Cissy Brady-Rogers
Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers

Tag: sustainable change

This morning at my conditioning class one of the other students commented that for him exercise was a “necessary evil.” I immediately jumped into my cheerleader mode: “Just imagine how good you’ll feel afterwards.” He was friendly enough but clearly wasn’t buying into my attempt to re-frame of his view of reality.

It got me thinking about the destructive power of habituation and conditioning. We get stuck doing things the way we’ve always done them and  let our limited view of reality and ourselves create attitudes that undermine our efforts before we’ve even begun. We’ve all said things like: “That’s just the way I am…” or “I’m just not a person who…” or “I’ve never liked…” or “I’ve always…”  While there may be valid reasons for viewing exercise as a necessary evil, but it certainly isn’t contributing in a positive way to anyone’s life.

It also got me thinking about what emerging research reveals about identity. Historically Western philosophy, theology and psychology have tended toward a static view of the self: there is an “I” that I am becoming/finding/developing. Freud dubbed this the ego. But post-modern thinking and neuroscience studies on the brain and mind indicate that the “I” that I think I am is not as set in cement as many of us believe.

Circumstances change.

People change.

Change happens.

For many years I’ve struggle with getting things done in an orderly, systematic fashion. I tend to be random, intuitive, spontaneous, sometimes impulsive, and on a bad day tending toward chaotic movement in so many directions that I fall into an emotional tailspin which can end in an meltdown. And that is not a pretty sight. Just ask my poor husband!

Thanks be to God that the scenario has changed over the years. I’ve changed. Through mindful awareness, centering prayer, yoga and other mind-body practices I’m better able to regulate my energy and attention.  I rarely go into tailspins anymore and it’s been a very long time since I had a meltdown. I still tend toward randomness and spontaneity in accomplishing non-appointment related work. In fact this morning my calendar tells me I’m supposed to be clearing out my email in-boxes. But I had an inspiration to write and made an executive decision, spontaneous as seems to be part of my creative capacity, but not impulsive. I evaluated the decision in a mindful manner, aware that the in-box project remains to be tackled.

Consistently exercising the capacity to focus my attention and stay present through these practices has strengthened the connections between the executive brain (at the front of the head behind the forehead) and the emotional and survival centers in the middle and back of the brain. Neuroplasticity is the technical name for the brain’s capacity to develop these new neural pathways that are integral to our capacity for change.

It isn’t as much about my efforts to change as it is about opening to the Spirit of Grace that does for me what I can’t do for myself. It isn’t trying harder, but softening each time I fall short of my ideals and asking for help. Change happens when I am willing to be changed and engage in practices that make myself available to be changed.

Jesus asked a man who’d been an invalid for 38 years if he wanted to get well. The man responded with his static view of himself and his reality, reciting his scenario as to why change wasn’t possible. We all have our versions of this story: “It’s always been this way…”

In another story Jesus met a man whose son had suffered convulsions since childhood. His response to Jesus’ statement that everything is possible for one who believes is one of my favorite prayers: “I do believe, help my unbelief.”

Unbelief is the crack that opens us up to grace. God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves, not because we have 100% belief, but in the midst of our unbelief.

The first question to ask ourselves isn’t “Can I change?” but “Am I willing to be changed?”

Holding onto a static view of ourselves or reality not only is ineffective, it isn’t true! If you’re a person who “hates exercise…” or “doesn’t like to eat…” or “has always eaten…” or “never could imagine yourself….” then you’re in good company. Many of the people Jesus healed were in exactly the same position.

Will you choose to believe, in the midst of your unbelief?

Today I choose to move at a mindful pace in the unhurried rhythm of God’s grace. After posting this blog I’ll get back on schedule with gratitude that degree by degree I am being changed. And while one hoped for change is that I’ll continue to grow in getting things done in a systematic, orderly fashion, I trust that today’s version of that is good enough for today.

What version of who you think you are might you need to let go of in order to have the life your really want?

Are you willing to be changed?

