Being Healthy is a Way of Life: Is Your Soul Happy?

There’s so much more to being healthy than just eating whole foods and working out. Being healthy ultimately stems from our mindset.

BeingHealthyBeing healthy is about more than what you feed your body. Sure, it’s important to eat healthy. It’s important to work out on a regular basis for cardiovascular purposes. Let’s say you have both of these things in check, but you still aren’t seeing the results you want — you look the same, feel the same and start getting discouraged. Because you’re discouraged, you turn to your vice for comfort, whatever that may be (for me it’s food). I’ve been stuck in that cycle… it’s frustrating. But there was one IMPORTANT question — perhaps the most important of all — that I was forgetting to ask myself:

Is my soul happy? 

Happiness does not stem from the time spent in the gym. Sure, you get momentary satisfaction after a good sweat sesh or after you weigh in a few pounds lighter. You feel great at the end of the day after sticking to your diet. But this happiness is fleeting. Oh so fleeting, my friends.

Is your soul happy? Really. Ask yourself that question right now.

Take a good hard look at the relationships in your life. Are they thriving? Are you doing everything you can to make the lives of the people you love a little easier?

Are you living your life? 

What do you do in your free time? Are you sitting around on the couch, wondering why you don’t have friends, relying on social media as your crutch for social interaction?

If only I had asked myself those questions while I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself, wondering why nothing in my life was getting any better. Why am I gaining weight? Why do I binge? Why am I so depressed? What happened to all the friends I used to have? These are questions I’d ask myself on a daily basis instead of the ones above. Do you see why I wasn’t getting anywhere?

Being healthy is a way of life. It stems from your mindset — the way you think, feel and interact with others. If you’re a positive person who strives to find joy and happiness in the simple things, chances are your time in the gym, eating habits and results will reflect that. To the contrary, if you’re sitting around eating junk, not doing anything besides going to work and going home (and wondering why you lost friends like I did), your results will also reflect that.

Our journey to be fit starts with the effort to change our mindset.

When you change the way your mind works and make a decision (you have to make the decision, it doesn’t just come naturally) to be happy, you’ll reap the benefits of this happiness in your physique, self confidence and relationships.

I challenge you today to dig deep down and ask yourself: Is my soul really happy? If so, keep on keepin’ on my beautiful friend! If not, make a decision to change it.

HUGS AND KISSES and all the love in the world to you beautiful friends of mine! xo

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Let’s Chat a Latte: Body Image

You know those kind of friends that you can go without seeing for YEARS and it’s as if you never left each others side in the first place?

Let’s pretend that’s us. (Well, it is, right?) 🙂

Whenever I plan to catch up with an old friend, it’s probably over coffee. I’m a recent self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur. And by that I just mean I’ve expanded my horizons to trying different flavors of coffee. Hello, peppermint creme.

So, let’s say we’re chatting over a delicious latte, laughing at nonsense and just enjoying each others company. We’re right at home and enjoying conversation with freedom to be 100% ourselves.

Each week of this series will include a different topic for conversation, typically on a Monday. This week it’s body image! If you see a particular question that interests you, speak up — let’s chat a latte!

ChataLatte1. Why do we care so much about what we look like?

Trust me, if you’re anyone growing up in this society it’s hard NOT to be hard on yourself. But I always wonder this — imagine you’re laying on your death bed one month from now (awful thought, I know. Stick with me here.) Would it really matter what you look like? How hard your abs are? How shaped and sculpted your arms look? No. Our bodies are merely a vessel that we use during our time here on earth. Yes, we should honor them and treat them with the utmost respect, but that doesn’t mean obsessing about every little calorie we put in our mouths and it certainly doesn’t mean standing in the mirror and complaining about what we look like. Life is about so much more than how we look.

