A month into the new year and I realize how often it is that I encourage others to go do what they really love to do. It’s easy to be weighed down by life circumstances. Living in this part of the world, once you have your basic needs met, we all have the same 24 hours each day to live our best life. A good friend once told me that time is our most valuable resource and we should choose wisely how we utilize it. I took that advice to heart and haven’t looked back. Time is also a perception (Einstein) and in the book the Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, there is a chapter where he goes over how we are the source of our time. I will state that once we take ownership of how we use our time we can find more time.
I have said many times that doing what you love to do is actually the most effective use of your time, because it is like having wind in your sails. Time may seem to pass by more quickly when we’re having fun and at the same time loving what you are doing gives you more energy to accomplish what you need to do in life. Nothing worthwhile is easy, it just feels easier when you have a high level of enthusiasm or passion to do the necessary work.
Very often people think about making money with what they love to do. Of course that is possible, but it is more important to make the leap to actually do what you love to do first, then the path is revealed. Often what we love to do is a creative pursuit and that is worthwhile doing just to be healthy! We all have something unique to express in the world and it is energy that must be expressed through the body- go do what you love to do!
The dark days of November and December are the time to really get extra serious about regular workouts. There’s lots of celebratory occasions coming up with extra indulgences, so regular workouts need to happen. No magic formula other than intention and commitment. Make a commitment to how much exercise you can realistically do in a week, have some flexibility on when and stick with the sessions even if the time changes.
Weight gain is much easier to prevent than it is to lose. I’m not a dieter by any means, although I do make a few guidelines for myself to follow for indulgences. Here are a few of them:
Keep yourself honest with your alcohol intake, record how many drinks you have in a week
Make a top 10 list of favourite party foods and stick with it. If it is not on the list, then leave it on the tray. Fried food is one of mine, and perhaps that is too broad a category
No sugary breakfasts. Healthy stuff starts the day off right and have fun later
Most of all, I get extra serious about workouts this time of year. Cycling classes have some extra challenges. Stay diligent with weight training. As my colleague told me, exercise really is the fountain of youth-
Love or hate Halloween, I think we can mark the day by being creative. I’ve gone through various phases in life where I was really into trick or treating, coming up with a costume as an adult, and now I enjoy seeing and hearing about the costumes the kids I know come up with. I’ve put together Halloween themed playlists for my classes the past couple years and have really enjoyed the creative process so much.
Better than new years resolutions, Halloween provides an opportunity to be creative in who you want to be for a day! I’ve discussed the book Atomic Habits a couple times this past week and the one takeaway message I carry is to find identity for the habits you want to build. Always a good exercise to consider what kind of a person you want to be- have some extra fun today, Happy Halloween!
I was introduced to body based meditation back in phys ed school where we were shown a variety of mind body practices. We did a body scan during the class while lying down and I fell asleep pretty much every time! I was also caught nodding off in class sometimes where my classmates were concerned for the health of my neck in how much it bobbed up and down quickly.
Even with many years of meditation practice behind me, it is still a significant risk for me to fall asleep during meditation while lying down. It amazes me how easily others in the field of yoga and meditation will diagnose me as exhausted and not doing the meditation properly. Having tried for 20 years, I have come to accept the possibility of a little snooze and enjoy feeling great afterward. The point of meditation is to relax, so snoozing a bit IS evidently changing your state to one of serious relaxation.
This month, I shared some meditation recordings at a class I covered and I would like to share them here:
This 20 minute meditation with the crystal bowls is incredibly relaxing and useful if you are ever up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling asleep again.
I was saddened to learn of Tina Turner’s passing last week. She was a great positive influence. I saw her in concert for her farewell tour. I knew some of her music and decided to get some tickets at the last minute and they were in the last row of the Air Canada Centre. She was an incredible performer, so I looked further into her music and watched the film What’s Love Got to Do with It. The only good part is her resilience and how well she did in the end. I read her book I, Tina, which was even more harrowing. She credits Buddhist chanting as the practice that helped her find her resolve to leave Ike.
I read her other books and additional books she referenced on Buddhism. It does have a positive effect, although I can’t say I’m a strong adherent of the practice of chanting. Either a gentle movement practice or more quiet stillness seems to suit me better. I did listen to a variety of chanting material and put together this playlist a few years ago, featuring Tina Turner:
The main mantra is Nam myoho Renge Kyo and I found a slower, easier to follow version with Deva Premal. The meaning takes some interpretation and I will not presume to truly know, although I understand the repeated chanting aids in purifying the mind and spirit.
The Good Gut is a book I recommend to anyone interested in learning more about their digestive health. It is easy and enjoyable to read with doable, practical research based advice given by the scientists themselves. One of the recommendations is to eat fermented foods such as yogurt on a daily basis. There are various foods listed including sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. I have been able to implement eating yogurt on a more regular basis. I started avoiding yogurt in the past decade or so, because the lower fat content and increased protein with ‘greek’ style yogurts was causing stomach upset. I tried coconut yogurt in earlier iterations and it was awful! I am pleased to report that coconut yogurt has improved immensely and I can recommend a few- Presidents Choice Organic Coconut Yogurt alternative and Riviera coconut milk vegan delight are a thinner texture yogurt and Simpla is a tasty, thick texture.
