Everything Is a Gift – Even the Pimple on My Chin

I hate it when people ask me, “What are you grateful for?”  Not because I’m not grateful for anything, but because there truly are so many things – yes, including the pimple on my chin.  (More on that crazy statement later.)

It’s hard to pinpoint everything that I’m grateful for.  I feel like if I limit myself to one list that fits on a piece of paper (or on a blog post of a reasonable length) I’m not hitting on everything that’s worthy of being called out.

Peruse some of the other blogs out there that were posted today and over the past few days, and you’ll find many a “What I’m Grateful For” posts, most of which list “my family, my friends, my home, my health, etc.”

I by no means discredit any of these things because they are definitely some of the most important things in life.  But there are two issues I have with these types of list.

Firstly, some people call out only those things that they view as being great because they compare them to things that they view as not-so-great.

For example, one of my friends hates her job.  You probably won’t find “I’m thankful for my job” on her list. 

But if she were to really step back and look at her situation, she’d realize that she should be thankful for her job 1) because she has one, 2) because she has actually met some interesting people there, and 3) because the situation she is in has been the trigger for her to start re-evaluating her career so she can finally figure out what she truly enjoys.

There is always something to be grateful for in any situation.  Every adversity or failure carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Secondly, some people overlook some of the simple, yet quite significant things in life.

Life is a series of events.  Some events seem more significant than others, but they’re all events that shape you into who you are.  I’m a true believer that we’re all connected and that everything is a gift.  I believe that everything and everyone we encounter touches our lives whether we like it or not, and we in turn touch other lives whether we like it or not.

The beautiful sunrise on the way to work, although at face value might seem insignificant and irrelevant, might put me in a better mood, and so when I get to work I smile at the stranger passing in the hall, which makes his day a little brighter, so he treats his co-worker amicably, so she in turn does her job better that day which allows her company to service their customers better, so their customers are in a better mood and treat their spouses better, and so on and so forth.

You see, it all matters.  Everything is a gift.

This is why I sometimes feel overwhelmed when people ask me what I’m grateful for.  There is so much. 

But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, and to jump on the “What are you grateful for?” blogging bandwagon, I’ll attempt to list the first five that pop into my head, in no particular order.  I’ll group together the obvious ones in #1.

  1. I’m thankful for a) my husband for supporting me and all my strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, b) my family and friends for being there and being themselves, c) my health because it allows me to be me and pursue my dreams, d) my job for for allowing me to grow as a person and expand my skills and comfort zone, e) my home for sheltering me and my husband and for being a place of sanctuary.
  2. I’m thankful for my car because it reminds me that I am blessed with financial security and abundance.  I’m thankful that I have the choice to ride in a car, take the bus, or walk.  I’m also thankful for the seat warmers because my butt likes to be toasty warm in the morning.
  3. I’m thankful for the huge pimple that is currently on my chin.  It has reminded me to drink more water which will be good for my overall health, to take my fish oils which will help with my hair, skin, heart, and brain health, and to start eating more cleanly again.  This pimple will help me stay healthy!
  4. I’m thankful for my crazy dog, who makes me smile every single day. 
  5. I’m thankful for the argument I had with my husband last weekend when I asked him to turn the car around because I forgot something at home.  It helped us both to learn to be more patient with each other and to think before reacting and lashing out at each other.  And even though it will more than likely happen again, it might help us down the road when the argument isn’t quite as petty.
  6. I’m thankful for each of you, who allow me to do what I love – write about stuff I care about and that I think might be helpful for others – who actually listen to what I have to say, and who allow me to share a piece of myself with you.  You’ve truly been a part of my growth and happiness these past couple of months.  I only hope that I’ve impacted you in even a minute way.

Okay, I lied.  I know that was 6 and not 5.  I just couldn’t stop at 5!  There are so many more, but I would have to make this a book if I listed them all.

