“The way we choose to see the world creates the world we see.” -Barry Neil Kaufman
For years I was blind. Until one day in late July 2001 when the temperature was 118 degrees in Phoenix and my temperature was well above that. I was angry and it was hot. And I had just locked my keys in my car at ASU West and even DPS could not “pop the lock” on my car. So I had to walk ALL THE WAY OVER to the bus stop to ride the bus home to get my other set of keys. It was all of about 200 yards. As I angrily walked in the heat pouting about my keys, feeling self-pity about how busy I was I saw a man sitting at the bus stop. As I approached I could see that he had a white-tipped cane used by people who are without eyesight. I really didn’t want to be bothered because I was angry and feeling sorry for myself so I said hello and stayed to the side. He asked, “Can you do me a favor?” I thought “oh great” but said okay. He asked if I could describe the trees and the sky to him because he had lost his eyes when he was 5 because of a disease. He said that he always remembers how beautiful the trees and sky were and likes to get other people’s descriptions. So I described. The desert trees and landscapes were various colors and all bore their own beauty. The sky had high clouds but was otherwise blue and clear. He said that many people have 20/20 vision but are blinder than he is because they do not appreciate the gift of sight and its’ ability to see natural beauty. He told me to always appreciate my sight and the gift to see all things beautiful. My mood changed immediately and I began to make it a daily point to appreciate my gift of sight and the ability to see beauty. I did it today when I went for a run/walk with my dog. It was hot this morning and my feet hurt. I did not “see” that though. I saw the beauty of the trees, birds enjoying a cool bird bath and my dog Zeus’ look of unconditional love toward me. I saw all of my abilities, the beauty of the lake that I walked past, and how great it was to be able to exercise because some cannot. I saw how lucky I am to have so much love in my life, a business that I enjoy doing, and all of the other gifts that I am so richly blessed with. Most of us have chosen to be where we are at in life. We have chosen to lock our keys in our cars, live in the heat or cold, who we love and how busy we are. We also choose the way we see everything. I am asking you like the blind man asked me to see the beauty in ALL things. Do not be blind any longer! Start today. Be your own miracle!
There is no question that our health is an extremely important subject and should be a priority in our lives. One area where people create a barrier for themselves is the extreme NEGATIVE emotion placed on exercise. For many, exercise has been a miserable experience and often times began as a youth. Some individuals can do things physically with ease while others doing the same activity will experience excruciating pain. There are many biological, mental, and physiological reasons for the way we experience pain. We all process and feel pain differently and some people are far more sensitive to pain because of the way the brain and body function together. It literally hurts more because the pain sensors in the body are more sensitive for some people than they are for others.
Another factor in those that have a negative experience with exercise is the way that exercise is taught in homes, schools, and youth leagues. Unfortunately, many people have had a traumatic experience as a youth with exercise. They may be slower, not interested in the sport that mom or dad has made them join, been made fun of or bullied by someone, or had a coach that was more focused on building an ego than helping the youngster learn a sport or be healthy. Given the way many individuals have experienced exercise it is no wonder they hate it. It has been physically painful and even demeaning at times.
Time For Change
Ninety-nine percent of my personal training and life coaching clients will not set foot in a traditional gym or hire a personal trainer. They have had a negative experience with exercise and believe that when they walk into a gym they will be judged like always. Many are fearful that the personal trainer will yell at them, shame them, and put them through such excruciating pain that they will not be able to roll on deodorant or go to the bathroom for days. I actually have experienced personal trainers in the last 6 months who do this. I was laughed at, told to “suck it up” when I experienced pain, and felt demoralized on a couple of “personal training” occasions. And I am in decent shape. I felt like my trainer was beating his chest like some conqueror. I never went back, needless to say. We may not ever be able to change the egos of some but one thing we can do is change ourselves. Your desire for change will ultimately be the difference in the change you seek whether it be weight loss, increased strength, motivation to exercise, or eating healthy foods, especially as you age.
How to Change the Exercise Belief System
Our bodies need to be moved and challenged a little. We do not need to exercise crazily or do extreme and unsafe workouts. We should include both strength training and cardio components to be healthy. How do we do that when we have had negative experiences and hate to exercise? Healthy means safe and vigorous at your own pace. Here are the things that have worked for those people who I have witnessed make incredible change in the way they experience exercise::
- All accept that exercise is needed and beneficial. They understand that “30 minutes of pain” daily will lead to less pain as they age, make them feel better about themselves, and have a great impact on their overall quality of life. This does not mean that they put themselves through grueling workouts or get yelled at by some crazy trainer. They learn to listen to their bodies and are able to move forward slowly at a smart pace.
