Post-Turkey Burn

November 29, 2012

I don’t know about you, but it seems like the year of 2012 has flown by. Every time I come to the end of another month, I think, but wait, wasn’t January or April or July or September just here? It’s mind-boggling how fast this year’s come and gone, and now we’re into the “holiday seasons.”

 

Lynda Field, life coach, etc. Linked to website.

Also, not sure about your feelings on the subject, but Black Friday annoyed me more than made me desirous of buying products. Here you are, happily digesting a piece of pumpkin pie, when–BAM!–an advertisement’s telling you that you’re fat and need to join the cause in order to lose the turkey you’ve barely put away. Not to mention all the sales started before Thanksgiving even got here this year. Yeah, as I said, annoying.

 

Studies have shown that those who are happier with themselves and their life’s situation, regardless of what it is, are healthier. It is a well-proved fact that those who have less clutter in their house tend to gain less weight and less emotional baggage. There is also an decreased chance of heart attack and stroke when we do something as simple as focus on the things we are grateful for in our lives, rather than on the things we have yet to gain. (As I’ve crowed for a while now, read Growing the Positive Mind, by Dr. William K. Larkin, for insight into the power of positive thinking.)

 

Still, you say, we’ve got to take care of ourselves. Yes, you’re right. We do. But a post-turkey burn isn’t “taking care” of anything. It’s making us more stressed out at a time when stress levels seem to be elevated. Additionally, there’s a new study out suggesting that one hour at the gym may not combat the 23 spent on one’s backside. Scientists are proving that daily activity levels are vital to maintaining health.

 

This is not to suggest that we should quit going to the gym. Instead, I suggest doing two things. Add more activity into your life in addition to the 30+ minutes you spend at your favorite club, and take you attention off what you don’t have and start paying attention to all the good things you do have.

 

I’ve noticed a huge transformation in my own life from reading Larkin’s book, and I haven’t even done the exercises yet. (I plan on it starting next year.) I am, in general, a positive person, but being positive doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness, I’ve found, although I’m generally happy too. But I’ve become happier since considering the premise that Larkin discusses, and I’ve noticed myself actively stopping negative self-talk when situations arise that annoy me. Like I said, I haven’t done the exercises yet…

 

Life has so much to offer us besides fitting the mold pressed upon us by advertisements. Take the opportunity to embrace it. The first step is accepting who you are. None of us are perfect. If you know you need to get into the gym and start shedding pounds, or eat more vegetables, by all means, do it! Just don’t get sidetracked with ideas of perfection that very few of us, myself included, can attain. Be who you are, not who the celebrity model on the television screen is. There’s only one you, and you alone are worth it.

 

The second step, I believe, is to laugh more. Not only does it help alleviate the severity of the workplace, it brings people together. What is life but a series of experiences with people? I admit, I probably don’t laugh as much as I ought, but I hope to remedy that once I get out of this desert and find myself a laughing yoga class. I gotta say, there’s nothing better than a great belly laugh.

 

By Lizzie, whose on a journey to lose almost 80 pounds; linked to her Tumblr. She looks great, friends, and has many good inspirational quotes.

The final step isn’t hard either. It’s taking life as it comes. Going with the flow. There will be ups and there will be downs. Larkin never says that we should ignore the downs. He just says that we should deal with them when we’re ready. Perhaps that’s immediately, or sometime down the road when we’ve gained perspective.

 

I could add more steps, but these are the essentials. Love, laugh, and live. This is how a great post-turkey burn ought to start. Whatever comes as a result of that is done because our perspectives are clear, not cluttered with images of airbrushed figures and wealthy people who can afford pouring thousands of dollars into a weight loss program. Come on, friends! What are you waiting for? The only thing holding you back is yourself!

First of all, a very happy Thanksgiving Day to all of you! I hope you are having a wonderful time with family and friends. The hubby and I are having a quiet holiday this year. It’s nice, actually. It gives us time to reflect upon the good things we have received this year, the bountiful harvest (not necessarily referring to food), and our upcoming anniversary. We’re turning 8 this year! It’s been a wonderful journey thus far!

Speaking of reflection, I spent the Nov. 8-11 in Atlanta continuing my YogaFit 200-hour program. This time, I took Level 2, Pre-Natal, and Seniors. It was a great time. I had the most awesome Level 2/Seniors trainer, whom I hope to stay in touch with from time to time. I felt like I connected to her on a lot of levels, from our sweet teeth to our love of Dr. Larkin’s Growing the Positive Mind to having ties to the military.

