Meditation Monday #45 – Tapas: The Spirit of Inquiry

Gray Mondays seem to be a theme in my life. This one is being caused by the outskirts of Irma. Irma means goddess of war or noble and will likely be a retired name on the Hurricane List after this year. Her spirit will live in infamy.

What about your spirit?

Spirit is a hard topic to wrap one’s head around sometimes. Sometimes we put spirit in the same basket as soul and other times it’s attitude. Some people believe they have a spirit animal (I guess T would say mine is the gazelle). I remember our nanny telling our youngest that he was her spirit animal when he suggested that they bake cupcakes after her car had been broken in to.

I picked back up the Gates book today and read Day 77 about Tapas in which he defines it as “the spirit of inquiry”. And I journaled

“having the heart of an explorer” Gates writes about tapas. My mental health and the desire for it keeps pushing me forward to learn more in life. It’s part of this final month of My Best Body Happiness Project. It’s about a “willingness to work hard” and in my physical health, in my eating changes, I work hard without developing hardened and steadfast rules. Rather I work hard to achieve this feeling of “honestly knowing myself”, my successes and my limits. I don’t know that I have the “desire for spiritual health” the way that my grandmother does; the way that some of my friends express; and even how a a few of my students do, but I know more and more each day about what I stand for and still seek “to know more”.

So, what about you? Are you practicing Tapas?

What is your heart’s desire?

Your drive?

Your spirit?

Not Bad For

Yesterday was a little bit of a lead in to what I need to talk about today…..

A phrase I need to stop using with myself or in description of others:

“NOT BAD FOR….”

Have you ever said this about yourself? As in, I don’t look bad for 36. Or that run wasn’t bad for 36. I find myself often comparing how I do, look, etc with my age. I haven’t fallen so far down the rabbit whole as to say not bad for a girl, but I have said not bad for a mom of two before and then cringed inside. I rarely find myself using that phrase with others, except my kids….

Not bad for 4 or 6 when it comes to reading, drawing, folding laundry, etc. I am apparently secretly obsessed with what is “normal” for a certain age. I am not sure where this standard comes from. Was it taught to me? Is it something that’s unique to my mind and the failures within? Am I trying to reach some sort of goal that I haven’t yet defined?

I remember back when I was married the first time and had decided what “good enough” would look like after I had kids. “Good enough” is just another way of saying “Not bad for” in my book. Good enough for government work was a phrase tossed around our house a lot back then. But why does anything have to be valued in that way? Why is it not ever my best? Or, in honest, my worst?

What is so bad about saying, today I sucked? Or today I rocked it? What’s so bad about not putting a disclaimer on my performance in life? I feel like this phrase is mostly hurting me in my life. If I were to judge my work as “not bad for” I probably wouldn’t get much work. If I judged my performance as a mom as not bad for…..my kids might get taken away. I want to spend this month ditching this phrase in an attempt to help my mental health.

What’s the one thing that’s holding you back?

Have you ever put a disclaimer on your life?

My Body; My Mind

Another check in for MY BEST BODY challenge! It’s now the end of August and the start of the final month of this HAPPINESS PROJECT. At this point I can report……

  • That I am currently not battling any major or minor illnesses. My allergies are kicking up (as it seems happens at any time of year here in Wilmington), but overall doing well.
  • I am prepped for my race this weekend and have logged the most miles in a month for 2017 already in August (come back next Wednesday for a race report). I have had no injuries this year (knock on wood) and, despite my shoes being old, have great confidence in meeting my goal while still keeping up with my students’ training.
  • My overall perspective of how my body moves has changed. Through changes in my eating and exercise plans I have lost a little weight (even though it wasn’t the goal) and changed the shape of my body and the way it moves. But….I do find myself constantly saying this one phrase…NOT BAD FOR….

And because of that last statement, I feel that there’s another aspect of my body in all of this that I’ve neglected to directly focus on: My Mind. Continue reading “My Body; My Mind”

The Skin I’m In

Welcome to the fifth month of My Best Body Happiness Project! It’s Thursday and I’m sharing my progress over on Running With Spoons weekly link-up.

