My motivation

Why do I exercise?

  • Because I feel like a badass after pushing myself harder than I ever have before…
  • Because it’s not called an adrenaline rush for nothing…
  • Because I don’t want to feel my age when I’m over 50…
  • Because I love myself more than my couch…
  • Because I can’t afford a whole new wardrobe every six months…
  • Because my family and friends deserve me at my best…
  • Because vanity won’t allow me to do any less…
  • Because donuts and cupcakes aren’t going to eat themselves…
  • Because heart disease and diabetes are not my friends…
  • Because I want to live long and I want to live well…

Why do YOU exercise?

Never say never

I am not a quitter.

I am opposed to the idea of all or nothing.

I believe in MODERATION.

Even when we’re talking about bad habits. After all, everyone has one (or, in my case, five…… thousand).

One of them was my dependency on soda. A can of soda first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I was having about 3 to 5 a day. It was my pick-me-up, my panacea, my crutch… If I didn’t get any, I would get cranky — okay, MORE cranky.

Finally, two years ago – after much nagging by family and friends – I made the bold decision to cut out soda from my life. I was getting older, gaining weight, my sleeping pattern was wacky and I was not bouncing back as quickly from the abuse I was giving my body.

At the beginning, I kept failing at it. I was sneaking it in when no one was around. I would lie if anyone asked if I had had any soda. Then I’d be plagued with guilt and shame. I felt pretty pathetic. And I really thought I couldn’t do it. That I was doomed to age badly with osteoporosis.

But then a friend pointed out that if drinking soda was one of the worst things I was doing to myself then maybe I just need to relax – to quit being so hard on myself. There were worse things I could be doing. And so I thought, “What if I just cut back instead?” A little soda wasn’t bad. It was that I was drinking it like water. Suddenly a gigantic eco-friendly light bulb went off in my head!

So when I said cut out I didn’t mean never ever. And it’s that distinction that has allowed me to dramatically cut down on my soda intake. I went from having soda every single day to once a month – if that.

The key has been not saying NEVER. Allowing myself to have it on very rare occasions has made avoiding it so much easier. It’s not draining on my self-control and I feel a lot happier. It’s a little way of tricking myself but it has made all the difference.

And when I “slip” I’m a lot kinder to myself. There’s no beating myself up. There’s no disappointment. There’s no feeling of failure. There are no late night soda benders – where I’m up all night and I wallow in self-recrimination the next day. Because no one’s perfect. I would love to tell you that as a yogi I eat well and do well all the time but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. By taking the word NEVER out of my vocabulary I am loving myself better. I don’t get as easily derailed and I’m more likely to get back on and start again. To relax, relate and RELEASE!

So write NEVER on a piece of paper, rip it up and throw it away. You can thank me later. I accept cupcakes as a form of payment.

And if you have any tips that you use to stay on track, please let me know! Let’s get some ideas going!

Self care is self love

And don’t you forget it.

Taking care of yourself is the best way you can love yourself. And more than that taking care of yourself is also a good way to show love. Whether you are a mother, a father, a  daughter, a son or a best friend, someone out there is invested in your being healthy. You owe it to yourself and the people you love to be at your best.

When I see someone whose behaviors are detrimental to her health, I see someone who doesn’t love herself and certainly can’t love others.

Perhaps I am guilty of oversimplifying the psychology behind why we do the things we do. We all have varying motivations and we all have bad habits. We all do something that isn’t in our best interest. I have bad habits as well. The least of which is watching Ghost Whisperer religiously (Yes, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s show – you can stop laughing now). But I also have good habits. Habits that help lower my cholesterol. Habits that make sure I get plenty of rest. Habits that prevent me from spending more than I make.

Some would argue that eating and drinking anything and everything is a way of showing love. But is it really? The occasional indulgence? Maybe. But caving in day in and day out to whatever you want is not love. It’s a short-sighted panacea meant to temporarily fix a deeper problem or need. Sure, you could do it every day till you died which would be soon… if you’re lucky. At worst, it’ll catch up with you and lead to a prolonged, painful illness. Who can afford that? No one.

I’m going to boldly put it out there that my good habits outweigh my bad ones. I do all these good things because I want to be healthy and independent for as long as I can. I want to age gracefully. I want to make sure that my husband and my family don’t have to worry about me. I want to dance at my niece’s wedding. I want to drive through the country in an Airstream RV when I retire.

Love Mobile for the Epic Road Trip

You can’t fully love others if you don’t love yourself and if you truly loved yourself you would do as much as you could to be healthy, happy and whole. It sounds so simple but I know it’s not easy. But remember that sometimes the whole is made up of small, good decisions made everyday with a goal in mind.

But you have to start somewhere and you have to start now. There is no more time to waste. Whether the new year has inspired you or you’ve simply made the decision to start, I am here. To help. To love. And to support.

If you have any tips to help someone get on their way or if you have a story to share, I would love to hear it here.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, friends! May 2012 be your best year yet!

Image via Flickr (creative commons) by TonyHall.

Why I’m not joining your positive thinking cult…

The other day someone tweeted that doing social good for her meant only tweeting positive things and good news. I rolled my eyes and muttered, “How on earth is that helpful?”

I am a firm believer in yin yang. The idea that opposite forces are connected and dependent on each other – that one cannot exist without the other. After all, how would we know what good is if bad didn’t exist? Our daily goal should be to find and maintain balance in our lives – balance between too much of anything.

