Facing Fear With Movement

So, I’ve been listening to uninhibited women leadership online conference with Ashley Burnett this week and the topic today was about fear. I found it interesting to discuss fear and struggle to know what I am truly afraid of. I spend a lot of time working with people who are afraid, I talk about it most days for multiple hours per day, and here I am not sure how to label my own. As I thought about it, I came up with a movement flow to help you get to the essence of your fear … in case you are like me and find it’s a bit of an enigma for you, slippery, and hard to fully see. You know it’s there, but you just can’t make it out clearly.

Many are afraid of living the life they could, afraid of giving up a label like being depressed, anxious, female, male, successful, a failure – you name it people are often afraid to give up an identity, even if it’s one they don’t like. That identity has protected you in groups, helped you define who you are and who you are not, and maybe guided your path for a long time. Well, what if you could step off that path and become something else. Something more in line with who you want to be today. Would you do it? Would you be able to let go? Dive into the practices that can help you become your highest self, your personal best dream – would you do them?

climbing the stairs

It’s often difficult to really know what you are afraid to give up. The bottom line is who would you be if you weren’t afraid. This question offers you the glimpse into what you might be afraid of. Here is an exercise set to help you cut through the mental chatter and just focus on what’s holding you back. Movement always helps me see more clearly and decrease the mental chatter that clouds me.

Step One:

Complete an easy warm up or use this set in the middle of your regular workout.

Step Two:

Get a Tabata Timer – this is very helpful and there are a number of free apps that will help you do this (and other interval workouts). If you don’t want to get one a simple kitchen timer can work, your watch, or phone. You need to do 20sec exercise intervals with 10sec rest intervals – 8x.

Step Three:

Start by picking your mantra. This could be a question – what am I afraid of? What’s holding me back? etc. or a statement – Fear. Let Go. – you get the picture. Find a phrase that works for you and visualize it – maybe it’s a picture, maybe a set of words, etc. You want to truly feel it deep within you.

Step Four:

Begin a jumping squat tabata. With the help of your timer, you begin your jumping squat set for 20 sec, rest 10sec, 8x. Total of 4min. Tabata’s are hard, just know that. If you have to take a break, try to keep the movement going, even if you take out the jump or begin to alternate legs, etc. You want to be completing the full movement at the end of the set.

As you complete the tabata focus on your mantra or visualization. See what arises. There is nothing to do, nothing to fix. We just want to see what remains when it gets really hard to focus. Often this is the essence of the thing we can let go of, we fear, we want to transform. Sometimes we even transform it in the tabata. I’ve seen clients start with “I am not good enough” to yelling “I’m fuckin’ rocking it” with conviction by the end of just one 4 minute round.

Step Five:

Repeat Steps 3 & 4, this time with the thing you want to gain or embrace in your life. Again, take a few moments to breathe, see your goal clearly in your head, and find the right set of word(s) to represent what it is you really want.

Then begin another tabata – any exercise will work.

I often like to superset pushups, lunges, low rows, squats, high rows, jumping lunges/split lunge, plank hold. This order will get you a full body workout in about 40 min with 2-3 min in between each tabata for meditative work and visualization preparation. Finish with whatever core/abdominal work you are focusing on and a full body stretch. If you complete all the steps you’ll have an hour worth of movement with a meditation and self-growth focus. It’s not an easy workout, but one that will help you distill your thoughts into what you want next, see where you want to go, and help you feel confident enough in your own abilities to actually complete and live the practices you’ll need to reach your goals.

Have fun finding your FEAR!

 

*Please remember that exercise is physical and in the event you have a medical condition or other reason to be concerned about completing hard/intense exercise or movement that you check with your doctor.

 

5 Things Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do

So I was reading away and came across this gem in my inbox. These 5 behaviors are keys to living a life worth living and chock full of healthy coping when things don’t go your way. I couldn’t help but reach out to see if I could re-post them here for you. Read and Practice Away!

http://www.marcandangel.com

Marc and Angel are the authors of 1000 Little Things Happy Successful
People Do Differently. Here’s their amazing list of 5 Things Emotionally
Stable People…. If you enjoy this, be sure to visit their website for
more inspirational advice and tips for life.


