Badakonasana/ cobbler pose

A Challenging Month

30 Day Blogging Challenge, Personal

Hihi, internet. It’s been a while, but I wanted to leave a little update. You know, stay in touch and stuff. Here are some fun things I’m hoping to spend some time on this month! 

Goal #1: Let go of perfectionism.

I’ve had a lot of trouble in the last few months finding focus and so here I am trying to find it. I’m always concerned with trying to find something “worth” writing about, and making sure I have workable photos, et cetera. In the interest of letting go of this stifling perfectionism, I decided to join a 30-day blog challenge to help keep me accountable and to hopefully become a better writer. And with that kind of pressure hanging over my shoulders, I can’t imagine there being enough time to obsess over putting together a perfect post by which I mean that I want to feel less self-conscious about what I’m putting out. If I stick to it, I can only imagine you’ll be hearing a lot more from me. I should probably also note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting your all into something and making it as good as it can be. But I specifically want to practice being more consistent which is why I’m allowing myself this flexibility. 

Goal #2: Become a better writer.

I’m also trying to do this thing where I write a thousand words a day, which was inspired by this article. They can be about anything that I feel like, but I have to do it regardless of how I feel. I’m already kind of feeling the strain of the “regardless of how I feel” caveat because I started one of these sessions while I was in bed yesterday morning and ended up falling back to sleep after 200 words (don’t worry, I finished the other 800 later). But other times, it feels great. The words just come pouring out of me, easy peasey. I’ve found, so far, that it’s much easier to do stream-of-consciousness writing than writing with a purpose. Again, it’s an exercise in accepting imperfection, because there truly is a lot of garbage with maybe a single good line or two sprinkled in. And learning to take the bad with the good. Discipline and overall writing ability are two areas that I’m really passionate about focusing right now. 

Goal #3: Find peace through structure.

Okay. So I’m doing yet ANOTHER challenge. On Instagram. Kino MacGregor and her cohorts are hosting a detox yoga challenge for the month of April, and, thus far, I’ve been pretty dilligent about making sure I’m posting my daily posture photo. It’s a lot to remember to do everyday, but I’ve always been the kind of person who thrives in a structured environment. I love checklists and schedules and calendars and probably most other things you can think of along that vein. And, you know, homework. And school. And school supplies. Paper. New notebooks. Unf.

An inukshuk, each rock symbolizing one aspect of Lissa Rankin's "Whole Health Cairn": physical health, mental health, money, environment, creativity, sexuality, spirituality, work/life purpose, relationships, inner pilot light

Why Should You Keep a Journal?

Personal, Wellbeing

Ah, spring. Mother Nature is always a bit confused this time of year, and on this particular gloomy weekend, I wanted to express the awesomeness of one of my favourite past-times: journaling. It isn’t a fun time to be outdoors, so when better than now to spend some time on a little introspection and self-exploration?

Emotional Health and Journaling

The holistic approach to health is all about addressing the issues of a person as a whole rather than their individual symptoms. There are so many more components to health than just diet and exercise. Your physical health is just one small part of your overall health. In Lissa Rankin’s “Whole Health Cairn”, she depicts several aspects of health as a part of an inukshuk. If any one piece is missing, the whole thing collapses.

An inukshuk, each rock symbolizing one aspect of Lissa Rankin's "Whole Health Cairn": physical health, mental health, money, environment, creativity, sexuality, spirituality, work/life purpose, relationships, inner pilot light

Keeping a journal is one of my favourite ways to address many parts of the “Whole Health Cairn”, Which parts you address will, of course, depend on what you decide to write about on any given day.

Why keep a journal?

Journaling is a very meditative experience and can be a great way to organize our busy minds, keep track of our dreams and goals, and explore our thoughts.

I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember, and my methods of doing so are ever evolving. I’ve kept sketchbook journals, fill-in-the-blanks journals, food journals…

No matter how I go about it, I’ve always found that journaling is a great way to put things into perspective. Sometimes, the events of our daily lives, and our thoughts, can be blown out of proportion and overwhelm us. Writing down our thoughts and re-evaluating them can help us to look at these events with a more realistic and levelheaded mindset. Our thoughts are just thoughts. They can be as positive or negative as we allow them to be.

What should you journal about?

Feel free to write about anything and everything you feel like! Your journal doesn’t have to be a sterile space; use it as an extension of your wacky, wild, and creative brain. Write about your day and things you want to remember. Make lists of your goals. Make lists for your grocery shopping. Sketch and doodle. Brainstorm. Keep your journal by your bed so that you can grab it and start documenting you dreams while your eyelids are still stuck together, before you begin to forget things. Write down what your grateful for. Write a story!

When should you write in your journal?

Whenever you feel like it! I bring my journal and a pen with me everywhere I go, just in case an idea hits me, or there is some element of my day I want to go back and explore. You can turn journaling into a daily ritual or as a way to unwind in the evenings. For example, take an hour before bed to grab your journal and a cup of tea, and write about your day. If something upsetting happened that day, writing it down can help you vent your frustrations and go to bed with a clear mind. If something amazing happened that day, writing it down is a way to relive it and remember each brilliant detail.

