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Is liking yourself a rebellious act?

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In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” Caroline Caldwell

I’m a rebel. A rebel in training that is.

I hope that you will join me as one too.

You see, I am a rebel in self-love. Not against self-love itself but against the idea that change is the only avenue to liking yourself. Against the idea that women’s bodies should look a certain way. Against the idea the outcome of what we do matters more than how we got there.

We are blasted with information on a daily basis about what exercises keep the thigh gap, what routine gets flat abs and how to lose 5 lbs by the weekend.

We live in a world that plays on women’s insecurities, self doubts and fears and profits off of it in fact, by the millions, only to keep at it coming at us with no end in sight. But does me pointing this help really even help the matter?

A couple years back a colleague of mine posted a question on Facebook about what viewers thought of the way bodies were portrayed on covers of magazines, in movies and in the media. I commented that I didn’t like it and it was a false portrayal of what women’s bodies look like in really life. She then challenged me in a friendly way, “But does it matter if you are secure with yourself?” Bam! No it doesn’t.

Could it be that the answer lies in a little bit of rebellion of actually liking yourself?

 

Of being more focused on the daily process of improving then the end result of getting more lean or shredded?

Could it be building self care into your daily habits?

Could it be spending time with people you love, exercising because you love your body not because you hate it, or eating healthier to support the thing you want to do in life.

Could it be empowering each other to self love and acceptance instead of supporting the attention of a society that  “profits on our self doubt.”

Listen, I really wish I could say I love everything about myself 100% of the time no matter what is going around me but that’s just not the case or the point really. I don’t always love my body. I don’t always love my choices. I don’t always love the way I look.  But I strive to be ok with me. I put up the fight to be ok with being myself.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”  e.e. Cummings

 

This is not a cop out. It is ok to accept yourself without accepting your current condition. You can still practice self-love, acceptance and enjoy the people and world around you. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines of your own life and wait until that one day when you will finally have the ideal body or life and finally be happy.

Have the courage to show up wholeheartedly and unapologetically without letting others take away all the unique qualities about who you are and what you have to offer. When you can embrace who you are and let go of who you think you are suppose to be you can truly begin to lead an authentic life.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna Quindlen

 

Most of us just want to live our true authentic life. We want to step outside each day as we are and be real. We don’t want to play the games of trying to fit a mold and scramble desperately like we have it all together all the time.

We don’t want to reveal our self perceived weaknesses, inadequacies and failures because we don’t feel like it earns the acceptance and approval we are striving for.

It’s taken many years but you could say I don’t let trying to be perfect run my life. I don’t let society try to run myself and dictate what mold I should fit or what is beautiful or sexy.  Trying to be perfect at all costs is not really about trying to be your best and do your best, it is about associating those things with worth and well-being. It is about trying to do everything right so we can avoid struggle and judgement.

Your health is insanely important but the way your body looks as a outcome is not so much. I get it though. We all want to feel good in our skin, feel confident, like getting dressed because we feel proud of the way we look but learn to get addicted to and excited about the process of it all, not the outcomes.

So what is the antidote to trying to obtain perfection all the time. Self compassion. Self-acceptance. Self-love.

Perfectionist talk comes out in phrases like I can never do anything right, I am so fat, look at these belly rolls and cellulite, I am embarrassed and ashamed of how I look, I am not worthy, I will be worthy when I am different.

The opposite comes out in phrases like I am striving to be healthier, I can do this for myself, my body is important but the way it looks does not define me, I can love and embrace myself even while I am working toward change.

When it comes down to it you are doing the best you can. It is not an excuse but damn life gets crazy sometimes and you are just trying to do your best to navigate your way through it all.

Take care of your body but you are more than a body. 

If you have been looking for permission for self-love consider this permission granted.

I have the privilege of working with some amazing women in the fitness industry who focus on, encourage, and support this insanely, crazy idea of actually liking yourself. We are rebelling big time and hope you will join in with the #selfloverebellion.

