Be Light and Healthy

Posts Tagged ‘weight loss

“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.

“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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur.”  John Wooden

Small changes in any area of your life can lead to amazing things.  In this fast-paced society, we’ve become conditioned to expect immediate results. Whenever I dove into something expecting quick results, I got them – followed by an immediate backslide to my old behavior, which served to create more angst in my life.  Making big changes is scary though we often don’t realize or acknowledge that we are experiencing fear.  Just the thought of giving up a habit can cause anxiety.  Though our hearts may be beckoning us to change, our minds are resistant and prefer to stay in their comfort zones.  Our minds often dismiss even the smallest change in favor of the stagnant security of our lives.  Our thoughts convince us that being comfortable takes precedence over taking a risk that could move us forward and ultimately lead us to greater happiness.  The thought of changing some area of your life may be overwhelming, but a series of small steps will allow you to ease into a new lifestyle.  By accepting wherever you are on your path at the moment and dropping your resistance to change, you will lessen any apprehension you may be feeling.  Congratulate yourself for your awareness and desire to improve your life. 

We often don’t realize how powerful our minds are.  They are constantly trying to steer the ship that is our life by drowning out the yearnings of our heart and clinging to the well-worn complacency we’ve become accustomed to.  The voices in our heads are constantly talking to us.  Are the voices kind and forgiving or are they constantly chastising?  If they are compassionate and caring, we are more likely to move forward on the path of our desires.   Because our minds are so afraid of change, gently introducing an idea opens them up and allows an inkling of possibility to seep in.  Just gently thinking about change is a very small first step that can lead to big things.  Posing a potential change as a question helps to soften it.  “Wouldn’t it be nice if I lost 100 Pounds?” is more gentle and soothing than a declaration that I will lose 100 Pounds.  For affirmations to work you have to already believe they are possible whereas a question allows your brain to catch up with your heart’s desires and slowly absorb the idea and a new way of thinking.  If you wish to improve your current health habits, it’s beneficial to consider the different aspects of your life and how you can make small changes that can slowly be integrated into your current lifestyle.  

Big changes are born from simple, small acts.  Daydreaming for one minute each day about how you will feel and look in a great new outfit can spark a desire to make small improvements.  Spending time luxuriating in positive thoughts about how you feel when you harness the power of your imagination will help to solidify the belief that your intention is possible.  The idea will take root in your mind, and you will eventually begin to believe it and naturally want to take another small step.    

Once you have pondered making a change, begin to think about a small action you can undertake to move you in the direction of your intention.  The key is to start small and focus on the fact that you are actually starting to move forward.  Compare the potential progress you are capable of making to doing nothing at all.  If I hadn’t started thinking about losing 100 Pounds and making small changes, I believe that at the very least I would still be 100 Pounds overweight.  More likely, I would have continued to gain weight and my health would have begun to suffer as a result of it.  In contrast I’m in excellent health, full of energy, and very active.              

Years ago I couldn’t imagine getting up early in the morning to workout.  I liked to sleep as late as possible and rush out the door without a moment to spare.  Spurred on by my successes eating better and incorporating more activity into my life, I started contemplating adding more exercise into my day.  For months I thought about getting up earlier to exercise.  When I assessed my lifestyle, the morning appeared to be my best option for consistently exercising.  Getting up early would allow me to start my day off on a positive note.  In addition, it could easily be integrated into my lifestyle and wouldn’t interrupt my after work routine.  One spring I took advantage of the sun rising earlier and began setting my alarm clock a couple of minutes earlier than usual.  At first when I woke up, I would just lie there and think that I could get up and exercise if I wanted.  Some days I decided to forego exercise and just stayed in bed.  I congratulated myself for waking up earlier instead of chastising myself for not exercising.  Other days I got up but still decided to forego exercise.  Eventually, I chose to get up and do a few minutes worth of exercise.  Slowly but surely, I got into a morning exercise routine.  Big things did occur as a result of these small improvements.  The amount of sleep I required greatly decreased, my energy increased, and I continued to lose weight and felt great!  I’m still a morning exerciser and can see myself continuing this routine for the rest of my life.  Getting up early and exercising was a huge accomplishment for me that started with a series of very small steps.        

A wonderful thing about small changes is the feeling of success that sneaks up on you.  Because the changes are easily and painlessly incorporated into your life, they slowly become part of your lifestyle.  One day a sense of accomplishment and serenity settles upon you as you reap the benefits of small changes and realize the big things that have occurred. 

