Happy Halloween

With it being Halloween and a Friday I think most of us can agree that today is pretty spectacular. Personally, I will be teaching some yoga with spooky Halloween inspired music and then heading home to hand out treats to kids.  Being in school for holistic nutrition I definitely thought of finding something a little less sugar/high fructose corn syrup filled for the kiddies, then I thought “naw I don’t want my house to be egged”.

halloween 2This holiday brings to mind the struggles of finding your healthy eating groove and that balance between maintaining healthy living with indulgence.  To help get me back on track (the last probably 2 months have been somewhat of a train wreck for me) I bought the trick or treaters candies that don’t appeal to me, that way it can be in the house and I can walk past it without wanting to stuff my cheeks like a chipmunk preparing for winter.

chocolate factoryI have also been sure to have multiple healthy snacks ready at hand in case I get an extreme case of munchies. I figure if I have something healthy from the savory and sweet categories I have little to no excuse not to pick something healthy instead of going and buying a bag of chips. This often helps but sometimes my cravings get the best of me.

Seeing how my cravings have been getting the best of me lately I have been working on letting go of the feeling of guilt.  Guilt for failing myself, my students and my clients and instead just realizing and honoring that I am human, like my students and clients and we all have good days and bad days.

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that encouraging positive self talk is something I have been working on for some time now, and unfortunately for me it doesn’t come easy.  However, like will power and other muscles in our bodies the more we exercise something the stronger it becomes.   It is becoming easier and easier to catch myself in these downward spirals of negativity and hurtful and doubtful self-talk which is making it easier for me to take the few seconds I need to address my negative thought and move on.

I know my writing has been sparse and for this I apologize but I have taken on a lot for the next little while and unfortunately something had to give (I am coming to the realization that I am no kind of superhero).   So I will continue to post, and when I have food delicious enough to share I will share it, but please bare with me and maybe for the month of November join me on a little challenge.

mjfoxI am challenging myself for the next month to work on acceptance.  This means working on my need to control most things (okay everything), understanding and respecting that everyone has a different way of doing things (even if that means not hollering at the bad drivers on the highway), respecting my limitations and being grateful for my strengths as well as my weaknesses.

So I hope you join me on this challenge.  Perhaps acceptance isn’t something you need to work on but there is another aspect of your life or thoughts that you would prefer to work on.  Either way make November about self-acceptance, self-love and self-care.

Happy Friday Everyone! and Happy Halloween!

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Stress and Motivation

These past few months I have been slowly adapting to my new life style of part time yoga teaching, part time personal training, part time government work and full time school.  Oh goodness when it is all written up like that it seems a little overwhelming, and at times it feels that completely overwhelming. During this change in my life and my routine I have been struggling with finding a balance and finding a way to commit to my workouts and my yoga practices.

20140427-161649.jpgLuckily (sometimes I think not so luckily) two of my jobs are personal training and teaching yoga so making time to get to the gym or get on my mat is not only good for my personal well being it is good for business so to speak.   But when there is such an easy overlap sometimes it can take away from my “me time” that which is normally what my gym/yoga time is.

So all of this being said how do you keep motivated at reaching/ surpassing your personal goals, while lowering or maintaining stress levels? Unfortunately, I don’t have any 100% works all the time fix but the following tips have helped me out more than once, and to be honest are helping me out right now (I have slipped and have been a little less productive with my goals than I would like, but that is part of the journey).

motivateHow to keep Motivated when you are Stressed out:

1. Consider taking a break.   Now I don’t recommend this often, but if your stress levels are through the roof working out and physically stressing your body out can actually put you in a worse off position.  The best way to explain this is that we all have a bucket and this bucket collects “stress”.  It doesn’t care if it is emotional, physical, mental or environmental the bucket just collects it all.   If you are on the brink of having a full bucket have a big project due, are putting over time at work and have a heavy lifting session followed by some cardio it is quite possible that your bucket will overflow.   So maybe instead of hitting the gym as hard as you normally would consider taking a restorative yoga class, reading a book in a nice bubble bath, go on a walk with a friend, get out in nature.   Don’t write the day off do something just listen to your body and take it down a notch if you need to.

