SPEAK

FIFTH CHAKRA: Vishuddha, the Throat Chakra. The right to speak.

Controls: Thyroid gland.

Archetypes: Positive- The Communicator, Negative- The Silent Child.

Color: Turquoise, as a combination of the fourth chakra (heart, green) and the sixth chakra, (brow, blue).

Qualities: will, communication, creativity, truthfulness, integrity.

Life issues: to harness your will, express your highest truth, to live creatively.

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THE SOUND OF SILENCE

I want to talk to you about this time I felt stuck. Really stuck. Really down. Really not myself.

Depressed. I would actually classify this thing that happened, that I’m coming out of, as depressed. And that is scary as fuck.

I have lots of reasons why it might have happened. Significant health issues, insomnia, injuries and work limiting access my practice, financial hell, not teaching anymore, not sharing yoga the way I love to share it. The things that I identify myself with, the things that help make me, be me, were not secure.

And even though I am wrapped in love. And even though I have so many things to be grateful for, and even though I am never, ever, ever standing anywhere, at anytime, alone, I felt removed. Not having all my things in place all ultimately resulted in me not showing up powerfully for myself, or for anyone else.

Outside of the things that I do — who am I?

I spent three years in inquiry, three years exploring, three years doing the work and building heat by throwing every available stick in the fire, and then suddenly, I just sat down and stared at the flames. What did I build? Why did I build it? Who is it for? How do I keep it going?

What the fuck do I do now?

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SIDEWAYS

Don’t wait.  Change now. Get out of your comfort zone. Wake up and move differently. Create awareness. Be mindful. Live fully. Seize the moment. Grow. Get up and go for it. New Year, New You. . .

Yep, it’s still January alright, and as the nearest cardio room would indicate, we, as a general community, are spending this month rededicating ourselves to, well, ourselves.

It’s awesome. I love seeing the yoga studio packed with students doing 30 day challenges. I think it’s fantastic that gym memberships are spiking and I totally support my friends doing a no-sugar January.

People are trying to find a new normal, create new habits, build better selves.

For now, that’s happening. But what about come February? Super Bowl Sunday? Dia de Godiva chocolate and red wine? A long weekend snuggled up near the Baileys fire in a cabin in the snow?

What happens when life challenges our intentions?

We compromise, negotiate, and usually, we fall right off the (delusional) train we rode in on. We get knocked down, not becuase it’s too hard, but because we stepped so far out to the right that we simply could not maintain balance any longer.

That’s good, it’s how we learn. The problem is, not all of us get back up on that. . . treadmill. Sometimes we just stay off out of fear of further injury.

How to avoid that classic pitfall? Set yourself up for success. Reset your equillibrium. Learn how to find a happy, and sustainable, medium.

balancing act: a how to

1. Where you at fool?

Take a quick look at your current reality. Pull your head out (of the sand silly. . .). What’s going down in your world, right now? How do you feel about that?

2. Get grounded: What do you want? When do you want it? 

What do you know to be real, and true and good about yourself and your world? Consider: a) where you are, b) where you’d like to be, and c) what’s standing in the space in between those two places.

3. Gather Your Resources and Prepare to Engage.

What’s your ETA? What props would you like to to use to arrive in a timely fashion? What do you already have on hand to help you get there? What could you rid yourself of? What would be helpful for you to do, go or get? Pick up the phone, open up your browser, hit send on an e-mail and ask for it.

4. Sound the Battle Cry and Move Your Ass.

Take positive action, now. You will never make progress without action. Do something, anything, that propels you even one centimeter closer to your destination. If you are not willing to risk falling, then you are not ready to grow. Do it. Do it now.

5. Now Flow.

Move gracefully and with care. Don’t be the bull in the china shop, be a fucking ninja. Breathe. Do one thing  at a time. Notice your surroundings.  Be present, but keep moving. Two steps forward, one step back. Cha, cha, cha-cha-cha.

6. Check for Understanding (and Authenticity).

At the end of your day, and before you say “yes” to anything else, check in with yourself. Do your actions match your intentions? Does the opportunity come with wings, or a chain? Are you holding too much, or not enough?

