Choices – what are you really saying ‘yes’ to?

I just finished a great book called The Yoga of Eating by Charles Eisenstein

One of the most interesting aspects was Eisenstein’s definition of karma related to food: By choosing to eat this food, what world am I saying ‘yes’ to?

For example:

By choosing locally grown, organic food whenever possible, we say ‘yes’ to a gentler, less industrialized world where food doesn’t need to be sprayed or flown half-way across the world.

By eating processed, frozen or artificial food, we say ‘yes’ to a life that is disconnected from warmth and authenticity.

But this can also be applied to any choice in life:

By confronting something that scares us, we say ‘yes’ to a world where are no longer controlled by our fears.

By staying in a relationship or job that makes us feel small and worthless, we say ‘yes’ to a world where this is how we deserve to be treated.

This simple question has now become the prism through which I make decisions: By making this choice or even just thinking this thought, what world am I saying ‘yes’ to?

After all, as Dumbledore so wisely tells Harry Potter:

It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities (J.K. Rowling)

 

Imperfectly perfect

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I wouldn’t consider myself a perfectionist in many things but when it comes to healthy habits, I had an ‘all or nothing’ approach. I would eat ‘perfectly’ for a few days, then give in to some cake at a friend’s house. After that, a little voice of sabotage would tell me – you’ve already had cake, why not also have some pizza and cookies, too, since today is clearly NOT a healthy day?

Ah, that little voice of sabotage! Constantly reminding me of how imperfect I am.

It used to win, until I came across this Chinese saying:

80% is perfection

What a radical shift in perspective! I discovered that when you release the need to be perfect, you can have that piece of cake if you really want to – and then go back to healthier eating. You can exercise a little less for a few days because you are busy, and then return to your usual routine. All of a sudden, you have space to be imperfect, and by creating this for yourself, healthy living becomes more enjoyable – and more achievable in the long-term.

♥ You move from perfectionism, which isn’t actually possible in the real world, to realism.

♥ You move from a deprivation mindset into an abundance mindset.

♥ You realize that it isn’t what you do occasionally that counts – it’s what you do most of the time.

♥ You learn to listen more to your body and honor it’s need to occasionally veer off the health track without judgement. Occasional lapses become an enjoyable treat rather than a guilty indulgence.

♥ Most importantly, by not listening to that little voice of sabotage in your head, you stop giving yourself excuses to give up on healthier habits.

The Land of WHEN…

“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” -Eckhart Tolle

Are you living in the distant land of WHEN, postponing a state of happiness or action until something else is perfect?  WHEN I lose weight, I’ll have the confidence to do this. WHEN I have more work experience, I’ll be taken seriously. WHEN I get into shape, I’ll feel good about my body. WHEN I have financial stability, I’ll finally be able to relax.

Consider instead the land of WHAT IF: WHAT IF you are good enough as you are, right now? WHAT IF someday is today? WHAT IF not trying is worse than the possibility of failing? WHAT IF you already had everything you need to be happy? What if, as Agnes de Mille writes,  instead of waiting for things to be perfect, you already “Dance in the body you have”?

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On Self Love

It’s Valentine’s Day and everyone seems to have an opinion about it – too commercial, too lonely, too cheesy…

My take is that happiness in a couple starts with self-love.

Sounds strange? Consider this: If YOU don’t find YOU attractive, will you believe it when someone tells you you’re beautiful or will you just think, ‘Liar’?

If YOU are not able to stand up for yourself, is it fair to expect your better half to do it for you?

If YOU are not able to take care of yourself, why should someone else know how to do it for you?

Self love is not selfish – it’s the foundation for healthy relationships.

Airline emergency briefings are spot on when they tell parents to first put on their own oxygen mask before helping their child put theirs on. After all, what use would a parent without an oxygen mask be to the child?

Similarly, I firmly believe the best investment we can make to our relationships is to always love and care for ourselves first so we can be the best possible friend or partner to others.

 It’s not your job to like me. It’s mine. – Byron Katie

Future Thinking

time angel

We have such a strange relationship to this man-made concept called time. Some people obsess about the past, constantly reliving their glory days or seething with anger over something that happened years ago. Others live in a future-projected state, planning, preparing or fretting over every possible scenario.

According to The Time Paradox, an excellent book based on the psychology of time, people who are able to live in the present most of the time while balancing their past and future perspectives are the most fulfilled.

When it comes to health, the commonly accepted notion is that how you live today influences how you live tomorrow.

According to health warrior and cancer survivor Kris Carr,

Your future is being written with every meal.

Yet while most people are aware that their actions influence their future, it can be difficult to make the trade off between IMMEDIATE PLEASURE (polishing off that bag of chips) and DISTANT PLEASURE (eating a carrot for future health).

Here are 2 simple ways of dealing with this:

1. Identity what being healthy actually means for you.

This could be ‘I want to feel good in my body’ or ‘I want to have the energy to play with my grandchildren’. Focusing on this is less distant and more motivating than simply thinking about future health.

2. Make small changes, one at a time and make them pleasurable.

This isn’t always easy, but I firmly believe that healthy habits can become a source of pleasure with the right guidance and that this is the only way habits stick.

Pushing past fear

IMG_0110This weekend, I went skiing again after 17 years. I was terrified. After all, there was a reason I hadn’t been on skis in so long, mostly stories of childhood trauma I had told myself.

Every year, I would say that I wanted to try getting back on skis, yet every year I found a good reason not to.

