How I’m already feeling 50 pounds lighter

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Photo: lululemon athletica

Miracle diet? Lipo? Nope! I haven’t really lost 50 pounds since January 1 (obviously), but I feel like it’s been lifted from my shoulders.

I’ve been exercising regularly, doing a mix of yoga, power walking and elliptical workouts, and keeping track of everything that goes into my mouth. I’ve been eating smaller portions and cleaner. And I’ve temporarily said goodbye to chocolate, because it’s my worst “trigger” food, often leading to more unhealthy eating.

Taking care of myself feels amazing. I feel physically lighter and, more so, mentally lighter. I’m not battling guilt for failing to go to the gym. I’m not spending time thinking about what I ate that day because I’m writing it down. And I’m not beating myself up for eating unhealthy foods, because, well, I’m not.

It’s amazing how much emotional energy and time I spend feeling bad when I’m not caring for myself. No wonder I was always tired! I knew that as I began my journey to get healthier, I’d discover a bunch of additional benefits. This one just may be the best. 

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My smaller 2013 un-resolutions

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Photo: Oriental Trading

Happy early New Year, everyone! Being highly superstitious, I never wish a happy early anything – heck, I won’t even change my calendar until the new month or year arrives. But I’m soooo ready to say goodbye to 2012 and welcome 2013 with open arms.

This year has been tough. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that main challenges included the passing of a grandmother, the unexpected – nay, completely blindsiding – passing of my cousin and the murder of a childhood friend. Dealing with so much, along with adjusting to my promotion at work, meant less running, minimal writing and, ultimately, more stress and sad days and a nice 20-pound weight gain.

Needless to say, I didn’t achieve most of my un-resolutions for the year:

1. Run a half-marathon.

Um, nope. But I did begin yoga again after a year-long hiatus and have fallen back in love with it.

2. Officially change my name (this may be tougher than running a half-marathon from what I hear!).

Check!

3. Take a creative writing class.

Sadly, this went on the backburner.

4. Eliminate my debt (my current payment plan will allow for this).

I’m two months away, then I’m throwing the biggest party for myself EVER.

5. Build up my savings account (I have a particular number in mind).

In progress, but not quite where I hoped it’d be.

In my ongoing quest for better balance, I’ve set some smaller goals for myself for 2013:

  1. Run a 10K
  2. Get my shoulder stand to a point where I’m calmly breathing while holding the pose (versus flailing my legs around as I try to stay up)
  3. Finally take that writing class, even if it’s just a one-day workshop, to kick start my creative writing
  4. Give myself 10 minutes when I get home from work each day to reconnect with my husband and review the day, giving him my undivided attention
  5. Learn to cook three new meals without filling the kitchen with smoke, yelling for my husband to help in a panic or giving up and ordering takeout
  6. Continue to build my savings account
  7. Remind myself every day of all I have to be grateful for
  8. Think “I should” less and “I could” more

Like last year, these are goals I’m excited to work toward rather than resolutions I feel like I have to (or should!) make. I’m looking forward to ringing in 2013. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year. After all, it’s an odd-numbered year (they are always good ones!).

Why you gotta check yourself before you wreck yourself*

This summer was tough. I lost two women very close to me. And while the initial sting and pain of their loss has eased up a bit, fall has been an insanely busy time at the office. Trying to balance my unwieldy workload with fun-packed weekends has resulted in sheer exhaustion – and a serious loss of balance. I feel drained, like I’m in a Frida Kahlo painting, bleeding out everywhere.

On top of the run-down feeling, I was beginning to get unexplicably angry and sad. Becoming annoyed with co-workers and short with my husband. Noticing I was becoming more critical of myself and my work, along with letting my Type A-ness get out of control when it came to cleaning (I clean when stressed).

Needless to say, this past weekend was a time to check myself. Okay, to be honest, I didn’t plan to check myself; I crashed. I napped on Saturday afternoon in my PJs and zoned out like a zombie, watching football all day Sunday.

The good part? I remembered why it’s so important to give yourself time to just be – time to forget deadlines, tuck the to-do list away, catch up on some reading, take a yoga class or go for a run and get back in tune with myself.

Inspired by my two days of relaxing, I turned a critical eye to my calendar and began moving back plans, spacing them out a bit so that I can build in “check yourself” weekends between busy ones. I made sure I got to the gym a few times this week, and carved out time to blog (hence, this post). I’m already feeling lighter and back to my usual self, rather than the crazed maniac I was becoming.

Can you relate? Do you have to check yourself, or have you mastered balance? I’m always looking for tips!

*Ice Cube is so wise!

Meditations on meditating

Corpse pose - so relaxing! Photo: lululemon athletica

Let me start by saying I have a newfound respect for people who regularly meditate. It’s hard! With a day packed with work, appointments and other responsibilities, shutting your mind down for a set period of time and just, well, sitting with your thoughts, is the ultimate challenge. Case in point, here’s how my first four days went:

Day #1: I kicked off my 30-day meditation challenge on February 1, which happened to a yoga class day.  We ended the class in Savasana, or corpse pose. It’s my favorite, because it involves laying on your mat, completely relaxed and focused on your breathing. It’s essentially a form of meditation and a time for your body to rest after a vigorous muscle workout. My class was at the end of a busy workday, so it was easy for me to slip into a form of meditation. Did my mind wander? Absolutely. But I was also so tired that my brain wasn’t nearly as active as usual. So I actually felt relaxed and refocused after class. Meditation success!

Day #2: It was a chaotic workday, full of last-minute client “emergencies.” Despite every intention to meditate before going to sleep, I was dozing about a minute into my meditation. Hey, I tried!

Day #3: I completely forgot to meditate and went right to bed. It may have been the two very full glasses of wine I enjoyed in the evening. Note to self: consider shifting meditation time to morning.

Day #4: My day started with an early-morning yoga class. Our teacher kicked off the class with something new – a five-minute meditation! Being in a calming atmosphere – and in weekend mode – helped. I was able to relax and let my thoughts drift as my teacher’s soothing voice guided us. She shared an invaluable tip for antsy meditators like myself: when you have a thought – and you will have thoughts – acknowledge them, then let them drift away. Being a visual person, I decided to think of my thoughts as leaves, gently blowing away or floating down a brook. After the five minutes was up, I found myself wishing I had more time – a definite first. I just may get this meditation thing down!