What keeps me going

Recently, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me with concern. I get questions similar to “How’s it going, are you ready to be a single parent?” and “How’s the pregnancy going? How are you feeling?” I’d be lying if I told you I’m ready and feeling great! But my determination to get to those places is what keeps me going.

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I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the fact that there are days and nights where I just feel like crying. Growing up, I always imagined having a baby differently. I imagined being married to my soulmate, and having someone there who was just as invested in the baby as he was in me. Someone who would help me prepare our home for baby, including the nursery and baby-proofing everywhere else. Instead, I’m relying heavily on my dad and myself to get everything ready. And the nursery isn’t ready yet but I’ve come to the decision to wait until after the baby shower to put everything together.

But I have put my effort and time into going through everything and getting rid of anything I no longer have a need for. I’ve already donated two carloads full of stuff and thrown out several loads of things. The feeling of a clean and organized home keeps me going. I’m determined to have a place where my daughter feels safe and cared for. And I’m throwing out all the demons holding me back in life.

Not just physical cleaning, but also mental cleaning has been occurring. A previous version of myself would be hung up on my past, which would mean I wasn’t moving forward. If you’re not moving at all, you’re moving backwards. Instead, I’ve been practicing and focusing on the future and what God has planned for me. I take life one day at a time, and focus on trusting Him every step of the way. Even if I fall and start to believe the lies that flood in, I take a deep breath and meditate to find my way back to peace.

I’m determined to climb this mountain and make it to this peak. But even when I do, I know there will be more peaks to conquer. Even if I have to go through more valleys, I am determined to keep moving forward. No matter what it takes. The feeling of strength and peace is what keeps me going. Knowing that I can conquer mountains gives me the push I need every day to keep moving.

What keeps you going?

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Chicago at night

There’s not much better place than the city I call home at night. Today’s post is a picture post and while I couldn’t find one picture I liked the most, I narrowed it down to two pictures of the city at night.

Being in the city in the summer at night is always my favorite thing to do. These two pictures are different seasons, though. The left is winter and the right is summer. I do get out in the winter too. 😉

What’s your favorite city to be in at night?

Benefits of exercising while pregnant

Note from Jen: I love and agree with this well-written article. I greatly enjoy exercising while pregnant and feel like it helps me cope with all the side effects of growing a human. Enjoy this article!

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Exercising during pregnancy is always a very good idea, and the benefits for you are numerous. Exercise will help ensure that you stay healthy and fit. The healthier you are during pregnancy, the less likely you will have any difficulties with pregnancy. The fitter you are, the easier your childbirth experience will be. It will help you control weight gain during pregnancy and weight loss after pregnancy. It will also help minimize stretch marks.

Most importantly exercise will:

– Help maintain a healthy and steady weight gain for you and your baby.

– Increase your Self esteem, lowering depression and anxiety.

– Help reduce pregnancy related discomfort such as backaches, leg cramps, constipation, bloating, and swelling.

– Help you to recover from delivery and return to a healthy weight faster.

– Accelerate postpartum weight loss.

– Improve your mood, energy level, and feelings about the way you look.

– Improve sleep quality.

– Strengthen your muscles and improve your blood flow.

Exercising does however need to be kept in moderation. If you are someone who has always exercised, then there are a few changes that will need to be made to adapt to your changed body. If you have just started to exercise, then you will need to ease yourself into it.

– If you have been exercising regularly, you will be able to maintain your routine to some extent throughout your pregnancy.

– If you are just starting to exercise you should start gradually.

– Try and exercise at least 3 times a week.

– Stretch, but not too much. Extreme stretching could actually cause more damage than good.

– Try and measure your heart rate constantly during exercise. Try not to exceed 150 beats per minute.

– Hydrate with cold refreshing water before and during exercise.

– Don’t lift heavy weights while pregnant.

– Never exercise to the point of breathlessness.

– Wear comfortable clothing that fits well and supports and protects your breasts.

– Stop exercising if you feel dizzy, short of breath, pain in your back, swelling, numbness, sick to your stomach, or if your heart is beating too fast or at an uneven rate.