- All “get back on” daily NO MATTER WHAT. Many of us do not see immediate results and pretty soon we say “forget it” and/or “this doesn’t work.” Unless you have an underlying health issue eating nutritious foods and exercise does work. If you do have an underlying health issue, please see a doctor to fix it and then exercise and eating nutritious foods will work.
- All have a significant reason to begin exercise. Many feel better in the knees and back, think clearer, and like the way exercise makes their bodies look. Others want more mobility, to be healthier for family and loved ones, to play sports, or help with bone density. I like what exercise does for my head and my body. After years of experiencing depression, addiction and self-esteem issues, I feel free of these barriers in many ways due to exercise. It has changed my life and the lives of many others and can yours too.
Please see the benefit of exercise. If you have struggled historically to maintain healthy exercise habits, you are not alone. Move forward and become stronger safely. Practice working through the self-talk during exercise that will sabotage your goal of being healthy, strong, and high functioning. Honor yourself and those who care for you by caring for yourself enough to move every day. Start as soon as possible. If you need help seek it from someone who will help you without judgment. Be your own miracle!
It is such a crazy world right now. Political and religious conflict. Racial and economic tension. Something changing all of the time to continue or grow the conflicts. It is a tough time for America, the world, and for people who desire a world of peace and cooperation. For those of us who desire to be happy on a daily basis, it can be a tough task to maintain happiness and peace in a world of conflict. And as we know, happiness is healthy. Just as what we eat and put into our body matters, what we put into our mind also matters. I personally struggle and have struggled with depression since childhood. I have learned through much suffering that what I put into my mind first thing in the morning and throughout the day really matters to my daily happiness. First thing in the morning when I feed myself negative things like world conflicts, personal battles, past wrongs, or future worries I struggle all day with sadness, anxiety, anger, lack of clarity in my mind, and conflicts. I also tend to binge eat, become unproductive with my time, and consumed with self-pity. I can go so many directions based on what I watch, listen to, read, or feed myself with self-talk.
Intentional Feeding of The Mind
I had a close friend ask me once why I had quit exercising like I once did. Since I own a gym and design exercise programs, the importance of getting enough exercise is paramount to me. The answer I gave my friend was that I was too depressed and lacked the energy to exercise. And it was true because that is what I fed my mind with my own self-conversation. When this happens to most of us, me included, it is an autopilot action and not intentional. And that is the key to managing the things we put into our mind; it has to be intentional. Like finances, business operations, weight loss programs, and addiction recovery, the way we manage what we put into our mind through media and self-talk HAS to be intentional. If we operate with reactionary auto-pilot behavior, our chances of struggle grow. If we plan what we are going to read first thing in the morning, how we are going to manage negative self-talk in our work day, what we listen to in the car, and how we are going to spend our free mind time after work, our chances of being happy, fulfilled, and healthy also grow. Before going to bed each night, plan on how you will begin the day tomorrow with things that will feed your mind positive food. I currently start each day with the 20th anniversary edition of Chicken Soup For The Soul, and The Bible. Both have positive messages and reading helps to engage and activate my brain which helps me with clarity. I spend 10-15 minutes or so reading (5 minutes of each) before heading out for my walk/jog. During the exercise time, I try to intentionally focus on gratitude and things that are great in my life. For years I have had foot pain and this helps me to focus on the good and not the pain. On my way to work, I listen to audio instructional or motivational material that will help me to grow as a person, communicate clearer, improve my business, or focus my energy. Intentionally feed your mind good food.
Help Yourself To Some Good Food
I do not share with you how I begin the day because I am great. I am certainly no better than anyone who struggles in life. I have just studied and learned through experience how to manage my struggles differently. And I hope you do too. Intentionally feed yourself good mind food from the beginning of each day. Intentionally monitor when you are feeding yourself things that oppose your happiness and change that to the things that do. Intentionally take care of you. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!
I got into a heated debate a few weeks ago with a former family member who insisted that what we were exposed to as youth has no impact on us as adults. I agreed with him that everything is ultimately just a choice and that we could all make the “right” choice and live happily ever after but I disagreed with him in his opinion that we all have the same wiring to make that choice. I wish a choice were that easily explained but it is not.
