Tag Archives: Self-Help

“Date” Yet one more four-letter word.

Tzolkin Calendar - hsc08a

No, not that kind of date!  It can’t be healthy to eat food past the “expire” date, can it?  What about the “sell by” or “use by” dates?  These labels are confusing, and really don’t mean very much.  We might as well use an Aztec Calendar Wheel for the same amount of clarity!

They give us the the date by which the manufacturer has deemed the food to be closest to the taste that the manufacturer decided was best.  “But companies want people to taste their products as best they can at the optimum, because that’s how they maintain their business and their market shares.”  (Institute of Food Technologists)  “There should be a standard date and wording that is used. This is about quality, not safety. You can make your own decision about whether a food still has an edible quality that’s acceptable to you.” (Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic)  All sources say the same thing.  Smell it.  Taste it.  You can tell if a food has gone bad.

This is much different than contamination.  “Bacteria, viruses, or parasites mainly cause foodborne illness. Many foodborne illnesses are a result of bacteria or viruses, which are microorganisms or “germs” that occur either naturally in foods or are spread as a result of poor practices, such as cross contaminating foods or improper handling during food preparation. Bacteria can rapidly multiply under the right conditions.”  (MDH)

Bacteria growth in food 2

Bottom line:  Let your senses (including common sense) guide you, and take basic precautions including hand-washing and sanitary kitchen practices.  (Information on food safety here.)

Why can’t I just ______________ ? (Fill in the blank.)


Why can’t I?  It’s the same story, over, and over, and over again.  We want to.  We really do.  But we don’t/can’t change our behaviors.  Why?!

We may want to lose weight, make different choices, or change any myriad of circumstances in our lives.  Why is it so difficult?  The answer is a different recipe for each of us as we all have different beliefs, values, priorities, excuses, etc.

Some of the reasons I have found include:

  • Desire – without it, nothing will change, but it’s not enough
  • Fear – can stop us in our tracks – fear of the unknown, of change, etc.
  • Motivation – is the fuel toward reaching our goals
  • Priority – determines where we use our limited time and energy
  • Resources – necessary to implement the change or growth
  • Knowledge – or lack thereof – needed to advance toward change
  • Ability/Skills – needed to implement the steps toward the change
  • Reward – for our current behavior is known, yet unrealized for the future
  • Comfort – our current discomfort often seems more comfortable than change
  • Beliefs – we have amassed many beliefs while traveling this big blue marble
  • Values – many of which we were born with, and are very deep-seated
  • Conflict – we often get stuck between “I should” and “I don’t want to”
  • Habit – old habits are hard to break, new habits take time and energy to make
  • Peer Pressure – a support system is very important for our success
  • Behavior Change Stage – we need to be ready, willing, and able
  • Energy and Commitment – without them we quickly revert to our old behaviors
  • Perfection – expecting perfection is a sure path to ‘failure’ as it is unattainable

I’m sure there are many other reasons why it is difficult for so many of us to do the things we know we should, or even want to.  The bottom line is that it is difficult and it takes work.  The good news is that we are all capable of change, of bettering ourselves, our health, our positions.  And the better news is that it is worth it!

How?  So how do we make the shift from “I can’t.” to “I did!”?  It is a different path for each of us and starts with introspection.  Being truly honest with ourselves.  We don’t allow others to lie to us, and we have to stop lying to ourselves!  That includes excuses.  So we need to stop and ask ourselves many questions.  It will depend upon our own journeys, but a good starting place is to consider:

  • What am I getting out of my continued behavior?  What is my reward for continuing it?  Is it that the feel-good I get from overeating overrides the eventual feeling-good-all-the-time that is promised in the end?  (Do I even believe the promise of what is to come?  Am I afraid of it?)  We don’t do things that we don’t get some sort of reward from.  The practice of physical self-harm, for example, offers relief from emotional pain (AAMFT).  Once we realize why we are doing what we are doing, we are more able to see the value of alternatives.
  • How important is making the change?  What is it’s priority in my life?  Until I decide that the change is worthy of my time, effort, and even money, I will not be able to move forward.
  • Are my goals realistic and realizable?  Or am I setting myself up for failure?  Goal:  “I want to lose 50 pounds this month.”  That might start out with a bang because perhaps I can visualize myself thin in a short time.  But it will surely fizzle and die.  We need to be realistic with our goals and have a plan that we can monitor to see that we are reaching them.  Small steps toward the end.  Remember that two steps forward and one step back is the Cha-Cha!  (Please allow some poetic license here!)
  • Do I have a support system?  Or is my current situation going to sabotage me?  In this digital age it is so much easier to find the support we need.  Reach out.  We as humans really do want to help one another.  And like we learned in school “if you raise your hand you will see that others had the same question but were afraid to ask.”  Finding a buddy, an accountability partner, makes it so much easier, and more fun too.
  • What is my excuse?  And, more importantly:  Why am I allowing this excuse to prevent me from working toward my goal?!