– Choose moderate activities that are unlikely to injure you, such as walking, aqua aerobics, swimming, yoga, or hire a personal trainer with a certification in maternity fitness who can give you a tailored program to suit all your needs and enhance your maternity experience.

Exercising after Birth:

Most women are very eager to regain their pre-pregnancy figures, and women who have exercised through out their pregnancy will gain their figure back much faster than those who haven’t exercised during pregnancy.

As before when you started training or exercising when you were first pregnant, you need to start off slowly. You may only start exercising again once your body has completely healed from the stress of labor. So start slowly, and enjoy getting back the figure you used to have!

Tips for pregnancy

Talk to your health care provider about how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. Eat foods rich in folate, iron, calcium, and protein, or get these nutrients through a prenatal supplement.

Talk to your health care provider before taking any supplements.

Eat breakfast every day.

Eat high-fiber foods and drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.

Avoid alcohol, raw fish, fish high in mercury, soft cheeses, and anything that is not food.

Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Talk to your health care provider before you begin.
After you deliver your baby, continue eating well. Return to a healthy weight gradually.

Slowly get back to your routine of regular, moderate physical activity.
Take pleasure in the miracles of pregnancy and birth.

DEBORAH is a highly respected authority in personal training for overall health and fitness, with more than 22 years of experience and success. Her credentials include…

Currently licensed Registered Nurse specializing in Rehabilitative Nursing
Medical Exercise Therapist: certified by AAHFRP, an internationally recognized physical rehabilitation certification
Maternity Specialist Pre & Post Natal certified by Maternal Fitness
Personal Fitness Specialist: certified by NASM, an internationally recognized certification
Yoga Teacher
Professional Health Member, National Organization of Fitness Instructors (IDEA), a leading membership organization of health and fitness professionals
Deborah Caruana RN, MES, CPT
Email: vitalsignsfitness@gmail.com
Website: http://www.vitalsignsfitness.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Deborah_Caruana/856

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/33153

A dating dare

The year was 2005. I was coming up on the end of my first year of college. And what a year it had been! I started the year out homesick only to do a 180 and find myself not wanting to head home for the summer. After a short-lived long-distance relationship and a failed attempt at dating a fellow freshman, I was going into a long summer in the suburbs very, very single. And my good friend Polina was facing a very similar situation, just home to her was a bit further away in Korea. So she had a genius plan! Whoever could get a boyfriend for the summer (summer fling, anyone) would win the bet. I think it was something silly like 5 dollars and/or bragging rights. But it lit a fire under my butt.

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And that was a fire I very much needed. A push off a long-term obsessively ridiculous love for someone I had never met. Ask me another time about that one. But what happened next wasn’t exactly what I expected. I signed up for a free dating site (I was a poor college student who had just finally picked up a summer job!) and within days was inundated with messages from nearly every eligible man near Chicago (and Bloomington???). After carefully weeding out the very noticeable weirdos, I settled on meeting three guys who seemed the most interesting (or least creepy however you’d like to see it).

I liked the first guy. Actually, almost so much that I nearly considered calling off the other two. But there was two things that kinda threw me off about him that I noticed on the first date. And while they weren’t deal-breakers, I didn’t want to torture myself over the long, hot summer with someone I’d have to settle for just to win a bet. So I met the other two guys.

The second guy was awful. The red flags were burning from the beginning, but by the time I decided to call off the date it was too late. So I actually had my guy friend join us on our date, making it more of a casual hangout session. He still tried to kiss me at the end of the night, which didn’t happen. The third guy caught my eye, and on the second date I fell in love with… his mom. Fast forward, I cut things off with the first guy and third guy asks me to be his girlfriend halfway through summer. I win the dare, I win the bragging rights, and I get to hang out with a pretty stellar guy.

His family is great, and actually one of the first examples I witness firsthand where step families get along and mesh well together. He has a step-brother in California, an older brother his mom had during her first marriage. Her first husband moved on and had another family of his own, and all of them are friends. So original marriage, divorced but remained friends. I didn’t know this level of forgiveness and friendship existed. And it was beautiful.

