Skip to content

In Pursuit of Yourself || In Pursuit of Balance

“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” -Steven Jay Gould

Just as a caveat, this post may be a little different than my previous posts. I didn’t really want to talk about fitness too much today, but hopefully you or a friend will be able to get something out of my ramblings anyway.

Many of us right now have copious amounts of time that is unprecedented and in most cases, unasked for. If you’re like me, you’re used to having a full schedule with things and people taking up your time and energy. But now that we have so much time on our hands, it may be a good time to ask ourselves some tough questions that we may usually avoid. Simple, but poignant questions like, who are we, really? What do we actually want out of our life? What actually makes us happy? These are questions that are very easy to brush off when we are going on about our daily lives because they can be deep, soul-searching questions that might lead us down roads that may be difficult or painful. Sometimes our worst fear is alone-time with ourselves. For it is in those quiet moments we see truly how filled we are with things we may not like or maybe we feel empty with just ourselves. Maybe we use our busy schedules to mask the things we are filled with. Maybe we use our busy schedules to fill the emptiness we feel inside ourselves. Regardless, sometimes being alone can shed light on the true state of being we hold closely to underneath the surface that we show the world.

But now is the perfect time to sort through all of that. Most of us have nothing but time to sort out our minds and our hearts. Imagine that everything in your life that has happened or traits of who you are, for good or bad, are playing cards in a deck. Now is the time to sort through that deck of cards to see what is serving you and what is not. Take that deck of cards out, one by one, and figure things out as they come. We have an unprecedented opportunity right now to search within ourselves to really get to know our trues selves. To heal our true selves. To forgive our true selves. And learn from our mistakes so we change and move on to a better version of our selves.

I’ve managed to accomplish a lot of self-sabotage over the years, and most everyone I really get to know has experienced similar things with themselves. I went through a period of years where I was extremely insecure and made a lot of stupid decisions that messed me up emotionally and set me up to continue the cycle over and over. Like all downward spirals, I found a rock bottom. I’ve lived in poverty, I’ve lived through abuse, and I’ve lived through a period of time where I was pretty consistently suicidal. It wasn’t easy to break out of that, so I know all too well the turmoil some of you are going through right now and my heart goes out to you.

One thing that was a turning point point for me was when I sat down in front of the mirror and apologized to myself for all the hurtful decisions that made for myself. I may never get apologies from individuals that hurt me, but I can apologize to myself for allowing myself to be in the situation where they had the power to hurt me. And I promised to never do these things again and that I would work to earn my trust back in myself.

So if you have demons, I encourage you to embrace this time as an opportunity to take out the card deck of your life and deal with each card as it is and choose to let yourself to move on. Everyone moves on differently and I am not here to tell you how to move on or when or what it should look like. Obviously a therapist is the best choice to get advice from for moving on from painful things in your past or present, but solitude and self awareness for what you’re feeling and why is a good start.

Whether it’s moving on from painful things in your past or it’s moving on towards success and happiness, I cannot stress how important self awareness is. You cannot create a happy life if you are not aware of what in life actually makes you happy. If you only chase what you are told should make you happy, you’ll waste your life chasing what the media sells you in commercials. Too many people lose themselves in what the media says they should want. Hell, even the stereotypical American dream isn’t what will make a lot of people happy. For me, personally, I don’t want a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, fancy cars, fancy clothes, fancy toys, and a super busy social life. My dream is a minimalist shipping container home in the middle of acres of land that’s wild and wooded. A place where I can grow and hunt my own food and work from the solitude of my sanctuary. My life is nothing like that right now, but that’s what I’m working towards and I know that one day I will have.

My point is is that right now when we have this extra time on our hands, it’s the perfect time to self analyze, to heal, and think up a strategy that we can follow to live our best life. When life is normal, working 40 hours a week plus family obligation, social obligations, and pursuing hobbies has us too busy for deep, healing self-reflection and work. Because healing is hard work–don’t let anyone tell you differently. Creating new mental and emotional habits is tough work. Sometimes healing and creating new life habits is more difficult than living with pain is. Because after enough time, pain becomes normal and comfortable, doesn’t it? It becomes something to define ourselves with and a form of identity. And that may be why so many people avoid it. It takes time. It takes emotional energy. It takes mental energy. But I’m hoping that with this disruption of normal life, your are able to find the head-space necessary to put in the work on our own mind and your soul. It’s worth the effort, I promise.

