My Quest For Happiness; A Reflection of The Past Month

About a week ago was February 1st, the beginning of the month, and it was also Groundhog Day. You might be asking yourself, who cares? Trust me, I feel you; who cares about Groundhog Day? It does seem like a very pointless holiday, however, it helped me piece together all of the things I’ve been learning this month through practicing mindfulness, or presence if you will (yoga, meditation, and writing a personal journal), and through my quest for happiness, which I will now change to my quest for balance. How did this holiday inspire my writing of this piece? Well, I remembered the movie Groundhog Day (1993) starring Bill Murray. This is a very funny movie, that I watched a long time ago with my Dad. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it, but basically the take away lesson of the movie is this; if you don’t learn from your mistakes you are doomed to repeat them. As they say, history always repeats itself, but I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to. In the movie Bill’s character gets stuck reliving Groundhog Day over and over again, and he is the only one conscious of this phenomenon. So he is stuck in his own personal hell, until he finds a way to break free of this cycle of it always being Groundhog Day. This is a very good metaphor for your everyday personal life, because if you think about it, we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. If you reflect on your life I’m sure you can think of the many times you have lost or broken your phone, or the countless partners you have chosen who were never quite right, or just about anything in your life that you just can’t seem to get right. Why is that?

Well, first off, you can’t fix anything that you can’t see. If you’re not aware of this pattern, and I mean fully aware of it, then you can’t possibly fix it. There’s a difference between what you think you know, and what you actually know. You may “think,” you know why you keep doing the things you’re doing, but from my own personal journey, I’ve realized that thinking alone isn’t going to fix the problem. A lot of times, your thoughts are what stop you from being fully present in the moment. Your thoughts aka your fears are what cloud your judgement, and have you in this endless cycle of unhappiness; because what you end up doing is playing out your thoughts in your life, and therefore your fears end up becoming your reality. How do I fix that? How do I escape this “Groundhog Day” cycle of history repeating itself, and of me having a hard time being completely happy? The answer: 1. You need to work on being present in EVERY situation, or at least as much as possible. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the people in your life (good or bad), the opportunities around you, your thoughts, your feelings, the better you’ll be able to make healthier choices for yourself, and the better you’ll be able to find balance and/or happiness. 2. Once you are more present, and aware of yourself, the better you’ll be able to understand your past choices and accept them for what they are. You first need to accept the reality that you are in before you can change it. You MUST be honest about your reality, and who you are NOW in order to make a positive lasting change. If you’re always thinking about the person you should be, or the person you used to be, you will never be happy with the person you are now. You will never be able to change the things that are stopping you from being the person you know in your heart you could be because your head is telling you all the reasons why you can’t. “You can’t run like you used to, so why bother trying.” “You’re so fat, you need to be more like so and so, they have the life that you want.” Your thoughts or your Ego is what is stopping you by telling you stories about who you are, and what you can and cannot do. Even if you “try” to accomplish something in your life, like working out regularly, if you keep calling yourself “fat” for example, if you fail, the blow is easier on you because you have already told yourself you’re fat and so therefore you aren’t capable of regular workouts. You have told yourself this story about how you’re a fat person, and most likely you’re not even aware of all the choices you’ve made in your life that fulfill this story of you being a “fat” person. This is how you get stuck in your own personal hell, or Groundhog Day, and you can never escape it until you realize how you put yourself there in the first place.

It’s so funny, because in a way by writing this article, I’m also repeating some of the words I’ve said in articles that I’ve written in the past about chasing your dreams, letting go of your ego etc. I’ve touched on this subject many times, and each time I have learned something new, but not enough to break through the cycle. Life really does come full circle all the time, it’s as if a kid was scribbling a circle overlapping another circle over and over again. Even this article is coming full circle from the article I wrote at the beginning of 2018 about Resolutions. The only way to not repeat this circle, and to break the cycle is to pay attention to the lessons you face each and everyday. You may have a moment of clarity where everything makes sense, and you feel as though things are finally got things right, you’re on the right path, and then for some reason you lose it. You fall back into old habits. Maybe not to the same degree, but you still aren’t as far along in your progress as you would like to be. The key here is to not let this idea slow you down, because that is all it is. Only you have told yourself that what you are doing, who you are right now etc. isn’t enough. That is your Ego talking. Your ego is the voice in your head that is always talking to you, your ego is your thoughts, and your thoughts cause emotional responses that only reinforce your original thoughts. Both your emotions, and your thoughts will then dictate your choices, and your actions. You need to be mindful of this. This is the first step to breaking through a Groundhog Day scenario.

