Holiday Survival Guide

holiday survival

I’m struggling to grasp the fact we are nearly two weeks into October already.  Like where has the year vanished to? October heralds the start of all things “holiday” in the commercial realm here.

I’m not sure what it’s like in the rest of the world, but here in the U.S. it’s become sadly common place the last few years for stores to just throw all holidays together like some huge smorgasbord you just go in and pick from.

Why yes, I want to look at Christmas trees and lights while I’m picking out orange and black Halloween candy.

Back in the day when I was a wee little girl ( a really long time ago ha) there was a general appreciation for each holiday. It was recognized and then you moved to the next one. The official start to Christmas was after Thanksgiving and you didn’t go get your tree till December.

I’m remember my grandparents being shocked when the neighbor put theirs up before December one year.

One just didn’t break Christmas rules by putting the tree up to early.

And Thanksgiving, well that’s just about swept under the rug and barely given a nod to. If you’re lucky you may find some turkey napkins and fall leaves squished into a small area on one single aisle.

By the way….Do you know Canada has Thanksgiving in October??? Like they just had it… weird… although I was a little jealous they were already having turkey… but I digress….

This isn’t a post about me whining on how commercialized the “holiday” season (Oct-Dec)  has become or how I wish things were simpler, although I do.

No, this is a little post about having a survival fitness guide for the “holiday season”.

I saw the first meme the other day… you know.. one that’s designed to make you feel like a guilty loser for enjoying foods or treats for the holiday? Get out there and work off your food!

Yeah, I think those are awesome too… not really.

I think they are designed to steal your joy over something that should be fun and celebratory, isn’t that what holidays are about?

Family? Food? Friends? More food?

That’s what life is about.

However, all of us want to navigate through these upcoming months and not look like the Butterball turkey come January.  You really can go through these months and not gain weight, I promise.

When I started on my health journey, it was mid October. I stayed the course all through the rest of that year and when I checked in with my doctor in January I had lost 20 lbs.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, I didn’t starve myself or do without. I ate normal almost all of those days, I enjoyed the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I baked, I ate cookies, I nibbled on my favorite chocolate treats, and I enjoyed the season.

I also stayed true to my exercise at the time, every day. I didn’t treat each day like it was a party that I needed to over eat on, I ate in moderation. I didn’t eat till I was miserable on the actual holiday.

I wore form fitting clothes to remind me of my goals. Crazy I know but it works. Trust me, you are much more aware of your body and how you are eating.

So I want you to have your own personal survival guide

This is gonna look different for all of us. It will vary by our goals, our lifestyle and what we are trying to achieve. I’m assuming, you really don’t want to add any extra weight to you.. that’s why you are here.

First of all, if you fall in the camp of already throwing the towel in and proclaiming “I’ll start in January!”

Stop. It.

Seriously, stop thinking like that. There are only a few days in these upcoming months that would be out of the norm for eating purposes. You have days of normal life going on there are no reasons to toss in the towel and view these months as an eating binge.

And… I’ve just told you I lost weight through these months so I know it’s possible. Either that or you maintain your weight.

Next, exercise.

If you aren’t yet at least get out and start walking. Regardless, you want to make time in your day for that. It not only helps with the weight issue more importantly it keeps you sane and focused on days that get busy with all the hustle of the holidays.

One of my fav things I’ve done every Thanksgiving since I started getting myself in shape, is getting up early for a sunrise run.  It centers my mind on what the day is about, let’s me think of all I’m grateful for and blessed with, burns off some calories and energizes me for the long busy day I’ll have as Chief cook and Dessert Master 😛

Food.

Oh there are so many delicious things to sample aren’t there? And pie. Glorious, delicious pie.

I eat the things I love the most. I don’t worry so much about the other stuff. I don’t eat it because “it’s there”. I feel no obligation to eat everything that’s put out, you shouldn’t either. If you can’t really stand Grandma’s sweet potato casserole with gobs of marshmallows, for heavens sake, leave it behind!

I don’t feel deprived or left out. I have what I want in small portions.. with so much food available it doesn’t take much to fill a plate.  I detest that over full feeling so I really try and keep away from doing it.

You need to make your plan now

~ determine what you will and won’t do. This puts you in charge and not just being bounced along day to day,

~ on the actual day be mindful of how you eat. Listen to your body. Trust me, there will be food for days so you don’t need to eat it all at once.

