What I Learned from my Teen Daughter…

I am learning as much from my children as I think they are from me.  As I am settling or adjusting into my role as a teen parent, I can firmly say that nothing that I was told and/or read could have prepared me for how I would handle it.

It’s been over a year since the depths of teen despair, and, as I reflect on the subtle and not so subtle changes I’ve made in how I interact with my daughter, I realize now and accept that I was as much a part of the issues we experienced while she was figuring-out who, what and why.

In the past few months, I’ve consciously been saying and doing a lot less and, consequently, been hearing, seeing and allowing her to assume her space on her own terms.  It’s been hard to bite my tongue and let her be but what I thought was best for HER is exactly what she was protesting because she was screaming, “I am me”, literally and figuratively.

As I listen and watch as she navigates her path into who she is and will be…it’s a beautiful thing that I’ve learned and allowed her to be.

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Sustainability in Health and Fitness…

FullSizeRenderSummer has meant wait time between kids’ activities…today, I started thinking about sustainability in health and fitness.
Fitness became a passion during a very vulnerable time in my life. I had lost all sense of self because I became 100% Mom and wife and didn’t think about nurturing myself. I think back to why and what led to the decision of becoming a full-time Mom and it was not only a fortunate option that I fully embraced but also one that made sense since I didn’t think my job merited someone else taking care of the kids.
Having just turned 49 years old this year has meant more to others than me as it’s just a number and not something I think about when I exercise, teach and go about my daily life. I attribute my health to a lifestyle change (mental and physical) and believe that health and fitness is much more than pounds, appearance and results for sustainability. I know my why stems from my heart and is the reason for sustainability. To identifying our health and fitness whys’.

“Grass is the color of choice”…

javcaveI have been asked “is the grass greener on the other side” and I don’t think it’s about being greener somewhere else but rather which color we choose to see wherever the grass may be.

A few years ago, I unintentionally started sharing how fitness empowered me to make changes in my life. My situation wasn’t unique but quite common in many ways. As we experience the passages in life, people change and grow either together or apart leaving two scenarios: to make it work or to move on.

I shared a lot and when I look back, I’m surprised. At the time, I believed in sharing inspired by the women who were making the choices and changes I was embarking on and never thought I could or would. It served a therapeutic purpose during a sad and difficult period.

I realized then and know now that there is no right way to being a Mom, wife and daughter but there is a choice in living our life in alignment in being confident in who we are, what is important to us and what makes us happy.

My family encouraged me to find a hobby to give me a break in the day from being MOM. I couldn’t fathom leaving my children with anyone and it wasn’t until my eldest was 13 months when I left her for two hours while I attended a bikram class. Our first vacation might have been when the children were 3 and 7 years.

The grass may seem greener on the other side but the grass always ends-up being the color we choose to see. Life changes are not easy and I am not advocating any particular choice. Incorporating fitness into life is as sustainable and important as we make the life changes we choose. “Fitness is a lifestyle, not a destination”. To being YOU!

What does healthy look like?

blogduringWhat do mindful eating and exercise look like?

The photos were taken within almost a one year period (July 2013 – present):
Left: bikini competition, July 2013, living on bars, shakes and some food but definitely not eating properly.

Middle: post 7 months bikini comp and living a more active social life that included eating/drinking more and exercising less, February 2014

Right: finding a balance between left and middle photos and getting back to a more regular exercise routine and eating more mindfully and properly: actual food and not skipping meals.

I have my own fitness and health objectives but I have had to reset my mindset and beliefs to align with a healthy sustainable lifestyle and it’s been difficult b/c what wasn’t healthy is a look that the media promotes.
I support re-set systems and jumpstart programs for just that: to help ease into new habits that are sustainable.

To health!

Eating (dis)Orders…

blogA close friend recently stated that I have an eating disorder.  I was shocked to hear this as I had always associated an eating disorder with being diagnosed with either bulimia or anorexia both of which I’m familiar with the symptoms. I don’t purge and/or starve myself so therefore I do not have an eating disorder.

I started thinking more about it in general terms and what my friend said was an abnormal relationship with food.  So I googled it and came across a few links one of which was http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org where I took a diagnostic test and this was my result:

“Your screening results are consistent with symptoms of an eating disorder. However, this screening is not a substitute for a complete clinical evaluation. It is recommended that you see a health professional immediately for a complete evaluation.”

I have an eating disorder.  What?! I think about food, reflect on what I eat during the day, am aware of the approximate caloric and carbohydrate content and will adjust accordingly throughout the day or week to maintain what I consider an ideal weight for my height and frame but is my ideal healthy?

A week ago, I had my measurements taken and myself weighed at my fitness facility where metrics are used to monitor progress.  I avoid the scale because I like to pride myself on how I feel rather than what I weigh to determine my lifestyle. I have gained weight and my body fat has increased in the past 9 months because my lifestyle has changed: eating and drinking more and exercising less.  So while I wasn’t surprised by my results, I wasn’t thrilled so I am making adjustments.

