Posted by: Suzan | June 2, 2016

Embracing Small Changes for Big Health Results




Do you think radically changing your lifestyle is necessary? You don’t need to become a vegetarian, vegan, or a raw foodie if this isn’t for you. There is also no obligation to run a marathon, bike a century, or hike some challenging mountain. Do you believe you must sit and meditate for one hour each day for it to have an effect? For some people this may be the path, yet for most it can become overwhelming if we feel we must go to these extremes to be fit and well in both body and mind.

At the start of 2016 many of us wanted to take a big chunk out of the year, at the very beginning. We declared we’d completely change our diet, fitness routines and/or spiritual practices. This year would be IT. Can you relate?

We had excellent intentions yet burned out quickly because we had no idea what this transformation entailed. Once we realized all of the preparation required with food to change our diets, as well as, all the time and energy with exercise training, we gave it up. And when we sat to meditate and our thoughts would not stop pestering us, we slowly returned to our old ways. Sound familiar?

Regrettably we return to our old habits, yet this time with a grudge against ourselves for not pulling it off- once again…. letting ourselves down with a big thud.

What if there is another way? And “drum roll” here, what if it can be simpler and easier to attain? I encourage you to embrace, IT CAN! Consider making small changes to your lifestyle. Select four modifications for the year ahead (and you can begin at any time of the year, not just the “New Year”). Half-way through the year is as good a time as any. Allow yourself three months for each one to become a positive habit. When we are gentle with ourselves and generous with the time required, amazing results can occur.

To improve your diet, have a salad and/or steamed/grilled vegetables at least three times per week (or more if you’re open to it). You can make a big salad and/or a large pot of veggies for the week on Sunday night and then take it to work for your lunches. You might try squeezing lemons and sprinkling some olive oil as your salad dressing so you aren’t using the processed versions. This alone could be your tiny change. You could make a fruit smoothie in the morning. Try making it with almond or coconut milk and also add in protein powder, flaxseed or whatever you prefer. Add avocado for a healthy fat and also rich, delicious addition to your smoothie. If you’re like me, I don’t always eat enough fruit so this works well.

To be more fit, you could find a walking or running partner and get out three times per week. This is a great way to stay connected with your friend or family member and also exercise. I often plan visits with friends along hiking trails or walking paths rather than meeting out for lunch. You can also join a hiking or running group through the Sierra Club   or a meet up group:  Encourage one another. Who knows maybe you’ll climb that big mountain or run that marathon (or 5 K race, it’s all relative) with this level of support.

I also carpool with neighbor friends for certain classes at the YMCA. There is something about my friend showing up in the car which really gets me to the class! (it’s definitely not just about the transportation)

To learn to meditate, do so in small increments. Begin with five minutes a day and work your way up to 20 minutes (in five minute intervals every 15-30 days). Create the right ambience. Find a quiet space, light a candle, listen to nature sounds or a guided meditation as this is often great for beginners. Use a mantra or a saying which you repeat to distract you from your own thoughts. An example would be as you’re breathing in say, “Peace and Calm,” then as you breathe out say, “Releasing Stress and Worry.” Try counting 1, 2, 3, and 4 as you breathe in; then holding 1, 2, 3, and 4; then breathing out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6; to help you not obsess over whatever projects or concerns await you.

What are you committed to? Would you like to make a small change with your diet, exercise program, or spiritual practices? Decide what is most important to you and then take a step. A baby step is fine.

Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare. The one who goes at the slower pace always wins. To become healthier, start with small changes. Then finish strong.



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