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My fit life

My coworker recently joined the YMCA and we’ve been sharing our experiences with certain group exercise classes. Turns out, I’ve participated in several that she’s recently tried, so I’ve been giving my point of view. Yesterday, she blurted out in excitement, “Lucrece, have you tried STRONG?” I replied excitedly, “Yes…Zumba Strong? Strong by Zumba? My friend is licensed in Zumba Strong and I love it.” Her response, “No, Lucrece. Just STRONG. Everything isn’t about Zumba you know!” I picked up on the sarcasm. In my mind, “Says who?”

I’ve been a licensed Zumba instructor for 4 years now and it’s been a fabulous ride. I remember watching Zumba fitness infomercials about 6 years ago and knowing that I would love that class if I could just find out where to attend locally. My husband signed us up for the YMCA out of the blue one day in 2011, I took a Zumba class, and the rest is history. I have a confession. While in treatment and recovery for breast cancer, I lost my Zumba mojo. I didn’t desire to teach it anymore and was getting bored with it, but that was short-lived. I’ve been attending my friends classes regularly a couple of days of week since January 2017 and my Zumba fire has been ignited. I’ve enjoyed being the student and not the teacher, so that may have a lot to do with it. I haven’t been back to teaching Zumba at work since I was on medical leave. I’ve been thinking about resuming my class, but we’ll see.

I’ve always loved the family vibes at the YMCA and had been a member in Chicago in my early twenties. After I  had my son in 2001, I stopped going to gyms because I didn’t trust the child care. I don’t know why we didn’t join the YMCA in Austin. I began working out at home and gradually developed a library of exercise tapes/DVD’s. I would get up 5:00 am and do an hour of one of my DVD’s before work. One of my favorites was The FIRM because they combined cardio and free weights. I shredded some serious pounds (the same 15-20 have come and gone…I think I’ve finally permanently gotten rid of them).  I still have my vast collection and exercise at home a few days a week. Every now and then in amazement, my husband will comment, “You still have those DVD’s…? How old is that one?”

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In addition to Zumba and my DVD exercise collection, I love to exercise outdoors. For the almost 20 years of living in Austin, I’ve loved the long hot summers. But it’s become more apparent to me this year that spring is actually my favorite season. Temps in the lower 70’s to mid 80’s make me want to be outside all day.  I love soaking up the warm sunshine rays. Over the last few years, my health has made it more difficult to enjoy the hot heat because it tends to exacerbate symptoms related to my autoimmune disorders. The conditions are mild, but I still need to be careful. Whatever the case, that doesn’t stop me from getting outside.

Me at Townlake March 2017

Me at Town lake March 2017

Being outside in nature is relaxing and rejuvenating. When I can, I love to go for a hike along the Lady Bird Johnson Hike and Bike Trail. For the past few weeks, I’ve gotten my husband to take walks with me in the short trail near our house so that I can get my Fitbit steps in. Now that he has a Fitbit, he’s more interested in getting his steps also, so I take advantage of that. I’ve enjoyed bonding with him during this time. On Friday nights, my daughter has her gymnastics class at the YMCA, so my husband and I will spend that time walking the track and catching up.

This habit of exercise I started in my early twenties has enriched my life in so many ways. Exercise is like breathing to me – it’s essential for my survival. It helps me cope, relax, de-stress, unwind, and focus. It’s an anti-anxiety and anti-depression remedy that keeps on giving. You can see that I’m not skinny and that doesn’t bother me. My body wasn’t designed to be skinny and that is not my purpose in exercise. I love how strong and fit my body has become. I believe I’m more productive because I exercise regularly. This fit life of mine has paid me back thousands in dividends. My goal  has been to have my kids adopt this healthy habit into their lifestyles.

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Family time at the Veloway…2014

One of the best things you can do is find an exercise(s) that you enjoy. Then do it all the time.

Commit to be fit

I’ve committed to be fit!

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Illuminata

I knew my husband loved me when he bought me the book, Illuminata by Marianne Williamson, while we were dating over 20 years ago. I asked him what made him buy it and his reply was that he thought it would help me. He saw the author on an Oprah Winfrey show and felt moved by what she said. I knew he was a keeper when he demonstrated that he also cared about my spiritual health. I was just emerging from a rough patch in my life (early twenties) when we got together. Therefore, he was right. My week day morning routine is to pray and read a scriptural/spiritual passage before I get out of the bed to set the tone for my day. I didn’t realize that I had this book by my bed side until I read the titles of the stack of books on my dresser. I love books and keep them very close. Periodically, I rotate them with the ones on my living room bookshelf to ensure that I get through them all. At some point, I moved Illuminata to be bed side. Great choice!

