For me 2012 is the year of letting go and having more of the great stuff. Over the past few years, and as I get older I’ve learned that you’ve got to take life a little less seriously. All my priorities have changed, my attitude has shifted about what’s important in life and I’m slowly developing strategies for enjoying it every day.
In my 20’s I was worried about what other people thought, I was worried about the image I portrayed, how I looked, was I good enough, and all those other silly things that seemed critical at the time. I was focused like crazy on my marketing career, getting ahead and fighting my way to the top.
In my 30s, my priorities shifted quite a bit. I discovered pilates and made the dramatic shift from brand manager to pilates instructor in one big swift move. Life turned around almost overnight. The 6-figure income was no longer the priority or available; rather comfortable happy living became the focus. I struggled with my decision about 3 years in and briefly went back to the marketing stint. I was miserable, discontent and overall lacked a true purpose. The last year has been a dramatic shift back to what I love most – educating people on how to achieve their ultimate health through pilates, Crossfit and overall wellness. I’ve always said, there is nothing more rewarding than helping a client or athlete reach a personal goal be it defining their arms more, losing weight, fitting into their favorite jeans, getting ready for their wedding or getting them back in shape after having a baby. At CrossFit it seems even smaller than some of these examples: finally getting an athlete to squat correctly without props, help them accomplish a PR, or watch them get their first pull-up. All these accomplishments I get to witness make my life that much more rewarding.
Letting go and having more is not as simple as it sounds. In my late 30s I’m still aware of my failings, of my misgivings and of my lost opportunities but rather than lull on what I’ve failed at or not accomplished, instead I’m devoting more time to being in the present, in the NOW.
“ ‘How’ you do something is more important than ‘what’ you are doing. It’s important to give more attention to the ‘doing’ than to the result you want to achieve through it.” Eckholt Toll. Essentially life is more about the journey than the destination.
“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. Do not be concerned with the fruit of our action – just give attention to the action.” Eckholt Toll
So in 2012, there is less focus on what I haven’t done, what I should be doing, but rather it’s the year of giving myself permission to do the following things:
Enjoy my job, but not let it take over
When I first started teaching pilates, I would take clients whenever possible, Saturdays, Sundays, even as late at 8:30pm. Now I don’t work on Sundays. It’s my one day off (even from exercise). I love what I do but there are so many more facets to who I am. My work does not define me. However, I am passionate, driven and excited about what I do because I love every aspect of this incredible world of fitness.
Eat something yummy and splurge every now and then without any guilt
Most of the time, Sunday through Thursday/Friday (day time), I eat very healthy. My meals are paleo with the exception of my full fat Greek Yogurt; I rarely drink alcohol on a school night, but don’t kill myself if I do. And when I’m invited to friends for dinner for a yummy braised short rib with polenta and roasted artichokes – you’re damn right I’m eating some polenta and having at least 2 glasses of wine. I just don’t do the guilt trip afterwards. Why? I live in the moment, enjoy the action of eating and drinking with friends. For a friend’s birthday, I’ll definitely have a slice of cake and make sure I get the edge for the extra butter frosting. But guilt, absolutely not!!!
Work out how I want, when I want, and where I want
I remember during my late 20s, early 30s, I was obsessed with exercise and diet. I would be one of those crazies waiting outside Spectrum for them to unlock the door at 5am. I’d do my interval training on the treadmill, Body for Life weightlifting, followed by a strict protein, carb, fat ratio’d meal. And then be back at the Gym at 6pm for a Two-a-Day. Today, I need to take a different approach. I love CrossFit and the energy and excitement that it brings to all of us, but I know I need to balance it out with pilates, yoga and running. I scale my workouts especially if my body is feeling off, I take a day off around Thursday some weeks if I know it’s been a hectic WOD series and I need to rest. But most recently, with my injuries I’ve started listening to my body, and my physical therapist. I’ve enrolled in a yoga certification which will span over the next 4 months – 200 hours of intense coursework not to mention at least 5 hours extra a week of practice. My body is dying for this transition, this help and this healing. I know I will need to back off a little on the CrossFit front in terms of heavy lifting and Rx’ing everything. But without the yoga, I’m still about protecting my body and making sure I don’t overdo it. Outside of CrossFit, I do a master pilates class with other instructors, I do vinyasa yoga and try do a gentle stretching class 2x a week. Working out is now on my terms. And I’m loving it.
Never step on a scale (unless my doctor tells me)
I don’t live my life by the scale. I haven’t owned a scale for over 10 years. When I get on the scale, I’m surprised how heavy I am, but then I know 82% of me is lean muscle mass. My weight fluctuates a little depending on the season. I go by how my clothes fit rather than focusing on that number. I’d rather enjoy life than deny myself something because of a number on the scale.
