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.

Friday, May 22, 2015

For What I Hunger....

I feel fortunate to live in an area that provides access to what certainly has to be some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. A simple drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway and one can find themselves gasping at an expanse of mountainside as far as the eye can see, all from the comfort of one's own car. And that is exactly how I spent many weekends in my 20's. My idea of a perfect day would be loading up the car with a picnic lunch and some blankets, blasting some B-Tribe and driving up to the parkway to find a pull off to sit and stare at the magnificence that is North Carolina. 

Something I always noticed, however, as I sat and gazed in amazement at rolling mountainside was that I always felt this empty sort of longing, a hunger. I could never quite identify it. It was kind of sad. It was something I always knew was deep inside of me but it really rose to the surface at these times. I decided that it was my soul longing for God. Makes sense, right?! Yeah, it was pretty freakin' poetic in a tormented sort of way so that's the theory I settled on. Although sometimes I just decided I was hungry so I got some fudge on my way back down the mountain.

Then one day I learned something....I learned that hiking was not walking down a trail for a few minutes then getting kind of freaked out that a bear would kill me or that I might have to use the bathroom or get hungry and turning around and walking back. Trails...went....places! Some went to the top of mountains! No cars required. No cars allowed actually!

What I found at the tops of many of these mountains was a view similar to those I had driven to in my 20's. Here's the weird part. It wasn't just my car that was missing from this new view, it was also that empty feeling....

Since then I've learned what that empty feeling really was and I guess I could still identify this as my longing for God but not exactly in the conventional sense I had believed earlier in life. It results from a life not well lived. It was viewing nature but not being a part of it. It was the ache of not trying, not going the distance. I seldom feel that ache now. Why?! Because I'm living the hell out of my life, that's why!! Where I used to stay in a job I hated, accept relationships that weren't right for me, walk away from workouts the moment they made me sweat and watch hours of TV and just be overall content with status quo instead, I'm building businesses, KILLING sweat soaked workouts, wearing out hiking boots, laughing until my stomach hurts, building Legos, sun on my face, hands and feet in the dirt, accepting no less than passion and great love and just overall soaking up every sweet second of life. Yes, I have my stressful, boring and even tragic moments but they are the still spots and I am progressively finding peace and even joy in those as well. 

That hunger used to prevail in my life before I truly lived. I often filled it with food. Very often. Now I fill it with LIVING! As you go into this amazing weekend ask yourself, for what do you hunger?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

My weight, My Emotions, KeVita and more....

Obviously I haven't written in a while. Life has gotten hectic! My career as a trainer is absolutely exploding which is amazing but overwhelming at times. The first thing to go, always, is my focus on clean eating. It's when I hit the weight I'm at now that I always snap out of it and get back on the straight and narrow before it gets too out of hand. In many ways I've become thankful for my weight. It serves as a compass, always pointing me back in the right direction, never letting me get very lost. 

So this time around is a little harder. Much more psychological. To respect her privacy, as she hasn't really announced it to the world yet, I'll keep my discussion of this topic general. Someone extremely close to me is sick and is facing the battle of her life. This is a time when I have to be hyper aware of my emotions....or I will eat them. While I'm not trying to make her struggle about me, I can't help but feel extremely emotional and scared by the whole thing.  But I have to be strong for her and for everyone else, including myself. The best way to do that is to meet my emotions head on and then make myself the healthiest person possible so that I CAN be strong for everyone. 

After much plotting, planning and rearranging, I managed to get an entire day and night in the woods. It's always so good for my soul. It brings me back in touch with the present moment instead of always thinking ahead or looking behind. I feel balanced and re-energized. But how can this translate to regular life? I have to find a way to "go into the woods" in my mind any time I need to. I need to find that peace within myself once and for all. And I truly feel that I'm closer than I've ever been.

