The Rules

Rule #1- Forgive Yourself

Forgive yourself when you don’t meet your expectations in order to live a happy, healthy lifestyle

I spent so many years of my life “failing” at living a happy, healthy lifestyle because I thought I had to be perfect in order to be successful. This constant feeling of failure perpetuated the cycle of diet/fail/repeat, which is why the number one rule for living an I’mperfect Life is to “Forgive yourself when you don’t meet your expectations.”

Forgiveness is key

When we approach weight loss and lifestyle change, we tend to get caught up in the rules that diet-plans set forth for us; we think we need to perfectly execute those rules in order to be successful. Then the first time we make an impulsive decision to eat something we “shouldn’t” or we miss a workout, we believe that we’ve “messed up” (blew it, gave in, lost control, or fell off the wagon) leaving us to feel unsuccessful.

We let these ideas consume us and instead of forgiving ourselves, making sure that our next choice is one that does meet our expectations, we let this one impulsive decision negatively affect our next decision in a way that does not benefit us by saying things like, “I’ll just start over tomorrow!” (or next week, or next month, or…?)

Gave in and got a Snickers Bar from the vending machine even though you swore you wouldn’t?

So what?forgive yourself

Forgive yourself now and move on

Don’t waste time starting over tomorrow, on Sunday, on Monday, or you know, whenever the next “right” start-date comes around. Doing so will only prolong the process and delay achieving your goals.

The more we allow this to happen the more likely we are to end up feeling as though we failed, full of guilt, remorse, and shame, feeling helpless and hopeless, like we are broken and incapable of ever being truly happy, and healthy.  If you have ever felt this way, you are not alone. I lived there for a long, long time, it’s what ultimately got me to 328lbs.

Consistency is absolutely necessary in order to lose weight and create new, lifelong habits—habits that take a lot of practice, but that doesn’t mean perfection is required.

When we look at “diet” as pass or fail, we never actually make any progress and instead we waste valuable energy beating ourselves up, keeping ourselves from living the life we want to live.

By making forgiveness the first thing you do when you don’t meet your expectations, you bypass the feelings of guilt and shame, and begin the mind shift necessary to create true, lifelong health and happiness.

So next time you don’t meet your expectations, which will happen, because you’re only human, practice rule number one. Forgive yourself instantly and then move on. Don’t wait for tomorrow, or next week, or next month.

The rest of your life is today, no perfection necessary.

Follow all the rules for living a happy, healthy I’mperfect Life: The Rules


Rule #2 Enjoy Your Food

Eat food to nourish your body most of the time.

Eat food for pleasure some of the time.

Enjoy everything you eat all of the time, in order to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.

Enjoy Your Food

Rule number two for living a happy, healhty lifestyle is to eat food to nourish your body most of the time, eat food for pleasure some of the time, enjoy everything you eat all of the time.

I spent so many years trying to stick to diets of foods I didn’t enjoy as well as eating foods I thought I enjoyed but were actually making me feel awful– physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. Now that I practice rule number 2 for living a happy, healthy lifestyle, I am able to enjoy ALL of the food I eat, all of the time.

The body has five basic needs in order to survive, food being one of them. Food is not something to fear, food is necessary, and food should be enjoyed as part of your happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life lifestyle!

When we think about enjoying our food, we tend to think only about taste, but there’s more to enjoying food than just liking the way it affects our taste buds.

While part of enjoying the foods we eat should definitely include enjoying the way it tastes, another aspect of true enjoyment comes from how the foods we eat make us feel—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Enjoying food physically:

Food should taste good. Eating foods that don’t taste good just because they are “healthy” will only set you up for feelings of deprivation. Deprivation causes cravings, and often binge eating foods we’re trying to avoid in the first place—which can lead to feelings of failure.

If you don’t like peppers, don’t make yourself eat peppers. If you do like broccoli, eat broccoli. Don’t like fish, pork chops, kale or bananas? Don’t try to make yourself eat them just for the sake of eating them. Stick to the foods you actually like. (Don’t tell my husband I said any of this!)