Starting this week we are posting on all social media outlets on ways we are showing self love for ourselves which just may be against what society wants us to do. They want us to be doubtful and fearful, and yes make a profit.

We know better and won’t give into their schemes. We will rebel by embracing ourselves (different for everyone) and show the world what we each uniquely have to offer. Show us your quotes, quirks, exercise and foods you love, and why you have no reason to be doubtful or fearful. #selfloverebellion

how to deadlift when you are scared of the bar

When it comes to training clients I pretty much want to help teach your mom how to deadlift.

While I know there are plenty of go getters out there who walk right up to the bar, throw on some weight and get after it, I know there are plenty who will never set foot in the weight room, let alone walk up to that big scary platform and load up the bar. Nor does anyone have to do that to get some type of results from weight training.

While I am guilty of posting my deadlift max’s on Instagram and Facebook I still try to convey to others that you don’t have to train for maximal strength to get results.  You can find results, accomplishment, functionality, body change, and improved health in basic exercises.

Maybe you are reading todays post and feel intimated or overwhelmed walking into the weight room or maybe you know someone who feels this way and this article can help. I am going to teach you a basic deadlift variation you can use with a dumbbell as you build up enough confidence to make it to the bar. Because you will.

For weight room newbies: After reading this article, at your next workout, walk straight to the dumbbell rack pick up a heavier than normal dumbbell and find a open space in the weight room to get your awesomeness on.

If you are performing it close to the dumbbell rack be sure you have adequate space around you and that you are far enough away from the rack so you don’t get in the way of other gym goers (little weight room etiquette for ya).

What it is: 

A deadlift is an exercise that builds strength in the lower body and back and mimics picking something up off of the floor most often used with a barbell. You can also use a kettle bell or dumbbell to focus on form, get comfortable with the movement or to add in to a routine when you want to do higher repetitions. 

Why should I even deadlift:  

Because you want to be strong at life. Think picking up boxes, children, groceries and heavy rocks. It works the glutes, core and backside of the body and is uber functional. Plus you feel like a badass and everyone needs a little bit of that in their life.

Using a dumbbell mimics a traditional deadlift without feeling so scary and intimidating with the platform, the bar, and those big weights.

Everyone starts somewhere with exercises and everyone needs to take a step back from time to time to work on form.

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Pull your shoulders down, hips back, and keep the chest lifted.

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Tighten everything in the body and lift the chest and butt at the same time by pushing the hips forward.

How-to get it right:

This exercise has tons of variations to choose from.  You can use this version with dumbbells or kettle bells and work your way to the bar when you feel comfortable.

  •  Choose a heavy dumbbell. If you are scared to ever grab the 30, 40, or 50 lb dumbbell, this is the exercise for it. Focus on form and don’t rush the movement.
  • Place the dumbbell vertical on the floor and stand over it, the DB slightly in front of you, with you feet approximately should distance apart.
  • Bend over with a slight bend in the knees, back flat, gripping the top part of the dumbbell like shown in the picture.
  • Pull your shoulders down, hips back and lift the chest so you can look at an imaginary superman logo on your chest at all times without straining the neck back.
  • Tighten everything in the body and lift the chest and butt at the same time by pushing the hips forward.
  • Control the movement back down and and repeat.

All this is fancy, detailed talk for pick up the dumbbell from the floor with good posture, keep the midsection tight.


Common Mistakes to look out for:

  • Squatting the DB. The torso is not as upright as a squat.
  • Butt lifting before the chest. Butt and chest lift at the same time
  • Not using your butt. Squeeze your butt at the top of the movement.
  • Rounding the back. Try to keep the back flat with a neutral spine (the natural curve of the low back).

Please share this article to timid gym goers everywhere to more help build more confident and skilled people in the weight room!

Adele’s 5 Friday Favorites

I am back this week with my new series, Adele’s Five Friday Favorites (AF) where I share my favorite things food, fitness, mindset and life. I wanted a space where I could do some quick sharing on things I am loving right now!

