Striving for Ordinary

I believe that every single person on this planet has a great purpose.  I believe that all humans are on Earth to do wonderful things and touch lives.   As humans we have a basic need to connect with others and to develop a healthy self-esteem we need a sense of community and belonging.  According to Abraham Maslow (1954) in order for a person to  reach their full potential and live a fulfilled life, a person must first find love and belonging.  To consider that love and belonging is a more essential human need than self-fulfillment means that as humans our purpose is to connect to others.

Many may struggle with the notion of “serving a purpose” or many may struggle to understand their purpose.  I think this idea seems overwhelming because as a Capitalist society we are programmed to see “purpose” as something large, powerful, and meaningful.  It seems that “purpose” means more money, more success, more fame, and more power.  I know I once believed that.  For years I believed I needed to touch and dramatically change the lives of thousands.  I believed I had to do huge things to serve my purpose.

However we do not need to move mountains, save and impact the lives of thousands, or accomplish fame and fortune to serve a purpose.  We can impact the world simply by being ordinary.  In my early attempts to be “great” and live my purpose I spent a great deal of time and energy thinking globally.  This caused me to neglect the people  immediate world and I lost time doubting myself.  I failed to see how I could impact the lives of my clients, my co-workers, my friends, and my family.  I felt I needed to reach more, do more, and be more to serve my purpose.  Rather than finding fulfillment and joy in my interactions with others, I started to feel burned out and tired.

I do believe that anyone at any time can impact the world and reach to positively change the lives of others.  However when this becomes our focus we fail to see how powerful we are in our everyday lives.  We do not need to be extraordinary to change the world.  Your ordinary self has the power to impact another and change a life.

You impact the lives of people every single day.  How you interact with people has power.  What you say to a person leaves a legacy.  In your small world you have great power.  You can set in motion a positive or a negative experience for others, and ultimately yourself.   Stop doubting your skills.  Stop seeking extraordinary.  You have the potential to do extraordinary things today in your ordinary life.  The extra things you do to better your life or the life of a loved one is what makes your ordinary extraordinary.  As you strive to create love, joy, and positivity in your life and the lives of others around you, you will be able to look back and see your ordinary life has become extraordinary.

You Don’t Have to Always Hustle to Be Successful

I read a blog this morning about the behaviors of emotionally strong individuals.  Initially I asked, “what is emotional strength?”  Emotional strength is the ability to experience positive feelings.  There are some studies to suggest that certain personality traits are linked to greater emotional stability, an indicator for emotional strength (Guswell & Ruch, 2012). A particular study by Guswell and Ruch (2012) suggested there are innate characteristics that can either support or hinder a person’s ability to manage emotions.  In other words some personalities have an easier time managing emotions and remaining positive.  Although research claims it may be easier for some more than others it is not likely that only certain individuals with certain personality traits are allowed happiness.  All people are allowed happiness and all individuals can have a happy disposition despite character, experience, or previous thought patterns.

Individuals can learn emotional strength.  If you struggle with something in life you can learn to improve; you can learn to emotionally improve, as well. Your emotions do not control you.  Your thinking does not control you.  (It seems that way most of the time because turning “off” thinking and emotions is challenging).  The source behind the thinking and the emotions is YOU and the one in control of you is YOU!  I understand my posts talk a lot about choosing to be happy positive and I understand this can be very frustrating to most.  But, that truly is the issue; choice.  How you think and how you feel is up to you!  It is that simple.  The hard part is applying the skills, tools, and techniques to make that choice stick.

There are lots of tools and behaviors one can apply to increase emotional strength.  One behavior that stood out to me as a read the blog on emotional strength was ,”They (emotionally strong people) are not afraid of slowing down”.  This really stuck with me and caused me to ponder.

Emotional strength equals success.  Early research clearly demonstrated that people with an ability to evaluate their emotions, identify their emotions, and rationally handle their emotions are better able to reach and achieve goals (Allport & Allport, 1921).  To consider that emotionally strong people can slow down and relax challenged the belief that successful people are “go-getters” and “busy-bees”. Success coincides with work.  So many of us are chasing dreams, aspirations, and goals.  Motivation is inspired and we are challenged to keep going, keep pushing, and work daily to achieve success.  Then why is slowing down a sign of success and emotional strength?  How does rest and slowing down accomplish goals?

