, or just savor the rejuvenating energy.  Rainy days are often looked upon with disappointment when they interrupt our plans leaving us feeling melancholy.  Just as the brilliance of a sunny day nurtures our spirit so can a rainy day.  Rainy days offer us a lesson in patience and acceptance.  If we choose to learn from them, they are opportunities to facilitate our growth and bring us happiness.  The essence of a cleansing rain conveys a subtle message to slow down and go with the flow providing us with a chance to hone our abilities to be flexible.  By dropping our resistance to a situation we cannot change, we learn to adapt.  Modern society has conditioned us to resist our innate nature as human beings and cultivated the belief that we can control everything.  Many of us are so caught up in the fast pace of modern life that we don’t realize we are living in a state of constant stress, and we’ve forgotten how to slow down.  From a young age many children are subjected to this frenzied world and grow up thinking that being tense is natural.  Though the effects of living in this manner may not initially be obvious, they start to show up as health problems as we age. 

When we resist accepting things we cannot change, we end up wasting energy focusing on what we perceive as negative aspects of a situation.   By simply changing our thinking, we can easily change our perspective.  A rainy day can be a gift offering us a chance to slow down and turn introspective.   Accepting circumstances out of our control and going with the flow cultivates grace in our lives.  Focus on the positive aspects of a rainy day.  Instead of trying to escape it, try embracing the cleansing energy.  Spend the day cleaning out the old and making room for the new.  Getting rid of old thoughts, habits, or things that no longer serve you makes room for new ideas and energy to facilitate your personal growth. 

Take advantage of the cleansing spirit of the rain by cleaning!  Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed with “spring cleaning.”  Just start small.  The kitchen is always a great place to begin.  You could simply start by getting rid of outdated food.  If you feel compelled, you could progress to removing some of the junk foods that have become a part of your life.  Clearing out the old food will make room for new healthy food.  Throw out old recipes that no longer appeal to you and replace them with healthier recipes.  You could spend time trying a new healthy recipe or planning healthy meals for the week.      

Get rid of old clothes that you no longer wear or no longer fit.  Holding on to clothes that don’t fit creates stagnant energy preventing you from moving forward.  Prior to my 100 pound weight loss, I got rid of clothes that were too small.  For years I had held on to them hoping I would fit into them again someday.  They were simply taking up space in my closet and serving no purpose in my life so I chose to donate them to charity.  When I lost weight, I naturally wanted to buy new, smaller clothes.  As I was losing weight, I regularly got rid of the old, larger-sized clothes.  It feels really good to donate unused clothes to a charity and know that people who really need them will make good use of them.  Letting go of the old clothes will create space for the great new clothes you will be wearing to complement your new healthy appearance. 

If the rain puts a crimp in your outdoor exercise plans, try something new. Go to an indoor mall to walk inside or go bowling.  There are lots of exercise shows available on cable TV, on-line, or at the library.  Try something you’ve never done before.  Put on some great music and dance around your house.  You could even run up and down the stairs to get your indoor workout.   

Think back to your childhood – what child can resist playing outside in the rain?  Children instinctively love the energy of rain.  I love walking outdoors on a rainy day.  Though I may be taking the same route, it’s a chance to see and feel something familiar from a different perspective.  As the rain gently falls on me, I envision it washing away all the stresses in my life and renewing my energy.  I typically arrive back at my destination feeling chilled yet refreshed and will often take the time to warm up with a cup of tea and savor the serenity of the moment. 

Curling up with a good book is a fantastic way to spend a rainy day.  Consider getting a book from the library instead of purchasing one.  I hadn’t been to the library since I was a kid and never even considered it until a friend made the suggestion.  I love the fact that borrowing a library book is “green” plus it has saved me a lot of money.  Instead of selecting a book from your usual genre, peruse the shelves to see what appeals to you, and try something new.

I invite you to think of April showers as nourishing gifts.  As the rain nurtures Mother Earth, let the cleansing energy nourish your soul and entice you to try something new.  Cleaning out the old thoughts, ideas, and stuff will make room for fresh, new energy in your life.  Grab your umbrella and go for a walk.  Or even better, skip the umbrella and dance in the rain to soak up the cleansing energy.  If you have kids, create some wonderful memories with them by dancing in the rain.  Teaching children to focus on the wonderful aspects of rainy days will help to cultivate acceptance and flexibility in their young lives.  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.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Albert Einstein

Due to the fast pace of modern society, many of us are living whirlwind lives.  Time swiftly passes as we transition from season to season and year to year.  Dazed, we wander through life wondering where the time has gone.  We look back and major parts of our lives are a blur.  We move through life unaware that we are squandering precious time on meaningless activities.  Our time is sacrificed trying to keep up with society’s demands instead of fulfilling our own basic needs.  Like hamsters continuously running on a wheel yet going nowhere, we numbly live the same day over and over eating the same foods and doing the same activities without questioning why we are feeling unfulfilled and lacking joy in our lives. 

