Be Light and Healthy

Posts Tagged ‘healthy transitions

“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.

“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.

“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.

“Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself.  Julia Cameron

A couple of days before spring officially began in the Northeast, it appeared that winter was over.  Nature took several steps forward as temperatures edged toward 70 degrees, and the colorful croci spurted through the dark earth teasing us with spring’s arrival.  As spring officially began she took a step backward when the warmth retreated and temperatures repeatedly dipped below freezing.  She gently began moving forward again once temperatures resumed their climb, and more plants sprouted upon the land.  Subsequently, April’s arrival was heralded with a rare winter snowstorm in the Northeast.  Nature blanketed the landscape with snow serving as a reminder to have patience and trust that spring will arrive when she’s ready.  Against a backdrop of white, the croci patiently waited for the return of the sun’s golden warmth to melt the last remnants of winter’s essence.  Like us, nature takes two steps forward then one step back as she progresses to her next stage of growth. 

Like nature, it is natural for us to take two steps forward then one step back as we evolve.  Though equipped  with the best of  intentions,  it’s likely that there will be moments when we take a step backward as we advance in the direction of our dreams.  The path of personal growth is never a straight line.  By not expecting perfection from ourselves, we are better able to learn from our backward steps.  When we choose to pursue our own personal development, we may be cruising along thinking things are going great and suddenly hit a bump in the road.  Sometimes the interruption in our progress is a result of circumstances beyond our control; other times we unpredictably falter.  When a backslide occurs, we have two choices.  We can embrace it as an opportunity to learn or we can punish ourselves.  We are not perfect and accepting and acknowledging our mistakes provides us with an opportunity to learn from them and move on.  If we resist accepting them, we end up dwelling on them and creating negative energy that blocks us from moving forward or sends us backwards. 

Embracing an interruption in our progress as an opportunity to learn can help unlock our inner wisdom and lead us to further growth.  If we take the time to compassionately contemplate what can be learned from the situation and determine why our progress was halted, we can develop strategies that will assist us further advance toward our goals.  Conversely, if we spend time and energy mentally beating ourselves up for an indiscretion, we may talk ourselves into permanently retreating backwards to our old behaviors.  Our greatest lessons and most profound growth are often the result of adversities encountered on our paths. 

The process of evolving causes us to experience many different emotions including happiness, excitement, fear, and anxiousness.   Think back to your childhood and remember the awkward, uncomfortable feelings as you transitioned through different stages of your young life.  We may be excitedly anticipating the results of the small changes we’re incorporating into our lives but run out of patience as we wait to see and reap the benefits.  We stop trusting the inner wisdom of our hearts and start listening to our minds.  Often, this occurs right before we are about to have a growth spurt or reach a pivotal point and is prompted by the uncomfortable feelings we experience as we are about to breakthrough to a new way of life.  The voices in our heads fear they’re losing control of the situation as we follow the longings of our hearts.  Intent on keeping us stuck in our mundane yet comfortable existence, they respond with malice goading us to relinquish the progress that we’ve made.  Though the goal being pursued will ultimately enrich your life, it is normal to fear changes and new experiences.  Be patient with yourself as you adapt to your new lifestyle and gain confidence.

When improvements in our eating or exercise habits have been made, one indiscretion can cause us to abandon our progress fueling the chastising voices in our heads.  When we concentrate on a misstep and perceive it as a failure, our negative thoughts strengthen our insecurities.  Focusing our attention on judgmental thoughts distracts us from listening to our bodies.  Our bodies are always trying to maintain balance and keep us healthy.  If you’ve overeaten or eaten something unhealthy and proceed to mentally abuse yourself, you will miss the physiological messages your body is trying to convey.  If instead you gently turn inward and listen to your body, you will feel the affect the food is having on you in the form of sleepiness, bloatedness, sluggishness, lethargy, anxiety, or queasiness.  When you don’t sleep well or wake up in the morning feeling lousy, pause for a moment and think about what you fed your body the day before.  Once you realize how food makes you feel, think about what small changes you could try to avoid the situation in the future.  In addition, recognizing the foods and activities that leave you feeling great and full of energy will provide you with valuable information regarding your body’s needs.   Learning to listen to the messages your body sends will naturally facilitate you transition to a healthier lifestyle and keep you moving forward. 

