Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Everything Is(n’t only) Awesome

Do you know the song Everything is Awesome?  Since watching The Lego Movie four years ago during the worst of times, it became sort of a sarcastic anthem for me and J.

Sometimes it takes a paradigm shifting event in life to realize that not feeling awesome all the time is ok.  And feeling several seemingly opposing things one time is normal.  And embracing the entire spectrum of emotion is just part of the human experience.  Whether it be due to culture or individual capacity, navigating one’s internal world can be tricky.

You may have heard the term “emotional alchemy” before, but I would like to present the idea of “emotional addition”.  By allowing yourself to feel several feelings at once and acknowledge each one you may create something more useful than either alone.  The whole may be greater than the sum of it’s parts.  For the past four years in our family, the new year has brought about a strange mix of emotions.  Instead of fighting them back, this year I played with blending them together.  Here is what I came up with:

Sadness + Gratefulness = Compassion

Give it a try, it’s kind of fun.  Like blending paint colors for your soul.  The following is an emotional addition meditation:

-Find a spot where you can close your eyes and get comfortable for 12 minutes (any amount of time is better than none, but 12 minutes has been proven to be the sweet spot for short meditation sequences…)

-Bring awareness to your breath.  Once breathing deeply and regularly, notice any emotion that arises without pushing it away.  The goal isn’t to “feel better”, just to feel.

-Notice where you feel these emotions in your body and, if helpful, physically place a hand where you feel sensation (ex. sadness might express physically as a heavy feeling in the heart, nervousness a tightening in the stomach, etc.)

-Notice if you can feel several emotions simultaneously and what else arises if you do.

-Resist the urge to “do anything” with these emotions, just let them hang out and shift naturally.

-At the end of your time, gradually bring your awareness back to the present.  It may be helpful to jot down some notes on your experience to solidify the experience.

For more musings on mindfulness, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

T never saw the movie but still thinks Legos are awesome……





Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Shift Happens

J often tells me to go for a walk or run to “get the evil out” (he often says the same about Dee which is why she usually comes with me…..).  Though exercise can be good for draining energy as a means to get you to a saner place, one doesn’t want to be drained constantly.  Sometimes you need to tap into what you are feeling and there’s an app exercise for that.

One of the things I love most about working in the fitness field is options.  No one (not even us fitness professionals) feels the same every single day.  With all the daily physical and emotional fluctuations that come with being human, it is a major accomplishment to keep to a routine at all.  So don’t be so hard on yourself if that workout that felt so great yesterday doesn’t feel as great today.  The most important part of learning how to be a more active individual is the skill of adaptation.  Knowing what your body needs and being able to move accordingly.  It takes a little practice but the more you tune in (or tune out when the situation calls for it), the more adept you’ll become.

Here are a few ways to make your workout work for you:

-Play with intensity: Tabata and HIIT training might feel great on days when you’ve slept well and are feeling on top of your game, but may wear you down to the point of unhelpfulness when you are a bit under the weather.  Instead of pushing through and depleting your reserves, why not focus on some slow steady strength work while incorporating some balance?  Work with your body, not against it.

-Consider the scenery: Have you been cooped up in an office for days on end and don’t feel like being cooped up in a gym?  Take your workout outside.  Even when the weather is less than ideal, it is important to attune with nature.  Whether you can see the sunset over a mountain or simply catch the few rays of sun that creep through the city skyline, being outdoors brings benefits beyond physical health.

-Fine tune your footing: Mentally, that is.  Have you been in your head over the same problem for days on end?  A run might be just what the doctor ordered to shift awareness outward.  Have you been dealing with external pressures and lost touch with what you truly need?  Take yourself to yoga class to reconnect and reboot.

For more exercise motivation check out the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

Even though it was chilly T opted for a little fresh air……


Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Going Green

If there is one non-negotiable on our family grocery list, it’s greens.  They appear at every meal (yes, even breakfasts and snacks!)  Why?  With everything I’ve learned (and am still learning) about plant based eating, greens come out on top.  If there were a magical pill that would boost artery function, improve energy efficiency, and enhance athletic recovery, you would be interested, right?  Greens do all this and much, much more with no negative side effects (well, maybe spinach in your teeth….) .  The following are my top 3 ways for incorporating greens at each meal:

-Breakfast: Green smoothie!  Bonus points if you eat it out of a bowl.

-Lunch: Switch out tortillas or bread for lettuce wraps, or make a yummy salad.

-Dinner: Add greens to sauces, top pizza with tons if spinach, and when in doubt, take a handle full of greens and quickly pan cook with a little balsamic to serve as a side or topping.

It’s easy being green……

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!




Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Sticky Brain? Roll Out Your Sticky Mat

When we are down in the dumps and stuck in rumination, we are often poor judges of what will make us feel better (pints of ice cream and a Netflix binge anyone?)  Research on positive psychology has proven time and again that this is just part of being human.  Not to say that a treat and Netflix binge is never warranted, but if you find yourself falling back on these old coping mechanisms while simultaneously falling further into a pit of despair it may be time to try something different.

Neuropathways run deep and ditching old patterns while creating new ones is not a walk in the park….or is it?  Next time you are feeling low and want to run and hide, play with stepping just a little outside of your comfort zone and get moving.  A little nurturing movement can bring about a lot of shift.  The key is to be gentle enough with yourself that it feels supportive but engaging enough that it gets you out of your head and into your body.  Here are a few ideas for getting unstuck:

-Walk or hike outside: Fresh air, nature, and exercise all in one convenient package.  If you are lucky enough to live somewhere near scenic views this can be a great way to remind yourself of how big the world is and give you a bird’s eye view of your problems (rather than looking at them through the lens of a microscope).

-Hit up a yoga class: Honestly, I am an introverted yogini through and through.  Sometimes I feel like I could practice in my own little world for days on end.  However, when I am feeling stuck, I make sure to haul myself out to a class.  Practicing with others can be a great way to inspire an energetic shift while still honoring yourself and working from where you are at.

-Dance your cares away: If dancing wasn’t man’s first way of releasing emotion and shifting stuck energy, it has to be close to it.  Little is more primal or more satisfying.  It requires just enough focus to shift your awareness outward but still allows for creative expression of what is within.

For more about the mind-body connection, as well as a variety of other topics I write about, visit the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

Head into nature for a bit of nurture….