Bringing Your Body Into Balance

My 100+ pound weight loss is what grabs people's attention. However, my weight loss was merely a side effect of finally taking my health and happiness into my own hands and finding that perfect balance. Body, mind, spirit. It all matters.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Untethering My Soul

I am absolutely positively obsessed with the book The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. I've listened to it twice and decided that I want to also read the hard copy. Being basically the slowest reader in the history of mankind, that's a pretty huge thing for me. But that's how huge this book is my friends!

I'm gonna break this book down to probably TOO simplistic of an analogy but this is how I view it...

When we are born, our consciousness starts out all clean and fresh. Let's view this consciousness as a filter of sorts. A filter through which we send every experience, every thought, every image...everything! Most things pass seamlessly through this filter without a hitch. I view these things as "neutral". They don't really affect us or cause any emotional response. However, not all thoughts/images/experiences are neutral and some get stuck in our filter. I've come to think of them as "dirty". Here's an example of the difference, and a version of an example used in the book:

Neutral: Driving down the road, you see a blue car at a stop light. The guy inside kinda looks like your boyfriend. You notice it but then the light turns green and you drive away, notice a cool looking tree, and forget all about the guy who kinda looked like your boyfriend.

Dirty: Driving down the road, you see a blue car at a stop light. The guy inside IS your boyfriend and he's kissing another girl. BAM! Everything else around goes blurry. You have an emotional AND physical reaction to it. You can't think of anything else, possibly for days/weeks/months. Years later you are driving down the road and pull up beside a blue car at a stop light and see two people kissing inside. Maybe the car isn't even blue or maybe the people aren't kissing. But it's still enough to trigger that memory that is STILL stuck in your filter and you once again have an emotional and very possibly even a physical response to it. 

Over a lifetime, our filters get dirty. This causes a couple different things to happen. First, these negative experiences actually become part of the filter and shape the way we perceive the world. In the example above, they turn something neutral (like blue cars) into triggers that can affect all our future relationships. Second, the dirtier our filters get, the harder it is to send new experiences through them.

This is absolutely profound for me. For the past few years I've felt like I'm almost numb to happy experiences. Not that I can't experience them but they haven't had the same bright, happy zest they used to have. I've almost dismissed this as part of getting older and having almost a "been there, done that," attitude about it all, thinking "of course I'm not going to be as carefree and happy as I was when I was younger, I'm wiser and more experienced." However, now I'm starting to view it much differently! And this concept just feels true to me. It truly feels like everything I'm experiencing is being sent through a dirty, clogged filter.

In addition to this, I most definitely have experiences that have become part of my filter. I have a perfect example of this from my own life:

A few years ago a guy I was dating started a class at a local college. We had been dating for about a month at the time and he was very interested in me. After his first day of class he suddenly became very different toward me and extremely slow to respond to texts. I found out over time that he had met someone else in that class. All these years later I'm still a little unsure of the exact details of what transpired but to simplify things, he basically cheated on me with her.

A few years later I was dating a guy who went to a cookout at a friend's house. I actually encouraged him to do this and this was something new for him and very much out of his comfort zone as he was "relationship guy" who always preferred to do things with me instead of making friends and growing his world. He was very slow to respond to my texts that day and I had the thought (I'm sure because of my past experience) of "what if he's met someone?" However, I was able to recognize this as based on a fear from my previous experience and dismissed it....Less than one week later he broke up with me for the girl he met at that cookout.

What once would have been a totally neutral experience (a guy I'm seeing having a new experience) has turned into quite the dirty experience. In addition to my concern over anyone I'm seeing going anywhere new, I am also highly sensitive to even the slightest perceived shift in his level attention toward me. Where most people would base their belief in a person's interest on all their experiences with that person leading up to that day, I know it's possible for a man to proclaim his undying love to you one day and disappear out of your life the very next.

So, now, as I find myself interested in one specific guy instead of casually dating many (which felt MUCH safer!), I am struggling with these issues rising to the surface. When he recently started a new job I wondered if that first evening he might suddenly change his attention toward me. His interest from yesterday means nothing today if he doesn't seem as chatty.

Luckily, this book made me perceive all these feelings as a perfect opportunity to clean my filter a little. In the past I would have tried to "silver lining" the experience. I would have probably made a list of all the reasons it would be a good thing if he decided not to date me anymore. I've since learned that this is the psyche's way of trying to resist the fear and emotions and instead we build "walls of thought" around these feelings to "protect" us. Problem is, these walls are built inside of us. That means we are sealing these negative feelings and experiences inside of us!

So, instead, I opened my heart. This is such a new age, vague concept, I know. Basically I allowed myself to truly feel my anxiety. I didn't try to justify why it would be okay if it happened. I didn't pretend like it wouldn't hurt my feelings. I also didn't resort to my "get him before he gets me" attitude that I seem to have adopted since my last painful breakup. I just felt it. And then I envisioned my heart as opening up and allowing the pain to move out of me and the light to move into me. Not just the pain of this thought because it wasn't really even painful, just uncomfortable. But, rather, the pain of the other experiences. It hurt to really think about them. My subconscious attempted to recoil but I worked through it. And I felt it move out of me. 

