Get Your Head in the Game

If you read my books, newsletters, or articles or go to my website at straightforwardfitness.com, you quickly get the gist that my central message is about living a healthy lifestyle. I try to give tips, encouragement, advice, and hopefully inspiration that will help you to live a more authentic and fulfilling life.

I like to think we are put on this planet to do more than merely exist and survive. I don’t know about you, but I endeavor to live more joyfully and thrive every day. And it’s my quest to help you do the same.

One of my most significant challenges has always been trying to stay out of my own way. Anybody who truly knows me can testify to that. I read self-help books like a kid eats candy. I work out daily and try to make healthy nutrition choices. I focus on my spiritual connection with the Universe, All-that-is, God, whatever you want to call your higher power. I do all these things yet still I struggle sometimes. I am human. I have weaknesses. Who doesn’t?

I read somewhere in one of those gazillion books that I love so much, that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and that throughout a lifetime of learning experiences, we may sometimes be both guided as well as the guider. This profundity gives me great comfort on occasion when I am writing and become overwhelmed with a sense of unworthiness. When that little voice in my head asks, “Who am I to think I should or could teach this? I am still learning it myself.”

However, many times I find that through the research and the consequent writing I am refreshed and inspired anew. I am learning and growing along with all of you. It’s been laid upon my heart to share as I go. Hence, the creative projects I feel so inclined to generate are born and hopefully, we all learn as a result.

I am thankful for the platform of the World Wide Web and the freedom it provides for people like you and me to connect and grow. I am excited to be alive in this day and time in history to experience the phenomena of the digital age. What fun!?

One of the things I find the most challenging about staying on a daily fitness regimen is when I find myself caught up in one of those struggling days. One of those days where I am so much in my own way that I feel paralyzed and stuck. The only way to get past it is to realize that in truth, it’s all in my head. None of it is real. It’s just stuff I am making up as I go along.

Think about this: Let’s say you are talking to your workout buddy and she tells you how fat she feels today. She says she feels so unattractive that she doesn’t want to go to the gym tonight. She’s depressed and embarrassed and hates how she looks and feels in her gym attire, and she essentially bails on your workout for the night.

You were both just at the gym yesterday, and she was fine. I’d say the chances are that in reality, she did not wake up today suddenly huge and hideous. But in her mental reality, she did. Why? Because she allowed the ugly self-image and negative self-talk to take over her brain and then it hijacked her actions and deeds.

She did not go to the gym. She stayed home and ate ice cream instead. This can create a vicious cycle. When we allow ourselves to get caught up in this stinking thinking it is easy to not show up for our own lives. Hiding out at home instead of getting out into the world where opportunities and people abound will only ensure our worse fears become a reality.

Keep skipping the gym and eating ice cream instead and see what that manifests! Just so happens that very night at the gym your friend’s soul mate (whom she hasn’t met yet) was there and your friend was home feeding her false misconceptions and missed out big-time!

That’s why it is so important to get our heads in the game. It’s why I read so many self-help, personal growth books. In a world where we are entirely inundated 24/7 with negativity and bad news, especially these days, we need to do all we can to counteract that with good stuff. With positive, soul-nurturing, books, movies, music, art, people, and activities.

It’s why I write. It’s my hope that something I write may help lift someone up who is feeling down. And in doing so, it lifts me up too. In truth, when I sat down to write today, my energy was low. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

I had to take a break and go to the gym to train a client. I wasn’t really in the mood for that either, but I went, and that helped a lot. Just getting out and changing my headspace was sort of like hitting the reset button in my brain. When I got back home, I began to write again, and now as I am about to finish up this particular blog post, I am feeling 100 percent better than when I first began writing it a few hours ago. My energy has wholly shifted!

I knew that I wanted to write a post entitled “Get Your Head in the Game,” but when I sat down to write, my head was anywhere but in the game. I was in a super-low energy mood. But I persevered and began writing the article anyway. The trick was not giving in to the negative self-talk. I moved through it. Sometimes you just have to fake it til ya make it!

In the process, the teacher became the student and I am changed because of it. I love it when life works like this!

Here’s the thing, (and there’s always a thing): Life always works like this when we get out of our own way; when we get out of our head and whatever delusions may live there and allow ourselves to connect to something bigger. The Universe, God, wants us to see the truth, to make the connection and get in the game. That’s when the magic happens!

I am so happy to announce that I am working on a new online platform and several new projects. After getting sort of off track for the past several years, I am back, and I am older and wiser. I feel like I fell asleep at the wheel and woke up, and I realize I better get busy because life is passing me by, and I am running out of time.

So, I am revising all of my books beginning with the first one in the Now What series, So You Want to Get Fit…Now What?. In the next few weeks, I will re-release them as I go. I plan to give the first one away for a limited time so be sure and stay posted by subscribing to this blog via email in the upper right-hand corner. Then you can take advantage of it as soon as I re-launch it. This will also keep you updated on all the new and exciting free stuff I’ll be offering you as well as new posts!

I am also going to be revamping this website. I am going to be setting up some free short email courses and membership plans and much, much more. I am rolling up my sleeves and preparing for some new and exciting ideas and projects, including brand new books. I hope you will come along with me for the ride! Get ready, because changes are about to happen!

This is my promise to you: I will make a daily effort to keep my head in the game, and I will make it my mission to help you do the same.

