Week 9 Spark Insight: Connection

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Critical Concept:  Get connected, accepted and respected.
We are social animals.  We are drawn to others, groups and gatherings like moths to a street lamp.  We have an innate need to connect, to share and to be accepted.  Coiled deep within our genome lives the predilection to commune with like others.  We want to give, take and share.  We are driven to socialize – as if our lives depended on it – because, in fact, it once did.

All human wants and behaviors can be reduced down to two fundamental lowest common denominators:  Survival and Reproduction.  Every natural drive that we have today reflects a trait that somehow conferred either a reproductive or survival advantage to our ancestors.  Our need to belong to a Tribe is certainly one of these.

The Tribe provided support, protection and relations.  The free exchange of resources was the impetus for the birth of the village and the glue that held it together.  The union of skills, strengths and abilities had a multiplicative quality that defies inductive calculation.  The whole is much more than the sum of the parts.  Each being brought their essence to the group and breathed an immeasurable spirit into the collective.  Individuals shaped groups, and groups shaped individuals.

In times past, the spoken word was the lubricant of socialization.  The ability to recount facts, share vital information and to learn from others was the foundation of the tribal connection.  Story telling was one of the most critical survival elements.  Sharing stories multiplied everyone’s experience.  By simply listening to the tribal elders, hunters or warriors one could benefit from their predecessors’ adventures, successes and failures.  Back in the day, you’d get a lot of mileage out of sound advice like:  “Fish over there”, “Don’t eat those berries” or “Stay away from that bear cave”.

Today the ability to communicate may still convey a reproductive advantage, but historically, it meant life and death.

We’ve moved into the cities and suburbs and out of the villages.  We feel crowded, yet alone.  Technology has allowed us to become “connected” – at the price of being disconnected.  Our needs are subordinate to our schedules and structure.  We are busier and busier each day, and make choices based on scarcity, not priority.  We are left with deficiencies in all lifestyle domains – especially this one.

Deficiencies create stress.  Stress creates adaptation, then fatigue, and then failure.

We must seek opportunities to fulfill our innate needs and deliberately fill them.  In our unnatural, modern and mechanized lives we have become dangerously independent.  Yes, we can now outsource nearly everything and survive – but thrive?  At the expense of sufficiency, we now seek efficiency.  This leads to deficits that must be reconciled.

Healthy people spend time with other Well People.  A Bonfire best practice is to seek out like-minded, supportive people.  Schedule time for friends, date night, mystery rides with the kids, and coffee breaks with your spouse.  Put these times in your weekly schedule and make them part of your culture.  Work, chores and other responsibilities will consume your day and fill every opening in your schedule if you’re not careful.  Just as with your money, there is a fragile Economy of Time that you must master before it masters you.

In the interest of happiness, health and well-being, we must choose to supplement our disconnected lifestyles.  As much as a multi-vitamin fills in the nutritional blanks in our diet-style, or the treadmill supplements a sedentary existence – our social lives must provide the essential elements missing from life outside the village.

So by all means get connected. You’ll be amazed by how much you’ll get when you give, love and share.

Week 9 Air Insight: Vitamin F

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Critical Concept:  Our modern culture is desperately deficient in Vitamin F – fun.
When was the last time you saw someone on a treadmill laughing?  And I don’t mean because the TV looming above their head was featuring some outrageous guest on the Jerry Springer show.  I mean that they were truly having fun?

A big reason that so many people have trouble sticking to their exercise routine or reaching their health and fitness goals is because they are trying to get themselves to stick to an activity that they hate!  This will never work.  You cannot expect to successfully maintain a regimen that you detest doing.  You will always find a way to avoid, make excuses around, or straight out sabotage your fitness effort if you dread your program.  So don’t do it.

Do what moves you.  Choose the activities that you love to do and get to it.

Build your passions into your fitness program.  If you love swimming – make it the anchor of your fitness program.  If you hate running – don’t build your routine around running.  Fill your activity calendar with the things that you love doing.  If you love to be outside, don’t plan on spending every day on a stair climber in your basement.  You should focus on outdoor activities.  If you are very social, join a club or a team.  Don’t go it alone.

Ultimately your health goals should include you achieving well-rounded, balanced fitness.  This opens the door to a great variety of choices for activities.  Don’t be narrow minded when designing your conditioning program.  Open yourself to the possibility of trying a new sport or getting back to one that you loved, but lost years ago.

A Bonfire best practice is to join a club or team that engages you in an activity that you love to do.  Committing to a team leverages a powerful source of social influence.  If you have a group of people who are expecting you to show up and have fun with them, you are far more likely to make time for it.

A vital behavior is to schedule it.  Your life is probably over-obligated, over-whelming and over-booked.  Don’t expect that you’ll simply “find time” to have fun.  You must schedule some “spontaneous time.”  As paradoxical as that may sound, in today’s culture if you don’t write it into your day-timer, life will fill in the blanks.  Schedule your playtime.

Ask yourself the most revealing question:  What do I really love doing?

