We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act,
but a habit.
As I sit down to write this book, I am 41 years old, and I LOVE MY BODY. It took me forty years, but I love every single thing about my body and what it does for me. I feel healthier than I ever have in my entire life. Although my muscles and bones are twice as old as they were when I was just finishing high school over twenty years ago, I feel better now than I did then.
In high school I was on the synchronized swimming team, so I exercised rather vigorously for 3-4 hours a day. I drank lots of water and avoided caffeine like it was poison. I ate a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein because if I didn’t, I would get nasty charley-horses that interfered with my performance in the pool. Now, nearly 25 years later, my exercise routine is significantly less intense. I get up in the morning and do 20-30 minutes of gentle stretches, and I take a couple leisurely strolls with my dog each day. I drink coffee every morning, and yes, I even add the artificial flavored creamers everyone says are so unhealthy. I occasionally devour a burger and fries or indulge in overly decadent chocolate ganache desserts. Most people would say that my current habits are not nearly as healthy as those of my high school days, yet I look and feel healthier! In high school when my body was younger and supposedly more resilient, I went to the chiropractor every week for low back pain caused by a slight scoliosis and my awkward contortions for synchronized swimming. My belly ached if I ate anything that was on my swim team’s no-no list. And, at least once or twice a year I got the flu or some other bug. But now, over two decades later, I don’t even get the sniffles. The last time I saw a chiropractor was to get an x-ray to confirm that my scoliosis was in fact gone, and I had grown two inches after years of stretching and strengthening my spine. Because I learned how to be mindful of my body and how I use it, I now have absolutely no aches or pains beyond the occasional random bruise. In high school and for years afterwards, I worked harder to stay in shape. Now, I work smarter to use my body properly. I believe I am healthier and happier now, not because I work out and eat right, but because I am mindful about HOW I eat and exercise. It took me nearly my whole life, some forty years, to fall in love with my body. I honestly believe that I feel so good in my body now and am healthier now because I love my body. For most of my life I went through dozens of fitness and diet crazes. After my synchronized swimming days, I spent hours kicking and punching the air with Billy Blanks, feeling the burn with Denise Austin, and even laughing while sweating to the oldies with Richard Simmons. I lifted weights, ran on treadmills, and stepped in aerobics. I was vegetarian for six years, and eventually gave up dairy and went vegan. Heck, I even hired a personal raw chef for a short stint to be completely gluten-dairy-sugar-cooking free. What I discovered was that all the rules and restrictions around diet and exercise kept me looking at my body as if there were something wrong with it that needed to be fixed. I was constantly trying to burn calories, weighing the scales of what I ate with how much and how hard I exercised. In high school and for most of the twenty years after high school, I believed that WHAT I ate and HOW MUCH I exercised had a direct impact on how I felt. To a small degree, I still believe that now. But now I am not only older, but I am also wiser. After nearly thirty years of working out hard and being very strict in my diet, I discovered something about health and wellness that all the diet and exercise books don’t say. I discovered that HOW I eat has more impact on my body than WHAT I eat. In fact, being mindful while I eat helps me listen to my body tell me what it wants to nourish itself. At the same time, being mindful about how I use my body is more important to how it feels than how much I use it or how hard I work it. The MOZI Method was born from the mindfulness practices I applied to my life in eating and exercise and meditation.
The greatest thing about this methodology I discovered is that it works instantly. It doesn’t take years and years of building muscles, or hours and hours of stretching to increase flexibility. I can make myself feel not just good, but absolutely GREAT about my body RIGHT NOW. It took me most of my life, lots of pain and injuries, and just as much anatomy & physiology research to really marvel over the fabulous machine that is my human body. I have learned to appreciate it, treat it as the temple that it is, and use it like the vehicle that I depend upon to get me through these experiences of life. Now, I absolutely LOVE my body and all the miracles it does for me every single day. I created the MOZI Method not as a diet and exercise program to improve medical test results and physical performance over time, but as a feel good NOW program. The MOZI Method is a way to make you mindful and aware of your body and how you use it and how it works best. As a result, you feel good in your own skin right now. In this book I don’t claim to help you lose weight or lower your cholesterol or decrease your blood pressure or any other medical magic. You do need to be careful about what you eat and how much you exercise for those things to happen. However, maybe those things will be great side effects that come over time. I think that as you learn to be mindful about how you eat and exercise and start a simple meditation practice to listen to yourself, you will start to hear your body tell you what it wants to eat and how it wants to move. Then, just maybe, you will reach your body’s ideal weight and score better on the medical tests. What I do proclaim is that The MOZI Method will help you pay attention to yourself, look inside yourself, and remember who you are underneath the layers of skin, muscles, bones, tissues, and organs.
