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Thursday, August 25, 2011

8/5 - 8/14 Days 217 - 226 8/15 - 8/24 Days 227 - 236

I swear the second half of the year is moving at a much much faster pace than the first half!  Is anyone else feeling the same way?  This blog is the first one I have got finished in sub 10 days in a long time.  My goal for the next one is to get it under a week....

Don't forget to post your book summaries for the book of the month club.  I have been enjoying reading the ones that are already up there.  I need to get mine up asap before I forget what I want to summarize :)  You can post your book summaries here: Book of the Month Club

This last week has been one of the most profound of my life... not because anything extra extraordinary happened or I won the lotto or anything like that.  No, it was something more, a shift has occured inside of me and I am not sure how to explain it, but I will do my best in the lines that follow:

I shared with all of you my personal struggles of the last several months.  The emotional ones: anniversary of my friends suicide, fathers day, negative feelings about myself; the mental ones: being unmotivated, not being able to concentrate, and the physical ones: hernia surgery, hair surgery, which lead to nearly 3 months of being sedentary that I allowed to really pull me down.  The results - I found myself out of shape, living in a body that was unfamiliar to me, one that I did not even recognize when I looked in the mirror.   Challenging times...

Thankfully for me life had a grander lesson amidst all the above, one that I have learned before, one that I have shared with all of you, one that it never hurts to have a little reminder about.  From our greatest challenges come our greatest opportunities to learn.  And of course, we cannot appreciate the beautiful vistas from the tops of the mountains unless we spend a little time in the valleys below.  It's hard to remember the view when you feel "stuck" in the valley.  When you feel "stuck" you have a couple choices: either stay stuck and wallow in the valley you are stuck in, OR pick yourself up and start climbing towards the top of the mountain.  Easier said than done, right?

Picking yourself up is the hardest part.  You see as much as we can say we dislike feeling down, sad, depressed, shitty, upset, angry etc...  We complain about being unhappy in the valley, but resist taking those first challenging steps up the mountain - why?

It is a comfort thing.  We as human beings love to resist change even if that change will be a positive one.  We may say we are unhappy with a situation, but we resist changing it and will make up every excuse imaginable to support the situation we are.  Lets use me as an example:

Two surgeries left me limited in what I could do physically for almost three months.  I am a moving person, I do not sit well, and now I had to sit to recover.  My biggest fear was getting fat, losing muscle, going soft, falling out of shape, losing everything I had created myself over the last 10 years of exercising.  These fears while a little over the top (I certainly was not going to lose EVERYTHING), were natural to have, however the actions I chose to take on my part to support the fears were not.

I chose to eat every single piece of junk food imaginable.  I choose to spend every day worrying about how the inactivity was going to change me.  I choose to whine, complain, bitch, moan, etc... about the circumstances.  And guess what I got: in return... exactly what I thought about non stop, exactly what I feared.  I gained weight, lost muscle, got softer, felt lethargic, had less energy, and the list could go on and on...

Our thoughts have an amazing power and influence over our reality.  They are and always will be the foundation of the reality in which we exist in in our day to day lives.  You think negative thoughts like I am not good enough, if only I had this, I am fat etc... guess what, you are going to get negative results.  Are you surprised, need to be further convinced?  Don't think about the Big Pink Elephant standing on a Beach Ball!  Hmmm... what just popped into your head????

Now back to the shift.

Each day since being able to go back to exercising I have been feeling stronger, more confident, more myself, more ALIVE.  It has been amazing to see how just the re-introduction of exercise can make such a tremendous difference in how I feel.  I love it!  However, as I was driving down to Palm Springs it was the opposite.  I was filled with fear.  "Can I do this?" "I am not 100% yet" "How will my body respond to the heat?"  and so on and so fourth. 

Then something magical happened, I looked up and saw the big tall mountains looming majestically over me and I felt goosebumps spread through my body.  My heart rate quickened, my mind went quiet, and one of the most genuine smiles I have ever smiled in my life swept over my face.  I can do this."  "My body is strong!"  "I love the heat!"  "I am in the Valley right now, and it is to climb out of it; THIS IS MY MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB!"  I was so pumped, I could not wait to get up there...

Headphones were in, gear was secured, smile was in place, beauty was everywhere; I was ready to start.  As I took my first few steps of the 8-9 mile round trip journey I kept getting that same goosebumps sensation that I had earlier in the car.  The further I went the stronger I got.  The more I changed my environment, not just the environment around me, but me physically, the more the energy inside me increased and the voices inside my head diminished.  As I went higher I felt like I was going faster and not slowing down from the increase in altitude.  It was an amazing feeling.

