Finding a Silver Lining in Times of Adversity

Finding a Silver Lining in Times of Adversity

Read time: 7 minute read

I’m kind of stating the obvious here by saying that these are trying times for many of us; things are going a little crazy out there, and there is contradictory, confusing and confronting information being spilled out of every media outlet in sight.

As much as I love to express my opinion on global issues, I like to stay in my lane when it comes to expressing them publicly unless they are directly related to something I know well, and practice often. Given the fact that I am in the health and wellness sphere, I will focus my attention on supporting you all in finding positivity, within crisis, as that is something I am particularly skilled at!

Finding silver linings to seemingly negative and hopeless situations is one of my favourite things to do, and something I have done hundreds (if not thousands) of times throughout my life whilst dealing with depression and anxiety growing up. It is really all about attitude, resilience, and where you choose to direct your attention.

When facing stress, or feeling blue, you need to do two things;  the first is to change your state, meaning, you need to snap your body out of whatever funky energy it is ‘sitting’ in. The second is to find a silver lining, something that brings positive opportunity to a negative situation, so you can move forward.

So in the spirit of contributing something to this weird and stressful time, I’ve compiled a few of my favourite ways to uncover that silver lining, change your perspective, and your physical state, so you can continue on thriving in times of stress.

 

PERSPECTIVE SHIFT

Perspective shifts are all about flipping a negative into a positive, moving from self-defeating mindset to a constructive one. It’s not an easy task, and sometimes you need to keep yourself accountable and snap out of victim mode in order to make it happen. It all depends on how ‘stuck’ you are.

STEP 1: Write down a list of all the benefits to your situation

You probably rolled your eyes when you read that. What positives!? In order to do this, you need to dig deep, as when you’re not in a good place these things don’t just jump to the surface. If you lost your job, did you actually like it? If you have no money, were you out of control with your spending? If you just went through a breakup, was that relationship really serving your highest good? Think outside the box a little and answer with honesty.

STEP 2: Write down a plan as to how you will make the most of the situation

A plan is where you take that benefitfrom the stressful situation that you uncovered in the previous point, and write down actionable steps to make something happen. This may be something like;

  • The problem might be; I lost my job, but I didn’t like it anyways. The actionable step might be; reflect on what I would actually want to do. Apply for jobs in a more desirable field. Seek out further education to bridge the gap between what I can do, and what I want to do.
  • The problem might be; I have no money, but I was overspending before. The actionable step might be; Make a budget; what can you afford, what do you need in your life, and what can go? When you do have money again, how are you going to hold onto it? What better way to reel in your spending when you actually have no money to spend anyways?

There is always a silver lining, you just need to look for it. Resilience comes along with stronger foundations after every ‘fall’, as when approached constructively, you climb out stronger than before.

STEP 3: Write down everything you have, that you are grateful for

Write a list and stick it on your fridge if you have to. When the coronavirus shutdown first occurred, I was pretty angry as gyms closed so now I am working from home, my income down, my business in limbo and to be honest I was feeling pretty apathetic for a day or two. Then a quote popped up in my feed, which I reposted, that put things way back into perspective;

“Ok, but honestly, how privileged are so many of us that during a global pandemic, we can just stay warm at home, reading, working, still being educated, creating, talking to our loved ones, with little worries and a fridge stocked with food?”

I have no idea who wrote the quote but what a reality check for us westerners who are complaining about lack of toilet paper and (these next two were me) closed gyms and the fact that it took me three hours and 4 grocery shops to find and purchase meat to fit my specific macro requirements??

Reality check. There is always something to be grateful for.

 

CHANGING YOUR PHYSICAL STATE

 Sometimes, this one needs to come before the first if you can’t seem to get past your negative thinking cycle, or victimhood. We’ve all been there, where we have a problem and are not even slightly open to solutions to those problems, whether being offered by friends, family, coworkers, psychologists, etc.

When you’re stuck, you need to do something to change your state before you go ahead trying to be grateful. And fun fact, you probably won’t want to change your state, because you don’t feel like it. Oftentimes, in order to surpass out limited selves, we have to do things we don’t feel like doing. So to change your state, here are some of my favourite suggestions;

Create a go-to playlist, with all those songs that light you up

I mean lights you up, from the inside. You know those songs you hear that bring you such joy and make you just want to dance around like a crazy person? I have a playlist of those; it’s called ‘Wake-up/Inspirational’. I put it on when I feel crappy and eventually, you get back to feeling good

Get out into nature

Nature changes your state, something to do with the negative ions and the sounds it makes. Whether your jam is the beach, rainforest, up on a hill somewhere, or the local lake, force yourself to get out there and sit still, in your fave place, until you change your state.

Express yourself through whichever means possible

Whether it be dancing around the house like a crazy person, singing at the top of your lungs, playing an instrument, drawing, reading, writing, do something that brings your soul to the surface. You don’t need to be skilled or talented at it, you just need an outlet. Having a go-to outlet is an easy way to change your state. Mine is singing, as I find it relaxing, or I have tribal music that I love to play loudly while dancing around in the lounge room. Weird, I know.

Meditate

If you know how, this is a good one. Breathing, mindfulness, sound mediation, or walking meditation are all ways of changing your state and bringing about inner stillness.

Exercise

Physical movement is crucial for releasing stored energy and reinvigorating your body. Whether for you this is running, walking, cycling, going to the gym, and whether or not you feel like doing it, just get it done. This will change your state.

So there you have it, I hope you find these suggestions useful! Once you change your state, you can return back to your original task of finding a silver lining to your challenging situation. There is one there, always, you just need to dig down a little deeper, and find it.

