words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the tag “Change”

Is nothing changing?

words by nerissa blogHave you ever wanted something to change?

Have you ever worked towards something, thinking that nothing is happening, your goal is no closer, or your circumstances are no different, despite the hard yards you are putting in?

Let me tell you, changes ARE happening.

The other week, I took my kids to get their hair cut. On the way, my  son spoke up.

“You know what’s weird?” he asked.

“What?”

“Well, your hair is growing all the time, but you can’t really see it growing when you look at it. It’s only when you look at it after some time has gone by that you notice it’s different. That it needs cutting.”

WOW!

Often we get impatient and want to see results now.

Society has conditioned us to expect things straight away. A typical example is the weight-loss industry. How many ‘quick-fixes’ are doing the rounds? (Countless) How many of them work? (None — at least not for the long-term) How many people still buy into them? (Millions).

Why? Because people want an instant result. Even though their head may tell them it won’t work, in their heart they are desperate for it to. They can’t bear the thought of weight-loss taking time.

Similarly, how many people spend money on the lottery every week? (I’m not sure, but I’d guess the number is in the thousands). Why? Because they want to ‘get rich quick’.

The same thing with tax-returns. Some accounting firms now offer ‘instant tax returns’ — some even promising cash within the hour! Why? Because as a society we have forgotten the art of being patient.

Sometimes we can get so caught up with ‘seeing immediate results’, that we miss the other things that may be happening around us.

My beautiful boy, (like millions of other kids) is a living testament that hundreds or even thousands of changes are happening all the time.

As he is about to transition from primary school to high school, I can’t help but think back to when he was a baby. I remember the day he came home from hospital — so tiny and helpless. His legs and arms were long and thin, reminding me of a skinned rabbit. His hands so tiny in mine.

From this...to this

From this…to this

Day after day I would care for him, talk to him, read to him, walk with him, and it seemed as if he gave nothing in return. It seemed like all he did was eat, sleep (although he didn’t do much of that!) and require plenty of nappy changes. But bit by bit, little changes were happening. His hair grew, his eyelashes grew and he needed the next size in clothes. After a few months he rolled over. A few months later he sat up, began to talk and once he was walking our little baby had gone and in his place was a toddler.

Like many parents, I would catch myself thinking that I couldn’t wait for a certain stage to be over — “I can’t wait until he sleeps through the night”. “Won’t it be great when he is out of nappies?” “Imagine when he can get in the car by himself and do up his own seat belt.”

Some of the stages were difficult and some were delightful. However, all of them were necessary in his growth as a boy.

Fast forward almost 12 years and he is now only a centimetre or two off my height. Over the past 12 years, countless changes have occurred. Some of them I noticed along the way yet others have snuck up on me.

These changes may be almost 12 years in the making, but in some ways, they have all happened too quickly. When I take a step back, it’s hard to believe the young man in front of me was the same little bundle I brought home from hospital.

Things in our lives are changing all the time. Yet when we look for changes we never seem to see them. Sometimes all we can see is the difficult stage and we find ourselves wishing for the next stage — “I can’t wait until my business is profitable.” “Won’t it be great when we own our own house?” “I wish I was a size 10 NOW!”

But the difficult stage is necessary, just as the delightful stage is necessary. In every stage there are lessons to learn, foundations to build, and changes to consolidate. Even though we may not be seeing many changes (or the changes we want to see), they are happening regardless.

If you are impatiently waiting for something to change in your life, then keep waiting. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey you are on. Don’t forget to look at everything else that is happening in your life. Everything that is good and even the stuff that’s not so good.

If all you ever do is focus on what is NOT happening, you’ll go through your life miserable and frustrated.

So take a step back and look around you. Take it all in. And when you glance back at the thing you are hoping will change, I’m sure you’ll find that it has.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

 So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

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My greatest inspiration

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My two biggest inspirations.

Why do you do what you do?

Why do you work? Why do you exercise? Why do you run a taxi service to your kids in your spare time? Why do you go to church?