Here's how I know. This is HARD to admit. This is embarrassing. But since I'm the queen of talking about the embarrassing, awkward stuff, I'll stay true to form. I used to, in some twisted way, enjoy drama. I was drawn to people who could provide it for me. I'm not exactly sure why. It definitely didn't make me happy! I think it was the opposite. I was angry and almost numb and the drama was some kind of temporary outlet for my anger and allowed me to FEEL something. Anything! 

I recently listed to an audiobook called The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz and the part that resounded with me the most is when he talks about the "poison" in us. When we have a low energy, negative thought (usually stemming from something in our past), an emotional poison builds up inside of us. We pick a fight with someone (usually someone closest to us) and when we succeed at something upsetting them, we are able to temporarily empty our poison into them and feel something resembling momentary relief. But then they are walking around with that poison and eventually they'll probably give it back to us. Not to mention, the poison doesn't truly go away. It can reoccur over and over again, each time we have a negative thought or experience.

Well, I realized when I heard this that, at one time, that was definitely me! But I am happy to realize that this is not me any longer. I truly desire peace. I hate conflict. I measure my words before speaking because I want peace. I choose the people in my life based on my desire for peace. I eliminate people from my life for this same reason. I want to be a cave of silence, deep in the earth, that is affected little by any storm that rages above. And I'm on my way.

Maintaining this peace within myself is crucial to being truly healthy. I've learned that my mental and physical health is completely intertwined and I can't have one without the other. So the mental aspect is well under way. Now to focus a little more on the physical aspect yet again.

Exercise. Ah, exercise. My sweet friend who helps me not gain all my weight back. I love to work out. I work out 6-8 times a week in addition to power walking for 20 minutes segments during most of my clients sessions most days. I know, excessive but my body and mind responds very well to it. I'm meant to move. A lot. Food.....damn, food. Still my biggest struggle. I love it. I love salty, crunchy things and soft, gooey sweet things that make me temporarily forget why I don't want to be obese again. 

Sooooo back at it!!! Same old science I keep applying over and over again. New day.

Less simple carbs. Lots more veggies and clean sources of protein and fat. Not focusing too much on what I shouldn't have but instead focusing on all the healthy, wonderful things I should. Lots of water aaaaand, my new favorite thing...KeVita! If you love bubbly drinks, you gotta try it. If you're used to sweet soda, you'll probably hate it the first time you do. I personally love the stuff! A little too much actually. At $3.79 a bottle, and drinking two of them some days, it's becoming an expensive addiction but I don't care!! This probiotic drink (that has as little as 5 calories per serving) makes my belly feel soooo good! No, I don't own stock in them. I am just so happy they exist and that I don't have to feel guilty about drinking them (except for the price, of course). Sometimes drinking some satisfies my craving for something indulgent....sometimes it doesn't but I"m happy they get to stay in my diet!

And realizing how much KeVita makes me stay on course makes me realize the importance of finding other things like it that I love and stocking up. Avocado, asparagus, sweet peppers, oranges. Things I tear into with glee and don't fantasize about what I would like to be eating instead.

But despite getting a little off course yet again with my eating and having personal issues going on, I'm actually somehow happier, more at peace and more loving and accepting of my body than I've ever been in my life. And all this is no accident. It's putting in the effort every day to be a better person. And, yes, some things crumble a little when I'm tending to other things, but it's all a balance. The goal of this life isn't to get out alive, it's to be the best person we can be and live the most amazing life we can live, touching as many hearts and lives as we can along the way.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

For a New Beginning by John O'Donohue

This poem can apply to most of our lives in some way or another. We get so comfortable with status quo. It's so easy not to change when what we're doing day in and day out is so comforting. But once we break free of this stagnant sameness we will be more alive, happier...we will arrive at the end of our lives with the satisfaction and comfort of a life well lived.

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

It Feels so SO Good

I've seriously felt like crap lately!!!

A few months ago it started with the flu and I've had two back to back colds that seem to drag out forever, some weird digestive issues and now...a beautiful fever blister! Haven't had one in over two years!

So I woke up this morning snotty (I swear it felt more like a hangover) and with a heart beat in my bottom lip. By all accounts, it would've been pretty safe to say that I was in store for a BAD DAY!!

