The Mindful Diet—Week Six: Notice and celebrate!) changes

“I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece. I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk.” -Tony Robbins
Happy Monday! I mean that in the most serious way. This Monday means a lot to me. I have finally completed the Yoga Journal Mindfulness Challenge. I can honestly say that it has truly jump started the beginning of my year. At the beginning of this challenge my goal was to lose weight, find a hobby, try some new recipes, and maybe start a blog that I could be proud of. Within the past six weeks I have not only learned ways to feed my body, but I fed my soul. As I take time to reflect on the past six weeks, I can tell you that I do not regret waking up at 5:30AM to start my days with some yoga or meditation. I do not regret starting to cook more meals at home. I do not regret thinking about all of the good things and people in my life to which whom I am eternal grateful and thankful for.
I used to think of myself as somewhat of a rain cloud. I used to wake up angry, I would blame other people for things that would go wrong, and sometimes I found it hard to be genuinely happy for others—when I was not seeing results. All of those things are
flat out spirit killers. You know that little voice in your head telling you things like “I was not smart enough”, or “I’m not flexible enough”, or “Shame on me that I did not have a plan for my life written out in stone” my soul would retreat a little.
Today, when I wake up, I am grateful to see another day because I know that so many people did not. When I drive on my way to work–I don’t just space out–I notice the little boy who starts at the bus stop everyday at 7:15AM waiting to start his day at school . I notice the sun–and say that even if the I am having the day from hell–that I still have the sun to be grateful for. I tell my husband that I love him everyday, not because I saw it in a movie or a magazine, but I now know that I need to show appreciation to the person who always believes in me when I don’t believe in myself. I accept my friends for who they are and their choices–not because I always think that they are right, but I realize that when you are truly at peace with yourself—you can just love others for who the are.
On the first day of this challenge I quit my job, changed careers and was undoubtedly  lost. I decided to do this challenge as a hobby just to pass time while I got acclimated to some of the changes in my life–but in turn realized that change is life. If we are not constantly changing, growing, learning, and helping others we are truly not living.
Cheers to the Mindfulness Challenge, and all good and tough times that it brought!
I am excited to see what I will come up with to challenge myself with next.
AV
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THE MINDFULNESS DIET: HAVE MORE FUN WITH YOUR FOOD 29-35

“My own prescription for health is less paperwork and more running barefoot through the grass”  ~Leslie Grimutter

Here we are again ready to start a new week, and getting towards the finish line of this Mindfulness Diet!

This week had a heavy focus on “having more fun with your food.” Now, when I personally think of having fun with my food my brain automatically wanders off to all of the amazing pasta, cake, and ice cream dishes that I view on my Instagram about 3o times a day- but in reality I am honestly not the best cook in the world, and after getting home for a long day of work the last thing that I want to do is create “fun” on my plate. So, before this challenge started I had received the idea from on of my work friends to try a 4 week cleanse. My friend had recently purchased and printed out the E-book for the challenge and arranged the recipes and tips in a beautifully kept white binder. Being the curious and impulsive individual I that I am read through the binder—and without considering what type of discipline that a “cleanse” really takes–declared at the top of my lungs to the world (aka: my husband, and dog) that I was going to be partaking in a meat free ( which is easy for me since I don’t eat meat), dairy free, gluten free 4 week challenge. So, I grabbed my fancy white binder, and list and proceed to hop in my car and run to the nearest grocery store.

While in walking in the grocery store I began contemplating my plan of action. I would work my way from the frozen section, and head toward the produce section. So as I am flinging items into my cart left and right, a banana here, a bag of frozen blackberries there, and not to mention all of the items that I had no idea where they were located– I mean do people really buy chia seeds every time they shop? And, if you were to ask me what turmeric was–I would probably before this challenge told you it was the type of algebra that you learned in the 11th grade.  After, navigating my cart like I was in the Indy 500 throughout the store–it was finally time to cash out. As the cashier loaded all of my items on to the belt, and I watched my total go higher and higher–the pat of the back that I thought I was going to give my self, turned more into a smack of the forehead. When I loaded all of the groceries into the house–and finally looked at all of my endeavors—I realized that I had no idea what I was going to eat. Literally, I was surrounded by food and overwhelmed. It had hit me that I didn’t want to eat beet soup, or not have eggs, and I sure didn’t want to give up a morning coffee. I then asked myself the age old question “Why can’t I have my cake and eat it too?” Who said that you can’t make a bomb ass quinoa salad one day and then have whole wheat pasta the next—I mean who makes the health rules… and I came to the conclusion that– I DO! We make our own rules, rather it be how you spend your time outside, what exercises that you like to do, who your friends are, or even who do you want to be.” I personally have found out in life that the times when I excel the most is when I take what I have learned from others or books, and put my own spin on things—seriously, when I don’t feel like I have a say on something–I may do it well, but I use less effort. So, I returned my friends white binder, headed to Google and looked up recipes on how to use the healthy ingredients that I bought and some of the foods that I liked to eat and started to work my magic in the kitchen, and I can honestly say that this is the first “diet” that I have been able to stick to because I had a say in what was going in my mouth. No, I don’t have cookies on my list–I don’t even have dairy at all–but that I was my choice and I can honestly say that I feel great. I have increased my water intake to 1 liter a day as well–and I have been slimming down, and fitting into my clothes from sophomore year of college. The main take away that I got from this week would be not to force anything in my life–don’t force diets, friendships, relationships, or ponytails–because honestly at the end of the day if you aren’t happy on whichever path that you are on–you are the only one who can change your direction.

