A Thought on Avoiding Injury in Fitness

Build a strong foundation by easing your way into any new activity…slowly, with consistency but also with sufficient periods of rest and recovery. Find that place between ease and effort. Challenge yourself to reach your edge but never push past it. Learn your body’s signals of over-exertion and pain and pull back, modify, adjust or stop as necessary. Learn from those of us who had to learn the hard way–do what you can to protect, love and care for the one body you have in this life. Keep it active, keep it fit and keep it safe allowing it to continue to support and care for you through all you continuously ask it to do.

~V~

Advertisements

A Thought on Self-Empowerment

Having an internal motivation such as feeling healthy and strong, having enough energy to play and be active, living long enough to see your kids grow up or just feeling good about yourself every day is significantly more impactful than aiming for a goal that sits on the surface. Consider trading in the external focus of how you think you should look or how much you should weigh, etc. for something more meaningful to you on the inside. This approach will soon shift the power and authority you give to a scale or to other people’s opinion, etc. back to where it belongs…to you.

Love,

V

Exploring Transitions

Exploring Transitions

Many of us spend most of our time completely focused on an event, a goal, a challenge or an accomplishment but how often do we pay attention to the time in between those experiences?  Staying focused on an event of any sort can certainly help you achieve your goals while in the process of them, but more often than not we are also holding on to those events long before they happen and long after they have come and gone.  With this habit we miss out on opportunities that are available in the present because we can’t let go of the past or we’re continuously worrying about the future.

On a smaller scale:  Exercise Habits

The next time you’re in a class, a training run or ride or in any sort of practice, consider the way in which you handle yourself in between reps or sets, intervals or postures.  Do you exhale dramatically and flop around like a fish, or do you try to stay composed and transition smoothly in and out of each one?  We all need to relax from time to time, but think about what happens to you mentally as well as physically when you release your composure so much so that you lose focus—your body is no longer fully engaged but neither is your mind.  These are the moments in which negative thoughts and frustration can creep in which can then make you convince yourself that you can’t keep going or you have nothing left.  If we take the time to work on graceful transitions we not only build additional strength by staying physically engaged, we stay focused on the bigger picture of improving our overall fitness or performance in the long term rather than a finite goal for one day.

dowhatulove

On a broader scale:  Life

How many times do we overlook our day-to-day experiences because we’re too busy analyzing events that have already passed or anticipating all the things that could go wrong in the future?  If that’s all we’re putting our energy into there’s no part of us focusing on what’s going on right now.  The only way we can appreciate what’s happening in the moment is to be in the moment.  The next time you find yourself complaining about the past or over thinking the future, take a minute to reset yourself and find something to either appreciate or learn from right then and there.  Sometimes it’s just about doing the best you can at everything you do.  Sometimes it’s about accepting the present just as it is in order to move on and move forward.  Other times it’s simply about realizing there actually is something to appreciate in your life.

Whether you’re working through a difficult time, a physical or emotional challenge or you just need to learn to enjoy life more, there’s so much potential in the transitions that we experience and we owe it to ourselves to explore them all.  It’s not just about the big events that come and go, it’s the smaller moments in between that can truly add to the quality of our daily life.

Love,

V

Visualize Your Success

Visualize Your Success

The words in the picture shown above and below were typed out by me two to three years ago.  At the time, nothing written on that piece of paper was true.  I was miserable at work and I knew I didn’t belong there.  I was physically sick more often than not when before that job I only had one or two must-stay-at-home sick days a year.  Something had to change.

The thing is I didn’t want to make the same choices that got me there in the first place.  It’s true, I promote at all times that everything happens for a reason and my very Zen approach to life focuses on the belief that all is at it should be at any given moment no matter what.  Most importantly, however, everything inside me at the time told me I wasn’t supposed to be there anymore.  So what was I supposed to do from there?

Very much like when I grew up unhealthy, overweight, sedentary and almost twice the size I am now, there was always some part of me deep down that knew I wasn’t being me.  I could often picture myself fairly slim and even had dreams of myself healthy and active but when I woke up in the morning and looked in the mirror I was shocked to see what I had ballooned up to or that going up a single flight of stairs would suddenly take the wind out of me.  If I hadn’t stopped obsessing about everything that was “wrong” about me, I wouldn’t have taken the time to start visualizing my potential.