Because what happens when you break through? What happens if your break through the darkness of your past? What happens when you break through your fears and feelings of emptiness? The possibilities of what you are capable of are waiting. I am a firm believer that everyone has a potential and that very few people are living up to the potential that they are born with, myself included. My disappointment with myself is one of the things that I have had to come to terms with, forgive myself for, and decide that I will pursue a life that I’m not disappointed in.

Now, I will be the first to tell you that I do not have everything figured out and that I probably have more flaws than not. But now is a good time to try in different ways to figure some things out and to change and renew myself. But right now I have the time for reflection. Now I have the head-space that I didn’t always have before. So I might as well dive in. I might as well get dirty and see the things that have been lurking in my heart. What’s the worst that could happen?


You also might like….

In Pursuit of Yourself || In Pursuit of Balance

“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” -Steven Jay Gould

In Pursuit of Nutrition Balance: Why am I eating AGAIN? || In the Pursuit of Balance

I’m sitting on the couch and constantly finding myself wondering what I can eat next…. Sound familiar to anyone else? Please tell me I’m not alone on this! I’m usually on the go and busy with work so now that I am at home looking for things to occupy my time with, I feel hungry all the time. Is it because my body needs more food? Hell no!


Subscribe to my blog to keep up with my latest and receive a free guide to clean eating!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Follow me on Instagram!


In Pursuit of Nutrition Balance: Why am I eating AGAIN? || In the Pursuit of Balance

With the COVID-19 outbreak, I’ve been out of work. Currently it’s been twelve days since I’ve been to work for a normal day and already I find myself eating more than normal. I’m sitting on the couch and constantly finding myself wondering what I can eat next…. Sound familiar to anyone else? Please tell me I’m not alone on this! I’m usually on the go and busy with work so now that I am at home looking for things to occupy my time with, I feel hungry all the time. Is it because my body needs more food? Hell no! I’m moving less than I normally do, so in theory I should be eating a little less as well. So that’s not it.

Sometimes we feel hunger when what we actually are is thirsty. That is a common culprit of mine… I’m not drinking as much water as I normally do while I am at work. I usually drink a gallon of water throughout the day and therefore I’m peeing every 30 min to an hour. But I don’t mind getting paid to go pee every hour. But when I’m at home, I just think less about drinking water I guess. So that could be a good reason why I feel the need to eat ALL the fricken time.

Another reason I feel like eating all the time is due, in part, to boredom. I tend to be a bored eater. It’s been almost two weeks and I’m having trouble filling the time with things I want to do. My closet is clean and organized. My laundry is done (for now). I can’t really think of any big cleaning projects that needs to be done around the house, which is usually what I fill my days off with. But now? All of it’s done. Sooooo, what’s in fridge?

Not only am I a bored eater, but I’m an emotional eater as well. When I was young, emotional eating was a coping mechanism that was easy to fall into. My mother always made sure our family was fed and that we had extra. She still is that way and that’s always a perk when I visit her—she always sends me home with food. And she’s a way better cook than I am, so it’s a treat. But that made it so I always had access to as much food as I wanted. Scientists have done studies and found that eating food releases serotonin and oxytocin. Serotonin is a hormone that your brain needs to feel good—depressed brains are deficit with those hormones, making it difficult/impossible to feel a sense of well-being without something helping your brain maintain proper levels of this hormone. Oxytocin is a hormone that your brain interprets as feeling loved. Physical touch releases oxytocin, which is perhaps why this social distancing is taking a heavy mental toll on everyone. Humans needs physical touch—from birth all the way to death—to function normally and properly. There are other things that help with oxytocin production, but eating food is one of them. In the absence of other forms of oxytocin production, a failsafe way is and will always be food. So, in times of great stress and isolation, craving food can be our bodies’ way of providing necessary hormones to keep our brains feel well and balanced.

Obviously there is a point where using food for these reasons is absolutely counterproductive. Low quality food and especially high amounts of sugar can be counterproductive in the long run for proper hormone balance. There is a time where eating too much, even if it’s relatively healthy choices, can make us feel worse in our bodies as well as our feelings towards our situation.

