Tag Archives: exercise

If You Can’t Be The One You Love ~ Love The You You’re With

The newest experiment of Michelle’s “Finally Fit Forever” extravaganza is in full swing. I am in week 5 of the program and so far so good. As it turns out, 5 weeks is not long enough to attain that “smokin’ hot, swimsuit body” I’ve always dreamed of, but in reality I may have to wait for the next lifetime to achieve that particular goal.

At this stage in the game I am finding some pleasant side effects nevertheless. Sure, my jeans are a bit looser, my face a bit thinner, but most of all I feel better. I mean a lot better.

Years ago I was tested for food sensitivities and because of this, there are days I scan the refrigerator and the pantry and I find the only possible food options are a too ripe apple and maybe a tortilla chip.

On my not-so-cranky days I do much better.

What I’ve discovered over the past 5 weeks is that apparently when the doctor told me to avoid some of the particularly toxic foods I’m sensitive to, he meant it.

Weeks out I find the aches and pains so prevalent in the days preceding FFF are all but gone. I can run faster, jump higher and that pernicious limp due to unexplainable foot pain is receding into the horizon. It’s like the ghost I know I saw until it disappears and I wonder if I ever saw it at all.

Only more painful. And it really was there. For sure. We know this because you could see me limping.

Why is it so difficult to do what makes us feel well? Why are we drawn to things that might temporarily give us a kick but will in the immediate future make us regret our decisions?

The catalyst that brought about my FFF Extravaganza had zero to do with a lack of energy and all over body pain, and everything to do with 2 upcoming weddings and a class reunion.

Yeah…

The most difficult part of a change is getting started and perhaps it doesn’t matter what precipitates healthy change, what matters is only that we make them.

I do not get on the scale to see my progress because it makes me insane. I now measure success by how I feel, how I look and by the fact that I have a well-being about me that had long since eluded me.

I could not have foreseen how much better I was going t feel in just a few short days. And if history repeats itself, at some point I will forget to eat what makes me feel well and love myself not as I can become, but as I am.

meditation

Do me a kindness, would you? When I forget, will you remind me? And I’ll do the same for you.

Like, share, comment, tweet and if you can’t be the one you love, love the you you’re with… Mind. Blown.

Punch Monday In The Face ~ A List Of Ten Ways

A Sunday afternoon nap is a thing crafted by the gods and delivered on the wings of shimmering, blankie bearing angels. Monday morning wake-ups are made of tougher stuff and delivered without fanfare, never ushered in, but dropped on our doorstep like an unwanted orphan.

Regardless of the delivery, they are both realities. I needn’t advise you on what to do with that long-gone-nap-heaven, but I can help you with the grit that can be your Monday morning. Here, for you, I deliver ten things:

1. Doesn’t matter how quickly I jump out of bed, it takes me a good deal of time to “arise and embrace the day!,” unless, that is, I workout. I know, I know. It’s Monday AND I’m telling you to sweat. We’ll keep it simple if this is not your gig. Do some sun salutations, participate in some blood pumping jumping jacks or go all out and do a Beach Body workout. Quit whining and just do it. No one ever regrets working out. Never.
2. Put a bottle of water on the side of your bed and before you do anything else, drink that room temp, hydration down. Thirsty is never happy. We’re trying to get our happy on here. It’s the simple things that are magic and water is magic. Drink up.
3. Look, this is not a health blog and so I feel no shame in offering you caffeine. As I’ve mentioned, the hemp milk latte is made of the blood of the war gods. Learn it, know it, live it. You won’t be sorry.
4. Join me and Brian Tracy, say it like you mean it, say it loud as you throw yourself out of bed, “I feel terrrrrrrriffffffic!” You can mean it later.

Including Monday’s

5. Monday’s can be daunting so you want to look your best. Choose your favorite clothes to meet the day. It’s little, but it’ll help you throw those shoulders back and yell, “Come and get me, Monday! I knew you were coming, it’s why I put on my dancin’ shoes.”.
6. Plan a little something to look forward to. We never look forward to having to get out of bed, unless we have something awesome on the agenda. No one ever dawdles on their way to Disneyland. While Disney may not be on the program this Monday morning, there’s always room for delight and planning something for yourself today will take the edge off.
7. Ignore the email, Facebook or texting for just a little while. Make it an hour. At least. Wake up and spend a bit of time with yourself before you invite the entire world in. The better you know how you’re feeling as you go into the day, the better you can choose what to put into your day.
8. Eat protein. Like some eggs. At least eat some sort of breakfast. Don’t be like a moody sixteen year old skulking out the door with a “you don’t understand me” attitude on your shoulder. Fuel up and the world will thank you.
9. It’s never an option I start out with, but if the day is just too much, you’ve been running on empty for too long, perhaps it’s time to opt out of Monday. Close the curtains, make some popcorn and watch a BBC series marathon on Netflix. I suggest The Paradise. And no, this is not a good idea if you did it last week or even the week before. But every once in a while the world will keep spinning without you. Mental health day!
10. We each have our morning rituals that get us started and signal the beginning of the adventures before us. Taking a few minutes of meditation and contemplation, quiet time with you and your own version of God, perhaps it’s the only recommendation one needs. Breathe in, feel the energy surrounding you and know that regardless of the weather, it’s gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day.