Lately I've missed running. I know someone who doesn't work out (and probably lots who do) can't comprehend how a person could want to run on purpose. In fact, for a large portion of my life, I was one of those people who didn't understand runners.

However, with my body aching, my lip pounding, the air chilly and a light sprinkle of rain, I set out on the sidewalks around my studio early this morning.

Anyone who loves running knows why I did. Everyone else, let me explain....

After pushing through some serious misery, the air still cold, dark and wet, MY clouds parted. With my heart pounding, my breath heavy, I started to feel a lightness. It was a short run. Probably less than 20 minutes. But, by the time I walked back in the door, I felt so ready to face my day.

There's plenty of science out there to explain why exercise has this effect on us but I can't remember big words so I'll just say this....It feels so SO good!! When you've challenged yourself physically, especially on days when it's a mental challenge as well, it completely COMPLETELY changes your entire body and mind. You feel in control, happier, more energetic, the world isn't such a scary, overwhelming place anymore. YOU JUST FEEL GOOD!!!

I've really struggle with pushing myself lately. Partly because of how sick I've been and partly because I've been so unbelievably busy. However, I have become acutely aware of how not pushing my body hard enough and on a consistent basis, tends to make me feel like I'm walking through life if a foggy haze. As soon as I get a good sweat session in my body doesn't just feel good in general...the aches and pains go away!!! I know SO many people that will completely back me up on this! It seem counterintuitive but, more times than not, moving and pushing through a little pain will make the pain actually lessen or disappear all together. And, even if it doesn't, your elevated mood will make you much better equipped to deal with it.

So, stop exercising because you want to lose weight. Stop exercising because you want a shelf booty. Get out and move that most precious gift you have ever been bestowed, your body. I promise you, you will never ever regret it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Video: My Own Struggle

You don't have to be perfect to lose weight and feel better. Here I discuss my own struggles.

My New Video: Keys to Permanent Weight Loss

I recently held a weight loss workshop at my facility and have received a lot of positive feedback as well as requests by people who were not able to attend. So I decided to start a series of videos for these people as well as my clients and blog followers. I'll be delving deeper into each topic in the near future as well as lots of other things related to fitness.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Turns Out....I Really AM What I Eat!

I've been struggling with some health issues lately. Nothing serious, just enough to affect my quality of life a bit. But what it's done is forced me to take a long hard look at what I preach compared to what I live and it turns out I'm a total hypocrite.

During and since my weight loss, because I have such an active lifestyle, I've been able to "cheat" a lot when it comes to food...or so I thought. Turns out I wasn't getting away with it at all.

All of our bodies are affected by the food we eat. Some can get away with it for longer with no apparent ill effects (especially the younger they are). However, it all counts and it all catches up to us eventually. Some people who are more in touch with their bodies will recognize how food affects them. Other people may not make the connection for years, if ever. It amazes me, for instance, that very few people make the connection between the unbelievable outbreak of gastrointestinal diseases, type II diabetes, etc. and the standard American diet....whaaaa?

So that's where I'm at right now. I'm pretty tuned in so I'm aware of the horrible reactions my body is having to certain foods that's becoming progressively worse each year of my life. However, I am actually extremely grateful for this because it's helped to, once again, shift my focus away from the immediate pleasure of food back to what's actually important and it is this:

Each and every time I eat I ask myself, "Will this heal me or hurt me? Am I feeding life or am I feeding death?"

This question, combined with my health issues, has helped me to once again turn to living, life giving foods that will make me stronger and happier. And, while they may not set off those fireworks in my head while I'm eating them, and they're not always quite as convenient to just grab and eat, what they give me is so much more. They give me energy, long lasting energy. They make my skin glow. They don't send me running to the bathroom all day or, on the flip side, make me a stranger to the bathroom for days on end.

When I eat these foods I feel truly alive. I don't know how I keep forgetting that. And no amount of pecan pie or fried cheesy things or chips and hummus (even garlic lovers, mmmm) can take the place of that!