Thankful Thursday: Why Not Me?

Thankful Thursdays on Food4ThoughtNYC

The alarm went off at 3am.

What the hell am I doing up at this hour?

Groggy and bleary-eyed, I rolled out of bed and turned my computer on.

Ah, this is what happens when you procrastinate, I told myself.

I’d let myself go up against a deadline and decided to wake up several hours before the workday so that I could finish my writing assignment. Having been exactly here before, I started the familiar process of beating myself up over a myriad of issues all contributing to my having to sit at my desk at 3am.

“If only you’d gotten yourself organized….”

“You always do this…”

“Everyone else has their shit together, but you can’t…”

You get the idea.

Have you ever stopped and listened to how you talk about yourself? It’s brutal.

Most of us have moments of doubt. New experiences and challenges often brings out our fears, which have a powerful hold on us whether we like it or not.

I recently went to an event hosted by Jillian Michaels where she spoke about how to lose weight, exercise, and build confidence to reach our goals. Interesting enough, although not particularly earth-shattering. Nevertheless, Michaels is a badass and a great speaker to boot, so I followed along.

What caused me to perk up and take notice was this question she asked:

Why not me?

Simple enough and one that I’d heard in some variation for over a year now. But in that moment,  it sounded so right.

I can sit here and talk until I’m blue in the face about how you need to celebrate all of the little unique foibles and idiosyncrasies that make up who you are. But I rarely do that for myself, and if I do, I usually dismiss it as being too selfish.

That’s all fear. That I know through and through. How do I break that fear cycle?

Michaels spoke about fear and tore apart the notion that the goal is to be fearless in all of our endeavors. Fear is a normal human response to situations that cause stress. We’re fighting a losing battle if we think that we can just ignore fear and “fake it ’till we make it,” without putting in the work to change our inner dialogue from one of discord to one of compassion.

Fear sneaks up on you. It knows when your guard is down and it keeps you immobilized, especially at times when you really need to move.

At 3am on a Monday morning, I felt that fear creep in as I typed away, until I asked myself:

Why not me?

And I kid you not, the fear slowly faded. My energy levels kicked up. My focus cleared and I felt a renewed sense of purpose.

Years have gone by with me wringing my hands, worrying myself to death over not accomplishing the course that I thought my life would take by the time I hit 30. I built up expectations of what my life should look like and when things didn’t go according to that plan, I very meticulously broke myself down until all I had left was fear and self-doubt.

The truth I’ve come to accept is that there is no “plan”, no one-size-fits-all approach to life that applies to everyone. We’ve created a status quo to follow, and kill ourselves to fit that mold. Creativity is stifled in favor of a life that we don’t want to live, and yet we don’t stop to consider what we actually want because we’re so afraid of going off that beaten track.

Each of us has a gift to contribute to this world that you alone can bring. There are realities that ground us, but by ignoring your inner voice, or worse, giving it a regular smackdown so that you can continue living unhappily, is unacceptable.

I’ve asked myself this question almost daily and each time I find myself pushing a little bit further past the walls I’d built so long ago to get closer to my passion and truth. I’m working harder than ever to accomplish goals and more importantly, I’m taking better care of how I talk about myself.

Instead of beating myself down, I’m choosing to lift myself up, to be grateful and forgiving, to be curious and determined, to be accepting of my fears but balanced in my approach. Some days are harder then others, but I’m investing the time to improve my relationship with myself and that’s worth the effort.

Ask yourself this question each time you experience fear: Why not me?

Thankful Thursday: Why not me?

How do you talk about yourself?

Why do you think we follow a status quo?

What was your answer when you asked, ‘why not me’?

What are you grateful for?

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, or on FB and Twitter.

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

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Introducing…Me: The Liebster Award

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I owe Annie of Strong Brees a HUGE hug for nominating me for the Liebster Award! Here it comes Annie:

<HUG>

Thank you times a million!

What I love most about these awards is the opportunity to get to know new bloggers who are doing some pretty awesome things on their sites and to spread the love. This also gives us a chance to pull back the curtain and share a bit of our origin story for those of you just tuning in.

It’s a great time all-around. So without further ado, let the share-fest begin!

First, let’s go over some of the rules:

  • You must link back to the person who nominated you.
  • You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.
  • You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award.
  • You must create 10 questions for your nominees.
  • You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees.