~ don’t over eat or eat “bonus” foods on random days. Eat normally and respect your decisions you’ve made.

~ don’t feel obligated to eat everything that’s put out. Be selective in what you want.

~ do try and limit alcohol and keep your water intake up.

~ do commit to daily exercise.

~ do enjoy your family traditions and foods. Don’t get hung up on how many calories are in things.

~ do remember, you can’t “work off” things you’ve already eaten.  It’s done. Move forward and work out sensibly.

~ do listen to your body. If it’s telling you “enough” then learn to stop. Like I said, food will be around for days 😉

~finally, do set a small goal for yourself to achieve at the end of the season. If you have something you’re mindful of, you will be more likely to stay focused on it.

Make sure you check back in the upcoming weeks for a few more tips and motivation to keep strong and fit through this season.

With some planning, awareness of yourself and each day, you can move through these months enjoying yourself, staying positive, and maybe even dropping a few pounds in the process.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to stay on track during the holidays?

 

 

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I May Resemble Stubborn

It’s afternoon and I’ve landed in my favorite coffee cave to sit for awhile and hopefully churn out something fun, witty, educational, and worth your time reading.

Ok… well one or more of those could be potentially true.

It’s a busy afternoon and I’m listening to the low rumble of customer chatter and overhead elevator music. Weirdly, I can often work best in this type of clamor.

Even though the afternoon is still very warm out a hot coffee sounded appealing and it’s warmth is soothing. I wish I could apply the same warmth to my legs that are now reminding me of all their efforts from this mornings workout.

I really don’t mind the tired ache that comes from a hard workout. I’d always take that over the random “aches and pains” I hear people complain about from doing nothing.

Of course this morning was a bit more than a regular workout. If you follow me then you’ve seen some posts where I’ve talked about my upcoming duathlon in November.

Well it’s 6 weeks out to be precise. I try not to let the ever closing in date mentally play tricks on me. I’ve been training hard and I’ll take my best that day to the race. It’s all I can do.

Today was my second time to do it all, start to finish. Each leg of the run/bike/run course.

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Recovery time after my duathlon practice this morning. It took a lot of stubbornness to get to this point 😉

 

I’ve done different parts before. I’ve run some of it and biked a lot of it. Last week I put it all together.  My plans are to do the entire course once a week till race day.

Even knowing what it all involves, I still take a big gulp before I head out because I have a healthy respect for the toughness of the course.

That old saying “it doesn’t get easier, you get stronger”? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s true.  My body at this point is stronger for the tasks of the course but it still requires a fierce amount of energy and strength to which I have to remind myself, I have in me.

I have a serious amount of stubbornness  that has driven me to get up early and head out to kick my own tail, to teach myself new things and learn from my mistakes.  My Mom used to call me stubborn and hubby still can but I think he means it in a loving way, right?? haha

I’ve never viewed that as a bad thing, you know?  It was, and is, simply a part of my passion.

Stubbornness hasn’t let me give up on things so many times. It hasn’t let me quit when I was tired or feeling like I wasn’t doing my best.  It’s challenged me to push myself to see how far I can go and what I can accomplish. It’s helped me hold on in life when things weren’t easy.

Being a bit stubborn definitely has it’s good and bad points.

Then I came across this quote the other night that really resonated with me and made me think about it all in a different way.

perseverance

I’ve never quite thought of perseverance and stubbornness being close siblings, but it made me think how perseverance to do something is, and can be, born out of stubbornness.

Perseverance ~ steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

Where as stubbornness can be looked at as unyielding, or a refusal to give up or change a thought or position I’ve always considered it more in the sense of being passionate over whatever was at hand. Of course there is a line of stubbornness that is more unyielding and  a non flexible attribute but that isn’t the way I’m considering it for the sake of this post.

It just made me consider that my pursuit of athletic endeavors has had a healthy amount of stubbornness that hasn’t let me give up or quit. Yet, somehow, in that stubbornness a real honest perseverance has been born from that.  It’s interesting to note that  perseverance is a synonym of stubbornness.

I love this particular definition on it ~  dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something.

Now that can definitely be a negative, however in the context of this, I see it as a positive.

Not changing my mind on fitness goals, when I was working to lose weight, or anything else related to my health.  It’s a good thing to not change my position on my health.

