Max is one week old

Ever since working with my first pregnant client,  I have observed how hard those first weeks postpartum can be for new mothers on a physical and emotional level. As such I had planned to not only document Max' growing up, but wanted to see how I felt week-to-week in those six weeks that are so crucial for healing but which are also without any support on the medical side and often any assistance on the logistical end if you live - like I do - in the US/ NYC without that proverbial village or your family close by. 

In comparison, women in Germany have access to a midwife that is assigned to them for six weeks to help them maneuver questions such as nursing, sleeping and self-care, whereas here, these services could probably be summed up in the work of postpartum doulas or babynurses who are difficult to afford especially as an entrepreneur that is taking a pay cut for the duration of their choosing, while recovering from childbirth. A friend in Germany who is in the same business as I am, was paid close to $2,000/ month for a full year of maternity leave. It makes me weep.

Anyway, I digress. We've made it to a week. Seven days ago, I was sitting in a hospital bed with an epidural in my back, had tracked some of my runners in the NYC Half Marathon and taken a nap. We even thought we'd watch a quick episode of "Call the midwife". But transition was fast approaching. I was on an IV of pitocin and they had broken my water... (*I can tell you my birth story in more frightening detail in person - I'll just focus on the positives here). Six hours later my doctor checked and it was time to push. 

I believe her exact words were: "I've only ever seen one woman push that child out in super fast pace of two contractions and she was an Olympic rower". Didn't she know who she was talking to? "Roma, this is not a competition..." Yeah, right. "I have to tell you that she tore BADLY!" Ok, maybe not two then. 

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Max came out 30 minutes later and he was perfect. Since then, he's taught me how to breastfeed him, we've passed the diaper test of soiling as many diapers per day as he is days old. He took a first sponge bath, gained an inch in length, met his pediatrician and managed to sleep through a friend's party as well as a few coffee outings. Some of my interactions with him feel incredibly intuitive, some others make me scratch my head. Like: how much can a little boy of 7.5 lbs possibly drink? 

As for my recovery, there are two things that hurt and are making moving around a little more difficult. One is the tearing that I couldn't avoid despite admitting defeat to the Olympic rower... The other is a self-inflicted (and self diagnosed) psoas strain, possibly from pushing. The latter occasionally robs me off breath and knocks the wind out of me. Both of them hurt laughing. Either will make it hard to resume running as a form of exercise in the foreseeable future. 

And you know what?

I.DON'T.CARE. I have just spent the most incredible week getting to know a person that we made. All we do at this point is dictated by his schedule and his needs. I have plans on the horizon and I have no doubts that I will get there. But how... that remains to be seen. 

One week in it is hard to believe that Chris and I were ever just the two of us. 

Almost 32 weeks - still going strong-ish

As I type this, it is the date that I should have been born (many years ago). I would have been an Aquarius instead of a Scorpio/ Saggittarius cusp baby. But I had my own mind, coupled with my mother's rather stressful relocation from Poland to Germany, I suppose. So, I was delivered at 8 weeks early, and 1.6 kg or barely 4 lbs and immediately flown out to a specialized NICU about 60 miles from my hometown. 

My baby boy is the size of a bunch of asparagus right now, according to the www.thebump.com app or the size of a coconut if you believe www.babycenter.com and making strides towards hitting the 4lbs himself. Grow, baby, grow. 

As mentioned in my blogpost about asthma, my premature arrival is probably to blame for my wonky lungs. When I'm in a positive state of mind, I see it as a blessing that I have been able to do what I do despite this disadvantage but sometimes I wonder what else could have been possible with properly developed lungs inside the womb. I guess we will never know. One thing we know however, is that despite my lungs, I have claimed my guaranteed entry into the NYC Marathon 2017 and will attempt to run it 7 months postpartum. 

My lungs are one issue we have been monitoring closely over the past 8 months along with my iron deficiency and unfortunately blood in my urine. It's unclear why it pops up but it hasn't presented an issue and iron can luckily be supplemented, so I have been on a daily routine of prune juice and probiotics before breakfast (to deal with other pregnancy related side effects), then coffee and any regular dairy like yoghurt, then leaving at least a 2 hour window before taking my prenatal and Floradix with a glass of grapefruit juice because Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron, whereas dairy products and caffeine, can block it. In the evening I usually take one calcium tablet dissolved in water since the baby now needs an extra 250mg of calcium from me to develop his skeletal structure and having gone through a near stress fracture, I am not willing to enter into that kind of deficit before labor, delivery and postpartum breastfeeding when women are often even more likely to develop osteoporosis. 

In addition to the above mentioned supplements, I have been seeing my acupuncture practitioner religiously from 3.5 weeks pregnant to "give the baby some ooomph" as she put it, to now when he dances around my belly each time she inserts a needle (elsewhere!). Acupuncture has been essential for minor aches and pains but mainly for emotional wellbeing and to keep my sugar cravings in check and combat fatigue. My practitioner reckoned that my spleen had been "tired" so she treated it and my cravings for non-stop caffeine and hourly donuts dissipated and made way for healthier choices. At least most of the time.
I can not stress the wonders of acupuncture enough for hormone related issues that we women face. 

That brings us to my plans for the next few weeks. I had a conversation with a friend in Germany who is due in February and she couldn't believe that there was no subsidized, paid maternity leave for entrepreneurs in the US. She will be taking one year off from work, just like all my other friends (and still they think that more time with the baby would be better), and occasionally I weep thinking of the privileges that one enjoys back home. 

Alas, I'm here and love my job and my clients. So the plan will be to work as long as I can, just like everyone else and only stop working if and when I can't handle it physically anymore. Then, depending on my type of delivery, I'll treat the comeback like an athlete. When my body tells me it's fine, I will come back part-time and delegate more than I demonstrate. Should I need more time, I'll have to take it. 

It's a big unknown for the time being but I know that I'm doing my best on this end to facilitate the best recovery from a purely physical point of view. As opposed to what people may think, none of my physical routine is rooted in vanity. I had always said before pregnancy that I would stay as active as I could and it has kept me in good shape to hopefully continue what I love to do after the baby is born. 

These last 30+ weeks have taught me even more resilience, surrender, discipline and being good to my body, than anything else. Having the constant reminder in the form of jabs and kicks that I was doing this for someone other than myself has been good, since I am very capable of taking on too much and digging myself into a hole. 

