Why Is It So Hard To Do the Right Things For Ourselves?

Why is it so hard to do the things we know we need to do to achieve our goals and we know are good for us? I think inherently we all know what we need to eat to be healthy. We know soda, sugary snacks, fast food, and pizza are detrimental to our health. Everybody knows that. It’s not a secret. We all know we should do some kind of exercise or movement during the day to be healthy. It’s no secret sitting on our butts all day every day is not conducive to being healthy. We all know it. It’s not a secret.
Every single person reading this knows these things, so why is it so hard to do them? Where is the disconnect between knowing and doing? It’s one thing to know something, it’s an entirely different thing to DO IT.
It’s not just about food or exercise, although these are easy examples, ones we can all relate to, and I feel illustrate my point quite well. It’s the same with any kind of practice, whether that be what you put in your mouth, what you do with your body, or what is in your head.
Here are a few more examples. We all know it is useless to compare ourselves with others. It’s a totally negative practice that has nothing good coming from it, yet we all do it. We all think about how great somebody else’s life is because they have more money than us, nicer clothes, a bigger house, a fancier car, and on and on and on. What good does that kind of thinking do us? None whatsoever, yet we do it every day.
How about this little line, “I’ll be happy when…..(fill in the blank)”
That one line is a curse to you and your happiness. Nothing good comes from that line of thinking, yet we all do it every day.
Clearly G.I. Joe was full of it when he said that knowing is half the battle. Seems to me knowing is about 2% of the battle. The actual doing, the other 98% is the real battle. Agree?
I wish this was the part where I gave you the solution to this problem that I could say here are the 5 TIPS YOU NEED TO TURN YOUR LIFE AROUND!! Then follow with a nicely bulleted list of tips, tricks, and hacks that would solve this problem for you and we could all live happily ever after. This is not one of those articles unfortunately.
These are all things I struggle with myself every single day in some way shape or form. I have read the books, listened to the audios, watched the videos, practiced, practiced, practiced, and I still struggle. Sometimes I wonder if I am any better than I was a year or more ago. I know I am though. Don’t lose hope! This stuff is hard, but not impossible! It just takes honest and consistent effort every day.
It requires you to get out of your comfort zone, to push yourself into areas you don’t want to go. You have to work at it every day. You have to practice.
So what I would encourage you to do is pick one thing to work on. Pick one area you want to improve upon. It could be your eating habits, your exercise routine, or controlling your harmful mental chatter.
Pick that one thing and do something every day that makes you a little uncomfortable. Instead of reaching for the afternoon cupcake, have a glass of water or go for a walk. Instead of skipping your planned workout, move your body for 5 minutes, get your heart rate up a little. Catch yourself in the act of negative self-talk and remind yourself how great you are, how perfect your life is, find something good in your life to be grateful for.
These are the things that are hard to do, but MUST be done. Are they easy? NO. Are you going to slip up? YES. Forgive yourself and move on. Try again.
“It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.”
George A. Custer
U.S. Military
Keep the faith my friends, we are all in this together!
Let me know your thoughts on this. What has worked for you in the past? What are you still struggling with?

The Weight of the World is on My Shoulders, and I Put it There!

