Tag Archives: lifestyle

Confidence Unveiled: Physical Identity

WDYT or FOFO???

Let’s remove some veils before we smother.

We are living in a culture of extremes that glorifies the smallest to the biggest of sizes.

We are either obsessing with appearance (WDYT) or settling with health (FOFO). And, because we’re at one extreme or the other, we usually “weigh in” with either pride or despair….

Can anyone relate?

In the event you don’t think I’m reality based, here are recent facts to substantiate:

  1.  1 in 2 deaths in the U.S. is due to lifestyle choices.
  2.  Plastic surgery apps on your phone now make it possible to cut yourself to a smaller size before posting onto social media.

 

 

We listen to the voices of culture that begin to play inside our minds creating thick, internal veils….

“I’ll never measure up.”

“What good does it do to take care of myself? I’ll die of something…”

Culture sways…Satan speaks….We hit “Play” and our Identity is Taken Away!

Whenever you compare yourself to others, you’re actually lowering your standard because you’re one of a kind…the unique combination of your physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual components that make up YOU in totality.

Let’s offer some HOPE, shall we?

What would it be like to approach each new day with the following mindset….

“What can I do today to care for my body?”

“How can I eat properly so my body and mind are nurtured well?”

“How can I work my body to keep it strong and active?”

“How can I appreciate (and even like!) the one body God gave me?” (Psalm 139)

“How can I use this body to fulfill God’s earthly mission since it’s the vessel He has given me to accomplish my daily tasks?”

A healthy balance is to take pride in your appearance without being prideful.

A healthy balance is to be proactive with your health, especially if you know your medical history.

The question ISN”T “Why Do I?”…. The question IS “Why Wouldn’t I?”

Two points to offer hope:

  1. Selectively focus on the traits you DO you like when you gaze in the mirror!
  2. Focus on what you’ve got; stop trying to look like someone you’re not!

Remove those veils of obsessing and settling and UNVEIL some confidence today.

 

 

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Why the Ball Drops on Your Intentions

Ever wonder why you have great intentions at the new year and THEN the ball drops? You just need to be a little “S.M.A.R.T” – er.

This formula will help you get on track in any area of your life as you contemplate changes for the new year

S. = Specific

Be specific with what you want during the new year. Most of the time, the ball drops because you are too general with your intentions.

If you want to find balance, then be specific with scheduling. “For an hour a day, I will use 15 minutes to workout, 15 minutes to have quality conversation with someone I love, 15 minutes to decompress after a stressful day, or 15 minutes to have quiet time.”

For weight loss, be specific: “I want to lose 10 pounds.”

M. = Measurable

What tool will you use to measure your progress? A planner? A scale? An iPad? An app?

A. = Achievable

Many times a goal isn’t reached because it’s too big. Start with what IS achievable.  If you have no exercise routine at all, then just start with scheduling time for what you DO have.

R. = Reward

Most S.M.A.R.T. models utilize this as the “realistic” component.  I will insert “REWARD” here as a means to positively reinforce a new behavior.  The best incentive is to reward yourself weekly for having met a goal for just that week. Mind you, not with unhealthy food if your goal is to eat better or lose weight!

T. = Time

Give yourself a timetable for reaching your goal.  If you don’t, it’s easy for the goal to be dropped as fast as the new year’s ball.

 

 

 

Anxious Living: “L” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

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The “L” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y. represents three concepts:

  • Lean
  • Learn
  • Limit

LEAN

The first concept, LEAN, encourages you to lean in to that of which you are fearful or stressed.  For instance, if a grieving spouse refuses to return to a restaurant where he/she dined frequently with their mate because they are fearful or stressed about the emotions that will be evoked, it is recommended that the person lean in and “tackle” the challenge.  The scientific reasoning? Because if they don’t, they are easily setting themselves up for what is called “avoidance reinforcement.”  This occurs when the act of avoiding is actually reinforcing, or rewarding, staying away.

Ask yourself this question:  What are you avoiding that causing stress?

LEARN

Second, LEARN a new hobby (see above).  Chalk painting is relatively new for me!  These projects were therapeutic, fun, and added a touch of refreshment to a traditional style. What would you like to learn?  How to play piano? Take ballroom dancing?  All of these things are stress relievers.

