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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.”

 

 

New Year, New Me

Everyone has a story.  Each life is a woven tapestry of experiences and emotions.  Like a snowflake or fingerprint, no person’s life story is exactly like another’s.  Despite the differences however, our struggles and triumphs, our fears and joys and animosities are reflected in others and our human connections to each other and the world we live in.  I’m here to tell my story and invite you on my life journey- a journey to health, to peace, to confidence, to life.

My journey to health has not been a straight one.  I really like (I mean REALLY LIKE) certain junk food items and indulgent, gluttonous meals.  When I was growing up, I had a quick metabolism and fairl active childhood so I didn’t reallly think about what I ate.  In college, weight would start creeping up on me, but like the last minute cramming for exams, I was able to do just enough exercise to lose 10 lbs or so before I started eating what I wanted again.  Thus the vicious cycle began: eat too much, gain weight, diet & exercise for a month or so until something interrupted my routine, began to sneak in unhealthy foods and relax my exercising, get disappointed that I was gaining weight again, completely fall off the wagon….etc.  My love of food combined with lack of moderation led me to yo-yo between 130 and 180, steadily increasing the minimum weight over time.

During my mid 20’s there were two times when I started significantly losing weight through a healthy diet and exercise; l joined a zumba group and went from the high 160’s to 148 lbs, but then got pregnant with my first child.  Despite being sick for most of my pregnancy, I gained about 35 lbs.  Thrilled with being a first time mom but completely unhappy with how I looked and felt, I ended up joining a yoga studio that had a mommy and me program in which I could bring my son.  Getting involved with their different programs along with nursing helped me to lose my baby weight and get fit at the same time.  I was happy; I was healthy.  I was not yet at my ideal weight, but my trajectory was good- until we moved.  My husband’s contract changed and we decided to move from Virginia to Maryland; not too far, but far enough to put my routines on hold and stress me out- bringing out former, dormant bad habits.  Once we moved and I thought I’d be able to get back into a routine, I got pregnant again.  Plenty of people have wonderful pregnancies that don’t interfere with their ability to exercise and eat right; I was so sick I was hospitalized for dehydration in the first three months.  By the time I was the least amount sick I was just so happy that I could eat again that I ate anything- and everything.  With that pregnancy I gained about 50 lbs and was at my highest weight ever.

It’s been almost two years since my daughter was born.  After the immediate 25 lbs I lost after she was born, I have been struggling to lose the rest.  I lost and regained the same 15 lbs and got stuck in the same cycles over and over.  I needed a new mindset- I needed help.  During 2015 I tried several times to lose weight, only to find excuses to indulge.  In the summer after hearing some friends having success with the 21 Day Fix program I decided to purchase it because I had a trip to Seattle coming up to visit family and wanted to go up there and be at least okay with having pictures taken of myself.  I felt disgusting and unhappy because I knew and understood the value of a healthy lifestyle, but just didn’t feel I had the willpower to make the changes I wanted.  On my Seattle trip and after, I did make some changes that made me more fit and healthy, but I didn’t fully start the 21 Day Fix and none of my changes survived the holiday season.  I didn’t gain it all back, but enough to feel like I couldn’t succeed.

After Christmas I snapped (in a good way) and decided I had had enough.  I was tired of making excuses.  I was tired of feeling unhealthy.  I was tired of feeling fat around fit, athletic friends who biked everywhere and did triathlons and had beers on the weekends because they would be working it off on at the gym.  I was tired of feeling like I was 49 instead of 29.  I wanted to have more energy for my kids and spouse, and more importantly, I wanted to gain the tools and discipline to live a healthy lifestyle before I started having major health problems.  I decided to really start the 21 Day Fix and actually get in touch with my free coach so that I wasn’t doing it alone.

Things started clicking once I made that decision to start the program and contact my coach.  She invited me into her New Year New Me challenge group for January and introduced me to so many women with the same goals and aspirations that I have.  In my first round of the 21 Day Fix I lost 11 lbs and 10.25 inches!  I have worked out (and sometimes did doubles) every day since the new year started and even better, I look forward to it everyday.  I have been eating clean and using my herbalism and nutrition background to really optimize my health this year.  I feel stronger, have more energy, and have been starting to shrink out of clothes.  Things are going well and I feel so empowered to continue because now I have the tools and resources to help me achieve my goals.