You might be able to apply similar things to your own life. True, you might not be training for a duathlon or training for anything at all. But I’m pretty sure you are moving through this world living your life and I hope you have things you aspire to do or achieve.

You might never want to or have a desire to do a single athletic thing. What if you want to go back to school, pursue a new career, try a new hobby, take on a new “thing”.

Gosh, I hope you have something you’re chasing in this life.

I’ll tell you, it will take some stubbornness on your part, an unyielding to give up on it, and somehow that stubbornness will meld beautifully with perseverance and you will find yourself stronger and more focused in the pursuit of your goals and passions.

When I cross that finish line in a few weeks, no matter what, it will be worth it because I chased down my goals, set higher limits for myself, and have overcome things to get to that point.

I’m stubborn like that.

Tell me do you view perseverance or stubbornness as an asset to accomplish things in your life ? What have you accomplished that you feel like you persevered to get to ?

 

Pizza, Moderation And Weight Loss

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Anyone relate?

 

 

I ate pizza the other night for dinner. As you sit there downing your morning coffee you might be thinking… “and WHY are you telling me this?”  Hang with me, will you ? I’m not gonna waste your time telling you what I ate for dinner.  I mean it’s relevant for where I’m going so… hold on.

Pizza might be one of those things viewed as “off limits” or “bad” if you fall in that line of thinking for weight loss and overall lifestyle health.  I mean if you consume a lot of it, well, yeah maybe so.

I want to come to you with a perspective I preach about and believe works for anyone wanting to just live life, be healthy, fit, and not obsess constantly over what goes in their mouth.

I hated those days! Thinking of what I could eat and couldn’t eat. Thinking of when I could have food again because I was hungry and ignoring the signals my body gave me to eat.  Feeling guilty if I ate something “bad”.  Eating more than what satisfied my hunger, eating for my eyes and mouth. Worrying about how many calories I may have had or trying to keep total.

Such a miserable way to live, controlled by food in a host of ways.

So along the way, as I’ve shared before, that having an open relationship with food put me in charge of it. Basically it gave me power to make decisions based on what I wanted to do.

Food, was simply, food.  Some of those foods I knew and understood were to be enjoyed in controlled moderation to reach my goals.  Not with held which can bring on those feelings of deprivation that lead to finally eating to much of it or just throwing in the towel.

Healthy, nutritious foods were meant to make up the mainstay of my daily diet.  I learned to eat those the majority of the time.

If I had a celebration or was going out to eat, I already determined what I was allowing myself to have.

With that balance I moved forward. The weight slowly and steadily came off, I enjoyed life and didn’t obsess over how I was eating or not eating.

On a side note, this month marks 8 years since I started this process. I think this might be working 😉

So there’s a lot that goes on not just physically, but mentally as well.

Knowing and understanding that I can have any food I want let’s me make mindful decisions over what I have and when. I’ve learned to think more about what I’m eating and assess it’s importance of going in my body.  I also let go of the “last supper” mentality.

You know what that is right? It’s that attitude that says… “eat all your favorite foods up now ’cause you’re going on a diet and never, ever having them again!”

When you know you can still have your favorite cereal, snack, ice cream or a baked potato you don’t feel the need to consume it all at once.

Pizza. You’re sitting there thinking, where is this going with pizza?  For me now days, that means a piece of pizza with plenty of salad or veggies alongside of it.  I have pizza, and eating plenty of healthy, low calorie, nutrient dense veggies fills me and satisfies my hunger. Because I’ve learned to listen to my body and eat enough to satisfy it but not keep eating because it’s in front of me I’ve basically learned how to have it in small amounts.

No, I don’t feel deprived because I’m not eating more of it.  I love making mindful choices. It’s empowering to choose your food and enjoy it, whatever it is.

Getting on a path to a healthier lifestyle and way of eating involves really learning to be mindful of what you eat, and how much you eat. It means you really learn to listen to those natural God given signals in your belly and follow them.  So often we are simply “trained” to eat at certain times and follow certain social cues instead of just listening to our bodies.

If you are working to lose weight and think you must forego everything you love, rethink that.

Learn to follow a few basic rules or cues from your body

Eat when you’re hungry. Sounds crazy, I know. Just learn to do it.

Eat nutrient dense foods most of the time.

