Thursday, January 3, 2019

What is a problem?

Happy New Year to my readers!  Do you feel enthusiastic and invigorated, and ready to charge ahead to reach your inspiring goals for 2019?

I am looking at this as being a year of change and improvement for me.  2018 was more of a holding pattern - I worked hard and was productive, but got bogged down with the workload and logistics and didn't make much headway.  This year my mantra is to "use the good china".  Life is short, and one becomes increasingly aware of this as the years pass.  Although I don't condone a reckless and profligate existence, I am a huge fan of following one's joy!

Big changes come with challenges, whether one is looking at fitness goals or life circumstances.  How you construe these challenges will affect the outcome.  If you view them as difficulties to be dreaded, chances are you will avoid them or give up easily.

Let's reword "challenge" to " problem".  Nowadays the word "problem" typically means an adverse situation that creates difficulty or hardship.  When I was a young 'un, the word was often used in my mathematics classes as a synonym for an equation or proof.  My algebra tests would have a bunch of questions (equations) and my task was to solve the problem, or prove such-and-such.  In this context, the problem wasn't something dreadful (although some of my classmates probably thought so!) but an interesting and thought-provoking task that required my background knowledge, critical thinking and creativity.  I enjoyed solving these problems back in the day!

If I use the lens of the math test to shape my perception of current day challenges, then they become fun puzzles to solve.  My right knee injury, for example, is a task that requires my professional and educational background, my psychological attribute of patience (still working on that one a bit) and my creativity to find ways to maintain conditioning by working out around the injury.  Ditto for finding a place to live that meets my requirements, and to developing my invention idea.  Yes, I've come up with a new piece of exercise equipment and a training methodology to accompany it, and all I need to do is render it and bring it into existence with the combination of my time and effort, and possibly an outside investor to speed up the process by covering the costs.

By shifting one's perception of challenges from dreaded difficulties to manageable puzzles worthy of one's abilities, life's "problems" become infinitely more enjoyable to tackle and solve.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Shinrin Yoku and mental well-being

I was finally able to tear myself away from the nonstop pace of daily work and responsibility to take some vacation time at a meditation retreat.  The focus of this time was to unwind, let go, rest and then from a place of calmness and clarity re-evaluate my life.

A daily walking meditation to appreciate the wonders of Nature, journalling and conversations with God helped me to find what I was hoping to uncover.

The challenge will be keeping this (in my mind) when thrown back into the rat race of duty and multitasking.  Invariably when you deal with other people, their drama can seep into your world experience as well.  Through my study of the Law of Attraction I have learned that it is better to practise meditation to focus on what you want/love/bless than to get frustrated with the opposite and worry about defending yourself from it.  "Energy flows where attention goes"....

I find that mentally wishing others well (even when they're being douchebags) feels best for me.

Get the mind well and the body will follow.  It's no secret that the placebo effect in medicine can be every bit as powerful as pharmaceutical therapy.  And to sum it up, how to live a happy and fulfilling life in the words of Joseph Campbell:  "Follow your bliss".

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Things don't have to be perfect, just start

First of all, many insist that perfection doesn't exist, even as the superlative to that which we are already familiar with.  Theoretical logic aside, from a practical standpoint real life rarely runs "perfectly".   As my companion often says, "Il y a toujours quelque chose".  How many times do we find ourselves defaulting to the inner promise that we really WILL start that exercise program, or practise yoga weekly, or declutter the basement or.......when the moment is right.  As in, when everything else is perfectly aligned, then we will be able to move forward with whatever.

In between working multiple jobs and creating nutrition and exercise plans for my hardworking clients, I keep reassuring myself that "soon" I will have time to overhaul my own exercise program and try out some of those amazing-looking recipes that I've pinned to my Pinterest board*.  I fantasize about what my ideal health and fitness routine will look like, and how great it will feel to reach that place when the current frenzy/blip/busyness is over.

As the months and years pass, I look out of my hamster wheel with the sense that life is passing by while I furiously tread water.

