Jane_Meditation_AlaskaDo what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. We have heard this expression and I definitely ascribe to it…sort of. Even when we are blessed to be spending our time doing work that is rewarding and ignites a passion and forward driving motion, it is still hard work! One of the great spiritual texts in the yoga practice centers around the idea of doing your duty, using 100% of effort and awareness, yet letting go of any expectation of the result of your actions. Yikes. This is a challenge, I don’t care WHO you are.

Let’s face it, we want, need, are habituated to look for the “payback” for our efforts. Isn’t that why so many people are burying their heads in their i-devices for a quick fix of one kind or another? The Truth is, real reward only comes from real, solid effort. If we want something big to happen to us, we have to create a big plan and follow through. Hard work, perseverance, a good sense of humor, a lot of faith are solid ingredients to create a recipe for success. Yes, there is the occasional windfall of abundance without effort (still waiting for mine) that befalls us, but mostly, it’s really just a lot of hard work.

One of the greatest gifts I have received from the practices of yoga and holistic therapies is clarity. When we get our body and mind quiet and healthy enough, we can actually hear the answers to our questions, the solutions to our problems and the directions to walking the path of passionate pursuit. Oddly, we have to learn and practice this art of stillness, even though it is the most organic part of who we are. I get distracted just like everyone else, but as soon as I plug back into what is Real and True through movement, meditation, exercise, massage, acupuncture; I feel that passion flood forth and with it comes the Plan for my life unfolding…

 

stacie bike picI guess getting fit and staying fit is not supposed to be easy…or fun, unless of course, you are one of those people who has fun getting fit. I know there are a lot of you out there. I am not one of you. I wish I was born fit and could eat anything I wanted and stay fit, but alas, it is not to be. As we get older the task becomes that much more of a discipline. Paleo and Cardio! Why can’t it be Ice Cream and Meditation?! Why??

Well, I started a new fitness regimen with our new personal trainer, Stacey Schimke, and I have to say, I LOVE it. (And her). I don’t feel judged or bossed around. There is a nice challenge but one that fits my capacity and the best part is that it only lasts 30 minutes! I can do just about anything for 30 minutes. Well, maybe not, but I can do this. Three times a week.

We use our own body for cardio and resistance, so there is not a lot of complicated weight management, just my own weight management! I feel stronger and leaner already and with the addition of keeping a food journal which she monitors, we will manage my intake to maximize results. There is just something to be said for being accountable and supported.

It’s hard for us avid helpers to help ourselves. You know who you are. But it is so worth the attention because when I am happy and healthy, I am happier and healthier in all my relationships. Win-Win!

So even though the workouts provide a challenge, it’s not a feeling of dread or defeat that precedes or follows, but one of success and confidence. Now that’s an easy feeling I can support and promote.

alaska_glaciersI succeeded with my regimen of Paleo for 30 days and continued to modify my diet after that. It was a great mindfulness exercise and a way to create a lifestyle change as I embrace a life of super-conscious eating and choosing the foods that feed and nourish me best.

Soon after, I got to test my habits on vacation as I traveled to Alaska for a week! It is one thing to have the safety of a refrigerator stocked with whole foods for eating, it is quite another to have to order every meal out and stick to a plan. Needless to say, there was gluten and dairy consumed, but in small quantities and with pleasure!

Alaska is, in a word, majestic. To me, it is nature’s way of saying, “I AM IN CHARGE.” When you see a moose walk past you in the road who is as big as your car, you begin to feel put in your place. The glaciers, the wildlife, the sheer vast beauty of it all…a wonder and magical experience for all senses. I feel blessed to have been given this gift.

On the boat ride we took to see the Kenai Fjords, were some Tibetan Monks which I took as a very good sign. (They bring to the party an extra bit of God). And so it was, according to our captain the “best whale sighting in her history of touring”. A picture perfect (warm) day as massive hump backs jumped out of the water with joy and enthusiasm.

Simply Amazing.

 

 

Nobu-6

Nobuo at the Teeter House

Day 27: We hear so many rules and methods of how to and what to eat. One strategy that resonates with me is the 85/15 rule: Eat very mindfully and healthfully sticking with the routine that you have set for yourself like mainly plant-based diet focused on organic food with no preservatives, etc, etc.for 85% of the week, and then the remaining 15% eat what you like! This is not only great for the body but for the mind as well. The mind holds tightly to the memories of fun food and indulgent tastes and experiences and if you don’t feed it once in a while, it gets really fussy I find. To totally deprive yourself of all the things you love is a recipe for disaster. I know when I feel deprived it makes me want to indulge even more, but given permission to experience everything takes away that cranky feeling of wanting what I can’t have.

