THIS IS IT

So, you’ve messed up a bit of late? Your D.I.E.T. has gone AWOL and you don’t even remember what your trainer looks like. Well, whether you’ve succumbed to a severe strain of unexcused absenteeism or have been struggling with a case of absent-mindedness is really of no considerable concern. So please don’t liken your particular state to some incurable disease.

“Hakuna Matata. What a wonderful phrase. Hakuna Matata. Ain’t no passing phrase. hakuna matata
It means no worries for the rest of your days.” I do hope that this wonderful advice, of Swahili origin and Lion King fame, offers some encouragement.

Hey, everyone messes up. Trust me! From time to time, all tend to find themselves becoming somewhat lackadaisical in the food department. I know this might also be shocking news to you, but you are not the only individual who has become strangely absent from exercise class. You just need a boost of confidence to reverse this trend in behavior. “Believe in yourself. Take on your challenges. Dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. The most difficult battle you will ever fight is against yourself.”–Paul Cardall You don’t think it’s as easy as that sounds? No such thing as a problem-free philosophy you say! “Every small positive change we make in ourselves repays us in confidence in the future.”–Alice Walker  Perhaps, you have a valid point. There may be some complications as a result of the combination of your unofficial leave and unexplained amnesia. But, nevertheless, it is true that “difficulties allow us to change for the better.”–Thomas S. Monson

Be grateful for the knowledge that you can correct the mistakes of the previous day. “Life has to be lived in the present tense. The current hour is the only one we have.”--Jeffrey R. Holland As long as there is a breath of air in your lungs, endless second chances await you. It is wise not to allow those poor choices of yesterday linger any longer. Reconcile with them. Release them. Reject the notion that you are defined by your missteps. Renew your commitment to yourself. Rejoice in the spirit that whispers to you “Today is the best day of your life!” Remember the plan which you learned about and once were determined to follow. Realize that you may yet reach your potential. Respond to the call to eat healthy. Return to the gym. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”–Pablo Picasso What timeless counsel. Do not panic. “Put your heart, mind, and soul into even the smallest of acts. This is the secret of success.”–Swami Sivananda  Always remember that the daily performance of the small, seemingly insignificant acts lights the way to that which is greater. I beg you to use the chance you have in this moment to act in a manner that is consistent with that knowledge you’ve been given. “You don’t get the same moment twice in life.”–Chad Hymas

Whether it’s been a couple weeks, a month, six months, a year, or many years that you think you’ve messed up, an opportunity is knocking today. Your current state of health dictates that this is the time for you. “The most effective way to do it, is to do it!”–Amelia Earhart   I will not hold your memory loss against you. I’m still here! That knock you hear might just be me beckoning you to come back. Hold your head high and return with honor. There is no reason to feel ashamed. There is no mess too great that it cannot be made clean again. Every restart is a wonderful thing. So, I look forward to seeing you soon. Hakuna Matata!

“Make no mistake where you are. Your back’s to the corner. This is it. Don’t be a fool anymore. This is it. The waiting is over. No room to run, no way to hide. No time for wondering why. It’s here the moment is now about to decide. You said that maybe it’s over. Not if you don’t want it to be. For once in your life, here’s your miracle. No one can tell you what you know. Who makes the choice of how it goes? There comes a day in every life. This is it!”–Kenny Loggins

photo credit: hakuna matata via photopin (license)

Are You Coming or Going?

entrance or exit

Running late again? In the midst of a crowd, our paths crossed this morning. I was leaving the grocery store while you had just arrived. Yes, I noticed you squeezing your way in through the wall of humanity departing after their shopping excursion.  I’m sure if the crafty dance step I witnessed you perform were to continue, you would not be banned from the store for life nor charged with a felony misdemeanor. You won’t even be branded as an illegal shopper. I often wonder what might be racing through the minds of those who make a similar type daring dash through the wrong door.  How good can that possibly make you feel to regularly enter inappropriately? If you take an apparent short-cut by choosing the wrong door, it doesn’t hasten the work of shopping. Certainly, your exit, I mean entrance, doesn’t help to shrink your grocery list. Does it change the experience of pushing a cart around a series of packed aisles for 30 minutes? Does your decision alter the way you think about this necessary chore? Well, I’m sure you are not about to change this particular, peculiar habit. Since you are apparently enamored with this backward philosophy, how about you consider re-entering my “funtastic” world of exercise.

