Finding Ways to Love Yourself

hearmindValentine’s Day is a time of year when we show our love and gratitude to the special people in our lives. We shower our loved ones with shows of affection, not only on this holiday, but also in our daily lives year round. We all want to make others feel loved and admired, but what about ourselves? In order to serve those around us in the most meaningful way, self-love is essential.

Many people that consciously embark on a self-love journey are inspired to do so by someone else in their life. Love for yourself lives not only in our minds, but also in every cell of our bodies. Nurturing yourself, mind and body, has been undeniably linked with a longer, healthier, and happier life.

One of the primary ways to cultivate self-love is through exercise. Of course exercise makes you feel good for the superficial reasons – when you look good, you feel good – but there’s so much more to it than that. We’ve all heard it; exercise releases endorphins. These are beautiful little chemicals that your brain pumps out to make you feel good. Improved self-esteem is a well-know benefit of regular physical activity. Exercising, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. So, even on those low energy days, just show up. If you can just show up to that class or the gym, the second you start moving, your brain will start to reward you. And that in turn will make you want to replicate the feeling. And when you are truly happy, high on life, your amazing mood will positively affect others.

Meditation is another way to really check in with yourself and nurture your mental and emotional health. Many extremely successful people have shared that meditation has absolutely been a key part of their success. Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Sting – these people have testified to the value of daily meditation and even admit that some of their best ideas came to them during this time of introspection. It’s like a daily cleaning for your mind.

In the age of social media, we are constantly being bombarded by everyone else’s thoughts and opinions. Meditation allows us to hear ourselves, and only ourselves, and the insight and wisdom that can come from just paying attention in the moment will surprise you. Even if you feel like you have no idea how to start, you can find a plethora of free, guided, meditation videos online. Just pick one and see what happens. Meditation is like any other type of exercise – just focused on your brain. It does require practice and patience. You don’t expect the rest of your body to change overnight, so don’t expect your brain to learn to meditate perfectly either. But if you stick with it, the rewards can be very satisfying.

So just remember, when you’re sending out love and gratitude to the people in your life, add yourself to that list. Sometimes being the best version of ourselves is the best gift we can give to others.

-by Savannah Swafford, METFitness Coordinator

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Here’s to a Healthier New You!

 

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2017 is upon us, and that means another round of New Year’s resolutions. According to Nielsen data, 69% of Americans made a health or fitness related resolution in 2015. The problem is that 80% of those people had given up on those healthy resolutions by the second week of February. So the question is, what can we all do to stay motivated? How can we keep up our will power to make healthy lifestyle changes when there are temptations and obstacles all around?

It may sound cheesy, but positive thinking is a very powerful thing. Because health and fitness have to do with our bodies, it’s a common problem that we focus only on the body. But our body can only do what our MIND tells it to do. For many people there comes a time in their fitness program when things get harder, and then come the two words that can stall any new venture – “I can’t.” These moments are very real, but you are so much stronger than that little negative voice in your head. Try to turn negative thoughts into positive affirmations. Instead of saying “I can’t do that” try saying “I’m going to learn how to do that.” I’m sure there are already many ways in which you choose to stay positive without even realizing it; like holding out hope that a parking space will open up close to the front door, or that you’ll get those concert tickets at a better price. Those are positive thoughts, and you’re thinking them because you really want that parking spot or those concert tickets. I personally love to start my day by listing 3 things I’m grateful for in the morning when I make coffee, just to get the positivity flowing. I also like to write myself notes like “be kind to yourself” or “you got this!” and stick them in random pockets in bags and jackets for me to find later. You’d be surprised how often those notes turn up RIGHT when they’re needed most.

The other thing absolutely necessary to accomplish your 2017 fitness goals? Patience. In a world full of instant gratification, the first thing we should all do is become VERY comfortable with the fact that our bodies will not change overnight. One of my favorite fitness sayings is “in 2 weeks you’ll feel it, in 4 weeks you’ll see it, and in 8 weeks everyone else will start to see it.” The understanding that quality and real change take time is the little voice you should have in your head, and that voice will also help keep the negativity at bay. Having patience for your changing body is a form of positivity, basically reminding you to be nice to yourself.  So if you really want to stick to your 2017 resolution, be positive and tell yourself that you WILL reach your goals, with healthy habits and exercise that works best for you. Because we are all unique, make the choices that work for your body and mind to achieve your goal – a healthier you.

So now, here’s your first little bit of pre 2017 motivation – YOU CAN DO IT!!! You are everything you need to lead a healthy lifestyle, and you deserve it. Happy New Year everybody! Make 2017 a good one!

-by Savannah Swafford, METFitness Coordinator

Happy Holidays!

The holidays are here and between Thanksgiving and Christmas we are all celebrating and eating and drinking perhaps a little more than we should.

It is hard to stay focused on maintaining our healthy eating habits when treats are all around us. Or friends and family members are all urging us to let go and celebrate. And we should but we can celebrate the season without letting go of our goals for ourselves.