 

From Marc and Angel Hack Life:

Recently I received an email (creatively) titled €œEmotionally Stable
People Don’t Do This from a reader named Karl. In it he describes
a rather chaotic emotional roller coaster that he’€™s been on for the
past few years, personally and professionally. And then he wrapped up
his email with this:

€œTruly, I love your book and blog. Both have helped me get through
some seriously tough times. But even though I’ve made progress, I
often struggle with my emotions. I persistently let every little
problem get the best of me. So I was wondering, what do emotionally
stable people NOT do? I’€™m asking because, even though I’€™ve made
progress, I know I’€™m still holding on to old habits that are holding
me back. I need some reminders of what NOT to do!

There are a million ways to answer Karl’s question (especially as it
relates to his unique life situation), but since emotional stability is
something all of us struggle with at times, I figured I’d take a stab
at answering his question in a general sense, for all of us. Here’€™s
what emotionally stable people don’t do:

1. They don‘€™t take other people’€™s behavior personally.
It’s easy to feel unloved and unwanted when people aren’€™t able to
communicate and connect with you in the way you expect. And it’s so
hard not to internalize that disconnection as a reflection on your
worth. But the truth is, the way other people behave and function is
not about you.

Most people are so caught up in their own problems, responsibilities
and struggles, that the thought of asking you how you are doing
doesn’t even cross their mind. They aren’t being mean or uncaring they are just busy and a bit self-centered at times. And that’€™s
OK. It’s not evidence of some fundamental flaw on your part. It
doesn’t make you unlovable or unworthy. It just means that some
people aren’€™t very good at looking beyond their own egocentric
bubble. But the fact that you are,€“ that despite the darkness you
feel, you have the ability to share your love and light with others€“
is an incredible strength. (from the œRelationships chapter of
our book)

2. They don’t just react they respond mindfully.
A reaction is a hot, thoughtless, in-the-moment burst of emotion
that’€™s usually driven by our ego (we €™are more likely to react when
we a€™re disconnected from our rational mind). It might last just a
split second before our intuition kicks in and offers some perspective,
or it might take over to the point that we act on it. When we feel
angry or flustered after dealing with a situation or person, that’s a
sign we’€™ve reacted rather than responded mindfully. Responding
mindfully will leave you feeling like you handled things with integrity
and poise.

3. They don’t get stuck thinking the world is ending.
Sometimes the darkest times can bring you to the brightest places, your
most painful struggles can grant you the greatest growth, and the most
heartbreaking losses of relationships can make room for the most
wonderful people. What seems like a curse at the moment can actually be
a blessing in disguise, and what seems like the end of the road is
actually just the realization that you are meant to travel a different
path.

No matter how difficult things seem, there’s always hope. And no
matter how powerless you feel or how horrible things seem, you can’€™t
give up. You have to keep going. Even when it’s scary, even when all
your strength seems gone, you have to keep picking yourself back up and
moving forward, because whatever you are battling in the moment, it
will pass, and you will make it through. You’€™ve made it this far, and
you’ve felt this way before. Think about it. Remember that time
awhile back when you thought the world was ending? It didn’€™t. And it
isn’€™t ending this time either. (from the Adversity chapter of
our book)

4. They don’t tie their present emotions to past negativity.
When we’€™re in the here and now,€™ it’€™s much easier to cope with
emotions and see them as just that: emotions. If we get caught up
obsessing over the past, emotions and situations can take on new (and
untrue) meanings as they become attached to stories. For example,
imagine you just got turned down for a new job. Naturally you a€™re
disappointed. But if you a€™re not present with that emotion, and
instead try to act like a tough girl or guy by burying it, the mind
delves back into your past for all the other times you’ve felt that
way. Now you feel like a failure and you start to carry a feeling of
unworthiness into every future job interview.

When we stay present, we’€™re empowered to start fresh every moment and
we can see every situation with a sharpened perspective, which allows
us to grow beyond the negative emotions (and outcomes) standing in our
way.

