Monday, September 28, 2015

Exercise on Purpose (or Die Trying)

This is the 6th post of a 13 part series on my Healthy Life Habits. In case you've missed the previous posts we've already covered:

Oh boy. This is the healthy life habit that soooo many people hate. We find all kinds of excuses NOT to exercise. Yet, we buy treadmills and thigh masters, only to shove them in the garage where the spiders claim them or we turn them into clothes racks.

Why exactly do we detest exercise so so much?

We hate it so much, we make constant fun of those who post their gym selfies, berating them for being vain and insipid. We roll our eyes at the 5k fanatics and the half-marathon moms.  And we do it with gusto.

Take Jim Gaffigan’s or Jon Pinette’s stand up routines. While I exercise in some intentional way every day, I still laugh my ass off at their cynical and condescending comedy.

There’s an entire subculture of exercise/healthy living bashing. If you lift weights, you’re a meathead, right? Shallow, stupid. “We have the audacity to decide who Mr. Universe is and we pick someone who probably can’t name the planets in our solar system” says Jim Gaffigan (who I adore btw). 

If you eat kale you’re a ditzy California hippie chic. “What else can we sell these idiots?” (again, Jim Gaffigan)

If you drink almond/soy/coconut/hemp milk, hey I’ve got a bridge in California I’d like you to take a look at. (that’s me. ha ha. yeah. I know. *sigh* I’m no Jim Gaffigan.)

If you’re "gluten-sensitive" you’re allergic to the “amber waves of grain” and it’s a communist conspiracy. "Doesn’t mean they don’t love this country. Just means they can’t stomach the purple mountains majesty.” (Jim Gaffigan. Yes, I love Jim Gaffigan.)

Then there’s my other all-time favorite comedian, Jon Pinette, who doesn’t do sit ups. “I don’t do ups. I do downs. Sit down. Lay down. Black Jack I’ll double-down. Give me a cheeseburger, I’ll wolf it down.” (Lmao!)

All kidding aside, here is where I make a very sad point. Jon Pinette is gone forever. He died at the age of 50. Did you catch that? 50. It’s awful. Too young, too young. What did he die of? I’m quoting wikipedia here, but it’s all public record:

"Pinette was pronounced dead at 2:30 p.m. on April 5, 2014, at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel in Pittsburgh. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office said Pinette had been suffering from liver and heart disease. An autopsy was not performed, as Pinette’s personal doctor signed off on his cause of death as pulmonary embolism."

Does anyone doubt that his food choices and lack of intentional exercise most of his life played a factor? A big one? The resulting obesity and clogged arteries took him down and robbed the world of a fantastic entertainer.

And so I ask again, why do we detest exercise so so much? Why do we make constant fun of those who commit to exercising on purpose at least three times per week?

Underlying most hate is fear. And what is one of the most common ways to cope with fear? Laughter. Ever laugh nervously when the IRS sends you an audit summons? Yeah.

I submit that we are afraid. Afraid of the kind of early grave that Jon Pinette fell in to. AND we are afraid that we don’t have what it takes to do anything about it. How freaking scary is that????

But Jon Pinette knew he was in trouble and started making changes. He started exercising! If he could do it, so can you. Will it be easy? No. Will you have days you don’t want to get out of bed, much less hop on a bicycle? Yes. So how do you cope? How do you not give up?

Let’s take a look at Jon again. He faced a long, long road to wellness, too, so he made his weight and health central to his stand up comedy. Why? Well, because it was his life experience and his art form was comedy. His struggle to lose weight (I believe he lost over 100 pounds at one point) and to learn to eat healthier was put “out there” for the world to have a good laugh over. 

This was how he processed his own fears. He used his art form to make sense of his self-destruction and rebirth. You may not consider yourself an artist, but I bet you can think of some ways to channel your struggle to start an exercise program and stick with it. Like keep a journal, draw cartoons, talk to friends, maybe even crack jokes at open mic night.

