Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Positive Mental Attitude - Nature or Nurture?

         Why is it that some people grow up to have a positive attitude, good self-esteem, and trust the people around them, while other people just wreak of negativity, pushing away anyone who tries to comes close? We were all born into this world naked, vulnerable, and defenseless without any preconceived notions about what would become of our lives. For close to nine months we were safely curled up inside a dark, quiet womb in which we were "one with the universe" and still talking to angels.
Then we were pulled out and brought into a cold, bright room where soon a blanket was wrapped around us and we were put into an incubator or bassinet (traditionally) with a pink or blue sticker on it. 

          This was the first time judgement was stowed upon us, that first moment our mom (and possibly a dad) looked at us and were either happy we were born, sad because we were not the gender they wanted, or maybe thrilled just because we were healthy! Then we were given a name or maybe just "labeled" baby boy or baby girl xyz, put in a room with some other babies who were left to cry until it was time to be changed, fed or monitored for the remainder of our stay in this big, noisy, constantly lit-up building. This was the welcome we got into this thing called life.
          At what point do our mental thought processes begin to differ, making some babies grow up into toddlers who can be content playing alone, and others needing constant attention? Maybe that is the "nature" part...our genetic disposition. An independent child might be praised for being so "good" and for doing things all by himself. This positive reinforcement could cause this child to grow into an adult with enough self-confidence to pursue any goals he sets. A very self-reliant person has a strong belief that he is perfectly capable of successfully dealing with the challenges life throws at him completely by himself, rather than taking guidance from other people or things, and this may make it more difficult to develop deep, intimate relationships. Furthermore, he might resent a person who acts "needy" of others because he is perfectly content being alone doing his own thing.

          What about the child who constantly needs attention from those around him/her? If that attention is not received, would this child act out and misbehave in order to get it? This can cause a cycle of negative reinforcement in which the child grows up to be an adult who not only does inappropriate things to get attention, but is usually rewarded by getting what he wants from those around him who try desperately to avoid bad situations from occurring again. Anyone who has their mood altered so drastically based on the reactions of the people around him is setting himself up for disappointment and is probably more likely to have trust issues, low self-esteem, and therefore a more negative outlook on life.
          On the other hand, what if that child did receive the attention he/she wanted growing up, in a nurturing way that made him feel secure in his surroundings, knowing that there will always be someone there for him/her? Would he be more confident to broaden his horizons and explore the world knowing there will always be someone supporting his dreams and there if he needs them? This person would probably be more likely to trust people, develop close relationships, and have a more positive attitude in life.
          We've all had events in our lives that have caused us to be scared, worried, disappointed or sad from time to time, but given the same situation, each person reacts differently.  What would cause one person to get angry and cause harm to others, such as in spousal abuse, gang fights, or even terrorist attacks, and cause another person to get depressed and become suicidal? Then there are the rest of the people who might initially feel down but then try to find a way to look at the same situation as a blessing in disguise and use this opportunity to make a change for the better in his or her life?
          Maybe our first impulsive reactions to circumstances that occur in our lives are part of our own nature or genetic building blocks, but the way we "chose" to respond to these situations are part of our life experiences, our upbringing, the nurture we had growing up. Of course these are just my own thoughts on the topic.
          I'm a firm believer of "law of attraction" and that we are all just energy on different wavelengths so if you surround yourself with positive people it will help to raise your energy level, just as surrounding yourself with negative people can suck the life out of you. There is plenty of literature and films on "positive mental attitude" available, some of my favorite authors being Napoleon Hill, Deepak Chopra and the late Dr. Wayne Dyer. Anything that increases your endorphin levels (your "happy hormones") will put you in a better mood so if all else fails, turn to comedy and have a good laugh!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Fall Back" Time - Reflecting On the Year


I wrote a blog about Daylight Saving Time and how it effects most parts of the world pertaining to airline schedules, the New York Stock Exchange, daily routines, etc...and can't believe that was two years ago already!
Some people say "time flies when you're having fun", but in reality, it passes by regardless of how you spend it so you might as well try to have as much fun as possible and enjoy the ride! Instead of focusing on how dark the mornings will be when the clocks get turned back, or the extra hour of daylight in the evening, why not use this semi-annual changing of the clocks as a time to reset your internal "mental clock"?
     
