Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Living’

The Joy of Saying YES to Yourself!

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How many days do you give yourself permission to follow your heart? To listen to your body? To be in charge of your own schedule? When I am consulting with other business people and creatives, I call this driving the bus. And it sounds great, doesn’t it. Many of us want to yell “Hell yes I am in charge of my own life!” but how many of us really are? Probably very few.

We are taught from a very young age that someone else is in charge of the “rules.” We are expected to meet other peoples’ expectations and deadlines and parameters. We learn that we “should” do a lot of things and that we “have to” be a certain way or check certain boxes or finish certain activities to be accepted, successful, popular. We learn that life is all about achievements and belonging instead of following your heart or your gut.

There is a lot of lip service these days given to being authentic, to “you doing you.” But I don’t feel like we give ourselves or others permission to really do that. And I have to tell you that I am over this masochistic way of living. It takes a toll on your physical and mental health but especially your happiness and joy. I have been a rule follower for about 45 years now. But I am tired of following the rules someone else created for me, or worse, that I set for myself based on achieving some level of success or attaining the approval of others – my family and society.

Whether your personal set of rules and expectations come from your parents and their core beliefs (this is where most of us start our rules), from society, from your professional industry, from your political affiliation, or just from your own super-high standards like I have, it’s time to challenge those rules, to dig deep and have the courage to design a life that really brings joy. It’s time to say YES to ourselves.

I want this more than anything for my daughter. Recognizing now that I am a recovering workaholic – addicted to work and achievement – I have a lot of wisdom to share with her about what an authentic life looks like. I know that no amount of success, accolades, awards, or accomplishments really feed your soul. And trust me, being on this sort of hamster wheel is exhausting. I’ve learned that the things that are truly meaningful in life are about connection – true connection with those you love plus loving and accepting yourself and a whole lot less proving, hustling, and trying to work our way to some level of happiness. Working your way to Joy just doesn’t happen long term.

So as you may recall, I have two resolutions this year – yes only two. That is saying a lot, because this major goal-setting, workaholic mama is crazy about goals and resolutions. I have had years where I had 10 or more. Geez! How did I think I could focus on 10 things at once?!? But this year my two resolutions are find more joy and love myself more.

And loving myself more means saying YES to myself. So what does that mean? It means when I feel like lying in bed all day on a Saturday or even on a Tuesday morning…I say YES and rearrange my schedule! It means when I feel my gut and my neck get all tense and tight because I have committed to something that I shouldn’t have and I ask myself if I can back out of it…I say YES and I make the call to un-commit! It means that if the old version of me is saying I “should” be accomplishing my next big goal or dream and my authentic self says I just want to lay low for a while and rest…I say YES! Saying yes to yourself takes courage. It means ignoring FOMO or “the fear of missing out” in exchange for putting your health and wellbeing first. It means taking a chance that someone will be mad at you, disappointed, or that they will forget you or not ask you next time and that’s scary. But it’s also empowering.

Most of us, especially women, spend a lifetime denying ourselves and our wishes in exchange for doing what makes other people happy. Especially in the South, we are taught to be quiet and look pretty. We are taught to go along with what other people want and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. We are taught to say yes to everyone and everything but us. We are taught the “responsible,” “admirable,” “appropriate” thing to do is what other people want us to do, or what we said we were going to do. We are not supposed to change our minds. In many ways, we are not supposed to be honest. We are not supposed to cause a problem. We are supposed to suck it up and do what makes everyone else feel good. And I am here to tell you that doesn’t equal health and happiness. That is not a recipe for joy.

So what would it take for you to stop telling yourself you have to, should, must, ought to, promised to and all those other absolutes you are pummeling yourself with, and start saying yes to your heart, your body, and your mind? What would it take for you to have the courage to say I thought I wanted that, but now I want something different? Or to say, that was great for a season of my life but now I am in a new season? Or as Maya Angelou said, when I know better I do better? What would give you the guts to do better with being kind and honest to yourself and saying YES to what you really want?

I know it’s hard, but it’s oh-so worth it. Be true to you before you commit to anyone else. Keep your word to yourself about what is right for you and what you really want. We’ve heard it so many times and it’s so hard to really believe, but life really is short. And it’s way too short to live a life that you dread every day or that sucks the life out of you on a regular basis.

We are supposed to feel good every day. We are not supposed to be constantly exhausted, stressed out, and overworked only leaving the miserable, grumpy, tired, and depleted version of ourselves for our families to deal with at the end of every day. If you are feeling that way on a regular basis, something is wrong. I’ve been there. And I am so happy to be in a much more relaxed state these days. I’m sure my family is happy about that too! (wink)

If you are creating a ridiculous schedule where your life is so full of noise and very little peace, how can you ever even hear your body or mind when it’s screaming at you that you’ve had enough?

Listen to yourself. Love yourself and say YES to yourself. Remember that no one ever says on their death bed, “I wish I had worked more” but most wish they had followed their hearts.

You deserve it.

