November 18th, 2013
Your life has a rhythm. There’s a flow to the way you move through the day which includes certain things you always do, things like brushing your teeth, showering, wearing a seat belt, etc… It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a crisis or on a long vacation…you do these things. I like to call them non-negotiables.
You always do them because they’re important. You’ve made them a priority. My list of non-negotiables includes an early workout, a shower, brushing my teeth, flossing, drinking lots of water and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I might compromise on sleep once in a while and I eat too many sweets more often than I’d like to admit but I don’t compromise when it comes to my list of non-negotiables. They’re the foundation of my rhythm.
I’ve learned that when my rhythm supports me, I feel centered, giving me more energy for everything and everyone else. When I’m centered I also carry less stress and feel happier…consistently happier.
So think about the non-negotiables in your life. What do you always do? Do your habits support you? Are you a priority in your life? Remember, no one will value your time more than you do.
Sustainable happiness comes from creating a healthy rhythm.
November 10th, 2013
The volume of “beauty” images that cross our paths these days is mind-boggling. What was once limited to television and movies, now infiltrates our lives non-stop because of our gadgets…computers, smart phones, tablets, etc… What’s the impact of all those images? Do they affect our self-esteem? Do they affect our behavior?
According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery over 10 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2012. That’s a lot of people spending a lot of money to look better. It’s a 250% increase since 1997.
In Hollywood, actors and actresses have always felt the pressure to fit a specific image because, generally speaking, getting old isn’t good for business. ”Enhancing” their bodies has been the norm. Is it becoming our norm? Maybe the bigger question is: Does it make us happy?
You’re happy if you love the life you’re living. You’re happy if you believe in yourself from the inside out…not the outside in. Outside in thinking is like designing a great book cover without paying attention to the content. What’s the point? In the end, no one cares about the cover. In the end it’s all about the content.
Break away from all of that external noise and focus on who you are and where you’re headed. Surround yourself with friends who believe in you and find ways to help others believe in themselves. If you do that, you’ll develop a happy heart and a happy heart beams with warmth and confidence…the best kind of beautiful.
October 10th, 2013
Imagine there’s a team being assembled to participate in a one day, “idea sharing” retreat. Team members will be paid $100,000.00 each for their time. Of course it would be held at some amazingly fantastic place, all expenses paid. To qualify, you must answer one question. If your answer is unique, you’re in. It’s that simple. The question is:
How are you different?
I’m different because:
- I’m tall
- I teach Pilates
- I’m an author
- I’m divorced three times
- I have a gay brother
- I was anorexic
- I was bulimic
- I’m a rape survivor
- I’m an Ironman
- I like strangers
- I believe in happy endings
My experiences, good and bad, have given me a unique perspective on life. Without a doubt, living through them has made me more compassionate and less judgmental but I’m still limited by what I don’t know. Imagine the wisdom I’d gain if I understood your experiences.
How are you different? Are you shy? Are you a pragmatist? Do you get depressed? Are you musical? Are you super smart? Do you have fears? Have you made mistakes, big ones? These things are important.
Instead of focusing on being similar and fitting in, we should focus on being authentic. If we can drum up the courage to share who we are with the world, maybe we can change the world.
Be brave enough to be different.
October 8th, 2013
Starting tomorrow means we can continue doing whatever we’ve been doing for one more day.
Everyone likes a fresh start, i.e., a new day, a new week or a new month and by the time October and November roll around, it makes sense to just wait for a new year, right?
Do you do this? Sadly, I must confess to employing this strategy too many times to count. It’s appealing because it takes the pressure off. Picking a date in the future is a license to stay on the current course until the “fresh start” date arrives. If you’ve been eating badly, you can continue eating badly. If you’ve been sedentary, you can remain sedentary. If the house is a mess, it can stay a mess. You don’t have to change…yet. What a relief!
It may be a relief but unfortunately this kind of pattern is also a trap because while waiting for the magic date, the hole you’ve dug tends to get deeper. It’s how 5lbs in November turn into 10lbs by January.
