Beach Blast Triathlon

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This weekend in Mexico Beach, FL, I raced in my first triathlon of the season. Last year was my first time to EVER participate in a triathlon and I chose the one race with an ocean swim. For a person who loves scuba diving (over 150 dives), I sure do struggle with open water swims. So all year I have worked on my swim and visualized killing this course, especially the swim & despite the uncomfortably small wetsuit I have to wear.

Of course though, two weeks before the race, I start attending CrossFit classes because a studio wants a yoga teacher…who understands and participates in CrossFit. Being the stubborn, “I can do it myself” person that I am, I jumped right in and by the second class, I couldn’t put weight on my left shoulder. Uh oh! The day after my longest swim ever (1.2 miles), I screw up my already unpredictable shoulder. Way to go Lyndsey!

As would be imagined, over the next 2 weeks my attitude was less than pleasant, complicated by a major allergic episode to the 1″ of pollen that covered everything in Alabama. I could barely breathe, talk, or move. I began to doubt whether Beach Blast was going to be a blast or a blow-up for me. The one good thing though was at least I was going to the beach with people I loved.

Fast forward to Friday, the day before the race, where I decided to downgrade to the Sprint vs. Olympic distance because I hadn’t not swam in 2.5 weeks. At almost sunset, in a flurry of anxiety and panic, I demanded we do a practice swim in the wetsuit to the buoy about 100yds off shore. Great way to begin your practice swim when you’re already frazzled. I had my usually swim panic and frozen breath as I tried to lower my head in the cool Gulf waters for the first 50yds. Then suddenly with more determination than I’ve ever mustered when it came to fear and panic, I looked at my partner and said, “I’m GOING to the buoy!” Lowering my head I took off calmly and with focus, slapping the yellow buoy once I reached it then turned and swam steadily back to shore until I could grab sand with hands. I WAS READY!

I was a bit testy race day as usual but my stomach and mind felt more settled than usual. We had friends coming to cheer us and take photos so I focused on how happy I’d be to see them throughout the course. I took a quick spin on my bike, racked it, then went down to the water to practice until race time. The water was about 70-72 degrees and perfect with a wetsuit…..if it fit properly. Some early race humor helped further calm me as the second buoy began to drift away during the Olympic distance swim. Granted if I’d been the one chasing a moving buoy, it would NOT have been funny, but for us Sprint racers it was comic relief.

By the time they called Sprint Triathlon under 40 to the water’s edge, I was a little nervous but a deeper calm and determination. I would walk into the water behind the faster swimmers and swim MY race at MY pace. And I did. My breath stayed calm, my body stayed relaxed and I exited the water in ~11 minutes (about 2 min. faster than last year). Leaving the water I was laughing and almost crying at how calmly I executed the swim and overcame my fears. Unfortunately, transition was a quarter of a mile from the swim exit, uphill and across Hwy 98. My heart rate became my focus from them on out, climbing from 75% to 90% by the end of race.

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My new TT bike helped me shave 7 minutes off last year’s time, placing in 4th place after T2, but by then, my heart race was around 85% and the temperature was climbing. A few minutes into the run, I realized I hadn’t fueled enough during the bike so I grabbed a chocolate fit chew (Thanks Arbonne!) and let it slowly dissolve as I padded away on the windy but not windy road through a neighborhood. The run is usually my strong point, but as soon as I left T2, I knew this run wasn’t going to be easy. I was already thirsty, slightly hungry, hot as hell, and felt like I was dragging sandbags behind me. Thank God for fuel belts! Usually 5k races are short enough not to need water, but with only one water stop at the halfway point and the overheating I experienced last year during the run, I decided not to chance it. It was like an oasis in the desert to have those two tiny bottles. About .75 miles from the finish line, I timed a sprinkler pass perfectly and got showered head to toe in delight. Despite my body’s nagging for me to walk, I kept my focus on my breath and my cadence. Inhale 3 steps, exhale 2 steps, inhale 3 steps, exhale 2 steps.

As the final turn into the park & finish line approached, I knew I had one short steep hill to climb before the 25-50 yd sprint finish. I took a deep breath and quickened my step. A woman began yelling, “You can do. Get up this hill. Come on baby!” While she was clearly not talking to me, I pretended she was and began pumping my arms and pulling myself uphill. As I hit the turn, my heart was pounding and I was gasping, but I could see the finish line. I began to sprint as best I could, chick-ing an age grouper down the chute to yells of “Strong Finish! Good Job!” While that might not be the kindest thing to do unless it’ll change your placement, I had to prove to myself that I was prepared and capable of not only starting strong and steady but finishing strong by giving it all. And I did. I left everything on the course. All the worries and fears and doubts about not only my participation in triathlon but in many aspects of my life. I had arrived uncertain and afraid, but I left centered and complete. I finished 5th in my age group with 1st & 2nd also finishing 2nd & 3rd overall in the female division. Despite having a secret goal of finishing in 1hr 30min, I shaved over 14 minutes off last year’s finish time and was only 4 minutes short of my 1:30 goal.

