Indigo30 DAY 29: Your words

All of this Whole30 and yoga stuff is a really super good idea, but if we never found out from anyone if it actually worked, then none of it would even matter. It’s because we tell each other about the results we’ve experienced (or haven’t) that we continue to learn and be motivated to be better. Human beings are results-driven, even in the minor things. We expect our car to start and run. We expect certain things to happen at specific times of day. We want to know that our efforts are seen and that some things in life are certain. The expectations and desire for results are driven by habits, which mold and frame and direct our days — thousands of them. Some are simple, like the habit you have of making your coffee in the morning, with the reward of the delicious, foamy first sip. And others are complicated, like the habit you have or know of someone having of fighting an addiction. They all swirl about and pull from emotions and often times feel vastly out of our control. “But every habit, no matter its complexity, is malleable. The most addicted alcoholics can become sober. The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves. A high school dropout can become a successful manager,” writes Tal Ben Shahar, of Happier. 

In the course of the last 28 days, really more like 35 days, because the preparation week really counts in my opinion, you have shaped, formed, shifted, reorganized and changedimage.png some of the biggest habits a human being can have. You have done this. Your willpower has a pattern now, and you are the one who made that happen. You decided, consciously, to do the work, see the cues and the rewards that drive your routines, and create new rituals around your daily behaviors — rituals that have meaning and value not only to you but to the people in your lives. Your families have been impacted. Your friends have watched you shift and change and stay the course. People who were once strangers, are now your friends, with their superhero capes ready to throw on and help you back up anytime you stumble.

You did other things too, things that no one could predict and things that won’t sell diet books: you became accountable for your behaviors.

“I realized that I am the reason my family eats out so much. My lack of organization around meal planning and just plain laziness at times created chaos during what would have been time of comfort for me and my family. By not having a plan, I made their evenings hectic while we all tried to figure out dinner and usually made an unhealthy choice,” writes one I30 participant.

I have been working with students for over a decade, helping them to come clean and get straight and own up to their role in relationships and breakdowns that occur in their lives. Especially when the default is to blame.

Very rarely does anyone own it like this.

“I realized I’ve been dropping the ball,” she said. “Cooking for my family for the last 28 days has been so lovely. They can’t wait to hear what’s for dinner. They have never once said, ‘I wish we could just go out to eat.’ My daughter even said, ‘Momma, I love this whole thing you are doing because the food is so good!”

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You can’t put a number, especially a scale number, to something like that. These children are going to remember this time for years to come. They will be in college someday longing for their mom’s healthy home cooking. It will be part of the reason they can’t wait for the holidays. They will remember going to yoga with their mom and remembering holding her hand at the end. They will remember her encouragement and how she took care of herself. And the pride in their eyes when they look at their mom — glowing, healthy and happy, is nothing anyone can put a number to. That is what quality of life looks like. That is happiness.

“When I was told I had to stop running because of an injury,” writes another participant, “I spiraled into what I couldn’t do. I got depressed and ended up having surgery. Surgery didn’t help. It made things worse. Had I found yoga, I wouldn’t have gone that route. Yoga reminded me that I could exercise and not injure myself. I just do what I can do. Some days it’s not much, but it’s better than me sitting at home and feeling sorry for myself. Thank you for putting this program together. I’ve learned so much it’s crazy.”

Many of you have remarked that the combination of nutrition and movement has been a game changer — that the diet without the yoga might have left you feeling a little obsessive over the food, and that the yoga without the diet might have kept you eating stuff that wasn’t really working for you but that you might have dismissed “since you were working out all the time.” The two components are what creates the balance, the effort and the ease. The two disciplines actually hold each other accountable. As we have learned, you cannot be all in on one and sort of in on the other. They work together. Add in meditation/mindfulness/self-reflection, and you have a perfect triad of balanced wellness.

“I’m actually more nervous to end the Indigo30 than I was starting it,” writes a student new to the Indigo30. “I’ve never had so much energy. It makes me a better speech language pathologist, a better friend, and a better person to be around. The meetings were so helpful and I loved hearing about other people’s NSVs. The blogs helped me A LOT — the introspection is huge for me. I tell others that it’s not about losing weight; it’s about seeing how your body reacts to certain foods. It’s about gaining insight into your own habits with food, and it’s about doing something you didn’t think you could.”

Some of you were looking for education, and were curious. Others were looking for a reset. Still others were looking for a distraction from the hardships of life, something to redirect your focus. You all have admitted that this was more than you thought it would be — why were you suddenly finding yourself crying tears of gratitude on your mat? Why and how were you suddenly not craving a drink amidst friends and normal social circles, totally content to say, “no, thank you” with ease? Why was it easier than you anticipated?

Because you didn’t do it alone. You redefined what “hard” really is. And you saw change occur.

“I probably would never have done this type of regimen without Indigo as a support group.”

“I have struggled with anxiety and depression. Over the past month my mood swings have been almost non-existent. I have not felt so ‘stable’ in several years. My chronic migraines have almost disappeared. I have decreased my caffeine intake significantly. These are things I never, in a million years, though possible.”

“I’ve had personal challenges/disappointments/losses that I’ve experienced for years. All of THAT was hard. And it still is. Pouring my energy into what I thought was going to be a ‘distraction’ that turned out to be a blessing — this reset — was not hard. I have learned so much, made new friends and bolstered my confidence as I prepare to take the next steps on my journey.”

_______

It’s not always easy to know what our purpose is. There will be days when you feel aimless and lost, alone and so vulnerable. You will think you are just chasing your tail or wandering directionless, feeling like no one and nothing even notices the path you are traveling, because they are so hyper-focused on their own path. Most of all, you may battle mostly with yourself, relentlessly seeking achievement and perfection; running toward some intangible goal of “finally good enough” when all the things have, at long last, perfectly lined up. Until the day comes, and it will if it hasn’t already, when you realize that the battle is only with your own reflection. If you reach out and try to touch it, there will be nothing there. But if you look around and see what’s outside of, and beyond that reflection, you will find real people with real feelings and similar, real battles, whose hands need to be held and who also need to be pulled away from the enticing reflecting glass so that they can see, in your eyes, who they really are.

The mission of the Indigo30 was to educate participants in nutrition and yoga in such an impactful, but balanced way, that how they live — their lifestyle — will automatically, by default, impact and balance others as they exemplify and share what they have learned.

“As I now look toward my future,” a hesitant-to-share Indigo30 participant writes, “this experience will always go with me. My degree is concentrated in Nutrition and Wellness; my goal now is to work with individuals who want to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. Therefore, I thank you, for providing this experience. It has not only helped me but will help others with whom I share it.”

Mission accomplished.

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One more day.

Keep going.

B

 

Indigo30 DAY 26: The purpose of happiness, and the happiness of purpose

Can you imagine how many Americans have “lose 10-20 pounds” on their goal sheet on January 2? I am in the fitness business. I know first hand that it’s… a lot. It’s staggering, actually. This goal is above most all of the following:

  • overall health and wellness
  • family goals
  • financial growth/stabilityimage.png
  • work success/promotion/earning
  • travel
  • buy a new ______
  • get the diploma/degree/certification
  • home projects
  • activities and hobbies
  • happiness

You read that right … happiness is sometimes not even on a goal list. It’s not on the little picture I posted here either. But “weight loss” is on there THREE TIMES. “Happiness?” Nowhere to be found.

Are you happy?

Like, truly?

I am leaving a lot of space right there for you to think about it. I know some of you are truly happy. In fact, one of you just texted me this: “I am grateful to be at a place in my life where I am just immensely happy and feel like my cup truly runneth over.” But you know what? This girl means it. And she works hard for it. In a way that I’ve never quite seen anyone do before. But if I tell you how I think she does it, I will give away the whole story…

Again,

Are you happy?

While that simmers, recall all we have learned about cues, routines, rewards, habits. Now I will add in a new concept; not so different from routines and habits — rituals. I spoke about this in my very first blog for the program. A ritual is different from a routine and even a habit in that it is motivated by a deeply held value. These routines and habits really truly mean something to our wellbeing, to who we are, to what gives us joy, to the respect we have for ourselves and others. Now, it’s not to be denied that a ritual can certainly go down a destructive path; drug addicts often have rituals for the administration of their chosen drug. Over-exercisers and people suffering from eating disorders have rituals for when, where, how often they workout and eat, or don’t eat. Of course this is possible. But so is a ritual of happiness.

How can or should happiness be a routine? Doesn’t that kind of take the creativity and spontaneity out of the entire concept? I suppose it could if the ritual becomes a chore for whatever reason. But, even “the most creative individuals — whether artists, businesspeople or parents — have rituals they follow. Paradoxically, the routine frees them up to be creative and spontaneous,” writes Tal Ben-Shahar, of Happier. Shahar, before diving into any of the substance of his book, gives the reader an assignment straight out of the gate before anything is even studied:

Each night before going to sleep, write down at least five things that make you happy — things for which you are grateful. These can be little or big: from a meal that you enjoyed (yes! a Whole30-compliant meal!) to a meaningful conversation you had with a friend, to a project at work, to God.

“In research done by Robert Emmons an Michael McCullough, those who kept a daily gratitude journal — writing down at least five things for which they were grateful — enjoyed higher levels of emotional and physical well-being.

If you do this exercise regularly, you will naturally repeat yourself, which is perfectly fine. The key is, despite the repetition, to keep the emotions fresh; imagine what each item means to you as you write it down, and experience the feeling associated with it. Doing this exercise regularly (as a ritual) can help you to appreciate the positive in your life rather than take it for granted.”
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Do this on your own, but also consider doing it with a loved one. Your spouse, your children, a close friend. It’s powerful. Get creative with it and channel it in unique circles. Every morning, my leadership team and I do our “morning huddle” by text. Most companies all get to meet in the board room, but we are yogis and usually on five different ends of town teaching all the yoga in all the places (and, we don’t have a boardroom.) So every morning, before 10am, we just check in and say the following things: Good morning! Then “my one big thing” (that I must accomplish today). And then we say if we are stuck. Like, “I’m stuck with getting the new schedules printed because there were errors on the last draft,” to which, as a team, we then pitch in and help our comrade get un-stuck. At the very least, we know they are struggling some, and can empathize instead of being left to guess. If we don’t hear from someone, we find them and make sure they are good — oftentimes they are so buried they haven’t had a chance to check in, and it’s an amazing opportunity to ask for help and offer it … and receive it.

Because of this blog and this program, I am also tasking them with doing a “goodnight gratitude text;” sometime in the evening before 9pm, we text the group and list 5 things we are grateful for. We all have to contribute. We all have to stop down, pause, breathe, feel, and write.

“A happy person enjoys positive emotions while perceiving her life as purposeful,” writes Shahar.

PURPOSE

For the last 25 days you have had two very clear (new) purposes alongside all of your other purposes: to eat Whole30 and do yoga each day. Because of those two purposes, you could very well feel called to other purposes —

  • perhaps you want to keep going and do another 30 days?
  • perhaps you want to read, Food Freedom Forever, which is a “life after Whole30” book by Melissa Hartwig and continue to learn more about habits, guilt and anxiety around food?
  • perhaps you are intrigued by the concepts I have taught, by the culture my team and I have created, and are considering becoming a yoga teacher?
  • perhaps you want to teach what you’ve learned to others?
  • perhaps you want to commit yourself to a Paleo lifestyle that you can maintain, sustain and experiment with?
  • perhaps next year you want to somehow contribute to the program?
  • perhaps you want to bring this program into your workplace or school or social circles?

Whatever you plan to do after Day 30, there is likely some purpose behind it. Even if it’s just eliminating your daily run to Starbucks because you’ve noticed you’ve saved $150 already by not buying a latte every day. Somewhere around those plans that are nurturing your deeper purpose, you have some emotion. Excited, nervous, certain, uncertain, worried, strong … emotions are stirring in there somewhere. Whether they are positive or negative, emotions move us … they move us from apathy, indifference, resignation and inaction to motivation. That very motivation makes us act. Imagine if we had no motivation at all, if we were totally indifferent … even to consequences. At some point, doing nothing will lead to harsher and more difficult consequences… until a breaking point. It will come eventually. Emotion plays a big role in the choices we make and the actions we take, especially our innate, deep down desire to be happy, which every human being wants. But emotion is not the only role.

“When speaking of a meaningful life, we often talk of having a sense of purpose, but what we sometimes fail to recognize is that finding this sense of purpose entails more than simply setting goals,” says Shahar. We are all in the middle of a goal we once set for ourselves — in fact, maybe some of you said, “I will never make it 30 days, or even 2 weeks!” — and you have. Are you acting like it? You all should be running around like crazy people, shouting “I DID IT! I’M DOING IT!” And yet, we aren’t. Instead, we are push the goal out further. Why do we do this? I think because often we set goals that perhaps don’t have true meaning and purpose. “When I lose 20 pounds I will be happy. I will be happy when I can fit into skinny jeans and look awesome.” And, the 20 pounds come off, and we say, “I want to lose 5 more.” Simultaneously, we say, “I so deserve a doughnut…” and then we feel guilt and shame and the goal that we achieved — because we didn’t tie a meaningful purpose to it (like, “I want to lose 20 pounds so that my body is healthy and therefore functioning more effectively, so that I am less reactive, more clear-headed, and more present with my family,”) is void of true meaning. Do you see the difference? To experience long-term happiness around something, we must determine if that thing has purpose and meaning, or if it is just a short-term benefit with long-term detriment.

Some of us know our main purposes, and they are usually in big buckets like “family” or “career” or “spiritual life.” An amazing exercise for all of us would be to see if — within those big buckets that no one will argue have great meaning and probably line with your values and passions — there are smaller buckets of purpose that do not have positive meaning. Look for the places where you feel like you are treading water, or exasperated, or apathetic. Look for places where deep down, if you told the truth, you were only doing or only a part of to make someone else happy or to look good. Think about how, if you continue to pour into those people, things, exercises, ideas, routines, you will strengthen the apathy versus strengthening the meaning. By continuing to keep up or look like you “have it all together,” with each passing day, your innate desire for happiness loses it spark. In one of my favorite books, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman writes that “each successive generation worldwide since the opening of the [twentieth] century has lived with a higher risk than their parents of suffering a major depression — not just sadness, but a paralyzing listlessness, dejection, and self-pity, and an overwhelming hopelessness — over the course of life.” He calls our age, “The Age of Melancholy.” If you watched the interview with Simon Sinek that I cited in a recent blog, you will recall him speaking about the Millennial generation: “The worst case scenario is that we are seeing an increase in suicide rates in this generation, an increase in accidental deaths due to overdose, and an increase in more kids dropping out of school or taking leaves of absence due to depression. This is unheard of. The best case scenario? We will have an entire population growing up and never really finding joy or deep fulfillment in work or life. They’ll just waft through life, saying, ‘It’s fine.'”

I submit that part of our problem here is that we are assigning meaning and happiness to the wrong things, things that don’t actually fulfill us at all. And sure, we make goals, but often don’t establish a healthy routine to get them. And if, by chance, we do, once we get what we want, we have already moved on to what’s next, not having taken any time at all to love — truly love — what we already have. No one wants to go through the climb to find happiness described by Sinek as, “…arduous and long, and difficult. They are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes. What [we] need to learn is patience. That some things that really really matter, like love, or job fulfillment, joy, love of life, self-confidence, a skillset — any of these things — all of these things take time. If you don’t ask for help and learn that skillset, you will fall off the mountain.”

I know this blog is not a read that you will feel all warm and fuzzy about. It may leave you feeling scared or sad or even worried. Maybe this is just the emotion you need to feel to be motivated to act. I bet there isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t said or felt the notion that, “I just want my kids to be happy.” So be the example. Do the work. Stop messing around with your can’ts and shoulds and supposed tos. Stop wasting time self-deprecating and complaining about what you don’t have and what or who is wrong. You have yourself, AND, you have an entire generation that needs you now more than ever to guide and lead with authentic happiness. You have tools for nutrition, yoga, meditation, wellness, patience, discipline and community — do not let them go to the wayside. We have to work extra hard right now to make sure that we take the focus off of our little worlds of not-good-enough and direct it to the people who have the fewest amount of tools and the most amount of pressure, the generation behind each and every one of us.image

And while you are doing that, do some self-examination and get even MORE clear about what your purpose(s) are. You may find it’s time to slough off more than just sugar and carbs. The good news? When you figure out genuine purpose — no one can stop you, and you shine more brightly than the brightest star in the sky.

KEEP GOING.

B

Indigo30 DAY 19: Why do I feel terrible?

