Meditation Help

The following is a guest post from my fellow geeky fitness blogger and friend Mike Sweetman. Mike is a dad, teacher, yoga Instructor, life coach in training, and most importantly a massive geek! I am excited to have him share his thoughts with us, so let’s get started:

 

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It's hard to believe that less than a year ago I thought that meditation was something weird that only monks and hippies did. Nowadays, I have a 10 minute meditation routine every morning and night. And I don't plan on ever stopping!

Meditation has made me better at listening to my daughters, better at realizing when I'm full and don't need to eat more food. Better at staying focused, and better at staying calm and collected like the Jedi knight I always wanted to be.
 

Get Started Young Padawan

I could write an entire blog post on how meditation is benefiting my life, but I'm much more excited to share with you how to get started changing your life with meditation. Andy Puddicombe a meditation expert (Think Yoda) suggests, in his TED Talk, that you don't need to sit on the floor or burn incense to meditate.  All you need to do is take ten minutes a day to focus on the present moment.

Andy actually helped me get started with meditation.  I mean not personally, but he is the voice behind the amazing meditation app Headspace. The first ten meditation sessions are completely free on the Headspace app, and awesome animated videos help introduce you to the world of meditation.  Plus Andy's voice guides you through the process, and gives you tips and recommendations along the way.

I believe the videos, and expert advice Andy gives during each meditation is well worth the monthly fee, and can help you change your reality.  I suggest you take your first steps to focusing your mind like a Jedi knight with Headspace.
 

Unlock Your Inner Hero

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Mark Divine is a retired Navy Seal commander that used meditation and yoga to focus himself for dangerous seal missions.  He now has several books including "The Unbeatable Mind" that shares how he was able to get through the arduous Navy Seal training, and how to overcome self-doubt to lead and succeed in life and business.

The most powerful of the meditation methods I have learned from Mark Divine is box breathing.  To box breathe you inhale for 5 seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, exhale for five seconds, and hold your breath again for 5 seconds, and repeat the process.  This technique alone is a fantastic way to meditate, but to really unlock your inner hero, you can try thinking positive affirmations during the time you are holding your breath.

So breathe in for five seconds, think of something positive, breathe out for five seconds, again think something positive, and repeat.
 

Affirmations

Your positive affirmations could be all about your weight loss goals such as "I can and will stop eating sugar!" They could be about improving your self-esteem, such as, "I will not listen to my self-doubt." Think about your goals, and turn those into affirmations.  Don't have any goals written down goals? Well that is an entirely different blog post! But if your looking for ideas, please consider checking out The Healthy Habits Quest by clicking here.

 

Thank You!

Thanks to Robyn for letting me share my thoughts on meditation with you.  It can change your life, just don't expect it to happen all at once. And it would be great if you would checkout my up and coming Youtube channel.

Photo Credit: Yoda by JD via Flickr

Women's fitness through history

By: Kirsten Thompson

Today, physical beauty and fitness are often valued above most other qualities, including intelligence. The media bombards people, but women in particular, with images of airbrushed models and actresses who have dietitians, personal trainers, as well as a graphic designer who erases cellulite and softens wrinkles until the women smiling up from the magazine are so unrealistic that aspiring to look like them is a Sisyphean task that makes cleaning out a giant stable look more pleasant. This was not always the case, indeed the definition of what is considered 'fit and healthy' has evolved dramatically throughout history.

Pre-10,000 B.C. to approximately 8,000 B.C., before people settled in cities and ceased spending much of their days in farming and agriculture activities, there was less concern about maintaining one's personal fitness because people were working so hard they kept themselves in good shape. However, beginning in the 1860s, with the Industrial Revolution, as technological advances brought people into a more sedentary lifestyle, and they became increasingly concerned with entertainment and wealth, their level of fitness dropped. (Lance C. Dalleck and Len Kravitz, 2011).

It was at this time that there was a rising interest in cleanliness as scientific advances made the public more aware of disease. At the same time a woman’s job was primarily managing a household, and not laboring in any way that might roughen her hands, dirty her white linens, or otherwise work up an unseemly sweat. Factories became commonplace and the onus for fabricating goods fell on the lower class. They had no time to stop to think about fitness, as survival was the priority, while upper class women were expected to socialize rather than exercise. However, the rise of a middle class meant that not everyone was either extremely poor or fantastically rich. The middle class worker might be in much better physical shape than the very wealthy, as they often spent much of their day engaged in some manner of activity, and might also have to walk long distances to work. All these advantages were unfortunately negated by the growing import and availability of sugar, white flour, and processed foods, which resulted in a decline of public health.

When the government began to focus more on physical fitness, the Victorian interest in inventions and the intersection of technology and health created a wide array of fitness equipment, however women were still expected to behave and dress in ways that often inhibited their ability to take advantage of the full scope of these devices. The exception to this was the bicycle, which not only provided physical activity, but was also a means through which women found great personal freedom.

The trend of society encouraging women to focus on their appearance and ‘womanly responsibilities’ rather than their health is one that appears repeatedly in history and is often outright offensive. For instance, in the early 1900s, there was even concern about whether exercise may have had adverse effects on a woman's ability to have children. As modern science has shown, exercise, like most things, when used in moderation will have a positive effect rather than a negative one. But that archaic thinking persists and is extremely harmful to women’s mental and physical well-being.

The flip side of such thinking is that women should conform to an ideal physical appearance, no matter their actual health or ability. There is this perception being put forward by media, as well as diet and fitness companies that ‘thin is perfect.'

