Category Archives: Quotes

Joy's Thief

They say that comparison is the thief of joy.  I am finding this to be soundly true these days.

So, I turned 40 a few weeks ago and as a vacation/birthday present/way to celebrate all things Fermented being done and out there, Dude and I went to Prague in the Czech Republic.  Simply put, it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  Positively gorgeous!  So much so that it seemed fake.  You know like that Disney-fake or Las Vegas-fake where everything is just a little too staged and perfect and pretty?  Well, Prague is the real deal.  My puny iPhone photos cannot even come close to doing it justice.

prague 1

I didn’t think it to be true, but I guess when you turn 40, you get a little introspective.  I thought I’d burst into my new decade with gusto!  Nope. I’m being a little more measured about my enthusiasm and consciously or unconsciously, I am finding myself taking stock of where I am in my life – what I’ve done, what I want to do, where I’m going, where I’ve been. All that.

prague 2

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

I’m should-ing all over myself. 

This is anything but a complaint, but it’s hard to be around people who do things so well.

I have friends and friends and friends and friends (and tons more!) who are great at what they do.  These people are fabulous cooks, health pioneers, photographers, bloggers, writers, and entrepreneurs who are actively doing things that change people’s lives.  And they’re doing it beautifully – both aesthetically and metaphorically speaking.

I am also friends with and associated with a really terrific group of people who, locally speaking, are performing very well in the gym or on the roads.

I am very very honored to be a part of a community of people who are on the cutting edge of interesting things.

Plus, my husband is a genius (literally) who is very accomplished at his job and loves it.

This is my way of saying that I feel the pressure to live up to the company I keep.  Don’t get me wrong, THIS IS DEFINITELY A GOOD THING.  That deserves all caps. I am not complaining that I exist in a circle of people who are smart, accomplished, beautiful, trendsetters.  It’s just that I haven’t exactly found my place amongst them yet.

I am finding it very difficult to reconcile who I am as a private person with who I am as a professional/athlete/friend.  I look at what these people are doing around me and I tell myself, “You SHOULD be doing that.”

You should be posting on your blog more.
You should be doing more fermenting.
You should be better at social media.
You should be taking better photographs.
You should post more recipes.
You should be out there winning your age group in all these races you run.
You should be deadlifting 225 pounds.
You should be on the New York Times bestsellers list.
You should be faster/stronger/smarter/(insert anything here).
You should be holding webinars.
You should be giving lectures.
You should be selling more books.
You should __________.

I’m not doing myself any favors.  In fact, the result of this rampant “should-ing” has been me pretty much dropping off the face of the Internet for a few weeks.  I did it to myself.  I have been comparing myself to those around me and it’s only made me upset with who I am.  It’s taken away from the joy I feel with who I’ve become, what I can do, what I’ve already accomplished, and my potential to do more.

So yeah, comparison IS the thief of joy.

I’ve lost the joy I feel when I am doing MY thing – health coaching, talking food, posting stuff here, interacting with you guys on Facebook and Instagram – because I’ve been preoccupied with comparing my success to others.

I’ve lost the joy to go out and run because I’m too busy telling myself that I should be faster like all those people I see in my running club.

I’ve become disinterested in CrossFit because I can’t walk on my hands across the gym and I can’t lift as much as the other (younger!) people there.

And now I’m a bit mad at myself for letting this sense of competition get in the way of my own happiness.  That’s not what life is about.  That’s not what I’M about.

So the should-ing stops today.  I’m going to do what I want to do, in my fashion, at my speed, at my weight.

I’ll be seeing you here on the blog and around my various social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram [my fave!], Twitter, Pinterest) but it will be at my speed and in my style.  I hope that works for you too.

prague 3(Here I am – 40 years old.)

Simplify

There was a time in my life when I had a full-time job, I was going to school to work on my second degree, I was commuting over an hour (one way) to school, I was a newlywed, and I was maintaining and partially remodeling a big old suburban four-bedroom house with a big yard.  I wanted all of those things at the time, but honestly it was miserable.  I hated the days when I’d wake up knowing that it would be 18 hours until I got back into the bed again.  I was tired all the time and unhappy most of the time.  Dude was very unhappy with is job and eventually landed a new position that was in the city and had him commuting over an hour each way too.  He traded an unhappy position for another and added rush hour to it too.

