Monday, June 4, 2018

"I Could Never Eat Processed Foods" - Really?

"Oh I could never eat packaged foods"? 
There is a difference between "processed foods" and "foods that have been processed". The functional fuelings we use in the program we coach falls into the SECOND category. Would you call baby formula processed food? "Oh, my baby doesn't do processed food" - said no one, EVER. Even breast milk has been "processed" and scientifically designed to be delivered in the appropriate form for that baby to grow, with everything that baby needs to thrive in his/her health. So, processed cannot be deemed "good" or "bad" absent the CONTEXT of the how/why/purpose of the processing. 
Our fuelings are functional foods designed for the PURPOSE of sending our bodies the instructions to utilize the long-term energy that it has stored, WHILE providing us nutritionally with everything we need for the PURPOSE of creating health in our lives. The FOOD industry has purposefully created "hyper-palatable" processed foods designed to trick the body into craving more so we will over-consume them because the high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, fat and salt are added in such a way to make us want MORE. Athletes, astronauts and military who are deployed overseas ALL eat "processed foods", but again it is because they are scientifically formulated to allow for maximum performance and nutrition in a form convenient and practical for them to achieve their mission/goals. MRE's in the military are "packaged", sports nutrition is "packaged", astronaut food is "packaged". You've got to look at purpose and context. Heck, when someone is in the hospital do they receive "packaged/processed" nutrition? 100% yes. So it isn't the fact that it is packaged/processed that makes it good/bad, you have to look at WHO designed it, and the PURPOSE it was designed, and WHAT it is comprised of. Also consider the following "processed" foods: Multivitamins, pasta, tofu, probiotic capsules, fish oil capsules, olive oil, wine, tea sachets, ANYTHING EDIBLE IN YOUR PANTRY OR REFRIGERATOR THAT HAS BEEN PURCHASED AT A GROCERY STORE OR SENT TO YOU THROUGH THE MAIL. Just because it has a list of ingredients and comes in a package does not mean it is good OR bad in and of itself. WHAT are those ingredients? WHY were they put there? WHAT is the effect of those ingredients, either alone or in combination with each other, on the body?

Even fresh organic fruit and vegetables that you purchase anywhere other than the farm stand on location at the farm it was picked at is "processed and packaged". Things must be processed and packaged in order to transport them to where they need to go so the end-point consumer can purchase them. "Oh, no, that's not what I'm talking about, I don't want to eat anything that's not in the form it was grown in."  That is awesome, and I applaud you! So tell me, is that philosophy your regular practice right now? Today? And further, are you practicing healthy habits routinely and daily in your life in ALL the areas of physical health? Do you have a clinically healthy body mass index? Are you physically active at least 150 minutes per week? Are you getting at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep? Are you able to manage stress in a healthy way? This is the global view of the aspect of our program regarding "healthy body". How about habits of health for the mind? How are your relationships? Do you have a spiritual practice? Do you serve in your community? Do you have hobbies you engage in that allow you recreational time? Do you enjoy your job? What brings you meaning and purpose in your life?

Creating optimal wellbeing is much more than whether you eat food from a package or not. People do not change their lifestyle overnight, and our process baby-steps you from where you are now to where you want to go by setting up the structure for you to progress and bring in habits of health to set the foundation for lifetime transformation, one healthy habit at a time. That's the purpose. 








Random Thoughts on My Relationship With Food...



Some random thoughts on my relationship with food....and why the program I coach was the golden key I used to unlock the life I wanted to create!

Food is important, yes, but it isn't my focus. It is fuel. The program we coach is a GOOF PROOF system which delivered exactly what I needed in the right amounts at the right times, and shocker, yes, it comes in a package so that the science can take over and I don't inadvertently throw a monkey wrench in the whole process! I didn't need to become even MORE of an EXPERT at weight LOSS, I let the nutrition program do that heavy lifting for me while I got busy learning the healthy habits which have allowed me to become an expert (but still learning for SURE) in my own HEALTHY LIVING! These baby steps taught me how to FUEL my body in a way that encouraged it RIGHT AWAY to begin using my "long-term energy reserves" it has so considerately being storing up for my use, and to do that, yes, there is a science behind it and we have to send it specific physical instructions because it's about biology and chemistry. Before I discovered our program, I had been holding on to concepts about what I could or couldn't do, and was basing my decisions and actions on "but what does it taste like?" or "I could never do that" or "but I need to eat yummy food and I don't want to give that up right now".
That FEELING of panic I felt was simply my survival mode limbic system kicking in and telling me I'd be miserable without my "fix", how could I possibly "deprive myself" of the "yummy food" (that was making me unhealthy and killing me slowly - physically - and sapping my goals and dreams - mentally and emotionally), I just "couldn't do that".
Well, if we keep telling ourselves that enough times it becomes our narrative, and our story, and so much so that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It keeps us from taking action. Sure, we have that choice. And believe me, knowing what to do and NOT doing it is a choice nonetheless, we are saying "no" simply by not saying "yes".
When I realized that I had a SOLUTION in my hands to something I had been searching for my entire life - which had eluded me no matter how many nutrition classes I took, how many degrees I got, how many things I researched or books I read or talk shows I listened to - man I was EXCITED to step into that and the hope that came from that belief, that faith that yes this WOULD WORK, because I was the variable, and I WAS GOING TO WORK IT without modifying it, and without making excuses, MAN I dove in.
Part of me panicked "but what about the yummies?" Yeah? What about them? I've tasted them before, and frankly I'm TIRED OF WANTING THEM. I was read for a new life. I was read to BECOME a healthy person, and so I made the decision and DID it. My outsides reflected my insides eventually, and now I LOOK like the healthy person I BECAME when I began to DO THE THINGS that healthy people DO.
OK Yeah I might offend a person or two when I say hey, if your deal-breaker for getting healthy is a question about the TASTE of the FOOD and is it YUMMY, I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise, food has a hold on you and you might very well be its servant because you are asking IT for permission to create health in your life. Tell me what it says, if it grants you that permission or not. So I'm not going to argue with you about you needing your yummy food. Nor am I going to tell you how yummy the fuelings are, except that they are pleasant but I won't go on and on about the flavor one way or the other since if THAT is your determining factor then that is a red flag and I may point that out as such if you are open to hearing it. You can realize it is, and DO IT (the program) ANYWAY because you want this more than ANYTHING (health) knowing and trusting that this is a process, OR you can choose yummy food over your life, your health, even your freedom to do the things you want to do. Unless food has such a numbing zombie-like hold on you that you can't think of anything else you want to do but be able to eat the yummy foods you want to eat, while remaining in bondage, as a willing captive, in that jail cell you are in. The door is open, it has been all along, so WALK OUT OF THERE and never look back!
When I learned, adopted and began to master the ACTIONS that, over time, became HABITS, which led to my body shedding 135 pounds of "long-term stored energy" that it no longer needed to hoard "for a rainy day".
But I needed a system, a guide, a destination, and a community of people to journey there WITH me. And now I understand the destination isn't the destination, there isn't a "Destination: Health". It doesn't exist. There is a "Direction/Orientation: Health" and that is a FREAKING FUN journey, one that will end when my expiration date arrives.
So, what is your plan? What is your strategy? Do you have a trustworthy GUIDE? Do you have an evidence-based clinically proven nutrition component that has been recommended by over 20,000 physicians nationwide? Are you getting healthy with healthy food, or are you using DIET food? Or, are you gonna set out on a wing and a prayer, hoping you can change your health trajectory?
HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY.
It just isn't.
HOPES/DREAMS written down with a DATE behind them and a solid START DATE ("Today" is always a good one, I highly recommend "Today") become GOALS.
GOALS listed stepwise become a STRATEGY/PLAN
A STRATEGY/PLAN put into ACTION becomes a REALITY.
So tell me, what's it gonna be? Dreaming and hoping for another year (which is actually just an escapism fantasy if you never intend on truly taking action towards making your dreams a reality) or is THIS the year you take control and rediscover, or discover for the first time, who HEALTHY YOU is?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Please Lord Help Me Get One More"