Emotionally I have shielded myself from negative influences and accepted more that would have otherwise had me bang my head against the wall in stubbornness and frustration. Pregnancy has unearthed so much doubt, joy, inspiration, motivation, grief, love, aggression, fear and bliss that it can be a lot to handle at times. It has also shown me from day to day how there is an upside to most 'downside days' and usually it follows promptly. 

I am not sure what motherhood will bring. I can't wait to meet this little man and be a parent and have him show me ways that stretch far beyond my current imagination. 

So stay tuned and until very soon! xx 

 

Running the 5 Boroughs - Brooklyn

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When I go running in Brooklyn and don't have to pay attention to my watch I sometimes let myself get lost in my surroundings. We don't have trails like the Pacific Northwest and it's hard to find new corners in Prospect Park but we have streets, that change every day, every season, every moment. Did you know... ... that when you run through the Hasidic Jewish parts of Brooklyn along Bedford Avenue they sell live chickens on Hewes street on Monday nights (to be slaughtered?), that a block down they have a community sukkah for eating in during the holiday and the whole block smells of hay? That you can buy the fur adorned winter men's hats in a construction camper 3 blocks down from Hewes Street? That some of the stores have separate entrances for men and women with big signs indicating such?

That the Jewish children are afraid of cute vizsla pups and vizsla pups are deadly afraid of their tricycles, and that on Willoughby Street, everything suddenly ends...  Ringlets turn to durags, no dogs turn into pitbulls, the thick flesh coloured stockings disappear in favour of bare legs and mini skirts and the hushed shuffles home make room for girls' pearl adorned hairstyles rhythmically clicking with their skipping on the sidewalk; as loud hip hop music blares from cars with their doors open wide, outside of the projects...

Did you know...

... that when you run out to Redhook and briefly close your eyes, it feels like you are really by the sea. The Navy Yard fence casts a symmetrical shadow on the cycling path which can put you in the zone as it flickers before your eyes. On hot and humid summer days, the cool salty air lends some respite but on cooler fall days, the winds are unrelenting blowing as headwinds any direction you go.

Did you know...

... that dodging strollers in Fort Greene is a perfect preparation to dodging runners going up Verazzano bridge in the marathon, that my neighbors put on the most spectacular marathon party at mile 8.5, that the Prospect Park loop lacks a 3 mile marker, and that Mount Prospect Park is the second highest point above sea level - in Brooklyn - at 200 ft behind Greenwood Cemetery the second largest cemetery in the United States (220ft).

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Did you know...

... that almost half of the NYC marathon route runs through Brooklyn, that it was the largest city in the United States at one point, that almost half of the population speak a different language than English at home with the most popular being: Spanish or Spanish Creole, Russian, Chinese, Yiddish, French Creole, Italian, Hebrew, Polish, French (including Patois, Cajun), and Arabic and that it hast the coolest Half Marathon of all five boroughs (because it's in May, super fast, ends in Coney Island and not too close to any other major race events... ). And to see all that all it takes, is a few miles of easy Brooklyn running... You gotta love NYC!

 

How to relax as a type A person (woman)

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So this past month I ran 229 miles, that is almost 370km and more than we ran as a team during Hood to Coast. I look at the number and I'm proud, happy, tired and... ready to relax. But it has also been busier with work and particularly on Saturdays, which meant that my long run days have coincided with two workshops and a regular class. Being type A, I pushed through and continued on with only one day per week off. Until it caught up with me. how to relax

So today, as of now... I am taking the day off. A Wednesday, while everyone else is working. I will change into comfy pants, read, watch TV, eat Nutella on toast, maybe some ice-cream in the middle of the day and since it's grey and rainy outside I may not even set foot outside.

This made me think about why this seems so crazy and after sending out emails and following up with people this morning, I've decided as a last task of today to write a blog post: "how to relax as a type A person."

Many women I know cringe at the word 'type A' but I see it as a description of the do-it-all women of today that don't really have a different option. They run households, they run errands, they run marathons. They tend to running noses, they run companies, and they run out of steam just as everyone else.

Not being active seems equal to being lazy and wasting time.

But it doesn't have to be! Me time lets us re-charge, rewire and re-evaluate. I have a friend who sometimes goes into hiatus and doesn't communicate with anyone but instead tends to what her body and mind need.

Here is my list of things that I do on a me day:

  • I don't take 500 showers and LOVE it. On a normal day I now shower 3 times or more so not having to do that feels fun.
  • I eat all day because I don't have to time it around my marathon training or training clients.
  • I finally pluck my eyebrows ...
  • I nap, a lot! And cuddle my dog.
  • I watch terrible TV or all the Youtube videos I meant to watch but didn't get around to.
  • I try not to talk on the phone or email too much because I usually talk to people a lot.
  • I don't move much... I run, train, run to clients all the time. So even though it's unhealthy today I will sit on my butt and not do anything.

There's my list! Tomorrow I'll get back on the waggon... 10 mile tempo run and 4 appointments.

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What do you do when you have some time to take for yourself?

I look forward to hearing it.

Roma

Mourning Summer - Welcoming Fall

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So I promised a post on the changing of the season. In the Northern hemisphere, particularly in NYC we have suddenly been hit with temperatures around 13C (in the 50s F) after finally getting a few of those hot and steamy over 30C (90s F) humid days in late August and early September. New Yorkers like to complain but I feel like this year we have the right to. Our winter (along with most of the Northeast) was so excruciatingly harsh and long that it filled news segments for weeks. They even coined new terms/ hashtags such as #polarvortex. From what I know polar vortexes as opposed to hurricanes, don't get named. I think they should. This winter felt like a Cruella Deville and according to some friends who have taken the time to look ahead and check the weather for Winter 2014/15, it will get worse. Maybe we should name it Voldemort.

I digress... I checked the farmer's almanac to see if we are indeed getting a worse winter:

  • Thicker than normal corn husks
  • Heavy and numerous fogs during August
  • Insects marching a bee line rather than meandering
  • The squirrel gathers nuts early to fortify against a hard winter
  • Frequent halos or rings around sun or moon forecast numerous snow falls.

I've never checked the corn husks nor the halos, I don't remember how much fog we had in August but I think there was some, insects are making a beeline for our dog food, and squirrels in NY gather a lot more than just nuts... But it sounds like Winter is coming and it won't be an easy one.

Ok, so let's face it. From here on it will only get colder, darker sooner and soon we will see Xmas decorations in stores.

For us this means, typically less energy, more food (it's harvest season), less motivation to move and generally a heavier feeling emotionally.

