What Do I REALLY Need?

Sometimes I find I have to remind myself that losing 10lbs means that I will still just be me only 10lbs lighter. If I am feeling discontent in my life and feel like I JUST HAVE TO lose weight so that everything will be ok then I need to pause for a moment.

I have weighed less than I do now. Life wasn’t magically better then. When I feel this burning desire to be smaller, I need to figure out what else I am wanting to solve for that I am putting weight loss as the solution to.

What am I missing or needing in this

Do I need to be kinder to myself? (Btw, the answer to this is yes, always. )
Do I need more connection?
Do I need less busyness?
Do I need to pay more attention to my health?
Do I need to stop believing all the crazy thoughts in my head?
Do I need to be more present in my life?
Do I need to pay attention on a regular basis to what I am grateful for and where I already have enough?
Do I feel like I do not deserve to take up space?

Of course its fine to lose weight. Be healthy and be the best you you can be. I just found myself wishing again recently that I was 10lbs lighter so I felt like I needed to ask why and understand.

Love who you are. Love your life.
#awakeandalive

What’s Going on in Your Circle of Friends?

Repeatedly in my life I have learned that the people that you hang out with often can either raise or lower your game over all. (By game, I am referring to the standards that you measure yourself up to, quality of life, values, etc).

Recently, I have noticed two pretty cool themes in my circle of people that have been pretty damn cool.

1) Doing less.
Several of my friends have made some big decisions in their life to stop doing some of the things they had been doing. It felt scary and questionable. However, now that they have taken the leap they love the renewed energy they have from not being over committed or tied to things that feel too burdensome.

More is not better. Better is better.

Is there a way you can simplify or make room in your life? Let go of some things that drain you or don’t meet with your values and priorities?

2) Taking recovery seriously.
A couple of friends have made deliberate efforts to sleep more, take true days off and away from the gym, practicing more self care, eating enough and working on their mobility. Their bodies feel better. They feel better. Life is more enjoyable. They have more to give when they are in the gym. Take your rest and recovery as seriously as you take your work outs.

So. Cool. I am really impressed when people make decisions that don’t always fit with what is expected or what people view to be as the norm and I love that my friends are owning decisions to make their lives better. My friends make me want to raise my game.

What can you do to step up your game?

What I Have Been up to Lately: A Big Learning Cycle

I find that I go through cycles in my life of big learning followed by a bit of being stagnant or low growth. In reflecting on the past few months, I see that I am in a big learning cycle now and its tons of fun.

In August I attended a five week Strongman Clinic that met every Saturday morning. It was mostly women although a few men. We got to play with all kinds of fun toys – stones, axels, yokes, logs. I loved being able to try new things and test my strength with that. Strong man kegThere were several times when I thought “I can’t possibly do that.” Then I proceeded to not only do it but often with more weight then I figured I could do. That is a good feeling. I loved the sense of play and just trying things out as well as the environment of other women just encouraging and cheering each other on. Lots of fun.Olympic Center Pic

 

 

Also in August, I had the opportunity to attend a Masters Weightlifting camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. It was a masters camp meaning that every one was over 35. I would say the ages ranged fromIMG_5397 35-65 and it was about 50/50 men and women. It was so cool to be among my peers. While there were a few people who had been lifting for a long time, many were like me and just found out about the lifts a few years ago and are completely smitten with the sport. We were coached by two Olympians Zygmut Smalcerz and Oscar Chaplin. There was lots to be learned. We had several training sessions a day plus a morning warm up session that I referred to as 1970s Polish Calthestenics. We also had several opportunities to watch the resident team lift which was amazing – speed, power and strength that I can only dream about. The more I learn about weightlifting the more I love it.