Food should provide energy, allowing you to participate in life. Part of enjoying food physically, is to make sure that you’re eating foods that don’t leave you feeling bloated or lethargic.

Food should be eaten in a way that doesn’t make you feel sick, stuffed, or uncomfortable. Eating to the point of discomfort is not part of truly enjoying food. Push the food away when you are satisfied and walk away knowing you had a great meal.

Enjoying food mentally:

Eating food should provide a sense of pride in knowing that you made a decision to fuel your body– even when the foods are less nutrient-dense and are more for pure pleasure, like cheesecake! Do so mindfully, staying present, thoroughly enjoying every bite, knowing that you are in control. Eating mindlessly, scarfing it down while distracted, or hiding food out of shame, does not qualify as enjoying your food.

Enjoying food emotionally:

When food choices cause feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse we are not enjoying what we eat. Like I said above, eating cheesecake is totally fine, but part of eating it is doing so without guilt, shame, or remorse.

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Sometimes we make impulsive decisions to eat foods that we don’t actually enjoy whether it’s mindlessly, out of habit, or as an emotional response to a situation, but that doesn’t mean we should allow ourselves to feel guilty, shameful, or remorseful. In fact, there’s still time to enjoy that impulse by practicing rule number one for living a happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life…

Always forgive yourself when you don’t meet your expectations.

Although we live crazy busy hectic lives, try to do your best to make eating an experience whether you’re enjoying food with friends and family or enjoying food alone. Look at your food, smell it, taste it, and savor it, whether it’s a crispy salad, decadent piece of chocolate cake, a perfectly grilled chicken breast, a greasy slice of pizza or a handful of BBQ chips. When we take the time to experience the joy in the foods we eat, we have the potential to change our lives.

Follow all the rules for living a happy, healthy I’mperfect Life: The Rules


Rule #3 Exercise to Feel Good

Exercise Because It Feels Good as part of living a happy, healthy, lifestyle.

I used to hate exerciese. I dreaded it. It created a weird anxiety that prevented me from enjoying it. I could only see it as a chore rather than something that actually felt good. I didn’t understand that I needed to exercise to feel good– physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Exercise is something we should do because we want to do it, because when we do it, it allows us to feel good adn live our best, happy, healthy lifestyle.

Exercise is not a way to earn food.

Exercise is not a punishment for food.

Exercise is way to improve our overall health, to have a body that is capable of doing what we want to do, without limitations that are within our control.

Exercise should include the following:

  • Improving flexibility to avoid injury
  • Improving our cardiovascular system to oxygenate our bodies
  • Improving strength to be strong enough to do what we want
  • Improving endurance and stamina to participate in life’s activities without fear of being able to keep up

Exercise does have weight loss benefits as well, including building muscle mass, which allows us to metabolize (burn for energy) stored fat more efficiently, but viewing exercise simply as a weight loss task takes the joy out of the true benefits.

Exercising to look better is an added bonus, a byproduct of the effects of fitness, but should not be the sole motivation. Looking better will come in time, but feeling good will happen immediately.

Exercise to feel good

Find fitness activities that you actually LIKE doing. If going to the gym and walking on the treadmill is enjoyable, great! Do it! But if you hate it, find something else. Don’t be afraid to try new things—no one is good at something when they first start. And joining a class is a great way to meet people who are working towards the same healthy lifestyle goals as you. Sure it might be intimidating at first, but that’s okay. Getting outside of your comfort zone will stretch you in more ways than one.

You don’t have to be a runner to be fit. You don’t have to lift weights to be “toned.” All you have to do is move your body, elevate your heart rate, and challenge yourself to make progress—focusing on what feels good—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Remember: A body in motion stays in motion.

