The Joy is in the Work

The definition of Work: 

“Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.” 

There’s no mention of whether work is good, or bad.  Fun or boring.  Easy or hard.  Joyous or monotonous.  Work is something we do to reach a result.  For so many of us work has developed a negative connotation.  Work is hard.  Work is not fun.  Work is downright dreadful at times.  In fact, we may even avoid it from time to time…  < Who? Me? >

But there’s no denying that work is required if we want to achieve anything meaningful in life. 

Why should we have so much angst over something that, when done regularly, will allow us to reap great rewards and offer so much satisfaction? 

How do we avoid having angst over the work?  The secret is to truly want the desired result but to also hold in high regard the things we must do to reach the desired result.  If we can appreciate the routine, the day to day activities and habits performed that will deliver us to the next level and perhaps even find some joy in them, we stand a much greater chance of reaching our purpose and feeling fulfilled and successful along the way.  

If you struggle finding happiness in the work, ask yourself this: 

  • If I can’t appreciate or find joy in the things I must do to reach my goal, is my goal honestly that important to ME?  
  • If I can’t appreciate or find joy in the things I must do to reach my goal, am I pursuing my goal through the most appropriate actions for ME?
  • If I can’t appreciate or find joy in the things I must do to reach my goal, am I using the right measures to prove successful outcome of my goal?

Other questions to ask:

  • Does my goal genuinely have meaning to me or is it something I’m chasing because everyone else is chasing it?  Am I doing this to simply to keep up with the Joneses?
  • Does my goal truly carry a fulfilling outcome for me or is it something I’m pursuing because people around me expect me to reach this goal (even though no one has ever actually said it to you)?
  • Do I truly believe that my goal will bring significant improvement in my life?  Will it fix something that is truly broken?  Or is it a cosmetic change that, while desirable on the outside, is not substantial enough to evoke goodness or contentedness in my soul? 
  • Is it something I’m pursuing while I neglect working on something that is more meaningful but more uncomfortable/difficult to approach? 

If any of your answers hint that your goal or your tasks are askew from your heart’s true desire, take a time out. 

Ask yourself “What If” questions: 

  • What if I changed my goal to focus on the very opposite thing?  What would I miss, what would I gain, is there some benefit of adjusting trajectory? 
  • What if I stopped pursuing my goal for 30 days, what would I do instead, how would I feel? 
  • What if I did 2 different things to pursue my goal for 30 days?  What would they be and where would they bring me?  What could I stop doing?
  • What if I changed the measures of my goal and modified the tasks I’m taking to reach it? 

Let yourself think crazy thoughts and feed off your answers to banish boundaries and come up with a new approach. And don’t just think about that new approach, put it into action. Today!

If, after sincerely answering these questions, you discover that your goal is the exact right goal for you to pursue but you just can’t find any joy in the work don’t despair.  Some things in life are like that.  Here’s one final perspective to consider that may help in your daily toils:

Not everyone wakes up with the ability to leap out of bed and slay dragons. 

But YOU do. 

When facing the work that is devoid of joy simply be grateful that you are of sound mind to dream big dreams, set high goals and that you have an able body and access to resources to perform the tasks.   Even if you don’t have every of those benefits, don’t take any one of them for granted.  You have opportunity and tools within you that others can only dream of.  Don’t discount it, you’re among the fortunate.

And maybe that can be the joy you’ve been looking for.

Deep Dive Tip #3

Think About Food Differently

Hi Friends, the next chapter in our Live It Daily blog series is a Deep Dive on Tip #3 challenging you to Think About Food Differently.

Let’s start by talking about how we think about food today.  When you hear the word, “food” what comes to mind?   What kind of emotion does it trigger?  Does it make you hungry?  Stressed?  Anxious?  Excited?

