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Me and my Starbucks Soy Latte

All Years Resolutions- Part 3

Dream big and reach sky high.

Dream big and reach sky high. Me and my iced soy latte.

This post is the last in a 3 part series about why we face challenges in achieving our New Years Resolutions and how to be successful in accomplishing our goals. (See All Years Resolutions- Part 1 and All Years Resolutions- Part 2). I am a firm believer that we create our own obstacles to growth but that that we can overcome them and live an amazing life! Often the difficulty is created by our mind, rather than the task itself.

During any time of reflection we tend to look at all the “mistakes” we made. This brings up many different emotions such as not feeling capable of improving our lives or regrets as to why we let some things get to the point that they have. This is natural. If we did not have these feelings, we would not think about making any changes. It’s very important to allow ourselves to feel the emotions, but to not get stuck dwelling in regret and become angry or depressed. We tend to avoid uncomfortable feelings and repress them only for them to come up again. These negative emotions lead to us avoiding making positive changes or having the clarity to find solutions.

“Embrace that your perfection lies in the fact that you are imperfect.”

Another way we become stuck in our bad habits is by focusing on an issue and making it an even bigger issue. If you feel pressure from yourself, monitor your self- talk. Anytime you feel you have to/need to/should do something, you will likely feel resistance to it. Often wanting to change something prevents us from taking steps to change. Let go of wanting to change and start changing, NOW. Here are a few other ways we may subconsciously be sabotaging our path to success:

Self-Pity: It’s important to accept that we are responsible for our lives, so this means accepting our part in whatever we have gotten ourselves into (nobody forces us to eat unhealthy food or smoke) and to stop blaming others. So if you feel stuck in regret, it’s ok. After letting yourself feel the sadness or regret for a limited period of time, tell yourself, “I made some mistakes, I am human. I accept and forgive myself for what I did in the past. The past is in the past and I am going to pick myself back up and make positive changes.” Remember, life is filled with negatives and positives and without mistakes and failures we would not learn for the better. If we can accept that fact, life will be a lot easier.

Not wanting to change: Many people want different things but feel resistance to changes. We like easy and comfortable, but remember, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Change takes effort. It means stepping out of our comfort zone. Changes are only difficult if we think they will be. In order to make room for the new in our lives, we need to let go of the old. This may mean letting go of old household items, old habits, old ways of thinking, or even relationships with certain people; things we hold on to even though they are the very things that create the unhappiness we feel.

Fear of failure: Fears are self-fulfilling prophecies. If you never try, how will you know? And what happens if you do not achieve your goals? Life will go on. Learn from the experience and try again with a different approach. Remember we all make mistakes. Look at “mistakes” as learning experiences, not failures.

If you get off track, don’t be hard on yourself. Chances are you have given up and look at where it has gotten you. Pick yourself back up and try again. Never give up on yourself. You are worthy of living a happy and healthy life.

Avoid thinking that you can’t either. How will you know if you don’t try? If you have tried and could not, try changing your approach. It took Thomas Edison several times before he invented the light bulb, but imagine if he stopped trying because he didn’t think he could?

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

The time to start making changes to benefit your life is NOW. More posts to come on how to lose weight successfully but until then…..

ALWAYS REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING:

1. You are human

2. You (and all human beings) make mistakes and are not perfect

3. Embrace that your perfection lies in the fact that you are imperfect

4. You are worthy of a happy and healthy life

5. Make positive changes while realizing all of the above and you will start seeing some beautiful things in your life! 

All Year’s Resolutions- Part 2

From one of my faves: Lululemon Athletica

From one of my faves: Lululemon Athletica

Hello 2014! Are you still waiting until next week to start working on your resolutions? Well, why? Why have you waited for the past year? Last month I wrote in my post All Years Resolutions- Part 1 that we shouldn’t have to wait to make changes that benefit our lives. Of the 45% of Americans that make New Years Resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving them. Chances are, many of our resolutions have been carried on from year to year. The following are some of the reasons that keep us from achieving our goals.

