Happy 2019!

I love resets, and January 1 represents a nice, fresh restart.  I don’t actually *believe* in New Year’s “resolutions,” though, because – while typically made in earnest and followed by a full-bore (albeit (also typically) short-lived) burst – they are so often abandoned, left to fade into the rush of life…until maybe a year later.  When, of course, the same thing happens again.

What I DO believe in, however, is that we have the opportunity to make life changes at any moment, on ANY day we so choose – you can take January 1 if it’s nice and tidy, or just go for it at any time that best suits you.  (We just need to make sure we PICK a time, not procrastinate).  The decision is generally a great deal easier than the follow-through…but then everybody knows that!  But, if we can find a way to work towards something meaningful and realistic…the rewards are worth the price.

We all have areas in which we’d like to improve – sometimes strictly for our own well-being, and yet in others, for the impact it will have on those around us, and even the world.  One of the most important things we can do for ourselves (and others) is to choose to be “happier.”  Happier is something we all must define on our own – there’s no one size fits all when it comes to what makes each of us “happy” inside.  And, PS, it is an inside job.  But I can guarantee you that whatever the goal posts, if you do make it to “happier” (even if in tiny increments), you will see a marked change in the world around you.

Life is precious.  We don’t know how much time we have, neither can we be certain of that given to those we love, so happiness matters.  We all deserve the blessing of “happiness,” and no matter how different that may look to each of us, it is more than achievable.

Amidst an undoubtedly hefty resolution list, this one is an “overall makeover” that can both help us to reach many of our other goals, as well as be manageable enough that we can have some real success.  It also happens to be a relatively realistic goal because we don’t have to be at the pinnacle of perfection…rather we are aiming for more “happy” in our lives, which can come in smaller increments (the “-ier” suggests it is more than our current state not necessarily a massive jump—> those baby steps are worthy)!

Short-term boosts are great, but I’ve seen too many resolutions fail because they are not appropriately backed by an equally ardent “I really want to make a lifestyle change”…which, let’s be honest, is the only way any achieved result will still with us long-term.  We need to think about how we can incorporate our goals (and the steps we need to get there) into our daily routine withOUT it feeling like torture (torture = not going to do it.  Period).

MAKING CHANGES

Any life change – or the endeavor to make a lifestyle change – requires the following:

  1. We truly want the change ourselves (we honestly want it, we aren’t being coerced, or forced, or guilted into it).
  2. The change is realistic (for example, we can lose weight or be healthier, but we can’t suddenly look like someone who is an entirely different body type than we naturally possess).
  3. The change is one we can maintain over time (we aren’t instituting so rigid a plan that we fail to account for human error and natural, flexible fluctuation).

That’s really it!

Well, then what gets in the way…?!

ROADBLOCKS

  1. Our “resolutions” and hopes for a new way of living are sometimes at the mercy of temporal constraints.
  2. As above…excuses are insidious.  It’s easy to find reasons why “ohhh, I’ll do it tomorrow – I’m just too tired / don’t have time.”  Or, “well, I’m already down hill so may as well keep going!”  That kind of thinking will derail anyone!

Okay…so then how do we DEFEAT the roadblocks?

OVERCOMING ROADBLOCKS

  • Promise yourself that you will make time Time is limited for us all – sometimes I’m amazed how much other people fit into the day, and how much they know!  Well…they’ve got the same 24 hours so that means I need to figure out – if I want to fit something in – how I’m going to do that.
  • Our excuses need to be exposed for what they are.  They need to be acknowledged and nipped in the bud AS SOON AS THEY APPEAR.  Keep tabs on yourself and be honest with you.  If you need to write them down, do it.  If you want to post goal pictures or positive affirmations around the house, do it.  If you need to recruit a partner, do it.  Whatever you need to squash those pesky excuses…DO it.  You are NOT alone.  We all make excuses.  But…
  • Remember that a tiny effort each day WILL get you headed in the right direction.  Baby steps are still progress and it is SUPER important that you notice your efforts and any progress you make (again…little steps are still steps)!