It’s complicated – the way that we think and feel about food and about eating.  Sometimes we consider food a reward (for putting in a solid workout or getting that promotion), sometimes it’s the focus of an indulgent social experience (like a dinner date or dinner party), sometimes it can be the enemy (that Chicago-style Deep Dish pizza that gives us indigestion – or worse – for days) and other times we don’t think about it at all as we mindlessly chomp on Cheetos while binge watching our favorite show.   In truth, I’ve been guilty on all accounts – except the Cheetos part – I’m more of a popcorn kind of gal…

In contrast, our caveman ancestors spent most of their time hunting and preparing food simply so they could survive.  The ate to live.  End of story.  Those days of scarcity are gone and, for most people in the U.S., we no longer have to wonder when our next meal will be or spend all day hunting for it. 

Consider how differently we think about food today vs. what people thought all those years ago.  Cavemen ate to survive, we eat to celebrate, to entertain, to comfort or simply nibble out of habit.  Because of the multitude of ways in which food has been incorporated into our lives and our activities it’s no wonder we have complicated emotional and habitual connections to food.

But What If…

What if we thought about food, first and foremost, as the fuel source necessary to power our bodies’ basic functions?  You know, those complex systems of respiration, digestion and circulation we discussed in the last blog (Think About Your Body Differently?)

What if we thought about food as the primary input that nourishes our skin, our hair, our teeth, our fingernails?

What if we thought about food as the main supply of growth, maintenance and repair for our bones, our muscles, our tendons and our organs?

What if we realized that the type, quantity and quality of that food would dictate the degree of efficiency to which our complex bodily systems functioned?  What if we could see that the food we chose determined the health of our skin, hair, teeth and fingernails?  And that it controlled the power and performance of our bones, muscles, tendons and organs?

What if we could see that the over-processed, chemically modified, nutrient-deficient “foods” that we’re putting into our bodies were responsible for the cramps, bloating, constipation, acne, rashes, slow healing and inflammatory reactions we experience day after day?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I bet if we thought about food this way all the time we might make healthier choices.

We know that the only way our body can grow, repair and thrive is based upon the goodness we put into it.  It does not receive sustenance any other way.  So why don’t we feed ourselves better?  I suspect it’s because eating is such a common activity performed multiple times each day that we’ve allowed ourselves to put food choices on auto-pilot and/or we allow our emotions to dictate our choices.  In our defense – it takes effort and energy to make any type of choice and we are overloaded with decisions on a daily basis.  So when we’re faced with what to eat 3 or more times per day it can be exhausting.  We pick whatever is easiest, closest, fastest, cheapest.  Notice that we rarely stop to think about what is BEST for our body.  How often do we pause and consider what our body needs at that moment, on that day? 

Here’s your challenge:  Over the next few days, make a conscious effort when it comes to what you are feeding your body.  Pause for a moment before each meal and think about what your body might need that day.  If you’re not sure what you need simply create a balanced meal of a lean protein, veggies and high fiber carbohydrates. 

Abandon the pre-packaged or over- processed options when you can and seek the best fuel to fire up that inner-engine.  Think about food differently, not just as something you do morning, noon and night but look at each meal as an opportunity to feed yourself right, an opportunity to give yourself quality nutrients and satisfying sustenance for your best health! 

Stay tuned for the next deep dive on Tip #4: Think about Movement Differently!

Until then, thanks for reading the blog and following posts on the Live It Daily Facebook page.  Feel free to leave comments or questions so I can get to know you and understand any topics or questions that I might include in upcoming segments.  

As always, you can reach out to me via email or my website where you can learn more about Live It Daily and schedule a free wellness consultation to create individual, practical strategies towards your best health!

Deep Dive Tip #2

Think About Your Body Differently

Hi Friends, I’m back with a Deep Dive on Tip #2 – Think About Your Body Differently.  I gotta say, this just might be my favorite tip of the bunch!


