The Struggle

Hey folks!

Welcome to near the end of the week (for most of us at least). Today I have one thing that I am truly trying to accomplish: BE REAL.

It has come to my attention that there truly isn’t enough real in the world today, especially the world of fitness. I’m attempting to change that and in the spirit of Ghandi….I’ll be the change I wish to see in the world :)

As many of you may know, I have a BRAND NEW project launching in just DAYS! Stress is becoming a daily part of my life and if I’m being real then you must be told that I don’t deal well with stress. This is real life people.

commercial prep

In the midst of filming for the launch of the new membership site (full deets next week…and it’s SUPER awesome), getting all the content done and trying to keep up with training clients, I had a few other things on my plate as well.

I am the mother of a 15-year-old driver. He is an excellent driver, but if I were to tell you that my heart doesn’t skip a beat thinking about all that is to come, I wouldn’t be very real. I celebrated my 16 year anniversary with the best gift God ever gave me, my sweet and supportive husband. School ended for my kids, which any mom can tell you means that the activities have only just begun. There was also a mission trip and ongoing missions in between all of that. Compiled with all of that, I began having major health issues that rendered me bed-ridden and about 15 pounds heavier than I was in May.

sick days

Why do you need to know any of this? Well, I think we can ALL fall into the false lie that people actually have it all together. I spent a lot of my sick time scrolling through Instagram (as Facebook just tends to upset me) and comparing my couch potato existence to the active lives of seemingly perfect and awesome people. One incredibly important note here is that I have overworked my body into a state of chronic inflammation (which I talk about often) and stress compiled through my overwhelming thoughts and feelings simply makes it worse.

So, what has been happening that has me down? I’ve been listening intently to the wrong voices in my head. I sat yesterday to create a cool little promo video for the new site and I automatically regretted that decision. I looked up pictures of myself just a few months ago and almost felt shame that I wasn’t “as good” as I was then. It’s a slippery slope to get caught up in, and I dove in like a cool pool of water on a hot Summer’s day! By now you would think I know better. I mean, I work in health and have counseled many people off the edge, but I still have very little patience with myself. I keep thinking my body should just comply….is that just too much to ask?

I started to lose who I was, as I think many of us do. I began to think “IF ONLY”. You know the thoughts I’m talking about:

  • If only I had more control over my body.
  • If only I could just get over it.
  • If only I could bring myself to work harder.
  • If only I could go back to where I was then.

The list can go on and on, but you get the point. It’s a pity party without any favors. While the inflammation makes its happy home in the nooks and crannies of my 36-year-old body, I feel swollen, fatigued, and flat-out washed out. So, I decided to take a break…. Now, I have taken breaks before, sometimes up to 3 days! Shocking. You see, I fall into the same assumptions many of you can be prey to as well. I think I have to do it all…or suffer the dire consequences. I have vowed that this break will be different. For starters, it will last MUCH longer. I’m kind of thinking all Summer long really. I want to drop all overbearing expectations of my body (I mean, I’m not competing and my 15-year-old son would be MORTIFIED if I wore a bikini anyways, so no time like the present!) and focus more on the ENJOYMENT factor of life. Who cares if I don’t have cellulite if I’m still NOT happy with what I do have people?????

So, what will this break look like?

  1. YOGA. Yep, every single day. Sometimes it will bust a sweat, sometimes I’ll just put my legs up a wall and breathe….either way, it works.
  2. Taking the time to thank my body for WHAT it does, not HOW it looks.
  3. Nourishing my body: no potions, powders or pills for the next few months…just whole foods and plenty of water.
  4. Weekly date nights. We can stay in our room or go out on the town, just so long as I reconnect him weekly away from work and future plans.
  5. New fitness adventures (but staying pretty safe). I want to face some fears (my bestie wants me to try roller derby…I’m thinking there is no time like the present!) and try some things I’ve put off (HOT YOGA) due to my social issues.
  6. Daily journaling. I still have quiet time everyday, but I want to take the time to journal and get some thoughts OUT of my head before they can take root and cause problems.
  7. PLAY. Whether it be in the kitchen with my kids or on the rink with my bestie, I need to bring an element of play back into my life.

date night

One great thing of being couch ridden is that you can take the needed to evaluate what it is you truly WANT to do (I fully encourage you to do this same thing, sans the sickness) and it has led to some changes for me. I have 2 things I not only love to do, but also fully and completely believe in: FOOD and YOGA. These 2 things can change a life. So, I’m going to be doing more of them during this off time.