2. Focus on what you are putting in your mouth.  This one has been extremely challenging for me lately.  We all have different responses to stress, some of us might want to run miles, stuff food in our faces or maybe sleeping all day long and avoiding the problem is more your jam.   I am a mix between wanting to run for miles and stuffing my face, and unfortunately for my waist line I have been nursing a running injury so face stuffing has been front and centre.  I understand that I am going to trip up every now and then and that is just part of life, I also know that taking the care to put food in your body that has been lovingly grown and prepared will do me better than any bag of chips ever will.  Although I have had a bit of a hiccup it is important to get yourself back on track and move forward.  Cooking with a friend and pre-making your food for the week is a splendid way to remove excuses and fill your fridge with easy, healthy and loving food.

3. Schedule it.  I am sure we have all heard this at some point in our goals building a healthy life style, but it is so important especially in times of stress.   We tend to make room in our lives for our work, our homework, cleaning, friends and family but it is just as important to make time for ourselves and our well-being.  So schedule in your workout, schedule in your yoga practice, bring your runners to work and head out at lunch, encourage your family to come with you, do what you need to so that your health and fitness is just as important (if not more) than all the other items on your to do list.  Also having it scheduled will help to remove the “how am I ever going to fit this in stress” because you have already thought of that and it is planned out all you have to do is get there.

4. Timed Goals.  This might sound like a bad idea but it helps me out every time.  I love running but when I have a reason to run, like a race, I am more likely to lace up when I really don’t want to.  Setting well structured and time limited goals are great motivators to get your revved up and excited to take care of your physical and mental body.   When I am having a particularly rough time I try and set weekly goals so I can feel that satisfaction of accomplishing something no matter how chaotic my life feels at the time.

I hope these tips help you get back on track if you have also taking a bit of a detour. 

Happy Tuesday everyone!

3 Tips for Time Management

It is now a week into Challenge V.2.0 and it feels great to be back into a challenge. Sometimes I find it takes a bit of competition to remind yourself of how much willpower you have, how determination you are filled with and how many other people out there have similar goals to your own.

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Clean eating is something that I have found that the more I do it and the more effort I put into making it a part of my regular life, the easier it gets and the more it turns into just a part of your regular routine.  You have to think about it much less and the decision to pick something clean or to make the tomato sauce instead of buying it becomes something that is less of a decision and more of an instinct or habit.

Some of the things I notice of myself when I do challenges like this is that I always find that I have a bit more time on my hands.  I feel that I end up focusing so much more on my organization to ensure that I succeed at the challenge that I end up feeling like everything I need to get done actually gets done. I don’t know if anyone else can relate to this, but I always feel like when I plan things properly I feel like I have more “time” for everything.

So just in case you can’t relate to my feeling or you are looking for some tips on how to make everything a bit easier on yourself I would provide some tips to help you all feel a bit more relaxed and as though you have all the time in the world so that preparing your food and self for the day doesn’t feel like a chore.

time

1. Plan it out.   Much like the tips I provided on meal planning it is important to give yourself a specific time every week to plan out what your meals will be and what groceries you will need to get for that to happen.  This doesn’t only apply to your food, I find it really helpful to plan out my workouts, yoga visits, and runs with my running buddy that way activities like this are much less likely to fall the waste side.

2. Take time to relax.  It is great to have things planned out and to be busy (at least I don’t mind it) but no one can go full tilt forever.  As important as it is to get everything done and be prepared it is equally important to take a minute to catch your breath.  Be sure to give yourself some time each day to unwind and relax a bit, even if it is just reading a book for 30 minutes before passing out at night be sure to give yourself some time.

3. Combine what you can.  When it’s possible try and kill two birds with one stone.  Things like making big suppers so you have lunch for the next day, working yoga into your day as your “me time”, or chopping your veggies right after grocery shopping.  When it is possible to group to do’s together do so to save yourself some time.

I hope these tips help you to stay on track with your health, fitness and wellness goals.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

10 Tips to Managing Stress

I have done a lot of work on myself when it comes to eating habits and exercise, I have even thrown in a large amount of effort in the time management department (it was the only way to squeeze in all the stuff I wanted to do). But to this day I still struggle with stress management. I mean I am getting much better at it, but as much as I would like to hope that one day I will just wake up and be a zen master to think I am one now is pretty unrealistic.

