Toxic Shame: Learning to View Shame as a Teacher, Not Master

Understanding Coaching: Leadership, Health, Executive, and More

When the Get-Up-and-Go Has Left: Finding Your Workout Motivation

Stress Management: You Have More Influence Over Stress Than You Think

I Need to Lose Weight. What Could I Do?

Have you recently thought to yourself, “I need to lose weight”? If so, perhaps you want to know what you could do. The truth is you may know what you could do. You may have a wealth of knowledge and you might have even followed the advice of various experts.

Perhaps you know where you struggle — you start off strong, but struggle to sustain outcomes. This article is written to get you thinking and maybe even curious about translating those thoughts into action while feeling great.

With serious health problems, increased medical costs, epidemic rates of obesity, and a general sense of knowing I “should,” why do so many struggle?

The 50+ million internet articles would like to tell you, or just sell you. It’s hard to know what is true anymore. We now know obesity is a medical condition. The Body Mass Index, a height and weight ratio, has been one measure to define overweight and obesity, though it seems body fat percentages, body’s muscle, bone, fat, water percentages, and bioimpedance metrics are quite common.

We also know there are drugs, procedures, programs, fads, and I tend to think it seems almost anyone can call themselves an expert based on the many tools and services claim they understand. I want you to ask: What is best for your health, happiness, and vitality?

A healthy weight is an important part of health, wellness, and vitality. We have all experienced or know of a family member with weight-related health conditions like high blood pressure, high blood sugars, sleep problems, high cholesterol, pain, depression, anxiety, and hormone dysregulation.

Turns out, there are many reasons to lose weight, including health, wellness, or maybe even someone else that you care about. Yet, even knowing a healthy weight is an import part of health, wellness, and vitality does not equal a lifestyle of healthy choices.

It can be difficult to decide what to do for one reason because they all tell you how fantastic and effective they are. Did you know that the studies have shown that just about any diet can result in weight loss?  That when you look at most programs, they address weight loss and management, and include fitness, nutrition, behavior, and some kind of behavioral change?

What most do not point out is the abundance of evidence towards a healthy lifestyle is practicing a whole food, plant-predominant diet with regular physical activity, restorative sleep, and stress management.

Instead we have articles running the gamut on how to lose weight fast, quick, naturally, with this or that eating habit, or this frequency, intensity, time, or type of exercise.

So maybe instead of arguing about how the programs differ, we can unite in what worked for you. I would love to hear what worked, what did not, why, and see if we could use this strength because I believe you have the ability.

At this point it is no wonder that one in three Americans are obese. The media content is confusing. The messaging can stray from the fundamental evidence and maybe at the end of the day it really does not matter who or what works as much as are you meeting your objectives. The good news is that you could treat, prevent, and even reverse your health problems and start feeling well and vibrant. Luckily, change does not have to be drastic.

Diet, exercise, and behavior change are undeniable influences on health. Sure, it matters what you eat, but how and when you eat are equally as important. Knowing what to do versus how to do it are different. Remember all that knowledge does not always translate into action but what you likely do know is it is hard to lose weight and keep the weight off. It is much easier to eat 500 calories than burn off 500 calories.

Losing weight can be confusing, frustrating, and outright difficult. My weight fluctuated from 160 lbs to 240 lbs as a 6’2″ male. At 160 lbs I was training for triathlons and playing tennis six plus hours a day. At 240 lbs I welcomed a bottle of a Napa Cabernet, steak, and cheesecake followed by a breakfast burrito just to start the next day off right.

I felt fantastic at 160 lbs but I never had my “six pack.” I felt terrible at 240 lbs and even today that meal sounds fantastic. I had personal trainers, dietitians, meal delivery, and physicians telling me what I could do, but no one asked me how I felt. No one knew that the Cabernet, steak, and cheesecake was a reward. I was lonely but not with my wine.

I had hypertension, heart disease, obesity, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, and felt hopeless. After two hospitalizations, I finally got it. See, during the first hospitalization, I was not ready. The second one stays with me to this day. My mom was at the end of the bed. She did not say a thing. We did not exchange any words. We did not have to. That was all I needed to initiate a change. Sometimes we change for ourselves, other times health; for me, I started for my mom.

