Sunday, September 13, 2009

Arming yourself to get through the stresses

Sunnyside Up was the name of my blog when I was over on AOL Journals. I thought that it pretty much summed up my viewpoint on life regardless of what was going on at any given time. Here I am, a few years later, having come through both difficult times and blissful times and I still feel the same way. In fact, my husband and I are grappling with a really huge challege that admittedly puts my stomach in knots if I allow it to (rather: WHEN I allow it to) but I still chug forward with the intent of being open to the works God wants to do in my life and with the faith that everything will be alright and that I still need to cherish each day with those I'm blessed to cross paths with.

You see, we received a lovely little certified letter from our mortgage company (5 identical letters, in fact. What the flop is up with that?! Why the waste of our precious resources?!) stating that we've got a quick and dirty little 45 days to get current on our mortgage lest they begin foreclosure proceedings. This has been several months in coming. The nutsy economy resulted in my husband and his coworkers taking a hit to their pay in the form of both a salary reduction and a decrease in commissions. This has REALLY impacted us. This challenge also arrived in tandem with our recent loss of two beloved (and unrelated) members of our extended family. It's a lot for any two people to have to process and work through in such a short time period.

It's like I told my mom yesterday when I chatted with her on the phone, though. Yes, these are super difficult times and we're feeling trepidation and stress but we're working to process it through positive means. Ironically, though this is one of the most horrible times we've experienced, we are experiencing such richness and strength in the form of family togetherness and happy times. All of us have heavy issues that find themselves on our shoulders from time to time in life. It's plain and simple just a part of life. The way I see it, since we pretty much know that the occasional stressor is GOING to make it's way to us, we've got to elect to stay strong and to focus on the positive and to do whatever it takes to keep ourselves of sound mind, body ad soul to do so. Maybe some of these things that continue to help me will help you get through rough patches as well.

I didn't just read about the balance of and attention to mind, body and soul in some book and decide that, "Hey! That sounds good. I'll cleave to that idea." I have, through trial and error, found that it actually does result in a happier and more fulfilling life. It's so easy to crawl into a hole when you feel that life's gotten so rough that you can't begin to even think about facing things. But I challenge you to kick that inclination to the proverbial curb and try some of these other tactics. Most of you know by now that I place a great emphasis on keeping the body fit and healthy through regular, consistent (and combat boredom) exercise. I like to aim for doing some form of movement everyday. Some of my favorites are running, biking and swimming as well as the various workouts I've got through BeachBody--the different P90X workouts and others. Yoga, in particular, is one of my absolute favorites for it's diverse benefits in helping with strength, balance, flexibility and stress release. Though it may seem difficult to dip your toes in and get a workout going, you typically feel energized and recharged within 10 minutes or so of moving. It's truly wonderful how our bodies were created to work. Those endorphins kick in after a bit of cardio work and pain starts to go away and your mood instantly lifts! This is why I like to do SOMEthing each day! It's not because I'm a 'fitness freak' who charges away with exercise because I'm some's because I like the TRUE and pure great and lasting feeling I get from my workouts. It sure doesn't leave me feeling dehydrated and hung over, that's for sure! Of course treating your body right and fueling it to be it's strongest involves eating and drinking thoughtfully and purposefully. I love to drink my Shakeology each day (the healthiest meal of the day for SURE) and to follow Michi's Ladder (message me on that if you're interested). Matt and I are always looking for ways to further positively tweak our eating for even more positive impact on our bodies.

I've found it really important to keep my mind challenged and active as well as my body. I want to stay alert and focused so that I am up to the task of problem solving with my husband to work our way out of our financial dilemma (or whatever the challenge may be that we need to get through...helping children with a problem, fixing something that breaks in the house, whatever). I want to be completely present! I've found that reading works wonders for the mind! It's nice to read some great works of fiction--that can be so fun--but I also like to combine that with reading about the body or biographies or history or some far away place. In the 4th grade class I taught the other day I diverted from the plans for about 15 minutes in the middle of the day to gather the students in a circle. We sat down together and I had us all go around the room and share something that we'd like to learn more about that we really have limited knowledge on. The answers were so varied and interesting! Then we brainstormed ideas for how we could find information on our topic of interest (libraries, internet, other people who could teach us, etc). It was an inspiring exercise that I enjoyed along with my students! My point was to get them interested in learning about things for the sake of learning! This is what I'm talking about...realizing the importance of challenging our brains and of utilizing more of their capacity! It keeps us engaged and active and helps to give us purpose and satisfaction.

