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Picture yourself going up stairs and chasing after a child without getting winded. These are some of the rewards of becoming a fit person. Allow these mental images to creep into your consciousness so that you can feel what it's like to be a regular exerciser. It's a little like practicing self-hypnosis. Letting yourself experience positive changes, if only through your imagination, can motivate you to strive to make those changes real. As you think about what the future will hold, see the life you want in front of you--then go out and make it a reality. Along with the negatives, don't censor yourself if some of the advantages to your current way of eating occur to you. In fact, take a few moments to think about that. Despite the heartache it's causing, you wouldn't be eating this way if there weren't some benefits. For instance, you enjoy the high you get from food. Or, after exhausting internal battles over food, such as trying to restrain yourself from opening a bag of chips, giving in is simply a big relief. Let's talk for a moment about trauma. If you were abused, traumatized, or neglected, you absorbed harsh and critical messages about what you should believe about yourself and about others. You might think, I can never trust anyone... I deserved what I got... Nothing happened that was all that harmful... It was my fault. How entrenched those beliefs are depends on many factors. In abusive homes, the spoken and unspoken rules can be horrific and highly manipulative. They are meant to control.

There's nothing rational about them. Perhaps you were labeled as "bad" by an angry parent and told, "Bad children don't get to eat." So you went hungry, even when you were trying to be "good." Sometimes the rules are meant to cause confusion, and they change randomly and without warning. One day, you were allowed to use the computer. The next you weren't, but the switch was never stated. Your punishment was severe if these ever-changing rules weren't followed, keeping you confused and frightened. And other rules are meant to conceal what is going on, whether abuse or neglect. No one spoke about Dad's drinking. And you somehow "knew" better than to ever talk about it. When there was no food in the fridge, but plenty of beer, you knew not to complain. On the continuum that runs from paranoia at one end to naivete at the other, I'm a good ways from paranoid, but I am absolutely a country mile from naive and accepting. Having been what I believe to have been emotionally and physically violated, I am committed to being self-reliant and self-protecting, and to never let it happen to me again. I refuse to be helpless. I don't give anybody "the benefit of the doubt." And I am fully aware that there is a direct, unbroken connection between that approach to life and what happened to me in grade school. Those two happenings are among my ten defining moments. Are they examples of positive or negative defining moments? I'm not sure; they just are. They were clearly negative experiences at the time, but I'm not at all sure that they weren't pretty good wake-up calls, as well. I know I wouldn't wish either moment on any child I know, but I think I did create value from them. I suppose opinions could differ on that, but still, they happened, they changed me, and that is for sure. Some of our defining moments are decidedly negative, while others are emphatically positive.

The positive moments powerfully affirm our authentic selves, inspiring us with an awareness of our own capabilities. They lift us up to a place from which we can see all kinds of possibilities for ourselves. We take from them the kind of emotional and spiritual energy that can sustain us for a lifetime. Space is the final frontier when it comes to receiving! By receiving, manifesting, I am referring to changing your mood to something better. Creating room to think leads to room to receive - and receive you will. Nature abhors a vacuum. (I immediately think of a line from the band Echo & the Bunnymen in King of Your Castle, which goes: "Nature abhors a vacuum, I have read. Tell me how'd you explain your empty head.") Vacuums get filled. We need to be careful and plan what we fill ours with. The problem encountered in therapy of dealing with one issue is only to have another fill the vacuum. Space between the opposing voices, feelings, and images we create by standing in one particular place. By taking a view from there. Might wearing a special hat put you in a good mood? Might singing or listening to a great podcast make your work or travel all the more light and breezy? Might you take the time to visit a farmers' market to connect with your community, starting your weekend right and filling the heart of your home with nourishing produce? Might you choose to stay in bed that little bit longer on a weekend, snuggling in with a book, your loved ones or your pets, just to nurture that very important part of you that needs quietness and tenderness? Might you take that moment longer to help someone else, to listen to them or offer them a helping hand? Practising kindness and generosity are powerful ways to keep our sparkles radiant. Might you enjoy a luscious walk in nature or find an accountability buddy to enliven your exercise routine?

When we actually enjoy the movement we choose to do rather than see it as a chore or, worse still, a form of punishment, we bring so much more joy to our minds and bodies. Might you actively declutter your diary, leaving breathing room for whims, downtime or adventure? Making time and space for spontaneity, freedom and pleasure are guaranteed sparkle fixes. Another key to motivation is the sense that you're capable, that you feel you can handle the task at hand--in this case, changing your eating habits. In question 4, you're listing ways that you've improved your eating before; in question 5, you're narrowing it down to what actually worked, at least for a while. "Worked" means that you not only improved the nutritional quality of your diet and/or decreased cravings for unhealthy foods, but also that the habits you developed were ones that you could live with over the long haul. So many times people say they just love this diet or that diet, but talk to them a few weeks later, and they've burned out on it. "I just couldn't keep eating all that salmon" or "Too much cooking was involved--I was exhausted." But when you find some healthy cereals that you like, or you start taking a short walk at the time of day that you used to have a doughnut--and enjoy the walk--these are the successful changes that you should focus on. What if nothing has ever worked when it comes to trying to overcome food addiction or eat a nutritious diet? Then shift to other accomplishments in your life: school- or job-related achievements, your ability to make and keep friendships, your parenting or leadership skills, or anything else you're proud of and know you're good at. Can any of those skills transfer to overcoming your diet issues? Keep in mind that if you were able to master other tasks, with the right mind-set, you can change your diet as well. If you have suffered abuse, I recommend that you work with a therapist who can help you process your beliefs and the emotions that are locked in those memories of abuse. Please recognize that this book's specific focus isn't on healing sexual, physical, or emotional trauma. Rather, its focus is on perfectionism. But we cannot delude ourselves into thinking that the two have little to link them. Quite the opposite. Unspoken rules can be found all over the place and can lead to a huge emotional reaction if they're challenged or broken. Mark's rules of what family "togetherness" looked like weren't tested until his eyes were opened by his wife's very different background. When you think about your capacity for remembering, you probably recognize that that ability is both a gift and a curse.

As humans, we are poor historians of facts, but we are superb in emotional history. Memory gives us the ability to travel back in time, but our ability to recall facts is far from accurate. By contrast, we reexperience the feelings connected with an event with extraordinary efficiency. For example, remember any Christmas in your life, and I will bet you that you not only remember the emotion you felt at that time, but that you also experience that same emotion now in the present! If you were extremely excited about getting a bicycle then, you'll get excited now. If Christmas morning came and there was no bicycle under the tree, you will feel the same disappointment now that you felt that morning. Like it or not, that's the way we work, and so it will be with the recollection of your defining moments. Your and my defining moments are the outlines of our lives. If we do not have even some awareness of them, we are blind to ourselves. When we don't know our defining moments, life becomes unpredictable, irrational, needlessly confusing. We wonder why we do the things we do and hope that tomorrow will be better for us. Although we may know that we've had a bunch of interesting events in our lives and memories of them emerge from time to time, those memories seem random to us, disconnected from each other and from anything going on in the present. Our attitude becomes, So what? Turn off phones, be still. No radio, no music other than that in nature's own control. Get to the sea or the mountains. Experience the elements as the astronaut needed to. Now I know, for many living in cities or maybe not having the finances that traders do that it is more difficult. Having families and commitments too. The traders would typically take two days off completely.