I hiked around for over five hours that day and what was more amazing than the natural beauty that I got to spend the day in was the inner peace I found within myself.  I spent almost an entire day being completely present to what was going on within me.  My mind remained quiet.  Those pesky thoughts of bills to pay, deadlines to meet, chores to be done, drama to be dealt with, that plague all our minds rarely entered into my mind the entire afternoon.  I have only experienced this a few times in my life... during the big moments; the skydives, the first kisses etc...

That's when I realized a shift had occurred.  Suddenly I had replicated the same feelings I feel in the "big moments" of life within the little ones!  The little moments had the same feelings as the big ones.  EVERY MOMENT HAD BECOME A BIG MOMENT!  I WAS EXISTING IN THE WORLD THE WAY I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO!!!!!!!!

When I started this year my personal goal for myself in doing the 1000 Challenge was to focus on living for all the thousands of little moments, to learn how to get out of my head, to focus on living my life the way I want to.  And while I am still not 100% of the way there, I got a taste of it, I know it is possible.  Thoughts, ideas, philosophies I have believed in for a long time suddenly came to fruition that magical afternoon.  It leaves me re-invigorated with the knowledge of what is possible for us all.  To exist in each and every moment of life with a quiet mind and an open heart.

Just re-reading that last line gives me goosebumps... what's possible in life is not just wishful thinking everyone, it is a reality if you/we/all of us choose to make it so!

Enjoy the pics,

Be sure to check out the hike video at the link below the pictures

Carpe Diem,


Mt. Jacinto Hike

Sunday, August 14, 2011

8/5 - 8/14 Days 217 - 226

Time is going by WAY WAY WAY WAY to fast and I am not keeping up with the blogging.  I really enjoy blogging, and it just does not seem possible that another 10 days has passed since I last blogged.  Shesssh!!

I cannot even begin to tell you all how much better I am feeling now that I am able to exercise again.  It's like I feel like me again.  I was starting to go crazy I sat more in the last 3 months than I have in probably the last 3 years.  I am not one to sit still for very long... heck I have a hard time sitting still for 3 minutes let alone 3 months.

A few house keeping things:

1st  I hope you all are enjoying your book of the month book.  I am excited to read your summaries and have enjoyed the ones I have read so far.  Remember to post your book summary here:  Book of the Month Info

2nd I have received many many emails about my little 30 Day Challenge I have undertaken to get my post surgery body, mind and heart back into shape.  I want to say how much I appreciate all the love, support and words of encouragement from all of you.  This has been very hard for me as exercise is such a huge part of my life and to not be able to partake in it at the level I am used to and want to... to say it has been challenging is an understatement.  Anyways...

Quite a few of you have mentioned wanting to do a 30 Day Challenge similar to mine, so what are you waiting for, DO IT!  I have created a new discussion topic just for all of you called Your 30 Day Challenges Your 30 Day Challenges Everyone has to have a first day so why not make today the first day!?!!?  Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today!  Get started, its your life, your health, your bodies, your minds, your hearts, put your dreams and goals as a priority!  It is scary sharing with the world what you hope to accomplish, what your goals are, but do it with confidence knowing that you have the support of the 1000 Challenge Community to help keep you accountable and cheer you on.  And if you need a little extra support you can follow along with my 30 Day Challenge here My 30 Day Challenge

A few quick notes on my 30 Day Challenge:
  • The "Bowl Mix" you see me post almost daily is a mix of: strawberries, blueberries, acai, peanut butter, protein powder, granola, and a little honey = soooo  yummy!
  • I use two protein shakes: Met-rx and Syntha 6. Depending on the activity and the time of day will determine which one I take.
  • Yes, I use supplements: I take a multi vitamin, Omega- 3's, Glucosomine and Chondroitin, Calcium, a B complex, Amino's and Glutamine.
  • I drink beer and eat "not healthy food" on a regular basis.  I do this for multiple reasons: I enjoy them, I believe that how we FEEL about what we put in our body effects ( i have a long explanation of this I use with clients, but is much to long to type here), us much more than the actual food itself.  I believe life is to short to not indulge in what you enjoy (note I said indulge and not OVER indulge).  I do not believe in diets, I believe in balance this is what I practice myself and this is what I strive to teach to all my clients who I do nutrition programs for.
In my last 3 months of sitting I have had a lot of time to think.  Since I have been inactive and feeling fat, lazy, unmotivated, unattractive etc... I have been thinking a lot about "what defines us," and more specifically, what defines me.  Exercise and my physical self is a huge part of that for many reasons.  When I put my website together several years ago I wrote an article called "What Fitness Means to Me" if you would like you can read that here: What Fitness Means to Me article .  Much of what I said in that article is still very true today. 

