Interested in hearing what goes on in the mind of a life coach/aerobics instructor? While it can be a bizarre place, it's always entertaining...mostly at my expense. Witness my struggle/dance/frustration/celebration with change as I stray out of my comfort zone and encounter other brave and interesting souls along the way.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Odyssey--Why Isn't This Easier???

OK, so I hopped on the dreaded scale again this morning and discovered that I gained a pound. (You know that is directly a result of that burger on Sunday!) That means in 4 weeks, I only managed to lose 3 pounds. Damn! OK, I guess being sick didn't help matters. But I ate salad for dinner the last 4 nights in a row! That should, at the very least, have given me a loss or gain of zero. Why did I GAIN a pound?

Maybe the scale is having an off-day.

And this is why I do not advocate cultivating any sort of relationship with any device designed to spit out an approximation of your body weight. Especially women, right? I mean, we can gain 3 pounds of water weight overnight, apparently. It's crazy. The better measure is how your clothes fit you. But which clothes? We're none of us on speaking terms. Well, that's an exaggeration. Anything with spandex is OK by me. And I begin to see the benefits of those low-rise jeans that the Britney-wannabes sport. Low waist band means no need to loosen the belt after a meal.

OK, that's enough. Back to the drawing board, er I mean decline board...

Create or Eliminate? That is the Question

Something just occurred to me. Most of the people I know are stuck in the striving mode. Maybe it's our US culture that dictates the merits of having dreams and goals as well as possessions. I think most people have a specific image in mind when you ask them, "What's the American Dream?" The problem is, it's a bit like the dilemma of Sisyphus. You remember, he's the Greek guy whose version of Hell/Hades was to pain-stakingly push a HUGE boulder up a mountain everyday. Once he managed to reach his goal, it ALWAYS ended up crashing back down to the bottom and he had to start all over again for eternity.

In the modern world I see it more as having that to-do list or the "100 things to accomplish before I die" list. Nothing wrong with lists necessarily. I personally can't live without them. The problem is that even as we reach a goal or finish a task and cross it off the list, we almost immediately come up with 1 or even 3 additional tasks that take their place at the bottom of the list and make the end point equally or even more distant.

So I'm wondering, what would it be like to reorient your life for a day or week or even a year around trying to get rid of something instead of trying to obtain something? How about, if your big goal in life was to grow your small business into a million dollar company, to instead focus on living a life with an absence of indecision or self-doubt? How might that rock your world? (No pun intended.) What would it give you? If you got rid of self-doubt, you might make decisions faster, eliminate procrastination which would free up more energy, act more confidently which would attract customers and business associates and intimidate your competition. There might be 100s of benefits! Or how about the absence of clutter or paying your bills late or pettiness? What would it be like to say, "I am going to devote the next 3 months to dealing with the clutter in my life and developing systems to eliminate it for good!"

This way of thinking is quite a shift for me. It might seem silly or impossible to you and that's OK.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Odyssey--What We Learned from Rocky Balboa

So when we set our own personal goals for such things as getting in shape or losing weight, who keeps track? Who give us points for successfully resisting the siren call of the snooze button? Who pats us on the back for walking away from the chips & dip? Where are the balloons when we reach a milestone? The cheerleaders? The story on the front page of the newspaper?

Sadly, it seems we are often all alone on our quest. It comes down to setting the goal and sticking it out for our own satisfaction and NOT for anyone else. This can be tough at times and at others, the greatest reward.

I caught part of "Rocky" last night. (Can you believe that movie is more than 20 years old?) There's a scene where Rocky wakes up at 4am, in the dead of a Philadelphia winter. Dragging himself out of bed, he staggers over to the refrigerator, cracks 6 or 7 eggs into a glass and gulps it all down. This is followed by a brutal, lung-bursting, heart-pummelling run around the city which ends with a painful-to-watch climb up a tower of stairs. Flash forward several months later and here's a finely tuned Rocky doing one-handed push-ups, sprinting along the waterfront, and racing up the same stairway, where he holds his arms up in victory to an audience of zero.

