There is a Buddhist saying that ‘life is difficult’. In the west it feels like there is a widely held belief that ‘Life Should Be a Certain Way’. People often say, or think, that something is not fair, or right.
Whichever view is correct, the latter view is not helping us.
At this moment you may be thinking, not me, I am different, I am chilled. I ‘just get on with life’. We, (Saski and Cathie), have coached many hundreds of people, and it would be helpful if you accept that, like the rest of us, you have felt this on occasion.
Just think of this example, ‘bad things should not happen to good people’. Of course we know that they do, yet when stuff happens, this thought often occurs. So if you could just accept that, sadly, this is how life is, we can save ourselves both pain and time. Forget whether this is true, let us look at how we can adopt a more helpful viewpoint to dealing with issues.
We are not suggesting that we are any different, trust us, we can both feel that life is unfair, even knowing that this is not a helpful thought. Nevertheless, we have found that when we do accept that life is not fair, or unfair, it becomes much easier to be at peace with ourselves, and others. In turn this acceptance can really help us to change, or have peace with ourselves.
This month, we are writing a joint article, to focus on improving our bodies. In particular how changing our thinking about diet and fitness, can help us achieve our goals. We will also offer practical tips which, if followed, will develop us, and help us to develop more flourishing lives and healthy bodies.
Here are some examples of views that we have been told by clients in the past.
• I can’t help my weight. It’s alright for my brother, he’s thinner because he’s younger. Wait until he is my age. (This has been said over fifteen years)
• I would really like to exercise, but my knees are shot through rugby/running/falling off my horse.
• It’s alright for him, he likes exercise.
• I shouldn’t need to diet, she eats more than me and she never puts on weight.
• Why should I exercise, I have so much going on at the moment?
• Why do I have 24 packs, not 6, I have a very healthy diet
So do these thoughts help your health and well-being? We can all agree they don’t. Is there anything we can do to change? The secret to success is to stop expecting life to be fair, or a certain way.
Life is the way it is. The main thing that you can change is you.
It is easy as you are reading this to think it is obvious. We sip our wine, or eat a snack, and agree, for the next ten minutes; but what happens when you decide to get fit and/or eat well?
We have all made decisions about changing our behaviour. We think, “I’ll start on Monday” This is usually said on a Thursday or Friday because we couldn’t possibly give up all the things we enjoy during the weekend. Or, “I will start in the New Year” because eating and drinking lots is part of Christmas!
How about “The best time to get fit is May, the weather is starting to get better by then”. Sadly you can’t start then because your guests come over the summer and obviously you can’t abandon them. So you will start in November, although Christmas does get earlier every year!
See where the patterns start to emerge?
The difficulty is always starting the new behaviour, so we delay just for a few days, or maybe weeks/months. If we’re not careful, it becomes years, and we’re still just having one last indulgence before committing to something that, sadly just keeps getting harder. Even after we have started, we don’t maintain the new habit.
This is why you need to commit, explain to your friends and family. Ask for their help. It is hard. Life is tough, being leaner and fitter will give you a glow of satisfaction.
Think about your body shape, and how fit you are. How do you think you should be?
If you think it should be different, have a look at this thought.
How should your body be?
What do you ‘need’ to do?
How does thinking about changing, while doing nothing, help you?
How, if at all, does it affect your moods and relationships?
Where did you get this view of how you should be?
Is this view useful or realistic?
What will you do when you achieve your goal?
You have decided to get fit but at the moment: –
You just need to finish this film.
It’s too hot.
It’s too cold.
It’s too windy.
You need to finish the kitchen.
This will give you one day or maybe two, a year, to get fit! Obviously you can only get fit when everything aligns. Why is this? It is because we are human! We don’t think we should have to work hard to change, this is normal. We secretly believe that one day we will wake up and want to eat less, and exercise more. We don’t. These thoughts will not help you achieve your ideal body.
If you are thinking about losing weight, we may find reasons to wait…
I am going to start Monday, (see above).
I can’t do it while the family are staying.
I need to finish what is in the freezer/cupboard.
I have just fallen out with my best friend and I am too upset.
My husband/wife/son have to have a pudding.
I have to finish the kids tea, can’t waste food.
Kids/mother/grandchildren need to have sweets in the cupboard, (even though they don’t live there…).
I am about to sign up with Weight Watchers.
Getting leaner can be hard. It is easy not to cook, we can eat out, or put something processed in the microwave. If we are feeling peckish we can eat a chocolate bar, this will give us our afternoon sugar rush. This is easier, and quicker, than waiting until dinner time. It’s readily available and many of us have taste buds that have been engineered to crave the high sugar/fat tastes of fast food.
So how can changing your thinking change your actions?
The most powerful approach is to start by accepting yourself, and choosing what you want to do.
You move your thinking from:
“I should be slim/fit”, to
“I am bigger than I want to be and I want to get fitter”.
In other words, ‘this is how I am, and I accept me’. Don’t beat yourself up. It is powerful to accept how you are before choosing to do something different. There are several options, including one, or a combination, of the following
1. Start to change your routine, don’t allow excuses/other people’s appetite, to stop you. Of course they can have sweets/puddings, you are not going to.
2. Accept that you are not going to get fit/lean
3. Stop worrying or moaning about it, with others or yourself
4. Feel free to continue moaning and be miserable/or miserably content. We all love a good moan ☺
We know all of this stuff, and, as normal human beings, we continue to do all four. However we, (Saski and Cathie) have both occasionally, under difficult conditions still managed to achieve something helpful. Whether ill, broke, or having a major upset within a relationship, it is possible to move your thinking and your actions.
Living in the moment is not always easy, but it is a break from unhappiness. It is much cheaper than a holiday. People recommend mindfulness, meditation, positive affirmations, all great things. Sometimes just experiencing each moment, as it is and, as it is not, is the only way to be. Incredibly, acceptance is the start of you doing something different.
If you would like to learn how to apply this to health and well-being, as well as other areas of your life, we are holding a seminar in the Montmorillon area of France (86) on Thursday 9th May Please contact Saski for tickets and info by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support.
I teamed up with Dr Cathie Woodward this month to do this joint article on ‘The Human Paradigm’. Dr Cathie runs a coaching practice with clients both in the UK & France. She is trained as a coach and a therapist. If you’d like to speak to Cathie directly her email is: email@example.com