What’s my challenge to you then?

  • Take a little time to re-evaluate your own life. Yes, it can be scary to think about, but it can also be very rewarding in the end.
  • Instead of adding more to your plate to try to make life better, try taking some away.
  • Sit in silence with just yourself for a little while and imagine the life you want to live and leave behind.
  • Try breathing deeply for 3-5 FULL minutes.
  • Let go of expectation and live in the now.
  • PLAY.

Life only comes around once. Some get a second chance through life altering circumstances such as illness or even the death of a loved one…the good news is you need not wait for a grand life-altering occasion; you can change your life for the better starting today.

Until next week,

Michelle

yoga glow

 

Throw Back: Flat abs and sculpted arms with YOGA

 

 

Don’t Forget to Play

This morning as I ambled onto my yoga mat set up in my bedroom, I decided to do things a little different. I threw away any pre-conceived “stuff” that had to be accomplished during this time and I threw on some Lorde (always good for yoga, in my opinion). Then, I just let go. I began to move through the stiff joints and muscles caused by teaching high impact classes and I began to feel invigorated and much freer than if I had just focused on flattening my abs or burning what I was about to eat for breakfast. There was an element of play involved in the process.

meghan yoga

Yoga helps many athletes to find balance within life. While life will never be completely balanced, yoga helps us find that internal balance that can lead to more focus and less freaking out. I find that this is better accomplished through a sense of play. In the world of fitness that I reside in (that would be weight loss), there seem to be more rules than actual fact. There are always new diets promising big results, but only if you follow their rules. There are workouts promising the body you always wanted, but only if you follow their rules. It gets to the point where many seeking weight loss do begin to take things too seriously and feel as though they must be told how to eat and move on a daily basis. Welcome to the land of crazy…

Without an element of play, we can begin to feel stifled by the very thing that we are working so very hard to obtain. If we feel as though it is always against the “rules” to eat the cake, then we feel guilty if we eat our own birthday cake. Life itself demands a certain amount of enjoyment and rules for the sake of rules can leach that enjoyment away over time. Then we are left with possibly smaller waistlines and a feeling of want all over.

sadie yoga

So now you’re probably thinking, “Cool, so I need to add yoga to my list of things I must do right?”

Well, personally I think we could all benefit from a bit more yoga :) I know my family enjoys it when I’m doing a lot of yoga, as it calms me down quite a bit. The Super Bowl XLVIII Champs the Seattle Seahawks incorporate it into their training regimen. So yes, if you want to be a winner, do more yoga…. I kid! What I do suggest is finding the fun in life again. The worst feeling in the world is to be so very devoted to your workouts that you don’t have the time and energy left over to play. So, in the spirit of play, try a lightening up a little with these ideas:

