A little perspective on how to speed up recovery time

This past week I’ve been recovering from a surgery where I had a gum graft done (that’s where they take a portion of skin from the roof of your mouth to essentially cover over the gum area of the tooth where you have a receding gum line. Exciting stuff, I know.) Anyway, I’ve been resting the last four days. But by today, the fifth day, I wanted to begin doing something to mentally and physically to remind myself I’m actively on the road to recovery.

You might think that getting back into weightlifting would not be the wisest move. But, thankfully, I’m fortunate enough to have a coach that listens to me and understands when I need a little push and when to prescribe just the right amount of “recovery work” to get my heart rate up and the blood flowing through my muscles.

Recovery is a funny thing, you see, because it’s a balance of getting enough rest and enough moderate physical activity to begin regaining strength. The trick is not letting yourself play the victim.

Mentally telling yourself you should continue to stay in bed. Mentally ignoring the healthy, nourishing foods that will aid in your recovery and instead eating fast food. Those can quickly become your reality if you let your recovery time become a crutch.

A quick aside, I am in no way overlooking your doctor recommended and necessary recovery time involved for any kind of major surgery. However, the general point I am making is that it can be all too easy to fall off the wagon…and stay there. And when that happens, you’ll have to remind yourself that you can also get right back on at any time.

Low intensity exercises are helpful during a recovery period because not only are there physical benefits of increased mobility and building strength but it also gives you perspective to know you can become strong again. You can’t think about it.¬† You have to do it.

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fitness as a form of recovery @courageperformance

A few more quick things you can do for yourself:

  • Eat healthy foods that have protein, for me it was soft foods like scrambled eggs.
  • Stay hydrated mixing it up with fluids like water/Gatorade or cold green tea. Try adding honey. It’s a natural healing element.
  • Use a humidifier at night
  • Call your mother ūüėČ

The universe rewards action. The more you can make small adjustments taking action towards a known goal, the sooner you’ll get what you want.

Why ‘La La Land’ Should Have Won Best Picture

La La Land’ encapsulates what it means to reconcile with the choices we make, bearing witness to outcomes that could have been, and in spite of this, owning our story and making the best of the choices we’ve made. This helps us move on in pursuit of becoming the best version of ourselves.

There’s something about being in Los Angeles and the entertainment industry that always reminds me of the importance of storytelling. And while Tinseltown itself is built on the art of storytelling, it reminded me of how we are all writing our own individual stories.¬† The best stories, I find, are the ones that allow you to aspire to be something bigger than yourself yet they’re also a reflection of your reality.¬† It’s one of the reasons I felt La La Land should have actually won Best Picture. It gives you the fun, the romance, the fantasy but ultimately the story presents a reality few would have expected from what appears to be a musical.
Maybe it was the fact that we watched the opening dance scene several times but my weekend visit in LA, the weekend of the Oscars, felt like a mini version of La La Land.
Saturday was spent catching up with my dance partner and his friends over brunch while the screener DVD for La La Land played in the background and all of us kept bursting into partner dances in the living room at random intervals. What fun! If one scene of my life were a musical that would have been it!
But it wasn’t until Sunday evening at an Oscar party with college friends that I became aware of how my own script is still playing out. Watching others at the party with romantic companions and my university friends now managing squirming kids I thought about how things could have turned out very differently for me. ¬†
That moment of retrospect was what resonated for me when watching that same experience happen to the female lead in the third act of the film.
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This is where Mia (played by Emma Stone) walks into Seb’s Jazz Bar now owned & operated by her former romantic interest (played by Ryan Gosling #swoon) and sees him on stage about to play a set, his dream of being the club’s owner finally realized. It’s bittersweet because their paths crossed, but they ultimately don’t end up together. And yet, Mia still gets a happy ending with a companion, a family, and a career just not with whom she thought it might all be shared with.
There’s something to be said for a movie that can present this kind of balance to today’s audiences. Indulging our aspirations but also layering in the idea that there can be multiple pathways towards attaining professional success, love and happiness in life. If we’re brave enough to be open to it.
The single reason La La Land should have won Best Picture; it’s a movie about real life. We’re all works in progress but we can change the script. It starts with choosing to show up, be vulnerable, and make the best of the choices we make.

