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 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: T-1. This is it!

Are you worried? Are you nervous? Are you excited? Are you ready?!

I hope that all the things we have done in the last week have adequately prepared you for tomorrow and the next 30 days. We have learned that the Pre-Program Meeting and the week of preparation is vital to the success of the program. If there is any lingering questions or concerns, we are here for you!

IMG_3297No matter what you’re feeling, on this day before go-time, I hope you smile and laugh and realize you are one lucky rascal, to have the time, resources, mentorship and opportunity to do the Indigo30. No matter what it took to get here, you are here now, and your canvas is blank. Your path is clear. You are worth this investment, this commitment. You are worth my pouring into you, all the things I’ve learned over the years. You are worth the support of this loving community. You are worth another chance at taking control of your life — one of greatness and strength. You are worth a massive triumph, a big win.

Today my message is short and sweet. After you read this, sit down, close your eyes and let gratitude wash over. Feel your feet and your hands and your heart beat beneath your chest. Let your nerves remind you that you are alive and that you care deeply about your what you are doing. (This is actually called “meditation,” but we can talk about that more later. For now just “sit and breathe and smile.”)

Then, get your butt to yoga. Do not put it off until tomorrow. Jumpstart this sucker. Show ’em WHO’S BOSS.

I will see you at the start gate TOMORROW!!!!

GAME ON!

BIMG_3309

 

Indigo30: T-4. Meal Planning & The Middle Way

You eat 84 times a month. That’s 84 times you may get stuck without a plan, and 84 times you might reach for a latte and a cake pop instead.

Some of you are planners; you plan every moment of every day, and are not very happy when life skews off of your checklist. Others of you are tumbleweeds, rolling along and adapting to whatever turn or bump comes your way. Most of us are somewhere in between, shifting around between OCD and whatevs. All of us probably want to be better at finding that middle road — having a plan, not feeling unprepared, but fluid enough to be able to adapt if needed. That is really the heart of this program and what our goal is not only with our nutrition, but with our yoga; to find the Middle Way. One of my teachers, Tias Little, says this: “The Middle Way is a place free from extremes, extremes that polarize, isolate and cause imbalance.”

Free from extremes that polarize.

One way I can help you safely and comfortably walk down the middle of this program is by teaching you to think ahead with enough enthusiasm that you aren’t left having to be a victim to your reactions.

A wonderful tool I have learned to use is a platform called RealPlans, a partner of the Whole30. I really continue to be blown away by this company – not only do they have live support to answer pretty much any food question you can imagine, their meal planning software educates, organizes, checklists, inspires and graduates you from flailing overwhelmed newbie to power-shopping chef. There is just no reason at all one should ever feel at a loss for what to make, unless you are just plain feeling lazy, (which we all do sometimes.) But even then, so many of these recipes make more than needed so leftovers can seriously save the day. There’s even a filter for “freezable” dishes that you can make in quantity and freeze for those times when you can’t rally your inner Julia. There’s an app, there are downloadable shopping lists, there’s even a live chat link that you can use if needed. And with your RealPlan, you even get an hour-long tutorial on how to use the platform. If you think something like this would help you stay organized and excited about meals, check it out here.

But again – it’s important not to go so overboard with this that you have ALL 84 meals planned out for the next month… because no one cooks three meals a day for 30 days. You don’t want to buy too much and then have life come up, only to waste good, fresh food. Pace yourself and be reasonable with your shopping and ambitions – remember – the Middle Way!