If you choose to have a food that doesn’t perhaps fall in that category, determine what you will allow yourself.  Eat slowly and learn to appreciate what it really tastes like.

Build in veggies with every meal. They are filling and beyond good for you. Not only that you won’t  be tempted to gorge on your pizza or whatever you’re having.

Satisfy your hunger but learn to stop when you feel comfortable. This takes practice, especially if you’ve been used to over eating for a long time. The point is to keep on practicing till you learn to read those signals.  Your body only needs a certain amount of food to deal with it’s hunger. Anything else turns into “head” eating.

These are things that I have slowly learned along these past years. It’s taken practice. Fail, repeat, keep going till it started to feel normal to me.

I think really tuning into your body is huge.  I think it’s also important as I’ve mentioned before, to understand why you eat beyond hunger. Our emotions are a powerful drive for over consumption of food. Learn to identify reasons that make you eat beyond hunger, this will give you a huge advantage if you’re trying to lose weight.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. It’s filled with delicious foods we enjoy. With practice and intentional, purposeful choices you can have all your favorite foods and lose weight too.

Have you learned any tips or tricks that has helped you successfully lose weight and has been sustainable for you ?

Your Schedule And Exercise

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Meetings. School, work, volunteer groups seems like no matter what kind of group you may be involved with at some point they have meetings you attend. Some you may be able to get out of but something like, work, you really don’t get an option.

When you have a meeting with the boss you better make sure your happy little self is there ready to do what needs to be done.

A scheduled meeting with yourself to get your sweat on should be no different.

I’ve been asked how I manage to “stick with” exercise. I’ve been told that my “dedication” is to be admired. Often the person I’m talking with is wanting to know what the magic potion is that has helped me maintain my exercise regime for 8 years now.

I hate to tell you, but there isn’t any magic potion.

In the beginning it involved some whining and complaining ( to myself) but I made myself  go do it.

And those are accurate words… made myself.

No athletic clothes, no heavy sweating, no techie gear, no athletic goals dancing in my head. Just a decent pair of shoes, I’d dutifully walk off my 2 miles.

I wasn’t excited about doing it. I did it because I knew I needed to and if I wanted to live a healthy life I would move my body purposefully every single day.

I made a commitment to it. If I couldn’t do it in the morning ( my preferred time) then I’d come home in the afternoon, change shoes, and go get it done.

In time something crazy started happening….

I don’t remember exactly when the shift occurred. The shift from dutifully doing it and checking it off my list, to something I looked forward to and began to guard and schedule as anything else important in my life.

In a 24 hour span of time, my workouts sessions were my time I scheduled with myself.  I learned to view them as important as anything else I’d be doing in my day.

I learned to structure the rest of my day and appointments around my scheduled workout time, allowing for clean up and getting to my destination.

Some mornings are tight but I’ve become a wizard at transforming from sweaty, grime crusted athletic girl to someone who smells clean and looks respectable in an almost Ninja fast way.

Why? Because those meetings are important to me. They set the tone for my day. Workouts wake up my body, clear the night cobwebs and get my blood flowing. If I miss it, I honestly feel “off”.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.

When you commit to something and faithfully follow through it turns into this crazy thing called… a habit. Once that habit is established it doesn’t cross your mind to make excuses to not do it.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road and putting miles under me is a great way to learn things about myself.

I haven’t learned those things by not keeping my scheduled meetings to be there.

Over these past years I’ve seen what I’m made of when I have to dig deeper into myself for the challenge in front of me. I’ve learned I can continue to push past limits and head to new ones, and then push past those too.

In keeping those meetings with myself, fitness has taught me so much.

I’ve learned more about discipline, consistency, hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, goal setting, the strength of not just my body ( which at times I’m amazed at what it can do) but how it’s forged a fierce mental toughness in me which comes in handy for the rest of life. I’ve learned with training and determination I can do things I used to think were only for an elite group of people.

And in a cool way, I learned that I was pretty good at it.  Something else I would’ve missed out on not keeping those early morning meetings with myself.

So what suggestions do I give to people?

As mentioned above, that is one of the things I get asked mainly because I think people do find it so hard to stick with. They want ideas and help to get rolling (and hopefully ) staying with it.

They have a genuine desire but I hear them, it’s hard in the beginning! You have to fight back against all the things that come at you, especially yourself.

