All of us have this one thing in common. Every single person I've ever known, met, read about, or heard about has a common desire: to be happy. There's probably some evolutionary origin - perhaps concerning self-preservation and security of life, or something - that has evolved into the modern idea of happiness, or the general desire for one's own well-being.
This desire leads to a life-long pursuit, though we may not always be aware of it. We pursue our own happiness in the friends we acquire, the relationships we cultivate, the career path we choose, the subjects we study, the causes or belief systems we embrace, the style we adopt, the clothes we wear, the trips we take, and so on. We can try so hard to find happiness that we end up creating and living in an energy that is far from happy. Or we can busy ourselves so much with the pursuit that we tune out cues that we've already found the happiness we were looking for.
You've heard the quote that happiness is not a destination, but a journey. Well, even the journey can be a misdirect. The truth is that happiness is found in gratitude. Pursuing goals and loving people and otherwise creating a good life is a way to experience happiness, but only if you stop to notice how those things are making you happy in this moment. We must be mindfully grateful for that friend who always has our back, that career that stems from our passion, and those jeans that fit just right. The fruit of our happiness pursuit is happiness itself.
Is happiness an elusive goal for you, or something you experience everyday?
What's one thing you're absolutely grateful for right now?
The New Year is upon us again and no doubt many of us are thinking about our goals, particularly fitness related. Being healthy should always be at the top of our priority list. But health is multi-faceted: it's physical, environmental, spiritual, and mental. We would be wise little birdies to keep all aspects of our health and well-being in constant review.
Our physical health is an obvious one. We improve it with exercise and eating smaller portions of healthier foods. It's a simple formula, but can be difficult to adhere to consistently. Yet our best efforts will not be wasted if we really try.
Our environmental health is in our control as much as we can choose where we allow ourselves to be. We can choose the people we surround ourselves with. We can take measures to prevent inhaling and consuming toxins by living as naturally as possible.
Our spiritual health is very individual and ranges from devout religion to simply being at peace with oneself in the choices and situations of life. Daily practices and rituals help us to maintain or achieve higher levels of spiritual awareness.
The one that ties them all together, however, is mental health. Our mind is a powerful force. It drives us to strive for or shy away from any pursuit or path. The battle for our entire health is fought in the mind. Physical, environmental, spiritual - everything depends on what you have set (and continue to set) your mind to.
So make a resolution to feed, nourish, engage, relax, and strengthen your mind. Pay attention to the energy of people and places and situations. Stay in the positive as much as possible and remove the negative from your life. Sometimes it's not possible through willpower alone and in those cases, other options are out there. But as much as you have control, take care of your mental health. There is a line in a song: "Free your mind, and the rest will follow!" When your mind is well, you will be too.
Share your thoughts:
Do you have resolutions for the coming year?
Do you plan to improve some aspect your health? How?
This morning I awoke with fitness on the brain. My physical fitness, to be exact. I've been slacking off on my exercise routine lately and I'm starting to really miss it.
I'm the type of person that takes awhile to make a change because I want to be sure of what I want and what it will take to get there. I like to think out my plan and consider all aspects of a thing before acting. I like to have a degree of certainty that something will work out before trying it. I need time to visualize the habit forming before I start something new. In my experience, this has been an asset in some situations and a hindrance in others!
When it comes to working out, I tend to not want to do it all if things seem fine without it (ie: not gaining weight, no aches and pains, having a general feeling of positive self-esteem). But deep down I know that exercise is a necessary part of good health, it improves your mood, and it's a great way to break out of a rut - mentally or physically. Not only that, but I'm still on a journey and I haven't made it to my goal yet.
One thing I've realized about the dreaded weight-loss plateau is that, if you're not careful, it can become your new comfort zone. Now, despite the bad rap comfort zones get, I do not think they are the devil. In general it's okay to have a safe place as long as you're not afraid to leave it sometimes. But in the case of my weight loss intention, it's not on plan to stop right here. You could say "well, if you feel good and are healthier than before, why not scale back your goal and just be happy with where you are now?" I've actually asked myself this question...quite a bit. The rumbling in my spirit is always the same - "you're not there yet." I don't want to just live on this level. I want to go bigger (or smaller, actually).