When I was transitioning to a new, healthy lifestyle, there were days when I would stray off track.  For instance, going to a party in the evening could throw me off.  I’d try to eat less during the day and end up famished by the time I got to the event, which would sometimes cause me to make unwise choices.  When it happened, I was kind to myself and reflected about why it happened and what new behaviors I could experiment with to keep me on track.  I eventually changed my behavior and typically eat an apple or other healthy snack prior to attending an event where I will be eating.  It satisfies any pangs of hunger I’m experiencing and keeps me level-headed enabling me to pause and make sensible choices. 

Unexpected health challenges can also serve as the impetus to a backward slide.  Being diagnosed with an unforeseen health condition can be scary and send your life in an unforeseen direction; however, it can also serve as the motivation to re-assess your lifestyle and make healthy improvements.  In some instances better health can be attained in the long run by accepting the situation and perceiving it as an opportunity meant to take your life in a new direction.     

I invite you to be gentle and kind to yourself and look at a step backward in a positive manner.  The path to personal growth may be erratic as backward steps occur and present opportunities to enhance your growth.  By accepting and learning from your missteps, you will create positive energy that will put you back on track and strengthen your resolve to continue moving forward in the direction of your healthy goals.  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.

  “All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.”  Sally Ride

Transitions are inevitable as we journey through our days.  Life transitions continually occur and can be scary and overwhelming.  Sometimes we are forced to modify an aspect of our lives due to circumstances beyond our control.  Other times we find some part of our existence is making us unhappy and contemplate altering it.  In either case, we can choose to resist change or flow with it.  Big changes can seem daunting and create anxiety that prevents us from moving toward our goal and leaves us feeling like we’re stuck in the mud.  Refusing to accept change as an unavoidable part of life fuels the negative thoughts in our heads that threaten to hinder us from growing in the direction of our heart’s desires.  If we fail to act and allow fear to envelop us, we feel like we’re being hopelessly pulled under by quicksand.  There are simple strategies that can ease you through big life changes that initially seem impossible.   Accepting that life transitions are inescapable and breaking them down into small steps can help ease you into a new lifestyle.    

When I look back to the beginning of my 100 Pound weight loss journey, I fondly recall it as the beginning of an adventure.  At the time I didn’t think of it as an adventure, but I was not intimidated by it either.  Because I took my time to slowly embrace the idea by letting it seep into my consciousness, the magnitude of my goal did not make me anxious or seem unattainable.  Because I had been overweight since childhood, this undertaking could have seemed insurmountable had I not broken it down into a series of small steps that fit my unique personality and lifestyle.  When it comes to health strategies, there is no magic formula that will work for everyone.  One key to successful lifestyle transitions is to take into consideration your exclusive lifestyle and personal needs.  Each one of us is different and by embracing our individuality instead of resisting it, we can transition to new positive behaviors that are easily incorporated into our lives and leave us feeling happy and healthy. Some people thrive in group settings while others prefer to go it alone and do their own thing.  I’ve never felt comfortable in group settings so I set out to do my own thing and initially didn’t share my intentions with anyone.  Inevitably, people started asking questions as they noticed I had lost weight.  Admittedly, I was a bit uncomfortable often preferring not to discuss the details.  I did what made me feel secure with my decisions at the time, which helped to propel me forward.  Pursue whatever unique approach resonates with you. 

