I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. ~ Oriah
I MUST BE A MERMAID . . . I HAVE NO FEAR OF DEPTHS AND A GREAT FEAR OF SHALLOW LIVING
Today I want to give thanks. I’m grateful for all the people in my life. Even the ones who annoy me (ha ha). I’m grateful for those who share a little of themselves with me, be it a tale of an amazing trip recently had, a heartbreaking loss or a delicious little book they just read. I realize now you are all my biggest teachers. I’m grateful for the lovely spring rain today. The air smells different, like it knows this is it. Spring has sprung. I’m grateful for puffy, white clouds that sporadically change shapes. I’m grateful for pigeons perched on iron crosses like sentinels of Lexington Avenue. I’m grateful for little, independent books stores that I have to go in and special order books and be forced to exercise a little patience in getting my prized possession, as opposed to ordering from Amazon and getting it one day earlier than promised or going to giganormous Barnes & Noble and when I don’t find what I’m looking for I always have 5 gazillion other options to choose from (sometimes too many options is just not good). I’m grateful for all the hard lessons learned and to be learned. I’m grateful for the bitter pills I’ve often had to swallow. I see now they made me strong, resilient. I’m not the roll over and die kinda gal. I’m grateful I always maintained an optimistic point of view and although the glass has often seemed less than 1/2 full, it was more often than not more than I needed at the time. I’m grateful for a mind that won’t quit and a body that seems like its going to quit, but doesn’t. I’m grateful for all the mysteries still left out there for me to learn. I’m even grateful for the ones I know I never will quite figure out.
I wrote this back in March. I saved it as a draft while I was still at my 9-5 to be revised and finished when I had more time and energy. I was hoping for a couple of days. Today, almost three months later, I found it when I was finally ready to start writing again. I had written another article for today but I decided to post this one instead.
My life has dramatically changed since then. It’s strange to find yourself with an almost endless amount of time and yet, it is not endless. Hard to believe I still struggle to fit everything I love to do into my life. The difference is, the choice is now mine (then again, it always was, wasn’t it?). I choose how I spend my time. I choose whether I’m taking a yoga, art or writing class. I choose if today I’m doing housework, running errands, taking care of paperwork. For soooo long my time was dominated by a job and the unreliable commute to get there and back. I remember one day the trains were delayed 2 1/2 hours because of a derailment. 2 1/2 hours after being at work for over 8 hours, then food shopping and not to mention being up before 5:00am so I could fit in all the things I wanted/needed to do (workout, meditate, take the dogs out, make a healthy breakfast & lunch to take to work, reading and/or writing, etc). I now wonder how I did ANY of the things I enjoyed? Actually, I do know. I did everything half-assed and stressed out and tired and more often than not, the stuff I enjoy doing the most was pushed over to the side more and more each day until eventually I was barely doing any of the things I loved doing and I was resentful of everything and anyone that took me away from those things. I was becoming angry and bitter.
Today, June 11, I am more grateful than ever. I am grateful for being given this opportunity to clearly see what’s important to me and to learn how I wish to spend every day. I have the time now to really narrow down my priorities. When our time and energy is limited, sometimes the lines between what we need and what we want become very blurry and usually the most important things tend to suffer first and the most (our health – poor diets, little/no exercise + sedentary work life and little/not enough rest; our relationships and if we are really honest, our overall productivity, especially at work).
One of my baby brothers that I haven’t seen in over a year was recently here from Vegas. Although he’s been here before, we only spent brief moments together because I either didn’t have the time and/or energy to really spend time visiting with him and he was always here to visit his daughter, so both our times were somewhat limited. This time we actually got to spend some time together. I never would’ve been able to do that if I was still at my job. My brother will probably never know how precious that was for me. He’s my baby brother and to actually see and hear and witness how well he is doing . . . there’s no amount of Facebook, texting or Skype that can replace a face to face exchange between two beings.
Thank you for patiently reading this. Extra longwinded because … I like the sound of my own typing (ha ha). I leave you with this quote that I’m sure I’m fumbling up and I don’t remember who said but it’s a gem nonetheless:
Do more of what you love more often.
The saddest part of living such busy lives is that we often neglect the simplest, yet most beautiful things that when strung together – like precious jewels on a chain – are the poignant moments that make up a life worth looking back on.
Today, after my yoga practice, I lay back upon my mat and looked up at a beautiful, clear blue sky. The clouds seemed to be rushing across the sky (are they really moving? or is it us that’s moving? I never really looked into that …). The sun streaming through the windows warmed my skin and a sigh of pure contentment escaped from my lips. Life is good.
Once in a while, stop and appreciate what is going on around you. The feel of the rain upon your skin, the sound of a small child giggling, the first scent of your morning coffee as the steam rises to meet your nose and then that first sip . . . aaaahhhh . . . slow down. Appreciate. Enjoy. Saaaaabor the experience.