Not That Simple
There are multiple things that go into a choice, especially in areas where we may struggle. Things like addictions, defensive reactions, overeating, and low self esteem may all be just a choice, but there are many factors that go into that choice. What you were exposed to ( trauma, injuries, dishonesty, stability/instability, honesty, etc), taught by those you believed in, how classmates treated you (being bullied can destroy confidence), your social circle, and how your parent/guardian approached education all have a role in the choices you make as an adult. Research proves over and over that our social conditioning as youth plays a huge role in our choices and beliefs as an adult. Studies also show that social conditioning, trauma, anxiety, and depression as youth can have an impact on the different parts of the brain that are responsible for reasoning, thought, and the ability to make a sound choice. Research also shows through multiple studies that if you began (as I did) to cope with life events in unhealthy ways during your teen years, your chances of battling them for life skyrocket. It is ultimately a choice but not so simple to make it.
What About The One Who Overcomes
There are always stories of people that have overcome great odds to become successful. What is the difference between them and I who struggled for years to overcome my demons? They were aware from early in life that there was a different way to conduct a life and learned to make the choice. Many of them had support somewhere that taught them how to make a choice and overcome choices that may hurt them. And even though we all come from families and bloodlines, our genetics all differ which plays a role in choices. It is proven through research that things like resilience, outlook, and depression are at least partly genetic. The way you are wired physically matters. Life is always just a choice but not a simple one.
If You Struggle
You can overcome both genetic and social wiring no matter where you are in life. Many of us are doing it and changing our lives. Overcoming our programming begins with self-awareness that we have something we want to change about ourselves and we are going to commit to doing the work necessary to overcome the challenge, no matter how many times we fall. We can redevelop the genetic and social wiring of resilience by realizing that it is the key to everything. Learning to get back up after falling requires rewiring the way you believe about yourself, the way you believe about your mistakes, and how you believe about events in your life that challenge you. To do this requires you knowing that you have every ability needed within yourself to live the life you want. You are just as smart or smarter than others who have overcome great challenges. The key is to learn that you do not have to keep struggling. Keep fighting for your recovery and eventually the choice will become easier if you do the work necessary. It is a process but so worth it! Begin as soon as possible to learn how to make the choice that will lead you to where you want to be. Do the work. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!
There is one thing that will affect every area of our life and that is our health. Whether it is finances, happiness, relationships, or the ability to function the way we want, health will have a major role in our lives.
1.Our health can cost us money or make us money. Being strong and healthy is vital to how well and long we can produce the income we need to live the way we want. Being in the health span is less expensive than being in the disease span of life.
2. Our health will affect our happiness and research clearly shows that the more disabilities we have as we age, the more depressed we will be. I have witnessed people who have worked so hard to generate a great retirement only to be miserable and not able to enjoy it because of lifestyle choices. Lessen your health problems and increase your happiness.
3. Relationships are also affected if we are healthy or unhealthy. While it is important to focus on how lifestyle choices will affect us personally, it is of at least equal importance (if not more) to remember that our lifestyle choices affect those who love us. This includes both humans and animals.
Please do your best to stay as strong as you can in your muscles, heart, brain, bones, and joints. If you struggle like many of us do, it is okay and we understand. The importance of exercise cannot be overstated, especially if you struggle. IT IS SO IMPORTANT! Begin as soon as possible. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!
“Each year, nearly 900,000 Americans die prematurely from the five leading causes of death – yet 20 percent to 40 percent of the deaths from each cause could be prevented, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The five leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and unintentional injuries. Together they accounted for 63 percent of all U.S. deaths in 2010, with rates for each cause varying greatly from state to state. The report, in this week’s issue of CDC’s weekly journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, analyzed premature deaths (before age 80) from each cause for each state from 2008 to 2010. The authors then calculated the number of deaths from each cause that would have been prevented if all states had same death rate as the states with the lowest rates.
The study suggests that, if all states had the lowest death rate observed for each cause, it would be possible to prevent:
- 34 percent of premature deaths from heart diseases, prolonging about 92,000 lives
- 21 percent of premature cancer deaths, prolonging about 84,500 lives
- 39 percent of premature deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases, prolonging about 29,000 lives
- 33 percent of premature stroke deaths, prolonging about 17,000 lives
- 39 percent of premature deaths from unintentional injuries, prolonging about 37,000 lives”(Source CDC.gov)
Please know the impact you are having on yourself and those who care about you. Our health and lifestyle decisions will impact everything; finances, loved ones, happiness-everything. If you struggle to do so, please get help as soon as possible. Your change can begin as soon as today. You can BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!
Most people know common exercise benefits such as improved strength, endurance, and weight management. Researchers now are discovering that exercise has far more benefits than just the traditional beliefs. In fact, I read somewhere that if exercise were a pill, it would eliminate many medications people use and would be worth more than any pill on the market. There is nothing more important that we could be doing for ourselves than staying strong through exercise. Here are some little known benefits of exercise.
