Bruni’s Atomic Habits

About seven months ago I read the book Atomic Habits. I recommend that readers buy a copy. The author lists simple small effective ways to create new positive habits in your life.

Come to think of it this might have been round about when I changed one thing:

In April 2019 I ditched having Purely Elizabeth’s ancient grains mush for breakfast.

Pour granola in bowl; add milk; eat in three minutes. Repeat. Every morning.

That had been my strategy for breakfast for too long.

In April I paid $395 for the services of a Health Coach. She zoomed in on this breakfast choice as one possible root for my lack of energy.

It’s January 2020. And 9 months later I’m happy to report that things turned around.

That April I changed one tiny thing: buying organic ingredients for my morning meal.

Scrambling two Handsome Brook Farms organic eggs with organic diced yellow red and orange peppers, tiny organic broccoli florets, and sliced organic mushrooms.

One month after this eggs-cellent food makeover I changed something else out of the blue.

One morning in May I decided to exercise at 7:00 a.m. Since then I exercise at home in the morning and early afternoon 2x/per week.

On Labor Day I bought the self-cleaning oven. Since this splurge I’ve been cooking my own dinners on most nights.

In November I started using the treadmill 1x/per week–another goal.

This is proof that slow-and-steady wins the race. Because our lives aren’t a race to the finish line–you know where that leads.

I’m not a fan of trying to execute numerous goals all at once.

This is contrary to the fact that a magazine recently touted that new research claims making four or five changes all at once is possible and effective.

I’ll stick to the Atomic Habits guidelines and to the Changeology action plan.

You simply don’t know what’s possible until you try.

My metal Michael Jordan quote paperweight is inscribed thus:

Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.

Changing one or two things at a time has worked for me.

The funny thing is, after executing these new habits, I can say that I have more energy and confidence, and my body is fitter and stronger too. Plus I lost 12 pounds without trying to : )

Not too shabby for a person who will turn 55 in the spring.

I’ll end here by telling readers not to write the ending of your story before you’ve started the first page.

Expecting the worst–that you “can’t” do something or “won’t” be able to do something is a mistake.

I had no idea the direction my life would turn when out of nowhere out of the blue on a Friday morning in May I decided I had to exercise at 7:00 a.m.

This is the reason that planning things down to every minute detail can backfire. This is why telling yourself you need to see results quickly will derail your success.

In coming blog entries I’ll give recipes for healthful snacks. I’ll talk a little about my own “food plan” which has also become a habit recently.

 

How to Motivate Yourself

My sincerest hope is that I can do some good in my time here by using this blog as a motivational platform to educate, empower, and entertain readers.

My contention is that taking action sets in motion positive thinking. Which spurs a person to take more action. And so on. Like a peppermint stick thoughts and actions swirl around each other to reinforce goal-setting habits.

This December at long last I followed through on a long-held goal. Meeting a person who had competed in a marathon gave me the kick in the training pants to take action.

Before the holidays at the end of the year I achieved my goal of doing a walk/run on the treadmill 1/x per week. I did this for 4 weeks in a row.

Achieving this simple goal gave me the confidence that I could achieve other goals. Even ones not related to physical fitness.

Executing one goal–hopping on the treadmill–fired up my mental energy and alacrity.

It gave me the chance to think differently about myself and my skills, strengths, and abilities.

Always I’ve seen that by first taking action it leads to positive thinking. The physical act of doing something creates a positive cascade of thoughts flowing in the right direction.

Danica Patrick in her book Pretty Intense calls this your “mind river.”

I realized that I’m an innovative thinker. It’s easier to have self-acceptance.

My ulterior motive in keeping my two blogs is to empower readers to have self pride and to like yourself in a world where there’s still a lot of judging and stereotyping going on.

Living on earth it’s a better world precisely because everyone’s different.

The saddest waste of anyone’s “human capital” is for a person to try to change who they are to get other people’s approval.

I’m done with that. I’m done with caring what other people think.

Set a goal. Use the Changeology 5-step 90-day action plan to aid you in achieving the goal if you want to use this guide. See what happens.

Simply by doing a walk/run on the treadmill I started to internalize the powerful message that what makes me different gives me a specialty.

So too this is for everyone: what makes you different gives you an advantage.

You don’t have to be anyone other than who you are to succeed.

How to Start Making a Change

I want to clear up something in terms of a common mistake people make:

Acting harsh towards yourself–a form of negative reinforcement–only serves to keep you stuck in old thought patterns and behaviors that are holding you back.

Viewing yourself with a compassionate eye is the first order of business when seeking to execute a change for the better.

First, forgive yourself and have empathy. It’s possible that the current behavior manifested as a habit because it originally served a purpose that might have benefited you.

Over time, the need to change could crop up. My strategy is to change as I go along in life rather than waiting until a drastic change becomes necessary.

As regards food and fitness goals and resolutions, this is where each of us needs to be kinder and gentler on ourselves.

Making positive changes is possible when you first psych yourself up mentally to make the change. This is Step One in the Changeology book.