Then there is the spiritual part of us. This is such an important part of who we are and yet I'd be willing to hazard a guess that it's probably one of the most undernourished elements of our being. Sometimes our internal dialog gets to buzzing around in our heads so fast. Add to that the keeping up with our daily grind--the routines and things that we have to tend to. Throw in a dose of worry over whatever challenges lay on our plates at any given moment and our poor wearied souls lay shrivelled and desperate for rejuvination. Ironically, I've found that we often come to the realization that our spirits need some TLC when faced with a crisis. I guess it's when you fall flat on your face that you realize you really need to slow it down and be more careful about tending to your core. For me, this means my relationship with God. I have a beautiful relationship with him and the knowledge that he resides inside me and all around. I speak to him throughout the day everyday and have faith that no matter what happens he ultimately works it out to good. I even need to remind myself, though, to take special REGULAR time to really get quiet with God. I like to take time to shut out the noise of the world and to relect on things with God and look for direction and guidance. Prayer is a wonderful thing. When I practice yoga--especially during the stretching and relaxation portions--I am taking that time to give thanks and to focus on the blessings that God has given lift up prayers. I consider the people in my life--my immediate and extended family, my friends and acquaintances, the adults and children that I work with and even people I happen upon during my day to be tremendous blessings. Any type of fellowship and communication with people is a way to nourish the spirit. I like not to take even the slightest of contact with another person for granted for this reason but to look for opportunity within each connection--however brief--to make it meaningful.
Somehow, we'll come through this dilemma. God is so very good and takes care of us--he always has. No doubt we are being formed and molded even more intricately through this experiece so that we might be used one day for greater purpose--perhaps to help and encourage another who will tread frantically in the shoes we are treading in now.

Maintaining this balance between mind, body and soul takes time and practice but I can tell you that focusing on each of these things has made me a happier person. Stresses DO come but they also will go. I have no doubt that our current problem will work itself out--somehow. Yes, I have some worries that crop up. I can't deny that. I'm human. Things upset me as they would anybody else. I like to not dwell and wallow in the worries, however. Moving forward through them is important to me. Making the most of each day is important to me. As we were reminded all too painfully recently: we truly do not know how long we'll be blessed with life together in this setting. I'd really hate to look back upon my life someday and realize that I'd wasted a good portion of it being consumed by my worries. I would much rather arm myself, through the tools that I've found to work, with healthy mind, body and soul to get through this life with mostly a smile on my face and lots of great relationships and memories with those people.

If you need a jump start getting started with an effective and fun fitness plan that's what I'm here for! I'm a BeachBody Coach and can help steer you toward one of our many you find one that suits your personality and needs. One of my purposes is to motivate others to strive for higher ground. I hope you'll allow me to do that for you through this blog. I know many of you are struggling in one form or another. People were made for people! Let me help you focus on the positive to transform yourself into a stronger you~

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Becoming a faster triathlete...and a stronger person

I am a triathlete.

I remember how epic it was when uttering that statement became a reality for me. I've been a runner on and off for over 20 years and always carried finishing a triathlon as a dream in my heart but never banked on it happening so soon. On Mother's Day of 2008, however, I participated in my first sprint triathlon with my mother-in-law--the Danskin Orlando at Disney. I was hooked; I'd caught the tri bug! I swam, I biked, and I ran my way to a finish line I'd been fantasizing over for several years.

My purpose in running and tri-ing is multifold. Of course using goals related to my sports are a way that I hold myself to a consistency regarding training and fitness. Most everybody knows how variables can play out in our lives to pull us away from regular exercise programs. Staying in healthy condition from the inside out is of prime importance to me because I know that it has a direct correlation upon how we feel and how positive and happy our lives are. Training for a triathlon, a marathon or even for a shorter foot race like a 5K is exciting and motivational.

A big part of why I "tri" is the comaraderie with the friends with whom I train. My son, Dustin, even trains with me and this is really a superior bonding opportunity. It's setting both of us up with quality memories and is giving Dustin and our daughters a positive image to cleave to in setting up the self standards for their own quality of life--I know that fitness is important to all 3 of them. In addition to these expected relational bonds, there is also an unspoken but powerful tie that you experience with the other people (in the case of the triathlons that I have done: all women) at the event itself. At the all-women tri's I've raced in people of literally all shapes, sizes and fitness levels come together for the common purpose of crossing the finish line. There is such a sense of excitement, loving support for all, kindness and goodwill. It's priceless to be a part of it all.

Notice that I did not mention that one of my goals was to place and take home a trophy. Winning in my age category or an overall prize is not something that I covet. Don't get me wrong. I've won a few 5K trophies in my life (admittedly for smaller races where the competition was less fierce!) and it feels GREAT! I would welcome the occasion again. It's just not an idea that consumes my thinking. My goals are more personal. My intention, with each triathlon, is to have a personal best--to shave time off of my overall race results with each event. It was also obvious to me that I would somehow need to become more confidant during open water swims because that was a source of trepidation that I'd somehow managed to plow through during my 1st two triathlons.

