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Balancing Time: Better than Nothing

It won’t take long on social media to find taglines like, “Everyone has the same 24 hours, so you have no excuse!” or “No days off” used by people who make it look like it should be easy for everyone to have their shit together juuuust like they do! Most of them will sell you a step by step guide to their embodied perfection too… I feel like a lot of people feel like that there is something wrong with them or that they are failing at life if they’re not as perfect as what they see in social media posts or reality television. The real reality is that not everyone has the same 24 hours. Most of the people you see who have perfect bodies either have a team of people helping them live the rest of their lives, like nannies, house cleaners, cooks, trainers, and/or personal assistants, or their might be several areas of their lives that are completely failing as a result of their so-called dedication to the gym. The fact is, if you have kids, a spouse, a job, and a home, there’s a good chance that your free time or your available energy is more limited than fitspo would like to admit.

Even my 24 hours are not realistic for most people who work 9-5 jobs. I am a full time personal trainer, so I spend eight hours a day in a gym whether I want to or not. This allows me to work out without having to create free time to spend at the gym or have to arrange additional childcare for the time I spend there. So for most people, working out the way that I do is not necessarily realistic, and I understand that. Although I chose my profession intentionally, there is a trade off to working in a gym environment. Personal training in the economy in which I live is not a very financially lucrative job, but it allows me more freedom to exercise than other jobs would, even though other careers would have given me more financial success. In regards to living with depression, it’s difficult to say which would be more beneficial: more financial stability, or the ability to use exercise every day as an anti-depressant. There is no definitive answer for that for me. But all of that is simply part of my journey. My journey isn’t necessarily one you want, and for you, that’s the way it should be! Everyone has their own journey and their own path to follow. You should be passionately pursuing your own journey in life! Comparing your journey to the journey of someone else you know is not beneficial. That energy you use on comparison would better serve you if you harnessed it to pursue your own goals and ambitions.

When it comes to fitness and health, I find that people tend to be either all in, or all out. Navigating the middle ground and finding the balance between pursuing fitness and pursuing the rest o your demanding life is always difficult and there are far too few examples of how it can be done well. So having that all or nothing mentality can sometimes hold people back from pursuing half steps towards their fitness goals. Half steps still take you forward! And sometimes just not regressing can be enough. I tend to be a perfectionist or all or nothing attitude as well. I have to consciously tell myself that it’s ok to to half ass something as long as I try. It’s ok that my attempts are far from perfect, because the more I attempt to do it, the more I’ll learn how to do it better.

We all have good days and we have bad days. On my good days when I’m feeling sassy and energetic, I increase my weights in the gym and see how much I am capable of that day. I take on household projects that I’ve been too drained to tackle. I go the extra mile for a stranger at work. Because I never know when that good day will end. Hell, I never know when I’ll get another good day. So, as an act of gratitude, I go full send on those good days. At the gym, at home, at work. I use my good days to the best of my ability. Every time. It helps the bad days not feel so dark.

So when your 24 hours gets too hectic to make time for the gym, you can still do something, Still take those half step towards your goal and pursue your goal. If going for a walk or a run isn’t realistic or appealing, you can structure your own workout inside your home! Structure to a full body workout doesn’t have to complicated. For a full body workout, you only need to pick four movements! you’ll want to pick a movement for the lower body (squats, lunges, bridges, etc…), upper body (pushups, rows, shoulder press, etc…), core (crunches, planks, etc…), and cardio (burpees, jump squats, thrusters, etc..). Then, choose a repetition scheme. A really simple scheme could be twenty repetions of each. Then you can do the circuit, working at your own pace, to see how many rounds you can get in ten or fifteen minutes! Working out can be complicated at times, but it can also be very simple when you need it to be.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to help you on your fitness journey is to figure out what is realistic for you and consistently sticking with it. Consistent effort, even if it’s imperfect, will take you further than waiting for convenient or perfect circumstances. Now read that again. Imperfect effort will be more beneficial to your life and your fitness journey than waiting the rest of your life for perfect effort. Find an approach to your goals that is realistic for your 24 hours. Focus on your journey and where you want to be. It’s easy to compare journeys, but that can be toxic and may trip you up in what you could be pursuing your own journey. It’s important that you surround yourself with people who will inspire and encourage you to keep consistently working towards your goals. Some people may tend to influence you to compare yourself to them or others or straight up discourage you from making good decisions for your goals. The circle of people that you keep is very important in how your 24 hours plays out day to day. Having good people around you who are chasing their goals and dreams will naturally be encouraging to you while you pursue yours.


