Week 10 Spark Insight: Love

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ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Unconditional Love

Critical Concept:  Defining love.
Do you feel loved?  Don’t be too quick to answer.  There is as much confusion, frustration and desperation around this concept as there is assurance, fulfillment and inspiration.  For most, this “crazy little thing called love” has kept us up all night – for one reason or another – at one point in our lives.  As much as it fuels the fires of passion, ties the knots of friendship, and binds a parent to their child, love itself remains largely misunderstood.

Love is a choice, not a feeling.

Love is not a sentiment.  Love should not be reduced to simply the way someone makes us feel.  Of course, love comes with tremendous emotion and real feelings.  But it is so much more.  Love is a decision.  It is something that we choose to give and receive, not something that we wait to experience.

Unconditional Love is the purest expression of genuine acceptance.  This choice is made independent of another’s behavior – and sometimes even in spite of their behavior.  It is choosing to extend love to someone, even when they seem unlovable.

It’s important to differentiate that Unconditional Love does not imply unconditional approval.  We should reserve the right to disapprove of another’s behavior, yet, without judgment, accept them and love them unconditionally.  This may prove to be the most challenging essential elementof the Bonfire Experience.  At the same time, mastery of unconditional love will trump all other elements when it comes to stress reduction and achieving peace of mind and heart.

Forgiveness – A Critical Emotional Action Step
Achieving unconditional acceptance in some relationships may have to start with forgiveness…sometimes forgiving someone that does not deserve to be forgiven.  This may not sound reasonable at first; in fact, forgiveness often requires a new economy – grace.

For thousands of generations, humans have sought one common emotional theme:  to be loved.  We thrive in loving environments and relationships, and we contract and atrophy in loveless circumstances.  The greatest way to foster love is to offer it freely.  Choose to extend love to those around you without attachment to their response.  Do not give to get.  Give to give.

We are social beings who crave and depend on emotional “strokes” to develop into whole and complete people.  These strokes come in many shapes, but can be easily identified when they come in the form of gestures, attention, physical contact, kind words or actions.  These are all as much part of our “required nutrients” for optimal health as Vitamin C, amino acids and oxygen.

At the center of these needs, you’ll find unconditional love.  We have an innate need to give and receive unconditional love.  A best practice is to model this love to those around you.  Show others how you wish to be treated by the way that you treat them.  You learned the “Golden Rule” in Kindergarten, and it is as much a truth today as it was then.  You can nudge yourself into extending this unconditional love in tougher situations by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.  How would you wish to be treated?

At the end of the day, the only way to really change the world is to start with yourself.  At the very least, you’ll have far less stress in your life – and who knows, maybe you’ll actually start a trend.

At this point in the program you should be….

  • Establish your Peace of Mind Account (PMA) using Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
  • Get to bed earlier – working toward sleep before 11 p.m.
  • Get up earlier – working toward 30 minute morning rituals
  • Remain focused on creating the life that you want
  • Choose to develop more influence in your life
  • Recognize challenges as opportunities to grow
  • Seek opportunities to get connected with supportive people
  • Choose to extend Unconditional Love and Acceptance to others

Week 10 Air Insight: Goal Setting

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Critical Concept:  Hedging your success.
Your models and standards are powerful predictors of your success and happiness. The little voice inside your head can often tell you to stay on the couch.  We are hard-wired to be lazy.  When food was at a premium, your goal for the day was to find enough food to last until tomorrow.  For the fortunate majority of us, this is no longer the case.

We are programmed to seek pleasure, move away from pain, and do it all with the greatest economy of energy.  In regards to our internal GPS (Bonfire Genetic Positioning System), the suggestion of running a marathon is preposterous.  Unless there is food under that dumbbell, you are not programmed to pick it up.  If there was a crocodile in the pool with you, it would make sense to swim as fast as you can.  Otherwise, expending all of that energy voluntarily is purely ridiculous.  Unless you think about it.

The human mind thrives on challenges.

We are comparative animals.  We love to compare ourselves to others.  In fact, we know ourselves through others.  We form our identities, self-image and self-worth by watching and comparing ourselves to others.  And we want to be good.  In fact, we want to be better.

Psychologists report that our identities are a reflection of how we perceive ourselves relative to others.  We have models that set standards for us in every aspect of our lives.  Since childhood, we’ve watched our mothers, fathers, siblings and friends, and studied their behavior.  We have been shaped by the standards created by our environment.  And we continue to be shaped.

Choose your environment wisely, as it will powerfully influence your experience.

Our environment is made up of people, places and things.  We should be careful to choose environments that create the type of influence that we wish to experience.  It is important to seek out those people and places that inspire you to move towards becoming the person that you want to be.

We have always watched the herd.  We take social cues from those around us and we wish to be like them – and be liked by them.  “We want to be connected, accepted and respected,” says author Tom Decotiis (Make it Glow).

In fact, influence masters insist that it is easier and more effective to change the environment than change people.  Change the environment and you change standards - and, ultimately, performance.

To create the life that you want, create the environment that sets the standards that lead to that outcome.