5. They don’t spew hate at themselves.
When you catch yourself drowning in self-hate, you must remind yourself
that you were not born feeling this way. That at some point in the past
some person or experience sent you the message that something is wrong
with you, and you internalized this lie and accepted it as your truth.
But that lie isn’€™t yours to carry, and those judgments aren’t about
you. And in the same way that you learned to think negatively of
yourself, you can learn to think new, positive and self-loving
thoughts.

You can learn to challenge those false beliefs, strip away their power,
and reclaim your self-respect. It won’€™t be easy, and it won’€™t
transpire overnight. But it is possible. And it begins when you decide
that there has to be a better way to live, and that you deserve to
discover it. (from the €œSelf-Love€ chapter of our book).


 

Pretty cool stuff, huh?! I really liked the simple steps. Now that you know what not to do … go practice the new steps until they become second nature, until they become you!

http://www.marcandangel.com

Marc and Angel are the authors of 1000 Little Things Happy Successful
People Do Differently. Here’s their amazing list of 5 Things Emotionally
Stable People…. If you enjoy this, be sure to visit their website for
more inspirational advice and tips for life.

Thank you for all your support!

I was selected to receive The President’s Council Community Leadership Award earlier this year. I am so grateful to all of you for an amazing career path. I’m never quite clear on what direction it’ll take next but if it continues to follow this path, I know it’s going to be a FANTASTIC ride! I’m looking forward to the next 20 years.

I want to give a big shout out to all those who have helped me develop programs for fitness and health, all those who’ve participate in said programs, and all those who cheered me on along the way. In July I was awarded the The President’s Council Community Leadership Award (http://www.fitness.gov/participate-in-programs/council-awards/pcfsn-community-leadership-award/) and I couldn’t have done it without all my teachers, students, blog readers, newspaper followers, and clients. Thank you so much for all your support and letting me try things out, lead, and follow. I am so honored to be part of your personal journeys, Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

The President’s Council Community Leadership Award is given annually to no more than 50 individuals or organizations that provide or enhance opportunities to engage in sports, physical activity, fitness, or nutrition-related programs within a community.

Can You Accept Yourself?

Can you truly accept yourself? Fully accept yourself? Just as you, today, in this moment, whatever it brings? So many of us answer a big fat Loud NO. We have all sorts of reasons we aren’t good enough and plenty of ways we could be acceptable … If we’d just ____________ (Get it together). Today lets focus on what we are doing well. 

In what area of your life are you proud of yourself? Really proud of yourself, not in service of your children, parents, employer, or anyone else. Where are you really proud of you, your actions, behaviors, commitment, follow though, etc.
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Why do you love this part of you? What’s so good about it?
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How does it make you great?
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What is a small change you can make right now, today to be a little better at this? Keep in mind sustainable change in lifestyle habits happens in small (think 10%) increments. Must be realistic within your time frame, make it specific, and measurable. This is the SMART goal principle developed by George Doran (1981). You are better off stating “I’ll eat 2 more servings of vegetables today. One at breakfast and one at dinner” rather than “I will eat more healthy today”.
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Next what are you going to do to make this change happen? Here we are looking for a change in behavior. What will you do differently?
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How was that exercise? Easy? Difficult? Were you able to find something you love about yourself? If not, I wonder why not. I may not know you and yet, I do know if you found nothing to be proud of it’s bullshit and old learning. I have seen the under belly of human experience and still find treasures there. It doesn’t have to a huge thing. We are looking for the big AND the small things. For example I was really proud of the way I used a new skill of asking questions this morning while I was talking to my husband. This mattered to me because it helped me be more effective in my communication and if I can use this skill in one more conversation today (2) and add 10% more tomorrow (2.2 conversations) soon I will be having effective communication in more than half my conversations, and then most of them before you know it. With each interaction I will feel a little more mastery (the key to building self-esteem) and pride. As I build those I begin to approve of myself more and more, leading to more and more positive change in my life. So I’ll ask you again …
What’s one thing about you, you can be proud of?
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Follow the above prompts now that you’ve found your thing. If you are still stuck … Maybe that one thing to be proud of is that you don’t give up on this exercise. ?
Know that getting stuck isn’t the problem. We all get stuck. It’s staying stuck that is. The way out of the muck is to shift your thinking. It isn’t easy if you’ve been caught In a negative rut, to turn toward the positive, drop your judgment of yourself and others, and stop listening to the negative vibes of others. Commit to yourself and work on remaining in a positive frame of thought for 10% more of your day today.
If some of these words are too strong for you right now change them to make sense for you. I challenge you to consider why not use these words?
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Does whatever holds you back from using them need to be released?
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Is it an old belief or message you can drop?
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What would happen if you did embrace words like love, great, good enough for yourself as descriptors?
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What to do with my emotions????!!!!!