That is why we do it. Why we walk an extra block or turn down dessert. Why we make an effort to drink more water than we like, ride our bike to the store, or get up 20 minutes earlier than we have to. And each effort, no matter how small, is a triumph. Crowds would roar if they only knew. Hear the echo in you head and revel in it.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Odyssey--Oh, How I Hate That Scale!

Yeah, you haven't heard me rant about my quest to lose 5 pounds lately. Sorry about that. I am now afraid to have a face-off with the scale because I have been sick the last 5 days and have been weak on my feet. I do credit myself with the self-control to NOT exercise while I'm feeling poorly. The co-ed me would have gone running in the fog or taught a spinning class with a fever of 102. So hey, I've evolved!

I do know that as of last week, I had lost 4 pounds in 4 weeks. This is all good and proper. This is what all the nutritionists and personal trainers will advise. But it's been a bitch! I've been eating salads practically every night and have not had any ice cream. Well, OK, I had a little, but not as much as I wanted. Then there have been the sessions at the track: here I am sprinting straights and jogging curves. There I go, running up the stadium steps and doing sit-ups. Ugh!

Not to say that I have been a saint. There was that luscious double-double burger and fries from In-and-Out Burger that my brother brought over yesterday. This is why I am afraid of that scale. It's a liar! I found that if you position it on different places of the bathroom floor, it gives you different results. There is perhaps very little more ridiculous than a buck naked woman, scooting a digital scale hither and yon with her toe in the quest for the lowest possible read-out.

Good lord! TMI.

The Game of Life? I Thought We Were Playing Monopoly!

And so you see, I am most definitely H-U-M-A-N. I haven't blogged in a week, and actually, I feel very badly about that. Can you substitute flogging for blogging? JK. I don't want to parade a string of excuses in front of you. No one enjoys that. Suffice it to say that major deadlines and the common cold knocked me off my rocker. Can anyone out there relate???

I can say that I accomplished many things. I can also say, many other things did not get done. And so I find them on my plate this week, and rightly so.

The lesson here, if there need be one, is that life happens. People around you do not always behave as planned or expected. Some die. Some are born. Others get sick. It happens. That is not the lesson. The lesson is, no matter what happens, life is not a video game. There is no such thing as GAME OVER. The lesson is to pick yourself up and to keep playing, no matter how large or tiny the setback. And when that doesn't seem possible (and who hasn't had one of those days, weeks, years?)...make up new rules.

See you on the playground.

Monday, June 21, 2004

From Cradle to Grave

Well, I fell off the blogwagon big time last week! Let me tell you why.

First of all, a next door neighbor passed away after a mercifully quick struggle with cancer. This was a heavy blow to the family that was left behind as well as to our immediate community. What to say at times like these? For my part, I expressed myself through cooking and brought over comfort food (banana bread and chili). Ah, how many of us turn to food in one way or another during times of stress! Even more comforting, however, was witnessing the mass and seeing how that truly brought friends and family together in a bond that pays tribute to those who are no longer with us. It was quite a reminder that we are not immortal. Life is not as deep or as serious as we can sometimes make it. Better to enjoy it at all times and not taking oneself so seriously!

Secondly, I had the privilege of being near when my brother's family welcomed a new addition yesterday with the birth of Kainoa Andrew Nishida. There is nothing quite like receiving a phone call in the middle of the night. The initial disorientation and then the pounding heart when you wonder, "Who died? What happened? What's wrong?" But this was an occasion that I had looked forward to and time became irrelevant. To hold a baby in your arms just minutes after he has been born is priceless.

