Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What Does Resistance Tell You?

Did you ever notice that sometimes, even when you have an exciting idea or concept, you resist working on it or even thinking about it? You do the laundry, wash the dishes, check your email, all while your "big idea" is lurking in the recesses of your mind. Why do we resist working on projects that we know will be fulfilling and completely rewarding?

I asked myself this very question last week as I proceeded to do a multitude of small to-dos, while my big idea (the current book I'm writing) waited for me to return to it. I'm not sure of the precise reasons (I'm not a psychologist), but I'm guessing my resistance has something to do with uncertainty and fear. As long as I busy myself doing all the mundane daily stuff that "has to" get done, I get a nominal sense of accomplishment and don't have to face the potential pitfalls of the big idea - frustration, rejection, failure...

But, the thing is, all those potential pitfalls currently exist solely in my mind. My book is (for now) just a harmless word document. I was resisting because I felt overwhelmed. I felt the looming pressure to succeed. This book is a big project (my biggest to date) and when you look at EVERYTHING that has to get done to get it out there and into the hands of readers, it is overwhelming. (My heart's beating now, just writing that...) But (deep breath), all I have to do to get my book completed and out there is to work on it consistently (that's not so scary is it?). So, as long as I set aside some time every day to put some words on paper, do some research, make some calls, it WILL get done. And that's a completely wonderful and reassuring realization.

So, in my resistance, I found answers. Instead of ignoring my resistance and consequently letting it halt my endeavors, I confronted it, questioned it, and gained clarity. The next you're feeling uncertain and resisting something that will ultimately be good for you, ask yourself "why am I resisting this?". You'll be amazed at what you learn about yourself.

Live better every day.

Cailen Ascher Poles is a lifestyle designer and author. For more information about Cailen and her design company, Cailen Ascher Design, visit www.CailenAscher.com.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Small Steps with Big Results

So, as you've heard me say, time and time again, the best, most sustainable way to make healthy lifestyle changes is with small steps. If you jump in, head first, full of enthusiasm, you're probably going to sink... I know from personal experience. The problem is when you overhaul your diet and exercise in an extreme way, you find yourself thoroughly out of your element and often completely overwhelmed. As rewarding as it may be to see major weight loss for a week or two, if the lifestyle you've created is something that you can't keep up with, the weight will come back plus some. So, instead of aiming for big numbers in the short term, aim for manageable changes that will result in big numbers (and healthy living) for the long term.

If you don't have a regular exercise routine...Do 10-15min of exercise 4-5 days a week for 2-3 weeks. This will get you in the habit of making time for yourself. When you get to week 3 or 4 increase your time by 5 minutes. As you feel more comfortable with your routine up the time again. Aim to eventually reach 30-40min 4-5 days a week.

If your eating habits need some cleaning up...Don't eliminate any food! Yes, that's right, nothing is completely off limits. The key is moderation. Think add, not subtract. Add more fresh fruits and veggies to your diet. Instead of toast with your eggs, have fruit salad. Instead of a chicken sandwich for lunch, try a salad topped with grilled chicken, instead of your 3pm granola bar, try a banana and some almonds, you get the idea...

If you don't know where to begin...Take some time a make a list of why a healthy lifestyle is important to you. List everything from fitting into your "skinny" jeans to being able to play with your kids, dogs, grand kids without getting winded. Anything that is a motivating factor for you, put it down. Then think about small, manageable changes you feel comfortable making and be specific. (Such as I will exercise/move my body/work out for 10min before breakfast Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for the next three weeks.) Being specific and writing down your thoughts and goals will help you stay motivated and avoid any potential pitfalls.

Best of luck on your journey to healthy living!

Cailen is a lifestyle designer and author and owner of Cailen Ascher Design, a lifestyle design company. For more information visit www.CailenAscher.com.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Danger of the Word "Diet"

Millions of us (myself included) have turned to diets to help us to lose weight...South Beach, Atkins, Jenny Craig, SlimFast, the list goes on and on and on... The problem is, the more diet programs that offer "the solution", the fatter our country becomes. So, what's the deal? The problem lies in our perception of the word "diet". When you hear the word diet, you subliminally register "strenuous", "difficult", "deprivation", "not enjoyable" and "short-term". And honestly, who wants to commit to something that seems so completely awful?!

Instead of viewing dieting as a short-term fast after which you can return to your old ways, try to view diet changes as healthy lifestyle changes. Any alterations you make to your eating or exercise should occur slowly and in a sustainable way. If you jump in too quickly and make too many changes at once, you're bound to revert back to your previous habits. It takes 30 days to program a lifestyle habit. So, make small changes that you can sustain for 30 days, because after that initial period, it will be much, much easier to keep with the healthy modifications you've introduced into your life.

My suggestion? Make it fun! Try a new, healthy recipe a few nights a week. Learn how to cook nutritious, wholesome food. When you grocery shop, switch out some of your staples (i.e. pre-packaged cookies, chips or sugary granola bars) for whole food options (i.e. unsalted roasted nuts, berries or fruit). Include a veggie or fruit at every meal or snack (i.e. add banana to your cereal, have an apple instead of pretzels with your sandwich, have roasted red peppers on your chicken at dinner). Talk to friends whose healthy eating you admire and learn their tricks. These small inclusions will begin to shift your perception of what eating healthy foods really entails. Also, if you're feeling super motivated, try incorporating just 10-20 minutes of exercise 4-5 days a week and really begin to see the results of your healthy lifestyle!

Happy, healthy living!
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