Live a Life of Intention

I’ve come to the realization that I’m not lazy or unmotivated but I’m unfocused because I have a lack of direction and an unclear vision. My current occupation (military) isn’t who I am. It’s not how I want to be known for or identified as. I want to help people – women – but with the lack of direction, I can’t even help myself. I have a lot of interests – and not enough hours in the day to delve into all the areas that I’m interested in. And, in true human fashion, because I’m overwhelmed, instead of breaking things down into more manageable chunks, I simply shut down and don’t do anything. This is now severely affecting my physical health, my mental well-being and my psyche. I’m becoming depressed and lethargic. I’m not sleeping well. I have no desire to participate in my interests because where do I focus my energy? What do I do?

Easier to do nothing, right?

Easier, yes… but feels a lot worse! And the longer you’re stuck in this state, the harder it is to make the necessary changes to get to a place that you’re thriving in. This seems to be where I’ve been stuck for the last couple of years. Yes, I had shit to sort out, but I’ve been wanting and trying to get back into the “happy place” for probably a year – or at least coming up to a year.

The thing you have to remember, no matter where you came from, what you’ve accomplished, you are not that person anymore. You’ve been through stuff, you’ve learned about yourself, your priorities have likely changed, and there is no way you can get back to your “glory days”. And, honestly? I don’t want to go back there because I know my mental health wasn’t good – I was dealing with addictions, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, etc. I know I can lose weight… the old way of micro managing and restricting but that’s no way to live and I refuse to go there again.

The most disappointing thing right now is that hubby has been away now for 6 ½ weeks and everything I’d been wanting to do and habits I wanted to establish, I haven’t done. I went to the gym for a couple weeks, I got sick, I’ve had migraines here and there. I’m realizing cooking for one person sucks and have had popcorn for dinner more than I care to admit. I’m more likely to throw on some distracting TV and play on my phone than I am to work on my courses or do my art.

Does this sound familiar? So how do you change so your life has more intention?

Figure out the most important thing on your dream board and work on it until it becomes a habit. A dream board is good to have so you have a picture as to what you want your future to look like, but if it’s too chaotic, the overarching message of the life you’re trying to create will get lost in the noise. For instance, if you want to have a million dollars in your bank account, that’s great, but how are you going to get it? You want to write a NY Times best seller, but you’ve never written a book, how do you expect that to happen? You have a picture of a woman in exceptional shape but you’re 50+ lbs overweight, what changes are you going to make to get there?

Life doesn’t happen by accident – it happens by intention.

Oh, that’s good! Isn’t it?

Most people aren’t lucky enough to fall into their “dream life”; most people have to work and fight for it and some never find or successfully create it. Some people lead exceptional lives while others only scrape up an adequate life. And the important thing to understand is that it’s alright! It’s alright to simply be content with a simple life. However, if you’re like me, I’m not entirely happy with a simple life. There’s things I want to do and places I want to see. I don’t want to sit back and let life happen – I want to go out and LIVE it!

So, in order to do that, what do I have to do first and foremost?

I need my health.

NOTHING matters if you don’t have your health and this goes for mental, physical and emotional health. All the money in the world won’t matter if you’re too unhealthy to enjoy it. So last night I put down some goals for my health. Short term, I need to pass my fit test because, I am a soldier first. In 6 months I want to run a 10K in the Army Run. And in 1 year, I want to compete in a Spartan race. So for this, especially initially, I need to work on my cardiovascular health and functional exercise. Additionally, I need to clean up my eating habits because I know what I eat directly affects how I feel.

Do you notice what I haven’t mentioned? My weight. Yes, I want to lose weight, but being healthy is more important that losing weight. Some people don’t like to admit that you CAN be healthy at a heavier weight – just as you can be unhealthy at a weight accepted by society. And at 222lbs, I am considered morbidly obese according to the BMI – which is bullshit anyhow, don’t get me started! The problem is, at this moment, at 222lbs, I’m NOT healthy. I get winded way too easily and have horrible stamina. I could get down to 200lbs and improve my cardiovascular health which would improve my resting heart rate and blood pressure. If I lose even more, I’ll have more health benefits and I’ll be able to do the things I want.

