Monday, March 8, 2010

The Inner Struggle for Victory

Looking back with complete honesty, you eventually see it. It is a distinct pattern. A distinct AND  repetitive pattern of behavior that continually brings you back to the same place. We ALL have them. They can be diet patterns, exercise patterns, work patterns.... simply put the way we continually do things, resulting in either the desired, or not desired, result. They are mostly "automated" responses to how we deal with various situations, tasks, or events.
It is truly amazing what the human mind is capable of. It controls all of the necessary functions to keep you alive, it controls voluntary, and involuntary systems, all rather seamlessly. Sitting there where you are you are not focusing on breathing, blood circulation, digestion, muscle position, or anything. Your mind is reading this article, and every thing else is doing what it does. It is a pattern. Our nervous system handles all of these rather "simple" tasks for us all the time. The brain develops patterns to help create efficiency.
Many things we do in our day to day lives involve this "patterning." Literally. Think about this, from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep, your nervous system has created many patterns to create relative ease into your days. Many of our seamless choices are built upon patterns. We either learn many of them in our "formative years."Others are developed by new habits, postures (being habitual), goals (actions), and emotions, which we hold onto to form deep patterns of choices.
Now often these little motor programs are our friends, but not always. For example a child that has been attending ballet, or soccer, classes that is encouraged to move and enjoy movement versus a child that is belittled in class. What type of deep "patterning" can result? One child may grow up very confident,  loves to move and is very expressive. The other may become quite introverted, and not in the least bit interested in exploring their physical being. A "program" has been established. A deep dislike, or like, for a particular type of experience that is held onto- even when the person becomes an adult. This same patterning, right or wrong, is held onto in our very fabric.  Our fears are based on the same kind of patterning. I for example, almost drowned when I was very young. I am still to this day very intimidated by water over my head. It is no longer founded on something tangeable in the now, but the fear still lives.
So then, how many fear based programs are we running? And how can they be interfering with our ability to have better relationships? to loose weight? to "swim" in the big pool of life, and life's successes, and challenges? Most changes that are required in life require a solid inventory of these patterns of fear. A self assessment. A very "real" and "clear" picture of what is really holding you back.
 I attended a mentorship once, and this was the focal point. This ONE thing. Facing up to these patterns of fear, and finding new solutions.  As it has been said time and time again, the "definition" of insanity is doing the same thing over, and over, and expecting different results. This is true of your diet goals, and any other goals. We all try those "cookie cutter programs". They don't work. They do not require true, deep down change. They are not personal, so why would the change/s be personal and long lasting?  This is the essential element-Assessment.  And then the desire for that down, deep and "dirty" change. I will bet you anything- your diet problem is not the fundamental problem of your "diet" program. It is the patterns you have formed from birth, with habits and emotions that have encouraged the pattern. Assessing YOU becomes very uncomfortable.  However no true change is going to transpire without self assessment. This is the beginning of changing patterns. You cannot change something you do not acknowledge.
Successful people are continually doing self- assessment. They have a standard that they hold themselves against, much like the ten commandments. These are their measure of excellence. They realize, of course, that complete excellence is only in the standard. Therefore, they are continually looking for ways to break out of  patterns, step out of the mold of "common" and run the race of endurance. They enjoy the journey of true development. Fear and pride, set aside. Only through true humility do you break the pattern. As they say, dig deep- the solution is in there.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Life of Example

