Meditation wrap up

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So I’ll admit that I didn’t follow my original plan to a T. But that’s ok! Meditation is a part of my daily routine now. I wake up each morning, start the coffee maker, and hit the yoga mat. Depending on the day I have ahead of me, I have been searching on youtube for the desired length meditation. For example, “20 minute guided meditation”.  Headphones have helped drown out any other sounds of the household (crazy cat).

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The benefits I have been enjoying are spanning the physical and the mental, work life and personal life. I mentioned previously that I am able to almost zone out and focus on a task, like grading 160 boring multiple choice tests, better than I ever have before. I am reading faster. I am running further without injury or strain. I am calmer and a million times more patient with both my two young children and teenage students. I am slower to anger and much more aware of my small, connected existence to the universe.

It has also been a nice foundation to my entire day! After meditation, I pour myself a cup of coffee and sit at the table with my phone and craft my daily to-do list a la Chalene Johnston. Her 30 day PUSH course is awesome and FREE! Highly highly recommend it. I am able to review my day ahead with a clear head after meditating.

I also love that it’s a tool to reboot if my stress levels get too high. I will spend 15 minutes of my lunch or after school with the door locked and speakers blaring. It’s not as easy if things get out of hand at home. Preschoolers don’t like to leave you alone for long. 🙂

I would encourage anyone to give this healthy habit a serious shot! It was hard at first, learning to calm my thoughts and be still. Don’t give up! It took me a good two weeks to get to the point where I felt like I was actually meditating. Since I started this journey, I have found numerous articles and research about mindful meditation helping in a range of situations, from breast cancer patients to inner city school children.

Tell me, did you try? How did it affect you if you did? Or are you going to re-commit? Don’t worry, the wagon is always there to jump back on.

Small Changes we ALL can do to be happier and healthier in 2014!

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Many times the overall process of “dieting” and weight loss can be overwhelming. A before and after shot that is a year apart might be super impressive, but the thought pops in: “I can’t do that. She/he probably changed their whole lifestyle!” And the year… that’s a long time. I get that.

It doesn’t have to be so overwhelming though. Of course, if you have the drive and commitment to totally revamp your lifestyle then please do it! For most people though, we need to take baby steps. Ease our way in. Unfortunately that usually leads to disappointment as small changes often bring about little to no change in the short term and let’s face it; Americans aren’t too interested in the long term. We want to do the minimal amount of work but get the large payoff. Fit bodies that you see on various instagram feeds for “fitspo” (fitsporation = fitness and sport inspiration) feature models and athletes that dedicate HOURS a day to wellness. It is a fine goal, but I wish more of them would show more real people with real lives, families, and jobs. We need to be motivated by other things than looking hot in a sports bra. Truly, that is not what matters, and just like those victoria’s secret models, the fitness models are a very small percentage of healthy and fit humans and should not be looked at as an ideal.

Recently Howard Schatz’s photos of female Olympic athletes revealed how different and amazing we women look even at peak performance levels. Yes, they all train differently, but every one of those women are considered the best of the best. And they don’t all look like lingerie models.

In 2014, I challenge you to think about your health and fitness goals. Stay away from anything aesthetic. Instead, focus on what you want to be able to do. Run a 5k. Play with my kids without getting tired. Get through a work day without getting tired. Decrease my blood pressure. Increase my immune system. Be more productive at work. Sleep better. Have better sex. Whatever. Just try to stay away from “I want to be hot! Bikini season!!!!” I have a daughter, and I’m a high school teacher, so I feel a personal responsibility to promote fitness for health and not for looks. And to spread the word that while a few small changes in our daily lives might not make us fitspo material, your quality of life will improve.

