Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Courage to Make a Change

Yesterday I posted the following as my Facebook status:

Ok Mommas. Indulge me in a little market research here: What is your biggest obstacle to achieving excellent health? Assuming you know what you need to do to get and stay healthy, what prevents you from doing it? Looking forward to hearing your responses...

Thanks to all of you who shared. In truth, the responses were predictable, and yet they were also quite enlightening. You shared that the most common obstacles to achieving and maintaining excellent health are: lack of time, lack of money or resources, and lack of motivation. I hear you; I’ve been there and said all the same things. These are all real obstacles; thankfully, they all have simple and practical solutions. I can address these solutions in future blog posts. Or, I should probably say “review” them, because most of you have heard me say them before, or else, you already know them.

The fact is, most of you already know what it takes to be healthy.
You are all smart, well-read, and very informed. You’ve read strategies for creating quick and healthy meals, or you’ve talked about this a great deal with your real and virtual friends. You’ve been told how to create an exercise schedule, and pored over magazines for ideas and inspiration. We all have excuses for why we’re not putting this knowledge into action. It’s interesting what transpires between theory and reality, isn’t it?

Here’s what was really enlightening. When you spoke about your lack of motivation, or the challenges of being consistent, some of you called yourselves “lazy”. Really? Lazy? These “lazy” women, I happen to know, are CEOs of successful businesses, or run busy households, or spearhead community programs, or all of the above. Lazy you are not, my dears.

You have commitment issues. Yes, you. Me, too. It’s not challenging for me to commit to a regular yoga practice or exercise routine. I’ve been, thank G-d, eating healthfully for so long that it’s not a hurdle; it’s just what I do, who I am. But, I have plenty of reasonable excuses for other things, such as why I can’t seem to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I know, intellectually, that I require a certain amount of sleep. I feel, physically, the effects of asking my body to perform at a high level on insufficient rest. I know my family also feels these effects, and believe me, it isn’t pretty sometimes. But I haven’t been able to commit on a consistent basis. I share your struggle.

As I was contemplating how to convey this message without sounding overly harsh, I came across yoga teacher Christina Sell’s recent article in Yoga International. In the article, Christina talks about “sustained commitment”, meaning the non-negotiable commitments we make, guard carefully and practice consistently. We are committed to something, she says, when we do it “continuously, over a long period of time, with reverence and devotion”. In other words, make it holy, people.

Here’s my challenge to you:
pick ONE thing that you know would make you a happier, healthier person. Maybe it’s, as some of you said, committing to exercising x times a week, or spending an hour or two every week preparing healthy foods to have on hand for those hectic evenings, or taking an honest look at what fuels your emotional eating. Sanctify that commitment to yourself by carving out the time and space for it to happen, and then stick to it. Just do it, for one full month. We might never have “enough time”, or “enough money”, or a personal chef, or the perfect yoga pants, but we ALL have the integrity to create actions that match our highest visions of ourselves.

When we approach ourselves in this way, then, as Christina Sell says “our commitments…become promises we make to ourselves—intentions we set toward a nobler aspiration—instead of simply tasks we perform or rules we follow without much thought.”

Please keep me updated of your progress. Share the challenges as well as the triumphs. And, as one of my earliest yoga teachers used to say: Have courage.