To me it is very important to understand my clients in order to help them reach their goals. When I interview them, one of the questions I ask is what they want to get from exercising. Many of them are shy about telling me the real reason. But I don’t blame them because I would be shy as well talking to a stranger and telling that person about my life or the real reasons I want to exercise.
As we warm up and start talking about their real issues, we discover many things. I have come to the conclusion that most of us are looking for almost the same goals, but we express them differently.
Let me tell you what I have found out…
maybe you can relate. We want to stay younger; be healthy, in shape (tone body and low body fat) and energetic; have stamina; enjoy longevity; be stress free; be independent; increase our sex drive; be sharper; be more self-confident; have a stronger body and fit into our clothes, among others positive things.
If you related to this and know how it feels (low self-esteem, not happy with the way our body looks, unhealthy, tired, embarrassed not to be able to do many physical activities, old, lethargic, weak, and not able to buy the clothes we like but instead what fits), you probably agree that it’s time to change.
This is why many of us look for help…
We are tired of the pain of those feelings, and that pain is stronger than the pain of changing. However, many of us don’t want to take the steps in life required to really experience such change.
Many of us spend $4 for a coffee at Starbucks, yet we think that a dozen organic eggs are expensive at $4 compared to the conventional ones that cost $2.99. Or we spend $100 in a night out every weekend or twice a week when we can cook at home and save $60 each time and we don’t want to spend $150 in a good exercise program. Or we buy a couple of drinks for $9 each plus tip, and we complain that organic is more expensive.
Many of us complain about how expensive healthy food, a gym membership or a personal trainer is, but we don’t pay attention to all the money that we spend on things that don’t contribute to our goal.
With this I am not saying that people should not buy a cup of coffee or go out and eat…
What I am saying is that many people don’t notice how their money is spent. Even when it’s about an investment to improve our life, we think it should be cheaper even though farmers worked hard to bring such healthy food to our tables. But, once again, we are willing to spend dollars in toxic things such as alcohol.
When I learned that conventional foods contribute to many diseases such as cancer and diabetes, I decided to start buying organic. The issue back then was that I was broke and in debt. I was at least $5,000 in debt, had no job and owned a business that was taking money instead of providing me with it. Also, my car was broken. But something just made sense to me, and if I wanted to save money and avoid diseases, I need to start buying the right foods. So even though I was in debt, I decided to put a couple hundred dollars more into my credit card.
When I was in that situation I learned a lot about saving money…
and investing it in the right places. That was when I paid a lot of attention to my spending habits. I got out of debt, bought an apartment and helped my business grow. This is what I learned:
Television only takes my time and money. I could save at least $80 a month from cable.
Back then the smart phone was the new thing, and everyone had one. Any plan with data was between $100 to $150 (compared with a plan for calling and texting that cost $40), plus the phone itself that cost from $800 to $1,000. I saved between $60 to $110 a month, and I kept my Sony Erikson i810.
I stop driving everywhere and taking unnecessary trips, which saved me a couple of tanks of gasoline a month from $20 to $0.
I stopped eating out, which saved me around $80 a week.
I stopped buying clothes because I liked them and bought only when I needed them. That saved me around $150 a month.
I stopped spending money on my car, which was one of my hobbies. I concluded that all the money I put into it will devalue just like the car itself. I can only estimate how much money I wasted, around $20,000. So I am guessing I also saved a good amount of money here.
Once I did some accounting, I was saving at least $600 a month. I can only imagine how much money someone who eats out every night and buys drinks at the bar can spend a week.
Even though there are some people who can’t afford a gym…
or personal training memberships, they should at least be able to invest their money in their food, buying the most healthy and organic food available. In the long run, they will save more money avoiding cancer and other diseases.
When someone comes to me and tells me they can’t afford a gym membership or a group training program, I can only think that they don’t want to afford it or they simply don’t see the value of it.
We are always going to spend money, either for bad habits or good habits. The problem is not spending the money; the real question to ask is, are you wasting your money or are you investing it?
So if you want to change your life and get any of the results I mentioned earlier, you have to ask yourself, is where I am putting my money helping me reach my desired goals or getting me away from it.
No matter how much money you end up making…
you always are going to find a way to spend it, and the truth is that many times what should be a priority is not and what is not becomes a priority. I see some people driving luxury cars and stopping in a fast food restaurant.
Nowadays I invest my money in seminars, courses, books (a lot of books), exercising, food, real estate, Custom Body Fitness, my family, charity, tools that I need for work and to help others, anything that is going to drive me closer to my goals and not farther away from them. For example, I would never spend $8 for a drink, but I would spend $30 for a book. If I buy a pair of pants that cost me $150 and I wear them very often, it is money well spent. But if I spend $15 for it and wear it only once, I have wasted my money.
So if you want to stay younger; be healthy, in shape and energetic; have stamina; enjoy longevity; be stress free; be independent; increase your sex drive; be sharper; be more self-confident; have a stronger body and fit into your clothes, invest your money in the right place.
