May 19, 2010

The Art of Happiness

"For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. 
If someone bases happiness
on major events like 
a great new job, huge amounts of money, 
a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, 
that person isn't going to be happy much of the time. 
If, on the other hand, 
happiness depends on 
a good breakfast, 
flowers in the yard, 
a drink or a nap, 
then we are more likely to live with 
quite a bit of happiness."
~by the ever-wise Andy Rooney

This morning I tweeted out that I was in hard-boiled egg heaven because all seven of my just-cooked eggs slid right out of their cute little brown shells with the same ease as I put away my winter coat this spring  . . I'm talking eggshells nearly dropping off in half-shell pieces. I realized, while I stood at the sink for a mere 45 seconds, that I was sucking on a virtual piece of bit'o'honey. The moment tasted sweet. Happy if you will.
So, I thought I'd break my blogging silence of late with a post about these kinds of moments of simple, sheer happiness. And exactly how we can go about having more of them in our lives. We all want that . . . being in a good state of mind goes miles and miles toward reaching our weight and fitness goals (and any other kind of goal for that matter), and makes a strong contribution to our ultimate success. And, we all want that.
I realize, tho, that as soon as we try to formulate something like happiness, we've kind of missed the point because happiness is one of those pleasures that just, well, happens. Like when I peeled the first hard-boiled egg and the shell was just so darn cooperative that I eagerly grabbed the next and wondered if it'd be the same. Happiness. You just can't plan that kind of thing. 
On the other hand, if I EXPECT that the shells WILL slide right off every time, then every time they don't, I'm disappointed. Frustrated. Impatient. And, we all know who wins when we grow impatient with stubborn eggshells!
On a bigger scale, we can start to see how this kind of reaction and mindset can quickly get us into trouble. When our goals are frustrated, we lose our peace. When friends and loved ones struggle, it derails us. When our moods are less than positive, we talk ourselves into indulgence. When life isn't perfect, we complain. We simply expect a rose garden, and when we get poked with a thorn our myopic vision keeps us from seeing that the two go perfectly, naturally together.

That's why I love the simplicity of Andy Rooney's words so much. As soon as I complicate my life, my expectations necessarily reach for the sky as a means of survival. And, I don't mean a staircase to heaven. There is just no room for messing up, for delays or for taking time to heal before continuing on. There is no room for all the life that happens when we aren't looking, the little miracles right in front of our eyes every single day that were made just for us, or worse we haven't the time to notice the troubled look in a friends eyes or the silent cry of a child in trouble.

Frustrations, struggles, bad moods and imperfection are part of life. But, what we decide to do with these little bumps in the road will often determine how far down the road we get. And how much happiness we ultimately experience.
If we allow them to dictate our happiness on the journey, we'll probably hang out around the bumps longer than we should, analyze them dozens of times over, measure their height, wonder if there's any way around them, and in the process end up digging a nice little rut for ourselves there on the side of the road.
So, what I'd really love is if you, my awesome readers, woulc comment with some of the simple pleasures in life that make you happy. I really can't wait to hear what you've got to say! Please add in your comment, no answer is too foolish or little or dumb.  This should be you guys! 


May 11, 2010

Why Lose Weight?

There are a lot of answers to the question "Why lose weight?". Over the last 2 or 3 decades of my life, I have answered that question in a myriad of ways. Wouldn't you like to find the one answer, the one reason to lose weight that will, once and for all, result in never finding it again?

Does that sound like the impossible dream? Let's talk about it.

We all get it that knowing why we want to do something is extremely important if we are to navigate everyday ups and downs and still hold on to our plans. But, perhaps the "knowing why" we should be more concerned about isn't the more surface reasons (i.e. to fit in that sexy black dress by July 1 or my husband and/or family deserves it), as important as these things might be. I think there is a deeper why that we must address before our weight loss efforts will become something we own instead of something we are regularly shopping for.

Don't believe me? See if this scenario resonates with you at all:

Sally starts out all fired up and motivated, has a little bit of early success and begins thinking the rest of the journey is going to be a breeze. She has figured it out, she has this thing nailed.

And then the dreaded day comes when, well, Sally just doesn't "feel" like doing it anymore. It all seems like so much work. Maybe she is PMSing or her progress has slowed down. Or maybe her husband loses his job. Or she is in the middle of a two week funk with her partner. Or her cousin dies. And, she starts thinking to herself "only if this weren't happening right now, I could stick to my plan."

It would, in some ways, be ideal if the conditions of Sally's life were always perfectly orchestrated to help her reach her goals. She think if only SHE could be on the Biggest Loser ranch separated from the distractions of her day life.

But, the truth is that the ups and downs in Sally's life and how she handles them says an awful lot about her, and if she listens, truly listens she might just get in touch with the deeper whys . . . why she eats when she isn't hungry, why she feeds her body things that don't REALLY feed it, why she places so much emphasis on getting pleasure from food to the point where she is denied pleasure of a much deeper variety.