Through simple mindfulness exercise that only take a few moments each day, The MOZI Method will help you feel good in your body right now. Maybe, after these 30 days, you will start to fall in love with your body exactly as it is. ~Teri Leigh, Founder of the MOZI Method
INTRODUCTION The Mozi Method of Muchness
This book, 30 Days of MUCHNESS: A Mindfulness Program of Eating, Exercise, and Meditation asks you to make a commitment to yourself through simple, mindful, MOZI Method tasks in the areas of eating, exercise, and meditation every day for thirty days. When you commit to this 30 Days, you are making a commitment to yourself, your health, your wellness, and ultimately a deeper appreciation for your life. Commit yourself to change your habits, and remember how to be the healthiest, happiest, and best you can be!
MOZI The Great Dane – Your MUCHNESS Mentor
Who is Mozi?
Mozi is your Muchness Mentor. He is a Great Dane. He’s awkward and clumsy and moves as if he is too big for his already too big body. He bounces into new situations and shows people that it’s okay to be awkward and weird and out of the ordinary. He is big, and strong, and playful, and loving, and expressive, and alive. Sometimes he is loud, and floppy, and weird, and goofy. He may not be dainty, but he can still be gentle. He may not be perfect, but he can still be proud.
One day when I was desperate to come up with a name for this body-mind-spirit methodology I had developed, I went to sit with a tree in a park. I committed to sitting there under that tree until I came up with a name. Just a few minutes after I sat down, a giant Great Dane came bounding happily through the woods. He was clumsy and awkward, but also happy and playful. He sat next to me and gave me the sweetest kiss I’ve ever experienced from a dog. While I prepared myself for a face-full of sloppy dog slobber, he simply touched his oversized black nose to my cheek. “You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention.” ~Jon Kabat-Zin In that moment, I experienced what Jon Kabat-Zin defines as mindfulness, and what I now define as MUCHNESS. That awkward and clumsy Great Dane gave me a brief moment of wise and affectionate attention.
“MOZI, Come!” his owners called him back to them, and he bounded off happily around the corner and out of my sight. And I knew, MOZI was the name for my method. He embodied it perfectly.
What is Muchness?
Sitting there under the tree, basking in the afterglow of Mozi’s blessing of my life, I thought about my methodology as a way to fall in love with oneself and one’s body. Mozi seemed to love himself and his body. He certainly moved as if he felt good in his over-sized body. He used his body as a way to express his happiness in life. His happy bouncing and dancing through the woods seem to say, “This is a life of MUCHNESS!” Mozi, as a Great Dane, is a BIG dog. His big nose on my cheek and his big floppy ear in my hand made me remember a promise I had made myself once long ago, PLAY BIG. In his BIG-NESS, Mozi is playing big in MUCHNESS. He represents BIG ideas, BIG movements, BIG steps, BIG-NESS. To Mozi, BIG-NESS and MUCHNESS are the same. Mozi lives in MUCHNESS all the time, and he showed me that MUCHNESS is something I can feel and be whenever I want. In that moment, I recommitted to myself to play big in life, and Mozi gave his name to my methodology and also became my Muchness Mentor. MUCHNESS is the state of feeling and BEING GREAT and PLAYING BIG.
In adopting Mozi the Great Dane as a Muchness Mentor, I began to personify him and ask, “What would Mozi think?” Digging into my imagination, I couldn’t imagine that Mozi ever worries about what he eats, or how he moves, or what he is thinking. I figured that when he finds something to eat, he enjoys every single bite like it is the best thing he has ever tasted in his life. Instead of blaming the kinds of foods he eats, or how much of it he eats, he looks inside himself to find ways to feel good in his body the way it is. I imagined that Mozi believes that HOW he eats and HOW he treats his food is how his food will treat him. I thought that if Mozi loves his food, he is putting love into his food. Then he eats that food, and he eats the love he just put into his food. He nourishes himself with the love he puts into his food. Mozi also doesn’t believe that MUCHNESS needs to take a lot of time or effort. He finds it instantly. It doesn’t have to be hard. Muchness is easy. To live in your MUCHNESS is to really feel the epic awesomeness that lives inside you all the time.