As a personal trainer for 30+ years I've heard more excuses pertaining to "lack of time" as to why a person has to wait to start their new workout plan, diet, or other "future" goals. Does "right after the holidays", or "when the kids go back to school" sound familiar?  "Spring Ahead" and "Fall Back" are globally known as a change in almost every one's schedule on the planet. Why not use Daylight Saving Time to reflect and re-evaluate the things in your life you've been putting off or wanting to change? Why wait for January 1st for a new resolution?
     I am also guilty sometimes of procrastinating when it comes to doing things I don't want to do. Sometimes there's a fine line between what we say we WANT...and what we really do NOT want at all. That is the tricky part sometimes...figuring it out! Instead of spending an extra hour tomorrow morning sleeping (which is impossible anyway!) or playing on the computer, I'm going to focus on the things that make me happy and fulfilled and stay away from negative thoughts that bring me down.
    
In the last 18 months I've had one son come back from the military and then the other leave for USAF Basic Training, I ended a 2-year relationship and have since began another, I've been up and down with my weight as well as my emotions, and went from being strong and fit to having shoulder surgery. 
This Sunday, November 1st most people in the world will turn the clocks back and gain an hour of sleep, maybe after some Halloween mischief the night before. What if you get up at the same time spending that "extra" hour meditating or writing out your goals, being proactive in how your future days will turn out? Do you think spending that "extra" hour focusing on your goals can possibly help bring them to you like the "Law of Attraction" suggests?What do you have to lose? You can't even blame it on time! I'd love to get a response from anyone reading this and willing to try this with me tomorrow morning. In six months when it's time for the clocks to "Spring Ahead" we can follow up and reset some new goals!
     You can find my on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as Cindy Fox Fitness #FoxyFIT360Lifestylechange #BeInspired and "Be the person you were born to be"!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Growing Pains of Parenthood...

    
Being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs there is, especially in a single-parent household. The time needed to take care of each person in the house, the emotional support needed to keep the peace, the hours of work to financially support everyone, and the mental battle that goes on in your head trying to figure out if you're doing the right thing takes everything you have inside of you. Then there's the conscience mind that wonders if all of those decisions were the "right" things to do. Although there are so many books written on parenting, there is no "one-size-fits-all" answer since every family's dynamics are different and no two kids are the same.
     I seemed to have developed a habit of using a hashtag on Instagram "MomOf3" when I post photos with my kids. A lot has changed in my family over the last few years, which I know is what is supposed to happen...kids grow up and move on. It seems so much easier to move on when you're the child than it is when you're the parent (or at least it was for me).
   
My oldest son who is now 25 joined the US Air Force full time at 22 years old and went from Basic Training to being stationed  in Germany for 2 years and has been back in my own state just an hour or so away and visits on some weekends. I was fortunate enough to visit him in Germany and more fortunate to have him so close to home and on safe grounds.
     My 22-year old daughter who has also become my best friend is a very talented makeup artist who lives at home and is getting ready to go back to school to be a veterinarian's assistant or something to help save animals. Being a vegan myself who influenced her decision of becoming a vegetarian, I am SO happy that she is choosing this for her future career. I'm also grateful to have an amazing makeup artists living with me to make me look flawless when needed :)
     I got separated in my marriage when my youngest son was 3 weeks old and ironically the same time he became colicky and didn't stop crying until he was about 9 months old. There aren't  a lot of people that can handle a child that screams bloody-murder for months at a time. I don't really know how I didn't have a nervous breakdown under the circumstances, but I've always been a firm believer of "That which doesn't conquer you makes you stronger"...words to live by!
     Somehow I went back to school to become an x-ray technologist at Bergen Community College while still teaching aerobics classes and waiting tables and graduated with a 3.98 GPA. I look back now when I can't sit still long enough to read a chapter in a book and wonder how I did it. Bottom line is...we do what we have to do to take care of our family.
    
