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Similar to eye-candy, we have thought processes that 'light us up' or
motivate us to create and develop an idea.
I call this #braincandy.
3 min read
When I first started teaching cycle classes, I came up with this interactive combination of words to motivate my class to climb. I only used it once in a while, but I found it to be effective in pulling just a lil’ bit more out of my people.
Near the end of the class, when everyone had to climb seated (Yes, climb seated), I began asking them to fill in the blanks: “What are you working on today? Fill in the blanks you guys…” After a minute or so, I would have them stand and continue to climb.
“Increase your gear and climb”, “I CAN…. I AM… I WILL…" I tended to use music that would push them in that way like “Thorn In My Pride” by the Black Crowes.
How would you fill in those blanks? It’s true that when you are in a fitness class you want to get lost in the movement, lost in the hour, and maybe, lost in the music. Going deep may not be where you want to go when you arrive in a fitness class, but I’m hoping if it ever happens to you, you go with it.
That shit is important. Yes, I know, you are already pretty vulnerable in that state, but I urge you not to ignore the connection that is to be had. Honestly, though, I wasn’t too sure why I had been “going there” at that particular point in my career, but I have learned that when things come up — ideas, opportunities, questions — I have to address them, use them, and explore them. There is definitely a reason and here is one of mine…
A woman who had frequented my cycle class came up to me one day after class and asked if she could share something with me. I, of course, said yes. She began to tell me the story of how, a few months ago, she walked in on her teen attempting suicide.
I remember thinking, “How the fuck am I going to handle this really heavy shit that was just handed to me?” But I also specifically remember thinking, “This is not about you Missy. Stop! Listen.”
She went on to tell her story through tears but then finished by saying how my words of encouragement had been helping her to continue to care for herself in spite of what was happening in her life.
We shared a sweaty hug and became fast friends and spent many afternoons crying, laughing, and sharing stories of love, loss, dysfunction, and humor. I found my purpose through her. Not trying to sound all altruistic, but inside all of that, I learned that I CAN have a purpose in this industry, I AM a good person with good intentions, and I WILL continue on this path wherever it leads me.
In our life’s journey reaching forward toward our goals, lest we forget to reach out on our way there? The uphill battle where we dig our heels in and pull on that battle rope is definitely worth the focus and will. But I am here to say that the good stuff - the learning, connecting, and LIVING - is happening while we run our fingers along the unsanitized escalator handrails.
Reach outward to people, experiences, and time. As much as I support the #goals movement, I also notice the wisdom and learning that we acquire on our way there.
That was not the last time a personal story was shared with me after I taught a class. I started to realize that my position as an instructor and trainer was way more than the numbers on a scale, kale on the plate, or buff biceps.
I came to realize that all people want is care. No matter how it presents itself or where they go to get it, it’s all we really want. We are all so busy pushing forward, wondering why the damn line is so long, or the WiFi is so slow that we forget the importance of looking right and left. I’m afraid we may be missing the point.
Listen, by no means am I trying to tell you something you don’t already know. I am hardly enlightened. I am not trying to lay on guilt (Oh God, that again). I’m just writing words as they come to me in an attempt to draw you into who you are supposed to be, and who you are supposed to connect with.
Guess what? I’m doing the same thing — feeling around every day, doing my job, raising these kids, and loving this man of mine. Looking for the right way to just fucking BE.
5 min read
The more I think about the topic of self-care, the more I start to wonder when was the time that I started to feel like my time was better spent not caring for me and only focusing on everyone else. I feel I can be honest with you (without appearing like I’m bragging) and acknowledge that since I have spent a good portion of my life in the fitness and wellness industry (more than 25 years and yes, I started when I was 10;), the habits of exercising and eating healthy come naturally to me.
However, my mind’s health has been neglected and anyone who has children or aging parents (or both) understands the focus, time, and patience it requires.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When I was in the thick of raising my two babies, it is all I thought about. It’s all I cared to think about. They are teens now, and I have to stop myself from continuing to obsess over them (this doesn’t always go well as I hand my son a baggy of chopped apples, and ask him if he wants to take them on the bus. Ahem, the CTA bus. "Ummm, no Mom.").
But within the caring and planning, doing, and driving, it is easy to lose yourself. Dare I say lose your mind? Lose the "umph" and importance of self-care, mind, body, and soul.
I also have this thought: Why do I feel I am being selfish when taking the time to care for myself? And if I don’t totally feel it, why the hell does it even cross my mind? Maybe you may say, because our time isn’t always our own and that since we do have families, it is now our duty and obligation to put them first.