I liked the guy too, but I think a part of me just grinned and bared it for the gloating rights. I also expected him to dump me and move on once we turned into a long distance relationship. The main reason for that thought was that the only other girlfriend he had was someone who lived a few blocks from him. I was already pushing it being about 25 minutes away, I doubted he would survive with me being 2.5 hours away. But once back at school, he proved me wrong. We worked something out and ended up seeing each other every 3 weeks.

What was supposed to be a summer fling, ended up lasting 2 years and 4 months, y’all. My point is, never label something until you know all the details. I learned the hard way to not just write someone off as a fling. Actually, that might be why to this day I still try to imagine myself being with whoever I’m dating for much longer than just that moment. It tends to get me in trouble. Thanks to the summer dating dare, I now try to see if Mr. Joe could be Mr. Brice (obviously he would take my name bc it is superior lol).

This has bitten me in the butt a few times, most noticeably recently when my mind was about 5 million light-years ahead imagining things actually working out with someone only to have him not even give me a chance and choose someone else. So maybe I have to work on balance. Not just write someone off as a fling but also stop imagining myself walking down the aisle in a white dress with them. At least make it a cool color!

How to level up your consciousness

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the four categories of consciousness which was based on Hawkins scale of consciousness. The blog received good feedback and someone requested that I write about how to go from the second category (level 500) to the third category (level 700). While I’m no expert, I’m very interested in diving further into this subject.

So how does one level up their consciousness? It really depends on where you are now, but if you’re similar to me on level 500 and striving to evolve further, you’re in the right place. To achieve level 500 in the first place, you have to develop a love that is unconditional, unchanging, and permanent. This is a very hard and pretty rare level to reach. It’s much easier to love conditionally, to be in a state of walking away from people once they no longer bring us happiness or joy that we expect love to bring.

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But once you achieve it, how do you grow even further? What’s the next step? The next step is pure joy. Saints and spiritual healers are on this level. Finding and feeling consistent joy within yourself is this level. Joy that is unconditional, unchanging and permanent. Similar to love but even stronger. I think in order to achieve this level, it’s important to separate everything else from your source of joy. Of course, many look to God for their joy, and that is okay as well. As long as your source of joy is consistent and unconditional, you’ll evolve. We all go through tough situations where we may feel sadness but deep down you must still have that joy in your heart. I think of it as seeing the good even in the middle of a storm. The silver lining, if you will.

And after joy? The level of peace is next. Peace is associated with the experience designated by such terms as transcendence, self-realization, and God-consciousness. It’s extremely rare, attained by only 1 in 10 million people. The emotion is bliss. At this level, there is no longer any distinction between the observer and the subject. In order to get to this level, you have to enter a state of bliss and no longer see yourself as separate from peace.

Level 700+ is the level of enlightenment. The emotion is inexpressible. This is the pinnacle of the evolution of consciousness of mankind. The greatest people of history have attained this level, such as Krisna, Buddha, Jesus, Mother Theresa. I think it’s safe to say I don’t know how to evolve to this level. I think without at least being at the level of peace and bliss, you can’t even imagine this level. But even then, it’s still far away. It’s obviously possible to obtain but a part of me thinks you almost have to be pre-destined to get to this level. I could be wrong in regards to this, but for sure you would have to dedicate your entire life to this journey to enlightenment.

What are your thoughts on these levels of enlightenment? Which level are you on, and are you working towards evolving further?

Five blog posts I recently discovered

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Through this Ultimate Blog Challenge, I not only have been challenged to blog everyday but also to read and comment on other blogs that I normally wouldn’t read otherwise. Through this experience, I’ve discovered blog posts that have made me return to the blog to read more. And today I feel like sharing these gems.