The extra fat living on my belly these days reminds me that in my sphere of reality over consumption is a way of life. While a large percentage of people on planet earth struggle for access to enough, I have too much.

I want to give thanks for the abundance.

I want to be grateful that my refrigerator and pantry are full, that I can drive my car a few miles and purchase mass amounts of consumables or dine on gourmet food at a restaurant where the portions are so large I take some home for the dog.

But this Thanksgiving morning I’m aware that the abundance of my Thanksgiving table, along with the month of consumption ahead, has come to reflect the too muchness of life in the USA. We have so much available that unless we are highly conscious about our choices we will end up consuming too much and storing that excess in our bodies’ remarkably efficient energy storage systems.

I want to be grateful for my body’s amazing capacity to survive potential famine by storing energy as fat.

I want to be grateful that I am so aware of my body that I notice even subtle shifts in my body mass composition.

I want to be grateful that I can take a rigorous walk this morning, get a little sweat going and seek to come into alignment with my body.

I want to be grateful that I no longer regulate my energy intake and output based on external guidelines or fears of weight gain.

I want to be grateful that when I eat our Thanksgiving feast this evening I will savor the love of family and friends around the table as I take in the delicious meal set before us.

But my mind is on those who don’t have enough. On the hungry and the homeless. And, on how ironic it is that many of the homeless and needy I’ve met when volunteering in local soup kitchens are also carrying extra fat on their bellies!

Current research on nutrition and fat storage indicate that the number of calories we eat as well as the quality and types of food we consume contribute to how our bodies metabolize and store energy. Much of the food served to those showing up at soup kitchens are high glycemic carbohydrates (breads, pastas, rice, potatoes, sugar) that increase the likelihood of weight gain in many of us.

I’m not sure what I can do about that today. But expanding my view of reality to consider those who don’t have a home to gather in, a table of their own around which to dine, or loved ones to share it with, gives me perspective that helps me love and enjoy living in my body, just as I am. Because ultimately my life is not measured by my level of fitness or my body mass composition, but by the degree to which I live in loving relationship with myself, my family and friends, my colleagues and acquaintances, my neighbors, as well as the “strangers” around the world who are my brothers and sisters here on planet earth.

For me it comes back to gratitude and living in the tension of celebrating the goodness of life that has come to me as I remember that while all is well in my world, much of the rest of the world suffers.

Today I will seek to savor rather than consume

Today I will seek to listen to my body not just for me, but as a reminder that over consumption of resources doesn’t just impact me and my health, but contributes in a small way to the unequal distribution of resources that leaves many homeless and hungry on this day of Thanksgiving.

It isn’t about guilt for having more than enough. Rather it’s about loving myself and my neighbor enough to pay attention to my consumption so that I don’t carry around more than I really need either in fat stores on my body or otherwise.

This holiday season I am going to work on compassionate consumption. Compassion recognizes suffering with kindness and non-judgement and comes alongside with intention to alleviate that suffering to the degree that I can.

Eating just enough is one way to do that today. And if I choose to eat more than enough, not judging myself for breaking my intention but kindly stopping when I recognize I’ve passed the point of satiation.

As we head into the holiday consumption madness begins tomorrow, may we consider what compassionate consumption might look like in our lives. What presents, decorations and other stuff do we really need? What is enough? What is too much? And how can we take our excess and use it to alleviate suffering in ourselves and others?

How can we choose to let go of our possibility of having it all so that all may have?

My mind-body mentor Joan Borysenko’s new book, The PlantPlus Diet Solution, is a compendium of relevant and accessible food science and health psychology. Full of practical tips and recipes it’s an exceptional resource in the self-help diet book genre. The personalized nutrition guidelines she presents aren’t for those who want a quick or easy solution to weight or health issues. But that is exactly what makes it a valuable resource for those seeking a sustainable, enjoyable and life-giving way to eat! Unlike most diet books, The PlantPlus Diet Solution doesn’t tell you what to eat, but gives you facts, guidelines and resources for listening to the wisdom of your own body and becoming your own expert as to what will best serve your overall health and well-being.

eat in alignment with your body

I’ve learned through twenty-five years of work with clients struggling with food and weight that, as Dr. Joan demonstrates through research and examples from her own personalized nutrition experiments, “there is no one-size-fits-all diet.” The key to finding the “right” combination of food for your body is through paying attention to the impact different foods have on your physical and mental health. Joan does an exquisite job providing simple tools that empower readers to become experts on their own unique biological blueprint for metabolism and optimal energy efficiency.