I invite you to gently contemplate making some small improvements in your life by asking yourself each day what small changes will take you in the direction of your heart’s desire.  Planting those delicate seeds of change in your mind and cultivating them by speaking to yourself with kindness and compassion will lead to small successes that build momentum and propel you forward to accomplish big things.  In addition, I invite you to tell 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 that we are is the result of what we have thought.  The mind is everything.  What we think, we become.”  Buddha

Recently, I celebrated the eighth anniversary of my 100 pound weight loss.  When I reflect upon my life prior to losing the weight, I often marvel at how a simple, gentle thought led to a series of small steps that resulted in a life-changing journey.  You see, when I was 37 years old, I started thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I lost 100 pounds by the time I turn 40?”  Honestly, in the beginning, I didn’t necessarily believe I could accomplish this feat.  I had been overweight my entire life and riding the dieting rollercoaster since I was a teenager.  Previously, I’d had all kinds of big, brash thoughts about crash dieting my way to a thinner body so I’d look good.  My new motivation was a desire to remain healthy as I got older.  Initially, the idea would tenderly slip into my consciousness.   I’d mull it around and let it sit there for awhile as if we had just met and were getting to know each other.  Because the thought was so kind and caring, it didn’t stir up the negative voices in my head that would have caused me to dismiss or resist it.  Like most overweight people, I had spent my entire life living in my head admonishing myself for every morsel that traversed my lips.  Instead, my new idea gingerly softened my mind and opened it up to the possibilities of slowly changing my life. 

My thought remained clandestine between my mind and spirit until eventually my body became engaged.  Instead of sharing it with anyone, I opted to shelter it allowing it to slowly seep into my consciousness and take root.  I wasn’t obsessed with it.  It just occasionally gently floated to the surface of my mind.  As I was getting used to my idea, I lovingly cultivated it as if it were a fragile seed that had just been nestled in the earth.  When it would slip into my awareness, I could feel the expression on my face soften into wonder.  I didn’t experience any anxiety about losing the weight because there were no strings attached to the thought.  I didn’t have a clear vision of where I was going but suspected an inkling of a dream was beginning to take root.   A sense of peacefulness descended upon me, and I felt like I was floating down a river carried by the essence of my new thoughts.     

As a result of my new thinking, I pondered making some small changes in my lifestyle.  Since I was primarily consuming junk food, I started considering healthier options though I never forbade myself from eating the junk.  I categorized my options as good, better, or best knowing that I could choose any of them and be okay with my choice.  My choices improved and gradually there was less room for the unhealthy stuff.  Simultaneously, I felt better and had more energy, which encouraged me to continue down my newly tilled path.  Initially, it felt weird eating healthy food; but the positive effects were undeniable.  I also incorporated a little more activity into my routine by parking further from my destination and opting to take the stairs instead of the elevator sometimes.  Eventually, I realized that I had started to think of myself as a healthy person and was becoming the result of my thoughts. 

The culmination of the positive energy created by my thoughts combined with the results of my small steps strengthened my conviction that my goal was attainable.  I started thinking, “Hey, maybe I really can do this” and could feel a knowing smile spread across my face.  The roots of my idea expanded in my mind and became anchored to my spirit.   I naturally chose to incorporate more healthy activities into my life.  I was very self-conscious when I started walking and did not walk very far, but taking those steps flamed the spark that had been lit by one simple thought.  I was becoming what I was thinking.  My weight slowly diminished strengthening my belief that I could lose 100 pounds by the time I turned 40.  Amazingly, when I stepped on the scale on my 40th birthday, I had lost exactly 100 pounds.    

I invite you to contemplate the power of your thoughts.  No matter what your dream is or how big it is, you can accomplish it.  Be kind to yourself no matter where you are on your life’s journey.  Recognize a desire to change as a tiny spark that can be flamed by your thoughts.  By taking some small steps, you will advance in the direction of your dream and your vision will become clearer. Inevitably, you will become what you think.  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.  

