Category Archives: Health

Leaving Pounds Behind

I’ve been working on losing a few pounds over the last month. My method has been the South Beach Diet. I have to say it’s working well for me. I’m down 11.4 pounds which puts me in my normal range. My goal is 3 – 5 more.

I’m actually more happy that I was able to get my mental state (i.e. thoughts) in line to do this. It took me a little while to get there. But, once I was there, the rest seemed to just flow easily. I believe that is the case for any goal or thing you want to achieve. You’ve got to get your thoughts going in that direction.

For me, I started with not feeling good at the weight I was at. I was uncomfortable. My energy level was low. My mind wasn’t as sharp as it normally can be. My body simply wasn’t happy. So, I had a choice. Change or continue to feel poorly.

First, I had to be okay with where I was physically. It’s a funny thing. You can’t change yourself until you are okay and accept wherever you are at that moment.  Once you accept the current situation, the ability to change comes easily. When you don’t like who, where or what you are, no change can happen. You actually perpetuate the situation that you don’t like.

But, once you garner acceptance, magic happens. You start feeling motivated to take small actions that begin the process of change. You feel inspired. At first, only slightly but it builds over time. Before you know it, you’ve made significant steps to towards your goal, whatever that may be.

Work on the acceptance first. You’ll find your path of change to be much easier.

Have a great day!

Michael

Heal Your Life

You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we’re not. We always have the power of our minds…Claim and consciously use your power. – Louise L. Hay

We are much more powerful beings than we give ourselves credit. The mind is an amazing thing. It can imagine things never before imagined. It can solve seemingly unsolvable problems. It can overcome obstacles like a knife cutting through butter. It can literally heal our bodies.

Our minds can be our biggest strength and weakness at the same time. It all boils down to what we think and how much we think it. Really, it’s that simple in principle though it does take a little bit of practice in reality.

If we continually think negative thoughts of low self-worth, low self-esteem, guilt, fear, sadness and etc., our lives are subpar. We don’t feel good. We lose our motivation. Our creativity drops. We tend to see the “bad” in things and events around us. Basically, our life sucks.

It doesn’t have to be that way. By training our minds; by choosing the thoughts we think (yes, it’s possible), we can literally lift ourselves out of a hole. We learn to turn our thoughts away from what we don’t want to think. But, what you can’t do is to tell yourself to not think about something. That only focuses your mind even more on the thing you don’t want. You have to completely focus on what you want to think and think those thoughts. It’s more like replacing one thought for another. You distract yourself from the negative thought by thinking something else entirely.

There are many books and teachers who can help here. Some of those are listed on the right.

Have a great day!

Michael

New Year’s diet

I’m struggling with the diet my wife and I started after New Year’s. It’s only day 4 today, but the first week is always the worst, because that’s when you kick the sugar habit. Eating too much sugar is a life-long bad habit for me, ever since childhood, when I could eat everything I wanted and not gain a pound.

Weaning yourself off sugar (or caffeine, for that matter) does make you ask why you became so dependent on it in the first place. I haven’t read that much about what experts say about “comfort” eating or “emotional” eating, but the sense I have is that they are ways to find a quick, super easy way to feel better.

Of course, the real point is that there are more lasting, reliable ways to feel better, and most of these involve doing something worthwhile like helping someone else or helping yourself by eating right and exercising. Like most things that are worthwhile, these take more work than eating out of a vending machine.

Which takes me back to the first week of a diet. I find that I go into mourning for snack foods that I love (“I wish I had a black and white cookie.” “I wish I had a piece of chocolate cake.”) Then, the further into it I get, the more I admit to myself that I will appreciate being fit and in shape, and I will also appreciate not being controlled and hypnotized by processed, fatty foods.

Smokers say that after they quit smoking, they get to the point where they can really taste their food, and the same thing is true to a lesser degree with eating less junk food. All of the fresh vegetables start to taste delicious. I’m not allowed much fruit in the first week of this diet, but the fruit I am allowed (a tablespoon of raisins, a dried apricot) taste like candy.

There is a metaphor in this, that giving up quick, empty joys clears the way for you to notice deeper, more substantial joys. In three weeks, this will make me really happy.

For today, I am clinging to the fact that I have lost 2.5 pounds, and I get to eat a little applesauce for a snack later today.