Who do you spend time with?  Where do you spend your time?  What do you spend your time doing?  Are these all in alignment with what you are trying to create?

Are you are trying to become the healthiest, fittest person that you can be?  Does your environment set the right standards for that?  Do you have a support system that makes it easier for you to be successful?  Are you following a proven system of training that sets clear performance standards for you?  Do you know what you’re doing today or where you are going with your fitness tomorrow?  Are you measuring your progress?

You don’t get what you want, you get what you measure.

Research has revealed strategies that create greater chances of success in every endeavor – especially fitness.  Measuring and recording your performance is a critical step in establishing tangible progress.  Comparing your outcomes against a clear standard is vital behavior in progressive training.  A Bonfire best practice is to clearly define your goals and objectives, set written goal dates, and use a compelling reward and penalty system.  Publicly profess your intentions.  Our personal identity is closely tied to our want to behave consistently in the public eye.  Identify a person of influence in your life and tell them about your goals and standards.  If you truly value their opinion of you, this can be a powerful contributor to your success.  Put these clear standards in place and stack the deck in your favor.

In order to stifle that inner couch potato and achieve your ideal fitness and health goals, you must recruit the robust sources of influence that goal setting and clear standards provide.  As they say, if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?

Summary Checklist

  • Add activity every day in every way
  • Calculate Energy Balance
  • Add Functional Training
  • Use variety in your workouts
  • Focus on the Intensity of your workouts
  • Gradually progress to a higher intensity
  • Adopt the Buddy System
  • Get your Spine checked by a chiropractor
  • Do what moves you – have fun
  • Employ Goal Setting and Clear Standards

Week 10 Fuel Insight: Food Quality

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Critical Concept:  Keep it simple.
It’s so important to keep things simple.  Think about it.  Life is stressful, complex and complicated.  Our food shouldn’t be.  There are natural laws that we must follow to be healthy, happy human beings.  We should be eating the foods that were available to thousands of generations of our ancestors – it’s what our cells expect.  If we veer from these selections, our cells get confused and our bodies get sick.

Don’t you just love simple rules:  “If it wasn’t food 2000 years ago, it is not food today.”

Human beings have a fascination with science.  We think that we can improve anything.  As much as this ingenuity has spawned incredible discoveries, advancements and conveniences in our lives, it has created a world of trouble for our stomachs.

70% of our diets now consist of foods that did not exist 200 years ago.  Hydrogenated vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Genetically Modified Foods, chemical preservatives and additives now constitute the bulk of what modern humans consume daily. Processed food and  industrialized farming has transformed our food into “food-stuff.”  We have made a dramatic shift away from natural foods in their natural forms to a totally unnatural, toxic and deficient diet-style.  Eating this way is incredibly expensive.

“Getting well and staying well is expensive, but it’s cheaper than being sick.”

People often make the argument that eating healthier, fresh, whole food is more expensive.  At first pass, you may notice that your weekly grocery bill is a few dollars higher, but with simple considerations, the cost-effectiveness of eating well is obvious.  Making the choice to eat healthier foods implies that you are forgoing the other, toxic/deficient foods.  Eating a healthier diet has been irrevocably proven to improve immune system function, reduce blood pressure, normalize blood sugar, improve digestion, reduce reflux, heart burn and constipation, and reduce allergies, asthma, eczema, acne and arthritis.  Think of all of the money that you’ll save if you don’t get sick.

“Staying well takes some work, but it’s easier than being sick.”

Some people suggest that it’s too difficult to eat healthy.  Choosing the diet-style recommended by Bonfire Health has been shown to reduce cholesterol, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity and cancer.  I can’t think of anything that is more inconvenient than chronic illness.  Following the Bonfire lifestyle means adopting a mind-set and a skill-set for better living.  With a little know-how and practice, you’ll be a master of the life that leads to health and vitality, not the slave to the lifestyle that has been proven to create sickness and disease.

Some foods are inherently toxic to the body.  For the most part, we know which foods to avoid.  Most of the confusion is found in the other half of this food discussion:  deficiency.  The other side of the blade of toxic food choices is the fact that these foods are consumed instead of the nutritious foods that our cells require.  This “double-whammy” sets the stage for accelerated aging, and promotes both acute illness and chronic disease.

A Bonfire vital behavior is to add as much nutritious, real food to your diet as possible.  It is almost impossible to over-eat fresh vegetables.  Eat plenty of wholesome fruit, nuts, seeds and berries.  Enjoy lean cuts of organic, grass-fed meats, poultry, game and wild fish.  Always add the good stuff first– there will be less room, and eventually less desire for the rest.  A Bonfire best practice is to keep your grocery cart on the perimeter of the store.  This is where all of the fresh foods are found.  Join a Community Supported Agriculture co-op and support local farmers.  Being a Locavore is a great way to save yourself and the planet at the same time.  Buy locally-raised, grass-fed beef, buffalo, game and poultry.  Choose local organic eggs, fruits and vegetables.

The vital nutrient density is higher in these local foods, so the return on your investment is direct – not to mention the benefit that you get from re-establishing your connection to the food that you enjoy.