What’s your next goal? How can you break it into small manageable steps to ensure it’s success?

My next goal is an Olympic distance. Race unknown…maybe Chattanooga on July 14th.

Finish strong!

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Beginner’s Yoga Starts February 6th

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6th from 12n-1p, is the first class of a beginner’s hatha yoga and meditation series.  Class will be held at Birmingham Yoga in the Lakeview/Avondale area of Birmingham.

No experience with yoga or meditation required. Only willingness and an open mind.

We will go through basic movements and awareness practices that will not only promote physical flexibility and strength but mental sharpness and relaxation as well.

Signup online via Birmingham Yoga or just drop-in when you can.

Namaste.
Lyndsey

Welcome…

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…to Awakened Living Therapeutics

…teaching you how to cook, eat, exercise, and experience life to the fullest…

FROM how you cook AND what you eat…

TO how to you move AND what you think

OFFERINGS: personalized consultations, cooking classes, private yoga & stress reduction sessions, & FREE motivation

Contact Lyndsey for more information.

How to Calm the Chaos: Inner & Outer

This weekend started on Wednesday morning and will end late Saturday night for me. It is one of those long weekends that you hoped would be relaxing yet somehow felt busier than being home (but without the familiarity & comfort of home). The funny thing about it was that I enjoyed most of it. I would’ve liked more rest, more quiet, a bigger bed, and less activity, but I know I got what I needed. I had the opportunity to try new things, meet new people, unexpectedly see long lost friends, reconnect with family and appreciate what I have and need, like relationships & quiet time.

So how are your weekends? your vacations from work & chores? For most people, they don’t know how to rest, relax, let go and enjoy. I have family and friends who would rather push themselves into exhaustion than sit still and even worse, sit silently alone. It makes me wonder and want to us, is it louder or scarier inside than out? I know it can be for many us. At various points in our life, the inner chatter is so critical and confusing that keeping busy feels like the only solution. When we get to this point, it’s hard to make any changes without support, whether that be from a loving friend, partner, or professional. The important thing is to reach out and remember that you’re never alone and that living in constant chaos outside to avoid the chaos inside is no way to live – in fact you usually can’t do it very long without getting sick in some way. I know that tasks, goals, productivity is important but when the cost begins to outweigh the benefit, trouble is afoot.
I had someone ask me lately to help with a tendency to overcommit – a problem over half the population has while the other half can’t seem to commit to anything. I consider over-committing or over-scheduling a product of the above at times. Over-doers are usually either trying to fill an inner void yet avoid the inner critic while others are trying to “be all they can be” because they truly want to help or create. There is probably an overlap though in these departments though. It seems that even when we truly want to participate there is usually a piece of a “should” or “ought to” attached to it that is actually rooted in an even deeper judgment of self about what our critic and others will say or believe if we DON’T participate or have to “turn it over” to another person. Where is the compassion for self and the awareness that sh*t happens; meaning, sometimes things come up last minute and truly keep us from doing what we had planned or wanted to do OR sometimes in the 11th hour we are hit by the spiritual 2×4 and realize we can do another thing or we will fall over or bite someone’s head off with our words.
The remedy to this tendency or at least potential softener is the practice of transition periods. How often do you truly schedule in adequate transition time and space as you go from one place or activity to another? I saw counselors for years who scheduled clients back to back seemingly all day. When I became a counselor I realized I was doing the same thing, which gave me maybe 5-10 minutes tops, to breath, remember myself, stretch, grab the next file, brief it, then jump in again. After the 4th client I was about to have a panic attack or melt into my chair as if I was watching a movie. Since then, I’ve made it a point to never schedule more than 3 without a 15+ minute break following and to take mini “awareness breaks” between all sessions where I breathe, body scan, and determine what I need and how I can give it to myself before the next session in some form or fashion – even if it’s just writing myself a note of encouragement or doing one yoga pose. All my activities and adventures outside of work are considered “penciled in” unless they are super super important…but even some of those have been abandoned in the end if I was too cooked to do another something. My determining factor usually has to do with how present and alert am I right now. Can I feel the energy and breath in my body? Is my mind feeling alert and open? If I cannot answer these questions and give myself thorough details as if I were an observing witness and an experiencer of them, then I probably need a break. Sometimes, a slow short walk with deep breathing will do it, other times, it’s a 30 minutes nap, a few yoga poses, free-flow writing, or even having a relaxing cup of tea or more elicit beverage quietly on the back deck.
What items on your schedule can you begin to pencil in? Remember to evaluate how each event supports you or stresses you. Don’t take out the ones that support you, even if they feel like the ones that are somehow “optional” – like a walk over another 30 minutes of work. Build in some transition time between each event then double the amount of time you think you need. We usually short ourselves on the good things and overdo the unhealthy ones. After a week, see how you feel then decide how you want to go forward.

