Pray & you are speaking, MEDITATE & you are listening…

Pray & you are speaking, MEDITATE & you are listening…

When faced with a challenge in life, regardless of your denomination or belief system, we tend to reach out for a miracle, sometimes, we may in frustration state that our ‘prayers’ are NOT being answered, but do we ever listen? Meditation, for a long while, is no longer a whooo whooo practice, rather, a sense of flow in your life, if YOU allow it to be.

Ever received a beautifully wrapped gift, that which lifts your heart and brings a smile to your eyes AND lips? I liken that to the day I truly embraced meditation, it was as if an immediate realization of it’s importance AND the positive impact on my energy took place like a beautiful symphony. Some may still call it mystical [it is], magical [it is] or whooo whooooooo…. call it as you may, its possibly the best way in which you can actually hear all that is murmur in your heart. Now, this is NOT a religious discussion, in fact, it is an honestly written blog about my experience, it is me sharing my thoughts on something which is available, for FREE to anyone who takes the time to lay down the pre-determined idea of something they may not have given a moments thought to.

I was raised to say my prayers before I go to bed at night, then motivated to say it at any time of day, as time progressed, I honestly thought that these pleadings and converse was falling on deaf ears, no matter how my parents explained it. Sadly, nobody advised me to LISTEN… Yes, I had intuition tugging at my gut that there is more to this than prayers meeting the ears of who they meant for, but my lack of response led me to be a complete non-believer of all sorts by age 34… So, what changed? Someone once advised me to LISTEN… I found this slightly comical as I for sure did not hear any resounding reverberations at any time, and, my life and lack of acknowledgment of ANY greater good was not going too great, perfect for me to cling to my non-belief.  

One day a friend told me to test ‘all that is'[I use this term to ensure I offend nobody, that is not this blog post or my intention].  TEST! ALL! THAT! IS!!??? You must be kidding!??? There is none such energy… Oddly, this was suggested at possibly the toughest time in my life and indirectly the test would determine my ability to listen and acknowledge the power of listening, not just to the advice of a dear friend but so too when the test turned out in my favor. Skeptical me, I did it again, once again I was answered, not verbally but the pure creative expression on earth of my desired result. My heart started to turn, started to awaken to the possibility that the acceptance and allowance of energy to flow to us and through us was as clear a voice as one which is heard.

Slowly but surely I started meditating, here there and on odd occasions, making space for the possibility that if I open my heart I may just BE in a better place. 10 years later I was advised to take on this practice of silently sitting a little more in earnest, daily for a minimum of 15 minutes. The idea of implementing this on a daily basis did bring about a sense of anxiety, after all, how was I going to manage to cleave out 15 minutes EVERY day in an already hectic schedule??? Throwing my doubt of achieving this out the window, I committed to doing this for at least a month and then to make the decision whether, as the habit of drinking at least 2.5 liters to 3 liters of water a day, I would continue.  

The rest, as they say, is history, now I meditate daily, a minimum of 15 minutes, MY TIME and all that is is always invited in. The next obvious question is of course, what has been the difference? Have tough challenges abated? Has my world turned around? Is it all magical and positive? Nope, not at all, in fact, challenges continue, how I react to them is completely different, my world has turned around possibly it has more to do with the fact that I now react differently to the challenges. Is there magic and is it positive, I believe so, again, possibly what I choose to see seems magical AND positive. Some may say is that it? For the daily time invested, it seems a little lackluster? For me, not so, for me it is absolute ease and peace within, joy and the riches of life that allow my heart to sing once more, to find positive in all I see do and think does not have a price.

If you lived in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, you may have been burnt at the stake or beheaded for having the belief that energy is available to you and through you, available for you to harness and bring about a more joyous life, now however there is a reach for open-mindedness, a knowingness that every thought we have has an impact on the life we live (and create), that miracles happen every day and yes we too have a hand in it, that meditation could be the key in quietening the mind long enough to get out of our own way and allowing a good life to follow.

There are many available resources on how to meditate and what to do how to breath etc. Find what YOU are comfortable with, for me breathing is REALLY important, 6 seconds in and 6 seconds out, this concentration of breathing allows you to focus on that instead of the odd thoughts floating in and out. In the beginning, these thoughts seem to drift a little too long, do not try to fight it, rather acknowledge their existence and let them move along. Start with around 5 minutes and work your way up to a comfortable time but be consistent. Trust me after a while of sitting to do this you will become possessive of this ‘YOU-time‘ which is GREAT!  

Not finding the answers you want in life? Really wondering if there is ANYBODY out there? Start with the quiet voice within, the beating of your heart and allow your mind, body, and soul to open to the beautiful flow of energy that allows you to BE.

Listen carefully and watch your world transform…

What is weighing us down?

What is weighing us down?

Ever stood in front of your clothes cupboard being at a loss for words, so too at a loss for clothes none of which are flattering? In an instant, you loathe the choices available but realize that not dressing is also NOT an option… Then you loathe yourself and realize you really need to figure out what is weighing you down?

Now CLEARLY, there is an internal [albeit silent] realization that what is weighing you down IS the extra weight sitting around your hips and all we can do is ask HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???  How DID this excess creep up so unnoticed over the years? Or did we notice it but decided to quietly look the other way? Now, of course, we are all grown-ass individuals and cannot possibly be naive enough to not realize the role we play in our choices and hence the outcome we were heading towards, but human nature prompts us to look for the reasoning behind the fat cells bloating EVERYWHERE else except within.  

This numbing space in life is also fondly referred to as a ‘COMFORT ZONE’ problem with this is that it is exactly the opposite of the truth… There is no comfort in this haze of self-pity and contemplation, it quietly leads to the break down of self-love and self-esteem, day by day, kilogram by kilogram. We truly turn a blind eye to the facts and then face our clothes cupboard daily until we find the strength and courage to drop the excuses and ‘find ourselves’ again [beware the ‘self-help’ gurus, it does start with us and generally ends there too].  

