The Namaste Life

I just wanted to share one of my favorite word’s of wisdom. 

I have been thinking about my health a lot lately. Thinking about how important and treasured a sound mind, body and soul can be because it impacts everything else I do. 

Yoga is the perfect, peaceful way to relieve stress and calm the mind. It is also good and challenging exercise. It brings energy and clarity for the body, mind and soul in my experience with it. I often use part of my yoga time to pray and meditate; focus or re-focus on my direction in this life. 

Whether 15 minutes or hours, every yoga practice ends with saying Namaste. The namaste life to me is keeping the attitude about how you approach people and the world with the same calm, peace and intentionally as one would the practice of yoga. 

I hope this week is full of light and love for you. Namaste.

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My Gym Romance

For the past couples months I have been pretty faithfully attending the gym. It’s shocking really. I have done so faithfully because my boyfriend pushes me and trains me when we get there.

On days when I just want to go out and order a dozen buffalo wings and chill in front of a tv, I balance with days at the gym or getting some workout in. It has not been easy all the time but so worth it.

I choose to step out on my tv nights to build my love affair with the gym. My boyfriend has been incredibly supportive on this journey. It feels good to pick a healthy activity together to make ourselves better. 

We used to do our own things in the gym and he would leave exhausted and I wouldn’t even be sweating. I wasn’t challenging myself and building up any kind of endurance. I was more than happy with 20 half-assed minutes on an elliptical while watching some ridiculous show. 

Now having an accountability partner, I am building muscle and endurance, helping my heart, mind and body get stronger all the time. I literally do every thing he already planned to do on his own, just at a lighter weight. We have different days to focus on different muscles and some days are the hardest thing ever. That feeling though to push past what you think you can do, is the most liberating feeling. 

Getting all that excess energy out is a stress reliever. It slows down the brain busyness because I have to concentrate on not hurting myself or dying in the gym. It’s perfect for draining me to get a good night’s sleep. 

I am not good at everything though so I also learn lessons in being patient with myself.

I used to be nervous I was holding my guy back in the gym and I would look goofy holding 2 or 5 lb weights doing my thing but I focus on myself and him only. He taught me to track my progress and I have seen true change in my appetite for more. Now I can push the limits and it feels good.

Our gym routine is also another great positive way for us to build our connection with one another. A couple that works out and sweats together can learn to conquer so many other things in life together. We lean on and trust each other as we mold our weakness into strength and share vulnerability in our health and wellness journey. 

I used to tell people that I refused to pay for a gym membership for things I can do at home. Before my guy moved to Chicago, I used to do more workouts on my own. I would pull up YouTube on my tv and do yoga right in my living room. Whatever works is worth it if you work it. 

If you have been telling yourself you need to work on getting fit or back in the gym, start as soon as you can. If you don’t think you will stick to it alone, find yourself an accountability partner like I did. 

Now I force myself to take more opportunities during the day to walk. Instead of taking the bus home which is closer, I often walk to the train which is a few blocks further and gets my heart pumping. As a city girl, I walk fast so more activity is better to really get my blood flowing. 

Life is simply too fragile and short not to take care of ourselves. My next step is really examining my diet because I LOVE to eat and 83% is not healthy lol. 

For now I will continue my love affair with the gym. 

Five-K Me: 2016 Summer of Wicked Workouts

In 3 weeks I will be doing my first 5K. It may not seem like much but I’m actually pretty excited about it. Much more than expected.

I don’t think I have done a bib race since running the Indy 500 half-marathon in Indianapolis many moons ago. We’re talking at least 10-11 years ago.

I have never been much of a runner. I can walk for miles but I do not enjoy running. It just doesn’t jazz me up but back in the day I was briefly into running.

Earlier this year one of my coworkers said she wanted to do a 5K walk. I did that thing where I was like, “Great idea. Yeah that sounds fun. We should look into it.” Meanwhile I had no real intention of doing it. Then it turned into a group wanting to do it and get our lives and bodies together. I was placed in charge of planning.

We all need friends who nudge us and pull us along on good ideas like this. I researched races all over the city and ultimately we whittled down to this fun one where gospel music will be played throughout.  It is family-friendly and will be held along the lakefront path of Chicago. Another major plus is all the money from the race will go to support a cause all of us are passionate about — poverty alleviation. It will be an uplifting, energizing and encouraging day for us all.

Other than hoping for good weather, we have also been making our own personal adjustments to get prepared. Taking walks and eating better are a few of the intentional changes. Talking about it at work keeps us motivated and we may even do more races in the future.

