The folks at Self magazine gave me a preview of their February issue, which provides various beautiful people doing squats and lunges with thighs made of steel. It’s easy to say “Puh! That’ll never be me. I mean look at her. She’s obviously a model. And no one —  absolutely no one — has skin that glistening.”
It’s important to keep things in perspective. Like a lot of people, I workout regularly, but lately I’ve been feeling the need to change up my routine a little bit. The truth is wellness and fitness require a holistic approach. As I have said repeatedly here and elsewhere, you are what, and how, you eat. (See this great New York Times article on mindful eating). You are also comprised of all the decisions you make, large and small.

So I decided to take a closer look at what Self is trying to say. And they have a lot of good tips to help shake up said routine to bring in new wind into a dulled wellness regime.

Tip#1: Place your leftovers and other food in glass containers in the fridge. You can only eat what you see.

Tip#2: Shop and chop once ~for the whole week. Do food prep ahead of time so you don’t have to dirty your kitchen over and over again.

Tip #3: A little movement can go a long way. It’s easier to stay in shape than to get in shape. The following program will help you trim up with a slow burn. Integrate your fitness in small choices such as taking the stairs instead of the escalator. And follow the outline they provide here if it works for you (personally, I’m not ready to give up on my health instructor yet!) Every little bit counts so get up and move.

Tip#4: This one’s borrowed from the mindful eating article I read in the New Yokr Times ~ eat in silence at least once a week. You wouldn’t believe how much more enjoyable it is to unitask at the table. So unplug the electronica and just eat, for pete’s sake. You may actually notice what it is you’re putting inside!

Remember: life is a dance so shake it for all it’s worth!

Want more info? Check out Tiffani Thiessen’s Prep Once Lose All Week Diet.

 

 

Winter has Europe in its firm grip. This morning I grappled with myself about whether or not I should go to the gym. My thinking went like this:

Angel side of myself: “I have a manuscript to edit. I really should work on that since I’ve been gone a lot this week.”

Slow side of myself: “You’ve been gone a lot this week. That’s right. And you know are more productive when you’ve exercised.”

Devil side of myself: “I want chocolate.”

Angel side of myself: “Okay, Slow, you can have your way, but remember. Go, well, slow. It’s icey out there.”

The sun blinded me against the white landscape as I pulled out of the driveway, only to get stuck in the neighbor’s parking space. I tried to move forward, but the car spun its wheels.

I rocked the car back and forth and realized I was going nowhere. By now, sleep had fallen from my lids. In an adrenaline rush that only driving in dangerous weather conditions can provide, I carefully pulled back into the garage and smiled.

“Okay, Angel, Slow and Devil. We’re not going anywhere. Manuscript editing it is!”

Sometimes we need to find out for ourselves that no movement is the best move we can make!

What else are you doing while reading this? Shopping on Zappos? Checking your email? Tweeting? The World Wide Web is both a blessing and a curse. It has revolutionized countless aspects of our lives and makes working from anywhere in the world both intriguing and possible. The Internet can be a fun, interactive, community-building, and fascinating cosmos. It can also eat up more of your time than you realize as you ‘quickly’ surf the Internet for something, only to bounce errantly from one Web site to the next. I am guilty of it. You might be, too. We are entangled in the Web like rose tendrils on a lattice.

Love it. Hate it. It’s here to stay.

According to a recent social media addiction study by Retrevo, almost one third of those surveyed under age 35 admitted to checking their social media pages such as Twitter and Facebook more than ten times a day. Thirty-six percent of the 35 and under group stated they update their status right after having sex. It may be healthier than having a cigarette, but is it normal? Forty percent in this same age group admitted to updating their profiles while driving (which definitely isn’t safe). This isn’t to say that older generations aren’t fallen victim to Facebook syndrome. In 2009, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook was no other than the 55 and over crowd!

Post-coital tweets and obsessive Facebook checking are only the tip of the iceberg, however. As more and more adults go online (it is 80% of the US adult population at present), Internet addiction has become a more prevalent issue. According to the American Psychiatric Association, a proper diagnosis of Internet Addiction Disorder requires that three or more of the following symptoms must be present over any given twelve month period.

1. Your tolerance level increases while the level of satisfaction diminishes. You need more and more time on the Internet to get the same kick.

2.  You experience two or more withdrawal symptoms developing within days to one month after reducing or stopping your online time. These symptoms then cause distress or impair your ability to interact socially.

