Three for Three

Here we go!

We have the opportunity to hit the reset button the first of every month, the beginning of each new day, even the top of each inhalation, yet somehow flipping the page from one year to the next creates in us the need for an entire life makeover.

I get it. I’m in that boat. Every year. It’s the possibility of change, of an updated version of the me I already like with better features; more energy, an easier smile and less stress.

But are we just kidding ourselves? Am I just kidding myself? Again?

Maybe. Yet the exercise, the review, the hope seem like a really good thing, so I persist.

Nothing really ever goes exactly according to plan, yet we plan. This year is no different. But hopefully it is. Hopefully I will stop breaking promises to myself, stop lying to myself and trust that way more intelligent higher self within me. She’s inexhaustible and patient. She sits quietly by while all the crazy lower selves run around in circles convincing me that one more glass of wine is not going to hurt anything, that gluten is fine for me taken in small doses – like two or three cookies at a time – that sugar has been around forever so it can’t be all bad and that going for that walk tomorrow makes more sense than getting off the comfy couch right now.

She’s waiting. I’m ready to hang out with her now.

That band of lazy, chaotic pranksters needs to be put in their place. So, we, my higher self and I, are going to employ some different tactics this year.

Quick Reader’s Digest version of a familial backstory here that has led to this “new” system: My brother and I are a lot alike in our desire to be better, do better and take better care of ourselves. We want to better ourselves and the world. We chat ad nauseum about such things. And sometimes we actually do them. This year though, we decided to create a structure in which to give ourselves a better chance for success. And a way to hold each other accountable. It’s based on not a single stitch of personal research, it is instead based on our desire to improve and the subliminal messages of millions of hours spent reading the books, and listening to the podcasts of, those who seem to have cracked the personal best life mastery code. So here goes…

Three things in three months. Three for Three. To be repeated each quarter. Different goals each quarter, same system.

We each have a list of those practices we’d like to add in to our lives and a list of items or practices we’d like to eliminate. In addition, we’re both entrepreneurial so there are some business benchmarks we’d also like to hit.

We’ve learned through trial and [mostly] error that we’re not so good at this, and that attempting a clean sweep of all the bad and adding a dump truck load of all the good all at once is not only nearly impossible, but also not recommended. On the other side of the coin, choosing a moderate path just seems to find us wandering back into the same bad habits full of colorful excuses. And the ‘let it go and just be’ tactic trips us up as well. Although there is a component of that in this plan.

Let me explain. We need structure. This is a royal we so you’re included here. When we automate certain positive habits, we have more time for creative pursuits because we are spending less time stressing about what we should be doing. Think: brushing your teeth. You just automatically do that. As a kid you may have whined, bargained and drug your feet on the way to the bathroom sink, but now you get it and it’s a natural part of your day. THAT’S what we’re going for here.

To make it easier (we hope), we created three categories under which to place three of the changes we wanted to make in each three month time block.

  • Assimilate: Folding a good habit or practice into your day – pick one and commit to it for three months. Weave it into your life. Every day.
  • Eliminate: Choose one unhelpful habit or item, kick it to the curb and commit to its absence for three months. Every day.
  • Dominate: These are achievable business/personal goals. They differ in that there will be an end point; something measurable. Pick one commit to it for three months. Work it every day.

Here’s where I’m starting:

Assimilate: Morning practice. What does this look like? A combination of meditation, breath work and yoga. Some days it may be 10 minutes, others may be 2 hours. The time is way less important than the commitment to the daily practice.

Eliminate: I want to pick all the gremlins, but I am settling on alcohol. No one needs alcohol and when we hang out together we eat poorly and stay up too late. She’s fun and all, but we’re gonna take a break.

Dominate: Daily writing. Not journaling, but actual writing. Book pages, blogs, articles, etc. This is more on the personal than business side, but it’s been a struggle to get me to sit down and focus in front of my screen on the daily. Now it’s a priority. The measurable part? 1,000 words a day. Maybe that book will finally reveal itself.