I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel free for the first time in a while. What’s funny is I am the one who took all that weight on, it was my own stubborn hard head that brought on all that weight. What am I talking about? Read on to find out.
For the past several months I have basically abandoned my carpentry career in pursuit of making a living in the fitness business. I wanted to become a full time personal trainer. I put everything I had into this pursuit. I turned down carpentry work to really give it a go as a personal trainer. I turned down good paying jobs for basically little to no money. I figured if I put in enough time and energy things would be bound to work out the way “I” wanted. Maybe what “I” wanted was not based in reality, but on a fantasy I had conjured up in my head, about how I wanted my life to look.
That’s what got me into trouble, being so focused and fixated on a false sense of reality. I conjured up this pretend life that doesn’t exist, but I was searching and searching for it regardless.
I did enjoy some successes. I got the opportunity to work with some great people. I tried to help everybody I came in contact with.
At the same time there were many frustrations. People cancelling appointments, people not showing up to set meetings, working very early in the morning, and having to train people late in the evening.
I did not let any of that deter me. I was determined to make it work. I sucked it up and pushed hard for what I wanted. I fought every day for it. Perhaps I fought too hard, maybe I pushed too much. I think in hindsight I was trying to force something that was not meant to be for me at this time.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
Annoying cliché. Yes.
True statement. From where I stand now, yes.
Like anything in life there are good and bad qualities to EVERYTHING. There will always be ups and downs. Perfect doesn’t exist, at least not in my world. I guess I had forgotten that for a while. I thought I had an idea of how great life would be when I was done with carpentry and moved on to personal training. When reality set in, carpentry didn’t look so bad, and personal training wasn’t so shiny and pristine like I envisioned it would be.
So what am I getting at? This is not a story about quitting, or giving up. That’s not what I am doing. I am just backing off from my pursuits of personal training full time. I am allowing myself to grow into it gradually, naturally, not forcing it. When and if the time is right to make a shift I will know.
I have gained a lot of insight and perspective over the past few months into myself, and the way I think. I was so intently fixated on something I wanted I wouldn’t listen to reason, or any outside opinions. I was very stubborn in thinking that things had to be a certain way, or else it would never work. This could not be a more false way of thinking. In my opinion this is the definition of ignorance. When you are so hard headed and stuck on an idea you refuse to listen to anybody else. That’s not a place you want to be.
Listen to the people around you. Heed what they have to say, even if you don’t agree with it. Look at the other side of the coin. Ask yourself, why am I so against what they have to say? Is what they say valid? Am I being open to other possibilities, or am I stuck on only what I think? This can be extremely difficult to do in the moment. If you find yourself having a strong and immediate reaction to what somebody says to you, take a long hard look at that reaction.
It seems like I keep coming back to this over and over, but that’s where your mindfulness practice comes into play. Do you have the ability to take that step back, pause, and really see what’s going on? Do you have enough self-awareness to look and see who is driving the car, you, or your thoughts, your pre conceived notions about what something should be like?
You can apply this to anything in your life. Say you are in a store shopping and you see something you want, you feel an immediate pull to buy it, you HAVE to have it. This one thing is what I have always wanted, this is going to make all the difference! Now wait just a second, is that true? What would your life look like if you did buy it? How will this thing fit into your life? What would it look like if you didn’t buy it? Honestly will you be better off if you do or don’t buy that thing? The answers are not important. What is important is the ability to take that step back, pause, and look at things from another perspective. Rather than just indulge your urge right away.
The more you can get your head out of the way, and look at both sides objectively and impartially, the better off you will be.
With anything this is hard to put into action. It will take practice. You will win some and lose some. Learn from each and every experience. Don’t worry about the times you lose, don’t beat yourself up, and value those experiences even more than the wins. That is when you learn the most.
I wouldn’t change one thing from the past few months. I learned so much about myself, how I think, and what I need to be more mindful of and work on going forward. Those type of life lessons are invaluable, as long as they don’t go to waste!
So have your say about this. What do you think? Ever had a similar experience? What happened? I would love to hear about it.

Are You Engaged in a Losing Battle?