When it’s about losing weight, nothing superficial works in the long term…
though things might work for shorter periods. For example, a weight loss pill may work for a couple of weeks, but then people can’t lose any more weight and usually regain the weight they lost. Surgery works for a couple of years, but soon people start gaining the weight back.
The real problem is the habits that are still there. Those same behaviors will make the person regain the weight. When I sit with our members at Custom Body Fitness, I always listen to their stories. I can make a lot of conclusions from these stories and give our members feedback. One of the reasons why people can’t change their habits is because of their beliefs.
Beliefs are what make us…
For example, the other day I had a discussion with a friend about our different beliefs. She said that she had a thyroid condition that is genetic, and I told her that there is no disease that is predetermined by genes. She said that I was wrong. My goal was not to convince her about my beliefs versus her beliefs. So I told her that I do respect her opinion, and she is entitled to think what she believes is true.
I have another friend who had the same thyroid condition, and, after she did some research, she knew that her way of eating was bad and was a big factor in her thyroid condition. Even though her mom had the same thyroid condition and the doctor told her it was genetic, she opted to believe that the problem was under her control. She now has a healthy thyroid without medications and their side effects.
Based on their beliefs, friend number one decided she has no control over her thyroid problem, and therefore only medication can help her. However, friend number two asked for a second opinion from a different doctor and found out that she needed to change the way she eats to control her low thyroid, which she is successfully doing.
My point is not whether the disease is genetic or not…
My point is that based on their beliefs each took a different approach.
So many people come with a belief that a diet or any other superficial method for weight loss will help. For example, I interviewed one of our members who is doing the Keto diet. She said that she was eating more meat than veggies. She continued talking about this diet, and, according to her (because I do not know a lot about it), the diet is more meat, no sugar of any kind and no carbohydrates. She told me that fruits in this diet are out, and she also told me how cottage cheese is okay in this diet.
The Keto diet is now part of our new member’s beliefs…
and even though we have talked about healthy eating, she forgot about some very important points that this diet is not taking into consideration. For instance, fruits are not only sugar, and there is not a considerable amount of sugar in fruits that will make people overweight. As a matter of fact, I have not seen an overweight person who eats only fruits. I have eaten fruits all my life and never had an overweight issue. Also, I have a friend whose diet is fruits alone, and he is one of the skinniest guys I ever met. Steve Jobs ate only fruit, and he was not overweight.
And that’s because fruits are not refined sugars; fruits are whole foods that come in a perfect state for our body to digest. The biggest percentage of a fruit will be water, followed by fiber, vitamin and sugar.
When refined or processed sugar is eaten, it goes straight to the liver, where it needs to be processed into fat and stored. When a fruit is being eaten, the body needs to break it apart with fiber, which helps with digestion. Even the sugar is used for digestion, and no sugar is actually stored. Also, your body will allow you to eat only enough fruit. With refined sugar, usually the body does not how to handle it and you may end up eating more than what you can handle.
Another belief when dieting is that everything that is allowed in the diet…
such as nutrients (protein in this case), is okay to eat. For example, since it’s okay to eat foods high in protein in the Keto diet, it follows that cottage cheese is good. But one of the big factors of being overweight and having diseases is eating processed foods. Most cottage cheese brands have ingredients like grade A lactose, grade A whey, guar gum, carrageenan, locust bean gum, citric acid, lactic acid, phosphoric acid, potassium sorbate, natural flavoring, Vitamin D3 and enzymes.
Another example is when we hear the word vegan. We believe it’s healthy. Beer, alcohol, processed foods such as energy bars and McDonald’s french fries are vegan, but that does not mean they’re healthy.
So when we talk about beliefs, many people have different opinions: the doctor, the other doctor, the nurse, the dietitian, the guru … everyone. The reality is that to find what is true we need to step back from everyone’s opinion — because that is what it is, an opinion — and do our own research from various sources, take our time to meditate on it and make the most educated decision without persuasion.
or a specific exercise for the abs or a hormone treatment. Losing weight is about a lifestyle change, and this is why it is so difficult for so many of us to lose weight. We don’t want to pay the effort of getting off the couch or open time in our busy schedule to exercise, cook, buy whole foods, eat on schedule and make conscious, healthy choices. We want an easy and fast solution to our problems.
So to lose weight the first thing we need to take into consideration is our beliefs and to challenge our beliefs even though that makes us angry, sad or wrong. This will open a door to new solutions that will require action from us and yes, effort getting the real results that we always wanted.
Don’t be a follower be a student.
When I was in my depression, I was going to college. I was taking a couple of psychology classes. At the same time I was doing my own research about human behavior and mental diseases. Some of the information I was learning in college simply did not make sense to me. It had a lot of contradictions about psychiatric drugs and people’s beliefs. Even though I was learning from school, it simply did not make sense. So I decided to continue my research, and I found out many people and even organizations are releasing the truth about psychiatric drugs, and they are fighting against this madness and making people aware of their danger and ineffectiveness.