When we slow down we can LIVE.  It is so easy to be caught up in pursuing goals and achieving success and to lose sight of daily life and the little miracles that occur.  I am no exception.  My goals and aspirations in life require me to have daily goals and a daily plan.  The drive to be successful causes me to become acutely aware of my daily goals and I can spend minutes of my day, hours of my day planning, working, building, doing, and analyzing.  What happens if I just stop?  What happens if I just slow down and approach the day as it comes?

When we can slow down we are left with seconds, minutes, hours, even days for freedom and to live.

  • Slowing down means we can be content with our present moment and our present blessings.
  • Slowing down means we can be thankful for what we have.
  •  Slowing down allows us to experience love and support of family and friends.
  • Slowing down means taking a break.
  • Slow down means we have time to do something else (perhaps read a book, talk with a friend, or sit in silence).

Today I challenge you to stop!  Stop planning and stop working.  Take time away from your “to-do” list and do something else.  You do not need to always be working on something and you do not need to always be focusing on your goals.  I challenge you to take a step back, slow down, and enjoy the moment and the people you are with.  When you slow down to live you will restore your heart, your brain, and your soul.  This renewal of mind, body, and spirit will help you achieve goals, accomplish tasks, and lead you to success.

 

 

References:

Allport, F. H., & Allport, G. W.  (1921). Personality traits: Their classification and measurement. The Journal of Abnormal Psychology and Social Psychology, 16(1), 6-40.

Guswell, A. & Ruch, W. (2012).  Are only emotional strengths emotional?  Character strength and disposition to positive emotions.  Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 4(2), 218-239.

Burn Calories All Day with This Leg Workout

Happy Friday y’all! I hope it has been a great one.  What muscle group did you train today?  This morning I trained legs.  It was intense!  I was drenched in sweat because it kept my heart rate up, my breathing rate was increased, and it challenged me. As a result of my workout this morning I have been STARVING all day.  I am generally always hungry (life of being a bikini fitness competitor) but it is more so today.

My metabolism was increased today because this leg workout not only worked out a large muscle group but the high intensity kept my body working hard.  Try this workout below to keep burning calories all day long.

The key is to keep moving.  You want no rest between exercises and little rest between sets. I just rested long enough to catch my breath, motivate myself, and set up for the exercise.

Try a challenging and heavy weight, however do not sacrifice form.  You want the weight challenging enough to make the set difficult but light enough to complete the set safely.  For example I could have squatted heavier but because I wanted to go for higher reps I kept my weight a bit lower.  No need to be a super hero – you will feel like a warrior when you are done, though! My advice – start out lighter, you can always add weight as you go.

Set 1

Lying Leg Extension

Leg Extension

Split Squat (12 reps each leg)

5 sets with 15 reps

Set 2

Barbell Squats (first 2 sets I completed 15 reps) – (I increased weight on barbell every couple of sets – the last set was heaviest and I could get in 10 reps)

Single Leg Hack Squat

Glute Push-Down

5 sets with 12 reps each

Set 3

Stiff Leg Deadlift (I increased weight after 2 sets)

Lying Leg Press – feet high and wide

Lying Leg Press – feet high and narrow

Seated Calf Raises

5 sets with 15 reps each

By the end of this workout you will be hungry and you can be sure your metabolism will have a burst to burn extra calories throughout the day.  Don’t use that as an excuse to overindulge, so be careful with hunger cravings.  Be sure to eat a small meal every couple of hours that includes a protein, a fat, and a carb.  I expect some Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) the next couple of days because this workout gave a great burn!