Maybe Sally isn't the introspective type. She likes to just run with a plan and not get into all this deep, psychological, mumbo-jumbo stuff. The last thing she wants to do is waste time sitting still.

It's true, it all takes time and I have thought to myself, like Sally that if I stop to do this work, I will never reach my goal of 10 pounds a month. I've felt the pressure to even do things that are unhealthy in order to reach my "reasonable" goals.

But, when I stop for a second and actually think about that, how crazy is THAT??? The whole point is to get healthy, and getting slender in the process of getting healthy! The "healthy" comes first. It is not secondary or a nice addition. It's the main thing.

That means that as I get healthy, my body will naturally start to reveal its curves, something we know our men love!

It means that my heart will be strong and able to endure the stress and pressure of every day life!

It means my mind will be able to process information better and my decisions will be wiser!

It means my emotions are settled and my relationships are healthier!

And, it means I get into that sexy black dress eventually and give my partner and family what they deserve!

But, first, what comes FIRST is the health part. All of these wonderful consequences are a result of getting healthy being the primary thing.

Does that mean wanting to look good is unimportant or worse, superficial? Only if its primary. Focusing on the outside more than the inside is like planting a garden full of gorgeous flowers without any concern for the soil, sun exposure or nutrient needs. America's obsession with looking good is producing a garden that looks beautiful for awhile, but will eventually start to look sickly, withered with all the signs of life disappearing. The flowers ARE important, but what makes and keeps them gorgeous is how they got that way.

Losing weight is a practice of self preservation. It is a part of maintaining our most valuable resource, our body, and being a good and wise steward of it. If losing weight becomes a practice of anything else, could it be that it is doomed to fail from the get-go?

What do you think?

May 6, 2010

90-Day Fitness Journal Giveaway Winner!

And the winner is.............

Lynn Nappari!! 

Congratulations, Lynn! You have just won a copy of the 90-Day Fitness Journal. Please notify me by May 10, 2010 with your shipping address, email address and daytime phone number and this handy tool will be shipped right to your door!

Thanks everyone who entered, also. For me, this is what it's all about, supporting and encouraging one another with helpful tools, information and well-deserved pats on the back! I appreciate you guys more than you know.

In it with you,

May 3, 2010

Fitness Friends Giveaway

Happy happy May! Warmer and longer days naturally make us want to get out and be more active, and as a part of my May plan, the hubs and I are embarking on a focused food and fitness plan that we'll do . . .TOGETHER! I am very fortunate to have a husband who is not only extremely supportive of my health and fitness goals, but actually wants to be a part of it to improve on himself also. Thank you, love!

So, after filling in our May menu of healthy food choices and stocking the cupboards and fridge, we came up with a fitness plan for the month too:

30-45 minutes walking/jogging/biking 5-6 times/week
20-25 minutes strength training 2 times/week

Simple. Doable. Necessary. And, the best part is that we're doing these things together.

It's already paying off, too. Last night we spent time in the fitness room of our condominium complex doing our individual workouts but just the fact that we were there together made time really fly by. I'm sure lots of you have experienced this before, too....getting fit with a friend is just much more enjoyable!

The other very important part for me is journaling this journey. I picked up the 90 Day Fitness Journal you see above, and I love the simplicity of it. Each day has a spread of two pages; on the left you track your food and on the right you track your fitness work. I've long been a journal-writer, so this simple task is a natural addition and gives me something to look back on to evaluate my progress. The journal also has helpful info, i.e. exercise chart showing calorie burn for different exercises and nutritional data for many common foods. Its also spiral bound which I absolutely LOVE.

So, I wanna ask, do you have a friend or partner that you work out with? Are you accountable to each other?

And, second do you have a plan that is written down with specific and measurable goals that you're reaching for? Are you tracking?  A fitness journal is a friend too! :)

It all sounds so simple, so straight forward that I think we often overlook the value of these things. To demonstrate my support of your fitness goals and how important I believe having these two fitness friends are, I am giving away a copy of the 90-Day Fitness Journal to one lucky person!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post describing how working out with a friend or tracking your progress has catapulted you forward toward your goals OR how you believe these two fitness friends would/could help you.  Be creative and interesting; the winner will be chosen based on those two criteria.

The fine print:
Giveaway runs for three days only, May 3-5, 2010 and all comments must be posted to this post by 9pm CST 5/5/10. Winner will be announced on the blog and Twitter on Thursday morning, May 6, 2010, so be sure to check back! Winner will have until midnight 5/10/10 to claim the prize (which is accomplished by supplying your shipping address, email and daytime phone number), or another winner will be chosen.

This giveaway is open only to US addresses. 90-Day Fitness Journal will be mailed directly from Amazon within 10 days to one winner. I am receiving no compensation from the author of this journal nor has she given me a free journal to give you; I am purchasing the journal on your behalf because it's a great little tool, and I'd love to share it with you!

To our friends in fitness!