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Setting Good Intentions

Setting Good Intentions

Do you know how you get psyched after reading or hearing about someone who has “done it” by visualizing a new, thinner self? You know the feeling: you suddenly decide that today is the day to change gears. So you set those good intentions down on a sheet of paper and tape it to the mirror knowing that tomorrow will bring the birth of the brand-new you. You’re unstoppable! How could you go wrong; you’ve set your good intentions and you’re committed, right?

Except the next morning comes, and you fly out of bed, and before you know it, you have consumed the same bagel and cream cheese that you enjoy every morning, and the day has officially gotten away from you. In fact, you barely even remember setting your good intentions the night before. “Wow!” you think to yourself, “A momentary memory lapse. If I had noticed the list on the mirror, I certainly would have started off differently.” Alas, it’s the same old story. The next thing you know, you’ve downed a burger and fries for lunch and you’re sitting there feeling a little bloated looking over that optimistic list of your good intentions. What happened? Is early onset senility to blame, are you just weak, or is this a bad habit? You aren’t senile and you aren’t weak, you are merely bound by a habit that resides in your mind. So, how does one go about breaking the habit? How does one go about setting good intentions and living by them? We throw words about all the time, but that’s the extent of what many of us do with words: we just throw them around. Well, how about trying to put them to work today?

To a certain degree, we all know how to begin. Let’s say, for instance, that you decided right now, this very moment to start eating cleaner. By that, I mean a day of consuming low-fat, high-fiber foods, with plenty of water and no excuses!! When you do this, you will end the day feeling good about yourself and what you have eaten. You will also feel a little bit hungry just before you fall asleep, and in essence, you will have had a perfect day. Doesn’t really sound so hard, does it? It’s not, but when is the last time you had a solid day? Just one? Therefore, we are going to say that today is going to be the day. If you are reading this later in the evening, then the first thing in the morning will be your turning point. So, the night before, or at this very moment, I want you to notice how you feel. Do you feel tired, depressed, bloated, uncomfortable, angry? Well, let’s change all of that. We just said that right this very moment you would take the first step toward having a good day, just one good day. Right this moment, I want you to make a commitment to yourself. I want you to do the following to set your good intentions for the rest of the day or for tomorrow morning.

First off, please don’t just read this and imagine that it would be a good thing to do! Please, let’s stop for a minute, and let’s finally identify, and then break, this habit! I want you to close your eyes-okay, read the next part first, and then close your eyes and do it. So then, with your eyes closed, set the intention that for the next 24 hours, you will not allow any excuse to make you compromise a single meal or keep you from going to sleep a little bit hungry. When you learn to do this, you will have a green eating, water drinking, and a perfectly clean day. How does saying that to yourself make you feel?

Listen to your breath, to your mind, to your energy. Do you feel anxious? Are a few excuses popping into your head already? Maybe something like, “Well, okay, I can try this, but today is already not perfect, so I will finish out the rest of the day and then do this in the morning.” Or perhaps you are thinking, “Okay, this sounds good, but I have that get-together tonight at that really great Mexican restaurant, so I will set my intention to have 24 perfect hours after dinner. If you had thoughts like these, I can tell you that you will not have a clean day today, and you will probably not have one tomorrow, either. You see, this is the habitual mind chatter that you allow to stop you every step of the way. So, let’s try again. With your eyes closed, tell yourself that today, right now, you will begin to have a perfect excuse-free day.

Think through all the obstacles you will face. Obstacles are real, and you think obstacles have continually stopped you from getting to your goal weight; however, it’s not the obstacles that have stopped you; it is you who have stopped yourself. There are no excuses that justify eating poorly right now, and if you truly want to lose weight, then why don’t you? Why do you fight yourself day after day? I can tell you this: if now is not the time to start losing it, then it never will be time. So, when the excuses start to pop up, put them aside and tell your mind to stop sabotaging you. We are only looking for one clean day! No matter what you had planned for this day or this evening, put it aside, and allow your breath to begin to relax; allow your mind to release itself of all the chatter and excuses as to why you can’t do this now. Don’t just read these words; act on them! Feel your body begin to relax to the realization that all that has stopped you from reaching your goal is yourself, not your hectic life or your job or your kids or your husband, or your new girlfriend. Only you have stopped yourself from losing that weight. Keep listening to your mind and body and allow this truth to permeate your essence. Feel your truth growing stronger every time you push aside an excuse and become more of who you are. Good for you!

Next, I want you to visualize all of the interactions you will have with food for the rest of the day. Think about when and what you will eat. Think about the meals you will prepare. Where are you going to get the food? Do you have it in the house or need to run to the store? Think through every bit of your day. What if your mind says, “I just don’t have anything in the house to eat, and I’m not going grocery shopping this late at night!” Well, that is your mind again reaching for a negative. If you go with it and agree with its restrictive message, then you-not the hour of the night or the lack of food-only you, are stopping yourself from reaching your goal. Sure, it’s going to be inconvenient at times, but so what? That’s the way it is. So, think about where you will have your next meal, what you will have, and how perfect it will be. Let your breath relax and become full knowing you are calm and self-assured. If the next stop is the grocery store, then get moving, knowing you are honoring yourself.

While you’re visualizing, think about the water you will drink today. Where are you going to drink it, and how will you make sure that it is available? Sound silly? Well, it might sound silly, but it isn’t at all! It is necessary to set your intention while your body and mind are at peace and feeling relaxed so that the thought can penetrate your mind and soul. When you open your eyes, you will feel stronger, more prepared to continue with your day, and you will have taken the first solid step toward reaching your goal.

You might have to do this between every meal, but it only takes a moment, and we all have a moment. Now, if your mind just said that you don’t have even a moment and that Berta can’t possibly understand how much you have on your plate, know that I don’t care about your plate! I care about you and your weight and your health. Those thoughts about busy, busy you are just huge, habitual excuses that need to be finally put to rest.

Lastly, before you drift off to sleep, do this again, but with thanks and gratitude for having the strength and clarity of mind to have had a good day. Know in your mind and heart that tomorrow will also be a good day, and be thankful for the fortitude you had all day and the peace of mind that you have at this moment. This will bring you to the most important next moment, the one when your alarm chimes in the morning. Don’t hop right out of bed! Instead, close your eyes, take that deep breath, and visualize your day. Allow the excuses to surface and dissipate. Then see your breakfast, and envision everything you will eat and drink. Next, slowly move to lunch and then to dinner and keep going until you have seen your entire perfect day. Stay where you are until your breath and mind are calm and at peace. Continue this practice between meals just to make sure your mind is relaxed, and you will see how quickly your day passes without incident. And on this night, once again thank yourself for another perfect day!

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