When faced with chronic pain or illness, life can change quite a bit. You may not be able to do some of the things you used to do and that can be very frustrating. Be careful not to dwell in that place for too long. Finding the motivation to exercise when you are in chronic pain can be challenging but it essential to your well-being.
They key is to focus on what you can do no matter how small it is. Make a list of activities that you can do that will not aggravate your pain. Start with the smallest amount possible even if it is a couple of minutes of activity. The last thing you need is to overdo it and get frustrated.
Be patient with your body and don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do what you once could. That only creates more stress and…
Are you one of the 100 million Americans affected by chronic pain? Living with chronic pain is not “sexy”. Chronic pain sufferers don’t have foundations to bring world wide attention to our suffering or walks for our cause or celebrity spokespeople. We don’t get the attention that say MS patients or cancer patients get. And I understand, chronic pain is usually not a life threatening problem and I am certainly not trying to understate the seriousness of these other conditions. Chronic pain it is just something you might have to deal with the rest of your life day in and day out. Something that affects every single aspect of your life from work to your relationships, being a parent being a partner or spouse not to mention the emotional roller coaster, self-doubt, self-blame and self-pity.
We often get stigmatized as drug seekers, hypochondriacs, lazy or weak minded. This often leads…
A diagnosis or threat of disease motivates many to start a wellness program, but is often not enough to keep people going. For example, tobacco users are well aware of the long term consequences of tobacco use such as lung cancer and emphysema but it is not enough to motivate certain individuals to quit. So what does work? Connecting people with their values, strong motivators and purpose has a much more powerful impact.
A former client of mine who was a smoker lost a grandmother to lung cancer yet this was not a motivator for her to quit. Protecting her own health was not a motivator either. As we continued to explore reasons to quit smoking she said having a child of her own would motivate her to quit.
Another former client who was obese with various health risks tried diet after diet with no lasting success. When she connected her health to her faith and helping others in her community it was life changing. She now supports members of her church who want to lose weight by holding a weekly support group. By helping others she has been able to help herself.
The initial shock of a diagnosis of any disease is enough to shake us up into behavior change but what is going to keep you going? This will take a little digging, thinking and soul searching but it is worth it. Finding your purpose to be well is extremely powerful.
To start you can ask yourself what are your motivators? Why do you want to do this? No superficial answers like I want to look good and feel better. Don’t we all? What does it mean to be healthy? What will you be able to do if you are fit and full of energy? How will staying healthy help your family? What will you be able to do if you are in good health? Go on that trip to Thailand you have been thinking about? Plant a garden? Play with your grand-kids? Often you will find the fear of the disease is not as motivating as the joy of possibilities!
More and more informationn is being discovered about the importance of getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. In terms of weight loss, a lack of sleep affects our ability to lose weight by interfering with the hormonal processes that take place while you sleep.
The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, your body makes less leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat. When you are sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin. The result? Your body is telling you to eat more and your body is not telling you when to stop. In other words more ghrelin + less leptin = weight gain.
Keep a sleep log to see if you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you are not, make a list of the barriers that prevent you from getting 7-8 hours of sleep. Are your barriers to quality sleep things that you have the ability to change? If so, what can you do differently to get your ZZZ’s?
We have many choices each day when it comes to our well-being. What we choose to eat being a big one. Have you ever thought about how food affects your mood? Have you ever though about how your mood affects your food choice? I am not here to get preachy and tell you what to eat and what not to eat, I am just asking you to be a mindful observer of how your food choices make you feel and how your mood affects what you choose.
A great way to observe how your food choices make you feel or what you are feeling when you make your food choice is to create an awareness journal. In your notes include things like:.
How hungry were you when you ate or were you even hungry at all?
What kind of day were you having? What was going on?
A summary of what you ate (don’t worry about counting calories, fat grams, etc..)
How you felt when you were done eating.
Did you notice any connection with your hunger level and food choices? Are there any patterns with regards to your mood and your food choices or how much you ate? How about your energy level? Were you tired, bored or stressed?
If you ate too much, make a note of how you felt both physically and emotionally. If you ate and you were not even hungry, what was going on at that moment? Remember, this is about mindful self-awareness, not about feeling guilty or shameful with regard to your choices. All we are looking to do is recognize patterns and build new habits that will lead to instinctive eating.
