You are a leader. You are ambitious, and you are busy. The truth is, it's rewarding. It feels good to be successful!
However, when we begin to forget the other parts of who we are, your career can become unhealthy. What happens when you keep falling off the wagon when it comes to your health? When you make changes for a while, but just can't seem to sustain them?
It is hard to admit that the thing we prize most about our life - our successful career and the accolades that come with it - may be the exact thing that is disrupting our achievement and success in our health.
I know, as a fellow member of the Very Ambitious Person Society, that it can be really hard to think that I can't control or succeed at something that I am putting my mind toward. Really hard!
I want to let you know first and foremost - if you are not succeeding in health - it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH WILLPOWER!
There are a whole bunch of reasons why it has nothing to do with willpower... the primary reason is because willpower is finite and we use it up during the day so it will never work. Other reasons include circadian rhythms that make us lose our inhibitions when the sun goes down, which is why we always end up overeating at night (among other things we do without inhibition), and also because of hormones.
Hormones get their own paragraph. I'd give them their own article, but my business coach tells me they are too boring! Our hormones are in charge. It doesn't matter what we think or tell ourselves, in the end we do what our hormones tell us to do -- not what our brains are saying. Things that cause our hormones to hijack our actions: stress, emotional triggers (like a fight or a rough day), stress, age, stress, monthly changes, stress, sugar, stress, poor diet, stress, caffeine, and... did I mention stress?
If you are ready to take charge of your health a different way, then I have the answer. It all starts with aligning our actions with our values. If you really truly desire to reach and maintain your body's ideal natural weight, then it is time to prioritize it. This is the part where you pull that thread and see where it leads you. The actions you need to take are not the same as the ones I need to take or any of my other clients need to take.
Finding the middle ground seems elusive in the beginning, because we aren't used to taking it. Lots of my clients tell me they really don't know what the middle ground would be. That applies with clients who are looking to give up the dieting mindset (of deprivation as the only way to lose weight) as well as create sustainable exercise patterns (not going hard for 6 weeks... then quitting). No matter what your middle ground is, if you are used to going "all in" it can be hard to figure out how to do something else... something that may feel like "not enough" but in reality is exactly the answer that will allow you to succeed! We have to carve new neural pathways to do this. The steps are simple, though not always easy.
I always approach things by focusing on practical steps you can take right now - using smart scheduling (and, OK, a teeny tiny bit of willpower - just in the beginning!) I couple this logistical side, or "pre-planning" as I call it, with the emotional/spiritual/hormonal/stress detangling.
So as we figure out what your emotional/spiritual/hormonal/stress triggers are and eliminate them from the source, you sustain yourself with the pre-planning, and eventually these meet in the middle... Yes! That is the middle ground that we are looking for!
And it is from this middle ground that you really can achieve your ambitions in both career and health, without sacrificing one for the other, but truly having it all!
Balancing being the primary caregiver and growing a business and writing books is, well... it's tough to say the least.
Identify Your Needs
I've realized lately that I NEED time to be focused and productive. It is the reason I started a business in the first place! But even though I knew that was behind starting a business, I see that the opportunity to do my work in a focused, UNinterrupted environment is really a core need I have... and one having young kids who are only in school part of the day really impedes upon!
I struggle with how best to use my childfree time... do I take care of myself? Do I run errands (that are way easier on my own of course)? Do I try to buckle down and get my work done?
And of course, when I'm talking about just a few hours per day, those hours go FAST!!! Just making sure I exercise take up a third of that time!!! And, exercise, I've come to realize, is also a non-negotiable!!!
Of course as someone who has a lot of ambition for both my family and my business..and my self! It is really hard to take care of all three to the level that I desire.
Oh, especially without cutting into my sleep!!!!!!
Yes, it's complicated.
Observe How Things Affect You
I definitely don't have all the answers. What I find is that I can only do some of those at once.
There are time I cut into my sleep, and then realize that makes me feel shitty.
There are times I quit exercising, and then realize that makes me feel shitty.