Digestive health is a daily maintenance project that you can monitor easily by observing what comes out the other end after eating and digestion. Choosing more vegetables and fruit, being conscious of eating enough fibre, being hydrated and having a bit of extra help with friendly bacteria in fermented foods goes a long way in improving and maintaining digestive health. Eating healthy food is one part and digesting, assimilating, and absorbing nutrients is the other part of the equation and having the right balance of friendly bacteria makes the process smoother from one end to the other.
Summer is finally here in Toronto and nothing like Canada Day to show some gratitude for where we live and all the privileges we have. I’ll be making playlists with Canadian artists all week long in celebration. I’m certainly grateful that fitness is back in action having lived through 2 years of virtual shutdown. Having the option of virtual meetings is a real positive result of the past couple years. Real life meetings, human interaction is such a welcome return. July also marks my start date as a fitness professional, this year being 22 years of ‘service’ which I feel incredibly grateful for, as I love what I do has only grown in that time. Happy Canada Day!
After a lot of consideration and talk, we completed the Hour of Power ride this evening at the Toronto Athletic Club. Our group had tested our functional threshold power (FTP) at a previous time and I had always wondered if that theoretical number translated to actual performance. When my FTP was calculated with a 20 min test, I felt very confident I could produce that power for an hour. When my FTP was calculated in February with an 8min test, I felt a lot less confident about my capabilities.
Armed with some very well selected tunes, we did a 15 min warmup and hit varying intervals of 95-100%, 100-105% set to the selected songs. I backed off and took a few ‘breaks’ of less than 1min here and there. Turns out I was able to complete the 60min with an average power that was 3 watts below my FTP, so that was a wonderful surprise! Our field test was a success. The ‘theoretical’ maximum power that you can ride for an hour, is a REAL thing provided that you actually push yourself during the test!
Circumstances don’t make a man, they reveal him. This is a quote from a Wayne Dyer that came to mind this week when discussing how to handle difficult times in life. It’s easy to make plans to guard ourselves against failure and heartbreak, but it doesn’t serve your highest good in the long term, as that strategy limits your growth and opportunities. Taking the attitude that you are being ‘tested’ by your circumstances allows more growth, learning and character building.
Dwayne the Rock Johnson also has a similar quote: When life puts you in touchy situations don’t say ‘why me’ just say ‘try me’
I laughed out loud when I saw the quote, as it takes a playful and tough attitude towards coping with situations. When we are tested we need to be better by taking the life lesson as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve.
It’s Chinese New Year, more appropriately named Lunar New Year. We celebrate in our family, although not to the same extent that is celebrated in Hong Kong. With another ‘new year’ so soon after January 1, I find it is a good opportunity to check in goals for the year. A friend asked if I had any resolutions and my response was I make goals at the start of the year, preferably on a beach. It was great to receive the feedback that I am someone who accomplishes what I set out to do which got me to consider how achieving goals works for me.
More than any other practice, I believe being true to my word is of utmost importance. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say is the foundation of being able to achieve any goal. The question becomes how do you create the achievable goals? If you have not read Atomic Habits by James Clear, I highly recommend the book. One of his key points is tying your goals to your identity, which I completely agree with to my point of being true to my word is embedded in my identity. I will also add for any goal the question of what kind of person do you want to be can be layered in to help clarify the goal. For example, for the goal of being fit, it requires time and effort with exercise and food choices, however, if you like to eat pizza and booze up regularly, you are unlikely to be ready for a fitness competition. You can try your best to have it all, but most of the time you need to prioritize what is most important to you. I make it my business to be fit, and I like pizza, booze and sweets, so I accept not being all that lean and identify with being a person who enjoys food. Unreasonable expectations derail goals, as it creates disappointment and you need to feel like you CAN and WILL do it to achieve goals.
One month into the year you can take stock of how things have gone so far and see what needs improvement and adjustment. Goals can always be adjusted. Being a flexible and adaptable person makes it easier to achieve goals. There’s a lot of ‘experts’ touting magical ‘routines’ that supercharge a person to be productive and I disagree. It is not the routine, it is the commitment and holding yourself accountable to working on what you need to do. Missteps and failures happen, so you need the flexibility to get back on track. Breaking down goals into smaller, more manageable chunks is helpful. Big goals are like a test of endurance and focus, so it pays to give yourself markers along the way. Wherever you are, clarify, adjust and keep going- yes you can, yes you will!
Welcome to Making Life Good, thank you for visiting. Our intention is to provide positive energy, motivation and ideas to make life good through being fit and well in every way. Please visit often, as we invite your questions, comments and suggestions in our shared path of health and wellness.