Are You Ignoring the Signs That It’s Time For Change?

If we know the the one constant in life is change, why do so many of us resist it?  No matter what state your life is in at this moment – good or bad – it will eventually change. What’s bad will get better and what’s good will get worse.

changesame

The best way to deal with change is to embrace it, and whenever possible, get ahead of it. When it comes to our health, our bodies will usually indicate that change is happening. Before a woman enters menopause, she’s had signs years in advance that it’s happening. When people are diagnosed with diabetes, they’ve usually experienced some warning signs – high blood pressure, numbness, frequent urination, blurry vision, etc.

These are the changes we need to embrace sooner. Unfortunately, what I’ve come to realize is many people go into denial – too often to their detriment. Everyday I encounter people who have serious health problems. What’s disheartening to me as a health coach is how few people are motivated to deal with it. Instead of dealing they choose to ignore. When it comes to your health, ignoring it or denying it won’t make it go away. If you don’t change what you’re doing,  your condition won’t stay the same. It won’t get better. It will get worse.

One of the most thought provoking questions I pose to my clients is this – what’s at risk if you do nothing? If you do nothing about your pre-diabetic or high blood pressure diagnosis what do you stand to lose?

I understand that many people feel overwhelmed and often afraid when they hear bad news. What I try to stress to people is there are things you can do to get control of this. Most health issues can be controlled or reversed. You don’t have to spend your life on medications. You can usually change your condition through nutrition.

Look at it this way, if you have the choice between being on medication for the rest of your life or improving your nutrition – what would you decide? It seems like a no brainer, but too often it is not. Instead of sacrificing a few favorite foods or getting up a little earlier to workout, a lot of people choose to remain the same. They end up taking medications. After taking medication for an extended period of time some people become deceived into thinking the problem is handled. At least for now, most medications don’t cure diseases – they temporarily reduce symptoms and reduce pain. It’s like putting a bandage on a gun shot wound when the patient really needs surgery. The bandage will hold up for a little while, but unless something is done to improve the patient’s condition, the problem will get worse.

For some people it’s difficult to comprehend that changing your eating habits can change your health. Well, it’s true. Hippocrates – the father of western medicine said it best - “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

Evidence shows that following a plant based diet can prevent – and in some cases – reverse major health issues. Even if you don’t become a vegan or vegetarian you can still incorporate more plant based foods into your diet.

Here are three simple things you can do:

  1. Eat fresh foods at every meal. Get rid of processed and canned foods. Don’t eat green beans in the can, buy fresh green beans. Don’t buy frozen broccoli with cheese sauce. Instead, steam your fresh broccoli crowns in veggie broth; you can even roast them in the oven with olive oil. Add blueberries or strawberries to your oatmeal or cereal in the morning. Have a big green salad with your dinner or for dinner.

  2. Drink green juices/smoothies. Avoid the bottled versions from the grocery store and make your own. There are many simple recipes. Just choose a few leafy green veggies you like, add a banana, apple or pineapples to sweeten it, and blend them with water.

  3. Reduce your meat consumption. Let there be one day of the week that you don’t consume any animal protein. Have a meatless Monday.

These are just three simple things you can do to add more plant based foods into your diet. They are small changes, but will have a big impact if you do them and if you’re consistent.

So, I want to ask you again – What’s at risk if you do nothing about your current condition? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments.

A Different Kind of Triathlon – A “Mindful Triathlon”

If you are a regular follower of my blog then you know I completed my first ever triathlon back in July. It was the most challenging and exciting thing I’ve done so far this year. Well, I’m getting ready to participate in another triathlon. This one is much different – it’s a “Mindful Triathlon”.

Photo by Jake Laub for Wanderlust Festival

Wanderlust Festival

I know that sounds really weird, but that’s what it is. Instead of the swim, bike, run events that are customary for a traditional triathlon, the Mindful Triathlon events include a 5K run, meditation and yoga.

It’s part of the Wanderlust Festival. This one day event has been taking place in urban parks across the country. Upcoming events are scheduled for Brooklyn NY, Austin Texas, Hawaii, and later this month it’s coming to Atlanta.

