Is it working?

Just a quick one – I think I’ve lost a few pounds.  Pretty sure.

Plus I took this running trail selfie this morning and it strikes me that I look better – heathier?  Yes, I think so.

merun8-27

Oh yeah – I love my fitbit.  That is all.

New Moons, getting older, making changes, and my fat ass.

newmoon2

I am not into astrology and can barely remember that it’s not astronomy.  But it seems that tomorrow marks the “new moon in Virgo” and as my crunchy hippy daughter shared a link about it on Facebook (and that’s how I know!), I read it and wowie got excited.

So here’s a snipped from http://www.mysticmamma.com/new-moon-in-virgo-august-25th-2014/ – 

NEW MOON in Virgo is here and the energy in the air is about healing and rewiring our old programming with mindful awareness, self-love and forgiveness.

OMG IKNOWRITE??

http://losangeles.kabbalah.com/events-classes/new-moon-virgo:

The New Moon of Virgo is a time to start fresh and write out a new plan for the next 6 months. It is a time to look inward and cleanse ourselves of our negative traits and to go out renewed in our actions to cleanse the world. 

Seriously.  So it seems the stars are all aligned up to bang on each other, confuse the shit out of me, and I’m supposed to go with it and reprogram my life – after the 25th, the door swings open and everything aligns for us if we do the work.  And a whole bunch of other stuff.  

Okey dokey!

It’s a rather amusing concept as I look around at my (again) messy house.  M and I stayed up till nearly 2am talking.  It was so good – he’s struggled so much this year, and the loss of our dog (HIS dog) just pushed him too far.  We talked about how we want to live our lives, where we want to live our lives, all of it.  And as always, he loves me so much.  He’s so appreciative that I’ve been able to be patient with him as he navigates these waters.

I think one thing that we agree on is that where we are right now isn’t where we want to be.  We don’t care for the area, the house, the way we both work from home (nice as it is), etc.  And if my daughter bravely moving off to Korea has showed us anything, it’s that we crave a new adventure.

Now, M is still in bed and he’ll wake up exactly the same as he did yesterday.  I don’t.  I look around and begin planning.

These last 2 weeks have been all about change – and about being ok with it when I can’t affect change immediately, when I fail a little.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of my 3rd week of this change, and I feel renewed.  I must get this house clean.  Get to the gym.  Run my errands.  Prepare for my work week and begin planning how to renew myself at work – to study harder, to not waste time, so that good things will happen in my career.  Continue to be financially responsible.  And do the things I used to love, like painting or drawing, or find new things…  Be more social.

SO MUCH!

Scale shows a small weight loss, just a couple pounds, tape measure confirms I’m just a little smaller.  But everything else has slid into a hot mess – well, shows the ability to, anyway.  So I think I’ll take my New Moon in Virgo, thanks.

Something else that has been weighing on my mind is aging, of course.  Then I found some amazing pictures that also revived me – 

grey1  Seeing pictures of such beautiful mature women made me feel better and hammered home the fact that we are youth obsessed, and my youth is gone.  But not my beauty, and not what makes me interesting.  I’ve been a BORE for the last 10 years.  

So, again, NEW MOON IN VIRGO bring it!!

 

 

Gin and ice cream.

No, not together.  But both still nice.  

I’ve lost 2 pounds.  Of course, I weigh myself obsessively while telling everyone what a bad thing that is to do, and I had gin (and ice cream, but again, not together) last night and woke up feeling like a bear pooped in my mouth, so I could easily wake up tomorrow and be the same weight I was yesterday.

Or not.  I count my calories like a crazy lady, and I’ve been MOVING every day.  Maybe not weights, maybe not the gym, but moving.  Yoga, mowing the lawn, running, doing squats in the kitchen – just moving.  So eventually, something’s got to give.  And if it doesn’t, ok.  I’ll still be healthier than I was yesterday.

everydayBeen thinking about that (^^^) a lot lately.  Been thinking about being positive, giving back, doing a lot more with my life than what I’ve been doing.  I see what makes people happy and what makes them unhappy and miserable to be around.

