This is Why I think YOU’RE AWESOME!

I can honestly say that I love people. I love listening to people talk, how they think, relate to one another. I am intrigued by human life; figures why I studied psychology! It never ceases to amaze me that every single one of us is different. I mean, YOU are 1 in 7.5 billion! Nobody is like YOU, nobody was ever YOU and nobody will ever be YOU. Isn’t that mind blowing?

Ok. Now. Stop.

Take this in. You are 1 in 7.5 fuckin’ billion.

WOW, right?

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We should be like fuckin’ jumping and shouting from the rooftops about how wonderful we are! The way you talk, the way you do things, the way you think is different than anybody else. Your signature is yours. Your voice. Your fingerprints. All YOU! Own it. Embrace it. Dip yourself in champagne for this is the best new we can get!

Let’s embrace this uniqueness. Let’s take a moment to feel how wonderful it is to be unlike anybody else. This also means that we owe it to the world to show the amazing things we, and only we, can do. We also owe it to those around us to raise each other up. To support one another. To cheer on our differences and embrace them.

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Let’s stop being complacent and think that “big” things and making a difference are only reserved for the special few, for the brightest, for the prettiest, for the ones most privileged by talent. It is often not the best or the brightest that succeed but the ones that work the hardest, that don’t give up on themselves, or their dreams and who believe that they will succeed no matter what. Let go of limiting beliefs that have kept you from being your authentic you. Shed the beliefs birthed from the failures of your past and use them to shine a light on your future.

Ok, someone stop me before I start lighting some incense and singing kumbaya…

I will leave you with a poem my mom read to me as a little girl and that stayed with me all these years.

“The Man who Thinks he Can”, by Walter D. Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are;

 

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you’d like to win, but think you can’t

It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost.

 

For out in the world we find

Success begins with a fellow’s will:

It’s all in his state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are:

 

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You’ll ever win that prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

 

To the stronger or faster man,

But sooner or later the man who wins

Is the one who thinks he can.

Keep seeing the good in the world and in ourselves, because it is always there if you choose to see it.

BEHIND THE HOCUS POCUS OF VISUALIZATION

This blog post was featured on the WUD (Wake Up Determined) website in May 2017 with the title HOW TO VISUALIZE YOUR GOAL INTO REALITY. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, here it is.

About 14 years ago, I laughed in the face of an acquaintance who told me that if I really wanted something to materialize itself in my life, I should visualize it and send my message out into the universe.

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Now this person had an “artsy-fartsy-hippie-chick-esoteric-I-read-The-Secret-too-many-times” nature, so of course I, the “grounded(haha)- art-major/psychology student”, did not take her seriously and actually thought she was a little cuckoo. Fast forward to today, here I am writing a post on the importance of visualization in order to reach any life goal! Ironic, isn’t it?

So what changed…

First, I started reading a bunch of self-development books because they do indeed help shape a positive mindset (another topic I balked at for years! Man the past just comes back and bites us in the ass, doesn’t it!). I found one common thread in all of these books: each one asked the reader to visualize, in some way or form, their success. Basically, it was along the lines of: Imagine what you would look like, feel like and say and do when you achieve that end goal. Then gather your resources and take the required actions.

It turns out, visualization is not a novel concept at all! In fact, written over 2,000 years ago, Aristotle summarized visualization this way: “First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” The guy was on to something! Now, why aren’t we all diving into this “hocus-pocus”? Same reason we stick with a job we dislike for so long, we put off exercising and stick with chicken when trying out a new restaurant: we are scared of what we don’t know! So to make it easier to understand, let me explain how visualization works…

The anatomy of visualization: What we focus on, we attract!

Remember the movie Inception? If you didn’t see it or forgot, one of the ideas behind it was that planting the seed of a thought (or dream) in someone’s mind was enough to have them re-create their reality that led to a certain fate or sequence of events. Therefore, when we visualize or create an image of a goal in our mind, we are planting a visual, concrete thought in our conscious brain. We then focus on that image and change our state as you see, feel and taste what achieving that goal would be like. You still with me?

As a result, you activate a part of your brain that helps guide your focus; the Reticular Activation System (RAS). The RAS will help you scope out those opportunities and be more attentive to tools and ways to help you achieve your goal.

The whaaaaaat? The R-A-whaaat?

In essence, the RAS is a filter that sifts through the large amount of data that we pick up from our five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell on a daily basis. It’s what keeps us from getting overwhelmed by the massive amount of stimuli passing through our sensory organs every second of the day. Without it, we would simply go mad! The RAS basically determines what we consciously decide to give our attention to at a moment in time, the rest just gets filtered out.

RAS

So are you starting to see the connection? When we set concrete goals or visualize a goal, we are telling our RAS that anything associated with these goals is important to us. As a result, our RAS brings to our attention information and opportunities to help us achieve our goals. Magic isn’t it?!? Makes sense, right?

Here’s a situation that might make this concept a little more concrete: Remember when you wanted to buy a car and was looking for a certain model or brand, and then started seeing that same model and brand pop up everywhere? No, people didn’t start rushing to buy the car you wanted at the moment you wanted to buy one too, it is your brain that started being more attuned to focus your attention on your purchase idea!

