New Year, Not a New You

Their BAAAAAAAACK…. the ghosts of New Years’ Past. My Facebook feed is flooded with diet and fitness challenges, “transform your body and your mind, become a NEW YOU”. Cue the screeching tires sound effect. The record scratch. Wait, what???? A NEW YOU???? #SorryNotSorry, but I HATE this idea. I don’t believe that any of us have to become a NEW us. In fact, I’d argue that you are all pretty fantastic, amazing people, who probably need to develop some new habits and self-determination around making some changes. Changes that can be pretty effing difficult when you have a life that’s filled with responsibility and adulting. Chances are, if you’re entertaining the idea of a new you, you’ve already entertained the idea that there is something wrong with you. This makes you “self-aware” and is the source of initiative and motivation.

Many of us will start the New You challenge and fall off half way, or we won’t see immediate results, so we’ll dump the diet-thinking, “what’s the point”. I’m here to help move you toward your goals. You don’t need to become a NEW YOU to engage in healthier habits. You don’t need to become a NEW YOU to change your thinking about health and wellness. You don’t need to become a NEW YOU to feel better or be better. You’ve ALWAYS had that in you, you just need to rediscover and uncover all that is stopping you from getting there.

In order to make those changes, we need to start changing the way we think about things. How can we do this? Through mindfulness and knowledge. JUST knowing about nutrition, makes you more aware of your choices when you’re at the grocery store. Understanding how our emotions and thoughts impact our behavior, helps us become more aware when we are affected by anger, anxiety, ecstasy, grief, and a host of other emotions.

Your thoughts, emotions, and behavior can be changed. Research in neuroscience has shown that our brains are plastic, meaning, our intelligence is not fixed, it can improve and grow. Even more incredible, just KNOWING your brain is plastic and malleable, leads to more self-regulation and perseverance. Imagine the speed and strength of these transformations with the support of a coach, to guide you through the mental and physical exercise to maximize cognitive performance and self-regulation.

Stanford Professor, Carol Dweck, has studied the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people with the same talents. Her findings suggest that these people are largely divided by their mindset. That is, successful people believe that growth is possible, and are focused on the process of learning and growing. People in a growth mindset see effort as necessary for growth and learning, embrace challenges, see mistakes as learning opportunities, and appreciate and see feedback as useful. People in a fixed state believe that you are born with specific skills, and are focused on performance and not looking bad (ego strength). People in a fixed mindset don’t value effort and practice-they want things to be naturally easy, they back down or give up in the face of challenge or struggle, hate and are discouraged by mistakes made, and get defensive when offered feedback.

Mindfulness can help us reach our goals and change our fixed mindset to being a growth mindset.  The more we are mindful of our thoughts, the more we can change our behavior associated with those thoughts.

In the spirit of becoming the YOU that has always been there, I challenge you to give mindfulness a try. If your goal is to shed some body fat, practice mindful eating. Notice the texture, taste, and chewing of your food, the sensation of being hungry or full, and the emotions you’re experiencing just before and after eating. When you crave a snack, notice what you’re doing. Are you trying to avoid completing a difficult project, do you need a break, are you feeling stressed, or depressed, or anxious. Notice the feelings, acknowledge their presence, and understand the function of snacking. Practice mindful grocery shopping, when you feel the desire to purchase junk food, what are you feeling-do you really want it, or do you think the way it tastes will make you feel a certain way. Will you punish yourself afterwards for eating too much?

If your goal is to become more organized, practice mindfulness. Have a loose paper floating around, instead of sticking it in a pile for later, notice the feelings you’re having about it. Have a closet filled with clothing you haven’t worn in years, practice mindfulness-what’s holding you back from tossing the trends of yester-year?

I’d love to help you find the YOU that has always been there. Contact me for mind-body coaching and we’ll work together to design a plan that works best for you!

 

Balancing Act

When I originally set out on this journey, towards getting a PhD, I wanted it all-to build my body, my romantic relationship, and my mind. I soon realized, that, to do it all, meant sacrifice. Somethings had to give. My brain, deprived of nutrients, was foggy and ill equipped for the tasks required of learning and participating in academic discussion. I felt heavy and anxious, exhausted, but unable to sleep. I didn’t have a home, I was renting a room and spending most nights at my friend’s house (gratitude), on her couch. My brain forgetful and my mind in a state of unrest, I found myself walking in circles and feeling as though I had to put on this face of success. I. Could. Do. It. All. DAMN IT.

