Thankful Thursday: What I’m Thankful for this Week

imageDo you believe in the power of dreams?

I’ve never been the kind of person to sit and analyze my dreams. I can never find the symbolism in the randomness and the memories fade so quickly that I’m left clawing at the fog, no closer to figuring out just what the heck was going on in my subconscious.

But being the overanalytical sort that I am in my conscious mind, I do feel the way dreams resonate with me after I’ve woken up. Instead of remembering events or faces, I feel what each image evokes. Fear. Trepidation. Joy. Anxiety. Calm. Hope.

It’s been a long time since I’ve dreamed.

I lost touch with the fantastic in my own life. I allowed myself to get boxed in by doubt and fears, further fueled by exhaustion and a creeping apathy. Why was I doing all of this? What is the point?

This site has bared the brunt of this burden. I’ve kicked it about and ignored it when it was calling to me. I never returned messages and I kept putting it in my “I’ll get to it later” pile. I’ve been a terrible girlfriend.

And you always appreciate what you had once it’s gone.

I come back here each Thursday as a reminder to dream. There are so many things I want to share with all of you and too many articles in my mind that I have yet to commit to words. The journey is ongoing. My exploration is tireless.

The amazing part here is that I can still dream and dream big. I welcomed back the butterflies in my stomach that usually accompany the whimsy of my dreams. There’s fear. There’s trepidation. There’s some anxiety. But there’s also joy. And more importantly, there’s hope.

A testament to those butterflies came in the form of two major wins for me this week.

I’ve avoided the scale for about six months. It’s not a secret that I have an issue with numbers and what they mean to me. No matter how many times I look at my reflection or feel the way clothes fit, the numbers on a scale always manage to make me feel much heavier than I actually am. I zero in on my weight as the end-all-be-all for everything, when in actuality weight has no bearing on the significant strides I’ve made this year to be healthy and fit.

So I threw the scale under my bed and forgot about it.

I decided to take new measurements to track my progress from six months ago and part of that process includes weighing myself.

I won’t go into the number. I will say that it’s my lowest body weight since I hit puberty, but that’s not the victory here.

I got on the scale, looked at the number, let the shock course through my veins, and then stepped off. I put the scale back under my bed and walked away.

In the space of five minutes, I’d realized how monumental this was for me.

I worked so hard to lose weight these last four years because my goal was to be thin and to look a certain way. I have no shame in saying that because aesthetics will always play a part.

This was the first time that I’d stepped on a scale and let that process have a very clear beginning and end. I didn’t step off thinking to myself, “this is good, but let’s bring this down another 5lbs,” the way I’ve done every single time I’ve weighed myself in the past. I didn’t obsess over what that number really meant compared to my reflection. I didn’t think about how cool it was either.

I stepped off. Put it away. And moved on.

Weight is such a small piece in the big picture of healthy living. The real work I’ve put into myself comes in the form of positive thinking, self-motivation, and testing both my body and mind by pushing myself to try new things in all areas of my life.

None of that comes up on the scale. I don’t get a happiness rating when I check my BMI. My body fat percentage doesn’t come with an assessment of my worthiness as a human being.

I’m finally beginning to understand myself on a deeper level, and that right there, is one of the biggest victories I’ve had this year.

My second win this week is much more direct. I’ve come back to powerlifting with more ambition and dedication this past month. My goal was to hit a 225lb deadlift by my 30th birthday in December.

Yesterday I realized that I aimed low and that I should never ever doubt myself.

Instead of going into the specifics, I thought I’d show you instead. The lift wasn’t pretty, but I got it done.


What are your big “wins” for the week?

What are you thankful for?

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

A Woman’s Intuition

image

A bit of visual inspiration today from my tea.

When was the last time you felt innocent?

Did you trust your naiveté or did you scoff at the supposed silliness of looking at the world through such a broad lens?

As we grow older we let go of the wild imagination of our youth in favor of what’s logical.

I can’t help but wonder, what’s so great about being logical?

Before experience and influence hardened my views into the practicalities of adulthood, I dreamed.

I dreamed recklessly, without abandon. The world was so huge and limitless.

The innocence gave way to disillusionment over the years and dreaming so big became scary.

I clamped down on the urge to explore beyond a certain point because the unknown was fraught with all sorts of frightening repercussions. Kind of like the big bad monster that lived in my dark closet which scared the crap out of me when I was four.

Twenty-five years later and the monster still has me shaking in my boots.