My grandma died the other night. (And, no I am not seeking your sympathy.) Then, you might wonder, why are you sharing this with us?  This led me to reflect upon something we all must face... death. No matter how "healthy" and health conscious, no matter  the time and effort spent upon "living" and "living well"- we all die. And no, these hours spent enjoying health, good movement, and defining it  within each of our own paths is not spent in vain. In fact, these are the moments we should savor, enjoy, and share. However, try as we might we do not out run the odds. The odds are the absolute facts of this life.
Somehow, life and death are the very essence of our existence. How we live, and how we die  somehow sum up our existence. For example, my grandma lived a very quiet, Christian life- very obedient to the Lord and His good and perfect will in her life. Her life reflected these principles in all she did. She was well rounded in word and deed.
She was always physically active,  long before it became "an issue, popular, or something to "study". I guess she coined the phrase "just do it, " long before Nike. She would carry her groceries for blocks, scrub floors on her hands and knees, wash walls from top to bottom (see if anyone does that anymore!!?) She was a very vigorous woman- always doing something. No "idle time," as she liked to put it.
She was always mindful of her body and health. She realized that her body was a gift. The very temple of the One that she loved. Therefore, she did not drink (As it says clearly, "be ye sober minded.") She did not participate in jealous behavior, always content with the "fruits of her labor." Long before "stress" became a household word, she had the Answer deep in her heart... she slept peacefully at night. Not  once did I ever see her  worrying about tomorrow- she was very secure in her tomorrow's.  She would calmly say that worry would not add a day to your life. This from a  woman who survived the great depression and brought up a very large family during those hard times. She experienced an age when you scrubbed your cloths by hand on a board, and hung them. There were no machines. No soft life for my grandma. Real work, real life. Integrity and honesty were the road of life. She lived by perfect faith. She did not succumb to stress related illnesses, she fell asleep peacefully, as she lived. She was pleased with the simple things. Simple, whole foods -before they became popular. Easy, whole body exercise- before it became "functional."  She lived to see past 100 year of this planet, and all it's changes.
Needless to say she left behind a legacy.   Isn't that a deep desire of every last one of us-to leave legacy? We all leave some sort of legacy. Some feel it is important to leave behind money and temporal gifts for our beloved. Somehow, in this struggling world, wouldn't it be more prudent to leave behind something more enduring, though? Maybe  leave behind an essence of "goodness,"  and what that really means for a struggling world? Something that transcends our selves, our families, maybe our planet?
 So I thought I would  share her legacy with you.  How this one woman impacted my life, and how I am still trying to fit her shoes. She was still a woman, but her walk was pretty terrific!  She impressed upon my mind at a very early age principles that I cannot purchase for any amount of money- anywhere. They are seeds planted in the heart. Not forced, but lovingly planted, and left in trust to grow. This was her legacy to me.
 There are things more precious than gold, that are eternal values.  What my grandmother lacked in worldly goods, she more than made up for in integrity, humility of spirit, truth in word and deed, and a reflection of unselfish love for others. She was always there, especially in times of trouble. She was an amazing presence. She was always able to confront adversity, even in the worst of times. And, she would be so amazingly "still" in the midst of these storms of life. I am still ever in awe of this virtue.  I believe, this is the true key to longevity. A stillness, and a faith so strong that nothing can rock your world.
It is said that the beginning of "wisdom is the fear of the Lord".  With this being said, my grandmother lived a life of true wisdom, and for this she led a very long life. She was one of His true soldiers in a very unstable world. She knew where she stood.
 I recently had an e-mail correspondence with a very well known athletic trainer in Florida. We were discussing "the Good Fight." We were remarking on how rare it is to see anyone strong enough to live this with truw spirit and integrity. The purity of heart- real motives and values. It reminded me of the  Sermon on the Mount. The many blessings of being true- being part of the "good fight". These blessings may not be apparent to many. You cannot touch them, or hold them in your hands. You would have to strive to overcome many natural urges of self to really understand the "good fight." This is how you come to  "see" these blessing. I thank God my grandmother understood this fight, and it's blessings, and had the strength of purpose to share them with everyone she met. For this is I know my grandmother has a very bright future. She will be one of the elect that will in fact meet her true Love in the clouds when He returns for what/who is His! She will live happily ever after.  Until then, may my grandmother rest in peace. Why do I say this? Because, as she said so often, "because the Bible told me so!!"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Potter's Wheel, A Slow Work in Progress.

Patience. A single word that can amount to so much. It is the difference between making it, or not making it in many aspects of our human existence. Patience is the evidence of faith, and faith is the evidence of confidence in something larger. Confidence in your abilities, your strengths, and even your weaknesses. Confidence in becoming "all you where created to be." Confidence in small changes that must take place to achieve a greater reality. It is a slow work in progress. That "extra effort" it takes to makes the outcome more valuable. Patience breeds excellence. It requires the fine art of human discipline. Letting go of the immediate gratification process, and embracing "the actual process."

