Sunday, August 26, 2012

Letting go

(SYLC 33 & 34)

What is it about we humans that makes us so hard on ourselves? Like most other people I have battled with the internal negative self-talk so familiar to the I'm-not-doing-this-well-enough perfectionist. In the past I've tended to have a kind of all-or-nothing attitude to many aspects of my life - and that includes diet and exercise.

I've not done any 'formal planned' exercise this week. 
Thought = failure. Result =  I stop exercising

I've been 'good' for three days and then scoffed a bunch of Freddo Frogs. 
Thought = failure. Result = I stop eating well.

It doesn't take a psychologist (and I am one) to tell me that this way of thinking is both unhelpful and unnecessary. Beating ourselves up about not being perfect makes us miserable and actually prevents us from moving forward. And as there is no such thing as being perfect it's ultimately empty striving.

At the end of last year when my circumstances changed I decided it was time to let go and be kinder to myself. My approach to life had been neither physically nor emotionally healthy nor sustainable. I can tell you this letting go business after years of self-bashing is not easy. But it does get easier with persistance and it just feels so good.

Those two words 'feels good' have been the key. These days I take alot more notice of my what my body is telling me than ever before. This includes my gut, might right shoulder that gets sore when I get stressed, my head, how I feel when I wake up in the morning and my general energy levels. I observe and I tweak.

I have changed the way I'm eating. I try to steer clear of too many carbohydrates as they make me feel feel sluggish then hungry for more, and grains make me get sinusy. I cut out sugar as an experiment for three months and liked the result so kept it up. I eat whole foods and cook almost everything from scratch. I've cut out almost all processed foods from my diet.

But importantly I'm not nuts about it. If I go out for dinner and there's a beautiful freshly prepared dessert that appeals, I'll order it. If I'm at someone else's place for a meal I eat what I'm given, grateful that someone has cooked for me. If I have a few days where convenience takes over, I be mindful of the situation and recognise that sometimes things have to give. It's just life, not about getting to the end of a marathon ahead of everyone else.

The same goes with exercise. My schedule can be all over the place preventing me from riding to work, and sometimes I just don't feel like going to pilates at the end of the day. I know the importance of exercise and how good it feels to be strong and in this area I push myself a little more as I have a tendency to make excuses. But I don't beat myself up if I don't go. Mindfully I observe why I've not done my ride or gone to a class while realising there will be other opportunities, like the long bike ride I took a couple of Sunday's ago with my friend E.

As Sarah Wilson said in a recent post: Sigs Siga. Slowly, slowly. That's my new way.

Life for me is about living, not being unforgiving.

My zippy folder. [photo by The Dirt Bum]

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Balancing two wheels

(SYLC 32)

A number of years ago I was reintroduced to the joys of cycling by a friend of mine whilst holidaying in Europe. It was liberating - I could whiz around so much faster than walking allowed, but get through spaces cars couldn't take me. When I returned home I bought a bike and tried to incorporate cycling into my daily life but just couldn't make it happen. There seemed so many obstacles - 'it's too dangerous, I'm not fit enough, the distances are too long'. Three years later the bike was rusting in my garage.

This year has been all about trying to get some more balance in my life and one of the areas of focus is my 'all-or-nothing' attitude, that very unhelpful perfectionism thought tendency. When it came to cycling I felt I had to ride everywhere everyday or I wasn't doing it 'properly'. The reality is it's much harder for me to do this in Sydney than it is in a European city. The distances are far greater and our city is not always conducive to a bike. And where I got this notion of 'cycling properly' who knows.

After my annual European sojourn earler this year I decided to give cycling in Sydney another go - albeit with a much more gentle balanced approach. I would simply ride when situation was suited to biking, or when I felt like it. I bought a folding bike so I could store my two wheels inside my flat more easily, put it in the boot of a car or take it on a train. Suddenly, with a new attitude and more convenient wheels I was riding a few times a week. I rode to friends places or part of the way to work. The gentle balanced approach seemed to be working.

This week's challenge is all about checking in with how we are going balancing the various areas of our lives that are important to us. Back in February my wheel of life looked pretty wobbly. Have I managed to smooth it out?


With both self-care and personal growth I've been shooting fowards, and a trip to Scandinavia earlier in the year gave me the much needed inspiration to tackle my nerves about decorating at home. I've made a breakthrough this past week on my next career step that has me very excited. But I put less time than I wanted to into working on my relationships, starting some creative pursuits and getting out and enjoying the world. These areas now need my focus.

So yes, I think my life has more balance that it did in January but I have a way to go before it's a nice round pumped up tyre that will ensure a comfy ride. And my approach to this? It will in itself be gentle, balanced and realistic. A little Sukshma.
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