Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Minimalism Cheat Sheet: Let's Not Overcomplicate Things

The minimalist lifestyle has really boomed over the past years.

With Time naming Zenhabits the best blog of the year, and countless search results under the term "minimalist blog", the minimalist lifestyle has really gotten a hold of the general internet-centric public.

Minimalism's appeal is direct and straightforward. Wanting less and appreciating more makes your life more abundant. You have less needs and desires to fulfill, and you have more freedom because you do not invest your time and resources into too many endeavors. You have more space to be happy.

Minimalism's success is mainly due to mindfulness- being conscious of why you are doing what you are doing.Without mindfulness, minimalism is just a bible you consult without truly knowing why and without truly reaping the benefits.

There are so many minimalism blogs and so many subscribers. Really, though. Do you need to constantly read up on something so simple as being mindful? Do you constantly need to read an article about how to integrate minimalism into your workflow? How to organize your sock drawer in accordance to the balance of zen?

Regardless of the situation, exercising mindfulness is extremely easy. Once you learn how to do it, you just do it. The only thing that makes you better at doing it is doing it more, not reading blogpost after blogpost on the subject.

Stop. What: are you doing/about to do/did you just do? Okay.
Why did you do it?

Gratification, validation, approval? Because you can? Because you had to? Because you were high, drunk, feeling fresh off a marathon of ego-stroking?

Why are you going to eat that? Did the magazines tell you it would make you skinny? You don't want to shatter your mother's illusions about her culinary skills? You actually like it because you just do?

Why are you going on that vacation? Why did you buy those jeans? Why are you not sleeping? Why are you sleeping so much? Why did you take that picture of yourself? Why did you spend five minutes taking a picture of your Inn and Out Burgers, for God's sake?

It all boils down to honestly evaluating how you spend and invest your time and energy.

Are the benefits enticing enough for you to act? If not, carry on with your inner peace and what not. 
If you've got a good momentum, stop for the opportunities that can bring your momentum to a higher level towards a carefully chosen goal. If not, just pass on the opportunity and carry on. 

Remember, minimalism is a catch-all term. I could throw away all of the stuff I don't find essential, but if I still possess the inner need to consume more, that means I need to re-evaluate my values and understand why they aren't up to par with my reality. No amount of organizing or de-cluttering or reading is going to magically  take you through the process of understand without you being there. Mindfulness is being there, and being there fully.

There is here. 

Carry on. And ditch the overly used lifestyle label. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to Lose Weight and Get the Body You Want the Easy Way Part 1

Losing weight can be a very frustrating endeavor, but with the right attitude, you can lose weight whilst maintaining a positive, accepting attitude. Using a few simple strategies, you can lose weight without ever obsessing about it. Before such strategies are covered, we must explore a few perspective shifts that will allow for an easier transition between suffering to lose weight and allowing yourself to shed off those pounds.

Stop Setting Yourself Up for Disappointment

Upon deciding to lose weight, many people are hit with a huge wave of enthusiasm and motivation. They feel extremely dedicated to their weight loss goals and they adopt an extreme shift in their lifestyle.
They spend an hour and a half at the gym and follow a very strict eating plan....for a few days.
Once the initial wave of motivation dies down, many people find that they can not sustain such an extreme lifestyle, especially one that promotes habits and routines that seem alien to their previous lifestyles. This often leads them to quit and the yo-yo dieting begins.

This extreme shift causes tension and stress. In order to maintain a sustainable weight loss plan, you must slowly acclimate yourself to the process. Stopping bad habits cold turkey and adopting an intense workout plan is often too much for one to handle all at once.

The truth is disappointing to most who want a quick fix, but the truth is that sustainable weight loss is a slow and steady race.

No secret foods or secret workout plans are going to make you lost ten pounds in the next 3 days. Even if this highly unlikely method happened to work, it would be highly unhealthy and easily reversible.

Accept Yourself Right Now

You have a weight loss goal in mind. You know what you want your body to look like. You are tired of looking and feeling and performing the way you currently do.

In order to adopt a sustainable healthy lifestyle, you must accept yourself as you are right now.
Accept the fact that you are not the shape you want to be, but that you are the shape you are.
Acceptance gives you power and truth. Once you accept yourself, you gain a huge advantage- self honesty.

