Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just keep trying!

I'm kind of obsessed with all things yoga.  I've been practicing religiously for the past year and have been aware of the practice for over 15 years.  This means, I knew the basics but would hardly consider myself a yogi.  In the past year I have taken my down-dog to new levels and raised the bar as far as challenging myself.

Assisted Peacock Pose
Last night I found myself sitting in a room of other yogi's ready for a two-hour advanced class entitled 'Inversions and Arm Balances'.  Inversions, if you don't know, defy gravity.  Your body is off the ground using your muscles, only.  We all actually paid money to torture ourselves!  I had been extremely excited when this workshop presented itself a few weeks ago.  I had been tooting my horn (a little too loudly) at my new found strength and abilities.  I walked into a dimly lit room armed with my yoga gear ready for a challenge.

Our instructor was a young, petite powerhouse with zero body fat and killer guns.  Immediately, fear struck me.  OH DEAR GOD, HELP!!!  She instructed all eight of us to sit in a comfortable seated position and suddenly I wanted to bolt.  I was not concentrating on my naval, I was so fixated on the fact that I did not have her killer body and therefore would not be able to do what she instructed.  Nonetheless, I was about to take the plunge and perhaps it would be nothing short of an epic failure.  I was more concerned about my ego rather than snapping my neck.  Every yogi will tell you to check your ego at the door because that's "not what yoga is about".  Alright, whatever.  We all know we're checking out the competition whether it's in the rule book or not.

The class began and I threw caution to the wind.  The people in this class were amazing!  And so was I, for at least trying and not letting fear overcome me!  No matter what our bodies would allow us to do, we all tried whatever zero-fat chick threw at us.  I've included some of the poses she demonstrated and we attempted...well, I attempted.

Side Crow


Fun with a tri-pod head stand 
Tri-pod head stand prep

Playing around on your head

Compass Pose - easier than it looks

Fun with partners

Bridge Pose 
Extended side crow

I will be honest and admit I am not able to do them all.  If I attempt some of these, I can barely hold the pose for more than a breath.  The point of all this craziness?  It's a challenge that I took head on, quite literally.  I have fallen.  We have all fallen.  Our instructor admitted her challenges and encouraged us to keep trying.  I had a bit of a moment at the end.  I was absolutely exhausted, but I kept trying.  My shoulders hurt, my arms were shaking and I thought my abs were going to fail for sure.  But I kept pushing my limits.  What I was able to achieve was a sense of accomplishment.

At 33 years old and after only one year of really committing myself full-time to improving my strength, I completed a master class.  I never would have dreamed of not only signing up for this, but paying for it!!  I ran a 5K last November and now I get a thrill when it's time to stand on my head...unassisted.  Who knew???


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spoon full of sugar theory

Ah yes, Marry Poppins.  We all know she was practically perfect in every way.  However, this famous theory of spooning down some 'sugar' after something miserable begs the question...seriously?  Could we re-write this little ditty and substitute 'sugar' for 'spinach'?  Just a spoon full of spinach helps the medicine go down, yeah....not so much.  We can thank Walt Disney, once again, for distorting our perceptions of reality.

I first saw this movie when I was three.  I committed it to memory and had NO idea just how influential the subliminal message of this particular upbeat tune would be throughout my life.  Just get through whatever you find daunting and challenging (i.e. picking up your pig sty of a room) and treat yourself to something pleasant at the end.  Or in case of the Robin nesting, sing a song.  Why couldn't she have told the children to 'Whistle while they work'?  I guess that song had already been played out.

Children take messages quite literally and grow up to choke their vegetables down in order to get to the desert.  Parents reinforce this 'spoonful of sugar' theory without even realizing it.

Fast forward to adulthood and we wonder why we begin to salivate at the mere thought of a 'spoonful of sugar' when we are stressed out or depressed.  Oh Mary Poppins, you were practically perfect with this one exception.