I’m not looking to become an ultra-marathoner or anything. I just want to kick off another wicked workout summer right.

Pretty soon I’ll  also be back to my regular weekly shenanigans with 3 hour sessions of yoga, pilates and zumba. Sweating hard, not looking pretty, constantly ready to quit but with a milestone birthday waiting for me at the end of this year, now is a better time than any to keep climbing uphill on this quest to get my heart healthy and my body right.

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Summer 2015 Workout. That's me front left

We all got to start somewhere. What people sometimes forget is baby steps forward is still progress. Remember it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

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Summer 2015 workout with Zumba instructor Iris

Summer, You’ll Be Missed But…

I live in Chicago which means Winter could arrive any day now. Today was gorgeous weather — mid 80s — a welcome change from the coat-wearing, fall day, wind chills we have had lately.

It was so nice outside that I tore myself away from the tv shortly after the Chicago Bears won and went on a walk with my sister.

As summer begins to fade, I will focus on cherishing all the good times until next year. One thing I will miss most is how easy it was to find motivation to workout.

I basically measured my summer in workouts. Every Saturday that I could from June to early September, I would peel myself out of bed — toss on shorts and a tank, sling my yoga mat across my back and head for Millennium Park in Chicago’s downtown.

I spent one hour for each doing a class in Yoga, Pilates and Zumba.

Three hours several Saturdays a summer may seem excessive but I learned from them and I felt fantastic doing them. The way the park schedules the classes, gives the group a chance to slowly warm up the body with each hour.

It feels good to sweat alongside a community of strangers in it partly for similar reasons. We are out there stretching and strengthening and challenging ourselves. We have an excuse to start the day in an ocean of sunshine.

The satisfaction I feel after 3 hours is worth it even though I am not a fan of getting up or moving around so early.

It went right along with my other health initiatives. I also use a free app called MyFitnessPal to track what I eat in an online food diary. It notes how many days I log in and it feels like an accomplishment to stay consistent for weeks and weeks.

I used to have a goal of doing it every day for a year. 365 consecutive logs to help me pay attention to salt intake or getting enough protein, veggies,  etc. The first time I made it to 325 days and missed one day of logging in. My day count went back down to zero and I was devastated. I wanted to give up.

I realized it was bigger than that. Seeing the ticker count up towards 365 was amazing but that could not be my only motivation.

I find myself paying attention to my health and wellness now more than ever. I can’t afford to wait for my health to decline before I start caring about it or noticing it. Unfortunately, there are serious health concerns that run in my family’s history so awareness, prevention and proactively doing everything I can to stay healthy is vital.

Even though I’ll miss the ease of working out in the summer, it has to be bigger than that for me. I want my heart and body to be healthy for more than just a season. Don’t you want the same for yourself?

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Nama(state) of Mind: The Power of Yoga

I like to consider myself a yogi. I am willing to talk anyone into trying yoga at least once. I think it is perfect for balancing the body and mind. It is powerful exercise and demands focus on mindfulness. In a state of mindfulness, you can give yourself a break and keep your thoughts restful instead of overwhelmed at their regular pace.

Yoga is a great idea for men or women, no matter your flexibility level. I do yoga in outdoor park, group workouts. I do yoga at the gym. I do yoga at the beach. I do yoga in my living room, using YouTube yoga channels. It is that simple to find a space to do it anywhere.

The very first time I did yoga was at least 6 years ago now. I was invited to a small workout held on a town hall lawn, under a gazebo. I thought I would be distracted by the cars passing by or the bugs buzzing or just having to be quiet and still for small eternities.

The practice will stretch you. All it took for me was one class and I was hooked. I especially loved making it through an entire session to arrive at the final pose – savasana. This is how every class ends so you know it is almost over.

Savasana is probably my favorite yoga pose. It is also called “Corpse Pose”. You basically lie flat on your back and let your body rest limp on the ground. You focus on keeping your mind from racing and getting occupied. You just keep your head clear and in the moment. It is about deep relaxation.

Savasana always marks the end of a successful practice because not doing every pose perfect in yoga is fine. That’s why it’s called practice. So what that I can’t lift my entire body off the ground resting solely on my wrists. I do not need to. (Though, I am much further in that crow pose now than I used to be.) I can still keep practicing and learning and growing because yoga is about getting your mind right just as much as getting your body right.

Savasana is the most peaceful time. Lay in silence. Quiet the mind. You can cheer yourself on…”I made it through that.”

After I have said my final Namaste and pack up my mat to leave the session, I feel happy and accomplished and at peace. I feel that way even when the world around me erupts in chaos. 

Would you rather have the peace or the chaos?

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