Success in Mindfulness

Several years ago, I worked as a personal trainer. At the time, the job was a ton of fun. I worked with an amazing group of people, had a lot of flexibility, and loved getting my clients to have fun while at the gym. I also was more physically fit than I had been ever in my life. I felt strong, where I had always felt weak. I felt capable. I felt beautiful (most of the time).

I knew that when I transitioned into being a therapist that I would probably gain a little bit of weight. I was going from a job where I was supposed to burn calories to a job where I was supposed to sit. I used to have many opportunities to get my personal workout in and now had to join the rest of the world where I would need to cram it in somewhere. I also got more serious with my now fiance, which meant eating out more often, big meals in, and cocktail hours. From my lowest weight as a personal trainer to my highest weight as a therapist, I had gained 15 lbs. I’ve never admitted that it was that much. Granted, most of the time it wasn’t. It was closer to 10 when we take my average weight then and average weight over the past two years. I haven’t taken my body fat in over two years but I would guess that that has risen about 8%. Ugh. I struggled with the weight gain emotionally. I struggled with my clothes not fitting. But, I settled that there wasn’t much I could do about it. I was still working out 3-5 times a week. I still ate quite healthy. I just couldn’t burn those extra calories throughout the day. My head was elsewhere. I was focused on starting my career and building my relationship.

Well, I am like most brides in that I want to look my absolute best on my wedding day. I want to feel confident and pretty when pictures are being taken (especially if I am paying thousands of dollars for a photographer!) So I vowed that I would get back down to my training weight. It was a secret goal that I created for myself. My goal was to do it by the end of the year and maintain through the wedding. My plan was to increase my cardio (worked for losing the initial 3 lbs from the half marathon), continue with weight training, and stay committed to a regular yoga practice. Well, that lasted about two months without any significant results. My workouts were interfered with work again, but this time in a different way.

Around the beginning of March, I came home from a yoga class (where I can hear my insights the clearest) and told Chuck that it was time. It was time that I did whatever necessary to open Blissful Mind Wellness. Not just the private practice of Blissful Mind Wellness, but the center. After lots of talking, reviewing, negotiating, strategizing, he agreed. It’s time. So, off I went. I have spent the past year developing the brand, building a website, articulating the business plan. I really only had a couple of steps left to do. I needed to secure leasing space and financing, but I also needed to get back into the practice of teaching fitness. I have created an intentional structure of fitness classes based on the philosophy of mindfulness and the science of exercise, but I needed to get in there and do them. I needed to practice teaching mindful workouts that would burn. So, I needed to practice doing mindful workouts.

So that has been my routine: head to the gym, set my intention, take my shoes off, work into my workout, use minimal equipment, sweat, burn, cheerlead myself, stretch, breathe, drink water. I can’t even say that I have been doing it more often or for longer periods of time. I am still getting in about 4 days a week for 50-60 minutes, but every move I do, I do with intention, full awareness, and personal support. I have felt better, more motivated, more energized, and excited. I have felt leaner, stronger, and sexier. And today I stepped on the scale weighing 8 lbs less— being in my target range that I was in as a trainer! I honestly thought that the scale may have been broken, because I had lost so much confidence that I could get back down there. I made Chuck weigh himself and he said that he was on target. My mindful workouts have been working!

I may be able to attribute some of this success to two other areas:

  1. I have been taking my vitamins. I am terrible about taking vitamins daily but have stuck with it for 10 days. I am taking a prenatal vitamin and fish oil.
  2. I have stopped stressing about work. Working in community mental health is hard. No-joke kinda hard. It takes a toll. There is a lot of negative energy in the field. It is a constant race to get clients to come in (so that you get paid), and progress can be very slow. There are a lot of obstacles and barriers to getting them essential resources. I did it full-time for two years and was stressed every day of it. When I decided that the time was now, I relinquished a lot of the stress.
There is no doubt that working out mindfully has greatly contributed to my recent success. The complete focus on my mind and my body has caused me to push myself further. It has made my workouts fun and enjoyable. It has made me feel good about me. I am more motivated than ever and can’t wait to put on my pretty white dress.

How do you start your day?

A couple of months ago, I decided to try a class at a local yoga studio, called Early Bird Yoga. I have attended early morning yoga classes before given that it is the main time of day that I workout. I figured it was just another yoga class with some sun sals, a bit of flow, and a final savasana. It was a little different. Very calming, less intense, and a nice gradual build of intensity in the hour. And while there wasn’t much of a sweat (which is my generic gauge for a good workout), I felt amazing (which is not a word I use lightly). I felt energized, calm, peaceful, focused, aware. It was great and it lasted for most of the day. I have attended this class a few times since and almost identical results each time.

I am a morning person. I don’t mind getting up early. However, I have found that I don’t love being thrust into my day, no matter what time it is. So I typically wake up between 5:30 and 6:30. I crawl out of bed, throw some gym clothes on, maybe brew some coffee, grab a banana, and get a workout in. I try to get my head focused on my drive to the gym. I workout, probably pretty sluggishly for the first 15 minutes, then head home, have breakfast and get ready for work. If I skip the gym, it’s the same routine with an hour more sleep. While I always give myself several hours before my first client, I do not always give myself time to wake-up mindfully. It is still fairly Up and Go.

Just like breakfast is the most important meal of the day, how we wake up is equally important. We are setting our preparation, our intention for the day. In my Early Bird Yoga class, we consciously awakened our body and mind while in sync with nature. We gently stretched, bringing life into the parts of the body that become stiff over night. We breathe deeply, providing oxygen to the brain. We listen to ourselves, one thought at a time. And we do this as the sun is rising.

Money, time, willfulness, laziness, and the frequency that the class is offered keep me from being able to take this class every morning. However, I am starting to make a gradual shift in my daily workouts. I am focusing on making them mindful. I am taking time to stretch at the beginning and the end, breathing deeply. And, while they are not equivalent to Early Bird Yoga (possibly because the sweat:intensity meter are higher) they do set a better intention for my day than pressing snooze.

How do you start your day?