Back in May of this year I became an Independent BeachBody Coach and received the popular P90X training program. We excitedly embarqued on the P90X journey: a 90 day workout/nutrition plan which, as it says on the inner case, is your 'gym in a box!' I was no stranger to pushups and to weight work; I'd been working out at the gym along with the variety of cardio work. P90X, however, took Matt and I to a level of strength that was crazy exciting! Trainer Tony Horton takes you through every kind of pushup imaginable as well as a plethora of strength training moves--many very innovative--which made it imaginative and fun. We rode the P90X wave for the full 90 days...completing our workouts and drinking the awsome P90X recovery drink. I remember the realization that there was SOMEthing positive going on with my body because I'd run my hands up and down my upper arms and could feel a new tightness and definition materializing. Then there was the fact that I could now do the moves that I couldn't do when we began the program such as the entire YogaX dvd (even reverse half moon!) and divebomber pushups! The real proof would lie in my triathlon performance.

The main goal I listed everytime I completed my sweepstakes registration form (there's a chance to win EVERYDAY when you log into BeachBody's virtual gym while you work out) was: To gain strength and become a faster runner and triathlete. I knew that I had the new Trek Series Women's Sprint Triathlon looming in the distance. In fact, the event would occur 2 weeks after Matt and I were scheduled to complete our 1st 90 day round of P90X. That was perfect, I thought. So...I completed the triathlon this past Sunday...wanna know how I did?

Let me tell YOU! P90X ROCKS! I shaved about 6 minutes off of my overall time! That's a wonderful accomplishment. Even greater than that, however, was the difference it made for me in the water. Of course I got the prerace jitters right before Sally Edwards sent our wave into the lake (I still even get the jitters prior to 5Ks!) but the instant I hit the water I felt relaxed and calm. I felt STRONG! During my 1st two triathlons I had to take seemingly endless breaststroke breaks, got winded really easily, and even felt fairly freaked out in the water just because of the idea of it. THIS time I was able to power through the water with much less effort. I felt relaxed and happy. At one point, I recall coming to this realization I remember smiling as I freestyled my way around the course. My mouth actually busted out into a big grin with face under the water; the fish must have thought, "Who is this nutty red-headed woman with grin on her face while she's swimming?" (oh wait a minute, I had my navy-colored beanie stretched over my head...they couldn't see my hair. haha)!

The actual amount of time I improved over my last tri swim was just a minute's worth but the difference in how I felt during this leg of the tri was absolutely transformed! It was a pleasure and a joy to do the swim this time. It was awsome to feel the positive results from having trained to become better. Now I know that I can confidantly power myself even more quickly through the water rather than saving my energies in case I get tired. What was really great, too, was that my legs still felt strong and true as I ran out of the water as opposed to feeling like cooked spaghetti.

So, it worked! P90X trained me up like no other training I'd done before. Matt and I are giving ourselves 1 more week of break while we do other workouts and then we're going to hit it again. This time we'll be doing a round of P90X doubles (which involves throwing in extra cardio while you go through the program). I want to continue to get stronger and more fit not only for my triathlon and running goals but for the other obvious benefits the program brought me. I no longer experience low back pain. I'd gotten to the point of waking up every single morning completely locked up in bed...and I'm no granny! I'm a relatively young thing! Just a couple of weeks into P90X the back pain was gone. I feel more relaxed than ever and am getting full, restful nights of sleep. I can lift all kinds of crazy stuff around the house with ease, lol! Yardwork ain't nuthin' but a thang for me. I am Lisa; hear me roar!

Wanna jump on my parade and get stronger? fitter? faster? Pop on over to my website and order your P90X set! Don't wait a second longer! Go to (be sure to include that last /LisaErin bit and make sure the site says "Coach Lisa" once you're there) and order it today. There are loads of other success stories you can read about as well. I'd love to hear YOUR story!

~~To your health...and your strength~~


Saturday, September 5, 2009

When the world crushes down on your shoulders...

We all fall on hard times of one variety or another from time to time. It's a given fact of life that challenges will arise but I think a lot of us feel like we're due some sort of guaranteed, constant happiness. People do all sorts of things when they face these stressers: they take it out on those around them--sometimes resulting in a sort of emotional blackmail, they fall into depression, and many even turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. We all have problems. Even I--SunnySideUp Lisa--have problems! This week, in fact, has been a most challenging one for me.

