It is midway through December. The Christmas tree is up, and that combined with the smell of pine and fallen leaves outside the house has me in a nostalgic mood. It has me thinking about the past year. God, so much has changed. This time last year, I lived in Kailua, the most gorgeous place on the planet. I dare you to tell me different. I lived a mile away from a beautiful beach. My best friends lived in walking distance from me. On a Saturday morning I had a dozen people I could call at the drop of a hat to invite to a last minute hike or walk on the beach. I knew my neighbors, and I had healthy, active people surrounding me. I could walk to Crossfit and my work was a mere 15 minutes away.
Why then does it feel so right that I’ve moved to this out of the way place, where we are surrounded by squirrels, deer, bugs and birds? Where Walmart is the best option for produce? Where the beach (which in no way compares to Kailua) is a half hour drive away? Where we are afraid to let our dogs run loose because they might get eaten by alligators or snatched up by large predatory birds?
One major answer is family. I am missing my best friends like hell, and I am going to have to figure out how to visit soon, but now I feel like I live on the same planet as my family. When I call them in the morning, it is also morning for them. I don’t get the news 6 hours later than they do. I saw my family and Nathan’s family in July. Then I drove to New York for Thanksgiving. Twice. I am going to see
them again over the Christmas break. I think Nathan said it most eloquently when we spoke of it in the car the other night. He said, “This last time we drove away from the house, I was sad, because I would miss them, but I wasn’t thinking Is this the last time I am going to see them?”
How shitty is that question? This is why I moved from Hawaii. If someone in my family gets sick, or a family member gets married, or a family member has a baby, those things matter to me. And living in Hawaii, you start to question whether you can afford to go see them. That’s screwed up. My mother-in-law had a liver transplant. My sister-in-law gave her half of her own liver. That’s freaking amazing. And when we got married, they couldn’t come to Hawaii, because traveling when you’ve gotten a liver transplant is pretty freaking difficult, especially at first. That sucked. Big time.
Living so close feels amazing. I feel like I am getting to know them again. And it’s not like I didn’t talk to my siblings or my parents. We kept and still do keep up a pretty good conversation via facebook
and email and I was able to have Skype conversations with them on most of the holidays over the years.
But, let’s be honest. It’s not the same. It’s not the same as trying to sleep on the top bunk at your parents’ house when your oldest sister is sleeping on the bottom bunk and you’ve got years of catching up to do. It’s not the same as being able to clear your crap out of your parents’ house for them. It’s not the same as having a cup of coffee with them across the island in the kitchen or building a bonfire or playing Pandemic or talking about the Dragonriders of Pern books or simply being in their presence. It’s not the same as spending time with your nieces and nephews and the dogs. And it’s definitely not the same as being able to give them a hug.
I feel like I missed a lot over the years, but at the same time, I grew up in Hawaii. I became a big girl there. I learned how to be a kind, loving, healthy, individual. I learned how to love myself and I found friends there that became my family.
So how, in 2016 do I find what I had in Hawaii (not the beaches, but the friends and the lifestyle) and stay close to my family? How do I find that connection somewhere close enough to New York?
I haven’t found the answer yet. My husband and I are looking for employment possibly near Asheville, NC or in Colorado. I need to find a group of people who are interested in health and wellness like I am. We need to find a place that doesn’t have an undercurrent of discrimination. And I need a place to be able to hike and work out, but this place can’t cost as much as Hawaii did. I refuse to be a slave to the price of a plane ticket home.
Any ideas? Comment below! Where do you think the best place to live is?
According to Wikipedia “An experiment is an orderly procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, refuting, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Controlled experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated. Controlled experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results.”
As a species, us human beings have come quite far from the hunter-gatherer caveman. Technology today makes it possible that a person could live out there entire lives without moving more than a few feet throughout the entire day. You can work from home, over the phone or internet, you can call someone to deliver your food, you can pay with a credit card number instead of cash, entertain yourself through TV and the internet, date online, chat with friends, go to school, you can basically do everything. Right now, the only thing I can think of that you would have to move for, is to use the bathroom. And that’s only because robot-automatic-bed-toilets haven’t been made popular yet.
How did we get to such a point? How have our inventions come so far? In order to continue to advance our technology, we must begin with previous knowledge and inventions. An app creator today doesn’t first have to invent a computer and the internet and he doesn’t have to be fluent in code. That pool of knowledge already exists. Someone else, with their hard work and toil has lay the groundwork for the next person to build upon.
This goes for any how-to these days. We have to accept a certain amount of knowledge that we build on. This is awesome in many cases. Cell phones, facebook, medical technology- these wouldn’t exist unless we could build on something that was already there.