So what’s the solution? What do we do when we’re trapped in our homes with limited things to do and all we can think about is food? I will never pretend to have all the answers. All I can do is help shed light on what I have seen or experienced that helps.

Being aware of what is going on in your mind is the first step. Awareness is key when you want to address anything, whether it’s a bad habit, a bad mode of thinking, or a bad movement pattern with an exercise, awareness is always the first step to moving to a place where you are able to correct things if necessary. So if you find yourself in the same place as I do right now, when you feel your body start to crave food you’re not sure you actually need, stop and think about why you want it? Sometimes you’ll look a the clock and realize that it is, indeed, time for you to eat something for your body! If so, making a good choice will be a good investment in how you feel later. If it’s not time to eat, maybe take stock of what you’re craving? Are you craving comfort food? Is your body telling you that you need serotonin or oxytocin? Of course, I’m going to recommend some exercise if you need serotonin. Getting up and going for a walk or trying a home workout can really help give your brain some good serotonin these days. If you’ve already had your fill of moving today, grab some snuggles from the nearest person or fur baby! Dogs and children, and loved ones are especially good for snuggles, but if they aren’t nearby, a hot shower can also help. Or maybe none of those things will help and a hot chocolate chip cookie will be the only thing that will! Being aware and honest with yourself about how you are actually doing is important. I would just encourage you to make a habit of performing self-maintenance checks. If we feel off or if we find we’re doing things out of character, it’s important to figure out why. And right now with all the social and financial stress we are under with the covid-19 outbreak, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy mentally as well as physically to continue to thrive in this turbulence.


Want to see more? Subscribe to my blog and receive a free guide to clean eating!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Follow me on Instagram!


You may also like….

In Pursuit of Potential: Finding and Growing your Strengths || In Pursuit of Balance

There are countless strengths and weaknesses in a person’s makeup. Personality traits, intellectual strengths, creativity, work ethic, drive, and coping mechanisms all significantly shape a person’s overall strengths and weaknesses. But it would be a disservice to you to compare your strengths and weaknesses with others and to expect you to reach the same goal the same way.

Balancing Time: Better than Nothing

Not everyone has the same 24 hours so it’s unrealistic to compare your journey with someone else’s. Family, mental illness, career, and access all have huge impacts on your pursuit in balancing life with fitness. Pursue new strategies to help you take steps towards your goals if balancing time or energy is an issue for you!


Pursuing Conditioning: Top 5 Cardio Moves that Require no Equipment | In Pursuit of Balance

In one of my recent posts “Balancing Time: Better than Nothing”, I spoke briefly about how to set up a full body workout that you can perform at home with little to no equipment. In my post today, I want to expand on how to structure home workouts in order that to help teach you how to effectively pursue your fitness goals even if you’re not in a position to get to a gym. Machines are certainly convenient to use, but they are not necessary to get a thorough workout. When it comes to increasing strength and power, some equipment will be necessary, but for conditioning, all you need is your body and a plan!

Part of balancing your life, responsibilities and goals is being realistic about the 24 hours you have available every day and finding a way to pursue each of these practically. If you are pursuing fitness goals within the 24 hours that are available to you, that can sometime mean that you won’t be able to make it to a gym environment in which you have access to equipment. This can make it difficult sometimes to get a proper workout, but it’s not impossible! Although I am a big proponent of mental health and taking the necessary steps to rest and mentally recover from life and it’s demands, but I also firmly believe that each of us is responsible for ourselves and taking an honest account of how we are pursuing our goals for our lives. If fitness is one of your goals for your life, then you must take the initiative for yourself to take steps towards that everyday. You must be honest with yourself about the food you eat, the sleep you get, and the movement your body gets to do. If your goal is better mental health, you need to be honest about the steps you are taking towards that as well. Are you taking your meds, talking to the important people in your life, taking care of your body (seratonin and dopamine manufacture are linked to exercise and good nutrition), and sleeping enough? It applies to any goal you have for yourself. It’s important to be honest with yourself with the effort you are putting in to the steps you are taking towards your goals.

