Be Light and Healthy

Posts Tagged ‘weight loss inspiration

“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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“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.  You’ll wish that summer could always be here.”  Charles Tobias

Ahhhh, summer.  Life just seems simpler in the summer.  Gone are the bulky layers of clothing and complicated schedules of the other seasons.  Early in the morn the birds sing their waking songs heralding the arrival of dawn.  The sun majestically shines nurturing the earth and her creatures with rays of light.  The energy of summer is expressed in many diverse ways.  There are days when her essence invigorates us.  On those days we feel vibrant and have endless energy as the expansive light propels us forward into the evening.  Conversely, there are days when her rhythm inspires idleness and simplicity as we dwell in her vibration.  Nature’s duality beautifully balances her opposing elements. 

As we advance deeper into the season and the temperatures climb, the earth bestows her nourishing bounty upon us.  Instead of avoiding the kitchen on hot days by dining at a restaurant, simplify eating and meal preparation.  Recognize that your appetite wanes on really hot days and plan to have fresh fruit and vegetables on hand.  If you have to heat up the stove or oven, doing it early in the morning while it is still cool with the windows open to let the heat out will make your day more enjoyable.  It’s also the season of cookouts, and trying to eat healthy can present a challenge.  Though it may not bother you to refrain from eating the traditional barbeque fare, other people may feel uncomfortable around you.  Even if it is ultimately their issue, you may feel awkward and out of place.  Bringing a healthy choice to share with others can help you avoid unwanted attention and meld into the background like everyone else.  I’m not a big fan of veggie burgers, but I like to eat them at a cookout because it makes me feel more a part of the gathering.

A platter of fresh fruit, such as blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, grapes, bananas, and/or watermelon is always refreshing on a hot summer day.  Fresh vegetables and various flavors of hummus are tasty and a good substitute for chips and dip. 

Below are a couple of simple yet different summer salad ideas:

Cabbage Salad – Super Simple!  This salad is about 4 meal size servings.  It can easily be doubled to bring to a gathering.  When I initially started making this recipe years ago, I used white sugar as the sweetener but have evolved to try different options.   

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of cole slaw (or 4 cups shredded carrots, green cabbage, and red cabbage)
  • 1/3  cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp sweetener – honey, maple syrup, date sugar, or white sugar
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar

 Directions:

  • Roast seeds and nuts in a hot, dry skillet stirring constantly until a little browned. 
  • Mix seeds and nuts with cole slaw.
  • Whisk together soy sauce, sweetener, and vinegar.  Just before serving pour over cole slaw and mix well.

 

Wheat Berry Salad – Delicious & Colorful! A great option to bring to a gathering or keep in your refrigerator to eat for breakfast, add to a salad, or as a side dish.  Wheat berries can be found at Whole Foods Market or in the natural section of most grocery stores.  This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 3 cups water
  • ¾ cup chopped or whole walnuts
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped, fresh pineapple (or 1 8-Ounce can crushed pineapple)
  • 4 tbsp raw sunflower seeds

 Directions:

  • Soak wheat berries in water for 8 Hours or overnight.  Rinse.
  • Bring water and wheat berries to a boil then simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Drain water.
  • Add walnuts, dried cranberries, pineapple, sunflower seeds, and mix together.
  • Refrigerate.

Be gentle with yourself as you transition to a healthier lifestyle.  If you’ve spent your life eating conventional food at summer barbeques or using the heat as an excuse to eat out, it may feel awkward to be eating healthier.  From my experiences I’ve learned that it gets easier each time you do it, and believe that it will for you too.  Compromise with yourself and allow some indulgences.  When you consciously choose to indulge, take smaller bites and chew slowly.  Intentionally savoring the experience will allow you to enjoy it and then release it without any guilt.  Focus on the positive choices you make, and congratulate yourself on your successes.  Forgive yourself for any choices that you wish you hadn’t made and consider them learning opportunities.  Trust that you will make better choices next time.  By slowly transitioning to healthier choices, you may eventually find that you lose your desire for much of the unhealthy stuff.    

I invite you to continue making small changes in your lifestyle as the temperatures heat up.  Take advantage of your waning desire to eat when it’s hot out, and be prepared with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Bring a healthy dish to share with others at summer cookouts.  You may find other kindred spirits interested in trying new healthy options too.  If so, mention this blog and suggest they 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.