Fortunately…again…

“Happy” is something that we all can make strides towards.  We owe it to ourselves to put it on the top of the priority list not only because we deserve to enjoy life, but also because being “happier” contributes to the overall picture.  When we FEEL happier, so much more falls into place – we feel motivated, we feel invigorated, our mood and attitude improves…and we find more of that self-confidence that we both deserve and need to be successful in life.

  • Make a list of what contributes to YOUR happiness.  Try to incorporate more of THAT into your day.
  • Look for the little improvements…and pat yourself on the back.
  • Force a smile when you don’t feel like it (sometimes – it’s also okay to need time to “feel”).
  • Make a gratitude list…
  • Be yourself, and be proud.  You’re worth it.

Blessed 2019 to all…

 

Positive Is Perspective

I could say SO much about this amazing, wonderful, awesome quotation…but where to begin!?

This was, by the way, posted by someone I’ve met in my pursuit of my passion (to help individuals with disabilities maintain a joyful, active life.) This gentleman has Cerebral Palsy and is one of the most positive people I’ve met. 🙂

We are all – as human beings – entitled to tough moments and emotions. If we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves, complain, worry, huff and puff…I’d argue that we weren’t human beings at all! Our limbic system is enough of a whirlwind on its own, but paired with the most advanced evolutionary neocortex on the planet, we are susceptible to torrents of push-and-pull internally…including the huff-and-puffery!

What matters at the end of the day, though, is our overall approach to life. That approach is founded in our attitude and behaviors – we can either do our best to focus on the positive and strive ahead as best as we are able with what we are given… OR, we can be miserable, blame the world, and do nothing to better a bad situation. (It’s like someone saying that a given circumstance is unfair when they have invested zero effort in trying to turn the tables.)

I have to say that the majority of individuals with disabilities whom I’ve had the honor to know are among the most enthusiastic, positive, and inspiring people I have met. To be fair, I’d say it is actually 100% of those I have encountered, and this includes friends I have lost to illness (such as ALS.) The overwhelmingly gracious attitude and perseverance in the face of adversity is enough to have altered my life forever – I simply am a changed person because I know these people. My DNA is fundamentally geared towards being empathetic, compassionate, and positive…but like everyone, I have my “ugly moments” too. That said, I’ve made it my business to count blessings every single day, and to see the light in all situations…even if it means I’m squinting with all my might. While I was programmed to do so anyway, I have also made a commitment to live my life this way going forward.

This quotation hit home for me because I see so many people in the world who don’t value gratitude and appreciation…and yet they have so much to be thankful for. And then I see individuals for whom life would seem to be a dark and terrifying place…and they not only thrive, but live joyfully, and to the fullest that they are able.

It shouldn’t have to take a jarring image, nor the suffering of another individual for us to “get with it.” But when human beings are exposed to the courage of those who actually HAVE the right to complain, it tends to strike a chord – for that I am immensely grateful, because it is a reality check some people need. 

Gratitude, thankfulness, happiness, positivity…they are founded in one’s perspective. They aren’t handed to us. They aren’t up to anyone BUT us. As such, that also means they aren’t out of our control.

We have a choice in how we view the world and our lives. If we make a decision to shift our lenses in favor of gratitude, that “rose color” some people go on about? It may suddenly blossom into view. . .

 

Know Your Worth

I was taught this lesson many, many moons ago…but I failed to actually learn it until much later. I suppose, though, it doesn’t really matter how long it takes to learn…just that we are willing to do so, and that we move in that direction consistently. 

Any day can be the day we break a cycle or release what no longer serves us – but it is ultimately up to us. This is a powerful bit of wisdom that takes not only a willingness to learn it, but immense courage to take those steps. When we trust ourselves, and that life always finds a way to work out for the better, we can more easily take the leap. It is one that – in the end – is well worth the bravery.

Know your value, recognize your contribution, raise your head high, and claim the life you deserve. We are not bound to any limitations but those our minds contrive.