Unreasonable expectations: We as human beings are incredibly hard on ourselves and it does not help that we are constantly trying to be “better,” “fitter,” “richer,” etc. We constantly strive for this different version of ourselves and are never satisfied. How many of us finally reach our goal only to find something else to try to “fix?” Many of us are also striving for perfection, which is unattainable; so when we don’t achieve this we feel disappointment. (For those of you struggling with your body image, I suggest you watch this video on airbrushing in advertising). There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but make sure it is an attainable goal. I also encourage you to look at your goals from the perspective of improving meaningful attributes of your life. Instead of wanting to be a certain size or shape, think about wanting to be healthy. If you approach it this way you will achieve your goals in ways that are directed at self-respect rather than at superficial ideals. For example, wanting to be healthy rather than “hot” will help you make the choices that will eventually lead to a healthy looking body.

Wanting instant results: Certain issues did not happen overnight. We are creatures of habit so changing habits takes some time (they say it takes 21 days…) Healthy life changes should be part of a daily regimen, not to be packed into 2 months of the beginning of the year. Remember, delayed gratification is important. Let’s take weight loss, for example. While a weight loss pill may take the weight off in a short period of time, you still have not made the changes to your diet and lifestyle that will lead you to gain the weight back once you have stopped the pill.

Trying to do too much too fast: New Years Resolutions are exciting. It gives us something to talk about and something to look forward to starting off the new year. Sometimes, however, the excitement drives us to do everything at once and this can be overwhelming. This can lead to not being able to balance everything else in our lives and eventually to burn-out. This in turn leads to frustration and may prevent us from taking any more steps to making changes or moving toward our goals. Instead, focus on what you are capable of fitting into your schedule and prioritize. Cleaning the attic can probably wait. Make a daily commitment to yourself and set short term goals. Let’s take a look at some common resolutions and some examples of how to make daily changes related to each:

– Weight Loss: It’ s probably not a good idea to start P90X if you haven’t been physically active for awhile. You may either injure yourself, or feel ill afterward and hate the thought of any exercise in the future. A better option would be to start off slow with walking or light exercise to build up both endurance and strength and then gradually increase the intensity of your workout. Also get in the habit of exercising when you get home on certain days of the week. Don’t forget to choose the healthy food options on your lunch break.

This is not considered exercise

NOTE: This is not considered exercise

– Organization issues: Everyday throw away a few things you don’t need. Get in the habit of putting things away right after you use them. Clean up any messes before going to bed so that you can wake up to a fresh start!

– Debt issues: Cancel a subscription to that magazine you never read. Cook instead of eating out (this will also help with weight loss!)… who knows, with the money you save you may be able to take that dream vacation on your list after all!

These are only a few examples of little things you can do, and these changes will add up in the long term. Remember, change takes time and if we do not achieve all of our goals in one month we still have a whole year and a whole life to do so. (This does not mean putting things off however!)

ExcusesAnyone can make time for what they prioritize. TALK is cheap. The time you spend talking can be time spent doing. Avoid procrastination. Get started on your goals now. If you don’t start your exercise regimen today, when will you?

Focusing only on the outcome: Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. It’s important to have your goal in mind but the way there may not pan out how you expect. And if you do achieve your goal, how much satisfaction will you have if the process was tedious and stressful? Let it flow. Make it fun. Want to eat healthy? Find fun recipes or make cooking an enjoyable family affair. Are you dreading the gym? Why not join a dance fitness class or walk outside and enjoy the scenery?

The next post is about the mental and emotional obstacles that prevent us from achieving our goals. Until then I ask you, what has kept you from accomplishing your goals?

 

Aunna Pourang, MD is a board certified family physician who lives in Jacksonville, FL. It is her journey to wholeness that she learned the importance of healing the mind, body and spirit to bring true happiness and health to her life. It is through this blog she wishes to help others do the same. 

The Universal Fire

photo-23

I love meaningful song lyrics, especially ones that resonate with the heart. After listening to James Blunt’s song “Bonfire Heart,” I started thinking about the mystical notion known as L-O-V-E.

