spiritual self-exploration through health, fitness, and nutrition

Archive for the ‘health and well-being’ Category

The Beginning of an Era

This past year has been filled with many ups and downs. With the inevitable downs, I’ve consistently stepped out of my body to evaluate myself and what I want. Since 2005, the answers to my own questions have been the same — I want to travel and explore new places, perhaps living in a new area at some point and inviting new experiences. So with the many signs pointing to moving out of my comfort zone (including numerous failed short-term relationships and getting laid off at my job), I took the leap last week and crossed across the country to do my passion: YOGA.

Yoga has been a spiritually healing tool for me for the past 6 years, originally with the purpose of coping with a bout of depression and severe anxiety. With yoga, I found peace by letting go of the past, and I learned to love myself more and more each day. Many years of experimenting with various styles brought me back to the core practice of Hatha and flow yoga.

I found the most amazing studio and teacher training program, Pilgrimage of the Heart, located in the North Park and Normal Heights areas of sunny San Diego, California. From the moment I stepped foot in the studio, I immediately knew this was where I needed to be. After some meditation, I followed my heart and put down the deposit for Fall 2013 Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) led by the beautiful Nikole. One week later, I found myself sitting in a room surrounded by 3 teachers, 2 admins and 16 other students chanting the cosmic sound “Ohm”.

But this wasn’t just any “Ohm”. With the direction of the studio’s founder, we were all gazing with half open eyelids into the center of the room and I witnessed the circle of beautiful souls around me undulating…almost vibrating…to the voices and radiant energy around me. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life and so many emotions came up as a result: excitement, nervousness, hesitation, fear, ambition, calmness. The next day consisted of a 6-hour workshop where we broke down in meticulous detail the first half of Sun Salutation. Although the volume of information was overwhelming at first, I was constantly brought back to feelings of awe for the positive, supportive, non-judgmental energy around me. In fact, I kept stopping to reflect and count my blessings for this incredible opportunity!

So with the intro class and first full workshop day complete, I continue to bring myself back to my intention (which may or may not change while I embark on this  transformative journey):

Let go of the past, and make way for new and positive experiences.

Namaste ❤

Gaining Perspective

This has been a very interesting week. On Monday, I celebrated one year of maintaining my pescetarian diet! This was a huge milestone for me considering I’ve been a carnivore most of my life  (although I did go 6 years without red meat). I feel healthier, weigh less, and am at more peace with myself knowing that I’m doing my part in helping the environment and animal welfare. It was much easier than I thought it would be. I guess the only annoying part was having to explain to people what it meant to be a pescetarian. I usually kept my answers short and to the point, and moved on. I plan on continuing the diet going forward, perhaps with a little more leniancy.

Speaking of moving on, Monday was also a day I faced some serious personal issues when a HUGE road block came my way. I found myself reacting and defending myself at first, but slowly accepted that the road block was there and there was nothing I could do to change that. Tuesday, I evaluated the block and how I could get around it. By Wednesday, I retracted and found myself reacting again, so I went straight back to being present, loving myself, and accepting the situation on the best note I could leave it on. By Thursday – and after much reading of inspirational quotes and watching hilarious YouTube videos & late night TV(laughter really IS the best medicine!) – I was already seeing so much progress. This goes to show that PERSPECTIVE, OPTIMISM, and ACCEPTANCE can be such powerful tools. I’ve been blessed to have a solid head on my shoulders and while my emotions may get the best of me sometimes, my resilience always come through at the end of the day.  Yoga, great friends, a sense of humor, and my loving family helped me along the way, in their own individual ways. Today, I open myself up to new experiences and thank God for blessing me with another day to live.

How do you cope with the major road blocks in your life?

Bottomless Tummy

Week 4 of P90x is almost complete, and I have to be honest – I’m surprised. I thought this “recovery week” would be easy. Instead, I’m finding that I crash hard once a week (falling asleep as soon as I get home from work & sleeping through the whole night) AND… my appetite is endless.

I literally will eat anything in sight. All. The. Time.

Well… except for sweets. And this is coming from someone with a significant sweet tooth! I’ve cut sweets out for the most part except for Fridays, which is when I give myself a free pass.

My roommate’s boyfriend, a personal trainer and body builder, suggested upping my calorie intake. I’ve slowly begun to do this but have been careful because I don’t want to revert all the progress I’ve already made (lost 5 lbs, toned up like crazy).