Some other great tips for shopping include:

  • Don’t shop when you are hungry. Cardinal grocery shopping rule #1.
  • Since you’re in the pre-program clean out days, make a pantry inventory list of the things you do have, so you don’t accidentally buy double. This list could be saved in your RealPlans platform!
  • If budgeting is a concern for you, use cash only for your grocery purchases. If you have a budget and you run out of cash, then it’s time to get creative with what you have and the recipe resources on hand. You can put in the ingredients and items you DO have on hand at home into the RealPlans site, and voila! It will crank out recipe options for you in seconds.
  • Remember – this is not a Pinterest contest (although Pinterest is beautiful, flirtatious suckhole of about a million Whole30 shopping tips and recipes) – you will find that the simpler you cook, the faster you will come to create the habit. Simple routines will become your best friends.
  • Buy your meat in bulk – Costco is truly your go-to here for bulk meat. They carry USDA Prime and Choice Grade beef. (USDA Prime is the best beef and not sold in many places.) Keep your freezer stocked AND set reminders on your phone to lay it out to thaw in the morning so it is ready to cook when you get home.
  • Take pics of your shopping cart, so you can stay inspired, share with others, and remember some of your great finds. As a group we will all discover so many new things together, that’s most of the fun!

Above all, remember this: nothing will happen if you don’t “get it right.” I was having a lovely conversation with a student tonight after yoga class, who was somewhat fearful that she may not get parts of it right. I reminded her that no dark angel will swoop down and doom you to an uncertain demise if you miss the mark. The worst thing that will happen is that you’ll probably just end up with gas. So rest easy, Indigos. Your character is not being questioned. Your life is not at risk. It’s just yoga and food. Let yourself stroll down the middle of this beautiful little road, taking in all the nuances, learning new things and exploring new spaces, knowing that none of us are going to let you fall into the ditch.

Keep going.

B

The Seedy Side of Self Worth

Have you ever consulted a friend or a mentor on a topic that they are good at, and found yourself saying, “This seems so easy for you, why is it so hard for me?”

I said this recently to a friend and advisor, and here was her response:

“Our zones of genius are easy for us but so valuable to others.”

I looked at that text for a long time while my three impatient gray iPhone dots urged me to respond.

Suddenly I was reminded about that seedy, cheap, shifty, guileless part of our personalities – negative self-worth – the mastermind behind all of the questioning and all of the uncertainty of the miraculous beings that we all are. There’s good self worth, of course, and if good self worth were any sort of an issue I wouldn’t have a blog to write about. But negative self-worth, now that is a juicy black hole of a character that’s deserving of an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Always there to question the leader, it’s like a membrane of impenetrable substance slimes us from head to toe, leaving us stuck. It makes us question who we are and where and if we belong. It organizes factions among our peers and family, determining who we should align with and who we should tear down.

There are actually a lot of supporting actors in this negative self-worth cast with a lot of different specialties – one who talks to you about body image. There is one who chastises you about how much money you have or don’t have and equates what you earn and how you spend to who you are as a person. There is another who gives you an earful about your intelligence and education and yet another who measures you up societally, against your friends and the row of perfect families that line your street, or any street for that matter. There is still another who tells you what kind of parent you are, and another who tells you what kind of child you are to your own parents. One chatters in your ear all day about what you eat. Its pal edits what you say to please others or get attention. There’s a whole sub-camp of extras who are ready to rise up and remind you about your religion, your gender, your sexuality, your likes and followers, the number on the scale and the number in your retirement account. Yet another gives you a piece of its mind on how well your do your job – what it thinks of you if you don’t have a job – and what you are worth according to that job (or lack thereof.)

The list isn’t over. There is a really sleazy negative self-worth actor that tells you all about how you are intimately and humiliates you if you don’t perform or if you haven’t gotten married or have gotten married…just more than once. And another, who pretty much just organizes all the others into this psychological tribunal of shame, teaching the whole cast, if all else fails, to just default with “you’re not good enough” for any given life scenario.

As a note of transparency and as a rule to myself, I do not usually write about depressing things. I just don’t want to put that out there, there’s plenty already. So bear with me, I’m getting to the point…

There is a lot of chatter.

And sooner or later, we have to figure out how to filter out the trash and capitalize on what we are great at, or just fucking rip the band-aid off, admit that we don’t know everything and ask for help.