It's the Little Things

The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little. – Jon Kabat-Zinn

The great lesson…is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s backyard. – Abraham Maslow

The big things in our lives, the really big ones, don’t come that often. We wait in anticipation but once they are over, another period of waiting for the next big event starts.

Everyday, though, we have a multitude of experiences that form the thread of our lives. We meet and interact with people. We go to the movies. We take walks through the forest. We play at the beach. We chat with a friend. We watch the sunset. We go fishing. We drive our cars. We tend to our gardens. We read books. We play or listen to music. We cook. We eat. We sleep in late. We play. We paint. We work. We think thousands of thoughts per day (well, actually it’s around 60,000). We laugh. We cry. We exercise.  And so on every day.

These are the moments we should be focusing our attention on. These are the times that determine who we are. These are the decision points where we decide if we are going to be happy or not.

The little things are where we derive the most pleasure. Observe. Try to experience every detail. Extract as much out of each moment as you can. Relish in your experiences.

You’ll find that your life will feel fuller. You’ll feel like you are living on a deeper level.

Enjoy the little things. Enjoy your life more.

Michael

A Travel Story and a Day of Rest

I was quite sick last night. It seemed to get worse as the evening progressed, but I worked diligently and packed for my flight home today. This morning while I was driving to the New Orleans airport, I couldn’t remember packing numerous items, so I realized how “out of it” I must have been.

So, I arrive at the airport, drop off my rental car and take the shuttle to the terminal. I walk up to the ticket agent who proceeds to start processing my boarding pass. “Hmmmm, I can’t find your flight” he says. I gave him my itinerary. He looked at it and said, “Your flight is not until tomorrow.”

“Whattttttt!!!!”, I exclaimed.

Sure enough, my flight was for Monday. So, you must be thinking that my head cold is affecting more than my sinuses. But, when I called the airline on Friday to change my ticket, the agent clearly stated to me that there were almost no available flights for Monday, but she could easily get me on a flight for Sunday. I was disappointed and asked her to look again for a Monday departure. She scanned and found only a handful of seats left. They were all over $800. I told her to just book the Sunday flight.

Obviously, I was quite surprised this morning and had to call my parents to come pick me up from the airport so I wouldn’t have to rent a car for another day. I called Erica and she told me that when she was getting her boarding pass yesterday, the exact same scenario I have described here had happened to a gentlemen standing in line. He also had been told he couldn’t get a flight on a certain day and then they booked him on that day anyway but told him it was for the day before. He argued with the ticket agent for 20 minutes about this. So, I felt a little better after hearing that. :-)

It was clear to me that I needed some more rest before flying. That’s what I did. I read, napped, read, ate, drank liquids and rested in a prone position as much as possible. I’m feeling better tonight and I think I’ll be better able to fly tomorrow.

Michael

Meditating While Feeling Sick

I have not been feeling very well the past two days dealing basic cold symptoms; sore throat, stopped up head, runny nose, slight cough. Nothing major, but I’ve been feeling really run down.

I made a decision to continue to meditate twice a day even though I was feeling yucky. It was surprisingly easy to get into a meditative state though I was having a difficult time breathing through my nose.

While meditating and for a period of time afterwards, I felt my energy increase and my physical body relax a little bit from the cold symptoms. That felt good.

It’s been a good lesson for me. There are really no excuses for not taking 15 minutes to meditate; sick or not. In fact, I am doing myself a favor by continuing the practice no matter what state my physical body is in.

That’s my lesson for the day. I believe that a good night’s rest will do wonders for me now.

Have a great day!

Michael

New Exercise Program

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it. – Plato

Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states. – Carol Welch

I started a new exercise program on June 30th. I’m not sure what has been harder; the actual 6-day a week program or getting started. I believe that getting started has the edge on being the hardest as it took many months to get to this point.

I know myself well enough that when I’m heavily resisting something, it almost always means that I really need to do it. In psychological terms, it’s the ego that begins to lose control when you start to do things that benefit yourself or give one confidence. The Buddhists call it the monkey mind. The ego or monkey mind uses the subtle techniques of fear, lack of confidence, judgment and etc. to prevent us from being who we truly are. The ego wrongly believes it will die if it loses control.