One of the reasons I decided to write this blog day by day instead of pre-writing them and just doling them out like a Vegas dealer was because I wanted to be right in the pressure cooker with you. Also, I thought, what if I have a topic planned and that’s not what is actually happening for everyone at that time? Well, the topic that was sort-of planned, (my attempt at at least a loose outline), was about buying local produce and meats. Sort of interesting. Not really. And not what’s actually happening right now.

What’s happening right now is that a good handful of you just plain don’t feel good. I know this because you’re telling me. And because (ahem) I don’t feel good either. Your body is hurting, you have stomachaches, you’re feeling flu-ish. And your wrestling with not only what to do about it but a genuine frustration about feeling sabotaged by the universal forces when you’re 1- working really hard and 2- starting to near the end and 3- you want to go out strong.image.png

“Should I keep eating like this while my stomach is a rumbling mess?”

“I’m sure I’m coming down with something. Should I go to yoga anyway and just lay there (because I really want my star.)”

“I feel bloated and fat. What gives?”

“My shoulder and elbow are angry and have sharp pain. Isn’t the inflammation supposed to have subsided by now instead of flaring up?”

“I have so much gas. I’m about to kill the all people around me from toxic fume inhalation.”

First of all, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you may feel worse before you feel better. Think of a fever and how it sometimes runs its course — you think you’re getting sick, you feel better and think you’ve triumphed, and then it comes back around and just kicks your butt. and it kicks it hard until all the infection is finally gone. Well, that’s what’s happening right now.

Second, just as a disclaimer, please do not come to the/a yoga studio if you are genuinely sick and get other people sick. Doing that just to get a star will get your ass kicked in a different way.

Third, and this is the moment of truth – be mindful about what’s happening. Stop the brain racing and get present…

Your body is still adapting and cleaning. That’s why you feel badly.

Or

You ate something off-program and your body is reacting.

Or

You’re just looking for a way out or someone to give you permission for a way out.

Or

You can still go to yoga, but you need to dial the intensity down.

And, on top of feeling badly and one of the above things is occurring, maybe this is also happening …

The frustration, the worry, the guilt and the runaway thoughts of being a little under the weather or a little achy and the consideration skipping yoga is outweighing the innocuous actuality of just going and doing what feels ok and resting in savasana the rest of the time.

You have to decide between the two stressors – the guilt of going and not doing as much or the guilt of not going. Or… just go to yoga and do what you can. Don’t be so dramatic about it.image.png

Also stop and consider that taking 1-2 days off amidst 30 because the flu has taken you down is not unreasonable. It’s SAFE.

Rethink what you are going through. Reconsider what’s actually happening versus what you think should be happening.

General discomfort

As I said earlier, it’s not uncommon on or around days 18-21 to feel terrible. It’s a mind trick for sure, but it’s normal. Here are some fairly easy remedies if you’re not up to par right now:

Digestive distress (gas, bloating, cramping): try some peppermint gels (watch ingredients, some have soybean oil) and digestive enzymes. Limit fibrous foods like broccoli, dried fruit and nuts. Increase good fat intake. Sprouts has a peppermint sparkling water (Crystal Geyser) that I pretty much live on. I am not sure it helps the bloat but the taste makes me feel like it does. And also peppermint tea, which, when I am a grandma, I am going to tell my grandkids cures everything.

Headache: Hydrate and supplement your hydration with electrolyte replenishment. Get more sleep. It may be stress, it may also be allergies. See if you can’t identify the trigger.

Joint and muscle aches: Epsom salt baths, Doterra Deep Blue Rub & oil, cold compress, massage, cryotherapy. Your place is in the Vinyasa-Restorative class for a few days unless you can honestly turn your practice dial down until you’ve recovered some.

Flu-like symptoms: Hydrate, rest and a potential trip to the doc — there’s a bunch of kid funk going around and that s–t doesn’t play.

Fatigue: Obviously rest. But sometimes, getting back on your mat is the cure needed to fight the fatigue, especially if you have a tendency to talk yourself into being tired.

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All in all, please try to be patient with yourself. Stop, take some inventory. Get clear on what’s actually happening and try not to immediately dwell on how this “setback” means failure. Quite frankly, I’d be concerned if some of this stuff wasn’t happening to you, because if you’re really working the program, it’s inevitable. I’m going through it too, I promise. I feel like checking the “all of the above” box. So I know I need to back off a little, drink more water and get some better rest. Here’s an exercise: Even for just a day, redefine your definition of failure — make it mean not trying at all and being a judgy jerk to those who do! That is a good definition of failure, I think!

In the comments below, tell me and your comrades how you’re feeling. Sometimes hearing from others helps us realize everything is normal, we are not alone and especially that “everyone else” isn’t doing a gazillion times better at things than we are.

I love you guys. I’m so super proud of you. Keep going.

B

Indigo30 DAY 18: Leadership

image.pngI started a new session of teacher training tonight. For most people, that doesn’t mean a whole lot because they don’t really know what it even is (I mean, most people are rather perplexed about what I do for a living in the first place, but when I try to explain that I train teachers to teach yoga, everything gets real foggy.)  Most just think I’m teaching people how to do yoga poses. Which is about 3% true. The rest, what I actually teach and train teachers to do, is actually compilation of my life’s study and work (so far.) Somehow, I have documented and organized what I think is the most effective content and curriculum for training a teacher in a local environment, to be successful, inspiring, confident, and most of all, real not only in a yoga class room but in all of life. Over the course of the last two decades in this profession, I have fallen on my face many times. I have made thousands of mistakes.  There is no training manual for how to run a yoga studio or create a yoga school. There isn’t a course in college dedicated to educating yoga teachers AND training them to publicly teach in live classrooms of upwards of 100 people. And despite the many online offerings on “how to grow your yoga business,” no one is preparing brand new, budding teachers for the rigors of dealing with payroll taxes and HR issues, much less scaling the business to be able to offer things like benefits and PTO. And that’s saying nothing of keeping a team of teachers and employees happy and teaching with accuracy, consistency and a compelling delivery. This little tiny tributary of modern business is unchartered territory. Anyone who is blazing this trail is going in absolutely blind. And they better have grit and resolve the likes of a superhero, because when you have no guide, no map, you are going to get lost. A lot.

I used to make a fairly self-deprecating joke that I could write a book about all the things not to do as a yoga studio owner and yoga teacher. Only because I felt like I had made every mistake possible.

And then, one day I had a massive realization. I can’t recall the impetus or the trigger, but I realized a very simple truth: that I chose everything that has occurred in my life. image.pngEven the things that I suppose one could argue I didn’t choose, I still believe that I chose all of the things that led up to said “no-choice circumstance” that somehow got me in that situation in the first place. I also chose all of my reactions, all of my lamentations, all of my moments of victimization, regret, and lack of better, more thought out judgment. No matter what happened to me, I was suddenly finding myself pausing and dissecting where in the chain of circumstances I decided to start blaming someone else for misfortunes. When I figured out where and when that happened, I backtracked, and started owning it as my own. And suddenly, my dialogue changed. It was no longer a conversation of self-deprecation around having made every mistake possible. It was one of respect for every mistake made and a greater respect for catching myself sooner, and more quickly before making more. The key insight: it was all my choice.

Tonight, as I closed my class, my affable, everyday self  stepped aside in the last 45 minutes while the leader took over. Sometimes, I don’t even recognize this leader, she is so powerful and unwavering. And I know why: she believes and lives what she says and stands by it in the face of all adversity. This leader stood in front of 20 brand new and seasoned teachers alike and said something like this:

“I have a terrible flaw. It’s one of those good/bad flaws. It took me a long while to see the pitfalls of it. This flaw is one of seeing the potential and everyone. This risky flaw is that I believe in people more than they believe in themselves. Where some people see lack, I see possibility. The problem with this is that when I believe in someone, there can be an inherent pressure that is placed upon them. My intention of course is to only hold them up and show them how much potential they have. But what can sometimes happen is my belief in them puts so much pressure on them that they give up because they are afraid to let me down. Even though they couldn’t. Fear of failure outweighs the possibility of success. And sometimes, they simply don’t want the pressure. They get squeezed to be better, and they want out.

I get that. And, you (you new teachers in training) — you signed up for this. You paid money, applied, gathered references, completely rearranged your schedule, and put your heart on the line, voluntarily. You, by your own will (no one was forcing you, were they?) signed up to be under my guidance for the next 10 weeks. To do anything short of pushing you to your best would not only be an insult to you but and insult to all who came before you and did the work. So I am going to push you. And I’m going to coach you, and walk with you all the way to the end, so when you graduate from this school, you are so confident and so powerful in who you are, the world around you will never be the same.”