7. Pat Yourself (And a Friend) On the Back.

Prefer knuckles instead? Selfie high five perhaps? Namaste? Go for it. Positive thoughts and intentions generate positive results. Acknowledge what you have done, the progress you have made, the problems you solved, the new space you’ve created. Focus on growth to expand. See good to create great. Give validation to receive love.

8. Just Keep Swimming.

You’ll get there Dory, if you just keep pushing on. Ride the current every now and then as it assists you, but stay out dark caves and stop following bright shiny lights. Focused movement, regardless of the pace.

9. Keep It Tight and Light.

Three things help you hold balancing poses— driste (your gaze), a tight core, and a strong foundation. Um, guess what? Same thing applies here. Keep looking ahead, hold true to who you are, and build up your support. We cannot balance for long on just our big toes; if you fall, and you will, shake it off, feel your feet planted firmly on the ground, press down to lift up, and then rise tall again.

 

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FRIDAY

Okay people. We are almost there. Final push. Four more days of 2014 remaining.

You’ve made it through several rounds of dysfunctional family fun, successfully lived to see another December 26th begin and end, and probably (just guessing) already made and broke several promises to detox, eat clean, and go for a run tomorrow.

Congrats. You’re almost to the big day. The magic eraser for life. A do-over. Resolution time.

All of that guilt is about to be removed from your back, neck, shoulders and ummmmmm, gut.

Right? Because for sure, you are going to wake up on Friday and everything will be different because it’s 2015 and now you MEAN BUSINESS.

Thursday? Thursday you had some intentions. Thursday you bought a Groupon for a month of CrossFit, a ten class pass to hot yoga, four hours with personal trainer, and a week of detox juices, then toasted yourself for this bit of genius with few glasses of bubbly.

But Friday? Friday you’re ready. Game.On.

Right after you peel yourself from the couch, that is.

Yeah. Gotcha there, don’t I?

Because there’s always tomorrow. You can do it later. Not now. Next time. You will totally get up on that in a little bit.

Sure you will.

Here’s the thing. January 1st is rather arbitrary date, all things considered.

While New Years serves as a reminder for us to get our shit together, to forgive ourselves for what we haven’t done, accomplished, been, seen, or loved, and to “do better” this year, it’s really just another day.

Because, friends, every day is a chance to start over. Hell, every second is chance to start over. The next chapter of your life starts right now. And then again with your next breath.

And then again after that.

When will your life begin to really shift? When will the dreams you have for yourself begin to take tangible form? When will it finally be Friday?

The answer, the one you know is coming, is that it’s whenever the hell you say it is.

When you are ready to take ownership of your reality. When you commit making something new. When you take the first step. When you say yes to what is possible and no to excuses.

When you stop being afraid of your own potential.

You have the opportunity to create a new life for yourself all day, every day.  You know exactly who is standing in your way.

Move over.

So, go ahead and do your thing the next four days if you’d like. Stay exactly where you are. Keep saying no. Insist you’re not ready for anything better, yet.

You want to eat and drink more in a week than you did the entire month of November? Go for it. You know what will happen. You know if it is or isn’t good for you (99.99% chance it’s the latter). You know what serves you, literally, and what doesn’t.

If you do overindulge, don’t complain about it — own that shit. Do it and love it, or don’t and be content with that decision. Your call. Your future. Just, no whining please.

You chose this reality; you are a participant, not a recipient.

When you’re ready to roll, when you’ve finally decided that you’re ready to stop waiting for Friday, then, well, then let’s talk.

For now, today, right now, I’ll leave you with a suggestion. A hint—

If you want something, the first step is figuring out exactly what the fuck it is.

Get clear, very clear, about what you really want.  Good stuff happens after that, I promise.

Ready? Just say when.

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SOMETIMES I LISTEN

So, I’ve been going along here, full speed ahead. 13-15 hour work days almost seven days a week. Getting my shit done. Saying “yes” to everything. Saying “no” to very, very, very little.

It’s been awesome. Amazing. Fan.Fucking.Tastic.

Things like this have happened:

  1. My yoga classes are growing, some even doubling in size.
  2. My writing is growing, I have more assignments and clients.
  3. My business plan is progressing and my website is getting updated to reflect it.
  4. I have two evenings a week to myself now, every week, to handle my shit sans kids and I make sure to use every.single.minute of that time. No seriously, if I’m not working up until midnight those nights it’s a fucking miracle.
  5. I almost fell asleep on top of the table at a training on Tuesday

Did you see number five there?

