©Arlene R. Taylor, PhD
We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path that has led to the present.
Tallie, Tina, and Trina pushed open the glass door and exploded into the gym. Locating their trainer Tallie asked, “Guess what? We wore name tags this time!”
The identical triplets shrugged off their coats and, sure enough, each wore a gold-colored name tag.
“What a relief,” said their trainer, chuckling. “I’d about given up trying to tell you three apart, especially when you dress alike and wear your hair in the same style. How did your parents know who was who and which was which?”
“We wore beaded name bracelets,” said Tina. “Dad initially suggested wrist tattoos, joking that with three girls there weren’t even any differing body parts to help tell one from the others. Our parents replaced the hospital name tags with beaded name bracelets—on both ankle and wrist in case one broke. Good thing we had short names!”
“We wanted to tell you we’re taking a trip to Peru. At last! It’s been on our bucket list for ages. We’ve always wanted to trek through Machu Picchu, and after two years of a Longevity Lifestyle, we’re finally healthy enough to go. It’s so exciting!”
“That is exciting news! I have a big bucket list, myself,” said their trainer. “And a trip to Machu Picchu is on that list.”
“You know, when I started this new longevity lifestyle, including weekly trips to the gym, I thought it would involve depriving myself of things I liked to eat. Now I realize that how much I weigh is less about food and more about what happens in my brain. I’m developing a growth mindset and practicing affirming, positive, can-do self-talk.”
Tina nodded. “I’ve been using the 20:80 Rule. Once I understood that only 20 percent of negative stress is related to the event and 80 percent is due to what I think about the event, my outlook changed. It’s a great stress-management strategy for me. I can do almost everything about the 80 percent because my brain creates my perceptions. It’s like reframing a painting and seeing how much better it looks.”
“I’ve been doing family-of-origin work and identifying the script I was handed at birth. It’s been helpful and more fun than I expected,” added Trina. “Talking with family members has definitely been worthwhile. I not only learned things that are helping me make healthier decisions, I actually feel closer now to some of them.”
Their trainer nodded. “Sir Winston Churchill once quipped, ‘The further backward you look, the further forward you can see.’ Everyone absorbs family patterns of behavior. In a sense, your ancestors are within you, in the form of cellular memories—from perhaps three or four generations back in your biological line. These memories can influence your choices, preferences, and behaviors. Nevertheless, while cellular memories can push you toward specific types of behaviors, you choose whether or not to act upon those urges.”
“Learning to identify when I am physiologically hungry versus thirsty or emotionally upset has been huge for me,” said Tallie. “Keeping a food journal helped me to identify my negative eating patterns and has assisted me in reducing my penchant for emotional eating. It wasn’t all that difficult to keep track for four days, either.” She smiled and added, “Mindset, you know.”
“I’ve been working with my brain about my sugar cravings,” said Trina. “The strategies you suggested have helped me pretty much eliminate them. I won’t go so far as to say it was easy, but I will say you were right: first and foremost it’s about mindset.”
“Think of cravings as your brain demanding a reward,” said their trainer, “something that made you feel better in the past. Acknowledge the craving and avoid thinking deprivation, which typically leads to bingeing. Instead, use positive self-talk, skillpower, and willpower to follow through on your healthier replacement behaviors. Let the principles of a Longevity Lifestyle settle into your brain. Turn the information you learn into knowledge, then practically and wisely apply it to identify, select, and maintain healthier options.”
“One thing that turned my life around,” said Tina, “was deciding to get enough sleep—and then actually doing it.” She laughed. “It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, once I made the decision.”
“Sleep can make more difference than many people realize,” their trainer agreed. “Each period of exhaustion is followed by a corresponding period of depression, which can challenge you at your weakest point and sabotage your success. Exhaustion is associated with decreased levels of serotonin and I believe we already discussed that sleep is independently linked with longevity. No surprise, the way you perceive your brain and body will impact the way you care for them. Some perceive that their brains and bodies are leased to them for use on this planet, and they care for them much as they would a leased high-end vehicle. Others picture their brain and body as a temple of inestimable value, viewing themselves as both caretaker and guardian. Those individuals will likely care for their leased humanity much differently than those who live for the moment with little thought for the future.”
“You mentioned the need to be flexible,” said Tallie, “especially when we travel—and we plan to travel as much as we can, for as long as we can.”
“In a wind storm, the flexible trees are often the ones that survive. When you can’t follow the program exactly as you have crafted it, figure out how to do part of it, even if in a slightly different style or manner. Hone your ability to brainstorm. Doing something is far better than doing nothing! There are endless ways to spin the bottle. In the final analysis, it is you and your brain working together that results in success. Others have done this. So can you.”
“I know,” said Tina. “It all starts in the brain. Mine!” The triplets laughed.
“We’ll check in with you when we're back from our trip,” said Trina. “Too bad you aren’t coming along. We’d have a blast!”
“I’m sure we would,” said their trainer, laughing. “You three are a blast yourselves, to say nothing of the destination. As I mentioned, Machu Picchu is on my bucket list. One of these times, it’ll happen. Meanwhile, I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your experiences.”
Tallie, Tina, and Trina high-fived each other and their trainer. “Any last words for us?” asked Tallie, as they stood by the office door ready to leave.
“Expect challenges. Everyone has some. Just do whatever you can to stay on track while you travel,” their trainer said smiling. “I’m proud of all three of you. In the words of Christopher Robin to Pooh, in Alan Alexander Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh: ‘You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.’”
And with smiles and waves, Tallie, Tina, and Trina were out the door, embarking on their Machu Picchu adventure.
“Bon voyage,” their trainer called in farewell. “Or, as they say in Peru, que tengas buen viaje!”