I have a hard time sleeping in or doing nothing, especially when there are files to edit, fitness programs to design or floors that need cleaning.  I've had to mentally wrestle with myself long and hard to finally reach a point where I am taking some time off to focus on my health, my own fitness and wellbeing, my relationship and some deep reflection about where I want to be next year.

The best way to launch a pet project, especially one that is dear to your heart, is to START.  We were brainstorming a couple of months ago and came up with a brilliant idea 💡 about a new form of individual and group exercise, a workout or a class, using a specialized piece of equipment, which I mentally designed.  Both the BOSU and the TRX have revolutionized the fitness industry and are a staple of facilities everywhere.  Will my idea be the next groundbreaker?

Part of my sabbatical will be dedicated to moving forward with my invention.  It already has a name and a rough physical prototype of the equipment.

Stay tuned for the demo video!

Monday, May 28, 2018

"Life is like a roll of toilet paper...

....the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes".

This may seem like a simplistic way of describing the subjective experience of aging, but it is true!

As I am now in the back half of my life, I am becoming increasingly introspective and am dwelling more on the finite nature of existence.  Some of my friends and clients, not to mention my mother, are well advanced in years.

I don't believe in getting depressed about getting older.  For one thing - you can't do anything about it! My advice for someone in this situation is:  accept it, keep yourself in top shape in every way, and enjoy the benefits of wisdom and experience.  Female colleagues and friends bemoan impending menopause, aging skin, and bodies that don't look and feel the way they used to.  Exercise and a great diet, HRT and a skilled cosmetic surgeon can help with all of that :-)

I see working with older adults as a natural professional segue for the evolution of my training business.  To this end I am acquiring my international certification as a Senior Fitness Specialist this summer.

It's actually quite fun having better judgment and ability to prioritize, and to not give a rat's a** about so much of the stuff that I stressed over in my 20's and 30's.  Detaching from outcomes and the tendency to be governed by the opinions of others - is so liberating!   I'm actually a nicer individual now, because I'm not invested in outcomes and I don't take anything personally.

If I could give myself some advice now, it would be: Do all the cool stuff in the near future that you want to experience in this lifetime;  don't wait until you are 70+ and "retired".  Time to revisit the bucket list - the roll of toilet paper isn't getting any bigger.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day = Reality Check: How to Live in a Planet-Friendlier Way

This year's Earth Day highlights the urgency of prioritizing environmental initiatives and living in a more ecologically sustainable way - from individuals to communities to corporations to nations.

My partner has challenged me to come up with 10 ways to improve my "footprint" on Mother Earth.  Getting a grip on global challenges may seem daunting to individuals, but as we all know, many small, grassroots changes add up to a big result.  What if everyone cut their use of plastic bags by 50%, or ate meat one less day per week, or chose an EV car for their next vehicle, or bought some of their grocery items in bulk rather than in single serving plastic wrappings?

Changes need to be significant, but also realistic.  At the very least one has to start somewhere.  Eventually I will own an EV, grow my own vegetables, have a solar-powered home and only buy packaged items with environmentally responsible packaging.  For the time being, we've come up with the following list of what I can realistically implement right away:

1.  No meat (beef, pork, lamb).  If I buy poultry (which I occasionally do) it will be organic, free-range and locally produced.
2.  Everything recyclable gets recycled.  Period.  Laziness is not an excuse (oh, it's just one water bottle....)
3.  Speaking of water bottles - a reusable water bottle.  Other than having a flat of 500 mL bottles for the home emergency kit, there is no reason to buy these every week for the gym, yoga, taking to work...
4.  Reusable bags.  Large carry-all shopping bags, washable produce bags (Whole Foods sells them), and only biodegradable plastic ones (which can be used 2-3 times for food if clean, by the way).
5.  Trip planning to drive less means more efficient errand running and less gas used.  Gas ain't cheap so this will save money.  Oh, and for my weekly corporate meeting in the city which is an easy, direct route - there is a bus that picks up 1 1/2 blocks from my place and gets me into the city to a drop off point which is actually closer to my meeting than parking is.  Not to mention the stress of driving around looking for a parking spot at an overpriced meter and being on high alert to make sure it doesn't run out before a zealous meter maid smugly puts a $40 ticket on the windshield.
6.  Heating and A/C.  Turn the thermostat down 2 degrees in the winter.  For the summer I am getting a screen sliding door for my balcony portal, and I've already made screens to fit the living room and bedroom windows.  Fresh outdoor breeze beats A/C, and the screens mean I get to enjoy my space without sharing it with mosquitoes (ick!) or spiders (OK, spiders are useful but I still don't want them in my home).
7.  Household product choice.  Green products for laundry, dishwashing and cleaning.  100% recycled fiber toilet paper and tissues.
8.  Appliances.  Use the energy saver cycle on the clothes washer and the dishwasher.  Also, laundry doesn't have to be done in hot water - many eco friendly detergents work very well in cold water.
9.  Get bills and receipts via email, rather than printed out on paper.
10.  Food shopping.  Locally grown (organic) produce.  Ugly produce too.  A mostly plant-based diet is healthy!  Buying in bulk and choosing food products in environmentally responsible packaging.
11.  And finally - make a donation to an environmental protection group or charity.  It's tax deductible and shows support for a good cause.  Oh wow - looks like I got an extra one in there :-)

My challenge to you:  what will YOU do to live more respectfully on this planet?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Self-acceptance is really a lot of fun!

I just hit a milestone birthday recently.  One that normally makes women freak out and start frantically buying tummy-shrinking corsets, dyeing any "grays" that start peeking through, and investing in expensive anti-wrinkle creams or even more expensive fillers and injections.

I must be an oddball because I have not had a mid-life crisis nor invested in any of these time-defying technologies.  I actually feel GOOD about my energy level and body, and think that my face has some character.  I'm as happy now with myself as I was when I was 20. (I think, that was a long time ago!)

Sure, I'd like to still be up for parkouring around the city and trying to decide what bikini to wear on my next sun vacation, but I am content with being where I'm at.  An older friend of mine said "Enjoy today - you'll never be any younger!"  Hmmm, food for thought.

Speaking of food, I will admit to having an insanely clean diet with no deviations or cheat days.  Even if I happen to be grocery shopping on a  growling stomach, I am able to objectively evaluate the nutritional benefit of everything that lands in my basket.  Once in a blue moon I go on a binge with the parameters that I can eat as much as I want from this list:  raw vegetables, green tea, plain skim unsweetened yogurt, canned wild-caught seafood, organic multigrain wafer crackers..... OK, try to hit 600 calories from this list and I promise that you will feel about to burst, which is not a comfortable feeling.

I hope you, my dear readers, are in a place of rational self-acceptance, and you can have some fun with healthy habits!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Should you train while on vacation?

I get asked this frequently by clients who are about to embark on getaways ranging anywhere from 5 days to 5 weeks:  should the regular workout routine be maintained so as not to become deconditioned?

I fully endorse physically active holidays, but I also laud the value of a break from regular patterns.  The body responds to new stimuli more strongly than familiar ones.  This is why a new workout routine often leaves one sore the next day, whereas doing the program you've done for a month already will not.

Not to mention, a vacation should be a vacation 😎

Most of the time I recommend that my clients engage in physical activity, but to try something fun and/or new, something that one couldn't do elsewhere.  For example, on a trip to Rome*, climb the levels of the Coliseum and walk the uneven cobblestone and brick streets on foot.  Your legs will be begging for a good night's sleep after some fresh, truly authentic pizza (which is nothing like Pizza Hut, let me tell you!).  If your vacation includes a beach, try snorkelling, sea kayaking or wake boarding.  If you are in an urban centre and like the social atmosphere of a gym, drop in on a class you've never tried (Crunch Fitness chain in the US has some interesting group fitness options).

If your vacation is a cycling tour of the French Riviera or a hike through the Grand Canyon, 'nuff said.

* Been there, done that, including the pizza! 🍕