Got it? Good.

Here’s my Q&A courtesy of Annie:

1.  What inspired you to begin blogging?
There’s no one simple answer here, but the tipping point for me was back in 2009. I’d reached a point where I was really frustrated with my weight and overall appearance. I started to change my eating and exercise habits, researching (I’m obsessed with research!) nutrition and different workout routines, experimenting and ultimately found a pattern that worked. By 2012, I’d hit a lot of my goals but I still felt like I had so many questions about health and nutrition that I wanted to figure out. Why do some diets work for some people but don’t for others? How can we change our environment to be more accepting of different body types instead of emulating an unrealistic beauty standard? What can I do to help people overcome issues with ED and unhappiness?  At the suggestion of several of my friends I decided to start writing. I spent a week in London during the Olympics in 2012, and was so inspired that I spent the entire flight home writing out what would become Food4ThoughtNYC. I never looked back after that.
2.  What is your favorite piece of workout apparel?
me and Underarmour gearI’m obsessed with anything by UnderArmour, especially their leggings. They offer the perfect amount of flexibility and compression without feeling bulky or too tight. Plus, they look awesome! I’ve also learned over time that nothing beats a cotton top. I used to love all of those high-tech sweat-wicking materials but quickly realized that they smell pretty awful mid-workout. Invest your money in the shorts or pants and stick to inexpensive and comfortable tops- just a tip!
3.  What is one type of workout you have not yet tried but are curious about?
There’s two- Zumba and Crossfit. Talk about polar opposites! I’m a powerlifter and usually prefer workouts that are a bit more slow-paced with heavy weights. This year I’ve created some new goals around increasing my endurance which means I need to start embracing workouts that are fast-paced with a cardio component. One of my best friends is obsessed with Crossfit and I can’t go a day without coming across a blog post talking about whatever WOD they crushed. I want to drink the Koolaid too! And Zumba just looks like crazy fun. I can shimmy with the best of them, so why not make it a workout?
4.  What did you eat for breakfast (be honest, no judgement here!)?
Ah, you caught me! I just had a giant cup of coffee, but I’m working hard to minimize the extras I throw in. So, only a few teaspoons of sugar, sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon, a few drops of half-and-half, and a bit of coconut oil. That’s right, I put coconut oil in my coffee! I’ve read that it’s great for your digestive health and while the science behind the benefits of all things coconut is still a bit murky, I personally find this little addition pretty great for me. I like experimenting! And I also had a slice of whole wheat toast. I’ve got a green smoothie on tap once I finish writing this post.
5.  Name one thing you do, wear, or own that gives you the most confidence?
Great question. I’m gonna go with writing. It’s a funny answer for me because writing also gives me a lot of anxiety. I worry if what I’m sharing will resonate or fall flat or if my grammar is completely screwed up. Sometimes I run away from it altogether, and I’ve taken some long breaks from my blog as a result. But I find the ebb and flow of my writing journey the past two years to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. There are times when I’m literally bursting at the seams to sit down and get my thoughts down either on paper or on my site. It’s been cathartic, especially when I wrote about my issues with disordered eating or racial identity. And as much as it terrifies to put that out there for the world to read and potentially criticize, I always feel like I’ve triumphed in some way. It’s a roundabout way towards feeling confident, but nevertheless it’s been the most effective.
6.  If you could go for a walk/run anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Impossible to answer! I’m a travel nut and my bucket list is way too long. I was in Moab last summer and while there I experienced some of the most serene moments in my life. Sitting there and staring out at these massive rock formations and the valleys between just made me feel so small and so huge at the same time. me and moabThose are the emotions I like to go for whenever I visit somewhere new. I suppose the next place I’d like to feel that would probably be the antithesis of Moab, so a forest comes to mind. I’d love to see the Sequoias in California or some of the old-world forests in Europe. My second choice would be somewhere mountainous. Clearly, nature wins for me!