Intentionally or not, Jon's comedy also informed. “Look at me” it said, “and come to your own conclusions” in a way that made us laugh at our own health problems, our own struggle to motivate ourselves, our own resistance to what we know is good for us: exercise. We laughed at the fear.

Although Jon never intended the ultimate punch line—his untimely death—it still packs a huge wallop. Ka-blam! Here is what can happen to you.

But he was trying to change in the end. Despite it not being enough to stave off an early death, I think we can all learn from his struggles, like how anyone can start exercising. ANYONE. 
Also, he showed us how to power through on the days we just don’t want to get on that damn elliptical machine.

The kids and I have listened to every one of Jon Pinette's albums so much we can sing along. My kids' favorite bit is “Raviolis and a nap! Raviolis and a nap!” which is Jon’s self-proclaimed mantra while he was on the elliptical at the gym. 

When he felt like he couldn’t keep going, he’d start chanting “Raviolis and a nap!” Hey, whatever gets you up off your tuchus and keeps you going. 

What do you need to get off your ass and start moving? It doesn’t have to be 2 hours at the gym. It can be a simple 10 minute walk to start. Commit to a little intentional exercise at least 3 times per week or a short walk every day starting right now.

Can’t walk? How about chair yoga?

You’ve got an excuse not to exercise?

I’ve got an exercise for that.  


Monday, September 21, 2015

Build a Support Team

This is the 5th post of a 13 part series on Healthy Life Habits. In case you've missed the previous posts we've already covered:


This is probably the most important healthy lifestyle habit you'll ever work on. Why? Because not doing this almost guarantees backsliding into unhealthy habits. 

So, what do I mean by “build a support team”?

This sounds all official, doesn’t it? “Build a support team” brings to mind a construction crew, an architect, an engineer, lawyers, and an Indian Chief. But its not that complicated, I promise. This is all about flocking together with other like-feathered birds, as well as enlisting some carefully chosen professionals.

Let’s start with our friends and family.

First, you need to let them know you’re working on creating some healthier life habits. If they laugh, are dismissive, or outright undermine your efforts, then you need to think long and hard about how much time you can afford to spend with them.

If they support you then all is well. You’ve got a good bunch of friends, there. If, however, they say they support you but do passive-aggressive things like bring Krispy Kreme doughnuts to the yoga class you’re taking together when you’ve told them you’re working on cutting back on sweets, then take some time to consider your options.

I’m not suggesting you cut off your friends. Or Krispy Kreme doughnuts. ;-) I’m suggesting you acknowledge how helpful they are being…or not being. Maybe a little talk will put everything right, maybe not. The thing is, friends can get scared when they see you making changes they’re not ready to make themselves. They might fear losing you as a friend so they might try to lead you back to the comfortable, less healthy dance they’re used to.

The key is to be honest with friends and family. Tell them you mean business. You want to feel better and live healthier come hell or high water. You’d prefer their support, but you understand if they can’t give it to you at this time.

But, if that’s the case, then you might need to take a step back until you get some of your healthy habits more firmly established.

 Let them know when you feel undermined by their words or behavior. There will be push-back. I promise. But stick to your guns. Don’t give in to Aunt Betty’s guilt-trips over not eating a slice of every pie she baked for Thanksgiving. Tell her you’re happy to sample one of them, but you’ll have to pass on the others.

If all else fails, don’t show up for the negativity. I know this sounds harsh, and it is, somewhat, but I swear you will be grateful you established clear boundaries. Down the line, it will pay off in spades. Maybe your family will see the changes in you are here to stay and get inspired. ;-)

Maybe your best girlfriend has been thinking of doing the same thing and wow! You can both get started together. Perfect! However, if she keeps canceling your walk dates, go without her. You don’t have to end the friendship, but maybe look around your social circle or the park for a new walking buddy.