Well, yes, I agree with that. But how then can we find a balance? Sooner, rather than later, would be ideal wouldn’t you say? Balance. How I love the sound of that! Balance of the mind. Balance of the body. Jesus! Balance of the soul! Bring it on! But wait, maybe fear is also there, tucked down deep like the fitted corner of our bed sheet. Fear is stopping us from taking better care of ourselves.
You fear that maybe if we care too much for ourselves it will appear as though we are selfish, that we are not caring for our families. Therefore, we must be idling our time away at the gym, or salon, or yoga studio, or library or ... lawwdy-lawd-LAWD - that’s a thought pattern that is not going to end well; worrying about what others may think.
Shit. It is so hard to control, but we can handle this. First of all, who gives an F what anyone thinks. Honestly, no matter what you do people will judge you.
Everyone has preconceived notions as to how a mom should behave and/or cultural beliefs as to what we should be doing with our spare time. Whatever. Who cares. Trying to let it go when it is just a simple thought is where you want to focus.
So are you ready for this? The key here is to feel it. Feel the fear, the discomfort, the eyes on you, the doubt, the judgment, and the wonder. Feel ALL of them, move through them, then move on. Don’t ignore or push these emotions down. Don’t go along with them either. Move through them, then keep going.
I have personally struggled with a lot of self-doubt. Even though my lifestyle is very 'out there', the truth is, I’m quite introverted and anxious (which is fear-based).
Maybe that doesn't make sense. Especially since I was raised to believe that I was very talented and that whatever I do I could succeed (as long as I wasn’t lazy. Okay Dad.)
But something else was learned along the way. You'd better not believe it. Don’t for a second believe yourself to be that talented, smart, and able. Portray it. Don’t believe it. Well hell, isn’t that the brain-fuck of my life?!
They say the first step is knowing. I believe the second step is healing, and the third step, well, you’re here with me now so I suppose it is sharing and helping others.
So, wherever you are in your journey to self-care, think deep into what is motivating your thought patterns. You don’t have to go as far back as your childhood (but I wouldn’t stop you). Feel that shit and acknowledge it. Those psychological patterns will shape your self-care decision making.
Self-care and self-love are my babies now. It is hard, and every day is different. I move two steps forward and three back some days but that is the journey I’m on now and it’s okay.
My kids are growing and even though they need me every day, they also need their freedom and independence. I’m cool with that. Sometimes. But when I focus on my self-care (mind care and self love), it makes it all a little easier.
You know how when you first fall in love, how you never question your intentions, motivations, or your next move? All the love pours out very naturally. Think about how you can love yourself like THAT. Fall in love with yo-self! If you can do that, the self-care part will fall into place. I promise.
4 min read
I have been working on this thought since my last note. Originally, I was thinking about habits. How to create good habits in our lives and maintain them. I even posted a meme that read: "Create Habits, Not Restrictions".
After posting and thinking about it more, I felt it was not at the essence of what I really want to say. It’s true we have to create habits; healthy habits that come naturally and are easy to maintain. But the word “restriction” is just fucked up.
Example, the concept of restricting oneself has a negative connotation. Even if we do restrict ourselves from certain foods, lifestyle behaviors, and toxic people, do we really have to put energy there and acknowledge it out loud? IDTS.
The hurdle we have to overcome is changing our mind about the behaviors we are trying to adjust. Now that’s a word I can get in to. Change; so simple with its hard “ch” and its creamy “n” and a little “j” at the end. Yeaaaah, baby!
If there are habits you are willing to change or habits you are thinking about that need to be addressed, take a chance on yourself. Believe in yourself throughout the rest of this note. Visualize the habits that you want to be a part of your life now. Have the creativity and confidence to see them whatever they are.
Waking up earlier to go to the gym, planning a walking group at work, or getting together with friends to attend that 5K or community family fitness event. Going to that Pilates class you’ve been noticing on Facebook. No idea is out of reach!
Now that you see yourself doing, have the confidence to write it in your calendar (Yes, I still write in a paper calendar) or type it in your phone. Have Siri remind you a day before, 6 hours before, 3 hours before, an hour before you are GOING.
Habits are not easy to create, I’m not going to lie about that. But if you believe in yourself and your ability to maintain the confidence to follow through, it WILL happen for you. And don’t underestimate the power of people. Now what the hell do I mean by that? It is okay to connect with people with common goals and interests when you are striving toward those healthy habits.
I mean, I don’t know but maybe the people you see on the regular aren’t exactly the most motivating or positive? Or maybe they are and you need to step up? Either way, evaluate what’s happening around you. Evaluate your surroundings and if your plan means stepping away from one group of people and joining another, it is ok.
We are all adults here and making new friends is cool, right? It is amazing what happens when you smile, open your heart and your mind, and check new shit out. Seriously!