What started out as a pure learning experience quickly became introspective for me. First off, I got to meet people who had struggled harder than I have had to struggle. I enjoyed their company. I listened to their stories, and practiced learning the importance of listening versus talking with a ready answer (which isn’t listening). I obtained an unexpected roommate out of the experience. She was awesome! And I need to email her…

What caused me to become more introspective was a Chakra yoga class I took one morning. (YogaFit offers morning classes to warm up the body and mind in preparation for the day’s activities; they are quite useful in addition to being beneficial.) I had a male instructor (for the first time ever) and he took us through all 7 chakras in an hour’s time. It was the most beautiful class I’d ever taken for the following reason.

Linked to the Tumblr blog of the beautiful young lady who made this exquisite creation. Yes, hun, I agree. It could be worse, so we should smile more!

The anahata chakra, the heart chakra, resides in the heart’s center. During our exercises for this, he told the story of the boy with a perfect heart, who went around showing others his perfect heart. It was without blemish. On his travels, he came across an old man who had a patchwork heart. His curiosity was aroused, and he asked the old man why he had allowed his heart to become imperfect. The old man replied that it was because he’d chosen to share a piece of his heart with others, no matter if they had hurt him or loved him or been friends or enemies with him.

At this point, my eyes prickled with tears and I had no idea why. The story just resonated within me in a powerful but mysterious way. I was sitting there in Crescent Moon pose wondering to myself as to why, and made an effort not to let the tears fall. We moved into our vinyasa flow and I got past it, and the instructor finished the story.

In the end, the boy with the perfect heart offered a piece of his own heart to the old man, saying, “Thank you.” He made the decision that withholding himself from the rest of the world did not help the world. Indeed, such behavior possibly made the world a worse place. The old man received it and gave a piece of his patchwork heart back with gratitude.

What I learned was not poses or breathing or the 8 branches of yoga or the power of positive thinking. Those are all good things. Great things, in fact, but the greatest of the lessons I learned this time was that life is about living. It’s about sharing. It doesn’t matter if or when we run across someone who treats us well, or badly. We will have joyful and painful experiences, ups and downs. We will make friends and lose friends, for every person is in our lives for a time and a season.

I had a moment at the beginning of the Level 2 class, where we were asked what we disliked most about ourselves. Honestly, I hate being vulnerable, yet what I learned is that vulnerability is vital to living well. For when we are vulnerable, we are receptive. We are more willing to listen, to understand another’s point of view even if we don’t agree with them, to value that person despite their differing arguments and opinions and beliefs and hopes, etc.

There are a set of right and wrong things to do in this life, I believe, and I think that one of the wrong things for us to do with withhold ourselves from contributing to this wonderful, frightening, terrible, rewarding thing called life. There is only one you. No one can ever replace the lessons you bring to life.

At the very end, after all the training was done, I had a bit of a meltdown. I was talking to my Level 2/Seniors trainer when suddenly it just exploded. I felt incredibly stupid crying and not knowing why, but I had this powerful need to have someone available if I ever needed to talk or bounce ideas off of, etc. A mentor, so to speak. It took me hours to figure out what had sparked the explosion: The story of the patchwork heart.

There are times when I find myself very alone in the place where I am living. I feel like I’m speaking a different language. People smile and nod, but the cynicism never recedes from the light in their eyes. They’d like to believe you but they don’t. They’re too engrained in focusing on the negatives in their lives–what they are doing without or how they don’t match up to an image or expectation of perfection–to see what good things they already have.

The power of positive thinking doesn’t seek to erase negative thinking; rather, it seeks to transform our thoughts into the positive, beneficial, healthy means by which we accomplish tasks and, more importantly, find gratitude, happiness, peace, and love. Just as there is no perfect posture in yoga, there is no perfect human being. I think that when we acknowledge our imperfections, we find the freedom to grow into better people.

I encourage you to read Growing the Positive Mind. I encourage you to embrace the unexpected explosions that rock your life. They are our lessons. They guide us on this journey called life. They make up our patchwork hearts, and who knows whom we have touched by sharing a piece of ourselves? Usually, only the person whom we have touched by sharing.

My Inner IDEA Experience 2012

November 15, 2012

I’ve been waiting weeks, it seems, to share this experience. I was very fortunate to have earned a scholarship to Inner IDEA, the mind-body side of IDEA Fit. What an experience it was. I had so much fun and met some really great people along the way that I could not sleep the second night of the conference because I was happy. Plain and simple.

