As I approached the new year, I focused on searching for a renewed sense of balance in my life. With a new job that is both challenging and often stressful, I was beginning to lose my balance. I am a true Libra (if you believe in Zodiac signs, et al) and when my scales are crooked, so am I. If my work life is off, then so is the rest of my life. I pride myself on remaining positive, keeping positive people around me and maintaining a positive outlook. But for the past 6 months I have begun to lose that and it scares me. It makes me feel emotionally and psychologically helpless and I don’t like it. And I needed to do something about it quick if I am going to survive this job and be successful and if I want to remain sane. So I began looking at ways in which I can do this fast and economically. I am sure I am not alone and hope you too can use my “balance” tips:
Yoga: I am convinced that Yoga can cure a lot of things. Staying focused, breathing and being in a quiet space is the best for getting in tune with YOU! Identify a good studio with a variety of classes and levels. There are varying types and you want to ensure you partake in the one best for you. It really does help you regain focus. It doesn’t hurt that you are getting in shape too.
Meditation: Ah, this is always tough for me because I am always trying to do something or squeeze in another task during the day. Sitting still with my eyes closed, thinking and focusing is a challenge unless I am in on a plane (that is where I do my best thinking.) But, meditation is so great for the body and soul. It does help you get “in tune” with your life. Take a few moments a day to just sit and release. You will be amazed at how that can help you find clarity.
Exercise: Yes I know, I know, the dreaded new year’s resolution that we all make come January 1. But, research has shown that exercising or doing some form of physical activity helps reduce anxiety and stress. Upload some new tunes to your I-POD, take advantage of the deals gyms are running this month or buy some Tae-Bo tapes, and find an ideal time in your schedule. Get off the couch and get moving! I am going to take my own advice.
Create a vision board: I am a firm believer in positive thinking and visualizing what you want. It has worked for me before and so it is time to create a new one. Think about what you want today, next month or over a lifetime. Jot them down on paper and then grab magazines or newspapers and cut out symbols or visual objects of what you have written. Turn your words into a vision. Be specific. Place it somewhere you can visualize what’s on your vision board everyday.
Do absolutely NOTHING: The only thing that has helped me survive these past few months is I literally do nothing on the weekends. It would hinder me at times, but it was necessary to remain sane. Take one day and just do mindless things — go to the movies, play a board game, or do a puzzle. By Monday, you will have some renewed clarity and can make better decisions as well.
Here’s to you and me finding a new sense of balance in 2010. I will keep you posted on my progress.
It’s January and we all know what that means. We are all going to start, resume or attempt to exercise and eat better in the new year! That’s right we are two weeks in and the gyms are packed daily with committed fitness soldiers on a mission to rid their bodies of all they consumed in 2007. Treadmills have waiting lists, cardio-busting classes are overflowing and the sounds of men (and women) grunting through every rep of a leg press is like music to our ears. Even my Tae-bo class, which is generally not too crowded, was super packed on Saturday! We were all crammed in there jabbing away the pounds and sweating out the toxins. But this is what you can expect for at least the next couple of months. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but we have all seen it so many times in the past. By mid-February, the gyms become a little quieter and by March it’s a bit eerie how few people are working out next to you. People begin to drop off one by one like flies and exercising soon becomes a faint memory. Well that is until May when they start up again for swimsuit season.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore but prefer to set goals for myself. This year I said I wasn’t going to allow myself to slack this winter on my exercising. Each year I tend to fall back, like most of us, on working out during the winter. But I actually set this goal back in October and so far I am doing pretty good. I did go to Tae bo twice this week! I can’t feel my thighs from the 200 squats, but I went! I have to say if it weren’t for my girlfriend, who has literally been my exercise buddy since 2002, I would be making up all sorts of excuses for why I couldn’t go. She has a hubby and a three-year old, so if she says she’s going I have absolutely no excuse. So I say to you — YOU CAN DO IT! You can actually keep your resolution this year to workout regularly and eat healthy. You absolutely can do it! I look at my girlfriend and she motivates me because she schedules the time to work out even with all that she has going on. So how do you stay focused when it’s tempting to slack on that New Year’s resolution? Well, of course you know I have a few tips. Give them a try!
Get an exercise buddy. Having someone that you can workout with really, really helps. You all can be a great source of motivation for each other as you aim to achieve your goals. You don’t have to be on the treadmill at the same time or even take the same class, but having that person go regularly with you will push you to stay on track.
Be realistic about your schedule. If you know that mornings are just a crazy time and you find you are always missing your workout, find a different time. This is probably not the best time for your body or mind. Maybe it’s evenings or the baby’s nap time. Just find a time in your schedule that you are most likely to stick to.
Create a vision board.Grab a poster board, glue, scissors and some magazines. Cut out images and words that reflect your goal. When we can look everyday at what we want to accomplish for ourselves, it becomes second nature and we believe it will happen. If you want to be healthy and have a fit body, identify positive images of just that. Then place your vision board where you can see it everyday as a reminder of what you want.
Do a little shopping. Sometimes we feel better about working out if we have comfortable, but cute clothes to do it in. I don’t believe in breaking the bank on workout clothes, but I do believe in quality. My favorite place to find these items is Filene’s Basement (Marshall’sis pretty good too). They always have Puma, Nike, Danskin, and Addidas warm up pants and tops at half the price. Be careful, because you can get carried away by all of the great finds.
Create a playlist.Nothing gets me through a workout like my music! Load up some of your favorite songs that you like to groove to and get on that treadmill. You would be surprised how much further you can go when you have music. Beyonce, Janet, Justin, Amerie, and Mary J always keep me going!
Remember YOU CAN DO IT!!!