"Mastery"... It just doesn't "happen."It requires skill, time, timing, patience, fortitude, discipline and sacrifice.

I know in my daily experience, sometimes I get ahead of myself. I forget that each day is a step in a process to achieve my goals. I get trapped in staring "way down the road,"or so it seems. Not fully appreciating the "now." Big mistake! By focussing so far down the road, am I truly doing my best for "NOW?" Probably not. I'm losing some of life's precious moments living ahead of myself- wanting tomorrow, today!! Much like a little kid in a candy store, looking for something more, when I already have all I need....?

It seems we are so used to immediate results, it is hard to commit to anything that requires true fortitude.
So, without throwing away the dreams, and ideals, let's focus on a day at a time. Sometimes even a second at a time. Small steps, big picture.

I like to do this with my clients. Looking at he big picture, what does it take? For example, the goal is weight loss. Let's specify the amount of weight and the time frame.  Is it reasonable and healthy goal? Are there ways we can quantify our results on the way to our goals? We can do body fat testing, weighing and measuring.  What does it take to achieve the goal?  A step by step approach to fitness and nutritional milestones that will eventually achieve the necessary calories deficit to achieve a healthy, but enjoyable journey to the "big picture."What obstacles can you anticipate?" ( Examples of these would be life's many happenings such as dinner out, parties, emotional events, menu planning for the family and even work schedules.) What can you do about the obstacles, now that you can identify them?This requires diligence on your behalf to realize this work based on your choices. You choose what you do, You can plan your "choices" ahead of time so that you are prepared with how to handles life's little whammies, and yes, they will happen! Strategies are everything.

Every bit as important as having a strategy, is reviewing the strategy. Perfecting it. Taking out the small things that can "blindside" your efforts, frustrating your efforts.   I like to review the week with my clients, and their victories and their downfalls.  Examining different choices. Did you achieve your weekly goals? How did you overcome difficulties? How can we improve in the next week? Small steps. Yes, the big picture is great, but let us enjoy and celebrate the small victories along the way!! These pebbles are what are lives are composed of. Breathing in and out, each breath is a victory. We are alive and capable of our destinies. We are all given gifts. We can nurture these gifts, fine tune them into a "big picture" victory. This requires diligence, faith and patience. Sometimes it is just sitting still. Waiting. Sometimes it requires purposeful action. But it will require a bit of both to become that final work of art. It takes a lifetime to get there. Day by day. We are all a work in progress.
It is your choice if you desire to be a rare gift, or just another ordinary vessel on the shelf of life.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Do What You Love... And Love What You Do!! 2010