I could go on and on, but for the sake of brevity I will stop here.  Please respond if you would like me to continue the questions to ask ourselves section, and how to realize the results we truly desire.  Or with any of your own questions.  I am happy to do so.

The bottom line is this:  It is up to us to figure out the “Why?” based on our own introspection.  Sometimes asking those close to us can be a big help (if we are willing to hear what they say without taking offense to their honesty if it is painful to hear.)  We need to figure out what is holding us back as we are all capable of things far bigger than we ever imagined, once we get out of our own way!

Two steps forward, and one back is still moving forward, and we need to learn to enjoy the journey.  Just like the Cha-Cha, or any dance steps I’ve tried to learn, I’ve had the most fun while tripping over my own feet (and occasionally someone else’s!)  Not taking ourselves so seriously allows us to enjoy the journey and continue on our path, often inviting others to join us.

Ballroom Dancers Latin 01

Knowledge is Power?

Car - large Ferrari-F4301        Car - small smart-car-1

I have always said (and believed) that knowledge is power.  Recently I began to question that.

There are two cars here.  Which one has more power?  Which one is more powerful?  The Ferrari, for sure, right?  Such a powerful engine.  It’s a sports car.  The other is a Smart Car, certainly not known for power!  But do we have enough information to make that decision?  What if I told you that the Smart Car was fueled up, whereas the Ferrari had none?  I think we can agree that the smaller one would then be considered more powerful, right?!

Back to knowledge and power.  What about self help books?  Knowledge, by itself, has no power.  The books are useless.  Completely useless… unless it is our desire and ability to absorb the knowledge, figure out what it means to us, how to use it, and (drum roll please…) actually put it into place!  

Take it from someone who has a very large library of self-help books.  (It’s quite a journey I have been, and continue to be, on!)  We get power from the information we take in only when we actually make use of it.  And I surmise, that for many of us, that’s the hard part.

When we can look at ourselves without judgement, perhaps the way we look at our good friends who need our help, then we can honestly see where we need improvement, can truly learn the lessons that we need to in order to grow, and SHAZAM!  We have been empowered!

From Thoughts to Destiny

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
― Frank Outlaw, Late President of the Bi-Lo Stores*

You can also add a line to begin this quote:  “Watch your beliefs; they become thoughts.”

So my question to you is this:  What kind of destiny are you on a path towards?  I believe “you are what you eat”** in many ways.  Over time I have reduced the unhealthy things I put in my body.  We all avoid toxins we know to be deadly.  Those that pose less of a threat and that offer us some reward (perceived or real) are harder to avoid.

“You are what you eat.”  So if I eat white bread I’ll be soft and fluffy.  <smile>  When we use the term “eat” more broadly to what we allow into our selves, we can consider all of the outside influences.  The things we hear and feel certainly influence us on a very deep level, often subconsciously and they definitely ‘invade’ our thoughts.

I have been consciously on the path to good health and happiness for a decade now.  Some things have been easier than others to achieve.  Realizing the toxic consequences of some of the people in my life has been the hardest part of my journey (to date, anyway!)  I knew that to be truly healthy, I would have to address these relationships.  It can be difficult to realize that “this relationship no longer suits me.”  And even more difficult to find  the strength to stand up for ourselves and do something about it.  

You can’t get results without actions.  (Thoughts -> Words -> Actions)  Some were easy, like acquaintances that only required a change in direction on my part.  By taking these steps and confronting (with love) my affiliations, some were even made stronger.  People don’t always realize the effect they have on others.  Unfortunately, not all could be saved.  I may still feel sad if I look back at a loss,  That said, I would much rather have a moment of sadness, than be continually stressed, hurt, angry, etc.

My actions have become habits.  I make sure to surround myself with people that have good intentions and I create healthy relationships whenever possible.

Thanks to all of this work, I can honestly say that no matter how bad of a day I might have, LIFE IS GOOD!  And I wish nothing less for you.

*History of the quote:  http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/01/10/watch-your-thoughts/
** Quote originated in the early 1800s to say that what a person eats determines their mental and physical health.  The 1800s!!