Happy Moments

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Copyright : anyaberkut

All too often, we carry around feelings of negativity and allow them to color our days. If we are feeling anxious, dejected, or angry, then we will create that environment for the day. And then what happens? we may say, “well it figures” or “I knew this was gonna be a crappy day”, because it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, we will have to deal with bad days every now and then, but if we can start every single day with good intentions and a positive mental attitude, we’ve won half the battle against challenges and upsets.

So this is what I want you to do today, especially if your day is especially frustrating or challenging:

I want you to call to mind one of the happiest moments in your life, a moment in which you felt pure joy, pride, elation. Bring it into view. Remember how you felt.

Now I want you to carry that memory with you throughout your day. Allow yourself to bask in that moment, to reminisce. See how it changes your attitude towards the day. Take note of how you respond to minor irritations today.

You know something? You can take that happiness, carry it with you every day. If your happy moment had something to do with an accomplishment, then allow that feeling of pride to shine through, to empower you today.

We all have the power to transform our days, our lives. Simply by harnessing positive, happy thoughts, we become powerful, we become strong.

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My Just Float Experience

What is Floating – Just Float, The World’s Largest Float Therapy Center

Yesterday I had a pretty remarkable experience, floating for an hour in a room devoid of light and external noise. The 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt which saturated the pleasant, tepid water caused my body to float effortlessly. Since I meditate daily, I welcomed the release that came with being untethered by my senses, gently hovering in a state of incredible relaxation.

For those of you who are wondering what the process is, you shower before entering the chamber to remove oils, lotions and pollutants from your skin and hair. Then you step into the tub which is softly illuminated. Once you lie in the water and adjust to your body’s buoyancy, you can turn off the lights and allow the soothing music to lull you into a state of stillness. The music fades away, leaving your breathing as the only steady sound.

At the end of your session, the music and lights slowly return. You exit the tub and rinse off the salty water.

Forty dollars (intro price) and an hour later, I definitely think the experience was well worth it.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, and you would like to try floating, please click on this link: http://justfloat.com/

There’s Always Time To Breathe

breathing

As I was speaking with one of my patients earlier today, I was struck by the fact that she said she had no time to do anything, and that her work schedule was so stacked that she felt like she was unraveling. I suggested that she take a moment at some point in her day to just sit still and BREATHE, without any task or agenda. Her reply? “Oh, I don’t even have time for that!”

It seemed unreasonable to me that this woman wouldn’t even take a few SECONDS for herself just to breathe, take momentary break from the maddening rush of her life, and just be in the moment. It’s not that people can’t stop and breathe, they WON’T, because they have been led to believe that remaining on the hamster wheel of life all the time is a necessary sacrifice for all the success they hope to achieve. The sad truth is that those brief moments of stillness enable the spirit to reset and restore balance to mind and body as well.

If you are like my patient, you are doing yourself a major disservice by constantly moving and not allowing yourself to rest, even for a few seconds. Even the most creative and driven people in the world find time to enjoy their surroundings, pause in the midst of chaos, and realign with themselves. All you will do if you insist on going full guns all the time, without a moment to rest, is burn out your adrenal glands, damage your immune system, and set the tone for depression and anxiety.

For only a few seconds a day, you can enjoy the gift of being in the moment. What’s even better is that you can indulge in such moments throughout the day, between projects, meetings and chores. You can even do it upon waking, right before you start the ignition in your car, while standing in line at the grocery store, or just about anywhere.

The Five Keys To Optimal Brain Health

Sharpens-Your-Brain

By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Even if your genetics put you at risk for developing dementia, there are numerous lifestyle and behavior adjustments which you can make in order to protect brain function and fight dementia. The five keys listed below are proven to improve brain health and keep your mind vital and sharp for decades.

1. MOVE YOUR BODY

Scientific research has proven that overall physical health is closely linked to brain health. Regular exercise aids in the maintenance of a healthy weight range, normal cholesterol levels, while also optimizing blood flow throughout the body and the brain and supporting the growth of new brain cells.

The benefits of physical health stem not only from regular exercise, but also from other good health practices. Support your brain’s health by doing the following:

• Exercise at least 30 minutes daily to relieve stress.
• Make sure to get between seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
• Refrain from using tobacco.
• See your doctor regularly.
• Maintain a healthy weight.

2. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

Research studies indicate that diets which are low in saturated fats and cholesterol, and rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients like lutein and vitamin E, may have a protective effect on brain cells and overall brain health.

