Think “Replace”

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As we head into another New Year and talk turns to Resolutions, we need to be realistic about our goals and how we can set ourselves up for success. One thing many of us do is “get rid of” bad habits.  We say no more sugar, no more white bread, no more alcohol, no more yelling, no more mindless spending, etc.  Eventually, we are back to our old ways and feeling worse for it. But why?

For one, it is not a good idea to deprive oneself. Enjoying life and being happy is very important. It’s a part of a self-love, self-compassion, and a self-care routine. For most of us, there is nothing wrong with an occaisional glass of wine (unless you are an alcoholic) or the infrequent meltdown. We’re human, we are not perfect. These habits are only a problem when they interfere with our health, our well-being, our relationships, our responsibilties, our ability to function.

Second, when we remove something from our lives we are left with a vacancy…just like with ANY loss. Unless we are prepared to handle that loss, we will fall back into old habits. Instead, think “replace”. It is far more effective to replace something bad with something better…it doesn’t even have to be the best, just better for now. Accomplish baby steps until you reach your goal.

For instance, it’s a known fact that sodas (like other sugary beverages) are terrible for your health and for many it may have some addictive qualities.  It is also common knowledge that water is the best thing to drink for your body but many just don’t like it or are not used to it. How can someone make this switch?

Start by replacing one or two sodas with water or a fruit-infused water. If I have a soda with my lunch 5 days a week, I might start by replacing those sodas with water first for a few weeks. In reality it may take many weeks to successfully replace these sodas. The first couple weeks, I might give in a couple days to my sweet tooth. This doesn’t mean I failed. It means I tried and I learned something.

A better way to start might be to replace soda with water for 1 lunch/week first then gradually increase the number of sodas I replace with water.  Also, because there is a sweet component to the soda, I might want to add in a piece of fruit to replace the sugar I miss. Some nice plump raspberries or blackberries…something that feels like a treat and is enjoyable to you. Even replacing one soda with water is better than none.

This process of replacing can be applied to almost anything but a little creativity might be helpful. For example, you can replace instant reactionary yelling with a deep breathe or a count to 10 before responding. You can replace impulsive overspending by giving yourself an allowance for such flexible spending.

Little changes do add up. Remember, you are still making progress. Slowly, you will start to feel better and have more confidence in your ability to make more positive changes.

So what am I giving up for New Years? Nothing…but hopefully I will be able to replace some bad habits with some good ones or at least start on the process. If I don’t, I know that I will have learned something about myself and I can make necessary adjustments.

Goodbye to 2016 and those destructive habits.

Hello to 2017 and the opportunity to feel better, be more positive, and be more productive.

 

 

A November of Grief

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Grief is a deep sorrow, usually brought on by a person’s death.  Grief may also be brought on by the death of a relationship, loss of innocence, loss of a given reality, and loss that touches your heart and/or forces you to change your relationship with someone or something.

This Fall, I felt a lot of loss. I lost my Aunt Tina to cancer. She was a vibrant, outgoing, and beautiful woman who shaped who I was in so many ways.  Her death was not a shock but the lasting effects of it are still hard. She left behind a husband and son who adored her and too many friends to count. If you met Tina, you never forgot her. This loss started November off with a sadness in my heart that just set the stage for more hurt.

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I encountered other losses this fall that shook up my beliefs in myself, my country, my family, my neighbors…everything I believed in. Although no one else died, a piece of me felt like it. I actually felt myself slide through the stages of mourning….denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. In the end, a hole was left that will serve as a memory for the rest of my life.

It is strange how things can affect our emotions and feelings by altering our reality. Obviously, loved ones have the greatest effect on us. But isn’t it wild how information that changes our perspective of a person, place or thing can also have this effect?

How do we recover from loss? I think we allow ourselves to feel the loss. Sit with the discomfort, the pain, the overwhelming emotions. I don’t mean ‘sit with’ like we hold it in and pretend nothing is wrong but ‘sit with’ the pain and feel it, think about it, name it, dance with it. Let ourselves grieve and fall from exhaustion from the process.

In a mindfulness practice, we name the emotion whereby removing some of the power it has over us and this allows different parts of the brain to quite down…just by naming it, we can disengage from the negativity and let it go. By letting go, we heal.

This idea or theory was depicted in the movie “Collateral Beauty” starring Will Smith and a host of other talented actors. Will Smith loses his daughter and the movie follows his grief and how it affects those around him. It is both heart wrenching and inspiring at the same time. In the movie, Will’s character struggles to process his grief but finds the strength to move through it with the help of his friends, Time, Love, and Death. It is actually a very cathartic movie. (go see it and bring some tissue) #Findthebeauty

This made me think about how we must look to all the good that can come out of a bad situation. It may not be a direct relationship but good will rise. It always does. You just have to look for it or make it yourself.

When we lose a loved one, it’s hard to think about the good that comes out of it and maybe that will take time…a long time. Or maybe we have to make some good from it by living a good/happy life, honoring that loved one, providing hope for others, etc.

When I was processing my negative emotions, I hurt my back. Tension, anger and other emotions do have physical consequences. Our muscles tighten and our minds are distracted. It is the perfect storm. In one way, having the pulled muscle forced me to focus on my health and less on my feelings of loss and anger. I realized that I couldn’t let my negative feeling affect my life, my health, and my family. I needed to move forward in a more constructive nature and I created a plan.

Someone once told me November is the month of death. This November sure proved that right. But with death comes rebirth. The sun goes to sleep and then it rises, winter becomes spring, darkness is replaced by light. Good will prevail over evil.

I realize it all makes sense. The ebb and flow of dark and light; good and bad. We would not appreciate one without the other. Sometimes we forget how good we have it and why we do what we do and need to be reminded, which is why history repeats itself…over and over again.

So no matter how dark this Fall felt and no matter how bad things get…it’s all temporary. Change will come again.

In the meantime…

I chose love.

I chose to be happy and healthy.

I chose to #findthebeauty

I chose to rise.

Wellness Coaching a Top 20 Trend for 2017

According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual fitness survey, Wellness Coaching is #15 on the top 20 list. Here is what they had to say…

“15. Wellness coaching. Wellness coaching has been in the top 20 since 2010. It was listed at no. 17 in 2014, no. 13 in 2015 and 2016, and now no. 15. Wellness coaching is the integration of behavioral-change science with health promotion, disease prevention, and rehabilitation. Wellness coaching often uses a one-on-one approach similar to a personal trainer, with the coach providing support, guidance, encouragement, and confirmation when short- and long-term goals are reached. The wellness coach focuses on the client’s values, needs, vision, aspirations, and goals. According to the 2017 trends survey (and results from past surveys), it seems as though some personal trainers and other health and fitness professionals are now adopting wellness coaching and its principled techniques of behavior change into their clients’ exercise sessions.”

Other top trends for 2017 are #1 Wearable Technology, #3 HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training, #7 Exercise in Medicine (doctors recommending exercise in conjunction with other treatments), #8 Yoga (my favorite for mental and physical well-being), #16 Worksite Promotion (another bonus for my career), and #17 Smartphone Exercise Apps.

Follow this link to read the whole list. ACSM Annual Fitness Trends for 2017

So if you are looking for a way to improve your health, there are some great ideas on this list that might help you get started or that can help you add a little variety to your current health regime.

There is always SOMETHING you can do to feel better.

Even baby steps count.

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