Archive | January, 2018

Choose Happy

13 Jan

cow

Over the Christmas break I was having a very funny conversation with my parents about someone who is particularly difficult to deal with – historically and present day.  I said to my Dad ‘how can that person not recognize how off-putting and polarizing their behavior is?’  Dad said ‘I think a lot of it is genetic and it isn’t going to change in this instance.’  He said ‘just like intelligence, some people are smart and some people are negative.’  I’ve always been adverse to such ways, but with age I have become even more turned off by it.  As in, I literally find myself tuning out of conversations where the outlook is negative or critical of others.  As I get ready for my day I listen to podcasts.  I start off my day  listening to inspiring talks with inspiring people.  Today it was Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations and she was talking to Gretchen Rubin who wrote The Happiness Project.   It was 32 minutes of I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THAT content.  She stated that happiness is actually 50% genetic, so it seems that my Pa was correct!  It got me thinking about happiness and how it is such a prevalent topic.  How do you find it?  How do you stay happy?  Why are some people more happy than others even though they have less or have more challenges?  Why are some people never happy?

I’ve always been a naturally ‘happy’ person.  I generally see the positive side of things and I always remain optimistic.  I guess we can say that is 50% because of my genetics, but what about the other 50%?   Or let’s say 40% because no one is 100% happy or positive (and anyone who acts like every single thing is amazing is covering something up).   Believe me, there are times when I feel like giving the finger, I’ve done my fair share of gossiping (and complaining) and I’ve been in a relationship that definitely brought me down.  And I am now 37 and single – not what I envisioned when I was younger.  Some days the inner cynic in me comes out, but I genuinely try to kick those shitty thoughts to the curb.

To exemplify what I am talking about, I will give you a little window into my world.  When I wake up in the morning I send a few girlfriends (who need a little pump up) positive thoughts, videos or quotes for the day.  It is therapeutic for me too.  Millie (my dog) and I head out for the day – I never used to listen to music when I walk, but now I do.  As I trot along I often find myself singing out loud to the songs I am listening to.  The music puts a little more bounce in my step and it has been a great addition to my morning.   We walk to my brothers house where we scoop their Golden Retriever (who is always pumped to see us).  Along the way to the office we talk to many people who love dogs.  In particular, there is a guy who asks for money on Spring Garden Road and we walk by him most days.  The dogs LOVE him, and so most mornings we stop to chat with him.  The dogs lean into him, lick him and just give him a big dose of love.  Earlier this week he told me that he watches for us every morning and that seeing the dogs is the best part of his day.   (Heart warmer!!)   I am sure he is invisible to most people, but the dogs treat him like he is the best thing since sliced bread.  After that we make our way my way to the office to start the day.    This past Wednesday it was super icy.  Black ice everywhere along the way.   When I got to my office I changed from my sensible winter walking shoes to my ‘not so sensible for the winter booties’ (they are leopard so that should indicate their level of their uselessness in winter).  Shortly after arriving I had to pop out for a meeting which was only a block from my office.  Forgetting about the black ice I stepped off my office steps with great vigor (at the same time two guys were walking by).  My front foot hit the ice and slid forward while my back foot was still on the step.  I literally did a full Nadia Comeneci style splits.  I popped back up (in my dress) in record time to the boys saying “Oh wow, ahhhhh, are you okay?” to which I said “Oh yes, I am fine!’  I took one step forward and BAM I went down again.  This time a face plant type of fall.  I again popped right back up and one guy said to the other ‘Take her hand man’.  I said laughing ‘No, no, I got it.  I am going to walk gingerly now.  I didn’t even rip my tights and I gave you guys your story for the day!’  We all had a solid laugh and I made my way to my meeting.  My hands were burning from hitting the pavement and my legs were wet.  The meeting was with a mom who recently lost her 43 year old daughter to ovarian cancer over Christmas.  Talk about a way to snap back out of your own shit and be grateful for everything you have.

What I am getting at – the other 40% is within you.   It is how you choose to use your time, control your thoughts, perceptions and reactions to life.   I dated someone who made lots of money and he was one of the most negative creatures I’ve ever met.  Happiness doesn’t come from money.  I’ve met people who are married and they complain endlessly about their partner.  Happiness doesn’t come from having a partner (or how they behave).  I’ve met people who have great jobs, but they are miserable.  Happiness doesn’t come from your job.  I know people who are beautiful and thin, but they are insecure and self critical.  Happiness doesn’t come from being beautiful or skinny.  I’ve met people who have all of the nicest things (big house, cars, clothes, travel) their heart could desire, but they aren’t happy.  Happiness doesn’t come from things.

As my very wise brother told me once upon a time – life is mostly made up of choices.  Most of the parts of your life are choices you made:  the big house (that you might have to work your ass off to pay for), the job (that you are spending too much time at to pay for the house), the partner, the kids, the commitments and the list goes on. Now don’t get me wrong folks – there is nothing wrong with a nice house, a busy job, wanting to climb the ladder or having nice things.   I am talking about your attitude towards it.  How do you treat other people, do you complain, do you feel stressed, do you feel joy?   Life is going to throw curveballs at us – lots of shitty things happen that we can’t control.  If you’re already off balance when those things happen it is going to be a real challenge.  One of my dearest friends lost her Dad unexpectedly on Christmas Day.  The support she has received from others is amazing because she is awesome and always goes out of her way to help others.  You get out what you put in.