It has been a while since you’ve visited me for a good old-fashioned workout. That’s okay because I’m going to share a brief story of another of my students who similarly struggled with faithfully keeping his commitments. Upon his return, he would always profusely apologize for his behavior. He knew that I would never chastise him for his inconsistency. He had a ritual of sorts. He’d confess the error of his ways. He would verbally punish himself. Then, frequently, he’d say something thought-provoking, even profound. For example, one time after showing up following a two-week absence he said this: “If I could only come in through the exit, I’d never miss a training session.” He was speaking directly to the undeniable truths about exercise. That which he felt after completing our routine was always so wonderful that he wished he could keep it with him all of the time. If he could just find a way to hold on to that magical feeling derived from exercise, he swore an oath that he’d never again use any excuse to pass on a workout. To enter with that physical sensation and mental satisfaction of a job completed and well done was what he sought.  I’d like to attempt to make some sense of your deliberate act of confusing the role of the doors.

You need not arrive sweating profusely from every pore. Every muscle in your body needn’t be totally spent of energy. You don’t have to do your best “big bad wolf” imitation complete with the intense huffing and puffing. No, please don’t blow the door down. No matter what your day has been like, please, just enter. Enter with as positive an attitude as you can bring. Enter with a proper spirit. Enter with hope. Enter with trust. It is important that you understand this concept. You must diligently and appropriately seek after that attitude, that spirit, that hope, and that trust which will work a mighty change within you. Oh, it may not happen immediately. If it did, would anyone cease to be active? No, the glorious manifestation which you seek to make all things right, to make the hard things easy, and to usher in a time of unprecedented bliss is not at hand. Yet, this feeling whose companionship you dearly desire will surely come. “Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” As you sincerely apply the hope that is in your heart, the attitude in your mind, the spirit of truth and peace which encircles your whole being, and the trust you’ve come to strongly believe, that “after-glow” from your training session will last for more than just a fleeting moment. You may not ever be numbered among those who love working out, but you will share the same feeling that they carry with them from day to day.

So, are you coming or going? Whatever the case may be, there is good news. There is always a way out. A passageway which leads to a newer, more motivated you does exist. The entrance to a more wonderful existence does, in fact, require you to use the exit known as death. In this case, it’s the death of your old way of living. There is always a way in. You are welcome here no matter what your circumstances. Together we can figure out a proper exit strategy. By the way, running late does not qualify as exercise. It’s a stress-inducer. Rest assured, I won’t charge you for being late, although I may make you work harder. Perhaps, it would pay to enter properly and promptly. I know you can do it. But if not, just enter anyways. Better to be late then not come at all.

photo credit: Do Not Enter the Entrance via photopin (license)

How is Stress Affecting the Story of Your Life?

Have you been feeling the negative effects of stress from head to toe? Has it grown to become more than just that adorable little monkey on your back? Are you remotely curious to the point that you’ll listen to some counsel? “Sometimes you don’t feel the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.”–Unknown

