21 Day Challenge – Day 1 – Just Weight

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A little over 8 years ago I embarked on this holistic health odyssey. I wanted to make food my friend, understand it and use it properly. I became a Certified Holistic Health Coach. I gave advice to others as I continued to play with strategies for myself. Everything I did worked. My energy was high, my weight was low (enough) and I felt great!

Then somehow all those things I’d let go of crept back in; foods, habits, stop me if you’ve heard this one.

As I continued to see clients as a health coach and then as a yoga instructor I felt like a complete charlatan. I was a fraud. Am. Oh, I still give great advice. It’s intuitive, tailored to the person in front of me seeking my knowlege and always done with love. I can see exactly what they need to do or not do, add or subtract.

Why can’t I do that for myself? Why do I not take my own gilded advice? Why is it so easy to keep promises we don’t even want to make to other people, but even easier to break the promises we felt so strongly about when we made them, to ourselves?

This past week I attended a five-day yoga retreat. We ate vegetarian food, mostly organic, did yoga daily and yoga nidra twice a day. I was feeling lighter physically and energetically and then…

On the way home a friend and I stopped at Five Guys. I ingested a WHOLE double hamburger. With. The. Bun. A shared “little” fries and a healthy helping of sweetea. Then later I waddled across the street to a friend’s barbeque where I drank more than my share of wine, ate potato chips with dip, then a baked potato – you know with toppings, of course – and more wine.

Disclaimer: I am a full quarter Irish and that 25% would like potatoes 100% of the time please.

I have no such ancestry to explain the wine.

Anyway.

I had an appointment with a trainer today to get weighed and measured like a 4H heifer. But it was good – not the numbers, but the experience and now the knowledge.

I worked out. I tried to explain to the 20 something ex-Air Force soldier that I was not in a hurry. I want to be pushed, yes, but not immobilized. I want to have goals but none of them include a bikini. I also retained my right to say no and stop when I felt my body was physically defeated. But I only pulled that card once, I wanted to push a little. I need to push.

After the workout with weights I did 30 minutes on the treadmill.  And I felt great.

Tomorrow is yoga.

For me, it’s about closing the gap on that feeling of incongruence between the wise health coach and yoga teacher inside and the squishy, tired woman on the outside.

It’s time to walk the talk. One step at a time.

 

21 Day Challenge – Taking it to the Body

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It’s Challenge Time again! If you’ve been playing along, you’ll remember we added the good stuff in on our first challenge. Then we fell in love with our own bodies – right? – on the second challenge. Now it’s time to work with that beautiful beast known as the human form. This is more about uncovering your best, most healthy vehicle. Not about bikini season, that wedding or high school reunion. It’s not about a number on the scale or on a tag.

Think energy. Dr. John Douillard (you’ll hear more about him later) says we should have the same amount of energy all day long. When we get up, in the afternoon, when it’s time for bed. Is that happening for you?

Think radiance. Think joy. Think nourishment. This is not punishment, on the contrary it is the best gift you could give to yourself.

This could be about weight loss or weight gain. Maybe it’s about sleeping well or eating better. All valid goals, but it is also about longevity and sustainability so move into it at a pace that works for you.

At its core, this challenge is about using the body as a gateway to YOU. It is the act of sloughing off and peeling away the dust and detritus of daily living and stress so that the inner light that is YOU can shine through.

So, are you ready?

I will chronicle what I am doing daily and offer potential challenges for you. I am not looking for fellow travelers on this well-worn path. I am looking for your insights about you as you navigate food labels, personal trainers, yoga instructors and the ever present well-meaning friend. I am holding you up. I know you’ve got this. I know that even if you are at your peak, there is something you can change. Maybe the challenge for you is doing less physical activity.

The first week will be dedicated to movement. You know, exercise. It is your task to bring movement into your life everyday. Over and above walking from your car to your office or around the grocery store. Go to the gym, do yoga, swim, dance, ride a bike. If you’re already pretty active this week should be a breeze. If not, get out there and go for a walk. Your body will thank you.

I look forward to seeing you along the way these next 21 days.

Soft Reboot

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I have been home from India for nearly a month now. It’s time I come back. The process becomes slower and slower with each trip. I leave a little more of myself behind so I can carry more of India home with me. The integration is only painful when I have to suddenly be somewhere incongruous with this process – a conference call, listening to someone gossip or accidentally catching a newsbite.