3.  The only way to alleviate these symptoms is to use the Internet.

4.  You use the Internet more often, and for longer, than you intended.

5.  You spend a big chunk of your day or night on Internet-related activities.

6.  You give up important social, occupational, or recreational activities to be online instead.

7.  You risk the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of your excessive Internet usage.

Like television, the Internet has a way of drawing you in and holding your attention. Other signs of a true digital addiction include severe weight loss or gain from hours of Internet surfing, nervousness, irritability and insomnia. What can we do about our digital dilemma? Certainly instant communication can alleviate our workload, but it can contribute greatly to it as well. Here are a few strategies to balance online and offline time.

  1. Insert a digital-free day (DFD) into the least busy day of your week. If you’re a busy business executive, for instance, it may be best to make your DFD on a Saturday. Make use of your auto-responder or voicemail to let people know you are unavailable. If you’re a mother, perhaps your DFD day should be on a Sunday, or whichever day you do a lot of other chores such as driving the kids to practice, doing the laundry and paying bills anyway.
  2. Take a cell phone sabbatical for an afternoon. Lock it in your trunk or give it to a friend for a specified time.
  3. Plug into the tangible world around you every day. Do at least one daily unplugged activity such as going to the gym, socializing with friends face to face or attending a cultural event.
  4. Make an effort to have face-to-face contact with people every day. Give someone a real-live hug. In fact, hugs are most certainly one of the best kinds of contact you can have.
  5. If you find you have symptoms such as the ones listed above, get professional help. The first net addiction recovery program in Seattle opened its doors recently. Visit (http://www.netaddictionrecovery.com) for more.

The Internet offers infinite possibilities for us all. Be sure, however, that your virtual world is only an augmentation to the real one in which we live.

**This article was originally published on WowOwow.com under the title ’7 Signs You’re an Internet Addict’.

Life Lessons from Yoga

January 20, 2010

Yoga Living magazine’s Robert Butera provided these great lifestyle tips disguised as how to get more out of your yoga practice. He recently authored the book The Pure Heart of Yoga: Ten Essential Steps to Personal Transformation. Honestly, you can apply these tips to your life, too. You needn’t be a yogi to benefit. In fact, Robert says it’s better to focus on the inner transformation first, which, in turn, allows the external one to unfurl. You betcha. Robert is a fan of taking it slowly.

So give it a read, then tell me what you think.

Ten Steps to Transformation in a Yoga Pose Practice

Step 1: Intention. Setting an intention to practice yoga immediately connects your mind and body to the practice in one seamless unit. From beginners to advanced students, practicing a yoga pose with a specific intention in mind brings power and focus to both the yoga and your intention.

Step 2: Attitude. Closely aligned with your intention for doing yoga, an awareness of your attitude helps you connect with the nonphysical essence of yoga pose practice. Maintaining a positive attitude while you practice will improve your yoga pose experience — and your daily life.

Step 3: Posture. Attention to the correct physical alignment of yoga poses improves the nervous system; the musculoskeletal system; the digestive system; the circulatory, immune, respiratory, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems; mental function; and emotional health. I recommend attending a yoga class when possible to have an experienced yoga teacher further assist you with physical alignment.

Step 4: Breathing. Learning how to breathe very deeply is the one of the primary benefits of a yoga practice. Breath control increases oxygen in your blood, instantly reduces stress, brings clarity of thought, and stills the mind. You will find that doing different types of breathing exercises when you practice the poses will change your experience dramatically.

Step 5: Archetypes. Yoga poses are based on things observed in nature and in the human experience. By understanding the story of each yoga pose and where it comes from, you can develop a deeper perspective on yoga by discovering the qualities that are inherent in the pose – and how to apply or internalize these characteristics in your practice and in your life.

Step 6: Energy Centers. This step explores the mind-body connection of the chakra system (energy centers), and how different yoga poses stimulate energy flow to these chakras in different and powerful ways. This is a vital component in learning how to deepen your awareness of the relationship between your body and mind. You can use the poses to address specific health conditions or weaknesses in your body.

Step 7: Concentration. This step lets you explore the distractions in your physical environment and mental landscape that are keeping you from achieving a deep meditative state. The better you get at applying concentration techniques, the more profound your yoga experience will be.

Step 8: Energy Seals and Physical Locks. Step 8 delves into the power of symbolic energy seals (mudras) and physical locks (bandhas) on the body to deepen your awareness of the body’s energy. This step will help you understand subtle energy and how to consciously understand the flow of energy throughout your body – and is particularly useful for advanced students to combat “yoga burnout” or “yoga boredom,” as it helps them cultivate a beginner’s mind.