Do you need a serious “wake-up” call before you take steps to reduce your unwanted burden? If you were to receive shocking news today that immediately and drastically changed the landscape of your life, what action would you take? How would you choose to spend your time if for the first time you were forced to contemplate the meaning of time and how many days you have remaining?“Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings.” —Thomas S. Monson  So, pause you must. Consider the day at hand. Yes, even today. Is it not loaded with countless opportunities? Would you not agree that it is chock-full of chances to do something wonderful and meaningful? Oh, I know that some bemoan that their days are already jammed with work, family, and other activities. These mistakenly believe there is no room available in their lives. They may as well carry a sign that reads “No Vacancy”. Deep down many desire something or someone who may help their lives to shine with a bright, new complexion. They may have even lost that loving feeling! There are those who despite the ever-present buzz of activity crave an injection which will fill their lives with greater purpose. “Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great.”–Chad Hymes  Some things must wait. Some must be set aside for a season in life. Some must be discarded completely. “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”–Karen Lamb

So, you may be wishing for a new lease on life. Perhaps, you simply do not know where to turn. Lacking sufficient knowledge, or direction, or the ability to discern the truth of things as they really are could present a stumbling block. But, don’t wait until you blow some blood vessels in your brain or your back breaks from your insanely demanding workload. “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it.”–Michael J. Fox  You’ve been stuck in neutral for far too long. A shift of perspective is called for if you are to extricate yourself from  the dangerous, cavernous rut. “Just because something isn’t happening for you right now doesn’t mean that it will never happen.”–Unknown  Do not assume that you are both helpless and hopeless. On the other hand, I suppose it might be sensible to remember that “just because you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”–George Carlin

Your objective moving forward is to make each day special. “I have found that rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness.”–Thomas S. Monson

In the world today, it is certainly  easy for the mundane to creep up on unsuspecting individuals. Lives become hijacked. You might be speeding down the runway every day or held up at the gate in a never-ending delay, but either way you are no longer in control of your journey. I have some practical suggestions. If applied, they may serve as a one-way ticket out of your predicament:

  1. Shrink your calendar. A “busy” body does not always produce a healthy body.
  2. Make changes that will be noticed. They are more likely to be lasting in nature.
  3. Live for yourself and your family. When someone says “You’ve changed.” It simply means you’ve stopped living your life their way.
  4. Become a peacemaker. Do not indulge in trivial battles over that which is entirely and eternally insignificant.
  5. Do not create drama. There’s only room for a few actors on your stage.
  6. Don’t hold grudges. They slowly poison you and your loved ones with their toxins.
  7. Don’t judge others. Every traveler in mortality carries baggage unseen by others.
  8. Learn to appreciate what you already have. Live on less and with less and you’ll live more fully.
  9. Live so as to always be ready, willing, and worthy of heavenly help.
  10. Do not fear. Only believe. Fear will add fuel to your stress. Faith will help you let it go.

“If you think of your life as a story, then you can think of any grief or stress you might be experiencing as just a few pages–and anyone can get through a few pages. You are the author of your own story, the illustrator of your own destiny. You choose the words and the lines that fill its pages.”–James A. Owen

Are You Moving at Cheetah Speed?

Would I be correct in my assertion that you are in a considerably more hurried state of mind than usual? I don’t believe that my eyes deceive me. Your confession isn’t unexpected. “I’m always in a rush to get somewhere no matter the season or the reason!” What does this perpetual racing mode say about your lifestyle? Are there any conclusions that one could draw from observing your behavior? Are you always running behind schedule? Do you suffer from the all too common ailment known as CPD, or chronic procrastination disorder? The typical rationalization for not addressing this serious condition includes the following: 1. You have way too many things which you absolutely need to do, and 2. There is never, ever enough time to complete your lengthy “to-do” list.