Again, more reflections pop up. One of the main reasons I moved from Northern to Southern California in April was that I wanted to be closer with my family. In coaching, we often have our clients assess their values. We ask, which values express who they are as a person? Values are usually concepts that we can actually live without, but in their absence, we feel that something is missing. We feel unexpressed or that life is unfulfilling. Maybe, we surmise, life is just meant to be somewhat unsatisfying. Maybe that's all there is. Who am I to believe life should hold something finer, something more satisfying? Who am I to want a truly GREAT life?

One of my values, as I discovered when doing an exercise with my coach, is FAMILY. And very quickly, in a matter of months, I saw that I was not living my life in line with that value. I was doing pretty good on my other top 3, but "family" was achingly neglected. Hence the move. If I said that I did not have any doubts about moving, that I was sure I was not making a HUGE mistake, I'd be lying. But once I got down here, once I began interacting with my family on a daily basis, instead of a big moment/holiday/biannual vacation basis, I knew I'd gotten it right. Living my life in line with my value of "family" has me feeling at peace with my inner self. And I'm not saying that my definition of family is the only one, but that it's the right one for me.

What values represent who you are at your core? How well are you honoring them? Remember, life is short. We are all going to die. Are you LIVING the life that you want? Or are you living according to someone else's values, wants, needs, expectations?

Wow, I had not meant to get so philosophical! I merely wanted to recount the hightlights of my week and the illustrate that life can get in the way of well thought-out plans. Blessings.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Odyssey #14--Perspective

I volunteered yesterday to work the Closing Ceremonies of the 3rd Annual AIDS/Lifecycle Ride at Dodger Stadium. Can I just say, it really puts things in perspective when you see folks who just rode a bike for a grand total of 586 miles over 7 days to raise nearly 5 million dollars for a good cause. One of my fellow volunteers said it best: "My friend is doing the ride and I thought that if he can do that, I can at least drag my butt out of the house to volunteer for a few hours."

Definitely more on this later. But whenever I don't feel like going for a little jog, I'm going to pull up a mental image of those courageous, enthusiastic people, toiling from San Francisco to Los Angeles and say to myself, "What, I can't drag my butt out of the house to run for a mere 30 minutes?"

Look around you. It's everywhere if you open your eyes. Inspiration. People who struggle and win with a smile on their face as others sit, slumped in their chairs. Be brave. I have it from a very good source that it's worth it.

Friday, June 11, 2004

The Odyssey #13--The Lapse

This is the is so easy to fall out of one's routine, especially when in the process of attempting to develop a new, good-for-you habit. Example: I negelected to post on the blog yesterday and suddenly felt today as though I dreaded it. It just seemed so much easier to shrug the task off and forget about it. Another example: I have been eating really well all week. (Did I mention that I lost a pound???) However, after dinner with my family, we had some little pecan tarts. Having that tiny sweet treat suddenly made me feel like I had to have more and so I ended up raiding a candy dish later that night for the few remaining pieces of chocolate leftover from Christmas. (You know you have sunk to a new low when you are salivating over a stale piece of Almond Roca.)

These episodes are called lapses. And it's important to see it from that perspective. A lapse is a one-time incident, a set-back. It is not the end of the game or an occasion to give up, as tempting as that might seem.

Hence, I am here, typing away at 10pm, and enjoying it. And I did not have anything sweet today even though I am keenly aware of the Hagaan Dazs in the freezer and the chocolate-peanut butter cookies in the pantry. Fortunately, tomorrow is Saturday, my license to eat day. Thank God.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

LA Story: What's Next? Folks in Springfield, Illinois naming their Airport After Homer Simpson?

OK, I just had to post something about this! The powers that be in Orange County are thinking of renaming the John Wayne Airport after the Fox television prime time soap opera, "The OC." Can you believe it? And people think this is a GOOD idea. Mind you, I have never once watched that show (really) but I have heard that it doesn't excatly paint a rosy picture of that area of Southern California or its residents. Politicians are also suggesting that signs be posted on the border that say, "Welcome to the OC." I find this hilarious! And I know this just gives ammunition to those Bay Area folks who are still smarting over the World Series loss to the Anaheim Angels. But far from eliciting a feeling of contempt, I just find it amusing. It's all so fitting. Afterall, the Anaheim hockey team is named after a fictional hockey team from a Disney movie.

