Week 11 Spark Insight: Balance

by admin

ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Balance

Critical Concept:  The daily choices you make.
The key to finding balance in your life is tied to the choices that you make in the daily management of your limited resources. If you ask ten people to describe what would constitute a State of Wellness in regards to the Spark domain of their life, you’d probably get ten different answers. There is a high likelihood that a common theme in the responses would be experiencing a sense of balance.

There are a multitude of economies operating simultaneously in our lives.  We spend, save and invest our resources constantly as we navigate through our daily lives.

You have both Limited Resources and Unlimited Resources.  Your Limited Resources include your time, focus, energy and money.  There is a finite supply of each of these vital assets at any given moment.  The key to finding balance in your life is tied to the choices that you make in their daily management and investment.

We are all programmed with a set of Innate Values.  These values promote characteristics that conveyed some level of reproductive or survival advantage over the millennia.  They are hardwired into your genome.  Adherence to the behaviors that are congruent with these values produces emotions and feelings of happiness and fulfillment.  Behaviors that are at odds with these Innate Values produce stressful emotions like anxiety, apprehension and tension.  This internal GPS (Genetic Positioning System) is in place to act as an emotional compass to guide us through life’s decisions.

When you invest your Limited Resources of time, energy, focus and money in alignment with your Innate Values, you experience a sense of balance and peace of mind.  Conversely, if you spend or squander these resources in a way that defies your deepest values, you will inevitably experience uneasiness, worry and imbalance.  This disparity is often at the root of most emotional and psychological stress, which will undermine your health in countless ways.

This chronic state of stress in our lives creates hormonal changes in our bodies that affect every facet of our health.  The stress hormone cortisol will actually cause our body to store fat in our midsection (the dreaded belly fat).  This omentum fat can surround our organs and put compressive pressure on the kidneys, causing elevated high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a key agent in the plaqueing of the arteries leading to heart disease and heart attacks.

The world often places demands on our resources with seemingly no regard for our values.  This pull between worldly demands and our inner voice can create a tension that is overwhelming if we don’t recognize it.  Being mindful of this dynamic is the first step towards Mindset Mastery.

We must take control of the economy of our limited resources if we wish to experience a sense of balance in our lives.

A Bonfire best practice involves the identification of your Roles and Goals in each of your Life Time Value Accounts.  Being clear and specific for each of your lifestyle categories is critical.  Consider and identify exactly what is most important to you in each Life Time Value Account.  Now audit your spending.

How do you spend your time, energy, focus and money?
A Bonfire vital behavior is to align your schedule with your Innate Values.  Time is the ultimate equalizer.  Regardless of age, gender or income, we all have exactly the same amount of time to invest every day.  Create a schedule that accounts for the time that is regularly reserved for serving your roles and goals.  Do not over-commit or over-schedule yourself.  Do not over-spend and force yourself into a situation that requires you to work to earn a living at the expense of making a life.

In order to achieve the illusive state of balance in our lives, we must reconcile the discrepancy between what we value and how we spend our resources.

Keep an account of each of these four resources and check in habitually.  Imagine that you had a check registry for each of these categories and make it a habit to “balance your virtual checkbook” for each of them regularly.  Become deliberate in the allocation of each of these assets.  Do not leave it to chance or resort to living in response to the world’s beckon call.

Proactive management of these precious gifts is the surest way to enjoying a balanced life in an unbalanced world.

At this point in the program you should be….

  • Establishing your Peace of Mind Account (PMA) using Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
  • Getting to bed earlier: working toward sleep before 11 p.m.
  • Getting up earlier: working toward 30 minute morning rituals
  • Remaining focused on creating the life that you want
  • Choosing to develop more influence in your life
  • Recognizing challenges as opportunities to grow
  • Seeking Alignment between behaviors and Innate Values
  • Choosing an attitude of Thankfulness and Gratitude
  • Seeking opportunities to get connected with supportive people
  • Choosing to extend Unconditional Love and Acceptance to others
  • Finding Balance by managing your Limited Resources (Time, Energy,Focus,Money)

Week 11 Air Insight: Flexibility

by admin

ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Flexibility

Critical Concept:  Our strength is in our flexibility
There are obvious parallels between physical and psychological flexibility.  These aspects of our lives are governed by the same laws.  Mastery over one will allow you to easily master the other.  Increasing your flexibility in either domain requires equal parts will, skill and trust.  As you reach the outer limits of either mental ease or tissue integrity, you experience a peculiar sensation of insecurity.  This position is uncomfortable.  But isn’t that the idea?

Flexibility is under-rated.  People spend too much time in the Comfort Zone.  The human animal thrives on stress, adaptation and repair cycles.  Our day is comprised of a complex system of challenges, communications and interactions.  For the most part, we get to choose the degree to which we engage life. Each day presents with a myriad of opportunities to get stretched.  Look for them.

If you pay attention, you can feel individual fibers exploring new ranges of motion.  This is true for the body and the mind.  When you choose to move from the Comfort Zone to the Stretch Zone mentally or physically, you form new synapses that help you cope more effectively in the future.  There isa plastic effect that will expand your capacities as long as you continue to draw on them.  What you feel is the expansion of your scope.

If the heat in the kitchen goes up, you’ll find yourself at the next level:  the Stress Zone.  It’s where big dogs play, things hit the fan and rubber meets the road.  There are two truths regarding this zone:

1.  It’s a nice place to visit, but you don’t want to live there.

2.  It’s where growth happens.

Beyond this point, at the center of these concentric rings, is the no-go zone:  the Break-Down Zone.  Our brains and spirits are a lot like our joints - under constant duress and strain, they break down, whereas if they are underutilized, they decay and become arthritic.  Everyone spends some time in the breakdown lane at some point in their life, but those who invest the time to learn how to change a tire get “back on their way” much faster.

