Anything Can Happen: Lessons Learned from New York – New Jersey Too! (Part 2 of 3)

Rockefellar CenterAh, New York City – the center of the universe. I had always dreamed of coming to this city, and December of last year I finally did. (Thank you, work, for sending me!) I loved it so much, I just couldn’t stay away!

So 3 months later I was back. This time my trip was personal and was centered around volunteering for a self-development seminar and my husband’s “Mastermind” group. As I mentioned in my last post, I had a few epiphanies while I was there. From my time in New Jersey, I learned that now is the time to invest in yourself to prepare for the upcoming spring.

What was my lesson from New York? Firstly, I learned that New York shopping is cheaper than Washington shopping (no sales tax on clothing! YES!!!). Secondly, I learned a very important lesson from the lovely, the magical, the “Practically Perfect in Every Way” Mary Poppins.

Anything Can Happen…If You Let It
The drive from Jersey City to New York City was perfect. Just as we emerged from the Holland Tunnel and entered the glorious bustling city, the satellite radio kicked in on cue and provided us with the perfect Broadway soundtrack to our drive up the Manhattan Island. I couldn’t have planned it better myself.

After brunch with our friends in the Village, we decided to catch an evening Broadway show. We checked into our hotel smack dab in the middle of Times Square and scooted on over to the TKTS booth. Because it was so late in the day by the time we got there, it was slim pickin’s, so we decided to go with the peppy Disney musical, Mary Poppins.

I don’t know about my husband, but I was excited to “Go Fly a Kite” and get “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” stuck in my head. It was a great, upbeat show, and stuck in the middle of all the sugary, splendid musical goodness was a song that packed a great message: “Anything Can Happen If You Let It.”

The basic premise of the song is that anything is possible if you are open to it, if you believe that it can happen, and if you’re willing to reach for your dreams. Of course this has some larger implications, but I immediately thought, this could really apply to health and fitness.

Many times I’ve seen people start new fitness programs, almost asking not to succeed. They fork over the big bucks for a program or a personal trainer, but they immediately start throwing up objections like, “That won’t work for me. I’ve tried interval training, and I know it won’t work.” Or they say, “I’ve tried diet after diet, and they never work.” So they go into the program with an attitude that, just like every other fitness and nutrition program they’ve tried, it won’t work.

To these people I ask, “When will you let it work for you?”

The first step in achieving your dreams is to believe that achieving them is possible. Rather, take that one step further and know that you’ll achieve them. If you don’t believe that something will work, it most likely won’t.

It’s almost as if these people want to prove to the universe that nothing can help them, so they can stop trying and say, “There’s nothing I can do about my situation!” So they no longer have to point the finger at themselves and instead place blame on external circumstances as to why they haven’t obtained the body and level of fitness they desire.

Anything can happen if you’re open to it, if you let it. Clear the path to allow your dreams to come to you. Assuming that “it probably won’t work” is only building up a dam that blocks them from flowing to you.

After 3 days of running around the city, exploring all of downtown, uptown, and every town in between by foot – my feet were killing me! – we headed back to New Jersey for the next adventure…

I leave you with the lyrics to Mary Poppin’s song. Remember, anything can happen if you let it.

Anything Can Happen

Anything can happen if you let it
Sometimes things are difficult but you can bet it
Doesn’t have to be so
Changes can be made
You can move a mountain if you use a larger spade

Anything can happen, it’s a marvel
You can be a butterfly or just stay larval
Stretch your mind beyond fantastic
Dreams are made of strong elastic
Take some sound advice and don’t forget it
Anything can happen if you let it

Anything can happen if you let it
You won’t know a challenge until you’ve met it
No one does it for you
No one but yourself
Vacillating violets get left up on the shelf

Anything can happen, just imagine
That should be epitaph
I wear the badge in
Honor of the world’s free thinkers
Those who see beyond their blinkers
Jelly isn’t jelly until you set it
Anything can happen if you let it

Anything can happen if you let it
What good is a whistle unless you whet it
Broaden your horizons, open different doors
You may find a you there that you never knew was yours.

Anything can happen
Things you thought impossible
Will soon seem certain
Though at first it may sound clownish
See the world more upside-downish
Turn it on its head and pirouette it
Anything can happen if you let it

If you reach for the stars
All you get are the stars
But we’ve found a whole new spin
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in

Anything can happen if you let it
Life is out there waiting so go and get it
Grab it by the collar, seize it by the scruff
Once you’ve started living life you just can’t get enough

Anything can happen, it’s official
You can choose the super or the superficial
Sally forth the way we’re steering
Obstacles start disappearing
Go and chase your dreams you won’t regret it

Anything can happen
(Anything can happen)
Anything can happen
If you let it.

