Using my “inside voice”

Every year in July, I disconnect. If not completely, then pretty darn close. With limited cell service and no cable, satellite, or even a TV to play it on in Tom’s rustic cabin in the mountains, my daily Facebook posts, tweets, and blogging slow down to an almost imperceptible crawl. Emails and voice mails are answered within the week, instead of hours. And routine check-in calls to my close friends… well, they just don’t happen at all.  It’s good and I love it, but it does make the transition back into normal life feel a bit like being thrown from the delicate cycle on the washing machine directly into the spin cycle for rugs.

And while I view the disconnect as largely good for me, some years I have taken it too far, disconnecting from the voices of the media, my business, and 1000 + Facebook “friends” and disconnecting from my own internal voice. The disconnect from outside voices might have been good for my psyche but disconnecting from my inside voice was definitely not good for my body.

“I’m on vacation” quickly became my anthem, justifying the override of what my internal voice was quietly cautioning me against. I ate and slept more than I needed almost every day and exercised less than my body needs. The result? Well, let’s just say it feels like someone’s moved the buttons on my jeans several inches as well as on a closet full of business suits. Ugg.

One year I returned home from that type of disconnecting, and one of the first check-in calls I made was to my good friend and Real Skinny rockstar, Mary Fox. As I shared many of the wonderful moments of our sweet month in the mountains, I also lamented my returning physical condition. As I talked about the temptation of a “crash diet” to somehow quickly reclaim my fitness, she reminded me of the value of reconnecting to my core for long-lasting results instead of a quick, painful, and ultimately temporary, fix. When I spoke of needing to get back to the “hard work” of staying fit, she reminded me of the value of reconnecting to what I loved to do (instead of what I have to do) in terms of movement and exercise. Things like a brisk morning walk in the canyon behind my house with my dog and great music on my I-Pod, riding my bike with Tom after work through our local wine country as the sun is setting, or a yoga class with my favorite instructor at the gym. Mmmmmm… now that made me want to put my tennis shoes on!

Mary’s philosophy about health and fitness is that restrictive diets and rigid exercise routines we don’t enjoy actually disempower us by making us believe that we can’t regulate ourselves without massive intervention and pain when in fact, we can. Instead of denying ourselves things we enjoy, she teaches how to connect to your internal voice and regulate quantities, choices, and timing for ourselves.

Mary is also a believer, as I am, that while reaching your goals in any aspect of life does often require some hard work, that “hard work” shouldn’t be work we absolutely hate and that feels heavy and draining. If you are connected to your core, your internal voice, you’ll recognize hard work you are actually enjoying and hard work you don’t. That’s your unique, individual, and infallible guidance system doing what it’s supposed to do.

The best example I’ve had recently of this is the sense of relief I felt when, after struggling for a month to finish a new audio product, I decided to ditch it completely. It sounded like a good idea but felt heavy and hard from the beginning to me. That experience is contrasted with a more recent one where I showed up at a hotel suite in San Diego last month and literally breezed through 8 hours of live video recording of a Lioness Principle Transformational Training DVD. It’s a subject I am incredibly passionate about: helping trainers, speakers, educators, employers, and office managers learn ways to train, teach and inspire their people while having a blast themselves and getting massively better retention of their important material. I was in the zone and it just flowed. I prepped for a day before, got up early, worked hard all day but … It felt light and fun.  And it turned out to be phenomenal!

Hard work doesn’t have to be hard. It can and should be something you are enjoying. If it’s not, pay attention. We can look forward to the hard work of staying fit, making a living, learning a new skill, and even making smart food choices. You’re so much more likely to stick with it and build an overall happy life if you stay connected to your “inside voice” … that infallible wisdom of The Lioness.

“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
~ Marc Anthony