And I meant every word that I said. Why am I telling you this? Because your journey with the Indigo30 is really no different. You volunteered to be a part of this program, and in so doing, you gave me the responsibility to guide you. You are not doing the world any favors by sitting on the sidelines. You are not doing the people in your community or your family any favors by sabotaging your health with poor food choices and lack of movement and nourishing your stress by overworking or overcommitting. So if for any reason you think that you have, “had enough,” or, “that this is a waste of time,” or that “18 days is probably enough,” I will tell you right now, it’s time to step up to the plate and lead.image.png

Lead your family.

Lead your school.

Lead your parents.

Lead your church group, your children, your friends.

Show them what strength and discipline and self respect look like by staying the course and truly living — not just “doing” — but BEING a whole, healthy, authentic, example of self-love. There is more to all of this than just losing a few pounds and getting a new Vitamix. You are now a leader of health. Own it.

(Originally, I was just going to talk to you about cool gadgets tonight…)

Keep going.

B

Indigo30 DAY 15: HALFWAY THERE! What to expect, what not to expect.

Expectations are a darn tricky thing. In fact, there have been thousands of moments in my life where I realized the only thing that was causing my suffering was an expectation I had of something or someone. And being brutally honest, the expectation was usually unreasonable. And yet, how does one set goals without having expectations? I mean, even just logistic expectations? “I have a goal of completing the Indigo30. If I do 30 days of yoga and follow the nutritional standards of the Whole30, Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 10.05.14 PMI expect to feel great at the end of the program.” Not unreasonable. It’s when we inflate a reasonable expectation with something that’s irrational. Maybe for a few days, you could think about expectations like math (I seem to equate (haha) so many things with math these days, but damn it’s logical!) — listen, everyone knows that 1 + 1 = 2. “If I eat an apple, (1) and I add raw almond butter (+1) I can be sure that I had a healthy, compliant, nutritious snack (=2).” The facts equal the outcome. There are no variables or unknowns.

It’s when we do this: If I do yoga (1) and eat Whole30 (+1), I should lose 10 pounds by Day 15.”  Wait, what? That didn’t even factor in any variable (body composition, fat to muscle ratio, how many other and what kind of calories you’re eating, how hard you are working in class, if you are losing fat but gaining muscle, or even if you had any real weight to lose in the first place …?)  Do you see how easily we can create stories and unreasonable expectations? And it’s happening in your sweet little brain and therefore in your surroundings ALL DAY EVERY DAY. With your spouse, with your children, with your colleagues, with where you are in life, even with strangers in the car in front of you, expecting them to behave exactly like you need them to so that they keep your life moving at the pace you think it needs to move: “<<HONK>> WHY IS HE JUST SITTING THERE AT THIS LIGHT! <<HONNNNK>> GET OFF YOUR DAMN PHONE YOU _______!!” (Meanwhile, who knows but what this man in front of you just lost his wife to cancer and put his head down to cry at the stoplight.) You know it possible. It’s not likely, but it’s possible.

I’m serious you guys, your expectations are unreasonable. And wherever they sit with this program right now, I want you to do a very serious real-talk check in. Because if you’ve even followed the program 80-90%, your body is absolutely, positively changing somehow, even if its minor because 80-90% effort is 80-90% better than 0% effort. You’re likely sleeping better, your skin is likely clearing, your eyes are probably brighter, and no matter what, because I’ve thrown about a million things at you, one noodle is going to stick on the wall that you will remember, so admit it or not, you have also learned something.

Now I don’t want to discount the potential feeling of discouragement or overwhelmment. I know it’s real. I know the benefits everyone raves about are so coveted that you want them all and want them now. And some have them already. But for others of you, you have to stay the course. Your math equation has way, way different variables than your fellow team member. Your expectation of how something “should” be or “is supposed to be” could very well be the thing that’s holding you back. It usually is.

Today I realized that I’ve cared more about what I weigh than the true health of my body. I understand now that if this doesn’t change, I will never lose all the weight that I need to. This is my goal for these 30 days: changing my mindset and changing my life.” — Sara K., Whole30 Day by Day

What’s Actually Happening

During week three (can you believe it?!) you are still adapting. You have a groove, for image.pngsure. I like to think of the ego right now sitting in time out with it’s arms tightly crossed, smirk on its face, just tapping it’s foot, plotting. Like it’s saying, “Okay fine. I’ll let her do her ‘Indigo30 thing’ (in a snarky tone with and eye-roll and air quotes). She will be back. And when she is, we are going back to how it used to be, when I was in charge of her decisions and self-worth. And I will entice her by reminding her that she deserves that glass of wine and coconut cream pie, and everyone around her is WRONG.”

No, we aren’t going to let that happen. Ego may be sitting there tapping its foot, but the truth is, it’s hanging on for dear life. It knows its days are numbered now that you have control over your health. It may deliver some sucker punches as it tries to claw its way back — like cravings, negative self-talk or making you question yourself. But you have the tools now: phone a friend and get to your mat. STAT.

Now as long as I am ranting about reasonable expectations and being real with how things actually are versus the story, I think it’s good to address this question: What if, after these two weeks, you haven’t noticed much happening? Nothing miraculous, nothing huge, nothing out of the ordinary or surprising. You may be asking, is this Indigo30 thing really working?

First, it’s an absolutely fair question to ask. So think about the math equation again. Some of you came in already having done yoga for quite some time. And your diet might have already been relatively clean. So your equation is going to be pretty simple — you will just keep getting cleaner and stronger, but it’s also possible that your “progress” feels  smaller and slower because you were already pretty far along to begin with. This program, this time, has put you into what I call “refinement mode” or “polishing mode,” where your focus becomes even more detailed and specific. It’s like when you’ve been doing a yoga pose for a few years — and the teacher has you move your knee one half-inch to the right. To the beginner that would be silly if the rest of the pose was all over the place. But to the more intermediate student, that half-inch is refinement, and it can change the pose entirely for someone who is advanced. If your equation is different, say you’ve never done yoga or you were drinking soda pop every day or whatever that might look like — your results will vary as well. If you had a fair amount of weight to lose, it’s likely that you’ve lost a bunch already. And remember — please, please remember — IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS. Your body is literally healing and fixing itself and can finally function effectively, like it was designed to do from the months and years and DECADES of dietary abuse. You cannot expect it to be totally transformed in 2 weeks after years of neglect. It’s put up with a lot of your negligent shit for a long time. And a good portion of it is probably stuck in your lower intestine.

However, check this out, just because. If you are not seeing results, ask:

  • Is your food quality truly 100% Whole30-approved? A few small diversions (a single nibble of a cookie here, a splash of cream in your coffee there, and that one half-glass of vino when you really needed it after that grueling day at work, those few days you “took off” from yoga because gosh, you were tired …) All of this, even just the singular events themselves, are more than plenty to impede your progress. The program must be completed with 100% food quality and consistent yoga practice for the full 30 days for optimal results. My teacher, Baron Baptiste, usually says this at the beginning of a training, “You will either do this program, or your program. If you do this program, you will get certain results. If you do your program, you will get the same results you’ve been getting your whole life.”  …Sobering, huh.
  • Are you eating regularly? If you are cheating yourself out of meals you are cheating yourself of valuable nutrients by eating too little or too infrequently. And because you are doing yoga every day, I’m telling you — you won’t make it through class if you don’t have fuel. I’ve done this to myself a few times, not on purpose but because my brain runs so fast that I forget to eat. I am strong and practiced, but when my diet is this squeaky clean, I need to nourish a lot more regularly; if I don’t, even I’m in child’s pose seeing stars. Not good or smart.
  • Are you adding plenty of good fat to each meal? Straight up, y’all: if you skip this you simply will not have enough energy to keep going or think straight. Fat is image.pngGOOD. Fat is your friend! Maybe think “PHAT” instead and you will like it more. Same with good carbohydrate. I am not going to even say add in more say “especially if you are active,” because if you are doing yoga every day, you are beyond active. You are busting ass. So feed your body properly – add in sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin… all great fuel sources.
  • Are you sleeping enough? Lack of sleep affects hormone and stress levels, which as we have learned, absolutely, 100% affect body composition.
  • Are you exercising too much? I know we challenge you to get on your mat a lot, but are you doing other workouts as well? Are you maxing your practice every time you go to yoga? You must pace for the long haul and always aim for balance.
  • Do you have an underlying medical condition that could potentially be affecting hormone levels, energy production, etc?
  • Are you stressed? I don’t have to explain. You know.