The holiday season is officially over and now it’s time to jump back into our excercise regimen. Yes, I am sure many, many of us slacked off over these last two weeks, but now it’s time to get busy! Over the next couple of months I am going to provide you with alternatives to the gym. It is so hard for me to go to the gym during the winter. It’s cold and blustery outside, too dark in the morning and too dark at night to go. This is what I tell myself anyway. Perhaps many of you are feeling that way too and need some new ways to get your heart pumping. So begins our first alternative to the gym — walking outside. Yes, I know it’s very cold in most of the U.S. right now, so this may not be the best alternative for you if it’s 0 degrees. No worries, I will have other alternatives later this month.
This was written by a guest blogger (Sara) and I hope you enjoy it.
I still run into the days when “I don’t feel like exercising.” I can come up with ten reasons on the spot of why I can’t do it today. “I had a long day, I ate too much, I didn’t eat enough, I have to be home to meet my husband/friend in three hours so I better go now, and so on.” If I put this kind of speedy creativity to good use, I could be working in politics. Of course, it is important to define “good use” – split-second creative answers are not always good in politics and NEVER good for an argument against exercise. To combat my fight or flight response, I tell myself that after 5 minutes at the exercising at gym or walking outside, if I still “don’t feel like it,” I can stop. After 5 minutes of exercise, I rarely feel like stopping. Also, having to meet my friend for a walk helps me follow through with it because I know that she is depending on me. Spending time with my friends lifts my spirits as we discuss important (and not-so important) issues. I have found that I can combine exercise and spending time with my friends. Instead of meeting for lunch, we grab a bite and then go for a walk. We walk together on weekends and I often catch up with out-of-state friends over the cell phone while out on a walk.
Walking is also a great way for me to clear my mind, give me energy and relieve my stress! Walking is good exercise – it gets your heart rate up and burns calories. For a 15 minute/mile walk (4 miles per hour), a 145 lb woman will burn 435 calories. You can calculate the calories you burn through exercise based on your weight in pounds at the Daily Plate. Walking has a range of health benefits such as lowering your blood pressure and your risks of osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. It also helps to improve your cholesterol profile. Walking has little impact on your joints compared to other exercises and it is a great way to get some Vitamin D on your skin. Vitamin D plays a major role in calcium absorption and bone health so combining that latte with a walk will help your bones! Little did I know that I was helping ward off osteoporosis! So bundle up, grab a friend and head out for a winter walk!
A Votre Sante!!! Which means “to your health” in French. That is what I want you to think about for 2008 – your health! Without good health, where will that leave you? As I am sure you can tell by now, in reading my posts, health to me is all encompassing. It’s not just about exercising and eating healthy, it’s about having a healthy mind, body, AND soul. Whether you are planning on doing resolutions for the year or just a few things you want to achieve, I want you to put your health first. In general, women are caretakers by nature and we tend to take care of everyone else before we take care of ourselves. This is especially true if you are a wife and/or mother. So many of my girlfreinds have told me they can’t remember the last time they bought clothes for themselves, had a pedicure, went to the bathroom alone (you know, without little feet following them), had the house alone for at least 8 hours or just did something for themselves. So listen up girlfriends, for 2008 I want you to make your health a priority! Because really, you are no good to anyone in the long run if you are not taking care of YOU!
These are my ten To-Do’s for you and your health for 2008:
Love yourself first! It’s the best gift you can give yourself. Work on fully accepting your flaws and your quirks, and be truly okay with them. When you love and appreciate you, there is nothing you can’t do in life. Confidence and self-assurance are the sexiest aspects of a woman.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Because really, it’s all small stuff. Don’t let little things stress you out. If you don’t have control over something then you have to let it go. When you begin to do this, you will be so much more at ease. It is hard to do at first, but trust me with practice it really keeps you sane and mentally well.
Be positive, get rid of the negativity. Maintain a positive attitude and outlook on life. When you think positively, you attract positivity. When you are negative or have negative thoughts, you attract negativity. Also, surround yourself with positive thinking people. Don’t allow the negativity of others to rub off on you. Sometimes we unknowingly take on the characteristics of others, whether good or bad when we are around them consistently.
Embrace a sense of spirituality. Whether you worship Allah, God or Buddah; create and maintain a spiritual space in your life. Your spirituality can get you through the most amazing and the most challenging times in your life.
Make time for YOU. Carve out time in your very busy life to do things for yourself and take care of you. Try to do to something for you at least twice a week this year. You will be a happier, relaxed and nicer person if you take this time for yourself.
Be active. Run, walk, ride a bike, do kickboxing or go for a hike. Do anything that gets your heart rate up and pumping. Exercise is the key to reducing your risk for heart disease and diabetes, along with eating healthy. Plus, as I always say, exercising makes you feel good and can help you sleep better as well.
Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. This year keep your mind focused on things you want for yourself and how you want to live your life. When you focus on the things you don’t want, you get exactly that — the opposite of what you want. Keep in mind your thoughts are powerful and what you put out is what you will get in return. Believe you can have anything you want!
Eliminate or reduce your stress level. Stress is the leading cause of several women’s health issues. Reduce your stress, improve your health. Meditating, eating well, exercising, and taking time for yourself are all things you can do to reduce your level of stress. Also, learn to embrace the power of no! If you are constantly overwhelmed and it is effecting your health, realize that you can’t do everything. (I know, easier said than done).
Get your health check-ups! Make your appointment today to have your annual check-ups — Pap-Smear, physical, dental, and vision. Don’t forget to also get your HIV/AIDS screening, mammogram, cholesterol test, and heart scans. Women, especially women of color are leading in heart disease, breast and cervical cancer, high cholesterol and diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.
Eat well and consciously. Know what you are putting in your body. Take the time to read the labels and ingredients of the foods you are eating. Try to incorporate more whole grains in your diet and less salt and sugar.