Finally, August also brought the Bar Slamming Festival in Stateville, NC. It would be my second official weightlifting meet. What I was most excited about for this competition was a chance to meet one my inspirations in the sport of weightlifting Jon North. If you don’t know him, you should check him out. He is a crazy man and I love it.  His passion and energy in the sport is just contagious. To meet him and to watch him lift and hit a PR for the clean and jerk was just inspiring. I was also there with two of my fabulous friends and I hit a meet PR so it was pretty fabulous in all ways.

Kara and Jon

In September, I attended the USAW Level 1 Coaching course. Let me repeat, the more I learn about weightlifting the more I love it. It was great to interact with the knowledgeable instructors as well as attendees, some of which had never snatched or clean and jerked before. I have an Olympic Weightlifting certification from Catalyst Athletics which is near and dear to my heart. However, the USAW Level 1 is the certification that many people look for industry wide so it was worth getting.  I did learn some great coaching queues and things to improve my own lifting.

It was after the Weightlifting Camp, that I decided to refocus on my weightlifting a bit more and enlist some coaching help. I have trained a ton on my own and really I think I have taken myself as far as I can go. I had a friend who was a competitive weightlifter write me a program and I have a coach that I work with 2-3 days a week. It has made a difference for sure. I have really learned that while I FEEL like my body is doing the right things, the video shows something different. Its been great (and challenging) to get consistent feedback on how my lifts are going. I am planning to compete at the end of September, beginning of November (Both in VA) and in a big Masters meet in California in April. I am pumped about that and ready to work hard and make some gains.

Why am I sharing this? I guess as a reflective time for myself to see how much has happened in a few months but also to help inspire you to go and seek out experiences that you want to have happen and do what ever you can to make them happen. As Jon North has said, Love your life or change it!!

Lessons Learned from My Life So far

In honor of my 42 year on the planet, I am going to copy some of my friends habits of sharing a list of things learned in life so far. I am not doing 1 for every year but a top 20 of the things that pop out at me.  I would love to know what resonates with you and what some of your big lessons are.

  1. Love who you are.  We are born knowing this and then we forget or get it conditioned out of us – some times on purpose and some times by the most well meaning of parents. If we are lucky and with lots of practice you can reconnect with it, savor it, live it. It changes your perspective and how you show up in the world.IMG_2543
  2. Know that you are the ocean. You are not the number on the scale, the size of your jeans, your depression, your food restriction or binge. Those are the waves, you are the entire ocean.
  3. Sit, Stay, heal.  I ran from emotions and experiences for a long time. A powerful tool for me to move past what ever feels really hard is it sit with the difficult feeling, be present with it. It changes and dissipates and typically I have a deeper understanding than I did before.
  4. Its so easy to judge. You never know what is going on with some one else. Try and have some compassion. I find that I have often been in a similar situation to what ever that person is doing that I am judging them for.
  5. It takes great effort to be effortless at something.  Sports, dance, art, loving who you are all take lots of practice. Keep at it. Eventually it gets easier, effortless.
  6. I can trust myself. For a long time I didn’t and even more so never thought it would be possible. But then I practiced (see #5) and it got better.  The inner voice got stronger, clearer and I know I can listen and trust.  The inner critic? Well I got that voice to STFU. :D
  7. Every thing changes. People, pain, health, rules, moods, energy, life, jobs, technology. If it feels hard or impossible, hold on – it will change. If it feels awesome, savor it, it will change.
  8. The number on the scale does not determine how my day will go or what kind of person I am. See #2 as well.
  9. Follow the energy and passion. I do my best to make decisions that keep me where my energy and passion go and take on less of the things that suck the life out of me.  Of course there are always have to do but probably less of those things than you think.
  10. Genuinely and authentically being love for others and myself. I am pretty sure this is my purpose in life. <3
  11. Move in ways that bring you joy. Bodies love rest AND they love movement. While I would love every one to strength train, its so more important to move in ways that bring you joy. Find what you love and do that.   IMG_5410
  12. And throw random movement shit in there too. We don’t forget how to squat, reach, flip, roll over, get up off the floor, find our balance, become less agile – we just stop doing it one day and then we eventually lose the ability.
  13. CTFO on the food rules. If your life and meals revolve around a strict list of what can and cannot be eaten, you may be missing out on life and the stress probably isn’t worth it. Part of what brought peace for me around food is when I stopped having a “good” and “bad” list.
  14. Don’t underestimate the power of regular good sleep.  Yeah.
  15. Choosing the right mindset can go a long way in managing stress. Some times you don’t have to change what you are doing just your attitude towards it and things feel better. Gratitude is a powerful tool and a perspective changer as well.
  16. Value doing less over doing more.  Open time on your calendar, down time during the day is not a crime. We live in a society that glorifies busy-ness. Maybe try doing a few things really well, rather than a ton of things that you only kinda care about because you think you have to.
  17. Lifting heavy weights and long leisurely walks in nature have done more for me than any antidepressant has.
  18. Consciously take care of your relationships. What can you do to make this person feel more loved?
  19. Its fun to walk through a crowd of people and silently offer them the metta blessing – ” May you be happy, May you be healthy. May you be free from fear. May you feel the joy of being alive.”  It can change your whole outlook.
  20. Don’t believe every thing you think. So. Many. Thoughts. They are all just stories and constructs that I have gotten used to. Doesn’t mean its true. The world got a lot bigger when I questioned what I thought.