There are those who eat to live and so eating 100% of a strict diet can be quite manageable for them. But for those of us like me who live to eat, it’s imperative to give ourselves permission to have some fun and enjoy life, friends, family, restaurants, gatherings around food.

Last night I indulged in a beautiful meal at Nobuo at the Teeter House in downtown Phoenix. What a meal. Tiny portions of artistically crafted morsels made with the utmost care and freshness. I was able to stay very close to the regimen except for the martini and a few bites of strawberry tart! Don’t judge.  I regret nothing. Life is meant to be enjoyed and I feel like as long as I can stay vigilant with noticing my behavior it will all be terrific.

 

 

Ev!Days 21,22,23,24+25: That’s right, I have been remiss with blogging. I suppose life just got in the way, as they say. The food project has been going very, very well and I am proud of my efforts and forgive the small indiscretions here and there. The last several days are a blur as the focus of my attention was not on myself or my eating habits but on my amazing and wonderful son who graduated from high school on Tuesday. I am a beyond-proud-momma of a wonderful young man and cannot wait to see his ascension into his full self-expression.

As we were waiting in the l o n g line of traffic to turn right into the venue for his commencement, a big truck was not so interested in waiting patiently for cars to move and side-swiped my vehicle in his attempt to move ahead. He then proceeded to flee the scene. Since none of us in the car were hurt, I simply rolled down my window, adjusted the rear view mirror and proceeded to enjoy my milestone day (and dealt with the whole metal-bent mess today).

This sparked a discussion among my deep-thinkers as to why “bad things happen to good people”. The thing is: Good things happen to good people, Good things happen to bad people, Bad things happen to good people  and Bad things happen to bad people. What helps to gain perspective is, Things Just Happen. The less we label them (or the people) good or bad, the more we have the ability to roll with all those oddly placed punches. If we try to figure it out, we will just get a sad headache, and it doesn’t matter why; it just matters how we handle it.

Being present for my boy outweighs drama over a hit-and-run any day of the week. Anyway, I believe that everything gets sorted out in its own time. I will pay the deductible and pray for the soul who caused the trouble. My guess is his suffering is greater than mine.

 

 

 

favorite snack

A new favorite snack!

Day 20: Past, Present and Future. There is a lot of discussion about these concepts in my business. The past is finished, the future is non-existent and the present is the only Truth we really have, so to live in the present moment is to live with happiness. Where this may seem oversimplified, I can verify its validity and significance in my personal life.

Dwelling in the past seems to be an absolute waste of time. There is nothing to be done about righting so-called wrongs or changing the occurrences of events. It happened. Move on. We can, however, learn from the past if we are willing to review it honestly thus helping us with present decisions based on habits and patterns that did or did not serve.

Dwelling in the future is a 3am-bolt-out-of-bed killer. When the mind starts to wander into parts unknown and the yet-determined, it walks into a land mine of worry and unnecessary anxiety. Don’t buy trouble. The future may or may not occur at all! Much less in a way that the mind is fantasizing about it.

Dwelling in the NOW is our only hope for real happiness. This can be verified when you recognize those moments and activities that have you totally absorbed; where time stands still and boundaries disappear into bliss: gardening, golfing, running, a lingering kiss…it hardly matters what the activity, it’s all about the feeling that envelops the experience, like no other. We call this integration and it feels good.

Something else that feels good is eating healthy. The body sings with energy and a lightness, literally not weighed down by inefficient food and extra substance. I do like this feeling.

Mmm..._inside_out_grilled_cheese_(6071900948)

This is what I am NOT eating. Oh, long-lost friend…

Day 19: Took some time to receive a session of holistic therapies. Acupuncture, cupping, body stimulus…an overall attention to the various layers of the body and then some special attention to what I now lovingly call, “Sad Toe”. My left great toe has some cysts in the joint which causes pressure and pain. I am opting into therapeutics instead of surgery for now as it has been deemed a manageable case and I like the idea of the body healing itself.

The thing about helping and changing the body organically is that it is usually not a quick fix, but a dedicated consistent practice of various kinds of therapeutics that address different aspects of the ailment. In my case, there is inflammation, nerve pain, pressure, decreased strength and misalignment. Fortunately, there are many things to help! Regular massage overall and to the specific area, yoga for strength and balance, creams and right diet for inflammation, orthodic for alignment and deep stretching of the calf, hip and back. Everything is connected! So spot therapy is not really the best approach because one thing out of balance affects so many others. Slow and steady attention and care is definitely the way to go.

I have faith in you, Sad Toe! Together, we will make things right. And if not, there is always surgery. One must stay open to all options.

Confession time: getting a little cranky about the eating. Where I am doing a great job on shopping for, preparing and finding things to eat that hold to the regimen, I do long for a relaxed meal served to me without any concern about gluten or dairy content. Just a human moment which too shall pass as I continue to stay true to my intention.