I had the pleasure of talking to one of the lead yoga instructors for the event. Nora Honarvar from Tough Love Yoga studios shared some insights about this unique event and what we can expect. Please click on the image below to watch the interview.

mindfultriathlon

Wanderlust 108 will be held at Piedmont Park in Atlanta on Sunday, September 28th. Please visit the event website at www.wanderlust.com for registration information.

Now, I have a question for you - What do you think of this concept of a mindful triathlon?

*The photo featured in this blog is by Jake Laub for Wanderlust Festival.

** The photos featured in the video are by Stewart Noack, Daniel Craig, Amy Hart, and Vincent Tran for Wanderlust Festival. 

Are You Listening to What Your Body is Saying?

Whether you are a mechanic or not, we all know when there is something wrong with our cars. It may make a funny noise. It may drive differently. And if we still don’t pay attention to the signs, a light will eventually come on to alert us we need to take it into the shop. I thank God for my maintenance lights that come on when I need an oil change or my tire pressure is low.

Well, just as it is with our cars, our bodies are machines that are designed to do the exact same thing. If you have ever received a life altering diagnosis from your doctor there were signs along the way. You felt it or noticed it.

ladywithfingersinearMost people always know when something is wrong with them. They may not always attend to it – usually due to fear – but they usually know. They just choose to ignore the signs.

Our bodies are always talking to us. God designed them that way. It tells us when we need to go to the bathroom, when we need to rest, when we need to get up, when we’re thirsty, when we’re hungry. It ALWAYS tells us what we need to do.

By the same token our bodies will also tell us what we need to eat. Unfortunately, many people are too controlled by their cravings to notice. They’re so accustomed to responding to cravings, that they don’t really know what their body needs.

Here’s some good news – you don’t have to allow cravings to dictate your actions. In fact, cravings are really an indication that something is off. When your body craves a particular thing, its because it’s missing something. So when you crave salty potato chips or chocolate cake, that’s not really what your body wants. It’s telling you there is a deficiency of a key nutrient.

Here are Five Primary Causes of Cravings:

1. Water – lack of water of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.

2. Seasons – often the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season.  In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods and ice cream. In the fall, people crave grounding foods like squash, onions and nuts. During winter, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays. That’s when many people crave foods like turkey, eggnog and sweets.

3. Lack of nutrients – if the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine.

4. Hormonal – when women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings.

5. De-evolution – when things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens. We crave foods that throw us off, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves. This often happens from low blood sugar and may result in strong mood swings.

So, now that you’re aware of the reasons behind your cravings, do you think you can start listening to your body and responding to what it needs?

I’d love to hear your response. Please leave a comment on my blog.

5 Ways to Stay Focused & Reach Your Goals

As of late I’ve been really struggling to get up as early as I’d like to in the morning. Ideally, I’d like to get up at 5:30 so I can get in my prayer, meditation, workout and breakfast before work. When I get these things done before work I’m able to be more productive all day. I also have such a tremendous sense of accomplishment before 9AM.

If I’m being honest, I’m able to do this maybe once a week, sometimes two. On the other days I’m getting up at 6:00 or 6:30. That leaves me just enough time to spend a few minutes in prayer before I head to the gym for a quick workout or I workout after work. My meditation gets put off until later. I manage to get things done, but not in the ideal way I’d like.

So, this quote has really stuck with me lately.

ifitsimportant

When I read this quote it made me question my priorities. If these things are important to me, why am I not able to make them happen?

I remember a few years ago when I was living in Columbus I was on a quest to lose 20-25 pounds. I had to be at work at 8am. I wanted to get my workouts done in the morning. I’d get up at 4:30am to be at the gym by 5am. I was so committed. I remember going to bed every night by 8:30 so I could get the rest I needed to be up so early. I was literally in bed before the sun went down. As I began to lose weight, I became even more motivated. I started adding an evening run in the park a couple of times a week, so I could accelerate my weight loss. Needless to say, I hit my goal and lost about 23 pounds. I felt incredible.

