“When the Student Is Ready….” (Mar)

I am surprised at how excited people get at the word “cleanse”.  At The Kitchen Remix, we have had dozens of clients ask us about detoxing the body.  When we have held smoothie “Pop-Up” bars around town, our biggest sellers are always the Detox or Metabolism Booster.  It seems we are all looking for a clean start.

Brittany Wright, a cool dietician and friend of The Kitchen Remix (please check out her post on our website), calls it a “re-boot”.  I think this is fitting “techie-talk” for cleaning up the diet.  In the New Year, we will be giving you plenty of ideas and recipes to help you with your goals.

Stephanie and I have shared our successes and challenges in our own health journeys.  Over the years, I have cleaned up my own diet, improved my kitchen skills, and taught my family about nutritious, healthy food and lifestyle choices.  Now, I’m reaping the rewards of a green diet and active lifestyle.  Abundant energy, optimistic attitude, clear skin, and healthy body-weight maintenance are the perks.  Not bad for a mom in my mid-forties with 3 little kids, right?  Hmmm…..

Was there something missing?

About a month ago, I realized that a large part of my health routine was stagnant and desperately needed that “re-boot” button pressed.  For those of you who know my story, you are aware that for five years I did the same workout routine.  I taught the same fitness class for four years.  I coupled it with my daily running practice, to achieve lean muscles, flexibility, and core-fitness.  The studio brought me community and routine in the often-frenetic life of being a stay-at-home mom.  Teaching fitness brought me the joy of motivating others and of seeing people change their bodies and their lives.  As part of my teaching experience, I relished the affirmation I received from my students as much as they did from me. It was a perfect part-time gig…for a while.  After great consideration, I recognized the importance of letting go. Though, like a break-up, I had to give up much: my clients, my workout, and my supplemental income.  I LOVED teaching and LOVED this workout, yet I knew I had to free myself in order to regain myself.

Today, as part of writing this article, I will share a few notes from my month long journal about change, “detoxing”, and healthy separation.  Over the past six weeks, I have ventured into a fitness and health adventure, challenging myself to break out of my exercise rut.  The result has been not only physically transforming but also cleansing of the mind, heart, and spirit.  If you are not a “work-out” person, this may seem like a ridiculous goal, or that I have a bad case of over-excercising.  For me, moving my body is very natural and I am always happier emotionally after a good, strong workout.  As part of this journey, I fed my body healthy food, stayed hydrated, and got plenty of extra rest.

Day One:  “It is the first day of my new adventure.  Thank God, I didn’t cancel my health club membership.  I took a spin class and rode that bike as hard as I could.  After, I complimented the teacher and told her how grateful I was for her energy, knowing how much I relished compliments from clients.  I ran into at least 5 former clients from the studio. One client, Theresa, invites me to a core-fitness class after spin.  We partner up and I am surprised at how I fall while standing on one leg on a Bozu ball. Balance training may be in order for me.”

Day Two:  “I find a Bikram Yoga studio in Naperville that has childcare!  One of my obstacles to a regular yoga practice has been where to put my younger kids while I am in downward dog.  I love this studio and it exudes positive energy.  The owner, Erin, greets me warmly and after 5 minutes of chatting together, I feel I have known her for years.  The teacher tells us to clear our minds and hearts.  I think I may die in the heat.  I am humbled as I take breaks throughout the 90-minute session to rest on my mat.  I fall, I get up, and I fall again.  I leave class proud, sweaty, and somehow lighter in spirit.”

Most of the days read like this, after I write down my workout of the day and a simple thought or two. Everyday another workout, another studio, another teacher, and I start to have fun with it.  I find favorite teachers all over town.  Ken, Monica, Jennifer, Stephanie, Emma, Bonnie, and Julie are the teachers who have helped me on this journey.  They didn’t even know they were part of my research, yet they helped me to a clearer place.   The friends who listened to my woes of sadness and loss on day one begin to hear me talk of joy, peace, and freedom. I rode bikes, lifted weights, sprinted on sandy beaches, did yoga and Pilates, kick boxed, and danced hip-hop. I took some barre classes and signed up at one of the yoga studios for the month.  I worked out with friends, spent time alone, and had a few sessions with a trainer.  I ran each morning before dawn, often with Stephanie. I took a couple rest days and bought some new running shoes (in the color GREEN!).

Day 30:  “As I drive home after yoga today, I roll my window down and turn the radio up.  Though it is 35 degrees outside, I let the wind hit my face, cheeks pressing the lower rim of my sunglasses. I am alive, happy, and crazy in love with this day.  I am blessed.”

