what you focus on you create more of
Cucumber, avocado, tomato, sprouts, red onion, sun dried tomato cream cheese wrapped up in a flour tortilla. That's The Rabbit, and it's my favorite sandwich at 505 Eats in LaGrange. It's so good that I want to shovel it in as fast as I can but also slow way down and savor the taste.
I have often eaten the whole thing, but I always feel a little stuffed when I do. But it's so good-- I don't want to only eat part of it. The more I practice, though, the easier it gets to eat half and save the other half for later.
I eat the first half slowly, enjoying all of the textures and flavors. If I feel satisfied (not starving, not stuffed- just right) I wrap up the second half for later as I "surf the disappointment" of not eating it now. The disappointment only lasts a few moments, and I go on with my day.
There is research to back up this practice, by the way. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke Of Insight, calls it the 90-second rule: “When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens; any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.” Basically, if you choose to move on, you will only be disappointed for a few moments, then you can look forward to eating the other half later!
I challenge you this week to save part of your lunch for later and practice "surfing the disappointment."
Cheers to food so good you want to eat it fast and savor it slowly at the same time!
Linchpin: a person or thing vital to an enterprise or organization
As we get closer to the holidays, I am feeling a little more overwhelmed than usual. How about you? There are a lot more unknowns this year, and we need to be careful about how we are handling all of the added stress.
In times of change, transition, or turmoil, it is particularly difficult to stick with our good habits. Our primal brain senses fear and all it wants us to do is to be safe from it. This means seeking comfort. This could look a lot of different ways, but it usually looks like resorting to previously well-worn pathways in our brain- our former bad habits, aka our coping mechanisms.
It makes sense doesn't it? It takes effort to stay on the straight and narrow and stick to our good habits, right? Eat vegetables, drink water, write in our journal, exercise, sleep enough, be kind, be grateful, stay away from too much processed foods, have a growth mindset, be still, meditate, moderate in food and drink, etc, etc, etc.... So exhausting on top of everything else! If it takes too much willpower, the primal brain will take over.
So what can we do about it?
The first step is to notice that you are slipping back into habits that don't serve you. This takes some mindfulness. Once you notice, then you can do something about it.
This is where your linchpin habits come in. A linchpin habit is a powerful habit that is vital to your well-being. Everyone has their own set of linchpin habits. To figure out what yours are, just think about the top three things that make you feel the absolute best when you do them consistently. These are the habits that will keep you healthy, vibrant, and energetic through the holiday season. Mine are drinking plenty of water (half my body weight in ounces), sleeping 7-8 hours a night, and getting outside every day.
Here is the magic: Forget the rest. Let them go for now. Give yourself permission to simply concentrate on your chosen linchpin habits. This way there is less overwhelm, but you are still taking steps in the direction of your health goals.
Choose your linchpin habits today. Write them down on post its, put them on your calendar, do whatever you need to do. Then commit to keeping up with them to keep yourself happy and healthy through the holiday stress. 🧡
, forI just finished cutting the grass. I really didn't feel like it. Rain is rolling in tomorrow, however, so I knew I should get it done sooner rather than later. So I made a deal with myself. I told myself I only had to do the front parts because they are the longest and they are more visible to the neighbors. 👀
After I finished the front portions, it seemed like a no-brainer to keep going. Habit had kicked in. So I continued, telling myself I could stop whenever I got tired.
We have a patch between our yard and the neighbor's yard, and I have always hated mowing it. It's all uphill, and there are trees and bushes in the way. I had an "aha" moment when I was mowing that today. I don't dread it so much anymore. I tried to figure out why.
It dawned on me that I mentally break it into sections, giving myself full permission to skip any section I want. The grass doesn't grow as thick there, so if I skip parts once in a while, it is barely noticeable. I break it into small chunks, and I take it once chunk at a time. I hadn't even realized I was doing that! In addition, I realized that the chunks aren't really as annoying as they used to feel. I pondered that for a minute and realized the difference.
We got new sod a few years ago. Before that, there were a lot of bare patches and a lot of dust would be kicked up when I mowed that section. Since I don't get a dust bath every time, I enjoy it more. Now that I have had that realization, I can change my thinking about that part of my mowing duties.
Is there something in your life that you don't feel like doing? You know you should, but the idea overwhelms you? Try making a deal with yourself. "I only have to walk to the end of the driveway." or "I will drink one extra glass of water today." or "I will eat one new vegetable this week." Maybe you will take that first step and allow yourself to be propelled forward by your momentum.
And while you are at it, challenge your old way of thinking. Maybe you are only thinking a certain way because it's a habit and you haven't really questioned it. Maybe you think you are the kind of person who hates vegetables, for example. When was the last time you tried a new one? It's worth figuring out if you still feel the same way or if there is one small step you can take in the right direction. You may be surprised what you learn about yourself, and what new habits you begin to create.
I think there are two kinds of people in this world. Those that put off doing boring or scary things, and those that do them right away to get them over with. I am actively working on being the latter.