When I was younger, it was more important for me to be superficially fit – I looked fit, but I really wasn’t. When I was competing, I was in single digit body fat percentage (which isn’t healthy anyhow!) and I rocked a six-pack… but heaven forbid I ever have to run across the street or take the stairs instead of an escalator! When I competed, at the points where I looked my strongest and most fit, I was actually at my weakest. Why do you think bodybuilders pass out on stage? Yes, it’s easy to hold your breath when holding poses which can cause hypoxia, which results in a nap. And at that point of being on stage, most competitors are starved and dehydrated.

As I get older, I realize that life is no longer about looking a certain way, but being able to maintain my standard of living as I get older. Why do most older people end up in nursing homes? Because they can’t do a squat – which means they can’t get off the toilet. My mom had to call for an ambulance a few times because my dad had a bath and couldn’t get up – and my mom is only 4’11” (and shrinking is my joke!) and couldn’t assist him getting to his feet. As I get older, functional exercise is becoming more important to me than looking a certain way.

In order to get there, I have to live with intention because the only way my life will change is if I do.

So how do you start living your life with intention?

  • Make a list of all your goals that you want to achieve or make a vision board – or Pinterest board!
  • Decide which one is the most important to you and focus on it.
  • If you don’t know where to start, sometimes it’s easier to work from the finish back. For instance, you want to publish a book. Other than the obvious (actually writing the book) what do you need? A publisher. Do some research and figure out what the publisher requires before they’ll consider publishing. If it’s a literary agent, do some research for that. Or maybe self-publishing. When you’ve done the research, figure out how many pages would be a good number for a finished product. How soon do you want it finished? Figure out how many pages a week that would be and how many words that might entail. Then work for it.
  • If you want to “lose weight” – which is what I keep coming back to because it’s what’s most important to me and probably what most people struggle with – though I prefer making it about fitness and not weight. Remember – don’t get too focused on a number. If you’re competitive like me, try that as a way to get focused. Find something that interests you. I discovered that I really enjoy running so that’s what I’m focusing on. But I also love strength training so that’s why I’m interested in Spartan races – because it combines everything that’s important to me; strength, endurance, and functional training. BUT! Before I can jump into doing Spartan races, I need to build my endurance. In order to run a race, you need to be able to run! So I’m registered for the Mud Girl Race in July which is 5km and has fun and easy obstacles, and I’m planning on running the 10K Army Run in October time frame. This is working from the end result back – My end result is a Spartan Race but in order to do that, I need to get my endurance up. To get my endurance up, I need to improve my cardiovascular health. Because I’m competitive, I’m planning on doing some races along the way. 5km is short and easy enough, minimum training is required. 10km for me requires active training for months leading up to it and really pushes my cardiovascular health. During the training I expect I’ll lose weight because I have weight to lose. It’s lot like I’m 150 lbs wanting to weigh 130 lbs. I’m 220 lbs and want to weigh 175 lbs. This weight is healthy for me; I still have to work out and eat healthy but it also allows me to have treats and take breaks without repercussions which is exactly how I see my life – taking care of myself without obsession.
  • Once you establish the habit, add another as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the first. Biting off too much too soon isn’t good. When my “new year resolution” for 2019 was to floss my teeth every day, when the hygienist suggested a different tool, I didn’t stop the flossing, but I added – or am working on adding in the other tool in the morning. I didn’t want to jeopardize the flossing as it’s taken me this long to start it, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to establish a habit using the new tool and it was more important for me to floss every day than to worry about which tool I was using. Plus, if I did establish the habit with the new tool, then all the better!
  • Don’t stress if you feel that things are happening fast enough. Everything happens in time. Just keep at it.

There’s no right or wrong way to live your life. We do what we can with what we’ve been given. Just remember that life is short and you only get out of it what you put into it. If you don’t like where you are or where you’re heading, it is OKAY to start over. No matter what’s happened to you, it doesn’t define you. You can move in the direction of your dreams at any point – the decision is yours and yours alone. Don’t live for your parents. Don’t live for your spouse. Don’t live for likes on social media. In the end none of that matters.

You do you.

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