Fall is a reminder that we need to be flexible to stay healthy and balanced during the winter months that are coming. Putting on clothes for any outside activity takes more time and effort and so does getting to and from where we need to be. We should try to finish unfinished projects, clear away clutter and debris, set extra food and fuel aside, and make sure that we are physically and emotionally prepared for the cold, dark months to come. [Some of you will stop reading now.]

So how do we combat this general feeling of heaviness?

Emotionally: Find ways to recharge and reflect. This is you time. Whether it is for 10 minutes or 2 hours, make time for it un-apologetically and regularly. Meditation, listening to music, walking and taking in the rays of sunshine, coffee with friends etc. Practice letting go of negative emotions and instead embrace a feeling of gratitude.

Physically: Keep the momentum going. You probably had more activity happening during the summer. Use these transition months to keep at it. Any physical base that you build now, will benefit your fitness in the winter and make you feel less sluggish because you already feel fit.

At home: Organize, de-clutter, fall clean. The end of the year is when things get hectic, visitors come over, presents need to be wrapped, and there is less light and felt time in the day to do that. Do it now and enjoy your spacious beautiful and open living space. Be OCD and watch everyone else squirm come November.

In the Kitchen: do a cleanse now. Who said that you only do that in the spring? I know you've probably spent a lot of your summer drinking and eating BBQ. Embrace the full farmers markets and make healthy and hearty stews, cut out sugar and processed flours out before the holidays. Snack on nuts and seeds and prepare chai teas to keep you warm. According to Ayurveda we are entering Vata season. This article lists foods to take in during the season to balance the dosha: http://www.mapi.com/ayurvedic-knowledge/healthy-eating-habits/vata-balancing-diet-for-fall.html

Things not to do: overloading the system with cooling foods (go easier on the ice-cubes and start sipping tea instead), shocking the system with early morning exercise like you did in summer (you need time to adapt back to the later sunrise), skimping on layers ('tis the season for colds and flus), and lastly stopping your exercise outside (being outside builds a healthy immune system and getting sun now will save you money on supplementing Vitamin D).

Let me know how it goes.

xxR

 

Why I hate burpees - and you should, too

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If you are a fitness minded person it is safe to say that you have come across burpees. The definition of a burpee in English is the following: a physical exercise consisting of a squat thrust made from and ending in a standing position.

Usually when we are asked to do them, we do a push up then jump forward from the plank position, we add a jump squat and then jump back to plank. Usually we get past the first few and they resemble that original image that we have of them. Once we get past a certain number, our form gets lost and we get tired. The push up in itself is hard, we forget our form in the jump forward and definitely in the jump back. And forget about the jump squat. If we manage to lift our arms over head while huffing and puffing that probably feels like an achievement.

Sound familiar?

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So why do I hate this exercise so much? For a number of reasons:

  1. Burpees are usually expected to be done speedy within a time frame of e.g. 60 seconds. If it's a bootcamp you will have an instructor breathing down your neck and hurrying you along while counting down the time.
  2. Anyone who has been asked to jump forward in yoga has received a lot of pointers on how to do it to land softly and safely. But when asked to do burpees, there are no cues. I have seen people jump and land hard on their feet, or hurt their toes and the worst, sudden load their forward flying body weight onto their shoulders and neck. Ouch.
  3. A jump squat is hard on the knees if done incorrectly but if done under pressure, even more so. A correct squat lowers the butt down to the heels with the chest staying upright. When performed under pressure and whilst scrambling to look up after the jump forward, the chest is usually down, the take off and landing on the feet is anything but light and the jump usually becomes an awkward hop.
  4. Jumping back to the plank position is where I have seen the worst variations that can cause serious injuries in classes that I took and the instructor asked us to do burpees. The most common being incorrect placement of the palms and therefore pain in the wrists and much worse, a jump back and landing with a hollow back resulting in a serious shock to the lumbar spine. Not an ideal position to then do a push up from, very painful in the long run and not very useful to build core strength. I myself can only do so many 'clean' burpees before having to pay extra attention to this aspect of the exercise.
  5. I fail to see the benefits from the exercise. Is it strength building, increasing cardiovascular capacity, working individual body parts or what?

My personal opinion is that there is no harm in breaking the exercise down:

  • You can do one minute of jump squats, paying attention to lowering your butt, keeping your knees above and behind the ankles, pressing off the ground and staying light on the balls of your feet.
  • Then you can do 60 seconds of push ups. Play around with them, do them in a chatturanga style with your elbows tucked in. Do them with wide elbows. Try them lowering all the way to the ground or maybe more dynamically by only lowering 2 inches and doing them faster. If all that isn't enough for you, do dolphin push ups.
  • Lastly, hold a plank and increase the time little by little. Move your arms around while you are doing it. Lift your palms off the ground, your feet, one at a time. Stay moving and see how that feels in your core the next day.

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Just with these three exercises, you can increase all those capacities I mentioned above in a much safer way and they will define, tone and sculpt your body while increasing your endurance potential.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Roma

 

We all need a hero

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My grandfather was a hero, technically speaking. He was awarded a medal of honour for fighting in WWII but he was also one of my personal heroes. Unfortunately, last night, he passed away. And he did so, stoically. At 92 years of age, he went to bed after going about his day and fell asleep. I think we all need a hero sometimes. Someone to learn from, to admire and look up to and my grandfather had many facets that I remember fondly.

When I think about him, there are many stories that make me smile and remind me of his generosity and kindness. He loved the sweet things in life. He had a candy drawer that was mainly for us but also for his massive sweet tooth. My grandmother would tell him not to snack so much so he would invite us over to enjoy gummy bears and chocolate together. He would make so called 'Pischinger', a Polish dessert in which you carefully spread layers of butter cream or chocolate cream on very thin wafers, stack about 10 of them on top of one another and then cool the 'torte' before eating it. It never lasted long, so he made sure he always had enough wafers (brought back from Poland) at home to whip up a new one.

He was my compass for manners and morals. Very strict about certain rules. Elbows were not to touch the table at any time, hunching as well as slurping were strongly discouraged. Soup spoons had to be brought up to the mouth and not vice versa. We were not to speak with our mouths full and singing at the table... well, that meant we were going to end up spinsters (we are four girls at home, so this argument weighed heavily!). A child was never to approach their elder, but wait to be asked to introduce themselves, "yes, please" and "thank you" were a given. So to not embarrass him.

