No Matter What – Day 10

Modern Elevator Hall Interior

G:  What choices have you made that, had you made a different choice, you feel your life would have been completely different. Not necessarily better or worse but just different.

P:  Last month I had an opportunity to make a choice that would have definitely changed life as I know it.  You can read about it in my post The One That Got Away.

Although it may appears as though nothing has changed externally, I can assure you that everything has rearranged itself internally.

I have this saying in my office that reads, “The deepest joy exists in those rare instances of clarity when there is no wanting, no yearning, no clinging to some idealized life we believe exists somewhere other than exactly where we are.”

I got to experience of one those rare instances of clarity as I struggled to choose between the dream I’d held onto for the past 20 years and the reality I’d been quietly but consciously concocting the last 8.

I got to think about other choices I’d made that could have radically changed the course of my life. Like choosing to remain in the Midwest instead of going to graduate school in California right after 9/11.  Or staying at my fitness job in Texas instead of moving to Mexico to work at an upscale spa long before that.

In the end I simply reminded myself we are always where we need to be, doing exactly what we need to be doing.  Actually, this was one of my “wear sunscreen” pieces of advice I wrote for graduates in my booklet, The Graduate’s Guide to Life.

I came across this today by Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big Magic.  “I understand that the best you can hope for in such a situation is to let your old idea go and catch the next idea that comes around. And the best way for that to happen is to move on swiftly, with humility and grace.  Don’t fall into a funk about the one that got away.  Don’t beat yourself up.  Don’t rage at the gods above.”

And I absolutely love this from Dear Sugar, aka Cheryl Strayed, “I’ll never know and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

So here I am now, gratefully writing from – I kid you not – Shoreline Drive, saluting all the ships that have sailed without me.

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Join us in playing the No Matter What Game. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  Or contact Gillian at www.gillianpearce.com and arrange to have her send you your very own prompts to get your creative juices flowing .

The Cost of a Midlife Crisis

At this time of year it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the hassles of the holidays and costs of Christmas gifts, parties, and travel arrangements.
To keep this in perspective, I thought it would be interesting to look at the often untallied costs of what might commonly be called a midlife crisis.
A few months ago Daisy Barton was kind enough to share this infographic as a way to illustrate those often misunderstood course corrections many are compelled to make at midlife.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the graphics do the talking. However, I’d love to hear your comments below.
Midlife Crisis Costs
Source: Accounting-Degree.org

Detox Take Away #4 – Size Matters

Measure design

The size of our plate, the height and width of our glass, the comfort level of our clothes. According toBrian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and author of the book Mindless Eating, these are just a few of the factors that play a part in our ongoing effort to battle the bulge.

Unfortunately, these covert attempts at mind manipulation are so subtle that we seldom realize they could be  leading to weight gain.  This slippery slope can be as simple the 25 extra calories a day that add up to 2.5 pounds a year or 25 pounds in a decade.
A normal serving size on an 8 inch plate might look like an appetizer on a 12 inch plate. A drink in a tall, slender glass might seem more like a shot in a short, wide tumbler.  Wearing a track suit to a buffet may feel better than sporting Spanx or a body shaper, but if we constantly wear loose-fitting clothing, we can easily lose sight of the weight measurement many of us rely on more than a scale – how our clothes fit.
While most of us are aware of the dangers of super-sizing, we remain blissfully unaware of the advantage food marketers have on the subliminal marketing of their products. They are brilliant at getting their brands to look delicious, desirable, and therefore, in high demand.
But you and I know better. Or at least we think we do. It takes constant awareness and presence to keep our wits about us and we navigate the aisles of our supermarkets, health food co-ops, and menus at our favorite eating establishments. They are all equipped with weapons of mass distraction, designed to derail us from our best intentions of making conscious choices about how we nourish ourselves and our families.
What I learned from the detox is it takes a lot of practice to implement these ideas. It also takes a lot of education. Fortunately there are tons of books, blogs, websites, articles, and programs intent on bringing us out of the dark ages of nutrition and into the light of a new dietary day. Admittedly, the information can be overwhelming, confusing, and even conflicting.
My goal is to gather the resources I’ve found to be most helpful in my journey and share them with you. I’ll get them to you in the next week.
In the meantime, become a detective. Discover the hidden ways you are being influenced and literally shaped by habits that you may not have questioned before.
I’ll leave you with some food for thought:

  • What is a serving size? What does it look like? How does it look different depending on the size and even the color of the plate, glass, or container?
  • Do you think you eat more calories consuming handfuls of pretzels in front of the television or computer screen or sitting down at the table with a piece of pie? (Hint: When you’re unconscious about what or how much you’re eating, you’re going to eat more.)
  • How many decisions about food do you think you make per day? (Hint: It’s closer to 200 than 20.) Do you see how the sheer number can lead to poor choices?
  • Do you eat more of an item if you leave the box or package or dish on the table than if you put it back in the pantry or stove? (Hint: Make it inconvenient to grab more.)

That’s today’s take away.  Next up:  Hunger Games.  Hunger is not the enemy.
Share if you dare below any questions, insights, or ideas.  Thanks for reading.

Detox Take Away #1 – Freedom through Discipline

sign direction risk - reward
As a former free-spirit, if anyone dared to suggest my life might be easier by imposing a few more rules or a little more structure,  I would have laughed. Wanting to be free to move at a moment’s notice or leap whether the net appeared or not, I was all about keeping my options open.
Eventually all that uncertainty takes its toll.  Ironically, the kind of freedom I was really craving came through discipline.
Nowhere was this more obvious than in my approach to eating.
Years of pretending to be eating healthy while skipping meals, over consuming carbohydrates, and leading a more sedentary lifestyle was a definite detour from the wellness way I thought I was following.
The detox provided a much needed GPS.  Life became so much easier once I knew what I was going to eat, when I would need to eat it, what I needed to buy, and how to prepare for various contingencies.
Prior to the detox, the daily “What’s for dinner?” dilemma opened the door to all kinds of bad choices, especially if I waited too long to answer it. Then anything and everything was fair game.
The detox forced me to plan my meals, plan my snacks, frequent the grocery store more often (because fresh foods don’t last too long), and bring order to the food court so poor choices were no longer an option.
Once I implemented the plan, I was rewarded with consistent energy throughout the day, an even temperament, and a better ability to find the center of calm when chaos threatened to reign.
Those of you who have been preparing family meals already know the importance of planning. But for someone like me who has been making meals mainly for myself, planning seemed unnecessary.  Especially when popcorn or soup could suffice.
The detox forced me to take a disciplined approach to everything from meal planning to meal timing.  We all know what happens when we get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Hangry.  And all kinds of whacked out.
So I got to treat myself like I would treat a small child left in my care.  I had to purchase, plan, and prepare the most nutritious meals I could given a specific set of criteria.
In order to keep it interesting, I placed the food on colorful and appropriately sized plates. I used cloth napkins. I relaxed and tasted the foods, savored the smells and spices, and allowed myself to feel nourished not only by the food but the effort that went into the preparation.
The results were profound.  After one too many meals consumed in the car on the way to a meeting or at my desk while replying to emails or in the kitchen in a quick and unconscious attempt to stuff the stress of the day away, this was a game changer for me. So was salmon for breakfast, but I’ll fill you in on that in a couple of days.
For now, I’ll leave you with this question. What’s nourishing to you?  How can a little prep time or planning pay off  and allow you to feel really nourished by what you are eating?  Especially if you live alone, how can you make meal times sacred?
We all have to eat.  It’s a requirement for being in a body.  Why not make it a pleasurable event?
Next post I’ll share with you Take Away #2 – Eat High Quality Foods.
Until then, eat (good food), drink (lots of water), and be merry (or whatever you happen to be feeling)!
Share if you dare below.  I’d love to hear your questions or suggestions.