I am posting two photos because my unhealthy me is the one that I know is more universally appealing than the healthier version of me today whom eats more balanced meals and proper food more regularly throughout the day as opposed to skipping and replacing meals with bars and shakes.

I could go on and on about this topic because I can’t recall the last time I met a woman who declared that she was happy with her body as is including myself.  I think about my weight (consciously and subconsciously) as long as I’m not at my ideal (based on how I feel) and though it doesn’t impede and affect me on a daily basis nor is it obvious to the outside world, it’s a constant chatter in my head that I hope will one day subside, dissipate and eventually disappear.

I am guilty of falling prey to the media’s look of ideal health but I hope to inspire and encourage a healthy sustainable lifestyle that involves eating to enjoy and fuel and eating anything but in moderation: treats and all. To health!

Be Kind Project…

stopbullyWhen I saw this particular drawing my daughter created with her stylus and iPad mini (this generation’s freehand drawing), I was touched by its message and encouraged her to share it.

As a tween herself, Nicole can relate and empathize with the rite of passage of being a middle schooler and the impact kindness versus bullying can have on one.

It is our hope that by encouraging kindness in our personal interactions, we can have a ripple effect on worldwide peace.

Thank you for your support.

Her drawing is now available on shirts that can be purchased directly at:

http://www.booster.com/bekindproject

The Power of words…

holidayusThere will always be those who will disagree, judge and toss-out negativity but, as a friend wisely advised, “don’t allow others to choose your future”.

As a Mom of a teenage daughter, I am not only aware but sensitive to the power of words. To an adult but especially a teen who is navigating their way through life and establishing an identity, a negative comment can have the power to be not only unsettling but somewhat debilitating.  Our children model our behavior and words and so, it is our responsibility to live with compassion, care and kindness.

After reading the book entitled, “Odd Girl Speaks Out” by Rachel Simmons, and seeing the movies “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Lone Survivor”, I believe the message is the same and, that is, when our lives are at stake, it’s basic emotions of love and kindness that matter and override any pre-existing prejudices, judgements and negative feelings towards others. We are kind and loving by nature and negativity stems from pain, anger and hurt.

“We can’t control the actions of others but we can control how we respond”.

My Facebook Addiction…

FBcartoonMy relationship with Facebook started innocuously 5 years ago to reconnect with old friends, stay in contact with existing friends and family, to network and share information.

It’s been 2 days since I decided to deactivate my account and with most addicts, we think we can control our addiction but, the reality is more likely that we can’t, which is why I decided to go cold turkey, deactivate and not log-on for a while, if ever.

There is nothing wrong with Facebook.  It was how I interacted and used it that became an issue.  I started to live two realities: my Facebook and in-person reality when posting with intention to stay in contact and share information became posting to elicit a response that now had the power to dictate my mood and quality of day by likes and comments.  Instead of real-life experiences nurturing and nourishing my self-esteem and confidence, I had allowed a social media platform to assume this role.

A recent Huffington Post Parents article describes how we, as parents, have become so consumed with recording our children’s performances on electronic devices that we actually miss the performance seeing it from behind a lens.  And so it was with me, as the editor, photographer and writer of my very own Facebook reality magazine.

Two days ago, I posted a photo just to post so I thought but deep down, I realize it was related to my self-esteem by seeing how many likes and comments it would receive.  The post ignited a conversation with a close friend who left me to ponder my Facebook addiction with “that’s BS, you’ll be back on it tomorrow, you need it”.

There are many reasons for ending this relationship, but, in a nutshell, I did it because with all addictions, it was unhealthy. Since deactivating my account, my mind is more focused, more present in the moment but, most importantly, in more control of my reality and life.  Everyone is different and I am not passing judgment on Facebook and/or Facebook users.  I am sharing my own experience and also letting my family and friends know why I deactivated my account.

We define our reality by the daily choices we make.  Believe!

Lifestyle plan…

colinYesterday I had a conversation that left me thinking again about health and fitness.

I feel fortunate that fitness has become part of my lifestyle and is a passion and serves a purpose. I never set-out with a particular goal but I have been asked how and what. I attribute how I am to part genetics, eating (though I am far from a model example) and a regular routine of exercise. I have been asked on a few occasions about how to get arms like mine? I am now tempted to say this:

I have been on a 6 year program of regular exercise and mindful eating without depriving myself of the occasional treat. I still enjoy my daily granola/oatmeal mix and venti peppermint mocha but I realize I can not eat everything I’d like at any time.

There are days when I’m tired but I’ve identified a facility where I enjoy their group fitness classes which serves my purpose and which I complement with yoga and running during the week. I don’t know when this plan will end as I intend it to be a lifestyle plan.

Giving thanks…

NicoleheartHappy Thanksgiving! Thankful for a lot on this day and for my family’s encouragement to share my journey…helping one person find strength in making a decision/creating an opportunity will be but a bonus to the therapeutic exercise this page and my blog has provided me this past year.

There will always be different interpretations of experiences in life but our choice as to which one we choose. Believe!

drawing credit: daughter 12 years