Confidence. Yeah. There is something about this word that invokes a scoop of pompousness and dollop of guilt. Hear me out. I know that sounds strange but personally, yeah, that is how that word makes me feel.
Come on Missy! Have confidence! But could that possibly mean I will appear to be full of myself? Or what if I go for it and behave confidently and fail? Or what if my confident behavior gets me in trouble? Ooooow! Here comes the guilt.
Here comes the feeling “Who am I to think I’m so great/smart/talented/knowledgable?”. Well, who am I NOT to think those things? Stay with me here. Who am I NOT to do my best, show my strengths and talents, share my gifts and my caring nature?
I am not serving myself or anybody else for fuck’s sake! Confidence, at it’s core, takes a lot of gumption. I know it. You know it. Errrrrybody knows it. But for the right cause, your health, and others’ health, a change for the better, you can’t go wrong by exploring it. Explore the prerequisite to change: Confidence. I got you. YOU got you.
Our Deepest Fear
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others
Excerpted from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles by
4 min read
Indulge me for a minute or two while I ramble about the weakness of our minds. How we talk ourselves out of shit every day. Important or unimportant, we are busy manipulating our decision making. I decided to get up at 5:45 this morning instead of 5:15. I convinced myself I really didn’t need to review my notes from the day before, that I’d have plenty of time later (which I didn’t).
I bickered with myself at breakfast knowing the Ezekiel bread was my best choice with my egg, but had the slice of classic Turano instead. We spend a good portion of our days convincing ourselves to move forward with an idea, or shut it down. I’ll be honest, I have spent way more time shutting down my own ideas than I’d like to admit--but that’s a note for another day.
We spend countless hours deciphering if we should go all the way with a plan, or just slip our hand up the proverbial shirt then stop there. I’m talking about the all-encompassing, underappreciated, hyper-important plan to exercise.
Are we doing it? Are we not doing it? Are we starting the regimen? Are we waiting 'til next week? Are we meeting our friend for the cycle class? Are we skipping it because we need to go shopping or because we’d rather catch up at work? Or watch Netflix? Or... or... or... countless other excuses we come up with that seem to be more important, but we just end up disappointing ourselves.
We certainly don’t acknowledge or admit it. Too painful. So, we ignore how we treat ourselves. We wouldn’t stand for someone continually disappointing us, but we will do it to ourselves. Repeatedly.
The mind is obviously the most dominant force in our bodies. It talks, we listen. And if we listen and allow our minds to go along with all the little lies and discount the things we know are important, we will find out that we are not really being true to ourselves.
The reality is that our mind needs exercise just like our bodies. It is a muscle that needs to be worked. We need to build that muscle’s strength and discipline. Strength and discipline are learned.
Discipline is basically creating habits. You have to build the brain’s capacity to believe we can do all the things we plan. To believe the disciplinary habits are worthy of your time and energy and build its capacity to live up to its own ideas and aspirations.
Strengthen the mind and the body will follow. Just like the biceps muscle needs repetitive flexion and extension to increase its strength and tone, the mind needs repetition for the same reason.
Sit down and write a list of ten great things you believe about yourself. Words, phrases, whatever comes to mind. Right around three you will re-read. To get to five, you will think about what other people have said they like about you, and to get to ten, you will start writing what you want to believe about yourself (which is probably true about you, but it’s hard to believe and commit to — cue all the reasons you have ever beat yourself up over not being worthy of anything good. Again, a note for another day).
Read this list every friggin’ morning. Like clockwork. Read it, live it, and believe it all, even on days when you roll your eyes at it. Create flash cards and keep them in your purse, backpack, or briefcase. Train your brain to believe you are honest, committed, worthy, strong, and whatever your list is, keep it in the forefront of your mind. After a few days, you will start to think about your list at random times during the day.
Maybe when you are feeling like shit, and you just need to get your head straight. Or when you are feeling good because you have lived up to a belief on your list. Feel proud of yourself! Why not? Sometimes your only friend is you, so treat yourself kindly, because the things on that list are all true.
After a couple weeks of brain strengthening, make a plan to exercise and stick to it. Yes, you are worthy of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. No, you were not predestined to have the same health issues as your family members. Epigenetics anyone? You have energy and motivation, and you believe in yourself. Remember? Now get started.
If you are already exercising but haven’t yet reached the goal you are striving for, move forward with it now. Keep positively reinforcing yourself, and don’t allow yourself to waver. It is true that we all have days where our best is less than we expect. Accept that at the moment, then get right back up (literally and figuratively) and GET TO IT.
Believe in yourself and your brain’s strength to pull you through. Our bodies are plenty strong and can handle way more than we think. It’s our GD brain that tells us we can’t.
Strengthen the mind and the body will follow.