Hi friends! The World Health Organization (WHO) held World Health Day on 4.7.17. Their campaign this year is "Depression: Let's talk." Typically I cover health topics of fitness and food on here, but today I would like to talk about Depression. The WHO reports Depression is the #1 leading cause of ill health and disability world wide. The foundation of our overall health resides in our emotional health and well being. By trade I am a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist so I have been trained to treat depression. What you might not know about me is that I sought treatment for depression after the birth of my son Owen. That was 8 years ago. I was overwhelmed with motherhood and it was affecting everything good in my life. Knowing the signs of depression, I reached out for professional help. I am very aware of the stigma that surrounds getting help for anything related to mental health, but did not know how strong it existed until I sought out my own treatment. Even with my M.S. in Clinical Health Psychology, I had to talk myself out of being embarrassed while making those phone calls to doctor's offices. I am after all human too. I can only imagine what most people think counseling is like and how it leads to most people keeping their suffering a secret. I firmly believe that telling my story is impacting a worldwide effort to break down the shame of being depressed and needing help. I found an amazing Therapist that gently guided me through some of the most difficult times of my life. It was everything I would've given to any patient of mine. I received tools to cope and the empathy to heal. If you are wavering on whether or not to get help, please know that you will be treated with respect and dignity. Many do not seek help because they feel like they are alone in their sorrows. The WHO wants you to know that Depression is existing on such a massive scale that either you or someone you know is suffering. There are 300 million people now living with depression.
Being "fit" means acknowledging the support we need emotionally and physically. We can thrive or barely survive. If you or someone know is suffering, please check out the WHO's website for information and resources to get help.
February is a month filled with celebrations of love. There is Valentine's Day, American Heart Health Awareness Month, International Boost Self-Esteem Month, National Hug Day, Random Acts of Kindness Day. The list goes on and on. Whether they are official or not . . . You get my point . . . I'm feeling it and I want to participate. I want to up my game this month with how I show kindness to others. I'm calling it THE 23 DAY I LOVE YOU CHALLENGE!
On Page 479 of Tim Ferriss's book "Tools of Titans: the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers," he interviews Whitney Cummings. She is an L.A. based comedian, actor, writer and producer. I was first introduced to her on HBO's Stand Up Special "Whitney Cummings: I'm Your Girlfriend." It is hilarious from beginning to end. Turns out Tim Ferris has chosen her as someone he highly respects and learns from. Well, turns out I now do to. Whitney opens up about how her traumatic childhood has impacted her adult relationships. Her Trauma Therapist recommended she begin each conversation with everyone in her day with one thought, I LOVE YOU. It is supposed to apply to anyone you meet throughout your day. Random encounters to your everyday family and coworkers. As Whitney says in the book, " . . . Just in your head, 'I love you' before you have a conversation with them, and that conversation is going to go a lot better." The intention behind it is making a mindful acknowledgement that everyone is also just doing the best they can that day at that moment. I too find myself holding people's standards higher than I need to for maybe ego's sake and the truth is . . . I don't know what anyone is going through in their private lives. I don't know what kind of day they had, and nor is it my business. What is my business is that I understand that I have control on the energy I put into this world.
I'm calling it the 23 DAY I LOVE YOU CHALLENGE because there are only 23 days left in February.
I would love for you to join me and share if this has provoked any unique thoughts/experiences for you.
I'll post in March to share my personal experiences.
In December 2016, I began working as Taekwondo Assistant Instructor at TopKick Martial Arts. I'm not only a student but I now have the privilege of inspiring other students. Having the opportunity to share my love of TKD today with the children's class was so much fun. For those that don't know, I was a Child Therapist for 10 years. I moved to Virginia and decided to change careers and havent worked with kids for almost a decade now. This week reminded me why I started working with children in the first place. Teaching doesn't feel like something I do, it feels like its who I am.
This post is not sponsored by Pure Barre or SportRock.
"Curiosity is a willing, a proud, an eager confession of ignorance." - S. Leonard Rubenstein
This quote happens to capture the essence of my life starting June 2016, when I started this blog. Reviving my own curious self means a consistent acknowledgment that I don't always have the answers. It's actually a relief. I had in a sense given myself freedom. Freedom to start discovering, learning, taking risks, exploring. I don't have to be a know it all! In graduate school, I studied Childhood Development. Curiosity is that which fuels their development. I used to test my own baby's curiosity all of the time with new toys, images, and music. I was in absolute awe watching his reactions. I remember intently watching his eyes. Eyes wide open meant surprise. Squinted eyes meant confusion. Blank stares meant further study. My child is seven years old now and his curiosity manifests in a steady barrage of questions everyday. He's unapologetic and looks to me as the all knowing Mommy. Often times I have to admit that I too do not have the answers and use the opportunity to teach the both of us. Also known as, "Let's google it." Watching my son succumb to all his curiosity led to me to examine my own. Where did my own curiosity go? His mind doesn't discriminate a good curious question versus a bad curious question. He's very innocent that way. However, when I rummage through what I am curious about, I would often find myself dismissing a lot of potentially powerful positive experiences. Hence, Paula Fay Fit. My wellness journey where I have been engaging in new and challenging physical activities. An added bonus has been the development of positive social relationships. Since June, I've organized two outings with the loveliest group of women. All I did was start a private Facebook group "Paula Fay Fit" and asked if anyone was interested in coming with me on my next little adventure. The social component has been a very happy experience for me.