You see once upon a time I was a horribly shy insecure 19 year old.  And when I say shy and insecure I am talking that if a girl talked to me I would turn bright red and break out into a full sweat.  I was so socially awkward that I did not know how to meet people.  When people would come up and introduce themselves to me and shake my hand I would turn crimson from embarrassment.  And so life went... I got embarrassed if I meant someone, but if they didn't do the introduction I was alone because I lacked the courage to introduce myself.  Every time I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw which in turn made me hate myself from the inside even more.  I used to spend upwards of 30 MINUTES in the morning picking my nose because I was so insecure that the idea of someone seeing me with the tiniest fleck of booger on my nose gave me nightmares and anxiety.  This is no exaggeration I was so shy and so ashamed of myself that I just thought I was the ugliest person in the world and was willing to do whatever I could to try and hide my ugliness,  including, but not limited to extreme nose picking.  (As a side note I now only spend about 30 seconds picking my nose).  Fitness, exercise, and the dedication to myself, as you will read in the article above, changed all of this.  It gave me a foundation to stand on.  One where I could develop confidence, charisma, self esteem and most importantly, self love.

I had started writing this blog and then took a break to go hiking.  As I was walking around I was thinking about my blog topic: what defines us, me?  I was walking up the hill about a mile away from my car when a large bee started buzzing around me.  I let it be (no pun intended), but it kept coming after me and getting more and more aggressive.  I tried to ignore it, but then it started almost dive bombing me so I swatted at it trying to shew it away.  It kept coming and getting more aggressive, hitting my arm, then my body, and finally glancing my eye.  I did not want to get stung and I did not want to try and kill the bee so I decided I would just start running; no big deal, I could use the exercise right? I ran for about one minute up hill at an above average pace, (not quite a sprint, but a little faster than a jog), until  I had to stop because I was so winded. 

I wasn't just winded I was spent.  My heart was racing, I felt like I was going to throw up.  I haven't felt like that in years.  I almost broke down crying when the realization had set in that my body had de-trained so much in the last 3 months that I was now struggling to do something that once upon a time used to be the norm.  WHAT HAPPENED?

I walked for a couple of minutes trying to catch my breath when suddenly the damn bee reappeared.  Picking up where it left off it started attacking me again.  Just as aggressive as last time - this thing was not letting up.  So I ran again... for about another minute until my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my throat.  I had escaped the bee, for a few minutes.

The bee and I danced this dance for the next 10 minutes until I finally made it to the car.  During this encounter I realized something else... exercise, working out, being physically fit it gives me strength.  Not just physical strength like I can bench press 300 pounds, but an inner strength a sense of knowing that I can do virtually anything an everything I want.  Now suddenly I am unable to outrun a bee - ouch!

I have always been one to take on physical challenges head on.  Last year I remember debating with a friend of mine over my decision to climb Mt. Whitney.  To me it was already a done deal, I had not the slightest doubt that I could do it.  I knew I had a level of physical fitness where I felt I could do anything.  She believed that I needed the appropriate altitude training to make a real attempt at the summit.  She was right, acclimatization would have helped, but in the end my belief and knowing in the strength of my physical fitness level prevailed and I accomplished the 22 mile day hike in about 11 hours.

I have had similar discussions with friends over other physical challenges: 1/2 marathons and a marathon, weight I am capable of lifting, doing lunges for distance and a long period of time; each time I have been presented a challenge I would set out to conquer it.  Now, I can't outrun a bee.

You see for me being physically fit, my body looking a certain way, having a certain energy level it all defines me as a person as that is what I have worked so hard to become.  A confident, charismatic, disciplined, energized, high self esteem, full of self love, strong - not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well, person.  All of the above are facets of who I am that I have worked at for years to create.  And all of them derive directly from my dedication to exercise, to fitness, and to myself. 

What we do, how we conduct ourselves, the actions we take in our day to day life; they will ultimately define who we are.  I was so bummed because a big part of who I am was removed, thankfully temporarily, form my life.  I have not lived an un-active life for over 10 years.  It was tough going back to that.

