“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!