Saying No: It’s not about deprivation, it’s about choice

Goals and Saying no

About 3 weeks ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a disease which can develop in pregnant women given the cocktail of hormones in their body blocking the way in which insulin reacts in the body. If unmanaged, many complications can arise for both mother and child, including early birth and a large birth-weight for baby.

In the space of a week, I got given a blood glucose monitoring system and sat down with about 8 other women to learn how to manage this disease on a day-to-day basis from now until the end of our pregnancy. Basically, proteins, vegetables and (some) fruit are encouraged, you count carbohydrates and watch your fat intake.

As I sat in the information session, I got really angry. I don’t have an athletic or supermodel body, but I have a slender build (excluding my baby bump!), I do lots of walking per day thanks to my current job, eat lots of vegetables at lunch and dinner and I would have a sugary treat of a night time. I genuinely believed and even the nutritionists had commented, that my lifestyle habits weren’t to blame for me getting this disease. It was one of those things that happened.

You are not Entitled

As a person who had never counted calories or carbohydrates, in the space of week, I had to now pace my meals, read packet labels on all my food and prick my finger 2 hours after every meal and test my blood glucose levels. I also have to test my urine each morning to make sure I’m not burning fat or muscle when I should be burning energy from my food intake. Needless to say, it was a big adjustment! Before I knew it, I was simmering in self pity and anger. This felt unjust and I was annoyed and made sure I stewed in those feelings at least once a day.

I get commented on how good I eat, why did this happen to me?
I shouldn’t have to explain to people why I can’t eat their food when it looks amazing because it’s basically carbs on plate.
I hate waiting. I shouldn’t have to wait 2 hours before I eat again after dinner. 

It was a conversation with my sister that made me realised I needed to change my thinking. For years I had felt that my body had ‘entitled’ me to the choice of what I should eat and not think of the consequences. I had accepted that eating what I want -even if I had a good opinion on what I ate- automatically meant that I should and could have it and that eating what I wanted, when I wanted, was equal to giving my body what it needed.

It’s not about deprivation, it’s about choice

I’ve been saying ‘no’ many times over the last 3 weeks to where now, it has lost it’s connotation of ‘deprivation.’ It’s not about deprivation, it’s about choice. I remind myself that I am making a choice for my health and for me. In saying no, I am looking at things in my life that I did before and being conscious on how I choose to interact with them -beyond food!

Tweet: The act of refusing is just as important as the act of accepting.

How do you interact with money? Drinking? TV? Are you making conscious decisions in your life about how you interact with these things? Do they rule you? Do you think about them? Are they helping you move forward in your life? If not, what needs to change?

No one owes you anything and we should never expect that people should. In life, the sum of our choices are the reason we are where we are today. That means, the act of refusing is just as important as the act of accepting. I refused to buy a product yesterday, not because I didn’t have the means to do so, but because it would enforce in my mind would that I have self control. I can refuse to do something if I have to. It doesn’t mean that I will never buy this product or that with food I will never touch a dessert again. It’s about realising that we each have areas in our life where we need to more balance.

Balance Acceptance & Refusal

Our culture tends to want more of everything that the act of refusing seems strange and foreign. People want immediate gratification rather than long term gain. Then those same people will complain about their low bank account, how they’ll  never get a house/car or be able to afford X or do Z, all the while never once thinking that their situation has anything to do with their mindset, habits and choices on a day-to-day level.

An ‘overnight success’ is actually someone who has slogged hundreds, if not, thousands of hours in private, before we see their achievements publicly. The key to success is balancing both acceptance and refusal while keeping the bigger picture of your goals in mind.

So say no to temporary pleasures if they don’t serve you now, and say ‘yes’ to choices which contribute to the ultimate lifestyle and goals you’re dreaming. It will be hard. For me,  it is hard, but it will help me grow and it will help me be successful.

 

The Power in Connecting: Giving Value vs Knowledge

As someone who wants to make a living out of blogging and other online endeavours, as I said in yesterday’s post, I have be consuming so much knowledge in my efforts to learn. This morning was no different except that I began to realised that I needed a bit more balance to my methods.

I truly want to help people through my blog and that doesn’t mean it has to be in big, showy, amazing ways (but that is awesome if it does!) but you, as a reader, walking away and thinking about a something I’ve shared some time after you’ve read it. As I was thinking about this, I realised that adding value is not always the same as adding knowledge -though it can be.

If I want to add value to you as a reader, I need to keep my focus on you. What would you want to learn? What do you like?

When it comes to giving knowledge, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will automatically add value to the person reading it. Reading the news is a great example of this. If you check the news first thing in the morning, most of the time, you will read about the latest events, weather or business report. After reading this, you’ll walk away with knowledge but that doesn’t mean everything you read added value to your day, where you might rethink a choice, a direction you were about to take, question your belief or change a habit.

” Tweet: If I want to add value to you as a reader, I need to keep my focus on you. What would you want to learn? What do you like? 

Which is better: adding knowledge or value?

Neither. You need both.

Your 40 page manual on how to operate a cashier register may not be thrilling reading or make you contemplate the mysteries of the afterlife, but reading it will give you an idea of what to do in your day-to-day life. On the flip side, you may discover value in having read through it when something goes wrong and being able to know what to do.

Value on the other hand, is not only about having knowledge and information, but understanding what is in there that impacts you. If you’re writing to your audience, adding value having them in mind, their thoughts, their fears and their goals and not only providing them with knowledge but delivering it with an intent to try help them in some way.

So today, my focus has changed from “what can I put out there on the internet today?” to “what could help someone?” That meant not racing to the computer straight away to write another blog post. Instead, I spent a good part of my afternoon thinking about how I could positively impact someone. I shared someone else’s content which I found valuable. I commented on someone’s blog and thanked others for their time to leave a ‘like.’ I love it when people do these things for me -it helps me realise that I’m on the right track! It helps me realise that what I’m doing is valued.

So if I can encourage you to look at your actions today whether you’re at work, speaking with your daughter/son/spouse or even writing a post in your blog: just ask yourself, how is what I’m doing about to add both knowledge and value to the person I’m interacting with today?

How to listen to a 1 hour podcast in 40 minutes

I LOVE podcasts. Not only are they (nearly) always free, but some of the best minds around can provide some amazing insights.

In the last 3 months before I finally took the plunge to start making money through an online business, I knew I had gaps in my knowledge which I needed to fill. There are plenty of great minds who have shared their strategies that lead to their success and sometimes, they go into great detail -all for free!

The problem with podcasts however, is that listening to content takes time and not every podcast you listen to will have a transcript where you could potentially search and find what you’re after.

I’ve been using several ‘hacks’ in the way I listen to podcasts, meaning I can drastically increase the rate in which I gather knowledge and information.

Up the speed

Listen to podcasts faster by using the playback adjustment settings.

Skip Ahead

This seems like a no-brainer but nearly all podcasts have introductions and advertisements that take up time. Skipping ahead will save you a ton of time in the long run. 60 seconds of podcast introduction music and advertisements skipped over in 365 days equates to a whopping 6 hours of time over a year. I could think of better things to do with that time, can’t you?

If your app/program doesn’t allow for 15 second skipping, simply fast-forwarding is the next best thing.

The Apps/Programs

Itunes using podcast app

Apple’s Podcast App (Phone/ipod only): In the podcast app, simply hit the speed button from 1x to 1.5x.  The software within the app will adjust the tone of the voices so that they don’t sound like chipmunks, but will speed up the audio so you can listen to a 60 minute podcast in 40 minutes.
Podcast Addict.png

Podcast Addict (Android users): This is one of the most popular downloads in the android world for podcasts. As with iOS podcast app, there is a built in speed adjustment, but it has more control, letting you slide to a comfortable speed as apposed to being forced to use “1.5x” or “2x.”

 

Podcast using Overcast

Overcast (Apple App): Overcast is another way to listen to your podcasts quickly, however, unlike iTunes, it will not only speed up podcasts, but it will delete pauses/silences within the audio, giving you even more time to listen.

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VLC Player (Android/IOS/Apple App): I’ve used this program to not only speed up podcasts but also video and lectures. Completely free and is a program that has been around for years. It’s also got great compatibility with other audio/video formats which is sometimes handy to have if you consume various types of digital media.

But all this is useless unless you APPLY what you’ve learned

We live in a world which loves to consume content and yet just like those new year’s resolutions everyone makes, if you don’t act on what you learn, none of these tips will do anything for you! Don’t be an information glutton. Work on implementing what you’ve learned.

Attitude of Gratitude: A Powerful Tool in Fighting Stress & Anxiety

Attitude of GratitudeRecently I was reading a book by Peter Voogd, an online entrepreneur who has made 6-figure income and now an online business. While in his book he contains many worthy nuggets of valuable information, today I was reminded again of the habit which many entrepreneurs are a daily ritual in their lives.

Gratitude.

It seems strange that out of a business book I pick this as something to focus on but not only is it a consistent topic that has coe up in my week, it’s also something I very much undervalued. Like you, I don’t want to be in the same place next year as I am this year financially, relationally, physically or emotionally. I want to move forward and be in a better position in all these areas. However, in my efforts to grow, I would read/hear this again and again and yet not practice gratitude, even when successful business figures like Peter Voogd, Hal Elrod, Lewis Howes and Tim Ferris all have mentioned some sort of daily habit that incorporates this. For me, I couldn’t see how a pen and paper and writing down a few things I’m grateful for would have such a benefit to my day-to-day life until I had a really, bad day.