I just saw that Hacksaw Ridge hit HBO this week.
If you haven't seen the movie, it is epic.
When I saw this movie, and heard Isaiah 40:28-31 quoted in the opening scene, it impacted me greatly. Here it is:






This man stood on the strength of his convictions, with faith in God, and was a blessing to every man he saved that legendary day at Hacksaw Ridge. With every living soul he carried to safety, his concern was not for himself, and his prayer as he lowered each wounded soldier down the ridge and out of harms way, the only thing on his mind as he dashed back into the danger to find other wounded soldiers to try to save was this simple plea and prayer:
"Please Lord help me get one more."
Although I do not claim to be a hero in any sense, those words resonated deep in my soul. I believe passionately that David Phillips and I have been tasked by God for the purpose of helping people change the trajectory of their lives, and the lives of their families and communities, by giving them the tools and the support for them to transform their health (one healthy habit at a time), and thereby their life, and to consider becoming a blessing to others as they "pay it forward" too.
Not everyone understands what we do or why we do it, and as a matter of fact I have had incredibly confusing conversations with a handful of fellow Christians who are convinced that maintaining their health and taking care of their bodies is in no way their responsibility, who view us as some type of "health, wealth and prosperity" peddlers who are attempting to circumvent God's will by giving people the hope that they can, in fact, extend both the years of their life AND the life in their years by changing their habits and making health a priority. This kind of reasoning (the reasoning that it is somehow against God's will to do what we can to live as long and fruitful a life on this earth as possible), if followed logically to its conclusion, would negate the need for surgeons, cancer treatment, organ donors, defibrillators, NICU's, emergency rooms, blood banks, firefighters, paramedics, guard rails, life-jackets, you get my drift, right?
So why draw the line at us taking personal responsibility for our health and say that somehow it's not "Godly" to seek to take care of ourselves and reverse or prevent chronic illness? The evidence is overwhelming that it can be done, the evidence is overwhelming that we can, by changing our habits from UNhealthy habits to HEALTHY habits, have the potential to extend our lifespan on this earth, beyond what it "would have been" had we continued in our unhealthy habits.
How is that an "un-Christian" attitude to take or desire to have? How can that possibly be defined or interpreted as attempting to somehow thwart God's sovereignty (which isn't even possible by any stretch of the imagination)? If, by adopting healthy habits I can increase my years beyond what they "would have been" had I stayed Class IV Super Obese, if I can seek to secure, by changing my habits and taking care of my body (which God tells us to do, by the way) more years on this earth to live out my purpose with passion, is that not something I should want? Is that not something I should seek? Is that not something I should share?
I'll bet the same people who have unfriended me on facebook (TRUTH!) over this brush their teeth every day! Why? What's the point of that (using the illogical reasoning)? Why are they seeking to extend the life of their teeth beyond what tooth decay due to negligence would allow for? Is THAT thwarting God's will for the life and usefulness and condition of their teeth? There are many analogies I could cite for this erroneous reasoning, but I think I've made my point.
It's safe to say I VEHEMENTLY disagree with that reasoning and rationale which claims it is "not our place" to seek to be good stewards of our lives and bodies, to seek to live out as many years as as we can on this earth, in these bodies. I believe God DOES want us to wake up out of our stupor and slumber, our desire for the "easy and comfortable" way. I also believe He would love for many of us in this country to stop committing slow suicide with our spoons and forks.
I believe I have an expiration date, yes (which my teeth will likely outlive LOL). And I believe only God knows what it is. But I won't hasten it with my negligence or my unwillingness to believe I have a responsibility to take care of this gift of a body the good Lord gave me to take care of. I am NOT at risk of overstaying my welcome here on earth, believe me. God is NOT up there saying "Well what are we going to do now, this one has gone and gotten healthy, we hadn't planned for that one, cue the lightning strike".
God was not witnessing the events playing out on Hacksaw Ridge and saying "No! Not that one! Put him back! Don't save HIM, Leave him there! It's actually his time to die!" God's will was accomplished that day, as it ALWAYS IS, and he USED this brave man to save many lives because He had the right man with the right heart in the right place at the right time. He had prepared that soldier HIS ENTIRE LIFE to do exactly what he did that day, and had given him the strength to do it. And that soldier's heart was to get out there and save as many lives as he was physically able to save. And his prayer was always "Please Lord help me get one more."
Here's the bottom line. I'm simply not concerned with what others may think of me. I'm on a mission to "get" as many people out of harms way as I can, because God IS concerned with every precious life, here, on this earth, and there is a lot more work to be done.
Therefore MY daily prayer is also "Please Lord help me get one more."