But I couldn’t. Unable to eat, think, or be me. I failed, or so I thought. I compared myself to those around me, on Facebook and Instagram. I wasn’t as smart as those in my classes, as disciplined as those I needed to compete against, or as competent as those I aimed to be. I sank deeper and deeper into who I thought I SHOULD be, and moved further away from who I really AM. The shoulds were always present-creating guilt and dissatisfaction. Misery. I met with my posing coach, who said, “you can do it, but at what cost? Why are you here?” She went on to emphasize the importance of self-care, ordering me to, “go home, eat an avocado, and soak in the tub with bath salts”. She allowed me to be human, to let go. It was that evening that I decided I liked myself a whole lot more than I liked trying to keep up the façade of perfectionism. I decided to give body building a rest. I had nothing to prove. I allowed myself to care only about my own progress and learning and not worry about how much I knew or didn’t know compared to the others. I asked for help.

A funny thing happens when we let go of the comparisons that weigh us down or amp us up; when we bare our souls and allow ourselves to be human and ask for help, or admit to mistakes. It’s simple. We don’t really fail or lose. We learn.

A funny thing happens when we let go of the comparisons that weigh us down or amp us up; when we bare our souls and allow ourselves to be human and ask for help, or admit to mistakes. It’s simple. We don’t really fail or lose. We learn.

We move towards that which serves us and we leave that which does not behind. This process is devastatingly beautiful, a tragedy of living life to the fullest, in pursuit of goals. The choices aren’t easy, but the depth of our knowing cannot be ignored. We leave behind relationships, give up the security and safety net of careers, and  begin to feel the life seep back into our souls. We feel again. The life that was once a dream, is now tangible. Looking back on the doubts and the insecurities, that still bubble up from time to time, we feel accomplishment and reward. We learn that in order to feel alive we have to be vulnerable, be focused, and be relentless in our pursuits.

This act, the act of finding balance in passion, is not an easy feat. Finding center, being clear, and most importantly, being easy on ourselves requires mindfulness. Mindfulness, like any other skill, requires practice. Mindfulness is a way of being. Being mindful means to notice the present moment, and allow yourself to feel without judgment. It is the act of just being. It has been proven to reduce stress, improve relationships, improve focus and attention, and reduce racing thoughts, worry, and anxiety.

What do you have to do?

Here are a few exercises to start with, courtesy of positivepsychology.com:

The Body Scan

Another popular exercise for practitioners of mindfulness is called the Body Scan. It requires very little in the way of props or tools, and it is also easily accessible for most beginners.

Would you like to follow a Body Scan right now? Try this 30 minute guided narrative by expert and founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Jon Kabat Zinn:

A typical Body Scan runs through each part of the body, paying special attention to the way each area feels, the scan usually moves as follows:

1. From toes of both feet to
2. The rest of the feet (top, bottom, ankle) then to the
3. Lower legs,
4. Knees,
5. Thighs and
6. Pelvic region- buttocks, tailbone, pelvic bone, genitals. From there moving to
7. The Abdomen, then the
8. Chest,
9. Lower back,
10. Upper back- back ribs & shoulder blades,
11. Hands (fingers, palms, backs, wrists),
12. Arms (lower, elbows, upper),
13. Neck,
14. Face and head (jaw, mouth, nose, cheeks, ears, eyes, forehead, scalp, back & top of head),

Mindful Seeing

For some, the absence of visual stimuli can feel stifling. After all, a healthy imagination does not come naturally to everyone. The activity of Mindful Seeing may be helpful to anyone who identifies with this feeling.

This is a simple exercise, requiring only a window with some kind of a view.

  • Step 1: find a space at a window where there are sights to be seen outside.
  • Step 2: look at everything there is to see.  Avoid labeling and categorizing what you see outside the window; instead of thinking “bird” or “stop sign”, try to notice the colors, the patterns, or the textures.
  • Step 3: pay attention to the movement of the grass or leaves in the breeze, notice the many different shapes present in this small segment of the world you can see.  Try to
    see the world outside the window from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with these sights.
  • Step 4: be observant, but not critical.  Be aware, but not fixated.
  • Step 5: if you become distracted, gently pull your mind away from those thoughts and notice a color or shape again to put you back in the right frame of mind.

The Mini-Mindfulness Exercise

Another great exercise to try if you are strapped for time is the mini-mindfulness exercise. In this lesson, there are only three steps:

  • Step 1: step out of  “automatic pilot” to bring awareness to what you doing, thinking, and sensing in this moment.

Try to pause and take a comfortable but dignified posture. Notice the thoughts that come up and acknowledge your feelings, but let them pass. Attune yourself to who you are and your current state.

  • Step 2: bring awareness to the breathing for six breaths or a minute.

The goal is to focus attention on one thing: your breath. Be aware of the movement of your body with each breath, of how your chest rises and falls, how your belly pushes in and out, and how your lungs expand and contract. Find the pattern of your breath and anchor yourself to the present with this awareness.

  • Step 3: expand awareness outward, first to the body then to the environment.