For sometime my ego has worked overtime to make sure I don’t exercise. I have a clever technique in the fact that I have always had a “good reason” why I can’t exercise at any particular moment. Granted some of the excuses are lame, but they’ve been working quite well up until June 30th.

I’m getting through this one exercise session at a time. If I start to think ahead too much, my ego kicks in and I start thinking about how much work I have to do and how far away I am from my ultimate goal of finishing this 90 day program. So, my one goal is to complete today’s program. That’s all. I find it much easier.

This week, I’m starting to feel better as I’ve gotten over the hump of very sore muscles and feeling tired. Each day, I make a small amount of progress over the day before. It feels really good. I’m striving to build a good habit in 90 days, but I suspect I will have to watch my thoughts for quite some time.

Sometimes all it takes is to take one step forward. The inertia of that action will help to carry you forward and generate another step.

Michael

Resistance to Yoga

A photographer gets people to pose for him. A yoga instructor gets people to pose for themselves. – T. Guillemets

I went to a yoga class tonight. I was very resistant to go. My mind was working overtime trying to find the perfect excuse for me not to go. Here are some of the excuses. Most of them are quite lame. :-)

  1. The class is at 7:15. When I’m a going to eat dinner?
  2. It’s too late. I’ll be tired.
  3. Do I really need to take yoga?
  4. Is it really going to help me feel better physically?
  5. I’m not that flexible.
  6. The class is located in an area that is hard to find parking.
  7. I should do some other exercises first before starting something like this.
  8. I’ve lost the directions. (This qualifies for the lamest excuse of the bunch.)
  9. Do I really want to commit to a weekly class with everything I have going on right now?
  10. Is a one hour a week class really going to do that much for me?

As you can see, the excuses were not that creative. I’ve also realized over the years that if you are that resistant to doing something, then you must do it. Something is going on or you wouldn’t be so insanely resistant. This type of resistance usually happens when you are about to break through old habits and paradigms. It’s also common when you are approaching a new understanding about yourself.

There is always a part of you (your ego) that does not want you to be knowledgeable. Your ego knows that knowledge is power and more importantly knowledge about yourself is freedom. Freedom from fears. Freedom from repressing your true desire. Freedom to create the life that you really want.

So, next time you are feeling resistant about doing something, make it a point to go and do it. Get a friend to push you there if you need, but go and do the thing that you don’t want to do. You’ll grow by leaps and bounds.

Have a great day!

Michael

Getting My Strength Back

Two and a half weeks after my surgery and I’m still working on getting my stamina back. When I’m in London, I typically walk a lot. I tried that today and realized I’m still not all the way back to my normal self yet even though I feel really good.

I walked a total of about an hour today. I didn’t walk it all at once but the cumulative effect was that I got tired very early. I could easily get frustrated about this, but what would that do, except to make me feel even worse.

So, I’m learning to take it one day at a time. I’ll do a little more each day. Before I know it, I’ll be back to hiking miles and miles. Patience and acceptance are the keys. As long as I don’t get down on myself, I’ll continue to heal at exactly the rate my body needs.

It’s amazing what you can teach yourself when you just listen.

Have a great day!

Michael

Health and Happiness – Part 2

It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom, whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body. – Marcel Proust

Illness has always brought me nearer to a state of grace. – Abbe Pierre

If we are suffering illness, poverty, or misfortune, we think we shall be satisfied on the day it ceases. But there too, we know it is false; so soon as one has got used to not suffering one wants something else. – Simone Weil

Nothing like getting an illness to make you think about health and how much better that state of being can be. I always saw illness as something that “attacked” me from the outside. I had no control over it so it produced hefty amounts of fear.

Much of that has changed for me now, but I usually need to be conscious about it when I’m sick. I really work on relaxing and try to learn something from the illness. Maybe I need to get some rest. Maybe I need a dose of patience. Maybe I need to reflect on my life or let someone take care of me for a change. It could be anything, but there is always a lesson.

One thing I really work hard on is too keep my attitude up even when I’m completely laid out with a flu, appendicitis or etc. This is a great secret weapon to make yourself feel better, quicker or at the very minimum help to make your time of sickness more pleasant than it could have been.

Use the contrast that illness brings to clearly know how you want to feel. Focusing on that instead of being sick will keep your mind in a better place. Keeping your mind in a better place can actually reduce the length and intensity of the illness you may be experiencing.

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