Thursday, June 14, 2012

Learning to PowerLife: Physical Springboard

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With the admirable efforts of the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and reality television programs such as The Biggest Loser, the fact that Americans are suffering from illnesses that are directly connected to obesity is more visible. In addition, we have become more aware of the emotional and physical struggles that overweight people experience in their lives. This is important for two main reasons
  1. Messages of wellness and the importance of exercise coming from our leadership inspires us all to set goals. 
  2. Watching the struggles of The Biggest Loser contestants from week to week highlights the fact that we do not gain or lose weight in a vacuum.
Consider this: How often have you set a goal for yourself, made a promise to someone, or just tried to turn things around in your life? How often did you keep going until you succeeded in obtaining your goal, keeping your promise, or turning things around? What worked for you? Now, consider this: How often did you stop before you succeeded? What did not work for you? 

There are times when we succeed, and there are times when we stop. Living your PowerLife means understanding some of the reasons why you succeed and why you do not. I will share some things about myself as examples for this.

There was a time in my life when I drank far too much alcohol. I drank when I was happy and sad. When I was bored, I drank. I drank alone and with friends. At one point, I drank every night and fell into a drug induced stupor that I called sleep. Then one of those nights of too much drinking while I was driving home, yes driving, I started seeing double. 

That's right. Before my drunken eyes, the two white lines that were marking my driving lane suddenly turned into four, and I had no idea which two were real and which were not. With the protection of God and my angels, I was able to make it home without hurting myself or someone else. That was the same night I promised to stop drinking. I promised that I would live my life without alcohol, and proceeded to search for the discipline to fulfill my promise.Ten years later, I was still drinking.

Another time in my life I smoked cigarettes. At my highest, I smoked one pack a day. Salem Menthol was my choice. When I could no longer fool myself about how harmful cigarettes were in general, I played a head game and switched to Salem Menthol Lights. Somehow the added word of Lights helped me shoot myself a line of bull about what I was doing to my body. 

Then one day I had a scary sign that I could not ignore. I was sitting cross-legged in a chair with my feet under me and I noticed that my upper body was slightly rocking, front to back, without me doing anything. This had never happened to me before, so I got curious about what was going on. My medical background kicked in and I realized that my body rocked in time with my heartbeat. That was some scary s#*t! 

I had just finished one of my many cigarettes and realized that the blood pressure in my aorta (the largest artery in the human body) must have been high enough to move my body forward slightly with each heartbeat. This time, I did not make a promise to stop--too scared, I guess--I stopped. The pack I had at the time was my last. I threw it into the trash. To this day, I have yet to smoke another cigarette. That was 30 years ago. 

So what made the difference? Why was I unable to keep my promise to stop drinking but able to stop smoking? Experts say that quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things to do. Yet, I stopped without meetings, counseling, or patches. At the same time, I did not stop drinking and the difference can be summed in one word: connection. With alcohol, I just focused on stopping without facing the reasons why I drank too much. With cigarettes, I took the time to examine why they were so important in my life.

Have you ever tried to get rid of something by focusing on what you want to eliminate? I have. I tried focusing on taking alcohol out of my life and all I could see was scotch, beer, wine,... You try this with a simple task now. Turn your phone off, if you can, for one hour. Whatever happens, DO NOT turn your phone back on. 

I will bet that the minute you turn your phone off you will become distracted with thoughts about what calls/texts you might miss, or what emails you will have waiting for you in an hour. You will probably think about your phone even more that you do when it is on. This is what happened with my promise, and I stopped before I reached my goal. I stopped because I was not connecting when I drank and why I drank to what I needed to do to heal.

By the time I realized that I needed to quit cigarettes, I understood the importance of making connections. As I worked to obtain my goal to stop smoking, there were times when I wanted a cigarette more than I could say. There were also times when I reached for one from habit. During these times, I had to consciously think about what I was doing and why. 

I had to explore why I smoked. I had to take into consideration the fact that I was harming my body. Each day I made the choice not to smoke. My choice was supported both physically, as I looked for and found different things to do with the time that I spent smoking, as well as mentally during meditation exercises where I explored my reasons for smoking in the first place.

In the Living Powerlife Springboard--Spiritual post, you were introduced to the disciplines of meditation and keeping a dream log. If you have not had a chance to read this post, I encourage you to do so to begin your comprehensive approach to living a fuller, happier, and healthier life. What you learn about yourself through meditation and your dreams will help to support your work as you change whatever living habits are getting in your way. In other words, meditation and dream logs will help you make the connections that you need to ensure that you do not stop before you succeed.

Your physical springboard needs to include food, exercise, massage, hydration, and rest. This post begins with food. Start a simple list of what you eat over the course of one week. Do not make judgments about, or allow anyone else to judge, what you eat. Write down everything that you eat and drink including water. For each thing that you eat or drink, answer these questions:

  1. How were you feeling before you ate/drank?
  2. Who, if anyone, was with you?
  3. When was the first time you remember eating/drinking this in your life-time? 
  4. What was going on around you?
  5. Where were you when you first wanted to eat/drink that day?
  6. How did you feel after you ate/drank.
  7. How much/many did you eat/drink?
  8. What did you eat/drink?
  9. Where did you eat/drink (if this place is different from where you first wanted)?
This  may seem like a lot, but the information will be very useful during meditation and as you consider which foods are best for your body and which are not.

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From my PowerLife to Yours,


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