Who we define ourselves as individuals is a personal choice.  One that we all have the power to make and become whatever we want to be.  Where so many of us fall short is the follow through on the action needed to create that which we want.  I had wanted to be "buff" all through high school, actually from the time I was about 10 years old.  However, I never was because every time I ever started working out, I would always quit.  It was "to hard" to stay dedicated to it.  I "did not have enough time."  My attitude about myself changed the day I finally decided to commit to myself, to not give up.

What do you define yourself as?  Is it who you want to be, or is it who you are settling to be?  Do you want to be more, to be greater than you already are?  Is there an action you could take, some area of your life that you are not following through on that if you did, it would take you and your life to a whole new level? 

I ask myself the above questions often.  They act as great accountability questions for me.  They help me to stay on my life purpose.  They allow me to continually to define myself in the way I have always wanted to.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,


Thursday, August 4, 2011

7/24 - 8/4 Days 205 - 216

I swore I would be more on top of blogging and yet another 10 days has passed and I am just now getting the latest blog put together ... where has the time gone?

Is it just me or does the second half of the year seem like it is moving at a much faster pace than the first half?

Monday the long awaited day finally came, I was able to resume exercising!! 

I had been able to for a little bit after my hernia surgery, but then i had a second surgery, one I have told only a couple of people about... one that is very personal to me.  I am going to share the following with you all for a couple reasons: 1 - I feel there is a life lesson somewhere in the story I am going to tell and 2 - I want to share my get back in shape/re-claim my fitness with you all in hopes that it inspires some of you to make the big exercise related changes that you have been avoiding.

So, here it goes:

After my friends suicide and my fathers sudden death and everything that happened in between those two events, I, my body shut down for a lack of a better phrase.  I did not want to deal with any more loss, I did not want to feel anymore pain and I really closed off to a lot of things in my life.  As I did, my body followed suit.  In a matter of months I saw my full, thick head of hair reduced down to rapidly thinning, rapidly fading patches.

In the last two years I have tried everything.  I have been to several different doctors, all of which assured me the hair would grow back ... that it was merely a bodily response to trauma.  I tried rogaine, propecia, three different hair supplements, coconut oil, and two other oil's that I can't remember.  I have followed dietary changes, friends suggestions and tried out supplements and treatments that strangers passed on to me.  I had tried absolutely everything save for one thing...

I ran into a friend of mine at the gym about two months ago and she told me that her husband had just had hair restoration surgery.  A surgery that is 98% effective and permanent.  Essentially what they do is they cut a section of your scalp from the back of your head (this is called the "doner tissue") and then take all the the little hairs from there and transplant it into your head at the sites where hair has been lost.  In men, we do not lose hair from the backs of our heads and so when it is transplanted our body does not differentiate hair from one part of the head to another.  It simply accepts the doner hair as the hair that has always been there thus making it permanent. 

My friend who had the surgery was ecstatic with his decision to do so.  I will borrow his words as they echo my own, "I wanted to have the choice... to have hair or not have hair." 

As much as I try to stay positive try to focus on all the haves vs the have not's in my life, the issue of the hair and the way I feel about myself is one I have struggled to master.  I wake up and look in the mirror and the first thing I notice is my thinning hair line.  I have become self conscious about getting in the water around people because when I come out it is very noticeable how much it has thinned out.  My friends constantly re-enforce to me that they can not tell, that they do not notice, but that doesn't matter it's in my head and I can tell and I notice.  I got tired of worrying about it.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get something different.  I decided to take action to make a change.

So what's the problem, or what was the problem, why was I reserved.  A few reasons:  1.) Having just recovered from hernia surgery, taking on this new procedure would mean an additional two weeks of no exercise.  Two weeks, even three months (the time between May and now) is a blink of an eye over the spectrum of my life, but right now, while I have been living it, it has seemed like an eternity.  I have felt like a prisoner, trapped on the couch waiting to heal; wanting to go out and play yet unable to because I had wounds that needed to heal.  I have watched my body and my fitness level that I have worked at building for over 10 years rapidly fade away to lethargy and flab  Eating all the junk I have been eating definitely has not helped matters at all.  2.) Money - this procedure is an expensive one to have, one that insurance does not cover and one that I could not afford as most of my savings had just gone to paying for the hernia surgery... what do I do?