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Yin Yoga

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Yin yoga changed my life. About 6 years ago I discovered Yin style yoga. I had been practicing yoga on and off for years but was typically doing flow yoga or even hot yoga now and again. I had no idea Yin even existed. Sadly there is no Yin yoga studio in Little Rock anymore but I now practice Yin at home in my personal yoga studio. More about that in a bit

So what is Yin, you ask? It’s a type of yoga involving super long holds in typical yoga positions…as in 8 minutes in a forward fold. The point of it is to bypass the muscle and get into the connective tissue. You know the connective tissue? It’s that stuff that basically shrink wraps your joints. And as we age it doesn’t remain as pliable or flexible as it once was which can cause all sorts of joint pain, back issues and injuries. If you are a nerd like me and would like to learn more about Yin and it’s benefits, this book, The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, is for you!

I find that Yin has a lot of the benefits of Restorative yoga too. And I know, I know, lots of “real” yoga peeps think Yin and Restorative are for sissies. Well as Oprah would say “here’s what I know for sure”. I get cardio in my life in tons of ways including walking, hiking, tennis and other intense exercises. So I am not lacking in the sweating and burning calories department most of the time. But where I am always in major need is in the stretching my body and relaxing my mind categories. My personality is definitely Type A and some might say I’m “intense” so instead of adding more fuel to the fire so to speak with hot yoga or something fast paced, what this hard-working mama needs is something that calms me down and makes my body feel oh so good. And I mean YIN FEELS GOOD! It’s truly hard for me to decide if a massage or Yin yoga feels better.

And what I learned about Yin is that it’s sort of like yoga meets meditation. Because trust me, when you are in a hold for 5-8 minutes or longer, it definitely becomes about quieting the mind, especially in poses like Dragon that are super painful. So for me Yin is a double win because it is a major dose of mental work with a super dose of stretching my body.

You can also think of Yin as in the opposite of Yang. Yang qualities are fire, intense, fast, restless, active. Yang isn’t all bad, it is also positive, light and  sunshine. But for me, too much Yang is a problem. And my personality is absolutely way more Yang than Yin. We need to balance our personality with whichever qualities we don’t have. So I am the perfect candidate for Yin yoga because I am definitely high-strung, very active, easily stressed and I also spend a lot of time sitting at work, on airplanes, and in front of my computer so my hips, hamstrings, low back, neck and shoulders get really tight. The difference in my body and my demeanor with a Yin yoga practice is remarkable. Just ask those people who live with me when I’m not practicing Yin (wink!).

I really understood the power of Yin yoga over the last couple of years when I took on a lot of extra things like expanding my consulting company, and 4 licensed product lines, and I let my Yin practice fall by the wayside. Boy did I ever feel the pains of not having this gift of yoga in my life. And my body went from feeling like a 30 something to an 80 year old in about a year’s time. I was actually surprised at how far backwards my health and flexibility went by not making time for this therapeutic form of exercise.

 

So if you are like me, Type A all the way, give Yin yoga a try. I practice every day now and my life is better for it. You can do it right at home with yogaglo.com on your computer, tablet or phone. And if you have Apple TV like me, it’s even easier to stream it on your TV. If you’re looking for peace, health and lots and lots of JOY this year, Yin yoga is the way. Namaste!

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Listening

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Listen carefully because I need to tell you something really important…We don’t listen. Yes! It is so true. None of us (or very few) truly listen to each other or to our bodies. We often don’t even listen to the small voice inside–you know the one you may call intuition or your gut that is your innermost guide to what works for you.

We don’t listen to our spouses, our children, our families or our friends. We don’t listen to clients. We don’t listen.

As a part of my course in Nutrition at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, listening is taught as a very important concept for both personal wellness and coaching others. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So why don’t we do it?

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Well we all have our reasons. Usually it’s because we are thinking of ourselves or thinking about what we are going to say next. Often it’s because we think we are smarter or know better than the person that’s talking. Sometimes it’s because our minds are wandering or fretting over all the things on our to do list. It may be because we are distracted with social media (put your phone down please!) or television or our kids or our dogs. I mean seriously could we have any more distractions in our lives?

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So I am going to be brutally honest here—isn’t listening the only way we really learn and help others? As I really started to think about the reason that I personally don’t listen the way I should to my family or my clients I learned that for me it’s a matter of time. I’m always in a hurry. I never feel like I have the “luxury” of listening. And I think that is really sad. It goes back to my post last week on “having my plate too full”. I realized I feel this constant pressure to get things done and so every meeting, every encounter whether with friends or family or my business associates or vendors I am in a race against the clock to blurt out all the important things that I feel must be said before that imaginary buzzer in my head sounds and tells me it’s time to move on to the next thing. And I wonder why I always feel so stressed!! Living in this self-imposed fight or flight mode has the cortisol pumping 24-7 in my body and the repercussions on my health and relationships is detrimental.

