Out With the Old – A Time to Reflect

Reflect
Reflect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As 2012 comes to a close… I have looked through my Penzu journal, gone through old notebooks and basically stepped back and looked at the canvas of my life.  It hasn’t exactly been a spectacular year… but then it has been a spectacular year.  I fell down a cliff on a quad, I celebrated six years of sobriety in May, I started going to Al-Anon (which changed my life!) and I ended a six year, toxic relationship never dreaming that I’d enter into a new relationship with a man who I am pretty sure was made just for me.

I read somewhere that when we order up the life we want to exact specifications, we just might get it.  Well, I seem to be on my way.

The Old:

Procrastination – Insecurity – Self-loathing – Laziness – Self-doubt – feeling unworthy in most situations.  Ahhh.. those old ugly beliefs and bad thoughts that I wish I could beat with a hammer.  However, thoughts are not tangible so I have to beat them with positive thinking!

The New:

Get it done! I am beautiful! I can and will prevail! Successful author!  I have to fake it ’til I make it – and my advice to all of you is to do the same.  Faking it ’til we make it is like a mental affirmation of determination that only we know about.  It kinda goes along with that whole “The Secret” thing.  Trust me – it freaking works.

How about you? What is your out with the old, in with the new for the coming year?

It’s Better, It’s Worse… It’s Both

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I joined Oprah’s Lifeclass a few weeks ago and I have to say… I love it.  I am about ten classes in and am learning a lot about myself by answering thought-provoking questions that only I can see the answers to.  There is also a Daily Life Question that we have the option of answering.  It is linked to the users Twitter account.

As I read some of the answers (a lot of them anonymous) I shuddered at some of the things a lot of people have been through usually in great part by their parents.  I saw remnants of abuse, both physical and sexual, mental anguish, alcoholism, abandonment… 😦

It just got me thinking.. like.. what the hell do I have to bitch about?  Ok, yeah.. my childhood wasn’t the greatest.. I have always been socially awkward and put a lot of my worth on my physical beauty (but am too lazy to do any upkeep on it).  I tend to talk way too much when I get nervous and yes.. I am an alcoholic.

BUT – I am sober!  I AM beautiful!  I grew up poor.. but I have character.  I have small boobs.. but I have a great butt!  I can be very indecisive, but when I know what I want.. no one is stopping me.

It is so important for me (and you!) to look at the silver lining in the dark, looming clouds that hover over our heads from time to time.

We have all been through our own share of hell.  I remember years of self-pity, beating my head against the wall as I cursed and screamed “WHY ME?!”

Well, why not me?  Bad things have happened to me because I have the ability to help others.  If all I can do is take my experiences and share them with another, then whatever I have been through is not in vain.

Whatever doesn’t kill you – makes you stronger. 

What experiences have made you stronger?

Staying On A Cardio Regimen

The beginning week of January is always crammed in the gym.  Resolutions are made to get in shape and be healthy so you run to the gym to sign up for their special membership prices. You might even get that free t-shirt that ends up becoming a cleaning rag.  You leave feeling accomplished!  You did it!  You took the first step!  Hats off to you, my friend.  However, there is a sequence of steps that come after that very first important one that need to be maintained or your dream of looking like the hot chic in apartment 8 will be squashed.

You need an action plan.  If you walk through those doors to the upbeat music and clanking of weights without a plan, you’re going to be all over the place.

So where do you start?

Get out your fave fitness mag or hop on the computer and find a plan that fits you.  Although you are anxious to look like Jessica Simpson a few years back or the brand new Britney, the reality is that they didn’t get their rocking bods overnight and neither will you.

You want to make sure you do not overdo it in the beginning.

The experts say that you need to maintain at least twenty minutes at a certain level to burn fat, but for the moment you need to build endurance.  Start off doing fifteen minutes of light cardio.  You can start this at about 3 times a week.

If you’re at the gym, pick the treadmill and try to do a pace of 2.5 to 3.5 mph.   If you aren’t a big fan of the tread, then hop on the elliptical and go at a steady pace.  The elliptical works your legs a little more so you may want to start off a little lighter.

