My partner, love of my life, web designer and editor, Bill Weil, recently questioned a statement from my last article on commitment. If you have not read it, I invite you to. I would love to hear your response to the idea that you matter more than anything in your life.” You are the only one in your life who matters” does sound selfish, egocentric, maybe even narcissistic. Bill listed his children, his president, his siblings as examples of people who “matter” as much as he does. Where am I on that list I wondered”!? Lucky for me, and for Bill! his daily actions prove to me that I am on the top of that list. But it took years of working on our relationship for me to feel this way.
You do not need to know the gruesome details of my early years, but I have spent the past 30 years recovering from a less-than-ideal childhood. I look forward to spending the rest of my life continuing my own transformation and inspiring others to live their best lives.
The first lesson I had to learn on my path to emotional, physical and spiritual well-being was that I matter. I was not given that message as a child. From years of working deeply with my clients I know I am not alone in this.
My own children, and my two ex-husbands, will tell you that I went overboard on the idea of “me first.” No doubt. But now I can tell you that I feel very secure in the fact that I matter more than anyone in my life. It is from this knowing that I can take such good care of the people in my life. My clients, my children and my sweetheart all reap the benefits of my having found a balance in this most challenging endeavor.
All day, every day, I take care of people, and I do so happily. It is my job to encourage, inspire and hold my clients accountable. I also feed them, give them water, stretch them, work on them, give them vitamins and have Healing Touch sessions with them. I celebrate their wins and help them to see the opportunity in their failures. One hour I will hold someone while they cry, and the next hour I will scream obscenities at someone for whom a soft touch does not work. I listen, I lift, I lean in and am leaned on.
How could I do any of these tasks well unless I first took care of myself? My day starts with my own self-care. Every day. This is what I teach, and this is what I practice. My self-care might look different than what I encourage others to do, but everyone has different needs, are at different levels and are going for different results.
The point is to look and see what it is that you need to feel well and be well. Then give yourself that gift. You cannot be there for others unless you know how to be there for yourself. It is impossible to give generously, and from your heart, unless you are filled up. Giving from a place of resentment, or “in order to” or as a way of proving to the world that you are a “good” person is not real giving. If you are busy trying to prove you are worthy, you might look to see if you have true self-worth.
Put your own oxygen mask on first, take a very deep breath, fill yourself up so that you can then give and give and give with joy. You are the only one who can give the particular gift you have to give.
As a personal trainer, what I sell is “commitment.”
I also teach people how to lift weights safely and effectively, educate them about posture and healthy food choices and encourage them to drink water rather than soft drinks.
But that is the easy part for me. What is challenging is to find where it is that my clients lack integrity. Because when you lack integrity, it shows up with a lack of commitment. In defense of this, many people would point to all of the commitments they keep. Just the fact that a client walks through my door is proof of a level of commitment, accomplishment and productivity that an untrained eye would find difficult to find faulty.
People would be deeply offended by my questioning their integrity. We think that people who lack integrity are liars and criminals.
What I’m talking about is more insidious than blatant integrity issues. Two examples:
Suppose I tell you I’ll call you this afternoon. Now it’s 8:00 p.m. and I didn’t, either because I didn’t want to, or I forgot, or an emergency occurred (it doesn’t matter WHY, forgetting and emergencies don’t change the fact that I didn’t do what I said I’d do). Even if you’d let me off the hook, part of ME would still have attention on that. When I wake up from my coma, I’m going to remember I said I’d call you and didn’t. It’s going to be in my space.
Suppose you borrow a rake from me at the very end of the fall. Now it’s winter and you still have it. I don’t need it, but every once in a while I wonder if and when you’re going to return it. Meanwhile, every time you pass my rake in your garage you think, “I need to return that to JoAnn.” And these things fester. It starts with, “Oh, he probably just forgot,” and escalates to “I think that’s really inconsiderate” and eventually to, “He’s just a really inconsiderate person.”
No horrible crimes were committed. But in both cases, neither of us are “whole” and “complete.” And rather than being fully present, we’re spending some of our mental energies on these relatively trivial items. And that’s the point.
Moreover, any integrity issue for one person is an integrity issue FOR BOTH PEOPLE! If I’m getting irritable because you didn’t return the rake, that’s me getting irritable at you, rather than me being balanced and whole. So, I can be responsible to myself by handling it with you. By being the one to come to you and asking for my rake back, I’m doing both of us a favor.