Skipping out of self acceptance leads to self delusion. Be honest with yourself. Take your measurements and take a photograph, record your personal bests at certain exercises and accept that this is where you are right now.

This is a bitter pill to swallow for most, but once you really, honestly take a good look at your current situation, you gain much more insight and perspective regarding your goals and what steps you need to take to reach them.

This applies to obvious observations, like accepting that you have a flat gluteus maximus and deciding that you would like to build one. This also applies to more subtle factors, like accepting that you are afraid of lifting weights because you are afraid of looking bulky because you want to look like a supermodel because the media has lead you to believe that in order to be attractive and desirable, you must be a certain size.

Try to understand why you want the body you want, and why you want to reach the goals you set up for yourself.

If your goals are driven by the desire to please others and gain the approval of others, you will be sorely disappointed. Find out what drives you and what pleases you, and you will find a source of inner motivation and self responsibility that previously seemed out of reach.

Accept That You Can't Burn Off A Bad Diet

You can't out-train a bad diet. If you eat crappy food, you are highly unlikely to burn it off.
Don't use exercise as a means to burn off calories- learn to be satisfied with less food and you won't need to work out as much.

Eat your vegetables. Many people delude themselves into thinking they can get away with eating crappy food if they don't meet their caloric requirements. This is not healthy and not sustainable. Your body needs essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids found in natural, whole foods like fruits and vegetables.
Don't be lazy- eat your produce, fill up your plate with lots of produce, and don't delude yourself into thinking you can be healthy without eating produce.

Protein shakes and bars are not a real meal. Neither are rice cakes or whole wheat toast with peanut butter. All of these health foods are healthy alternatives in comparison to fruits and vegetables. 
Eat your fruits and vegetables! There is no magic manufactured miracle health food that can replace the benefits of wholesome produce.

Eat reasonably and use common sense.
Many diets advocate unreasonable portions of food consumption. Don't feel pressured by the diet claims that insist you eat an extremely high amount of protein per day, or extremely low amount of carbohydrates or fats per day. You don't need to eat every two hours. You don't need to consume a certain amount of protein at various parts of the day to avoid muscle loss.

Unless you are a bodybuilder or a professional athlete, you do not need to inconvenience yourself with such extreme strategies. Eat reasonably. Eat small portions and eat good food. Allow your self the occasional treat and allow yourself the time and energy to enjoy a meal. Enjoy eating.

Stop Spending So Much Money
Stop buying the diet pills. Stop buying the countless supplements. Stop buying the "healthy substitute" food products that reek of ingredients produced exclusively in factories. Stop buying the spot reduction gym equipment. Stop buying the overly redundant magazine.

You can spend your money on items that claim to speed up your metabolism and guarantee a five pound lighter version of yourself in three days, or you can spend money on things you actually enjoy.

Weight loss is not a hobby. Spend your money on a legitimate past time.

Be Realistic About Your Goals
Do you hate working out? Or do you hate certain types of work outs?
If you want to look like Jessica Biel but would rather walk to the nearest elevator instead of walking up the stalled set of escalators, then you are barking up the wrong tree.

Transformations are possible, like Chris Hemsworth immense muscle gain for his role as Thor. But are you willing to commit to a strenuous lifestyle that revolves around eating and working out?

Ease Is A Relative Term
What is easy for you may not be easy for another. What matters most if finding what works for you, and what resonates with you.
Some people thrive on a challenge and love outdoing themselves and beating their personal bests. That attitude and drive comes to them with ease- they feel as if they are not fully themselves if they are not meeting their challenges. Intensity is fun for them.

Other people fare best with more moderate and gentle approaches. These people like to be healthy but hate going to the gym. Leniency works best with them, and these people really do not hold aspirations towards looking like the next cover model of Sports Illustrated.

Find out what you value more. What do you naturally feel compelled to do, and what are you naturally driven by?

Regardless of your values, you will need to step out of your usual comfort zone, but the leap won't be too drastic. The leap will have a steady foundation and you will be able to sustain your progress and lifestyle. This new lifestyle will come with ease if you let go of your resistance to what you really want to do.

