How I Created Transformation Through Practices

Have you ever been stuck and not known how to affect change in your life?   You want things to be different but you are not sure where to start?  How do you get out of this state and create the change you desire?

It starts with clearly defining your desired end state.  Set your intention and take initiative.  What do you want to be different?   What does that look like?  What will be different for you when you have attained your goal?  As Stephen Covey presents in his Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, begin with the end in mind.

What if you have a goal, as I did, to lose the tire around my waist.  I had worn size 32 waist pants all my adult life, and now the size 34 pants I had did not fit.  My expanding waistline was making me sluggish, less inspired to exercise, and I was starting to run out of clothes that fit.  That was not the person I wanted to be.  What to do?  Where to start? 

First, I needed to change my eating habits.  What am I currently consuming each day?  What is my fat, sugar, dairy, and gluten intake?  Then I needed to examine my exercise habits.  How often am I exercising?  What type of exercise am I doing?  How consistently?  What types of exercises would be best to achieve my goal?  What about losing 2 inches off my waistline is important to me?  What will I do to make this happen?

As I considered these questions, I gained greater clarity on what I wanted to achieve.  Rather than simply losing the tire around my waist, I refined my goals to: feeling more energetic, improving my fitness, exercising at least 5 times a week, and paying greater attention to my food intake.   How do I get there from where I am?

I set clear goals with specific success measures.  I wrote them down.  I stated my goals with intention, beginning each with "I will".   I asked myself the question, "Why is this important to me?".  This connected me to my purpose and helped me create, commit to, and sustain practices to create the shift I desired.  These practices helped me honor my commitment to myself.  Commitment, consistently doing what you say you will, builds confidence, character, integrity, and yields progress.  Consistently choosing to act in alignment with your purpose creates a routine and momentum.   Dedication to your routine produces growth.  In my case, it has produced transformational change.

My story started with a declaration to lose 2 inches off my waist.  Great.  How will I do this?  I will eliminate or drastically reduce my sugar, dairy, and gluten intake.  How will I do this?  

  • I will consume more fruits and vegetables.
  • I will make my own smoothies for breakfast and snacks consisting of fruit, vegetables, and healthy nuts.
  • I will drink 6 liters of water per day.
  • I will only keep food in my house that supports this goal.   The unwritten sub-goal here is I will only purchase food that supports this goal.
  • I will log what I consume daily. 

I will exercise regularly.  Great.  What will I do?  When will I do it?  How frequently?  For how long? 

  • I purchased a Groupon for a 10 session package at the local bikram yoga studio.
  • I set the intention to practice bikram yoga at least three times a week this past March.  (I also integrated weight-lifting on my Bowflex machine into my regimen to meet my 5 days a week goal.)
    • I adjusted the frequency of my yoga practice to at least 5 times a week prior to Thanksgiving 2014. 
    • I then committed to a 30 day challenge to practice 30 times in 30 days in mid-January 2015.  As of February 2, 2015, I have completed 22 consecutive days on my way to 30.

The results as of February 2, 2015:

  • I have lost 4 inches off my waist
  • I have lost 30 pounds (I am 5'11" and was 188 lbs in March 2014 on a slender frame)
  • I have tripled my daily intake of fruits and vegetables
  • I have drastically reduced my dairy intake to include greek yogurt, and one of my guilty pleasures, ice cream (in moderation)
  • I have drastically reduced my sugar intake, eliminating sugary snacks and replacing them with healthy smoothies and drinking water constantly

I share my story humbly to illustrate what is possible when you commit to creating change in your life.  My story is about creating the change you desire in your life.   While mine included bikram yoga and making different food intake choices, your goals may be different.  The key is having a process to create the change you desire and adhering to it. 

By choosing to take the initiative to create and implement consistent practices to achieve your goals, you set yourself up for success.  I was unhappy with my waistline, and had been for a while.  Once I committed to changing this, it led to better intake choices, a consistent bikram yoga practice, better overall self-care, and a healthier, happier me.  I didn't have it all figured out at first, but I made the decision to get started.  Greater clarity emerged as I revisited my purpose and the questions which helped define it.  I adapted from what I learned and my journey evolved from there.  What will you do to get started with positively changing your life?

Has this been easy?   Certainly not.  It has required taking intentional, persistent, consistent action aligned with my goals to create routines.  After a month or so, these routines became habits.  The cravings for sugary or dairy products became intentional, nutrient-rich intake choices.  My sluggishness turned into greater energy and enthusiasm by healthier consumption habits, increasing my activity level, and creating movement practices to provide a jolt of energy when I noticed my energy level drop. 

I struggled initially with my bikram yoga practice, particularly with my breathing practice.  I had moments of frustration.  What helped me overcome my frustration was remaining connected to my larger, defined purpose.  I also noticed that no matter how challenging a session was, I always felt good afterwards.  This feeling, my yoga high, kept me motivated to keep going, and focus on getting better each day.  I committed to accepting myself without judgment on my learning and growth journey.  The yoga instructors always guide us to work with the body you have today, and do the best you can.  I have been blessed with great teachers and a great community who have kept encouraging me, and educating me on this journey.  They were instrumental in my realizing the results I shared.

These visible physical changes only begin to tell my transformation story.  I have been getting allergy shots for over a decade.  I am proud to say that I have discontinued this treatment since integrating bikram yoga into my life.  I no longer need it.   I have gained flexibility, improved my balance, significantly increased my lung capacity, and mitigated my lower back pain all as a result of choosing to practice bikram yoga consistently.   This all started with a goal to address my frustration with my expanding waistline and a decision to take action to change this.  What will you do to create the change you want in your life?

I hope my story inspires you to set your intentions and take initiative to create the change you want to see in your life.  Can you do it?   Yes, you can.  What would you like to be different in your life?  Why is this important to you?  What practices will you create and commit to doing consistently to make this happen?  How will you do this?   When will you do this?   Namaste.

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What if we started by seeing the similarities?