We all know 'everything in moderation'.  I dabble in a little sugar every now and then so I won't get too high on my horse and preach about the negative aspects of refined sugar in your diet.  Chances are, if you're reading probably know sugar is pretty bad for us.  A lot of sugar is even worse.  So here's a link (to WebMd) for you to read more about the health detriments of sugar

As savvy foodies, we must retrain our buds to feel rewarded after a hard day's work of 'cleaning our rooms' with something savvy.  One trick I have learned - do not even taste the sweet stuff.  If you don't know what you're cannot miss it.  And PLEASE do not think sugar substitutes like Equal, Diet Soda, or the likes, are of ANY good.  Fake sugar is worse than the real deal.  Drinks like 'Skinny Girl Vodka/Margarita/Gin and Tonic/Cynaide' are just crap aimed straight at wannabe skinny bitches.  Don't fake it!

Here's an article in regards to diet soda's poison by Dr. Fuhrman  Here he points out that artificial sweeteners found in sodas, negatively impact our bone density, our kidneys and are directly linked to obesity.

Last night I was having dinner and a delicious desert presented itself after our meal.  It took all the strength I had to not indulge.  It takes mighty will power to pass up the sweet stuff, but once you stop you won't pop!

Another trick - start looking at the sweet stuff for what it is...dangerous.  Sure ONE cookie won't be your downfall, but can you stop there?  Can you have just ONE sweet thing in a week?  Maybe you prioritize other offenders as your reward?  Perhaps you cannot imagine a day without a little sugar in your coffee.  Maybe a bit of bread was had with your dinner...did you know that's pretty much just all sugar?

Maybe you need to educate yourself as to which of your favorite food items are actually just sugar in disguise.  Sugar is used in virtually EVERYTHING!  I'm not an Atkins diet person, but his diet highlights that carbs are sugar.  Sugar converts to fat in our bodies.  I'm not a dietician, but I'm a savvy foodie and I'm learning everyday just how detrimental that 'spoonful of sugar' can truly be.

So dear Jane and Michael, pick up your room and then go play outside.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Breakin' up is hard to do

Over the weekend, my savvy hubby and I got reacquainted with some of our past loves.  We did this together, all the time laughing and sharing.   We're so scandalous, right?  HA!  I'll tell you some of our mutual past loves: chicken wings, pizza, ice cold beer, potato chips and cookies.  Our old flames made a brief appearance over the weekend and now it's back to reality.  It was a fun flirtation, but now it's Monday and we're back to reality.

Much like a real ex, it's fun initially but we quickly remembered why we broke up in the first place.  These indulgences are best enjoyed once in a blue moon (that's one of our favorite beers, coincidentally!!).  If we ate like idiots every day, things would look a lot bleaker for our futures.  We've been so disciplined to regain our sanity come Monday.  We used to splurge every weekend, for the entire weekend.  As we are aging, we realize it's a lot harder to keep our savvy figures if the flood gates open every Friday and don't close until Monday morning.

This morning the clouds hovered, the rain was pending and quite frankly my mood was in the gutter.  I didn't sleep well for three nights in a row and my energy level was so low I was surprised to find myself driving to the gym...truth be told I wanted to go back to bed.  I got to the gym 45 minutes prior to my strength training class.  There was some serious contemplation going on at this point, "Should I just go home and start again tomorrow?"  I wrestled with this dilemma and got a hold of myself when I remembered the current price of gas and what a waste it would be to get to the gym only to turn around and go home because I was tired!  Hell to the no! 

I put Beyonce on the iPod, hopped on a stationary bike and peddled until the class started.  I then jumped in the studio and lifted weights as if I actually had energy.  My levels did elevate, but at the end of my 1.5 hours of working out I was ready to crash.

My point in sharing this story, get your booty moving whether you're up for it or not.  Do what you can and don't let yourself off the hook.  I consumed more calories and fat over the weekend, then I normally do, so it was a 'go hard or go home mentality' this morning.

In order to remain savvy, I knew I had to hit the gym after my weekend of flirting with my exes.  After all, it's only my health ;)  And I'm never breaking up with my hot bod!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gimme a break!

Remember being in school as a kiddo, what was the best part?  For me, it was recess.  A time which allowed me to do what I wanted.  This usually involved talking to my friends and playing.   It was the best part of the day because I was able to decide what I wanted to do.  