In the almost four weeks since my return I have been writing a lot. And loving it. I have been going through my photos of India and taking new photos of undiscovered (by me) places near my home. Frustrated with my lack of perfection on this one. And generally just ‘being.’

I have been working, yes, but not with the urgency I had before the cleansing of my spirit. There is so much to do that I WANT to do, but those memory-rich corners of my mind have not allowed the organizational part of my brain access to the data necessary to be effective. We must come to a compromise.

It is blending the work, here and now, with the enchantment of the India experience. It’s called presence and I just need to remember that.

Time for a soft reboot. I will make lists. I’m good at lists – it’s the doing of the stuff on them that sometimes eludes me. Here’s my first: My list of the lists I need to make.

1. Make a list of tasks that need my semi-immediate attention (taxes, newsletter for work, blog page for the Sacred India tour group, etc.)

2. Make a list of business and personal goals (really these are all personal, just some relate to the businesses I personally own)

3. Take a look at current food and lifestyle choices – adjust accordingly (same old, same old – cleanse, eat clean, move more)

4. Prioritize the items within each list then take a walk to let it all settle into my cells. Take my camera – just in case.

Just making this list makes me a little sad, but if I want to go back to India, grow as a human, I have to learn to integrate it all. I have eased back into this American life as slowly as I could. I will hold in my heart the images of Indians napping in their rickshaws in the middle of the day, the visits to temples any time for a quick spiritual refresher and the overall feeling of being held by a force so omnipresent and so unconditionally loving that I must infuse my everyday life with its essence.

I will continue to be present in everything I DO so that I may simultaneously BE.

PHOTO: In Rishikesh, up near the Himalayas, the Ganges is pristine and beautiful. Here I am near a cave that many have come to meditate in, including Swami Satchidananda. This is the Ganga Ma – the mother Ganges – just outside the cave.  I have blogged about my entire trip – From London for three days to India for 18 at http://www.allisonswanderland.com.

 

 

21 Day Challenge – Day 21 – Enchantment

Wish web IMG_2159The 21 Day Challenge I laid at my feet three weeks ago has been met. I have been able to check each item off my list without a lot of trouble.

I have learned that when there is an intention to align with instead of a goal to be met, the force behind it creates openings for just the right circumstances to manifest keep me on my path.

Goals are often set out of exasperation, especially personal goals. They are bringing to light a shortcoming and putting it on a pedestal for all to see, so when we fail to meet that goal again the village can have a good laugh at our expense or just shake their heads collectively with, ‘here we go again.’

When goals are used as stepping stones to achieve something great they often work for a while, especially if that something great is aligned with our soul’s purpose. If we are failing to meet the same goal over and over again, it is not aligned, therefore it is a distraction from the real work of the spirit. It’s time to let it go and look beyond that particular goal.

I have goals. I have a pretty big one right now that I’m working on. It feels completely congruent with my intention; they support each other.

As I move forward from these 21 days I plan to continue the habits I have set.

1. Yoga Daily. This was more difficult than I thought, especially if I planned to do it at home. If you recall I had mentioned it is much easier for me to meet the expectations of others than to rise to my own tasks. Going to class helped a lot. It was actually easier to get myself out of my house, drive to the studio and take a class than wander to my back porch unroll my mat and do sun salutations. I’ll continue to work on a home practice, but for now I know what will work.

2. Yoga Nidra twice a day. This proved to be excessive. Once a day fit perfectly. I established doing yoga nidra at the mid-afternoon dip, to be the most beneficial and I’ll continue with that.

3. Gym twice a week. This is one that surprised me. I had no trouble going twice a week – one week I went only once, but took a very long walk outside. I am planning on attempting 5 days a week with this one. I feel energized and bright when I leave the gym.

4. Write 2 hours a day every day – even Saturday and Sunday. Overall this goal was easily met. Many days I wrote much more than 2 hours. There were times when I bored myself with my own voice and struggled with subject matter, but working through the process helped and I was able to check that task off feeling accomplished.

