Thursday, December 29, 2011

Getting In the Game For the New Year

As I'm winding down this year and pressing into the new one I am, of course, thinking about resolutions. That word is spoken puts one image into my head, a piece of paper with about four things on it. Most of us could actually write down our resolutions and blindly swap with another person in town and it'd probably end up being the same list in different handwriting! Because we all want to lose weight, make more money, and spend more time _____. (You fill in the blank.)

The problem with that list is that it's too vague. And that's the very same reason we end a year having not completed one of the things on our list. And then we make a list again for the new year and the same words are on it.

If I gave you a piece of paper that said, "Come to my house. Get the coconut oil. Put the coconut oil in my car." You might be very willing to do these things, but it's not going to take you very long at all to realize that being "willing" doesn't get the job done.

Why? It's too vague.

Very few people reading this blog will know how to get to my house. Not even my children who live in my house realize I have coconut oil. They wouldn't kno if it's above the stove, in the pantry, or because of all my homemade facial concoctions, if it's under my bathroom sink! And finding my car would b even more difficult since it tends to be all over town!

And THAT'S why most "New Year Resolutions" do not make it past the first week. Because so many people usually have "lose weight" at the top of their resolutions list, we're going to use "lose weight" as the example throughout this blog. But understand that ANYTHING (make more money, spend more time with the kids, etc.) can apply with these same principles.

The first step toward successfully completing your desires for the new year is to change your wording from "resolution" to "game." We understand that word better because we're a culture of sports fanatics. We know that to be an NFL player you've got to be serious about "being in the game". Nonchalant, overweight uncles throwing a football on Thanksgiving do not REALLY get in "the game". They merely watch those who are. So now you're going to get in the game! The game is called "weight loss." It's going to be a great game and you are going to win because you're going to KNOW HOW to play the game!

Your first objective in playing the game is knowing your GOAL.

Now u need to think like a football player who has a goal called an "end line" or a "touchdown line." So your "goal" is not to "lose weight." Thats the name of the game. Your GOAL is determined by deciding how much weight you want to lose. You need to be EXACT. How you come to this conclusion is up to you. Do you want to lose enough weight to be at your proper BMI? Or do you want to lose a number of pounds suggested by a doctor? Your GOAL is the final number of pounds you wish to drop.

So now you know your GAME is "to lose weight", and your GOAL is an exact, final number of pounds.

Now you need to picture a football field. It's green with periodic white lines drawn all the way across it. The player knows the GOAL is the touchdown line. But he's got incremental goals. Since I don't know a THING about football I found this information on; "White lines on a football field are critical to playing the game. By knowing what yard lines, hash lines, and end lines represent, you’ll have an easier time following the game."

I couldn't have said it better myself! If your GOAL is to lose forty pounds then your yard lines, hash lines, and end lines are your incremental goals. That's where you lose your forty pounds in eight pound segments. (Or whatever you set up as your incremental goals.)

Let's recap, you now know your GAME is "to lose weight", and your GOAL is an exact, final number of pounds. Your yard lines are incremental goals.

Let's wrap up by talking about our GAME PLAN. If just saying, "I'm going to reach my goal!" was all it took to win, then I wouldn't have needed to share my opinions and ideas about how to succeed. No game is won just by wanting to, or by knowing the goals. There has to be a GAME PLAN that includes various PLAYS. These plays are thought about, demonstrated on a white board, practiced, written on little pieces of paper and velcroed to players biceps. And having one game plan isn't enough. There are many and during the course of a game the players have to try different plans as they move their way from yard line to yard line.

This is most definitely true in the weight loss game! Your going to start with a game plan of what type of diet will best suit you. When a player discovers a particular play isn't working he doesn't throw up his hands, give up on the whole game and go sit in the stands to eat a hot dog! I dare say that the nature of life will dictate that some of your original PLAYS won't work. Don't get frustrated because the PLAY worked so good for a friend, or a celebrity that you take yourself out of the game! If you find yourself failing at THAT particular play simply call a time out, regroup, look for a different play, and then continue the game!

I'm going to throw out a bunch of "Don'ts" here;
Don't be vague.
Don't bit off more than you can chew & swallow.
Don't give up!