Here’s to the week, may it be a awesome one indeed —Cheers!!

AV

 

 

 

 

The Mindfulness Diet: Managing Obstacles–Days 22-28

Happy Wednesday! The end of the work week is almost here. The past few days here in Michigan have been a beautiful 60 degrees, despite it being the middle of February. This past week has really reminded me that I have a lot to be grateful for– I can’t even believe that I was sad to actually see the sunset–it has been a very rewarding past few days. It feels like the weather not only brought out the animals, and plants return to some type of life–but all of there other Michiganders around me did as well. There were people riding their motorcycles, kids playing basketball in the streets, heck–I even saw someone in shorts–( which is pretty normal here because in Michigan once it  hits 50 degrees all clothing options are fair game). Watching everyone around me coming out of hibernation really got me thinking. Why do we wait for a “good” event to occur before we really start putting ourselves out there? Why did it take a nice day for me to get to meet my neighbors, or not look at Facebook twenty times ( or read the comments, which is a HUGE no no, but I can’t help myself), or even take my dog to the park.

I have come to the conclusion that some of the obstacles that we face on a day to day basis may not even be recognizable to us. That maybe we as “people” have gotten so accustomed to obstacles looking like a issue at work, or a break up, or a financial loss–that we are desensitized to the biggest obstacle which is ourselves. This week really helped me take a look at what I prioritize and how I handle stress in situations. In the past I have struggled with obstacle and stress management. Dealing with the combination of the two would typically cause me to have an anxiety attack or generally shut down–at one point I had even turned to prescribed medication to decrease the amount of migraines and anxiety. At the beginning of this year I decided that I was not going to let my poor obstacle management get the best of me, that while I was looking for external fixes. The only way that I was going to see change is by taking a look at what was going on within. I stopped taking the medication ( please consult your doctor–this was just a personal choice) and started a full self evaluation. I set a meeting with a life coach (which I would have never done in 50 billion years). I started practicing yoga again ( which I would always make excuses that I didn’t have the money to pay for–but would drop $90.00 at Ulta like it was no problem), and I decided to “put myself out there” by being more open and honest with the people closest to me. Actually listening to understand–not listening to give my own response, and by choosing to put my self care first ( because I am a firm believer that–it is difficult to help others, if you struggle to help/understand yourself). I can say this new way of living has not always been easy, but it has been truly rewarding. I still have a long way to go in terms on mindfulness and managing obstacles, but by deciding to get out of my own way–I have realized that I am in control, and that no obstacle is too big for me to handle the holistic way.

So when you find yourself struggling to hurdle over your next obstacle, remember to ask yourself this one question:

1. AM I REALLY THE OBSTACLE?

Cheers, and onward to Friday!

AV

The Mindfulness Diet: Figuring Out the Cue and Experimenting with Different Rewards–Days 16-21

“Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free . . . your true self comes out.” — Tina Turner

Happy Wednesday! I know it has been a little while since I have posted, between a nasty cold and Valentines Day, I’ve been a busy lady. The past few days I have been focusing on recording the moments when my bad urges hit me, and then experimenting with different ways of rewarding myself.

I feel like the past few days I have really have come out of my comfort zone. For example, I was invited to play Dance Dance Revolution with my coworkers at our public work meeting area. Usually, I would have made up a excuse that I had to make a phone call or go to the restroom, but instead I dragged my two left feet to the meeting area and joined in–only to find that we were all so into the game, that when we looked over our shoulders the entire company including the CEO were watching our dance moves and proceeded to give us applause at the end. Another example of coming out my comfort zone recently would be when I signed up for a 2 hour and 30 minute Yoga workshop. I usually do 30 minutes of yoga/mediation in the morning and attend 2 classes on the weekend–but after some long thought and soul searching I have decided to work towards the goal of becoming a certified instructor.  Now, while all of these great things are going through my mind, I feel that I am as free as ever and I decided I needed to reward myself.