“The question is not ‘What if I die tomorrow?’  It is, ‘What if I live another 20 or 30 years the way I am?”  Kim Wolinski

For some people the thought of dying tomorrow serves as a reminder that this lifetime is finite and motivates them to experience life to its fullest.  However, it can also serve as an excuse to forego changing your behavior in a positive manner.  It’s easy to justify eating that hot fudge sundae or not being active by thinking “Hey, I could die tomorrow so I should just enjoy myself now.”  The truth is the vast majority of us are not going to die tomorrow, and how we treat our bodies drastically affects the quality of our lives as we age.  Though it sounds insensitive, the truth is that if you’re unhealthy and you die tomorrow, the problem is solved.  The bigger question is what if you live for many more years? 

Aging is looked upon negatively in our culture.  Instead of accepting it as the natural progression of our time here on earth, many people deny and resist it.  In addition, they believe failing health is inevitable, and their beliefs are reflected in the quality of their lives.  The first step to improving your health is to change your thinking.  By taking care of ourselves, we can avoid waning health.  Compression of morbidity refers to condensing the time associated with physical and mental decline as we age.  By cultivating a healthy lifestyle, we can expect to thrive as we get older.  Combining good health and the wisdom of your years is a dynamic and rewarding approach to aging.  I was fortunate and didn’t have any health issues prior to losing 100 pounds; however, I believed they were inevitable as my unhealthy lifestyle collided with the aging process as I approached 40.  I had witnessed other people’s health diminish when they reached this pivotal age.  Instead of just accepting my belief, I used it as motivation to change my lifestyle.  The human body wants to be healthy and is constantly trying to pull you into balance.  It’s never too late to start improving your health.  An inspiring example is my uncle who is 87 years old and remains healthy and active.  During inclement weather, he puts a stack of pennies in his hand and walks around his house.  Each time he completes a lap, he drops a penny.  He continues with his laps until all the pennies have been deposited.  As long as you’re breathing, making small positive changes can have a real impact on your health and the quality of your life.    

People’s obsession with instant gratification runs rampant in modern society.  It’s no wonder that people are looking for quick fixes – a pill to make them better, a get thin quick diet, or weight-loss surgery.  The fast-paced world we live in often distracts us from the fundamental fact that making sustainable life changes requires an investment of time.  It’s unrealistic to think that years of unhealthy living can be reversed overnight.  However, slowly changing your behavior can lead to lasting changes that will profoundly impact the quality of your life and serve as the foundation for healthy aging.  It’s important to recognize that change is uncomfortable, and we often look for excuses to stay stuck in our negative behavior.  If we fail to pause and reflect, we remain unfocused and continue moving in the wrong direction or fail to move at all.  By taking small steps, we can correct the course we’re on and begin moving in the right direction. 

Paying attention to how different foods affect us can help us embrace the change process and become aware of the information our bodies are trying to communicate.  Each individual is unique; consequently, there is no one perfect diet for everyone.  In addition, our reactions to food change as we age.  Our bodies are constantly sending us messages to tell us what foods will optimize our health, but most of us are not open to receiving them.  By experimenting with different foods and remaining aware of how they make us feel, we can learn to trust the messages our bodies are sending.  As we transition to foods that provide us with energy and make us feel good, it compels us to continue down the path to good health.  If the mind-body connection is weak, it may take some time to tune into the messages.  Be gentle with yourself as you start to connect what you are eating with how it affects you.  Starting to experiment can be as simple as trying different foods for breakfast and checking in with yourself immediately after you eat and again a couple of hours later to notice how you feel. Eventually, you may choose to expand the experiment to encompass all the foods you are eating.  Keeping a Food-Mood Journal can help you identify patterns that emerge and facilitate your transition to healthier foods. 

In addition to nourishing ourselves with wholesome food as we age, it’s important to pay attention to primary foods, which Joshua Rosenthal, founder of Institute for Integrative Nutrition, categorizes as relationships, career, spirituality, and exercise – things that nourish our souls.  If you are retired, it’s important to retain your sense of purpose.  Volunteering, engaging in activities that enable you to connect with others, and spending time in nature are very nurturing to the spirit.  In addition to exercising your body, it’s essential to exercise your mind.  Following your heart and pursuing activities that bring you joy will enhance the quality of your life.   

I invite you to question your current beliefs about aging.  If necessary, change your thinking and focus on the positive aspects.  Reflect on your current state of health and consider making some small changes to enhance the quality of your life.  The investments you make now will help build a strong foundation of optimum health and wellness that will support you for the rest of your life.  In addition, I invite you to sign up for weekly e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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