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Bring on the New!

By Michelle May, M.D.

Down dogAfter eight months of dealing with a right shoulder “project,” I am anticipating my MRI tomorrow with eagerness! (This is me and Rookie in “down dog” with my shoulder taped up last fall.)

It is my hope that the MRI will be normal so I can confidently restart my yoga practice with the intent to heal, and without fear of doing additional harm. If it is not normal, I am now ready to deal with that too.

In the meantime, I have tried everything short of surgery. And now, after great resistance, I have even switched my computer mouse to my left hand.

Before reading on, take a few moments to switch your mouse to your non-dominant hand. Try typing an email, starting a new document, and surfing the internet. What did you notice?

Mindless Habits

At first, I was frustrated by my awkward attempts to right click when a left click was needed and vice versa. I actually had to ask what the right and left mouse buttons do when I am using my right hand; it had become so habitual that I no longer had awareness. I even wrote a note to keep on my desk to refer to when I became frustrated.

My confused brain craved the familiar, mindless habits that previously made mousing effortless, despite the discomfort of the repetitive patterns.

I would try to use the mouse with my left hand for short periods of time, then give up, willing to risk further pain for convenience. I resisted my techy son’s suggestion to reverse the buttons, believing that it would be too time-consuming each time I wanted to switch hands.

Rediscovering Beginner’s Mind

Finally, realizing the futility and cost of sticking with the old, I chose to let go of the familiar and approach this task with openness. I was immediately rewarded with a gentle reminder about the power of beginner’s mind. At once, I become more aware, curious, and connected to what I was doing. As a result, my focus was sharper and my energy level higher.

I playfully experimented with my two options: simply switch hands, or switch hands and which button does what. I eventually decided that the shortest path to competence was to switch hands and reverse the mouse buttons (thanks techy son). (If you’re interested, on a PC it is Control Panel > Hardware > Mouse > Switch primary and secondary buttons). My brain is amazing me with its ability to convert right vs. left clicking to index vs. third finger clicking. It’s already beginning to feel less awkward and more natural.

Your New Beginning

The lovely lessons I’ve relearned through this process seem particularly relevant as we start a new year. In my work as CEO of Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Training (and hence my need to be on my computer so much!), my mission is to change the way people think about eating. Mindful eating requires us to let go of old restrictive eating concepts, and approach each eating experience with curiosity and openness. By allowing yourself to let go of what you know or think you know about managing your eating, you infuse your entire body, mind, and spirit with awareness and energy.

I encountered a lot of resistance in the beginning. Understandably, some people seemed to cling to their familiar, mindless, habitual eat-repent-repeat cycle despite the inevitable pain they knew it would cause. Fortunately, over the last fifteen years, more and more people (including many health professionals) are waking up to the possibility of a true new beginning.

Beginning Now…

Don’t make an old New Years Resolution! Mindfulness brings a freshness, a newness to eating, physical activity, and self-care.

  • Rather than approaching each meal as a caloric math problem to be solved, allow yourself to be curious about what you want and need to eat.
  • Instead of dutifully and mindlessly eating fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, mindfully savor fruits, vegetables, lean proteins…and whatever else you love – without the predictable guilt and penance required of restrictive dieting.
  • Rather than punishing exercise, rediscover the simple joy in moving your body.
  • As opposed to measuring your progress on a scale and postponing your life until you achieve some arbitrary goal, tune into the growing vitality and vibrancy of truly living in the body you have right now.
  • Instead of using food to soothe and distract yourself from life’s inevitable challenges, recognize your cravings as a sign that there is a need that you can meet with your expanding repertoire of self-care skills.

I hope that in this new year, you will approach both your mundane tasks and your major life decisions with beginner’s mind! If you are ready for a fresh approach to live the vibrant life you crave, check out these short videos to see what Am I Hungry? is all about!

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

2 Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I was browsing on Pinterest and saw a chart you made of asking questions when you realize you want to eat. It had you answer yes or no, then had arrows telling you what to do next. Unfortunately, I cannot find it again. Could you show me where to find it? (for personal use)
    Thanks!

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