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There’s probably not one person on the planet who hasn’t been affected by everything’s that’s transpired over the course of the last year. Many have suffered great losses. Others have had to totally upend their lives in order to survive (figuratively and/or literally). We’ve had to change the way we’ve thought about socializing, shopping and in some cases even how we stocked up on toilet paper.
The one constant has been no constant at all. Change was the order of the day. Perhaps there were occasions we thought we’d never get through, learn to accept or even survive. Yet here many of us are, looking to what we hope is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. But after all we’ve been through, all we’ve learned to cope with and all we’ve survived, why would our collective mantra be “Let’s get back to normal?”
“Normal” hasn’t existed for a long, long time. We can look to our parent’s or grandparent’s generations for proof of that.
Just think of all the changes that occurred over the ten years before the pandemic and your head might spin. Social media, streaming services and driverless vehicles that are an essential part of life haven’t been around for long. But we’ve adapted to them, accepted them and now utilize them in various and even (sometimes) productive ways. So why should the new post-pandemic world be any different?
Even with what seems to be hope for an eventual conclusion to much of pandemic-related life as we know it, we have to wonder if everyday occurrences like blowing out birthday candles and then serving the cake to everyone who didn’t blow on it will ever be a thing again. Heck, most of us have even learned to recognize “smiling eyes” (above a face mask) even when we can’t see someone’s mouth grinning from ear to ear. Sure, some familiar ways of doing things will seep back into our daily lives. But others will not. And we can choose to be okay with this evolution or choose to mourn the losses.
There’s nothing wrong with mourning, of course. Being reverent about life changes and closing chapters can be very healthy. But there will still be a time to accept and move on—and no longer live in (or yearn for) the past.
For many who’ve orchestrated our own major life changes, this might be a more familiar concept. Perhaps a spouse who never thought he or she could thrive outside of marriage has discovered he or she can. Maybe a person facing a crippling injury is showing the world that someone in a wheelchair can dance. I, myself, once weighed over 450 pounds and, after losing the excess weight with the help of healthier eating and exercise, discovered nothing about my life was ever going to be “normal” again. And that was actually a good thing for someone who used to live a very cloistered existence.
I remember when I was younger, my parents listened to music via records playing on a turntable. I thought they were crazy. My preferred source of tunes was the cassette tape. But then came the compact disc—something I was equally excited about. I remember the transition from cassette to CD was somewhat lengthy. Automobile manufacturers even did us the courtesy of building both options into vehicle stereos for a number of years. I marvel at that audio evolution today. It was slow, peaceful and gentle.
These days we go from an iPhone B.C. to iPhone 2001 with enough speed to give many of us whiplash. But guess what? That’s the way of it. Slow and steady. Fast and furious. And the phenomenon of change is increased by about ten billion percent when we, as a collective society, have to face something like a worldwide pandemic. Change isn’t only coming. It’s here. So why not embrace it?
Often, I’ll meet people who have a mentality I deem as “really ancient.” And this observation has nothing to do with the said person’s chronological age. It’s all about their stubbornness factor. How committed are they to their ways? How much do they refuse to accept, learn, grow or adapt? I love meeting people in their 90s or older who have a lust for life, which usually includes a welcoming attitude toward change. People of this age group have been through a lot. Many have outlived spouses, partners or even their own children. And yet many hold steadfast to their resolve to enjoy life for all it’s worth—including the changes that come at them in often fast-moving ways.
So as we emit a collective sigh of relief in hopes that there truly will be an end to many the pandemic’s effect on our lives and some of our “normal” activities can resume, let’s also stay aware of and open to the changes that are not only here to stay but are also just around the corner (even the kinds of changes we cannot necessarily predict).
The more resolve we have to embrace change and the more we go with the flow, the better chance we have to be a positive and productive part of whatever life might have in store for us—no matter what device our current favorite song is playing on.
For years I’ve been belaboring the negative side effects of a society that’s glued to its phones and the perils of social media distracting us from genuine human interaction. Although the online arena has opened up a whole new world (the ability to research something in a split second, locate long lost friends or do something as trivial as see how the captain of our high school football team has aged in comparison to ourselves), it’s also created a lot of virtual “single-lane highways,” which have encouraged many of us to narrow our tolerance of people who we might deem as different.
The ugly side effects of being more sole focused have been pervasive in recent years and something I’ve worked hard to overcome—both personally and for others who are open to breaking out of these virtual self-imposed prisons that limit free (and often kind) thought.
And now to add to our solace-addicted society comes the coronavirus and the need to self-isolate (and/or quarantine depending on which hashtags float your boat). Social distancing is necessary and will hopefully help us contain this potentially out of control pandemic. But we need to also pay attention to the side effects of having to shelter in place. To close ourselves off even more from others (extended family, friends and even strangers on the street) has the potential to further harm our society and how we treat one another as a whole. Not to mention how we treat ourselves.