So this emotional, wish-washy blog I'm writing today is because I just found out that my 19-year old son whom I thought was just "training" for a few more months for the US Air Force Reserves actually just got an apartment near the base with my older son and will not be living home at least for the life of the lease which is one year (or never again for all I know). I am SO PROUD of how much he has accomplished since he graduated high school a  year ago, (not to mention the car he just bought without telling me last weekend) but am also sad that my baby that was rubbing my arm until he was 17 has grown up so much in the last 6 months, that he really doesn't need me anymore.
     I can remember as a child having pains in my legs that I couldn't describe and my mom would always tell me they were "growing pains" so I left it as that. Now that I am fully grown physically and realize that the mental and emotional aspects of growing are much worse than the physical, I wonder...is this part of a "Mid-life Crisis" or just "Growing Pains of Parenthood"?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Attempt At The "Sexy Crazy Diet" 21-Day Cleanse

    
 
    
     One of the things I love about being a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor is getting to work with a variety of people of different ethnic backgrounds, of all different ages and sizes, with varied fitness levels, both men and women and some with serious health issues who really need my help. I've even had the pleasure of working with some women who were trying desperately to become pregnant and eventually did and who continued to train with me. I guess knowing that I was still teaching low-impact aerobics and sculpting classes until I was 8 1/2 months pregnant (3 times!) gave them the confidence to let me continue training them throughout their pregnancies. Some of my clients have been with me on and off for over 10 years! I now consider them my good friends.
     One of my newer clients whom I already consider to be my friend is Sally Blenkey-Tchassova. She is a beautiful woman from England who came to the USA and started up one of the first Spray Tan Salons in NY frequented by some of the biggest celebrities called Brazil Bronze Glow Bat located in Soho (www.brazilbronze.com). She is also a dancer with her own burlesque dance team called the "Pink Chardonnays", as well as a mom and wife, horseback rider and all around amazing woman. Although our backgrounds are very different, our passion for life, fitness,  and the pursuit for happiness is the same. Sally told me about a great book she read called "Sexy Crazy Diet" written by a cancer patient named Kris Carr, who researched every possible way to make her body healthier.
     I started reading "Sexy Crazy Diet" right before the holidays and although I will admit I haven't finished it yet (due to a crazy schedule and a touch of ADHD), I totally intend on it because it's a very interesting and well written book. Kris Carr is one the the New York Times Best Selling Authors.

"Crazy Sexy Diet comes on the heels of my best-selling cancer survival guidebooks and my acclaimed TLC documentary. Infused with a bit of sass, wit and advice-from-the-trenches style, Crazy Sexy Diet is a beautifully illustrated resource and plant-based diet plan that puts you on the fast track to vibrant health, happiness and a great ass!
Along with help from my posse of experts, I lay out the fundamentals of my Crazy Sexy Diet: a low-glycemic, vegetarian (or better yet, vegan) diet plan that emphasizes balancing the pH of the body with lush whole and raw foods, nourishing organic green drinks, and scrumptious smoothies. Plus, I include the steps of my own 21-day cleanse, and simple but delectable sample recipes." (http://kriscarr.com/products/crazy-sexy-diet/).