7.  If time and money were no issue what would you do for a day?
Only one day?? Take a long walk in the early morning to a new neighborhood in NYC. Have breakfast (calories don’t count in this dream right?) and coffee at a slow pace. Visit a museum or go to the park for a few hours to read. Go home and experiment with a new recipe. Watch a movie. Call up a friend and go to a beer garden or outdoor restaurant to enjoy a meal, a few drinks, and a conversation, again at an unhurried pace. Eat dessert. Go home and play with my dog. Then go to bed. Nothing fancy or crazy. And completely unplugged from the digital world. I spend nearly every waking hour online for myself or for work and as much as I enjoy it, there are days when you just need to detox. This would be one of those days.
8.  Cardio or weights?  Why?
WEIGHTS. All the way. I’m a powerlifter, so yeah, weights.
Maribel- 195x2 Deadlift 5-17-13
Every time I tried losing weight in the past I’d go the cardio route only to quit pretty soon after. I don’t blame the exercise so much as a lack of understanding on my part of what really worked for me. When I started lifting with my personal trainer a year ago, something clicked. It’s a difficult challenge, but it was something I actually enjoyed doing, which was very different from every time I’ve hit the pavement attempting to run a couple of miles. This is why I make it my mission to tell everyone to ignore whatever workout trend is currently making the rounds and to quit believing that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. Some of my friends are avid runners who get the high and love the feeling they get from hitting the pavement each day. Others swim, hike, dance, do yoga, spin, kickbox- or lift like I do. And even still, I’m not locked into one thing. This afternoon I’m going swimming and I’ve got a yoga session in store for tomorrow. I choose weights, but that’s not my only choice.
9.  Do you drink coffee? If so, how do you like it?
Ah, scroll up to read my answer to #4, lol. Yes. Coffee and I are old old friends. I even wrote about it here.
10.  What accomplishment are you most proud of?
In no specific order: hitting my 230lb deadlift before my 30th birthday last December when I originally aimed for 225lbs; being featured in Latina magazine this year as a top blogger; conquering my fear of bikes by learning to ride last year; getting healthy and fit for me and not for anyone else which was a MAJOR life lesson; traveling through 4 continents and living abroad more than once; nailing an internship with a startup whose mission I actually believe in that inspires me everyday; letting go of some of the pain from my past by embracing gratitude, forgiveness, and meditation as part of my daily practice; starting this crazy blog that led me to meet some truly incredible people out there who are proudly sharing their stories and constantly inspiring me with their honesty, passion, strength, and creativity. Thank you for all that you do!
I’m honestly gobsmacked by the amount of support and encouragement I’ve been lucky to receive from people I’ll probably never meet in real life, but who come here and find something that strikes a chord with them. I do this for me, to leave my mark in the universe in my own way. But really, I do this for you too.
I’ve said it from the beginning: my intention here is to start a conversation. I want to connect and learn from you to see how even the smallest exchange can create waves of change in our corners of the world. A million thank yous to each and every single one of you who’ve laid eyes on my page and the sites of all the bloggers out there that are working just as hard to create something truly unique.
The world needs more unique. 🙂
Alright, now the fun doesn’t stop here. It’s time to nominate what I consider to be truly incredible blogs that I’ve recently discovered and to continue paying it forward (my motto!).
And here are my questions (keeping some of Annie’s because they were great!)
1.  What inspired you to begin blogging?
2.  How do you feel about social media and being “connected”?
3.  What is one type of workout you have not yet tried but are curious about?
4.  What is your favorite healthy recipe?
5.  Name one thing you do, wear, or own that gives you the most confidence.
6.  If you could go for a walk/run anywhere in the world, where would it be?
7.  What song, movie or book inspires you?
8.  Do you practice meditation or have an interest in trying it out?
9.  Why do you write?
10.  What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Congrats to all of the nominees. Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Happy Easter!