Often I look around and wonder how many out there truly "love what they do." The very rhyme and reason for our very existence should be to be in harmony with our goals/purpose and our gifts, or abilities. If you are not living in harmony with your dreams and abilities, what is stopping you?
I used to live out of sync. I was constantly seeking something I was never able to find. I thought love, romantic love, was the answer. Relationships took priority in my life.  Perpetually seeking some one else to "complete me."The relationships, however, could  never live up to my expectations. Disappointment was a constant companion. No one, it seemed, could give me the "right" type of attention, or amount of attention. They all lacked understanding... In retrospect, I lacked understanding, also.
Somehow, I feel, many are living under the burden of disappointment. This disappointment is like a dark cloud that shrouds everything. It becomes a dark cycle that is hard to shake off. Much of this we learn from a very young age. It is part of our fiber, our very tissue. From the second we are born we start to store experiences and they become part of our make-up. We can either learn to stay under that shroud, or we can learn from the experiences, and move ahead- making better choices. We need to learn to recreate our selves by making informed choices from the experiences we already carry. We have habitual habit patterns ingrained in us that we need to unlearn.
So how do you unlearn habits?? Well, naturally, you need to "see" them first. You can't unlearn something you don't know about, or feel no need to unlearn. This is self discovery. You need to allow yourself the freedom to examine your inner world. We have a hard time sometimes examining things internally. Examining fears.... we all have them. Usually a fear stems from something that happened a long time ago, something traumatic that you do not want to re-experience. These fears are "stored" in your very tissue. They are destructive, and if not purged prevent you from experiencing your full potential. Most of us know the things we need to do, we just don't do them. Fear is a big barrier. We have to allow ourselves to release these fears. True success is only achieved by truly trying new things that are out of your usual realm of experiences. Doing the same thing again and again, expecting different results is not only crazy, but a self -fulfilling prophecy of failure. It is time to let go!!
In time we don't even recognize the destructiveness of our behavior. We do not like to have them brought to light, though. Let's go back to my example, myself. The relationship problem stemmed from childhood, as they often do. I was an awkward child. Often I felt in  the way and uncomfortable. I carried this with me into adulthood, but found drinking made me more social. It seemed I had a solution, and others were doing it, too. This is a destructive pattern covering up another destructive pattern. Other patterns soon followed. This was, as you can see fear based from childhood. And fear is not a productive mechanism, unless it is a self protection mode, as in a life or death situation.
This negative solution had many destructive consequences, which I would have immediately denied if confronted with them. It was my solution, period. Eventually I did see the bigger picture. Things never seemed to work out for me. I still fight with aspects of this to this day. But it is getting better. Realizing the fear factor, and releasing it is the starting point. Finding a new direction, with new solutions is the answer. We were created to bear light and to have hope and purpose. We were not created to live in fear, and to quit- living hopelessly.
Hopelessness breeds complete systemic distress. Our physical bodies respond to our mindsets. I have yet to see a person who is perfectly healthy, who is completely disappointed with their very existence. You can even see it in their posture, they have "holding patterns," displaying discomfort with the environment around them. If this pattern becomes prevalent enough, it will compromise basic movement skills. It also gives rise to common musculoskeletal problems.  They then become more awkward, fulfilling the very fear that set them apart in the first place. The cycle continues. Not only do our muscles react to this state, so do our internal organs. Stomach problems, headaches, inflammation, diseases (too many to mention), and disabilities give rise from this chronic state of discontent and fear and hopelessness.
Really, as it has been so eloquently stated before, "there is nothing to fear, but fear itself." The opposite of fear is love, charity and expression. These let go of the guarding, and start to create changes necessary for true change. This is what will make the difference in how successful you will be in your diet, business, or whatever it is you choose to accomplish in this life. Open up and take a chance.  It is time to let the barriers down and do what you love and love what you do!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

10 for 10! Transform, New Start NOW!!

