I recently interviewed a friend who is becoming a TikTok sensation. She is an amazing person with 30+ years in the fitness industry. I originally wanted to interview Pam about her experience trying out for America’s Got Talent. Then, COVID-19 hit, and things went haywire. Although I am excited to now have 4 stories to talk about, I hate that COVID-19 was the reason for the delay.
Topics we cover in this interview:
Both of our experience in the Fitness Industry, including the “thong” fad in the ’80s and ’90s
Her experience with America’s Got Talent Tryouts
Both of our struggles with the Pandemic: depression, anxiety attacks
Her video that has gone viral on TikTok
Her adventure trying to win a cover shoot on Ms. Health & Fitness magazine that carried a $20K award
In January, I wrote down my top goals for 2019. Attending The Sword Experience was on that list and I can now check it off as complete. Watching the tour dates, I saw they booked a Texas event at the Austin Comic Con 2019. It was the perfect weekend getaway I had been looking for. I bought a Comic Con ticket and booked the event.
Picking up a sword was new to me. I am always looking for ways to enhance my fitness journey and I wanted to try it. I’m glad that I did. The experience made me recognize some areas in my life that I have been struggling with for 6 years now.
I checked-in at Adrian’s booth at the Comic Con as instructed. The team delivered all of the promised benefits for the Gold level of The Sword Experience. (Autographed picture of Adrian Paul, armband for the event, a picture with Adrian Paul, and my bokken autographed the 2nd day.) I had the pleasure of meeting Anise and Beverly, as they revealed that they are amazing and bring a high level of customer care to the table. It is evident they take pride in Adrian and his work.
What is The Sword Experience?
Adrian founded The Sword Experience, as a way to pass on some of the knowledge he learned while working with world renowned action stars, stunt choreographers, and sword masters. To date, the testimonials speak for themselves. Not only has it given people a chance to receive the best sword fighting tips and techniques, training with some of the best sword experts around, but it has also given people a chance to do something different, to improve their fitness, their communication skills, their abilities, along with the chance to do something they may have only dreamed about.
It was exciting and nerve-racking to be in a room full of people swinging bokkens (practice swords). I was feeling a sense of empowerment as we practiced the Attack Numbering system and the Defense Numbering system. Adrian Paul (the founder of The Sword Experience and The Peace Fund, Actor, Director, Martial Arts Expert) and Anthony Buonomo (Teacher from Austin Historical Weapons Guild) were guiding us on our form and footwork.
There were many age groups and many different personalities in the room. The large diversity of the attendees and spectators was surprising. Each one of us had personal reasons for being there. Mine was to step out of my comfort zone and investigate the adventurous side of myself that I have tucked away.
We learned choreographed moves that were based on a scene out of Batman Returns. There were different moves in each of the 4 groups. We split up into practice groups and practiced our moves with an attacker coming at us. The feeling of Empowerment shifted to fear. It was a totally different experience with someone coming at you, which changed my frame of mind completely. I now feel exposed and uncomfortable.
The attackers learned the choreography for all 4 groups. They would alternate between attacking a person in each of the groups.
I continued to practice my moves off to the side as they shuffled practice groups in and out. I kept walking through the routine knowing how challenging it was to face off with someone. Anthony was a big help and guided me through my struggles with form and footwork.
After learning and practicing for 2 1/2 hours, it was time to film the scene. I am looking forward to seeing the results of the footage. We all lined up in 3 rows, down on 1 knee. We followed the command to stand, step out and present our bokkens. That was cool to see a group of people work together as a team and perform those moves as a group. Keep in mind we had 2 1/2 hours to learn it and practice it.
Oh, by the way, we were all dressed as Ninjas, except for the attackers. After shooting the opening entrance and the presentation, the attacks began. I had a great time and watching the filming process was actually like working on a movie set.