So, what is to be done? Is there a remedy for one such as you always in the fast-lane? I have a suggestion. Slow down! In fact, you need to stop! Isn’t it clear that the hustle and bustle of your daily activities is thrusting a tremendous amount of undesirable stress upon you? Please think about what you are actually doing to yourself. Neither your spirit, mind, nor body was designed to handle all the extra weight of your worldly concerns. What effect do you think your break-neck pace may be having on your family and friends? It is essential for your well-being that you begin to ponder the end result of all this chaos. This is not a game. The very last piece of advice that you might want to hear is what I’ve just recommended. You are always trying to push yourself harder and faster. Your entire universe revolves around speed. You’d like to make the jump from light speed to ludicrous speed. (See Mel Brook’s “Space Balls”) As detrimental as you believe that altering course and speed might be to your routine right now, for goodness sake, please use the emergency brake. Yes, the lever that reads “Never Use”. This is the time to do the unthinkable. You, my friend, are not unsinkable or indestructible. The damage done by immediately halting now will be nothing compared to what disastrous crash awaits you if you take no such measure.

Cheetah

In 2013, Ed Yong wrote about some interesting research which had been done on the running habits of the world’s fastest land animal. Alan Wilson from the Royal Veterinary College conducted the studies on the African cheetah. Most people are fascinated with this big cat because of its blazing speed. It can reach speeds of between 59 and 65 MPH! That’s some serious moving for sure. However, most of the time, even while dutifully engaged in their daily hunts, cheetahs rarely ever run as fast as they are capable. Alan Wilson observed that the average speed of these amazing creatures was just 33 MPH. This rate was actually only hit for one or two seconds during the course of their activity. Wilson hypothesizes that cheetahs don’t regularly push themselves to the extreme limits of their body’s capabilities in regards to the speed component in order to preserve their ability to use some of their more important skills. So, for cheetahs speed is not the most critical factor in their hunts. The research clearly showed that when cheetahs were successful in catching their prey they weren’t running any faster than when they botched their attempts. Not surprisingly, it is their unique maneuverability skill that really mattered most. To hunt very agile prey, like the Impala, cheetahs have to rely heavily upon their ability to dodge and weave.  This part of the chase is certainly more difficult to perform while moving at top speeds. Think about how much easier it is, not to mention safer, to turn your automobile at a mere twenty miles per hour as compared to sixty miles per hour. “If you want to catch something, you don’t want to go faster than you have to,” says Wilson.

So, what can you learn from these fun facts about your friendly, neighborhood cheetah? Plenty! Consider these life lessons:

  1. You will undoubtedly make better decisions when you slow down your pace. A clearer mind will be the result, and it will give way to inspiration and prioritization.
  2. Save some strength and energy for when it’s really necessary. Trust me. The time will come when you’ll need it.
  3. Despite seeming to defy logic and be totally counter-intuitive, your decision to pace yourself like the cheetah will prove beneficial. This will allow you to more readily tap into your own innate talents as they are required for specific tasks.
  4. Being able to successfully maneuver the quick turns that mortality can throw at you is important.
  5. Sometimes you will succeed when you are “hunting for something and sometimes you will not. Accepting this simple reality can mean that you’ll be less inclined to give up on the pursuit of noble goals.
  6. You don’t have to keep up with the cheetahs of the world. Find your own manageable pace and you’ll discover you’re more at peace.
  7. Don’t try to do that which is against nature. I dislike using the word impossible, but surely you must accept the truth that you cannot do everything. Did you know that cheetahs are the only big cat that doesn’t climb trees? I doubt that they stress out about this. So, rely on your strengths and do what you can. I implore you to ask for help when you need it.
  8. Speed kills. Your present pace will ultimately bite you as firmly as a cheetah’s jaws.
  9. “See that these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.” — (Mosiah4:27)

“Slow down, you move to fast. Got to make the morning last.”–Paul Simon, “The 59th Street Song” You certainly have deeds to do and promises to keep. Have faith that you will be feeling groovy and the good times will last if you but decide today to put an end to your racing. There will be more of life to love when everything is not a blur.

photo credit: Cheetah Run via photopin (license)