Thanks for playing. 🙂

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Don’t Die with the Music Still in You!

Once upon a time in what seems like another life, I was a singer/songwriter. I lived in Nashville, Tennessee. I was young and had the world at my fingertips and my whole life ahead of me.

That’s me in the blue sweater with my band, Savvy, 1996.

I wrote songs constantly. Some people journal. Not me. My songs were my journal. Writing songs provided the perfect outlet. That’s how I coped with whatever was going on in my life at any given time.

It seemed like all I had to do was open my eyes in the morning and songs would come spewing forth as naturally for me as breathing for most folks.

Now, I am not saying they were all potential hit songs. My point is that I was super-inspired to write on most days. If someone had told me I had to stop writing, it would have been akin to death by suffocation. Inspiration and subsequent writing was as much a part of what made me tick as basal metabolism is to human functioning.

Funny how when we are young we think we have all the time in the world. We believe we are invincible. Then one day we wake up pushing 60, and it feels like it all flashed by in seconds instead of years. Like all of a sudden, you find yourself in an old body wondering what happened. Who is that in the mirror, and what have they done with the real me?

I have this box of lyrics that I have been lugging around with me for the past 30 years or so. It began with a notebook at the tender age of 17. After a lifetime of experiences, it’s become my treasure chest of memories filled with hundreds of either full songs or partial lyrics.

Whenever I sit and read them, I am taken back in time to the special occasion, the heartbreak, the love of my life, or whatever may have prompted that particular song de jour. Talk about a blast from the past!

The lyrics always elicit an emotion I find hard to put into words. Even if it’s a sad heartbreak song, they inevitably take me back to a better time. To a time when I felt the future was exciting, and possibilities were limitless. Back before I felt so jaded by a life that has somehow shanghaied me and passed me by, leaving regret and disillusionment.

How did I get to be this old? And worse, why do I read these lyrics and realize that I am still searching for the same things I was searching for 20-30 or more years ago?

As another year nears its end, it makes me think about my life and ponder what it all means. Why does it seem that some people are destined to struggle to find their purpose, while others know from an early age exactly what they want; it’s like they were born knowing precisely how they are going to achieve it. I’ve always envied those folks.

<<Insert Energy Shift Here>>

Hold on a second! I’m not dead yet! Right? Who’s to say that I can’t pull these songs out, dust them off, and bring them to life again? In fact, maybe my music was ahead of its time back then. Perhaps the time is now for these songs to have their heyday!

After all, I am a baby boomer who recently moved to a state filled to the brim with other baby boomers. My fellow Floridians are full of life, vim, and vigor, as well as the wisdom that comes naturally with their years of experience on planet Earth!

Boomers tend to be intrinsically nostalgic in comparison to younger folks. Who better to appreciate my heartfelt musings from “back in the day” than the kindred spirits I now find myself surrounded by as I enter the autumn of my life?

Perhaps instead of giving in to a “woe is me” attitude, I shall choose instead to put myself out there once again. These songs may be old to me, but they are new to all the folks who are about to hear them for the first time. Thankfully, I have hundreds in my library.

I am determined to face my fears and take one more stab at this dream of mine before it’s too late. The time has come to act on this lifelong burning desire to bare my soul through sharing my song journal in the hopes of finding acceptance, a smile, and a nod of validation in return.

Me in 2015, older and wiser!

My journey may seem mundane by most standards, but hopefully, the songs of my life add a unique flavor of interest to an otherwise unnoteworthy life.

This time around, rather than a scared, insecure young girl who allowed the fantastic talent I was surrounded by in Music City all those years ago to intimidate me into silence, I now have the perspective of a seasoned traveler whose biggest fear is dying with my music still in me. I’ll funnel this emotion into heartfelt performances.

However, songs are not the only written endeavors in my cyber closet. My fitness eBooks are as timeless as my songs, based on ageless fundamental principles of exercise and fitness. The Now What Fitness Series is still the least expensive cyber stocking stuffer you can buy that packs a huge bang for your buck!

Each book gives easily digestible information about how to achieve a healthier, happier life through improved and active lifestyle choices. Instructions on implementing a cardio routine, a strength training regimen and sensible eating habits are all explained in a way that won’t break the bank nor take hours and hours of reading through unnecessary fluff and hype. Just the facts!

If you are new to the gym or fitness arena, they are perfect! If you need a refresher course, they are perfect! If you are a bodybuilder, not-so-much. If you are a seasoned athlete looking for the next level to advance your routine, not the right book for you.

These books target newbies, peeps who’ve never really been sure of what to do, or folks returning to fitness after a long hiatus.

Peruse the collection and grab a copy of whichever ones you feel will do the trick. Or go for the compilation. For the price, you cannot go wrong. The So You Joined a Gym…Now What? books are jam-packed with a bunch of info (including sample workouts) that will boost your gym knowledge just in time for your New Year’s resolution gym membership! They are much more than a motivational book, though I know they WILL motivate you into action-oriented results!

That’s it for now! Until next time, thank you for reading! Good luck! Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! And may God bless you! Namaste! 🙂

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Is Life Happening To You?