In the very first blog, 5 Tips That’s Thrust You Over the Start Line, we were reminded of the amazing feats that our body performs automatically day in and day out.  Our brain is always buzzing, lungs breathing and heart-a-pumpin’.  When we look at or smell food our mouths begin to salivate, when we swallow food our body immediate starts the complex process of digestion.  When we start exercising our heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to our muscles faster and our lungs demand more frequent breaths in order to keep up.  And, when we lay down to sleep multiple systems within our body begin the ever important task of recovering and rebuilding from the day’s toll. 

In addition to our physical bodies, there’s also a spirit tucked in there too.  It also reacts to stimulus throughout the day without command.  We solve problems, show compassion, feel joy, feel pain, juggle our family calendars and manage stress with this portion of our being.  Without it, we’d be high-functioning machines held together by skin and bones. 


So imagine that you are the care-taker of these two organisms.  Step away from judging yourself  by looking in the mirror and look directly at a part of your body (seriously, do it right now).  Try looking at your hands, bend your fingers, look at the unique creases in your palms, notice the veins in your wrist as they meander up to your arms.  Touch your own skin, feel your muscles and your bones.  These are real, live systems that are counting on you to give them the fuel, hydration and rest they need to hold you up day after day. 


Ok, now, humor me for another second and do this next thing too.  It won’t hurt a bit, promise.  Sit quietly for a few seconds, close your eyes and say, “Hello” to yourself.  Sounds weird, I know, but have you noticed that we greet everybody else in our day but somehow forget to acknowledge ourselves?  And now, say this to yourself:  “I see you”.   Let yourself be still for a few moments and simply create an awareness that you are here.    Feels strange to recognize ourselves as an actual human being worthy of consideration.  But why not?  Everybody else does. 


As the wizard behind the curtain feverishly pushing the levers day after day, I think we forget that we are the caretaker of our body and spirit too.  Because we are with ourselves every minute of every day we take ourselves for granted (and forget to acknowledge every day that we matter).  We’ve rallied through sleepless nights, survived over-indulgent dinners and haven’t gained too much weight now that we’ve quit the club so even though we know it’s not a “healthy” lifestyle we aren’t compelled to change. 

But let me plead with you to think differently.  As you make choices tomorrow, think about the well-oiled machine that is your body.  Acknowledge the thinking, feeling spirit that is within you.   They are only as good as the fuel and compassion you provide to them.  Maybe you can find some time to give your body a 20-minute walk.  Perhaps you can be gentler with yourself when you make a mistake.  Or, possibly consider going to bed an hour earlier just this once as a simple, inexpensive indulgence that will reward you with a weary-free morning. 


You are an amazing machine.  You are worth caring for.  Think about your body and spirit differently by imagining you’re all on the same team, working together to find your best health and create your best life. 

As always, you can reach out to me via my website where you can learn more about Live It Daily and schedule a free wellness consultation to create individual, practical strategies towards your best health! 


Deep Dive: Tip #1

Get Your Head Right

Hey All, my last blog, “5 Tips That’ll Thrust You Over the Start Line”, focused on 5 fairly meaty tips on how to get yourself over the start line in your quest to discovering your best health.  To be completely transparent with you, I struggled with keeping the message short for each tip and after posting the tips my inner self got the best of me.  There’s so much more that needs to be shared that will help you all work through each of those tips.  So, I’m dedicating the next 5 blogs to dig deeper into each one of the 5 tips.  You’ll also notice that these concepts will be woven into the first few episodes of the Live It Daily Podcast.  Yep, you heard me… Live It Daily Podcasts are coming.  Hold on to your hats, folks, it’s going to get crazy up in here!  

For now, let’s get back to THIS show and deep dive into Tip #1:  Get Your Head Right.

As you suit up to begin your quest to discovering your best health, here are some things to ponder:

It never ends.  Let’s face it, discovering your best health is an everlasting journey.  I don’t know why we call it a journey because that would make one believe that there is a final destination.  As if one day we might wake up and say, “Whew, I made it. I’m at my best health!  I’m all done!”.   Nope, your best health is an ongoing, never-ending, life-changing series of miles with no end in sight.  The end of the road, is, well, whatever you believe to be at the end of this life.  Until then, you are wholly responsible for taking care of your body and mind day in and day out.