Here is something funny:
I know that 1/3 of my readers will agree with what I am saying about psychiatric drugs, 1/3 will not be convinced and 1/3 will completely disagree with it. But my goal is not to convince you about the madness of psychiatric drugs. My message is simply that what did not make sense to me, I questioned instead of following what was being taught. The same I think will be good for you. It is important that you question all professionals and ascertain the teachers’ motives and beliefs and do your own research about the information you are getting. If you want to know that truth about anything, it is important that you do a whole unbiased research about the topic you are learning.
Before I used to follow advice from friends, professionals and other sources, such as the television, news programs and documentaries, without questioning their information. I really never learned anything because all I was doing was following instead of studying the information. I was lost trying to be other people by copying exactly what they said.
It was not until I started to question…
that I started to look for other sources of information and— adding what I think is the most important piece — meditating the information. Meditating the information not only made me curious about it, it also led me to more questions and to dig even deeper into other topics. By doing this it helped me find myself and be myself. I became passionate about helping people.
This is when I think magic started because by understanding myself I could start to understand others, empathize with them and understand why we make the decisions we make.
I started to forgive people who hurt me in the past, and I started to accept my mistakes and understand why I was selfish and hurt others. I think forgiveness is very important for the human being. When we forgive others, we get rid of many negative emotions that stop us from growing and make our life miserable.
I have the habit to continue learning…
and the habit of being skeptical, not because I don’t trust but because I like to learn. I usually gather information, meditate it and apply what I have concluded. This is a daily habit: read, meditate and apply the conclusion from the information taken.
Many people are not happy with themselves. Pay attention around you. Many of us are on our cell phone texting, talking, surfing the internet, on Facebook, listening to music, watching television or talking to someone most of the time. Many people don’t have even 10 minutes of silence because they are running away from what’s in their head. This is why they can’t have a moment of silence. And the question is, do you want to be with someone whom you don’t like? Once you find yourself, you are going to love yourself. Once you love yourself, you are going to start loving everyone else and live a happier life.
For me finding myself was one of the most important events…
It is like finding your child after looking for them desperately.
Anyway, there is a lot of myth about fitness and weight loss, a lot of contradictory information. Many times people, who hire me, come confused with so much information. I help them clear their thoughts, but what is more important, I teach them to be independent and start questioning anyone who calls himself authority. We can be persuade for money when we are giving and advise, we can honestly wrong because the information we learned is just wrong from text books and we can be ignorant. You will only discover the truth when you make your research and take time alone to find yourself and make your own conclusions. So don’t follow blinded, be curious and make your research.
Remember that is your health, life and body what you are putting in the line.
I have heard stories about people from other cultures who moved to the U.S. and started gaining weight. That generation and the ones that followed starting suffering from overweight problems including some of its diseases. Keep in mind that these immigrants had no overweight issues before moving. They adapt to the American life as they incorporate. After they move, it takes a couple of years before they start to gain weight.
The food they eat and the sedentary lifestyle they adopt are part of the problem…
We live in a first world country, and we are dealing with overweight issues even with all the resources we have to stay healthy. This leads me to think about other issues.
We live in a country with a lot of opportunities. The U.S. is one of the richest countries in the world. This is the land of opportunity. This makes me wonder: With so much opportunity, why do people still commit suicide? We have the highest rate of suicide, and we consume at least 80 percent of the cocaine in the world. This means that many people are not happy here, and they need to kill themselves or do some kind of drug to escape from reality.
Now, not everyone who comes to the U.S. or lives in the U.S. has overweight problems or kills themselves or does drugs. There are also many happy people. For example, my dad came to visit the U.S., and he was overweight. After 5 months he was in his best shape ever, losing 30 pounds.
When I moved to the U.S., I was lost. I was not happy. I was starting to get affected by the superficial messages television sends, society, and the lifestyle that many desire. I became jealous and found myself trying to fit into society. I started to buy things I could not afford such as brand-name clothes and went to restaurants that were out of my budget. The more I tried to copy other people’s lives, the more unhappy I became. To this add the lack of self-empathy and emotions from others. No wonder why people think about killing themselves and doing drugs. We feel unaccepted and out of place like there is something wrong with us.
There are many theories about what exactly the term “genetic” means…
While I believe that many of our behaviors, diseases and traits may be genetic, I also believe that all these are also affected by environment.
Genetic is a term that many of us misunderstand. The term has become dangerous. We think that genetic means that we are predetermined to a certain disease, behavior or even destiny because of our genes. There are many studies done now that show that genetic is something different than what we believe. To those who study genes it usually is a biological term to define how life is being affected. In other words, environment affects a gene at all times. So genes can be altered by environment, and to some degree environment affects our lives.