One thing I’m doing a whole lot less of is wasting time on internet message boards arguing and/or insulting idiots.  It’s a fantastic way to blow a whole lot of time – except it’s not.  I’ve learned to be a better debater, I’ve learned how to research things, I’ve learned more about the world around me.  And I’ve learned that there are some truly stupid, mean people in this world and I’ve learned about all they can teach me.

I’m also becoming much more active – I don’t want to sit around all night.  Last night, I went and bugged the neighbors – hence the slight hangover.  M wouldn’t come.  I don’t mind the hangover too badly, because I can’t just sit inside this house 24/7.

Now.  40 ounces of water down (SO dehydrated!), 3 ibuprofen and 1 very strong cup of detox tea – I think I’m ready to start my day.

Today I will better myself by cleaning the shit out of this house, continuing to eat healthy, not drink a bunch of gin, and do some kind of exercise.  

Love, me.

 

Me and yoga are in a fight.

My gym membership expired last week, and I hadn’t worked out in three weeks.  So pretty out of shape!  My gym is expensive; it’s a university facility so while it’s pretty nice, it’s not cheap.  And the weight room can get a little crowded with student meat heads.

So I checked out a much less expensive, smaller, closer gym – no squat rack.  Oh well; guess I need to go renew my membership.  For now, I decided to try a few new things – like yoga!  I thought I was pretty bendy, turns out not so much.  I like it – a new challenge.  Strength training is so important, but I think I’ll combine it with beginners yoga and the occasional cardio when it’s nice.

I’m sore though, in places I didn’t know existed.

Went for a run this morning – such a pretty morning, felt good.  Look at the weight on my face!  

me_aug13

Robin Williams died today.

Apparently a suicide, after suffering from severe depression and alcoholism.

Alcoholism and depression feed each other in a vicious circle – you self medicate to ease the pain and bring some forget, but you make bad decisions that depress you more, so you self medicate…  and on and on.

It’s hard to imagine him feeling so depressed, in such pain.  Loved, talented, successful.

All day I’ve been thinking of how much positive I need in my life, and it makes me think of conversations friends and I have had about depression – half the battle is the little mind-game of recognizing the thought patterns that can drag you down, and to avoid them.  To consciously avoid the negative and focus on the positive.

It’s what I’ve been doing all day, and I feel so good about it.

But I’ll miss Robin Williams.  I feel grief that a man with such a beautiful, delightful gift felt so much pain he killed himself and left his wife and children without him.

robin-williams

All the changes will be mine.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  My house is a mess, I’m just a little hungover, but that’s OK.

So much has happened over the last 12 to 15 months, so many crazy things, so many tears – it’s all we can do to keep up with this Year of the Horse.  Alrighty then, universe.  Bring it.  But changes to me will be mine – whether deliberate or not.  If I’m not deliberately doing it, I’ll still own it.  All the changes will be mine.

My teacher is my daughter, who left me yesterday to travel to the other side of the world and become a kindergarten ESL teacher in South Korea.  That’s why I’m a little hung – apparently, the permanent umbilical cord does indeed stretch that far, but it tugs mightily and it hurts.  Not comfortable at all.  After a crazy 3 weeks of preparing for this, and our dog dying, and a weekend spent cooking and entertaining for her going-away, I sat outside and surfed and drank and stalked her flight like a crazy lady.

I made this pictorial graphic to illustrate:

northpole1

Then several others, then I went to bed.  She landed at 3am.  

She has grabbed onto her life to make it what she wants, and I can do that too.  

This is a picture my younger daughter took of us at the airport:

belly2

Granted, I am standing like a sloppy slut, but STILL.

So – today is a new day.  Over the day I will work, clean, work out, eat right, and all the things normal people do.

