The Relationship Between Weight Loss and Money Management

As the end of the year draws near, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead. What is 2018 going to look like? You don’t have to wait around to find out. You can take the initiative to make 2018 amazing and beautiful.

One of the most clichéd New Year’s resolutions is weight loss. It’s a joke. In January, the gyms are packed to the gills. By the end of February, it’s like a skeleton crew on a ghost ship. Interestingly, the same is true with budgeting. The word “budgeting” has about as much glamour as the word “diet.” Nobody wants to hear it.  Just hearing the words makes people crunch up their faces into a wrinkled ball of scorn.  Yuck.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Budgeting and dieting don’t have to be “Things We’re Mostly Likely To Fail At.” Both practices can become so natural that they become automatic and effortless. Both require similar skills. Because I’m one of those weird people who actually likes both dieting and budgeting, I want to share the similarities I’ve noticed about both practices.

Before I start, let me acknowledge that words are powerful. Let’s change the word diet to “way of eating,” “food choices,” “body fuel,” or whatever floats your boat. I refer to my food choices as a balanced way of eating. Call it whatever sounds good to you. I also budget my money at the beginning of every month. I call it a Spending Plan, not a budget. And I use Everydollar.com to help me.

So, these are the ways I’ve discovered that healthy eating is similar to smart money management:

Both benefit from a written plan. With both money and food calories, it is so easy to lose track of what you’re doing. A couple of cookies here, a trip to McDonald’s there. At the end of the year, you’re somehow carrying around 10 extra pounds. Where did the fat come from? Why won’t it go away? Same is true with money. You put $100 in your wallet. Four days later, there’s $35.00. Or, maybe, you have a zero balance on a credit card, wander into a couple of movies or breeze through a few restaurants, and next thing you know, you’re carrying a balance you can’t pay. Really? How did that happen? You stare at your check stub in disbelief. Where does it all go? (This is why you need a Spending Plan and a Food Plan).

Both require attention to detail. Just as a slab of butter, a little bit of syrup, or a splash of ketchup add up to pounds on the waistline, a magazine here, and a candy bar there add up to an empty wallet. There’s no need to be obsessive. But, at the same time, those “little things” are not nothing. They add up.

Both require delayed gratification. Let’s say you have your planned budget for Christmas. You’ve stuck to it quite nicely. But then you start looking at all the nice things you’ve bought for other people.  But, hey! What about you? You want something too, dammit! You look longingly into the store windows, and your eyes fall in love with something. You have to have it. You’ll pay it off later. You want it NOW!! Same thing happens with food. You’re hungry. You were good and went to the grocery store the other day. You know your fridge is full of lovely vegetables. Which you have to…chop. Your nose catches wind of something fried… or barbequed. And, look! There’s a drive-through window! You abandon your vegetables and let them rot. You want some yummy food…NOW!

Both require discipline. Money planning and healthy eating are not punishments. They can be easy and fun. But, in the culture we live in, there is no way to avoid the fact that living successfully requires discipline. It is so easy just screw it and do what everyone else is doing – accruing debt and gaining weight. But, this does not have to be you. With just a little bit of willingness, you can rise above mediocrity and live an excellent life.

Both will set you free if you let them. Having control over your money, and what you put in your mouth, will raise your opinion of yourself. It can be hard, especially at first. But once you master yourself – which is the hardest thing to do, to control your own mind and behavior – there is nothing else out there that will be impossible to you. You will have a quiet confidence about yourself which no one will be able to shake – no man, no woman, no politician, no circumstance. Once you master yourself, you can master anything. And you can turn around and help someone else.

If you want help establishing either a spending plan or a healthy eating plan, consider hiring a wellness coach. At Grown Folks Fitness, that’s what we do. Contact me today for further information.

Peace and love,

Raven

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Stand Your Ground

The first time I heard about “stand your ground” states, I couldn’t believe it.  I first heard about stand-your-ground laws when George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin. He pursued this young man without cause, with no legitimate authority to do so. And when Trayvon attempted to defend himself, he and Zimmerman ended up in a physical altercation. Zimmerman was ill-equipped for such an altercation, and received the worse end of the beating. In response, he took Trayvon’s life and got away with it. The state of Florida justified this cold-blooded and racist murder under the “stand your ground” law.