My point is that many people come with healthy genes to a different environment and start developing health and behavior issues. But not only that, our environment also affects the decisions we make. For example, acceptance is a human need, and for us to be accepted, we are willing to do anything it takes. This is one of the reasons why gangs exist, teens start drinking, we spend a lot of money on cars and clothes, we give up to sexual pressure and we make many decisions that go against our beliefs.
While it is true that many people who are affected by environment are predisposed to diseases or behaviors, it is also true that some are not. But that is another story.
The truth is that environment plays a big role in people’s lives…
and you can notice this if you have had the opportunity to observe how all cultures behave differently throughout the world and throughout time. They have different beliefs and problems to deal with.
I used to be very egocentric thinking only about my own benefit. My life has changed, and I now think about others. I think about the generations to come such as your children, animals, and whoever and whatever is going to inhabit this place. My goal does not have to be your goal, of course. But if you care about the health of others, it is very important to start thinking about each decision we make and understand that these decisions do affect the environment, which in turn will affect others’ lives.
I could tell you that I do this only for everyone else and our earth, but I would be lying. Even though I am not as egocentric as I used to be, I still think about me. Each time I help someone else, I feel better, I help my business and my health improves. In addition, each time I have problems the solutions come to me very easily because I think about everyone.
I am not sure if the psychology of it is real, but I have proven that the law of do unto others like you want to be done unto you is true. When I was egocentric and never helped with money or my time, it seemed like negative things were always happening. My car would break down when I needed it the most, and I had no money. I was broke most of the time. I did not like my job, and I was not happy. I never had a sense of progress.
My conscience is aware about the many decisions I make. I won’t feel successful or at peace if I see people suffering and don’t do anything. I can’t just be a spectator, buying an expensive car just because I want to feed my ego. I am not saying that buying an expensive car is wrong. I think many people deserve it because of the value they have put into this world, and my plan is to get a nice car one day, but I won’t get it until I feel I deserve it for helping so many animals, people and the earth overall.
My goal is to improve the environment where I live to improve other people’s lives…
It will not only help the generation to come, but it will also help me by making me feel great and leaving a legacy.
I come from a very poor family, and I raised myself starting from age 14. I used to sleep in cardboard. I used to make less than 5 dollars a day and survived on that. I wouldn’t think about buying a taco because I was afraid of the money I would have to spend. I had two sets of pants that I wore for more than 2 years. I never really had money. I was poor. But I was happy.
I moved to the U.S. and became rich. I had it all, things I never thought I would have. Back then the CD was the hot trend. I would buy all my favorite CDs, I could buy clothes, as many tacos as I wanted. I even bought a car. I had money. I literally became rich. The problem was that even though I did not have anything before, I still wanted more than what I had. I got a better job, made more money and get more material things, better trips, a better car and I would still feel empty.
No matter how much money I made and how many things I got, I would always want more.
Once I understood that I could decide what to think about the environment, I could take control of my thoughts, my actions and therefore my life. Many times my belief was that cancer could just strike anyone, and I was no exception. I thought that my body would adapt to chemicals and toxins and things that I was not supposed to eat or drink or be around. I was not responsible for my actions and usually blamed someone else for my situation.
One day, it just happened. I started to study human behavior, the environment, psychology, the power of the mind, cultures and I found out that yes, the environment affects everyone, but by the end you decide how you let the environment affect you. I was 28 when I made the realization.
However, it can be difficult for younger people…
who don’t have this knowledge and take adults as authorities — to control their thoughts and understand that the world they live in is not a set reality. Reality is what they decide to think about the environment. This is why so many young people can’t be successful in their lives and feel rejected, commit suicide or do drugs.
The better the environment we create for the next generation, the better our next generation will be, avoiding some suffering along the way and improving this world in general.
Let’s help the next generation to succeed by changing the environment for them and by changing ourselves, we change the environment.
I recently got two puppies, and I was potty training them. I am not an expert in the subject, and therefore my puppies had a lot of accidents in the house. I used the two usual training methods: punishment and reward. What I noticed is they learned faster when I gave them rewards than when I was punishing them. In fact, when they were punished, they even got confused and did not know what to do when I gave them rewards. However, confirming with them that they did something against the rules also helped them understand what they should be doing.
I also noticed in my career that people get courage and motivation when there is a reward…
and there is no better reward than achieving their goals. In addition, helping people understand their mistakes and how those mistakes are keeping them from getting to their goals is very helpful.
When there is punishment there is force, and when there is reward there is power. This is the topic that I am reading in a book call Force vs Power.
A train needs to be supplied with fuel to produce force to overcome inertia. As more force is produced, there is more resistance. So there is a constant fight that requires energy supply.
Gandhi use power against the force of Britain, Martin Luther King Jr. used power against the force of discrimination, and Jesus used power against the force of his enemies.