What I learned about myself
I have been trying to rediscover myself again for some time now. After the event, I did some soul searching and dug into some things that Adrian pointed out to me. He mentioned that I am holding onto stress and tension and instructed me to loosen my grip to let the bokken move with the hits. That stress and tension were holding me back. I wanted to know how and why I went from being confident, and outgoing to becoming a weekend recluse and homebody.
The event ran late and The Sword Experience team asked the Gold Experience attendees to come back to the booth at the Comic Con the next day to have our bokken autographed as promised. This would give me the opportunity to thank Adrian, Beverly, and Anise.
I arrive at the booth with bokken in hand and thanked Anise. She handed me a certificate that stated that I had crossed swords with Adrian Paul and survived. That was a cool certificate. I approached Adrian and handed him my bokken. He asked me if I enjoyed the event and I expressed that I was disappointed in my performance. He seemed confused and asked, why? I started talking and tears started pouring out of my eyes.
Remember, I have been holding back for a long time. Crying is one of those things I hold back on. I try to control my emotions and not let my emotions control me. I felt absolutely mortified by my actions. Adrian was gracious and understanding. As he reassured me, I regained my composure and thanked him and Beverly.
From a fitness standpoint
I have been teaching fitness classes for over 30 years. It was my 1st career and is now my “hobby” career. Before my accident, I taught a kickboxing class 2 to 3 times per week. The bag was a great place to let out the tension from my daily, high-stress job that I held at the time. After my accident, returning to kickboxing was difficult and I eventually gave it up. I currently teach PiYo and Turbo Kick. Both are great workouts but I enjoy trying new things to kick it up a notch.
When Adrian pointed out that I was holding on to tension, it brought me back to my kickboxing days. Punching and kicking that bag resulted in letting all that tension out. Adrian grabbed the bokken, started moving it and instructed me to let it move with the hit to let the tension out. He later told me, during my emotional moment, still embarrassed about that, to use the bokken as a tool to release the tension. In my mind, I went back to the boxing bag and how I used that as a tool for stress relief. Each piece of the puzzle is helping me understand myself better.
By the way, that was an amazing workout! The warm-up started with holding a squat for a minute. Everyone was like, yeah, I can do that. Adrian chuckled and said, “you say that now”. Within 30 seconds the room started erupting with loud breath releases and groaning. It was awesome! By the time we were done with the learning and practice sessions, everyone was sweating, red-faced and in disbelief of how challenging and invigorating it was.
Will I do it again?
Yes, I want to participate in this event again. I am going to continue to practice the attack and defense numbering system and maybe find a local teacher that can help instruct me. Now I know what to expect and it won’t be the first time having a bokken swung at me. That should boost my confidence.
One more thing added to my “Been There Done That” list. Whoop Whoop!
I like to start off my week with a quote and a motivational “to-do list”. When I start with mindful preparation, it guides me through a fulfilling, productive week. My goal is to perform acts of kindness and to partake in motivational, self-improvement exercises.
You Cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is delicate
I recently caught a cold which was more inconvenient than anything. Being sick made me realize how a simple illness can slow me down and derail my success on many levels. I hate it when I get sick. I feel like I am wasting precious time trying to recover. Yes, my body needs the rest to overcome the disgusting bug in my body, but I am a doer and feel totally worthless when I cannot accomplish something.
About the same time that I was sick, one of my grandsons came down with a virus that was pretty scary. He ran a fever, broke out in a rash when the fever spiked, and he complained of his legs hurting. The pain in his legs worsened and he stopped walking, for 4-full days. On the 5th day, I told his mom and dad that they must be freaking out inside. The doctors were telling them to let it run its course. After 5-days of not walking, I realized again, how delicate life is. One day, this 3 1/2-year-old is walking, running, and doing normal things that a young child does, and was unable to them the next day. The virus did run its course and he finally started walking little by little on the 5th day.
After reading that story, I encourage you to go back to the kindness quote at the top of the page and look for opportunities to be kind to your family, friends, and total strangers.