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Let’s Indulge this Thanksgiving!

Ah, Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday of the year.  Every November I look forward to waking up to the smell of turkey roasting in the oven, the sound of my mom clanging around in the kitchen, and the sight of my dad thumbing through the newspaper while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade plays on the TV.

It brings a certain warm and fuzzy feeling.  You know the one – the one that makes you feel like you’re six years old again.  It’s a Thursday, and there’s no school.  The countdown to Christmas is finally starting.  And you’re about to eat the biggest meal of the entire year.

Succulent Thanksgivingturkey, creamy mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce.  Savory stuffing, crisp green beans, decadent pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  And since I’m Filipino, fluffy white puto, peanut buttery kare kare, silky leche flan.  My mouth is already watering just thinking about it.

Food is an amazing thing.  Not only does it nourish your body, it brings family and friends together.  It satisfies your palate and your stomach.  And it has the ability to bring back nostalgia and memories.  It’s truly magical.

So what I’m about to say just may get me blacklisted in the fitness blog community, and my husband just might yell at me.

I propose that we all indulge this Thanksgiving.

[Screech!] Whoa, what?!?!  You want me to eat all that stuff?  What about my goals?  What about eating healthy?  What about steering away from the desserts, carbs, cocktails, and sticking to one plateful of food?

Okay, okay.  I don’t propose that you stuff yourself into a coma.  Until you couldn’t possibly move from the couch after you undo the top button of your pants, and you feel so sick to your stomach as you pass out for the rest of the night.  Because let’s face it – that actually ain’t all that fun.

I’m simply saying, enjoy yourself.  Thanksgiving comes but once a year.  Yes, it’s about giving thanks.  Yes, it’s about family.  But let’s be honest.  It’s about the food too.  Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the banquet.  If you, like me, are fortunate enough to have a table spilling over with food on this blessed day, you should enjoy it.  Enjoy that God gave you the gift of enjoying the savor, the sweet, the salty, the crunchy, and the creamy.  Enjoy the memories of festive parades and family football games that pumpkin pie and candied yams bring.

So while most fitness experts will tell you to skip the sugary desserts, drink fruit juice instead of cocktails, and load your plate up with salad so there is minimal room left for the mashed potatoes and stuffing, I’m telling you the opposite.  Enjoy the pumpkin pie, sip a martini, and make sure to get your fair share of the mashed potatoes and stuffing before your 15-year-old nephew hoards it all.

I will give you a few things to keep in mind however:

  1. Moderation is key.  Like I said, don’t stuff yourself for goodness sakes.  You’ll just end up feeling uncomfortable and sleepy.  Yes, eat a slice of pumpkin pie, but it shouldn’t be a full quarter of the entire thing!  Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your body to feel full.
  2. Remember there are consequences to your indulgence and accept them fully.  You just may feel like crap the next day.  If you do decide to eat all those goodies, understand that and accept it as a consequence.  Take responsibility the next few days to eat clean, drink plenty of water, and push yourself especially hard during your workouts.  (Skipping any workouts is NOT an option!)
  3. Promise yourself that it’s for Thanksgiving Day ONLY.  Most people make the horrible mistake of eating like crap for the entire holiday season.  It especially starts with Thanksgiving.  That’s when all the Christmas cookies start showing up at work, the cafeteria features gingerbread cake almost every day, and your weekend schedule is jammed with friends’ holiday cocktail hour. Don’t fall into that trap!  You’ll only hate yourself when the New Year rolls around.

So, this can be a tricky thing.  Allowing yourself to indulge for that one day can easily lead to moments of weakness throughout the holiday season.  You must have a strong mindset, discipline, and a strong commitment to yourself.  But if you truly feel confident enough to make it work, I say go for it.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!  I know I will.   Pumpkin pie, here I come!

Pumpkin Pie

*Obligatory disclaimer that my husband asked me to post: The opinions expressed in this blog do not reflect the opinion of Element 5 Fitness or the Element 5 Fitness staff. They are solely the responsibility of the author. (That’s me!) I am not a personal trainer nor a nutrition expert. I am merely sharing with you my thoughts, opinions, and what has worked for me. [End Disclaimer]

I have a 2-pack!!!

Well, when I flex really hard.  And when the lighting is just right.  And if I squint my eyes just a little bit and turn my head about 30 degrees to the right.

Hey!  Don’t rain on my parade, okay?  This is significant!  I can’t remember the last time I could even remotely see any resemblance of an anything-pack! 

And yes, I have been known to spend good, quality time in front of the mirror admiring my pre-rockhard, washboard abs.  My husband just rolls his eyes when he walks by and laughs, “Oh my gosh.”

