No-vember

Welcome NO-vember!

No November blues this year! As we are coming towards the end of the year we more often than not start to feel worn out, exhausted and `off`. Well, at least I assume I am not alone out there feeling like that?!

The past weeks have been dragging as I seem to have lost motivation, energy and simply feel  `sluggish`. I appear to be fit on the outside, but something is not right. But I am over it. Neither do I want to blame it on November and its colder and darker days nor on any outside factors. That would all be too simple; an easy way out;  a lame excuse.

No, it is time for some reflection!
It is time to look at myself only.
It is time to take action instead of falling deeper into the `sluggishness`.

I am sure you noticed on yourself that you are more vulnerable, feel more agitated and stressed when you are physically and mentally running low. Well I do not like this feeling and I invite you to join me this month to change that! My doctor- and blood results are all fine, but I dropped the ball when it comes to my own wellbeing on small but important daily things. No more excuses and one month to strengthen myself!

Don`t let the November blues hit you and join me!
Let`s embrace November and rephrase it into “NO-vember” this year! 

Time to say “no” to a few things we know that aren`t doing us good! Time to say “Yes” to thinks that will do us good!  The “no-yes” approach will help to fool the mind. Only saying “no” may be counterproductive as we then tend to crave the “no-s” even more. So make sure to balance it with a “Yes”!

Here is what I am saying No and Yes to in No-vember:

No – to skipping lunch
Yes – to lunch time! Even if time is tight there needs to be time for a (quick) lunch! Skipping lunch tends to leave me famish by the late afternoon and that is when all the really nasty unhealthy (over)eating kicks in for me!

No – to skipping on vegetables and fruits
Yes – to always join in when I serve fruits and veggies to the kids. Funny enough I am picky when it comes to fruits and veggies for the kids, but I often tend to rather serve it to them then myself!

No – to more than 2 sweet things a day
Yes – to some good chocolate or home-baked treats or cake when out and about.
I am a sweet addict, so taking this totally of my list is a no-go, I do not want additional pressure on me. But becoming aware that I definitely can reduce on that front is a good step forward

Yes – to more protein! Protein are known to reduce sugar cravings. I tried that for a while during a nutrition study and it worked for me, so I will say yes to that one, too!

No – to skipping sports (3 times a week)
Yes – to go for a run, do Yoga, cross fit, bootcamp or any kind of sports (being active) three times a week, even or especially when I feel exhausted. After all, a run or any kind of sports boosts the energy, it is the skipping it that drags down!

No – to late bedtime
Yes – to sticking to an earlier weekdays bedtime (light off). My sleep is crappy, somehow somebody always seems to wake me up in the middle of the night in our house and for that I am simply going putting the light off too late.

No – to skipping (mindful) meditation
Yes – to taking at least 5-10min daily. I tend to skip it when I need it the most. And while long sessions may be indeed hard to fit in a short one should not be an issue!

Having said that I am as well experimenting with some detox juices. I want to see if they indeed have an impact on increasing energy and a better well being or are more a myth! If you have tried some please do share them and your experience with me! I am looking into those with natural ingredients, no pills or ready made mixtures! And preferable with no bananas.

The points above may seem minor to you, especially when seeing them as a single point. But together I do believe those are the areas that can make a real impact on my own wellbeing and those were first ones coming to mind!  And looking at them, they cover the areas of nutritions, exercise and more sleep. All main aspects for a better well-being!

Common sources like too much coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, sugary juices, processed food or lack of water can play a big part, too. But on that front I am doing pretty well, therefore I do not see a need for adding them to my list.

While I focus mainly on what I eat and exercise this November, I believe there is always room for improvement. For example in regards to time management, spending time with friends and family, social media behaviour, de-cluttering, procrastination, and so much more!

Why not take some time today and reflect how you feel and where you see some points for improvement for yourself? Create your own “No-vember” list and feel free to share with me!

This No-vember I invite you to join me to strengthen body and mind
by saying “no” to habits, behaviours and things that don`t do you good! 

To a healthy, strengthening November!