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He knew how to take 'me' time for the things he enjoyed. On Sundays, was the only day he wasn't on call for us. He would get up, do 20 minutes of exercises on the ground for back strength and core and then put on his Sunday best, and leave the house looking dapper to head for ballroom dancing. He loved to go for long walks but dancing was his passion.

He cared for his family deeply and felt very responsible. Whenever he wasn't busy, he was available for us. He was retired and loved to drive so he was one of the first people to drop me off at the train station to go to regional track & field events. When he did, he insisted on parking the car, walking up to the platform with me where he would stand and watch the train drive off, and shed big tears. It always made me well up too, even though I thought it a bit silly for a separation that would only last half a day.

The older I became the more I learned about him as an individual, and it seemed a bottomless well. He had lived in Poland, fought for the Germans, was freed by the British, then fought the Germans in the battle of Montecassino. He lived in London briefly until his mother asked him to return, so he moved to Poland and later to Germany. In the 70s after having two children, he decided to assist Polish efforts to help the mining industry in India and lived and worked there for a few years. He wasn't much of a story teller but he brought back many things and so my costumes at school dress-ups were Indian saris, Polish mountain folklore dresses, we watched my mother put on Indian jewelry and use scents from little soap stones.

He loved deeply. We often asked him to just tell us bits about his life; about this or that. And he was stubborn and declined, especially about the war. One story however, he told over and over again when prompted: of how he met my grandmother. "I saw her and I knew I had met the love of my life. It was love at first sight". His face would light up even over 60 years later.

He took care of her until she had to go... and then he followed. To be with her.

Thou shall not talk Sh*t

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Did everyone see the red moon during the night from the 14th to the 15th? We had a beautiful lunar eclipse and a full moon which in itself is said to be very powerful for new beginnings. I've talked about paying attention to the moon in previous blog posts, it's basically a fresh start every 4 weeks to set a new intention, maybe jumpstart exercise or give thanks.

This new moon I made a pledge. I shall not talk sh*t for 28 days. What does talking sh*t mean?

  1. Quite literally it can mean that I look at situations around me and don't judge them. We are all drawn to it but I think by not engaging in it by actually saying out loud what I think, I can start paying less attention to things that - frankly - are none of my bloody business.
  2. I pledge to not diminish my worth. This is big because of that small voice in my head that can get quite loud whenever I get insecure and tell me everything that is wrong with me in any given situation.
  3. Choosing my words wisely in my closest relationships. When I'm impatient, I can fly off the handle and get very blunt. These next 28 days will be an exercise in self-restraint to see if that is actually necessary.
  4. I will journal. I will give myself a channel in which I can express emotions and then read them back immediately or 24 hours later and see if they make sense.
  5. I will not engage in someone else's complaints. Have you noticed how if one person in the office starts complaining it triggers the same need in everyone around? Imagine filling a lunch hour with talking about uplifting things, passions and dreams. Now that's a refreshing way to get back to work.

If you want you can join me on my 28 days. Let me know in the comments how you go and if it's working or how it affects your relationships.

Wishing everyone a beautiful Spring week!

Rxx

Running my first Half Marathon in 5 years

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Race day is almost upon us... well me. On Sunday, March 16th the fruit of my hard and cold labour will finally pay off when I will be running 13.1 miles through Manhattan on behalf of Every Mother Counts. Many of my friends have supported my fundraising effort and even more are supporting me with their enthusiasm. One at least will be at the start with me, Chris, and together we have become very enthusiastic about my first participation in an official race since my last (pre-sciatica) half marathon in 2009.

Preparing for the day reminds me of my olden days as an athlete, just that now my recovery time is much longer than at age 18. I remember the butterflies, knowing that the preparation went well and enjoying the tapering / calm before the storm before the event.

Some people think me nuts for getting into it so much but I can't help it. I'm proud I healed myself and am able to run again and on top of that with a goal: a sub 1:50 hrs. half marathon.

So how do I stay calm and happy before?

  • I am tapering, running much less and giving my legs a rest. The runs that I do are fun and easy. The last thing I want is to go into the day exhausted.
  • I am eating well and staying away from sugar and drinks, meanwhile focusing on hydrating as much as I can.
  • I foam roll and do yoga to remove scar tissue from previous tough workouts and to lengthen and strengthen the muscles that I'll need on Sunday.
  • I take me-time during the day to reflect on how to make the whole experience positive despite there being some nervousness and many people and it being a long distance to finish.
  • I bribe my husband to give me foot and IT band massages.
  • I envision the joy at the finish line.
  • I talk to fellow EMC runners about tips and tricks that they might have.
  • I familiarize myself with the route, start, finish, the amazing amount of things one can buy for races these days and try to decide whether I should carry my own drink/ food or not.
  • I plan the next race... hoping I will be accepted to run the full NYC Marathon this year!

This last point may be weird but it's the best thing to do. So that when I cross the finish line, there's a next idea to look forward to.

If you want to track me on Sunday, I will post all that information on my Facebook page, soon!

What is the next challenge that you have come up with for yourself? Let me know in the comments here or on social media!

xxR

On Procrastinating

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Procrastinating... we all do it in one way or another. Sometimes more consciously and sometimes more unconscious. It can be a matter of a day within which we don't manage to finish all our tasks, or pushing aside a different task over the span of days/ weeks/ months. Usually it's about something uncomfortable. But whenever we wake up from procrastinating we feel worse for it... Everyone does it and mind you I initially started writing this post 4 weeks ago :)

So here are some facts on what procrastination is psychologically (and what it is not). And further down I will share some ways I have learned to break through it or methods that are generally recommended. And then you can decide whether you want to call yourself a chronic procrastinator - like 20% of the US population - or maybe you're just a person who is looking for the right moment and inspiration!

  1. Procrastinating is something you learned at home. So if it's something you picked up, you can drop it again. Yes, really!
  2. Procrastinating is actually bad for your health. Being immobile, which is usually the way of dealing with things, weakens your immune system and can cause gastrointestinal problems and even insomnia.
  3. It is not poor time management or planning. You are simple a little bit more "optimistic" with your time.
  4. Are you trying to piss someone off? Because they may take it that way...

Now here's what to do:

  1. Find someone to jump-start you. It takes extra effort to come back to discipline, so find someone who will nag you repeatedly. When it's done, take them out for brunch. This year...
  2. Make a list and then do the hard stuff first. No task is so hard you can't find a way to motivate yourself. Be nice to yourself.
  3. Focus on one thing at a time and turn off distractions. Instant gratification of counting your Instagram or Facebook likes is awesome. But imagine how much greater it will be when you check back later and suddenly the number of likes is double digits instead of individual.
  4. Schedule breaks and how long they should last (!). Then if it's a longer project schedule the end time and reward yourself. Now go check your likes and have some ice cream.