Nothing like a new year to gain a new perspective, and a fresh start! It is a great time to put your dreams to paper, make a plan, and set it into action. Without a good plan, there is very little achieved. I too am planning a new start with the Newstart program that I wrote about last year.
Just for a refresher the program was; N (nutrition), E (exercise), W (water), S (sunshine), T (temperance), A (attitude), R(rest), and T (trust in God.)These articles are all on the website if you would like to review them. This year I thought we would try to put these into action!
Let's first discuss some of the tips, then we will see how they can be placed into an action plan.
TIP #1
One of the most overlooked things it seems is an adequate consumption of water. Cold water is actually the best, it absorbs more quickly. Water is critical for EVERY function in your body. If you are exercising water can make or break your workout. It is important to consume water prior to your workout, during your workout, and within 30 minutes after your workout out.
Studies have shown that an inadequate amount of water can hinder your workout, and eave you literally without steam. So drink up!!
Lifting weights is a great way to crank up your metabolism. Studies have shown that lifting heavier is better. For example lifting 20 pound weights, instead of 10 pound weights, for the exactly the same volume, the 20 pound weights creates a larger metabolic increase. There is a greater amount of protein broken down, requiring more energy to repair and recover.
Another benefit of the heavier lifting was/is an increase in your sleeping metabolic rate by nearly 8%- almost 5 extra pounds per year!
Use your whole body. Why walk and not involve your arm? Why do a bicep curl and not move your legs? Whole body movements burn more calories, and cut workout time in half.
Circuit training ( a series of exercises back to back with little or no rest) can increase your heart rate and elevate your calorie expenditure by twice the amount, and create a greater post workout recovery demand. Cutting back on the breaks also can be a huge time saver.
Use commercial time while watching your favorite television shows for exercise breaks. There are approximately 28 minutes worth of commercials in an hour long show. Try not to elevate your heart rate too much late at night, though. This can impair your recovery.
Research shows that interval training, or sudden burst training improves the bodies ability to produce fat burning enzymes. This involves exercises that challenges you. During these intervals/sudden bursts (running, circuit training, kettlebells, spinning/cycling, jumping rope...) you will not be able to talk, you will be breathless! All of your focus should be on the activity you are participating in.
Use an exercise journal, as well as a food journal, to keep yourself on track. Journaling is a great way to measure improvements, as well as recognize patterns (good and not so good.) This is a great way to "see" you progress, and to modify your workouts. For example, if I am training to run a marathon, I would log my mileage, time spent running, type of program I did that day (intervals, long run, hills...) Exercise journals can also help keep you motivated. A combination journal is a great tool to keep your calorie consumption and expenditure balanced. A good one will also prompt you to review your goals and create weekly goals to keep you on track.
Make sure you always warm up for five to fifteen minutes, this depends on the length of your workout. Make sure it "mimmicks the activities you will be doing. All workouts should include a proper cool-down period also, involving stretching and mind-body activities. Other components that should be included would be movement skills and drills, balance and "core" exercises. Core exercises should not be compressive on the lumbar spine (ie- sit ups, V-sits). Once again, whole body exercises are encouraged.
Eat a snack of quality carbohydrate and a small amount of protein within 30 minutes of your workout. Plan your snack. This will help your body recover from the activity. And, of course, don't forget the water. Naturally, the size of the snack should also match the effort put forth in the work out.
Partners are a great way to stay motivated. Get a partner with similar abilities and goals. Get someone you can spark some fun motivational competition with!! Competition is a great way to keep you on track when you feel like you are falling off your mark. Healthy, fun competition that is!
So you might be wondering how I am going to put this ALL together....?
Starting now I am looking for six people to enter into my six week NEWSTART NOW!! CONTEST. That is right- CASH!! Six weeks can start the changes necessary for you to begin a new life, new perspective and gain your life back. We will use all of components describes above. We will discuss water, and other fuels for a healthy life, and lifestyle. We will take outdoor walks, and learn to hike, learn to eat, learn to communicate, learn to love ourselves a little better. We will learn the right exercises for our bodies. ALL contestants will receive a complete assessment, and home exercise program for their particular strengths and weaknesses. This will be a nice mind-body program with a home therapy kit to help you along. All contestants will have nutritional consultations (2) Plus, fun, interactive group session on meal planning and recipe ideas. (Yes, there will be food!) There will be cash prizes for different categories to keep the competition fun. There is also a GRAND PRIZE for, you guessed it the Island's Biggest "Miss-Fit" (Male or Female.) There are rules, of course. Call for details!!
Don't miss this one!!!! It's time Avalon.... Lets get healthy together!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the best gifts are free!!

the best gifts are free,
are rarely ever found underneath the Christmas tree.
the gift of love,
particularly the love from heaven above,
this is the gift we need to enjoy more of.

instead of cookies, and candies, and cakes,
let's give thanks for all the wonders He makes,
the oceans and skies,
things that give us natural highs...
far from things that money buys.

the love in our hearts,
and the warmth it imparts,
one genuine smile,
goes for mile upon mile-
never going out of style.

an innocent hug and a kiss,
should make any gift list,
Never expecting a thing.
No sadness this brings,
the heart freely sings.
and all heaven rings....

no wrappers are needed,
no boxes and glitz,
a free loving heart,
from the end of year to the start.

a genuine love for each other-
this is what we need to discover
under our trees,
and upon our knees.
the best gifts are always free!!

as we celebrate our Lord's birth,
the God of heaven and earth,
ask yourself what this is worth...
his love for you,
tried and true,
through and through.

this season let's love
by being gentle as a dove,
not bickering,
backbiting and snickering.
no package can be,
anywhere worthy,
of the true love we have from above...