One element that I have slightly neglected in all of this body talk is my skin. I had a full skin check done back in February when I first visited the dermatologist about the cyst in my leg. Luckily….she found nothing really to be of concern about…..except the cyst. On Monday I was back at the “doctor’s” and my leg is still not healed. It keeps flaring up and the NP gave me an antibiotic for that plus whatever else this cough is that is currently plaguing me and fingers crossed that it heals this time!

Once it’s healed, I’m going to have a terrible scar that will look just as bad as when the cyst was in my leg. It’s kind of part of who I am….I scar. I broke my wrist in several places in March 2007 and had to have surgery on it and a metal plate inserted. The stitches were the kind that weren’t supposed to leave a scar….and yet, I have railroad tracks on my arm. They’re so obvious that more than one person has questioned if I tried to harm myself. I didn’t; unless you count snowboarding without wrist guards as trying to harm oneself.

My skin and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. I am very fair skinned in the winter and tan very easily in the summer. My siblings all have freckles on their face and I have random freckles on my body. I am allergic to “regular” sunscreen and I break out in hives if you feed me mushrooms. I get contact dermatitis from a few things like latex gloves and I had a weird eczema patch on my elbow during both of my pregnancies. I had the worst acne when I was younger and developed an esophageal ulcer thanks to strong medicine I had to be on for the bad acne. Basically, my skin kinda hates me….but not always.

There have been many times in my life when I thought my skin was beautiful! Like my headshot on the blog. It’s from the Christmas after my second son was born. I’m barely wearing make-up and it’s DECEMBER! I was simply glowing at that time. I don’t know if it was the prenatal vitamins, the happiness of being a new mom again, eating well because I was breastfeeding, or what the cause was, but I loved my skin at that time.

Your skin is kind of an amazing organ:

  • It accounts for about 15% of your body weight
  • Is thickest on your feet and thinnest on your eyelids
  • Renews itself about every 28 days
  • Changes in your skin can signal changes in your overall health

(Facts found at https://forefrontdermatology.com/skin-fun-facts/)

So, wow! and Yeah! I see why my skin has looked better at some times than others. For me, at this point in my journey, I would love to see beautiful glowing skin because of the dietary changes that I’m trying to make. However, they’re not always consistent changes. I am still struggling with how and what to cut out when and what fits into our social life.

For instance, last night we had a sick kid who wanted chicken noodle soup to feel better. It’s kind of a given; most of us were raised to believe that it has magical healing powers. So, we had chicken noodle soup….in JULY!

Also, you have to consider taste profiles. We’re learning to love new foods (my kids are digging nectarines like crazy!), but also struggling to find recipes that don’t involve cheese. Why? Because we tried the vegan cheese and it was the worst thing I’ve eating in a long time! It’s not a flavor I will get used to because I’m not interested in spending money on it again. Meatless meals are sometimes sooooo delicious (we recently had apple/almond salads with baby greens and broccoli slaw) and other times a big fail (enchiladas with sauce that tasted like it belonged on pizza or spaghetti).

My skin is responding to these foods and changes as is the rest of my body. But I used to be so good about taking care of my skin in other ways too. I used to have a million different lotions for different parts of my body and applied them religiously. Now I’m lucky to remember to apply any at all to any part. But I’m also choosier about what I put on my skin.

Currently I use:

  • Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Energizing Bar Soap
  • Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow, and Restore Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Shea Moisture Argan Oil and Raw Shea Butter Body Lotion
  • Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion
  • Ology Facial Moisturizer with SPF

(Not a sponsored post)

I wish that I could afford Shea Moisture products all of the time, but I can’t. Currently all of the ones I’m using were bought on clearance. I wish that I could remember to put on my facial moisturizer every day, but as a mom sometimes my get ready routine means that I forget because I’m in a hurry. And I wish that I took the time to fully lotion after my showers, but I often am rushed then too. So, for the next month I’m going to try and pay a little more attention to my skin in three ways:

  1. Get sunscreen on every day to protect my skin when I’m running, at the beach, on play dates, and in general outside
  2. Take the time to get a pedicure because my feet deserve it (I was given a gift certificate for my birthday last year and I still haven’t used it!)
  3. Get my leg healed.

