A Great TED Talk On Clutter

“Clutter is postponed decisions.” – Barbara Hemphill

I absolutely love this brilliant quote by Barbara Hemphill which Kerry Thomas mentions in this TED Talk video, because it is completely true. No matter what type of clutter plagues you, it may be impeding you in a profound way from living a free and peaceful life.

I hate physical clutter and fight it all the time by conducting purges throughout the year. But physical clutter is only one type of clutter, and Ms. Thomas breaks down the different types into the following:

Physical
Mental
Emotional
Digital
Spiritual

Although I feel that I have a good handle on physical clutter in my environment, the other categories are more challenging. I control digital clutter by going through my email inboxes on a daily basis, consolidating images and deleting old text messages on my phone. I also think I have a decent handle on spiritual clutter because I meditate daily, take meditation and yoga courses, and also practice breathwork. I try to forgive those who upset me, and I also make sure to avoid toxic people.

The areas where I get hung up (and I suspect many others do) is with mental and emotional clutter. Ms. Thomas states that mental clutter consists of fears one might have, and it also could stem from the judgmental words of others, while emotional clutter consists of negative thoughts and behaviors. The thing is, I have fears which keep my mind racing, and I also fall into the trap of negative thinking from time to time, especially when I am in the middle of a crisis. So by no means am I completely free of clutter. However, I constantly strive to clear up anything which is depressing me or slowing me down.

It’s incredibly liberating to get rid of items which are damaged, unused, or worn, and it’s also wonderful to let go of all the mental blockades to happiness and freedom. One thing I always try to remind myself is that worrying about things will never bring about a solution. The only thing worry ends up doing is eroding one’s demeanor and sparking anxiety.

I suggest that you think about the different areas in which clutter might be adversely affecting your life, and adopt behaviors which counteract such clutter.

Stacking The Deck

“So…what do you DO?”

This question is incredibly annoying to me, and I cringe every time I hear it. I resent the fact that many people are so quick to assess someone on the basis of what they “do” for a living, as if there are no other dimensions which should be taken into account.

I completely resent the demand to pick one career that defines me. To add insult to injury, when people find out that I am a medical doctor, they struggle with the stereotype of what they expect doctors to be like, in other words, very conservative in dress and demeanor, and without any flavor or personality. Well, I’ve got news for you. I will NEVER be a typical doctor. And please don’t doubt my credentials or schooling. I am NOT a nurse (not that there is anything wrong with this highly respected profession). I am a fully licensed and board certified physician.

However, I do not consider myself to be ONLY one thing, “only” a physician. Yes, I am a board certified physician. But I am also a degreed (Bachelor’s) fitness professional, professional athlete (IFBB Pro), certified nutrition coach, writer, model, brand ambassador and contest prep coach. If that’s too much for one to process, too bad. Because I am ALL of those things, and then some. I am just as much about fitness, bodybuilding and wellness as I am about medicine, and I shouldn’t have to choose one over the others. I am damned proud of what I have accomplished in bodybuilding, especially because I was in my forties when I took things to the next level, not when I was a young whipper-snapper, and I was already established in my medical career. I will not apologize to people who are confused by the sampler plate philosophy by which I live and who don’t believe that it’s possible to be more than one thing. Truth is, I live as what Marci Alboher describes in her book One Person Multiple Careers as a Slash, and I am proud of it. I know it’s unusual, but why is that so hard for people to grasp? I mean, here I am, doing all that I do, switching gears constantly, and sending a message to the world that no one should have to be one-dimensional and boring.

I am honest. I have sass, and I speak my mind. I will NOT hide parts of myself which some overly judgmental people may have a problem with. I am NOT going to apologize for having a sense of humor, for using cuss words here and there (though I don’t use them while seeing patients). I am not going to paint a false picture of who I am. If you don’t like what I am doing, no worries. Move on.

Here’s a message to you if you find that you are someone who is compromising your own vision, dreams, or goals, because you perceive a need to choose one thing to define you. Perhaps you need to re-examine why you are allowing that to occur. If you subscribe to a no limits philosophy, then you would never even consider pulling the reins back. I will always encourage driven people to go for whatever they want, and if it doesn’t fit in with the conventions of one of their chosen careers or hobbies, even better. Break stereotypes and show people what you are made of! Don’t hide all the facets which make you who you are!

“Do You Still Compete?”

First Place Masters Bikini 35+ B Class, Team Universe, July 2013

First Place Masters Bikini 35+ B Class, Team Universe, July 2013

Whenever I hear that question now, I have mixed feelings, which range from a sense of longing for the stage, to complete relief that I have not stepped onto a bodybuilding stage for close to two years now. My short answer to the question, “Do you still compete?” is “Probably not.”

Though I competed in four Pro Bikini events, I was struggling so much with metabolic damage and perimenopause that I often think it wasn’t the best idea to jump onto the Pro stage only 4 months after I won my IFBB Pro Card. That sort of strategy might work for a twenty-something competitor who is at the top of the heap, but it didn’t work for my 47-year old body which had been beaten down physically, emotionally, and mentally. I honestly needed a break, but I pushed through, and as a result had ho-hum placings.

It has taken over three years for my body to return to a level of leanness which I feel comfortable with. I know you might assume that I was in a massive spiral with my weight and body fat, but it wasn’t THAT bad, at least not compared with many other competitors who spiral. Nevertheless, I spent over two years with excess fluff that I was not accustomed to at all, and I couldn’t stand how I looked or felt.

Here’s the breakdown of my stats throughout the years:

From age 21 through 43: Between 104-109 lbs., 11-13% body fat
2010 – Age 44: 112-113 lbs., 12% body fat
2011 – Age 45: 114 lbs., 12% body fat
2012 – Age 46: 115 lbs., 12% body fat
2013 – Age 47: FIRST HALF OF YEAR: 117 lbs., 11% body fat SECOND HALF OF YEAR: 119-126 lbs., 13-18% body fat
2014 – Age 48: 121-125 lbs., 14-18% body fat
2015 – Age 49: 119-123 lbs., 12-15% body fat
2016 – (soon to be 50): 115-119 lbs., 11-13% body fat

It has been a veritable see-saw for me over the years. I also firmly believe that I would not have gone through menopause as early as I have if it had not been for all the metabolic insults I made to my poor body as a result of competing. Since 2013, I have investigated every possible cause for the water retention issues which rather suddenly hit me. This year I have FINALLY been able to rid myself of the excess fluid around my midsection, but somehow that was at the cost of the fullness in my glutes which I had worked so tirelessly to achieve during the years in which I competed.

If you ask me what my plans are for competing, don’t be surprised if I evade the question. I realize with each passing day that competing is no longer something which I rely on to define who I am. I have paid my dues and proven my worth, and though I completely understand why people have a drive to compete, I am no longer chomping at the bit to throw on a ridiculously expensive, blingy bikini and stripper heels and put myself at the mercy of a panel of judges.

Life Is Never Boring

10353289_10202786714921210_2569317334354210816_o

Any time I hear someone complain about how predictable, steady and boring life is, I chuckle, because I have never been able to make that statement about my own life. This doesn’t mean that my life is unstable, but that I have always had so much going on that there hasn’t been time for boredom to set in. I truly am CONSTANTLY doing something, and I have a habit of packing a lot into each day. I understand that some people are stuck in boring jobs, so I am thankful that I love being a physician, and love the environments in which I work. I am fortunate to be involved in pursuits which I am passionate about, and which give me an incredible sense of fulfillment. Whether I am doctoring, writing articles, modeling, doing booth work, creating nutrition and workout regimens, or working on business strategies or branding, so much is going on inside my head that I couldn’t possibly get bored.

I will admit that aspects of my regular daily routine could be seen by others as a bit dull, since I head to the gym around the same time, and I usually spend weeknights writing. However, I typically cram so much stuff in between those activities that I spend the entire day rushing around, trying to get it ALL done. The overachiever in me can’t seem to let go of the notion that the best days are the ones in which all the important items on the to do list are checked off. Even on the weekends, I spend the majority of my time trying to catch up on articles and plans which I wasn’t able to get to during the week.

Another feature of my life is that I wear so many hats that I have to constantly shift gears. Though it puts a lot of pressure on me, I prefer to have a lot of variety in my day, talking about medicine, fitness, skincare, nutrition, and business. My nerves can get pretty frazzled from the endless list of things to do, but I know I wouldn’t be able to deal with sitting around all day with nothing to do. I think partially because I have chosen a number of very interesting fields to pursue, and partially because I seem to attract a lot of movement and energy, circumstances also seem to keep me on my toes, and also keep boredom at bay. About 25 years ago, I remember someone telling me that I moved at a high “burn rate”, that my spirit had a lot of karmic energy which would attract lots of activity and movement. Despite its mystical tone, the statement struck me, and I can honestly say that it fits the cadence of my entire life.

If you find that you are bored with your life, it’s time to examine what might be holding you in a rut. Maybe you watch a lot of television. If so, turn off the television and read a good book. If it has been months or even years since you exercised, join a gym and commit to a regular workout schedule. Go out with friends. If you have pockets of time in which you are looking for things to do, try exploring your city or town by visiting other neighborhood stores, parks and restaurants. Cultivate a new hobby. Volunteer.