And I'll wrap up with these "Do's";
Do have a specific, final GOAL.
Do set up incremental YARD LINES.
Do have a GAME PLAN that includes the option of any PLAY needed for the moment.

The only thing not mentioned in this method of goal achieving is setting dates. I didn't talk about setting deadlines because we've been using weight loss as an example. And while many people definitely do use deadlines in losing weight, it wouldn't have been prudent for me to do so.

I had a weight loss goal of forty pounds that I'm proud to say I met... Over the course of three years! First of all, if I'd started the game realizing it'd be a three YEAR journey I don't think I'd have been able to handle that huge time frame. Secondly, weight loss is very different from person to person. Research proves speedy weight loss is neither healthy nor lasting. So where traditional goal setting teaches to set dates at the incremental goal lines, & on other GAMES I do suggest that you set dates. When it comes to weight loss I do not suggest it.

But that GAME convo is for another season!

Knock Out Negative Emotions

When I was a child there was a playground rhyme that went like this;
See my finger?
See my thumb?
See my fist?
You'd better run!
It was definitely said by the tough kids, taunting wimps, flaunting their powerful five year old muscles with the rhyme.

I've given one black eye in my life. My friend, Donald, was teasing me on the playground at school one day saying I liked a little boy named Matthew! It was quite true of course. But for whatever reason I felt my honor and respectability was at stake. So I started chasing Donnie, swinging my fists, telling him to be quiet! Then suddenly, without warning Donnie turned around to end the chase and be done with the game; Wham! You know that comical line from the '90's, "Run into my fist." That's literally what happened! It was the classic case of being in the wrong time in the wrong place and my fist caught him squarely in the eye! I felt terrible hitting my friend! It was on accident! But at least now I'm aware I can give a black eye if I need to!

I've had a new "friend" chasing me around this playground of "life" lately. She goes by the name, Emotions. We have a very tight bond. For whatever reason another childhood rhyme comes to mind;
There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good
She was very, very good
But when she was bad
She was horrid

Indeed, when emotions are good, they are very, very good! Laughter literally releases more feel-good endorphins that lead to feelings of calm & peace. Emotions cause us to feel tender and sweet toward our loved ones. They cause us to feel compassion toward less fortunate humanity, that feeling then pushes us into an action of helping.

But when emotions are bad, they ARE horrid. There are events that can occur that send our emotions into a tailspin. It could be an unfaithful friend, or a death in the family, or the illness of a child. It could be the environment of a job, or even worse, the loss of a job.

My emotions went into a tailspin about five years ago and I had no clue what was going on! I came from positive parents. I am naturally inclined to be positive and bright. Suddenly (at least it snuck up on me so silently it felt like "suddenly) I was needing to cry for no reason. I would feel bursts of anger like I'd never known. And I was sick alllll-the-tiiiime! I had hormone tests done, because of course as a woman, PMS can be blamed for everything emotional and spasmatic! My hormones were PERFECTLY balanced. My iron was even higher than most women of my age. My thyroid was good. I went to homeopathic doctors, and traditional doctors. There was nothing physically wrong with me!

Through prayer, counsel, and some major life-upheavaling decisions I began to realize my problem was literally "all in my head." I had allowed some damage to occur to some foundational elements of health and well-being and now my whole structure was reeling from the damage. I HAD to get proactive on repairing that foundation for several reasons; 1. I still had kids to raise and they were entering their very vulnerable teen years. 2. I love my job as a music director and leader in my church. 3. I had a LOT of future ahead.

More prayer ensued. More counsel. More research. I knew the joy of the Lord was my strength. I knew my answers were in prayer. But I was very confused at myself and very frustrated with my counsellors because the prayer and the joy didn't seem to be helping! Then I happened across a book at my public library. ("Happened?" I believe God set up the encounter.) The book was called, "Happy For No Reason." It wasn't a Christian book. But it was a great resource to help me. What the book did for me was showed me HOW TO access the joy & peace that was already within me!

