Inspiration is Everywhere

Inspiration is Everywhere

This journey of promoting health and wellness is evolving in a way that I never would have predicted and I am so grateful for the experience.  Not only have I met some amazing people whose growth motivates me daily but I am also beginning to view so many things in a completely new light.  In teaching and motivating others, sharing my passion for healthy living is offering new opportunities to teach and motivate me and the inspiration that is everywhere truly connects us all.  No matter our experiences, we all struggle with moving forward from time to time.  Whether it be those first few steps never attempted before, hitting that wall that seems to slow or stop our progress or even just maintaining the standard of a healthy and happy life, we all experience setbacks that can be overcome with the right focus, determination and a little bit of inspiration.

Accomplishments

It’s been just about a year since Ingrid has been coaching the lovely ladies of Miller’s Pond Community Center and it is truly amazing to see all their hard work pay off week after week and month after month.  I remember when she began instructing there and the degree to which she challenged them then compared to now.  To see these ladies today is to know they truly found themselves through this regular physical activity, the camaraderie and friendship found in group classes and the supportive and encouraging atmosphere that Ingrid creates and insists upon for everyone.  Each one of them has their own story of accomplishment while they continue on their journey of wellness, MANY of which include considerable weight loss and smaller clothing sizes.  More importantly, however, their confidence has improved as well as many pre-existing ailments and health concerns have either lessened or disappeared completely.

One perfect example of this transformation is Sharon Garcia who whole-heartedly understands and implements the fact that consistency, dedication and belief in oneself are the keys to achieving your goals.  Using more than just words and a positive attitude, since attending Ingrid’s classes, Sharon continues to work hard and now finds herself several pounds lighter and in single-digit clothing sizes.  Again, above ALL the physical accomplishments, her quality of life has improved, she now believes in herself more than ever before and she chooses every day to use love and encouragement to maintain her momentum as well as encourage others.  This energy is so much more powerful than any energy wasted on criticism and judgment and I believe that it is the only way to truly master, accomplish and achieve anything.  Sharon is a true inspiration as are many of the ladies of Team Ingrid and we look forward to following each of their stories as they continue to break through their challenges and reach their goals.

Peace

I was blessed with a happy childhood, a loving family and a grandmother who cared for me 24/7.  Through the experiences of my life I held on to some more than others for some time not realizing that it only held me back from moving forward.  Talking to my grandmother today, I realize that more than anything.  This year she turned 102 years old and is still as sharp as ever.  Physically, her doctor has said for years that she is “as healthy as a horse” and would ask her how she does it.  She always enjoyed this little exchange and the answers are fairly simple: she exercises regularly and eats plenty of fruits and vegetables.  I would humbly add, that I believe her daily meditations through prayer and ability to let go have also been instrumental to her long life and good health.

Mama - 100 years old

Physically, my lola is still able to get around as necessary and sometimes with assistance but as long as I can remember and even to this day she exercises as often and in any way she can.  For several years, it was using her walker to and from one room to another, as many “laps” as necessary.  She would also include leg lifts and leg and arm raises while she sat or even lying in bed just to get the blood flowing. When my husband and I went to visit her he was amazed to see how my aunt prepares her food.  He saw so much of the freshest, most colorful vegetables with a little bit of rice and plenty of fruit for the taking.  Neither her exercising nor her eating preferences were a surprise to me by this time.  I never saw how impactful these habits were before and now I’m SO glad to say I truly understand the value.

When my lola is in a talkative mood, she is quite fun to listen to as she tells stories of being a child athlete, parties she attended as a teenager or even stories about her children growing up.  She likes to laugh and joke around a lot and will often break out into song.  A few years ago, I interviewed her for details of the Japanese invading the Philippines during WWII as she was pregnant with my mom at the time—her seventh child out of thirteen.  I don’t know what I expected, but what I got was far from it.  Ultimately, she had let it all go, all of the particulars that would have made an interesting and dramatic story, was of no use to her anymore and she had moved on more than likely long before I came around asking questions.  What she values with passion and intense emotion today are not the hardships of her life, not the darkness and not the pain of her past.  She invests her energy and the strength of her spirit in now, in whatever brings her peace and joy, and happy memories.  Of course, she’s still human and can find natural irritations to bring up daily as we all can but it’s not the essence of her life, it’s just on the surface, just the external.  Whenever I call and ask how she’s doing, her answer is almost always that she’s doing just fine.

I’ve been working on this particular post for much longer than I normally spend on any piece of writing and, personally, it was worth it to take my time.  It is always humbling to step back as a teacher and take the time to focus on all that has been teaching you.  Though quietly reflecting on what inspires me is often part of my day, I really wanted to share it with everyone in the most authentic way possible.  Hopefully the inspiration I found in just these stories for me will reach someone new today and together we can continue to find and share the potential beauty through hardship everywhere we go.