5. Fresh photos daily. Harder than I expected as much as I love to take pictures. It became a necessity. I would find myself locked into my computer or overcome with my sense of busyness and remember I hadn’t taken pictures. Just walking away from whatever task I was engaged in and going outside with my camera created a beautiful sense of presence. This I will continue.

6. No alcohol. Surprisingly easy. There were only two social occasions in which I would have normally partaken but didn’t. Bowling and a swanky little party. Both times I had water and no one scoffed or even noticed. And I didn’t miss it. I will drink wine again, but it will be much more deliberate – a single glass at a special dinner or party. It just isn’t worth the sluggish, cobwebby feeling in the morning.

So overall I’d call my little experiment a success. But the biggest gift in all of this was the Facebook Group that grew from that very first blog. A tremendous group of women who didn’t necessarily know one  another – I was the common denominator – came together in total unconditional support of each other. In three weeks that group has grown to include friends and relatives of my friends who I do not know and the power of the group has only expanded.

What started out as a seemingly selfish task has turned into a movement of upliftment and love. It is about no one and everyone at the same time. Women are able to share their darkest feelings and proudest accomplishments without fear of judgment. It all happened organically.

The only word I can come up with to describe this group is Enchanted.

My challenge was to change habit patterns that I felt were holding me back from the true expression of my soul’s purpose so that I could live a more enchanted life. What was created was a whole community of Enchantment.

I don’t know how it happened. I don’t care. The Universe has a way of rising up to meet us when we’re ready and many of us were ready. I didn’t do this. You didn’t do this. This could have only happened because we were all aligned on some level and knew we were to work together.

I learned that living an enchanted life had nothing to do with being the perfect size, in the perfect house or relationship or at the perfect job. It has to do with giving to others, being grateful, taking time to notice a bee on a flower. It has to do with presence. Showing up authentic and present for my own life.

It’s the last day of the challenge, but the beginning of a lifetime and lifestyle of enchantment as I, along with those in the group and elsewhere, continue to remind each other of our own magic and bigness.

The blogs will not end, it seems to be in my nature. I will continue to look for the magic in everything every day and share it. I encourage you to do the same.

[Photo: A little wish caught in a web.]

 

21 Day Challenge – Day 2

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As Day 2 of the challenge comes to a close I am once again filled with gratitude for this community that is building to support an Enchanted way of living.

I awoke with a sense that magic was in the air once again. There is something very powerful about declaring intentions without any goal in mind other than lighting your own fire.

Intentions differ from goals. Goals are quantifiable, they have an end point. Intentions are a way, a how to be in life. There is only one intention, there can be many goals.

Here’s the thing, if I set a goal to lose 20 pounds, what happens when I lose those 20 pounds? What’s my incentive to keep the weight off? Health, new clothes, there are many perfectly good reasons to keep that weight off.

But let’s go a little deeper. Why do I want to be healthy? What is the point of being 20 pounds lighter and healthy?

Stay with me.

What if, instead I had an intention to become more alive in my everyday life? Perhaps that would be enhanced by losing 20 pounds. Being lighter could absolutely help me become more alive. But so could journaling, traveling the world, doing something everyday that scares me just a little. So it becomes less about the goal of losing 20 pounds and more about what supports my intention to become more alive.

There is forgiveness for not losing weight or meeting a goal, as well as room to make decisions that may be more aligned with my journey. What if I was invited to a dessert tasting party at the top of the Empire State Building? Would I pass because I couldn’t risk my diet? Or go, because when will I ever get that opportunity again? I’ll let you figure that one out!

In the long run I want to be healthy and lighter to live this enchanted life fully. In the short term I can find magic in the everyday and begin to raise my vibration and feel my intention. It’s the process, the journey that is magical. I don’t want to miss it.

So this challenge is about setting that steadfast inltention, creating the north star that will guide my every decision.  It is stating “THIS is how I want to live,” then creating the steps to get there. It is becoming aligned with the true Self.

[Today’s photo: As I was driving to a private yoga lesson this morning I spotted an amazing photo op, but I couldn’t take it because it would have made me late. I assumed there must be a better photo waiting for me. As I pulled onto the dirt road to my client’s house I spied this beauty perched down a driveway. We’ve met before. As luck would have it, a car was coming the opposite direction so I turned down the driveway to allow it to pass and snapped off a couple shots of my old friend.]