Why do you REALLY do these things?

Maybe you don’t know. Maybe you’ve never taken the time to think about it before. Maybe you think you know, but you really don’t. Maybe you don’t even care.

However, if you don’t know the real reason behind the choices you make every day, then what you are doing is not really a choice. It’s either a habit, something you feel you ‘have to’ or ‘should do’, or something you do because everyone else is doing it.

When you know your real reason — your ‘WHY’ for doing the things you do, then the actual performing of these tasks (no matter how unpleasant/boring/time-wasting they may be), has a little more meaning, and therefore a purpose. It becomes easier to ‘roll with life’, because you are no longer just going through the motions, wondering what it’s all for.

Instead, your life becomes more focused, more meaningful and a lot happier. Because all of a sudden, you’re not just ‘going to work to pay the bills’. Instead, you ‘re ‘working so you can take that overseas trip’, or you’re driving the kids around ‘so they have an opportunity to develop friendships’.

See the difference?

The same goes for taking care of your health. Many of us say we ‘need to lose weight’ or ‘want to get fit’. Why?

If you ‘need to lose weight’ because everyone else is on a diet, then that’s not a good reason. If you ‘want to get fit’ because Cross-fit is the new best thing, then that’s not a reason either. Even a doctor telling you that you need to do something about your health is not a reason, unless it is YOUR reason. You have to own your reason. You have to really understand WHY you do the things you do.

I have recently done this with regard to my health. What started out as ‘wanting to lose weight’ has evolved into something more meaningful. I no longer care about my ‘weight’, because I have learnt that weight is only a small measure of the kind of person I am. Sure, I want to be living in a body that can continue to move as I age. I want to feel healthy and vibrant and enjoy life as I get older. I do want to feel good and happy about who I am. And the vainer part of me wants to look good! But my real reason — my WHY for training and eating and changing my life for the better, is not about me anymore.

It’s about the dream I have for my kids.

I don’t want them to bury me before my time or to watch me die from a disease I can prevent. I don’t want them to spend their adulthood caring for me, because I haven’t taken good care of myself. I don’t want them to spend their time taking me to doctors, hospitals and medical appointments, or worrying about my health. I want to know my grandkids and have a quality relationship with them. I want to do things with my family, rather than just watch from the sidelines. I want our time together on this earth to be of the highest quality it can be, doing things that matter and things that make us happy. Making happy memories instead of sad ones.

I want my kids to be happy. I want them to know what makes them happy. I want them to be strong enough in themselves to be who THEY want to be, not what the world tells them they should be. I want them to follow their own dreams and passions, whatever they are, and regardless of what others may say about it.

I want my kids to love and value themselves, and to see value in everyone they meet. I want them to inspire and encourage others to be better people. I want them to bring joy to the lives of others, simply by being themselves. I want them to respect themselves and those around them.

I want them to develop a love for healthy food and exercise, so they can live healthy lives. I don’t want them fighting disease, illness or depression. Instead, I want them to make the most out of life.

don't tell people your dreamsI want my kids to be the best they can be and know it’s okay to aspire to greatness. I want them to be proud of who they are as people and what they contribute to the world. I want them to value their uniqueness and special gifts they have been blessed with, and to use those gifts to help others.

I want them to be resilient enough to rise above negativity and hate, and know that when they experience that, it is not a reflection of them, but rather the person who is being negative and hateful. I want them to be confident in who they are, and to never, ever let others’ negativity get the better of them, or cause them to think negatively of themselves.

I want them to seize opportunities when they come along, without worrying about whether they are ‘good enough’ to follow through. I want them to be confident in themselves and their abilities. I want them to trust themselves, and know that they will always find a solution to a problem.

I realise that is a pretty big dream I have for my kids. But I believe it is a worthy dream.

While it’s true that none of us can control how our kids’ lives turn out, we do have an opportunity to model to them what we value in life.

I’m not saying that I am all of the above — but I am working on being so.