The point is it doesn’t matter how strong force is, power will always defeat it…
Force needs a constant energy supply, but power is just there. Power is smart, prepared, patient, decisive, persistent and peaceful. These are only some of the characteristics of Gandhi, Martin andJesus.
Many times when members start with our program they come very excited to change, or I help them to become very motivated about achieving their weight-loss goals. However, when we start creating a plan, I notice that many want to use force to achieve their goals. They want to follow a diet, a trend or a belief they don’t even understand. This is why many people can’t reach their goals — or when they do they end up regaining the weight — because of the constant energy required to produce force.
However, when we use power instead of force, losing weight becomes easier. You probably have read one of my articles or watched one of my videos where I suggest finding the real reasons you want to lose weight. When you are using your whys you start to use power, because now you are not just forcing yourself to follow a diet. Now you have reasons to change your eating. For example, one of my reasons to eat healthily is I want to preserve my body young, strong and healthy because I like how I feel and how I look. I don’t let myself get overweight or weak. I don’t use force to avoid processed foods — I use my reasoning (power) instead.
Another way you can use power is by understanding your real needs rather than your wants…
For example, you need four basic chemicals (dopamine, endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin) to be happy, and you can produce every single one naturally. For instance, you can produce dopamine by exercising, endorphins by constantly progressing and achieving your goals, serotonin by mentoring and being mentored and oxytocin simply by loving or healthily bonding with others.
In these ways you are using power. Or you can use force, by using psychiatric drugs, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, irresponsible sex or video games, behaviors that will cause negative consequences to come into your life. And don’t misinterpret my meaning; I am not saying that playing videos games, for example, is bad. I am just saying that making these behaviors the source of your chemical will create an addiction, using force to get what you need to be happy.
I have helped many people to lose weight, and they continue with me losing weight, and others are capable enough to do it alone after they learn how to use power instead of force. Following a trendy diet or superficially having a reward is never better than the real reasons you are losing weight and the knowledge of understanding yourself. Power defeats force.
This year start with the right program and mindset with your weight-loss program. Find your power instead of your force.
When I reflect on my life I see that I always had a reason to wake up…
When I was lost the reason was very superficial, useless for me, for the community and for my family. I used to wake up for dating, to ride my car, to make more money, to party, to see my friends, to go shopping, to watch my cartoons, to play video games. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all those behaviors are wrong. It is part of life to do them, but when I just to wake up only for that my life had no purpose. But the truth is that there was always a reason for me to wake up.
You can imagine how difficult my day was. I joined the club of, “Not another Monday” and “Thank God it’s Friday.” There was no desire or passion toward any of those activities. I was a zombie. Think about it: How fulfilling can it be having a fast car? Or beating the game for the 50th time, or never finding the right girl because the cause was me? Or partying? Or shopping? Or watching cartoons? That was the ecstasy of my life. It’s true that many of these things would help me to wake up and I would find some joy in doing them, but soon it would dissipate, leaving me empty.
I really can’t believe I lived this life until I turned 28. But it is also true I did not know better than that.
Now my life is different. I wake up every day because my goal is to change this world into a better place. The goal is to add value to people’s lives and make them better. Not only that but also to prevent unnecessary suffering to animals and improve the condition of our planet.
I found my real purpose by accident and never completely developed a plan…
Each time I reach one goal, I set a higher one. It was not easy to find my purpose, and many people ask me the question of the year, “How can I find my purpose?” I understand that it is not easy and give an answer like, “Doing what you like to do is not enough.” That’s because many people like things that won’t add value to the world. Many people like sex, and I don’t see how sex alone will add value to the world. Other people like cigarettes, and I don’t understand how this can improve someone’s life. Other people like to put harmful chemicals on food, and I don’t see how that improves the world. How about gamboling?
We are biologically created to help each other…
There are two chemicals in the body released naturally that give us the best high, serotonin and oxytocin. Both are released when we help others (nothing like dopamine and endorphins that are released through self-serving acts, not that I’m saying that’s bad). If we want to feel fulfilled and complete, we must work on releasing serotonin and oxytocin.
Serotonin is released by supporting people and helping them achieve a goal. For example, when you help your child with homework and finish the task, there is a feeling of accomplishment by your child not only when the homework is done but when the homework is graded. The child feels proud of your help, giving you credit, and you feel proud of helping.
Oxytocin is released when we help other people just because we can. When you listen to a needy person or help the old lady cross the street or help someone change a flat tire, both of you get a shot of oxytocin.
These are the only unselfish ways to get these important chemicals. This is very important, because you will only feel truly fulfilled when you know you are helping others. You will enjoy your day when you know you are changing and helping other people’s lives in a positive way. Not only you will enjoy it, it feels so good that you become addicted to the good task.
If we add the fact that you like to work with your hands, mind, brain, creating, building, listening, alleviating pain, fixing …
you have found your purpose. Whatever you love to do, it should add value to others people’s lives and the world.