What the fuck are my emotions good for anyway?!?! If this statement resonated with you, read on … If it doesn’t read on, too.

In my line of work I meet so many people who were never taught the answer to this question. They were brought up thinking that emotions were something to be tamed, controlled, eradicated.
The idea that emotions are not intelligence is lie. Emotions are a form of intelligence. They are your first intelligence system. The one that informs the meaning making system (i.e. Thought). You can tap this larger intelligence by embracing your emotions and learning how to effectively use and express them.

The ability to effectively use and express emotions is known as self-regulation. Self-regulation is important. It helps us get through our daily routine, create intimate relationships, parent effectively, and manifest the life we want, rather than the one we were handed.

The point is not to get rid of your emotions, but to use them to your advantage. If you are asking how the heck do I do that, read on.
First you must get good at tagging your own emotional experiences. My sadness and joy will look different than yours. Know what yours feel like by following the physical sensations it brings … slow down here take time studying your own experience … many emotions have similar sensations. For example anxiety/fear have a similar somatic (body) presentation as excitement. The way to know the difference is to pay attention to what triggers it, the situation, and circumstances taking place. These become big clues to what you are really feeling (note: don’t get caught by what others tell you you are feeling. Only you will know). Begin this practice by spending time each day noticing what you are feeling, thinking, and sensing. As you take this moment internally, notice what is going on around you externally. Aim for practicing 3-5 times per day. The point of the practice is to notice, not to change anything.
Now that you have a better understanding of what you are feeling emotionally, begin to pay attention to what triggered this emotion for you. This circumstance or internal state gives you clues as to how to deal with the emotion. Did you lose something you cared about? This may mean sadness and grieving is needed. Allow yourself to feel sad for the thing you lost. Did someone cross one of your boundaries or did something unjust happen to you? This might mean you are angry and need to set a boundary, say no to something or someone, or take an action to make an injustice right. Is the physical sensation one of openness, warmth, or buoyancy? Maybe you are feeling happy, joyful, or content. Look around, notice what triggers it, and soak it up.
Paying attention to the physical sensations using mindfulness (focusing only on the sensations for a moment) allows you to neurologically wire in new neurons for experiences. In any given moment there are thousands of choices, allowing yourself a deeper understanding of the experiences you want, makes it more likely you will choose the options that support these desires – what you want rather than what you don’t.
If you spend a lot of time noticing your sadness, despair, anger, guilt, shame, etc you are telling your mind to go find more of these. This is where your attention is, therefore what you find more of. I know this isn’t easy. Everyday I work with folks who suffer from depression, anxiety, psychological trauma, physical issues that impact mental health and I know changing thoughts and behaviors is not easy. However in the witnessing of human experience I know things follow attention. When one of my clients begins placing attention on what they want rather than what they don’t, they get better. Remember sustainable change happens in small increments. Begin by placing your attention on one more positive item today then add another tomorrow.
The other thing I know is placing this positive attention on things is not meant to sugarcoat all the shit that happens in life. It doesn’t fix problems, rather it gives you more strength to deal with them as they arise. When you are dealing with things as they arise they don’t pile up and become festering wounds that get infected and impact all areas of your life.
Last thing on emotions for today. They are ALL valid and welcome. All of them. Even the uncomfortable ones. My hate informs me as much as my happy. My guilt helps me grow and my shame tells me where I need to step up, listen to myself, and how to connect to my community, should I want to. My anger sets strong boundaries so I get a stronger sense of self and more depth to the relationships I want to deepen. Can my emotions become toxic? Absolutely.
That’s why it’s so important to deal with them as they arise instead of pushing them away. If I don’t honor my anger and set a boundary my self esteem suffers, soon my shame builds, and then I might get stuck believing it will never get better … aka despair. Getting stuck in despair can lead to depression and now I’m stuck in ruminating thoughts about how horrible I am so I don’t get out of bed and my daily activities and relationships suffer. The spiral can be a slippery slope and hard to get out of.
The good news is, the same why I can go down … I can also go up. I spend a moment deepening my knowing of my joy, and because I know it better I have it more often. As a result I find more opportunities to build it, and I find myself in situations with people I enjoy who support me. My self esteem builds because I am doing things I feel confident in and the people around me are accurately reflecting me. This helps build my personal sense of self authentically and congruently (with how I too see myself). Now I’ve got a stronger sense of self, take on new challenges, and begin to engage in life more fully and more inspired.