I have over time been able to realize my stress triggers and I am much more capable of realizing that I am stressed, however I haven’t really spent much time working at learning how to manage said stress. Although I seemingly haven’t done much to learn how to manage my stress levels I am very proud of myself for becoming more mindful and capable of realizing normal tiredness from times where I want to hide out because of stress.
wolfI would say that since I last wrote about stress I have gotten much better at identifying my triggers and reactions, which is a great step in the right direction.

This all leads me to the question of “how do I manage all of this stress?” Like anything in the area of health and wellness it is very individual when it comes to how each of us deals with and manages our stress levels. Although it is different for each of us there are some hints or tips that all of us can test out until we find something that works for us.

stress10 Tips to Managing Stress:

  1. Watch something funny. Laughter is great for your whole body, it helps to relieve physical stress, while helping to release endorphins, boost your immune system and lower blood pressure and improves blood flow. Something as simple as your favorite funny movie can help you to relax from stressful situations and will help you to start feeling more relaxed in no time.
  2. SLEEP! For some reason this one keeps coming up over and over again, I guess it is pretty important. Some people when they become overly stressed might end up lacking sleep. It is important to allow your body a rest period each day so that it has the energy and strength needed to take on tomorrow. Be sure you are resting up and getting enough Zzzz’s.
  3. Spend some time with friends. Now we are all busy people with work obligations, exercise, family, home renovations etc. but sometimes all we need is some time with our friends. Spending time with a good friend gives you the chance to blow off some steam, laugh (see #1), and leave the rest of the world behind. Spending time with friends will provide you with the support and feeling of belonging that you need to help cultivate strength to overcome stressful situations.
  4. Acknowledge what upsets you and then move on. It is important to acknowledge what is upsetting you, whether that means writing it down or making a mental note, it is essential that you realize what is stressing you out. Without acknowledging what is stressing you out you can’t address the issue. Once it has been acknowledged create a plan of attack; Do you need to schedule more time for food prep so you don’t need to worry about it throughout the week? Do you need to enlist the help of others? Do you need to schedule yourself a bedtime? whatever it is you need to do to address the issue, make a plan of attack and then move on. Don’t dwell on your stresses.
  5. Meditate. Now this is one that I know is super beneficial but I myself have the HARDEST time with it. Which probably means I should be putting a bit more effort into it. There are various forms of mediation (seated, standing, walking, etc) and there are so many sources out there, such as podcasts and classes, to help walk you through the process. One thing my trainer told me that has helped me with my meditation practice is to do your best to keep your mind focused on one thing; an image, a memory, or a mantra. When your mind has wandering thoughts acknowledge them and then visualize plucking them out of your focal point to come back to once your meditation is done.
  6. Change something small. When feeling overwhelmed and stressed out it can sometimes help to change one small aspect of your routine. It is kind of like a miniature jump start for your brain helping it to focus on something other than your impending stress. This one small thing can be changing the route you walk to work, changing your running path, adding a different spice to your chicken for supper. What you change might seem insignificant but it might just be what you need to kick you out of a rut.
  7. Be grateful. Now I am not saying you aren’t, I am sure we are all grateful at one point or another, what I am suggesting here is to be consciously grateful. Take the time to go over your day and identify one thing that you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be huge it could be that you are grateful for your bike ride home from work, your first cup of coffee or the sunny weather. Whatever it is, identify it and acknowledge why you are grateful for it. Mentally reviewing your day looking for the positive instead of the negative will overtime help you to focus on the good in life instead of dwelling on the bad.
  8. Exercise. Yes, exercise is a form of physical stress and yes it can add to your overall stress levels, but overall it is a great way to manage your stress levels. Exercise helps you to focus on something else while releasing those wonderful endorphins. The exercise you take part in doesn’t have to be an intense 10k run, it can be a nice peaceful yoga practice, just do what you can to get moving. Not only will it help to release some feel good endorphins but you will probably sleep better too because of it.
  9. Sharing is Caring. Sharing your kindness and helping others is a great way to relieve some stress, if only for allowing you to focus on others and not on your stresses for a second. The act of giving not only helps to make the giver and the receiver feel great, sharing your special talents and abilities helps to create a more positive community for all of us to live in.
  10. Clean up your fridge. What you are eating plays a huge role in how you are feeling. If you are fueling yourself with healthy, whole foods you are more likely to be happier and less stressed out. There are lists and lists of “stress reducing” foods on the internet and not a single one of those lists includes deep fried or high sugar anything. We get what we put in, if you are filling your gas tank with sugar it is likely your body won’t be as efficient if you had filled it with fresh green vegetables, whole grains, organic proteins, etc.