There are times I do not focus on work, and then realize that makes me feel shitty
There are time I don't do self care, and then realize that makes me feel shitty!
The best plan I have right now is to let go of the crap I really don't care about - no clean house, no fancy meals - just tried and true recipes, no big parties. (Don't get me wrong... I LOVE PARTIES!!! I just have to put hosting them on hold for a while... I do a pool party once a year in the summer, and that is easy since all everyone does is hang out by the pool, but otherwise, they have been temporarily arrested.)
And then, honestly, I cycle through my other priorities... so I don't ignore one area entirely, I just give it up a little until I need to bring it back.
I walk instead of doing classes (until I crave the strength and yoga).
I work less (until I want to work more).
I eat cheese and crackers and carrots and dip (until I need something more grown up).
I stay up a bit too late (until I get crabby and go to bed earlier).
Well, you get the idea!
And Reality Check...
I know this isn't necessarily the most inspiring approach, but it's the most realistic. Sometimes we just need a reality check. There is so much bullshit out there about how you can have it all...and I think you can. But you can't necessarily have it all at one time, and that's ok.
Enjoy the Ebb and Flow
It's actually one reason why writing my books has been so awesome for me right now! I love the cycle of book writing. I do the writing - that usually comes in bursts of inspiration and the journals are usually written in a week or two! (My longer books sometimes come in several periods of inspiration spread out over time.)
Then, there is a period of handing a lot of work over to others... that feels great! The content is written, and it starts to transform into an actual book with the help of others!
Then the tedious finalization... I look forward to someday outsourcing this, but for now I want to have the final say so I have to be part of the last steps :)
Then... the launch! This gets exciting again and so I'm re-energized!!!
Then... time to rest... before I take on another project :)
There are many ways to overcome sugar addiction. However, they can be broken into two categories: Physical and Mental. (Or maybe Logistical and Emotional.)
1. Physical/Logistical - These are easier changes to make.
Remove hidden sugars from your diet.
Check sauces, breads, all breakfast items, all snacks, pretty much all prepared foods. Compare ingredients across multiple options, and choose the one with the least sugar, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, a short ingredient list. If you simple check the grams of sugar you will almost for sure be buying something with worse ingredients.
Look for ways to replace, reduce, or remove things that are intentionally sweet.
Do you put sugar in your coffee? Cut it in half, then cut it in half, then cut it in half, until it is not very sweet, or, if you still like the taste, not sweet at all.
Do you like something sweet after dinner? Find out if you can have some slices of fruit instead of ice cream. Or, like the coffee, start with a plate that is half fruit and half ice cream, then reduce the ice cream further, then substitute sweetened yogurt, then move to unsweetened yogurt.
2. Mental/Emotional - These are all the things that make it seem impossible to do the changes I've described above.
These are the days you feel so stressed out and overwhelmed you pull out the whole tub of ice cream and eat it straight from the carton.
These are the moments when you sit in front of the TV after a long day and suddenly the entire box of Chinese take out has disappeared.
These are the afternoons when you just can't make it without a giant latte or chocolate bar; this is what gets you through the day.
This is the part of the equation when you tell yourself you're going to change... and you don't.
This is the struggle of deciding to stop, and then you can only think about the thing you are stopping. And when you finally "give in" you eat three times as much.
Some people can just decide to do the physical changes and they are done. For other of us, including me, the mental changes MUST be addressed to lay the foundation for the physical changes to succeed.
The mental changes are addressing the problem behind the sugar. The problem behind the sugar may or may not be known to you. The problem behind the sugar may or may not be clear when you think about it. You can begin by looking backward over the past week and thinking about what PRECEDED the sugar binge or failure to stick to your resolution.
Bad day? Fight with the spouse? Kids going crazy?
Horrible boss? Lonely? Bored? Angry? Tired? Annoyed?
If you don't know, or you do know, but still can't seem to make headway, then you should seek support - read, ask a friend, find a professional, whatever it is that helps you find a clear path and system to address the problem behind the sugar.
I am a certified health coach. And I hired a health coach!