I especially appreciated her clear explanation about the role insulin efficiency plays in metabolism of carbohydrates–and some people’s remarkable capacity to store excess calories as fat. She identifies three types of bodies: 1.) insulin efficient people who can eat all the carbohydrates they want and never experience negative weight or health consequences; 2.) insulin resistant people whose bodies react negatively to diets high in carbohydrates; 3.) and the rest who fall somewhere in-between. Knowing where you fall on the continuum can be an important part of finding a way of eating that works best for your body.

Knowledge is power. Joan provides information to help readers make informed choices about nutrition as well as tools to increase self-knowledge. Best of all, she does so with authenticity and wisdom born from several years of “diet sleuthing” as she looked for solutions to her own nutrition related health challenges. Her personal examples, humor and lighthearted way of writing makes the science digestible for those of us who haven’t taken a hard science course since high school!

For Southern California locals, Joan will be in Pasadena presenting on her new book on October 25th at the I Can Do It! conference. I’ll be there and would love to see some of you there too.

My midlife body isn’t what it used to be and I’m okay with that! The stiff joints that greet me when I stand up after being parked for too long in one position remind me to keep moving lest I get stuck in the all too common midlife rut of declining muscle mass and bone density.

My younger self didn’t have this exquisite built-in system to warn me of the dangers of extended sitting. In my thirties and forties I sometimes spent 8 hours or more a day just sitting. I’d get up every 50 minutes between therapy sessions with my clients—a wonderful imposed break unavailable to those stuck at a computer all day. Back then a vigorous 15-30 mile bike ride multiple times a week plus other rigorous exercise helped maintain the hardiness and vitality needed to sustain my work life.

At midlife I find daily, moderate, engaged, but not too strenuous exercise keeps the aches at bay and my muscles strong. When I try to do too much, too quickly, my body protests. Pushing too hard can leave me depleted and sore. Likewise, a few days of sitting too much coupled with lack of exercise also leaves my body voicing discontent.

This week I pulled myself out of bed for two 6 a.m. strength training sessions. My body has been less achy and my energy stronger both days. I’m going to yoga tonight to balance it out with some stretching and hope to get to a spinning class tomorrow.

As with all things related to health and well-being, staying strong through midlife requires you listen to your body and find the optimal combination of activities for your body. No one can do that for you. Your trainer, yoga teacher or fitness professional can make recommendations, but only you can discover what makes you feel your best.

Finally, it’s important to find activities you like. We will keep doing the things that we enjoy.  If exercise is not fun, you need to find something that is. If it’s only about the results—and the process is not enjoyable—then why do it?

If you’re interested in some fun, challenging but sensitive strength training and conditioning support, check out Fitness Revolution Pasadena. My trainer Joseph is a true gem. I’ve adopted him as my little brother (avoiding the truth that I’m old enough to be his mom). I’d love to share him with you.

When it comes to healthcare these days everyone seems to be pointing the finger at someone else. The insurance companies blame the hospitals and providers for the high fees consumers pay for coverage. The doctors blame the insurance companies for their limited time and access to resources for patient care. And everyone is blaming Obama!

But the number one factor in healthcare is self-care!

Food is Medicine

More than 75% of healthcare costs go to treating largely preventable chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And while access to care (10%), genetics (20%) and environment (20%) all factor into disease onset, most causes of disease are related to health behaviors and lifestyle (50%).

Psychologist Ellen Baker calls self-care an ethical imperative for mental health professionals. The demands of regular exposure to emotional distress and trauma can lead to depletion. When we don’t proactively attend to our basic needs and replenish our own storehouses of emotional and physical sustenance, we increase our risk for clinical impairment. Similar liabilities show up in studies of ministry professionals who are at far greater risk of depression and anxiety than people in other occupations.

