Motivation

The Subtle Signs of Life

So it has been more than a week since I last wrote a blog post. The reason for this MIA is the usual excuse – life got in the way. Needless to say the last couple of weeks have been very stressful and busy.

But then I realised I was sweating the small stuff and missing on some important ‘signs’ (if you believe in this kind of stuff) around me.

I have been trying to change my mindset for a while now. Trying not to worry so much. To be more spontaneous and accepting of fate. However such things are easier said than done.

I always try to start the day positive, yet at the first challenge or misfortune my mind slips into negativity – anger and frustration morph into desperation and misery.

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However the past week has been different. I think I may have truly began to change my mindset. Of course this process started a while back – there was no ‘game-changing’ day. Now I am finally seeing the culmination of those small¬†actions, signs and chance discoveries.

So I noticed that over the past few days a lot of things have been screaming at me. Those ‘things’ or signs came into 2 forms: people and perceptions.

Interesting people = interesting conversations

Everybody wants to talk but few are willing to listen.

Sometimes we forget to truly pay attention to other people’s stories and often times we forget to even ask about their story and current life situation. Science has proven than talking about ourselves has a similar effect to drugs – it makes us feel good. But in our endeavour to get that dopamine hit we can easily miss out on the important life lessons others can share with us.

This week I have been blessed (either that or my ears have developed a new level of hearing abilities ūüôā ) with a few enlightening conversations that really hit home one message – everybody is fighting their own battle; just as there are people better off than you so there are people in much worse situations.

Yes, we all know there are people worse off than us, but how many of us actually think about that before we erupt in anger or fall in despair over non-life threatening situations?¬†*Note to self: don’t sweat the small stuff, nobody died right?

Yet lessons can be learned not just from those worse off than us – a lot of people nowadays have inspiring stories of success or unexpected achievements. A girl coming back from the dead, an Irishman fluent in Russian, a boy who’s working two jobs to achieve his dream despite supporting a family, including a member who was in a hospital ICU.

We can find inspiration from many around us only if we bothered to ask and truly listened to their stories. Everyone is looking to grow and discover themselves and we can all share our experience and knowledge.

Everything happens for a reason and everything has a solution.

Just as I was starting to question (and get frustrated about) the direction in which my life was heading, a random check on social media alerted me to some interesting opportunities. After further research I was surprised to discover that two of my acquaintances were already involved in those. *Repeat: everything happens for a reason.

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Read the signs

So sometimes we just need to open our eyes (and ears!) and be more aware of the things happening around us. We need to be more perceptive and inquisitive. For example, in the past days I saw a few near-misses on the roads (a common thing in Dubai). But seeing it happen so close to me really made me think. Especially after hearing the screams of a man on the side of the street who had been hit by a car moments before I drove by. *Note to self: Life is precious.

This was followed by a couple of friends sharing personal stories of very serious health problems – and I was worried about my stomach bloating! By being aware of these different realities we can adjust our mindset and be grateful for what we have. The way we perceive things can have a huge impact on our actions (and reactions).

Our thoughts can also subconsciously attract events and signs related to those thoughts. No, I’m not going to talk about The Secret and how your thoughts and the universe are intimately connected (thank you Oprah for enlightening us ūüôā ).

I did, however, encounter a few interesting coincidences. I’m currently reading a book on Australia and by default my mind tends to gravitate towards that part of the world. So when I was doing some fitness competition research I was surprised to find that some of the best in the industry here hailed from Australia (people and products).

Also a couple of conversations ended up with interesting information about Oz land (and I wasn’t the one initiating or sharing the facts!). Very interesting indeed.

So my point is – be more mindful about the things and people that surround you and also of your own thoughts and reactions. You would be surprised what you can discover!

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How Your Relationship with Food Affects Your Health

In my last post I spoke about how a healthy lifestyle starts from changing your mindset. In a nutshell what I was trying to say was that sometimes we need to re-calibrate our relationship with food in order to truly change our lifestyles for good.

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This reminded me of a very interesting podcast I heard a while back about the psychology of eating by Emily Rosen, Director of the the Institute for the Psychology of Eating and Expert in Nutritional Psychology and Marc David, MA Bestselling Author and Founder of the same institute.Unfortunately the podcast is no longer available, however here are four key points from the interview:

Mindful eating

Mindful eating is all about being focused on the present moment of eating. It is eating with intention and attention. Nature is teaching us through biology that we are designed to be present with the meal. For example, if we eat mindlessly or under stress  our digestion is impaired and nutrient absorption is decreased almost to zero.

Surprisingly, animals’ eating behaviour is a good example of mindful eating.¬†Animals would typically drag their food to a place where they could eat in peace without others jumping in. And just like them, we, humans,¬†are designed to eat in a state of relaxation.

Of course, animals don’t have as many imagined threats as humans. Our problem is that we get locked in psychological stories and worries. Animals let go of their stress easily, but we are not able to let go¬†of¬†our anxieties¬†so well. Yet, how we¬†eat our food and in what state we¬†are when we¬†eat affects how much¬†we¬†get out of that food.

Our perception of food

Food today is considered a nuisance and eating is seen as just an automated process. Thinking food is the enemy is creates stress and the body responds by releasing more cortisol and insulin. This in turn usually results in food being stored as fat.

Our thoughts and anxieties can become disruptive stressors to the digestive system. Hence, you can see that such toxic nutrition beliefs are dangerous. Our thoughts not only affect our food choices (like those sugar cravings we get when under stress) but also the physiological processes involved in eating and digestion.

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Understanding our emotions

Emotions need to be digested just like food. Yet we should use food as a symbolic substitute for emotional release. There has been much written about emotional eating, but the basic principle is that if you don’t get what you want or need in one area of your life, ¬†you will seek it in other areas.

Therefore it is important to understand yourself and your emotions in order to be able control impulses. We often underestimate the impact that holding on to emotion, as well as self-attack and self-judgement, can  have and how that manifest as physical symptoms, such as poor digestion.

How to be more mindful

We need to remember that our minds need to be exercised just like our bodies. The mind is a tool which we need to learn to use and we can train it to spot negative thoughts. Start noticing when you are being too self-critical and think of something positive about yourself instead.

Did you know that 95% of the thoughts you had yesterday you will have today?

Learn to enjoy your food and be mindful of the effects it has on your body.¬†Take 6-8 long breaths before eating to re-calibrate and relax before starting your meal.¬†And don’t just¬†focus on which foods are bad but also on the way foods are produced and treated.

The key message

If you’re focused on the present moment, aware of the relationship between food and your body and are inspired to take care of yourself then mindfulness shouldn’t take much effort.

The way we eat can be an indicator of our attitude and the way you do other things in life. It can also bring people together and take us back to our natural state of relaxation, gratitude, celebration and presence.