Yeah, about that. . .

There is a yoga axiom “exercise and rest are essential for human health.” Guess which part I choose to follow?

Here’s a hint. It starts and ends with the same letter. . .

So. . . rest. It’s just not my thing.

Even when it maybe, um, should be.

You know that whole Reticular Activation System deal I’ve talked about before, where basically, once you become aware of something the more often you see it, when you never did before? The more often you notice it, everywhere, all the time?

Guess what keeps showing up in my life this week?

Articles about resting. Astrology reports about the new moon and Mercury being in retrograde or some shit and how savasana is actually the best pose to take right now, and not, in fact, balancing half-moon.

And then there’s all those research reports showing the importance of quality sleep. Friends who whisper shout things at me during yoga like “MICHELLE! YOUR RIBS. REMEMBER YOUR RIBS AND JUST LIE DOWN ALREADY!”

Ummmmmm. Thanks but no thanks?

But today I listened.

Today I reconsidered what I was saying “yes” to as I drove (way over the speed limit) to work, running late (again) to a job site thirty miles away. My mind, though, was going even faster than the wheels of my mamamobile, if you can believe that. I wasn’t present. My shoulders were hunching. I was kind of sort of, well, here, actually.

And then I spilled an entire cup of hot coffee all over me, and the car. Then I remembered that the person who picks up the kids on Fridays while I’m teaching is out of town. Then my friend texted me, asking where the keys were that I was supposed to have dropped off that morning. Then two e-mails popped up asking when the Press Releases I’d promised to get out asap would be ready. Oh, and just to throw salt in the wound, my calendar alert setting let me know that I was late for the TB test reading for the TB test I was supposed to have done Wednesday (but didn’t).

I looked down at my wet, coffee covered skirt, wiped the creamy brown streaks off my calves, pulled off the freeway and turned my ass around.

Fuck it.

I hear you universe.

That work+Me+Today=Not happening.

Namaste? Nope. Namago (nah-mah-go), actually.

There’s a reason I have personal days available.

Today, I need a day to check in with my person, apparently, because otherwise she’s going to show up to teach, a literal hot mess and smelling like eau’de café for the next four hours while she pretends that she is fully aware and present in lesson delivery and that the ujjayi breathing she’s doing to keep her shit together isn’t actually freaking out the children.

Yes, universe. Yes. I will go home. I will rest. No really. I will.

Actually, I’m going to take a nap now. Yep. A nap. Me. In the middle of the day. Such a rule breaker.

I’m taking twenty. And then I’ll get (the rest of) that work done. After I care for me. Not before. After.

I’m saying “yes” to rest today. Real rest. No exercise. Rest.

Peace out friends. May you find a place to take pause today as well, even if just for a minute.

STORY OF MY LIFE

Plans. Timelines. Spreadsheets.

Google Calendar.

Ah, my happy place. It’s so lovely living in the boxes of my curated life. So clean. So tidy. So cozy, predictable, and safe.

Bullshit.

I call bullshit on that whole deal.

You hear me?  Bull.Shit.

You know what plans really are?

A crapshoot. A coping mechanism. Our brain’s way of creating boundaries in order that we feel a sense of control over a life that is, to be honest, filled with events mostly not within our power to govern.

Plans are really:

Putting
Limitations
Around
Now

Or, if you want to feel (slightly) better about yourself, let’s call them a:

Preferred
Logistical
Action
Network

How do I know? I’m an expert. Duh.

So you might remember a ridiculous amount few times that I’ve mentioned that I used to be kind of a planner. Okay, not kind of. I was legit. Like, I may as well have had a Ph.D in project management because I um, tried to plan pretty much every single detail of my life. All day. Every day. All.The.Fucking.Time.

This was my brain:

Problems, excuses, obstacles, challenges, goals, milestones.

This was my brain on plans:

Solutions, reasons, ladders, medals, accomplishments, certificates.

You know where that behavior got me? Divorced, over a half million dollars in debt, and so stressed out I had more health problems by thirty than a middle-aged alcoholic.