The interesting thing about all of this is that since writing down WHY I am making positive changes in my life, I find myself reflecting on the above while I am doing other seemingly mundane and meaningless things such as cleaning the bathroom, doing the grocery shopping and taking out the rubbish.

Although I am not fully embracing the less appealing tasks involved in raising kids, every now and then I catch myself thinking “Why am I REALLY doing this?” And it causes me to turn my negative feelings about these jobs into more meaningful ones.

Why do you do what you do?

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

7 secrets to weight loss

scales2If you’re reading this, you probably need to lose weight.

This is not a judgement about you, rather a statement based upon obesity statistics in Australia.

You see, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australia has been steadily rising for the past 30 years. The latest statistics from the National Health and Medical Research Council, indicate that around 60 per cent of Australian adults are classified as overweight or obese and more than 25 per cent of these, fall into the obese category.

Did you even know that?

Even more worrying is the obesity rates of our children — our next generation — are increasing too. It is estimated that around one in four children aged 5-17 years, are classified as overweight. Six per cent of these are obese.

However, I believe there is something even sadder than being overweight.

And that is the lengths — at best, ridiculous and at worst, dangerous — that people will do to shed extra kilos.

Now I am no expert in medicine, nutrition, exercise or weight loss. I don’t hold any official qualifications in any of those areas. But there are some secrets surrounding weight loss that you may not know.

Today, I am going to share them with you.

Secret No. 1 — Weight loss is not about weight loss

“What do you mean?” I hear you ask. Just that. Losing weight shouldn’t be about ‘weight loss’. Too many people focus on a number on a scale and think if that number is going down, they have lost weight. Hooray!

But what have they lost? Certainly weight. But is it the kind of weight you want to lose? If we are honest, we want (or need) to lose FAT. But most of us avoid using the word fat, because it has lots of negative connotations. So we use the word ‘weight’. It’s a bit more touchy-feely and less confronting, isn’t it?

But when you focus on losing weight, as opposed to losing fat, then you tend to focus on a number on the scale. A decrease in number on the scale can mean fat loss, but it can also mean fluid loss and muscle loss. This is more so the case, when following a fad diet or a ‘quick-fix’, (more on that later). So change your thinking and focus on ‘fat loss’.

Secret No. 2 — Weight loss is not about the scale

Losing weight (and you know I mean losing fat), should never, ever be about the scale. Sure, your doctor may have recommended you lose 20kg to improve your health. But if you lose 19.7kg have you failed? Will you still be striving, obsessing, doing whatever it takes to lose that extra 300g?

I would argue that if you are fixated on a scale, then yes, you would. Why? Because your focus has been on a number on a scale, rather than the health benefits gained by losing excess fat. Is an extra 300g going to make a HUGE difference to your health? I’m not a physician, but I would hazard a guess and say “no”.

So stop obsessing about the scale and the numbers on it. Instead focus on your health, how you are feeling, how your clothes are fitting and how much more energy you have. These are all much more positive things to think about.

Secret No. 3 — Too much weight is put on a scale (pardon the pun).

When you are on a mission to lose weight, what is your focus? I mean, your main focus? Those darned scales, I bet. You jump on them when you wake up to see how much you weigh. You get on them after breakfast to see how much you ‘gained’. You have a sneaky weigh after going to the toilet. Hooray! You’ve lost half a kilo! You have a final weigh-in before bed to discover, (gasp!) you have gained a kilo since lunchtime! And if you are going to a weight loss meeting, you check your weight all day long and avoid drinking in case it ‘shows on the scales’.

Sound familiar?

How does weighing yourself make you feel? I’ll tell you how you feel. One minute you feel ecstatic, then next concerned, then you are happy again, but that soon turns to feeling overwhelmed, depressed, worthless, angry, frustrated and disgusted with yourself. And then the cycle starts again the next day.

Instead of reveling in and celebrating the fact you are making positive changes for your health in your life, you are instead riding a roller coaster of emotions, all day long. scalesAnd there are usually more downs than ups.