Starting now.

10 common mistakes that prevent you from being healthy

Wow.  I need to hang onto this and all it’s links:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/slow-gains/201401/10-common-mistakes-prevent-you-being-healthy

10 Common Mistakes That Prevent You from Being Healthy

Living a healthy and happy life is about much more than just diet and exercise.
 
I’m fascinated by the link between the way we live our daily lives and the health and happiness we enjoy.

There are choices that you make every day, some of which seem completely unrelated to your health and happiness, that dramatically impact the way you feel mentally and physically.

With that said, here are 10 common mistakes that can prevent you from being happy and healthy, and the science to back them up.

 

1. Avoiding deep and meaningful connections (like marriage, close friendships, and staying in touch with family)

Ultimately, the human experience is about connecting with other people. Connection is what provides value and meaning to our lives. We’re wired for it and research proves just that.

For example, people with strong social ties were found to be healthier and have a lower risk of death. Additionally, it was found that as age increases, the people with stronger social ties tend to live longer. And it seems that friendships can even help you fight cancer

The benefits of deep relationships extend to marriage as well. Being in a long-term relationship decreases the risk of depression, suicide, and substance abuse. And one study of almost 6,000 people found that marriage led to increased longevity while never marrying was the strongest predictor of premature death. 

Finally, multiple studies (herehere, and here) show that strong family ties are one of the primary reasons the people of Okinawa, Japan have incredible longevity despite being one of the poorest prefectures in the country.

What do all of these different studies tell us? 

Connection and belonging are essential for a healthy and happy life. Whether it’s friendship, marriage, or family — humans need close connections to be healthy.

For more about the connection between loneliness and health, I suggest reading the New York Times best-seller Mind Over Medicine, which was written by my friend Dr. Lissa Rankin.

 

2. Sitting all day.

You might want to stand up for this. The internet has gone crazy over this infographic that describes the harmful effects of sitting all day.

The short version is that “recreational sitting” like sitting in front of a TV screen increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and death, regardless of your physical activity. Obviously, sitting at a desk for work isn’t too good either.

This troubling data doesn’t come from small sample sizes either. These trends held true in one study with 4,500 people, another with 8,800 people, and a final one with over 240,000 participants. If you’re looking for more details on the health risks of sitting, this New York Times article covers some of the basics.

 

3. Never stopping to just breathe.

A few years ago, I was speaking with a yoga instructor who told me, “I think people love my class because it’s the only time in their entire day when they just sit and breathe.”

That provides some interesting food for thought. From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, do you ever take 15 minutes to just sit and breathe? I rarely do. And that’s a shame because the benefits ofmindfulness and meditation are huge. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety. Meditation improves your quality of life and boost your immune system. Meditation has been shown to decrease anger and improvesleep, even among prison inmates.

 

4. Not joining a religion — or otherwise becoming part of a community.

There is an interesting and growing body of medical research that has discovered the positive health effects of religion and spirituality. The science doesn’t necessarily say that there is anything inherently healthy about religion, but it’s all the by-products that come from practicing religion that can make a big difference.

For example, people with strong faith often release control of their struggles and worries to a higher power, which can help to relieve anxiety and stress. Religious groups also offer a strong source of community and friendships, which is critical for health and happiness. In many cases, the strength of friendships formed with fellow believers can last for decades, and those strong personal ties are crucial for long-term health.

If you don’t consider yourself to be a religious person, then the lesson to takeaway from this body of research is that we all need a sense of belonging and community in our lives. It’s important to share your beliefs (whatever they happen to be about) with a community of people. People who have a community like that to lean on find themselves happier and healthier than those who lack that type of support. 

As a starting point, you can read studies on the religion-health connectionhere, here, and here.

 

5. Ignoring your creative abilities.

Expressing yourself creatively reduces the risk of disease and illness while simultaneously strengthening your health and wellness. For example, this study from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that art helps to reduce stress and anxiety, increase positive emotions, and reduce the likelihood of depression, along with many other benefits. 