It feels so good to be reconnected with my Illuminata. The prayers are beautiful. It may seem odd for prayers to be captured in a book, but it’s so befitting. While in Catholic school growing up, we learned prayers verbatim from the bible. Sometimes, it’s difficult to come up with the words. Often, I simply have conversations with God, but I don’t always know how to ask for what I need. It’s a thought-provoking, illuminating, contemplative book and I love to marinate on it as I get ready. Sometimes, I even read a few passages before bed.

Books next to my bed

Books next to my bed

Beignet giving me love early in the am

Beignet does not understand how I could read instead of giving him cuddles

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A week in the life

It’s been a week! It started last Sunday with me at the airport for my monthly business trip and ended on Saturday (yesterday) with an unexpected job opportunity that stirred up lingering insecurities that are difficult to shake. Confidence and doubt. Courage and fear. Bold and reticent. Extrovert and introvert. It is possible to live with conflicting traits. I’m a living testimony. At the end of the day, I have nothing to lose…or do I? There is a beginning, middle and end to my story, but I’ll stick with 2 out of 3 since it’s Sunday and I’m a little tired. Here it goes.

The Beginning

Towards the end to my flight to Lubbock, Texas last Sunday, there was a ridiculous amount of turbulence. Turbulence to the point where I didn’t know if I needed the barf bag or a toilet because my stomach was doing somersaults.

This is bad. As a side note, I had actually typed “summer saults”, then changed it to “summer salts” because I forgot how to spell the word “somersault”. I knew it was wrong, but couldn’t remember so I looked it up. I’ve had recent conversations with people about the phenomenon of losing our ability to spell. I blame the constant reliance computers. Are we the only ones?

I occasionally glanced at my neighbor and we made exchanges about the turbulence, but then after a while, I noticed that she was staring at me rather intently…too intently for my comfort. She asked me if I lived in Lubbock, and before I knew it, I learned that she was a clinical social work therapist in private practice, working with the elderly and that she was returning from visiting one of her 7 kids in Austin. I’m usually hesitant about telling strangers my state business in Lubbock. However, as a fellow social worker, I gave her a vague snippet. I won’t talk about it here either, but for the record, it’s official state business and it’s not really in Lubbock. Lubbock is just the biggest city to fly in.

That Sunday, I wasn’t in the mood for small talk because I was somewhat sad about leaving my family on a Sunday and was prepping my mind for Monday’s meeting. However, I usually end up caught in random conversations because I’ve accepted the fact that folks in Texas are chatty and I think I have one of those faces that say, “You can tell me anything…I’ll listen”. She might have noticed that I was reading a book about difficult conversations. If I remember, I will come back to cite it later, but I believe the author’s name is Harrier Lerner, a psychotherapist, and it’s one of the “Dance with…” books. (UPDATE: Harriet Lerner, PhD, The Dance of Connection). Her first one was called the “The Dance of Anger”. I have that one too. I learned about her through social worker and researcher Brene Brown’s references.

My flight neighbor and I had a nice conversation, exchanged business cards, and despite her offer to call me whenever I’m in town, I knew that was the end of that exchange. Unless, I see her next month. I’m from Chicago, I come from a long line of suspicious people, so I’ll leave that at that. But seriously, I’ll keep her card just in case.

I spent part of Sunday night shopping for some healthy snacks/foods while away from home and prepping for my Monday meeting. The visit went well. I always feel better when I prepare. I pray that I am relaxed, professional, and myself. I channel my higher self and then everything else goes smoothly. I’m sharing this because on these trips, I’m sure that it would be preferred that I not be there. However, I am there representing the state, the agency that allocated funds to this entity to provide a service, so my hosts tend to be attentive and on their best behavior.

The End (of the week)

Yesterday, I was presented with an opportunity that I had not expected. It would mean a great amount of responsibility at work and I know that there are people who have their doubts about me. However, there are also people in high places that think highly of me. My insecurities bubbled up. Never mind, what they think of me…do I think I can do it? This is what I’m faced with. I can’t go into detail now, but I decided that now is as best a time as ever to have faith in myself. I’ve been making moves already. I simply need to decide. I activated my personal prayer warriors…people who I know will pray for me and I asked them to pray for me about this particular thing. I really want to and need to hear God on this. It’s not about the money although that definitely helps. If I am still in consideration for this opportunity, I’m going to give it my best shot. I deserve to do this for myself. Confidence and doubt. Courage and Fear. Bold and reticent. Extrovert and introvert. I have all of these traits. Some of them can be euphoric, and others downright painful, but I still move forward. It’s about growth.

 

 

 

 

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Gray area

I first noticed this one gray, curly hair in 2009, a little while after I started graduate school at the University of Texas. At the time, it was a shock. Now, I expect them at my age, although I’m not necessarily comfortable with the idea. I’m very curious about if there are more, but I don’t know. I can’t tell with my naked eyes. I don’t have the best vision, and apparently, the best lighting in my bathroom. I think my big kinky, curly hair has the ability to masque the grays, so as far as I know, that’s the only one I have. I’ve asked my husband to check, and insists no, but I’m not confident in how thorough he looked.  I’ve noticed more younger women (30’s, 40’s) with gray hair and they wear it proudly. That makes me want to embrace it.

Admittedly, I’m not excited about going gray, especially since I feel young at heart. The inevitable will happen. I’m acknowledging that I may struggle with this. I’m thinking about making a hair salon appointment next month for my 44th birthday. I haven’t been to a salon or had anyone else work on my hair since I’ve been natural (11 years). I’m contemplating a change. I’m generally a brave person, but we’ll see if I’m brave enough to follow through with this.

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Intimate moments

This doesn’t apply to everyone, but something weird happens when you’ve been married to someone for almost 20 years like myself. The details of life can wear you down, flip the script and highlight all of the negative things about your beloved spouse whereas in the beginning years, you focused only on the beautiful things.

Recently, a memory flashed in my mind of when I was recovering from giving birth to my daughter. I was heavily sedated in the hospital due to extreme pain after the anesthesia wore off from the c-section and I remembered my husband whispering a message in my ear a few times, “Get better…our babies need you.” One might argue he said that for selfish reasons, but I know he was encouraging me to get better so I could take care of OUR babies. They all needed me including him. I also have memories of him kissing me on my forehead from time to time as I was sleeping. If he still does it, I wouldn’t know because I sleep like a brick nowadays. Whatever the case, when I think about very intimate memories like those, I get a warm feeling inside and am reminded of the unmistakable love my husband has for me. Hold on to memories like that. Use those reminders to fuel the flame and draw closer…not farther away.

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I need a change

Do you ever feel like something needs to change in your life, but you don’t know what? I’m at that place. I’m not sure if it’s my job or my perspective, neither or both, but I’ve been searching for something lately. One minute, I think, “Just ride this wave…things are good and smooth!” Then another minute, I think, “I need something new in my life. I need to SHAKE things up!” I’ve been praying about it too. Whatever the case, I made a move today that may set the wheels in motion to shake things up. The truth is that it’s not like me to remain still.

I’ve been thinking about giving back to my social work community and becoming a field instructor after all these years (really only 5 since I got my license). That means that I would supervise a student (preferably graduate level) at my agency for the duration of their internship. I work at the macro level, meaning I work with organizations and systems rather than with individuals and families. When I worked in direct practice (micro level) in the mental health field, there was never a dull moment because clients kept it interesting. By working in program development/implementation and public policy, things can get boring and monotonous. However, I do not miss the thought of having a caseload. My ideal mix would be to work in administration, yet be close enough to clients to see progress. I get a little bit of that in my current role.

I read some information and sent a few emails, which perked me up (not that I was down). I also ended up committing myself to some extra work to the tune of developing a curriculum. We’ll see how that goes…if it goes at all…I have some questions out.

I’m curious to know how you manage those moments of wanting a change, but not being sure of what that entails? Feel free to drop a line. I’ll keep posted on my endeavors.

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Glowed Up

It’s been 13 days since I’ve been on a vegan journey and it’s been amazing. I’m all GLOWED UP from the inside out and I want to tell everybody about it. I started to type that “no, I’m not going to be a vegan for the long haul”, but that’s mostly because the whiff of french fries and broiled steak still gets my mouth-watering and stomach churning.  I’m more than half way through this cleanse. When the 21 days is over, I may very well decide that I’m a convert. I’ve definitely entertained the idea of becoming a vegan. However, this has been a lot of work. It’s a commitment to better eating habits. It’s a commitment to myself. 

I’ve been on the fence about doing this particular cleanse, Fresh Start 21, Spring Edition, partly because I’ve completed 2 and started a 3rd one with Simple Green Smoothies earlier this year.  I completed Simple 7 and Thrive: 7-Day Reset. I attempted Fresh Start 21 (fall edition) back in February 2017, but at 5 days in, my dear friend took me on a weekend spa adventure. The great recipes in the Thrive cleanse opened my eyes to the vegan possibilities. I didn’t know vegan food could be so filling, delicious and creative. In addition to the cleanse guide which included a meal calendar, a shopping list and the recipes for smoothies, snack, and meals, there was a very supportive, Facebook Live group – the icing on the cake. It was so helpful to read daily posts from participants from all over the world. To know that I wasn’t alone was comforting and encouraging. It was a fun experience, which is why I was very interested in joining the most updated Fresh Start cleanse. The format is very similar to the Thrive 7-Day reset.

So why did I need a Fresh Start? I’ve been wanting to kick my sugar habit for a while now and my bout with breast cancer was good motivation. The main reasons why I wanted to do the cleanse was to develop the habit of being more deliberate about food choices, gain more energy and focus, to feel lighter, kick the sugar habit, and lose a few pounds. I’ve been open to learning new recipes and incorporating more whole foods into my diet.  Most people in my circle know that I’m all about green smoothies, but I wanted to go further. I frequently post pictures on my Facebook page of green smoothies and healthy ingredients/meals.  I even wrote a blog post about my love for green smoothies (you can read about it here). I attempted to do Fresh Start Fall Edition on my own in early February, and as I typed earlier, I got through 5 of 21 days. I had been receiving emails about the Fresh Start Spring Edition, so it was on my mind.

What led me to ultimately take the challenge was that I knew the Live Facebook group would be supportive, and let me tell me you, it’s been amazing. I’ve enjoyed communicating with fellow Rawkstars (cleansers) from around the world. The orchestrator and co-founder of the Simple Green Smoothies movement, Jen Hansard, and the recipe creator, Lindsey Johnson, communicate with us frequently by answering questions, offering tips and encouragement, and checking in to see how we’re doing. It’s been entertaining and refreshing to see how honest folks are as we complete the cleanse.

Fresh Start: Spring Cleanse

Fresh Start: Spring Cleanse

So how am I doing on the cleanse? The first week was the honeymoon phase. The recipes were great and filling. I wasn’t hungry during that week at all. It was exciting communicating with other cleansers. The prep was grueling, but I soon found out how helpful the prep actually is during the week, especially as a busy working mom. What I like about this plan is the flexibility to move snacks & meals around and rotate the ones you really like into your schedule. 

The second week (which I’m in now) has been more challenging because this is where the cleanse really kicks in. Calories and proteins are drastically reduced and grains, legumes, and bananas are omitted. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been hungry all week and not all of the recipes appeal to me. However, I’ve been sticking to it despite having a small cheat meal yesterday.  My husband and I took my daughter shopping for Easter. While out and about, we naturally got hungry. My husband suggested burgers for himself and the kids and I began to panic. What is neat about the restaurant he chose is that they have fresh vegan burgers. I ended up having a quinoa vegan burger, green style (lettuce as the bun). I know…I wasn’t supposed to have quinoa this week, but I took the plunge.  I also had 6 french fries (they were ok).  When I got home I enjoyed my cheat meal, but got right back on track and ate one of my avocado lime popsicles. My scale let me know this morning that the cleanse is doing its job, which has encouraged me to keep going.

At day 13 (of 21), some of the benefits of the Fresh Start: Spring Edition cleanse that I have personally experienced are:

  • Clearer skin (The GLOW)
  • More energy
  • More sound sleep
  • Feeling lighter
  • 4.5 pounds of weight loss

This has been a success thus far and I plan to keep going. I’m all GLOWED UP from the inside out and I’m glad that I’m doing this for myself. I saw my oncologist this week and he told me that I was healthy, looked great, and to keep doing what I’m doing. That put a smile on my face. Regardless of whether or not I decide to become a vegan, eating more whole foods and less processed foods is the way to go for me. 

I’ll soon write another post of this experience. Stay tuned!