In short, once you take a path it will become easier to keep taking that path and harder to start taking a new one. This is how habits are created. This is how our lifestyles are created. That's why old habits are so hard to change. There's one thing greater, bigger, and stronger than the Law of Facilitation and that is love.
"Eat Less, Move More" is not the answer for weight loss. Our society, trainers and doctors alike, have been throwing this saying around for years as if it were common sense. Not only is it not common sense it down right will not work long term or effectively
Over fifty years ago a famous biochemist named Roger Williams published a book called Biochemical Individuality. What he revealed to the world was nearly all of our internal organs vary in size, shape, location, and capacity. He showed that our metabolic rates (AKA your metabolism, AKA how you use energy) are staggeringly different from person to person. The water content varies from each person to the next. The oxygen capacity of the blood varies from one person to the next. Even if you don't understand what some of that means, here is what you can take from it: just as we all look different on the outside, we all functional differently on the inside. This is reason #153564785439 why diets will not work long term.
Many times people, very intelligent people, find a way to eat and live that works for them. They put a high price on that information and sell it to you... and then it doesn't work for you. You're left feeling like you did something wrong, or as if you didn't work as hard as them. As Roger Williams shared with the world, as my grandmother shared with me, and as I am sharing with you right now: you aren't like everyone else, honey (the honey was mainly just from my grandma).
Other times people, very intelligent people, find ways to "work the system" per say so that you'll drop numbers off the scale and it seems like 'this is the one', it's really working. And then it doesn't. I assure you God (or whoever/whatever you believe) designed your body very specifically to survive. You can't trick your body long term. Your body is way smarter than you are... no matter how intelligent you are.
Sometimes you are plain out being gaslighted (usually by someone who has someone above them gaslighting them). This can be easily found by checking the language. Fat free, low calorie, low fat, detox, sugar free, things like that are all dead giveaways. Things that play on your fears: helping you cut carbs, keeping you on track, and anything that involves a "meal plan" that is for everyone.
Your body, in all its biochemical individuality will waste no time in letting you know you didn't eat right for you. You may feel bloated, tired, get a headache, remain hungry or become hungry soon after. And never underestimate how much you DO know when it comes to food and your health. Fruits, vegetables, organic foods, whole foods (minimally processed, if at all), and animal products (like the ones raised on farms) are things you want to eat more of. Eat a variety of these foods. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water. Avoid processed foods (anything that comes out of a box). Eat organic whenever possible.
For a couple weeks write down everything you eat (like in a regular old notebook). Make notes on how you feel AFTER you eat and leading up to your next meal. When you are eating to please your body you'll feel satisfied after eating. You'll have more energy. You'll feel full for a couple of hours after eating. Use your notes and make adjustments until you find your own personal sweet spot (get it, sweet spot?!).
There is a plethora of information on dieting, health, and wellness. Find people, places, and information that will take into account your personal metabolic type. Then go a couple steps further and take into account the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences in your life. The day you decide to not only look at yourself as an individual but also all of the factors that make up your life, is the day you'll be free to live it.
Sweat, Smiles, & Diet Free,
Time: you never have enough, always want more, but don’t want to take it. I don’t say that to be speaking harshly, and certainly not to shame you (this is a strictly no shame zone). I point out your relationship with time because it is seriously hindering the quality of your life. In fact, a poor mindset regarding time will cost you money, set you back on your health goals, and wastes your very precious time.
‘Sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me’. For most, that little rhyme was the first introduction to what my grandma used to call “hogwash”. Your words matter. Your words affect your physical feelings, beliefs, the people around you, and even your weight. It’s time to give up the hogwash and be the one that changes the dynamic of our society because your words matter.
I’m pretty zen these days but there are still a couple topics that get me fired up; things like social injustices, gender equality, the propaganda of the fitness industry, and those who could have pulled up in the Starbucks drive-thru but leave me three feet away from ordering.
During the holiday season, especially leading into the New Year, the marketing of the fitness industry is in full effect. Last week I saw a lifestyle blogger share a meme that said “I am sick and tired of food having calories” and I’ve got to be honest, my zen went right out the window. Calories may have the worst reputation in the modern industrialized world, and they don’t deserve it.
I watched a Netflix documentary that I highly recommend called The Minimalist and while I got a lot of profound wisdom from it there was one distinction they made that really stuck out to me. The minimalist guys (which they call themselves) spoke on the difference between constructive worry and useless worry... and how many of us don't seem to recognize the difference.