My journey has been an interesting one, providing me with ample opportunity for learning experiences ripe with wisdom. I’ve gone from Indiana to Tennessee to Florida, back to Tennessee, back to Indiana, back to Tennessee, back to Indiana and then to Maui (that’s right, I said Maui), again back to Indiana, to North Carolina and finally back to Florida. Whew!

After years of traversing here and there and chasing this endeavor and that desire, I have finally made my way to the city of my dreams.

I know, I know…to those who live here it may be just another Florida Gulf Coast city. But to me…well let’s suffice it to say I’ve been envisioning, meditating, praying, affirming, and anything else I can do to manifest this dream into reality for at least 15 years.

Low and behold I am here and extremely excited to see what life has in store for me now that I’ve arrived. Since getting here a few weeks ago, I’ve been confronted with some serious decisions. Anyone who knows me knows that this is not one of my greatest talents. Decision making is a very difficult task for me for some reason. My closest friends and partners have confessed that they would like to throttle me after watching the endless torturous process I put myself through with every “important” decision I encounter.

This week’s mental tennis match was all about career choices. I was offered an option that truly came out of left field. This job had its major advantages; however, at the end of the day I felt that I was selling my soul for those amenities. It only took me 24 hours to realize that my gut was screaming, “Don’t do it!”

What I have failed to mention is this job offer came on the heels (the very next day) of a super-invigorating interview that went very well, and I had all but accepted a position doing something that felt very right for me. In fact, I had planned on contacting this person the following Monday and accepting the position. I had truly felt that destiny was in play. My mind begged to ask, why did this other offer enter the picture?

I have always been a very spiritual person. Raised in a very conservative Christian home, it took a lot of independence, rebelliousness, courage, and strength to break free from my family’s religious beliefs that don’t truly fit for me, and find my own voice. I am a seeker. I seek truth. I seek what makes me feel alive. I know when something resonates within and when it does not. Still for some reason I tend to second guess my inner voice a lot when it comes to the more mundane decisions in life. That is something I continue to work on.

My search for my truth has led me to some truly amazing books and resources that continue to expand my consciousness as well as my awareness in ways that literally blow my mind! It’s exciting and awe-inspiring every time the Universe brings me to a new precipice that allows my beliefs to take a quantum leap into a concept that only moments before seemed impossible to grasp. These epiphanies and “aha” moments provide a turbo boost to my spiritual and personal growth.

My quest for these golden nuggets of spiritual manna is a never ending journey that I am grateful beyond words for, and it brings me tremendous joy and fulfillment. With each new book, film, website, or whatever form God decides to use to guide me, comes yet more clues to why I am here and what my mission is while on planet Earth as Linda Burke.

It is hard for me to comprehend that some people actually go through their entire lives without awakening to their innate desire to grow…to find their purpose…to feel this amazing miracle of connection to Spirit, Source, God, or whatever you choose to call it. I usually use Universe/God interchangeably and fully realize that this great unconditional loving power that permeates our world cares not what we call it.

It seems to me that most people go through life thinking that “stuff is happening to them.” They say things like, “Why is this happening to me?” Or “What have I done to deserve this?” Worse, they blame God for the things they perceive to be bad when things go “wrong.” I believe this mentality is exactly what is “wrong.”

You see, I believe we create our own reality through the choices we make, which in turn brings about the consequences or “stuff they think is happening to them.” God gave us free will. It is up to us to choose wisely or foolishly. It’s a simple case of cause and effect. Now, that doesn’t mean miracles don’t or can’t happen. I absolutely believe they can and do. But I believe we have much more control over such occurrences or at least we play a much more active role in them than the average person realizes.

Quantum physics has proven that merely watching something occur can change the outcome of the event. This is a scientific fact that should be on the headlines of every newspaper. It should be a news ticker that runs across your television every hour. Its implications are that profound! (Click on the quantum physics and scientific fact links if you want to delve further into these concepts.)

This theory distilled and simplified to the max means that our intentions or thoughts can and do actually become reality. In the words of one of my favorite New Thought speakers and authors, Mike Dooley, “Thoughts Become Things!”

I have personally demonstrated it myself daily, and have observed it through other people’s lives over and over. Here is an example of how it works:

Your day begins as usual, but just before heading out the door for work the phone rings. You answer it to find out your 2 o’clock appointment was cancelled so the sell you thought you were going to make today falls through. You say out loud, “Great! Just my luck!” Feeling quite perturbed, you hang up the phone and walk over to grab your keys and they are not on the hook where they normally hang awaiting your retrieval. You say out loud, “Perfect! I can see what kind of day this is going to be!” You search for 20 minutes only to find them where you laid them as you stopped to answer the phone 20 minutes earlier. Now you are frustrated, perturbed, and late. You storm out the door and get into your car. Driving to work, you get pulled over because you’re speeding due to running late and you get a ticket. “Why is this s**t happening to me?”

Once the spiral begins, it is easy to careen down a negative path that only attracts more negativity into its trajectory. It’s the law of attraction in action. If you allow yourself to be sucked into this negative vortex, it will only expand and grow more negative outcomes. You are so caught up in negative emotion that you don’t even notice the beautiful sapphire blue sky, the amazing huge butterfly that’s following you from the car to your office building door, or the flowers on your desk that an appreciative client had delivered to you. Not to mention, the fact that you have a nice car, great house, wonderful spouse and are breathing, walking and are healthy and alive to enjoy the everyday blessings you are surrounded by.