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Then I started thinking about the JOY that comes with listening. And I am depriving myself of that connection with others when I am harried and on a deadline for every conversation. It is most evident when I think about my pre-teen daughter. I want more than anything else to stay connected with her as she grows like my mom has connected with me. And I’ve now had the light-bulb moment about listening and I realize this means clearing my plate so that I have time to listen to her. Real time. Eye contact. Being fully present.

And that is not semi-listening while on my laptop. It’s not pseudo-listening while I am cooking dinner. It’s real listening maybe while we go for a walk, or drive in the car or head out for a frozen yogurt and sit across from each other and smile. I have been drawn to a quote for a while that says “Time without attention is worthless”. These are powerful words. I think it goes to the heart of idea of quality time. But I feel like quality time has become one of those things that Americans give lip service to, don’t you? Most of us consider it “time with family” if we are in the same room or house with them while we multi-task on a million different things. And then there’s the problem of not listening to ourselves.

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Yes, there is the whole debacle of me not listening to my body. Seriously, could it scream any louder when I am out of balance. I suspect some of you can even hear it screaming where you are right now, ha! But all joking aside, when your joints ache and your pants don’t fit and your feet hurt and your brain is foggy, wouldn’t an intelligent and logical person listen? One would think, but so few of us do. That’s why we are all overworked, sleep-deprived, stressed out, and depressed. It’s why we need alcohol and anti-depressants, mindless TV and Facebook to numb us from hearing that persistent voice inside telling us exactly what we already know, but don’t want to hear. For me the message is SLOW DOWN! DO LESS! RELAX! It’s saying please, please, please I beg of you to go up to your yoga room, or take 20 minutes and meditate, or go out for a walk and breathe all that fresh air! What message is your body telling you?

listen to your soul

So I am turning my focus now not to listening (ironically), but to getting things off my plate. My need to open up whitespace in my life, to prioritize and say no. I need to remove more deadlines and stress and quite honestly to love myself more. This is the only way I will be able to listen—truly listen, to those precious people and clients and colleagues that are most important to me. And it is definitely the only way I will ever hear myself.

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I know in my heart and in my gut that listening is one of the things that can bring me the most JOY this year. I want to listen to my heart, my loves and my body more than ever before.

Will you join me in finding the Joy in listening? Tell me your answer—I’m listening.

Joyfully yours,

Tobi Signature

 

 

The Joy of Saying No

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learning to say no

There is so much JOY in saying no sometimes, right? But conversely, saying no is often one of the hardest things we do. It is really difficult when good and exciting opportunities present themselves to you and you think “I HAVE to say yes to this”, but you know you really don’t have the bandwidth to take it on. You’ve been there, haven’t you? I know, me too!

And then sometimes even when our gut tells us we don’t want to do something, it’s still hard to say no. We feel guilty or obligated or uncomfortable in these situations, don’t we?

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I have a life philosophy that says “Say no to the good so you can say YES to the great”. But sometimes in the moment you can’t tell the difference. Especially when it’s someone you love or admire or respect that is doing the asking.

I have been working with my team, my family and my therapist (yes, I have one and I think everyone should, but that’s a whole different blog post) to continue to clean out and declutter my life and my to do list. I know this is the only way to find more joy and to love myself more–which are my only 2 goals for this year.

because I am busy

But even at that, it is SOOOO hard sometimes to get rid of things or say no to new opportunities. Or for me, the hardest is probably NOT launching new ideas and endeavors because I am an idea girl, a visionary, a big thinker, a dreamer. And cutting out all of that brainstorming of new ideas is killing me in the short run. But for my long term goals, simplifying is the only way to true peace and joy.

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So this week, my therapist and I came up with a great analogy or plan and I think is something to which many of you can relate, so I wanted to share it with you here. We were talking about my workaholic tendencies and my chronic over-achiever personality. And trust me, over-achiever sounds like a good thing but that’s not always the case. It can be exhausting and hard on you both mentally and physically. And we noticed that my workload was still out of balance, even with all the pruning I’ve been doing. I have “too much on my plate” as we say.  My therapist said my plate looks like a Thanksgiving feast piled to the top and over-flowing and we got a good laugh at that. But it also gave me a HUGE Ah-ha moment.

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You see, she suggested my “plate” look healthy with 3-5 dollops of work on it TOTAL.  You can imagine a healthy plate of food with a little protein, a little carb, a lot of green veggies–you get the point. And you know what I realized? When my proverbial “plate” is overloaded like the Thanksgiving feast, so is my real plate because my personality type and habits include emotional eating or eating lots of sugar and carbs. I know for many of you stress equals an unhealthy existence for you too.

So for the first time in my life I think I really “got it” that for me an overloaded plate of commitments means weight gain, fatigue, stress, and many other unhealthy things. And this really clicked with me. In fact it sort of scared me.

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So I am back to my mission of saying no to the good and saying yes to my best self. And there is so much JOY in this way of thinking and even more in the results I will be getting including more time for all the things that are most important to me and feeling healthy enough to enjoy those blessings.

Here’s to the JOY of saying no more this year and saying YES to the best version of you!

Joyfully yours,

Tobi Signature