tug_of_war_1I have been on a mission lately to become more mindful and aware of the stories my mind tells me, and how it affects me in my daily life. A lot of it has to do with the urges and desires I have, mostly for food, and to figure out how I can do a better job of controlling them. We all have these kinds of urges and desires, it might be for sweets and treats, shopping, making more money, being more successful, etc.
I realize I am just scratching the surface of getting better at controlling my urges and desires, but it’s something I am aware of and want to improve on. I will probably never be free from them, and they may always have some kind of hold on me. But if I can get a little better at recognizing them and not letting them completely run the show, I will be better off.
Last week I talked about a break through moment I had about letting go and not being tortured by a buffet under my nose at an event I attended. Please read about that HERE.
That experience got me thinking about this concept of letting go and taking away the power from our urges and desires. I would like to explore that a little more.
I was comparing this internal battle of our urges versus (for lack of a better term) our willpower to a tug of war. On one end of the rope you have the urge and desire, let’s say a piece of chocolate cake, and on the other side you have willpower, or your true intention. I’m sure you can all relate to that battle.
“Just one bite of that delicious chocolate cake”.
“No, I don’t want any cake”.
“Come on it looks so good, what’s the harm in one bite”.
“I said no, I am not eating cake tonight”.
And on and on and on this battle goes. No matter what, one side wins. You either eat the cake or you don’t. But in the end either way you are the one that loses. You had to fight and claw against that urge for however long, and you either cave in, or you don’t. It’s exhausting just thinking about it.
What if there was a better way. What if you didn’t have to fight that fight at all. Wouldn’t that be better?
My thought is instead of engaging in that tug of war, that back and forth exhausting struggle, where one side or the other ends up with their face in the sand. What if you just dropped the rope, and watched from the sidelines. Watched as that urge just falls right down. You remove the resistance from one side, the other side has nothing to pull against. Technically they would “win”, but I think we all know who the real winner is.
Sounds like a great theory, looks good on paper, but how does it translate into the real world? Well that part I am still working on. I still need to put this into practice, to test it out. My thought is if we can get outside of our head for a moment and watch this battle unfold, perhaps then we can have the presence of mind to allow ourselves to drop our end of the rope. How can you do that?
I think the simplest and most effective way is to pause and take a few breaths. Just pause and breathe. Don’t rush into it one way or other. Just be the conscious observer. Watch the thinking. See who is running the show. Is it you, or your urges and desires?
That’s what mindfulness is all about. Creating a gap between the thought and the action. Slowing down enough to assess the situation. So often we are just rushing around from thing to thing to thing. We get so focused on doing, that we lose sight of what the real objective is.
I am certainly an amateur at all this consciousness and mindfulness practicing. I am no expert by any stretch. If you want to check out an expert I would recommend Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, and also either Rediscovering Life or Awareness by Anthony De Mello.
Notice in the above paragraph I said mindfulness practice. That is exactly what it is, practice. Something you have to work at all the time. You will get better at it, but for me anyways progress is proving very difficult. I think it’s worth the struggle though. Most things worthwhile in life are hard.
What do you think about this, think letting go of the rope is a viable option? Can you do it?

What’s Your Opinion on Moderation?

I think we have all heard the phrase, “Everything in moderation”. I was thinking about moderation today. Is it a good or a bad thing? Is it a useful tool, or a crutch that causes people to fail to achieve what they want? Is it a cop out from doing the really hard things, or something necessary to create a life worth living? Has moderation helped or hurt you in your pursuits?
I was asking myself these questions, and the only conclusion I can come up with, and basically with most things in life, I don’t think there is any clear black and white answer. Moderation lies in the murky gray area. I think it’s great in some situations, and harmful in others. I think it’s good for some people, and not so much for others.
Really the answer comes down to how well you know yourself, and if moderation works for you or not. Can you honestly moderate something, or do you just use moderation as an excuse to do whatever you want?
Again there is no right or wrong, black or white. Does moderation mean once or twice a month, once or twice a week, or once or twice a day? That’s where the line gets blurry. How do you decide?
I guess it depends where you are starting from, and where you intend to go. If you are trying to cut back on sweets for instance, if you regularly consume sweets every day, then I guess once or twice a week is moderation.
Is moderation a sliding scale? For instance let’s use the above example, and you have cut back on sweets from every day, to once or twice a week. Is the next logical step to now cut back to once or twice a month? Is that necessary? I guess that depends on what your goals ultimately are.
I think the important thing is to use moderation to enhance your life, not as an excuse to do/eat whatever you want.
Again, moderation is a gray area. I don’t think everybody does well with gray areas. Some of us need black and white, or else we just come off the rails. I know for myself I need hard and fast rules when it comes to most things. I don’t do well with gray areas. It’s too easy for me to take advantage of that.
Bottom line, you have to know yourself. What does moderation mean to you? How does it affect you? Does it bring you closer to your goals or further from them? Does it bring you closer to being the kind of person you want to be, or is it a convenient excuse to indulge every want and desire you have?
What works for you? What doesn’t? Perhaps the only way to find out these answers is to test and re test. Find out for yourself, just be aware of who is driving the car, you, or your wants and desires. Does moderation help or hurt that distinction?
I know I asked a lot of questions in this post, and I hope it gets you thinking. Do you find this kind of post helpful? It requires a certain amount of introspection to answer these types of questions. Do you like to do that kind of thinking? Would you like more of these kinds of posts?

