This past weekend, my wife Beth and I went for a morning walk near the beach. Notice I said “near the beach,” because we were not allowed to walk on the actual beach. Instead of walking on the beach, we could walk 20 yards away from the beach on the sidewalk. I know. That rule makes no common sense at all, but there we were, 10:00 in the morning, walking on the sidewalk with a plethora of other walkers and joggers and runners…oh my!
When I go walking, I wear neon orange trunks and no shirt. That is often the way I dress all weekend, too—and even sometimes at work! I also have my long hair, sideburns, goatee, and teal headband. In other words, I look like a Zebra at a horse show, which often turns a few heads my way. But that day was different. Way different.
As my wife and I walked along, totally groovin’ on the sunshine, fresh air, and ocean breeze, we noticed people we passed by going the opposite direction looked scared, kind of like a deer in the headlights of a fast-approaching Mack Truck. There was fear in their eyes as person after person went by looking straight ahead, afraid to look my way, afraid to say “hi” to everyone, afraid to say “good morning”, afraid to breathe air that was near anyone else. As for my wife and me, we were having the time of our lives on our walk saying “hi” with me also flashing my classic hang loose sign to everyone within my sight. But there weren’t many takers. Very few were smiling. Some looked like they felt hopeless. Some depressed. Some actually looked scared.
I have often heard when you put animals in cages it radically changes the way they behave. And that is where we are now. Except we are in the middle of a government-mandated lockdown, isolated from everyone except a few people we are close to. The media is no help. All they seem to paint is a very dark picture. Doom and gloom is their prediction. Fear drives up ratings. Ratings drive up advertising revenue. Advertising revenue pays the bills and makes the station very wealthy. Making money hand over fist makes the TV stations continue on with their narrative of doom and gloom. It’s funny what money does to people.
Everywhere I go and everyone I converse with via email or my phone tells me their stress level is high. Even if they don’t admit it, I can see it in their face, hear it in their voice, and can smell it in the words they write.
I fully admit we are in the middle of a very challenging time in the history of our nation. For the first time in my life, I am witnessing a major clampdown on our freedoms. We no longer can go to the beach. We no longer can go to a park. We no longer can have people over for a social gathering or party. I am happy to be vigilante and thoughtful of others who may be immune-compromised or already in ill health. But I am not a fan of confining healthy folks to isolation (especially in more rural and suburban communities), which I feel is taking a mental and physical toll that is as devastating as a contagious virus can be. Couple that with mandating that restaurants, bars, non-essential businesses, coffee shops, small stores, surf shops, nail salons, beauty parlors, and gyms shut their doors, driving zillions of folks to be out of work.
In the midst of all the viral fear that is being spread, we are also dealing with government decisions that are taking down the economy, an economy that was booming prior to this mandated lockdown. Millions are now wondering how they will pay their rent, their mortgage, keep the lights on in their home, and feed their families. In short, at this exact moment in time, Americans are at a crossroads. Kind of like that old Clash song, “Should I stay, or should I go?” Only in this case, the question is “Should I stay home, or should I go out.”
To beat stress before it beats you there must be a very clear understanding of the true nature and origin of stress.
When you think of the word stress, what do you think of? My online dictionary defines stress as:
1) a pressure or tension exerted on a material object
2) a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances
By the way, stress in your life is normal and natural. Without any stress, you would lay around like a slug, which would eventually be stressful, too! The stress I am talking about in this article is excessive and chronic stress. To sidestep excessive or chronic stress, it is critical that you understand stress completely. In the two definitions above, one type of stress is physical and the other is mental. Right now, with people isolated, out of work, and struggling to shop for food and toilet paper, most of the stress we are dealing with is MENTAL stress.
Let’s take the second definition apart for clarity. I am doing this because during most of my professional career, customers, seminar attendees, fans, and clients often blame stress for most of their problems. Why not blame everything on stress? Everyone else is telling you stress is the problem. I am here to tell you that stress usually IS the problem. But there is a catch to that statement. Stress may be the #1 problem you are facing right now, but stress is not something that was thrust upon you. Instead, most of the stress you are feeling right now is self-created and self-inflicted. In other words, life is life and how you mentally process what life throws at you either gives you sour lemons or sweet lemonade.