Like I said, don’t rain on my parade!  I focus on the progress.  See, a lot of people will focus on the bellyfat and arm flab (or the stick arms and pigeon legs).  They’ll look at what they don’t like and out of anger or distaste, will work out to change what they don’t like about themselves.

I have a different strategy.  I choose to focus on what I do like and the progress that I have made.  And I make fitness and nutrition about accentuating that, and allowing everything else to catch up to it.  And that applies not just to whether I like how a certain body part looks.  It applies to whether I’m happy with my energy levels, my current state of flexibility, and my ability to dance like a disco queen to a cheesy ABBA song.

Gratitude is one of the most powerful things in the universe.  Be thankful for what you have.  Focus on what you like about yourself, about the progress you have made, and you’re bound to get more of it.  If you constantly focus on what you don’t like, you’ll always overlook the progress that you are making, and you’ll always be able to find one more thing you can pick on. 

I challenge you to pick one thing you like about yourself.  Do you have nice ankles?  Or a nice, angled chin?  No matter how miniscule, pick something.  Focus on that.  Spend time in the mirror looking at it.  Yes, make your family think you’re totally vain about it! 

Have you made the slightest bit of progress since you started working out?  Dropped 2 pounds?  Do your jeans feel just a looser?  Dwell on that!  Be thankful for it, and celebrate! 

So don’t laugh at me when I shout from the rooftops that I have a 2-pack.  That 2-pack is just the beginning of more packs!

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”  — Michelangelo

Like what you read?  Can you relate?  Just have a reaction?  Add a comment!

Did I mention that I stopped working out?

I went to Vegas a few weeks ago.  If you’ve read my past blog about eating healthy, you know that while I’m on vacation, all health and fitness rules pretty much go out the window.  Mind you, I try to compensate by being extremely disciplined with my nutrition and workouts during the weeks leading up to it.  I also accept the consequences and detox when I get back.

So with my Vegas trip, that was the intent.  I didn’t follow through.  Here’s what really happened:

I followed through on my pre-vacation commitment.  I stuck to my prescribed 4-times a week heavy workout with cardio intervals.  I stuck to the nutrition plan.

I followed through on my vacation commitment.  I ate burgers and fries, eight kinds of meat at a Brazilian churrasco restaurant, indulged on chocolate lava cakes, and drank way too many vodka tonics and long island ice teas.  I didn’t even bother bringing any workout clothes because I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

I got home on a Monday afternoon with every intention to clean up my act the minute the plane landed.  But we got invited for sushi that evening.  And with my sushi, I naturally ate 3 different desserts.  Who can turn down tiramisu, chocolate cheesecake and eclairs?  (mini versions, of course)  What’s one more “cheat meal”, right?

Okay, so Tuesday.  Really, Tuesday my plan was to get back on the wagon.  Shake for breakfast, pack my mid-morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack, and bring my gym clothes and recovery drink for my workout after work.  But I woke up late that morning and rushed off to work without any of it.  Felt dehydrated all day which led to a headache, came home, and crashed on the couch.

Wednesday.  Wednesday would be much better…But I plain forgot my gym bag at home, ended up working late, got home around 8 and crashed on the couch again.

So Thursday…I think you get the picture.

What happened?  What happened to my good intentions?  As James Ray says, “Good intentions, poor follow-through.”

And so it went for 2 weeks.  Every day, at the end of the day I had two choices: either 1) beat myself up for being a flake and freak out about the weight I’d gain from my non-compliance or 2) put the day behind me and start the next day over again.

What would you do?  I chose #2.  I am a firm believer that everyone does the very best they can given the person they are at that moment.  I could have beat myself up about it and freaked out about gaining weight, but decided that doing so would just put me in a worse mood than I already was, which would lead to emotional eating, high stress, and it would in turn become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead, I decided to note how I felt (usually lethargic and dehydrated), consciously decide that I didn’t want to feel that way the next day, and realized that tomorrow is a new day.

So it took me a couple weeks to get back on the wagon.  Looking back on it, I’m kind of glad it did.  Firstly, because sometimes if you’ve been on a rigorous fitness plan for a few weeks, it’s good to take a break.  Let your body recover.  And if you have been on a rigorous fitness plan for a while, you’ll find that you can afford to be bad for a while.  Your body can handle all those calories much better than it could before.

Secondly, I learned to be patient with myself.  I did notice the difference in my energy levels and did understand that if I kept going down this road, I would end up reverting back to my pre-working-out condition.  With that realization, I had every faith in myself that I would pick myself back up, and in turn I did.

You can’t always be perfect.  Don’t force yourself to be.  Learn from it, move on, and realize that tomorrow is a new day.