Steps to Take Toward Losing Weight

So what could you do to get started? Below are a couple ideas to think about.

You could:

  • Identify what stage of readiness for change you are in.
  • Find the Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) here: www.prochange.com
  • Initiate change with small attainable steps focusing on what you could do today.
  • Work towards SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely
  • Start with a specific action today. Then create goals for the week and month that are measurable. Need help? Just ask. I would be happy to help.
  • Ask yourself, what has worked for you? What have you done well?

Sometimes we forget to focus on what we do well. Other times we disqualify the positives. The emphasis here is on your abilities, potential, and values.

What are your values? Why are you doing this? I initiated change for my mom. I sustained change for me. Maybe health and feeling happy are one of your values, you just aren’t where you want to be.

  • Do you need accountability? Do you need reinforcement?
  • Could you eliminate a certain food group? What would happen if you went through the house and threw out the sugars, salts, and alcohol?
  • We can focus on how to differentiate physical from psychological hunger later. I think this is very important.  Do you know how?
  • Can you identify your triggers or the antecedents that contribute to you making a poor diet choice?
  • Are you an emotional eater? Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Do you forget to eat? Are your eyes bigger than your stomach? Do you make the wrong choices when you are stressed?
  • Do you hate the gym?  Do you have the right clothes to exercise in?  What type of activity do you like?
  • Do you track your intake? How do you track your exercise or dietary habits?
  • Is tracking problematic for you? Maybe you perceive tracking as a chore? Do you utilize any technology? Keep in mind that tracking does not have to be a long-term objective.

Knowing what to do and knowing how to do it are different. Some believe this begins with what you are thinking. The hard part is slowing down enough to identify when those problematic thoughts get in the way.

Google or search with your favorite browser “cognitive distortions.” These are thinking patterns. It may be difficult to determine thinking patterns in the moment. Ultimately, we want to connect the thoughts to a feeling and action. Sound difficult? I can help, it does not have to be.

Quality sleep can be pivotal. Water consumption can be pivotal. Do you know how to start?

Could you apply a SMART goal to drinking more water? I think so.

Chances are, if you have read this far you probably relate to something written. Are you looking for new tools? Are you looking to initiate change and share your story? Maybe you want to stop yo-yo success. Whatever the reason, I believe I can educate, enable, and empower the attainable change you desire.

Still worried if I am a good fit? This is one reason our initial appointment could be FREE. For all I know, you may not like my colorful socks. I want to make you comfortable by being helpful, nourishing success, creating safety, and guiding through to resolution.

Schedule an appointment today.

Photos:
“Be able to love”, Courtesy of Lesly Juarez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Man at the Crossroads”, Courtesy of Vladislav Babienko, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Change”, Courtesy of Ross Findon, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Together, We Create!”, Courtesy of “My Life Through A Lens”, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Learning to Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Lovable

Using the Enneagram Personality Test to Realign Your Life

An amazing thing about people is that no two persons are ever exactly alike. Even identical twins are different on the inside at least. From a spiritual aspect, this uniqueness means that nobody can fill our particular shoes. Everybody has a special role in God’s Kingdom.

While this is great to know, sadly many people have not yet discovered their particular role or vocation in life as they are still trying to discover who they really are.

Wrong Choices in Life

One challenge many people face today is that they are involved in the wrong things or are tied up with the wrong people. Sometimes these may be minor, like joining a club they are not really interested in.

Other times it is something major, such as being in the wrong career field or moving to the wrong state. A big reason behind such “mistakes” in life is that people are not really sure about who they are because they are still learning more about themselves.

While bad decisions in life are expected since no one is perfect, it is usually better to avoid making such mistakes as the consequences may be very difficult to recover from. This is why people often seek advice from loved ones to help them make life decisions. These family members or friends, however, may not always know the person’s true self, advising them based solely on observation.

For example, if a person seems to be quite timid, a family member or friend may advise that person to become a librarian, a gardener, or an accountant rather than opting for careers in car sales, the military, or the like. Their basis is the outer self and not necessarily the inner self. This is why it is important to discover who you really are, sooner rather than later.