Typically, in movies and songs, love is portrayed as romantic attachment between 2 people. Love is so much more than that though. It’s when our hearts feel open when a baby is born or when we hug a close friend. It’s beauty in nature and appreciation for the moment.  It’s a smile, laughter, and prayer to our Higher Power. It’s being grateful even when we feel like our world is shattering beneath us. Love is respect, happiness, peace, forgiveness, <insert any positive word, thought, feeling, adjective, person, place, thing here because I really could go on…>

I would also argue that a spark already exists in the bonfire hearts of our souls. Some bonfires may be barely flickering underneath the damp leaves and sticks made up of sadness, resentment, regret, disease, addiction <insert all things negative here.> Many bonfires, however, are glowing with compassion, kindness, gratitude and positivity.

My point is, the fire is always present in all of us. Love is our true nature. All it takes to rekindle these inherent embers is to become aware of the ashes of negativity and to burn through them. This requires letting go of the past, forgiving ourselves and others, and treating ourselves and others with respect. It requires Love. And for those of you whose fires are blazing, keep spreading the light of your love. Love is flammable, and what you give out, you get back.

With 2014 less than 24 hours away, think of ways you can add to the spark of the bonfire hearts of yourselves, others and the world. James Blunt is right, we don’t need that much. We already have it. Have a safe and Happy New Year! – Dr. A

All Years’ Resolutions

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? The Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2015 (Updated for 2015) revolved around, yes, you guessed it: health and happiness! During many of my patient encounters, I go over the same things about healthy diet, quitting smoking, starting an exercise regimen, etc. I hear many excuses, but for some reason, it’s during this time of the year when people start making more efforts to try to make changes. Did you know that according to the University of Scranton Journal of Psychology, in 2012, of the 45% of Americans that made New Years Resolutions, only 8% were successful in achieving them? While I do see many people making an effort at the beginning of the year, I would say that by March many people go back to their old routines.

Note: This is not considered exercise.

          Note: This is not considered exercise.

So why does this happen? There is nothing really different about the New Year except for a change in the date. So when my patients tell me they are going to start eating healthy and exercising after the holidays, I ask them, “Why not today?” Naturally the thought of a new year causes many of us to evaluate the past year and think of what we want in our lives for the next. Still, why wait and procrastinate on making changes that benefit our lives?

The following are some tips meant to help ensure your success in achieving your goals.

1. PRIORITIZE

First: Make a list of EVERYTHING you would like to work on, change, have, etc.

Second: Make a new list from the first, prioritizing the most important to the least important in terms of what you would benefit from changing sooner rather than later. Health and financial/legal issues would probably be better listed before “buy brand new car.” Also, is there anything you want to change that is ok the way it is? If so, your efforts would be better spent working on something that you would benefit from improving.

2. GRATITUDE

Take out another piece of paper and write down everything you are grateful for and proud of over the past year. It may be hard to think of things at first because we tend to focus on the negative (Read more on gratitude here). If we try hard enough, however, we will find that there is also a lot to be happy about. The “little” things such as being alive, having our family around us, having basic survival needs are important too.

Compare your lists. How do you feel when you read each list? The “resolutions” list may bring on strong emotions. There is no reason for negative emotions to be dominant over the positive ones, except for what you are focusing on. So even if this time of reflection may bring on negative feelings, make sure to think about all the great things going on as well.

3. INTENTION

It is important to be honest with yourself during this step. Review the first list and ask yourself, “Why do I want this? What benefit will it bring to my life?” and write the answer next to each item.

If there is anything on your list to try to prove something to someone else or make someone else happy, consider whether or not this is actually important to you. For example, if you want to quit smoking because everyone is telling you to do so, you will not likely be successful. I will be the first person to encourage someone to quit smoking, but I also know that most people who quit successfully do so when they are ready. They also often quit cold turkey without any medication or nicotine supplements. Unfortunately it usually takes some type of health crisis to wake some people up; nonetheless, it has to come from within. You will not feel satisfaction in achieving a goal when it is meant to seek approval from others or to make others happy.  If the other parties don’t react the way you want, then you will have spent all your time doing something for someone else and left with regrets and resentment. In the end you will not have done anything to make yourself happy.

Tune in for the rest of the related articles on ways we prevent ourselves from achieving our goals.

Share what your New Years Resolutions are in the comments below!