This how I found my purpose…
I have become various things: I am a personal trainer, health coach, philanthropist, writer, business marketer, speaker, motivator, mentor and teacher, yet I don’t identify myself as any of them because all I think about is adding value to people and this world.
I wake up not caring about what day it is and get to work because this purpose and these goals are very fulfilling.
Dreaming big is not a dream…
It is your reality. Yes, it might sound ridiculous for you to walk or run 50 miles when you can’t even complete 2 miles. However, as you train and become more familiar with running and achieving your goals you’ll add more miles to your training. You will see that 50 miles may not sound like too much by the time you are running 30 miles.
The same happens with your goals. Yes, if your goal is to save 10,000 children from human trafficking and abuse, it may sound too difficult, but as you create systems and start saving the first, before you know it, even 20,000 won’t seem difficult.
Gaining your financial freedom is the same way. However, this is only a secondary effect of the purposeful work you are doing. So my point here is to dream big and be ambitious with your goals and purpose. It might seem too far and difficult in the beginning, but it will get easier.
I read in Steve Jobs’ biography that his power to focus on his goals was so strong that he could ignore pain and other problems in his life when he was working at Apple. Also, I heard in an audio book called “Rhinoceros Success” that if you continue full charge towards your goals, the small problems will be like mosquitoes that you are leaving behind. You would not even feel them. Focusing does help to ignore some discomforts that don’t matter and don’t help us reach our goal.
I am always thinking my life is perfect…
There are times when everything just happens the way I planned it, and there are times for winter and storms and everything unpredictable. Many times in my life, I am having fun reaching my goals and having a great relationship with those around me, my financials are good, God is on my side, people appreciate what I do, my car is working just fine, I feel physically very strong and energetic and I am learning my lessons easily. However, other times it’s the opposite, but I don’t feel when everything hits me. It starts with a small argument with a family member, it goes to the whole car suspension, continues with spending more than my usual monthly budget, follows by not being able to focus at work and help our members the way they deserve, it moves to not feeling at peace and feeling tired and without energy and motivation. It seems like I am being followed by a grey cloud. All of a sudden, everything is going in the direction I did not plan.
But I learned to divide my life into areas and maintain all of them because this will allow me to bounce back easily. I never let go no matter how difficult it becomes. I continue working on all areas in my life and have faith. Let me explain a little more.
Dividing my life in 5 areas helps me understand where I am failing…
or what needs work and where I am doing great. I have my spiritual, health, family, professional and financial areas. Many times my life suffers in one area; I might not be my best on my health or my profession or my family area. Sometimes all suffer. But because I take care of all the areas when life is good, when a down time comes and one area does suffer, I can make it out without too much effort.
For example, I recuperated fairly quickly after my knee surgery for many reasons. One is because I exercise, so the muscles around the knee were already strong. Second is because I eat healthily, my immune system is strong. And third I don’t take medications, including pain killers, which allows my body to focus on healing instead of fighting foreign chemicals. The down phase was my knee surgery; my up phase is now when I have my health back. This can be applied to a small cold — it works just the same way.
Another example is when my both dogs suffered an accident and my car broke down. I had to spend around $10,000 out of pocket. Working, spending less than what I earn and saving money helps me during situations like that. I have learned how to deal with these down phases. Thinking that down phases don’t exist is being naïve. I need to be prepared for them just like I did in this example.
No matter how healthy I am, I am going to get sick, no matter how much money I have, I am going to have to spend money where I didn’t plan to, no matter how much I show my family how much I care and work on the relationship, I will have disagreements and inconveniences, and no matter how much I have learned to control my emotions and make very thoughtful decisions, I will be heartbroken and make dumb choices.
However, if I am healthy, have money saved, take care of my family and learn how to deal with emotions, I will be better off…
When down phases come, I will not go as far down as many will because they don’t take care of their basic needs.
My point is that if you take care of your basic needs, when down phases come, it will be easy to stand up again. But if you don’t take care of your basic needs, you may be trying to get of the hole for years or even your whole life.
I love going back and studying my past. I have made many mistakes, and while many of them are very painful, I love to learn and prevent myself from making the same mistakes. I realize I was in a winter time or down phase only after I am out of it. This is why I always think my life is great: I never notice the down phase thanks to my focus on my goals in all my life areas.
Learning how to focus, understanding how life works and dividing your life in areas that make sense to you that you can track is a smart way to approach life and live it happily.
Reading Helped me with my depression…
One of the habits that have completely changed my life and helped me become successful in many areas of my life is reading. When I was in depression, reading gave me the answer to overcome it. When I was failing in my business, reading gave me the answer to make it grow. When I was unsuccessful in my public relations, reading gave me the answer to improve it. When life is not working the way I want it to, reading gives me an explanation to understand or overcome such issues.
If I need an answer or to improve myself, reading is one of the keys. And one of the best books I have ever read and that has the best life instructions is the Bible. It is a difficult book to understand, but many theologists have helped me to understand many of the stories or parables.
