“I really need to go on a diet.”
Rare is the person over forty who hasn’t said those words at one time or another.
Curiously, somewhere in our fourth decade all of our pants start fitting like skinny jeans. We have to pause at the top of the stairs to catch our breath. We break out in a sweat just trying to put on our socks. The person looking back at us in the bathroom mirror really should put on some clothes. Nobody needs to see that.
Let’s face it, the older we get the more difficult it becomes to keep fit. Regardless of how easy it was for you when we were younger, it all seems to change with each passing year. Our metabolism slows to a crawl, our lungs shrink to the size of blueberries, our joints ache at just the thought of exercise, and eventually, we all suffer from a bad case of “furniture disease” – you know, when your chest falls into your drawers.
Unfortunately, after forty, most Americans just give up trying to stay fit. They choose to live their adult life carrying around “a few extra” pounds. For many, those “few extra pounds” are just denial for being way overweight. Obesity is a real issue in America. The medical community agrees; excess fat in the human body is killing us.
It used to be the older people got, the wiser they become. Nowadays, it seems the older we become, the wider we get.
Lest you think this article is about losing weight,
I am going to make a sudden left hand turn on you.
Consider this my blinker.
Fat Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
As a Life Coach, I’ve concluded fat isn’t always about excess body weight. Sometimes, it’s about our money. At other times, it’s about our relationships. And still, at other times, it can be more about what is happening between our ears than what’s going on behind our navel.
What if we used the word “fat” for anything that is harmful to our health? “Fat” can be found in all kinds of places in our life. All of us carry around a bit more of it than we really should.
· Debt is fat.
· Worry is fat.
· An addiction is fat.
· Hating your job is fat.
· A disappointing marriage is fat.
· Lacking passion or enthusiasm is fat.
· Feeling like you’re at a standstill in your life is fat.
· Having no available energy to get out for a little exercise is fat.
· Always wishing you could do what you always wanted to do is fat too.
The net effect of our health (and our happiness) is usually influenced by factors beyond how much we weigh when we stand on the bathroom scale.
Ever had a “heavy heart”? Ever felt like you were “carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders” or “weighed down” by the nagging tension of an unresolved issue in your life?
More times than not, feeling overwhelmed is just as harmful to our health as being overweight.
A Diet is Not Always About Food
Most people think of food and exercise when they hear the word “diet.” I’d like to suggest there is another way to think of the word; something much bigger than mere calories.
How about a diet for your entire life? What I call a “Life Diet.”
A Life Diet is a plan for the overall health and fitness of each of the key areas of your life. Areas like relationships, finances, vocation, and your personal or inner-world. Why not a diet for those vital areas of your life that have a greater impact on your health than the food you eat?
It has always intrigued me that so many people talk about WHAT to eat when it comes to a diet. Rarely does anybody consider WHY we eat in the first place. You have to figure out WHY you eat before WHAT you eat is going to have any net effect on your health. The WHY drives the WHAT. Until you understand the motivations behind why you eat, you’ll never have control over what you eat for longer than a few weeks, at most.
This is why many people fail at staying on a diet for very long. They keep coming up short on the willpower to stick with their diet. Determination and discipline are a mental/emotional issue, not a nutritional one.
Food can fuel your body, but it can’t fix your life.
Are you ready to learn something?
WHY you eat is rarely about food. It is almost always about feelings. Frustrations with your finances, your job, your relationships, your health, or your self often drive why you eat what you do. Emotion, not nutrition, is the driving force behind most eating habits.
For many people, mental and emotional catalysts such as worry, fear, anger, sadness, and disappointment fuel the urge to eat. Unfortunately, this is what often underlies our attraction to “comfort food”? It’s all about resorting to food that makes you feel good regardless of whether it is, in fact, good for you. The pleasure of food and drink masks the discomfort of the stress we’re feeling in the same way a belly full of milk lulls a baby to sleep between it’s next ear-splitting cry for more.
Most people fail to see the relationship between what they eat and how they feel. Stress in their life is created by what is going on in their finances, relationships, or vocation. They are unable to pay bills, their marriage is full of angry tension, or things at work are not going well. So they eat.
· You’re worried. So you eat.
· You’re upset. So you eat.
· You’re bored. So you eat.
· You’re sad. So you eat.
· You’re ashamed. So you eat.
Everything going on in our life at any given moment is related. We are remarkably organic organisms where the whole of our world is intricately woven together in our experience. We go off to work and we are there. We come home to our marriage and there we are. We crash on the couch to watch television and, behold, there we are again.
We are the common denominator to everything happening in our life at any given time.