As I reflect on that time, the greatest difference between then and now is I made it a priority. It was important to me. I wanted to feel good and get the weight off that was making me so unhappy. Whenever I wanted to slack off I thought about my end goal. In addition to my workouts I was on Weight Watchers. Knowing I had to weigh in every week was a motivator. I refused to be embarrassed by not making progress. The accountability helped me.

Sometimes we identify goals we have, but we quickly lose our motivation when it’s time to start the work. We all go through this from time to time. I’ve seen a shift in my attitude lately and I’m starting to get back on track. There are some strategies that are working for me and I want to share them with you. Here are “5 Ways to Stay Focused and Reach Your Goals”:

1. Determine your “why”.  What was the catalyst for change? Your health, your marriage, your family? You will need to remember these things when it gets tough.

2. Get some accountability. Is there someone you can enlist to help you? Do you need a workout buddy? Knowing someone is expecting you to show up makes it easier to follow through.

3. Celebrate small victories. Even when you make minor progress towards your goals its incentive to keep it up. When you lose 1-2 pounds of your 20 pound goal – celebrate that. Acknowledge how difficult it is to lose 1 pound in a week. That’s 3500 calories you had to burn. If it’s not weight loss, are you snacking less? Are you adding more veggies than you ever have before? These are all small victories. Don’t wait until you get to the end to celebrate.

4. Create structure and organization. Put the time you need to devote to this goal on your calendar and respect your appointment with yourself. In my case, I want to get up earlier so I can’t stay up until midnight. I need to commit to having a set time to get in bed early and stick to it.

5. Remember what’s in it for you. How will accomplishing your goal change your life? What will reaching this goal allow you to do? What’s at stake if you don’t accomplish your goal? The answer to these questions need to be at the forefront of your mind at all times. When you want to give up, they will remind you why you’re doing this in the first place.

Now, just do it. It will be a lot easier if you can remember these five tips. I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired to keep pushing through to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself. I’d love to hear about the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Here’s my question for you: Are you finding it hard to do the things you say you want to do? Which one of these tips will help you get back on track?

Lose Weight, Increase Your Energy – By Doing This Simple Thing!

breakfast3

Since I was a child I have always loved breakfast. My mom always prepared it for us. Even if we mostly ate cereal during the week, she always went all out every Sunday morning before church. That’s when she’d usually make us french toast and bacon or sausage. Yeah, I wasn’t always a vegan. I grew up in South GA, eating pork and meat was a requirement.

Anyway, as I got older she’d make me “coffee”. It was really a drop of coffee with a bunch of milk and sugar. It was special to me because she would serve it to me in the cutest little tea cups on a saucer. But my all time favorite treat was when we were low on groceries and my mom would make breakfast for dinner. For some reason, breakfast always tasted better at dinner time! That was the BEST! So, to this day, it’s the meal I always look forward to.

Having said that, I realize that not everybody feels the same way. I know people who can’t bare the thought of eating anything first thing in the morning. Of course, if you feel that way, it might be hard to get you to shift your mindset about it. Nevertheless, I’m going to try.

Turns out, there are many health benefits to eating breakfast. Here are my top five reasons:

1. Gets your metabolism going. The word breakfast itself explains why this is the case. In the morning you’re coming off a fasting state. Having breakfast, enables you to “break” the “fast.” Your body responds to not eating for hours and hours by slowing down it’s metabolic rate. By eating breakfast, you wake up your metabolism and get your engine revved up, burning those calories you need to burn to lose weight.  –

2. Increases energy  - eating breakfast replenishes your supply of glucose and provides other essential nutrients to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Glucose is the body’s energy source. It is broken down and absorbed from the carbohydrates you eat. In the morning, after you have gone without food for as long as 12 hours, your glycogen stores are low. Glycogen is the glucose that has been stored in your muscle tissue and liver where it is released slowly overnight to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Once all of the energy from the glycogen stores is used up, your body starts to break down fatty acids to produce the energy it needs.

