Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Life Balanced - Introduction to a New Journey

I'm excited to announce that I am beginning a new project as I work through Vanessa Hartman's My Life Balanced 120 Days Lifestyle Change Manual.

Vanessa is a lifestyle coach that focuses on health and goal coaching via phone, video conferencing and email - you may already have begun to get to know her, because after she agreed to let me work through the 120 Days Lifestyle Change Manual for review, she then agreed to join us here at Reviews, Chews & How-Tos as one of our contributors!  She's already shared a few very helpful posts on the subject, with more to come.

The manual provides a way for someone like me to work through lifestyle changes on a daily level in a few different ways - each page includes four sections:

Mind - a word, to be used as a meditational focus or journal writing subject.

Meal - a tip or suggested activity or change having to do with nutrition. 

Move - a suggested activity that gets your body moving.

Mantra - used here in a difference way than I'm used to (mantra as a focus sound for meditation), here it acts as an affirmation of sorts - something that is motivational toward, mostly, attitude adjustments.

Glancing through the book, there are a lot of great tips and suggestions each day, and some that are, admittedly, not going to happen - either because they aim toward a lifestyle change I'm not interested in (I am not a vegetarian and have no desire to be) or that I cannot manage (some specific movement activities involve things I cannot safely do, because of physical disabilities, so those will need to be modified).  But even after I take those conditions into account, it looks like there is plenty I can do or consider with modifications every day.

The biggest advantage I see at this point, before actually starting this journey, is the high emphasis on subtle shifts in mindset along the way - so that what seems very challenging now, may well, after small incremental habit alterations, be doable by the end of the four months I'll be actively working through it.

In the letter sent with the manual, Vanessa says,

"This program has been designed to be what you need it to be.  We can each read it and pick something different that resonates with us.  I encourage you to read it first thing in the morning and set your intention for the day.  If you miss a day, no problem - get back at it.  It's also not about how fast you reach the end, it's about what you learn along the way.  I encourage you to give this a true chance, this program is designed to be life changing and long lasting."

At the beginning of the manual, Vanessa includes a few simple breathing exercises - you can find a few more on her post How to Feel More Calm With Breathing Exercises.

Today's post is just an introduction to the 120 Days process, and I find it helpful before beginning a long endeavor to assess my starting point, my personal intentions, and suspected challenge - not to start with excuses, but to get a realistic feel for what pitfalls I should be prepared for.

Mind - I have been an on and off again personal journaler since I was old enough to hold a pencil, and I'm thrilled to have a platform for daily journaling!  I know from experience that this will be very helpful for me.  It also inserts a challenge, as I already try to journal regularly with a daily Tarot card as inspiration - and I may play with this part a bit by incorporating the two so that I needn't stop a habit I already find beneficial. (I am weird - I like games and puzzles and this sounds like a fun challenge for me.)

Meal - In the area of food, other than the challenge of how to address nutritional suggestions that are at odds with my own nutritional aspirations, I think I am in fairly good shape here - we strive for a primal diet and I have learned the hard way that I pay hard for departures from my intentions to avoid wheat and sugar, so these happen only in light moderation at carefully controlled times. We shop for locally grown organic produce and locally farmed meat and I regard it as a 'win' when a meal involves no canned or boxed items. But I have grown lax lately on making my best possible choices, so this area will be mainly a refresher of what I know mixed in with some new ideas to try - I think the challenges here will also be fun and lead to a renewed motivation to eat in a way that is both nutritionally compatible with my needs and pleasurable.

Move - now this one is not only hard and likely the area that makes me whine a lot, but I also think it's where I'm going to find the hugest help.  I have been dealing with rheumatoid arthritis since a few years before I was officially diagnosed at age 19... 35 years ago!  I have developed strong deformities in my hands, and lost a hip due to bone thinning (a common side effect of many of the medications that allow me to be functional), and due to that there are certain things that are too high risk for dislocating or falling down (which would cause a dislocation) for me to even try. But there are a whole lot of things I can do, and just don't.  I can't say I'm looking forward to this part - Yet. But  I know if I take up the challenge and am open to pushing past intimidation (safely) and basic out-of-shape resistance, it will come easier over time and result in huge health improvements.  Just at an opening glance, I find that labeling it 'movement' rather than 'exercise' helps reduce the instant urge to say "I can't!"

