As the sugar and wine fog begins to lift from my mind and the apartment is slowly stripped of Christmas cheer, I am left feeling joyful after this holiday season. This is now my second time going through the holidays as a fitness instructor (I teach both barre and yoga), and this lifestyle has taught me some of the greatest lessons in consistency, dedication, and accountability. You do not need to be a fitness instructor to stick to an exercise routine, however, it is important you treat yourself as one. What do I mean?!? As an instructor, I can’t make a single excuse as to why I don’t want to workout. It is literally my job to show up, motivate, and guide everyone through the best class possible. YOU get to simply show up, workout, and reap the benefits of toning your muscles and relaxing your mind. So, treat yourself like an instructor in the sense that not showing up simply isn’t an option. This is tip #1 to achieving your dreams and goals, AKA manifesting your intentions.
Tip #1: Make appointments with yourself; be specific, and whatever you do….don’t cancel! You can schedule appointments to workout, to read, clean, hike, and be specific to your work or career goals/tasks. Time-blocking has transformed my days, productivity, and overall life. I am so excited to see how my commitment to this tool helps me achieve all of my dreams in 2018. As a free gift, I am adding my version of a time-blocking calendar to my website. Feel free to download, copy, customize, print, and do whatever feels best for you to try out this technique. The directions are simple...schedule appointments for yourself of things that need to be done and treat yourself like the CEO of your life...you can’t cancel!! When you budget your time in this way, your productivity soars. Even though I may be able to write a blog for 3 hours, since I only allot an hour, when that hour is done...I’m done. Personally, I write on Wednesdays, edit my blog on Thursday, and post on Friday. No excuses, and no cancelling. You wouldn’t cancel an appointment to meet with the Queen of England, so don’t cancel an appointment with yourself! You are the king or queen of your life.
Tip #2: Monitor your thoughts. Do you have limiting beliefs or feelings about yourself, your career, family or life that are holding you back, or simply keeping you exactly where you are? The inner dialogue we have with ourselves shapes how we feel, interact, and live. Most of my thoughts for a very long time were negative, fear-based, or full of doubt. I still have fear creep in, but in changing my thought patterns, my internal processing system has changed. I hate when I hear people say “I am who I am and I’m not going to change.” Even typing it makes me angry! We can always work to change, strive to be better and fulfill our highest potential. Notice what you say about yourself, how you judge others, and any negativity that storms in and buries a good idea or feeling. When you notice a negative thought come through your mind, observe where it stems from. Is it from a habit? Did someone plant those thoughts there or raise you to think and react that way? Become curious about your mind, what occurs, and see if it is helpful to achieving your dreams, or harmful. More often than not, there is a hidden feeling or belief deep within us that holds us back, and just like the grungy old sweatshirt we cling to, we make excuses for keeping it around. It’s time to clean house! Clean up your mind, fuel it with positive affirmations (check out Louise Hay to learn the basics), and visit your soul. Taking time to sit in at least 10-minutes of meditation per day can help reveal a lot of habits or internal dialogue that simply does not serve you. Negative thinking never produced anything good for you, and it never will.
“Visit your soul, don’t visit your past” -Paulo Coelho
Finally, tip #3 is a revelation that came to me while hiking a random foothill trail in New Mexico. After walking for nearly 4 miles on a trail we assumed would loop around, but didn’t, we decided to pick up the pace, turn around, and go into what I like to call “a deeply contemplative, yet silent, journey in the New Mexico desert”. I of course couldn’t stay silent the entire time, especially when I felt flooded with ideas and a vision for my dream career. The basic revelation I had is quite funny, yet simple: You only live THIS life, once. So, I basically took YOLO, but made it more meaningful for myself. I don’t know if we only live once, but I do know that we only live this life once. “There is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions."-Martha Graham
You are perfect just as you are now; losing 10 or 50 pounds won’t change what you are...when we strip away the flesh and bones, we are all a beating heart, a brain, and a soul. The only thing that matters is living this precious life the best we can, with as much meaning as possible. Even as I write this, I am only getting older and am one minute closer to my death (definitely bleak, but also liberating!) We only have these moments, and we only will have this exact body, condition, and version of ourselves for this single lifetime. After this, who knows! Maybe you’ll be upgraded, or downgraded, live forever in heaven, or simply be gone. No matter what you believe, you must accept that this life is what it is. Yes, we can always work to improve our current condition, so go back to tip #2 and monitor your thoughts. We are constantly in a flux of striving for more and living in gratitude to accept that exactly as we are right now, is as good as it’s going to get.
YOLTLO (pronounced yolt-low, as if you have a cool accent and are trying to say YOLO)
You only live THIS life, once. So, make it great.
To summarize, time-blocking is a transformative tool to help organize our days to achieve our dreams. I must admit, I don’t time-block on the weekends, and I practice compassion with myself. We need to be cognizant that anxiety is a very real thing, and oftentimes looking at a jam-packed calendar can make someone feel more anxious. If using this tool, be kind to yourself. I schedule in lunch breaks, yoga, errands, and in this cold December in CT, I schedule time for “jumping” versus walking outside. Yes, I take 10-20 minutes to jump rope! Most importantly, before I begin anything I have scheduled for my day, I sit to meditate. This is the first “time-block” on my calendar. I practice the Energy Medicine Wake-Up and then sit for meditation. I’ve created a ritual out of this; I light a candle, burn palo santo, get cozy, and simply breathe. It’s been the most beautiful way to begin my day. We must observe ourselves, our thoughts and feelings. Otherwise, the monkey mind will control our life, our habits, and dictate what we are experiencing physically. To transform our lives, how we feel, or where we are in life, we must stay committed. We can all choose to live as the best possible version of ourselves, with compassion and acceptance of where we are in this exact moment. It takes dedication, awareness, and some tenacity to achieve our dreams, but in the end, YOLTLO, so let it be wonderful!