Our personal worth should not be caught up in scales, and nor should the value of making a healthy lifestyle change. Scales don’t congratulate us for drinking more water. They don’t clap when you avoided chocolate all day. They don’t say “well done”, for going for a walk. They certainly don’t reflect all the positive things about you — like what a good mother you are, how kind-hearted you are, what a creative thinker you are, how organised you can be or how your sense of humour makes others feel happy.

So the secret is out — get rid of the scales.

Secret No. 4 — To lose weight, you need to eat…and drink…and move!

“No, no, no!” you say. “You have to cut kilojoules to lose weight!”

Well, yes — and no!

Too many people think that cutting back on their kilojoules, omitting food groups and eating smaller portions is the way to lose weight. Wrong.

It might work in the short-term, but just how long can you avoid bread or potatoes? Are you prepared to eat entrée serves of steamed veggies and rubbery chicken for the rest of your life? Prepared to give up chocolate and ice-cream forever, in the quest of being ‘thin’?

Yes, it’s true you do have to cut back on your kilojoule intake if you want to lose fat. But you shouldn’t be eliminate food groups or reduce your food so much that you barely eat a thing. What this will do (along with leaving you tired, lethargic and cranky) is slow your metabolism down. And when you start eating again (because you will), you will gain anything that you lost and then some — only to start the process over again. Sigh!

Focus on eating whole foods that will nourish you, and get rid of processed foods. And don’t vow to live the rest of your life without the foods you enjoy. Seriously, no fat-free, sugar-free, preservative and chemical-laden food will replace the sensation of eating real chocolate, so eat the chocolate for heaven’s sake, if you really crave it. You’ll be satisfied and less likely to trawl through your pantry munching your way through a multitude of substitutes, only to end up eating the chocolate anyway.

Don’t be afraid of food. Eat it, enjoy it, be creative with it and savour it. Our bodies need REAL food for energy, for nourishment and for enjoyment. Food is your friend if you want to lose fat. And so is water. Don’t be afraid to drink it. After all, it won’t ‘show on the scales’ now you have ditched them!

And don’t forget you need to move. I am not a qualified exercise physiologist or a personal trainer, so won’t be giving advice on exercise. The only thing I will say is our bodies were designed to move. They were not designed to sit in a car, sit at a desk and sit on a couch for the majority of the day.

So seek the advice of a professional as to how to exercise, and then go and do it. The only pre-requisite…you need to enjoy it.

Secret No. 7 — Eating is never about the food

Believe or not, eating is not about food. That’s right. Eating is NOT about food.

Yes, we eat food, but our reasons for eating are purely about our feelings. We eat to celebrate, we eat because we feel hungry, we eat because we feel thirsty, we eat because we are angry, or sad. We eat to mask our loneliness or our boredom. We eat because we feel it’s the ‘right thing to do’ and we don’t want to offend people.

One of the secrets to fat loss is taking the emotion out of the food. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy eating. But instead try to focus on your reason for eating. If you are physically hungry, then eat, ensuring it is something nourishing that will take you closer to your goals. A whole packet of Tim Tams does not fall into this category!

If you want to eat (but aren’t actually hungry), then stop and  identify the real reason you want to eat. If you are bored, find something to do. If you are sad, phone a friend. Doing these things won’t mean you won’t eat . It just means you are more aware (and are consciously choosing whether to eat or not).

Secret No. 6 — Weight loss takes time

You might think you already knew this, but how many ‘quick-fixes’ or fad diets have you done? Be honest! “I’ll just do the shake diet to kick-start my weight loss” or “I’ve got a wedding in three weeks, and I have to fit into my dress. I’ve heard those body wraps give really good results.”

Seriously, get real. No fad, no gimmick and no quick-fix will work. Accept this as fact. Save your money and your sanity and accept that you didn’t gain 15 kilos in 2 weeks, so you’re not going to lose it in that time.

