As I read a stack of summaries from participants who just completed a 12-week "Live on Purpose"
goal setting class that I teach, one statement really jumped out at me. Fatima was so proud of
herself, and rightly so, for moving from a couch potato in week one to running and walking 5 miles
several days a week by week 12. What an energizing accomplishment that had her exclaim, "I feel
so much stronger and happier!" Great job!
But then came the show-stopper for me. See if you recognize yourself in this comment. She said, "I eat healthy most days, but once I start eating junk I CANNOT STOP!!!" I cannot stop.
You know the drill. We do so well...and then a trigger hits.Maybe it is a stressful family or work situation, or we get cranky low onsleep, or our hormones go wild or we just think, "Hey, I deserve this!" Whatever the case, you know thenext step...we get lost in ice cream, chips, wine, cookie dough, peeps...youname it! How self-defeating.
But there is hope! Fatima's "I CANNOT STOP" flashed me back to a comment in the book The Meaning of Life by Victor Frankl that I read as a young teen. Victor observed as a starving Jewish prisoner in the horrors of the concentration camps that some people, even though they were literally starving to death, gave part of the only food they would get for the day, a piece of moldy bread, to those who needed it more. Please reread that.
Now let's contrast that to our level of stress and our follow-up action of stuffing ourselves with junk and screaming, "I CANNOT STOP!!!" You know what, we can stop. Let's get a grip.Victor Frankl shows us that even in the most stressful of situations, we do have choices.
But as a recent cookie dough overload taught me, the pull of food (or drink or whatever your vice) is very powerful. Lost in that moment, I did not think I could stop or even want to . So what do you do? May I suggest three quick options:
1. Run! Get up and get away from the temptation. (Better yet, don't buy it in the first place.) Leave the room like Joseph in the Old Testament when a married woman was throwing herself on him. He ran. Temptation is so powerful...get away from it!
2. Face it.Remember Victor Frankl's observations and know you do have the power of choice in the moment. Or like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings when his worst fear came to attack him. He stopped running, faced it and yelled out, "Go back to the shadows. "YOU SHALL NOTPASS." If he can take on a monster and win,we can surely take on a potato chip.
3. Call for help.Phone a friend, go for a walk. Do something else. Cry out to God! Jesus came to break the power of sin and death. He cares for us. He doesn't want us lost in the bondage of out of control eating or drinking dragging us down. He surely will be there for us to win these battles when we surrender to Him and give Him glory.
"I CANNOT STOP!" Not true! You can. We all have temptations and choices each day not only in our eating and drinking butin all areas of our lives. What would you at your best do? What choice glorifies God?Here's to victory, superstar! Choose well.
Four weeks before Christmas, I thought it would be fun to learn how to play Christmas Canon in D on my violin by the zesty Tran Siberian Orchestra.
One problem: my career as a violinist from 4th to 7th grade consisted of random seven minute practice sessions, never understanding sharps and flats and earning the orchestras second last chair of the second section. Thank goodness for Ellen.
Flash forward 35 years. Playing Christmas Canon in D can't be too much harder than Mary had a Little Lamb can it?
So I went on You Tube and watched the Tran Siberian Orchestra play the song. I downloaded the sheet music and put Canon in D on my ipod so I would have a guide to play along to. I dusted off my violin, cracked my knuckles, pressed play and off I went!
That's when disaster hit. It was too hard! I sounded awful. I was so lost and didn't have any idea what I was doing. My beta fish Louise started getting very agitated in her bowl and my husband Tim suddenly bolted out the door for an unexpected football meeting. I couldn't even stand myself! Soon the music was off, the bad violin was back in its case and eating a pile of M&M's was starting to sound like a great idea.
How about You?
I know you can relate. You want to be in better shape and lose some weight. How hard can it be? The people on the infomercials are all smiling. Even their sweat looks pretty dripping down their sculpted abs. I bet they don't even stink! So you buy the stuff or join the gym, put your best smiley on, press play and...and...THIS IS REALLY HARD! You are lost. You are not having fun. You look at your watch and the warm-up isn't even over yet. Where are those M&Ms again?
Many of us think of an excuse and quit at this point. Why bother? We bury our dreams, say to ourselves that it wasn't really that important anyway and move on...but at what cost?
Hold on. There is another way. Few take this path. It is hard and full of obstacles....but those who do and stick it out usually shout, "That was so worth it!"
My path was to hire Steve. He is a violin master. We chatted and got to know one another. Then he had me play Christmas Canon in D for a few minutes. Soon Steve's eyes were bulging like Louise in her fish bowl when she is hungry. He yelled out "STOP!"