Adele’s Five Friday Favorites 

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You have been hearing me talk about it all month and today is the first official day of the #16to16 holiday workout challenge where I challenge you to join me in starting your health resolutions early and get 16 workouts in by 2016. This series also includes an educational aspect where I teach you how to carry out these habits in the new year. If you are suffering from major FOMO, go ahead and jump on the list here.

 

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This pre made salad mix is one of my favorites partially because it is already prepared. It is a combo of shredded carrots, cabbage, cilantro and green onions and comes with yummy toppings in an Asian Chopped Salad or Southwestern style. I usually use my own dressing depending on what else I add to it.

 

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LOVING these Lululemon pants with the sheer backside. The fit is amazing as I love the high waisted style that holds everything in lets say. 😉 Knowing Lulu, you probably can’t find these exact pants right now because they rotate through everything so fast, but you can probably find something similar.

 

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TACOS! My favorite go-to meal when I eat out at restaurants right now. I used to stick with plain salads, but that no longer works because I like food. Healthy food that tastes good. Tacos with corn tortillas and minimal toppings are surprisingly healthy while satisfying at the same time. Eureka Burger, Chipotle, Cheesecake Factory all have ’em!

 

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Please be okay with failure and be okay with failing again and again.  Please don’t be ok with doubt. Doubt keeps us stuck, unable to move forward. Be confident, makes more decisions and own the decisions you make.

how to be good, when you can’t be perfect


Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

I first heard this quote by author, speaker and self compassion guru, Brene Brown and I was so taken aback by the of truth that blares out of this statement. The truth that we often ignore. The need to throw all good efforts out the window if perfection cannot be attained.

It has a lot to do with our own sense of “not good enough-ness.” I once had someone tell me we all feel not good enough. And when we get upset, angry, frustrated with someone remember that they are acting out of their insecurities just like I would act out from own insecurities. Because we all, in some sense, feel not good enough in our own way.

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Not feeling good enough can cause us to disguise our imperfections, in attempted perfectionism.

For most of my life I would never, ever call myself a perfectionist because a perfectionist is someone who just wants everything to be to just right, who takes the time to make things look beautiful, and is never satisfied. I mean, I have sloppy handwriting, I do not care about the presentation of my food and I often go out and about in my sweatshirt because I really could care less, as long as I’m comfy.

So when I was told I had to let go of this perfectionism thing, I said, “Please, do you know who you are talking to?”  In my attempts to deny this nonsense, I realized that I DO have an overwhelming concern to do everything “right” and spend my days comparing, about why everything in my life, including myself, is not good enough. Ah perfectionism at its finest.  

Perfection does not represent happiness.

The trap comes when we associate doing every thing right, (being perfect) with automatically bringing happiness and joy into our lives. And when we do things wrong, (when we are not perfect, act perfect, or look perfect) it represents that we are not worthy.  “Perfect” does not guarantee pain free living. We use perfection for approval and acceptance, for someone else to tell us that we are ok. Ironically the only way you will ever truly feel ok is if YOU accept yourself, imperfections and all. No one is immune to perfectionism and we all experience it on some level.

The way we can overcome perfectionism and its association with all things good and wonderful, is to practice a little self compassion for ourselves and a little gratitude for what we have. When we realize that perfectionism (a perfect house, perfect eating, a perfect wardrobe, a perfect life) is just a cover for what we are shameful of (inadequacy, a lack of money, a lack of confidence in appearance, embarrassed about our bodies), we can learn to be more accepting of our lives, ourselves and those around us.

Can you see here how practicing gratitude (abundance) is loving yourself and acknowledging that you are doing the best you can, rather than focusing on lack?

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Another issue with perfectionism is that it IS a perception. We see others and think they are living the perfect life all simply by what we choose to see and interpret what it represents.  It usually happens a little like this. You are going about your day, maybe just completing an intense workout, dressed super cute or gave a bad ass presentation in your field of work. And then it happens. You compare yourself to your friend who had a “better” workout, the family with the gorgeous house, the person with the successful presentation, or the attractive women. You let it take away your joy.