The best thing you can do is accept that it is going to take time to reduce your girth and then put your head down and get on with it.

secret to weight lossSecret No. 6 — Quick-fixes, fad diets and gimmicks don’t work

Now, use a bit of common sense for a minute. If all of these magic pills and potions and shakes and wraps worked, wouldn’t we all be a healthy weight?

Some of those quick-fixes out there are just plain ridiculous. Some are dangerous. For example, I saw a post on Facebook the other day advertising body wraps as a way to lose weight. Firstly, they cost a bomb, secondly they claimed to “go into your pores and attack your fat cells, releasing toxins which you urinate out by drinking lots of water”. Seriously, that doesn’t happen. And there is no medical or scientific evidence to prove it.

But here is the dangerous bit. While ‘wrapping’, you are supposed to drink half your body weight in water. Yes, that’s right — half your body weight. So if you weigh 80kg, then you need to drink 40 litres of water. Firstly, that’s impossible. Secondly, that’s fatal.

Your long-term health is more valuable than fitting into a little black dress, or having a ‘beach-ready body’. If something sounds too good to be true, then it’s not worth the piece of paper it’s written on. Please, please, please say “no” to these fads and gimmicks and put your health first.

Secret No. 7 — Losing weight won’t make you happy

Finally, you need to know that losing weight losing FAT will not make you happy.

“Sure”, you say. “I’ll be happier when I can do my jeans up,” or “I’ll be stoked to be seen on the beach this summer”.

While that may be true, I am willing to bet that if you are not currently happy with your life and happy with whom you are, then having a body like a model will not make you any happier.

Yes, you might slim down and have people stopping you in the street telling you how fabulous you look. But if you don’t already believe that you are fabulous, it won’t mean a thing. You see, the voice in your head that already tells you, you are useless, will be telling you that you’re a fake, that you don’t deserve these comments. And then any results you have achieved will slowly, but surely disappear as you comfort eat your way through a tub of ice-cream and you will still be the same, unhappy person you already were, only you would have gained back all the weight (fat) that you lost.

This is probably the most under-rated secret of them all. I believe you need to love yourself as you are NOW, to be successful in changing your weight.Weight does not dictate your health or your worth

This is probably the hardest thing to do as well, particularly if you have loathed or at the very least, disliked yourself for a while.

If you love yourself, you believe you deserve the best. You believe that you should take care of yourself. You believe you are important. You believe you are unique. You believe you are worth something and can offer something important to the world.

When you really, truly believe all these things, then you will be happy, regardless of what your body is like. No number on the scale, no size tag in your jeans can make you value yourself for the remarkable human being that you are.

 

As we move out of winter and into spring, advertising for weight loss companies will begin in earnest. Distributors will begin spruiking the benefits of their latest, crazy and ridiculous products, “guaranteed to help you lose weight”. Magazines will be filled with menu plans and ‘diets’ that the rich and famous have been on with “remarkable” results. And you will be feeling the pull, the temptation to jump on one of these bandwagons, hoping that it will take you into ‘slim-city’.

My hope in writing this post, is to encourage you (if indeed you need/want to lose fat) to go about it sensibly.

Don’t get caught up in the hype. Don’t invest your time and money in something that won’t work. Don’t get obsessive about your weight. And don’t forget this about being healthy, not thin.

Most importantly, remember you are worth something, no matter what your body shape.

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

 

10 tips to make a change

Over the past 12 weeks, I (along with 18 other people) have undertaken a 12-week Transformation Challenge.far from what I once was

While the focus has been on transforming our bodies (into one that has more muscle and less fat), for me the challenge has been more about transforming my mind. I have made changes to the way I think about food and exercise, the way I think about my goals and the way I go about chasing them down. I have made changes to my attitude towards setting big goals and I have changed the way I see myself. I have also made changes in the amount of self-belief and confidence I have, in all areas of my life. All of these changes have been positive ones.

While I knew that undertaking this challenge would involve hard work, I thought the process would be reasonably straight forward, seeing as I have done two before this. However, this challenge turned out to be one that taught me the most.

