No Amount of Change Can Buy Change

Recently a potential client asked my opinion of a nutritional supplementation line used and promoted by many crossfitters and fitness enthusiasts. I have been approached several times about promoting various lines of products that include proclamations of, “sugar free sources of long lasting energy,” “all natural,” and,”chemical and toxin free,” on their labels. Regardless of the product it is my unrelenting conviction that the crusade for optimal health begins with behavioral changes in how we approach food. There is no product on the market today that forces anyone to make behavioral changes; we have to do that ourselves.

Without burying this post in a diatribe on the, “special ingredients,” that are responsible for selling hope to thousands of people, I can say with great certainty that the results people experience from these products are either short lived (show me the longitudinal studies – there are none), or the effect of embracing better nutrition and exercise habits. So, when we cut through the fat of what these products are promising, we find that real, lasting changes occur because of healthier choices, not because of a product.

The potential client did not like my response. His counter argument was, “Yeah but what about for real people. People who aren’t personal trainers and have to work in an office and have kids and busy lives?” Slightly offended that I don’t come across as a “real person,” my response is this: We all have the same 24 hours in the day. I often work 9+ hour days at various locations without access to proper nutrition. I have to pack a cooler of food to keep with me so that I can survive. The calories I require to teach classes, train clients and transport equipment is is often greater than the “real people,” sitting at a desk, which means I have to prepare even more food. While i have not personally been blessed with children, the time I invest into starting and growing a small business and all that entails (I won’t bore you with the list) absorbs my free time in the same way. When I grew up I ate what my parents made available to me or I didn’t eat. Those who see nothing wrong with poisoning their precious gifts from God (and I mean that sincerely because children truly are) with fast food and other such garbage for the purpose of convenience or pacification may want to re-evaluate some priorities.

Priorities are really what our behavior relating to food is tied to. Meaning, if something is truly important and a priority to you, you will find a way to make it happen, period. No excuses, no victim mentality.

Change is this nebulous area floating around outside our orb of comfort. Change means possible uncertainty, letting go of the fear of failure, faulty footing or low confidence at first. Change means letting go of bad habits and consistently practicing new ones even when it sucks and you don’t want to. Change means altering routine and choosing what is better instead of what is socially acceptable, popular or most convenient. Change means holding yourself accountable, ending the pity party and breaking free of the chains binding you to the spin cycle that has been the past. Change means taking one baby step and focus all intentions on the next step forward.

None of the above paragraph is available in a bottle, pouch, canister, vial, video, box, gym or even with a personal trainer! Yes, that’s right, your personal trainer can’t change you. But, the great, awesome, wonderful news is that YOU can. Yes you can. Everything you need to be the person, have the health and feel and function the way you want to is within you and no one or nothing else. Life is happening right now. What are you waiting for?

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Behind Closed Doors

Why is it that we can excel and consistently improve in certain areas of our lives like our jobs,  skills, time management and hobbies? Yet when it comes to other areas of life, like close interpersonal relationships, self-treatment, weight loss, personal organization and routine health regimes we often struggle to keep our ships from sinking? One argument would be that we are more diligent in areas of full exposure that produce desirable rewards and, conversely, undesirable consequences; and we let the ball drop when we are alone and there is no audience to witness our behaviors.

This meandering is exploring why the standard by which we conduct our public lives is sometimes drastically lowered when the spectators of our lives are dismissed and we are released to our own personal temples. It is my experience that tiers of importance exist in regards to relationships. Those on the top-tier who receive the very best of us, who can provide us with accolades, affirmation, validation, elevation and recognition are many times customers, bosses, pastors, clients, potential dates, patients and anyone else in a position to provide some type of reward for our exceptional treatment of them. For these people we are able to maintain or actively strive to maintain a healthy responsive, rather than reactionary relationship. We are usually willing to say yes as often as possible, check in with them as often as possible, do not allow our personal issues to be projected onto them and try to leave a good impression with each interaction.

The next step down from the top-tier still have it pretty good! Second tiered people include co-workers, fellow church members, teammates, volunteer partners, and I’m just going to say it, the baristas at Starbucks. Certainly there are times that all of these people needle our skin, but in the interest of presenting ourselves as agreeable, cooperative and helpful people we choose to tolerate, humor and find common ground with them. The degree to which we would expose any lack of control or composure around these people is minimal because those who do not love us cannot as easily forgive and forget our flaws.

At the end of the day, once the top tiered classes have been pacified and impressed sufficiently it is time to close our driver’s side door and begin the unveiling process. Our drive home brings us face to face with the third tier of people; ourselves and our families. Maybe it was a rough day, peppered with stress and we are just exhausted and not feeling well that brings us halfheartedly home. So often it is the case that most of the pleasantries, sweet smiles and extra miles we run for the rest of the world are empty in the presence of our own selves and our loved ones. Most of us are much quicker to get snippy with a spouse, child or room-mate than we would our boss. Yelling, screaming, silent treatment and other emotionally manipulative tactics that often rise up in our private lives are also excluded from our behavior in the top tiers.  The internal dialogue we have with our own selves also is much more severe than what we would engage in with a complete stranger. Sometimes the personas we present to the world require so much effort to maintain that when we exit the stage, we enter a dark alley way that drags us a great distance from the bright lights of broadway.

If this in any way connects with something you experience there is a way to completely eliminate the status of that third tier and it is through freedom of choice and awareness.  Starting with simply striving to treat yourself and loved ones as good or better than you would treat the person who will be writing your review is a good place. Maybe instead of getting pissed that something didn’t get done, you give the same patience that you give your boss who promised a million times to get you what you needed. And lastly, maybe instead of placing your own head on the chopping block for indiscretions and stumbles, you remove blame and shame from the equation and reflect on how to improve yourself and future situations, just as you would advise someone new on the job.

Often improving the behaviors, thoughts and feelings that transpire behind closed doors is as simple as opening all doors, de-compartmentalizing your life and embracing the beautiful, unique and special person that you are in every tier of life.

Frosted Fields Forever

DISCLAIMER:
The purpose of this poem is to raise awareness about the negative effects of sugar in this month where the over indulgence of it is heavily promoted. Please refer to attached links to learn about how sugar can negatively impact so many different aspects of our lives. We are ALL addicts at some level, so there is no judgement, persecution or holier than thou attitude attached to these lyrics. We are all wading through the research and trying to find a balance that works for each individual.

Fields of white crystal
Unprocessed in the cane
Teeming with anticipation
Of the next slave they will claim
Babies slipped their first hit
At the age of one
We all hide behind the masses
Renaming poison and calling it tradition.
What starts as so innocent
A harmless controlled exposure
Devolves into addiction
Perpetuates obesity, diabetes and accelerates us getting older.
Imagine a world where we don’t even need
Medicine that requires a spoonful to succeed
Call me a fanatic or downer for preaching the truth
Or rise up, unshackle and embrace the proof.

Sugar and Arthritis:
http://arthritis-research.com/content/14/1/R13

Sugar and Mood/Affect/Mental Illness:
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/22/How-Eating-Sugar-Can-Cause-Mental-Illness.aspx

Sugar and Adrenal/Endocrine Dysfunction
http://divinehealthfromtheinsideout.com/2012/08/how-blood-sugar-affects-the-adrenals-endocrine-system

Sugar and Energy Levels:(old, but still good research)
http://www.csulb.edu/~thayer/SugarSnackVsWalk.pdf

Sugar and Cancer:
http://www.mercola.com/article/sugar/sugar_cancer.htm

Sugar and Sex Hormones:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071109171610.htm

Sugar and the Brain:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201302/why-our-brains-love-sugar-and-why-our-bodies-dont