Have a lovely day,

AK

The energising breath

IMG_0235

Often, and especially at Yoga, we talk about breathing patterns to calm us down, to help us to relax, to unwind. But we can use the breath to engerize, too. I tend to use it at times when I feel tired after a bad night sleep, struggling with jet lag or when I feel exhausted during a work out. It is kind of a quick-fix!

There are several “energising breaths” out there but here I will share my to “go-to” versions.

Attention:  Some breathing exercises may cause dizziness to some people, especially when new to it, or exhausted. If you start to feel dizzy – stop immediately and return to normal breathing!
Do not practise breathing exercises with a cold or when you encounter any other breathing discomfort!

Quick short breathing

  • Inhale normal (not actively) so that the muscles in the chest are relaxed, preferably through the nose
  • Exhale through the mouth with a quick, short exhalation, the upper chest will compress a bit
  • The inhalation will be longer than the exhalation (so an opposite to the relaxation breath!)
  • Depending on how I feel I repeat this quick breathing 10-20 times

I tend to use this breathing during exercise, when I need to get some energy back during a run and such.

Another one is the “Rapid Breath of Fire”. It is a good one to use when you sit comfortable, and need a “pick me up” while you work, study or simply have to go on with the day.

  • Sit comfortable, if you can try to sit tall
  • Relax the stomach muscles
  • Try to keep breathing in and out through the nose only, so keep the mouth closed
  • Inhale deeply through the nose
  • Exhale through the nose
  • Then begin to breathe faster, rapidly in and out
  • Focus on the navel area and pump that area in and out with each breath, pushing the belly button towards the spine with each quick exhalation
  • Repeat 5-15 times

The breath will be shallow to be quick.
Try to keep the in- and exhalation equally fast.

 

Wishing you a lovely day,

AK

 

 

Create a glimpse of mindfulness

Life can be stressful and hectic and we easily lose track of time and what does us good! Add to that the pressure of “you should” – exercise, meditate, be mindful, relax, sleep, read, educate further –  “at least every day for an x-amount” of time to succeed.

Don`t we all already have enough pressure and “to-do`s” in the day to day life? Why not simply embrace that we do something regularly but no matter for how long?

I often speak to others about relaxation, meditation, mindfulness or to simply be. But a lot are put off by the minimum time they “have to” dedicate every day to make it beneficial. I include myself here. I simply can`t dedicate 30-45 min daily. Already thinking that I “have to” makes me edgy – already working against the whole purpose of doing it. So in the past it ended for me in barely doing anything. Yet knowing that it does me good and I should do something. Leaving me frustrated. And so the dilemma begins. Can you resonate?

So instead of a time pressure I change my mindset and decided that: Doing something is better than nothing.

Until today I barely manage the 30-45 min recommendations but I benefit throughout the day from several “glimpses of mindfulness” as I call them. Just to simply become more aware in normal day-to-day situations and to take a moment to simply be, to notice small things like:

  • listening to the raindrops falling on the umbrella
  • watching the clouds go by and “name” their shapes
  • the smell and feeling of soap on my hands
  • be fully present when brushing my teeth
  • the way the water feels when having a shower
  • feeling my feet strong, firm and grounded on the floor
  • feeling the movement of my feet when I walk (and how it changes on different grounds, in different shoes)
  • simply gazing away into the nothing-ness
  • noticing the trees, the shape and colour of the leaves or the flowers when I walk
  • being really there while preparing a meal, while I cut the vegetables, stir the pot,
  • closing the eyes and really focusing on the sip of the coffee, tea, wine or water
  • experiencing the feeling, sensation and taste of the chocolate piece melting in my mouth
  • feeling the ice-cold drink and its condensation on the outside of the glass on a hot summers day
  • closing the eyes and feel the body sensation while going through the sun salutation sequence
  • or if I can do it I will spend 5, 10, 15 minutes to really meditate!
  • the list of small glimpses could go on…

It is not always easy, especially when one is out and about and busy. But I have a little rattle, a kind of bell in my bag and often when I walk I hear the little sound and it reminds me to slow down, to breathe, to be aware even if just for a short moment – for a little “glimpse”.

And it calms me down, no matter how hectic it is around me.  A moment of full awareness, giving me some great benefit without the time comittment, yet putting me at ease.

Of course a dedicated meditation or mindfulness practice is fantastic and super beneficial, there is no doubt about that. But striving for it during times when we may not be able to dedicate the recommended timeframe to it is wrong, too, I think.

To me, relaxation, meditation, mindfulness or how ever you may want to call it is not only about a certain time frame! It is not only about sitting upright, being still or lying down in a quite room. I won`t argue, that is often the ideal situation. But our situation is often not that ideal. And for me it is therefore so much more important to adapt and to become aware within my day to day life.

To be able to halt, stop, breathe, and to really be present in that moment, in the strangest situation and location! 

So stop looking for the perfect situation. Do not let the lack of a perfect scenario take away from the beneficial experience of becoming fully aware and “mindful” through your normal day. Rather learn to create your daily “glimpses of mindfulness”! No matter where or for how long!
Try it and you will hopefully see how even the smallest moments can put you at ease. 

Have a lovely day,

AK

Have fun and stay fit with a short beep test

Summer holidays started or are about to start. And if you have younger kids you know that means (very) limited time for yourself, let alone sports. Whether with kids, your partner, friends or alone a fun way to keep active and to increase endurance and speed for everybody is the “beep test”.

In short a beep test is a timed interval run of 20m within the beeps and your speed will have to increase by level.

IMG_2482

All you need are a 20m stretch to run, running shoes and a beep test, eg this one on youtube (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L9OTnZI9gYo)

Try it, it is a great way for a short fitness outing with everybody!
“The great thing about the beep test is it won’t take you long at all. The vast majority of people will be done before they reach level 13, which takes less than 14 minutes. If you made it to this stage you’d have run just over 2.5 km, which is equivalent to 1.6 mile.”

More detailed information about the beep test can be found here:
http://www.5-a-side.com/fitness/the-beep-test-a-comprehensive-guide/

Why not use the holiday to track your improvements?

Happy “beeping” summer,

Have a lovely day
AK

A tiny smile can go a long way

Sometimes it is in the most smallest, most subtle things…

IMG_2264

I have to confess that I was doubtful when I heard that we were about to practice the “gentle smile” (half smile) during our Mindfulness training. I immediately had an image of a fake smile popping up. But I soon learned how wrong my perception was and what huge impact this small yet strong practice can have on my own personal well being. All within a short time, all with a simple, barely noticeable tiny smile.

It is known that the facial muscle are interlinked with the emotional part of the brain. Feelings are often linked to our facial expressions. And after a few weeks of practise I must admit that this tiny “smile” does indeed help to feel less tense, less stressed and more at ease. At times it even spreads joy.

image1

For the practise itself I would put the attention onto the “half” smile, in fact, it is even less – no fake smile needed or wanted here!
It is more like a gentle lift at the outsides of the mouth. It is a soft, almost an imperceptible smile. Yet this tiny change of muscles around your mouth can have a huge impact on loosening the jaw, the neck and the shoulder muscles. I even feel my eyes and the “forehead frown” relax. It is like a positive overall process taking place in the face and upper body and eventually spreading all over.

And as for all the Mindfulness practise, lifting the sides of your mouth does not mean you did not have a tough, hard day, that everything is perfect or that you are asked to pretend to be happy, joyful, cheerful!  Not at all, it is simply a little tool to help us to come back to the moment, to be present in the here and now and to release tension if needed. And if you allow yourself to really be present during this tiny exercise you may be surprised about the huge impact. At least it works for me. Why don’t you give it a try right now?!

It does not take more then to simply take a deep breath in and to gently lift the sides of your mouth the tiniest bit when you exhale. Take a few breaths like that or sit a few minutes or longer to experience the sensation spreading further. What ever your time allows in this moment!

As said, often it is in the smallest things!
And this is not a smile for anybody else but just you!

Have a lovely day

AK