So, I thought I would share with you some of the things that I have learnt over these past 12 weeks.

  1. There is no such thing as a comfort zone — so keep moving ahead. If you want to make change, then you are obviously not comfortable where you are, nor do you want to go back to old habits. Moving towards your goals will involve doing things you are not comfortable with, but if you are going to be uncomfortable anyway, why not move in the direction of your dreams?
  2. Motivating others also motivates you. When you become part of someone else’s cheer squad, the positive energy and encouragement you give to them rubs off on you. So next time you lack motivation, try encouraging someone who is working hard at reaching their goals — and you will feel encouraged to keep pushing through.
  3. You must compare apples with apples. There is no joy to be gained by comparing yourself, or your journey with someone else. Everyone has obstacles to overcome, but they differ for everyone. Everyone has different goals they want to achieve. So comparing yourself with your perception of someone else, will only distract you from your progress. If you must compare, compare yourself now to yourself 3 months ago, 6 months ago or 12 months ago.
  4. Time goes by anyway. Regardless of how you are feeling in the moment, time is still ticking by. Sure, you may not feel like taking the steps you know will lead you closer to your goals. (I had a week where I was not particularly motivated to eat well or do all of my workouts). But don’t let your feelings dictate your progress. Do what needs to be done, regardless of what you ‘feel like doing’. Because if you don’t, you will kick yourself. (And yes, for the record, I did every prescribed workout during the whole 12 weeks.)
  5. There are opportunities everywhere. It doesn’t matter what you are working towards (e.g. a better body, improved health, the job of your dreams, buying your first house, etc.), there are always opportunities to move you closer to that dream if you look for them. When you spot one, make the most of it.
  6. Food does not solve problems. During the past 12 weeks, I had a health scare. Luckily it was just a scare. But I was tempted to turn to food (a McDonald’s sundae with the kids to be exact), to comfort myself. What I realised however, is that no amount of ice-cream was going to change the situation, ease my worry or alleviate the stress. So I said ‘no’. Instead, I drank my water and focussed on positive thoughts.
  7. Small achievements add up to big ones. It can be daunting to set out to achieve a goal. Particularly if you have a fair way to go to achieve it. However, instead of focussing on all you have to do, focus on little steps. During this 12 weeks, in each workout I focused on getting out one more rep, or increasing the weight just that little bit. When I compare what I was pulling and pushing 12 weeks ago to what I can do now, the difference is huge.
  8. You are stronger than you think. I’m not referring to physical strength, but mental strength. Undertaking a challenge (of any kind) should require you to push your mind to places you never thought you could go. Don’t run from the challenge. Instead, embrace it and see just how far you can go. There is no shame in failing. Only in giving up before you give it a go.
  9. Focus on what you DO HAVE and what you CAN DO.  It is very easy to make excuses as to why you don’t achieve what you say you want to achieve. But if you are serious, you won’t let obstacles stand in your way. No one has all the resources they need at their disposal. Sometimes money or time may be limited. Sometimes you need more knowledge or experience. Instead of using these limitations as excuses why you can’t achieve something, focus on what you do have and can do. When you take action, things begin to fall into place. And the very obstacles that you saw standing in your way are no longer there — because you have found a path to take in spite of them.
  10. Don’t be surprised if the true value of the experience is not what you intended. You may be embarking on a challenge or working towards a dream for a particular reason. For example, you may enter a half-marathon to ‘tick it off your bucket list’. Or you may wish to go back to study because it will mean you have a higher earning capacity in your career. While those reasons for undertaking the challenge are great, the true value that you get out of achieving those things is likely to be something you never even thought of.

I have my final measurements tomorrow morning and then this challenge is over.

While I am a little anxious about what they will be (I always put too much pressure on myself and set high expectations), I know that I can already be proud of what I have achieved this time around.

Even if I don’t achieve all that I set out to achieve, I am certainly a lot closer to my goal than I was 12 weeks ago.