Last week I had hit a big slump emotionally. As it stands, I am finishing up at my job soon to go on maternity leave for the arrival of baby in October, and with it came a whole lot of anxiety about no longer being able to contribute financially for a period of time through that and knowing that life as I’ve known it, was about to be turned on its head. I was obsessing over the budget and strategies for making an income after my baby was born without having to go back to a job. I tied myself up in so many emotional knots of anxiety that I was loosing sleep of a night.

It was at 2am that morning after tossing and turning for hours that I finally started practicing being thankful. I started with a rapid fire approach, mentally listing everything I was thankful for from my apartment, having an income right now, having a child in the coming months and even having the things I owned which brought me joy.  After a minute or two, I started to slow down and really think and feel thankful for things that came to mind, as apposed to “filling a list” in my mind. Within a few minutes my stress had subsided and I fell asleep. The follow day, I still ended up stressing again on the problems of yesterday. They were still there! However, again, I gave thanks and within a few minutes, I felt relieved and focused on more positive outlook for the day.

The benefits

In an article by Alex Korb, American researchers Emmons and McCullough found giving thanks and specifically, keeping a gratitude journal, directly affected student’s determination levels, attention, enthusiasm and energy levels.

Behaviourally, because gratitude increased levels of optimism, this helped see greater improvements in exercise patterns. It even indicated a reduction in aches and pains.

Finally, it goes without saying, that if such benefits mentioned above were prevalent just from just the act of practicing gratitude,  psychologically, symptoms of depression and anxiety can be significantly decreased. Further confirmation to me that my anxiety levels decreasing were no accident!

Real life practice

There are a few ways to practice thankfulness with varying degrees of effectiveness. Ultimately, the amount of consistent effort you put into anything will eventually reap great benefits. The act of gratitude is no different.

Have a list

Having a card of the things in your life you are grateful for written down and on the ready for quick referencing is one way of cultivating gratitude in your life. Peter Voogd in his book, The Entrepreneurs Blueprint to Massive Success, he says: “So whenever I had a challenge, I thought about those 15-20 things I’m grateful for. Not even 2 minutes later, I’d be completely out of my funk. There are so many things to be grateful for everyday that we completely take for granted unless we make a conscious effort to appreciate [them].”

Mental exercise

Just like I mentioned earlier in the post, when it just isn’t practical to make a pen-and-paper list of the things you’re grateful for, mentally taking a moment to think of things you’re grateful for can be a very effective practice for immediate calming results. As a person of faith, I thanked God simply by starting a prayer. Each sentence started with “thank you God for giving me …..” and listing a thing I had, events of the week/month/year or people who helped me.

Daily journal

Both Peter Voogd and Lewis Howes have mentioned in their podcasts that at the end of their day, they will write down at least 5 things that they are grateful for. Unlike the “having a list” method, this process is more active and dynamic. While you can list things in your life that you are grateful for, additionally, keeping a journal means reflecting on the day and searching for the good things in it which you otherwise would’ve taken for granted.

What can you be thankful for?

When you’re stuck, depressed and stressed, sometimes it can be hard to get started on what you can be thankful for, especially if you’re completely overwhelmed in the moment. Don’t worry about coming up with amazing things in your life

People
What people helped you today? Better yet, what people challenged you? Don’t just look for people who have lifted you up or inspired you. Annoying or difficult people can also be areas to be grateful in, if you didn’t buy into their negativity or they showed you aspects of your own personality which you wouldn’t have seen without them.

Possessions
Try and also think about things you own too. Even having a roof over your head, a car and food to eat are all things that people in other parts of the world could only dream about.

Health
You can have a chronic illness and still be grateful for what you can do. Nick Vicjic is a prime example of someone who has has every reason to be depressed over his body and yet has a hugely full life. Michael J Fox still finds blessings in life even after having Parkinson’s disease. There is always something you can be grateful for when it comes to you physical well-being -even if your body isn’t 100%.

Personal Growth 
From a book to a podcast to a video or a event – what have you learned today that has helped you grow? Did you react differently to a situation or event today that otherwise would’ve sent you over the edge previously? What habits have you consistently done?

The Importance of Practice

If you, like me, know that thankfulness can have a positive and even radical effect in your life, it’s important to not just consume the knowledge and walk away from it. Implementing a habit or ritual in your life so that it is consistently applied is so, so important.  For me, even if it is just a note in my phone, I will be making a list of 5 things I’m thankful for each day and a sentence or two on why I’m grateful for them.