So how do you take steps towards fitness if you don’t have access to a gym? Below, I will outline my top 5 favorite conditioning movements along with their benefits and tips on proper form. At the bottom of the page, you will see a link to my Instagram page, where I have posted videos of proper form for each of these exercises. If you have questions or concerns about these exercises or need modifications for them, feel free to fill out the contact form and ask away! It may take me a day or two to get back with you, but I’m here to help!

Squat Jumps or Box Jumps

Box jumps would be a more advanced option and require something sturdy to jump onto. Something as simple as a step would suffice, though, especially if it’s your first time attempting to jump onto something that is raised. Squat jumps will be the easier of the two, although they are no less demanding. Anytime you are doing a lower body exercise, it’s important to focus on shifting your weight into your heels when you squat (or lunge) down. Doing this heel shift will help engage the proper muscles in your hips and glutes to give you the best strength and power for the movement. Very often, people tend to shift their weight into their toes, which puts extra strain on their knees and can disengage glutes completely. So, to protect your knees, back, and use the correct muscles for lower body movement, teach yourself to heel shift when doing squats and lunges.

Touchdown Squats

These can be a good beginner to intermediate exercise. They increase your heart rate, but can still be done in high volume without wearing you out quite as much as more advanced moves like burpees. You start with feet together, hop your feet out into a sumo squat, touch the ground, then hop your feet back together in the center! It sounds more complicated than it is, once you’ve got the hang of it. Touchdown squats are a great way to make regular squats more interesting!

Skaters

Skaters can be tough for people who have issues with knee pain or past knee injuries. However, if you do not suffer with knee pain, skaters done correctly can not only get your heart rate up for effective conditioning, they can also help to strengthen your knee stability and prevent future knee injuries. This can especially be helpful if you (or your kids) like to play sports that require quick directional changes, like soccer, basketball, and baseball. One thing to always be conscious with this exercise is to always focus on balance and stability every time you land. Every time you land, you should feel your foot, ankle, knee, and hip come to full stability before hopping back sideways. I recommend using targets to hop to side to side, like towels, cones, or the width of a yoga mat. Having targets helps with form as well as challenging yourself to hop the same distance every time!

Lunges or Jumping Lunges

Although lunges are considered to be a basic strengthening exercise, if they are performed in high volume sets, they can be very effective in spiking your heart rate up high. Add in some dumbbells, and you’ll be working on strength and conditioning simultaneously! Anytime you perform exercises that target one leg at a time, you will be engaging your adductors (or inner thigh muscles) whether you feel them or not, Their main function is to stabilize the hips and knee during single leg movements. So if muscle tone is on your list of goals, lunges can be a good option to incorporate regularly to achieve well rounded muscle development.

Burpees

The first thing you need to know about burpees is that they suck. They’re tough physically and they’re tough mentally to get through them when you’re fatigued. But anything worthwhile is never easy. When you break down the movement, it’s basically a push-up that turns into a jump squat. Burpees are great full body conditioning because they incorporate so many big muscle groups in the movement. They incorporate your chest, shoulders, and triceps every time you push up from the ground. They engage your core as you push up into a plank. And, of course, they work the tar out of your legs with that ending jump squat. Put it all together, and you have an exercise that will effectively get your heart rate up high and work on muscular strength and endurance.

Structuring Your Workout

Ok, you have a few different exercises to pick from, now it’s time to set up your workout for the day! I tend to get bored with doing the same things the same way over and over, so I try to be creative with my set-ups. Sometimes I’ll stick to consistent sets and reps. Sometimes I’ll add a few reps every round to make things interesting. Regardless of what I choose, I try to pick something that will keep me mentally engaged in what I’m doing, so that I avoid becoming robotic or automated with the work. For me, personally, becoming automated is a quick way for me to get bored, and therefore make it that much more difficult to stay motivated and challenged. Trying different sets and rep schemes can be helpful in keeping things interesting for you mentally as well as physically. Think about it terms of spices in cooking. If you use the same salt and pepper for every chicken recipe, things can get bland very quickly. Trying out or researching different combinations of spices can make even the most common dishes taste different and new! The same theory applies to working out. Try new approaches when one structure becomes stale or boring. Because there is never a reason to get bored with movement and exercise! Pick one or two conditioning exercises that I listed above. Next, pick a core exercise like a plank or crunches. Then set a timer for at least 20 minutes. Now you’re ready! Do each exercise for 20-30 repetitions each and see how many rounds you can do! Or start with 5 reps of each and then add 5 reps every round you get through.

