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July - Bamboo: A lesson in how to be firm and flexible

yiska Yiska Obadia, L.Ac. Wednesday, July 4th 2012.

Bamboo has taught us a way to be strong while being flexible with our day-to-day lives.  Bamboo is a superior building material and an amazing plant.  It can withstand compression and tension better than concrete or steel.  What makes this raw material so strong is its ability to bend under pressure.   This grass grows up to 6o meters high, however the skinny stalks are able to withstand strong winds; bamboo bends and moves with the wind.  Bamboo challenges one notion of strength that is, if it doesn't move, it doesn't break.  This grass teaches us if you don't bend, you break.  

We believe that applying this definition of strength to our commitments around eating and exercise can be invaluable.  'Strength' as a concept related to food, nutrition and weight-loss could include being bendable - and this flexibility may make the commitments you take on more sustainable and powerful in the long run.  Let us be clear, we are big proponents of structure when it comes to weight-loss.  We believe that finding a structure that works and sticking to it, no matter what, is a rewarding and effective approach to creating change.  That being said it is possible (and perhaps absolutely necessary if we were to think like structural engineers) to combine structure and flexibility successfully.

Sarah has adopted a system of keeping a daily commitment book.  Each morning she creates a food and exercise plan based on what the day has in store.  This plan provides the firm structure for the day, and that it changes slightly each day provides the flexibility to make it sustainable.   She also thinks ahead in terms of what the week will bring.  Is there a party or celebration where she may want dessert?  She has built flexibility into her structure.  


Consider these ideas for combining firmness and flexibility in your own personal commitments:

    * Think about today.  Think of creating a plan for the day, before the day begins.  Don't let the "wind" be your guide.  

    * Think about challenges before they arrive.  Birthday celebrations, happy hours with colleagues, coming home famished after a long day - all of these can be triggers for eating without a plan, and probably eating more than we want for ourselves.  Design a structure for yourself before entering into a scenario that could be a trigger (e.g. "I will enjoy 2 glasses of wine at happy hour", "I will pass on the birthday cake", "I will chew gum while making dinner so I don't pick while I cook", etc)

    * When you notice resisting structure, change it up.   Create a shift in the specifics of your commitment for a week and try applying a new structure (if you usually count calories or points, try instead making a set of promises that day, like "no wheat with lunch", "2 veggies with dinner," and let the rest be fluid).  

    * When it comes to physical activity - make a commitment, but be willing to be loose about the specifics.  Thought you were up for a spinning class tonight, but now you feel too tired?  Don't skip activity all together - just replace it with something that feels better; perhaps a long walk would give your body what it needs?