I have come to a pivotal point in my life where I am choosing not to wear the “I’ve got it all together” mask. I never ever wanted to wear it anyway. I am messy and I fuck up a lot. But what is different at 42 than what was at 22 or even 32, is that I’m willing to admit that I am messy and ask for help from people who are way better at stuff that I am. I have to go to people I trust and say, “Look. I don’t know what to do here. I am out of tools. I don’t need to be the hero anymore. Help me figure this out…” And simultaneously, in my brain, I have to look at the whole cast of drama queens and say, “Back off, assholes!”

I am messy. And until recently, I never realized that is also my genius. The messy-ness forces me to stay sharp and it pushes me to be better. It squeezes me to think differently and innovatively and maybe most importantly, compassionately. It humbles me. It makes me listen and not talk. It makes me learn and not teach. It pressures me to choose new ways. Each one of those self-worth actors has value if I choose to see them as assets to my self-development versus a shameful aspect of my identity. Maybe they are teaching me what not to do. And thank God for that.

I am swapping my brilliant friend who is a whiz at my struggle suits with things that are easy for me but hard for her. We both feel so excited about this trade and are helping each other see that what we are not strong at is only going to get stronger if we work together. It’s an alliance against the negative self-worth bully.

And the next time someone says to me, “Gosh how do you do it all? You seem like you have it all together…” I am going to reply with,

“Yes. Yes I do. In the most beautiful of messy ways, I have it ALL TOGETHER.”

Actions AND Words Speak Even Louder

I don’t know where I first heard the Gandhi quote, “Action expresses priorities,” but I scribbled it on the cover of a well-worn Moleskin notebook in big block letters, not wanting to forget it. I can remember how I felt when I first heard it. My first reaction was, “HELL. YES. That is AWESOME,” and I am sure I would have wanted to hashtag #truth if hashtags were a thing back then. And then I remember my emotions shifting a bit and I almost felt a little sense of embarrassment, because as noble as the quote appears, it’s also a gigantic call out. I realized in that moment something that has become a real life mission for me over the past few years – to understand the reality that every single thing we do in our lives has an impact on other people. And I really mean everything.

Take an ordinary day – the first thing you do is…

You wake up.

Well, when you wake up shows what is most important to you in that moment: if you get up to workout at 5am, it suggests a few things: maybe you are an early riser and like to get moving before dawn (that’s a priority). Or, you work during the day and for whatever reason, perhaps you go to your kids’ sporting events at night or you make dinner for your family at night, or maybe just want to veg out in front of your TV at night (all priorities) and you don’t want to work out after work. It also suggests that you are a structured, disciplined person, because most everyone will agree that getting up to exercise when it’s still dark takes a fair amount of will and dedication, and that you have a schedule you like to stick to (that’s a priority.)

People notice what you do and when you do it, whether you realize it or not. They are affected by when you wake up. The people in your house are affected because you when you wake up that early, your kids may need their breakfast made, your spouse’s sleep may be disrupted (or they may be inspired to get up with you!) The people at the gym or the yoga studio start to look forward to you being there and motivating them not to miss.

How you wake up shows what’s important to you in that moment: do you immediately hit snooze and sleep longer, potentially making yourself late for work or school (whatever it is, either sleep or the thing that’s happening that morning is your priority). Do you get out of bed even before the alarm goes off, immediately beginning your daily routine of tasks in their exact order, finding comfort in the routine and getting to your destination early or at least on time? That routine of yours? It’s a priority.

And people notice. They notice if you are grouchy, they notice if you are overly energetic, they notice if you have a scowl on your face and feel like they should make a wide circle, they notice if you are calm and welcoming and want to be around you more. They notice your interest, they notice your preoccupation. They notice your genuineness, they notice your sarcasm. They notice your inclusion, they notice your exclusion. They notice your leadership, and they notice your comparison. The action of how you are showing up, in any environment, whether it’s 5am or noon or 5pm, has an effect on others.