Body Mindfulness

I’m sure you’ve heard of mindfulness, and I would bet a number of you practice, but what about body mindfulness? Sure, in flexibility training, yoga class, or pilates you notice when you are asked to check in. What about when you run, bike, climb, shoot the ball, or skate? Do you focus your attention on where you are in space, how your body feels, and the sensations you experience? Here’s three steps to creating more body mindfulness.

Mindfulness allows us to focus our attention as a “Witness”. This allows space to observe what is going on around us and within us without attachment to the activity, thought, emotion, etc. From this point we have more access to our internal wisdom and therefore are better able to effectively meet the challenges in the given moment.

First, begin by setting an alarm on your phone, watch, oven timer, computer, or another way you can remember to do a “moment to pause”. Set it to random times throughout the day. This way you are training your mind to reflect despite your activity levels.

Next, pause when you hear your alarm. Notice how much you feel connected to your body. Stop whatever you are doing, take a deep breath and feel it all the way to your feet. Notice your feet on the support they are touching, then move to the legs – notice the front vs the back. Then your torso in space. Is is tilted to one side, twisted? Then pay attention to your arms, your hands, your shoulders. How do they feel? Finally, notice your neck, your head, your face. It may help you to close your eyes or choose a gazing point. Soften your gaze so you aren’t distracted by visual stimuli.

When you have finished the above it may be helpful to notice how in your body now. Is it different? How so?

Then return to your task and your day. Next bell check again. Notice any differences throughout the day. Over time this exercise allows you to gain more wisdom about your personal process, adds space in your day, and helps refocus your attention. See how you feel after a few weeks.

Making Sense of Physical Sensations

How much thought have you given to how much you judge physical sensations, label them, and then operate as though they are truth? How often have you used anxiety, excitement, or guilt to create a physical sensation to motivate you? Continuing from May’s concept of emotional and physical health connections, this month lets look at those most primitive and un-regulated body pieces to our intelligence – sensation.

Many of us feel a physical sensation and immediately jump to a conclusion about what it is, why it’s there, and react as though it must be true. Really, these items – like hot, cold, tight, loose, rough, soft, sharp, empty – are just information about what is going on in this moment, not the next one, not the one before it, this moment. Using mindfulness and curiosity it is possible to gather more information about what these physical sensations mean. We can then use them to inform our responses from an empowered place rather than react without considering the possibilities.

Begin to get comfortable with your body. How comfortable are you with the feelings (sensations) of your physical body? Are there areas you love? hate? ignore? that take more attention and focus than others? Are there places you feel strongly? Do these concepts even make sense?! If not you may want to slow down and consider how do you feel right now in your body? The trick to this exercise is to remember there is nothing to do, nothing to fix. It’s just about noticing what is going on in your body right now? Where is your attention drawn? Do not judge. Then use curiosity to “hang out” with this area and notice. What can you learn about this part of you? Where are it’s edges? Does it have a color? If it had one word what would it be telling you? Is it familiar? How is it different from similar past experiences?