Oh and while you're on Facebook and Instagram, come over to my pages and say hello, too! But only AFTER you're done.

xxR

Healing and a New Moon

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2014 is charging ahead. It is supposed to be ripe with opportunity and to favour the quick thinkers and decision makers. It is also full of new moons already! In less than three days, we will have a new moon again, the third one this year. This new moon will be in Pisces. I won't attempt to give you an astrological or mystical breakdown of what awaits, but I have come to appreciate new moons as mini new beginnings so I will do the same with this one. Also, the topic of healing came up (my husband compared me to Chiron... I'll write a separate post on that, ha!). As you may know, I suffered from sciatica for three years. It was excruciatingly painful and had absolutely no physical source (at least initially). I talked to a few new mothers this week and some of them told me about their experiences with lower back issues and also sciatica. Sciatica just like many other ailments and pains, usually stems from imbalance, emotional or physical. We can treat the symptoms but until we attack the root cause, the problem will keep returning. It took me another 2 years to get to the root and work on eliminating it and therefore reducing the pain and it took some pretty big changes in attitude and behavioural patterns. I was able to heal with a lot of support from others but mainly because I sought and went after more balance in my life.

Now this new moon on March 1st is in Pisces and asking for a closer look at some of our patterns, it is supposed to set a tone for pause and reflection while we consider where our energy has become totally out of balance.

There it is again: balance. The word pops up a lot. We talk about work-life balance, mind-body balance, balancing acts, balanced meals, the balance of power, standing balances and being well-balanced mentally.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

Balance is such an integrative part of our vocabulary but still, we rarely achieve it in our life. This upcoming new moon wants to remind us how to do it. It asks us to tune inward and listen. To pay attention to our dreams. To flow and be connected. To merge and take a break from mundane activities. My interpretation and what I'm intending to do (especially since it's coming on the weekend) is the following:

  • Seeing people that I don't often see and miss (!). I started today with a lovely lunch and it made me happy.
  • Engaging in activities that I love and that allow me to reflect. I will probably go for a run.
  • Taking some me time.
  • Trying to refrain from being impatient for x amount of hours per day. With others AND myself.
  • Preparing and savouring nourishing food. And ideally sharing it in lovely company.
  • Resting and taking a moment in the morning to reflect on my dreams.
  • Beginning or ending the day reminding myself of what I'm grateful for (and writing it down).
  • Writing down my dreams for the future as a way of manifesting them / announcing them to the Universe.

I can't believe we are almost in March. Three weeks and change until Spring. Could it be true?

Let me know what you will be doing for the new moon or what you have done to heal after a difficult emotional or physical setback.

I would love to hear from you!

xxR

Do what you love

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In his commencement address to the students of Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs said "You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. [...] And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. When I quit my office job and started my career in wellness, a lot of people thought I was crazy. I had been in said job for several years, it provided a very healthy paycheck that included all benefits that one could imagine (and then some) . Still I was lacking passion for what I was doing...

And on top of it, the job had made me sick. For half of the time, that I spent there, I suffered from sciatica, a condition which once diagnosed,turned out not to be rooted in a physical fall or injury. It was a consequence of the fact that my current situation had made me incredibly anxious and unhappy.

It took guts and a lot of self examination to come to the decision to leave a safe job and start anew but here are five things, I learned in the process leading up to and following through on this (so far) best decision of my life:

  1. When you do what you love, it doesn't feel like work: nobody said you won't have to work anymore, but being passionate about what you do, is fulfilling and ultimately makes you provide a better service to the people you work with and for.
  2. The money will come: Changing careers is never easy. Whether it is in the same industry or doing something completely new. One good think you can do is have savings before changing careers. But then dive into the new direction and trust that you are doing the right thing. And your income will come to reflect that.
  3. Being passionate = being healthy: none of us can escape the occasional sniffles but overall, doing things and loving them will eliminate stress and anxiety from your life which pose an enormous threat to our system and mental and physical well-being.
  4. Being passionate attracts support: believe it or not, the more your body language screams "passion" and "satisfaction" the more people will gravitate towards you. It will shine through what you write and say and these new people in your life will want to help your cause and see it grow.
  5. Being passionate, will be a powerful teacher: just because you are suddenly doing what you love doesn't mean it will always be easy. There will be setbacks and you will need to deal with them. When you are passionate about something, giving up is not an option. This new situation will teach you to look at yourself closely, examine where you are stuck and force you to move through it.

Ever since I started working in wellness, I have seen all the points above come true. My old job felt like an obligation at times, a chore and necessary part of my life. The daily grind became my reality and I accepted it as how work should be.

Being passionate about what I do has helped me navigate all the things that we are confronted with in our work lives and made them a lot easier. It has taught me confidence and to trust that I am doing the right thing, or forced me to re-examine, adjust, adapt and find new ways of dealing with situations where things didn't work out.

Personally, I think there is no better way to grow in my life than to do what you love and ultimately that for me is the purest form of self-love.

How to resist temptation

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Has the weather in the Northeast worn you down yet? The US and Canada started 2014 off with freezing temperatures and polar vortexes that kept us in their grip for a solid 3 weeks. Now that we learned how to bundle up for all occasions, we get more snow and more to come. We have had colder weather than the arctic, big snow falls, sleet, freezing rain and then some. Usually our response to this weather is to turn to comfort. More precisely comfort food.

For some it is the hot chocolate, for others, savoury dishes that seem too heavy in the summer but now hold a certain allure. We drink more and vegetables take a lot more preparation to make them hot and comforting, so they can land on the back burner.

I'm no stranger to the effect that gravy, creamy dishes and sauces, roasts, pies and other sweets hold in the winter. Exercising in the cold weather is harder too, so is motivating ourselves to even consider it when there are only limited hours of daylight.

BUT: here is how to resist temptation with a few shifts in your mindset.

