Spring Cleaning

Today I put my Easter wreath on my front door. Spring brings me such joy. The warm weather, the small pops of color coming from the earth, and the air is filled with moisture again making it easier to breath. I love to tidy my house for spring, and at any time really. Cleaning has brought up an interesting thought for me, how the action of it radically transforms a space and how it positively affects mindset thereafter.

My health journey is a long one. Involving many turning points, ups and downs. I have always struggled with digestive issues, and drinking alcohol has exacerbated the issue. Over the years, my guts have hospatilized me, decreased my energy, made me irrated, caused mood swings, affected my sleep and the list goes on. I have seen specialists, naturopaths and even tried Chinese medicine for remedies. I was looking for one solution and a quick fix for my problematic digestive system. I think partly the problem was me. I was seeking a quick remedy, one way to deal with the my health. My digestive system needed better maintenance, and an overall health reset. I needed to better maintain my mental health, my lifestyle and my eating habits as a whole. There was no quick fix.

Cleaning my house is much like how I approach my health now. It is about maintenance. When I diligently, consistently and deliberately make an effort to eat food that nourishes my gut and engage in regular exercise, my overall symptoms and health improve. I don’t wait until I am sick to act. I clean myself with positive energy, I remind myself why I choose health everyday, I choose the people that are in my life and I take action to create the world that I want. My house doesn’t clean itself, much like my body doesn’t take care of itself. That is my job. 

The momentum that I create by cleaning and tidying my space, energizes me to do more for myself. I create the space I want to live in, much like I create the narrative of my own story. I take ownership of my story and what doesn’t serve me or doesn’t fit I have the ability to clean out. I am able to change and create fresh spaces, and new perspectives at anytime. Not just in one season.

Spring is a wonderful reminder of renewal and new energy. It brings a sense of freshness. Remind yourself that you are also in need of maintenance once in a while. Try on a new perspective, get a fresh haircut, walk a different route, or simply try a new food. Change is cleaning out what doesn’t fit anymore. And what doesn’t fit anymore is not progress. I maintain my health with good habits daily, like cleaning my space, choosing healthy food and keeping an open perspective. This is my progress. This keeps me fresh.

Happy Spring! 

What is your Why?

Why exercise?… is what I ask myself every time I lace my running shoes or roll out my yoga mat. I ask myself this question, set an intention for my workout and my body responds with vibrant energy. My shoes at my front door are always smiling at me, my mat rolled up in my living room giving me a wink when I pass by, and my headphones always at the ready at any given moment of the day.

Why I exercise?

It is constant and reliable. 

It is the surety of a good feeling. It is a time for clarity, self reflection and detoxification. Setting an intention for every run or yoga practice keeps things fresh and alive. I like to think of the issues in my life and set an intention of kindness, compassion, clarity or whatever else I need before every exercise to clear the energy in my body, that these conflicts are creating. The movement alone purifies me, and once the run or yoga practice are done, I am cleansed and feel new. 

But on days that I have no energy and feel burnt out I ask…

Why I Exercise?

Because I can! That reason alone shifts my attitude and realigns my energy to a positive space. 

And when I look in the mirror I ask… 

Why I Exercise? 

My body is worth the care. My body deserves movement and proper nutrition. My body deserves respect. 

I have always been keenly aware of the way people treat me when I am a little overweight or when I know I am looking good. Body image is not my intention for exercising. Even though I know that working out can make you feel better about the way you look, I don’t want to put myself in a box. I don’t buy into a certain body shape or ideal. I want my intention for working out to come from a place that doesn’t include others opinions of my body, it is a personal journey for me. If others enjoy my results, that has nothing to do with my intent. 

On days that I feel bored or uninspired I ask…

Why I exercise?

To get high.

I love to feel alive. I used to love partying and drinking. Even though I don’t have alcohol in my life anymore, I still celebrate my life in other ways. The thrill of partying, music and people can sometimes be the same high experienced when exercising.

There are moments on my run when I stop and just take the world in, heart throbbing, hands sweating, legs burning and I think to myself there is nothing better than this pain right now, because I feel every second of it. My muscles loose and my energy high.

My body both crying to stop, and yearning for more. 

Pleasure and pain, all in one. 

This is my why. 

Why do you Exercise? 

Sugar My Frenemy

Since I was a kid I loved sugar. I watched my grandma bake apple struddle pies, and as soon as they would land on her kitchen table to cool, I would pick at the pie and eat tiny forbidden pieces. The soft, delicious warm pieces, where my first real memories of the feeling and taste  of sweet sugar. As I got older, sugar has always been something that gave me a quick energy boost and feelings of warm familiar comfort. 

It isn’t easy to deny sugar. As it is in most of my kitchen items, ketchup, most sauces, honey for my tea, cereal, and so many more. But when I seek sugar, I definitely do it deliberately. Now when I think of it, after not drinking for 5 years, I have realized I rely on sugar for energy more than I think. As I get older, and have more on my life plate, my energy is dwindling and need more to sustain me throughout the week. I reach for items to put in my body that will keep me going. This is not necessarily a bad or good thing. I am aware of it happening. 