Self Improvement Exercise
This week’s exercise was to create a list of things that motivate me. Once I come up with that list, I practice putting it into action. I take one item and implement it every day for that week. Once I make that push to implement I start to see my accomplishments build up right in front of me.
In the 1st week of January, I sat down and developed my list of goals and dreams for 2019. After I accomplished that, I wrote down a list of things that would have to happen to turn each goal into a reality. At week 19, I revisited that list to see how much I have accomplished. I am pleased to say that 29% of those goals have become a reality as a result, and I have many things in play to see more of those goals through. One of my biggest, career goals, will come to fruition by September! I have completed the steps to acquire 62% of that goal. Because I am taking this mindful approach, all of the goals I set for 2019 will become reality.
The “to-do” lists weekly help me revisit the long term goals, and push me towards completing the short term goals that are in play to accomplish them. If I wander away from this daily project and take my eyes off my long term goals, the progress slows down as a result. It has been at least a month since I last visited my goals and weekly self-improvement exercise. As I reviewed completions, it motivated me to pick up where I left off.
Make your 2019, goals and dreams list today
Don’t wait for the new year to arrive before you make a commitment to work towards your goals and dreams. Get a journal out, ask yourself what do I want to accomplish before the end of the year, and write it down. The next step is to pick one of those goals and write an action plan on steps that need to happen to make that goal a reality. I recommend working through each goal the same way.
There are many online tools to help you develop a goal system. I prefer good, old fashioned, books and notebooks. I get my daily kindness quotes from “everyday kindness-365 ways to a peaceful life”. It was a gift that brings me joy daily.
Spring adds new life and new beauty to all that is.
I have spent some time enjoying the look, the sounds, and the smells of spring this past week. There are so many beautiful things about spring it is almost impossible to capture it all.
Meditating in Nature
I don’t go into a full meditation mode, but more of an observational meditation. I start by the smells in the air and try to recognize where they are coming from. Right now, the Jasmine vines are in full bloom with the wind carrying an elegant fragrance that stops me in my tracks. You may not see the vines but you know they are around with the wind delivering the invitation to seek them out.
I then move onto sight, what am I seeing? Spring grass that is at its greenest; what a beautiful sight. Colorful flowers sprouting up everywhere creating a painting by nature. Water spouts in the ponds casting rainbows in the wind. Baby ducks swimming close together in tow of their mother. Birds flying, butterflies fluttering around, dragonflies zipping by, the list goes on.
When I move on to observing the sounds that go along with smells and sight, it pulls everything together. Sometimes I close my eyes to assure that I don’t miss sounds by focusing too much on sight. Birds chirping and singing is a sure sign that spring has arrived. How many different bird chirps am I hearing? The air is crowded with birds.
What does nature teach us during spring?
Spring is a time of new beginnings. No matter how bad the year before was, spring is always a new beginning. Although nature suffers great tragedy as well as humans, in their wakes, forest fires can give way to new growth. Nature teaches us that even after a devastating loss, we can push through and be stronger than ever.
Spring teaches us that no matter what happens, we have the right to be happy. It shows us persistence and perseverance. It reminds us that life is delicate but we can start anew.
What is your favorite thing about spring? Take a moment, go outside, look, listen, and smell spring in the air. In that moment of observation, get connected with your positivity. Visualize your future and think about the 1st step you must take to start down that path.
Typically, I am a positive, upbeat, happy person. Even on my bad days, I look at the positive side of everything. I try to recognize the position of others and why they behave the way they do. I find it helps me get a better understanding of that person, which drives better decisions on my part, rather than negative, reactive, emotional decisions. When my emotions get the better of me, I end up regretting things said or done at that moment. I would rather walk away, satisfied, knowing that my emotions didn’t control my decisions and/or my reactions. When I act on emotions, I tend to get angry, which drains my energy. Energy is precious to me and when I let negativity inside, my energy is zapped and I go down a rabbit hole of desperate thoughts and I follow up with a dose of emotional eating.
I once heard a speaker that said something which made sense and stuck with me for years.
your thoughts trigger your emotions
when your emotions are triggered, they trigger your actions
and your actions trigger the results.
That bad day
Recently, I had a bad day from start to finish. I did a great job of controlling the urge to get angry. It started with little things like having butterfingers, dropping things at every turn. (This happened to be a Monday: no prejudice on Monday’s, just saying. :>)) I had a full day of conference calls scheduled and was starting my day off frustrated. I shook it off and drove to my office. On my way to the office, I encountered 2 drivers that were doing their best to continue to challenge me. It resulted in me shaking my head and praying a Hail Mary. Once I arrived at my office, I set up my computer and got myself ready for the 1st call. As a result of my efforts, I felt accomplished that I didn’t lose my cool.
Then, my 1st call canceled. Okay, no worries. I will get ready for the next call. During preparations for the 2nd call, I receive an email from the client with a request to reschedule. Okay, no worries, I will get ready for the next call. It turns out that the next 2 client calls rescheduled as well. Out of 5 scheduled calls I ended up doing 1 call at the end of the day. I was starting to feel like the cosmic energy was working overtime and throwing things at me around every corner. It’s amazing how your mind starts playing tricks on you and makes you feel like I did something wrong.
End of the day
As a result of a rough day, I was looking forward to going home and relaxing. Then, I encountered an angry person. At this point, my will power to keep fighting the desire to explode and scream at someone is getting weaker. I keep telling myself, it’s okay, I am in a bad headspace right now, it’s not as bad as it seems. I get through my evening and go to bed.
I ended that day feeling like I did a good job of not losing it. I also felt like I wasn’t able to get much accomplished since most of my work was rescheduled. But, in the end, I felt successful.
Along comes Anger
I get through the rest of the week without many challenges. Unfortunately, my great weekend went bad fast and I ended up letting my emotions get the better of me. I started this blog last week and decided to finish it up today to close the cosmic energy that is working against me. Keep in mind, I am not superstitious or truly believe that cosmic energy forces are working against me here, but I decided not to leave anything to chance and get this thing closed out. I let anger in yesterday and I realized that I haven’t let it out yet. I am letting anger take up shop in my soul and I don’t like it. So, I am here telling this anger to get out. I don’t have room in my soul for anger. I am sweeping anger out of the door to my soul.
How do you sweep away anger? Do you recommend any mindful tricks to help us keep our emotions in check?
Drinking water helps decrease the desire for other sugary, high calorie drinks.
What type of Water is Best?
Water that does not contain sugar or artificial sweeteners is best. Excessive consumption of artificial sweeteners can stimulate hunger. When that happens, it can derail your health goals and eating plans as a result.
How Much Water is Enough?
Making changes gradually can help reduce the daunting affects and help contribute to permanent success. Start making small increases. See what works for you. A doctor or registered dietitian can help you determine the amount of water that is right for you. I have included a quote from the Mayo Clinic’s website below as a reference.
How much water do you need?
Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food. About 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks. What about the advice to drink 8 glasses a day?
You’ve probably heard the advice, “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.” That’s easy to remember, and it’s a reasonable goal. Most healthy people can stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than eight glasses a day might be enough. But other people might need more.
Factors that influence water needs
You might need to modify your total fluid intake based on several factors: Exercise. If you do any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to cover the fluid loss. It’s important to drink water before, during and after a workout. If exercise is intense and lasts more than an hour, a sports drink can replace minerals in your blood (electrolytes) lost through sweat. Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional fluid intake. Dehydration also can occur at high altitudes. Overall health. Your body loses fluids when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Drink more water or follow a doctor’s recommendation to drink oral rehydration solutions. Other conditions that might require increased fluid intake include bladder infections and urinary tract stones. Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. The Office on Women’s Health recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 liters) of fluids a day.
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I have a good understanding of what triggers my night time eating but, I still fight it when I do not go to bed by 9:00 pm.
Findings from the International Journal of Obesity
The International Journal of Obesity conducted a study to better understand why evening hours pose a high risk for overeating and unhealthy snacking.
Blood tests were used to measure stress and hunger hormones, but participants also related their subjective levels of fullness.
Researchers discovered that the time of day significantly influenced hunger levels, with stronger perceived appetite in the evening than in the morning. Eating the test meal later in the day also reduced blood levels of peptide YY, a hormone linked to smaller appetite. Additionally the findings suggested that stress may increase hunger hormones more in the evening than earlier in the day and that hormonal influence on appetite appears to be greater for people prone to binge eating.
July-August 2018 ACE Fitness Journal
One of the suggestions that the article made for people who are vulnerable to late night eating, should be counseled on strategies to overcome the sensations.
What else can we do?
Perform light, evening, cardio exercises to reduce stress: walking, bike ride, etc.
Consume more calories during the day
Eat high-protein, fiber-rich foods at dinner to suppress hunger
Avoid late night screen time: television (lots of late night fast food commercials can increase cravings), phone time, computer time
Shut down all electronics 30 minutes before bed
Block all light coming into your sleeping area
Remember: I am not a licensed Nutritionist or Life Coach. Any information I share are from 3rd parties. You must do your research and seek direction from your doctors/nutritionists before you make drastic changes in your exercise routines, eating habits, vitamin and mineral intake.
Did you know that your room atmosphere can set you up for better sleep, or even sabotage it? According to an article I came across in the July/August 2018 issue of Health Magazine, you can “set yourself up for snoozing success by arranging the most restful room possible.”
Block Out Noise
“….Even if you don’t wake up, noise can disrupt your slumber and cause restlessness, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and changes in breathing patterns, explains Cralle.”These interruptions can lead to fragmented sleep, which makes it harder to reach the deeper, more restorative stages.””
Take A Whiff
“Create a bedtime ritual…….30 minutes before sacking out is a simple effective way to cue the body to rest, says Sara Panton, essential – oil expert and co-founder of Vitruvi. Not only are there certain scents that encourage drowsiness, but the very act of setting up a routine helps signal to your brain that it’s time to start shutting off.”
Blend of Essential oil Scents that Panton suggests: “7 drops of lavender, 4 drops of frankincense, 4 drops of cedar wood, 2 drops of bergamot.”
There are many different types of products you can buy that emit scents. I am a big fan of natural sources such as plants and flowers. This article suggest diffusing essential oils. I am not making any recommendations on what to use. You do the research and choose a source that best suits you. If you have pets in the home make sure you do the research on essential oils. I am not an expert on the matter but, I have come across some concerns online. Whether there is any truth to it, I do not know. However, I do not recommend any chemicals such as air fresheners, candles, etc. Visit the American Lung Associations website to further educate yourself on common household products that contribute to indoor air pollution.
Stay Slightly Chilled
“Body temperature regularly fluctuates throughout the day-it’s usually at its highest in the afternoon and lowest in the early a.m. So if your room is hot, your body will work all night to cool down-and if your’re sweating, you’re more likely to wake up. The sweet spot: 65 degrees, according to the National Sleep Foundation.”
“Room Stuffiness can hike nasal congestion and hinder your ability to breathe while you doze. Per a study in the journal Indoor Air, people who kept their window open overnight felt more alert the next morning than they did when it had been kept closed. If you live in a city and opening your window exposes you to noise, crack it open for 15 minutes during the day instead. No windows? No problem. Invest in a plant like a peace lily, which naturally purifies air. ”
Dim The Lights Early
“Not only does light send “stay awake” alerts to the brain, it also has an effect on circadian rhythm” (read my blog on When to eat, when not to eat to better understand the circadian rhythm) “which controls your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, explains Lawrence Epstein, MD, assistant medical director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Brightness also stops the production of melatonin (the tired hormone), suppressing your sleep signal. While you actually kill the lights when you get in bed, you actually need to dim them much sooner. Switch from overhead lights to lamps around dinnertime to help your body wind down.” by by
Recently, I had a conversation with a client, of my PiYo class, about the #Circadian rhythm and how she lost 8 lbs. following the 12-hour eating rule. It prompted me to reflect on when I am at my best in eating habits and at my best weight. The science behind it makes sense to me and rings true with what I find in my habits. If I eat late at night, I tend to gain weight and my sleep suffers. When I cut off my eating, I drop body fat and sleep longer. I crawl into bed earlier, fall asleep faster and wake up early feeling energetic. I don’t hit the snooze button on those mornings.