Then Steve gave it to me straight. "Jane," he said, "You are in great shape and I am not. You know what it takes to get in great shape and stay in shape and you practice that day in and day out even when you don't feel like it. I do not and it is obvious. Look at me!"
"But I am a great violinist and you are not. I know what it takes to get in great violin shape and do that day in and day out. You do not. You think you can just skip all the steps that lead to being great and jump right in and play Christmas Canon in D. Well, you can not. So I am going to tell and show you the drills you need to do. They are not exciting. But they are necessary. After your drills are done, then you can advance to playing these first 10 notes of Canon in D over and over at least 20 times a day before moving on to the next 10 notes."
Steve went on to say, "You will listen to me and you might do that for a few days and you will start to get good. Then you will get full of yourself, skip the drills and the necessary hard work, move right into playing the song and only stay average. Then you will realize what you have done, eat some humble pie, and come back to me and be ready to do it right."
And that is just what happened!
Each one of us can dream all we want about being in great shape or a having a great marriage or friends or a growing relationship with God that transforms us to the person we were meant to be. But that doesn't just happen because we want it to. Great anything takes hard work and persistence over time.
Repeat 1000 times: Hard work pays off...Hard work pays off! It takes the daily drills, over and over and over... like putting the phone down and greeting your spouse or child when they come home day after day after day.
It takes getting out of our comfort zone and finding people who are good at what we want to be good at and humbly letting them teach us.
It means turning off the internet or putting the wine glass down and getting a workout in even though the couch calls...day after day after day.
It means getting up early everyday to read the Bible and leaving your excuses in bed.
Yesterday, with a HUGE smile on my face, I memorized and played Christmas Canon in D for my 92-year old parents. They loved it! I loved it! Even Louise the fish loved it! And I know my instructor Steve would love it because I did what it takes to earn it. Hard work indeed pays off.
What are you willing to work hard and pay the price for? Is it worth the thrills of victory and the agonies of defeat that are bound to happen along the way? If so, as Green Bay Packer MVP Aaron Rodgers would say, "Let's get after it!" I know when it is all said and done you will shout, "That was so worth it!"
Live on Purpose
Sickof stuck? Check out Jane's books "Just Get it Over With" and "Hall of Fame Habits" at www.janebirr.com
“That’s it, I Quit!”
I teach a goal-setting course based on my book, "Just Get it Over With-A 12-Week Jumpstart to Great Health." We all pick a goal that matters to us and then go about achieving it through the ups and downs of life. Recently we were in week 7. As we went around the room, I asked "How's it going? Are you rising toward your goal or stuck in a plateau or falling?"
As is typical, my students and I were in various stages. Some of us were surging and riding high from focusing on our goal and making time for it and loving the energy, confidence and results that are the reward from giving an effort we were proud of. I love times like that, don't you?
Others were stuck. They weren't going forward but weren't going backward either. Kind of like when the Green Bay Packers run several sets of plays and don't gain any yards. It is frustrating for the team and boring for the fans to watch. Going to get a hotdog seems like the best idea to relieve the stress of this stalemate stage. But for players and coaches, that is not an option. Quitting is an option but a bad option. Another bad option is running the same set of plays over and over that are not working. Thank goodness for time-outs and half-times to regroup, look at where you are and where you want to be and form some new strategies. If Plan A and Plan B is not working, how can we learn and adjust and form Plan C?
How about you? Think of your goal. Are you running the same plays over and over again and its not working? Like wanting to lose weight and making great choices all day or all week and then blowing it at night or on the weekend? Or maybe you are stuck in the same patterns of draining arguments with your spouse or kids. Do you want to keep running those same plays?
Yes, it easier to stay with habits we know, but as they say, "No guts, no glory." Punting or getting sacked over and over yields a big L. W's are much more memorable. How about researching and risking some new habits? What is worth fighting for to you? Most people say family and friends. Some say faith or health or a career. What is important to you? Do you want to continue to stay distracted in this busy, got a million things to do world and lose or do you want to zero in, live on purpose and risk, change, grow and win for some goals that matter?
We are either rising, stuck in a plateau or going down. In our week 7 class, a student said she had crashed. Nothing was working. So I asked her, "What is your goal?" She stumbled and fumbled and finally said, "Well, I don't know. I forgot." Everyone immediately looked up, turned their head and stared at her. The obvious reply was, "Well, how can reach your goal if you don't even know what it is?"