This may seem simple enough but it’s really not. The Ego does a really good job of convincing you that it is who you are. It convinces you that you are whatever you call yourself, fat, skinny, fit, pretty, ugly, old, poor. It also convinces you that what you “have” is a part of who you are. If you have a spouse, you’re married and that has a status, or if you own a house you are a homeowner, and again, that has a status. These ideas only feed your ego. Your ego will feed on anything in order to help define itself. I have cancer, I’m sick, therefore some people may use that to define themselves as a victim. Either way, having cancer is your reality, whether or not you are a victim is up to you. The situation which is cancer is neutral, it neither makes you more or less of a person. However, the stories that you tell yourself, about yourself do make you feel more or less of a person, but that doesn’t make it true. Also, the situation of cancer isn’t permanent. You can either overcome it, or succumb to it, again this does not say anything about you personally. It just means you’re human. Another example, what happens if you lose the house? Do you lose who you are too? Does it make you less of a person? For your ego, it does. Your ego will have a hard time with this loss, and it will therefore redefine itself through your thoughts and emotions maybe as a victim of loss. Your ego will separate you from the present, it will cloud your judgement, and make this loss a personal loss. You are not your house, your body, your career, and so on. Why? Because none of this shit matters when you die. All of these things are temporary, and when they’re gone the world still turns, and you are still you. All of those things can be taken away at any minute, and so you shouldn’t limit yourself to these things. They have value for sure, and they are a part of your life, but they aren’t who you are. They are a part of who you are, but they are subject to change, and when they do, for good or for bad, it shouldn’t change the person you are.

The problem is, to do that is difficult. You cannot simply remove your ego from yourself, it is a part of you. Especially when we live in a very egocentric world, it can be difficult to break free of this cycle of constantly needing more things, more money, more status, more of everything because your ego is never satisfied with the now. Once you have achieved a goal, or something good has come into your life, it is very easy to then slip back into the cycle of looking forward to the next big thing instead of being appreciative of what is happening now. This is unconsciousness. Never being present. Always looking to the future for more, or dwelling on the past. You are never satisfied with who you are now, because who you are now is never good enough. You are living in a constant state of scarcity or lack. And social media feeds your ego even more so than almost anything else we have in today’s society. It is a big reason why so many of us feel unhappy. First of all, most of us only post photos of the things we’re proud of, the things that make us feel good about ourselves. This boosts our ego, “look, I’m fit,” or “look I have a new house.” Then other people feed our egos by liking or commenting on our photos. This approval makes us feel good, our ego needs that and will then post more photos like it to get the energy it needs. However, as most of us know, none of that is real. A lot of it is filtered and it is only a fragment of our lives, so why do we put so much emphasis on it? Why do we care so much? Simple answer, our ego. Even negative feedback is still a reaction, your ego is still getting attention and will then fight back in order to reinforce itself. Either way your ego gets stronger. Basically, there is nothing wrong with wanting to share things on social media but be mindful of why you’re posting it in the first place. Do the likes and comments on your photos matter? Is it ever really satisfying? Because if it was, then we wouldn’t always be on it, always posting, always seeking more attention. Even if you don’t post much on social media, a lot of us use it to measure ourselves up against others. Again, this only keeps you in a state of lack, and it never moves you forward. You never grow, and you never end up where you want to be because you’re so focused on what you don’t have.