  1. Sharing my two cents This blog post reminded me instantly of my mom and her mom (maternal grandmother) both of whom I miss dearly. I love the idea of pennies being lucky and of pennies being a sign from above. 🙂
  2. Colleges inflate their competitiveness As an ACT and SAT tutor, I have seen this come true before my eyes. It’s good to keep up with the current college trends as they’ve changed since I was in college back in the early 2000’s.
  3. Do affirmations work? This post was interesting to me since I’ve heard both sides of whether affirmations work or not. I enjoy writing my affirmations down but also don’t want to rely on them to feel like I’m good enough the way I am.
  4. Weekends are for my daughter I like this blog since it seems to paint the picture of my future. While I don’t have a kid yet, I will soon be living the life of raising my daughter and helping her explore the world around her.
  5. Here’s why I don’t care if I’m being clingy This is the blog of blogs. To be honest, I didn’t think guys like this still existed. And a part of me is imagining some old lady on the other side of the world writing this blog. But this gave me a sliver of hope for the opposite sex.

What blogs do you enjoy reading?

This is Me: Take it or leave it

Once I heard the song This is Me for the first time (in church of all places) it instantly got stuck in my head. After looking it up and playing it on repeat for a few weeks, I finally sat down and watch The Greatest Showman. It was a great movie and in some ways reminded me of Hamilton. They both channel that whole this is me, this is who I am, and I’m not changing for anyone. Strong, powerful lead characters who are impossible to take down. And these characters fuel me.

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As a writer, I’m a lot like Hamilton. I could see myself writing pages and pages, the words flowing out of me. Actually, I’ve had days like that where I just write and write in my journal. Some stuff almost no one will ever read. But today I feel like sharing just a little bit more about me and why I no longer give a f*ck.

Growing up I had a lot of f*cks to give. I cared a lot what others thought of me. I’d go out of my way to dress a certain way, brush my hair, and try my best to be nice to everyone. I actually found myself between a rock and a hard place several times in elementary school as I tried to be friends with everyone, including the nerds and the populars. At the end of the day, I just wanted to be accepted and feel like I belonged. But I also didn’t want to make anyone else feel alone.

Most of my life I’ve been really nice. Actually I am still really nice. So nice that it’s been painful at times. But I always have and always strive to see the best in people. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I’ve been around some of the best of the best. The people who I’m so glad I gave a chance. The people I love to love. It’s a curse because there are people who have and will stomp all over my heart for their benefit. I had someone who after I pushed past all of the barriers and obstacles only to choose him, over and over again, used that same blind love to stab me in the back and still demand a quick and low-cost separation. Of which I granted, out of kindness not only to him but also to myself.

So I am nice, but after crawling through flames I’ve decided to be nice to myself first and foremost. This is not to say I’m not nice to others, it’s just to say that I have to consider how being nice to others affects my niceness to myself.

In other words, I ask myself how much of myself do I want to pour into someone before opening up. I’ve been singed a few too many times to just openly love and pour on strangers. But I also still have the ability to love on the right people. The people who are there for me no matter what. The ones who show up in the middle of the storm and at the top of the mountain peak. I try my best to be as warm and kind to those who are there for me. And I give my standard kindness to everyone else.

But for those who shun me or judge me, I have nothing for them. I don’t have the time or energy to waste on draining individuals. Instead, when one person leaves, I tend to take that energy I almost wasted and pour it into myself. This way, with every person I encounter, I grow spiritually and emotionally. Whether they’re terrible or great, they bring with them a lesson that I learn and grow upon.

But never will you see me chasing after the wrong person. I would rather watch them walk out of my life than be anywhere near them. And to be honest, I’m running low on f*cks to give. I gave a lot of them to who I thought was the right person. Now, I’m taking the time to step back and breathe as I try to figure out what went wrong and how to avoid making the same mistake again. (third times the charm?)

Holding on to these last f*cks for the right guy. For now, they’re in the vault until the time is right to let them shine.

 

The 10 Coolest Places I’ve Visited

I’ve been blessed with the ability to travel to many cool places, both near and far. It’s hard to narrow it down to the top ten, but here’s my list of the coolest places I’ve visited.