3. Decreases snacking throughout the day. People who skip breakfast tend to nibble on snacks during the mid-morning or afternoon. This can be a problem if those snacks are low in fiber, vitamins and minerals, but high in fat and salt. Without the extra energy that breakfast can offer, some breakfast skippers feel lethargic and turn to high-energy food and drinks to get them through the day.

4. Reduces Weight – One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast can reduce hunger throughout the day, and help people make better food choices at other meals. Some rationalize that by skipping breakfast they are saving calories. Typically, any calories “saved” at breakfast get consumed later. Hunger gets the best of breakfast-skippers. They end up eating more at lunch and throughout the day.

5. Boosts brain function. The brain needs fuel to function at peak performance. This fuel comes in the form of glucose derived from food. It’s needed to walk, talk and perform all other activities. When you skip breakfast your brain is forced to work extra hard in breaking down stored carbohydrates or to turn fats and proteins into usable forms of glucose. Eating breakfast has been proven to improve concentration, increase problem solving capabilities, enhance overall mental performance and boost memory and mood.

So, if you routinely skip breakfast, I hope these compelling reasons will inspire you to make it a regular part of your day.

Question: Do you usually skip breakfast?

Reference Links:

http://www.guardianeatright.co.uk/news/article.cfm?article_id=1178

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Breakfast

 

Namaste Everyday

Whether its in my personal or professional life I’m someone who is very goal oriented. I seem to thrive on having a goal. It’s how I keep myself inspired to keep moving forward. If I don’t have something I’m working towards I tend to feel stagnant.

Typically, my goals are motivated by a desire to improve in a particular facet of my life. More often than not my desire comes from an internal place. That is certainly the case with my latest endeavor.

namaste

For the past two weeks I’ve been doing a yoga challenge. It evolved from a place of feeling disconnected. Ironically, this feeling emerged while I was training for my triathlon. I was getting a lot of physical activity and was motivated by that. But, I’m a firm believer that the mind, body, and spirit must be aligned for me to have a shot at real happiness. I was getting my physical body in shape. Unfortunately, my mind and spirit weren’t invited to the party.

Yoga is something I’m fascinated with because I firmly believe in all of its benefits. My issue is that I’m so inflexible I tend to shy away from it. I don’t like how uncomfortable I tend to feel while doing it, so I avoid it. When in actuality it’s the thing I need to be doing so I can improve my flexibility. It’s like the saying goes, real change happens outside your comfort zone.

As I’ve learned from my friend Ryan – a yoga instructor- yoga is a gentle practice. So, it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. You should go as far as you can in a yoga pose, as long as it feels good.  Ryan was featured in a past blog. Please check out the Namaste Everyday video to hear more of her views and to preview her class.

Here’s how my challenge works. I committed to do yoga every day for  at least 10 minutes for 21 days. Since I’ve gotten past week one, I’ve increased my duration. I’m also including daily meditation.

My intention for this challenge is to get to a place of peace by learning to be in the moment. For weeks I’ve been distracted with life and the things that have not been going the way I want them to go. I need to surrender a few things. I believe this challenge will help me do that. One of the things I have always enjoyed about yoga is it forces me to be in the moment. When you’re focusing on your poses/stretches you can’t think about anything else.

The other thing I want to transpire out of this challenge is to be able to incorporate more yoga into my life and workouts. I figure after 21 days of doing it everyday it will become a habit.

Here are a few benefits I’m already experiencing:

1. My flexibility is improving. Several areas of my body that are really tight are beginning to loosen up, especially my lower back.

2. I’m gaining a tremendous appreciation for my body. We require so much of our bodies every day. Yoga makes me appreciate all that it does and is capable of doing.

3. It’s helping me to stress less and let things go. I’m learning that things will always work out. I don’t have to try to control anything or anybody. In fact, at any given moment of my day I can start it again. If my day starts to go downhill, it doesn’t have to continue to do so. I can stop it and begin again.  I don’t quite get how this awesome practice can do that for me, but somehow it does.

As I’m approaching the final week of my challenge I want to go further spiritually. A friend recently shared a very personal spiritual experience she had while doing yoga. It made me envious. I would love to have a similar encounter. Regardless of whether or not I’m able to have what she had, I want to go deeper. This process has the potential to be life changing, so I don’t want to settle for less.

I’ve been asked by several people what kind of challenge I’m doing. I’ve sort of created my own by researching yoga instructors on YouTube. I choose a different session every day. However, when I initially started researching a 21-day challenge I found one that seems pretty simple. It’s through Yoga Journal. They have a plan for the beginner and intermediate levels. Once you subscribe on their website, they will send you an email every day with a link to a different practice.

I’ve shared with you my experience with yoga. Now, I’d love to hear about yours. Have you tried yoga? If so, how did it benefit you?

Kale Yeah I’m Vegan!

I have a new statement tank top I recently bought that I absolutely love. It says “Kale Yeah I’m Vegan.” I bought it because it’s cute and it makes a proud declaration that I’m vegan. I love being vegan. I don’t have to try to force it on others. It’s just a lifestyle that  works for me and I happen to love it.

kaleyeahtshirtpeta

Since I’ve bought the t-shirt I love the reaction I get from people when I wear it. It’s always a positive response. I enjoy that it’s a conversation starter too. I typically get unsolicited comments from people who tell me they’ve tried veganism in the past, but they couldn’t stick to it. Most make that admission in a way that they seem to judge themselves or feel bad that they weren’t able to sustain it.

Let me say, as proud as I am for being a vegan, I don’t judge those who are not. Nor do I judge those who wanted to do this, but didn’t find it worked for them. Honestly, it’s not for everybody. I believe that everybody can benefit from following a plant based diet. Yet I acknowledge that it’s not sustainable for every body.

Since I’ve encountered so many people who have tried vegan lifestyle, but didn’t continue, it got me to thinking. Why is it people find it unsustainable? I think there are several reasons for this.  Here are some of the most common:

1.  Too much too fast. It’s much easier to transition into this lifestyle. If you’ve been eating meat at every meal, you may not want to stop cold turkey. Try reducing the amount you consume over a week. Try cutting back to once a day, then go a full day without it, then as that gets manageable, add more days. Make it a gradual process.

2. Consuming too many carbs/lack of balance. When people try this lifestyle without preparation, they tend to eat a bunch of carbs because they aren’t aware of all the options out there. I fell into this trap too at first. Consuming a lot of rice, potatoes, beans, bread -it can leave you feeling bloated and ultimately lead to weight gain. Carbs are okay, but in moderation. Make sure you eat the right kinds of carbs. Complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes are excellent.

3. Lack of nutrients. Some people end up becoming “junketarians”; they tend to eat a lot of junk food. They don’t get the proper nutrients, so they are lethargic and drained of energy. If you’re eating more plants and a variety of vegetables you won’t feel so deprived. Also, incorporate healthy fats like avocados, nuts and seeds. These are healthy fats that leave you satiated, so you feel full longer.  

4. Too few food choices. Many people fall into the trap of eating the same things over and over. This results in boredom. There are so many options available to you. If you’re not creative, there are tons of resources online that offer fun, healthy, delicious meals. One of my favorite blogs to get recipes is The Simple Veganista. There are very few things non-vegans consume that we can’t get in a vegan variety. Everything from pasta to burgers, to breads and desserts. I dare say there are some foods in vegan form that if you try it, you won’t desire to go back to any other version.  

5. It’s not for everybody.  Some people will not do well on a vegan diet. There are a lot of factors that might impede certain people from thriving on this diet. If you find that you’re doing the things I’ve suggested in this blog and you’re still feeling bad or lethargic, then you should not continue. By all means, if you have severe health issues, you want to consult with your doctor before you make any drastic changes to your diet.

Just remember, there is no single path to health that will work for everybody. My primary desire is that you find the best path to health that works for you. Even if you don’t eliminate meat completely from your diet, everybody can benefit from incorporating more plant based foods into their meals.

If you want more information about how to successfully transition to a plant based diet, please check out my e-book on my website. It’s free to anyone who subscribes to my newsletter and email updates.