Step 9: Psychological Blocks. Yoga has the power to help you see aspects of yourself more readily than through thought or self-reflection alone. In this step you explore afflictions of the mind (klesas) and identify obstacles in your psychology that may be keeping you from moving ahead in your life and your yoga practice.

Step 10: Emotional Transformation. This step teaches you how to transform emotions to master the ego and merge with the infinite. Practice these concepts and you will learn new ways to manage your daily life.

Treat these steps as a gateway to experiencing the richness that yoga has to offer rather than as a strict, methodological program. It is a template that will grow with you over time as certain steps become more relevant at different times in your life than others. Be careful to not be in a rush to experience all the benefits that these 10 steps have to offer. Enjoy the process and honor your patience, and in doing so, you will notice shifts in your practice in the months and years to come.

* * * * *

Robert Butera PhD is author of The Pure Heart of Yoga: Ten Essential Steps to Personal Transformation (Llewellyn, $21.95), publisher of Yoga Living magazine, and director of The YogaLife Institute in Devon, Pennsylvania, where he trains yoga instructors as well as students. Visit http://www.pureheartofyoga.com for more information.

Give Forgiveness Pants a Try

November 16, 2009

Do your days thunder by in a flurry of activity? Have you forgotten where you got on to the carousel and, more importantly, where to get off? We often aim for perfection, squeezing ourselves into a mold made by someone else. It is on days like these when we seem to be spinning in an endless cycle of should’s and have to’s that Forgiveness Pants can play the starring role.

You may own a pair. I know I do. My forgiveness pants are made of fleece in the most impractical white you’ve ever seen. I dumped syrup on them once. They still got clean. They stretch and yawn to my body’s movement, allowing for full-sized belly breathing at any given moment.

Forgiveness pants tell you you’re okay just as you are. They permit unyoked days of freedom and kindness when your going gets rough. Forgiveness, in general, is a powerful force, which, when applied, can liberate you from the shackles of your own thinking. Take skinny jeans, for instance. In our supermodel-driven culture, we tend to think we should somehow be a size smaller than we are.

Forgiveness pants say that is not so. They shout, “To thine own fleece be true!” And they mean it.

So go ahead and give your forgiveness pants a try today. If you don’t own a pair, go find some. Chances are there is a pair waiting for you to discover the true power of knowing you are most magnificent just the way you are.

 Original Post from Psychology Today

Establishing a positive relationship with time sometimes requires we go out on a limb, such as taking risks to try new things while spending the units in our personal bank account of time wisely.

Yesterday I took a drum aerobics class for the heck of it. Don’t know what that is? I didn’t either until I tried it.

Admittedly, I thought someone else would be doing the drumming while I pranced about to the beat. I envisioned a team of African drummers beating their hearts out while I danced out mine.

Not so.

african drummerThe five-foot-wonder at the head of the class looked harmless enough. She had us get down large exercise balls that you normally sit on and grab a pair of drumsticks.

“Let’s go,” was all she said.

For the next hour we banged the ball with all our might to the beat of techno music blaring from the speakers. I was so concentrated on the dance moves that I completely forgot I was actually moving. More importantly, I also forgot the time. 

During the last five minutes, the instructor spoke.

“If you’re T-shirt’s not wet yet, it will be.”

I grew scared. I had already seen what the little power pack was capable of. We beat, we danced, we beat some more.

It was the most well-spent time I’ve had all week.

How do you find time to do what you love?

Sick of No Sick Days?

June 10, 2009

MomsRising.org is a very cool organization that seeks to empower people to live great lives. Since the power of slow is about mindful living, remember this: everyone is susceptible to illness. Non-paid sick days can spell disaster for some people.

MomsRising has taken the issue to Washington. Tomorrow, the Congressional Education and Labor Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee will be hosting a hearing on The Healthy Families Act. This tissuesbill would guarantee seven paid sick days per year for workers at businesses with 15 or more employees, to be used to recover from routine illness, care for a sick family member, or seek services to recover from domestic violence.

In response to the swine flu outbreak, MomsRising members sent in nearly 50,000 letters to Congress asking them act now to address the fact that over 40% of private sector workers have no paid sick days.  In today’s economy, folks without paid sick days can’t afford to follow the CDC’s advice to stay home when they, or their children, are sick–and that puts everyone at risk of exposure to illness, whether it’s swine flu or any other communicable disease.

Just last week, they introduced the Healthy Families Act, which would allow people to earn paid sick days.  It has its first big hearing this very week, one of the key hurdles the bill has to jump before it can become a law.

The great news is you can move mountains. If you live in the United States, you can tell your Congressman or woman to move this Act into law.

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