Over the weeks, I have found greater happiness, a stronger heart, and a clearer mind.  I stopped questioning if I was “good enough” at my work.  Perfection is not something I must achieve now.  Instead, I practice acceptance and a willingness to be open to possibilities.  The joy of being a student again and being vulnerable brings me elation and a renewed vigor for exercise.  Old aches, lodged deep in my muscles and joints, seem to melt away.  I treated myself to a new, heavy duty, super sturdy yoga mat from Lululemon.

My joy has been in yoga. Years ago, before I had children, I occasionally practiced yoga.  I mostly did it because it was good for my running practice.  During my fitness journey, I have benefited from the stretching, strengthening, and full-body engagement of yoga.  The greatest gift that I have received, however, has been the connectedness I have found to my spirit.  The peace that I was seeking in my life and in my fitness practice has been healing for my body and for my mind.  I also love Pilates.  I still feel great when I take barre classes!  After spending weeks of various workouts in search of my new fitness craze, I recognize that I still really love the combination of yoga, Pilates, dance, and weights.  Huh? Sometimes a change in habit can help us recognize the things we were doing right.   Though it was really ambitious to add new and interesting twists to my workouts, realistically, with three small children, I cannot keep up that schedule.  Sometimes “good enough” fitness is just fine.  A game of tag, doing some pull-ups at the park while my children play, and some stretches in our toy room are all I can fit in some days.

So how does this relate to The Kitchen?

Before you can make real change in your life, you have to be truly ready.  Sometimes, we have those moments when life is very clear.  Often, we may be frightened to take risks because we have become so comfortable in our ways.  For some, it is an earth shattering circumstance that causes them to change.  A heart attack, cancer, diabetes, or obesity forces some to re-vamp their lifestyle.  For others, including myself, I recognized that undue stress from my part-time job was extremely unhealthy.  I needed to choose me.  I had to say good-bye to friends, clients, even my favorite workout to be true to myself.

Here are a few lessons I learned:

*Remember as you let go of a habit, it will be challenging.  You may feel the same loss, regret, and sadness you would have at the end of a relationship.  Honey, those potato chips really don’t love you!

*Be kind to yourself.  Give yourself healthy rewards.  A massage, manicure, and time with friends are better ways to break the cycle of your unhealthy connections.  Go easy on yourself.  If you have an unhealthy meal (or many) or miss your workout, it is OK.  Accept where you are now and be proud of the successes that you are making.

*Surround yourself with people who support the “new” you.  Part of my healing came from daily pick-me-up calls from my closest friends.  My friend, M.T., sent me a special bracelet and called me everyday for those first few weeks to see what my workout of the day was.  She kept me accountable and reminded me of my value.  A few friends took me out to dinner and toasted my decision to quit my job.  A huge part of my healing came when I visited Lululemon Athletica in Naperville, IL, where I am a current ambassador.  I thought that in resigning from my fitness job, I would lose my position as an ambassador.  The store manager reminded me of my community involvement and their support for The Kitchen Remix.  She kindly let me keep this position, which I am grateful and honored to have.  I was reminded that being a fitness instructor is just a small part of who I am as a person.  Though I enjoy teaching others, I must be open to being in a learning position in order to grow and change.

I also started enjoying my children more.  When I focus my energy on positive healthy relationships, I am happier, kinder, and more patient.  I am open to giving and receiving greater love.

*Make a plan.  Start dreaming again, talk with others who are achieving what you desire, and be open to the possibilities.  Create a personal mantra.  Even if you are not “quite there”, feed yourself positive talk.  I like, “I am happy, loved, and united.  Feeling joy…that’s my nature.”  A friend, Kelly, helped me with that one, and it has worked for me.  Create your own positive self-talk.  When a negative thought pops in your head, release it immediately.

 

Now, looking back at my fitness journey, I realize some very important things.  I still love teaching exercise and will certainly do it again.  The workout I had taught for so long IS amazing and of all the exercises I tried, still my favorite.  I have learned, however, that workouts don’t have to be extreme in order to experience ultimate health.  True wellness comes from a balance of good nutrition, varied exercise, and rest.  By eliminating the stressors in our lives that are unnecessary, we achieve more happiness and greater health.

Wishing you well on your journey and hoping that your path takes you to your happiest, healthiest person,

Mary Ellen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Comments

  1. Betty
    December 28, 2012

    Well spoken Mary Ellen! You are beautiful inside and out! Happy New Year!

