A client came to my show the other night. She is in an incredibly intensive workout and nutritional program here in the city and she looks amazing. Luminous. Like a light has been rekindled and was glowing something fierce. Of course, I said, “You look amazing! Are you having so much fun?” She looked momentarily incredibly disappointed in herself and said, “I fell off the wagon big time last week. Like big time.” (cue the hardcore self-flagellation). “Of course you did. We all did,” I replied. She looked surprised, “No harm, no foul. Forgive and get back on track.” The funny thing is, I had already written the blog post you are about to read. As usual, my clients and I have a little telepathy going on. My experiences mirror their experiences and that is how we both continue to grow.
So, I think it is safe to say that this last couple of weeks have been bananas. There are still thousands upon thousands that have no heat and hot water here in the tri-state area and we were just hit with another storm that will exacerbate these issues for so many. We also went through an emotionally stressful couple of weeks with the presidential election, and despite the many challenges we faced as New Yorkers, we showed up in droves to exercise our democratic rights and Obama earned another term. Wow, I’m tired from just writing that. On top of this week of craziness, I have been in the midst of opening a show on Theater Row. The most devout techies basically did the set load-in through the hurricane and we had our three day tech directly following. We showed up the next day, ready to go, ready to make this thing happen, unsure of what this hurricane meant for us and for the show we’ve been working on for months.
Confession #1–for the past week, I have basically been living on restaurant food and definitely indulged in some serious sugar (our stage manager brought A LOT of swedish fish) and comfort food to get me through a stressful and emotional time. Confession #2–I have not fit a real work out in in over three weeks. Confession #3–I have been drinking way more than is humanly necessary. Confession #4--I drank so much coffee, my stomach hurt. Confession #5–If you know and read my blog, you already know this–I am far from perfect. My body has actually miraculously carried me through despite my lack of self-care (probably because I took such good care of it before these last couple weeks) and for that I am incredibly grateful. Now, it’s time to get back on track and to make my health a priority.
If I were at a different place in my life, I would have given myself a lot of flack for my choices during the past couple of weeks. I would have analyzed where I went wrong with the Amy’s Bread pastries I brought to rehearsal for my cast-mates and wound up eating half of, beat myself up for having that fourth drink and quietly obsessed about my lack of gym time. This kind of self-punishment, I now realize, is so much worse than just surrendering to circumstance and to my humanity and then promptly forgiving myself. After all, I have come a monumentally long way from where I was three years ago and luckily, perfection is not a pre-requisite for the journey I’m on. Thankfully, I’m at a healthier place in my life now. I can acknowledge the stress of this last week and just ask myself, “how could I have prepared better for this?” or “Why
did I make that choice? What was it really about?” without the self-flagellation and hatred that used to accompany my flawed choices.
Lesson #1— Give yourself permission to fail and forgive yourself for your shortcomings. It is not the exception that counts. It is how you treat your body most of the time. If you nurture your body with incredibly healthy food, say loving things to it like “ASS! you look good today!” give it the rest it needs to serve you, and ask your mind and spirit lots of questions to keep the ball rolling–the exception does not matter. All that matters is that you continue to move forward with curiosity, motivation and self-love. That you ask more of yourself today than you did yesterday. Grace and self-acceptance is what creates sustainability.
Lesson #2— Use healthy choices to ground you. As Tony Horton of P90X would say, “Do your best and forget the rest.” A lot of times, clients will experience a cataclysmic shift during our time together. Life will throw them a life-curve ball (much like this hurricane); a death in the family, a sickness, or a break-up. Many times, they will ask if they can wait to do our work together until after these issues resolve because they don’t have the time or energy to devote to their health. I always encourage them to stick to the path and let their healthy choices ground them. I ask them to pick five things that they can realistically implement based on our work together and urge them to stick to these during the emotionally turbulent time they are experiencing. Oftentimes, they will thank me because this grounding is exactly what they needed during a time when they felt like they were floating and had no control. Real life challenges will always happen at unexpected moments, throwing a wrench in our best laid intentions. The more dedication to our health is habitualized, the better we become at adapting while still maintaining our health and sanity.
This past week, I may have had some slip-ups but I held onto some of my steadfast habits. I made sure I went to at least three yoga classes because I knew I needed them as soul food. Maybe not the best “work out” choice, but they calmed and rejuvenated my buzzing and dissonant mind and heart. I made sure at least one meal a day had a ton of leafy greens. I never once resorted to diet soda but rather drank from my water bottle like a, well, like a person who actually liked water. I laid down and read “Bossypants” on my breaks instead of tending to my “to do” list. I always took my fish oil and vitamins. I cuddled my pup an extra twenty minutes in the morning instead of running to my email and I took Facebook off my iPhone to get the clutter out of my life. I held onto healthy habits that I would not have had three years ago AND I was gentle and nonjudgmental of myself. Huge breakthrough for me.
The more regimented your health becomes, the more you are approaching it from a place of tension and punishment and the less “healthy” you actually become. Think of your health as being fluid and intuitive, with your intentions operating from a sense of ease. After all, the more regimented and punishment ridden your health journey becomes, the more insurmountable it can seem, and the easier it is to fall off of the wagon and resist getting back on. As I have said before, chronic stress is health enemy numero uno and that includes unnecessary emotional stress that you are putting on yourself. You have my health-coach permission to be gentle and loving with yourself, as long as you are taking action and set the intention of moving forward.
So, I would love to here from you….
How could you be forgiving yourself right here and now for the past week?
What are you still holding onto and how can you choose self-love and forgiveness instead?
Can you decide to just let go and ask more of yourself tomorrow than you do today?
Rock On and Be Well,