Discovering Oneself through the Enneagram Personality Test

A tool that some counselors, including Christian spiritual directors, are using to help people discover their true inner self is the Enneagram personality test. Though its origins can be traced back into antiquity, it is still a very useful tool in this modern day and age as people are still confused about who they are.

Everyone is born with a certain internal character or inner personality. However, as a person grows up, they learn new characteristics to adapt to their environment. Sometimes they learn how to hide their inner selves in fear of rejection or abuse.

Other times they learn to pretend to be someone else in the hope of better opportunities or to impress others. Over time, as the individual puts on these different masks needed to survive in life, they forget who they really are inside. This leads to confusion about oneself, resulting in wrong decisions.

The Nine Enneagram Types

The Enneagram has nine types which represent nine aspects of God’s nature. By discovering one’s type, a person has a better chance of figuring out what naturally drives them.

Type 1 – The Perfectionist

This type reflects God’s goodness and rightness. People with this personality type are usually concerned about what is “right” and “wrong.” They usually have high standards for themselves and others, hoping that things are done well and in the right way, all the time.

Type 2 – The Helper

This type reflects God’s love and nurture. People of this type value kindness, generosity, and self-sacrifice. They are usually concerned about the needs of others, constantly worrying if their loved ones need help. The approval of others is something they often seek.

Type 3 – The Achiever

The aspect reflected here is God’s hope and radiance. Those with this personality type aim to be the best in whatever they do. As they strive for excellence, they usually try to find ways to be efficient. This means they are usually flexible, adapting to what circumstances may require of them.

Type 4 – The Romantic

This type reflects God’s creativity and depth. People of this type wish to express their uniqueness. For them, it is important to be oneself and not just follow the crowd. They are very romantic at heart and appreciate beauty in the world and in others.

Type 5 – The Observer

This type reflects God’s wisdom and truth. Those with this personality type desire to know and understand the world around them. They often observe others and wish to delve deeper into a variety of fields and topics. They, however, also seek independence which may mean holding back resources from others (for personal needs) and keeping to themselves.

Type 6 – The Loyalist

This type reflects God’s faithfulness and courage. A person of this personality type wishes to be safe and secure. It is important that they are faithful and that others are faithful to them. It is this devotion to others or to a good cause that allows them to be courageous in the face of threats.

Type 7 – The Enthusiast

The aspect reflected here is God’s joy and abundance. People with this type want to experience life to the fullest. They are often very optimistic and value freedom. Fun is something they often seek, so they usually try different things and choose not to get stuck in routines.

Type 8 – The Challenger

The aspect reflected here is God’s power and protection. A person of this personality type chooses to be strong and does their best not to show any vulnerability. They love to prove themselves in challenges and often prefer to move forward rather than retreat. In addition, they also wish to protect others from threats and vulnerabilities by taking them under their wing.

Type 9 – The Peacemaker

This final aspect reflects God’s peace and oneness. In this type, the person wishes to be in harmony with the world. As they wish to avoid conflict, they try to be open and understanding, helping others to understand one another so that peace may be achieved.

Applying the Enneagram Personality Test with Christian Counseling

It really is a big struggle to always be in conflict with the inner self. Rather than going against one’s nature, it is best to know oneself and realign one’s goals and choices to that inner self.

While there is much material online about this, sometimes the details of it all can become quite tricky to understand. This is why it greatly helps to seek guidance about the Enneagram through Christian counseling. The Christian counselor can work with the client to not only discover their true personality type; but, more importantly, apply that knowledge to one’s career, other pursuits, and their role in God’s Kingdom.

The Enneagram personality test is also very useful in couples therapy, helping spouses to better understand themselves and each other, giving more insight into their relationship.

Life does not have to be a series of trials and errors. If you or a friend has been stumbling through life in the hope of finally finding what works, seek professional help to discover your true self so that your time and energy may be directed towards what is truly best for you.