Follow all the rules for living a happy, healthy I’mperfect Life: The Rules


Rule #4 Make Yourself a Priority

Make Yourself a Priority

Rule number four for living a happy, healthy, lifestyle is to make yourself a priority. It may be hard to find the time to eat right, workout, and get enough rest, but in order to feel our best, physically, mentally, and emotionally, we must.

As a people pleaser, I find it hard to make myself a priority when it comes to living a happy, healthy liftestyle…especially now that I have a little one. It’s easy to allow myself to get distracted by taking care of others rather than taking care of myself. (That’s a whole other topic for another post!) But taking care of ourselves in order to take care of others is absolutely necessary.

Let’s Be Realistic

Although I’d like to tell you to make yourself the number one priority, I’m not going to try to convince you to do that…even though I want to– simply because, as the saying goes, “you can’t share from an empty cup.”

However, instead of using my time with you to press the issue of making yourself THE priority, I feel like I’ll be more effective if I just focus on helping you make you A priority.

Making yourself a priority does not make you selfish, it makes you important, which you are. You are important to your family and your friends…you are important to you.

Small Ways to Make it Happen

There are always going to be responsibilities and obligations in life that we cannot avoid, some of them we’ll do with joy and others with some reluctance, but it’s still possible to make yourself a priority.

  • Take your lunch break
  • Make time to eat breakfast in the morning
  • Go for a walk during your child’s soccer game
  • Enjoy a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate after the kids go to bed
  • Take an online course to learn a new skill or more about your favorite subject
  • Ask for help
  • Get a pedicure, or go hit some golf balls one afternoon
  • Find a hobby and do it, even if it’s in front of the TV while being near your husband
  • Find a gym with childcare and go, even if it’s just to sit in the hot tub and relax for 30 minutes
  • Make friends
  • Pick the restaurant sometimes
  • Be honest about your needs
  • Buy, eat, and prepare foods you enjoy, even if no one else in your family will eat them with you

make yourself a priority to live a happy, healthy lifestyle

Making yourself a priority isn’t just about self-love, though that is a HUGE and very important part of it, it’s also about setting an example for others. When we make ourselves a priority, others will make us a priority too, and which is good for them and for us.

When we respect our wants and needs as much as we respect others’ wants and needs, other will respect them too.

Plus, if you’ve got kids, making yourself a priority is best for them too! Now and in the future.

Follow all the rules for living a happy, healthy I’mperfect Life: The Rules


Rule #5 Get Plenty of Rest

Get Plenty of Rest

Did you know that rest is one of the five requirements the body needs in order to survive?  It’s true!

Rest not only gives our bodies time to recover, but it provides the opportunity for our brains to flush away toxins (a metabolic byproduct) that build up throughout the day.

Brain fog is legit, and the only way to fix it is to sleep.

When we’re tired our cognitive abilities are impaired as well as our judgement, making it harder to choose between foods and activities that benefit our health and those that have the potential to leave us feeling regret, remorse and shame.

If you’re having trouble sleeping it’s important to identify why and remedy it quickly.

People get caught in the tired, caffeinate, sleep like crap, repeat, cycle.

If you’re struggling to get enough sleep, can’t shut your brain off when you lie down, or don’t wake up feeling rested here are some things to consider…

  • Make going to bed a priority. Chose a time that allows you to be in bed for at least 7.5 hours. That means if you get up at 6am, you should be in bed by 10:30.
  • If you lie in bed at night wishing you could fall asleep but your brain won’t cooperate three things could be happening that should be addressed…
    1. Too much caffeine throughout the day, or too late in the day (part of that vicious cycle)
    2. Too much stress/anxiety
    3. Too much stimulation before bed

To remedy these…

  1. Cut way back on caffeine. The first few days will suck, but if caffeine is the issue, I promise you will sleep better, wake up rested and not need to consume it throughout the day in order to stay awake. The few days of hard will be worth it.
  2. Find ways to deal with the stress and anxiety during waking hours. Address the issues instead of letting them fester. Meditate. Practice deep breathing exercises. Make yourself a priority.
  3. Don’t watch stressful TV or movies, get worked up on social media, or fight with your spouse before bed. Create a wind-down ritual that involves a transition from life’s responsibilities, frustrations, and stressors, to a time of rest and relaxation. Have a glass of wine, take a hot bath or shower, read a fiction novel that isn’t going to get you hyped up. Avoid self-help and work-related reading material before bed.