     Between the holidays approaching at that time, my past eating disorders that still occasionally  haunt me, and coming out of a year-long "funk" as I call it, I knew I needed to do something different to cleanse my body and mind and hopefully lose a few pounds...and just feel better about myself. Being a vegan made this 21-day cleanse less extreme for me as it may be for most people, as it is mainly a plant-based diet. As Kris pointed out in her book, her pain and suffering from cancer was worse than restricting herself of the foods/beverages she had known and loved.
     This past Sunday was the 21st day of attempting this cleanse. I'll admit I did NOT do all of the suggestions in the book such as a colonic cleanse or using the neti pot to clear out my sinuses. I wasn't even able to cut out everything altogether with Gluten but I did better with some things than I expected, such as giving up coffee (except for the 2 cups I had on the 4th morning due to a headache). I usually drink 3-4 cups of coffee a day and thought that would be the hardest part. I substituted a variety of flavored green teas and black teas that have caffeine which prevented me from having headaches and withdrawals.I might add that yesterday was the first day technically not doing the cleanse and i automatically heated up water for my tea and didn't even realize that I could have had coffee if I wanted! I did make coffee my French Vanilla Dunkin Donuts coffee this morning, but now I know I don't NEED it.
     Aside from this cleanse being mostly plant based, it also recommends cutting out gluten and alcohol. I've never thought of myself as being sensitive to gluten (the protein found in wheat) but since there are several symptoms of gluten that can be misdiagnosed, I figured I'd try to be more aware of what has gluten in it and I tried to cut back with it. "The gluten in wheat, barley, and rye is not safe for people with celiac disease. Technically, some form of gluten is found in all grains, so it's not really correct to refer to other grains as "gluten-free," but that's what gluten-free customarily means: free of wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives. (http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/theglutenfreediet/a/GlutenGrainQs.htm)".  Some of the symptoms are abdominal pain, gas, bloating and diarrhea, as well as a variety of skin irritations and inflammation.
      I've been to dermatologists several times for skin irritations/inflammations over the last 10 years and was told it can be stress-induced or an allergy to "something". I was told to try using Cetaphil (and CVS Brand) facial cleanser and lotion and it has been reduced tremendously! With all of the stress I had been through the last 20 years, I felt at the time this started I was already a pro at dealing with stress, so I doubt it was from that. I've been vegan for about 5 years and always attributed the abdominal bloating and "grumbley feeling" due to the excessive amount of vegetables I eat, but now that I've taken notice to my gluten intake I found that on the days I eliminated wheat products from my diet I didn't feel all of these discomforts.
     As much as I hate to admit it, cutting out my wine in the evening was the hardest part for me. Being as hyper and active as I am all day long, I find that wine is the one thing that helps me to finally STOP doing all of the "things" that I feel I should be doing until I am physically exhausted. Drinking wine in the evening allows me to relax and slow down by 9pm at night. I made a deal with myself going into this cleanse that I wouldn't have wine at home but when I was not home I could, which was still a few nights a week. I did cave in at home a couple times.
     The last element of this diet was adding a "green juice" to each morning and not eating food before noon. It looks worse than it tastes, although I could've added more fruit to make it taste better but I was trying to keep the sugar content low. I'm not much of a breakfast person anyway, but luckily I was given the NutriBullet by Mayor Gonnelli as a gift for my participation as The Naked Cowgirl in last year's Winterblast celebrating Super Bowl XLVIII (http://www.nj.com/super-bowl/index.ssf/2014/01/secaucus_winter_blast_jan_30_super_bowl.html).
This Magic Bullet is perfect for making smoothies and green juices. I used any combination of spinach or Kale, celery or cucumbers, green apples or blueberries, sometimes ground flax seed or part of an avocado, and some of the vegan "Super Boost" that came with the NutriBullet, which includes Chia & Goji (vegan proteins), cacao, and Maca (energy boosters).
     Now that I finished the 21-day cleanse and am a little thinner and definitely felt better on the days I stuck to it, I plan on continuing this healthier diet as much as possible and making it one of the many positive changes in my life this year. 2015 is going to be a great year for me!



Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's Resolution...or Lifestyle Change?

       
January 1st is probably the most popular time of any given year for the majority of people to START new resolutions and make changes in their lives. The question is...how long does that "change" last? I have also made many "New Year's Resolutions" in my lifetime, and also had a ritual of writing in my journal every New Year's Eve since I always stayed home with my kids anyway. Although I used to write frequently in my journal about my goals throughout the year, New Year's Eve was the night to reflect on the past and see if I accomplished any of those goals set the prior years.
          I stopped writing in my journal a couple years ago and stopped focusing on my goals for the future and have realized that without having goals, we do not move forward and grow. If we do not move forward and grow...we shrivel up and slowly die mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I realized I have been through WAY TOO MUCH in my life to get weak now and give up! I have stumbled on a new journal in Five Below while Christmas shopping a few weeks ago and decided it was time to gain control of my life again and make things happen!
          As a great "multi-tasker" with a touch of ADHD I've learned that writing down goals, making lists, and checking them frequently is VERY important for me to stay on track and follow through with my goals and plans for the future. Without setting goals and constantly updating them, it's very easy to lose sight of your own life's plans and desires, which for many can lead to depression.
         