How do you take care of your skin?

What make it its best?

I Need More Gretchen! – The Call to Self-Care

So, a few of weeks ago I read/listened to a pair of posts/podcasts by Gretchen Rubin:

A Little Happier: More Advice about How to Be Successful–Check Every Box.

A Little Happier: Don’t Check Every Box.

I know that just looking at the title of each of those seems like a major contradiction, but Gretchen Rubin has these “Secrets of Adulthood” that she lives by and one of those is

The opposite of a profound truth is also true.

Her two podcasts are about being successful and applying for a job, but I took the idea to heart in regards to self-care. It draws back to the topic I was writing about last week in my course review of the Inclusivity Training I did where Chelsea reminded us over and over again to

Drink as you pour.

If I am to take care of myself I need to check all of the boxes and make myself into the person I want to be; this will help me to be happy and is the only thing I truly have control over. I need to meet my own expectations. I need to push myself to be the best that I can. I need to think positively about myself and my own capabilities.

But, I also don’t need to check all of the boxes for anyone else, or even, sometimes myself. Sometimes it’s okay to spend the entire day in my pajamas lounging on the couch and watching tv with my kids. Sometimes it’s okay to eat pancakes from the fridge in the middle of the day. Sometimes it’s okay to say no to a workout.

The key is balance. I’m in the middle of a big project in my life and some of that means checking the boxes off to meet a goal I have. This would include

  • Getting in my 4 runs each week
  • Trying to be active each day
  • Avoiding eating as many animal products as possible
  • Choosing to eat less processed food
  • Making time to breathe and to meditate
  • Reading more
  • Writing more
  • Spending more time playing with my children
  • Taking care of myself when I need it

This is all part of My Best Body Happiness Project that was inspired by reading Rubin’s first book. I think that something inside of me has been trying to get back to this idea of balance lately. I will be writing on Thursday about where I am in my project and Friday will be a book review from the last book I read.

Currently though, Gretchen Rubin is helping me again as the next book on my reading list was Better than Before, her book about habits that introduces the Four Tendencies (I’m an Obliger). There will be a lot more self-care going on, a lot more meditation/reflection, and I’m sure that I’ll learn a lot more about myself and my habits as I go through this new book.

Have you read Better than Before?

What do you do for self-care?

What boxes do you not check?

Meditation Monday #40 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Annamaya)

Welcome to another rainy Monday at the beach. Do you know I haven’t taken my kids to the beach at all this summer? How terrible is that?! Last summer our beach days were play dates and there were many of them, but this summer our beach buddy is also my running buddy and play dates have been of a different nature. *Sadness*

Alright, enough about the rain….today I’m here to talk to you about meditation again. Why? Because it’s something that I’m making a priority in my life these days. Over the weekend I was in Asheville teaching the NETA PT Review Workshop to a great group of people at the Woodfin YMCA. They were wonderful to hang with and chat with and to work with. I love it when I have great weekends away like that!

I had intended to go and scout the 8K course for the race this fall after I got done teaching on Saturday, but it was raining….and I had left my car windows open….and my lunch from Whole Foods was disappointing. I had also missed breakfast and hadn’t drank hardly anything all day. I think the run would’ve sucked if I had attempted it.

Instead I chose to go back to my creepy hotel (don’t stay off of Tunnel Road) and work on the Inclusivity Training and some NETA writing. I experienced some seriously great meditation practices in this course that I cannot wait to share with you! And that motivated me to start back up with the How to Meditate series again today.

