Posts tagged ‘happiness’

March 4, 2012

Pick A Topic

by Zen Gray

Zen Gray asking questions?Since I took a little hiatus from my blog, I keep thinking about what I should write next. So much has happened and I’ve got so many topics and questions to choose from. My list looks something like this:

1. Pre-wedding and post-wedding habits and observations.

2. Holiday family stress and the escape tactics I’ve used.

3. Recognizing my personal weight gain/weight loss habits in my significant relationships.

4. Feeling stagnant and getting fatter.

5. Getting psyched up for “the diet” and how it affects my husband, friends and family.

6. Renewal of faith in exercise.

7. The importance of keeping in the right heart-rate zones.

8. Jumping from one diet philosophy to the next.

9. How can you know what works? How long do you give a program before you determine it’s not right for you?

10. When tragedy strikes, how do we comfort ourselves?

11. When should you go with the flow and when should you MAKE things happen?

12. Should we keep questioning our choices? Or accept all we do and just move forward?

13. Rituals. Morning time, daytime, before bed. How important are they?

14. How hard should we try for a baby? What will THAT do to me, my body, my career, my life, my relationship?

15. Are these even the right questions?

See what I mean? There’s a lot of stuff rolling around my brain. And this is just a SHORT list.

I’m trying to dedicate at least one hour a week to blogging right now since I’ve decided to apply for a PhD in Positive Psychology (HOW COOL IS THAT?!!!! RIGHT???!!!) and I have to study for the GRE now, on top of doing my taxes, teaching group fitness and of course personal training and my freelance writing gigs. Yeah, yeah, Gray… you’re so busy. Pffft. I just need to dedicate some time ON MY CALENDAR to writing my blog and I’ll do it. The calendar really is a magical thing when used properly.

OK, that’s it for today since I have to teach a 6:30am spin class tomorrow morning. I’ll have to explore some of those ideas a little more next time… but would love it if I got some feedback about what would interest YOU.

Love and thanks,

~Zen

 

 

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April 6, 2011

Options

by Zen Gray

Thankfully, there are always options.

decisions

We can choose to be pissed at people that play unfairly… or we can let it go and focus on other opportunities. I’ve seen many people choose to hold onto anger and bitterness for years only to have it cause health problems. It’s like that quote, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t be a grudge-holder. It’s exhausting and I’m too perky for that.

David and I had a great workout on Monday night and really let go of the wedding contest disappointment. We decided instead to focus on the options that we have now. We can have this wedding any day we want, any where we want and have as many (or as few) as we want. We can do a beach wedding where none of the guests wear shoes. We could do a party in a mountain lodge where everyone wears pajamas and we have hot cocoa and s’mores. We can do a destination wedding or a get married during a little cruise. Or Vegas! And I can pick a dress to wear from any designer I like! Lots of ideas sound fun to me and I’m not attached to any of them.

I think it’s the same for exercise. If someone gave you one routine and said, “This is it. Don’t deviate. Go!” You might find it a little tedious and restrictive. But when you explore all the fun classes and equipment and routines available to you, you’ll enjoy mixing it up so much more! Sometimes I want to power through and lift as hard as I can. Sometimes I want to just go for a long walk and not kill myself over the intensity. Sometimes, I want to do a circuit with David. Sometimes I want to just crank up my cardio and zone out with my ipod. Sometimes I want to go dancing. Sometimes I just try to keep up with my puppy (which we’ve decided is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and German Shepherd mix and LOVES to play for hours or sprint like she’s on a lion hunt).

I think what’s important is that we recognize that there are many paths to achieve the same goal but much of our journey depends upon our attitude. Lots of ways to get married and lots of ways to get healthy!  We can choose to enjoy the triumphs or we can bitch about inconveniences. (Although, I think that acknowledging my pissed-off feelings for a moment is fine as long as I don’t wallow in them for too long.)

So go forth and frolic in your favorite way… and I’ll keep you posted on the wedding ideas. 🙂

 

March 30, 2011

“I Don’t Feel Like It”

by Zen Gray

It’s not often that I do my hair and make-up.

Jessica Simpson in a baseball hat

Jessica Simpson wearing my work attire.

I’m lucky in that I get to wear sweats and a baseball cap to work practically every day so when I’m not only tired, but busy, AND dolled up for some meeting I had… I REALLY don’t want to go to the gym and get my workout in and get all sweaty and gross. But you know what? Even though I bitched the whole way over there… I felt great and so proud of myself after that workout. I even did a personal best on chest press. Go me!