Unfortunately, that happens a lot. Is it happening to you right now? We can set a goal and get all fired up about this new picture for our lives. Maybe a big health or relationship challenge wakes us up and we say, "Now is my time! I am so going to really change!" But it is not a part of us yet. We have all of our old habits that like a weed, choke out our new goal unless with great intention and purpose we clearly define it, focus on it, track it, and then work for it with daily persistence and effort and get ourselves surrounded by healthy people doing the same.
Maybe we focus for a little bit on our worthwhile goal such as a daily two-mile walk or reading a chapter of the Bible or a weekly connection time with our spouse. We mean well...but then life hits with stress triggers like crying kids, whining co-workers, relationship lows, cold days, a hole in our favorite jeans, nagging injuries, not feeling like it or just wanting to watch TV. We can forget our goal and with it why it mattered to us and the impact it has on our loved ones in the first place and take the slow spiral back to where we started. "My goal? I forgot it." How sad.
I could go off now and list a million strategies on how to overcome this. But honestly, do we ever really listen when people tell us what to do? We may listen, but then right after that all our excuses why we can't puke out. You know what to do. So do I. Who are you? Why are you here? What do you love to do? Are you going to fight for your goal today or not? Some do, most don't. Will you?
Live on Purpose
Great News! Jane's book, "Hall of Fame Habits-Staying Fit Through the Generations" is now an e-book on Amazon and Nook!
My mind feels all aflutter. It is bouncy-like and trying to connect things that struck me in 2013. Like jumping on a trampoline and trying to grab all the balls in the air and holding them together as one. So please hang with me and let me work through some thoughts that have been twirling in my head. Maybe after we both ponder we can help each other move forward.
Throughout this year of reading and learning and listening and praying these phrases popped to the top:
"What rules my heart, rules my behavior."
"Life is about God and not about me. Put God first."
"I really like M & M's and Diet Coke...but not together."
"Am I self-centered or God-centered?"
and the big one of:
" Why am I so interested in myself?"
With these phrases as the filter in my head, I starting processing what I read in the latest of my health and fitness and coaching articles. One thing I noticed was a dis-ease and a "something is not right with this" feeling.
A case in point, I recently read the latest "holiday survival" articles and how to make this the best holiday ever. Typical things come up like take a hot bath, meditate, pick who you really want to see, focus on being your authentic self, don't eat so much, go swim with dolphins, buy what you really want, etc.
But through my new filter a red light kept going off that flashed "DOES NOT COMPUTE! DOES NOT COMPUTE. DOES NOT COMPUTE!"
There seems to be so much self in the picture. Me, me, me. What do I want? So after I read all this and ate some M&M's, I thought of my phrases of 2013 again.
"What rules my heart, rules my behavior."
"Life is about God and not about me. Put God first."
"Am I self-centered or God-centered?"
" Why am I so interested in myself?"
So if the whole reason for the holiday is Jesus' birthday and focusing on him and his incredible gift to us, how would taking a bath, doing yoga and buying a sweater help?
Is it thy will be done or my will be done?
I come from a big birthday family. We make a big to-do and really celebrate the birthday girl or boy no matter how old they are. It is festive and fun. We buy gifts and write poems and make the person feel real special for their presence in our lives.
Susie is next. It would seem weird to me if instead of focusing on Susie I made it about what I needed (a massage) and wanted (a musky guide trip). Or if I wrote a poem and made it all about me instead of Susie.
"Why am I so interested in myself?"
Contrast this to when I went cross country skiing last week. It is early in the season and there is a part of the trail which is very challenging. Usually my heart is beating out of my chest so loud I can hear it and I agonize to make it up the hills.
But not this time...at least not what I was aware of.
This time my thoughts were laser focused on God. The trail is near a zoo and I heard a lion roar in the distance. Very cool. So then my thoughts focused on Jesus who is described in the Bible as the Lion of Judah. My mom loves lions and loves Jesus so I was thinking how I could paint her this awesome Jesus lion.
I was thinking, thinking, thinking of this. Time passed and all of a sudden I asked myself, "Where am I?" I looked around as I skied and could not rationalize where I was. It looked like I was far along the course but my mind wouldn't believe it because I didn't remember the agony of the hills. Could it be that when I focused on God and not myself that I got up the hills without even noticing? Strangely it was true! How fascinating!
So my grand conclusion from 2013 was that I think I think about myself too much and don't want to anymore. I desire from God an awareness and a grace to help me glorify and worship Him instead of glorifying and worshipping myself. 2013 helped me hear the inner Big Baby scream of I want! I want! I want!
"I want my way."
"I want control."
"I want approval."
"I want God to do my will."
"I want this part of God but not that part...which means that I am deciding who God is...so oh no...at the root I want to be God!"
This awareness humbled me and make me sick at myself. Me. Me. Me.