What’s perhaps even worse about this international crisis is that there is no immediate end in sight. We continue to get different messages based on the latest information. Some of it is valid. Much of it is guesswork. Never has “Wait and see” taken on such prominence.
The good news is that there are some helpful tactics we can take on in order to help avoid some of the prolonged side effects of this mandatory alone time.
For starters, everyone can instill a little peace of mind into their daily lives. If you don’t have a meditation practice, now’s a great time to begin one. There are plenty of apps that can lead us through different guided meditations of our choosing. Many offer the ability to choose a time length and even a subject matter. We can also simply sit down, close our eyes and take deep breaths—thinking “in” as we breathe in, and “out” as we breathe out. A gentle pause between the ‘in’ and ‘out’ breaths will add even more to the experience.
When our brains and our breathing get into sync, our minds calm and we can approach life with a little more thoughtfulness and presence. I’d even encourage you to practice meditation with everyone you’re quarantined with. Even young children get the concept. They might think of it as more of a game (can they be quiet long enough to participate?)—but they can still reap the rewards of a little self-imposed silence. There’s also a free resource being offered by Eckhart Tolle that you can click to for inspiration; as well as Well Being and Healing in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic video you can watch from Deepak Chopra.
Another fun and centering activity for everyone (young and old) is to color in coloring books together. Amazon and other online resources offer coloring books for every interest. There are car coloring books for gearheads. Dinosaur coloring books for explorers. Unicorn coloring books for dreamers, snarky coloring books for adults and even Christmas coloring books for yours truly (I admit it, I’m a Christmas addict every day of the year). You can add a giant box of crayons, which you can place at the center of a dining table. Then everyone in your household can choose a page of their favorite coloring book and create their own masterwork. (I suggest everyone sign and date their works of art as well.)
This simple practice of “creating” while spending time together can be spirit building—even if no one feels the need to talk during the coloring fest. Although certainly there can be a groan or two offered in regard to trying to “Color within the lines.”
People can even use FaceTime on their phones to have coloring book parties with long distance relatives (or even neighbors across the street). You could even put together a coloring book and crayon gift package through an online vendor to send to your favorite people across town or across the country. Trust me when I assure you that even those who participate by rolling their eyes will probably enjoy this ritual (a ritual that can be done daily).
Another fun “at home adventure” for the family could be to celebrate Christmas all over again. Pull out the decorations, the fake trees, the tangled up lights and turn your living room into a magical winter wonderland. (Who couldn’t use a little extra sparkle right about now?)
And there’s never been a better time for cleaning out closets and/or organizing (and digitizing) old photographs and videotapes.
Last but not least, I encourage all of us to keep a journal that lists what we look forward to doing once we can “return to normal.” Normal being the keyword. Encourage kids, friends and other family members to do this as well. Maybe you’ll list a goal of joining a bowling league. Or auditioning for a community theatre troupe. Or eating hot dogs from a kiosk at the zoo. Or even surprising a stranger behind you in line by paying for their drink order at a coffee shop.
Whatever it is, make a list of the simple pleasures we once took for granted and look forward to partaking in again. Don’t be sad about the fact that most of these activities are on hold. Be joyful that we could partake of these pleasures very recently and that, in time, we can enjoy them again. Perhaps with more gratitude and joy than we did in the past.
It’s up to us as a society to preserve a way of life that celebrate strangers participating in community activities. To see a movie together. To stand in line with one another at a grocery store without judging one another. And to pass a stranger on the street and offer a smile.
Or even—and just go with me here—start a conversation and invite them to your next kitchen table coloring book party.
Image Source: CNN
Guest Post by Lisa Goldberg, Certified Dietician & Nutrition Specialist
How are your 2020 new year resolutions going? Sadly, most people give up on their weight loss resolutions by mid-February. Only a month and a half into the New Year!
Has this happened to you? You start off motivated and ready to go and then slowly lose steam. And even worse, you’re exasperated from trying to figure out why this keeps happening. Then self-doubt begins to creep back in and you wonder why you just can’t stay the course.
Maybe you chose a plan that wasn’t sustainable for the long term or you didn’t have anyone keeping you accountable. What I’ve found is that the most people that want to make a change and fail over and over, never address the crucial piece to the puzzle: Changing the habits, behaviors and mindset that got you to be overweight in the first place.
Imagine what it would feel like to:
- Feel confident and in control of your body and food choices
- Break the habit of emotional eating, overeating or bingeing for good
- Have more energy to spend on the things that matter most to you in your life instead of obsessing about food
- Stop self-sabotaging your weight loss efforts time after time
- Feel proud of yourself instead of constantly beating yourself up about not eating ‘perfectly’.