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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!

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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.


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Pursuit of Motivation

Tis the season to get in shape! Usually at the beginning of every year, countless people resolve to lose weight/get healthy/ improve their body. And, unfortunately, most of those people don’t follow through with pursuing their goals. Life can get in the way or, more often than not, they just get discouraged by their slow progress, or lack thereof. 

Curiosity can be a big motivator… Aren’t you curious what your body is really capable of?

I’ve been a personal trainer for almost 15 years, and though I am by no means am expert on motivation and sports psychology, through my experience, I have seen tendencies and trends with a lot of people in the arena of health and weight loss. What I’ve seen is that most people begin their health journey out of a negative relationship to their body–they don’t like their body, they don’t like how they look, and it makes them feel negatively about themselves. So they try to lose weight to feel better. Well, this is a very negative view on fitness–it seeks to subtract from your life (deprive yourself of food, reduce your weight, shrink your body, etc…) as opposed to adding to it. People use this negative mental state as motivation to change their body. But this motivation only lasts as long as they are in that unhealthy/negative headspace. As soon as they get in a healthier mental state, that motivation to improve their physical disappears. 

Then so begins a toxic cycle of self loathing, wanting to get healthy, getting healthy, and then losing the motivation to be healthy. It can be followed by physical regression, which results in self loathing, yet again. I’ve seen the cycle repeat itself over and over again in people and it gets them nowhere. If you are interested in a video where I speak about this very topic, motivation and fitness, you can check out this YouTube channel run by my good friend Misti. If you’re looking for videos on manifestation and positivity, definitely check out her videos!!  She is an incredibly inspiring individual who helps people every day bring positive thinking into their lives. 



I often hear people referring to working out as a punishment for the unhealthy food they ate over the weekend, or for being too busy to work out the week before. That can be a very negative frame of mind with which to approach exercise. Moving and weight training should be a positive journey, whether you’re trying to make yourself stronger, faster, or for more endurance. It should be a discovery of what your body is capable of accomplishing day in, and day out. I’m not a competitive powerlifter, but I can deadlift 315 (conventional, not sumo, for those keeping track), and I’m very intentional in never training, lifting, or eating healthy as a punishment to my body. I’ve gotten very strong out of celebration of my body and out of curiosity. I celebrate when my body can do a certain amount of work, and then I get curious…let’s see what else it can do? I’ve trained many women over the years and within a month I have them pushing and pulling weights that they never thought they would do. They became more capable than they imagined they would and it made all the hard work fun! With that, losing weight and losing inches came as a bonus!

It’s very easy to get caught up in the aesthetic aspects of working out, even for veterans in the gym. I think that social media is responsible for a lot of the pressure we face in recent days to look a certain way or maintain a certain lifestyle. There’s more pressure than ever to look perfect and look like you have your life together. But that’s not reality, is it? Perfection can never be attained. Using that for motivation is futile and only leads to an unhealthy view of yourself and others. The pressure that you put on yourself to look a certain way can be very toxic. There are a myriad of different body types, which makes it impossible for some people to achieve a certain look or shape in a physically healthy way. So before you start comparing your body to those Instagram models we all see every day, think about your genetics and see their unique potential. My body type will never allow me to look like any of the Kardashians, so it’s pointless for me to waste my energy trying. My natural genetics make me tend to gain body fat on my stomach, not my butt or my legs. Think Spongebob… So to achieve the narrow, six-pack-abs waistline with a huge bubble butt, would only lead me to failure. Big failure. But…My genetics allow me to get strong, and that’s what feels best for me to pursue. My body feels it’s best when I’m challenging my strength and performance because that’s what my body type lends itself to. So take a moment to see the potential in your own genetics. I guarantee that your potential is much greater than just how you look in a pair of leggings!

Instead of relying on a negative state of mind to find and maintain your motivation, look to add positive things to your life! Add strength and endurance. Add years to your life. Make a goal to walk/run races with your kids or your friends. Join a martial arts class. Check out a dance class for adults. Try crossfit or yoga. There are countless communities to get involved in and they have the potential to be an incredibly positive force in your life and your future health! So instead of hating your body, begin doing things to add to your life, because your body isn’t actually you, right? Your body is just the physical representation of you. Who you are has always been and always be fluid. Everyone grows and changes over time, and that’s a good thing. It only makes sense that your body will be a fluid representation of you as well. So adding positive things to your life will have a healthier impact on you and your body than a negative punishment. Positivity will take you further than negativity every time.


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