If you can honestly, completely say that you have ALL of these factors in line, then my answer is not only irritating but probably what you need to hear and practice above everything else you’ve learned: be patient. Many people report that it truly did take the whole 30 days (and even then some, remember Melissa Hartwig’s testimonial?) to feel the magic. Let the journey unfold. You are a complex, complicated being. It’s good to have some goals, but let the results and enlightenment come when it’s all ready to reveal itself. If you do your math right, your answers will be exactly what they are supposed to be.

Keep going.

B

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Indigo30 DAY 11: The Stages of Change

Welcome to Day 11. I’ve armed you with tools, tips and tricks. We’ve talked recipes and ideas and hacks. I’ve stayed consistent with my message about balance, which can always be found on your mat and in your heart. For all practical purposes, you have what you need to keep going. The thing is, you are entering into a phase of the program that will push you in different realms, realms that can’t be soothed with some Magic Mushroom Powder or epsom salts. Your mood and emotions are one of the last-ditch efforts that your habits and your ego will call on when your will and determination are finally getting ahead. Social pressure will add to the dynamic, and it may only take once to hear, “Are you STILL doing that diet/yoga thing?” to make you cave to frustration, resentment, righteousness or dissolution.

Not everyone is going to love the Indigo30. Some of you are downright bummed out, disappointed and just plain irritated. It’s not what you expected and it’s not what you signed up for. Except that it is. But maybe the change that is occurring isn’t the change you had imagined.

Change is hard. No one likes it unless they choose it voluntarily. Let’s dissect change for a moment so you can see how it affects you, step by step.

The Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was developed by James O. Prochaska of the University of Rhode Island, Carlo Di Clemente and colleagues  beginning in 1977. It is based on analysis and the use of different theories of psychotherapy. The basic idea is that behavior doesn’t happen in just one step. People tend to progress through specific stages on their way to change, and each of us moves at a different pace. Sometimes, we go backwards and have to repeat a step over and over. In fact, some people never totally progress because they get stuck in a certain step and aren’t willing to do the uncomfortable and demanding work it takes to step off the hamster wheel, so to speak. And, trying to give someone advice or consequences for one stage while they are still in another … well, it simply doesn’t work; they aren’t ready. You’ve all experienced this yourself. If you’ve ever said, “Why couldn’t I see it when it was happening?” you know what I’m talking about and how it feels. It’s a hindsight thing. You just weren’t ready.

In each stage of change, we have to wrangle and wrestle with different issues. Messages will be heard differently, advice will be heeded or ignored, and conversation can either be considered, threaten, or dismiss. Knowing what stage you are in with certain things will also help you more insightfully understand which stage those around you in; and when you know this piece of information, your communication can be tailored in a way that’s more effective.

The Five Stages of Change include:

  1. Precontemplation. This is the first stage, and it’s when people are not yet acknowledging that there is a problematic behavior that needs to be adjusted, modified, replaced or totally stopped. People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habit(s) and do not feel it is a problem (sometimes it’s even your problem). They may be defensive in the face of other people’s efforts to pressure them to quit or modify. They do not focus their attention on quitting and tend not to discuss their bad habit with others. In some addiction circles, this stage is also called denial.
  2. Contemplation. Okay, so, there’s a problem. And, the person is still not sure they are ready to change. Here is when people have a bit more awareness that there might, af8b174b4c3132bee8fb6cc65345d8cb.jpgjust, perhaps be some consequences and even might spend some time thinking about the problem… but still aren’t ready to do anything about it. They weigh pros and cons, they may even consider the long-term impact, but are still not totally on board to lay down the habit and take any action. Overall they do not see yet that any benefits associated with the quitting or reduction of the habit will outweigh the short-term costs.
  3. Action/Willpower. Change occurs. Often because something drastic, some dramatic consequence, a serious wake-up call, or some impactful incident occurs that shifts the dynamic overall. It doesn’t always have to be negative, in fact, sometimes people move into the third stage because of something inspirational or even a program like the Indigo30, where others are participating and there is a new level of accountability. Nonetheless, the person believes they have the ability to change their behavior and are actively involved in taking steps to change. This is a miraculous stage, because it is when people start depending on their own willpower, versus the power of the default behavior. Overt efforts are made to quit or change the old habit. This is also the time when there is the greatest risk of relapse, so it’s imperative that whatever steps have been taken and the support that has been built stay intact so the person can leverage them and stay motivated.
  4. Maintenance. Ongoing, daily maintenance of the new habit is the ritual of this stage. Not only are the rituals maintained, but so is the willpower to avoid temptation and return to old ways. The goal of the maintenance stages is to maintain the new status quo. Progress made is a constant reminder. What one is striving for has purpose and meaning. Patience is a strong thread in the fabric of maintenance, as the person in this stage knows that it takes time to let go of old behaviors and successfully maintain new ones. Thoughts of “how I used to be” and old habits will regularly occur, but at this point, temptation is resisted.

You can probably categorize yourself as well as the people around you, witnessing your stage. Some don’t want to hear one word about what you are doing (they are in a precontemplation stage). Others may be asking you questions, and at the same time, challenging your responses — they doubt the process, argue their position and defend their behaviors (contemplation). Others are carefully watching and taking notes, gathering information and probably even planning their own journey to change. This is important for them; just as our pre-program week of preparation was for you. Diving in head first to behavior change (“cold turkey”) works for a few, but not for most. These folks are in an action stage. And finally and most excitedly, you may have people in your life who are really interested and want you to teach them what you are learning. They are committed and motivated — by you! They are in a maintenance stage.

Now remember — this stuff doesn’t just happen on its own. The habits, the behaviors and all of the effects have had lots of time to simmer. And when you cook it all down to its base, what you are left with is simple but powerful and all-encompassing for many: fear. Think about it for a moment — why, if change is something (the Indigo30, for example) that will only benefit you, make your life better, help you achieve things you never thought possible, improve all aspects of your life — why would anyone be so incredibly stubborn and reluctant to give up old patterns? In a word, fear.

Fear of admission — If you admit you have a problem, then by default, you acknowledge that you need to do something about it. Change is uncomfortable, but for many, mediocrity, status quo and old ways of being, while unproductive, ineffective, painful and even depressing, still may feel easier.

Fear of failure — Some people have tried so many times to lose weight, fix their health issues and problems, and what we see most — exercise more and eat less (only to end up eating more and exercising less) — that they consider each attempt a bona fide failure, whether they actually made progress or not. Failure in its actuality sucks for sure. The proposition of repeating it over and over is terrifying.

Fear of success — Oh yes, this is such an interesting one. So… what happens if I actually succeed? What kind of new pressures does that put on me to maintain? Some people have assigned their illness, their weight, and their health issues as their identity. So imagine what kind of life shift not even knowing who you are anymore is for someone who has attached so completely and entirely to their weight as identity, or their illness as who they are as a person. What if you suddenly had to change your name? It would be as if the old you just vanished; and with it all the stories, all the history, all the reasons to behave how you do. So when you are no longer Overweight-Mark or Tired-Jenny or In-Pain-Jane, the prospect of losing the story and the payoffs of attention, sympathy, lack of responsibility you get from that story/identity — is a big trade-in.

Fear of responsibility — From the trade-in I just spoke of, also comes a new responsibility that some people simply aren’t wanting or willing to take on. To accept the idea that they could feel better by changing their diet and lifestyle is to accept the fact that their own actions in part could have contributed to their illness or health condition — and owning that is not only difficult, but takes a huge amount of bravery and vulnerability.

________

In yoga class, I often remind my students to remember that all of the stuff I teach them is, in fact, just information. Ultimately, they get to decide what to do or not to do with it. It’s the same with this. You will, undoubtedly, go through some of these stages, if you haven’t already. Knowing that there are actually stages at all will calibrate your dial, even if you do nothing at all to progress yourself through them.

In the end, you just get up each morning and give it your best shot. I imagine all of you, deep down, are aiming to just keep learning and be a better human overall. I am too. Today I had a wild moment of insight while talking to a friend about a pattern I have of rescuing. I said to her, “Do I attract it? Am I drawn to it for selfish purposes? Do I need it to feel needed? Do I want it? Or is it … (I sat there for several seconds) … is it just a default behavior?”  I walked away from that conversation feeling somewhat more consciously evolved because I took a moment to look at myself and question my own interpersonal pattern, and went a step further and verbalized it to a friend, which made it real, and made me own it. There was no solution or answer; but the acknowledgment of it was likely a step I needed. Now perhaps, with that aspect of my life, I will move into a new stage — the action stage — and not rescue the wounded (ooohhhhh it’s gonna be hard.)