As we leave the question behind “How did this happen?”, we start facing the facts that SOMETHING needs to be done as soon as possible. Let us forget the questions and focus on the answer, right? Some people have the capacity to DO SOMETHING before it gets totally out of control. In my life as a wellness coach, I have crossed many paths with clients who WAIT… AND WAIT... until their deteriorating health starts ticking like a time bomb ready to bring their daily activities to a halt. Some wizened individuals pick up on the tick-tock timeously, preventing the bomb from exploding. This is a fact I have always pondered on, when is enough ENOUGH?  Why is it that some people are SO AWARE of their expanding girth whilst others, me included, got to the point of feeling like a wounded buffalo before taking on the much-required change?

As weight is gained, why do some people see it sooner than later?
As weight is gained, why do some people see it sooner than later?

Reflecting on my childhood, I thought it would be good to start with blaming my parents, [after all, the blame game is something easily played when you cannot understand or get to grips with your personal journey]. Honestly, they struggled with THEIR weight [and health] throughout life, surely that means I should struggle too. Then, their UNCONDITIONAL LOVE of myself and my brother REGARDLESS of our expanding size made us blissfully unaware of our greater than average size. In my office, many conversations later, as one client after another crossed my threshold on to my scale, I started realizing that those children who were brought up in homes KNOWING their weight, being scale aware (but not obsessive) were the ones that arrived at my door with a maximum of 10kgs to drop. And at 10kgs overweight, they were horrified at their size, horrified that they could let themselves get out of control to such an extent. Then there were the others, again, me included, who got to 40kgs on the hefty side and then realized, “oh my shattered nerves, I need to DO SOMETHING!!“. The ones that waited and waited thinking their genes are to blame or their sedentary office job was the reason and nothing could or would change. These are the people, like me, who cannot tell you what they weighed in their teenage years, also the people that were not counseled about the dangers of weight gain, whose parents did not want them to feel body aware… So here is the better question? Being body aware [yes there is a fine line to being obsessive] and keeping a check on your weight to ensure you live a healthy lifestyle to a ripe old age even if here and there you need to pull back the reigns and partake in a regulated diet to drop a dress size, or, those individuals that are oblivious of their Heffalump status based on their parents [yes, parents, including mine did so ONLY lovingly] assuring them that it is not about what you look like but your heart, the individuals who continue to obliviously pack on the kilos until they are red-faced and huffing in front of the doctor who is writing out a prescription for cholesterol tablets. This is where it gets even more interesting, personally, feeling well-loved and accepted as I was, I NEVER saw my size, even years into my then marriage, I was oblivious of my waistline, only the honesty of my then-husband of: “rather NOT!” when I squeezed myself into a bikini made me stop and realize I had a weight issue. Now, NEVER having to deal with such a personal realization resulted in me not knowing how to deal with it AT ALL!  Physically and emotionally I had taken a knock. I did not have the tools to deal with this ‘new space’ I found myself in, and like Eve when she bit into ‘that apple’ my world fell apart slowly but surely. That all-encompassing unconditional love I had felt from my parents now seemed a far cry away from facing the reality of what I was allowing my body to become. Now like Eve, I understood the wrongs and boy did I dig into myself emotionally. When I could not figure it out, it was after all the first time that I was facing such a dilemma, I started looking externally for the possible reasons for my weight gain in the first place, besides blaming the genes. I looked at my lack of physical activity, my poor food choices, my now ex-husband, my plate sizes, the fashion industry and their hand in poor self-esteem [I was far from the model size promoted in magazines and movies after all]. I attacked everything that could remotely have any hand to play in the game of life I was living. After going through diets, gaining weight back again, and starting diets over and over again [on a Monday of course], I shifted to the next stage of “what is weighing me down? -STILL“.

Clearly, if I was continuing to gain weight, drop weight and so on, clearly then I could not keep blaming my parents, blaming society, blaming the diets for I was now informed, enlightened and educated about better health and wellness? What WAS STILL weighing me down???? Why was this a continuous battle? I could not accept that being FAT and FEELING like a wounded buffalo in the process was my life journey, there had to be more to it. It seemed as if I was reliving the nightmare of the bulge over and over again. It was around this point in time that I read something written by Peter F. Drucker, he said, 

Courage, rather than analysis, dictates a truly important rule for identifying priorities. Pick the future against the past. Focus on opportunity rather than on problems, choose your own direction rather than climb on the band wagon and aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than for something that is safe and easy to do.

Up until this point with regards to my weight, I had gone into analysis paralysis about my health and weight, never had I identified the priorities, never had I picked the future against the past, in fact, I kept replaying the past, dissecting it in the ‘hope’ of a better future, never had I aimed high, being so caught up in the vicious cycle I found myself in. I also realized I had made plenty of assumptions, based on my not so successful battle against the bulge and each assumption I had made was not conducive to righting the present or the future. I was in fact caught up in the past, it was eternally repeating itself like a stuck record. I had placed myself in a difficult situation. This was the honesty record I had to set straight. I had spent so much time trying to find out what made me tick [incorrectly] that I had lost the plot completely. 

Maybe even with the fact that my parents never made me scale, weight and health aware, they did place emphasis on love, love of self and those around you. Slowly the light in my dim outlook came on. The foundation of love started to trump the shadows I kept chasing. I realized that if I had that as my foundation, I could and would get out of any difficulty [thank you Mom and Dad]. J. Sidlow Baxter wrote in Awake My Heart; 

What is the difference between an obstacle and adversity? Our attitude towards it. Every opportunity has a difficulty and every difficulty has an opportunity.

