Willing dreams into reality

 

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Yesterday was my half-birthday.  I have six more months until I leave my twenties forever and enter into a new decade of being.  For some people, entering 30 is a rite of passage for which they never want to encounter; my Mom, for example, is still and forever 29.  Others react with apathy while more and more people are spouting that “30 is the new 20.”  Like everything in life, getting older has mixed reviews.

Growing up, I had many, many people tell me that I was mature for my age. I looked, dressed and acted older.  People would joke that I was like a mom in my 40’s when I was 22.  There is nothing wrong with a mom in her 40’s, but I just wanted to be 22.  I don’t regret my important life decisions but do realize that by not taking care of my health and fitness when it was so easily attainable, I missed out on some of the fun.  Because of that, for the past few years I have had this wish in my head that I wanted to be fit and around 120 pounds by the time I turned 30.  For my height and body type that is an acceptable range in which to be.  Sometime around the time my son was born or shortly before, I purchased a weight tracking scale and set the goal to 135.  That was my soft goal to reach since it would take me at least 40 pounds to get down there.  I’d set sweeping changes and lofty goals and for a couple weeks-or months-things would work, but once the motivation train got derailed it was off the tracks for good.  Though I would be ten pounds away, I’d then rocket back up because the small, everyday lifestyle changes had not been set in place.  This week I hit that soft goal and am ready to take it all the way!

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Once I found the 21 Day Fix and 22 Minute Hard Corps programs, things clicked into place for me.  Though I enjoy the challenge of the exercises in them, it was the food component that really solidified my weight loss.  I’m still not perfect, but I love having a system in place to keep me on the wagon.  When I turned 29 last year, I knew it was time to get my health on track and the pressure was getting to me.  I wanted to at least feel and look my age and not feel so tired and achy.  I finally reached out to my coach, started the program, became a coach and have spent this year teaching myself the discipline that I lacked in my 20’s.  My energy and excitement came back in spades and I even found more ways to incorporate healthy foods and fitness into a new normal for my daily routines.

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Now I’m finding new ways to bike instead of drive for extra fun fitness.

I have also spent this year learning to love my body, the marks left from having two wonderful children, the strength in my arms and thighs, etc.  I’m also learning that perspective is everything.  I was excited in January when my little black opera dress fit again!  I used to wear it in college to fancy events and for a while I couldn’t even put it on.  When I put it on yesterday, it was loose and looked better than when I wore it in college!

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   Seeing myself as who I am, at this age and in this moment is much more important than who I think I should be.  This is a lesson I want to remember and repeat so that as I grow older I will continue to take care of my body and love myself in the stage I’m in.  I’m so close to my fitness goals for the year that I’m positive I will achieve them by my birthday.  I also have the tools to maintain them, the small, daily routines and tricks and support to keep up the good work.  I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought, tougher than I gave myself credit for and braver than I expected.  I’m ready to take on my 30’s, 40’s, 50’s… But I also want to enjoy each stage I’m in to the fullest so that I can look back and have a lifetime of wonderful memories in which to pass on to the next generation.

 

 

 

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Depth of an Ocean

I love this quotation by Rumi:

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

     Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by life.  There are so many things I want to do, places to go, things to learn, opportunities to explore… When I think of all the things I could do every day, and all the things I don’t do, I feel like a drop in the ocean.  In the swirl of life, with kids and responsibilities and chores and bills, I can feel as insignificant as that single droplet, trying to stay afloat, yearning to distinguish myself amidst the multitude of others who live life like I do.  Am I living my life to the fullest? Did I chose the right road to travel?  Should my life look more like that other person’s life?  Am I doing enough with my life?

     Then, I think of that quotation.  I have the whole spectrum of emotions to choose from at any given moment.  Having suffered from depression at times in my life, I remember that feeling of utter hopelessness.  I also remember the euphoria of the best times in my life, like gazing at a beautiful summer landscape from the peak of a Pennsylvanian mountain while growing life inside of me.  I am a culmination of the experiences and actions of my past, and each and every day I have an entire ocean of actions in which to choose my destiny.

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     What does that mean for me today?  It means I can take a breath and focus on today.  The tide changes with each sunrise and moonrise; I too can choose to change like the ocean, with fluidity, with transparency, with frequency.  Since December I’ve been changing my body with small actions, that like drops of water gathered together are starting to make an ocean of change.  I’m 30 pounds lighter, healthier, happier and more fit than I have been in a long time.  What changes are you going to make today?  Which drop of water are you going to add to your life?  You are an ocean of potential.  Instead of being swept away, add each drop until you flood your being with radiance and joy.

 

Perseverance

Perseverance: continually moving forward despite obstacles trying to get in your way.

Perseverance has never been my strong suit.

Passion I have in abundance.

Optimism and enthusiasm come naturally.

Talent and tenacity are familiar friends.