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Odyssey #12--Carbo Loading

Oh, sometimes there are days when I just don't want to eat a salad! And how do people manage those low carb diets? I swear that almost everything I ate today was a carbohydrate...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

What's Your Excuse? #3--I Don't Have Time to Exercise

We've all used this one a million times. If you've been reading my blog entries titled "The Odyssey," you know that I often try to talk my way out of going for a run. And I grant you that there are only so many hours in a day (24, the last time I checked) and you probably have a thousand things to do and hundreds of other things that you never get around to doing at all. If that's the case, ask yourself this question, "Is it that I don't have the time or that I won't make it?"

This one truly comes down to your priorities. How important is your health and well-being? Is it less important than watching your favorite sitcoms? And now that it's summer, it's either reruns or the b-list shows that got turned down from the fall line-up and are shuffled into the consolation domain of summer. Is it less important that surfing the internet or reading this blog? Are you saying that your health is so unimportant that you can't even carve out 20-30 minutes a day? Even if you sleep 8 hours a day, you've still got 960 minutes to play with. What's 20 minutes going to cost you? And what will that 20 minutes of daily exercise gain you in the long run?

I know you must be thinking, "But 20 minutes of exercise really means at least 40 minutes because of time spent preparing and cleaning up afterwards." Yeah, yeah. Do you see how easy it is to make up excuses? Is it possible to shift your thinking away from "traditional" forms of exercise such as jogging, cycling, or anything involving a gym and a shower afterwards? Can you think of ways to sneak exercise into your day? You've probably heard many suggestions over the last few years such as, "Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car a few blocks from your destination and walk the rest of the way. Do a wall sit or push-ups while watching TV instead of just sitting on the couch." OK, I made that last one up. But you get the idea. If you scoff at these suggestions, then ask yourself again, "Is it that I don't have the time or that I won't make the time?"

If the answer is the latter, then it's a matter of answering one final question, "Why?"

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The Odyssey #11--Lance vs. JR Ewing

At last a minor success! Had a great bike ride today and just enjoyed being outside for a change. Much of my work keeps me indoors, chained to my desk, so the chance to toil outside was a welcome respite. This is the time of year in SoCal where it's not quite summer yet and so no blazing heat nor choking smog. I have to say that I enjoyed biking over the hills, admiring the clinging grass and fragrant sycamore trees, so much that it didn't even seem like exercise. Ah-ha! I must savor this moment as I know there will be other days when cycling will seem like such a struggle.

Today was the triumph and I could identify with Lance Armstrong preparing to enter the Tour de France. Oh, and most disturbing news: Outdoor Life Network (OLN) which provides excellent coverage of The Tour suddenly dropped off my cable network to be replaced by, of all things, The Soap Network! Tragic!

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Odyssey #10--The Rules

I have a precarious relatonship with food. It's a little too easy for me to cross the line between having a nice, little snack and scarfing down an entire bag of popcorn. And I admit, I have been very lax in the past month and have let my eating habits slide. So now, unfortunately, I have to resort to enforcing the rules once again. Doesn't sound very appealing, does it? Well, judge for yourself: Rule #1 no potato chips, except on the weekend, and then, only one bag. (Chips are my biggest temptation. Well that cream). Hence, Rule #2, ice cream only once a week, and please, not the entire pint. That's it really. Mostly I try to eat in a very healthy way during the week and then I let things go to hell over the weekend, but in moderation.