Up until a few years ago, I wouldn’t have said there was anything to worry about. But then I started to realize that in some areas of my life I was trusting too much to the “experts” that had done the legwork for me in previous years. As a child I was very trusting. A rule was a rule. If an adult said it out loud, then it had to be true. What I didn’t realize as a child was that adults are just leaning on what they learned from the adults in their life and on and on and on. The problem comes in when a generally accepted piece of information is actually not true. When that groundwork is not stable, everything built on it can come crashing down. And it was making me sick and fat.
For the longest time I relied on conventional wisdom to get me through. It was after dieting for my wedding in 2007 that I started to realize that conventional wisdom might be wrong. For a full year I had restricted calories and fat and exercised 6-7 days a week like the Heart Association recommended. I ultimately lost the weight I wanted to- and I looked great in my dress. But I didn’t feel healthy. I should have been the healthiest I had ever been. I should have been strong and have tons of energy and feel great. But I didn’t. I was exhausted. The ADD I have struggled with all my life was full force. My already thin hair was falling out. I was unhappy at work and I had depression and anxiety constantly creeping in. I had injuries that wouldn’t really go away.
I knew that this was not the way it was supposed to be, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I was following the mainstream advice on how to be healthy. It wasn’t until years later that I finally went to a therapist, and started to really do the mental work that I needed to. At first, I just started to google my symptoms. And more and more the answers that made the most sense were popping up in unconventional sites. People like Mark Sisson and Dr. Mercola, which the mainstream would laugh at, were giving me answers that given a try would actually work. Those sites started to really intrigue me. They might not have been popular or followed in the circles that I was used to, but they were very popular according to the number of followers they had.
Cautiously I allowed the thought that these oddballs might be on to something. And I started to test things out on my own. And I found that a lot of things I had been taught were just wrong. Some were just a little off, like how much red meat you should include in your diet and some were just plain backwards, like how much fat and calories and grains you need to eat. At the time I was focused mainly on nutrition/exercise information. I had always thought that I was knowledgeable in this area and I was intrigued that maybe some of the adults in my life had been wrong. I certainly took my time before I started living what I now call “an experimental life,” but finally, in January 2010 I started my first Paleo challenge. Paleo really went against a lot of the conventional wisdom on diets. There was NO SUGAR allowed. It wasn’t about everything in moderation. It was adding in fats. Cutting out all grains, even the brown stuff. No soy. No corn. Previous to this challenge I wouldn’t believe that this could be healthy for me. But I was floored. I lost weight fast. And I was so energetic and strong.
Ever since I figured out that it was possible that the experts I had been listening to might be wrong, I started to research everything. I decided that I will no longer rely solely on someone else’s opinion for advice. I will research multiple sources and then I will do an “n=1 experiment” (just means that I am the only research test subject). I will no longer trust commercials or my local news to tell me how to be healthy. Instead I will try things that I research and I will listen to my body.
Some recent examples in the physical health part of my life include eating way more fats. I used to think this would kill me. Turns out it does not make me fat and my arteries are doing well. I don’t eat very much dairy at all. Sometimes I have grassfed mozzarella cheese on my omelettes, because it’s something I love. Do I get enough calcium? Yes. There is plenty of calcium and other wonderful minerals in green leafy vegetables it turns out. My bones have yet to snap and crumble into dust. I do not eat grains most of the time (for health reasons, man do I love bread, so I have it sometimes). According the USDAs guidelines I should be quite undernourished since I never eat brown rice or pasta. I don’t eat quinoa, I don’t eat crackers, I don’t even eat beans. Removing grains and beans for me reduces the amount of bloat I carry around my belly line and the best part is how my mind- my actual clarity of thinking- has improved. I also don’t try to work out for an hour every day. I do crossfit 3 times a week and I walk my dogs. My dogs don’t walk very far, so it’s mostly just crossfit. It’s intense, but there’s very little cardio, except on random days when the WOD includes running. Has my body become a puddle of fat? Have my muscles withered away? Or do I have massive man muscles from all of the lifting? None of that. If I do say so myself, I look pretty darn good.
In my career life, the experimental life has also helped me immensely. For many years I spent a lot of time thinking that if I did certain things, then surely I would be immediately tarred and feathered and then promptly terminated. The past couple of years I tested out the theory that if I did my job really well, and then blurred the other lines a bit, maybe no one would care. The truth is, they don’t. I made sure I showed up for the important stuff. I did therapy, made sure the important paperwork was done well. I helped kids get better and I helped families feel better and healthier. And I often went in late and left early. Unless there was an early meeting or a late one. I would be on point and on time for those. I didn’t want to be lazy, I just didn’t want to waste my time or anyone else’s by sitting around in the office when there was nothing to do. So I tested it out. Not one complaint. Ever. If there had been a complaint, if it had been rubbing somebody the wrong way or something wasn’t getting done because of my behavior, I would have changed back to being promptly on time immediately. But it turns out, people like it when you do your job well and are super happy.