If our strength is in our flexibility, how do you know when to say “when?”

I’ll offer this heuristic (rule of thumb):  when increased flexibility will strengthen the situation, stretch.  The fabric of our lives will behave much like the tissues of our bodies.  When we choose to warm up properly, practice and stretch out before the stress of the game or workout, our capacities expand, injuries are reduced, and our strength and performance improves.

Follow this order: warm-up, then workout, then stretch.

Often people will try to stretch before they warm up.  This is a bad idea.  Never try to stretch a cold tissue.  Always start your activities or workouts with a gentle, yet progressive warm up.  Increase blood flow to tissues first, this will increase their pliability and reduce the chance of injury.  It is acceptable to lightly stretch through your activity, but again - make sure that this is done progressively.  Stretching at the end of your routine is a vital behavior.  Never rush the end of the workout or skip this element.  A key to achieving your fitness goals is consistent training over time.  In other words, you must avoid injury.  Stretching regularly will not only increase your performance, range of motion and comfort, it will mitigate injury as well.

In order to have an extraordinary life, you have to make extraordinary choices.  Listen to your life, seek out the “rubs” - the insecurities and the limitations.  Lean into them, relax and exhale.  Change your interpretation of that burn and trust.  Just know that on the other side of it you’ll be stronger, even if you might be a little sore, a little uncomfortable.  But isn’t that the idea?

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
  • Increase your flexibility

Week 11 Fuel Insight: Avoid Toxic Choices

by admin

ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Avoid Toxic Choices

Critical Concept:  Toxicity and Deficiency
Life is an extreme sport.  Between the long hours, stressful jobs, barbecues, teenagers, traffic jams, ozone depletion, and 700 calorie sugar-laced Frappuchinos – it’s a wonder anybody lives to see fifty.  The fact that some people are still upright and walking under their own power is akin to Keith Richard’s ability to still be on tour with the Rolling Stones.  The toxic insult that we withstand over a lifetime from the external environment in the industrialized world is an absolute testament to the tenacity of the human body.  Compounding that burden is the lifestyle choices that people make today.

Toxic behaviors will compound and create stress and sickness as readily as healthy habits combine to create health and wellness.

As discussed in previous Insights, some foods are inherently toxic to the body.  Truth be told, most people can readily identify which foods they should choose to avoid.  These toxic food choices are especially harmful because they are consumed instead of the nutritious foods that our cells require.  This “double whammy” sets the stage for accelerated aging and promotes both acute and chronic disease.

The modern marketplace is filled with selections that exploit your weaknesses.  Advertisers know that you are instinctively driven to sugar-filled, fat-laden, salty foods.  They aggressively taunt you with images, flavors and economics to get you to pull into their drive-thru lanes or toss their products into your buggy at the grocery store.  Every time that you watch TV or walk into a store, there is an overt assault on your senses and sensibilities.

Push back.

Modern foods have been laced with substances that super-stimulate your taste buds.  These chemicals will actually change your future taste threshhold for flavors by altering your neurology.  This class of additives is known as exicitotoxins.  They are heavily addictive and act as accelerants in the trend towards over-eating.

We bio-accumulate toxins over time.

The choices that we make regarding our food intake every day are as important as the ideas and beliefs with which we choose to fill our hearts and minds.  Our bodies will collect many of the impurities that are found in industrialized foods and store them in our cells over time.  This bio-accumulation of toxins has been found to result in neurological disorders like autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimers Disease, not to mention liver damage, arterial plaquing and cancer.  At a minimum, toxins are an added stress on the body and promote inflammation; at their worst, toxins cause cellular dysfunction, leading to disease.

Healthy people choose to maintain as pure of a diet as possible.  A Bonfire vital behavior is to make a commitment to consuming organic foods whenever feasible.  Establishing a reliable source for locally grown, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds makes life easier than trying to find it “on the run.”  Seek out a local source for organic, range-fed poultry, grass-fed beef and buffalo, as well as a way to get wild caught fish and/or game.

It’s critical to identify common de-railers to your efforts at a pure diet-styleRule #1:  Never leave your house hungry.  Rule #2:  Never shop hungry.  Rule #3:  Always bring your own healthy foods or snacks with you (or at least know where you’re going to get some).  A Bonfire best practice is to pack your own lunch.  It’s key to always make enough food so that you’ll have leftovers for at least one or two additional meals.  Having healthy foods readily available makes it easier to make healthy choices, while snuffing out the stress of food prep at every meal.

Fill your home with the foods that you wish to eat.  If you were building a house you would only buy the supplies with which you wished to create your home.  The same is true of your body.  The war against toxic, deficient choices is won or lost at the register.  If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.  We have significant influence on our toxic burden by the way that we choose to eat, move and think.  You either build health, or build sickness with every choice, every day.

Summary Checklist: At this point you should be….

  • Drinking adequate water
  • Eating plants first
  • Consuming lean cuts of high quality protein
  • Consuming high-fiber, whole food carbohydrates
  • Increasing your healthy fat intake
  • Taking your Bonfire Essential Supplements
  • Taking 3 Deep Breaths before you eat to reset your state
  • Maintaining a net zero or net negative calorie / energy balance
  • Mindful of “why” you’re eating, not just “what” you’re eating
  • Choosing to consume an abundance of Nutrient Dense Foods
  • Choosing to avoid Toxic and Deficient Foods (see Dr. K’s “Ten Never Eat Foods”)