When I was in yoga teacher training I learned about a dozen different styles of breathing exercises. All of them work to calm our central nervous system and focus our mind in the present moment. I have even encouraged some of you to focus on breath control during our workouts by lengthening your exhale and breathing through your nose. These and other techniques can help you calm down and actually increase the intensity of your workout.
One of my favorite breathing exercises is box breathing. This is simply breathing in for a specific count, holding your breath for a specific count, exhaling for a specific count, then holding your breath again before the next inhale. It only takes a few cycles of box breathing before you feel your body calm down. Here is a great video demonstration from one of the masters of breath control, Mark Divine of SealFit.
You might be wondering why this #foodiefriday blog is about breath control and stress management. Many of us tend to overeat when we are stressed. We eat fast. We eat more carbohydrates and less protein. We eat beyond satiety.
Reducing our stress can help us listen to satiety cues and reframe meal times into enjoyable moments rather than a hectic race to just cram food in our face.
Of course, it wouldn't be #foodiefriday without a recipe. Here's a fabulous quiche you can make this weekend or next for Mother's day. Enjoy!
No is a complete sentence.
I was having lunch with Coach Audy the other day and we were talking about handling all of life's demands. Now that we're coming out of our Covid cocoon everyone wants some of our time. All of us have only so much time in which we try to stuff so many things. We have only so much energy we can give to others.
I was sharing with her a situation in which I was asked to do something I did not want to, and instead of politely replying, "No," I got angry and relayed to my requestor all of the things I already had on my plate and how I just couldn't add another. I responded with anger, intensity, and unloaded all of my worries and anxieties on the unsuspecting person standing before me. She didn't deserve my response.
After telling my story, Audy looked at me and said, "You know, 'No' is a complete sentence and you don't owe anyone an explanation for why you don't want to do something." I looked at her with gratitude that I have such a smart friend and chagrin knowing that I was an ass to another friend.
Indeed, "No" is a complete sentence.
When someone asks you to do something it's a reflection of their desire and values and it's completely acceptable for you to not share those values. By responding in anger I violated one of the Four Agreements, e.g. I took her request personally.
I violated a second of the Four Agreements by assuming she already knew how stressed I was and that I couldn't possibly add another thing to my schedule. Have you every responded to someone with, "How can you possibly ask that of me? Don't you know how stressed I am already?" Well, you are assuming that person has some kind of telepathic link with your emotions. If you're anything like me, I didn't even know I was on the brink of being an ass until I became one.
If I had just taken a deep breath and said, "No" or even, "No, thank you" I could have avoided the drama my lack of self awareness created. The problem wasn't being asked to something, the problem was my attitude about being asked to do something.
The Four Agreements serve as a foundation for being a reasonable human:
1. Take nothing personally
2. Make no assumptions
3. Be impeccable with your word
4. Do your best
When someone says something to you that fires up your emotions, take a deep breath and remember these agreements and take solace in the fact that "No" is a complete sentence.
Many folks erroneously believe that those who successfully lose weight, or quit drinking, or quit smoking, or stick to a fitness routine have some deep well-spring of intrinsic motivation. Nope, successful people create small, consistent wins that help them build a streak to keep them motivated.
Consistency creates momentum and momentum creates motivation. Think about it, when you are starting something new, a small success feels so good that you want to continue. This is true for everything in life. All you need is one small win, then another, then another, string together a bunch of consistent small wins and you're on your way baby!
That's the idea behind a very cool app called Streaks (sorry Android and Window users, it's for Apple geeks only.)
Streaks helps you create daily wins and celebrates your success. I recently started using it to help me with my own New Year's resolutions. Here's a screenshot of my computer based Streaks App. You can also download it to your iPhone, iPad or Apple watch.
You can see that I have created 5 daily habits for which I want to create a winning streak. At the end of each day, or whenever I complete the daily habit, I check it off in Streaks and I get rewarded. The longer my streak continues the more I feel like I'm winning.
You can use Streaks for daily, weekly or monthly habits. You can also set it up to help you break bad habits like smoking, gambling, etc.
You can set reminders and totally customize it for your life. It's pretty darn cool.
Click on the image above to learn more about Streaks and download it your Apple device.
How to Train Mental Toughness
Over the years I have shared many strategies and tactics for developing mental toughness. Occasionally I come across a podcast or a book that delivers all of the best strategies and tactics and that is the case with the Whoop podcast I'm sharing with you today.
The guest, Rich Diviney, is a Navy SEAL who developed a program to help Navy SEALS, and the rest of us truly understand who we are at our core and how to develop attributes that help us be more adaptable, resilient, courageous, and prepare ourselves for optimal performance.
I especially love this idea from the podcast:
The Human Engine and Attributes. “We’re all like automobiles. Some of us are Jeeps, some of us are Ferraris, some of us are SUVs. No judgment. The Jeep can do things the Ferrari can’t do and the Ferrari can do things the Jeep can’t do. The question is, ‘Hey, can you look under the hood and figure out what automobile you are?’ If you’re a Jeep trying to run on a Ferrari track, it’s probably not going very well, or if you’re a Ferrari trying to run on a Jeep track. The attributes are the first indication of your own human engine, and then you can start making choices because you can develop attributes, it just takes a little bit more difficulty.”
He has a book, The Attributes, that explores the emotional and psychological attributes that are innate in all of us and how we can capitalize on these attributes to make us happier, stronger, and better able to adapt to uncertainty.
After you listen to the podcast you might be inspired to take his online attributes assessment. I did and I will use my GRIT score to help me focus on developing attributes that will help me handle the uncertainty of life. You can access the assessment here.
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