That’s it! If you incorporate these into a daily workout routine, you’ll be able to get in a great workout anytime you’re stuck inside. If you have questions regarding these exercises I’ve listed, feel free to contact me using the form below!


Want to keep up with my latest? Subscribe to my blog and receive a free guide to clean eating!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

You may also like…

Pursuing Strength: Top 5 Back Pain Prevention Techniques

Let me just start this off by saying that I am not a physical therapist, so if you have access to healthcare and need a diagnosis for your back pain, GO DO IT! Seriously. Get off your keister and do something about it instead of suffering. However, if you’re like me, health insurance and doctors […]

In Pursuit of Health: Balancing Your Mindset Towards Food

This is your gentle reminder that there is no moral value attached to food! There is no food that is morally bad or morally good. There is just food that can help you and food that will hinder you from your goals that you have chosen for your health and for your life.  You didn’t […]

Pursuing Mental Health: Meditation for People Who Get Distracted Easily

There’s a cliche image in my head whenever I hear the word “meditation” : it’s a perfect looking, perfectly zen looking woman sitting with perfect posture and meditating…perfectly. You know the one I’m talking about. She has a perfect body, a really nice yoga outfit, and lush hair that’s blowing ever so slightly in the […]


Follow me on Instagram!


In Pursuit of Health: Balancing Your Mindset Towards Food

This is your gentle reminder that there is no moral value attached to food! There is no food that is morally bad or morally good. There is just food that can help you and food that will hinder you from your goals that you have chosen for your health and for your life.  You didn’t eat “bad” on the weekend. You simply consumed things that were counterproductive to your goals. And because there is no moral value to food, you certainly should never “punish” your body for what you ate. You simply need to get back on track and make the decision to pursue what you want in your life. Working out or eating healthy foods should never be a punishment for what you ate or how you feel about how you look. Exercise and movement should always be a celebration for what your body is capable of. Choosing to eat healthy food will simply be the most effective fuel for your body expanding it’s capabilities.

Usually when I hear people saying they “ate bad”, they’re usually referring to the weekends, and they use Monday as a fresh start to getting on track with their goals. Weekends can be a tough time to stay on track with your goals. It is for me as well! Usually people’s schedules are completely different on weekends versus weekdays, which can make it difficult to eat or move the way you want to or should. Planning ahead can help–meal prepping healthy meals to have ready and available can help create healthy convenience for busy schedules. But sometimes there is only so much you can plan for when it comes to weekends or special events. I have always believed that fitness exists to enhance people’s lives, not to control them. On everyone’s journey, there will be occasions where there will be overindulgence or counterproductive foods. We all have one life and it is meant to be lived to the fullest. So worrying about an occasional “cheat day” on your fitness journey can sometimes be more counterproductive to living your full life. Having said that, I do also believe we need to be honest with ourselves in our pursuit of our goals. Whether those goals are fitness related, mental health, career related, or with our relationships, we need to take an honest account of our efforts towards our goals and our consistency with that effort. Everything worth having requires work. All of our goals in life will take consistency and effort. But being honest with ourselves doesn’t need to result in feeling guilt if our efforts are less than perfect or just straight up bad. Feeling guilt or shame is fruitless and will get you nowhere and will benefit no one.  So go ahead and do a self check. What are your goals exactly? What specific steps are you taking today that will take you closer to that goal? If you don’t know the steps required, educating yourself on those first steps is your first step!

Ok, back to the morality of food and health…. Just like healthy food versus unhealthy food, people are not inherently better than others for being healthy either. That’s right. People who eat healthy all the time or work out all the time are not inherently more moral or valuable or better than people who don’t. Low body fat does not grant anyone moral superiority. Their physical strength does not add value to their soul. That mindset can be very profitable to certain people in power and companies trying to capitalize on everyone’s internal desire to be seen as being valuable. But this is toxic thinking. Not only is it mentally toxic to approach life and other people this way, it just isn’t true! As a society we need to move away from assigning value to people based on how they look. At the end of the day, your body isn’t actually you; it’s simply the physical house for your soul anyway.