So, now I have a question for you. Have you tried to follow a vegan diet? If so, did it work for you? If not, what do you think went wrong? I’d love for you to post your comments on my blog. 

 

I Did It…Faced My Fear & Completed My First Triathlon!

After months of preparation and anticipation I finally completed my first ever sprint triathlon. As I write this blog a day has passed. Yet, I’m still too overwhelmed to express my feelings.  It’s hard to put my emotions into words. Nevertheless, I’m going to try.

coming out of pool

There is so much to be said about setting a goal and accomplishing it. There is even more to be said about facing your fears. I am so fond of telling people to just do it afraid. I’ve always believed in that approach, but I now realize that it is so incredibly hard to do. I’ve faced my fears before, but none like this!

Prior to getting in the pool yesterday I thought I was going to be okay. I wasn’t prepared to swim in six feet of water, and I was terrified of doing so. I’ve been practicing in very shallow water. As long as my feet can touch the ground I’m good. Once they leave the ground for an extended period of time I freak out! It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I even tried to swim in more than six feet of water. The reason I thought I’d be okay on race day was because the pool started at four feet and increased to six feet as you swim the length. My rationale was I wouldn’t be in the deep for very long. I assumed I’d be able to swim through it, and maybe even use it to my advantage.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Since I hadn’t mastered my ability to breathe, I couldn’t hold my breath long enough to make it from five feet to  six feet of water without stopping. When I realized that, panic ensued. I have never been so scared in my life. My body was trembling and my eyes watered up with tears. The lifeguard literally had to jump in the water to help me. In that moment I knew my race was over. I thought, “This is it. He is definitely going to escort you out the pool.”

I didn’t expect him and the EMTs to give me a choice. When they asked me what I wanted to do, I immediately responded that I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to finish. From that point it became their mission to help me do that by any means necessary. The lifeguard even volunteered to stay in the pool with me for the duration of my swim. He vowed to stay by my side to assure me that I would not drown. He was prepared to save me. That comforted me.

As I swam the remaining laps, I became a bit more calm with every stroke. Eventually, I was at the last lap. I did it! I conquered the swimming portion. The sense of accomplishment I felt at that moment fueled me to the end.

The bike ride felt like a breeze compared to the swim. I was able to be fully present several times during the bike ride. I remember this awesome breeze on my face as I rode down hill. It was INCREDIBLE! I felt so free. I was so aware and present in that moment.

ridingintotransition

The last mile of the bike ride was the hardest because of the slight incline, but I was determined not to stop. I felt so empowered. I pushed through with every fiber of my being. I knew the run was next and it would be the final leg.

Even though the run was only two miles, it wasn’t flat. It was mostly inclines. It felt like the longest two miles of my life. I could not have completed that course without stopping if I had only been out for a run that day. It was hard.

runningout

Honestly, the difficulty of it did not matter to me. I just reminded myself that this was a freaking triathlon and it wasn’t meant to be easy. I was doing something that a lot of people can’t do. So, the fact that I was finishing last was the least of my concerns. My only objective was to finish. That was always my goal. I wasn’t trying to place. I just wanted to do my best. So far, I had done that.

Here’s the irony. All I wanted to do was finish. I didn’t want or expect any hoopla. But that’s exactly what I got. When I tell you the roars of cheers and applause I received when I crossed that finish line, you would have sworn I finished first! I literally heard them screaming for me before I even turned the last corner. I’ve never seen or experienced anything like that in my life. I was slightly embarrassed as I crossed the finish line. Not because I was last, but because of all the attention they were giving me. It was so humbling to me. I felt like a million bucks. Everyone from my friends, to the EMTs, the police and the firefighters personally congratulated me and gave me a hug.

crossingfinish

This experience has truly taught me that it’s not about how you start your race or even how you run it, all that matters is that you finish.

Now that I’ve shared my journey with you, I’d love to hear an experience you’ve had with facing your fears and how it felt when you did it. Please leave a comment on my blog.