Believe me, I struggle with this all the time. I compare myself all the time. Whether it is to the perfect body, the perfectly dressed, the highly successful, or the perfect way of eating, working out, living. Somehow this interprets being enough in my head. No wonder I am stressed and anxiety ridden. Sometimes you can be the juiciest peach of the bunch and and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches. Get what I am saying?

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How to be good, when you can’t be perfect.

I realized I had somehow trained myself to ignore my strengths and progress I am making in life, and have chosen to focus on my weaknesses and shortcomings.

You know what?

The woman with the perfect body, she has her struggles too.

The effortlessly matched fashionista, may not view life as effortless. 

The successful business person, they have challenges too.

I keep the practice of reminding myself that other people being successful does not mean that I am not. I can only control what I do each and every day and cannot completely control the outcome. Life does not fold out to the plan we have in our heads. Life does not unfold without challenges, struggles and hardships. When we accept that into our lives, we can stop trying to control everything around us and can still keep doing what we are doing to be good, without having to feel perfect. My own standards are some made up ideal I have in my head and when I let that consume my thoughts, it makes me feel inadequate.  If I choose to keep the focus on my own progress I can see just how far I have come.

Deep down I know everyone has their own challenges and burdens. We all feel inadequate in our own ways. The struggle is to not let our self proclaimed inadequacy rob our happiness and self love.   We must realize that how our bodies are shaped, how our clothes look, whether our dinners look like they do on Pinterest, or how much money we make, does not define our worth or value. We are not only successful when we reach our goals, but have little success along that way that should be celebrated each and everyday.  It is possible to have ambition and feel blessed with the life you have at the same time. 

Tip and Tools to keep my perspective in check:

When I feel myself getting down about not being a certain way or meeting a certain standard, I ask myself.

Did I wake up with a roof over my head and food in my tummy?

Am I am healthy and able bodied?

Do I have friends and family in my life who love me?

Do I make time for activities in life that I truly enjoy?

I tell myself.

Love yourself.

Trust yourself.

Don’t be afraid to fail and do things differently. 

Be patient with yourself.

You are enough.

Do not let goals define your worth.

When we have perfectionistic tendencies we have a difficult time with gratitude because we are always striving for the next best thing. It is not about the destination, it is about the journey.  It is about the journey and the ups and downs that come along with it. When we start to think about our lives in this way, we can expect that things will not always work in a smooth, straight predictable line and that is ok. As much suffering and pain we experience in life, it is also full of goodness, meaning and beauty. Who we are is enough. If it truly does not matter, let it slide.

#GetGrateful Task

Write down 5 activities in life you truly enjoy and make you feel alive and wonderful. Next write down 5 quirks about yourself. Things that people seem to know you for. Things that make you, YOU! Repeat them out loud and love them!

Pumpkin, Protein, Oatmeal Pancakes

You might say I am forcing fall a bit, but as soon as October hits I am ready for sweatshirts, cozy plaid blankets, and pumpkin goodies. I love the change in seasons, even though Southern California’s are mild.

I am no cook by any means, if fact I refer to myself as the lazy cook. In all honestly I simply don’t like recipes that contain tons of ingredients and tons of steps. But I am not big into eating out every day of the week either.

I want to eat simple, healthy food that taste good.  Rich, creamy meals usually leave me feeling sluggish and low energy and over the years I have transitioned my tastebuds to the point where I crave healthy food more and rich food is not evening appealing. You can read more about my journey here.

My healthy eating strategies lie in finding meals that are simple to prepare and throw in a couple new recipes here and there when I feel inspired. In fact, my goal right now is to try one simple new recipe each week and create a simple eating recipe booklet. Pumpkin inspired me this weekend so here ya go!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I used cake batter, any protein flavor that will blend well with pumpkin)
  • 1 small packet of truvia or stevia
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together.
  2. Heat pan and coat with a cooking spray.
  3. Use a 1/4 cup to scoop a small amount of batter on pan.
  4. Cook until solid enough to flip and then cook on the other side until done.

Makes 4-6 pancakes, depending on the size.