Like, share, comment, tweet and seize this day as if it were the only thing you have, because it is.

sunrise yoga

To Hell With Resolutions ~ A List Of Ten Beginnings

New Every Morning

Every day is a fresh beginning,
Listen my soul to the glad refrain.
And, spite of old sorrows
And older sinning,
Troubles forecasted
And possible pain,
Take heart with the day and begin again.

Susan Coolidge

In love with each new beginning, a fresh year offers hope that didn’t feel possible when the year was tired and there was so much to be done for the holidays.

Every year I make my lists, I dream about the things that will be done and seen and experienced in the year to come. This year is not different. But rather than subject you to my own, personal goals which may or may not be quite similar to last year’s – oh I will finally get that weight off – I thought I’d keep the bar low here at Michelle At Play and I’ll share with you a few delights I am planning for myself in the year to come:

1. This is the year I will like myself all year long. When I forget, I will simply remind me to be nice to me. I deserve it. Just ask me.
2. I will say yes. Not like that movie with Jim Carrey, “Yes Man”, but like a person who isn’t afraid and yet knows life is fleeting and there’s more to it than Netflix and the easy way out.
3. And when I succumb to Netflix, as we all must from time to time, I will like myself and say things like, “Good girl. Self care is important,” and “This isn’t who you are, only what you’re doing this moment.”
loveyourself14. I will pay attention to my needs and not toss them into the street like bothersome children. Not that I ever did that to my children or anyone’s children… you get my meaning here.
5. In 2015 I will see the good in other people.
6. Best of all, in all situations I will assume the best. You didn’t call me back? You must be busy with something wonderful…
7. I will have faith. I will have faith in you and in me and in a loving Universe. Because it’s all a story and I’m the one telling it to myself. So I tell it with faith.
8. The year 2015 is the year to search for the magic, find it in every interaction, roadblock and mundane situation. If you search for it, you find it. At least you’re more likely to find it than if you never look for it.
9. This year I will take risks with my heart. I will put myself out there professionally and artistically and even, because I am very, very brave personally.
10. 2015 is the year I will lower the bar, raise the expectations and embrace who I am, who you are and what we can become together.

What about you?

Like, share, comment, tweet and pinch yourself to prove it’s not a dream.

A Personal Message To You From Fear

For most of my life, and certainly my entire adult life, I’ve been an avid athlete. I’ve run three half-marathons, run my share of relays, done Bikram yoga (Slip a disc you say? Why yes, yes I did.), walked, swam, done aerobics and spinning, p90x and a host of other things I don’t care to remember just now.

I don’t care to list them just now probably because I am doing something I’ve never done before.

My workout includes… nothing.

The beginning of the “end” if you will, began after my last half marathon, the Hippie Chick. They have cool swag.

I was worn out from training and I began an unorthodox workout that involved heavy breathing mostly. No, not that kind of heavy breathing. After several months of it and not feeling like I was going anywhere, I stopped.

Since that time last May I’ve done things from time to time; a few treadmill jaunts, a run here and there and a handful of “7 Minute Workouts”, but not the 5 or 6 day a week workout I’m accustomed to.

There’s no real way to put my finger on how exactly I feel about this. I’ve worked out regularly for so many years that at the very least it feels odd. It’s not guilt I feel. It’s not anxiety and it’s not even a longing for the workout.

At this point I will admit that not working out is currently a conscious decision.

For most of the last 28 years my workouts have had one underlying theme: Fear. I worked out because I was afraid I’d be fat. I worked out because I was afraid I was lazy. I didn’t want to be lazy. I didn’t want to be fat. I worked out because I feared I would be in some situation where I didn’t have the physical fitness required.

You know, like a zombie apocalypse. What’s the first rule of Zombieland? Cardio.

What I am doing now, well, what I am not doing now is a conscious decision to listen to my body. This is perhaps the most challenging workout I’ve ever practiced.