It really helped that David was ready to go when I got home. It would have been very easy for him to talk me out of the upper body workout we did tonight. All he’d have to say was, “Would you rather (fill in the blank)?” And I would have done it. I’m really thankful that I can count on him. I wish that everyone had such a supportive partner and/or buddy.

 

 

 

Which makes me ask the questions:

  • Is your significant other HELPING you?
  • If not, can you find a way to get them on board your program?
  • Can you turn to friends or family instead if your partner is just not on your “get healthy bandwagon” just yet?

I know sometimes it sucks to get yourself to the gym. Try to have all your workout gear ready to go before you can justify your way out of it… and get some support from SOMEONE. Because when it comes down to it, you’re NEVER sorry you exercised, are you?

 

March 29, 2011

Radio Show

by Zen Gray

Last week, Sophia Venable from LA Talk Radio had me on her show.

Zen Gray on LA Talk Radio

I just listened to the podcast and laughed to myself because we’re both so passionate about health that we segued a gazillion times: relationships, weight loss, anorexia, bulimia, aging gracefully, cosmetic surgery, eating tricks to make you feel full, artificial sweeteners, alkalizing the body for health, how dogs help you live longer, finding time to exercise, slowing metabolism, hormones, scale vs. measurements, kids’ fitness, being a role model for your kids, chronic dehydration, and more. We definitely could have talked for several more hours and still kept up the frenetic pace. It was so much fun! (Click here if you’d like to listen.)

All of those topics rally around that which I have dedicated my life’s work: to living a healthier and happier life.

There are times when I doubt myself because I think, “Who am I? I’m not a doctor. Maybe I need more schooling before I can really give any advice…” But listening to that show made me realize that I actually know a lot of stuff and that I barely scratched the surface of information I have archived in my brain during that interview.  I know that I can always learn more… but I don’t have to know EVERYTHING before sharing strategies that I’ve tested out either on myself or my clients, right?!

Overcoming that inertia, the inaction that comes from thinking about criticism or failure, is a mental exercise that I’ve worked on my entire life and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so. When I was a senior in high school, I read and loved Shakespeare’s Hamlet because he was the classic example of the plight of the intellectual; thinking about all the angles and outcomes and preparing for every scenario so much that you just might end up doing nothing. And having a family of lawyers, the phrase “cover your ass” is liberally and possibly over-applied in my life, too.

I’ve been taught to worry about what might happen and how I could prepare for possibly risky situations. But if I’ve learned ANYTHING in my life… it’s that you can’t possibly prepare for every single outcome and sometimes it’s better to just DO SOMETHING and have faith that you can correct mistakes as you go along. Preparation is great, certainly, but not at the expense of inaction. The most successful people out there are the ones that aren’t afraid to make TONS of mistakes.

How’s this for a great quote?

Wayne Gretsky quoteSo true. Thanks, Wayne 🙂 I’ll get back to writing my book now.

March 22, 2011

Soft Addictions

by Zen Gray

Do you love a certain show(s) and watch it religiously? Are you compelled to check Facebook first thing in the morning? Are you always holding a cup of coffee? Do you NEED to shop? Are you a little too good at video games?

These behaviors are actually considered soft addictions — a term coined by Judith Wright to describe “activities, moods or ways of being, avoidances, and things-edible and consumable but which do not pose a grave health disease risk – rather, they have the most effect on personal time and productivity.”

Internet AddictonApparently, over 90% of Americans have soft addictions and I’m not surprised by that statistic at all. I know I enjoy my excessive Internet browsing as much as the next person… and my fiance and I always turn on a movie when we eat dinner together. It’s just what we do to relax.

But then I thought, “How much more could I get done if I stopped watching movies every night and stopped checking facebook every morning?” I bet it’s a lot.

But then I think, “Hey, I need to relax, too!”

So, there’s a little battle going on in my head about the benefits of relaxation vs. productivity. Am I escaping reality when I really need to dig in and get something done?

I know there’s so much more to this topic but I just want to throw these questions out there:

  1. What are your soft addictions?
  2. Why do you do them?
  3. Is it possible that they’re going beyond stress relief so that they’re problematic to your health or happiness?
  4. Could you make a small change to your habits so you have more control over the compulsion?
March 17, 2011

For Love and Money

by Zen Gray

Have you ever lost sleep worrying about the bills?