I have been persistent along this journey - from the beginning, cutting portion sizes, adding more and more exercise. I've been consistent to maintain my weight loss to this point - adopting permanent changes in my eating and learning to pay attention to my body. But I'm discovering that there is a little more to it. When you reach a plateau, you have to start over with new persistence and new consistency. This is where I am now - working on renewing my persistence and building a new level of consistency. As we always discover, it's a mental battle to win. If you're with me in a similar place, let me know in the comments below.
Share your thoughts:
Does your personality lead you to be more of a "plan it out" type or a "just go now" type?
Have you ever found yourself in a plateau? Did you get comfortable or keep fighting against it?
How do you stay persistent and consistent in your fitness efforts?
I've been at this weight loss thing for 21 months now. I'm so grateful to say that I've lost about 70 pounds! However, while a normal person would be ecstatic about this, I tend to be bummed out when I think about it. But of course I'm not normal, right? I kid...:)
The frustrating part is the plateau I've been on for a year now. That's right - a whole year. I lost those 70 pounds in the first 9 months and while I've gained a few and lost a few since then, the scale has basically been steady all this time.
At first I was majorly frustrated - I was angry at myself for not having the will power or drive or motivation to push myself to that mighty "next level" that everyone talks about. Then I thought, well maybe my usual consistency and discipline will eventually pay off and I'll start losing again - no dice. Now I'm at a point of reluctant acceptance. In the back of my mind I know that I still could make some radical changes to my diet and I can still up the intensity of my workouts, but my drive to do it is non-existent at the moment. Does that make me lazy? A failure? A schlub? I don't know. I do know what I've accomplished and I know what I have yet to accomplish. Getting there is still TBD.
Share your thoughts:
Have you ever reached a plateau in your fitness journey? How did it make you feel?
Have you ever busted through a plateau? How did you do it?
There is one thing that works against your fitness routine worse than any other element: Procrastination.
It’s so easy to follow the mindset of “I’ll start tomorrow.” We’ve all done it – we have for some reason come to believe that one can only begin something new on the first day of the week or the first day of the month. But there’s no rule that says that – it’s just a form of procrastination. Besides, when you allow yourself to put off starting or restarting (because of some need to begin on the 1st or a slip in your diet) you’re giving into the fear. Because isn’t that why we’re really putting it off? We are afraid it will be hard, or we will fail at it, or it will cut into our fun/comfort/schedule too much.
I say just go for it! Start over every day if you have to. Every morning you can decide to do your best to stick with your fitness routine. Every morning is a fresh opportunity, and spoiler alert - we have a finite number of mornings to take advantage of those opportunities. So start right now, even if it’s mid-afternoon. No one’s fitness journey is perfect – just keep going.
Share your thoughts:
When do you feel the strongest urge to procrastinate when it comes to your health and fitness?
Do you have a trick you use to get back on track when you’ve slipped from your routine?
So you’ve decided to start some sort of fitness plan – good for you! You can do this!
Just a word of caution – focus on the smaller goals inside your bigger goal or risk what I call "goal paralysis." Big lofty goals are great to have - they help us to see the big picture. But the bigger the goal, the further away it is and we will grow tired of inching along toward something seemingly out of reach. We can become paralyzed in our big idea and ultimately quit before trying.
But if you set your sights on the mini-goals in between, you’ll experience regular accomplishments which will boost your ego - super important for motivation and momentum! Before you know it, that fitter, healthier version of you will be a reality.
Share your thoughts:
Have you ever set a big lofty goal, only to get derailed, distracted, and discouraged?
What motivates you – that big glorious finish line, or the little victories?
Starting a fitness routine, or even coming up with a fitness goal can seem like an impossible task. I’m here to tell you that it is possible to make a change that will last. My own fitness journey began nearly 2 years ago when I decided that I needed to improve my health. I had low energy and waning self-confidence, not to mention very limited clothing choices! The thing is, I don’t like to fail at things I try, so I wanted to set myself up to win. The first thing I did was decide to start – the second thing I did was walk. That one simple action changed my whole life (and that’s no exaggeration – I’ll share other parts of my story in future posts)! There you have the golden nugget, the core of any attempt to get fit: decide to do just one thing to improve your health and then start doing it.
Share your thoughts:
Is there something about your physical health that you want to improve?
What is one thing you know you can do to get started on improving your health?