I'm cleaning my filter one painful memory at a time. Rejection is a big fear of mine so I've fought it pretty hard for a long time. Because of that, I've taught my psyche that this is my "job". I've given my mind the impossible job of attempting to avoid ever feeling rejection. And, in the process, I've built a wall around myself and numbed myself from so many amazing experiences. 

Slowly, as I clean my filter, it feels like I really am starting to feel things on a more heightened level. That unfortunately includes sadness and discomfort but, on the flip side, the world is looking more vibrant again. Happiness has a sharper, more beautiful edge to it. And I'm just getting started....

Monday, September 26, 2016


This is such an amazing video. You really only have to watch the first four minutes to get the message and the warm fuzzies.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I'm Snot Grateful

Some days it's easier than others to be grateful and positive. This time last week I bounded out of bed excited to start a new day. I did my little disciplines first thing such as statements of gratitude before my feet hit the floor, followed by meditation, reading motivational writings and journaling. I felt in control and on top of the world. 


Not so much.

What caused this huge paradigm shift in just a week's time? A head cold. Not just any cold. An ugly, confusing, head so full of pressure day after day until I may lose my mind, head cold. It's not the cold so much that's the problem as what it's preventing me from doing (other than breathing well). 

For the last few months I've been attacking workouts like a superhero. I've never worked out so hard in my life. People are noticing. A woman I didn't know just randomly approached me recently with a question about fitness and started it with, "You obviously work out..." Everything went kind of blurry after that and I either answered her question or possibly danced away singing and then called my mom to tell her. 

Each day has turned from "just another day" into yet another day to be the best I can be. Eating perfectly, killing my workouts, recovering from the last workout. Muscle soreness is my biggest comfort because it's my tangible proof I'm changing. Yes, folks I've been a constant work in progress. 

Until now.

Now, I am coasting. Nothing is sore except the raw skin around my nostrils. Friday is when I really started to feel bad. I pushed on and tried to work out. I felt tired and weak but when I walked in, a fellow gym mate passed me and said "today's a breeze, a little strength and then just a twenty minute AMRAP." I thought "whew, thank goodness." Well, what would've ordinarily been a break from the usual brutal intensity of the workouts I participate in at this gym, turned out to be impossible. I literally stopped my 20 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) workout 2 1/2 minutes early and almost had to crawl to my car. 

I couldn't deny it any longer, I was sick....I still tried to deny it the next morning just one last time when I went to the gym with a friend to work out and ended up telling her after 25 minutes of stumbling around, "I just can't."

And that's it. I haven't worked out since. If my body is changing right now, it's completely in the wrong direction. You combine this with an overall sense of ICK and I didn't wake up feeling too positive or grateful this morning. 

I skipped my gratitude practice before I rolled out of bed, instead half-ass mumbling "it's a wonderful day, I'm happy to be alive" and then almost rolling my eyes at myself in disgust. 

However, after my other practices it continued to bother me that I had skipped my gratitude. So I blew my nose for the 20th time already this morning and sat determined to think of why I'm grateful for my current situation (gratitude works better if it's sincere and specific). 

In the past, I've always been bad to get off on one particular tangent and forget to nurture other aspects of myself. This time around I actually have not done that! So I can't say "being sick reminds me to focus on my other selves: my spiritual self, my professional self, my maternal self, etc." Because I've been keeping all of these important balls in the air.

So I couldn't use that...

Then it finally occurred to me. I was forgetting what it felt like to feel weak and hopeless. Honestly, lately I've felt like superwoman. As I become more and more fit, I risk not being able to relate to most of my clients who seek me out based on my own story of weight loss and struggle. So, it's imperative that I am able to remember how that feels. 

And boy do I remember right now!

I'm also excited to have that "new lease on life" feeling that should be kicking in some time in the next few days. I took it for granted every day when I laced up my shoes and took off running.

I'm also reminded once again about the importance of finding "Flow", that "balance between 'being' and 'becoming'." I don't always do so good with the "being" part because I'm always striving to become some better version of myself. But now I am forced to slow down and just BE. I am determined to find peace in it. And, in doing so, I'm accidentally "becoming" a more balanced person who doesn't need to constantly be doing something to be okay.

My counselor was just telling me yesterday how assigning meaning to any situation instantly lowers stress levels and improves feelings of well being. This is not why I decided to do this. I had honestly forgotten about her words. However, having this realization about how my cold wasn't just wasted time made me remember them and understand them on a deeper level. 

So, yeah, I guess I'm grateful for this snotty, miserable state I'm's also an excellent excuse to curl up tonight and watch a movie instead of cleaning.... 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What Now?

I'm at this new, interesting stage in my life lately where everything I used to find passionate determination in has kind of wavered. While I'm excited to always continue to improve my fitness level, I'm pretty happy with the way I look and feel. I feel almost complete apathy when I think about finding a long term relationship and am enjoying the light, casual dating. I feel like my biggest compulsions (to dwell on the negative, social anxiety, fear of loss, etc.) is pretty much completely under control. Even just keeping my physical environment in control, neat and tidy, is no longer a challenge. Everything that used to rule the direction of my thoughts, my life, are either now on autopilot or irrelevant.