For confidential support, call 205-908-1247 or email me awakenedliving2010@gmail.com.

May you know peace, happiness, health, and freedom from suffering.

NEW Yoga Classes starting Feb. 2014!

Here’s your chance to register for the yoga class that fits your needs.

Starting February 2014, Chair Yoga and Gentle/Moderate Mat Yoga (1hr) will be offered via Birmingham Yoga‘s studio.

Schedules is TBD depending on interest.  Options are Monday – Thurs from 11a & 2p.

Wednesday @ 1p will probably be the Gentle/Moderate Class but it depends on who speaks up.

Drop-ins and 6-wk Series will be available.   ALL ARE WELCOME and can find a place in one of these two classes.

Call/email/respond with the day/time/class you’re interested in attending along with questions.

Nature vs. the iPod

To iPod or not to iPod?  This is a question I have heard & asked myself and others as the growing majority of people seem to have grown wires even when they go for a walk, run, ride, or like.  Just a few decades ago, you had to carry a boom box on your shoulder if you wanted to move with your music, but now it’s often small, wired, and light, not to mention that the battery lasts a lot longer.  Before this technological explosion, what did people DO when they went to workout?  I often hear panic or disbelief in people’s voices when they see me running or moving my body without sound-inducing paraphernalia attached to me or nearby.  Maybe it’s a question of INTROVERT or EXTROVERTPITA or VATA, ONLY CHILD or ONE OF MANY.  Or maybe it’s just become a habit.  Not knowing how to shut off when we are conscious, much less unconscious, seems to be a growing dilemma, hence the 1200% increase in diagnosed cases of anxiety since 1980, the beginning of the technology revolution.

I’m reminded of Isaac Newton who said “an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by a equal or stronger force.”  In other words, our brains & body will continue to crave and expect constant stimulation until they experience something that is more powerful or profound (i.e. Your Brain on Nature).  While using headphones during walks, workouts, & wanderings can serve a purpose, I find it unnecessary (especially on workouts <1 hr), unsafe (especially when cycling or walking in a cycling area), and yet another distraction from the healing that Nature provides us when we immerse ourselves in it with mind, body, and spirit.  Our days are already jammed pack with the stimulation and noise from kids, spouses, co-workers, TV, radio, computers, phones, etc.  Sleep seems to be the only time we are free from the constant stimulation unless you fall asleep with the TV or radio or computer going.  If you fall in the latter category, How is your quality of sleep?  Do you feel rested when you wake-up?  Are you frequently injured or sick?  When constantly bombarded with noise from sun up to sun down, our minds and bodies can’t rest, heal, and integrate properly.  Multi-tasking isn’t a biological reality according a recent study in the NY Times.  You may multi-task and multi-task fairly well, but your brain and body are suffering for it.

Granted, the longer the distance the more challenging it is to train without a partner or an iPod, but what great mental training for race day when we must go it alone to a great extent.  By running or walking with Nature as my companion, I’m able to stay better connected to my body and how it’s being impacted, whether it be gratitude for a breeze or shade or awareness that it’s gotten warmer & I need to slow down or take some water.  In many ways, the longer we go, the more deeply we need to be in tune with our bodies and our environment because training can only take us so far.  The rest is up to the elements and how we flow with them or fight with them.

Experiment

Go solo & sound-free on your next outing and see what arises.  Keep it short to start.  Notice where you’re mind wanders to and gently bring it back to “this moment, this breath, this sensation or sight.”  It’s really a form of meditation, learning to concentrate and focus your mind so that you are in charge of it vs. it being in charge of you.  The first time may be miserable but full of information about your edges.  So keep trying it and see how it can serve you.  Sometimes our greatest insights come through our greatest (& smallest) trials.

