Making lifestyle changes a reality​

Making lifestyle changes a reality

Are you staying up late, overeating, avoiding exercise, bingeing on social media? Do you long to make lifestyle changes a reality?

How can change happen when these habits seem so hard to break? As a health consultant and licensed naturopathic doctor, I ask myself these questions all the time. Why do some clients make massive transformations, and more commonly, we mere mortals struggle to get started? Furthermore, what is the thing to get us past ourselves and make the changes we know we need to make?

First off, I’d say it is not the same thing for everyone. Sometimes, support and partnership are needed, or a depth of information and understanding to cause there to be sufficient motivation. 

However, I think the thing that helps the most is presence.

I’d given birth three times before and felt pretty confident (okay, super confident in my body’s ability to birth). Sure, I also experienced some level of fear and trepidation about the pain I would experience. I also knew and would remind myself that it was a part of birth and talk myself down. When my midwife asked me what I wanted my birth to be like, I presumed that much of the experience would be out of my hands as each birth is different, so I responded that I would like to remain present through it all. 

Too often in life, we get going and reacting so much that we lose our present, the consciousness of the very moment. We may be thinking about past pains, avoiding pain, running from emotions, or pleasure-seeking. In birth, pain intensifies due to fear and emotional response. Hang-ups with food and avoiding a morning routine are often not about the habit but the emotions behind them. 

What can we then do?

What then is the way forward? I would suggest that to create change and step into the life we love, step into presence. Below you’ll find five tips to create more presence and consciousness.

  1. Practice- if you lift weights once or practice for a week, you’ve got it? You know how to do it, right? However, this one week, is not sufficient to change your body or your life. Weight lifting is a life-long habit. Just like being present, we must continue to practice to allow it sufficient time to change us. 
  2. Weakness- notice the areas where you need the most growth- for instance, morning routine. The weakness is probably an area where more ritual is needed. How can you bring joy, beauty, and pleasure into this area? For example- instead of waiting till the last minute, perhaps one would start by rising five minutes earlier to sit quietly and give thanks for the new day. Instead of the morning scroll, you could apply a lovely rosewater spray or step outside to take a deep breath of invigorating fresh air. These rituals repeated day after day become important and help lead to fabulous presence and joy. 
  3. Slow down- shaking salt on your food mindlessly and or quickly running out the door, eating in the car? What if these were done in reverence? giving thanks while taking the salt from the counter, opening the lid, gently, rhythmically shaking the salt, and watching it fall to the food, giving thanks for the pink crystals on your plate and placing the salt back in its rightful spot. The difference is in being present with the moment and offering care to the mundane. 
  4. Breath- breath is one of the best ways to return to the now. Slowing done our racing respiration supports a calm nervous system and clearer thoughts. Learn more about the transformation of breath here with the book Breath, by James Nestor.
  5. Celebrations- food, and food! So much good food to be grateful for when we enter into celebration. Holidays can be a trigger for eating disorders, consumption, etc. How would being present with the food and the whole experience of the holiday be different? Sure just as in birth, there may be discomfort and many unexpected things, but what if we chose to remain present to them all remaining in the spirit of the celebration. How might the story change and could with give birth to a life transformed?
This life and all of its messiness is certainly a gift and we’ve got to be present to receive all of its blessings and the opportunities for growth. How will you allow this present to transform you? 
Learn more about working with Dr. Guan here.

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