  • Host a fitness party. These can be super cheap or super expensive and it’s really your call. You can hire a personal trainer to come put you and your friends through your paces, but make sure they know it’s in good fun. My favorite way to have some fitness fun? Have everybody bring a healthy dish and an exercise DVD. Then pick 1-2 from the pile to do together (clear the living room!). When it’s time to go home, have a DVD exchange so people can leave with a new workout…bonus points if people bring Tae Bo :)
  • Get off the track. If you meet for walks or runs at the same track everyday, switch it up. Walk in the grass sometimes, head to your local beach or take a hike. A change of scenery is good for the senses.
  • Try a new class. We are now in an age where there is almost no limit to workout classes. We have pole dancing classes, hip hop, salsa, kickboxing blended with Pilates, Pilates blended with yoga and yoga blended with cycling….and that’s just the short list. Contact your local gym or studio and see if they’ll let you try one on for free.
  • Get out of your food rut. Are you tired of chicken, tuna and green beans yet? As Winter gives way to Spring, more brightly colored food is becoming available in the grocers produce section and NOW is a great time to take advantage of it. The brighter the food, the more vitamins and minerals available for you. Play around with salad ingredients: try adding berries to your salads and topping it off with the juice of an orange mixed with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (CRAZY! I know, but so very good). Try lightening up your meats in favor of fish that you can either grill, skewer or make into yummy tacos. Ask your fit friends for ideas on new recipes or host a recipe swap to get you over your food rut.
  • Ditch sugars for a while. Over time, too much of a good thing leaves us feeling foggy and constantly craving more of that good thing. Sugar is one of those “foods” that causes more and more cravings as we take it in. So, ditch the sugars (both real and fake) for a week to reset your system back to normal. Need more of a challenge? Ditch it for a month then :) but 1 week has been shown to suffice in breaking the sugar cycle.
  • Do a gut check. Make sure your intestines are running smoothly as we enter into a new season. How is this playing? Oh, it’s not. I don’t play around with gut health :) But really, the healthier the gut, the healthier you will be and the more attuned you’ll be to playing, PLUS you’ll be able to handle stress better.
  • Get away. It doesn’t have to take all of your savings to get away from it all for a while. In today’s world, you may suffice by taking a staycation that involves turning off the ringer and NOT checking statuses on Facebook. Choose a weekend to chill out and turn off. Tell everybody you’re going away and be unattainable for a weekend. Take a long soak in the tub, do a sugar scrub, relax, etc. Hey, you could even rub on a little tanner so they think you really did go somewhere :) Often times what we need to get away from is our own expectations of life, so chill and let it go.

These should get you started towards a more playful time. Remember, you can’t control everything…most of the time you can only control your reaction to things :)

Lots of peace and playful thoughts,

Michelle

Happy Monday! Summer Solstice Review, Tales from Letting Go, New News and MORE!

Good Monday morning Fit Lifers!

I hope all of you had an enjoyable weekend and got what you needed out of it. You know, sometimes it is ok to just enjoy a lazy weekend!

So, to kick off this beautiful Monday, I wanted to stop by the Summer Solstice and move down to more news and some encouragement. So jump in, life is waiting :)

Athleta Summer Solstice

As you know, Summer Solstice was this past Wednesday. Apart from it being the longest day of the year, it is also a big day in a lot of yoga traditions. Just look up Summer Solstice on YouTube and you’ll find all sorts of interesting things! Most yoga practitioners believe that Summer Solstice is the perfect time for new beginnings. It’s sort of like a retake on your New Year’s Resolutions. In light of this, yogis from all over move out into the open air to partake in yoga sessions and friendships. Athleta sponsored many such outings to coincide with their extremely large Summer solstice in Times Square, New York. By the way, the whole thing was streaming live and was fantastic to watch!

Here in Houston, Athleta sponsored a morning yoga session taught by 4 teachers from Yoga West in Katy. The class was held outside and though rain seemed to threaten the comfort level a bit, it held off for the morning. See? A new beginning already :) My Fit Foods also prepared a wonderful breakfast for participants and those who were just there to check it out. The Athleta Houston store offers a variety of fitness classes (including YOGA) and strives to make an impact within each community. You can learn more about the company and find a store near you at Athleta.com

What if you just let go?

I posted last week about the changes I have noticed since taking a more yoga approach to life in general. The physical changes have been phenomenal as I spent my weekend trying on clothes in my closet that I had always fought to get in to. Now, they simply slip on. No deprivation, no starvation and certainly no degradation. One interesting thing that I have noticed is that as I read through my Bible each morning, I never read of people lamenting over the size clothing they were or a lack of 6 packs. I am coming to realize that we were never meant to obsess about our weight or size.

Think about it this way: if I were so obsessed with my size/weight that the majority of my time was spent working out, planning and prepping meals and the lot, I would never have the time to focus on my true purpose: bringing encouragement to YOU. Oh, I have been on the other side where my days were filled with 4 hours of working out and the other 20 planning (yes, even in my sleep). I was bitter and angry and, to be honest, not much use to God as I did not fulfill my purpose.