Excuses can be easily made to justify not getting it done. Work, family, school, other activities all clamor for our attention and we wonder if it isn’t easier to just let it go.

So here are my pointers, for what it’s worth.

~Determine what time of day is best for you. This will be a totally personal thing depending on the schedule of your life and if you function best in the morning or evening.  Find a time.

~ Start with something you enjoy doing.  You will stay with it if you actually like what you do. And why you’re doing that, be thinking of something else you can do. Having a couple activities keeps boredom from setting in.

~ Just start. Don’t wait for Monday or till after a holiday or your grandmothers birthday. Just get up and start.

~ There are days you’re gonna think you’re to tired. Do it anyway. You’ll feel invigorated I promise.

~View it as important as anything else in your day and don’t allow it to not get done. ** I will say here, sometimes life just happens, even for me. If things go beyond your control and it just doesn’t, just regroup and get at it again the next day.**

~ Zealously guard your time. In the beginning when I started exercising I kept at it because I felt like the alcoholic who, if they had a drink would fall off the wagon. Only I worried if I made an excuse one day, then it would lead to another day, and I’d find myself in the land of excuses again for dropping my exercise habit. Honestly, it scared me enough to make me stay at it. Sometimes a little fear doesn’t hurt.

~ Consistency and discipline have payoffs. Not just the side effects of helping you lose weight or how your physique may change with it, but you will build that discipline into a new habit, and new habits have this crazy way of sticking.

~ Be kind to yourself. Remember an unexpected set back or off day isn’t a reason to forget the idea. Several years ago I hurt my knee, and no, not from running. It was from learning to ride a motorcycle 😛 the doctor wanted me off running for 6 weeks. I was devastated. But I was more terrified with that much time off I’d be out of my routine and not want to go back to it. Not true. I counted the days and when I got back on the road for the first time, I literally cried. ( something I do not recommend as running with a snotty nose hinders your breathing a bit haha 😉 ) I cried to be back out. I cried that my desire hadn’t gone away. I cried for the pure freedom of doing something I had been learning to love.

That’s when I realized that exercise thing really had stuck.

Yes, there are days now I wake up and as my brain is focusing on my training for that morning I think am I gonna have all I need to do this ? Of course that’s my “foggy, I haven’t had coffee yet to remind me that, yes I do” brain speaking.

I do have all I need. I love what I can do and am thankful to be able to do it. I’m thankful I pushed on in those early days and didn’t quit.

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This is what happens when you stick with exercise. You’re snapping a selfie after finishing your first round through the entire duathlon course. #runbikerun

 

If you’re struggling to get started understand we’ve all been there. Just make a commitment to yourself and get rolling with one day at a time. Schedule your meetings with yourself and before you know it, you’ll be eager to show up for them.

Tell me have you overcome the lack of exercise in your life? How did you do it? Or is this an area you still struggle with ?

~

Food Choices Deprivation Or Empowerment

Pass Junk food

 

“Don’t you miss eating fun foods?” I was asked that question one day…. this person obviously didn’t know my eating habits super well or they’d know my weakness for some occasional chocolate, powdered sugar donuts, or better yet, French fries.

Years ago as I embarked on my health journey, that may have been my mentality. It would’ve have been my mentality if I had banned foods or put them off limits or treated them like I’d never, ever get to have them again.

Not making foods “good” or “bad” has helped me be successful, and stay successful on this path.  I think this theory will work for the majority of people wanting to be healthy.

Oh, in the past I can remember parties or get togethers and “abstaining” from whatever foods/desserts I thought I shouldn’t have.

Let’s be honest, that kinda stuff flat out sucks.

But here’s the weird kicker. What starts out in the beginning as something that feels out of your routine, or daily habit, can slowly be transformed into a new habit and permanent change in our lifestyle.

If you eat “junk” food and it’s your thing to go to, then your taste buds have definitely been trained to eat that way. I’d like to think all of you were raised by moms who attempted to feed you good, healthy food in the beginnings of your life.

As a free willed individual, you grew up and did your own thing. That might involve not eating what mom tried to get you to eat but instead opting for other less desirable choices.

You get it… you train yourself to eat foods that support your health and give you energy or you’re comfortable eating foods that satisfy your emotions and mouth and offer no or minimal nutritional value.

It does make me sad when people make jokes about eating foods that support good health and they don’t participate in eating that way. I’m over here thinking… “that’s your body your living in, the only one you get!”