  1. KISS: keep it simple, skinny! I talk about routine a lot and it is true. The more your mind and body know what is coming (or not) the more reliably they will keep you on track. For example, if you eat a wholesome healthy warm dish of oatmeal in the morning on six days out of seven, then you will be less tempted to grab a quick muffin, egg sandwich or croissant on your way to work. The same goes for exercise. If you plan certain classes ahead and pack your bag, you're sort of forced to go.
  2. KO the sugar! I'm not saying you have to quit sugar all together. Although, it is certainly healthier. But if you start paying attention to white sugar in foods that is hidden, that is half the battle won. The simple carbohydrates don't do much more for your body than providing it with quick energy. We all have enough stored in our bodies to provide the body with that. The other problem is that while your body is busy digesting the carbs, other components of your food, proteins and fat, are being stored. Try and find alternatives, like honey or grab a piece of fruit before eating the chocolate bar.
  3. REM: Rest.Eat.Me(ditate)-Time! Not in that order but you get what I mean. Sleep is important in combating temptation and resisting it. I'm a compulsive snacker especially under stress. And I don't usually reach for an apple. When you get enough sleep and eat your last meal long enough before going to bed and then supplement that with 15 minutes of quality time for reflecting, the chances are that you will be less frazzled and make healthier choices.
  4. DIY: do it yourself i.e. cook! We all lead VERY stressful, busy lives but especially in the winter, our choices for takeout can be dumb. When we prepare our own food, we know exactly what goes in it. It's a beautiful thing to cook, to savour the aroma of dishes, to share it with partners and friends and it prolonges the process of enjoying it, too. If you live alone, cook and then freeze things or have regular potluck lunches with colleagues so you can sample some of their food.
  5. Check your MO: as in moderation, as in fallback plan! We can't always resist temptation but we can limit the amount of indulgences that we give in to. The easiest is to not keep too many unhealthy food options around the house. Or have them in individual packs. When the urge is big, make it a ritual that you enjoy. Reward yourself, have a great experience and then move on with your day and week. For example, have one row of a chocolate bar, have a few spoons of ice-cream, eat a slice of pizza and please spare yourself the guilt afterwards. This may just be my humble opinion, but I'm pretty sure guilt will make you fat ;)

Now, all these tricks are for when you are at home. But we are no hermits. Whenever you are out in public and temptation arises, remind yourself of the awesome things that you have in store for yourself at home. When you go to a party, try and keep normal meal portions in mind, then increase them by a little because it's a special occasion but keep paying attention if you start to feel sluggish, heavy, bloated or tippsy. Chances are that is just the prelude of how much worse you'll feel the next morning...

I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments how you resist temptation. Pass on this article if you liked it and come on over to Facebook and like my page.

Have a wonderful rest of your week!

xxR

Postpartum Exercise after C-Section

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*** Please note that this article lists general recommendations that can never substitute your doctor's or other healthcare provider's opinion. Please make sure to obtain their clearance before engaging in any exercise or strenuous activity. *** The woman in the picture had her second baby 2.5 months ago. She also had a particularly difficult time after what was planned as a routine C-section. Recovery was much longer than the 6 weeks that doctor's often list as a good amount of time for women to wait before engaging in postpartum exercise after a c-section. But she braved it impressively and now only another 8 weeks later we did a first postpartum session since her daughter was born.

Before her c-section we trained 2- 3 times per week up until a few weeks before the birth and well into the third trimester, with a belly that was creating discomfort and even pain - when her pelvis sunk on one side and was pressing on the sciatic nerve and caused the leg to swell up with extra blood.

One thing that she kept saying throughout was that exercise (that was always tailored to her daily form, trimester and became less intense as the pregnancy progressed) had multiple emotional and psychological benefits for her. It eased the tension on one leg, it alleviated back pain caused by the weight gain and it always left her less tired after, than she had been before. Plus with a big smile on her face.

This particular example has taught me, as a health and fitness provider, 5 very important things about how to approach postpartum exercise after a C-section:

  1. I can't stress it enough: the exercise before birth has incredibly beneficial effects on the exercise after. Women who stay active before a c-section, recover faster and once they go back to working out, their body remembers and can re-enter on a higher fitness level as well as motivational level than if the last workout was over 9 months ago.
  2. After having an open wound, jumping into exercising too quickly will do you no good. Just like exercise is being tapered down with each trimester, you have to build up again, too. Athletes reduce their amounts of workouts before a big event and afterwards they take a break and then ease into it again. You have nothing to prove to anyone and the added stress of caring for a newborn will most likely have you running around as is.
  3. I like to create programs that focus on body areas that were under a lot of stress during the pregnancy before zeroing in on the core. I know all women want is to get a flat stomach and their core strength back but there are other areas that have had a lot of work to do and continue to, such as the arms, back, legs and hips. Focusing on these areas first, can give the stomach some more rest but works the cardio-vascular system and speeds up the metabolism.
  4. Partner exercises are a great thing to do both for strength workouts as well as relaxation and stretching. If you have had a long day and didn't make it to yoga or didn't have time to fit in a workout, take 20 minutes in the evening with your partner. Once the baby is asleep, you can challenge each other to some partner squats, some plank high fives and finish up in a partner stretch such as this one:postpartum exercise after c-section
  5. Relax: after a c-section you are healing from a big operation. On top of being tired, getting less sleep than before, your body has to heal multiple layers of tissue. For that, it needs time and especially recovery time. Make exercise part of your day in walks, taking stairs, and playing with your baby. If you can, take a few minutes a day to sit still, have me-time, meditate, enjoy a cup of tea, reflect, journal or day dream. It will give you so much more strength to deal with everything else that is happening around you, including exercise.

I wish you well.

xxR

How to overcome Fear

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Fear... we all have it. Some of us are more inclined to discuss fear (publicly) than others but we all want to know how to overcome it. When I say fear, I include phobias and anxiety, that dreaded feeling that makes us lose control and stops us from thinking clearly. I recently saw the photos in this article mentioned by and featuring Kathryn Budig (renowned yoga teacher) that shows people with writings on them that describe their fears and insecurities. Steve Rosenfield’s “What I Be Project” depicts his friends and famous people in a very vulnerable way and there is a beauty to it.

We live in a society where being strong dominates, so does being fast and successful, beautiful and confident. But the real strength, in my opinion, lies in showing people our vulnerabilities and owning them. In most cases, talking about them already relieves a burden and most people will probably offer a helping hand to help us overcome our fear.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to be more confident in front of a lens. Photo or video, particularly when I'm not moving but telling a story. And I do hope to share videos with you on topics around exercise, food, mood, motivation and body image. So look out for them.