It's funny as I type this I have been listening to this audio cd about becoming a millionaire the "secrets" of getting rich.  In the section I am on the author keeps emphasizing over and over the importance of saving, never going into credit card debt, and always paying with cash.  I agree, to a point ... maybe that is why I am still not a millionaire.

The thing the audio cd does not discuss is how does one begin to place a value on their happiness.  What is that worth?  $29? $150? $1 million?  This is a question that I think only each of us as individuals can decide for ourselves.  Note: I am not saying my happiness is contingent on how the hair on my head hurts, I truly believe that comes from within.  However, it is something I have been struggling with for some time and I continue to allow it to affect me, my mood, and my self perception.  I have been excessively allowing the external to effect my internal.  I do not like this. 

I feel like the label, "balding" is something used to describe someone who is getting old - I do not feel old.  I want to have the choice as to whether I have hair or not.  It is amazing how much I have allowed this to affect my self confidence, my self esteem.  I recently watched a news report on men in a similar situation as myself, all were losing their hair at varying rates and all reported similar feelings: lower self esteem, feeling self conscious, wanting to have a choice in the matter.

I debated with myself over this non stop and then I finally came to a realization: The only thing that was holding me back from the surgery was the issue of money and my feeling that I should not spend money I do not have on something like this.  Why?  If I had the money, I would not hesitate.  I would have gotten the procedure done over a year ago!  I have been stressing out over the same thing, the same dilemma for over a year?  That to me is insane.  I stated to flash back over all the times in the last year that I have allowed this to dictate how I felt about myself.  Scuba diving, swimming, surfing, paddle surfing, kyacking, running in the rain, just plain ole frolicking in the water - I have ceased so much of play time in the water because I have been so worried about my hair and the lack of money to do something about it.  Again I asked myself what do I value my happiness at?  I had a decision to make, I was either going to shave my head completely or have the surgery.  I looked at the "Costco" sized bottle of shampoo I had bought not to long ago and realized if I shaved my head that would become useless...

I grabbed a credit card and headed for the doctor.  My final resolution: I have my whole entire life to work and earn money to pay this back.  MY WHOLE LIFE.  I only get to live today, tomorrow, and the next day once, so if I can do something about it NOW, why continue to live my life in a way I do not want to?  That is insane.  I wanted, I needed change - so I changed the situation. 

Today I am two weeks removed from the hair transplant surgery and nearly two months removed from the hernia surgery.  I am so glad I had both procedures done.  I still am having some side effects from both procedures, but in time I am sure they will dissipate.  What I have gained from both procedures though is control of my life.  I have changed the things that were bringing me down.  I have made peace with the inner debate of: "What do I value my happiness at?"  Do I worry about paying the credit card bill back?  Yea, a little, no more than I worry about paying any of my bills back.  This is a fraction of a fraction of the worry I had day to day over "how much hair was I going to see fall out in the sink, in the shower today?"

So what is the life lesson in all of this?  For me there were a couple:  What is my happiness worth?  This is something I have finally made peace with :) :) :) (self high five!!).  My whole life I have stressed about spending money.  I can not tell you how freeing it was to just let that all go to make a decision that empowered me in so many different ways. 

And while the post surgery head of hair is thinner than ever right now, I am not worried about it like I used to be; still a little self conscious for the time being, but not worried - it will fill in over the next several months.  And here's the real kicker - I wake up more motivated, more determined now than I did before, why?  I have changed my situation.  Before I would wake up look in the mirror and stress about my hair.  Now I wake up look in the mirror and am excited to see new growth.  So what person is going to make more money and be able to pay his credit card bill off faster?  The person who wakes up and stresses about the way he looks and allows that to affect him throughout the day thus not giving his best?  Or person #2, the person who wakes up and is proud of the decision he has made, who leaves the house feeling strong, feeling confident and determined to go out and give his best to the world?  Hmmmmm...

Change is an amazingly powerful thing.  As much as we sometimes fear it, change really does have the power to, well, change our reality.  One of my favorite expressions is: If you do the same thing you will get the same result, if you want something different you must do something different - change it up. 

Now I tackle the last piece of the puzzle re-claim my physical fitness and the time I have lost these last 3 months.  I have created a mini diary on the 1 year 1000 challenge facebook page that you can all follow along if you like.  I will include regular pics, thoughts, feelings, as well as what I have been eating and how I have been exercising to get myself back to the level I know I can be at.  You can check that out here: Journey to reclaim my fitness journal

Thank you for letting me share my fear, my insecurity with you all ... it feels good to get everything off my chest.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,