The idea here is if the habit just isn’t sticking after three months I can let it go guilt-free and move on to the next three for three. If it sticks, great, it’s automated and it continues without much thought and I still move on to the next three.

The rest of the list? It’s long and includes things like no snacking, planting a food garden, 10,000 steps a day and consuming lots of water.

I’m hoping along the path of this journey I will stumble upon my keystone habit; that one habit that shifts everything and all those lists and plans simply fall into place. I’ll keep you informed.

How about you? How do you plan to love yourself back to health this year?

 

21 Day Challenge – Day 11 – Midway Tricks and Treats

Halloween IMG_1876As I reach the halfway point of my challenge I am assessing my progress and looking forward to what I may want to add in.

Thus far my performance has been stellar. I have met all of my daily challenges except for one. Doing yoga ndira twice a day, every day, was perhaps a bit ambitious. I have forgiven myself. What I have learned is there is a best time of the day for me to do yoga nidra and so I am committing to that time each day. The yoga, gym, writing and photography have been a cinch and alcohol hasn’t even registered as a miss.

Once I complete this first 21 days I’m considering adding some new tools to my enchanted life toolbox. The yoga, yoga nidra and gym are keepers. Writing and photography are a passion and part of a much bigger plan so I don’t think I’ll give that up. The wine? We’ll see where that goes. I still have 10 days on my current plan so I won’t be adding anything quite yet, but I am considering what could enhance my magic making even more.

I have decided to look at food. I know, looking at my relationship to food on Halloween is like being at a romance film festival on Valentine’s Day alone. But all this sugar has me thinking – and hyper.

I have a love hate relationship with sugar. I love it. It hates me. Oh, it says it loves me, sweet talking me into believing it will treat me right but I can see right through its foil wrapper. Those are empty calories mister.

But every now and then it’s hard to resist. Sugar doesn’t act alone, he’s just the front man for a much bigger gang of carbohydrates.

I’ve been on this ride before. I got so serious about food that I became a Holistic Health Coach. I know a lot about food, dietary theories, exercise, physiology and the disease process. I studied the Blood Type Diet, Ayurveda, Veganism, Vegetarianism and Raw food. I know food.

I became obsessed and rigid with food, denying myself so much that I naturally swung the opposite direction in reaction – why can’t I have what I want when I want it? The answer to that question, unfortunately, is all over my hips.

So now I seek the middle ground. What will support my ultimate intention and goals?

As food has not been a direct part of this challenge I have not created any restrictions but I have paid attention. I’ve made good choices. But I can do more. And sometimes less.

If I am eating loads of veggies and fruits, very little grain, very little animal product, no dairy and next to no sugar aside from what lives naturally in fruit, I feel fantastic. If on the other hand I shovel candy, coffee with heavy cream, lunch meat and starchy foods in my face on a regular basis – not so fantastic. I believe this is probably true for most people. Why do we go back to the foods that do not serve our magical selves?

It doesn’t happen all at once, things just creep back in. The mind begins to convince us that we deserve a treat. That’s a trick. (See what I did there?) We don’t deserve sugar, potato chips, soda and deep dish pizza, we deserve to feel amazing.

Eating too much of anything, but especially too much sugar, is like putting a wet blanket over the inner fire. It dulls the brightness, causing that perky flame inside to sit on the couch and put its feet up for a while with one hand tucked in its waistband and the remote control in the other.

Food is a huge part of the healthy, enchanted lifestyle I seek. I’ll begin the investigation and self-inquiry into the foods that are the most supportive for my energy level and shininess. Again, not to be a size zero. Who really wants to be a zero anyway? But to stay clear, focused and feel alive and vibrant. To keep the creative juices flowing and the energy level high.

The bottom line, I want to treat my body like the gift it is, like a temple. Not a haunted house.

[Photo: Playing around with some indoor photography. A touch of Halloween.]