I realized that I had seen everything as a difficulty, as an obstacle and with it came PLENTY of adversity. Needless to say, my attitude with regards to it was not the greatest. In fact, I really BELIEVED that I was dealt a shocking hand of cards and such was my fate. I made the decision to see no further difficulties, only opportunities, I realized what was weighing me down when it came to my weight was MYSELF, my thoughts, my belief system… Working with so many individuals on their individual journeys I also realized I was NOT THE ONLY ONE. We all seem to reach for the answers outside of ourselves. We look for what is weighing us down in our external environments, we dwell on it, we embrace it, never to put it down, never to draw that really important ‘line in the sand’ to start afresh and focus on your current day and thereby rebuild a better tomorrow. I am sure you have all heard about burning the dietary wagon, AKA giving up on getting rid of unwanted fat? After we realize we have gained an excessive amount of weight, we decide to do something about the weight and around that time, [of course!] our bestest friend decides to have a birthday slap bang in the middle of our journey to wellness. We promise ourselves we will be good until we are offered that first glass of red wine and then we completely forget that we are on diet. By the next morning, we have literally thrown the diet manual out the window and decided to GIVE UP. So doing, we perpetuate the downward spiral and find ourselves clawing our way out of it a couple of months later. This is atypical of NEVER drawing the line in the sand. Once you take control back and NOT allow life to bully you into submission, no friends birthday will be the cause of your weight gain, in fact NOTHING will drive you to that every again because for once you KNOW, that you KNOW that regardless of where you are with regards to your girth size, you are taking each day as it comes, having a better day seeing only opportunities, allowing today to flow into tomorrow, ANOTHER GOOD DAY until you have rewired the outcomes of your tomorrows in such a way that nothing of today could possibly negatively impact the outcome of tomorrow. This may seem a simple narrative, it may seem of no great consequence, trust me, IT IS.  

How do we say no thank you to the birthday cake?
How do we say no thank you to the birthday cake?

Have you ever sat down for a cup of coffee with a friend only to find out that all and everything seems to be going wrong in their lives, that one ‘thing’ led to another and another? The entire conversation dwells in the space of doom and gloom, there seems no way out, ever heard the saying ‘history repeats itself’? As a doting friend we tend to empathetically give advise, solace to this dear friend and their struggles, sadly we add to the negative energy and sooner than later the stew of emotions weighs heavily to the negative side of the scale. Soon after the fateful cup of tea, a follow-up call opens new bad news and so it goes on. No line has been drawn. We have helped perpetuate the past into the future and our friend sharing has done the same.  

So how do we change what is weighing us down? It is this simple. Make the decision to draw that line in the sand. The change may not happen immediately, or the next day, or the next month, but that line is a conscious awareness that becomes the anchor on every day. Sooner than later, the tide starts to turn, IF WE ALLOW IT if our focus is on the opportunities of change that DO EXIST. No matter the situation you find yourself in, delving into the past and massive amounts of self-reflection and introspection are NOT ENOUGH, pause there for a short while ONLY. It is all about that one decision daily as you wake up; that today, is a good day, that you are the grateful victor of this day and definitely the luckiest person alive. Get rid of the blame game and be knowledgeable of the fact that you set the pace, your acceptance of a positive day before it starts sets the pace for the day and the day to follow. The seemingly offensive chokehold life has over you slowly dissipates, doors open and the universe conspires to make EVERYTHING BETTER, LIGHTER, including the weight that is weighing you down.

Do my genes make me look FAT?

Do my genes make me look FAT?

Picture this, I sit down for a strictly regulated diet meal, fighting the plump – and possibly my genes once again, across the table sits Jane, the one who never ponders her weight or what she eats, skinny as hell, loves exercise and radiates overall wellness. Jane has elected the 4 cheese pizza, not giving a hoot about her gene pool or the impact of mozzarella on her thighs. All that goes through my mind is: “Was I born FAT to die FAT – what genes did I inherit!!?” 

Society seems to understand my questioning, we all know that some people can eat like hippos and never look like one and then there is the REST OF US…. we tend to look at a glass of red wine and the double chin sets in just in case we take a sip. This unbalanced scale [I am Libra, I LOVE BALANCE!] tipped in favor of those who eat without abandon without the consequences made me search for reason, I mean surely if I can intellectualize this imbalance I can beat it??? Either that or I need to be reborn… 

We are told that our size is determined by the amount of food we manage to consume, those little buggers we call calories have a massive impact [no pun intended] on our waist size… But, could it be that our environment and our genes could influence this? What about our thoughts, if one of the laws of the mind is WHAT YOU FOCUS ON GROWS do we really want to be thinking 24/7 about our expanding waist size.

THOSE CALORIE CRITTERS

How do these buggers end up being stored, burned or bypassing our digestive tract to the poop hole without negatively affecting us? At the end of the day, research shows that all of these are affected by your genes, your excitement on a treadmill and of course how much energy used while sitting on the couch binge-watching Game of Thrones… If your binge-watching is greater than your excitement for time on the treadmill chances are you will make good friends with the stored calories on the WAISTLINE.

Right here, the balanced scale ends up OUT OF BALANCE for me, the closest enjoyment and excitement I have for exercise is watching Charlie Hunnam [drop dead gorgeous lead actor of King Arthur for the uninformed] swinging his sword around. I don’t mind taking on a yoga position watching this man move but naturally, that is not enough to get the scale of critters in critters out, weighing in my favor. So what is left? Possibly decreasing the volume of calories that go in during my day and so too whilst watching dearest Charlie taking on his hero’s journey may be the trick to balancing that scale? If only weight loss was THAT SIMPLE…

When our gene inheritance is out of balance, chances are our waistline will be the judge of that.

THE GENE FOUNDATION

Scientifically speaking, a gene is a unit [similar to the calorie critter I mentioned above if it is NOT in YOUR FAVOUR!] which is kindly and lovingly transferred from your parents to you as a baby to ensure that the neighbors know who the mother and father are of said offspring… 

Made up of approximately 20 000 to 25 000 genes with a copy of both Mom and Dad within us, surely the ‘FAT’ gene should be irrelevant? I have sat in my office seeing client after client who puts the blame of ‘kankles’ squarely on the family genes. Could this be the case, could I truly lay blame to poor ‘fat’ genetics for my personal struggle with weight gain? There are over 400 different genes that could be blamed for plumpness! Within that, there is only a handful that are the Kingpins of FATNESS… So what do these genes DO?

Genes affect appetite, satiety, food cravings, metabolism, our addiction tendency when it comes to using food for ‘coping’ with stress and so too where we pack on the weight ON our bodies. But, there are more variables to this… oh dear, no simple answer exists, in fact, when it comes to the understanding of our bodies and how it works, I have heard we have the heavy-handedness of a butcher attacking it with a chainsaw… extreme? Maybe. But have you seen how conclusive findings with regards to medical science change more often than the weather patterns?  