Ocean

I was enjoying my usual Sunday morning routine of an early coffee and Whole Foods run followed by a leisurely walk in the park.  I was listening to a podcast from Tara Brach (Sigh. I love her.) She made the comment

“When you trust you are the ocean, you no longer worry about the waves”.

I stopped. Oh my yes! THAT is what I have been really feeling these past few months. I have connected that I am something bigger than my experiences, moods and energy.

I can have all of these waves:

  • sadness for no particular reason
  • frustration from a bad workout
  • panic in response to a number on the scale
  • feeling sick after eating too much
  • hurt from an interaction with some one
  • I am so tired when I feel like I shouldn’t be

But its ok because I am more than that. I can still be Ok AND experience all of that. The ocean is big enough that it can recognize, allow and contain all the waves – it doesn’t have to worry or get obsessed about just one.

I shared a few weeks ago on this blog that I no longer feel like I am broken. I finally see, feel myself as whole – not perfect just whole. The ocean imagery really works for me in this case. I identify as the whole ocean, not one crazy wave. :)  The ocean/wave idea is a continuing theme that first showed up for me around the time of my tedxrva talk.  I have a deep feeling that whatever life brings to me, what ever I experience its not that I won’t be sad, won’t struggle but through being with all of it, I will be ok.

You are the ocean. Don’t sweat the individual waves.

If-the-ocean-can-calm-itself

 

I No Longer Believe I am Broken

This is a pretty personal share but as this page is all about present mind, strong body, better life I figured I would jump on in and share.

It occurred to me recently, that it has been four months since I have felt the depths, the dark of depression. When I am at those low moments I am completely over come with the feeling that I desperately want to be some one else. I feel like I need a complete reboot because there is no way I am ok as I am. Its a terrible feeling to not feel ok as you are, who you are.  I am guessing that many of you can relate.

Upon reflecting on the absence of that, I also realized I no longer believe I am broken human being.

Whoa.

I have really connected with the fact that I am human, not perfect but wonderfully alive. It has changed so many things in my life – in small, yet meaningful ways.

I am celebrating all of that! 

What does this mean for me on a day to day basis?