“Then followed that beautiful season… Summer….Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The joyful nature of our souls shines as the summer solstice is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere. The daylight is finishing its cycle of expansion and will begin the process of slowly receding.  Summer is the season of growth and maturation and reminds us of time long gone.  It brings back memories of carefree childhood days playing outdoors.  Seemingly endless days spent chasing butterflies and building sandcastles as the sun bathed us in its warmth.  Hearing an old summer song can invoke feelings of nostalgia as we recall the hot summer days of our teenage years spent hanging out with friends free of life’s burdens with a lifetime of possibilities before us.  It was easy to live in the moment without giving a thought to the past or the future.  Just as we are truly beginning to enjoy the increasing light of warm days, we are reminded of the fleeting nature of the seasons as daylight begins to wane. Like nature’s seasons, the seasons of our lives are transient.  

Life just seems simpler and more invigorating in the summer.  We feel more alive, and our hearts are lighter.  The world shimmers brightly as the vitality of her life force infuses our consciousness.  The gentle awakening of the earth that began in the spring continues as the seeds that were sowed and sprouted through the darkness of the soil reach maturation.  The energy of our planet is at a high point as nature’s vital essence provides the natural resources necessary to produce the crops that sustain us.  We begin to reap the harvest of her nourishing bounty.  The vivid colors of freshly picked strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, eggplants are visual evidence of the vibrant life force of ripe fruits and vegetables.

If we are living in synchronicity with nature’s rhythms, lighter foods naturally appeal to us as we are entrained to summer’s tempo.  In today’s modern society we’ve lost our connections to our natural instincts.  Processed foods have become the primary sustenance of most people.  In these cases we may not recognize or may ignore our body’s intuitive hunger for the foods that nature provides during the summer season.  We’ve become habituated to eating the same foods year-round, but our bodies have different needs throughout nature’s cycles.  We feel healthier and more energized if our eating habits are seasonally adjusted and in harmony with nature.  Our ancestors had no choice but to eat what was locally grown and available seasonally.  They spent the long days of summer working the land and got their energy from the fruits and vegetables they harvested.

Eating fresh, unprocessed foods nourishes every cell in our bodies and fills us with positive energy.  Fresh, locally grown food is more nutrient dense due to the shorter time span between harvest and consumption.  In addition, supporting local agriculture helps to eliminate transportation pollution and makes us feel more connected to our local communities.   The Farmers’ Markets are opening and berry picking has started.  If you don’t typically eat fresh produce, visit a local Farmers’ Market to experience it. Take the time to engage all of your senses during your visit.  See the vivid colors of ripened berries and smell their enticing aromas.  Feel the texture of the radishes and asparagus.  Try something that has been freshly picked and listen as you take your first bite.  Pause to really savor and taste the lusciousness as you chew.  Take a weekly trip to a Farmers’ Market to investigate what newly ripened produce is available. Berry picking is a great way to get kids interested in healthy eating and cultivate an appreciation of the nourishment provided by the land.

On hot summer days, there is little desire to spend time cooking in a hot kitchen.  Many people lose their appetites and choose to eat lighter.  Raw foods in the form of fruits, salads, leafy greens, and sprouts become more attractive.  Raw fruits and vegetables are both cooling and energizing.  I find the lethargic feeling that sometimes comes with the heat and is exacerbated by consuming processed foods is counteracted by eating raw foods.  I feel lighter, happier, and withstand the heat better when I eat fresh fruits and vegetables.  Due to their high water content, fruits and vegetables are also a source of hydration.  It’s important to stay well-hydrated if you’re outside in the heat.  If you find yourself feeling sluggish, pause for a moment and consider if the feeling can be attributed to dehydration. 

During the warm weather, we also spend more time outdoors with family and friends.  We look forward to barbeques.  If you’re grilling, lightly grilled vegetables or fruits are a nice addition to a meal.  It’s as easy as brushing some olive oil and sprinkling some Italian spices on slices of zucchini and summer squash before grilling them.  Another simple option is wrapping some onions and/or garlic in tin foil with a drizzle of olive oil or dollop of butter on top and letting them slowly cook on the grill until they’re tender and caramelized.  Grilled pineapple is also a sweet and delicious treat.   

When I was a junk food queen prior to my 100 pound weight loss, the hot weather was an excuse to eat ice cream.  Back then I rarely ate fresh produce and was conditioned to want ice cream when the temperatures climbed.  I was accustomed to eating processed foods and wasn’t conscious of healthier options.   As I slowly changed my eating habits by adding healthy foods into my routine, I learned to listen to my body.  Like many people, I feel congested when I eat dairy.  I still indulge in ice cream occasionally; however, fresh fruit or a healthy fruit smoothie is a better option for me.  Delicious and refreshing with lots of beneficial antioxidants, fruit smoothies are also a great way to get some healthy food into kids.    

I invite you to savor the days of summer by living in the moment.  Harness the energy of the season to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your life.  Take a trip to a Farmers’ Market and consider trying something new.  Create some joyful summer memories by taking your kids or yourself berry picking.  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 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.


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