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Consider a sleep test. Snoring isn’t just annoying to your partner, it can be a real health hazard, one that affects weight and life expectancy. If you toss and turn at night, have nightmares, wake up short of breath in the middle of the night, wake up tired, or with a dry mouth or sore throat—please, PLEASE get checked out. Sleep apnea is not something to take lightly.

A comfy bed and pillow that support your joins can make a huge difference too. Some people swear by melatonin, others (myself included) like magnesium—especially if you get leg cramp.

Whatever you do, make every effort to get plenty of rest. Your brain and your body will thank you!


Rule #6 Keep a Clean Environment

Keep a Clean Environment

Keeping a clean environment is more than just eating “clean food” when it comes to living a happy, healthy lifestyle. Keeping a clean environment means keeping your life– physically, mentally and emotionally, clean and free from clutter.

When my environment isn’t clean, neither is my diet. When all I see is clutter, I’m less likely to exercise. When my car is a mess, I can’t find my keys, or anything to wear, my whole day is harder and more stressful. I run late for appointments, feel annoyed with myself for not being able to “get it together” and it makes me want to retreat. If I was an emotional eater, it would probably make me want to eat, too! Can you relate?

This is why I created rule number 6 for living a happy, healthy lifestyle. Because keeping a clean environment means living a life that is free from unnecessary stress that we can control. Since there are plenty of other obstacles that we can’t control, it’s important to manage the ones we can.

What to keep clean in order to live a happy, healthy lifestyle…

Your Kitchen

Keeping your kitchen clean, fridge and cabinets included, is an important part of eating “clean.” Having a space you want to be in, where you prepare the food for the body you love, should not be discounted. Clean out your cabinets

  • Clean out your fridge
  • Make the stuff you WANT to eat, easily accessible.
  • Throw away stuff that you don’t like without guilt.
  • Keep counters/works-pace free of stuff, and keep your sink clear of dirty dishes.

Your Laundry

  • Keep your gym clothes clean.
  • Keep your closet clean
  • Get rid of stuff that doesn’t fit- too big, too small, too long or short.  Stuff that hangs weird, colors and patterns you don’t like. Stuff you tug at every time you wear it. Just get rid of it.

Keep Your Purse/Bag Clean

  • De-trash it so you can find what you’re looking for
  • Put your keys in a location where you can get to them easily…all the time
  • Compartmentalize to keep things organized by using small zipper pouches that contain like items
  • Keep your car clean

Clear out any garbage regularly

  • Leave your cup holder available for your water bottle
  • Run it through a $5.00 car wash so you won’t be embarrassed to be seen in it

Keep your friend list clean

  • Surround yourself with people who make you feel good
  • Communicate your needs effectively to maintain healthy relationships
  • Don’t make assumptions about others
  • Don’t make assumptions about what other might think of you

In order to live our best, happy, healthy lifestyle, we must maintain spaces in which we enjoy being; spaces where we feel a sense of ease rather than stressed and unable to see anything other than a long to-do list every time we walk in the room.

Keep a Clean Environment to live a happy, healthy lifestyle

Tackle it once and for all—even if that means doing it in bite-sized chunks, and then maintain it.

There are entire books written on just this ONE subject, because it’s THAT important!

Ask for help.

Hire someone if it’s in your budget.

Create systems for maintaining the stuff.

Don’t put it off any longer. You won’t regret it.

Follow all 12 Rules for Living a Happy, Healthy, I’mperfect Life Lifestyle!