The reason why I’m bringing up financial issues in this blog is because I believe that money troubles are another symptom that life is not in balance. And when life’s not in balance it WILL affect your body… and NOT in a good way. Studies show that if you stress, you’ll gain more belly fat. Other studies show that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll eat more. And still other studies show that if you and your partner don’t have money strategies that mesh, then it’s the number one cause of divorce! For those reasons, let’s talk about money.

Thankfully, I haven’t felt the sting of credit-card debt for a while now. But I’m re-reading a book called Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker and he talks a lot about your “financial blueprint” – the unconscious money strategies you’ve learned that are either working for you… or they’re not.

I grew up in a middle class family and I was taught that talking about money was “tacky” and there were never budgets. My mom would often buy a bunch of clothes on sale and bring them home and we’d take back what wouldn’t fit. I don’t remember one discussion about money when I was growing up except that I was told it’s rude to ask about money. Oh, and I used to win coloring contests as a kid and was told to “put the money in the bank”. I vaguely remember having this savings account and then my great grandmother left me $1000 which was added to the savings account– but when I went to pull out money in college, my parents told me that they used it for my tuition. That seems totally fair — except for the fact that I thought it was mine to use for what I wanted so I felt like I saved my money… for no reason. I’m SURE that experience carried over into my adult life because until recently, I’ve never had a savings account. Why would I? On some emotional level, it was pointless to save.

I’ve never been that great with money but I was blessed with a family that really took care of me. The only problem is that I didn’t learn effective financial strategies on my own and quickly got into debt once I left home. After YEARS of turmoil, I’ve finally started to educate myself about how to MANAGE my money. Eker suggests opening a “Financial Freedom” bank account where you deposit 10% of all your income (after taxes), to create a “Financial Freedom” jar in your home to deposit SOMETHING in it every day (even if it’s just a single penny), and to have a “play” account or jar with 10% of your income. Lastly, he wants you to open up four more accounts for Long Term Savings For Spending, Education, Giving and Necessities. Here’s the percentages:

10% Financial Freedom Account and/or jar

10% Play Account and/or jar

10% Long-Term Savings For Spending Account

10% Education Account

10% Give Account

50% Necessities Account

Even if I just have one dollar, I’m supposed to manage that dollar!  Eker says, “This action alone will send a message to the universe that you are ready for more money. Of course, if you can manage more, manage more.”

To keep my sanity, to whittle my waistline, to build some wealth, and to keep the peace with my fiance — I’m willing to give it a try. Of course, there’s a bunch of other strategies that I can implement, but I’m starting small so I can feel successful at mastering one thing at a time… much the same way I train my clients.

Perhaps because I’m a Taurus, I picture myself as a bull psyching myself up by taking small steps, then slowly they become bigger and faster and soon I’m this powerful force that can bulldoze my way through any obstacle. Of course, sometimes there’s a pretty red scarf waving around and my attention gets diverted but that’s just a part of the game. Sometimes we get distracted, sometimes we spend too much, sometimes we have a cookie… we must simply refocus and try again, right?!

To your health, wealth and happiness!

~Zen

March 16, 2011

If you feel like a failure…

by Zen Gray

I think we all get caught in the trap of feeling like a failure sometimes.

But only people that are brave enough to fail and keep trying… eventually succeed.

Keeping the faith,

~Zen

 

March 15, 2011

Shake it up

by Zen Gray

“What is the perfect protein shake?”

Today I participated in a focus group for protein shakes and we were asked that very question. There were a bunch of trainers seated around a table and we were asked our opinions about current products on the market and what changes, if any, we’d like to make to a new product.

Wow, where would you start? Since my typical client is an overweight female over thirty —  I’d like one that tastes great (of course), is made with REAL dark chocolate (a strong antioxidant that lowers blood pressure), low in NATURAL sugar (no cancer in my sweeteners, thanks!), and low in calories (because almost everyone is trying to lose extra body fat). It would help if there were plenty of calcium (to combat osteoporosis) and some fiber (to help one feel full). Perhaps a sprinkle of vitamins and minerals (since most people don’t eat enough veggies) and a reasonable price (so we can afford to look and feel good) would be fabulous, too. I also added that I’d like to see some healthier packaging without plastics. (Recent studies are finding that to some extent ALL plastics are endocrine disruptors — read that as “man boobs”, low sperm count, hormone-related diseases like breast cancer, and excess belly fat.)

Of course, my perfect protein shake doesn’t exist yet… but they’re getting closer. I haven’t actually tried the brand, Rockin’ Refuel, but was given a coupon to go get a free sample. (Click on the picture if you’d like to see more info.)