The drive to be perfect often flows over into exercise and diet. We are bombarded by the media telling us how we should look, what we should eat, what new exercise will give us the perfect backside, what new diet will melt the fat away, you get the picture! Not to mention your Facebook friend that has 5 kids, just ran a marathon, is getting her PhD in astrophysics and just won 10 grand on her fabulous vacation in Vegas. Darn her!
Looking at these images, negative self-talk rears it’s ugly head and guilt sets in. “I was so bad today”, “I ate like a pig, I am going to have to eat celery sticks for the next week”, “I shouldn’t have ate so much ice cream, I am going to have to work out for 2 hours tonight!”. Sound familiar? In the endless pursuit of the magic diet and exercise program we often find ourselves swinging from one extreme to another, back and forth, back and forth. Self-compassion goes out the window and the more we try the worse we feel.
There is nothing wrong with striving to be your best but not at the expense of your self-worth. It is easy to get trapped in the notion that we have be the “ideal” only to be disappointed when we don’t achieve the unrealistic goals we set for ourselves. Repeat this vicious cycle again and again and it erodes our self-confidence.
Rather than trying to be perfect all the time, strive to do your best in each moment. Your best one day might be squeezing in a 15 minute walk in-between meetings and your best on another may be going to the gym for 45 minutes. And if you are unable to meet your exercise goals one day accept that wellness is not all or nothing and pick up where you left off. Tomorrow is a new day. When you get rid of the drive for perfectionism, you can move to a place where challenges are now opportunities for growth. Focus on progress rather than perfection and ditch the all or nothing mentality.
Learn to do things that work for you rather than what the so called “experts” say. Become the expert on you. After all who knows you better?
When I start a coaching session with a new client, we start by creating a wellness vision. The process involves creating a clear picture of how you see yourself at your best state of well-being. In order to know what we truly want in our lives, we need to get a clear picture of what that is. You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan would you? Well, you could but having a plan will certainly increase your chances for success. Think of the values and purpose part of your wellness vision as your personal mission statement. In the business world, a mission statement is defined as a company’s “statement of purpose” or “why the company exists”. It is part of building the foundation of the business. When big decisions are made, the company’s mission (usually!) is kept in the forefront.
Now think about creating your own personal mission statement. Your personal mission statement should define your purpose, what you value, who you are, and how you want to live. You can have a blanket mission statement for your life or a mission statement for different areas of your well-being. The main areas of well-being are:
To help create your personal mission statement, a good place to start is by asking yourself some questions:
What have I done well in the past in this area of well-being?
If I was at my best with regards to this are of well-being, what would this look like?
What are my core values when it comes to this area of well-being?
What is most important to me?
If I were living this area of well-being with purpose, what would that look like?
Take your time and write down anything that comes to mind. There are no rules on how your personal mission statement needs to be written or how long it needs to be. After all, it is you mission statement. It should come from you, not from another person’s idea of who you should be.
Keep in mind, your mission may change over time as your life evolves. It is helpful to review and revise your personal mission statement often. If you use your personal mission statement to guide your goals, you are more likely to set meaningful goals and your life will be a reflection of your purpose and core values.
Have you ever stopped to think about what you really value in life? How about your life’s purpose? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?
The truth is when our behaviors are driven by our values and life’s purpose we open the door to infinite possibilities.
If we don’t make decisions based on our values and life’s purpose we end of living in a constant state of guilt, shame and fear.
Defining what you value in life is an important piece of behavior change and goal achievement. That being said, values and life purpose are separate than your goals. They are part of the foundation for your best self and make up the building blocks that help you achieve your goals. Without defining your life’s purpose and values, goals are set on a shaky foundation with slim chance of success.
The typical New Year’s resolution is a great example. “I am going to lose 30 pounds.” This is an outcome goal. It is important to have behavioral goals and action steps to support outcome goals, but we will get into that later. How many people do you know, and maybe you are one of them, that started the New Year off with a bang and by February 1st, things were back to a fizzle?
The reality is, if you don’t have a lot invested in your goals they are easy to blow off and give up. If you define your life’s purpose and values clearly, keep them close to you and design your goals around them, your chance of success sky rockets.