7 Tips For A Vibrantly Healthy New Year

Holidays

The year is almost over, and my personal version of it has been both wild and wonderful. 2013 has been a roller coaster ranging from super amazing fun times, to some of the most stressful experiences I’ve had yet. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and looking back, I’m so excited by how I’ve evolved over the last year. There have been a lot of big changes and decisions I’ve had to make over the last few months, and the struggle still isn’t over, but I’m still going, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I’m very blessed to be spending this week nestled into a cottage in Muskoka with Erik (my other – cuter? – half) and his family. It has been a very different kind of Christmas than any I’ve had before since, this year, we are all much more health focused than we have been over previous holidays. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by and to be a part of such a loving and supportive community.

That being said, today I wanted to pass on some of that love and support to you lovely individuals! The year being almost over, I know that you’ve probably already started thinking about what sorts of New Year’s Resolutions you want to get cracking on in 2014. Here are some that will get you on the path to a vibrant, energized lifestyle! And you definitely don’t have to do them all at once. Start with one goal per week, and add on another resolution the next week. Baby steps, my friends!

Hydrate:
Aim for 1.5 – 2 L of filtered water every day. Our bodies are 75% water and as a result, water is essential for:

  • the function of every cell and system in our bodies
  • flushing toxins from our body
  • digestion
  • the absorption and distribution of nutrients throughout the body
  • lubricating our joints
  • reducing inflammation in the body

Try to avoid bottled water as much as possible. Not only is it harmful for your body (the plastic leeches some very unpleasant toxins into the water including carcinogens and nasty hormone disruptors that contribute to weight gain and estrogen dominance) but it is also harmful for the environment. Those piles of plastic water bottles will be left behind long after us humans are gone. Not to mention all the issues regarding growing worldwide water privatization. A simple solution is to invest in a glass or stainless steel water bottle and fill it up on the go. Do it! Your body and the environment will thank you.

Chew:
“Chew your water and drink your food.” Maybe you’ve heard this saying before? Try challenging yourself to chew your food at least twice as much as you do right now. We often eat our food so quickly, our brains are unable to receive a signal of fullness from our bodies until it is too late and we have stuffed ourselves. By spending more time chewing, you will be less likely to overeat. Chewing also sends a signal to the brain to release digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid which are necessary for breaking food down into absorbable molecules.

Eat your greens:
Leafy greens are a super concentrated source of nutrients and fibre which are both sadly lacking in most western diets and are essential for digestive health. Some examples of leafy green vegetables are spinach, kale, chard, collard greens, and cabbage. Try incorporating at least 3 of these delicious nutritional powerhouses over the next couple weeks. They are delicious steamed, sauteed, or raw, so be sure to enjoy them a few different ways!

Move:
The hardest part of becoming a more active person is the getting started part. If hitting the gym doesn’t seem particularly appealing to you, there are tons of other activities that might. Some fun examples are hot yoga, belly dancing, rock climbing, zumba, crossfit… I’m the kind of person who will quickly get bored with doing the same things over and over again, and perhaps you are too. Pick out 2 or 3 different activities that interest you, and make a commitment to trying them all! Most studios and gyms have an introductory rate for new members, so if you give something a good college try and still aren’t feeling it, move onto the next thing! My current routine has largely consisted of home workout videos and yoga at my favourite studio for the last year or so. Sometimes you’re just too lazy to leave the house, and having a back up plan for those days is great. Aim to get active for at least 30 minutes 3 – 4 days a week. It can also help to have a workout buddy or an action plan for the week to help hold you accountable.

De-stress:
Stress will kill you. Literally. It is a huge contributing factor to disease. There are always going to be times in our lives when we are feeling stressed out, but how we manage and cope with that stress is critical to how it affects us. Learn how to say “no” when you know you can’t handle more on your plate. Stay organized, make to-do lists, and know what needs to be done when. Then come up with some strategies for relaxing – whether it is lounging in a steamy bathtub with a book or curling up with a cup of tea and a book or popping into the bookstore and picking up a new book – in my world, whenever a good book is involved, I know it’s gonna be a good time. Regular exercise, yoga, and meditation are some surefire ways to get your mind off of stress. Know what you need to do to ensure a relaxing evening, and do it!

Sleep:
When you get out of your bath, or whatever it is you’ve done to get you good and relaxed, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. If you are the kind of person who struggles with falling asleep, it really helps to have a sort of ritual and schedule around bedtime. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and avoid eating within the 3 hours before that. An hour or two before bed, start to get into relaxation mode. Brew yourself a cup of tea, put away the electronics, and sit down with a book or whatever you know is going to help you settle down. Getting those glorious 8 hours of shut-eye will help you:

  • avoid weight gain (particularly in the belly area)
  • keep those cravings in check
  • regulate your mood
  • strengthen your immune system
  • improve your mental function thus boosting productivity – no more brain fog! (I’m not the only one who walks into a room and forgets why, am I?)
  • look and feel your very best!

Let go of guilt:
So you slipped up on a resolution or two. Feeling bad about it is not going to improve the situation, and it isn’t going to help you in any way. Let go, forgive yourself, get back on that horse! We’re only human, and we make mistakes. Punishing yourself for something that happened in the past does not serve you.

And with that, I’m off to enjoy some more downtime with my family. If you have any questions, please leave a comment, message me on Twitter @amdnutrition, or shoot me an email at info@annemariedixon.com. In the meantime, I’ll be sending lots of love your way and I will see you all in the new year! Happy Holidays!