If I’m honest, I recognize that I utilize this approach because I enjoy my bad habits. I like snacking in front of the TV. I like snacking in my office. I like snacking in the car. Over the years, I’ve conditioned myself to associate these activities with food to the point where my decisions aren’t even slightly driven by appetite. Instead, they’re driven completely by habit. It’s amazing how mindless I can be while taking something out of a bag and putting it in my mouth.
Well, that was then and this is TODAY. Today I didn’t snack in the car (that was tough). Today I didn’t snack in the office (tougher). Today I didn’t snack in front of the TV or my computer (toughest).
I’ve been taking care of TODAY for a week now and it’s getting easier. I haven’t be perfect, especially in front of the TV but then I catch myself and instead of saying, “Oh well, I’ll start over tomorrow,” I reset in the moment. The thought is, “It’s still today and this day matters.”
It’s working partly because I expect it to be tough and partly because it’s just TODAY. I feel like I can do anything for one day and as for tomorrow…I’ll deal with tomorrow when it gets here.
Come on, people! Nothing changes by waiting for tomorrow. Start today.
September 6th, 2013
This morning a good friend of mine posted a question on Facebook:
“Why do you race?”
She was looking for motivation from her support group of athletes. My gut response was, “You race because it gives you confidence and that confidence carries over into every aspect of life.”
But that’s not right. Confidence is a by-product of racing, not the reason. Anyone can earn fitness and self-confidence by working out and eating healthy. Racing is bigger than that.
I think I race because it stretches me. It makes me uncomfortable. There are so many unknowns on race day. Was my training good enough? Was my taper timed right? Will I have equipment problems? Did I eat early enough to avoid digestive issues? Honestly, when I stand at the starting line, I’m filled with fear and anticipation. It’s damn exciting!
Our children experience these feelings on a regular basis. Life is constantly changing for them. When you think about it, their lives are filled with anticipation…first day of school, first date, first performance, first time away from home, first time driving, first job, etc… Childhood is exciting.
Adulthood, on the other hand, can be pretty mundane. The “firsts” are replaced by routine. The energy that defined you “back in the day” is a distant memory. Instead of driving your way through life, you’ve become a passenger…watching the scenery go by. Come on!! You weren’t born to settle. You need to wake up. Adulthood should be exciting.
Racing makes life exciting. Just enter a 5K or a Tough Mudder or a mini-triathlon and things will change. You’ll have to train. You’ll doubt yourself. You’ll worry and on race day you’ll use the bathroom three times. Your emotions will be on over-drive but it’s worth every second of angst because you get to stand at the starting line. There’s only one feeling that trumps the “alive” feeling experienced at the starting line of an event and that’s the “Holy sh**, I did it!!” feeling of crossing the finish line.
I race because it makes adulthood exciting.
June 11th, 2013
Some people are clearly happier than others. You can feel it when you’re around them. The little things don’t seem to bother them. They’re fully present, genuine and optimistic. You get the impression that life is just easier for them.
It is easier. However, it isn’t easier because they’re lucky or because their circumstance is better. No, it’s easier because they’re happy. It’s a catch-22. Find happiness and life gets easier…even when it’s unfair, even when the world kicks you in the face.
People who are happy, really happy, not faking it, have three things in common:
- They take care of themselves. They like living in their own body. They make time for “body/mind/spirit” activities.
- They feel like they’re making a difference. They’re doing something important: raising kids, meeting work goals, impacting the lives of others, etc…
- They’re appreciated. The people in their lives are grateful for their efforts: recognized at work, loved by family, cherished by friends.
Not happy? Which one of these is lacking in your life? What can you do about it?
June 3rd, 2013
It seems like everyone is trying to find purpose these days. Thanks to the web and all of our devises, we’re tuned into the world. We can watch the best and worst of humanity just by tuning into YouTube. The stories are endless and in comparison our lives can seem small. It’s natural to wonder, “What am I doing that really matters?”