Whether you're trying to quit smoking for the 5th time, staring your 50th "diet", or just trying to finish a project you started 6 years ago (like the book I started!), giving up will NEVER accomplish it...so just consider today a NEW day with new energy to help you get through it and take one step at a time!
          I believe God brings people and circumstances into our lives to teach us certain lessons. Sometimes those "lessons" are not clear and might even seem like cruel punishments that we're not sure exactly what for, but if we keep an open, non-judgmental mind, we might actually learn a valuable lesson that will change our lives forever! We do NOT need to wait until January 1st of each year to have this amazing realization. Now is the time, and it's ALL that we have, so state your goals here and let's do it together!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Life As I Know It...About To Change

   
          
          Do you ever wish you could be in two places at one time or that you need to be two people to get everything done? I remember playing Tug of War in gym class, which is when there are several people at each end of a long rope pulling as hard as they can to get the other team to cross the center line over to their own side, ultimately winning the game. It's a test of strength, endurance, and a lot of determination. Many people give up pulling when their arms get tired causing their team to lose while others keep pulling until their hands are raw from the rope. This is survival of the FITTEST!
     I don't recall always being as hyper as I am now, but that probably has more to do with becoming a single mom with three small children, one who was an infant (18 years ago), and trying to DO IT ALL. I went from being a stay-home mom working part-time as a Fitness Instructor and taking some occasional classes at school, to a Full-time student in an x-ray program, training clients at 5:30am, teaching Aerobics classes after dinner, studying after the kids went to bed so I could maintain my "A" average, and then being a server every Friday and Saturday at the Meadowlands Race Track and every Sunday at Giants Stadium (now Metlife Stadium) for the Giants and Jets games.
I've been very fortunate to always have the support of a good family and true friends, but ultimately, the responsibility is mine.
     I've heard people say "That which doesn't conquer you makes you STRONGER" and I am a firm believer in that. I was very driven and determined when I was growing up. Gymnastics was my favorite thing to be doing at all times and I expected immediately to be able to do everything the gymnasts did on TV. This is a sport that requires you to start early so you have no fear of falling and getting hurt.You gain strength, flexibility, grace,  and the ability to fall over and over again and be able to just get right back up and keep going (a skill that has come in very handy as an adult!).  My first heartbreak was when I was about 12 years old and realized that I started too late to ever be good enough to be in the Olympics. My life today is very similar and one of what I call "Mental Gymnastics".

   
     So now my oldest son is in the U S Air Force full-time, my daughter finished Parisian Beauty Academy and is a makeup artist, and my youngest son just finished high school and is going into the US Air Force Reserves to be a Boom Operator, so maybe things will be calming down for me....yeah right!!! Maybe it's a touch of OCD but it's a good thing I am hyper or I'd never be able to work at the hospital, teach classes or workout, train clients, go to Times Square to be the Naked Cowgirl (in my "spare time"), cook for my son, clean my house, check emails, write an occasional blog....oh yeah, and have a social life! I've just gotten better over the years at "multitasking" and have a tendency to take on more projects than I have time in a day to complete. 


     Some times I really wish there were two of me, someone just like me to help me finish my tasks for the day...but don't we all! I know a cleaning service, a publicist, and personal assistant would definitely help, but until then....keep the coffee coming! It will be interesting to see what the next chapters of my life will bring now that the kids are mostly grown up, both sons out of the house for the most part, and my house being just a female house for the first time with just my daughter, with the exception of my dog Willie who is definitely an Alpha male. I guess this is a good time to reinvent myself, find that peaceful place within, and be open to unlimited possibilities!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Recognizing Addictions And Forming New Habits