You can turn a boring life into a fulfilling, fun, exciting one by doing new things. Have fun!

To Compete, Or Not Compete…That Is The Question

389009

The experience of being onstage at an NPC or IFBB bodybuilding contest is unique and exhilarating, and I miss it. What I don’t miss, though, is the maddening prep which precedes the event, and the constant self-scrutiny which always surfaces during prep. I remember when I couldn’t wait to step onstage again, and would always make sure that I had a contest lined up to prep for, but my priorities have shifted dramatically over the past year. One thing I grew tired of with prepping for contest after contest is that I had to be so disciplined all the time, and was unable to ever let loose and have fun for fear of messing up my prep. A few of my closest friends even remarked that I no longer knew how to have fun, and they were absolutely right. Though I understand that the sacrifice is essential for success onstage, I don’t want to live in a constant state of physical and spiritual deprivation. Life is short, and I certainly don’t want to look at my life and think, look at all that fun stuff I missed!

last Fall, I visited Hungary, Sydney, and Bali, and quickly realized during these trips that despite all my efforts to maintain clean eating and regular exercise, there was no way that I would be able to hold onto a goal of competing once I returned home. I had been struggling with significant metabolic issues, and though I ate relatively clean during my travels, I didn’t follow the seven daily meal regimen I had been accustomed to. Here’s another shocker: I had wine while in Hungary because that country is known for its wine, and I am a wine lover. I wasn’t about to deprive myself because of some orthorexic thought process which in previous years would have had me convinced that the fermented libation was evil. I also had little to no access to weight equipment, and though I made every effort to use exercise equipment whenever it was available to me, I didn’t follow the six-day workout regimen which I follow when at home. Was that a bad thing? I think not. I was able to see parts of the world which I had always wanted to see, and I had an amazing time. Thank goodness I didn’t obsess over what I was supposed to do and complain about the lack of resources in these countries.

arrival
Though I always want to win, I am not going to have a nervous breakdown over the fact that my placings as a Pro have been underwhelming. I don’t feel pressured to step onstage, and I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with retiring completely from competing if that is what I decide to do. Yet I still get that question, “When’s your next show?” One person (NOT a competitor) went so far as to say, “Hey girl, you need to step up your game!”, which I thought was extremely rude and presumptuous. I am tired of trying to balance a very busy schedule with two-a-day cardio sessions and double training. At the peak of my contest prep, I was training FIVE HOURS daily, six to seven days per week. Every part of my body hurt. I did plyometrics with a foot strain, and trained nonstop with hip bursitis, sciatica, a rotator cuff tear, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, and a wicked skin reaction to the latex corsets which I would wear. I have been through the paces and have paid my dues. I AM good enough, I just choose to focus my efforts on showing off my brain now. So please don’t tell me that I need to keep running in the race when I already won.

In case you are wondering if working towards a personal best and finally winning my Pro Card was worth all the sacrifice, I can say without hesitation that it absolutely was worth it. Would I do it again? Absolutely. But I will no longer sacrifice balance in my life for the sake of getting to the next level. I have come to terms with the fact that I won’t ever qualify for Olympia, and to be honest, I wouldn’t want that pressure anyway. Life is good, and I have settled into a really nice groove.

Some very well-meaning people in the industry have warned me that the competition in the Pro ranks is getting even stiffer, and I have seen proof of that with my own eyes. Let me be very clear: I am NOT going to get myself all worked up and feel self-conscious because other Pros have raised the stakes. I am quite content to avoid the stage if need be. To be honest, the vast majority of IFBB Pros don’t even compete, so I feel no remorse over my casual attitude towards competing in future events.

Life is about balance, and the way I choose to maintain balance now is by working on my careers, passions and talents fully, without being distracted by notions of returning to the stage. Yes, I love the bodybuilding stage. But I also love my life and the freedom which I reclaimed after shifting my priorities.

Join Happify! It’s Amazing!

happify-now

This incredible site helps to conquer negative thoughts and feel happier through fun, daily, science-based activities and games. It is an excellent way to truly improve the quality of your life. I tried the activities which only took a few minutes to do, and I really enjoyed them. It was like sprinkling happiness on my day!

On the Happify site, the home page says:

“Reduce Stress and Lower Anxiety
Improve Relationships and Gain Confidence
Feel Happier and Embrace Life More”

…and these statements are all accurate in my humble opinion. The program is designed so that it suggests activities based on your profile and goals. Honestly, this program is genius!

Get started today by clicking on the link below! It’s free, it’s fun, and it will make you HAPPIER!

http://www.happify.com/o/lpr/1?srid=fitposs&c1=PCF