Your desire to discover your best health needs to be practical, realistic and attainable through a set of habits and behaviors that can be maintained over time.  The crash diets, fad exercises and restrictive principles of eliminating entire food groups from your diet (without a medical purpose) are not sustainable, usually expensive, generally unhealthy and just plain not fun.  Your best health is something you will pursue forever so be sure that your approach is one that you can live with.

You’re already on it.  There’s no getting around it, the sun rises and sets every day and we get to live in the hours in-between.  We don’t get to press pause, fast-forward or rewind.  Who you are, what you know, where you live, where you work, the people in your life and the status of your health are all compound results of the choices you’ve made over time.  While we have the good fortune to live between the sunsets we must honor the responsibility of making daily choices that shape our lives.  Consistent, purposeful actions can add up to great accomplishments and inconsistent, half-hearted motions can lead to disappointment.   We have innumerable opportunities to choose wellness every day from what we put into our bodies, how we move our bodies and how we rest our bodies.  There’s no need to delay making good choices for our best health when we likely have a few decisions we can make yet today to advance towards wellness?  You can start small by simply noticing opportunities where you might make healthier choices or you can live large and choose to act differently starting today.  You don’t have to revolutionize your life but you can choose water instead of soda, select an apple instead of chips and order a regular coffee with cinnamon instead of a mocha latte.  Yup, you can still go on breaks with your co-workers, eat at Panera and swing into Starbucks – just be mindful and choose goodness for your body.   Small steps can turn into miles!

Each new day demands that we make decisions that will shape our lives.  The decisions you make and the actions you take on a daily basis compound to create a person and lifestyle that is uniquely and wonderfully you.  Your best health is a result of these decisions and can be improved with small changes and big adjustments.  Commit to making one healthful decision at a time.  

You own it.   Your quest for your best health is nobody’s responsibility (and nobody’s business) but your own.  And I can hear everyone shouting “Darn right!” until something happens that throws us off course.  Then the reason we didn’t eat right, missed our workout or fell short on sleep is someone else’s fault.   C’mon friends, we are tougher than that.  Smarter than that. More resilient than that.  Aren’t we?  We can’t control everything that happens in our lives but we can control how we react to and recover from them.  Ok, so you had to take the cat to the vet and grab lunch on the run.  No biggie, opt for a turkey lettuce wrap from a sandwich shop or pick up broth-based soup at the grocery store deli rather than a Big Mac at McD’s. Overslept because your partner unplugged your alarm clock?  No worries, go for a walk later that night or schedule the same workout for the next day.  Don’t beat yourself up over it but don’t let it derail your progress either.  Do what you would do for anyone else in your life – be sympathetic, understanding and find a way to get back on track. 

Additionally, we can be so bold as to expect to be thrown off course in an attempt to combat the disruption (say whaaaat?).  Keep a few protein bars in your bag or desk drawer to tide you over on days when lunch isn’t an option.  Create a 30 minute at-home body weight workout you can do when the gym doesn’t happen.  Head to bed extra early or set a second alarm on days when you’re super stressed to avoid oversleeping.   You know the potential landmines in your life, expect the occasional explosion and expect the fall out.  But don’t retreat, please, please, please don’t retreat.  Keep fighting for yourself.  Own the catastrophe and own the rubbish.  Then sweep it up and keep going.

Don’t look at disruptions in your life as roadblocks and don’t allow them to become excuses for not taking good care of yourself.  Allowing hiccups to sabotage your progress only hurts you and you deserve better.  This leads to a much bigger topic (to be blogged and podded about soon) which is to show yourself the same support, kindness and compassion that you would show to others.  Self-care is not self-ish.