Listening to Your Body

Body awareness & mindfulness are becoming hot topics and key words especially in athletics, medicine, health, & spirituality, to name a few.  But what does it mean to “listen to your body” or “be mindful”?  It doesn’t mean the noises one’s body makes at times, although they can be helpful nor does it mean to fill your mind with more chatter….I’m pretty sure it’s full enough (remember yesterday’s post on anxiety in America).

On days like today, it feels like all I can do is listen or respond to my body because it’s refusing to do anything except lay on the sofa.

Listening can be done through….

  • performing a body scan by bring attention to each body part
  • practicing yoga/breathwork/meditation with a teacher/group
  • feeling sore or tired more than usual
  • FORCE via screaming, loud physical symptoms that you can’t ignore

Ideally, we would check in aka listen with our bodies on a daily if not hourly basis to make sure we are in tune with our insides as much as we are our outsides and surroundings.

As much time and attention we spend externally on our looks, our workouts, our clothes, our courses, our equipment, we have abandoned or at least neglected our internal home that we carry around with us.  And the truth is that our internal home, our bodies & all that fills them, are what will make us or break us in the end.  By listening, nourishing, & responding to the signals we receive as soon as we receive them, we create fertile space for mental strength, physical performance, & emotional balance to blossom.

This pyramid of health & wellness must be equally balanced for us to live happy, healthy lives.  By constantly evaluating & observing each part, we can make manageable adjustments along the way.  If we wait until “wailing and gnashing of teeth” then well, get ready for a longer road to recovery and reframing your lifestyle.

So here I lay on my sofa, aware that the signs have been present but I’ve consciously IGNORED them.  Hopefully, after this day of mostly rest & hydration, I will re-commit & follow through in the practice of greater mindfulness through daily yoga & meditation.  All any of us can do is constantly re-evaluate and re-commit to our personal sadhanas (practices).

Namaste & good luck practicing.

Stress, Anxiety, & Food

While perusing the news highlights this morning, I stumbled across this article & video clip about “AMERICAN ANXIETY” and how it’s increase 1200% since 1980.  Whether that’s because of better diagnosis or a more frantic pace of living is unsure, but I would venture to say more the latter.

As a licensed counselor & wellness consultant, I know the impact of stress on the mind, body, & spirit, and at a 1200% increase, we have a huge problem.

There are several approaches to the stress/anxiety debate:

  1. Medication: our country’s favorite “remedy” to everything (i.e. a pill); efficacy is fair but overall inefficient in truly solving the problem.  Basically, pills are bandaids.  When you are so anxious that you can’t sleep or eat (healthy) or function at home/work, then medication can soften the extremes so that a true lifestyle change can be implemented.
  2. Diet:  What we eat & where it comes from is killing us.  Watch Food, Inc. or similar documentaries and you’ll be horrified & illuminated at the same time.  Scott Jurek in his book Eat and Run cites that the top causes of death in America are heart disease, stroke, and cancer, which have been linked to the “Western Diet” that is high in animal products, refined carbs, and processed food.  While Jurek is vegan, I don’t claim that everyone should or could do it, BUT it’s worked for him and many like President Bill Clinton.
  3. Disconnect:  The constant chatter of technology, whether through smart phone, TV, internet, cars, music, media, etc., has our brains working overtime.  Studies have shown that the brain DOES NOT MULTI-TASK EFFECTIVELY.  All this non-stop, over-stimulation is literally killing us & creating this anxiety pandemic.  What helps?  Quiet morning meditation ritual, mindful eating (no technology or reading, just EATING),  create a bedtime ritual starting 1-2 hrs before you need to be unconscious, & no TV/technology in bedroom (sex, sleep & reading only).

So implement a lifestyle change & stop cutting yourself by eating crappy food, not exercising, & watching hours of TV/computer surfing and you won’t need the band-aids anymore.  Long-term, medications cause side effects that are still unknown and a lifestyle change is a permanent, inexpensive fix.

Some say that it cost too much to eat healthy.  How much are you paying for medications & doctor bills?  Try spending that on healthy yummy food choices & see what happens.  Even better, buy some seeds (very inexpensive) and plant a garden.  Even city dwellers are finding ways to become self-sufficient through planting in pots or raised beds.  They are prettier than landscaping and tastier too!

For recommendations on how to start your own garden or how to create a lifestyle change plan  that will work with your life & schedule:

  • Email me your questions, concerns, &/or goals
  • Invite me to your home & I’ll show you how to start it