In order to get there, I believe 5 things will help me:

  1. Just doing it: it's like that old band aid as a child. The quicker you pull it off the easier and less painful it is. Just doing it means trying it and not judging yourself. There really is nothing bad that will happen.
  2. Support from friends and family: as I mentioned above, talking about fear and anxiety is a first step to releasing some of the tension. Most people probably relate and will be more willing to come forward with theirs. Then, when the situation arises, make sure you have one of them by your side to squeeze your hand and tell you you're doing great!
  3. Practicing: make it a regular thing. When I started teaching classes, my heart was thumping and I was sure everyone could hear my voice trembling. With several classes a week, I am still a bit nervous at the start especially when new people are there but I can focus on other things more now. I talk to people, listen to their stories, laugh with them, because it's a routine now, the anxiety has made space for nicer things to focus on!
  4. Breathing: in most yoga classes you start with deep breathing. I start my class with the same. Breathing and releasing the tension in your abdomen from holding it in is super important. The deep inhales lift your chest up and make you feel powerful, the long exhales release anxiety and help you drop the shoulders which are probably up by your ears. Inhale tranquility - exhale anxiety.
  5. Being kind to myself: I am my biggest critic and I'll second-guess even if friends tell me it was good. So in this New Year's resolution, I also need to stop that. Being kind to ourselves means being accepting. Something we gladly extend to good friends. Being accepting of our own imperfections and the fact that everything is a process, is a major step to being more relaxed about our fears.

There... if I can do it, you can do it! Whether you get nervous about public speaking, fear flying, get anxious in new situations, I hope those five steps help you.

Let me know in the comments if you use some of these techniques and in general how YOU overcome fear! The sky's the limit - I dare you to embrace it!

xxR

PS: I'm afraid of heights, too. Hence the photo!

 

Pregnancy Wellness Tips

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Check out my pregnancy wellness tips over at Mind Body Green where I've recently been published. I'm happy that I have been able to share a lot of my findings and experiences in prenatal and postpartum wellness and fitness on their site. If you haven't yet, go check out how to train during and after pregnancy, check out their many interesting blog posts and stay tuned for more articles to come!

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/wc/roma-van-der-walt

xxR

American Sports - an outsider's view

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Let's face it, I don't really get American sports... Basketball somewhat... I'm tall so everyone asks if I played it. I didn't. American Football seems to me like a bunch of guys hitting each other over an awkwardly shaped ball and not getting very far. And lastly Baseball, the only sport in which athletes can chew tobacco while on the field. And it feels like it takes FOREVER! I grew up in a crazy soccer nation. We are  one of the leading countries in World Championship titles and I sure hope it stays that way next year in Brazil!

Don't get me wrong I'm interested in learning the rules of each American game but while I do, I like to observe the fans at sports events here, like last night at the Brooklyn Nets vs. Utah Jazz game in Barclay's Center.

Oh did I mention that I also had my first ever Nathan's hotdog? It's been 10 years since I first came to NYC and I used to live on the Upper Westside. Oh well...

One thing that was unbelievable to me here (and now I've seen everything but NFL) is the amount of security that goes on in order to get into the stadium. And the fans here are usually much less rowdy! Then there is the unbelievable amounts of food and drink. I don't think anybody's footlong hotdog with chilli sauce and cheese would survive the first wave of happiness or anger in the stadium. Here people expertly balance HUGE drinks and trays of food while they climb across others to their seat and throughout the first quarter. Everybody in the stadium seems to be trying to get on camera... People wear outfits, they dance, they do all kinds of things, and when they finally make it onto the screen, they are ecstatic.

All while a few good men are playing a highly paid sport and are super focused.

Now if you compare that to soccer: hooligans get into the stadium and cause a lot of ruckus, they can be dangerous and they don't care about security. Food is often overrated at those games, it wouldn't survive the spontaneous outbursts anyway. Drinks are consumed, a lot which doesn't add to more security. And then lastly people wear their jerseys religiously! And flags and hats and more... or much less as shown in this article. The game is followed with a lot of passion and it's usually super high paced so you snooze you lose. Leaving a soccer match adrenaline runs high, temperaments flare up and usually the alcohol on an empty stomach may have not been such a great idea.

So... I'm adjusting to my new home. I like the more leisurely way of watching sports here. The fact that I can eat and drink and the half time entertainment.

I have yet to go to a football game and once I do, I'll let you know if it confirms my experience so far.

Until then I have to watch enough of the other sports to pick a favourite team. Maybe my inner soccer hooligan is gonna come out once I do.

Which one is your favourite team in any given sport? Let me know in the comments!

xxR

Discipline: Rad or Bad?

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I just read this article about discipline and how celebrities apply the 80/20 rule to stay fit and slim without denying themselves occasional indulgences. It sounds reasonable and I try to live by that same rule. It's often more along the lines of 70/30... but what I am trying to do these days is keep my meal plan simple during the week and allow myself a day on the weekend during which I don't have to think about what I eat and can indulge. I have found that it keeps my cravings at bay and improves my overall well being tremendously. Ok, so maybe I apply 80/20 on those other days sometimes, too :) As I have mentioned before, my schedule as an athlete used to be very structured, time wise, but also in terms of what I ate and when. The structure provided me with a sense of safety and stability in my life, it made me feel invincible to be able to be so physically active and high school was its own structure, too - that I fit in between workouts. During intense weeks, I would run 5-6 times a week, swim 3-4 times, fence 3 times, shoot 3 times (plus autogenic training) and ride once or twice. Phew... just typing this makes me tired now. Days would start at 6am (in the pool) and end sometimes at 9pm (leaving the fencing gymnasium). Wash (often!). Rinse. Repeat.

I was recently invited by a group of women (who have families to take care of), to run with them. Meeting place was 6am at Grand Army Plaza. Which meant getting up at 5.30 and being out of the door by 5.40am. It was remarkable to see how these women met with such fun at such an early time, I thoroughly enjoyed their company and when we were done, their day started with making sure that their kids were out the house and off to school, etc. My only responsibility was to feed my dog and then check my schedule for the day. I won't be doing it all the time, but there was something that made me feel very proud about adding so many hours to my day and having been productive already by the time I got home at 7am.

Being self-employed demands a certain amount of discipline. Working with people and helping them create a different lifestyle demands being creative in my approaches to mask that discipline as enjoyable exercise and delicious meals. Working with people in public class settings means, picking up on each person's vibe, and rewarding the discipline of them showing up with an experience that will be memorable physically and emotionally.

Getting positive feedback is a direct reward of my discipline. What a beautiful circle.