I want to back track a bit, and mention that when I first started writing this blog that I would not only talk about the joys of my journey but some of my downfalls as well.– Now back to me rewarding myself– I decided that since I was making so much progress (i.e. creating this blog, creating a yoga practice, dancing like no one is watching ) that I could take sometime off and in lack of better terms slack off a bit. In the past 3 days I have eaten pizza, talked myself out of mediation, and my latest offense was grabbing some greasy Chinese food on my way home from work. I can honestly say that if I could go back in time and not reward myself I would. I have a habit of once things get up and going, that I get too comfortable with the progress, and I tend to start slacking off here and there, which turns in to just 1 day, then 3 days, until I would quit writing, stop doing yoga, and decide to go back to watching Twilight Zone alone in my bed.

Well, it stops today. I am refusing to let my bad habits control my progress–I am tired of coming close to the finish line, but never collecting my “trophy”. I have learned that the positive things that I love are NOT chores–they are a part of who I am–doing the things I love IS the reward. I don’t need pizza, or a bottle of wine ( even though a little wine, has never hurt anyone), or a session of binge watching Netflix to prove that I am happy and relaxed. I have a goal and through I may have been temporarily derailed, but I’m back and I’m better– Friends, I have one ask of you. Help hold me accountable. We all know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child“, and from going through this experience I know I can’t do it alone.

So if you have any ideas for positive rewards, or and words of wisdom to bestow please feel free to chime in. I would love to hear from you all.

Cheers,

AV

The Mindfulness Diet: Identify Your “Bad Habit” Routine- Day 15

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
Lao Tzu

I woke up this morning with a cold. After trying every remedy in the book, or known to man I decided that I was going to come home and literally fall face first into my bed. I mean I literally, woke up and set a pair of pajamas on my nightstand before heading out to work. I had no intention of writing today, or even thinking of anything creative—Until, I had received a text message from my youngest sister that read ” I love your blog– I check everyday for new posts, it makes the world seem more relate able.” So, as I sat in my bed deciding that I was not going to write, I was going to put off my post until tomorrow–her words hit my soul pretty hard. I almost teared up, and honestly have no idea why. Could it be that I thought that no one would ever read my blog? Or that I could produce something that spoke to others? I have always thought of my self as a non creative person. If you would have asked me what I was good at for the past 27 years, I would have went on a tangent on how my sister Brittany is intelligent. Since birth she was always so dedicated and focused and would cry to mom if she ever got a “B’ on a test, or I may say that my sister Chelsea is so artistic, she can create art with her hands and make people feel the effects with their hearts.–but I could never say anything like that about myself, because despite being the oldest, I had always previously felt that I was pretty ordinary–and in that statement lies my bad habit. I tend to see the good in others, and have a difficult time seeing the good in myself.

When I started taking this mindful journey I had only anticipated on maybe losing a few pounds, or mastering a headstand. I never thought that I would have had to deal with my own demons. I never thought I would have to actually think about things that I wanted to do, or contemplate things that I was good at. People told me I was good at sales, and that is what I stuck with and did for the past 7 years. I never challenged the status quo, or myself for that matter. This “journey” as I would call it has taught me more than any paycheck is worth–it has taught me that I may not have everything figured out at this point, but as long as I am breathing I have time to work on those things. I may not be the smartest, or the most creative–hell I can barley draw a stick figure–but what I contribute to the world matters. Even if it never makes me rich, or I never make it into a history book— I want all the other people out there, the “wanderers” as I would like to call us, to keep wandering–because from what I have learned–not all those who wander are lost.

Cheers to Monday!

AV

The Mindful Diet: Cheat Day & Keeping a Food Diary—Days 7- 14

“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.” -Viggo Mortensen

I hope that you all had a wonderful week. My week began by starting my new job, which deals with helping children with Autism find ABA therapy services. This was a complete 360 from anything that I have done before. In the past I managed banking centers, and I was also an IT recruiter. I can proudly say that although it has only been one week, I can honestly say that I am so happy that I decided to “go out on a limb” and change the type of career path that I had been on for 5+ years with a degree in (Sales and Business Marketing). For this first time in a long time, I left on a Friday afternoon and breathed a sigh of relief. I said to myself “ It has been a good week.” Things have really seemed to come together. Until Friday night when I got home I “hit a wall”—not a real wall, but a roadblock in my mind. As I have said before, I do not claim to be perfect or all knowing—and from time to time I slip back into my old habits. I can’t pin point what exactly had made me angry, but it ended up with me asleep on the couch by myself at 7pm. I was ignoring my dog, and ignoring my husband—and I felt that all of my hard work on being mindful had slipped down the train. So, I marched from the couch to my bed and went to sleep angry (which I never recommend anyone doing). I woke up in the morning angry at some unknown reason and began my day. I literally could not shake this feeling.  So, I decided to hit the mat, and I was happy that I did. When, I returned home I was able to pit point where I had gone awry. Ladies and gentlemen…I was hungry. Yes, I had been living on a diet of salad and granola bars for the week and had even decided to opt out of Cheat Day for the challenge—which involves eating something that you have been craving. All because I had not received the instant results that I was looking for. After 1 ½ months of working out, yoga, and eating more mindfully, I had realized that I had only lost 4 lbs. In distress I talked to my husband and honestly had thoughts about just going back to eat what I wanted and giving up waking up early to work out. All I wanted was to trade in my mat for a tray of brownies because I had not been seeing the results I wanted.  My husband being the wise person that he is reminded me about how my mindset had changed, how I was kinder to him and others around me, and that all the mini set backs and struggles would make me more appreciative once I hit my goals.