A mental shift has to occur for anyone to be successful in weight loss and eating in a manner that supports good health.

If you view not getting to eat “junk” food as deprivation, you will not move forward. If you view eating well as punishment, you will not move forward.

We all face temptations when it comes to foods. I have my own that are best for me to stay away from.

I know what it’s like to be in the store, hungry, and all those things I know I don’t need seem to taunt me to buy them.

After all, I’m hungry, right?

But then there’s the stronger part of my mind and body that knows better…. I know how empowering it is to know it’s there and leave it. I know how empowering it is to make good food choices and how I feel after the fact.

And yes, if you are hungry in the store ( a practice I do not recommend 😉 ) there is a plethora of foods that can help you that are healthy to snack on…. really. You don’t have to be drawn in at the candy when you are checking out.

It all takes practice. And determination. And failure.

Yes. I said failure.

You aren’t going to nail this each and every time. In the beginning it will be a struggle. With repeated efforts of success and failure you will eventually have more success than not ( this is where determination comes in… and a bit of stubbornness doesn’t hurt either)

As you practice this you will develop new strength, new strength is empowering when you walk away from something. It gradually turns into something you will just automatically do.

Assess what it is. Think about if you really need it. Think about if it will support your health and fitness goals.

Make a choice.

And you know what, sometimes, it’s ok to get that candy bar.

I had done a long endurance session recently and by midafternoon my body was wanting just all out pure sugar. I’ve come to know this feeling occasionally since I’ve become involved in endurance sports.

I intentionally bought a candy bar. I can’t tell you the last time I had one. It was delicious. That feeling went away after. I haven’t wanted one since.

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It was good…

 

No guilt.

I fully knew I could’ve gotten a “healthier” treat. I also made a mindful decision that I wanted to get that candy bar.

It is empowering when you are in mindful control of making choices regarding what goes in your mouth and how you eat.

As you learn to make eating healthier a priority, you not only feel better and are more energetic, your tastes for the lesser quality food really will diminish. In time, you will find those desired foods will have less pull and it becomes quite easy to ignore them and never have them, and yeah, you won’t feel “deprived” either. You will however, feel empowered.

A successful healthy lifestyle will involve balance. Good days and bad days. The key to success is to keep moving forward. Learn to enjoy how you feel when you make more aware choices of what you eat and when you choose a better option.

In time, it will come almost effortlessly to you.

Tell me was there or has there been a time you’ve felt deprived because you didn’t think you could have some type of food? How do you feel when you make a better choice or a more purposeful decision in what you eat?

Yoga, Again.

Yoga. I’m at it again. Well, I’m attempting to be at it again perhaps I should say.  I went to some classes a year or so ago and have been doing my own thing.

I took home what I learned and at night while I watched some tv I’d get on the floor and roll out my muscles and then put some of those moves into practice. It felt rather nice to stretch and work my body in a different way than what my usual fare was.

But I haven’t done any organized classes since then… until now… and I’m thinking it will make a good “rest day” activity.

With all my training for the duathlon, I am definitely kicking my own tail and figured a little yoga could keep me loose for doing what I love.

Last week was my first class. Or is it? Is it my first class or a continuation of what I had already learned ?? ha

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Hair and make up done with my athletic clothes?? I feel like a poser haha  Off to my first ( in awhile) yoga class…

 

 

Anyway, it all came back to me really fast. And I quickly remembered a few things about it…

Yoga is a lot more slow paced

I’m fairly high energy and thrive on it athletically. Coming into a yoga class where all the sudden it’s single moves, being held, and a focus on my breathing …. yeah… a different game from flying down the road on a bike or running for miles.

There’s a reason why yoga is all about a turning inward, an inner mental focus and stillness.

It is a physically and mentally calming activity. I will freely admit it takes some work to rein in my active thoughts and just key in on what I’m doing, how I feeling, my breathing , and nailing whatever pose we are being led in.

Yoga forces me to slow down.

But before we go on… what IS yoga… exactly?

Maybe when you hear the word the mental image comes to you of a seasoned man sitting on top of a mountain lost in meditation for days on end.

I tease, but I’m sure there are images you may get when you hear the word.

Yoga is an ancient practice that has become increasingly popular. it is a meditative practice that leads you to focus on your inner self and to quiet your mind and thoughts.