Like I said in my first article of 2018, “there’s no such thing as a life that’s better than yours,” Love Yourz by J.Cole. There is always going to be someone out there who seems to have more, who is more, but you will never know what you have unless you stop looking to others as a measure of your own success. “There’s beauty in the struggle,” again a quote from the same song. Basically, there’s beauty in the present, you just have to wake up and smell the roses. Be grateful for what you do have, appreciate the love in your life, and then share that with others. These are the things that are pushing you forward. The more you open your eyes to the things, the people, and the opportunities around you the happier you’ll be. It is so much easier to see the ego in others, and therefore it is much easier to pass along good advice. However, a lot of times those same people are a reflection of the ego in you. You tend to gravitate to the people who share the same thoughts and opinions as you, so a lot of times, those people also share a lot of the same fears as you. The ego that you see in them you can also recognize in yourself, that is why it’s so easy to see it in the other person. Hence the Alice in Wonderland quote from my first 2018 article “I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it.” Usually the advice you give to others is the same advice you need to hear yourself, the problem is you were to blinded by ego to see it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all need to pay more attention, or else our egos and life in general are just going to get the best of us. I know this, because ever since I’ve made a conscious effort to be more present, I’ve realized how much of my life I haven’t been present. Always in my own head. I used to joke about it with family and friends that I sometimes live in La La Land. I never really thought of it as a problem, I just thought it was who I was. Alex just lives in her own world sometimes. But that’s not true. I’m not the only one who does this, and it doesn’t have to define me. Because living in a dream state, worrying about the future and fretting about the past alienates you from the present. Your thoughts can consume you and take you to a different place, and sometimes when you realize that you’ve left this planet for a second it’s too late. Something usually negative has happened to shock you awake, a fender bender, dropping your phone, breaking a glass, all usually occur because your head wasn’t in the game, you were distracted. More and more people are no longer living in the present. Distracted driving is a real thing. Our phones, social media, only feeds our thoughts, and fears. They help in keeping us distracted from the things happening right in front of us, instead we are worried about our next meeting, a deadline; constantly fixated on the things we need to do, to have, or accomplish. Fender benders, breaking your phone are just small examples, but a lot of the things that go wrong in our lives are because of us, whether you’re ready to admit that yet or not. Obviously, you don’t have control over everything that happens to you, but if you look back and you’re really honest about your mistakes, a lot of the time, it had nothing to do with you skills, or knowledge, it was mostly because your head wasn’t in the game. The moment you realize that “you” or the person who you think you are isn’t the problem, but the thoughts and fears that you constantly replay in your life are, that is when you can really make positive and lasting changes in your life. Why? Because the choices that you make out of presence, and mindfulness will come from a place of love and not fear. Presence allows you to separate your fears from reality, it stops you from personalizing everything in your life as a reflection of who you are for better or worse. Good things will happen, and bad things will happen, and only you can control your reaction to those things. However, the only way to make a positive change is to first take a moment, take a deep breath, try to calm yourself down, relax your mind from spinning out of control, and follow your heart. You know what to do, you know who to be, it’s your head that’s trying to tell you “protect” you with fear, but only your heart truly knows pure joy. Fear and joy live in the same space, the key is to live a life with courage. What is courage? Courage is accepting your fears, knowing that they exist and doing what makes you happy anyway. The more aware you are of your own thoughts and fears, the smaller they become, until they fully disappear. You can be and have whatever you want, you need to fully believe this by acknowledging and overcoming your fears. This is what I have been learning, and this is what I’ve been practicing and will continue to practice. This is something that you must strive to do always, if you don’t ever want to live in a Groundhog state again.

 

Image result for fear is a reaction courage is a decision meaning

Sir Winston Churchill


I Stand in Solidarity with the Muslim Community<3

When I first woke up today, I was in a very good mood, minus the fact that it was a lot colder today than it has been the last couple weeks, or the fact that it was Monday, it was sunny and I was so motivated for the day! However, it was when I finally got to watch the News today and I heard about the terrorist attack in Quebec inside a local Mosque during prayer time, my heart broke into a million pieces! I couldn’t hold back the tears throughout the entire news cast. Two of the biggest news stories on CTV News Toronto, were of the protests against the Travel Ban imposed by Donald Trump and his regime, and of the terrorist attack in Quebec city. It is so sad to me that this is happening in the world right now, and that it is even happening in my own country. A country that likes to think of themselves as inclusive and tolerant, when this act of violence shows anything but that. I’m at least happy to know that my Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau will continue to welcome refugees and immigrants from the predominantly Muslim countries that have been banned by the United States.

