The Start of a New Year

Happy 2017!

Did you start 2017 how you wanted to? I had a slow morning. It was lovely, but slow, and not 100% what I was planning for the start of a new year.

I shared these thoughts with my yoga class today: It’s ok if you didn’t start your 2017 exactly the way you might have wanted to. Do you know why? This practice of yoga, of learning to be present, brings you into a place where not just each year, but each moment is an opportunity for a new beginning.

You can change your thoughts; acknowledge your emotions instead of reacting to them; create a new habit at any time, not just on January 1.

By being more present and aware of your habitual thoughts and reactions, you can change them. Each and every moment that you bring your attention to them and make the conscious choice to change them, you can.

So what if your day didn’t start/continue/end the way you had envisioned? Instead of throwing it all away, recognize the habitual patterns and make the choice to move forward in a different way.

Hint: this is true for fitness/nutrition “resolutions” too.

If you slip into patterns you want to change, the practice is to lovingly acknowledge the slip (without judgement or criticizing yourself) and choose to step forward in the direction you want to move.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and balanced 2017!
~Alannah

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Resolutions vs Goals vs Intentions 

With 2016 wrapping up and 2017 just around the corner, a lot of people are reflecting on what was and looking towards what will be.

I’ve never been a “resolutions” person, but I have been a “goals” person; and I think I’m starting to turn into an “intentions” person. So…what? Semantics!

Here’s how I would distinguish between resolutions, goals, and intentions; as well as how they can all fit into your life.

Resolutions
I would look at resolutions as “new habits.” The New Year is a great time to take a look at habits you would like to implement going forward, but you don’t have to wait for January 1 each year to implement change in your life!

A lot of times, resolutions fail because people try to make sweeping changes all at once. Think: “On January 1, I will: 1) start working out seven days/week, 2) stop eating sugar, 3) sleep 8 hours per night, 4) drink 2L of water a day, 5) stop smoking/drinking, 6) stop eating after 8pm…” So on January 2, when they wake up sore and hung over, they feel like they’ve failed and “why bother!?” Does that sound familiar?

I don’t believe that resolutions are bad, or doomed to failure; I think they have a place as part of the larger picture.

Goals
Maybe you are (or want to be) a goals-driven person. Goals are concrete and have “by when” dates associated with them to help maintain accountability. Goals can be separated into areas of your life (personal, health, career) and are usually broken into time frames (1 year, 5 years, 10 years). Lululemon is known for their goals, and have great goal-setting worksheets.

I see goals as a great way to organize your thoughts. The challenge with goals is that, because they’re concrete, some things in life don’t “fit” into them. Read: “I will be pregnant by age 29.” Yeah…that did not happen (I’m well past 29, no kids)! It’s not to say that it couldn’t have, but the situation at 29 wasn’t right for it, and thank goodness I wasn’t pregnant at 29!

Intentions
So, intentions, they sound so lofty, but used correctly, they can be extremely powerful. Intentions are great for visioning your life. Intentions provide you with an overall concept of what you want in life, but they don’t have “by when” dates attached to them.

One of my favourite yoga sutra is: Prayatna shaitilyananta sama patibhyam.
Translated to mean: Relax the intensity of your effort and meditate on the endless and copious amounts of energy within.

To me, this sutra is the essence of intentions. It’s not saying don’t try or don’t have effort. It’s saying create a vision/set an intention/aim in a direction, then release that energy to be worked on by the Universe (or whatever it is you believe in). The main caveat here is to trust the energy and work with it, not against it.

For example, “My intention is to be fit and healthy as I age. To me, that looks like making my meals at home, drinking enough water, being physically active at least five times per week, and enjoying my life.”
I wouldn’t set that intention, then continue to eat out, not work out, drink only coffee, etc. and expect to magically become fit and healthy!
I also wouldn’t set that intention then fault myself for having a busy week and needing to eat out. I would do my best to find a healthy meal instead of giving up and eating at a fast food restaurant.