Rule #7 Be Patient with Yourself

Be Patient with Yourself and Kind with Your Words

I can’t tell you how many times I beat myself up for eating the “wrong” foods or for not working out. Lying in bed at night feeling angry and sad that I had let another day go by of not living my best, happy, healthy lifestyle. Full of regret, remorse, guilt and shame. Convinced that I was broken and that I was never going to lose weight or live a happy, healthy life. Those days usually started off pretty good but I’d have a “slip up” and then beat myself up over it and let that turn into an inner monologue of defeat. Which is why I now believe in the importance of being patient with yourself and kind with your words,

We are so hard on ourselves. For whatever reason we expect perfection, or at least close to it, when it comes to who and what we are, as though somehow we are more capable of this than others.

We beat ourselves up, believing that we’re broken and need to be fixed, or worse, are incapable of repair.

We don’t trust ourselves. We don’t love our bodies. We don’t see our strengths, only our weaknesses, and we let all of this negative self-talk determine our self-worth. Worse, we let these feelings of inadequacy lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, perpetuating the downward spiral.

This may sound dramatic, and hopefully it’s not how you feel, at least not 100% of the time, but unless you are one of the VERY rare, exceptions, you have felt this way at some point.

These feelings, even if they aren’t this extreme, are completely normal, so please know that you are not alone. If you’re beating yourself up for beating yourself up, stop it.

Recognizing that we have weaknesses allows us to strive for improvement, but we must do it from a place of love and kindness, and with a great deal of patience.

Be Patient with Yourself and Kind with Your Words

Life is a Constant Evolution

Some people say life is a journey, not a destination, but I like to think of life as our constant evolution. Life doesn’t come with a map or a compass. Sure, we might have goals we’d like to achieve, and we should absolutely work towards them without ever giving up, but the truth is, we have no idea what lies ahead. This is why we must evolve by learning to adapt, rather than trying to stick to a route we think we must follow.

We are all entitled to health and happiness, but it starts with love and acceptance by letting go of perfection, being patient with yourself and kind with your words.

The next time you feel yourself getting sucked into that negative self-talk vortex, stop yourself and remind yourself of something you love about who you are then remind yourself that there’s no manual for life, so expecting perfection is completely absurd.

Everything we experience we are experiencing for the first time.

Just because you’re no longer a child doesn’t mean you’re not still learning and growing, you are. And every day is an opportunity to make mistakes, learn from them, and adapt (evolve) as necessary.

Be patient with yourself and kind with your words, make this your job, and do it.

Follow all the rules for living a happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life lifestyle: The Rules


Rule #8 Find Joy Where You Are and Get Excited About Where You're Going

Find Joy Where You Are and Get Excited About Where You’re Going

If you’re trying to lose weight and/or create true lifestyle change, you’re probably like I was…focused mostly on future results rather than enjoying the “right now.” Instead of finding joy where you are in the body you have, you resent it and feel pressure to change rather than feeling excited about where you’re going. I you’re doing it right, life is a constant evolution that requires constant learning and adapting as we go. This is why it is important to find joy where you are and to get excited about where you’re going.

We tend to consume ourselves with the future, worrying about things we may or may be able to control, and feeling bad about where we’re at, currently. We forget to find joy in the moment because we’re only looking forward to what lies ahead.

When it comes to living a happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life, it is crucial that we find joy where we are. Joy stems from love and appreciation and both of those things are required in order to nurture anything that needs it, including ourselves.

Things that bring us joy get the best attention. If you’re a gardener or a cat lover, a mother, a business owner, etc., you know this well. Caring for something that induces a sense of pride or affection is extremely rewarding and encourages us to want to do more and be better. Approaching our love for ourselves, creating change, and working towards living our best, happy, healthy lives, is no different.

In order to become whomever or whatever it is that you want to be; in order to evolve, make progress, and find peace, you must find joy right now and get excited about where you’re going.

You know how it feels to get a new car, or a new outfit, a new piece of jewelry…or whatever it is that is new and exciting, that brings you joy.