2. Why do I binge eat or eat for emotional reasons, and how does it affect me physically and emotionally?

Oh boy, this is definitely not something to be answered in a paragraph. You may read my previous posts about emotional eating here and here, and how I overcame it. I’ll admit to you now, though, it’s still a struggle. Sometimes I’m super exhausted after a long day, or I’m just feeling lonely or emotional, and rather than do productive things (all the things I know I should do in this situation — read, blog, journal, pray, reach out to a friend, take a walk, sip some tea, etc.), I still revert back to my old ways. It’s easier for me to feel physically uncomfortable with fullness than emotionally uncomfortable and face the fact that I’m lonely, vulnerable, stressed, or whatever it is I’m actually feeling that day. To say I’m completely free from emotional eating would be a lie, but I’m a work in progress and I strive to improve myself every day. The biggest difference now is that I don’t beat myself up if I eat “too much” by my standards. I no longer let the shame consume me, which is what makes emotional or binge eating so awful in the first place. We do it, then we feel so bad about ourselves for doing it, which leads to us doing it again — it’s a vicious cycle. No, I forgive myself. I rest in the Lord and know that I am wonderfully created and that it’s OK to feel exactly what I’m feeling. There is no shame in feeling lonely, stressed, exhausted, and in the long run it’s much healthier for me to emotionally cleanse myself by dealing with these issues head on rather than running to food for comfort.

3. How do I tone a certain body part?

My friends know I’m into health and fitness, so they always ask “how can I tone my stomach?,” or, “is the thigh gap a real thing?” First of all, you can tone your stomach through a strict diet. Yes, you can build muscle in your core, but you won’t be able to see it until you’re eating to fuel your body and your workouts in the healthy, non-overindulgent way. There are plenty of safe ways to slim down, which I will discuss in more detail in later posts. Secondly, yes the thigh gap is a real thing. How do you get one? Start by placing your feet together. Step out into a wide stance with your right foot. THERE — you have a thigh gap! (see question 1 about the death bed.)

4. Magazines show skinny models but there’s also a rise in the weightlifting competition trend across social media platforms — so what’s attractive? Skinny or strong?

This is totally subjective and varies from individual taste. Would you like to know my real answer to this question? Both are beautiful. Want to know what’s even more beautiful and what we should really be focusing on instead of our physique? What’s on the inside. Will people remember you for body, or will they remember what you did for them? They way you made them laugh. The way your eyes lit up when you talked about something you’re passionate about. THAT’S what they will remember. So yes, eat healthy. Work out. Trust me, I do a lot of both and I feel great because of it. But I also work a LOT on improving myself from the inside out, because the inside is where it all begins.

5. Do you fear wearing a bathing suit, or is it just me?

I don’t care how thin or toned I may look, I’m still uncomfortable in a bathing suit. First of all, a bikini is pretty much a bra and underwear. OH HEY. Secondly, I’m the first to stand in front of the mirror and criticize myself to wit’s end. Ummm, why? Chances are 99% of the women at that party/beach/pool you’re going to feel the exact same way you do and are more self conscious about the way they look than how you look.

Bikini Ready BodyLet’s own it. Work it. No matter what shape or size! It’s all about the confidence. Let’s start viewing ourselves as strong, beautiful women (or men!) and embracing our flaws.

6. I have cellulite… Am I the only woman (or man) in the world?

JOIN THE CLUB HONEY. You should see my butt when I squeeze it together.

7. I have stretch marks, too. Ew.

Remember that time we both got attacked by tigers and they left those dark scratches on our inner and outer thighs? Exactly. Victory wounds.

8. I feel best in modest clothing, but I feel out of place when I go out to bars and everyone else around me is dressed in little crop tops and skirts.

Me too, girl. Me too. I just wear whatever I feel like wearing. If that’s leggings and an over-sized sweater, so be it. I’m not trying to attract attention because of the way I look. In my opinion, that’s negative attention, especially in certain situations like bars downtown. No, thank you. I’d rather have someone approach me when I’m modestly dressed than when I’m scantily clad because there’s a better shot that they are approaching me with genuine intentions rather than what I can offer.

9. What if I don’t feel like wearing make up? Is that socially acceptable in public, or will people judge me?

If you ask anyone I work with, I always show up with no make up on. It usually makes it way onto my face about 1-2 hours into work because I just feel better with it on, but I realize that it’s not what defines me. I have friends who are scared to go to the grocery store (or even the gym!) without full hair and makeup done. They always say, “Well what if I meet the man of my dreams?!” and my reply is always, “If I meet the man of my dreams and he’s not interested in me without make up on, then I sure as hell don’t want him to be interested in me WITH makeup on.” You’re going to have to wake up next to each other for the rest of forever, so you might as well show your true self at some point. So yes, it is totally acceptable to not wear make up in public. If it makes you feel good, put some on. If you don’t feel like it, don’t. No pressure! No judgment (from people that matter, anyway).

10. Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?

Why yes, Lana. I will. How wise of you ;-).

When I planned to write this series, I expected to get a lot out of it, but I seriously feel like I just vented to a friend and feel even more rewarded just by typing all of this out! Hopefully you’ll join in on the conversation and do the same.

If we were getting coffee, what would you order?

Next week’s topic: nutrition! Let me know if there’s a question you’d bring up during our coffee date and I’ll include it.

What Do I Stand For?

In this transitional period of my life, it’s so important to have a strong foundation with clear values, goals and morals. This morning I had a big AHA moment — I realized I’m lacking clarity.

What are my goals? What are my passions? What do I stand for? 

To be honest, I’ve been neglecting a lot of these lately — things that make me feel good, things that bring passion into my life. Honestly, I haven’t been too nice to my body or myself. Because I lacked clarity, I felt for a while like I was aimlessly wandering day-by-day with no purpose, no set goal, no vision of what I know deep down in my heart to be correct.

So, in the grander scheme of things, here’s what I stand for:

Nutrition  Whole foods: In a perfect world, my diet would consist of all fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Maybe a morning green juice with ingredients fresh from my garden. By “whole foods,” I mean I do my best to make sure the food I put in my mouth has one or two ingredients (i.e. apple, brown rice, turkey, avocado, etc.) I thrive on foods that are minimally processed and I notice an improvement in both my mental and physical abilities when I eat them.

Exercise — Strength training: Although I teach group exercise classes (boot camp, BodyWorks, yoga and sometimes cycle), I try to spend the rest of my time in the gym strength training. Strength training for me incorporates various circuits, because I believe in the importance of functional strength. Being able to lift 9,000 pounds is great, but to me it means nothing if you can’t run at least a few miles or have any capacity for cardiovascular activity. Also, in terms of fat loss and long-term results, I’ve found a mixture of high intensity interval training (HIIT — sprints or other exercises with hard working periods and periods of rest) and strength training works best for me. Less is more here — no need to spend hours in the gym to get results.

Lifestyle: In order to balance hormones and counterbalance my hypothyroidism, I need to remember the importance of SLEEP, rest and recovery. Allowing my body to rest from strenuous workouts is key to improving my time in the gym. It also allows this lifestyle to be one that I’m able to maintain throughout my life. I rarely drink alcohol anymore (maybe a few drinks here or there); I strive to drink 1-2 gallons of water daily; and I take vitamins daily to fill the gaps in my nutrition.

Religion: I believe in the power of long, restorative walks and meditation. Through prayer and communication with my God, I’m able to recognize that I’m fully and wholly loved, and perfectly made just as I am. I’ve realized my worth in relationships and to myself through Christ. I attend church on a weekly basis and just joined a Bible study with a group of women whom I already feel such a strong connection with. More than anything, my spirituality fills me up, makes me whole, and helps me realize that I am good enough.

Relationships: As I stated above, through Christ I’ve realized the importance of not settling for any old thing that comes along. I’m working on building myself and the foundation for my life now, so when I’m ready, I’ll be the best I can be for someone else. I genuinely believe that relationships (friendships, family, intimate) are the foundation of life. Without love, we will never truly be satisfied. Love is worth more than any materialistic thing in this world.

Work: I take pride in my talents and abilities. I’m very self-motivated and give 100% to everything I do. This is a blessing and a curse, because I tend to wear myself out by taking on too much. However, I wouldn’t trade my discipline and dedication to my work, studies or fitness for anything. I can’t wait for the day that I’m able to speak, eat, breathe, sleep and portray my passion and love for health and fitness to the world.

Side note: these are arranged without order to importance in my life.

I’d love to go into further detail about each of these topics in upcoming posts, simply because I could talk for hours about each. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own mind that I forget to share what I believe to be basic information that could be SO beneficial to those who are just starting out on their own health and fitness journey!