I came across a website which beautifully summed up many of the verses in the Bible dealing with health, food, self-discipline and self-mastery, and I wanted to post them here.
God’s blessing of good health begins with our souls
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 1:2).
The Lord guides us into healthy living, watering our lives like a garden
“The LORD will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring” (Isaiah 58:11, NLT).
Our bodies are sacred temples for God’s Spirit
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
Honor your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
HEALTHY EATING HABITS
Using food for comfort isn’t helpful
“Food does not bring us near to God” (1 Corinthians 8:8a).
Think before you eat: What am I feeling? How much do I really need?
“When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners: Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite” (Proverbs 23:1-3, MSG).
Bring your anxieties to God (not to food)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Worrying about food wastes time and life
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life” (Matthew 6:25-27).
To nourish your body and appearance eat vegetables and drink lots of water!
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way… ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (Daniel 1:8, 12,13,15).
Physical training can positively relate to spiritual training
“Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NLT).
Physical exercise is good for us. Spiritual exercise is especially good for us!
“Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8, MSG).
IT TAKES DISCIPLINE TO BE HEALTHY
Avoid compulsions (including with food) of all kinds to honor God
“‘Everything is permissible for me’ – but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’ – but I will not be mastered by anything… Therefore, Honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:12, 20b).
Discipline is the road to the good life
“The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you’re lost for good” (Proverbs 10:17, MSG).
Hard work pays off; chasing fantasies doesn’t
“He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment” (Proverbs 12:11).
We need to put good intentions into practice to profit
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).
Moderation is the key
“Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags” (Proverbs 23:20-21, MSG).
We need each other, especially to overcome our weaknesses
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
We need deep understanding from God (and the Body of Christ)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
If we confess our struggles to each other and pray together we’ll heal and grow
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV).
Healthy living begins with healthy thinking
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8, MSG).
More than anything else we’re hungry for God
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat” Matthew 5:6, MSG).
We need to feed our souls with God’s Word
“People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God” (Matthew 4:4b, NLT).
WE GROW IN HEALTHY LIVING ONE STEP AT A TIME
We all need patience. We may also need warning, encouragement, or tender care.
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NLT).
Monitor your progress by comparing yourself to your past and not to others
“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else” (Galatians 6:4).
Positive change occurs best with slow, steady progress
“A bonanza at the beginning is no guarantee of blessing at the end” (Proverbs 20:21, MSG).

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Never, Ever, Ever, Ever, Ever give up! - Winston Churchill

"Never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up!" - Winston Churchill

I was thinking about this quote by Winston Churchill today, and ruminating on how wise this advice is. The way I relate it to health, and our health journey, is that we should never give up on ourselves, never give up on our potential, never give up on our ability to make a decision to change, and never give up on learning and practicing those habits, those behaviors, that will bring about that change.

You may have already made that decision, and you may be firmly on the road to optimizing your health. You may be taking those baby steps, one day at a time, TOWARDS optimal health.

Conversely, perhaps you were firmly on that road and practicing those healthy habits for 1 year, 2 years, 3 years or more, but somewhere along the line you may have stopped making that daily decision to practice those healthy habits, and what happened is what always happens when we change the instructions we are "feeding" our bodies. Our bodies did exactly what we told them to do.

Or, maybe you have never gotten on the road to really creating optimal health in your life, maybe you have tried so many things in the past, but nothing has helped you learn exactly WHAT to do, WHERE that road to health even is, and HOW to get on it?

Well, the bottom line to bring ourselves from a state of unhealthy and "dis-ease" is to change our daily behaviors. If we are unhealthy, overweight, overtired, overstressed, overworked, etc, what can we do? Obviously something needs to change, but how? What?

We can search the internet high and low, we can look to Dr. Oz and the bariatric surgeons, we can sit back and wait for a pill to be developed, or better yet a computerized chip we can implant in our brains which will inhibit our healthy habits and download new healthy habits. Yes, truly, we can wait, and do nothing in the meantime.

Or, we can choose to make a change today, ourselves, and seek the tools, support and community which will be necessary

How My Community Saved Me (an Open Letter to a Friend)

Dr. A's Habits of Health is THE USERS MANUAL for creating "Optimal Health and Wellbeing". It is written in such a way that anyone who wants to know how to learn and practice healthy habits of energy management, eating, moving, thinking, sleeping, and managing stress can learn to DO that without having to go and get a degree! Trust me on that! I have the degree!

I'm going to put my "expert hat" on for just a moment, and tell you that I may have a Bachelors of Science Degree in Human Nutrition, I may be a Registered Dietetic Technician, I may be one statistics class away from having my Master's Degree in Obesity Prevention and Management, and nothing, NOTHING I have learned in all of my studies in a University setting, in Academia, has helped me further my own health in a real and practical way. 

And I will also let you in on something that I have learned plenty in my life, and am still learning! People don't "Lose weight and keep it off". What people DO is "learn healthy habits, begin to practice them daily, and continue practicing them daily." 

Or, sometimes they do that for awhile, even years, and then stop practicing them for a spell. Does this mean they have failed? Does this mean they are out of the "healthy club"? 

No. What it DOES mean is that if they want to begin practicing the habits of health again, they can do that TODAY. Right now. This moment.  

The minute you stop, I stop, or anyone STOPS, or pauses practicing their healthy habits, their bodies WILL follow the instructions we give them. There is no magic program or pill or cleanse or operation that is going to prevent someone from gaining weight in this scenario. There is only you and your habits. There is only me and my habits. There is only the decision of what we are doing TODAY. With our next choice. And our choice after that, and whether or not it agrees with our desires to live an optimally healthy life. We all have habits. Are we in the habit of doing those things daily that are necessary to be healthy? Or, are we in the habit of doing those things daily which will inevitably, if we continue in those actions, cause weight gain? 

I recently had a friend PM me to tell me that she was "worried about me" (my integrity, my soul, my character, etc) because she saw I had changed my profile picture to my health transformation collage which contained a picture from 2010 and a picture from 2014. She said it was "deceptive" and "wasn't fair" to all of the people who were commenting on the picture and congratulating me, since she knew I had a hit a few speed bumps in the road with my own health over the last two years (I think she had forgotten that she only knew that because I was as transparent with her about my journey as I am with EVERYONE who has a conversation with me).

Here is the "offending" profile picture:

You see, my 2009 picture was taken a year before I made the decision to strive to live my life as a healthy person. I was on a Make-a-Wish trip with my husband and my son, Julian, who had just, the year before, received a kidney transplant. IN that before picture, I was super-obese and weighed 272 pounds (at 5 foot 3). I walked with a cane sometimes because my knees hurt so badly. I hurt when I went to bed, and again when I woke up, if I could sleep at all in between! My back hurt. My plantar fasciitis hurt. I had lost hope that I could ever truly live my life as a healthy person. I had squelched my dreams, because my one dream was that I'd be able to someday be healthy, and, well, I wasn't!

