I think everyone who’s after a healthier body has a dream. As soon as you think of being healthier, leaner, improving health markers, making your kids proud, enjoying movement, learning to stand up paddle, in your mind a new version of you is born.
That version of you comes to life with all it’s senses; you can see yourself healthy, you can feel your skin is younger, you can touch a new pair of jeans sliding over your hips, you are jumping high and running fast, you are laying on a beach smelling the ocean, your spouse is looking at you with a sparkle in their eyes…or maybe you are winning the Crossfit Games, kicking everybody’s ass at football, you are doing a headstand in Yoga class…or cooking kale in a way that everyone likes! You can hear your colleagues say: ‘”Wow, Jennifer, you look so radiant, are you in love?”, you can hear your doctor say: “Your cholesterol is down, and we are taking you off blood pressure meds!”
How quickly can we build an image like that in our minds – and have that new person born, only to abort that image in the morning. Because your coffee spilled. Because your boss was a jerk. Because your PC crashed. You forgot your lunch. Your kids were mean. Your mom called. Your spouse is sick. The presidential debate was disappointing.
What went wrong? Are you a loser? Is your willpower lacking? Is it that a hot sexy body is only something reserved for the rich and famous? Is it because to cook you need to have that special $300 pan and without it, well it’s just not worth it? What in your day kills that version of you that you caught a glimpse of? The beautiful younger skin, firmer abs, slimmer legs, faster strides, lighter walk, happier smile, the eyes that look like you are in love again! Is it that you don’t want it bad enough?
The reason you let that version of you go is because you didn’t follow your dream. You didn’t show up for yourself. You checked out. I invite you to never feel bad about any dream you let go of. But I also want to ask you to be brave and to dream the dream of health one more time. Show up for that version of yourself. This time you will be ready.
Below is a step by step plan that has worked in following my own dreams. Please use it as a guide and write your own step by step plan. But show up for the dream of health, it’s a dream worth living!
1. Dream boldly about what you want – whether it’s low blood pressure, sexier hips, less fat on your belly, faster running times, or that headstand in Yoga class.
2. Allow that version of you to become very real in your mind. Think back to a time when you were in love – how every minute spent day dreaming about that person put a smile on your face – how the thought of losing them made you suffer and hurt. Fall in love with that version of you, desire it and make it yours.
3. Become clear about your motives. That healthy version of you won’t have more friends, get along with your mother in law, bring world peace or get you promoted. It may or may not attract the opposite sex more. It may or may not solve your marriage issues. Don’t expect your health and physical shape to suddenly solve every crisis in your life. Taking care of your body will create many blessings, but don’t expect a revolution.
4. Choose a few goals that will create your dream. Then make an action plan.
For example right now I am working on losing some belly fat. This is my goal. My action plan is logging my food, making sure I eat 4 times a day, and eating plenty of vegetables at every meal.
I am also learning to be better at one arm hanging from a bar. My action plan was to put one in the living room and hang a few times a day.
At the end of each day I ask myself if I ate the way I wanted and if I did my hanging. Then if I am happy with how it went, I sit and meditate on my goal and make it even brighter in my mind. I smile and create a happy feeling that comes with my goal, having less belly fat, being better at hanging. I let the success of following my dream become the inspiration for the next day.
5. Plan to fail
Humans are creatures of habit. Things come up. You fall off the wagon. If you’ve been you your whole life, don’t expect the new version of you to move in tomorrow and settle in forever. There will be a time of adjustment – anywhere between 4 and 6 weeks in my experience, during which you will need to be extra careful and expect things to go wrong. That doesn’t mean you have to abort your dream. Whether you had two pieces of pie or failed your workout, get back on your horse and keep following your dream. You don’t fail and give up. You fail and move on, that’s part of the plan.
6. Get support
Make your dream important to yourself by not only setting goals and action plans, but also by surrounding yourself with different kinds of support. Get a FitBit to show you how much you walked and to help you track food. Hire a coach to help you establish realistic goals and action plans and to celebrate success with you. Join a website like Fitocracy to have social support. Tell your best friend about your dream and grow it together. Whatever it is you need to do – do it.
I am a dreamer of dreams. Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed to be an artist, a writer, a poet, a world traveler, a teacher… Looking at my life I can see dreams that came true beyond my expectations, but they are all dreams I showed up for. What are you showing up for today? A walk in the park or your couch? A home -cooked meal or the drive-through? And what kind of dream are you following?
