Archive for You/Mind

LESSONS FROM THE SHAMROCK

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine went on vacation and asked me to take care of one of her plants. She loved this plant—it’s called an oxalis (a.k.a. a shamrock). I know this sounds ridiculous, but after one day, I fell in love with this plant!

Her oxalis plant had greenish leaves divided into sections and each section looked like a 3-leaf clover. It also had tiny white flowers. What I love about this plant is that it moves—the leaves respond to light and darkness. In the light, the leaves are open and extended; in the dark, they collapse and fall in. It is so much fun watching this plant in action! You have to check out this video to see what I’m talking about.

http://plantsinmotion.bio.indiana.edu/plantmotion/movements/leafmovements/oxalis/oxalis.html

I loved watching nature unfold (or fold) right in front of me! The oxalis listens carefully to its environment and responds to it.

We can learn a great lesson from this plant by responding to our internal environment, too: INFORMATION FROM OUR BODIES. We need to rest when we’re tired, eat when we’re hungry (NOT eat when we’re NOT hungry), and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Moving our bodies will give us energy; stretching will keep us less IMG_1094stiff. So often, we ignore the messages our bodies are telling us. We need to pay attention and respond!

After my friend came back home, I went out and bought my own oxalis. My plant has 3-leaf clovers with deep reddish/maroon leaves and tiny purple flowers. It’s the ultimate slice of nature sitting right in my kitchen.

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

BE YOUR OWN SMART OVEN

The other day I was at my friend Lydia’s house. Lydia is renovating her kitchen and she now has a makeshift kitchen and portable smart oven. I never saw a smart oven so she was telling me all about it as I stood there in awe. When Lydia puts a piece of bread into the download.pngsmart oven,  the oven asks, “Bread?” Lydia says “YES.” The smart oven then asks “light toast or medium?” When she answers, the oven does exactly what she wants.

For some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about this oven. The oven asks questions to get specific information so it can produce the optimal results. To me, this oven is smart because it’s being mindful.  I thought, “if only we could have our own self-smart-oven!” Here’s a scenario:

Oven: Hungry?

You: YES

Oven: How hungry on a scale from 1-10?

You, having to think: 2

Oven: Stressed??

You: YES

With a few quick questions, you’ve realized that you’re NOT hungry, you’re just stressed.  Instead of eating, you would be better off going for a walk. Taking this a step further, the self-smart-oven could also assess when you should be eating,  when to rest, what foods will work better for you at certain points during the day, when you should meditate, or when you need to stretch.  It might even let you know when you’re pushing yourself too hard, so you could avoid becoming rundown.

I’m  reluctant to use the word “mindful”, because it’s overused. Instead, think of mindfulness as simply being aware–it’s being connected to your body and listening, which is the best way to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.

Bottom line: Your body gives you so much information all of the time. You need to pay attention to those messages and take a moment to ask yourself some probing questions so you, too, can function optimally.

Leave a comment »

THE PARADOX OF WOMEN

In 2003, I became a personal trainer and since then I’ve had the privilege of working with many clients, mostly women. Amazing women. Here are some of my observations:

Most women need close girlfriends in order to stay sane while navigating through life. We download.jpgsupport each other in astounding ways. We enthusiastically cheer each other on; We rally around each other in times of need;  We can express ourselves without judgement; We accept each other’s flaws; We see the true beauty in each other; We are loving and kind; We have tolerance and patience.

All of this changes, when a woman looks at herself. When it comes to body image, diet or exercise, women are overly critical, harsh, self-deprecating, and self-loathing. Women say that they are “BAD” when they don’t eat perfectly. They feel GUILT and SHAME when they can’t seem to get into an eating or exercise routine. A woman’s internal dialogue is brutal. She is mean, judgmental, and intolerant. Ironically, she would never treat her girlfriends this way. Ever.

We women are bombarded with ubiquitous messages every day about our image. There are overt and subliminal messages about how we should age, what we should wear, and what our bodies should look like. It is impossible to live up to these standards—especially when there is photoshop erasing our wrinkles and eradicating our cellulite. No wonder we are so harsh on ourselves!

I say: Let’s stop the insanity! When it comes to looking internally,  we need start treating ourselves just the way we would treat our closest girlfriends.  If we do this, we will talk to ourselves with kindness and compassion. We will be more tolerant and less judgmental. We might even start cheerleading. Best of all, we can work hard at achieving (wait for it), ACCEPTANCE.

Who’s with me????

 

Leave a comment »

THE UNFORTUNATE REALITY OF SHRILL

There is a new show out on Hulu called “Shrill”. I binged watched Shrill and loved it. MV5BNTAyNDk3MzQzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzg5MjI0NzM@._V1_The protagonist, Annie, is an overweight woman in her early 30’s and keeps getting either unsolicited advice or nasty comments about her body. There is even a scene in Shrill where a personal trainer assures Annie that “there is small person in there dying to come out.” Annie, of course, did not ask the trainer for her advice.