Being conscious of all this, I’ve been getting better about keeping healthy options around me so I’m not gorging on nasty junk. It’s hard though, since my 1-year anniversary of pescetarianism is coming up on August 8th — sometimes I still feel like my food options are still limited and I find myself sneaking a fatty egg sandwich on starchy white bread at 7-11 on the way home after a late night. However, this all goes back to my lack of motivation to COOK! All it takes is a little extra planning at the beginning of the week. More thoughts on this to follow.

For now, think healthy snacks.

Next step, meals on the go…

Day 30: Challenge Complete!

Well… I did it. [26 + 2] x 30. 🙂

It still hasn’t really hit me yet… and honestly I don’t feel that much different. I guess I’m being modest but overall I’m happy that I completed it. Over the course of the past month, I have learned so much about myself. The benefits that I received were tremendous. I hit some road blocks on the way. But at the end of the day, I learned way more than I thought I would.

It’s more than just writing your name up on a wall and getting stars placed next to each day completed. More than just sitting here and writing my story for the world to read. More than a pat on the back. I walked into this challenge with the idea in the back of my head that I wanted to try 30 new things before I turned 30 this September 2011. The first was falling hard for and letting all my guards down with a man that means the world to me, and being 100% honest about everything with each other up front, from day one.

The second, this 30-day bikram yoga challenge. It has humbled me  beyond belief and I can truly say at this point that I’m more comfortable with my body and my mind than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve finally come to (almost fully) accept that I will never have a flat belly, and I’ll never always feel like walking into the hot room with just a sports bra and shorts on (that’s rare to begin with anyway!). My body is all I have and I have to take care of it each day. Any harmful addictions I’ve dealt with are far in the past. I’ve found my new addiction not only in hot yoga, but in daily meditation and other forms of exercise and wellness practices. It’s what keeps me happy, sane, and balanced. I no longer feel like I need to rely on others to keep this balance and harmony. Only I can take care of this body and soul. And I’ll certainly continue to do that from now on.

I want to thank the following people, for without you, this challenge would never have been possible!

  • Carrie, for your enthusiasm and lighthearted personality;
  • Swyann, for your calm demeanor and delightful aura;
  • Rana, for your discipline and meditative encouragement;
  • Francisco, for your sense of humor and unending knowledge;
  • Insel, for your strength, wisdom, and impenetrable determination;
  • The entire staff at Bikram Yoga Rockville. It was with you that I discovered my passion for hot yoga in November 2009; and
  • My friends, family, and loyal blog followers… for your constant encouragement and support!

…and of course any other instructors from Bikram Yoga Tysons that I may have left out. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Stay tuned. I will continue to write about my regular practice going forward, and other exciting adventures as I explore myself more deeply through my “30 by 30.”

Namaste 🙂

15 Weeks Going Strong and a Brief Reflection

Yesterday was my official 15 week mark and I feel amazing. Combined with my pescatarian diet and consistent exercise regimen at Lifetime Fitness and Bikram Tysons, I have a tremendous amount of newfound energy and sense of spirit. Which, I might add, is MUCH needed right now as I sprint to the finish line of my grad school program at Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies. December 8th marks the date of my last class and I am officially a Master of Professional Studies in PR & Corporate Communications. I hope to find more time to write and keep everyone updated after the 8th.

With Thanksgiving coming up in just a couple of short days, I’ve been doing some internal reflection on what matters to me the most. I promise that I’ll be giving much more attention to half the items on this list as soon as my time frees up…

  • My family – Mom, Dad, & Sepp. And of course my long lost sisters (i.e. cousins) Tala & Raha ❤
  • My friends (aka extended family) – Caroline, Amanda, Maria, Shaady, Anita, Audrey, Tauna, Tiffany, Albert, Ling, Prali, Chanel, Teresa, Liz, Erin, & Kim
  • My health…and my willpower & drive to keep a healthy lifestyle
  • My education… all my professors at Georgetown, the many friends I’ve made throughout my journey, and the invaluable knowledge that has become a central part of who I am
  • My career… and the endless possibilities that lay ahead
  • My newfound joy… Rob. I’m so thankful that you’ve entered into my life this Fall. Thank you for making me one of the happiest women on this planet. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in 2011…

On another note, if you have  a blog that you’d like me to link to from my blogroll, please comment and let me know… all I ask for in return is a link back from your page. I’d be eternally THANKful!

What are you thankful for this year?

Going Pescatarian

Hot yoga. Running. “Trying” to eat right. I’ve been doing all these things pretty regularly for the last 4 months and haven’t been seeing results. My favorite work pants are still super snug, and I had trouble fitting into my bridesmaid’s dress this past weekend. So what else is there left for me to do?