One day at my home here in North Palm Beach, I looked out the window and it was raining. I was thrilled to see it raining. I love rain. It makes the air smell clean and fresh. It keeps the grass green. It keeps the flowers blooming and it keeps my coconut palms producing plump coconuts. While I was looking out the window with a smile on my face, one of my daughters was looking out the window with a sad face. She was having friends over in a few hours and they had planned on a day of swimming and catching a few rays. Now they would be stuck inside which sounded like no fun. It was raining that morning. That is a fact. But how you looked at the rain affected how you thought, felt, and behaved. One thought process produced a smile, the other thought process produced a frown. In reality, the rain was neutral. In reality, it was just water drops falling from a cloud up above. It was neither bad nor good. How the experience was perceived made all the difference in the world. And this simple story totally applies to the any challenges you are facing in life, including the recent viral outbreak.
To beat stress for a lifetime, and be bulletproof to anything life shoots at our, you must understand that stress is mostly a mentally manifested affliction. You and only you can turn what life offers into something 1) harsh and horrendous, or 2) something beautiful and beneficial, or 3) something neutral. And how you react to life can make you feel uptight like your neck is in a noose, or it can make you feel relaxed, happy, and hangin’ loose. And the choice is yours, but only if you know the 5 secrets to beating stress.
Below are 5 Ways to Beat Stress Before It Beats You:
1. JUST THE FACTS MA’AM
Because your own mind, your own thoughts, and your own beliefs are pretty much behind most of the stress in your life, you must spend most of your waking hours in reality. By reality, I mean you need to be conscious, aware, and fully engaged in the present moment. What you think is not real, and it never has been. You can try your best to recall events in your life that happened yesterday, but if you try to tell someone about those events it never is the real event. It is only a memory, a reverberation, a slightly inaccurate memory of what happened in your life the previous day. If you watch a sunset, it is in real time. If you try to tell someone about that sunset, it is not real time. It is a memory, not the real deal.
When you watch the news, always know, it is not real. It is a recount of something that has already happened. Even live interviews are often about a person recalling a traumatic experience. It is not the real experience. Sometimes opinions are tossed into the mix to give the story a slant or a spin. Opinions further distances you from the real event because now you have someone else’s viewpoint into this memory blend that is skewing reality. Watching the news is not good or bad. Just know that what you are seeing, watching, and hearing is not exactly how it is or how it really happened. In fact, nothing is good or bad. Your own mind makes it seem good or bad. Again. Life is life. How you process daily experiences makes it SEEM good or bad. But that is all in your mind.
When you hear someone telling a story, know that it is not real. It, too, is just a recount of how that person recalled something. The same applies when you read a newspaper, read a book, read a magazine, watch a movie, watch a documentary, surf the internet, or wade through social media. It is not real time and never will be. The real time is in front of you. The real time is the flower that is blooming. The real time is that bird that is singing. The real time is your heart beating, or that tiny guiding voice inside of you that you hardly ever hear because you are not really listening.
Something magical happens when you “are here now” and know that everything you are seeing and hearing in that moment is real, and that everything else is just a memory or a dream. When you know and understand my simple principle of “Just the facts Ma’am,” you will instantly know that the stories you are hearing on the news, in magazines, on the internet, and on social media are not real and are just someone’s perception. Their opinion or recount of life is not good or bad. Instead, it is just not real and you should treat it that way and perhaps even question it.
Stop believing everything you see and hear that is coming from someone else’s mouth, text, social media post, or TV show, and you will quickly realize life is way different in real time. Move away from anyone spewing doom and gloom. Move toward those who are happy, peaceful, loving, kind, and caring. Wallow in the present moment and don’t let your mind trick you into believing anything outside of the peace that exudes from being here now.
When the BS is halted because you are no longer buying what the fear mongers are selling you, peace will show its beautiful face and you will see for the first time in your life that life is just life. What you make of it is your business. What others make of it is NOT your business.
2. EAT A STRESS-BUSTING DIET
Contrary to popular belief, your body is designed to burn fat as it’s primary fuel and carbs as a secondary fuel. This simple understanding of the fuel requirements of your body can change your life, your shape, and your health for the rest of your life.
In 1990, I created an eating program I called, The Fat Burning Diet. This unique diet plan was platformed on two key principles. The first principle was based on all the bodybuilding diet knowledge I had accumulated the previous 15 years of my life, and the second principle was about eating foods in a combination that allows your body to burn fat as its primary fuel. When you shift your body into a dominant fat-burning state of being, magical things can start to happen. The shift in gas tanks can make you feel strong mentally and physically because you have turned down the insulin tap.