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

She told me
“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us”

Two main ingredients: salt & love

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I got to have dinner with a chef the other night. It was fun to see a completely different perspective on food, its taste and presentation — all the stuff you take for granted after awhile. It was kind of like sitting next to a director while watching a movie. You just know this person is going to see things in a different way because of their relationship to their trade.

At one point he said, “food really only needs two main ingredients.”

Besides bacon and…? “And those would be?”

“Salt and love.”

OK I’m intrigued. “Love, you say? So, I’m curious, how do you put love into a dish?”

I’m paraphrasing now but his answer was about infusing intent and purpose while¬† preparing the food; cutting the little eyes out of the potatoes and making sure it gets chopped into even cubes.¬† And it made me think about how simple and complex the ingredient of “love” is because it’s energy, it’s something that gets added in its own unique way to everything. If you think about it, as human beings, we all inherently have this ingredient. Now, about that dash of salt…

How I’m learning to get over my fear of failure

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Let me give you steps of a completely different kind because there is no checklist to getting over your fears; there are no shortcuts here. For what it’s worth, I’m learning it has more to do with leveraging a balance of mental and physical strength. Getting into a routine that helps you build physical strength and mobility is undoubtedly going to do wonders for your confidence, body, health etc. But in addition to that, there’s the “health” and strength of your mind – specifically your thoughts.

The mental work will be largely based on personal preference, but here are some good places, I’ve found, to start:
1.¬† “Practice Focus” Episode 5 – Living with Courage podcast.
2. “Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life” by Susan David, PhD.

It’s normal (evolutionary, even) for us to feel fear. But what holds us back is the fact that we can cling to fear and accept it as reality. For weightlifting, it can be a thought like, “the weight that’s on the bar is heavy. I can’t do it.”

Now, I’m not going to step up to attempt a lift on a loaded bar of weight I’ve never lifted before because that’s not a good idea; you need to be training and building up to the weight (listen to the podcast). But, there is a way to create a new mental pathway that can help in your practice. It comes from “distancing [yourself] from both the physical effects of [your] fear–the cortisol surge, the accelerated heart rate, and the hyperventilation–and from any self-doubting narratives that might have already hooked [you]…” Learning to acknowledge yet distance yourself from your emotions and connecting with why you actually want to do something is how you learn to go forward in spite of the fears that are holding you back.

It may not be okay right then and there. But it will be okay.

You can lift the weights. You can engage in the difficult conversations with your significant other. You can speak up in a company meeting. You can do these things with your fear and the internal self doubt and still go forward.

It’s not about being fearless but having the courage to go forward with both your fears and your values on board because it’s intrinsically important to you.

The secret of competing against yourself

It’s the start of a new week. One that transitions into the next month of the new year, for that matter.¬† Hopefully you’re getting excited for what is in store for you and all this week has to offer. I wanted to share some perspective from a video I watched today. It was a compilation of talks outlining¬† Simon Sinek’s 10 Rules for Success.

In my opinion, the best part was where he talked about how the goal is not to outdo anyone (i.e. getting more followers, more likes etc.) but rather, how to outdo yourself.

“It’s about how to make sure the work you’re producing is better than the work you produced before.
You are your competition.”

I thought that was an incredible reminder of what is really important.¬† How many times do we keep ourselves from starting something because we compare ourselves to someone else who is doing what we want to do? We look at the number of followers someone has on Instagram and think, “wow. I could never get 11.5K followers…” (they might be fake! But that’s another story). We psyche ourselves out because we compare ourselves to others but what we really should be doing is playing against ourselves.

Sinek goes on to say, “Finite players play to beat the people around them. Infinite players play to be better than themselves.” And this works on both a professional, “how can we produce a product that was better than it was last week?” and personal level, “how can I become a better version of myself today than I was yesterday?”

Because once you realize that finding joy in what you’re doing comes from the moments when you recognize that you’ve accomplished something, that you’ve made progress, that’s the long-term view that will keep you in the game.