Thankfully we have a low tolerance for stuff like that because Dude and I decided that being grumpy for most of the day wasn’t how we wanted things to go.  So we decided to simplify.  I had saved enough to quit my job and devote all my time to school, we sold almost all of our furniture and sold the house to move into a much much smaller place (one bedroom, one bathroom condo in the city), we sold one car, and divested ourselves of all the STUFF that was causing us to be grumpy, unpleasant, workaholics.  Dude looked for a new job (again!) while I finished my degree.  We basically went from living a complicated existence of juggling schedules, DIY projects, school, distasteful jobs, driving all the time, and spending the money we were earning on stuff we didn’t need or want to owning only what we truly needed and doing what we truly wanted to do.  Ahhhh!

Now, I realize that our story is a bit extreme and it wasn’t as simple as selling everything and moving.  Not everything fell into place as easily as it may seem in two short paragraphs, but after about 18 months of transition and making choices that would bring us closer to our more simple life, we were settled.  Everything changed for us. We were happy, fun-loving people again!  Our marriage became stronger, we started working out and eating right, we saved more money, and spent more time together.

I also realize that not everyone can take such drastic steps — selling most of your personal belongings was very hard to do and I know that it is not a possible scenario for everyone.  But the take-away message here is shedding away all the unnecessary stuff (whether it’s literally belongings and possessions or other, intangible static) can change your life for the better.

So, I invite you to examine the literal and figurative clutter in your life.  What is weighing you down?  What makes you unhappy on a regular basis?  What is the one thing you can do today to simplify your life?  A total life overhaul might not be what you need or might not be what you can do right now, but working on eliminating the small things that unnecessarily complicate your life will make a huge difference.

Here are a few things you can do to simplify:

  • Clean up and get it out. Choose 10 songs that you love and really get you going.  Play those 10 songs on your iPod, stereo, whatever.  While those 10 songs are playing devote that time to cleaning out a closet/drawer/room/desk.  Get rid of clutter.  Throw things away.  Donate things that are still usable but don’t have a place in your life or your home.  Enjoy your favorite music and take some steps towards completing a chore that you’ve probably been putting off.  Do this as often as you can until you’ve purged your whole house.
  • Say no.  We all want to be superheroes to our family, kids, friends, co-workers, superiors.  But if your resources are spread too thin, you’re not useful to anyone.  Take unnecessary obligation out of your life.  Focus on doing a few things well.  Devote yourself to doing what you love.  Say no to things that you don’t really want to do.
  • Stop spending your time and effort on negative people.  Having someone in your life who drags your mood down, complains all the time, puts you down, and hates everything is not accomplishing anything but making you that way too.  The people in your life should help you, not bring you down or make you feel bad about yourself.  Surround yourself with those with the same goals, the same attitude, and the same way of thinking.
  • Be present and grateful.  The past is the past and we can only do so much to prepare for the future.  Enjoy this day.  Enjoy what you have and be thankful that you have it.  Appreciating what is going on today can make yesterday seem so far away and tomorrow not so bad.
  • Treat your body well.  Taking the time to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep is like putting money in a savings account.  It seems like you’re just doing something small and meaningless each time you deposit those pennies, but the interest accrues and compounds.  It’s the same with treating your body well.  Choosing to do what’s best for yourself might not seem like a grand effort at the time, but the cumulative effect will be so enormous and have such a grand impact on your overall life.  You cannot be productive if you’re not fueled and rested properly.
  • Don’t live outside your means.  I saw a poster recently that said, “Too many people spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t know.”  Is this true for you?  Before you buy anything, ask yourself if you really need it.  Ask yourself how this item will enrich your life.  Ask how this item will simplify your life.

What tips can you add to this list?  What is going to be the first thing you do to simplify?  What have you already done to make your life easier and how did your life change?  Share with me in the comments or on Facebook.

