In the darker times of our lives, we all ask ourselves the same question: Why me? When everything falls apart, when tragedy strikes, we ask the Universe: “Why is this happening to ME?”
Somehow, in the best times of our lives, when we’re faced with love and abundance and the opportunity to achieve our dreams, we ask the same thing: “Why would this happen to ME?”
Light or dark, abundance or despair, why things happen TO us. But things don’t happen to us at all: they happen FOR us. Tragedy gives way to growth, challenge inspires breakthroughs, and even the deepest cracks allow the light to shine in and through.
When awful things happen, we grow through them and become stronger, smarter, and ironically, more open and honest versions of ourselves. When we’re just so.over.it., we become more authentic and loving and are able to live true.
The reason bad things happen to good people is to make them even better. To prepare them for what’s next, and create a soul capable of giving more of themselves to the world and encouraging those around them to do the same. There’s a reason the most beautiful, open, loving, and courageous leaders were bred from hardship, hatred and turmoil; it made them better.
Whatever is going on in your life, embrace it; you are growing. Your are being prepared for what’s next, and becoming who you’re meant to be.
I know I tend to preach a lot about self-love, positive vibes, inner peace, happiness, and all that soulful woo-woo stuff that not everyone is comfortable with. To be honest, my life has radically changed so much since I’ve embraced myself fully – mind, body, and spirit – that I can’t help but want to share that with everyone around me. I’ll preach it from the rooftops, cause that self-love shit is straight up contagious.
Whether you’re on the self-love train or not, the idea of personal growth is a lot easier to contemplate. It’s visible, tangible, and real; personal growth is so contagious that, no matter its roots, it affects your life in its entirety. If you have tremendous growth with health or weight loss, it’s pretty much impossible for you to not cultivate a calmer mind, open heart and greater love towards the self along with your new body. If you grow tremendously on the mental or spiritual side, you likely find yourself making better choices for your physical self; sleeping more, eating better, and paying attention to your body’s internal cues.
A friend of mine posted this posts’ image and I completely fell in love. When you meet someone truly at peace with themselves, they exhibit patience, health, happiness, and love. The positive, quiet, and calm characteristics that comprise a loving, beautiful soul.
Just like positivity shines through, negativity can’t seem to contain itself either. Anger, spitefulness, jealousy, cruelty, aggression; they’re the negative, chaotic, and loud. We’ve all had a customer or coworker flip the f out on us for no apparent reason and go off on some rage-fueled tangent that makes zero sense. And we all recognize the fact that this has nothing to do with me. That anger or hate or rage are clearly coming from a deep, dark place within themselves.
I’m sending you all good vibes and the strength to deal with the negativity that is inherent to this life and this world.
With such an image and photo-based social media world, it’s nearly impossible not to focus on the physical. How we l0ok, how others look, how we & others look as they cross the finish line with insanely quick times and big smiles. We also naturally focus on the comparison between Them and ourselves, and it’s difficult not to feel slow, sloppy and in adequate.
In the superficial haze of it all, we forget that we are real people – with real responsibilities, day jobs, families and problems. We’re not pro athletes with open schedules to train, eat and rest like champs. We’re not fitness models that train & play with dehydration and carb cycles to get the perfect abs for this shoot or that show. We never know the circumstances of another person’s life, and it’s inherently illogical to compare our lives, bodies and progress to those of strangers.
Yet we do. This is a common, underlying pillar of social media in the health and fitness sector. Try this – look at me, I used it! Or Do this workout/exercise/juice fast – look at me, I did it! While we can look at you and see your taut abs or sculpted arms, we don’t know your true routine. We can’t know the time you have to work out, what kind of day job you have, or the genes you’re blessed with.
Everyone is different; different shapes, genes, bodies, lifestyles and metabolisms. It’s impossible for one thing – aside from simple healthy, wholesome eating – to replicate the results from one person to the next.
Personally, I have always struggled with comparison in real and social media life. I’m a naturally competitive person, and it frustrates me that I may work extremely hard but still not look the way someone else does. But the hard work always makes me look like what it should: a better, stronger, and more confident version of myself. I will always look like me; the only way to find that self love and confidence is to accept yourself as you are, and then work towards they type of ‘you’ you desire to become.
I had a tough lesson in gratitude this holiday season, as I faced another new year as a full-grown, college-educated adult with a 9-5 and the responsibilities and stress that come with it. Lately, I’ve been freaking out about getting older; about not making as much as I envisioned while I was in school; about not having enough time to work out, or hike, or surf anymore because I work five solid days a week.
In the middle of my rant, my aunt cut me off and called me out for lacking gratitude for what I do have. A job, an education, family, friends, a beautiful place to live – all straight-up blessings, and I was complaining about the strings attached to them.
I’ve learned a lot about gratitude in the past, and made strides to put it into practice. So I was surprised by how lost I had become after a few stressful months and life changes – how easy it is to get caught up in the little things and forget the blessings bestowed upon us.
When we express gratitude, we attract even bigger blessings. Which is probably why a lot of little things hadn’t been working out lately; I’d been putting all that negative energy into the universe and drawing more back in.
Since that conversation with my aunt, I’ve been making a daily effort to be grateful; when I wake up, before I go to sleep, when someone cuts me off in traffic, when I feel angry or sad or frustrated with life. It’s crazy how a small mindset shift can completely change a day, or event, or memory. It’s all about or perceptions; they shape who we are and what we receive from this world.