I will top mine with peanut butter or a dollop of greek yogurt.

what you can learn from a plate of fries

Before fries…Real Quick. 

Next week I am super excited to open enrollment for my 5 Week Healthiest Self Refresh.  I created this because I had a new vision. I want to teach women how to develop an effortless way of healthy living . To free you from the diet cycle of on again, off again. Of restricting then indulging. Of time consuming workouts, then no workouts. Of all or nothing. There is an in between and I want to help you find it. Not by giving you an exact plan, but by helping you create your own way by changing your beliefs and changing your habits so you have the tools you need to move forward that you can use forever. Get on the wait list, or even if you are just curious and want more info, here.

NOW…

I find lessons in all areas of my life.  Sometimes it is on my walks watching the way my dog reacts to her surrounding, sometimes it is people watching at dinner, sometimes it is with a my plate of fries.

Last month on my vacation to Oregon I was at the airport with a 3 hour layover and grabbed lunch with my sister.  I usually order salads when eating out simply because they fill be up (with plenty of protein and fat thanks to chicken, bacon, cheese and avocado, dressing still on the side, not just lettuce cucumber and tomato) but on that day I was extra hungry and knew I needed something with not only that protein and fat but carbs too!

So I ordered a bacon, turkey sandwich and went to order my usual side salad but they said it was going to be $4.95. And I thought 5 dollars for a side salad which I know will be lettuce and croutons, no thanks. But my other option was fries.

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I did eat the entire turkey, bacon sandwich but I managed to leave most of my fries….

And if you have been with me for awhile you know that I do GREAT at sampling fries off my boyfriends plate. Although he kinda messed up my practice because this year he gave up fries for his new years resolution, which is a completely different story, for a completely different blog. Although I will say he has stuck to it like a champ!!

Anyways I have been so good and practicing this but I rarely practice ordering my own fries and moderating them. So within seconds I noted that this would be good *practice* for me to have my own fries and just have a few. I was actually a little bit nervous because what if I ate every single fry off that plate despite not being hungry. Because sometimes self control just goes out the window!!

But you know what? I had to practice, and I did. I ate half a sandwich and had a few fries. And then ate my other half and had a few more. This is not something I have always been good at. I used to eat them all and then I gave into the lazy way of self control. Just avoiding foods I can’t control all together. That way of thinking, while is a good way start, doesn’t really help us practice saying no. It is having to face the food you actually want and say now.

Now I have not always been good at his but I have practiced and practiced over the years and it has paid off!

So then do you know what the fries had me thinking?

How lucky am I? How lucky are we?

How fortunate we are that food is always be available to us?

I think sometimes we get so caught up in the idea that if we don’t have food and have it NOW that it won’t be available to us.

Like if we don’t have it now, we are saying no forever.

And alot of it comes into play because we tend to try to restrict ourselves and end up in this cycle of doing the same thing over and over again. Restrict, binge, guilt repeat.

But what if you changed your thought process and started to become more aware. Just because I don’t have dessert or wine tonight doesn’t mean I can’t have it tomorrow night. Just because I pass on food now doesn’t mean I can’t have it next week. Just because Girl Scout cookies are for sale now doesn’t mean I can’t get them next year when they are on sale.

How can you change? Start by using what I call my AAA formula.  

For every change you need an:

Affirmation + Approach + Action

You absolutely need to have the belief that you can change your ways. You need to have an approach (knowledge, desire, know how).  And you need to actually do it. When you are missing a link, nothing gets accomplished.

Once you change your belief that you don’t have to eat everything in sight, you need to learn how to apply it and practice it. And this is the strategy I will share with you today.

Practice saying no to food on occasion, when you are not truly hungry. Many times we eat food because it is circumstantial. Your co-worker brought in cookies, so you have one. Costco is giving out samples so of course you take them. It is a holiday, so you indulge. You have dinner at your moms so you clean your plate. You are at the movies so you need popcorn. The truth is, you do not need to do any of these things, unless you want them. Start to pay attention to when and why you eat, and if it is just because of the circumstance gently remind yourself that you do not have to. You can have the same foods tomorrow if you truly wish. Food will always be available to you. 