Note that I have steered away from focusing on more obvious things such as eating a healthful diet, getting plenty of sleep, avoiding the narratives of the mainstream media, though it is my belief that these things are crucial for physical and emotional resilience as well.

Happy digging!

Jen x

Body Image & Weight Loss – Does Losing Weight Make You Happy?

Body Image & Weight Loss – Does Losing Weight Make You Happy?

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Fat lossRead time: 8 minute read

I have been a Personal Trainer for 17 years, and full-time for at least 10. I have always been obsessed with weight loss and body transformation. From the moment I spotted the first bit of fat on my body (around 12-13 years old), I became hooked on exercise, calorie counting, and beating myself up in the mirror. 

I was naturally ‘curvy’, meaning a bit soft and not very muscular. Being this shape in the 90’s meant not fitting into fashionable clothing brands, not being able to find bras and swimmers that fit, and finding that even the sportswear that did fit, made me look ‘chunky’. That’s what I thought anyways.  

There was also ZERO representation of averaged-sized women in the media. Remember, no internet in the 90’s 😉 

I bought into all the teen magazine hype and observed how ‘happy’ all the skinny girls in school seemed to be, and formed the belief that being skinnier would make me happier and that I would be treated more positively if I looked ‘better’. So I went about achieving the perfect ‘fitness body’. I was willing to do anything to achieve it, regardless of my overall health. I mean, health had no mention in the fitness world anyway; it was all about how you look. 

I did get pretty close to reaching my ‘perfect body’ but I did so at the expense of health. What came as a rude shock is, I still hated my body, even at 12% body fat. I just saw more flaws. I still felt like an imposter. I still felt not good enough

Body-image issues are rooted much deeper than outer appearance, and all women need to realise this. 

How much does our body image impact our lives in general? 

A study conducted by Dove including 13,000 participants, found that an astounding number of women and girls allow their body image issues to determine whether or not they participate in important life activities, and how they assert themselves or express their opinion to others. 

It also stated that most women of this mindset will consciously stop themselves from eating, whether or not their health is at risk. These are disturbing statistics, but I see this kind of behaviour in the women I coach on a daily basis. As you can see, I also felt this way myself. 

So this means that women aren’t reaching their full potential, when they’re constantly worrying about their bodies.

Are we actually happier when we are skinnier though? No, we are not. 

Who, or what, is to blame? 

We could certainly blame the media, who flood us with images of beautiful, unrealistic, heavily edited bodies. But that wont help us. Research into the topic, and deeper inquiry into my own issues lead me to understand that the problem is much deeper than ‘the media’. 

Generally speaking, when we feel unhappy or out of control, we tend to turn our attention to the ‘outside’ world. We try to mold ourselves to what we believe is socially acceptable. We attach our unhappiness to tangible things that we have conscious control over – more money, fancy car, a hot body, etc. 

We lose sight of what’s important and believe that by changing ourselves, we will somehow become happier, or more worthy. We forget that it’s who we are that counts the most. 

When we are happy with how we look, the rest of the world mirrors back to us that exact same feeling. People love you, when you love you. 

Being skinny will not make you happier, but being healthy will

By reaching a healthy weight (20-25% body-fat, or even up to 30% for some women), we are definitely closer to reaching our full potential due to increased energy, health, lowered inflammation, improved sleep, and the greater overall emotional wellbeing that accompanies hormone balance. 

Achieving a healthy weight also requires us to develop a healthy relationship with food, which is never a bad thing. 

What can I do to start healing my relationship with my body?

Firstly, stop looking at all these perfect women and wishing you could be just like them. Unfollow anyone that triggers you to feel low self-worth. Assuming they’re the picture of health and happiness can be detrimental, as you really don’t know what these people do behind closed doors. You can’t actually know if they’re a true inspiration to you, or if they are being honest. 

Switch your focus from calorie restriction and crash dieting (and beating yourself up) and focus on improving your health and vitality. Work out how many calories you need to eat for optimal health and start re-fuelling. You body composition will change all by itself if once you start nourishing it. I get all of my clients to increase calories and nourish their bodies before focusing on weight loss goals. 

Start looking within. Try to remember when it all started. Was it in school, or after carrying your first child? Was it something your mother always worried about? Once you identify where it started, you have better awareness and conscious awareness is the first piece of the puzzle when it comes to healing. 

For me personally, when I started attacking my body I was already experiencing some depression and anxiety. I had very low self-esteem. I kind of just decided it was my body because it looked different to other girls’ bodies, and I fixated on it. Additionally, my mum always hated her body, and complained about being ‘fat’. In a way, making my body look good was my way of proving I was high value to the world around me. 

How I coach women now

I still coach body transformation, even after this journey. I love it still and love working with women to optimize their health and body composition. I see it as kind of art form, a fun project you can work on and that you can carry around with you everywhere you go. 

What I have changed though, is my approach. I replaced the all-or-nothing, get-the-best-body-in-the-shortest-amount-of-time-possible approach, with one that focuses on reaching goals in a healthy way – adequate calories, no overtraining, and with a positive view of self. Almost always with my clients, some work has to be done here in the beginning stages, but the end result is that we build bodies they love and in a healthy way. 

It is unfortunate that we live in a world that values appearance over health, but it is pretty inescapable, especially with the addition of social media. Rather than getting angry about, it, or feeling victimised by it, we need to find our space within it to heal and nourish ourselves, so that when we see these ‘perfect’ women, we still feel great about our amazing selves! 

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Fat loss

Jen x

 

 

 

 

 

Transformation is yours for the taking. 

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