At the end of the day, guilt and shame should never be attached to what foods you consume or did not consume. Knowledge about how what you are consuming can help you or harm you is important. Understanding and being honest with yourself about your decisions for yourself is important. Self assessment regarding your actual efforts you put towards your goals is important. Guilt and shame will get you nowhere. Knowledge and self honesty can help direct your decisions to align more with where you want to be in your life. So instead of wasting your energy feeling guilty about “eating bad” use that energy instead to do better! Turn your negative feelings into positive action with a positive mindset! 


Related Posts You May Like

Pursuing Mental Health: Meditation for People Who Get Distracted Easily

There’s a cliche image in my head whenever I hear the word “meditation” : it’s a perfect looking, perfectly zen looking woman sitting with perfect posture and meditating…perfectly. You know the one I’m talking about. She has a perfect body, a really nice yoga outfit, and lush hair that’s blowing ever so slightly in the […]


Want to see more? Subscribe to my blog and receive a free guide to clean eating!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Follow me on Instagram!


Pursuing Mental Health: Meditation for People Who Get Distracted Easily

There’s a cliche image in my head whenever I hear the word “meditation” : it’s a perfect looking, perfectly zen looking woman sitting with perfect posture and meditating…perfectly. You know the one I’m talking about. She has a perfect body, a really nice yoga outfit, and lush hair that’s blowing ever so slightly in the theoretical breeze. This is the vision of what I feel like it should be. It has made me feel defeated before even attempting it. There’s no way I can reach my own expectation of what meditation should be.

I have a bad habit of being too all or nothing with most things, and meditation was no exception for me for a long time. What I didn’t realize was that half-assing some things is worth it. Mindful meditation is on of the things that is worth it for me to pursue, even if it’s imperfect. With all the things I try to preach about how consistently trying is more important than being perfect at things, you would think I would be better at taking my own advice when it comes to learning new things. But I’m a work in progress just like everyone else. And now, I’m here to tell you, you can be bad at meditation and still get the benefits from it. You can be bad at many things and still benefit from them, but we’ll just discuss meditation today.

I’m bad at meditation, I get distracted easily and frustrated when my dog decides he wants snuggles right at that moment. I always find myself thinking in tangents of things I could be doing instead or things I need to do later. I know I’m not alone in those things, but pursuing mindfulness meditation even though I’m not that great at it has become part of the journey for me. There are different types of meditation and techniques that go along with each type. Some methods might work better for different people or the situations they’re dealing with in life. I was always under the impression that there was only one correct way to meditate and that it required people to empty their minds completely and keep that completely empty mind to get any benefit from the practice. That doesn’t work for my ADD brain very well. The type of meditation I gravitate towards is not the absolute empty mind that I always thought that was required. Trying to empty my mind completely is very frustrating and I found that it didn’t really help me feel better or more centered. I can empty my mind for a few moments at a time, but I prefer using intent and visualization in meditation. I feel more centered with visualizing energy flow, focusing on each chakra, and setting my intent for each one as I go. I understand that there more advanced techniques involving mantras for each chakra, but that will have to come in a later post, because I’m just not on that level yet.

I recently read through the book, Advice Not Given, by Mark Epstein. He is a therapist who practices and promotes the practice of mindful meditation to his patients. He addresses the fundamentals of Buddhism, applies it to mental health, and explains how certain elements improved the internal and external lives some of his patients. It was a great resource for me to learn about the fundamentals of Buddhism and how they can apply to everyday life. It also shed light on how the practices of Buddhism could help me progress through healing certain aspects of my life from mental or emotional damage of the past. Similar to working out, sometimes acceptance of discomfort is the only way forward. Fighting the discomfort or trying to eliminate the discomfort won’t get you anywhere. In my meditation journey, fighting my rambling mind only served to frustrate me and make me feel like I was wasting my time. So I found a way to pursue meditation that I could actually manage.

Physical Health

There is a technique for meditation that can very helpful if I’m feeling tense or anxious. Progressive relaxation is a technique of meditation that can help ease bodily tension and reduce pain. All meditation starts with focusing on breath. With progressive relaxation, you start at one end of your body (typically with your toes) and contract the muscles in the area and then focus on relaxing them. You continue this process travelling up your body, ending with your face, and then lastly, your mind. Focusing on relaxing the thoughts in your mind, visualizing them melting away. The handful of times I’ve done yoga, the instructor has always ended the class with this practice and let me tell you, it’s divine. I’ll admit that I’ve totally fallen asleep at the end of a yoga session during this meditation style. It can be very relaxing.