Because practice makes progress! And progress is what we want and need for growth! Next time you have the opportunity practice. You may eat it all the first ten or twenty times. But if you stick with it, you will get better. The only way you can’t improve is if you give up.

Again be sure to get on the wait list for my 5 Week Healthiest Self Refresh program. Because the answer is not to eat less and less and to work out more and more. The answer lies in your Affirmation + Approach + Action!

Guilt is not going to help you

AJ-21-1When it comes down to it guilt is not going to you. Or me for that matter.

I spent years in the eat, guilt, eat, guilt cycle and I really wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. Because the thing is, guilt doesn’t change our choices, it does not undo our mistakes and it sure doesn’t motivate us to do better next time.

I have been socializing and traveling a lot of more in the past couple months than I ever usually do and this use to be hardest for me because I was “off” plan. I would have food and drink that I normally won’t “on” plan as I was super rigid with my diet. And even with as rigid I was, my body didn’t change a whole lot. Sure it did when I nailed it for a month, but in the big picture, the more I worked out and the stricter I was with my diet, the less change I saw.

And if you have experienced any similar feelings I really feel for you because it is no fun and I if I am going to eat something a little more indulgent I would rather just not feel guilty all together. I recieved great feedback from my email about this topic and though I get a bit more personal in my newsletters I wanted to give you a few ways to work through these guilty feelings.

3 Ways to not let guilt hinder your progress.

Accept the reality of the situation. 

When you simply start looking at the situation for what it was, not what it should have been, everything changes. Because when you look at it simply for what it is, you have nothing to compare it to. One of my favorite perspectives is from Byron Kaite. Ask yourself what you are without that thought?

I ate too much.

What are you without what you should and should have not done? What is the reality without the emotion attached to the thought? It simply is that you ate to much.

When you are able to look at the situation for what it is not what it should be, it takes away a lot of the struggle, the suffering and the pain.

Forgive yourself.

There is not point in stressing over something that you simply can not change. Move on and grow stronger. Feel what you need to feel and move on quickly.

Compassion is a greater motivator than criticism and studies actually show that. Guilt and resentment keep you in the past and forgiveness and acceptance keep you  moving forward.

Practice gratitude.

I go in spurts with how I practice gratitude. Some days I journal, some days I shoot a friend a text or email, some days I let my mind wander and think about all i have to be grateful in my life. Because perception is everything. We can view the world as full of opportunity or view it full of misfortune. It is all in how you choose to view it, even in the lowest of moments.

From scratch, healthy homemade cookies

I am not a fan of recipes and even when I follow one I tend to alter or adjust it almost all the time. This leads to creating my own recipes though I am the biggest non cook you will ever meet. I just don’t enjoy it most of the time. BUT everyone once in awhile I like trying something new or find myself in awe over my creations completely from scratch.

My sister and I actually created this recipe just with what she had in her kitchen.  We kind of winged it (“yeah lets throw some of that in there) so the measurements may not be exact. Feel free to add your own goodies or adjust the recipe as you wish.

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Ingredients:

2 mashed bananas

1.5 cup of dry oatmeal

1/2 cup of coconut flour

2 TBSP of honey

1/4 cup of Sunflower Seed butter

Sprinkle of baking soda

1 tsp of vanilla

A huge handful of chocolate chips (ok two huge handfuls).

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Mash bananas and mix together all ingredients.

Place in cookie shaped sizes on a foil lined sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

 

 

What my mother gave me: the gift of imperfection

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Putting things in perspective even at a young age. 🙂

My mom always told me that when I grew up I would take the things I liked about her and her parenting and I would use them as my own and the things I did not like so much I would leave behind. I always have admired the bravery and authenticity in this statement and admission of imperfection.  That she was doing her best, the best way she knew how and it was ok if I did not agree with her 100%. I did not have to follow in her footsteps 100%.