No. I’m not kidding. Despite exercising often, my blood pressure was high, my thyroid was a hot mess (literally), having already exhausted every OTC option I was on a daily prescription for heartburn/acid reflux, and I had vertigo so bad every day it regularly prevented me from driving, reading, working, or any kind of movement at all on many occasions.

I was working so damn hard to follow the plan, contain everything in a box, maintain appearances, and follow THE RULES, that I forgot to how to live.

I lost my breath. I lost my path. I lost perspective. I lost myself.

So I did something about it. And no, amazingly, I didn’t plan it. Not really. I had a general shell in place. A sort-of, kind-of, maybe-this-is-gonna-work-out kind of idea. Nothing solid really. Just a bag full of gut feelings, a toolkit of strategies for dealing with life, and a massive bottle of “Screwitol” tucked in my back pocket.

screwitol

I carried that arsenal of mine right up to the ledge, took a big breath and lept off, heart forward, arms open, ready to experience whatever lay ahead and prepared (sort of) to land wherever the wind might carry me.

Let me tell you. That was the best decision of my life. Best. Decision. EVER.

I have made some big mistakes. I have failed more times that I can count (believe me, I’ve tried to graph recount them, I can’t). But I have learned more than I believed possible in one lifetime, let alone a few years. I have experienced more novel positivity than I could ever have anticipated, and the amazing things that have become a part my daily life are almost unbelievable to me.

The more aware I become of my wonderful life, the more incredible it becomes. The greater my attention to my personal “wealth,” the more abundant my life becomes.

I am happier, healthier, and fuller than I ever thought attainable. I have learned to do more with less, and how to smile like I mean it, because I do.

My life kicks ass.

And not because of any one thing. Well, maybe one thing. My attitude. Or my perspective. My reactions. Basically, my ability to be flexible, to go with the flow, to . . .

Wait for it . . . ,

waaaaaaiiiiiiittttttit for it . . .

My ability to . . .

CTFD.

Scary as it is, and I know firsthand just how this feels, and it’s worth it. I promise.

The story of my life is still in draft form, the ink is never really dry. More changes are coming. Lots actually. The plot is shifting, again. Some decisions have been made. A few small things are getting clearer. My gray zone is starting to get a teeny tiny bit less gray.

Regardless of the situation, remember always that the lesson is to live from a place of abundance, not scarcity. Go forward from a place of love, not resentment. Be brave, not afraid. Have an attitude of gratitude, and you will see that the universe rewards you, handsomely.

 

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BABY GOT BACK

Change. Get used to it.  This post can now be found here.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/07/baby-got-back-falling-in-love-with-my-new-body-michelle-sweezey/

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

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ALL THAT GLITTERS

“Oooooh. Shiny. Prettttttttty. I like it. I think I might want to have it”

Who: me

What: An opportunity, a big, rather unexpected one that’s kind of right up my alley, so to speak.

More specifically, the chance to bring many things back into my life that I left behind a year ago- stability, consistency, a regular paycheck, a “normal” schedule, health benefits. . .

Oh, so yeah, it’s a job.

But I’m saying “no.” Tempting, quite. But “no, thank you.”  I’m staying true to the path and journey I set out on last June.

My name is Michelle, and I’m an entrepreneur.

When my daughter was younger I used to joke about about her ridiculously short attention span. Seriously, I was competing for attention with that girl with things like rocks, nail polish particles and chunks of hardened playdough. Try as I might to vary the prosody with which I delivered riveting statements such as “put on your shirt,” “hang your towel up,” and “it’s time to go,” I lost, every time, to shiny objects. Every. Time.

Well, joke’s on me, apparently. Funny as that was, I uh, kind of sort of maybe know where she got it from. . .   Turns out, I get distracted by shiny objects too. They just look a little different.

I have about 999,999 things I would like to go/see/do/be in this lifetime, and while I proceed at warp speed to accomplish them all, I also work really hard to keep my feet on the ground, headed in the same direction at the same time, for the the big puzzle pieces. The corner pieces, the keystones, those things that make the other 999,900 items possible, those demand a level of dedication different than those suggested by spontaneous acts of life.

So, when out of the blue the potential to work in the fitness industry, with standard hours, a consistent paycheck and healthcare that costs neither one arm nor one leg, arose, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was tempted to drop everything I’ve spent the last year working for and jump right back into the rat race. Like a lot. Like a lot lot. I even went to the interview earlier this week.