The picture taken in 2014 was taken when I was in the best health I have ever been in my life! I had, a few years prior, achieved a healthy BMI with our program, and had been practicing healthy habits daily for several years. I continued on setting health goals and achieving them, and one of those goals was to run the full Paris Marathon which I finally did in April of 2014 (I'm wearing my Marathon shirt in the second picture)!

At age 45 I felt like I was 25 years old, except I didn't feel like 25 when I was 25 because I had struggled with health my entire life! 

A while ago, I started to let my healthy habits slip. And, because our bodies will always follow the instruction we give it (and I had changed the instructions I was giving my healthy body by not daily practicing my healthy habits of energy balance and healthy movement) my body responded accordingly, as it always will. It is no surprise that when that occurs, there are consequences. Because I had not put myself into action to re-establish and daily practice my healthy habits again I was no longer a healthy BMI or a healthy weight.

GASP! I know! A HEALTH COACH? Yes, a health coach! Did you know that I have a health coach too? I look to my health coach to support and encourage me also! I am simply a person, like anyone else, who someone cared enough about once to share an AMAZING program with, a program which gave me hope that I could truly live a healthy life?

Yes! Crazy, huh? When that person shared it with me, I made the fundamental decision to move in that direction, to change my orientation and develop healthy habits, and to CHOOSE optimal health!

Through this program I found an AMAZING community of like-minded people, who are health coaches also, who have supported me along the way! I'll support them too when they may run into inconsistencies in their healthy habits, or speed bumps, no matter what life throws their way, no matter how they choose to respond to those curve balls.

By the way nothing happens TO us that MAKES us do anything, we are always 100% responsible for the choices we make. That is actually AWESOME NEWS because that means that in the blink of an eye, in a heartbeat, in the time it takes you to finish this sentence, YOU CAN DECIDE TO CREATE OPTIMAL HEALTH IN YOUR LIFE. There. Did you decide? Are you going to do it?  

But, I digress! When I found THIS community, I decided I wanted to take as many people on this road with me as possible! I wanted to link arms with people and walk the road WITH them! Not because I have it all together, or I don't, not because of me at ALL! But because of OTHERS. I want to help others make breakthroughs in their health. I want to help other people build a community of health around themselves which, if they'll have me, includes me, and I want them to be a part of the community of "lifelong transformation, one healthy habit at a time" that I belong to which includes THEM! As a Health Coach, I'm not an expert! Sometimes I'm a guide, who at the same time needs a guide, and guess what sometimes I misplace my map or lose my flashlight (or do a somersault into a ravine) too!

But here's what I'm thankful for, here is what this recent development has highlighted for me. It is simply this:

That I have an entire COMMUNITY of support surrounding me, a like-minded, vibrant, loving community of individuals who, 6 years ago when I became a health coach, welcomed me with open arms and have never told me ONCE, or ever even IMPLIED that if I hit a rough patch, if I "failed to perform" if I ever fell in the bushes and took a little longer to get up than I would have preferred, I would have to lock all of my pictures I had documenting my transformation away until I looked like that again? That I would have to erase 5 of the last 7 years of my life as if they didn't happen?

So, here is my open letter to a friend:

"Dear friend, I love you, but I disagree with you, and there isn't really any way I can explain it to you because you simply don't understand this journey I am on. And, that's ok, it's my journey after all, and we are so very different people, we always have been. 

This journey I am on allows me to reject the notion that my story has to be perfect, or flawless, mistake-FREE in order to lend a helping hand to someone else who may be on the fringes, wishing they, too, might be able to have a shred of hope that things can be different for them in terms of their health and wellbeing.

And I see them all the time, standing on the ridge, watching us go by. When I get within shouting distance of them, I'll call out to them. I'll wave them over. I'll approach them (even if I'm hobbling a little bit because while I am firmly with my tribe, that last ditch I stumbled into and stayed in for a good bit kinda threw me for a loop and bloodied and bruised me up a little bit) and I'll start a conversation with them. I'll show them my skinned up knees and tell them "Hey, don't do what I just did a bit ago! I mean, do what I'm doing, and do what I did before I tripped over my own feet and fell head-first into that ravine, but I would highly recommend you be rather a little more mindful than I just was. 

But it doesn't end there! Because THEN I'll say "But hey, let me tell you what will happen if you DO take a tumble into a ravine! See all these awesome amazing people around me? This is my community! They KNOW me! They link arms with me! And, they NOTICE when I've gone and disappeared! They'll send out a search party and make SURE they bring the ropes to help pull me out, and the stretcher if I need it for a spell, because they are NOT leaving me behind. You come join us, and they'll be YOUR community too! I'll introduce them to you, and you to them, and you can come with us! It's not easy, there are plenty of these ravines to go around, but you stay towards the middle, where everyone is, and you'll be just fine! You just keep putting one foot in front of the other foot and keep them pointed in the direction we are all going.

What you won't EVER hear us say is "You know, I saw that you took a tumble down that ravine awhile back, and you stayed there for a couple of years. Well we've had enough of your shenanigans, you make us look bad.  You really shouldn't tell anybody about this road anymore, it's deceitful and hypocritical. I mean, you can't even stand up straight for 7 years solid, we saw what you did at that 5 year mark, don't think we didn't see it. We can't have the likes of you, someone who is a little clumsy every once in awhile, who let's herself get the wind knocked out of her, no, you're not what we want here. Hey, look, we can't have you representing this road anymore. I mean, what if they see you on it, and think you are ACTUALLY one of us? Can you imagine? How embarrassing for us, and you know, really, how embarrassing for you. What? You're still telling people about this road? I thought we told you you couldn't do that anymore. You couldn't cut it. You're a hypocrite for telling anyone else about it, even if their journey isn't your journey and your journey isn't their journey, no one should hear about this road from YOU."

I don't "get" to tell people about this road, I have a deep sense of URGENCY which COMPELS me to share with people about this road. I MUST share it with them, for THEIR sake. And if I can show them pictures about my first 5 years on the road, and how those were the happiest years of my life, how I felt a purpose and a calling and a responsibility to and a deep joy, believe me I'm also going to tell them about that pit!

I didn't take too many pictures of me in the pit, it wasn't very scenic, and the pit is not where I chose to STAY. The pit is the pit, but it is an essential part of my story and they'll hear it, believe me.

Here's the thing, though, I'm drawing a line in the sand right HERE. I will NOT let YOU tell my story for me. Nor will I listen when you dictate to me how I should tell it.

I may have been stuck in a ravine trying to claw my way back up for the last 2 years, but my tribe did not leave me behind, to stay there, miserable in my pit!