And these things add up. The book you didn’t return. The angry words you regret. The messy desk. The time you were kidding but maybe you offended. The unpaid medical bill. The room you’ve been meaning to paint for years. The time you didn’t get acknowledged and resented that. It’s a wonder if we have the ability to be present at all! (Maybe we don’t!)
(The ultimate prescription, not for the faint of heart, is to make a list of every single instance where you have negative energy toward another and then identify what is the integrity issue that’s present, and a date by when you’ll clean it up. There may be 100 or more of them. Then spend the week calling everyone and cleaning it up, apologizing, and getting back into relationship. At the end of that week, you’ll be walking six feet off the ground.)
The truth is that virtually every one of us wrestles with integrity at some level, and many, many people have very low integrity, have little commitment and act like victims. If you find yourself reading this and thinking, “How dare she!” you are probably one of us.
Yes, I count myself among those who struggle with integrity and commitment. And I have spent more years digging deep inside to resolve these issues (mostly successfully!) than I have spent in the gym.
These issues separate the people for whom my program works from those who will go from diet to diet, trainer to trainer and gym to bariatric surgeon with the same results. None! But at least they “tried” and they get to point to all of the things that did not work. Best of all, they get to remain victims.
Integrity is “complete sincerity and honesty, the state of being unimpaired.” “Complete?!” That sounds virtually unattainable. But what would your life look like if you lived from this principle? I can tell you from the times I’ve experienced it in my own life, it is miraculous.
The invitation is to just look and see where it is that you are not telling the truth to yourself and/or others. What happens when you make promises to yourself and to others and then do not follow through? How do you feel when you ignore responsibilities and pretend it doesn’t matter? What message are you sending to yourself and those in your life when you do not show up for appointments or return phone calls? What relationships are unresolved, and, rather than getting into communication, you stay “right” about how you were wronged? Who are you kidding when you tell yourself that living on fast food and spending your evenings in front of the television is the American dream?
Where, deep inside of you, are you telling yourself that you do not matter? Because by doing any of the above, this is the message you are transmitting. My invitation is to live as if you do matter. Even if you do not yet feel like you do.
One day, you will look in the mirror and see that you are the only thing in your life that does matter. Your loved ones will thank you. Your commitment to yourself will enrich the lives of every single person you meet.
Next Time: What I mean by: “You are the only thing in your life that does matter.”
The following is cribbed from the NYT. Read the full article.
According to a study in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal PLoS One, it’s not just obesity that can cause diabetes: sugar can cause it, too.
From the article, “Each 150 kilocalories/person/day increase in total calorie availability related to a 0.1 percent rise in diabetes prevalence (not significant), whereas a 150 kilocalories/person/day rise in sugar availability (one 12-ounce can of soft drink) was associated with a 1.1 percent rise in diabetes prevalence.” Thus: for every 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverage introduced per person per day into a country’s food system, the rate of diabetes goes up 1 percent.”
“… a coalition of scientists and health advocates led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the F.D.A. to both set safe limits for sugar consumption and acknowledge that added sugars, rather than lingering on the “safe” list, should be declared unsafe at the levels at which they’re typically consumed.”
The point: “By definition, all calories give off the same amount of energy when burned, but your body treats sugar calories differently, and that difference is damaging.”
Which would you prefer to do, focus restricting your portions and what you eat, or enjoy whatever food you are eating? According to a new research study, simply being mindful of what you eat is better than dieting. Being mindful means to be very present. So you don’t just take that first bite, think “Yum!” and then unconsciously shovel in food until the last bite. Rather, you would savor the flavor with every bite. You would be conscious of chewing sufficiently. You would focus on the now, and not “what’s next.”
Read all about it here.
Here is a great 2-minute video on mindfulness.
In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.
- Deitrich Bonhoeffer
Just reminding everyone to stay present to the gifts in your life, take care of your personal fitness and be powerfully with the people around you.
Edited by Sue Van Doeren
I. Law of Love and Brotherhood
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. By opening our hearts to others we find fulfillment and happiness. It begins with seeing how our hearts are closed (where we judge and blame) and granting acceptance to our humanness. Know that we are all one. All are precious. All are deserving of compassion.
II. Law of Living in Truth
Face life and the truth of yourself with defenselessness. Face yourself as you are with all your imperfections. Embrace life wholeheartedly without fear, self-pity or consenting to the fear of being hurt. Say to yourself, “In order to become what I would like to be, I must first, without consenting to the fear, shame or vanity within me, face what is in me.”