If all of the above seems like it’s too much right now…go straight to step 7!
7. Be stubborn and just keep showing up
Sometimes I sit at my computer working on a project and Roland asks me how work is going. I usually look at him and say: “I keep showing up!” I feel like that with studying sometimes, when biomechanics feels like it’s way over my head, or when cooking with a recipe doesn’t come out the way I wanted. But I keep writing, studying, cooking and most of the times I love the process and the outcome. …and I am there, following the dream. When things don’t make sense, just keep showing up!
I love #3. I notice all the time how imagining myself thinner/leaner gives me the sense I will reach total peace and sanity in my life….suddenly love every hard workout, want to go out on the town more, want to show off my body more, be more confident about bringing my career dreams into fruition. Unfortunately, advertising and media have done a fabulous job of convincing us! It is important to stay grounded, or have someone help you find grounding in the reality that your “new” body is fabulous, but it does not define *you* as a person, as a character, and as a spirit. I think if you can release this pressure on your fitness goals, they will likely be more fun to pursue~ not just “doing time” 🙂
Amen! It does take everyday effort, especially for those of us with a dance background, where looks and weight is such a big part of where you dance and how you are perceived as successful or not. When I get like that (start really focusing on looks) I often find there is an underlying source of discomfort that I am compensating for, or just pure old anxiety trying to find something to bite its teeth into. Always helpful to be able to watch myself with a non-judgmental eye, but I would be lying if I say it’s easy 😉 Thank you for taking the time to comment, Cass!
A true holistic article! 🙂 Really like it! What exactly “showing up” means here?
I liked the idea of thinking of being in love with the version of me I desire. But should it really be such a vivid imagining of it, like being in love with a person?!
I think anything you strongly desire should be vivid. It’s like being kinda pregnant, you know. You either are or you aren’t. You either desire or not, want that version of you or you don’t. Showing up is just being there and doing IT whatever IT is. Like with you it would mean going to your computer and playing the video with our workout even if you don’t quite feel training is the thing you want right now. Wants are temporary and very much come and go with emotion, but they should not prevent us from having the discipline of following what our heart desires. Does that make sense: искам вместо иска ми се 😉
That is a very interesting concept which I find absolutely relevant to myself (so many moments of “wanting” and then they go… then come back). I would like to deepen the topic – any suggestion? :).
Galya is out of town without internet for the weekend, but I’ll see that she sees your comment when she gets back. 🙂
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!
Yeah. I would journal. Really meditate on those desires and see where they are coming from. In light of this because you are one of my peeps I will dare give you homework: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTO_dZUvbJA
Thank you! More homework please!
Choice! My deamon… I understand the concept but I don’t know how to make myself not think about what else is available to what I choose! I know the Vipassana course focuses a lot on craving so I will have the chance to work on that.
Well, then ”Alice in wonderland” will be your homework 😉 Do you remember the scene with the cat where Alice asks which way she should go. The cat asks :” where would you like to go”, Alice says ”it doesn’t matter”, then the cat replies :” then it doesn’t matter which way you go”. And another thought: we only think choice matters when it comes to the visible world, but don’t forget you are not a human being having a spiritual experience, you are a spiritual being having a human experience. That means your choices aren’t what’s important, what’s important is what that means to your spirit. Some of our ”’worst” choices are our biggest blessings. Have a big picture look at this and don’t get lost.
Благодаря за имейла. Намирам се на място без достъп до мобилен телефон или интернет и ще мога да отговоря най-рано на 12-ти ноември. Извинявам се за евентуално неудобство.
Thank you for your e-mail. I am currently in a place without access to a mobile phone or internet. I could get back to you on the 12th of November at the soonest. I do apologise for any invonvenience.
Attualmente mi trovo in un posto senza accesso ad un cellulare o internet. Potr? rispondere dal 12 novembre alla prima. Mi scuso per l’
I find #4 the most important for me… Without a plan, without visualisations and meditation, I lose all of my strength to follow any dream. But meditation especially has to become a habit, which is the hard thing, but then it will deffinitely work.
I find that a few minutes a day to focus on what I desire really help ”tune” my brain. It doesn’t need to be very complicated. For someone creative like you I always imagine a visualization board would be an excellent tool.