 

Gratitude Matters In Our Fleeting Lives

Life is fast-paced, and we don’t get to choose how long we get to enjoy it. As such, we are reminded that what we have truly is precious.

Still, it’s easy to see what isn’t working, and to be dragged down by the unsavory side of life. But what about all that good?! Whether our health, relationships, a roof over our heads, passions, friends, love – it goes on – I’m willing to bet your life is blessed in more ways than you can count. Maybe more than you have counted.

Having a thankful attitude allows us to fully embrace and enjoy our present – the people in our lives, the blessings we have, all the “little things” that make our lives brighter, richer, and worth living. (And it brings more of it our way. . .)

* Give compliments freely *

* Offer your help to someone in need *

* Smile at a stranger *

* Thank those who are there for you when they least expect it, and support them when they need it. Our bonds with others may be the very glue that keeps our lives together at times *

* Recognize the gifts you have, and the beauty you bring to the world…because you deserve your support too *

Stay thankful, stay grateful, and watch magic unfold

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Yesterday You Said “Tomorrow”

This has always been a favorite, ass-kicking quote of mine. When I say I’m going to do something and I lollygag, I’m in for a nice trip to Self-Disappointment Central. This quote reminds me that if I commit to something – doesn’t matter what – come hell or high water, I’m going to go for it.

I don’t have to be perfect – it’s about progress, NOT perfection! – but I damn well need to try. SOME effort is better than ZERO effort in my book.

Never mind that… The prospect of spiraling downwards, getting stuck, or making life harder for myself (longer climb the longer I “put off what can be done today”) is absolutely horrifying. So much so that I flash this quote in front of my face and I start somewhere.

Ever have a moment where you think, “holy smokes! Is it (- day of the year –  ) already?!” or...”when the hell did I turn 40?! Where did the rest go?!”

Life moves FAST – in the nigh-literal blink of an eye. Cherish what you have today.

START working on your goals today.

Today turns into tomorrow, then next week, then next year before you know it – instead of drowning while your head is reeling, take a step forward. A little one is still in the right direction. You got this!

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My Heathy Eating, Japanese Reset

As mentioned in my post Tips For Healthier Eating And Weight Loss – Inspired By Japan I mentioned that I was very eager to have a reset with my own dietary habits. Generally I’m the only person who is aware that I’m puffier than normal, or holding onto slightly more weight than I should… But really, I’m the only one who matters in that equation, right? If I notice I’m not where I want to be and it makes me unhappy, then I know I have work to do. If I don’t do the work, I know exactly where that will land me emotionally – I’m not going to head that direction willingly.

So did my “reset” actually work?

Y E S!

Generally it takes a few weeks to reprogram ourselves into a new habit – a week in Japan wasn’t going to be enough, but it was a jumpstart that I knew I could look forward to. The Japanese don’t eat the way we do in America – I was counting on that! It isn’t that I’ve been through eating disorders or that I don’t think I can handle being around food establishments. I don’t have any fear or anxiety surrounding going out to eat either – most establishments have SOMEthing I’ll like (and in Japan, I knew they would.) I have a willpower the Spartans would have paid me for on top of it, so I’m not worried about seeing delicious items on the menu, splurging, and being disappointed with myself later. Rather it’s that I don’t enjoy being around the over-doing that goes on… At all.

It isn’t about a judgment, let me be clear. I don’t have any right (or desire) to try to guess as to why some people are morbidly overweight, or why someone eats well beyond when their body says “HALT!” It isn’t my place to judge, and there could be a million reasons why – it’s frankly NONE of my business. What disgusts me (and really, that’s the best word for it) is the over-stuffing, over-ordering, over-filling, over-indulging. 

As with everything else, to each their own for sure. What I’ve learned about myself is that I simply don’t want to be around that kind of splurging and binging. If I had to go into McDonalds, I’d take my food and go. You’ll never catch me on a cruise, for example – food is the focus and I am an eat-to-live kind of person. I LOVE to eat, don’t get me wrong, but my long-term goals are more of a priority than the short-term satisfaction. 