Click Once for You

Fotolia_42187727_webBusiness Insider reported that in the first quarter of 2014, 198 million U.S. consumers purchased something online, and that’s according to comScore’s quarterly State of Retail report. That translates to 78% of the U.S. population age 15 and above. With all of this purchasing power at your fingertips, let’s discuss your dream concept for a few moments. You’ve imagined how incredible it would be if you could order your workout online. According to your innovative idea, this is how it would work: You pay someone else to exercise for you.  I love this part. You are permitted to choose the individual who you would like to perform the work for you. Is it conceivable that you could peruse the profiles of exercise-aholics who are advertising their services? Well, apparently you seem to think that there would be a lengthy list of gym rats eager to connect with you for a price. Imagine all the options available at your fingertips. Click for an hour of Kick-boxing tonight. Click for 45 minutes of strength training tomorrow. Click for 30 minutes of treadmill work and 30 minutes of cycling the following day. Click on the option for viewing the workout in real-time. This is great, isn’t it. You can watch your guinea pig  sweat through a workout of your choice.

Of course, this only scratches the surface as exercise is but one of the components at the core of a more abundant life. Therefore, to combat your personal health and wellness woes we must expand your ingenious new approach. If you think an online physical fitness purchase is worth your time, then I suggest that you also click on the nutrition link. This will take you to a menu where, once again, you may pick a lucky winner who will eat a healthy D.I.E.T. for you. How could anyone pass on this? Is any price too steep to pay to enable another person to consume all of those vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, etc. that, frankly, you’d just rather pass on in favor of your current staples. Now you never have to worry about cheating on your D.I.E.T. With just a simple click, your concerns are a thing of the past. Let someone else carry your burden. If you’ve ever pondered what it would be like to adhere to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, now you can better understand how these, and a myriad of other ways to eat, affect the human body. Through the efforts of your health hero, that self-sacrificing saint who will do what you are unable or unwilling to do for yourself, you can see incredible results. The best part is that all of this is guaranteed.

But, there is more! Choose the amount of rest you would like your superman or woman to receive. Why not let someone else log those hours of zzz’s so that you can have more time in the day to do whatever you desire? This program is so awesome.  Your personal health account is credited with points for each order you place. When you accumulate a specified number of points, you’ll receive a special bonus. In fact, if you act right now, you’ll receive your first complimentary gift. Just place an order for one fitness routine, one meal, and one night’s sleep and you will get to choose one hour’s worth of relaxation or de-stressing for free! Yes, you heard that correctly. Free, zip, zero, nada! Who will be the beneficiary of your initial order? Give the gift of peace of mind or peace of conscience. Choose from meditation, reading, prayer, a massage, a bath in Epsom salts, a magnetic therapy session, a dip in a hot tub/whirlpool just to name a few. Does it get any better than this?

As fun as it may be for a brief moment to have a laugh concerning some futuristic, hands-off health program, let’s be honest. A commitment is required. With your head, your heart, and your whole soul, you must be “all in” with this one. “Seek the wisdom that will untie the knot. Seek the path that demands your whole being.”--Rumi  In the end, nothing less will satisfy your deepest longing for a real and lasting transformation. No mortal man or woman can voluntarily perform a vicarious act on your behalf that would meet the requirements necessary for your happiness. No sacrifice or benevolent gesture by a hired participant can pay the price that you alone must offer up for the salvation of your body. No trainer or hand-picked substitute from a line-up on a crazy website can do the work for you. To cleanse yourself of past health transgressions, there will be suffering involved. But, in the grand scheme of things, you’ll see that the pain is part of your growth. “Always be a work in progress.”–Emily Lillian   This takes time. Yet with faith, you can repent of your wellness misdeeds and come unto a newness of life. Yes, you must be born again! Marvel not that this is so. “Change starts with you. But, it doesn’t start until you do.”–Zig Ziglar   Once you begin, everything can start clicking!  Perhaps, you want to start by purchasing a new workout outfit or two. Maybe, you will decide it’s time to place that food order. How about a new pillow or mattress? Well, as one of the millions who shop online, you know what to do. Just, click it and the fun begins!