Throughout this week I came to realize that the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” rings true to how I have been living my life. I have always been a pusher; I have been my own biggest critic. Today, I am challenging myself to allow growth at a slower pace. To think about how I am feeling on the inside versus, the number on the scale.  When I am feeling hungry, or tired, or lacking motivation that I come back to the beginning and realize that I am a work in progress. I started this blog as a challenge to show myself and others how important self care is. I want to show others that there is more to life than punching a clock, or catching the $2.99 domestic beer special.  So, the next time I think about depriving myself of foods that I need ( not craving, but foods that are healthy for me), or getting down about myself because I am not losing weight as fast as I hoped. I am going to remind myself “ slow and steady wins the race.”

Here’s to Super Bowl Sunday—or in my case Puppy Bowl Sunday—Cheers!   AV

The Mindful Diet: Practice Mindful Eating- Days 4-6.

I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a life. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. -Maya Angelou

Read more https://www.happypublishing.com/blog/second-chances-quotes/

It feels good to be back writing again. It has been a very eventful few days. The Mindfulness task for the past 4-6 days has been focused around practicing eating mindfully. I have spent the past 3 days in Chicago, IL visiting my best friend. Typically when I visit a larger city like Chicago I get a tad overwhelmed. I think it might either be the amount of people pushing past you in the street, or my Uber driver literally getting in an all out honking match with a moving truck to see who can cut the other off first to get stuck at the next red light. But, this visit in Chicago was different. While I was focusing on what I was going to feed my body, I also was able to partake in a few activities that fed my soul.

The activity that really stuck out in my mind was not something that I would call a grand event. It was an Uber ride requested by my friend to pick me up to take me to her school in which she teaches 2nd grade.  As I got into the Uber the driver and I exchanged our “hellos” and proceeded to have quite a ride, unexpectedly he began telling me his life story. Even though it was 8:30AM and I hadn’t had any coffee I decided to listen. The driver’s story began by him telling me about his daughter having a new baby and that he was a grandfather —to which I responded the usual questions ( Is it a boy or a girl? Do you like being a grandfather?) he was super responsive but took it a step further.  He asked if I was from Chicago, and if I was familiar with a larger building (which I can not recall the name of) . I let him know that I was from Michigan and was unfamiliar with the area. He then proceeded to tell me that he had done security for over 30 years and that a majority of those years he acted as security for a building that housed drug dealers, gangbangers, and other families. So, at this point I didn’t know where this conversation was headed, but I was intrigued. We talked about choices and how the times that we live in now are so fast paced, and can sometimes be perceived as cold. The driver then proceeded to tell me about when he was 5 years old he had watched his mother shoot his father, and although his father had lived he was required to live in group homes until the age of 18. He worked as a car washer, in an apartment building office, and other odd jobs—but the thing that he said that kept him on the straight and narrow path even though he had experienced this traumatic event was the fact that he wanted to prove everyone wrong. That people were not expecting him to amount to much and were waiting for him to either be on drugs or  get locked up— even his own family members would treat him as an outcast due to the fact that he was doing well and many of them were struggling.  While he told me his story unapologetic, I couldn’t help but  come to the conclusion in my mind that in everything we do in life we have choices—we have the choice to eat ice cream or to eat a salad. We have the choice to follow through on our new years resolutions and goals vs. procrastinating, and we have the choice to take the path less traveled vs. following the paths that others have laid down for us. Now, I couldn’t tell you what prompted this conversation between the two of us that day, or that I have just naturally have a disposition in which people who I hardly know are chomping at the bit to speak with me—but I can tell you all that I am a better person for learning about this man. Instead of staring at my cell phone, checking my Instagram app for the 50th time, or just talking about the bare minimum to end the conversation. I decided to be inquisitive, a good listener, and to allow myself to be open and vulnerable to others.

So no, I did not end up counting how many chews that I took with my food like the challenge had requested, nor did I start a food journal, but I can confidently tell you that I am “full” in more ways than one.

 

So, Johnny from Chicago, IL if this blog ever finds you, I want to say thank you for sharing your story with me and I am blessed to have met you.

Cheers to Monday,

AV

Note: I will be posting new entries on Monday’s and Sunday’s. So please feel free to follow the blog to get updates.