Your gene influence on your personal plumpness varies from 25% to 70 or 80%. Finding clarity may involve taking on some introspection, take a careful look at YOUR HISTORY and if these play a role, chances are you are on the higher end of gene influence. I would, however, like to add; we CAN AND DO feed our GENES, we influence our tipping of the gene scales with what goes in! If like me you feel FAT is a constant battle, when you are tired of blaming your hormones, lack of exercise, metabolism and the myriad of options available, have a look at your genetical background, I always joke when it comes to it, always saying that my family and I came from the wrong side of the railway line when it came to health genes. Sometimes there is truth in it, we just need to be willing to investigate. Let us have a look at a couple of factors that can indicate that the genetic scales are not in your favor.

*note… this is not to promote complacency or blame, as I stated above, we can feed the gene monster or starve it.

  1.  Let us start with our parents, and their parents, it is not enough to only look at your parents. If your parents, and their parents, not necessarily all of them were overweight or struggled with health challenges attached to obesity then your chances of having the same struggle and possibly reaching obese status goes up to 80%.
  2. You find yourself exercising like a machine and eat rabbit food in an attempt to rid your body of fat and NOTHING happens… FRUSTRATING for sure! I went through a period where I exercised for 4 months 6 times a week eating lettuce leaves and managed to move only 2kgs. At this point, I decided I was fat for life and there was no point. [I was wrong – there is ALWAYS a way to beat the genes!!].
  3. The next question to ask and answer truthfully is, have you been overweight most of your life, and I am not referring to the cuddly baby fat, or the weight as a result of living on JUNK FOOD 24/7. No, the overweight I am speaking about involves living on an average daily intake but ALWAYS ending up in the plump zone?
  4. Then, you have a friend who swears by XYZ diet, you do the research and there are millions having success at it. This is not the first time that said friend has politely recommended a plan of action for you due to the battle you find yourself in. In quiet desperation, you ONCE AGAIN take on another clearly healthy regulated diet and NOTHING HAPPENS. You end up losing water weight and ‘think’ all is good this time, only to come to a standstill somewhere along in your journey. Again, frustration is the name of the game and you once again GIVE UP.  

If these 4 pointers sound familiar it may be your genetic pool is NOT in your favor. This is an honest conversation, so let us continue it, maybe it is not your genes that are the problem and sometimes we find ourselves completely UNAWARE of our own actions. I have worked with people who start a regulated diet and come back to me a week later shocked at how their awareness had escalated in the week, they had gone from openly admitting they don’t understand their weight gain to realize their walk to the fridge or pantry consumed most of their waking hours and only after being on a regulated consumption did they notice it. It may not be the genes when we realize that we have food available in our environments consistently, it is easy to go-grabba-whatever-is-available in a totally unconscious manner. It may not be genes when you gain weight after a birthday week [yes, the older you get the longer birth-days become], your birthday leftovers extend for at least a week and you happily oblige consumption instead of wastage. It may not be genes when weight gain is evident every December and January sees more of you based on the fabulous holiday meals with family. Finally, it may not be genes when you start a regulated diet and end up cheating by day 3, attacking the pantry like a homesick child and devouring the biscuits you bought for your child’s school bag. It then becomes easy to blame the chosen diet AND the GENE abnormality… 

It is safe to say that if you don’t resonate with any of the discussion above you may be like my friend Jane, eating without abandon or a seconds thought to the calorie critters associated with her intake, you may, in fact, be laughing at this article convinced that me, your friend just needs to stop watching Charlie and get my butt into a gym. I may just agree with you, I have never been satisfied with accepting the standard, I have always believed we were born perfect made by perfect. If we have a couple of plump issues, embracing a healthier take on life may resolve the issues and yes we can celebrate what our bodies can do by living said life in a more vibrant and exercise-driven way. Simultaneously, for some of us, it may just NOT BE THAT SIMPLE, and that is OK. If we understand it, we can live a vibrant life all the same with a few tweaks here and there to put the gene scale back in balance.

BUT, WHAT ABOUT EPIGENETICS?

Now we talking! As I stated, I am not pro accepting that which is, and for many years I battled with the fact that my genes are as they are. I became truly excited at the study of our genes and the associated possibility of these little bugger ‘expressing’ in a new way. Epigenetics. There is hope for the FATSOME in me…

Why did I get excited? Well, if you understand that ‘YOU are WHAT you eat‘ and that our environment AND our thoughts have a direct influence on WHO WE BECOMEAND that we are energy beings continuously evolving then genes are just the ride into untold possibility. Taken from the article above, the section below explains it in a sciency way but makes sense to basic understanding:

“Here are a few important points about epigenetics:

  • Epigenetics Controls Genes. This is achieved through (a) nature: epigenetics is what determines a cell’s specialization (e.g., skin cell, blood cell, hair cell, liver cells, etc.) as a fetus develops into a baby through gene expression (active) or silencing (dormant); and (b) nurture: environmental stimuli can also cause genes to be turned off or turned on.
  • Epigenetics Is Everywhere. What you eat, where you live, who you interact with, when you sleep, how you exercise, even aging – all of these can eventually cause chemical modifications around the genes that will turn those genes on or off over time. Additionally, in certain diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, various genes will be switched into the opposite state, away from the normal/healthy state.
  • Epigenetics Makes Us Unique. Even though we are all human, why do some of us have blonde hair or darker skin? Why do some of us hate the taste of mushrooms or eggplants? Why are some of us more sociable than others? The different combinations of genes that are turned on or off is what makes each one of us unique. Furthermore, there have been indications that some epigenetic changes can be inherited.
  • Epigenetics Is Reversible. With 20,000+ genes, what will be the result of the different combinations of genes being turned on or off? The possible arrangements are enormous! But if we could map every single cause and effect of the different combinations, and if we could reverse the gene’s state to keep the good while eliminating the bad… then we could hypothetically* cure cancer, slow aging, stop obesity, and so much more.”