I am already thinking about my next set of goals, and know that whatever may come along, I am better equipped to reach them, than I was 12 weeks ago.

The truth about comfort zones

take at least one - chance

I’m sure all Harry Potter fans will remember when Harry stumbles upon the Mirror of Erised.

For the one or two of you who haven’t read “Harry Potter” (or at least seen the films), the Mirror of Erised (Desire spelt backwards), shows the person who is looking into it nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of their hearts.

Of course, for young Harry, who had never known his parents, he sees them standing around him. Ronald Weasley, always overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, better than the rest of them — Head Boy and Quidditch captain, as well as holding both the House Cup and Quidditch Cup — and looking GOOD!

But as Dumbledore reminds Harry: “The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is.” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)

What would you see, if you could look into the Mirror of Erised?

I’m sure very few of you would see yourself EXACTLY as you are.

Maybe you’d like to be taller? Perhaps have straight hair? Any hair!!? Maybe a little less round. Some of you might like to have more money in the bank. Some may see a version of themselves bursting with vitality. Perhaps more education under your belt. Some of you may be in an exotic location. Or perhaps married with a brood of children.

Whatever the case, very few people in the world would see themselves EXACTLY as they are.

Some of you know, I have been making some significant changes in my life over the past 12 months. Notably:

Fitness — Instead of trying on losing ‘weight’, I have been focussing on building muscle, losing fat and changing my body composition. This can be very difficult at times (particularly during some of my training sessions), but this is a choice that I have made.

Work — I have recently started a freelance writing business. Yes, certain things acted as a catalyst for that decision, but once again, it was a choice to go out on my own.

Eating — Earlier this year (after months of investigation) I was diagnosed as wheat and fructose intolerant. That means that if I want to feel well, energetic and healthy, then I need to limit or cut out certain foods in my diet. Once again, certain factors have contributed to this, but it is a choice of mine to feel well.

All of these changes have involved me doing things that I have found uncomfortable. Some have been exciting changes, others pretty scary, and some unpleasant! Some have also been extremely difficult and have been made over a long period of time, with some hard lessons learned. However, by doing things that I was initially uncomfortable with, I have achieved some great things. I am also closer to achieving some of my other goals, and overall, in a happier, healthier place.

The other good news is that the ‘uncomfortable’ has become ‘comfortable’.

Now you may be thinking you couldn’t possibly move out of your comfort zone, to make the changes you want.

What if I told you there was no such thing as a comfort zone? It doesn’t actually exist.

Think back to your mirror. What is it you see? If you can’t see yourself EXACTLY as you are now, then you are already uncomfortable.

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit out of sorts. I happened to walk past Baker’s Delight. Mmmm mmmm. Even to someone who is wheat intolerant, it still looks and smells very appealing. The thought even popped into my head: “How nice would it be to get a fresh, soft bun and take it home to have with my cup of tea?” It was quite a comforting thought.

But then I realised that eating a bun was not really going to make me feel comfortable. Within 20 minutes, I’d feel bloated, sick and I’d have a stomach ache for the rest of the day. Not to mention that the food wasn’t going to help me reach the goals that I had set myself, and I’d have a terrible case of guilt and regret.

It dawned on me that the past way of behaving wasn’t going to make me feel comfortable.

I realised that if I’m working towards certain goals, then there is a level of ‘uncomfortableness’ about my present.

I also realised, that to achieve my goals, I’ll have to continue do things that are uncomfortable.

So, past, present and future — all uncomfortable for one reason or another.

Which means — NO COMFORT ZONE!

Just varying degrees of discomfort.

So the question is not whether you are prepared to move out of your comfort zone; it is: If you are going to feel uncomfortable anyway, then why not do the things that will bring you closer to your dreams?

So that’s what I am trying to do —  embracing all those things that will take me closer to my goals — no matter how uncomfortable they may be.

And knowing there is no real comfort zone anywhere, makes it a little easier to step out into the unfamiliar.

How about you? Are you making the most of being uncomfortable?

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Allison Tait

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