As life rushes by, we neglect to slow down.  We feel inexplicably unbalanced and don’t recognize that we are vibrating at a much faster rate than the calmer and slower rhythms of nature.  Sometimes we get stuck repeating a behavior.  Our behaviors become so ingrained in us that we fear changing our routines to take us in a different direction.   Often it’s even a good behavior that we’ve become bored with or no longer need yet continue to do because we’ve done it for so long.   Maybe a strategy that worked well for you previously or at a different time in your life is no longer working.  It’s also possible that you’re yearning for something more. The goals in your life may have slowly changed, but you haven’t paused to realize it and allow new ideas to seep into your mind.  Or maybe you’re following a strategy that was recommended by a well-meaning friend or “expert”, but it doesn’t truly serve your individual needs.  Because we are living fast-paced lives, we neglect to slow down and realize that an established pattern is no longer optimally benefiting us.

Successful, sustainable life strategies begin by honoring yourself and your unique needs.  Take a moment to honor and appreciate yourself.  Determine what would nourish you physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Slowing down, turning inward, and listening to your heart will allow you to identify the lifestyle that will uniquely fulfill your needs.  Investing time to reflect permits you to realize that it’s time to adjust course and pursue a different path.  Your life is an amazing journey and experiencing joy is an integral part of feeling complete.  Experiment and try different things to determine what serves you best and makes you happy and healthy.      

Before my weight-loss success, when the desire to lose weight periodically descended upon me, I always did the same thing – crash dieted and jumped on the exercise bandwagon.  It was an insane cycle that began when I was a teenager and inevitably failed every single time. This strategy repeatedly catapulted me back to my old ways and left me disheartened and unhealthy.  Through the years, I’ve seen many people subject themselves to the insanity of the same cycle I yielded to for a good portion of my life.  I was not honoring myself when I repeatedly chose this strategy in an attempt to reach my goals.  It wasn’t until I took the time to truly consider what I wanted and looked at how I could realistically attain my goals that I was able to successfully transition to a sustainable healthy lifestyle.   I’ve come to learn that I am someone who benefits from small changes though for years I denied this characteristic of myself and succumbed to the recommendations of so-called experts who write books and purport to have the magic formula to weight loss.  There is no one magic formula that works for everyone.  In fact, what worked at one time in your life may no longer work for you due to the many ever-changing aspects of your life.  The desire for quick weight-loss results drives people to embrace “get thin quick” plans that set them up for failure.  Any diet that requires you to forsake the foods you currently love in favor of foods that do not appeal to you will not propel you in the direction of success.  Realistically contemplating your unique body, goals, and daily routine prior to modifying your lifestyle will set you up for success. 

Abandoning or foregoing exercise because we detest it is another tendency many of us experience.  If you hate the type of exercise you’re doing, it’s highly unlikely it will become a sustainable part of your life.  In addition, if it can’t be easily integrated into your routine, you won’t make it a habit.  I can think of a well-known celebrity who has lost and gained weight numerous times.  I recall seeing interviews with her talking about how much she hated exercising.  When she’s in great shape, she looks fabulous; however, her weight losses tend to be fleeting.  There are some people who are highly-disciplined and subject themselves to a routine they hate; this method does not resonate with me.  I don’t hate exercise, but admittedly, am not the most intense exerciser.  I have no desire to spend hours at the gym.  I exercise because it makes me feel good, and I want to stay healthy.  I like my exercise routine, am in great health, and have maintained my weight loss of 100 Pounds for over 8 Years.  In addition, I can see myself doing it for the rest of my life.  When I get bored, I periodically try different activities for the sake of variety.  If I were looking for different results and my goal was to look fabulous, continuing to follow my current routine and expecting different results would reek of insanity.  I would clearly have to re-asses my strategy and kick it up a notch if I had different goals and wanted different results. 

In addition, if exercise can’t be easily integrated into your life, it won’t become a habit.  My routine is to exercise in the mornings.  Occasionally, I will exercise in the evenings.  Because I seem to have more energy at the end of the day, I believe I get a better workout at night.  However, I also know that exercising at night does not fit my current lifestyle.  Consequently, I choose to exercise in the morning.  It’s not the perfect solution to my exercise requirements; and I may not be obtaining the optimum benefits of an evening workout, but it’s significantly better than not exercising at all.  Being realistic about your current lifestyle is an important factor in your lasting success.  

I invite you to pause and reflect upon areas of your life that have become integrated into your routine but may no longer serve you.  Are you deriving joy and positive benefits from the way you spend your time?  If not, try experimenting with different foods and different activities to attain the results you desire.  Small, daily changes have less impact on your lifestyle and allow you to build momentum as they become a part of your life.  By starting slowly and realistically incorporating small changes into your unique lifestyle, you will set yourself up for long-term success and happiness.  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.


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