In addition, if you’re in a time of stress, make the choice to pay it forward in the future for a friend.  Drop the pride and resolve to be authentic with those it can help! The whole world doesn’t need to know what you may consider sensitive information about yourself or family, but just remember, it’s only for those to whom God has brought your way that your words of encouragement will mean more than what anyone else could possibly tender.  Why? Because you’ve traveled the same path they are on now!

Ask yourself this question: What hobby can you learn? Who can you encourage?

LIMIT

The last concept, LIMIT, is simple but hard to implement, especially in American culture.  Here it is:  LEARN to say NO.  You can’t do everything (pride), and neither can your children.  Limit your responsibilities and theirs as well.

I’ve commented to Millennials – my own, my clients, my friends’ kids – that they struggle with boundaries because they have grown up in a world where they are almost nonexistent.  To say “no” is much harder for them than it sometimes is for us.  And technology doesn’t help the cause – for anyone.

Ask yourself this question: What do you need to say “no” to today?

Start being a personal manager of the stress in your life.  Yes, you DO have a choice. Lean, Learn, and Limit.  And when you do, you’ll have time to pick up that new hobby and relax!

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

Anxious Living: “I” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

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The “I” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y. stands for individuality, just like this Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s one of a kind.  And so are you.

Things that stress you may or may not stress others.  In other words, stressors, to some degree, are individualist.  How you cope with these stressors is also unique.  Here are some questions to think about

  • When you think back to a challenging time, what personal traits strengths pulled   you through?
  • What kind of coping skills did you implement?
  • Have you ever thought about what your strengths are?

To get started, consider the following:

Take a strengths test.  Strengths Finder 2.0 is a quick online assessment (you will have to purchase the book to get a code inside the back cover).  Another excellent website with a variety of assessments is http://www.authentichappiness.com.  An array of assessments – in varying lengths – can confirm your strengths.

Why is knowing your strengths so important?  Because these assessments clearly identify your strengths so you can celebrate and utilize them as much as possible to buffer stress.  If you get in the habit of incorporating these strengths into your everyday life, it will be a natural tendency to employ them while a challenging stressor, acute or chronic, occurs.

Choose positive behaviors. Ever heard the phrase, “Don’t trouble your trouble?”  If you’re in the midst of an ongoing life “storm,” the LAST THING YOU NEED is to compound it with bad choices.  Some examples include:  overeating, shopping to extreme, alcohol, sex without boundaries, addictions of ANY KIND,  and the list continues.  If you are choosing any of these behaviors by default mode, STOP.  Get to the root of what’s really going on.  These behaviors are only a symptom of something deeper….

Start by choosing healthy behaviors to replace the bad ones.  Think of hobbies too! This is a lead in to my next suggestion:

Create a Top 10 List. In my book, Change Unveiled, I title this chapter “FUN,” but it’s really addressing healthy behaviors that are good for you that become your “go to” lifestyle choices to relieve stress.  Think creatively.  Here are some of mine:  reading, music, writing, sitting in the sun…..

If you’d like additional reading for self-discovery, I high recommend John Ortberg’s book entitled, The Me I Want To Be.

“LEAN IN” to who you are and go for it. Your strengths will keep you standing firm instead of crashing down during a time of stress.

This is Hope Unveiled!

*My book for women, entitled “Change Unveiled: Hope for Positive Choices,” is available on Amazon and Kindle.

 

 

 

Anxious Living: “E” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

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R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y. = “E”

Reality check:  As a kid growing up, I hated P.E. class as much as I did math class.  In college, I was praying to survive the basic mile and a half within the time allowed so as to “Pass” the class – a freshman course that I waited to take until my senior year – to meet graduation requirements.

Thankfully, being athletic and being fit are not synonymous.

My lifestyle change came while my husband was in graduate school.  I needed something to do while he studied, so I found time on my hands for Jane Fonda’s workout routine (Don’t do the math!).

Why is exercise so important?

Recent neurobiology has discovered that a 10-20 minute brisk walk reduces stress.  How is it possible to know this?  Measuring cortisol and performing brain scans.  What is cortisol?  It’s an essential hormone in our body, but when we are under stress, our bodies produce too much.

Exercise is a MUST if you are in a season of crisis (acute) or daily (chronic) stress (e.g. caregiving, etc.). Why? Because your body is a “trap” for the extra load you are carrying.