Mental Health

I live with chronic depression and practicing this 20 minutes a day can be very helpful in managing my life. I have good days where I don’t feel like I need to meditate to manage, but I try to do it anyway, even if it’s just a few minutes. Like I said before, consistent half-assed attempts will be more valuable than no attempt at all. And so far, that has proven to be true. I find that with my consistent, half-assed attempts at mindful meditation, I can be more present and relaxed at work and at home. My job as a personal trainer involves a lot of interpersonal interaction, and sometimes it can be very intense and very draining. Almost every day, I try to steal a few minutes to go hide somewhere and meditate to help prevent me from being completely drained. Sometimes finding that time can be tough on full days. I haven’t gotten to the point where I can wake up 20 min early every day to meditate, but in the back of my mind, I know that it would help if I did that. So if you’re a morning person, beginning your day with pursuing your mental health with mindfulness meditation will absolutely improve the direction and feel of the rest of your day. If you’re more of a night owl like me, perhaps taking time before you go to bed to release any tension or stress from the day so that your sleep will be peaceful and restorative can be helpful. I’ll keep you posted on my attempts at waking up earlier than absolutely necessary….if they go at all.

Tools

Sometimes we can find things that can help us out on our pursuit of mental health. Music and soundproof headphones can be very helpful if small noises derail your brain. For me, meditation with crystals helps me focus, visualize, and flow with energy during my mediation. Having something actually tangible helps my mind channel the intangible. When I’m visualizing energy sometimes I’ll get flashes of inspiration for writing, projects, or people that I’m not even thinking about. But the tangible crystals help center my focus and give my energy a channel to flow through. It’s possible that I gravitate towards this because I’m a novice. I may find that with enough practice, I will be able to achieve the same level of focus without the tangible aids. But it’s also possible that I will continue using the crystals because their healing properties work well for me. Only time and continued attempts will tell.

If you can take one thing away from this post, it would be this: attempting meditating, even if they are imperfect attempts, will help you in your pursuit of balancing the chaos in life and finding a center of peace in your life. Consistently trying is better than putting it off until you can do it perfectly. But most of all, explore the different possibilities! It’s a big world and I promise that there is a technique and tool that can help you in your pursuit of your mindful balance.


Want to see more? Subscribe to my blog and receive a free guide to clean eating!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Follow me on Instagram!


On Rest, Healing, and Health…


I rested a full week after having the flu–that means no crossfit, no intense cardio, just some light lifting. I barely cooked at all, much less healthy meals. Canned chicken noodle soup and Gatorade pretty much kept me alive during that week. The flu kicked my ass. For some reason, I don’t remember the flu being so bad when I was a kid. It’s one of those experiences that fades with time I guess. But I was wrecked for a solid week and I never want to be wrecked like that again. All the temperature fluctuations and body aches were crazy. My bones were achy and my muscles were exhausted from existing. I might wish it on my worst enemy, but they would really have to be on my bad side for me to wish that on them. I managed to stay hydrated for that week and recovered from the worst of it. The week afterwards, though, I was still extremely fatigued and I chose to take naps instead of going to crossfit like I normally would, for some heavy lifting and high intensity metabolic conditioning. I chose to sleep instead and I slept hard.

Rocking the Sith Lord robe…

I was surprised when I  received some criticism for not getting back into crossfit immediately. Like, as soon as I was able to stand on two feet, I was supposed to pick up where I left off as if I never stopped. I shouldn’t have been surprised though, because that’s pretty normal for today, right? After we have babies, we’re supposed to snap back into our more youthful bodies as if we didn’t just create a human from nothing with our bodies. If we are expected to pick up where we left off with fitness after having a baby, the flu should be nothing right? Nevermind that the flu, unfortunately, still actually kills some people. Nevermind the fact that a hundred years ago, this flu I had might have managed to kill me without access to modern medicine. Heaven forbid I take my time getting over being sick.