I hope these tips are something you are able to apply to your life when you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed. I know that making sure I have a never ending supply of tasty healthy snacks and being sure to keep up my regular exercise routine helps to keep me feeling happy, positive and relatively stress free. So test them out and find out what works for you.

Happy Humpday everyone!

What do you do to manage your stress? Do you have any tips to share?

 

What’s Your Stress Response

So a while back I had mentioned that I was going to attempt to look at my stress triggers and what my stress responses tend to be. This activity has been particularly challenging for me, because looking inward isn’t always one of my strong suits – I think this might be an challenge many people are faced with. But as a part of my training, I agreed to give it ago and to look at what I am doing in moments of stress; do I eat, cry, scream, smoke, drink, run, sleep? How do I respond to stress?

Originally this was going to be a little personal journey I was having a tough time so I figured I wouldn’t have much to share but then yesterday while sitting at work thinking of everything I have planned for December and everything I still have to do before going to Edmonton at Christmas I was completely consumed with anxiety. It felt overwhelming like there weren’t enough hours in a day (even though there definitely are) but this lead me to thinking that maybe it might be helpful to share what I have learnt about myself in past couple of months when it comes to stress.

Firstly I have learnt that there are so many “triggers” in life it is actually easier to focus in on what my stress responses are. From that I have identified three main stress responses, one is pretty healthy and the other two compete for unhealthiest (perhaps you can help decide), so here they are:
wolf
My number 1 stress response is to avoidance. To completely retreat from everything, stop doing anything that needs to be done. I know this sounds irrational but stress responses aren’t always the most rational things in life. So basically I try and hide in my bed, on the couch, basically anywhere I feel that there may not be any expectations of me, I think I am hoping magical fairies will take care of whatever needs to get done for me. This stress response hasn’t been such a successful tactic in the past, I’m looking at you multiple years of university and last minute essay writing – shutters.

My number 2 isn’t triggered right away, it takes a bit for it to sink in, but then my logical half speaks up and tells me to do something active. Without running, yoga, weights, or sweating in general I become a pretty unpleasant person to live with (ask my husband, although I am sure he will tell you what a pleasure I am). I find that running especially helps with any frustration type stress, as I often find it to be more of an aggressive workout.
animal-mammal-rongeur-686952-oMy number 3 is carbs carbs carbs and more carbs, with a side of cheese. I will start craving a delicious poutine (this is French fries, cheese and gravy for my non-Canadian friends), a whole family sized baguette with a wheel of brie, a massive lasagna, or anything else layered with carbs, dairy and fat. Heck I once ate pancakes rolled up with cheese and peanut butter inside. if G.I. Joe has taught me anything “knowing is half the battle”, and I know this isn’t the most healthy response so I do attempt some self talk before indulging. I try to slow down a little and ask myself if I really “need” a poutine, sometimes this works sometimes I eat a poutine.

So these are my number three responses. I also do other things like act a little irrationally or burst into tears at the drop of a hat, but these are my top three stress responses. From my homework assignments from the personal training, I have been able to recognize what is going on instead of just going through with whatever impulse I feel at the time. I am starting to learn to pump the breaks a bit and take a step back. But mostly I have learnt that you can’t control feeling stressed but you can make a choice about how you respond to that stress.

I think it is important to point out that I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, so no I don’t always go out for a run, or perform some type of physical activity instead of stuffing my face or sleeping a day away, but I am definitely less likely to do so now that I am aware of what I am doing. I have found that paying attention to my internal queues has helped me approach this whole health and fitness deal with a bit more mindfulness and confidence.

How do you deal with stress?

Happy Thursday everyone!

Bells and Task Lists

Today’s post is brought to you by bridal stress and party planning mayhem. I have some running updates, but I am going to wait on those until I see a guy about my orthotics.