Every thought we have about ourselves, our lives, our relationships our careers creates what we have today—every bit of it.  Not even a year into that job I found myself repeatedly expressing anger, frustration and every instance of agitation which only increased the stress I felt.  I do believe venting is healthy and necessary, but what’s most important is that the worse it became the more it helped me to become aware of where I found myself and that I had to make a change.  I was so miserable, though, that visualizing my life any differently was extremely difficult.  I was angry and depressed all of the time so picturing myself happy was not an easy feat.  That’s when I reverted back to what does work for me— writing.

I enjoy my job.

I call them now “Create My New Reality Journals” but at the time it was just a way for me to describe how I personally wanted to think, feel and act every single day when I couldn’t have been farther from it.  After my last divorce, I did the same thing with a journal describing a “new me” in my romantic life and a month later my now-husband suddenly appeared more clearly than anyone ever before—but that’s a story for another post!

Rather than focusing on thoughts like I should do this or that, I began to visualize through words what “this or that” actually looked like since I couldn’t really picture it in my head.  I wanted to go bigger and broader and just have the ultimate sensation of what mattered to me most—joy, peace, passion, love and sharing that world with others.  When I wrote that new reality, I liked it so much I transferred it from a scratch sheet of paper to writing it out in a formal journal.  Then I knew I needed to read it more often so I typed it up and made three copies:  one was taped up at my desk at work, one at my desk at home and the other was on my side of our bathroom mirror.  Every day I read that entire sheet of paper to myself whenever I was in front of it and I started to see myself through it.  Every day I got closer to stepping away from my reality at the time and today I can say that every single line on that piece of paper is absolutely true.

When I wrote it, I thought I was describing a new job—the career I was “supposed” to have developed for myself by this time in my life…but I could never have imagined or truly pictured that while some lines would refer to my day job now which I LOVE SO much, other lines refer to this life, the life of Healthy Living by V, the part of me who is able to do all of those things that I had hoped for but could never actually see.

It certainly didn’t happen overnight.  In fact, from there I went on to another job that took me SO FAR out of my element that I was not myself at all for an entire year.  But even though in SO many ways I could have seen it as “worse” than I ever had it before, it taught me SO MUCH about me and what I wanted and certainly what I never wanted again.  So I don’t look back at any moment as a terrible time in my life anymore.  In fact, without some of the people I met and worked with along the way no matter where I was, I wouldn’t have grown or appreciate all I do now.  I have amazing friends and know some of the most wonderful people for whom I have the utmost respect, admiration and appreciation.  I am so grateful for them all.

Ultimately, whenever I stopped judging others and myself and my world and my pain and my anger and I finally let it all go, I was able to begin creating the potential, the love, the joy and the happiness that was rightfully mine—as it is for all of us—this whole time.

Love,

V

Darn This Sweet Tooth!

As my schedule continues to change and I fill my days and weeks with more and more activities, I find that I’m making less time for things that I still truly enjoy.  One of which was keeping my house clean and in order but I’ll keep working on that.  The other is writing this blog which I am so passionate about but can take hours out of any day.  Since I’m naturally long-winded I’m going to start focusing on one simple swap or adjustment that either continues to work for me or something new I’m willing to try and maybe we can work on one new change at a time together.

Darn this sweet tooth!

This week is going to be all about keeping this sweet tooth of mine in check.  I’ve said it over and over that I’m no fan of deprivation.  I just don’t believe in cutting out an indulgence because for me that often means a binge of said sweetness whenever my willpower is a little on the weaker side.  I’m much more of a fan of making the best choices possible 80% of the time and allowing a bite or two of something here and there.  But after the last several months I went way past “here and there” in the sweet department and now am having to readjust my habits, again.

sweets

So my quick adjustment for as long as I need to break that sweet tooth habit is to flank each desired indulgence with as many fruits as possible.  The natural (water-based) source of sweet combined with the added benefits of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and fiber will gradually train my body to be satisfied with the good stuff and eventually crave it more.  It has worked for me before and it’s starting to work for me again now.  I’m armed with pieces of fruit at home, at the office and anywhere I go and if I see a piece of chocolate I really want to try or a cookie that I decide I don’t want to pass up before it goes the fruit and then after as well.  I do this with my meals, too.  It’s already starting to help adjust my cravings and I’m feeling much more in control which feels like such a relief after these last several months.

