I learned every lesson the hard way.

When I first started teaching fitness 20 years ago, I was an expert in duality. For every good habit, I had a bad one.
I tried to convince myself they neutralized one another. Eventually, I had to admit the truth.

 

My bad habits started outperforming my good ones. The negative impact to my self-esteem and overall health was overwhelming. It took a toll. Each day, I found it harder to define myself.

Who was I? What did I really believe in? Why didn’t my actions match the way I really wanted to live?

Why was it so hard to change?

I felt like a hypocrite. I talked the talk, but only walked the walk part of the time.

My life story was full of deep-seated duality.

I was fortunate enough to have whole foods as a staple growing up. I truly enjoyed them.

It was our family tradition to sit down together and enjoy homemade meals. These included fresh fruits and vegetables harvested from our trees, garden and bought from our local growers. We even foraged for wild asparagus and raspberries.

Simultaneously, I was a little junk food junkie. I delighted in stuffing my face with highly refined sugar, high fat and high salt food items. In the summer, I’d collect soda bottles from the road side to trade in for bags of penny candy at the corner store. I established very early a habit of eating highly processed foods for that quick taste good/feel good reaction.

 
 

As a teenager, the active lifestyle developed in my childhood continued. I loved dancing, playing sports, exercising at the local gym and racquet club and spent hours swimming in our pool. I regularly went for bike rides and took long walks.

My interest continued in nutrition and I read everything I could. This included the labels from packaged and processed foods that were also part of our diet. It’s a valuable habit that remains today.

On the other hand, I had regular bouts of inactivity; binge watching television, reading or playing video games while absentmindedly eating.

I had one friend who I had eating competitions with and overeating was a regular occurrence at our dinner table.

Those years I was busy accumulating bad habits.

When I took up smoking (in my early teens), I was painfully aware of my body rejecting the toxins. I knew it was unhealthy but I thought it was cool. I persisted…the addiction set in. At 14, it was no longer a choice, I had to smoke or else I suffered withdrawal.
Triple, triple coffee (three sugars, three creams) became my beverage of choice and I happily experimented with and abused marijuana and alcohol.

No wonder now that I chronically suffered from constipation, skin conditions, severe mood swings and depression.

In my twenties these contradictory behaviors persisted and along the way some of these “bad habits” and “guilty pleasures” crossed the line.

Then I found my passion. I began teaching fitness part time. The cumulative effect of having these polar opposite behaviors was that my mental, physical and spiritual well-being plummeted to an all-time low. When I woke up to the incongruity in my life I was shaken to the core.

I was willing to endure the short term discomforts of change to enjoy the long term comforts of well-being. I was then ready to accept that this was a path that would continue the rest of my life for as long as I was prepared to do the work.

 
 

The saying – “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” – is true in my life.

I’ve had many teachers and guides in a variety of forms. There were those who helped me learn what I didn’t want in life and others who taught me what I did want ; more often though, a little of both. Each step along the way, when I was ready to change and wanted help, the right support became available. It was just up to me to take it.

I've added many new positive habits and shed many of the old habits that used to plague me. In other cases I've increased existing healthy habits while dramatically decreasing the unhealthy ones.

Today my talk and my walk match. No, I’m not perfect; however, I’m honest about the areas I’m working on. The areas I struggle with, require growth in, am not ready, not willing or completely unaware that I need to change yet.

I recognize the continuum of wellness is active and changing. I embrace the practice of mindfulness so that I remain open to ongoing self-discovery. Teachers and guides remain an important part of uncovering the insights through which I progress. Like-minded people are an essential support. I understand that life experience and additional information creates new awareness and a desire to evolve. I am devoted to continually aligning my outside to my inside. To each day use my given ability to be the best me possible. I welcome the opportunity to share this journey with you.

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