Love,

V

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My Favorite Nutrition Tips

My Favorite Nutrition Tips

Throughout the week I spend a lot of time “writing” my articles in my head.  I’ll hear certain comments or have a conversation that makes me think now that’s what I should address next!  With this approach, I work on two or three articles at a time (again, in my head) and then I have no idea which topic will actually surface when I sit down to write for the week.

Today I’m inspired to write about the beginning of my journey with the entire focus on nutrition.  When I hovered well over 200 lbs and finally decided to shift my reality, the only adjustments I made were related to the quantity and quality of my nutritional intake.  As mentioned before, this resulted in the first significant drop in weight that motivated me to turn my entire life around and keep on going.  Remember, we’re all experiencing our challenges at different levels, so consider where you are now before jumping into or even overlooking the potential of any of the following tips and see where your own nutritional journey can take you and your family.

Eat your Fruits and Vegetables and Eat Them FIRST.  Everyone knows eating fewer calories is a good idea.  It’s simple math to take in less calories than you burn each day if your goal is to lose weight.  An easy way to do that without having to count calories (which can be highly overwhelming and is very unlikely to maintain on a regular basis) is to always have fruits and vegetables with every meal and make sure to have them first!  Rearranging your approach like this helps you fill up on more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, water and fiber, before ever getting to the rest of your meal.  Food with greater nutritional value is naturally lower in calories and (even better!) it takes WAY less calories to make you feel fuller, longer.  The more you eat foods that nourish you, the more you and your body will crave them.  Not a fan of the raw versions?  Play with cooking them in different ways, in various recipes or even try them juiced.  No matter how you get them in, let that be your primary goal and as you create better long-term habits and see results, you’ll be ready to work towards even greater achievements!

Reconsider Your Concept of the Value of Food.  For those who still consider “fast food”, “junk food” or anything you can order through a drive-thru food at all, it might be time to reevaluate what you’re actually paying for.  People think they get a bargain with the cheap prices of combo meals at fast food joints or even the buffets that offer unlimited intake at a low cost but what are you actually getting for your dollar at these places?  You know that you need carbohydrates for fuel and protein to stabilize your metabolism, protect and build muscle.  You know you need healthy fats to burn fat.  So, as far as nourishment goes, we find it in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, legumes, nuts, healthy oils, etc., etc. which is not typically found in the “value meals” described earlier.  What you are paying for is lots and LOTS of saturated fats and sugars, both of which are heavily loaded in EMPTY calories and are the few things your body can (and should in large doses!) actually live without!  It’s a simple and undeniable truth that there IS NO value in that at all.

Learn to identify the breakdown of nourishment a meal or snack offers you and let that be your guide to making food choices for yourself and your family.  Keeping a mental checklist of the types of food you actually need will help you see food differently and also appreciate the true value of a meal.

Indulge with Purpose and Keep It In Check.  We just talked about the fact that saturated fats and sugars are a non-necessity when it comes to food and the nourishment of our bodies so why do we have them at all?  Simply put, they’re cheap and they can help add a little flavor—it’s the OVER indulgence of these types of foods that get people in trouble.  Keep in mind, the danger is not just in excess pounds and inches, but in extremely dangerous health issues and the snowball effect of the more you eat junk the more you crave it.  I’ve never been a fan of deprivation because with my background it’s too easy to slip into a binge if I try to avoid things completely.  Instead, my regular habits on a daily basis are for the most part very clean.  Throughout the week or weekend, though, there may be an opportunity to indulge in a sort of special-case scenario and so I do.  Whether it’s a rare meeting of friends or an occasional get-together, happy hour, dinner date or some other type of celebration, I don’t think twice about it anymore but I DO make sure to balance them out later.

Don’t over-think it when you decide to eat something but do be honest with yourself.  You know what foods you need and you know what you could live without.  Obsessing over every detail of every meal will only frustrate you in the end.  Also, when you eat clean and avoid junk the majority of the time you’ll be able to enjoy those special indulgences even more!

Natural is Always Better.  There’s a pretty consistent theme in tips for proper nutrition and always opting for whole, natural sources of food has been my favorite now that I can appreciate the difference.  As I learned to identify better quality foods and minimized artificial sugars, additives, preservatives and especially anything overly processed, my taste for food changed right along with it.  Reading the lists of ingredients and looking for those that are shorter and include the most natural sources is a quick and easy habit to adopt.

Consider this—food that comes from natural sources breaks down much easier in nature and, as such, is much easier for your own body to digest.  It is simple nature and biology!  Think about that overly processed cheese or any food highly saturated in fat.  What happens to it when it sits out too long?  The cheese that was once melted and gooey quickly hardens as it cools just as heavy animal fat does.  Now think about that happening inside your body, slowly moving through your systems and building up the more you eat this way.  On the flip-side, the more clean, whole and natural foods you eat the more you help your body along with the process of its natural functioning.  As a result, you take in fewer calories and eat more nutrient-rich foods, without even really trying.

