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Nine Steps to Inspire Mindfulness and Moderation

These steps have changed my life!

A couple of months ago I shared my struggles with addictive behaviors (Aug 15 blog AGE ELEVEN: ADDICT) which became my primary coping device as an anxious, shy, introvert. I have this innate draw toward extreme activities, whether drinking, eating, working, exercise, or gum (more on that later).

Though on the surface some of these are healthy and desirable, all have proven destructive in giving me temporary highs and depressing lows.

But this is not a sad story with an unhappy ending. NO, through my personal growth and help from my support group of family and coaches, I've become more self-aware and now embrace myself - my introversion, my shyness, my talents and my dreams.

Aided by my 2018 retirement and the lower stress and more available time afforded to my own journey, I've successfully introduced a radical idea...MODERATION! And it's been the key to my healthier lifestyle. It enables me to be happy without the burden of destructive extremes. So whether social drinking, eating, writing, or exercise, I'm incorporating mindfulness into my daily practice.

Here's my 9 tips to incorporate moderation into your lifestyle:

1 REMEMBER the extreme highs and lows and accept that the extreme highs require too high a cost for many of us. It's not a matter of "giving up" things but of "gaining control".

2 SET GOALS - what are your priorities? Don't set unreasonable goals or irrelevant goals. Don't set too many goals. In my July 29th GOALS blog I focus on:

a) health- eating, exercise, self-awareness

b) family- meaningful time with each family member

c) writing- to develop my skills to put my truth on paper and publish

d) financial- to set long term guardrails to ensure we spend within plan so I don't stress

3 RECOGNIZE the signs of extremes; eg, ratcheting up running time/speed, binge eating without thought, setting writing goals that sacrifice my other goals (health, family)

4 PAUSE before those potential triggers to think and I really hungry, for what? What exercise do I really want to do today? Will I finish this task wanting more?

5 TIMEOUT in the middle of activities to ask myself - am I still hungry, am I still enjoying this exercise, or do I want to stop or switch to something else?

6 REVIEW after an activity. Do I feel in control? Did I have fun exercising or writing? Did I finish wanting more? If not, what would I do differently?

7 CELEBRATE moderation like I used to celebrate extremes. For me, it's never a problem going to the gym. It's harder for me to limit to 60 minutes 5-6 days per week instead of 90 minutes 7 days a week. But I know, this is not healthy or sustainable. Being mindful enough to moderate those circumstances is great reason to celebrate!

8 BE KIND to myself. No one is perfect. Slipping up at a meal or two or a day or two is human. My slippery slope tends to happen because I beat myself up. Use these situations as learning points to improve.

9 REFLECT not just on the meal or day, but on a larger chunk of time - quarterly and annually. How am I doing on my goals? More than likely, I've accomplished a lot more than I realize on a daily basis (the same principle as "not seeing the forest for the trees").

Originally, I though moderation meant BORING. But a year later, I'm happier, fitter, more in control, about to publish, enjoying more quality time with the family, and planning on a climb up Kilimanjaro in 2020 with my daughter, Maddie! Pretty EXCITING stuff!

I'm somewhat embarrassed to say, in 2016 I unintentionally started a gum tree by depositing my gum at night on a dish next to my bed. It grew to over a foot tall. It finally tipped over and stuck to the table, forcing its retirement before I finally kicked the habit altogether.

One of my last bastions of extremism was my gum chewing. Over the years I've always enjoyed a stick of gum. In 2016, my new boss chewed gum constantly to help kick his smoking habit. That gave me license to chew during work days as well. Soon, I was chewing 2-4 pieces at a time and 20-30 pieces a day!

I recognized this was another variation of my extremism. I tried to rationalize stopping by calorie (5/piece or 150/day) or cost (2 packs/day=$3/day or over $1,000/year), but I couldn't muster the fortitude until I forgot to buy my normal stash of ten packs before our summer vacation. So on the plane I decided this was my chance. I fought off urges to stock-up throughout our two weeks. It may seem trivial compared to cigarettes or food or alcohol, but quitting was very difficult.

I think gum chewing satisfied the natural need to move my jaw that, as an Introvert, I was lacking in my daily routine. But now, almost three months later, I feel great about not letting a 1"x3" stick of rubber and chemicals control me. Perhaps the true test of my moderation is to reintroduce chewing only one stick at a time and only a few pieces a day. I'm not sure I'm strong enough to do that...YET!






For anyone who is interested in leading a healthful lifestyle

Photo credit: Susie Amendola

Nice article sharing the connection between mindfulness, moderation, and a healthy lifestyle. Susie also boasts the benefits of yoga and meditation in her journey toward moderation. My favorite line that sums up my journey and the journey of many others, is "...those who are temperate in eating and sleeping, work and recreation, will come to the end of sorrow..." . Enjoy!

ASPECTS IN ART: Witchy Woman (10/2/19)

CLIMBING KILI- Choices, Choices, Choices... (9/18/19)

Climbing Kilimanjaro - Africa's tallest point at 19,341ft - includes a 5-8 day trek through 5 distinct climates (Bushland, Rainforest, Heather, Alpine Desert, and Arctic)

As my daughter, Madolyn, and I contemplate our Kilimanjaro trek, it's time to evaluate options:

Many different routes up and down Kili, each with its own pros/cons.

Choose the Climb- there are six routes up Africa's tallest mountain and several more derivations. We are aiming to narrow our focus based on our primary criteria:

  1. Provides greatest likelihood we will reach the summit.

  2. Offers the most diverse and beautiful scenery including alongside glaciers

  3. Easiest on the body. While there's no true mountain climbing, some trails are steeper than others and can wreak havoc on joints and bones.

  4. Comfortable accommodations on the trail but also in the village before and after.

  5. Cost.

So we've narrowed routes down to two:

Amazing scenery trekking alongside a melting glacier!

  1. Marangu: only trail with cabins (vs. tents) and called "Coca-Cola Trail" for its ease and popularity. Shortest trek (typically 6 days) so costs are lower.

  2. Machame: called the "Whiskey Trail" for its relative challenge, but it's 8 days which helps to acclimatize for the higher altitudes and therefore chances of summiting are best. Treks alongside glaciers and takes different route down so scenery is best.

So leaning toward Machame but seeking input from past Kili trekkers!

The Summit! 40-80% of hikers reach the top, depending on route.

We are also learning more about training for our trek. Acclimatization is KING: getting to the top is most dependent upon how your body may handle the higher altitudes. Hence, longer climbs are better. But older, heavier people theoretically have just as good a chance to summit as younger, fitness buffs.

However, to improve our chances and the condition we may be in when we finish, two training areas seem to be recommended:

Acclimatization is the key! The solution is to go slow to help your body adjust to high altitudes. I don't want either of us to be carted off the mountain!

  1. Cardio: improved overall fitness condition will help for those long days (6-8 days of 4-6hrs of hiking each day) and improve our confidence, which will be critical on the exhausting, high-altitude surge to the top. So walking, running, elliptical are all recommended.

  2. Stairs: while vertical climbing is not part of Kili, some sections can require crawling and some sections appear to be rough on the knees, especially descending from the peak. So StairMaster or building stairs up and down will help in conditioning and knee and bone survival.

As training progresses, tackling these exercises in our hiking boots and with 20lb day packs will also prepare us for the expedition ahead.

For the next couple of months we will be further researching our options in order to book our route and trekking agents, who coordinate the details before and during our trek, by early 2020.

It's all quite surreal at this point. But the research is building excitement and once we book arrangements, we will have 6-7 months to train for the challenge ahead in August.

I hope this added content provides you with some insights, inspiration, and perhaps a chuckle too! If you enjoyed...please SHARE!

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