I have learned in the past years, to be less harsh with myself. The control freak in me has to consciously relinquish the rigor of that discipline that is such a strong part of me and allow myself to go with the flow and let events unfold.

I have found that creating structure is important when it is around practical things, such as my calendar, exercises planning for the people I work with but in my personal life, I am allowing a few more elements of surprise. I still don't like surprise parties or ordering dishes for the table instead of me (more on this in a different post)... but I have learned through my dear friends, that life can be a delicious "box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get".

And I'm ready to embrace it. I dare you to try the same!

xxR

The Body Sculpt Class - What is it? Who is it for?

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I'm teaching a body sculpt class three times a week now at Melt Massage & Bodywork, an awesome massage space that has a beautiful room for yoga, pilates, workshops and me :) For most of what they offer, the class description is straight forward or people don't even have to read it because it speaks for itself. Prenatal yoga, Feldenkrais, Reiki, postpartum workshops, Pilates... I wanted to add something into the mix that is similar but different. A class that allows people to move continuously for 60 minutes without a Bootcamp or Crossfit feel where you push through exercises, in competition with yourself and everyone else. But rather exercises in which we work together and individually, making them easier when we work together. For both of us. But with an option to always challenge ourselves, too. Every class ends with yoga to stretch the muscles that we used and open up areas of the body which may be stuck and which - once released - feel so good and thereby make our mind feel good. At the very end: Savasana... everyone loves a few minutes to relax.

Melt is set up with everything you and I need. Therabands for sculpting and lengthening, of course yoga mats, blocks and bolsters for restorative poses at the end and blankets to sit on while we do ab work. It has a great group of instructors and where else have you seen a reception area that has water, apples and candy?

So who is it for? I've seen a lot of women taking my class and I think men believe that if it doesn't involve weights but mainly your own body weight, it may be too easy for them. But that's not the case. I have seen grown men struggle when I showed them exercises, that pregnant women did with ease and grace and anywhere we work with our own body weight, it can get pretty challenging. After the session, you will already feel, that areas that we exercised feel tighter, your core will be burning, but you won't be exhausted. You will be sweaty and relaxed and proud of what you accomplished.

Having studied many different disciplines, I am convinced that each practiced individually has tremendous potential but combining them is even more effective. Because there is no set routine, your body can not plateau and get used to being worked in the same way as previously. It needs to adapt and become smarter. And that's what we want, a continuously evolving body, that is smart, strong, flexible and ready to take on any task that life throws at us. You will also gradually see your waist whittling away and your arms and legs becoming more defined as an added bonus.

The biggest advantage of working your body in this way is, that it is fun! Exercise doesn't become a dreadful chore, but we look forward to it. We see results in our strength, cardio-vascular capacity and flexibility. The positive side effects also include the influence that this kind of training has on other disciplines. So it can be a great add-on for runners, triathletes, yogis, swimmers, etc.

I hope to see you at one of the classes. If you haven't yet, make sure to sign up for my newsletter with updates on health, food, new classes and much more.

Like my FB page if you liked this blog post, comment and share.

And come stop by at Melt - more information can be found here: www.bit.ly/chittamelt

I dare you to sweat with me!

xxR

Success Factors - Five Ways to "get there"...

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How do you define success? What are the factors? In our humble society, the word success almost takes on a dirty meaning. I personally prefer to talk of progress, which I define as small successful steps towards my very own goals. Success and the relief, power, satisfaction and other things we attribute to it, can be scary if we don't put it in perspective. As an athlete, my ultimate goal was to participate in the Olympics but I also know many of my former team mates, who did, and the satisfaction from having participated or like these two, having won the Gold Medal in Beijing (Britta & Lena), wears off and makes room for other superlatives to try to reach. It is an ongoing journey and we need to acknowledge that.

I wasn't always this relaxed about things. I would push and shove and train hard. I had the biggest falling out of my teenage years with my coach when he told the then national coach to go to hell and not enroll me on the team in early 1997 (I was 15) because he didn't want me to compete internationally at that young age. I threw a tantrum, I cried, I sulked and I hated him. Ultimately he was right. It would have been too soon. Being on the team meant that the national coach took over from mine and dictated my schedule, with very little room for negotiation. If that meant World Cups throughout the winter, that also meant there was no solid time for me at home to still build my strength, stamina and ultimately all things that made me the well rounded athlete I became later on. When I joined the team 8 months later, I learned first hand how painful it could be to train with someone who didn't care that I was still growing, that I needed adequate rest time and couldn't be partnered up with 17 year young men in little competitive races, swimming and running while reminding me that as a representative of my country, giving up was NOT an option.

At a particularly grueling workshop the boys, who swam the 200 m freestyle in 20-30 seconds faster than me, had to swim 10 sets of 50 meters diving and then 50 meters sprint. Myself and them had the same 'go times' of every 2:30 minutes which meant that they had ample time to recover after each set but my rest time vanished into thin air with each one. The same was true for the 400 meter runs we had to do every day. A week later at the European Championship I swam the worst time of that year and ran a minute slower than ever, with the first three contestants finishing in my usual time. In his defense, my coach did not say "I told you so"...

I digressed a little. Nowadays as a business owner and working my own hours and being solely responsible for my success, it has been hard to be patient. I have touched on patience in a different post but it is not the only thing that I had to apply to remind myself that success can be measured in different ways.

  1. Why only have big goals? Focus on smaller attainable goals and celebrate when you get there.
  2. Talk and listen. We don't like to take advice from parents but we can learn from other people and sometimes simply because they see us from the outside and assess the situation more clearly.
  3. Realize that it is a process. Last week I received a text message from a great woman I work with that she had to buy smaller pants. We've worked together for some time but not too long. This is amazing and the fact that it took some time means it will stick.
  4. Don't compare. Hey, I'm the most competitive woman on the planet so that's hard. Ultimately its two things: there is enough success for everyone (no, really!) AND be kind, because everyone out there is fighting a tough battle (too).
  5. ... which brings us to this: Be KIND to yourself. Because if you're not, why should others be? Don't beat yourself up. Things take time, especially the lasting ones. Fighting yourself can - at the worst - result in self sabotage or self fulfilling prophecies. Try my advice for stressful situations and keep soldiering on.

I think you're great! Please share some successes with me in the comments, pass on the post, like it, and if you haven't yet and want more info from me, sign up for my newsletter on the homepage!

PS: Zola learned how to balance on her hind legs. Success!

xxR