And there’s so many more examples in my life, where being brave enough to test out “common knowledge” in my own life has freed me from unnecessary guilt, and work, and pain.
Tell me, are you willing to experiment in your own life? If you discovered you didn’t have to do it, what is one thing that you would stop doing today? Comment below! I would love to hear it!
December is my second favorite month of the year. July wins out because that is my birthday month, so it is full of celebration. But December is close on its heels. I love December for many reasons: there’s the holiday celebrations, the holiday food, the holiday music, and the gracious attitude that people seem to adopt as they count the days to Christmas. But my favorite part of the month is its representation of the end of the year. Over the last few years it has become a time for me to reflect on the past year and think about the next. It gives me a chance to look at all of the challenges that I went through and to congratulate myself for the successes. And it is a time for me to prepare for my New Year’s Goals.
How many New Year’s Goals have you successfully made and kept throughout the year? For the majority of the population most goals are dropped by February and completely forgotten about by March. Health clubs go through a ginormous spike in memberships during December and January. And more than half of those people stop showing up a few months later. Why is this? People are usually VERY motivated at first. They get the membership. They buy the outfits. They research the diets. They get the nicotine patch. They bite the bullet and look at their finances. They stop buying things they don’t need. They buy the Spanish Rosetta Stone. They spend more time with family and friends. But soon enough the motivation goes out the door.
I believe that we do not spend the time we should on figuring out WHY we want to reach the goals we choose. We pick lofty goals that sound great, but when our desired outcome is superficial, or we’re trying to please someone else, we tend to lose motivation. Want to lose weight? Why? Want to get out of debt? Why? Want to stop smoking? Why?
If you can’t answer the question, you are likely to be one of the millions of people who drop their New Year’s Goals. And if you answered that you just want to stop smoking because other people tell you it’s a good idea, your chances of following through are pretty slim. But if you desire to stop smoking because you have a new baby in the house and you want to feel energetic enough to play with her, or you want to protect him by keeping second hand smoke away, now those are more likely to push you through the year.
So what if you can’t answer the why or you’ve just figured out you have no motivation past pleasing your spouse? Journaling is my first recommendation for most problems. The process of writing helps you get clear on what you perceive the problem to be, and helps slow down your thinking when it comes to solutions. You can also go back and look at your writing if you lose motivation or need to remember something you’ve forgotten. For those who don’t like writing, drawing a picture, cutting out pictures, or recording voice memos can be helpful as well. Here’s some journal exercises that I have done over the years to get really focused on my goals and helped me follow through.
Write down what you think your goals should be. Then ask yourself the question, “Why?” and write the answer. Continue to ask yourself a few times until you feel like you’ve really gotten to the answer. An example- “I want to stop drinking.” Why? “Because I have gained weight and been less motivated to do work.” Why? “Because I feel unhealthy.” Why? “My wife is unhappy with me.” Why? “Because I feel unhealthy and I’m not taking care of myself.” Why? “I want to feel healthy and take care of myself.” Why? “Because I want to be healthy enough to take care of myself and take care of my wife.”- Now there’s motivation to stop drinking.
Write down previous goals that you have made in the past. Free write about any challenges or successes you had while meeting those goals.
Write out your fantasy life. Write how everything would be different if you met your goal. All of the things you would be able to do, places you’d be able to go, or things you’d be able to have. Get precise and specific.
Now that you’ve gone a little deeper with your goals, it’s time to evaluate if they need to be rewritten. Continuing with the example above, wanting to stop smoking because of the new baby in the house, maybe you realize that it’s not just about cigarettes. You want to feel energetic enough to play with your baby and keep both of you healthy. Quitting smoking might only be a part of this goal. Writing your goal in a more positive frame will help keep you on the right track, even when things get hard. Your new goal might be “By February I will be able to have the energy to spend at least 8 hours with the baby.” Framing your goal in this way might help you make decisions not just about smoking, but about exercise and healthy eating as well. And if you give in and have a cigarette, you have not “failed your goal.” You don’t have to give up. You have the motivation of spending time with your baby to keep trying.
What goals do you have for the New Year? What is the motivation behind it? How will you keep the motivation to make it all the way through to December 2014? Comment below!