The New Year seems to spark an onslaught of misguided change; as if a fresh start is what we all need to become better, smarter, and skinnier versions of ourselves. Social media and the press are overwhelmingly touting weight loss challenges and clean eating cleanses to ‘kick start’ a healthy new year.
I fully support healthiness, as long as it’s actually healthy – on mental, social, spiritual and physical levels. It’s important that we take healthful measures because we love ourselves, not because we don’t think we’re good enough.
Secondly, I think many of us forget to reflect on the past year’s lessons and blessings before nose-diving into the next. I prefer to start the year with gratitude and love, not resolutions and ultimatums. Expressing thankfulness for the past year in its entirety is half of the New Year process that many forget. While it’s great to look forward, our pasts are what shape our perspectives and who we truly are.
Don’t get too lost in the cacophony of resolutions and forget to be grateful for your beautiful self. That you’re here, and present, and blessed with a fresh start.
Falling in love with marathons is something I never expected to take over my life. My first affair with them was painful and abusive, and I was positive that our next run would end in similar tragedy. Yet, I gave the marathon one more chance to win my heart – and it did, with grace and gusto.
I’ll be totally honest: my first marathon was a painful, long, torturous disaster – or at least parts of it were. Running marathons is an endless cycle because you get super excited about running and training and can’t stop yourself from shouting it from the rooftops and bringing it up at every possible social event, because it is so. exciting. Next, you’re at the start line and pumped up by all the other runners. Then, you breeze through the first 12-18 miles and feel like a strong, sexy badass that could run a thousand marathons.
Finally, the tough part starts to kick in. Your muscles go from a dull, manageable ache to a sharp pain. You start to feel some serious burn on that muscle you strained a few months ago, or even that toe/ankle you broke a few years ago. And then, somewhere around mile 22-24, your bones begin to hurt and collapsing from some injury/death sounds promising and peaceful. Then you’re near the finish line, and there’s tons of strangers cheering you on and you can’t believe you made it this freakin’ far and you get pumped up by adrenaline and cross that damn finish line.
Finally, you get your t-shirt and medal you ran all those miles for and feel like such a rockstar you rush home to sign up for yet another marathon.
This, my friends, is how it happens – at least at the first affair.
My second marathon was much different. I was nursing a sprained ankle and had just come off crutches. I probably shouldn’t have ran at all, but even the cries of friends, family and future consequence couldn’t keep us apart.
I toed the start line with high hope and found that the marathon loved me, too. I breezed through the first half without even walking. I found an easy, natural rhythm and skated by the next ten miles, stopping when the pain was causing me to limp and resuming my pace when it subsided. I’m pretty old-fashioned, so I left the painkillers and motrin at home. I remember being shocked as I crossed mile 22, and even more surprised as I eased down the hill at mile 24 and cruised through the finish line with only a slight limp and even less pain.
Now, marathons and I have quite a torrid love affair going on. I feel strong, sexy, happy, and healthy every single day. I look forward to continuing our romance with two half-marathons in the next six months and another Honolulu marathon at the end of the new year. I find myself eating healthier, sleeping better, and making wiser choices without much effort or thought.
It’s well worth the incessant hunger, constant eating, chafing, cramps, sprains, strains, pains, and struggle. Because I love running marathons – and marathons (for now) seem to love me, too.
Here’s a few running memes to make you laugh & relate 🙂 Happy running!
Vegetarianism isn’t an extreme that involves chalky bakery products and feminist hippies. You don’t have to sentence yourself to a lifetime of chomping on romaine lettuce and feeling awkward in group settings and holidays. Vegetarianism is a beautiful way of living that is better for your body, wallet, animals, and the planet. Yup, that’s right – it’s cheaper, healthier, and damn easy to do, especially given its popularity today. Um, sorry, but even Beyoncé went vegan – and anyone who’s done it will probably tell you that it wasn’t that hard and they felt like a rockstar.
Personally, nixing meat makes me feel lighter, healthier, faster, and more wholesome. I easily get plenty of protein. I don’t eat too many carbs. I’m currently training for a marathon and have barely any issues with tiredness, recovery, fatigue or indigestion, as many first-time marathoners do. And my diet is so cheap and easy I barely have to think about it.
The most important thing to remember about being vegetarian or vegan is this: nobody is perfect. It’s okay to slip up or fall off the wagon. Never forget that every month, day or even meal spent cruelty-free makes a difference.
Here’s a few of the plant-based proteins I always keep on hand to whip together meals. The easiest thing is to cook the things you’re used to, but just replace them with plant-based options:
Veggie burgers, tempeh, lentils, mock ground beef crumbles, tofu, and every kind of bean on the planet.
For recipes, it’s great to use “meaty” vegetables like butternut squash, mushrooms and even avocados because their thick texture easily makes up for the lack of meat.
If you’re not vegan, the easiest thing is to snag some pasta/salad/quesadilla with cheese. If you are, get creative: I’ll often order side dishes, such as steamed broccoli, brown rice, and a baked potato and have an impressive meal for a lower price and save loads of calories, fat, sodium and sugar.
Another great option is dragging your carnivorous friends to ethnic restaurants, especially Vietnamese, Thai, Mediterranean and Indian food, which have dishes that are traditionally vegetarian and/or vegan. My ultimate favorite is Lebanese food, followed quickly by Vietnamese Tofu Pho and Vegetable Sour Soup.
Here’s a few infographics on the benefits of eating cruelty free 🙂 Have a great day!