I would love to say that this is all a bunch of fiction, but it’s not. Fat shaming is a real phenomenon and I hate it. I hate it because it’s mean and unproductive. If fat shaming actually worked, there would not be an obesity epidemic. Two days before seeing Shrill, I met a lovely, overweight, nurse’s assistant. She told me horrible stories of insensitive trainers at her gym—they all had something to say about her body. Just like Annie in Shrill, she never asked them for help. (WHAT’S WITH THESE TRAINERS????!!!)

We all make quick assessments about people, when seeing them for the first time. However, before making a set-in-stone-judgement, we need to pause. We have no idea about this person’s history, background, or experiences. One small “innocent” comment can not only be hurtful but destructive.

The bottom line: Whether someone is too thin, too fat, too tall, too short, or too WHATEVER, we have no business commenting on their bodies. As my mom taught me growing up : “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Amen, Mom!

 

 

Leave a comment »

FOOD: STOP THE INSANITY

Yesterday morning, at 9 am, I got a text from a client. I haven’t seen her in several weeks because she was busy traveling for work. Traveling is very difficult—there might be a time change affecting sleep, there is usually a lot of eating out, and there might be lack of exercise. My client was clearly feeling frazzled. Her text said something like this: “I need to get my food back to together again. If you have time can you look at these two restaurants that I’ll be going to and tell me what to order.” I bet many of you can relate to this. She wanted me to pick something healthy for her so she didn’t have to think about it. While I understand her motivation, this made no sense to me.

Eating healthy isn’t only about calories, fat or carbs. It’s about satisfaction and woman-not-happy-dieting1enjoyment. If you leave these two elements out, you will get into trouble. You will eventually search for something that DOES satisfy you and after a healthy meal or even after a full day of healthy eating, you might seek the “forbidden” foods. I wanted my client to pick something that SHE was in the mood for and so I sent her the following text back:

“Ok……I looked at all the menus and there are PLENTY of great things that you can eat at both places. You certainly don’t need me to choose for you because I actually want you to eat food that YOU want!  I want you to enjoy it and feel satisfied and not feel ‘ICK…….I had the fish that I don’t even like because Rhonda told me to.’ You know what to avoid: fried food, dishes full of heavy sauces or giant portions. But if you’re in the mood for steak, I’d much rather you eat steak instead of chicken that you don’t even enjoy. Life is too short!”

She wrote back:  “You’re right!”

We have been so conditioned that certain foods are evil. So many of us not only classify foods as “good” or “bad” but we actually tell ourselves that we were “bad” when we ate a plate of pasta or a piece of bread. We spend so much time obsessing about healthy food, and worrying (and feeling guilty!) about eating the wrong food. In doing so, we are missing out on enjoyment and satisfaction. We don’t even think about what we feel like eating and have lost our ability to be intuitive about food.

I would love to see all of us stop this insanity. Let’s try to erase the notion that there are “forbidden” foods and incorporate them into our lives in moderation. This way, we can stop going on diets (that don’t work)  and can ditch the diet mentality, which is all about restriction.

I have been a trainer for over 15 years and a nutritionist for almost 8 years and I can say with certainty that I have never seen restriction yielding any positive results. We need the satisfaction and enjoyment to be truly healthy!

Leave a comment »

THANK YOU, YOU

The other day I woke up to a text from a client who thanked me for changing her life. The text moved me tremendously and brought tears to my eyes immediately. While she was very sweet to send this, the real person she should be thanking is herself.

This particular woman has made major strides in getting healthy. With many barriers to overcome, she has become a consistent exerciser. She has had to face health concerns, download.jpgand then address them. She’s now focusing on her diet trying her best to plan, shop, cook and be mindful of her eating. While I have given her tips and encouragement, she’s the one doing all of this work.

Anytime you make a lifestyle change, no matter how small, is a big victory. Drinking more water, taking 10-min walks, ordering in less—they all count. Celebrate each and every one of these milestones and then say a big thank you to you!

 

 

Leave a comment »

TRUMPeting My Voice

I was born in 1963 and was raised by two parents who told me that I could do or be anything that I wanted to. Growing up, I didn’t feel that I was raised much differently than my older brother. I’ve also had positive relationships with men throughout my life. I have always been my own person, I have never cared too much about what other people think, and I have never had issues making things happen for myself.

Having said all of this, I know for certain that society has also shaped me. It’s been a subliminal force, influencing and molding many of my behaviors. While I consider myself to be a strong woman, I have also struggled with being assertive. In fact, it’s been much easier for me to constantly soften the message instead of being direct. I’ve done this message “massaging” my entire life.  Men get positively reinforced when they are direct.  Women do not.

A few years ago, I received a stark wake-up call when I read a New York Times op-ed piece about how women apologize for things that they shouldn’t be apologizing for. I realized that my lack-of-assertiveness was also accompanied by too much apologizing!  This was the genesis of my journey to change my behavior.

Since then, we have a new president, a Me Too Movement, and more women than ever download-1.jpgrunning for leadership positions. Just like in my past, I am now being shaped by what is going on around me.  Women are speaking up and I have felt empowered by each and every one of them. At 55, I am emerging as a stronger woman—someone who is no longer afraid to be direct. I refuse to apologize unless I’m truly sorry about something, and I refuse to soften the message.

My take away: It’s never too late to evolve into the person you want to become. No matter what it is, you can make it happen.

Leave a comment »