A few small changes to our daily lives that ANYONE (yes, even you) can make are:

  • drink water as soon as you wake up
  • stand on one foot when brushing your teeth to practice balance. switch feet morning and night.
  • use coconut oil instead of butter in most recipes, even spread on toast.
  • whole grain/ whole wheat breads/pasta/rice instead of white
  • cut out or cut back on soda. (switch back to regular instead of diet if you are just cutting back. Diet = chemicals = two thumbs wayyyy down!)
  • sit up straight when at your desk or driving your car
  • take the stairs
  • park farther away
  • Unplug when you eat – no phones/email/social media. Better yet, if the weather is nice, eat outside! Listen to nature/traffic and people watch.
  • Meditate. Even 10 minutes a day helps calm the mind and focus throughout your day.
  • drink a glass of water before you eat every meal. You’ll eat less and chances are you need the water.
  • Use more herbs/seasoning and less butter/cream/cheese in your recipes.
  • breath deeply and consciously a few times a day. I like to do this at red lights.
  • walk your dog twice a day. Jog/walk in mailbox intervals. “today I am going to jog one mailbox further than yesterday and walk the rest.” Your pooch will thank you too!
  • Laugh. Every. Day.
  • Pick a full body exercise and do a set while the coffee is brewing. Push ups, burpees, planks are all good choices. Every couple of days add one or two reps to the set. You’ll be surprised how much stronger you will get with 25 pushups every morning.

This is not an exhaustive list, but you get the point. Pick just ONE or TWO and just try! See how you feel! Good? Great! Try another one. Before you know it, you might get the ball rolling to full-on wellness enthusiast. That’s how it happened to me. 🙂

Let me know what you are going to try in the comments below! Or have another idea to add to the list? Share it!

❤ Amy

Meditation challenge week 2

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Happy holidays, peeps! Hope it was full of love and family. I had a fantastic Christmas eve and day. The holidays are still rolling around here, as I have my baby brother and his lovely girlfriend in town through the new year. 🙂

On the Momstar (previous blog) I mentioned my new years resolution to try out a new positive habit every month of 2014. January is meditation, and I decided to start early. Last week I completed class one at http://www.onlinemeditation.org and it was… interesting.

I enjoy meditating. I already can tell that it is a very underutilized wellness tool. I am a skeptical scientist at my core but I could truly feel the energy. It may have been created by my mind because I wanted to feel it, but either way, the experience so far has helped my mindfulness, so what could it hurt? Even if it is pseudoscience?

A few hiccups:

  • Finding time. Even for 15 minutes, finding alone time where I am not solely responsible for the well-being of my two small children is difficult without sufficient planning.
  • Forgetting about the world around me. Hard hard hard. The hardest. I’m trying.
  • Posture. My posture sucks. If I am truly emptying my mind for a chunk of time, I am forgetting to remind myself to sit up straight. After 9 minutes my shoulders are almost touching my knees and my neck hurts.
  • Finding the optimal time to  harness my own energy. Let’s just say its not 10pm. ZZzzzzz….

While I intended to complete two classes a week, I only got through one so far. Oops. Ah well, good thing I started a month early. During the past two weeks I did meditate at least once a day almost every day. So I will chalk that up to a success! On to class two this coming week, Preparing yourself for Kundalini awakening. You can get to the class 2 page here.

Please comment below with your experience of class one! I’d love to hear what you thought. And of course start now with us! The course is free, online, and self guided. Get at it.

This would also be an amazing journey to take with a spouse/partner. Just saying. 😉

Happy meditating!

– Amy

*I don’t receive anything from the meditation site. I simply found something cool and am sharing!

New things, plus some begging.

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Hey all, and welcome. I really appreciate you stopping in. If you are a momstar reader (my previous blog), thank you thank you thank you for coming over here. With my future endeavors, it was important for me to have a more professional platform that was more focused on my goals. The switch has been a long time coming, but rest assured that I will maintain my same snarky self. Couldn’t stop if I tried.

So while construction is underway, please take a minute to subscribe/share/etc! Here I will be sharing information on all things wellness. Fitness tips and challenges, nutrition advice and recipes, and essays and discussions on personal growth. I want to get the most out of my life, and I want you to come with me. So please, share! (I’m not above begging 🙂 )

If you have any suggestions or ideas, please email me at stellawellsfitness@gmail.com.

Have a happy day!

❤ Amy