As you adjust your lifestyle, you’re going to encounter people who are heading in the same direction. Make new friends with people who think what you’re doing is important and will cheer you on.

And you can cheer them on, too.

Where can you find these like-minded, healthy habit souls? If your current circle of friends isn’t on board, then try the local gym, wellness center or, like I said, walking at the park. Take a yoga class or sign up for a 5k charity walk. Pop online and search for wellness groups or gurus on your favorite social media site. Follow blogs like mine to get inspired and meet friends in the comments.

Finding and befriending people who are walking the same path to health will make the journey all the richer. It may not make it easier, but having a tribe to support us will make it more fun and more likely to stick because we’re not always being tempted by unhealthy things.

Second, we need to recruit a few professionals for our support team: doctors, therapists, nutritionists, life style coaches, personal trainers, massage therapists, fitness instructors, and the list goes on. You may not need any of these right now or be able to afford too much, but you should at least have a doctor and someone you can talk to about making lifestyle changes, such as a wellness coach, personal trainer, or a lifestyle coach.

You may already have a great doctor who is all about healthy lifestyle habits. Yippee! Most are; however, make sure your doctor is also open to options besides prescriptions. Nothing wrong with a prescription if you need it, but what if you could ween yourself off, say, blood pressure medication with the right healthy habits?

Is your doctor on board with giving it a go? Yes? Great. No? Hmmmm…you may want to interview some other doctors, find one who is willing to support you on this journey, wherever it takes you. Maybe you’d like to experiment with meditation or acupuncture. How does your doctor feel about those things?

You absolutely do NOT want to find yourself hiding things from your doctor. If you go see an aromatherapist and your conventional doctor has a problem with that, how likely are you to tell him or her? Your doctor needs ALL the facts to assist you and treat you. 

If you don’t feel you can afford a wellness coach or personal trainer, do some research before you nix the idea. You might be surprised at the affordable options out there. Grab a book on healthy living and look up the author’s website. And if you do hire a coach, make sure you’re on the same page.

It’s really important that your wellness coach is supportive of your journey, not pushing their own agenda. You should be open to new ideas, but if your coach is insisting you do things her way no matter what, then it’s probably not the right fit.

Take the time to interview every professional you consider hiring before you make any commitments. Some trainers and coaches require you to sign minimum session contracts and you don’t want to be stuck with 7 training sessions you don’t want to use because you and your trainer just got into a big fight about the Atkins diet.

In the end, make sure you have surrounded yourself with like-minded, healthy habit types. When you fall (and you will) they will be there to catch you, dust you off, and cheer you on.

Whew! That’s a lot of information and there is so much more to talk about. But let’s stop here and reflect on who in your life will be supportive of your new healthy habits journey? Who won’t be?

Don’t be afraid to step out on your own. You will be pleasantly surprised at the new friendships you form and the new life you breathe into old relationships…especially the one with yourself.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Love and Light Yoga Festival 2015

If you're in the Culpeper, VA area, I would love to see you at the Love and Light Yoga Festival on September 19th. I will be teaching a restorative yoga mini-class at 12:30 pm. Please come out to the Pranapiloga studio and enjoy this wonderful community event celebrating National Yoga Month where we'll learn ways to care for and love our bodies and minds.


Monday, September 07, 2015

Move Your Body

This is the 4th post of a 13 part series on Healthy Life Habits. In case you've missed the previous posts we've already covered:


So, hi everyone!

*crickets chirping* 

So um, yeah, I know it’s been over two months since my last post and I know that’s no way to run a blog. BUT I’m back after a long summer of pilgrim-ing husbands, injured children, and overwhelmed mothers. More on that in another post.

I want to pick up where I left off which is a series about My 10 Healthy Life Habits. I wrote about drinking water in my last post, so I’m moving on to number 2, moving your body or as I like to think of it: energetically engaging in your life.

The very first thing I need to say is this is not about intentional exercise. This is about two things that I lump together, and you’ll see why.

