Still Learning

There are so many things that I am still learning in life, and so many that will be a lifetime pursuit. I think that’s really the case for all of us – each day brings and endless opportunities to learn. And knowledge is infinite…

One of the harder lessons, however, is one that I struggle with daily – learning to be more gentle with myself. While I know that staying in the present moment is THE way to be (for so many reasons!), that the conversation I have with myself is crucial to my well-being, that I have SO much to be thankful for (and I am!) and that “I should be’s” are never appropriate…I STILL have a hard time.

Today is one of those days where I feel like I am beating myself up…ad infinitum! I don’t really deserve it, but it’s always the way that our habitual “hard-on-ourselves” attitudes are one of the most challenging to uproot.

Fortunately, I’m committed to the long haul – reflecting on my behaviors not only that affect those around me, but also myself, is something I do every day. I’ll be a “work in progress” for a lifetime but…that’s okay. I’m thankful for all that I have, and for all that my mind, body, and soul have – successfully – carried me through.

Here’s to being a little bit kinder to ourselves instead of carrying around unnecessary blame and hurt…

 

 

6 Personal Tricks To Maintaining Willpower

Every so often I’m asked what I do, or how I stick to my guns, in order to reach the goals I’ve set for myself. Some of my friends have said I stick to my routine like my life depends on it.  While it’s *generally* true that I color in the lines, it doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake all the time. Cake? Where?!  Is it chocolate!?  (See what I mean…?)

Some days it’s a challenge to keep myself on track, but I do have a few tried-and-true tricks to help me stay on the bandwagon when I want nothing more than to hurl myself off it!

Now it may be I’m already that crazy personality type that pushes myself extra hard…in everything…(and boy, is that exhausting!) It could be that I like routine. Or maybe it’s because I’ve seen other people succeed, and I want to get there too.  Either way, these tricks do come in handy, and are worth a shot if you are having some difficulty motivating. . . They have helped me enormously, and continue to.

What is willpower, though, anyway?  Willpower is typically used to refer to that miraculous, supernal compass that allows us to abstain from whatever it is that ISN’T so good for us…  Or, as the dictionary puts it:

For me, that would be eating whatever I want, not getting up and exercising most days, and not following through with the things that will help me grow as a person, or in a field I’m interested in.  I’ve admitted to myself full-on how much easier that life would be…but when I think about the implications of walking that path, I’ve rerouted very quickly…

So there’s tip #1 right there…

TIP #1 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning the Implications

This trick works for me the majority of the time.  I don’t really consider it as guilting myself into things, it’s more that I focus on the implications of NOT doing the action I’m struggling with, OR staying where I am…which is not where I want to be.  I know that if I decide to abandon my dietary habits, I skip my physical activities, give up on something I really want to learn (which I almost did recently!)…I’m going to suffer on a number of levels.  I’ll feel more exhausted, depressed about how I feel / look / not achieving, my skin will probably freak out, the doctors (I’m sure) will be on my case, and I’ll very likely be in a shitty mood all around.  Bad for everyone!

Then there’s tip #2…which is similar to the first, but it puts things in a positive light (which, frankly, is where I personally prefer to be.)

TIP #2 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning…and FEELING…the Goals

When I focus on my goals, I get the most bang for my buck – more so than #1 because, again, I’m making this positive.  I focus on what I want most – whether to maintain my current condition, learn more about a subject I’m new to, achieve the next rank in my Martial Art… Whatever the goal is, I focus on HOW I WILL FEEL once I HAVE IT.  That’s how the magic begins.  How to keep it going?  Picture it as if you ALREADY HAVE IT.  Once you get there, you’re golden.  There are mornings that getting up and spinning is the last thing I want to do.  But I focus on the feeling of “that felt great – I did it, and I worked hard, and now I’m ready for the day!”  Focusing on the feeling I’ll have in accomplishing that goal makes all the difference.

