I know what combination of things to do to feel my best. Over the years I have realized that if I eat a mainly plant and protein based diet, run at least 3 times a week, do yoga once or twice a week, start my mornings with quiet writing time and some meditation, and drink water and tea instead of wine, I feel pretty balanced and great. AND oh my goodness, keeping that routine is not easy. I have a full time job as the Executive Director of a retirement community, an 11 year old daughter, a partner, my coaching business and all the busyness that those things entail. I may know what to do but that doesn’t mean I always do it.
I fall off just like everyone else. Well, I say everyone else but I secretly have this thought in my head that other health coaches NEVER fall off. I picture them all making the beautiful food pictured on Instagram and working out every single day, never once eating a bite of pizza or binge watching Netflix. The more reasonable me knows they are not perfect either. Just because we got the training and try our best, nobody is perfect.
There are those people that seem to be more “disciplined” than others. I have always admired those people. Back in 2007, when I was getting my Master’s degree in Leadership, I also had a concentration in Holistic Nutrition (a bit of a strange combo but it was fun!). I was vegan then and a couple of my running friends decided to try it. They already ate a really healthy diet but they wanted to take it a step further and so they did. They were retired and had mad skills in the kitchen. They jumped on the vegan train and never looked back, nor did they falter. Here we are twelve years later and they are still loyal and dedicated vegans. I seriously want to be them when I grow up but honestly, I have never been like that. I have this hang up about rules and the words “have to” and so I fool myself into thinking I am being an independent thinker when I decide I will eat the bag of Hershey Kisses because I’m a rebel that doesn’t follow rules.
The truth is, sometimes sticking to healthy habits is just hard and my mind can be like a persistent and pushy preteen to get what it wants. The arguments for laying on the couch or eating the burger and fries could win the debate club national championships. So what is this about? Why do we do this? I am neither researcher, scientist or therapist, but my humble opinion, at least in my case, is that it has to do with core limiting beliefs I have about myself and physiology. Sugar is addictive and my core limiting beliefs are powerfully ingrained in me. Also, change is just scary. We (I but I’m going to assume some of you too) like our comfort zone and our comfort food and our comfortable habits, even if they do make us miserable a lot of the time. I think somewhere in me, there has been this voice that says, “You can’t do this” or “You’re not like those women on Instagram. Who are you trying to fool?” That’s the core limiting beliefs talking and we all have them. We might not know we have them but we do.
Ok, so I’ve outed myself in all kinds of ways here. Now what? Well, it’s definitely a journey and not a destination for me and what I have found to be one of the big life changing steps is changing the lens that I look through. I had heard the rose colored glasses blah blah blah stuff, but I really didn’t know on a deep level what this meant until I had a therapist point it out. She told me, in one of our sessions, that I was viewing everything through the lens of distrust and that I probably had been doing this my entire life. Talk about an aha moment! This awareness was life changing. I immediately could see it. I was viewing everything through that lens, including myself. How had I not seen that before??! I quickly started doing a mental inventory of memories, friendships, relationships, job experiences, you name it, only to realize that she was absolutely right. HOLY HELL!! Now, there is something to be said about timing here. I learned this at the exact time I was ready to learn it, so the paradigm shift happened almost immediately with that new awareness. Had it been a time earlier in my life, I may not have made the transition so quickly.
So what shifted? I think the biggest and maybe the easiest shift was in regard to my relationship. Nobody wins when I am constantly waiting for them to disappoint me and don’t trust myself enough to not disappoint them. In this scenario, everyone is set up for failure. Thankfully, once I was aware that this was the lens of distrust, I was able to start looking at things through the lens of trust instead. Even when I was disappointed I assumed the best instead of the worst and when I made a mistake, I trusted I was still a good person. I really had just made a mistake. Needless to say, this nearly instantly made things better for both of us. As far as self-care and health, it was more about trusting that I deserved to feel good rather than feeling it was an obligation to live up to some preconceived standard that someone else set for me so I could be acceptable. I changed it from distrust and discipline, to trust and self-love. (Make that explosion sound and do that explosion thing people do with their hands). Game changer, folks.
I’m not perfect. Nobody is. Not even the people that look like they are. I am however, at 46, continuing to grow and learn and that is what it is all about. Every time I fall off and get back up I am stronger but even more than that, I try to keep loving myself even while I am laying on the ground looking all awkward. I no longer check to see if anyone saw me fall because seriously, it might just make someone’s day to know they are not alone.