Constructive worry is the kind of worry that can aid you in what you are doing. For example, checking the time and staying on task so that you don't miss a flight is important. However, if you are twenty weeks away from the flight and it is the 200th time you've worried about missing the flight it becomes useless... and it drains your energy.
Our society is known for worrying that we've not had enough sleep, that we don't have enough time, that we never have enough money. The belief is that we just need more of everything, but the truth is we have too much.
We have too much worry.
A staggering amount of people come to me for advice on how to increase their energy. I see millions of people spending hundreds of dollars a month on supplements to increase their energy. Lines wrapping the building at Starbucks because we believe the caffeine will give us the boost we need (don't get me wrong - I love Starbucks - but I also know it's not going to be the source of my energy). Coffee, energy drinks, supplements, patches, vitamins, more, more, more praying that by taking more - doing more - we'll have more. Even food has become a staple in the search for more energy, just look at the marketing in "superfoods" (which is a marketing term, NOT a scientific one). While food is quite literally the fuel we need for life, I still question why it is that we need so much more energy? Where is your natural energy going?
Our bodies are hardwired to go. Our bodies create energy and crave to expend it. So if our bodies our hardwired to have energy, yet we don't have any, the question shouldn't be how to get more but to ask where is it all going?
I got curious about where my energy was going. The first thing that pops up is: I'm a mom, but the simple fact is: being a mom doesn't require all that much of my energy. The useless worry, the mom guilt, trying to "keep up", the unrealistic expectations of motherhood... now that can zap the energy. What about work? My energy probably goes to my work. Does it? What part of my work actually sucks the energy out? Is it the actual tasks at hand? Nope. It's the useless worry over the things I can't control anyway; it's the negative attachments I've made with the word 'work'; it's the simple fact that we may be doing work that isn't all that fulfilling.
Okay, if it's not your kids.. and it's not your work... what is it that is draining all of your energy?
It's your useless worry.
Envision your brain is a computer and that all of your useless worry is an open tab running in the background. If you open 200 tabs on your computer, it is guaranteed to slow down. If you open 300 tabs on your computer, it may just shut down. The running tabs that you have constantly open and running in the back of your mind is slowing down your mind and body. We are overusing our minds without being mindful at all.
This doesn't mean that your lack of energy is not real, or that it's all in your head, it is very, very real and your useless worry is truly burning up all of your energy. This kind of stress has the ability to turn into physical fatigue, physical symptoms, and even disease. Thyroid problems, chronic fatigue, adrenal problems, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, blood pressure problems, and many, many more are directly related to stress and worry.
The problem persists when we seek treatment for the symptoms. When faced with an illness we look towards what we can take to fix it. What if we started treating the root of the problem - if we look to treat the cause instead of the symptoms? Then the questions turn from what can I take to what can I let go of? Instead of focusing on how to get more energy, we would focus on letting go of the things that steal it.
We all know stress is bad and we've all been told not to sweat the small stuff. But how do we actually stop... well, we don't think about stopping. Telling someone to calm down when they are working up has approximately a 0% success rate - so telling yourself not to worry about something you're worried up will probably follow that trend. Here are 5 things to do instead:
1. Ask questions
Walk yourself through it in baby steps. ie: will this matter in 5 days/5 months/5 years? What's the worst case scenario? What if this did happen? What can I do if the worst case scenario really does happen?
2. Close the running tabs.
If your to-do list is in your head, you're using entirely too much energy to try to keep track of it. In fact, I don't like written to-do lists either. If something needs done, schedule it. Find a spot in your calendar for it and you'll get it done because you've literally found the time. If it is just a thought or idea, you could use a journal, the notes section of your cell phone, or something like Trello (it's an app and a website) - whatever feels good to you; then set a time weekly or monthly in your schedule to go over your notes and ideas.
3. Try a new mindset.
I wrote recently about changing my mindset while vacuuming and I'm still shocked at the difference. How much of the things we think are hard are only hard because we've said or heard how hard it was? School started again and I heard so many people say how hard it is. Is it actually hard? I wonder if we started saying how fun it was if there would be a difference? I think there would be! With Cannon (or any child) you can see how susceptible kids are to our attitudes. Imagine if I talked about broccoli with the same excitement and energy as ice cream.. he'd start believing they were all "treats".