Some questions to think of when setting intentions, thank big-picture here:

  1. What is your vision for your life?
  2. What matters to you?
  3. How do you want your life to feel in the future?
  4. What are the elements of your life that make you happy?
  5. What do you want more of?
  6. What makes you feel fulfilled?

Whatever tool(s) you use to look at and vision your life, I strongly suggest writing them down!

In love,
~Alannah

Yoga Musings

Instead of sleeping (or being out on a Friday night) I thought I’d share a few random thoughts I’ve had recently.

Yoga Goggles
There are many reasons why men should practice yoga: build strength, stretch and lengthen muscles, improve movement and functionality of the body, stress reduction, challenge…fit women in luon (whatever gets you there boys!), but here’s another reason for (single) men to roll out a mat: Yoga Goggles. Yoga Goggles act similar to Beer Goggles, but healthier; when an average looking guy chooses to attend a yoga class of his own free will, he instantly becomes hotter! I highly recommend you come to class and say hi to the cute girl sweating next to you.

Being “Good” at Yoga
I recently met someone who has never practiced yoga, so I shared that now, I can’t imagine my life without a regular practice; however, it took me many years to get to this point. His reply was “you must be pretty good at it”; which got me thinking, that’s really the amazing thing about yoga, there’s always a new layer to peel back and discover!

He then asked for an example and this was my response:
It’s a pretty cool form of exercise because as you practice, your body gets stronger AND more flexible and your mind becomes quieter. So as those changes occur, new poses become available for you, and new feelings within old poses arise. When I started, I had the physical strength to do handstand, but my fear (head/thoughts) was my limiting factor, now my head is catching up to my body.

As these thoughts dance inside my head during my practice, I also marvel at how those changes and shifts can happen daily; some days my arms feel strong and some days my hips feel tight and pinchy; all those combinations alter the practice each and every moment!

I was talking to someone else recently about yoga and equated it to growing out your hair (guys, this might not make sense): for months, it feels like your hair hasn’t grown at all, then one morning, you wake up and notice “all of a sudden” your hair is longer. I touched on this in a previous post, but I feel it fits in well here and is worth repeating: yoga (and life) is not always about achieving the next pose (goal), sometimes it’s about building the foundations, getting stronger in other ways, then “all of a sudden”, poof, the pose is there for you (you’ve achieved that BHAG, your hair has grown)!

Travel Blogging

Who knows how this is going to turn out!

I am currently chilling at LAX waiting for my next flight to Miami, then it’s on to ARUBA to complete a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with the amazing Tiffany Cruikshank.

I never did write about my experience with this training so maybe now’s the time…or maybe not.

I’m going to start here: Today has been such an amazing day so far! I didn’t go to the lululemon warehouse sale or a yoga class this morning; however, I ended up walking into my neighbourhood lulu and was helped by the Educator who is currently organizing the in-store yoga! Gave her my info and will hopefully get to teach there in the near future.

Then my dentist appointment was moved up by 30 minutes which was perfect because it got me to the airport right on time for my flight! On the plane I took a picture of Mount St Helen’s (?? Maybe ??) and the woman in the seat in front of me asked if I would email it to her; turns out her daughter is currently living in Kelowna and hanging out in the same circles I was when I lived there so I’ll be following up with them about Kelowna life.

It’s moments like that that you realize how small the world is and how inter-connected we are; which is nice when you’re traveling (both physically and through this life). Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that there are other humans out there 😉

I almost forgot, so far, the boarder agents, security people and shuttle drivers have been extremely friendly and helpful; even going out of their ways to assist (even at LAX)!

Another note on that thought process…my attitude today was different then normal, “vacation mode”. Have you ever noticed how when you smile and make small talk with strangers, amazing things happen? It happens on a rare sunny day in Vancouver too; random people say hi to strangers on the street. What would happen if we all tried to carry this positivity with us every day!?

New Years Goal Setting

New Year’s Eve, so much pressure to find The party, get dressed up, have someone to kiss at midnight…it’s kind of this single-girl’s nightmare; so this year, I’m putting on my best wunder unders, favourite tank and rolling out my yoga mat. It will be an evening of asana, intension, music, coconut water and raw chocolate; call me lame, but I’m pretty excited about kicking off 2013 on this positive foot!