We've just finished celebrating Christmas and I received from my parents a gift I've been wanting for a while; an iPad2! Here's why my iPad is relevant (besides the fact that I'm currently writing from it! Yippee!) The iPad2 was purchased, paid for in-full, in other words, no ongoing payments were required. The iPad2 was gift wrapped by my mother. The iPad2 was laying beneath her garland bedecked antique piano. For the three to four weeks leading up to Christmas my iPad2... (Sorry! I just get giddy saying "iPad2!) MY iPad2was right there! I walked within inches of it more times than I can count. I KNEW IT WAS THERE! she had asked me if I wanted an iPad2, she called me from the store to find out if I wanted 3G on it. So I actually KNEW I had an iPad2 and I knew the day it was purchased for my benefit!

When did I benefit from this lovely, magical creation of Steve Jobs? The day I TOOK ACTION! And THAT'S what "Happy For No Reason" showed me how to do; take action. I definitely had God's attention in prayer. I would cry my heartache out to him and his spirit would minister to me so intimately. I would even speak in other tongues. But I'd leave that time of prayer and worship and still be lugging around such heavy, oppressive emotions!

Through reading that book (which you must read yourself since I don't have time to rewrite it here) I learned that I had to extend my arms, use the ligaments and muscles in my hands to receive the gift already mine, and I had to tear the paper off, and I had to open the box, and I had to power on the device in order to benefit! (Ok. I just sorta flashed back to that wonderful moment when I got this amazing device currently being tapped and swiped with love!) But that's what I had to also do with my body and brain in order to benefit from the joy and peace already mine via the Holy Ghost!

Though no particular chapter in the book said to do a Happy Exercise, or what exactly that Happy Exercise would be, I combined actions I saw in various chapters and created my OWN Happy Exercise! I knew from my experience in working out that what was required to build the strength of a muscle was repetition. What is required to build a good habit, or tear down bad habits is repetition. So I set the alarm on my phone to go off every hour and I began delivering a five-fingered fist to the breadbasket of bad emotions.

1. Smile for no reason.
When my Happy Exercise alarm goes off. (I have mine set for every hour.) I SMILE! Research shows smiling releases happy hormones into your brain. Women who've had Botox done on the frown lines around their mouth had relief from depression because frowning causes your brain to produce negative, stress inducing hormones. So every hour, for no reason, I SMILE to release the happy endorphins!

2. Think happy thoughts.
I think of someone, someplace, or something that I like. It may b a song, or a book, or a miracle, or an act of kindness I heard about. It may be something that happened so long ago I can't even remember the details. But I very PURPOSEFULLY think a happy thought.

3. Pray.
I ask God to help me be happier. I ask God to heal whatever is causing me emotional or physical pain. I ask God to help the people I'm worried about. I thank God for his blessings. Sometimes this lasts 30 seconds. Sometimes it last 30 minutes. But I purposefully connect myself to my Creator during this Happy Exercise.

4. Do an exercise.
Exercise releases more of those happy endorphins into your brain and bloodstream. So whether you want to lose weight or not. Just MOVE YOUR BODY! Sometimes I go for a walk. Sometimes lock my office door and do 10 pushups. Sometimes I annoy my co-workers by running up and down the stairs three or four times. Sometimes I just stand up from my desk and touch my toes. But I purposefully exercise my body.

5. Compliment someone.
I either write a quick, short notecard or I shoot off a text or fb message to someone letting them know something they have done that I appreciate. I tell someone I think they're beautiful. I tell someone about a good deed I overheard they did and how it impressed me. I tell someone how their conduct under pressure inspired me.

And now we're back where I started...
See my finger?
See my thumb?
See my fist?
You'd better run!

Now I know how to show my horrid emotions exactly who is boss of me! In those five exercises I am deliberately raising my fist to sadness, negativity, oppression, and doubt and delivering a very complete KO! Do I still feel sadness? Of course! Do I still have bad days? Yep. And as long as I have blood pumping through my veins I'll hafta keep on guard against negativity. But NOW I know what and how to get my inner army of joy-bots moving and grooving, taking back territory that rightfully belongs to me.

If you've been dealing with the effects of bad emotions, I hope you'll begin doing Happy Exercises with me. If you have a friend dealing with depression I hope you'll invite them to join me AND YOU in doing Happy Exercises.

Negativity is the enemy and I now know how to raise my fist to it!