Friday, November 2, 2012

How to Stop Being Suspicious In a Relationship

Being in a serious relationship leads to developing a very close bond with your partner. No matter how tight, close, and totally open with each other you'd like to be, there will always be a need for some extent of distance between you and your partner. This space is scary for some people.

When some people give their partner space, or at least their idea of what space should be, they start to feel negative feelings and regret. They feel paranoid, at a loss of control, and suspicious. These negative emotions actually create distance, but of a very different kind. This distance encourages the lack of empathy, love, and kindness that genuine closeness facilitates. In order to create the right kind of distance and maintain true closeness, partners must be able to give each other space.

What Is Space?
Different partners require different levels of space and freedom. This freedom does not mean that your partner will cheat on you or do anything to threaten your relationship. Instead, this freedom is intended to allow your partner to invest their time in prospects besides your direct relationships.

Your partner needs their own hobbies, friends, interests, and alone time because they need to take care of themselves in order to be able to function in a relationship.
You also need to take care of yourself and find different people and projects to invest your own time and attention into- do not let your relationship take over your life.
Although your relationship may be the best thing in your life, it can not be the only thing you live for. Learn to enjoy other people's company, your own company, and the company of a few hobbies and interests that make you feel happy.

The Negative Feelings
Usually, when a partner is hesitant to give their partner space, it is due to feelings of suspicion and paranoia. These all arise from a lack of trust between partners and a lack of security with the self.
If you think your partner will cheat on you, you either are willingly in a relationship with someone who is a proven cheater and/or shows interest in acts of infidelity or you just don't trust the person.
Telling the difference is key. If your partner expresses disinterest in you and interest in other people, ask your partner about it. Tell your partner you feel neglected and share your feelings. Listen to your partner's response. If your partner does not care, then stop choosing to be in that relationship.

If you think your partner is going to cheat or do something stupid while you two are apart, examine your distrust. Does your partner participate in activities that you thoroughly disapprove of? Does your partner spend time with people you really don't like?
Why do you disapprove of your partner's friends and hobbies?

Do you disapprove because those friends and hobbies are dangerous and harmful, or do you disapprove because you are jealous that your partner is giving his or her time and attention to people and acitivities other than you?

If you disapprove because those friends and hobbies are dangerous or a bad influence, you should communicate those worries to your partner and listen to their response. If your partner does not see the harm and continues to do the same things and spend time with the same people, you can either choose to stay and compromise or you can choose to leave and rid yourself of the stress. Decide whether most of that stress comes from a place of insecurity and jealousy, or of an actual place of disharmony. If you really feel like your partner is engaging his time in what will lead to a negative, destructive path, you do not have to stay. You may tell him that you apprehend a negative future, but it is ultimately your choice whether you want to stay and see it through the hardships or if you want to leave and be done with issues you do not have to deal with.

If you suspect your partner of cheating or on the path to cheating, evaluate your comfort level regarding the amount of time your partner spends with people you consider "competition." If you honestly feel like you have to fight and compete to keep your partner's attention, you are probably in the wrong relationship and/or suffering from deep personal insecurities. Explore the possibility of deep insecurities and work through them with your partner. If your partner acts in a way that fulfills enough of the mutual understanding and nurturing you need in a relationship, then you two can probably work through it. If you consistently feel neglected in those aspects of your relationship, remember that you are choosing to stay. Expecting things to change when they have consistently stayed the same regardless of your efforts will only disappoint you.

Try not to complicate the reality of your situation.
If your partner respects you and makes an effort to make you feel more comfortable, your partner is compromising and giving extra attention and consideration for the sake of your relationship. Try to match that level of attention and consideration by looking within yourself to remove self-made insecurities and blockages. The more of these inner conflicts you resolve, the more love and attention you can give to yourself and your partner.

If you are still unhappy and stressed out despite increased communication and compromise between you and your partner with the addition of thoughtful introspection and honest self evaluation,  learn to accept the possibility that the relationship might not be the best for you. Do not expect the relationship or your partner to change and bend to your will. If you are truly unhappy, you always have the choice to end the relationship and spend more of your time and effort on loving yourself and finding out what you want.

The more you love yourself and the more deeply and often you love and appreciate what makes you happy, the better you will find and attract a relationship that only adds to that joy.