Giving Yourself a Lifeline

Years ago when I was the Health Guide at a website I wrote an article there about goal-setting. Over five years ago I first advanced the idea of giving yourself a lifeline. Instead of a strict impossible-to-achieve-by deadline.

The goal of exercising 5 days a week I would say is unrealistic for most people except athletes and fitness buffs.

The goal of losing 20 or 30 or more pounds also can’t be executed quickly.

How quick is too quick? Expecting change within three weeks is not realistic. 90 days is the Changeology action plan length of time for achieving a goal. And some goals will take years and years to achieve.

The fact is that the cumulative effect of the sub-goals you’re executing week-by-week adds up over time.

You might not notice a difference until 5 months later. Five months later the change might seem to have come out of the blue. And it seems sudden and astounding.

I also know from my own experience that having a fallow period is to be expected.

This fallow period can last a year or two and not just a week or two weeks or a season.

That’s why getting hung up on achieving goals quickly is a mistake.

A fallow period or a plateau is to be expected and planned for.

A setback is the cost of doing business in the real world. It’s why I don’t like to use the word failure. Thinking you’re a failure sets you up to not want to try again when the first option didn’t work out.

When a goal doesn’t go as you planned that’s a sign that you need to adapt your strategy.

Life will tell you what to do if only you stop to listen.

Taking time to slow down is imperative. It’s called practicing mindfulness and I wrote about this in here a year ago. You can use the search bar of this blog to type in the word mindfulness to find this blog entry to read.

The fact is that rush, rush, rushing through your goals, your activities, and your life only serves to backfire.

Italians have the ethic of “piano-piano” which is doing things slowly slowly.

See if what I’ve written makes sense. Giving yourself a lifeline might just be the secret solution to achieving your goals.

Quick is often the antithesis of lasting when it comes to making changes.

Going at your goals rat-a-tat-tat and firing away at them every single minute of the day might also impede success.

Voila–extending to yourself a lifeline.

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?

 

Breakfast at Bruni’s

breakfast at brunis

Since April I’ve been having an organic food breakfast of scrambled eggs and veggies plus a navel orange.

I found out by accident by buying a regular orange that a regular orange has no taste. The organic orange is citrus-y.

For 9 months so far I’ve been having this food for breakfast.

I also started meeting with a new personal trainer at the gym for him to create routines I do on my own every week.

Since 2011–going on 9 years–I’ve had different trainers create routines that I do on my own.

This ties into the mind-body connection in numerous ways:

First, the more exercise you do, the happier you feel. Even should you not lose weight.

(I lost 12 pounds since April, yet that wasn’t my goal.)

Second, when you exercise consistently it’s easier not to stress about things that are happening in your life.

Ever since starting to follow-through on one of my fitness goals it has been easier not to give a sh*t about things I used to agonize over.

For one I’m coming up on 55 years old. I’ve stopped caring that I might not get my old 32-year old energy level back.

Yet a curious thing took place: I’ve been doing a walk/run on the treadmill. This had been a goal of mine for a couple of years.

Last month I was finally able to add this activity to my fitness repertoire.

Ever since then I’ve stopped dwelling on my energy level.

It might be that I’m getting back some of that energy.

I would like to empower readers to choose to live a healthy lifestyle.

Making positive changes is possible even when you’re older.

I can tell you without a doubt that you don’t have to be a size 4.

You don’t have to look a certain way or fit into skinny jeans the size of a garden hose.

Forget the number on the scale or how clear your skin is or how perfect your hair is.

What counts more is being active.

Being fit and active will help you achieve your goals inside and outside of the gym.

Even doing only one new thing to change for the better can improve your outlook.

I did only one new thing: hopped on the treadmill 1x per week.

This tiny change had a dramatic outcome:

I feel better – I’m happier – I think I can do what I set my mind to do.

In the coming blog entries I’m going to return to talking about goal-setting.

January is coming up and a lot of people appear to still be taken in with setting New Year’s Resolutions.

I say the New Decade calls for New Dreams.

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.

Butternut Squash Soup

butternut soup

I have modified this recipe from the original version offered at another website. Owing to length and copyright issues.

The version I created is quicker and easier. A plus as not a lot of us have the time or energy to labor over a hot stove for hours on end.

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash halved vertically and seeded (about 3 pounds)

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling.

1/2 cup chopped shallot (about 1 large shallot bulb)

4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced.

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 to 4 cups vegetable broth, as needed (24 to 32 ounces)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle each half of the squash with just enough olive oil to lightly coat on the inside (about 1/2 teaspoon each.)
  2. Turn the squash face down and roast until tender and completely cooked, about 40 to 50 minutes. Let it cool about 10 minutes. Then scoop the butternut squash flesh into a blender.
  3. In a medium skillet, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped shallot. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has started to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  4. Transfer shallot and garlic to blender. Add in maple syrup and nutmeg. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth.
  5. Use blend function on the blender if it doesn’t have a soup pre-set.
  6. Heat the soup in a saucepan.

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The butternut squash I used from the CSA box was medium-sized.

Thus, it might have been better to decrease the amount of liquid I used to only 1 1/2 cups for a creamier soup. I had used 3 cups like the recipe called for.

Also, I should’ve decreased the cooking time for the shallots and garlic. They got burnt so I had to add more and re-do for a shorter time.

I prefer to use the FreshDirect vegetable stock instead of regular broth. This is because the stock has no natural flavors just real ingredients.

You can use vegetable broth if you’d like. Either way it should be fine. Just lower the amount of liquid should you want a creamier soup and have a smaller squash.