On one particular day, maybe ten years ago, when I was working with a personal trainer, I ran five miles, did 90 minutes of hot yoga and I gave blood. While that particular day was never, ever again repeated, the underlying theme of it has been with me throughout my exercise career.

“It’s never enough. You’re never enough. Run faster, jump higher and maybe someday your body will look like the cover of a magazine. And you will be worthy.

Love, Not Your Friend,

Fear”

I suspect my current non-workout workout will not continue much longer. What I am doing is listening to my body. For the first time, perhaps in my whole life, I didn’t eat pie on Thanksgiving because it didn’t sound good. That saved me more calories than a 4 mile walk.

When I meditate in the morning, I scan my body and I feel how that feels. It’s like yoga for my mind and it’s not as easy as you’d think. As soon as I feel like I have a good handle on this, I think I’ll add in something more than the occasional yoga pose or 7 minute workout.

What I won’t do, hopefully ever again, is work out in fear and loathing. At the end of the day it’s our intentions that make or break us and fear was never and will never be the power that gets us where we want to go.

Like, share, comment, tweet and intend to be your most beautiful self in all the very best ways.

Be careful in your self-care.
Be careful in your self-care.

Three Things You Should Be Doing Every Day

I have never had a day that turned out exactly as I’d planned. There have been days that grandly exceeded my expectations and days that took weird turns of epic movie worth. But never a day that was down to the point what I had planned.

Surely you’ve had the same experience. And we are each better for it. Every day arrives a complete mystery and with possibility positively brimming.

We cannot order The Universe about like some sort of subservient lackey. That’s true enough. But we can add ingredients into the cosmic soup of our lives that will at least add that dash of red that makes life yummy.

Every day should include something you look forward to. There’s no way around obligations to feed and house yourself and your loved ones, but no day need go by without something that makes the heart sing. It needn’t be a grand gesture, just a simple kindness.

(Ingredient Options: Your favorite drink, the 15 minute break you were afraid to take, the phone call to a friend that makes you smile…)

Personal makeovers rarely  (dare I say never) come about in one day, but link those days together like a string of pearls and you have the slow burn of self actualization. In order to do that, do something every single day in the name of personal wellness.

(Ingredient Options: Take a 5 minute walk, download the 7-minute workout and take it for a test drive, buy yourself a bottle for water and hydrate like you’re a desert dweller…)

jump the sharkLaughter is the best medicine. Sure it’s cliché but it’s also true on a cellular level. Lighten up and feel how good it is to be you. It’s not as easy as it was when we were kids, but schedule time to laugh, make entertainment choices that give you the giggles. And for the love of all that is holy, stop taking yourself so seriously. You’re human. There’s no shame in it.

(Ingredient Options: Youtube videos, Bill Murray and watching babies. They’re frickin’ hilarious)

Life is made up of so many ingredients that it takes God to order the whole business about. We have nothing at our disposal but a good attitude and the latitude to throw in a few ingredients of our own into the mix.

The ingredients you choose will make all the difference in your day.

Like, share, comment, tweet and jump the shark. Just for grins and in the name of The Fonz.

Little Known Facts About Monday ~ A List Of Ten

punch today
In the good way…

I believe Monday is the most unfairly maligned day of all the days. I get it. Working for the man has got you down, you may have participated in activities that have you a bit tired and worn out for the rest of the week. Sure. I really get it.

But what is often overlooked is the freshness of beginning the journey of new week. It has just as much potential to be THE BEST WEEK EVER! as it does to be a sorry status update on an increasingly bereft Facebook page.

I submit to you that Monday is sacred and can be utilized as such.