Don’t know how to start? Set a realistic goal for yourself.  Just start!  If you’re used to no exercise, just get active.  Go for a walk. Gradually increase your pace.  Just start where you are with what you CAN do, not what you can’t.  For instance, if you’re not used to any activity, set a goal to do something for 3 days in the first week.  At the end of the week, reward yourself (this positively reinforces a new habit which you are cultivating).  Don’t reward yourself with food, but something like purchasing a book, getting a manicure, time with friends, etc.

It takes a good solid 21 days or so to begin a new habit or lifestyle change.  So here are some pointers to get you started:

Use this formula to begin:  “BFF”

  • B = no more “buts” (“But I don’t have time….”).
  • F = enlist a friend.
  • F = do something fun as a reward.

When you think about it, exercise really is your Best. Friend. Forever.

You will be well on your way to incorporating activity into your life that will only benefit you physically and emotionally (exercise increases the production of serotonin which combats depression).

Just start.  Don’t wait for a better time.  Today is the BEST time.

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

Anxious Living: Burdened by Worry

What’s the difference between young adults and their parents?  For the former, they carry backpacks half their body weight, while those carried by the latter are invisible. Regardless of age, every person can carry too much.

Let’s make some distinctions.

First, fear can be a positive thing.  It signals our sympathetic nervous system that something is wrong.  It can motivate us to get our of harm’s way.

Fear can become a problem when it leads to anxiety and you are afraid of things that aren’t real, or when the feeling of fear is out of proportion to the real danger present.

Anxiety is more akin to worry, and can be aroused by a number of factors: medical conditions (lack of sleep or a blood sugar imbalance); role modeling from parents; trauma; lifestyle.

Another distinction is that fear can be looked at as imminent, while anxiety can be completely anticipatory.

From neurobiological and faith stances, here are life coaching tools for dealing with anxious worry:

NEUROSCIENCE

What triggers your worry? Write it down! Notice the situation, the people, the feelings.  Discuss with a life coach or professional.

Worry Box: write down what you’re worried about on a small sheet of paper.  Worry worry worry for 15 minutes.  That’s right.  Then when 15 minutes is up, put the “worry sheet” in the box and be done with it.  Your brain will naturally drift to another topic.

Before going to sleep at night, journal your specific worries with a pen and paper.  Don’t use your laptop, as blue light from devices interferes with sleep quality (cease usage at least 1.5 hours before going to bed).

FAITH

“Cast your burden on the Lord….” (Psalm 55:22).

Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost devotion for today states that God doesn’t lift our worrisome burdens because He wants to see if we will give it back to Him.

Why? He desires that you live intentionally and take responsibility for your faith journey.  And how you manage worry is also an integral part of your spiritual life.

Here is a formula I’ve developed based on Chambers’ devotion:

  1. Release
  2. Roll back
  3. Relish

Release the worry through prayer.  This is what “casting your burden” looks like.  It requires action on your part.

Roll back and hand over the worry to Him.  This is the implication of this verse.  When you do this, it leads to item #3….

Relish His presence.  You have now invited Him into the everyday details that weigh you down, visible or invisible.

Hand over the backpack of worry.  You were never meant to carry it.

 

**This blog post is not a substitute for anxiety disorders or phobias.  Please seek professional counseling. You don’t have to keep living under the burden of anxiety. You have options.

This is HopeUnveiled.

 

ANXIOUS LIVING

Here are the top three death-bed regrets:

  1. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
  2. “I wish I had stayed more in touch with my friends.”
  3. “I wish I had lived a life truer to my dreams instead of what others expected of me.”

How do you feel when you read each of these statements?  Do any or all of them describe your current situation? On a Likert Scale of 1-5, how would you rate yourself for each sentence, with “1” being “Doesn’t describe me at all” to “5” being “Describes me accurately?”

Stress management addresses these issues and more.  Why?  Because all actions and behaviors are a result of unspoken beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, and automatic thoughts about how you believe life is to operate.  These beliefs are rarely questioned.  And when they are, it is because an event of some kind has caused you to stop and evaluate.

Unfortunately, American culture doesn’t work in your favor.  Take a trip to Europe and notice the cultural differences.  Dinners last at least a couple of hours.   Real dinners.  Real food.  Real friendships.  Real family time.  Real connections.  And yet you are surprised when these things you need and crave the most are within your control to change and yet you do nothing.

Take the first step.  Be honest about whether any of the above statements apply to you.  And be encouraged with this very important fact:  If you’re reading this post, you have time to make changes in your life.  Start today!

The next blog post will address how to start making changes that will change up how you’re “doing” life.