To motivate you to change your thinking, thus improving your ability to change your behavior, I want to quote from the book Pretty Intense. You could benefit from buying the book, which is why I quote Danica Patrick here:

“A study in the World Public Health Nutrition Association Journal found that the increase in ‘ultra-processed’ food–food that includes ingredients that aren’t, in fact, food–may be the main cause of the rise in obesity around the world.”

Isn’t it helpful and reassuring to know that a simple change in our eating habits can have dramatic health benefits?

I’m going to end here with a scenario from my own life to motivate readers to consider making this one positive change.

Exhibit A:  My mother’s eating habits which should hit closer to home for readers.

She snacks, snacks, snacks on cookies, chips, cake, and pastries. She has chocolate Special K for breakfast that contains artificial flavors. The food marketer for this cereal lists on the box that the cereal has “150 nourishing calories.”

I didn’t know that artificial flavors were nourishing. Please step away from this particular cereal box. Or any kind of cereal box.

My mother happens to be overweight and out of shape. I love her with all my heart. I care about her and her health.

The number-one lesson I learned from my mother by watching her is that the food we eat impacts our mental and physical health more than any other factor in our lives.

Making simple, incremental, and lasting changes that are effective is possible.

It doesn’t involve going on any kind of restrictive diet. I never went on a diet, and I lost 20 pounds in my twenties and kept the weight off.

I use my family history as an example to make this point:

It pays dividends to be kinder and gentler on yourself when you first start making changes and follow through on continuing with the new behavior.

Find the things that motivate you to make a change. For me, my family history was the alarm bell ringing in my head.

For you, you might want to change so that you can live to see your kids graduate college.

Or you might want to change so that you have the energy to get out of bed in the morning without feeling tired and cranky.

It can be as simple as this.

Find your specific why you want to change.

Lastly: we need to remove the blame that is the stigma–“a mark of shame or discredit” from the conversation.

Feeling good is the life goal that counts more than anything if you ask me.

And you can control how you feel by changing what you eat. Which is what I did “piano-piano” as we Italians say or slowly slowly.

In coming blog entries I’ll detail the methods I employed that boosted my mood, elevated my energy, and reshaped my body.

My goal is to empower readers to make your own positive changes.

Bruni’s 3-Month Challenge

I want to write about goal-setting again.

I haven’t ever had a New Year’s resolution. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

Again I refer readers to the book Changeology for realizing goals and resolutions using a scientifically verified 90-day action plan.

My own 3-Month Challenge that I’ll record and document in here is to do two things:

Cook my own dinners 4x/per week. Do a walk-/run on the treadmill 1x/per week.

Owing to a two-week stretch at holiday time I hadn’t exercised. I’ve returned to lifting weights 2x/per week.

One book that is out of print that I ordered in New condition from an Amazon seller is Pretty Intense by race-car driver Danica Patrick.

This book could help any reader as you embark on setting goals in and out of the gym.

It’s a fitness book that is equally for men and women. Parts of the book cater to women. Other parts are for everyone.

After checking four fitness books out of the library I returned the other three.

Pretty Intense has a number of flaws that an ordinary reader wouldn’t pick up on.

For one, Patrick recommends canola oil as a healthy oil. No, no, no it is not–read the book How to Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman for the inside scoop on which oils are healthy and which aren’t

Even with this glaring factual error I bought the book solely to try out a few of the recipes the race-car driver lists in her book.

Her 12-week HIIT or high-intensity interval training exercise plan I have no use for either.

The allure of this book for me was the chapters on getting mentally fit.

Patrick talks about creating a WOman cave–a separate room in your home or a section of a room that’s all yours to be free to decorate any way you want and do hobbies in that give you joy.

I plan on referring to the ideas in Pretty Intense in the next three months as I wind through the winter focusing on the two goals I listed.

In fact, I have already consistently been cooking my own dinners 4x/per on most weeks.

In a coming blog entry I will quote from the Patrick book to convince readers to buy a copy of the book.

I read the Amazon reviews of Pretty Intense. A reviewer with a name that is traditionally a man’s name said that they thought Patrick was a stuck-up entitled princess.

Then this person heard Patrick talk on a radio show. After hearing her speak the reviewer said she was actually nice and feminine, he was surprised.

As if a person who identifies as having a female gender should only be feminine and not be unconventional in how she expresses her personality.

This reviewer or was it another one referred to Patrick’s body and her (in their view) lackluster ability as an athlete.

Yet again, it’s okay for a white male to be average and ordinary. It’s not okay in other people’s eyes for a woman to screw-up.

And it appears it’s not okay for a woman to have a fit body, and show off that body.

Owing to my own distaste of nearly naked woman appearing in fitness photos I decided not to insert a photo of the book cover for Pretty Intense.

On the cover Patrick appears in only a bikini top and body shorts.

I don’t care how fit and trim anyone’s body is. I’m simply dismayed at the focus on a person’s body and gender as signifying traits that identify who they are.

In a future blog entry I might insert a photo of myself at the gym wearing my gear that covers my body.

The judging of women, of anyone, that continues to go on in American society is something I don’t like. I abhor stereotyping people.