“Always focus on your effort, instead of the results of that effort.” ~ Russell Simmons
Photo from the Home Yoga Experience, Mahwah, New Jersey
“Money is a result, wealth is a result, health is a result, illness is a result, your weight is a result. We live in a world of cause and effect.” ~ T. Harv Eker
In our search for health and fitness I know its sometimes hard to discern fact from strategic marketing ploys, so I share this email I received from Whole Body Research (the distributors of the probiotics I use (when I do remember to take them)) in the hopes that it helps clear up some of the confusion out there.
Myth #1: If you’re not sore the next day, you didn’t do it right!
This is probably one of the single worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard.
When I was playing football in high school, my coach would love to scream out, “No pain, no gain boys!” And for the longest time, I believed him. Then I started looking at the science. Being sore and in pain after you exercise every day is simply not sustainable.
Myth #2: Load up on carbs the night before you work out.
The only time this fitness “tip” would be useful for your diet is if you were planning to run a marathon the next day.
Unless you’re going to physically exert yourself for at least 90 minutes straight, stuffing your face with pasta the night before a workout isn’t necessary. Instead, you’re loading up your body with starch, sugar, and fat – and you probably WON’T burn it all off the next day.
Myth #3: Running on the treadmill is better for your knees!
While your body does get some assistance for long-distance running, a treadmill doesn’t actually help protect your knees from impact…you’re still repeatedly dropping your entire body weight onto one knee with every step.
The best way to protect your knees is to switch up your routine. If you feel like jogging on a Monday, switch to a stationary bike the next time you exercise for a low-impact workout.
Myth #4: You JUST need to exercise to lose weight!
It’s simply not true. If you’re planning on turning that belly into a nice six-pack, you need to do more than just exercise.
What I tell my clients is this: if you’re only trying to maintain your current weight, do some moderate exercise regularly and continue to eat a healthy diet. But if you want to lose weight, you’ve really got to significantly modify your diet.
What you eat is crucial when you’re trying to drop those pounds. If you’re exercising regularly, you need to make sure you’re getting plenty of lean proteins: unsalted chicken breasts, white fish (such as tilapia), or 99% lean ground turkey.
More importantly, learn to listen to your body. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat again: no one formula works for everyone. Figure out what works for you. When working out and even stretching, learn the difference between pinching (not good) and tension; starving and weaning yourself off unhealthy choices. Weight loss and health is about swapping out the good with the bad: walking around the block instead of sitting in front of the tv with a bucket of fried chicken and biscuits, or having a homemade raspberry parfait sweetened with organic, good for you ingredients instead of a pint of Haggen Dazs Double Double Chocolate Monkey (I just made this flavor up lol so don’t go running to the market looking for it). You consistently make the right choices and eventually you will see the results of your choices.
It’s almost the end of February and many of our New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, if we haven’t altogether given up and discarded them. No need to fret. For many of us, one of our challenges has been to get in shape, probably before beach weather. If that’s the case, you still have at least 20-24 weeks before you can wear a bathing suit. But you have to start now. Even if your goals are more along the lines of saving a particular sum of money by years end, start a new business -whatever it is – you still have time to reach your goals before 2015 rolls around. Again, you have to start now. The more you procrastinate getting started, the likelier the chance that you will not reach your goal in time.
Part of the reason why we have trouble seeing our goals through is that we get overwhelmed with life. Long hours at work and/or commuting, family responsibilities, etc. This is why prioritizing and preparation are key when setting goals, and probably the determining factors in whether you succeed or fail. For example, at any given time I have 3 or4 different goals and/or habits I want to implement or change. Usually, it’s something regarding health/fitness, learning a new skill (a different language) and reducing my budget. One thing I’ve learned from all the books, videos, blogs and newsletters regarding setting/achieving goals is that it is best to work on one goal at time. Trying to achieve more than one goal at a time usually ends in frustration and ultimately failure. The idea is to make your list of the goals/changes/habits you want to implement. and prioritize them by importance. Or, you can list them as short term and long term goals. The short term goals should be part of the steps that lead to the long term goals.
For example, I may want to run a marathon by October, but if my nutrition is full of stuff that doesn’t serve me and my body, I will not lose weight and it will make my training for the marathon harder and slower. Most in the physical health industry now acknowledge that you can eat your way out of any workout routine. Diet is 80% of your weight loss equation. So, in order to be able to train smart for that marathon I have to optimize my diet. So diet would be a priority over physical exercise. If on any given day I have 3 goals I want to work on but I don’t have enough time to do all, then my diet and preparing for it (e.g., going to the market, preparing meals ahead of time for the rest of week) is my number one goal. Exercise would come in only if I have time after I complete my number one (nutrition).
I believe it is Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.com that coined the term “MITs.” Most Important Tasks. This is the method my friend and fellow yogi-criminial, Soraya Sarcos (http://mangotimeblog.com/) use and we are each other’s accountability buddies. Everyday we send each other a list of the day’s goals and the next day we list which tasks were completed, which ones were not and the new (or the same) goals for this new day.