So, what now?

Well, that's what I've been thinking about lately and I'm getting excited to realize that it's almost as though I've laid this sound, orderly foundation that allows me to move on to bigger and better things. I've liberated my mind above silly, shallow things like feeling the need for a perfect body or yet another boyfriend. 

Here's what I'm left with. My new, more meaningful, goals.

1. My son's evolution. This, of course, has always mattered to me. However, having just passed his 8th birthday, I am aware that he is halfway to driving age! He is only 8 years away from the day he will pull out of the driveway and make decisions I will have no control over. This is crunch time people! I can't control who he is or even who he will become but I can control what filter he sends all of his life decisions through. I need to make sure I am fully tuned in to his emotional and spiritual growth in this way. I will do this by:
  •  Making sure I am fully present when we spend our quality time together each day. Not just physically present, but emotionally present. 
  • Expose him to more new things. This one presents a challenge because he tends to fight me on this lately. He would rather be at home building Legos. However, it is my job to make his world bigger and to recognize that the discomfort he feels at the prospect of experiencing something new is normal. The discomfort I feel at the prospect of having to deal with his upset is also normal. We both must experience that discomfort anyway!
2. My career. Lately my business has been on autopilot. And it has needed to be! While my mother was sick, I needed to be able to just float along and just exist while we all went through that. However, recently she and I both feel re-inspired! I feel a passion growing inside of me to breath new life into the studio and offer new services. And we are already starting to add new classes and workshops. Things are happening! Here is how I intend to continue this new momentum:
  • Remaining steadfast in my vision and never doing anything to make a buck. The days of me taking on clients who want to lose 5 pounds to be bathing suit ready are over. They have been for a while now. But, more than that, I want every action I take, every client I take on, to reflect my beliefs and values. If I feel someone is truly incapable of embracing my approach to holistic fitness, I need to direct them elsewhere because it is imperative to my success that I am always working from an authentic place.
  • Develop a concrete business plan and outline steps to accomplish this.
3. My health as I age. As I approach my 4th decade in this body, I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of preserving this one and only vessel I have to hopefully get me through many more decades. The days of excess are behind me. I find myself more and more focused on not overtaxing my body so that it can always be in a state of cleansing and healing. Here are the elements I've began incorporating into my life to accomplish this:
  • Sleep! More and more I understand just how vital this is. Our bodies detoxify when we sleep as well as clear out the stress hormones from the day before. Both play a huge role in the anti-aging process. 
  • Being good to my liver. This involves restraint when it comes to alcohol and sugar. Furthermore, consuming things like warm lemon water upon waking, dandelion root tea or extract, milk thistle and raw apple cider vinegar tonics are easy ways to help the liver do it's job. The liver helps keep the body free of toxins.
  • Controlling stress. Stress can literally kill us! There is some stress we can't do a thing about. However, eliminating unnecessary stress, getting a good night's sleep and a daily practice of meditation are great ways to control stress so it doesn't control me.
  • Water! Nuf said. 
4. My spiritual self. This is an ongoing theme in my life but becomes more important to me as I go on. I find myself turning a little more inward and upward as I go through this life. I feel a sense of calm and acceptance the more I nurture this part of myself. The ways I have accomplished and/or will continue to accomplish this are:
  • Meditation. My daily meditation practice has become a sacred time at the beginning of each day that puts me in a place of mindfulness and deliberate intention for the day ahead of me.
  • Church. Christian churches are ample so if that is your path, you will have little problem finding many options. For others, finding a spiritual place of fellowship can present a real challenge. A few years ago I discovered the UU church. This is the perfect solution for someone like me. I've gotten away from this one because of the travel time and an undercurrent of politics that can sometimes be a little unsettling. However, this church never fails to nourish my soul when I go. It inspires me and gives me a sense of community and purpose each time I'm there. It also offers volunteer opportunities which leads right into my next goal..
  • Being of service to others. I have learned to really embrace this one. It is amazing to me how fulfilling this is. To give of oneself to others so freely with no expectation of any compensation in return has turned out to be some of my biggest growth experiences where I find purpose and peace.

So I'm nowhere near done. As I look over my list of goals that are now important and relevant in my life, I am so moved to realize how far I've come. It makes me realize how much growth I've already experienced in my life but also inspires me to know I'm nowhere near done! On to bigger and better things!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What Today?

What will you do today that will set it aside from all the rest?
What will make it not fade into the background with all the other days?
Decide now. Time is ticking away.
Take that side road you always drive by and wonder where it goes.
Pack up dinner and announce to your kids that you're eating dinner in the backyard tonight.
Do something big. Do something small.
Do anything different. Make it something beautiful.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Let Go

It's human nature to cling to the familiar. It feels safe. The unknown feels scary. 

"Sometimes it's hard to move on, 
But once you do,
You'll realize it's the best thing
You've ever decided to do."