So take this information and let it distill. Be gentle with yourself if you are still in stages 1 and 2, and call on your people if you need help. Lead by quiet example and be confident in your choices to the best of your ability. Seek socialization, not isolation, unless you can feel in your bones that you need to ground and restore on your own.

And, above all, keep going.

B

Indigo30 DAY 7: One week (almost) in the bag

Today when you wake up, you will think, “I’ve made it one week!” But hang on there, you still have today to complete before you have a whole week in the bag. But when the day ends, and you crushed your goals AGAIN, you will sleep like a baby.

A lot of information has been thrown at you in the last 2 weeks, really, so let’s use today as a good day to assess how things are going. The first thing you should do is high five yourself, because a week is a lot longer than the majority will endure. So here is a chance to reward yourself with something that is not food — because remember — what we are working to shift in perception and decades of thinking is that food is neither reward nor punishment. Think of something out of the box that would make you feel like you are celebrating a great success. A nap, a pedicure, a stroll with a friend you haven’t seen in months, maybe even a new yoga mat!

The second thing to do is put your food brain in time out for a few, and think about what’s going on in your life.

________

How is your family? Have you checked in with them this past week?

image.pngWhat core feelings do you notice coming up the most (joy, anger, fear, sadness, disappointment, acceptance)?

How do you feel in the middle of your yoga practice (Like it goes by fast? Like it’s dragging on? Like you’re hearing your teacher for the first time? Like you think your teacher will never shut the hell up? Like the people next to you seem to be doing it better? Like you’re feeling stronger? Like the guy in the corner is making weird noises? Like you notice you’re sweating like never before?)  — Have you ever really thought about these things this deeply? Or have you just slid on the surface of, “It was great!” or, “It was hot,” or, “It was hard.”

If you’ve taken a restorative class — how did that go? Were you surprisingly content and floating on air or were you agitated and counting all the reasons why you will never come again?

What are your conversations like right now?

The third thing to do, is seriously consider adding in meditation to your routine. I know it’s scary. I know that some people think that if you “meditate” that suddenly the dark forces will swallow you up and snakes will come out of baskets and Pink Floyd will suddenly be coming over speakers that magically appeared because after all, magic. Well, as cool as that actually might be if any of it were real, it’s not. Here is what meditation is, folks. It’s image.pngsitting quietly and still. Sorry to disappoint.

What is not disappointing are the volumes of scientific research that is currently being produced about the positive effects of mediation on stress and overall wellbeing. VOLUMES. Every single Psychology Today issue (I subscribe, I know) has some kind of article talking about what mindfulness is doing for … well … everyone everywhere. If you are stuck in the old, and pardon me, ignorant thinking that it has some kind of religious affiliation or leaning then I beg of you — beg — to consider that you have been wrong all along. All it is, is just getting still. Still enough to let your thoughts clear so that you have the capacity to discern fiction from reality and then face your day working with what’s real, and not the fantasy stories you’ve created about things. Five minutes a day. That’s all I ask.

And after those five minutes — you will be able to get flat with how you are showing up for the program. Like really. Take a look at the “common errors” below (after sitting quietly for a few minutes) and answer them honestly. And if you’ve derailed at all, let the moment you finish reading this blog be the moment you start fresh again.

________

On this day, Day 7, Whole30 will also ask us if we are making a few common errors. I call it  “clean up” coaching, and I do the same thing with my team of teachers when we all adopt some slightly lazy techniques or cues, and need some outside perspective to keep us sharp going in the direction we intended. Are you making any of these common errors?

  1. “It’s a technicality.” — Technically Paleo foods like Paleo pancakes, almond flour brownies and sweet potato fries don’t promote a healthy psychological response or maximize nutrition. They are satisfying your sweet or fried food tooth … still. So your habit is not changing. And we have learned a thing or two about habits. In order to change them, you have to identify the behavior. In this case, the behavior is eating a treat as a reward.
  2. The wrong fats — Too many nuts, seeds, <and nut butters> equals too many fragile polyunsaturated fats, which may promote inflammation in the body. I know they are easy to pack in your bag and stash in your car. But recall that we are working to not snack so much, and re-train ourselves to eat actual meals. Having nuts in all corners of your life can be as much of a mindless eating frenzy as chips or candy.
  3. Eat more — Energy dragging, but still afraid of fat or carbs? Eating enough of both sustains energy levels, healthy and athletic performance. On the Whole30, we are not trying to restrict; we are not counting macros or carbs or calories or grams of anything. If you are hungry — genuinely hungry — then please just eat. Those gram counting days need to be laid to rest for good. Which leads me to the next error…
  4. By-the-numbers — You’re so focused on your “numbers” — blocks, grams, calories, or the big one — body weight — that you override all of the messages your body is trying to send you. You know, this one is one of those that I feel very divided on. I know the struggle is real. I have never been really heavy, but I have definitely had times in my life when I had about 10-20 more pounds of weight on me than I needed and it didn’t feel good. So I know that it’s not another one of those “quit complaining and be grateful for your health” conversations, because when you’re really in it, it’s all you can think about. And, you are the only one who can decide to shift the mentality and thinking. The more you obsess over your weight, the more you won’t focus on anything else. Your friends and family and coworkers will start to tire of every conversation being about weight loss, and start tuning you out, and then you will feel like they don’t care, and probably start obsessing more. Friends, if you are really struggling, I highly encourage you to find a personal coach or therapist to help you get a handle on the thoughts and help you through this process. If you need to speak about it privately, please do not hesitate to contact me. And, if you are just mildly obsessing because it’s just old habit, then perhaps these 30 days can be a new chapter for you. You know the anatomy of a habit now; see if you can shift the routine from one of being dominated by the contained life of numbers to being dominated by creative, malleable, accepting healthy living and communicating. I promise you, it’s a lot more fun out here!
  5. Nature’s candy — Using the “natural” sugars found in fruit to satisfy your sugar cravings is recipe for more sugar cravings, and maybe too much sugar. It’s about Day 7-9 or so when the thrill of the program is wearing off a little, and the old habits are starting to crawl their way back … don’t be fooled just because you are discovering new, compliant sweet foods! Watch your patterns. Be mindful.
  6. You’re already starting to plan “off days” of yoga because, damn, you’re tired and deserve a break. Listen here yogis, I am not asking you to run a marathon every day. I am asking you to get on your mat every day. YOUR YOGA MAT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. You know, the one that you keep at your swanky yoga studio, the one that, when you walk in, everyone treats you like Norm at Cheers, but instead of a beer you get hugs and high fives and a fluffy dog is running around wiggling, excited to see you. Oh! And then, you get to go into a super nice locker room and store all your things and then — here’s the torturous part, I know — you have to go into a lovely, peaceful yoga room that smells like eucalyptus and peppermint and move your body around, which, improves your circulation, strengthens your muscles, clears your skin, makes you happier, and lets you just be you and not worry about anything else for a solid hour. The teachers don’t even care if you just lay there the whole time. In fact, if you take a break, they might just pat your back or put a cool, lavender-scented towel on your forehead.  Listen, I know it’s rough. I hope you can survive it.

All right all right, no more sarcasm. I’m just trying to make you laugh. So do this: let today image.pngbe a check in or a pep talk or a self-coaching butt-kicking if you need one. Walk up to your mirror, like I taught you to do a few blogs ago, and say, “Self, you’ve (insert expletive if necessary) got this. Now get out there and make it happen.”

Keep going.

B

Indigo30 DAY 5: You used to like the weekend…

…and now you are dreading it.

You are worried about the football games (how will I tailgate without a cocktail in my monogrammed Yeti?)

You are worried about not being able to fully enjoy the movie (it’s not the same without popcorn and a Coke, so why bother?)

You are worried about the buffet of junk food in the break room to celebrate another 40 hours on the clock (but I really deserve it, this week was hard enough already.)

You are worried about your friends and family (they will tease me, they will question me, they will pressure me.)