Insulin is a hormone your body produces for a variety reasons, including which fuel your body will be able to use. If insulin is in check, by limiting your carbohydrate intake, your body can use fat as fuel. When high carbs are consumed, insulin release blocks your ability to burn fat until all that insulin has dissipated.
Below is a simple way to eat that will allow your body to burn fat efficiently. Keep in mind, weight loss and weight gain are both determined by the amount of calories you consume, not by eating high-carb, low-carb or middle-carb. Further note that my diet suggestions are NOT ketogenic (KETO) because you don’t have to cut out all your carbs to burn fat efficiently. You just need to reduce your carb intake if it is currently high.
Here is a simple and effective meal plan that can put you in a favorable mode to burn fat as your primary fuel and carbs as your secondary fuel.
1 cup coconut cream
1 cup water
1 scoop protein powder (I prefer Jay Robb Protein for obvious reasons, lol)
¼ cup oatmeal (uncooked rolled oats)
6 frozen strawberries
1-2 cups ice
Mix in a blender on high until creamy smooth, then enjoy! Add more water if you wish for a thinner consistency.
A salad with dressing along with ONE of the following:
1-2 meat and cheese sandwich
A salad with dressing along with ONE of the following:
Spaghetti and meatballs (light on the spaghetti)
1-2 slices pizza heavily topped with cheese and meat
1-2 meat and cheese sandwich (grilled is okay using a little butter)
3-6 ounce steak and baked potato (with butter)
Fish or chicken and rice (veggies okay too)
1-2 tacos of choice
Eat only when hungry. If you wish to gain weight, eat until you are full and then eat a little more at each meal. If you wish to lose weight, stop eating just before you are full. If you wish to maintain your weight, stop eating when you are full. Let your appetite be your guide. If it feels more natural to you, try skipping breakfast and have your protein shake for lunch, then eat the dinner I suggest. This two-meal-a-day plan is also beneficial for dissipating a condition called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) because it allows more time every day for you small intestine to clear itself of food residues and misplaced bacteria. SIBO is often at the root of systemic acidosis, which is a physical stressor of the human body that has been linked as a major cause of ill health and PANIC ATTACKS. A final tip while I am talking about SIBO, run and I mean RUN from fermented foods and probiotics. More about all this “inner stuff” in a later blog.
3. STOP THE BLAME GAME
In 1976, I read a book entitled, Your Erroneous Zones, by Dr. Wayne Dyer. That book changed my life forever because Dr. Dyer told me that I was responsible for everything that I feel, think, and experience in life and that I could not blame anyone else. I no longer could say, “She makes me mad.” Instead, I make myself mad. I could not say, “She makes me happy.” Instead, I make myself happy. I could not blame anyone else for my lack of money, lack of success, lack of happiness, or lack of material possession. I owned it all and my own mind was creating my circumstances in life, not someone else.
That realization was a total arrow through the head of this 23-year-old kid. It was the wakeup call I needed to start down a new path in my life, a path that allowed me to create my own destiny, my own prosperity, and my own life based on my own dreams—not what someone else believed about me and would try to convince me that I had to settle for. That book and the principles it taught was my get-out-of-jail FREE card. That new understanding set me free from being a puppet to anyone else. And that same understanding can set you free, too.
Stop blaming and complaining. Instead, create your own life by living the life of your dreams now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not after you retire. NOW.
I once knew a man who was a pharmacist. He owned his own drugstore that included a diner and soda fountain. He worked hard all his life. He invested his money in apartment units and real estate. He worked long hours and prospered for his efforts. At one time I lived in one of the apartment duplexes he owned and helped maintain his properties for him. One day he told me he was going to retire. He had worked hard all his life and saved his money. He was now ready to relax for the first time in his life. He had sacrificed his whole life and now he was ready to go play for a while. He told me he had booked a two-week cruise to Hawaii. I could see the excitement dancing in his eyes as he told me about his upcoming trip.
The day came for my friend to leave on his long-awaited cruise and I told him to go have the time of his life. “You deserve it,” I said to him with a smile on my face. The second day of the cruise my friend suffered a massive heart attack and died. I was in shock and deeply saddened. From this experience, I learned to live the life of my dreams now. Don’t wait. You never know when your number is up. Don’t live recklessly, but live each day as if it is your last.