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

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Thankful Thursday: The Word Vomit

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Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.                                                          -Cheryl Strayed

I stood there, in front of the fridge, holding the door wide open, completely lost in thought. I forgot what I was looking for several minutes ago.  It wasn’t until the increasingly ripe romaine I’d left on the bottom shelf hit my nostrils (note to self: throw it away!), that I dropped my gaze and allowed my eyes to refocus on the contents on the fridge. Dinner? Oh right, dinner.

Dinner turned out to be a bowl of cereal with the almond milk my eyes landed on once I came out of my dream state. I just couldn’t be bothered.

I found myself thinking about where I’d gotten lost. Because that’s what it’s felt like lately. The world, as I knew it, had tilted. Up became down. Left became right. And I’ve been wobbling along trying to regain my center of gravity in an unknown, foggy landscape.

What do you do when change throws you off course? And I’m not just talking about changing jobs or changing an address. I’m talking about the heavy stuff. Like when you find that things that used to resonate with you down to the core, suddenly ring hollow? Or when the people you’ve grown close to, suddenly seem so far away? Or finding yourself in the other person’s shoes in a relationship?

Apparently, what I do is I stand in front of the fridge with my gym clothes on and stare at a carton of almond milk until my legs start to break out in goosebumps from the cold.

In all fairness, I’ve sidestepped a lot of these issues, allowing them to quietly churn the insides of my mind until it decided it needed more room to churn, and then it downshifted to my heart. That’s where I feel it; right there, smack dab in the middle of my chest. Pretty soon it’ll beat it’s way up my esophagus, through my throat, until it finds my larynx, and Opa! here comes the word vomit!

This may surprise you, lucky reader (s? maybe more than one of you will read this rambling post? maybe not?) , but I tend to bottle up a lot of what I’m feeling. Since I started blogging, and especially since I segued into the magical age of 30, I see the value in expressing what you feel in a way that’s both honest and constructive. That second word is key here, as I had no trouble expressing myself in the past, but usually with little thought given to how all that talk could actually lead to anything productive. But I make a conscious choice to work through the endless parade of perpetually conflicting ideas going through my brain at all hours of the day before I end up word vomiting all over you.

The problem is that I keep so much of it in that it usually ends pretty messy. I’m having a lot more of these stand-in-front-of-the-fridge-lost-in-la-la-land moments than I used to, and to be quite honest, it makes me want to shrug off the very notion of gratitude. What’s there to be grateful for when I can barely complete a simple task (dinner? oh right, dinner), without letting these huge questions about the changes in life bring me to the brink of….I dunno, is it the word vomit thing again or maybe it’s just tears? Maybe both? Sigh.

I begin way too many thoughts and conversations with that phrase, “I don’t know…” because that’s what this all boils down to in the end. I have no clue what I’m doing in any part of my life at least 99% of the time (I attribute the 1% to sleeping, which I believe I know how to do pretty well). Worse yet, I’ve lost the words to articulate exactly what it is I’m experiencing.

All you wise birds out there reading this (again, assuming anyone other than myself lays eyes on this thing), are probably clucking your tongues, going, “Oh, you’re just in it, and soon this won’t be so bad. Change happens, love, and you’ll learn to embrace it.” True. I can roll with that. In fact, I have been rolling with that, fairly bumpy road and all. But does it have to hurt so damn much?

Yes, I suppose it does. Change isn’t meant to be easy. Nor, I’d argue, are we really built for the emotional upheaval that comes with change, nevermind our inherent survival instincts. All that adrenaline fades at some point, and what you’re left with is a pile of unresolved issues that you dropped when you were running from one thing to the next. Maybe I’ve just been running for too long and it’s all catching up with me. Maybe I need to keep on running. I don’t know (Ah, there it is again).

So I ask, what is there to be grateful for? Ah all sort of things of course. But let me not pretend to pull a one-eighty here and tidy this all up with a nice little bow at the end. Things are far from tidy in my world these days.

I suppose what I can offer up to the universe right now is that I’m grateful for this. This moment. Or let me take it one step further. Every single moment I’ve found myself standing in front of a fridge, or mid-step to my bedroom, or at the crosswalk waiting for the light to change, or at my desk with blurred eyes staring at my computer screen. Each of those moments are packed with introspection; a quiet observation of who I am and where I am.

Some of those moments carry the lightness of wonder and imagination where I transport myself beyond the limits of my circumstances,where I dare to color outside of the box. Other moments bring me to the dark corners that force me to bend to the will of fear and self-doubt. And then there are those incredible moments where all I feel is the warm embrace of love and hope in a more peaceful existence, not just for myself but for the world around me.

The mind and the heart are tricky things. We carry a world of lies and truths in both, each and every single day and sometimes it’s a struggle to suss out which is which as changes happen and our paths branch out. What I’ll continue to tell myself and maybe you, lucky reader (s?) can also find helpful, is that it’s okay to feel that burden sometimes. Allow yourself to go through it and do what needs to be done to let it out in a way that’s going to make you stronger in the end.

Thank you for reading. And uh…sorry for word vomiting all over you.

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Have something to be thankful for? Or maybe a comment you’d like to share? Feel free to post them in the comments below or go ahead and post on FB or Twitter. Whatever floats your boat.

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

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