My tribe surrounded me with love, dropped every rope they could spare, and spent THEIR time, with nothing to gain but my humble gratitude, reminding me what I had forgotten. Reminding me that to move forward, to move upward, I have to raise my hand, grab the rope, and do the work with consistency to get out again.

If I remember correctly, YOUR response to my struggles was to dis-invite me to the "Made to Crave" Book Study you had asked me to be a part of. Yep, I noticed.  

What you are implying is that I'm misrepresenting ME. No, I'm not misrepresenting ME by having my transformation pictures as my profile picture. BOTH of those pictures are 100% me, no airbrushing, no touch-ups, no manipulation, I didn't photoshop my head on someone else's body in EITHER of those photos. They are genuine, they are true. That IS me, I DID do that, that IS a vital part of my story. 

No, I'm not misrepresenting me, I'm CORRECTLY representing the potential of the amazing transformational program my husband and I coach. That message is clear: If you practice healthy habits daily with consistency you can create vibrant health in your life. If you change those instructions, you will change your health. That is a truth in BOTH directions.

But, let's just take your point of view for a moment. So, you are saying that I COULD have posted my before and after picture as my profile picture up until the point I showed my flawed and sometimes inconsistent humanity?

How generous of you.

If I listened to you, I would be sitting in a corner in shame, which, now that I think about it through the history of our friendship, may just be exactly where you wanted me.

Well, I'm not ashamed. I'm not apologetic. This has become part of my story.

Sure, you can send me a "message" (brave of you, by the way) and call me deceptive. You can tell me I've lost the right to show people to road to health, and help them up onto it, link arms with them and continue contending for our health together. You can say "hey, you fell down that ravine, I saw you do it!"

I know you did, I shared that detail with you as I shared it with anyone who inquired. 

Guess who else saw it? My tribe, my community. How do I know this?Because THEY came over, cared about me, and helped to pull me out. And that person on the ridge over there? That person you are so afraid I am "misleading" with my profile picture? They also know. How do they know? Because I tell every single person who asks how I'm doing.

I'm still on the road. I'm not perfect. I don't claim to be. 

And this is what this crazy group of like-minded travelers are doing on the road, we are helping each other. I can lean on them at times, they can lean on me at times, and we support each other! I chose to tag along with these amazing life-giving beautiful people, my fellow OPTAVIANS, when I became a coach myself. THESE are my people, this is my tribe, those who have and who will HELP me recognize when I'm off the path, in the weeds or bushes somewhere, and LOVINGLY come along side me and help me back on to my feet with wise, timely counsel, reminding me WHO I AM! 

People who have become dear friends to me who, in times when I been headed in the other direction, have run after me and embraced me and and seen me as ME and not as a failure! THIS is my tribe, this is my community, these are the people who are in my life for the duration. These are the people who never give up on me, never kick me to the curb because I stumbled, and to ME, that is the vital importance of community!

A club will kick you out if you don't follow the rules, if you don't live up to their "standards".

I've noticed people can sometimes do that too.

A COMMUNITY, our community, will catch you when you fall, will reach out and say "how can I help" and it not be just WORDS. THIS is why finding and connecting with a like-minded community is a key element of successful positive long-term behavior change.

I'm not an actor here, I'm not playing a part. I've not set myself up on some pedestal and claimed to be bullet-proof. I'm not engaged in some kind of puppet-show hoping nobody can see the strings. I'm not the wizard of OZ behind the curtain. I post pictures to inspire me, and sometimes they are my pictures (GASP)! And, when I want to see a particularly poignant reminder of what I know I AM capable of, I make it my profile picture, without apology! I am still that person, both pictures, the difference in appearance being my level of daily commitment to practice my healthy habits.

Only rationale that smacks of "diet mentality" would say "that's not you anymore, you don't look like that, therefore you are trying to deceive people".

You are incorrect. It is me. Both pictures are me.

One is a reminder of what happens when I'm not practicing healthy habits over time, and one is a reminder of what CAN happen when I'm practicing healthy habits over time. Still me, 100% me, I can guarantee you that. 

Those who have experienced shame, defeat and rejection can find hope and connection when they enter our life-giving community of coaches. We have a culture and code of helping people, no matter where they are now or where they used to be on the spectrum of health. I know this. I've experienced all ends of the spectrum, and all the space in between.

And this I know for certain, when a community of people, with genuine love, compassion and truth are committed to help others bring out the best versions of themselves (instead of judging, pointing fingers, or "shaming them"), LOOK OUT WORLD!

Hope, inspiration and encouragement are contagious. When we receive those things with authenticity we can't help but pass it on! These are the people who never count someone a lost cause and move on, no. My tribe sends out a search and rescue party, NOT a search and destroy party!

What a contrast!

When we need a little help to see and believe in our potential again, I know who I can count on. The heart of our organization, our community, is best expressed by words I heard just last weekend at Convention and Wellness Retreat. Phrases (always accompanied by big bear hugs) of "SO glad you are here!", "you are right where you need to be!", I know what you are capable of, keep going!" and "We need you, we love you!"

I could say I have no words to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for my community. But, as you can see, I have MANY words!

But I'm not listening to YOUR words anymore."






Take Care of Your Body! Get Healthy! Help Others!

I just saw that Hacksaw Ridge hit HBO this week.
If you haven't seen the movie, it is epic.
When I saw this movie, and heard Isaiah 40:28-31 quoted in the opening scene, it impacted me greatly. This man stood on the strength of his convictions, with faith in God, and was a blessing to every man he saved that legendary day at Hacksaw Ridge. With every living soul he carried to safety, his concern was not for himself, and his prayer as he lowered each wounded soldier down the ridge and out of harms way, the only thing on his mind as he dashed back into the danger to find other wounded soldiers to try to save was this simple plea and prayer:
"Please Lord help me get one more."
Although I do not claim to be a hero in any sense, those words resonate deep in my soul. I believe passionately that my hubby and I have been tasked by God for the purpose of helping people change the trajectory of their lives, and the lives of their families and communities, by giving them the tools and the support for them to transform their health (one healthy habit at a time), and thereby their life, and to consider becoming a blessing to others as they "pay it forward" too.
Not everyone understands what we do or why we do it, and as a matter of fact I have had incredibly confusing conversations with a handful of fellow Christians who are convinced that maintaining their health and taking care of their bodies is in no way their responsibility, who view us as some type of "health, wealth and prosperity" peddlers who are attempting to circumvent God's will by giving people the hope that they can, in fact, extend both the years of their life AND the life in their years by changing their habits and making health a priority. This kind of reasoning (the reasoning that it is somehow against God's will to do what we can to live as long and fruitful a life on this earth as possible), if followed logically to its conclusion, would negate the need for surgeons, cancer treatment, organ donors, defibrillators, NICU's, emergency rooms, blood banks, firefighters, paramedics, guard rails, life-jackets, you get my drift, right?
So why draw the line at us taking personal responsibility for our health and say that somehow it's not "Godly" to seek to take care of ourselves and reverse or prevent chronic illness? The evidence is overwhelming that it can be done, the evidence is overwhelming that we can, by changing our habits from UNhealthy habits to HEALTHY habits, have the potential to extend our lifespan on this earth, beyond what it "would have been" had we continued in our unhealthy habits.
How is that an "un-Christian" attitude to take or desire to have? How can that possibly be defined or interpreted as attempting to somehow thwart God's sovereignty (which isn't even possible by any stretch of the imagination)? If, by adopting healthy habits I can increase my years beyond what they "would have been" had I stayed Class IV Super Obese, if I can seek to secure, by changing my habits and taking care of my body (which God tells us to do, by the way) more years on this earth to live out my purpose with passion, is that not something I should want? Is that not something I should seek? Is that not something I should share?
I'll bet the same people who have unfriended me on facebook (TRUTH!) over this brush their teeth every day! Why? What's the point of that (using the illogical reasoning)? Why are they seeking to extend the life of their teeth beyond what tooth decay due to negligence would allow for? Is THAT thwarting God's will for the life and usefulness and condition of their teeth? There are many analogies I could cite for this erroneous reasoning, but I think I've made my point.
It's safe to say I VEHEMENTLY disagree with that reasoning and rationale which claims it is "not our place" to seek to be good stewards of our lives and bodies, to seek to live out as many years as as we can on this earth, in these bodies. I believe God DOES want us to wake up out of our stupor and slumber, our desire for the "easy and comfortable" way. I also believe He would love for many of us in this country to stop committing slow suicide with our spoons and forks.
I believe I have an expiration date, yes (which my teeth will likely outlive LOL). And I believe only God knows what it is. But I won't hasten it with my negligence or my unwillingness to believe I have a responsibility to take care of this gift of a body the good Lord gave me to take care of. I am NOT at risk of overstaying my welcome here on earth, believe me. God is NOT up there saying "Well what are we going to do now, this one has gone and gotten healthy, we hadn't planned for that one, cue the lightning strike".
God was not witnessing the events playing out on Hacksaw Ridge and saying "No! Not that one! Put him back! Don't save HIM, Leave him there! It's actually his time to die!" God's will was accomplished that day, as it ALWAYS IS, and he USED this brave man to save many lives because He had the right man with the right heart in the right place at the right time. He had prepared that soldier HIS ENTIRE LIFE to do exactly what he did that day, and had given him the strength to do it. And that soldier's heart was to get out there and save as many lives as he was physically able to save. And his prayer was always "Please Lord help me get one more."
Here's the bottom line. I'm simply not concerned with what others may think of me. I'm on a mission to "get" as many people out of harms way as I can, because God IS concerned with every precious life, here, on this earth, and there is a lot more work to be done.
Therefore MY daily prayer is also "Please Lord help me get one more."
Here is a collection of some of the many verses in the Bible dealing with health, food, self-discipline and self-mastery, and I wanted to post them here.
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 1:2).
It is not "ungodly" to seek good health, and it fact it is desired! It is also a desire of God's that we ENJOY good health. This is not a substitute for soul-health, or wellness of soul, but goes hand in hand with it! Those who enjoy wellness of soul should seek to add good health and enjoy it!
“The LORD will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring” (Isaiah 58:11, NLT).
Wow! The Lord is interested in our health! He is interested in keeping us healthy! But He will not do this if we are not doing it. There is a "His part" and an "Our part". We can be assured of this! If we are not seeking to take care of ourselves, what is there for the Lord to add? He will not do it FOR us, but He will be the wind at our sails when we point our ship in the direction of health. That is OUR part.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
Um, ouch? When was the last time you heard a sermon from the pulpit about THIS verse? Did you READ that? If anyone destroys God's temple (if anyone seeks to harm their own body) God will DESTROY him too? WE are that temple? God views our body as SACRED and I don't think a lot of people these days understand that. Do WE view our bodies as sacred? Or just as a vehicle to carry around our souls? Just as the sacred TEMPLE of God in the Old Testament housed God's presence, so our body houses God's presence, along with ours! Yes, if you are a child of God, he lives IN you. Read up on the care and handling God instructed for the his temple! It was a chore! He even dedicated an entire TRIBE, the Leviticans, JUST for the purpose of keeping his Temple in pristine order. An entire TRIBE out of the TWELVE TRIBES! We have 24 hours in a day, is it too much to ask to take 2 hours out of our day in care and maintenance of the physical modern-day temple that is our bodies?
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Read above! Again, God wants us to honor HIM with our bodies. How are we doing that?
HEALTHY EATING
“Food does not bring us near to God” (1 Corinthians 8:8a).
And, yet, we turn TO food many times to provide comfort, security, carbohydrate "highs", companionship, how many things are we utilizing food for which it was NOT meant for? How might we turn our urges for unhealthy food in to promptings to draw near to God Himself? Makes you think!
“When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners: Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite” (Proverbs 23:1-3, MSG).
Wow, bridle your appetite. I have to bite my tongue when people tell me that "deprivation is bad, deprivation causes binging". No, your attitude towards "bridling your appetite" and denial of these urges is focused in the wrong direction. 
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Don't be anxious, even about FOOD!
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life” (Matthew 6:25-27).
I can't tell you how many times I have spoken to someone who says they want to get healthy, and the process which they will necessarily need to go through to attain health, and you can see the panic behind their eyes that their food choices while they are getting healthy may be limited. Such unnecessary worry! God tells us NOT to worry about it! EVER!
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way… ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (Daniel 1:8, 12,13,15).
Veggies and water! Who knew? 
“Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NLT).
Self-control is something to be learned, and mastered. We are to discipline our BODIES like an athlete, training it to do what it should! And, what a curious verse, is this verse actually saying that those who exhibit poor self-control and self-discipline are not fit to preach? Can of worms, folks, can of worms! Can you imagine walking up to your pastor at the end of a sermon and giving him this truth in love? Do you think he would listen? Are you qualified to point it out to him? Great questions!
“Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8, MSG).
Physical exercise is good for us! We are also to practice spiritual exercise! A disciplined life, in God makes us fit both TODAY AND FOREVER! 
IT TAKES DISCIPLINE TO BE HEALTHY
“‘Everything is permissible for me’ – but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’ – but I will not be mastered by anything… Therefore, Honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:12, 20b).
Avoid compulsions (including with food) of all kinds to honor God
“The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you’re lost for good” (Proverbs 10:17, MSG).
The road to life is a DISCIPLINED LIFE.
“He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment” (Proverbs 12:11).
Chasing dreams is of little value, absent WORK. A fantasy is something that will never come to pass, a dream written down is a goal, which, listed stepwise becomes a plan, which, taken action on becomes a reality. Work your land. Cultivate your harvest. Sow your seed for your next harvest. It is a continuous cycle with one thing in common: Work.
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).
Are we just talking or are we working hard?
“Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags” (Proverbs 23:20-21, MSG).
Don't eat too much food and get fat. This is pretty clear and doesn't need an explanation.
THE POWER OF SUPPORT AND COMMUNITY
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, and who you can encourage. "But I don't know anyone like that!" Tell me, are YOU someone like that? Or are we just interested in what we can GET from OTHERS, without GIVING support and encouragement ourselves? 
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV).
If we confess our struggles to each other and pray together we’ll heal and grow
HEALTHY LIVING BUILDS ON HEALTHY THINKING
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8, MSG).
Turn off the doom-and-gloomers, wherever they are found. They are of no value.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat” Matthew 5:6, MSG).
We need to feed our souls with God’s Word
“People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God” (Matthew 4:4b, NLT).
WE GROW IN HEALTHY LIVING ONE STEP AT A TIME
We all need patience. We may also need warning, encouragement, or tender care.
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NLT).
DON'T PRACTICE COMPARATIVE REALITY
“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else” (Galatians 6:4).
Positive change occurs best with slow, steady progress
“A bonanza at the beginning is no guarantee of blessing at the end” (Proverbs 20:21, MSG).

Thursday, June 8, 2017

One Decision or 47 Decisions? Which do you think is easier to make?

In this process of creating health in our lives, sometimes it seems like the decisions we need to make regarding what to eat, what not to eat, when to move, how much to move, etc are flying at us throughout the day at a rapid pace. As the day wears on, our will-power wears down.

Typically, by 3 or 4pm we are spent, tired, probably haven't had enough water in the last few hours, and may have consistently run a tad late on our fuelings feeling like we trying to catch up.

Am I right? Can you give me a thumbs up if you have ever felt that way? I know I have!

We dread the decisions that we know are COMING after 4pm, because we doubt our will-power or self-discipline can withstand what may unfold around dinner-time, or between dinner and bed!

Seems a hopeless scenario!

Or does it?

In my reading of Dr. A's Habits of Health chapters 3&4, I really take to heart what Dr. A says about making a quality decision, a fundamental decision, to be healthy. This, for me, is my "ONE DECISION" that trumps all other decisions at this point in my life, and offers guidance and a "roadmap" to all of the other decisions I make during my day.

There have been times on my journey where the decisions seem to be TOO MANY, and the odds of me making a healthy one 100% of the time would dwindle as the day wore on.

But, I have discovered a key concept that has made a world of difference for me. I can now finally put it into words, and make it practical advice to share with you all! I used to simply say "Just make a fundamental decision for health, and the rest will take care of itself", because if we have a strong WHY the HOW seems more effortless provided we have the right tools and support.

What I have found, however, is that even in my own life while this sounded like a great concept and made sense, I was having some difficulty making it my own, because there were simply TOO MANY DECISIONS TO BE MADE IN A DAY!

Or so I thought.

Over the last few days I have learned something about myself, and I hope my sharing it will help you with some valuable things to consider. I'll give you the scenario, the "story" of what happened, and how I was able to now crystallize this concept in my own brain and put it into practice, truly.

So, yesterday, I planned on going for a swim. I'm at the point again where adding habits of healthy motion makes sense and works FOR me (not against me) in where I'm at with my health goals. I made a secondary decision to promote my primary decision. Dr. A talks about primary and secondary decisions in Chapters 3 and 4 of his book, so if you haven't read those yet (or it's been awhile) I highly recommend reading or re-reading those two chapters this week!

My primary goal is that I have made a fundamental decision to attain optimal health and then maximize health for my age in order to have the potential to live a longer, healthier life. That is my "Big Picture, Long-Term" decision and goal.

Secondary decisions are decisions we make in the framework of the primary decision, which support the primary decision. Up until yesterday, I thought I was making 47 secondary decisions every day in terms of encountering options (eating, drinking and moving), evaluating them in the context of my primary decision, and choosing (47 times per day) that which would support that primary decision.

Man, was this tiring! The mental exercise of going through the "stop, challenge, choose", as hard-wired as it is in my brain, still takes effort. Additionally, every time I would say "yes" to the healthy decision I was saying "no" to the unhealthy one, and after 47 times it can begin to feel like a deprivation and a struggle. As the day wears on, if we are relying on willpower and not skillpower, these decisions and options become more tenuous, feelings and emotion (or exhaustion coming from thinking and analyzing too much) enter into play, and it can feel like an uphill battle.

So, back to yesterday and my epiphany...

Yesterday I decided I was going to go for a swim, because a couple of weeks ago I made a "swim chart" and planned that I would begin to swim 5 days a week, upping my distance until I was swimming 1 mile per day (5 days a week), and that would be the healthy motion habit I was going to foster and develop for the remainder of my "step 2-getting to a healthy weight".

Because Dave had been out of the country from Monday morning to Wednesday around noon, and I was caring (and still am) for my little man who is battling a NEW respiratory infection (on top of the FIRST respiratory infection/virus he had been battling for the 4 weeks prior and was JUST beginning to recover from when he got the new one this last weekend), I had not had the opportunity to swim on Monday or Tuesday, so that left me no option except to swim daily from Wednesday-Sunday in order to get my 5 swims in for the week. So, that had been decided, I WAS going for a swim yesterday and had planned and prepared to do so.

As yesterday unfolded, and situations presented themselves which required my immediate attention, I began to delay my departure for the gym. Obstacles were arising that could not be avoided, external factors were making demands on my time and I say that not in a way that I was resenting them, in fact quite the opposite, I love our life and I love what Dave and I do for a living, and I thrive on every aspect of it. As my day progressed, the thought of swimming was still present, yet delayed, and I never waivered on the expectation that I WOULD be going swimming SOMETIME before midnight.

In other words, I didn't "re-visit" my initial decision or "check on it" or "consult my feelings" or "put my finger in the air to see if my external situation was still just right in order to go". None of those things mattered. I didn't re-evaluate the decision I had made, I simply took it as a fact and moved forward accordingly.