Photos:
“Cylindrical Enneagram”, Courtesy of Rob Fitzel, www.fitzel.ca, Used by Permission; “No Reason to Stop”, Courtesy of Lucas Marcomini, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Blossoms”, Courtesy of JR Korpa, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; 
“Chess”, Courtesy of Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash.com, CC0 License;

Your Personal Leadership Development Plan: How it Can Help

Great leaders have mastered goal setting as well as finding ways to unlock personal growth. When a leader is focused on developing themselves and others, it creates an environment where other people can follow the leader’s example and thrive. A healthy culture sets an expectation for progress, not perfection, which helps a team function from a place of well-being instead of fear.

Whether you lead employees, students or athletes, creating a culture of empowerment instead of micromanagement will significantly influence success and overall satisfaction. The people you are leading won’t respect you as much if you don’t practice what you preach.

If you reiterate the importance of personal growth and achievable goals, then you need to establish these yourself first. Your team will flourish under this style of leadership.

Your Personal Leadership Development Plan

A few key factors that contribute to a healthy culture are values, vision, aligned behaviors, humility, and established community. A leader should use these to develop a team culture. Let’s explore what these key factors look like.

Vision

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint. – Proverbs 29:18

Vision casting is a critical component to leading well. The vision includes a future-focused picture of what your organization wants to accomplish or what it wants to become. When the vision isn’t shared clearly, people go astray and become confused. When a solid foundation is lacking, people can easily divert from the vision.

Values

If values are nonexistent this creates a toxic workplace. Values are crucial for alignment among the team. They express the reason why the organization does the things it does. When values are absent, or not enforced, dysfunctional teams start to form.

Those dysfunctional teams end up ruining productivity and influence the culture negatively. If one of your core values is respect, but you find a member of your organization is constantly talking negatively about a coworker this will cause conflict.

An organization can easily become poisoned by weak values. Craft values that are positive pillars in your organization. Your team should understand the values and hold firm to them when conducting their work.

Aligned Behaviors

A leader’s talk must match his walk. If a leader shares the vision and values with his team but does not personally model these in everyday affairs, this can cripple the organization. It’s the leader’s responsibility to align his behaviors with the vision and values. If you have a powerful vision and excellent values, but don’t actively walk them out your company suffers. What is exemplified by leadership will manifest in the culture.

Instead of scattered energy, aligned behaviors creates focused energy and greater impact. When people see a leader living out the organization’s convictions, they are more motivated to imitate the leader and work toward achieving the vision.

Humility

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.Matthew 23:12

A servant leader is paramount to positive organizational health. When a leader possesses humility, he gives other people a chance to shine and grow into their gifts and talents. A prideful leader often instills fear in the people he leads and always wants what’s in his best interest. People tend to shrink and shrivel under prideful leadership and flourish under humble leadership.

Humbles leaders aren’t threatened by seeing other people rise up and take ownership. They empower and equip others to reach their full potential for the benefit of both the organization and the individual.

Established Community

Does your organization have an inviting, inclusive community or is it full of cliques that exclude certain people? People all want to belong and connect with others in a meaningful way. People are wired to need authentic relationships. An effective leader encourages constructive communication and genuine collaboration among teams.

When a team takes initiative to create a welcoming environment where people can be known through vulnerability, then this type of community becomes contagious. All five of the factors mentioned forms a team of trailblazers willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand.

Five Practices of an Exemplary Leader

In the book, The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, Kouzes and Posner share five practices that can be adopted in order to become an exemplary leader. The five practices include modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart.

1. Modeling the Way

Chances are you have a role model. This person you most likely look up to because they live out their values. When you model the way as a leader, you are clear about your personal values and your actions match your values. There isn’t a shred of hypocrisy in your character. This step always requires you to do some introspection in order to become an effective leader.

You must know your personal beliefs if you want them to guide your life. When you discover your genuine voice and principles, this will help give a voice to your team. People are diverse and have a variety of beliefs and values that might be different from your own.

By determining your beliefs and values, you can then discover shared values between you and your team. You must recognize and acknowledge different backgrounds and beliefs of your team if you want to lead them well.

Most importantly, you must practice what you profess. If your character is consistent this creates credibility. When credibility is present, trust is able to grow. Can your team trust your word? Are you the same person behind closed doors as you are in public view?