Brain-healthy dietary changes:

• Opt for healthy fats which are found in olive oil and fatty fish like salmon. Avoid saturated and trans fats.
• Consume a diet which incorporates milk, eggs, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, and dark leafy greens like spinach, all of which are rich in vitamin E. Vitamin E is an important nutrient which supports brain health. If you can’t get vitamin E from foods, you can take it in supplement form.
• Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, aiming for nine fist-sized servings each day. Select colorful fruits like cranberries, blueberries and tomatoes which are packed with powerful anti-inflammatory compounds known as polyphenols. Keep the skin on fruits and vegetables to maximize their nutritional benefits.
• Add lutein. Lutein is a potent antioxidant which is critical for eye and brain health. Foods which are rich in lutein include spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, egg yolks, corn, and peas. You can also take lutein in supplement form.

3. EXERCISE YOUR BRAIN

Extensive research has proven that the brain continues to learn new skills and information throughout life, and benefits from frequent intellectual stimulation. Make sure to pursue new activities, education and games to challenge your mind. Read books to elevate your knowledge base.

How to stimulate your brain:

• Engage in regular sessions of a mental activity you enjoy, such as reading, word games such as crossword puzzles, or learning a foreign language.
• Get into a daily habit of learning a new word or fact.
• Master a new skill or subject each year.
• Manage stress and balance your energy by meditating. Meditation may help to reduce stress and body inflammation by soothing the vagus nerve, an important nerve which controls the body’s immune response.

4. NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS

Though we know that relationships with family and friends are key factors in a person’s happiness, regular social interaction promotes the formation of new brain cells and aids in brain repair. One study revealed that men and women who had the most social interaction had less than half the rate of memory loss as those who were the least socially involved. By visiting friends and family and being involved in community activities, you will protect brain health.

Social brain boosters:

• Spend time with your family and friends regularly, and make them a priority.
• Volunteer for an organization which surrounds a cause which you are passionate about.
• Work for as long as you can, and for as long as you feel motivated to do so.
• Join clubs and become involved in religious or spiritual activities which resonate with you.

5. BALANCE YOUR NEUROTRANSMITTERS

Brain function relies on important molecules known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitter levels affect mood, behavior, cognitive function, social function, digestion, sleep, weight regulation, and many other processes.

The problem with current society is that the vast majority of people have overly stimulated sympathetic nervous systems, which over time can drain the body of serotonin. The excitatory part of the nervous system dominates once the inhibitory neurotransmitters are depleted, resulting in anxiety and an inability to “wind down”. Eventually, even the excitatory neurotransmitters such as serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine and GABA are also depleted, and severe depression or chronic fatigue usually develop.

Conventional drugs cannot replenish these neurotransmitters, and in fact, tend to cause depletion of the neurotransmitters. This is the reason why some depression medications do not work on some individuals. The good news is that supplementation with amino acids can help to replenish deficient neurotransmitters.
How To Nourish Neurotransmitters:
• Eat a healthy diet. Neurotransmitter imbalance is aggravated by poor diet. Diets high in protein supply the brain with the amino acids it needs to replenish neurotransmitter levels.
• Consume branched chain amino acids to ensure a rich supply of neurotransmitter precursors.

REFERENCES
Neurotransmitter Assessment Brings Light to Management of Psychiatric Problems
Monday, 15 August 2005 00:59By Erik L. Goldman | Editor in Chief – Vol. 6, No. 3. Fall, 2005

“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.

To Compete, Or Not Compete…That Is The Question

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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.

Say Thank You

thank you
I truly believe that many people these days lack manners. It is relatively rare to hear those under the age of 40 say “thank you” when a gift or favor is bestowed upon them, and utterances such as “please” and “excuse me” also seem to be increasingly rare. Is this new generation of rudeness and self-entitlement here to stay? Failing to show gratitude is, in my humble opinion, a major character flaw. How hard is it to say THANK YOU, when someone does something nice for you? I don’t know how others were raised, but I was raised to say thank you even if I was given a gift I hated. My brain is programmed to say thank you whenever someone gives me something. Yet I have repeatedly witnessed younger individuals accept gestures and gifts without saying those two small words that carry so much positive energy.

Another thing I am hearing with less frequency is “excuse me” or “pardon me” if someone accidentally bumps another person. Some incredibly rude people have almost mowed me over because they weren’t paying attention to where they were walking or pushing their shopping carts. When this occurs, I can’t help but loudly say, “EXCUSE YOU!”, because I want them to at least be aware of how rude they are. This will at times get a “sorry” or “pardon me”, but at other times, the person angrily continues, spreading negative energy and bumping into people and store displays. I think some people honestly don’t know how to be happy, and that they cling to their anger and misery because it is all they know.

If you have a habit of neglecting to use the phrases mentioned above, try using them to see if they reframe how you see the world. Slow down and stop being so angry at the world. Be nice to people and appreciate their efforts when they do something nice. Express gratitude and spread joy. It’s amazing how powerful and healing saying thank you can be.