I have been reflecting a lot about my procrastination, as well as researching some reasons why I do it. I have even worked on it in therapy. Here are some of my "AHA moments" thus far.
I think the best way to start to kick the procrastination habit (Yep-- it's a habit!) is to first decide WHY we do it. There are lots of reasons, but I think they can be put into a few categories.
These reasons are really specific to situation. You may be able to buckle down and get things done at work when you are so busy you don't even have time to sit down, but when it comes time to fold that laundry at night, you decide you can do it tomorrow. (or the day after, or the day after that..) Think about a particular area in which you are good at procrastinating, and then see which reason sounds familiar.
Once you figure out why you are procrastinating, here are some strategies to try:
If all of this sounds overwhelming, don't worry. You can think about it later. 😂🤣😁
What you focus on grows.
You create what you focus on.
You become what you focus on.
What you focus on expands.
Where the attention goes the energy flows.
These are all ways to say the same thing. It may sound a little "woo-woo," but it is scientific and "true-true." 😂🤣
There is a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) and it is a filter. Without it, they say we wouldn't be able to handle all of the stimuli around us at any given point in time. The RAS filters for what we find important. How does it know what we find important? Our brain knows what's important to us because of what we focus on.
Have you ever been in the market for a new car and all of a sudden the kind of car you are looking for appears over and over on the road?
Have you ever learned a new word and then read it or heard it the next day?
These are examples of your RAS at work. The cars and words were there all along, but your brain didn't filter for them until you focused on them. It's why you can hear your name mentioned in a crowd of chatting people, or why an eye doctor notices people who are wearing glasses or squinting. Here is a quick video if you want to learn more!
Take a minute to think about the beliefs you have and the inner dialogue that plays on a loop in your head. Those thoughts, whether they are are serving you or not, send signals to your brain. The brain then searches for proof that your thought or belief is true. How wild is that? If you believe you are never going to lose weight, for instance, your brain searches for proof of that, and your belief becomes stronger.
But there is good news! You can change your thoughts! Once you begin to focus on what you DO want to feel and think, then your brain searches for proof, which feeds the now positive belief. Whattt?!
It may sound weird, but give it a chance. Pick something positive to focus on and watch your world shift. 🌎
You're welcome. 💗
Who's got a sweet tooth? I love a little something sweet, but I have all but given up processed sugar. (Have you seen That Sugar Film?) To get my fix, I search for healthier versions of my favorites. This snack hits the spot in all the right ways. I sliced it, cut the slices in thirds, and froze them.
I have been trying a technique from Jill Coleman that involves strategic snacking-- she recommends taking a bite or two of your treat and then walking away. (We all know that the first bite is the best anyway, right?) The idea is that it will there if we want more, and that eating a few bites here and there will prevent over-indulging later on. (Read more about her eating philosophy here.) So if I want something sweet, I take a third of a piece from the freezer and eat it mindfully. Sometimes I put PB on it and it is even more delicious. I may even go back and get a second piece if I feel like it. Very rarely do I go get the last third of a piece in one sitting, but I know if I still want it, it is there.
I have been practicing this kind of snacking for a couple of months now. It has been so interesting! When I first started, I took advantage of my new-found food freedom. I had something sweet after every meal--including breakfast. But as I practiced, the need for the sweet taste seemed to wane a bit. Now, I don't even have a sweet snack every day. Just knowing it's there if I want it makes it somehow less appealing and/or powerful.
In conjunction with mindfulness, this strategic snacking strategy is a game-changer! Let me know if you have tried it or if you want to learn more about it!
I love words. I always have. I love reading them, and sometimes I love writing them. (That part is much more of a struggle!)
Words are powerful. They can lift us up, or they can tear us down. They can makes us laugh or they can stun us into silence with their beauty. Words can hurt or heal.
I was well into adulthood before I realized that I had words playing in a loop in my brain in the background of my life 24/7. We all do. Perfectly normal. When I began to notice my inner dialogue, however, I realized it wasn't always helpful or kind. In fact, most of the time I was saying things to myself that I would never say to anyone else. Can you relate? Most women I have spoken with share that they have the same "inner mean girl" wreaking havoc in their minds as well.
There is such good news about this! Once we realize we have these thoughts that aren't serving us, we can change them! It's not easy, but it's possible. The first step is to notice the inner dialogue, or conversation you are having with yourself. Most of the time it's coming from a place of fear. It comes from the part of the brain that is responsible for keeping you safe. When you notice a negative thought pattern, ask yourself "Is this absolutely true?" Chances are it's not. Then you can change the thought to something that still feels real and authentic to you, but is better for you. You get to change the words, which changes the feeling.
For example, "I can't do it," becomes "I can't do it yet, but give me time to practice." OR "I am not good enough" becomes "I am just as capable as anyone else, given the right tools and resources." OR "What if I fail?" becomes "What if I succeed?"