2. Inspiring a Shared Vision

When you inspire a shared vision, you are rallying your team around that vision to move forward cohesively. You all will be required to accomplish different tasks for the shared vision but will be moving in the same direction.

This shared vision should be others-focused and not leader-focused by bringing into consideration the capabilities and aspirations of the team. People are waiting to buy into a vision that’s inspirational and motivational.

Life is unpredictable and a leader must work to cast a solid foundation that people can grasp firmly. The vision should incorporate plans on how the team can work together using individual strengths to make a greater impact.

Sharing this vision is pivotal to inspire a team to stay focused on a common goal. If excitement is generated by the vision or goal, people become enthralled with seeing the work accomplished and seeking personal satisfaction.

Take the time to paint a picture of how the goal will benefit each individual team member. Show them ways they can take ownership of achieving the goal. Use your encouragement to build momentum and create a movement toward the future.

3. Challenging the Process

Complaceny and comfort is every leader’s worst enemy. When a leader challenges the process, he is seeking ways to improve himself or the vision. Leaders must take calculated risks that challenge the status quo. Every effective leader is someone who didn’t sit back and let life happen to him but looked for opportunities to blaze new trails or lay a fresh foundation.

Leaders encourage their team to push past their perceived limits and believe that growth is a neverending process. Some growth can only happen by stepping outside conventional wisdom and taking risks. You are responsbile for creating the change you want to see. Take initiative and sacrifice to make things happen.

A leader listens to feedback from his team, not matter their title or position. He is constantly looking for ways to improve processes that will benefit the team and the organization as a whole. Good communication is critical for a healthy environment where shared ideas are celebrated.

Don’t be so focused on the end goal, that you forget to celebrate the small wins along the way. Every step takes your team one step closer to the larger vision. Appreciate the value and contributions your team makes will shape the culture and their view of you as a leader. Even when mistakes happen, you can set the tone by reminding the team to fail fast and fail forward. It’s important to keep moving and not lose momentum on the journey.

4. Empowering Others to Act

An organization isn’t built with one man or woman. It’s a collective effort that requires the time and talents of multiple people. If you are in a traditional leadership role, recognize that your team is looking to you for validation and empowerment. Give them the green light to act on the vision. Reward them for their contributions in creating a collaborative environment.

A leader is tasked with building trustworthy relationships. If trust has eroded in an organization, the culture will suffer. You can repair trust by being considerate of team members’ needs and understanding relationships influence the ability to work and achieve successful results.

Creating a supportive and trustworthy culture is the key to making meaninful things happen. The team members should have mutual respect for each other that is also modeled for them by their leader.

A leader that can encourage others, make them feel valued, and boost confidence in their skills creates a place where people can truly thrive and make a difference. People become even more passionate about the vision and get to see that the impact they are making does not go unnoticed.

5. Encouraging the Heart

There are both life and death in the tongue. A leader can choose either to speak life into the team or use his words to deflate the team. Recognize that each member of your team has emotions, experiences and a life outside of the organization.

Rejoice during times of celebration and mourn during times of sorrow. Always choose people over profit. Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on if possible. Remind your team that they can push their limits and overcome any obstacles set in their path.

Take the time to notice when a team member has gone above and beyond the call of duty and recognize that person through notes, public praise or other forms of gratitude. Make sure you spend a day in their shoes. Are you a leader that rolls up his sleeves and can be counted on to be in the trenches too?

Leaders gain more respect this way. Showing a sense of pride in everything your team has accomplished demonstrates your belief in the team. Most importantly, an effective leader leads out of love for his people, the work they do, and the desired impact.

Life moves at the speed of relationships. Healthy relationships produce positive results in an organization. When the discussed practices are applied by a leader, an empowered community is created.

If you are a leader or considering a leadership position, start by developing yourself and your beliefs and then begin sharing those with your team. Becoming an effective leader is the best way to build a passionate and productive team.

Photos:
“Getting it Done,” courtesy of Cathryn Lavery, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Helping Hand”, Courtesy of Dane Deaner, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pray,” courtesy of Patrick Fore, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Communication”, Courtesy of Rawpixel, Unsplash.com, CC0 License