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  • The top of a Maui volcano: rode a bicycle all the way down starting at 5am to see the sunrise.
  • Snorkeling in Molokini: clearest water ever and sea turtles!
  • Mozart’s statue (Vienna) and childhood home (Salzburg) in Austria: Mozart is my favorite composer.
  • On a gondola in Venice, Italy: It’s cliche but was totally awesome.
  • Kissed the Blarney stone in Ireland: upside down, risking your life all for some extra luck.
  • Giant’s causeway in Ireland, crazy rock bridge where the giants roamed.
  • Pike’s Peak in Colorado: cold on top, warm on bottom.
  • Niagara Falls, both on top and behind them.
  • Grand Canyon: just on the edge looking over it so will have to go back.
  • Cedar Point on all the coasters! I’ve been here many times and it never gets old.

Where are the coolest places you’ve been?

Top 3 fitness training obstacles

Before focusing on the pre-natal fitness niche, I had plenty of obstacles that I would have to overcome in order to obtain a new personal training client. With the more focused pregnant mothers target market, there are even more obstacles. These are the top three that could apply to almost any market you’re trying to target for your personal/small group fitness training business.20190117_204906.jpg

  1. Building trust. This is huge. It’s hard when you first meet someone/start talking to them to build trust but I have found it helpful to ask certain questions about them in order to get them talking about themselves and their fitness goals. Asking open-ended questions is key here. Rather than asking if they want to lose pounds, ask them what or who they admire and want to look like. Almost everyone (especially millenials) have a fitness Instagram account they follow and want to look like. You’d be surprised at how many male clients I would have pull up a male fitness guru’s account to show me his goal.
  2. Find their X-factor. Trust me when I tell you that every potential client will say something close to “I want to lose X lbs” or “I want to gain X lbs of muscle” or a mixture of both. Obviously, the prenatal market is looking to stay/be healthy for baby and to shorten labor time. That’s an X factor. So for those people who just tell you they want to lose weight and/or gain muscle you have to find their why. Some examples I’ve heard include: upcoming event (i.e. wedding), want to keep up with kids or grandkids, and doctor’s orders. Find out what’s driving them to get back in shape and your job will be much easier.
  3. Financial. This is the biggest obstacle to overcome. While everyone wants to get in shape, not every has the extra cash to pay for a personal trainer 3-4 times a week. If you do a little digging, most people can give up their starbucks/fast food/alcoholic beverages to afford about 30-80 dollars a week. Finding something comfortable is important, as you don’t want them to not be able to pay their bills. But also, you don’t want them to pay too little where they don’t take you seriously. So I like to have a range where I’m comfortable getting paid. I take a few things into account. I charge less for my online clients versus my clients I physically meet at the gym. All things considered, I wouldn’t undercut myself if someone could only afford 15 or 20 dollars a week. I could still help them by writing up a generalized meal plan and workout plan for a month at a time and charge them a flat rate for that month. But it would be on the client to follow through with the workouts.

What obstacles do you see in the fitness industry? How do you overcome them?

Running is a lot like life

I recently started reading a book by a local runner appropriately named The Incomplete Book of Running by Peter Sagal. Even within the first chapter, I saw that this book wasn’t just about running. It’s way more, and running is way more than just running.

You have good days and bad days in running. Some days, the weather’s perfect and so is your pace. You feel like you could run forever and a day. Your feet feel like they’re running on clouds and there’s a stupid smile pasted on your face. These are the days we look forward to and hope for.

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But then there are the bad days. The weather is cold, wet or dreary. Your feet feel like they’re weighing you down. You can barely look ahead let alone up and above the dreaded horizon. Each step is felt and you count them until your last step. You have to push yourself every step of the way, and don’t even think about your pace because that’s a lost cause. If it’s bad enough, you might even consider quitting running for good.

And these days don’t just apply to running for fun, but also race days. You can train and prepare and get to the start line on race day only for everything to fall apart between the start and finish line. Now think about life. Life is the same way. We have good days and bad days. We train and prepare hard for certain things. And sometimes, hopefully usually, we are successful. But nothing is guaranteed. We may fail, but it’s up to us to get back up and dust ourselves off.

You may not finish that marathon, or you might have a terrible running day or streak of days. Or maybe even weeks, months, years. But those running shoes will be waiting for you to lace them up and try, try again.

What keeps you going?