My blog however, was never meant to be a political blog at all, it was meant to share my passion, and knowledge of fitness and wellness with the world, but I cannot stand by and watch these things happen in the world. As a Canadian, and citizen of the world, I am writing this piece for two reasons:

1. Because I stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. I have trained many Muslim clients, and I continue to train Muslim clients, and they do not deserve the hate and discrimination that they have been facing.

2. I have an outlet, which is my blog. I have always made it my priority to use my blog as a tool to help others. It was originally meant as a wellness page, but I believe that it is everyone’s duty to fight for the rights of others, and to speak on behalf of those who don’t have a voice. Basically, I want to use this outlet to stand up for what I believe in.

The Travel Ban imposed by Donald Trump on predominantly Muslim countries like Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia, as well as the terrorist attack committed by Alexandre Bissonnette in Quebec City, both contradict the Canadian and American Constitutions. Both of our countries stand for religious rights and freedoms for all people, however, both of these acts specifically target the Muslim community. No matter what you may believe to know about Islam, it is the second largest religion in the world next to Christianity. Islam, just like many other mainstream religions are a positive outlet for people to connect with God, and to one another. I’m not a religious expert, and I’m not here to school anyone on what the Islamic religion is all about, however, I am here to tell you that it is not right to punish these people because of their religion, and where they come from. You are not punishing the terrorist groups like ISIS by targeting innocent people, which is exactly what both Donald Trump, and Alexandre have done. If anything they are fueling the fire for both the Extremist Islamic Terrorism around the world, and for the Racist, Islamophobic people to continue to commit these sorts of hate crimes, and terrorist attacks. And who suffers the most?! WE DO!!! All the innocent people who die for these hate crimes!

The seven countries that have been “temporarily banned” from the United States are currently suffering from some of the most current humanitarian crises in the world. There are major wars happening in all of these countries, and by not allowing any of these people to enter the States, you are putting millions of people’s lives at risk. Not only in those countries that you have banned them from, but in other countries as well. Instead of trying to help those who are suffering, Trump has sent a message to the world that all Muslims are possible Jihadis. This fuels the hate fire on both sides, and isolates a very large group of people. This sort of hate has spilled over into Canada, and is now made very visible by the death of 6 Muslim men during their prayer service in Quebec. Many Canadians have been very fearful of Trump’s election, and this definitely gives us a reason to be afraid. Trump is the “Leader of the Free World,” and he holds a lot of power and influence, and he is setting a precedent with this Travel Ban Executive Order. He is openly discriminating a specific group of people, and WE are now all suffering the consequences. Even though I may not be Muslim, 6 fellow Canadians died from an act of Terrorism. This very much does affect me. I don’t want to live in a world where I need to be fearful of my life. Where I am not able to openly be who I am, and practice my beliefs, but unfortunately for many of us, this is not a reality. This act of terrorism in Quebec affects all Canadians, and the Travel Ban does as well. If you want to live in a peaceful, democratic country, or world for that matter? Then you must be willing to fight for the rights of ALL PEOPLE!

Thank you for reading this post, it means a lot to me. I know it’s not what I usually write about, but I feel like it needed to be said. I am not happy with what is happening in the world right now, especially with some of the decisions that have been made by Trump, but we must stay positive! It is up to us to fight for our rights, and the rights of others! It is up to us, to take care of one another! We live in a globalized world, where we must work together in order to prosper, isolation, and hate is not the answer! Please keep yourself well-informed, because as the saying goes “knowledge is power.” It is through education that we can eliminate hate, I know how cheesy this last paragraph is, but we must educate ourselves on the people and things we don’t understand so that we can learn to live amongst one another.

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An old photo of me, with two of my Muslim clients who bought me jewlery to wear at my first show! Such amazing people! ❤


I can’t Squat Because….

