Usually being M.I.A. (missing in action) is a bad thing, but this acronym has come to mean something different to me. I hope that by the end of this blog, you’ll adopt a similar mindset for yourself this week and use it to shape your healthy lifestyle goals going forward. So what do I mean by ''going M.I.A.''?
I read an excellent article called ''Mindful Mountaineer'' in Experience Life magazine recently. In it, author Jocelyn Stone talks about a man named Matt Walker, who conquered mountains on every continent, earned a master’s degree, and launched his own company before reaching the age of 40, and then wrote a book about his experiences. When I hear about people like this, I always wonder, ''What it is that they have that gets them this kind of success? I want some!"
In the article, Matt mentions one of the biggest keys to his successes-- ''to be MINDFUL and INTENTIONAL in all your ACTIONS." Could it really all boil down to that? Three simple words that can change the outcome of your success, consolidated into one short acronym? It struck a chord with me because when I am mindful and intentional with my food choices and workouts (my actions), things fall into place and I feel better. When I’m not intentional, I end up missing workouts for something else I consider more urgent at the time, or eating something less than healthy because I didn’t have a better option on hand.
Matt goes on in the interview to talk about the five key principles that he calls the ''elements of adventure'': (1) Seek the highest endeavors, (2) Embrace uncertainty, (3) Fully commit, (4) Tolerate adverse situations, and (5) Seek great companionship. I trip up on at least three of these on a routine basis. ''Embrace uncertainty''….honestly, how many of us do that? It takes a unique personality and an ability to stand strong on ground that is uncertain. Then go on to ''tolerate adverse situations'', and notice it didn’t mention anything about eating our way through that adverse situation. Finally, if I asked if you were ''fully committed'' to reaching your healthy lifestyle goal, would you be able to say yes? I know I have trouble with this one sometimes. I find the other two easy--I seek a healthy lifestyle and that is a high endeavor in itself, and I have fantastic companionship with many SparkFriends. It’s the consistently mindful, intentional actions that I have trouble with. Some days I reach all my goals in that regard, and some days I am unprepared. I’m working on eliminating more of those unprepared days.
As Matt says in the article, you should live ''a life where you’re fully present and fully invested in all aspects of your life. Being fully engaged has a really different feel to it than being a passive participant''. When I’m fully present in my journey, I’m monitoring whether or not I have healthy food options in the fridge, pantry, and freezer. I’m checking on the gym laundry and my calendar for my workouts. I’m intentional on figuring out what I need to do in my workouts and when I can fit them into the myriad of other things I juggle. I’m spending time on SparkPeople logging, interacting, engaging and being committed to friends who support me on my quest for health. When I’m a passive participant, I’m letting life happen to me, and then using that as an excuse as to why I didn’t do what I needed to do.
If you’re reading this on toward the end of the week, are you being mindful, intentional and planning actions for a successful weekend? That is when many of us have difficulty due to social engagements, events, etc. that keep us running and unprepared. Can you take a few moments right now to be M.I.A.?
My daughter always jokes about my purse. She refers to it as my ''girl scout backpack''. One of the goals of the girl scouts is to be prepared, right? My daughter is never quite certain what I’ll be able to pull out of there, but when I’m being mindful I have healthy food options, a motivating read, and possibly a journal to make notes. So today when we ran out of the house for her band practice, I paused to load my backpack with all of those things. I wasn’t going to be passive and leave unprepared, and then later use that unpreparedness as an excuse to drive through or run into one of the not-so-healthy eating options we have within a couple miles of our house.
Is it easy being mindful and intentional? No, not always, and some days I find myself living in barely contained chaos--you know, those days where nothing goes as planned and you have to tolerate the adverse situation and be able to embrace the uncertainty. Starting today, I'm going to write ''M.I.A.'' on an index card along with the five elements of adventure and I will keep it in my backpack. I’m going to remind myself to be intentional about my success, because it's worth it to me.
Will you join me this week in being M.I.A.? What can you do to prepare yourself for a successful week? What works for you when you need to get back to a mindful place?
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