1. Admit it, if you’re tired, it’s not because it’s Monday, it’s because you may have engaged in nefarious activities that did not prove wise on your part. This is not Monday’s fault. I propose a Monday Eve tradition of hydration and sleep. Think about the implications…
2. A Monday morning ritual of your favorite warm beverage and a brisk walk could be a game changer. Think about your cells celebrating the new week with you, all caffeinated and aerated from your beverage of choice and your Morning Constitutional. Admit it, you wish you’d thought of this a long time ago.
3. Another day, another dollar. Sure, maybe you don’t want to work for the man but really, you’re working for yourself, for your family and for freedom and the American (insert your alternate reputable country here) Dream. Let’s keep perspective here.
4. Look, Monday’s are not for the faint of heart. But you’re brave. Walk out that door with your shoulders back, knowing you’ve got this!
5. For years Monday evening has reigned in our household as Family Night. It’s run the gambit as far as activities are concerned but it’s something fun every time. Maybe you’re alone, maybe empty nesting it, whatever. Set it aside as an evening of personal/social edification and put your own particular stamp on it. Or there’s always football…
6. They say to check your smoke detectors on the Spring and Fall Daylight Savings dates. Why not make Monday your day to put gas in the car or the night you have dessert or the day you have coffee with a good friend? Like, “Every Monday I look forward to…” fill in the blank. Okay, maybe not the gas in the car thing. I’m winging it here. It’s not all going to be gold.
7. Monday morning, and it’s not too late even if you’re reading this later, can be your day to take one baby-little step toward a dream. Vacation, education, fitness, whatever you choose. Who wouldn’t look forward to that?
8. At the end of a Monday, or the beginning of your workweek, whichever day that is, you know you’ve survived one more Monday. You’re the Queen/King of Monday. You made it your female dog and it bows to you, positively bows to you in defeat. Yeeeeeeah. Feels nice.
9. I’m all about owning your power, and giving it away to a day of the week seems like a huge percentage of wasted time. After all, how accurate are our calendars? For all you know it’s actually a Thursday based on the one, true, unknowable calendar. We may never know what day we’re really on.
10. Every day, Monday being no exception, is a day in which we can experience magic and wonder. It’s simply a matter of deciding and acting upon it.

Like, share, comment, tweet and pinch yourself because you’re so glad to be you. If you’re a hard pincher, pinch your neighbor instead.

Making The Impossible Your B*tch

I admit that after many years of working out, running, walking and yoga, as well a huge array of time-to-time activities, I consider myself an athlete. Not the kind of athlete I suppose Lance Armstrong would train with, but I don’t think he has much room to criticize at this point, but the – I use my body regularly and feel comfortable in a variety of physical activities – sort of athlete.

runningPerhaps it’s not as sexy as the hardcore kind, but it gets the job done.

Because I consider myself an athlete, it was quite a surprise to me that it was a huge challenge for me to get out on the open road again after a six-month time off of it.

Back in May I ran my third half-marathon. It went just fine. It wasn’t my best run, but it did not qualify as my worst by any stretch. It went fine. Just fine.

After the run I opted for an alternative type of workout. Not so demanding on my system, kind of unusual and you can do it in the car. I kid you not.

The truth of the matter is that I was tired. I was tired of harsh and demanding workouts. I was tired of hours of training and a workout you can do in the car made me happy.

Until it didn’t make me happy anymore. I started feeling anxious for the open road. I started feeling unfulfilled as I saw runners out in the sun. Slow ones and fast ones, middle aged, imperfection like myself, it didn’t matter. I just missed being out there. I missed feeling like an athlete.

I determined it was time to put my Nikes to the asphalt and reclaim the road. Except I didn’t. So I decided I would treat myself to some treadmill goodness, you know, start things out slow. But I didn’t do that either.

It was the power of inertia, the hellish abyss of inactivity and after six short months, I was in her evil grip.

It is a fascinating thing to behold, the magnetism of indolence. I mean, I’m an athlete, right? How could this happen?

Yesterday morning, before I could talk myself out of it, I finally took to the evergreen hills surrounding The Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Retreat and got myself out of her wicked grasp. Good tunes, good shoes and some killer running socks and I owned an hour of moving meditation. It was delectable.

Regardless of a true desire to try something new or something we’ve lost along the way, sometimes it is tantamount to impossible.

But it isn’t impossible. It is simply difficult.

You were made to do difficult things. We are creatures carved out to take on challenges and make them bow to us as we become athletes and artists and the kind of people who change the world, one little impossibility at a time.

What will you do today that you thought you couldn’t?

Ten Things I Would Tell You If I Were Your Best Friend

It’s a peculiar habit of human beings that when someone we love tells us something, we are more likely to disregard it. “You’re beautiful,” from a total stranger is taken much more seriously than from the ones we love. Ummm… that’s just weird.

Here are things I would tell you. If only you could believe me.