 

Here’s a list of what I took over the four days:

 

Regeneration (Re-Gen) with Steve Jack: having no idea what this was except that it was related to the chakras, I went with an open mind. Unlike a few, I stayed the whole time too. The basic idea was tapping into the body’s natural healing capabilities by focusing on the chakra energy frequencies (and then yoga exercise and diet). Some may roll their eyes but to be honest, I can feel chakra energy fields. I could feel the change of frequencies as we moved up the spine toward the crown of the head. It was a different class, an interesting class, though I share a different faith than the instructor. I think what was best about this class was that even though our beliefs differed, the sensations I perceived were the same. Also, at the end, Steve had us do an invocation–what we really hoped to bring to this world. I was really shy to say mine; I’d go so far as to say that I was nervous speaking it. Now this is like a magnet for attention, and I drew Steve’s attention right off the bat. He touched my throat chakra and I told him what my hope was: that people would learn the Truth. It was a powerful moment for me because I realized that this partially or wholly drives the things I do in my life. In response, he said to me, “Courage and precision.” I have to say that this opened up my mind to the rest of the conference, and not in a bad or vulnerable way.

 

On homepage of CoreFitnessRoller.com

Utilize Pilates Principles and Athletic Training to Create a Powerful YOU! with Rael Isacowitz and Darya Bronston: I must say that I was trying to avoid any classes with apparatuses because I wanted to focus on learning things that I could take back to my students. Having no idea what this class was other than a class with one of the current Pilates greats, Rael, I went and ended up taking a class with an apparatus. The core fitness roller (CFR), to be exact. One of his students, Darya, had come up with this apparatus, and it’s only been out about a year. I was thrilled to be learning BASI Pilates principles, the program which I am currently most drawn to taking, and became increasingly enamored with the CFR. I went home that night and told the hubby that, if anything, I would purchase one, and I did!

 

Beyond the Barre: By Balletone with Shannon Fable: a floor ballet class, I was excited to learn about ways to bring dance to everyone without it feeling ballet-ish. Shannon was fun, engaging, and had an awesome story. She worked with all people, most of whom were older than I was actually. I plan on pursuing this program when I’ve finished with both my yoga and Pilates certifications, as well as (hopefully) a barre program.

 

Stott Pilates: Matwork Flow Conditioning Sequence Workout with Moira Merrithew and Heather Lawson: Moira is another great in Pilates, the face of Stott Pilates, and I could not have been happier to take the class. It was matwork, the kind of class that I can currently teach due to facility and equipment limitations. I learned a lot, including different variations on classical Pilates exercises. Additionally, I was thrilled to get a chance to chat with both instructors afterward about the Stott program. They were great in giving their reasons for why they chose to do the program and what they recommended me taking.

 

Yoga Tune Up: Core Integration Immersion with Jill Miller: this was a fascinating class that focused on letting the abdominals go, probing the innermost abdominals with a massage with the SPRI ball, and learning the difference between tubular (engaged) and receptive core. What was really cool was that I’d never seen anyone give their internal organs a massage through diaphragm mechanics. We did not get past this point on the video but it was awesome to see how she could move her stomach in a rippling motion–the technical term escapes me at the moment–to give herself a self-massage. In addition to the ab work, we use Tune Up balls to release muscles. Check out her website here for more information.

 

Movement Fusion: Integrating Fascia and Function with the CFR with Darya Bronston: this was another CFR class, which I decided to take so that I could learn more movements and receive more instruction. Again, it was great. In addition to learning how to stand on the thing, we added some cardio movement. Yes, I fell more in love with my new toy…

 

Feldenkrais for Performance: Building Awareness with Stacy Barrows, PT: we did not do much during this class except lie on a smartroller, but taking the time to turn inward and notice the imbalances in the body was great! It is amazing how little we pay attention to the two halves of the body, to the mind-body connection as a whole. The whole idea surrounds the hot topic of neuroplasticity, reteaching the mind to think and behave by countering bad habits with exercises. Stacy called them “puzzles.” I will try to put more on Feldenkrais out in the next couple weeks but for the time being, if you get a chance to do some work with the conception, I highly recommend it!

 

Stott Pilates: Teaching Reformer to First Timers with Heather Lawson: I decided to take this class for two reasons. The first was to learn what the reformer did. The second was because I was a beginner and thought it was probably the best class to take in order to satisfy my curiosity. I ended up being the only First Timer in the class, but was welcomed by Heather, whose a great instructor by the way. In fact, I think she was a little pleased to have someone new instead of just reformer instructors. I got my firsthand experience and learned a lot of tips and techniques that I could apply to my own classes, even though I don’t teach reformer. That’s the great thing about Pilates. Everything works together.

