It’s Time to Reboot!

Over the last two weeks, my yoga practice and work-outs have taken a hit and I’ve been beating my head against the wall trying to figure out what my problem is (besides my assortment of injuries). Why do I feel a disconnect between mind and body? For those of you who lead an active lifestyle, you know how I feel;  you know how frustrating it is when you’re on a roll, hitting the gym regularly, practicing yoga a couple of times a week – or doing whatever it is that helps you ditch the stress of everyday life, and then one day, it all comes to a grinding halt and you’re left listening to that little voice inside your head that just won’t quit. Mine says things like:

Go to the gym! You look huge today!

You should do some yoga!

Go power walking – it’s nice out and you didn’t go the gym/yoga/ box – whatever.

Stop being lazy! You won’t achieve your goal if you don’t work out!

Turd alert! (this is when I’m feeling particularly turd-like)

I could go on but you get the point. That voice not only guilt-trips me all day long, but it also zones in on every self-perceived flaw that I think I have and picks away at them like a scab. My more reasonable side occasionally steps in to remind that annoying voice that I’ve got a knee injury and two tendinitis, and “why don’t you just SHUT UP already” but the annoying voice persists.

So, I’ve been feeling blocked – like my mind and body are at odds with one another. My mind wants one thing and my body constantly tells it to piss off. The fact that I’ve been in a fair amount of pain probably doesn’t help soften my body’s attitude toward me, nor do the work-outs that I’ve been doing regardless of said pain. But hey – I can’t let the annoying voice win, right? After all, society expects me to be perfect.

Because I want to get to the root of the problem and eventually move past it, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and I came to the conclusion that I’m not dealing with a lack of motivation or desire. I want to work out, and I’m desperate to step onto my mat for more then 20 darn minutes. And, it’s important to me keep cultivating that Zenitude I’ve been working so hard to achieve – so, what’s the problem? Ah-HA! Light bulb moment.

My ‘blockage’ goes hand-in-hand with the feeling of being overwhelmed at everything I “have” to do: gym, yoga, hot yoga, power walk, eat properly, don’t eat, lose weight, gain weight – work, work, work because it’s peak season, stress, don’t stress, run around to this place and that place. Somehow, I always find myself double-booked because I don’t keep track of what I’ve got going on, which further adds to my stress. It never ends – and I know it’s not just me. Men and women in today’s society simply feel overwhelmed – like there aren’t enough hours in a day to do what needs to get done. So at what point do we say STOP? When do we switch ourselves off and make time for ourselves? When do we reboot?

Thinking about all if this lead me to the realization that I’m always ‘on.’ My brain never stops; even when I’m ‘sleeping’, I’m thinking about work crap or feeling anxious that I’ve lost my Zen. When I get on my mat, I’m thinking about the pervert next door or Stomping Tom upstairs (I will pay good money to the person who invents the OFF switch for my brain, let me tell you!) . I feel like I’m ‘on’ 24/7. I have a laptop that never shuts down, a BlackBerry that never gets turned off, a personal cell phone that beeps with every incoming text message, a constant influx of emails flying through cyberspace, Tweets, Stumbles, Diggs, Facebook. Like so many people today, I’m almost always connected, reachable, which means that there’s always something interfering with my energy flow. And that, ladies and gents, is what’s creating my mind/body disconnect. What’s the solution? Well for me, it means turning off the laptop and ignoring the BB once I’m done with work at 5pm. I work to live, not the other way around. It also means that I need to keep working on how to effectively disassociate myself from all of the daily crap so that I can empty my mind and focus on achieving that mind/body connection. At some point, you have to step back and breathe. Recharge. Reboot.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed and/or disconnected?

~Namaste~

Oh So Buff (Fitness Etiquette)

Etiquette for fitness buffs:

Smell-Impaired: Please, I beg of you – lift your ban on deodorant. If you can’t smell yourself, rest assured that the rest of us can smell you from a mile away. You might want to consider visiting an ENT because there is obviously something wrong with your sense of smell. And perhaps you should take a shower before you work out. With lots of soap.

Sweaters: You go hand-in-hand with the smell-impaired gym members.  Do you think it’s attractive to walk around the gym wearing a shirt that’s drenched in your own sweat? Perhaps you don’t think that you smell. I am here to tell you that you stink to high heaven!  Is it that difficult to bring a back-up shirt that you can change into following your cardio work-out? Frankly, I’m not too keen on smelling you or using any fitness equipment that you’ve touched before me.

Hogs: OK look. There’s a sign-up sheet for a reason – to limit how long a person can use cardio equipment. It is not my problem if you got on your machine late – I signed up for 30 damn minutes and I fully intend to climb stairs for those 30 minutes. If you can’t respect the cut-off then don’t use the cardio equipment. Furthermore, don’t give me dirty looks, or a disgruntled sigh when I politely ask you if you’re almost done. There’s a clock right in front of you and I’d also like to mention that all cardio equipment have built-in timers. Lastly, no, I will not use another machine. I signed up for #34 and #34 is what I’m going to use. Why? Because I like #34!

I’m in a hurry: That’s nice. But I’m using the leg press right now and no, we can’t alternate sets because I press 90 pounds and you press 300. Changing plates in-between sets will take me more time to finish my sets and guess what? I’m in a hurry too.

Messy Weights: If you feel the need to walk and train, can you please place the weights back where you got them so I don’t have to waste 10 minutes of my time searching for that elusive 15-pound dumbbell? There’s an entire section dedicated to weight training – leave the weights where they belong. I already did my cardio and have no desire to run laps around the gym looking for one dumbbell!

Barely dressed: Do you see any sand or water? No? That’s because the gym is not a beach, so how about you cover your ass up with a decent pair of pants? That means you too boys! I don’t need to see your ass cheeks hanging out of your shorts or your butt crack when I work out.  Same thing goes for the boobage.

Special note to hot yoga chick: While it is recommended that you wear as little as possible when attending a Moksha or Bikram class, I don’t think going braless is what they meant. No one wants to see your boobs swinging in Down Dog dude.

Eyeballers: What I enjoy the most about working out in a gym, is being eyeballed by some random person. I didn’t realize I was performing for an audience.

The Situation(s): Look at me! I can lift 800 pounds! I’m shaped like a light bulb but DUDE look at my abs!

Testosterone City: Is it necessary for all Popeye T-Shirt wearing muscle heads to commune in the weight training area, leaving no one else with the opportunity to weight train? All you care about is your pecs – so just commune around the pec machine and we’ll call it a day.

Etiquette for Gym Staff: As you’ll see, the “trainers” at my gym are lazy asses – and super motivating!

1) Here’s a novel idea: try greeting your gym members when they walk through the door. Smiling helps.

2) If you see that someone isn’t working out correctly or doesn’t have proper form, it’s your job to correct them. Do you realize that improper form can lead to injury? Furthermore, if you know that an exercise will yield better results if performed differently, get off your lazy ass and share that knowledge.  It’s your responsibility to help your members achieve their goals isn’t it?

3) If you’re not interested in the health and well-being of your client(s) at least pretend that you are. Most people who are starting out are nervous and self-conscious – showing a little empathy and listening to their objectives might make them feel better.

4) Following point #3 – not everyone has the same objective, body type or health constraints. Assess the individual instead of automatically pulling out one of your stupid generic work-outs!

5) Lose the attitude. Most of you don’t even have the proper certification or knowledge to train properly. That’s why I create my own programs!

6) There is nothing I find more motivating then seeing a ‘trainer’ who is overweight. Better yet, a gym manager who is overweight. This is what we all aspire to!

Top 10s and What-Nots

Oi!

Who turned off my Zen? I’m feeling frazzled at my wavering Zenitude and realize that my inability to practice yoga or do any other fitness activity in the last week has made me totally grumptastic. I suppose it’s to be expected – I’m accustomed to stepping onto my mat every other day and hitting the gym or power walking whenever the urge strikes me. This is how I release stress, not to mention that the more active I am, the more inspired I feel to write. Being unable to do these things has left me feeling rather poopy (are you cringing CB?) – even though I know I need to ‘nurse’ my injuries before getting back to the fitness grind. My poopiness is also compounded by the fact that I feel guilty for not working out.  This is definitely a chick thing. Men never feel guilty about not working out.  I feel like I’ve already complained about this in a previous post… Have I? Oh great – now old age is starting to affect me as well. In any case, now I’m sick. Guess the fitness gods are still conspiring against me.

Right, so rather then complain about sore knees and arms and other assorted body parts, I’ve decided to make a list of my top 10 favorite things to do (for cheap)!

1- Power walking; You can do this on your own, or with a group of friends. One of my favorite places to power walk is on Mount Royal because it’s beautiful and challenging. You may need to drop a few coins into a meter if you drive there, but that will cost you $3-4 at most.

2- Doing a fitness class at one of the four Lululemon locations in Montreal. The best part? These classes are free! You can join one of their run clinics, or pop in for a yoga, Zumba or cross-fit class. Check out your local store’s calendar for details – the class schedules change on a regular basis and vary from store-to-store. This is a great way to get initiated to various forms of fitness. Note that Lululemon has locations in the US, Canada, Australia and China!

3- Practicing yoga at home; If you’re not already practicing, you will need to invest in a yoga mat (you can find these at Winners for about $20-25). I really like Lululemon’s Align Ultra Mat because it has embossed guide lines that help maintain proper alignment. This mat retails for $28 CDN. You might also want to invest in a good yoga DVD if you are new to this and unfamiliar with poses and flows. My personal favorites are led by Rodney Yee or Baron Baptiste. Check them out! Their DVDs are also available at Indigo and Amazon, and in some cases, Winners.

4- Relaxing at home, while listening to good tunes and reading a book. The bottle of wine might run you a few bucks, but is highly recommended 🙂 I’m not a wine connoisseur, but I am particularly fond of Fleur du Cap (South African) and Beringer (Californian).

5- Writing; Obviously, I’ve chosen to blog, but you can keep a journal, or write to your friends… or write a book – that’s next on my list of things to do (after this blog has made me famous of course). You can create a free blog using Blogger or WordPress, though I personally prefer WordPress because it’s more user-friendly.

6- People watching; I love to see how people interact with each other, and my favorite place to do this is on the Plateau. I love to  walk around the neighborhood and see what people are up to; there are a host of coffee houses and shops to check out, and interesting people all around! I would suggest taking the subway, and getting off at the Mont Royal stop because parking is scarce.

7- Photography; If I remembered to bring my camera with me every time I left the house, I would have a lot more photos for the blog! In any case, all you need is a camera and you’re all set. You just never know when you’ll come face-to-face with Adam Clayton (sadly, I do know, and I missed that opportunity – but that is a whole other story). All I’ll say is never judge a man by his blue suede shoes!

8- Sitting on my balcony; I love to enjoy a cup of coffee while sitting on my balcony, especially first thing in the morning. Nothing beats the sound of the wind and trees and birds chirping away. The pervert next door pretty much ruined that for me this summer, and it looks like I won’t be enjoying any cool evenings on the balcony either because he’s still perving around. Must find a new #8.

9- Moksha; OK, technically this is not free, but in the grand scheme of things, the $14 I spend per class is nothing in comparison with how amazing I feel afterward. I love Moksha!

10- Running for the Cure; This might not actually count because a) it’s not something I can do on a regularly basis, and b) I paid the registration fee in order to participate in this year’s run. In my defense, I could have waived the registration fee by committing to raising $150, but little did I know that I would end up raising more then this thanks to a few good friends (and my aunt).

The run is coming up in just a few days, and I’m very excited! I’m hoping that our Indian Summer will decide to present itself just in time for the run – will I luck out? We shall see… if you haven’t sponsored me yet and would like to, please check out my Twitter page for the link. All donations help regardless of the amount, and you can sponsor me even if you reside outside of Canada.

What are some of your favorite things to do? And more importantly, are any of you running for the cure this year?

Think Pink!

A

This Week’s Outspiration

So remember how last week I was brimming with inspiration? Not so much, this week. It would be easy to blame myself for not getting any exercise in since last Saturday, but the fact that I suffered both arm and knee injuries since then mean that I don’t have to. Nor should I feel guilty about not working out this week even though I do. The other day I was driving home listening to the radio, and making up my own words to a song that I can’t remember – but the lyrics involved the size of my ass and my ass getting bigger. Nice. I really think that guilt is a chick thing. When do men ever feel guilty for not working out? They don’t! It’s OK for THEM to look like turds, but it’s not OK for us to look like turds. Total double standard.  Anyway, if I look at the bigger picture, stepping onto my mat would have been stupid. Hitting the gym for some cardio and leg work would have been stupider. In my defense, I did attempt yoga on Monday. My plan was to do yoga but exclude Dog pose since these put weight on my arms; yeah, that worked for about 8 minutes – and I didn’t exclude Dog pose because realistically, how on earth can I do flow sequences without Dog pose?! I also have a problem with half-assed workouts. So, 8 minutes in, I realized I would likely aggravate my arm injuries more then I would help them if I persisted with 90 minutes of yoga. I rolled up my mat in a huff, tossed it (actually, I think ‘threw’ might be a better word) into a corner, and stomped off to my room. Truly, I was irked. As for the gym (or power walking), I opted to hold off until this lame-ass knee was feeling back to normal. The fact that I have a new pair of runners taunting me, begging me for a try-out, is not helping. I haven’t been to the gym or power walked, and the runners are still sitting pretty in their box. Last night though, I put them on and walked around the house to satisfy myself. I pretended I was working out. Needless to say that my level of satisfaction left to be desired <insert grumbling here>.

So, every day this week I thought to myself “Oh, seems like my arms/knee are doing better – maybe tomorrow I can yoga/ power walk/ go to the gym.” Can you tell that I’m eager to get back to it? And now, here we are Friday, and I’m still waiting for my body to get its shit together so I can get back to my fitness. Last night, I planned to get up this morning and either go to the gym for some treadmill action (I need to try the new runners to make sure that my feet like them) OR go power walking. OK well, first of all, I slept in so no gym. And when I opened the blinds, it was pouring. Pouring! Bloody hell. I have therefore concluded that the fitness gods are conspiring against me this week… BUT I am determined to do something – anything – tomorrow. Yes, I am hopeful, and yes, I will even do it in the rain if I have to!

To go hand-in-hand with my lack of fitness, I’ve also been dealing with a lack of writing inspiration.  Since I’ve had more time to think this week, I’ve realized that my level of fitness goes hand-in-hand with how much writing I do and how inspired I feel to do it. I think the adrenalin creates inspiration! How’s that for motivation to a) work out and b) write? I have no excuse not to do either! And now that I’m writing again, I feel much happier, and more motivated to work out. And when I work out, I am more inspired to write. It’s a win-win situation.

What’s everyone been doing to stay motivated this week? How do you get over the ‘no inspiration’ hump?

Namaste

Ditch that Negativity, Yo!

In my ongoing search for Zenitude, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to positive vs. negative influences in our lives lately. How do you successfully ward off the negativity that sometimes seems to creep in until you feel completely enveloped by it? And on the flip side, how do you maintain positivity when faced with hardship? Well, I’m no expert but I’m going to give this a shot based on my own experience. Disclaimer: I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist or spiritual healer!

When I was younger, and up until  about 6-7 years ago, I was definitely of the mindset that the glass was half empty. If in fact, there was anything in the glass at all (LOL). Thinking positively didn’t come very easily to me and as a result, I wasn’t very good at it. I was regularly chastised by my mum for my ‘lousy attitude’ because she couldn’t understand why I was so mopey, and I frequently heard the argument that there were people in this world who were less fortunate then me. I suppose it didn’t come as a surprise to her when I started wearing all black in high-school and The Cure became my favorite band – let’s call this my ‘woe is me’ phase, yes? Despite the fact that I had a great family, a wonderful home – everything I could ask for really, man was I ever a downer! Thinking back, I can only attribute this to some kind of unspoken peer pressure. No one forced me to dress in black and listen to Robert Smith sing about drowning, and no one forced me to walk around with a permanent frown on my face either. Actually, it wasn’t so much a frown as a pained expression – I think I was trying to emulate Smith but without the make-up. Anyway, I adopted this attitude or outlook – whatever you want to call it, mainly because I wasn’t part of the popular crowd, and I wasn’t an athlete . I wasn’t a computer geek or the cool eccentric kid so one day I decided I was going to be ‘alternative,’ along with a few of my friends. Being alternative required the following:

– You must wear ALL black with the occasional white
– You must pin your pants at the ankle so that the leg is narrow
– You must wear Doc Martens – this is not negotiable!
– You must coif your hair in an ‘interesting’ fashion (and dye it black if your parents let you). In my case, I couldn’t dye my hair black but BOY did I have a set of bangs on me. I am fairly certain that mine were the highest in our entire school, and I was frequently approached with inquiries about how I got them to stay up. Lots of hairspray dudes.
– You must listen to The Cure (especially) and various other alternative bands such as Depeche Mode, Ministry, Joy Division and The Sisters of Mercy.
– You must look and feel miserable

So, that was me in high-school. The above combined with the fact that the few people that I hung out with were in that ‘less fortunate’ category lead me to being mopey and negative for no particular reason other than fitting in with that particular crowd.

After high-school, I eventually outgrew the bangs and I lost that pained expression. I also lost the people that I was hanging out with at that time which lead to the glass becoming half empty (as opposed to just empty). In college, I hung out with rockers, which was more my thing anyway (though I am a huge fan of old school alternative), and rockers are generally happy people, especially if they’re musicians. But, there was one girl in the group that was a big fat mope-fest. Why? Who knows – her parents were loaded and she got whatever she wanted – but the reasons for a person’s misery are not always obvious to others. Perhaps she was sad that her father left her mother – a valid reason to be sure. But at some point, you must move past this because life goes on. Anyway, for the most part, my college days were alright, in a glass half-empty kind of way.

Fast forward to university, where, God help me, I found myself hanging out with two depressive individuals. For three years. I am sensing a trend here… How can you not have a negative outlook when you are in the presence of  negativity? People who mope for no reason other than to get attention? People with surly dispositions? And then, at the end of my university life, I had what Oprah calls, an A-Ha moment. The company that we keep determines how we view life, therefore, if I allow shitty people into my life, I will inadvertently feel shitty. Important lesson, no? So now, let’s move along to the present day.

Over the years, between finishing school and now, I have undergone several rounds of friend recycling. This is something that I do every year, but it’s not something that I plan – I don’t sit down in January, look at the calendar and say “OK, on June 22nd, I’m going to recycle people out of my life.” It’s just something that happens when I reach the point where I’m fed up. This might sound cold but it’s not. If I don’t look out for me, then no one else will, and that doesn’t make me selfish. Let me explain; I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has been ditched by friends in her lifetime. Shit happens. However, the lesson that I have learned, is that if someone does not bring something positive to your life, then you don’t need them because they will always drag you down. Personally, I am not interested in people who suck the life out of me, take what they can because it benefits them, but never give anything back to the friendship. I am not interested in the invisible friend – the one I never hear from until something happens in his/her life. And then, the only reason I hear from them is because they expect me to support them. I am not interested in the narcissistic friend – the one who only reaches out so that he/she can talk about themselves, never ever asking how I’m doing or what I’m up to. And lastly, I am not interested in the friend who is not supportive of my endeavors. These four ‘friend’ types represent negative energy that I don’t need in my life. This is why I recycle. Out with the old shitty friends and in with the new not-so-shitty friends. I suppose in some circumstances, this could apply to family members as well,  though not in my case.

As a result of negative friendships and what-nots, I’ve learned two very important things:

1) That it’s important to let go of people and things who don’t bring positive value to your life. It’s OK to do this people – don’t feel guilty about it because your crappy friends certainly won’t. In addition, if you are still stuck with those negative people, it’s important to realize that their problems are not yours. Do not make their issues about you. We are not responsible for ‘fixing’ other people.

2) I have learned that it IS important to surround yourself with happy, positive people because these are the people who help you see what a fabulous life you have. These are the people who will support you in good and bad times, without ever judging you. These are the people who will be there for you. Sometimes these people come in various forms – parents, friends, yoga instructor, a teacher, a complete stranger even. While some people’s presence in our lives are fleeting, they usually have some kind of message attached.

It’s important to recognize the wealth that you have in your life – and I’m not talking money people. I am talking about very basic things. Here are some of mine: my health, my family, my dog (yes, she counts!), my home, my writing, my job, my photography, fabulous books, my yoga practice, music, fitness, a beautiful day like today, my parents’ place up north. I could go on but my list changes daily, because I now take the time to notice the small things more then I used to, which is a fabulous thing! Smell the flowers people.

Lastly, I suppose I should answer my own question (that question is coming up at the end of this post!) – how do I deal with negativity?

Well, first, I am strong both emotionally and physically, so it’s important to cultivate a strong mind that allows you to process what’s going on, and filter out the crap. Rather then wallow in my negativity, I try to focus on other people and things that are going on around me. It’s easier to process something if you don’t spend all of your time thinking about it. In addition, I have a very deep belief in the practice of yoga. It has amazing physical, mental and health benefits, and it helps center me. It’s an amazing way to channel that positive energy and keep the negative energy at bay. Sometimes if I’m not in the mood for yoga, I’ll hit the gym or go for a walk. Of course, I also try to surround myself with positive people but when that’s not happening, I do any one of the above-mentioned activities.

So I leave you with two questions (and yes, you should think about them and respond!):

1) How do you deal with negativity when it arises?

2) What are some of the things that you are grateful for?

Peace out,

A