So, what would happen if we could all let go of what we are holding onto so tightly? That need for perfection? The call to certain fashion? The thought that we will do what we are called to do when…? Can we truly let that go and move past these road blocks into a more abundant and fulfilling life? We are promised both of those things, but we must align our priorities to really reap our treasures.

What’s New?

So, I am really excited about a whole bunch of newness coming in to my life. For starters, I will be attending the She Speaks conference in July. This is a conference for Christian speakers and writers and I pray that the path with be carved and divine intervention will plan out divine meetings.

I’m also beginning a yoga tour of the Houston area. My first stop will be Yoga One. they have a great class on Friday nights called Box of Chocolates, and yes, it involves chocolate. From there I plan on visiting as many studios as I can and writing up reviews on the experience. So stay tuned!

I’ll be offering a yoga immersion here in Baytown (just outside of Houston) September 21-23. This weekend will be full of ways to increase your awareness and focus. We’ll be practicing yoga and implementing Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, which can be used within any and all yoga disciplines. This weekend will help you understand core strength, detoxification, the benefits of yoga, breathing and even cooking! We’ll have a cooking demo and lesson as well as anatomy and physiology lectures and asana practices. No worries, I assure you it will be full of fun and you will not regret this relaxing weekend.

Yoga, wine and chocolate is coming to our area as I have teamed up with a local wine vineyard to offer a class in the late Fall.

Keep checking out the site as there are more changes coming everyday!

Until tomorrow, Stay healthy!

Michelle

It’s FUN FRIDAY! Answers to your questions covering food, diet and bras

Change the mindset to evoke changes

I know the above phrase can make you think of Confucius saying, but stick with me as I have noticed some very powerful changes in just the past couple of months.

There has been quite a bit happening with my physical body here lately. It took me several months after pregnancy to get back into the draw of working out. I tried to beat my body into shape again, thinking I could do it just as I did before. This only caused massive amounts of inflammation and serious discomfort. The more I struggled and fought with my body, the worse it got. So, I figured running a sprint triathlon would be the answer, as it would force my body to train harder (um, yeah, I’m not really the sharpest crayon). This resulted in several weeks of forced time off and some really awful internal issues of which I will spare you the details. This then sent me on the path of cleansing, which only made matters much worse.

So, after weeks of prayer and persistence, I finally gave in to backing it off. You see I had started on a yoga quest of sorts, simply committing to add yoga daily to my other fitness ventures. After all went South, I resolved to at least stick with yoga. I have now been doing yoga for 40 straight days. Now don’t be fooled by what Western minds can lock into yoga, I practice a very vigorous style. I did, however, fall back into old habits of believing I would end up frumpy and flabby if I wasn’t degrading my body into a tight pool of overused muscles. Want the truth on what has changed? Keep reading, I’m saving that for later :)

There are a few things that were brought into light during this more mindful time. Most of them were about the way I had trained myself and others. As I was noticing these things I began to see them across the board and it worries me for the future. You see, I cannot find many health and wellness trainers, meaning trainers who are concerned with integrity. All to often I meet trainers with no integrity, but that is an entirely different post. I’m speaking here of integrity of the body. What if we could let go of the outer body (surface muscles forcing to create movement and carry load) and train the inner body (stabilizing muscles) to make life easier? Here are the things I noticed about my training when I was thinking about competing:

  1. I didn’t really CARE about my class or clients. I began to think everybody should embrace pain. I was told pain meant results so why should they get a break?
  2. If my clients had trouble losing weight, it was their fault. I allowed myself and my training to be boxed in. Life is constantly altering, training should too.
  3. I felt that my “lifestyle eating” of anal retentive food control was normal…it’s not.
  4. I thought anybody who wanted results should adapt to the anal retentive eating plan.
  5. I felt like everybody else just wasn’t trying enough.
  6. AND…I looked at myself in the mirror ALL THE TIME! Looking for flaws, not admiring anything.

This way of life left me feeling more trapped than free. I was usually a little perturbed when I went into class or session and more so when I came out. My break over my body not responding (God will slow me down if I am running full speed down the wrong path) allowed me to take a step back and see what had happened. I had become a pusher of perfectionism. This attitude took a toll on my health (due to imbalance) and my family.