To demonstrate how readers of the Just Stop Eating So Much! blog can get there, I’ve created a 5-day challenge called Master Your Mindset for Lasting Food Freedom, which begins on Thursday, February 27th. If food, weight and dieting is a struggle for you, click here to take a health step towards real food freedom.
About the Guest Blogger:
Lisa Goldberg is a nutritionist with a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. In addition, her certifications and Licenses include: Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Dietician/Nutritionist licensed by New York State, Certified in Adult Weight Management by the ADA. Lisa is also a personal trainer certified by the American Counsel on Exercise since 1994. She was the Nutritionist at the New York Stock Exchange from 2003-2007 and for 10 years served as the nutritionist to traders on Wall Street. Anyone who would like to discuss their weight loss goals with Lisa can schedule a free 30-minute weight loss consultation with her by clicking here. (Simply let Lisa know you found out about her on the Just Stop! blog.)
A Note from Gregg:
As some of you Just Stoppers might remember, I have been lucky enough to be a guest in nutrition rockstar Lisa Goldberg’s recent weight loss summits not once, but several times. I love Lisa’s total approach to wellness, which not only includes getting to a healthy weight, but also enjoying life and learning to love and appreciate yourself in the process. Any Just Stopper who wants to find out more information (without any obligation), can click here to schedule a free 30-minute Discovery Session with Lisa herself to find out more about the upcoming Master Your Mindset for Lasting Food Freedom Lisa writes about above.
The word “acceptance” has become credo for many who are doing their best to evolve mentally and physically. And for good reason. Arguing with reality can prove to be a frustrating experience with little positive outcome. So accepting one’s current situation (no matter what it relates to) can be a necessary step toward reaching goals that might include inner peace, mental or physical wellness and various definitions of success.
There are times, however, that the concept of “acceptance” can become an excuse we fall back on as a reason to not work toward positive change. There’s definitely a yin and yang to this in the dieting community. Some claim that accepting (and loving) their excess weight is a positive thing and even hold up popular celebrities like Lizzo to prove their point. And Lizzo certainly is a beautiful example of loving one’s self no matter what the scale might register. But does this kind of body-acceptance mean someone who’s morbidly obese (usually defined by being at least 100 pounds overweight) shouldn’t try to get down to a healthier size?
The good news is that the edicts of “acceptance” and self-love can work hand-in-hand with setting goals that can result in a happier and healthier you. As someone who used to tip the scale at over 450 pounds and who had been overweight my entire life up to that point, I know all too well the dangers that come along with being very heavy. I couldn’t talk on the phone without becoming breathless. I could barely find pants to fit my 60″ waist. I wore out the floorboard of my the car I drove during my college years because of the amount of weight I was putting onto it when getting in and out of the vehicle. And I even broke a movie theater seat when on a date during my time in high school. So I had some very good reasons to lose weight (in addition to all the medical benefits I would reap if I took off the excess pounds).
Certainly “acceptance” did (and still does) play into my going from fat to fit (not to mention keeping the excess weight off). And it can for you or someone you love who’s fighting the battle of the bulge as well. For starters, you can absolutely look to someone like Lizzo (follow her on Twitter or Instagram) and be inspired by her bright outlook and declarations of self-acceptance. You can also start a daily practice of writing down your current attributes in a journal. Or volunteer somewhere to get the kind of fruitful feedback that lets you know you’re making an important difference in this world.
Our self-worth is a virtual muscle. The more we “exercise” it, the stronger it becomes. And we need to love ourselves to strengthen that muscle and initiate positive change.
Consider someone you don’t really care for. Is this a person you’re concerned about? A person you want to live a happier, healthier life? Probably not. Now think of someone you do care for—a family member, a close friend, a romantic interest or even a cherished pet. Chances are these are the ones you would like to see living their very best lives. Perhaps it’s time for you to see yourself in this same loving light.
If a negative voice inside your head is constantly reminding you why you don’t matter or why you’re “less than,” then you may have less success when trying to lose weight for healthier reasons.
I always encourage people to live “as if.” (Meaning as if you’re already at whatever goal you’re currently striving for.) You don’t have to turn to extreme diets that leave you feeling unfulfilled. While some food plans or guidelines can be helpful when starting out on a healthier eating regimen, selecting food and nutrition options that give you lots of choices and leeway allows you to live your life to the fullest (even while journeying toward change).
You’re a celebrity in your own right. Why shouldn’t you be happy in every moment? You can have a cookie while on a healthier eating plan to take off excess pounds. The trick is not having the whole bag of cookies.
So yes. Accept where you’re at (on the scale) today. At this moment. And love yourself for it. For whatever reasons you put on the weight in the past, it was somehow serving you. But now? You’ve come to accept that you’re a rockstar in your own right. And that can translate to eating healthier, getting thinner and walking life’s runway like you’re a supermodel. Because guess what? Just like the fabulous Lizzo, that’s exactly what you are.