I sit here drinking my tea, dreaming.

I dare to look at the monster in the face for at least a minute and I’m going to say, “BOO!” just this once.

My four-year old self would be proud of me.

What’s your transformation story?

What inspires you to change?

As always, keep paying it forward and stay healthy! 🙂

Stress Less and Meditate Already

It’s been a stressful couple of weeks.

I take that back. It’s been a stressful couple of months.

Not surprisingly, I’ve also been feeling like crap most of the time. The impact of stress on the body is tremendous. Just take a look at this infographic to see how much stress can affect more than just your mood on any given day.

https://i0.wp.com/dailyinfographic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/infographic-stress-effects.png

We know this. Stress=bad.

The constant advice to “chill out” and not “sweat the small stuff” tends to go in one ear and out the other. I’m guilty of this most of the time even though I find myself doling out that same piece of advice to others, knowing how difficult it is to just let go of the things that cause me to stress out.

There are ways to break this negative cycle.

And guess what: it’s free. No therapist or prescription necessary. Even better, you can start right now. You can start right this minute. Go ahead and stop reading my post if this means you’ll do this exercise to feel better.

What’s this remedy?

Meditation.

I’ve mentioned how I’ve incorporated meditation into my healthy lifestyle as a way to ease some of my tension on a daily basis. It’s a process that I stray from sometimes, but whenever I’m feeling my stress levels peak (take this week for example), I find myself sitting at my desk with my eyes closed, breathing deeply and shutting down for a little while.

If we can hibernate our computers, why can’t we do the same with our minds?

We are constantly buzzing all day with any number of obligations to others, but we underestimate the value of true downtime. And I mean real downtime. Like with no phones or television or tablets to distract us from realigning our minds with our bodies.

I am by no means an expert meditation master. I mainly follow a guided listening sample and try my best to sit still, breathe, and not think so damn much. Some days are much better than others. The important thing is that I’m taking the time to stop, something I never ever on a normal basis.

Let’s be honest here and talk about the total lack of mindfulness we bring to our daily choices. I, for one, grow tired of going through the motions in the process of getting from point A to point B. That lacks depth and it keeps me disconnected, further contributing to my stress and unhappiness.

Being mindful of my surroundings through my meditation practice helps raise my awareness of not only the physical reactions of my body in that moment, but it helps clear my mind of the uncertainties I may be feeling towards a given situation. It regulates my mood while also giving me some time to put things into perspective. What’s even more impressive is that it increases my productively which in turn, makes me feel more successful and more motivated to stay focused on my goals. It’s self-efficacy at its finest.

There are a number of studies linking meditation with a reduction in stress due to decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol while increasing cognitive function. Some of the other benefits from mediation include:

https://i0.wp.com/robertmijas.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/meditation.png
Courtesy of http://robertmijas.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/meditation.png

How can you start mediating?

There are various meditation practices that you can try either alone or with meditation groups. There are dozens of meditation meetups in New York City alone, so it may be worth checking in your area for similar programs.

I practice mindfulness meditation but my style is pretty fluid. I don’t have room for a meditation space, so I’ve learned to adapt to my surroundings and just find a spot where I can sit without distractions for at least 15 minutes. Since my mind is always going, I listen to guided affirmations or meditation music I’ve found on YouTube to establish a peaceful environment where I can let my thoughts drift.

If you’re looking for other types of meditation techniques and ways to get started as a beginner, here’s a great guide from FitSugar.

What does this cost me? Nothing.

My goal isn’t to have a transcendental experience or a conversation with God. I’m not Elizabeth Gilbert nor am I planning on moving to an ashram anytime soon. I just want some peace of mind.

pci

I seek balance with everything I’m doing. From my diet to my exercise to my mental and emotional well-being; it’s all about keeping things level especially during times when the scales are off and all I want to do is stay under my covers watching Netflix until I pass out (sounds so damn good right now).

The “run and hide” approach may work if your five, but that strategy doesn’t work as well when you’re an adult. Trust me. I’ve tried.

I’ll continue working on my meditation practice and hopefully one day I’ll know enough to come back here and share some more tips on how to get you started. For now I hope that I’ve swayed at least one person to give this meditation thing a try.

Like I said earlier, if this means that you need to stop reading this blog to practice, please don’t hesitate. In fact, go. Get up and just do it already.

Do you meditate?

Would you try meditation to help ease your stress?

How do you cope with stress?

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: