ZUMBA Class and This Blog’s Two Year Anniversary – an Expression of Gratitude 

Warning:  This may NOT be funny. This blog is about “Gratitude”. ” and I don’t know that I can make this funny.  April 22, 2015 is my two year anniversary of going to ZUMBA class. (And a little over 6 years of tango and almost 7 of yoga, all while gradually changing my diet and habits). I started writing because I was encouraged by friends who thought some posts in which I was humorously dealt with all my shortcomings, foibles and challenges were funny. But, I owe whatever progress I’ve made, and MY inspiration  to so many people, so many of YOU, that I write today to express my gratitude.

“Gratitude” may not be the most powerful energy on the planet, but I think it’s in the top three. I’ve tried to work as hard the last 7 years on the inner me as the outer me and I’ve found gratitude to be one of the best therapists on the planet.  It is hard NOT to be happy, joyful, peaceful, kind, or compassionate if you’re grateful.  It’s a terrific, almost immediate tonic for the unavoidable sadness, depression, grief or malaise we all must experience as humans.  While I’m not saying there is not value to “rest” in these emotions, when you decide it’s time to let go, there is no better single tool then gratitude.

I claim no credit for these concepts, there are hundreds, if not thousands of blogs, articles, stories and books on the subject of gratitude and starting a gratitude practice.  There are many variations but all you have to do to start a gratitude practice is once a day, think of one thing you’re grateful for.   Then think of one more. There are myriad suggestions for how many a day, but start with one. As you practice, you’ll set a number for yourself as you get better at it until you find yourself being grateful a good part of the day.  If you’re struggling to think of one thing, do not despair.  Whether or not you have good health, a roof over you’re head, family that loves you, a job, a beautiful flower outside, you’re alive. And if you can’t be grateful for that, you have choices. And there is so much to be grateful for- a blue sky, a warm breeze, random acts of kindness, a smile from a stranger, the ability to help someone else- it’s almost infinite.

So, here in no particular order is my list of things I’m grateful for, as thanks to all who have helped: my friends, my instructors, my classmates, my dancing partners, strangers with a kind word or smile, my readers (both of them)( you knew I couldn’t resist at least one quip), and all those who’ve inspired me.

I’m grateful for:

  1. Quitting smoking,
  2. Losing 30 pounds.
  3. Having stomach muscles, again.
  4. Yoga, ZUMBA and tango, in general.
  5. Yoga for teaching me self acceptance, patience, peace, the joy of the journey and the struggle, balance, mindfulness, upper body strength. Breathing, and the joy of slow but steady progress.
  6. Tango sor teaching me balance, grace, creativity musicality, and the joy of doing something that I’m not really good at. But passionate about.  You don’t have to be the best to enjoy yourself.
  7. Zumba for joy, stamina, balance, a better heart rate, musicality, rhythm, inspiration and motivation. And ZUMBA women. 😉
  8. Supportive friends.  
  9. Kind words which have motivated and inspired me
  10. My classmates- Zumbaranions rock!
  11. My chiropractor. 😉
  12. My doctor for 30 years. (That guy deserves a medal. From somebody.  For something).
  13. The amazing ability of the body to change and heal even considering what I’ve done to it. 
  14. Meditation.
  15. People who say stupid, judgmental or ridiculous things for teaching me patience, tolerance, forgiveness and non attachment.
  16. My daughter whose own 150 pound weight loss has inspired me in so many ways.
  17. For learning but not always practicing, that every moment is a gift, and it’s called “the present”  The actual quote, “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, Thats why it’s called the Present” is attributable to many people as the first author.
  18. Failure for teaching me persistence. Compassion for others, gratitude for successes, motivation, and self reflection.
  19. Giving up dairy, wheat, carbs and sugar.  
  20. Learning to eat vicariously.  (If you saw someone smiling at you while you were eating the triple fudge sundae with chips and chocolate sauce, thanks for the memory)
  21. Choices. 
  22. The belief that everything that happens to me is my own doing and I have the ability to change 
  23. The desire and inspiration to work even harder for my goals and dreams.  80 pounds to go. 
  24. That I’m not out of things to be grateful for- I’m just stopping here.   Ok, and redheads and convertibles. And whiskey and the Kama Sutra. Alright, I’m really stopping now. 


Try a gratitude practice,  the changes you will see in your life are almost immediate. You often hear, tell the people you love, that you love them every day.  Now go tell the people you appreciate, every day, that you appreciate them. 

 

   

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Quitting Sugar or the Descent into Madness. 

I’m sure you’ve read an article (or 779 of them) or heard a news report about the benefits of giving up sugar.  So, I’m not writing about any of THAT other than to point out that while all the touted benefits may be true, any article I’ve seen omits the “descent into madness part”. If you have never cared for sweets and always asked for a second serving of Kale when the cake was brought out and your BMI has never been more than 19, screw you and find another blog.  (Just kidding- but quitting sugar does make you a little testy.  At least for the first 76 days. 

I  quit sugar 75 days, 21 hours 19 minutes ago.  Well, not permanently, but I want to see how far I can go before I succumb to Baskins Robbins. Or Marble Slab. Or Cinnabon. Or a cannoli.  See, that descent into madness. 

You think at the beginning you just need to give up sweets but OOOOHHH NOOOO, it’s not that simple.  Sugar  is everywhere- breads, pasta sauce, salad dressings, KETCHUP….I’m not giving up ketchup, I’m just not.   Is there anything more depressing then reading food labels?  Right?  

Trying to quit sugar is as bad as quitting smoking.  If when you quit smoking EVERYONE around you was smoking, and everything had nicotine in it.  

After about a month, I started hallucinating about ice cream. A lot.  



I daydream about making it another 146 days, 11 hours and 58 minutes till my birthday on August 12, then eating nothing except sugar all day.  Cinnabon for breakfast, cannoli for lunch. Baskin Robbins for dinner. Then the thought make me a little ill.  Ahhhh, the split personality, schizophrenia of it all.  (Yoga class, breath, Zen, peace, love)

I’m sure you’ve heard of the rat, sugar cocaine experiment?   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1931610/

In case you didn’t, basically Rats who were given a mutually exclusive choice between saccharine, sugar and cocaine picked saccharine (or sugar) 94% of the time. This was repeated using Oreos by enterprising research students at Conneticut College. http://www.conncoll.edu/news/news-archive/2013/student-faculty-research-suggests-oreos-can-be-compared-to-drugs-of-abuse-in-lab-rats.htm#.VQosHBj3arU.  I mention this for two reasons. First, in writing this article I discovered, by googling “rat sugar cocaine experiment” that there are numerous side splitting articles on the web which I thought I should point out to you. And secondly, my convolution for this descent into madness is that in none of these experiments, did any of the rats kill the other rats.  I guess I’ll be okay.