Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Learning to Sail...

"A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are built for." - William Shedd

"A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor" - African Proverb

Too often we have the notion that life should be easy, free from difficulty and suffering. As comfort seeking creatures we are constantly looking for ways to make life easier. We end up doing all sorts of things for all the wrong reasons - join a religion thinking that suddenly life will be free from pain. We end relationships because we can't deal with another person/group. We sign up for a certain wellness program thinking that "now, my life will be easier and less stressful and I will finally be healthy!" This is an immature mindset and it's impractical.

When we go into a relationship with the incorrect intention it's no wonder we are disappointed that it didn't work out. When we enter a program with the wrong motivation, it's no mystery that, once again, it "just wasn't for me".

Our goal of entering any program, or relationship should be that of becoming a better person, a more well rounded and balanced person. It should be our intention to become more skillful at dealing with difficultly and using it to our advantage and then learn to to help others. We should only hope to gain new tools and support to help us along our journey. I know that in my religion of choice, just because I'm a "believer" doesn't mean that bad things aren't going to happen to me. I know that difficulties will continue to come my way. I also know that my path to wellness doesn't have a secret passageway that leads me around all the obstacles in life and lets me avoid potential stress or hardships. What I do gain from my religion and my wellness path include:
  • Peace
  • Support
  • Insight
  • Action
  • Help
  • Accountability
  • Wisdom
  • The list goes on.
While this list seems very egocentric, it helps me to be at my best so that I can better serve those around me, and that is what we really need.

Can you embrace difficulty in order to get free from it? Can you thank the pain in your life for helping you to grow as a person? Can you understand that if you are always looking for a safe harbor and calm seas you will never become a skilled sailor in life?

"Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional." - My former drill instructors favorite quote...

I'm not suggesting we go around looking for trouble or difficulty, it finds us easy enough. And I'm not suggesting that life should always be hard or sad. Quite the opposite. As the above quote suggests, pain is part of the human experience and we ALL share this experience. What I am suggesting is that how your respond to difficulty is what matters in life. We have a choice, in each moment, in each experience to chose to view things as negative, or to view situations as positive. Your choice determines your reality. Pain, loss, and our past are all just part of life and who we are, yet we can become more skillful at letting go of the unnecessary suffering and drama that we bring to these experiences.

Here is what Jim Morrison, American poet and rock legend, had to say about pain in life and love:

“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that's bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you're letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”

One of the things I LOVE about physical training is it affords me an opportunity to cultivate these exact skills and responses that we should have during challenges in life. How do you responds during a hard interval session? Do you stress out during the work phase? If all you can think about during the work interval is getting it over with or wanting it to end as soon as possible, you are missing a golden opportunity. In the weight room, on the trail, on the yoga mat and on the meditation cushion we can forge the mental and physical capacity to better deal with difficulty - it's a choice.

Be Well,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nutrition Drama

For me, one of the most satisfying moments in BTWG is when a New Recruit finally makes the transition away from emotional eating, begins to deal with their feelings/emotions, and loses the drama associated to nutrition. In the past couple weeks, this shift has happened for several of you who are currently in the program, and I tell you, it never loses its appeal with me. Even before a Recruit realizes it has happened, I can always see it in their eyes and body language. There is simply a shift in ones intensity and there is a calmness and peacefulness in their presence that wasn't there before.

I love reading weekly updates from Recruits when they mention they "passed on the bread" at a restaurant, or had no attraction to dessert, both of which were true Achilles Heels pre-BTWG. I love knowing that the drama that used to surround eating a meal is gone and I love it when Recruits can enjoy a treat without guilt and shame associated to it.

Week 3 + is what I call the "after the honeymoon" phase of BTWG. Initially, there is a ton of excitement and enthusiasm (mixed some nervousness), yet by Week 3 that excitement begins to wane as the real work begins. This is also the point where some will have enough excuses to bail on the program, or continue to struggle with getting fully on board. For others, who are working the program, this is where the inner struggles really begin. Why is that? If you have struggled with emotional eating or using exercise in an unhealthy manner (or avoiding it!) and you begin to follow the program as it is outlined, you are removing your "coping mechanisms" that you normally use to deal with your feelings and emotions. Once you take away your coping mechanisms, those inner demons rear their heads and suddenly it feels like you are stressed to the max, crying for no reason, pissed at the world and/or feeling blue. While these feeling are not fun to have, it's actually a very good thing. You are no longer numbing yourself and stuffing down things that need to be addressed, dealt with and moving forward. It's no different than someone who uses alcohol, drugs, or other vices to numb out life and problems. You are finally showing up in life and are in a position to get healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You have awareness and you have an opportunity for change.

The beauty of BTWG is that you have outlets for your new-found emotions. Intense physical exertion is an excellent way to relieve stress and emotions, as is yoga and meditation. You also have a strong support network that includes your fellow Recruits, Project Mentors, and your coach. Essentially, you have all the makings for a successful journey to health, fitness, and well-being. The key is you - you must be willing to confront your dragons and, as one of my teachers used to say, learn to walk your dragons.