This year, I ran out of excuses and decided it was time to push past my fear.

Did I love it, discover a new found passion, decide to start skiing every winter weekend? Not really. The first descent was awful. The second was a little better and by the third descent I could almost understand what people enjoyed about this activity.

Here are some of the things I found most helpful:

♦ Start very small. For me it was the green slope, then the blue slope – I didn’t set myself up for failure by starting on the most challenging slope, nor did I do more descents than I felt comfortable with.

♦ Focus on how you want to feel after you’ve conquered your fear rather than the fear itself. The word I focused on in this instance was VICTORIOUS.

♦ Visualize yourself overcoming your fear. Before each descent, my husband led me through a mini-visualization which involved me effortlessly gliding down the slopes. While reality didn’t live up to this image,  visualization is very powerful because we naturally gravitate towards where we are looking.

♦ Be open to learning from your fears. As Rainer Maria Rilke so beautifully puts it, “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

Shedding skin

018-img_1274According to the Chinese calendar, 2013 is the year of the snake.

I have always been fascinated with the whole skin shedding thing when it comes to snakes – how they physically let go of a part of themselves in order to evolve.

Last week I made the difficult decision to let go of something that had served me well for several years. And I realized that growth is as much about what we choose to let go of as it is about what we start doing. 

Louise Hay would say that when thoughts or people or things no longer serve us, it is time “to lovingly release them”. Dr. Seuss, in all his wisdom would say, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

In the depth of winter…

“Au milieu de l’hiver, j’ai découvert en moi un invincible été.”

(In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. )

– Albert Camus

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Let the beauty of what you love be what you do

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Doing the things that matter to you

This video  with author Neil Gaiman is incredibly inspiring about doing the things that matter to you.

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Some Highlights: 

“If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do.”

“Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

“Go and make interesting mistakes.”

 

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

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What Being Healthy Means

I was thinking the other day – what does being healthy really mean?

I think each person has their own definition that may change according to their life stage and experience. For me, it comes down to two words:

Feeling LIGHT & ENERGETIC

Feeling light implies everything is working smoothly and you aren’t weighed down by pain or excess weight.

Feeling energetic goes a step further and means you have the energy, creativity and drive to do what you want.

Health is more than just a physical state. More than merely existing or being pain or disease free, you radiate well-being on every level.

As the World Health Organization states,

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Finally, I like to think of health as a journey rather than a destination. This allows for a gentler, more nuanced approach – taking steps towards better health every day, rather than judging yourself for not haven’t reached your ideal state yet.

What does being healthy mean for you?

The Emotions of Weight Loss

I came across a very interesting article on the emotional obstacles to weight loss.More and more studies are showing that for weight loss and lifestyle changes to be sustainable, the emotional aspect also needs to be taken into account.

An excerpt:

From my own perspective, I’ve worked with many people who honestly felt they didn’t deserve to be healthy, to be beautiful, to be happy. Every effort they’d made in the past to lose weight and improve their wellbeing had been sabotaged by psychological ghosts. Negative self-talk got the better of them even after they’d experienced substantial success in losing weight and/or achieving other health and fitness goals. When a number of these folks combined emotional work with their lifestyle changes, it was like the air cleared. Not overnight, but over time.

Ways of addressing emotions linked to weight loss:

Self-awareness through journaling & being conscious of your self-talk.

Social support through friends and family or online forums.

Replace food with self-care by identifying the triggers to emotional eating. For example, if food is used as a means of comfort, take care of yourself in other ways, such as getting a massage or taking a bubble bath. If food is being used as a way of adding sweetness or pleasure to life, learn to be gentler with yourself and seek other sources of pleasure.

Feeling emotions rather than numbing them with food is an essential part of the process – this can be done through a relaxation technique, journaling or by talking to someone.

In order to let go of excess weight, letting go of what is no longer needed is essential. This can include old habits and ways of nourishing oneself (on a physical and emotional level), outdated, negative beliefs (ex. ‘I don’t deserve to be thin’), the need for protection (ex. ‘If I lose weight I will get attention from the wrong men’).

Finally, losing weight implies shedding an old identity. And even if this is an unwanted identity, humans are naturally loss-averse, and what we risk losing feels more tangible than the seemingly distant identity we have to gain. Losing weight implies trust and faith in the new identity being created.

 

Happiness or Meaning?

A very interesting read on living a meaningful life rather than living in the endless pursuit of happiness.

Some Highlights:

“Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a “taker” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver.” “

“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.” – Victor Frankl

“…the pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves — by devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking” — we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.”

 

Start where you are

We so often wait for things to be perfect before starting or even committing to them, but what if we just started with wherever we are at?

 

We so often wait for things to be perfect before starting or even committing to them, but what if we just started with wherever we are at?

On natural spontaneity

A little boy standing in line behind an old lady wearing a fur coat innocently and very naturally starts stroking her coat…

When do we lose this natural spontaneity?

 

Inspiration

How often have we tried resisting an uncomfortable or unpleasant situation, adamantly trying to change or overcome it? How about trying instead to simply accept it and be open to what can be learned from it?

 

How often have we tried resisting an uncomfortable or unpleasant situation, adamantly trying to change or overcome it? How about trying instead to simply accept it and be open to what can be learned from it?

Inspiration from Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is my absolute favorite childhood writer. His writing is simple yet contains such profound human truths for children and adults alike.

I love the entire quote this is from:

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.

– Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

 

Inspiration from Julia Child

Julia Child