4. Practice mindfulness.
Be where you are. Enjoy who you're with. And for heaven's sake, sit that phone down every once in awhile. When I say be mindful, I mean be all there, wherever you are. When you notice your attention floating away - call it back to what you're doing or who you're with. Give the people you're with your full attention, be curious, ask questions, listen, and learn.
What I mean is practice. Everything else above is going to take practice and with meditation you get to practice whether you are or aren't feeling the stress. If you are stressed, it will help alleviate it. If you aren't stressed, it will leave you better equipped for next time. Practicing while you are in the middle of useless worry is like on the job training; meditation is practicing and preparation for the game. You never know, the quiet may just provide you with some answers.
Sweat & Smiles,
Last year I realized a big change I needed to make, and a blaring kink in my system (and by system I mean myself).
I could not accept a compliment. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I would say ‘thank you’ but then quickly I’d follow it up with a take down. For example, if someone told me how good my arms looked, I’d quickly reply by saying something about the cellulite on my legs. Or when people told me how much they loved what I was doing, saying, and writing, I’d be sure to remind them that I wasn’t always this way.
I noticed it one day, and then couldn’t un-notice it. That’s the thing about patterns - once you see them, you can’t un-see them. So I got curious about why. The truth is, it was partly a habit and partly because I was still a pretty harsh critic when it came to me. But the driving force behind it was a learned behavior - a belief that it was actually the right thing to do. Human connection is a funny thing - we all NEED it, we all CRAVE it, and we’re usually taught a list of things you should and should not do to connect with others. Not being too full of yourself, and not feeling like you are better than others rank highly among the rules of winning friends and influencing people (shout out Dale Carnegie, phenomenal book).
How about self-loathing? Gossip? Judgement? How have they become a solid foundation for human connection. I realized quickly that I was doing myself and others a disservice. I wasn’t sending a message of humility or leveling the playing field. The only message I was sending was: it’s not okay for me to love myself… therefore it’s not okay for you to, either.
Connection through self-loathing, or loathing other women, is a popular way women bond with each other. Women aren’t bad, hateful, or vindictive… most women are afraid and start getting the message that they aren’t good enough at a very young age; and this grows into bad habits, and poor connections.We’ve all seen it: Someone gets vulnerable about their lives… I feel like a terrible mother; I’m a hot mess; I’m so fat; I can’t fit in my pants; my house is always a mess; I’m not good at this… quickly women jump in for the rescue (which is a good plan) but the rescue turns even quicker to self-sabotage (not a good plan)… You’re a great mother, but me I feed my kids twinkles for dinner; you are so tiny - me, I’m the fat one…. The message is meant to make our fellow feel better but the real message sent: yes, this is how we are supposed to feel. I don’t have space to love myself, and I don’t have space for you to love yourself either.
We. Have. To. Stop.
It’s time to change the way we treat ourselves, it’s time to change the way we treat each other.
Here are the new rules:
1. When someone gives you a compliment say thank you - simple!
2. Compliment others, often. Never hold back that kind thing you were thinking.
3. When you see the self-loathing train start rolling, stop it in its tracks.
3a. Step in for the rescue and keep it all positive.
3b. Always remind people know what they’re doing well.
3c. Tell people what you love about them!
People often wonder what this whole self-love thing has to do with health and fitness. Once I lose this weight, I’ll love myself, right?! But that is working in reverse, and often times setting yourself up for failure. Working out because you hate your body, want to change your body, or dieting for the same reasons will only work in the short term - and by work, I mean, you’ll see a change in weight and then it will stop working and you’ll gain it back and then some. Digressing, feeding the harmful cycle.
The self-love route says I want to workout because I love and appreciate my body and it was designed to move; my body has always been there for me so I want to show up for it; I want to eat healthfully because that’s what makes my body feel best! This route will change the game and break the vicious cycles. This route is a road that doesn’t hit a dead-end. This route is a limitless road to better, happier, and healthier.
Sweat & Smiles,
I smiled today the entire time I was vacuuming my house. I had been putting it off and I slightly grumbled when I went to do it. In fact, I had bargained with myself: if I vacuum then I can sit down and watch the Netflix documentary I had been wanting to watch. As I started vacuuming I remembered something that a beautiful soul once shared with me; she was working in her kitchen and I asked her if there was something I could do to help and she told me the only thing left for her to do was to sweep. She explained to me that she loves to sweep everyday because she just wants to touch her home. It was such a beautiful thought to me, so I decided to give it a try.