So now, after that seriously unnecessary introduction to this post, I want to talk to you about Koshas….which is not a slang way of talking about Jewish foods or pickles. Koshas are the five layers or sheaths of the body; the outermost of which is called Annamaya or the “Food Layer”.

First off, this has nothing to do with the food you’ll eat (we’ll talk about that layer later), but rather with the fact that we all must die someday and (if buried) eventually become food for the earth and other creatures on it. We liken these layers to nesting dolls with each successively deeper layer representing a deeper part of the self. However, unlike nesting dolls, the layers cannot be separated.

Annamaya is most often cared for where people start their yoga practice….with Asana (postural practice). Both Asana and Annamaya deal with the muscles, the bones, the flesh. Consider your Annamaya layer and ask these questions from Rebecca Pacheco’s book:

  • What physical experiences nourish me?
  • When am I most comfortable in my skin?

For me the obvious answer for both is exercise. But, during meditation I often find more.

When am I most comfortable in my body? When I’m taking care of it. And that includes eating well, getting enough sleep, making time to move and rest. Not just exercise, but when I’m playing with my kids and when I’m not thinking about the body and all the ways in which I’ve judged it in the past.

What physical experiences nourish me? The little things like putting lotion on, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth with a new toothbrush, drinking warm tea, wrapping up in a cozy blanket, hugging my children, snuggling close to my husband, holding his hand, laughing with friends.

My Happiness Project is all about my body and I started with health and now I’m working on eating (again), but I am not neglecting the Annamaya layer in this process. Perhaps you should give your Annamaya layer a little more attention this week?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on/response to the questions posed above.

Breaking Up with Dairy in the Toilet Bowl of America – A Happiness Project Reset

So, it’s technically three months into this Happiness Project of mine and I’m kind of at the point of starting over. In the first month of my project I focused on getting myself well. Because the whole point of this project is to make me happy by giving me My Best Body, that included getting things right with my health. But, oh did that ever change for me in the last week?!

If you’ve read the blog at all, you know that I’m a big fan of documentaries…..I’m also a great proponent of eating what fuels you and not subscribing to restrictive eating plans. However, a shift has occurred within me that’s been coming for awhile. For a long time now I’ve felt on the verge of making a big change; something inside of me wasn’t quite yet defined, but I felt like the way I was eating was wrong for me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I watched What The Health.

Now, before you stop reading, let me put this disclaimer out there….

I still believe that each and every person has to make their own decisions based on what they feel is the right food for them and their body (diet). This decision can be made for health reasons, ethical reasons, financial reasons, cultural reasons…whatever. And I am not a Registered Dietician, so I will NEVER tell anyone what they should and shouldn’t eat.

With that in mind, I have made a choice for myself to slowly cut out animal products. Why? Because for some time now I’ve felt that they didn’t benefit me in the way that they used to. The food didn’t make me feel as good (hence the reason I went mostly meatless on travel weekends), it didn’t taste as good, it felt like a crutch. After watching many of the disturbing and disgusting facts presented in a wide variety of food documentaries, after always being informed about the secret funding behind our food guidance systems, and after my own experiences with dietary intake, I decided that dairy and meat aren’t really for me.

So, because I didn’t make this decision in an instant and I didn’t do it for ethical reasons (although I wish I could say that I did), I am making a slow transition away from these foods. I’m just not buying more dairy as it gets used up. I’m just not buying more meat as it gets used up. I am going to allocate more of my food budget toward whole fruits and vegetables. I enjoy almond milk and am going to try making my own cashew milk. I am going to try some alternative dairy products and eat more whole grains. I am going to explore different snacks and flavors. I’m rethinking what breakfast means. I am exploring and giving myself until the end of 2017 to see how this experiment goes.

The only expectation I have at this point is to try. I want to live happy and free from disease. I want to love the body that I’m in and feel that I am taking care of it. I am resetting my Happiness Project to have My Best Body in 2017!

Have you seen the documentary?

How do you make your food choices?

What is your favorite meatless meal?