“Joy comes not from comparison but from advancement (of yourself).”

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There’s one more piece to add onto this. Making any shift or change in your own perspective requires one key ingredient. The real secret is having your own internal motivation to do so. Your own ‘why’ in terms of why you’re doing X.

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When you have that piece of the puzzle, you’ll actually do it. That’s the real secret to sustainable motivation in work and in life.

You create your own happiness

I’ve had this quote tapped up to my bathroom mirror for a bit. And it’s a good one because…

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it centers you with the responsibility of creating your own happiness each day. But it’s also good to temper this expectation because while you’re responsible for your happiness, it’s truly a balance.

Sometimes saying ‘yes’ to a random night out with friends is a break from your routine, or getting out and exploring a new part of your city gives you the confidence to be more adventurous in other areas of your life. Happiness is not found in these things, but rather in how you show up to every new experience or planned event.

 

How To Own Your Power

Sundays are a great day for getting perspective, reflecting on your goals, and also just getting things done. Especially on this rainy Sunday in January, I wanted to share three inspirational messages (one podcast & two videos) which I came across recently that you can listen to and infuse more reflection time into your otherwise “mindless tasks” like laundry or cleaning up around the house. On a heavier topic, the two videos are more conceptual, and will hopefully challenge you to become the person you’re meant to be and offer practical tips on developing self confidence.

First up, I’m loving the newly created podcast from my friend/mentor/coach Josh Courage. This is episode 3 of his series, Living With Courage, where he talks about developing true strength and power in your fitness through form and maintenance. For me, I had the awareness that this will be the first year I’m not dancing competitively in ballroom and instead developing myself in other areas staying active through CrossFit and Olympic Lifting. So I’m swapping out training in the International Standard style of five dances (waltz, tango, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, quickstep) and focusing on strength training and improving my form as it relates to the 5 core lifts Josh talks about (dead lift, squat, press, clean and snatch). Hopefully, this inspires you to pick up a barbell too.

Podcast – Why I Think Barbell Training Should Universally Be Used
https://soundcloud.com/josh-courage-145844561/lwcepisode003

 

The idea of creating and becoming the best version yourself is fascinating to me. In this video, McHugh says that the common thread in successful individuals is that they have nothing in common. “These are individuals who’ve managed to figure out the unique gift that the universe gave them when they incarnated. And then put that at the service of their goals. I think that we all come complete. We come complete with one true note we were destined to sing. And these are people that managed to figure that out. And it doesn’t dictate your choice of job; what it dictates is how you do it.” Therfore, the simplest and probably most complicated question you’ll ever ask is “who do you think you are?” She deconstructs this idea further in the eye complex. You can skip ahead about 14 minutes into her talk for this portion and these highlights:

14:07 – Perception – understanding yourself in context and the “approval addiction” we suffer from.
15:32 РPersona Рthe adaptive part of yourself. This is the part of you that keeps moving and changing.  Your job is to continue becoming better at being who you already are.
17:30 – Ego – the thing/thoughts that might stop you from becoming the person of your dreams. She talks about how developing an inner state of mind that’s impervious to the extremes of your ego; on the good days and the bad, will help you weather the internal storm.
23:06 – Self – your life is your message.

TEDx Talk – The art of being yourself – Caroline McHugh
https://youtu.be/veEQQ-N9xWU

 

Finally, this one is fairly quick (TRT 13 minutes), fun and contains a very practical message on how to train yourself to develop self confidence. When we loose the belief in ourselves, we’re lost. There’s no silver bullet, but there are tools and a process to try:

  • repetition, repetition, repetition.
  • squashing negative self talk & reaffirm your self-affirmation.
  • remember who you are – make a list of all the things that make you great.
  • praise the positive behavior – in your kids, in athletes; catch them when they’re good.
  • self confident people interpret feedback the way they want to.

TEDx Talk – The skill of self confidence – Dr. Ivan Joseph
https://youtu.be/w-HYZv6HzAs

So that’s it. Happy Sunday, everyone! Here’s to getting things done that physically build confidence and mentally feeding your brain so that you really do believe in yourself.