As cliche as it is, New Years is a great time to clean the slate and layout some goals for the coming year. I prefer the word “goal” over “resolution” because I feel goals are more specific; therefore, “easier” to achieve. The thing about “New Years Resolutions” is that people jump on the January 1 bandwagon and try to change everything, all at once, and, inevitably, fail, then give up. Usually all this happens within the month of January.

So, how does one increase the chance of success? I like setting goals and I like the SMART model for basic goal setting; make the goal:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable (I like lulu’s Audacious)
  • Realistic
  • Timely

However, I don’t like “basic” goals so I like these tips from lululemon on achieving BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals):

  • Break it down — create smaller goals towards your BHAG
  • Create it in present tense — you’re not going to do something, it’s already been done!
  • Make it measurable — did you achieve it, yes or no?
  • Use affirmative language — “just do it”, don’t avoid it
  • Be specific — how often/much/many…
  • BY WHEN? — when will this goal become a reality?

As I’ve blogged in previous posts, 2012 has been an incredible year of goal crushing for me and a few of the things I’ve found to help me are:

  • a list on my fridge “2012 is the year that I…”
  • a list on the screen-saver of my phone “by 2016 I…”
  • a white board on my wall with affirmations
  • vision boards

In addition to revisiting and updating my 2012 goals for 2013; I will be adding a new trick in 2013: an empty glass jar! As good/great/awesome things happen throughout the year, write them down and put them into the jar. For me, this will serve two purposes:

  1. a reminder to stay positive
  2. a reminder of all the amazing things that happen in the year, even if there are a few goals that aren’t achieved

It’s also a nice way to remember the year on December 31, 2013!

What are your BHAGs? How are you planning on achieving them? What tips to you have?

Life Lessons from the Mat

There are many moments in life when we feel like we’ve slid down a slip & slide to the bottom of the Grand Canyon…ok, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but sometimes it does feel that way. But tonight, when I popped into eka pada koundinyasana (not me), I realized that no matter how many times we stumble, slip, fall into an abyss, we’ve still made some movement in a forward direction.

When I first started practicing yoga, koundinyasana seemed crazier than handstand to me (and I still fear handstand without someone to support me), so I kept practicing yoga and working on other poses (bakasana also not me). Then, one day, one of my teachers walked me into koundinyasana without me noticing.

Then I stumbled. It wasn’t a consistant pose for me yet. So I kept practicing yoga and working on other poses. But now, I knew what it felt like to be in that pose!

It’s been about a year since Crista walked me into koundinyasana for the first time and I’m still not sure I have it 100% of the time, but I definitely have it more times than I don’t. And every day that I don’t have it, I keep practicing yoga and other poses and moving in that forward direction towards it being a 100% of the time pose.

Take this lesson off the mat, in your career, even if you’ve never had the feeling of pure passion for your career, you’re learning and growing and developing towards that position; or, if you have felt that passion and slipped, you know what it feels like and are moving in that forward direction yet again.

In love, even if you’ve never fallen in love, you’re laying the foundation to build a strong, meaningful relationship by spending time working on yourself, or dating duds, or experiencing bad relationships that you don’t want, or good relationships with someone who just isn’t quite The One. But, inevitably, one day, it’ll just be there for you (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

Even if you don’t think you’re heading in the right direction, or if you’ve forgotten about the goal for a moment, it’s still there and you’re still doing things that are leading you towards it so when you remember it, or when an opportunity to try it again presents itself, you’ll be that much more ready for it.

Oh Yoga, the Great Teacher!

Monkey Mind…time to get honest

Recently I’ve felt my mind is scattered — too much to do and absolutely no focus on anything! So this post will be an attempt at focusing in preparation for the beginning of 2013. 2012 has been a year of goal crushing, but with the year coming to a close (much faster than I had expected), I’m finding myself spinning trying to wrap up loose ends, and getting nowhere fast.

With the holiday season upon us, my teaching schedule is winding down, leaving me with more time in the week to work on my goal “homework”. Ok, I put that in quotes, but really, it’s real homework.

There are two key things left on my 2012 goal list:

  • Start dating someone with the potential to become my husband (it’s been an intention, but I haven’t made any steps to actually meet anyone)
  • Complete my Personal Training certification (this is where Monkey Mind is coming into play)

Also, I will be in Aruba January 19 to complete my Yoga Teacher Training and have A LOT of homework to do BEFORE I leave!

So…the plan…as always, dating is being pushed to the back-burner (much to my family’s dismay).

Here is my commitment: I spend a minimum of 1 hour per night AND 2 hours per weekend day on work related to attaining my Yoga and/or Personal Training certification until December 31, 2012.

This can include:

  • Observing a yoga class
  • Teaching a yoga class
  • Watching an online lecture
  • Taking notes on human anatomy and systems
  • Reading a book related to either of these goals (I have to do a book report as part of my YTT)
  • Creating personal training programs
  • Doing a Home Practice

Outcome: by committing to the above, I will be confident in my abilities to write and pass both my Personal Training and Yoga tests in January 2013.

This is my pre New Years Resolution.

What do you want to get accomplished before 2013 begins? Maybe we can encourage each other to finish 2012 even stronger than we started it!

Fear is a funny thing…

2012 has been a goal-crushing year so far: I got laser eye surgery, ran my first 10 km race, maintained a strong (almost) daily yoga practice, paid off my Visa, completed my first half marathon and jumped out of an airplane! Here’s the thing, I’m STILL terrified of losing control; this fear severely limits my ability to crush my goals of feeling comfortable in forearm balance and handstand, not to mention falling in love.

I recently ran into an old yoga friend of mine from Kelowna and we got talking about yoga and my recent goal-crushing and I had an ah-ha moment during our conversation. I realized that I’m happy to be in control or completely hand over control to someone I trust, but I can’t LOSE it. Here’s the difference: when I went skydiving, the person I jumped with had already earned my trust and had already proven his ability to maintain control so I was perfectly comfortable handing him full control of the situation; however, when I go to invert, there isn’t someone there to take over control; it’s me, and only me.  Here’s the sad part of this realization: I don’t trust myself enough.

My distaste for losing control is partly positive; it means that I don’t have the desire to try drugs and won’t allow myself to get drunk. On the other hand, I think it might have something to do with my fear of commitment and falling in love. Oh, and it is obviously hindering my yoga ASANA practice; however, not my YOGA practice as working through this IS my yoga practice.

I had hoped that jumping out of an airplane would help me break through my fear of losing control, but because I was able to fully hand control over that didn’t happen; so now it’s up to me to build up my CONFIDENCE IN MYSELF instead of being scared or putting my trust completely in someone else.

Bucket List Goals!

Well, it’s a stormy summer night in Vancouver, and I’m not watching Batman like I was supposed to (see earlier post), so instead, I’m post-happy!

Last weekend I did something I NEVER thought I’d do! I went skydiving! O-M-G!

I think I mentioned in an earlier post not to judge yourself and what you think your life will be like and this was one of THOSE experiences! So here’s the story, maybe you can learn from my “mistakes” (read: be careful of the commitments you make, but allow others to help you push your boundaries).

Once upon a time, I was crushing on this guy who loved to skydive. After 11 meetings, he asked me out and we started dating. During our first few dates we talked about his love of skydiving and my fears of jumping out of perfectly good airplanes; he shared that his goal was to become a Tandem Master and, being a “girl in like,” I told him that when he achieved his goal, I would celebrate with him by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane strapped to him. Well, this summer, three years after I made this commitment, he achieved his monumental goal, and, even though we are no longer together, he strapped me to him and we jumped out of a perfectly good airplane together…and it was AMAZING! I think sharing that moment with him was just as amazing as jumping out of the plane 🙂

There are only a few people in this life that are able to give us the support to push our limits; allow them to do that!