As I started vacuuming and thinking of this wonderful woman and my home, I couldn't help but smile. The smile began a trickle down effect. I don't know if it tricked my brain into thinking I was happy to vacuum but after a few minutes I even found myself touching some of the walls as I went. I even found myself talking to my home - saying things like "thank you", and "you're such a good house." I went through the whole house opening up the blinds and letting some light in. I realized that at this point I was really in tune with myself and my home. I was being mindful. I could tell which rooms needed some sun light and which rooms needed some fresh air.
This entire interaction, as silly as it may sound, was really profound. It really got me thinking: aren't we all (things and people) just energy? We spend all day, all of our lives really, giving and receiving energy. And as I sat down I realized that my house was not spotless, the floors still needed mopped, things still needed put away, and the list goes on... but I felt better about my home in that moment than I ever had in the countless moments that I got it "spotless". I wholeheartedly believe that is because of the energy I put into it. The happy and grateful energy that I was giving my home was the same happy and grateful energy that it returned back to me.
It may seem this whole interaction seems silly - but I challenge you to give it a try. The next time you're washing your dishes, smile; practice mindfulness and gratitude and see what happens. What have you got to lose? Regardless of what one might think, there is one thing I know for certain - the proof is in the feeling.
Sweat & Smiles,
“Control is such an open ended word for me, something that I used to think I owned; I’m standing here with none and feeling so complete…”
This is a lyric from a song called “My Love” by Jess Glynne and the first time I heard it I immediately searched the song and listened to that line a couple times. Control is something I’m working hard to let go of. Last week I was even working on some new agreements that I wanted to make with myself and I had written down the one we all have heard: ‘focus only on that which I can control.’ After a few minutes I drew a nice big, dark line through it: 'focus only on that which I can control.'. The truth is, I can’t control ANYTHING so it’s not worth writing down.
I left my husband and son for over a week to travel to Hawaii and host my very first big wellness retreat. In the weeks leading up to it I was often asked how my two guys would survive and after careful consideration I decided they’d survive just like they do when I’m home. The concern is usually coming from the thought that “nobody does it like mom/dad/me”… but nobody has to.
I could have spent the weeks leading up to my trip and the days I was on the trip trying to control what was going on at home. I could have left a detailed list of what Cannon and I usually do in the morning, for nap time, for bath time, for bed time… and on and on and on. Had I done that then the ones at home would have felt constricted, untrusted, and, well, like someone was trying to control them.
Instead I focused on things that would be helpful - to myself and everyone. At home the morning routines looked different, the food routines looked different, and the house routines looked different; but I came home and everyone and everything was fed, cleaned, and well taken care of.
I took this lack of control thing pretty seriously on the trip as well. When things popped up (and they always do) - I went with the flow, I trusted my own instincts and the instincts of others. It was this style of go with the flow that led me to one of the greatest experiences of my life.
When we arrived at the retreat center we heard that the dolphins usually come in and swim around the bay between 6am and 7am in the morning. So the first morning I woke up and headed straight for the bay… no dolphins. I enjoyed the water, floated around for a bit, and headed back in for yoga and breakfast. That was the only morning I went out to look for the dolphins.
Nearing the end of the trip, in the late afternoon, I felt great but I was tired and I was hot. The owner of the retreat center gave me a hug and told me I needed to go cool off in the water; I didn’t really feel like it but I trusted her instincts. The problem was, massages were happening in my room so I couldn’t go and grab my swimsuit but one of the other girls offered to loan me one. I told three of the girls that I was just going to the water to cool off, assured them that I wasn’t even going to get my hair wet (because I didn’t want to wash it again), and they agreed to go for the same reason.
After about five minutes in the water, there they were, a pod of dolphins. We had one set of snorkel gear between the four of us but we all swam out to them anyway. Trading off the snorkel gear we watched, swam, and played with about 30-40 dolphins for nearly an hour. I’ll always swear that they seemed just as excited to see us as we were to see them. For me this moment seemed so surreal. Unprepared, unplanned (at least by me - obviously someone else had other plans for me), and without trying to control my time it became one of the highlights of my trip… probably even my life.
