“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,