Show me your belly and I’ll show you mine.

“That’s a honey badger.  Be glad it’s running away from us, even the lions are afraid of it.”  That’s what our guide on a safari in Africa said as I watched the dark weasel like creature scurry away into the bush.  The guide went on to explain that honey badgers had such a thick skin that other animals couldn’t bite into them when trying to defend themselves, that the honey badger killed animals much larger than itself by going after their vulnerable bellies.

Sometimes, I think people are an awful lot like the honey badger, always on defense and looking for the weak spots in others.  I get why that is.  We live in a really negative mean world.  It’s hard not to get sucked into it.  We’re all just trying to protect ourselves, right?  The trouble is that negativity is like a virus that gets into us, makes us sick and spreads to those who we come in contact with.  It warps out thinking, poisons our hearts, darkens our creativity, and on and on.

If several years of therapy have taught me anything it’s that negative emotions like anger and distrust are really masks for our fears.  We’re pretty much afraid of everything.  We’re afraid of being hurt, losing, not being liked or accepted, of failure and worst of all, not being loved.  To protect ourselves, we cover ourselves in defenses that keep other people at bay.  The result is that we never give ourselves a chance to really know or be known by other people.  Instead, we make false assumptions, stop listening, are paralyzed to take chances and will never really be loved or accepted.  How can we ever expect those things if we don’t put down our defenses and truly let other people in?

Sure, there’s a huge risk in essentially letting other people see your vulnerability in showing them your belly.  But, the possible rewards far outweigh the risks.  It’s the place where the seeds of true friendship or love are planted.  It’s the place that our creativity is sparked.  It’s the place where we truly begin to live.  I refuse to ever go back to a life lived in fear and negativity, even if it means having to experience failure or hurt along the way.  Because, at the end of the day, to truly live and love requires us to sometimes fail and hurt.  For more on the subject of the importance of letting our vulnerabilities show, I highly recommend the book “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown.  http://www.brenebrown.com.

I wish you lots of peace, love and good health.

Advertisements

“Bitch Slapped by the Universe” and Other Ways to Stay Motivated to be Healthy

I chatted earlier in the week with Cheri the Rev and Andy over at the Cocktail Hour about how to stay motivated to be healthy.  Please check out the show over at http://cocktailhour.us/archives/431.  While you’re over there, please spend some time checking out some of the other great Cocktail Hour shows that include lots of chats with many of your favorite lesfic authors.

One of the biggest pieces of advice that I have about staying motivated to be healthy is to stop stumbling around in the dark about it.  Deciding to be healthy is a lot like taking a trip to some place you’ve never been.  You can’t expect to get there by simply getting in the car and driving if you have no idea how to get there.  You end up driving around and never getting to where it is you intended to go.  Then you get frustrated and give up.  That’s exactly how trying to stay healthy was for me until I stopped stumbling around in the dark and made a plan.  Here’s what I did, and it’s worked for me.  I’m where I wanted to go and have not turned back.  To my surprise, the journey just keeps getting better.

  1. Know exactly where it is that you want to go before you head off on your quest to be healthy.  As I mentioned on the show, I got myself a really nice leather journal.  I wanted something nice because it was a message to myself that this process is important, and I intended to take it seriously.  I get my journals from http://www.galleryleather.com/.  They’re affordable, beautiful and made in the great state of Maine.  Once I got my journal, I wrote down as many reasons as I could think of as to why I wanted to be healthy.  The more reasons one has, the greater the motivation.  Then prioritize the list and be sure to also write down why those things are important.  Knowing why you have a particular goal will help you to prioritize.  Not everything can necessarily be accomplished at once.  For me, being and staying healthy is a life long journey anyway.  I’ll always have my list.  It won’t be static and still throws me some surprises every now and then, especially as my body ages.  It may seem pedestrian to write down what’s already in your head, but for me, it created a seriousness about the process that I hadn’t had before when I was still stumbling around in the dark about my health.  Plus, it’s a great way to remind yourself quickly of what your goals are when all you want to do is hang out on the couch eating junk food.  Hopefully, the time spent working on the journal will blunt those moments of weakness.  It did for me.
  2. Once you have your list, you have to map out how you’re going to accomplish your goals, including knowing your weaknesses in reaching them.  The first step should be to educate yourself about what’s safe for you and your body.  Start out with things like scheduling a visit with your doctor, joining a gym, get a trainer, exercise with friends etc.  Map out how you intend to get more exercise, eat healthy and keep stress at bay.  Be as detailed as possible.  For example, plan how you’ll deal with those moments of weakness after a stressful day when all you want to do is reach for that piece of comforting carrot cake.  Write down in your journal all the reasons not to eat the cake.  Then write down other more healthy foods you intend to choose instead of the cake.  In the afternoon, when I need a little boost of something, I’ll have a couple of 100% bran crisp breads with slices of ½ of a small banana.  The fiber in the bran fills me up, the banana has a comforting sweetness and the snack is only about 95 calories.  Way better than the carrot cake.  The bottom line is that you have a to do a lot of work up front in your journal making yourself aware of your goals, how you’re going to get there, including how you’ll deal with your moments of weakness that only drag you back toward being unhealthy.
  3. Finally, you have to own your health.  I’m a firm believer in being kind to one’s self and not constantly beating yourself up over things.  It doesn’t do any good other than make you stressed.  However, at some point, we all have to own our health.  There’s a difference between wallowing in beating yourself up, and getting up off of the ground and finding a way to move forward.  In fact, that’s one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves.  It’s helped me to free myself from many of the things that kept me in chains.  There are certain things that no one else can do for us.  A good friend of mine has recently been struggling with some health issues that have arisen because of her weight.  She’s been working hard to lose weight and be healthy, but has had to struggle with a ruptured disk in her back and a blood clot that formed in her leg.  She told me that she felt as though she’d been “bitch slapped by the universe.”  I was worried that she might give up on her health.  To the contrary, she is committed to owning her health.  She also told me that the universe also could’ve taken her out of the game completely.  It didn’t.  She got a second chance to live healthy.  Every day we spend unhealthy is another day lost.  We’re only here for a short time and it’s up to each of us to own our health.

Own your health, hold tight to the ones you love, be nice to other people and avoid drama and negativity.  They’re all part of my journey to good health.  I wish you much good health, happiness, love and peace.