I didn’t cave into the pressure to get back into intense workouts immediately. I took my time. I listened to my body and worked on movements that felt good. And I took time in between sets. My lungs were still very congested with mucus ( it sounded like I was hacking up a lung every few minutes), and I needed time to breath. I was not worried about improving my fitness level or getting stronger right during that time. I was simply focused on muscle activation and blood circulation. I was concerned with getting my heart rate up enough to get my lungs working, but not enough to have them strain to keep up with the work. I was moving, yes, but I’m listening to my body and only working within the limitations it was adamant about. Overworking your body while it’s healing is just asking for trouble. Whether it’s in the form of an injury or, more likely, a secondary infection, over exerting your body while it’s vulnerable won’t get you far in the long run.

I’m a big proponent for listening to your body and staying in tuned to what it needs and doesn’t need. At some point I realized that there isn’t actually a rush to “get somewhere” in my fitness journey, because it’s only that–a journey. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of things, with deadlines, shelf life, and social media. I think it’s easy to fall victim of this mentality when I was younger, but time and experience are tough teachers. So I’ve learned to take my time and to rest when I feel like my body or my mind needs it. I’ve learned that when it comes to things like health and fitness, those deadlines and pressure that you feel is all made up. It’s all literally invented to feed the machine of corporate materialism. The need to rush things leads people to buy additional supplements and workout gear to speed them towards their goals. Supplements and shortcuts may help shave off fractions of time, but trusting the process and being consistent with your effort will take you just as far without the pretend pressure. I decided a while ago that I’m not going to be a gear in that machine of materialism, nor do I want to be. Choosing not to be in this social climate is a consistent, conscious choice. Sitting out and not participating in the fray is going against the grain, and it’s sometimes lonely, but I know it’s the right choice for me and my inner peace. So instead of exhausting myself before work with crossfit, I slept on the couch after I put my son on the bus. I knew I was going to have a long and tiring day and I knew my body needed an extra boost before I got going. And I didn’t feel guilty about it.



Thus far, I’ve just been talking about physical health and the need to rest from exercise periodically. What about mental illness and rest? What about depressive episodes and anxiety attacks and rest? How often are we pressured to power through these aspects of our lives and still work, still work out, still cook, still parent, still be a good partner? This is a subject I would like to dive in a little deeper and talk about more because I think this subject deserves its own post. I think that mental health is still very much stigmatized, and the effects of depression and anxiety on people’s physical health still largely goes unaddressed. The truth is, is that depression and/or anxiety is exhausting. It takes huge amounts of energy to go about daily life while depression is weighing on your mind and your body. Going through daily life tasks while struggling to keep anxiety at bay is exhausting. The energy it takes to live with mental illness should never be underestimated. While it’s true that some days are easier than others to manage symptoms of mental illness, it doesn’t mean that it’s effortless. This is something to seriously consider when we’re talking about physical health and exercise. Because some days are almost impossible to get out of bed, let alone going to work and interacting with people. The effort it takes on those days to exist sometimes depletes us, and exercising on top of it all can be out of the question. Finding a balance between having enough energy to manage mental illness and finding the energy to workout can be difficult and for some it can be unrealistic. I was fortunate enough to develop coping mechanisms for my depression and anxiety using exercise when I was younger. Having that coping mechanism established, has really helped me through every serious depressive episode I’ve had in my life. The serotonin and dopamine that dumps into my brain after a crossfit session is unreal. I feel high; my body and mind are too tired to care about little things that can trigger my depression or anxiety.

But I realize that I’m one of the lucky ones. I realize that not everyone has the same access to the environment of working out, the knowledge of how to best go about it, or the time to spend in the gym. I realize that so many people could benefit in the same way that I do from exercise, but they face huge obstacles that could make it impossible for them. But even for people who have that access, being consistent with exercise can be difficult if mental illness starts rearing its ugly head. That’s why sleep is so important. Sleep is important for everyone who is trying to reach goals for physical health or performance. But sleep is even more important for people who deal with mental illness. Your brain and your body needs rest to heal. And dealing with depressive episodes and/or anxiety attacks is enough to need extra rest to heal from it. So, yes, exercise is important. Consistent effort in the gym is important. But if you’re dealing with symptoms of mental illness on a daily basis, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is rest. Unapologetically rest.


Want to see more? Subscribe below to receive a free guide to clean eating!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Follow me on Instagram!


%d bloggers like this: