Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Confessions of a Coke head

I just finished another weekend  of yoga teacher training (my ninth!) with Holistic Yoga Therapy Institute and it never fails.  Each day when we break for lunch, I am the only person who orders a diet coke as my beverage of choice.  Plenty of people place orders for water with lemon, water without lemon, iced tea, hot tea, and even the occasional glass of wine or Sunday brunch mimosa--but never soda.  I'm the only one.  And I know why--artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners--they're not good for me.  They know it and I know it, but I'm an addict...and not just to the caffeine but to the bubbles.  What is it about the bubbles?  And now, my thirteen year old son seems to be heading down the path of addiction as well...so if not for my own health, definitely for his...

I hereby publicly denounce the further consumption of soft drinks.  I don't plan to quit cold turkey.  That would be asking for failure.  Caffeine deprivation would surely lead to migraines and as someone who suffered from stress-induced migraines for the first quarter-century of life, I cannot knowingly inflict such pain upon myself.  I will, however, incorporate the less painful, less stressful method of weaning myself off the drug.

On any given day, I probably consume the equivalent of six cans of soda.  So, beginning today and for the rest of week one of "Operation Confessions of a Coke Head," I plan to drink no more than four cans of soda per day decreasing by one each week.  Therefore, next week I will drink no more than three, the following week two, and so on.  If my math is correct, I should be coke-free in about 30 days--approximately the same amount of time it takes to form new habits or break old ones.

I recently read an article about chemicals in foods that are banned in other countries but still allowed to be used in the United States.  It proclaimed citrus flavored sodas and sport drinks contain Brominated Vegetable Oil, a flame retardant ingredient used in the manufacture of plastics.  Yikes.  And to think before I was a Coke head, I did the Dew! 

So, let's raise a glass...of water with lemon...to new habits formed and old ones defeated!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Power of Positive Thinking

As part of my 200 hour yoga teacher training, I was tasked with journaling 5 things I felt grateful for each day, over the course of 30 days.  From this assignment, I discovered that there is an amazing shift in paradigm that occurs quite quickly when asked to contemplate gratitude.  I gained a new found appreciation for perspective.

At the end of each day as I sat down to journal, I discovered the ability to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

"Saw a snake today--grateful it didn't chase me down and attack."

"Backed out of the garage with the passenger-side door open--although a bit askew, grateful it still closes."

"Sat in traffic today while an accident was being cleared--grateful to see both drivers outside of their vehicles uninjured.  Double grateful I reached my destination safely and without incident--even if I was a little late."

In all of these instances, I could have wallowed in the negative:

Seeing a snake created a fight or flight response.  Because of my fear of snakes, I chose flight.  I turned back and walked an additional mile in order to avoid crossing its path.  Fortunately it was a beautiful morning, I had no where else to be, and I needed the exercise. 

Crunching my car door may prove to be an expensive repair.  Fortunately, it is not a repair that is critical to being able to use the car.  The repair can wait--if I even have it repaired at all. 

And while being late usually induces anxiety, I used my yogi Dirga Breath to remain calm.  And when I finally did arrive at the doctor's office after sitting in traffic for the accident, I discovered she too was running a bit behind schedule.  My time spent sitting in the waiting room was significantly less than it would have been had I arrived on time. 

Three potentially negative situations; three positive perspectives.

Abraham Lincoln said, " We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."  
I will admit I haven't always viewed the world from a rosy place of love and gratitude.  For most of my life, I had a "glass half-empty" soul.  I loved drama. I loved exaggeration.  I loved playing the victim.
"Woe is me...I had to walk an extra mile because there was a horrible reptilian creature blocking me from my path."
 "Woe is me...I cannot drive an ugly car.  We are going to have to fore go our family vacation to pay for the repair so my car can be pretty again."

"Woe is me...I had to sit in traffic, causing me to be late to my appointment, and no one was even injured."
My husband used to say, "You're not happy, unless you're miserable."  He was right.  And that is one more thing for which I am grateful.  I am grateful to have found yoga..not just as an exercise program, but as an entire mind-body experience.  Those words have since been shuttered from his vocabulary.  In the present moment, I have such peace and contentment--all because of a change in perspective.

So...when you're having a bad day, see if you can shift your perspective.  Try looking at the situation from a different angle, and see if you can find gratitude where before there might not have been any.

You'll be grateful you did!