And I have found that while growing up  this has happened almost automatically.  I have taken with me the things I work for my approach in life and set the rest aside. This Mother’s Day I want to share my moms top 3 pieces of advice that were ingrained into my brain. So much in fact, that now a days I just laugh when she gives me this advice. Because she still does.

Put it in Perspective.

I remember coming home from a shopping trip mad because I didn’t get the shirt I wanted, was annoyed by my sister, or complained if I had to eat peas at dinner. My mom would always respond by telling me to put it in perspective. “There are people out there who are not as fortunate as you. You should feel blessed for what you have.” And even at a young age, it was really easy to understand, and really hard and frustrating to argue, because I knew she was right. To have food, clothes and love in abundance was a luxury that some did not have. So that is where my perspective mindset began.

We have 100% control of how we view ANY situation. From the worst of the worst we have control of how we will work through it and how we will come out of it. And yes life happens and we will be faced with the unbearable at times. But on a day to day basis, I would rather put every situation in perspective to lessen misery, resentment, frustration and anger.

I do this by asking myself.

How can I turn this situation around?

Can I see this from some else’s point of view?

What do I have to be grateful for in this moment? 

I know this stuff is tough and takes practice. It is something I still work on from time to time but it does become easier and require less conscious effort as you practice it. I can chose to view the world through a lens of possibility and opportunity or through the lens that everyone is out to get me make me miserable. No thanks. I’ll take the first.

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Something does not have to be perfect to be beautiful.

This story could be another blog in itself but to sum it up quickly. My grandparents were traveling through Germany in the 1970’s and my grandfather wanted to buy my grandmother the ring he wished he could have given to her when they got married. So they settled on a gorgeous 2 carrot diamond set on a ever so thin band to replace the “itty bitty diamond ring that I borrowed $150 from my father to buy.” Words of Grandpa by the way. The jeweler, in being transparent, told by grandparents that while it was a beautiful stone, it did have a small flaw that you could see with the naked eye. And it did but my Grandma replied that she was still interested by saying “Something does not have to be perfect to be beautiful.” I think my Grandma was ahead of her time with her positive psychology thinking and this perspective was passed down to my mom who passed it down to my sisters and I.

 I think sometimes we get so caught up in perfection, that we ignore reality and the concept that perfection is an illusion. I can’t tell you how many times I get consumed with constantly trying to do everything! Why can’t I do it all?  But instead of comparing my sad looking dinner, my un photogenic closet, my failed workout, or Lulu’s never ending dog hair around the house to  pictures on Pinterest, maybe I could just give myself a pat on the back and tell myself that I am  doing the best I can. And that sometimes I just need to let my best be good enough.

I have to remind myself that “perfect” does not guarantee pain free living. We start to associate doing every thing right, (being perfect) with automatically bringing happiness and joy into our lives. And when we do things wrong, (when we are not perfect, act perfect, or look perfect) it represents that we are not worthy. It is ok to strive to do our best but I don’t think this works unless we have some compassion for ourselves along the way. We are all just trying our best and our best does not have to be perfect to be beautiful, to be accepted, or to get things done.

Soak it.

Ok so this is somewhat of a joke because my mom’s remedy for everything seems to be to soak it. Growing up whether we had a tired body, a headache, were stressed, had a blister on our toe my mom would draw up a bath and tell us to soak it. I think that was my mom’s way of saying that we can’t make everything better but we can try. And if we can just focus on the positive we can make it through with less pain and more joy.

You see, my mom is one of the kindest, most warm hearted people on the planet. She is the master at killing people with kindness with the genuine interest to make their day better. Growing up my mom would do things like this. “Let’s see if we can make this cashier smile. She looks like she is not having a good day.” I would roll my eyes in embarrassed as my mom would chat with the cashier, give them a compliment or two, and it was obvious in her approach that there was no way they could really not be nice back.

She would almost always get a smile out of the person. And you know what I did yesterday at the grocery store. I started chatting with the cashier, giving her compliment, and wishing her a great weekend. As I was walking out of the store I was thinking about how nice it is to just make connections with people. To go out of our way to give a compliment or be nice. To extend that extra gesture of kindness when we really do not have to. And it was not until I this very moment, writing this blog, that I realized exactly where I got that from. My mama.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and to all the mom’s out there.