For My Aunt

I don’t tend to write about very personal things here on my site, but I wanted to share something that is happening that other people might be able to relate to.

In the past couple of weeks my family has been going through a lot.  My aunt, my mom’s sister, was having some minor medical issues that we all thought were no big deal and could be taken care of easily and quickly.  Long story short, it turns out she has a very aggressive and fast moving breast cancer that has already spread to her bones.

As one can imagine, this is not news that was expected and so it has been quite a shock to hear.  Each phone call seemingly worse than the previous one, like little bombs being dropped.   And never mind how we feel, my aunt is now facing chemotherapy, medical test after medical test, and sad to say, her own mortality.

She and I have spoken on the phone a few times and she’s scared.  We’re all scared.  But something that we talked a little about is the quote above.  What you think upon grows.  I’m not even sure who said it, but gosh darn it if it isn’t true.

So far in the process of her kicking cancer’s ass she’s been so incredibly strong and brave.  I can’t help but to wonder if I could have her style of courage if I were in a similar situation.  Like I said above, she’s certainly frightened of what the future holds, but seems to have the kind of positivity and hope that can only help her endure what is to come.

What she thinks upon grows.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with my aunt, but something I am sure of is that staying positive and hopeful is going to be a big powerful weapon in her cancer fighting arsenal.  I also know that as her family and loving support system we are rallying around with positivity, love, and light.

What we think upon grows.

I just wanted to put this out there, because while thankfully not all of us are facing a difficult diagnosis like cancer, we ALL have something happening that can use a wash of positivity and hope.  What you think upon grows.  To have more good things in life, you must cultivate the positive.

I’d love to hear about how you have seen this work in your life.  How have you seen your thoughts turn into a growing phenomenon?  Share with me in the comments or on Facebook.

I love you, Peg!  You can do this!!!

What Will It Take?

When I’m in social situations with people I’ve just met, I inevitably get asked, “So what do you do?”  When I tell people I’m a holistic health coach that usually inspires more than a few questions.  What does that mean? What do you actually do? Why did you go into this?  I love talking about my job, so it’s always a pleasure.

But something that many people have said to me has me thinking.  When I say that many of my clients are trying to lose weight and learn to eat right nearly everyone says something to the effect of, “Oh! I need you!” or “I could use some help with that!”  I’m always happy to answer questions and talk casually about health and wellness, but I can’t help but wonder why so many people say this.

Sure, we have an obesity epidemic in this country.  I know that regardless of actual weight or body composition, nearly a third of American women are currently “on a diet”.  I am not wondering about what the motivation is for saying these things, I’m wondering why there are so many people who do.  Why do so many people say they want to be healthier, but the statistics show that most people aren’t actually achieving it?

My question is this: Where is your tipping point?

The tagline at the top of every page on this website, on my business cards, and on my t-shirts is “Make the choice to make a change”. I love that because to live a healthy lifestyle, to be well, to feel good inside and out, to get fit requires making daily – maybe even hourly – choices to change what you were doing to something else that will take you closer to your goal.  One has to consciously choose to change habits and mindset.

I find that when I’m talking to people, whether I’m in the aforementioned social situation or chatting with prospective clients, nearly everyone wants the final result – weight loss, increased energy, improved overall health, a greater feeling of contentment and happiness, self-acceptance, etc., but few are actively in pursuit of these things.  What is it going to take to inspire change?

I heard someone say one time that most people are miserable with their own state of being, but not miserable enough to do anything about it.  If this is true, just how much misery, or even discomfort or dissatisfaction, are YOU willing to put up with in your own life before you decide to make changes?  Why is it human nature to wait until we’ve reached the point of misery before we do something?

In working with my clients I have found that nearly every one of them has reached a point where they can’t stand “X” anymore.  Everyone’s “X” has been different – weight, various health problems, etc. I always ask why they waited so long to call me.  Why did they put up with this issue for as long as they did when they could have sought relief months or years before?

