Easter 2021, wow a great time to focus on new beginnings. For myself and many of my clients, last year presented the opportunity to focus on health and wellness. The other thing that had a big focus was distractions. Staying busy to stay distracted. If you found yourself in one or both of these camps, a big driver was just how overwhelming the world had become. That kind of pressure can push you in ways that could harm your health. And any decision you make can be challenging to identify if the decision is in your best interest. So, here are some thoughts on why you may be pushing yourself too hard today, a great cheat sheet to identify when you push yourself too hard, and how to fix it to ensure you are building your health and wellness.
The big thing that happened last year was the pandemic. The pandemic may have allowed you to take the time to get back in shape. What else were you going to do? Streaming television hadn’t released a new movie in over a year. You blew threw everything on Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, HBO, etc., etc. somewhere in the first four months of the shutdown. Restaurants, theatres, and other halls of the festive gatherings were closed. Pretty much it was you and your home.
So, off to the fitness races, many people went, including me. I have an episode “Consciously Helping Your Heart Stay Healthy (Ep. 2 of Heart Health)“, which talks about some of the fitness challenges you face over 50.
It’s weird. Everything is fine, then you hit 50, and the world does a 180. It’s that vitality thing – the glass is half full or half empty. What is interesting about that analogy isn’t whether it’s half full or half empty. The interesting point is you are at the halfway point, and every step will either take you above half-full or below half-empty.
So, let’s make your steps take over the half-full mark.
You know life is so interesting. When you were younger, it was about figuring out what your body could do. Pushing yourself to your outer limits, challenging your previous goals, go-go-go. You may pick up that same frame of reference when you start getting fit.
In Chinese Medicine, that is the exact right attitude in the Spring of your life. Spring, our teenage years and early twenties, is about reaching out, pushing for greater heights.
Summer, on the other hand, is about enjoying your vitality and finishing your best growth.
The Fall of your life is different. Here, the focus becomes more inward. This is the time for you to get to know yourself. Fall is filled with more patience, more soul searching, more acceptance.
The flavor becomes different. You are no longer demanding your body push for peak performance as you did in Spring. Nor are you relaxing into all your strengths as you did in Summer. In the Fall, you are taking all your learnings and integrating everything. You and your body are learning to work together in a way you never had to in the past.
In Classical Chinese Medicine, you come into this life with a curriculum. A curriculum is something you want to learn, improve on, release…something you want to do with this life. To complete the curriculum, the seasons are guideposts to what you need to learn at different stages. Most of Chinese Medicine is a guidepost on how you can best live your life.
And here is where I start to wonder about life and people and me. The energetics of Fall is so different from previous seasons. This is a season of integrating your mind and body. What happens if you fail to change your focus? Do you die? Not always. But failing to change course for the Fall season usually does harm your health.
O.k., so what’s the point. In Chinese Medicine, approaching the Fall of your life in the same manner as you did the Spring of your life means you will miss a meaningful part of being alive. You will miss one of your life lessons.
When you approach Fall, like say, Spring, you are basically failing to adjust to your new reality which could mean you accidentally do more than your body can handle. And here’s the thing, you’re busy. You’ve been crushing it, working out, managing your eating, changing your life. All that energy one short year ago was distributed over so many noisy activities: parties, restaurants, work, movies, theatre, travel. Now, that energy is focused on you. With nothing else to do, the level of intensity you can focus on yourself is surprising.
Couple that self-focus with the pressure of the world today, and you can push yourself past your limits without notice. That is why I like my episode on “Consciously Helping Your Heart Stay Healthy (Ep. 2 of Heart Health).” It talks about one of the most significant ways you may harm yourself by pushing too far. This type of effort can overtax the heart leading to some type of cardiovascular event. The episode goes into depth on what to think about when you’re working out.
Cardiovascular events are more common over 50 and much more common when you push yourself too hard. It doesn’t just have to be working out. It can be working too hard or anything else that moves you too hard.
So, here you are in Fall, and I want you to complete this season successfully. So, I’m going to give you a cheat sheet. It’s my cheatsheet too. I am just as prone to slipping up in the Fall season as some of my clients. So, here it is:
- First, start to acknowledge your strengths. Strengths change as you age because you learn more about life. A couple strengths can be:
- You actually have a lot of patience. So much more than you did even a decade ago.
- You have more flexibility today and can find resources to help you.
- Begin to use your strengths on yourself.
- Allow yourself to be patient with yourself. The minute you feel yourself “pushing for more” (this comes in so many flavors), let go. So, if you’re saying each workout has to be THIS MUCH BETTER, you’re pushing yourself. You want to get better but think about non-linear goals. In my episode, “Lose the Impossible Weight in 5 Minutes a Day – Breaking up Phlegm,”, I start talking about goals that are not linear.
- You are finally at a point where you can focus on yourself in a way you never could earlier in life. You have the flexibility and the knowledge to find resources that can help you attain your goals. Take some time to figure out what you want to work on over the next six months to a year and find a professional who can safely help you attain your goals.
- Use technology
- In my “Gadgets to Help You Stay Healthy” playlist, you’ll find gadgets I use that can help you reach your targets, whether it’s weight loss, eating better, learning to relax, getting in better shape.
- Realize you are important and act on it.
- I thought I was doing this, but I wasn’t. This is where you do things for yourself. And you know what? I’ve always found that I value something more if it was a bit of a stretch for me to get it. So here are two significant changes I made in my life around this item. First, I started investing in technology gadgets that could help me obtain or maintain my health because they could reduce time spent and improve health. Second, I started investing in other professionals who could help me get to my goals. You don’t have to be a one-person show, and when you start valuing yourself enough to invest in yourself, you’ll find your path there is much smoother and quicker.
O.k., so there it is, a simple four-step cheat sheet to help you identify when you are pushing yourself too hard and how to fix it by changing your mindset so you are in stride with the Fall season. Hopefully, this will help you stay healthier, happier, and active!