Well, take a breath and relax a little because you’re probably doing more than you realize. This famous Dr. Seuss quote says it all: “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
Your life matters if:
- you listen
- you’re kind
- you lift the spirits others
- you forgive
Honestly, it’s impossible to measure the impact of the little things you do each day that show respect, the little things you do that give someone else a sense of dignity. But know this: Those things are the most important things you do. Those things change the world.
Your life matters.
May 28th, 2013
I’ve raised my kids to have manners. They say things like please, thank you, excuse me and you’re welcome. Those little words are important because they help our children become thoughtful, considerate adults, right? Maybe not.
I’ve discovered that there’s a difference between helping our kids develop a habit of saying the right words at the right times and teaching them to be thoughtful. For example, if my kids were thoughtful, they’d thank me for folding their clothes, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning. At the end of the day they’d say something like:
“Hey, Mom, thanks for doing the laundry, folding the clothes and taking care of me. I really mean it, Mom. I don’t want to do any of that stuff. You’re the best mom ever.” or
“Thanks for taking me to practice tonight, Mom. I know I treat you like a taxi service sometimes but I really appreciate you.”
I don’t know about your kids, but mine weren’t talking like that. Instead, they expected me to do those things because I always have…they thought those chores were part of my job description. They were unintentionally taking me for granted and sadly, it was my fault because I hadn’t taught them to be more thoughtful. I decided to change that.
I sat my boys down and we talked about their duties around the house. Currently they only have to keep their bathroom clean, rooms clean, take out the garbage, and get homework done. I suggested that they were old enough (16 and 14) to do their own laundry, make their own lunches and clean the kitchen. These ideas were met with quite a bit of resistance so I explained why I don’t like doing those jobs either. Then I suggested that showing more appreciation might make a big difference and I gave them examples of the things they could say (see examples above).
It’s been two weeks and I have to admit, life is good. My young men have expanded their manners beyond the auto-pilot responses of “please and thank you.” Of course, I’m wisely reinforcing their efforts my own words of appreciation. As we continue down this track, I’m hopeful my boys will turn into men who’ll be caring husbands, thoughtful friends, and leaders who appreciate the efforts of their employees.
Bottom line: Mindless manners are nice and we should keep them but thoughtfulness takes more effort. Why not start expressing sincere appreciation to the people who support your life?
May 21st, 2013
A close friend of mine, Joe (not his real name) recently returned from an eating disorder residential treatment facility. He finally admitted himself (at the advice of his therapist) for a compulsive eating problem that’s plagued him for over 20 years. Joe’s not a small guy but he’s not as large as you might expect because he’s also a compulsive exerciser…his solution to all that eating. During a typical day he’d eat like everyone else until he got home in the evening. Then, from 6-10 PM he’d spend most of his time in and out of the kitchen. After a restless night’s sleep, he’d get up at 4:30 so he could spend an hour and a half in the gym before heading to work.
Unfortunately, weight and age caught up to Joe. The calories burned were no longer keeping up with the calories consumed. As his waistline grew, he found himself medicated for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He also started suffering from sleep apnea. It seemed like his life was falling apart and he was motivated to change the pattern but whenever he tried to eat less, he got anxious…unbearably anxious. He once confessed to me, “Food is my mistress. I love her. I can’t wait to get home to see her. She makes me so happy. I can’t break up with her. It’s impossible. I can’t.”
Well, 28 days of residential treatment later, Joe’s a very different guy. We went to lunch yesterday and he asked for a “to go” box when his giant sandwich arrived. Before eating, he put half of it in the box explaining to me that restaurants generally give us 2 to 3 times more than a healthy portion so he brings half of it home. For the first time in his entire life, Joe knows what portion sizes are supposed to look like. Four weeks of being forced to eat and exercise normally has also helped him break away from his addictions. He explained that for the first time since he can remember his mind is free to think of something other than food. He feels empowered. He’s happy.
He said, “Wendy, there’s a big difference between can’t and haven’t yet. I learned that I can.”
So can you.
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