I love transitional behaviors, and they continue to serve me well.  Ultimately, when I have a goal that is far from where I am starting, I’ve found that making small improvements leads me to big results.  Often the small change that I incorporate into my life is not where I want to end up but an important step on my path that moves me forward and enables me to reach my ultimate goal.  There is no way that I could have taken one huge leap from being a junk food queen to eating healthy.  Along the way, I slowly improved my eating habits.  Sometimes it meant selecting the healthier fast food option instead of foregoing fast food altogether.  Categorizing improved food and exercise choices as good, better, or best options, and telling myself that I could choose any of them and consider it a success allowed the seeds of change I had planted in my mind to take root and support me during my evolution to a healthier life.  There are many foods that I ate during my transition to healthier eating that I wouldn’t consider eating today but at the time they were a better choice and served me well.  By never denying myself anything, the unhealthy foods lost their power over me.  In addition, by congratulating myself on each small improvement, I fueled my desire to continue evolving.  I choose to embrace the fact that continuing to learn and grow is a lifelong adventure.    

Consider choosing one behavior that you’d like to improve.  Are you currently in the habit of walking in the door at night and grabbing an unhealthy snack?  If yes, it’s beneficial to contemplate why.  Maybe you typically eat small meals and are truly hungry.  If that’s the case, a healthy snack can quell your hunger pangs until dinner; and the behavior is healthy and appropriate for your unique lifestyle.  If you are snacking when you get home out of habit or as a means to relax, the thought of totally giving it up may create anxiety.  You may have become conditioned to use this behavior as a means to help you unwind after a stressful day or provide an energy boost.  If you’re not ready to completely give up this habit, could you improve upon it?  If you believe you are going to snack, wouldn’t it be better to accept it for the time-being but make some small changes that will move you in the direction of your goals?  Accepting your current situation by extending compassion and kindness to yourself will create positive energy that will shift you in the direction of your dreams.  You could begin to transition away from the undesired behavior by replacing it with an improved choice.  Your ultimate goal may be to give up this habit because you are eating when you’re not hungry; however, you could improve upon it by making a new good, better, or best choice.  As you move forward, you may decide that you no longer need this behavior and opt to put on your sneakers and go for a short walk, take a nap, or read a book instead of de-stressing with food. 

I invite you to gently accept and approach life transitions as opportunities to grow.  By taking a moment to look at your current lifestyle, you may determine that some small improvements could help transition you to a healthier lifestyle.  Be secure in the knowledge that transitions are a part of life.  Embracing them with a daring spirit and believing they are adventures will foster your personal growth far beyond what you may currently believe you can accomplish.  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.

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.”  Anne Wilson Schaef

All of my attempts at perfection have failed miserably.  I spent a good portion of my life in pursuit of the perfect diet and exercise plan, a plan that would quickly transform me into a thin person.  Part of the perfect eating plan was the denial of certain foods.  As soon as a food was prohibited, I couldn’t get enough of it because I feared I’d never be able to eat it again.  After gorging on my forbidden foods, I’d enthusiastically embark on my newfound plan with high hopes.  Unfortunately, my expectations were completely unrealistic and predictably, I’d slip eventually.  My failure would stir up the chastising voices in my head leading to complete abandonment of my healthy intentions.  All forms of exercise would be forsaken, a bingeing backlash would ensue, and I’d end up disheartened and feeling doomed again.  What I’ve come to learn is there is no perfect plan for any area of my life.  Trying to achieve perfection is an invitation to self-abuse.  Taking a kinder, gentler approach by striving to improve the choices you make every day can lead to long-term success and sustainable lifestyle changes. 

Attempts at perfection are often born from committing to rules created in your mind.  Breaking rules leads to emotionally abusing yourself and wallowing in guilt as a result of a perceived failure.  This rigid form of thinking repeatedly set me up to fail.  The quality of my days was judged by how perfectly I had followed the impractical rules I was trying to live by.  Failing to live up to my unreasonable goals, an indiscretion had the potential to blow the day, which often evolved into blowing the week and catapulting me back to my unhealthy habits. 