21 Day Challenge – Day 9 – Non-negotiable

tan horsey IMG_1790

It’s amazing what happens when you point yourself in a direction with intention and conviction. It’s not that things become easier or that you muscle through them, they just happen. Without having to “think” about options, the healthiest one is just naturally chosen.

I remember talking to a friend recently who was lamenting about his lack of time to do the things he really loved. Among those things were going to the gym, mountain biking, surfing and playing the guitar. He wants to start eating healthier and juicing. He’s been inside, working several jobs to provide for his family and get some financial traction.

He let go of all the things that support his true Self, that make him come alive.

He commented on some of the podcast heroes he listens to. “They’re working out at 4:30 AM. Everyday. Seven days a week. They have all this energy.” One does beget the other. Commitment + exercise + eating healthfully = Energy. And generally the equation stacks up exactly like that. Commitment must come first.

The commitment is not to the exercise and eating healthfully, it is to the result of doing that. Exercise and a good diet is just the stuff you do, not the goal itself. If the goal is to lose weight and get healthy that will only take you so far. It’s not a sustainable plan. There must be a bigger return on your investment. That would be the energy and attitude to accomplish, what? That’s up to each individual.

We all know these 4:30 AM people. We’re in awe of them and wish we could figure how they do it.  It’s not that they don’t have children or a crazy schedule or a ton of responsibility. It’s likely the contrary.   So what sets them apart from us? Their health and energy are non-negotiable. They won’t sleep in because they stayed up too late, The rarely have that extra round of drinks, if they imbibe at all. They’d rather their own stomach lining eat itself before going to a fast food restaurant, of any kind.

They’ve figured it out. It’s not a secret. It’s not even a mystery. It’s well-known and well documented. It’s a choice. They’ve made a conscious, cognizant choice to live their best life. Their enchanted life. Why would anyone settle for anything less? Why indeed.

I have been in optimal health before. I am pretty healthy now. But I let go of the early morning workouts if I don’t sleep well, putting them off until later, which usually translates to never – or at least not that day. Same goes for food. I’ll eat this little bit of chocolate but then I’ll stay on the treadmill an extra 15 minutes tomorrow. I’ve been working really hard, a glass of wine won’t hurt – or two. I’ll put off the project, the planning, the fill in the blank until I have a little more energy to focus.

I negotiate. I justify.

I am negotiating away my power. My valuable time. When I put things off I cannot enjoy the present moment. My energy is now divided between what I am doing – which is an important task like filing paperwork or vacuuming my car – and finishing the energetically heavy task that would allow me the freedom and time to do something creative.

When I do yoga everyday, go to the gym or for a nice long walk, and do yoga nidra, as I have been for 9 days now, I feel energized and alive. And this energy empowers me to make additional positive decisions for myself.  Do the hard thing first, watch less TV, spend more time on creativity, drink more water. It’s as if the flame has been turned up just enough to illuminate the other menu. The one I can’t see or comprehend when deep in sloth and debauchery.

Who is it I am negotiating with anyway? My ego? My evil twin? (I am a Gemini.) My inner sloth? If I am negotiating with a sloth and it wins that’s not saying a whole lot about my personal power. I mean, come on, have you seen a sloth move?

Like attracts like. If I am feeling good and energized and moving in a direction physically, spiritually, emotionally and professionally that looks at least interesting if not down right magical why would I do anything to jeopardize that? Right now I wouldn’t. And every day I say, right now I wouldn’t I reclaim a little bit more power.

I believe it takes a  while to get the non-negotiable rooted cellularly, but until it is I will do my best to place the sloth on the couch with some tasty leaves, put Madagascar on and go to my mat.

[Photo: While leaving a private yoga client’s home this morning I passed two horses in a nearby yard. One was asking me to come pet him while this guy was very involved in getting some sort of snack out of the tree. Side note: Horse represents power in the Native American culture.]