I was impressed that they use real milk from cows not treated with hormones along with whey protein, natural sugar (fructose), and it’s a solid 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein, which is great for post-workout muscle recovery. They said it costs under $2 per bottle, which is not bad either.

Before today, I hadn’t put a lot of thought into the perfect protein shake… but I’m getting a lot of feedback after posting the question on facebook. EVERYONE has given me a different answer so it’s clear there’s a lot to choose from out there.

I just wish I had some now because David and I are ready to hit the gym with our brutal “day 2” workout this week… and it would be nice to see how I felt after a swig of this stuff. Guess I’ll just have to stick with my post-workout egg whites, veggies and teaspoon of olive oil.

Do you have something to add? Would love to hear it.

Rock on,

~Z

March 14, 2011

“How was your year?”

by Zen Gray

That was the greeting from my accountant today when I saw him about my taxes.

My first response,”Great!” needed an amendment —  “in many ways, however, not exactly the best year financially.”

After all, you can’t pull the wool over the tax guy’s eyes.  I’m not sure when I learned the habit of always answering in an upbeat, positive way. It’s probably a Tony Robbins thing. Sometimes, I really am great — but sometimes I’m sure it’s part “fake it ’til you make it” and part, “I’m sick of hearing people whine about their problems. Why don’t they focus on solutions?” I want to be a person that focuses on succeeding… on possibilities.

I’m pretty proud of the fact that I paid off all of my debt last year. However, 2010 was more about personal rather than financial triumphs. Last spring I was SICK of attracting men that I just couldn’t end up marrying. But I had kept their old love letters and photos in what I called the box.

All innuendo aside, the box was full of love, obsession, heartache, good hair days, great tans, romantic gestures, some questionable fashion choices and, of course, drama. I always thought I would hold on to the box and finally throw it out after I got married.

Realizing that I needed to make some changes, I took a second look at that ominous cube of memories. Why was I holding on to these things? Did these reminders serve me in some way? Was I afraid of getting rid of these love tokens? I think I was scared that I would never find that intense passion again and perhaps I would have to just be content with the fact that someone loved me once that way… even though each relationship had been broken and was clearly not what I wanted anyway.

Keeping that box, I realized, was EXACTLY like settling and I was NOT READY to give up on love.

As soon as it was gone, I felt lighter.  (Oddly enough, I effortlessly lost a few pounds, too.)  And a few months later, I met David — my own personal super hero. (I’ll have to tell you about his special powers in another episode.) A few months after that, I ran my first marathon in Honolulu, got engaged and got a puppy!

Yep. I’d say it was a very good year… even if I’m not quite ready to retire just yet.

March 13, 2011

The Wedding Contest

by Zen Gray

About a month ago, David and I became finalists in a contest to win a wedding. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to get married and have all of your friends and family there WITHOUT having to freak out about the cost of the reception site, the ceremony, the dress, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the flowers, the tuxes, the catering, the menus, the cake, the DJ, the videographer, the photographer, the album, the wedding coordinator, the event planner, the transportation and even the honeymoon suite? It would be AMAZING, right?!!!

Well, we’ve got a great shot because we’re one of twenty five couples that could win this event called “The Ultimate Wedding Experience.” We had to create a video and write a short essay and get approved by the powers that be… and we did. To vote for us, please click here. (Please enjoy our puppy’s cameo and remember that I never claimed to be a singer.)

Today just happens to be the last day for people to vote. They don’t post how many votes each couple has but they do allow people to post comments under the video. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that. Does that mean they’ll just pick the couple they like the best and not even care about the voting? Is it really the number of COMMENTS that make a difference? If it is, then we’re screwed because some guy dressed in drag to re-enact his first date has over 200 comments to our paltry 90 comments. And what are the judges looking for? For a couple that looks like they’re in love? To the couple that looks most desperate for help? For a couple most connected to all the sponsors? You just don’t really know.

And that made me think… so many times, you just don’t know what people are looking for and what their criteria is for choosing the way they do. There’s no reason to take things personally if someone isn’t looking for your background or type on an audition or job interview or even a love interview (a date). All you can do is be yourself and do your best to do the things that make you happy. It sounds so simple – but I forget sometimes.

Can I just say that I really want to win this wedding? I really do. I embrace this possibility for my love, my family and my friends and have visions of laughing and dancing with David. However, I’m so grateful for the many blessings in my life already… winning this contest would just be more buttercream icing on the wedding cake.

Wishing YOU much love and happiness and unlimited possibilities!

~Zen