It’s my opinion that you can never have too many fruits–or vegetables, for that matter.  It’s true that it would be taking in extra calories and sugar to eat fruit before and after everything else or even if you weren’t really hungry but compared to the alternative, I’m willing to take in that excess.  Mostly because I’m trying to create a good habit which can’t be done by eliminating foods that we crave.  I find my body responds much better by developing a new craving for a more nutritious option than to just cut out something it’s used to with no alternative for satisfaction.

If you have the same tendency as I do towards sweets try this tip out and let me know what you think!  It takes at least a couple of weeks to create a new habit so stick with it and stay consistent and maybe we’ll revisit this one again next month.  Cheers to healthy living!

Love,

V

Starting over again…

Starting over again…

Going through the last few weeks, I realized that I’m not alone in feeling a little bit stagnant in some of the changes I’ve been trying to make for myself this year.  I have new goals and aspirations and I’m in a period of evaluation that I think others may relate to so let’s see if we can explore it together.

Excuses, excuses…that’s all they are.

The other day I heard myself telling someone “I just don’t have the time…” and it stopped me almost as soon as I said it.  Let’s be honest, how accurate is that statement?  Is it that I don’t have the time for whatever it was I was responding to or was it that I instinctively didn’t want to invest my time in that particular activity?  The truth is, by a series of choices we make every day, we’ve found ourselves right where we are.  Putting aside those unique obligations that may stretch us extremely thin from time to time, to say that we don’t have the time to eat well, exercise, rest when we need to, and so on comes down to how we choose to prioritize our needs.

No matter what we commit ourselves to the first step is always to be honest about it.  We choose to get up for the job we’ve committed to…or we quit, we choose to be there for our family and friends…or we neglect them and we choose to either take care of ourselves however we can…or we don’t.  Being aware of how we perceive our reality is the first place for us to make any change in our lives at all.  Whatever our true priorities are, that’s where we invest ourselves and so I now realize it’s much more accurate to say “I choose to spend my [time, money, energy…] this way rather than that.”  There’s no reason to judge our choices, just be honest about them.  That way when we find a contradiction with what we say we want and what we continue to choose to do, then we know it’s time to take a step beyond the words and take a step towards action.

begin-again

There’s no right or wrong way to start…just start somewhere.

For anyone who decides to create a new reality for themselves, where to start can be the hardest step and I am no exception.  My current lifestyle didn’t happen overnight and how I started is certainly nothing like I live my life now.  So in the beginning, I had to figure out what I could do and that meant being realistic about where I was and start to make small adjustments like cutting my meals in half, choosing water over all other drinks and maybe try a new workout video.  With my current lifestyle, it means increasing my fruit and vegetable intake and making sure I always have a loaded supply of healthy snacks on hand wherever I am.  It also means learning to incorporate lower impact cardio to balance out all of the strength and high impact activities I do as well as finding more time for periods of meditation to make sure I feed my spirit.

There are so many different methods to either cut out or incorporate new habits, not to mention different theories as to which approach works best but don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by it.  The truth is there is no one perfect method because we’re all so different.  We have different needs, different life experiences, different physical, mental and emotional make-ups and all we can do is be open to our potential and keep trying new things to see what works.  Healthy living is a journey for us to create a lifestyle that brings out the best in us so be aware of what brings you joy versus what brings you down and just start taking the steps.  Make them small enough to stay consistent because once you start even the smallest steps will be no less significant.

Everyone benefits from a challenge.

Taking my own advice of allowing the occasional indulgence and not depriving myself of “celebrations” throughout the holidays, I found myself struggling with getting back on track throughout the last several weeks and not just nutritionally, emotionally as well.  The hardest part was trying not to judge myself for the slips that happened more often than intended but at the same time it gave me a chance to reinforce for myself that there is nothing to judge…ever.  It is completely normal to slip, to fall, to hit a plateau, to feel discouraged.  What’s most important, however, is that we recognize those are the BEST times for us to gain strength and empowerment by getting back up, starting over and trying again as often as we need.  That’s what matters—not the slips and not the falls themselves no matter how long they last or how broken we feel, but the way we build ourselves back up because of that experience.

