The Battle of Old You vs. New You

When you decide to courageously make a change in your life, any change, anticipate the Tug-of-War. Yes, it will be a bloody brawl between the Old You vs. the New You. The Old You is mightier. He or she has been around longer. Has stored ammunition. A fortified fortress. Your brain and behavior just go there. It’s automatic and easy. You can do the old behavior in your sleep.

Thus, if you really want transformation, we need to get the New You up to speed. We must quickly and solidly build new habits and behaviors that can withstand the Old You. Through consistent risk, practice and repetition, we can carve out new neural pathways toward a Better You. That Old You will be left raising that white flag.

But, expect that Old You to revolt. It always does. That’s why people struggle to change. Why they stay stuck in old destructive patterns. It is hard work to start, to outlast that dip in enthusiasm that always shows up in the middle and then to finish the job at putting that Old You down.

But you can do it. One day at a time. With encouragement from others and an eye locked on the prize, change is possible. A New You is out there waiting. Just grab hold and get in the game. Tug-of-war it is.

Loving Your Body

Are you in a life-long war with your body?

Sad, really. That we preach depth, heart, soul and character yet spend so much mental and emotional attention on whether our pants fit or if our butt looks too fat. No doubt, it will be a death-bed regret – why I wasted so much energy thinking about the number of calories in a piece of cheesecake and when I can get to the gym to burn them off.

It’s time to call a truce with the amazing machine we live in. The one that ensures our life and breath 24/7, 365. Here are a few tips to turn your enemy into a friend:

  1. Develop a right-sized relationship with your body. In other words, stop avoiding your body and stop obsessing over it. It is important enough to pay attention to and not so important that it is the only thing you pay attention to. Notice it, listen to it, breathe into it. Feed it. Take care of it. Respect it. Learn to recognize what it needs when it needs it. But don’t be consumed by it. Give it enough cognizance to keep it happy and running smoothly. Then, let it do its thing while you focus on more important things.
  2. Stop making shit up in your head. Be realistic. You probably aren’t as ugly as you think you are nor are you the next super model lining up for a photo shoot. You are probably perfectly average – just like the rest of us. Yes, you might be too thin or too fat. Healthy or not so much. Whatever you are, face the truth and make that your starting point. Besides, you know that true beauty is not skin deep. How you feel about yourself and how you carry yourself reflects an energy that is attractive beyond physical appearance. Beauty is a state of mind that expresses the whole person, not just our physical being.
  3. Know your true enemy. ‘Cause it ain’t your body. Your body should be your friend. We just insist on scapegoating it, making it the problem. After all. what did it really do to you? Your enemy could be the sugar industry. Or the media that dictates what our bodies should aspire to look like. Or our emotional appetite – the one that we try to satisfy with food rather than the love it is actually hungry for. Or our critical nature that needs to beat our self up. Or our perfectionism that will not go quietly away. Or our low self-esteem that needs to constantly compare our self to other people. Whatever it is, figure it out and then, go to war. But leave your wonderful body out of it.
  4. Give up being a victim. You get to choose. How you treat yourself. How you let others treat you. What you put in your mouth. When, how and if you move your body. How you dress. If you undress. In all things, empower yourself to remember that you get to make choices. No victims allowed.
  5. Know the difference between being healthy and fit and being thin. They are not always equivalent. And in case you don’t know, the former is better than the latter.
  6. Eat respectfully. Be mindful of the nutrients your body needs to function at its best. Eat cleanly. That is, eat plenty of good food. Ditch sugar and the pretend foods that compromise your digestive health, your hormonal balance, your mood and energy levels. Furthermore, pay attention to how you eat. Are you shoveling like an animal or dining with grace and style? Your body – and your self – deserve civility.
  7. Dare to accept. Counteract those voices in your head that tell you that your body is not “right.” Overpower these negative thoughts with positive, kind ones. Embrace your beauty and your journey toward self-love in all aspects of who you are. Wear clothes that express your person to the world. Work with your body as a friendly partner, rather than battling against it.
  8. Practice appreciation. Stop and realize what all your body does for you and can do for you. It can run marathons, make human life, hug a child, carry you through unspeakable pain, dance, laugh, make love. Every single day it has been there for you. Celebrate its amazement. Embrace its possibility. Meanwhile, stop judging others for their bodies. We are all doing the best we can at any given moment with what we have allowed our self to know. We are no better, no worse. So, lead with grace. Life just works better that way.
  9. Actively care for your body. The better you treat it, the better it will treat you. You know the drill – rest, move, eat well.
  10. Strengthen your emotional core. The healthier your psyche, the less strain you are asking your body to hold for you. Developing a solid foundation of warm self-regard will give you the wherewithal to accept, appreciate and care for that wonderful physical house you call home.

There is hope to end your lifelong battle with your body. It starts with your relationship with self. Changing and re-creating the image of you in your own mind. Working through your emotional resistance to nutrition and love. Allowing abundance, rather than deprivation, to be your life mission.

Once the war with your body is surrendered, food and your body can be enjoyed with abandon. No guilt. No comparison. No perfectionism. No self-criticism. Just pleasure and freedom as the ultimate ingredients to life’s mighty dish.

Suck It Up

Inadvertently, I had the same conversation with both my teenagers recently. Different circumstances, same theme. My son led with his anger. My daughter with her pain.

“This place is not for me!” yelled my son.

“I can’t do this,” cried my daughter, a box of tissues emptied beside her, the dirty ones crinkled in a pile on the floor.

At first, I listened. I validated. I was the Super-Mom container. I let them know that I understand their difficulty, their frustration, their near impossible situation.

Then, I told them I was going to tell them something that they would not like.

Ready?

“Suck it up! “I said.

“That’s so mean!” screamed my daughter.

Ouch. My heart hurt. I wasn’t trying to be mean. I was adultifyng. Helping them grow up. The fact that life is hard and we can’t always quit, run, hide or leave is a very important grown-up lesson to understand as early as possible.

It scares me – this generation coming up. Hard work is not their friend. Life on easy street has become the norm. Their low tolerance for frustration acceptable.

Yes, sometimes we should leave, quit, move on. But not before taking a good hard look at what is going on. If I am not being abused, then maybe it is worth the cost of the necessary hard work for the long-term gain and glory. In other words, you can’t just dump your job, your wife, your goal or your child and get a new one. Sometimes, most times, you gotta suck it up. Put on your big kid britches and make it work. And that, my friend, ain’t always fun and games.

But that’s what being an adult means. We work the long program. We delay gratification. We realize that we do what we need to do now to get what we want later.

So, for today, I guess I will be mean … suck it up.