Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Kamiwaza: opportunities or boundaries?

Christmas cozy. It was a great holiday season, but feels good to be in the New Year...

Breakfast at The Standard Hotel after a night of Death & Co. cocktails and dinner at The Polo Bar.

Livy is a natural rockclimber! Love testing fitness elsewhere.

The indoor Farmer's Market in Morristown. What a surprise to see all of these vendors inside!

Love this sign!

Purple sweet potatoes!

A great healthy bow of wild salmon, grains, strawberries and herbs...this was before the holiday food madness...a little fresh respite.

Can't get enough of the greek yogurt lately. Fage 0% with cashew butter and a little bit of honey with some apple slices is a perfect snack.

Trader Joes on January 3rd. Time to get real with cooking and good food again!

It's that time of year when "New year, new you" slogans and "New Year's goals" are everywhere you turn. The impetus is on making a change NOW and that a better version of you is on the horizon as you kick off the new year.

Don't get me wrong, I like any chance there is to set a goal and kick off a new routine/ ritual and look for self improvement. However, the question is what are we improving on? Is it something lasting and truly instrumental in who we are as people or is it something temporary and fleeting.

There is nothing wrong with setting a goal such as getting leaner, losing weight, or getting to the gym x many times per week. These are all still health related and when attained should make progress in terms of our longevity and general well being. However, if they are not attached to a why or a bigger internal compass, they have a good chance of fizzling out by the time Valentine's Day chocolates are in front of us.

Recently my favorite SoulCycle instructor, Christina, presented a choice in class - see an opportunity or set a boundary. Essentially - you can say Yes or choose to say No. This stuck with me as I thought about goals and how far we are willing to reach. The notion of "Kamiwaza" defines this beautifully. On Seth Godin's blog he explains this concept which has no exact translation in English:

"The Japanese have a term for this, which is “kamiwaza.” “Kamiwaza” means god-like, with no wasted motion, with confidence, and yes, with hubris. And so, when we see a cheetah running through the jungle, we see kamiwaza, because the cheetah could not run any better, any more fluidly, any more perfectly. But when human beings set out to do it, we check ourselves. We hold ourselves back. We imagine that a platform is for other people, not for us, because we haven’t been picked. Oprah didn’t call. Howard Schultz didn’t put us in charge of this steering committee. It turns out that in this new fluid economy, waiting isn’t going to be a particularly productive plan."

 Essentially, don't set boundaries so low...see the sky as the limit for opportunities. And, what better time to implement that notion then when you are establishing New Year's goals...So here goes my attempt...

One of my goals, like every other year and many other people in our gym, is to focus on my nutrition to the extent that it is all encompassing. I may have set boundaries on that in the past with rules, strict guidelines and numbers on the scale. However, this year I want to connect that goal to something bigger - self improvement. Nutrition, health, quality of life are all paramount to how I live and what I preach. To limit my goal to only hitting numbers in My Fitness Pal would be a waste.

How do I make this about self improvement? Cooking meals at home for my family. Sourcing out local farmer's markets, farms, establishing a co-op for the gym are all extensions that involve a process and learning. Meeting numbers is fine but meeting them with quality food like fruits and veggies vs processed foods is even better. Losing a few pounds or percents of leanness is always a goal, however, finding ease with whatever the number is on the scale and not letting that reflect my self worth is the true goal for the year.

I'm sure the natural response to all of this is something like, 'no shit'. The 'how' is the crux of the matter. The answer to this is that there is not answer. The answer is, be honest with yourself. The simple fact of checking in with yourself is that it has to happen regularly and it has to be sincere. That honesty and work is the no-ceiling approach to take.

Perfection doesn't dictate the end state, rather awareness.

Part of the honesty and awareness is answering the question of how hard are you willing to work? Regarding nutrition and making improvements...are you willing to take the time to shop and plan in advance? Are you willing to try new foods, recipes and learn? Are you willing to take the time to weight/ measure and do some calculations? Are you willing to not complain about all that you are 'giving up' and instead focus on how you want to feel and what you are looking to accomplish?

For me, those aren't necessarily the hurdle...for me, I am willing to do the work, the cooking etc. Instead, my challenge in goals surrounding nutrition are the notion of having them lead to self improvement. I need to check in regularly on if I'm using weight loss and 'hitting' numbers as a crutch or am I really connecting with my bigger picture of health. I need to ask myself if I am sacrificing experiences with friends, family etc. for hitting my numbers? Am I keeping things in perspective? All of this is an interesting exercise as it leads to other goals I have such as patience, having FUN, expanding my experiences and exposure.

I am excited about saying yes to opportunities and not letting everything be a low ceiling and a boundary. The 'what if's' can wait. After all, it's about the process, not the end state. Apply that to any one of your goals and you will have success this year for sure. A New year, not a New you, the same you, and that's perfect.

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