As you begin this practice you begin to notice more and more of the body’s wisdom and you become better able to listen to it. Once you are able to hear what it has to say, listen to it. Follow it’s guidance and use this information to help you live a more embodied life. Living in your body isn’t just about shaping it. It’s also about enjoying it and living from within it. Embrace it’s wisdom and it will lead you toward a fuller and more engaged life.

A Healthier You in 2013

It is important to set a realistic goal. On average fitness resolutioners hit it hard in January and burn out by Valentine’s Day. Here’s 5 questions to ask yourself and help make sure you’ve got the stamina to make it to at least Spring Break and beyond!

    1) What is your big goal? (Be specific – I want to smoke/drink/watch TV less, I want to eat more healthy or to lose weight are too generic – What do those really mean? Break them down to specific ideas. I want to eat at least 3 balanced meals per day, smoke X amount/day, watch X hours of TV, exercise X times/week, etc)

 

  •       (Healthy weight loss is approx 1-2lbs/week. If you’ve got 50lbs to lose that’s a minimum of 25weeks – you didn’t put that weight on overnight and you won’t take it off that quickly either. Your body is smart and will do it’s best to maintain a sense of safety. Lose too fast and research shows it usually comes back on with vengeance)

 

2) What is one small step you can start doing this week to reach it? (To gain or lose we need to manipulate the caloric intake/output – this fits well within a weekly tracking goal)

 

 

 

3) Break it even smaller – what’s one step for today, tomorrow, the next to reach your weekly goal?

 

 

 

4) How many obstacles will get in your way? How will you overcome them? (Thinking through this helps you create a plan. You won’t figure them all out but you will be better able to handle them if you have given some thought to what will keep you from your goals.)

 

 

 

5) Why do you want this goal at this time? (This is your driving fuel. Important to spend some time figuring out your why – if it’s not your goal it’ll be much harder to maintain.)

 

10 Healthy Things I’m Thankful For

We have arrived at the start of the holiday season. Regardless of spiritual beliefs this is a time of introspection and reflection. A time to assess what you have, where you are, and dream about what comes next in your life. Research shows when we are thankful we invite more of those blessings into our lives. Here’s a short list of things I’m thankful for. Maybe you’ll resonate with some and quite possibly add your own. 

Comment on our Facebook Page to add your gratitude items. Community is a great place to share our gratitude and we all reap the benefits of reading others’ thankful prayers.

  1. My body & its health
  2. My mind’s ability to challenge me (in a variety of ways – at least I stay on my toes)
  3. Family (including my dog)
  4. Friends
  5. Meaningful Work
  6. Yoga
  7. The smell of snow in the air – means I’ll be hitting the slopes soon!
  8. Good (healthy) and tasty food that nourishes my body as well as my soul
  9. Tea – I love it anytime of the day!
  10.  A good book to snuggle with on these longer winter days

And your gratitude list …. ?

Slow Down, Focus, & Finish Strong

I had a lot to do today. I am feeling a little scattered. I started by getting the kids off to school, then working with my dog on the leash – so she doesn’t break my arm when she pulls, then  I went to work in my home office, which can be harder than leaving my house to work because, then I started to take the dishes out of the dishwasher, started to clean the counters, started to check my email, started to look up the local yoga studio schedule. AND I wasn’t finishing anything I started.

This becomes a problem. I had to complete something or my day would be full of starts and no finishes. That never leaves me in a good mood. So I sat down, took a few deep long breaths to help re-set my system and began again. I looked at my to do list and focused on one thing I could do right now. Finished it, crossed it off, and focused on the next thing, finished it, crossed it off. Now I usually do my blog at the end of my other things to do – hence the lack of postings while I am in mid-semester – so the very fact that I am writing now is a testament to the power of my breath to keep me focused.

What helps you calm your system and focus? What allows you to stop the mental chatter in your mind long enough to feel successful getting one thing done? What will you do today to slow down, focus, and finish strong?

Working out isn’t just about the Body – It’s also in your Mind.