TIP #3 – Progress Snapshots

Progress snapshots can take a lot of forms – it really depends on what the goal is. If it’s with regard to my Martial Arts, I’ll make sure to take periodic photos of my attendance card to see just how far I’ve come, and how close my next test is.  If it’s with regard to physical condition, photos go a LONG way.  Photos help us to keep track of how we are doing in the most real sense – I’ve caught myself being off track from pictures plenty of times!  It’s not easy to see ourselves as we really are sometimes – photos keep us honest.

TIP #4 – Staying Gentle with Ourselves

Life is a challenging journey any way you slice it.  There will be ups and downs, and days you don’t damn well feel like “making a gratitude list!” That’s okay.  What’s important is that you are gentle with yourself in understanding we all get a little sidetracked from time to time.  Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling fully.  Then dust yourself off, remind yourself how far you’ve come / that you have made it through successfully before (and I guarantee that you have!), and get to it!  Wallowing in our shortcomings is incredibly dangerous, and a surefire way to keep the negative cycle going.  Chin up  – you can do it!

TIP #5 – Sharing Our Progress

Don’t forget to share your progress with those you trust and love – I assure you that they will want to share in your joy, encourage your continued journey, and would be willing to help you in any way they can.  That’s what loved ones are there for!  You aren’t alone, and you don’t have to go it alone. If you are having a tougher day, it’s okay to ask  a loved one for help, to vent, or to ask for a proper kick in the ass – like being brutally honest! – when you need it. 

TIP #6 – Changing Our Language and Inner Dialogue

I’m as guilty of the next person of putting myself down, and putting road blocks in my own way with negative thoughts or language.  It’s vital that we work on using positive language, such as “I can!”…and using it all the time.  When we are stuck in a rut, or feeling miserable about past failures, that’s when using positive language (and / or replacing negative language) is the most important.  We must remember that there is always a new opportunity waiting – there is no better time than the present to get back on track, and we can do that at any moment.  Forget four letter words like “can’t” as they serve only to derail.  Make sure your language is positive, and you are on your way!

Willpower can be hard to come by all the time…but it is NOT an impossibly-achieved, elusive superpower.  The more we work at it, the more we will have.

You have everything it takes to get back on – and stay on – track, so long as you really want whatever that goal is.

So. . .

In SUMMARY:

TIP #1 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning the Implications

  • DO stay honest with yourself about the full implications of staying where you are 
  • DO visualize, and own up to that result (of not following through)
  • DON’T throw in the towel!  You have what it takes!

TIP #2 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning…and FEELING…the Goals

  • DO focus on how you will FEEL once you attain your goal
  • DO picture yourself already achieving that goal (this is the key to the miracle!)

TIP #3 – Progress Snapshots

  • DO take periodic “snapshots” to keep you honest with your progress
  • DO take photos, as they are the more true picture of reality than we sometimes like to pretend
  • DO be creative! Taking a picture of a school report card, or positive e-mail from the boss counts!

TIP #4 – Be Gentle With Yourself

  • DO praise yourself with affirmations when you do a great job of making benchmarks
  • DO share your joy with those you love, as they will be proud of you also!
  • DON’T beat yourself up if you had a tough day

TIP #5 – Share the Joy…AND the Challenges!

  • DO share your successes with your loved ones
  • DO share your struggles if you need or want to
  • DON’T isolate yourself.  You don’t have to brave the journey alone!

TIP #6 – Change Your Inner Dialogue 

  • DO use positive language, and try to use it all the time
  • DO believe in yourself and say it aloud if necessary
  • DON’T wallow past failure
  • DON’T give in just because you are in a bad place.  Without change, it’s going to stay that way.
  • DON’T use “I can’t” or “it’s too hard” or I’ll never _____”

You’ve GOT THIS!

Clean Eating For The New Year

I’ve seen a ton of posts lately about clean eating shopping lists, so I’ll share a few sites also (below.)  It’s a great tool to have on hand when at the grocery store (which is best to go to when you aren’t hungry – I make that mistake all the time!) so I love that so many people are sharing their own versions.

Clean eating seems a lot more daunting than it is – it has always been a top “new year’s resolution” for people, but also one that seems to fizzle out.  Healthy is a lifestyle so it takes commitment – but it is more than achievable, and if you want it, you can have it!  