First, it’s about every day activities or lack there of. Do you tend to sit in a chair all day? Does walking from your house to the car, from your car to your office, and back again constitute your daily walking? This is the thing you hear about all the time: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, for example. Simple.

The second part is a little more amorphous. It’s about enjoying the little every day things about your life. Do you generally lack enthusiasm and joy in your daily life? I mean during each part of your day, including work time. Yeah, if you lack a zest for life then that’s a problem as far as keeping well. Why? Because its a sign that you’ve checked out on your life. You’re just going through the motions with blinders on.

And its not only a physical problem, although that’s enough to ruin your day. It’s also a mental and spiritual problem. Do you suffer from mysterious aches and pains, headaches, general lethargy, and depression (maybe not clinical depression requiring meds but feeling down or numb every day)? Do you have great ideas but have a hard time getting started on them or finishing a project?

These are all signs that you are not energetically engaging in your daily life enough. Part of the fix? Moving your body.

Say what??

Let me explain. So what do I mean by this “move your body” thing? Most people get confused because I separate this from intentional exercise, but there’s a reason for that. Moving your body throughout the day is a more organic, natural activity that may include spontaneous dancing or hula hooping for the sheer joy of it or making a point of walking to the store instead of driving the four blocks.

It’s also about taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking in the back of the lot instead of circling while you wait for that spot upfront to open up. But more importantly, it’s about taking walks on the beach at sunset, planting flowers, and playing jump rope with the neighborhood kids. 

It’s also about getting up from your desk every hour or so, stretching, taking a walk to the water cooler or bathroom. It means when you have a break at work, instead of sitting around in the break room munching Little Debbie’s (not to knock Little Debbie’s okay? Just to make a point), how about taking a walk around the building or even get outside?

These are not times to strap on your iPod and sweat to the oldies or don your weight lifting gloves and bench press 100 pounds (although eventually, the lines may blur for you). These are things you can do in the clothes you’re wearing at the time that are convenient or even better because its relaxing or uplifting. 

At first, it may seem awkward or even embarrassing, depending on the circumstances. I mean shaking your thang at work to Milkshake may be frowned upon. And that’s too bad, but maybe a pencil drum solo along with Rush is acceptable? ;-) 

My kids are used to mom popping off the computer to bust a groove to Uptown Funk or James Brown or hoop to Skrillex and Dillon Francis. They join in (or used to before they became too cool for that) and many giggles and much laughter later, I get back to writing or blech! the damn accounting stuff I’m trying to learn.

The point is this: get interested in the little things that happen every single day in your life. Nothing interesting about your life? Find something. Anything. Buy a plant and make a point of taking care of it, learning all about it, and doing the little things every day to nurture it’s growth.

Turn on the radio and discover new songs or rediscover old favorites to dance to. Can’t dance? Too bad. Wiggle your hips, stomp your feet, flail your arms, twitch your nose. Something. For the love of God! Just move to the music, dang it.

Are you getting this? Do you understand what I’m ranting about? If not, I’ll give it one more try.

When we have disconnected from our life, we tend to zone out like robots, which means we tend to sit very still and look very unlife like. This is unhealthy on every level and is part of why we eat poorly, develop health issues, and, yes, gain weight.

Weight gain is a symptom that something is not working in your relationship with YOU. Could it be that you’re not engaging with yourself enough? Maybe, maybe not, but reconnecting with yourself is never a bad idea.

Sooooo, it may feel stupid at first, but look for opportunities to move your body, even a little bit. I think you’ll find that once you start, it takes on a life of its own.

I love hearing from you so please tell me what you think about this moving your body thing. Do you do this naturally? (We all start out doing it. Watch a baby or toddler.) Do you discover yourself in the midst of the Electric slide on the way to the laundry room? Or tapping out Moby in morse code during study sessions?

Comment below and let us know how you engage with you.