    Reply
  2. Caroline Yasuda
    December 28, 2012

    Beautifully written my friend. You have such a gift in expressing your heart and from your words I have reason to ponder and reflect. Thank you and happy new year 2013, Caroline

    Reply
  3. Aimee
    December 28, 2012

    Thank you Mary Ellen. This was just the motivation I needed to get myself going. You are an inspiration.

    Reply
  4. Melissa
    December 29, 2012

    You are an inspiring and wise woman. I love your message about being true to yourself. Thank you for sharing your lessons and heart with the community.

    Reply
  5. Julia
    December 29, 2012

    Mary Ellen – I LOVE this 🙂 You are so inspiring … I so so hope our paths cross again. Namaste, Julia

    Reply
  6. Jules
    December 30, 2012

    This article is perfect for this time of year! thanks for articulating it so well. Can’t wait to see more of you, Steph and Kitchen Remix in 2013!

    Reply
    • The Kitchen Remix
      January 8, 2013

      Jules! Thank you for your friendship and support. We plan to cross paths with you (many times) in the new year! We wish you much love, happiness, and health. (mar)

      Reply
  7. Kevin
    January 1, 2013

    I write while lying on my back, 5 days after spinal surgery. Mary Ellen, your words have Power. Not power like a CEO, chairman of the board, or Congresswoman. I mean real Power with a capital P. I’m talking about the ability to let down cultural armor and be vulnerable. I am speaking of the strength to admit weakness and be fully open to growth. You know that you have choices about how you should live and your journey involves educating yourself about those choices. We have this one body, and we’ve got to take care of it. Mary Ellen, you are inspiring. Please continue to share your thoughtful and enlightening dialogue.

    Reply
    • The Kitchen Remix
      January 8, 2013

      Kevin, my dear brother, thank you for reading my post. You have known my heart and spirit for many, many years and I appreciate that we can share our journeys. Though your path has led you to the temporary respite of healing your body, you will be “back” stronger, wiser, and more capable through your recovery. I am grateful for your support and I will love you always. (mar)

      Reply
  8. moncler jacken
    January 2, 2013

    Excellent post. Thanks.

    Reply
  9. Samantha Trauth
    January 4, 2013

    Mary Ellen, you are true inspiration for the mother and woman I want to grow into!!! I’m so proud of you in so many ways. Standing for YOU and recognizing when you are no longer being your best self is the most powerful and amazing thing to realize and action!!! I miss you!

    Reply
    • The Kitchen Remix
      January 8, 2013

      Thank you, Sam. You are an inspiration to me and I am in awe of your maturity, wisdom, and radiant energy. Thank you for your support, trust, and love. I have been so honored to work with you and the folks at Lululemon. I will always be grateful to you for getting that ball rolling. I miss your smiling face. Happy New Year.

      Reply
  10. Erin Logemann
    January 6, 2013

    Hi Mary Ellen, I was talking with a friend of yours Shannon Fulcher who is a student at Bikram Yoga South Naperville. She pointed me in the direction of this amazing page. Thank you for the sweet ‘mention’ in the above blog. I enjoyed reading about your journey and see that you really have all your priorities in the proper order. You are truly amazing! I hope to see you again soon!

    Erin Logemann

    Reply
    • The Kitchen Remix
      January 6, 2013

      Thank you, Erin. I have told many people about your beautiful studio. Your space was the first I visited on my journey and I was grateful for the experience. It is a bit of a distance for me to travel but I will see you again. Namaste, Mary Ellen

      Reply
  11. Danna Lee
    January 12, 2013

    It was so wonderful seeing your smiling face today. I loved reading this blog! Hearing your strength and listening to your heart and knowing you needed a change. You are an amazing person and you always light up the room with your infectious spirit. I am excited for this new journey for you.

    Danna

    Reply
  12. Nancy
    January 16, 2013

    So that’s what happened to you!!!! I wanted to come to one of your awesome classes, but didn’t see your name anywhere!!! Now I know!. Miss Mary Ellen, you were an great instructor and wonderful lady. Thank you for you time and enthusiasm at each class. Enjoy your new finds. Enjoy your babies, they grow fast. But most of all, be happy. Hopefully, I will meet up with you again someday.

    Reply
    • The Kitchen Remix
      January 24, 2013

      Hi, Nancy. Thanks for your note! I am going to be teaching in a small studio in the near future and think it will be a great fit. I will send you the info. once it is official. Wishing you well. love, Mar

      Reply

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