Thursday, April 28, 2011
Winter is a challenging time under the best conditions and this winter is exceptionally so. Getting out to get to our workouts at the gym may be impossible. May I suggest a brief workout that will touch on all the major muscle groups of the body; one that anyone can do in the comfort of their own home. Our bodies actually stay conditioned best through the practice of consistency, more so than by monitoring duration and even intensity. It is not nearly as important that you train an exact amount of minutes each time you workout, nor is it very important that you always use a specific amount of intensity. What IS crucial is staying consistent.
So, on those days when getting out of the house is not an option try the following workout at home. Will this workout make you grow stronger? That depends entirely on what your normal workout consists of, but for most people who regularly train, this will simply provide a maintenance workout. If, on the other hand, you are new to training or just getting back on track after an extended layoff, this could be somewhat challenging. As always, listen to your body while performing each exercise and do only the number of repetitions that you can, using ideal form. When your form begins to falter, stop immediately. This will prevent jeopardizing the body's mechanics, putting it at risk for injury. Using perfect form not only trains the muscles specifically but it assures your body's safety. Here are 4 exercises that can be done in any order and can be repeated as many times as you desire. We usually do 2 - 5 sets of each exercise so again, use your best judgment. The first exercise is push ups. There are 4 levels to choose from, in order of difficulty: wall, countertop, modified (front of thighs) and standard. Choose the level that best suits you or try combining by warning up with a set of wall and graduating down to the floor with each subsequent set. Hold the abdominal group tight to help align the back from the crown of the head to the tail bone. Breathe in as you lower your body and out as you lift it. Perform 12-20 repetitions/set. Next is squats, both narrow and wide stance. Place the back of a sturdy straight-back chair against a wall. Sit down with 50% of your thighs off the seat, making sure your feet are hip width apart and toes straight ahead for your narrow set(s) and legs straddled apart with toes turned out for your wide set(s).Cross your arms over your chest, inhale as you stand up and exhale as you send the buttocks back and sit slowly into the chair. Repeat 10-15 times/set. Next, abdominal crunches, either seated in a chair (which is quite effective) or while lying on the floor with both knees bent. Relax the buttocks throughout the exercise, place both hands behind your head (imagine a broom stick behind the head holding the elbows out wide as you do these ab exercises), continuously look back behind you gently to maintain a neutral neck position. Now, inhale before pressing the chest toward the ceiling (if seated, visualize curling the spine around an imaginary beach ball) and simultaneously tucking the pelvis toward the chin (keep that bottom loose!). If your have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia eliminate this exercise. Repeat 15-30 times/set. Finally, to work the mid-abdominal/waist area, place your right hand on your right knee and your left hand on your left shoulder. Inhale while neutral then exhale as you draw the knee toward the elbow and the elbow toward the knee, inhaling back to neutral. Repeat on the other side15-30 times/side/set.
This mini workout can be as brief as 5-8 minutes or as long as 40 depending on how many sets you choose to perform. Remember that the slower and cleaner you perform each movement, the more effective they will be. Staying consistent with your training can be fun and easy and is always the best way to BE the fit, healthy person we all are striving to be. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
We hear a lot of different discussions regarding the topic of peace. Peace is certainly a worthy subject and goal regardless of whether we are talking world peace or personal inner peace. It has been my experience that it, like so many things, is always an inside job first. How many times have we heard the saying, “ BE the peace you wish to see in the world.” I for one, second that and third and fourth it. Peace defined according to Webster’s, “ 1.) freedom from or cessation of war. 2.) a treaty or agreement to this end. 3.) freedom from or cessation of public disturbance; prevailing of law and order. 4.) absence or stopping of quarrels, disagreements, etc.; concord. 5.) freedom from or cessation of inner conflict; mental, emotional or spiritual tranquility. 6.) quiet; calm.” It is my understanding that if we truly desire to know peace we must begin with ourselves. As we each gain a greater and greater capacity for inner peace, this energy must emanate out into our families, work places, communities and on and on.