The first event I posted in my private Facebook group was to SportRock for what turned out to be a few hours of rock climbing. Their staff was so helpful and our Belayer, Brian, was super supportive. He's a great teacher, especially for us newbies. At some points he was even dictating where to make our next moves. sterling.sportrock.com/. My first experience at SportRock was a huge lesson in humility. Check out my experience in my blog post www.paulafayfit.com/paula-fay-fit/rock-climbing-a-lesson-in-humility. The experience of going back again with a group of adventurous women was so much better! We cheered each other on. High fived our accomplishments. It was positive and supportive. I was honored to be joined by such beautiful and strong women.
The second event I posted was to Pure Barre. It's a 55 minute workout that incorporates a ballet-barre. The workout consists of a series of small, isometric movements that engage your smaller, lesser -known muscles. Third woman in from the right was our Instructor, Christina. She was personable, and her energy was great. You can tell she loves what she does. I'd like to mention that I am thankful that other women want to join me on these little adventures. They could very well have said they're not interested, and have gone on their own. I hope they enjoy the group experience as much as I do. Science shows that there are many health benefits that come from surrounding ourselves with positive people. I can testify to this. I left Pure Barre feeling happy and excited for the next adventure.
My little community outings are not just for selfish reasons. I've mentioned 1/2 a dozen times about my own positive outcomes from these experiences. I also want to share with other women that trying new things can be fun. I want other women to know that stepping out of their comfort zone in theses way are good for our self development. "You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety." - Abraham Maslow. In my life, being safe got really boring. Cheers to being proud of our curiosity!
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. - MayoClinic.org
My father introduced meditation to me when I was about 11 years old. He used it to help me cope with the pain of menstrual cramping. The meditations developed over the years to help me with the stressors of teenage angst, anxiety over college exams, and helping me to relax at night to initiate sleep. Now that I am a mother, I've decided to teach my son the benefits of meditation. Here are the 3 activities I've implemented to introduce my 7 year old to meditation.
Our children may not be experiencing the weight of the world just yet, but it is important to teach them the skills to cope with what is to come. I have benefited my whole life from the meditation teachings from my father. From managing pain, to preventing panic attacks, the power of meditation has become a healthy coping mechanism I can pull out my tools of life survival skills. It can make the most change in a child's outlook on his/her world. Teaching them early of the power of their mind is influential and provides them a sense of confidence.
One does not practice meditation to become a great meditator. We meditate to wake up and live, to become skilled at the art of living. - Elizabeth Lesser
"Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th." - Julie Andrews
I chose Julie Andrews quote because the road to my handstand was about 6-8 months long. It was a progression. I had to learn brand new skills and practice them over and over again. It wasn't pretty but I never gave up. In my case, it took months and months of failing before I hit my sweet spot. I never practiced an actual freestanding handstand until I had mastered all the foundation skills. I'd been preparing for this shot for months and I'd just like to brag a little and report that the pictures above are of me! When I first started seeing my workout buddies do handstands, I looked at them in awe with my jaw practically hitting the floor. I saw them and thought to myself that I could never do that. But thankfully I had an amazing instructor that taught me that this is a progression of a set of skills that build up to that free standing handstand. Once I understood that it would be a process . . . I was all in! Now here I am a year later doing handstand left and right.
Below are the 5 movements I practiced diligently every week/several times a week that eventually led me to my ultimate goal - Handstand Happiness!
Knowing how to hollow your body in this rock is a key component to holding a proper handstand. Double click this link gymnasticswod.com/content/hollow-rock. It's a video tutorial to a proper hollow rock. My picture below doesn't exactly do it justice. Learning how to use your core to keep your back flat is an important skill.
Check out this short vid on wall walking.
#1 - you are learning about the momentum you need to kick up. If you take a look at the picture below you can see he is not kicking all of the way up to the handstand. He's kicking up half way and then coming down.
#2 - you are learning how to land softly. Kicking up half way allows you to keep one of your legs low so that you can make a soft landing. You want to avoid plopping down on the ground in a thump. Be gentle, take the kick up slow at first and land softly on your feet. Reduce the risk of injury.