Supposedly the reason why there are no mirrors in classes is so that you can focus on what you are doing and not be worried about what you or your neighbor look like in a pose.

The goal during yoga is to challenge yourself physically but not feel overwhelmed. At this point your focus is on your breath while your mind is accepting and calm.

I know from what I do on the road, how very important my breathing is to what I do. Deep, even  paced breathing serves me well not only on the long stretches, but more importantly when I’m doing things like taking on big hills when I need my breathing strong and even and not shallow and rapid.

BUT get me in yoga pose, and I need to remind myself to breathe! ha

So the act of yoga is to quiet us, to quiet and relax our minds as well as our bodies. It’s almost humorous to me writing that line… because some of those moves are just flat out hard and not necessarily “relaxing” for me although it seems to come later after I’ve been stretched out well. Maybe it’s ’cause I’m still new at it and in time I will reach that perfect state immediately.

Are there other benefits to yoga?

Besides the obvious benefits of relaxation and mental clarity there are many benefits to actively practicing yoga.

On a physical level, yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance.

About that strength thing… I remember my first class finding out how many moves really do require a great deal of strength. It was nice to have some strength to fall back on in those poses. I can see with consistent effort, yoga would build more body strength.

On an energetic level, yoga teaches you how to cope better with stress by cultivating a sense of ease in both active or passive poses.

On a psychological level, yoga helps to cultivate mindfulness by shifting your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose or exercise.

Trust me, you are aware of the sensations holding some of those poses!

Yoga is also good for circulation, improved posture, flexibility, it could help with fighting arthritis, builds muscle strength, protects your spine, and  yoga could also help you become a more conscious eater as you become more mindful of yourself. Yoga can also help you become more focused as you have to learn to focus on the present. It can also improve your balance and better balance means less falls. This is especially a problem as we get older. Practicing balance moves could prevent falling.

Also, another by product of yoga is deep sleep, some studies suggest. Of course I’ve found long rides or runs can also contribute to it as well 😉

My yoga goals

If I want to have a flexible, loose body for the things I do on the road, yoga will be good to help keep my body loose and flexible.

Going to a once a week class will solidify moves in my head and then I can continue to use it as a rest/recovery activity in the evenings.

I need time to slow down in a physical way. Yoga reminds me that my high energy needs to be tempered sometimes and that’s ok.

I want to stay bendable! My instructor had us in this pose that was almost a half split and she encouraged us that with a little practice it would come to us. I did the splits ages ago but you know, I grew up and stopped doing stuff like that.

Back bends, head stands, the splits… activities we seem to put away as we get older. She said she never stopped doing them.

It was a reminder to me, and to all of us really, if we want to keep using our body and have it be strong and flexible, we need to always be using it.

Age isn’t an excuse to not use our bodies.

Stretching, bending, pushing ourselves a bit more shouldn’t be limited to a time in our lives, but it should be something we do ALL our lives to be strong and productive so we aren’t limited  in the physical bodies we live in.

Use it or lose it.  I don’t want to lose it.

It’s why we get weak, we don’t use our bodies to lift, bend, stretch and move.  It’s why we stop being able to run because we act like it’s an activity for just the playground. It’s why we allow ourselves to sit on the sidelines as we get older because we haven’t used our bodies in the way they are meant to be used.

And a few of my favorite poses I realllllyy like….

BEGINNERS-Pose-Child-Pose
Childs pose. This is my go to move to just stretch my back, shoulders and spine. This is a “rest” move during yoga. It feels amazing.

 

front fold
Front fold. I love this for stretching out my legs and believe it or not, hanging upside down can feel really good.

 

yoga poses - Tree Pose position (vrksasana)
Tree pose. Excellent for balance practice. This is fairly easy for me but I attribute it to all those single dead lifts I do 😉

 

warrior
I saved my favorite for last. I love all of these poses. They do require a great deal of strength and maybe I enjoy doing them because they feel strong and powerful.

 

 

Tell me. Are you a yoga lover? Have you tried it before? Or actively practice it now? What benefits have you seen with it ?

 

 

 

 

The Journey Of Ordinary

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Ordinary ~  noun~  what is common place or standard.

It had been one of those whirlwind days for me when I realized it was already midafternoon. My morning was behind me and I was full speed into the rest of my day. I received a message from my husband that at first seemed, odd.