I love simple approaches to eating well and nourishing the body.  There are SO many wonderful ways to incorporate some really great stuff!  Once we take on the mindset of the value and appreciation of really good quality food we change our lives for the better.  Don’t keep these secrets to yourself, though!  We all have loved ones who will benefit from learning about food in this way.  Whether you teach your family these tools to help you remember them too, or if you’re helping along the next generation to keep your family healthy, sharing these tips every day can be the BEST way to show yourself and your family love.

With my love,

V

Get to Know YOUR Body

Get to Know YOUR Body

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to anything in life, so why would you accept a concept like that when it comes to your own body?  DO THIS one exercise, USE THAT new tool, DRINK THIS new beverage, or EAT THIS one way and ALL your problems will be solved.  I’m sorry, as many different things as I tried over the years I personally needed a combination of a LOT more adjustments to my lifestyle than any singular method and it all started with honesty and knowledge.  I had to begin seeing myself more clearly and much more honestly than I ever had before, and then I was open to learning my true motivations, my own physical structure and my own needs.  These factors are essential to the lifestyle you develop which should ALWAYS be changing, shifting and adjusting.  Here are some ways to discover who YOU are, what YOUR body needs and how to deliver it to the NEXT level.

Respect Where You Are Now:  My husband has always said that we all have different body types, body structures and natural ability and there’s beauty to value in each.  Before I really understood this myself I would look at other shapes and sizes and wonder, “with ALL the work that I do every week, why don’t I look more like that yet?!?”  Now I understand more than ever, my physical needs and the way my body adapts are my own.  What my body does for me is directly related to how I choose to treat it every single day, and the choices I make not only depend on how well I know my body but also understanding the fact that it is never going to take on the structure of a Victoria’s Secret model (nor do I or my husband want it to!).  I have curves and I have to work hard to maintain my metabolism and stay lean and that’s just ME.  The ways our bodies burn fat, store fat, build muscle and build strength (how long it takes and where it’s distributed or built, too!) are specific to each of us individually.  We all do the best we can with what we have and there’s no reason to judge, we just choose to be okay with that.  If you’re not feeling your best, you’re not happy or you’re not healthy then appreciate what you can now and respect what your body does do for you so you can MOVE ON and LET GO.  Only then will you be able to take the necessary steps to see yourself honestly enough to learn YOUR own body’s potential and not waste your energy focusing on anyone else’s.

Learn Through Injury:  Going through an injury (or two…) can be one of the most frustrating occurrences whether you are active and it’s slowing you down, whether you just started to be physical or whether it just worsens an already sedentary lifestyle.  No matter your condition prior to an injury, begin to look at this period as THE BEST way to really learn you, your body and even your approach to any new or regular activity.

Nydia’s Yoga Therapy is the first studio I recommend for anyone who has gone through an injury and “needs to do something.”  There are so many people who truly want to move again but are afraid to and it’s important to know you do have options.  In my experience with Nydia’s guidance and personal assessment of my own issues, I was able to learn what I could do and what I shouldn’t do as well as what really brought me to her in the first place.  For me, the overuse of certain muscles with improper form caused most of my injuries and by helping me to slow down and relearn basic movements and postures with perfect alignment, my practice improved a great deal and I became stronger than I was before the injury.  Now I know whenever I need to pull back or readjust when I’m doing ANY activity so I can keep building strength without injuries happening again.

Try New Methods:  I’m a big advocate for trying new things because you never know how well you’ll get to know yourself in the process.  Stephanie Carter is another wonderful, multi-talented instructor and friend I am so blessed to have and, to this day, is incredibly helpful with the random challenges I personally come across.  Whether it’s my hip flexors flaring up again or a new arm balance I want to try, she has a wonderful way of teaching with particular attention to form.  She always takes the time to research what she can to help her students and offer different methods to approach any new or existing challenge.  With Stephanie’s guidance, not only have I learned different ways to adjust while working through an injury but I’ve also developed strength and confidence while working on postures I never imagined I’d be able to experience.  For me, learning new techniques to manage the old and attempt the new allows me to really understand my body and reach my own potential.

We all have so much to offer and we owe it to ourselves to discover all that entails.  When we appreciate who we are and truly care for our bodies with the appropriate nourishment and activity it needs, it gives back to us strength, energy and endurance.  The beauty is, rather than being the initial focus, the shape we want, the number on the scale, and the clothing size, etc., becomes the BONUS, the residual benefits that occur as a result of our own optimal health.

Love,

V