I’ll leave you with what I posted on my Facebook this morning:

We are all a work in progress. No matter how much someone seems like they have it all together, we all are struggling in one way or another. That’s the beauty of life, though. We’re all in this journey together and it’s important to help each other out — giving someone a word of encouragement, a shoulder to lean on, a soul to confide in… Even when someone doesn’t admit they need the help. Without the darkness we wouldn’t see the light; without the rain we wouldn’t appreciate sunshine. Keep pushing. This life is beautiful and fleeting, and so, so worth living to the fullest.

We Want What We Can’t Have

Confession: I haven’t been getting as much sleep as I should. But I’ve been having way too much fun and sometimes (most of the time) the two just don’t go hand in hand.

Confession: I’ve been drinking too much Diet Coke and chewing too much gum. I’ve actually cut way back on the amount of gum I chew, thanks to some wise words from my friend Sydney that went something like this: “STOP SMACKING YOUR GUM. YOU SOUND LIKE A HORSE.” I totally see the resemblance:

mred[Source]

Confession: My mind has been all over the place lately. I’ve been getting lost on regular routes that I travel every day because I’m so lost in my thoughts. I guess you could say I’ve been in a “funk” lately and can’t pinpoint the exact reason. Perhaps it has something to do with the topic of today’s blog post.

We always want what we can’t have. I think it’s an innate part of human nature. We’re born with this constant craving for more, more, more. All the time. Even kids recognize it:

“We want more, we want more. Like, we really like it, we want more!” <– So stinkin’ cute. 

But if we really got what we wished so badly for, would we even want it any more? There are many times in life I’ve fanticized about having something. That thing is the key to my happiness. Once I have it, I’m set. Life will be perfect.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In the past when I got what I so desperately WISH I had, it wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it would be. Once the newness faded and the excitement was gone I thought to myself, “This is IT? This is what I worried/stressed about/wanted for so long?”

We can see how this easily applies to our relationships. We’ve all been in the beginning stages of a new relationship. You go on a date and almost immediately start worrying when to call, if they’ll call you, or what you’ll even say when either occurs. Of course, this is only to realize two weeks later you’ve already completely lost interest. What made you want them so badly before? Because you couldn’t have them. It was the chase.

When I first became interested in eating healthy, I just wanted what I didn’t have: a toned physique, skinny legs, collarbones, defined cheekbones.  I must say, they aren’t all that glamorous when you have to take dangerous measures to achieve them. Once I became more toned (which, by the way, didn’t happen over night), it’s not like I woke up one day with 15,000x more confidence, guys lined up at my door or 15 new job offers. <– I got all those because I’m awesome, not my biceps 😉 HA, I wish. 

If we focus on what we don’t have, we will be stuck in the past. I watched an online streaming church service last night and, as always, it’s like the big man upstairs knew just how I was feeling. The pastor said, “Whatever God has for you is not behind you.” That’s right. It’s ahead of you.

The sooner we let go of wanting what we don’t have, the sooner we will:
1. Get something better
2. Realize what we wanted isn’t even what we REALLY wanted in the first place.

All we can do is be thankful for what we DO have and stop focusing on what we DON’T have. 

[Of Possible Interest:]

Romanticism… And Not in the Way You May Think
Gratitude via Psychology Today <– one of my all-time favorite websites! I could browse the articles for days. 
Stopped Focusing on Results and Started Seeing Them 

5 Ways to Overcome Morning Crankiness

We all have those mornings where we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. For some unknown reason, we’re set off by the smallest things. Let’s take this morning, for example. I wake up already in a weird mood because of a dream. Of course it was one of those sappy, lovesick dreams and I’m thinking to myself, “WHY did I just have a dream about that?” 

Fast forward to me forgetting my breakfast at home, my SunPass running out of toll money, 15 various sappy songs coming onto my iPod and we’ve got a recipe for a splendid morning.

So what do we do on those nothing-is-going-right-and-it’s-only-9:00-days? I’ve come up with a few simple solutions:

1. Listen to happy music. Whatever music puts you in a good mood (preferably not sappy music, in my case) put it on. Now.
2. If you’re in the comfort of your own home, DANCE. When’s the last time you just danced around the house? I do it all the time. I promise it’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re dancing.
64245_10151341479557006_1670124059_n3. Write down 5 things you’re thankful for.
4. Plan something later in the day to look forward to. It may be getting your nails done, enjoying a long walk, taking a bubble bath, going to the gym, reading a good book. Have some “me” time.
IMG_6222
5. Realize that if your biggest problem is forgetting your hardboiled eggs at home or a rip in your shirt, your life is pretty freakin’ awesome today.