“I rarely say anything about your blog other than to discuss the content of what you wrote on that day, nor do I ever really disagree with you on something you wrote. But I’m going to disagree with you on this…”

Well obviously, he had my attention. He is pretty much the only one who’s opinion I want or care about and of course I was wondering what he had issue with in regards to my writing that day.

I waited for the rest of his message to come in…..

“You wrote that you’re an “ordinary” athlete.  I disagree. You are far from “ordinary” as an athlete.”

Obviously, I wasn’t expecting that. Obviously, he couldn’t have said anything cooler to me.

Of course, he was picking it out of the entire context of my post that day. I was simply using myself as an example of someone who wasn’t like… you know… an elite athlete or even one who had been an athlete through school or something like that.

I got what he meant. I know that I do a lot more athletically than the majority of people my age, heck, even those a lot younger. I guess I’ve become so accustomed to doing what I do, I forget that normal people think it’s weird 😛

Here’s where I’m going.

I used ordinary for a reason.

I wanted ( and still want) people to relate to a woman who had no athletic back round,  and who had no interest in any kind of serious athletic events. A woman who was literally smack in the land of “middle aged” who had taken care of everyone around her but herself for the longest time. Middle aged, carrying more weight than she needed, out of shape, with a family history of (potential) health problems in the future if she didn’t change up her ways.

It’s a standard thing to tell people I really started off as a “reluctant walker”. I knew I needed to do something so I dutifully logged my 2 mile walk every day. No matter what, I did it. I did it till it got into the pattern of a new habit.

I grumbled. I complained. I whined.

An over weight, middle aged, ordinary wife, mom, sister, daughter, jack of all trades, woman just kept at it each day.

I had no lofty athletic goals dancing anywhere in my mind… at all… in any direction. If anyone told me I could be a strong athlete, I would’ve laughed. The idea seemed preposterous.

Funny thing about making new habits….

They stick.

New habits turn into new desires. New goals. New plans.

What I didn’t know as an ordinary woman, out on the road, building that new habit, not only was it changing my body, it was changing my mind.

I was learning more about myself than I previously understood.

~ my body could go farther!

~ it could walk faster!

~ that walk could be turned into short runs!

~ those short runs could be turned into longer runs!

When I’d come back tired, I’d think about what I had been able to do. I developed a new appreciation for what my body was capable of, that I hadn’t given it credit for. I saw how it over time, began to adapt and change from the activities I put it through.

My weight dropped off.  I got stronger. Muscles showed up that hadn’t been there. I developed a great endurance capacity.  My mind was getting stronger. ( that, is where the real playing field is boys and girls)  you get your mind strong, you can own the world.

Somehow, I managed to sign up for my first race which was a half marathon ( #overachiever) I found out later that most people start with a 5K.

I just kept moving forward. It’s safe to say at this point I was getting hooked. I actually liked what I was doing.  I looked forward to exercise.

Year, after steady year. New goals, new plans, new dreams.

They didn’t come all together, those goals.

Heavens no.

Safe to say I would’ve felt enough fear? uncertainty? to cause me to run the other way if those things all were presented to me at once.

I was just, you know, an ordinary woman, turning into an athlete.  That’s not said with any vain thought…. it’s just an acknowledgment of where I am now.

I am strong. I am capable of doing more physically than I ever would’ve imagined. I am an athlete.

If I look at where I am today, and where I’ve come from, and what I can do now, then yeah, I guess I’d agree with hubby that I’m not “ordinary”.

Becoming a good athlete has been born from hours and hours of work, sacrifice, dedication, tears, tired muscles, frustrations, down right stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give up.

This is your reminder…..

This is what I want you, others, anyone I interact with, to remember. If an “ordinary” woman like myself can accomplish goals and events she never would have imagined, you my dear reader, can do anything you set your mind to.

If you’ve entertained ideas on doing something specific, write down the steps you need to move that direction. If you just think you’re only goal at this point is to get off the sofa, well, go you! Do it. You never know where the path from the sofa may lead to.

Don’t let your thinking be crowded with thoughts that only certain people can do certain things.

Extraordinary things can happen when “ordinary” people get to work.

Tell me something cool you’ve accomplished that seemed impossible or that you never thought you’d see yourself doing. Did you ever feel to “ordinary” in the sense you thought you didn’t have what it would take to do it ?