I know that everyone has his or her own tipping point, that instant when feeling bad just got unbearable and the prospect of making changes seemed less uncomfortable or unbearable than enduring one’s own X factor any longer.  I am just urging you to reassess where that tipping point is.  Nobody has to put up with negative feelings and physical discomfort when there are ways to change the situation.

So, I’m asking you to give these questions some thought.  Write your answers down on a piece of paper with the date at the top so you can see your responses and use them at a later date for inspiration to change your circumstance.

  • What do I want to change about my life?
  • What are the things or forces in my current circumstance that make me unhappy?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being mildly disgruntled and 10 being abject misery), how badly do I feel about these things?
  • How many things did you rank with 5 or more?
  • What are the factors in my current life situation that are keeping me from making changes towards a healthier lifestyle?
  • Among the factors listed above, which are out of my control to change?
  • Among the factors listed above, which are within my control to change?
  • What can I do today to make one simple change towards a healthier lifestyle?
  • Do I need help with making changes in my life?
  • What resources do I have available to me that can help me change things that make me unhappy?

Writing these responses down isn’t just meaningless busywork.  I’m asking you to give these ten questions some serious thought and meditation.  Take a few hours or days to think about each answer.  Hopefully after careful reflection you’ll start to see very clearly all of the forces and circumstances that are keeping you from feeling healthy, strong, capable, and looking your best.

If you find the above exercise to be difficult to complete, give yourself time to truly be honest about the responses.  Shining a light on what makes you sad can be a uncomfortable or even painful prospect.  Don’t rush.

Contact me if you feel you’re stuck or want someone to who will listen to your responses without judgement.

We all possess the power to change our circumstances for the better.  Waiting until you can’t stand the negativity anymore before you enact change doesn’t have to be an option.

Make the choice to make a change.

The Cryptic Prescription of Exercise

 

The last few weeks I have been writing a lot about food and food-related issues, but I don’t want anyone to think that movement and exercise is any less important in your own personal equation of health and wellness.  So, let’s hear about exercise, shall we?

Are you doing it?  You are, right?

If you want to simplify the issue, it’s enough to say you have to exercise regularly.  But nothing is ever that simple and exercise certainly is a very complicated enterprise.  Open your Internet browser and surf around for five minutes, or open a newspaper, turn on the TV, pick up a magazine, and you’ll likely find an overwhelming amount of (often conflicting) information about exercise.  How to do it, when to do it, where to do it, what works and what doesn’t.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to exercise.  There are volumes written on what is the “best” workout and why.

I recently came across a blog post written by a woman named Julie Foucher.  She is a medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and she is also a competitive CrossFitter coming in fifth overall in last year’s CrossFit Games.  She knows the human body, to say the least.  Anyway, I thought that this blog post from last week was so fascinating and telling.  In it (and I strongly encourage you to read it as well as the resulting comments), she basically says that doctors are very free and easy about handing down the “prescription” of exercise to patients, but pretty much leave them in the dark from there.  She makes an excellent point that if she had strep throat there is no way her physician would make a casual recommendation about what medication to take and then leave it to her to figure out dosage.  S/He would be very specific about what medication to take, when, how much, etc.  Her point is that we seem to be pretty much on our own when it comes to figuring out what to do for ourselves as far as exercise and even our doctors, who we hope are the most educated guides we have as far as our health goes, aren’t much help.

So, it isn’t enough to think to yourself or to hear from a doctor, health coach, or blurb in the media that you must “exercise”.  What the heck does that even mean?  What is the exact prescription, dosage, and timing for effective exercise?

It means something different to everyone and it’s up to you to figure out how you can best serve your body through exercise.  Luckily, there are many helpful hints and sources to help you.  Here are a few to consider:

  • Think about what you like — I know someone will read this and laugh because he/she doesn’t like anything about exercise.  I’m not even going to entertain this kind of thinking because we’ve already established that it’s necessary and non-negotiable.  I’m talking about giving some serious thought to what you can see yourself doing repeatedly and getting a modicum of enjoyment out of.  Or if it helps you to think the other way, rule out what you definitely do NOT want to do.  For me, this is easy.  I do not at all like to dance and so workouts like hip-hop dance classes, Zumba, pole dancing, and all of its cousin workouts are all out.
  • Figure out what time of day works for you — Sometimes figuring out when you can schedule exercise will determine what will work for you.  I met a woman at a holiday party last month who said that in order to fit a workout into her life she had to find a class that she could attend before her kids woke up for the day.  She also wanted something tough and no-nonsense.  She found a early morning boot camp that fit the bill and she’s a regular.
  • Decide if you want to workout alone or with others — Personally I love group fitness classes because I know enough about myself to know that I need a social reason to go.  If I know I’ll see my friends and they’re expecting me to show up, I’ll be even more likely to go.  Some people I know would rather workout alone without the added social element.  The important thing is to know what will work for you.
  • Know your level of ability — This is very important. You won’t be doing yourself any favors if you jump right into an advanced class or if you set out to run a half marathon on your first day.  Find something that suits your current fitness level and build from there.  It is also wise to consult a doctor and a fitness professional about this too.
  • Consult a doctor and a personal trainer for help with any preexisting injuries — Have weak knees and a bad back?  Maybe joining that rugby team isn’t for you.  There are so many ways to get a workout and you’ll need to find one that doesn’t exacerbate any weaknesses or injuries you might already have.  You might want to relive your contact sports days, but if your body won’t allow it at the moment, it probably isn’t the best idea.
  • Consider cost — Between equipment, outfitting yourself, class fees, and gym memberships, exercise can get expensive.  But it doesn’t have to be.  There are many ways to get a workout and mind your budget.  Figure out what you can afford and plan accordingly.
  • Don’t limit yourself to one thing — I think it’s smart to start out with one form of exercise until you get into the habit of it, but don’t limit yourself to just one activity. In any given week I do some combination Pilates, yoga, CrossFit, and running and in a few weeks I’m adding Thai Kickboxing.  I do not do all of them in one week, but I find time for at least two of them to keep my workouts interesting.  You don’t have to commit to just one form of exercise, and there is evidence that you shouldn’t.   Find that you’re growing bored with one activity or your tastes change, try something new.  The important thing here is to keep moving.
  • Listen to your body and how it reacts to exercise — Is biking hurting your back?  Does tennis make your elbows ache just thinking about it?  Maybe your chosen activity (or activities) aren’t right for your body.  Pay attention to the messages your body sends to you about how it’s reacting to a particular movement.  It’s natural to experience muscle soreness and to be tired, but it can be dangerous to ignore pain and injury.  Do not hesitate to consult a doctor, trainer, or physical therapist for more information on your aches and pains.
  • Just do it — Isn’t that under some kind of copyright?  Probably, but it fits here, so I’m using it.  Do not get mired down in the details of what to do and when to do it and how to do it and why to do it and on and on and on.  Start somewhere and do something.  And once you’ve done it once, you’ll have to do it again and again.  You just have to do it.  Talk to your doctor about what he/she recommends.  Don’t accept the cryptic prescription of “exercise” and let that be the end of your conversation.  Ask questions about what would best suit you and why.

So let me know what you plan to do!  For those of you who are already active, what are you doing? Why do you love it and what keeps you going with it?  For those of you who haven’t started yet, what do you plan to do this week to begin exercising?  What are some ways to exercise you would consider?  Share with me in the comments!

It's a brand new year!

Hello everyone!  Welcome to 2012!

I trust everyone had a great holiday season, hopefully with those you love most in life. I know I did.  It has been a great 10 days of family, friends, sleeping in, and (yikes!) eating a lot of food.  Mostly good-for-me foods, but I admit to overindulging a bit.  I’m glad to say, however, that today I was back to the gym and back to making food choices that are right for me.

For my inaugural post for 2012 I wanted to share my thoughts on the most thrown around word this time of year – RESOLUTION.  Did you make a New Year’s resolution?  Are you resolution pro or con?  I’ve heard arguments on both sides of the issue – some saying that to make a bunch of heavy-handed rules only set one up to fail.  Others saying that it’s great to have something to work towards or a project to set your sights on.  Both valid points.  I, naturally, find my opinion falling squarely in the middle of the extremes.