At the onset of radically changing your life and going after your dreams, it may seem stressful to buck the system, tell people to talk to your hand and give the finger to anyone in the establishment that wants to hold you back. Over time, this shift in attitude will lift guilt and mental stress off your shoulders and make you hop out of bed every morning, ready to live another day of your dream!
You have already discovered in my article that “what you think is what you get.” It is that simple. Yes, most stress in your life is created in your own mind. An undisciplined mind is the culprit for depression, anxiety, and mental stress. And most of it is all imagined. Depression is often triggered by the memory and regret of something that happened in the past that you can’t let go of. Your mind keeps replaying this memory to the point you become chronically sad.
Anxiety can be triggered by the fear of the future (and compounded by SIBO and systemic acidosis). In your mind you see problems just around the corner and fear is manifested by your imagination. This can make your heart race and your blood pressure go up. It may alter your breathing patterns, making you breathe more frequently thus triggering a panic attack when your brain becomes starved for oxygen and can no longer think clearly (which happens when you hyperventilate). Anxiety and depression both are key components of stress, and both are stimulated by your own imagination. But what would happen if your mind was not imagining anything. What would happen if you were not daydreaming about your past or your future? What if you were here right now, fully conscious, fully aware, peacefully lost in the present moment?
Meditation is a very misunderstood term, even though most people think they know what it means. When I use the term meditation, I am defining a state of being where your mind is not viewing memories or imagining the future. Your mind is not needed in meditation. Your mind is allowed to calm down when you sit quietly and relax your thinking. When thoughts end meditation begins. When meditation ends, thoughts begin. To be here now and live peacefully in the present moment, free of any excessive stress, meditation is required.
Meditation is not about sitting quietly in a special way, such as on the floor with your legs crossed. Meditation just means your mind is calm, and not moving, like a calm pool of water. You sit somewhere quiet to accomplish a still mind, but that is just the technique you are using to let the dust settle in your own mind. Settling your own thoughts is kind of like settling those little white flakes in a snow globe that float around when you shake up the globe. But when you place the snow globe on a table, within a minute or so, all those white flakes settle down to leave a clear picture. Imagine, all those white flakes floating around are your thoughts. And just like that snow globe, your mental stress vanishes when all your thoughts settle down so you have a clear view of life.
5. BE LOVING
Just like meditation, the word love is often misunderstood, probably because not many people have ever experienced true love, expressed true love, or been in true love. In mainstream America, love is defined three ways:
- an intense feeling of deep affection
- a great interest and pleasure in something
- a deep romantic and sexual attachment to someone
But none of the above really describe what love is. All three are tapdancing around love’s true meaning which is:
- a natural, selfless expression toward anyone or anything with no thought of the action itself or intent of receiving anything in return
Pseudo love is expressed routinely in America. A dude may think, “If I give my wife or girlfriend flowers and take her to dinner as an expression of love, she will show me her love (usually anticipated as having sex) in return for my gifts.” For you ladies, you may be thinking, “If I give my husband or boyfriend sexual pleasure, he will take care of me, protect me, and provide for me (and my kids if children are in the picture)”. Those are both examples of conditional love, not unconditional love. Unconditional love looks totally different.
When I speak of unconditional love, I am suggesting you be loving. Not a lover. Not giving love. Not receiving love. Instead, just be loving. Forget about you because “you” are the roadblock that separates you from pure love. Think about this for a moment. Trying the be kind, be giving, or be attentive are often selfish attempts at pleasing someone else so they will want to please you in return. Love is a pure expression with no shadow, no trace elements, no residue. It is a complete burning of yourself in the process of being loving. There is no give and take. There is no agenda. There is no expectation. There is just giving selflessly.
The more love you express, the less you think about yourself. When you can forget about your “self” you are free of the stress that comes along with being associated or attached to your physical body. When you are associated or attached to your physical body, you have problems trying to keep up your image. Love moves you away from YOU and toward others. Selfish becomes selfless. That feeling of always wanting more is replaced by the feeling of having more than you need. And when you have an abundance of love (or anything else), you can give it away freely. If you don’t feel loved, you have no means of sharing what you don’t feel you have. Be loving to feel loved. Not because you seek anything in return, but because love must be expressed, or it can never return on its own. In life, you get in return what you give out, as long as it is a pure expression. To sidestep stress, be loving.
Peace, love, and hang loose my friend!
The Bad Boy
MORE LIFE-CHANGING INFORMATION:
For more diet information, try my 21-Day Life Reset, read my book, The Fat Burning Diet, and continue reading my blogs and watching my educational videos.