About six weeks ago in my posting Going Raw- Part One, I wrote about the process I am going through to change from eating cooked foods to eating raw foods. This is all part of a bigger process that I have embarked upon in order to get as healthy as I can. The food area of my life is probably the last major bastion that I am attempting to overcome and, because it has its roots in my childhood, it is proving to be the most difficult.
However, there is another area of my life that I am addressing right now that is having a major impact on my health. This is in the area of exercise. Yes, I know, that’s a four letter word in my vocabulary too!!! I have been struggling with exercise for many years. Which is really annoying to have to admit when I remember being the athletic person that I was in school.
I played on my High School’s netball team (UK equivalent of basketball) in each year of school. In several of those years I was the team captain. I was fanatical about netball and just remembering it, I can feel my adrenaline level soaring. We played netball during the winter season, September through March, which meant we played twice a week as part of our class PE program and then the team would also practice once or twice a week after school. Matches were played on Saturdays.
After graduating from school I went on to a teacher’s training college, and sports and gymnastics continued to be part of the regular curriculum. During my second year of college I “went off the rails” and left to get married. A baby came along quickly and my new lifestyle was very alien to anything I had known up until then. Physical activities disappeared from my life.
Many years and a divorce later I attempted to return to some form of exercise. But I only hiccupped along in fits and starts. I tried aerobics but felt very clumsy and because I am not good at multi-tasking I simply did not have the coordination necessary. I tried working with a personal trainer but it proved to be too expensive, so I just gave up.
By now I had remarried and had another baby at age forty and had not been able to rid my body of the baby weight as I had when I was in my twenties. I think this was when I pretty much gave up on myself for a while and simply indulged in eating what I wanted. The weight slowly crept up. I remember pledging with myself that I would never allow myself to go over two hundred pounds. I sat at two hundred for a few years.
About fifteen years ago, while living in Naples, Italy, I met a wonderful yoga instructor and started practicing yoga with her. I loved the asana’s and working with the breathe. Moving slowly into and maintaining the poses under Meredith’s compassionate instruction, I began to feel somewhat reconnected with my body. “Sun salutations” became my passion along with the “fish” pose. My weight diminished some and I felt healthy for the first time in a long time.
Then in 2004 I moved to Jacksonville, Florida and, in hindsight, I realize that it took me about two to three years to make the big transition from my European culture to the American culture. My exercise pattern got lost in the shuffle for quite a while. Every once in a while I would make a half-hearted effort to implement a walking regime. I love being outside and walking puts me close to God’s creation which allows me to exercise my body and my soul. I also found a good Yoga studio and began going regularly again.
Then I had a shoulder problem. Had to quit yoga while I dealt with that and exercise got away from me again. Once the shoulder healed I finally pushed myself back into yoga but shortly after that I had a knee problem. Six months later I tried to get back into yoga again but found that it re-awakened the knee issue so quit. I tried walking again but the knee was just too much of a problem and, again, I found myself at that quitting-on-me stage.
One day at the beginning of this year I got on the scales and realized that my weight had bloomed to two hundred and sixteen pounds. I felt defeated and at an all-time low with myself. I made the decision to try and go raw – again (I had been dabbling with raw for a few years), or at least vegetarian. But underneath I knew that if I didn’t start exercising I would get nowhere fast. However, I simply could not get myself motivated to do it.
I think God took pity on me – again. He has a habit of doing that from time to time and when I get to the end of my rope, he offers me the beginning of His! But, as usual, He has a funny way of doing it. My husband was hospitalized toward the end of February with chest pains. Long story short: no heart problems but he was finally forced to look at high blood pressure and cholesterol issues and the doctors were serious when they told him to make lifestyle changes. Our diet swung drastically to mainly salads, lots of veggies and fruit, and we cut out most of the carbs.
Within a month or two we both lost weight dramatically. Then I hit a plateau and stayed there and got depressed. Underneath I knew the answer was exercise but I just didn’t want to have to deal with it. Again God came to my rescue in His usual round about way, and in July I was introduced to Wendy, a personal Pilates instructor. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do Pilates because my only knowledge of this form of exercise was a memory of a friend who used to do it (a much fitter, younger woman!!!), and she would say things like “We were massacred at Pilates class tonight” or “I didn’t think I’d make it through the whole class today.”
I am grateful for the God-incidental way that I got to Wendy, for I’m sure I’d never have taken the leap otherwise. She is a compassionate but relentless instructor with a grand sense of humor. I told her where I was at and she said something like “I guess I’ll have to work you”. I have been doing Pilates twice a week with Wendy since about mid-July. I have pushed below my plateau, not a lot but enough. However what has happened to my body is nothing short of a miracle.
I have a level of sustained energy that I did not have before. My body is so much more flexible and feels very alive. There has been a shift in shape; I cannot explain it any clearer than that. The first major change that I noticed was one day when I went to do up the strap on a pair of shoes and realized I did not have to get into a certain position to “accommodate my stomach” as I leaned down! My tummy has definitely toned and my legs are so much more flexible. I can climb a flight of stairs without feeling breathless.