Apparently my idea of eating right isn’t “right” in any meaning of the word. A number of incidents have happened in the past week that really opened up my eyes (I won’t bore you with the details! Just know that the book ‘Skinny Bitch’ was involved) — but I’ve ultimately come to the decision of becoming pescatarian. No more chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or any other land animals for me. I’ve done an abundant amount of research on this topic and think that I’m suitable for this lifestyle. That’s not to say it won’t be hard… I’ve tried being a full vegetarian twice in my life and failed both times,  but was able to keep red meat out of my diet for 7 years at one point. So, I know I have the discipline. I need to just remind myself of WHY I’m doing this:

I’d ideally like to update my  blog daily, but both you and I know that won’t happen. So, I’ll update as often as I possibly can to let you know my progress!

I’d love to hear some stories and insights from other vegetarians, pescatarians, and vegans out there.

Quotes to live by

Many of you who know me well, know that I’m a total sucker for quotes.

As this first month of the new decade comes to a close, I thought I’d share some quotes about optimism, and some other quotes that have helped me through hard times in the past. Even though I’m happier now than I was a year ago today, I still find these helpful! I encourage you to comment and add some of your favorites! …

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” -Maria Robinson

“May the love hidden deep inside your heart find the love waiting in your dreams. May the laughter that you find in your tomorrow wipe away the pain you find in your yesterdays.” -Anonymous

What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise” -Oscar Wilde

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -Winston Churchill

May the pain you have known and the conflict you have experienced give you the strength to walk through life facing each new situation with courage and optimism.” -Anonymous

I have made it a rule of my life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy… you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.” -Katherine Mansfield

I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.” -Charlotte Bronte

To me every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.” -Walter Chrysler

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.” -Les Brown

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” -Muhammad Ali

The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” -John Bingham (on running)

…I’m off to the Poconos for the weekend (Camelback Mountain!) with a group of friends to snowboard and relax.

🙂

Resolution Time…

So I’m keeping my resolution semi cliche’ this year. Going for 10-15 lbs to lose and being HEALTHIER overall (i.e. making healthier food choices etc).

2010 here I come…

So far, have the Cherry Blossom 10-miler on my list. What other athletic journey should I embark on… perhaps another marathon by the end of 2010? That’ll put me up to 3 marathons! Sounds like a good number to me…

I will consult with runwashington.com and come back with a more specific racing goal! Now as I write this, I’d like to challenge myself to running a faster 5k and 10k. I’m fully capable of getting myself in shape, perhaps I need a coach… hmmm……

In a few hours my dear gentleman friend and I are going snowboarding for 3 days in a row in the beautiful Seven Springs Resort in PA, about an hour SE of Pittsburgh. Hopefully I won’t come back too sore seeing that I worked out for 2 hours today after taking a 3-week hiatus. Another resolution – go to lifetime fitness gym more often!! I pay so much as it is… the gym is beautiful 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings… I hope you have a successful and joyful 2010!! ❤   🙂 🙂

Coping with Stress

stressI recently stumbled upon a classmate’s blog about personal struggles in life. This struck close to home for me as I have been going through similar times recently. From as far back as I can remember, I would always get easily stressed out if anything had gone awry at school, at work, or in personal relationships. I had often times been in denial of certain aspects of my life and would put issues on the back burner (which, of course, came back with a vengeance). Spontaneity and low self esteem at a young age also affected my ability to make confident and rational decisions – which led to more stress. And at a young age, I wasn’t dealing with this stress in the healthiest ways.

However, despite all this, I have learned how to cope with personal daily struggles in healthier, more productive ways:

  • Yoga/Running: The physiological and psychological effects of yoga are extensive. I have pushed myself to limits I did not know I could reach not only with my yoga practice, but also with my running. Setting goals and working hard to achieve them (in my case, a few half marathons and the Marine Corps Marathon) boosts confidence and gives one a very strong sense of accomplishment. These physical activities not only help focus on the present moment, but also has long-term, problem-solving benefits.
  • Group and Individual Therapy: Independently seeking self-help was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Although some may argue that therapy isn’t for everyone (which I completely agree with), it really worked for me. I’ve learned so much about myself through this method of self-exploration, and I’m able to put things into perspective more quickly.

Another method of coping that I am going to be pursuing very soon (starting April) is volunteering for the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, Maryland. However, I should admit that I am first and foremost volunteering to help adults how to read, which would help them get better jobs…thus creating a better world. From previous volunteering opportunities, I learned that it gave me a good sense of self.

With the rising stress levels of American citizens during the current economic crisis, it is essential that people understand the methods of stress management, and apply them, so that they can lead healthier and happier lives 🙂

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