One of the best parts of seeing someone stick to their goals is when they start to feel “GREAT” again.  Not only do they have more energy, and feel physically better…the “looking better” (whatever that means in their terms – more muscle, maybe more toned, fitting into a smaller size etc) gives them worlds more confidence, and often a smile to go with it.  It’s awesome to see people feeling great in their own skin – everyone deserves that. ❤

But it is tricky sometimes, especially when it isn’t habit yet.  In that case, it helps to remember a few things (no one should ever have to feel discouraged!):

  • Little tweaks can make a BIG difference.  You don’t have to overhaul everything!
  • One derailment won’t cost you everything. Really, it won’t
  • Not buying it / having it at home is one of THE best ways to stay clean!
  • Portion mindfulness, and allowing yourself to digest is huge (I focus on this a lot for myself)
  • Meal prep can be a lifesaver
  • Surrounding yourself with like-minded folks is incredibly helpful
  • Be realistic.  You don’t have to drop a crazy amount of weight quickly – slow and steady is healthier, and far more achievable
  • Day at a time.  Works no matter the problem!

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Nothing feels as wonderful as being healthy – the results of taking care of yourself truly manifest in every aspect of your life. You don’t have to climb Everest either – little steps can add up to a LOT of success. 

For a few helpful shopping lists:

Pop Sugar Week 1 Clean Eating Shopping List

Ambitious Kitchen Free (Printable) Clean Eating Grocery List

Clean Eating Grocery List For Beginners by The Gracious Pantry

Pinterest (there are a multitude here!)

Eat Clean Snacks! (look it up for even more…)

To a happy, and healthy New Year!

Martial Arts Humor – All Bets Are Off

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s someone deliberately tickling me when I’ve made clear I don’t want to be tickled. Which is EVER.

Never.  

EVER.

The problem with training in Martial Arts, though, is. . . well. . .that little thing called reflexes…

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Be Proud Of ALL Your Efforts

A lot of us have this not-so-little habit of needing to top every workout… We have this drive to excel, not just coast along mediocre.  And along with it, we have the habit of being overboard with self-criticism.

But if we take a moment to breathe…to just BE…and recognize the efforts we ARE putting in, we may well find that we aren’t even doing okay…we are doing GREAT.

Those “voices” we hear – the “self talk” as it’s better known – is vital to our well-being, and to manifesting in our Lives.  keep in mind, that’s the good, the bad, and the ugly – our reality is largely a product of our thoughts.  

Sometimes we just don’t feel up to a workout.  You know that feeling, right?

The other morning I was INCREDIBLY stressed, having just gotten back from a trip (during which I managed to destroy my iPhone!), and knowing I had a million things to do because I am moving in two weeks.  I was heading out-of-state just two days later to see my hunnie (which is where I am moving! 😀 ) and I hadn’t gotten in much exercise in the week prior.  For me, that’s even more stressful – I just don’t feel like myself!

So I threw my running shoes in my bag and said to myself, “I am going to run tomorrow morning, no ‘if’s, ‘but’s, or bs!”

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Sunday morning I hopped on the treadmill.  I realized I forgot my inhaler so I felt more out of breath than usual (I actually think it was a total slacker mind trick, and that I WAS, in reality, JUST FINE!)  As I started my sprints, I just didn’t FEEL great.  I felt a little queasy, and as if I couldn’t get to the intensity I wanted.

But I trudged through, determined to stay on for 30 minutes, no matter how good – or terrible! – my sprints were.  

Was it my fastest sprinting?  Hell no.

My most intense workout?  Not by a long shot.

Had I run my farthest, or done my best inclines??  Not even close.

Was I proud of myself?

YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!

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It wasn’t my “best” at all.  But it was a good, solid effort.  I pushed myself (healthily) enough to get something out of it.  I knew when I was done that I would feel SO much better, and I did.

We DON’T have to crush our personal records and goals every single time we workout.  We don’t HAVE to be GREAT every time we get to the gym.  We deserve to feel proud of ourselves for ALL of our efforts because it takes a lot just to GET there.