My stepmom, after several months of illness, went to be with our Lord a week ago. My dad, siblings and other family members knew that it was coming but of course losing somebody to death is never easy. Her passing may well have been the best thing for her, as I was reminded, but that fact doesn't make the missing her any easier! It hurts! What hurts even more is that, due to pressed financial times (and that's putting it lightly) I could not get to Georgia to be with my family during any portion my stepmom's illness and not even for her funeral. What kicks me in the ribs the most is that, through their own grieving, I really don't think that my extended family truly knows neither how serious our situation is nor how upset I am that I could not make the trip. This may be my own sensitivity preying on me and making my mind work overtime (as my personality type usually allows) but I dont know--I'm sickened over the thought that perhaps they feel I blew it off. This is not so.

Add to all of that whole thing the day to day worry of making our bills that my husband and I have been facing right. It's rough for so many of us right now. Like my husband, many of you may have had to take pay cuts. Many of you may have actually lost your jobs! Many of you know exactly what I'm talking about (and you know who you are). ;) A couple of months behind on both the mortgage and the vehicle payment is not a happy place to be. We've cut back and skeletoned down even further--just when we thought we were as bare bones economically-minded as we could be. The bill collectors are a callin' and dropping in with pleasant little visits. These are full stress-potential times like no other for us!

Stress precursors come and stress precursors go. The world keeps on spinning and I've found a few ways to continue to move forward right along with it. None of these tips that I will share with you diminish the fact that the challenges are very real and that we have to face them and deal with them but they do help me to keep things in perspective and not get stuck in a pit of despair. I've got an incredibly fantastic husband who is right there on the same page with me, I have some loving, supportive and understanding family members, and I have more than my share of both longtime, dear friends as well as newer, growing friendships. Some of these folks are in the struggling financial pit with us and know first-hand the pains of being behind and others are just really great at showing empathy and compassion. Regardless of who you have in your life, RELATIONSHIPS are the first key. When you are facing a huge challenge it is the relationships that you have been nurturing that will become a most invaluable tool. Here's a little clue, too: we should all be nurturing those relationships continually---not just when we are in need! Relationships with others are what we were created to have and sometimes those are the first things to get dropped. Stressful times can be a good reminder as to how important our friends and family are and how--moving forward--we should place them high on the heirarchy of our lives if they've fallen short in the past. Sharing your problems with a close friend or relative who cares is such a freeing experience. Please don't bottle up your pent up emotions. Find somebody to share them with.

You probably know what I'm going to emphasize next. I have found that, without a doubt, staying physically active helps keep my emotions and feelings on an even keel and helps me to find balance and peace--even in the most stressful of times (actually, ESPECIALLY in the most stressful of times). It's been shown that our bodies store up our tensions even long after we think we've processed the situation in our minds. That's why it's so important to exercise regularly and consistently and not just in little occasional bursts here and there. If I'm feeling tightly wound over something and absolutely ready to explode with frustration, a run outdoors is just the ticket for me or sometimes it's a fast ride on my road bike, Creamsicle. The P90X Plyometrics and Core Synergistics workouts are other examples of intense workouts that drain me of every bit of stored up tension and put me right on time. Then there is my close buddy: Yoga. Yoga and I have become great friends and I would LOVE to introduce you! A good yoga session should provide you with such a harmonious blend of strength, balance, flexibility and relaxation poses after which you will undoubtably feel your troubles melt away. I try to do at least 2 yoga workouts each week (but usually more) and change it up between the 90 minute YogaX that comes with the P90X program and our Yoga Booty Ballet series. Yesterday afternoon was a particularly difficult time for me but after Matt and I did YogaX I felt so much better--it was a night and day difference. I slept well and woke up feeling great.

That brings up another important thought: rest, water and healthy food. We hear so often about the importance of staying hydrated with water, about being careful about what you fuel your body with and about getting plenty of rest. I'm not going to drone on about that now but I do want to emphasize that all 3 of these things are crucial to your overall good health and your ability to effectively and positively deal with stressful issues. Don't turn a deaf ear on the suggestions. Drink your water, eat healthfully and go to bed on time, if not early, people!

Nurturing relationships, physical activity of a high enough intensity and particular type, healthy good, water and rest are all pieces of the puzzle that I've found to help me weather the storms with a smile on my face. I also have to take a moment to mention that, in all of this, I give credit to my maker for the positive outlook I default to and for the drive to stay focused and stick with these uplifting and freeing outlets as opposed to allowing myself to be crushed. For me, living a healthy lifestyle is such a beautifully harmonious process involving a balance of mind, body and spirit through which God works to bring about beauty---even during the ugly moments.

Are you struggling and looking for a way to hold your head above the water? I'm not a counselor but I have a love for people and for helping people get healthier (thus happier). I'm an Independent Beach Body coach and would love to hear your story and help you find your way out of the mud. I'd be happy to tell you more about P90X, Yoga Booty Ballet or any of our other programs. I'd also be happy just to listen :) ~~To your health and happiness~~