It's funny, but when you are an aerobics instructor, people assume that you can eat whatever you want. Unfortunately, that's a big myth. Oh, the unfairness of it all! Even in my heyday of working out 14 times a week (and I'm not saying that's a good thing; fitness instructors are often the WORST role models!), I had to strictly enforce rules # 1 & 2 and eat salads during the week, etc. At least now, I'm working out in a sane way (5 times/week) and adhering strictly to The Rules. Truly a step in the right direction.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Odyssey #9--The Carrot

For those of you who struggle to implement a fitness routine, take heart in the following statement: you are not alone. Note that I actually enjoy exercise (!) and yet sometimes getting dressed and heading out the door for a jog or bike ride is the most excruciating ordeal. And, sometimes I don't make it. I talk myself out of it and end up eating a breakfast of something involving syrup or fried instead. But this morning, I won the battle, purely because I remembered my goal, the proverbial carrot. Gotta lose those 5 pounds, dammit! Gotta be in shape for the conference of endorphine-addicted yoga/step/cycling/dance/boxing instructors. It's kind of like facing the prospect of an upcoming high school reunion. (Speaking of which, my 20th is coming up sometime this year! Dammit!) Even though you know your friends will accept you for who you are and all that you've become, you still want to feel that you can hold your own.

This morning I DID NOT WANT TO GO RUNNING. And then I remembered the 5 pound goal and how it will feel to get back in shape...and I got out of bed, pulled on the shorts and tank top, and headed for the hills.

I often coach my clients to set their vision, which is bigger than just a goal, for their project. How lovely to find from experience that this stuff really works!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Odyssey #8--2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

I'm rather proud to report that I did drag my butt out of bed early enough the morning to head out the door by 6am. Ran 3 miles around the high school track at a somewhat vigorous pace and still had time for a shower and a bowl of cereal before my 7am meeting. Thank goodness because I couldn't turn down the bowl of ice cream my sister-in-law offered me tonight after dinner. (It was Haagen Dazs, in case you wondered. Coconut Pineapple.) So did that bowl completely undo the 3 miles? Hmmm. Well, I also walked my dogs for about 5 miles, so I hope that counts for something. Still, I can't help feeling that I need to get a little more serious about saying good-bye to the spare 5 pounds.

If the beginning is always today, why do I often talk myself into believing the beginning is really tomorrow???

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Odyssey #7--The Last 5 Pounds

Ugh. It's got to be done. I am going to lost the five pounds I gained since moving down here by June 30th. You realize that I am scheduled to attend a fitness (ie-aerobics) conference in early July? I'm talking, these attendees are the fittest of the fit. I may not fall into that category but I've got to make an effort. This means it's time for some serious work. I have got to establish a solid exercise routine and manage my eating habits. This latter part is the most difficult as it is hard to turn down the great food my family loves to eat. My self-control definitely goes out the window when I'm with my family.

So I plan to wake up early tomorrow and get a quick 3-mile run in before my 7am appointment. If that's going to happen, I need to get to bed soon.

So can I do it? 5 pounds in 30 days? Stay tuned.

What's Your Excuse? #2--I'm Not Athletic, part II

OK, I admit, it took me more than a few hours to get back to you. I hope that you took that time to mull over the notions you have around the word "athletic." What does it mean to you? Is it negative, neutral, positive? Do you feel a charge of emotion around it? If so, you might want to look a bit deeper into it.

If you feel you can't adopt an exercise routine because you simply aren't "built that way," then let's try to approach excerise from another, non-athletic point of view. How can you simply become active? Did you know that a study recently showed that gardening is the 2nd most effective activity for strengthening bones in women, after weight lifting? So do you enjoy spending a little time watering the lawn, planting summer vegetables, or pruning the rose bushes? That's exercise. Do you need to be Venus Williams to successfully plant a flower bed? Nope. What else is there? Walking, line dancing, hiking...and all without the need to be a superstar.

Face it, "I'm not athletic" is just a phrase that you use to hold yourself back. It's an excuse, and a flimsy one at that. No one said that you have to compete in life. All you have to do is come out and play. Stop knocking yourself and get out there.