I asked on and off social media for the best advice you ever received from you mom and I just love the responses I got back.

“To be a smart, confident and kind woman with manners.”

“To be ME. And to never let anyone influence me to do otherwise.”

“That a mom’s most important role is to raise good humans…no matter what they do as a career, what’s inside is what matters.”

“To go with my gut.”

“Have a kind heart to heart others and be your true genuine self.”

“Have a magnanimous heart.” ( Had to look it up. Magnaminous: generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness: noble).

Cameron Diaz said what?!?

IMG_1598Awhile back I saw Cameron Diaz being interviewed on Oprah. Gorgeous, glowing and ever so sweet and vibrant, she sat chatting about everything from movies to body image. Oprah asked her something along the lines of if she struggled with her body image at all? Did she ever even have a bad day?

“Of course I have bad days,” Cameron responded without even hesitating. “I have days where I look in the mirror I and don’t like what I see.”

This was an aha moment for me because it really opened up my eyes that I could have someone else’s body or physical qualities that I deemed “perfect” but still be unhappy or have bad days.

I completely acknowledge the value of wanting to feel confident in our skin and healthy in our own bodies but beyond looking a certain way, at its most basic element it is a choice. It is something we can make before reaching where we want to be whether that is improving our bodies or improving our jobs.

It takes a radical shift in our psychology and the way we think about ourselves.

Seeking out a certain look to just to feel validated or accepted really digs into our own insecurities and inadequacies of not being good enough. We think we we just just be leaner or just look a certain way we will be have all the joy, happiness, and good things in life we need.

In reality it is trap when we caught up in the “if, then” psychological mess of thinking that, “if” we looked a different way, “then” we would be happier. It is a comparison trap really.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

You have heard this before I am sure but have you ever thought about a day when you feel like you are rocking it and then you see someone else rocking it too and suddenly your achievements and “goodness” don’t quite measure up?

Remember the woman with the perfect body, she has struggles too. The effortlessly matched fashionista, may not view life as effortless. The successful business person may not enjoy the work like they are portraying. The parent who seems to have everything together, may just be trying to hold it all together.

We all feel inadequate in our own ways. And while we are all so different, this is an area where we are the same. The challenge is to not let our self proclaimed inadequacy rob our happiness and self love. We must realize that how our bodies are shaped, how our clothes look and whether our dinners look like they do on Pinterest do not define our value or worth. (I know you have had that Pinterest thought before). 

You are not only successful when you get to where you want to be but you have little successes along the way that should be celebrated each and everydayIt is possible to have ambition and feel blessed with the life you have at the same time. 

Learning to embrace the journey is what life really is all about. Once one goal is met, another is usually created because we are not usually most happy not when we achieve something, but when we are engaged in the process itself.

How do I shift my thoughts?

 

I want to give you simple question to ask yourself when you are struggling. It could be with body image or anything else in life, from relationships to your parenting or career.

In the book, Loving What Is by Byron Katie and she points out a valuable question that I have started to ask myself during moments of comparison, when I am having trouble in a relationship, or feeling stressed. 

What is one stress-free reason to believe that thought?

What is one stress free reason to believe someone is more attractive, more successful or “better” than you? What is one stress free reason to compare? You may find a stress free reason and if you do, that’s fine. If you cannot find one, release your feelings, release your thoughts.

Because at that point it is only your perception holding you back, keeping your from happiness and joy. It is only your thoughts controlling you. The beauty is, you can change those thoughts as difficult as it may be sometimes, you have the power.  Seriously? Yes seriously, and this is very exciting because it is all on you. But instead of being burdened with this personal responsibility, get excited. It is all on you, to change your thoughts, to change your way of living if it does not serve you currently! 

Focus less on what others are doing and more on what you are doing. Honor your own journey and all you have to offer to yourself, to your relationships and to the world around you. And remember that someone else’s success, beauty, and achievement does not diminish your own.