I came across this article that helps explain the #Circadian Rhythm and how it affects our health. If you give a try, please leave comments here, on Instagram or Facebook. Did it help you sleep? Did it help you drop some body fat/weight? Are you more energetic?
Trying new adventures is exciting for me. I look forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing new adventures, new food, and meeting new people. My experience was amazing and I hope you enjoy reading about my stay at Travaasa Spa and Resort, Austin, TX (now Miraval, Austin).
Stand-up paddle boarding
I remember relaxing at the edge of the infinity pool, looking out over Lake Travis. The water was beautiful and inviting sitting at the bottom of the valley the pool overlooked. After closing my eyes I visualized a memory that I had while relaxing (click to read that story). Upon opening my eyes, I decided to figure out what the rest of my day was going to include.
Stand up Paddle Boarding was my choice for the day. The water in Lake Travis was beautiful. The view from the top of the hill at the resort’s infinity pool enticed and called me to participate in the excursion that I noticed on the event board for the day. It would be an adventure that I could write about.
We launched our boards and I started in a kneeling position to paddle into a nearby cove. I followed my coach’s instructions on proper feet and body placement on the board, to make the transition from kneeling to standing. What happened next was a huge surprise to me.
Fear stepping out of my comfort zone
“Fear” set in; I stepped out of my comfort zone. Balance in my PiYo class is completely different than balancing on a board in the water. I was always comfortable on the water boating, skiing, fishing, trawling, and swimming. The fear surprised me.
Running all of my Coach’s instructions through my thoughts, I worked towards connecting on a physical and cognitive level. Going back to my boating days, I kept Imitating the body shifts that I would make to keep my balance. I struggled with the technique as my Coach kept walking me through it and encouraging me. He inspired me to let go of the fear and relax through the motions. Enjoy the scenery” he said, and “if you feel like you are going to fall, just fall into the water, don’t try to catch yourself.” -I am happy to report that I did not fall.
Soaking in the scenery-creating new memories
Upon exiting the cove and heading to our destination spot, I was able to work through the challenges and really connect my body to the movements of bending my knees, leaning forward and pulling the paddleboard across the water. I found the most challenging part was the steering. As my balance improved, the steering kicked in.
Along the way, I soaked in the scenery. The aquamarine-colored water was clear as day. In amazement, I watched Garfish swim up to the surface only to dart back down after seeing me. I watched water plants as my board glided over them. The hillside that we were heading towards grew larger with each stroke moving me towards it. Curious bystanders were everywhere. I paddled my way past some anchored boats. Their passengers were enjoying the cool water with their friends and family, on big floating islands. I saw Jet skis zipping around the middle of the lake, causing wakes that we had to maneuver our boards across. Pulling out of the marina, there were tour boats filled with adventurers wanting to share and enjoy the environment. I could hear screams from a nearby Zipline excursion that were exploding, and echoing off the hills which traveled across the water.
Precious resource returned to its glory
It occurred to me that on my first trip to Travaasa, this very lake that we were all enjoying, was completely dried up due to a 5-year drought. The thought of this beautiful, precious resource completely dried up and gone saddened me. It reminded me, once again, how delicate life and nature truly are. So, that day, I lived in the moment, appreciated the experience, felt empowered by my success, enjoyed the company of my fellow adventurers and thanked God for every moment and for restoring this precious resource.