A Future You

My fabulous friend, Jane.

My fabulous friend, Jane.

Are you ready for the future?  Women over the age of 60 are estimated to spend from $5Trillion to $15Trillion dollars every year. That is you. 

We are imagining a different kind of retirement.  An active, healthy and engaged life. 

Mary Oliver asks us, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

The future is calling.  Will you be there with a clear mind and a strong body? Or will you be spending inordinate amounts of time thinking about food, worrying about your weight, deciding what to eat, criticizing your efforts and your body?

I wasted many years doing just that, but I have no regrets.  Why? Because regrets are useless. Also, because I woke up.  I woke up and found a method to move forward. Review, revision, reworking and re-imagining – that is what I see as effectively preparing for the future. I did it with my weight, my body, my work and my experience of each moment. 

Looking back

If you look at where you are today, is it where you could have predicted you would be 10 years ago?  Most of us start out when we are younger with a vision of a bright future.  Often, it doesn’t quite work out the way we imagined.  Look at your past as a treasure trove of learnings.  Draw from the school of hard knocks as well as the school of love and fun.

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliveer

Take the measure of your life.

If you look at all the things you have accomplished in your lifetime, there will be some amazement and surprise. What advice would you give your yourself 10 years ago?  What would you tell her about her how young she looks? Would you tell her to start eating well and exercising?  Would you tell her not to worry about that conversation or that job or that boy (or girl)?

I will guide you through some thoughts to consider and exercises you can practice to choose your one wild and precious life. 

We know that there are causes of your obsession with food and your inability to lose weight.  Super frankenfoods – created in the lab to hijack your brain and cause you to crave certain foods and disrupting your body’s knowledge of hunger and full and fat storage and fat burning. 

Yet, we take it as our own moral failing.  That just pisses me off. 

And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.
— Wild Geese, Mary Oliver

In Wild Geese, Mary Oliver tells us, “And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” 

It doesn’t matter what happened, or how we got here.  It is now our time to create a vision for the future. 

A great place to start is what you actually believe about your future. Are you afraid? Are you excited?  What do you believe about your dreams coming true?  Do you think it is too late for you? What do you believe about your ability to create a future you want?

Your thoughts create your feelings; your feelings create your actions and your actions give you results. 

Each and every thought we have result in an emotion that drives our actions giving us the result that proves our thought. Back to the start. If your thought is that you just can't lose weight and you feel terrible and then overeat, your result proves to your brain, that you can’t do it.  You see it as proof that you can't.  This is what happens when our thoughts are unintentional and unconscious.

To create a future, you must be intentional about it all.

In other words, if you fly by the seat of your primitive brain, doing anything different than what you are already doing seems like the worst idea.  It won’t feel like flow when you start to change.

Attention, Intention, Focus – now those will engage your pre-frontal cortex and you can set the groundwork for creating new habits.

That doesn’t mean that you start and everything goes smoothly or works out to your exact specifications. We always want to be ready for life’s responses; people’s do all kinds of crazy stuff and we get many chances to respond from crazy or from calm or from compassion or from sanity!

Looking forward

What do you want (results)? Why do you want it (feeling)? What will you be doing when you get there (actions)?  What will you be thinking (thoughts)? What will you be feeling (feelings)? Be creative. Use your imagination.

What life are you looking forward to? At 64.9 years, I am looking  forward to 77.  I am in no rush to get there because I am living the journey. I take inspiration from runner, Olga Kotelko, who started training for track and field when she was 77 years young. I have never been athletic but I love to move.  I have created a vision of myself arriving at 77 buff and fit. 

If I looked to my past, I would find no evidence of athleticism. I would also observe that I have never consistently exercised for more than 3 months.  There is no historical evidence that I can reach my buff and fit goal. 

Now, I desire it.  It lights me up.  I go to the gym and see Mike who is 5 years my senior lifting and working out. I just keep showing up. I can see it.  I can feel it.

Identity Shattered

When my clients lose weight after struggling with it for a lifetime, they are shattering their former identity. If you are creating a new future, you will need to grow and to take different actions – you will need to change. 

When you give up beliefs which you have held for a long time, you will feel unprotected and vulnerable.

Unprotected and vulnerable – are you kidding?  You will feel like you are unprotected, but that is your primitive brain speaking. You can protect yourself now. It feels uncomfortable.  For sure.  Being strong enough to tolerate and surf the waves of vulnerability takes new learning. Know that you do have the strength accumulated over your lifetime to face this unknown future.

Interestingly, we know that this kind of change will keep you younger. It is a form of Hormesis (good stress). Hormesis is stress on your system that forges and creates the strength required to keep going and continuously adapt and builds on that new strength.  Science tells us we can increase our energy cells (the mitochondria) and grow stronger by continuously experiencing the right amount of good stress.

Ladies, this is what we are after.  This is also built into our DNA.  Survival came because our ancestors withstood stress and survived. Right? Cold. Heat. Lack of Food. Physical work. We were mistaken in thinking making life easy for our children was progress.

So how do we apply this looking forward towards a different future? Start with your desires. Martha Beck calls it following hot tracks. Like tracking for wildlife on the Serengeti. What lights you up? Take another step towards it. Look into it. Research it. Ask yourself? If you knew you would not fail, what would you do?  Where do you want to be in 5 years?

I’ll give you 5 items to start this journey.

1.      Compose a letter to your past self (10 years ago or more). Tell her what you think and feel. What advice would you give her?  Give her some insight into her future.

2.  Compose a letter from your future self who has already at your goal weight and at running that project.  Ask her for advice.  What would she tell you to stop doing? What would she tell you to start doing? Seek guidance from within. You have so many experiences. You have your own desires. You know a lot about life.

3.  Pray rain practice (Janet Maw). Write in a daily journal as if you already have the future you want. Use present tense in your writing.  What thoughts are you having about the day when you have everything you want?

4. Mental Rehearsal – Think about the changes you want to make.  Visualize yourself already there. You could imagine a video of your new life. When you watch the screen,

a.    What is different about you?

b.    How do you handle problems differently?

c.    How do you feel differently?

d.   How do you act differently?

e.    What parts of this practice need more practicing?

5.  Be Mentored - I love being inspired by teachers. Hillary Clinton was inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt. Many writers and podcasters have been interviewing accomplished men and women (mostly men) to get their secrets to success. You can find them everywhere!

My mentors today are Brooke Castillo (LCS), Pema Chodron (Buddhist Nun), Ari Whitten (Energy Blueprint), Russ Harris (ACT).  Each of them has led me to discover things about life that I didn’t know and where I was totally in my blind spot.  Learning from them has given me the courage and know-how to change.  The result is that my life has been enriched.

Find someone to be inspired by.  Read about people you admire.

Do not be left behind in this lifetime.  Become a leader in any capacity and be engaged in life. Decide to be led by your mentors.

When someone asks, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” you will tell them exactly what you will do!

Listen to the podcast on Your Future You, Episode 16 - It's Never Too Late To Lose Weight here.