Am I In It To Win It? Not So Much…

At the beginning of this year I thought about the major goals I wanted to accomplish this year. I considered some fun desires I have and want to accomplish. But I primarily took inventory of the things I was avoiding because of fear. I wanted to look fear in the face and pursue those things.

finishstrong

What immediately came to mind was my long standing desire to participate in a triathlon. I’ve wanted to do this for years. It scared me for several reasons. Obviously, it’s physically challenging – you have to do three grueling sports back to back. You also need to be in fairly good shape to do it, and the biggest fear of all – my inability to swim. You can’t participate in a triathlon if you can’t swim.

So, I immediately researched upcoming triathlons in GA and I joined the Atlanta Triathlon Club. I wanted to be around people who know about this sport and who could teach me the basics. The next thing I wanted to do was identify a race that wasn’t too far into the year. I needed something that required me to start training right away. I found several beginner races in the summer.

Within two months of joining ATC, I began swimming lessons. This experience has been a real journey. I’ve had good days and bad days. There have been moments I showed up at the pool and it was an epic fail–practically left in tears because I felt so defeated. Other times it all seemed to come together without effort and I felt triumphant.

As the weeks have winded down the challenges are ever increasing. As I write this blog, I’m a week and a half away from my sprint triathlon. Honestly, it’s feeling like it’s not going to happen. Every day I ask myself “what have you gotten yourself into?” Though I have certain aspects of the swimming down, I still can’t breathe, which prevents me from being able to swim a full lap without stopping numerous times. For me, this is where the rubber meets the road because I’m past the point of no return. No matter how much I want to quit and wait for a later triathlon, I know that’s not an option.  It’s extremely important for me to walk the walk that I talk. I’m always encouraging others to face their fears and do it afraid. How can I not do this for myself. This process has forced me to face my fears daily. I was initially only worried about the swim, but since I’ve bought my bike a new fear has surfaced. I was afraid to get on it. I initially couldn’t even mount the bike; I couldn’t get my feet in the pedals. When I finally did I was afraid of falling, especially as I rode down hill. These new anxieties threw me into a panic. That voice in my head keeps trying to convince me that I can’t do this.

Just as I want to give into the negativity God sends an earth angel – one I recognize as a friend. My friends are always at the ready to remind me of how far I’ve come. They remind me that three short months ago I was afraid to even get in the water. Now I’m in the pool by myself almost every day.

Despite the fact that my mind keeps telling me I can’t do it, my actions are demonstrating that I can. I AM doing it. I may not do it like I envisioned it, but I’m doing it.

I’m going to keep pushing forward. I’ve made up in my mind that I will do this no matter what. My preference is to finish with dignity. I don’t want to have to keep stopping multiple times to finish my 6 laps. I also don’t want to walk my bike up any hills I might encounter. Because of that, I am going to continue to train and practice every day until race day. I’m determined to do this by any means necessary. All I want to do is finish. I’m not in this to win it, I’m in it to finish!

Now, I have a question for you. Have you confronted any fears this year? If so, please share those with me here on my blog.

Build Muscle on a Vegan Diet – Vegan Athlete Explains How

If you ask any vegan the most common question they get – they will undoubtedly tell you it’s: “Where do you get your protein?” The short answer is we get it from veggies, beans, nuts and seeds.

Well, for the past few months I’ve been training to participate in my first ever triathlon and one of my goals is to build more muscle. I recently started working with a trainer, and I’m up against this same thing – the protein issue.

Typical non-vegan trainers tend to believe we can’t build muscle without animal or soy protein. Of course, I don’t believe in consuming a lot of soy products because research indicates that it increases estrogen levels, and consequently increases the chances of getting cancer.

So, this week I’m thrilled to introduce you to a vegan fitness professional I recently met. She is a personal trainer and owns her own fitness studio.

Cynthia Florence is the owner of Pure Energy Fitness Studio in Marietta,  Ga.

Check out this video to find out more about how she builds and sustains her muscles by following a plant based diet.

Cynthia Florence

After viewing the video please leave a comment. Do you believe it’s possible to build muscle on a vegan diet? I would love to hear your thoughts.