Gulp.

And then I remembered my intention. Then I recalled my purpose. Then I remembered why I started this journey and while this last year has birthed some of the biggest changes in my lifetime, it has been the best one yet.

Hands down. No contest.

I recalled some recent advice I read- “no emotional voting on things that have been decided.” Meaning, to me, not allowing fear and discomfort to affect the intentional decision I made last June (while completely rational and operating from a grounded and centered place) to do the work I do and lead the lifestyle I lead (and LOVE).

I am not giving up on my purpose. Hell no.

In making this decision, I considered the following:

1. Is it the forest or the trees?

Essentially, is it going to meet a short or long term (or both) goal? What are the immediate and future benefits and effects?

2. Who cares?

For whom does it create a direct and indirect effect? How will their, and my, life change as a result?

3.   Service please

Will it serve me? Will it assist me in being the best version of me possible? Is it really who I am?

4. Does it measure up?

Is it aligned with my core values and beliefs? Does it match my life’s purpose?

5. Am I bunting?

Is it an easy out? Am I engaging in emotional voting? Am I operating from a scarcity, or abundance, mentality? Am I listening to my gut?

6. Is there a statute of limitations?

Is this going to be available later or is it it really a “once in a lifetime opportunity?

7. Does it fit in a box?

How might it limit my life? What’s the impact on my lifestyle- my free time, my interests, my other work pursuits, my social time, my health and fitness?

8. Say Yes to the Dress.

What will it look like if I say “yes?” Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, a year from now. What will my life’s puzzle resemble then?

9. Strike three.

What happens if I want out? How simple or complicated will it be to walk away from, again?

10. Am I keeping my word?

Is it amazing? Really? Is it? Amazing is a powerful word. It is not the same as good, cool, great, or fabulous. Is it AMAZING?

 

I asked myself these questions, and not surprisingly, the answer was right there, right in front of me, just beyond the shiny object that lay in my path. I am gently, thoughtfully and with great respect, stepping over it and moving along, eyes focused clearly on my next two steps.

 

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BEST DAY OF MY LIFE

Today I begin a new journey. Today is training day. Today, the road I’ve been on for the last eighteen months or so picks up some serious speed. To where it will lead- I’m not sure yet. The meandering path is straightening out a bit, temporarily, and I still can’t see past the next five steps or so, but I know for sure, without a doubt, it’s my path.

Today, I become a yoga teacher-in-training.

Ommmmmmmmmm. Namaste.

Seriously. Nam-uh-STAY Universe! I am so grateful for this opportunity. So incredibly humbled to share this experience with my peers, others in my yoga community who have found a home here.

How remarkable is it that I found my way to this place. Me- a born-and-raised country girl who spent the better part of her first three decades playing house, is in fact, actually an urban yogi at heart. Turns out you can’t hide from your truth, especially once you open your eyes.

Thank you to those that encouraged me to find it. Those that led me to get out of my comfort zone, and those who embraced me when I got here. Because of you, I’m ready to start paying it forward.

In this journey of self-actualization, growth, and learning to let go, yoga has been the one thing that ties all the lessons together. It’s where I find center in myself, both on and off the mat. The place where I learned that “if you bring your shit to yoga, your yoga practice is shit.” Translation- magnify your woes and they consume your life. Unload them, release them, replace them with light, and the light becomes your life.

Today, I get to learn how to share that practice with others. I get to do the one “job” I love the most- empower others to be the best version of themselves. I get to live my sentence. I get to be my word. How… amazing.

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TAKE OVER THE WORLD

“I can’t do this.”
“I’m too tired.”
“I don’t want to.”
“I don’t have time.”
“I’m just not in the mood.”
“I don’t like it.”
“It’s not fun.”
“It’s boring.”
“It’s too hard.”
“I’m sore.”

What do all of those have in common? Well, besides all being things I have said at least once in the last two years, they are all . . . drumroll please. . . excuses. Plain and simple. Excuses; for why you shouldn’t do something. What kind of something? Most likely something that is good for you, but requires effort, and more than you perceive yourself as “having” right now.