         
I've heard people say that it only takes 21 days to break a habit. Congratulations to all of you who can do that! The fact is, every one's brains are different as well as their personalities which are big contributors to their ability to break these patterns of behavior. Some people have a more "addictive" personality by nature than others which make it more likely to form these habits, as well as making it more difficult to break them. Often a person will stop one bad habit, but then substitute it with another equally unhealthy, such as smokers who quit and then turn to food to compensate and gain a lot of weight. Although weight gain can cause all types of illnesses (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc..), it is still a better choice than getting lung or throat cancer from smoking.
           The reality is, habits are easier to make than they are to break. If you repeat a behavior often enough, those synaptic pathways are going to get worn in. The human brain is a very adaptive piece of machinery. Breaking a habit is a lot more complicated, because while parts of those worn-in pathways can weaken without use, they never go away [source: Rae-Dupree]. They can be reactivated with the slightest provocation [source: Delude] (www.howstuffworks.com). Most recovering alcoholics will say that they cannot have JUST ONE DRINK without causing a setback. I know many people who have stopped smoking for YEARS and then for whatever reason smoke one cigarette and are right back to being a smoker.
           Being a person who suffered with Bulimia on and off for 20 years, I've learned that a certain amount of sugar is my trigger which in the past caused me to eat everything in the house and then throw it up to undo the damage. At that point my sugar level was completely thrown off, my self-esteem was shot because I had "lost control" of myself, not to mention I gave myself a hernia and stretched out my abdominal muscles and fascia causing me to need abdominal surgery to repair the damage.
           Although it's been about 7 or 8 years since I stopped being "Bulimic" and had surgery to repair the physical damage, I know I have an "addictive personality" and still have tendencies to eat excessively at times, but I try to avoid my "trigger". Becoming vegan (to help save tortured animals) has actually helped save me from myself since most baked goods/ice cream have eggs or dairy in them and my desire to eat them is completely erased when I picture in my head what the animal went through for those eggs or milk. This is a form of replacing one mental process (wanting the food) with a repulsion for it (imaging tortured animals).      
         Exercise can be an addiction for some people due to the "rush" they get from endorphins (produced in the pituitary gland in the hypothalamus). Endorphins are produced during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm, and they produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being. It consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean "a morphine-like substance originating from within the body." The term "endorphin rush" has been adopted in popular speech to refer to feelings of exhilaration brought on by pain, danger, or other forms of stress, supposedly due to the influence of endorphins (www.outsidetheratrace.com). 
          An example of this is the "runner's high" that keep "runners" consistent, or "endorphin rush" which has the same affect for "cardio junkies" like myself that will start getting depressed after missing two days of a good cardio workout (spin class, kickboxing, high-intensity aerobics, etc...). Many "exercise addicts" cannot stop working out, which is a good thing, but sometimes can be the result of underlying issues such a depression, since endorphins are the "happy hormones" and give a temporary elevation in one's mood (replacing anti-depressant drugs).
          Drug, alcohol and food addictions are very common and therefore have many therapy programs available to help overcome the problem and learn to form new habits to replace the old ones. Even "sex addicts" have therapy to help them since their habits make it impossible to keep a relationship and often lose their families. While researching some facts on "addictions" I came across what is referred to as "love addiction" and not something widely spoken about.
          With love addiction, romance and sexuality are typically beset with painful emotional highs and lows rather than any sort of lasting intimacy. Essentially, love addicts long for that special someone, the one person that will make them feel complete, and they constantly worry that they’ll never find that individual or that they’ll find that person but then be deemed unworthy. Sadly, most love addicts repeatedly bypass opportunities for the truly intimate connection that they think they want. This is because they are much more strongly attracted to the intense experience of dating, falling in love, fixing their partner and riding the highs and lows of the problem relationship than to peaceful intimacy (www.sexualrecovery.com).

          Fortunately, this same habit-forming process that occurs in the brain also works in a positive way to form "good habits". The term "practice makes perfect" is true to an extent. It might not make you "perfect" but it's the repeated actions over and over which becomes a learned behavior that will lead to improvement in that particular act you're practicing.  It's like learning to ride a bicycle. Your balance might not be as good if you haven't ridden one in 20 years but you won't have to learn all over again how to ride one.
          With the Holiday Season upon us, it is even more important to start focusing on goals, self-improvement, and changing bad habits because this is a time when most people are feeling, emotional, excitable, and more vulnerable to caving in to temptations. Starting new resolutions does not have to wait until January 1st!