- Exercise benefits the gastrointestinal system. Exercise can relieve constipation and promote healthy digestion when you are at rest. In fact, exercise over time will even strengthen the digestive tract.
- Exercise helps slow brain decline. People who reported doing more physical activity showed higher scores on cognitive tests—consistent with previous studies linking more exercise to better brain health. But when the researchers adjusted for the effect that factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease can have on brain function, the link disappeared. Conditions like these could impair blood flow to the brain and therefore compromise cognitive functions, says Dr. Clinton Wright, associate professor of neurology and public health sciences at University of Miami and senior author of the study. “That suggests that people with low physical activity levels also had a greater burden of those risk factors,” he says. (Time)
- Exercise can decrease pain. Exercise can help lessen chronic pain in several ways. Research is showing neuropathic pain is reduced with exercise because it helps to lower inflammation in the body. Exercise has also shown to reduce joint pain, lower back pain, and other pain associated with aging. But you must be careful and seek professional advice before beginning.
- Exercise can help finances. We know that exercise can reduce our chances of getting many forms of cancer, colds, heart problems, immune system issues, bone degeneration, brain decline, and depression. Disease and poor health can cost us a lot of money out of pocket in both lost income and dollars spent on co-pays and doctor bills. Our goal (I hope) is to reduce the amount of time we are in life’s disease span and increase the time we spend in a healthy life span. Exercise is the key to this.
Exercise has ENDLESS benefits and the importance of staying strong in every way possible cannot be overstated. If you are a beginner to exercise, find someone who can help you learn how to do strength, flexibility, and aerobic training. It could be the most important decision you ever make. Begin as soon as possible. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!
There are lots of reasons to care for your health as you age. Whether you are 19 or 60, what you do the next 10-20 years of your life with the health choices that you make will matter more than what you did the last 10. And I am not just speaking about your physical health. How you care for your emotional, mental, and spiritual health will also matter. There is more and more research listing the importance of self-care in today’s world of stress and unhealthy temptation around every corner. The pressures of career, family, and education can be overwhelming at times. I work with many clients that have high pressure 60 hour a week jobs, others who are working on their PhD’s., and many others who combine work, school, and family commitments into a weekly calendar. We all know of the consequence of stress on the body. High blood pressure, heart issues, and other unhealthy outcomes are the result of stress not handled in a healthy manner. Depression also causes us physical problems if not addressed in a healthy way. The outcome is similar to stress on the body and will eventually lead to coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Stress, depression, and anxiety can even increase some people’s chances of developing dementia and other mental disorders prematurely. Thankfully there are healthy options to help those who are suffering from too much stress, depression, and anxiety.
Not Being Judgmental
With my background in mental health, I fully understand that people have different issues in life. I watch people with “great jobs” that are under a tremendous amount of stress who know the importance of self-care. I work with people who have experienced tremendous trauma or loss in life that are happy in all areas of life. Really? Yes really. I have also studied extensively self-care practices and have found that people who respond in the healthiest ways are similar in many of their daily practices. I have compiled a short list of what I have discovered.
- They all exercise. You do not have to work out with the latest insanity program to practice self-care with exercise. Moderate strength training, walking, hiking, yoga, bicycling, swimming or any other form of healthy exercise can have benefits for the brain, the body, and the physical impacts of stress, anxiety, and depression on the body. Try to get 20-50 minutes of exercise daily and see it as beneficial and you will have a healthier physical response and quality of life as you get older.
- They all do things unrelated to food, drink, or television that bring pleasure. Reading, playing with pets, gardening, helping others, creating something and spending quality time with friends and loved ones will lead to better health in response to life’s stress. Be proactive about doing things that bring you pleasure and you will be healthier in the long run of life.
- They all continue to move forward. Ruminating on past negative life events will serve only negative health consequences. I am not trying to downplay past traumas. There is research where as many as 85% of us have suffered from some sort of trauma. That is almost all of us. Whether you need professional help or are able to accept those portions of your life that have been difficult to go through, it is healthier to move past the things that have happened to you and “give energy” to the present and how you can be successful with good health and happiness for the future.
- They all are resilient. Everyone that I have witnessed respond to life in healthy ways all understand that things happen in life that we would not like to happen. People who are the best with self-care continue to “get back on” no matter how many times they have fallen off. And you can too.
If you continue to struggle in areas of your life that you wish to change for the sake of happiness and health then I beg you to do so beginning today. What you do today can affect you in a positive or negative manner when it comes to your health. Your health impacts those who love you and how happy you will be as you age. Treat yourself with care and your physical health will respond with the quality of life you deserve. And you do deserve to BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!