At Mediterranean Living, we believe that Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle brings more balance and fulfillment. We also understand that life isn’t always perfect. We can live as abundantly as we are able, but there may be short-term and long-term limitations. However, let’s not allow these limitations to bring us to a dead stop when working on fitness, mindfulness and healthy eating goals. When we know we can’t create immediate change, we can work at finding acceptance in our current situation and chip away at our goals from there. Mindful acceptance does not mean settling into current conditions in a complacent way. It means accepting where you are, and strategizing how to move forward from there. We embrace the idea of using acceptance as an opportunity to establish future goals.
Finding acceptance is crucial for meeting life’s changes and challenges. We seek a state of acceptance when grieving a loss, when in physical pain and when life is plain topsy-turvy. We can start by accepting something incredibly positive: our minds are powerful and we can train our brains for acceptance. Believing in the power of the brain will allow that power to be unleashed.
Your brain can take full charge of your body in times of stress and challenge. I’ve certainly learned this lesson from running marathons and ultra-marathons. I know that certain challenges are likely for me in a long-distance road race, such as traveling pains and feet of lead. In my first few races, I was surprised and disappointed by these “uncontrollable” happenings in my body. Then, I learned to accept these temporary effects of long-distance running. Now I can mentally prepare in advance and ask my brain to remember that this is “normal” and I’m certainly not the only runner out there experiencing this. With improved physical strength, pain is less likely, but I’m prepared for it if it happens.
I am inspired by people who start from a place of acceptance to move beyond their difficult circumstances to great accomplishment. One such example is the couple Amanda Sullivan and Todd Love. Amanda was in a pedestrian car accident that, for a time, confined her to a wheelchair. Now she is a marathoner and a Spartan Race ambassador. It wasn’t just her body that willed her to endure daily grueling training to get where she is today. It was her mind. As she said in a Spartan post, “I realized that my body was broken, but my soul was intact.” Her partner, Marine Corporal Todd Love, is a triple amputee and an inspiring guy who jumps out of planes, does Spartan Races, skydives and apparently also wrestles alligators. Here is a story about Todd Love shared by Huffington Post.
There is another amazing story that is circulating the web about former military paratrooper, Arthur Boorman. His doctors said he would never walk unassisted again as a result of too many jumps and landings, and at first he accepted this as fact. Then he had a change of heart and mind and tracked down DDP Yoga a fitness program created by ex-pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page. When he initially reached out to DDP, he still didn’t fully believe he could create change, but with the motivation of his instructor he was able to envision a different life. Through many falls in practice, he never lost his dedication. He lost 140 pounds and now is able to walk and run without crutches. Here is the YouTube inspirational video about this transformation.
The mind/body connection is important for anyone who exercises. In fact, The New York Times recently posted about a study showing that being mindful when exercising can improve your positive associations about exercise. Read all about it here .
Acceptance is also key when tackling stressful states and situations. It’s important to remember that many people go through rough patches. This is especially helpful for people who are experiencing a loss, particularly a loss of a close relationship. Accepting the fact that you will not be in amazing emotional shape will allow you to become more relaxed and understanding of the various challenging emotions coursing through you. Recognizing these states as normal allows you to see that you will eventually pass through it, and into a better state of mind in the future. For anyone in a personal crisis or experiencing stressful times, I recommend Pema Chodron’s book, “When Things Fall Apart.” This meaningful and practical book is truly helpful in coming to a place of acceptance during bad times, and provides paths for improving on challenging situations.
For minor and temporary challenges, look to basic tools to mitigate your stress. Incredibly, there are many practices that take mere moments or minutes to decrease your stress. Simply breathing in and out slowly will quickly help you to become calmer and accepting of your current stressors. This allows you to use your brain to come up with solutions to your stressors. Simple self-hypnotherapy is an outstanding example of how you can engage your brain to help you quickly become calm in most situations. Check out Healthline’s recommendations for the top 18 anti-stress and anti-anxiety apps on the market. A regular meditation practice is the best way to be able to consistently connect your mind to your heart and body to decrease your levels of stress and anxiety.
Mindful acceptance is also important in addressing diet. It’s important to have a positive relationship with food. First understand where you can grow in your relationship to food to better strategize a healthy eating lifestyle. Know where you might be challenged and spring up some ideas of how you can handle those obstacles. Being able to see where you are at allows you to take that next step of creating personal goals. Just noticing one particular challenge can go a long way in pushing you in the right direction.
It’s also important to accept the environmental challenges to a healthy diet. There are a lot of unhealthy options available that can take you down if you aren’t careful. Recognizing that there is a landscape of bad choices out there will help you. In the book “Savor,” the authors coined the term “obesigenic” which describes a level of toxicity in our food environment- from our food system design, to how our food is manufactured, to what foods are mostly available. The knowledge of these challenges gives you the power to change your behaviors to pull you to better options for your own health. Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is one good example of how you can steer clear of tempting processed treats.
Acceptance is fundamental to being aware of all aspects of our health. Acceptance doesn’t have to be very active. It can simply be a recognition of where you are. Spend some time in that state of acceptance as a means to being present to yourself. It’s the Mediterranean Way.
When we scratch the wound and give in to our addictions we do not allow the wound to heal. But when we instead experience the raw quality of the itch or pain of the wound and do not scratch it, we actually allow the wound to heal.—Pema Chodron