Whether or not we acknowledge the existence of negative things in the world, they are there. No amount of positive thinking is going to prevent bad things from happening to us. If we choose to ignore it, we risk being unprepared when negative things do happen. Does that mean we should be walking around like a grouch? No, but there is a happy middle ground between negative and positive extremes. A middle ground that prepares us for the worst while hoping for the best.

Being unprepared for negative events is only one of my issues with too much positive thinking. Another issue is the potential for laying the blame on individuals for the negative things that happen to them. Things that are beyond anyone’s control. The idea that positive thinking can protect us from negative things then implies that these negative things that happen to people are deserved. That somehow someone did something to deserve cancer or some other terrible disease. Or that the guy with the corner office positive thought his way in there rather than working his butt off. These are obviously extreme examples but fall in line with the same train of thought. Ultimately, bad things happen to good people and to bad people. It is about accepting it and coping/moving on. Sometimes there just isn’t an explanation for the amount of pain in a person’s life. It is not necessarily a reflection of who he is. What will say something about him is how he has dealt with whatever life has thrown his way.

It’s nice to believe that the universe conspires to get us what we want but maybe it would be easier on our souls if we didn’t take it so personally. That we just have to accept what comes our way and cope with it as best as we can. You do your best and that is all anyone can ask for. Does this belief absolve us from doing anything? No. Does it mean not even bothering to participate? No. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a lottery ticket.

Not to mention that some of the most brilliant and creative minds we know are borne out of strife. And if you think about the negative things that have happened to you, aren’t you a better person for it? A lot of positive change has come out of negative events so why do we think that we’re better off without it? Because it’s hard? Sure. But Thomas Paine said it best when he wrote,

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods…

Call me a realist. Call me whatever name you want but I’m not joining your positivity cult. Now let the good times roll…

You’re a mean one, Ms. Grinch!

For most of my adult life, I have considered the holiday season as hell on earth. It combines two of the things I hate the most – good cheer and shopping.

The cheerful well wishers, carolers, fake Santas and the “Isn’t it a great time to be alive?” folks all encourage me to be more creative about inflicting pain. (Where does one buy an anvil anyway?) Their clear joy and anticipation of the holidays grating on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard. If I could hide out during the entire month of December, I would.

And oh, how I LOATHE shopping! I hate the stress of figuring out the perfect gifts… Of not having enough money to get it… And the crowds! For the love of God, the rabid crowds at the store! (Are we people or animals?)

Don’t get me started on the commercialization of Christmas!

Add to it all the stress of having to deal with holiday traffic, will my gifts (ordered online) arrive on time (if at all), did I forget to send someone a Christmas card, what about the obligatory holiday parties? It is complete and total madness! Silent Night my butt!

This season never fails to bring the worst out in people and I am no exception. As the temperature drops, I sink deeper into my sullen mood. When I happen to hear holiday music, it makes me want to drop kick cute puppies and kittens. I have my own personal thundercloud hovering over my head until I am safely ensconced in my sister’s house… A signal that all the holiday preparations and obligations are done and I can finally kick back , relax and enjoy.

But then it’s over too soon. And year after year I am left wishing that I could have enjoyed the holidays just a little bit more. Maybe sang along more loudly and more often when Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You came on. Or maybe even marinated just a little bit more in the gleeful anticipation of the holidays!

You see, my dirty little secret is that I love Christmas. I love celebrating Noche Buena with my family… Eating together, opening presents, playing Mahjong and Rock Band all day long in our PJs! LOVE IT! My heart could explode from the joy of Christmas. There is nowhere else I would rather be!

But I always feel like it’s over before I have even begun to enjoy it! This year though it is going to be different… I will get the business of gift shopping out of the way as soon as possible so I can revel in all the social celebrations that are to come. I can stay away from the crowds and sing along to all the holiday music with a clear conscience. And see? I even put up Christmas lights in my little apartment! So good luck to all of you this year… May you find a little bit more enjoyment in the spirit of the season.

Light Explosion in the Humble Abode

Happy Holidays, my friends! I hope it is a wonderful one!

Balance: It’s more than standing on one leg

Balance is an important aspect of a yoga practice. In the physical sense, your ability to balance signifies a strong core. In the mental sense, it shows focus and concentration. These are the two aspects of balance and just like the song “Love and Marriage,” you can’t have one without the other.

But why IS it so important?

Because we need balance in our lives.

Every day we juggle work responsibilities, a home, relationships and just about everything else – sometimes with disastrous results! We strive to keep everything on an even keel because it’s the only way we can thrive. Sure, we fall off kilter every now and then but we regain equanimity… eventually.

In class, when you are holding the standing tree pose, you are forced to clear your mind, focus on the task at hand and calm your breathing. Sound like something that could help you during stressful situations? Of course.

Standing Tree Pose

Yoga doesn’t begin and end inside the studio. It infuses our lives. The skills you pick up in class could be very easily translated into your every day. And balance is one of those things. You train  your mind to do something and you can apply it to everything else that you’re doing.

Ultimately, your yoga practice should balance you.

So the next time your yoga teacher asks you to take a deep breath in and find your center, take a mental record of that command and walk out of the room with it.

Good luck and happy yoga!