My journey for better health and weight loss is not over.  I am going to need determination and drive even on the days where I get no sleep and have little distractions rolling all over me.  I’m going to need focus and perseverence when I dream about rolls or get invited to brunch.  I decided to become a coach because I feel like my story can help others and we can learn and support each other on our different yet beautiful journeys.  Weight is temporary.  Friendships gained through mutual experience can last much longer.

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step

Why is it that because the new year is almost upon us I feel compelled to make a New Year’s Resolution?

I make them- and break them- every year.

  I do think resolutions are important because they force us to hold a mirror up to our faces (sometimes a metaphorical one and sometimes a literal one) and reevaluate ourselves.  We see all the potential we are capable of and, if we are honest with ourselves, who we are at this moment in time.  Trying not to measure myself to the standards of society or the media or my seemingly perfect friends, (c’mon, everyone has at least one of those friends who seems to do everything you want to do and do it better), I make my resolutions each year to the measure of who I picture myself as being.  The hip traveler.  The flexible yoga instructor. The gourmet chef.  The scrapbooking quezed hostess.  The laid-back, fun mom.

The resolution I kept the longest was cutting out all fast food from my diet a few years ago;   That July I was traveling and *had* to stop at a fast food restaurant since that was the only thing at the exit and the only exit for miles.  Of course, once I had broken the resolution, I binged on fast food and my hips still regret it.

Losing weight, quitting smoking, saving money, lowering alcohol intake, exercising more, volunteering, managing debt, reducing stress, finding quality family time, learning something new… this is the top 10 list of new year’s resolutions according to The Baltimore Sun.  I’ve tried almost all of them (I don’t smoke) and though my intentions were good and goals were manageable and achievable, I fizzled out.  Wanting to be a better person is a good thing, trying to change is even better, but to actually become one takes effort.   Is there something I’m missing to turn these noble goals into routines? Maybe I don’t really want to make that effort year after year?  Do I really want the responsibility of  becoming a better person?

As I’ve written this, I have been continually distracted by the adorable face of my 3 month old.  I mean, who wouldn’t be distracted by this precious little person?

Jason playing with Leslie Rabbit
Jason playing with Leslie Rabbit

As I think on the adjustments I have made these past 13 weeks to make him a priority in my life  I realize that I can do anything I set my mind to as long as it is important to me.  I can live on 3 hours of sleep in order to breastfeed my son.  I can keep a room clean so he doesn’t get hurt on breakables.  I can put down a book in mid-sentence to answer my baby’s cries or see his smile.  I can move the whole world out of love for my little man.  Perhaps for him I can make resolutions and keep them.  Going beyond my own selfishness I can make the small changes so that one day Jason will be able to have a mother he is proud to call “Mom.” That is a noble goal.  One important enough to begin to make the lifestyle changes that have been thwarted by complacency.  And television.

So what will my resolution be for this year?

My resolution this year will be a foundation resolution for all future endeavors.

I resolve to actually do what I say I’m going to do.

That means when I tell my husband I’m going to take out the trash today I will actually take it out. Today. Not tomorrow.

When I tell my friend that I will call her later I won’t forget.

I will pay my bills by the due date.

I won’t make a grand statement of action that fizzles out because it was too big to accomplish.

I will think about what I promise so that I know it is something I can achieve before I promise it.

That way when I say I’m going to lose 10 pounds I will actually lose and keep it off.  When I say I’m going to do a project I’ll actually finish.  If I say that I’m going to become a yoga instructor you’ll see that certificate in no time.  When it’s time to discipline my child I will follow through with punishments quickly and consistently.

Doing what I say I’m going to do.  It sounds so easy but is really hard.  Hopefully by taking time to think critically about what I want and what I can do will help me to keep this year’s resolution.  Maybe this blog can help.  I’ll do it for you, for Jason, and most importantly, so I can be proud of myself.

Quotation by Lao Tzu