1. You really are beautiful. Exactly as you are. Perhaps you are not what the media is touting today. But you are unique and lovely. Today. No changes necessary.
2. You are wicked smart at some things. I don’t know for sure what they are, but I know you are necessary. You are needed. And you are brilliant in your offerings to the world.
3. If only you could believe that what matters most is not how the world is but how you perceive it. If you want to change your life, you can. Just change your mind.
shadow-friendship4. Most of the things you think are important aren’t. The regular interactions, the smiles and gentle touches, they are who you are and where you make your difference.
5. The more times you have failed the better. Other people, those who aren’t failing, they aren’t trying as hard as you are.
6. Please stop comparing your internal life to others’ external lives. You never know their demons. You don’t even want to know their demons. Just know that your life appears way more awesome to others than it does to you. Unless you change your mind. Then you can see the awesomeness too. Just sayin’.
7. Exercise is good. Not just good for you. It’s just good. And there are many forms of it. Try one today. I’m serious. Walking, dancing in your office, what we affectionately call “Squeezercise” at our house. Private message me and I’ll tell you all about it.
8. Obsessing never was success and it certainly wasn’t happiness. Whatever you’re obsessing about today, give it a rest. You will thank me later.
9. Look, I know you don’t want to do it. I know you think I’m weird. But meditation makes life better. It’s not brain surgery, though I would hope my brain surgeon meditated regularly. Just download an app and get started. Today. I’m not joking.
10. Give yourself some slack. Be nice to you. It will make it easier to be nice to others and we can never have too much of that in the world now can we?

Like, share, comment, tweet and no, you do not look fat in that dress.

This Advice Will Make You Crazy

The other day I chose not to read an article informing the world that it isn’t good for you to floss your teeth. And I had to think to myself, “Are you kidding me? Seriously?”

This type of information does nothing more than make me tired. So very tired.

I suppose the fact that I have spent much of my life in pursuit of a healthy body, I’ve come to understand that sometimes enough information is enough information and so I eschewed this “new” information and each night I floss my teeth. I’m going to let those chips fall where they may.

Staying somewhat abreast of the latest science and studies is great. You do that. But at some point enough is enough and too much, well that’s just crazy-making.

I’ve read the a ton of parenting books, I’ve read studies about diets and wellness and at one point or another I’ve paralyzed myself emotionally and physically.

Running is good for you. It is bad for you.

Carbs are good for you. They are bad for you.

Eat mostly protein. Too much protein is bad for you.

Let kids raise themselves. Be a Tiger Mom.

Kids need a ton of structure. Let them roam free.

For all the things I’ve read, I am clear that Coke Zero and Chick-O-Sticks have never, nor will they ever be, considered health foods. Mores the pity.

And so it goes and so it will always be. There will be helpful information out there and there will be information that contradicts it. As human beings trying to live the best lives possible we can sometimes gorge on information and well-intended advice. At some point we’re going to have to give in to the best advice of all: Use your brain. Moderation in all things. You do you.

I through that last one in just because I like it so much.

Like I said, I’m going to floss my teeth. Every night. It makes me feel good and you know how I feel about dental care. I’m going to parent the best I can and have faith that life will treat my progeny those things I’ve neglected.

Perhaps it’s best to maybe take a break from the advice columns for a while. There’s too much out there that makes me crazy.

Like, share, comment, tweet and stop reading so much. Use your brain, woman! Use your brain.

Lower Your Standards And Then We Can Talk

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m all about setting the bar low. Sure, aim high, have big ambitions and work toward perfection. Go for it. Dream big. That’s part of the deal too, but on a day-to-day basis, place the bar of expectation low enough that you’re able to clear it easily and every single day.

I understand if this doesn’t sit quite right with you. It’s quite possible you scrunched up your face upon reading the first lines of today’s post and you thought to yourself, “Well, that’s no way to live. Hmmph.”

lower your standardsAt first glance you might be right. Low bar, low goals, I might actually be 47 years old and living in my mother’s basement. But no. Even if that does  sound appealing from time to time.

Every day is a new beginning, each morning we arise with possibility, and while it’s our obligation to reach for the stars, dream bigger dreams and stretch ourselves into individuals heretofore unknown to even us, to do that, we have to set the bar low.

Work with me here.

If I were to arise every morning believing I could be, would be and should be that extraordinary human I will hopefully grow into, every evening as I lay my body down to sleep I would do so as a deeply disappointed version of myself. The changes we need to make in our lives happen at a snail’s pace. Incremental is the operative word and the sooner we embrace the slow pace at which we will ultimately make grand changes, the sooner we will feel like the winners we are. Today. As is. No improvement required.

The woman searching for her perfect state of physical wellbeing will only find it after years of practice, not days or even weeks of diet. The student takes baby steps toward her doctorate.

You, yes you, are a work of magnificence, and as such, it’s going to take some time to reach that high bar. Take a deep breath. Relax a little bit and just for today, lower the bar. There’s plenty of time in the days to come to place it a little higher.

The beauty of the low bar and a little bit of time is that in just a few short years you’ll reach heights you never knew you could.

Tricky, eh?

Like, share, tweet, comment, lower the bar and celebrate the little stuff.