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Six Steps To Surviving Grief

Six Steps To Surviving Grief

When I started writing this a month ago, my keypad was so wet the “F” key stopped working. So I decided for the sake of my Dell, I’d revisit it at a later date.

It’s not easy to write about grief, especially when you’re deep in the belly of its awfulness. When you keep your grief holed up inside, it twists you out of shape and makes you a real pain to be around. But writing, talking, or clay making (whatever your chosen method of catharsis) does help.

Grief steamrolled its way into my life four months ago. My 96-year-old grandfather and the greatest man who’s ever lived decided to do the eternally “one”– leaving me disappointed (for him) that he missed a card from Betty Windsor, but mostly devastated.

Of course, at 96 I reckoned his game would be up soon. But still, much like a naïve child, I thought my hero would live forever. Having become accustomed now to not dialing his UK landline on a Sunday night, it’s time to share with others my six-step guide to surviving grief.

Step 1: Allow yourself to break

Allowing yourself to break is probably the hardest thing you will do because for most of us, it’s just not cool when we think others think we’re not coping.

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This contained culture of ours celebrates the rational, the unflinching, the tearless, leaving the rest of us (the other 99%) somehow ashamed of our emotions and way less likely to have a public meltdown.

At my grandfather’s funeral, I watched veterans stifle their sadness into old handkerchiefs because they didn’t want to be a bother.

Lucky for me, I was born into a harem of criers, with my sister and her chin wobble at the helm. So I knew in that moment, facing a befitting mahogany casket with my grandfather’s liberated soul soaring high above my head, it was safe to break.

Step 2: Choose chocolate over wine

A common reaction of most adults upon hearing bad news is to reach for a bottle. I’m no exception.

In the week following my grandfather’s death, I’d describe my resting state as “oiled.” I found that a nighttime glass (or three) of my good friend Shiraz temporarily smoothed the edge off grief, only for it to reform in the morning with a roughness that would floor me. Let’s face it — no one finds peace at the bottom of a glass.

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Where I did find peace was in chocolate.

I’m not saying “go forth and gorge your grief on 12 bars of Cadbury’s.” Show some restraint. But a nibble here and there in moments of vulnerability will do far less harm than a hangover.

Step 3: Tune out other’s shi%

This is also a tricky one, particularly if you’re naturally inclined to be a sounding board.

I pride myself on being available for people in times of strife — I’ve made a part-time career out of it. But when everything inside of you is struggling to make sense, you need to be your own patient.

Be honest with the serial complainers in your life. Tell them you’re just not strong enough (right now) to listen to their shi%. And, besides, that’s what hairdressers are paid for.

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Step 4: Buy stuff

In the last four months, I’ve impulse purchased a sofa, desk, chair, clothes, designer bags, weekends away, flights, an extravagant scratching post for a cat, and a 43 track album called So Country 2016.

Did I need any of this stuff? No.

Did it make me feel better at the time? Yes. Well, except the album — that must have been a particularly bad day.

Step 5: Exercise till you spew

I’m a massive advocate of exercise, partly because there’s an obese person in me just dying to get out, but generally because you can’t deny its positive impact on mood. So when my gym advertised a free personal training session with no need to commit, I decided to give it a go.

It helps that my instructor is a cross between Chris Hemsworth and John Snow, but there’s something therapeutic about pushing my body so hard that my lunch makes a comeback. I can tackle my demons with greater clarity, and my bum is beginning to look great in skinny jeans.

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Step 6: Let loved ones in

It’s a simple mandate, yet bewilderingly difficult to execute. Why? Because grief is something you don’t like to share, like dirty secrets or a large pizza when you’re hungry.

My wonderfully patient fiancé chipped away at my forcefield every day for a month. She’d hold my hand while I’d cry at any mention of old people and death on TV. She’d let me snipe and snap at her for no good reason. She’d consistently give me the largest serving of dessert. She’d pick me up from work and drive me to quiet places where I could avoid the crowds. And it was these subtle and tender actions that have helped me slowly heal.

If there’s one thing that these six steps have taught me and will hopefully teach you, it’s that when you lose someone you love, grief will take up residence in your life — and that’s OK. It’s there to be felt in all its horrible splendor.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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