With that said, maybe being born with a gene foundation that embarrasses a toad is of no concern. Maybe just maybe we have a say. This is where controlling the controllable is paramount. No matter who we are, we have the tendency to look externally to blame our expanding waistline, science, however, informed us we could look internally to blame, [even worse in my opinion as we end up blaming ourselves and our family for that muffin top]. Instead of an attitude of blame, maybe the manner in which to take on this personal jail of the gene pool is to CHANGE IT.  First, in the thoughts we have about it, then in the actions that WE CONTROL. Trying to fight the environmental impact can be done to a lesser degree, here the focus SHOULD BE control the controllable. After all, as an in-utero baby, we have no control over what our mothers eat, smoke, drink or do. The health challenges she works with and those that came through your Dad’s genes you have ZERO control over… it cannot be changed. Then your environment as a baby you too have little control over, whether Mom decides to have a cesarean or natural birth, to breastfeed or bottle-feed is of ZERO concern to you, you are truly capable of only taking control of the NOW.  Your NOW WILL have an impact on your offspring and the quality of life you live as you age. That and that alone will be up to you to decide, within reason.

WE have the ability to decide if you overeat on the calorie critters, binge watch Game of Thrones, chose a chicken salad over a pizza or light up that next cigarette.  WE decide to focus on a healthy, vibrant life versus focussing on the obesity epidemic worldwide and how we are ‘destined’ [NOOOO] to fatness based on our genes.  WE decide how much sleep we get, how we alleviate our stress levels if we stop at a junk-food joint for supper [it is junk for a reason] and the amount of water we drink daily.  WE decide on an exercise regime, or NOT.  WE can decide to jail ourselves in the blame game, the available arsenal to justify the current circumstance we find ourselves in, is endless, media, health advocates, nutritionists, dieticians et al give us daily ammunition to lock that jail door There is SO MUCH we CAN control but it is MUCH EASIER not to. To do that which is difficult is as easy as not to do it, it takes the same amount of energy whether in the instant of choice or, for that matter, later on in life.

THE GET-OUT-OF-JAIL-FREE CARD

It has been said that our attitude affects our altitude… I got so involved in looking for the reasons for my CONSTANT BATTLE AGAINST OBESITY that even I fell into the trap of the blame game jail. How did it serve me? Well, I only got fatter. With that, the continual woe-be-me struggle elevated my victim status to my gene pool being guilty until proven otherwise. Even I got tired of my hacking the food industry, the endless useless diets, the defunct gene pool dilemma, and the ridiculous suggested exercise regimes. Sadly it took over 40 years of my life to come to terms with controlling the controllables. My attitude regarding health and living to age 100 in a vibrant way was my doing and ONLY MY DOING. This clarity IS a get-out-of-jail-free card. For some it may seem like DUH… in fact, it was for me too, but, if what I am saying is simple and can have duh status, why do we STILL sit with the obesity epidemic, ladies having tea blaming diets that don’t work, writers writing about the A-Z of sugar evils? Informational purposes for sure but in some aspects, our addiction to the doom and gloom of how we find ourselves in a useless quagmire of ill health and obesity keeps us RIGHT THERE.  

Our ‘jail-time’ or our escape is OUR DOING.

My saving grace was dropping the cognitive dissonance I had embraced [this for those needing clarity, describes feelings of discomfort that result when your beliefs run counter to your behaviors and/or new information that is presented to you – basically you start living the lie you believe to suit your circumstance. – ouch], realizing that me, and only me, will result in a different outcome.

MY LIFE and obesity was a CHOICE, MY CHOICE.  

Is change a good thing?

Is change a good thing?

There are 2 types of accepted change; EXTERNALLY, that which we experience in our surroundings, from a change of scenery to our waistline expanding, or change within, INTERNALLY, change of heart, change of mind or change of character… this is a rather honest opinion about the latter.

First and foremost, if you truly feel the need to change your character you may be mixing with the wrong crowd… we are made perfect by perfect first and foremost, possibly if someone is suggesting change within you they may have their terminology askew or may ‘think’ they have YOUR best interest at heart… NOT.

Let me explain, personally, I am attached to WHO I AM, after all, I have been WHO I AM for 9months before fighting my way through the birth canal to land on mother earth, then playing my years through life on a journey which was mine alone… [Until someone plants a seed of maybe just maybe I am NOT enough – then the poop hits the fan in our brains and CHANGE seems to be the answer]. Now yes, we ‘change’, we are after all energy in motion, our cells ARE splitting and dividing continuously but that is a ‘PHYSICAL’ change [- with an undercurrent of emotions having an impact on those cells health too – but that is a story for another blog post]. And yes we wish to ‘change’ when our waistline starts representing a Starbucks muffin, but again that IS physical. Think about this; maybe our waistline is a point of contention because we are trying so hard to ‘CHANGE’ our true character to ‘FIT’ into this demanding world? The less we ‘don’t fit’ the more our waistline has the tendency of expansion. It gets scarier, part of that is, we THINK we don’t fit based on assumptions, others’ opinions, and societal expectation – Lordy help me!! A side note, to the Moms and Dads reading this, please, tell your children how special they are, how individual they are and how growth within far outweighs FITTING IN.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

― Rob Siltanen

Rob, my hero, you have said it perfectly – how to use the word change and to make sense of it.

This requirement for change has been driven by self-development guru’s who have picked up on the upper level thought process of ‘to change the world change yourself first’, it is not the world we need to change by changing ourselves, but rather, HOW WE SEE THE WORLD and the behaviors we embrace as individuals in reacting to the world.