You want to care for it; you want to keep it clean, hung just right, or with you at all times so you can use it.  But over time, the car becomes just another vehicle, the outfit fades, and the jewelry becomes tarnish. We, particularly our bodies are often treated the same way. They become one more chore, or something we lose interest in…sometimes, something we loathe.

Find Joy Where you are to live a happy, healthy lifestyle

It’s hard to find joy in something we don’t love and it’s even harder to get excited about something with which we can’t foresee a future. But here’s the thing, we only get one body, ever, and it’s up to us to love and appreciate them for what they do every day—keep us alive! That in and of itself is worthy of joy!

If you’re reading this right now, be grateful for the body that is allowing you to do that. Take pride in knowing that the body you have right now is breathing, pumping blood to all of your organs, metabolizing the food you just ate into energy so you can continue to live.

Be joyful!

You and your body are worthy of life and are capable of living your best, happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life!

Be excited!

Your evolution is never ending and if you’re ready to move forward, you can and will get where you want to be.

Follow all the rules for living a happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life lifestyle: The Rules


Rule #9 Surround Yourself With Love

Surround Yourself with People You Love and Who Love You in Return

Love is one of those things we take for granted without notice. Many times we don’t even recognize it when it happens…or worse, doesn’t happen. We tend to get comfortable in our relationships, not even noticing if they are working for us anymore…or if we’re working for them.

I encourage you to take a moment and evaluate your relationships—

  • Do they bring your joy?
  • Do they cause unnecessary drama or stress?
  • Are they mutually supportive?
  • Do they encourage good habits, or enable the ones you’re trying to change?
  • Do you feel safe and secure and are you able to provide safety and security for others?

There are no right or wrong answers, but it’s important to recognize how your relationships affect you and to manage them accordingly.

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When we surround ourselves with people who love us and those we love in return, we are better equipped to handle all that life throws at us. And life can surely throw us some doozies!

A supportive network of family and friends are the ones you want to keep close. The ones who–

  • Bring you joy rather than trouble
  • Support you in your choices to live a happy healthy lifestyle
  • Provide you with encouragement and want to help rather than hinder
  • Allow you to feel a sense of safety rather than fear of shame

And they should be just as valuable to you as you are to them. Meaning, you must also give and provide what they need in return.

If you are struggling with relationships in your life, take control. Share your thoughts and feelings with honesty from a place of love, not defense. Communicate your needs without making assumptions that the other person should already know what those are and how to help. Know when to walk away—or at least hide the crap.

Everyone deserves to love and be loved. Everyone.

Follow all the rules for living a happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life lifestyle: The Rules


Rule #10 Always Do Your Best

Always Do Your Best, Remembering that Your Best will Change

This rule actually comes the book, The Four Agreements, in which the author reminds us that we should always do our best, remembering that our best will change from moment to moment, situation to situation.

This rule kind of wraps up all of the other rules because our best is all we can ever expect when it comes to anything in life—including following the 10 rules for living an I’mperfect Life.

Letting go of perfection is also recognizing that we need to lower our expectations of ourselves and others—even when we expect the best. Why? Because like it says above, our best is going to change!

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We can’t expect ourselves (or others) to perform or respond to anything consistently—forever.

If we are sick, stressed, distracted, hungry, tired, busy, happy, sad, angry, whatever…our best is going to vary.

We must be kind to ourselves, and give credit where credit is due without comparing ourselves to “last time” or “most of the time” or “other times” or…other people. We can only ever DO our best in any situation, so to expect anything else is expecting failure.

Life is a constant evolution full of peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows. We must remember that sometimes things (food choices, exercise habits, losing our temper, etc.) will be easier to manage than others. This is why our best is what should be expected based on the circumstances.

And here’s the kicker…sometimes you won’t actually do your best, and you’ll know it, but even then you must know that forgiveness is key. That’s when you go back to rule number one for living your best, happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life.

Follow all the rules for living a happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life lifestyle: The Rules