Allow the awareness to expand out to your body. Notice the sensations you are experiencing, like tightness, aches, or perhaps a lightness in your face or shoulders. Keep in mind your body as a whole, as a complete vessel for your inner self.

If you wish, you can then expand your awareness even further to the environment around you. Bring your attention to what is in front of you.  Notice the colors, shapes, patterns, and textures of the objects you can see. Be present in this moment, in your awareness of your surroundings.

 


#GOALCHASERS

Studies show that you’re more likely to accomplish goals when you put them in writing!

Guess WHAT????? I created a space for you to put your goals in writing and throw it out to the UNIVERSE!!!!

LET’S HEAR THEM!!!

Dear Destiny….

goal chaser girls

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Hi there from Cloud Nine….

I’ve been flying high here for about three months now and am just so glad you could join me. Life is fine and there are GOALS to MINE, Goals that are ALL MINE! The competitions are over, but the GRIND never ends! I have more than a lot on my plate; these days I’m carrying platters! I continue to be amazed by the generosity and kindness that has been thrown my way. There has been some hate, but without hate we wouldn’t know LOVE….

Memorial Day weekend marked the decoration day of remembrance of those who passed serving in our military. It also serves as a day to celebrate the life those gave so that we can have the freedom in which we are  able to live. LIVE-did you hear that-LIVE. Too often I hear people talking about what they would do if they hadn’t chosen X, Y, or Z as a career-(the safe path) or if they didn’t have kids they would….. or if they hadn’t had an accident they would… or if … if… if… if…

I’ve been thinking a lot about these what if… or if I never did this then I would do that, if I didn’t have a pension then I’d surely leave my job for… if I didn’t have to be poor I’d…..

Well here it is folks-the what if then section of your lives… what if you DID quit your job to pursue your passion? What if you did carve out an extra hour a day for the gym? What if you did leave the comfort of a pension or relationship? What if?????

I recently had an experience that blew my mind… It’s kind of private, but let’s just say that I recognized that if I had not been so afraid of rejection, failure, loss of a friend, or humility; I may have been in a very different position in life. The outcome of that experience is yet to be determined, but it ignited something within me that was powerful enough to say, “FORGET THE FEAR… IF YOU NEVER TRY, YOU WILL NEVER KNOW”. I decided right then to go after my life goals-thanking fear for protecting me, but asking it to respectfully step aside while I CHASE THIS GOAL. You see, I’ve been working as a school psychologist for the past 13 years-in a city school. I LOVE my students and my co-workers, but I don’t LOVE the system. I have wanted to go back to school to get my PhD so that I could have a greater impact on the system. Here’s the kicker-I never thought I was smart enough or that anyone would actually want me in their program-let alone actually fund my existence there. I was afraid that the loss of my salary would be too much-too scary to live off of ramen and rice and chicken again, too scary to not have my full pension, and what if I didn’t like it? I had this house and a mortgage, a car payment, and some other menial debt. Where will I live, how will I survive, what will I do after??? It was all very frightening-PLUS I have this family-my real family and my friend family- FRAMILY…  I love all of you so dearly-you just have no idea what kind of marks you’ve made on my heart and soul.

You know what I did? I said, “to hell with it… just TRY-you’ll figure it out”. I wrote to a bunch of program directors for school psychology and counseling psychology PhD programs and had a phone interview literally two days after my serendipitous encounter. The program director said, “you sound like a great candidate for our program, please apply.”  The next week I was taking the GREs, and three weeks later I was accepted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I threw myself into my body building training and directed my focus on me-being selfish and telling people what I needed instead of tip toeing around and pleasing others. I felt like I was recapturing myself-holding myself in high regard. I declined parties, beer, and wine in order to chase the goal.

 

Two months later I stepped on stage and competed in my very first ever body building competition and the judges determined that my physique was worthy of a Pro-Card-which means that I can now compete as a professional in the DFAC circuit. In October I will have the chance to compete in the WORLD finals in Miami in October. The very next week I won my second competition. I was so shocked by it all… I really just wanted to place-winning was such a bonus!

 

Fast forward and rewind… yesterday I put a “FOR SALE” sign up in my front yard.

  •  in a couple months I will be packing up a U-Haul and driving 641 miles to Chapel Hill, NC
  • in four months I will be traveling to Miami to compete in DFAC World Finals
  • in three years I will be crossing the stage wearing a beautifully adorned hat, with new letters attached to my name PhD.

This has been such a joyous yet sad and scary experience… which makes it all the more exciting and vibrant. I FEEL like I’m living… This is LIFE and I am a GOAL CHASER…. (might even catch a few in the race). I finally understand what it means to “enjoy the journey”.

 

 

Click HERE for the GOAL CHASERS BOARD!

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