So what’s the big deal with the past 40 days? Well, a lot has changed. My outside stressors have increased, and even though it’s all for great news (homeschooling Deb, kids out of school for Summer, writing assignments and opportunities) it’s still stress. The strange thing is that I have altered my responses so that I become more of a responder to stress instead of a reactor. Points for centering! Also, there have been quite a few outer changes as well. My skin is so healthy it glows (that’s not the Shako, it’s my own concoction of healthy juicing and smoothies) due to the detoxification from the practice. I have NOT lost my temper in quite some time! OK, that’s a big one for me people. I can feel it rise then bring it into balance. I have lost lots of inches and not gotten all flabby! What??? It’s true. I struggled for  a few months to get back into my pre-pre-baby clothes and they are now fitting! And all this time I have not been following the anal retentive meal plan (that’s totally what I’m going to start calling it). So, what have I been doing?

My food is really simple. Really. Simple. I eat what’s in season and what I want, when I want it. I do love smoothies with fresh fruits and all, so I usually have at least one of those per day. I eat fruit whenever I want (gasp! go the anal retentive diet devotees!) and I have enjoyed dinners out and even a few trips to the local frozen yogurt shops. My practice varies from super physical to near restorative based on the day and right now most are 1-2 hours due to teacher training in Core Strength Vinyasa. Debbie and I have just started jogging together 2-3 mornings per week. The best part about that is I have been able to let go of the expectations (time, pace, distance) and just ease into it to be with my daughter. It’s become our “girl time”.

In short, my body, mind, and spirit are happy. I feel as though the shell that was covering me has been broken and God just said “GO.” It’s a wonderful feeling of freedom that I’ve never really experienced. Does it mean I won’t slip back into bad habits? Of course not. I still find myself afraid of a hungry belly. One reason is that I spent the first 2 decades of life on deprivation diets. The second reason is that when following the anal retentive meal plan, one can get quite crabby when the tank starts to near empty. :)

Now, you may wonder how a Christian can embrace yoga so fully (due to yoga’s spiritual influences). I hope you are wondering because I fully plan on exploring that. You see, we are called out into the world to witness. My ministry is not behind the closed doors of church or in my office, it is wherever I am. Ministry is not a vocation, it’s a dedication. I am ready to be used through all of my imperfections, and I am happy to stop judging what I see in the mirror. This alone helps us to judge others less (whole different post!).

So, figure out your balancing point. Know where you feel happy and follow God’s guidance. Happy and comfortable are 2 very different things! Just ask anyone who has mastered the forearm stand :)

Here’s to true health,

Michelle

P.S. For those wanting to figure their balance point and find a new neutral where the body can become what it was created to become, I have LIVE CLASSES coming in the Fall and sticking around for good :)

Monday DVD Review: Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown

The needed disclaimer here is that I have been a yoga teacher for a decade now and yoga was my first love of fitness :) So, let’s get down to it….

Yoga meltdown is set up to be the most challenging yoga workout you’ve tried and claims to enable you to lose up to 5 pounds per week. Marketing 101: “up to” could be anywhere between 0-5 pounds and if you’ve been a slave to the couch for years, then ANY movement will have you dropping that kind of weight. Don’t believe everything you see on DVD covers….

Jillian does not come across as an enlightened yogi by any means, but she never claims to be either. This particular workout is designed to help you reap the physical benefits of yoga, not the stress relief or mind attunement. You have 2 different levels to choose from, each approximately 30 minutes in length and there are plenty of modifications. In my professional opinion, these are a good addition to those who really have no interest in what yoga can truly offer, but you may want to tell the girls at the coffee shop you found a good use for your cute yoga pants.

If your goal is a higher calorie burn, then you’re better off with a traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa, flow class, or Kundalini Yoga. These are faster paced and involve incredible amounts of endurance and muscle control. You get more bang for your buck as this DVD will end up collecting dust on the shelf.

More DVD reviews for your healthy life every Monday!

Michelle