A Good Ol’ Sob Fest

Good morning, friends!

It’s another beautiful day, and I’ve had so much going on lately. Last night I saw “A Star is Born,” and can I just say I must have a heart of stone or something? I swear I was the only one in that theater not crying at the end. I mean, I felt a little emotional but there were folks outright SOBBING as the credits rolled.

photo credit: <a href=”http://photo%20credit: Aramisse Grieving with a little friend via photopin (license)“>Aramisse

I must admit,  I was disappointed. The whole reason I went was because I wanted to experience a good, emotional cleansing and I even brought tissues expecting a good cry-fest. But it turns out I only needed them when I spilled my water down my shirt. Anyone else love a good cry at a movie? I think the last movie I actually cried at was the whole opening story line of Disney’s “Up”. If you don’t feel a little sniffly about that beautiful montage of life and tragedy, I’m not too certain if you’re even human. I mean, you could be, but I’m just not certain.

But historically, I have never been much of a cryer. Which I’m working on changing recently. Did you know that crying is actually really good for you? In addition to relieving stress and pent-up emotions, it also provides a detoxification pathway via tears, kills bacteria, improves vision, and (no-brainer here) can elevate your mood.

Despite all the benefits (and the fact that crying is a normal human action) our culture has historically had such a stigma around crying, especially for men. And I get it. When I’m around a crying person (99.9% of the time it’s one of my kids) I feel this uncontrollable reaction to MAKE IT STOP. Make them happy and feel better RIGHT NOW. Why does crying cause such discomfort in the observer?

When I need a good cry, I just want to get it out and done. I understand that sometimes crying is the best therapy for me, and the quickest way to get from Point A (sad) to Point B (relieved and refreshed). And I am relieved and grateful when I have the space to just let my emotions out in peace and move on with my day. So if I’m good with my own crying, why can’t I be good with others’ crying? I can only conclude that it’s because I was conditioned all my life to believe crying means there is something wrong, and it needs to be fixed.

But that’s just not true. Crying can be many things. It can be from overwhelming happiness. It can be from anger or frustration at a situation out of my control. It can be from processing grief, which I know from personal experience that “the only way out is through.” And in the case of my kids, crying is a last resort when emotions don’t make sense or are just too intense and crazy. Because it’s always SUPER disappointing when you don’t get the red cup instead of the blue cup, isn’t it?

I’m on a mission to evangelize crying. At home, in public, at work, wherever. Now, you can be discrete (I’m not at the point where I can just sit at my desk and ugly cry yet), but if I need to excuse myself to squeeze some tears out in the women’s room, I tell myself that I’m a human having a human experience, and I don’t feel so ashamed when I get back to my desk with the lingering red in my eyes. When my kids cry I check in with them, ask if they need me or want to be alone, and let them have their feels. And especially when I find myself needing to cry around my kids, I am not afraid of letting them see it, letting them know that grown-ups can feel sad too and that’s okay. Just like when they’re crying and I offer to talk about their feelings, I tell them mine. “Mommy’s feeling overwhelmed. I need to stop and take care of myself for a bit.” or “I feel sad because I miss Grandpa.” They need to know (just like I need to remember) that emotions aren’t scary, and feelings do not require fixing.

So let the floodgates flow! The waterpark is open for business! Find a corner and let it all out. As I heard the other day, “Put your issues in your tissues.” Detoxification and stress-relief benefits with one simple exercise? I’ll sign up for that!

Go make it a great day!

(photo credit: Aramisse Grieving with a little friend via photopin (license))

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Getting Off the Couch: A 3-Step Plan to Get Moving

Hello!

So, yesterday I started talking about rewriting unhelpful patterns that I recognized were keeping me from doing the things I know I want to do. And I started thinking more about specifically what are the themes that keep popping up for me, and what have I started to put in place to keep those situations from thwarting my good intentions? So to be extra helpful, I’ve collected the three big things that I find always throw me for a loop, and how I’m changing my mindset to see these challenges differently. I hope this is useful to you!

This August I set myself a goal for incorporating some sort of healthy movement every day for the month, and so far I’m hitting about 50%, which I consider a win since I think in July I worked out maybe four times. My life is kind of crazy so I give myself a lot of wiggle room when it comes to achievable goals, but I also know how easy it is for me to pull out Ye Olde Book o’ Excuses and thumb through until I find one that allows me to Netflix & Beer it. There are certain scenarios, when provided at a moment of peak weakness (i.e. stressed, hungry, possibly surrounded by children), that cause me to cast my growth-mindset priorities aside for the familiar and comfy.

And we’ve all been there. Possibly repeatedly. Maybe you set your alarm to hit that 5:30 am class, but now that it’s 5:00 am you’re like, “Meh, sleep is healthy, too.” Or you told yourself that you’d go for a run after work, but now that you’ve walked through the door the kids are crawling all over you and your spouse just handed you the baby and it looks like you are now putting on the Parenting hat instead, and isn’t family time important, anyway? Or perhaps your yoga buddy cancelled because their parents are in town, and the idea of packing up and going to class alone has lost its appeal. Despite our best efforts, it’s so easy for Life to derail our fitness plans. Not to mention bed is so cozy in the morning, and the couch is so comfy after work!

But if you’re like me and circumstances have made it easy to throw in the towel for the day, it’s always so much harder to pick things up again tomorrow. Not to mention the disappointment of “I would have felt so much better now if I had gotten my run in this morning” realization. So what can Current Me do to help Future Me keep my commitments? I have shared below a few strategies that I have been using successfully, so take a look, keep what you like, and leave the rest!