 

Thigh Gaps and 6-Pack Abs

I am saddened and, quite frankly, sickened by modern perceptions of beauty and what this is doing to women, young and old. I love fashion. If I ever return to school for a second career it would be to work in the fashion industry. I love fabric, accessories, makeup, beauty products, shoes, clothes, and the art of fashion. I am intrigued by models. I find them beautiful and I find them alluring. I find that I want to wear or carry whatever it is the models are wearing or carrying. As I flip through the most recent addition of Vogue and I see the gorgeous photos shining back at me, I feel a bit conflicted and convicted. Does my love for fashion and this media standard of beauty mean that I support the unhealthy and unrealistic expectations of beauty?

As a fitness competitor and as an individual that works in the health and wellness field I spend a lot of time focusing on the body. Bodybuilding athletes spend a great deal of time trying to shape their physique to meet a specific standard. Countless hours are spent in the gym, time with friends and family is neglected, and sheer dedication to stick to a meal plan are all required to achieve a particular body. Once this body is achieved there is pride in the work. Then the individual faces a panel of others to have their body judged, critiqued, and evaluated. Does this support media standards of beauty?  Then once the competition is over, life continues.  The lean muscles and the “fit” physique do not make daily life any easier, nor does it make the average individual any richer or more valuable.  For most, this physique does not pay the bills nor does it improve relationships with others.

The current standard in beauty is a “thigh gap” and “6-pack abs”. People believe to have the body shaped in this way means a person is more beautiful. But what does achieving this body mean? What does this body say about this person? I asked a group of young girls about this. To achieve the ideal body means someone is more popular, happier, smarter, and more successful in life. What we need to realize is that the physical body is only a shell of a person. A pecan shell may indicate a yummy, healthy pecan is inside, but once cracked up it displays a rotted, spoiled nut that cannot be eaten and left for garbage.

I am afraid these media standards are not going anywhere and they are not likely to change anytime soon. We will constantly be bombarded with thigh gaps and 6 pack abs. Rather then change media outlets (please continue to fight for realistic, less unhealthy versions of beauty in the media), we need to focus on changing our individual selves to value who we are, what we do, and how we look.

The easiest way to change how we value ourselves is to examine our beliefs. One way our beliefs develop is through our personal experiences. Most people believe in the notion that as humans we live in a Just World. In other words, it makes most sense to believe that things happen in life to us and to others because it is deserved. We may think that a person deserves abs and a thigh gap more than ourselves. We think the “beautiful” person has been rewarded their figure.

Most people walking around this planet have experienced heartache, disappointment, hurt, rejection, and fear. Sadly these experiences influence how we feel about ourselves and have the tendency to cause us to believe we do not deserve better (Callan, Kay, & Dawtry, 2014). A recent research study found people use this thinking to develop patterns of behavior. These behaviors include beliefs one is not capable of achieving better and that other people believe the individual is not deserving of better (Callan, Kay, Dawtry, 2014). Let’s say you have a goal to lose weight and want to be more fit so you start attending the local gym on a regular basis. You walk in and see people that appear “fit” and healthy to you. Rather than become motivated by their physiques you start to doubt your ability to squat that much weight, run that fast, or jump as high. Because you are not able to keep pace with the more “fit” person you assume you are not deserving of a better physique. This self-doubt will keep you from your goals. If you do not believe in yourself, you will struggle to achieve your dreams.

What also happens is people think others are judging them (Callan, Kay, & Dawtry, 2014). I hear people say all the time they are not willing to enter the weight room for fear of others judging them as they work out. If you feel bad about yourself, you will think others think bad about you as well.

The reason for selling yourself short and doubting yourself is related to the thoughts and experiences you hold. Every single person on this Earth has positive and negative experiences and every single person will base their opinion of self based on these. It is not true that individuals with the body and life you want are more deserving than you. In fact you deserve it as much as them. The difference between you and them, is their ability to see self in a more positive frame of reference.

A research study suggests that individuals that can retrieve positive self-images had not only increased self-esteem but also improved social interactions. The researchers found people had to deliberately conjure these positive self-images (Hulme, Hirsch, & Stopa, 2012).  To be more successful and love yourself more, you need to image your best, most fabulous self, and you have to do this on purpose and with intention.  It will not always come easy but creating a reminder of this best self, is sure to help remind you to recall how great you really are.  