I think that the start of a new year puts many of us in the mood to feel like we can start fresh.  It’s a blank page and we can write this year’s story any way we see fit.  It gives many of us an excuse to change things and take a look at where we are and where we want to go over the next 365.242199 days (I had to look that up. Ha!).  Should we have been eating and exercising and doing all these nice things all along?  Yes, of course.  But many of us didn’t and I don’t see anything wrong with using January 1 as an excuse to start.

On the other hand, I really do believe that there are too many people starting on a path with no direction, no concrete goals, or hopes that they’ll accomplish something that is either unreasonable or dangerous (I’m thinking weight loss here).  Often people burden themselves with lengthy, arbitrary, and oppressive lists of rules that even the most ardent dieter or fitness expert couldn’t (or shouldn’t) follow.  Sometimes people set themselves up for failure by making a really great resolution and then fail to make a plan for how to see it through.  All of these scenarios lead to disappointment and defeat, and I think this is why the very term “New Year’s Resolution” has a negative connotation. This is what gives resolution making a bad rap.

If you are the type to make resolutions, I say make them intelligently and deliberately.  Know yourself and what you need to succeed with your goal.  Are you the kind of person who tends to exercise more often when you have a friend to do it with?  Then maybe you and your friend ought to sign up for some fitness classes together.  Are you the kind of person who needs some accountability from someone about your eating habits?  Then maybe you need the services of a holistic health coach (ahem!). My point is that taking a long, hard look at the circumstances that help you succeed in anything and then applying them to your 2012 goals will carry you far in reaching them.

Ask yourself how you plan to reach this goal, and then write down an exact and detailed plan.  Don’t leave it to chance or whim that you’ll magically find the time to workout.  Schedule the time. Put it in your calendar.  Set aside specific dates and times and then stick to it.  You know when you’re getting your next haircut, so you ought to know when your next workout is.  Don’t think that some magical food elves will stock your fridge with healthy food.  Plan your meals and grocery shop on a scheduled date at a scheduled time.  PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!

Set your year-long goal, but set some intermediate goals that you want to have reached after a month’s time.  Want to run a marathon?  Why not set the goal to have a 5K under your belt by the end of January.  Parse your big goal into smaller mini goals to give yourself some victories early on in the year to keep yourself interested, motivated, and working towards your ultimate goal.

Don’t give up.  It’s almost become a trendy, funny thing to admit to in a group of people when talking about New Year’s resolutions, that last year you made a resolution to do XYZ and didn’t even make it to January 3 before you cheated/gave up/forgot/etc.  Hearing this doesn’t make me laugh or make me think the person saying it is clever.  It bums me out and makes me sad.  Sure, slip ups and out-and-out failures are going to happen, but giving up is a real shame.  It says that you don’t believe in yourself enough to keep trying.  DON’T GIVE UP!  There I go again with the all caps.  That’s how important this is.

So! I want to hear what your resolutions and goals are for this new year! Something that I find motivating is publicly announcing my goals and then using that motivation to reach them.  On Thursday I am going to share with you my fitness, food, professional, and personal goals and resolutions.  And then I’m going to check in with all of you in the first post of each month with how I’m doing.

Here’s the thing, though:  I don’t want to do this alone.  I want YOU to do it with me.  I would like you all to send me your goals/resolutions and I will share them here with the other readers – this can be anonymous or not.  Your choice.  I’ll email you at the end of each month and see how you’re doing and I’ll share each month’s progress here on the blog.

If you don’t want to be anonymous about it, tell me all about your 2012 goals in the comments or on my Facebook page.  If you do want to be anonymous, email me and I will hold your name in the strictest confidence.  We’ll come up with a saucy pseudonym for you and nobody will ever know your true identity when we do our monthly check in.

I’m looking for some interaction here, friends!  I want to provide as many people with a community of support as I can this year.  We can all meet our goals and have our resolutions last 12 months, and who DOESN’T want to be cheered for?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Commit to the effort

A few weeks ago I went to a family wedding and got into a conversation with one of my cousins, Mike, who is the director of a local YMCA.  He was sharing with me how their membership numbers go up and down depending on the time of year and we were talking about strategies to get people to commit to more regular exercise. He shared with me that while there are plenty of people who go to his Y very faithfully and exercise several times a week, there are plenty more who just show up to socialize with other members, or even worse, join and pay dues but never come back.

We came to a similar conclusion my friend Lynsey and I have come to very often, and it’s this: Sometimes the very fact that someone has joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, signed on with a health coach, bought a diet book, etc. is enough to assuage the guilt of not working out or eating right.  It’s the appearance of having a healthier lifestyle, and having all the accoutrements that go along with it that is enough to make someone think that he is doing all the right things.  I have a health coach/trainer/YMCA membership/read XYZ diet book/have an elliptical in my house/bought sassy workout clothes, so I must be healthy!

Of course in actuality it is what you DO with these things that really matters in the grand scope of health and wellness.

It got me thinking about work and effort and out of nowhere my dad sent me the quote I posted above.  Effort is only effort when it begins to hurt.  Now, by “hurt” I’m not talking about physical pain or agony.  But think about a time when you really feel like you expended effort on something – exercise or not.  It probably wasn’t easy.  It probably wasn’t pleasurable.  It probably wasn’t a party laugh a minute.  It got you out of your comfort zone, doing something you’ve never done before.  Perhaps you even broke a sweat.  It’s at that point, that very moment when a task went from being easy and fun to challenging and maybe even difficult, that’s the “hurt”.  Not pain, but friction, challenge, difficulty, hardship, work, exertion, effort, labor.  These are the very things that lead to improvement, accomplishment, triumph, victory, achievement, success, advancement, and growth.

The key though, is putting in the effort.

As we’re coming upon the most famous time of year for starting anew and refreshing our commitment to health, I just wanted to put out there that it’s the effort that matters, and the work that will lead to your goals being achieved.  The commitment to get healthier and joining the gym or hiring the trainer is just the first step and walking the walk is what will get you to the finish line.

Weekend Wisdom

We often hear about people who have God-given talent for something.  Most of the time it’s a singer, dancer, or an Olympian of some sort.  These are the types of people who have achieved greatness in their field because they started with some other-world-like gift that set them apart from the rest.  I’m thinking of Susan Boyle, the Scottish singer who was discovered on Britain’s Got Talent a few years back.  She was unemployed and singing in her church when she auditioned.  With little vocal training at all, she surprised the world with her beautiful voice, went on to be nominated for a Grammy and have a successful singing career.  Part of the reason her story is so sensational is because she was not a formally trained singer, having just had a few voice lessons.  She was born with that voice and it just came out that lovely because of her natural talent

Stories like this are the exception.  For the rest of us, whether it’s singing or something else, we have to struggle, fight, and earn our success.

An important aspect of my health coaching is goal setting, however even more important than setting the goals is mapping out how those goals will be achieved.  Part of that process is being able to accept that precious few of us are born with spectacular talents that make reaching our goals an easy process.  Along the way there are going to be rough days, difficulties to overcome, and yes even failures to be handled.

I think it’s essential to know that before starting off on a new endeavor, whether it’s eating more healthfully or incorporating exercise into your life (or hopefully both!) there will be hardships throughout the process.  It will be difficult to give up the foods that keep you from achieving your goals, and there will be workouts that will feel impossible to complete.  There will be days when you’ll be tired and angry and want to quit. Mentally preparing for these discouraging moments can make them easier to handle when they arrive.

So, here are the fact of the situation:  You have to work hard to achieve your goals.   Starting out is the hardest part.  You will have obstacles to overcome, and challenges to be bested.  No long term success is ever achieved without hardship.  But as you stay on the course to your goals, handling the difficulties as they come your way, these challenges will become fewer and fewer.

Don’t beat yourself up if you are not the running version of Susan Boyle, or the Susan Boyle of your kitchen.  We ALL stumble, we ALL face difficulty when starting anything new.  But I promise, with effort and time and determination, a healthy lifestyle will become second nature, and sometimes even feel easy to achieve.