And why do we know that whatever you are doing in any moment is the very most important priority in your life? Simple. Because you are doing it.

It’s funny how small our worlds can really be when we don’t have a sense that all of our actions directly influence the people around us. So often, we really truly do act as if we are the center of the universe, and everything is just in our way. (I love you, David Foster Wallace.)

Now I’m not going to timeline your whole day and naively attempt to psychoanalyze your every move, I’m really just wanting to bring to light that all of our idiosyncrasies don’t go unnoticed. And if we know this and commit to not pretending it doesn’t really happen, we might function differently, perhaps in a much more selfless way. It will be a practice, changing our point of view literally on a momentary basis from “me” to “us” – and it will be a game changer.

Like a global game changer.

I opened Indigo Yoga in Fort Worth, Texas in May of 2006. In ten years I have learned a lot of things, and so when we made the decision to move and build a new facility this spring, I put pen to paper and wrote a “brand statement” around what has been and what will be. Here is an excerpt of our Ten Year Brand.

To us, simplicity and style equate to to a clean, crisp, modern, white on white studio. The design, the interior and all of the furnishings will symbolically represent a blank slate, so to speak, on which each student and teacher has the power to create their lives and futures. Our idea of how things should be will never be imposed upon those who enter; we want them to feel as though anything is possible in our studios, and we are giving them the platform to achieve their highest potential and expression of self. Yogically speaking, light colors represent “sattva,” the highest and purest Universal energy.

People feel inspired when they are surrounded by beauty. They feel even more inspired when that beauty is not intimidating or something they feel they must live up to; so in addition to the clean, crisp “blank slate,” interior design, soft touches will create a distinct element of comfort in all areas of the studio.

We pride ourselves on quality teaching, quality programming and a quality facility. Quality, to us, is defined by experience and history, reliability and consistency, an insatiable quest for knowledge and truth, a brave and fearless ability to take risks, and a gracious acceptance of what already is and has been. And when that is a part of who you are, what exudes is confidence. The facility itself, in all materials, furnishings and amenities, will exude confidence, because we believe that what we do, in every moment of every day, has an impact on others. Every action we take shows others what is most important to us. Building this facility and planning for the future shows the people of Fort Worth and beyond that as we all walk this path together, their personal development, their wellness and ultimately their happiness are important and valued to us.

 That is why I have chosen the following quote as our “Ten Year Brand”:

“ACTION EXPRESSES PRIORITIES.” ~ Gandhi

Three words. Three impactful words.

Whenever I lecture on this quote in trainings locally and abroad, the intention is to show students that every last little thing we do has an effect on others.

Everything.

WHAT WE DO SHOWS OTHERS WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN OUR LIVES.

It’s a call-out. It’s a check-in. It’s truth. It shows others who we care about, and who we don’t. It keeps us honest. It is a mirror, making us watch ourselves with our children, our lovers, our co-workers, our friends. Whether we are spending quality time with someone who needs us, or being mindful about what we eat to nourish, or taking time to practice yoga to get our heads clear and bodies strong, what we do shows the world what we care about.

And we want people to believe that the ACTION of YOGA, which makes us stronger, calmer, more responsive and less reactive EXPRESSES the PRIORITY that we know we have an impact, and who we are for others and a bigger vision is of utmost importance.

I believe in this statement so much that I had it enormously painted on the exterior wall of our new facility. I believe that if we remind ourselves of it daily – hourly – momentarily – we have the ability to change our realities and the realities of those around us, simply by coming back to what’s real and out of our heads.

There is a scene in the movie, “As Good As It Gets” where Jack Nicholson’s character, Melvin Udall, busts into his psychiatrist’s office without warning in an emotional crisis. As he’s leaving, he stops in the middle of the waiting room (which is completely filled with patients) and says, “What if this is as good as it gets…”

I argue it’s not. But only if we wake up and take action in our lives and show each other what is truly most important.

Onward, fearless ones.