Finding a Rhythm – Obliging Myself

I’m sitting at the Charlotte airport again. I had a lovely and brief weekend in New Jersey at the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA teaching the NETA PT Workshop. It was one of the best groups I’ve had in awhile, so I’m glad that I got to share that time with them.

The trip was a little precarious in that I got in late on Friday night and had to navigate Newark and the surrounding highways in the dark. Let me just tell you…..I’m not used to New England drivers and being just over a month out from my accident it was an added challenge! I even felt my left arm going numb at times and worried I was having a heart attack. Some good Ujjaii breathing helped me calm down, but it didn’t help that I had chosen the Toyota Yaris from Hertz that had no cruise control. Yikes!

The weekend was a success in that I tried to spend a little time thinking about why I’m away from the blog so much at this time. I thought about my training routine lately (or lack there of) and my general situation in life. I came up with a few things that I’ve been meaning to write about while seeing beautiful deer grazing in someone’s yard this morning. It almost made me consider moving to New Jersey….but don’t jump for joy yet Tina!

So, I’m an OBLIGER. This is something I discovered in my research on Gretchen Rubin’s work and Happiness Projects. What does it mean exactly? It means, something that I’ve kind of known all along, that it’s much easier for me to commit to something if the outcome is for someone else.

In what ways am I an obliger? With my kids, especially. If something is necessary for one of them, it’s going to get done at my own sacrifice. For work I’m pretty good at making sure the work is done (maybe not always in the time frame I’d planned, but always before the deadline).

In which areas of my life do I not oblige? Ugh, I’m probably not the best obliger in my relationships…..

I read this interesting article on NBCNews.com the other day about why it’s so much harder to be married in 2017 than it was before. One thing that I hit on was the whole “getting married later” and “finding it easier to be single”. I was married once before and while I liked being married both then and now, find it harder this time around. I didn’t spend long being “single” (about a year), but the independence that came at that time in my life was refreshing in a way I didn’t know it could be. There are still times in which I wish I could have things only MY way (not a very Yogi Attitude).

In my friendships I’m probably a decent obliger and currently more so with one friend than others. I am training with a friend for an 8k in September. My 2017 birthday present to myself. And that’s probably where I’m the worst obliger….in my own yoga practice and fitness (especially right now).

I can get up at 530am twice a week to go and teach yoga to others. I can make my body do 4 or more classes per day. I can run 6 miles with a friend. I can’t seem to find the rhythm that keeps me going on my own.

You may say, with all that other activity, why would it matter? It does. It matters a lot to a fitness professional. I understand, after many failures in life, how hard it is for people to create behavior change. I understand the struggle to “stay healthy”, to “get in shape”, to “be fit”. I understand the ups and downs of this journey more than a lot of other fitness professionals. I feel like Obligers are not often found in the fitness realm. My colleagues tend to be highly driven toward working out for themselves and, while I’ve had those moments in my life, I’m finding it easier to commit to others and their needs right now than my own.

One thing that used to help me was my schedule. My planner set the rhythm of my life….10 lines for each day dedicated to what I wanted/needed to do. I put in exercise as a priority, play dates with friends, intentions to catch up with people, dates, household obligations, and work commitments. However, I haven’t used my planner since the beginning of May and it shows in many areas of my life. I am surprised by how many ways the accident has impacted my life. So, today, on my flight from Newark I busted out the planner and started writing in it. I made a list for this week of all that I’d like to accomplish, but didn’t put exercise on it. Why? Doesn’t that seem counter productive to my goals and my Happiness Project? Yes, but it’s also more productive for me to find my way back to exercising on my own organically.

I have this big fitness goal that I’d like to achieve this summer….108 Sun Salutations. I was inspired by Tracy at Fit is a Feminist Issue awhile back, but haven’t found the way to commit to it yet. I even tried to wrangle my friend I’m running with into it. But I don’t think she was exactly game. I’m going to keep running with her twice a week and see what happens. I finish teaching for the summer on June 29th and then it will be all on me. Fingers crossed that I pick up again before then!