It’s a brand new year and I love to spend a little time reflecting on what I have lived through during the previous year and how I grew from those experiences. Then I make a couple of goals for the year ahead. This year it is my desire to embody peace. Although a lofty goal, one I know in my heart, if achieved, will have endless positive repercussions. As with so many states of being, they are self-induced through the mental patterns we consciously or unconsciously select to run. In other words, we have the power to choose our perception, perspective and general outlook on life...we choose that through the thoughts we predominantly think. As we think about the relationships we have with our spouses, children, employers, fellow co-workers, etc. we create feelings within ourselves that can either have uplifting OR negative consequences. Either way, we are at the helm. And for this very reason we can choose to change our thinking enough to shift the emotional response that ensues. My greatest tool in this avenue of work is to remember to ALWAYS ‘give the benefit of the doubt.’ That’s right, just decide that everyone is doing the very best that they can given what they are dealing with in their own lives, at this moment. It sounds simple but it takes effort. However, the effects that arise from within yourself are so worth that effort. What happens when we choose to give people a break, forgive them unconditionally and ‘know’ we are all humans living life as best we can, sometimes with more grace than other times? What happens is that we feel peace arise.
So take a simple first step toward creating more peace in your personal world; let go of the need to be right, let go of the need to ‘see’ justice prevail and move into forgiveness as quickly as you possibly can. Giving people the benefit of the doubt allows you to release any resentment, release your need to defend and recognize that ‘it’s not about you.’ People project their pain, anger, fear and doubt but there is no rule that says we have to respond negatively. In fact, fighting negativity with more negativity has never proven to work out well. Begin today to honor peace and choose it as your new year's state of being. Decide that nothing is ever important enough to sacrifice your serenity...nothing. Then remember that nothing is really personal anyway, that everyone is just working out their own stuff...it’s not your stuff! Bearing all these things in mind will soothe you tremendously and it will allow you to remain peaceful even under the toughest of circumstances. Then as your peace becomes rock solid, it flows out into your family, community and beyond. Peace is contagious, people feel the peace within certain people and are drawn like a moth to the flame. Watch peace transform your personal world. As we each create this for ourselves these worlds will begin to intermingle and before we know it life will have gotten very sweet indeed. Happy mind, body, spirit fitness to all.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
As children we had access to endless worlds and experiences via our imaginations. I can clearly remember spending untold hours playing with my imaginary friends, fully engaged in their lives, completely immersed in all the details of those magical places and beings. The majority of us lived in homes where that was acceptable for children but that was where it ended. Slowly, we were conditioned away from that activity, told that as young ladies and gentlemen there are much more important matters to attend to. With the holidays so close at hand, it's a perfect time of the year to reacquaint ourselves with visioning, imagining and dreaming of all the many possibilities there truly are. A very wise author and speaker, Mike Dooley, was quoted saying, "If knowledge is power than imagination is Kryptonite” and I couldn't agree more.
Our creator knew exactly what It was doing by gifting us with vivid imaginations. Without that innate capacity we would not see anything in our lives evolving. The prerequisite to advancement on any level is the ability to see ‘it’ in our mind's eye, thereby becoming inspired, driven to bring it to fruition. This by no means child’s play; quite the contrary in fact. If our world has you taking life too seriously, it may be high time that you begin spending a few minutes dreaming each day.
First of all, it will help to alleviate some of the stress we all carry. The adverse physical, emotional and mental effects that stress has on us is well-documented. Although we all have stress in our lives and a certain amount is necessary, most of us run on nerves and adrenaline far, far too much. It will, in time, cause many bodily functions to become compromised and finally diseased. Not to mention the loss of sleep that stress causes, which in and of itself has insidious, far-reaching detrimental effects on every aspect of our lives and our being. Secondly, it will allow you time to bask in positive feelings. The emotional environment which we maintain within our hearts and minds makes all the difference in the world. People with a ‘glass is half full’ approach to life live longer, healthier and happier lives by far. And thirdly, it will help you begin to shift your belief systems in the direction of divine magic, opening your life to receive new inspiration to flow in and through it. Believing is something comes through repetition and repetition requires thinking a thought over and over and over again. Our brains buy into those things we contemplate persistently until finally the evidence shows up in our lives and we proclaim, “See, I told you it was true!” The Universe can only create in accordance to your expectations and expectation is the direct result of held belief. If what is wanted in your life is opposed by an old false belief, it will serve you greatly to install a new belief. New beliefs create new results so if you are dissatisfied with the results you have been getting I recommend tapping into your imagination 5-10 minutes every day.