This reduced my decisions to ONE from 47. I had made the decision in the morning that yesterday would be a swimming day. Period. No more mental energy was expended on any other decisions that had to do with my healthy habit of motion.

Now, not all of my obstacles were necessary, I created one or two of them myself. For example, I had received my waterproof Ipod (how cool is that?????) the day before, and I had planned on using it for the first time yesterday, but in order to do that I had to actually download some songs onto it, and I did not start that process until about 8:00, thinking that it would only take me a few minutes to transfer one hour's-worth of music from my I-tunes Library to my Ipod Shuffle. I also needed to go pick up some guifinosen tablets (cough medicine) for my son so he could have some before he went to bed. Both CVS and the pool at LA Fitness closed at 10:00 pm, and I was going to go to CVS after setting up my Ipod, grab the meds, come home, grab my gym bag, and get to the pool at my LA Fitness to swim my mile (takes me about 50 minutes to swim a mile). All would be done by 10:00 pm and I'd be home by 10:15 in time to get a good night's sleep!

Or so I thought.

That is not how the night unfolded.

At 8:01pm I attempted to transfer the first song from my library to my shuffle. I won't go into all the details here, but suffice it to say that the process of transferring songs to my shuffle did NOT go as planned. Somehow I had managed to lose access to my 2,340 songs on my library because the "file could not be found" and Dave and I went into trouble-shoot mode to figure out what was happening.

After arguing with my computer, it winning, me adjusting, finding our storage chip in a drawer somewhere with the I-tunes Library which was under a PREVIOUS Apple ID and therefore not available under my NEW Apple ID to be accessed, recovering and resetting the password to the previous Apple ID, deauthorizing the 5 computers that previous apple ID was authorized for then re-authorizing the computer I was working from, I SUCCESSFULLY TRANSFERRED ONE SONG TO MY SHUFFLE! That process took about 3 hours.

It was now 11:00, and our back-up plan on the cough medicine was to go to the 24-hour CVS that is farther away from our house. The pool at my LA Fitness was closed, but the back-up plan to that was to go to the 24-hour LA Fitness, again, farther from my house.

Had I viewed each of these obstacles yesterday as a new decision I had to make of whether to get my swim in or not, I would have thrown the towel in at 8:02pm, gone to our regular CVS, got Julian's meds, come home and gone to bed.

I will say I was stubborn, though, because I had my heart SET on trying my new Ipod for yesterday's swim I was not satisfied to drop that process of transferring songs and swim without it. It would not have felt right LOL. I would have hated every minute of it, because I EXPECTED to swim WITH it. Every lap would have been a reminder of DEPRIVATION.

OK, so I still would have done it if we hadn't been able to get it to work, but I KNEW we could get it to work...eventually!

So, by 11:15 I had transferred plenty of songs to my IPOD, and just for fun and because I know you are SO curious as to what was on my playlist, here is a list of the bands:

Imagine Dragons
U2
Switchfoot
Dido
Eve6
The Corrs
Black Eyed Peas
Ed Sheeran
My Chemical Romance
All American Rejects
One Republic
O.A.R.
The Cranberries
Def Leppard
Riptide
Coldplay
OMD
American Authors
New Order
Bastille
Chumba Wumba 
Talking Heads
Cars
The Proclaimers
Icicle Works 
Jimmy Eat World 
Maroon 5
T'Pau
Five for Fighting 
Rush
Milky Chance
Nelson

I set out for the 24-hour CVS at 11:20, got the cough medicine, and returned at 11:50pm. Julian got his meds, I grabbed my gym bag and was in the car and rolling by 11:57pm. By the time I got to the 24-hour LA Fitness, checked in, and situated myself at the pool for the swim, it was about 12:45 am.

Then the last obstacle hit. The water was cold. I hate cold water.

When I say I hate cold water, I mean I HATE COLD WATER. There is something about getting into a pool that is too cold which, for me, is a deal-killer every time. Except for last night.

Why? Why was it not a deal-killer last night? I mean, really, had I decided to consult my brain and think of the pro's and con's of getting in or not, if I had tried to muster up the will-power (or skill-power) to rationally MAKE YET ANOTHER DECISION as regards my health, I would have decided, I just know it, to march myself right back to the locker room, grab my keys, and go home. Because really, who swims a mile in cold water at 1:00 in the morning? Is that even healthy? What about my healthy habit of sleep that I would have to sacrifice? Is sleep more important or is swimming more important? Did I want to wreck myself for the next day? Am I going crazy? LOL.

It wasn't a deal-killer last night because I did not view it as a new decision to be made. It was not decision 48 of the day. It was simply ACTION resulting from decision #1 I had already dealt with, made, and signed on to that morning.

Had it been decision 48 it would not have played out the way it did.

So what is my point to this narrative?

My point is that we truly only need to make ONE decision every morning, a secondary decision of doing what it takes TODAY to support our PRIMARY decision we made at the beginning of our health journey, that decision to attain optimal health. That's it. And making that ONE secondary decision every morning sets into ACTION what we DO for the rest of the day.

Our day doesn't have to be spent making 47 other decisions. Our day is freed up to live our lives, love our loves, while we ACT in accordance to our ONE decision we made that morning. It doesn't have to be exhausting, we don't have to worry about what we may or may not "decide" at 4:05pm when we are tired, frustrated, or emotionally and physically drained. Any variables that come up during our day, planned or unplanned, do not change the CONSTANT that we decided that morning.

Does this make any sense? I hope it does! It made sense to me when I thought of it while sitting at the edge of the pool on a Facebook Live video reaching out for moral support to just get in that pool and go. Had no one been on the other end of that video I would have still gotten in and swam my mile, but it WAS much more fun to have some thumbs up and hearts and to share a little of my real-time journey to whomever may have been up and interested at 12:45 am this morning. 

And I swam. I actually swam 40 laps because I was having so much fun, and loved every single song on my playlist. 

So where do you go from here? Well, if you haven't made the fundamental and quality decision to create optimal health in your life, do it.

If you have made that decision but find yourself wavering every evening, or even morning, seemingly unable to "stay on program" then examine how many decisions you think you are ACTUALLY making every day? Do you view that decision at 10:00 am to go ahead and have one of the Krispy Kreme's that so-and-so brought "unexpectedly" to the office as a BRAND NEW DECISION that you are making, the 10th decision you have had to make that day regarding how you will conduct yourself? 

Or do you make ONE decision in the morning that TODAY you will do what it takes to behave as a healthy person would behave, then go about the rest of your day in action based on that one decision?

Rinse and Repeat!