In a lot of ways, what you are worried about is just good old-fashioned peer pressure. Because when you think about the reality of what’s happening right now, which is simply that you are choosing to clean up your nutrition and do yoga for 30 days (like, f’real — that’s it) the idea of someone shaming you, belittling you, making you feel badly about yourself or awkward, different, and excluded is just a downright bully move. And what do we know about bullies? We know that the only reason they make others feel badly is because they are feeling insecure, threatened, jealous or out of control themselves, and for whatever reason, from upbringing to trauma to social constructs, the way they deal with that discomfort is to make someone else feel small and inadequate. I wish I could give you the whole, “We aren’t in seventh grade anymore, so just suck it up” speech, but bullying is just as alive and real in adulthood as it is in middle school. It’s just a lot more polished and manipulative. And it can happen even with something as innocuous as changing how you eat.

Now it might not be so much peer pressure for you as it might be a feeling of “I deserve to let loose,” or “I deserve to have a cheat day,” or whatever other tales your ego is spinning right now about how you deserve the pleasure even at the cost of all you have already invested. Or, let’s be honest; you just don’t want to be left out. Maybe your friends and family fully support your endeavors, but they sure seem to be having a lot more fun than you are right now.

No matter what your circumstance, one of the biggest challenges and stressors of the Whole30 (not necessarily the Indigo30 with it’s addition of yoga everyday, but rather the food portion of this program) is navigating social situations. It’s not just the weekend, either; it’s pretty much anytime outside of a normal work or school day. Evenings, date nights, office parties, office break rooms, holidays, sporting events and even just stressful times when an average go-to is some kind of social happy hour.

I have a friend who is a dare-devil. He is almost 70 years old and has done ten lifetimes of amazing stuff that I will probably never see the likes of. I love hearing his stories of adventure and near misses. But the one thing he won’t do is skydive.

“If I’m going out (as in death), I’m not going out like that,” (laughing, like this is normal conversation). “I want to be doing something epic; not just splatting to the earth in a matter of minutes. I’ve worked too hard and too long to go out that stupidly.”

I think about the Whole30 like that. If I’m going to blow it, I am going to blow it in a big, epic way. Like by having a 5-star meal at a Michelin restaurant wearing an incredible dress and my highest heels. Or by eating red velvet cake at Harrod’s in London on my birthday (I did that during a Whole30 for my 44th, and it was totally worth it, and almost worth the blasting headache I had the next morning.) Or by eating the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that my little guy made for me as a surprise when I got home from a long work day because he says he sees how hard I work and wanted to do something sweet for me. You guys, those are legit reasons to derail. A cheap beer in a styrofoam cup at the TCU game is not. Buffalo wings with your fair-weather office friends are not. A handful of M&Ms that you threw in your mouth wihtout thinking just because it’s daily habit, is not. Those things are absolutely, 100% not worth feeling like complete and total crap AND being disappointed in yourself AND, technically, having to start over.

Now it may be the easy way out, but you must admit — staying home — works.  Look, it’s not like we are asking you to suddenly become a hermit or develop an onset case of agoraphobia. But, you’d be surprised what can start to happen in your personal space when you swap those weekend nights out with home time that’s not under the influence of anything but whole food and consistent yoga. As I sit here and write, I am an example. I wanted to give my Indigo30 participants something new this year, something fresh, and something straight from my heart. I wanted to be in totally new creation. Instead of just forwarding all of the Whole30 daily newsletters (which you’ve all already gotten for two years in a row) I challenged myself to write my own daily blog about this entire experience. 35 blogs in 35 days. Each takes me about 2-3 hours a day, depending on what kind of research I am putting into it. Because like many, I get my kids up at 6am, get them to school, work all day, do all the mom and kid stuff from 4-10pm and finally get them to bed, the only time I have to write is between 11pm and 6am. Not ideal. But the only option.

I thought real hard about trying to do it ahead of time, but 1- I’m just not that good at doing things ahead of time 2- I just don’t have extra time to do things ahead of time and 3- if I did it ahead of time, I wouldn’t be able to share what I’m experiencing in the moment, each day, just like you. I’d pretty much be guessing or knocking off what the internet says and just making things up about both of us. So I gave myself a big goal: add 2-3 hours of work per day to my schedule of parenting two boys, running a company of nearly 60 employees and hundreds of daily students, teaching yoga, keeping up my own daily personal yoga practice and managing life in general. You know, because I still have to like go to the grocery store and take the dog to the vet and get the oil changed in my car. And shower periodically. And I knew that the only way I could do this is if I was not drinking, not eating any sugar or processed food, not loading up coffee with cream and syrups, and not eating late at night after having not eaten all day. I knew that the only way I could fully give to you, is if I fully took care of myself.

So listen, not only could this be a time for you to clean house nutritionally and immerse yourself in yoga commitment, it could be a time when you shut out the distractions of social life and pressures and buckle down on something you’ve always wanted to do. This is as clear-headed as you will ever be, during these 30 days. Why not carpe diem that shit?

In the meantime, because I know some things can’t be avoided, here are some tips for social situations.

• Eat before you go, or bring your own food. Bringing your own food can be dodgy and invite criticism, eye-rolling or teasing, so just be prepared. Might be better to just eat before you go.

• Order club soda with a lime and mint in a fancy cocktail glass. I absolutely 100% promise you, no one is going to question you. They’ll probably just think it’s vodka anyway. Now you look like everyone else! And guess what, the bubbles kind of perk you up!

• Just tell the truth. If you downplay your endeavor, others will downplay your endeavor. If you tell others how great you feel and how far you’ve come, you do something most aren’t expecting — you invite, include and inspire.

• When you get home, congratulate yourself! Have one of your favorite, super-special Whole30 snacks waiting, your so-comfy jams laid out, and Netflix queued up (remember, you need to have a reward to lock down the anticipation and the craving for the excitement of the new habit). And then, my friend, sleep with the angels, knowing you are going to wake up tomorrow feeling like a damn superhero while all the party peeps are hungover and late to yoga.

• Talk to your friends. Ask for their support in earnest. Let them know that their teasing and sarcasm doesn’t empower you or anyone else. Be honest. You never know, they may just open up and ask you to help them.

• Best bit of advice when you are in a social setting and someone offers you a drink or off-limits bite? Say, “No, thank you.” And move on.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Brooke’s Besties!

Mocktails are actually kind of fun, they taste amazing, and can really take the place of that glass-in-hand thing we can sometimes feel we need in social settings. Here is a great recipe from the Whole30 book (page 391) that we’ve tried and give our vote!

IMG_3602Rosemary Berry Smash (serves 2, prep time 5 minutes)

1/4 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1/2 lemon, juiced

12 ounces sparkling water

_________

Muddle raspberries and rosemary leaves (removed from stem) in a large glass. Add the lemon juice and sparkling water, and shake or mix thoroughly. Strain the misture into a new glass, discarding the rosemary leaves. Add ice if desired.

*Muddle means to press ingredients against the side or bottom of the glass to release the flavor. You can buy a muddler or use the heavy end of a butter knfe or the round end of a wooden spoon.

_________

Way to crush your first 4 days, Indigos. Keep going.

B

Indigo30 Day 4: Wild-eyed and drooling

ADMISSION: I love gummy worms. The Black Forest kind that you can only get at Tom Thumb or Walgreens, the ones that are so soft and chewy. And today, I craved them like the desert craves the rain.

Okay it wasn’t quite that dramatic. But gosh at about 2pm, they sure did sound better than the carrots that were sitting all perky and bright in the Ziplock in my bag.

No doubt, you had some cravings today too. The cravings were either like someone annoyingly tugging at your sleeve or left you all wild-eyed and drooling, wanting to ravage the pantry in search of relief. No amount of “You should go to yoga” can temper a craving at its height; in fact, those five words can sometimes send you diving head first into the canister of sugar, even if just out of sheer defiance. I wish I could say that these days will be the only days you will find yourself longing for something currently forbidden, but they will likely be with you for the duration of your Indigo30 and beyond. Yes, yoga will definitely help, as will other distractions, like taking a walk, calling a friend, taking a nap, or brushing your teeth. But here is the clincher, my friends. If your habits are strong enough, if you have repeated them enough times, no amount of image6.pngdistraction will help. Your brain has learned that getting something desirable comes from a certain cue — i.e., “If you get an A on this test, we will get ice cream!” (see how early it starts?) or, “If I make it to Friday (or just to 5 o’clock) I get a cocktail,” or, “If I feel lonely, I will go shopping,” or, “When I hear my phone ding, I will stop everything to look at it.”  The real problem comes from when you get the cue and you don’t get the reward you are used to or anticipate getting. The result is a neurological pattern associated with desire AND frustration exploding in your mind. If the happiness you are used to getting from a certain thing doesn’t arrive, that happiness transforms into a craving that, if unsatisfied, turns to anger or depression. And no amount of distraction will seduce a strongly anticipated reward and its subsequent thirst. No amount of love, devotion, support or help can compete with the absolute stronghold of a craving.  This is exactly why habits are so powerful — they change our neurology. They construct neurological cravings. So when people quip, “Oh it’s just all in your head,” the irony is, they are right.