  • To feel better about yourself and forget about the images bombarding you, image your best self.
  • Think about all the times you have been told “I love you”.
  • Imagine a time you were successful and proud.  
  • Write all of this down.  Include pictures if you have them.  Include pictures where you look happy, proud, and excited.  Include letters and memorabilia.  Place all of this on a wall, in your car, in your purse, in your pocket, in your workout bag, etc.  Keep it somewhere to remind you how great and beautiful you are.  

Remember a thigh gap and 6-pack abs will not pay your bills, will not keep you safe, and will not love you back.  These “status symbols” do nothing to improve an already fabulous you.  The things you have listed above determine your value and your worth.  Those things are more beautiful than a thigh gap and 6 pack abs, the thigh gap and 6-pack abs will disappear soon anyway.   

References:

Callan, M., Kay, A., & Dawtry, R. (2014). Making sense of misfortune: Deservingness, self-esteem, and patterns of self-defeat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (107)1.

Hulme, N., Hirsch, C., & Stopa, L. (2012). Images of the self and self-esteem: Do positive self-images improve self-esteem in social anxiety? Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 41(2).

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Embrace Your #Selfie

As popularity of social media grows people are becoming more and more exposed. There is little personal information kept private and people quickly post, tag, and respond to proclaim intimate details of their lives. The selfie has evolved to allow people to provide a pictorial account of their life.

The occasional selfie can be cute and fun. Scroll any fitness, health, fashion, and lifestyle social media page and you will find it is full of selfies. Many use selfies to show progress, motivate and encourage others, and help tell the story of a personal journey. These selfies are fun and I think they should be embraced.

There are some that believe the selfie phemonenom has gone too far. Some researchers claim selfies are a sign of narcissism and decreased self-esteem and even suicide. This is a shame and shows how things can go too far. (The problem is not the selfie. Rather the person posting. We must remember there are people that have untreated and unaddressed issues but these are not the majority).

I am an advocate of the selfie. I believe the selfie can be used to promote and encourage self-esteem and a positive self-image. The selfie does not have to become a tainted trend.

I have worked with hundreds of young people. Most with low self-esteem and negative body image. Many of these kiddos withdrew and criticized self because they did not want to sound conceited. They were taught to be humble and respectful. These are very important values that should be taught. However these young people also received the message they should not feel pride or express self praise for accomplishments. Rather our youth are too quick to identify what is wrong with them. They cannot accept a complement and they have an easier time telling you what is wrong with them instead of what is right. It has been socially acceptable to speak poorly of self, identify flaws, and point out failures.

When children and young people criticize self, they are quick to criticize others. Ultimately we now have a problem with bullies. Perhaps limiting self-expressing and not allowing children (and ourselves) to freely express positive attributes in self has created an environment where criticizing self and others is common practice. Rather then groan about selfies. Let’s embrace them.

A selfie can be a practice of self love. I want to see more people show off their self love, strengths, and accomplishments. Let’s celebrate ourself so,we can celebrate each other. The selfie is a platform to encourage self esteem and self pride.

1. Selfies show appreciation for self. Now a days there is too much self depreciation. Let’s turn self depreciation into self-appreciation.
2. A selfie shows pride. More people need to know when they have done well and when they have accomplished something. There is a difference between being prideful and proud. To be proud is OK and when we are proud of accomplishments and hard work it is not being arrogant or selfish to want others to know.
3. A selfie promotes posivity towards one self. This picture is saying “I feel good” and “I look good” or “I have a sense of humor”. It is a good thing to think you look good and to feel good and to be able to laugh at yourself. More people need to embrace these thoughts to increase self love.

Selfies should be embraced not to encourage criticism and narcissism. Rather I want people to embrace their selfie as a way to improve self-esteem and increase self-love. Use your selfie to show off how great you are. Next time you see a selfie, rather then roll your eyes, praise God a person has the esteem to show off to the world. Let’s stop discouraging and start encouraging a healthy love for self. When we can love ourselves more we will love others more!