The media's approach to women and exercise is often that such activity may make them undesirable or sterile, and yet if they don't possess the 'perfect body' as per the standards of the time, they are even more unattractive. In short, when it comes to women and working out, it's hard to win. Today that can be seen when female athletes have more well-developed muscles, and are then perceived as being 'too butch,' i.e. unattractive. Of course, men are encouraged to make use of all sorts of illegal stimulants in order to become ridiculously muscular, while women should ‘know their limits,’ and stay safely within the bounds of whatever constitutes feminine health at the moment.

Whether this is simply a cycle that will continue repeating throughout human history remains to be seen. An encouraging sign is that awareness of this trend is far more prevalent, and women now have many more opportunities to make choices about the ways in which they pursue physical fitness that are independent from the expectations of media or society.


About the author Kirsten Thompson:
Writer. Editor of Strange Wit, The Bargain. Featured contributor @femsplain. Intersectional feminist. Needs more tea.

The Geek Who Eats Her Veggies - My unexpected Journey

By: Dani Sofi Hernandez

This time last year I probably could not tell you the difference between a head of cabbage and broccoli to save my life. It was all Netflix reruns, delivery pizza and marathons, (and not the running kind). By the end of the summer of 2014, I weighed a total of 156 pounds. Being a girl with the height of 5”7, I realize I was no Jabba the Hut, but my body shape did not make me feel like I would be slipping into a Princess Leia slave bikini any time soon… So I decided to toss away the boxed mac and cheese and strap on some running shoes instead. Just that easy right? Wrong. Who knew losing weight would be so tedious and downright impossible?! Being an 18 year old girl in this society is so dangerous because of how easily poisoned we become from the media and magazines. The image we are expected to present for this culture is absolutely impossible to attain. I was so unaware how to properly begin this journey into health, wellness, and weight loss; so naturally I seeked guidance from the internet. I found ads for magical weight loss pills and crazy restricted diets with “do’s and don'ts” about how to eat food and exercise. Of course, me being completely unaware of the actual damage these things truly could cause, I decided my desperation was bigger than my patience. I went to crazy bootcamps and late night spinning classes while eating the same amount of food you’d give your pet hamster. My results? They were quick, but they came with consequences: hair falling out, anemia, body tissue torn down as well as constant fatigue. I could not hold a weight heavier than ten pounds and my skin had turned a dull grey tone. Just the look everyone aims for right? After some time the restriction and weakness made me so powerless that I lost control and began binging and trying to compensate for all the damage I had done. Is that any better of a solution? Definitely not.

        Then one night I was on Netflix and found this set of documentaries that changed my whole world in nourishment and health. I put away the scale and began loading up my plate with fibrous vegetables with real sources of protein and my fear of carbs became extinct forever. I realized that you do not have to eat less to be healthy and lose weight, just eat better! I began to eat three main meals a day; beginning my day with a bowl of oatmeal and ending it with a grilled chicken and steamed broccoli. My greatest struggle in the beginning of finally eating correctly was obtaining all this healthy food! The only knowledge I had in the kitchen was how to use a microwave and on good days I could make toast. That's when I finally cracked open the cook books and “how to’s” in healthy eating. My boyfriend and my mother are severely allergic to dairy and my intolerance for it made it so much easier to cut it completely out of my diet. I began learning to bake organically using clean ingredients such as bananas and oatmeal as flour bases as well as black beans and avocados. My baking cut out all dairy products and sugar making it easy to squeeze a tasty treat into my new healthy lifestyle. I made it a goal to diminish the idea that healthy food was unpleasant to taste buds. My 73 calorie brownies and my vegan banana peanut butter nut cake became quite popular in my household. Suddenly, as I watched the faces of my family and friends as they enjoyed each bite more than the last, I came to the realization that nothing made me feel more satisfied than watching those enjoy my healthy alternatives. I now cook savory/sweet alternatives to almost any dish (cauliflower alfredo fettuccine, avocado portobello pizzas, beet red velvet milkshakes).

Cooking is my passion; I spend more time in the kitchen than I do in my own bed. After finding a balance in my workout schedule and learning healthier techniques for relaxation like attempting yoga(emphasis on the attempting), I began to see my weightloss progress in a whole new direction! I joined this incredible gym and my hunger for more knowledge in wellness grew. My friends began consulting me for ways they could lose a few pounds as well as change their eating habits. I felt safer that they came to me, because I had begun to educate myself more on the human body and how to live healthily as well as signing up to get my nutritionist/ fitness instructor certification.
 

Where am I now? Well, it has been one whole year: I dropped a total of 52 pounds and I plan on heading off to culinary school to become a healthified chef as well as studying to get my instructor’s license. My passion for wellness is growing everyday in hopes to reach out to all the girls that are struggling like I once was. I can reflect on my struggles to help those around me grow and avoid the wrong routes I once took. Reminding others that every body shape is beautiful and happiness is only achieved if you reach your goals with love and a healthy passion. The first step on the route to wellness is never forgetting to love yourself.

-The Geek Who Eats Her Veggies


An e-mailed message to a client (That maybe can help you too)

I was going through a rough patch. Feeling overwhelm, having nightmares, STRESSED! I'm sharing that because I want you to know that even though things are going a lot better for me than they were just a year ago... I still fall apart sometimes. I think that's a part of why I find life easier to handle these days though, because something will ALWAYS fall apart. That's the thing about life, things fall apart, it's the natural state of everything. The last falling apart being death (at least that we know of). So, I guess I just wanted to tell you that it is OK if you feel like everything is horrible sometimes, maybe at that moment, most things are.