While we possess an amazing ability to compartmentalize the activities of our life, we must understand that our mind is occupied with other things at the same time. You can be laser-focused on what is in front of you, meanwhile, on another level of your sub-conscience, your mind is working overtime on the other things going on in your life at that exact moment.
The frustrating realities of your marriage don’t go away just because you’re at work. While you may be able to muster the mental fortitude to focus on your job for several hours, your mind is still gnawing on the latest argument you had with your spouse on the way out the door to the office that morning.
You come home after a long day at work, and walk right back into the center of the drama awaiting you at home. Immediately your mind switches to thinking through solutions to the problems you’re facing on that project at the office.
It never stops. It’s all going on at the same time at any given moment. Work. Finances. Relationships. You. Work. Finances. Relationships. You. Work. Finances. Relationships. You. Your mind is always in motion.
Your mind never stops working on the stuff of life. Even while you sleep, your mind works on the unresolved and upsetting issues of life. That is why you wake up in the morning feeling as tired as when you went to bed. Your mind is unable to switch itself off while there is still work being done on what’s bothering you.
You’re worried about work because you know you don’t have the financial reserves to weather being out of a job. The truth is, even after all these years, you’re still living month to month when it comes to paychecks and bills. If you lose your job, your financial picture will look like a line of dominoes collapsing into each other. You’ll be in a world of hurt in no time; scrambling to keep everybody paid while trying to stay one step ahead of the collection agencies.
You’re under a lot of stress at work to finish an important project in time and under budget. Your boss is demanding assurances of a timely completion. Your contractors are not meeting important deadlines. Your engineer just informed you of a costly change order that threatens to delay the entire project. You’re frustrated and angry with all of them for the enormous stress they are creating in your life. You’re not sleeping well, it seems like you’re working non-stop, and you’re drinking a bit more than usual to take the edge off of the stress you’re shouldering right now.
Unfortunately, it’s your family who is on the receiving end of your frayed emotions. You would never talk that way to anybody at the office. Your impatience, terse words, and angry outburst are meant for your boss, but directed at your spouse. It looks like you’re upset with your children – they have no idea why – but, in fact, the folks at work have pushed you over the edge…all because of that project that needs to be completed on time…if you hope to keep your job…so you can stay in the house you bought…that’s more than you can really afford…leaving you living paycheck to paycheck.
You get the idea. These important arenas of our life are all inter-connected; related by virtue of the fact that you are at the center of them all.
I am not talking about packing on a few extra pounds around the waistline at this point. I am talking about a life in disarray, complicating your health on a much larger scale than the one in the bathroom.
“You really need to go on a diet.”
Good Food. Bad Food.
A diet is just a strategy; a plan or approach to reaching an objective.
Take that same concept and apply it to every other arena of your life. What about a strategy for achieving greater financial fitness? What about a plan for a healthier circle of relationships? What are you doing to enjoy a more fulfilling experience at work? What’s your approach to managing the questions swirling around inside your head and the emotions wreaking havoc in your heart?
They are all part of the diet you are currently on; the sum total of habits you have created for dealing with (or avoiding) what is going on in your life.
In the same way there are good foods and bad foods for helping you lose weight, there are good habits and bad habits that determine what your life looks like. For the sake of our discussion, let’s simply create two categories: Good Food and Bad Food.
· For someone trying to lost weight, broccoli is a good food. Candy is a bad food.
· For someone trying to nurture a healthy marriage, thoughtfulness is a good food. Impatience is a bad food.
· For someone who wants fulfillment, loving what you do for a living is a good food. Hating work each day is a bad food.
· Financially speaking, an emergency account is a good food. A maxed our credit card is a bad food.
· Personally speaking, being at peace is a good food. Remaining crippled by insecurities is a bad food.
It has been my observation that most adults have absolutely no strategy for how they live their life. They live their entire life in reaction mode, taking it as it comes rather than making it what they’d like it to be. Oh, they may have a few goals assigned to them at work, but most people over forty would have a difficult time telling you what they’re trying to accomplish with their life beyond going to work, raising kids, and enjoying weekends. They have a hobby or two to escape the stress now and then. They take a vacation once or twice a year to stave off boredom in some desperate attempt to revive an exhausted spirit.
Why not create a life you don’t have to take a vacation from?
This is where The Life Diet can help. If you want to live your life with greater passion and purpose, this is the one diet you should try before you die. It is less about losing weight and more about living wisely the one and only life you will ever get.
The start of a new year is a great time to make big changes or even a few minor adjustments. Why not make this the year you do something about living the life you’ve always wanted.
If I can help, I’d be happy to get you started on your Life Diet today.