12/31 2013

Find Health and Happiness in 2014

 

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions – the very name implies they’ll be short-lived. I much prefer focusing on on good health and happiness, and developing longer-term habits to get there. That’s why I like to look at the prior year in retrospect, examine the lessons learned and try to carry forward life lessons worth keeping.

What did you learn in 2013? Maybe my list will help get you started.

Good things happen to those who wait. I worked hard, mastered the art of disappointment, waited (not so) patiently, and finally I landed a dream job with the High Five Children’s Health Collaborative last spring.  I thank my lucky stars every day that I can spend my days helping others lead healthier lives – and even get paid for it.

In early 2102, I published EAT IN NOT OUT, a book selected by Barnes & Noble as a “Compelling Read from Authors You Need to Know.” Despite my diligent efforts to promote it, sales fell short of my expectations. Fast forward nearly two years, and the book jumped to #1 in the Amazon charts in the nutrition and cookbook categories.

Good things do happen, even if it takes a little while to get there.

Take it easy. In sports, we’re always taught: no pain, no gain. I have often applied that theory to work and life as well. When things don’t work out exactly as I’d like, I just keep pounding the pavement, so to speak, without altering the pace or trying a new route.

When I trained for the NYC Marathon this year, I kept getting injured – one new problem after the other. I thought about dropping out, but decided instead to reduce my total training mileage and simply enjoy the experience. Ironically, when race day arrived, I felt terrific and enjoyed one of my best times anyway.

I don’t necessarily think life or races are about shortcuts. There will always be those grueling 22-miler training runs you have to endure.

However, to paraphrase Deepak Chopra, my inspirational meditation guide, if you’re living closely to your true purpose, things don’t always have to be so difficult. Perceived problems can be an opportunity to change directions and start anew.

If the going gets too rough, maybe it’s not meant to be.

Listen to your body. If you have ever taken a yoga class, you likely heard the instructor say, “If a pose hurts, you are probably doing it wrong or pushing too hard.” Often, a tiny tweak or modification is all you need to reap the full benefit of the pose and avoid a potential injury.

In everyday life, the symptom(s) may not be as obvious as a yoga pose or knee pain that stops you in your tracks on a run. It may be an upset tummy, a crick in the neck or a sleepless night. Whatever it is, your body is trying to tell you something that your mind doesn’t know – or knows but is trying to ignore.

Listen carefully to that body, especially if you’re as stubborn as I am! Then make the necessary adjustments to alleviate the pain and get life back on track.

Keep the faith. When I walked up to participate in the Spartan Beast last summer, I was surrounded by incredibly buff 20- and 30-year olds. Putting the fear of intimidation aside, I climbed walls, climbed ropes, jumped in mud pits and lifted concrete blocks just like the rest of them, later passing many of these same people on the course. Not only did I finish #1 in my age group that day, but I had a blast doing so.

Turning fifty this year was a healthy reminder that things aren’t always as easy and injury-free as they used to be, but it also doesn’t mean life is over!

So much of accomplishing anything in life boils down to having faith in yourself – at any age, shape or size. Don’t let fear or intimidation stand in the way.

Stay true to yourself. When I left Boston 15+ years ago to head out West, my friend Phil left me with the departing words: “Stay true to yourself, Melinda.” Like listening to your body, when faced with challenging decisions or even everyday tasks, it’s important to align your actions with who you are at the core.

If you’re feeling conflicted about actions to take or decisions to make, look inside. If your body hasn’t yet spoken, your heart will sing.

You can’t solve other people’s problems. Especially as women, we are taught to tend to the needs of others, even at a young age. Having children only accentuates this quality.

Sometimes in the process of taking care of those we love, we do too much and try too hard, building the false illusion that we can solve their problems, too.

But we can’t. Ultimately everyone has to live life, solve problems and make decisions on their own terms, finding solutions that meet their satisfaction.

You’ll help everyone else, and especially yourself, by learning to let go.

Share the love. I re-learn this lesson every year; but in 2013, friends were particularly meaningful and important. From celebrations in Scottsdale to mountain bike rides in Boise, I couldn’t have made it without the wise words, comfort and silly jokes of my gal pals.

At the start of this year, my best childhood friend took her life.Those who knew and loved her will always miss her, but I’m forever thankful for the endless hours of happiness we shared while playing waitress, performing gymnastics shows and singing Osmonds songs. Her loss reminds me to to tell others how much I love them – whenever I can, while I can.

Rest in peace, sweet girl. And happy new year to all.

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