Finding Your Chi in 2015
Recently I had the opportunity to learn about and practice tai chi. It was a very interesting experience. The Tai Chi Master talked a lot about “chi”, or life energy, and how tai chi helps clear blockages of that energy. He explained it this way: when you feel tired, mentally spent, emotionally drained, ill, bored, or apathetic – these are all symptoms of a lack of chi. It got me thinking about my own life and about times I’ve felt overwhelmed, helpless or passionless. Just what is chi, and how do you cultivate it so you can live your most vibrant life?
As a Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach and Diabetes Prevention Counselor, I deal with a lot of people of different ages and circumstances that want (and need) to lose weight and change their lives. One of the most frustrating parts of my job is to consistently hear “I can’t” from my clientele. Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand there are situations where a physical disability, illness, or scheduling conflict prevents us from getting things done a certain way. But my role is to encourage my clients to be the hero of their lives instead of the victim. They’ll say “I just don’t have the willpower” and it’s hard to combat this, as I have experienced it myself. But wouldn’t my Tai Chi Master say that lack of willpower is just a lack of chi? A lack of energy and passion? If so, how do we fix it?
One issue that comes up a lot in my client consultations is boundaries. Often we’re feeling drained because of our jobs…maybe we’re overworked or we just don’t enjoy what we’re doing for a living. Our boundaries are crossed because of the amount of hours we’re being asked to work, the things we’re asked to do, or the people we’re working with. In our personal lives, lines get blurred because other people in our lives demand all our focus, and we consent. Maybe it’s our children, our families, a needy friend, our church…we feel we can’t say no to the all the commitments we’ve made. As a result we’re exhausted, not taking care of ourselves, and we develop coping mechanisms and lifestyle habits to deal with all that negative energy. We overeat out of anxiety. We subsist on fast food because we don’t have time to cook. We consume huge amounts of caffeine to keep us going. We rely on alcohol on a regular basis to take the edge off. We don’t exercise because we’re too tired. And when we’re challenged to disrupt these patterns, our reaction is often exasperation. We want to. We just can’t. We don’t have the energy, the willpower, or the chi to make it happen. We feel helpless.
But, now hear this: you are the author of your own life. You are the Supreme Designer. You can stop letting your life happen to you and climb into the driver’s seat. Passion comes from being able create, to have a voice in your own life, to do what fuels you. Maybe that means instead of complaining about your job, you set some firm boundaries about working hours, or you go back to school, or start a little side business…do something that excites and challenges you and really utilizes the strengths and talents that make you YOU. Instead of having your kids in activities every night of the week, set limits on how many sports or clubs they can be a part of. If you have aging parents that need help, ask other adult family members to assist you with those responsibilities. Be specific with needy friends about how and when you can offer help and encouragement. Set realistic limits on how much you’re able to volunteer – be it church, your child’s school, etc. Setting boundaries means taking responsibility for your life and feelings (realizing you don’t have to do it all and being okay with that) and expecting others to take responsibility for theirs. Doing so frees up your energy so you can start taking care of yourself, and kick negative habits to the curb. It makes for a happier and more fulfilled you, which dramatically increases your ability to positively affect others.
This year, resolve to set boundaries in your life. Figure out where you can say yes and where it’s necessary to say no. Forget the guilt, and use that extra time and energy to eat clean, nutritious food, get in some heart-pumping exercise, invest time in meditative walks, yoga or tai chi, and set goals for your life that mean something to you. Experience the exhilaration of a life filled with strength, health, creativity, and abundant chi. Happy New Year!
From January 5 – 11, Columbus Underground is featuring our Health & Wellness Week series, brought to you by the The Fitness Loft. The Fitness Loft is more than just a gym – it’s a visionary approach to developing a sustainable community and creating an atmosphere that encourages people to lead a healthier life. Our holistic concept includes biometric wellness screening, Technogym exercise equipment that records progress, free group fitness and nutrition classes, an on-site Registered Dietitian, and much more to give you a truly unique wellness experience. Located at 625 Parsons Avenue, Columbus, OH 43206.