I get what Jess Glynn was saying now. Control is an open-ended word because it has no limits, there is no yes or no, it’s just this thing that if we keep trying to grab hold of it we’ll always be falling just a little bit short. Control isn’t something we are meant to have, let alone own. So the next time you find yourself reaching, grabbing, or pulling at control just decide to stand there with none, let go and let God (or the Universe, Spirit, Your Higher Power), and I promise you and your experience in this life will feel so complete.
Sweat & Smiles,
I'm no expert on The Universe and I certainly don't get to call the shots or tell you what's right or wrong but I can assure you that like attracts like... and that's what the law of attraction is.
Life isn't about everything going the way you planned, or even having things go your way. Life isn't about a to-do list, who got the most done, or staying busy.
Shopping for gifts in a small town in Italy I came across the most beautiful handpainted Limoncello serving set; my parents are big fans of Limoncello so immediately I knew it was the perfect gift. The six shot glasses, bottle, and serving dish made it's way delicately packaged and into my suitcase and crossed oceans to make its way to my parents dining room to then sit... for three years.
I gave them the set as well as two bottles of authentic Limoncello, so it wasn't that they didn't have anything to put into it! For months I would go to their house and see the unopened bottles and unused set and ask 'you haven't enjoyed this yet?!' and each time the same response: 'we're saving it for a special occasion.'
My Nonnie (grandmother) passed away while I was on that trip to Italy. Thousands of miles from home I took a blow that I was and was not ready for. We're not talking about a grandmother that you have to go and visit a couple times a month. We're talking about a woman who practically raised us all. I knew her time was coming, and though I wasn't really ready I kind of was, and I owe that to her. My Nonnie never lived a when/then kind of life. She never waited for when she got that new job, then she would enjoy this new thing; or when she lost that weight, then she'd celebrate herself. She lived a in-the-moment, purpose driven life. The older I get the more things I learn about her. She was dealt some blows that have the potential to leave a person wrecked with despair, sorrow, and misery but instead she still loved life and all it had to offer. She still lived a in the moment, purpose driven life.
I had brought home a couple of nice bottles of wine for myself on that trip and once the funeral was over and traveling family had gone home I thought about opening one of those bottles but then thought, 'I'll save it for a special occasion'. I promise you as I walked away the glasses that hang on a wire wine rack clanged together. I know in the deepest fibers of my being that was her. And she wanted me to have the good wine - now. It was a special occasion.
For the next three months (until it was gone) I finished the day with a glass of the good wine. Sometimes it was just me on my porch, sometimes it was me and my husband, or in the company of friends but regardless those three months changed me. It was healing. It was powerful. And by the time the bottles were gone I found out that I wouldn't be drinking wine for the next nine months... that special occasion I'd been waiting on for a couple of years was on it's way; due the same month as my Nonnie's birthday, no less.
I have at times felt that wrecked with despair, sorrow and misery; I've also just felt bummed out for no good reason but I also still love life and all it has to offer. That means they're all special occasions. Each day that you have another chance, another choice, another moment... it's a special occasion. Drink the good wine. Burn the good candles. Buy the flowers just because. Live an in-the-moment, purpose driven life.
Sweat & Smiles,
I love a good motivational quote. There's a popular motivational quote floating around that says: 'exercise in the morning before your brain figures out what you're doing'; and I have to tell you I think that is a complete load of crap. Having the mind - body connection is so important and will actually increase the enjoyment that can be found during and after working out (yes, I said enjoyment).
It's also this form of thinking that has lead people to believe that if they struggle waking up early they aren't able or are less likely to workout (which is also a load of crap). If you are already exhausted, waking up earlier is not going to improve your life. So what should you do? It's simple(ish), find what times work for you.
The reason this concept has the (ish) behind it is that our mindset sometimes gets in the way. We expect that if we say "8AM is going to be the time that works for me", and then it doesn't, that we can't do it. Or if something comes up (as things always will!) we give up and try again tomorrow. In a world where we are acquiring more and more resources, I fear that we are becoming less resourceful. We impose limitations, compare ourselves to others, and rarely take time to dig deep into our own thoughts and think outside of the norm.
I have clients that utilize their breaks at work to complete their workouts before they even leave to go home. A ten minute circuit on their morning break, a ten minute circuit on their lunch break, and a third on their afternoon break. Their workouts are finished, they have the same effects physically, and they increase productivity throughout their workday! Some clients utilize their lunch break, while others have found that evening, right before bed, ended up being their sweet spot (who doesn't sleep better after a nice shower anyway, right?!).