With my wedding quickly approaching (39days to be exact) the pressure of getting things done is becoming very really. Everything is organized, and there are dates and meetings associated with most of the “To Dos” on the task lists, but every once in a while you have a dream where you forget to participate in your own wedding photos, or your hair dresser decides that what you wanted isn’t good enough and gives you a beehive instead.
UntitledThe best part of this “stress” is that I am not even sure it is actual stress. I am all mixed with excitement, nervousness, anxiety (in a good way), happiness, and then sandwiched up with some more excitement. All the feelings are so muddled together I am often not sure what in the world I am doing. With my family coming to visit, friends from all over coming, and about a thousand little tasks to get done before and during visits with everyone I am having a difficult time navigating. I feel much like this dog:
funny dog pictures - Goggie Gif: Yes! Yes! Please! Gimme!
see more dog and puppy pictures

Thankfully I have so many wonderful people in my life helping me out with things, or offering to help (which is often enough to calm anyone down), the thousand things there are left to do don’t feel so daunting all the time. With every little thing that gets crossed off the list my shoulders start to feel lighter, exercising regularly if not daily also helps with managing stress loads.

I have said it before and I will say it again, exercise = best form of stress management!! When I am feeling like my head is going to pop, a quick set of 10push-ups can bring me back down to earth, or if something more substantial is need a quick but intense cardio circuit can get me back down to “normal” people levels.

Well that is my little personal rant, and just to advise wedding planning might also interfere with my blogging so I do apologize in advance if my posts become a bit more sparse, but I will do my best to keep on posting.

Happy Tuesday – hope everyone has a chance to get out in the Sunday today. I know I will!!!

Slowing Down

Meditation has been around for what seems like ever, as far back as 15th century BCE there is mention of the practice. It is a practice that goes across many different religiouions and has been adapted by the western world and moulded into “New Age” type practices (mostly pulling from Buddhism and Hinduism). Meditation is an inward personal practice (despite often being practiced in groups) in order to realize some benefit, may it be enlightenment, relaxation, stress management, personal time, what have you.
buddhism and hinduism I have attempted to add some Zen back in my life through meditation, as I was having a difficult time making it to the yoga studio. I started out with an 11 minute meditation, to help focus my mind, and relax my body from the impending stresses of planning a wedding, working 5 days a week, and managing a social life. My first couple attempts were alright. I was able to sit still for about 9-10minutes, but never quiet able to make it through the full 11minutes of guided meditation.

After my first few failed attempts I primarily blamed my inability to sit there on the podcast I had found. It seriously isn’t the greatest, and at this point I now find the man’s voice utterly annoying. But upon reflection I have realized it has nothing to do with the poor quality of the meditation podcast, nor with the man’s wanna be soothing voice. It was me.

So under the advisement of my sister I started to attempt walking meditation. I read up on it a little on the internet, and I remembered it from some books I had read and I thought, surely it would be so much easier than sitting there for 11minutes. I could even incorporate it into my walks home after work. WRONG! I tried soothing music to help block out distractions. I tried Mantras I had learnt from one of my favourit yoga teachers, but walking meditation seemed even more futile than sitting meditation.

Then the second I get on my mat in a yoga class, everything just seems so easy. the moving postures (Asanas) just melt anything else away. I can focus and clear my mind and think about almost nothing besides what is going on on my mat. This isn’t to say that at the end of the class I don’t often trail off about what I am going to make for supper, but I am able do it for more than 11minutes, without feeling like my skin is about to crawl off my body.
yogaSo as it turns out yoga is the best way for me to meditate. By doing something I can forget and clear my mind of other things that are happening in my life. Now for the problem…realizing this doesn’t change the fact that gym yoga sucks and that the yoga studio I currently have some passes with doesn’t really sync up with my schedule. But with most things in life you just have to rely on a little help from some friends! A good friend of mine had lent me a book a while back, and I had been a little slow in getting to it, but flipping through the pages the other day I realized that it has outlines for personal yoga practices, there are 30, 60 and 90minutes personal practices

Now I have a history of being notoriously bad at sticking to at home self guided things (workout dvd’s and the like). But I figured there is no harm in giving this ago. I mean I was making myself sit still for 11minutes a day for a couple of weeks. I am sure I can get myself to do something I love to do for 30-90 minutes a day and heck if it doesn’t workout I still have my regular yoga classes, and at least I tried right. Today will be day one of the at home yoga attempt, I will report back on how it goes.

Have you ever attempted something at home? How successful were you?