I have the best job in the world! I work with some amazing men and women who are improving their health, their fitness and their outlook on the world. Life is an amazing, twisty-turny roller coaster ride and, if you’re lucky, it’s full of crazy adventures with endings that give you a greater appreciation for your life.
My job as a health coach is to support people in their health journey, to facilitate the changes they want to make, and celebrate the victories. I have clients who have taken on life’s challenges with enthusiasm, seeing obstacles as something to move through or around rather than signal to wave the white flag. Their attitude inspires me, and reminds me that it’s never about the obstacles; it’s about how you choose to think about them that determines what happens next.
Imagine living a life of privilege riding horses, playing golf and not worrying about bills and health insurance and taxes. Imagine almost overnight all that changing, being ripped away, and left with a broken body that feels foreign and hostile. How do you get your life back on track after such a shift?
This client of mine (who has given me permission to share her story) recreated her life and was literally standing on her own two feet again being wheelchair-bound. While her new life included struggles that would accompany her for the duration, she was feeling empowered and balanced, that life was ‘back on track.’ However ‘back on track’ didn’t last, as another injury and another stint in a wheelchair consumed months of her life.
Again, she recreated her life one piece at a time. Her attitude of focusing on what she wanted, on what she could do rather than what she could no longer do, keeps her moving forward and onward to new adventures. When I speak to her I am in awe of her ability to remain dedicated to living in the now, and enjoying her abilities rather than any dis-abilities.
I have several clients who suffer from chronic pain. Unless you have experienced pain without end, you may not understand how utterly exhausting it is. Whether the pain is the blare of an air horn or tinkling of chimes, the constancy of it wears on the soul. It is a tremendous challenge not to give in to it by loading up on painkillers and laying about in languor and apathy. Life moves on whether you are lying on the sofa or experiencing the ride full throttle. Those who have found ways to move the noise of their pain into the background by using meditation, gratitude and movement inspire me; the grace and joi de vivre with which they approach the world reminds me that the minor annoyances of daily life — grocery lines, traffic snarls, burnt toast — are irrelevant.
My most successful clients are the ones who come to understand the role the brain plays in health, fitness and wellness. If you focus on what you no longer have, such as the ability to get down on the floor or the stamina to hike Half Dome, your perception of yourself becomes negative, which perpetuates more negative.
If you focus on the joys that are in your life, the things that your body still does for you, then you empower yourself to build on the positive instead of the negative. The hardest part is monitoring the talk that happens in between your ears. Putting on a brave face for the world is often easier than changing the dialog that happens in your head. Your self-talk will set your mood and your attitude, so be thoughtful of your thoughts!
Try this: when you retire for the evening, as you relax and begin to drift off, list the ways in which you are grateful for your body. Let those thoughts be the last ones of your day, the ones that lead into your dreams and notice how this changes your mood upon waking. As always, let me know what you think, questions you have or experiences that you want to share.
Read more of Virginia Eaton’s blog posts here.
Virginia Eaton is the owner of Oakhurst wellness center Class: The Body Pastiche