[Of Possible Interest:]

10 Ways to Finding Joy in Life via The SITS Girls
Rid Yourself of the Negatives by Yours Truly 😉
How to be Happy – What I Learned Today via Medium

Be Amazing

I have a question for you. I want you to be completely honest with me (well, yourself, but me too).
Do you wake up excited about each day?

Breakthrough![ Source ]

Come on, you mean you don’t wake up and scream,”I AM ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!”?

Well, if we’re taking this question literally, I can assure you I don’t. I’d be lying if I said I even cracked a smile first thing in the morning (maybe I need a dog or a boyfriend). Unless it’s Friday. In that case, I wake up instantly happy. 😉

Generally the smile comes after some coffee, a little prayer and a reminder of what I’m grateful forAfter I’m caffeinated I really do get excited about each day. Have you ever just sat down and thought about how amazing it is that you woke up this morning? It really is. You’re granted the opportunity to make amazing things happen every time you wake up.

Make an effort today to make AMAZING memories.

1000762_10152079790638266_822369746_n[After a bike ride with my uncle this summer in Cleveland.]

Have an AMAZING conversation.

Be AMAZING at work.

Complete one last AMAZING workout before the weekend.

Take a look in the mirror, love yourself and say, “I am AMAZING today.”

IMG_1512[ Source ]

Life’s too short to be average. And bloggers aren’t all that average, are we? 😉

{Of Possible Interest:}

How to Live a Mind-Blowingly Amazing Life via Forbes <– Umm, sign me up.
What Makes You Happy? <– Learning to be happy in your current situation. 
6 Questions to Ask Yourself to Get the Most Out of Life <– This is everything

You’ll Fail and No One Will Notice

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We’re all scared of failure, whether it’s in the form of rejection, loss of pride or embarrassment. If you’re interested in someone, I’m sure you can relate to staring at a text message for 10 minutes, deciding whether to send it or not. You change what you’ve written 15 times as if the other person will actually notice a difference. Why? You’re scared of being rejected. If you’re in the workforce, I’m sure there are times when something has bothered you or you have a great idea for a new project. Rather than addressing it with your boss, you choose to remain silent. Why? You’re scared that your proposal will get shot down or your problem will be regarded as insignificant and a waste of time. Either way, you’re scared of being embarrassed.

Our brains react the same way to fear whenever it’s presented to us, whether we’re approaching someone we find attractive, sending the first text, asking for a raise or stepping foot in the gym for the first time. We’re scared that we will fail.

Fear is a learned behavior. We learn to be scared of situations based on previous occurrences that have happened in our lives. Perhaps you’re scared of initiating conversation with someone because you were rejected before. You’re scared to start a new diet plan because the last one failed.

We all have the mentality that we have something to lose if we take a chance. In other words, we build up the worst-case scenario in our minds. We’re scared to quit that job that we’re so utterly unhappy with for fear that we’ll run out of money. We’re scared to step foot in the gym or switch up our routines because we will look like idiots if we don’t know how to properly perform an exercise. We’re scared to start eating healthy because surely we will hate it and will revert back to our old ways and gain even more weight.
We would rather avoid failure at all costs than taste success. 

I found this quote in a magazine the other day:
Failure Quote

I laugh in the face of failure… Mwahaha 😛

Think about that for a minute. Everyone is so concerned with their own failures and embarassments; do you really think they’re focused on yours? In the worst case scenario, those who are close to you will learn of your momentary failure, but they will soon forget. Failure should not be seen as a roadblock, but rather a learning process that helps us grow. Ultimately, failure takes our relationships to greater depths and our dreams to new heights. If you didn’t fail, you’d keep doing the same things over and over without seeing results. If you NEVER fail, you don’t learn. And if you don’t learn, you don’t succeed.

Start weighing your risks and their rewards. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. If you fail, so what? At least you’ve tried. And you’ll never have to wonder “what if?”