Now on to the oversized waistline side of this conversation. We DEMAND change of ourselves, exercise more, eat less, more fat, fewer carbohydrates, NO SUGAR and so on and so on… then we set a ‘GOAL WEIGHT’ to ensure we drive ourselves to that perfect scale weight based on the ridiculous non-perfect BMI rates. So in the drive for a change of the waistline, some fail the change challenge and then the scale goal weight supports the double whammy of not only failing but not being able to change… Our stress goes up, we blame the ‘stupid diet‘ and look for a new ‘change challenge‘. Sad thing is, that story leads to us denting our soul, hurting our characters and possibly hitting the slippery slopes of lack of self-esteem. Trying to change ourselves is as good as trying to convince a Vegan to eat a rump steak AND enjoy it. You see, change, which by the way we have no control of, is something which exists externally, it is how we deal with it, our behavior which is important. Change INTERNALLY is ALL ABOUT growth. It is all about making decisions, you either want a smaller waistline or not, your actions to get there are either good for you or not. You don’t change as an individual, you change YOUR CHOICES, which in turn change your behavior which in turn changes your habits and then the results come. Please, try not to change yourself for in the process you may lose a little of yourself too. For us to make these correct choices to lead to success in our results, starts firstly in ACCEPTING ourselves exactly as we are, without reaching for external elements such as diet, exercise, and pills, besides acceptance, how about some good old fashioned SELF LOVE, not the ego-driven type, rather the type that is a self-realisation of your own inner beauty. By stating you need to change is the same as saying you are in essence a ‘mistake’. You are EVERYTHING AND MORE.

Seeing this drive for change in the self-development arena, I investigated some interesting terminology. Using Google as my search engine, I firstly entered ‘self-love’, with a return of 2,5 billion articles, I then entered ‘personal change’, this returned close to 7 billion results. Now yes, everything changes but clearly there is a greater requirement for personal change than self-love. And yes, everyone wants to ‘be a better person’ but half the reason why we reach for WANTING to be a better person is that we are not honestly the person we are – a void gets created, a discomfort, a disconnect between your character and who you THINK YOU SHOULD BE that drives us to SEARCH for a better ‘me’.

Maybe it is not change that is required?
Maybe it is not change that is required?

At the end of the day, we are all individuals, we do not need the additional label of a ‘good’ person, a ‘thin’ person, a ‘successful’ person and so on to validate ourselves as a person on this planet. We rather need to JUST BE. With that being said, DO GROW. If you see yourself as a beautiful expression of life on this earth, you may feel that you owe yourself the right to expand intellectually, emotionally, physically or soulfully, great! But start from the foundational starting point that you are pretty darn ok already and that this ‘GROWTH’ is your chosen journey in life.

The interesting part of change is that once you accept that change is something which happens externally and it is only OUR PERSONAL REACTION to it that affects us, then it OPENS your world completely. At the end of the day if our waistline expands it purely comes down to a decision of accepting the tighter and/or bigger pants or embracing the behaviors that will lead to easy fitting pants. It comes down to a simple DECISION every time, not necessarily the challenge of MASSIVE CHANGE.

With a realization that it is OK to BE, comes a period of time where your self-acceptance plays a key role. Learning to love yourself and grow in self-esteem is possibly the most important step forward in growth. This is ACCEPTANCE, SELF-LOVE, and embracing who you are as a character. Some suitable Subliminals can be used to ease the cross over from self-loathing change dependent to self-loving and authentic.

The next subliminal possibly the most important is self-acceptance and understanding.

Learn to love who you are, and then JUST BE. Maybe all that is required is that acceptance of self and the requirement for change dissipates. Maybe it is only about growing forward and not growing up, growing in character and not changing YOUR CHARACTER. Chances are you will handle change that happens externally a whole heap easier once you come to grips with the fact that you are more than alright, that you are enough, and everything and more. Chances are any development that you do will be based on self-love instead of loathing, which will be based on growing forward instead of societal expectations.

When it comes to change, the only relevance I would advise is changing your requirement to change yourself, change a house plant, a pair of slacks or the radio channel, but leave yourself BE.

Woman, where art thou?

Woman, where art thou?

As WOMAN DAY has just come to an end in our beautiful country South Africa, it seemed only apt to highlight these powerful beings and celebrate those who have learned to love themselves, and those who are still learning this fine and important art. YES, YOU are everything and more.

Learning to love YOU

I am driven to write this seemingly obvious blog, not so much about women and their success in life but rather a celebration for the women out there that are lost in their ‘roles’ of womanhood. Now, possibly this could be a blog about men too, for I do not feel that what I am about to write is specifically for women only, but it was highlighted in my mind at this time of year with it being Women’s month.

Personally, I feel that we are born with a knowingness of why we are here. My nature as it is, is a seeker, I am consistently seeking to understand what and why we live as we do and how we do what we do. I grew up in a staunch, STRICT home, asking no questions and telling no lies, but my Father simultaneously expected us to have an extremely open mind. This confused me and slowly I developed a silent inspired dissatisfaction, knowing that life is more than JUST growing old, consistently looking forward to holidays. I could ashamedly say I spent close on 40 odd years of my life keeping my opinion to myself once too often, thinking that this was the polite thing to do. With this in mind, I was fortunate enough to read a meaningful discussion, which was profound in every possible way, it led me to a greater understanding of how wrong I was about keeping my opinion to myself, it made me understand that finding my voice was not enough, USING IT was where the magic was. Part of the discussion I read left its mark forever on my soul, my interpretation was truly a light bulb, slap-my-forehead, tears to my eyes situation, simple as it may seem, it was massive to me; what I understood was as follows – we as humans are a creative expression on earth – I could think of nothing more beautiful and for an instant EVERYTHING STOOD STILL – I could literally, physically feel my shoulders relax.

If I embrace that I am a creative expression on this planet, it kinda opens up many pleasurable doors and shuts a couple of unwanted ones instantly.

Really, think about the simplicity of this statement.

I AM a creative expression
– anyone

Oh, my word, I can think of the realists reading this and plutzing around about now! [I still love you by the way as it takes all types to make the world go round] – yes, many would say “nothing is that simple!!”, I ask, “WHY NOT?“. And for those that do say that nothing is that simple, I challenge you, truly, how SATISFIED are you? How at ease are you? How much love do you feel within, not for someone close to you but for YOUR SOUL and where you are in life WITHOUT the title? I have had the honor and privilege of meeting and working with people, specifically woman who once stripped of the title of Mom, wife, CEO, sister, daughter, boss-babe, they then question “WHAT then?” and for that reason I say, PLEASE... pull it back, reflect on your inner soul, own your space, your fingerprint, your inner core, STOP looking for YOUR shortcomings, mistakes, inadequacies, RATHER celebrate yourself as a perfect creative expression. You see, once you do this, adding the ‘title’ of Mom, wife or Boss-babe does become a delightful frill, something beautiful and meaningful.