But persistence and perseverance are strangers I’ve recently invited into my acquaintance.

I’m more familiar with avoidance.  I put off hard decisions because I’m afraid of making the wrong one.  I don’t like the initial pain of dealing with problems, and so put it off, realizing that the pain will just increase over time but not ready to deal with it right now.  I don’t like the fact that something will be imperfect, but if my immense burst of energy cannot take care of it initially I move on to something quicker, something simpler.  That leaves me with projects unfinished, plans unmade, phone calls and letters unsent and weight unlost.  I could be good at so many things with perseverance.

Music has been the passion with which I’ve been the most persistent.  Being involved in the Choral Arts Society of Washington and submerging myself in the learning of new music has been the reward of years of perseverance in the honing of my skill and practice in vocal training.  I know that I can succeed and persevere if I put my mind to it, I have that fire within me, but I need the motivation to take that heat and transfer it into other areas of my life.

Since weight loss has always been a struggle, I have made a habit of avoidance that I am working to break.  I have FINALLY decided to take control of what I put into my body and how I treat my body, and I am going to continue to my goals no matter what this time.  Just because I’m ill or there’s a special occasion with sweets or I injure myself doesn’t mean that I will undo all the good work I’ve put into myself.  I will keep putting the small stones, one after another, day by day, on each other until my wall is finally built.

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Here are some other quotations about perseverance in which to inspire your own journey:

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
Maya Angelou

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Perseverance gets you from the bottom to the top.

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher

“To reach a port we must set sail –
Sail, not tie at anchor
Sail, not drift.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Excellence does not need you to be perfect, but to be dedicated to what you commit yourself to.”
Wayne Chirisa

“Life is like crossing a river. If you take a huge step-aim for too bigger dreams-then the current will knock you off your feet and carry you away.
The way to do it is small steps, you will take hold of life. You will get there in the end.”
Louis Sachar

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Perseverance is like crossing a long bridge.

“Add persistence to patience, you get perseverance. Multiply perseverance, you get success.”
Manuela George-Izunwa

 

May you persevere in your endeavors this week.

 

Motivational Monday: Statues

When you see a beautiful person or an accomplished person-

someone whom you admire-

you are looking at a lifetime of experiences and effort.

They are like exquisite statues.

These statues were not made instantaneously.

Instead, they begin,

like us all,

as a lump of clay or stone or a block of wood.

Over time, they are chipped or heated or molded,

broken and weathered,

until they overcome the pressure and transform into something amazing.

Perhaps you,

who feels so inferior-

closer to the clay-

just need to remember that you are at the beginning of your statue.

Go live life and gain the experiences which will create your inspiring mold.

Picture ©Myrthe Krook/ Dreamstime Stock Photos

If I Can Help Somebody

As a long time choral singer in some fabulous choirs, I have been rather fortunate to sing in some special concerts.  In both high school and college I was able to sing beautiful music in wonderful international venues around the world.  Of my special choir memories, I remember singing the reverential “Beautiful Savior” in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland, and the Duruflé Requiem in Carnegie Hall, and the Mozart Requiem in the Sydney Opera House; I also remember with tears singing “Deep River” in my college choir room the evening after my friend and fellow choir member passed away suddenly.  Our grief as a collective could only be brought forth in song, and our very souls were in the notes that poured forth that night, music crying more passionately than tears ever could, sending our sorrow and our anger and our hope from our spirits to the beautiful soul who left the world, going into the ether that only music can reach.

Last night I was privileged to be singing in the Kennedy Center as a part of a multi-choral, multi-generational, multi-racial tribute concert to honor the spirit and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  It is an annual concert that started the year after Dr. King’s passing, and last night’s performance was one that will be filed in my memory of truly special performances.  There were several times when the music was so potent that I was in tears, feeling the same sorrow and anger and hope of a people whose culture is rife with burdening the injustices and hurts this country has put upon them.  Since I’m white in appearance (yet half Hispanic), come from a middle class family and have lived a relatively comfortable life, I cannot fully relate to the struggles and culture of my American friends of African descent.  But I recognize the music.  I recognize the chords of pain, of grief, of loss, of anger, of compassion and of hope.

The 2016 Humanitarian Award winner Bryan Stevenson who was honored last night made a passionate appeal that deeply resonated with me.  He reminded us that we need to talk about and be involved in those issues that make us uncomfortable, because nobody changed the world by doing what was comfortable.  The injustices of the world won’t go away if we close our eyes to them, instead our vision becomes feeble and when we are finally forced to open our eyes again the world will look wholly unfamiliar.  We need to be out there doing, saying, recognizing and educating everyone, reminding them that things can be fixed if we as a people can some together to say, “Things are broken.  People are hurting.  We need to put first our humanity and then our pride to fix the system that keeps disenfranchising the minority, the impoverished and the weakest in our society.”  Our country is chronically ill and we need to get healthy again.