Earthly justice is often a mockery of real justice. Trayvon did not deserve to die. Zimmerman did not, and does not, deserve to live outside of prison. But, I got to thinking about what “standing your ground” really means.

For me, it does not mean that I have the right to murder people who annoy me. Quite the opposite. For me, standing my ground means that I remain grounded and rooted in spiritual principles regardless of the provocation I face.

When someone insults, disrespects, abuses, mocks, or violates me in any way, I have a choice to make. I can give it right back to them and better. I know how to do that. This will relieve my ego in the short term, and temporarily make me feel more powerful. This will strengthen and fatten up my ego.

The ego is fragile, insecure, and childish. So, if I strengthen my ego, I will further strengthen those qualities in myself. Next time I am offended, I will be more likely to respond in ego-based ways. This further weakens my character, and further strengthens my ego, in a downward spiral that makes me more and more dependent on outside circumstances, public opinion, and shallow achievements for fleeting glimpses of pseudo-happiness – until the next irritating circumstance comes along.

The other choice I have is to stand my ground. If I’m provoked, I can choose to respect the other person and give them human dignity, even if they don’t “deserve” it. I can choose to wrestle my ego to the ground, refusing to sink to the other person’s level. I can seek to understand what they are going through. I can choose to understand that they are in the throes of the ego’s clutches, and are, therefore, unable to respond in a mature, loving, or helpful way.

This doesn’t mean that one should be a doormat. It is perfectly okay and advisable to draw boundaries around what is and is not acceptable in how others treat you. But this can be done without resorting to ugly and undignified behavior. You can be true to your spiritual practice while still asserting healthy boundaries. One does not negate the other. On the contrary, they work hand in hand.

So, next time you are provoked, whether it’s by another human or by the unpredictable circumstances of life, stand your ground. Standing your ground requires no weapons, other than the weapons of a pure and potent consciousness. Standing your ground requires an inner strength that absorbs the negativity around it, folds it nicely, and hands it back to the person or situation from which it came.

The laws of the land often reflect the fear and weakness of the lowest common denominator. Spiritual law, however, reflects the power, strength, and certainty that we are all One. Love and courage are more powerful than hate and fear. Standing your ground means you believe that with all your heart and soul. It means you are willing to live a life that reflects that.

Go out into the world, walk in love, and always stand your ground.

Peace and joy,

Raven

The Benefit of Morning Pages

If you’ve never read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, it is a book that many artists have read. It helps artists of all kinds to release creative blocks and get re-inspired. Cameron has many helpful suggestions, but the crux of her program involves two things: Morning Pages and Artist Dates.

Morning pages require that one write in a journal first thing in the morning. You do three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing where you simply write whatever comes to mind, non-stop, for three notebook pages. Even if you have no idea what to write, you can just write “I have nothing to say” over and over again until something comes to you.

I actually start my day with meditation and then do morning pages. But I believe the two practices are complimentary. I find that I don’t have to meditate as long when I do morning pages. It’s actually better if I start with Morning Pages, and then meditate, but it’s not always practical. (I find it hard to hold a pen first thing in the morning).

On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much benefit. But I have found morning pages to be extremely helpful – not only with my writing, but with life in general. There are a lot of things we suppress because the people around us don’t listen, or because we’re busy, or distracted, or simply not deeply in touch with our feelings on a daily basis. Morning pages force us to confront ourselves by filling up those empty sheets of paper.

What this does is clear out inner debris, allowing us to access more authentic levels of our own consciousness. Once the surface-level inner chatter is spewed onto the page, what’s left is clearer and more intentional. I find that it helps me sort out all kinds of problems and puts things in perspective.

If you haven’t tried morning pages, regardless of whether or not you’re an artist, I urge you to give it a try.

Have a beautiful, creative weekend.

Peace and joy,

Raven