Some days my healthy diet just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes, I have long work weeks or something throws me off my game and I need an energy boost. In my earlier days, getting more energy out of me was going to the bar and having a drink. The sugar alone in the drink gave me my second or third wind for the day. Now, a cookie, a piece of chocolate and even tons of honey is my elixir, some days are worse than others.

Everything in moderation I have heard over and over. But sometimes, moderation isn’t enough to get me through to the end of the day without having more than one cookie or piece of chocolate, but I don’t beat myself up about it. What I do, is keep in mind my awareness of my relationship with sugar. Just like when I reached for a second or third drink to give me a boost of energy, I am aware I am doing the same with food now. 

Habits are funny like that. If you are not careful, the same habit creeps up on you in a different way. Just like the same type of person may keep showing up in your life, until you acknowledge it. I try to acknowledge my patterns of sugar intake with how much stress I am experiencing in the week, the month or even in the day. This helps me be aware of what might come next. This awareness slows down my sugar ride by creating some distance between my thoughts and my actions. I’m not too hard on myself about my relationship with my friend sugar, I know it is here to stay and I welcome it in my life but I am also not naïve about my patterns and habits with it. I try to create an inclusive and non judgemental space for sugar in my life so that I am not so harsh on myself when it shows up in my life a little more than I would like for a small period of time. I breath, take a bite, enjoy and get on with my life. 

“You can be miserable before you have a cookie, and you can be miserable after you eat a cookie, but you can’t be miserable while you are eating a cookie.” – Ina Garten 

Pushing Yourself Too Hard

This morning when I woke up to a soggy wet winter day, the first thought that went through my mind was, I’m not going for a run today! That’s how the day started, and the mood was set. Negative and irritated. Cue the negative self-talk – I should go for a run, I haven’t gone for a run in a while, I should get fresh air, I’m being lazy and on and on. The “I should” statements were loud and annoying, putting me in a dark frame of mind and discouraged me from being motivated to doing anything at all. I fell down the rabbit hole. This brought up an interesting thought about motivation and the fine line between encouraging yourself to be motivated and pushing yourself too hard.

I have been told in the past, by many people that I am too hard on myself. I think this mostly stemmed from my inability to make proper life decisions and lack of values. So, I concentrated my energy on everything. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I changed my degree at University three times, had multiple long-term relationships with various boyfriends, dabbled in art, had numerous precarious jobs and was wandering from one interest to the next. I wanted to master it all. I gave myself so many tasks to complete by a certain age that I can tell you that almost none of them were completed and most of my accomplishments are only variations of what I expected I would achieve. I think this is where the pushing too hard lives. In the idea that something is “supposed to be”. The “supposed to be” lives in an imaginary concrete world and my life is not so black and white anymore. My motivation and goals are not defined by time. Motivation is something I live every day. 

As my values started to solidify my interests narrowed and it was easier for me to understand what my priorities are. I don’t have to master everything I try. I have goals, but I don’t attach too much expectation and keep an open mind regarding the process. The end product from any goal is almost always something of a variation of what you expect not the exact thing and that is ok. I was chasing an expectation and a certain outcome. Today, I am grateful for the learning process of anything I am studying or reading, any physical activity I am doing and embrace any new situation I am met with, because that is all I can control really. Relinquishing my need to control situations and dropping the rigid timeline has helped me to feel less anxious about the future and I have learned how and what motivates me.

Recently I became a new mom, and this was one of the steepest learning curves I have ever faced. I was anxious and upset that I didn’t know how to be a mom. I asked myself, why I didn’t know how to do this with ease? Simple answer, because I am a new mom. I am so quick to find short cuts to the learning process. There are no short cuts to learning something new! There are no short cuts in life! Read that last sentence again…I am still learning to be a mom.

That is the lesson about pushing too hard. Time will help you learn what you need to know. Be patient. Your values will lead you to where you need to be, the people around you will tell you who you are, and your body will tell you when you want to rest. I think our culture glorifies pushing ourselves to our limits. This in turn puts unrealistic expectations of what we can actually achieve. I’m not a super mom, or super wife or super anything. I take it in one moment at a time and learn from what the moment is trying to teach me. I reflect back in gratitude and see now that despite not checking off what I think I should have done today or ten, fifteen years ago, my experiences shaped and carved out my precious life today.

If you cannot take a moment to appreciate the hard work that is behind you, then the pushing too hard will never end. There lies a fine line between dissatisfaction/survival mode and complacency. Sometimes we need to stop, rest and appreciate where we are before pushing harder. I take pride in honouring what I have been through, how far I have come and look forward to everyday, even on the days that I forgo exercise to sit, broody, on the couch, with a warm blanket and a hot turmeric tea.