I'm seriously proud of anyone who has the courage to walk this path and to make a lifestyle change. Change usually isn't easy, it requires effort and it requires patience. Yet, if you are willing to stick with it, the potential and outcomes can be pretty amazing and lead to the life you envision.

Welcome to Month 2, Recruits!

Be Well,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Month 1 Feedback

My "job" is incredibly rewarding in so many ways. I know I'm blessed to be able to do what I love and love what I do. One of the most rewarding things in my line of work is getting feedback from students who are "working the program" and getting great results. Below is an example that totally made my day:

"YIPPEE! still going strong and wow I am confused - never ever thought I would make it this far and loss 10 pounds in 3 week to boot. Not sure why this time I have stay committed to this, I have tried programs before and failed miserably after the first week. Thanks for all of your support. I love the foods I am eating and no longer craving the bad stuff (except maybe an occasional coke here and there would taste wonderful) but I am staying away and feel full and so much better in a short amount of time. Still not getting in as much workout stuff as I would like - but I think that will come once I get the food stuff down. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!"

"365 of Doing Nothing" Update: Day 39/365. I haven't posted much in a while regarding my 365 challenge. Shawna pointed out that by posting about it too much it could make the whole experience too stressful. Boy, was she right. I love it when the "student becomes the teacher". In the end, posting about it everyday was making the practice less authentic so I decided to simply post an update when it feels appropriate.

To date, I have done "nothing" at least once per day, sometimes twice per day, and have not missed a session. While there are still days when it doesn't happen until way past bedtime, I've stayed consistent and have actually started to enjoy the discipline required to stick to my commitment.

One thing of note - along with my earlier report of my body feeling better as a result of sitting every day, I've also noticed my connection to breathing and mindfulness is strengthening as well. During intense workouts I find myself connecting to my breathing more and the "drama" in the head less. I was amazed at how much I had gotten away from this experience as it used to be a regular experience during training/yoga. Clearly, the training effects of meditation are far reaching and no matter how "experienced" we THINK we are - we still must be diligent in our practice.


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Two "C" words

Hey BTWG'ers and Fans of BTWG!

In case you were not able to attend the group meeting on Saturday, I thought I'd update you a little. Since attendance was low due to the snow, I didn't do much of the talking. Rather, I let the group do most of the talking and to connect on a more personal level.

Here is the highlights of what I did share:

Becky W did a nice job of summing up what was my main point in Saturday's meeting. If you missed the meeting, be sure to read her post: http://beckysbtwg.blogspot.com/2011/02/trust-process.html - After reading, ask yourself the question I asked everyone at the meeting - Are you "in" the program, or are you still dabbling or not fully invested? Are you relying in excuses to avoid doing what I am asking you to do. If you are not "all in", why not? Are you still clinging to "your way"? If so, why? Now that we are entering Week 4 of the program, you should be seeing and feeling the great benefits that come with following the plan (at least 90% compliance). Once we have completed 3 weeks on the plan, this is the point you are either seeing and feeling a difference, or not. So, how about you? Are you trusting the process and doing your best or are you still hanging on to old ways and fear?

The two "C" words - "Change", and "Control". Some people embrace change, be it quickly or slowly, however, many people tend to fear change. When Recruits resist change it is most often due to a need to control, which is a fear based reaction. On the one hand, some have a hard time admitting that "their way" isn't working, as if it is a reflection on who they are as a person. Yet, for some the resistance to change is more connected to a need to control and a fear of what may happen if they let go of that control. This is especially common if you have been hurt, wounded, or burned in the past when you didn't have control (against your will), or when you trusted enough to let go of control and something negative happened as a result.

In Spiritual practice, we learn that to have fear that based on past experiences, experiences others have had, or what may happen is "ignorance" or a lack of clarity of the truth. This is is to say that you are missing the truth, missing reality and limiting yourself based off the past, hearsay, or the future. That, my friends, ain't living in the moment and it's a sure fire way to miss opportunities, such as the one right in front of you.

Finally, there are some who have yet to jump in the game simply out of excuses and laziness. If this is the case, just read the back of one of our PR Fitness shirts and follow the directions, "Suck it up, Buttercup!" Remember, you came to me to make a change and you sincerely wanted to be in this program. Well, you ARE here - now it's show time and time to put on our big boy/big girl pants and get down to the work at hand. If you are struggling, TODAY is the day to drop the excuses, make a plan and get busy getting busy! Talk to me or talk to the BTWG Mentors. Talk to your fellow Recruits. You MUST get on board this week - No Excuses. The longer you sit back and watch the train pull out of the station, the harder it's going to be to get on board.

To those of you who are "all in" - reach out and help those who are struggling. Blog about what you are doing and why it is working. Share with all of us your "secrets", you tips and how you are navigating through your own fears and challenges. At the meetings, speak up and help those who need your help.

As always, I'm here to help - just reach out and let me know what you need.

Enjoy your recovery week and get ready for Month 2 to get underway next Monday! I'm proud of everyone in the program, regardless of your Month 1 progress - if you are in the fight, you are still way ahead of most in our society.

Be Well,