  • For me, this realization has translated into better self care. Who wants to take care of body, brain, self that is broken and not good enough? I am choosing clothes that fit me and make me feel happy. I am taking more time to read books and have experiences that make me think and grow. I get silly with myself in the mirror checking out who I am and this cool, strong body.
  • My body doesn’t need to be punished with exercise, it gets celebrated with movement that makes me happy. (And running. haha!)  I go for leisure walks more often. I get up and lift because I love it and not because I have to be or do anything different.  I am running a bit at the moment and approaching it with big gratitude.
  • My body doesn’t need to get punished with food. I eat what I want, when I am hungry in a mindful way.  I fuel the best I can to enjoy the process and to give me what I need to do what I love.
  • My mind doesn’t get battered (as much!)  with stories of the past or concerns about the future. I am more present in each moment. Savoring the details, the mundane, the everything.
  • I am able to hear the “Not good enough” inner monologue more quickly and shut down the narratives that don’t suit me, that aren’t true, that bring suffering.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to get an idea of what it feels like to not operate from a space of “I need to be fixed”.

You are enough right in this moment exactly as you are.

What Do I Do Now?

When I attended the Train Like A Girl 2 seminar in February, I heard Jim Laird in talking about how little time in the gym is actually needed for gaining health, strength and good movement say you will have to think about what you are going to do with your life when you decide you are no longer “gym girl”, when your identity is no longer tied to spending hours in the gym.

Huh. Interesting.

I am rereading Geneen Roth‘s book Women, Food and God. In this book, Geneen talks about what do you do when you no longer believe you have to fix yourself. Having to constantly focus on losing weight, being on a diet and worrying about what our bodies look like give us a purpose and an activity. She compares it to Sisyphus, who is relegated in the underworld to constantly roll the boulder up hill, only to have it roll back down and do it again. At least he has something to do. :)

Huh. Interesting.

What would your life be like if you accepted yourself exactly as you are right now? If you didn’t have to spend time logging hours upon hours in the gym, thinking about food (how much? how many calories? bad vs good?), worried about how other people see you (which you can’t control anyway), wondering how you can be better, different than who you are right now.

Quotation-Geneen-Roth-yourself-Meetville-Quotes-14313

We are lead to believe that if we hit that size or number on the scale that life gets more magical. Life is suddenly easier some how, we love ourselves more and the pain of what life can bring gets easier.  Its a myth that we have been sold.  Haven’t you been smaller than you are right now? Did life feel magically better? Did you really love you more? Did all of your problems disappear?

No? Me either.

I loved that Jim’s question made me think about what I would do with all of that time in my life if I no longer had to be gym girl. I love that Geneen challenged me to give up the obsession of being on a diet and having to fix myself.  While I am still practicing being in that space, I feel like it has opened up a ton of space in my life. I feel like I can be so much more present with the life that is right in front of me – the beautiful, the challenging, the mundane. All of it. I am better at being with myself. I am learning more about who I am. I am more attuned to eating what makes me feel good and I love (LOVE LOVE LOVE!) moving in ways that make me happy.

Can you be brave and consider what walking away from all of that would mean for you? How would your life change? What other things would you be doing and spending time thinking about?  I would love to hear from you.

 

What Diet Are You on Now?

I was out trying a new restaurant this week when I ran into friends while I was waiting to get a table. I asked them what was good on the menu since they had eaten here several times before.

My friend looks at me and said Well I don’t know what kind of diet you are on now?

I just smiled and said, I eat it all. 

It was a fair question though. I know I have tried many things – vegetarian, vegan, south beach, fat loss eating, gluten free, primal, paleo, etc and written about those things on this page and my personal page. I probably even got a little preachy with it at times. (Sorry!)

I get why I did all that. I have had a life time of feeling fat, bingeing and deeply believing that I cannot trust myself around food.
So I had to have a food plan. And when that plan didn’t work I had to have another food plan… and another food plan…etc
Like many experiences in life, I guess I had to go through all those plans to be where I am today.

A few years ago, I was lucky to work with Jill Coleman, find Geneen Roth‘s work and then this past year find the ETF (Eat the Food) group through Go Kaleo and – all of these people put me on a different path. This path feels amazing although some times scary. There is no good or bad food. There is just food. I make decisions based on what makes me feel good, what nourishes me, what tastes good and what I like. I have had to take time to practice being in touch with what is going on in my heart and mind and deal with those things instead of turning to food to solve a problem. I have spent time practicing trusting me again.