This week Richard and I are enjoying our traditional week of Thanksgiving in our time share in Orlando. Yesterday afternoon we went to Universal to watch the new Harry Potter movie (which was great by the way!). We walked around for a while before the movie and I noticed that I had no problem keeping up with Richard (he’s over six foot and has a long stride). Nor did I find myself getting breathless keeping up with him and, in fact, I felt quite invigorated. Today we went to Sea World and the same thing happened.
As I sit here typing this post I have to make a confession. I have been wanting to walk on a regular basis for about a month now. The reason I have not is because I did not want to feel tired and breathless or realize that I couldn’t keep a decent pace for long. Yesterday and today have shown me that I can get out there, keep a good pace, and feel really good. I know that this is partly because of the diet changes I have made as well as the regular exercising with Pilates. It is a total change of lifestyle that is allowing me to feel good about myself and to feel so much more healthy. This is what self nurturing is truly about.
I am a firm believer in taking care of myself using everything available to do so. I also confess to not using all those tools to the best of my ability. I am a self-confessed stubborn, obstinate, procrastinating, pride-filled human being. There are times when I take the “I can fix it in my time and in my way” mantra to the edge of insanity!
However, I do not live like that most of the time – thank God. With a great deal of help and support from too many people to be able to name individually (although some of them were mentioned in my posting Mentors- Along the Path of Life) , I have found many ways and many tools to help myself. I have also come to understand that my schedule does not always align with God’s schedule, or the universe’s schedule, or friend’s or doctor’s schedules! And along the way I have acquired a little patience and a little humility and learned to live in joy.
I know that I have mentioned in previous postings that I use massage and Reiki as part of my preventive health measures. Although some massage some of the time specifically helps any physical challenges that I may be facing, massage can always help, as long as I am completely open to it, my mental, emotional and spiritual well-being too. Reiki, I believe, works in the opposite way. I find that Reiki always brings me comfort, healing, and alignment on the emotional, spiritual, and mental levels and can also help on the physical plain. In my personal opinion Reiki is “God medicine”.
There are many other forms of alternative therapy and also different lifestyles that can be used to better our general health and well-being. Here I mention just a couple because they are also my own “weak areas” (read: areas in which I procrastinate or am pridefully stubborn!). We read frequently that we are what we eat, which means that in some way I eat too much fat/wrong carbohydrate content because I am about fifty pounds overweight:-(.
Please understand (and here come a lot of excuses masquerading as reasons, I’m sure!) that I do not “overeat” in the generally recognized fashion. I do not attack all-you-can-eat buffet lines going back as many times as possible because it’s a “good deal” – although I have done that in the past. I do not eat “junk” food: I may have one or two hamburgers a year and perhaps one hotdog a year at the church picnic.
I do not eat chips frequently; I’ll have a handful with salsa if we happen to eat out at a Mexican restaurant. My pantry is not full of Twinkies, or Ho-Ho’s, or chocolate chip cookies, or Oreos. However, I do enjoy a good dessert when we go to a restaurant that offers them, and I will have a chocolate binge once in a while that usually lasts for about a week to ten days. All my meals are made from scratch using fresh products – no frozen or canned or packaged stuff.
But what I have to admit to is that sometimes I could eat less than I do. I could put half of what I eat on my plate and still be feeding my body enough. I just don’t want to if it’s something that I really like. I should stop eating bread and pasta and rice – but I love it too much, and so for right now I’m not willing to give those items up.
Along with the food lifestyle, and hand-in-hand with it really, is the exercise thing. Do you know what my biggest excuse is in this area? I don’t want to give up a whole hour exercising(even if it is broken down into small bite-size ten minute segments during the day!) when I have so much else to do. And right now, this very minute as I’m writing that, I am feeling just the teenziest, weenziest bit guilty because didn’t I just write a posting (Reading Or Writing- It’s Still About Words) in which I confessed to spending all my time reading for about ten days straight?
So here I am, this imperfect human being making my best effort along life’s path. But what brought this whole subject up in the first place is that right now I have an irritating tickle cough. It came on some time over the weekend and was preceded by a couple of days of not feeling quite right. I immediately started treating myself with Silver Shield, double dosing my Vitamin C, and taking Oscillococcinum (don’t feel bad – I can’t pronounce it either!), a homeopathic product made by Boiron. The thing is it hasn’t blossomed into flu nor have I had fever or feel sick.
I do not like putting chemical medications in my body unless I absolutely, life-or-death have to. I choose to take many different supplements and a whole food grain to support my health system. I haven’t had flu or a really bad throat in a few years and I’m sure that’s because I preventatively take care of my health. In fact, any real health issues that exist in me today (high blood pressure, cholesterol, reflux) could all be taken care of if I ate differently and exercised more!!