Everyone’s idea of what makes you happy is different.  I dare you to do a few things that make you feel happy – it will make your day better and anyone who you come in contact with too.  As one of my favorite quotes states: Awesome things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow.

 

 

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Resolution Revolution

4 Jan

resolution

 

Every single year in early January we make BIG declarations about what we are going to be better at this year.  Exercise more! Lose weight! Money! Time management!  No drinking!  Putting yourself ‘out there’ more!  More adventure!  And so on.  Monday, January 16th, will be what we call Blue Monday or better known as ‘The Most Depressing Day of The Year’.  Christmas cheer has worn off, you’ve likely broken your resolutions, its flipping freezing out and your December credit card statement has arrived in your inbox.  A dirty-dirty combination indeed.

I am going to focus on the one I think is the most common:  lose weight.  I don’t know about you, but most every weight related resolution I’ve ever made has not happened or if it happened it wasn’t maintained long term.  I go out of the gate strong, planning, hitting the gym, packing my lunch and then I fall off the self  betterment rails – thus making the resolution a failure.  Left with tight pants, a gym membership not being used and a bad case of the guilt’s for not using it (and for failing at the big resolution).  Oprah is a favorite of mine and as you most certainly know she has dealt with weight her entire life.  Up and down.  Skinny to fat – fat to skinny.  This was all under the watchful eye of the world.  I remember she once said that when her pants don’t fit her she feels the exact same way as anyone else does.  The difference being she was photographed, scrutinized and criticized.  How could someone who has chefs and trainers at her beck and call, still fail at weight loss?  Over the last few years, she says, she has changed her relationship with her body (and food).  In the past she focused on hating her thighs, criticizing her body and dieting.  Instead, she changed her thoughts: it isn’t about a diet, but instead a commitment to see things differently.  Starting out from a place of gratitude and positivity instead of a state of self loathing.  It isn’t about saying: I am cutting out sugar! I am cutting out carbs! I am cutting out gluten! I am cutting out wine!   I am running a marathon!  Or when I lose 20 pounds I’ll be HAPPY.  I’ve run 3 half marathons in my life and when I did them I lost weight.  I hated every-single-minute of it.  That runners high everyone talks about.  I never achieved it.  The only high I ever felt was when I crossed the finish line and thought THANK JESUS that is over and I was able to take off my two sports bras.  Resolution statements are usually short term – 5 pounds down and then 7 back on when you start to eat pasta again or stop doing whatever you were doing as it probably wasn’t enjoyable!

Here are a few things I know about myself:

  1. I am not a naturally thin woman
  2. I love amazing food and culinary experiences
  3. I am not a lover of winter
  4. My disdain for winter causes me to not be as active
  5. 1 + 2 + 3 +4 = weight gain over the winter

So, here is my little attitude-behaviour changing story: I started to change my winter attitude about 7 years ago when I got a dog. That little white rocket requires me to hit the pavement no matter what day, no matter what season and no matter what weather. My brother and his family got a dog last year too. I already bring Millie to work with me, so it only made sense to add him into the gang! I now walk to my brothers most days of the week, pick him up and deliver him back end of day. That’s about 8 km of extra walking a day. It helps them, he adds more joy to my day and it adds to my movement.  So everyday I get nearly 10 km in.  I know that I would rather walk 10 kms than run 1.   It works for me.  For the past 6 months I do hot yoga over my lunch on average 4 times a week.  I love it.  I am in competition with no one but myself.  I am still not sporting a six pack (nor do I want to or ever will), but I feel healthy, it is consistent, it works for me and it creates a solid base. One pound, two pounds, three pounds… it has consistently come off.   If I add anything more to more routine it makes a real difference.  Rather than the usual January boom and bust and being cooped up inside wearing lululemon’s (which trick you into thinking you are not putting on weight)  I am on the move when the snow flies!   It is already a habit.   Also, being single is definitely a way to keep yourself slimmer – just like in nature, when you’re on the hunt you’re hungry!!

Last year I spent a month in Australia where you would think I would have tipped the scales to the right.  Nope.  I lost weight.  Why?  Because I was on the go all day long.  Walking, swimming, moving, talking and sweating from that glorious sunshine!  Doing things I love to do.  Not sitting in front of a computer, avoiding going out at lunch as it is freezing, and then crashing home in the dark (it is dark here shortly after 4 pm in the winter) cursing about my numb fingers.

In an effort to combat my winter weight I am doing the same thing this winter. Walking every day, downward dogging and sweating at hot yoga over lunch, going away on a trip mid-February to a hot country for 3 weeks, and I am going to keeping myself busy doing things that bring me joy.  I’ll be busy doing things I love.  Busy learning new things.  Busy spending time with people who make my mind curious.  Keeping my mind positive, laughing and feeling grateful for my life.  I am going to bring out my French heritage – as you know those bitches are skinny and they eat cheese everyday.  The secret is that they don’t deprive themselves and physical exercise generally flows within their daily life – the slow burn.  I can guarantee you that when you lose 10 lbs by starving yourself or doing a physical activity you hate –  the relationship you have with your body, food and exercise isn’t positive and it will limit you in other ways. The conversations we have with ourselves directly correspond to how we present ourselves to the outside world and those closest to us.

So, if you are looking to shed some lbs, get tighter or achieve some kind of health goal – don’t give your credit card so readily to a gym.  Figure out what it is you really love to do, amuse-toi bien (have fun), do more of it and give yourself some self love along the way.  I can guarantee if you asked someone else what they see when they see you – it isn’t your cellulite.