I have struggled with neck pain for many years. Before my children were born it was only occasional and infrequent. But after my second son was born, I became debilitated by the pain. I could barely move! I could not carry my child in my arms!
So I went to physical therapy, and learned about the upper back weakness that I had, for years, was then exasperated by two pregnancies, hormones, and babies. Physical therapy helped, but it is slow work to retrain years worth of habits.
And of course getting childcare, driving to physical therapy, sitting around in wait room for 15 minutes, getting 20 minutes of physical therapy, driving home again, paying babysitter...well, I can't do that 2 times a week forever. Or really for very long at all.
So I went for a while and then focused on making those habitual changes at home. Which works, but of course is still slow.
Then I began to get headaches. And I thought it might be related, or might be dehydration... but I didn't feel I needed a doctor. They were mild. And I didn't want the commitment of physical therapy again.
I ignored the pain for a while, hoping it would go away. But I knew, especially as a health coach, that ignoring pain is ignoring important information that my body is trying to tell me.
I thought to myself "I just want someone to help me figure this out."
And then--- SMH!
I realized I needed what I help people do. I needed a health coach!!!
So I found one! And she was super helpful! And since we had the same training, she told me to do many of the things I do with my clients. I kept a journal of various factors, I reflected upon it with her.
But guess what - having someone else tell you to do them MATTERS!
I actually learned that it was lack of sleep that was causing the headaches, which I had not suspected! And lack of sleep triggers my neck pain, too!
And, yes, I do have to teach myself that lesson again sometimes, but the good news is that it only takes once and I remember :) That is the beauty of coaching - she helped me learn it, so I can remember it for myself.
My coach helped me recognize a pattern that had been causing me pain and discomfort.
Curious how a coaching process can help YOU unlock patterns with your diet that you may not have recognized?
Let me know what questions you have below!
When we lack consistency, we feel out of control. When we feel out of control, we take desperate measure to control things.
Okay, so why am I saying this? What is my point here?
Because whether you are feeling fear surrounding the crazy political anger right now, or whether you are feeling doubt about your ability to lose the weight or stop turning to sugar at times of stress, if you don't have a PLAN in place to create a life that feels safe and secure and consistent, you will feel out of control and you will take desperate measures to stop that feeling.
Alright, Alegra, fine. But what is the answer?
Well, luckily, the answer is simple! (Which does not mean it's easy.)
The answer lies in creating a PLAN to take ACTION that creates the environment you need to feel consistent, safe, and secure.
If it is the political climate you fear, find a way to voice your opinion that feels meaningful. Whether that is calling your representative, writing postcards to the white house, creating a discussion/support group with friends, signing petitions, or otherwise finding a way to champion what you believe in, you will break the spell of fear and anxiety through ACTION.
If it is your relationship with sugar, if you binge on sugar in times of stress, anxiety, fear, or loneliness, you also need to create a PLAN in order to take ACTION to get to a better place.
Finding a support person, like one on one coaching with me - or someone else you know of, creating a support relationship with your spouse, or getting your best friend on board with you, will create a consistent environment to change the patterns that are sabotaging you.
If you know you need support to create a plan and begin taking action to end the sugar binging, let's talk.
As part of my business, I receive a lot of inquiries from people who are looking for help with their diet. And it is VERY COMMON that I interact with people who are eating low fat, low sodium, sugar free, low carb, gluten free, vegetarian. Yes. ALL of those. At the same time.
While I wish I could help each and every person that I exchange an interaction with (whether social media or other apps), the truth is that most of those people are actually looking for someone to HELP them continue that approach.
And that's not me. I don't advocate eliminating most things. Sure, of course, I think it's important to eat quality, wholesome foods. But one of the most important things is eliminating the CRAP from your diet, including "TASTING like crap."
So, in the spirit of eating foods we LOVE... what is YOUR favorite food??? Let me know below!!!
I help busy, ambitious leaders to step off the emotional eating roller coaster, so they can lose weight and keep it off, still eat all the foods they love, and finally find the work life balance they crave.