I panicked earlier this year and just wanted myself to “get it together!” I hired some one to write me a food plan. Wow did that not go well. I did not respond well to trying to follow some one else’s rules and eating in ways that just felt horrible to me. I immediately packed on 5 lbs.

I am back on my own path of no plan. The path of trusting myself, figuring out what works well for me, what nourishes and fuels me to do what I love, what brings me peace, what brings me joy, of taking up space instead of always feeling like I need to be smaller. I don’t need to me smaller, I just need to be the best me that I can be. Yes, I still stumble, yes I still get fearful, yes I still binge on occasion. I am not perfect (WTF is that anyway? :D) I am human and this is my journey.

Love who you are. Eat the food. Love your life.

That Little Voice

The first weekend in May, I participated in a 5k called the Rugged Maniac. It was one of those obstacle/mud runs that are happening all over the place now. I completed it with one of my friends and had a blast. However, in looking at some of the pictures from that race I could hear that little inner voice saying “You should be smaller. You are gigantic.

When that little voice pops up, it often throws me out of sorts.

Physically,  I feel a little nauseous and sometimes feel heat in my face and body.

Mentally, I feel like I am REALLY not ok as I am and it makes me WANT to shrink.

That little voice has been with me for a very long time. It used to be a constant companion narrating for me all the ways in my life that I wasn’t ok especially with my body.  Its funny (actually, its not) that it was still there even when I was a size 4, the smallest I have been in as an adult. There is no pleasing this voice and it is never satisfied.

As I have practiced more loving who I am in this world, exactly as I am right now, that little voice is not as constant. It does take lots of practice – you can’t just know that you are ok once or twice and that little voice goes away. You have to consistently work at it or you find yourself stuck back in the pattern of I am not ok as I am. It can be challenging especially when the world around us – culture, advertising, and sometimes even friends and family – tell us that we are not ok as we are.  There can be a great deal of pressure to be “smaller”.

I have learned that little voice is not just about the weight, its about who I am as a person. It is telling me  – you are not ok as you are.  You know what? Its a liar.

If I am not ok as I am right now – loving me in this moment, then I am not going to be ok when I am “over there”. (What ever “over there” represents for you – when you are thinner, richer, have more free time, etc. ) Happiness can be found as you are right now and in this moment.

There are moments when I hear this voice that I pause and pay attention to what it has to say or why I am feeling that way. Other times I just tell it to shut the fuck up.  :)

The Messiness of Being Human

No Mud, No Lotus.  – Thich Naht Hahn

Some where along the way, I developed a belief that if I get awake and aware enough, present ENOUGH (enlightened maybe?) that life will be easy.  I am defining easy here to mean no more suffering, no more struggling, no more messy, no more imperfect. (Honestly, I often envision being so enlightened that I can actually levitate).  :)

This believe has caused me quite a bit pain over the years as it made me feel like I wasn’t doing the things right or good enough, like I was falling short.

What I am realizing through my practicing and experiencing is that the suffering, struggling, messiness, imperfection is ALL part of what it means to be human. It IS life. The messiness is not some thing to escape from but something to savor and experience – the joys and sorrows, the highs and the lows, the perfection and imperfection of it all. Being present, awake and aware is what allows for the experience of it all and be with every moment that life brings to us.

Of course this is just a new awareness to me but certainly not an original thought. I just ran across this quote from Thicht Naht Hahn recently.

“The lotus cannot be there without the mud. Likewise, happiness cannot be there without suffering. Looking deeply into our suffering, we gain an understanding of it, which enables happiness to have a chance to blossom. Thus, the lotus does not have to reject the mud, and the beauty of the lotus actually gives value to the mud.”

Instead of wishing the messiness of life away or some how impossibly working to get beyond it, I am now practicing to be with and say yes to each moment.

How are you with the messiness of life? What stories do you hold about how life should be? Can you allow for and savor ALL of it?