Our lives are so stressful and our schedules are over-booked.  We should try to capitalize on every opportunity to have fun.  If we get creative with our workouts, we can get two birds with one stone – get the movement that our bodies require and expect, while feeding our minds, hearts and spirits with the joy that comes from doing what we love.

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!

Week 9 Fuel Insight: Emotional Eating

by admin

ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Emotional Eating

Critical Concept:  You will never find the right answers when you are asking the wrong questions.
Why are you eating?  There are as many answers to this question as there are people struggling with their diet.  As we get closer to the truth, the reality behind our eating habits can be telling.  Not all eating disorders manifest as overt weight issues, whether a person is overweight or underweight; sometimes outward appearances defy the truth of our relationships with food.

A common conception is that the choices that we make around food are driven by physical needs, wants and cravings.  Psychologists disagree.  Experts say that most food choices are motivated by emotional drives.  Our association to food goes far beyond our want to satisfy a physical need.

Emotional eating is a broad term that implies that someone is eating for reasons other than hunger.

We have discussed the concept of essential elements in the three major lifestyle domains of eating, moving and thinking.  These elements are like essential nutrients required by our cells for function and health.  These nutrients must be provided by our lifestyle choices.  In other words, our body cannot fabricate these elements on its own, and therefore, we must supply these essentials on a regular basis by the way that we eat, move and think.

Some Essential Elements are acute in need, such as oxygen (it becomes immediately apparent if you do not get enough oxygen), whereas some elements are latent in need, like “connection” (one could go years without a sense of community before the symptoms of disconnection are apparent).

When the body experiences a deficiency in an Essential Element, there is an adaptive response.  If you move to Denver, for example, there is less oxygen in the air, so your body adapts by forming more red blood cells (the oxygen-carrying component of your blood).  This type of adaptation is innate and can be seen in all three lifestyle domains where a deficiency exists.  Any “lack” in the environment produces a response by the body as a means of survival.

Psychological and emotional needs are latent essential elements.  If you perceive that something is missing in your social life, love life or spiritual life, innately you will try to meet that need.  Often, this sense of lack or deficiency will create a void that you try to fill with food.  When you feel out of control in one aspect of your life, you will seek control in other domains.  Finding solace in the fridge has become a widespread issue.

Research studies suggest 75% of overeating is the result of emotional eating.  Food has become the “drug of choice” to treat feelings of stress, anxiety or loneliness.

There are real biological factors at play here. The hormones and neurotransmitters that are released in response to the foods that we consume are more powerful than any drug that we could take. When we eat certain foods, highly addictive “feel good” chemicals like serotonin and endorphins course through our blood and influence our thoughts and moods. High sugar and fat combinations can create feelings of relaxation and even euphoria while refined carbohydrates can cause sedation and calmness. Unfortunately, these “feelings” are short-lived and typically create a crash that sends us searching for more.

Societal pressures drive more and more people to eat emotionally. The unrealistic standards set by the modern media are largely unattainable for most and often leave people feeling inadequate. These feelings can drive a cycle of “food deprivation” which is unsustainable and inevitably leads to binging on some level. This “binge” can be as innocent as “cheating on your diet” or as serious as a life-threatening chronic illness. The feelings of failure associated with the binge can drive the emotional anchors to food even deeper.

“Food becomes therapy” Says psychiatrist Dr. Debra Emmite. “We are medicating our feelings. Often people will ‘eat at someone’ with whom they are upset, hurt or angry. If you overeat often, chances are that food has become your body’s programmed response to factors such as stress, loneliness, boredom, or sadness.”

A recent research study demonstrated that 85 percent of emotion-based eating was reduced in participants when they learned how to respond to negative emotions with a different attitude and real-life solutions.

You must become mindful of when and why you are “emotional eating” and replace this behavior with another positive behavior.

Be careful of two significant pitfalls in this approach. Do not think that this is simply a battle of wills and you must ignore your emotions and defy your deep rooted habits. That approach is unsustainable. You must follow these five steps of a successful change effort to see lasting positive change:

1. Identify WHY you are eating. What is the Perceived Deficiency that drives this behavior?

2. Understand the futility of this behavior and own the consequences of continuing this way

3. Recognize the physical / chemical factors at play: hormones and neurotransmitters

4. Choose to replace the current Belief System that leads to this behavior with one that drives healthier choices

5. Choose to replace this behavior with a positive, constructive one that provides sufficiency in your essential needs and ultimately healthier outcomes

A Bonfire vital behavioris focusing on adding good habits, not breaking bad ones. Choose to add behaviors that fulfill your actual needs in every lifestyle category. Add exercise, nutrient dense foods, meditation, prayer, journaling, time with friends, nature and inspiring projects. Creating an environment of abundance through healthier choices, relationships and experiences is a Bonfire best practice. Create a food log that provides a place for you to record your feelings around food and fosters mindful eating and healthier choices.

Every day you can choose to seek out sources of emotional, physical and spiritual nutrients that will fill your heart, mind and cells. This is the first and most powerful way to create lasting change in your life and health.