In fact, I’m an ordinary, average person. Unlike most people, I’ve made fitness the number-one priority in my life.

I’m not keen to preach to others or preen in front of others.

I simply think that the goals I’ve achieved over the years can be guideposts for others who are starting their own reinventions in life.

My 3-Month Challenge I will record here in an upbeat, cheerful voice.

A lot of what I’ve wanted to achieve has already happened. In coming blog entries I’ll talk about the specific methods I used for achieving these new goals.

I’m a fan of making positive changes at any time in your life. You’re not ever too old to reinvent yourself and go after a goal. Or two. Or three.

Won’t you join me in this journey?

 

Making Changes

One other thing I did was to start cooking my own dinners again.

For years I had an old regular oven that had to be cleaned using oven-cleaner cans.

The fumes were toxic. It was a chore to use the cleaner.  Food got caught underneath the burners.

In any number of “green cleaning” books there are alternatives to using oven-cleaner cans.

Try The Modern Organic Home by Natalie Wise for starters. It might be able to be checked out of the library.

It might seem extreme yet my solution was to buy a self-cleaning oven.

I’ve cooked my own dinners three or four times a week so far.

I find that when you have a disappointment or two in your life it pays to focus on something else temporarily.

My goal of publishing a career handbook will not happen any time soon.

While I wait to make this happen I want to devote the blog to health topics.

In terms of the mind-body connection food is fuel for your body. Your body is a workhorse that can help you achieve goals.

Without health what does a person really have? Life is difficult when you don’t have your health.

Which is why compassion needs to be given to those of us who aren’t shiny happy people with photogenic Instagram feeds.

My fitness level is linked to my efforts. Yet for a lot of people it can seem like the luck of the draw that they become ill.

We shouldn’t blame each other. We shouldn’t judge each other.

All in all in this Flourish blog I want to talk about mental health and physical health to educate, empower, and entertain readers.

Today’s lunch just might be a Table 87 margherita pizza 🙂

Making Fitness My Priority

I’ve come to make fitness a priority.

Health equals wealth. The true definition of wealth is abundance.

With health you have what you need to achieve your life goals.

Being ill makes it that much harder to succeed.

Over the years through a series of events I’ve come to prize having a fit mind and a strong body.

The mind and body work together to give us optimal health.

I’m 54. Two years ago when I was 52 and started menopause my energy tanked. Would I have to accept that my old energy was gone for good?

My body is getting older. My mind is still youthful.

Could bridging this divide help me get back my energy?

At about the time I turned 52 and started going through “the change” of life as a woman other things happened.

I stopped taking any kind of vitamin or supplement. I had wanted to believe I could satisfy my nutritional needs solely through food choices alone.

This is also when I stopped cooking my own meals for dinner. I relied on boxed frozen food packages that were supposed to be healthier choices.

Folks, I ate a lot of this prepared junk for too long. To compensate, I started ordering food to be delivered to my apartment for dinner.

The restaurant food was healthful yet way more expensive every week.

The remedy came on in April of this year 2019 when on a whim I hired the health coach.

After scrambling eggs and veggies for breakfast for the last six months my mood improved.

By exercising in the morning in my living room 2x per week my body got fitter too.

Last week I wondered if perhaps I could use other help. I ordered Vitamin D tablets from the FullScript link my health coach had sent me online.

I’ve started to take one Vitamin D pill in the morning with breakfast.

Would I see a return to my old energy level or at least an improved energy level?

I was motivated to resume taking a Vitamin D pill after reading the Eating Well special edition magazine Eating for Energy.

This book is a common-sense guide to doing what it says: eating for energy.

I also changed one other thing for the better. I’ll talk about what I did in the next blog entry.

My intent is to give readers hope that making positive changes is possible at any time in your life and your recovery.

You might not be in such great health. As always I recommend the book Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.

I’ve achieved numerous goals in the last year by using the 90-day action plan detailed in this lifesaver of a book.

In coming blog entries I’ll continue to report on the results I’m achieving by making these small, consistent, incremental changes.

Making positive changes isn’t easy. It’s natural to resist doing what’s in your best interest when it’s easier to adhere to the status quo.

Only I tell you readers: the status quo wasn’t working in my life.

It was time to do things differently. I’ll tell you how things turned out: better than I expected.

Read on for the results.

The Inspired Vegan

inspired vegan

The photo is the cover of a book I bought when it was first published in 2012.

Bryant Terry is a food activist who founded b-healthy in New York City. His goal was to train young people as food educators. To help them buy and eat and advocate for healthful food.

From The Inspired Vegan cookbook I’ve used the Simple Salad of Butter Lettuce and Fresh Spring Herbs with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette. The book has the recipe for the vinaigrette. You can use regular lemons if you don’t have Meyer lemons.

I recommend this book for everyone not just vegans. I also bought the cookbook Grub that Bryant Terry coauthored.

I realize I had forgotten to write about setting up a home gym 3.0. I had said I was going to write about this. In the next Fitness Friday blog entry I will list a ton of at-home exercises you can do.