One of the ways we can do this is by continuing to stay with our healthy eating habits as much as possible. If we take a day to eat more sweets than usual, we should not give up, but start every day with a positive approach to eat healthy again. Drinking is also part of our celebratory approach to the holidays but again, best not to overdo and regret it the next day.

One way to remind us to stay healthy and help make us mindful of our daily choices is to continue our daily patterns of exercising. Walking or running, cycling, taking a Zumba class, or working out at a gym are all ways that we remind ourselves to take care of our bodies. This healthy pattern, continuing throughout the holiday season, can keep us more aware of our daily choices for nutrition as well as exercise.

So let us celebrate and join in the holiday spirit but keep our eyes also on our personal goals to live a healthy and happy lifestyle.

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Yoga Journal Live! – More than a conference.

 

 

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Yoga Journal Live! at Estes Park, CO

Whether it is to gain more experience and knowledge, personal or professional growth, explore new ideas or programs that are available, or to simply get away from the norm with some other intentions in mind, there are plenty of reasons to attend a conference or convention.

If you are able to go to a conference close to home and still have the opportunity to stay on site for a day or two, it is definitely something to try once in a while. Immersing yourself in the learning environment 100% can help you connect with other participants, allow time for personal reflection and help you stay committed to your sessions, truly getting the most out of the conference as a whole.If you are close enough to commute, it’s a great idea to save money. But keep in mind you may be less inclined to attend the whole conference towards the end if it is a far drive.

I recently attended Yoga Journal Live in Estes Park, a fun conference to attend. Some of the sessions available to attendees were created with nature in mind to compliment our surroundings on site, with outdoors hikes, outdoor meditation and walks with nature. Yoga Journal definitely chooses their conference locations and activities with Yogis in mind so that participants can take advantage of all the areas have to offer.

The next Yoga Journal conference, right here in South Florida, will have sessions like Stand Up Paddle Yoga and Beach Yoga to benefit from some of the beautiful surroundings Hollywood, Florida offers! The conference also goes above and beyond to offer extra events to get attendees involved. With a concert, film debut and more going on all throughout the weekend in Estes Park – there is no time to waste while I was there!

The Estes Park, CO conference I attended was very well-organized. Highlighting the conference was a group of very different and unique instructors and speakers.                         I came to learn more about Yoga and the speakers provided insights applicable to both Yoga students and teachers. This information helped all of us to benefit our personal practice and look at it in a new light. We were introduced to a variety of methods, allowing Yogis to choose the path for their teaching and practice that most authentically resounds with them. I came away from the conference refreshed and enthusiastic about my teaching skills and my personal practice. I am looking forward to the Florida Yoga Journal Live event November 11-14th!

 

Smarter through exercise?

There have been many studies over the years about the benefits of exercise on the body. However, lately there has also been numerous studies about exercise and the brain. This is a relatively new area of research and some studies have reported that people who dance, or walk or run, or even garden, have a lower risk of developing mental health problems like dementia.

Additionally, exercise combined with meditations appears to have the greatest benefit according to a recent New York Times article called, “Yoga may be good for the brain.”

Basically the study examined those who practiced yoga as compared to people who used only traditional exercise programs. After 12 weeks, all the participants performed better on thinking tests but the Yoga group also showed improvement in their moods as well. The Yoga group also improved more in areas like balance, focus, and the ability to multitask.

Any regular exercise program that keeps us moving will benefit our health. But Yoga may have an added bonus in helping us to feel, as well as function better, as we grow older.

Stand Up!

You work out regularly. Keeping fit is important to you. You try to eat healthy meals and snacks. You probably think you are doing everything right as you sit down and relax to watch an evening of television or camp out with your computer game for the night. Stop!

As reported in recent journal and magazine articles, more than half of the average person’s waking hours are spent sitting: watching television, working at a computer, commuting, or doing other physically inactive pursuits. That sedentary life style is difficult to balance even with the 30-60 minutes of exercise you do most days.

Various studies show that people who sat for prolonged periods of time had a higher risk of dying from all causes — even those who exercised regularly.

So what can we do? Breaks from sitting as often as possible –even breaks of one minute can improve your health. Exercise is great, but balance your day with activity breaks between sitting times. Time to stand up for yourself.

It’s actually better for your health.9czxobpBi

Renewal

As summer comes to an end, it is time for new beginnings. Students are off to another school year. But education is not just for children. To keep on top of our game, all of us need to keep learning and growing in our respective career paths.

One of the ways we learn as adults is by taking classes and attending conventions in our industry. Luckily for those of us living in the Orlando area, there are lots of conventions that take place here focusing on fitness. Recently there was a Zumba Convention in Orlando with thousands of people excited and happy to connect with others in their quest for fitness. Picture large meeting halls with hundreds of energetic people dancing and sharing their passion for exercise. The excitement was contagious with many master instructors leading classes and workshops on helping people improve their skills.

Many of our instructors attended this convention and came away jazzed by their experience. They have learned new routines and are now bringing this excitement to all of our clients. They are renewed in their sense of being an integral part of the fitness industry and proud of their roles in helping people to grow strong and fit.

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