Mantra - these will be helpful, especially in pushing through the movement resistance.  Many have to do with body issues, and I'm happy to say that I've reached an age where I'm mostly over body-hatred (nothing like chronic pain to make you put worries about whether your nose is shaped funny or if your tummy feels more like a pillow than a six pack), but I am still pretty prone to negative self talk about my body not working the way I want it to - so it will be good to work on getting that Inner Critic out of my head where it sabotages any effort to improve what I can, and accept with grace what I can't.

With that all in mind, here's my plan:

I will post here every 3 weeks on my progress and share any victories, insights and difficulties I experienced in that time frame.  I may share a snippet or two of the journaling work, as well as what worked for me and what didn't.  I'm choosing every 3 weeks based on the old chestnut that it takes 3 weeks to change a habit, so that, if needed, I can focus on specific areas for a bit before moving onto another.

I also plan to put into practice a process  that I've learned from getting on RA treatment plans - sometimes, it's best to build up gradually over time rather than attempting many new things all at once.  So, while each day I will deal with as many of the four areas as I am up for, I will only hold myself to one a day for this first 3 weeks, then 2 a day for the next, and so on - with reasonable exemptions for days when an item isn't one of the things that fit my personal goals or ability, as well as days when I'm already packed full of to-dos.

I can do this!

I know me well enough to know I LOVE starting things, pile on a whole lot of intentions and then get overwhelmed and quit the whole thing.  I really want and need to make it to the end of this journey, so I am going to take it slow enough to make the new routine stick.

My long term goals are to fine tune my nutritional habits, establish some workable exercise habits, and to become more mindful about my self-talk, good and bad.  I think this will handily accomplish those things if I stick with it.

I also know that this first three weeks is going to see me pouting, moaning, dramatically proclaiming that I can't do this... and that by the time I report back in three weeks, I'll be mostly over it.  It's what I do - the important part is to just acknowledge that and not let it be a reason to stop.

So, I won't actually be reviewing the 120 Days Lifestyle Change until the end, because for this sort of thing, struggle in the moment is NOT a negative thing - it's just a part of the process. Furthermore, I acknowledge now that I am aware that there will be times when I strongly think "this isn't working for me!" but that I will likely discover by the end it totally did what it was supposed to.

It doesn't hurt at all that I have Vanessa to help as needed to keep me on track in spite of my less than graceful attitude to new changes, which, when you think about it, is what a Lifecoach does!

Overall, intimidation aside, I am very much looking forward to this and I hope you'll enjoy the updates on what happens!


My Life Balanced
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  1. Looking forward to your posts! I just wanna make sure you and everyone know the meal section is not aimed towards being a vegetarian. Just healthful tips for a nutrient dense diet in whatever form is right for each person's body (with the aim being towards learning to listen for the cues your body is giving you towards what to eat).

    1. Thanks for pointing out that clarification - from what I've seen, a good 90% will be relevant and most of the remainder is easily modified to address specific individual goals, and tackling all of it from a very holistic multi-faceted place. Very impressed!

  2. This seems like a great project. I love how you are waiting until the end to review. Big changes can be very hard to do and there can be many missteps along the way, but not beating yourself up and just moving on is the key to making any kind of change.

    1. Such a great point Stacey!! It's not about the reaching the destination and more about what you learn along the journey.

  3. Because of my surgery, I had to postpone it, but I am really looking forward start working with a life coach.
    I'll make sure I'll follow your updates.

    1. Hi Debbie, I have a background in life coaching so I put lots of the tips in this program :)

  4. This sounds like a really encouraging, practical book! Good luck on your journey to better health!! Pinned - thank you for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul hop!

  5. You are so motivating! I can't tell you how many projects I've started then drop because I get overwhelmed. Look forward to reading about your journey. Thanks for linking up and sharing with us at Funtastic Friday. Please join us again this week.

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