You can achieve your goals but you have to be realistic. You usually can’t accomplish ALL of your goals at the same time. Pick the one that is most important to you, work on that, master it and when that one is accomplished, proceed to the next one on the list.
For more information on setting and achieving goals, please check out the following:
Steven Covey (First Things First)
Brian Johnson *entheos and Optimal Living 101 (Top Ten Tips on How to Take Consistent, Impeccable Action to Achieve Your Goals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW3VumY0PSY)
David Allen (Getting Things Done)
Last weekend I started a 10 series post on based on Pilar Gerosimo’s class “Refine Your Life” at *entheos Academy for Optimal Living. Here’s the link to that post in case you haven’t read it yet http://www.alotusgrowsinmud.com/?p=550
As promised and noted above, this is part 2. Point 2 of her 10 Big Ideas is “Starting Where You Are.” Essentially, you cant get anywhere or figure out how to do so unless you know what point you are starting out from. She asks a series of questions to help you evaluate this:
There are four phases of change:
All of these translate for me as follows: Let’s say my goal is to lose weight and be more healthy. The first step would be to find out where in my health am I? How much do I weight? How much do I need to lose to be healthy? How is my blood pressure? Are there any essential nutrients I’m not currently getting in my system (iron, protein, vitamins, etc)? Same thing goes for if you are trying to save money or go on a trip or buy a big ticket item. How much money do you currently have saved? How much money are you making? Can you make more? Where can you cut expenses? Set up a budget, etc.
I know a lot of us started out the new year with plans to make big changes in our lives. Some of us have already fallen off that wagon. You don’t have to wait for another year to start again. Every day is another chance to start again. So what you haven’t been to the gym since January 2nd and you can’t remember the last time you had a vegetable and/or a piece of fruit? Start again tomorrow. Tomorrow morning set your clock 20 minutes earlier. Do a 15 minute workout – 1 pushup, couple of jumping jacks, as many squats as your legs can take before the muscles give out. Pick up a piece of fruit on your way to work and have it as a mid-morning snack instead of that walnut honey bun from Dunkin Donuts. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator or escalator. No, you will not see results right away but these little changes are the catalyst you may need in order to catapult you into a much healthier lifestyle. The long term benefits come from taking one small step at a time. It’s just the way it works. Anything faster or easier will not last and may even cause more harm in the long run.
Next weekend I will post Part 3, Access Your Life.
We’ve all been guilty of it. Looking for the quick fix when it comes to getting in shape and/or losing weight. The 10 day this diet, the 20 day that exercise program. They all promise to whip you into shape and have you looking Victoria’s Secret model hot if you buy this book or that video. The caveat always is (and which they always fail to tell you) that it’s going to take preparation, consistency and discipline. They will almost always work, but you can’t continue eating a slice of carrot cake a day and workout once every 10 days for a 20 minute half-hearted workout. It doesn’t work like that. And it shouldn’t. Our bodies are programmed to move. Not so long ago we had to hunt and gather if we wanted to eat. There was no 1/2 a side of beef just hanging from a tree branch waiting for you to show up with the A1 sauce and a fork. If you wanted to eat you had to hike to wherever the food was and if it was meat, you had to track it for days, finally kill it and somehow carry it back to camp without having to defend your catch from another hungry predator, and then you had to share it with the whole tribe.
There has been a lot of advances in science when it comes to diet and exercise. It’s not just about being thin (if you are a woman) and brawny (if you are a man). It’s about optimal physical health so we can be in the best physical shape as long as possible being able to do everything we want to (dance, hike, run, swim, skydive). It’s about flexibility, strength and endurance. And its about your diet, how much you move your body, your hormones, your body’s predispositions (ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph). And its definitely NOT once size fits all when it comes to diet and exercise.
Especially today when most of us are under tremendous stress, and have very little time and even less inclination for complicated diets and exercise regiments, and when the weather becomes an issue and gyms are just not your thing, home workouts are usually a perfect solution. No driving to the gym, lugging your workout clothes with you, waiting for a machine to become free. That’s why I loved this interview of Toni Horton (creator of P90X) by Jonathan Bailor (author of “The Calorie Myth”). I urge you to listen to the actual interview here http://thebailorgroup.com/tonyhorton/. These were the highlights for me:
There really is no excuse not to have a physical fitness program. The P90X workout has been reduced to 30 minutes (if you are interested to learn more about P90X, please visit my friend Tim’s site. I believe you get 10% off if you order through him Teambeachbody.com/timothymathews). Even if videos are not your thing, walk/run around the block for 30 minutes, do a set of jumping jacks, squats, running in place, anything. Do anything but start moving. Your body will thank you for it. Your brain, your mood and most importantly, your health will thank you for it.