The premise behind Live It Daily is that to be our best, healthy selves we need to commit to making consistent, positive choices every day.  Change doesn’t happen overnight.  It happens when we stack healthful habits on top of each other.  Then, over time these daily efforts compound to produce a hearty return on our effort.  Choosing nutrient-dense, clean foods and moving our bodies regularly are great places to start! For more information on creating strategies for your best health or to schedule a consultation head on over to the Live It Daily Website. 

5 Tips That’ll Thrust You Over the Start Line

My last blog post urged you all to get started on your wellness journey. That it was ok if your efforts weren’t perfect to start and that it was ok to start and re-start… start 17 times if you have to. And while it was motivating to some, others remained skeptical and are loitering behind the finish line.

I heard, “Rebecca, I’m ready to start – in fact I’ve started 3 times already this year and I could use some help.  What’s the key to starting and staying started?  What should I eat? How should I exercise?  When will I see my results?”

Great questions! Let’s talk about them!

First, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t suggest that you check with your doc before starting a new fitness routine or diet, especially if you have high blood pressure, a heart condition or are on medication.  Like Mom always says, “Safety first!”.    Ok, moving on…

5 Tips to Thrust You Over the Start Line!

 

1.  Get your head right.

Be really clear with yourself on your expectations, why you are doing this and what you want out of this effort. Because it’s going to take effort. It’s going to take change. It’s going to be disruptive to the routines you have today. You will need to dig deep at times to resist that 2nd cupcake, swallow the kale salad and get your backside out of bed at 5am for spin class. Take time to collect your thoughts and clarify what you’re looking to accomplish. Write it down, send a text, craft an email, make a voice recording, anything that makes you think it through and get to the heart of the matter. You might discover there’s more to your motivation than you thought.

 

 

2. Think about your body differently.

You are a complex and powerful machine. Right now your heart is beating, brain is analyzing, lungs are pumping and your muscles are holding you upright and you didn’t have to say a word or do a thing. Any one of those things fail and you’ve got a serious problem. Find ways to respect yourself and your body for the fascinating system that it is.  You wouldn’t pour soda into your car’s gas tank, why are you putting it in yours?

 

 

3. Think about food differently.

Food was meant to be sustenance to feed our powerful machine so that it would run efficiently and allow us to DO stuff with our lives. Over the past few decades we’ve developed the luxury to look at food as a pastime, a hobby, a reward, instead of something to fuel our body. I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to preferring food that is delicious. BUT…. there is no reason why the food we eat can’t be healthy and tasty. Just remember that the first purpose is feeding the machine that keeps us upright day after day.  Make choices that fuel your engine first and then find ways to make those choices yummy!

 

4. Think about exercise differently.

Please don’t exercise for the sole purpose to lose weight. The only thing you’ll lose is interest in no time. Exercise is the opportunity to take your finely tuned machine out on the open road (or down a twisty mountain or off-roading in the hills). Let your body open up and run free. You can choose how fast or slow. Just be sure to take it out and give it a good run to keep it in shape. Maintenance is far easier than dealing with major repairs. Discover the type of movements that excite you, fill your soul or stretch your limits. Then do them. A lot.

 

5. Organize your thoughts regularly.

Once you have a destination and a well-maintained vehicle you want to be smart about your journey. Plan your week, plan your meals, plan your movements and anticipate roadblocks. Check in with yourself daily to be sure you’re on track. If you veer off course simply make a correction. By now you know that the road to health and wellness never really ends, it’s a constant journey peppered with highs and lows. Set your goals, determine the fuel you need each day to help you reach those goals, identify the movements you want to do to keep your machine revved up and plan it out every week. 

Then, my friends, Live It Daily!

Follow my blog to continue receiving practical strategies for your best health.  In upcoming blogs we’ll talk specifically about nutrition, food as fuel and different types of exercises to consider as you plan your wellness journey.