I am by no means an expert on the Bible. And I think I will never be even though I’ve almost finished reading it. I am probably going to read the Bible many times before I die and still not understand it 100 percent. It has so many secrets, from the whole Bible story, to the individual books, to verse and parables. However, that does not mean that I am completely ignorant about it.
If you follow me, you probably have read the article Be Prepared For The Unpredictable (you can find it on the Post Independent website or my website, or simply search for it online). It talks about how life is not all happiness or all sadness, yet many of us think that when depression hits in any way or form that is how life will be forever. But that too “shall pass.”
This is what I think Jesus means when he says:
“Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their father treated the false prophets.”
That is important to know to be ready for bad times. I have noticed that many people do not prepare for bad times, and when bad times come, they become worried and irritated. They start getting desperate and make bad decisions.
For example, when someone has a good job and is making good money, they don’t save money for the future or for undesired events, and when the economy collapses, or they lose their jobs, or the car breaks down, their response is to be upset with life and borrow some money or sell their house to get out of debt and get their head above water. I have been there, and I know the feeling.
The same reasoning applies with their health. Many drink, eat junk food and processed foods, don’t exercise and make bad health decisions and years later become ill to the point they are desperate to find a cure for their illness.
Nevertheless the verse continues with this:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.”
That also means that bad times will not be there forever, that the person who cried will also smile. So this is only a cycle. For instance, if you lost your job, you are ill or have family problems or any other issue, it means that is going to pass and you will get to smile again. That does not mean that you should not work to get out of the downside and put effort into it. It means that your life will change for the better soon and your effort will pay off.
The truth is that no one is exempt from these lows and highs — no matter your education, economic status, marital status, nationality, religion, age or anything.
One of the requirements of my career is listening to people and finding out why they have not achieved their goals. And this is one of the reasons: They can’t handle the down side of life. They forget that the moment, weeks, months or even years are only a part of their life, not their whole life, and they stop moving forward.
So if you’re having a storm of bad news…
think about it, and you will find that something similar happened at some point in your past and you overcame it. You will overcome it again, and you will be smiling. Also, when you are smiling, be ready for the downside of life, because it will come. The good news is that you will be ready for it, and it won’t be so painful.
There was a man who came to collect fruit from his fig tree every year…
but each time he came back the tree had no fruit to offer. By the third year the man was upset with the tree and asked his servant to cut it down because all it was doing was taking from the soil. The servant suggested to give the tree another chance and he would work on the soil, and if the tree doesn’t bear fruit by the fourth year, they will take it down.
Simon Sinek is a marketing expert, and he talks about an experiment he performed. He persuaded a homeless woman to change her sign that said something like, “I am homeless,” to, “If you only give once a month, think of me next time.” She made more money in two hours than she used to make all day. I saw a video with the same effect. There was a blind guy asking for money, and the sign said, “Help me. I am blind.” A lady stopped and changed his sign to, “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” Then this guy made more money, too.
In the past I remember working only for money. I wanted everyone to look at me and focus on my car and my clothes and to give me more, and I was not genuinely thankful for people’s services. I learned to say thank you, but it was from my teeth out.
Many of us think about our needs only and what others can do for us…
but never think about how we can contribute to others’ lives. This is what made the difference in the signs of the homeless people. While many of the homeless people focus on “help me” by writing “I am homeless,” “I have 5 children,” “I am a veteran” and so on, the new message in the signs focuses on others instead of themselves. Now the homeless person is doing a legitimate transaction. He or she is offering “feeling good for giving,” and we are giving the person money.
It feels good to help. I have stopped to help people move their broken-down cars from the middle of traffic. I have helped people change their flat tire by the highway or load up their trucks when they lost equipment on the highway, I contribute monthly to different charities, and I look forward to see how I can help people who want and need help.
We always want something in exchange when we do something, and oftentimes the exchange for helping others is just the feeling we get from it. I am not only helping others because I want to be the nice guy and I want recognition. I am doing it because it makes me feel good. Not too long ago I went to the pool and I saw two guys struggling with the lockers. They lost their two quarters, and I had two extra ones. One guy was going to run downstairs and change his bill. I just told him that I had two extra quarters and gave them to him. The other guy told him to give me his one dollar bill. I know we’re talking about just two quarters. I told the guy to keep his bill. I almost wanted to tell him, “Don’t take my joy away. I prefer my joy than the extra 50 cents.” No matter if we do it with time, physical effort or money, we always end up buying the feeling of helping.
I learned that we release oxytocin when we help others…
This hormone contributes to our happiness. The best thing about helping others is that not only the person who is helping releases more oxytocin but so does the person who is being helped and the people watching the charitable event.
I can say that part of my success in life is thanks to practicing the act of helping others without expecting something in exchange. Our members at Custom Body Fitness can perceive my intentions, and therefore they trust us with their health.