Help me, Lord. You are God and I am not. You love me so much and so know and want what is best for me. May the desires of my heart line up to yours. Let my focus be on you. More of you and less of me. Lion of Judah ...roar!
My brother John gave me a Porsche. Yes, you read that right. Who does such a thing? My brother John did and I never grow tired of telling the story. But please read through to the end because he recently gave me a gift that was even better than a Porsche! Is that possible? Yes…and you and I can give the gift as well. Hang with me as I explain.
First, the Porsche. I am John’s baby sister. Although I am soon to be 50 there was a time when I was 6 and John was 16 with the keys to my mom’s hot red Mustang. He would delight me to no end zipping me around corners and flooring it at green lights. I would yell out, “Faster, Big Brother, faster!” Well, as you might guess, the Mustang did not last too long. So I would frequently say to John, “Maybe someday you will get me a sports car, Big Brother.”
Fast forward 40 years. John was in town and we were out for breakfast. As we neared our last bites, John’s son Jake leaned over and said to me, “Dad got you a birthday present.” I was so excited! He got me a $50 gift certificate to Dicks Sporting goods the previous year and I bought the favorite Nike pants of my whole life. So here I was lost in la la land envisioning a cool Nike jacket when John tosses a set of keys across the table and said, “Here’s your birthday present.” OH….MY….GOODNESS. He gave me the keys to his Porsche! I leapt high into the air and screamed out, “YOU ARE THE BEST BIG BROTHER IN THE WHOLE WORLD!” All around us people were in shock. Eggs were practically falling out of everyone’s open jaws. Who could believe such a thing?
What joy that car gives me. I just smile my head off driving it because it is so fun and fast but mostly because it was given to me by my Big Brother who I love with all my heart. Ahhh, to be loved so lavishly!
The Rest of the Story
But wait, there is more. Are you ready? John recently gave me something better than the Porsche. What can be better than a Porsche you may ask? Let me tell you.
I was cutting my folks grass last summer and my friend Connie who I grew up with stopped by. She also is the youngest of eight and her brother Dick was her Big Brother. She told me the story of Dick getting cancer and how she quit her job to take care of him and how sad she is now that he is gone. My heart just broke for her. We cried as I held her. Can you relate?
I wandered home, all the while thinking of how much I loved my Big Brother John and how lost I would be without him. So I emailed John and told him what had just happened. Then my fingers decided to type the words that his gut was too big and I would be so sad and mad if he died of a heart attack or stroke or if he didn’t die and I had to take care of him and we couldn’t do anything fun anymore and I had to change his diapers or some other awful thing like that. Then my fingers kept typing how his best friend also had too big of a gut and he was going to die too. Oh my.
Lastly, I mentioned that John’s 60th birthday was 6 months away and challenged him to lose 1 pound per week for 25 total and arrive at his birthday party at 210 pounds and to think of a fun contest so his friend would join him. I recommended that he check out www.myfitnesspal.com for assistance and to track his journey because if you don’t track it, it doesn’t get done. With my heart racing, I pressed “send.”
Now please hear me. This article is NOT about telling your loved ones they are fat. That is very dangerous as you well know. But what happened next will hopefully inspire you and me to make our own changes and give a gift that is greater than a Porsche. How? Let’s finish the story.
To my great relief, John accepted the challenge and got his friend involved. He added one twist than if he met his goal I would have to wear diapers at his birthday party and if he didn’t, he would. Now that is interesting! Up and down the journey went as any challenge worth fighting for goes. There were times of great joy and success and times of John wanting to quit and everything in between. You know the story.
Then the big day was here. Our family gathered in Madison and John was late for his 60th birthday party. Little did we know that John was at the gym swimming lap after lap, running to the scale and back to the pool until he could see the number 210 and take a picture of it. He did it! All of his hard work for six months paid off! When John walked in, I couldn’t believe it. I never saw him looking so fit, trim and healthy. He threw a pack of diapers at me and said, “Here, put these on. I won!” HA!
It is so hard to change habits, isn’t it? But John loved me so much that he did that for me. That overwhelms me.
So please think about this today. What is important to you? Who are you so important to that they would be just heartbroken by your loss of health or life? Let’s not go on a telling people they are too fat or smoke or drink too much or whatever campaign. But let’s each look at our own lives and see what we can change for those we love. Would that be a hard thing to do? Of course! Just ask John, who now, by the way, is striving for 200. But the real question is ‘Is it worth it?” With tears in my eyes thinking of having my big brother for years to come, the answer is a resounding YES!
Live on Purpose
Contact Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help
setting and reaching a goal.