III: Law of Paying the Price
There is a price to be paid for everything. There is a disadvantage to every gratification. The disadvantage must be faced and accepted.
IV. Law of Personal Responsibility; Cause and Effect; Karma
Through our own attitudes, beliefs, feelings and behavior we reap what we sow. We create our own reality. We are all given free will. We are free to choose what we wish. We only have to accept the consequences.
V. Law of Giving and Receiving
Nature is based on the principle of giving and receiving – the sun, water, soil, growth are all interdependent and rely upon receiving each other’s gifts to survive. We are structured the same way. Where do we try to get more than we want to give? Where do we have too much pride or vanity to receive?
VI. Law of Dharma
In living in our purpose, whatever it is that we can do that gives us pleasure and joy – we are honoring the law of Dharma. To not live in our Dharma is uncomfortable at best, and painful at worst.
VII. Infinite Reality
We are not alone. There is an infinite reality beyond the personality that is superior, good, infinite, invincible, wordless, beingness that we can gain access to through our self-development and meditation. Our personalities becoming infused with this Reality bit by bit across time – this is what is meant by the evolution of our soul and the evolution of our species.
VIII. Law of Transforming Negativity
The strength and the ability of the divine or infinite reality to penetrate the personality structure and shine forth is the degree to which darkness, evil and negativity have been faced in the self and transformed through observation, recognition and acceptance.
IX. Law of Abundance
The Universe is abundant. We separate ourselves from this abundance by our limited thinking.
X. Law of Attention
What we focus on expands. What we resist (judge) persists.
From TIME: Unlike the aberrations and genetic mutations caused by carcinogens and toxins, exercise-induced alterations to DNA are more like tune-ups, helping muscles to work better and more efficiently. What’s more, these changes occur even after a single 20-minute workout.
Thanks to Sandy C. for suggesting this article!
GUEST POST – By: David Haas, Writer for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
You may currently be undergoing treatment for cancer, were just diagnosed or are in remission. Whatever the case may be, do not neglect your fitness level as you move towards healing. It is becoming increasingly obvious through scientific research that exercise can improve the mood, energy levels, pain levels, and ability to sleep of cancer patients- even in difficult cases like mesothelioma.
Humans have evolved the ability to produce certain brain chemicals that help us when times are stressful. One of these is a class of neurotransmitters called endorphins. These important brain chemicals are released when a certain threshold of physical exertion is reached. You may have heard of the phenomena of “runners high.” This feeling of elevated mood is produced by the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s own painkillers.
Many cancer patients have even been able to reduce their reliance on narcotic pain killers from exercise alone. And one great aspect of this form of pain reduction is there is no dependency (except in a good way) or side effects involved. The effect can last for hours and not only helps with pain, but with sleep. Many cancer patients find they sleep much better on days they’ve exercised.
Cancer treatment can also create anxiety through cortisol release. Cortisol is a body chemical associated with high levels of stress. It can be helpful at times, but elevated levels on a continuing basis are not good. By getting enough exercise, you will reduce cortisol levels in your body and experience less stress and anxiety in your life. This alone will lift your spirits and provide you with the motivation to continue increasing your fitness level.
Some scientists feel elevated cortisol levels may be as damaging to health as elevated blood sugar or cholesterol. High cortisol can also lead to low testosterone, which can lead to muscle atrophy and an inability to recover properly from exercise.
Exercise is also known to increase energy levels over time. These benefits may take a few days or weeks to become apparent, but once you feel that energy boost, you won’t want to return to a sedentary lifestyle. And when you have more energy, you are generally in a better mood, easier to be around, and less anxious.
If you feel motivated to try exercise so that you can experience its many benefits for yourself, be sure to start slowly at a pace that your body can handle. You can gradually increase the intensity, pace, and duration of your exercise program as you increase your stamina, energy levels and strength. You don’t need to become an Olympic athlete to quickly begin seeing results that will increase your quality of life.
As life moves faster and faster we have less awareness – less facility with checking in on ourselves. Hence, mindful eating today is more important than ever.
In this delightful three-minute video, Dr. Lillian Cheung explains how honoring and being mindful of the food we eat makes us healthier. She offers seven practices for mindful eating — simple steps that we can take to maintain a healthier weight and live a happier life.
Video from KarmaTube
A palliative care nurse shares her experience with patients at the end of their lives. Here’s the short version:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I didn’t work so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Read the entire article here.