How many times has something you perceived as bad occurred in your life and you thought it was the worst thing possible only to turn out to be a blessing in disguise? This happens to me all the time. It’s not what happens to us that matters as much as how we respond to it. This is much easier said than done. But it is so true.

Try instead to realize that sometimes things happen for our own good, and that behind the scenes there is a divine order, a higher power that is working on our behalf and in our favor. If you can begin to entertain this attitude, it will bring profound blessings into your life. I promise!

To continue with this example: That evening when you get home you see on the news there was a random shooting at the very restaurant where you were supposed to have met the person who cancelled on you earlier that day. Tragically, 6 people were killed and several injured. Sort of takes the sting out of that cancelled appointment and traffic ticket, doesn’t it?

Next time something is testing you, why not step back, take a deep breath and really try to see it from a different angle. Try not to knee-jerk react with actions that come from anger or fear. Instead, go within and ask God, your guides, your higher power, for clarity, guidance and wisdom to realize that life is not out to get you. Life wants you to get it…to realize that the magic in the underlying laws of the Universe that govern life everywhere are at work whether we acknowledge it or not. The sooner we wake up to our own innate power that is lying dormant just under our own radar, the sooner we will understand that the possibilities are limitless.

With this one pivot, this one seemingly simple adjustment in our thinking, our lives can change dramatically! Wake up! Take control of your destiny. It’s your God-given right and your responsibility.

Begin each day by setting your intention to stay aware and on track. When challenges come your way, remember the traffic ticket in comparison to the lost lives at the restaurant shooting. Get some perspective. Count your blessings and come from a spirit of gratitude instead of anger or frustration.

When my knees hurt I always try to remember there are those with no legs. When my plans for my house renovation are stalled, I try to remember there are homeless people who would give anything for my household problems. When my heart hurts because I miss my family, I try to remember there are those who have no one.

Is life happening to you? Pivot from negativity to gratitude and begin to create a better life immediately. Open your eyes and heart to the awareness that many times you are creating your own suffering through the choices you have made and are continuing to make.
I am not saying we knowingly invite suffering and tragedy into our lives. However, we cannot possibly comprehend the intricate web of circumstances underlying the divine order of all events in this world. Why not exercise our positive mentality in order to attract a more harmonious outcome?

This simple awareness alone will illuminate your path allowing the Universe to align circumstances and synchronicities that will inspire and rejuvenate your spirit, restoring your faith and fueling you for further expansion and fulfillment.

This philosophy goes hand in hand with physical health. Why? You will find that once you begin this type of spiritual work, you will inherently want to take better care of yourself. Our bodies are the temple of our souls. It’s time we take better care of them.

My Now What Fitness Series can help you pivot from out of shape and unhealthy to physically fit and healthy! They are succinct and to the point. No wasting time on fluff or filler. Pure guidance on how to exercise and train smart and eat right!

Check them out! They are easy on the wallet to boot! If you don’t like them, return them! It’s that simple.

Stop living by default! Life doesn’t have to happen to you. Take control of your life, health and longevity. Buy my books and begin exercising and living a healthy lifestyle, and you will be amazed at the new and positive things that will begin to manifest in your life.

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That ONE Thing

I was sitting at my piano earlier today—something I don’t do nearly often enough—playing around with a song that I wrote a couple of years ago when my heart was very broken. As I was singing the words to that song, it hit me out of the blue that I am finally healed. It hit me that I am okay, that I survived and I am a better person for it. Now I can look back at everything that happened to me that made me write these completely forlorn and heartbroken lyrics.  I can finally say I understand what happened and why.

After weeks, months, and years of processing what had happened and wrestling with my own inner demons, a sweet peace has finally permeated my being and the consequent healing is nothing short of miraculous. I am happy. I promise there was a time I didn’t think I would ever feel good again. This has made me realize that there is an important message here.

I know there are people out there who are hurting and are thinking, “I can’t do this—I can’t survive it.” I promise that you will. If you will just go through the motions of whatever you have to do to get through that day, that hour, that minute when you think you can’t possibly do it. If you can just hang on, things do and will get better. The clouds will clear and the sun will shine again. It has taken me over two years to get back to the person I know I can be. I lost myself completely in utter sadness and hopelessness. Depression is too kind of a word for how low a person can get. It’s important to understand that hope and joy lie just beyond those dark clouds. I realize once again what a beautiful gift life truly is.

So, here I am basking in this awesome epiphany when the Universe decides to bump it up a notch. I switched places, moving from my piano to my computer. On my computer I found a personal FB message from a very cool guy I used to train. He has come through a very physically challenging time to arrive on the other end of it. He can now see that his life-altering obstacle was all just a part of life that he had to learn to roll with. It took a lot of pain, frustration, patience and a subsequent hip transplant, but he is now in a place where he can pick up where we left off and get back to his original goal to be a healthier version of himself through health and fitness. He plans to use what I taught him as he moves forward in his journey. He is thanking me for what I did for him back when (little did he know) I was feeling so low that it was all I could do to move through the motions of a typical day—back when I felt my life was pointless. Yet, I made a difference in his life. What a blessing to hear this from him! Thank you Universe!

What perfect timing for me to check my FB page and see his heartfelt gratitude. He wished me well on my journey and hoped that life was bringing me all the wonderful joys that life can bring a person. And thank God it is! I went through the dark night of my soul to come out on this side and feel the warmth of gratitude and joy again. Feeling the rays of hope and happiness infiltrate my being. Something I feared I’d never feel again. To cross through such a mental and emotional abyss and arrive on the other side with a new perspective of strength and respect for myself again is no small miracle.

It made me think of that line in the movie, City Slickers, where Curly (Jack Palance) tells Mitch (Billy Crystal) about the secret to life, that ONE thing. They are both on horseback, herding cattle through Colorado and Mitch is hanging on every word as Curly reveals his life-long, hard-learnt wisdom. As he holds up his cowboy-gloved index finger, Mitch eagerly asks Curly to please give it up. “What’s the secret?” And with a cigarette hanging from the corner of his weathered lips, Curly says, “Just one thing…you stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.” To which Mitch implores, “That’s great…but what’s the one thing?” And Curly half smiles and grittily says, “That’s what you have to figure out.”

I love that! I think maybe I figured it out. Or at least my version of the riddle. Here it is. Are you ready? Drumroll, please. Life is not about the destination. It’s about the journey. I’ve always had some goal, some dream, some thing or some one that I was yearning for or working towards. In the back of my mind I was always thinking when I get this, I will be happy. When I achieve that, I will be happy. When I go here or there or when I make this or that happen, I will be happy. When I find the right partner, I will be happy. I have forgotten the joy in the journey. I’ve forgotten to notice the sights and sounds that I am missing along the way because I am so caught up in the dream of some future that may never arrive. Happiness truly is an inside job, and until you do the inner work, nothing and nobody can or will make you happy.

It’s about taking chances and making mistakes and learning from them and picking yourself back up and doing it again and again until you finally realize that the reason you keep repeating these experiences is because the Universe is trying to teach you a very important lesson. Once you finally understand that lesson, you go on to the next experience and the next lesson and so on. Yes, you are going to break some hearts and yours will probably be broken also. We all suffer loss, and I am sure there are many more challenges in my future. But I will heal and you will heal and we will all be better people for the lessons we learn. We keep going, growing and evolving along the way, because that’s life. That’s the journey. It’s what we signed up for when we agreed to allow our spirits to come into physical form. We are all spiritual beings having a physical experience. It’s the magic that makes the pain and sorrow and the happiness and joy of life on planet earth worthwhile. I know that’s easy to forget when you are in the throes of heartache. Life is a gift. It is a blessing. Life goes by so very quickly. Why squander our precious time with guilt, regret, anger, resentment, jealousy, hatred, envy?

That’s my ONE thing. My City Slicker aha moment. I want to help people, as well as myself. Life goes by in what seems like warped speed and we need to appreciate all our blessings. One of those blessings is our bodies. Our health. We spend most of our time torturing our bodies with unhealthy food and substances and then wonder why we are overweight and unhappy and in terrible health.

My books are not rocket science. I wrote them with the intention to be able to read each one in an hour or so. They are succinct and to the point. They may not bring about world peace or cure cancer, but they are a step in that direction. If you take the steps that I lay out in any one of these books, you will be healthier. You will have less of a chance for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension—just to name a few. By making healthier lifestyle choices along with stress reduction techniques that my books recommend, you will look and feel happier. Your quality of life will improve exponentially. These add up to a much more healthy and peaceful life. World peace and a cure for cancer? Maybe. One person at a time, one book at a time, together we can make your odds against cancer better and make your world a more peaceful place. And that’s how we change the world. We start with ourselves.

To help you enjoy your journey and make healthier and happier choices, check out all my Now What Fitness Books. It’s simple, straightforward fitness.

Thanks, Curly! I think I figured it out.

 

 

 

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The Right Track

For as long as I can remember, my all-time favorite cardio workout is to run/walk the beach. However, running in the sand can be quite challenging, especially for already ailing knees. I can usually take it for a few consecutive days or weeks until finally I must cry uncle and find an alternative to the mesmerizing lapping shores and invigorating sea breeze, as much as it irks me to do so. One day whilst on the island of Maui in the quaint, postcard-like city of Lahaina, after about three weeks of daily beach running, my aching knees were begging for reprieve. Hence, I reluctantly abandoned the beach for the more solid surface of the beach roads that wind throughout the interesting array of eclectic cottages and homes that populate the residential area between Honoapiilani Highway (Lahaina’s coastal highway) and the sea.

On one side of the highway are the majestic West Maui Mountains and on the other is the Pacific Ocean; nestled in between is the charming little historic whaling village known as Lahaina. The scenery is quite breathtaking and definitely a win-win situation whether running by the water or inland. On this particular run, a most unexpected event took me quite by surprise. You see, I was jogging along, minding my own business, taking in all the sights and sounds of the inherent beauty that is Maui, when I had one of the most memorable and unique encounters of my life.

Oddly, it all started with a whistle. Admittedly, I would normally view this as a very sexist and offensive act, but when I reluctantly turned my head in search of the offender, I was completely taken aback. At first I couldn’t find the source of the noise, but as I scanned the neighborhood scene around me I heard this muffled and very telephonic sounding “hello!” I thought maybe I was hearing someone on a phone or two-way radio in a nearby car or house.

I ran slowly on whilst visually searching my surroundings when again I hear, “hello!” and then another flirty whistle. Now I can feel the crease between my eyes getting deeper as I am beginning to think I must be hearing things when I finally spot him. There he sat casually perched aside a truck that was parked on the street. At first I passed him by almost without notice, then with another “hello” we finally locked eyes, and much to my chagrin I was instantly smitten. Though his conversation was slightly fragmented and in some ways felt a bit rehearsed, I still found myself mesmerized to the point of stopping my cardio workout dead in my tracks to talk to this fascinating fellow.

I have to tell you that he was really so charismatic that I immediately forgave him for crossing any lines of political correctness or unacceptable behavior with the whistling. I couldn’t believe how much I found myself drawn to this charming and comically confident Hawaiian beach dweller. After talking for a few minutes, it was all I could do to pull myself away from him to continue with my day. It’s truly something I will never forget.

I retraced my steps the next day in hopes of finding him again, but to no avail. The rest of my time in Lahaina passed quickly, but I never stopped searching for him. Isn’t that just the way life is? Some characters make these cameo appearances in the story of our lives, and at the time we may not even realize the lasting and profound effects their presence will have in our hearts and minds forever. Not until much later, after they are gone, when a certain phrase, song, or maybe even a scent takes us back to their memory and we have an epiphany. We suddenly understand the reason we crossed each other’s paths, and it always makes us feel a little better knowing that something infinitely greater than our little nearsighted brains lurks behind the curtains, pulling strings and setting events into play that far surpass anything we could ever have orchestrated ourselves.

I will never know whether this was somebody’s pet Mynah bird or even what kind of bird it was for sure. But that happenstance meeting with a talking bird on a backstreet in Lahaina, Maui was exactly what I needed at that particular time. You see, I was very distraught because I was trying to figure out whether to stay in Hawaii or return to the mainland. Nothing in my life was making sense. I’d moved there two months earlier seeking solace in paradise and found myself scared, broke, depressed, and still nursing a very broken heart. I had just purchased a ticket to return home and was battling with myself, wondering if I’d done the right thing.

Though you may not get the connection between the bird and my decision, all I can tell you is from that moment on, I just had this “knowing” that I didn’t have to be in Maui to experience the magic of the Universe and the healing I so desperately yearned for. I knew the work that needed to be done was an inside job and that I hadn’t been emotionally ready for the intensity of such a huge move. I knew it was my sign that I’d done the right thing. I’d fly back home and continue my healing journey surrounded by friends and family who love me. By the way, did I mention that my nickname for a big part of my life was Bird?

Isn’t it funny how the unexpected stuff that happens when we are forced to step off our preferred path due to what we may consider “bad luck” can sometimes lead to an even better thing? Had it not been for my throbbing knees, I would have never crossed that bird’s path, and I would have missed out on that whole extraordinary event and its underlying message for me. I swear I cannot recall that scene without getting the biggest smile on my face. It’s a fond memory of a magical time in Maui and in my life.

The older and wiser I get, the more I notice these synchronistic happenings no matter how inconsequential they may appear at first. Always in retrospect there lies a deeper meaning and a life lesson that helps light the way like a popcorn trail or a clue letting me know I’m on the right track.

If you want to start a fitness plan but don’t have a clue what to do, perhaps my books are just the popcorn trail you need to get you started on a healthier path!

I’ve written a series of fitness books that are so simple that at first glance they may not be taken seriously. But you see, I believe that it doesn’t have to be complicated to be profound. The Now What Fitness Series tells it like it is with straightforward fitness information that cuts to the chase with no frills or time-wasting gimmicks. If you want to know how to work out and what to do in order to structure a safe and effective fitness routine, in or out of the gym, these are your guidebooks.

I hope you’ll take the clues I am offering you and use them to become the fittest version of yourself that you can, because healthier truly does mean happier. Whatever you do, enjoy your journey. And the next time life throws you onto roads unplanned, remember to look for the hidden blessing amidst the detour. I promise it’s there every single time.

Aloha and mahalo.

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Jingle Bells in April

It’s Saturday morning and I’m stepping onto my elliptical machine with my usual excitement and anticipation…NOT…when I am caught off guard by the sound of an approaching train in the distance. Now, mind you, this noise is not unusual by nature since I live across the field from a train track. No, in fact it is quite routine to the point that I hardly even notice it anymore. What made it stand out on this particular day was the fact that as this lone train made its presence known, it used quite an unusual and unique announcement of its arrival instead of the standard “whoo whoo!” trains are traditionally known for. What this train bellowed instead, was the rhythm of a familiar line from a Christmas carol that everyone in the modern world knows. Needless to say, I was blown away. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

What carol, you ask? “Whoo whoo whoo, whoo whoo whoo, whoo whoo whoo whoo whoo.” Jingle Bells of course! So, here I am on this aggravatingly chilly day in April, and I’m boarding the most unexciting ride at the cardio carnival in my house (my elliptical machine) with a little less than my usual vigor, when I hear a train beckoning this unique call into the mundane Midwest morning countryside. With chin in hand, I cocked my head and smiled a wide, toothy grin. Now this got me to thinking.

What type of a train engineer blows this kind of message instead of the regular “whoo whoo” and why? Especially considering it’s not even Christmastime. I mean, come on. I live in a town that is known for being overrun by trains. You can’t go anywhere without being stopped by one. It’s frickin train central! I’ve heard a gazillion trains in my lifetime, yet never have I heard this before.

So, back to the question: What kind of train engineer follows through with a playful urge such as this by actually doing it? And more importantly, does he know how many people he just made smile? Does he know that I was very deep in thought about some not-so-pleasant issues and, therefore, feeling a bit stressed at that very moment? Yet, this total stranger, who I will never meet, completely changed my morning mood, thereby significantly improving my day.

Now, it gets better. I was so affected that I momentarily stepped down from my mission on my machine and posted about it on Facebook, and within a few minutes about 15-20 people “Liked” it. I would be willing to bet that they were smiling as they clicked.

Let me ask you something. When is the last time something someone said, did, or wrote made you pause long enough to simply smile? Now, let’s take this a step further. Did you know that studies show that smiles actually cause happiness and lower aggression? Smiling helps generate positive happy emotions within you, and this leads to a decrease in the stress-induced hormones that negatively affect your physical and mental health. Let’s face it! It just feels good to smile!

This is the very reason I “share” all the posts that I do on Facebook that are positive and have a good message and most importantly and significantly…wait for it…MAKE PEOPLE SMILE.

I am sure everybody has heard of the butterfly effect. Right? Bear with me, this gets a little hairy (science-y) for just a sec. Wikipedia states this about the butterfly effect: “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.”

My ridiculously simplified translation of what Wikipedia just stated and how it affects us in the real world is this: Everything anybody does affects everybody in one way or another everywhere. Nothing happens that doesn’t affect somebody or something somewhere! Can you say cause and effect? Can you say quantum physics? Little things matter. It all matters!

We are all made of energy. Everything on this earth is made of energy. Every thought I have, (listening to the train whistle) especially once I’ve turned it into action, (posted about it on Facebook) has now begun to affect people in a ripple effect that can go viral and rampant and THAT IS MAGIC! Energy used at its best!

Here is a hypothetical example of how this can work: Maybe somebody was going to do something not so positive (rob a liquor store) and changed his mind because something happened that changed this would-be robber’s energy or thought process from despair to hope (hearing a distant train whistle a Christmas carol in the middle of April on his way to the robbery) thereby totally changing the outcome (he takes the incident as a sign from God and decides not to rob the store). Had he carried out the robbery, he would have shot the manager and gone to prison. His seven-year-old son would have followed in his footsteps and had an illustrious career in drugs, violence, thievery, and eventually prison. Instead, the following week he found a stable job, and his son grew up to become a pillar in the community, counseling troubled youth and changing countless lives. It could happen.

And it all started with a train engineer blowing Jingle Bells on a cold and clear April morning in a lonely southwestern Indiana town.

My fitness books may not be rocket science. The Now What? Fitness Series may not be Nobel Prize winning material or a New York Times bestseller. In fact, you can read one in its entirety in a couple of hours. Will they change the world? No.

But they can change your world. Because in these books I give you practical information and guidance on how to live a healthier life. The healthier you become, the happier you will feel. And when you make lifestyle choices that include regular exercise and healthy nutrition as opposed to a sedentary lifestyle with poor eating habits, I promise you that your world will change. And when your world changes, it also changes the world of the people around you.

I cannot change the world all at once. But I can change the world one person at a time, and it starts with you.

Now, smile. Just because it feels good. 🙂

 

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My Journey Home

Remember that one time at band camp…no not at band camp…but that one time I sold everything I owned and moved to Maui? That’s right…my car, my elliptical machine, my TV, my furniture, the kitchen sink and my first born. Haha! I’ve birthed no babies so that last one was a lie. But I promise that I truly sold everything I possibly could to make the big move. That was a trip, man. Talk about radical. That’s about as radical as it can get. But they say the greater the risk the bigger the lesson learned and the greater the reward.

So, let’s see. What have I learned? Well for one thing: I learned that paradise is where the heart is. You see, before “the great MOVE” I actually thought that I could outrun myself and that the grass must surely be greener on some proverbial other side, right?

By that I mean I thought I could get far enough away from my broken heart that I could erase the pain. Gloss it over with a beautiful beach and butterflies and rainbows and make it disappear somehow. But now I know how ridiculous that thinking was. Because like the saying goes…wherever you go, there you are.

My heart just traded one pain for another. True enough, I did realize how foolish I’ve been for a very long time, and I have definitely realized that I had my priorities all screwed up. Let me just say, I don’t think I could have come to the conclusions I have without this radical move. That lesson in itself is priceless.

For instance, I get now how important my family is. I truly had lost that insight somehow. I allowed myself to get so caught up in my own little HELL that I lost sight of the most important things in life: Stuff like my family and friends and the freedom to use my time wisely when I had the things in life that provide true security in order to do that.

Now that I am a world away from all things familiar in a place surrounded by such breathtaking natural beauty in every direction that it is awe-inspiring; ironically, I still feel empty inside. I guess I naively expected to just fall into some magical paradise and VOILA, be happy! Instead, all I want to do is go home.

What is home? Where is home? Somehow I know it is not Maui for me. Nothing feels permanent or real here. It feels too surreal. Mostly it feels too far from everyone who truly cares about me.

Will I feel all better when I return to my birthplace once again? I was cursing it just two short months ago, and now I just want to click my heels like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and be transported back home. Back where I can hug my parents and tell them I am sorry. Sorry for being such a jerk for so long. Sorry for taking them for granted. I want to have the chance to help them more. To be a better daughter than I have ever been, before it is too late. I want to go back and be a better trainer, a better friend, a better sister and a better me. Perhaps in those acts of service I will find my true home.

Some may say I didn’t give Maui a fair chance. Many people will judge me and think me a failure. Well, that is their prerogative, I suppose. But I am tired. I am tired of making decisions based on what people may or may not think of me.

The truth is I came to Maui running and hiding and I found out that no matter where you go you finally have to face your own truths.

Many people go their whole lives living in denial or never going deep enough to truly investigate the bigger questions lying dormant in the recesses of their minds. Instead, they numb themselves to their pain through whatever coping mechanisms they may choose, like applying a Band-Aid to a broken limb, and then they wonder why their wounds won’t heal.

I, personally, have always lived my life on the deep side of the pool, sometimes to my detriment, I’m sure. My survival techniques have ranged from think tank to drink tank. I fluctuate from ecstatic epiphanies to nearly drowning in my own backwash. The juxtaposition of this constant mental dance can be exhausting and keeps me gasping for air much of the time.

For me, this two-month adventure was a fast track cosmic wake-up call. As if the Universe slapped me in the face and said, “Snap out of it!” I had hoped to find true happiness on this enchanting and mysterious island, but I now know that I cannot find true solace by merely changing my physical location no matter how dreamy the destination appears to onlookers. I must face my own demons that reside inside myself no matter where I go.

This is what I had to travel so very far…fourteen thousand miles round trip to learn. My inner voice is screaming, “Go home and continue to face your demons there!”

And so, home I will go. I will return to my haven of security with my new-found wisdom, and I will carry on with my journey…my journey to the “real” me…my journey HOME.

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Why I Love Karen Carpenter Beyond Her Music

The other day, I was driving home after training a client at the gym when I heard a great old song that took me back like songs often do. You know, the kind of song that makes you instantly go back in time to a memory that takes you into another world; a slow dance with your first love, hanging out with your best friends, or simply being young and carefree?  You didn’t know it then, but years later you’d hear that song and instantly be transported, as if in a time machine, to that exact same feeling in your very soul.

“When I was young, I’d listen to the radio waitin’ for my favorite song…every sha la la la every wo wo wo still shines…”

Man, could she sing! The Carpenters were so cool back then. I remember how much I loved Karen Carpenter as a teenager, and though this dates me terribly, I wanted to be just like her. Any song she and her brother released went gold and touched the hearts of every person that heard them. I mean, really, who didn’t love the Carpenters? And, I still do today.

From “Rainy Days and Mondays,” which I still break into on some rainy Mondays, to “We’ve Only Just Begun,” which I sang at dozens of weddings back in the day, Karen Carpenter became a part of our lives forever more.

How amazing it would be to be able to touch and influence so many lives just by opening your mouth and letting your God-given talent pour out. Still, she was unable to see how special she was. Somehow, this incredibly talented woman became entangled in a sickness that eventually cut her remarkable life short. The world was truly robbed of an awesome and beautiful person, and because of what?

It’s hard to comprehend the heartbreaking battle that must have raged on inside her mind. My heart breaks to think of what she must have gone through. Right now, how many people are waging that same secret war inside themselves, trying desperately to fit into society’s idea of how they should look?

I believe with all of my heart that if Karen Carpenter were alive today, she’d talk about how she lost track of what was truly important. She’d encourage us to be strong, vibrant and happy in our own skin, and to stop wasting our lives worrying about what anybody thinks about how we look.

I never had the privilege of knowing Karen Carpenter personally, but somehow I know in my heart that the purpose of Karen’s life transcends her music. She left behind a message that speaks to everyone who wishes their body was better, skinnier, prettier, or more like the models the media inundates us with.

Karen’s gift to the world goes far beyond her musical talents. Maybe her life’s purpose was to compel us to look deep inside for the one true thing that can make us happy. It would be easy to say her death was a waste, but I see it quite differently. She stands for every person out there who hates themselves for not having the “perfect body”, or who feels inadequate for whatever reason.

At first glance, my books may seem to be just another health and fitness gimmick, or something similarly trite and superficial.  But truly, The Now What? Fitness Series is about how to avoid becoming a victim of society’s expectations, and how to stop comparing ourselves to the “beautiful people” the media crams down our throats. There is a simple and healthy way to become and stay fit and happy, so that we can live quality-filled lives into our golden years.

Over the past three decades, I’ve had the opportunity to work with people with a variety of fitness goals and challenges. I believe that inside those who are unhappy with their appearance lies a Karen Carpenter.  One, who like Karen, feels desperate, unworthy, and inadequate, no matter what their size or weight may be.

I may not be able to work personally with everyone fighting this type of battle, but I can say to you what I think Karen would say if she were alive today.  I believe she’d say — Life is too short to compare yourself to anyone. Do what you can to live your life in healthy and positive ways, and let the insecurities go. Find the tools to help yourself make constructive changes, and do the best with what God gave you.  Most importantly, you should love and be true to yourself. We are all perfect in God’s eyes.

And to Karen I would say:
I love you and your music, and I thank you for the total legacy you left behind. It was not in vain.


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