 

Fresh-mango-smoothie_01Day 18: Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. That is about as technical as eating should be in my humble opinion. I understand there is a wonderfully complex science behind food and eating the “right foods” serves you best. But when things get so complicated with don’t eat this with that and avoid this at all costs and only this food will do and that food is against the rules of nature…my head spins and I just want to eat something comforting.

In my business, the entire orientation of our awareness is to listen. We listen to the body in its infinite wisdom and it tells us exactly what it needs. Think about a baby who has not been inundated with outside cues or distractions toward what it thinks it needs, it just responds (and reacts) to the innate impulses inside. When she cries we either feed her, change her diaper, put her to sleep or give her love and attention. It really is no different when we are so-called adults. It’s just that we have been socialized into thinking too much about our needs instead of getting quiet and listening to what we need in each moment.

The practices of yoga, massage, meditation, breathing, acupuncture, sitting and listening to music, walking in nature…all act to give the mind a break and give us a chance to listen to that which is infinitely wiser than the mind (yes, I said it) and follow the intuitive knowing which always steers us in the right direction. I like chanting and have a practice of japa mantra which is simply a meditative repetition of a chant. I do it for 11 minutes -that’s supposed to be just the right amount of time to do its magic.

I’m bored with talking about food today. Working a lot and focusing on teaching others. (I did make a killer smoothie yesterday with fresh mango, banana, coconut milk, ice and a dash of maple syrup. Oh yeah. cool and delicious).

salad with chickenDay 17: First swim of the season. The pool was beautiful and cool and soothing. It feels really good to move my body in the water which is so therapeutic and great for my joints and also stretching and strengthening without the stress on my body. I love the water!

I know if I want to affect big changes in my body, I ought to be doing serious cardio exercise regularly and I hope to get back into the swing of that practice. I have a bit of a foot issue which has prevented me from impact and has inhibited my practice of walking and more aerobic exercise for some time. I’m getting some great therapy for it and looking forward to pain-free recovery, but for now I will just keep swimming.

It is common for us when we engage in a new regimen to “fall off the wagon” as soon as there is a stresser or event that distracts us from our commitment. The important thing that I have found is to begin again, right where we left off, and treat the new day as respectfully as all the rest, as opposed to a common phenomenon of quitting because we dropped the ball. It’s just a moment in the whole of the long practice and it doesn’t discount what has come before and certainly doesn’t mean we have to end our journey because of it.

In the words of Dory, from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming”. Her short-term memory lifestyle was such a shining example of living in the moment as the past had no relevance, the only thing of meaning was what was presently at hand. We are all so perfectly human in our ability to falter and skip a beat; there is nothing weak about it. The only weakness is when we let that stop us from following through with our intention.

Eating lots of meals that consist of a salad with some protein in them. While delicious, I’m getting a little bored with it and long for a sandwich. There is a recipe for Paleo bread. I went out and got the ingredients and will attempt baking it this weekend.

 

 

arrowroot powderDay 16: My personality is such that I enjoy a weekend project. Once I sat with the tubs of photos stacked in the closet (if you are of my generation, you know you have them), bought beautiful albums and spent the whole weekend sorting and putting the pics into the binders. I did not cook any meals or engage in other activities, simply focused and finished. This is satisfying to me. I’ve painted the house many times, built furniture, redecorated, etc, all within a short time span. I am NOT the one to engage in a major home remodel (though I did a kitchen some years back). My patience for the before-and-after effect is short, and as such I like to see results right away. Funny then, that I continue to put myself into situations where perseverance is the only road to success. Like a startup business!

Yesterday, in the course of my work, I spoke to a nutritionist who advocates lifestyle change, not just food swapping as a method toward whole health, and she said she always “prescribes” a six-month plan for people. We discussed how these 21-day promise programs and packaged food protocols may yield results, but they do nothing for getting into the root of the issues around why we are making the choices we are that don’t serve us. I agree! And so, I have resolved in my mind to carry this regimen, in its austerity, over a 6-month period. So I will continue to place the 30-day calendar on the fridge and reward myself weekly (that’s a lot of reward- woohoo!) but not go looking for results right away. I confess today is one of those days.

Made a delicious stir-fry for me and my boys last night. Leftover chicken, lots of peppers, onions and garlic, sliced cabbage and celery, with chili paste and some coconut aminos (substitute for soy sauce). My boys had it over rice with some sliced almonds. I used the saute pan to make a sauce with more chili paste and coconut milk with a bit of arrowroot powder slurry for thickening. (Arrowroot is a way to thicken sauces and recipes without using flour or corn starch which are not on the plan.) We all enjoyed!

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