If however we do not know of our own beauty within, our own creative expression as souls on this planet, then no matter what frill we add, when it disappears, as it can, [my label/frill as Wife disappeared instantly one miserable day and I was left seemingly soulless not knowing how to identify with who and what I am], we flounder not necessarily knowing ‘where to from here’. I am fortunate for having marvelous influences in my life after my divorce, not only for some amazing men and women who were fantastic mentors, with who I surrounded myself with, but also what I was reading and listening to, this helped me open up the realization, acceptance, and knowingness that I could literally strip myself of every frill, title, and classification and STILL be BLOODY MARVELOUS REGARDLESS. I had reached a point of EASE INTERNALLY, my soul felt joy, a quiet peaceful humMMMMMMMMM. Let me take this time to state that by NO MEANS AM I OR WAS I in a perfect state of being, I consistently battle weight awareness, I am a single mom of 2 gorgeous children, this, of course, can come with its challenges, I am a business owner, these are the frills, BUT… WITH or WITHOUT these frills, I AM AT EASE knowing that all is and will always be GREAT. I choose that. I am and was done with self-checking, self-judgment, dis -ease within, wondering what I could do, say, be, live better… I chose ease. Maybe that is the secret to all of life, that simple statement because with it comes empowerment, with it comes removal of any possible victimhood or blame. A beautiful self-acceptance. Let me add here, this is NOT SETTLING, this is breathing, deeply, sucking in all of life and living it.

If there is one thing I would love my daughter to have on this Womens day, it is that understanding, ownership, and acceptance of self as an individual with the ability to CHOOSE. To chose life not based on the title which comes with it but rather to choose a life based on being a creative expression, for with that comes perfection, following of her bliss, and living a life of passion in a meaningful and significan way.

That being said, Women, where art thou? Be OK with being you, not just saying “I am OK with being me” but earnestly feeling marvelous with being YOU. Feeling at ease, making your choices based on YOU, and living a life with the knowledge that YOU ARE EVERYTHING AND MORE. Can you imagine waking up every day not wandering what mold you need to fit into today, yes, even if you do a 9 to 5 job or have to rush around with children, imagine KNOWING that it is ok to just be YOU? At ease and flourishing with just BEING. Knowing that every single breath, every movement, every thought, decision, and action is a perfect CREATIVE expression of YOU – and for that reason, IT IS PERFECT.

TOP need-to-know INTERMITTENT FASTING diet focus.

TOP need-to-know INTERMITTENT FASTING diet focus.

If you are into choice, variety, flexibility, and benefits when it comes to a regulated diet, then Intermittent fasting may be for you!

Intermittent fasting has always been on my radar, possibly because I have never enjoyed eating breakfast and ended up drinking coffee until my first meal at lunchtime. However, there needs to be a BUT or I would surely never have struggled with being fat! Like everything in life, drinking at least 4 cups of coffee with milk and sugar before lunchtime was a little OTT. There is ALWAYS a right and a wrong way to do anything…

This long lost art of eating we can thank our Neanderthal relatives for since 2010 the demand for and understanding of this manner of eating has escalated due to its successful manner in dealing with diabetes. For some reason, this practice disappeared but now it is back in full swing with success around every corner.

The basics are as follows, you get clever…(actually, your body does the cleverness, you just follow instructions), with intermittent fasting, your body understands that relying on fat for energy makes more sense, in fact, 5 calories more sense, as fat supplies 9 calories per gram and protein and carbohydrates only 4. Understand one thing however, if you are willing to supply it with continual copious amounts of carbohydrates, it is willing to use that BEFORE fat for fuel. Your body wants the simplest shortest easiest route to gain energy for your functioning, it WILL chose EASY if you supply EASY in carb form, so whatever you do, careful of that on your intermittent fast. It does need a little convincing i.e. regulated clean fasting to nudge it in the right direction of fat burning.

Let us look at the Top need-to-knows.

INTERMITTENT FASTING – It is all benefits!

Expect weight to drop

The minute you improve hormones – which you do with intermittent fasting, expect fat to start frying. Basic fat burning known as lipolysis kicks into overdrive. If you want to speed it up, use a VLCD (Low-Calorie Diet around 600 – 800cal) in combination with Intermittent Fasting.

If you have a desire to supercharge your weight drop then consider including 10 min intensive exercise in your day. As time progresses, add another 10min by including a slower pace after the intensive exercise. This depletes your glycogen stores that result in your body relying on burning fat for energy a lot sooner.

Intermittent fasting, ketosis diet
Any exercise is good exercise, focus on 10min high impact per day.

REMEMBER, fasting is not about calorie reduction (unless YOU chose this of course) it is about limiting the time period in which you eat daily. If you would like to focus in on fat burn then YES, drop the calorie load in that time period, but DON’T STARVE.

YOU will live longer!

Now, personally, I have not tested this theory but have an absolute belief that living to 100 will not be a problem… There is sound science that backs the fact by consuming fewer calories in a restricted time frame daily, aging may slow down and we will live longer. Just this benefit, if you love life as I do, is possibly enough to give this a PROPER go.

We found [that beta-hydroxybutyrate] can delay vascular aging. That’s actually providing a chemical link between calorie restriction and fasting and the anti-aging effect. This compound can delay vascular aging through endothelial cells, which line the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. It can prevent one type of cell aging called senescence, or cellular aging.

Dr. Ming-Hui Zou

Hormones, they get better and therefore your waistline too!

Everybody knows it takes control of insulin and blood sugar to start controlling and ridding your body of unhealthy weight. With intermittent fasting, that IS what happens. Not only does it control it but boy does it IMPROVE it enabling significant weight control and better health in muscle maintenance due to an increase in growth hormone and better heart health. With a decrease in insulin levels, intermittent fasting increases insulin sensitivity.

