Sunday, March 06, 2011

Empower. Your. Self

Life seems to come in themes...

As we do new things and meet new people it is natural that we begin to notice more and more of certain 'themes' of media and communication.
Lately on returning to NZ to complete my next book I have been working with several inspiring women helping them to break out of the pattern of eating disorders. I have serendipitously connected with a lot of women in many areas seeking to empower themselves. They've inspired me and I feel blessed to be able to be part of the process of positive change.

But I've also been reminded of how we frame so much of what we strive to do for our highest good in a negative way...and this can be ultimately self defeating.

In social media, on the web and in articles I still see time and again negative and dis-empowering threads and themes. These dis-empowering themes are almost always rooted in extrinsic motivation (or wanting to be a certain way because it is expected by society, and because we have been conditioned to think others will react in a positive way to the image we are trying to create.)
This can be compared with the intrinsic motivation that comes from doing the things we truly want to do, and becoming the person that we really want to be. This is a truly powerful, internal force that leads to continued growth of self - it is eternal...extrinsic motivators are however by nature transient and the likelihood is that we will 'fall off the wagon' and never reach our goals.
It could be said too that even if we 'reach' those goals that we have set (to try and please others) we will never reach any great level of satisfaction or happiness, and as I have written in Time Rich...Cash Optional! this means that the goals we have set are the wrong goals! (The right goals for us are the ones that lead us closer and closer to our highest good!)

The worst examples I see of this are:

Calorie Counting...
I have lectured on numerous occasions (at universities, colleges and major conferences) on the importance of QUALITY of nutrition over QUANTITY. And to be honest if we eat a diet that consists of natural., whole and unprocessed foods we in almost all cases need not worry about calories.

Calories in vs calories out is an outdated model that has little bearing on health.
The inverse negative aspect of calorie counting in food is the counting of exercise calories. PLEASE realize that the calories you expend doing exercise do not equate to how much fat you will lose and how your body will end up looking! (Resistance and high intensity forms of exercise for example, although utilizing less calories and less 'fat calories' in session will result in 9x more fat loss than steady state cardio - when time adjusted!)
I have no clue how many calories I ate today and I have no clue how many calories I expended. I don't care and it isn't important.
I can tell you that I eat a lot of great quality food and I train really hard and I stay lean and strong year round.

  • STOP counting calories
  • If it's pressed into a funny shape don't eat it!
  • Close your eyes and imagine you are walking through a forest - if you see it around you, you can eat it. 
  • Eat when you're hungry, until you are full and when you get hungry! 
  • Focus on honouring, loving and suppporting yourself by eating great quality food!

(For the purpose of this post, and for health I don't care whether you are vegetarian, vegan or omnivorous -  just eat natural, whole, unprocessed, organic food!)

Counting calories and depriving yourself is creating a starvation/deprivation mind-set. Counting calories from working out is simply the 'purge' part of a 'binge-purge' mentality that is not empowering. 

I had a great conversation with an inspiring Cross-Fit athlete in the weekend. She told me how she doesn't follow any particular diet. She just trains hard (because she loves it!) and eats LOADS of great quality natural food (because she has to eat a LOT to fuel herself for her training and life in general!)....and yes....she was lean and in fantastic shape.

Comparisons with others...
I'm seeing this so much with young women I work with.
Constant comparisons with so called feminine ideals (images which I often find unattractive because they are skinny and unhealthy looking to me....but I digress) and saying things like "I wish I were her" or "I'm in pretty good shape...but...I wish I had her abs.."
When I hear and read things like this it breaks my heart. Every time we say something like this we devalue ourselves. We dis-honour and dis-empower ourselves.
It's so sad to see beautiful women post pictures of themselves next to someone they consider their supposed ideal and wish that they were them. (Refer to my previous post - You Are Beautiful Now!)

I understand the value of having role models but people we look up to are quite different to people we wish we were because we undervalue ourselves. Role models provide people that we look up to as guides who have travelled a particular path that we are alsp in some way travelling. Our own sense of self image and worth is left intact when we have positive role models.

I have many role models. I have people I look up to and their guidance helps me. Their exploits and achievements inspire me....
But never have I wanted to 'be' that person. I am me, and in spit of my flaws I'm pretty great! :)

  • Be happy with YOU
  • Love YOU
  • You need not be 100% satisfied with where you are...but at the very least be HAPPY and be PROUD of who you are and what you've achieved. 

Everyone has fought, and is still fighting great battles. 
Honour these  by tasting the sweet fruit of your victories ~ no matter how small. 
Learn from your defeats and take the learnings to make you stronger. 
Our greatest defeats can teach us our greatest lessons and can drive us to even greater accomplishments. 

Above all create a powerful mind-set. A mind-set where you are worth honouring. A mind-set where you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are worthy of the very best that life has to offer!

☺ Blessings,
~ Cliff


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