I don’t’ care about eating as it pertains anyone but myself – I am the only person / place / thing over which I have control AND, I’m the only person who’s my business! But that also means that pigouts are uncomfortable to be around because I don’t enjoy the over-doing when it comes to food (particularly here in the States.) When asked for nutritional advice, I always preface it by saying “what works for me, may not for someone else – our goals and bodies are different.”

So Japan…Japan was very welcome. The portions are WAY smaller. People don’t over-stuff themselves. People take time eating, and even buffets are healthy. You RARELY see anyone who’s overweight, let alone morbidly obese. Everyone – regardless of age – is WALKING. People are moving around all day, and eating healthily on top of it. Our surroundings matter and I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed that environment.

So, what did I learn? Which habits did I bring home?

I’ve made a few tweaks to my nutrition since I’ve been back, inspired by the change in routine:

1. I eat less at each sitting

I *could* eat more but I don’t serve myself more…because the extra isn’t necessary to feel full. Today I went back for a few more bites (a few times!) because I realized I needed more food and was, legitimately, hungry. But I ate my lunch, I waited. I had some water. And then I realized I needed to add.

2. I use smaller serving vessles

I’m using a bowl half or 2/3 the size of what I used when I left. Big difference! It allows me to fill it (looks like a lot!) but not overeat. I’d have the sensation of being full (before I went to Japan), so why was I forcing myself? No good reason! I’m not starving, and food is not in short supply. There’s more where it came from so I can chill out…

3. I use chopsticks

Yes, for every meal! Why? SLOWS ME DOWN! Seriously…there’s no need to shovel in food, and I can eat way too much way too fast if I’m not careful and paying attention.

4. I use mindfulness

I try to pay attention while I’m eating. Distraction can lead to stuffing myself more than I need to…and also delay my full signal because I’m not in tune. I try to be more aware of my food, and that I’m really enjoying it.

5. I don’t overdo

I don’t over-buy or over-order. I stock up a lot of frozen veggies because it saves me some trips (and keeps other food cold that I might buy while out and about.) But I don’t go crazy with things that I know I’ll just end up eating too much of – saves me the trouble of fighting urges (and losing those battles. Which…I will!)

6. I have lightened up on cruciferous veggies and go for free instead

Some vegetables can upset the stomach. Though I can tolerate a LOT more fiber than the average person (it’s been the bulk of my diet for over a decade – as in, four to eight pounds of veggies a day!) it can still be too much for me. Switching to lesser puffy-producing veggies has meant less stomach aches. I tend not to overeat green beans, snap peas, legumes, or greens as much as I do cauliflower so I’m also having a little less overall. 

What have I noticed with the reset?

  1. I’m feeling better overall!
  2. My stomach doesn’t hurt as much (WIN! I suffer from regular stomach aches)
  3. I’m not as puffy feeling or looking
  4. I probably lost a pound or two (or at least puffiness from too much food and fiber)
  5. I’m not starving. At all!
  6. I have plenty of energy
  7. I’ve been sleeping better overall
  8. I have less anxiety about having to eat right away because my body isn’t responding as poorly to not eating quickly enough (still happens, but not as horribly)

So yes, my ruse worked! BUT…a big part of it is sticking to the plan. I’m making sure I KEEP good habits because it’s easy to revert to poor ones.

My goal has always been to maintain a healthy, happy, strong body…and that hasn’t changed. My nutritional needs, however, have. I’m 40…not 20…so it’s important I listen to my body, and that I try to fuel it with the proper food…not to mention the proper QUANTITY of it. America doesn’t help us a ton there because it’s always about how much can you stuff in for how little money. That is a horrifying concept to me! Again, different things work for different people – because I know what I need, I make sure I’m not around what doesn’t support my goals, or whatever makes me feel uncomfortable. Nothing wrong with looking after ourselves – we do, at the end of the day, have to live with ourselves TRULY 24/7. We deserve to feel – and be – healthy. Period.