For When Bed is Too Cozy

On those days when I feel too lazy, or I just don’t want to get up out of my chair and change gears, I pull out Mel Robbins’s “5-second rule” for this one. The 5-Second Rule is pretty simple: based on the premise that it takes your brain 5 seconds to decide to do something, you simply tell yourself mentally, “5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … Go” and immediately get up to do the thing, no thinking about it. This is great for when I’m trying to get out of bed in the morning, when I walk in through the door at work and need to change into my gym clothes, or when I have a home workout scheduled and am procrastinating on starting. It’s so simple, it just works!

For When Expectation Doesn’t Meet Reality

I tend to get in my head the “perfect” scenario – the perfect yoga class, the perfect run, the perfect lift – and if my circumstances or energy level are anything less than my perfect idea of what I want to have happen, then I tend to make excuses on why it’s not meant to be right now. I drank a few too many beers last night, so I know I’ll feel lousy at Bodypump this morning. My legs are super sore from lunges yesterday, so if I go on a run I know I’ll feel sluggish. I accidentally fall back asleep after my alarm, and now I’ll be 10 minutes late for my early morning yoga class. I forgot my hair tie. Nothing disastrous (well, except for maybe forgetting a hair tie), just when my idea of what was supposed to happen doesn’t meet what actually happens. It’s easy to use minor setbacks as convenient excuses to say, “Oh, darn! Maybe not today, then.” But don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Accept that feeling bloated and sluggish at Bodypump is going to be a thing after last night’s happy hour, and that’s just fine. Go for a recovery hike instead of a run if you’re that sore. Show up to yoga late; it happens, and as long as you’re quiet and respectful in settling the worst you’ll get is a possibly a judgy side-eye from Judgy McJudgerson Pretzel Woman, and who cares what she thinks, anyway? Take the minor setbacks to demonstrate further proof of your commitment, and build up some self-efficacy in the process. We can do hard things!

For when plans change

You had plans to go for a walk on your lunch break and your boss just handed you an issue that’s on fire. Your Pilates-then-pinot buddy is stuck in traffic and said to go without them. You had a run planned but it’s now raining, or your bike has a flat. Similar to letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, a last-minute wrench in the plans can provide an enticing opportunity to allow fate to deal you another blow in your resolve. But we’re stronger than that, aren’t we? Take a deep breath, assess the new situation, and make a new plan. Maybe the stars have truly aligned out of your favor and a workout just isn’t going to happen today, and that’s okay. But if you can schedule your work walk at 3pm instead of lunchtime, bravely solo it to Pilates, or use the rainy day or flat tire as an opportunity to try out that new dance class you’ve been meaning to check out, then you’re proving to yourself your commitment, even when it would be easy to quit.

Do you have any other scenarios or tips you use to overcome obstacles in your habits building?

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Go make it a great day, friends!

So Done: Rewriting Unhelpful Patterns

So, I treadmilled last night.

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I didn’t really want to. I mean, who wants to run on a treadmill when there’s the whole outside to run in? But I really, really felt like moving my body in some way, and I had Buttercup with me so running outside wasn’t an option. I also didn’t really want to pay the $5 for childcare at the gym, and it was getting late in the evening and I knew we wouldn’t make it to CrossFit in time. So, I put on my run gear, handed Buttercup her tablet to keep her occupied, and did my run on the treadmill in the apartment gym. We got it done, and treated ourselves to sushi afterwords.

Honestly, I was sort of surprised at myself. Who is this woman?!? Normally I would look at the clock and say, “Whelp, I guess a workout isn’t happening tonight!” and go watch Netflix. But I’m sort of tired of being that person. To be clear, there’s certainly nothing wrong with foregoing a workout for downtime, and I do enjoy those nights where I spontaneously clear my calendar and turn my to-do list over so I can veg out and stop thinking about responsible things for awhile. But I found that “Ignore All the Things” has been becoming less about de-stressing and more about an unhealthy coping mechanism for me. And I don’t like it.

So I’ve been noticing all the reasons that inspire me to let my healthy habits slide – a late night, a grumpy mood, an unexpected engagement that throws my schedule off – and how I choose to respond to those stimuli. And so much of it is about just not being prepared. So I’m slowly figuring out what systems no longer serve me, and rewriting them. I mean, this is what I do for a living, guys – process engineering. And yesterday, the first thought system to be rewritten is “It’s too hard to work out when I have the kids home.” Because I totally figured out how to get a decent run in, spend time with my kiddo, and still have a great evening together.

What patterns in your behavior are you so done with? Any thought systems or other systems in your life you want to set out to rewrite?

Go make it a great day, friends!

Food Police: Be Your Own Health Advocate

The other day a friend posted an article on Facebook about the latest nutrition “news”. My eyes couldn’t roll back in my head hard enough. It wasn’t as much about the content of the article – yet another study has come out saying coconut oil is unhealthy for you, like all saturated fats you know – but of this underlying message that there is a “right” way and a “good” way to eat.

Can we just stop with the food morality?

Food is not “good” or “bad”. It is not “healthy” and “unhealthy.” Depending on your context, however, it can do good things or damaging things to you personally. But what’s good for one person isn’t necessary good for all people.

Some do better on a plant-based diet. Some bodies respond well to a high-fat diet. Some delight in peanut butter while it would literally kill someone else. The thing is what we decided to put in our bodies is no one’s business but our own. And it’s up to us to pay attention, listen to our body, and give it what it needs. No one can tell you what’s best but you.

You are your best health advocate.

That’s all of my ranting for now, go make it a great day!