As do many of the other blogs, I too challenge you to write down what you’re thankful for.  You might be surprised how many you can come up with if you really let down your guard and open yourself up to the possibility that everything is in some way a blessing.

Here’s to you and yours this Thanksgiving.  May we all be truly grateful!

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Breaking Free

In my last post, I revealed that before I started working out regularly, I went through seven years of trying and failing. A vicious cycle that got me zero results and got me pretty down on myself. I was finally able to break free from that cycle, or the “thermostat”, about ten months ago. So how did I break free?

Before I get into that, I have to throw in a little disclaimer: I am not a therapist. I am not a personal trainer. I’m merely a person who’s also struggled with having the discipline and motivation to work towards her fitness goals. I can only share with you what I know – what worked for me. Everyone is wired differently. Everyone has a different background, different lifestyle, different situation in life, etc. Take what you need from what I say, make it work for you, or just leave all of it.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, here goes.

The turning point came for me one night over dinner. My husband was telling me about his FitCamp program. It’s a 12-week program that includes group personal training classes, a nutrition program, before and after photos, progress tracking, etc. To qualify for the program, you have to go through an interview so they can get a feel for what your goals are and why you want to transform your life.

That got me thinking. What are my motivators? Why have I been trying to go to the gym for the past seven years? On a superficial level, it was always just to “look good.” I never really took the time to dig deep and figure out the real “whys.”

So after some soul-searching, I realized that it wasn’t about “looking good.” It was about more than that. Firstly, I didn’t just want to “look good.” I actually wanted to be the type of person who is healthy and fit. In other words, I wanted that feeling of achievement knowing that I reached the goal I’d been striving towards for seven years. I wanted to know that I grew as a person and was therefore able to get there and uphold a way of life I’ve always wanted to. Secondly, I’ve always wanted to help my husband grow his business. How could I represent his company in any way without “walking the walk”? And lastly, I wanted to be an example to my future children. How could I teach them to live healthy lifestyles if I’m not living one myself?

These were the true “whys”. Only after I identified them did I finally have a deep, emotional drive to achieve my health and fitness goals.

I met with my husband, and I told him that I wanted to join his FitCamp. Before that, I had never taken any kind of group fitness class. So this was stepping way out of my comfort zone. But I realized that I needed to hold myself accountable. For me, what better way to do that than to make it visible to other people when I’m not pushing myself hard enough or when I get lazy and skip class.

I interviewed with my husband told him all the reasons why this time I was serious about making a lifestyle change. I also set a timeline for myself – my cousin’s wedding in Vegas in four months.

Then the work began. It wasn’t easy, but I got there. I didn’t reach my goal by my cousin’s Vegas wedding, but that’s okay. I didn’t give up, and about a month later, I did get there. I knew I would.

The FitCamp was the jumpstart I needed. When the 12-week program ended, I continued to focus on the progress I had made, and I never wanted to risk losing it. I’ve found that once you get over the initial hump, it gets much easier. I stopped craving all the bad food (the bad food didn’t taste as good anymore either), and working out became less of a choice and more of a way of life.

Some days I’m still tempted to skip the workout, and yes sometimes I do. But I forgive myself, move on, and know that I’ll do better the next day.

So in summary, here’s how I broke free from my thermostat:

1) I took the time to do some soul searching and uncovered the real, deeply emotionally compelling reasons I wanted to reach my fitness goals.

2) I said these reasons out loud to someone else to hold myself accountable.

3) I set myself up in a situation to hold me accountable – the FitCamp. The key for me was that I made my quest visible to other people, surrounded myself with people who were also working towards similar goals, and made it fun.

4) I set a timeline.

5) I knew I would get there.

6) I was patient with myself.

So there you go. Like I said, take what you need from this and make it work for you. Hopefully I gave you some ideas about how you can break free from your thermostat. I think the most important things are to find the deep, emotionally compelling reasons behind your goals, be patient with yourself, and know you’ll get there. I mean really KNOW it. And you will.

Best wishes on your journey!

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