Last night reminded me of why I love the things I do.  I love singing because I love that music transcends all boundaries to touch the hearts of the people listening.  I love being a mother because I love sharing my heart and life with those unblemished souls who can learn how to become better people that I ever hope to be.  My dream is to one day open a health and wellness center so that people can feel their best, body mind and soul.  That lead me to becoming a Beachbody coach, motivating and inspiring others who struggle with getting healthy the way I did.  But more importantly, I am reminded that healthy individuals make healthy decisions, and healthy people can breathe life into a dying society.  I want to become more of an activist facing the injustices I see around me.  I really do.  But, while I figure out how best to do that, I’ll devote my time to inspiring people into health.  Not just weight loss, but real, life-changing health.  That is my passion.  The song in which we ended the concert summed up my revelation nicely:  “If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he is trav’ling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain.”

 

 

3 Day Refresh: lighten up

After finishing the 3 Day Refresh, I feel…lighter.  I lost 1.8 lbs during the 3 days, but more surprisingly, I lost an inch in my chest, waist and hips, plus at least half an inch in my arms and thighs.  I went through the program step by step, eating berries or apple with my Shakeology in the morning, the mid morning fiber sweep, a salad with my vanilla shake at lunch, hummus and veggies and tea during the afternoon, and a side of veggies with my dinner vanilla shake.  Plus, LOTS of water throughout the day.  Seriously, I had a 64 oz container filled with water that I drank and refilled many times over the last 3 days.  Here are opinions, comments and recommendations of using this specific detox.

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My 64 oz water buddy

Continue reading “3 Day Refresh: lighten up”

A story of excess

I love excess. I don’t want to love it, but I do. I binge watch my favorite shows on Netflix. I read my favorite books until I can’t stay awake anymore. I can’t go to the store to only get one thing- a ten minute trip to Ikea? Ha! Of course not! When I get excited about something it takes over my life for a period of time, it consumes me, until I get my fill.

This predilection also extends to food. I have spent many years trying to undo my penchant for decadence; years of bakery breads and delicious sweets, beers and butters, cakes and cordials all memorialized in the weight on my hips and beyond. Is the instant gratification worth the extra pounds and loss of energy? Logically, no. Emotionally, it depends on what is triggering me at the moment and how severe my craving.
I’ve always craved food. I’ll visualize a specific food (or even restaurant) and am not satisfied until I’ve satiated my desire. That’s why I was willing to drive 45 minutes away and spend big bucks on some Belgian waffles or drive around in circles looking for non existent parking to get a falafel- I have always felt like a slave to my cravings.

I finally decided that enough was enough and jumped into the 21 Day Fix program. I waited until after the holidays so that I could have a better chance of success, away from food temptations, to begin. What I like best about the program is that it is has great tools to combat excess. The containers are obviously tools for portion control, to teach moderation. The exercises also are concise but challenging, which has helped me stick with it. I’ve done exercise programs before, but I usually start them and overload myself at the beginning instead of slowly working up to heavier weights or more endurance, pushing myself past my limit, usually because I think I’m in better shape than I am, but also because I am an expert at consuming myself in excess.
So far with two rounds of the 21 Day Fix program I have done very well managing my cravings and curbing my excess. When I fill a yellow container with pasta it may seem like too little at first, but after eating it covered with veggies and proteins I realize that I’m actually full; all those times I formerly would grab a second helping because I loved the taste were just superfluous.

That doesn’t mean I have gotten rid of all my cravings though. The second week I dreamt of dinner rolls. In that dream I was throwing away my husband’s rolls because I told him they weren’t allowed at home. He was not happy in that dream, and a little chagrined when I told him the next day as well. That week I allowed myself one cheat meal, and although the meal itself fit into my portion allowance, I allowed myself one restaurant roll. It was so delicious and even more so because it was a special treat.
I have had a few special treats while on this program, but because I consciously make decisions about what and when I eat, allowing myself healthy treats weekly and an unhealthy treat occasionally, it really helps to mitigate my cravings. I now tell myself, “Yes, I really want that, but I’ve had my cheat meal this week. How about next week I have that for lunch.” Sometimes that next week the craving is gone and I don’t need it, or other times I wake up every morning counting down the days until that meal. Usually in that case I try to visualize something else or eat something healthy with that same taste profile, like when I craved a big restaurant burger but made lean bison burgers at home instead. I had to choose between a bun and sweet potato fries, but once they were eaten I didn’t miss the bun.

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Shakeology does help satisfy my sweet tooth 

Will my cravings for unhealthy food ever go away? Probably not. There are still emotional triggers and stressors that will bring them back. I will still be around the food that can cause me to spiral into a twenty pound indulgence binge, but now more than ever I feel like I have practiced the art of moderation and gained a little more balance into my excessive life.