Be aware that it increases norepinephrine and epinephrine levels which of course increases fat breakdown. Reason being, both of these are attached to our Neanderthal status of fight or flight, stress response. When we fast, there is a primitive side to us (mine is extremely primitive, literally, my primitive side has an anxiety attack when someone says to me “maybe eat less often!”). Our bodies without food from around 12 hours starts protecting itself, releasing these 2 hormones indicates that we need to start finding energy elsewhere… that is, FAT for FUEL!!! BUT, if you have adrenal gland issues or thyroid issues, DO have input from a medical professional before taking on any fasting routine or your hunger will turn into HANGER and ill-health.

WT? is autophagy?? And why do we care?

Autophagy, sounds like a possible disease, but in fact, this is what prevents ill health in your body, see it as a built-in cleaning service with MEGA BENEFITS. And this is the exact process that comes into being in our bodies when we do intermittent fasting. It is our body’s way of cleaning out all our ‘YUCK’ cells. The ‘Auto’ means self and the ‘phagy‘ means to eat, so basically this process in your body, directly speaking is ‘self-eating’. Whilst fasting, the process of autophagy ends up breaking down cell debris and recycling proteins that are compromised. If your body is breaking down fat, there just may be a greater toxin load, and for that reason, dumping the excess debris may be required! The science behind this including information on Cancer is a great read.

Oooohhhh there is a choice…

Intermittent Fasting – Alternate Day

As it states this is intermittent fasting every other day for a full 24-hour period. Now, this is one which is not on my recommendation list at all, as you basically end up spending half your remaining life not eating. For us, as women where our hormones and fertility are regulated by calorie intake, this is NOT an advisable option.

Now yes, some do take on this fasting process but for me personally, I cannot see myself functioning optimally on this. First of all, most people with weight issues enjoy food. Chances are anybody fighting fat may have to choose between taking on a controlled diet and integrating it into their lifestyles for life and not eating every second day is diabolical. Then, if you have a lot of fat to sizzle, sticking to this over a short period can also be tough, never mind 6 months to a year and can cause you to give up and burn that diet wagon once again!

5: 2 Fasting

This is one plan which a vast majority of my clients succeeded at. It entails eating normally for 5 days and limiting food to 600cal and no more for 2 days. You chose the 2 days which makes it fairly flexible. With this plan burning fat around that belly works a charm.

16/8 Daily Fasting:

My personal favorite, where I fast for 16 hours and eat for on average 8 hours. I have found this an easy way to fast, based on the fact that I am not a big breakfast eater as said before and can go without. I also chose to skip breakfast rather than supper as I love sitting down with my children for supper. Within this manner of fasting is great flexibility, chose to skip breakfast or supper, chose to have your larger meal at lunchtime to reduce the calories that need work whilst you sleep. It may sound difficult but in fact, when you reflect on it you may find that you HAVE done this before without feeling regulated. You may not get to lunch and in fact, I know of people who don’t even get to lunch and push through to supper. Why I love this choice is it is something which I would do as a choice of lifestyle which allows me to live healthily and control my weight. Often when we chose a diet it does not allow us to embrace it FOREVER, I do believe that whatever we use to drop fat we must be able to do forever and a day AND be flexible within it.

Intermittent fasting, ketosis diet
Keep an eye on your eating times with handy apps you can find online.

The flexibility is also based on when you start, you can start your fast any time, and start eating 16 hours after. So maybe you would like to eat from 10 till 6 pm or 2 till 10 pm (little late unless you work nightshift of course) but pick your 8 hours based on YOUR LIFESTYLE.

1-DAY Fasting

This is once per week, on average for 18 to 24hours. You start from supper time around 6 pm the previous day, sleep through most of the fast (yes, I do advise an early evening to prevent finding yourself wandering to the fridge by midday the next day). Your intake for the day is water, tea, and good quality coffee till at least early evening, that is a full successful day. If this suits your lifestyle, fantastic. PLEASE be kind on yourself, there is no need to berate yourself if you do NOT make 24 hours. You have effectively stretched yourself and possibly no matter how many hours you have given your body a resting period it will thank you for and most likely next time around it will be easier!

Added note:

My advice would be as follows, make sure if you are fasting that days you are not fasting in, for example, the 5 : 2 fasting times, make sure you eat sensibly, mindfully and not try to overeat or treat it like a ‘cheat’ day and gorge yourself… big mistake. Yes, common sense but sometimes we need reminding… Of course the same applies for the 16 : 8 hours, it can turn into on-diet and off-diet which can undo what we are trying to do.

METABOLISM, I need all of it!

We have been sold on the fact that little snacks through the day is good for us… it keeps our metabolism going… well, what I found firstly, was that when this was the approach healthy snacks eventually became ANY SNACKS and at this point for some odd reason, he he heheheheheheheh, there is a weight loss plateau… On further investigation we find muffins becoming the standard in between snack which causes more harm than good. Other than that, snacking is not necessary to keep our metabolism in place. There are plenty of available studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which deal with continual fasting and alternate-day fasting resulted in no decrease in metabolic rate. Even if you chose to do a very low-calorie diet of around 800 calories, your metabolic rate remains unharmed.

Being foodless is not the problem, rather excessive weight and lack of muscle mass is more the problem. You see, some plonkers – that includes me, did do extreme diets in which case muscle is lost, the minute that drops there is less to chew excess fat and then your basal metabolic rate drops… when eating correctly and nourishing your body with great REAL FOOD and include supplementing where needs be is the right way to go about this, then metabolism will NOT be a problem. Burn fat and live a healthy lifestyle and metabolism concerns will disappear.

It may be for you, OR NOT

Disclaimer: Note the benefits of intermittent fasting but know that it is controversial. If diabetic your dose may need to be adapted and you would need to discuss any lifestyle changes with your doctor. Please take note that people who are underweight or have eating disorders like anorexia, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people under the age of 18 should NOT do this plan.

Take care, as stated above, if any adrenal gland and thyroid challenges and/or any chronic medical conditions seek medical advice before taking on intermittent fasting. Add to that, if you do have low blood sugar or suffer from dizziness if you do not eat, be cautious. Then, based on the energy requirements of a child, pregnant or breastfeeding women, this is NOT an optimal choice.

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