“There is nothing programmed into our brains that makes us see a box of doughnuts and automatically want a sugary treat. But once our brain learns that a doughnut contains yummy sugar and other carbohydrates, it will start anticipating the sugar high. Our brains will push us toward the box. Then, if we don’t eat the doughnut, we feel disappointed.” — (Wolfram Schultz, professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge).

It’s like the brain is in the honeymoon phase when it learns to anticipate the reward. It’s all fun and games until the toilet seat gets left up and you fall in.

Don’t lose hope just yet. You do and can have power over your cravings. There are tools and practices we can learn that can help us ignore the temptations. But the only way to suppress the habit is to identify which craving drives the behavior. We have to have awareness of the anticipation — a consciousness of it — we are at its complete mercy. And then, you have to have a plan to create a new habit.

If you want to go to early morning yoga every day, you have to chose a simple cue (like laying out your yoga clothes the night before) and a clear reward (a green star on the star chart). Seems simple enough. But that is not actually enough to make the habit last. Only when your brain starts to anticipate and expect the reward of the green star and thus craves the endorphins of excitement and sense of achievement, will it become nearly unconscious, or automatic, to lay out your clothes each night and go to yoga in the morning.

Burn this into your craving, lusting, habit-hungry/reward-crazed brains: THE CUE, IN ADDITION TO A TRIGGERING ROUTINE, MUST ALSO TRIGGER A CRAVING FOR THE REWARD TO COME. So for those of you who could seriously care less about a star on a chart? We need to find you a different reward. STAT. Or you won’t develop a craving for the reward of accomplishment, and you will give up, eventually, searching out something different that drives a zealous anticipation and a powerful craving.

None of this is going to happen overnight, so do me a big favor and right now, just take a deep breath. You are in a discovery phase, and these phases of personal growth can feel so overwhelming — the new routines, the new information, the new expectations. You are going to have days when grit will not win over grief. And it’s okay. What I can promise you is this: in the recesses of your mind and soul, you will remember these things. And when you are ready, which many of you are already, you will soak this up and keep going, no matter how many times you backpedal. You will call on your reserves and the people walking right beside you, going through the same things, and you will keep trying, until you come to a time when you no longer have to try so hard. When making a food decision won’t be such a negotiation. When getting up to hit the redeye class isn’t a chore, but a gift. When joy doesn’t come from a star, but from your kid or your spouse or even a stranger looking into your eyes and saying how much you inspire them. And then you will know that you have transformed into a better version of you. But it won’t come without having to tough it out, over and over again.

Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned. — Tony Dungy

KEEP GOING,

B

Indigo30 DAY 2: Your brain on Indigo30

“The only way out is through.”

My teacher, Baron Baptiste, has been quoted to say many things. But this is probably in his top five. And nothing could be more true. You probably read in the books, and saw on the calendar that today is Day 2, but it’s Hangover Day 1. And for most of us, we know what that means; the only thing that will make it better is time. It may seem like more of what you used to eat would make everything better, but if we are using the analogy of a hangover, then we know where more of what’s not good for us eventually leads…

I know that may seem dramatic, but the parallels are not that far off. Reaching for food to numb out, to self-soothe, to distract, to fill a void — these are not new concepts in any realm of addiction. And even if you know nothing about the topic, you do know that the only way out is through. So this is where you have to dig in deep, and find the fighter within, and not cave to the crave.

As I have mentioned before, this program is about a lot more than food and meal planning. It’s also about education. So to understand the stripped down basics of what’s happening neurologically on Days 2-3, let’s look at how the brain forms a habit.

Humans — our brains, actually — do not like uncertainty. Even reading the word, uncertainty, probably makes you feel a level of stress. To deal with this anxiety, the brain will begin looking for something — a cue — that gives it a sense of pattern. A cue is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and choose a habit you have already formed. It could be the time of day, the route you drive, the way a co-worker speaks to you or it could be breaking up a fight between your kids for the millionth time. It could be the grade you get on a test or if/when your partner texts you, “Good Morning!” After imageyour brain identifies the cue, then it has a routine, which can be emotional or physical. The time of day — hearing the alarm, for example — is the cue, and the routine, perhaps, is to moan and groan and hit snooze, even though you know that hitting snooze will make you late. The brain isn’t stupid… it’s only doing this routine bit for one thing, and that is a reward (in this case, more sleep and the potential satisfaction of being able to complain about having to get up). A reward helps your brain figure out if the whole song and dance is even worth it. Worth what, you ask? Worth remembering. 

As time goes on, this “habit loop” becomes default; it becomes so automatic that no actual consideration on our part at all is needed. The cue and the reward become so enmeshed that something new is created — anticipation. And from that anticipation comes craving, and not just a oh-yum-thats-good craving, it’s an I-NEED-THIS-NOW craving. And, eventually, a habit is born.

This all sounds kind of bleak. But remember — just like most things in life, there are usually two sides to things. There are good habits and bad habits. All habits can be changed, ignored or replaced. It’s important to understand the loop — the process behind how a habit is formed — so you can be more aware when one is forming or … as you will discover today, tomorrow and maybe even on Day 4 … when you are letting one go. What will be a game changer for you is a basic truth about how your brain works: when a habit is created, your brain takes a break. It literally stops fully participating in decision making. It says, “Oh cool, her habit has this. I’m going to go focus now on the stuff that isn’t automatic.” So unless you deliberately break a habit down, like you are going to do today and maybe even for the duration of your Indigo30 by experiencing and adopting new routines, the pattern will simply be your default. Knowing this about yourself will ultimately make the habit easier to control. Knowing this means you now have the keys to the kingdom. So the bigger question is, will you use them?

The first thing you can do is just acknowledge where you are. “The amount of suck you are feeling today is in direct proportion to the amount of junk you ate before your Whole 30 began…” (Melissa Hartwig, Whole30 Day by Day). And, “the amount of suck you may feel in your yoga practice is in direct relation to the amount of junk you ate before your Indigo30 began, and the amount of time you did or didn’t spend on your mat before your Indigo30 began.” (Brooke Hamblet, Day 2 Hangover Blog). So here’s the thing … either beat yourself up about it and waste a bunch of time or just don’t. Cutting yourself down is a habit too, and one that is not doing a bit of good for anyone, anywhere. There is absolutely nothing inspiring about self-deprecation or self-beat. In fact, it just makes everything harder and more uncomfortable for you and those around you. So, the second thing to do, instead of throwing the pity party and the flirting with the give-ups, is say this to yourself:

“Self, you got yourself here. Now it’s time to climb out, and on the way out, PAY ATTENTION: there are lessons everywhere.” Like this one: your “hangover” is actually a miraculous transformation — it is an absolutely normal and expected experience as your body starts to transition from being sugar-dependent to being a fat burning power machine. image.pngAnd what’s even better is this: it won’t last forever. So if you feel terrible, you have two choices: you can either complain and be a victim to it, or you can realize that your body is actually HEALING ITSELF. Then you can talk to your brain and say, “Brain, listen up. I’m not playing your BS habit game anymore. I’m onto you, and guess what, I’m not feeding your dumb loop any longer. You either take care of the good loops or we will have to go through this all over again UNTIL YOU GET IT.”

One last thing. Melissa Hartwig mentions, in the Whole30 Day  By Day Journal, that “habit experts say the key to staying motivated and feeling rewarded by your efforts is setting small mini-goals — achievable daily goals that give you the feeling of a ‘win.'” This, my friends, is the magic of the star chart at our studio. That little sticker is not just a sticker — it is a badge of success. And it’s not just the sticker that is the win;  it’s the action of putting the sticker on the chart, where others can witness your hard work — that makes the sticker so powerful. If it works for you at Indigo, have one at home (you can get them at any hobby or teacher supply store, or make one — or have your kids make you one!) that helps you take the program one day at a time, not 30 in one gulp. Small wins every day add up. That is how you build a healthy loop with a healthy cue, a healthy routine and a healthy reward: a lifetime of strength, vitality and inspiration. And by the way, your kids (even the ones who aren’t yours) are watching you and your habits. Make them proud.

Keep going.

B