Have you been over to the quiz yet to find your tendency?

Have you been to New Jersey before?

What is your summer fitness goal?

What keeps you in your rhythm?

My Best Body Part 3: The Shape of it All

We’re in the thick of it now….it’s the end of May and time for phase 3 – SHAPE!

I know, I know, how cliche for a fitness professional to be talking about their body shape and size and how wonderful it is to be fit! Well, NO APOLOGIES HERE! It is wonderful to be fit and I have really missed being as fit as I can be over the last few years. I have struggled to stay consistent with it and now that I am getting more consistent, I want to feel it in a tangible way. I have been tracking my mileage for the last two months:

Miles Run/Walked/Jogged since March 15 – 88.77 and counting

However, as I wrote about yesterday, other things are not going so well. I have a whole post I’m working on about being an Obliger….again because it’s sort of affecting my life and my workouts and this project.

For this month, I do want to focus on some other numbers and some strategies for improving them. It was time for my annual Health Risk Assessment with my husband’s work recently and I just got the numbers back:

Things that are a problem include my blood pressure going up, all of my cholesterols rising again, and my BMI (but I throw that number out anyway). I know that my weight is up and part of my goals for last month were to get stronger (although I didn’t sufficiently meet them) and therefore I am looking to improve body composition over weight or BMI. And how do I do that? By improving the amount of muscle I have and decreasing the fat in areas that are dangerous to my body.

The biggest pluses on this year’s results were that my glucose is down, my HDL is up, and my waist is down 3 inches from last year….although I’m pretty sure that different people measuring measure different ways. So, this waist measurement got me thinking about the measurements I had taken last year around this same time. I remeasured (myself this time) on Thursday to find more changes in results:

So, I’m pretty much up all around in my size and that’s what has prompted me to choose the following for this month:

MORE RESISTANCE TRAINING

It’s one of the areas in which I’ve really fallen off lately. When I do resistance training my body falls back into the type of “shape” that allows me to move. I will also be done teaching yoga sometime in the next month so I will also be setting the goal of doing my own yoga more. It’s a form of both resistance and flexibility training that makes me feel great.

Some of this was prompted by my own need to feel differently about my body…..I mean, that’s what this whole Happiness Project is about for me, but some of this has been prompted by my friends and their own stories. One such friend is currently pregnant and commented to her husband,

Please don’t ever let me get fat because I don’t’ know how I would move and sleep.

Obviously that’s not the attitude that I hold, but the movement part of her statement really struck me.

It’s not about being “small” to me; it’s about being able to move and live the way I want to.

Breaking Down

I’m getting ready to leave on a trip this weekend, but before my Happiness Project post FINALLY goes up tomorrow, I wanted to write a short post about why I haven’t been writing posts. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my car accident. That was the start of my break down…..

Since May 2nd I’ve had a hard time running on my own, exercising other than running on my own, meditating, working, and in general….living. Last weekend I was supposed to attend the Roots of Love Yoga Festival and got in my car to drive up there only to have to turn back around. While stopped at a stop light a large truck came to a screeching stop behind me and almost rear-ended me. When I rear-ended the other car the girl in the passenger seat had said that she had rear-ended someone 5 days earlier. Since that time I have been waiting for my “pay back”.

I came home and cried.

I am set to go out this weekend for work and my family is coming with me to help me make the drive. Driving for me is still a challenge, but I never expected the accident to effect my life in so many ways. I find myself less focused right now and more tentative. I broke down during a run with my friend the other day…..actually twice now. I am usually the one pushing her and I found myself being the one falling back and needing breaks.

I don’t know if it’s emotional or physical, but I do know that I am 11 days past when I was supposed to update my Happiness Project and I am not feeling stronger in any way due to these lapses. I do know that this is nothing new for me and will be something that I address in the course of this project. I’m just ready to feel normal again and I have some strategies in place for that.nOne thing in particular (and I have a full post coming on that) is to play into my tendency of being an Obliger.

For now……it’s just one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, and breathe!