I’ll be sharing some of my own experience with the occupational hazards of ministry and mental health at Self-Care for Helping Professionals at Azusa Pacific University in February.  While ministry and mental health professionals have an ethical responsibility to take care of ourselves lest our our impairment jeopardize our competency, I’m more and more convinced that all of us have a moral imperative for self-care.

What makes self-care a moral imperative for all of us? How about the 1.87 trillion dollars spent in the United States on largely preventable conditions?

My career transition from mental health to health coaching is largely motivated by my sense of moral conviction at the inequity that our over consumption of resources creates in a world where many lack basic resources. While we in the United States are busy gobbling up resources and making ourselves sick, children around the world are dying because they lack clean water, nutritious food and basic medical care.

Imagine how radically different the world would look if even a portion of that 1.87 trillion dollars went to meeting those needs. Many of my friends are doing just that by participating in Team World Vision’s Run for Water project. They are taking care of their own physical health by training for the LA Marathon while raising money to bring clean water, sanitation and hygiene to communities in Africa.

What about you?

What will you be doing in 2014 to attend to your own self-care?

How will you make a difference in reversing the healthcare crisis by making self-care a priority in your life?

If you’d like support with that, I’m available for no-fee phone consultations. Also, if you’d like updates on my workshops and health coaching programs for 2014, please sign up for my newsletter (lower corner of right sidebar).

***Statistics from Duke University Integrative Medicine Professional Health Coaching Training Program

Saturday, February 8th, 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

A recent LA Times headline caught my attention: “CDC targets needless deaths due to poor lifestyle habits.” I thought of my mom and dad’s lifestyle choices. Committed smokers (mom refused to go anywhere they wouldn’t let her smoke) they both died of lung related diseases that might have been avoided if they’d quit–or better yet–never started! It wasn’t for lack of effort. I remember mom trying any number of extreme methods, including tying her pack of smokes up in a maze of rubber bands to limit access.

The CDC study refers to “avoidable deaths” as those which could be prevented by better medical care or healthier lifestyles.  Death itself is unavoidable. We all come into life with a genetic predispositions for disease that will eventually contribute to our bodies wearing out and dying. But the onset and progress of disease is complicated by many things, including: availability and quality of medical care, nutrition, activity level,  social support and geographic location. The CDC study indicates higher rates of avoidable deaths in the South. Even your zip code plays a role in how your genetic predisposition for disease manifests!

Mom died because her lungs gave out, but I bet her cholesterol levels were still healthy.  In spite of a diet consisting of a lot of butter, eggs, half & half and sugar, mom never had problems with cholesterol. I probably inherited that from her. My doctor once remarked that she’d never seen a “good” cholesterol number so high! Genetics is on my side with that one–thanks be to God (and my Irish ancestry apparently)!

Disease is part of life. Genetics loads our system for certain potentials, but lifestyle impacts how they play out. A coaching client reported that in spite of a very healthy diet, active lifestyle and limited stress in her life, she has high blood pressure. “Both my parents had hypertension, so I’m not surprised that in spite of all I do right, it still runs high.” Imagine the problems she might have if she weren’t conscientious about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The CDC reports that nearly one fourth of all deaths from cardiovascular disease are avoidable through lifestyle changes. But those changes could also eliminate other “needless” physical, psychological and relational problems.  Smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and excessive use of alcohol (the primary lifestyle factors in heart disease) also contribute to limited energy, strength and mobility, depression, relational stress, isolation and feeling like a burden to family and friends–among other things.

The study also points out the need for systemic change–like improving access to quality health care and providing physical and social  environments to support healthy lifestyles for people in economically and geographically challenged locations. Other suggestions include improving community design to increase access to sidewalks and providing bike lanes, improving the local food environment, enhancing worksite wellness programs, and improving insurance coverage.

Local school breakfast options

What about improving the quality of school lunches? As my friend massage therapist and health minded mom Erin Wrutemberg pointed out when she posted a lunch menu for a local school district, “I wonder if test scores would be higher if all kids were eating real, whole, nourishing food for breakfast. Its no light bulb realization that the epidemic of childhood type II diabetes, heart disease, and obesity IS linked to diet. If your typical lower income kid who qualifies for free and reduced meals at school eats off this menu they are beginning the day at a disadvantage.”

For many people it may take a village to create and sustain healthier lifestyles. Kids who eat funnel cake and bacon cheese eggstravaganza’s for breakfast are starting out with a weak foundation for later disease manifestation.

Mom might never have quit smoking, even if she’d had a village behind her. Many of the friends she smoked with in earlier decades were able to quit when it became clear in the 60’s and 70’s that smoking was hazardous to your health.

Who is in your village and what are you doing to support health in your spheres of influence?

What small changes might you make in your lifestyle or advocate for in your community to support better health for yourself and others?

Death isn’t avoidable, but some of the pain and suffering of it’s precursors can be alleviated by small choices we make each day. May we all have compassionate wisdom and strength to make small choices now that may minimize suffering later.

If you told me 25 years ago that one day I’d be teaching yoga at the upcoming Big Bear Yoga Festival–I’d have said you were crazy!

Raised Catholic, I stopped attending mass in junior high school and became a “born again” Christian within the year. God’s timing was perfect. I desperately needed someone or something to “save” me from the disease and dysfunction growing within me and around me in my family system.

I spent the next 15 years involved in evangelical church and para-church organizations and attended evangelical undergrad and graduate school.  The personal relationship I developed with God and the people that surrounded me during those years really did “save” me. I made plenty of poor choices as it was–I can only imagine the trouble I might have gotten into otherwise. I’m grateful for the love and support of all those who came alongside me, loved me, and prayed for me. I also learned how to study the Bible and think critically about spiritual and theological matters. All of this laid a foundation for my faith in a God who so loved the world that he became flesh and blood, lived among us and revealed the way of love through the life of Christ Jesus.

And, I needed more than any of that provided.

I needed to embody my faith.

I needed to experience that love in my flesh and blood, in my female body. But the things about “flesh” and “body” I learned in church contexts didn’t take me deeper into my body.  Confusing messages reinforced an already shame-based body image: you are intricately and wonderfully made, but your desires, instincts, feelings and thoughts can’t be trusted; your sexuality is a gift from God, but don’t act too sexy or show too much of your body lest you cause your brother to lust. For Christian eating disorder patients I’ve worked with those same messages were life threatening–creating distorted views of “flesh/fat” and appetite that reinforced destructive body related thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

My bout with breast cancer in 1992 activated an interest in alternative approaches to health. I attended my first yoga class in 1993 with cautious interest. I prayed before I entered the room, asking God to give me discernment about participating in what my earlier training had told me was “of the devil”. Twenty years later I can’t imagine life without yoga. It’s the spiritual discipline God has used to heal my relationship with my body–to learn to listen to, respect, appreciate and be grateful for the glory of God’s image revealed in my body, in my flesh, in my blood. To experience Christ in me — the hope of glory dwelling in the sacred temple of my body.

I keep coming back because the practice takes me into my body in a transformative way, deepening my knowing of God’s love in the depths of my innermost self. My movements on the mat are prayers: my body speaks what my heart longs to express but words fall short of conveying.

Yoga for Every Body

I teach Christ-centered yoga because I want to share the transformative power of moving prayers with my communities of faith. While I mostly practice the physical postures (known as “asana” and one of the eight limbs of yoga), I have a deep respect and appreciation for other aspects as well.

That’s why I’ll be teaching a Christ-centered yoga workshop at the festival this month. I love sharing the immeasurable riches of God’s love in Christ through the yoga postures. I love guiding others into a deeper connection to the goodness and sacredness of their bodies. I love being at home in my body and inviting others to more fully inhabit their own homes.

I’d love to have you join me!

August 23-25, 2013

While I was away on vacation a plague of mildew took over my summer squash. Most of the leaves were speckled with white powder and some were turning yellow and dying. But in spite of the attack the squash were still producing–so much so that when I offered my husband some steamed squash one night he replied “Squash again?”

Determination

Saturday morning I went out with my clippers to assess the damage, prepared to tear it all out and begin planting for fall. But buried beneath the sea of mildew I discovered strong new shoots making their way towards the sun, determined to keep producing in spite of obstacles!

I went to work. I thinned out the damaged branches, cut everything back to the vine, tidied up the dead leaves, freed the new growth from potential contamination and opened them up to reach toward the light.

Humans and plants share the same basic growth instinct to fulfill our destiny. All God’s creatures great and small come equipped with everything we need to thrive. But, like the mildew that keeps the squash from flourishing, many life factors inhibit our innate potential to become all we were created to be. We all bump up against both internal barriers (character defects, defenses, limitations) and external obstacles (unhealthy relationships or workplaces, accidents, losses of all sorts that we can’t control).

Even the most determined among us weren’t intended to grow alone. Like gardens, we need the support of loved ones to overcome the many forms of dis-ease and dysfunction that inhibit our growth. We access the support of others within the broader community. We come alongside one another, helping each other prune back the diseased leaves, find the right combination of nutrients and light to make us strong and steady.

The determination of my plants to keep producing in spite of obstacles inspires me! I loved discovering the new life beneath the sad old leaves. And it gave me joy to prune away the old growth so the new could flourish.

Help!

Living from within, following your soul, being true to your deepest calling–whatever you call it it–depends on both personal determination and willingness to let others help. Habitually in the caregiver role, like many of the women I work with, learning to ask for and accept help has been a lifelong lesson.

Yesterday I sent out an email to a group of my soul sisters requesting prayer for wisdom regarding my work. I’m determined to share my unique understanding about health, spirituality and transformation with others. And, I need support in doing so.

How about you? What are you determined to do in this season of your life? Who will you ask for support?

Yesterday I passed my semi-annual breast exam with an “all’s clear” from the doctor!

Thanks be to God!

And thanks be to my own good choices over the past twenty years!

Hereditary and genetic predisposition for diseases like cancer can’t be altered–although researchers in the fields of epigenetics and psychoneuroimmunology are working on it–but how we live each day significantly impacts our risk. Research indicates that where we live, what we eat & drink, the quality of our relationships, how we manage stress, exercise and many other choices we make each day profoundly affect disease onset as well as our ability to recover.

An Example of Self-Neglect

Growing up with a mother who neglected her health gave me a good example of what not to do.

Moira Diedre Ford & Moira-Cecily Brady 1983

A diagnosis of breast cancer in her sixties did little to change her lifestyle. In fact, even after a second round of breast cancer followed by lung cancer a few years later, she smoked her Virgina Slim cigarettes right up until her last days of life.

In her last weeks of life she was confined to bed and on respiratory assistance. Yet, several times a day she’d rally the energy and strength to get out to her balcony for a smoke lest she blow up the entire house by lighting up in the vicinity of the oxygen tanks!

Mom had courageously overcome other addictions but remained a slave of nicotine until her final breath. Sadly, her cigarettes were her “precious” delight, her tonic for what ailed her, what she valued more than life itself to some degree.

Addictions do that to us. The immediate gratifications of soothed anxiety, numbed pain, and avoided interpersonal conflicts, lure us into a state of forgetfulness about our deepest values and highest aspirations.

Waking Up to My Own Need for Self-Care

My breast cancer diagnosis at age 30 woke me up to the way I’d been using alcohol to cope with mom’s dying. It was painful to visit her. My arrival was often her excuse for a smoke. “Help me up and we’ll have a visit on the balcony” she’d say with both a genuine gladness to see me and a sense of relief that she could get her fix. The last six months of her life I’d often pick up a six-pack on my way to visit and nurse a beer while she smoked her cigarette. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Six weeks after her death I received my wake up call. “Early stage…micro-invasive in-situ breast cancer…less than 5% chance of occurrence…” — none of that mattered. To me, it was cancer. And my early research indicated a correlation between alcohol use/overuse/abuse and breast cancer. Having watched my mom make poor choices for her own health, I choose a different path.

Me & Mom in a Box 1984 - Remarkable & Silly Mother

My mother was an amazing woman whose life inspired me in many ways. Her intelligence, humor, generosity, charm and diversity of friendships with men and women from all walks of life are gifts that continue to inform my development. I am forever grateful for those blessings.

Today, I also give thanks for the twisted blessings of her imperfections. I saw the damage her midlife struggle with addictions did to her well-being as well as the ways it undermined my own adolescent development. I’m grateful that my wake up calls came in my young adult years and I had her life as a model of what I didn’t want to become. I’m grateful that observing the consequences of her self-neglect inspired me to make self-care a priority. I imagine my mom is delighted that I’ve chosen the path I have. And for that, I am also grateful.

A Daily Choice

To choose a different path than those we grow up experiencing takes courage, determination and support. If your models for self-care were less than optimal, let them become inspiration for choosing a more loving way for yourself.

Find new role models. Surround yourself with people who take care of themselves and you’re more likely to do so yourself. And beware of spending too much time with those stuck in cycles of self-neglect or destructive patterns. Behaviors are contagious.

Enlist your friends, family, co-workers to support you in better self-care. One of my coaching clients gathered a group of her co-workers for a lunchtime health coaching group that I’m facilitating. Another client joined a workout studio that builds community support for fitness by creating a family atmosphere among the members.

Self-care or self-neglect. Which will you choose today?

Yesterday a client came to session stating that she didn’t think she was a good fit for coaching. She hates paperwork, forms, filling things in and writing things down. “I’m not a journaling kind of person.”

Welcome to My South Pasadena Office

It was awesome!  I love the way she took charge of what she wants and needs. She spoke her truth and started a conversation about adapting the tools and process of coaching to fit her needs and personality, not the other way around.

Women are biologically wired and socially conditioned to adaptation–to fit ourselves into other’s versions of reality rather than listen within and find our own way. This “substantial female preference to affiliate under stress” underlies the people pleasing dynamic that leads us to be silent when we want to speak up, say “yes” when we want to say “no” and compliantly fill out forms that we want to tear up and throw into the trash can!

The personalized health planning model I’m training in at Duke Integrative Medicine is a medical model. Paperwork, quantitative tools for assessing where you are now and where you’d like to be and creating measurable goals to guide behavior change are part of the package. It’s an excellent model with some solid initial research demonstrating positive health outcomes.

But, it’s just a model, not a magic formula.

I’m reminded of the scripture that says, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12.2).

Lasting change doesn’t come from the paperwork, the diets or the programs that the world has devised–many with good intentions and great benefits for some people. Transformation comes from renewing your mind, learning to attend to and  listen for your own truth, not by trying to adapt yourself to fit my model or anyone else’s.

From a Christ-centered perspective, transformation comes from deepening your connection to the mind of Christ within. To strengthen your awareness of the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control that come from the Spirit of Christ within you.  It is within you, not in a book, a pill, or  a new routine.

Wired to attend and adapt externally, even after all these years of healing work, I still excel in people pleasing.  A big part of my on-going transformation comes from mindful awareness and centering prayer practices. Turning my attention within and just being aware of what is going on within and around me, without responding, has taught me a new way of being in my body and my life. When I neglect my daily practice of twenty minutes, I notice a significant difference in my ability to hold onto myself, take a stance and not fall into social adaptation patterns that don’t benefit me or others.

Like other helping professionals, I offer services, programs and information to support transformation. But the bottom-line of what I offer is meant to help you listen to yourself, trust yourself and live from within. That is the new way of being in your body and your life.

Listen to yourself, listen to your body, know yourself and be a discriminating consumer of services, information and programs.

I loved sitting with my client yesterday. The internal listening and honesty she exhibited in our conversation about the model and her health goals will guide her toward authentic, sustainable new ways of exercising, eating and living–because she’s living from within!