When I was focusing only on me, I was miserable. I thought I was happy because I did not know better or how to improve my happiness. All I knew was taking from people. It was very hard to drop $2 in the church basket. Can you imagine giving $5? I was stuck. And no matter how hard I tried, I was always broke, and I felt unloved. I had three jobs where I was being paid well. But I spent my money either on partying, on material things that lose value, or fixing my car. I was like the fig tree. I was not giving fruit. Thank God He gave me another year to show that I can provide fruit.
Now, I don’t have these problems. Helping others not only makes me happy, it also helps me with the law of “what you sow is what you reap.” I can see myself progressing in life. In addition, many people accept me because they know I care about them, and being accepted is a human need.
I don’t think anymore about others serving me only. I think about how I can improve people’s lives. What can I do extra? What do I need to learn? How I can contribute to positively improve the community? Now it is mostly about others and not much about me.
When people are serving me in a restaurant, retail store or anywhere else, I appreciate their job, and I understand that what they do is not easy, and thanks to them I am getting the service or product that I need. We are all here to serve, and when we understand this, life is fulfilling.
When we don’t give fruit we end up like the fig tree, ready to be taken down. When we give fruit everyone likes us and they are ready to come to us and take our fruit to use it. This is the reason fruit trees exist and we exist: to provide for others.
I remember when I went to school to learn writing…
It was overwhelming (I bet that is what a person, who started a weight loss program, thinks as well). To write an essay of 500 words seemed to be impossible. Now I can write whole books. The same was true when I studied algebra. To learn how to factor and solve for x or y seemed very hard, but I learned.
The truth is that none of these are hard to do, but because we focus on the end results, it seems very difficult and we often get discouraged or afraid to start.
To be able to learn how to write, I needed to know what a sentence is and how to make one. Not only that but how to put my ideas in order, how to deliver the message and so on. The same happened with algebra: I needed to know when to subtract, add, divide, multiply, exchange character places, etc.
Like I said, if you see the whole algebra problem or the whole two pages of writing, it seems overwhelming. Nevertheless, if you focus on only one division or one sentence, it seems simple. This is how life works.
I have many goals in life, and I often get overwhelmed because I get stuck and don’t seem to move forward. I focus on the long-term goal and forget about the small tasks I do that help me get closer to my goal. You may focus on your car, house, business, weight loss, family or investments and become desperate to achieve what you want because it is taking time. But don’t forget about the process that is leading you to your goal.
The process is what matters.
To resolve an algebra problem or write a book takes a process. If you skip one of the steps it messes up the end results. For example, if you do one of the divisions for the algebra problem wrong or you divide instead of multiply, or move the variable to the wrong side, your results will be wrong. If you write an article without engaging your reader or lose your train of thought or don’t come to a conclusion, you lose the reader, and your ultimate goal is lost.
For example, many people who want to lose weight focus on the end results, and they are weighing themselves very often if not every day. They start exercising and they don’t eat healthily. By the end of the month or two months later they don’t see any changes on the scale. They get discouraged and stop making the effort to lose weight. This is like using only division in one of my algebra problems or checking my results each time I take a step without luck of getting the right answer.
Or many people when they start their weight loss program focus on everything they need to do to get results, such as cooking, being aware of whole foods, weight lifting 3 times a week, walking 3 times a week, waking up earlier, taking time from other practices, getting a gym subscription, hiring a personal trainer, learning about healthy food choices, delegating tasks to the family, driving to the gym and so on. To them it seems a lot. Just like when I started to write a page essay. It was a lot. What was I supposed to say? Who can write so much? Who is going to read it? Who can I explain it to? How can I start? What is going to be my conclusion? Is it going to take a lot of my time? I might need to rewrite a sentence many times? I need to think, and it’s boring.
When we focus on the whole process it is overwhelming just like when we focus only on the results without seeing them.
Once again we forget that we need to take every single step and do it right to get results…
For example, in an algebra problem, instead of thinking about all the division, addition, etc., we start by distributing the negative sign to the numbers needed and then we can add like terms and so on. We are following a process step by step. It is not overwhelming anymore. If we continue taking the right steps we will get the right results without having to be checking every time we take a step forward.
The same applies to weight loss…
Instead of thinking about all the things we need to do to lose weight we can start with the basics, such as cooking every day, eating breakfast, and going for a 30 minute walk 3 times a week. If we continue taking the right steps without checking the scale every day, just as with the algebra problem, we will get the results we desire.
When we get overwhelmed and start thinking about the results only, we lose sight of the small tasks we do to get the results. Can you imagine an athlete thinking about only her next match and being desperate for it without focusing on her training regimen, doing anything at anytime whenever she wants and not tracking her progress? What do you think would be the results?
To get real results it is very important to focus on the small tasks, because they add up to the results we get in the end. If we don’t, chances are that our results will be the wrong ones.