The keyword in that statement, however, is “perceive.” As in point of view. As in not lasting. As in changeable. As in . . . not permanent.

You picking up what I’m throwing down here? It’s the perception of your strength that determines your effort. Your conscious choice in determining your energy and commitment. Your reaction to a challenge.

Yep. It’s a choice. And you get to make it, all day, every day. There’s that Accountability Act again. Shit.

Twice last week I did something even when I realllllyyyyy didn’t want to, and both times it turned out great. Like, super great. I went in heavy and left light. I started tired and left on top of the world. I FIXED it.

This is serious progress people. This is the “now that” reward that the Universe is throwing my way. Work hard, win big. Like my post from earlier this week illustrated, you get what you put into it.

There is something incredibly powerful about pushing through your pain, past your self imposed limitations and not quitting even when it gets hard.  Turns out, on the other side of the shaking is something good. Something amazing. Growth. Strength. Peace. Happiness. Zen. Ommmmmm.

My yoga instructors often remind the class (usually a good 60 seconds into chair pose, as it happens), that :

“Your brain quits way before your body does.”

They are SO right. Our bodies will cooperate. They are much stronger than we think they are. Again, another keyword- “think.”

If you think you’re strong, you are. If you believe you can hold the pose, you can.  It is our mind that controls the body and our breath that calms the mind. Control your breath, control your mind. Control your mind and your potential is unlimited. Total World Domination baby.

What happens when you get uncomfortable? Do you quit? Why? When? Who really decided it was time to quit- your legs, or your brain?

So what if your thighs are burning. Feel the fire. So your abs are shaking? Yes, and . . .? Deal with it. Breathe. Hold it. Focus. I promise you, on the other side is bliss. Barring legitimate injury, there’s nothing stopping you, but you. Listen to your body, but with conviction and authenticity.

Decide- do you want to stop because it’s hard, or do you want to stop because you’ve given 100%? That distinction is tremendous. When you think you’ve gone as far as you can go, see what happens if you go a little bit farther. These are the boundaries worth pushing.

Ready to get started? Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. When you are sore you have an abundance of lactic acid built up and it makes you feel sluggish and weak. The solution is to get moving and break it up. Use a foam roller, a mobility ball, or a perspective changer (also known as an inversion pose) and push past it. For me this usually requires about 10 minutes or so of work, so somewhere in mile two, near the end of my warm-up or just after the vinyasa portion of yoga begins. This means that as long as I stay committed to those first ten minutes, the rest will take care of itself. Do not let being tired stop you from forward motion. Move as slowly as you’d like, but move.

2. When you feel discomfort, such as a muscle cramp or tightness, become an observer. Don’t fight it. Don’t resist it or ignore it. Simply notice it. Where does it hurt? What kinds of sensation do you feel? Notice and acknowledge them, then let them go. Breathe in energy, send it there, and keep moving forward. Sidenote- sincere pain, such as that that physically limits your ability to move or puts you at risk of injury is no joke. Be respectful of that and stop before it becomes debilitating.

3. Although it seems counterintuitive, expending energy produces energy. Same philosophy as with money- sometimes you spend it to make it. Likewise with energy, you can “fake it ‘till you make it.” As I pointed out above, you will probably feel tired for about ten minutes, but as the blood starts to move through your body your energy levels will spike, your level of alertness will increase, your mobility will improve and your overall experience will be enhanced.

4.  Think less about how far or how much you have left, but instead on how far you have come. Draw your strength from what you have already accomplished, and not on what remains. Set yourself up for success, be your own cheerleader. Personally, I’m a “counter” in most exercise settings. I count my breaths, my reps or my miles completed, and not the ones left to be done. This small practice affords me some peace of mind, some comfort, and also, some small intrinsic reward.

5. Speaking of mindset- visualize to materialize. See yourself at the end. Bring forward memories of the peace you feel at completion in the past and the light at the end of the tunnel that you know is just ahead. Remember how amazing your body is going to feel, and begin to feel it. The colloquially referenced and coveted “Runners High” is not a myth; our bodies really are flooded with endorphins as a result of exercise. Remember that, leverage your resources, and work for it. In the end, it’s all going to be worth it.
So, to get a little old school on ya’ :

“Yes you can, yes you will, yes you did.”

Mr.T

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