Build Your Foundation for Lasting Success

laying-brick-wallComing from a construction background I know the importance of a solid foundation to any building or structure. The new building codes today are very demanding when it comes to footings and foundations, and with good reason. A building needs a solid base to withstand the rigors of Mother Nature. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, heavy snowfall, etc. all wreak havoc on the structures we rely on for our safety and security. If you look at old buildings that were not built with adequate supports they just don’t last. They end up imploding on themselves. The same can be said for any habit or lifestyle change you are trying to make. Don’t implode on yourself!

Think about something you successfully changed, are working on changing, or want to change in the near future. This could be anything such as a diet change, implementing an exercise routine, meditating consistently, any creative work, improving your relationships, etc.

To have lasting success with any change, habit or routine you need to set a solid foundation. Why is that so important? Because when life gets in the way, which it will, it always does, you have something solid to come back to. You have a fall back plan. If you don’t have that solid foundation you will crumble.

Let me give you an example. I was talking with a friend who was telling me that he had fallen off his normal very healthy eating routine for the past two weeks. He had been eating really clean for about a year and a half prior to this. So he fell of the wagon for a couple weeks, which is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. Since he has put in the work before, for over a year, he had no problem picking right back where he left off. He had that solid foundation to rely on.

Now, let me give you that scenario a little differently. Perhaps my friend had only been eating clean for a month and he fell off the wagon for two weeks. It is going to be extremely hard to get back on it. He would have no foundation to rely on. Old habits are almost guaranteed to come back. He would crumble.

So what does this mean for you? I would say the first thing is to realize the importance of doing the work early on to set the stage for lasting success in whatever your aim is. That solid foundation is the difference between living a life of doing what you want and intend, versus just the person that is floating along allowing the ups and downs of life to dictate how you act and react to your environment.

Don’t let your environment dictate what happens to you, you decide, you are in control.

How can you build that solid foundation?

Start small but consistent. Small things done consistently lead to big things down the road.

Have little things that you can always rely on, your “go tos”. For example let’s say you are working on your diet. Always have a “go to” get back on track meal. That could be eggs and vegetables for breakfast, or a salad with chicken for lunch. Something that you know you can use to get back on track after a diet “hiatus”. Always have something to fall back on that won’t ever let you down, even when you feel like everything around you is falling apart.

This is precisely why I advocate not taking on more than you can handle early on. Just try to improve one meal a week at first. Have one perfect meal. When you get comfortable with that make it two, so on and so forth. Start with one push up a day for a week. Next week make it two. So on and so forth. Walk for 5 minutes a day for a week. Write one sentence every day. Make one brush stroke. Give your partner one compliment every day. Say thank you once this week. Take one deep breath every day. See what I’m getting at.

Think of each of these little tiny steps as adding one brick to your foundation. Build that foundation one brick at a time. One brick put in place carefully and mindfully every day will lead to a lot of bricks after a while. Don’t try to do too much at once, just be consistent. What’s the rush? Rushing will lead to placing the bricks sloppily and haphazardly. Doing things that way will lead to a pretty shoddy foundation that is sure to crumble. Don’t let that happen to you!

What do you think about this? Does your foundation need work? How are you laying your bricks? What daily practices can you enact TODAY to get where you want to go?