Fast forward to being a working stiff, recess looks more like a lunch break.  The only time of the day, for some, when you are in charge of your activities and not the boss.  Is it any wonder when we have some free time we do not want to 'eat right' and 'exercise'...we like breaks!  For most of us, it's completely natural.  But if you're anything like my savvy hubby,  breaks only happen when he goes to sleep.  We're terribly opposite in this regard.  I like free time.

So when we get our free time - what do we do?  If we're not used to being savvy foodies or if the word 'exercise' is seldom uttered, guess's going to suck changing our patterns.  If free time is spent doing nothing, eating without caution or just veggin' on the couch lets shake things up, shall we?  
How long will it take, you may be asking.  Most experts believe it takes roughly thirty days to break a habit and adapt a new one.  THIRTY DAYS...doesn't that sound ridiculous?  My attention span barely lasts thirty minutes.  How in the world am I supposed to give myself a month to get rid of my old ways?  Calm down and keep reading ;)

I have the answer, but it's going to cost 'ya.  You can make your checks out to 'savvy foodies' and mail them to, KIDDING!!!  The cost is perseverance!  That's it!  You will have to wrestle with your ego and challenge your body and mind.

Here are a few tips:
- Knowing me, knowing you.  Hi, I'm Amy.  Well nice to meet you, Amy, I'm Amy.  Sounds corny, right? Well I've had 33 years to get to know myself and guess what...I'm still learning my patterns.  What I do know is I'm a morning person.  I work out in the morning and at night I crash and burn. So if I don't go to the gym in the morning, it won't happen.  Working out at night is NOT an option.  Perhaps, you're a night owl and working out after work pumps you up.  Getting to know when you are able to best perform is half the battle. 

Add before you subtract.  Being a savvy foodie takes effort.  It also takes simple arithmetic.  Before I take something out of my diet, I must put a healthy and satisfactory substitution in so I won't feel deprived.  Deprivation is the key to failure.  Don't let it happen.

- Make your body happy.  If you love to dance, go to classes that allow you to shake what your mamma gave you.  If you consider a workout to be complete only if you sweat your brains out, try a boot camp class.  Maybe you like to compete, find a running group to motivate and inspire you.  If you like going for a dip in the pool, don't judge water aerobics until you shake it under water.  Try different forms of exercise to see what your body responds to.  

This is my favorite -  

- Get comfy.  I live in yoga pants.  They are the most ridiculously comfortable pants in the world.  I also swear by LuLu Lemon.  The prices are nuts, but I live in their clothes. Once I'm in my work out gear, I'm more apt to exercise.  I also swear by my Brooks sneaks, so anytime I've got them on I never sit down.

- Eliminate pressure.  For goodness sake, it's a marathon not a sprint.  Accept there will be days when, quite frankly, you won't feel like going for a jog/walk/bike ride, whatever.  You're only human.  Just make sure you get back on your horse.  

- Read Savvy Foodies.  Keep reading for ideas, tips and tricks.

- Watch the pounds fly.  Best part of switching things up, you are on your way to health!  Best part, period.  Once you've committed to changing your old unhealthy ways, positive things will happen.  It's not going to happen over night, I can promise you.  But once it becomes habit, it's going to be so rewarding.

These are just a few tips that I have found helpful.  It has taken me a year of dedication in order to get to a spot where I'm pleased with my results.  It's not always easy, but it's only my health.  No big deal, again I kid.  If you don't have your health, what do you have?  So next time you have some free time, what will you do?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tune out

                                   Press Play and begin to relax

I think I'm hungry, did I eat dinner?  Did I send the email to my mother/brother/sister/friend/co-worker?  Oh no, did I remember to send that thank you note to my sister-in-law?  I need to back up my computer?!  My dad's birthday is next week, can't forget to send a card.  Whoops, I forgot to return my cousin's phone call, will she think I'm rude?  I have to get a present for that wedding next month.  My oil needs changing, crap!!  I think my throat hurts, no maybe it's just allergies, dear sweet Jesus please just be allergies I don't have time to be sick.  I need to google 'allergies' and 'symptoms'.  Oh, look I have a new facebook message!!

Does any of this sound familiar?  If you're anything like me, your mind is constantly on.  Since the invention of the iPhone, iPad and the lap multitasking capabilities have gone from zero to ten in record time.  Keeping focused on one thing is more of a challenge than doing five things at one.

When I'm at the gym I see people talking on their phones while exercising and/or texting in between reps. I want to scream!!  The worst is people who refuse to hang up their phones while going to the bathroom.  I mean, is it really that crucial?  We, as a society, are too plugged in.  There used to be a time when we could not be reached and the world did not end.

When I'm standing on my head, the only thing I am thinking
about is not falling over.  But when I do, I just get right back up.
I step into my yoga class, turn my phone on vibrate, tuck it into my bag and for seventy-five minutes...I let go.  All I have to do is just concentrate on my breathing, posture and not falling over.  It is the most peaceful time in my day.  I know if my mind starts to wander, I'm doing something wrong.  For me, yoga and Pilates provide a time to slow down.  I recognize it's not this way for everyone...maybe swimming or running are the outlets needed to just let go.  Whatever floats your boat and gets you to tune out, DO IT!

Leave your desk, turn off your computer, shut your phone down and step away from the overload of information.  There is a time and place for everything.  By focussing on toning your body for just an hour a day, you'll be surprised at how much better you'll feel.  Learn to say NO and cut out a portion of the day to focus solely on getting your 'yoga on'.  Let yourself off the hook if it takes some time getting used to being a bit selfish.  Don't put yourself last.  Do what makes you relax and feel better.  You can thank me later, when you think of it ;)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Off you go!

Let me just give you a preview into a typical morning for me -- I ALWAYS wake up with a song in my head.  For whatever reason, Greg Laswell's 'Off I go' was on repeat in my head on this beautiful Monday morning.

I attached the song for your listening convenience.  This song also got me thinking about "the places where we land".  No matter what we're going through, no matter how the day before went, we get a chance to land and start from wherever that is.

Maybe you have felt as if you've been spiraling out of control.  Perhaps you have been wanting to make a change in your life but just haven't made the time to do so.

The most amazing thing about life is that we get to make up our minds to do something and we can accomplish it!  If you believe in a heavenly Spirit, some heart felt prayers are all you really need to make changes.  After praying, it will take determination and perseverance.  You may need to repeat some of your prayers ;)

Have you been thinking about becoming savvier with your food choices?  Are you trying to quit a habit but don't know how?  Maybe you're thinking about trying a new way of living because your current path is leaving you sick and tired.  You are such a strong beautiful soul and you can make this decision when you're ready!!  How amazing is this thought?

You might be anxious, that's a fairly common feeling.  However, the most common feeling is the fear of failing.  Failure keeps most of us stuck in our rut.  "It'll be too hard", "I don't know how to make this one stick", "It's expensive to eat a lot of organic produce", "Life is too short and I want to enjoy it" or "It's too hard to be that good" any of these ring a bell?  These are all EXCUSES.  That's all they are.  The weather is warming up, go for a walk.  Can't afford a gym, no problem!  Get outside and play.  Buy a jump rope and pretend you're 12 again.  Ride your bike.  Don't let organic produce's cost stop you....find ways to make it work!  Realize - healthy living is not a diet.  It's a way of life.  Don't worry about this one 'not sticking', this is your life it'll stick just fine without you even worrying about it!!
Do you realize you are in control and not your taste buds?  Think about big are you compared to those tiny, yet incredibly powerful, buds?  

I'm still carving out my path and it's not always easy.  I have fallen off the horse, skipped the gym and thrown caution to the wind.  But the most amazing part of this journey is with each new day we have the chance to start again.
It can be daunting, but the process of learning to live a savvier life takes baby steps.  If you plunge head first into a new (and unfamiliar) way of living you may not last.  Think about babies learning to walk.  It's not something they just get up and start to do.  They need assistance, reassurance and support.  It's a fairly simple task, once mastered, but it's not something we all know how to do right off our baby blankets.

Approach a savvy life with the same mentality.  You need assistance, reassurance and support!!  You've come to the right place!!!  Slow and steady and off you go...