We are already two days into the new year, and I’m finally finishing up the food collages for the last days of 2011. I plan to keep up with these daily food collages, as they definitely do keep me accountable and attentive to what I am eating. I strive for that kind of consciousness in every aspect of my life, though what I do and say and think are not so easily photographed. May we all increase our skills at consciousness witnessing and choosing how we live our lives in 2012!
My computer is back, but we’re setting it up with a new, larger hard drive – which means installing everything from scratch. Some of it is just time-consuming, other parts require the assistance of my in-home tech service – my husband, Rene’. He has his own deadlines to deal with, so I am in waiting mode on my process of completely transferring my work back to my own computer. Not that there isn’t plenty to do, around the house, and even on the computer (as fragmented as that process is right now, spread over three computers!) but I am certainly confronted with my own impatience in the process!
It reminds me of what happens when I move – I feel compelled to unpack everything and get it all set up right away. Forget about sleep or anything else – I want my things to be accessible and my space to be organized asap. Even my experience of developing tennis elbow after a full night of putting books on shelves (I have a lot of books) has not dampened the inner pressure I feel until I am set up and settled in.
Ah, well. Another opportunity to observe my reactions and practice calming and soothing myself.
You may have been motivated to eat healthier and exercise because you want to be “thin” – there are certainly plenty of messages all around us telling us that we must look a certain way to (fill in the blank with whatever your goals in life are – to love and be loved, to have the career you want, to be seen and appreciated by others, etc.) You might start thinking of your fitness program – and all you do to feel better, healthier, stronger – as your path to feeling good in the world and just stop thinking about “thin” at all. It’s not really the point is it? The point is about living your life fully day-to-day, in each moment. There is no reason to wait for that. You can start right now, on your next breath. And it doesn’t have to be all at once, just take the next step that is there before you. All you have to do is keep making the choice to do what feels like it takes you closer to who you really are – and I don’t mean the “thin” you, I mean the you who was waiting to be thin to come out!
There are many stages of awareness and understanding of how to eat healthfully (not to mention a variety of ideas about what that means!), but once we have chosen a path towards supportive eating, there is still the issue of actually making the right choices in the moment.
The first step to shifting a habit of eating foods that we know are not supportive to fitness and health is to recognize what is happening when we veer away from making the choices we had planned. The key is to gather enough consciousness in that moment of choice-making to stop, and have planned in advance some activity or something you can say to yourself to remind you that you have a choice here. When you notice yourself falling into whatever it is that sidetracks you (anger, loneliness, impatience, etc.), you might say “Oh, yes, here I am again at that point where I could start to go wrong. Let me see if I can make a better choice this time.” You might write in your journal, or read something inspiring, or go for a walk, or take a few deep breaths and remember the things you are grateful for, or whatever else you can imagine might help you stay centered and able to make a conscious choice.
Just remember that you can become aware, you can take some deep breaths and you can tell yourself that a small step in the right direction AT THAT MOMENT can make a difference.
Often when I am doing my sprint intervals around the loop on our land, I find myself near a patch of French broom during an active rest period, and pull broom instead of walking. Yesterday as I did this I thought about weed-pulling. There is nothing intrinsically horrible about the plants we call weeds – they have their place in the cycle of nature. We just don’t want them in our gardens. In the case of French broom, it is a non-native (to northern California) invasive species that is extremely flammable, and very difficult to eradicate. It is very satisfying to pull each plant up by the roots. I do that knowing that I am, in a very small way, restoring some balance to the eco-system here.
This is not so different from the approach we can take to habits we have developed that do not serve us. If we can calmly decide what does not work for us and consciously choose to pull that weed out of our lives and behaviors, this is a good thing. We don’t have to feel guilty about it, punish ourselves when it sprouts again, get angry – all the responses we tend to have that are just not all that useful in shifting our behaviors in the long run. Getting angry at the French broom does not assist me in getting rid of it – taking action to pull even a few small ones at a time does.