I know I am oversimplifying it, but I challenge you to notice the words you use when you talk to yourself. If they are not serving you, examine them for validity. You will most likely find a loophole. Then find a way to reword the thought so that it lifts you up instead of tearing you down. See how that changes your mindset.
It's all about the words. Use their power for good. ❤
I have noticed something about myself during these last couple of months of quarantine. At the end of the day, I find that I am the happiest if I have created something.
I am not an artist, by any means, but creativity doesn't have to be that formal. Creativity is whatever you want it to be-- cooking, baking, making your yard pretty, rearranging a room, organizing, redecorating, flower arranging, coloring, making a digital book on a site like Shutterfly, creating and sending things like Jib Jabs, building, hand lettering your favorite quotes, or making videos on TikTok. It is anything that puts you into a state of "flow."
I am sure you have been in this state before. It is that feeling you get when you are so completely engrossed in your work that hours go by and you don't even realize it. You know the feeling, your stomach is empty and your bladder is full because you have ignored your basic needs in favor of the feeling you get from whatever project you are working on.
It turns our there is research that supports that doing creative things does, in fact, make you happier and healthier. Being in the state of flow lowers your heart rate, decreases anxiety, and boosts your mood. It can even pump up your immunity and help with dementia. What? No wonder I have been feeling better on the days I do something creative!
If you don't consider yourself an artist with a capital A, but would like to try to make creativity a habit, check this article from NPR out. And then go create something! 😊
Remember this little phrase? It used to be on magnets, buttons, and bumper stickers when I was a kid.
It popped into my mind because I was pondering people say things like, "I've been bad today" when they talk about what they have been eating. Or "I was really good all day, but then I ruined it after dinner by eating 3 cookies." This constant struggle for perfection is one of the reasons people don't stick with a healthy diet.
Food is information. Food is fuel. Food is not good or bad, just like we are not good or bad because of what we eat or what we don't eat. If we can move away from thinking like that, then we are on our way to a healthier mindset and healthier habits.
What if we simply concentrated on nourishing food 80% of the time and allowed for less healthy food (in modest portions) the other 20% of the time? What if we ate real, whole, less-processed foods most of the time and allowed ourselves a treat every once in a while? I guarantee you would feel better, have more energy, and enjoy life more because of the quality of the food you were eating. In addition, your mind wouldn't be bogged down with good vs bad and the herculean effort of chasing perfection.
Perfect is unobtainable. Perfect compared to what? There is no such thing as perfect. Instead of trying to be perfect, concentrate instead on progress. Progress is eating the vegetables at each meal even when you'd rather have something else. Progress is doing so each day, with consistency. The more progress you make, the better you will feel, and the less you will be worried about being perfect.
Morning pages: 3 pages of handwritten words first thing in the morning. Does not sound like fun to me. The idea was sent to me two different times in the last two books I read, so I kind of feel obligated to at least give it a go. The original idea is from a book called The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, which I just ordered for my Kindle.
When I did a little research on the interwebs about it, I found this article, which sold me on the idea. It includes several quotes from the author describing why one should partake in this early morning ritual. Here are the quotes:
“When people ask, ‘Why do we write morning pages?’ I joke, ‘To get to the other side.’ They think I am kidding, but I’m not. Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, our negativity, of our moods.”
“It is impossible to write morning pages for any extended period of time without coming into contact with an unexpected inner power. Although I used them for many years before I realized this, the pages are a pathway to a strong and clear sense of self.”
“Pages clarify our yearnings. They keep an eye on our goals. … If we are drifting, the pages will point that out. They will point the way True North. Each morning, as we face the page, we meet ourselves.”
"Morning pages are about tuning out our inner critic. “We learn to hear our censor’s comments and say, simply, ‘Thank you for sharing,’ while we go right on writing. We are training our censor to stand aside and let us create.”
“The pages may seem dull to you, even pointless, but they are not. Remember that they are not intended to be ‘art.’ They pave the way for art. Each page you write is a small manifesto. You are declaring your freedom — freedom from your Censor, freedom from negativity in any quarter.”
“The morning pages teach logic brain to stand aside and let artist brain play.”
“Morning pages may hold insights and intuitions that startle you. Typically, they puncture denial.”
"Write your pages daily and be open to their suggestions.”
Although I am not an artist in the traditional sense of the word, I do value creativity and do strive to be creative in my work and in my personal life. I don't think you have to be an artist to benefit from doing morning pages-- just look at the words I highlighted above! #goalz
I am excited about trying this out! I wrote today, and my goal is to simply try it for the next three mornings in a row. If I am able to do it four times in a row, I will be on my way.
I will report back on my findings! Let me know if you try it out, and what you find!
About the Author
Kim is a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and group fitness instructor. She is a mom of two grown kiddos, and a former elementary school teacher. Most days, she can be found training clients, prepping food, thinking about food, or writing about food. She is also obsessed with mindset and habits. She is a 9w1 on the enneagram.