Make time for myself and my partner
You know that part about my work and making sure it’s not the one thing that controls me, well most important is the time I make for myself and my amazing partner. We will call him Mr. Big – based on one of if not the most sexiest men on TV (SATC’s Carrie’s Mr. Big). We are doing the long distance thing at least for now – but given an opportunity to spend a weekend here or there with him is critical. I know when we are apart it’s about work and focus. However, at the end of the day, my job is not going to kiss me goodnight, it doesn’t make me laugh until I almost pee my pants, it doesn’t make me giddy or say sweet things back to me; it’s not going to cheer me up at the end of rough day. It’s my job and I love it, don’t get me wrong. But having a full-filling life with an incredible partner who cherishes me and whom I cherish is the most important. Having a solid teammate with the same goals for life makes my life full. So making time for myself and Mr. Big is invaluable.
Refuse to obsess over my body
I gave this up years ago. As someone in the fitness industry, of course it’s my responsibility to take very good care of myself, be it diet, exercise or maintaining a certain physique. If I let myself go, I’d be no example to my clients. I’m a role model to them and they seek advice and support on a constant basis. I know there are parts of my body that will always be “problem areas”, but then there are parts that are my assets, the parts I’m proud of. No one is perfect. Do the best you can, do what you say you are going to do, but don’t obsess over trying to accomplish unrealistic goals with your body. If you have hips, you have hips – nothing will change this short of shaving off your bones. If you have a belly, work on it – change your diet, quit that bread you keep eating, and strengthen your core. But do we really need to go to the extremes: the fat melting injections, the lipo, the laser treatment? I care only that I’m happy. I’ve got a lot more going for me other than my body.
Spend a little time unplugging from the world
When I went back to South Africa for 2 months last February, a friend of mine gave me a journal, and I bought a Kindle with plenty of awesome books from relationships, to Paleo, to sappy romances, to New Age “Power of Now” stuff. For two months I wrote about life and meaning and random thoughts. I wrote affirmations and goals, lists of what I want and what I don’t want, and I read like a fiend. While I don’t have quite the fervor I did back then (and of course the free time), I still turn to my journal, my meditation and reading to sooth the soul. TV has become less important, in fact (due to Verizon’s abysmal service), I’ve been without TV for almost 4 weeks, prior to that it was the holidays and Mexico – so technically, I have not watched much if any TV for almost 2 months. I think I’ll survive. Before I go to bed I love to: make a hot cup of tea, talk or Skype with Mr. Big, write in my journal and/or read a few pages of something. And if I remember I turn on my Yoga Nidra (sleep meditation from friend Julie Rader), and slowly unwind and unplug from the world.
Buy the best food for cheap
Cooking is one of my favorite things to do. And I literally prepare 99% of my meals every day. Eating out is expensive and we have very little control over how the food is prepared. I once asked a friend who ate out most days what he spent: $1500 – $2000/month dining out. That’s rent. Farmers Markets are one of my favorite places to get fresh produce. And if I’m in town you’d almost always see me at the HB Farmers Market on Fridays. I buy organic grassfed beef either from Sprouts or CFSB; I get my funky dark leafy greens from Whole Foods most of the time (they have the best organic selection); and I love Trader Joes for veggies, eggs, my Greek yogurt and other necessities. Big braised meals last for a couple days, the Crockpot is God’s gift to the kitchen and eggs are my saviour for breakfasts.
Fit in time for my friends and family
Even if I have to get up early for a 5:45am class, I will try and squeeze in some time with close friends and family. I often cut off my Friday short to make time for some wine with girlfriends. My sister and best friend and I talk every day at the crack of dawn, while my parents (in Cape Town) and I connect at least 2x a week. My schedule is pretty slammed during the week, so quick coffee breaks or phone calls are the way I keep up, but I never fail to fit them in. Friends are the beautiful colored threads of our lives – they are what keep us together when we are down, they rejoice in our moments of glory, and they create some of the funniest stories of our lives that will keep us laughing forever. So when you feel you just don’t have the time, create a moment or two. My family and most of my closest friends are spread across the world – DC, Cape Town, Tucson, Seattle, Austin, Durban, but with Facebook, Skype and cell phones there is no excuse.
These are just a few of my daily strategies for enjoying life, being in the moment and simply making sure I don’t let life slip right by me. This blog was not about CrossFit, or muscle groups or exercise. It’s about life. Live it, Enjoy it, Feel it. Don’t let it slip away without you noticing.
Workout of the Day 1/11/2012
A. Push Press 5-5-5
Between Each Set Perform:
3 Sets of Pistol Work in order of progression:
10 Pistols on a Band (weight in heel)
10 Pistols to a High Box (knee is not crashing in)
10 Pistols using a Pole (only for balance, not for help)
10 Pistols on a Box (lightly touching the heel to the floor)
B. AMRAP 10:
8 Box Jumps (30/24)
12 Kettlebell Swings (1.5/1)
A. Medicine Ball Cleans
10 – 10 – 10
B. 5 AMRAP
1 rep – 2 rep – 3 rep – 4 rep – 5 rep …..
Rest 1 minute,
Repeat in descending order starting from last set
5 reps – 4 reps ….
(Complete same amt of reps from Set #1, aim for same time)