I also go to a Board Certified Holistic doctor once every three months because I know that she takes into consideration my whole being (mental, emotional and spiritual as well as the physical) when she treats me. There is also a level of compassion in my sessions with her that I do not experience with a “traditional” doctor. If I could afford it I would go once a month but unfortunately insurance doesn’t cover my visits with her so that’s out-of-pocket expense for me. But I care enough about myself to sacrifice in other areas to afford her.
Maybe one day we will be offered the freedom, under whatever health care we have, to choose holistic health care along side traditional health care. Actually traditional health care through the ages used to be more holistically based until the last century or so. And of course today, fuelled by greed and power, most of the big pharmaceutical companies will probably fight tooth and nail against that.
I can no longer ignore the fact that some of you may be wondering why the words Life Coach precede the words Spirit, Body and Mind at the top of my blog page. Life Coaching is a new career field that has opened up in recent years and I am, in fact, a certified Life Coach. I chose to get my certification with the Certified Coaches Federation (CCF).
However, Life Coaching is something that I have been doing for years. I just didn’t call it that or realize that I was doing that until late last year. That’s when I “God-incidentally” received an email through an unknown source that introduced me to CCF. I contacted them to make inquiries about the certification course they offered and that was when I recognized that most of what they taught I already knew and practiced. I just didn’t have certification in the specific field.
I have already mentioned in previous blogs that I made a serious life change about thirty years ago. This entailed much work on myself, changes in attitudes and behavior, in other words a major lifestyle change. As a result of all of the above, I opened my heart, my mind, and my soul to many opportunities that I would otherwise have never seen. I opened many doors that I had previously ignored and began to live a very full and rich life and continue to do so to this present moment.
I explored many paths on the road back to the religion of my childhood – Catholicism. However, the practice of my religion is only one aspect of my spirituality. Along the way I opened myself to being there for others, becoming part of the CREDO retreat team in Naples, Italy and also becoming a facilitator for a class called NADSAP. This acronym stood for Navy Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program, which was later known as Navy Alcohol Drug and Substance Abuse Program. I believe that today this program carries yet another acronym and name which I do not know.
In order to undertake these roles I had to go through both programs as a willing participant then undertake paraprofessional training. They were both fairly stringent and involved a lot of personal growth and continued maintenance training each year. I will not go into the details of those trainings but I can tell you the skills that we came out with were highly developed in the following areas: active listening, empathy, compassion, tracking, objective feedback, personal disclosure, non judgmentalism, personality recognition, and genuineness.
So let’s get back to Life Coaching. What is it? And why do people need a Life Coach. If you think about a sports team, whether they are good or bad, they got to where they are with the help of a coach, maybe many coaches. The coach is there to assess the teams strengths and weaknesses, to see where they stand right now, and to look at what they can do to achieve future goals. He or she is there to make sure they don’t get stuck.
And so it is with an individual person who is attempting to navigate the oceans of life. Why can’t the team or the individual see that and work to change things without the help of a coach you may ask? The best answer to that question may be because they are all too emotionally close to the the issue/s at hand. In other words they can’t see the forest for the trees, or vice versa.
This is where the coach comes in. However, there is one big difference between a sports team coach and a Life Coach. A sports team coach, once he/she has made all the necessary assessments, then makes a plan and gives instructions as to what the team has to do. A Life Coach creates a professional rapport with the client from which he or she can then help the client recognize where they are at and what goals they want to achieve. Then through the skilful use of uniquely created tools, the Life Coach will encourage the client to take action to achieve their goals.
Life Coaching is most definitely a process which involves a commitment from both parties – the coach and the client. And when I say a commitment I mean a signed-on-the-dotted-line-contract kind of commitment. This creates a professional relationship between the two parties. The coach commits to be there fully and intentionally for the client, and the client commits to stick with the coach for a specified amount of time in order to reach his or her goals.
The main idea behind Life Coaching is to help people to recognize and break through their self-imposed limitations and to identify and achieve goals, dreams, and aspirations that will improve and enhance their lives, their careers, and their relationships. The coach never tells the client what to do. The coach is there to actively and objectively listen, to empower, and then to encourage the client along his or her path.
The beauty of Life Coaching is that it does not “brain wash” or take away from the client’s unique ideas, nor does it seek to interfere with or change their personality. The coach becomes a “companion walker in life” if you will, however the client has to take his or her own footsteps.
Another unique aspect of Life Coaching is that you do not have to be face-to-face with the client to do effective coaching. In fact much Life Coaching is done over the telephone. My personal preference is to have at least one initial face-to-face session with the client and then move to telephone sessions if that proves to be a convenient method for the client to be coached.
Life Coaching is a very satisfying career. It is a privilege indeed when someone asks me to enter their life. My sense of wonder increases a thousand fold as I watch a client’s sense of wonder at themselves increase through the coaching process. I find that it is an honor to help someone to recognize their personal beauty, worth, and potential as they explore their relationships, their place on this earth, and the value that they can bring to anything they put their mind to.