For some of us the gym can seem like a monotonous display of testosterone and skimpy outfits.  If this isn’t really your thing then getting your cardio routine down at home is a great alternative.

The time of day is not really an issue since calories burn the same at 6 am as they do at 6 pm.  If you are not a morning person, trying to commit to waking at 5:30 a.m. is going to frustrate you and give you reasons to make excuses to bail out.  Start at a brisk walk for 10 – 15 minutes whatever time of day you choose.  Again, you are trying to build endurance.

Where to walk is not an issue either.  Do a search for parks in your area if you like the ambience of trees and babbling brooks.  If being alone amongst nature gives you the creeps, then stick to your neighborhood.  There are sites on-line that you can find a way to map a route in your area.

Please make sure to check with your health care professional before starting any fitness routine.

Example:

Week 1:  15 minutes light cardio 3 x a week

Week 2:  15 minutes light cardio 4 x a week

Week 3:  20 minutes cardio 3 x a week

Week 4: 20 minutes cardio 4 x a week

Week 5: 25 minutes of cardio 3 x a week

Week 6: 25 minutes of cardio 4 x a week

After you’ve built up your endurance after five to six weeks then your body at this point should have adjusted to your new workout.  You can now gradually turn up the speed and the length of your cardio.  If it feels like it is too much, knock it down a notch for a week and then come back up.

Remember to keep hydrated!

You Have What It Takes To Meditate

We as women stress out over the tiniest things because it is in our genetic make-up to take care of everyone and everything.  Kids, work, mates, money, exercise and the list goes on of all the things in our lives that stress us out.  And let’s add one more thing… ourselves!  Meditation can help us through these trying times of overreaction.

If you can sit quietly for ten minutes then you have what it takes to meditate.

There really is no big secret to meditating.  Breathing and having a peaceful focal point, which often times is your breathing, are really the only two things that are essential to meditating successfully.

The first and foremost step to meditation is breathing.  Once you learn how to focus on your breath you are well on your way to meditating.  So you’re thinking, ‘ well I already know how to breathe’. Well, yes, but this is a more focused breathing.  Try to imagine your breath as a physical entity.  You inhale the fresh air through your nose while you suck in your abdomen and then you push the bad air out of your mouth as you slowly relax your muscles.

You can meditate in your home.

Meditating at home is one of the easiest places to meditate.  Just knowing you are in a  familiar place can be relaxing.  Try to give yourself a good amount of time.  For some ten minutes works; others might need up to an hour.  If you can’t make a meditation room (and really – how many of us can?) then just find the most relaxing place in your home.  Sit in a relaxed position.  Close your eyes and inhale through your nose (good in!) and then exhale through your mouth (bad out!).  If your mind starts to wander take it back to the breath.  You cannot think about more than one thing simultaneously.  So if you are concentrating on your breathing there is nothing going on in that already over loaded brain of yours.

You can meditate outside.

Meditating outside in a park or even on your front porch or stoop in the quiet time of the day is another great place to meditate.  The noises of nature; chirping birds, the wind rustling the trees and perhaps even a close by trickling of water, are great accents to go along with your breathing.  If sitting on the grass makes you uncomfortable then go for a walk.  Still, be sure to focus on your breath while your senses take in the sights and sounds of the outdoors.  Feeling the wind brush your skin is an added bonus.

You can meditate in your car.

This is a tricky one.  However, focusing on your breathing and finding a happy space in your head while stuck in traffic is a good way to get through your commute without wanting to repeatedly bang your head on the steering wheel!   Instead of turning on the talk radio or cranking the tunes (which I am guilty of often) try being in the quiet with your breathing for .. yep!  Ten minutes!  Then put your radio on.

You can even meditate at work.

It’s true!  This is probably one of the top places we all need to learn to meditate.  When deadlines are crashing in on you and your boss won’t stop hitting the intercom button it is great to know how to focus on your breathing and getting to that happy place.  If you have to step away from your desk so be it.  You’ll collect yourself and be more productive when you get back to that intercom.

So remember.  As long as you can find yourself a happy place in the midst of the insanity of your day-to-day, and you can focus on your breathing then you have what it takes to meditate.