The point is this: stop getting stuck on the x, y, and never getting dones and start finding what works best for you. If what you've tried before hasn't worked, try something new. Here are three guidelines to finding the time to workout.
Write down 3-4 ideas for when you could workout. Get creative.
2. Give time, time.
Try each idea for a week or two before making decisions about it.
3. Get it done anyway.
If you planned to do a workout Monday at 8am and didn't get it in don't wait for Tuesday at 8am. See where you can squeeze it in during the rest of the day, you just may find you prefer THAT time better!
You'll also find that certain times used to work for you, but don't anymore. We go through seasons of life and will always have an ebb and flow. For years I started work at 5:15AM, and I would squeeze my workout in on a 30 minute opening between sessions. With a new baby, and a husband that usually worked until 10pm, I found that wasn't going to work for my new season of life. So I came up with ideas, gave it time, and when my plan doesn't go accordingly (which it often doesn't), I get it done anyway.
Sweat & Smiles,
You've been awake for all of one minute and already: you didn't get enough sleep, you don't have enough time and then on and on ... You don't have enough of anything. Not enough time, not enough help, not enough money (ever), you're not enough, you don't have enough, you're not being enough. The day is shot, you'll try harder tomorrow. Or is it? Do you actually have to try harder?
I'm telling you what, the second she giggled and said 'excuse me for living', the energy of the room lifted even higher and we all took a sigh of relief. None of us were perfect, but we were all enough.
In life, this message applies to everything.
I talk to a lot about self-love and while we all agree on the importance it's easy to get stuck on the follow through. One of my clients shared with me a beautiful acronym for HOW, she said you have to be Honest, Open, and Willing. I want to share with you HOW I practice things like self-love and experience more joy and peace in my days!
When I am stuck, angry, scared or hurt I know that my only way out is love and compassion. Trying to control the situation usually ends up dragging it out. Becoming the victim is like digging a bottomless pit. Seeking revenge is like taking the wood from the frame of my house and using it in my fireplace. Those feelings of being stuck, angry, scared or hurt are a part of the shared human experience. Compassion is recognizing that human experience. Compassion is not a relationship between the wounded and the healer. It’s a relationship between equals.
What’s the most compassionate thing you can do when you feel small and hurt? For me it's recognizing that we are not all so far removed from each other. And asking myself "what do we have in common?"
I have to be open to vulnerability, growth and connection. When I am being my authentic self it puts me in a very vulnerable position, some people won’t like me, but it’s in that vulnerability that my authentic self lies and that is my most powerful self. Being open to growth meas I’m open to discomfort. That means I have to challenge the stories I tell myself and my limiting beliefs. When someone shares something uncomfortable with me, or calls me out on my BS, I am open to listening and putting in the work because growth is my M.O. Being open to connection means accepting and loving myself AND others, just as we are!
What do you need to be more open to? I found that getting suggestions from my husband were the most difficult to listen to so we created a way of preparation. We use the word cinnamon (because I don't pronounce it well and it's funny). For example, he'll say cinnamon and whenever I am in the right mindset and prepared for a suggestion, whether it's that minute or two days from then I'll tell him I'm ready to listen.
I have to be willing to let go of shame and practice my rebound rate. Shame is that painful feeling or experience that we are flawed, broken and unworthy of love. It’s different from guilt because guilt says “I did something bad” and shame says “I am bad.” Compassion reminds me that my imperfections aren’t shameful; they are simply reminders that we’re all in this together. Since I’m not meant to aim for perfection I aim for a better rebound rate. I realized that I’ll always have negative experiences, the goal isn’t to avoid them but to work on closing the gap between my negative experience and getting back to my true self.
Willing is the hardest piece of the puzzle because it looks a lot like action. One of my favorite actions is a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. Ho’oponopono, is a gentle practice where you simply say: I forgive you, I’m sorry and I love you.
I'd love to hear about HOW you all are practicing self-love in your day!
Sweat & Smiles,
Social media can sometimes make us feel less than; especially when you view the thousands of posts, pages, and profiles of fitness professionals. You see the posed stances, the fancy yoga moves, and the veins bursting during a tough lift and you feel so far removed from it that you don't even want to start the journey to get there. I get it, I've been there. I was a person that posted the fancy yoga moves that I can't physically do right now (not yet, at least).