Lately while teaching some of my Bootcamp classes I’ve heard the following excuse “I can’t squat because…” Now to make this very clear, I am asking the member to do a body weight squat with their hands clasped behind their head as part of their warm up. The most common excuse as to why someone cannot perform a squat is because of their knees… This is very frustrating for me, because these members tend to be very persistent of their inability to perform the exercise, and not to mention I’m teaching a large class. I don’t have much time to explain to them that they literally perform a body weight squat everyday, and I don’t want to single them out in front of the class either. So, I decided to write this blog post to inform you guys that just because you may have knee issues of any kind, this includes arthritis, it does not mean that you can never ever perform a squat. I mean if you can figure out how to poop standing up without a diaper, please give me a call! Because literally every time you sit and stand up you are doing the same exact movement as you would when performing a squat…

Almost everyone is born with the ability to do a full squat like this child. How many children have you seen sitting like this to play?! This is a proper squat, however without proper practice we loose the ability to perform our squats like this…

A squat is a natural movement, it is a functional exercise, and it is something that you do everyday. The problem however, does not necessarily lie with the exercise itself but with your inability to perform the exercise correctly. This is why many of you may feel pain in your knees when you go to sit and stand up. It is very unfortunate the amount of fear that surrounds the squat. It is fear, reduced range of motion, and excess girth that makes the squat difficult and uncomfortable to perform. Just because something is difficult, or uncomfortable, does not mean that you should completely cut it out of your exercise routines, especially when it is something that is so essential to your everyday life! Instead of trying to avoid this exercise at all costs, ask for help! Explain your pain, and your situation to someone who is a trained professional like a physiotherapist, an athletic therapist, or a well trained personal trainer. They can assess your movement pattern, and help you to improve your form and strength when performing a squat so you can either reduce or remove any sort of pain when you squat. Like I’ve said before, you do some sort of squat everyday, so why not learn how to do it properly? Because if you are experiencing pain when you squat, then there must be something wrong, and if there’s something wrong it should be corrected! If it is left unattended your pain will only increase, and your ability to sit and stand on your own will degrade over time. Do you really want to have to hold on to something like a cane so that you can be able to sit and stand?Probably not, but if you are in pain now when you squat, and therefore you refuse to squat, or even break past 90 degrees when squatting, then this will be your foreseeable future sooner rather than later.

#gym #fithumor #squats:

The body is an amazing thing, and there have been so many accounts of people coming back from serious injuries and learning how to move again. So why is it that people think that just because they experience minor knee pain, they can no longer can bend their knees and perform a squat? To me it is illogical, and fearful. You can squat, even if it is assisted or with just body weight there is no reason why you cannot sit and stand back up. I have done a video tutorial on the squat in the past, actually it was the first video tutorial I’ve ever made. It is meant to teach you how to properly perform a squat and what a squat should look like. Watch the video, then record yourself performing a squat. Compare, and evaluate your squat. I have also provided some suggestions on how to improve your range of motion and strength so that you can further improve your form. https://alexrinaldo.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/squat-tutorial-video/  In addition, I have written another article related to the squat, it can also help to provide some insight as to why you are not performing the squat properly and therefore experiencing pain. https://alexrinaldo.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/want-to-feel-more-bootylicious-but-youre-not-seeing-the-results-here-are-some-reasons-why-you-might-not-be-getting-the-jlo-butt-youre-looking-for/

This post is not meant to be rude, judgemental or harsh. I just want to simply open your eyes to the fact that completely avoiding certain exercises like the squat will not help your situation. If anything it will only make your situation worse. As the saying goes “if you don’t use it, you loose it.” This is very true when it comes to your range of motion in the squat. If you never allow yourself to get full depth and range of motion in your squat, you will loose the ability to do so. This is why you must work on your flexibility, mobility, form and strength in your legs so that you never loose the ability to sit and stand. Even if you must start out with some sort of assist so that you can perform the exercise properly, so be it! If you continue to work on it, eventually you will be able to perform a squat completely on your own! Wouldn’t it feel so great to be able to move freely without pain? Well it takes patience and hard work, but it is possible! People do it all the time! You just have to be willing to work through the pain now, so you can be free of it later.