Season's greetings.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Sometimes life can seem so perfect. For example, being warm and safe listening to the rain tapping gently on the roof. The air full of the spicy, simplicity of pumpkin oatmeal loaf, ( low fat, all natural... of course.) my puppy rolled up next to me, my classes this morning vibrant and alive.... what more could I ask for? Simple and delicious... If only moments like this lasted for more than just a moment! (Then again, why can't all moments be appreciated for the fullness of what they are. Even the moments that are a little less warm and toasty, do have a purpose.... if you let them.)
Feeling warm and toasty, I plunked down in front of my computer, time to check out my e-mail. A newsletter from a well respected trainer in the industry was lurking in my mail. I boldly opened the letter, knowing it would probably trigger a surge of memories. Low and behold, I was not disappointed.
Only one short year ago, I had the pleasure of attending a 3-day mentorship at Todd Durkin's studio, Fitness Quest 10, in San Diego, California. It was a crazy experience for me. The thrill of visiting "a real trainers' studio," to hear and see see all that goes into a world class facility.
Wow!! You see, Todd is not your "average trainer, " he trains clients from the "average Joe's" to the Drew Brees catagory. He has been named trainer of the year on several occasions by more than one professional organization, published in health magazine, part of the Under Armor new "Prototype of Training" (and, yes, I wear it- with purpose.). He is a trainers' trainer. (I have been blessed to touch base with more than one trainer of outstanding ability.)
What a great experience and opportunity to learn from one of the best... and to top it off -I was sicker than I'd been in years! Humbling, to say the least. Naturally, I wanted to be "part of the group," but definetely felt "out of the loop. I felt so "out of the loop" that I am sure I was even visibly shaking!! Right about then, I decided to get as much as I could out of this experience as humanly possible. I brought back much from this very memorable opportunity, on many levels. Goals and business being one aspect, group and personal training ideas, yet another, but probably a much deeper sense of self. Self and those terrible fears that are ingrained in all of us, it seems, fears that predetermine failure. Paralyzing fears that stop us from being all we can be. What we are predisposed to be. It was a investigation of the spirit within. I continue to this day to challenge that faithless spirit. Without faith, commitment and direction you are destined to travel the road of discontent for a very long time.
The email was a jolt to the senses. It was entitled, "Make your Dream Come True." I opened it to find the same positive, goal driven Todd that I has met a year ago. A real re-awakening of the experience only a year behind me. I thought it would be good to share with you some of the key thoughts from the newsletter, particularly as we approach the end of another year.
I hope you get out a piece of paper, I did. As he explains, in order to make your dreams come true, you need order, a plan, something tangeable you can see, feel, real, touch.... something in your face. People who achieve their goals have clear mental pictures of exactly what it is they are striving for. Write down the following questions, leave room to expand on your answers.
1) Where you in your life right now? Think personal, business/work, home life and spiritually. Reflect on each aspect individually. Where do you excel? Where are you lack?
2) Are you truly content with YOU? Once again think of each aspect of what makes you you.
3)Are you achieving your goals, dreams, visions in these aspects of your life?
4)Do you live in a state of harmony where your values, talents and skills are aligned in your daily experiences? ( This is my favorite question, really focus on each aspect.)
5) What is preventing you from living in a state of harmony? Do you love life, or fear life?
In order to experience our personal best in this life, it is good to have an action plan.
Now that you can see some things emerging on paper, what are you going to do to make the changes to create more harmony, more alignment?
Continue to write, over the next few weeks, an actual plan for change. See it, taste it, pray it, believe it. Make a general plan for the next 3-5 years. The "Big Picture," and break that into smaller pieces, such as one year from right now. From that what can you do in the next 90 days that can produce momentum towards those dreams? It is your momentum that creates change. Keep reproducing that energy, drive and commitment every 90 days. Soon that three year dream will be here. Faith, integrity and perseverance.
Happy New Year to you... and all you can be!! Live and exude an attitude of gratitude, you will be amazed how much easier things are when you live realizing the blessings we enjoy- on a daily basis. Live in the now... plan for the future.

Thanks for the email, Todd! God bless you!