I took this photo after hiking to The Overlook at Seneca Rocks and it really got me thinking about what you do not see in the photos... or the posts, pages and profiles. You don't see the hard days in photos. You don't see the work, the pain, or the baggage that comes with the cool picture; but it's the hard stuff: the work, the pain, and the baggage that gets you from one beautiful photo to the next.
This photo was taken at the top of a 1.5 mile mountain. You see this, you see me carrying my toddler, and you know that I'm a personal trainer (and you probably think I workout a lot more than I actually do). Here is what you don't see: multiple stops, my 182 heartrate, the churning stomach, the burning lungs, and all. of. the. breaks. It was so hard. My friends were offering to carry Cannon for me and I was deciding between letting them give it a try and feeling like I couldn't put that on to someone else.
Each time I needed to stop I went through an entire circle of thoughts and feelings; first I would be relieved to rest my legs and catch my breath; then I would consider letting someone else carry him for awhile; then discouraged. I was mad that it was so hard. I was annoyed that it used to be so much easier. I felt less than because there were people (even other mothers with packs) not struggling like I was. Then I would make a decision. I decided that I wanted to get better at this. I wanted to finish. I wanted to get to the point that the way up feels like the end picture looks.
That is the secret. The decision. Not one person you see in a photo started there, and their lives in between those photos are messy, just like yours. The fancy yoga moves you see are of things people practiced for months, if not years. That's not where they started, that's just where they are now. As they start to practice the next move you won't see the videos of the falls, but they are happening. They'll be frustrated, they'll be discouraged, and they'll even see someone else's video who makes it look so easy. And then they'll make a decision. The only difference is the decision.
We're told not to compare ourselves to others but I think we're still missing a couple steps. We should be celebrating each other and above all else, we should be motivated by each other. We are human, we're not so far removed from each other. We stand in different parts of our journeys but we stand on the same ground. We post photos and videos of our lives, the good stuff, the beautiful stuff, the cool stuff but it's the hard stuff that gets us from one beautiful shot to the next. It's the hard stuff that we've all got in common.
The next time you are scrolling a fitness professional's photos wondering what they've got that you don't, the answer is nothing. They aren't equipped with more motivation than you. They were never given a secret formula or a magic pill. The only difference, the only secret, is that they learned the decision is theirs. You are exactly where you need to be, so start there. Start now. Decide to be exactly who you want to be and decide to go exactly where you want to go. The decision is yours.
Sweat & Smiles,
I went to get mexican with a friend and I didn't eat the chips and salsa (or cheese dip). If you know me well, you know what a great feet this is. Chips and salsa ranks high on the list of thing-other-fitness-professionals-may-shake-their-heads-at-me-about; right up there with cheese fries, pizza and every dessert, ever. But I walked out of that mexican restaraunt that day feeling like a million bucks... not stuffed, not sick, not tired... and it was a revelation. Let me pause right here and let you know that I am not telling you that you shouldn't eat something (and I never will). I'm sharing with you a vital piece of a health journey that people rarely fill you in on.
I want to take it all the way back to give you a quick rundown of my history with food. As a child, I was a picky eater. My go-to's were bacon and eggs and toast, or just bread piled high with butter. In high school, sunflower seeds and Hardee's chocolate milkshakes were on the daily. In college, McDonald's breakfast (with a large hazelnut iced coffee), Zul's cheese bread and whatever else college kids eat were regulars. I also drank a lot, and I smoked. Whenever you think I don't get you, I promise I GET YOU.
Fast forward to 2011, I was three years deep in my current profession, and I had cleaned up my act. I ate five small meals a day, a meal every couple hours, and lived by the 80/20 rule (80% of your diet coming from whole foods and 20% considered "treats" or everything else) and my stomach was a complete wreck. It may have been years of mistreatment catching up to me, something I ate along the way, or something that came from emotions. No one knows, including the nearly ten doctors I had seen. Nearing the end of the year I landed myself in the hospital with swollen intestines and no one knew why or what to do. But I knew.
My journey, experience and education led me to Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is a philosophy of eating that makes you the expert of your body and its hunger signals. I mended my stomach by practicing Intuitive Eating and figuring out what worked for me and what didn't. Slowly I was able to incorporate everything back into my diet but over this last year I had noticed I wasn't feeling my best, in fact, I've been feeling pretty terrible. The great part is: I know exactly what to do. I already know what foods work for me and what foods don't, so I'm giving my stomach a rest from the things that don't, and that includes chips and salsa (at least for awhile).