For me, some of the challenges I am currently going through are by choice.  I recognized a need for myself to get back on track with some of my personal passions, activities and nutritional habits and am accepting various “challenges” through programs that best fit me and what I’d like to accomplish.  For others, the challenges experienced feel like a giant black hole has been dumped into their lap but, again, I encourage all of us to embrace these moments as our best opportunities for growth.  Choosing that perspective rather than judging it or comparing it to where we think we should be can mean all the difference in the world we create for ourselves.  Regardless of your current state or struggles, welcome the challenge and hang on tight.  Believe in them and believe in yourself and know that with every step forward you take, you truly are better than you were the day before.

Love,

V

Get Your MIND Right!

Get Your MIND Right!

This is a favorite saying at Octane Athletic Performance and is literally part of the writing on the wall when we come in for the challenge of each workout.  It’s the perfect reminder that in order to get the most out of anything we do in there, we have to have the right mindset from the start.  This practice is also very similar to the way your Yoga Instructor may ask you to set an intention for yourself at the beginning of a class.  If you have a certain goal, focus or approach in mind that you know will help you through any activity or obstacle, you increase your effectiveness and the greater your chances of overall success.  Let’s explore just a few more mantras and affirmations that can help us through the wonderful challenges that life has to offer so we can learn and grow and strengthen along the way.

I am stronger than ever!  This was my own personal mantra when I first started to work out and anything longer than 15 minutes on a treadmill was a serious achievement.  I was almost 40 lbs down from where I had been but was still more than 20 lbs heavier than where I am now.  I could have kept thoughts in mind that said “Oh, but I still have SO much farther to go…I’m so weak…This is embarrassing…I still have too much to lose…This is so tough…I hate this, I hate that…”  Those thoughts were a typical part of my day before I changed my lifestyle and it clearly didn’t do me any good at all.  So instead of focusing on excuses or activities I didn’t enjoy, I committed to trying as many things as I could and focused on what I could enjoy and could learn to love.  Eventually, it was much more effective to train myself to change my thoughts before I attempted to change my body.  When I started trying new fitness activities, this was the mantra I allowed to roll through my head and repeat whenever it felt like it was just “too much.”  No matter where I was physically, I knew I was healthier and stronger than I was even from the day before just by making a consistent effort and THAT is all that matters.

Your mind will give up long before your body will.  I love this one because I remember so clearly when I first heard it.  I was working my way towards the end of one of Octane’s strength and conditioning classes and I was really feeling it.  It must have shown on our faces because, as if he was reading our minds, Octane Trainer Mitchell Fischer encouragingly reminded us of this fact.  It actually made me pause and consider its meaning as I moved through the last couple of sets.  There I was, out of breath, struggling, feeling my muscles so tired that I was beginning to wonder if I could finish the set.  Then these words were exactly what I needed to make a clear choice to keep moving no matter what.  I was not going to let my body down because my mind thought I couldn’t handle the rest of the exercises.  It is a great reminder that no matter what you think you can’t handle, your mind has the ability to keep you going as long as you let it.

Octane

My potential is limitless.  Making healthy choices, whether it be through nutritional habits, physical fitness or anything that improves our overall wellness, is much more manageable when we believe that we’re truly capable of anything and everything we hope to achieve.  Filling yourself with doubt about your own potential is the surest way to limit yourself and reduce your chances towards success.

Also keep in mind that if you waste your time focusing on what you think you can’t do but also let thoughts consume you with what and where you think you need to be, you set yourself up for a constant struggle.  Worrying about every aspect of your life and what your days should look like, what you should look like, what your relationships should look like is counterintuitive to believing your potential is limitless.  Your confidence that there is nothing you can’t do is most effective when you pair that belief with being completely open to whatever you’re meant to do and wherever you’re meant to be.

This week’s challenge is for you to identify which of your thoughts can be replaced with just one of the many mantras, mottos or sayings that can help you redirect your focus towards a healthy and accomplished lifestyle.  Once you’re able to adopt a few that really speak to you and your goals, begin a journal that you use to reinforce the idea that you create your own reality and write each one down at least twice daily—every morning and at night—and most importantly in present tense.  In a short matter of time, you will begin to see results that you never came close to before and more importantly, you will finally be able to adopt the mindset that will help you let go of what you think life is supposed to be for you and be open to your true potential.

Love,

V