 

Transformative Teaching: Yoga Adjustments with Stacy McCarthy: this was probably one of my favorite classes because I got to learn some hands-on yoga adjustments with a pro. I mean, Stacy is a real pro. She’s all passionate and compassionate, and did a great job making the class fun, invigorating, and enjoyable for us all. We worked in partners and got to experience that deep sigh when we were released. Learning under Stacy is another thing I hope I get to experience one day, but until then I picked up her adjustments book. See her website here for more information.

 

Eating with the Seasons with Teri Mosey: I learned a lot from this class. Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we went through the five seasons, which are based on the five TCM elements–earth, water, fire, metal, and wood. There was a lot of discussion, including one home remedy I’ll pass along. If feeling under the weather or suffering from a cold, take a clove of garlic, bite it, and stick it between your cheek and teeth. Drink tons of water over a period of 5-10 minutes, then chew up the clove and swallow. I just did it this morning and let me tell you, Teri was right. You’ll fall to your knees! But I feel much better. I don’t have a cold, but I don’t want to get sick either and I experienced a bit of congestion last night. Hopefully, it will do the trick!

 

All in all, I had a wonderful time at Inner IDEA and recommend the experience to anyone, whether a student or instructor (or personal trainer or therapist or whatever). The staff was friendly and helpful, and the instructors were down-to-earth, approachable, and knowledgeable. Moreover, they had passion for what they taught; they were not there trying to just sell you stuff. They were there because they cared and those are the type of people I want to learn from!

 

Namaste!

November Articles 2012

November 8, 2012

I hope you are having a wonderful November. It’s been a busy month for me. On the heels of last month’s Inner IDEA conference, which I’ll tell about next week, I have more YogaFit training. Plus, for the second year in a row, I’m doing National Novel Writing Month–it’s going to be a blast!

 

However, with all of this said, I think it’s important to take time out to breathe and find the things we are grateful for this Thanksgiving Season. It’s easy to get caught up in the sweep of Halloween and Christmas and forget altogether about what Thanksgiving means, not what advertisers want us to think it’s all about (i.e. Day After sales and more opportunities to spend our hard-earned cash). In fact, I get a little sad every year at this time because I hardly ever see fall/harvest decorations or a remembrance to celebrate what may be one of the most important holidays of the year.

 

Take the time out to remember what you’re grateful for this year, whether it’s a short post on your blog every day, or something you say around the dinner table at Thanksgiving, or something you meditate on while in rush hour traffic. And just ponder the following, which was mentioned in Growing the Positive Mind, by Dr. William K. Larkin: without gratitude and hope, we cannot possibly start to love.

 

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Thanksgiving Recipes (2012)

November 1, 2012

As we all know, the holidays tend to be a rush of excitement, family and friends, and cooking. A lot of cooking. Here are a couple of things to try to get into the festive spirit while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

I saw this on Tumblr, incidentally, but I have some leftover pumpkin in the fridge from making pumpkin cookies (in last month’s recipe post–they were delicious!), so I thought I’d add it to my breakfast.

Cook 1/2-3/4 c. oatmeal to the consistency you desire; add in 1/4 c. pumpkin puree and dashes of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Cook until warm. Add raisins and top with a drizzle of honey and milk.

My Fruit-filled Homemade Turkey

I got this idea from the Food Network years ago. Instead of stuffing, which dries out the holiday bird (and tastes *bleh* on top of it all…to me, at any rate), I fill the turkey cavity with an onion, garlic cloves, coarsely chopped celery and carrots, and up to one whole apple (your choice, but I recommend Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith) and one whole orange. Baste the outside of the turkey with olive oil and a mixture of salt, pepper, and your choice of seasonings (last time, we did thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage, and mint).

Creamy Gluten-Free Scalloped Potatoes

Just tried this recipe this week, actually, and love it! It’s a great way to switch things up from the usual mashed variety.

Avocado Salad (Varieties)

I actually had this at a friend’s house this week. It was delicious (even though I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes). The combination is very simple and can be done a plethora of ways. Make this your own!

Skin, pit, and dice avocadoes. Add something sweet and something crunchy (examples: apples and raisins; tomatoes and jicama–the version I tasted–celery and mangoes, etc.). Top with dressing (lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, tiny bit of mayonnaise, and olive oil; shake well) and feta crumbles.

Moreover, as you go through your holiday seasons, and especially this coming Thanksgiving, try not only to adhere to tradition and accommodate guests, but take some time for yourself! So often, we stress ourselves out by filling our schedules till its packed. Saying “no” can benefit you more in the long run by reducing your blood pressure and anxieties than making room for just one…more…thing. Take the time to be grateful for all that you have done, received, and given this year, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving Season!