NOTE: CONCRETE EXAMPLE AHEAD

Now, a more personal story of how visualization works! Let’s take the example of a close friend of mine (ok, that would be me!), who wanted to finally lose the last 18 post-pregnancy pounds. I never fully committed to exercising in my life and was afraid I would injure myself doing any type of physical activity (true story, true phobia!).

Before even starting the fitness program, my coach asked me to visualize myself 18 pounds lighter. What would that look like to me? I would feel more energetic, I would be able to wear all my cool pre-pregnancy designer clothes, I would feel confident strutting a bikini, I would not cringe when my husband touched my stomach, … So I formed a detailed picture in my mind and would picture it regularly whether it was on my commute to work, while I was cleaning the dishes, before going to bed, etc. But I didn’t stop there. My next step: I started working out. I was more attentive to how the exercise felt and how good I felt afterwards. I started seeing health cues and posts and articles everywhere on social media sites. I started to tune into what was going to help me accomplish my goal. I started joining more fitness Facebook groups and found resources more easily. As people saw my new lifestyle, I started sharing my journey and got support and motivation from others who were going after the same goals. What started with a mental image led to tuning in to resources readily available to me and seeking new tools that I may not have seen if the initial seed (goal) was not planted.

So, NO, you can’t simply wish yourself rich or skinny or getting promoted and think it will happen. Wishing and visualizing the way I described earlier are two distinct concepts. Visualizing without focus and actions is simply being naïve and… well… stupid!

As for my fairytale ending, I did end up losing those stubborn 18 pounds and have been able to keep it off for a year now. I am working out 6 days a week and made healthy changes to my diet. I feel more confident in what I accomplished by putting my mind to achieving a specific goal. I’m rocking all my cool pre-pregnancy and I’m definitely looking forward to struttin’ my stuff in a bikini this Summer!

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Now, tell me, what are you visualizing for yourself right now?

Celebrating your Non-Scale Victories!

You know the feeling when you set your mind on getting healthy and over the course of several weeks, you’ve been giving your all by working out, skimping on treats and opting for clean eats and, as a results, you feel great, walk in a room with more confidence! Then, one day, you cheerfully step on the scale to quantify your success… and boom! WHAT THE F**K?!? The number is not what you expected to see, it may have even gone up! (I used to change the battery every time this happened! Couldn’t be me, naaaaah!)

Woman-with-Scale

Now you feel like sh*t! You are hopeless, feel like all the work you invested didn’t amount to anything and are ready to throw in the towel. This is what would happen to me over and over again. This is what happens to most people who follow a program and start to commit to a healthy lifestyle. We want results fast! Why haven’t I Iost 2/5/10 pounds, I’ve been eating healthy for 5 days now!?!? Why don’t my abs show, I have been doing my sit-ups for a whole week?!? We all have these thoughts when we are starting out. They are normal thoughts and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for having them. You have worked hard. It takes superpowers sometimes to say NO to that delicious ooey-gooey chocolatey brownie your co-worker has just offered you.

So what gives? Where are the results?

In the first several weeks of starting a program, our bodies are adapting. We may have started weight training, which pumps the muscles with blood as they are getting stronger. We may be upping our water intake, so we may be having more water weight for a while, our hormones are also adapting to the chemical changes occurring when eating healthy clean foods. During this time, your muscles are getting stronger. Your heart is pumping more blood and getting active, your blood pressure is adjusting and circulation is improving.

After a couple of weeks…

  • You start feeling more energized.
  • You are in a better mood.
  • Clothes are fitting differently, better.
  • You are starting to see some definition in your legs/arms/stomach.
  • You sleep better.
  • You are more motivated to do more at work and in your workouts.
  • You can run, jump, squat with more endurance.
  • You workout out regularly and are enjoying it.
  • You have more control over your cravings.
  • You start having a more positive mindset.
  • You up your water intake.
  • You make better food choices at home and in restaurants.
  • You meal plan for the week.
  • You eat within your calorie range.
  • You have more energy to keep up with the kids.
  • Your immune system is stronger.
  • You are more in-tune with your body.
  • You are more focused at work.
  • You feel less stressed.

These are all examples of NON-SCALE VICTORIES (NSV)! We need to celebrate these NSVs and be proud of our accomplishments (regardless of the number on the scale).

I had one challenger that committed to a program and during the 4-week challenge lost only 2 pounds on the scale but lost 11 inches in total when she took her measurements again! In my case, I have remained the same weight since the holidays but my arms and stomach are more defined now. Keep in mind: Muscle does not weigh more than fat. One pound of fat is the same as one pound of muscle but it’s denser! It takes up less space, your body is leaner even if you weigh a couple of pounds more!

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scale (1)

Let’s make a pact and stop fretting about that number on the scale. Instead, let’s show the scale who’s boss and measure success by how we feel, our energy level, our happiness level, our confidence level that we can do anything we put our minds to.

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Share you’re non-scale victory and let’s celebrate together!