Sit quietly in a comfortable position and take several long, thorough, full breaths. Begin to imagine whatever you desire in your mind's eye. Start with something small and once you have perfected the installation process, you can go on to work on larger, more challenging desires. As you visualize, see ‘it’ with as much detail as you can and smile because of course, it would make you happy. Turn up the brightness and contrast just as you would adjust your television picture. Make the colors brilliant and now broaden the circumference to take in even more detail...smile some more. If there is any sound that would naturally accompany this desire, hear it and increase the volume on it until it is almost palpable. Keep smiling and add in your absolute favorite aroma. Make it as potent as you would enjoy it being. If possible imagine your desire having a flavor...anything that you genuinely love the taste of. Smile as broadly as you can now as you bask in the beauty of your creation. FEEL how delicious it feels to have actualized this desire and amplify that wondrous feeling allowing it to fill your entire being. Savor it, swim in it and enjoy how it feels to have ‘it’ in your life as a reality. Stay with it as long as you wish and then simply breathe your way back to awareness.
This is a very effective tool for installing a new belief into your subconscious and through consistent repetition you will soon see glimpses of our desire showing up in your daily life. This is the evidence of the success you are having installing your new belief. Use this tool in good health and may it bring you to greater and greater levels of happiness and joy. Blessings throughout the coming Holiday Season and on onto the New Year. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Thursday, April 07, 2011
As much as I love spring, summer and fall, this time of year truly fills me with gratitude. Regardless of the difficulties this year may or may not have presented, I can’t help but look around and feel tremendous appreciation. It’s so important to recognize the people and things that really matter in our lives, things that no amount of money, power and prestige can ever buy. For me, this what this season is all about, counting our many blessings.
For starters, THE MOST priceless gift of all is...our health. Without good health we are truly disadvantaged. Absolutely everything depends on our bodies, minds and spirits staying in balance, nurtured and harmonious. I thank God every day for the health and well-being of my family, friends and myself. No matter what degree of health you are presently experiencing, you can feel gratitude that it is not worse than what it is. As is often said, “If everyone were to hang out their dirty laundry, most people would be very happy to take their own back.” We must be appreciative for what we have, look at the glass as half full and know that there is always room for improvement. Things usually turn out much better then we had thought they would.
Loving friends and family come in as a close second on my list. I have been so blessed to be continuously surrounded by loving, kind and thoughtful people. I’m told, “You get what you give ” and I truly believe that. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t people in my life that I find challenging, some of which are family. What I have come to know is that those people are my greatest teachers. Without any doubt, they are my mirrors for seeing exactly what it is in ME that I have not yet come to terms with. This can be difficult to accept. However, after releasing my resistance around seeing this, I have had many ‘aahhha’ moments as a result. Today I give thanks for these 'less than easy to be with' people, for they have the potential of bringing me to levels of acceptance and awareness I not yet reached.
The third thing, that is actually all-encompassing and cannot, by rights, be less than #1 is my relationship with my Creator. The life I have been given, the free will, the heart to feel the joys and sorrows, the mind to coordinate all my thoughts, bodily systems, and a consciousness to expand and grow into...how incredible IS that? We have all been gifted beyond measure with a miraculous opportunity to live, thrive and be the best we came to be. This blessing alone is reason enough to smile through the toughest of times. They all end up having silver linings and gifts of their own. The darkest nights give way to spectacular sunrises...every time.
Innately woven into this time of year is a kind of ‘slowing down’ process. Everything in nature is pulling its energies in and down, preparing for rest, rejuvenation and rebirth. The hectic pace of running from the crack of dawn until late into the long evening has ended. No more playing catch-up all week because of hurried pack ups on Friday afternoon, followed by a rush to get to a lake or beach for the weekend. Days are shorter, cooler and conducive to snuggling in at home by the fire. This is the Universe’s way of reminding us that we too need some ‘down’ time, introspective and regenerating space. Personally, I’m grateful for the break. It blesses me with the time to reflect and enjoy all the many gifts in my life. As the holidays approach, take time to savor those people and things that are precious and dear. Remember how blessed you are, moment to moment, to live where you have choice, freedom and where grace abounds. We are certain of only three things, our birth, our death and continuous change in between those two points. Welcome the change, keep an open heart and count your blessings at least once a day. Happy Thanksgiving and happy mind, body and spirit fitness to you and yours.