Most diets, programs and "coaches" tell you what to eat. They may give you a plan, a calorie goal or restrict certain foods... and it is the same plan, calorie goal and restricted foods they give to everyone else. The secret key to what most of you are looking for is not someone telling you what to eat but learning HOW TO EAT. So I would like to help you on your journey and get you started on your way of learning how to eat, FOR YOU.
Step One: Let go of your rules.
You've got to give up all the rules and diet mentalities that you've learned. We don't know when we're hungry, we don't know when we're full and we don't know what to eat. The first thing you need to do is let it go and start listening to your body's hunger cues! At some point we became obsessed suppressing our appetites but our hunger cues are our bodies NATURAL way of speaking to us and for our body's to run at optimal performance we need to listen.
Step Two: Keeping A Food Diary... not a food log.
In my personal training app we have a food diary, it doesn't keep track of any numbers... no calories, no macronutrients. There are just sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, water, etc. Someone asked me "but how do I know if I am eating right". And there is our problem. We are looking to numbers to tell us something they'll never be able to. You can use a regular old notebook to track what you ate and things like: how you felt after, your level of hunger before eating, and how full you were when you finished.
Step Three: Eat Without Distraction
My mom dropped Cannon off and when she was giving me a recap of the day said "he only ate half a grilled cheese"; I explained it's not "only". Children are the original intuitive eaters, they won't over eat and they won't undereat and they'll only know to pay attention to their cravings because that's what their body's need. He ate half a grilled cheese because he stopped when he was satisfied. To relearn these kinds of behaviors dedicate one meal a day to eating without distraction; no TV, no phone, no chatting; just you and your food. Pause after a few minutes of eating and check in with yourself. Ask how you feel; are you full? Are you satisfied? I promise you that eating without distraction will teach you more about your food than any other human, program or food tracking app.
These three steps aren't meant to be a lifelong thing. Eventually you may come up with your own rules, you won't have to keep a food diary, and you'll know yourself well enough to chat and eat at the same time. In the beginning it will take some work, and it does take a lot of time; but the time will pass anyway and the difference with Intuitive Eating is: you'll never again have to go back and start over.
Sweat & Smiles,
I'm going to eat all of my favorite things and then start fresh tomorrow! I'll start on the elliptical for thirty minutes a day and once I'm comfortable I'll start "working out". On Monday I'm going to turn it all around! I'll do this diet to get a jumpstart and then I'll change my lifestyle. Does any of this sound familiar? I get it. We've all been there, we've all tried it, sometimes it's worked for a while and then it doesn't.
It is time to make small, lasting changes. The key is to choosing small things and making it SO easy that you can't say no! Here's three simple steps to small, lasting healthy habits!
Step 1: Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
Step 2: Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
Step 3: Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)
Step 1: Set a Reminder for Your New Habit
Picking the correct reminder for your new habit is the first step to making change easier.
What are habits you already have?
- Brushing your teeth
- Taking a shower
- Flushing the toilet
- Eating Dinner
- Plugging in your cell phone
- Getting into bed
- Drinking coffee
- These actions serve as great reminders!
- Other things that happen without fail:
- Traffic light turns red.
- You get a text message.
- A commercial comes on TV.
- A song ends.
- The sun sets.
These serve as great reminders!
Say that your new habit is to be happier. You will say "when a traffic light turns red I'll say three things that I am thankful for". Or that you want to add stretching to your daily routine, you'll say "after I brush my teeth I will spend five minutes stretching."
Step 2: Choose a Habit That’s Incredibly Easy to Start
If you want to start a new habit and begin living healthier and happier, then I have one suggestion that I cannot emphasize enough: start small. In the words of Leo Babauta, “make it so easy that you can’t say no.”
In the beginning, performance doesn’t matter. Become the type of person who always sticks to your new habit. You can build up to the level of performance that you want once the behavior becomes consistent.
Here’s your action step: Decide what want your new habit to be. Now ask yourself, “How can I make this new behavior so easy to do that I can’t say no?”
What is Your Reward?
It’s important to celebrate. (I think that’s just as true in life as it is with habits.)
We want to continue doing things that make us feel good. And because an action needs to be repeated for it to become a habit, it’s especially important that you reward yourself each time you practice your new habit.
It’s all a process, my friend.