You need nice strong shoulders for handstands. Push ups using your own body weight works great. Just check out the picture below and make sure you are using the correct push up form. It matters.
Last but not least, it's what I call the frogger headstand. Holding this pose for any period of time is a true test in balance. You don't even have to try to bring your feet straight up into a head stand to feel the force of your body moving you in every which way. It will take the strength of your whole body to hold this position.
When you get to the final stage of practicing the actual handstand, remember these things.
It needs to be as straight as possible
THIS POST IS NOT SPONSORED BY KUT OR TOPKICK
I recently hosted a Potluck for my KUT (Kickboxers Ultimate Training) family.
It was a success! The foods were delicious! I really enjoy spending time with KUT members outside of the workouts. There were so many great ideas for healthy eating. I brought my Chicken Burrito Bowl. Ideally I would've used Cauliflower Rice, but when I went to COSCO - it was SOLD OUT! I walked around looking for a substitute and I found Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice with Garlic packs. 90 second microwaveable packs. Enjoy!
It may not seem like a huge physical transformation, but what I've done to increase my strength, flexibility, energy and overall health has been life changing. Here are just some of the benefits I've enjoyed since adding fitness and healthy eating into my every day life.
1. I can keep up with my energetic 7 year old son. When he wants to go out and play, I can flip my focus on a dime and join him. I used to hesitate because I used to be so tired all of the time. Now I'm like, "Let's go!"
2. I enjoyed a glowing annual physical from my Primary Care Physician. No, I'm not talking about the kind of glowing physical like Trump received about stamina - Hahaha! I'm talking about actual cholesterol results. High cholesterol runs in my family and it sky rocketed for me after the birth of my son. This year my LDL and HDL levels are in the healthy range. I was on the verge of having been recommended medication to control it. Not now! My doctor was all smiles at the results :)
3. I used to hide in the back of group exercise classes because I was embarrassed about how I couldn't keep up with the class. Instead of giving up I decided to challenge myself to push through it. I told myself that the initial struggle would be temporary. The patience, work, and consistency paid off. I've grown strong enough to now lead group exercises classes as KUT (Kickboxers Ultimate Training) Instructor.
4. My skin is enjoying all of these healthy nutrients I'm feeding my body. It's not that I don't experience tiny break outs every now and then, but that's the point . . . it's only every now and then. I used to have break outs every month that would last for days. Ugh! I don't miss those days!
6. Increasing my flexibility has allowed me to move through my every day life with ease. Flexibility tends to deteriorate with age. I take out the trash, lift the grocery bags, vacuum the carpets, and pick up children with ease. I'm gaining mobility!
Deciding to be physical fit is not always about just changing the number on that scale. What I've listed are my rewards. It is my wealth. Focusing on transforming my lifestyle is what has created an impactful and positive change.
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." - Jim Rohn
This entry is not an easy one to write. I struggle with how to explain this. I want to tell you why I took a short hiatus from posting a blog. I was body shamed by someone close to me. It happened while I was talking excitedly about some new adventures I recently experienced. I was catching up with them on all the new work I had put into Paula Fay FIT. In response, this person used the word "fat" and also some words that described how it was impossible that I had accomplished it because of my heavy weight. I was in total shock. I was quick to tell the person how inappropriate and hurtful it was. This person didn't say sorry immediately and also said something to the affect that I was over reacting. This happened right before I was scheduled to post the blog entitled, "Rock Climbing: A Lesson in Humility". I held onto posting that blog for weeks because it includes videos of me climbing. You can see my backside and my backside only. After those comments I went back to those videos and started over analyzing the shape of my body in negative ways. I also started saying things to myself like, "Maybe I shouldn't post these. I'm unworthy of demonstrating fitness because I'm heavy." It really messed with my head. Just when I thought I was on the brink of unbroken confidence, that happened and I just melted. I started thinking I was going to scrap the whole Rock Climbing blog all together. But I didn't. There was a little voice inside me whispering, "That person is wrong." I kept the blog in draft form. I didn't delete it. I held onto it because that whisper eventually became a roar. I part of me knew it would if I just gave myself time to fill my mind with positive thoughts. I replaced the body shaming with statements of worthiness and confidence.
"I am good enough!"
"I can be a role model for others!"
"I will not let others define me!"
"My experience matters no matter what my size."
I want you to know that I experience it too. I am an active and healthy adult with a lot of plans to live a happy life. This is not the first time I've been the brunt of body shaming and it will not be my last. Hang in there. With positive affirmations and faith that you will get through it, you can change how body shaming affects you.
What you tell yourself everyday will either lift you up or tear you down. I will always lift you up. You should too.