Another study, which was published in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, discovered that creative writing improved the immune system response of HIV patients. For more ideas on why creating art is healthy, read this: The Health Benefits of Creativity.

 

6. Spending all day indoors.

Exploring the world around you — whether that means traveling to faraway lands or hiking through the woods in your area — provides a wide range of mental and physical benefits. For starters, the benefits of sunlight (and the negative effects of artificial light) are well-documented in research.

Additionally, researchers have begun to discover that wilderness excursions — known as “adventure therapy” — can promote weight loss, improve the self-esteem of people with mental illness, and even reduce the rearrest rates of sex offenders. 

The central theme that runs through all of these studies is that exploring the outdoors and spending time in nature can increase the confidence you have in yourself and improve your ability to interact with others.

 

7. Spending your time consuming instead of contributing.

 When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

Contribution is an essential part of living a life that is happy, healthy, and meaningful. Too often we spend our lives consuming the world around us instead of creating it. We overdose on low quality information. We live sedentary lives and passively eat, watch, and soak up information rather than creating, contributing, and building our own things. 

As I wrote in this article…

“You can’t control the amount of time you spend on this planet, but you can control what you contribute while you’re here. These contributions don’t have to be major endeavors. Cook a meal instead of buying one. Play a game instead of watching one. Write a paragraph instead of reading one. You don’t have to create big contributions, you just need to live out small ones each day.”

 

8. Working in a job that you don’t love.

As you might expect, it’s dangerous to work too much. In Japan, the overtime and workplace stress has become so bad that they actually have a label for the people who die because of it: karoshi, which literally means “death by overwork.”

Basically any way in which your job makes you feel stressed is bad for your health — unpredictable commutes, tension and disagreement with your boss or coworkers, feeling undervalued or unappreciated. Even working overtime increases the risk for coronary heart disease, independent of outside factors.

What can you do about it? No one strategy will work for everyone, of course, but the principles in The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor offer a great place to start.

 

9. Eating alone. 

Brian Wansink, a Cornell professor and author of Mindless Eating, has written that when people eat alone they are more likely to have a large binge feeding. Additionally, diets suffer when people eat alone. Lonely diners tend to eat fewer vegetables and less healthy meals. It seems that we make less of an effort to eat well when we are by ourselves than when someone else is involved.

Given that an estimated one out of three people eat lunch at their desk, it’s easy to see how these little choices add up to big health problems over the long-term.

 

10. Believing that you are unworthy of health, happiness, and love.

Brene Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston and she has spent 10 years studying vulnerability. In recent years, her work has exploded with popularity as she delivered one of the most popular TED Talks of all-time and has written multiple best-selling books includingDaring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.

As Brown studied fear, uncertainty, and vulnerability, she discovered one key insight…

There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who struggle for it. And that was that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.

That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. The one thing that keeps us out of connection is the fear that we’re not worthy of connection.

—Brene Brown

If you allow your fear or vulnerability or shame to prevent you from showcasing your true self, then you will be preventing yourself from connecting fully with others. If you want to be able to move past fear, judgement, and uncertainty and into a healthier and happier life, then you have to give yourself permission first. You have to decide that you’re worthy.

For much deeper and more useful discussion of vulnerability, I suggest reading Brown’s books: Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.

 

What Do You Need to Be Healthy?

Living a healthy life is about much more than just diet and exercise. Don’t forget about the 10 areas above because they play a significant role in your health and happiness.

As my friend Lissa Rankin often says, “What does your body need to heal?”

In many cases it’s not a better diet or a new workout program, it’s one of these areas that might be impacting your health and happiness without you even realizing it.

 

James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares ideas for using behavior science to master your habits, improve your health, and do better work. For more ideas on how to increase your mental and physical performance, join his free newsletter.

A version of this post originally appeared on JamesClear.com.