Disappointment – How do you deal with it?

Apparently I don’t deal with it very well…apparently I become a bit of a b*tch about it — not some of my proudest moments. The worst part is that my knee-jerk reaction (focus on the jerk) is to take it out on the person closest to me; tonight that was a good friend.

Really, I’m only posting this in an attempt to make myself more accountable in an attempt to avoid lashing out in the future; and, I have a feeling, I’m not the only one out there who needs to work on this…

What do you want your kids to experience?

Recently The Globe and Mail published the article Bucket list for kids: 50 things to do before they’re 12. We all know our lives are too sedentary and kids, especially, aren’t as active as we were when we were growing up. I know I took my childhood for granted! Saturdays were spent riding bikes, “playing” tennis, swinging on swings, climbing trees, jumping on my net in the woods, finding deer bones on the ridge, building boats out of bark, combing the beaches…today, kids…um…watch tv?

I’m not a parent yet, but reading this list, and a recent visit to my childhood home, has definitely reinforced how important it is for parents to ensure their children get to experience at least some of these activities!

I also feel that you’re never too old to play, and, whether you have children to do these activities with or not, try to cross off a few more activities from your list!

Happy Playing!

Surprise goals

2012 has become my year of “yes”…well, at least as far as pushing my boundaries and what I thought I could do. Maybe I’m not doing “one thing a day that scares [me]”, but definitely more things this year than any year before, or even all those years combined!

My good friend and I recently had a discussion about the next five years of our lives and one of the things that came out of that discussion was that we had two years to really dig deep and check off a whole shwack of items from our bucket lists. I actually didn’t really have a bucket list, so 2012 has become the year of not only developing a bucket list (of things I didn’t know I wanted to do), but also crossing them off! Run a 10k? Sure! Done! Join a relay team to run a 50 mile trail race through Whistler and Blackcomb? Why not!? Train for my first triathlon? Ok! Jump out of an airplane? Ok…that one’s taking a little more effort to persuade me to do, but I know it will happen. And today, Fun. is playing the after party for lululemon’s SeaWheeze…Well, ok, I guess I could run a half marathon (in 56 days); why not!?

My point is, surprise goals CAN be fun! And they ARE like getting hit with an inspiration bomb! And you really don’t know what you can do until you kick that little voice that keeps telling you “that’s not who you are” and “you can’t do that” OUT OF YOUR THOUGHT PROCESSES!

Welcome to SimplyLifeFoodFitness!

Thank you for stopping by! I intend for this to be a blog about simply living life; enjoying good, healthy food; and achieving fitness goals 🙂

Life: I work a full-time office job and am a group fitness instructor before and after work. I’ll share my goals as we go along 😉 I am an aunt to four amazing kidlets and am extremely close with my family!

Food: Diet matters (not to be confused with “diets”); I believe in a life of balance and that includes allowing yourself to have “off” days without punishment! Each morning is a new opportunity. I have been (mostly) gluten/wheat-free for over three years, but am just starting to learn how to bake again 🙂 I try to stick to organic, whole foods, but we all have our moments of desperation… The food/recipes I post on here will showcase the 90% good, but I’m not a superhuman and know there is 10% not so good that happens too!

Fitness: Oh fitness…I actually got my only D, ever, in PE in Junior High! Now, I couldn’t imagine a life without daily activity; this has taught me not to judge myself, and what I can achieve, by looking at who I was. I am a BCRPA certified group fitness instructor with 100 hours of Maya Yoga teacher training; and will be completing an additional 200 hours of vinyasa yoga teacher training with Tiffany Cruikshank in January 2013. Currently I teach at least three spin classes per week, attend a minimum of six yoga classes, and try to go for a run/hike at least once or twice a week. I recently completed my first 10k race (the 2012 Vancouver Sun Run); am part of a team to complete the Meet Your Maker relay race in Whistler in September; and plan to complete my first triathlon in 2013.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with you and learning about your adventures through Life Food Fitness!

~A 🙂

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