Every individual is unique and has his/her own distinct lifestyle needs.  What works for one person will not work for everybody.  Furthermore, what worked for you at one time in your life may no longer serve your best interests.  Many “experts” may have ideas on what will work best for you, but ultimately, you are the only expert you need.  There is no perfect plan.  In addition, it is important to consider your current lifestyle and what sustainable changes can be effectively incorporated into your day.  As you experiment with making diet and lifestyle changes, be gentle with yourself.  It can take time to overcome all the dieting and exercise information you’ve absorbed and attempted to live by through the years. 

Striving to improve my choices by following guidelines radically improved my chances of success and helped me adapt to a new way of thinking.  Guidelines offer a spectrum of choices and are more forgiving than rules.  Instead of panicking when I was unable to eat my idea of the healthiest selection, I was able to choose from a range of options and make the good, better, or best selection.  There were no prohibited foods so I never felt like I had to binge on something I would never eat again.  This method of thinking enabled me to be imperfect, alleviated any feelings of stress and guilt associated with making the wrong choice, and empowered me with the flexibility necessary to realistically thrive within my existing lifestyle.      

I also started substituting the word could for should.  Should implies rules; could implies choices.  Giving myself permission to make a decision allowed me to be imperfect and freed me from having to stick to a set of rules.  This very minor change in my thinking helped to profoundly change my life.  If I was thinking I should have a salad for lunch and didn’t have the salad, I felt like I hadn’t lived up to my expectations.  By thinking I could have a salad, I was allowing myself to make a choice.  If I chose to forego the salad, I was able to let it go and move on without dwelling on a broken rule and feeling guilty.       

Be realistic and consider how to successfully incorporate healthy changes into your busy lifestyle.  You could decide that the best choice for you is to eat fresh vegetables every day; however, having access to fresh vegetables every day may be unrealistic.  Having frozen and canned vegetables on hand will allow you to live within your guidelines by opting for the better choice of frozen vegetables or the good choice of canned vegetables. The feeling of successfully choosing any one of the options will help to build momentum to continue improving your choices.    

Consider the different choices as a personal experiment.  Pay attention to how you feel after you eat certain foods.  You will find that some foods give you energy and make you feel great while other foods will leave you feeling sleepy and sluggish.  In addition, notice how eating at different times of the day affects you.  Do you ever wonder why some mornings you wake up feeling awful?  If you connect these feelings to what and when you ate, the foods and behaviors that work best for you will become evident; and your desire for the unhealthy foods will naturally fade.  On days when you wish you had made better choices, chalk it up to a learning experience.  Get out of your head and think about how your body felt if you overindulged or ate something unhealthy.  Your body is instinctively trying to keep you healthy.  It is always sending you messages to keep you in balance and is far more trustworthy than your mind, which is inclined to berate you for any perceived indiscretions.  When you consciously choose to indulge in a special treat, savor it without guilt.  This is a huge accomplishment for some people who have been denying themselves their forbidden foods for most of their lives.  I’ve found that by giving myself permission to eat and savor foods that I had previously categorized as bad, my desire for them slipped away.   

When it comes to exercise, be realistic and incorporate activities into your life that you enjoy and want to make a part of your life.  A lot of people have the “no pain, no gain” mentality when it comes to exercise.  When people embark on exercise programs, this mentality often causes them to crash and burn.  By gradually incorporating a small amount of exercise into your day, you will build momentum.  As the momentum builds, you will naturally want to increase the amount of exercise you are doing.  I enjoy taking spin classes at the gym.  Admittedly, I’m not the most intense spinner in the class.  However, I get a good workout and really love the classes, which is why I keep doing it.  I also love walking, which I do almost every day, can do almost anyplace, and can see myself doing for the rest of my life.        

I invite you to embrace imperfection and build a foundation of healthy living that is realistic, flexible, and in alignment with your lifestyle.  Making small lifestyle changes and providing yourself with a range of choices will gently take you in the direction of good health.   As you slowly incorporate positive changes into your life, you will feel like you’re floating downstream towards a healthy, new, sustainable lifestyle.  In addition, I invite you to tell your friends and sign up for weekly e-mail updates 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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